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Europa Games and Military History

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MARCH II 1938

Too good to be true? Sure was, and is fickle as ever: A wave of furious cold fronts has hit. Temperatures in the north have plummeted and torrential rains have pelted central and southern China. Seas are rough all along the coast.

Japanese Player Turn

A Japanese-sponsored provincial government of Honan has been installed at Kaifeng. The governors of Hopei, Shantung, and Honan now plan to discuss the formation of a regional governement of North China [see comment at end].

Don’t count your chicks before …, oh no, that was that eggs, wasn’t it? 11 Army, all posed to storm south from Yanku to take Linfen [last unconquered Honan dot city] and thereby “liberate” Shansi, had to hold their horses and buggies so as not to get stuck in mud. Didn’t get very far. Well, at least it now matters little that one entire division is still tied up restoring order in Yanku. Wait for another day! Not wait did 5 and Formosa Mountain Divisions, who defied the weather and conducted another successful guerrilla sweep in the Taiheng Mountains [3 pts eliminated].

After conferring with the supreme command, 2 Army in northern Honan opted against a Shensi offensive. Only one division pushed forward to the Shensi border to interdict the rail line to Linfen, the others were redirected toward the Yangtze [West China now no longer has a supply base as Lanchow and Linfen have ceased to be “connected.”]. One elite division was released and railed to Tunghan, where it is embarking.

In northern Kiangsu a merry chase is being enacted. A few Japanese reserve units now reinforced with more artillery are hunting down Chinese stragglers, only to find new gangs being recruited from the villages. Although the Japanese command had hoped to avoid this, it may become necessary to “pacify” the entire province to put a stop to such annoyance. [Kiangsu has a relatively high replacement rate that can be used to raise new KMT units in reference cities not yet conquered, of which there are quite a number. To conquer them is easy, but they must then be protected against recapture by guerrilleros or CCP regulars lest the new provincial government topples.]

Mop-up in the great Yangtze bend west of Nanking continued at its pace. A small KMT contingent is still holding out at the south shore of Lake Chao, its retreat route cut. Only a few stragglers now are left north of the river between Nanking and Hankow. Weather made it impossible to catch up with and
bag the greatest remaining prize: 5 Army HQ with two tank battalions and an artillery regiment that are racing for Hankow. River barges have been moved to a point upstream of Nanking so they can be used as ferries.

Severely hampered by mud, the Japanese troops facing Nanking found themselves not strong enough for a direct attack on the city. Instead, they bypassed it and reached the river on its upstream side, riding roughshod over a motley collection of KMT brigades, engineers, and factional rabble. Nanking is now completely isolated. Farther upstream, the way to Wuhu from the southeast is still blocked at Lake Ta Nan by a Corps of Chiang’s finest divisions.

On the road to Nanchang (in Kiangsi) the advance has run out of steam. Beefed up and well-supplied, the defenders are just too strong to be taken on by a single reinforced division at the end of a long, long supply line. How does one say no pasaran in Chinese? The Kure Marines stormed ashore again at the Fukien coast, seizing the little town of Putien with its magnificent harbor, easily evicting an overmatched garrison. The port will provide an excellent basis for an advance on Foochow. A serious mistake not to have had that port destroyed!

Chinese Player Turn

The respite provided by the weather made it possible to beef up the defenses of Linfen a bit more. On the other hand, the rains interfered with guerrilla sabotage in Hopei, making it ineffective.

The massed troops at the Shensi border spent most of their time glaring into empty space from their bunkers, waiting for attacks that didn’t come. Much like the Maytag man?

In northern Kiangsu, some of the hunted KMT troops went underground to form a new guerrilla base in the rice paddies near the big lakes. Now hide-and-seek has been added to the merry chase. When capture seems imminent, the hunted can just disappear from the face of the earth. It won’t win the
war, but it sure is sure fun to tweak noses of the mighty.

In the Great Yangtze bend, all but a few remnants at Lake Chao have reached the safety of the river. The debris that flooded back is being integrated into a strong defense front that follows the river from the vicinity of Nanchang to Hankow, which is being turned into a heavily fortified
bridgehead.

