A face-to-face game between Richard Sheridan (the Axis) and Sal Vasta (the Allies and author of this AAR). Richard is new to the game, but a veteran gamer.
USSR –Despite the redeployment of German panzer and air forces from Turkey to the Russian front, the anticipated German invasion never came. Hitler had through personal communications with Stalin assured the Soviet leader that no invasion was planned as Germany intended to honor their Non-Aggression Pact. The Policy Evaluation marker was in the Jun 1941 turn box (placed there from a year earlier by the ‘West Invaded’ conditional event). When it is removed, a die is roll. On 1-3, the marker is placed on the next turn of the Turn Track; on 4-6 the N-S Pact policy would have ended. Through this mechanism, Germany has a year worry-free to manage a one-front war. After that, it falls to the Fates to determine how well Hitler can talk himself out of a situation. He has been quite the taker as Richard rolled less than four each turn from Jun through Sep.
Stalin, for his part, was also pleased as his military high command insisted it would be 6-12 months before the Soviet army would be able to stand up to the German forces. Though the Axis and Soviet factions are not yet at war, the better USSR armies (e.g. Shock or Guards) will still enter play within their historical timeframe. Their entry is not something the Axis player can manipulate.
Churchill, on the other hand, became increasingly upset. Germany’s peace with Russia only further strengthened the isolationists in America. Roosevelt managed to get Lend-Lease passed to aid Britain, but direct US involvement was out of the question. The ‘USA Entry’ conditional event is triggered when both the Appeasement and N-S Pact policies have ended. When that happens the USA Entry marker is placed six turns later on the Turn Track (at which point USA activation is a 50-50 deal each turn until it happens). So every passing turn the Pact survives means one more turn before the US will enter the war.
Richard decided to not invade Russia and instead keep after the UK. When the Pact policy does eventually end, he intends to smack down the Russian front line and keep territorial gains to a minimum (if he invades into Russia at all). It is a strategy that has not been tested yet (at least not that I’m aware of) and so it will be good to see how it plays out.
If he never invades the USSR, it will impact several things. The USSR won’t get five extra infantry armies for Emergency Mobilization. The USSR will lose out on extra production from Lend-Lease to the USSR and Urals Factories. Russian Winter will not happen. There will be no Soviet Partisans and the Axis faction loses out on a Political Success event. That may seem like a big loss to the Soviets. But without being invaded their economy is never reduced and the front is located in eastern Europe rather than deep in Russia.
Turkey – In June the BEF boarded trains in Mersin and moved into Ankara to manage the defense of the Turkish capital. I used Strategic Move to get the unit there before the Axis could possibly move in during the Operations Phase. When it arrived, the news from the front was very grim and the Turkish government in a state of panic.
The Greek 2 army crossed the Dardanelles strait and continued on to capture Smyrna, further reducing Turkey’s National Will to a critically low level.
The German 1 Panzer with 4 Luftwaffe support moved against and overran the reduced Turkey 3 army, eliminating it. It then continued into a position east of the Turkey 2 army, thereby cutting off any retreat path west.
The German 2 Panzer, also with air support, struck at the Turkey 2 army supported by Turkey’s few air and tank assets (I used a ‘Ground Support’ marker, available to countries that don’t have an intrinsic air or tank units or markers). Unable to cope with the speed of the attack, the Turkey 2 army retreated southeast. The expected follow on attack did not come as the German 2 Panzer than changed direction and headed west to outside of Ankara, where they were disappointed to find the BEF already in place. Their attack, however, achieved its strategic objective of clearing the rail and road line between Istanbul and Antalya in the south of any Turkish defenders (i.e. any Turkish unit or their ZOCs).
With the path to the Antalya open, the German 1 army moved from Istanbul to capture undefended Antalya. The loss of three armies and the western third of its country proved too much for the already disjointed Turkish government and army to handle and so it surrendered. Turkey’s National Will dropped to zero and since it had at least one of its cities under enemy control, it was conquered.
The BEF now found itself alone in Turkey. My decision to Strategic Move the BEF to Ankara now came back to haunt them. A unit that uses Strategic Movement cannot activate during the Operations Phase of that turn. The BEF, therefore, had to remain there for the turn.
