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Europa Games and Military History

Tag: FWTBT (page 1 of 21)

By the roll of a dice

Strategy games usually focus on the front lines of a conflict, and gamers will have long discussion when the rollout of a new anti-tank gun happend and in what numbers, and if the upgrade of this or that unit is justified as per OB or should happen earlier – or not at all. Logistics, the art that does indeed decide wars, and  which usually takes up 90% of a commanders time, is usually abstracted, since until the advent of computer games the process of raising, training, equipping and organising forces was too tedious to be converted into a playable game.

Yet another aspect sometimes cripples consims: The hindsight that enables players to approach a situation with much more information than available to their historical counterparts. Hindsight defines a lot of the strategies employed in most Europa games, and only its most egregious problems can be corrected by artificially straightjacking the player into historical behaviour by victory point mechanisms or outright enforcement by rules (garrisons, no-retreat-rules, Plan XVII, etc).

Which brings us to the Asturian Gambit, a series of opening moves during the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In hindsight it was obvious that the balance of forces and the deep-set enmity between the two political movements precluded a quick end to the conflict that broke out in July 1936. Hindsight enables the nationalist player to play the long game and secure an andvantageous position from which to better prepare for a conflict that will span several years.  A reasonable, game-changing, and completely ahistorical strategy. Carlos Perez lays out the Asturian Gambit and its implications for you in the last article for now that Carlos gratiously allowed us to publish and which first went online at his website belliludi.com.

The Asturian Gambit of course runs contrary to all strategic assesments and convictions in the chaotic summer of 1936, where possession of Spains capital was seen as key to a quick and desicive victory by all parties. A possible fix would have to take the political value that Madrid held at the beginning of the war into account, forcing the nationalists to devote their assets to a serious attempt to take the capital as soon as possible for an extended amount of time. One possibility would be a rule prohibiting units of the Army of Africa to move north of hexrow 25xx as long as the weather is clear, and to require all units of the Army of Africa to attack in the direction of Madrid as long as they are in general supply. This could be combined with a modification surrender rule, requiring a roll for surrender for the side that just lost possession of Madrid, while giving them a strong modifier in 1936 and a smaller one in 1937.

Together, these rules would reflect the prevalent belief that whoever held the capital would decide the conflict early on, and also simulate the political reality that any general on the nationalist side not pursuing a quick victory over the republic would have lost his position from where to make such strategic choices really fast. However, as with all rule modifications, these ideas would have to be playtested and evaluated before being made a recommended rules modification.

The Asturian Gambit

Editors Note:
This article was originally published in El Miliciano, nr. 5 (1996). It has been translated from Spanish by Wolf Broszies (with a little bit of google help)

The Fate of the Republic is decided in the North

Several games  demonstrated the crucial importance of the North Front for any war game concerned with the Spanish Civil War. In For WHom the Bell Tolls, the rules governing the political impact of the northern regions that remained loyal to the Republic vastly overstate their importance to the Loyalist cause. One point is the real potential of the Santander Army Corps as compared to the OOB in FQtBT.

For example, at the beginning of the Battle of Vizcaya on March 31st, 1937, the Basque Army was not yet even organized in Brigades, but employed about 40 maneuver batallions organized into several sectors of varied size, composition and capabilities. It took until the end of April for the need of higher echolons to finally be recognized. A total of 18 brigades were created and grouped into four dividions over the next months, with a fifth added on May 17th.

In total there were about 70 Basque battalions, although of very diverse structure and history. In FWBT however, the scenario of Mediated War starting April I 37 the Basque Army Corps deploys up to 6 divisions and 8 other brigades, as well as a regiment of light tanks, two of artillery, two of engineers and two of construction. This is opbviously a more powerful force than the historical one.

Jul I 36

For this reason the player on the Nationalist side decided to concentrate on the North Front, even at the cost of sacrificing greater achievements in other sectors. The turn of July II 36 began by placing the two brigades of requetés that enter reinforcement in Pamplona and Vitoria to support the attack on San Sebastián. Because of the Rise and Revolution rule [37.C], the first two first turns are special. All the units are supplied and do not have to check their isolation situation, but also on the turn of July II 36 the metropolitan units can only move one hex and can not attack, can not use rail movement, air units can not perform intercept, patrol or CAP missions, amphibious landings can not be made (although they can be planned for later turns), both fleets can not provide naval support and the Republican Fleet can not go to sea. Only African Army units can move up to half their movement capacity and can attack.

In this first turn, the national player initiated the airlift by moving the battalions of African Hunters 4th and 5th as well as the 3rd regiment of Regulares to Cádiz. In this city also landed the 2nd Tercio de la Legión and the Oriental artillery group. Units that attacked together Jerez de la Frontera to occupy this way, the aerodrome of this town. While, in Asturias, the two units of Oviedo occupy Avilés with its important port and the hexagon 1107 with what cuts the withdrawal to the units of Gijón. The republican subturno is fast. In the center, different columns depart from Madrid towards Toledo, Talavera and Somosierra. In Catalonia, the ideological purification of its cities prevents the large number of units present from marching on Aragon.

July II

On the turn of July II 36, restrictions remain for metropolitan units. While those of the African Army can move and attack freely, the remaining ones can only move half of their movement capacity, although they can attack. This turn begins with the placement of reinforcements. Between them arrive two important units of Italian submarines that are immediately placed in front of Cartagena in order to block the Republican fleet of cruisers anchored there.

The national player decides to put into practice his plan to occupy Gijón and thus leave, outside the war, all of Asturias and its bellicose militiamen. For this purpose, your Fleet escorts the transports that are going to land in Avilés the 2nd Tercio de la Legión and the Oriental artillery group. This fleet travels its last ten hexagons at night to hinder the interception by the republican fleet located in Santander. This one, in its attempt fails, reason why the two regiments disembark in Avilés without more setbacks. Once there, next to the two units of Oviedo, arrivals by rail and Leon, prepare to attack Gijón. The Asturian brigades pass the militia check so the attack reaches a 3: 1 without modifiers. A four in the dice means the withdrawal of the Asturians, their elimination to withdraw by Zone of enemy Control and the fall of Gijón. The importance of this fact is reflected in the fact that if it is not reconquered in the immediate death of the Republican Asturias, it will collapse and its troops will be definitively eliminated from the game. The strength of the national units that defend the two cities of the Principality, Oviedo and Gijón, makes their reconquest unlikely. This maneuver, the disembarkation of two of the best units of the Army of Africa in Avilés, baptized already as the ” Gambito Asturiano “, has a key importance. Even supposing that the republican player does everything possible to avoid it from the beginning of the game, the fall of Asturias is very likely. Let’s see why.

Aug I 36

In the turn of August I 36, only the republican fleet that starts the game in Santander has the possibility of intercepting the national fleet. The probabilities of doing so are 2/6, and in the event that it is achieved, a combat would start with an enemy force of the same potential as his (3) and, consequently, an uncertain outcome that will depend on chance. Assuming that the transported force disembarks without setbacks in the Asturian port, it will be found that the maximum republican forces capable of defending Gijón are three brigades, one regiment and the intrinsic defense of this city, with a total of 7 combat points without support, what in fact are 3’5 points. The national player, after placing the 32nd Rto in the previous turn. in hexagon 1107 you can bring 3 points by rail in addition to the unit that starts in Leon. In total, he will attack Gijón with 11 combat points, which gives him a 3: 1 ratio. With this table, Gijón is only saved if a combat comes out 1. Of course, if the republican units fail the militia check (what happens by taking a 1 on the die) its value will be 1.75 points, so the proportion will increase to 6: 1 and the fall of Gijón will be inevitable.

The republican player can move his aviation to Asturias at the cost of unprotecting other sectors. In total and through DAS missions, it is a battle point to add to the defense of Gijón, which reduces the proportion to 2: 1 (5: 1 in case the militia check fails), since the support of the National aircraft is insufficient to counteract Republican aviation. A 2: 1 attack is risky for the national because if a 1 comes out, the result is AR and would have to retire unprotecting Oviedo. It should be borne in mind that, if rule 45.B is used, the incremental Combat Table, by which the fractions of the proportion are rounded to the nearest column by means of a percentile roll, it is possible to reach 3: 1 again. although it is still as risky to not be able to cancel the attack if this new roll fails.

