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FEB II 1939

Narrative

Has the Republic reached breaking point? This is the questioned to be answered by the Nationalist planners. The answer is almost. The Republic has no IRPs and simply replaces ¼ from losses. There are a very few new units being raised from reinforcements.  It is said that an army never learns from its own mistakes only those of its enemies and so the case here. The Zaragoza front is static and the Republic have not repeated the Nationalist mistake in front of Albacete and thinned this inactive front too much. Indeed they recognise that this is where the main battle will be fought and spies report the vast build-up of troops and material on the Nationalist side,

So here they are strong and could thin further without immediate danger.

However it is another matter in Murcia and here the answer posed by the Nationalists is Yes, The Republic is approaching a critical mass. This is considered reached when the Nationalists can make multiple attacks with second line units at little or no ASP expenditure, The first signs of this are beginning to show against the Anarchists and the PA defenders who are not making up losses and falling back to maintain density. Even here the line is being attacked at multiple places every turn some attacks just requiring one or two ASPs.

Still however the Republic are managing to maintain sufficient density of Defensive factors on the main axis of Nationalist attack requiring them to mass front line troops artillery and full supply to make progress.

The Nationalists are getting massive quantities of foreign aid and factory production now outstrips the republic at a factor of 2:1. Many are being stockpiled in Zaragoza limited as much by rail capacity getting them to the front than quantity available and  the Albacete front is being supplied with sufficient to maintain the thrust to Valencia.

The Republic are now losing around 4-6 divisions a turn and clearly cannot trade space for much longer before they are pushed into the sea.

So the answer is yes and no to the original question; yes on the Albacete front; no on the Barcelona front.

The problem for the Nationalists is that Barcelona is where the final die will be cast both  figuratively and indeed, it seems, literally as well.

Air Activity Pinpoint accuracy precision bombing (3X 6!) results in rail breaks  @m 3532, 3633.

Attack 2: (Valencia/ Barcelona Rail line) and 3304 (Terul)

Attack1: 3810 rough (E of Hellin)  Supplied 6-8 lt inf XX  150, Unsupplied 3-5 inf XX 74, 1-6 inf  and Supplied 5-6 inf XX 84, unsupplied 5-6 infs 54, 105 Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 36 @ 6:1 (-3) = DR. Advance  84, 74 XXs, 20

Attack 2: 3711 (NE Hellin) Unsupplied4-8 XX cav 2, 1-6 art 13L, 3-4-5*inf XX 34,  and U2 1-6 mg O, 5-6 inf XX 53 Attack 1-5 inf Muer (An) @ 6:1 (-4) = DR (eliminate , no retreat path) Advance  34 XX.

Attack 3: 3802 clear  (E of Hellin) Unsupplied 6-6 inf XX 102, 4-6 inf XXS 15, 107, 1-2-8 art 50, 1-2-6 art 42, 2-6 infs 2Mel (Col)  and 6-6 inf XX 52, 5-6 inf XX 62, 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 2-3-6 art 62, 2-6 infs 6Xau, 8Rif (Col) and 5-6 inf XX 61, 3-2-6 inf 2LE, 2-1-8 cav 2O (Col) Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 9 @ 8:1 (-2) = Dh. Advance 14, 107 XXs, 42 art.

Attack 4;  1006 clear/Dot/Fort.  (Gijon) Supplied 5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 4-6 inf XXS FA, FV (Mxd), 1-8 mg ard (CTV), 1-8 art Ter, 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV) and Supplied 4-6 inf XX FN (Mxd), 5-6 inf XX 71, 4-6 inf XX 60, 2-8 mtns Pir, Guard4-6 art 1RG, 1=2=6 art 49, 2-6 art 1P  and 1-6 eng ZC, 2-6 eng AM, 6-6 infs XX 1,152  4-6 art 2RG, 2-1-8 arts E, O and 4-6 inf XX 85, 1-6 art 12L, 1-6 art2, 1-6 engs ZME, ZMO, 1-8 eng GG and SM-81 GS, 2 NGS from BBTF-1 , CATF Attack  3-4-4* inf XXs, 2,5, 2-3-4 inf XX 7, 1-2-4 infs 13,14, DI, 1-6 art s16, AD, 1pt Garrison @ 4:1 (-2+1) = HX.  Lose engs ZME, ZMO, ZC, AM, mtns Pir, Guard. Advance; Man Ter, Ard (CTV) FA, FV (Mxd) . fort destroyed,  Garrison dispersed. Factory Captured  2 ART RPs captured but sabotage and the heavy fighting has caused considerable damage and the Factory is out of commission till at least August 1939. 0.5 RE Rail capacity captured. NT-4is Scuttled to prevent capture. NT-3 tries to put to sea but is sunk by the blockading capital ships of the Nationalist Navy. ( N+8 VPs)

The end in Asturias:Gijon falls

The end in Asturias: Gijon falls

Nationalist Turn

Weather;  Plunging temperatures and snow descends on  Northern  Spain. D=S. E=M, A= R, M= C
Supply:. Forward pursuers in the Pemebetica out of supply as are some Nationalist in North Aragon valley.  The Republicans on the Madrid/Valencia rail line are back in supply
Movement: 1 Res pt spent to temporarily increase Rail Cap to 24 REs
Replacements ; 1-6 eng replaced. 2B3 mxd, CR.32bis (CTV)  repaired

Republican Turn

VPs : Goberneto none collapse (R+10 VPs) None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
French border; Open
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply:  Almeria defenders U4  isolated dice for elimination 1-2-5 Jou perishes.
The extreme tip of the Nationalist push towards Valencia is back in supply.
Replacements;  0.5 SRPs recovered.   I-15/t25s replaced.

Air Activity:  Naval patrol SB-2, R-Z, GE 23 contacts the submarine group at Almeria but fails to hit any targets.

Attacks: none the Republic have any effective reserves as all troops are needed to man the line.

