INSURGENT JUL I 1938
Undaunted by their earlier failure, the Insurgents renewed their attempts to dent the Cataluna front north of Lerida. This time they succeeded and reached the Segre at Balaguer (at 23:3129), upstream of Lerida. The latter city is now in what has become an endangered bridgehead. However, the Loyalists once again beat the odds, managing to retreat without taking losses.
Over the battelfield, the largest air battle of the war to date was fought. Insurgent fighters attacked well-escorted Republican ground support aircraft. While losing some outclassed Fiat CR-32s (one K) they brought down some Ratas and SB-2s (one A each) and forced the R-Zs to turn tail, leaving only a lone squadron of SB-2 over the trenches. While this was going on, Nationalist fighter bombers provided ground support undisturbed.
Meanwhile, mop-up around Castellon was completed. The last defenders of the smoldering town, the 22 Infantry Division, were overrun after their supporting artillery had called it quits. Construction brigades were brought in to build an air strip for fighters to protect the Navy blockading Valencia, repair the coastal rail line to connect Tortosa with Sagunto and Teruel, and start to get the port repaired.
In the environs of Valencia the defenses of the Chiva outpost were crushed in a massive assault by no less than 15 infantry divisions (though second-rate ones) and assorted support troops. Now only the city of Valencia itself is still firmly in Loyalist hands. However, the commander’s stinginess in allocating supplies backfired: A Guardia di Assalto battalion and an artilley regiment quit their positions in disgust and deserted to Franco’s soldiers.
The Nationalists withdrew security guards from the Miranda de Ebro-Valladolid rail connection so they could take over new duty on the recently conquered communication lines in Valencia province.
The entire Insurgent bomber force was called upon for massive raids on Valencia’s factories by all available aircraft: Junkers, Heinkels, Savoia-Marchettis, new Dorniers, and others in scrapped-together squadrons. Unbelievably, none of the six attacks scored a hit. However, the SM-81 red-eye finally managed to cause some damage to factories in Barcelona.
LOYALIST JUL I 1938
Swayed by the entreaties of Loyalist emissaries, the French Parliament decided once again to open the border to Spain. As long as it lasts, this takes the sting out the impending loss of Lerida by providing supply bases. (Three connected cities are needed, and without Lerida the Loyalists have only Barcelona and Tarragona, but France counts as a third if the border is open.)
In northern Cataluna, the Loyalists gave up ground in the Pyrenees to consolidate their troops in a shorter front forward of the upper Segre. They also withdrew most troops from Lerida. Only one infantry division and some construction workers were left behind in the city, where they busied themselves destroying everything that could be of value to the enemy.
In southern Cataluna, small corrections were made to improve the defenses. Preparations were initiated for construction of a third line of defense running from Tarragona to the Pyrenees.
The Loyalists command also managed to reconstitute two more infantry divisions that will make their front stronger than ever.
The airforce remained inactive, licking their wounds.
The Loyalists’ phenomenal luck continued unabated. What a turn! Another major attack weathered without loss, massive raids on Valencia causing not the slightest damage, the French border reopened, guerrillero strike successful, Natinalist imports to S.Sebastian turned back. The only flies in the ointment: air combat results no better than average, a night hit on Barcelona, and higher than statistical surrender losses at Valencia (not that that matters much).
Since the Aragon-Cataluna offensive started in MAR II, there have been 11 major attacks, all but one with higher than 50% chance of inflicting losses, but only two of them did that. The chance of getting away with losses no heavier than this is 6 to 7 in 1000. If it had been the other way round, a statistically somewhat more probable outcome, not a single CF would now be left in Cataluna. Frustration in the Nationalist command is reaching the boiling point. Interestingly, the only two attacks causing casualties occurred at the time when the Loyalists were receiving their massive reinforcements, so the disruption remained minimal. On the other hand, they were among the more important attacks as they helped to open the way to the coast.
On another matter, our guru reversed an earlier ruling regarding port damage: Engineers repairing an artifical harbor now remove 2RE of damage per 4MP spent rather than only 1. Also, he ruled the column headed “Maximum” in the Port Summary is to be read as the number of HITS that can be inflicted, NOT the maximum damage in RE capacity. This has very strange consequences: To make an artificial port non-“functioning” now calls for more than twice as many hits as are needed to reduce its capacity to zero; In contrast, a natural port (if there were one in Bell Tolls) would stop “functioning” when still having almost half its RE capacity operative. Based on his recollection of a conversion with John Astell regarding ports in an earlier game (with practically identical wording of the relevant rules) he had at first ruled that bombs or demolition score double hits of damage, but engineers still repair the damage only one RE at a time per 4MP spent, as would seem more logical. This new Supreme-Court ruling profoundly changes the situation at Valencia, which will now be very much harder to conquer: a Malta in Spain! The guru’s interpretation can be construed from the rules as written, but I can’t believe it is what the designers intended. If they did, I’d be interested in hearing their rationale re artificial and natural ports. In any event, I hope the rules for these will be worked over before we get to Grand Europa or another game with such ports.
Leave a Reply