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Replay of the Africa Theater, JUL – SEP 1915

JUL I and II, 1915

North Africa

Italian forces continued their aggression in July. To buff their army’s strength, colonial officials replaced the colonial light regiment, albeit in unsupported form. The leading Italian rifle brigade seized an undefended Sirte. The metropolitan light regiment slipped further east along the coast, toward Sirte and a range of oases that it could raid regularly to further reduce Sanussi manpower inflows.

That reduction would be useful because in July 1916 the Sanussi accrued probably the most manpower they could, 4.5 points, due to control of many tribal areas in the Sahel as well as almost every oasis in the Sahara outside Rio de Oro. The Sanussi, however, suffered somewhat from having a camel unit in the replacement pool and being unable to replace it due to the limitation of having no more than one camel unit in play per friendly-owned camel recruitment hex. The Sanussi did replace 1-6 and 1-2-6 irregular brigades from the eliminated while isolated pool, for five points of manpower. Further Sanussi expansion promised little more gain, but they nonetheless continued their outward creep into Chad and to within movement range of Senegal.

African natives continued to rebel more strongly as the war passed, with the lone tribe in Portuguese Guinea both rebelled and immediately expanded to level-2 in July.

Central Africa

French forces started the end of the Cameroon Campaign in July by upgrading a colonial mountain brigade from 2-3-6 to 3*-4-6, landing it in Victoria, and overrunning the German battalion defending Duala.

German loss: 1*-2-7 jaeger battalion and the Cameroon supply network

The French then mostly boarded ships and moved to the southern Cameroonian port of Kribi, from which they could more easily overrun or attack the Germans south of the major river in August.

British forces continued the conquest by attacking Bertua at the far eastern end of the German position. Maximum odds and a long-prepared tactical plan resulted in complete victory for the British.

Entente loss: SP

German loss: 1*-2-7 jaeger battalion and SP

The British then shifted their logistical support to come through Duala via a division of native porters, so that their campaign could continue in August.

In response to defeats on both ends of their line, with no supply network, German forces in Cameroon resigned themselves to eventual defeat. The jaeger battalions, two and a half regiments worth, assembled in Jaunde with three supply points and 30 newly-created general supply points. The construction regiment, unable to reach Jaunde, marched away southeastward to cause any trouble it could. Behind it, the garrison of Jaunde looked forward to a 15 month siege and a dramatically better than historical performance.

South Africa

While clustering for protection the Portuguese nonetheless continued to oppress the nearest rebel tribe and finally reduced it from level-2 to level-1.

South African forces, awaiting the October invasion, edged northward to better overawe the natives.

Free of Portuguese and Boer influence for the first time, the Mbunda tribe in southeastern Angola promptly increased its rebellion from level-3 to level-4 and fielded the first African unit on the DJ05 map. It naturally moved westward to influence a neighboring tribe to follow in the Mbunda footsteps.

German forces shifted northward and slid past the seaward Portuguese “flank” to position for an attack across easier terrain in August.

East Africa

Inspection of the replacement cost chart indicated that German units are cheaper by about half than their strength would indicate. That being the case, the Germans in East Africa promptly replaced 2-4-7 machinegun battalion and upgraded a 1-2-7 to 2-4-7 strength. Those two units, entrenched on the main invasion route from Mombasa and supported by the lone German artillery unit, then freed all the jaeger riflemen to protect the other invasion routes into central Tanganyika with truly formidable strength. British forces in Mombasa could only watch in dismay and pray the Germans would not roll the dice and attempt to win the campaign in one fell swoop.

AUG I and II, 1915

North Africa

Italian forces continued their aggression against the Sanussi in August as their units achieved the appropriate arrangement, in coastal strongholds, from which to raid outward in the future. The Italians aimed to either tie down additional Sanussi forces to hold the oases near the coast or to deny the manpower from communities there to Sanussi recruiters.

Two British colonial regiments, a British irregular brigade, and a French light battalion departed the Cameroon Campaign to contest Chad with the Sanussi.

Sanussi forces continued their growth and aggression too. Near Senegal, Sanussi quartermasters distributed batteries of modern German mountain guns to three brigades of previously unreliable, now enthusiastic camel cavalry (1-0-7C to 1*-7C upgrades). After moving into a central position in August, the Sanussi facing Senegal could either drive to the Atlantic coast and attack a French garrison near Rio de Oro, or attack a part of the French frontier defense in Senegal proper in September. Meanwhile, northeast of Lake Chad, where British irregulars from Cameroon had gone to raid Sanussi-loyal oases, the Sanussi dispersed the band after light combat. The British were pleased because the Sanussi paid for the victory and the British wanted to re-recruit the band in East Africa.

Entente “loss:” 1-6 irregular cavalry brigade

Sanussi loss: SP

Central Africa

German forces in Cameroon consumed four general supply points in the Entente initial phase and three in the Central Powers’ initial phase.

British and French forces hermetically sealed the German force in Central Cameroon into its one-hex pocket, preparatory to placing them under siege in September. The British could not achieve an attack with plausible odds (1:1 with -1 modifier would be achievable but lunacy) and the French would not risk irreplaceable units for uncertain gain in a 3:1 attack to probably exterminate the Germans the quick way. The remaining French units in western Cameroon moved back to the coast and began taking ship to Mombasa, where the first five units arrived before September.

A stray French unit from southeastern Cameroon and the garrison regiment of Gabon combined to isolate the stray German construction regiment, so that it could not draw supplies late in the month and immediately surrendered.

German loss: 0-1-5 construction regiment, isolated

South Africa

Portuguese forces in central Angola converted a supply point into general supplies, to offset the effect of the Germans having disassembled both the local supply network and the two eastern Portuguese stacks’ link to any port.

South African and British colonial forces continued to wait in northern Namibia for the word from London to invade Angola.

In Angola, the Germans massed and attacked the Portuguese garrison of the port city of Benguela. The partially-supported Portuguese force could have drawn German blood, the odds were only 3:1, but superior German morale gave them a decisive victory.

Portuguese loss: 2x SP, 1*-2-5 rifle regiment, 1-2-4 colonial regiment, .33 irrelevant morale points

German loss: SP

The Germans then spread out to cantonments at tribal home hexes in coastal and central Angola.

East Africa

Nothing noteworthy happened on either side.

SEP I and II, 1915

North Africa

Italian light troops began raiding eastward out of Sirte while French camel troops continued raiding southward from Morocco and Algeria, both to minimize Sanussi manpower recruitment.

The French added a light regiment to the pair of camel battalions in garrison in the only port in Mauretania, added an artillery battery to the regiment, and thus rendered place and force safe for another month.

Along the Sahel frontier, British and French garrisons of many coastal colonies moved north to take back ownership of various tribal areas, towns, and an oasis or two, to further minimize Sanussi manpower recruitment.

The Sanussi Brotherhood recruited 3.5 manpower points in September, a large but realistic influx.

An African tribal rebellion in Chad expanded from level-2 to level-3.

Central Africa

The German pocket in Cameroon consumed six total general supply points during the month. In two months, another supply point would need to be converted. With their force of five battalions eating inefficiently, the Germans also replaced a 1-6 jaeger battalion inside the pocket, from accumulated manpower and special replacements. The Entente contented itself with placing the pocket under close siege, in the same hex, and consoled itself with the fact that by the time the pocket surrendered, the units that conducted the siege would no longer have to demobilize for a significant period before re-entering the war. Normally three British colonial regiments demobilize when the Cameroon campaign ends, then return to service for East Africa later.

South Africa

Portuguese forces in central Angola consumed eight general supply points and completed the suppression of a level-1 rebellion back to a peaceful status. Heavier terrain shielded the two remaining Portuguese camps and the occupants hoped to remain safe until the South Africans could save them in October.

A new rebellion appeared in Angola, not surprisingly very near the existing level-4 rebellion, then expanded immediately to level-2 status.

East Africa

A new tribal rebellion broke out in far northeastern Mozambique, level-1, as if to balance that the Portuguese in the far southwest completely suppressed the rebellion that had briefly appeared there.

A large French force completed assembly at Mombasa and a part of the force pushed inland along the railway along the German frontier. The town of Tanga lay open for the 13th month, adjacent to both Mombasa and the German frontier defenses, but tsetse flies defended the town better than any jaeger and even without it the Germans would retain a functional supply network. British administrators further north called-up a brigade of native raiders and started it marching toward Mombasa.

German forces in Tanganyika welcomed yet another jaeger regiment to the defense force and provided it with the standard artillery complement.

