INSURGENT JAN I 1938
A cold front moving in from the Atlantic brought freezing temperatures and light snow flurries to Aragon and Cataluna while the south of Spain remained mired in mud.
The Ebro battle continued. Having outflanked the fortified position at Quinto (13:3034) and forced its evacuation, Franco’s troops shifted their Schwerpunkt again to the south bank. With massive support by the airforce and heavy batteries firing across the river, they captured Azaila (13:3133) and are now approaching Hijar and Escatron. This time the Loyalists took heavy casualties (HX).
Troop movement from the south to the Zaragoza area still continued. Except for some changes of guards, all other fronts remained quiet.
Savoia-Marchetti and Heinkel-111 bombers renewed their attacks on Barcelona’s industrial facilities. This week, however, they encountered fighter cover and strengthened anti-aircraft batteries. New Ratas made short shrift of the escorting Italian Fiats (one A one K), but the bombers got through, scored some additional damage, and returned unharmed.
LOYALIST JAN I 1938
The ever vaccilating French government closed the Spanish border once again, but this will have little effect on events.
Thanks to new levies and generous support in materiel from the Soviet Union, the Loyalists patched up their battered Ebro front without much trouble and now stand prepared to face whatever may come. However, they are in no position to counterattack.
Emboldened by the lopsided victory over the Italian Fiats in Barcelona’s skies, the Republican airforce raised itself from its period of rest and recuperation and launched a grandiose attack on a minuscule target, an airstrip near Zaragoza, in the hope of catching Heinkels on the ground. Every available fighter and attack bomber was thrown in. While the outclassed Nationalist Fiats chose caution as the wiser course of action, German Me-109s rose to the challenge and caught the Republican fighter escort over its staging field. Although outnumbered, the Me-109s brought down some Ratas at no loss to their own, but were unable to stem the red tide. The attack bombers got through, but, largely because of poor visibility, caused no damage to speak of.
Having taken no losses for two months since liquidation of the Murcia pocket, the Loyalists are able to maintain their front-line strength despite the losses at Azaila and even have accumulated a tidy cushion of reserves. It will take a few more such defeats before they start hurting. Moreover, spring mud is in the offing, and in April and May a huge wave of reinforcements will come in, including no fewer than eleven new infantry divisions. (It’s a bit strange that the rules allow them to raise that much when they control less than 12 percent of Spain’s area and less than a quarter of her population. Maybe the reinforcements should be more tied to cities held.)