FEB I 1939

Narrative

The plans for the reduction of Gijon offer an interesting tactical choice. Gijon is stacked with 18 defence factors including one artillery unit plus the 1 pt garrison for a total of 19 points. It is fortified. The weather is winter/mud so there is a total negative modifier of -2/-3 over the coming weeks.. Adjacent to the city also fortified is a stack of 11 factors supported by a 0-1-6 artillery unit. Consequently due to the coast and the supporting stack there are only 3 hexes of attack to the city and the 3 for the supporting stack,  one of which is mountain.

It would be sensible to attack Gijon directly and then allow the collapse of the Goberneto and subsequent isolation and elimination of the supporting stack an easy task. However there is a problem with this approach due to the limited 3 hex frontage of attack.

The maximum 3 hex attack the Nationalists can mount is 114 made up of 7-6 inf XX, 8 X 6-6 inf XX, 3 X 3-2-6 infs, 3-2-8 lt tk,  5 X 2-6 infs, 3 X 4-6 arts, 3-1-2 sge art (doubled), 2X 2-6 arts for 99 attack factors plus 2 point NGS and every aircraft factors 13  just gets to the 114 necessary. An amazing co-incidence!.  .   This provides for a 6:1 attack to avoid the risk of an AS and the waste of ASPs this would result in.  However this would require pulling the vast majority of front line divisions out of the field, coordinating and moving vast numbers of troops and resources away and stalling the main drive to Valencia and Barcelona so another way needs to be found.

The other factor to consider  is that the elimination of the supporting stack first will allow the republic to rebuild the 0-1-6 artillery so the eventual attack on  Gijon will be against 20 defence factors. (The Republic will not move it before because it is supporting the stack on unsupported divisions and brigades.

Engineers can be employed to reduce the odds by one level and this will help but will still require a vast effort but means as well that the NGS and any air will have a higher proportional impact due to the lower force levels.

On the other hand an attack on the supporting stack first can be made with second line divisions and some supporting artillery which can be shuffled from front to front in one move and at a low Rail capacity impact. When eliminated this will allow an additional hex of attack frontage which will reduce by 20% the average stack size for the same ratio of attack.

The next question is the engineer use.  The engineer corps is only just recovered from the  San Sebastian losses and this in itself has delayed the attack. It would be counterproductive to lose them in the supporting attack and therefore they are to be reserved for the attack on Gijon.

Therefore the plan is. Attack the supporting stack without engineers and using the fewest number of front line divisions necessary to accomplish the task. Then employ engineers and a 4 hex frontage to attack Gijon.

Incidentally throughout these 2 attacks all the Italian and Mixed units are to be employed to minimise the use of ASPs which are to be reserved for the attacks on the main front.

Air Activity. Large Strategic air raid designed to knock out the Republic’s Factory at Murcia is initiated.

SM.79-1, SM.81, HE 111B, Mxd 2B3, SM.79-1 (CTV) Escorted by CR.32 and CR.32bis(CTV) are intercepted by I-152, 2X I-16/t5.  One I-16/t5 Bypasses and attacks the Mxd 2B3 while the I-152 and the other I-16/t5 engage the fighter escorts. The CR.32buis (CTV) and Mxd 2B3 are Aborted for no loss to the Republican fighters. The remaining bombers avoid heavy (4 factors) AA fire completely unnerved and score 3 hits on the Murcia Factory.

Republican Fighters on Naval  patrol SB-2, R-Z, GE 23 make contact with the submarine group blockading Almeria (4317) and score a Hit sinking SS-1!! (R+4VPs)

Attack 1: 3807 clear. (N of Yecia) Supplied7-6 inf XX 13, 6-6 inf XXs 3, 102, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 3LE, Transported 4-6 art 3RG , Unsupplied 1-5 mech 1, 1-2-6 art and 1-2-8 art 50, Supplied 4-8 cav 1 , 4-6 inf XXs 15, 107, 3-2-8 lt tk #n, 2-1-8 cav iE (Col), 2-6 inf 2Mel (Col) Attack 4-6 inf XX34, 1-8 Bike 1, 1-2-5 inf TL (An), 1-5 inf RN (An) @ 6:1 (-2) = DH  Lose 1 Bike, RN (An) , TL (An)  Retreat 54 XX..; Advance 15, 102, 107 XXs, 42, 50 art (1 ASP eliminated)

Attack 2: 3809 rough (Hellin)  Unsupplied 1-6 inf 20, Supplied 3-2-6 2LE, 5-6 inf XXs 54, 105, 6-8 lt inf XX 2-1-8 cav (Col) 150 and 6-6 inf XX52, 5-6 inf XXs 81, 84, 2-3-6 art 62, 2-1-8 art O, 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 2-6 inf 6Xau (Col) with Do17E, He 111E (KL), 1A2 mxd, R0 37 GA Attack 5-6 inf XX 11ch, 2-3-5* inf XX 71 @ 6:1 (-3) = DR. Advance  54, 84, 105 XXs

Attack 3: 4214 rough (W of Lorca)  Unsupplied4-6 inf XX 117, 3-4-5* inf XX 40, 3-5 inf XX 73, 1-6 infs 5, 35, 1-6 inf 5MR, 1-2-6 art 43 Attack 1-2-5 inf Jou (An) @ 7:1 (-3) =  DE. Advance All except XX40.

Attack4; 1106 rough cliffs/fort (Adjacent Gijon)  Supplied 5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 4-6 inf XXs FA, FF (Mxd), 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 1-8 mg Ard (CTV) and 4-6 mxd inf XX FN, 2-8 mtns Pir, guard, 2-1-8 art E, 4-6 art 1RG, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal) unsupplied 4-6 inf XX60, 5-6 inf XX 71 and 1-6 mg s, Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 1, 108, 152, 2-6 eng AM, 2-6 art 1P, 1-2-6 art 48, 1-6 inf 22 attack 2-4 infs 1,2,36, 1-6 inf 2Exp, 1-6 eng 1, 1-2-4 inf 1, 1-6 art AD (All Ast)  @ 6:1 (-3) =  DR. All eliminated as no retreat path. Advance inf XX LA (CTV),  XXs FA, FF (Mxd),  sge art Man (CTV), art Ter (CTV), mg Ard (CTV)

(N.B Rules infringement as one stack over stacked in a mountain hex but other troops were available and the attack could have been made with a non div and NGS for same result – so the result has been allowed to stand)

Attack 5; 3134 (clear) SE of Zaragoza) A surprise attack on a quiet front. The Nationalists have been stocking reserves in Zaragoza and over stacking the defence for such a move. It is hoped that a DE or EX will put additional strain on the Republics defenders and thin the line so it is ripe for the Asturian attack force to return in the clear weather and finish off the Republic once and for all.

