Note: While playing the May 1916 turn of the Africa Theater, as part of DJ05, we discovered a modestly huge error: there is no minimum movement in Africa and we had been minimum moving freely. Under the rules, if a unit lacks the MP to enter a hex, it may not enter a hex even if that one hex movement would be the only hex it moved or fashion in which it spent MP during the phase. This certainly mattered to our results. Given both of our unhappiness with some operational decisions, neither of us felt as though resetting the theater would be a bad decision, so we reset the theater. On later review, we did not stop making operational errors in the second playing either.
JAN I and II, 1915
No African rebellions spread or increased in intensity during this bi-monthly period.
Entente forces passed the first month of 1915 defensively in northern Africa. Italian forces welcomed their mounted rifle comrades back from the isolated replacement pool but otherwise made no noteworthy moves. French forces cursed mud in Morocco and waited for dry weather and a less costly, more certain victory. In Western Sahara, French forces evacuated Timbuktu by the magic of river transportation and took up positions more than half way to Dakar.
Sanussi forces continued to expand west and southwest, their scouting forces moving to positions all around the periphery of the Sahara from which they could raid into northern Algeria or Morocco, Spanish Rio de Oro, or the northern edges of the colonies along the northern Gulf of Guinea. Only in the far west, toward Dakar, did Sanussi expansion continue across the desert with prospect of further easy advance to come. Main force Sanussi units deployed widely across all fronts, easily able to defend the new empire from attacks by local Entente forces but not massed for any significant attacks.
British and French forces continued to build-up against Cameroon in January. A French battalion invaded Cameroon from the southeast to take the far eastern city of Karnot. An irregular labor division worked its way across southern Nigeria toward the northeastern prong of the invasion of Cameroon, where it would extend the Entente supply line. Supply points continued to flow into Nigeria by ship and into Cameroon by river boat and native porter. At the front, Entente and German remained locked in positions of best advantage to maintain the pressure or the supply network, respectively.
South Africa’s defense forces made considerable progress toward suppressing the rebellion and conquering Namibia at the start of 1915. Loyal Boer trainees refilled the ranks of the first of nine eliminated loyal Boer brigades and moved into a provincial garrison. After the lone Boer unit adjacent to Johannesburg surrendered, freed-up loyal field force units completely encircled the five rebel units west of Johannesburg. Colonial British units in Rhodesia and Bechuanaland positioned themselves in the south of their colonies to best hinder any potential Boer or German move eastward across the middle of the continent.
British loss: 2 morale points for enemy-owned city in South Africa
Boer rebels mourned and rejoiced in unequal measure after New Year’s Day. Three of six units in the pocket around Mafeking surrendered during their initial phase due to being U-2 and isolated. The die-hard remainder of those units funneled into upgrading a construction regiment to a brigade (note: this may have been a rules error, upgrading in ZOC). Simultaneously, a supply point appeared in Mafeking and the Boers immediately broke it into general supply to sustain themselves for probably three months or more. The three hex pocket, being a supported brigade, an unsupported brigade, and a rifle regiment with a stray fractional manpower point, then waited, temporarily well fed, to see what the loyalists would do about the situation. Meanwhile, near the Okavango, the main Boer force remained at U-2 and unable to move. German forces provided no help to the Boers, being unable to break the siege in the south or get supplies to the force in the north in time to save the rebellion.
FEB I and II, 1915
Mud again oppressed the prospects of battle, but both sides took notable actions in February 1915. French administrators recruited an irregular unit to replace the Marins garrison of Upper Senegal Niger (North), which joined the remaining regular units in the retreat toward Dakar. Italian forces edged outward from their coastal cities, unimpressed by Sanussia forces remaining within reach of the coastal region, and ended the month holding not only three cities but also three oases near them. Sanussi forces from the Sahel edged southward, seizing several African tribal homelands and indoctrinating them to be another source of Brotherhood manpower. In Upper Senegal, main force Sanussi units came up and easily destroyed the French garrison.
Entente loss: French 0-1-6 irregular brigade
Sanussi loss: nothing
British and French forces continued to rationalize their pressure points and build-up for the main attack in Cameroon. Minimal Entente forces held defensible terrain in the southwest, northwest, and north, which forced the Germans to face off with them along the supply network road. The lone French battalion from the southeast continued to swim and chop forward through horrendous terrain toward Dzem. The main Entente advance, from the northeast, continued to receive reinforcements in expectation of attacking or overrunning something in the middle of the year, but again holding German forces pinned in front of it to maintain their supply network.
