Weather: A 5 is rolled for Europe and North Africa, so D and E both stay muddy, while F is clear and G remains strangely stuck in a frost. The 2 in East Africa results in the mud clearing, which should help the Allies a bit. All sea zone rolls result in clear seas.
With the sudden discovery that the 27th NR X should be supported (missed a bit of errata), the Allies plan a new special operation in the EA theater. Axis spies indicate the operation is code-named “MIKADO,” but have yet to determine its target. In supplies, we use the 12 GSPs in the Asmara area to supply various units within the immediate area of Asmara-Cheren and Massaua, plus some to the south as well. On the Allied side, 4 small stacks of units in the Soddu to Addis valley are out of supply thanks to the Duca’s movements last turn. All units in Greece remain out of supply and isolated, though Greek produced GSPs ensure special supply.
In reinforcements, first the Allies choose to activate the RN-1 TF (-1 VP). The ME Mar Cmdo II arrives at Alexandria, as do 2 ARPs. These are immediately spent to bring back the killed Well1C unit. 1 Brit Inf RP is used to bring back the second of the sunk Hvy AA II’s at Alexandria, while 1 Arm point is used to return the TC destroyed in the Agedabia battles to the field. The 7th Aus Hq and the Polish Karp Mtn X go full at Alexandria. In the Indian Ocean, a large convoy arrives on map with 2 a/s, 2 Brit Inf, ½ each of Arm, Aus and NZ Inf; the Indian 3rd m Inf X, Layforce, 5th NZ X, 25th Aus X, the MNBDO1 flak/base force, the 57th Lt Inf II and another ARP. In East Africa, a TC is withdrawn back to West Africa, but it comes from the units in the south so that the Belg X can remain motorized. A second convoy arrives in the Indian Ocean, with 2 more a/s, 1 each Col and Ind Inf RPs plus ½ a SA point. One ARP arrives via the OB, plus another for the Italians still having an active air unit. Both are put into the Kenyan command. The South African Mxd F unit converts over to Hurri1’s. Up in the Balkans, another Greek ARP arrives, which allows the destroyed P24F to return to duty. One Mtn RP and a ½ res pt arrive at Athenai. The 1st Arm X conversion is delayed, as is the Glad to Hurri1 conversion, since all Allied units on the mainland are currently isolated (again, due to the Allied desire to not put a supply terminal into Athenai which is assumed to be too risky (really, they just want to keep us from getting 5 VPs later when Athenai falls.))
GSPs are placed at Thessalonike, Athenai, Alexandria and Suez. The fortress at Tobruch is brought up to improved status. Malta goes to a 9 status after a 1 pt repair. The nine Axis bombers that bombed Malta last turn go inop due to their mission. An MC.200 at Benghazi goes inop as well, though I can’t recall why. All bombers in Albania, on Rodi and not inop on Sicily go on naval patrol. Two Ju87B’s at Benghazi stage down to the temp field at 3324 and then fly harassment missions against the two allied boxes at Mechili and 4122. Flak fails to drive off the dive bombers, so the infantry XX’s and supporting non-divs should find it difficult to get away what with Italian zoc’s affecting them as well.
Kufra becomes owned by the Allies by rule. Then, as usual, the phase kicks off with a variety of Allied naval missions. The first sees the GSPs at Thessalonike shipped to Athenai via Greek NTPs. The next has the 43 RPC Cons unit at Tobruch being shipped over to Athenai. The Mxd B unit on Rodi responds and makes contact just outside Athenai with a 4 rolled (+4 for calm, -3 for distance). The Glad unit in the area rises up on intercept, and despite the Axis rolling better, the Mxd B ends up worse for wear (6 rolled by F for an A, 4 rolled for the B for a no result.) The RPC unit lands without incident. Having lost their fighter coverage near Athenai, the P24 at Larisa stages down to the Greek capital and flies CAP over the Piraeus. The 7th Aus Hq is then shipped into Athenai from Alexandria. Axis air in the Balkans lets the mission be. The Allies then route the repaired Hvy AA II and 4 GSPS at Alexandria to Malta, escorted by TF RN-1. Light naval forces in the Central Med fail to make contact, so it is up to the two coded a/c on Sicily to prevent the flak from getting in again. The Allies have the other flak II at Tobruch, and it could be sent later, so the air commander considers sending in just the SM.79-2 against this first mission. However, TF could escort a second mission in as well and the He111H4 is unlikely