INSUGENT OCT II 36
The rain, in Spain, falls mainly in the … north. Storms have hit Navarra, Aragon, Cataluna and Castilla la Vieja and put the cramps into the transfer of Nationalist troops from the Biscay provinces to their new destinations. The south still enjoys favorable campaign weather.
In Aragon, the first troops newly arriving from Navarra attacked between Zaragoza and Calatayud, gaining ground and threatening to envelop Loyalist positions near the latter city. The isolated defenders in the mountains near Teruel were again resupplied by air, although this had to be done at night because of Republican fighter cover.
The heaviest fighting was at the Madrid front. The Nationalist continued their offensive from the west, recapturing Toledo and throwing Republican troops back to the outskirts of the capital. To the east, the Nationalists in the Henares valley went over to the offensive and recaptured Guadalajara. Strongly defended Madrid itself was not attacked, but the pincers from west and east now threaten the city’s communications.
In southern Castilla the Nationalists continued to press their advance, heedless of the Republican armor on their left flank. Spearheads are now astride the Cartagena-Madrid railway, the capital’s main life line.
At the Lorca front the Nationalists closed up to the fortified and strongly defended line running from just short of the city to the coast east of Aguilas. In the mountains to the north they continued their attacks. The last mountain position overlooking Lorca fell when the Anarchist Durruti Brigade skedaddled, leaving a Republican mountain battalion in the lurch. In the ensuing confusion, Italian tankettes managed to slip through, rumbling down into the coastal plain and pressing on into the town of Cieza, where they refuled from local service stations, then taking to the hills in anticipation of an irate response by Republican rear-area security forces.
The sea lift from Morocco continued without interference by the Republican fleet, which remained holed up in Cartagena.
Loyalist OCT II 36
On the Aragon front a limited Loyalist counterattack near Zaragoza succeeded in squashing the mechanized Nationlist spearhead and reestablishing a supply line to hemmed-in forces southeast of Calatayud. Patrols were pushed forward toward the Henares valley to interfere with with the Nationalist build-up at Guadalajara. Otherwise the front remained calm.
Around Madrid the Loyalists took their lines back from the Guadarrama foothills to shorter and stronger positions in the suburbs of the city and strengthened the front threatened front at Toledo.
In southern Castilla the Loyalists made a successful concentric counterattack against the Nationalist spearhead and regained control of the Madrid-Cartagena rail line. The gradual retreat of the covering forces from the mountains west of Albacete continued unhindered.
At the Lorca front the gap left by the loss of the mountain position overlooking the city was closed. The Italian tankettes near Cieza were overwhelmed by four regiments with air support. The fleet remained again inactive.
The advent of bad weather has given the Loyalists in the north a badly needed respite. Nevertheless, their Aragon front is hard pressed and will require reinforcements although casualties have so far remained minor. The Loyalists have not retreated from their salient close to Calatayud and so continue to pose a threat to the supply artery of the Nationalist forces in the Henares valley and at Guadalajara. This salient, however, is now dangerously exposed.
The continued resistance of the Nationalists in the mountains near Teruel is a thorn in the Loyalists’ side, making it difficult for them to reinforce and resupply their covering forces in the mountains between the Aragon and Madrid fronts.
At the Madrid front the capture of Toledo and Guadalajara has been an important Nationalist victory. At Toledo they can raise replacements and reinforcements close to the front and stand close to the Aranjuez-Madrid rail line, the capital’s last rail connection with the rest of Loyalist Spain. With Guadalajara the Nationalists now holda rail head to which a good-weather supply line can be traced through much of the time that weather is poor in the north.
In southern Castilla and Murcia the Loyalist have succeeded in stabilizing their front. The Nationalists will find further advance here difficult, especially once the weather turns foul.
Everywhere else the Loyalists are desperately weak, but likely to survive with some further losses of ground. They are then assured of ample reinforcements in both infantry and artillery. The arrival of these and of poor weather is apt to let the fronts solidify and turn the war into a World War One-style slugging match.
The Loyalists have scored a success with the destruction of all Nationalist combat-motorized forces: a mechanized regiment near Zaragoza and the Italian tankettes at Cieza. Owing to the dismal state of factory production these losses cannot be replaced until early next year. However, ground conditions in winter would have limited the usefulness of these units anyway.
The Italian submarines have yet to score a single hit. However, their presence has been a useful deterrent: it has kept the Loyalist fleet in port and allowed the Nationalist troop transfer from Morocco and the Canarias to proceed unhindered.