Europa Games and Military History

Month: July 2011

Jul I 42

Allied Turn

It’s Christmastime in July for the Allied player in the Western Desert with an Air Cycle and plenty of reinforcements and replacements pouring into the Mid East Command. This game turn may mark the beginning of a period of steadily increasing strength and quality for the British 8th Army during the second half of ’42, perhaps historically climaxing with Montgomery’s late ’42 offensive. Just for starters, the Allies receive two Br 3-2-8 arm X reinforcements. He also spends 3 new arm REs to bring on-map the “full” Br 8th 4-3-8 arm X in the ME Forming Box. Later the Allied player says he intends to upgrade it next turn to a 5-3-10 arm X. He also rebuilds the supported Br 7th mot inf X that was overrun on the game’s DC at start May II 42 Axis turn. Later he says he does this with the intention of assembling both the broken down Br 1st and 7th arm XXs to 1942 full strength 8-7-10 units during the exploitation phase. This still leaves a Br 3-2-10 arm X, three lt tank IIs, the old Br 2nd arm XX’s motorized support group, and one of the two Br 6-4-6 arm Xs in the western Egypt British defensive zone facing the Afrika Korps. The other Br 6-4-6 arm X is part of the Tobruk garrison. There are also in Egypt this turn three Br 1 RE motorized transport counters. The Allied player also uses Indian REs to replace the overrun Ind mot anti-tank X and the supported Ind inf X that was eliminated at the ridge hex at 4818. The supported Ind inf Xs occasionally mentioned in the game reports are part of the Ind 5th Inf XX. In the turn’s air cycle the Allied player tallies up 12 ARPs, meaning he can spend up to 4 ARPs per turn this air cycle. At the same time he has enough remaining unused ARPs to qualify for ¾ VPs per the WW Western Desert VP schedule. The old Hurr 1 guarding the Suez Canal is converted into a tank busting 2D and rebased closer to the western Egypt defensive zone. With the new ARPs he takes the P-40E from the ME eliminated air box and from the aborted box the P-40C and the Bftr 1C. The Bftr is then converted to a 6C per the WitD Allied OB and then transferred per the OB to the Med Anti-Shipping Box.

In the movement phase the Allied player moves the 66RPC const X to Sidi Barrani to begin repairs next turn at the smashed up airfield there. He may have intended for it to begin a 2 turn fort build at hex 2218 east of El Alemein, but probably feels that right now repairing the Sidi Barrani airfield in western Egypt more important. Another Ind inf X transfer from the off-map NE Command per the WitD Allied OB admin moves from Iraq to northern Palestine, and the famed 2nd NZ inf XX rails down from Syria into Egypt to the coast road hex at 1519, having finally been released this turn from the Levant garrison. The Gk 3-8 mtn X guards the coast road/rail hex 2318 (just west of Alexandria) from a possible though unlikely Axis surprise para-drop attack on Alexandria, just in case. This area is often devoid of Allied fighter cover and is a possible target hex of a ’41 or ’42 Axis special-op para-drop if the Axis player knows that the Allied player usually leaves Alexandria lightly defended. In the naval movement segment at the start of the movement phase, the Allied player naval transports gsp’s to Cyprus, Malta, and Tobruk. A SM79-2 based at 4618 on sea patrol and escorted by the Me 110D goes after the Allied shipping at the all-sea hex 19A:0707, due north of Sidi Barrani, the last daylight all sea hex on the sea lane between Alexandria and Tobruk. The110D is eliminated by an intercepting P-40E, but the SM79 sinks 2 gsp’s and returns to base. With the Axis sea patrol used up the Allied player then waltzes a step of attack supply into Tobruk. The Allied player’s long-range “desert rat” Br lt arm II, now at Axis U-1 supply status, limps at half mot movement rating to 4329 at the end of exploitation. Though annoying, the Axis player so far hasn’t begun chasing it. In the exploitation phase the Allied player scores another port hit on Derna, effectively closing this important Axis port with three hits. Then the Allied player begins a series of tedious airfield bomb runs against the 5-odd Axis airfields (four of them temporary) between Derna and Tobruk, returning them to base prior to the bombing mission as soon as the Axis player does interception. The intent is to make some good Axis fighters inoperative, then go after them while parked at one of these bases. This trick worked several times in the Crusader game played earlier, but the Axis player is lucky with having all his fighters bunched into the area and, having seen the trick before, is careful in his choice of interceptors. This time the plan comes to naught.