In turn, the national player has the possibility of counteracting the Republican air support by transferring the combat TF to Avilés without escorting the transports and having it in that hex during the last three steps of the naval movement preparing the artillery support. In this way, just adding 2 support points (3 in the case that the national aircraft could not support) would again reach the 3: 1 ratio. The transports would arrive without escort taking advantage of the rule of Protected Waters (those own coastal hexagons in which it can not be intercepted by the movement of reaction of the enemy fleet). A problem arises in this respect, and that is that according to the rules, the hexagons to be their own must either be occupied by their own chips or submitted to their Control Zone. This implies that those on the coast between El Ferrol and Avilés could not be considered as the national player’s own hexagons at the time of the naval movement since no unit of their own could pass through that area. In addition, for subsequent turns, the unit that is awarded the only mission to travel this coast to turn it into its own hexagons will have to move through hexagons “rough” which will greatly slow down its progress. If this function is already somewhat absurd, it is even more so when we know that there existed (and exists) a coastal road not reflected in the map, whose importance is reflected by the fundamental use made of it by the Galician columns that marched to the command of Colonel Martín Alonso to free Oviedo. In this regard, I suggest that some flexibility be applied and that the condition of own hexes or enemies be made according to the situation of the fronts. Especially when taking the exhaustive control of all the hexes of the map in a game like this one of the Civil War forces to mark each and every one of them. The only exception is the railway lines, which must be marked as they take possession of them because of the great importance they have during the first shifts.

In the Republican subturno, if you still have the city, this player will place the Asturian reinforcements and the brigades that activate the garrison in Gijón, which will raise up to 11 combat points for those defending Gijón. In addition, through the half point of replacement of artillery produced by the Gijon factory in this turn, and another half point landed as reinforcement (the national naval interdiction will prevent taking 4, 5 or 6 in the corresponding roll, although the Republican may try it until four times), the republican player will have been able to replace an artillery regiment 1-6 with which their units will have support. Apart from those that defend Gijón, other units may move to other hexagons.

The situation will have precipitated in Asturias and with prospects of stagnation before the enormous number of defending units. Even, the national player can try the attack 2: 1, because, they are a 50% chance to take Gijón and destroy the defending units. The risk lies in the 16% chance of AR leaving and having to withdraw. Even in this case, Oviedo would be defended by a maximum of 4’5 points (5 with DAS), which seems sufficient to stop the Republican counterattack.

Returning to the game described, the national player isolated San Sebastian with its Navarrese columns, reached the heights of Somosierra and in the south, taking advantage of the fact that the republican units of Malaga have advanced to the important hexagon 3723 -communication center-, units from Cordoba, Granada and Seville attacked those units. When carrying out the militia check, the Bda. Anarchist “RIM” obtained a result “Rout” with which the entire stack had to retreat, victims panic militants. The naval transports returned to Africa while continuing the airlift.

During the republican subturno, this player continues in Catalonia the ideological purification. The isolated troops of the area of ​​Malaga are concentrated in the city. There are three republican regiments along with three anarchist units, so it is very feasible a new rout at the time of the check of militias. The cities of Toledo and Teruel are occupied by militia columns after being abandoned by their defenders. In the north, Santander troops prepare to defend their region before the national troops that advance from Asturias. At the same time, the Basque troops entrenched themselves in Bilbao and San Sebastián.

August II 1936

In the turn August II 36, new reinforcements from Africa disembark in the port of Gijón and together with the units already present in Asturias attack the three Santander brigades that located in the 1205 hexagon defend the coast. A new failed militia check, causes its combat factors to be worth half. The attack is an 8: 1 and the result is an Eliminated Defender. The fall of Santander is only a matter of time. In the south, the advance on Malaga continues. For the attack on this city, the national player deploys the Italian Fleet, which he can use once a year. With its 18 naval support points, it reaches a 3: 1 ratio. In the air, the republican Nieuport 51 brings down the Breguet XIX in combat. And this time, all the units pass the militia check. Only a 1 in the dice will prevent Malaga from falling. Not so, a DR means that national troops enter Malaga while in their withdrawal, the six Republican units are eliminated by doing so through enemy Zones of Control.

This last action has ended by demoralizing the Republican player. With an army still dispersed, with all the troops of Catalonia occupied in the pacification of this region, with a North Front whose end is a matter of few turns and without real forces with which to counterattack in Andalusia, the republican player decides to capitulate. The fall of Asturias, and consequently that of the entire Republican North, greatly imbalances the game, and as has been shown, this is difficult to avoid.

 

Revised OB for the Basqe Forces in FWtBT

Editors Note:
This corrected OB is the result of historical research by its Author, Carlos Perez, as well as an imbalance in FWtBT as published, wehre the nothern goubernitos are vulnerable to the “Asturian Gambit”, in which the Insurgent Player, guided by the hindsight knowledge that the Loyalist Forces have limited mobility and capabilities in the first turns of the game, tries to knock out the northern goubernitos before they finish mobilisation. In the confused and chaotic first weeks of the Insurgency such a strategy would have bordered on the lunatic, since all sides were squarely concentrated on taking or holding Madrid as the center of political power. While this making sense in terms of a struggle both players know will most likely take years to resolve, and legal according to the rules, it is nevertheless a strategy not available to the historical actors. Should these OB variations not resolve the issue, a Grest War “Plan XVII”-rule should be considered.
This article appeared in the bulletin
El Miliciano , nr. 5 (1996)

BASQUE FORCES

Regular reinforcements

JUL II 36

Bilbao (23A: 1701) or San Sebastián (33: 1932):
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 1, 2 (Bas)

AUG I 36

Bilbao (23A: 1701) or San Sebastián (33: 1932):
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 1 (Bas)
1x 1-pt Task Force LtTF-1 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
2x 1-4 Inf X 3, 4 (Bas)
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 2 (Bas)

Join the General Section of Reem installments:
1x 0-1-6 Mortar III Ortiz (Bas)

SEP I 36

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 1-4 Inf X 3, 4 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
4x 1-2-4 Inf X 5, 6, 7, 8 (Bas)

OCT I 36

Bilbao (23A: 1701) or San Sebastián (33: 1932):
1x 1-6 Eng III 1 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 5, 6 (Bas)
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 2 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
3x 1-2-4 Inf X 9, 10, 11 (Bas)
1x 1-4 Inf X 12 (Bas)

Join the General Replacement Section:
1x 1-8 Tank II N (Bas)
1x 1-6 Art III 14 (Bas)

NOV I 36

Bilbao (23A: 1701) or San Sebastián (33: 1932):
1x 1-6 Eng III 2 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 7, 8 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
3x 2-4 Inf X 13, 14, 15 (Bas)

DEC I 36

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 9, 10 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
1x 1-4 Inf X 16 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, form:
2x 3-4-4 * Inf XX 3, 4 (Bas)
2x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 1, 2 (Bas)

Join the General Replacement Section:
1x 1-6 Art III 17 (Bas)

JAN I 37

Bilbao (23A: 1701):
1x 1-6 lt Tank III CAO (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
1x 2-4 Inf X 13 (Bas)
1x 1-2-4 Inf X 11 (Bas)
1x 1-4 Inf X 12 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, form:
1x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 5 (Bas)

FEB I 37

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 2-4 Inf X 14, 15 (Bas)
1x 1-4 Inf X 16 (Bas)

MAR I 37

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
2x 3-4-4 * Inf XX 3, 4 (Bas)
2x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 1, 2 (Bas)

Garrison of Euskadi, available:
1x 2-4º Inf XX 6 (Bas)

APR I 37

Bilbao (23A: 1701) or San Sebastián (33: 1932)
1x 1-8 Pole III Ert (Bas)

MAY I 37

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
1x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 5 (Bas)

JUN I 37

Garrison of Euskadi, activate:
1x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 6 (Bas)

INITIAL FORCES, APR I 37

Active Army

Army of the North

Anywhere in Euskadi:
Add
9x 1-2-4 Inf X 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (Bas)

Delete:
4x 1-4 Inf X 5, 6, 7, 8 (Bas)
1x 1-8 Police III Ert (Bas)

ASTURIAN FORCES

Regular reinforcements

JUL II 36

Gijón (23A: 1006) or Oviedo (23A: 1007):
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 1, 2 (Ast)
1x 1-4 Inf X 3 (Ast)

AUG I 36

Gijón (23A: 1006) or Oviedo (23A: 1007):
1x 1-2-4 Inf X Di (Ast)
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 1 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
8x 1-4 Inf X 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (Ast)

Join the General Replacement Section:
1x 1-6 Art III AD (Ast)

SEP I 36

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
4x 1-4 Inf X 4, 5, 6, 7 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
1x 1-6 Eng X 1 (Ast)

OCT I 36

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
4x 1-4 Inf X 8, 9, 10, 11 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
1x 1-4 Inf X 12 (Ast)
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 2 (Ast)

