Albert Ramsbottom placed his pipe carefully down on the arm of his chair and rose to turn on the Utility radio sitting in pride of place in the window of the front parlour. At 12 pounds 3 shillings and 9 pence it was more than twice the weekly wage he earned down the local pit. He’d managed to save a little extra following his promotion to shift supervisor and as the first house in his street to obtain one of the coveted sets his parlour was filled with friends and neighbours. They had all come to listen to the popular wartime show It’s That Man Again (ITMA). A firm favourite of Albert, his wife Nancy and their four children, Peter, George, Elizabeth and the bairn.
He had just sat back down in his chair and was tapping out his pipe on the hearth when an announcement came on the radio.
“We are sorry to postpone your enjoyment of ITMA which will begin after this important announcement from the War Office.”
“Good news from the Eastern front. Today at 11.00 a.m. the Soviet War Ministry released the following communique”
“Fellow fighters against Nazi aggression. Our glorious armies under the leadership of Field Marshal Timoshenko have entered German soil. Already our troops have captured Memel and were welcomed by crowds of cheering citizens who are weary of Nazi tyranny. Our Armies have not rested but have pressed forward towards Königsberg only 60 miles to the West. It is now a matter of time before we will be celebrating victory in Berlin.”
Churchills War Bunker 6th May 1944
Deep in the basement of an innocuous office building in Charles Street, London are gathered the wartime advisers and leaders of the Western Allied power. So secret is the location that Londoners passing by in the streets above have no knowledge that there exists below a vast complex of war rooms, sleeping quarters, radio rooms and offices from which their Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and his military advisors wage war on a global scale. Constructed behind shutters with a revolutionary new American technique of pumped concrete the ceilings have been reinforced to withstand anything the Nazis can unleash including a direct hit on building above.
Mr Churchill stands and addresses the leaders and military men arrayed around the table. “I do not need to tell you gentlemen that the news from Eastern front fills me with mortal dread. We have endured, for a time, Mr Hitler and his allies presiding over their European conquests, but now the tide is turning against them as we prepare to land on the shores of Europe and reclaim those lands in the name of justice and freedom. So I tell you that I draw little comfort from the prospect that the Nazi jackboot will be replaced by the jackboot of Stalin and his Bolshevik minions. It is therefore imperative, gentlemen, that we return to Europe at the earliest possible moment to ensure that at the end of this terrible conflict we, in the West, control as much of that place as possible so that the will of free men may once again prevail across it. It is therefore my contention, no, my demand, that we bring forward our plans and launch our invasion as soon as possible. In no later than one month, Gentlemen, we must land.
Partisans = 2 Rail hits
Arctic Front: Two attacks are mounted; one along the coast road where a 3:1(-1) attack fails to dislodge the defenders in Lakelv and one driving south towards Kautokeino which forces a retreat and brings the Soviets to the outskirts of the city.
Leningrad Front: (6 attacks) An auto elimination deals with a stranded infantry cadre in the forests west of Riga, meanwhile, further south a Soviet Guards Tank Army crosses the border into Prussia and passes through the undefended city of Memel towards the Neiman river. It crashes into the infantry defenders forcing them out of their fortified river defence and crosses to the south side of the river seemingly without a pause in momentum. This move brings them within three hexes of Königsberg. Other attacks along the line north-west of Kaunas and south of the city results in retreats and eliminations although a half exchange cadres a Guards Cavalry xx. A third attack exchanges and breaches the German lines allowing an exploitation advance of 30 miles directly West.
A surrounded Minsk held by a single infantry garrison falls to a brute force attack without engineer support but not without drawing blood in the form of a half exchange. Advancing troos find a Ju 87D in the repair sheds.
Moscow Front: (3 attacks) In a dramatic and unexpected development an attack along the Bobruyusk to Borarowicze road carders a 5-7-6 infantry unit. The cardre is then overrun in exploitation by 2 Mech units and with non-divisional units either side of the breach the road West is clear. Only hesitation on the part of the Soviet commanders and aerial reconnaissance revealing a Panzer reserve in the area limits their advance.
Further south just North of Kiev the previous attack over the double River line is developed with an exchange cardreing a 5-7-6 infantry division. Soviet mechanised units push past the retreated cadre and exploit Northwest hooking behind the German lines.
An equally dramatic breakthrough occurs at Cherkassy where a direct assault is made against the 14-10 Panzer division holding the ring around the Soviet bridgehead south of the Dnieper. A 7:1(-4) attack results in a half exchange, cadering the Panzer division and a 15-12-8 Guards Tank Corps in the clash of steel. Not only does this attack widen the bridgehead to 3 hexes it allows second echelon forces to move over the bridge at Cherkassy and exploit South and West from the road junction. The Soviet objective of isolating Axis troops in the Dnieper bend is one step closer to being fulfilled.
Stalingrad Front: (5 attacks) 50 miles further East yet another bridgehead is established over the Dnieper which retreats the defenders and allows the attacking Soviets to cross the river and remove the fortified position.
Zaporozhe is directly assault in a 6 to 1(-1) attack. The DH result eliminates all the Rumanian defenders who have no carders and are surrounded by the attacking forces.
Further west advancing Soviet troops reach the German fortified line linking the road bridge at the neck of the Crimea with the Dnieper River. They make a snap attack against one of the forts unseating the German XX defender and taking the Fort. Because they are advancing out of supply the 13-8 mech supporting the attack pulls back in exploitation.
At the Crimea Causeway an automatic elimination removes the final blockage for forces in the Crimea from moving north and in exploitation the two Mech Corps bottled up in the peninsular join the main front. However their actions will be limited as the supply situation for the Soviet forces is still poor along the south coast and the majority of the Crimean forces are receiving sustenance from huge stockpiles of supplies dropped onto beaches by the Black Sea Fleet.
In a side action the Static ET defenders of Sevastopol are eliminated, and the battered remains of the fortress liberated. The only Axis forces now remaining on the peninsular are the two Rumanian divisions trapped on the sandbar who each turn dice for elimination through isolation.
Air Combat: The recently less mobile nature of the front has allowed the Soviet engineers to construct airfields close the front so their shorter range fighters and bombers can engage with the enemy. As a consequence, almost all Soviet Fighters and Assaults bombers are in range of the front and conduct a series of missions to support their ground bound comrades. Offensive intercepts of Axis DAS last player turn are supplemented by strong well escorted DAS missions of their own over the non-armoured bridgeheads as a hedge against Axis counter-attacks.
They also launch a number of Harassment missions in the North to slow the evacuation of troops in the potential pocket between the two Soviet advances either side of Minsk. Meanwhile a rail break disrupts communications to Konigsberg. The arrival of the first P47D in theatre challenges the supremacy of the Fokker Wolf 190s and a four strong interception by these previously unassailable Knights of the Air is turned back by a combined force of the P47D and Yak9s.
Diced Attacks = 15, Auto Eliminations = 1, Exploitation Overuns = 3
Soviets = 27,
Air = 2
Forts = 8,
German Isolated = 10, Un-isolated = 35, Pos AA = 5;
Rumanian = 8,
Eastern Isolated = 2, Un-isolated = 1.
Total Axis = 56