The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Author: David Tinny

Conclusions

The Allies had 2 lucky breaks in this test: a great evacuation from Greece, and that it took the Axis 14 turns and 5 attacks to finally capture Tobruch.  The Allied strategy to weather the Axis assault in their fort lines in front of El Alamein worked well as the Axis was only able to reduce the 1st fort line (out of 5) before the Axis combat strength available on the front eroded to less 60% of the combat strength of the Allies on the front.

The Axis decision to start retreating on Jun II 42 may have been influenced by knowing when Torch would occur.  I believe that historically the Allies could have agreed to invade North Africa by late June 1942 in Washington, not late July 1942, and may try a variable Torch date from Oct I thru Nov I.  Any pre-Torch Axis build up near the Tunisian border should also affect the Vichy French reaction.  Both the Axis (by 54 pts) and the Allies (by 96 pts) moved much more combat strength into Tunisia than historically (according to the OB’s), but the Axis could never break away from the huge Allied pursuing force to concentrate against the Allies already in Algeria.  Both sides also ended Mar II 43 with large amounts of armor RPs (German 20, British 42, US 23), so I may switch to SF’s replacement costs so that every c/m unit uses some armor RPs.  I may also use the British 2nd Armor Division OB option to counter the annoying way the regular Allied OB destroys the ability of the Allies to form armor divisions in the critical first half of 1942.

In terms of connecting to GE43 this game ended almost exactly where GE43 starts in Tunisia on Apr I 43.  For the Axis player in GE staying in North Africa by 1943 is a lost cause for many reasons: Allied strength, good weather, Allied air superiority, and supply lines easily cut by DZs.  The Axis holding out in Tunisia, which can be leapfrogged, does not delay the Allies; it’s the arrival schedule of LCs in early 1943 that delays the Allies.  As an Axis player in GE I might start holding units back from North Africa as early as the Italian 185th Para Division, a potential loyal fascist unit.

1943

Allied Jan I 43:  After a huge air battle in which the Allies had 2 killed and 5 aborted to 1 killed and 2 aborted for the Axis, the Allies attacked hex 25A:3623 at 3:1, -1 odds.  The Allies rolled a ‘4’ for a HX result.  The Axis reduced a Pz, an Italian armor, and an Italian motorized divisions to cadres, and eliminated 4 minor units.  The Allies eliminated a South African division, an armor brigade and a pair of recon units.

Axis Jan I 43:  The Axis desperately clung to the Gabes line with 19 in hex 25A:3523 and 17 in 25A:3622 so that their non-c/m units could admin move thru the mud as far north as Souse.

Allied Jan II 43:  With clear weather in northern Tunisia the Allies attacked hex 25A:3111 at 4:1 even, where they rolled a ‘3’ for a DR result.  In southern Tunisia the Allies attacked hex 25A:3523 at 3:1, -1 odds, and rolled a ‘4’ for a HX result.  The Axis reduced an Italian armor division and an Italian motorized division to cadres, and eliminated a Pz cadre, German motorized regiment, and an AA battalion.  The Allies reduce a division to a cadre and eliminated an motorize AA unit.

Axis Jan II 43:  The Axis retreated from southern Tunisia into the 9-hex-long Axis perimeter around Bizerte and Tunis.  The average defense strength of their front line was 12.6 pts.

Allied Feb I 43:  Against mud conditions the Allies coming from the south lost contact with the Axis, while the Allies in northern Tunisia strengthened their grip on the northern 2/3 of the Axis line.

Axis Feb I 43:  The Axis were able to slightly increase their strength.  The average defense strength of their front line was now 13 pts.

Allied Feb II 43:  With unexpected clear weather the Allies made 3 attacks.  Against hex 25A:3210 at 3:1, +1 odds, the Allies rolled a ‘2’ for HX result.  Against hex 25A:3513 at 4:1 even, the Allies rolled a ‘1’ for a EX result.  Against hex 25A:3712 at 3:1 even, the Allies rolled a ‘2’ for another EX result.

Axis Feb II 43:  The Axis pulled back into a 8-hex-long perimeter just 2 hexes out from Bizerte and Tunis.  The average defense strength of their front line was 14.4 pts.

Allied Mar I 43:  Once again the Allies were blessed with clear weather and made 3 attacks.  The 1st attack was against hex 25A:3611 at 5:1, +3 odds, and rolled a ‘1’ for a DH result.  An Allied c/m stack advanced after combat adjacent to Tunis.  The 2nd attack was against hex 25A;3512 at 7:1, -1 odds, and rolled another ‘1’ for a HX result.  The 3rd attack was against hex 25A:3311 at 4:1,-1 odds, and rolled yet another ‘1’ for an AS result.