Farther downstream the retreat to Wuhu along the river continues, its eastern flank shielded KMT VII Corps, the victors of Lake Ta Nan, now absorbed by the reconstituted 1 Army. Another batch of supplies [GSPs] was brought in by barge from Hankow.

The garrison of Nanking stoically awaits its fate. A night air lift from Hankow brought in some badly needed supplies [3 GSPs].

At Yukiang in Kiangsi on the Hangchow-Nanchang road, a stalemate has developed. The Japanese thrust has been stopped cold, but a counterattack would require further reinforcements.

At Foochow, one brigade advanced toward the new Japanese Putien beachhead to delay any advance on the city from that direction. The best fighters of the resurrected Chinese-Soviet airforce have been stationed to cover Foochow and Amoy. They are still missing the favored I-16s, however, whose repair requires more spare parts from the Soviet Union [they were elim, need 2 ARPs for repair]. All quiet at the Canton front.

Comments

The North China regional government probably should have been installed long ago, last November. I had overlooked the geography rule 3.E.3 that makes East Hopei part of North China, letting its provincial government qualify as one of the three needed for formation of the regional government. I had gone by the Japanese Replacement Chart, on which E.Hopei is not listed in the North China puppet block. In game terms, no harm done. The Japanese would just have had one more destabilization point in January when the level dropped anyway, and would now have two or three more puppet brigades on the board. I still
feel the game works better not counting E.Hopei for the regional government, so as not to give the Japanese too much of an advantage with the stability level rolls early on. Perhaps Mark Royer will comment.

If this has short-changed the Japanese, I made a more serious mistake with my Chinese by not systematically destroying the sea port facilities in Chekiang, Fukien, and Kwangtung. In particular, the port of Putien should long have been demolished to remove a danger to Foochow. Even the ports of Swatow, Amoy, and Foochow should have been destroyed except for a 1 or 2 RE capacity to make it harder for the Japanese to evacuate their strong landing forces after a successful amphibious assault. In game terms, The Japanese can now capture Foochow with troops in supply through Putien. However, they could also easily take Foochow by direct amphibious assault, though at the expense of ResPts for landing craft.

I also see I overlooked a rule that gives the Japanese an advantage here and there, especially in guerrilla sweeps in the mountains: a +1 DRM for light divisions in attacks in some terrain including mountains. Still on a learning curve with this complex game.

MARCH I 1938

Glorious spring weather and calm seas in all of China! Too good to be
true?

Japanese Player Turn

A Kwangtung provincial puppet government has been installed in Canton’s City Hall. In the backwoods, however, Kwangtung troops under Gen. Qin Yong keep the faith and refuse to lay down their arms. The puppet government’s control is not likely ever to extend beyond Canton and its immediate vicinity and the port and city of Swatow.

The Shanghai Marines landed at Tsinkiang on Fukien’s coast. Supported by gunfire from small craft (1 RF) they easily overwhelmed the lone brigade that defended city and port. However, in the air over the city a Chinese squadron of obsolescent Hawk fighters scored a glorious victory: Evading the screen of escorts they descended like the hawks the are named for on the lumbering bombers from Formosa and shot down most of them at no cost to their own (one K). Revenge for the humiliating defeat in the air over Canton a while back!

Up north the attack on Yanku shifted into high gear. Railed forward, 11 Army HQ and the Formosa Mountain Division joined the fray. The city was surrounded and stormed, the renowned 5 Mountain Division once again in the lead. Many prisoners were taken. Perhaps no wonder after the tumultuous weeks gone by, a free-for-all of diverse factions ensued and Japanese soldiers merrily joined in [another rampage roll]. It will take time for order to be restored.

With the might of 11 Army concentrated on the attack on Yanku, only garrison troops were available for guerrilla sweeps in the mountains. Despite favorable weather they remained futile.

In northern Honan the offensive along the Yellow River continued. Loyang’s brave defenders, two elite KMT divisions and factional troops, were short of ammunition and could not hold the city [the scant supplies had been allotted to Yanku as more important]. Preparations for the formation of a provincial puppet government are under way in Kaifeng [all Honan dot cities now Japanese-held].