Notes and comments to this point

  • French colonial and Army of Africa, and British colonial, manpower is like gold. None of those forces will accumulate 5 points during the whole war in Africa and the French get no foreign manpower at all, making their best units absolutely irreplaceable.
  • Italian, metropolitan and colonial, and Indian, manpower is surprisingly plentiful and all three forces can replace a few units gradually during the war in Africa.
  • Given that German units enjoy superior morale, there is no safe attack against German troops at any odds, but the Entente is able to mass against native and Boer units for assured results in many cases. Being safe slows campaigns but losing units would slow them more.
  • I’ve come to believe that the Sanussi should, at the minimum, place each Italian coastal enclave under siege. That would reduce Italian mischief, which otherwise can get out of hand when the Sanussi attack the French and the Italians get some reinforcements from Europe (per the OB, nothing extra) and replace a couple of units. The Italians in mid-1915 have real strength, relative to a bunch of overstretched irregulars.
  • Aside from the Italians, nobody has any incentive to take the fight to the Sanussi. The French and British might pick off a stray 1-0-7C or 1-6, but they’d be crazy to attack with any chance of an EX result. Even the Italians have bigger fish to fry; if they can hold the 3 cities, they’ve accomplished their mission and no morale point loss against the Sanussi helps with the war in Europe.
  • All that said, I think if I ever play the Sanussi again, I’ll probably invade the Sahara immediately with just a few, weak units – to max the manpower income – but actually attack the Italians on the coast as soon as the interior is cleaned-up and the supported Sanussi can all mass. Take a swipe at a weak port to attract the NGS, just maybe succeed anyway but probably get a bloody nose, then really whack another port on the same turn to get a probable win that could cripple the Italians in Libya and cost them…about 18 morale points in Europe over the course of the war.
    Then I think after a year of rebuilding I’d push a real Sanussi invasion into Algeria somewhere, just in time to let the eastern Berbers have a successful rebellion and cost the French some real units and morale points. Maybe the western Berber could even be dug out of their prisons by a dedicated Sanussi effort.
  • What cheeses me off intensely is the Germans in Namibia being allowed to run and hide in Angola. On the historical schedule in Europe, that completely screws the British, who can’t finish the Namibia campaign for a year past historical. It further ticks me off that the historically damp squib of a Boer Revolt basically can’t go anywhere near that badly for the Boers with any remotely plausible series of rolls…it would take Boer decisions that are deliberately self-destructive to even come close to historical (maybe the Boers voluntarily disband all their units during their first initial phase?). I’m also unhappy about the Germans in Cameroon being able to squat pretty safely on a pile of GSPs for half the war, though in that case the Entente at least gets some benefit from not ending the campaign. All those British and German morale points matter and the rules shove them away from historical results, which can only be achieved if the CP player wants to do badly.
  • I fear East Africa will go the same way, but there are more variables there and it may not. And, of course, the Entente has a huge ability to shift units between theaters where that didn’t happen historically, so the Entente should be able to at least start the various campaigns earlier than historical. I may have gone wrong in some of those decisions (a French amphibioius invasion of Namibia in about October 1914 might’ve been just the ticket, retrospectively, rather than hammering the Berbers).

Replay of the Africa Theater, JAN 15 – JUN 1915

Note: While playing the May 1916 turn of the Africa Theater, as part of DJ05, we discovered a modestly huge error: there is no minimum movement in Africa and we had been minimum moving freely. Under the rules, if a unit lacks the MP to enter a hex, it may not enter a hex even if that one hex movement would be the only hex it moved or fashion in which it spent MP during the phase. This certainly mattered to our results. Given both of our unhappiness with some operational decisions, neither of us felt as though resetting the theater would be a bad decision, so we reset the theater. On later review, we did not stop making operational errors in the second playing either.

JAN I and II, 1915

No African rebellions spread or increased in intensity during this bi-monthly period.

North Africa

Entente forces passed the first month of 1915 defensively in northern Africa. Italian forces welcomed their mounted rifle comrades back from the isolated replacement pool but otherwise made no noteworthy moves. French forces cursed mud in Morocco and waited for dry weather and a less costly, more certain victory. In Western Sahara, French forces evacuated Timbuktu by the magic of river transportation and took up positions more than half way to Dakar.

Sanussi forces continued to expand west and southwest, their scouting forces moving to positions all around the periphery of the Sahara from which they could raid into northern Algeria or Morocco, Spanish Rio de Oro, or the northern edges of the colonies along the northern Gulf of Guinea. Only in the far west, toward Dakar, did Sanussi expansion continue across the desert with prospect of further easy advance to come. Main force Sanussi units deployed widely across all fronts, easily able to defend the new empire from attacks by local Entente forces but not massed for any significant attacks.

Central Africa

British and French forces continued to build-up against Cameroon in January. A French battalion invaded Cameroon from the southeast to take the far eastern city of Karnot. An irregular labor division worked its way across southern Nigeria toward the northeastern prong of the invasion of Cameroon, where it would extend the Entente supply line. Supply points continued to flow into Nigeria by ship and into Cameroon by river boat and native porter. At the front, Entente and German remained locked in positions of best advantage to maintain the pressure or the supply network, respectively.

Southern Africa

South Africa’s defense forces made considerable progress toward suppressing the rebellion and conquering Namibia at the start of 1915. Loyal Boer trainees refilled the ranks of the first of nine eliminated loyal Boer brigades and moved into a provincial garrison. After the lone Boer unit adjacent to Johannesburg surrendered, freed-up loyal field force units completely encircled the five rebel units west of Johannesburg. Colonial British units in Rhodesia and Bechuanaland positioned themselves in the south of their colonies to best hinder any potential Boer or German move eastward across the middle of the continent.

British loss: 2 morale points for enemy-owned city in South Africa

Boer rebels mourned and rejoiced in unequal measure after New Year’s Day. Three of six units in the pocket around Mafeking surrendered during their initial phase due to being U-2 and isolated. The die-hard remainder of those units funneled into upgrading a construction regiment to a brigade (note: this may have been a rules error, upgrading in ZOC). Simultaneously, a supply point appeared in Mafeking and the Boers immediately broke it into general supply to sustain themselves for probably three months or more. The three hex pocket, being a supported brigade, an unsupported brigade, and a rifle regiment with a stray fractional manpower point, then waited, temporarily well fed, to see what the loyalists would do about the situation. Meanwhile, near the Okavango, the main Boer force remained at U-2 and unable to move. German forces provided no help to the Boers, being unable to break the siege in the south or get supplies to the force in the north in time to save the rebellion.

FEB I and II, 1915

Mud again oppressed the prospects of battle, but both sides took notable actions in February 1915. French administrators recruited an irregular unit to replace the Marins garrison of Upper Senegal Niger (North), which joined the remaining regular units in the retreat toward Dakar. Italian forces edged outward from their coastal cities, unimpressed by Sanussia forces remaining within reach of the coastal region, and ended the month holding not only three cities but also three oases near them. Sanussi forces from the Sahel edged southward, seizing several African tribal homelands and indoctrinating them to be another source of Brotherhood manpower. In Upper Senegal, main force Sanussi units came up and easily destroyed the French garrison.

Entente loss: French 0-1-6 irregular brigade

Sanussi loss: nothing

Central Africa

British and French forces continued to rationalize their pressure points and build-up for the main attack in Cameroon. Minimal Entente forces held defensible terrain in the southwest, northwest, and north, which forced the Germans to face off with them along the supply network road. The lone French battalion from the southeast continued to swim and chop forward through horrendous terrain toward Dzem. The main Entente advance, from the northeast, continued to receive reinforcements in expectation of attacking or overrunning something in the middle of the year, but again holding German forces pinned in front of it to maintain their supply network.

Southern and Eastern Africa

Mud continued to freeze Portuguese operations in Angola, whereas mud and insufficient forces combined to freeze every sides’ operations in Eastern Africa.

Mud protected everyone in South Africa and Namibia too; in the only notable action, a loyalist force positioned itself to overrun one hex of the rebel pocket.

MAR I and II, 1915

North Africa

The return of clear weather mattered not at all in Libya, Tunisia, or Algeria, but French forces in Morocco finally continued their offensive against the Berbers in March. At Taza, French forces massed 25 strength against 4 defense and both Berbers attempted to retreat before combat: both failed. Rough terrain and Berber home field advantage balanced adverse terrain expertise and superior morale for an DH result.

Entente losses: SP

Berber losses: 1-2-6 irregular brigade

The second Berber retreated into Spanish Morocco with both Berber supply points. The French then exploited to continue their grand plan.

Berber forces replaced two 1-2-6 irregular brigades, evacuated indefensible Er Rachidia, Quarzazate, and 0478 to the South of the Atlases, and clung to their widely separated coastal strongholds and surrounded Khenifra.

Sanussi achievements in March proved the value of incremental improvement. After a Turkish blockade runner landed equipment and ammunition, Sanussi forces upgraded 1-2-6 irregular brigade to 1*-2-6 near Tripoli. The newly aggressive Italians could not be allowed to threaten the Brotherhood’s main ammunition hoard and prime recruiting grounds of Fezzan and Tripolitania. Sanussi recruiters brought an impressive three manpower points into oasis holding pens from which roving emirs could replenish the ranks of any weakened brigades. At the front, Sanussi forces cautiously continued south into Nigeria and Chad and west toward Dakar, but caution and security in the face of significant European regular forces kept both advances minimal.

Central Africa

Clear weather significantly shifted the balance of power in Cameroon too. The French battalion from the southeast finally cut the Germans off from the bit of their supply network that extended to Dzem in that direction. Simultaneously, British forces finally took advantage of months of strength building, supply assembling, supply line extending, and anti-Sanussi garrisoning, to attack the German defenders of Fumban. Adverse terrain expertise balanced the terrain but German morale superiority over the colonial attackers shifted the results away from DR directly onto EX.

Entente losses: SP and 2*-6 British Colonial regiment

German losses: 1-2-6 jaeger battalion

The British could neither advance nor exploit forward due to being at the uttermost end of their supply line, but they did adjust their position for optimal future action.

The Germans replaced their eliminated jaeger battalion and completed forming a construction regiment during the month. Operationally, German forces abandoned Fumban, and consolidated their position in the south. German forces occupied the triangle Duala on the northwest cost, thru Oyem east of Spanish Guinea, thru Bertua in the center of the colony, along the main road and railroad back to Duala. That region, the core of Cameroon, lay exposed to Entente attack from the northeast at Bertua or along the coast at Duala, but otherwise enjoyed the protection of the Sanaga River to its north. The region contained exactly the five connected towns necessary for adequate food and laundry services.

Southern Africa

Portuguese forces in Angola rejoiced at the breaking of dry weather and finally attacked a rebellious tribe. The tribe had been at level-2 rebellion during February but became even more unfriendly during March and the Portuguese attack successfully reduced it from level-3 to level-2, at the cost of an SP, instead of wiping out what had been a level-2 rebellion.

