With the possibility of German intervention in the offing, special operations plans are reviewed, defined and planned for possible immediate execution. First, the previous plan to land at Melos with the Italian ‘C’ Inf III on Scarpanto is cancelled. Clearly the Allies are wise to a possible attempt to seize the Melosian field. Instead, with the risk that the Allies might attempt to turn Crete into a bastion plans are laid to use the turn 0 intervention forces for a pre-emptive, long distance but somewhat weaker than normal strike on the island before Greek and Allied units get the chance to retreat to the island. The C III is designated as a lead element of this force. Ju-52 support will be available to a limited degree in the surprise turn, with 100’s more a/c becoming available once the 7th Fallshirmjaeger and its supporting elements are ready. Given the current disposition of Greek troops in the Metaxas line and the weakness of the Thessalonike garrison, German troops could conceivable seize Thessalonike in the surprise turn. This would make very likely that the C III on Scarpanto would land without being contacted, and before the Allies would have the chance to declare an exclusion zone around the island. If Thessalonike is not seized, the III would still have a better than 50/50 of getting to the island unscathed. Beaches are chosen lying between the two most prominent locations in western Crete, Khania and its 3 CAP airfield, and Rethymnon and its 1 CAP field. With 4 III’s of paratroopers planned to be available, 2 long range airdrops are planned for the central hex, and 1 III each is planned for Khania & Rethymnon directly. Only two may actually go since it will take 4 Ju-52 gruppen to drop each III, but planning all four allows for a certain flexibility in case reaction attempts to the amphibious operation or air drops are successful. All this planning must occur now since it is unclear whether planning in the abbreviated surprise turn ini phase will be allowed, and clearly such planning won’t be allowed for for the Italian III.
In supply calculations, all our forces in the Dodecanese are currently U-4, as are all forces in EA. The valiant 61st Col Inf X is also isolated despite it’s victory in the mountains near Dodola against South African troops last turn. The Aus X on Melos is U-1, while all troops on Malta are U-4 except the two flak II’s, which are U-2. All but the Cons X receive special supply via GSPs landed last turn. In East Africa, the Soddu field and its defending X go U-2. After all supply determinations, the 61st Col Inf X is given permission by the Duca Luna to retire its colors and give up the field of battle (surrender roll of 3.)
The Iraqi coup roll is a 2, as far away from a coup as possible. Iraqi dissidents go to ground as a few of their compatriots are rounded up by British agents of imperialism.
In reinforcements, one m/c regiment is rebuilt in Albania. This leaves just 1.5 Arm RPs available, sufficient to rebuild the Centuaro XX from a cadre status should that be necessary. We expect to launch an attack against the Greek forces along the western coast in an attempt to open up the front line further now that Greek forces have begun to fly southwards. In North Africa, the long awaited reorganization of 5th Army’s XX’s occurs, with 2 Inf RPs spent at Tripoli to give increased attack strength and fully supported status to five infantry divisions located across the theater (none in ZOC however.) The last XX current under restricted movements, the 60th at Tripoli, is given authority to move to the east, though we expect to retain it for rear defense of the Tripoli logistics hub. In air units, the eliminated CR.42 is rebuilt on Sicily (-2 ital arps, leaving 2 avail), while the aborted Ju88A is also rebuilt on Sicily (-1 Luft arp, leaving 0). At Massaua, various sailors are rounded up from the bars along the waterfront, handed rifles and a smattering of artillery and sent to the front (supported Msw Inf III arrives for service.) The 4th Art X, destroyed in the coastal blocking force in the allied turn is rebuilt at Massaua, then it and the 1st Col Inf Hq are combined to form the 3rd Art III (a 2-6).
The airfield at Egouminitsa completes building a turn early thanks to the change in weather (pro-rated construction being adopted as a house rule.) The fort in Massaua is still projected to be completed on Apr I 41. Finally, at the 18:3623 temp field 3x CR.42’s are forced to go inop leaving just the MC.200 available for operations at this 1 cap field.