In northeastern Kiangsu an ad hoc taskforce of 1 Army veered eastward from its advance to the Yangtze to outflank the small contingent of Chinese that is retreating from the Old Yellow River. Isolated, out of supply, and about to be trapped, their fate seems to be sealed.

At Chao Lake in central Anhwei, two elite divisions of 1 Army caught up with a retreating KMT Corps and eliminated it as a fighting force. The way to the Yangtze is now open here, too.

At the Shanghai front the two-pronged offensive continues. In the north on the Yangtze south bank, fortified Chenchiang was stormed and Nanking, still strongly held, is in sight. Railway engineers and resources have been moved forward by river barges to cope with dismantled tracks. In the south the offensive fared less well. At Ta Nan Lake the advance on Wuhu was stopped dead by the heroic resistance of a KMT division with factional support [AS]. This small Chinese victory may gain enough time for the retreat of the strong forces still in and around Nanking.

Short of Yukiang on the Hangchow-Nanchang road, reassembled 9 Division smashed into rearguards that had blown bridges and forced them to retreat with losses (DH). However, the tempo of the advance has drastically slowed, with still 60 miles to go to Nanchang.

At Swatow on the Formosa Strait coast, 11 Division was shipped home on higher orders and was replaced by a reserve brigade, much to the furor of the local commander. However, the reservists arrived full of spunk and, with naval gunfire support, destroyed a hapless Kwangtung brigade west of the city.

Dive bombers from 5th Fleet carriers attacked the port of Amoy and sank the left-overs of the once proud Chinese Navy. Only a few coastal and river barges remain, almost all of them bottled up on the Yangtze and Hsi.

Chinese Player Turn

Having learned from bitter experience, Chiang Kai-Shek showered most of his provincial governors with gifts generous enough to guarantee their loyalty.
[2 Res Pts each except where defection would no longer matter. Since the Japanese are too short of Res Pts to counter-bribe, this ensures success].

Far up north in Shahar, the Shansi forces kept up their waiting game in the mountains in anticipation of the time when the guerrilla bases have again built up enough strength for another Tet-style offensive. However, their Muslim comrades, who had broken all rules by advancing beyond their territory, were ordered home to Ningsia and Lanchow. [I had overlooked their home territory
restriction, but no harm was done.]

In Shansi, whatever could be scraped together was rushed to Linfen [last unconquered Shansi dot city] for a last stand. South of the mountains, the covering forces west of Loyang were pulled back to the Shensi border, where the KMT and factional garrison of that province is setting up a very strong
defense to block the way to Siking.

North of the Yangtze, the few scattered remnants scrambled for the safety of the Great River. Most of them reached the vicinity of Hankow, where the remainder of the KMT elite forces has now been concentrated. Rearguards destroy all bridges.

In Nanking a strong rearguard has been left behind. All else is attempting to escape the noose by hurrying as best can along the Yangtze toward Wuhu, already threatened from the southeast. Whoever cannot make it will be trapped with his back against the river. The rail ferry at Wuhu has been destroyed in anticipation of attempts by Japanese to seize it and cross over from the north bank to link up with their brethren advancing from Shanghai.

In Kiangsi, one KMT division and artillery have been unloaded from barges at Nanchang and are on their way to stop the Japanese advance along the Hangchow-Nanchang road. Finding the Hsi river blocked by Japanese gunboats, a contingent including artillery and destined for the Canton area was disembarked at
Linchow for a long overland march to where they can be of use.

Comments

The Tsinkiang landing had been planned for February I but had to be postponed because of gales in the South China Sea. The loss of the Formosa bombers in that operation has fairly far-reaching consequences: In the initial phase the ample ARPs were reduced for carry-over, so there is no chance to
rebuild an eliminated air unit until the next batch is received in May. Moreover, the air unit in the elim box in April I will earn the Chinese 1/2 stabilization point!

