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Iraq Campaign Scenario: Final Thoughts

There is still a little more that might be said of Europa wargame use and value in reference to the special WW ME/“Iraq Campaign” Scenario demonstration done earlier in 2015 at the EA.

On the outbreak of the world war Iraq, under the rule of the pro-British Regent Amir Abdul Illah, broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. But in June 1940 Iraq did not take this step against Italy, when it declared war on the Western Allies. This may have been due to the influence of then Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali el Gailani, the future pro-Axis Iraqi coup leader. Per Playfair, after June 1940, “the Italian Legation in Baghdad became the center of Arab Nationalist and anti-British agitation. Axis prestige was greatly increased by the German victories in the West and by the arrival of the Italian Armistice commission in Syria, while that of Great Britain sank very low.” P. 177. The modest success the Italians had dealing with the Islamic elements in their Libyan and East African colonies, in particular with native ground unit recruitment in these two colonies, is perhaps overlooked in WWII analysis. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was another anti-Allied Arab leader in Iraq at the time that was successfully used by the Axis in 1941, who was exiled from Palestine and intrigued with the Germans, probably because of their mutual anti-British and anti-Jewish inclinations. On Mar. 31, 1941, on the eve of the Iraqi coup, the pro-Allied Iraqi Regent fled Baghdad, and from the British airfield at Habbaniya flew to Basra, where he settled on the British warship Cockchafer, in the harbor. Thus the Axis intervention into Iraq ought to be understood in its particular anti-British, anti-colonial, Versailles revisionist, and perhaps also anti-Jewish context, all done in a paradigm where since the spring of 1941 German military force seemed able to blow away the British Army. Another source says it was the news of the Rommel’s mobile heavy AA units tearing up the British armor at Mersa Brega that tipped the Iraqi coup clique into action.

A close look at the Allied Iraqi Coup Reaction Forces Conditional Reinforcements found in the WitD Allied OB shows the initial elements of the Ind 10th Inf XX arriving at Basra at anytime between the Jan II 41 and Jul I 41 turns, depending on the timing of the Iraqi coup by the dice roll results done per Rule 38J4-[Iraqi] Coup. The Ind 10th Inf XX had long been a reserve division based in India, and that is why it is so readily available for duty in the Near East in the entire first third of 1941. Playfair says that its first brigade had been originally intended to be shipped to Malaya on Apr. 10, but that the division was suddenly diverted by orders from London (not Wavell) when the news arrived of the pro-Axis coup. Thus it was the desire at London for firm military action aimed at the forced ouster of the anti-British Iraqi coup government (evidently by means of a march on Baghdad) that led to the Ind 10th Inf XXs landing at Basra, which was soon followed up by the landing of the second brigade, also from India. The Iraqi coup government protested the initial Ind inf units landing at Basra to the newly arrived British ambassador at Baghdad, but finally realizing no sincere British offers to negotiate, and upon learning about the landing of the second Ind inf X at Basra at the very end of April, elected for the armed demonstration against the RAF airfield at Habbaniya, precipitating outright the Iraq campaign.

Although per Rule 38J4 the Iraqi coup could occur as early as the Jan I 41 turn, the important 2-1-10* Mot Inf X Habbforce conversion occurs at the earliest on the Apr II 41 turn, in the case of the coup’s occurrence on the Mar II 41 turn, or earlier. In the first three months of 1941 there is a good chance of mud weather in the Iraq region slowing up the ground movement northwards towards Habbaniya and Baghdad of the Indian ground units disembarking at Basra. Also, Allied combat opportunities anywhere in Iraq would be unlikely during the long rainy season. Any Allied air units at the Habbaniya 3-cap permanent airfield would surely have to be supplied by air, probably by the Bombay T type air unit available in Egypt. But during the mud weather turns it would be unable to air transport 1 RE sized ground units from southern Iraq to the Habbaniya airfield hex. Although the problems of campaigning in the mud weather are not critical for the Allies, it does imply a longer campaign for them than one beginning in the spring, after the Apr I 41 turn; and the Hab mot inf X will not be available until the Apr II turn at the earliest.  In any event, the good news for the Allies is that in Scenarios in which the Balkans are not in play, such as the Middle East Campaign Scenario, the Axis cannot intervene into coup Iraq (per Optional Rule 38J6) until the Apr II 41 turn, at the earliest.

Per Optional Rule 38J6 the Optional Axis Near East Forces Conditional Reinforcements are essentially used only in an Axis intervention into an Iraq campaign precipitated by a pro-Axis Iraqi coup, but definitely with some provisions made for allowing their transit and/or extremely brief stay over in the French Levant, (only) for going to or from Iraq. This means absolutely no active/deliberate participation by the Iraq intervention Axis Conditional Reinforcements in the Levant Campaign after an Allied invasion in the Levant. Provision could be made for the case of a border cross-over of a desperate Ger 2-6 Inf III SV 288 on the run after participating in a shattered and defeated Iraqi intervention saga. Moreover, I’m currently thinking all German intervention in Iraq Conditional Reinforcements should also be allowed to enter Iran, but only in the context of their initial arrival in the Axis Near East Command through the stipulations found in Optional Rule 38J6.

Right now my current notion is that if either the Ju 52 T type or the He 111H4 B type LW air unit Conditional Reinforcements are either eliminated or aborted in an Axis intervention in Iraq campaign, then they should be required to be rebuilt for use in the Russian campaign, using Ger ARPs from the Med/NA Command, as soon as possible after an Axis Iraq intervention withdrawal. I currently do not include either the Axis Conditional Reinforcement Mxd A type or its conversion Me 110C HF type LW air unit in this category of required LW air unit rebuilds. Furthermore, I’m currently thinking that if the Ger 2-6 Inf III SV 288 is eliminated while isolated in the Near East (eg., in Iraq or Iran) then it cannot be rebuilt (off-map) and subsequently brought in as a Med/NA Command reinforcement on the Oct I 41 turn, per the WitD Axis OB. I realize that this is a real party killer for the Axis player in the Western Desert games, as the 2-10 Mot Inf III SV 288 is an important Afrika Korps unit in late ’41 and all of 1942, but this is what I’m thinking, right now. However, some provisions could be made for the rescue/recovery of its residual .5 special Ger inf RP (see Optional Rule 40B4) back to (essentially) the Mainland Europe off-map holding box. I realize that this “rescue of the expendables” may sound a little like silly Hollywood drama to some, but I think this concept of desperation and force risk is part of the hazards of the Axis intervention in Iraq concept in the summer of 1941.

The arrival in Iraq of the Ind 5th Inf XX, in Europa beginning on the Aug I 41 turn, historically comes not from a sea landing at the port of Basra, but rather overland east from Trans-Jordan along the same long desert road route going through Rutbah, Ramadi, and Habbaniya that the Br Motorized Inf X Habbforce used historically in May 1941. The Ind 5th Inf XX had voyaged from East Africa into the Mediterranean and evidently initially went through Palestine on its long overland march to Iraq. Like the proud Ind 4th Inf XX of Operation Compass and Kern fame, it is a fully supported inf XX in Europa. According to David Hughes’ Europa Magazine #69 article “The Indian Army in Europa,” this is because these two Ind inf XXs had been upgraded upon their arrival to the Middle East region. This “upgrading” evidently consisted of receiving modern weapons, including in particular anti-tank guns. On the other hand, other Ind inf XXs like the 10th, 6th, and 8th, all ultimately Near East garrison units, suffered from an “abysmal lack and modern weapons and equipment,” in particular the anti-tank gun; hence “this accounts for the lower rating given to units that appear in Iraq in 1941 and 1942.” Two more of the “abysmally” equipped Ind inf XXs are the 9th and 11th Inf XXs, stationed in Malaya in December 1941; with perhaps predictable results against the seasoned Japanese invaders the next month. The Inf 5th Inf XX is eventually withdrawn from the Near East in April 1943 to fight in Burma, I believe.

There is perhaps one further major Axis military option in both the Med/NA and NE Commands, in their contexts in at least the Middle East Campaign Scenarios, that can now be broached in possible future wargame design modifications of the existing WW rules, and this is the manipulation and application of the reduced Axis Southeast (SE) Command forces available in the context of Rule 38F2c-German Withdrawal from the Balkans. In conventional WW games, German withdrawal from the Balkans “automatically” occurs during the first Axis initial phase that both the Greek and Yugoslav governments have been evacuated or captured. In WW Scenarios where the Balkans are not in play; implicitly this would be on the May I 41 Axis turn (see Advanced Rule 12C1d). A quick reference example of this reduced SE Command [German Balkan Intervention, after withdrawal] force pool can be scrutinized by referring to the WW Assault on Crete Scenario Axis Order of Battle found in the WW OB booklet, on p. 21, although some small changes could be made. I suspect that this OB is in effect where the WW Optional Axis Near East Forces found on p. 27 comes from.

Delving deeper into the WW rules, we see that after the “automatic” German withdrawal from the Balkans per Rule 38F2 is done, the necessary second and final step in the total disengagement of the SE Command, historically certainly deliberately done because of Barbarossa requirements, is the “voluntary” cessation of German operations in the Balkans, per Rule 3E5. The Assault on Crete Axis OB is a neat preliminary reference German OB base for an array of possible alternative MTO scenarios devised for this admittedly quite limited and ominous time period. To be sure, and to console those perhaps alarmed EA readers who see what’s coming, in regular WW Scenario play this substantial Axis OB addition (eg., an enhanced Axis force projection based on the WW Assault of Crete Axis OB) is explicitly restricted per Rule 3E4 in its operational limits done in the vicinity of the Med/NA and NE Commands found on maps 18A & 20A, which on the WD and NE map groups are specifically the Dodecanese and the South Aegean Islands, and the Aegean Sea zone. However, assuming both German Balkan intervention and the conquest of Crete as the prerequisites, then with only some minor WW rules tweaking, this substantial enhanced Axis force projection, certainly admittedly deriving from the SE Command, perhaps for a short time could be directed to 1) the Western Desert on Jun I 41, as an “Available in Europe” reinforcement, along with the rest of the Balkan campaign LW returns arriving that turn, or 2) directed to an air assault on Cyprus on map 20A on the Jun I or Jun II turn from Axis bases on Crete and Rodi, and then 3) subsequently directed to some second large operation projected into the Vichy Levant and/or Palestine on 20A, and/or 4) in conjunction with the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert, directed into Egypt, on map 19A. Whew!

In concurrent WW Rules, the only patent restraints, other than the big one at Rule 3E4, are the -5 VP “each Axis initial phase on or after the Jul II 41 that the Axis has not ceased operations in the Balkans” (see the Balkan Victory Chart, p. 26 of the WW Scenarios & Appendices booklet) and the apparently arbitrary “ending” of the WW Balkan Campaign Scenario “upon the completion of the Aug II 41 game turn” (see Rule41C1-Balkan Campaign, in the WW Scenarios & Appendices booklet). Although the WW rules appear vague, presumably by the Aug II 41 Axis turn the Axis player does need to voluntarily cease operations on maps 18A, 19A, and 20A (or beyond to 21A, 22A, and 32) using forces derived from SE Command’s Assault on Crete Axis OB, by implementing the stipulations found in Rule 3E5b-Voluntary Cessation of Operations in the Balkans/[eastern Mediterranean?]. The Aug II 41 Axis game turn might also be a good date for the required withdrawal of at least the Ju 52 T type and the He 111H4 B type LW air units in the Axis intervention in Iraq Conditional Reinforcements, due to Barbarossa considerations.

But of course these extended operations in the Axis Med/NA and NE Commands beyond the Jun II 41 Barbarossa start date, going on up to the Aug II 41 Axis turn, using the reduced SE Command Axis OB derived from the Assault on Crete, surely have their impact on the Russian campaign.  I still haven’t decided, myself; but the potential outline is already visible in the existing WW material, I think.

Aug II 41 Allied Turn

  • This turn the Allied player invades Iran. Rule 38I3-Allied Invasion says “for game purposes, the Allied player is required to invade Iran. He may not invade (enter) Iran before Aug I 41 [eg., the historical Europa date, I believe]. … The Soviet Union invades Iran simultaneously with the Allied invasion. … [T]he effects of the Soviet invasion are [1] all Iranian units north of the D weather line are removed from play, [and 2], of the Iranian units that start in Tehran, only one Iranian unit may move from Tehran (the rest have to stay and guard the capital).”

Set-up of the Iranian Army as of this Europa date, per WitD Neutral Nations OB:

Capital: Tehran (32:1512).

Rail Capacity: Iranian rail net: 8 REs. Note: The Iranian rail net has not been renovated.

No intrinsic AA.

Iranian Army:

Tabriz (32:0229) [partial city hex; north of D weather line]:

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 3

Rizaieh (21A:2902) [reference city; north of D weather line]:

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 4

Resht (32:0718) [dot city; north of D weather line]:

1 x 0-1-6 Inf X Resht

Gurgan (32:0701) [point city; north of D weather line]:

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 11 [Conversion Jun I 40]

Senna (32:1627) [point city; north of D weather line]:

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 5

Tehran (32:1512) [partial city hex]:

Iran capital marker

1 x pos hv AA AA=1

2 x 1-2-6 Inf XX 1,2

1 x Art III 1

1x 1-8 Lt Arm X 1 [Regular reinforcement Jun I 40]

  • This will be the “one Iranian unit [that] may move from Tehran.”

Kermanshah (32:2127) [reference city]:

1 x -6* Inf XX 12 [Conversion Jun I 40]

Ahwaz (22A:3810) [reference city]:

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 6

1 x Mxd 2F2 1/8 [“Any airbase in Iran”]

Meshed (off-map):

1 x 1-7* Mtn II 7

Isfahan (off-map):

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 13 [Conversion Jun I 41]

Shiraz (off-map):

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 8

Kerman (off-map):

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 10 [Conversion Jun I 40]

Zahidan (off-map):

1 x 1-6* Inf XX 9

Note: All off-map Iranian cities are found on the Iran Off-Map Holding Box printed on the WitD Neutrals Game Chart. All appear to be south of the D weather line.

Allied movement and end of movement phase/turn dispositions, NE map group:

In Syria/Iraq/Iran [all Allied units are in general supply this turn]:

In Syria [end of movement phase]:

21A:3924 [stony desert road hex]:

1 x 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 9

  • This Br c/m X began the turn at border hex 21A:4318, in Iraq. In its westwards movement it captures the Syrian point city Abu Kemal at border hex 21A:4319 and then Syrian reference city Deir ez Zoir at 21A:3922.

In the Central Iraq region and Iran [end of movement phase]:

Rutbah (21A:5023):

1-cap permanent airstrip

Habbaniya (22A:2828) [end of turn]:

3-cap permanent airfield

1 x 0-1-4 Static II 1 As (Col) [never moved]

Baghdad (22A:2825) [partial hex city; end of turn]:

one hit on airbase

1 x 0-1-4 Static II 2 As (Col) [never moved]

Khanaquin (21A:4501) [point city at the Iraq-Iran border; beginning of movement phase]:

1 x 6-8* Inf XX 10 (Ind) [breaks down to its supported Xs]

  • At the beginning of the movement phase this unit breaks down into its three supported Ind Ind X’s.
  • The Ind 2-8* Inf X 24 regular moves to point city/mtn road hex Karind (32:2130), in Iran.
  • The Ind 2-8* Inf X 25 regular moves to point city/mtn road hex Shahabad (32:2229), in Iran.
  • The Ind 1-8* Inf X 20 regular moves to mtn road hex 32:2131, in Iran.

In Southwest Iran [movement and end of movement phase dispositions]:

22A:3710 [clear terrain major rail hex, NE of Ahwaz, in Iran; end of movement phase].

1 x 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 252 (Ind) [regular moved from 22A:3514, in Iraq]

22A:3911 [clear terrain major railway hex, SW of Ahwaz]:

1 x 8* Inf XX HQ 8 (Ind) [regular moved from 22A:4212]

1 x 2-8 Inf X 18 (Ind) [regular moved from 22A:4212]

  • On the way to 22A:3911 this Ind inf X enters and captures Susangerd (22A:3812) for the Allies.

1 x 1-6 Inf II Z (Ind) [breakdown; moved from 22A:4212]

  • This Ind inf II is a breakdown of the Ind 2-8 Inf X 19, beginning the m. phase at 22A:4212.

22A:4212: [swamp border hex in Iran, NE of Basra; end of movement phase]:

1 x 8 Inf XX HQ 5 (Ind) [moved 1 hex to here from Basra]

22A:4112 [clear terrain border hex, in Iran; end of movement phase]:

1 x 2-8 Inf X 9 (Ind)

  • This Ind inf X began the turn at Basra. It moved two hexes eastwards along the swamp road, crossed the Shatt-al-Arab major river hexside and entered into the Iranian reference city/minor port road hex of Abadan (22A:4410); then it veered north on the road and entered the point city/standard port of Korramshahr (22A:4311), where the major railway line begins, and ended its move at clear terrain hex 22A:4112.

22A:4011 [clear terrain major railway hex; end of movement phase]:

1 x 0-1-6 Inf II Z (Ind) [breakdown; moved from 22A:4212]

  • This Ind inf II is the other breakdown unit of the Inf 2-8 Inf X 19, beginning the movement phase at 22A:4212.

22A:4211 [clear terrain major railway hex; end of movement phase]:

one step of attack supply [spent 10 SMPs moving here from Basra]

Basra (22A:4313) [dot city/major port]:

Allied standard Supply Terminal marker

1 x 1-8 Inf X 17 (Ind) [railed here from 21A:4303]

four steps of attack supply

1 x Audax 1A1 1/8 [operative]

1 x P 40C 5F5 1/13 [operative]

In the WW Allied Near East Command Replacement Pool

1 x 2-8 Inf X 21 (Ind)

  • This unit was eliminated in the battle for Baghdad on the Jul II 41 Allied turn.

Iranian air activity at the end of the movement phase:

  • At the end of the movement phase the Iranian Mxd 2F2 1/8 air unit at Ahwaz (22A:3810) flies the CAP air mission over the Ahwaz hex.

Allied force activity in the Combat Phase:

  1. The phasing Allied player flies the Audax A type air unit based at Basra on the GS air mission to the Ahwaz reference city hex 22A:3810. It is escorted by the SAAF P 40C 5F5 type air unit also based at Basra. When the Allied combined air ops reach their target hex the Iranian Mxd 2F2 type air unit flying the CAP mission over the Ahwaz hex refuses to intercept.
  2. The Iranian 1-6* Inf XX 6 is defending the Ahwaz hex (22A:3810). From adjacent hex 22A:3710, to the NE, the Ind 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 252 attacks. On the opposite side of Ahwaz the Allied stack at hex 22A:3911, SW of Ahwaz, is also attacking. This would be the Ind 8* Inf XX HQ 8, the Ind 2-8 Inf X 18, and the Ind 1-6 Inf II breakdown Z. The Audax 1A1 1/8 air unit adds its 1 tac factor for GS. The step of attack supply at 22A:4211 gives attack supply to all attacking Allied ground units. All attack factors plus the GS add up to a total of 6. The Ind lt arm X’s AECA gives the attack a +1 DRM. The attack is a 6 to 1 +1. The die roll is 2, modified to a 3: DH, good enough for a DE in our case. The Iranian 1-6* Inf XX 6 is removed from the map and placed in the Iranian Replacement  Pool.
  3. The Ind 8* Inf XX HQ, the 2-8 Inf X 18, and the 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 252 all advance after combat into the Ahwaz hex. The Ind 1-6 Inf II Z breakdown remains in hex 22A:3911, to the SW of Ahwaz, after combat.
  4. After combat the Audax A type and the SAAF P 40C F type air units return to the dot city airbase of Basra and land inoperative. The Iranian Mxd F type air unit remains over the Ahwaz hex on the CAP mission.
  5. At the end of the combat phase the step of attack supply at 22A:4211 is removed from the map.

Exploitation phase [end of turn]:

In Syria [end of exploitation]:

21A:4431 [stony desert road hex]:

1 x 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 9 [began the e. phase at Syrian hex 21A:3924]

  • On its way westwards in the exploitation phase, this unit captures Palmyre (21A:4129) for the Allies.

In Southwestern Iran [end of exploitation]:

Haft Kel (22A:3807) [point city rough terrain hex]:

1 x 2-1-10* Lt Arm X 252 (Ind) [began the e. phase at Ahwaz (22A:3810)]

  • On its way to the Haft Kel point city hex this unit also captures in the exploitation phase the Iranian point cities of Bamhoromoz (22A:3907) and Masjid-i-Suliman (22A:3508).