Since the end of the Axis Jun I 42 turn, a kind of “no man’s land” exists between the Axis front line bunched up around Tobruk and due south of it to 4819 or 4920 and the 8th Army’s western Egypt defensive zone originally standing at Sidi Baranni and at the permanent airfield on the Tobruk-Matruh rail hex 0819. During each player’s turn care is given to gain hex control of the coast road, Bardia, and the road going to Giarabub, thus per WW/WitD rules denying the other side admin movement on the roads or port use of Bardia. On the Jun II 42 turn the Axis player finally has the time and available motorized movement to begin wrecking the Matruh-Tobruk rail line from the rail head at 4818 (per the DC at start Allied OB)to 0502 in far western Egypt On the Jul I 42 turn the reinforced and emboldened Allied player moves forward the western Egypt defensive zone to the coast road hex 0519 and the rail line hex 0620, each hex containing an 8-7-10 Br arm XX and a host of additional motorized elements. A secondary rearguard force is stationed at Sidi Baranni and 0819. The Axis this turn has the 21st Pz XX at 4918, east of Tobruk and the 15th Pz XX at the road hex 4920, along with a host of other Axis units in each stack. Hex 4919 is unoccupied, but the Ju87Ds provide 5 harassment hits at both 5018&5019, thus protecting the Areite arm XX (plus some other units) at the ridge hex at 4818 overlooking Tobruk and the It arm cadre, the 90th Le mot HQ unit, the 0-8 Afr const unit, and the 1-cap temporary airfield basing a MC202 at 4819. Somewhat like jungle tigers, both sides bare their large armored “canines” to each other, threatening attack. And the Allied player is ready for bear, with at least 12 attack supply steps on the map. Four are at Tobruk at the turn’s end, four are in Alexandria, one at the forward hex at 0519, one at Sidi Baranni, and two near El Alemein at 0620. This Allied turn the Axis has 5 attack supply steps in Libya.

German Turn

The Axis player feels he has little choice this turn but to attempt an attack against Tobruk. They have only this turn and the next to try and gain the +30 VPs for Axis control of the Cyranacia. Moreover, the three hits at the airfield at Sidi Barrani now make it more difficult for the Allied player to send fighters over the besieged improved fortress, and on the Jul I 42 Allied turn they didn’t optimally rebase their remaining fighters in Egypt for Tobruk’s defense. As mentioned in Game Report #4, the difficulty in a successful attack is Tobruk’s 29 defense factors and the improved fortress defense modifiers, especially the -1 die roll without the use of engineers. If the Axis throws in everything on the map he possibly can and even with every Axis air unit with a tactical bombing strength of 1 or better getting through, they are still well below a 3 to 1, and must settle for an unacceptable 2 to 1, -1 die roll. A raunchy 3 to 2 straight up die roll is possible if the It aslt eng II is used and a fair amount (eg., over half, close to 2/3rds) of Axis tactical bombing units (assuming every available bomber and maybe a couple of fighters flying a tactical bombing mission are thrown in) make it through the 7 flack factors and Allied DAS is kept very close to 0. This is not a battle of choice, but a battle of necessity, a necessary war game risk due to the slow but steadily deteriorating Axis position in the Western Desert during the second half of ’42.

But at the start of the Axis player’s turn, he can momentarily turn away from the troublesome battle confrontation facing him and ponder the turn’s air cycle, reinforcements, and replacements. With the 3 Ger ARPS per turn the Axis player replaces an aborted Me 109F4, the Me110F, and a Ju88A4. With It ARPs an aborted SM 84 and even a MC200 is replaced, and an eliminated SM79-2 is moved up to the aborted box. During the naval movement segment the Axis player gets all the Ger and It arm REs and all his ground unit reinforcements sea transported across the Cent Med. The Malta status is currently 9. Using their three 1942 Axis special-op Ju 52s brought in last turn, he airlifts one of the attack supply steps to the 3-cap permanent airfield at the cost road hex 2629 by the Gulf of Sirte. The Axis turn reinforcement Ju 52 airlifts in 1 Ger and 1 It inf RE into Benghazi. By the end of the Axis naval transport segment there are in Libya 2 It inf REs, 3 1/2 It arm REs (the 1/2 RE was a Ger aid transfer done the last turn), 5 1/2 Ger arm REs, and 4 Ger inf REs. The Axis player hopes next turn to be able to flip the It 3-8 133 Lit arm cadre to full strength. Remaining in the mainland Europe off-map holding box is 1 Ger inf RE and the other attack supply step for this turn. However, the Axis player must withdraw the It BR20M night bomber, and for the first time since the game’s start, does no Malta bombing. This turn everything must be thrown into the Tobruk assault.