NOV I 36

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
1x 1-6 Eng III 1 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 13, 14 (Ast)
1x 1-6 Inf X 1 Exp (Ast)
1x 1-6 Eng III 2 (Ast)

Join the General Replacement Section:
1x 1-6 Art III 16 (Ast)

DEC I 36

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
1x 1-4 Inf X 12 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, form:
1x 3-4-4 * Inf XX 3 (Ast)
3x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 1, 2, 4 (Ast)

JAN I 37

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
1x 3-4-4 * Inf XX 3 (Ast)
3x 2-3-4 * Inf XX 1, 2, 4 (Ast)
2x 1-2-4 Inf X 13, 14 (Ast)
1x 1-6 Eng III 2 (Ast)
1x 0-1-4 Cons X 2 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
1x 3-4 º Inf XX 5 (Ast)
1x 1-6 Inf X 2 Exp (Ast)

FEB I 37

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
1x 3-4-4 * Inf XX 5 (Ast)

Garrison of Asturias, available:
2x 2-4º Inf XX 6, 7 (Ast)
2x 1-6 Inf X 3 Exp, 4 Exp (Ast)

MAR I 37

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
2x 2-3 4 * Inf XX 6, 7 (Ast)

APR I 37

Garrison of Asturias, activate:
4x 1-6 Inf X 1 Exp, 2 Exp, 3 Exp, 4 Exp (Ast)

A Spanish End

Ken Newall finally shared the last turns of his epic game report from his For Whom the Bell Tolls game. I can only again thank him for his efforts, the awesome writing and the permission to host this great report here. And Kudos for Ken to actually follow through to the very bitter (at least for the Loyalist side) end.

Also I noticed that I still hadn’t gotten round to fix Robert Williams TDDH-report which, even though its from 2000, still makes a fantastic read. And it makes me sad that Samurai Lightning will never see the light of day. So there it is now, re-upped, Links fixed and all the posts in working order again. There is still some cleanup to do from the great migration, but then there always is.

 

Analysis

I had at one point intended to playthe game out to a final military victory but due to the inevitability of the result next turn this now serves no purpose  – the end is predictable.

This was without a doubt the closest run game in Military terms I have played and it went right down to the wire.  Of course in terms of VPs this is a different story.:

Final Victory Tally

Victory PointsNationalists Republicans
From Jan I 1939248702
Interventionist Losses 4
Air Losses818
Naval Losses80
Terror Bombing 4
Gobernetos Non-Collapse/Late End 220
Game END Terrtory22732
Game End Losses695.553.5
TOTAL JUL I 19391190.51029.5

Result: Republican Major Victory

A word about victory conditions.

It seems this result is a reasonable basis to judge payer victory in an historic game. However this AAR is of an alternate reality version (Variable rebellion). What if in this universe the Nationalists decided on a strategy of Gobernetos last.  The game does nudge players to adopt the historical path such as attacking before the Gobernetos reach peak strength, gaining  port access close to the main front, gaining the factory production etc. all good real reasons and this in itself could be deemed sufficient incentive without the swinging penalties for not attacking the Gobernetos  first.

However would a “Gobernetos last” be viable strategy?

Removing all rewards from the Republic for the Nationalists failing to take the Goberetos produces the following result.

Nationalists 1190.5. Republic 449.5 Ratio = 2.64/1 = Insurgent Marginal Victory.

To me this feels a more realistic result for this alternate reality game.  The Republic is after all utterly crushed, hardly a “Victory” but the war has dragged on for 6 long months extra, the Nationalists still have much heavy industry to rebuild, their fleet is crippled and the air force severely damaged. So marginal is a credible result grounded in reality.

Personally although it does permit a less historic strategy to be adopted. I feel this is a better way to the judge the Variables Start to the Rebellion as an alternative reality game.

(Indeed an argument could be made to remove all artificial constrains and requirements such as the border garrisons and operational restrictions but this is an argument for another day)

FWtBT Post game summary

The tides of War: The game can be divided into 4 phases. Phase one ‘the land grab’ comprised the initial explanation and consolidation by both sides from game start to around September/October ’36.  The Nationalists were initially frustrated by the failure of Seville to declare for the cause but this did not appear to hurt their efforts too much. The early capture of Malaga meant that the Nationalists had a route for the arriving reinforcements and colonial troops and became something of a backwater for the main troop entry to the front. The loss of production did make itself felt in latter turns but production soon returned after capture. The front stabilises in the region of a line, Motril (on the south coast), Gaudix, Aquilegia, Valdepenas, Alcazar de  San Juan, Aranjuez, then along the Cordillera Central north of Madrid to Catalayud and south to Zaragoza still firmly in Nationalists hands. The revolutionaries made an attempt to collapse Asturias but gave up as resistance stiffened and this proved to be a significant error.

Phase two of the game in the spring/summer of 1937 centred around the large battles for the central plain and the towns of Valdepenas, Alcazar de San Juan and Aranjuez characterized by these towns changing hands several times. The breakout to Ceunca by the Nationalists finally broke the Republican resistance and a somewhat precipitous retreat that resulted lead to the sudden collapse of resistance and the rather easy capture of Madrid (it should be recorded that a misinterpretation of the abilities of transport units ability to advance after combat resulted in breakthroughs being a lot more fragile than necessary which prolonged this period of see saw actions.)

Simultaneously and perhaps the decision which the most long term consequences was the persistent failure of the Nationalists to provide enough defensive support on the Zaragoza front which was slowly and inexorably pushed further north with the Republic briefly capturing Catalayud(May ’36) for a time.

This defined the start of the third phase of the game where the Republic held the upper hand. The Nationalists aware that the struggle in the East had resulted in a northern expansion of the Republic so stripped the central front to the minimum and tried to stiffen the defence in the east whilst at the same time trying to reduce the northern gobetnetos.  The Republic still retained the momentum and came within one attack of reaching the Basque lines and taking Pamplona. Simultaneously they were retaking grounding the West and indeed for a moment it looked like a push to Madrid was feasible .

At this time the Nationalists considered conceding and indeed had the Republic linked with the Basques in strength they may well have done so.  However the failure of the Republic link up with the Basques gave the Nationalists fresh hope and the final phase of the game began

This was initiated by a prepared attack south from Catalayud area to Zaragoza. The Republic had pushed their best troops to the far north and the Nationalist breakout threatened to trap apppprox1/3 of the republican forces in the far north. The secondary Albacete front was stripped to reinforce the defence South of Zaragoza to contain the Nationalists while the far northern forces started the long retreat south.

The Republic with the aid of the northern rains did finally contain the breakout and the war from the end of 1938 was characterised by the Nationalists pushing South to Valencia thus cutting the Republic in two Having held back for good weather the Nationalists had been stockpiling supplies and pre-positioning units Thus the good weather saw the unleashing of a massive final offensive south towards Barcelona. As with the 1938 operation ultimately the breakout failed to complete a large encirclement of troops although many were eliminated in the large scale retreat

The final days of the republic saw a lone defiant Murcia in the West and a collapsing Republican rump in the East one hex away from collapse at game end.

Air and sea; the air war was interesting in so far ask each side was ascendant for part of the game although the. Nationalists were dominant overall. The republicans tried to maintain a mixed force but as defenders rarely used the air force effectively. The exception was naval patrol which seems especially effective at eliminating naval assets and netted them quite a few victory points. After the early attrition Naval battles the Nationalist fleet was never strong enough or bold enough to significantly interdict reinforcements. Both sides have considerable engineering assets so any rail destruction can only be of limited effectiveness. This play through suggests that other than a naval patrol wing the Republic would be best served with a pure fighter force deployed in depth to limit Nationalist hits.

The nationalists have a generally longer ranged and effective and balanced force which is able to perform a variety of tasks and did so well particularly the harassment campaign against the retreating forces in late 38 and 39.

The naval war was short. The Republic forced an encounter and lost and thereafter the Nationalist rump dominated the seas but was not strong enough to perform anything other than occasional and ineffective interdiction activities and some transport and NG support.

