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

  1. #4841
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    How the hell did the yanks develop that? The US was turbos all the way OTL and was exceptionally dismissive of supercharges, till the Merlin turned their heads anyway. Are we then seeing a deep change in US engine philosophy? Are turbo-superchargers seen as a symbol of decadent imperialist capitalism, while mechanical superchargers are an honest, egalitarian power source for the flying proletariat?
    I've been told by well informed persons that the companies were developing the P-40 with a supercharger/turboharger (I might confuse them, technical English isn't my forte) from the get-go IOTL, but that the Army practically told them to rip it out. I merely assumed that TTL they didn't.

    As for the brain drain: The same person talked me into the Mustang designer legging it, and he wanted several other designers (P-47, F-8F) to have fled too but I decided not to drain the Americans too much. Basically they still have the great minds behind the Essex Class, most of Curtiss-Wright, all of Allison and all of Boeing. It merely appears that all the brain drained out. (I merely mentoin those that I like, the others fall by the wayside. )
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  2. #4842
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Chapter 269


    Private Ramius was staring down the sights of his Mosin-Nagant rifle towards the bank of early morning fog from where the British (or was it the Canadians? Or the Dutch? The Belgians? The Poles? The Australians? The New Zealanders?) had to appear if they wanted to assault his unit. The Black Sea Naval Infantry Brigade had been in the Strategic Reserve of the Southern Front/OB Süd and had been activated when the thinning lines of the Axis Armies in southern Austria had been pushed up against the Saualpe-Kienberg-Hohenwart range while southwards in the valley the Allies were poised to break through the weak Soviet and German Units and then there would be nothing standing between them and the next Axis defensive line, running from Wolfsberg south to the river Drau which was the last major natural defensive line before the hills of eastern Austria and the plains of Hungary. There would be little between the Allies and Vienna and from Vienna they would be able to advance into Germany proper.

    Ramius didn't care about that at all though. His world was reduced to his bully of a Sergeant who had taken to relieve the men of their meagre Vodka rations to supplement his own. Unlike a lot of Russians Ramius didn't care an iota about that, but the Sergeant still bullied his men. At least this early in the morning he was still asleep and so Ramius could spent his time in the OP with wishing he'd joined the Navy like his long-dead Uncle. Naval Infantry fighting in the Mountains was so against everything they had trained for, but lacking a meaningful Navy the Naval Infantry was glorified Light Infantry.

    He was torn from his thoughts when he heard something in the distance, or at least thought he did. The almost constant rumble of Artillery often served to play tricks on the ears of men and he was in no hurry to wake the Sergeant who had at one time almost beaten a man to death for doing so even though he had been warned of an incoming attack that had almost broken through the lines-
    But what was that wailing sound? It almost seemed to be some sort of melody, but...***** these were engines, and a lot of them!

    He rose to his feet and ran over to where the Sergeant was sleeping on a cot, but before he could open his mouth to say anything he glanced back and saw to his horror how the wailing sound grew ever louder as a group of British tanks and Infantry advancing at walking pace. By the time he had torn his eyes away and forced himself to wake the Sergeant, the British had crossed the expanse and all the Soviet Marines in the forward trenches could do was to raise their hands in the face of the barrels of the British. But who on earth went to battle making a racket like that?

    The pipers of the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards) and the accompanying Battalion of the Royal Scots would have been very put out at hearing 'Black Bear' referred to as racket, but luckily for the Soviet Marines they didn't and instead the Infantry fanned out to guard the Tanks while those pierced the Soviet line ever deeper. Half a mile farther south the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and 1st Battalion, The London Regiment carried out a similar early morning attack without artillery or air preparation and pierced the Soviet lines with equal ease, creating a breach in the Axis lines more than a mile wide. They then wheeled, linked up their breaches and then proceeded to widen it.


    The reason that allowed the Allies to smash through the Soviet lines was simply hat the Battle of Klagenfurt, or rather the fanatical determination with which the town was defended at Hitler's orders had given OB Süd two options, either to abandon the lion's share of the Waffen-SS strength in the theatre to it's fate, pull back to the Wolfsberg-Drau line or try and hold the salient that connected the Axis main body with a point a dozen or so miles from the Allied perimeter outside the city.

