Allied Turn

This turn the Allied player rolls a 3 on the Weather Table and there is still mud in the E Weather Zone, but with a calm Mediterranean Sea. The mud weather will put a hobble on the Allied ground advance into the Djebel Akhbar rough terrain region of the Cyrenaican “bulge” region. Later in his initial phase the Allies rebuild the aborted Well 2 night bomber and a SA 1-10 lt arm II in the Allied ME replacement pool. The Allied player also spends an arm RP to upgrade the Br 1-10 lt arm II 1 DG to the 2-1-10 lt arm II 1 DG.

In his movement phase the Allies finally venture into the mud weather of the E Weather Zone in the Cyranaica. The Ind 6-8* inf XX 10 marches through the mud into Derna (18A:4116) and ends its movement one hex westwards at coast road hex 4015, thus gaining Allied zoc control on the coast road up to hex 3916. The 8th Army’s main spearhead force proceeds southwestwards down the good weather Cyranaican interior road, but halts and then fans out as it nears the split Axis forces at Bengazi and Agedabia. The main Allied armored forces end their moves at 3525 and 3625, each hex stack containing two Br arm XXs along with other ground units. Protecting the Allied southern desert flank at 3725 is a strong armored stack with 12 defense factors. Another strong Allied armored stack with 11 defense factors stands at stony desert hex 3323, adjacent to the Axis Bengazi covering forces at Soluch (3222) & 3223. Two hexes behind it at Msus (3523) is the Allied forward infantry force with the Br 50 & 51st inf XXs, the NZ 3-8 inf X 5, the Br 1-8 anti-tnk II 95, and two steps of attack supply. The two westward facing sebkha (salt desert) hex sides of hex 3524, just south of Msus, aid in rounding out the Allied desert front line. Additional Allied Br & Ind inf Xs protect the Allied northern flank at 3621, 3821, Mechili (4019), and back at Derna on the coast. Two more steps of attack supply end their turn at coast road hex 4618, two hexes west of Tobruk. At Tobruk (18A:4817) are the 2nd NZ inf XX HQ unit, the NZ 2-8 inf X 6, the Br 0-8 lt flk II 37, and the admin moved in 0-1-4 const X 66 RPC. The 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC ends the turn admin moving to the adjacent overlooking ridge hex 4818, one hex south of Tobruk. The Br 1-2-8 eng X 8, having hitched up with a 1 RE mot transport counter, builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at road/rail hex 19A:0219, just inside the Libyan border, and ends its now motorized movement at 18A:5018. The 8th Army’s available eng/const forces are so paltry and so far back from the rapidly advancing Allied desert front line that evidently at this time there is no thought of sending even an 0-1-4 const X back into Egypt to repair some of the “sanded in” temporary airfields along the Matruh to El Alamein coast road in order to release the six inoperative Allied air units stranded there due to the Nov II 42 Allied turn desert storms. Later in his turn the Allied player complains that the big Axis westwards retreat on the Nov I turn has forced the 8th Army to overrun their fighter cover umbrella protection, come what may, in order to keep some kind of close-up ground unit pressure on the retreating Afrika Korps. I reassure him I had little choice in the matter, in particular if, as the Axis player, I play the WW Western Desert scenario with the historical Allied Torch invasion of French Northwest Africa and an off-map historical progression of events there in mind.