Axis Mar I 43:  Except for a couple of ants that could not reach Tunis, the Axis defense line was now only 5 hexes long and had an average defense strength of 21 pts.

Allied Mar II 43:  Despite the mud, the Allies made an attack against hex 25A:3511 at 5:1, -2 odds, and rolled a ‘4’ for a DR result.  With this attack the Allies gained a second hex adjacent to Tunis.  The Allies also attacked hex 25A:3711 at 9:1, -3 odds, and rolled a ‘6’ for a DE result, eliminating 3 minor units and gaining a third hex adjacent to Tunis.

Axis Mar II 43:  The Axis fell back into a straight defense line 4 hexes long that ran in front of Bizerte but ended in downtown Tunis.  The average defense strength was 26.5 pts.

1942

Allied Jan I 42:  The Allies remained in place at Matruh.

Axis Jan I 42:  The Axis rebuilt both Pz divisions and the German infantry division, and inched its army up to the Egyptian border.

Allied Jan II 42:  The Allies abandoned the Matruh line and fell back into the first line of forts.

Axis Jan II 42:  The Axis advanced a stack into Matruh, another stack into the hex south of Matruh, and a third stack farther out into the desert to prevent the Allies from outflanking them.

Allied Feb I 42:  Knowing that they were going to lose significant strength over the next few turns and that no enemy air groups were close enough to interfere, the Allies made a desperate counterattack against the Axis stack south of Matruh with just their c/m units.  Flying every air group they had on GS, the Allies achieved 3:2, +2 odds and rolled a ‘4’ for a DR.  Because they had infiltrated one of their division thru a gap in the desert, the Allies had blocked all retreats with ZOCs, which reduced the Italian armor division and German infantry division to cadres and eliminated a small Italian infantry division, a German artillery regiment, 2 Italian artillery regiments, and 2 Italian tank battalions.  After the attack the Allies retreated back into their first line of forts, with a defensive strength of 31 in each of hexes 19A:1719-1721.

Axis Feb I 42:  Although the Axis were keeping the Malta status number at 12 or higher, they lost half an Italian armor replacement pt and an attack supply crossing the Med.  In Egypt they pulled their line back far enough to at least stay out of the range of the large British 6-4-6 tank brigades while they rebuilt.

Allied Feb II 42:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Feb II 42:  The Axis inched its army forward a couple of hexes.

Allied Mar I 42:  With the loss of 2 divisions the Allied defense strengths dropped to 31 in hex 19A:1719, 29 in 1720, and just 25 in 1721.  The Allies could now assemble only 7 divisions.

Axis Mar I 42:  The Axis lost another attack supply crossing the Med.  Their army moved up to Matruh again.

Allied Mar II 42:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Mar II 42:  The Axis moved up to within 1 hex of the first Allied fort line.

Allied Apr I 42:  The Allies remained in place, knowing they were approaching the nadir of their strength for 1942.

Axis Apr I 42:   The Axis lost a German infantry replacement pt crossing the Med.  Despite staging in 9 bomber groups from Sicilia the Axis could only achieve 2:1, -1 odds against hex 19A:1719.  They rolled a ‘3’ for an AS result.

Allied Apr II 42:  Down to only 6 assembled divisions, the Allied defense strengths dropped to 29 in hex 19A:1719, 27 in 1720, and 25 in 1721.

Axis Apr II 42:  The Axis attacked hex 19A:1721 at 3:1, -1 odds, but rolled a ‘2’ for another AS result.

Allied May I 42:  The Allies assembled the new 7th Armor division, and now had defense strengths of 31 in hex 19A:1719, and 29 in both 1720 and 1721.

Axis May I 42:  The Axis attacked hex 19A:1720 at 2:1, -1 odds, and rolled a ‘6’ for a HX result.  Two Allied divisions were reduced to cadres and the rest of the Allied stack went into the replacement pool.  The Axis reduced a Pz division and the German infantry division to cadres and eliminated an Italian tank battalion.  The Axis advanced a c/m unit after combat to destroy the fort, but decided to not occupy and defend the hex they had just won.

Allied May II 42:  Although the Allies made a pure c/m counterattack against one Axis stack, achieving a DH that eliminated a Pz cadre and a small Italian division, they chose to fall back one hexrow, and now had defense strengths of 23 in hex 19A:1818, 33 in 1819, and 31 in 1820.