Iranian air activity at the end of the exploitation phase:

  • At the end of the exploitation phase the Iranian Mxd F type air unit flying the CAP mission over the Ahwaz hex (22A:3810) rebases at the Dizful reference city airbase (22A:3311), a little to the north.

Commentary:

The Allies have captured 9 Iranian cities by the end of the Aug II 41 Allied turn. This is important because in the next Axis initial phase when they roll on the Iranian Surrender Table they’ll get a +1 dice roll modifier “for each Allied-owned city in Iran (except Tehran) south of the ‘D” weather line.” It appears to me that in the upcoming Aug II 41 Axis initial phase the dice roll using the Iranian Surrender Table (found on WW Game Play Chart 8-Political Events) will result in an automatic “Surrenders.” With a subsequent “Iraq Campaign” Scenario game report appearing unnecessary, I may conclude the special cropped ME Campaign Scenario EA demonstration with a Final Analysis and/or some final thoughts on the WW ME Campaign Scenario.

From the main transportation line running from Korramshahr (22A:4311) to Ahwaz (22A:3810) the Indian soldiers of the 8th and 5th Ind Inf XXs see from across the desert and marsh the sun setting low on the special WW ME/“Iraq Campaign” Scenario. From their compass perspective the top hemisphere of the globe is currently immersed in the world war’s high tide. I imagine some say they saw the mirage of a city on fire. Where to next, in the cardboard world of Europa?

When was the last time you set up the Iranian Army units on the Europa Near East maps and the WitD Iran Off-Map Holding boxes? Do you even have the Iranian Army punched out from Europa Counter Sheet 87? Egad, what have I done here? Obviously I’m retired with time to kill!

MAY I 1941 – Axis player turn

Initial Phase

The Axis gain 3 VPs for owning Massaua.  The Axis are then forced to declare a German withdrawal from the Balkans, as the Greek gov’t has escaped into exile.  This is hardly critical, as the only allied items that remain on the mainland are a pair of fighters in Athenai, both of whom will presumably vacate the city prior to getting overrun in movement.  Thirty RE’s of non-c/m troops are retained for on map use.  Essentially these consist of all Gebirgsjager XX’s, the 7th Fallshirmjager, all the combat engineers, a few artillery III’s and a X, plus 3 of the 8-6 Inf XX’s.

In special ops planning, three plans are cancelled that had to do with landing in Creten areas, as these are no longer necessary.  One new plan is made.

In supply, all units in the Dodecannese are U-4, the various units on Crete are, for the most part, U-2 isolated or worse, but 8 GSPs delivered by air supply all but one of the RE’s on the island.  The campaign for Crete is all but over.  In East Africa, all units are U-4, a few units in the far west are isolated but not within 2 hexes of any allied unit.  In Nafasit, the Erit m Inf X was cutoff in exploit by the Allies, so it too is isolated.  It fails a surrender check and gives up the fight.

On the Allied side, the Greek static X, last Greek ground unit on the map, is U-1 and isolated, and will soon get overrun.  The 43rd RPC Cons X is U-1 but not isolated on Melos, and will soon find itself facing a naval invasion of the island.  With no GSPs shipped in, all the units in Tobruch that did not arrive last turn are U-3 red & isolated, and will face their first surrender rolls next Allied turn, if not destroyed by combat before then.  The 3 or 4 new units delivered last turn go U-1 isolated.  In East Africa, the two allied units in British Somalia are U-2 and U-3.

Despite a good political outlook for the Axis, the Iraqi’s still cannot quite get up the gumption to rebel against their British overlords (5 rolled, modified to 7 what with German troops in Egypt and the Greek gov’t having just gone into exile.  We’ll get a +4 mod next turn.  We’ll see how that plays out.)

A decent reinforcement turn for the Axis.  More a/s and replacement points arrive in Brindisi and other spots in Italy, though there is little to no need for them at this point.  More importantly, 2 Italian ARPs arrive, along with 3 German ones.  In Italian point is spent to bring back the bombed out Z.506 floatplanes at Scarpanto.  The 3 German ones are used to bring back 2 Ju87R’s (Scarpanto & Rodi), along with a Ju88A1 up in mainland Greece.  Still, there are still quite a few aborted Luftwaffe a/c (lucky airbase bombing rolls and flak rolls have taken their toll…)  In Sicily, 2 a/s, the 115th m Inf III, a half point of Italian infantry, and an Italian Ju87B show up for duty in North Africa.  Also arriving are 5 Italian and 3 German ARPs.  One Italian point brings back an Mc.200 at Benghazi, while the aborted SM.79-1 is brought back on Sicily at the cost of another, and then immediately converts to a torpedo carrying SM.79-2.  The North African damaged air pools are empty at this point.  In East Africa, ½ EAC point arrives at Massaua, and is used to return the Msw Inf III (a supported unit) back to duty thanks to the ½ point already in the city.  The ½ point in Dessie is used for a pos AA pt, which when combined with 1 pt already in that redoubt will result in an effective 1 pt AA defense.  We may get some sort of shot against the bombers that will eventually arrive.

GSPs are created at each Central Med island, plus all the rail hexes on the east edge of Map 14, though only the latter will get used this turn.  One of the new a/s points in Italy for the Balkans is converted to 3 res pts, one of which is then converted to 6 airbase repair points, which should get Crete and Melos (once seized) fully back up for air ops.

The evacuation of the Greek gov’t releases the Dodecannese garrison, though there is little need for them to do anything at this point.  I suppose this means the Mxd F and B can go elsewhere in the Balkans though… whoopee!

There are still a number of overstacked airbases, so a BR.20M on the mainland, 3 Ital fighters at Khania, two Italian F’s on Scarpanto, and 3 Ju52’s on Rodi go inop.  The Greek F at Erakion does the same.

After this, a series of CAP’s and counter CAP’s occurs.  In the first, 2 Me109E’s CAP Eraklion to prevent or at least dissuade that base from being used as a staging point for the Allied a/c in the Balkans from escaping (at the beginning of the turn, there are a Glad and Mxd F at Athenai, 2 Hurri1’s on Melos, and a Bombay transport and the Greek F (inop) at Eraklion.)  The Allied units cannot get back to Egypt directly from Athenai or Melos due to range… they must stage through Eraklion or Tobruch in some fashion.  The inop Greek F responds to the CAP over Eraklion by scrambling to Melos, for whatever good that will do it.  The remaining Allied units choose not to fly a mission at this point, so an MC.200 and 2 CR.42’s from rear bases in North Africa move up to CAP Tobruch (with an Me109E in intercept range of that fortess as well.)  After this, an Me110D and Me110C CAP Melos itself.  The Allies decide they’ve had enough of this, and send the Hurri’s on Melos to Tobruch for a CAP of their own (staging to the fortress and then flying the mission.)  They are interrupted by the Me110’s converting to patrol attack (where they can face the Hurri’s on an even keel).  The combat rolls are exceedingly poor however, with two one’s rolled, so both Me110’s gett aborted.  That’ll end up giving the Allies another VP down the road, but it was considered best to do as much as possible to hurt the RAF before it escapes back to Egypt, especially with Balkan a/c since they will be going away for good soon enough.  The Allies then fly the Mxd F at Athenai on a CAP to Tobruch as well.  The Axis give some consideration to picking off this a/c via intercept, but then decide there is still a good shot that we will storm the fortress directly, and if this is successful, all the Allied fighters on CAP will be digging holes in the desert soon enough.  Why risk the Axis a/c in the desert for K’s that will come on their own?

After all this air action, 5 bomber type craft on Scarpanto and Rodi are put on naval patrol, where they can hit the tight interdiction zone around Crete later in the turn for more VPs.

Movement Phase

Naval movement should kick things off, but there are yet more air ops that must come first.  A Ju87B from Khania, a Ju87R from Rodi, and an Me110D and Mc.200 out of Scarpanto all converge in a mass raid to kill off the Bombay at Eraklion before it escapes.  All four hit the airfield, but only one manages a hit (the Ju87R), sufficient to abort the Bombays and eliminate the Erak air capacity.  The Allies respond by sending their Glads on a multi-leg transfer from Athenai to Tobruch to Alexandria to Nicosia on Cyprus.  The Mc.200 on CAP over Tobruch and the Me109E just west of the fortress both intercept the Glads however.  The Me109’s line up first, but miss with a 9 rolled, while the Glads manage a 5 for a return.  The Mc.200 pilots take a shot, but do even worse with a 10 rolled for a miss, while the Glads get a 6 for a second return.  The Glads continue on to Cyprus, while the commanders of the two Axis fighter units are cashiered for a decided lack of aggression.

With no additional flak at Malta, it’s decided to go ahead and send the two Ca.133’s to bomb the island.  Flak misses both, and one gets a hit, returning the Malta status to 15.

Actual naval movement then begins, first with the 3 III’s of the 72nd Infantry XX boarding ANTPs in the Aegean and floating to Melos.  With the tight zone around Crete, the interference column is only a 12, so all three get by Allied naval forces unscathed.  All three then land on the island, and with excellent rolls none are disrupted despite the -1 mod to the disruption roll.  The 1 Mtn and 2 Inf RPs move from Brindisi to Valona without incident.

In Axis moves across the med, the 8th Pzr III uses on map NTPs to head for Derna.  The 115th m Inf III lands at Benghazi, along with one a/s point.  The other a/s point and the ½ Ital Inf RP are landed at Tripoli.  All the naval interference rolls are on the 12 column, and only the inf RP is contacted, and it gets by the Allies with a 4 rolled for an NE.  Finally, a pos AA pt that has been cooling its heels at Homs is moved towards Derna via the coastal route, though it can’t quite reach the port in movement due to the slowness of slipping in and out of the coastal hiding spots.

Before ground movement commences, the Axis air force in the Levant runs some ops.  The BR.20M flies a night time naval harassment mission against Port Said, getting missed by flak and hitting the port with a 5 rolled (+1 VPs to Axis).  One SM.79-1 flies an extended range RMY mission against Qena, on the rail line leading from Egypt to Sudan (given there are units attempting to use this route to get up to the Delta, we decide to make that process a bit more difficult.)  Needing a 6, the Italians roll one and put a hit on the RMY, and reduce next turn’s Allied rail cap by 1 to boot.  The other 3 SM.79-1’s in Levant attempt to do the same to the Asyut RMY, but all three miss.

On the ground in Greece there is mostly just clean-up action to take.  Nearly all hexes are Axis owned due to isolation effects, but there are some ports where this doesn’t apply.  Italian units on the west side of the mountains in northern Greece head south, gaining ownership and/or positioning themselves to do the same next turn.  On the east side, Italian Cons III’s admin into the temp airbases the German Eng III’s created north of the Sperkios.  The German III’s build up 2 of the temp fields to accommodate the a/c on them and then move to repair rail hits along the rail line to Athenai.  The most forward Axis unit, the Italian 1B motorcycle III slips into the Peloponnesus (where various German c/m units had been up until withdrawal) and takes control of Patrai.  This allows a railed and admin’d Italian Inf XX to garrison the place.  Axis rail CAP goes up to 34.5, while the Allied CAP drops to 1.  The 6th Gebirgsjager moves into Athenai, destroying the intrinsic AA, the allied standard supply terminal (+5 Axis VPs), dropping the Allied rail cap to 0, increasing the Axis CAP to 35.5, and finally increasing the Axis Aegean NTP total to 10 while decreasing the Allied one to 0.  GSPs at Pleven are railed forward, and then the 5th Gebirgsjager cartages them to Athenai, where a Ju52 stages in and flies them into Eraklion (later in the turn.)  The 5th then proceeds into the Peloponnesus, making for Gythion.  Lots of Italian units on the east side of the mountains rail or admin into the Athenai or Peloponnesus, mostly just for garrison purposes.  In the north, probably 60% of the Italian units close up shop and begin admining back to Albanian ports.  No impact in the game, but that’s what they’d do in a larger war.  Eight GSPs are railed off-map, then back on at Pleven, and thence to Plovdiv.  They are then SMP’d to Kavalla, where staged in Ju52’s fly them to Rethymnon one-way (later in the turn.)

On Crete, 3 Gebirgsjager III’s and the 125th Inf III overrun the Greek Rethymnon Static X, permanently eliminating the last independent Greek unit.  Future units will have to rely on their British masters… The 4th Gebirgsjager III on the island moves east to seize Eraklion and Hagios Nikolaos, putting all Crete ports into Axis hands.  After this, the Axis troops on the islands just spread out, garrison each of the major cities/ports, and await the end of the Greek adventure.  Four airbase repair points are used to completely rebuild Rethymnon and Eraklion’s airfields (allowing the GSP air transport missions listed above.)

A great debate then kicks off on how to approach North Africa and Tobruch.  At the cost of 2 a/s points, a 4:1 -1 can be launched against the now out of supplied (and for some units, U-3) stronghold.  This attack would have a 5 in 6 chance of eliminating 16 defense strength points (effectively at 9 due to supply issues at this point.)  These would include the very hard to replace Kiwi XX, plus 2.5 pts worth of Aussie units, and a few odds and sods.  Additionally, three Allied F’s on CAP over the city would be forced to crash land into the elim box, at a 6 ARP cost to replace them.  However, there is some risk in that there is a 1 in 6 chance of an EX, and a 1 in 6 for an HX.  Both would be at the printed strength, so either result would likely see the 21st Pzr XX cadred, and of course some number of Italian units either destroyed or cadred.  After the whole Axis command structure meets repeatedly to discuss the merits of attacking immediately, the North African CC eventually decides that there is little need at this point to risk any significant losses to the DAK and Italian Army in Africa.  It is decided this attack will be forgoed.  The major units in Tobruch will at least face one surrender check.  Therefore, forward units again move forward to temporarily gain ownership of terroritory near Matruh and points southwest of that city.  Lots of Italian units again screen the three hexes adjacent to Tobruch, while the recently arrived elements of the 15th Pzr admin forward from their arrival ports, albeit not far given how few mps are left after unloading.  More significantly, the 5th Army Cons III adds another point of temp cap to the airfield at 4618 and then shifts forward to complete construction of the Tobruch bypass at 4718.  The 10th Army Cons III moves into 4818 and completes the bypass in that hex.  This connects the Tobruch-Oasi di Giarabub to the Axis supply net, allowing Axis units as far into Egypt as 19:1020 to be in general supply.  However, ZOC costs will prevent the bypass from being completed any earlier than Jun I 41 unfortunately.  Attack supply points continue the slow trudge forward as well.

In East Africa, there is little to be done at this point.  Two units in southern Sudan move south, back towards Italian holdings, if only to get further from Allied units which will be looking to force surrender checks.  The two units in northern Kenya do much the same, albeit via northern moves.  The Asb Inf X, midway between Massaua and Dessie begins a slow trek toward the latter city.  Two units are still active in the Addis-Mendebo Mts-Oromos Highlands area.  Each X moves generally east further into areas with open lines of communication to Harar, while remaining in mountains.  Near Harar, 3 units converge on the city, hoping to shortly join the one unit defending the limited supply terminal.  The 3rd Coastal III continues to slog its slow way towards the war, though it is still in southern British Somaliland and months away from Harar.  Well to the south, a Lt Inf [X] actually takes the train from Bulo Burti to Villa Duca di Abruzzi, since the Allies never gained ownership of the rail line just north of Mogadiscio.  From this point, it can at least threaten to retake possession of the city, currently garrisioned by just the 2nd SEAC Cons X and the Mxd S transports.  More important are the moves around Massaua.  The two X’s still in the Rora and Cheren ranges move to put zoc’s on allied troops, though their survival past the current turn is unlikely in the extreme.  The strongest units on the Massaua side of the Allied line all retreat into the city, creating as the Duca Luna terms it, “The Nut.”  Unsupplied, the stack is 9.5 DS strong, with 3 flak pts and the CR.42 still on the field.  The defense consists of the 5-6 65GdS XX, 4x 2-6 Inf X’s, 3x 2-6 Art III’s, with 3 a/s in warehouses to supply the defense once the Allies are fully within striking range of the city.  As it is considered impossible for the Allies to get better than a 2:1 -1 against the city this coming turn, the Duca chose not to convert any of these points in our ini phase for defensive use next turn.  In fact, given printed combat strengths, any attack prior to Jun I 41 is considered to be doomed as the Italians would have the higher printed strength and therefore win an EX/HX result.  The Msw Inf III admins along the coast, joining up with an Italian TC at 10W:0405, while two X’s take up the defense of the port of Mersa Fatmah, joined there by the Nord Cons III.  They could all be assaulted easily enough, but doing so would likely delay the assault on Massaua by a turn, whenever that comes (it’s assumed this won’t occur until Jul II 41at the earliest at this point, given no assault should be possible on May II, and defensive a/s to GSP conversions should keep the allies stuck in a siege for 6 further weeks.)  Further south, two cons III’s continue to slowly damage the minor and marginal ports along the coast north of French Somaliland.

Combat Phase

One Ju87B flies GS to Melos from mainland Greece via staging through Athenai.  This pushes the odds against the defending 43rd RPC to 9:1 even, and a 2 is rolled for a DE.  This automatically eliminates the Greek F on the field as well, since it has no legal airfield to which it could escape even if it successfully did so (which also, prevented it from scrambling when the Ju87’s flew).  The Ju87B’s land on the newly seized island’s airfield.

Exploitation Phase

In the air, air units still on naval patrol around Crete launch short ranged missions against the Allies’ interdiction zone around Crete.  Four hits are garnered (3 by the Italian Ju87B/R and 1 by an He111H unit, at the cost of one of the just rebuilt German Ju87R’s aborted (again with the lucky flak rolls against German planes!)  +4 VPs are gained by the Axis.  Additionally, a Ju52 flies in GSPs to Melos, just because, returning to Athenai; while another Ju87B from Greece transfers to the island.  In the Balkans, the 4M Arm II crosses the narrow straits to seize control of the port on Leukas, while the 1B Motorcycle III seizes Kalamai.  This leaves only Gythion in ‘Allied hands.’  In North Africa, the 15th Pzr XX forms up west of Tobruch when the 8th Pzr III joins the 200th m Inf III already there.  The 115th m Inf exploits from outside Benghazi to a point 4 hexes northwest of Tobruch.  To the east, the 21st Pzr, Ariete and various smaller Italian c/m units form a defensive ring about 4 hexes in radius east and southeast of the Halfaya Pass.  In East Africa, the TC moves the Msw Inf III into Mersa Fatmah.  CR.42’s over Tobruch land at 4618 and 4122 temp fields.  The 3 Allied F’s all land at Tobruch’s field.

End of Turn

The Allies lose 1 VP for Axis access to the Levant.  VP totals stand at 85 for the Axis against negative 12.75 for the Allies.

Epilogue

The game went only a turn or two beyond this point. The Allies retreated back to El Alamein with limited forces and the position was unprepared. It quickly fell and the allies essentially stopped the game (no more file submissions in our JET game) with a stack of Allied units, one Ind XX and some non-divs all but surrounded outside of Alexandria. The front itself was wide open at that point… no reason to suspect that the Axis wouldn’t have overrun in whichever direction it chose to go. That had not yet been decided. This was the first WW game for anyone and the EA was still actively, so I have a feeling that I would have directed an advance both south towards the EA area and east to cross the canal and get the Turks in on the Axis side. The eastern drive would have been secondary though… we had allies in that direction, with the Levant not yet invaded and allowing Axis air and from memory I think the coup in Iraq had finally occurred

MAY I 1941 – Allied player turn

Initial Phase

Weather:  Weather rolls result in clear in all European zones, clear in the important East African zones (there is mud in the western portion of East Africa, plus must of Harar province and along a good portion of the Sudan-AOI border) and clear in all sea zones.

The first major item in the ini phase is the surrender of Greece, mandated by Greek demoralization and Axis units being within 5 hexes of the capital (to whit, they are right outside on three sides of Athenai.)  All Greek units on the mainland give up their arms, all on map resources (a/s, res pts, Inf RPs, SMPs) are lost, and all units in the various pools are removed from the game as well.  Only a single cut-off static brigade between Khania and Rethymnon and the Greek P.24F remain on Crete to represent the Greek flag.  The Allies then cancel their only currently active special operation.