Because the Allied player is experienced, aggressive, and playing his kind of game, eg., knowing he’s gradually gaining strength ascendancy, the Axis player feels he needs to carefully plan out the attack on Tobruk. The assault OB is carefully crafted around the 1/10 ratio for the It aslt eng II. Both Pz XXs, the 90 Le mot inf XX, two It hvy flk IIs, the Lw mot hv flk III, the mot anti-tank II, and every Axis art unit on the map are adjacent to Tobruk. The 0-8 Afr const III’s dash into Bardia along with a stout defensive force is abandoned this turn because of the impending Tobruk attack and its unknown outcome. Instead, it increases the 1-cap temporary airfield at 4819 to 3-cap, then moves west to 4719 and builds a 1-cap field there. The It const III builds a 3-cap airfield at the coast road hex 4718, just west of Tobruk, but won’t participate in the anticipated assault. Plans are made for the possibilities of an EX result or an AR result and the issues of the placement of the non-motorized artillery and what to do in the exploitation phase. The Axis player feels like he gets a small break at the end of his initial phase when the Allied player decides to send two of the Wellingtons and the Blen 4 on a harassment mission to 0421. This means less Allied DAS later in the Combat Phase.

In the Axis Combat Phase the Allied player reveals how determined he is to hold Tobruk even in the face of fighter disadvantage and a not completely hopeless (for the Allies) straight up 3 to 2 Axis attack by throwing in all five available bombers on DAS and with only 2 escorts, a P-40E and the Bftr 6F. This mission force faces a swarm of eight good Axis intercepting fighters over Tobruk. At the end of the movement phase the Axis player might have used CAP to throw in over Tobruk up to two MC 200s and the Re2001CB, but elected to use them for the GS mission to hopefully jack up the attack factor. In the air combat two Me109F4s face the two Allied escorts and the rest of the interceptors go after the bombers. Two Wellintgtons and an A-30 are aborted, and the US B-24D5 is eliminated. Air combat with the bombers aborts a MC202, but an A-30 gets through and it also gets through the Axis attacking flack factor of 3. In the GS segment the Axis player gets 25 tactical bombing factors through (halved at combat for the improved fortress) the port’s flack with just a Z1007B aborted, but the final tally is just 1 ¼ attack factors shy of a 3 to 2 attack, so declines to attack at 1 to 1. From one perspective the A-30 has saved Tobruk this turn from attack. Like Lee in retirement or Donnetz at Spandau prison, he mulls afterwards if maybe he should have sent some or all the three aforementioned fighters on CAP over Tobruk instead of on the GS mission. For consolation the Axis player doesn’t have to expend the two attack supply steps he would have had he proceeded with the attack.

By the turn’s end it seems more probable that the siege of Tobruk will be protracted and not a quick fall into the Axis lap. No doubt in the near future the game’s unfolding 1942 “second” protracted siege of Tobruk will in addition feature some kind of Axis maneuver east towards the Bardia/Halfaya Pass vicinity or even farther eastwards towards Sidi Baranni. Two big Axis attacks during the WW Western Desert campaign’s Cauldron saga epoch have failed to bring Axis victory in the Gazala/Tobruk zone. The first was at the game’s Jun II 42 Axis turn Desert Cauldron start, when the big Axis attack resulting in a DR at 4619 failed to bag them a sizable “Gazala pocket” of prime Allied units. The second was this turn’s aborted Tobruk attack when the air situation was momentarily somewhat favorable for the Axis. A third factor perhaps contributing to the somewhat currently favorable Allied game position was maybe the Allied player’s “Auchinleck skedaddle” on the Allied Jun I 42 turn, rather than, perhaps like Ritchie historically, opting to attempt a second Allied close-in desert front line stand, perhaps in this war game extending due south of the improved fortress. However, the Axis side is still undefeated and so far has suffered no ground unit losses. For two turns he’s inflicted what might be called Allied air battle defeats in the sky above the besieged fortress. Though facing a dark horizon in the future of the Western Desert campaign, the game “ain’t over yet,” and the Axis player still hopes for maybe a not-too-bad VP outcome in the WW Western Desert campaign. For the Europa Association’s Total War fans who may think the WW II African desert campaign a “small potato” second-rate substitute, this Europa war gamer reassures, like an Afrika Korps Maxmillian Schnell to Brando in the movie “The Young Lions,” that “I should be in Russia! But I am here.”

