INSURGENT OCT I 1937
Unseasonably early and heavy rains have turnd roads and fields in Aragon and Cataluna into a quagmire. This makes it even more unlikely that the long dormant front between Teruel and the Pyrenees will see any action for some time to come.
The Insurgents lost no time in taking advantage of having forced the Loyalists to abandon their attempts to restore communications with the Cartagena-Murcia-Alicante pocket. Franco’s main forces finally relieved the Kondor Flak regiment that had blocked the vital Jucar bridges at Alcira and widened the corridor to the sea to about 30 miles. The port of Gandia is operative and has already received supply shipments. The towns of Alcoy and Yecla, vacated by the Loyalists, were occupied without a fight. The line of the Jucar river has been secured except for a Loyalist bridgehead in the rugged country of the Reserva Nacional (23A:3805). All Nationalist Spain celebrates the Kondors’ valiant stand and eventual relief.
Faced with difficult terrain on the north front of the pocket, the Nationalists shifted their weight against the western flank, where the cities of Murcia and Cartagena are now in the front line. In determined attacks they broke into the perimeter both north and south of Murcia. Strong forces surged onto the Murcia-Cartagena rail line and are within striking distance of the coast. This has cut off the main portion of the pocket from Cartagena, its only major port. The only other remaining port, Alicante, is blockaded by submarines, and Murcia city with its industry is now threatened from the north, west, and south.
All other fronts remained quiet.
While signs of impending guerilla actions have become more ominous, security along vital rail lines and on airbases has been tightened. Further Falange, Carbinieri, and Colonial units were pull out of line, no doubt for such purposes in other rear areas. Also pulled out were the remaining Requete division, slated for a major refit under direct Army command.
While ground attack aircraft supported troops assaulting the pocket, Italian Savoia-Marchetti bombers raided industrial targets in Barcelona. Damage was slight, not enough to hamper production.
LOYALIST OCT I 1937
Faced with heavy losses in the pocket, the Loyalist command decided to shorten the front line in Valencia province in order to mount a stronger defense (now 14CF per hex in rough terrain). They evacuated Teruel as well as their Jucar brigehead in the Reserva nacional. Thanks largely to substantial factory deliveries of artillery, the new defense line is very strong (14CF per hex except in the high mountains and behind the Jucar river).
In the pocket the defenders pulled back to a perimeter that still includes Murcia, Orihuela, Elche, and Alicante. A desperate counterattack from both the pocket and Cartagena against the two Nationalist divisions that were blocking the Cartagena-Murcia rail line remained unsuccessful (AS on 2:1 odds). The defenders of Murcia are preparing for the worst, blowing up rail lines and the airport facilities.
The front between Terual and the Pyrenees remained quiet.
Meanwhile, disaster befell the remnants of the Republican Fleet. Caught at dusk off Alicante by waves of Nationalist aircraft of all types that zoomed in at low altitude, every vessel of any combat value was sunk or crippled. the Nationalists will now have full control of the seas.
The situation in the pocket has deteriorated decisively with the failure to reopen communications with Cartagena, the only major port. Supplies are beginning to run low, and only Cartagena poses more than an extensive mop-up problem for the Nationalists.
Having lost their superiority in the air some time ago, the Loyalists now can also no longer contest command of the seas. This put an end to their plans of evacuating at least some of the troops from the pocket.
Mop-up of the pocket can be expected to take no more than a few weeks. the Nationalists will then be faced again with having to slug it out against very strong defenses backed up by reserves to prevent breakthroughs. The only question is where they will launch their next offensive.