In supply items, Tobruch is U-3 red/isolated, but the a/s point converted to GSPs last Allied turn keeps the fortress supplied for at least the current allied turn.  More supply will need to be shipped in during the movement phase or Tobruch will shortly be untenable.  The lone Greek unit on Crete is U-1/isolated, while two Allied X’s in British Somaliland are U-2/U-1, though not isolated.  Malta’s units are all U-4.  On the Axis side, all of the AOI is out of supply, while a few units are isolated in the far west, though not within 2 hexes of Allied units.  In the Dodecannese all Axis units are U-4, while on Crete, the Italian C Inf III is U-4, the Luftwaffe paratrooper III’s are U-2 and the recently airlanded infantry III and Gebirgsjagers are U-1.  Of the 9 RE’s on the island however, all but one at the western tip of the island (7/2 Para III) are supplied via 8 gsps airlanded last Axis turn.  All Axis units on the island are isolated however.  Following this, nearly all of mainland Greece reverts to Axis control, the only exception being various ports along the coast which don’t change hands merely due to out-of-supply/isolation effects.  In Yemen the TC surrenders with a 4 rolled, while on the Blue Nile in South Sudan, 2dC Lt Inf Bande [X] also quits the field, prior to completing the wrecking of the bridge at 15W:1305.

East African reinforcements consist of Indian, Colonial and South African RPs; the conversion of the 5th SA Inf X to it’s 2-8 status; the new 2 SEAC Cons X sent up from South African; two bomber units converting to A-22’s and 2 ARPs (1 immediately transferred to the Mid-east).  The Glad in Port Sudan is withdrawn, which apparently leaves this theater without any fighters, though the bomber strength is much improved.

In the Mid-East, the Hq of the 70th Inf XX arrives at Ismailia, a new P-40C unit from South African that is also brought in at Ismailia, 4 ARPs which are all immediately sent to the Balkans and a convoy w/ 2 Brit Inf RPs, ½ each of Kiwi’s and Aussies, 2 a/s, ½ Arm RP, the 2nd Aus lt flak II and a Hurri2 unit that is theoretically intended for Malta command, though it’s doubtful it will go there.  The East Med NTP pool is brought back up to 10 from 8, while the RN-1 TF is brought back up to full strength at 4.

In the Balkans, no more units will be sent to Greece, and the loss of VPs for the Kiwi XX at Tobruch ends.  A rag-tag group of fighters arrives to oversea the evacuation of the Greek government (contingency reinforcement of a 4F3 unit.)  Additionally, the 4 ARPs sent from Mid East Command are used to replace 3 of the aborted/eliminated a/c in the area, the Blen1 and Bombay at Melos, and the eliminated Glad at Athenai.  The Blen 1’s long-delayed conversion to Blen 4’s occurs.  After this 1 ARP remains to the Allies in the Mid-East, with another in East Africa.  (A South African Hurri1 is currently eliminated at Malta, a Blen 4 sits aborted still in the Balkans, while another Blen 4 is eliminated in the Mid-East.)

Oddly, the Allies choose to maintain the tight interdiction zone around Crete.  It seems unlikely that the Allied units in Athenai will go there, so perhaps they just want to encourage Axis bombing to put our a/c at risk of flak damage?

4 GSPs are generated at each of Aden, Athenai (the Brit standard supply terminal is still active), Alexandria and Suez.  In East Africa, the airfield being built 8 hexes north of Massaua at Mersa Taclal is completed, though there are now no fighters to occupy the place.

All a/c go operative (excepting two Ca.133’s that bombed the Malta status last Axis turn), but then a whole host of a/c go inop due to overstacking.  For the Allies, this is just the P.24F at Eraklion, overstacked w/ a Brit Hurri1.  For the Axis, things are a bit more hairy, as lots of a/c are operating in the South Aegean area.  On Scarpanto, 3 Italian a/c go inop; on Rodi, 4 Ju-52’s and the Italian Mxd B go inop; at Khania, 3 Italian F’s, an Me110C and an Me109E go inop; while at two temp bases north of the Spherkios a Ju87B and BR.20M go inop.

However, there are still plenty of a/c available for naval patrol, including:  4x SM.79-1’s and a BR.20M operating out of the Levant against the Canal; an He111H on Rodi; 2x Ju88A’s and an Me110D on Scarpanto; a Ju87R and Z.506B at Rethymnon; an Me110D and Ju87B at Khania (with an Me109E for escort/intercept vs airbase bombing); and three Ju87B’s, an SM.79-1 and a Z.1007B just north of the Spherkios at various airbases from Larissa to Volos to the river.  On Sicily, two Ju87B’s and the SM.79-2 torpedo bombers are available to keep the island isolated.

For the Allies, the Mxd F in Alexandria stages up to Melos and then flies CAP over the Piraeus port.

Movement Phase

As always, naval movement begins the operations.  The action starts in the Indian Ocean.  The ½ South African point is landed at Mombasa, the ½ Col point is sent to Aden, while one of the two a/s rec’d is sent to Port Sudan.  The 1 Ind RP and the other a/s are transferred to Mid-East control and sent towards the Canal.  The big Allied Convoy w/ all the other RPs, the a/s, the Aussie flak unit and the Hurri2 heads up for the canal and passes through on mass.  When this convoy reachs Ismailia, Italians in the Levant begin striking.  First, 2 SM.79-1’s out of Damas attempt contact at the port, (+3 calm, -3 distance, roll 6), and make contact.  The P.40C at Ismailia immediately seeks to intercept the Italian raiders, but combat is inconclusive and the bombers drive on (P.40C and SM.79-1 each roll 9’s for misses); the 2 pts of flak fail to impact the raiding a/c (two 8’s rolled), but Italian bomb sites are a hair off and both attempts to get hits fail (4,5 rolled).  At this point, the convoy splits with most continuing on towards Port Said and the Med, but the NTP with the Hurri2 attempting to offload at Ismailia itself.  Two SM.79’s out of Beyrouth attempt to contact the major portion of the convoy outside Port Said, but fail w/ a 2 rolled (+3 calm, -3 distance.)  However, the BR.20M out of Beyrouth does contact the offloading Hurri2 NTP at Ismailia (5 rolled, +3 calm, -3 distance); flak again fails (8), and the near misses of the SM-79’s are turned to hits with box cars (2 attacks on 1 column, 6’s rolled).  It’s worth two hits, but only 1 is possible.  The Hurri2’s are “sunk” in the canal and eliminated to the Mid-East pool!

Action then shifts to the Aegean (with 9 NTPs remaining unused… the two left as Aegean only are not terribly useful at this point, as it is clear the Allies are heading for the hills, as it were.)  A series of 7 naval missions are mounted with these NTPs as follows:

First, 24th Aus Inf X travels Athenai to Alexandria. Ju87B’s attempt intercept off Athenai’s coast, contact is successful (5 rolled), Glads in the city intercept, Ju87’s aborted in air to air, no result vs Glads (Glads 6, Ju87Bs 10.) 2nd Ju87B attempts to bomb at same location, contact successful (5), flak rolls a 4 and gets an R. An Me110D attempts contact off the eastern tip of Crete, contact successful (4), flak misses (10), 4 bombing attempts miss (4,1,4,3).  24th proceeds to Alexandria heralded by Cairo newspapers & the Royal Navy.

(This mission and all the ones below made best use of night movement, etc., but there are too many a/c flying from too many locations to avoid naval patrol entirely.)

Next, the 7th Aus Hq attempts travel Athenai to Alexandria.  Z1007B’s attempt
intercept at Athenai, contact is successful (3). Mxd F chooses not to intercept, flak misses (5), bombing gets 1 hit (3,6) & 7th Aus Hq goes to Balkan dead pool (Eastern med NTP pool to 9).

Thirdly, 25th Aus Inf X travels Athenai to Alexandria. SM.79-1 out of Larisa attempts contact at Athenai and fails (1). Ju88A’s out of Scarpanto attempt contact off Crete & makes contact (2).  Hurri1’s at Eraklion covering the area don’t intercept, Ju88A is driven off by flak (4 for R.)  He111H’s out of Rodi attempt contact at same location, make contact (6), flak misses (9), 2 bombing attempts miss (4,4). Finally, the Z.506 out of Rethymnon attempts contact at same location, makes contact (5), flak misses (12), 2 bombing attempts get 1 hit (6,3).  25th Aus Inf X to Balkan dead pool, Eastern Med pool to 8.

4 GSPs then travel Athenai to Malta. Ju87B out of Sicily attempts contact at Malta but
fails w/ 1 rolled. 2nd Ju87B attempts contact, succeeds (2), flak misses (5), 4 bombing attempts at +1 get 3 hits vs 1 NTP (6,5,5,4). NTP & 4 GSPs sink quickly. Eastern Med pool to 7.

Fifth, the 57th Lt AA II & 1 brit pos AA travel Athenai to Alexandria. Me110D attempts contact at 2008, rolls 2 and fails. Units continue unmolested.

The Allies then launch an airbase raid against Eraklion to clear out the Ju87R at that location (with the Z.506B floatplanes now inop there as well.)  A Hurri1 from Alexandria stages to Eraklion.  Then the Blen4 on Melos, the Hurri1 from Eraklion & and the Hurri1 staged to Erak all fly air base bombing missions vs Rethymnon (no dropping of bombs by the hardy Brits).  The Me109E from Khania intercepts and is randomly allocated to Blen4 (blast, why always the weak bomber when F’s not dropping bombs are in the majority!)  Air to air aborts the Blen 4 (7 by Me109E, 7 by Blen4). The inop Me110D on the Rethymnon field scrambles to Egouminitsa.  Hurri1’s bomb the airfield and get 2 hits (5,6) (The Allies do an extremely good job of bombing airfields, with something like 5 hits in 6 attempts… the Axis have I think 1 hit in 8 or 10 tries.  Ju87R & Z.506B to the aborted box.  Argh… there are something like 11 ARPs worth of German a/c in the aborted/elim pool, and with just 3 ARPs coming into the Balkans in our half of the turn, the Allies will be getting back some of their lost VPs due to Luftwaffe losses.  Rough campaign for the Axis in the air, but we’ve certainly made up for it on the ground.

Anyway, more naval movement then proceeds, with 1 A/S picked up by 3 NTPs at Kalamai and moved to Malta. The miserable excuse of an SM.79-2 unit rolls a 1 for no contact, allowing the possibly critical a/s point to land.  The commander of the torpedo unit is sent to the Italian equivalent of a gulag.

Lastly, the 26th Aus X moves Athenai to Alexandria. The Ju87B out of Volos attempts contact, & contact succeeds (6).  The Mxd F goes CAP to intercept; Mxd F rolls 7 (-1 mod to 6) for an R, Ju87B rolls 7 (mod to 8) for a miss.  The last Ju88A at Scarpanto attempts contact at 19A:0717 and fails w/ 1 rolled. The lucky 26th X makes Alexandria.  This last mission took a slightly different track, going around the west edge of Crete once the Ju87R at Rethymnon was out of the picture.

At the end of naval movement, all Allied NTPs are used up.  The 43 RPC Colonial Cons X is still stuck at Athenai, but the Bombay transports are still available.  However, they will need to choose between rescuing this unit, or trying to get some small numbers of GSPs into Tobruch, as the Allies have no more logistics resources to do both.  The Axis flies a CAP mission by a CR.42 over the fortress (to go with the Me109E already within intercept range) to prevent a transport mission with either GSPs or the Cons X heading there.  (Night landing would still be an option, but there are few other options for the 43rd… only Crete, Melos and Tobruch are within one-way Bombay range; and again, such a mission would ensure Tobruch goes without supplies in the upcoming Axis turn (resulting in a drop from 14 to 7 DS, albeit in an improved fortress.)

Meanwhile, upon reflecting at the Allied dead pool, there are currently 12 pts of dead Aussies in the various pools, with only 11 pts of Aus RPs to arrive over the remainder of the game.  I’d bet the Aussie nation isn’t too terribly pleased with Winston’s use of their boys (though it must be stated that there isn’t a single British Inf X left in the Mid-East or Balkans either, nor any Brit Armor.  The Allies have the Kiwi XX at Tobruch, along w/ the 7th Armor XX’s spt grp, the 1st MNBDO flak X, the 66th RPC Cons X and a small machinegun II.  In Egypt, the survivors of the Greek adventure consist of two X’s of Aussie’s, the 57th Lt Flak II and a point of pos AA.  They join the fully rebuilt 4th Indian XX, the Czech II, the Polish X, the Free French II, the 65th AT II and mid-East Marine Commando II in defending the entire Delta.  GHQ-MEF however maintains a stiff upper lip, as is their want.  Still, Kesselring’s Hq (remember our little Axis anachronism) in Italy is of the belief that Wavell wouldn’t mind tidying up the East African theater a bit quicker so that the units down south can head north to defend the Delta and Canal.

Ground movement then proceeds… The 43rd RPC Cons X repairs a single hit at Athenai, which will allow both fighters on the tarmac to go operable in the Axis ini phase (presumably to quickly fly out at first opportunity…)  It is then transported by the Bombay’s to Melos (perhaps to later put hits on the field to allow it’s destruction?  Or merely has a stop gap location?).  The Bombay’s then land at Eraklion, which will end up overstacked, though it’s unlikely the Allies will be able to make much use of the Greek fighters there.

In the Mideast, 4th Ind XX moves out of Alexandria and sets up a defensive position at El Alamein, albeit without a fort, and in a broken down set of X’s.  The Polish Karp X catches a train, offloads short of Matruh, and then runs around the port to gain temp ownership of its facilities again.  It’s joined by a TC which was also railed up.

In East Africa, along the coast north of Massaua, the broken down Aussie 6th XX screens the area.  17th X screens the airfield at Mersa Taclal, while the 21st and 19th X’s are in the south exit of the Nacfa valley, engaging the weak Italian line west and southwest of Cub Cub.  9th and 29th Ind X’s are just southeast of Cub Cub, also engaging the Italian defenders in the mountains.  In the Asmara Valley, 10th Ind X and a TC run up to just northeast of Asmara from Adua, but can’t quite reach what appears to be the main Allied target this turn.  The Orient FF X joins the 2nd MMG II at Cheren, while the 1st MMG II moves up the mountain roads and into the Asmara valley to Adi Ugri.  1st and 2nd South African X’s bypass Dessie and head up the mountain road for the Massaua front, though they won’t be able to engage in offensive operations for another two weeks.  Southwest of Dessie, the 5th South African and 24th Gold Coast X’s are also moving at best speed to the Massaua front (presumably), though they end the phase well short of Dessie (which by itself is causing at least some delay in shifting troops north as it blocks the only admin movement corridor (that doesn’t go well out of the way via Gondar and the broken bridges east of that city.)  Around the Addis area, 1st East African Recon II departs Gimma and reaches a point 30 miles southwest of Addis.  The EAC Cons X begins repairing some of the damaged bridges in the area, while the 1st Belg X admins from the Dessie area to a blocking position southwest of Addis just to ensure no Italian stragglers from the Oromos Highlands or Mendebo mountains approach from that direction.  In the Dalle area, 21st and 25th East African X’s engage two of the three Italian units nearby.  Up in the north, i.e, Southern Sudan, a few minor units putz about near to where Italian units are, merely attempting to stay within 2 hexes for eventual surrender rolls presumably.  Interestingly, the 68th Arty II and the 4th Royal Tank II catch trains and head towards the end of the rail at Wadi Halfa (near the 2nd Cataract, and presumably intending to catch the river transports at Faras for a trip up the Nile to Aswan where they can rail up to the Delta.  I guess the Allied naval transport capacity really is being taxed…)

In British Somalia and Aden, units just remain in place.

Combat Phase

No DAS.  No combat in the Balkan or Egyptian theaters.  In Galla & Sidamo province, the 21st and 25th East African X’s launch attacks against two Italian X’s (5dF Lt Inf and 18th Col Inf respectively).  Using GS out of Addis and some limited A/S, each is an 8:1 even attack that is guaranteed to be successful.  A 6 and 4 are rolled, both DE’s.  Up north, the 19th Aus X and the Orient FF X take on the 2nd Col Coastal III in the mountain pass just west of Cub Cub.  The attack goes in at 8:1 -2 (a/s, A-22 on GS), and with a 3 rolled is sufficient to generate a DH.  The Aus X advances into the pass.  In the battle to the immediate southern flank of this engagement, things don’t go quite so well for the Allies.  9th and 29th Indian X’s attack the Msw Inf III (supported naval troops called up for service), in the mountains at 2005.  The attack goes off a bit poorly, and with a 2 rolled generates an HX result (6:1 -2, a/s, mtns, A-22 on GS).  While the naval troops head for the dead pool, they take the 29th Ind with them (and as no Indian Inf RPs are available in East Africa, all having been sent to the Mideast, there they will stay for at least a turn…)  The Duca Luna draws his second blood price.

Exploitation Phase

MEF-GHQ surprises the Axis a bit in naval movements.  Rather than sending flak units still on board ships or new ones to Malta, they send the pos AA and 57th Lt flak II from Greece and the newly arrived Aus 2nd Hvy Flak II to Tobruch, along with the 26th Aus X just escaped from Greece.  This bumps the Tobruch defense up to 9 pts, plus 7 pts flak, once next turn’s out of supply conditions are taken into account.  One a/s and most all of the new replacement points are landed at Alexandria.  In a second surprise, albeit a minor one, one British Inf RP is shipped to Malta, along with a second a/s.  The Inf RP and the a/s are both contacted by light naval forces out of Sicily and while the Inf RP manages to slip away (6 rolled), the a/s is automatically sunk.  With the torpedo plane failure from earlier in the turn, there are now two a/s and the Brit Inf RP at Malta.  Not sure about the Inf RP, as there are no units in the Malta pool to be repaired, and the Aug 41 conversion of the Mchg II comes w/ RPs… perhaps it was decided to ship some stuff in while the naval patrol a/c were down, no guarantee of this in the future after all…

In the Mideast, the Karp X and its TC exploit back to Alamein, creating a 10 pt stack well away from any Axis units.  In East Africa, 4th Royal Tank II ignores the Falas river transports and goes overland via road towards Aswan.  Well south, 10th Ind X and 2nd South African w/ TC’s box in the Erit m Inf X at Nafasit w/ zoc’s to force a surrender check next turn.  The MMG II’s occupy the hexes just west of Nafasit.  1st South African continues towards Massaua, making Adi Caleh on the mountain road.  5th South African takes up a position just east of Dessie in the wooded rough at 10W:1615.  The 1st East African Recon II heads off towards the units near Harar, a bit odd given it’s unsupported and just a II.  Given we have no bombers in East Africa for GS however, it’s probably safe regardless.   At the end of the turn, the Italian Ju87B/R at Egouminitsa transfers to Scarpanto, while the CR.42 on Sicily transfers to Benghazi (leaving just one F on Sicily, the short range G.50.)

APR II 1941 – Axis player turn

Initial Phase

The 7/2 Para III at Khania goes undisrupted, bringing back full capabilities on Crete.  The Axis gains 3 VPs for owning Massaua.  One special operation is cancelled, while an additional 6 are planned.  In supply items, for the Axis all units in the Dodecannese are U-4, but those on Scarpanto use 2 GSPs to go into special supply.  On Crete, the Italian III is U-4 isolated, and the Para III’s are U-1 isolated.  Two available GSPs put the Italian and the 7/1 Para into supply.  In East Africa, all units are U-4, and many in the west are now isolated due to the loss of Gimma.  For the Allies, on Crete the allied units in the western tip are U-2 or U-1, though not isolated as the Axis units in Khania have no zoc’s (allowing a trace back to Rethymnon.)  Units defending Malta are U-4, while those in Tobruch go U-2 isolated.  The a/s converted to 12 GSPs in the fortress puts all units back into supply however, forcing the Axis to wait an additional turn before any attempt to clear the fortess can occur (currently 14 pts defending, w/ 5 pts AA.)  In East Africa, the units at Bulhar are U-1 or U-2.

In western AOI, 10-12 units are now isolated, but only 6 are within 2 hexes of allied units.  This requires 6 surrender rolls, but those go well and only 3 units surrender.  Sufficient numbers of Italians are still in the west that isolated Axis hexes do not yet convert to Allied control.

In politics, the Iraqi’s still cannot get up the nerve to revolt, rolling an 8 (+1 mod to 9).