to get 2 hits. Air CINC decides its best to really plaster the first mission in the hopes that enough hits will be generated to at least kill one of the flak II’s. (It would take 4 hits to guarantee the flak is sunk, though 2 would give a 50/50 shot at it, thanks to the way hits are distributed. Sending both the He111H4 and the SM.79-2 would average 3 hits.) Both a/c are launched against the presumed first mission to Malta. Contact is guaranteed, and 4 points of flak (2 each from TF and NTs) fails to drive off the bombers. The resulting 8 bombing attempts on the 1 column, +1 each, result in three hits. Two are automatically applied to the TF (+2 VPs to the Axis), but the hit to the NT ends up getting randomly allocated to the GSPs, so the flak II manages to get to the island this time. Drat. As expected, the 5th and 6th Allied naval missions see the other flak II at Tobruch and the GSPs at Suez shipped to Malta. Not surprisingly, the shipments slip by Italian sea patrols. Next the NZ X at Porto Bardiya is shipped to Melos. The BR.20M at Koritsa manages to make contact at the island (6 rolled, +4 calm, -4 dist), but pays for the attempt when the 2 pts of flak from the NT rolls snake-eyes and aborts it. If it weren’t for bad luck… The Aus X that had been on Melos then ships over to Athenai, and the two bombers at Valona attempt to sink that one. Another 6 is rolled for contact, so the P24 converts to an interceptor and engages the two Z bombers that launched against the Aussies. It ends up allocated against the Z.506, and air to air ends up with the B returned (8 rolled), vice no damage inflicted (6 rolled.) The Z.1007b gets by flak, but misses twice with 2 attempts on the 1 column.
The big troop convoy in the Indian Ocean ships up and through the Suez canal, ending the phase just outside Port Said. In the final Med mission, the Karp Mtn X is shipped from Alexandria to Porto Bardiya just vacated by the Kiwis.
Down in the EA area, one a/s and the ½ pt of SA troops are disembarked at Mogadiscio, the Col RP ships to Aden and unloads, while the other a/s and the Ind RP is shipped around the Horn to Port Sudan, where it unloads. Finally, one res pt at Mombasa is shipped to Aden, while the pt that was at Aden is shipped to Aqiq, about 1/3rd of the way south from Port Sudan to Massaua.
In ground movement in Greece, the Greeks begin to get inklings that German intervention may be imminent. A few units begin to pull out of the main line, while the only hex in Albania owned by the Greeks is given up entirely. Hex 3502 is the hex given up, and the elite 42nd Ev Mtn III moves out of the northern portion of the Greek line entirely, making the road between Kastoria and Grevena. In the south, a bdr X and the 2nd Greek Mtn XX are withdrawn from the line. Two arty X’s at Prevesa move back north to the 3903 hex and join the bdr X that pulled out, forming what Axis intelligence presumes is a small reserve, but what could also head east to help garrison the forming Aliakmon line. The 19th mot Inf XX begins crossing the mountains into the eastern half of Greece as well. Further east, another bdr X that had been moving west shifts back east to Larisa to help bolster the city’s immediate defenses. A third bdr X moves up to the 4612 portion of the Aliakmon line when the Nest Fortress X moves north via rail to garrison the railroad border crossing into Yugoslavia at 4311. Along the Metaxas line, one full XX moves out of the two hex hedgehog that had been in the northwest portion of the line and takes up the defense of the only full mountain hex of the line, hex 4308. The Greek 6th Cav III catches a train out of the same hedgehog and takes up the defense of the 4405 railroad/Metaxas hex. In the south, the Thess Cons X begins repairing the rail hit at 0413 on the south side of the Spherkios, while it is joined on its south flank by the 43rd RPC Col X. 7th Aus Hq and the 24th Aus X move out of Athenai and guard the city’s northwest flank. 26th Aus X and the Kiwi 2nd Inf Hq move west to garrison Korinthos, while the Brit 14th X moves up to Patrai to garrison it as well. Close behind is the British 1st Arm X. Finally, the Bombay transports stage to 4818 and pick up the 4th NZ X (which first destroyed the Gazala field and moved to 4818), transporting the X one-way to Kalamai. Clearly the Allies plan on tucking tail and hiding in the Peloponnesus while the Greeks deal with that little matter of a German invasion J Typically British tactics, fighting to the last “ally.”