Supplied 2-6 infs 3Ceu, 9Arc, unsupplied 4-5-5 inf XX 50, 1-6 inf 18, 1-6 art 11L, 1-6 inf I-S (Col), 1-6 bdr 8Car and Supplied  6-6 inf XXs 4, 63, 5-6 XX inf 51, 2-6 infs 10BT,m 5Ah (Col) and 6-6 inf XX 5, 5-6 inf XXs 61, 62, 2-6 infs 7Lam, Tdi attack 3-4-5* XX 27CM, 2-6 eng ZM, 1-2-6 sec8GA, 2-6 inf 211C, 1-2-6 art 4 @ 4:1 (-1) = DR.  Advance XXs 50, 51, inf Lam, Tdi, 3Ceu (Cols).

A large effort for little gain and the element of surprise is lost, however it does increase the attack frontage south.

The Nationalists grind on

The Nationalists grind on

Nationalist Turn

Weather; Unchanged . D=W. E=M, A= R, M= C
Pacification: Albacete
Airfield (3 cap) constructed at 3510 (N of Albacete)
Supply:. Forward pursuers in the Penebetica out of supply as are some Nationalist in North Aragon valley.  The Republicans on the Madrid/Valencia rail line are back in supply
Movement: 1 Res pt spent to Temporarily increase Rail Cap to 24 REs
Replacements ; 2 SRPs recovered 2 divisions plus arriving 117 XX equipped. ME 109D replaced., CR.32 repaired
Long delayed Cav 2 XX is formed. (The OB calls for the 6,7, 9 Cav regiments but the 7th stayed loyal in Seville so I have assumed this formation would take place with what was available and substituted the 3rd for the 7th)

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (R+5 VPs). None Surrender( R+10 VPs)

French border; Closed
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply:  Almeria defenders  U3 isolated.
Factory Production: Despite heavy damage the Murcia factory only looses 1ASP from its production quota.
Replacements;  1 SRP (An) , 2 SRPs (Ast) recovered. 2x 1-2-6 art replaced and form AIAP.
2X Aborted I-15/t25s regrouped and one received the other replaced. With ARPs.

Air Activity:  Naval  patrol SB-2, R-Z, GE 23.

Sortie 1: sb-2 escorted by I-16/t5 fly to 3516 (E of Guadix)  He 51 Bypasses the screen but is shot down by the SB-2 (eliminated). The Sb-2 then successfully hits the airfield Aborting the 1A2 Mxd on the ground.

Moves. The Republicans decide to evacuate some more hexes to shorten the line.

JAN II 1939

Narrative

Republican Plans for 1939: The Republic realise that the loss of manpower cannot be sustained. Therefore the days of large counter offensives are over and should not be repeated even if opportunity arises because troops need to be preserved. However they do intend to assemble some local counter attack reserves consisting of larger 5 and 6 strength Divisions plus assembled artillery brigades. The intention is to have these as a “force in being” to dissuade any deep penetrations and seal off any weak advances.

However the complete lack of manpower reserves in terms of IRPs means that each time a hex is eliminated they either thin the line or pull back to shorten the line and keep the same stack density. The latter they can do for a time but there will come a point at which there is no space left.  Hopefully with a combination of these tactics and favourable weather such as a long rainy season and the mud that results will alow them to survive long enough.

They realise that international opinion is changing as tales of brutality and fascist killings  circulate among the international observers and cling to the hope that perhaps a much reduced Republic will survive after a negotiated settlement.

Supply:  The Republic have secured the rail junction at 3907 so Anarchists are mainly back in supply.
Replacements:.  Cav, Eng rebuilt.   Mxd 1A2 Repaired, He 111E Replaced.

Attack 1: 3707 rough (NE of Yecia)  Supplied 1-8 mc B, 2-1-8 lt tk Bab, 1-8 mot art L (CTV), 2-1-8 AA 88 (KL), Transported 4-6 art 3RG, 3-3-8 lt tk N, unsupplied 2-1-8 lt tk 3, 1-5 mech 1 and Supplied 7-7XX 13, 3-2-6 ing 3LE Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 73 @ 8:1 (-3) = DE. Advance mc B, lt tk Bab, mot art L (CTV),  AA 88 (KL), Transported art 3RG,  lt tk N,  lt tk 3,  mech 1

Attack2: 3607 clear W of Albacete) Supplied 6-6 inf XX 102, 3-2-6 1LE, unsupplied 6-6 inf XX 52, 1-2-8 art 50, 2-1-8 cav 2O and (over river) 6-8 lt xx 150, 6-6 inf xx 3, 2-6* inf cadre2 11, 81, 3-2-6 inf 2LE, supplied 2-6 art 4P (transported), 2-1-8 art O  Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 29, 0-1-5 cons 2,8 @ 6:1 (-2) = DR. Eliminated no retreat path. Advance 102, 3  XX, 1LE, 4P, 50 arts, trans.

Attack 3: 4316 Rough (NE Almeria) Supplied 1-2-6 art 46, 3-5 inf XX 14, 1-6 inf 7, 1-6 inf 3ML (Col) 1-5 infs 19Jul, Conf (An) @ 6:1 (-3) = EX  Lose 7, 3ML (Col) Advance 14th XX

Exploitation: Mech elements and transported artillery evacuate the vulnerable hex 3807 and exploit over to the east Bank of the Juar river cutting  supplies to the Republican lines running north and threatening Valencia.