Jun II 42

Allied Turn

Once again in the Western Desert, like in the spring of ’41, the British army is facing Rommel’s Afrika Korps with the Allied military forces split: the isolated and besieged force at Tobruk on one hand and farther eastwards beyond the Halfaya Pass an Egyptian defensive screen on the other. This turn the 8th Army’s defensive stand in Egypt is essentially on the two transportation lines one hex westward of the Sidi Barrani hex (w/ a fort and permanent airfield) and one hex west of the permanent airfield at hex 0819. The fort and two airfields are per Desert Cauldron (DC) at start OB. This positioning puts the British Egyptian defensive force under the air umbrella of strong Allied fighter and DAS protection and for the time being out of range of most all Axis fighters. They are also just within striking distance of the easternmost Axis ground units besieging Tobruk. This turn the farthest east Axis airfield is a freshly-built 2-cap temporary field at the coast road hex 4618, two hexes west of Tobruk. In the ’42 epoch, however, the Allied air strength is almost entirely focused in the Egyptian zone whereas in the spring of ’41, in the Wavell epoch, the then much weaker Allied air was split between the Western Desert and Greece. This time at Tobruk, now U-1 in the Allied initial phase, it is the South Africans who are holed up and not the Aussies, who, after Pearl Harbor, have largely moved out of the Western Desert save I believe for a lt tnk II, a P-40E fighter unit, and the 9th inf XX doing garrison duty in Syria along with the NZ inf XX, three const Xs, and the FF 3FL 1-2-6 inf X from the French Forces in the Levant section of the WitD OB on p. 6.

In the El Alemein vicinity this turn the Br 8 eng X begins construction of a two turn fort at hex 2120, where the previous Jun I Allied turn it had moved to and built a 3-cap temporary airfield. On the coast road one hex east of El Alemein the 66RPC const X, resurrected last turn from the replacement pool, begins construction of a one turn permanent airfield. At the El Alemein fort hex (per the DC OB) elements of the Ind 10th inf XX recently arrived from the off-map NE command stand guard. As the Allied WitD OB has the Ind inf units arriving from the NE, the Allied player brings in some by sea using his Eastern Med naval transport and also sometimes by admin moving them 16 hexes from the westernmost Iraq hex into Palestine and ending up at the secondary rail line hex 4506 in Palestine. The WitD/WW rules may perhaps be vague in exactly how the arriving NE Ind inf unit NE transfers come into play on the Europa maps used in a WW Wesern Desert scenario. In spite of the recent Axis advances in the Caldron battle zone, the Allied player still enjoys the luxury of a bristling arsenal in the Egyptian Delta zone. Here basks the famed 4th Ind inf XX, the Greek mtn X and the Yugo inf II, and old Br Hurri 1 air unit guarding the Suez canal ports from Axis VP port strat attacks, the old Br Bombay air unit, four pos flk units here and there, the other Br hv AA X, an odd Ind inf X or two, and a stack of attack supply counters and one remaining resource point. Even at Cyprus on map 20A the Allied player has kept the supported 7th Ind inf X (from the DC at start OB) and added the 1-2-6 Sudanese DF inf X reinforcement. Each turn gsp’s are shipped or air lifted (by the Bombay) there for supply. The reason for a Cyprus force is for defense against a possible big Axis 1942 special air-op there. The Axis player is known to sometimes actually do such things. Gsp’s are also shipped each Allied turn to Malta, from Gibralter and also from Alexandria and Suez.

Back in the Western Desert war zone, the British player this turn is not intending for the siege of Tobruk to degenerate into a sleepy headed “midnight at the oasis” yawner reminiscent of the second half of ’41, and instead plans what he hopes to be a nasty little riposte against the goose stepping Axis aggressors. Around Tobruk the Axis has wrapped around on all three landward sides of the improved fort hex. On the eastern hex at 4918 are the 21st Pz XX, the 90th Le mot inf XX, the mot lt flk II, and one step of attack supply. On the ridge hex at 4818 poise the 7-6-8 Areite arm XX, the Lw 135 mot hvy flk III, and two art IIIs. One hex south at the 4819 road hex are the 15th Pz XX, the 135th mot inf III, two art IIIs, and an attack supply step. Nevertheless the Allied player boldly sallies forth and bellies up to the Axis desert front line with most all the 8th Army motorized elements poised in the Egyptian defensive zone at the turn’s start. Both Axis front line hexes at 4918&4818 appear in peril with Auchinleck’s British armor in front and a powerful Tobruk defense garrison at their backs. In the combat phase the Axis player sends DAS with escort to both hexes, but some Axis fighters still remain at their bases. When the Allied GS segment comes the anxious imperiled Axis desert front line ground forces look skyward and see the A-30s and the DB7B (and some other bombers) fly past them overhead proceeding farther westwards to, of all places, the coast road hex 4718 west of Tobruk. The sly and experienced Allied player has once again pulled a “rope a dope” on the Axis player! Here is a motley crew of Axis ground units, including an It 3-6 inf XX, the DC at start It 3-8 133rd arm cadre, an It hvy flk II, an art III, and the Ger mot anti-tank II. In the ensuing melee an escorting Bftr 1C and an intercepting Me110F are aborted. At the time of the combat roll the besieged Tobruk garrison expends one of their four attack supply steps and roll at straight up 3 to 1 odds and come up with a 1: NE. The Axis player breathes a sigh of relief and in his exploitation phase the Allied player moves his 8th Army motorized forces back to the previously mentioned defensive zone in Egypt.

