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Subject: "Tales from the Bottom", Part 3 rss

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Ignacio Marin
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It´s July 1941. "Army Group Lion" occuppy the southwestern quarter of the UK. No movement at all, the Germans mantain a thin defence and wait. As said before, Axis actions in the Med are all failures. Gibraltar´s garrison live in luxury, no enemies near and well supplied. The INF plus AA DIV in Malta smashed the invading troops, and never was cut out of supply. The Furher wasted no time plannig in this area of operations, the only german forces present in north africa : one weak MECH and a Me110 twin engine FTR. The Italian fleet defend the supply line to Lybia, but all their efforts to take offensive actions were dismal failures.

There are rumors of war in the USA, but not now, not this summer. The Furher´s killing machine is ready to smash the Reds. Winston demands action, ofensive action, now. It is not a risky move to reinforce Egypt with Australian troops, and give Mussolinni some headaches. A few hundreds of kilometers of little value are gained in the frontier between Lybia and Egypt. Only one Italian MIL is destroyed, but plenty of damage is suffered by the stronger units. This divert efforts in the Italian production, the production of new units is delayed to allow the build of more and more Offensive Points, needed to mantain the damaged units combat ready in the desert. Playing with FiF the units are not pay in full when placed on the Production Circle, you only pay half of less BPs to place new units in one Factory, and after that you complete the units turn after turn. With the units in the front being degraded by continous attrition combat, the Italian units in the Factories were delayed, the BPs needed to complete them were employed to "Heal" the units involved in combat. UK troops suffered very limited damage, and the Regia Aeronautica lost all their LND units. Also one daring Sunderland executed a precise Port Attack against two lone cruisers based in Tarento, both sunk.

In the UK, Canadian and British units launched a well coordinated action against a lone German INF, causing Disruption and severe damage. The invaders were out of supply, so next impulse the offensive continued. But the dammed Rundstedt HQ give "emergency supply" to the endangered unit. And I rolled low. So finally the german INF was wiped out, but the CAN forces suffered crippling losses. Next impulse the germans moved back one Hex to reorganice the defence line, a pair of Factories returned to British hands, but there would be no Liberation this summer for the people in southwestern Britain.

And of course the war in the East started. There were standard movements, plus some original ones. The Finnish HQ was transported to serve with Army Group North. Petsamo was very lightly defended, one INF corp, with no HQ or naval unit to supply it. There would be no menace towards Murnsmask. The invasion was not a race, the Germans destroyed as many Red units as possible, while suffering as few losses as possible. The main effort was mantained by Army Group South. Rostov and the Dnieper Basin industrial area was captured, after fierce battles in the Dneropetrovsk suburbs. This was by far the most disputed ground in 1941 in the East. German INF suffered assaulting the city, but the defenders were wiped out. There were no daring raids to open the roads to Leningrad. Once the Baltic States were "liberated", the OKW struck hard into Russian soil, but only to destroy or damage soviet land units. The Luftwaffe Disrupted the Soviets, then encirclement moves, then the end.

I as the British urged the Soviet to press and take Petsamo and the Resource there, but he refused again and again. The Fleet based in Leningrad won their Laurels sinking 4 CPs in the Baltic, the Kriegsmarine employed all their shipping reserves to mantain the link to the Scandinavian Resources, but from this summer onwards the Condors flew high. With one BB Damaged and one SUB destroyed, Stalin reserved his naval forces for the future. No naval actions in the Black Sea.

After 4 months of operations, the German prepared his winter shelters. Jul / Aug was splendind, but the last half of Sep / Oct was very muddy and wet. So the OKH gave orders to halt and reinforce. Leningrad and Moscow were far from the front, but the loss of Rostov was a blow to Stalin´s morale. The Elite of the OKW was present in that area.

And a final surprise... Ukrania was declared independent. Never seen before in one of our WiF games. Himmler protested as SS units were removed from the game, Vlasov was promoted to Chief of State, and some hardcore nazis commited suicide in Berlin. It is a costly move, but the rear was secure, no PART units in Ukrania. The Reds loose lesser terrain than in our previous WiF games, but the german spend a lesser ammount of Offensive Points than spected, and the vital areas in the south were secured. He planned to gain good initial positions to a 1942 killing blow. Perhaps a good move, perhaps not. But it was his plan, and he did not changed it.

In the Pacific, after the anti german riots in the USA, Tojo decided to launch his long planned offensive. Japan´s effort in China was minimal, he conquered a bunch of vital hexes to mantain a coherent defence with a reduced force, launched limited offensives to mantain the number of Chinese land forces manageable, and focussed on the Navy ( CVs of course ) and land based NAVs and FTRs. The Sept / Oct Surprise Pearl was a disaster to the US Navy BB Force. A midget sub unit sunk 2 cruisers and damaged 2 more. 3 BBs were sunk by the japanese airmen ( saboteurs placed well hidden charges in the BBs the day before, all the armour die rolls were "1" and "2"s ). No Damage to US CVs ( only one "A" ). Hong Kong was declared an Open City ( no UK defenders ) and the japanese MAR were welcomed by the local population ( Grunts in White Hall ). The Philippines were invaded with some losses but quite fast. The US Declared war in both fronts.

Singapore proved to be a much more dangeorus zone. A modern British BB plus 5 cruisers were stationed there. No CVs, but long range FTRs were ready to support them. Good planning and lucky dice rolls allowed this modest force to inflict serious damage on the escort of the invading japanese troops in Malasya. The excellent japanese CAs suffered the worst ( remember, double damage to CAs and CLs optional selected ). Finally the small force was forced to return to Singapore ( one CL Damaged, the rest of the force Aborted ), but two japanese CAs went to the bottom, and several more CAs and Cls were damaged. The well garrisoned Port was not conquered, the defenders were fanatics and fought an Heroic defence. There were rumours than the British officers there were weak and more interested in Dry Gin that in modern tactics, but this proved false. No move against Burma or India. The Oil Resources in the NEI were taken easily.

There would be several japanese naval operations to obtain naval supremacy in the seas west of Singapore in later turns, but the lack of strong air support ( the best CVs and land based FTR and NAV units were facing the USN ) made this not possible. British FTRs were able to mantain the IJN at bay, often there were air naval encounters in the area, but the japanese player never gained the 4 Surprise Points needed to select a Surface Combat. And when the IJN´s force include some aircraft carriers, Search Rolls failed. So Singapore was not cut out of supply, and the defenders manatained their positions. The CW´s forces here perhaps could have help to repel Sea Lion, but I think that they were well employed. This Port would be a USN major base from 1943 onwards, and the house of the US SUB force. But not without perils and losses, as we will see in later reports.

¿ And what about the Grey Wolves ?. The Germans built a moderate ammount of SUBs. They opperated both in the North Atlantic and Africa. Sunk a moderate ammount of CPs, suffered a moderate ammount of damage, but SUB operations were secondary to the Boss in Berlin. So I gave thanks to the Gods. There were no delays expected in the presence of US units in Europe.
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