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Thread: Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two

  1. #3501
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    True.


    Additionally, something I forgot to mention: TTLs Operation Fortitude is less sophisticated for the simply reason that it only has to fool the Germans for a few months.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  2. #3502
    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    Poor Canaris, a Cassandra of TTL Germany....
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  3. #3503
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Indeed, mylord!








    A little teaser. Yes, this is what you think it is, but since there is a lack of a non-US made alternative, I have moved it up a few years.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
    Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two (ongoing) Last updated 04/27/14 Index - Index 2 - Index 3 - Knowledgebase -
    Inkwell Entry - Now with added obscure Doctor Who references - Visit the Dictionary!

    Possibly the world's most British German as awarded by El Pip here.

  4. #3504
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Chapter 168







    20th July 1941

    South of Tobruk, British occupied Lybia


    “FIRE!”

    The gun roared and a seventeen pound shell raced towards the other end of the shooting range. A mile and a half downrange the shell slammed into a old hulk that had used to be an Italian tank and exploded the vehicle in a ball of fire. It had been fired from a Ordnance QF 17 pounder mounted in a Cromwell Tank. Since it was the command tank of the Regimental Commander, it was not an ordinary Cromwell, but rather one that had two extra wireless sets at the priced of reduced ammunition capacity. Lieutenant Colonel Niemczyk VC stood up in the turret and shifted the black beret with the Division's 'Desert Rat' Insignia into the correct position again. Under him the tank shifted forwards again and quickly crossed the expanse of the shooting range and pulled up beside the smoking Fiat M13/40 and the crew disembarked. Jan inspected the tank as closely as he dared and was followed by his crew. “So lads, what do you think?” Jan asked. “Unter den Linden at the very least if we had had that thing in Belgium, Colonel.” Corporal Garside, the gunner said. Jan grinned and had his crew re-mount 'Battleaxe II' and they then drove back to the Regimental headquarters about five miles outside the fought-over fortress. The entire northern coast of Lybia was one huge, gigantic armed camp and growing. On their way back Battleaxe II passed tank parks, vehicle parks for the new cross-country vehicles, lorries, whatever was wheeled or tracked and needed. Once they had reached their own tank park, Jan disembarked again and dismissed his men. He walked over to where he had parked the Army Morris that had been allocated to him as his personal hack, once again thinking that rank had it's perks and drove into town. A downside of the rank was that the river of paper that came with running the Regiment did not solve itself, so he spent almost as much time in his Office or at the Division Headquarters as he did training his men for the landings. He did not know where or when, but they trained all the same, even though the special landing craft were hard to come by. The next exercise was scheduled for September, and it seemed to be that someone in the IGS or the Ministry of Defence wanted the 2nd Royal Hussars for that one to 'test combined Arms procedures'.



    As he drove towards the Division Headquarters, he passed a point where he had an excellent view of the harbour past the light ack-ack. Down there he could see a freighter being unloaded and some sort of boxy vehicle standing in rows on the pier. He shook his head and drove towards the town itself. In one of the few undamaged buildings the Division had taken up residence, with the 1st Indian Infantry Division ( motorized ) as direct neighbours. Tobruk had fully taken over by the British Army, as none of the fled Civilians had returned, most of them living in.. somewhere, since Tobruk had been declared a military safety zone, with only British and invited Allied personnel allowed. Jan stopped his car in front of the house and saluted as he walked past the guards in the small sandbag revetments outside and entered. Inside the typical organized chaos of a staff preparing a major operation was evident and it took Jan almost five minutes to localize General Hobart. “Sir, we completed the last rounds of tests with the Cromwell...” “So, what do you think?” Hobart asked. “To paraphrase my gunner, we could have smashed the Gerries had we had them last year. That gun is simply amazing, it's long-ranged, it's got a lot of punch, and it's very accurate even at the longer ranges. I can very much see myself going into combat with that tank. When can we expect more vehicles?” Hobart laughed. “Are you so anxious to have your lads equipped with them, Colonel?” “Yes, General. After all, we are the Desert Rats, and this thing is fast enough to make us worthy of that name.” Jan said. Hobart laughed and walked towards Jan from the spot on the wall he was leaning against. “The next shipment containing the rest of the tanks for our Division is supposed to arrive over the next few days, starting the day after tomorrow.” Jan raised an eyebrow and that was enough to convey his surprise to his very perceptive commander. “Thanks to what has been written about the Division, and in particular your very own Regiment for that matter have made someone at the War O... Ministry of Defence think that we get what we need as fast as possible.” “Egh....Are you sure, General?” Jan said. He had never thought that the Division was this well known back home, never mind his own little command. “Very much so. After all, you have the first RAC Victoria Cross, Colonel.” Hobart said and pointed at the respective ribbon on Jan's uniform. The Colonel refused to blush in the presence of his superior Officer. Brigadier Chelmsford did not like it that one of his regimental commanders was the favourite of the Division Commander, but there was little he could do, since Jan carried the coveted letters VC after his name and with a Division commander who had the tendency to bypass his brigade Commanders when he felt like it. Then however Hobart went down the business. “Exercise Able Charly is laid on for the first week of September....”