After the capture of Loyang the Japanese command faces a dilemma. Should or shouldn’t they continue their offensive into Shensi in an attempt to take Siking? The trouble is that an advance into Shensi will have to cope with the very strong garrison that includes six first-line KMT divisions. A massive
army would be needed and would have to operate far from its supply base (using up precious attack supply). The troops would be sorely missed elsewhere. Moreover, they would be fighting an enemy that is tied down on orders to watch the CCP guerrilla base farther north and could be left to wither on the vine. Is Siking worth the cost?

The Chinese command has been facing its own dilemma all along. Should or shouldn’t they liquidate that obnoxious guerrilla base in order to free the substantial KMT garrison for use elsewhere? Enough troops are available, but several sweeps would be required in the difficult terrain (loess hills, -2 DRM even in fair weather), and this would seriously antagonize public opinion (one destabilization point incurred for each sweep); also, the base serves a good purpose as a safe breeding ground for CCP regulars that can then drift into Shansi and Hopei to cause grief for the Japanese or spawn new guerrilla bases where the old ones have succumbed to Japanese sweeps.

DECEMBER II 1937

Wow! That “blue northern” from the Gobi has hit! Winter weather with
massive storms has moved into north and central China with a vengeance and a
foot or so of snow in many places. Gale-force winds along the entire coast. In
the south, the monsoon season got off to an untimely early start with fierce
rain storms (weather roll “6”).

Japanese Player Turn

Oh my! The troops of Divine Wind ashore at Canton still have not secured a port and, because of the gale, “surf is up” and the landing craft cannot get to the beaches. Worse, wallowing in high swells the ships in the estuary can’t fire accurately [in storms, no non-amphibious landings at beaches even from LCs, and NGS quartered]. Divine Wind? My foot, more like a blast from hell. Well well, the best-laid plans of mice and men …… (or was that cabbages and kings??). Actually, the rain is a blessing in disguise: While having not that much effect on the fighting in the city, it will make it a lot harder for Chinese reinforcements and supplies to get through across that rail break! The troops ashore, though, don’t quite see it that way.

Despite the weather, Adm. Nagumo ordered an all-out attack, but not on the strongly defended harbor district (hit them where they ain’t!). Against weak opposition his troops seized the downtown area and the northeast. Moreover, 3 Division advanced beyond the city limits to place itself astride the railway from the interior [in exploitation], the defender’s lifeline. This may seal the fate of the city, but at a price: Ammunition is now almost completely exhausted. However, relief is in sight: The Shanghai Marines crossed the main arm of the Hsi river on coastal barges and, supported by fire from
the gunboats, stormed the river port of Sunwul [G4:4607]. [I am assuming the port to be in the hex where printed and on the great river side, not in the adjacent hex to the east into which that little arrow is pointing. The garrison missed blowing the bridge while the opposite shore was still Chinese-owned, so it could not move to the adjacent hex to block the crossing without leaving the intact bridge unguarded]. Finally a port, and the overworked landing craft can now be released. [The plan should in the first place have included a landing at Sunwul on D-Day with support from an RF if needed.] The gunboats then moved upriver to block any barge traffic from the west. Canton is now cut off from the supply net. Weather prevented any major air activities here and elsewhere.

Meanwhile up north on the Shansi border, 14 and 108 Divisions continued cleaning up around the Ladies’ Pass. By good fortune, 5 Mountain Division was close to Peiping, available for quick rail transport to south of Shihkiachuang to deal with that impertinent CCP brigade. In accustomed efficiency the 5th
wiped it out.

2. Army, hamstrung by supply problems, managed to bring forward one ammunition convoy. This made it possible to conduct a limited but highly successful operation against the west wing of the troubled KMT 1 Army: another KMT Corps outflanked and decimated. Meanwhile the Japanese 1 Army, able to rail ammunition forward after the Yellow River bridge at Tsinan had been rebuilt with help of civilian labor, concentrated on Tungshan and overwhelmed its brave defenders. The city remained quiet: too cold for rioting! [no garrison required].
[We are changing Optional Rule 44.F. The idea, based on what historically happened to Nanking, is a colorful touch, but a two-thirds chance of rampage is apt to make it occur more often than warranted. We’ll give the roll a +2 modifier. So far that would have made no difference as past rolls
never included a “3” or “4.”]

