Decision time for the Republic!  (If you do not want to know why until you have read the turn details skip this section and return afterwards) The Republic now have something of a dilemma. The whole arc of troops north of the breakthrough to Cuenca around Madrid is U2 so half strength and the Nationalist attack thrusting south immediately north of Madrid has found a weak spot where there are insufficient troops at hand to counter the attackers. The dilemma therefore is do the Republicans maintain the front between Aranjuez and  Alcazar de San Juan or pull back tight around the city. Holding the front line will prove difficult but winter is on the way and if muddy conditions return in the South this will compensate for the U2 status halving the defence thus  it may be possible to hold the line and throw any reserves and new recruits to the Defence of the capital. This is attractive because the Nationalists can mass a higher density for offensive moves and a weak front will collapse more quickly.

The counter argument is that maintaining a strong line sucks more troops North to Madrid and eventually these will be cut off. Pulling back allows the Republicans to amass sufficient troops such that even unsupplied they will have sufficient strength to counter attack and breakout south and this allows more troops to escape thus preserving precious manpower for the summer of 1938.  The overriding backdrop to the dilemma is the superior manpower pool of the Nationalist forces will allow them to sustain losses while the Republic is seeing their Replacement Pool grow monthly..

The disadvantage of pulling back is that Madrid will probably fall a bit quicker. However the Nationalists have a higher troop density and can pierce the lie at multiple points so a reduced front at a higher density is preferable.

Thus the desition is made to pull back the line in a phased withdrawal into an “Egg” defence around Madrid taking advantage of the rivers to the south. The bulk of the troops will attempt to break the Nationalists deep but narrow penetration East towards Cuenca and to move South with as many troops as possible. To minimise Nationalist gains in dry weather this withdrawal will be phased leaving a nominal defence line gradually falling back East. However the northern wing will be allowed to loose contack with the Madrid defenders until it halts along the foothills of the Cordillera  Iberica.  The move will not be entirely passive and a counter attack force will be retained aroud Cuenca to try and reduce “The pocket”.

Looking at the bigger picture the Anarchist move to Grenada (frustratingly never getting the resources needed to capture the city) will be abandoned and eastern Andalucía abandoned.

On the Right wing offensive efforts to eliminate Zaragoza will be supplied but other than that the intension is to conserve SPs in winter except where local counter attacks are needed to seal any significant Nationalist breakthroughs. There will not be an attempt to hold in situ if falling back allows higher troop concentrations. In other words the Republic are resigned to the fact that they will not be able to hold the front static in in its present extent 1938 as they had successfully done throughout the summer of 37.  If however  they shorten the line and increase the average stack value from around 4/6 defence factors to 6/8 they hope that will stabilise the line for the 1938 Nationalist summer offensive.

Isolated breakthrough at Cuenca

Dec I 1937: Republicans Isolate breakthrough at Cuenca.

Nationalist Turn

Weather;  Land; D = Mud. E= Clear  Seas; Med = Rough. Atlantic = Storms
Supply: 2-3-8 art 61, 2-10 AA 88 (KL), 1-10 lt tk Dro (KL) in “Cuenca pocket” feed off GSPs
Replacements:  1/2 SRP recovered

Moves: 1 Res Pt expended to increase Rail Cap to 15.5.

Air activity: Mxd NT delivers 3 GSPs to ”Cuenca Pocket” , 1 Scatters.

Attack1:  2711 Part City (Eastern Hex of Madrid) Supplied 4-6 inf XX16, 4-6 inf XX 4. 4-6 art 2RG, 1-6 sec 8GC, 1-8 lt infs 4.5.6 and 7-6 inf XX13, 6-6 inf XXs 3,63, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 3LE, 1-8 mtn 8, 2-6 art 4P attack 3-6* inf XX 4, 2-6* inf 11Th (Int), 1-2-6 sec 9GA, 1-6 infs 4, 17, 1-6 sec 4GC, 1-6 art 1L (U2), 3pt Garrison @ 3:1 = HX. Lose 1LE, 3LE. Advance 2RG, 15XX, 4,5,6 lt, 6GC, 8 mtn  Garrison dispersed

Attack2; 3308 clear (E of Cuenca) Supplied  6-6 inf XX 102, 5-6 inf XX 11, 6-6 inf F (Mxd), 2-1-8lt tk (CTV)  bab, 2-1-8 art D, unsupplied 1-8 mb B (CTV), 2-1-8 cav 1E (Col) and Unsupplied, 2-10 AA 88 (KL), 1-10 lt tk Dro (KL), U2 isolated 1-8 lt tk LE, 1-8 mech S 2-3-8 art 61, (U2 isolated) with Mxd A, Ro 37 GS attack 3-4-5* inf XX 17, 2-3-5* XX 16, 2-1-8 cav 2 @ 4:1 (+1) = DH. Lose 17 XX.  Advance 11XX, F XX (Mxd), Bab,B

Exploitation: Bab, B to Cuenca

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+15 VPs)
French border;  Open.

Guerrillas;  (Initially. Hit Airbase at Cacares aborting the  SM.79- stationed there. However after rules check and thought , I have “ruled” that an intrinsic garrison prevents a guerrilla attack because it represents a  military presence in the hex. RAW in 39.D defines a garrison as “treated as a Static (Unit Type) “ so there is some ambiguity there . What do others think? Changed to rail hit at 3221

Reinforcements: All arrive unimpeded. I-16/t5 repaired.

Air Activity; Sortie 1; I-16/t5 escorts R-5, Pe.540 to bomb air base at 2235 (Logro) Intercepted by ME 109B who bypasses the I-16/t5 and aborts the Pe.540 for no loss. Insufficient bombing strength remains and the mission returns.

Sortie 2:  A-101 escorted by I-16/t5 attempts to bomb airbase at 3414 (E of Valdepena). CR.32 successfully bypasses the I-16/t5 and Kills the A-101 for no loss. (N +2 VPs)

Naval Activity;  NT-3,4 make 2  transport journey to ferry 4 Res pts from Gijon to Bibao. BBTF-1/CATF react but have Zero combat strength due to Stormy weather.    Transports complete journeys and return in the exploitation phase.

Replacements;  3 SRPs, ½ SRP (Int) recovered.

Moves: With no prospect of an early capture of Cuenca or the Madrid/Catalayud rail line the Republic decides after much debate to withdraw into Madrid and pull back behind the river abandoning a number of fortified positions to increase average defence strength.

Attack1: 2733 Clear (NW Zaragoza) All adjacent attack unsupplied 3-4-5* inf XX 73 @ 7:1 (-2) = DE.  Advance 2 XX.

Attack2: 3302 clear (East of Cuenca) Unsupplied (U1) 3-6* infs 66,67, 1-8 tks 6,10, 1-6 art 2L and Supplied 6-6 inf XX 35 (Int), , 2-6 eng ZM, 2-1-8 tks 1,P , unsupplied 4-6 inf XX 47, 3-6* inf XX 63 and  3-6* inf XX 22, 2-3-5 inf XX 29 and 1-8 AA vian (CTV), 2-1-8 cav 1E (Col) @ Supplied1-2-6 arts 13, 19, 2-6* inf 1V, 3-4-5* inf XX 17, supplied 6-6 inf XX 45 (Int) 2-6* inf 13 Dom (Int) 2-6 inf 150 (Int), 2-1-8 attack 6-6 inf XX 12, 2-1-8 art O, 3-1-2 sge art cav 2 @ 4:1 = DE.  102 cadre eliminated on retreat.  Advance 35 XX (Int), 68 XX, 45XX (Int), 19 art, 13 art ZM. (R +2VPs)