In July the Romanian 4 army seized trains from the surrendered Turkish armies and moved to position itself between Ankara and Mersin in the south. Just as the BEF moved to Ankara before the Axis forces arrived there, the Axis forces now moved to cut off the path to the lone Allied port remaining in southern Turkey. Meanwhile, the Greek 2 army moved west toward Ankara and the German 1 army moved to the southwest of Ankara. The BEF was effectively trapped except for a path to the northeast which would have removed it from its limited supplies within the capital. The capital of an allied country is considered a Limited Supply source for the major power of its faction (the West that is the UK or USA). So even though the supply line to Mersin (and beyond) was cut off, the BEF could still maintain a Low Supply status so long as it remained in Ankara. The fact that Turkey surrendered does not matter. Only whether the capital is under friendly control.
With major resistance in Turkey removed, the German 1 Panzer moved to Bulgaria and 4 Luftwaffe moved to the Russian border in Romania. It was a small relief to the BEF command.
Infuriated, but undaunted by Turkey’s collapse, Churchill ordered the UK 9 army to Mersin to keep the port open and the Axis fighting on what most assuredly would be another front once Hitler launched his invasion of Russia. British Intelligence, however, was no longer convinced that such an invasion was going to happen.
With success in Turkey and Stalin kept convinced of peace, in August, the reorganized Afrika army was moved from Berlin to southern Turkey. If Churchill wanted a fight in Turkey, Hitler would give it to him.
The Romanian 4 army moved directly east of Ankara while the Greek 2 moved directly to the west. Together they launched a combined Assault against the isolated BEF who were low on supplies. Its few tanks proved to be a deciding factor in turning back the attack. Richard committed an Axis Ground Support marker and I the UK Tanks marker. The victory, however, was short lived as the subsequent attack by German 1 army proved too much for the British defenders. Disruption quickly turned to rout and the BEF was eliminated. The success was followed by the German 2 Panzer moving toward southern Turkey and the 1 Luftwaffe coming from the Russia border to the same area.
Despite the destruction of the BEF and preponderance of Axis forces in Turkey, Churchill ordered the UK 9 army to remain in Mersin. They must do their duty to delay the Axis advance into the Middle East for as long as possible, he said.
In Sept, the Italian 10 army moved from central Europe to western Turkey, while the Greek 2 army and Romanian 4 army took up the defenses of Antalya and Mersin. Germany declared war on Syria to open the backdoor to Palestine and Egypt. Noting how easily the Axis forces overran Turkey, Syria refused to mobilize. When France was conquered, Syria became a separate neutral country, as did French North Africa and Vichy. Whenever any of these countries activate, a die (50-50) is rolled to see if its units are set up on the map or not. This reflects these countries’ historical uncertain nature of commitment to either side. Attacked by the 2 Panzer with air support, the 9 UK was quickly overrun. The 2 Panzer, then along with the German Afrika army, 1 army, and 2 Luftwaffe advanced into Syria.
Mediterranean – The front in Africa was relatively quiet over the summer months, but became frantic in the autumn. In the summer, the WDF launched an attack against the Italian 1 army trapped without a port or supply source. By the end of July, the Italian army surrendered due to lack of supplies. Axis presence in Africa was finally gone and Italy’s willingness to fight sapped. Italy’s National Will is down to six after losing four cities in Africa and two armies. The lull in fighting gave the air and naval forces of both sides a chance to recoup the attrition suffered during the previous campaigns. With a long front to cover, most UK forces were deployed in Africa to keep the Axis from sneaking into a relatively undefended area. The Axis got its Surprise Attack marker back so it was now possible for them to launch an amphibious invasion.
The collapse of Western defenses in Turkey, however, put the Med forces in high gear again for both sides. The reorganized UK Malta force landed in Port Said. With Syria invaded, the UK 10 army set sail from Tobruk, escorted by the UK Med Fleet, and landed in Haifa. The Med Fleet and 3 Convoy then sailed from there all the way to Tripoli where the UK’s only remaining full strength motorized army remained. Hitler convinced Mussolini that the Italian navy could not sit still and the British reorganized their defenses in Africa. He’d give Africa back to Italy, but only if Italy helped. The Italian Fleet and Air forces responded and in several battles in the central Med, the managed to inflict losses on the British navy. By the time the UK units landed in Tripoli, the UK Med Fleet had 6 Sorties and UK Convoy had 2 Sorties, while the Italian Fleet had 4 Sorties and the Italian air had 2 Sorties.