In the meantime, like a little pack of furtive desert rats, a Br 1-10 lt arm II slinks westwards far to the south of Tobruk and ends its exploitation at 4728. This is a small indication that for now the Allied player feels he has enough arm and inf RP’s coming in to conduct often suicidal attrition operations such as this to force the Axis player to chase after it.

Axis Turn

Nowadays the only singing going on in the Axis side of this game are the wistful tunes of “Lili Marlene.” Gone is the initial game exuberance and excitement of the early Caludron battles and the three overruns, the ensuing Auchinleck skedaddle, the crushing DE of the Allied “sacrificial lamb” stack at the fort hex at 4919, and the menacing encircling maneuver around the improved fortress Tobruk. Well, what caused this Axis “change of tune” in the war game? Among several long term Axis game problems, a preliminary analysis of the WW Western Desert Scenarios’ Victory Conditions and VP Schedule reveals that it’d be good for the Axis side to capture Tobruk by the end of the Jul II 42 Axis turn and thereby gain +30 VPs for control of the Cyrenacia. Right now this seems to be a pipe dream, at least by the end of Jul II.

The problem of the Axis capture of Tobruk (in the Jun II-Jul I-Jul II 42 time frame) is the 29 defense factors there and the -1 to the die roll for Tobruk being an improved fortress. Can the Axis player somehow juggle the single It aslt eng II into the equation at a 1/10th factored ratio and still come up with decent odds? By the way, when earlier stating the Allied units present at Tobruk back in Game Report #2, I accidently omitted the presence of a supported 2-8 Ind inf X there. Anyway, this turn the Axis player takes a hard look at the battlefield reality of a Tobruk assault and, throwing in the It aslt eng II and every Axis artillery unit on the map, plus somehow at least 15 GS factors (halved against the improved fortress) getting through the 7 Allied flack factors present, plus somehow shooing off any Allied DAS or interceptors, the best the Axis player can hope for is an attack die roll at straight up 3 to 2 odds. There’s 2 chances for an AR, two chances for a NE, one chance of an EX, and one chance of DR. The Allied player has three attack steps at Tobruk, meaning he can routinely keep it in supply for three Axis turns before starting to roll for elimination due to lack of supply while isolated, assuming he doesn’t bother to try to sea transport any there in the meantime. At first thought, the 3 to 2 die roll seems to be an unacceptable game risk and a wiser choice might be a protracted campaign of maneuver (kissing goodbye the +30 VPs for control of Cyrenacia), somehow safely occupy perhaps the Bardia/Halfaya Pass hex vicinity, build maybe at least 2 or 3 airfields there to provide fighter cover for Axis sea patrols (remember in WW sea transports can go 10 naval MPs at night, avoiding daylight sea patrols), and then hope to starve out Tobruk later on in the fall of ’42. Even this turn the Axis dares not march into the unimproved fort Bardia hex and stay, for fear of an Allied attack with GS and fighter cover during their turn or another Allied riposte coming out of Tobruk against a weakened and spread out Axis siege force. The closest Axis const unit is at the 2-cap temporary airfield built last turn at hex 4618 on the west side of Tobruk. The 0-8 Afr const III will have to do a difficult and dangerous maneuver round the Allied improved fortress and later dash into Bardia with a stout Axis defensive force along with some flack. The ’42 Allied defensive covering force just in front of Sidi Barrani is much more powerful than what Wavell had in ’41 and is a dangerous menace to any Axis stack outside of ample Me109F and MC202 fighter cover or straying too far eastwards from the bunched up Axis desert front line currently around and to the south of Tobruk.

The Axis player now realizes that maybe one reason the Allied player committed so many ground units at Tobruk was precisely to deny the Axis player Jul II 42 control of the Cyrenaica, or perhaps at all in the present game, and so decides to play on this angle this turn and try to ruse the Allied player into thinking he will in fact attack Tobruk now and hopefully throw in his air over the fortress so far from Allied fighter cover, thereby maybe giving the Axis fighters the chance for a “turkey shoot” in the interception segment of the Combat Phase and then maybe later some Axis air attacks against Allied bases full of inoperative air units during the Exploitation Phase. The Axis has two more turns after this turn to capture Tobruk and something may happen to increase the attack odds there.

