JAN I INSURGENT
Drenching rain has returned to all of Spain. A high over the Azores (with good weather over the Atlantic) may or may not herald a change for drier conditions. Hampered more by mud than by the enemy, Nationalist troops poured in strength into the vacated Madrid corridor, securing Aranjuez and starting to rebuild destroyed communication lines. The massive offensive along the Cordoba-Madrid axis continued, but is now directed eastward toward Cuenca and is aided by a continuing effort of the Nararrese Corps operating from Guadalajara and having reached positions within 15 miles of that town. The offensive gained some ground and has widened the gap between Madrid any forces that could attempt a relief. Fighting in the mountains around Teruel continued despite abominable weather. Northeast of the town, fresh Nationalist mountain troops regained positions that had been lost the previous week. Also, air-supplied patrols southwest of the town continued their harassment and are interfering with traffic on the Valencia- Madrid rail line and road, the life line of the strong Loyalist forces at and west of Cuenca. Bitter fighting also continued north of Lorca. A strong contingent spearheaded by the newly landed *Dio lo Vuole* division of Italian volunteers in cooperation with five Falangist brigades broke through the ring that had encircled the Nationalist stronghold in the mountains of the Sierra de Espuna (23A:4112). A large number of prisoners were taken. However, strong Anachist forces still occupy the Argos valley (4013-4010) that separates the Espuna mountains from the large, Insurgent-held massif of the Sierra de Segura to the north. Sea lift of troops from Morocco continued. Nationalist submarines gave up their tight patrol of the coast off Aguilas to interfere with shipping to Alicante and Cartagena.
JAN I LOYALIST
Fresh troops have been raised, but under the poor weather conditions they were slow in getting toward the fronts. For the first time the new troops include a substanmtial number of divisions. Zaragoza and the front in the Aragonian plain were reinforced, and so was the Lorca front. Heavy fighting continued in the mountains southwest of Teruel. A major sweep by Loyalist troops that included the POUM Lenin detachment, newly organized as a division, netted most of the bothersome Nationalist patrols, but at a comparable cost in own casualties. Worse, because of the collapse of a cavalry regiment the ring around the Nationalist survivors has failed to close. In southern Castilla the Republicans have retreated farther and now hold a strong front centered on Cuenca. In this sector they now match Insurgent strength, but are laboring under supply shortages, having to rely on the periodically interrupted and low- volume rail line from Valencia. The Republican airforce received new Soviet fighters and attack bombers and attacked airfields and port installations at Almeria and Aguilas but, hampered by poor weather, did no damage. The Navy remained inactive.
The see-saw battles at the Lorca front have been an interesting side show. The Loyalists chose this sector for offensive action because here they enjoy the advantage of shorter and better supply lines: Lorca is close to their bases at Murcia and Cartagena, but can be reached from the more distant Insurgent heartland only by secondary roads and rail lines. Moreover, Lorca itself gives the Loyalists a front-near airfield and a point of orginin of replacements, and the large-capacity air bases of Murcia and Cartagena are nearby. A significant westward or northwestward advance from Lorca would unhinge the entire Nationalist mountain positions in the Sierra de Segura, whose recapture would remove any threat to the vital industrial area of southern Murcia. The Loyalist have poured substantial resources into the battle, so far with little to show for it except having forced the Insurgents to divert troops and supplies and possibly having forestalled a Nationalist offensive. Despite an initial slight superiority on the ground and in the air, successes have mostly been negated by Nationalist counterattacks. The Espuna mountains just north of the city have been a key to the fighting. They were seized by the Insurgents in a coup de main in October, before the fronts solidified. Jutting far into the Loyalist front, overlooking the supply line into Lorca, and keeping the city exposed to attack from three directions, they are a thorn in the Loyalists’ side, but are so strongly held that no direct attack has been attempted. So far, efforts to isolate the position in order to starve it out have come to naught as the Nationalists have always succeeded in reestablishing communications. On the other hand, Lorca itself, is fortified and strongly defended, has defied any direct Insurgent attacks. How matters will change once the weather improves remains to be seen. Equally interesting has been the continuous fighting in the mountains around Teruel. Here, the Insurgents have managed with a relatively small investment of troops to harass the communication lines to Teruel and Cuenca to such an extent that the Loyalists were forced to divert substantial troops and attack supplies. In that, the Insurgents were helped by supply air lifts to their patrols in the mountains, an ability their enemy lacks. It now appears that the Loyalists have finally managed to establish a continuous front forward of Teruel and Cuenca, but Insurgent detachments are still roaming the mountains in the rear.
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