NATIONALIST AUG I 1938
Having cleared the Loyalisy Segre bridgehead at Lerida, the Nationalists got down to the hard work of trying to bulldoze their way into the “iron shield” main Catalan defense line that runs practically straight from Reus to the Sant Maurici mountains in the high Pyrenees (13:2927). They opted for a narrow-front attack out of their own bridgehead at the confluence of the Segre and Ebro rivers (13:3030). Both sides provided maximum air support, the Insurgents even diverting all of their bombers except the Savoia-Marchettis from their missions against Valencia. An attempt by Me-109s to intercept the Republicans ended in disaster (K by lowly old I-15), but at least this sacrifice kept the Ratas from interfereing with Insurgent ground support. The attack gained ground as far as Les Borges (13:3029), but, as so often before, the Loyalists managed to avoid any losses.
All other front sectors saw only minor reshuffling of troops.
The Barcelona red-eye continued, but remained ineffective. The diversion of much of the Nationalist bomber force to ground support in Cataluna presented Valencia with a welcome respite from the constant heavy air raids: Only a few SM-79s bombed the dock yards, but without causing significant damage.
LOYALIST AUG I 1938
Not daring to risk a possibly disastrous counterattack, the Loyalists contented themselves with shoring up their front and containing the bulge. Their position is still very strong: One of the two hexes flanking the bulge is a mountain hex, the other is shielded on two hex sides by the Segre river.
While the ground troops played their waiting game, the airforce bestirred itself to launch an attack on the Caspe airbase (13:3332), but with no success—and no losses to anti-aircraft fire either.
Another major Insurgent attack that caused no losses! To add insult to injury, Me-109 killed by I-15 (die rolls “12” and “2”), not even to mention the open French border and the lack of results of the air raids on Barcelona and Valencia. And soon the good campaign weather will end!
At least, the “iron line” east of Lerida has been dented (there was a small chance of AS and a minuscule one of AH), and this will stretch the Loyalist front. However, with only this one-hex break in the first line, two more lines to crack to get within 3 hexes of Barcelona, and summer almost over, chances of ending the campaign in 1938 now appear slim.
Only once, about 30 years ago, have I seen a greater streak of enduring luck. That was by a Wehrmacht opponent in an old pbm *Narvik* game, for whom at one time the probability of doing as well as he did dipped below 1 in 100,000 (needless to say, my Norwegians lost). Still a little more than a factor 100 to go to beat that record, Elias!
Well, I shouldn’t complain because this has kept the game going on for so long when both of us expected it to be over in the next few turns.
And another benefit: for lack of options to consider, our pace has picked up tremendously.