South African forces took advantage of newly dry weather to overrun the rebel Boers in Mafeking. The South Africans then positioned themselves to overrun the remainder of the pocket during April.

German forces welcomed a construction regiment to the defense of Namibia.

Eastern Africa

The Royal Navy finally sunk the SMS Konigsberg during March, but German forces salvaged plenty of equipment from it and duly replaced a 1-2-7 machinegun battalion to stiffen the colony’s defenses.

APR I and II, 1915

North Africa

The cautious Sanussi advance toward Dakar continued but that toward the South largely stopped, so the French attack against the Berbers at Khenifra proved the only noteworthy event of the month. French forces in overwhelming strength spent ammunition lavishly and the Berbers, unable to safely retreat, responded in kind. Superior French morale and terrain expertise mostly counterbalanced Berber home field advantage and the wooded rough terrain so that a French setback was unlikely – and they proved victorious.

Entente losses: 2x SP

Berber losses: SP, 1-2-6 and 1-6 irregular brigades

After victory over the last Berber stronghold away from their coastal enclaves, the French front line against the Berbers amounted to only 11 hexsides, down from 16 at the start of the world war and 19 after the offensive began segmenting the Berber positions. The Berbers, however, remained as militarily strong as they had been and deployed their forces much more compactly, so that offensive action no longer remained unthinkable – though it certainly remained difficult.

Sanussi forces continued to maneuver their way westward as French colonial forces cautiously withdrew ahead of them.

Everywhere Else

Mud weather almost everywhere south of the Sahel turned April into a slow month, though with a few notable events. Colonial administrators finished pushing a third division of native labor onto porter duties into northeastern Cameroon and British and French forces duly advanced to the last positions they could take before exterminating the German supply network. Portuguese forces in Angola attacked a tribe at level-2 rebellion and, despite the mud, reduced it to level-1. South African loyalists reflated another Boer brigade for garrison duty in one of the southern provinces of the Union. Its political support broken, the Boer Revolt collapsed and the movement’s military forces in the field largely surrendered – one brigade went into exile and sloshed fifty miles toward Namibia. South African forces flooded toward Namibia, quickly by rail or slowly by foot and hoof but both with conquest in their hearts.

MAY I and II, 1915

North Africa

As clear weather continued along the Mediterranean Sea coast, Entente forces moved forcefully against natives and Germans alike. Italian forces grabbed the biggest headline of the month with a series of sorties that almost surrounded the Sanussi garrison of Nasirah oasis impressively then badly bungled the resulting battle. The Italian force included cavalry, light troops, and almost all the artillery and rifle units in the colony. The light units negated the Sanussi desert combat advantage and the very common 6:1 attack resulted in the very common EX result due to the very common combat roll of 1.

Entente loss: 3x SP, 1-2-7 light rifle regiment, 2*-6 colonial light rifle regiment, 1/3 morale point

Sanussi loss: SP, 1*-6 and 1*-2-6 irregular brigades while isolated

The Italians then exploited back to Zaura, Tripoli, and a couple of oases.

Further West, seven French light units Morocco by ship or boat for duty in Cameroon, where the first wave went ashore at Victoria.

In the Western Sahara and along the southern fringe of the Sahel, British and French forces took up a neat cordon defense that the Sanussi would be unable to attack usefully at any point due to mud.

Offensively, the Sanussi duly followed-up slowly the French and British, particularly in Niger Military Region – North, where the French withdrew their garrison after losing ownership of all towns and oases.

Defensively, the Sanussi sent three brigades from around the central Sahara into or toward Libya to reinforce the defense of the core oases against the strangely aggressive Italians.

Sanussi forces also recruited 3.5 manpower points, a high, a new unit of camel troops in Timbuktu, received another new unit into the replacement pool from Oudane in the far West. In Libya, to stand-off the bloodied Italians the Sanussi upgraded one each 1-6 and 1-2-6 units into 1*-2-6 strength.

Berber forces replaced 1-2-6 and 1-6 units in West Morocco.

A level-1 rebellion in Chad expanded to level-2 intensity.

Central Africa

A rare battalion of British regulars, scheduled to debark in Mombasa found itself shortstopped at Port Harcourt and sent up the Niger River to join the invasion of Cameroon from the northeast. The men had heard about tsetse flies and seemed happy at the change while they practiced with a newly provided battery of mountain artillery, originally manufactured in 1873 and dug out of some Boer War-era demobilization site for this new conflict.

South Africa

South African recruiters sent enough reformed rebels to the ranks in May to, with the dregs of the existing depots, rebuild two Boer brigades for garrison duty. A colonial light rifle battalion simultaneously absorbed another battery of those old mountain guns. The new Boer brigades completed, again, the Dominion’s provincial garrisons with a picket line along the southern border of Bechuanaland to prevent cavalry raids from the north. The Dominion of South Africa spent May putting forth every effort toward the conquest of Namibia, both at home and at the front.

The South African invasion of Namibia went forward in two prongs to solid initial success. A lone brigade of cavalry advanced along the coast to occupy Luderitzbucht, the southern Namibian port and rail yard, and thereby formed the logistical basis for a subsequent advance into the heart of the colony. Three brigades lunged directly up the rail and road line into that heart to attack the German battalion defending Reheboth. The South Africans achieved 6:1 odds after the Germans failed to retreat before combat, but the Germans could retreat safely so they conserved ammunition and did so after a few skirmishes in an DR result.

Entente loss: SP

German loss: nothing, except the supply network broken

South African forces naturally advanced into the town while others spread out to the East and West to prevent cavalry raids from cutting off the invading army.

While white troops hogged the headlines in central Namibia, a colonial battalion amphibiously assaulted the police station in Swakopmund, the northern port of the German colony, and found it devoid of defenders. While the colonials began rounding up unemployed dock workers a powerful rifle regiment of South Africans came ashore in exploitation to truly defend the place.

The landing craft of the Royal Navy then departed for Mauritius to pick up a newly formed regiment of field artillery.

North of Namibia, the Portuguese army in Angola suddenly took notice of its peril. German troops in Namibia had no compunction about invading a neutral colony and not only lurked in position to do so strongly but also lacked a supply network in Namibia. All those natives, who the Portuguese had been busily suppressing for profit, suddenly looked like actual threats who would gleefully supply German invaders with endless food. The Portuguese thus moved away northward to the mountainous line through the center of the colony where all the area garrisons could work together for mutual defense. A casual attempt to suppress rebels near Huambo failed at 6:1 with a modified 0 combat roll.

For their part, the German defenders of Namibia lacked any good options by mid-May 1915. One supply point formed 30 general supply points, to sustain the small force for some months to come, but the colony was clearly lost. That the exiled Boers overawed a level-3 rebellion in Angola from going to level-4 proved further disheartening. Except for the slow and out-of-position construction regiment and some general supply points too numerous to cart away, German forces then sprinted northward, into Angola and to safety from pursuing Entente forces for the time being.

East Africa

Tanganyika’s defenders replaced 2-1-6 heavy artillery battalion with the proceeds of the annual blockade runner from Germany. The artillery might not ever attack, but it will support various lighter units and increase the defense of the colony by much more than a single point.

Britain’s focus on everything except Uganda finally cost the Empire in May as the previously unhappy level-1 rebellion there became positively disenchanted with events and became a level-2 rebellion.

JUN I and II, 1915

North Africa

After an eventful month that removed a lot of Entente units from the command, the Entente nonetheless continued its aggression in June. Italian forces kept their central threat alive but worked primarily to setup a July move to occupy Sirte, the only Sanussi port. French defensive forces organized more completely to withstand the Berbers and Sanussi in the absence of the best mobile units of the French, now gone to Cameroon, but French camel units took positions on the southern frontier and raided numerous oases, to cut back on Sanussi manpower recruitment. The Sanussi re-took those places, and continued edging toward Senegal, but would continue to lose many frontier oases regularly.

Central Africa

By the end of exploitation, British in the east and French forces facing Duala both stood ready for serious efforts against the static Germans in Cameroon, to take effect upon the onset of clear weather or July, respectively.

South Africa

South African forces continued their frenzy in June. Four brigades of home defense militias demobilized after May’s departure of the last enemy Boer unit from Bechuanaland, so another wave of garrison jockeying consumed much effort in June. In Namibia, surrounding the German construction regiment in movement then overrunning it in exploitation proved scarcely more challenging. That overrun cost Germany its last city in Namibia and thus its replacement pool and half accumulated manpower point. Elsewhere along the front, the South Africans spread widely but strongly along an east to west stretch that would prevent German cavalry raids and somewhat retard native rebellions.

Portuguese forces in Angola prayed the Germans would leave them in peace but nonetheless split into three armed camps based on the three sector garrisons, each well provided with supply points and at least some artillery and so with some hope of bloodying, or even surviving, a German attack. Two camps, adjacent to a rebellious tribal region, combined their efforts and again failed to reduce the angry locals closer to subservience.

German forces continued to consume general supply points while taking ownership of four native tribal areas to provide them with subsistence until the Entente could invade Angola in October. Given the schedule of events and the requirement to consume general supply points first, we removed the German general supply points from play at this time.

In Europe, months earlier, the Entente took the decision to provide all foreign aid to Portugal as early as possible, rather than on a historical schedule, and thus to bring Portugal into the war in October 1915. That decision cost the Entente some equipment for its armies early in the war and eventually brought the Entente the Portuguese Expeditionary Force of two reinforced divisions (which are subject to disbanding upon a Civil War that the rules make very likely, whereas it historically did not happen). What turned out to be much more relevant was that the Germans in Angola would be vulnerable to vengeful South Africans a full five months earlier in DJ05 than they would have been on the historical schedule.