Triumphs & Tragedies; The Nationalists certainly played the better tactical game, they paid good attention to maximum stacking, armour effects and minimised reliance on air power as “flying artillery” to achieve odds. However they were strategically less successful. The move on Seville was timed correctly and the initial move for territory was well executed with a secure flank south of Zaragoza and a good line in the west. However thereafter the decision to coral the gobernetos and continue the battles in the centre was a strategic error. It is true that this gave them Madrid at little direct cost but this allowed the gobernetos to reach full strength and thereafter it was always to be an uphill struggle. Similarly there was never quite enough defence in the east. The golden rule here is that it is far easier to hold ground than to retake it if given up and even with the final precipitous collapse of the Republicans the Nationalists never quite finished them off before game end due to the start line being way back at Catalayed when they began the final offensive push

By contrast the Republicans played a good strategic game and came within an ace of a Nationalist surrender. They attacked where strongest in the East, north through Zaragoza to the Basques almost taking Pamplona. They created a good spoiling attack in the East out of Albacete which caused the Nationalists pause for thought and deftly swapped from an offensive to defensive posture when needed.

However tactically they were less adept. There was no effective use of armour. The rules make attacking with armour difficult for the Republic but had they thought more about defensive use of their tanks they may have been able to assemble some defensive modifiers mid game. The larger stacks and 2 unit stacking limit  makes any effective use limited in endgame especially as their armour is only 1/2 AECD

Perhaps their worst errors came with the lack of a secondary defensive line which allowed a number of significant Nationalist breakthroughs this should have been avoided for little detrimental effect Too late they developed the better tactic of a thin secondary line overrun proof from most exploitation stacks and a reserve of top line divisions as a “Fire fighting” force for localised counter attacks. This worked well until losses required that these troops join the front line. Had all these tactical developments been employed from the start I feel the Republic could have ended the game in a much stronger position militarily. Ultimately however the whole worked good enough to save the day but it was a close run affair.

'Autorretrat vestit de millicia' c 1938 by Pere Daura I Garcia (1896-1976)

‘Autorretrat vestit de millicia’ c 1938 by Pere Daura I Garcia (1896-1976)

A personal note

FWtBT is my favourite Europa title which is surprising as the East Front is my main area of interest and indeed it was DNO which got me hooked on wargaminig all those years ago.

In particular in FWtBT the force balance nice and the use of supply counters tends to create a more realistic “pulse” of offensives, lulls and counter attacks. I am certainly keen to play this game again and try out different strategies and put into place the lessons learned from the errors of both sides in this game. The AAR reporting and the reference to VPs ( not normally a solitaire concern) provides for tighter more considered play which itself is a different experience to my normal  quick solitaire run through  The game which has taken 9 months real time has become a part of my daily routine and I have gained many insights about the game. In this regard I am grateful to those who have offered help, advice and, in particular, corrections and rules interpretations where I have gone astray.

Regarding the war itself Franco, no doubt mindful of the awful slaughter kept Spain out of the Second World War despite entries from his invaluable ally Hitler. In 1947 he was made head of state for life.  When he died in November 1975, the monarchy was restored when Prince Juan Carlos became head of state, as Franco had decreed. Spain quickly translated itself into a fully functioning modern democracy just as much as other European countries. Ultimately therefore the War now appears a pointless bloodletting marking a moment of madness in Spain’s history.

These last words are penned between Palamos and Tarragona in Catalonia as part of a cruise around the Western Mediterranean and l finish with a photo of a painting seen in the Covent Museum of Ciutadella in Minorca on this same trip. The portrait has the following explanatory note about the artist which is interesting particularly for the American connection.

“The son of a Barcelona family Pere was born in Ciutadella and married an American painter Louise Blair. He subsequently joined the Republican forces and was wounded on the Teruel front. At the outbreak of WWII he and his family were visiting in America and so remained spending his later years at Rockbridge Baths, Virginia where he died in 1976.

The portrait is entitled.  ‘Autorretrat vestit de millicia’ c 1938 by Pere Daura I Garcia (1896-1976)

(Translated from Catalan it reads “Self-portrait in Militia uniform”)

To me it captures the weariness and futility of this war perfectly and is, I feel, a fitting bookend to end this AAR.

JUL II 1939

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Clear skies across land and sea. D=C. E=C, A= C, M= C
Supply: 12 REs of the defenders in Murcia city draw and expend the last supply from GSPs.
Do 17E replaced. G.50 (CTV), CR.32bis (CTV) repaired
Airfield At 3333 augmented to 6 capacity
Movement: 1 Res pt spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 27 REs

Air Activity: Sortie 1: Me109E (KL), HE 51, He 111B, Do 17E, 2B3 deliver 5 GSPs to 3328 unoposed.Sortie2: 3624 (Eastern Barcelona) Unescorted SM.81 SM.79-1 on airfield bombing mission intercepted by I-16/t5 who engages the SM.79-I.  No result. Bombs miss target.

Sortie 3:  SM.79-I, SM.79-I (CTV), HE 111E (KL) fly Terror bombing to Barcelona. The He 111E (KL) is aborted by the intercepting I-16/t5. The remaining bombers score 2 Hits (N +4 VPs)

Attack 1:  3028 mtn (n of Lerida)  Unsupplied 1-8 mtns 7,8,  1-8 mtn art 2 and 3-4-5* inf XXs, 24, 75, 1-6 inf 22, 1-6 inf I-S (Col), 2-1-8 art O and  3-4-5* inf XXs 12, 74, 1-6 inf 27,  1-6 art 12L, 1-8 cav VMS (Fal) Attack 1-2-5 inf 1 (CAT) @ 6:1 (-2) = DH. Advance 24, 75 XXs.

Attack 2:  3531 rough/fort/over river (Tortosa) Unsupplied 6-8 lt 150, 5-6 inf XXs 51, 71, 3-2-6 inf 1LE, 2-6 inf 10BT (Col), 2-1-6 cav 2O (Col), 2-6 art 1P, 2-1-8 art E and 7-8 inf XX 13, 5-6 inf XXs 61, 82, 2-6 infs 5Alh, Tdi (Col), 2-6 art 4P and 6-6 inf XX 52, 102, 2-6 inf 2Mel ~(Col), 2-3-6 art 62, 1-6 arts 10L. 11L and 5-6 inf XX 11, 4-6 inf XX 85, 2-6 infs 8Rif, 6Xau, 4Lar (Col), 2-1-8 cav1E (Col). 1-2-6 art 48 Attack 3-4-5* inf XX 27CM @ 6@1 (-2) = DR. Eliminated as no retreat path. Advance 13, 52, 102 XXs, 6Xau, 8Rif, 4La (Col), 4P, 62 art.  Fort destroyed.

Attack 4: 3229 clear (Lerida). Supplied 2-8 mtn Guad, 5-6 inf XX 53, 4-8 cav 1, 3-2-6 inf 2LE, Unsupplied 2-6 eng AM, 4-6 inf XX 83, 1-2-6 art 49, 1-6 art 2 and (over river)  4-5-5 inf XX 50, 4-6 inf XX 154, 2-6* inf cadre 54, 2-6 infs 3Ceu, 7Lam(Col),, supplied 4-6 XX FV (Mxd), 1-8 mot art L (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV) and  (over river) 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV),  4-6 art 3RG, 3-2-6 inf 3LE, unsupplied 6-6 inf XXs 3, 4, 152, 2-1-8 lt tks 2,3 and 2 pts GS from 1A2 Mxd. Attack 3-4-5* inf XXs 77, 30(Cat), 1-2-6 18, o.5 Garrison (unsupported) @ 4:1 = DE.  Advance 53 XX, 2LE, Guad mtn, 2, 49 art, AM cons. Fort destroyed 2X AS destroyed, Garrison dispersed.

Attack 5: clear (SE Lerdia).  $ Points AA form 88 (KL) fires at DAS 2X SB-2 Returning one.

Supplied6-6 inf XXs 5, 63, 108, 4-6 arts 1RG, 2RG (Transported), 3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV), 2-10 aa 88 (KL) attack 3-4-5* inf XX 74 (Cat), 1-8 lt tk 1, 2-6 nvl 95, 1-6 inf 16, 1-6 eng 4, 1-6 mg 3, 1-2-6 art 2, 1pt DAS @ 2:1 (+1) = DH!.  Lose 95 nvl, 1 lt tk

4 eng ,16  inf 16, 3 mg. Advance 63, 108.

Jul II 1939 - Lerida and Tortosa fall

Jul II 1939 – Lerida and Tortosa fall

Republican Turn

VPs : Goberneto none collapse (R+5 VPs) None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
Guerrillas;Hit the rail junction at Aranjuez.
Supply:  Western Zone: 12 REs @ Murcia Cty U4 all GSPs and Ass exhausted so roll for elimination:  2-6 nvl is unafect4ed, all 3 divisions eliminated*  2 tk, 15 art are eliminated.
Interesting rules point are attected divisions completly eliminated or reduced to cadre?  Rule 9E Cadres specifies “in combat”, Rule 13 Overuns specifically states they are not formed yet Rule 12 Supply is moot on the point. I rule that they are NOT formed on the bais that this is not combat and combat staying power does not make you any less lilely to starve.)