A reserve division was rushed by sea to Tunghai to prevent the Chinese from reoccupying the important ports. Another is tangling with the few Chinese brigades that attempted to advance into the open left flank of 1 Army just east of the Grand Canal.

Along the Shanghai-Nanking axis another limited attack was made and succeeded in forcing the defenders back a few miles onto fortified Chengchiang. Both sides here lack ammunition and supplies for any major operation.

In Chekiang, 9 Division force-marched toward Yungkia [major port and last still Chinese-held Chekiang dot city] and is closing up to the defenses at the Wu river gorge about 20 miles short of the city [yes, Wu, not Han as I misstated earlier]. One brigade of 9 Reserve Division continued unopposed
southwestward and reached Kinhwa, the other followed its parent toward Yungkia. An MG battalion and artillery regiment secured Ningpo and Chinhai.

Chinese Player Turn.

Gen. Wu in Canton sees his chances fade. To add to his troubles, the move of 3 Division to the Changsha rail line threatens his line of communications. As a riposte, he moved one of his precious few divisions out of the city [to G4:4107] to block a further envelopment by 3 Division and so forestall isolation [with the Hsi blocked by gunboats and 3 Division on the railway to Changsha, Canton is no longer part of a supply net, but not yet isolated as a 14-hex LoC can still reach a point in general supply traced to a port on a Yangtze tributary]. While preparing for a last stand in the harbor district and having materiel and industrial installations destroyed, Gen. Wu has ordered Swatow to be reinforced against another amphibious landing.
[Swatow is the only Kwangtung dot city, so its fall after that of Canton would trigger
the formation of a Kwangtung puppet government].

What did Marechal Foch say in World War I? My center is giving way, my right is pushed back, situation excellent, I shall attack! Alas, poor Gen. Wu has nothing left to attack with.

Meanwhile up north, Lin Piao in Hopei, unfazed by the defeat of his regulars near Shihkiachuang but deeply concerned about the plight 1 Army is in, decided to launch his long-planned Tet Offensive one month early. This is a massive effort to wreak havoc with Japanese supply lines through Hopei and attempt to topple the puppet government of that province by capture of at least one of its cities. Most of the guerrilleros from the three CCP and one KMT bases in the mountains and the canal country came out of the woodwork and are threatening to take over several weakly guarded or unguarded cities along the Peiping-Chengchow and Tientsin-Tsinan rail lines, much to the consternation
and near-panic of the local authorities. Will this coup succeed?

Around the Ladies’ Pass, factional troops too far off to join Tet have taken to the relative safety of the mountains. Also, the remnants of CCP 120 Division have been kept back as a reserve. Yanku has been reinforced by loyal factional troops (MNF).

All quiet at 4 Army [should really by 3 Army, took the wrong HQ counter], which was under no pressure and kept its positions, absorbing reinforcements sent by still loyal warlods. It was able to do so because the Japanese concentrated on hapless 1 Army while leaving only a screen to shield Kaifeng and Chengchow. This battered Army suffered further blows on both its right and left wings and is now in serious danger of being encircled. The snow slows the attackers, but impedes a retreat even more if there is no rail line or road to the rear. As a desperate measure, two KMT divisions were left
behind to delay the Japanese and gain time for the main body to attempt to extricate
itself.

The operation to push into Japanese 2 Army’s open flank east of the Grand Canal and seize the ports had to be given up. It succeeded only in compelling the enemy to divert some forces and shipping that he could have used better elsewhere.

Forward of Nanking, KMT VII Corps engineers have started to dismantle rails along the Shanghai-Nanking line. No combat actions here, but reinforcements and ammunition have been promised.

In the face of the threat posed by Japanese 9 Division, the Chekiang port city of Yungkia has been reinforced with new draftees.

Comments:

When invading a port with rivers and river ports around, as at Canton, never omit to take along your RFs and RTs. They can tread where TFs can’t and NTs can only if there is a port upstream. Moreover, once riverbanks have been secured, the RTs can function as ferries and as poor-man’s landing craft.
True, a supported Chinese division can block access to a river, but the Chinese
rarely have one to spare (artillery stacked with an unsupported division will not
do).