That said, it seems an unintentional quirk in the rules that Germans can invade Portuguese colonies and hide in them, safe from both from pursuing Entente forces and Portuguese reinforcements from Europe.

East Africa

German forces in the East welcomed yet another new jaeger regiment to the front in June and made sure it towed two batteries of guns on its way to garrison Mount Kilimanjaro.

Replay of the Africa Theater, AUG 14 – DEC 14

Note: While playing the May 1916 turn of the Africa Theater, as part of DJ05, we discovered a modestly huge error: there is no minimum movement in Africa and we had been minimum moving freely. Under the rules, if a unit lacks the MP to enter a hex, it may not enter a hex even if that one hex movement would be the only hex it moved or fashion in which it spent MP during the phase. This certainly mattered to our results. Given both of our unhappiness with some operational decisions, neither of us felt as though resetting the theater would be a bad decision, so we reset the theater. On later review, we did not stop making operational errors in the second playing either.

AUG 1914

Libya

If Italy lost control of Tripoli, Homs, or Zaura, Tripolitania’s three cities and three of its four ports, Italy would incur morale penalties and suffer more greatly in the new world war. Therefore, Italian forces responded to political dictate and prioritized security of those three places throughout the war.

A lonely and sacrificial brigade of Italian cavalrymen began the war deployed at Ghadames and survived August there on dates and tepid water. In September, with orders to move, their horses proved so weak that the brigade could not reach the coast before surrendering during the Sanussi initial phase.

Italian loss in September: 2-1-7 heavy cavalry brigade, eliminated isolated; 1.33 morale points

A brigade of colonial riflemen similarly began the war at an oasis in the deep desert, but its less dedicated (more able to desert to the local population) men failed to last through August before surrendering to Sanussi patrols.

Italian loss: 1-2-5 colonial rifle X

A second, more powerful brigade of colonial riflemen likewise began the war in the deep desert and these men held together throughout August, fired by the dream of returning to the nomadic way of life that had held sway for hundreds of years before the hated Europeans arrived on scene. This brigade held firm on paper, negotiated in secret, and took its artillery battery with it into Sanussi service in mid-September.

Italian loss in September: 2*-3-5 colonial rifle X

Sanussi gain: assorted manpower and equipment

While the Italians self-destructed, Sanussi forces boxed in the colonial brigades, occupied the last few oases in Libya, and prepared to attack the French.

Northwest Africa

French forces in overwhelming strength but disorganized by rule faced Berber rebels unable to realistically attack or usefully maneuver against their opponents, so the month passed peacefully in this command. French forces in northern Algeria and Tunisia girded for Sanussi aggression by garrisoning critical cities and a very few select geographic chokepoints on the edge of the Sahara Desert. In the deep desert, a few Tuareg-French units tried to take conservative positions against the same threat.

Central Africa

Entente forces decisively invaded Togoland immediately upon the outbreak of war. French forces pinned the hastily mustered police and militia while British colonial regiments in overwhelming force assaulted their defensive position around the critical, coastal radio station. The assault went perfectly despite superior German morale.

Entente loss: SP

German loss: 0-1-5 rifle II

From Senegal, French river transports carried two regiments of colonial troops to southern Nigeria, and one to Gabon, in preparation for the Cameroon campaign. This early emphasis on Cameroon, seemingly proactive and “getting a head start” ended up being a bad Entente mistake.

Three lonely battalions of Germans defended the key overland gateways to Cameroon.

Southern Africa

The government of South Africa, out of concern for German poaching and smuggling, already planned to deploy its forming but unquestionably disloyal Boer units north of the Okavango Delta when war broke out in Europe. Colonial, South African, and British units would garrison provinces and police key cities in southern portion of the Union of South Africa, as they already did in August.

French naval transports from Morocco sailed to Madagascar in August, retrieved a colonial regiment, and sailed back toward South Africa. The garrison of Madagascar could not be allowed to remain over-strength when other needs pressed so urgently.

The Boers did not revolt.

German forces, three battalions, garrisoned Namibia (German Southwest Africa) and pretended peaceful intentions toward Boer and Briton alike.

Eastern Africa

Three battalions of Germans and larger, weaker British forces could only garrison their key positions and wait for reinforcement this early in the war.

Belgian troops invaded Burundi and deprived Tanganyika’s defenders of the first cities to fall from their supply network.

Tsetse fly zones dominated initial deployments and will heavily influence the entire campaign in East Africa. The natural South African invasion route into this theater is through Rhodesia and crosses fly-infested zones both in Rhodesia and again in Tanganyika. The far western region of this theater is indefensible for the Germans because it is likewise accessible from central and eastern regions only via fly-infested paths, but is accessible safely along difficult routes from Belgian Congo. From the north, invaders could enter this theater either across Lake Victoria or past Mount Kilimanjaro then along a narrow route that passes through ideal positions for defense in depth. From the East, Britons could amphibiously invade through Dar a Salaam to avoid the flies, but again only to reach an invasion route blocked by excellent defensive terrain. Fundamentally, however, Entente forces will eventually be numerous and far enough encroached to move through the fly zones and seize many cities across the theater. When that time arrives, superficial analysis indicates that the Germans will have to maneuver through the fly zones too, either to retake their supply network or gradually retreat into Mozambique to live off the generosity of the natives.

SEP I and II, 1914

No African rebellions grew or spread during the bi-monthly check.

Libya

The Italian colonial administration scrapped its rifle brigade, which would not be replaceable for several years, and kept sending gifts to Italian admirals and captains who could provide gunfire support in the event of any Sanussi attack on an Italian force occupying a Libyan port.

On the ground, the Italian military moved more boldly. While troops from Tripoli occupied Zaura, the rifle brigade from Sirte evacuated its oasis port (possibly a mistake) and marched west. The rifle brigade from Homs simultaneously sortied eastward. Metropolitan and colonial light troops from Giofra simultaneously marched toward the coast and the combined force caught a Sanussi brigade between them. The Sanussi tried and failed to flee and the fire discipline of regular troops easily destroyed them.

Italian loss: SP

Sanussi loss: 1-6 irregular X

The combined Italian forces then exploited into or toward Homs.

For their part, the Sanussi declared war on France, erupted into the central Sahara, flipped two of three Tuareg-French units to Sanussi loyalty, and grabbed many oases. The Sanussi left an offensively weak but defensively sufficient force to face the Italians and guard supply stockpiles. Sanussi main force units, toting ammunition, cautiously followed their advanced scouts toward the west and southwest.

Northwest Africa

French forces worked to overcome disorganization and withdrawals throughout the month.

Berber forces again sat tight, with no particular hope of offensive action against French not yet weakened and out of position by their own attacks.

Central Africa

Entente forces began the invasion of Cameroon this month. Approximately three regiments of British colonials moved into or toward Cameroon overland from the northwest and north through imposing mountains. Two regiments of French colonials from Chad invaded Cameroon from the northeast, destroyed the unoccupied German fort, and began lopping off the northeastern extension of the Cameroon supply network. A French colonial regiment invaded Kribi amphibiously to occupy the small southwestern extension of the Cameroon supply network and threaten the central part of the network.

German forces welcomed a newly completed regiment and spread its two battalions to join Cameroon’s cordon defense. At no point could German forces mass to attack without leaving the other Entente forces free access to disassemble the colony’s supply network, but neither could the relatively small Entente forces attack the blocking forces with likely success.

The Entente planned to conquer Cameroon by pressure from all directions to squeeze, puncture, and finally deflate the starfish-shaped colony. Entente invasions would come as soon as possible from the sea in the southwest, through the mountains from the northwest, and from the open northeastern corridor. That pressure would force the Germans to spread themselves into a cordon around their all-important supply network, five cities connected by the circular road running around the center of the colony with a few extensions. The Germans would thus be immobilized and unable to take the offensive while Entente reinforcements and garrisons fended off any Sanussi threat. In a few months, administrators would hire native labor units to extend supply lines, French battalions from Gabon and Congo would occupy the southern and southeastern German cities, and finally reinforcements would allow an Entente overrun or attack to break the German position and supply network on the circle road.

As it happens, that Entente plan was defective. It could be perfectly foreseen to work well, but it would certainly be implemented by forces that could have been better used elsewhere. While insufficient to break the Cameroonian supply network, the forces might have dramatically helped the campaigns in East and Southwest Africa. Later and with reinforcements, the Entente could have turned on Cameroon in strength for swifter results.

Southern and Eastern Africa experienced tense calm in September 1914 as the Boers did not revolt. Both sides gathered reinforcements so that Germany deployed five battalions in each East and Southwest Africa in September, and a few ships passed back or forth. Various Boer units completed forming and marched away northward. Neither side felt it could launch an offensive and even the Belgian conquest of Rwanda and Burundi ended with every Belgian unit in Africa in garrison and unavailable for field duty.

OCT I and II, 1914

North Africa

French forces finally attacked the Berbers in October, with 12.25 attack massed against 2 defense at grid 0475. The Berbers saw the aimless scratches on the rocky cave side and tried to flee, failed, did not pointlessly call for ammunition supplies from nearby tribes, and suffered destruction.