In reinforcement & replacement activity, the Balkan CC decides to burn up the RPs on

hand.  (Technically, Italian losses do not count for Allied VPs, yet Italian RPs on hand do appear to do so (positively.)  This seems a bit cheesy, and would encourage the Italians to not replace units for a VP gain.  I burn them up because of this, meaning one inf XX, one cav III and one motorcycle III are rebuilt in Albania, though none will likely make it to the front before the war in the Balkans is over.)  In North Africa, 8th Pzr III and the 221st Art III show up for duty in Sicily, awaiting transport.  In East Africa, the last of the air mechanics is scrounged for one final inf RP.  Two of the 2.5 at Massaua are then used to rebuild the 4th& 5th Col X’s.  Four units are scrapped in the pool, generating .5 RP which is placed at Dessie for next turn, but meanwhile, the 1 pt there is used to replace the 7th Col X, max-stacking the mountain redoubt.

GSPs are placed at each island in the Central Med, at Sicily, and at all high volume lines along the east edge of the map in the Balkan area.  All garrisons are currently in place, and the Dire Daua one is released (technically last Allied exploit phase) due to the South Africans having moved with 6 hexes of the city.

Harassing units go inop (Ju87B/R at Egouminitsa, Me110D & Ju87B at Khania), and then an Me110C and CR.32bis go inop as well at Khania for overstacking.  The Greek P.24 is overstacked w/ a Hurri1 at Rethymnon, so it too goes inop.  At the end of the phase, the Glad at Melos flies a CAP over Khania.

Movement phase

The Allies actually open the phase by flying a transfer mission with the Well1C’s on Melos, retreating away to Alexandria in Egypt.  On the Axis side, movement begins with naval and air missions.  First, the Mxd F, Mxd B and a MC.200 staged in to Scarpanto bomb the Eraklion airfield with a Hurri1 on the tarmac.  Not wanting to scramble away or ‘waste’ an intercept against these weak air units, the Brits huddle in slit trenches and hope their birds don’t get destroyed on the ground.  Rolls of 1, 4, and 3 ensure the Hurri’s are ok.  The bombing units return to Rodi & Scarpanto.  Two Ca.133’s on Sicily then strat bomb Malta’s port.  Flak misses and bombing rolls of 1 and 5 result in a single hit, returning the Malta status to 15.

Naval movement begins then with 8th Pzr attempting to move from Syracusa to Derna.  Surprisingly, contact is made when snake-eyes are rolled, but the effects roll is a 3, so the Pzr’s are merely turned back and not sunk.  Shivers… more delays until the Tobruch assault can procede.  The 221st art III however makes it across without incident to Derna.  And then, 1 a/s is moved from Tripoli to Benghazi via the coastal road.  Finally, in a sneaky maneuver, a TC at Mersa Fatmah on the Red Sea coast says for the Yemini port of Hodeida.  Contact is easy given the 0 column (5 rolled, so close to the 4 which would have been no contact), but the effects chart roll is a 4 and the Red Sea NTP slips away from it’s pursuers and delivers the TC to Yemen.  (Axis units are allowed entry to Yemen, just as Allied units may enter Saudi Arabia…)

Ground movement must then kick off in Greece before additional air missions can be flown.  This mostly entails engineer and cons units repairing the 2 hits on the high volume rail line leading to Athenai, while other such units rail forward into the 15:0314 area where 1 pt temp airbases are built in this and two neighboring hexes.  Two mtn XX’s then breakdown into unsupported units and move to the 0214 airbase, joined by the independent 125th Inf III and joining a pair of eng III’s already in the hex.  Air mission #3 then kicks off with 6 Ju52’s staging into the field, flying transport ops w/ 4 Mtn III’s, the 125th infantry & the 511th Eng III.  A CR.42 and G.50bis stage to Khania and join a Me109E on escort.  The Glad on CAP and the Hurri1 based at Rethymnon intercept, and both attempt bypasses to get at the Axis troops attempting to land at the field.  The Me109E is randomly allocated against the Glad, so both Italian units attempt to drive of the Hurri’s.  The 109’s roll a 4 and splash the Glads, but the Italians don’t fare so well, rolling a pair of 7’s, so the Hurri’s get in amongst the transports.  They are randomly allocated against the Ju52 carrying the engineers (of course L), roll a 7 and abort the a/c, returning the engineers back to the mainland base by rule.  The Ju52’s roll 8 for a miss.  Escorts return to the now severely overstacked Khania airbase, with the surviving interceptors heading back to Rethymnon.

In the remaining ground movement in Greece, in the west Italian units move up to re-engage with the fleeing Greek Army.  To the south, 2nd Pzr XX, LSSAH, & 2 non-divs cross the Spherkios to 0414, engaging the mini-Greek Corps at 0413 from the flank.  5th Pzr XX and various other non-div c/m units engage the 0413 defenders from directly across the river.  Meanwhile Das Reich crosses the mountains via the Karpension road and seizes the northern part of the straits at Patrai.  9th Pzr, 5th Gebirgsjager, 11th Pzr, and the Italian Julia Alpini XX complete the screen of Greek troops attempting to make for the southeast.  In the central area of Greece, Italian and German Cons units, Italian Alpini, various flak III’s, German infantry, etc all flow south or to ports.  In northeast Greece more German units move to ports, while some head north back towards Rumania and the upcoming Russian compaign.  Bulgarian units seize Thrace, annexing the region.  A combination of rail movement (much of it off and back on map), cartaging and SMP usage sees four A/S moved to 0314, 16 GSPs moved to 0314 and various airbases just north, plus more 8 GSP shifted to Larisa.  Two res pts are moved to Thessalonike.  On Crete, the 2/7 Para III shifts west out of Khania, cutting off the Allied troops at the western tip.  The 1/7 Para III and the Italian ‘C’ Inf III shift southeast into the mountain hex, engaging the Erak Static X currently guarding Rethymnon (and bypassing the Rethy Static X on the road.)  The units air landed earlier wait for the combat phase.  One airbase repair point is used to repair the Khania airbase up to full 3 pt capacity.

In North Africa, more infantry and artillery move into the lines around Tobruch.  A large stack of c/m units is aggregated just west of Porto Bardiya, while some c/m arty III’s and Trento are a bit further ahead just over the Egyptian border.  Well in front, a few Italian c/m units regain control of Matruh and take ownership of a few hexes otherwise taken by Allies.  Axis control extends roughly from just east of Matruh to the Qattara Depression’s northwestern terminus.  The withdrawal of the German Pzr’s from the line around Tobruch necessitates pulling out of the 4918 hex however, with 4919 instead held more weakly with some Italian Arty and a pair of armored II’s.  One con unit moves to the coast and builds a 2 cap temp airbase at 4618, while the other shifts around Tobruch to the south for future moves eastwards.  The a/s point that is forward at 4818 is shifted around Tobruch and then overland to join the big c/m stack at 0218 west of Porto Bardiya.

In East Africa, there is little to do but tweak things.  The 2104 hex in front of Massaua is abandoned and Massaua is garrisoned directly, while its northwest approaches are also garrisoned strongly.  A weak line of Italian units continues into the mts from this point about 30 miles, as far as the pass though the mts west of Cub Cub.  To the north, the 92nd Col X shifts due east to rethreaten Allied supplied lines (at 14W:1504).  A few cons and a pair of inf X’s shift south along the coast to defend ports (or damage them), as they cannot ‘fit’ into the lines at Massaua.  The cons unit at Assab damages the port, waiting for some Allied unit to come along and capture it.  The units at Dessie hunker down and await the siege that will surely come.  The one remaining unit in the Oromos Highlands shifts southeast to get back into unisolated status, while 3 units in the Mendebo Mts advance forward and retake Dalle (Italian papers trumpet the news J).  Far in the west, in Sudan and Kenya, single units shift about, mostly to get as far from Allied units as possible.  Near Harar, some units flow towards the last southern limited supply terminal (Berbere being ungarrisoned and sure to fall next turn.)  The released 13th Col X at Dire Daua shifts west to threaten the supply line of some Allied troops, though at this point the Allies can draw supply from north and south fairly freely.  In Yemen, the TC that landed at Hodeida moves toward Sana (though it will be out of supply and isolated indefinitely while ‘in exile.’)

Returning to air activity after all the ground movement is completed, a ‘found’ MC.200 attempts another raid on the Hurri1 at Eraklion but fails to score a hit.  Axis High Command then bites the bullet and initiates a second drop on Crete.  1st Sturm III, railed into the 0314 airbase is picked up by 2 Ju52’s and dropped on Rethymnon (the mission that was cancelled in the ini phase was the 3/7th drop on Khania.)  The remaining Me109E and an Me110D from Scarpanto fly escort for the mission.  The Hurri1 at Eraklion remains static (guess these guys are enjoying the tea too much to move, though Allied High Command adopts a American Colonial aphorism by indicating it’s a ‘don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes’ thing.)  The inop P.24 and Hurri1 on the field use this mission as an excuse to scramble away, the P.24 to Eraklion and the Hurri1 all the way back to Alexandria.  Wimps.  The 1st Sturm decends, and the disruption roll is an average 3, and with the -2 mod (rough, enemy occupied hex), ends up disrupted.  Still, it will be in auto attack supply and supported, plus counts for GS later.  Two more Ju52’s stage to 0314, pick up 8 GSPs and land them at Khania safely given the Hurri1 at Eraklion’s distance.  All Ju52’s used over Crete land at Rodi airbases, one significantly overstacked.  All the F’s used land at Khania, which has no less than 8 air units on the base.

Elsewhere, 4 SM.79-1’s on Sicily, no longer really necessary to keep Malta suppressed, stage to the Levant and fly naval harassment missions against Port Suez.  Flak misses and average rolls result in 2 hits at the port (+2 VPs to Axis).  The BR.20M already in the Levant flies against Ismailia, flak misses there as well and a 6 results in a 3rd naval harassment hit (+1 VP.)

At the end of the phase the Hurri1 at Eraklion commits to protecting the Allied X’s at 4303 by flying a CAP there.

Combat Phase

Axis air responds by flying 5 bombers to 4303, and just one to Rethymnon to ensure both attacks will go off at no worse than 8:1 -1 regardless of air combat results.  The Hurri1 does switch to intercept, randomly gets matched up against one of the Ju88A1’s (of course, 3 Italians, 2 Germans, and the Germans get the match up.)  The Hurricanes only manage an R result however, while the Junker’s miss entirely.  The 4303 attack then goes in at 8:1 -1 (no a/s, some units U-1/isolated on Axis side, all units U-1 or worse on the Allied side & isolated, rough terrain.)  Two Mtn XX’s worth of unsupported troops, plus a German Inf III and the 7/2 para line up against the 4 Allied X’s trapped on the Cretan beachhead… A 2 is rolled, but it is sufficient for a DH, sending 2 X’s immediately to the dead pool and leaving the other two driven into the sea or surrendering (no retreat hex available.)  The 7/2 para III advances to clear out the Allied owned terrain.  The attack at Rethymnon goes off next, w/ the 7/1 para, 1st Sturm III and the ‘C’ 2-6 Italian Inf III lined up against a single X of Greek static troops.  Both sides are unsupported, and the defenders have rough terrain to assist, but the He111H4’s overhead w/ 2 pts GS is sufficient to ensure odds of 8:1 -1 again.  A 5 rolled results in a DE, with the Erak Static X heading for the deadpool.  The ‘C’ Inf III advances to seize control of the airfield & port (joining the 1st Sturm already there via airdrop), simultaneously trapping the Rethymnon static X between the Khania and Rethmnon airheads.  For now, just one Allied unit remains on Crete, and it is trapped, surrounded by three Axis stacks.  Lastly, the blocking position on the south bank of the Spherkios at 15:0413 is assaulted by a full Pzr Corps.  From directly across the river and from the western flank, 5.5 RE’s of unsupported Greek non-divs are smashed by 2nd & 5th Pzr, LSSAH, the Grossdeutchland Lb III and assorted arty and assault gun non-divs.  The 9:1 +2 attack (a/s provided, no GS required) is a foregone conclusion as any result is a DE… 2 is rolled for historical note.  All flanking units move out of the mountains from the west, and everything from the north that can advance does so as well, up to the stacking limits.  The Italian floatplanes land at Rethymnon, while the Ju88A’s land at Scarpanto.  The remaining Italian & German bombers land at the temp fields north of the Spherkios.  The Hurri1’s are forced to land at Eraklion, safe for the time being.

Exploitation Phase

In Greece, Panzers advance to the gates of Athenai, the Acropolis in view.  LSSAH and the GD Lb m Inf III advance past the Greek capital into the Peloponessus, seizing the RMY’s at Korinthos & Nauplion.  LSSAH advances northwest to take the defenders at Patrai in the rear, while the GD moves southwest towards Kalamai.  The Greeks lose 2 more pts of rail cap while the Axis gains one (34 for the Axis in the Balkans, just 2 remaining to Greece.)  In North Africa, advance c/m units return to their start lines just east of the Egyptian border, unable yet to advance until Tobruch is assaulted and the supply lines eastwards cleared.  (Of note, we discover the escarpment mp cost has gone up, so two c/m movements from the movement phase are slightly modified, and the 5th Army Cons III which built a 2 cap temp airfield on the coast west of Tobruch is modified to a 1 cap’er with 1 mp spent to build the second.  The Ju87B’s that transferred in to the field are returned back to Sicily.)  In East Africa, minor unit movements along the coast or just around Massaua, the most significant being the Eritrean m Inf X shifting via the Asmara valley from the mtn road at 14W:1906 southwards to the mtn road at Nafasit just west of Massaua.  In Yemen, we receive a ruling that despite no Allies being anywhere in the area, Italian units would be subject to surrender rolls in country.  Apparently the surrender rule exception for the East Africa area is specific to the geographical region, not the theater.  Seems odd to us, especially in light of the fact that no Allies are nearby to surrender to, and part of the justification is to prevent the Italian player from ‘extending’ the campaign by moving to Yemen… this last is odd given that absent an optional rule being in play (and one that has been suggested no sane Italian player would agree to (upfront anyway), there would in fact be no surrender rules at all for an exception to apply to (or not to apply to, as the case may be).  Regardless, the TC that was hoping to wait out the war in Sana exploits back to the Yemeni coast and hopes to survive two surrender checks so it can return back to where Allies can kill it??  Perhaps we should just assume Yemeni bandits are stealing the trucks ;)

A few air missions are flown at the end of the phase.  Ju87Rs out of Scarpanto fly against the naval interdiction zone around Crete to garner a few more VPs.  Contact is easily made w/ a 5 rolled, and flak is ineffective, but the R’s roll very poorly and get no hits.  Two Ju87B’s fly against the airfield at Athens while an Italian SM.79-1 and an He111H4 fly against the capital in a strategic terror mission as a combined op.  Flak aborts the Heinkels, and the Italians miss.  One hit from the 87’s does manage to abort the Blen1’s sitting on the airfield at Athenai however.  Three more Ju87B’s are available in Greece, with nothing much else to do, so they fly a separate tactical terror bombing against the Greek capital (one begins to feel a bit sorry for the populace, what with the only defending troops being Allies scampering for transports to carry them away, stacks of German Panzers just outside the gates, and hundreds of bombers indiscriminately scattering bombs all over the city.)  Flak manages to abort yet another German plane, but the other two at least manage one hit (+1 VP to Axis.)

End of turn

VP totals are now 71 for the Axis against -11 to the Allies.

APR II 1941 – Allied player turn

Initial Phase

Weather:  Weather gets a bit rough, or as rough as it can get given the time of year.  Sixes are rolled for both the European/North African & East African theaters.  The European areas remain clear, but a second roll is made and desert storms turn up.  There are currently 3 unmaintained temp airbases on the Axis side (one maintained base on each side), and a total of 4 hits are placed on the 3 Axis temp bases, aborting an MC.200 at one of our forward bases in North Africa.  In the south, about 70% of the zones go muddy, but sadly, the areas currently critical to the Axis effort around Massaua, Addis and Dessie are not any of these.  At sea, the winds kick up in the Indian Ocean resulting in rough seas.

The 26th East African Col X that landed at Bulhar in the last Allied turn goes undisrupted.  As this occurs in step 1 of the initial phase, we decide this is sufficiently close to the beginning of the turn to warrant the port coming fully under Allied control.

The Allies choose not to send the Greek government into exile, so clearly they intend to hang on as long as possible.  Good for them!  Greek demoralization is then checked for, with a 4 rolled and modified to a 2 for less than 7 Allied RE’s and less then 1 Arm RE in mainland Greece.  This results in full demoralization effects (no movement of Greek items to islands despite German intervention, all isolated Greeks surrender, reduced zoc’s in effect for German units, among other things.)  Elsewhere, the Allies lose a VP for Axis access to the Levant.

The current Allied special operation still in planning is cancelled and replaced by a different plan.  No Axis intel on what this might be, but it’s presumed to be for the Marine Commando units in Alexandria.

In supply calcs, on the Axis side all units on Rodi are U-4, while those on Scarpanto are U-4 but supplied via GSPs.  The Italian inf III on Crete is U-4, while the Para III’s are U-1, with the Italian infantry and the undisrupted para III supplied by the two unscattered GSPs.  Khania has a 2.5 effective strength, though a 6 point printed strength.  In East Africa, all Axis units are U-4, and many in the west are threatened with isolation if the Allies seize Gimma as expected.  Eleven RE’s in the defensive line facing the Allied coastal advance are placed in supply, as is the CR.42 at Massaua, using 12 GSPs at Asmara.

For the Allies, the units at Soddu & Bulhar use GSPs to remain in supply.  Malta is U-4 except for the two flak II’s at U-3, with no GSPs present.  Tobruch is U-2 and isolated now.  In Greece, the 14th Brit X on Melos is U-1.  Three pockets of Greek troops in north and northeast Greece go U-1 isolated and promply give up their arms to the victorious German troops (all of the units still maining the 3 remaining hexes of the Metaxas line plus the one hex to the rear, the large stack of units that retreated away from Thessalonike, the remaining units of the Aliakmon line, and finally the northern tip of the Albanian front.  All told, 48 points of Greek troops (including 3 Mtn XX’s, 2 Mtn Cdrs, 2 Inf XX’s, the 19th m Inf XX, and 13 RE’s of non-divisionals) surrender.  With 51 pts of Greeks already in the pool, this results in roughly 8 divisions and divisional equivalents remaining in the central mountains on the Albanian front and along the western coast.  About 10 RE’s of non-divisional Greeks are in the Peloponnesus and the Boetia/Attica region.  Just two RE’s of static troops remain on Crete.)  After this mass surrender, a number of hexes behind the German lines become Axis owned via isolation, as do a pair in North Africa.  Two ports in northern Greece however remain in the control of local Greek personnel, at least until such time as a combat unit moves through them.

In reinforcement activity, the 4th Ind XX is rebuilt at Alexandria using 3 Indian and 1 British RP.  Two Aussie RPs are used to return the 16th Inf X.  Two ARPs are transferred from Kenya to the Mideast and used to bring back the Glads strafed at Melos and an aborted Blen4.  Neither side has any ARPs remaining, and there are 5 ARPs worth of Axis and 2 ARPs worth of Allied air units still in pools.  TF-1 is activiated at Alexandria at 3 pt strength, probably to provide additional flak capabilities for what Axis intel can only presume will be large numbers of naval movements from the Greek mainland.  In East Africa, a Cons X withdraws, while the reorg of the 5th S.Afr is again delayed, this time due to an Axis zoc projected by an intruding Blackshirt III.  A small convoy with AFV’s arrives in the south Indian Ocean (theoretically to allow the 4th Royal Tank II to upgrade to a 2-1-6 II).

As before, GSPs are created at all the current Allied standard supply terminals, but in addition, the one a/s in the Mideast theater at Tobruch is converted to 12 GSPs.  Even with the abundance of GSP sources, this step appears to have been forced on the Allied side as their naval transport ability is stressed to the max supporting three separate theaters.  There are still 6.5 RE’s of Allied troops in mainland Greece (to say nothing of the possibility that the Indian and Kiwi XX’s will get shipped into and out of Tobruch to reduce the 8 VP drain that ol’ Churchill is forcing on the Allied command structure), some 3 a/s points which would require 9 NTPs, plus requirements in the Indian Ocean and Eastern Med, so it is likely that GSP shipments to Malta and Tobruch are currently beyond the capability of the Allies right now.

A number of construction activities are started, including an airfield at the oasis of Mersa Taclal along the Red Sea north of Massaua and a fort by the Aus Eng X at Alexandria.  Meanwhile, the permanent airfield at Tobruch is completed and the Malta cons levees reduce the Malta status to 14.