As the Chinese, when an invasion threatens, do take care to have either such a supported division at hand or an RF that blocks access to the river by sitting on a river hexside near the estuary (can be dislodged only by air attack).

As the Chinese, don’t forget that your engineers and construction workers can “dismantle” rail lines. It takes a little longer than just to break them, but you gain 1/3 res pt per hex and your opponent must first “repair” them and then spend 1 res pt per hex to rebuild. Not a bad deal at all!

The idea of a guerrilla “Tet offensive” is to build up massive strength, then start a saturation attack on the rail lines and cities when weather has turned poor and Japanese might has moved far out of the area. The hope is to swamp Japanese security and achieve success at least at one point. If a city (even a reference city) in a Japanese puppet province is captured, the puppet government falls and all puppet units are lost with it. The government (or another one) reappears in the next turn if all major and dot cities are still held by the Japanese, but the lost units do not return. Moreover, a strand in the rail net is cut at that point, possibly breaking the net into sections and leaving an army at the front with little or no rail capacity until the city is recaptured. Since the guerrilleros must be placed after the combat phase and not on rail lines or in cities, the actual attacks cannot be made until the next turn, however. Here, the Tet Offensive was started earlier than planned, in an attempt to stave off the threatening encirclement of 1 Army in central Honan. To see whether the guerrilleros were already strong enough to achieve the planned saturation, we must await the next Japanese turn.

The game map of the Canton area does not quite correspond to the maps I have seen (e.g., in Encyclopedia Britannica), but sure makes for challenging play. And then, I’ve never been there myself, my maps are all more recent, and floods may have seriously altered the lay of the land after 1937-41. I suspect the Hsi road bridges really are ferries. Anyone with first-hand knowledge?

Jan 1941

I Jan 1941

Significant forces arrive via Aquaba to support the Palestinian Guard, which is bolstering its line on the Egyptian border. With a bit of supply an armored force breaks into Palestine and isolates much of the PG’s line (4:1; +3AECA: DE). The pesky armor west of the Nile is finally eliminated as the supply situation is gently being curtailed (11:1; -3 AECD: DE).

II Jan 1941

The line falls back to stay in supply and communications with Haifa. The first Allied counterattack of the campaign pushes back a Libyan Division with arty support (2:1; +3 AECA, -1 ATEC: DR).
The Italians break the center of the PG’s line, this time surrounding the most powerful contingent of the PG’s line, a heavily armored force carrying supply on the Mediterranean coast (4:1; +3 AECA, -1 ATEC: DE). The Italians surrounding the British are unsupported to the north and northeast.

Year Analysis, 1940

Yearly analysis: 1940

Our rule modifications have significantly changed the game, definitely adding more flow as well as an advantage for the attacker. Although some might think the change in the supply rules were the biggest change, I tend to disagree. Tobruk and Alexandria were opened as soon as possible as supply terminals and began generating supply immediately. This, coupled with naval transport coming from Sicily and a high Malta rating would have helped the supply situation of any Italian forces. Also, the Axis commander used SMPs and his Engineer and parachute brigades to enhance the movement of supply east. It seems to the British that supplies arrive just in time for every offensive, and luck is certainly favoring the Axis. The rule allowing roads to be built anywhere certainly made a huge difference as the Italians could attack quickly and effectively instead of waiting around for Operation Compass to roll over them, although I don’t see how it is “unfair” other than in the way the campaign historically panned out. A road from Oasis de Giarabub to Siwa Oasis would have been quicker than one through Halfaya, and might have been more helpful.

The main reasons this game has departed from the historical is twofold. First, a vicious Italian attack into Egypt rather than allowing the debacle at Sidi Barrani allowed a huge advantage, which in my opinion was possible if difficult to logistically manage. The second reason was tactical brilliance, and when I say this I mean incredible dice rolls. I swear, these dice must have been weighted in favor of the Axis. The wonderful first attack on the center of the WDF’s line in late September and the abysmally failed attempt to free the captured forces early next October gave the Italians not only the upper hand in momentum, but perhaps the entire war. Had this campaign panned out historically as ours had the Germans my have been able to attack the USSR through the Caucuses much more easily due to the element of surprise in June of ’41, as well have secured the middle east oil fields and perhaps even the support of Turkey and some French. Of course, whether the 10th Army succeeds in making this possible is yet to be seen