This phase kicks off with some preliminary air missions before any naval movement will take place. The Mxd B on Rodi attempts to bomb the unprotected Well1C unit at Khania, but fails in the attempt. With a Hurri1 now on Malta, air units will launch a single massive raid to bomb the island vice the series missions that have been run previously. With no expected need to use GS in North Africa, practically every plane on Sicily or available in North Africa returns to Sicily to hit the island. The total force includes 5x SM.79-1’s, 1x SM.79-2, 1x BR.20M, 2x Ca.133, 2x Ju88A1, 3x Ju87Bs & the He111H4 S code, escorted by the CR.42 and G.50 on the island. Only the Me110D and a Ju87R remain in Libya, not counting some pure fighter craft. The South African pilots rise up to defend the island and decide to take on the escorts. The Allied planes get randomly allocated against the G.50 and both planes miss one another in air to air. The Axis units then proceed to the rest of the mission since they have more fighter a/c in air to air and there’s little reason to give the superior Hurricanes additional chances to kill Axis airmen. The SM.79-1’s, Ca133’s, Ju88A1’s and BR.20M head for Malta’s port while the remaining a/c strike at the airfield. Flak is generally ineffective, though a snake-eyes is rolled against one Ju88A1 unit, aborting it back to the pool. In Malta status bombing, 4 hits are managed. Then, in airbase bombing, three hits are managed (1 in excess of current capacity.) All bombers and Italian fighters return to base on Sicily. The Hurricane’s, with no airfield available, are forced to ditch across various parts of the island, eliminating them as an effective force in a reverse of an air battle that occurred over Sirte some months ago.
Naval movement then sees one a/s from Tripoli carried along the coast to Benghazi.
Ground movement kicks off in the Balkans. The three hexes given up by the Greeks in the mountains are taken by advancing Italian units, while a large force is gathered up for an attack against the Greek corps in 26:3803. Construction units move into place in northern and eastern Albania to encourage Allied belief that operations against Yugoslavia are pending. Another cons completes the repair of San G.d.Medua to further this expectation. One a/s is SMP’d from Durazzo down to Valona however to help supply the attack against the 3803 corps. In North Africa, the Tonini para-inf III seizes Derna and then continues along the coastal road until all road hexes are again Axis controlled. Nearly all other forces consolidate in 4 hexes (including the one between the Aussie box and Tobruch) for the expected Battle of Gazala. 2nd Italian LtArm X does shoot easterwards, retaking the abandoned Porto Bardiya fortress. To the rear, infantry and some artillery admin forward along the bypass and coastal roads. Meanwhile, one cons III moves up to bring the 3623 temp field up to full capacity, while the other leapfrogs forward 4 hexes and creates another 1 cap temp field at 4122, providing the Axis with some ability to get fighter cover over Tobruch (at CAP ranges only.) The a/s point landed at Benghazi is SMP’d forward 13 hexes to supply the attack on the Aussie XX and its supporting cast. One point at Tripoli moves 2 hexes east towards Homs. At the end of North African movement, the full 21st Pzr XX forms up.
In East Africa, along the coast three X’s are thrown forward to delay the 6th Aussie XX and the two X’s operating to its flank. The main force lines up at 14W:2004, where it cannot be attacked thanks to the forward screens at 1803, 1904 and Nacfa. The passes around Asmara are covered by single units, while to the west units at the Tirare and Mareb river crossings begin or position themselves to drop bridges leading to Adi Ugri and Asmara from the south. Further west, one X creates a blocking position in the mountains on the road just east of Gondar. In southern Sudan, 3 Bande and a Col Inf X continue playing cat and mouse with Ethopian II’s, while well to the west the 10th Col Inf X approaches the Mala airfield on the eastern side, and the 3dF Bande X takes Nasir. Near Addis Ababa, two Inf X’s take up positions in the mountains and to the southeast of the city, covering the admin retreat of the Negh Cav X towards Dessie. One pt of pos AA continues its slow attempt to get to that city. In the Valley west of Addis, a few units still meander east and south of Gimma, two of which actually surround Soddu on its northeast and southwest sides, though they are no real threat to the city even at U-2. The 18th Col X moves east to retake Dalle, with the 7th Cav X about 30 miles to the southeast in the mountains. Two units continue to slog into northern Kenya and Uganda, with the 2dF Bande actually taking Lodwar in Uganda (what, no VPs for Uganda towns? Egad!) Back in the far east, another Bande X begins blowing the bridge at Daga Bur, while a bit to the southwest the 102dF Bande blows the Gorrohai field and removes it from the map. Finally, in the last expected SMP moves in EA, an a/s is moved 7 hexes from 10:0608 to Asmara, dropping the current SMP total in the EA theater to 6.