In air issues, 6 a/c that bombed Malta remain inop.  Also, three Italian F units remain inop on 3 separate overstacked airbases in the Greek theater, as does the Well1C on Melos.

The Axis then kicks off a series of missions to limit Allied mobility in the Greek and Med theaters.  A CR.42 CAP mission is flown over the most forward temp airbase, near Tobruch, but it is unlikely that Allied bombers will be able to splurge on bombing an empty temp airbase.  An Me109E at Volos stages to Khania and flies a CAP over the Khania field to limit the damage an airbase strike might have on that base since two Ju87R’s are there… these are placed on naval patrol.  So are two bombers on Scarpanto, two at Egouminitsa, three at Valona, two at Alexandroupolis and three more (one coded) on Sicily.  There’s even a BR.20M at Damas on naval patrol, hoping to inhibit movements through the canal.  Hopefully a bad turn for Allied naval movements.  An Italian Ju87B/R unit flies a harassment mission to Arta, which will ensure no Greek units escape the coastal or mountain regions near Albania (and will ensure no ZOC’s prevent Axis troops from getting to the narrow straights north of Patrai).  An Me110D flies another harassment mission to the 4503 hex on Crete, prepped to drop bombs, but the two Allied fighters in the area ignore this for now.  After further calculations, it is determined that 8 mp units could just barely land at Rethymnon and push through this harassment to the outskirts of Khania, so a second Me110D flies a harassment to Rethymnon’s hex (our group decides that the ‘at start’ provision for harassment mp loss is determined by where the unit is when it begins ground movement, and not where it is at the beginning of the movement phase.)  This time the P.24 at Rethymnon reacts, so the Me110D’s drop bombs and air to air is fought out, though neither side inflicts damage.  Given this, a Ju87B stages in for another go at harassment, and the Hurri1’s at Eraklion intercepts.  It rolls well and aborts the Stukas, losing no a/c of its own.  The Allies quickly fly a CAP with the Glad rebuild at Alexandria over Rethymnon since the Axis intention is now clear, and a second Ju87B flies unescorted thereto.  The follow-on air to air combat results in no results by either side, so the harassment hits are placed on the port.  This will prevent any significant Allied forces (at least supported) from landing at the port and then moving overland to assault the special operators at Khania.  It is still possible that the Greek Static X itself could reach the Khania area, and unsupported troops might risk landing at the still allied owned hexes west of the city, but the TF-1 will hopefully get blasted in naval movements and be unable to provide any NGS to such small units attacking alone (even if assaulted by just a few points of unsupported allies, any EX/HX result would likey be a victory to the Axis, given the presumed higher printed strengths involved.)

Movement Phase

The EA theater begins naval movements, with 2.0 Col RPs moved to Aden and the Aden Static X moved to Bulhar, at the cost of 2 of the 9 Eastern Med/Indian Ocean NTPs.  This leaves just 7 for all necessary movements in the Med.  Also, the 1 Arm RP in the south Indian Ocean is routed up to Mid-east command.  The BR.20M at Damas attempts to make contact at the end of the movement as it exits the canal just north of Port Said, but the contact roll fails (+3 for calm, -3 for distance.)

Recognizing the threat to his Aegean naval operations, the Allied commander in the theater decides to launch a major raid against the Khania airbase.  All available a/c except the Bombay transports fly airbase bombing missions to Khania (including Hurri1’s which won’t drop bombs if engaged in air to air, a Blen1, a Blen4, and the Greek Mxd B unit).  They are quickly intercepted by the Me109E’s on CAP over the field as well as the Me109E’s waiting on standby.  Without true escorts, the Emils quickly get in amongst the bomber forces (randomly allocated against the Blen4 and the Greek bombers).  Rolls are somewhat poor for the Axis and rather good for the Allies, but the qualitative difference spells the difference.  Both the Blen4 and Greek bombers go down aborted, while a single inconsequential return result is generated against the fighters (109E’s roll 7 & 8 vs Blen 4 & Mxd B respectively, with the bombers rolling 4 and 5).  The remaining mission force units bomb and strafe the base, and the Hurri1’s with their upgraded bombing strength due to strafing manage a single hit (5 rolled for Hurri’s, 4 for Blen 1), putting a Ju87R on naval patrol into the abort pile and reducing the base capacity to 2.  The Me109E’s return to Khania, while the Blens head for Athenai and the Hurri1’s overstack at Rethymnon.

With 7 Eastern Med NTPs and 3 remaining Aegean NTPs (1 each of which may be treated as an ANTP), the Allied commander for the Mideast & Greece then begins a complicated series of manuevers designed to make a stab at retaking the vital Khania airbase and port before additional Axis forces can be lifted in.  First, using one Med NTP & 2 Aegean NTPs he begins moving attack supply from Athenai to Rethymnon.  While the supplies are being loaded, Axis naval patrol craft at Alexandroupolis react (to whittle away at the NTP totals essentially… all Allied naval movements listed below finish loading with their last nmp spent at night so that no daylight missions can occur against them at the departing port, unless otherwise indicated.) The first mission is flown by an He111H4, which makes contact (+3 for calm, -3 for distance, 5 rolled), passes by flak (8 rolled), then manages to register a single hit (2 & 6 rolled), which is randomly allocated to an Aegean NTP (reducing the Allied total in that pool permanently to 2, still sufficient to allow one ANTP however.)  The Allies sail a second Med NTP into the Pireus to complete loading, so the Ju88A1 at Alexandroupolis flies as well, but this time as the Allied transports transition back to daylight some 4 hexes north of the Cretan coast.  Contact however fails with a 1 rolled (+3 for calm, -4 for distance.)  The Z.506B out of Egouminitsa takes a shot as well at the same location and while the radio transmissions from the Germans give them a general idea, they still can’t quite find the elusive transports (+3 for calm, -4 for distance, 5 rolled.)  No further missions are flown (there are still one Ju87R unit at Khania, and a Ju88A1 and Italian Mxd B unit on Scarpanto, but these units are awaiting bigger game, namely Allied ground units, as it seems likely that Allied XX’s might transition to the Rethymnon port.)  The attack supply then lands at the Rethymnon port, using up its 3 pts of port capacity.

The Allied High command now wants to have the activated TF-1 escort an ANTP carrying the rebuilt 16th Aus X to a friendly beach northwest of Khania, but the TF wouldn’t have sufficient points to manage this and provide NGS, so it sails alone directly to 18:4303, the northwestern most tip of Crete (and the only available hex from which it can simultaneously provide NGS and support units landed on a friendly beach, given that 4503 is Axis owned and therefore unavailable for unplanned naval offloading.)  Axis naval patrol craft wish both the ANTP and the TF would have sailed together so that hits might be registered against both, but since they didn’t, the TF is left to its own devices as the anticipated ground forces are more important.  The aforementioned 16th Aus X then sails via Med ANTP to 4303, and the Ju88A1 on Scarpanto quickly reacts.  Contact is successful (+3 for calm, -2 for distance, 5 rolled) but in a twist, the 2 pts of flak rolls a 3 and aborts the bombers.  The Italian Mxd B then flies to the same location after 5 nmps have been spent off loading, and a 4 rolled with the same mods is sufficient to find the offloading troops.  Flak fails this time with a 9 rolled, but the Italians scatter their bombs all over the beach for little apparent affect (1 rolled.)  Wishing to save the Ju87R for a possible XX move, the Axis lets the Aussies then land.  However, it turns out that the scattered bombs did have some effect, as a 1 is rolled on the disruption roll (-1 for rough terrain), resulting in the Australian X scattered about and the Brigade commander cursing the British for dropping him on some isolated bit of beach just like his forebears almost 30 years previous.  Layforce then loads up on a Med NTP and sails for that same bit of beach, unmolested by any Axis air units.  However, the rough surf turns over the dinghies the Commandoes are attempting to use as landing craft and most of the highly prized men are drowned in the waves (-1 for rough and –3 for non-amphibious, another 1 rolled sees the fragile commando unit into the dead pool.)  So far, on both sides really, this is shaping up to be a comedy of errors.

Knowing they need at least a 2:1 –1 attack to have any hope of success (plus at least 6 points of printed ground strength, but Axis intel is unsure yet whether this minor fact has been realized by the Allied High Command), the British 14th X currently sunning itself on Melos loads up on the Aegean ANTP and moves to that evil bit of beach front property.  Hoping to sink the ANTP and force an NTP to carry the unit, a Ju88A at Egouminitsa attempts contact while the unit loads, but a poor roll of 1 sees the air unit missing the LC’s entirely (+3 for calm, -4 for distance.)  Not wanting to let the Allies get to that critical 6 pts of attack strength, the big Ju87R’s finally get into the action.  Contact is practically guaranteed (+3 for calm, -0 for distance) and is successful with a 5 rolled, but in another miracle flak roll, the R’s are driven off when the 2 pts of naval flak rolls a 4.  Yet, the Axis gets a bit of revenge regardless, as all the twisting and turning caused by the flak operations causes the 14th’s landing to go poorly as well (-1 for rough, 2 rolled) and that unit too ends up disrupted on the beach.  The Ju87R returns to Scarpanto, at least freeing up some ramp space for the 4 German units already at Khania.  In other landing type news, all Axis units returned to their home stations except the Italian Mxd B, which returned to Rodi to free up space on Scarpanto.

At this point, the Allied High Command takes a bit of a break while it puzzles out what next to send… Three NTPs are all that remain to them, and while there are no more naval patrol craft in the south Aegean, there are still a few in the north at Valona.  Some 1 or 2 more points must be landed, 2 really if the Greek Reth Static X intends to participate and the Allies don’t wish to see both the Allied and Axis stacks mutually annihilated on an EX, which would leave the Axis in control of the hex.  There are few remaining unsupported units laying about the map for the Allies to use, and of course, Malta will likely go hungry again.  Available for movement to the 4303 beach are still the Greek static X at Eraklion, the Czech II at Alexandria (plus the Aussie Eng, though it just started a fort, so it’s unlikely to move), plus a pair of units at Tobruch (23rd British X, and the 1RNF machinegun II.  That’s about it… not too many pleasing options remain.  Any unsupported troops landed at the beach must brave the –4 disruption roll modifier, while the idea of sending supported or heavy equipment units would simply be insane, what with a –7 disruption roll modifier (a 4 in 6 chance of having the unit eliminated, and only a 2 in 6 of being ‘just’ badly disrupted and useless for all but exchange calculations.)

In a bit of a surprise, the Allied CINC uses its next NTP to shift the W Art X at Patrai to Crete, target unknown.  This is a small surprise because the Rethymnon port is used up, so only Eraklion & Hagio Nikolaos have any capacity left.  Regardless, the Axis CC has no desire to see Allied artillery on Crete, so Z.1007b bombers out of Valona attempt contact at 16+ hexes range (+3 for calm, -3 for distance), but they are well prepared and quick spot the units off the Peloponnesus as the transport enters daylight movement.  Two points of flak misses w/ a 10 rolled, and in a show of Italian air arms boxcars are rolled, cracking the keel of the NTP and quickly sending it and the W Art X to the bottom.  Barely a smudge is left on the surface of the sea to indicate the brave lads of the W Art X were ever there.  The Eastern Med pool is reduced to 8 NTPs.

Stubborn and stiff lipped as always, the British move their 23rd X out of Tobruch to that western tip of Crete.  A three rolled ensures that the X is badly disrupted and reduced to a 0 combat strength.  With only 1 NTP left in theater, the Aussie Eng X is ordered to abandon the fortworks being built in Alexandria, which it only just began.  It boards the last NTP and heads for Crete, hoping for a 6 so that something landed will end up undistrupted.  The Aussies get close w/ a 5, but are disrupted upon landing, leaving 3 X’s disrupted and one badly disrupted on the beach.  No further naval movement can occur, so it will be up to the NGS, those X’s and whatever GS can be mustered to push the Axis forces out of Khania… and to gain ownership the Rethymnon static X will have to move out of the town and head west as it is the only undisrupted unit which can reach an attacking position on Khania.  Pending confirmation of what they do, if anything, with the Bombay transports in the movement phase, Axis Air CINC lays plans to fly a couple of CAP’s at Khania & Tobruch, to possibly keep GS away from Crete.  One pt is necessary for the Allies to manage a 3:1 -1 on Crete, so we’ll do our best to prevent same.

At this point, ground movement can finally begin.  In Greece, Greek units along the old Cham front attempt to flee to the rear, but Axis harassment at Arta will ensure nothing gets away.  Most units are limited to 1 hex of movement, bumping up against German screening units set up on the east side of the north-south mountain spine.  A small group consisting of the Greek 12th Inf XX and two arty III’s makes Prevesa, hoping that the government in Athens will send transports to rescue them, but little shipping is available, and if it were, the demoralized Greek politicians would not send the units to Crete or into exile anyway.  In southern Greece, nearly all Greek units flow north to Patrai or the southbank of the Spherkios.  There are no artillery units to support these two collections of unsupported non-divs (a real hodge-podge of static, cons, bdr and eng units, with some flak and pos AA and a single supported Mtn X.)  Neither can be expected to hold the German units off for long.  These units, plus allied units fleeing south to Athenai do destroy the rail lines leading from the south bank of the Spherkios to the city itself.  In addition, all airfields in the Peloponnesus are destroyed, as is the airfield just northwest of Athenai, while Athenai itself gets one airfield hit.  Hits are put on the rails at Kalamai and Patrai, and some engineers manage to put two hits on the Patrai port as well.  The 7th Aus XX in Athenai breaks down into unsupported components, perhaps to allow for easier shipment to Cretan beaches?  By the end of the turn, all Allied units (7th Australians X’s and Hq, 57th Flak II, 43rd RPC Cons X, and a pos AA) are huddled in Athenai, awaiting more shipping to flee the scene no doubt.  Only a single Greek unit remains in the capital, the S Flak II.  The Allies intend to fight to the last Greek J  On Crete, the Rethymnon Static X does advance to the east flank of Khania so that in the event the Allied counter-attack is successful something will actually be able to gain ownership of the port and airbase.  The Erak static X moves up to Rethymnon itself, leaving the east side of the island denuded of troops, for the time being.

Down in North Africa, Tobruch’s defenders huddle with nothing to do but wait.  In Alexandria, the rebuilt 4th Ind XX also breaks down into unsupported X’s (more units shipping to Crete?), while it’s 11th X moves to join the 1M FF II guarding the airfield southwest of the city.  The 65th AT II moves out and establishes a ‘blocking position’ at El Alamein, such as it is.  The Polish Karp Mtn X hitches a trainride west and then overlands to Matruh to regain temporary control of the port, but turns back east immediately afterwards.  It ends movement at 1418, 30 miles east of Matruh, joined by a TC moved up from Alexandria.

Down in East Africa, the units along the coast north of Massaua mostly concentrate on a single Italian Inf X on their flank in the Nora range on the west side of the Nacfa valley.  The three Aus X’s prepare to assault, while the two Ind X’s cross back to the road to 1803, about 30 miles north of the main Italian line guarding Massaua, where they are content to await further developments.  In south Sudan, the EC Col X moves away (via train and admin) from the Italian units invading from the AOI and heads south along the Gedaraf – Gallabat road.  4th RT Tk II moves the opposite direction out of the mud and heading for the rails near Gedaraf.  46th RPC Cons X takes up the garrison of Gondar, with 10th Ind and a separate TC moving to the broken bridge east of the city at 10W:0314.  The 2MMG II crosses that bridge and moves around the 0209/0310 bridge by flanking the headwaters of the Mareb river, giving it free passage to the rear of the abandoned Cheren works in exploit.  Near Dessie, 2nd South African and 1st Col Belgian X’s approach the city from the southwest, with a TC supporting.  The FB Col II approaches the north, while the 1MMG II crosses mountains terrain to cut off access from the northeast.  In the Addis Ababa area, 1st Sth Afr & a TC move east along the rail line towards Dire Daua, passing the town of Auasc.  The 5th Sth Afr & SEAC Cons units remain engaged with the impertinent 11th Blackshirt III southwest of the city on the south bank of the Auasc river.  The EAC Cons X repairs two hits at Addis, giving the RAF and SAAF a good base from which to operate.  A bit to the west 24th Gold Coast & a TC screen Italian units in th Oromos Highlands, while 21st East African does the same from the south.   1st East Afr Recon II moves directly west to a point just shy of Gimma, where it threatens to take the only Italian limited supply terminal in the west.  This will put most Italian units in the western half of the AOI into isolated status, forcing surrender checks on any within 2 hexes of an Allied unit.  A bit to the south, 25th East African screens Italian units in the Mendebo Mts.  Mostly it appears that the Allies are attempting to just stay within ‘surrender’ range of the Italian units in the west and central AOI.  At Bulhar in British Somalia, the Aden & 26th East African engage the 70th Ital Col X just outside the city.

At the end of movement, recognizing that the Allies are just shy of 3:1 -1 at Khania, a CR.42 flies a CAP over Tobruch, while an Me110C and a CR.32bis fly a CAP over Khania.

Combat Phase

As expected, the Bombay transports are flown as GS to Khania to get the odds up, despite the fact that they have no escorts.  The Me110C is allocated to attack first, rolls a 7 and K’s the transports.  The Bombays roll a 6 and get no result.  (And, as I sit here writing this missive I realize that I forgot to have the F’s on the Khania field scramble away from the ensuing ground combat.  That was the plan all along, but things were moving quickly and I never go the chance to send the msg, and didn’t remember to afterwards…)  Regardless, the Allies are forced to attack at 2:1 -1 odds, lest their efforts be wasted and a 4 Allied X’s sit useless on the western tip of Crete.  They charge forward, but despite Herculean efforts to get the troops there and provide NGS and attack supply, the defending Fallshirmjagers and Italian Infantry men are too much to handle and the attack is repulsed with little loss to either side (3 rolled for an AS.)  Clearly, the Allied men spent too much energy just getting to the jump off point, and with the confusion and disruption of landing the attack never really got organized.  This is a critical result for the Axis, as reinforcements should easily flow in via air transport in the Axis half of the turn.

In East Africa, the Allies launch just a few assaults.  The South African units attack the 11th Blackshirt III, and with two air units providing GS the result is a foregone conclusion… the 10:1 even attack rolls a 5 for a DE (no a/s, 1 pt printed attacking, but Audax and Mxd S units providing GS provide a major boost in combat power.)  Next, the Aden static X and 26th EA X’s assault the 70th Col just outside Bulhar.  Odds are 10:1 -1 after the arrival of the Wellsly & the Blen, staging in and flying from Aden itself across the Red Sea.  A 6 is rolled for a quick DE (no a/s.)  Finally, the three Aus X’s assault the heroic 92nd Col X in the north Rora range.  One RE is supplied via the ‘free’ a/s rule, but just one a/c is present (Mxd A from S. Afr), for a 10:1 -2 attack.  The Col unit puts up a stiff fight and manages to retreat northwest in good order (1 rolled for a DR, no zoc’s around.)

Exploitation Phase

None in Greece.  In North Africa, the TC picks up the Karp X and drops it off at El Alamein, then presses on to the 2417 airbase near Alexandria.  In East Africa, 4th Royal Tank II moves along the rail line towards Kassala, reaching a point 2 hexes west of the city.  It’s likely headed for Port Sudan where it can be shipped up north to the Mideast.  2MMG II moves quickly up the Asmara valley and takes the Italian fort at Cheren from the rear, though as that position was abandoned this is insignificant at this point.  10th Ind X and a TC engage the Asb Col X by seizing Adua, and 1st MMG moves up the mtn road from Dessie to a point just 15 miles south of Agridat.  Around Dessie, 2nd S.Afr and a TC overrun a pos flak pt attempting to get into the city and then move to the northwest of the city.  The 1st S. Afr and a TC move up the road leading northeast out of Miesso, abandoning any moves toward Dire Daua and Harar for the moment and shifting their focus on surrounding Dessie.  The 1st East Afr Recon II does seize Gimma, eliminating the limited supply terminal in the city.  At this point, Italian units are essentially small enclaves of troops scattered about East Africa with little to connect them.  At the end of the turn, a few Axis transfer missions are flown to unstack an airbase or two in Greece.  Also, the Allies lose 8 VPs for having 2nd NZ XX at Tobruch, vice in Greece where ol’ Winston wanted it.  Current totals are 64 to -11 in favor of the Axis.