By the turn’s end the Allied player has seemingly done all he can to move the 8th Army forward and westwards and thereby keep the heat and pressure on the retreating Afrika Korps. Splitting the Axis forces between Bengazi and the Agedabia desert front line has perhaps surprised him, as by now he may have become accustomed to the perhaps more cautious and conservative Axis play done ever since its invasion of Egypt earlier in the game after the Axis capture of Tobruk. Next turn Axis ground units can still march freely out of Allied zoc’s between Bengazi and Agedabia, although the Allied player was careful enough to gain zoc control of the Gulf of Sirte coast road hex 3225 before backing to 3525. There is also an Allied zoc on the road hex at 3323, where the Ger 7-8 inf XX 164 LA is at. However, Allied offensive punch during the Western Desert end game period seems quite hobbled now with the closest Allied airfield to the desert front line in western Cyrenaica being the far away newly built airfield at 0219 in far eastern Libya, where he bases the three A-30s. Maybe the paucity of the 8th Army’s eng/const units during this time period is a historical fact. The WitD Allied OB has the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8(th Army) arriving onto the Torch maps (eg., entering onto map 25A) from the Middle East (eg., the Western Desert map group) on the Feb I 43 Allied turn and the 0-1-4 const X 61 RPC arriving on the Torch maps from the Middle East on the Mar II 43 Allied turn. And that’s it for Allied const/eng ground units coming onto the Torch maps from the Mid East. If one looks at the Second Front (SF) Allied OB booklet for additional guidance one finds on the Jul I 43 initial turn the two 0-1-4 const Xs 64 & 66 RPC, the 0-4 const X 54 RPC, and of course the 0-1-6 RR eng X MEF all in the SF Middle East holding box. This is essentially the same place these construction units are found in Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario, I think, with an Oct II 42 Allied turn beginning. Are all these construction units still in garrison and/or still building the Haifia-Tripoli RR in the Levant? For the Haifia-Tripoli RR see Advanced Rule 14A1e-Other Railroad Construction & WW Game Play Chart 5-Allied Garrisons. In the SF Allied at start OB the 61 RPC is listed in the British forces in NW Africa (eg., available for a SF Operation Huskey type invasion) and I cannot find the Br 8th Army 1-2-8 eng X listed anywhere in the SF Allied OB.

German Turn

Early in the initial phase the Axis player deactivates two sp op Ju 52s and a DFS 230 glider unit in the mainland Europe off-map holding box that were brought on the Sep II 42 Axis turn. This turn marks the maximum activation time line limit in WW of the WitD Axis OB German 1942 Special Operation Forces. This is perhaps important because it implies that in WW WitD and North African scenarios the Axis could maybe do a Nov I or Nov II full fledged 5 turns planned in advance air drop against Tunisian targets (say, at Tebessa-25A:2817, or Souk Ahras-35A:2714, or Gabes-25A:3021), or perhaps better yet, do 1 turn planned in advance Axis air drops (see WW Game Play Chart 4.2-Special Operations Planning Requirements Summary) using sp op Ju 52s and the WitD regular reinforcements It 2-5 para IIIs of the Folgore Para XX and/or the Torch scenario regular reinforcement LW para IIIs.

Perhaps now might be the time to note that the use of the Axis sp op Ju 52s in this game to airlift steps of attack supply from mainland Europe to the Western Desert did not inevitably result in an In-Theater Surrender decisive Axis victory in the game per Rule 42A. Indeed, the large number of Axis steps of attack supply in the Western Desert has become a SMP transport burden (along with some resource points in the Western Desert) for the Axis in the end game period of the WD/Cauldron scenario when in many games it might conduct its long westwards retreat towards Tunisia.

This desert war gamer also admits that he never found an opportunity to use the sp op Ju 52s along with the It Folgore XX 2-5 para IIIs for any viable 1 turn planned in advance Western Desert target hexes, say to help encircle portions of the Allied desert front line shield from behind in conjunction with a big Afrika Korps frontal ground attack or further eastwards against, say, Alexandria, or Delta targets, or Suez Canal targets. The main reasons for this inability were the strong Allied fighter cover umbrella over their desert front line and the “just enough” defense (eg., some flack, maybe a ground unit, maybe a fighter in interception range) of rearward targets in the Delta or at the Canal.

It should be noted that Axis para-drops are not the only interesting special operations possible in WitD games. Allied para-drops and perhaps small amphibious operations in eastern Algeria and western Tunisia on the Nov II, Dec I, and Dec II 42 WitD/Torch turns are quite important WW II events and interesting Europa war game exercises. This is another reason that a “Race for Tunis” add-on subscenario for WW Western Desert scenarios, perhaps using Rick Gayler’s bigger Kasserine Crisis scenario as a developmental aide, might be an interesting new Europa desert war game feature for someone to attempt to design.