December 1940

I Dec 1940

Little remains to stop the 10th Army now. Troops are aligned opposite of Ismalia, but the southern third of the Nile remains undefended due to a lack of forces.
The pocketed armor force still can’t be eliminated due to severe lack of supply. It is tying down most of the Italian infantry reserves, and with Libyans and Egyptians still securing the south crossing the Nile is a risky proposition. Not one to sit by while a risk could be taken, the Italian commander again commits his armor to swinging behind the WDF’s line by crossing the Nile at its undefended point to the south, making their supply situation untenable. Mussolini concedes to the Italian commander’s request for more aid and allows units of the 5th Army to be placed under 10th Army’s command. A division books it east to join up with forces in Egypt. Thanks to an Egyptian infantry brigade all Nile cities are Axis, with Port Safage to fall by Christmas.

II Dec 1940

The WDF (as of Christmas the Palestinian Guard, or PG) falls back to just west of Palestine due to a Libyan motor brigade threatening supply. With some supply in Haifa, now a supply terminal, and reinforcements beginning to arrive the Palestinian Guard may be able to initiate effective counterattacks early next year.
Unsupplied motor forces push a contingent of the PG into Palestine (4:1; +3 AECA: DR), although the Italian CinC expected better. The armored force just west of the Nile is still proving to be a thorn in the Italian’s side. 10th Army receives a second division from the 5th in Tripolitania.

November 1940

I Nov 1940

CinC Middle East evacuates his staff from Alexandria to Haifa, leaving a small, unsupported garrison cornered in Alexandria as the remainder of the WDF, an armored brigade with artillery support, retreats towards Cairo. The Middle East is attempting to form a cohesive line on the Suez Canal since hostile Egyptians are already east of the Nile. Egyptian units who haven’t joined the Axis are eliminated by the British, along with an Axis Egyptian Light Armored Brigade which is overrun.
The last supply available for most likely some time allows the Italians to take Alexandria (9:1; -1: DR), although the British manage to destroy the vast majority of supply in the city before surrendering. An Egyptian brigade moves south along the Nile at full tilt to take the cities there for the Axis as the 2nd Libyan Motorized Brigade moves south of the Quattara Depression. Infantry columns close in around the armored force remaining west of the Nile.

II Nov 1940

The small armored force west of the Nile can do little to break free thanks to Italian ZOCs everywhere. The Suez defense is strengthened, although Italians, Libyans, and Egyptians are only 16 miles away and the line only covers about the northern two-thirds of the canal.
Thanks mainly to supply captured in Cairo by Egyptians, the 10th Army sends an armored task force to take Ismalia (5:1; +3 AECA, -1 ATEC: DH). The armored force just west of the Nile is finally surrounded up against the Delta. Supplies and troops are struggling to reach the front so Alexandria is opened as a supply terminal to be fully effective by December. The Italian Commander, pleased beyond belief of his army’s success, moves his headquarters into Alexandria as well.

October 1940

I Oct 1940

In an attempt to extract the surrounded portion of the WDF, both those inside and out of the Italian noose attack the same point, an unsupported Italian armored force. The Italian tankettes and Libyan truck-borne infantry manage to not only hold off the outside force but also convince the surrounded forces to surrender! (3:1; -2 AECD: AR) The 10th Army remains almost unscathed while the WDF is reeling and most likely will be unable to stop the Italians at El Alamein. The British’s mere presence in North Africa is now at risk. Parliament asks Australia who’s side they’re on, but is quickly rebuffed, reminded of a similar but much more costly encirclement earlier this spring.
10th Army stays on the WDF’s heels, forcing back units based around the 4th Indian Divisional Headquarters before proudly marching into El Alamein proper (3:1; +3 AECA: DR). The Sicilian Air Force bombs Malta into complete submission (up 3 to 15). In what is perhaps the first good news to befall the British all campaign, Royal Navy destroyers engage a fleet of undefended Italian supply ships and sink or force the crew to scuttle each one.