    The Cromwell Tank was the newest in a long line of British Cruiser tanks, and by far the fastest. It had been developed after the fall of France in order to replace the Crusader series that was clearly falling behind the newest Soviet models. The T-34 was about to start it's rule of the Battlefield. Around that time tests against the few captured German and Soviet tanks and combat experience in north Africa proved that the 6 pounder was adequate against existing designs, but against advice by some of the more conservative minded individuals it was decided to limit the production of this weapon until 'something better' was available. Royal Ordnance was ordered to begin development of a more capable gun to replace the 6 pounder in both the Anti-Tank and vehicle gun role as soon as possible. At the same time work began on what would eventually become the Cromwell Tank. Initially the tank was supposed to be armed with the 6 pdr, but when it became clear that it would be replaced far too soon the initial design, called the Cavalier, was scrapped and taken as a basis for the development of a new tank that was to be designed around the new 17 pdr gun as soon as the specifications for the vehicle-mounted version were put forward by Royal Ordnance. The Cromwell was a logical evolution of previous British Cruiser tank designs, and incorporated many of the lessons learned in France. The Cromwell prototype was first tested around the time when Operation Market Garden was being planned, and by the end of June the first production models were shipped to North Africa where the 1st and 7th Armoured Divisions were the first to be fully converted. Even so, only about half of the Armoured Units within the British Army in North Africa could be converted to the new tank before Market Garden started, the rest being rotated out of the front in the following months to receive their new vehicles. As an Infantry anti-tank gun the 17 pdr was marred by the heavy weight and therefore reduced mobility, but when the front threatened to stalemate in 1942, new and more powerful HE shells for the 17 pdr turned it into an excellent Infantry Support gun that helped the Allied war effort by destroying German, Soviet and Italian pillboxes at very long ranges.


    Troop of the 51st Highland Division training with the new gun.




    The Colonel and the General had spent another four hours with planning the exercise, much to the annoyance of the Brigadier who felt that the General and the Colonel were stealing his honours, but there was little he could do. “That about covers it.” Hobart said after another hour. “Bonaparte said that armies march on their stomach. I beg to differ.” “What, Sir?” Jan askled. “Armies are swimming on a river of paper, Colonel, and even more so in peacetime.”

    Jan grinned and was about to ask for permission to leave when Hobart said: “I want to show you something, Colonel.” Puzzled and tired at the same time Jan took a few seconds to follow the General when he walked down the stairs. When they reached the small courtyard behind the house Jan saw three of those boxy vehicles he had seen this morning arrayed, painted in the same green-ish camouflage paint as his own tanks, meaning they were meant for a unit that would eventually move to the continent. “What the....what are these, General?”