    No one had anticipated that the Black Sea Naval Infantry Brigade's forward lines would dissolve this fast, so when the British tanks advanced they found the organic Artillery of the 275th Rifle Division to which the brigade had been attached and captured around five-thousand Soviet troopers of rear area and front line units over the course of the day. The rail hub of the South Austrian railway that had supplied the Axis front since the Allies had taken Rome therefore fell without a fight, allowing it and the railway line to the west of it to be used by the Allied supply effort once it was repaired.

    Field Marshal von Kluge awoke in his Vienna Headquarters to the news that the Allies had broken into the weakest point of his lines, had taken the supply hub that supplied the salient and were now advancing along the railway line towards the next defensive line, while more Allied forces flooded through the breach and threatened to outflank his lines to the south of it. Looking at the map it seemed as if the Allies were trying either go towards Vienna itself or into Hungary, but it was too early to tell. Normally a breakthrough would be countered by the reserve, but he had already comitted the reserve by deploying the Soviet Marines and Berlin had not yet answered to his request for reinforcements with more than the 'we will advise you'. What reserves he still had consisted of the 7. Panzer, re-equipping with the newest model of Panther, the newly activated 3. Panzergrenadier-Division, the Soviet 55th Tank Division and another Soviet Infantry Division, the 550th. A potent force, but they were stationed around Vienna and since the OKW feared that Hungary and Romania might be wavering, he could only release them with permission from Berlin, something that had not been received yet. The Hungarian Army couldn't be persuaded to leave their borders now, but the six Infantry and two semi-motorized Cavalry Divisions of I Hungarian Army were a threat that the British couldn't discount and that forced them to keep substantial reserves back, most importantly the Dutch-Belgian 11th Army.

    The British had so such qualms and raced towards Vienna at best possible speed. They had brushed aside the weak counter-attacks by the two-and-a-half Divisions on the Northern flank whom Kluge pulled back on his own over winding mountain roads that the Allies can't properly interdict from the air and where a small force of Mountaineers attached to the Infantry fought a rear-guard action against the Irish. Down south of the breach the retreat was more orderly, fighting both against elements of the British 8th and 9th Armies, while the 11th Army was clearing north-western Yugoslavia and also tried to keep the different partisan groups from killing each other while at the same time forming theatre reserve. The British Cavalry Corps had last been reported shelling the weak positions of the Croatian separatists outside Split, while Albania was a seething cauldron of discontent. What worried the Commander down there the most was the absence of the absence of the 2nd (ANZAC) Army from any recent Feindlagebericht and reports that the Canadians were being pulled back from the line. The RSHA estimated that they were being rebuilt after the mauling they received earlier in the month, but the Allies had a history for trying hair brained schemes.


    RSDG Tanks advancing

    He was sure that Yugoslavia was lost, probably irretrievably barring a complete reversal of fortunes for the Allies in the near future. The Romanian and Hungarian Armies refused to go into the Quagmire of Royalist, Separatist, Muslim, Christian and British troops, considering that the Royalists were clearly winning and that there were rumours that the Yugoslav King was preparing to return to the country as soon as the area that the Allies held was cleared. By the time the OKW finally released the reserves the British had already engaged the weak units holding the Wolfsberg-Drau line.


    His counterpart in Rome on the other hand felt cautiously confident when by mid-afternoon the RSDG and the other Regiments advancing east reported no significant resistance for most of the day. Now that the gap had been widened to include the southern Motorway, two full Corps of the 8th were through the gap, with most of the 9th Army wrapping up Klagenfurt and preparing to move out, because Field Marshal Alexander wanted them to threaten the Hungarian homeland and perhaps goad their Army out into the open. The Hungarians had a full Armoured Division organized after the German patterns south of Budapest, equipped with the latest model Panzer IV, and that unit alone could do a whole lot of damage in Yugoslavia or if they attacked the flank of the Allied forces advancing onto Vienna.

    His plan had been to use the Canadians and the ANZACs to threaten the Hungarian Southern Flank and also keep an eye on the Romanians, but the Prime Minister had once again had one of his 'brilliant' ideas that had the combined Officer Class of the British Army break out in sweat, and this had cost him two of his most experienced formations. True, if it worked it created another sore for the Germans and cemented the Allied position with Greece and Turkey, the only remaining Neutrals in southern Europe, but it would put a massive drain on Allied logistics.