Axis May II 42:  The Axis advanced into the first fort line destroying the remaining Allied forts, but did not have enough strength to make an attack.

Allied Jun I 42:  The Allies attempted a counterattack, but rolled a ‘1’ for an AS result.  The Allied defense strengths were 27 in hex 19A:1818, 31 in 1819, and 31 in 1820.

Axis Jun I 42:  The Axis remained in place with defense strengths of 29 in hex 19A:1719, 29 in 1720, and 17 in 1721.

Allied Jun II 42:  The Allies again attacked hex 19A:1719 at 2:1, +1 odds, and this time rolled a ‘3’ for an EX result.  The Axis reduced an Italian armor division to a cadre, and eliminated a small Italian infantry division, a German Pz regiment, a German motorized infantry regiment, 3 Italian artillery regiments, and a pair of ants.  The Allies reduced 2 armor and 2 infantry divisions to cadres.  The Allies did not advance, but remained on the defensive in the second fort line.

Axis Jun II 42:  With their attack and defense strengths less than 60% of that of the Allied units along the front, the Axis executed a runaway of their c/m units, all of which reached the Libyan border, while leaving the non-c/m as a rear guard.

Allied Jul I 42:  The Allies rebuilt 3 of their cadres to full strength and eliminated the entire Axis rear guard.

Axis Jul I 42:  The Axis built a defense line starting at Tobruch and extending 2 hexes southward with the 2 Pz divisions and 2 Italian armor divisions and 13 pts worth of minor c/m units.

Allied Jul II 42:  The Allies advanced west to Sidi Barani.

Axis Jul II 42:  The Axis remained in their defense line at Tobruch, while all their non-c/m units retreated to El Agheila.

Allied Aug I 42:  The Allies made a pure c/m attack against the southernmost stack defending Tobruch, at 4:1, -1 and rolled a ‘1’ for an AS result.  The Allies now had 3 armor and 8 infantry divisions available at the front.

Axis Aug I 42:  The Axis c/m units now also retreated back towards El Agheila.

Allied Aug II 42:  The Allies advanced thru an abandoned Tobruch.

Axis Aug II 42:  The Axis retreated into their first fort line at El Agheila, with defense strengths of 27 in hex 18A:3029, and 25 in 18A:3030.

Allied Sep I 42:  The Allies advanced to Agedabia.

Axis Sep I 42:  The Axis remained in place.

Allied Sep II 42:  The Allies move their line forward 1 hex beyond Agedabia.

Axis Sep II 42:  The Axis c/m units remained in place at El Agheila, but the Axis non-c/m units already began stacking up at the Tunisian border.

Allied Oct I 42:  The Allied attacked hex 18A:3030 at 3:1, -1 odds, and rolled a ‘4’ for a HX result.

Axis Oct I 42:  The Axis retreated torwards Sirte, leaving behind a small Italian rearguard.

Allied Oct II 42:  The Allies eliminated the rearguard, and exploited adjacent to the last two retreating Axis stacks.

Axis Oct II 42:  The final Axis c/m units retreated to within 8 hexes of Tripoli, with large stacks of non-c/m units waiting at the Tunisian border.

Allied Nov I 42:  The Allies landed at Fedala and Port Lyautey in Morocco and at Mostagnem, on either side of Alger, and at Bougie in Algeria during the surprise landing, and captured Casablanca, Rabat, and Alger during the surprise combat.  The Vichy reaction was non-belligerence.  The Allies in Libya closed to within 9 hexes of Tripoli.

Axis Nov I 42:  The Axis flew in German and Italian paratroopers to Bizerte and Tunis, while non-c/m units poured across the border from Libya.  The Axis abandoned Tripoli and retreated their c/m units west to Zaura.

Allied Nov II 42:  The Allies advanced after combat into Tripoli, and caught up with the Axis rearguard during exploitation.  In French North Africa the Allies struggled against the mud to move eastward.

Axis Nov II 42:  The Axis streamed into southern Tunisia from Libya, but the mud in the northern Tunisia prevented much movement by the Axis units landing at Tunis.  By the end of this turn the Axis had successfully retreated 46 units with a total defense strength of 99 pts into Tunisia from Libya (compared to the 45 defense pts that had retreated per the OB by the end of the Jan I turn).

Allied Dec I 42:  The Allies in Algeria formed a weak line along the Tunisian border roughly 3 hexes away from the Axis.  From Libya the Allies advanced 38 units with a total attack strength of 158 pts into southern Tunisia by the end of this turn (compared to the 62 attack pts that had advanced per the OB by the end of the Feb II turn).