Air Activity: sortie 1; Massive air raid to try to eliminate Republican offensive capability. Unescorted

SM 79-1, SM.79-1 (CTV), He 111E (KL), Mxd B, SM.81, Ro.37 fly to Cartagena.  The Ro.37 is Intercepted by a  I-16/t5 while a I-152 takes on the SM.79-1 (CTV).  The SM.79-1 (CTV) is Returned. Fighters suffer no losses.  R0.37 and unengaged bombers  cause 1 hit aborting the SB-2 on the ground preparing for a Naval patrol target.

Sortie2:  He111B, Do 17E fly DAS to 3606.  Escorted by the CR.32bis (CTV). Intercepted by I-16/t10 who attempts to bypass the screen and is Returned by the CR.32bis (CTV)

Naval Activity: SS-2 (2 pts) circles Cartagena and takes up station at 4103.  SS1  (1 pt) on station just off the harbour at Aguilas are searched for by the Naval  Patrol but remain undetected.

The Republic holds the line but reserves are dwindling

The Republic holds the line but reserves are dwindling

Nationalists Turn

Weather; The temperature drops in the North heralding the onset of winter. Warmer weather n the South continues to turn everything to mud . At Sea the squalls diminish bring calm to the Mediterranean although the Atlantic forecast is Rough.  (D=W, E=M, M=C, A=R)

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (R+10 VPs). None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
French border; Open
Guerrillas; Hit the rail junction at Aranjuez
International Replacement city re0established @ Barcelona (3624)
Supply:  3 Hexes on the Valencia/Madrid rail line defence line are U1. Remote outposts at the north of the Penebetica are U3 on both sides of the line.
Replacements;  1.5 SRPs recovered. 1-6 eng 3. Replaced, SB-2 Repaired.

Air Activity: GE.23, R-Z, SB-2 are placed on Naval Patrol

Attacks: None: The Republican forces resist the temptation to make any low odds attack and go defensive on all fronts. 

JAN I 1939

Narrative

The points situation still looks bad for the Nationalists, no sooner have they eliminated  the Basques than the Catalans  start accumulating points, finishing off the Asturians if attempted will be replaced by the End of War VPs so they are still losing around 10-15 points a turn. True they are eliminating approximately 9-12 REs per turn of  Republicans but ¼ of these are recycled in SRPs and some are exchanges. To date this has not been a problem for the Nationalists who appear to have a bottomless pit of replacement factors are only accumulating specialists who cannot be replaced in the dead pile. However they themselves are now starting to run out of infantry replacement factors and may soon not be in a position to replace all losses . Still at this stage not a great concern as there are many divisions not in combat at any one time but it is vital because of the narrow frontages of attack that sufficient infantry points are reserved to replace any 6-6 Division that needs rebuilding.   The new offensive on the Albacete front offers a glimmer of hope but is dependent on the weather which may yet decide the fate of the Nationalist side.

Victory PointsNationalists Republicans
From Jul I 1938 230558
Territory 3417
Interventionist Losses 26
International losses 86
Air Losses00
Naval Losses00
Terror Bombing00
Gobernitos Non-Collapse0115
TOTALS Jan I 1939274702

Air Activity. Large unescorted air raid designed to knock out the Republic’s offensive air capability ends in failure as a  He 111E is eliminated and all bombs fall wide. 

Naval Activity. 3x NTs shuttle supplies from San Sebastian to  Santander. NT brings replacements from Spanish morocco to Seville.

Attack1: 3710 clear (SW Albacete)  Supplied 6-8 lt xx 15-0, 5-6 XXs 54, 105, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 2LE, 2-3-6 art 62, unsupplied 2-1-8 art O, 2-1-8 cav 1E (Col) and unsupplied 3-2-6 inf 3LE, 7-6 inf XX 13 Attack 5-6 inf XX11Ch, 3x pos AA  pts @ 6:1 (-2) = DR Advance 54, 105 XX, 62 art.

Attack 2: 3609 clear (Albacete) Supplied 6-6 inf XX 3, 4-6 inf XX 15, 2-6 art 4p , 1-6 inf 20, 2-1-8 cav 2O(Col),  unsupplied 3-4-5* inf XX 34, 3-5 inf XX 74, 4-6 inf XX 107 and 1-5 mech 1, supplied 2-6 inf cadres 11, 81, 2-1-8 lt tk 3,  and unsupplied 1-8 mb B (CTV) Attack 4-6 inf XX6, 0.5 pt Garrison @ 6:1 (-2) = DR Eliminated no retreat path     Advance  3, 15, 107 XXs, 4P art, 1O Cav (Col), 20.  Garrison dispersed.

Exploitation: Lead elements fall back and are reinforced by units moving south through the gap at 3708 so here and 3807 should be attack proof at any odds the Republic dares to make.

Nationalist Armour pulls back under pressure from Republican reserves

Nationalist Armour pulls back under pressure from Republican reserves

Nationalist Turn

Weather; The Rains return. D=M. E=M, A= S, M= R
The Nationalists luck runs out and the rains dampen the hopes of a permanent split of the Republican forces.
French Border : Open
Supply:. Forward pursuers in the Penebetica out of supply as are some Nationalist in North Aragon valley. The forward elements of the Albacete breakout are also U1 and the stack at 3907 (E of Yecia) Isolated
Replacements ; 2 SRPs recovered 2 divisions plus arriving 117 XX equipped. I 109D replaced., CR.32 repaired

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs). None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
French border; Open
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply;  Radicals(An)  in Murcia are reliant on Limited General  Supply  from Cartagena and Alicante as other ports are blockaded and the Nationalist and spearhead ZOCs 3907 (The Rail line to Barcelona) In total 12 REs can be supplied . The remainder become U2.
Reinforcements/Replacements;  I-16/t5 Repaired. , Newly arriving divisions are equipped on arrival.

Air Activity: GE.23, R-Z, SB-2 are placed on Naval Patrol

Attacks  None:

DEC II 1938

Narrative

A war shortening, if not war winning, breakout this turn by the Nationalists!

Whereas the Republic have defended in depth in the north the defences in the south have been slowly stripped to replaces losses at the front and the rear is unguarded.