French losses: SP

Berber losses: 1-2-6 irregular X

French colonial administrators planned a limited campaign to contain the Berber menace for the duration of the war in Europe. The arc of Moroccan Berber rebel tribes lay from the Atlantic coast of Morocco at the crisis city of Agadir, through the foothills on both sides of the Atlas Mountains, to the Mediterranean coast of Spanish Morocco. French forces from the enclave around Casablanca would hold in the south and northeast and attack southeastward. French forces from Algeria would attack southwestward. The Berbers of the High Atlas already subscribed to French sovereignty and would be left autonomous, hostile to rebel Berbers and Sanussi alike, as a pivot around which the French could maneuver with some freedom. Gradually, with overwhelming force, French forces would wage a series of battles and force apart the ends of the Berber position until the rebels occupied only southwestern Morocco and their enclave on Spanish territory. At those lines, the French planned to defend with relatively static forces and to send more mobile or offensive units elsewhere.

The French high command considered and rejected proposals to fully crush the Berbers in Morocco because, while the task could be accomplished, the force required to do the job would be too large, occupied for too long, and take too many casualties to make the game worthy of the candle. The Berbers could fight defensively with some strength, albeit with limited ammunition, but their offensive strength would probably not threaten the French significantly.

Other French and all remaining Italian forces defended their cities and chokepoints uneventfully, lest Sanussi raiders appear on the horizon.

Sanussi forces, meanwhile, spread westward and southward. Sanussi raiders threatened Tunisia and Algeria from the south but did not move to combat there. Other raiders, backed by some main force units, moved toward Nigeria and Chad. Still other raiders pushed westward, gathering oases and recruiting whole tribes for the cause. Main force units in the center encircled the holdout Tuareg-French unit and flipped the fourth such unit to Sanussi loyalty.

Central Africa

As expected, the Entente drive into Cameroon stalled due to lack of forces at the front and a Sanussi threat from the north. British and French reinforcements spread across central Nigeria to protect the valuable southern portion of that colony and the riverine supply line through it to northeastern Cameroon. Neither side yet realized that the Sanussi operational area left Southern Nigeria immune to their aggression, so that the colony required only an internal, policing garrison.

Southern and Eastern Africa

Little happened in these commands as the Boers failed to revolt. South African defenses thickened in Cape Province and a Portuguese unit arrived from the homeland to complete the garrison of Mozambique.

NOV I and II, 1914

North Africa

Italians and Sanussi stared at each other restlessly but quietly in northern Libya throughout the month.

Pursuant to their plan for Morocco, most French forces there defended their huge frontier with the Berbers, some 19 hex sides or almost 1000 miles. Meanwhile, some elite, light, or logistical units prepared for the next attack, against the Berbers at Taza, on the Morocco to Algeria road.

Far to the southwest, French forces massed three and a half regiments within 400 miles of Timbuktu, apparently to hold back the Sanussi tide.

In the southeast, French forces from Chad lunged forward and easily destroyed a rash Sanussi scouting force.

Entente loss: nothing

Sanussi loss: 1-0-7C irregular X (isolated)

The French then retired to form a line of outposts stretching northeastward from Lake Chad. The Sanussi could not immediately outflank the French position and lacked heavy forces near enough to attack the dispersed French.

Overjoyed at the arrival of a German blockade runner in support of their anti-European jihad, Sanussi forces upgraded a scouting 1-0-7C irregular brigade into a main force 1*-7C irregular brigade and easily destroyed the only Tuareg-French unit to remain loyal to its European masters.

Entente loss: 1-0-7C French Foreign irregular regiment (subsequently scrapped, with its stragglers sent to join the Legion)

Sanussi loss: nothing

Central Africa

No native groups in West or Central Africa revolted or spread existing anti-colonial ideas during the bi-monthly period.

British and French colonial administrators called-up the last currently available irregular warriors, in Nigeria and far south of Timbuktu respectively, but more call-ups would follow soon as the irregulars repeatedly relieved regular garrisons and delayed the Sanussi before being dispersed by them.

Southern Africa

In South Africa, dissident Boer political and military leaders rose to throw off the shackles of British imperialism. A host of Boers across the Union, and all but two Boer units of the defense forces of South Africa, immediately joined the revolt.

Simultaneously, but much less relevantly, a new African rebellion began in southern Mozambique.

Both level-1 rebellions in Angola brightened from warm ash to glowing embers, level-2.

As if in response, a Portuguese regiment arrived in Angola to prepare to suppress the four local rebellions (two level-3 rebellions also exist at game start). Its copious ammunition indicated imminent hard times for rebels as colonial administrators finally deployed enough troops to begin offensive operations.

Loyal South African forces upgraded a schools regiment into a supported schools brigade in November and ushered four brigade of loyal militia into service for the emergency.

On the new front, loyal South African forces spread a network of patrols and outposts along the Orange River, through Basutoland, to Swaziland, to try to guarantee Entente supply and rail network integrity along the coast. Forward of the line, a well-supplied garrison formed to defend Johannesburg. The two loyal Boer brigades in the north retreated eastward to maintain their supply line to the railroad in that direction and also to prevent rebel Boer movement in that direction.

British loss: 2 morale points for enemy-owned city in South Africa

Boer rebels faced serious problems immediately in their revolt, despite deploying impressive military force. Spontaneously formed units in the Eastern Cape Province, Transvaal, and Orange Free State captured five undefended cities west of Johannesburg but could not hope to defend their supply network. The vast bulk of rebel Boer power lay in the north, where the already U-2 rebels could not move their horses through cloying mud and across a wadi while being actively harassed by loyalist Boers.

German forces provided a bright spot for the Central Powers in this command during November. From their defensive deployment in Namibia, three German battalions used railroad and road movement to invade Cape Province and strike an exposed South African regiment. The Germans enjoyed morale superiority and terrain expertise whereas the South Africans cleverly lacked much ammunition. The English followed the standard British plan for early war battles: they surrendered after a brief skirmish.

Entente losses: 2-3-5 rifle regiment (they had no SP to spend), 1/3 morale point

German losses: SP eliminated

DEC I and II, 1914

Mud dramatically hindered activities in almost every part of Africa where either side attempted mobile operations. It caused the outright cancellation of every battle considered by either side.

North Africa

While Italian and French forces edged about for local advantage, the Sanussi moved more broadly. Italian forces finished entrenching Zaura, to questionable advantage, and clung to their coastal cities. French forces edged closer to their next attack on the Berbers. Yet another new tribe joined their Brotherhood in the Sahara. Supported units slipped southward to firmly define Sanussi holdings in northern Chad and Nigeria while the scouting forces continued to lead the wave of expansion toward Timbuktu, Dakar, and Rio de Oro.

Central Africa

Though in Cameroon and the Sahel the weather was dry, neither side in the struggle for Cameroon took decisive action in December. Entente forces from the north coast of the Gulf of Guinea continued to trickle into southern Nigeria, strengthening the defense against the Sanussi and the supply line to northeastern Cameroon, but those forces remained only barely adequate in Nigeria and only moved toward where they would be useful against the Germans later. German commanders in Cameroon welcomed their new regiment to the front, so that seven battalions held the line by the end of the month.

Southern Africa

In Angola, Portuguese forces assembled further and awaited clear weather in order to begin returning rebels to their colonial obedience.

South African defense forces slogged toward victory at the end of 1914. Nothing could happen quickly in the mud, but the loyalists managed to cut-up the Boer supply network and encircle most of the local Boers in a loose triangle about 130 miles on a side. The loyalists also surrounded a lone Boer brigade immediately southwest of Johannesburg. On their northwestern flank, the South Africans also managed a defense sufficient to hold off any cavalry adventures the Germans might attempt through the mud. In the far north, loyalist and rebel Boers both suffered badly from lack of supplies by the start of December and neither could disengage from the other due to mud movement cost for cavalry units and leaving enemy zones of control.

During the Central Powers’ initial phase, one of the two Boer loyalist units in the north turned coat and joined the rebellion, but it was a doomed effort. The remaining Boer loyalists in the north kept the main rebel force immobilized in the mud north of the Okavango Delta. In the south, Boer rebels could neither move nor plausibly attack and waited their doom.

German commanders in Namibia welcomed their new regiment to service, so that seven battalions picketed the front by the end of the month.

East Africa

German defenders of Tanganyika presented an allotment of mortars and machineguns to their recently formed jaeger regiment, the sixth and seventh battalions of the defending “army,” while both sides remained essentially stationary. Nearby, British colonial forces gradually swelled toward full garrisons in Rhodesia and its environs.

Italian Artillery Units in “War in the Desert”

When I was at the P.R.O. in London at little over a year ago, I look up a whole raft of captured Italian army documents. These confirmed what I had suspected that the WitD Italian OB. had some significant flaws. My question here is regarding Wavell’s War. Has the Italian OB been substantially revised for both North Africa and the East African territories?

I suppose I should give an idea of the kind of changes I thought were necessary and I hope somebody could give me a response whether these things have been considered before. There is much more than this, but I am only giving some examples.

Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata, tipo A.S

The 1940 Ordinamento or Army Reorganization Scheme laid out the war establishment of a North African corps artillery formation (raggruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata, tipo A.S.) as being two groups of 105/28 medium guns, two groups of 75/27 field guns, one group of 100/17 howitzers and one truck borne 75/27 CK anti-aircraft guns (near useless as AA guns, but having some value as a ground support weapon) …eventually. None were actually ever equipped to this standard, and the war establishment (TOE to Americans) was changed in the spring (?) of 1941 to three groups of 105s. If the Italian Army had fielded corps artillery formations with full establisment then a 2-3-6 rating of the present units in WinD would be justified, though they really should have an 8 movement factor. Below is a list of Italian corps artillery formation present in North Africa in December 1940 and my thoughts on how they should be rated.