During the Axis initial phase the Axis player reveals a surprise special air-op planned at the game’s DC start and activates three Ju52s from the 1942 Axis Special Forces Pool for a -3 VP penalty. Their intended use is to airlift mainly attack supply counters from the mainland Europe off-map holding box to the Western Desert, most likely to the DC at start permanent airfield at coast road hex 2629 in the Gulf of Sirte. During the Axis turns they would be doing a one-way regular transport mission twice their printed movement rating to a Libyan airfield, then fly a transfer mission back to the mainland Europe off-map holding box the first opportunity early each Allied movement phase. The permanent airfield at 2629 is remote from the Spit 5s at Malta and for the time being is probably safe from Allied bombing attacks from Egypt. The Axis player does have to garrison the field with the It 1-8 136GF inf X to protect it from Allied Desert Rat attacks and places an It 0-8 lt flk II there just in case the Allied player decides to do some dicey long distance tactical bombing against the transports.

During the movement phase the Axis player first moves the 0-8 Afr const III to 4819, two hexes south of Tobruk, where it can still build a 1-cap temporary airfield. This poises it for a dash into Bardia the Axis Jul I turn. The It 0-6 5A const III marches all the way up to the coast road hex at 4718, just west of Tobruk. This is as far east as it can go. The Axis player intends for it to build a 3-cap temporary airfield there the Axis Jul I turn and it would be poised later on to either build a fort there in case a long term siege of Tobruk begins to unfold or else begin the difficult maneuver around Tobruk. By the way, the other available It const III is in the Axis replacement pool per the DC at start OB and the Axis player hasn’t the at start It inf REs to build it. Meanwhile, the Axis shuffles his ground units around Tobruk as if preparing for a Pyrrhic attack. Then, in order to draw fire, the Axis player sends two Me109Fs on CAP over Tobruk near the end of the movement phase. They are too far off for interception during the combat phase and CAP can’t be flown during the combat phase. Then the Axis player says he believes it’s the beginning of the Axis combat phase and asks the Allied player if he wants to perform any DAS missions. The Allied player has taken the bait and throws in almost all his bombers on DAS and a few long legged fighters as escort. The Axis player throws in a hornet’s swarm of Axis fighters flying interception along with the two Me109Fs flying CAP and wins a big air battle over Tobruk. An A-30 and a P-40E are eliminated. The Bftr 1C and a Well 1C are aborted. A Me 109F is also aborted over Tobruk. In the exploitation phase the Axis player sends his unused bombers to the permanent airfield at Sidi Barrani to bomb the airfield and the inoperative units based there. He rolls good and aborts the P-40C, a Hurri2C, and the DB7B, also giving the airfield 3 hits. The Axis player feels good at the end of his turn, but knows that the Jul I 42 turn is a big reinforcement and replacement turn for the Allied player and will be able to rebuild much of his losses

June I 42

Allied Turn

Even at the beginning of the turn it’s obvious the Allied player isn’t comfortable with the situation in the Cauldron battle zone. There are now no Allied air units based in Libya, neither at Tobruk nor the nearby Desert Cauldron (DC) at start airfields at 4818 or 5018, nor at the field at 0319 by Halfaya Pass. The three P-40Es, the P-40C, a Hurri 2C, and the DB7B are based at the DC at start fields at Sidi Barrani (0718) and the airfield at 0819 on the Tobruk-Matruh rail line. The Well 2, a Well 1C, and the Blftr 1C&1Fs are based at either Matruh (1318) or at one of the four other DC at start fields along the Matruh-Alexandria coast road/rail line. To the surprise of the Axis player, who has feared an Allied counter punch this turn, the Allied player does what might be called an “Auchinleck skedaddle” and scoots out most of his ground forces from Libya, save at Tobruk and the adjacent southern fort hex up the ridge at 4818. Inded, in the Allied initial phase the Axis player uses the two Ju87Ds and a SM79-2 for harassment to protect the southern flanks of the extended Axis desert front line “chicken neck” extending eastwards and ending just before the stony desert area to the south of Tobruk. During the Allied movement phase the three aforementioned Libyan airfields are removed from the map, leaving the vacant Tobruk airfield the only Allied one left in Libya. The Allied player later says the more he looked at the Axis forces’ strength, the more convinved he became that holding a desert front line in the Cauldron battle zone only invited heavy Axis attacks with probably at least fair odds each Axis turn.

A very large garrison is left at the improved fortress Tobruk which includes the 1st and 2nd SA inf XXs (both 7-8s), the Br 0-2-8 hv flk X, a pos flack unit, the 64RPC con X, a Br 6-4-6 arm X, two Br 3-8 art Xs, and four attack supply counters. The Tobruk hex and the adjacent ridge hex at 4818 essentially contain the red coats that were adjacent to Axis units with ZOCs and therefore couldn’t move out of Libya and were left behind “on their own.” I of course sang the appropriate stanzas of J. Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans,” but I assure pro-Allied Association members that I soon stopped after further analysis later on.