The Nationalists spot a vulnerable 10 pt reverse corner hex and the weather clears briefly allowing an armour assisted attack. The Nationalist are lucky and score an EX allowing the breakthrough to take place. The Transported artillery and the invaluable Italian mot  Artillery unit provides an overrun opportunity which swings in behind Albacete pinning 6 top quality Republic divisions.  A second stack exploits to the wooded ridge to the West of Valencia preventing relief from the East while a lone unsupported Lt tk regiment reaches the outskirts of the capital at Alicante and causes panic and chaos in the government.

The breakout not only traps the bulk of the defenders on this front it also cuts the republican line in two with zocs from the republican line to the coast at Elchi. The Republican supply net is divided into two . Cartagena/Murcia/Lorca and Valencia/Barcelona/ Lerida/Tarragona and the rail net is split.  The Anarchists can only draw 6REs of supply from Barcelona via Cartagena.

The Republic will have a choice to make.

Do they attempt to seal the breach and deal with the breakout units later; perhaps with the help of a return of mud which will remove any AECD?;  or do they pull back to hold the line, again dealing with the breakout later; or do they pull as many units back to deal with the armour and form a screen defence.

Raising rail capacity despite the Valencia yards being damaged will give 9RE capacity which will allow 2 divisions and Artillery/regiments to move from the Zaragoza front but little can engage the stack just outside Yeica.

Under no option can the hex at 3708 be entered giving the Nationalists a free passage next turn to widen the breach.

Supply:  The clear weather allows much needed supplies to reach the high outposts of the Penebetica range (SW of Albacete)

Replacements: 2 SPR recovered.  Cav, Eng rebuilt.   Ro.37 Repaired.

Air Activity:

Sortie 1: Cr.32, CR.32bis (CTV),Do 17E, Ju 52g4e fly to bomb Albacete airfield. Intercepted by i-16/t5. Cr.32 and I-15/t Eliminate each other. (R + 2 VP, N +2 VP) Bombers get through and Hit the airfield.

Sortie 2: The rail marshalling yards at Valencia are hit, SM 79-1 (CTV) evades AA and scores a hit, damaging the yards and breaking the rail line.

Sortie 3 3404 (E of Valencia) sm79-1Breaks rail line.

Sortie 4:  A major dogfight over the airfield at 3232 (s of Zaragoza) results in the elimination of the ME 109D by the i-16/t10 and the Abort of an I-16/t5 by a CR.32bis a second CR.32Bis (CTV) is ineffective and unharmed. (R +2 VPs)

Other sorties. Against Yards, airbase and rail lines are uneventful and inflict no hits.

Naval Activity: 3x NTs shuttle supplies from San Sebastian to Bilbao the other returning to Spanish Morocco.

SS Naval groups take up blockading positions at Almeria and Aguilas.

Attack1: 3712 Mtn (Northern end of Penbetica Range). Unsupplied 5-6 inf Xs 84,105, 2-1-8 art ), 3-2-6 inf 1LE, 2-1-8 cav 1E (Col) and 5-6 inf XXs 53, 62, 4-6 art 2RG, 2-6 infs6Xau, 8Rif (Col) and 4-6 inf xx 17, 1-6 inf 17, 1-6 mg O Attack 1-2-5 inf TL (An) , 1-5 infs RIM, Aml (An) @ 7:1 (-2) = DH. Lose TL.

Attack 2: 3509 clear (E of Albacete)Supplied  3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 4-6 art 3RG, 7-7 inf XX 13, 5-6 XXs 11, 61, 1-8 mot art L (CTV), 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV), SM. 81 GS Attack 2-3-5* inf XX 51, 3-4-5* inf XX 16, 1-2-6 art 22, 1-6 inf 14 @ 3:1 (+1) = EX.  Reduce 11,61 XX to cadres. Advance all others.

Exploitation.:  Lt tk N with transported 3RG overruns 2-1-8 cav 4 in 3709 (destroying RP) and remains.

Lt tk Bab, mot art L (CTV), 2-10 AA 88 (KL) to 3907 (W of Yeica)

Lt tk 2 to 4107 (Suburbs of Alicante)

Lt Tk 1, Mech 3 reinforces cadres in 3509. Transported 3LE, mc B (CTV) reinforce v13th in 3608

For Whom the Bell Tolls - DEC II 1938

Parliament saved but Nationalist forces still at large

Nationalists Turn

Weather; The high pressure over the Mediterranean moves inland and skies clear in the south. Land; North (D) = Mud. South (E) = Clear .  Seas;  Med = clear. Atlantic = Storms

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs)
French border; Closed
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply; Nat stack adj French border in Pyrenees U4
Radicals in Albacete all U1 except 6REs supplied  via Cartagena.
Replacements; 2.5  PA recovered.  I-16/t5 Repaired.
International Replacement City : Re-designated as Barcelona.
Rail Net; Segment 1;  Barcelona/Valencia;  Capacity 6 REs, reduced by Rail yard hit to 5 REs augmented by 1 Res pt to temporary increase capacity to 7.5 REs
Segment2: Cartagena/Murcia; Capacity 2 Res.

Air Activity; Sortie 1:  SB-2, R-Z escorted by GE.23, I-16/t5 fly airfield bombing mission to 3916 (E of Guadix) Intercepted by HE 51 who attempts to bypass the screen . Evade to GE.23 but the I-16/t5 Returns it.(To Grenada).  AA fire just misses but Bombs fall wide.

Attack1: 4217 clear (N of Alicante (Capital)) Supplied 3-4-5* inf XX 18 and 1-2-5 TL (An) and 105 inf   RN,(An) and 1-5 inf Agul (An) attack 2-1-8 lt tk 2 @ 9:1 (-2) = DX.   No Advance.

DEC I 1938

Narrative – The Plans for 1939

The Nationalists develop their strategy for 1939. .

