NOV II INSURGENT
Not unexpectedly, the Atlantic low reached southern Spain, causing torrential rains in Murcia and Valencia provinces while Aragon and Cataluna remained mired in mud.
Now faced with abominable weather on top of rough terrain and the formidable defenses of the “no pasaran” line, the Caudillo called off his offensive toward Valencia, just 25 miles short of that city, Spain’s largest after Madrid and Barcelona. Elite formation were pulled out of line and transferred to the vicinity of Zaragoza, straining the overburdened rail net. An offensive in the Ebro valley appears to be in the offing.
Although accorded low priority, Nationalist forces still in place attacked the remains of the coastal pocket, if on a shoestring budget (no ASPs). The Torrevieja bridgehead at the Segura estuary (23A:4309), site of last week’s daring beach evacuation, was liquidated and the town of Orihuela fell to concentric attack. A large number of prisoners were taken. Losses were light. Interestingly, the bag included a group of neutral British observers (on their way home by now) who had closely watched the beach evacuation in anticipation of some future day on which the BEF might have to be rescued in similar fashion from a French or Belgian beach (220/20 foresight!).
The Nationalist Fleet made a belated appearance under ample fighter cover, shelling the Segura bridgehead and keping a tight lid on the Valencia coast to prevent any further evacuations.
The main front from Valencia to the Pyrenees remained quiet.
Despite adverse weather and poor visibility, Savoia-Marchetti and Heinkel bombers resumed their raids on industrial targets in Barcelona, causing moderate damage (2 hits). Anti-aircraft fire remained ineffective.
Cartagena airbase received its first squadrons, attack bombers ready to support mop-up of the pocket and conduct naval patrol.
The French border is now closed again, but this hardly affects operations at this stage of affairs.
NOV II LOYALIST
Faced with the Nationalist Fleet and Italian submarines under ample fighter cover, the Loyalists refrained from any further evacuation attempts from the beaches of the pocket. Morale in the pocket plummeted, and several Anarchist infantry regiments deserted. Worse, the elite 2nd heavy artillery regiment also called it quits. The remaining troops, two infantry divisions and an Anarchist regiment, all without artillery and desperately short of ammunition and supplies, hunkered down around Elche for a last stand. The end is certainly in sight.
The Loyalists used the lull in the main-front fighting to beef up their defenses, both in the “no pasaran” line shielding the approaches to Valencia and in Aragon between the Ebro and Cinca rivers, where the next Nationalist offensive is expected.
The Republican Airforce was on naval patrol, but the strong fighter cover over the Nationalist Fleet (including the new Me-109s) discouraged any attacks.
The pocket has no hope to survive the next week. With its elimination, the slugging match is apt to resume. Loyalist front-line strength is now 16 to 19 CF/hex except in mountains, and is fortified or entrenched. This and the additional weather modifier will force the Insurgents either to hold off and stockpile supplies until spring brings fair weather, or make attacks that risk AR or possibly even AH results. They can well afford the losses (empty pool and ca. 120 InfRpl and 7 ArtRpl); at most places they can even afford a retreat because the Loyalists cannot dare to advance out of their fortified line into an exposed position. The problem is attack supply, which is so short that an expenditure of 4 or 5 ASP in an attack that neither causes losses nor gains ground cannot often be contemplated as the per-turn average of incoming ASPs is no higher than that.
By points according to the rules, the Nationalists are by now pretty much assued of a “decisive victory.” The current point score is 194:65 in their favor, 67 short of the needed 4:1 ratio. If the front no longer changes, the city counts in JAN I and JUL I deliver points at 42:11 (just 2 short of 4:1); and at game’s end at 217:41 (more than 50 over 4:1). Lastly, while the Insurgent pool is empty and apt to stay so in view of the abundance of Nationalist Rpls, the Loyalist pool now contains about 100 RE, for 100 points at game’s end, and with new Rpls now at a dribble that number is bound to increase. Thus, even if they make no further headway, the Insurgents should almost gain a 5:1 ratio, certainly one well in excess of 4:1.
Be that as it may, we are not playing to “win” and don’t care much about point scores. Rather, we’d like to see whether or not the Insurgents in our game can force a Loyalist surrender before game’s end. I think chances for that are rather slim, even though Elias isn’t sure whether he can survive 1938. We hope we both shall live long enough to find out.