In North Africa, the task force organized around the 9th Aus XX pulls back due east, making the coast at the road junction just northwest of Gazala. The slow, heavy tanks of the 7th RT II are about 30 miles behind in the retreat, but should catch up nicely in exploit. Further south, the 4th Indian and the non-c/m support troops flee east and a bit south to 4521, in a clear hex but with sand on its northeast flank and stony desert to its south. Third Arm X heads nearly due south in a land ownership grab (lots of this land grab sparring going on in North Africa), leaving it well away from anything by end of movement (it’s likely to rejoin the Indian XX’s box at 4521 by exploit however, otherwise the XX will have no tanks (read AECD/ATEC) in support.) Strangely, the Allies use a majority of their SMPs to ship an a/s point from Tobruch to the offroad 4521 location. Perhaps they plan to launch a counterattack from the exposed desert, or more likely, will convert to GSPs in our initial phase in case they feel the Indian XX will be cut-off?? At Tobruch, the 66th RPC Cons X repairs the temp field at the fortress to a full 3 cap, leaving 4 available in the hex now that the fortress itself is upgraded. The little machinegun II to the south destroys the 4818 field after the Kiwi X air transports out (see above), then joins the Tobruch defenders. The Free French 1 M m Inf II admins east from the Tobruch area all the way to Matruh, then reverses course and ends the turn at Sidi Barrani. No idea why the odd movements. On the otherhand, the rebuilt TC at Alexandria rails and admins all the way to Porto Bardiya, where it joins the Polish Karp Mtn X that just arrived by sea. The Delta garrison consists of a single II of Czech troops and the 0-8 ME Mar Cmdo II, plus the not entirely trustworthy Egyptians.
Meanwhile, down in East Africa along the coast the broken down X’s of the 6th Aus XX engage the two forward Italian X’s in the mountains circa 1303 and 1503. They are joined by the 29th Ind X, with the 9th Ind X to the rear at Aqiq, and a Cons X moving up to presumably repair the bridge at Tokar. One a/s is shipped to Tokar to supply the attacks along the coast. In a reversal of previous movements, the 2MMG II again reverses course and starts moving away from the coastal route and back north towards the rail at the Sinkat oasis (though it can’t quite reach, since admin movement was not available due to the aforementioned broken bridge.) West of Cheren the Orient FF X backs off to west of Biscia to watch the Cheren defenders from a far distance. To its rear, a Cons X moves up to repair the bridge at Tessenei, where an a/s point is also positioned via SMPs. Further to the rear, the SRD RR Eng III returns to Kassala, joined by the 68th Art II. Another Cons X moves down to Om Ager, probably to fix the bridge there as well. A bit to the west, the EC Inf X and the FB Inf II engage the Gondar Blackshirts X across the Angereb river. A bit south, the 10th Ind X and 4 RT Tank II move south to engage the 21st Col X in the woods at 14W:2217. More interestingly, the 1st Belg Col X and the 1st MMG II ignore the Italian X’s ensconced across their supply lines to the rear and shoot south through Gondar (the MMG was out of supply, so it doesn’t shoot far regardless.) The Belgians and a TC make it to just shy of Celga, while the MMG II enters Gondar, destroys the empty fort and removes the city’s ability to be an Italian limited supply terminal before continuing movement 16 more miles south along the road to Dessie. Two Ethiopian II’s screen the rail line in Sudan from Gedaraf to the Nile, a front of only 110 miles or so.
To the south, between the Oromos Highlands and the Mendebo Mountains more Allied movements occur. The EAC Cons and TC, despite supply difficulties, head towards Soddu from near Alghe. The out of supply 21st East African X heads from Soddu east to a point about 30 miles due south of Butjadira, where it is joined by an a/s point SMP’d forward. Further east, 24th Gold Coast X, 2nd South African X and the 1st South African recon II engage the Italian 60th Col X in the mountains at Aselle. 1st South African X moves over to defend the mountain valley at Dodola from the 61st Col X just to the east, at least temporarily reopening the supply lines to the forward Allied troops. 25th East African in Kenya moves up to engage the Italian 9th Col X at Moyale, while the 1st EA Recon II heads towards Moyale from the northwest. 5th South African X and the SEAC Cons X admin up from Italian Somaliland as far as their mps will take them, but they make it no further than Megalo and El Cari respectively. Much further south, the 22nd East African X engages the last Italian unit that had been in the Chisimaio-Mogadiscio area, at 3W:1007. Along the coast, the 27th NR X heads west and south to Brava, while the 23rd Nigerian X admins through Brava to Mogadiscio.
