Historical – MUD, Germans fall back to the Gustav line & Allies slowly get to Naples and Foggia

A mega Axis stack builds up in front of Messina: (1st SS, HG and 16th Pzr) which forces an HX on the northern US stack (44pts). With Sicily now an American airbase, air support isn’t a factor (despite another LW Strat Call-up), but that’s now 6 US divisions cadred or lost in the past 2 turns!!

Seeing the imminent arrival of Mud looming, the Allies have plotted a desperate assault on the narrow neck of the Calabria peninsula. (Actually, truth be said, they had an abortive double invasion of Elba & Gaeta, but the losses were so bad, we rebooted from start!) The Brits land on both the northern (3619, 3720) and southern coast (3719). They are heavily supported by all 5 Task Forces, and the last call-up of the Carrier Group, which proves its worth: The southern Regiamarina intercepts South Force, and the Albacore deals out 4 hits and the US fleets finish the job. However, Roma sinks several LCs (no NTs of course – that would be too easy!!)

Elsewhere, 108pts of GIs storm Mt Etna (18pts) in a bloody assault (EX) and the British planes leave only 2 REs of port access in Corsica. Quite a few Axis units are now out of supply in Sicily/Calabria and Corsica and both sides’ air forces have been heavily battered. Let’s hope there’s enough Allied air power to hold up the British landings.

Mud arrives in Oct II. The Germans call up their Strat fighters and cover the British landing hexes with aircraft – as do the Allies. Obviously, the stakes are high here. I do expect to lose one stack – sinking those LCs had a huge impact in getting the follow up waves on the beach. In a bold move, Derek decides to throw it all at two hexes – to open the supply lines to the, not inconsiderable, panzer forces in Calabria; most surprisingly he targets the biggest stack of Poms – 28 points with 13 AA. With 30+ air battles over the hexes there is surprisingly little debris – but then the FlaK and ack-ack open up – and pieces of planes fly off in all directions! As expected, the small stack falls (with an EX), but in an all-too-familiar theme now, against slim odds, so does the main British stack – to a DR thru ZOC result! The Queen is not amused. How the hell can we redeem this disaster!?!!?!

With only 6 LCs now left undamaged, amphib invasions are cancelled, as the dilemma is now do we throw more Poms into the grinder, or pull the survivors out? It’s only getting harder – mud, then rough seas will arrive; the SS corps will garrison Messina against all-comers, so we throw more boyo’s in. The landings are unopposed, but AGAIN the LCs lose half their complement to damage on friendly beaches! All the TFs are deployed to support the attack across the mountains into 3819. An EX is rolled – not ideal, but it puts Calabria back out of supply again. With four LCs remaining only a paltry reinforcement can bolster the lads.

Elsewhere, the Corsican ports have been hit by bombing missions – there’s only 2REs of capacity left, and the NFs are patrolling Ajaccio airfield (Bastia was bombed out). The Yanks grind into Milazzo – there’s only the cape hex and Messina itself now held by the Germans. Derek is playing well – most losses are coming off the Germans, and disbanding all the Italian artillery is keeping a shallow Replacement Pool. But it looks grim for the Calabrian British: probably a game-losing amount of losses could happen next turn – although we can pile virtually 80% of the Allied fighter complement over their hexes. Hmmmmm…..

OK, giving Derek the moral victory, I agree that the Calabria debacle is right up there with Gallipoli on the Very Stupid Ideas scale. So after a couple of hours fiddling, we rewind the situation back to the end of the German Oct I turn to replay the British half of the Allied turns.