Southern and Eastern Africa
Mud continued to freeze Portuguese operations in Angola, whereas mud and insufficient forces combined to freeze every sides’ operations in Eastern Africa.
Mud protected everyone in South Africa and Namibia too; in the only notable action, a loyalist force positioned itself to overrun one hex of the rebel pocket.
MAR I and II, 1915
The return of clear weather mattered not at all in Libya, Tunisia, or Algeria, but French forces in Morocco finally continued their offensive against the Berbers in March. At Taza, French forces massed 25 strength against 4 defense and both Berbers attempted to retreat before combat: both failed. Rough terrain and Berber home field advantage balanced adverse terrain expertise and superior morale for an DH result.
Entente losses: SP
Berber losses: 1-2-6 irregular brigade
The second Berber retreated into Spanish Morocco with both Berber supply points. The French then exploited to continue their grand plan.
Berber forces replaced two 1-2-6 irregular brigades, evacuated indefensible Er Rachidia, Quarzazate, and 0478 to the South of the Atlases, and clung to their widely separated coastal strongholds and surrounded Khenifra.
Sanussi achievements in March proved the value of incremental improvement. After a Turkish blockade runner landed equipment and ammunition, Sanussi forces upgraded 1-2-6 irregular brigade to 1*-2-6 near Tripoli. The newly aggressive Italians could not be allowed to threaten the Brotherhood’s main ammunition hoard and prime recruiting grounds of Fezzan and Tripolitania. Sanussi recruiters brought an impressive three manpower points into oasis holding pens from which roving emirs could replenish the ranks of any weakened brigades. At the front, Sanussi forces cautiously continued south into Nigeria and Chad and west toward Dakar, but caution and security in the face of significant European regular forces kept both advances minimal.
Clear weather significantly shifted the balance of power in Cameroon too. The French battalion from the southeast finally cut the Germans off from the bit of their supply network that extended to Dzem in that direction. Simultaneously, British forces finally took advantage of months of strength building, supply assembling, supply line extending, and anti-Sanussi garrisoning, to attack the German defenders of Fumban. Adverse terrain expertise balanced the terrain but German morale superiority over the colonial attackers shifted the results away from DR directly onto EX.
Entente losses: SP and 2*-6 British Colonial regiment
German losses: 1-2-6 jaeger battalion
The British could neither advance nor exploit forward due to being at the uttermost end of their supply line, but they did adjust their position for optimal future action.
The Germans replaced their eliminated jaeger battalion and completed forming a construction regiment during the month. Operationally, German forces abandoned Fumban, and consolidated their position in the south. German forces occupied the triangle Duala on the northwest cost, thru Oyem east of Spanish Guinea, thru Bertua in the center of the colony, along the main road and railroad back to Duala. That region, the core of Cameroon, lay exposed to Entente attack from the northeast at Bertua or along the coast at Duala, but otherwise enjoyed the protection of the Sanaga River to its north. The region contained exactly the five connected towns necessary for adequate food and laundry services.
Portuguese forces in Angola rejoiced at the breaking of dry weather and finally attacked a rebellious tribe. The tribe had been at level-2 rebellion during February but became even more unfriendly during March and the Portuguese attack successfully reduced it from level-3 to level-2, at the cost of an SP, instead of wiping out what had been a level-2 rebellion.
South African forces took advantage of newly dry weather to overrun the rebel Boers in Mafeking. The South Africans then positioned themselves to overrun the remainder of the pocket during April.
German forces welcomed a construction regiment to the defense of Namibia.
The Royal Navy finally sunk the SMS Konigsberg during March, but German forces salvaged plenty of equipment from it and duly replaced a 1-2-7 machinegun battalion to stiffen the colony’s defenses.
APR I and II, 1915
The cautious Sanussi advance toward Dakar continued but that toward the South largely stopped, so the French attack against the Berbers at Khenifra proved the only noteworthy event of the month. French forces in overwhelming strength spent ammunition lavishly and the Berbers, unable to safely retreat, responded in kind. Superior French morale and terrain expertise mostly counterbalanced Berber home field advantage and the wooded rough terrain so that a French setback was unlikely – and they proved victorious.
Entente losses: 2x SP
Berber losses: SP, 1-2-6 and 1-6 irregular brigades
After victory over the last Berber stronghold away from their coastal enclaves, the French front line against the Berbers amounted to only 11 hexsides, down from 16 at the start of the world war and 19 after the offensive began segmenting the Berber positions. The Berbers, however, remained as militarily strong as they had been and deployed their forces much more compactly, so that offensive action no longer remained unthinkable – though it certainly remained difficult.