    He hadn't counselled against it though, because for once he believed that the potential benefits outweighed the risks and he knew of the pressure both the Royal Yugoslav Government in Exile and the Foreign Office were putting on No.10.

    Operation Downfall was due to be launched several days from now, and that was his biggest problem with the plan. The ANZACs had just so made it in time to embark, but putting them all ashore would take two days, and then it would be another week before the Canadians were in position to cross, and if the Romanians and the Bulgarians could be persuaded to send their Armies beyond their borders, then the eight ANZAC/South African Divisions (four Australian, one New Zealand and three South African ones[1]) plus the three Cavalry Divisions would be hard pressed to hold against a determined push by Elite Bulgarian Mountain troops along with a huge number of Romanian Infantry. What worked for the Allies here were the abysmal logistics. Planning had been a rushed job and a total nightmare. The first order of business was to seize the harbour town of Durrës or Durres, made all the harder due to a lack of deployable Airborne assets. The 6th Airborne was still up north and part of his strategic reserve which was very small until the next wave of new units arrived from Africa next year, the reasons for this were beyond even his paygrade. That left only the French 1st Parachute Brigade, but the problem there was that while the French troops in the western Alps were nominally under his command in effect the French were fighting a war of their own, trying to batter their way through the defences of one Field Marshal Rommel for the last half year, accomplishing next to nothing and only growing the legend of the Mountain Fox which each day. True, they had forced him back twenty miles towards Marseilles in the last two months, but their lack of manpower prevented them from really pushing things.

    Walking on eggshells was an epic understatement if one wanted to describe the diplomatic moves that had to be taken if official requests were made to the French that did not pertain to the Naval War, and Field Marshal Alexander simply was not willing to hold up the entirety of Operation Downfall just to listen to more of de Gaulles crude attempts to blackmail the Empire into changing it's whole grand strategy at this late date. How the man had managed to recover from the public fallout from his support for the Quebec uprising was anyone's guess, the Canadian Ambassador was rumoured to still refuse to talk to him, and if the Canadian liaison knew what he was talking about, the esteem Quebec held for the old Motherland was in free fall ever since that fateful day.

    As a result of all this there would be no preparatory air landing, and the Australian 1st Infantry Division would have to seize the harbour on it's own. That sounded harder than it was, intelligence indicated that the German/Soviet garrison in Albania amounted to not much more than a reinforced Divison of second-line troops, which meant that it was probably twice that, and reinforcing that through Yugoslavia was not going to be possible.

    Still, he hated taking this sort of risks, but as a Soldier he did what he was told when given a lawful order, and if he was honest, he preferred doing this without the French. The Poles, Dutch and Belgians knew what was at stake and were well aware that to get their countries back everyone needed to pull together. They were able and willing troops, and he strongly suspected that even if they had the same resources as the French they would still be very willing participants in the joint Allied war effort. Still, if everything came off, then seventeen Allied Divisions would be standing on the southern flank in some of the best defensive terrain on the continent and draw away a lot of Axis Divisions.


    Troops of the Australian 1st Infantry during an exercise


    Air support wouldn't be a problem either, plenty of tactical Aircraft and several kilotons worth of Jellypet[2] were standing ready and as soon as the word was given Australian Infantry would cross the short expanse of water towards Albania. Things were looking up for the Allies, but little did they know that soon the combination of extreme stress, sleep deprivation and an undiagnosed heart condition would throw all their plans into disarray and threaten to undo everything that had been gained in the last three months.

    [Notes: Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes? *~* There goeth the war. ]

    [1] With a massive British Fleet presence in the Far East and the Japanese never getting that close to Australia, a larger percentage of the Australian Army is in Europe, most importantly their two Armoured Divisions and one Infantry. The South Africans are sending more because one is fighting against evil godless communists.

    [2] Napalm.
    "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
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    Inkwell Entry - Now with added obscure Doctor Who references - Visit the Dictionary!

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  3. #4843
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  4. #4844
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    I'm trying to think of a notable chap with a heart condition from about that time. Before I waste too much time racking my brains is this an OTL condition occurring on schedule or something else?