Eastern Zone:  Isolated 3-6* at 3534 U2.
Replacements;   3.5 SRP, 1 SRP (Cat)  recovered.   R-Z  Rebuilt..
Air Activity:  sortie 1: R-Z, SB-2bis fly DAS to 3427
Sortie2:  R-Z flies DAS to 3428
Sortie 3: The last Sortie of the war 2x SB-2 fly DAS to 3327
Moves: The mighty fortress of Murcia is reduced to a ptiful rump which can be overrun.

The Republic’s northern flank is constrained by The Nationalist drive due East and can only move one hexand is thus unable to aid the more critical defenders south of the penetration.

The Republic thin the main line still further to get an overrun proof second line.

The line is thinner than last turn and the Nationalists will inevitably take another hex towards Barcelona and force the Catalans to collapse and thus end the game.

BUT the Nationalists , of course,  have no more turns left to do this.

The Republic has survived by one hex and one turn.

Jul II 1939: Murcia garrison reduced by famine

Jul II 1939: Murcia garrison reduced by famine

JUL I 1939

Narrative:

A growing problem for the Nationalists administration was the containment and management of prisoners of war. Camps were set up across the country and although the worst of the winter was past still posed a vast problem of logistics.  In all there are now 190 plus prisoner of war and transit camps holding between them 367,000 to 500,000 inmates. During the final offensives 60,000 have been taken in the Western Zone, and 45,000 in the East. Some were now put into employment, some given provisional liberty and escapee’s suicides and execution squads also helped reduce numbers

The internments continued after the war for many. One such place put into service I discovered on a recent trip was part of the former Roman Circus at Tarragona, known as Pilatus prison. It is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the ordinary soldier that one inmate penned the following.   ”People of all ages experienced the same sense of oppression when they were put in solitary in that dungeon Of course our generation had grown so accustomed to suffering that even without noticing we had adapted to any possible situation, however difficult, dangerous, uncomfortable. Some hours after living in such terrible conditions, badly eating, sleeping on the floor, enshrouded by darkness, covered in lice and bedbugs and fearful of a court martial that could condemn us to the maximum sentences, we felt veterans of that home and could offer comfort and advice to those who arrived every day”.

Jul I 1939: The end in the West; Murca beseiged

Jul I 1939: The end in the West; Murca beseiged

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Clear skies across land and sea. D=C. E=C, A= C, M= C
Supply: 12 REs of the defenders in Murcia city draw supply from GSPs (2 REs @ U3) and expend their last ASP for 12 more GSPs.
Replacements: 4.5 SRPs received.   1-6 eng ZME replaced. Me 109B/D, HE111B (KL)
Movement: 1 Res pt spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 27 REs
1 REs pt spent to build airfield at 3333.

Air Activity:  Sortie 1: Large mixed fighter/bombing force flies an airfield bombing mission to Lerida. The I-16/t5 on the runway scrambles to Barcelona; 1 Hit achieved.

Sortie 2: G.50 (CTV), C2.23 escorts 2B3 Mxd, SM.81, SM.79-1 to bomb Taragonna airfield. An I-16/t5 aborts the G, 50 and an I-16/t10 and the CR.32 The G.50 is aborted and the CR.32 eliminate each other.  The mission force scores a Hit and knocks out the base, (N+2VPs, (R+2 VPs)

Sortie 3: Taking advantage of the cleared skies a He 111E (KL) flies GS to3430

Attack1: 3329 clear (S of Lerida) Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 5, 63, 108, 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV), 3-2-8 lt tk N, 4-6 arts 1RG, 2RG Attack 4-6 inf XX 47, 2-3-5* inf XX 21, 2-6 nvl 95, 3-4-5* inf XX (Cat), 1-2-6 art 12 v(Cat) @ 2:1 (+1) = DR (Excitement at a roll of 5 turns to disappointment  as it is the only none lethal defender result – if only those tanks had broken down!). Advance 5, 108 XX, N lt tk

Attack2: 3430 clear (Bend of the Ebro nth of Tortosa), 4 points AA fires at the DAS SB-2bis and misses.  Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 3, 4, 152, 3-2-6 inf 3LE, 2-6 inf 10BT (Col), 4-6 art 3RG, 3-1-2 sg art Man (CTV), 2-10 AA 88 (KL) and 5-6 inf XX 54, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 2LE, 2-1-8 art O, unsupplied 2-6 art 1P, 2-6 inf 7Lam (Col) and 2 pts GS attack 6-6 inf XX 35 (Int), 3-6* inf XX 1, 2-6 infs152C, 222C, 2-6 nvl 56 and 1 pt DAS @ 3:1 = HX. Lose XX54 to cadre, O art. Advance 3, 4, 152 XXS, 3RG art, sge art Man (CTV)

Attack 3: 3631 canal intensive (Coast adj Torosa) Unsupplied 6-6 infs XX 52,102, 2-6 inf 2Mel (Col), 2-3-6 art 62 Attack 1-6 eng 2, 0-1-5 cons 3 @ 8:1 (-1) = DE. Advance All.

Attack 4: 3532 clear (W of Tortosa) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs51, 71 and 7-6 inf XX 13, 2-1-8 lt tks 2,3, Supplied 1-8 mot art L (CTV) and Unsupplied over mtn 5-6 inf XXs 61, 82, 3-4-5* inf XX 33, 2-6 art 4P Attack 2-3-5* inf XX49 @ 5:1 = DR. Eliminated as no retreat path. Advance 61, 82XXs, 2, 3 lt tk, L mot art (CTV), 4P art

Attack 5: 3533 Mtn (nth of coast road W of Tortosa)  Unsupplied 2-8 mtn Guad, 2-1-8 art E, 2-6 infs Tdi, 5lah (Col) and 6-8 lt inf 150, 5-6 inf XX 11, 2-6 inf8Rif, 2-1-8 cav1E, 1-2-6 art 48 and Supplied 5-8 inf LA, 4-6 inf XX FA(Mxd)  1-8 mg Ard( CTV), 1-8 mot Ter (CTV) attack  1-6 bdr 8car, 1-6 art 5L @ 6:1 (-2) = DR. Eliminated no retreat path. 150 XX lt.

Jul I 1939: Tortosa encircled

Jul I 1939: Tortosa encircled

Republican turn

VPs: Goberneto none collapse (R+5 VPs) None Surrender(R+10 VPs)
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply:  Western Zone: 12 REs @ Murcia City draws of GSPs (Underlying supply condition is now U4) 2 REs roll for elimination 1-8 inf GP sand all 3 succumb and are lost.
Eastern Zone:  Isolated 3-6* at 3534 U1.
Replacements;   4.5 SRP recovered.   SB-2 Repaired. 1-2-6 sec rebuilt.

Air Activity: Sortie 1:  2X SB-2 fly DAS to 3328

Sortie 2:  SB-2Bis, R-Z fly DAS to 3528

Moves:  Fort built at 3239 (E Tortosa)

Republicans abandon the Cinca river line and fall back towards the Sagre river.  Lerida is exposed and will fall but supplies are flowing through the French border so they can fight on in general supply if so.

Attacks: None

JUN II 1939

Narrative

The end is in sight and dismay, betrayal and naïve belief that a settlement could still be negotiated or at least respect gained on a professional basis was still held by some. The commander of the Western Zone; Colonel Segismundo Casado a professional cavalry officer from a peasant background was one of the latter.  He still felt that professional soldiers could negotiate with The Nationalists- professional to professional as it were. He was not one who hoped he could save his life and career by a last minute betrayal but was naïve in his belief that Franco could be swayed. In fact the last thing Franco wanted at this point was to have to share the victory stage with anyone else. Casado made contact through a variety of means including the British but the reply from Franco was unequivocal; Unconditional surrender

“Delay in surrender and a criminal and futile resistance to our advance will carry a grave responsibility, which we will exact on the grounds of the blood spilled uselessly”.

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Clear skies across land and sea. D=C. E=C, A= C, M= C
Supply:  The defenders in Murcia city draw supply from GSPs the outlying posiiotns forage off the land as best they can and are at U2 Alicante defensers now cut off from the rest are U2.
3-6* XX inf 14 (An) comes of GSPs so rolls for elimination as would be U4+ without GSP use. The Republic converts a further ASP to GSPs in Murcia for next turn.
Replacements: 1.5 SRPs received.