Also in the initial phase, per Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario Axis Reinforcements WD OB (which we are using in the current game), the Axis player withdraws from the map the just converted Ger 1-8 eng III Afr. The single Axis resource point in the mainland Europe off-map holding box is broken down to six Cent Med Axis airfield repair points so as to repair a hit of damage on a Crete airfield next turn.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis successfully sea transports his initial phase It arm RP reinforcement across the Cent Med to Tripoli. The Malta status number is 1.

The single remaining Lw Ju 52 (a regular WitD reinforcement earlier) air transports the initial phase It inf RP from mud weather mainland Europe to the Tripoli airbase. However, 1½ Ger arm REs are sunk by Allied Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls when the Axis attempts to sea transport them from Tripoli back to the mainland Europe off-map holding box using his on-map Cent Med sea transport ability.

The Axis player, in the end game period of the WD/Cauldron scenario, decides to keep the initial phase Axis attack supply steps and the turn’s Ger arm & inf reinforcement RPs in the mainland Europe off-map holding box, where for the time being they’re safe.

In his movement phase the Axis player reinforces the Bengazi defense force and holes them up in the port hex, which also has a recently built fort counter and a Cauldron at start 3-cap permanent airfield. He stacks in the Bengazi reference city hex all the ground units in the vicinity because the Allied player may get lucky and roll clear weather for the E weather zone for the upcoming Dec II 42 game turn. This turn an additional step of attack supply is scurried into Bengazi from Agedabia. By the end of the exploitation phase the 3-cap permanent airfield at adjacent hex 3220 is removed from the map after Axis ground units inflict 3 hits on it by MPs before entering Bengazi.

By the end of the turn the Axis has at Bengazi the It 7-6-8 arm XX 133, the It 5-8 inf XX 102, the Ger inf XX 164, the Lw mot hvy flk III 135, the Lw 4-8* para X Ramcke, the Ger 3-10 mot inf III Afr moved in this turn, the two It 2-3-6 art IIIs 20C & 24C, four steps of attack supply, the Me 110E, two Me 109G2s, and a MC 202. The Bengazi artificial harbor major port still has one hit of damage.

During the movement phase the Axis desert front line retreats westwards from the Agedabia front line to a new desert front line shield at 3029-3030, which might be called an El Agheila (18A:2930) front line. Some It mobile IIIs guard 3133 & 3233 farther south against any Allied attempt to outflank the new Axis desert front line by looping southwards around the impassable Sebchet Gheizel salt marsh hexes.

Before leaving the Agedabia vicinity, Axis ground units destroy with MPs the 3-cap permanent airfield at Agedabia (18A:3327) and the 3-cap temporary airfield at adjacent road hex 3427.

The two on-map It 0-6 const IIIs 5A & 10A each build 3-cap temporary airfields at adjacent coast road hexes 2328 & 2428. This adds to the already existing nearby 3-cap coast road road airfields at 2629, 2829, & at 2930 (El Agheila). By the turn’s end there are in this zone four Ju88A4s, three Ju 87Ds, the It Ju87B, two Z1007b’s, two MC 202s, two Me 109F3s, and the SM 84 (transferred back to the Western Desert from Crete during the Allied Dec I 42 turn).

A large array of Axis non-motorized ground units continue retreating westwards along the Libyan coast road and by the end of the Axis turn are spread along the coast road between Tripoli and Sirte inclusive.

The Axis player also sends every one of his B type bomber units on a daylight strat bombing mission against the port capacity of Allied controlled Derna, but reaps only one port hit after 7 rolls, all halved of course due to the mud weather. There are no flack factors in Derna, nor are there any Allied fighters in interception range.

By the turn’s end the Axis player realizes that he has passed the point of no return and will indeed get to find out what will happen if the Afrika Korps split their Libyan forces and attempt to take a do or die stand at Bengazi at the end game period of a WW Western Desert scenario. Will Fate play a joke on him and make sure the Allies roll clear weather for the next couple of turns in the E weather zone? Will an Axis Bengazi stand tall until the game’s last turn or will it in the war game end up being just another “African Stalingrad” and be wiped out?