    Interesting update, good to see the French still being French and adding to their legendary reputation by charging at mountains and failing. The Yugoslavian scheme does look a bit mad (where are the Royal Marines again?) but I think the Field Marshall has it right that the rewards outweigh the risks.
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  5. #4845
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Kurt_Steiner So if Winston is Kilgore, who is Colonel Kurtz?

    El Pip The Heart condition is something new. Call it Butterflies.

    The French actions resemble the utterly useless French AI from the game that refused to do anything.

    The Yugoslavian Scheme is not as crazy as it may seem, the distance from the heel of Italy to Albania is shorter than from North Africa to Sicily. The Marines are in the Far East where they will be doing some attacking of their own.
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  6. #4846
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Kurt_Steiner So if Winston is Kilgore, who is Colonel Kurtz?
    Easy. Stalin.

    And Felix is Willard
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  7. #4847
    Trekaddict

    Good update and I get to read up on progress before I go on holiday. Sounds like, added by Adolf's strategic brilliance, the allies are nearly through the slog of the Alps. Also that the Bulgarians and Romanians could be persuaded to change sides in the not too distant future.

    Not sure about the section below as the two sentences seem to contradict each other or am I totally missing something? Presuming that last so should be no.

    The Hungarian Army couldn't be persuaded to leave their borders now, but the six Infantry and two semi-motorized Cavalry Divisions of I Hungarian Army were a threat that the British couldn't discount and that forced them to keep substantial reserves back, most importantly the Dutch-Belgian 11th Army.

    The British had so such qualms and raced towards Vienna at best possible speed.
    Looking forward to hearing what the RM are up to in the east. Rangoon could look quite nice this time of year.

    Steve

  8. #4848
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Kurt_Steiner No, Ian must be Willard, Felix is the only survivor of the crew.

    stevep Happy to help.

    As for the slog, the Axis forces around Vienna need to be defeated first. I'll soon-ish start an actual plot line set inside Nazi Germany that shows this, but you can probably imagine the Nazi Propaganda harking back to the various sieges of Vienna, totally ignoring that during the last one Polish Cavalry was instrumental to the Christian victory.



    In the AAO-verse the flagship of the Polish Navy will be named after Jan III Sobieski.



    As for the Hungarians, the sentence means that their forces are concentrated in western Hungary, and could easily fall at the Allied flank.


    This is very crude and not at all to be taken at face value, but it gives you a rough idea.

    As for Rangoon, I exercise my right to withhold further spoilers.
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  9. #4849
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    To anyone who is interested in my side stories: Give indication of intent and I will PM you a link to the blog where I will post them from now on, among other places.
    "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
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  10. #4850
    Monarchist Griffin.Gen's Avatar
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    Sorry I took so long to post.

    I honestly doubt the Hungarians are going to fight much longer. At a similar point in OTL, they were already negociating with the Soviets. I don't see how it could be different ITTL unless Operation Panzerfaust already happen and Horthy is out of the picture.
    The Axis countries in the Balkans are going to collapse sooner or later. I can see Hungary surrendering (or even switch sides while giving up their annexed territory) and Roumania doing the same, although both countries are bound to have Nazi or Soviet coups (Arrow Cross for Hungary and maybe the communists for Roumania?) as per OTL.

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  11. #4851
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    The Balkan situation will be addressed in the next update. I have to stop play Railroad Tycoon 2 now, finish the update for OTS and then write that part so that I can start Operation Downfall on the 24th....
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  12. #4852
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    The Balkan situation will be addressed in the next update. I have to stop play Railroad Tycoon 2 now, finish the update for OTS and then write that part so that I can start Operation Downfall on the 24th....
    Hehe, that sounds like a nice Christmas gift for us, trek.

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  13. #4853
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Well, turns out that Operation Downfall has to wait some. The two Argentine Cruisers turned out to be more resilient to treatment by HM's fleet than expected, so very, very many apoligies from me, and most importantly: Happy Holidays!
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  14. #4854
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    Chapter 270



    The Headquarters of Oberbefehlshaber Süd were a bustling hive of activity at the best of times. Unlike the minuscule sardine can that was the Headquarters of the Befehlshaber der U-Boote, Admiral Dönitz in France the Vienna Headquarters of Field Marshal von Kluge were located in three adjoining buildings grouped around the Palais Augarten, the 17th Century feel of the park and the buildings marred by the gigantic Wireless antennae and the comings and goings of German and Soviet Army vehicles.