10º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata

1x 2-3-6 Artillery III 10C

WitD has this formation starting in North Africa on the Sep I 1939 turn. Actually, it appears to have arrived in North Africa in several echelons during the period October-November 1939. It probably should arrive as a Nov I 1939 reinforcement. The raggruppamento consisted of the XVII and XXV artillery groups of 105/28 medium guns and VII artillery group equipped with 100/17 field howitzers. Italian artillery was probably the best service arm of that army but a 2-3-6 rating seems a little rich for twenty-four 105 mm guns and twelve 100 mm howitzers. This formation was fully motorized, though it did not have the command and control arrangements to be combat motorized in the Europa sense. I suggest a more accurate rating would be a 2-1-8 Artillery III.

20º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata
21º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata

2x 2-3-6 Artillery III 20C, 21C

These were both pre-war formations. The 21º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata was raised on October 1st 1937 and was sent to North Africa shortly thereafter. The beginning of the 20º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata has basically the same story, but exact dates are lacking. Both were deployed in North Africa on the Sep I 1939 as depicted in the WitD OB. In each formation, the artillery groups received numerical identifications organic to the raggruppamento. So the 105 groups were the I and II Groups and the groups equipped with the 75 mm guns were the III and IV groups. The Twentieth also had the 20º Gruppo da 75/27 CK, whose sterling qualities were discussed above. Likewise, the Twenty-First had the had the 21º Gruppo da 75/27 CK. I believe these two formations should be re-rated as 2-8 artillery regiments, but otherwise be deployed as listed in the WitD OB. They should not have any AA value.

22º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata

1x 1-2-6 Artillery III 22C

This raggruppamento was equipped exactly like the 10º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata that is with two groups (XLII, XLIII) of 105 mm guns and one group (I) of 100 mm howitzers. This however rates only a 1-2-6 in WitD. Though listed as a starting unit in North Africa, this was again part of the reinforcements sent to North Africa during the partial mobilization in the fall of 1939. This formation should be rated as a 2-1-8 Artillery III arriving on the Oct I 1939 turn.

23º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata

1x 1-6 Artillery III 23C

This formation never existed, so why does it show up in WitD? Does it get removed in Wavell’s War? The only artillery assets the XXIII Army Corps had available, came from detached units of other artillery regiments and raggruppamenti in North Africa. As many of these units are seemingly overstrength in comparison with their historic war establishments (e.g. TOE) as shown above, I can’t see any reason to have a counter for this hypothetical unit in the Italian OB.

25º Rappruppamento artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata

Does Wavell’s War finally give us the counter for this formation? It was quite a powerful artillery formation with four groups of 149/13 medium howitzers. Its artillery groups were the following: CV, CXXX, CXLVIII, AND CL (105, 130, 147, 150 pesenti campale) and it had therefore forty-eight 149 mm medium howitzers. It began disembarking in Tobruk on the 18th of December 1940 and completed its deployment in time to be trapped in the encirclement of Tobruk. It was destroyed when Commonwealth forces took Tobruk in January 1941. This formation should be a Dec II 1940 reinforcement and have a rating of 3-8 Artillery III.

Rappruppamento artiglieria di Manovra

This formation was formed in late(?) November 1940. It consisted of four groups of 100/17 howitzers stripped from the artillery regiments of the following divisions: Bologna (I/10º), Pavia (I/26º), Sabratha (I/42º) and Brescia (I/55º). It does not seem there were any plans to reunite these groups with their parent units at any time in the near future so we are not dealing with a temporary battlegroup. Forty-eight 100 mm howitzers gives you a combat value of almost 2. I think 2-8 rating is more accurate than a 1-2-8. Make them a Nov II 1940 reinforcement in Tripolitania.

5º Raggruppamento artiglieria d’Armata

1x 3-4-6 Artillery III 5A

I have not been able to confirm whether this formation was in North Africa at the start of September 1939. I suspect not. It is more likely its arrival was part of the partial mobilization caried out during the fall of 1939. It was equipped with forty eight of the antique 149/35 medium gun and consisted of the following groups: XIX, XX, XXI, and XXII. Now the the 149/35 had a very low towing speed, so the Italian army preferred to transport in other ways if possible. I believe on the desert that the guns were run up on to the decks of big trucks or trailers. (I have seen a photo of this long ago.) I am fairly certain that they did not have enough these kind of vehicles to move the complete raggruppamento at any one time however. The incremental transfer of this formation to Cyrenaica during the summer of 1941 would tend to confirm this. This formation was effectively destroyed in the Crusader battles. A question I have to those in the know, why is the 5º Raggruppamento artiglieria d’Armata rated as a 3-4-6? I was given to understand that four groups of 150s would work out a combat value of about 3 and that even if one were so generous to round up the combat value to 4, then because these groups were equipped with guns and not howitzers, it would be the attack factor that should be raised. Am I wrong? Is it fudged with something else factored in? Its been a long time since I last saw the Europa artillery algorithm. I suggest it should be re-rated as a 3-6 Artillery III. I thought of giving it a movement factor of fuve but the 3-6 is a better compromise. Best guess is it should be a Sep II 1939 reinforcement.

10º Raggruppamento artiglieria d’Armata

1x 2-1-6 Artillery III 10A

WinD has this formation starting in North Africa on the Sep I 1939 turn. Well, it didn’t exist then. It was mobilized in the spring of 1940 and took part in the Western Alps campaign of June 1940. In early July 1940, it was disbanded A new raggruppamento was raised in Tobruk (without any connection in personnel or equipment to the old one) on July 16 1940. It was commanded by Generale brigata Villanis. It was supposed to be equipped with four groups of 149/35 medium guns like the 5º Raggruppamento artiglieria d’Armata in Tripolitania. It never got them. In fact it never seems to have commanded any artillery units except those detached to it from from pre-existing formations already in Cyrenaica.
The only 149/35 guns serving in Cyrenaica were the sixteen belonging to one of the two Guardia alla Frontiera artillery raggruppamento based at Tobruk (ie. 30º Raggruppamento artiglieria di G.a.F. –> it is not presently shown in WinD). To my way of thinking, the best solution for this unit is for it to go directly into the force pool on the Jul II 1940 turn. Conceivably the Italian army could have sent the requisite artillery groups to North Africa if not forced to repeated reinforce/rebuild units already in this theatre of war. Like the formation above it should be rated as a 3-6 Artillery III.

Brigata Corazzata Speciale

The Brigata Corazzata Speciale had its origins in the Italian army in North Africa attempts to better co-ordinate and more effectively use their limited armoured forces in the summer of 1940. Armoured units in Italian North African were placed under the largely administrative control
of the Comando carri armati della Libia as of August 29th 1940. It does not seem to have played no operational role, but rather acted in an advisory capacity to the senior headquarters in North Africa on the use of these armoured vehicles. Under its authority were formed two raggruppamenti carristi were each formed from one medium and three light tank (eg. tankette) battalions. It is this Comando carri armati della Libia that seems the origin of the belief that there were plans to create a “Libyan armoured division”.

The one odd thing about this entity is the use of the term Libia in its name. Libia had been banished from the official lexicon of the Facist State when Libia was formally incorporated as part of Italy in November 1939. There was supposed to be no official recognition of its existence even as a geographical entity thereafter. So its use in this context is surprising and may in part account for the confusion spoken about above.

After the ‘advance’ to Sidi Barrani had been completed, plans were laid about creating an operational armoured formation in North Africa. This was to become Brigata Corazzata Speciale. Before speaking about its history, it is necessary to under something about italian armoured doctrine of this period (late 1940). The official war establishment of an Italian armoured division was revised after the Fall of France in 1940 and enacted early in 1941 was the following: headquarters, a reconnaissance unit, two armoured brigades, two artillery regiments and service units. Each armoured brigade was to consist of a medium tank regiment, a motorized bersaglieri regiment and a mixed AT/AA battalion. One of the artillery regiments was to be composed of two groups of M14 da 75/18 semoventes and two groups of 105 mm medium guns. The other artillery regiment was to consist of two groups of mixed 90/53 and 20mm anti-aircraft guns. The 90 mm guns were to be used in the anti-tank role as well.

However, even under the most favourable scenario for Italy, it is difficult to see how this kind of formation could have been fielded in the period 1941-42. Indeed, the Italian army came up with a provisional organization for a much smaller, but still useful armoured division early in 1941. This provisional war establishment consisted of one medium tank or ex-French tank equipped regiment, one light tank regiment (equipped mainly with tankettes), one motorized bersaglieri regiment, one artillery regiment with two groups (I, II) of 75/27 field guns, one group (III) of 100/17 howitzers, and mixed group (IV) of anti-aircraft guns plus minor support and service units. The schemes for Italian armoured formations were much more balanced than many other nations at this date. They may even have had some operational utility had they ever been deployed as planned, but this was not to be.

The Brigata Corazzata Speciale was to be formed in light of these plans. Both the Ariete and Centauro Divisions had started out as brigades, and only were later expanded into divisions. The Italian army still used the term brigade in its original meaning as a formation consisting of a number of regiments. The creator of the binary division in the Italian army admitted that these formations weren’t really divisions at all, but brigate mixta or mixed brigades. Thus the Brigata Corazzata Speciale should not be thought as the counterpart of a commonwealth brigade, but in Europa terms as a divisional group. Its organization was never finalized so total precision here is impossible, but was include at least one medium tank regiment, one motorized bersaglieri regiment, a motorcyslist bersaglieri battalion, some artillery units (at least two groups perhaps to be expanded into a regiment) and other units. Light tank (eg. tankette) units were certainly involved with this unit, but I have not been able to discover whether they were to be included in its permanent organization.