    “Apparently someone's son and heir complaned to London that the Army had no decent cross-country vehicles and his daddy managed to do what I tried for the same time. Supposedly these 'Land Rovers' are able to traverse just about any terrain at good speed. From what the report that came with them told me the Army plans to make these standard issue for all sorts of units, including Officers.” Jan realized what was coming at him. Once again he was the guniea pig for the Army's fancies and toys. Still, when he began to inspect the vehicle he saw that it had lots of space between the ground and the body and the suspension seemed to be very much suited to this job.

    “The report is probably written by whoever designed this, because it included how apparently he saw the basic idea of a vehicle like this in South America a few years back and designed this one here on his own initiative for use on his farm. When the Ministry of Defence beckoned, he and Rover delivered.” “I see, General. But what has this to do with me?” “Well, the rickety old car you have as your personal transport needs replacement, and as a matter of fact, I'd like to hear your own opinion on how this thing performs. It has been tested of course, but frontline requirements sometimes differ somewhat from those that the staffers back in blighty deem fit.” “I feel honoured, Sir.” Jan said with more sincerity than he felt. “Of course you don't Colonel, and for the same reason for which I am dumping one of these on you. There is merit behind the idea mind, but in the end I don't like being used to field test these any more than you do.”




    Later model for use on the Burma Front, identifiable by the distinct two-tone paint.[1]


    [Notes: I hope no one minds I am using these updates to introduce some of the new kit the Brits have developed for Market Garden.]


    [1] Yup, the one and only. El Pip and others have suggested either the Austin Champ or the Landy. Both would need to be moved up by several years, and in the end I dismissed the Champ for the same reasons why the Army dismissed it, reliability, price and not really multi-role. I went with the Series III because there pictures are the easiest to find. Rule of Cool applies here.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
    Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two (ongoing) Last updated 04/27/14 Index - Index 2 - Index 3 - Knowledgebase -
    Inkwell Entry - Now with added obscure Doctor Who references - Visit the Dictionary!

    Possibly the world's most British German as awarded by El Pip here.

  5. #3505
    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    Nice tanks! Very nice tanks.
    Nope, I like seeing equipment updates.....

    (NB. Charlie is spelt like that, not Charly :P)
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  6. #3506
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Tank-tastic.

    I do like your mix of character and history book for new tech, it avoids having characters speaking stats and numbers at each other but keeps them involved. A good format.
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  7. #3507
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    Awesome, Cromwells.
    Those jee-err, Land Rovers, look awesome.

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  8. #3508
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Lord Strange I like to use Equipment more than I like to write about stats. Meh. Error will be corrected shortly.


    El Pip I've found that this is a relatively easy format to do, since I can combine the dry fact dump with a bit of character development.


    Griffin.Gen That they are. As for the Landys: klick me!
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  9. #3509
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    Tanks! Jeeps! techs! Tanks! Stuff! *runs around screaming like a little girl*

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRHH

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  10. #3510
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doge Robert View Post
    Tanks! Jeeps! techs! Tanks! Stuff! *runs around screaming like a little girl*

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRHH

    Harr. Hopefully the next update will have more awesome in it.
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  11. #3511
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Harr. Hopefully the next update will have more awesome in it.
    Me want some more planes. (Spits?)
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    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    There was no way to get a cheaper Champ?
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  13. #3513
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    gaiasabre11 No Spits, but planes.


    Kurt_Steiner Apparently not. According to the Wikipedia article the Champ was not continued because the much cheaper Land Rover was/is almost as capable an off roader and much more multi-role generally than the purpose-built Champ.
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  14. #3514
    any italian naval battles soon? me thinks their old battleships need decomissioning. lol

    btw just how big are your armed forces by now? you keep saying 'expanding army'.

  15. #3515
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    There will be battles.