All is not bleak for the Allied player. In his initial phase the Desert Rat attack per Rule 37F gets a good die roll on the WW success table and inflicts a hit on the unguarded at start Axis airfield at 4218 (just east of Derna) which also aborts a Me109F there. In the exploitation phase the Allied player sends a Wellingtion and all three A-30s (at extended range) to the Erakleion airfield on Crete and gets a hit, also aborting a SM79-2 based there. Wellingtons also score a strat bombing hit on the important Axis port at Derna and jack its port hits up to 2, on top of the game’s at start 1 hit per the DC set-up.

Axis Turn

In the initial phase the Axis player spends one ARP to rebuild the Me109F aborted last turn. He uses a rigid priority schedule where good fighters are almost always brought back first, then later bombers. At the game’s DC start both the Germans and Italians had 6 ARPs. Now they’re down to 2 Ger ARPs and 3 It ARPs. If at all possible, both will retain at least one ARP up to the next Jul I 42 air cycle so as to have an initial ARP total of 9 and thereby each be entitled to spend up to 3 ARPs per axis initial phase in the subsequent air cycle turns. This turn in the desert zone the Axis has three Me109F3s, two MC202s, the RE2001CB, two Ju87Ds, a Me110D&F, a MC200, three Ju88A4s, a CR42AS, and a MC200. Based at Tripoli are the BR20M and a He 111H, and at Crete are a SM79-2 and a G50bis. The Axis aborted and eliminated air boxes are chock full of smashed up Axis air units, whereas the Allied air boxes have few damaged air units. This same trend was evident in the Crusader game played earlier.

Although still superficially on the offensive in the MTO, the Axis player inside feels the Allied player is in a strange way calling all the strategic shots in the theater. At Malta, with the arrival of the Spit 5s, the Axis air abandoned a continuation of the major air offensive there and instead reinforced the Afrika Korps air in the desert war zone. Faced with last turn’s Auchinleck skedaddle, the Axis player has no other choice but to hurl its strength against the “sacrificial lamb” stack at the fort hex 4818 south of Tobruk. Here stand the Br 50th 7-8 inf XX, a supported Ind 2-8 inf X, and a Br 3-8 art X. Although Tobruk and hex 4818 block any significant further Axis eastward penetration, the Allied player sends a large array of hasassment into the Tobruk vicinity. Still, it’s easy for the Axis player to surround the ill-fated Allied stack on five sides. The Allied harassment has only lessened the amount of available DAS that turn. The Axis player throws in a large amount of GS to jack up the attack odds, hoping thereby to avoid exchanges, and attacks with pretty much everything he’s got, except that he expends only two attack supply steps to give only 20 REs full attack strength in order to conserve attack supply in the face of increasing supply problems as the Malta status number gradually goes against Axis Central Med shipping. He wins big with a DE, giving the Axis renewed hope after the May II 42 Axis initial turn fisasco.

At Malta the BR20M and the He111H get lucky and score night strat bombing hits for the Malta Status, but the He111H is aborted upon landing after a night mission. Both fly back to Tripoli to be out of range of the Spits the Allied turn.

Africa Theater, December 1914

Note: Due to a significant error in rule interpretation, the Africa part of the game was reset in December 2015 and completely replayed. this turn report it therefor obsolete.

After a six year hiatus in real world play, during which our war in Western Europe progressed almost one year of game time and far surpassed in date the activities in Africa, the DJ group resumed its grand campaign of Over There with play in that dark theater in June 2011. Unfortunately, the hiatus left us woefully ignorant of the theater-specific rules while setup, eating, and child self-mutilation contributed to a relatively unproductive gaming session.

Few details of the dramatic events of December 1914 in Africa will make it to the world press – the raging Great War is orders of magnitude fiercer in Europe – but events dramatic there were regardless. In November, the Sanussi erupted into the broad Sahara Desert, flipping two of three units of French Touaregs to the Brotherhood’s side and one each raising and beginning to organize units of rebellious tribesman from particularly large oases in the deep desert. In December the French struck back feebly, a couple of battalions of camel riders threatening a lone battalion of Sanussi and encouraging them to retreat safely before combat. Italian forces, meanwhile, continued to hold strongly on to Tripoli and Sirte and to contest a couple of oases near those cities.