Axis Dec I 42:  The Axis decided to try to hold the Mareth line for a turn while forts were being built at Gabes.  In northern Tunisia the Axis were able to push their defense line 1 hexrow westward despite the mud.

Allies Dec II 42:  Using a weird logic the Allies decided not to attack the Mareth line because of the anticipated huge air battle.  The Axis could replace their air losses using their existing ARPs, but the Allies would have to use the ARPs from the next air cycle to replace their losses.

Axis Dec II 42:  The Axis fell back to the forts of the Gabes line, with 27 defensive pts in hex 25A:3623, and 21 in 25A:3523.  In the north the Axis now had a continuous defense line from the north coast down around to Enfidaville.

1941

Allied Jan I 41:  Instead of the Indian division (with its embedded British brigade), the Allies sent an Australian division to East Africa.  The Allies eliminated the Italian stack at Bardia.  British bombers added 2 more port hits at Derna, and 1 port hit on Bengasi.  The 7th Armor division advanced into Sirte.

Axis Jan I 41:  The Axis intensified their bombing of Malta and shipped 2 garrison units from Bengasi back to Tripoli, leaving Bengasi empty.

Allied Jan II 41:  The Allies overran Derna and added 2 more hits on the deserted port of Bengasi.

Axis Jan II 41:  The Axis continued to strengthen their defense line that ran from Homs to 18A:0124.

Allied Feb I 41:  The 2 Allied armor divisions advanced west of Sirte, but stayed more 12 hexes away from Tripoli.

Axis Feb I 41:  The Axis lost half an Italian infantry replacement pt crossing the Med.

Allied Feb II 41:  The Allies pushed 2 Australian divisions up to El Agheila.

Axis Feb II 41:  The Axis continued building up its Homs defense line.

Allied Mar I 41:  With half an armor division sent to Greece, the Allies retreated their armor back towards El Agheila.

Axis Mar I 41:  With the arrival of the German 21st Panzer Division, the Axis moved their defense line forward to hexes 18A:0825-0925.

Allied Mar II 41:  The Allies transfered 2 Australian HQs, the British 3-8 and a British 2-8, an Australian 2-8, an Indian 2-8, and other units to Greece.  The Allies dropped back to 18A:2829 and 18A:2931.

Axis Mar II 41:  The Axis inched their line forward to hex 18A:1327.

Allied Apr I 41:  The Allies sent 2 more Australian 2-8 Inf brigades to Greece, and finally occupied Bengasi, having inflicted the maximum hits on its port.   Two infantry divisions (2nd NZ and 4th Ind) and one and half armor divisions guarded the front at El Agheila.

Axis Apr I 41:  The Axis moved their line east to 18A:2027.

Allied Apr II 41:  The Allies gave up their defense line at El Agheila and streamed back towards Tobruch.

Axis Apr II 41:  The Axis moved their line up to El Agheila.

Allied May I 41:  The Allies packed 3 divisions into Tobruch, now an improved fortress, and retreated the remaining units towards Egypt, where a construction unit was furiously building forts.

Axis May I 41:  With 2 full Pz divisions the Axis began driving across the desert towards Tobruch.

Allied May II 41:  The stack in Tobruch now had a defense strength of 30.

Axis May II 41:  The Axis moved a construction unit into Bengasi to start repairing the port, sent a force of c/m units around along the coast road, and closed to within 3 hexes of Tobruch with the bulk of their army.

Allied Jun I 41:  A remarkably lucky evacuation from Greece saved the armor brigade, the commando brigade, the artillery brigade, two 2-8 infantry brigades, the heavy AA brigade, a HQ, and the light AA battalion.  Three more infantry brigades were quickly replaced at Alexandria and moved to Matruh.

Axis Jun I 41:  The Axis moved adjacent to Tobruch.

Allied Jun II 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Jun II 41:  The Axis now completely enveloped Tobruch, but were short of having enough strength, attack supply, or airfields to make an attack.

Allied Jul I 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Jul I 41:  The Axis lost half a German armor replacement point crossing the Med.

Allied Jul II 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Jul II 41:  The Axis remained in place.

Allied Aug I 41:  The Allies increased the defense strength in Tobruch to 35.

Axis Aug I 41:  With Bengasi’s port fully repaired, the Axis construction units now moved to start to building airfields.

Allied Aug II 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Aug II 41:  One airfield was completed near Derna, two more were started.

