INSURGENT SEP II 1937
The battle of the Jucar continued full blast. Bypassing the Reserva nacional to the south, the Nationalist main forces pressed forward through the Enguera hills to Canals on the Albacete-Valencia highway (23A:3906) and reestablished contact with the hedgehog at Alcira, but were not yet able to reinforce it. A hapless contingent of Loyalist armor and artillery was caught and obliterated at Enguera between the Nationalist main force and the Kondor group. With naval gunfire support the latter also made short shrift of Loyalist cavalry attempting to screen them. Italian light tanks rumbled on to the coast and holed up in Gandia. The hold onto the Alcira hedgehog and the link to the coast are still quite tenuous, but the main force now sits firmly astride the road and rail links into the Cartagena-Murcia-Alicante pocket.
Although their main effort was at the Jucar, the Nationalists also launched a secondary operation against the weaker western flank of the pocket. The attack obliterated two Anarchist divisions, took Cieza, and threatens to outflank the Loyalist Segura river position that protects Murcia.
All other fronts remained quiet.
Nationalist airmen redeemed themselves for past failures. While a raid by Italian SM-79s on Barcelona’s factories proved futile, another massive attack on the Valencia airbase got through with only negligible losses, caused extensive damage, and destoyed aircraft on the ground. This now gives the Insurgents a clear superiority in the air.
Nationalist upgrading of infantry divisions proceeds apace. The first three of the requipped units saw action at Cieza.
In anticipation of guerrilla and sabotage activities, the Nationalist command continues to pull Guardia Civil and Falange units out of the front lines, allocating them to security duty at airbases, rail junctions, and along the main rail links in the rear areas.
The Kondors at Alcira may or may not be able to hold their position, but they have served their purpose: They have prevented reinforcements from reaching the coastal pocket and bought time for the main force to block the only road and rail link and gain good jump-off positions for a final dash to the coast.
The pocket still contains 3 connected supply cities and is well stocked with supplies (8ASP), so its defenders need not fear supply shortages. Two ports allow naval supply to be traced. However, the front already shows first signs of crumbling, and lack of reinforcements will make it hard to hold out for any great length of time once the trap has snapped shut completely.
LOYALIST SEP II TURN
Their defenses in the Murcia-Cartagena-Alicante area crumbling, the Loyalists abandoned their efforts to break the ring that isolates the pocket. Instead, the troops in the pocket pulled back into a tighter perimeter shielding the key cities of Murcia, Cartagena, and Alicante. No attacks were launched against the Legion Kondor’s blocking position at Alcira, still weak on the ground but with solid naval and air protection.
All other fronts remained quiet.
The remnants of the Republican Fleet sallied forth to give protection to the lone infantry division rushed into Alicante.
In the air, Loyalist fighters sortied from Valencia to attack a forward airfield on the approaches to Alcira. They were met by Italian and Nationalist Fiats and lost several obsolescent Ratas while inflicting minor damage to the target.
The decision to throw the troops in the coastal pcoket to the wolves cannot have been an easy one, yet was probably the best under the circumstances. Success of a breakthrough was highly questionable and would not have been durable even if achieved. Moreover, attacks even at rather high odds entail the risk of HX or EX results, which greatly favor the Insurgents, given their ample stock of InfRpls and the overflowing Loyalist pool. The Loyalists now pay dearly for having missed their chance to squash the Kondor Flak regiment while there was still time. What they have accomplished, however, is to keep the front forward of Valencia stable without drawing on more than a minimum of troops from the Aragon-Cataluna sector, which they obviously consider absolutely vital. Meanwhile, the Kondor’s standing firm until relieved is cause for joyous celebration in all of Insurgent Spain.
The Cartagena-Mucia-Alicante pocket itself appears doomed in the long run, but may still hold for some time. It has a general supply source as long as the three cities remain “connected,” and can draw supply through Cartagena’s major port. Cartagena itself is an improved fortress and, as such, will be hard to crack. Will that take another intervention by the Regia Marina??