French forces continued to manhandle Berber tribesmen in Morocco in December. French attacks pushed the Berbers out of the coastal lowlands in August and from their easternmost stronghold in September before an elite force of Frenchmen swung south of the Berbers to trim the southern edges of their region in October and November. Now, in December, the same French struck against the Berber stronghold a hundred miles southeast of the High Atlas, where the well-paid Grand Caids continued to hold court – separating the rebel Berbers into two distinct regions. With the aid of a strong pincer from coastal Morocco, the inland force struck at grid 0479. All of the defenders attempted to flee, unwilling to lose the only stockpile of ammunition available in the southwestern pocket should events go as predicted, and half the Berbers did escape with all of the supplies. The remaining defending “unit,” without much ammunition, fell easy prey to the French, who thus subdivided the southwestern Berber pocket into one tiny and one large area.
French loss: supply point
Berber loss: 1-6 irr [X]

In West Africa, a lone and quite minor rebellion among tribesman in mid-nowhere did not even slow down the continued exodus of Entente units from the region for duty in Cameroon and France. Some residents of frontier towns throughout the region began to report distant dust clouds over the Sahara and to wonder who would protect them from the Sanussi horde with the European garrisons at minimum levels.

In East Africa, the struggle between low excitement and high trepidation – no combat but high fear of tsetse flies – continued apace. In November, British vessels withdrew a bit of force from Kenya and in December the strong remainder simply began to move to positions in which they could shield the colony from any serious aggression; both sides lack the ability to do much more. In the west and south of the area, British and Belgian forces sat passive in their garrison regions, too fearful of rebellion in their rear for their local political partners to allow the field forces to move either forward or back. Portuguese reinforcements continued to arrive in Mozambique, to prevent rebellions like those threatening the viability of Angola and its grossly insufficient garrison. The only real excitement in the theater came from insects, as South African railroad engineers and native laborers moved to build a railway from the south to connect to the Belgian river transportation network; the bugs sickened many but work would begin on schedule.

The struggle for Cameroon proceeded with as little adrenaline as did that for Tanzania, but events in the former pointed toward a much more imminent climax. French forces, just a couple of battalions, finally reached the southeastern border of the colony after collecting in and marching forward from French Congo and Gabon. British forces from Nigeria simultaneously collected on Cameroon’s northern border and well inside its northeastern corner. French units from West Africa, landed in Nigeria earlier, pushed forward into coastal Cameroon. Widely spread and grossly outnumbered German forces could only watch as their supply source – their network of friendly towns – was about to fall apart even as the weather was about to turn clear.

It was in the South Africa Theater that events in on that continent leapt forward with both Sanussi-like vigor and Cameroonian decisiveness. The Boers had revolted early in the war and been decisively crushed after the catastrophe of their attempted coup de main in Johannesburg; by the end of November, the last three Boer brigades had fled to Upington on the border of German Southwest Africa. While a small German force met the Boers at the border and the politics of the situation prevented good cooperation between them, the larger German force threatened Portuguese Angola and supported rebellious tribesmen there. British forces both followed the Boers from the south and invaded South Africa’s empty new colony (the name Namibia was kicked around) amphibiously. By the end of November, the German supply network collapsed, German forces near Angola fled eastward toward Tanzania, and the Boers and Germans in the south hunkered down to make the British pay in the media for having a city in South Africa being held by the Central Powers. In December, the British consolidated the situation, hemming the Upington pocket – virtually guaranteeing its quick surrender through lack of food if a more immediate destruction in combat was deemed unwise, the Germans enjoying one supply point for seven and a half regiments in the cauldron. Elsewhere across South Africa and its dependencies, the thin coverage of garrison units shifted in preparation for returning to civilian life and protecting themselves from Germans and natives in the meantime.

The German and native ripostes to Entente aggression proved broadly unexciting in December 1914. Berbers in Morocco and Germans in Cameroon and East Africa merely shifted their positions to meet as well as possible apparently overwhelming Entente threats. Some wager, however, that the Berbers will remain almost as strong for years to come and certainly East Africa is unlikely to be seriously threatened until late 1915.

The South Africans having seized every German town in Southwest Africa, the colony’s defenders fled. In the south, a cavalry regiment and artillery battalion consolidated with the Boers at Upington and broke their supply point down into 30 general supply points, exactly enough for four initial phases. In the northeast, the stronger German force, about three regiments and with further supplies, splashed further toward Tanzania on a trek that will be epic and, for the British rail construction effort along the way, may be unfortunate.

The Sanussi explosion seemed anti-climactic in December. The vastness of the Sahara and absence of opposition rendered only distantly interesting roving columns of camel-mounted irregulars imposing an anarchic will on oases along a two thousand mile arc. The only French-loyalist Touareg regiment in the region did not escape destruction in December as it had in November, but otherwise the Sanussi merely moved potentially useful forces to within distant striking range of British and French garrisons in Algeria, Mauretania, northern Niger, and northern Nigeria. Strong Sanussi units meanwhile pinned the solid Italian (even the phrase caused some laughter) defenders of Sirte and Tripoli against the strand, able to move a bit but not to join together, reach Tunisia, or really threaten their besiegers.
French losses: 1-0-7C irr [III] (one suspects that the foreign special replacements from this unit will end up in a Legion Etranger regiment somewhere)