The obvious move would be to drive on Barcelona via the Zaragoza “bulge” but winter has set in the North and with it thick mud. The Republic have a well-crafted defence stacked to 12-14 Combat Factors each and most of the line is fortified with tank and infantry back up to prevent breakouts. The high defence factors and narrow fortified frontage would require the use of a vast quantity of scarce ASPs for little gain. Therefore an alternative use for the forces on this front has been devised.

The Asturias stronghold of Gijon and its adjacent hex with 19 and 15 points of DFs respectively, both fortified is such that it will need to be attacked at odds guaranteed to force a retreat. Because a 3-4 hex frontage can be made against this bastion this can be attached with second line 4 and 5 factor Divisions leaving the 6 factor units to attack the narrower frontages on the main front. (Typically 1 or 2 hexes wide) The weather here does not make too much difference because only 2 hexes are involved and -2 or -4 DRMs becomes effectively the same when retreats are all that is needed to force eliminations

So the Zaragoza bulge forces are to move North with all the non mech interventionist forces to eliminate this stronghold at the cheapest possible ASP cost.

However the Nationalists are not going to make the same mistake as in 1938 when they stripped the Albacete front bare. This allowed the Republic to mount a counter offensive which gained them 3 hexes of expansion and forced an unplanned diversion of forces from the main Zaragoza front. Instead they plan to maintain a strong defence including a number of front line divisions which can attack should the Republicans return the favour and strip  this “quiet” front and so present  opportunities.

As soon as the Asturias forces are eliminated the troops investing the city will return with all speed to re-initiate the attack on this front.  If all goes to schedule this will coincide with the spring sun and a final thrust for Barcelona and victory can begin.

The Nationalists second aim is to re-invigorate and re-enforce the Albacete front. This region has more open territory a wider frontage of attack and less favourable defensive terrain with no major rivers to cross. It offers breakout possibilities for the armour and the potential to isolate approximately half the Republican force from the ultimate objective, identified over a year ago which is Barcelona.  The taking of Barcelona  would force the collapse of Catalonia and taking all but one city hex ends the war. Indeed merely approaching the city in force could trigger a Catalonian collapse and victory.

The thrust at Albacete  will be in the direction of Valencia with pressure on the right flank against the Anarchists. Once split the southern crescent defined by Lorca, Murcia, Alicante can be contained with second and third line divisions predominantly without ASPs.  This force will continue pressing on targets of opportunity. If opportunity and force levels allow Alicante to be taken and the government relocated.  However he main thrust from a captured Valencia will be eastwards along the coast to Barcelona. If all goes to plan any such thrust will coincide with the return of the Victors of Asturias to press the Republic from two directions and initiate a swift end.

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Heavy rains continue across the land with heavy squalls making Naval operation impossible in the Atlantic (Storms), however a high pressure system over the Mediterranean brings calm seas to that area. (Zone c, D= Mud, Sea Atlantic= S, Med =C)

Supply: High outposts of both sides on the Penebetica range (circa 3913 SW of Albacete) become U2.
Replacements;  3 SRPs. Recovered .
Reinforcements: Arriving 3 XXs arrive equipped.
Factories: Bilbao back in production.

Air Activity: Sortie 1: 609 (Albacete) Mxd , Ro 37 escorted by Me109B/D intercepted by I-16/t5 whom bypassed screen and Aborts Ro 37, is Returned. Mission abandoned

Sortie 2:  4212: He 51, Mxd Successfully bomb Lora airfield

Sorties  3- 6.: Mxd B, SM.81, SM 79-1, SM 79-1 (CTV) all fly Strategic Bombing missions to the Factory @ Murcia. Derisory AA fire fails to hit . The Sm 79-1 scores a Hit.

Sortie 7: 3232 (Airfield S of Zaragoza)   Me 109D (KL) escorts Cr.32bis (CTV), cr32Bis on bombing mission.  Intercepted by I-16/t5, I-16/t10. CR.32Bis’s jettison bombs. The resulting dogfight is inconclusive.

Naval Operations: 4X NT Transports  the 0-1-5 cons and ASP  from Palma to Bilbao  and remain.

Attack 1; 2303 Mtn/fort. Massive mixed force of passing units mass to remove this thorn and obstacle to free movement  projecting into the Nationalist lines. All none Interventionalists are unsupplied. Attack 1-2-6* inf 22 @ 8:1 (-5) = -1 (eliminated – no retreat path.) Advance 3-4-5* inf XX 31st.

Attack 2:  3610 clear (N Albacete)  Supplied 2-1-8 lt tks Bab (CTV), 2, , 3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 art O, Unsupplied 3-5 inf XXs 34, 40, 5-6 inf XX 54 and 5-6 inf XX 62, 4-6 inf XX 15, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal), Supplied 7-6 inf XX 13 and Unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs 53, 84, 102, 1-6 art 13L Attack 2-3-5* inf XXs 63, 71, 1-2-6 sec3GA @ 5:1 (-2) = Ex Lose AGM (Fal), 34, 40 XX,. Advance  62, 84, 105 XXs.

For Whom the Bell Tolls - DEC I 1938

BREAKOUT! Panic in the Parliament

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs)
French border; Closed
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply; Nat stack adj French border in Pyrenees, Republicans at Almeria U3.
Replacements; 2 PA recovered.  2x 126 art replaced and form 3-6 art 1ManGE.23 Repaired.
Air Activity: SB-2, R-Z, GE.23 escorted by I-16/t5 flies airfield bombing to Airfield at 3414 (E of Valdepenas)  Me109B/B intercepts and successfully by passes the screen; engages Ge.23 which Aborts it for no loss. Bombs score a hit Aborting the 1A2 mxd on the ground.

Attacks: none.

NOV II 1938

Nationalists Turn

Weather; C=M, D=M, M=R, A=S  Heavy rains spread across all of Spain, Mede Rough with Atlantic Storms.
Supply: All are in supply except high outposts of both sides on the Penebetica range (circa 3913 SW of Albacete)
Replacements;  1 SRPs. Eng, cav Replaced.