Both the Hurri1 and the Bombay bombers at Tobruch fly DAS to the 9th Aus XX’s hex southeast of Gazala.
In the Balkans, Centauro, 3 Mtn XX equivalents, 4 Infantry XX’s, 5 regiments of arty, a pair of m/c III’s and a few supporting II’s assault the 11th and 15th Greek Mtn XX’s, supported by the D Art III. Most of the attacking force is supplied liberally with shells (2 a/s burned, plus 1 RE ‘free’ from a third a/s point for 21 RE’s supplied in total.) Overhead, every Italian a/c that can drop bombs flies GS to bring the attack up to a 5:1 even (a/s, rough, 1/10th AECA.) However, the attack steps off a bit slowly and the Greek Mtn XX’s are able to use the rough terrain to good advantage, retreating in good order to the 3903 road junction (3 rolled for a DR.) A host of infantry and artillery advance, as do the Centauro and a pair of m/c III’s.
In North Africa, things go a bit better. The Battle of Gazala East kicks off with 2 Arm units and a pair of arty III’s assaulting the Australians rear (hitting them from the eastern flank facing Tobruch. From the Gazala location itself, the Trento m Inf XX charges down the road, while 21st Pzr XX, Ariete Arm XX and a host of artillery units fire down on the hapless defenders from the heights to the west and southwest. The Australians attempt to fight a delaying action but eventually the lines are cracked and the entire pocket collapses in an Allied disaster. The survivors of the 9th Australian XX, 3rd Indian m Inf X, 7th Royal Tank II and 65th Anti Tank II are marched west to prison camps in Tripoli (4 rolled for a DH, Aussie XX cadred & all surviving units killed with no retreat route open.) The Australian Prime Minister decries the waste of the Commonwealth troops at Gazala East while British troops where hurriedly evacuated back to Tobruch by truck. He clearly indicates that further adventures with Australian troops will be looked upon in a most unfavorable light. (Australian preservation rules go into effect with the loss of 3 RE’s of Aussies.) Mussolini and Kesselring toast the victory and begin setting their sites on Tobruch and points east.
As the Ju87R and Me110D were not used in combat, they return back to Sicily as well and bomb the Malta status. Flak is ineffective and one hit is registered by the Stuka’s, pushing the Malta status number to 14. In the Balkans, Centauro and 2 regiments of motorcycle troops are pushed into the gap in the allied lines at 3802. If the mud remains in D, these units should be safe from Allied counterattack. If the weather clears, the zoc on the east-west Kalabaka road will prevent a quicker shift of Greek troops to the building Aliakmon line. They will also act as bait to encourage the Greek troops to remain in the west and out of the Aliakmon, should any attempt be made to attack them. (It has long been decided that the Germans will likely intervene on the first clear weather turn in D, without attempting to bringYugoslavia into the war. Anything that makes the eastern defenses weaker and encourages more troops in the west is to the Axis side’s advantage, even at the loss of Italian troops… the Centauro is a nice Italian XX, but it’s loss won’t be felt once 10-10 & 11-10 Pzr XX’s start arriving. Also, Italian losses don’t count for VPs, so there’s no risk on that front either.)
In North Africa, the victors of Gazala East exploit eastwards and surround Tobruch in 8-9 point defensive stacks, brimming w/ tanks and tankettes. The 21st Pzr sits on the southeast side of the fortress, Trento and some Tk II’s to the southwest, and Ariete and some more Italian non-divs on the west side. Further east, about 6 RE’s form up in three stacks near the Egyptian border, with the 2nd Lt Arm X actually exploiting near to Sidi Barrani and taking ownership via zoc before returning to the Libyan side of the border.
In East Africa, the Eritrean m Inf X returns to Adi Ugri from the wooded rough to the northwest of the town. A TC and the 22nd Col Inf X break the bridge over the Mareb river southwest of Adi Ugri.
End of Turn
VP totals are 60 to 6, in favor of the Axis.