Sanussi forces continued to maneuver their way westward as French colonial forces cautiously withdrew ahead of them.
Mud weather almost everywhere south of the Sahel turned April into a slow month, though with a few notable events. Colonial administrators finished pushing a third division of native labor onto porter duties into northeastern Cameroon and British and French forces duly advanced to the last positions they could take before exterminating the German supply network. Portuguese forces in Angola attacked a tribe at level-2 rebellion and, despite the mud, reduced it to level-1. South African loyalists reflated another Boer brigade for garrison duty in one of the southern provinces of the Union. Its political support broken, the Boer Revolt collapsed and the movement’s military forces in the field largely surrendered – one brigade went into exile and sloshed fifty miles toward Namibia. South African forces flooded toward Namibia, quickly by rail or slowly by foot and hoof but both with conquest in their hearts.
MAY I and II, 1915
As clear weather continued along the Mediterranean Sea coast, Entente forces moved forcefully against natives and Germans alike. Italian forces grabbed the biggest headline of the month with a series of sorties that almost surrounded the Sanussi garrison of Nasirah oasis impressively then badly bungled the resulting battle. The Italian force included cavalry, light troops, and almost all the artillery and rifle units in the colony. The light units negated the Sanussi desert combat advantage and the very common 6:1 attack resulted in the very common EX result due to the very common combat roll of 1.
Entente loss: 3x SP, 1-2-7 light rifle regiment, 2*-6 colonial light rifle regiment, 1/3 morale point
Sanussi loss: SP, 1*-6 and 1*-2-6 irregular brigades while isolated
The Italians then exploited back to Zaura, Tripoli, and a couple of oases.
Further West, seven French light units Morocco by ship or boat for duty in Cameroon, where the first wave went ashore at Victoria.
In the Western Sahara and along the southern fringe of the Sahel, British and French forces took up a neat cordon defense that the Sanussi would be unable to attack usefully at any point due to mud.
Offensively, the Sanussi duly followed-up slowly the French and British, particularly in Niger Military Region – North, where the French withdrew their garrison after losing ownership of all towns and oases.
Defensively, the Sanussi sent three brigades from around the central Sahara into or toward Libya to reinforce the defense of the core oases against the strangely aggressive Italians.
Sanussi forces also recruited 3.5 manpower points, a high, a new unit of camel troops in Timbuktu, received another new unit into the replacement pool from Oudane in the far West. In Libya, to stand-off the bloodied Italians the Sanussi upgraded one each 1-6 and 1-2-6 units into 1*-2-6 strength.
Berber forces replaced 1-2-6 and 1-6 units in West Morocco.
A level-1 rebellion in Chad expanded to level-2 intensity.
A rare battalion of British regulars, scheduled to debark in Mombasa found itself shortstopped at Port Harcourt and sent up the Niger River to join the invasion of Cameroon from the northeast. The men had heard about tsetse flies and seemed happy at the change while they practiced with a newly provided battery of mountain artillery, originally manufactured in 1873 and dug out of some Boer War-era demobilization site for this new conflict.
South African recruiters sent enough reformed rebels to the ranks in May to, with the dregs of the existing depots, rebuild two Boer brigades for garrison duty. A colonial light rifle battalion simultaneously absorbed another battery of those old mountain guns. The new Boer brigades completed, again, the Dominion’s provincial garrisons with a picket line along the southern border of Bechuanaland to prevent cavalry raids from the north. The Dominion of South Africa spent May putting forth every effort toward the conquest of Namibia, both at home and at the front.
The South African invasion of Namibia went forward in two prongs to solid initial success. A lone brigade of cavalry advanced along the coast to occupy Luderitzbucht, the southern Namibian port and rail yard, and thereby formed the logistical basis for a subsequent advance into the heart of the colony. Three brigades lunged directly up the rail and road line into that heart to attack the German battalion defending Reheboth. The South Africans achieved 6:1 odds after the Germans failed to retreat before combat, but the Germans could retreat safely so they conserved ammunition and did so after a few skirmishes in an DR result.
Entente loss: SP
German loss: nothing, except the supply network broken
South African forces naturally advanced into the town while others spread out to the East and West to prevent cavalry raids from cutting off the invading army.