Attack1:@ 3408 clear/fort. (SW Cuenca)  Supplied 4-6 art 2RG, unsupplied 4-6 inf XX 107, 3-5 inf XX 14, 73 and Supplied 4-6 art 3RG, Unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs17,81, 3-5 inf 21, 2-6 inf cadre 54 and 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 7-6 inf XX 13, 5-6 inf XX 62, 3-5 inf 34, 2-1-6 art O, supplied 3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV) and 3-5 inf XX 40 Attack 3-6* inf XXs 4, 7, 66, @ 4:1 (-3) = EX. Lose 14, 21, 73. Advance 11, 81. Fort , destroyed

Attack 2: 3611 rough/fort. ( E of Albacete) Unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 53, 64, 105, 1-6 inf 5, 1-6 inf 4MG (Col), 1-6 art 13L and 4-6 inf XX 112, 1-8 cav 3and 4-6 inf XX 15, 1-6 inf 20, , 2-6 infs 8Rif, 6Xau (Col) Attack 1-5 infs LV, Lar, 19Jul (An), 1-6 art 6L @ 4:1 (-4) = EX. Lose 20, 5, 3 cav, ANG (Col)Advance 84, 15 XXs Fort destroyed

For Whom the Bell Tolls: NOV II 1938

Albecete menaced

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs)
French border; Closed
Guerrillas;  Rail Hit at 3522 (Puente Ganil)
Supply;  Pursuers moving down the Aragon valley outrun supplies to U1 as does 4-6XX in 3005
Replacements; 2.5 SRPs, 0.5 (An) SRPs recovered.  I-15/t15 Repaired.

Air Activity: SB-2, R-Z fly to airfield @ 3414 (E of Valdepenas). Intercepted by ME 109B/D which is engaged by Escorting I-16/t5 and Returned. Bombers get through but miss target.

Attacks: None

NOV I 1938

Narrative

The adverse weather spreading across all of the Iberian Peninsula has reduced military activity to a minimum.. The Nationalists are massing a few attacks on the Albacete front at minimal odds and resource expenditure where the Republic line has been disrupted by earlier attacks but they need to conserve supplies for the spring . The republic for their part has settled now on a purely defensive strategy. They are getting alarmed at the recent destruction of divisions and complete lack of any manpower reserves but infiltrators and sympathisers are advising that the Nationalist policy of attrition is rapidly draining their reserves as well and that they may soon start to have replacement issues.

The Republic therefore are embarking on a strategy of shortening and fortifying the line where necessary to strengthening the defence. They are to amass supplies and assemble a few attack capable stacks placed to make localised counter attacks to plug any gaps the Nationalists may make but they do not plan any more large offensives.

International opinion is forming that the Republic will survive and without a clear victory the mood in diplomatic circles is that unless Franco and his fellow Fascists can prosecute the war to a conclusion within 6 to 12 months a negotiated settlement would have the backing of the international community.

To co-ordinate the Republic’s new position Negrin has not based himself at either Valencia or Barcelona but at his villa in Elda just outside Alicante protected by a bodyguard numbering some300 communists from XIV corps.  From here by fax and telephone he is issuing invigorating messages to the Republican troops on the front line.  However as realist he is making preparations for possible evacuation and exile. But for the moment he will fight on because he realises time is now on his side.

Air Activity:  Ineffective (See below for GS)

Attack1:  2733 clear Mud (NE Zaragoza) Supplied 1-8 mtns 4,5, Unsupplied 1-8 mtn 8, 6-8 lt XX 150, 3-4-5* inf3 XX 19, 33 and (over river)  Supplied 4-6 inf XX 85, Unsupplied 4-6 art 1RG, 2-5 inf AGM (FAL) and 1-8AA 72, Supplied (over river) 5-8 ;t XX LA (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 1-8 mb B (CTV), 4-6 inf XXs FM, FV (Mxd) and 6-6 inf XXs 1, 52, 102,  Supplied 2-1-8 art E, 3-2-6 inf 1LE, 2LE, 3LE 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV) attack 3-6* inf XX 68, 2-3-5* inf XXs50,52 @ 5:1 (-2) = HX Lose 1LE, ALM (Fal)  Advance 85 XX, 150 lt XX,2LE, 3LE, art E, art Man (CTV)

Attack2:  3307, rough  (SE Cuenca) Supplied 4-6 art 2HG, Unsupplied 3-5 inf XXs 14, 73, 4-6 inf XX 107 and Supplied 4-6 art 3RG, 2-6 inf cadre 54, 5-6 inf XX 81, unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 11, 4-5-5 inf XX 55 with GS He 111B  Attack 2-3-5* inf XXs16,42, 0-1-5 cons 1,2 @ 4:1 (-1) = DR. Advance 55,107 XXs

Attack 3: 3510 clear/fort (NW Albacete) Supplied 2-111-8 lt tk Bab (CTV), 3-2-6 lt tk N, 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 7-6 inf XX 13, 2-1-8 art O, , unsupplied 5-6 inf XX 62, 3-5 inf XX 40, and 5-6 inf XXs63, 84, 105, 1-6 art 13L, GS Mxd B, Do 17E attack 2-3-5*XXs 55,55 @ 5:11 (-1) = DE. Advance53, 64, 40 inf XXs, lt tks Bab (CTV), N, 2,. Fort destroyed

Mech Phase Transported Art O, lt tks 2, N Bab (CTV) move to3509

For Whom the Bell Tolls: NOV I 1938

Nationalists counter offensive heats up on the Albecete front

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Heavy rains in the North clear skies elsewhere and calm seas (Zone D= MUD)
Supply: All are in supply except 3005 (Republican line NW of the  Cordelera Iberica).
Railcap: 1Res Pt expended for 7.5 RE Temporary rail cap.
Replacements;  1.5 SRPs.      Me109B/D now in service
Pacification: Bibao, Guernica

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs) Euzkadi collapsed but VPs accrue for Catalan from this turn
French border; Closed
Guerrillas;  Rail Hit at 3212 (Alcazar de San Juan)
Supply;  All in supply.
Replacements; 3 PA recovered.  I-15/t15 Repaired.
Nationalist Harassment hits: 1 @ 3734, 3735, 3736   I-16/t5 intercepts escorted mission at 3734 attempt to bypass the screen of CR.32bis and is Aborted..