The organizing and intial training of this armoured brigade began in late November 1940 after some units to be incorporated into it were withdrawn from Egypt. At this point (1.12.1940), the brigade consisted of the I and III Medium Tank Battalions, XXI and LX Light Tank Battalions, one motorcycle bersaglieri battalion (probably formed from ex-divisional companies), one group of 75/27 field guns and one group of 100/17 howitzers (both stripped from the Savona Division). It was deployed in the Marsa Lucch and la Littoranea area. By early January 1941 the Brigata Corazzata Speciale had the following organization: HQ, one raggruppamento carrista (III and V Medium, LX Light Battalions), 12th Artillery Regiment <<Sila>> (ex-Savona Division with different TOE), one motorcycle bersaglieri battalion, one AT company and miscellaneous support and service units. The 10th motorized Bersaglieri Regiment was under orders to join the brigade, at which point the intention was to start calling it an armoured division. However, the worsening events never allowed the uniting of these two units.

If the brigade had been used vigorously at this point, even its disorganized condition, the rout of the Tenth Army might have been contained, but it was held back in reserve positions as something to valuable to use and lose. In the final battle at Beda Fomm, the Brigata Corazzata Speciale had the following untis assigned or attched to it (as of Feb. 5, 1941):

  • III and V Battaglione carri M13/40 (20 to 30 tanks each)
  • VI Battaglione carri M13/40 (45 tanks)
  • 12oReggimento artiglieria <<Sila>> (one
    group of 100/17 howitzers, one group of 75/27 field guns)
  • 1x battery of 105/28 (20th Corps Arty)
  • 1x battery of 75/27 AA guns (20th Corps Arty)
  • LXI Battaglione carri L3/35 (12 tankettes of which only 6 were runners)
  • one platoon of a motorcycle battalion
  • four armoured cars (no ID available)

As is well known to these circles, the italian forces were unable to push through the Commonwealth blocking forces and surrendered to them including the Brigata Corazzata Speciale. Had it not been destroyed at Beda Fomm and survived until mid 1941, this brigade would likely have been expanded to the provisional armoured division organization mentioned above. What it would have been called is pure speculation, but I think it would likely have been designated the 134 Divisione corazzata
<<Frecchia>>
(following in the number series for armoured divisions).

Here are my tentative suggestions on how the Brigata Corazzata Speciale
could be treated in an Italian OoB:

JAN I 1940

Special: Optional
Place in Cyrenaica Forming Pool:
1x 1-6 Support Group [III]                  (any)      (IA)
3x 1-8 Tank II                                              (any)      (3M, 5M, 6M) (IA)

JAN II 1941

Special: Optional Upgrade of Units in Cyrenaica Forming Pool:
Convert: 1x 1-6 Support Group [III]  (any)    (IA)

And 3x 1-8 Tank II                                     (any)      (3M, 5M, 6M) (IA)
And 1 Italian INF RP
To 1x 8* Armoured XX Gp                    Cor Sp    (IA)
And 1x 3-2-8 Tank III                              4                (IA)

MAR II 1941

Release from Cyrenaica Forming Pool:
1x 8* Armoured XX Gp                            Cor Sp    (IA)
1x 3-2-8 Tank III                                          4                (IA)

Available for Assembly:
1x 6-5-8* Armoured XX Gp                 Cor Sp      (IA)

JUN II 1941

Convert: 1x 8* Armoured XX Gp        Cor Sp       (IA)
And 1 Italian or German ARM RP
To: 1x 8 Armoured XX134 Fre (IA)

Available for Assembly:
1x 8-6-8 Armoured XX                            134 Fre     (IA)

Breakdown/Assembly Chart:

‘Divisional Breakdown for a 6-5-8* Armoured XX Gp

1x 8* Armoured XX Gp                          Cor Sp           (IA)
1x 3-2-8 Tank III                                        4                       (IA)
1x 2-10 mot infantry III                         10 B                (IA)

‘Divisional Breakdown for a 8-6-8 Armoured XX:

1x 8*Armoured XX                                   134 Fre         (IA)
1x 3-2-8 Tank III                                        4                       (IA)
1x 2-1-8 lt Tank III                                    (any)               (IA)
1x 2-10 mot infantry III                         10 B                (IA)

‘Divisional Breakdown for a 13-11-8 Armoured XX:

1x 8 Armoured XX                                    134 Fre       (IA)
2x 3-2-8 Tank III                                         4, any           (IA)
2x 2-10 mot infantry III                         10 B, any     (IA)
1x 1-2-8 Assault Gun III                         234                (IA)

Additional Libyan Divisions

When the British intelligence officers went through the papers of General Pescatori of the 2nd Libyan Division, they found much information on the organization of and plans regarding Italy’s colonial forces. Amongst these documents were studies on a proposal to raise two additional Libyan divisions regarding its technical, manpower and financial aspects. These the British authorities excerpted/summarized, copies of which were in the file I looked at the PRO.

There were real constraints on the availability of Libyan manpower for employment in military units. Of the estimated Libyan population of 786,000, there were some 100,000 men of military age. Only about 65,000 of these men of military age could likely be enrolled in the military. Political reasons (the antipathy of the population of Cyrenaica to the Italian colonial government, economic reasons (raising food) and the impossibility of getting the men of nomadic groups reduced the available manpower pool.

The war establishment of a Libyan Division consisted of a headquarters element, two groups of artillery (each with 12x 77/28 field guns), two 20 mm AA batteries (should have been 8 guns in each but there were only six in the winter of 1940/41 due to shortages), six Libyan infantry battalions organized into two raggruppamenti (equivalent to regiments in this case), a small mixed engineer battalion, and service units. At “normal distribution”, there was enough organic transport to lift almost two battalions. There was an augmented establishment provided for these divisions, which gave them the transport capacity to lift up to four of the infantry battalions.

The division was quite small, barely being over 7000 men in strength. With only 24 field guns, even though the Libyan gunners were good, these divisions did not have enough organic artillery to be rated as anything but self-supporting. Furthermore, the 1940 Ordinamento had merely ratified the provisional 1938 organizational schemes for formations in North Africa. Thus these Libyan divisions had no mortars and had only the weaker six gun AT battery found in all the North African type divisions. Simply put the Libyan divisions were short on firepower. It is clear from these documents that any additional “Libyan” division(s) would have been organized as per the establishment laid out above. The “Libyan Armoured Division” is a mirage. An additional Italian armoured division may well have been formed in Italian North Africa in 1941, but that’s another story.

The time factor was considered as well for raising these divisions. The Italian army estimated it required two full months to get Libyan troops with previous military experience functioning at a minimal acceptable level of military efficiency. With completely untrained manpower, it would take an additional three months intensive training to get them to a similar acceptable level of military efficiency. It was also estimated that it would take two months to collect the transport and draft animals necessary for these proposed divisions. This could partially overlap the period of raising the troops. No estimate was given about the time necessary to obtain the required equipment from the Italian mainland.

3rd Libyan Division (3a Divisione libica)

The 3rd Libyan Division was to be raised from existing non-divisional units (3460 Libyans), from trained men (3250 Libyans) not already called up in Italian North Africa, and a cadre of Italian officers and technical troops from the usual sources. The army in North Africa had the resources to clothe the troops, give them a rifle, provide most of the draft animals, and provide some of the other equipment. The rest would have to come from Italy. The total financial cost to the taxpayers of Italy, always an important consideration, for raising a third division was estimated at 60 million lire. My guess, not including the initial preparations of gathering equipment, provisions and draft animals, is that it would have taken four months to raise this division from the reservists and existing units..

4th Libyan Division (4a Divisione libica)

The 4th Libyan Division would have been more difficult to raise. The forming of the Third Division would have scraped the bottom of the barrel of trained reserves. There were a few thousand trained men left (3500 Libyans) could be utilized, but this was effectively the training reserve and if these were taken up then the reports state it would be impossible to provide any more replacements (complementari) for the existing formations. This factor, not surprisingly, was seen as a great obstacle to raising this division. Drawing upon the existing reserve stores would have brought down the cost of the raising of the Third Division, but the entire complement of weapons, equipment and other stores for the Fourth Division would have to have been provided by the metropolitan army in Italy. Total cost for raising this division was placed at 90 million lire. My estimate is that it would have taken nine months to a year to form this division from start to finish.

The documents have no reference to any decision having been taken whether to proceed with the raising of these extra divisions by the time disaster overthrew the Italian Tenth Army in Cyrenaica. The Italian military authorities did rebuild a significant number of the lost Libyan units in 1941/42, but only used them for garrison/security duties. The higher levels of organization: raggruppamenti and divisions were never restored.
Source: P.R.O., WO 208/4807

Could these division have been raised? Yes, especially the Third Libyan Division could have been formed sometime in 1941 if the Italians had not been annihilated in Cyrenaica. Thereafter, the Italian military authorities necessarily always gave higher priority to rebuilding of Italian units (for they had a greater potential combat strength). The Fourth Libyan Division really could not have been raised until the pool of trained manpower had been expanded, otherwise the rest of the colonial army risked being utterly unable to replace any losses. Thus it is possible the Fourth Libyan Division might have been able to formed in1942 if losses up to that date had not been too severe. Reading some of these documents, I am starting to come to the feeling that the original values assigned to Libyan units in WD may have been too generous.

The ID numbers assigned to the Libyan infantry raggruppamenti (shown below) are guesses, but well founded ones. It is possible these new divisions could have been organized in Sirtica or Cyrenaica, but the only remaining manpower and other resources necessary to form these divisions had to come from Tripolitania and therefore it is likely they would have been organized there.