Allied Sep I 41:  The Allies now had the British 70th, the Indian 4th, and the New Zealand 2nd divisions in Tobruch, and had one and a half armor, 3 Australian, 1 British, and 2 South African divisions in a defense line at Matruh.

Axis Sep I 41:  A German motorized light AA battalion was lost crossing the Med.Allied Sep II 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Sep II 41:  The Axis finally made their first attack against Tobruch.  The 4 defending Hurricane air groups bypassed the escorting fighters and aborted one GS air group and returned the other 3, which reduced the odds to 1:1,-1.  The Axis expended just 3 attack supply pts and rolled a ‘1’, an AE result that would normally end the game, but per a house rule (see appendix) became an AS result.  The Allied expended one attack supply in Tobruch.

Allied Oct I 41:  The Allies lost an attack supply while resupplying Tobruch with an attack supply.

Axis Oct I 41:  The Axis spent the turn moving forward attack supply.

Allied Oct II 41:  The Allies remained in place, not a single unit having to move.

Axis Oct II 41:  The Axis made their second attack on Tobruch.  One GS bomber was killed and one was aborted, but enough GS got thru that the Axis only needed to spend 3 attack supply for 3:2 odds, -1.  The Axis rolled a ‘3’, which would normally be an AR, but per a house rule (see appendix) became an AS result.  The Allies spent an attack supply in Tobruch.

Allied Nov I 41:  The Allies resupplied Tobruch with an attack supply.

Axis Nov I 41:  The Axis lost an attack supply crossing the Med, as they moved others forward toward Tobruch.

Allied Nov II 41:  The El Alamein defense zone was completed this turn, with 2 forts in the line at El Alamein itself and 4 lines each with 3 forts extending west from El Alamein.

Axis Nov II 41:  The Axis made their third attack on Tobruch.  Two GS bombers were aborted, but enough GS got thru that the Axis only needed to spend 3 attack supply for 3:2 odds, -1.  The Axis rolled a ‘3’, which would normally be an AR, but per a house rule (see appendix) became an AS result.  The Allies spent an attack supply in Tobruch.

Allied Dec I 41:  The Allies remained in place.

Axis Dec I 41:  The Axis made their fourth attack on Tobruch.  One GS bomber was aborted, and the Axis spent 3 attack supply for 3:2 odds, -1.  The Axis rolled a ‘4’, for an AS result.  The Allies spent an attack supply in Tobruch.

Allied Dec II 41:  The Allies lost an attack supply while resupplying Tobruch with an attack supply.

Axis Dec II 41:  The Axis made their fifth attack on Tobruch.  One GS bomber was aborted, and the Axis spent 3 attack supply for 3:2 odds, -1.  The Axis rolled a ‘6’ for an EX result.  The entire Allied stack in Tobruch went into the replacement pool.  The Axis reduced both Pz divisions, the German infantry division, both of the Italian motorized divisions to cadres, and eliminated an Italian light armor regiment.

1940

Allied Surprise Dec I 40:  The Allies called up the TF to attack Sidi Barani along with the Indian 4th Division (assembled per 43.D.2.a) and the British tank battalion.  An armor brigade and the SG infiltrated to 19A:0619 (due to Italian reduced ZOCs per Errata), thus isolating both Italian forward stacks (1/2 strength per Rule 41.B.1.b), and with the other armor brigade and artillery brigade from the south attacked hex 19A:0719.  Both Italian stacks were eliminated.

Allied Regular Dec I 40:  The Allies eliminated the Italian stacks in 19A:0520, 19A:0219, 18A:5018.  During the exploitation phase the components of the 7th Armor Division and the artillery brigade (on the transport counter) overran Tobruch, eliminating not only the two artillery units but also the not-yet-activated garrison units.  One armor brigade occupied Tobruch while the rest of the overrunning force exploited back east to maintain the isolation of Italian forces.

Axis Dec I 40:  All Italian units east of Tobruch were unsupplied and isolated (1/4 attack), and by being isolated were also demoralized (1/2 attack again, 1/2 movement).  The Italians west of Tobruch admin-moved back to Bengasi.

Allied Dec II 40:  The Allies eliminated 2 Italian divisions and a construction unit and reduced the Italians to just the stack in Bardia.  British bombers inflicted 2 hits on the deserted port of Derna.  During the exploitation phase the 7th Armor division moved west to Agedabia.

Axis Dec II 40:  The Italians shipped an artillery regiment, a para-infantry unit, and a tank battalion from Bengasi back to Tripoli.