Air Activity: SB-2 inflicts Rail Hit @ 3011 (SW of Aranjuez)

Attacks: none

¡No pasarán!

Back from summer break, we added more turn reports to the ongoing game of FWtBT by Ken Newall, and some exiting developments come with them: Despite relentless atacks by the Nationalists, who continue to enjoy their lavish support in weapons and munitions by the fascist powers in Europe, the Republic refuses to concede defeat in 1938. Its desperate attempt to link up with the besieged Gubernitos of the North failed in Autumn in a series of spectacular battles around Zaragoza, but the defense tied up so much Nationalist ressources the beleaguered Basques hope to survive another winter.

To the full game reports.

OCT II 1938

Narrative

The Zaragoza offensive is almost spent. The Nationalist forces have barely any ASPs left and the Republican defence is strengthening. It was a close run thing and another Elim and breakout may have been sufficient for the Nationalists to keep up the momentum.  However as the Nationalists use up their last supplies this turn they brace for a Republican counter attack. Despite all the recent successes the Republic still do have sufficient reserves to launch localised attacks and have built up the supplies to do so.  In a final attempt to maintain the offensive and keep the initiative in addition to the main thrust SE, the Nationalists make a series of sporadic unsupplied, low odds attacks on targets of opportunity this turn.

Harassment from the air down the Aragon valley is continued and a number of Republics best divisions still remain out of position.  Perhaps the Nationalists should have held off the attack on Bilbao and used the 5 AS’s in the south but the judgment was made that the VPs drain needed

To be curtailed and the fall of Bilbao would free up troops for future operations. In addiition there is the need to put the industrial output to the Nationalist cause.

On balance while the offensive may have lasted an extral turn with more supplies I feel the fall of Bilbao is a suitable trade off.

Now the question is where to send the troops released?. Firstly to Asturas to capture Gijon for much the same reasons as Bilbao, secondly to Zaragoza against the  main line and hope to mass for some unsupplied attacks or thirdly to re-deploy to Albacete and pressure the Republic there to dissipate their defenders. Perhaps a breakthrough on that front may gain some ground. We will see.

Nationalists Turn

Weather; Clear across land and sea
Supply: All  Peoples Army units move back into supply other than the isolated pocket near Pamplona.
Replacements 1.5 SRPs, 0;5 SRPs (Col) recovered.  Mtn 1, Eng AM, Cav 2O (Col) rebuilt, 3, 13 th cadres rebuilt.
Pacification: San Sebastian, Zaragoza
Goberneto Collapse: Euzkadi:  Both remaining Bas XXs are eliminated.
Air Activity: Sortie 1: SM.81, SM.79-1, mxd B with CR 32bus, CR32.bis (CTV) escorts fly GS to support attack 4 (See below).

Attack 1: 2132 wooded rough (French border NE Pamplona) Unsupplied 4-8 cav XX, and 3-4-5* inf XX 12 and 3-4-5* inf XX 23  and 2-8 mtn Guard, 1-6 inf 20, 1-2-6 art 42 attack U2/Isolated 1-8 tk 6, 1-6 art 7L @ 7{1 (-2) = HX. Lose 20 inf. No Advance.

Attack 2  2533 clear (S of Pamplona) Unsupplied 4-6 inf 85, 3-4-5* inf 24,1-6 inf 33, 1-8 mtns 5,8. 1-5 cadre 50 and 3-4-5* infs 22,75, 1-8 mtn 4, 1-8 cav VMS (Fal), 1-2-6 art 48 Attack2-3-5* inf XX31, 1-2-6 art 10 (Cats) @ 2:1 = AR.

Attack3: 3207 clear/fort (Cuenca)  Unsupplied 4-5-5 inf XX 55, 4-6 inf XX 107 and 5-6 inf XX 81, 3-5 inf XXs 73, 14  and 5-6 inf XX 11, 3-5 inf XXs 21, 40, 1-8 cavs 3,6,9 attack 2-3-5* inf XX69, 1-2-6* inf @ 3:1 (-1)= EX. Lose 21 XX, 6,9 cavs. Advance 55, 81 XXs.. Fort destroyed Cuenca captured.  Loyalists wish they had put some Mech behind this attack.)

Attack 4:  3133 clear/Airfield (s of Zaragoza) Supplied 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 6-6inf XX 5, 2-6 art 4P, 2-3-6 art 62, 4-6 inf XX FA (Mxd)with 3 pts GS Attack 3-6* inf XXs@ 2:1 (+1) = DR. Advance 5XX, 2 lt tk, 62, 4P art. Airbase captured. ( no aircraft present).

Attack 5: 3032 clear (SE Zaragoza). Supplied 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 2LE, 3LE, 6-6inf XX 152, , 3-1-2 sg art Man (CTV), unsupplied 6-6 inf Xs 52, 108 and 6-6 inf XX 63, 5-6 inf XX61, 3-2-8 lt tk N, 1-8 mech S, 1-5 mech 1, 2-1-8 art E, supplied 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 2-1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV) Attack 1-8 tk 10, 2-6 infs 87, 152C, 1-6 inf 2, 1-2-6 sec 2GA, 2-6 inf 15AL (Int), 1-2-6 art 2 @ 3:1 (+1) = DH. Survivors have no retreat path and are eliminated. Advance 61, 63, 10 8XXs, lt tk N, Bab (CTV).

The Republic pulls back to original fortified lines on the Albecete front

OCT II 38: The Republic pulls back to original fortified lines on the Albecete front

Republican Turn

VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+5 VPs)
French border; Closed
Guerrillas; Ineffective
Supply;  All in supply.
Replacements; 3 PA , 0.5 (Int)SRPs recovered.  I-15/t10 Replaced.
Nationalist Harassment hits: 1 @ 2632, 2@2732.

Air Activity: Ineffective.

Despite their best efforts the  Republic just cannot mass sufficient density of troops to attack on the Zaragoza front, are in retreat to the north and purely defensive in front of  Albacete.

No Attacks

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