    Reason for the recent surge in activity was the progress that the Allied forces in Austria had made, and history would mark today, the 20th August 1942 as the date when the Axis Command for the first time felt actual panic over anything the Allies did. The breakthrough left them less than 200 kilometres from Vienna and still the Führer refused to release the reserves, and Stalin, while receptive could do little since Austria fell into the German area of Command. Having just sent a message to the OKW, again imploring them to release the reserve, Field Marshal von Kluge came to realize that one way or another the next few days would decide his future. After pausing for a few seconds, he shook his head as if to chase his inner weakness and the sensation of squeezing in his chest. He shrugged it off and walked towards the map room as if nothing had happened, while inside him the pain only increased. But he was a German Field Marshal, and he refused to acknowledge weakness in an hour of need, even though the pain now extended to his left arm.

    He made it into the map room and opened his mouth to speak but instead he collapsed to the floor and was dead before coming to rest. It was later determined that Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge had died of a simple heart attack brought on by stress and a weakened heart due to an undiagnosed case of Coronary disease.


    What was instantly clear was that Oberkommando Süd had been decapacitated and the hour it took to hunt down von Kluge's second in Command, General der Infanterie Harpe who was in a Staff Car somewhere between Budapest and Vienna, coming back from a Staff Conference with the Hungarian High Command. The delay brought about by this not only allowed the Allies to cover almost thirty miles without significant resistance before halting in the later afternoon, it also critically delayed the German reactions to incidents farther south. At first however the news was communicated to Berlin where it was met with confusion. While there were several good Officers capable of taking over, few were senior enough or had Hitler's good graces. In fact there were only three men that could technically do it, but Guderian was currently in Moscow together with Zhukov trying to get a view of the mess that was the Far Eastern Front, while von Manstein was currently en route on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Omsk, officially to do the same thing as Guderian but rather from a more 'forward' point of view, while behind closed doors some said that it was because Manstein had said less than pleasant things about certain contingency plans that the OKW had been working on since the fall of Rome to the Allies. Thirdly Field Marshal Rommel was currently heavily engaged with the French who were always trying to get out of the mountains and into the countryside and could hardly be expected to abandon his command at the drop of a hat in the middle of a major battle. So for the moment Harpe was made acting OB-Süd as soon as he could be reached as he entered the limits of the former Austrian Capital. However by that time farther south Allied aircraft and most of the Mediterranean Fleet (such as it was these days) had begun what some believed to be Churchill's attempt and eradicating the shame of Galipoli and invaded occupied Albania.



    Operation Downfall, however important it would turn out to be later on was not on the mind of most who met in a non-descript Office in Budapest that afternoon. Great care had been taken that the men would arrive unseen the night before, and that they were seen only by the most trusted of the Regent's men. Representing Bulgaria was the vice Chairman of Parliament Dimitar Peshev, pushed to the sidelines by both the authoritarian regime of Tsar Boris III and the pro-german stance of most of the executive, representing the interests of the King of Romania but not his Prime Minister was Doctor Bumbescu, close friend of the young King[1]. Miklós Horthy was quite obviously representing Hungary and his mere presence told the others of the sincerity of the situation.






    After drinks were exchanged, Horty spoke.



    “The British and their Allies can practically spit across the Hungarian border. The Yugoslav Monarchists have all but taken most of the country, and we have reports of at least two British mechanized Cavalry Divisions supporting them. The Germans keep yelling louder for me to deploy I Army to Austria instead of ceeping them where they are now. Let's face it, the Germans and the Soviets will soon have been ejected from the Balkans and then the British can dictate their will. We must decided what to do, and frankly if we can speak with one voice, the British might be more willing to listen.”

    Murmurs of general agreement went through the room.

    Bumbescu, ever the diplomat, voiced his objections first. “Forgive me for saying this, but His Majesty isn't exactly the one who dictates Romanian policy, as much as he might want to, and we all have Army groups from either of our benefactors sitting across the border. In fact, I firmly believe that both Berlin and Moscow have plans to act against what you seem to be proposing.”

    Before anyone could accuse the King of cowardice, he raised his hand. “However, if His Majesty were to regain control of Romania and could be assured Bulgarian and Hungarian support then the Romanian Armed Forces will fight, rest assured of that, especially if it means that the British stop boming Ploesti.”