APR I 1941 – Axis regular player turn

Initial Phase

Most of the political effects in the early part of the ini phase are now N/A, but the Axis is allowed to start putting pressure on the Leventine Vichy French.  We do so, and Petain takes a hard look at where things stand in Greece and North Africa and quickly caves to Axis demands.  Axis air units will be allowed to operate from Leventine air bases, which will make an excellent safe haven for raids against the Suez Canal.  Also, should Iraq finally come over to the Axis side, Levant access will allow for immediate operations in the Near East theater.  (5 rolled, and unlike the Iraqi roll, low is good for us, so Axis gets full air rights in the Levant).  We next collect 3 VPs for owning Massaua.

In supply issues, the units in the Dodecanese are U-4, except those on Scarpanto, fed by the 4 GSPs delivered by Ju-52 in the surprise turn.  In East Africa, all units are U-4, and the 7th Col Inf X in the mtns just east of Addis is isolated as well.  12 GSPs created in the Allied Apr I 41 turn are used to feed the movement of 11 or so units near Massaua, with the emphasis on Cons III’s, TC’s and some units directly facing the flanks of the Allied coastal advance.  Also, the CR.42 is provided additional fuel and spares for a full turn of operation, though there’s little it can do.  On the Allied side, Malta’s troops are U-4 except the flak II’s at U-3, with no GSPs available.  Tobruch’s defenders go U-1 red & isolated.  The Brit X on Melos is U-1.  The Allied X that landed disrupted at Bulhar in British Somaliland is U-1 isolated, but GSPs provide supply.  After all these calculations, the 7th Col Inf X rolls a 4 and gives up the ghost.

Iraqi conspirators look at Axis advances in North Africa, Greece and the Levant and nearly come over to the Axis (10 rolled, with a German unit just on the Libyan side of the border, so we missed the coup by 1 pip, or one hex, take your choice.)

Lots of replacement activity.  In the Balkans, two add’l Italian inf XX’s show up for service in Albania, while 2 inf RPs, 2 a/s, 1 mtn RP arrive as well.  The last 2 ARPs for the Axis, Italian ones in North Africa, are transferred to the Balkans and used to replace the bombers luckily aborted on Albanian airbases in the allied turn.  For the Germans, the 7th Fallshirmjager XX, plus the Sturm III and the Sturm glider II arrive in Southeast Germany for rail to the front.  Ten gruppen of Ju-52’s and a glider unit show up in south German cities to support the special operators.  One a/s and a pair of res pts show up in southern Bulgaria as well, while the SMP pool goes up 5 to 20 for the command.  Finally, an Italian SM.79-1 returns from parts unknown for continued service in the Balkans.  For North Africa, 15th Pzr Hq and its supporting 104th m Inf III arrive in Sicily for movement to Libya.  The Italian 36th LtAA II does so as well.  One Me109E shows up on Sicily, operating location as yet undetermined for this month pending airbase capacity near Tobruch.  Lastly, 2 a/s and ½ Ital Inf RP arrive in Sicily for shipment forward.  In East Africa, .5 EAC Inf RP are produced in Massaua, while 16 units are scrapped to produce 2 more points, 1 each placed at Dessie and Massaua.  GSPs are placed at each of the regular locations, plus each high volume line edge hex along Map 14 (less Pleven, which already created some and it didn’t appear ‘correct’ to produce twice in the same Apr I 41 period.)  The fort being produced at Massaua is completed.  After landing hundreds of German planes in the southern Balkans, Koritsa is 1 overstacked so a CR.42 there goes inop, while the two Italian harassers not aborted in the Allied turn remain inop as well.  On the Allied side, Soddu is overstacked, so the Audax there goes inop.

Movement Phase

The allies begin the turn with a quick transfer of the Mxd S at Soddu down to the airfield at Lugh Ferrandi, unstacking the field.  Then a pair of bombing raids against Malta occur, with 5x SM.79-1’s and 2x Ca.133’s strat bombing the port status.  Flak is a bit weaker this time with the two flak II’s at U-3, but even so, the 5 points effective shift to the 2 column does manage to abort one SM.79 when a snake-eyes is rolled during flak shots.  The bombers however get their vengeance, as the SM.79’s generate 3 hits in 4 attempts, and the Ca.133’s follow up with one more, bringing the Malta status to a maximum 15.  The third air raid occurs when the BR.20M is staged to Beyrouth, flies a strat bombing against Port Said and rolls a 5 for a hit (+1 Axis VP).  It returns to Damas where it is covered by the French D.520 (one of the best all round fighters on the map currently.)  There it will be safe from Allied retribution unless the Allies wish to invade the Levant with 3 cav III’s, the only thing in the area.

Various naval missions then occur.  The first sees one a/s from Palermo to Derna, the furthest eastern port we are likely to get until Tobruch falls.  The three new ground units on Sicily are all shipped to Benghazi, and then the remaining a/s point and ½ Ital RP are sent to Tripoli.  None of these missions are contacted by naval forces out of Malta.  The last mission for North Africa sees the 24th Corp Art III and 29th HvAA II at Homs moved via the coast to Benghazi.  In East Africa, the Est Cons III is moved via the coast to Assab via the Red Sea NTP.  Then, Adriatic and Aegean operations begin.  An a/s and Inf XX are each shipped to Durazzo and Valona, and then the 2 Inf and 1 Mtn RP are sent forward to Albania as well.  Long range British subs fail to make contact.  Then the Axis special operations begin, with “Scarpanto’s Revenge” kicking off the action.  The ‘C’ Inf III (a 2-6 broken down from the Italian 6 Cno XX) is amphibiously moved to Crete, hex 4503 between Khania and Rethymnon.  Greek naval forces make contact (on the 0 column, not too difficult, as the city of Thessalonike was not seized when the Greeks fully manned the Metaxas line), but they fail to significantly impact the operation when a 6 is rolled on the effects chart.  Having had literally months to practice operations at Scarpanto, the Italian infantryman manage to get off the Italian light craft with no difficulty whatsoever (6 rolled for no disruption.)  The Greek Rethymnon static X manages to roll a 6 for reaction, but when it’s discovered they cannot move into the hex in which the landing was made (no allied troops also in the hex), the X chooses to remain in place and defend the port.  A planned for CAP over the landing hex is canx as well.

Ground movement then begins.  In North Africa, infantry and armor replace a few of the Italian units laying siege to Tobruch, while some armor and the Trento XX move east.  From the border, a fan of Axis units surge forward into Egypt, gaining ownership of terrain roughly from just east of Matruh down the road to the Siwa Oasis.  To the rear, the 27 Brs Inf XX and Tonini admin up to just west of Tobruch, the 1 “23 M” CCNN Inf XX admins up to Derna to garrison that port, and the just landed initial elements of the 15th Pzr XX admin to Barce.  A single art III and some flak units take up the garrison of Benghazi.  Well to the rear, two more Inf XX’s slowly admin their way across Libya towards the front.

In East Africa, a strong line (that will be GSP supplied in the Allied turn) is built just north of Massaua (two 7-8 pt stacks) with a few scattered units taking up positions in the mountains to the west of the Nacfa valley and theoretically guarding the eastern approach to the Asmara valley.  The rail line from Cheren to Massaua is completely blown as these units shift, with the Cheren position essentially abandoned, as are most locations to the south near Adi Ugri.  The units that had been facing the western threat blow the bridges and retreat up to Massaua, except one, the Asb X which shifts southeast towards the mountain road to Dessie.  In Massaua itself, Cons III’s continue blasting the port, so now there are 7 hits, with an 8th partially complete.  Well to the south, at Assab, the Est Cons begins blowing that port as well, while westwards at Dessie units consolidate for that redoubt’s last stand, with only a single pos AA still to make the position.  In southern Sudan, three X’s of infantry and Bande play tag with Ethopians, but this game is likely nearly up as the Free French and the 68th Art II are within striking range, and the 4th Royal Tank appears poised to join them.  The Addis area has been cleared, but there are still units east and south of Gimma, plus in the Mendebo mountains.  One such charges out and puts a zoc on the SEAC Cons X and 5th S.Afr X to prevent those units from converting next turn (cheesy, eh whot, but it delays the formation of the full S.Afr XX at least a turn as well, which will likely be necessary to assault Dessie and clear the road leading north to Massaua from that cities southern flank, unless the units from the Addis region wish to go the long way via Gondar!)  In the Oromos Highlands, the units which had been protecting Gimma’s flanks abandoned their positions entirely and begin shifting east through the mountains since their city is likely flanked from the north by a c/m end around.  One Bande X putters about near Soddu but can do nothing but wave at the Allied troops and merely waits to be attacked.  A cav and infantry stack is created at Hula in the western Mendebo mountains, actually south of nearly all Allied troops at this point, though it isn’t really in striking distance of anything.  Hopefully we will at least operate as a force in being for the immediate future and force the Allies to garrison Addis and Soddu.  In the far south eastern portion of the theater, two Bande X’s putz about as well, one managing to drop a bridge which will likely never see an Allied foot.  The coastal III continues attempting to get into the war at 4 admin hexes a turn.  In the far west, the 2dF Bande leaves Uganda and enters northwest Kenya, seizing the Lokichar oasis via zoc.  The 1dF in northern Kenya reverses coarse now that a Col X is approaching and starts going back towards Moyale via the FWR in the ravines to the west of that town.  It ends its turn around 30 miles northeast of Marsabit.  Finally, in the far northwest, the 10th Col Inf X shifts around the Malakal airfield, while the 3dF Bande approach from the south.

In the Balkans, the four Mtn XX’s and a pair of Panzer XX’s, supported by some 4 arty units, 3 engineer III’s, a mtn eng II, and a mtn commando (useless in combat, except that it aids in the mountaineering calculation) shoot the gap north of Thessalonike and hit the 4612 hex of the Aliakmon line from the north across the river.  5th and 9th Pzr, plus the LSSAH, 2 flak III’s and a pair of asslt gun II’s assault the 4611 swamp hex from across the Vardar river, while the GD m Inf III attacks from the northwest side… an ugly place for tanks, but it’s what can get there and entering the swamp hex will position the units for a very good exploit to follow.  Meanwhile, 164th Lehr Inf XX, Das Reich, 198th and 294th Inf XX’s plus a few odds and sods invest Thessalonike from northwest and eastern sides.  Two more inf XX’s screen the 51st Mtn III in the wooded rough northeast of the city from across the river, but no assault will be launched as the Greeks are likely to surrender all on their own.  At 4307, an eng III builds a 2 cap temp airbase, supported by the small 49th m art III just in case the Greeks don’t start surrendering in droves.  To the east, the infantry units which took Alexandroupolis head west and invest the remaining Metaxas line hexes, though again, no attacks from this direction are anticipated.  These movements do seize Xanthe, resulting in a 1 RE rail cap loss to Greece, which drops to 8.  With a total of 2 Greek RE’s of capacity lost, the Axis Balkan cap goes up to 31.  To the north, Bulgarian units move into border hexes to keep the Greeks surrounded on their northern side, but as yet they have not received permission to enter Greece proper.  Over in Albania, Italian units shift for a possible infantry assault in the coastal area, plus a mtn assault in a very weak spot along the line.  Other units shift around the northern flank of the line which had a 1 hex gap, and make contact with the German 60th m Inf XX which reached a point just west of Edessa.  To the rear in Albania, some cons units begin temp fields, while the infantry and cons units that had been up near Yugoslavia quickly shift down to the south via admin movement to Koritsa.

Finally, the broken down III’s of the Fallshirmjager rail off map and then back on at Pleven.  From there, given that both Khania and Rethymnon are still occupied, the two III’s that were planned for assaults on Crete at 4503 are picked up by 8 Ju-52 gruppen staging into Pleven.  They launch long-range air drops against 4503.  No fighters are in the area, though the patrol zone out of Melos does need to be skirted.  The drops go off fairly well, as the 7/1 para III lands undistrupted (4 rolled), while the 7/2 para III lands disrupted (2 rolled).  Simultaneously, the 4 GSPs on Scarpanto are picked up again and dropped on Crete (busy little GSPs), though rolls are poor and only 2 arrive unscattered.

Unable to react to the airborne operations (same hex as the amphib op and limited to one reaction attempt per hex), Allied troops in Khania and Rethymnon remain stuck in place.  Allied Hurricanes out of Larisa do react to this ‘massive’ airborne operation by flying a CAP over the invasion hex.  (Sidebar:  not sure why this was done actually, as that bolt has already been shot.  Perhaps the Allies consider it possible that additional units will be flown into the invasion hex, but there are too few Ju-52’s for such a project.  At this point, the Axis units will be attacking west and possibly east out of the bridgehead on Crete…)

Afterwards, the Me110C stages to Scarpanto and flies a CAP over Rethymnon (can’t reach Khania) to hopefully keep DAS away from that city (blasted Allied bombers just happened to land at Khania in the Allied turn, so attacks that had projected to be DAS free may very well have ½ pt each added to the unsupported Greek X’s currently in each city.)  Then, after 2 GSPs are railed from the 14A map edge to Plovdiv, one of the two remaining Ju-52’s flies the GSPs on a long range air transport to Scarpanto to feed the flak guns on the island, as it is anticipated that Axis a/c will be operating from that field by end of turn.

Given that there is a possible DAS provider at Thessalonike, an Me109E is flown as a CAP over the 4611 swamp hex while a pair of Italian fighters stage forward in Albania and CAP the 4612 wooded rough/fort hex.  Allied response is to fly the Hurricane from Tobruch and the Greek P.24 as a CAP over Rethymnon, and the Glad from Tobruch as a CAP over Khania.  They also transfer the Blen1’s at Thessalonike to Athenai, unwilling to brave the Axis CAP on the nearby attacks presumably (or the large flak presence perhaps.)

Combat Phase

The Bombay transports load up on bombs and fly DAS to Rethymnon, where the P.24 switches to escort.  Axis high command could have the Me110C’s switch to intercept & bypass.  However, after juggling the numbers, it’s decided that using the 3 ground units on Crete to attack both airbases would require a minimum of 5 bombers to ensure a likelihood of success, and the Rethymnon attack would be no better than 6:1 -1 unless the Me110C’s manage to impact the Allied DAS.  That attack has a small chance of generating an EX result that would kill off the attack para III and leave the Allies in control of the port and airbase regardless.  Having gotten ahead of the Allied decision loop by landing so early, albeit weakly, in Crete, it’s decided to go with a cheaper and more conservative bomber effort at just Khania.  It’s got the bigger airbase and is covered with a much weaker fighter, and with 3 RE’s attacking, is a guaranteed win at 9:1 -1 as the worst odds.  Putting as many bombers as possible in central Greece, Scarpanto and at Khania could prevent an Allied troops from landing on Crete should the Allies decide to abandon mainland Greece to her fate.  Also, a simple 4 pt harassment mission at 4503 will ensure no attacks are launched by troops landing at Rethymnon, which will give the Axis another turn to fly in additional troops to support the Crete campaign come Apr II 41.  At this point, the Me110C’s have done their job since they attracted a large Allied air response and they are well positioned to return to Scarpanto to act as possible naval patrol escorts.  They don’t convert to intercept.  The Wellington 1C’s fly DAS over their own airbase at Khania.

The Axis flies massive GS across the Balkan theater, but only the mission over Khania can be intercepted, so I’ll note that here before pressing to the actual combats.  Two Ju-87R’s and the He111H4 ‘S’ code fly GS to Khania, unescorted.  The Glad there switches from CAP to intercept and then gets randomly allocated against the Heinkels.  It then proceeds to roll snake-eye’s, killing the S code.  The He’s roll a 7 for a miss.

The Wehrmacht then gets into the action, first at Thessalonike.  Das Reich, three Inf XX’s and assorted support troops assault the city from east and northwest.  Unfortunately, the southern approaches cannot get covered by zoc as the only units that could have done so were flowing to the west of the city in more critical attacks.  The city is well defended by the Greek 2nd Mtn XX, plus a flak and arty III.  Still, the odds are well against the defenders and they are eventually pushed from the city.  (8:1 -1 odds, dot city, 2 rolled for a DR.  Units flee southwards.)  The loss of the city and its port results in a number of items:  one of the two Greek full supply sources is taken, the Allied Aegean NTP pool drops from 5 to 3, the Axis pool goes first from 3 to 5, and then because Germany has intervened and there is a rail connection north, from 5 to 8.  Also, the Greek rail cap drops from 8 to 6, while the Axis Balkan net goes from 31 to 32.  More importantly, the full airbase capacity of the city is seized.  Most of the units from the east advance, as does some pos aa and an arty III from the northwest.

Following this, the assault on the Aliakmon line begins, firstly by flanking the central hex.  A full armored XXX assaults from across river into the swamp at 4611.  The defense is just a bdr X and art III, while 2 Pzr XX’s, LSSAH, 2 flak III’s, 2 aslt gun II’s assault from the river side, while GD m Inf III flanks from the northwest side.  Twelve gruppen of a/c of all flavors fly 33 pts of GS, halved, to support this endeavor to ensure maximum 9:1 -1 odds (critical, as no less than a DH is necessary to allow for the follow-on overrun of the British 1st Arm X and any survivor of this first Aliakmon battle.)  It is well that the Axis invested so many a/c, as a 1 is rolled, resulting in a DH (would have been a DR at 8:1 -1… yuck.)  The border X dies while the art III retreats to the temporarily safe town of Katerine across the Aliakmon.  All units assaulting from the northeast across the Vardar (or is it the Axios in Greece?) advance.  The assault across the river itself now begins in earnest.  Four Gebirgsjager XX’s, the 2nd & 11th Pzr XX’s, 3 III’s of engineers, a mtn eng II and a mtn commando II, plus 3 arty III’s are just sufficient to ensure the engineer mod vs the fort and ½ mountaineering effects against the wooded rough at 4612, defended by the Greek 3rd Mtn XX, the 17th Mtn XX’s cadre, and the B Lt AA III.  Two Ju87B’s and an He111H4 fly GS… if all three get buy flak the attack will go in at 6:1 -1, though the return of just one will drop the odds ot 5:1 -1, and a loss of all three would mean a risky 4:1 -1, possibly compromising the whole exploit as well.  In actuality, the flak gunners are surprised; perhaps their eyes were drawn to the virtual air armada assaulting the position to their east.  Regardless, all flak misses.  The attack is a great success (6:1 -1, fort, wooded-rough, 1/10th Eng, ½ Mtneering, 4 rolled for a DH).  The 3rd Mtn XX is cadred and then all three surviving units retreat to Mt Olympus, their only retreat location now that Axis units/zocs are on their right flank.  All c/m troops advance, as does the 5th Gebirgsjager and a few other non-divisionals.

The Italians then begin assaulting from the west.  Three Alpini XX’s (one broken down), assault and destroy an unsupported 26th Mtn III at 3601 in a 13:1 even attack (a/s from Valona, mtns, full mtneering, 3 rolled for a DE.)  Then, a limited assault on the main line along the coast goes off exceedingly well.  2nd Sfor XX, 2 art III’s, the last tanks in the Cham front and the SM Marine II assault the center of the Greek line, manned by the 4th Mtn XX.  German and Italian a/c provide 10 pts of GS to bump the odds to 4:1 even (rough, 1/10 aeca, a/s from Valona), and with a 5 rolled some vengeance is meted out for the lost Centauro XX and M/C troops (DH result, 4th Mtn cadred, retreats to 4002 to cover the road across the mtns.)

Finally, the Special Forces units on Crete attack westwards into Khania.  Even with the loss of the He111H4 S code, there is more than sufficient GS to offset the .5 DAS provided by the Wellingtons.  The attack ends up an 11:1 -1 after all the DAS, GS, para trooper and amphib ops mods, and distruption are taken into account.  The result is a forgone conclusion, but a 4 is rolled for a DE, sending the Khania static X into the pool.  The C Inf III and both para III’s advance into the hex, carrying the 2 GSPs airdropped previously.

The Ju87R’s land at Khania, where they can provide excellent naval patrol opportunities.  Other German and Italian a/c land all over northern Greece, southern Bulgaria and Albania.  For the Allies, the Bombays and Wellingtons, plus the victorious Glad F’s head for Melos.  The Greek P.24’s head for Eraklion.  Two Hurri’s and the Me110C remain on CAP over the island.  Two Italian F’s and an Me109E remain on CAP over northern Greek hexes, which will allow them to land at airbases seized in the exploit phase.