In the last bit of movement phase action, the Brit Hurri1 and Glad fighters in North Africa CAP Tobruch (not sure why), while the three bombers at Tobruch launch against Benghazi. The Italian CR.42 on CAP engages, lines up against a Blen4 unit, and promptly gets itself aborted while causing no damage. Miserable turn in the air for the Axis… but wait, the two points of flak still gets to fire and clearly the CR.42’s lined the bombers up like a sheepdog. The first plane in is a Blen4 and a 3 is rolled, sufficient to send it packing with an R. Now that the Italian gunners have the range, a pair of 2’s are rolled and the next Blen4 and the just fixed Well1C unit are sent to the abort box. We take what we can get J
At the very end of the phase the supplied CR.42 at Massaua flies a CAP over the Italian 2nd Col Cav X at 14W:1503 just to try and keep bombers from bumping up the anticipated odds, or least get a shot at a bomber in EA.
No combat is launched in the Greek or North African theaters. Plenty of combat goes on in East Africa, one of which finally has a potential to cause some Allied losses. In the first combat, the 17th Aus and 29th Ind X’s smash the 5th Col X from east and west in 1303 in an autokill at 8:1 -2 (mtns, a/s provided, no GS), but a 5 is rolled for the record, netting a DE. Next, another 5 is rolled against the 2nd Cav X at 1503, attacked by two more Aus X’s. This Italian unit actually had a potential to get away, but the 8:1 -2 attack gets another 5 for a DE. So much for the forward coastal defenders, but at least they are forcing the Allies to deal with them on their way to Massaua. The next attack is further west against the Gondar Blackshirts at 14W:1919. It’s across rivers, and only two unsupplied Allied units are attacking, but a single GS point is provided, so the odds are shifted to 5:1 even. A potential for actually Allied losses! Doesn’t work out for the Duca though, as yet another 5 is rolled for yet another DE. Next the 21st Col X is assaulted by the unsupplied 10th Ind and 4th RT Tank II, at 9:1 even odds thanks to more GS from the allied air force (a/s, woods, 1/10th AECA). A 1 is finally rolled, but it makes no difference since the result is a DH, killing the single unit. Next, the mountain redoubt at Aselle is assaulted by three allied units. The Allies use their 1 ‘free’ RE of supply to put the 24th Gold Coast X into supply, and with the South Africans also assaulting and a high mountain hexside to its rear, the result against the 60th Col X is a foregone conclusion. Still the attack is rolled and a 4 nets a DH (some a/s, mountains, 1 pt GS from Audax’s at Soddu.) Lastly, the BGuib Inf X is assaulted and destroyed by the 22nd East African, eliminating the last Italian unit in southern Italian Somaliland, in a 8:1 even attack (no a/s, GS from the Mxd S air unit). The 3 rolled is another DE.
At sea, the RN TF-1 returns to Alexandria, where it is deactivated for the time being. The big reinforcement convoy splits up. The big 3-8 NZ Inf X, 2 a/s and the 57th Lt AA II sail for Athenai. The MNDBO flak unit and the Indian 3rd m Inf X sail for Tobruch, while the 25th Aus X, Layforce and all RPs/ARPs sail for Alexandria. Lastly at sea, 2 GSPs at Athenai are shipped to Patrai for use by the allied troops there. In Greece, the 19th Mot Inf XX moves southeast out of the mountains to Trikkala, due west of Larisa about 30 miles. In North Africa, the 3rd Arm X joins up with the 4th Indian in its box, while the 7th RT Tk II joins up with the 9th Aus XX along the coast. They are joined by the Indian 3rd mot Inf X. The apparently confused Free French m Inf II heads back from Sidi Barrani and returns to Matruh. (I think the Mid-East CINC, who is British, just likes to push the Free French about to make them looked confused.) In East Africa, the 2nd MMG II heads towards Kassala, making it about half way from the coast. The Belgians and TC exploit to Gondar, then move northeast along the road to gain ownership, then return to Gondar where they are joined by the 4th RT Tk II. In the Valley, the EAC and TC exploit into Soddu to defend the airfield. El Kaid then gets aggressive and the 24th Gold Coast and the 1st South African recon II cross the Auasc river and make for a point about 30 miles northeast of Addis Ababa (with the recon II making Ficce.) They overrun an Italian Cons X in the process, but they will be out of supply next turn thanks to zoc’s of Italian units in the eastern tip of the Oromos Highlands. The Addis Ababa garrison is released due to these movements (we are not using the open city rule btw.) Further south, the 1st EA recon II bypasses Moyale entirely, passing through Ballele heading towards Neghelli. In the last bit of action, the South African Hurri1 unit abandons East Africa and flies a multi-stage transfer op up to Matruh.