    As for the Army, I'd like to keep that number under wraps, because of the somewhat unrealistic numbers...
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    Chapter 169





    September 1941


    The Italians had not had a happy war. With the loss of the colonies after a prolonged fight and the abysmal performance of the bled out Italian Army in Yugoslavia had not only withered down morale in Italy itself but had also shattered the confidence of the larger Axis Partners in the martial abilities of Italy as a whole. The Soviets had no interest in comitting troops to the defence of Italy at this point, but the Germans had little choice since the Alps would not hold up any Invader for long and the Italians were, despite it all, a loyal Ally and had a strategic position that dominated the central Mediterranean Sea. However political and propaganda considerations made the stationing of any sort of large, overt defence force in Italy proper impossible, and aided by the impact of Operation Fortitude on Hitler and Stalin themselves the OKW and the Soviet Liaison Staff quickly decided that only a small token force was to be stationed in Italy itself for the remainder of the year with most of the Wehrmacht working up for the coming invasion of the Scandinavian countries in 1942 and the following attack through Spain and towards Gibraltar later that same year. As far as the Italians were concerned they would spend the rest of 1941 and most of 1942 rebuilding and reforming their armed forces. There was no question of going on the offensive in any way, but Rome was confident that Italy itself could be easily defended. Italian Army reforms were to be widespread and comprehensive, and the Corps that the Germans did send to southern Italy in August 1941, consisting of 7. Panzerdivision, 15. Panzerdivision and the 90. Leichte Division ( Light Division ) under the command of Lieutenant-General Rommel, the new rising star of the Wehrmacht at that point. It was a short-term deployment while the units refitted and rested after Yugoslavia, whilst at the same time showing the finer points of the trade to the Italians before they were to be moved back to Germany by Christmas and replaced by two motorized and one Panzer Division.

    By the time Rommel took over command in early September, in Britain the planners were putting the finishing touches to the plan for Market Garden and the Italian Air Force was trying to interdict the convoys of troopships that ferried everything the Army needed to North Africa in a frenzy. Normally these were escorted by one of the Carriers of the Mediterranean Fleet. On the 10th however, there were two, fresh back from some minor repairs at Gibraltar where they also had taken on new Aircraft. On that day the main air activity however was one that the Regia Aeronautica would never forget and that was known as the 'Black Wednesday' in Italy for decades afterwards. Before dawn airfields all over northern Africa buzzed with activity as plane after plane rose from the desert airfields. Most of these aircraft were Mosquitos belonging to the Mediterranean Tactical Air Command, all in all seven Squadrons. When they passed Malta where an RDF operator likened them to a swarm of angry bees, the planes divided into two-plane groups that would scourge all over Sicily and Calabria, bombing and strafing airfields wherever they could be found. The groups parted ways and went down to the deck in order to avoid detection as long as possible and passed the coast, while at the same time up north nine more Squadrons did the same in Northern France.




    The Mosquito was loaded down with bombs raced towards a major Italian Aerodrome that defended a huge chunk of northern Sicily. In fact the field was so large, two other hunting packets had been assigned to it to make sure that sufficient damage was dealt to the local infrastructure, which the three groups would attack from different directions in the space of less than two minutes. The pilot gunned the engines to full military power to reach his own IP from where he would attack first.

    Meanwhile on the Airfield the shift change was only minutes off. The crews manning the anti-air defences surrounding the aerodrome where tired and could not wait to get off duty and into bed. Their Breda Model 35 20mm guns were pointed at the sky, but they had yet to see a British or French Aircraft, and were therefore bored to tears. Instead of watching the horizon they watched as three CR.42 fighters were coming in for a landing and where just about to touch down when the tarmac was riddled with 20mm fire and two of the bi-planes exploded in mid air. To the credit of the gun crews must be said that they sprung instantly into action and searched for the enemy, but did not manage to get many shots of because the Mosquitos were over their heads and farther away already. They both dropped six bombs each on the main runway as they sped away before heading towards the hangars.