Exploitation Phase

Mostly rearward c/m units, consisting 5th & 9th Pzr, Das Reich, plus GD Lb m Inf III, 180 Lr Hv AA III, 190 & 191 Aslt Gn II’s and 612 m Art III then overrun the British 1st Arm X and the Greek G Art III at Katerine.  This springs open a gap in the Greek line, with c/m forces surging forward into the Greek rear of the Aliakmon position.  After all is said and done, GD m Inf III holds the supply line open at Katerine, 9th Pzr XX holds the north bank of the Pinios at 4812, pinning units at Mt Olympus, Das Reich and some non-divs take Larisa and its airfield (-1 rail cap to Greek, +0.5 rail to Axis), 5th Pzr XX holds 4914 just west of Larisa, and 11th Pzr and non-divs swing around the Greek rear to take Kalabaka.  To complete the encirclement (zoc) of the remaining Aliakmon units, 60th m Inf XX crosses the mtn hexside and seizes Grevena.  By this point, all Greek units in Thrace, the northern most portion of the Cham line and the whole of the Aliakmon line are isolated (and guaranteed to surrender due to Greek demoralization effects that will occur with the loss of the Brit Armor X and the reduction of the Allied presense on the mainland to less than 7 RE’s.)  Further south, LSSAH shoots the gap, takes Volos (-1 rail cap to Greece, +0.5 to Axis) and then takes the north bank of the Spherkios, guarded by just a pair of Cons Xs and a border X for the moment.  Flak units follow, one holding Volos and the other assisting LSSAH.  Finally, 2nd Pzr and the 50th Aslt Eng II exploit all the way to 4301, just northeast of Karpenesion and threatening the rear of the Greek units along the coast, as yet unisolated.  Essentially, the entire region of Thessaly is seized during exploit.

In North Africa, two II’s of armor move back from the Porto Bardiya area and rejoin the forces sieging Tobruch.  Trento abandons the Tobruch siege line and heads for the Halfaya Pass, where it is joined by units that had moved forward to the Matruh-Siwa Oasis road.  Other such units set up flanking positions southward on either side of the border.  At this point, the Axis and Allies have essentially returned to their original positions prior to Compass, except that Tobruch is held by the Allies and is under siege, while the remaining Allies have abandoned the Matruh and El Alemein areas and centralized themselves at Alexandria.

In East Africa, movements are limited given the current number of c/m forces.  The one m Inf X shifts one hex northwest along the mtn line northwest of Massaua, creating a full line from the coast at 2104 to 2105, then up the mtns to 1806 and ending at 1706, the last two hexes additionally covered by the upper Anseba river.  With supply available for defensive purposes next turn and just 11 pts in attack strength in the area, the coastal portion of the defense at 7-8 pts each stack should prevent anything but perhaps a 2:1 -1, or 1.5:1 even attack.  Doubtful the Allies will launch attacks in this theater whose success hinges on exchanges.  El Kaid will probably have to settle for knocking against the mtn line to clear the flanks, and wait for the South Africans and Colonials to clear Dessie and make their way up from the north.  Could be a long wait till Massaua falls, especially in light of the 3 a/s that have been sequestered there.  Two to three months seems a reasonable time frame for the Duca to hold out.

Following the exploit ground movement, a few more air missions are launched with as yet unused air groups.  First the Mxd B on Rodi bombs the Eraklion field w/ the Greek P.24 in residence.  The inop P.24 scrambles back to Rethymnon, and the Mxd B’s miss the now empty field.  Continued attempts by the Mxd F on Rodi to strafe the Eraklion field and a Ju88A staged in from eastern Thrace likewise miss.  At this point, with just one air unit remaining unused (less a few bombers on Sicily that have no need to brave Malta flak just to put down additional port hits of limited value), action shifts to Melos.  A group of Me109E’s stages to Khania and strafes the Melosian airfield.  The Glad’s choose not to scramble, and when 5 is rolled they are chosen over the Well1C and Bombay transports to take the hit.

At the end of the phase, the Hurricanes still flying CAP over Crete are returned to base, one to Melos and the other to Eraklion.  The Me110C returns to base on Scarpanto.

End of Turn

VPs stand at 64 to negative 2, in favor of the Axis.

APR I 1941 – Axis Balkan Surprise player turn

Initial Phase

The rules appear to stipulate that the initial and movement phases are normal in every respect, except a few exceptions that allow only German units to act in the ini & movement phases, no construction, etc.  This causes some issues, since GSP counts, construction counts & VP accumulation for other theaters would be ‘off’ with this extra ini phase.  We decide to run the admin as if the ini phase counts in every theater, but to set aside the various counts so things are not impacted (GSPs disappearing early, extra VPs accumulating due to an additional ini phase, etc.)

German 12th Army and 1st Panzer Group elements set up to the maximum ability in Bulgaria, with a few required elements in Rumania.  The Rumanian set-ups include 60th m Inf & Leibstandarte m Inf on the railroad southeast of Craiova, while two infantry XX’s and various smaller c/m units set up just across the border at 14:3103 where they can quickly admin forward into Bulgaria.  Two large inf XX’s and a pair of smaller non-divs set up in eastern Bulgaria for movement to Alexandroupolis.  The vast majority of 12th Army and 1st Panzer Group set up in western Bulgaria for thrusts into the western half of the Metaxas line.  Breakthroughs here should allow mountain and c/m units to shoot the gap between the border and Thessalonike in regular movement, allowing an assault against the Aliakmon and the swamp hex to its east.  Proper sequencing should force the big stack at 4612 to retreat to Mt Olympus, allowing a follow on exploit/overrun of the 1st Arm X at Katerine.  This in turn should see major German unit into the rear of the Aliakmon, surrounding all remaining units of the Aliakmon and some portion of the northeastern Greek front facing Albania.  With 7 allied RE’s currently in Greece, the overrun loss of the Arm X would be ‘devestating’ to Greek morale, forcing two -1 mods to the follow on demoralization roll, guaranteeing Greek demoralization and the surrender of any isolated Greek troops.  This could see about half of the Greek army surrender in the Apr II 41 turn.  At least, this is the rough outline of the German plan.

Luftwaffe A units set up throughout Bulgaria.

In supply determinations, ignoring the EA theater for now, Malta is U-4, except the flak II’s at U-3, with no GSPs available.  Tobruch is U-1 isolated, and Melos is U-1.  Axis units in the Dodecannese are U-4.  GSPs are created at all the standard locations, but in addition, 4 GSPs are created at the city of Pleven as a high volume rail line along the map 14 edge.  All Allied air units that flew missions last turn remain inoperative (only the Glad at Tobruch and a Glad at Port Sudan are available… oh, and that Audax in Iraq J).  Italian air units go operative, except the harassers, but cannot fly by rule.  One Ju88A that should transfer to Greece this turn is aborted.  Without a ruling on how this situation should be handled, we just move the aborted bomber to the Balkan theater abort pool.

Movement Phase

Fairly simple in the Balkans.  Large stacks concentrate in the four hexes facing the four western most Metaxas line hexes (with one XX limited per border hex, some limited movement was necessary to get all the XX’s into their initial assault hexes.)  Various support units and left over XX’s are along the mountain rail line to the rear leading to Sofia, as much for stacking limitations as anything else.  The eastern Metaxas is not engaged as it would be of no benefit.  In Thrace, two 8-6’s and a pair of supporting units assault Alexandroupolis (Thrace itself is not terribly important, but the airfield here is necessary as air base capacity is at a premium in Bulgaria and with the air units from North Africa about to transfer in, things could get crowded.)  To the rear in Bulgaria, one Cons III repairs the Samokov airfield up to full capacity.  After all combat calculations are complete, and ranges are calculated it would appear that one Ju87B scheduled to transfer in from Sicily doesn’t have the legs to get any further than Albania and therefore can’t fly GS.  This makes it and the He111H4 S code unnecessary in combat, so movement phase bombing missions are flown.  Each flies to Korinth and attempts to bomb the rails or RMY yard there to perhaps limit some of the access to and from the Peloponnesus.  The Ju87B misses on its long range attempt, but the He111H4 S code hits and the Greek rail net goes down one temp RE in additional to the rail hit generated.  (There was an air unit within range of the Ju87, but it was a fighter and would simply scramble away despite its inop status… and besides, there wasn’t any benefit to hitting the airfield at Larissa since I’ll want that as full as possible later.)  In the last air mission, the Ju-52 that just arrived picks up the 4 GSPs at Pleven and carries them to Scarpanto on a one way transport mission.  This will allow the Italian ‘C’ regiment to run its amphib op in the regular turn in supply.

Combat Phase

There are no operative planes in Greece available for DAS, and no flak in the Metaxas line, so GS is fairly easy to work out.  Three air units stage in from Sicily to provide GS, in addition to the Luftwaffe A units (with two units already arrived in movement and the third, a Ju88A, aborted in the pool.)  All attacks except one below are from one single hex into the named hex.  The first attack is by Das Reich, the 46th & 50th Inf XX’s, an eng III, 2 flak III’s and a pair of m Art III’s against the rough 4307, through the improved fortified hexsides of the Metaxas line against the Dodek Mtn III and a pair of Cav III’s.  Six points of GS are added to get the attack up to 8:1 -1.  However, German attacks don’t go off with quite the élan expected, and a 1 is rolled for a DR.  The entire Greek stack is retreated back to Drama to protect the rear of the eastern Metaxas and cover the FWR crossing the mtn hexside to Drama.  The second attack is a massive armor assault against Sidhirokastron (4309), in canal intensive terrain and again covered by an improved fortified line.  Defending units are the 51st Mtn III and the 10th Inf III, 1-2-6’s both.  Pushing through the fortified line are the panzertruppen of the 2nd and 11th Pzr XX’s, the 328th Art X, Gross Deutschland m Inf III, the big 180th Lehr m HAA III, the 612th m Art III, plus a lt flak and asslt eng II.  Ju87B’s, R’s, an He111H4 & Me110D provide 14 pts GS, sufficient to garner 9:1 -1 odds despite the fortified zone and poor terrain.  Still, the panzers get a bit bogged down and the 10th Inf III fights a delaying action that allows the 51st Mtn III to scamper away to the wooded rough terrain just northeast of Thessolonike (1 rolled for DH, 10th dies, 51st retreats, all Axis units advance.)

At this point, Greek radio chatter and earlier newspaper reports reveal the following:

Newsflash from the frontlines of Northern Greece….

Brought to you from the brave Allied reporters attached to the Gamma corps based in Thessalonkia

Despite massive aerial and numerical supremacy the Germans have been humbled by determined resistance along the frontlines as Greek soldiers cling to their positions in the face of a surprise assault launched by the Germans out of Bulgaria.

The troops defending the road to Drama, have so far been battered with tanks and guns and aircraft, but have fought a stubborn defensive battle as they retreat to Drama itself (26:4406)

Meanwhile at Sihirokastron our brave lads have again been forced to give ground in the face of overwhelming air power. The 10th INF III has been lost but the 51st MTN III continues its fight from the other side of the Axios (26:4409).

Our generals are saying that despite holding all of the advantages the Germans are not attacking with any vigour, they are being lazy, as if they know what the outcome will be in advance.

“Let them come we say, they will meet Spartan steel and feel the cold metal upon their flesh…..

These reports are like trash talk posted in an opponent’s locker room.  The newspapers and radio intercepts are passed about the remaining German units yet to attack, and after a few Oberst’s get sacked, the remaining units going over the top up their game substantially, as we shall see.  First, the 4308 hex is assaulted now that zoc’s are surrounding the mountain hex with fortified lines.  Defending is the Greek 7th Inf XX, the only Greek unit with a zoc in the western half of the Metaxas line, so a critical kill.  4th and 73rd Gebirgsjager XX’s plus 1 III each of engineers, arty and hvy flak assault from 4207, while the 5th Pzr XX provides enfilading fire from 4208 (more so for the RE’s to support more GS, rather than the ¼ strength due to mtns & improved fortified hex lines.)  Five Ju87B and R’s plus an Me110D provide GS, halved, but this is sufficient to get the odds to 6:1 -1 after ½ mountaineering affects are considered (large amounts of GS are provided to limit the possibility of losses to the mountain troops to 1 in 6, as the mtn XX’s will be key to assaulting the 4612 wooded rough Aliakmon line hex in the regular turn.)  The Gebirgsjager are well trained and slip around the Greek infantrymen holed up in their fort lines.  The Greeks are taken from the rear and flanks and destroyed to a man (6 rolled for a DE.)  Next, the final western hex of the Metaxas line is assaulted by a combination of Panzers and Mtn troopers.  Hex 4209, rough terrain covered by mtn and fortified hexsides is a tough nut, defended by a pair of fortress and bdr X’s, and supported by a III of arty.  Still, 9th Panzer, 5 & 6th Gebirgsjager, 2 III’s of engineers, 2 III’s of arty, an asslt gun II and a mtn eng II are sufficient to the task, though loads of GS is flown.  Eleven GS points are added by 4 a/c units, sufficient to get the odds to 5:1 -1, and given that the Gebirgsjager troops are doing so well, another 6 answers the call for a second DE, eliminating all Greek defenders and seeing all assaulting troops across the Metaxas with an open road leading into the planes northwest of Thessalonike and north of the Aliakmon.  In the final attack of the surprise turn, the various islander troops at Alexandroupolis are attacked by the 72nd and 76th Inf XX’s, an arty III and the 125th Inf III in a 8:1 -1 that requires just one Me109E in GS.  A third 6 is rolled, killing off three X’s of fortress & static troops from various Aegean islands, and clearing the airfield for Axis operations.  The loss of the port also drops the Greek rail cap to 9.

APR I 1941 – Allied player turn

Initial Phase

Weather:  A 1 is rolled in Europe, and a 2 in East Africa, so all but but the Lake Victoria area and a bit of terrain along the southern coast of Kenya go clear, with these last two remaining mud.  Further rolls indicate all sea zones are clear.

In supply calcs, for the Axis the Dodecannese remains U-4.  For the Allies, the Aus X on Melos is U-1, the Tobruch defenders go U-1, isolated now that they are completely surrounded.  On Malta all units are U-4 except the two flak II’s, at U-2.  All but a mchg II get special supply via GSPs.  In East Africa, the 21st East African X defending Soddu goes U-2, while near Addis 3 stacks (including two TC supported ones) go U-1 thanks to the 4th Col Cav X putting a zoc on the road leading northeast out of Gondar (the Allies appear to be shifting their southern forces from a southern LOC to a northern one, though so far they have not yet managed to create a single command by linking both north and south during an Allied ini phase.)

In reinforcements, Gibraltar stands up a 2nd fortress X for local defense.  At Athenai, the 21st Mtn X, the Athenai Static X, 1 Grk Mtn Rp and ½ of a res pt arrive.  The Greeks then use all three of their Mtn RPs to rebuild three 1-2-6 units, one each of mtn, inf & border troops.  In the mid-east, TF-1 and CG-1 go to “not used this quarter”, and TF-1 is repaired up to a strength of 3.  The NTP pool in the Eastern Med is likewise increased by two to its maximum of 10.  One Brit Inf RP at Alexandria is used to bring back the just recently destroyed 65th AT II.  Then, off the coast of the Aden territory a convoy arrives with 2 a/s, 2 Brit Inf RPs, ½ pt each of armor, Kiwi’s and Aussies, and the Australian 1st Eng X.  In the Indian Ocean along the south edge of the map, additional convoys arrive with 1 col and 1 Ind RP, plus 2 a/s and ½ a S.Afr RP.  The 1st South African Inf Hq converts to its ‘fully supported’ incarnation, but the conversion of the 5th SAfr X and the SEAC Cons X is delayed as the units are currently not together.  Force T in the Indian Ocean is then activated at Aden.

GSPs are created at practically all Allied and Greek supply terminals, while the only a/s point on Malta is converted to 2 repair points.  The Axis then converts the only a/s point outside of Massaua in East Africa, the one at Asmara, to 12 GSPs.  Construction of a permanent airfield at Tobruch is then begun, using the 1 RP in the fortress, to replace the temporary field currently being utilized.  We’re not sure why this was done, but clearly the Allies intend to hold the fortress and its supply line blocking position at all costs.  The Maltese repair the Malta status down to 11 from 14 with the a/s generated repair points & the one via the OB.

A few Axis air missions are then flown.  Three CR.42’s from temp fields fly back to the northwest and CAP Benghazi to keep off the bombers, or at least force night missions.  Then in Albania, in anticipation of German intervention and hoping to keep the Alaikmon not fully garrisoned, Italian bombers fly max harassment (for them anyway), consisting of one 2 pt harassment at Larisa, and a 2 and 1 pt harassment in the valley at and north of Grevena.  Finally, the Mxd B on Rodi and a host of a/c on Sicily (3x Ju87B, plus two coded bombers) are placed on naval patrol.

Movement Phase

Naval movement kicks off the turn, with attack supply being shifted about in the Indian Ocean, the 0.5 South African RPs going to Mombasa (along w/ 1.5 pts sitting in Mogadiscio), the 1.0 Col RPs going to Aden and the Indian RP going to the Port Sudan harbor.  The first special operation of the game then kicks off with the 26th East African X, Force T and 4 GSPs moving to the port of Bulhar in British Somilaland.  The 26th offloads its ANTP, while Force T preps for NGS.  Things aren’t very smooth on the landing, and the 26th ends up disrupted when a 2 is rolled, with a -1 mod for landing in an occupied hex.  This landing releases the Italian garrison in British Somaliland.  The reinforcement convoy for the Mideast travels up the Red Sea and through the canal, ending the phase just north of Port Said.  Lots of action occurs in the Mediterranean however.  With harassment and rail hits impeding, the three rebuild X’s in Athenai are shipped via sea to Thessalonike to take up its defense.  The Australian X on Melos is shipped to Athenai and then the British 14th Inf X is shipped from the Peloponnesus to Melos in the continuing round-robin beach tour.  At Tobruch, in a ‘no surprise’ move, the 4th Ind XX’s cadre boards ship and sails for Alexandria.  What is a surprise is that the 2 remaining NZ X’s in Greece, plus the HQ of the Kiwi 2nd XX are shipped back to Tobruch and formed up as a full XX.  This costs the Allies 6 more VPs, plus the 2 for retaining the X already at Tobruch, for -8 in total.  Thanks to moves in the Indian Ocean, this leaves just 1 NTP for GSP movements to Malta or Tobruch.  Four GSPs load at Alexandria, head for Malta, but the air blockade of that island this turn is simply too much for the British merchant marine to handle.  With 3 Ju87B’s and a pair of coded a/c on Sicily searching the seas for Malta convoys, the results are almost inevitable.  The first Ju87B automatically makes contact w/ the NTPs offloading more flak ammo and rations, slips past flak and registers a single hit with its 4 bombing attempts (1 column, +1 each).  The NTPs sink into the harbor (Eastern Med total to 9) and with no more NTPs available, the island’s flak guns will have to go without next turn.

Ground movement then begins.  In Greece, small units supported by artillery, interspersed with full XX’s are sent to fully main the Metaxas line.  Strength ranges from 3-5 points in each hex, so it is overrun proof.  Some of these points are made up of the recent rebuilds just sea lifted in and admin’d to the likely front.  2nd Mtn XX, a flak III and an arty III move into defensive positions around Thessalonike.  Along the Albanian front, 5-6 point hexes are built from the coast to the mountains, while to the northeast two 5 pt hexes with a 1 pt (effective) hex between them remain.  In the center, facing the Italian armored thrust, 4 and ½ Mtn XX effectives, plus two more in the main line on the flanks, are sent to countattack the Italians.  Clearly the Greeks are interested in pinching off the Centauro group and gaining some vengeance for previous losses.  This is ok for the Axis however, as this leaves the Aliakmon line less then fully manned.  The swamps at 4611 have a 3 pt def, the fort/wooded rough at 4612 gets 8 DS.  The mtns at 4613 are currently empty, but the fort/rough at 4714 has 10 pts including the Greek motorized XX, so it may exploit into the gap to fill the line.  The next hex at 4715 has a 4 pt defense, and there is a gap between this hex and the units assaulting the Centauro group.  The British 1st Arm X moves up to Trikkala behind the Aliakmon line, but it may go most anywhere into the line (not the mtn hexes) in exploit, so there’s little intelligence to be gleaned from this move.  At the Sperkios, the Greek and Col Cons X’s, plus a border X create a roadblock, and have a res pt in-hex for a quick fort build later.  At Athenai the 7th Aus XX forms up fully, garrisoning the Greek capital along with a host of Greek flak units.  To the west in the Peloponesus, the loss of the Kiwi troops is felt.  Korinthos is abandoned entirely, while Greek Eng and static X’s make up for the loss of the British 14th on Melos by joining the W Art X at Patrai.  The new 21st Mtn X takes up the garrison of Kalamai.  Barely 7 RE’s of Allied troops are currently in mainland Greece.