II Oct 1940

Little can now be done to stop the Italian onslaught. The line east of El Alamein doesn’t even reach all the way to the Quattara. The CinC Middle East concedes to his commanders that the Axis may very well reach the vital Suez Canal by Christmas. Preparations are made for a general retreat into Palestine, signaled by Haifa being established as an Allied supply terminal.
In a reenactment of the Battle of El Alamein (last turn) the same forces continue their duel to the end of the month. The Italians manage to again pull off a resounding success, opening the Nile for their occupation (3:1; +3 AECA: DE). The 10th Army surrounds the remaining armored force east of El Alamein but can’t quite close a gap to the southeast. Libyans and some armor surround Alexandria via Damaphur. Some Egyptians join the Axis cause, including some in Cairo that take the capital for the Axis, destroy the British supply terminal, and capture some valuable supply. The Sicilian Air Force (all Axis bombers) fly to Albania and southeast Italy for the upcoming invasion of Greece.

September 1940

I Sept 1940

On the early morning of September 9th, 1940 the Italian 10th Army based out of Cyrenecia, Libya advances into Egypt on a wide front. Infantry and artillery columns march full speed along the coast while armored columns advance further south. A Libyan motor brigade takes Siwa Oasis before sweeping north to join up with the Italian motor pool and some artillery just south of Mersa Matruh. Italian infantry stops just short of Matruh but is unable to attack before the WDF reacts. Construction begins on a road from Oasis de Giarabub to Siwa Oasis. A massive Italian bombing force based in Sicily commences its campaign on Malta, reducing its effectiveness (by 3 to 9). The Italian merchant marine begins shipping AS to Tobruk, flooding the port with supplies. Tobruk is also opened as a supply terminal and is predicted to be effective before the end of the month. The Italian commander, pleased at his situation and forecasting victory, moves his permanent headquarters to Tobruk as well, which has now become the lynchpin in the Italian supply effort, although supplies stockpiled at Tripoli begin movement east as well.

II Sept 1940

CinC Middle East orders his units in Matruh to hold their ground, seeing the Italian supply lines are dependent on the road junction their. As reports come in from the field, however, the massive show of force by the Italians has pushed back the WDF already. The CinC therefore commands his motor pool in reserve at El Alamein to move up and support a solid defensive line from the Med to the Quattara Depression about 50 miles wide. Fighters based in Matruh fly to Alexandria.
Despite some supply troubles, the Italians stay close on the WDF’s heels. As soon as the WDF turns to fight the Italians attack in a display of both overwhelming force as well as tactical brilliance (6:1; +1 AECA: DE), breaking the center of the British line entirely. An incredible display of artillery only assists British logisticians in destroying supplies needed by the Italian troops. In a stunning display of bravado, the Italian commander allows his motor pool to continue southeast to the Quattara, cutting off almost half of the remaining WDF but also being in the tenuous position of no support. Supply continues flooding Tobruk and is sent east as quickly as possible, aided by the newly completed Oasis de Giarabub-Siwa Oasis road. Fighters jump forward to Matruh airfield to provide cover for the advancing 10th Army. The Sicilian Air Force again does significant damage to Malta (up 3 to 12).

Analysis – or “What went wrong”

From the Axis players point of view I honestly thought up until May II had the game in the bag, particularly after the devastating attacks on the American forces in Algeria and the British infantry in Tunisia. unfortunately I neglected the fact that the Allied player had lots of RPs available. I also deluded myself into thinking I could hold the line west of Algers. Unfortunately the terrain just isn’t suitable for this, especially once the weather becomes clear again. I had spent much of winter
constructing a series of forts running along the reasonable terrain from Bougie to Bordj bou Arreridj. In retrospect I should of headed there in about March, but I didn’t and paid the price getting caught in the open (rough?) by the Allies. This shortened line and better terrain could have freed up a couple of units to back up the Gabes Gap line and prevented the explosive motorised movement that occurred in May in Tunisia. This failure to provide a wicket keeper to the troops in Gabes meant disaster when the gap was breached.

Oh well, next time I’ll get to be the Allied player and kick some butt.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the reports.

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