Movement: 1 Res pt spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 27 REs

Naval Activity: TFs prepare for NGS off coast at Alicante.

3 X NTs transport ASP from San Sebastian to Cartagena then move empty to Malaga.

Air Activity. Severely weakened by the continuous air combat of recent months the Nationalists devote the majority of the sorties this turn to airfield bombing in an attempt to eliminate the Republicans capability in the air.

Sortie 1: He 51 and CR.32Bis fly to Lerida. Intercepted by I-16/t5. The CR.32Bis jettisons payload and forms a screen. The i-16/t5 engages. All is ineffective

Sortie 2: 2X CR32.Bis (CTV) fly to Tarragona; One escorting the other joining a He 111B. Intercepted by I-16/t5 whom engages the escort aborting the CR.32Bis for no loss. The mission force fails to score a hit

Sortie 3: 2B3 Mxd flies to Barcelona. Intercepted by an I-16/t5 air combat, AA fire and bombing all ineffective.

Sortie 4&5 SM.81, SM79-1 (CTV) avoid flack and cause 1 hit Aborting a SB-2Bis on the ground and 2X SM.79-1  also avoid flack but miss.

A disappointing campaign.

Western Zone:

Attack 1:  rough (Alicante) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 105, 1-2-8 art 50 and 4-8 cav XX 2, 4-6 inf XX 117, 151, 1-6 mgs E, O and 4-6 inf XX 60, 3-4-5* inf XX 16, 34, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal), 1-6 art 10L  and 5-6 inf XXs 62, 64m 4-5-5 inf XX 55, 1-22-6 art 42 and 2 pts NGS Attack  U”/Isolated 4-6 inf XX 34, 3-6 art 1Man, 1-8 tk10, 0-1-5 cons, 1pt pos AA, 0.5 Garrison @ 5:1 (-1) = EX. Lose 16, 34 XX,  E, O mg, 10L art

Advance 105, XX, 50 art

Attack 2: 2208 clear (Orihuela) Unsupplied 4-6 XX 15 and (over river) 3-4-5* inf XX s 40,72, 73, 1-6 sec 2GC, 1-6 arts 1, 15L, 1-2-6 art 46 and 1A22 pts  GS Attack U2/Isolated3-6* XX3, U1iosolated 0-1-5 cons @ 4:1 = DR. Eliminated no retreat path. Advance2GC sec, 46 art, 15XX

Attack 3: 4109 rough (Adjacent Murcia) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 81, 4-6 inf XX 106, 1-6 mg IMPex, 1-6 arts 4L, 13L and 4-6 inf XX 107, 3-4-5* inf XX 32, 1-2-6*inf 32, 2-8 mtn Pir, 1-6 inf30, 1-6 bdr 7Car and 4-6 inf XXs 112, 122, 1-6 infs 1MT, 5MR (Col), 2-6 inf 9Arc, 1-6 art 16L, 1-2-6 art 43 and ME 109 1pt  GS Attack  U4 isolated 3-6* inf XX 14 (An) U2 2-1-8 tk O @ 6:1 (-1) = DE.  Advance 61XX.

Coastal Zone

Attack 4: 3632 clear (Cpast road Valencia/Catalan boarder) Unsupplied 7-6 inf XX 13, 6-6inf XX 52, 102, 3-3-6 inf 3LE, 2-6 infs2Mel, 6Xuan (Col), 2-3-6 art 62, 2-6 art 4P Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 42 @ 5:1 = HX. Lose 3LE. Advance 13XX, 62 art.

Eastern Zone;

Attack 5:  3431 (N of Torosa) Supplied 5-6 inf XXs 51, 54, 71, 3-2-6 inf 1LE, 2-6 infs 7Lam (Col), 10BT (Col), 1-6 art 12~L, 2-1-8 art O Attack 3-4-5* inf XX 27CM, 2-6 inf 211C @ 5:1 (-1) = DR. Advance 51, 54, 71 XXs

Attack 6: 3433.wooded rough  (E of Teruel) Supplied 5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 4-6 inf XX FA, FM (Mxd) 1-8 mg Ard (CTV) , 1-8 art Ter (CTV) and  Unsupplied4-4-5 inf XX 50, 4-6 inf XX 85, 4-8 Cav XX 1, 2-8 mtn Guad, 1-6 bdr 8Car, 1-6 inf 27, 2-1-8 artE Attack 3-6* inf XX 40 @ 8:1 (-2) = DH. Advance 1 CavXX, 50XX,  Guad mtn, 27, 8car bdr, E art

Attack 7: 3432 rough (NW Torossa) Supplied 2-6 infs Tdi (Col), 3Ceu (Col), 2-6 eng AM. 2-6 art 1P, Unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs 61, 82, 83, 1-2-6 art 49 = 5:1 (-2) m= DR Eliminated no retreat path. Advance 61, 82, 83 XXs, 1P art, TDi (Col).

Attack 8 3330 (S of Lerida) This is the important attack of this turn to breach the river line.

Supplied (Over river) 6-6 inf XXs 5, 63, 108, 2-6 inf 5Alh (Col), 2-10 AA 88 (KL), 1-8 mc B (CTV), Transported 4-6 arts 1RG, 2RG and (over river) 6-6 inf XXs 1, 4, 152, 3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV) 3-2-6 inf2LE, 4-6 art 3RG, 3-1-2 sg art Man (CTV) attack 3-4-5* inf XXs 17, 57, 2-3-5* inf XX 39, 1-2-6 art 20 @ 3:1 = EX! Success and elimination of defenders- but at a cost… Lose 2LE, 3RG, Cadre1XX Advance 5,108 XXs, 1RG

Jun II 1939 Ebro line breached.

Jun II 1939 Ebro line breached.

Republican Turn

VPs: Goberneto none collapse (R+5 VPs) None Surrender(R+10 VPs)
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply:  Western Zone: Murcia City draws of GSPs (Underlying supply condition is now U3)
Replacements;   4.5 SRP recovered.   SB-2bis Repaired.
Air Activity; Sorties 1 & 2; Escorted DAS missions. Not intercepted result in a SB-2 over Lerida and a R-Z over 3103 (N of Lerida)
Sortie 3: 3430 (Elbow of the Ebro adjacent Tortosa) SB-2, SB-2b The SB-2 and CR.32bis are Aborted. The SB-2Bis survives to provide DAS
Attacks: None

JUN I 1939

Narrative

The game is now firmly divided into two parts; the Main front facing Barcelona “The Eastern Zone” and the diminishing resistance in Murcia “The Western Zone”.

The Nationalists have ramped up the offensive to fever pitch to try and deal a final death blow to the Republic.  They launch 11 attacks; 8 in the East; 3 in the West; the most ever in a single turn. Most in the East however are against single divisional rear guards designed by the Republic to slow the attack and penetration depth of the fascists while the bulk of the front line retreats behind the Cinca/Ebro river line, as yet unbreached.  So while the Nationalists are making many attacks most are single divisions at risk and the Republic anticipates they will have a very strong river MLR by mid-June.  The Nationalists are not unaware of this tactic and have expended very few supplies this turn in the east and none at all in the Western Zone. This limits the odds which will cause them more exchange losses but they still have a few IRPs in the bank. Many of the Republican rear guards are surrounded so their elimination is assured. Only on the coast road from Valencia is there a chance of complete failure but this is only 1/6 and due to the narrow frontage so this thrust needs to be almost fully supplied, (The Nationalists are only 1 point short of the next odds column but unfortunately so many aircraft are inoperable following the earlier Harassment that there are insufficient machines left to get the one elusive attack factor even after adding in the two available points of NGS.)

The question in the West is whether the Republic will have any survivors by game end which is rapidly approaching. Possibly not.

In the East the Nationalists need to try and trigger the collapse of Catalonia, which will force the Republic to the negotiating table. To do so they must advance to within 45 miles of the city; but time is on the Republics side.

Jun I 1939, Murcia threatened

Jun I 1939, Murcia threatened

Nationalists turn

Weather; Clear skies across Spain both land and sea. D=C. E=C, A=CR, M= C
Supply:  6 RE in Murcia plus adjacent anarchists draw supply from draw from GSPs. Adjacent PA units are U1. Republic expends 1ASP for 12 more GSPs. All Republicans in Eastern Zone back in supply
Replacements: 4.5 SRPs, 0.5 SRPs (Col) received.   1-6 eng replaced.
Reinforcements; 154XX equipped on arrival.
Movement: 1 Res pt. spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 27 REs

Naval Activity:  NT-4 Transports 9Arc (Col) from Morocco to Cartagena

Air Activity:  Sortie 1:  SM.79-1 flies night Factory Bombing to Barcelona. Feeble AA misses but so do the bomb aimers.