MAY I 1941

Expend: 2 Lib Col RPs and 1 It Inf RP* and Place in Forming (Tripolitania Military Region):
2x 1-6 Infantry III 5 Lib, 6 Lib (Col)
1x 6* Infantry XX HQ 3 Lib (Col)

SEP I 1941

Full; Place in any City in the Tripolitania Military Region:
2x 1-6 Infantry III 5 Lib, 6 Lib (Col)
1x 6* Infantry XX HQ 3 Lib (Col)

Add to Breakdown Display:
1x 2-3-6* Infantry XX 3 Lib (Col)

JAN I 1942

Expend: 2 Lib Col RPs and 1 It Inf RP and Place in Forming (Tripolitania Military Region):
2x 1-6 Infantry III 7 Lib, 8 Lib (Col)
1x 6* Infantry XX HQ 4 Lib (Col)

SEP I 1942

Full; Place in any City in the Tripolitania Military Region:
2x 1-6 Infantry III 7 Lib, 8 Lib (Col)
1x 6* Infantry XX HQ 4 Lib (Col)

Add to Breakdown Display:
1x 2-6* Infantry XX 4 Lib (Col)

Options:

1. Increased mobility:

The Libyan divisions were always intended to become celere type formations. The 1st and 2nd Libyan
Divisions had been given sufficient additional resources by the fall of 1940 to achieve this status. It is possible that the 3rd and 4th Divisions could have been similarly enhanced.

Convert: 1x 2-3-6* Infantry XX any (Col) and: 1x SMP to:
1x 1x 2-3-8* lt Infantry XX any (Col)

Convert: 1x 2-6* Infantry XX 4 Lib (Col) and: 1x SMP to:
1x 1x 2-8* Infantry XX 4 Lib Col)

2. Increased artillery:

All Italian divisions that survived the winter of 1940/41 eventually saw their organic artillery substantially increased. This could have happened to the Libyan divisions, though the additional guns would have been less than those given to the metropolitan divisions.

Convert: 1x 1x 2-3-6* Infantry XX 3 Lib (Col) and 0.5 Italian RP to:
1x 1x 3-6 Infantry XX 3 Lib (Col)

Convert: 1x 1x 2-6* Infantry XX 4 Lib Col) and 0.5 Italian RP to:
1x 1x 2-3-6 Infantry XX 4 Lib (Col)

* At a Grand Europa level this would probably work out to something like 2.0 Libyan manpower points, 0.5 Italian manpower points, 1.0 Italian equipment point, and 0.5 Italian artillery points.

May 1942

May I

Allied:

Libya – Supplies are desperately needed at the front line and all efforts are made to get them to the front. The Infantry units provide a covering force to the Armoured units that reorganise, with the 7th Arm XX forming up.

North Africa – French units everywhere rally too the fight! France has fallen, France will rise again! The long distances make it difficult to immediately respond and aside from approaching Constantine, there appears little that can be done to save Tunisia. An urgent call is sent to the Americans for troops and aid.

German:

At Malta, a motorised III and arm II arrive to garrison the island.

Tunisia – The HQ 133 Lit XX arrives in Bizerte while the paratroopers rush off to Tunis itself. At Souza, the Spahis of the Tunisian Cavalry are overrun by the Panzers of the 5th III at Sousse. Having brushed these aside, the Panzers attack Tunis from the east while the paratroopers strike across the river from the west. Overhead uncontested air supremacy allows bombers to rain destruction on the outnumbered defenders who are forced to capitulate. (4:1 -1 City = DE) Inside Algeria, the 310th Mot III attacks the 3rd Algerian X in a desperate attack (no AS) but is unable to dislodge the startled Africans from their positions. (2:1 -1 Rough = AS) In the follow up, the CinC orders his sole Panzer unit (5th III) to stop drinking all the captured wine in Tunis and hurry up and take Constantine. The units obligingly heads into Algeria, leaving the paratroopers to party well into the night.

May II

Allied:

Libya – Supplies continue to be brought forward while aircraft are flown into forward airstrips in the desert, ready for the forthcoming offensive. Desperate pleas from the French are ignored for the moment by the cold hearted Allied CinC who remembers well the bitter fighting in Syria.

North Africa – The French Commander can do little other than continue to bring his soldiers as far forward as possible. If sufficient strength can be gathered then there is the slim chance the Axis spearhead can be broken and the line pushed forward back into Tunisia before more Axis reinforcements arrive to strengthen their grip.

German:

Libya – Air strips are built to redistribute the Axis airforce behind the line. AS are transported down the coast, but it is hard with limited transportation facilities. Removing trucks from the 101 Mechanised XX is toyed with by the German CinC but he decides that it is not needed at this stage. At Malta, the 2nd CCNN XX arrives to garrison the island.

Algeria – Glider and parachute units are flown into Bizerte. Along the coast, the HQ 133 Lit XX and an Arm III seizes Bone. South of here, the 15th Pz XX attacks and destroys the defenders of Constantine, bringing great relief to the CinC how desperately wanted this critical junction. The losses in the air were heavy however, with French fighter pilots punishing the Luftwaffe bombers and taking a heavy toll. (3:1 -1 Rough, +3 AECA = DE) Following this series of battles, the 133 Lit XX forms up at Bone.

 

Letter from Benghazi

To: OKH

From: Field Commander Afrika

Subject: The Battle for North African Domination.

Send more tanks, planes and men. With the Italian buffoon out of the way, I have confidence I can prevent any more debacles such as the Christmas day rout at Alamein. First I must secure my rear – namely Malta and remove that potential thorn – Vichy North Africa. It is obvious that the Americans will become involved soon, but I must hold them as far from Tunisia as I can – ideally Casablanca – and the time to strike against the French is fast approaching. Once this is done I can turn back to Egypt and sweep the desert clean. But I must have more tanks and planes. Four Panzer Divisions is not enough!

Your servant,

General Rupert Von Wilhelms

Note: Following discussion at length with the Commander Middle East, he wishes the following press communique issued via the BBC Home Service.

“The following statement is incorrect: ‘British CinC releases a communique that he has drawn a line in the sand and the enemy shall not cross it. There is much flag waving and cheering in Westminster at this news.’ The Commander Middle East is an Australian! Damn your eyes, sir, for such a slur on the fine fighting qualities of the Middle East Command!”

 

Feb 1942

Feb I

Allied – Replacements are formed up back in the Delta and marched to join the main front. Supplies are trucked to the units at Halafaya who obviously need them the most. German – Reinforcements arriving from Italy are sent to Tripoli. The crucifixion of Malta continues – 3 hits for no losses in Axis aircraft.

Feb II

Allies: The might and power of the British is unleashed in a massive front wide offensive. Along the coast, Kiwi, Aussie and British Infantry Divisions and the remnants of the 5th Indian attached push through the ZoC of the 2nd Pz and 101 Mech (rebuilt and hurried into the line). These forces smash into the Halafaya “Von Wilhelm” Line and are stopped dead by the defenders. (2:1 -1 fort = AS) Above the escarpment the majority of the 8th Army crashes head long into the motorised and mechanised Axis forces. Fighting is fierce and prolonged, but ends in a stalemate with the both sides exhausted. (2:1 +1 AECA, -3 ATEC = AS) In the south, along the frontier, the Australian 8th XX, with two SA and one Aussie recon battalions swing deep into the desert to be south of the main defence line. For some unknown reason, the 1st Dragoon regiment clatters off in its dinky armoured cars to the Siwa Oasis. The German CinC is perplexed – what is this strange tactical movement for?

In the follow up phase, the Aust 8th is joined by the 7th Arm XX HQ and a motorised 7th Inf X. “I say old chap”, asks the Major General commanding 7th Arm XX, “you haven’t seen my tanks around here have you?”

German: The front line is shortened with the mechanised Axis forces doubling back to slam into the 8th Aust XX and HQ 7th Arm XX. The exposed Allies are forced back in a wonderful victory showing true Axis domination of the region. (2:1 -1 AECD, +3 AECA = DR) The commander 7th Arm XX says “If I’d had my tanks there, none of these shenanigans would have happened!”

To emphasise the ability of the Axis, the 15th Pz Cdr beetles down the road to Oasis di Giarabub and send signals in clear to the 1st dragoons – “We’re coming to get yooouuu!”.

Jan 1942

Jan I

Allied – The chase begins as the infantry marches out towards Matruh, halting just short of the town. The 1st SA XX is sent to the NE to maintain garrison requirements.

Axis – Various units in the replacement pool are scrapped to help rebuild Italy’s shattered forces. The 21st Pz is rebuilt from cadre and various other German and Italian units appear in towns in Cyrencia. The retreat continues through to Halafaya where a fort is built south of Bardia. Over Malta bombs continue to fall, maintaining previous damage levels.

Jan II

Allied – Repairs begin on the Matruh railway while other engineers construct airfields to support the advance of the Desert Air Force. Wellington bombers with Beaufighter escort attack Tobruk. Matruh and Sidi Barrani are retaken by advancing Allied infantry and armour. At Sidi Barrani, the body of the Italian CinC is found, wrapped in an Italian flag, his Barretta side arm still pressed to his temple. He is buried with full military honours by the beach overlooking the sea towards his homeland.

German – The Italian infantry is sent to Tobruk. The remaining mobile forces remain at Halafaya. From his tactical HQ, three miles in front of the leading Axis positions, the new German commander swears he will not rest until the British are driven from Egypt and a new world order is imposed on the region. There will be no retreats, no defeats, only ever lasting glory and victory etc etc etc……. To show his seriousness, Malta is struck five times by the mighty bomber fleet from Sicily and the counters for the Italian Special Ops are placed on the map next to Malta in a noticeable manner. To continue the psychological warfare, the 4 infantry XXs and odds and sods of the 5th Army in Tripoli are advanced to the Tunisian border. Supplies are landed in Tripoli and moved to join them. Whatever this new commander has planned, it obviously seems to lie westwards towards the Atlantic instead of east towards the Nile. Hmmm.

 

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