While white troops hogged the headlines in central Namibia, a colonial battalion amphibiously assaulted the police station in Swakopmund, the northern port of the German colony, and found it devoid of defenders. While the colonials began rounding up unemployed dock workers a powerful rifle regiment of South Africans came ashore in exploitation to truly defend the place.
The landing craft of the Royal Navy then departed for Mauritius to pick up a newly formed regiment of field artillery.
North of Namibia, the Portuguese army in Angola suddenly took notice of its peril. German troops in Namibia had no compunction about invading a neutral colony and not only lurked in position to do so strongly but also lacked a supply network in Namibia. All those natives, who the Portuguese had been busily suppressing for profit, suddenly looked like actual threats who would gleefully supply German invaders with endless food. The Portuguese thus moved away northward to the mountainous line through the center of the colony where all the area garrisons could work together for mutual defense. A casual attempt to suppress rebels near Huambo failed at 6:1 with a modified 0 combat roll.
For their part, the German defenders of Namibia lacked any good options by mid-May 1915. One supply point formed 30 general supply points, to sustain the small force for some months to come, but the colony was clearly lost. That the exiled Boers overawed a level-3 rebellion in Angola from going to level-4 proved further disheartening. Except for the slow and out-of-position construction regiment and some general supply points too numerous to cart away, German forces then sprinted northward, into Angola and to safety from pursuing Entente forces for the time being.
Tanganyika’s defenders replaced 2-1-6 heavy artillery battalion with the proceeds of the annual blockade runner from Germany. The artillery might not ever attack, but it will support various lighter units and increase the defense of the colony by much more than a single point.
Britain’s focus on everything except Uganda finally cost the Empire in May as the previously unhappy level-1 rebellion there became positively disenchanted with events and became a level-2 rebellion.
JUN I and II, 1915
After an eventful month that removed a lot of Entente units from the command, the Entente nonetheless continued its aggression in June. Italian forces kept their central threat alive but worked primarily to setup a July move to occupy Sirte, the only Sanussi port. French defensive forces organized more completely to withstand the Berbers and Sanussi in the absence of the best mobile units of the French, now gone to Cameroon, but French camel units took positions on the southern frontier and raided numerous oases, to cut back on Sanussi manpower recruitment. The Sanussi re-took those places, and continued edging toward Senegal, but would continue to lose many frontier oases regularly.
By the end of exploitation, British in the east and French forces facing Duala both stood ready for serious efforts against the static Germans in Cameroon, to take effect upon the onset of clear weather or July, respectively.
South African forces continued their frenzy in June. Four brigades of home defense militias demobilized after May’s departure of the last enemy Boer unit from Bechuanaland, so another wave of garrison jockeying consumed much effort in June. In Namibia, surrounding the German construction regiment in movement then overrunning it in exploitation proved scarcely more challenging. That overrun cost Germany its last city in Namibia and thus its replacement pool and half accumulated manpower point. Elsewhere along the front, the South Africans spread widely but strongly along an east to west stretch that would prevent German cavalry raids and somewhat retard native rebellions.
Portuguese forces in Angola prayed the Germans would leave them in peace but nonetheless split into three armed camps based on the three sector garrisons, each well provided with supply points and at least some artillery and so with some hope of bloodying, or even surviving, a German attack. Two camps, adjacent to a rebellious tribal region, combined their efforts and again failed to reduce the angry locals closer to subservience.
German forces continued to consume general supply points while taking ownership of four native tribal areas to provide them with subsistence until the Entente could invade Angola in October. Given the schedule of events and the requirement to consume general supply points first, we removed the German general supply points from play at this time.
In Europe, months earlier, the Entente took the decision to provide all foreign aid to Portugal as early as possible, rather than on a historical schedule, and thus to bring Portugal into the war in October 1915. That decision cost the Entente some equipment for its armies early in the war and eventually brought the Entente the Portuguese Expeditionary Force of two reinforced divisions (which are subject to disbanding upon a Civil War that the rules make very likely, whereas it historically did not happen). What turned out to be much more relevant was that the Germans in Angola would be vulnerable to vengeful South Africans a full five months earlier in DJ05 than they would have been on the historical schedule.
That said, it seems an unintentional quirk in the rules that Germans can invade Portuguese colonies and hide in them, safe from both from pursuing Entente forces and Portuguese reinforcements from Europe.
German forces in the East welcomed yet another new jaeger regiment to the front in June and made sure it towed two batteries of guns on its way to garrison Mount Kilimanjaro.