Western Zone;

Attack 1: 4007 (s of Yecia) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 84, 4-5-5 inf XX 55, 3-4-5 inf XX 16, 1-5 mech 1, 1-6 mg IMExp and 3-4-5 inf XXs 34,m 74 and 4-6 inf XXs 15, 106, 117, 1-8 arts 4L, 10L, 13L Attack U1 Isolated 2-3-5* inf XX9, 2-1-8 to 1 @ 5:1 (-1) = DH. All eliminated – no retreat path. Advance 34, 74 XXs

Attack 2: clear  ( N of Alicante) Unsupplied4-6 inf xx 151, 4-8 cav XX 2, 1-6 mgs O, E and 5-6 inf XXs62, 105, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal), 1-2-6 art 42, 1-2-8 art 50 Attack U1 isolated2-3-5* inf XX36 @ 4:1 = DH. Advance XX 62, AGM (Fal), 42 art

Attack 3: : 4310 clear (between Cartagena and Murcia) Unsupplied  4-6 inf XX 107, 1-2-6* inf 32 and  4-6 inf XXs 14, 122, 3-4-5* inf XX 14, 1-6 inf 17, 1-6 bdr 7car, 1-6 inf 1MT (Col), 1-2-6 art 43, 1-6 art 16L and 3-4-5 inf XXs 19,  40 and 3-4-5* inf XX 72, 2-6 inf 9Arc (Col), 1-6 5MR, 2-8 mtn Pir, 1-6 inf 24, 1-6 sec 2GC, 1-2-6 art 46, 1-6 art 1, 15L Attack U1 Isolated 1-5 Muer, Isolated 3-4-5* inf 26 (All An) @ 4:1 = EX. Lose 40XX, 17, 24. Advance 14XX.

Valencia/Barcelona coast road

Attack 4: 3633 rough (on the Valencia/Catalonia boarder coast road)  Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 52, 102, 7-6 inf XX 13, 406 arts 1RG, 3RG, 3-2-6 inf 3LE and  Unsupplied 2-6 infs 6Xau, 2Mar (Col) attack 4-6 inf XX65, 2-6 nvl 56, 1-2-6 art 2  @ 4:1 (-1) = DR. Advance 52, 102 XX,  6Xau, 2Mar (Col).

Attack 5: 3634 Rough. Unsupplied  6-8 lt XX 150, 5-6 inf XXs 11, 52, 2-1-8 lt tks 2, 3, 2-1-8 cav1E (Col), 2-3-6 art 62, 1-2-6 art 46, transport and 3-4-5* inf XX 56, 2-6 infs4Lar, 8Rif (Col), 2-1-8 cav 2O (Col), 2-6 art 4P,  Attack 3-6* inf XX 77 @ 6:1 (-1) = DR. Eliminated,  as no retreat path. Advance 53, 56 XX.

Eastern Zone;

Attack 6:  3334 rough (E of Teruel) Unsupplied 3-4-5* inf XXs 12, 57, 1-68 eng GG, 1-6 bdr 8Car, 2-8 mtn Guaf,And  6-6 inf XX 5, 5-6 inf 54, 4-6 inf XX 85, 1-6 inf 28, 1-6 mg 2, 2-1-8 art E And 4-8 Cav XX 1, 2-6 inf 3Ceu (Col) Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 64 @ 5:1 (-1) = DE. Advance 57XX, 27, 8Car bdr, GG eng, Guad mtn, E art

Attack 7: 3232 clear/fort (S Zaragoza) Unsupplied4-6 inf XX 63, 3-4-5* inf XX 33, 1-6 23, 2-6 infs 7Lam, 5Ahl (Col) and 5-6 inf XX 82, 4-5-5 inf XX 50, 4-6 inf XX 154, 2-6 cadre 105, 1-6 inf I-S (Col), 1-6 art 11L, 12L Attack 2-3-5* inf 60 (Cat) @ 5:1 (-1) = DR eliminated as no retreat. Advance 50, 83 XXs fort destroyed

Attack 8: 3332 Clear (NW Tortosa)   6-6 inf XXs 1, 4, 63, 2-6 inf 10BT (Col), 3-1-2 sge art, Man (CTV),  2-10 AA 88 (KL), 1-8 AA 71m  2-6 art 1P  Attack 3-4-5* inf XX 58 with 1 pt. GS.

AA attacks SB-2 GS with 6 pts. AA and Returns it. Attack is now 7:1 = DH Advance 1, 4 XXs, Man (CTV)

Attack 9: 3030 clear (MW Lerida) 3= Unsupplied 3-4-5* XXs 24, 75 and 3-4-5* inf XXs 19, 22, 58, 1-6 inf 33, 1-6 art 2, 1-8 cav VMS (Fal) Attack 1-2-5 inf4 (Cat) @ 9:1 = DE. Advance 22, 24 XXs

Attack 10: 3031 rough/fort (NW Lerida) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 61, Supplied 4-6 inf XX FV (Mxd) and  4-6 inf XXs FA, FM (Mxd), 5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 1-8 mg Ard (CTV), 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV, 1-8 mc B (CTV) Attack 2-3-5 inf XX 31 (Cat) @ 8:1 (-2) = DH. Advance FA, FM XX (Mxd)

Attack 11: 3231 clear (W Lerida) Supplied 6-6 inf XX 152, 4-6 art 2RG, 2-6 eng AM, 2-6 inf Tdi unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs 71, 51, 1-2-6 art 49, 1-8 AA 72 Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 69 1 pt GS. . AA attacks SB-2 Bis GS and misses. Attack @ 5:1 = DH. Advance 51, 71, 152 XXs, 2RG art, AM eng

Exploitation movement; 3-2-8 lt tk N, Transported 2-1-8 art, 2-10 AA 88 (KL) exploit to 3230 (Bend of Ebro immediately W of Lerida)

Jun I 1939: Outskirts of Lerida reached

Jun I 1939: Outskirts of Lerida reached

Republican turn

VPs: Goberneto none collapse (R+5 VPs) None Surrender(R+10 VPs)

Guerrillas; Break the rail junction at Catalayud

Supply:  Western Zone: Republicans feed of 12 GSPs from previous turn. (Underlying supply condition is now U2) The 3 6 and 5 strength XXs are put into supply plus 3 regiments at Murcia. The rest are U1.  Due to the MSP any factory generated ASP will not be able to be used for supply till the Nationalists next turn.

Replacements;   2.5 SRP, 1.5 SRP (Cat) recovered.  1-2-6 sec replaced.   SB-2 Replaced

Reinforcements: Arrive at Barcelona following Nationalists withdrawal of fleet to Murcia.

Moves: In the Western Zone; The Republicans in Murcia pull back for a last stand at the Factory.

In the Eastern Zone the Republic pull back to make a final stand behind the Ebro/Cinca rivers.  Confined to a narrow frontage they still manage to defend with stacks of 13-14 points (Except at the extreme right flank in the Pyrenees) which is behind a river in all but one hex.

MAY II 1939

Narrative

Spoiler alert . (This reveals the outcome of the turn so skip ahead if you prefer to see the details first)

Pre combat; The Nationalist attack builds in fury as 8 attacks are launched this time right across the front.  3 of these are fully supplied and a further 2 attacks are part supplied for a total expenditure of 10 ASPs. The Nationalists are getting desperate for results and one of the fully supplied attacks carries a 1/6 chance of AS. Furthermore they are using up stocks fast and this “fire and thunder” attack will leave only 11 ASPs in the ammunition dumps. The last Factory Production cycle will give them 7 more plus some foreign aid means that only two more such turn are likely to be possible.

Post combat; After the disappointing results last turn this turn’s attacks offer more hope. The Republic lose 3 front line stacks and a small breakout and exploitation towards Tortosa threatens again to trap the refugee units from Teruel.  Unfortunately the push along the coast road from Valencia to Barcelona only Retreats the defending stack giving a good stack of units the Republic can re-deploy and this will provide some of the fleeing units an escape route along the road to Tortossa.

In the West the fall of Cartegena spells the end of Republican resistance in the Western zone and only a moping up operation remains. This was achieved with very little AS expenditure as all Supplies are needed for the main drive to Barcelona.

At the beginning of the turn it seemed all was lost but perhaps, just,  there is a glimmer of a hope for final Surrender but this is indeed  a hope rather than an expectation.