In North Africa, movement options are limited.  The Tobruch defenders, bullied by the arrival of the Kiwi’s, standfast against the horde of Axis c/m troops outside the fortress’s lines.  The Czech and Free French II’s at Matruh blow and remove the airfield, then catch trains back to Alexandria or the airfield at 2417 just southwest of the city.  The Polish Karp X likewise admins to the rear at 2417.  El Alamein is empty.

Down in East Africa, 6th Aus XX overruns a road block X at 1803 along the coastal drive to Massaua, then engages the next road block X at 1804.  Meanwhile, the two Indian X’s cross the mtn range into the Nacfa valley and assault the blocker X in that town.  To the rear, 1 res pt is hauled forward by SMP and a cons X moves to Mersa Taclal, probably to build an airfield within 8 hex fighter range of Massaua.  To the west, the FF Orient X and 68th Arty II overrun the Bande X southwest of Gedaraf, while an Ethiopean II plays cat and mouse w/ Italian colonials near Dinder by the Blue Nile.  Near Gondar, the other Indian X, both MMG II’s, the 4th Royal Tank II and the Colonial FB Inf II converge on the Italian blocking position in the mountains east of Gondar which is tying up the northern supply route to Dessie and Addis Ababa.  At Addis, three X’s (East African, South African and Belgian, quite a hodgepodge), with some TC support and a Cons X to boot, surround the 2 Italian X’s east and southeast of the city.  The 5th South African, SEAC Cons X and 3 a/s points converge at 7W:0105, some 60 miles southwest of Addis and create a massive supply dump.  Meanwhile, the 1st South African X and the East African Recon II converge on a point east of Soddu to help the ‘surrounded’ 21st East African X in the city.  Finally, the 27th North Rhodesian X catches the train from Mombasa to Nanyuki, then admins northeast towards one of the Italian runners in central Kenya, reaching Archer’s Post before ending its movement.

Before the end of the phase, the Desert Air Force launches limited attacks in Libya.  First, the Bombay transports attempt to strat bomb Derna, but miss.  Then, with the three CR.42’s CAP’ing Benghazi, the Well1C is forced to fly at night when it strat bombs that port.  It gets by flak with ease, but misses with a 1.

The Italian AF in Albania, seeing the threat of a possible 4:1 against the Centuaro group, flies two fighters on CAP over the c/m units.

Combat Phase

Two MC.200’s fly DAS to lend a hand to Centauro.  This should prevent a 4:1 as all a/c with any bombing strength remaining in Greece and North Africa would need to converge on the XX, and get by the two fighters overhead.  The Greek high command appears quite satisfied with a 3:1 however and launches a massive attack on the Italian tankers.  Five Mtn XX’s and four Mtn III’s assault from 4 sides, and with no AECD and full mountain effects, things don’t look great.  Even worse, a 3 is rolled for an HX, eliminating the XX and two m/c III’s at the cost of 2 III’s of Greek mountaineers.  (Mtn, mtneering.)  Well, the Italian tankers tooks some with them, and more importantly, the Greeks aren’t positioned to the east, so the sacrifice was more than worthwhile.  One Mtn XX from the rear advances into the hex, leaving two XX’s and two III’s as a second line/reserve for the Albanian front.

Combat then shifts to the East African front.  The first attack is just east of Gondar, with the unsupplied Allied troops easily managing a 9:1 -2 after two GS planes fly in support (no a/s, mtn).  The 3 rolled results in a DH kill of the single defending Italian X.  Action then shifts to the coast, where the 6th Aus XX rolls over a single unsupported and out of supply Col unit (no a/s, 9:1 -1 for a 3 rolled DE.)  The XX chooses not to advance however as there are significant Italian units to the south that might launch some sort of a/s supplied counterattack.  To the northwest, things aren’t so rosy.  The 9th and 29th Indian X’s fail to launch properly aggressive attacks into Nacfa, and the 92nd Col Inf X retreats in good order into the mountains west of Nacfa (no a/s, wooded rough, 8:1 -2, 1 rolled for a DR.)  Turning south, at Bulhar the single Italian X could likely have defeated just the disrupted 26th East African X, but with two points of NGS and another GS point provided by British Wellsly bombers, things don’t quite work out.  Instead the amphibious landing is a bit of a cakewalk despite the inausipicious beginning (EA X is ¼ for amphib, ½ for disruption, but gets auto a/s and is supported by the TF.  2 pts NGS, 1 pt GS for a 9:1 even attack, roll of 4 for a DE.)  The road leading southeast out of Addis is then cleared in a massive 8:1 even assault when 2 X’s attack the hemmed in 14th Col Inf X.  A 3 is rolled for another DE.  Finally, the north side of Soddu is cleared of the Ghim Col Inf X when the East Africans in the city and the South Africans outside launch an unsupplied 9:1 +1 attack, roll a 3 and get another easy DE.

Exploitation Phase

Naval movement is fairly quick, with one a/s of the main Mideast convoy splitting north and unloading at Kalamai outside Mxd B range on Rodi.  The remaining points and Australian Engineers offload at Alexandria.  The Indian RP from the EA theater is offloaded in Suez.

The Hurri1’s at Tobruch then decide to try some strafing practice against the MC.200’s at the forward 4122 temp field.  The Italians simply scramble away, but the Hurri’s roll a 6 and do shut down the temp field as it’s only at 1 cap.  More action then occurs in Greece.  With the Italian fighters spent on CAP over the Centuaro, the Hurri1 and Blen1 units launch airbase bombing missions against Koritsa and Egouminitsa.  Both roll lucky and a BR.20M and Z.1007b get aborted.  (Interestingly, as these two units had flown harassment they would not have been available for bombing in the Apr I 41 turn, following the German surprise turn… As it is, they now will be available, albeit at the cost of the last 2 Ital ARPs in North Africa (and the only Axis ones remaining.  The air war is getting expensive on both sides.)  The Mxd S transports in southern East Africa stage to Kenya, pick up GSPs railed to Nanyuki in movement, and then transport them to Soddu.  Now that I think about it, this may have been illegal for an exploit phase, but it could just as easily have been done in movement so it hardly matters.

In ground exploit, the Greek motorized XX does occupy the empty mountain hex at 4613 in the Aliakmon line.  The Brit 1st Arm X exploits to just behind the Aliakmon line at Katerine.  Nothing occurs in North Africa as most c/m units are dead (only the FF II near Alexandria and the recently rebuilt Spt Grp trapped in Tobruch remain.)  In East Africa, one MMG runs east from Gondar to the defended Tirare river crossing.  The other runs south from Gondar towards Dessie.  The 4th Royal Tank II heads north from Gondar, probably to help clean out the three Italian units messing about in southern Sudan along the Blue Nile, though it could catch trains to the east to help along the coast too (bit far away for that, but we’ll see.)  Around Addis, one Cons and TC are exploited into Addis, no doubt to repair the airfield.  Oddly, one X and TC combo are exploited from the northeast side of the city to the southwest side.  Lastly, the 1st S.Afr, its TC & the EA Recon II shoot from east of Soddu, along the Butjadira mountain road then around to a point 30 miles west of Addis.  From there, it would appear that movement and exploit might see them all the way to Gimma, so the Duca’s defenses east and south of Gimma are now flanked (and with no units actually in the city, it would appear likely to fall in a coup d’main next turn.  C’est le guerre.)

End of Player turn

The Axis announces that the Germans are intervening in the Balkans, despite having never brought pressure to bear on the Yugoslavians.  Given Greek moves, this doesn’t appear to have been a surprise per se, though the Germans still get their extra move & attack.  As Germany intervenes, Bulgaria joins the Axis.  Its units are set up in various towns and cities, though border hexes are avoided so as not to cause stacking issues with the arriving German troops.

MAR II 1941 – Axis player turn

Initial Phase

With the possibility of German intervention in the offing, special operations plans are reviewed, defined and planned for possible immediate execution.  First, the previous plan to land at Melos with the Italian ‘C’ Inf III on Scarpanto is cancelled.  Clearly the Allies are wise to a possible attempt to seize the Melosian field.  Instead, with the risk that the Allies might attempt to turn Crete into a bastion plans are laid to use the turn 0 intervention forces for a pre-emptive, long distance but somewhat weaker than normal strike on the island before Greek and Allied units get the chance to retreat to the island.  The C III is designated as a lead element of this force.  Ju-52 support will be available to a limited degree in the surprise turn, with 100’s more a/c becoming available once the 7th Fallshirmjaeger and its supporting elements are ready.  Given the current disposition of Greek troops in the Metaxas line and the weakness of the Thessalonike garrison, German troops could conceivable seize Thessalonike in the surprise turn.  This would make very likely that the C III on Scarpanto would land without being contacted, and before the Allies would have the chance to declare an exclusion zone around the island.  If Thessalonike is not seized, the III would still have a better than 50/50 of getting to the island unscathed.  Beaches are chosen lying between the two most prominent locations in western Crete, Khania and its 3 CAP airfield, and Rethymnon and its 1 CAP field.  With 4 III’s of paratroopers planned to be available, 2 long range airdrops are planned for the central hex, and 1 III each is planned for Khania & Rethymnon directly.  Only two may actually go since it will take 4 Ju-52 gruppen to drop each III, but planning all four allows for a certain flexibility in case reaction attempts to the amphibious operation or air drops are successful.  All this planning must occur now since it is unclear whether planning in the abbreviated surprise turn ini phase will be allowed, and clearly such planning won’t be allowed for for the Italian III.

In supply calculations, all our forces in the Dodecanese are currently U-4, as are all forces in EA.  The valiant 61st Col Inf X is also isolated despite it’s victory in the mountains near Dodola against South African troops last turn.  The Aus X on Melos is U-1, while all troops on Malta are U-4 except the two flak II’s, which are U-2.  All but the Cons X receive special supply via GSPs landed last turn.  In East Africa, the Soddu field and its defending X go U-2.  After all supply determinations, the 61st Col Inf X is given permission by the Duca Luna to retire its colors and give up the field of battle (surrender roll of 3.)

The Iraqi coup roll is a 2, as far away from a coup as possible.  Iraqi dissidents go to ground as a few of their compatriots are rounded up by British agents of imperialism.

In reinforcements, one m/c regiment is rebuilt in Albania.  This leaves just 1.5 Arm RPs available, sufficient to rebuild the Centuaro XX from a cadre status should that be necessary.  We expect to launch an attack against the Greek forces along the western coast in an attempt to open up the front line further now that Greek forces have begun to fly southwards.  In North Africa, the long awaited reorganization of 5th Army’s XX’s occurs, with 2 Inf RPs spent at Tripoli to give increased attack strength and fully supported status to five infantry divisions located across the theater (none in ZOC however.)  The last XX current under restricted movements, the 60th at Tripoli, is given authority to move to the east, though we expect to retain it for rear defense of the Tripoli logistics hub.  In air units, the eliminated CR.42 is rebuilt on Sicily (-2 ital arps, leaving 2 avail), while the aborted Ju88A is also rebuilt on Sicily (-1 Luft arp, leaving 0).  At Massaua, various sailors are rounded up from the bars along the waterfront, handed rifles and a smattering of artillery and sent to the front (supported Msw Inf III arrives for service.)  The 4th Art X, destroyed in the coastal blocking force in the allied turn is rebuilt at Massaua, then it and the 1st Col Inf Hq are combined to form the 3rd Art III (a 2-6).

The airfield at Egouminitsa completes building a turn early thanks to the change in weather (pro-rated construction being adopted as a house rule.)  The fort in Massaua is still projected to be completed on Apr I 41.  Finally, at the 18:3623 temp field 3x CR.42’s are forced to go inop leaving just the MC.200 available for operations at this 1 cap field.

Movement Phase

This phase kicks off with some preliminary air missions before any naval movement will take place.  The Mxd B on Rodi attempts to bomb the unprotected Well1C unit at Khania, but fails in the attempt.  With a Hurri1 now on Malta, air units will launch a single massive raid to bomb the island vice the series missions that have been run previously.  With no expected need to use GS in North Africa, practically every plane on Sicily or available in North Africa returns to Sicily to hit the island.  The total force includes 5x SM.79-1’s, 1x SM.79-2, 1x BR.20M, 2x Ca.133, 2x Ju88A1, 3x Ju87Bs & the He111H4 S code, escorted by the CR.42 and G.50 on the island.  Only the Me110D and a Ju87R remain in Libya, not counting some pure fighter craft.  The South African pilots rise up to defend the island and decide to take on the escorts.  The Allied planes get randomly allocated against the G.50 and both planes miss one another in air to air.  The Axis units then proceed to the rest of the mission since they have more fighter a/c in air to air and there’s little reason to give the superior Hurricanes additional chances to kill Axis airmen.  The SM.79-1’s, Ca133’s, Ju88A1’s and BR.20M head for Malta’s port while the remaining a/c strike at the airfield.  Flak is generally ineffective, though a snake-eyes is rolled against one Ju88A1 unit, aborting it back to the pool.  In Malta status bombing, 4 hits are managed.  Then, in airbase bombing, three hits are managed (1 in excess of current capacity.)  All bombers and Italian fighters return to base on Sicily.  The Hurricane’s, with no airfield available, are forced to ditch across various parts of the island, eliminating them as an effective force in a reverse of an air battle that occurred over Sirte some months ago.

Naval movement then sees one a/s from Tripoli carried along the coast to Benghazi.

Ground movement kicks off in the Balkans.  The three hexes given up by the Greeks in the mountains are taken by advancing Italian units, while a large force is gathered up for an attack against the Greek corps in 26:3803.  Construction units move into place in northern and eastern Albania to encourage Allied belief that operations against Yugoslavia are pending.  Another cons completes the repair of San G.d.Medua to further this expectation.  One a/s is SMP’d from Durazzo down to Valona however to help supply the attack against the 3803 corps.  In North Africa, the Tonini para-inf III seizes Derna and then continues along the coastal road until all road hexes are again Axis controlled.  Nearly all other forces consolidate in 4 hexes (including the one between the Aussie box and Tobruch) for the expected Battle of Gazala.  2nd Italian LtArm X does shoot easterwards, retaking the abandoned Porto Bardiya fortress.  To the rear, infantry and some artillery admin forward along the bypass and coastal roads.  Meanwhile, one cons III moves up to bring the 3623 temp field up to full capacity, while the other leapfrogs forward 4 hexes and creates another 1 cap temp field at 4122, providing the Axis with some ability to get fighter cover over Tobruch (at CAP ranges only.)   The a/s point landed at Benghazi is SMP’d forward 13 hexes to supply the attack on the Aussie XX and its supporting cast.  One point at Tripoli moves 2 hexes east towards Homs.  At the end of North African movement, the full 21st Pzr XX forms up.

In East Africa, along the coast three X’s are thrown forward to delay the 6th Aussie XX and the two X’s operating to its flank.  The main force lines up at 14W:2004, where it cannot be attacked thanks to the forward screens at 1803, 1904 and Nacfa.  The passes around Asmara are covered by single units, while to the west units at the Tirare and Mareb river crossings begin or position themselves to drop bridges leading to Adi Ugri and Asmara from the south.  Further west, one X creates a blocking position in the mountains on the road just east of Gondar.  In southern Sudan, 3 Bande and a Col Inf X continue playing cat and mouse with Ethopian II’s, while well to the west the 10th Col Inf X approaches the Mala airfield on the eastern side, and the 3dF Bande X takes Nasir.  Near Addis Ababa, two Inf X’s take up positions in the mountains and to the southeast of the city, covering the admin retreat of the Negh Cav X towards Dessie.  One pt of pos AA continues its slow attempt to get to that city.  In the Valley west of Addis, a few units still meander east and south of Gimma, two of which actually surround Soddu on its northeast and southwest sides, though they are no real threat to the city even at U-2.  The 18th Col X moves east to retake Dalle, with the 7th Cav X about 30 miles to the southeast in the mountains.  Two units continue to slog into northern Kenya and Uganda, with the 2dF Bande actually taking Lodwar in Uganda (what, no VPs for Uganda towns? Egad!)  Back in the far east, another Bande X begins blowing the bridge at Daga Bur, while a bit to the southwest the 102dF Bande blows the Gorrohai field and removes it from the map.  Finally, in the last expected SMP moves in EA, an a/s is moved 7 hexes from 10:0608 to Asmara, dropping the current SMP total in the EA theater to 6.

Combat Phase

Both the Hurri1 and the Bombay bombers at Tobruch fly DAS to the 9th Aus XX’s hex southeast of Gazala.

In the Balkans, Centauro, 3 Mtn XX equivalents, 4 Infantry XX’s, 5 regiments of arty, a pair of m/c III’s and a few supporting II’s assault the 11th and 15th Greek Mtn XX’s, supported by the D Art III.  Most of the attacking force is supplied liberally with shells (2 a/s burned, plus 1 RE ‘free’ from a third a/s point for 21 RE’s supplied in total.)  Overhead, every Italian a/c that can drop bombs flies GS to bring the attack up to a 5:1 even (a/s, rough, 1/10th AECA.)  However, the attack steps off a bit slowly and the Greek Mtn XX’s are able to use the rough terrain to good advantage, retreating in good order to the 3903 road junction (3 rolled for a DR.)  A host of infantry and artillery advance, as do the Centauro and a pair of m/c III’s.

In North Africa, things go a bit better.  The Battle of Gazala East kicks off with 2 Arm units and a pair of arty III’s assaulting the Australians rear (hitting them from the eastern flank facing Tobruch.  From the Gazala location itself, the Trento m Inf XX charges down the road, while 21st Pzr XX, Ariete Arm XX and a host of artillery units fire down on the hapless defenders from the heights to the west and southwest.  The Australians attempt to fight a delaying action but eventually the lines are cracked and the entire pocket collapses in an Allied disaster.  The survivors of the 9th Australian XX, 3rd Indian m Inf X, 7th Royal Tank II and 65th Anti Tank II are marched west to prison camps in Tripoli (4 rolled for a DH, Aussie XX cadred & all surviving units killed with no retreat route open.)  The Australian Prime Minister decries the waste of the Commonwealth troops at Gazala East while British troops where hurriedly evacuated back to Tobruch by truck.  He clearly indicates that further adventures with Australian troops will be looked upon in a most unfavorable light.  (Australian preservation rules go into effect with the loss of 3 RE’s of Aussies.)  Mussolini and Kesselring toast the victory and begin setting their sites on Tobruch and points east.

Exploitation Phase

As the Ju87R and Me110D were not used in combat, they return back to Sicily as well and bomb the Malta status.  Flak is ineffective and one hit is registered by the Stuka’s, pushing the Malta status number to 14.  In the Balkans, Centauro and 2 regiments of motorcycle troops are pushed into the gap in the allied lines at 3802.  If the mud remains in D, these units should be safe from Allied counterattack.  If the weather clears, the zoc on the east-west Kalabaka road will prevent a quicker shift of Greek troops to the building Aliakmon line.  They will also act as bait to encourage the Greek troops to remain in the west and out of the Aliakmon, should any attempt be made to attack them.  (It has long been decided that the Germans will likely intervene on the first clear weather turn in D, without attempting to bringYugoslavia into the war.  Anything that makes the eastern defenses weaker and encourages more troops in the west is to the Axis side’s advantage, even at the loss of Italian troops… the Centauro is a nice Italian XX, but it’s loss won’t be felt once 10-10 & 11-10 Pzr XX’s start arriving.  Also, Italian losses don’t count for VPs, so there’s no risk on that front either.)

In North Africa, the victors of Gazala East exploit eastwards and surround Tobruch in 8-9 point defensive stacks, brimming w/ tanks and tankettes.  The 21st Pzr sits on the southeast side of the fortress, Trento and some Tk II’s to the southwest, and Ariete and some more Italian non-divs on the west side.  Further east, about 6 RE’s form up in three stacks near the Egyptian border, with the 2nd Lt Arm X actually exploiting near to Sidi Barrani and taking ownership via zoc before returning to the Libyan side of the border.

In East Africa, the Eritrean m Inf X returns to Adi Ugri from the wooded rough to the northwest of the town.  A TC and the 22nd Col Inf X break the bridge over the Mareb river southwest of Adi Ugri.

End of Turn

VP totals are 60 to 6, in favor of the Axis.

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