    The pilot slightly adjusted his course as he raked the parked Italian Aircraft with 20mm and .303 fire and watched some of them burst into flames. Then he was out over the perimeter again and banked onto a southerly course, light ack-ack chasing after him but failing to catch the fast British Infiltrator. The same scene was repeated on airfields all over Sicily and Calabria, and it was not the end. The Mosquitos left behind smoking ruins, smashed hangars and burning aircraft, but it was far from over. They had smashed the Italian Air Force in the area with the loss of only seven of their own, but now the heavyweights come in. In one of the rare day-light attacks of this part of the war several Squadrons of Halifaxes attacked the biggest airfields in the area. As the Mosquito attack had smashed most of the aircraft and had killed a fair number of the ground personnel, no one was expecting the second, let alone the third wave of aircraft coming in that day. The Halifaxes of the second wave dropped heavy 1000 pound bombs meant to crater the runways and if possible to destroy the buried fuel storage sites. Even though the latter did not happen often, most of the runways were rendered unusable for the foreseeable future, as the Italians lacked the capabilities to repair all airfields at the same time. The third wave consisted of another wave of Mosquitos and Wellington bombers that attacked the sometimes still burning airfields after dark, further hammering the facilities and morale of the soldiers stationed there. By the next morning and at the cost of twenty-one aircraft the Royal Air Force had air superiority over the Invasion area, while in Normandy the action continued on a low level to draw attention away. From then on up until the Invasion Day the Wellingtons, Spitfires, Mosquitos and the first Squadron of Beaufighters were all over the area, strafing and bombing everything military they could find, bringing public life to a shuddering halt as no one dared to face the roving British Infiltrators[1].



    Beaufighter Mk.I



    Very late on the 12th, two small boats were lowered down from a British Submarine in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The boats were rubber dingies filled with men of a force that had been hastily founded after the Army had had massive success with a similar one, even though their mission was to be reconnaissance and they would often be seen as the Admiralty's personal plaything and were therefore eager to prove that they were just as good as the Special Air Service. The men were all soldiers of the Royal Marines and had been selected for much of the same qualities the SAS was looking for in it's own recruits, and today they would conduct beach reconnaissance for the pre-invasion planners. London had asked for everything from soil samples to a rough outline of the tidal conditions, and even much of that had been provided by looking them up in maritime books and almanacs, but their Lordships wanted to make sure. The men rowed towards the beach where they split up. One man per boat would guard the landing site itself while the two others went further inland to collect samples. All in all the mission went off without a hitch and by the time dawn broke and the Italian patrol passed this stretch of beach again, the men were already back aboard the Submarine, heading towards Malta. Invasion preparations were going on all over Northern Africa. By now concealing intentions was a secondary consideration, but the deception went on even as the Fleet began to concentrate it's almost complete strength of landing craft all over Northern Africa and began to heavily mine the waters around Taranto where the Italian Navy was hiding in the face of the British Carrier Force. After the various disasters that had befallen them, the Italian High Command was husbanding their forces to 'smash' the British fleet if it were to appear, at least officially. In reality the Italians did not dare to pit their Fleet against the Royal Navy, since they were the only bargaining chip Italy had left, and they therefore needed to be saved at all costs. ULTRA had apprised the Admiralty of this situation and had eased the decision for landing on the northern shore of the toe of Italy, as the Fleet was confident in it's ability to keep the Italian Air Force and probable Axis reinforcements at bay. The plan was risky, the plan was foolhardy but the plan was in motion.

    [Notes: The run up to the Invasion has begun. ]



    [1] Infiltrator = Fighter-Bomber. The term derives from the first role of the Mossie when it was to infiltrate heavily defended Axis airspace, bomb it's targets and get out again.
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    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    Yey for the SBS! Yey for the RAF!
    Also, what happens during the landings if the RM comes out to play-though likely to be destroyed, it could casue havoc amongst landing craft....
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    Poor Italians.... They are losing because their idiot of a Duce is....well, an idiot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffin.Gen View Post
    Poor Italians.... They are losing because their idiot of a Duce is....well, an idiot!
    I think I can sum up the plot of a lot of British AARs in one sentence: "A bunch of idiots are trying to challenge British Supremacy; idiots they are."

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    Lord Strange Well, there is one Admiral Somerville, and his collection of 15'' armed rowboats and those with the flat decks...

    Griffin.Gen Mussolini is one of these characters that no author would dare to make up for his fiction...

    gaiasabre11 Only when it applies to the Italians.
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