Nationalists turn

Weather;  Clear skies across Spain but Westerlies move over the Atlantic. D=C. E=C , A= R, M= C
Supply:..  26XX (An) Draws Supply from GSPs at Murcia. Other Anachists draw from GSPs. Republic expends 1 ASP for 12 points GSP.
Replacements: 2.5 SRPs received.   1ME 109E (KL) replaced. SM.81 repaired

Movement: 1 Res pt spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 24.75 REs

Air Activity: Sortie 1: CR.32Bis, CR.32Bis (CTV) fly to Lerida on airfield bombing mission. Intercepted by I-16/t5 who aborts the CR.32Bis (CTV).  Bombs Fall wide.

Sortie 2: CR.32, CR.32Bis (CTV) fly to Alicante on airfireld bombing mission. Intercepted by I-16/t5 who aborts the CR.32Bis (CTV).  Bombs Fall wide.

Sorties 3-6:  Unopposed GS to various attacks (See below)

Sortie 7: He 1118, SM.79-1 (CTV) fly Factory bombing to Murcia. Both evade AA and score 1 Hit.

Naval Activity. Nationalist surface and Submarine Groups move from Barcelona to blockade Murcia which is deemed safer due to the minimal Republican air cover in that zone. BBTF-1 and CATF prepare for NGS.

Attack1: clear/dot city (Cartagena)  Supplied  4-6 inf XXs 112, 122 , Unsupplied  3-4-5* inf XX 14, 1-6 bdr 7Car, 1-6 inf 1BT (Col) , 1-2-6art 43, 1-6 arts 15L, 16L and 3-4-5* inf XXs  18, 40, 73 1-6 inf 24, 2-8 mtn Pir,  1-6 inf 5MR, 1-6 art 1. 1-2-6 art 46 and 2 point NGS Attack  3-4-5* inf XX 26, 1-2-5 infs 147, 149, 1-5 inf  Muer (All An) , 1 pt garrison  @ 3:1 = DH. Lose 147, 148, Muer (An).. Advance 18,73 XX.. Garrison dispersed.  1 ASP eliminated,  The R-Z escapes to Murcia. ½ RE Rail Capacity captured.  A significant victory because the Murcia Supply net is now eliminated.

Attack2: 4008 rough (N of Murcia)  Unsupplied4-6 inf XXs 107,117, 3-4-5* inf xx74, 1-2-6* inf 32, 1-6 inf 35, 1-6 art 13L, 1-5 inf 1Cord (Fal)  and 4-6 inf XXs 15, 106, 3-4-5* inf XX 34, 1-6 infs 19, 20, 1-6 arts 10L, 4L and 2 Factors GS = 4:1 (-1) = EX. Lose 19, 20, 35, 1Cord (Fal). Advance 34, 74XXs

Attack3:    4004  (SE Alzera) Unsupplied5-6 inf XXs 62, 105, 1-2-6 art 42, 1-2-8 art 50, 1-5 mech 1, Supplied 5-6 inf XX 11, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal), 1-8 mc B (CTV), And (over river)  2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV), 2-10 AA 88 (KL), Unsupplied 2-1-8 lt tks 2,3, 4-6 inf XX  151, 4-8 cacv XX 2, 1-2-6 art 48, transport Attack  4-6 art XX 34 @ 5:1 (-1) = DR. Advance 62XX.

Attack 4: 3734 clear ((E of Castilian de la Plana).   Supplied 7-6 inf XX 13, 6-6 inf XXs 3, 102, 2-1-8 cav 2O (Col), 2-6 infs 6Xau, 2Mel, 4-6 arts 1RG, 3RG and 3 ptss GS Attack 3-6 infX 1, 2-3-5* inf XXs 39, 42 @ 4:1 =  DR. Advance 3, 102 XXs.

Attack 5: 3234 rough/fort  (60 miles south of Zaragoza)  All adjacent uncommitted forces attack unsupplied at  5:1 (-2) = DR. Eliminated as no retreat path.  Advance 50 inf xx, 8Car bdr , 8 mtn, 12LartI-S (Col). Fort destroyed

Attack 6 3333  clear (50 miles north of Tortosa on the Mediterranean coast) Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 1, 4, 108, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 3LE, 3-2-8 lt tk N, 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV), 1-8 mot art L (CTV), Transport  and 2 pts GS Attack 3-6 inf XXs2,5,  8, 1-2-6 secs 10GA, 7GA @ 3:1 = HX. Lose 108 to cadre, 1LE. Advance  1XX, 3LE, 108 cadre, N lt tk, Man sg art (CTV), L mot art (CTV)

Attack 7: 3132 clear/fort  (60 miles NW of Lerida)  Supplied5-6 inf XXs 51, 61, 71, 3-2-6 inf 2LE, 2-6 eng AM, 2-6 inf 9Arc (Col), 4-6 art 2RG, 1-2-6 art 49and (over river)  6-6 inf XXs 63, 152, 2-6 infs3Ceu, 5Ahm, Tdi (Col), 2-1-8 art O, Unsupplied 4-6 inf #x’x 60, 1-6 art 11L  Attack 3-4-5* inf xx 74 (Cat), 2-6* inf 13Dom (Int), 1-2-6* inf 20, 1-6 infs 5, 23, 1-5 mech 2 @ 4:1 (-1) = EX. Lose 60 XX, 2LE, O art, 9 Arc (Col) . Advance  63, 71 XXs fort destroyed.

Attack 8: 2931 clear/fort (E of Zaragoza)  Unsupplied3-4-5* inf XXs 19, 75, 1-8 cav VMS (Fal) and 3-4-5* inf XXs 22, 58, 1-6 inf 22, Supplied 4-6 inf XX FV (Mxd) and supplied  5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 1-8 ard (CTV), 4-6 inf XXs FA, FM (Mxd) Attack 2-3-5* imnf XX 44 (Cat) @ 8:1 (-1) = DE, Advance 19, 22 XXs.

Explitation: 3-2-8 lt tk N  1-8 mot art Ter (CTV), transported 3-2-6 inf 3LE move to 3432 overrunning the 2-1-8 tk P. (A mistake by the Republicans to leave such a weak second line unit)

May II 1939: Cartegena falls

May II 1939: Cartegena falls

 

Republican turn

VPs : Goberneto none collapse (R+5 VPs) None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply:  Western Zone: Following the loss of Cartagena the People’s Army have no supply net in Murcia. They can only therefore rely on ASP conversions to GSPs. They have 12 GSPs already in situ from a previous turn so all Anarchists plus 6 REs of PA units clustered around Murcia are put in supply. The remaining PA are U1.
Eastern Zone: The ZOC exerted by the Nationalist breakout to towards Tortossa interdicts the Valencia/Barcelona road at 3532 so the units fleeing encirclement from Terul are U1.
Replacements;   7 SRP, 1.5  SRP (Cat, 1 SRP (An)  recovered.  1-2-6 sec replaced.   I-152 Replaced
Reinforcements: 2 ASPs,  1 Art RP landed at France the previous turn arrive.

Moves: The Perimeter in Murcia shrinks further

Air Activity: Nationalists mount a massive Harassment operation to  prevent the Republican units pinned at the front from crossing the Chinca river, limit the march of those moving East along the coast road and any troops massing to attack their spearhead.

Nationalist Sortie 1:  3232 (S of Zaragoza) HE 111E (KL) escorted by a CR.32bis (CTV) is intercepted by a  I-152 who bypasses the CR.32bis (CTV) and aborts the HE 111E (KL) but is itself aborted.

Nationalist Sorties 2 & 3 Unopposed place 2 Hits At 3613 (Coast road Valencia/Catalonia border) and 1 Hit at 3332 (S Zaragoza)

Republican Sortie 1:  SB-2 escorted by I-16/t5 flied GS to  3332  Intercepted by CR.32bis whom attempts to bypass the !-16/t5 and is Returned.

Attack 1:  3432 rough (NW Tortossa) Supplied 3-4-5* inf XX 7 ,  6-6 inf XX  inf 35 (Int) , 1-6 eng 7 and (over mtn) 4-6 inf XX 47, 3-6* inf XX 7, 2-6 inf 222C and 2-3-5* inf XXs 39, 42 and 3-4-5* inf XX 27CM, 2-3-5* inf XX 21, 2-6 inf 211C Attack  3-2-8 lt tk N, 1-8 mot art L (CTV), transported 3-2-6 inf 3LE @ 5:1 (-3) = DR. Eliminated as no retreat path. This is a risky attack because it consumes most of the royalists remaining Attack supplies and there is a 1/6 chance of an AS but the gamble paid off and the Nationalist spearhead is eliminated.

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