INSURGENT JUNE II 1938
Having consolidated their position around Tortosa and being faced with natural obstacles and strong defenses, the Nationalists shifted their Schwerpunkt once again to the north, attacking from the Noguera river north of Lerida toward the upper Segre. However, the Loyalists held fast, as they did in the first attack on that front way back in …..
Meanwhile, the Valencia pocket is falling apart. The defection of the 36th Division entrusted with guarding the Teruel-Valencia highway opened up an avenue to the sea. Nationalist infantry poured through the gap and reached the shore at Sagunto and Vall de Uxo (23:3703 and 3702), cutting the pocket in two. Mop-up in the foothills north of Castellon bagged some more Loyalist die-hards, including the glorious 2nd Shock Brigade, which, however, fought to the last man and inflicted serious losses on the attackers. Castellon itself, in ruins and with its port facilities completely devastated by sappers, was not attacked, but the situation of its defenders is desperate. At the fringes of the Valencia portion of the pocket, Nationalists following the Loyalist retreat flooded over the Jucar river and closed to the city proper from the south and east. An Anarchist brigade northwest of the city was wiped out after its supporting artillery had surrendered. At Chiva (23:3704) on the Cuenca-Valencia rail line, a lone, strongly manned and artillery-supported outpost is still resisting. Valencia itself is securely garrisoned by the Loyalists’ finest, including the two best International Divisions, and is well-stocked with supplies (25CF and 10ASP).
The Insurgents started to pull their strongest units out from the Valencia front, including the Navarrese Corps that had been advancing on Castellon from the Ebro estuary. Reduction of the Valencia and Castellon pockets is now left to the B-team. Also, with supply lines to Valencia from both Albacete and Calatayud now well in hand, the Insurgents withdrew their security forces from the Aranjuez-Cuenca-Valencia road and rail line
After having nursed their wounds and rebuilt to respectable strength, the Republican Airforce made an appearance over the battlefield north of Lerida in aid of their brethren on the ground. Me-109s of the Legion Condor rose to the challenge and shot down some escorting Ratas, but were unable to hold off the figher bombers. Nevertheless, their keeping the Ratas busy enabled Nationalist fighter bombers to intervene in the ground combat.
Valencia’s port came under attack by He-111 and Ju-52 bombers. Despite remarkable accurate anti-aircraft fire that forced the He-111s to turn back, the old Ju’s flown by Nationalist crews caused some damage. The Barcelona red-eye continued, but once again remained ineffective.
LOYALIST JUNE II 1938
Having weathered the Nationalist onslaught at the Noguera north of Lerida, the Loyalists in Cataluna contented themselves with minor adjustments to their front.
At Castellon the defection continued. Only the 22 Infantry Division and one artillery regiment are still holding out in the destroyed city. The defenders of Valencia and the Chiva outpost on the Cuenca rail line (23:3704) are bracing for whatever may come.
Influx of materiel continued despite the naval blockade. Supplies reached both Barcelona and Valencia. the Airforce remained inactive, but was strengthened by another squadron of Ratas.
After their streak of misfortune in their two attempts to reopen the way to Valencia, the Loyalists’ traditional spectacular luck has returned. All major Nationalist attacks since then have failed with the worst possible die rolls. The chance of getting away scot-free as they did, and with loss of territory only when that was guaranteed by the odds, was less than 2%. If this continues, capitulation by game’s end can still be averted. However, a similar streak in favor of the Insurgents would end the game then and there.
This turn of events has given the Loyalists time to rebuild entrenchments or forts all along their short front and along most of a back-up line one hex behind. This and the good defensive terrain now make it impossible for the Insurgents to get attack odds that preclude AS, and will force them into some that risk AR or even AH. Moreover, they can get even such odds only in good weather and with combat engineers that negate the fortification effect and will be lost in HX or EX results. Attrition in combat engineers, replaceable only at a rate of 1 RE per month, may could even bring the Cataluna offensive to a halt before the weather turns nasty. More than ever, the Insurgents’ only hope of achieving more than a “marginal” victory now is in avoiding a continuation of the adverse die rolls (the VPs for continued Catalan resistance and avoidance of capitulation, accruing from late ’38 onward, are apt to bring the final VP ratio down to less than 3:1 if a front three or more hexes forward of Barcelona can be held).
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