OCT II INSURGENT
While the Loyalists in the Murcia-Alicante pocket were still reeling from their failure to break through to Cartagena, the Nationalists attacked in full force and stormed both Murcia and Alicante, meeting with only half-heartded resistance. Losses were light. Many facilities in Murcia had been destroyed, but Alicante fell with its port and airfield undamaged. The main portion of the pocket is now reduced to a small area around Orihuela and Elche, with neither a port nor even an airfield. It still includes a Segura bridgehead at that river’s estuary, but the chances to use it as a springboard for a link-up with Cartagena have dimmed. The latter city, a strong fortress, is now completely and firmly encircled.
While continuing to pound the pocket, the Nationalists moved some of their elite units over to the main Valencia front and attacked along the Madrid-Valencia highway. They dented the new defense line by taking Bunol (23A:3705), a move that threatens to outflank the Loyalist front behind the lower Jucar river. However, the Loyalists managed to retreat in good order (DR on 5:1 -2) into a previously prepared position with strong fieldworks.
In southern Aragon, the Nationalists followed the Loyalists’ retreat and took over evacuated mountain positions as well as the city of Teruel, the last of the few cities the Loyalists had ever captured. Its murdered bishop is now avenged.
At sea, attempts by the People’s Airforce to catch some of the Italian submarines that were blockading Alicante remained fruitless. With the enemy fleet nonexistent and the airforce busy chasing subs, the Insurgents ferried supplies and a construction regiment unmolested from Mallorca to the mainland.
The Insurgents also launched another massive airstrike with all available planes against the Valencia airbase, but once again the results were disappointing: accurate AA fire brought down a number of the attackers, and no damage to speak of was done to installations or aircraft on the ground.
OCT II LOYALIST
Defying the odds, the Loyalists mounted yet another desperate attempt to break through from the pocket’s Segura bridgehead to Cartagena. Although the battlefield was beyond fighter range, the remainder of the Republican bombers and fighter bombers were sent out from Valencia to provide air support. They were waylaid and roughly handled by Fiat fighters, none of them got through, and only a few made it home. The Republican airforce is now effectively reduced to a few squadrons of fighters, of which only the remaining I-16s are a match for their opponents. Even without air support, however, the attack along the coast went in, but despite support by tanks that used the last reserves of gasoline it was once again stopped dead by Franco’s soldiers (AS at 6.5:12.0 -1).
Meanwhile, engineers, construction brigades, and denizens of Valencia worked feverishly to turn that city into a veritable fortress (read improved fort) and build strong fieldworks along the entire front between the mountains and the sea. Once again, “no pasaran” is the catchword now that Valencia is in danger of being attacked or ouflanked.
All other fronts remained quiet.
The deperation breakout attempt by the Loyalists was an excellent move. Launched exclusively with units from the pocket, who are doomed anyway, it did not put Cartagena at risk and was with few enough REs to attain 1/7 AECA. Despite probable odds of only 1:2, or 1:1 at the very best, this provided for a 1/3 chance of success (HX or DR). The Loyalists on captured 4409 could then have survived a DR upon counterattack by retreating to 4510, to make their way into Cartagena in the next turn. This addition to the relatively weak garrison would have been highly welcome. As it stands now, however, the rings around the pocket and Cartagena are firm, the pocket is U2 with no way to resupply it, and Cartagena, still with ample supplies and a port through which some ASPs could be sneaked in, can muster only 6CF on defense plus another 2 for its intrinsic garrison and coastal batteries. As things stand now, the pocket is kaput. To conquer Cartagena, on the other hand, will still require a determined effort.
In the air, the Insurgents have further added to their amazing record of hard-to-believe successes against ships, equally improbable failures against airbases, and an absurdly varying performance in air-to-air combat. All told, however, they have now achieved an almost absolute command of the skies.