    Peshev nodded, indicating agreement with this positon.

    “We too have been 'asked' on when our troops can be deployed beyond our own borders. So far we have managed to stall especially the Soviets with saying that we need them to guard against incursions from Yugoslavia, but our General Staff believes that this will not fool them for longer. In fact we have already made tentative contact with the representatives of the King of Yugoslavia, and if need be we can use that as a channel to the British.”

    That was news to everyone else, and Horty had to digest this news before laying out the position of his own country.


    “As you know, we have troops that are already in the perfect position to either fall in the flanks of the Allies should they besiege Vienna or into that of the Germans should they hold them where the front is now. The big question now is, what are we going to do? We cannot allow our countries to be ravaged by a war not of our own making.”


    Peshev had to suppress a disgusted snort. It had been Horty who had jumped at the chance of carving some of the ancient Crown lands of St. Stephen off Yugoslavia and whose troops had actively taken part in the invasion of the same country. Still, the man did have a point. Hungary had, for all it's support to the Axis, been a lukewarm supporter of Greater Germany since the little Austrian Corporal had signed the alliance with the abortive Georgian Prest, what with Horty being a more devout Christian than most of the upper Axis leadership.

    “If anything,” Horty went on, “if we jump ship now, we can expect lenient terms.”

    Again true, Peshev admitted to himself. Italy might have been ravaged by the war almost everywhere north of Rome, but they had the Germans and the Soviets to thank for that, unoccupied southern Italy was mostly left alone even though the British were systematically purging the civilian administration of the Facists. They had recently ceeded control of Italy south of the old German Gustav Line to the Italian Government, and it was rumoured that an Italian co-belligerent Army was being raised too. Between them the Balkan nations had Armies of various degrees of effectiveness and could also hand the British the biggest European oil deposits outside the Soviet Union.

    That alone would make an impressive barganing chip, if only Bulgaria was allowed to keep the Monarchy, and he strongly suspected that this also held true for Romania.

    “But what is to stop the Soviets and the Germans from simply rolling across our borders? We cannot hope to hold them on our own.” Bumbescu asked.

    Horty only smiled and the others watched as the Admiral without Navy or coastline folded out papers.

    “Our men in the staffs of the Axis powers have asked some discreet and seemingly innocent questions.”

    Everyone noted the use of 'Axis powers'.

    “From what we know we could do the following. I Army is as you know perfectly positoned to ward off any attacks by the Axis reserves around Vienna, the remainder of our Army, including I Armoured Divison which is equipped with the latest model of German Tanks is purposefully kept in eastern Hungary. All in all twenty-five Divisions of which six are already in position. The remaining could easily be deployed to hold the rest of our borders within half a day, in fact we have plans for this already.”

    Admitting this was a great risk, but it showed the others his sincerity.


    “I have been instructed by his Majesty to tell you that Romania has currently sixteen Divisions in the field.” Pehsev said, “but if we were to mobilize all our reserves and call for volunteers we could raise another four Militia Divisions within two weeks, probably more after that.”

    “Bulgaria has twelve Divisions and an independent Armoured Brigade.”

    Horty gave a wolfish smile. “That means overall we could give the Allies fifty-three Divisions. The question is, if we do it, will our soldiers and Civilians support it?”

    “We would fight against both Russians and Communists, Bulgaria will fight.”

    “As will Romania. Marshal Antonescu might be a power-mad bastard, but he doesn't have the support of the people.”

    “Hungary will too. Admittedly it was a mistake to wed ourselves this close with Germany, and....”

    “But what about the Iron Guard, or the Arrow Cross in your very own country, Admiral?” Peshev asked, having resigned himself to playing the Devil's advocate.

    “I cannot speak for the Iron Guard of course, Mr. Chairman, but the Arrow Cross will bloody well do what it's being told, especially since doing otherwise would mean even more active support for the Communists.”

    Horty paused.

    “Also, if we play this right, the Arrow Cross at least can be a willing tool in our extracting ourselves from the Axis powers.”


    No more words were forthcoming.

    In the decades to come legends would rank around the meeting, as almost everything was ascribed to it by Historians and laymen alike, but no minutes were taken and neither of the men ever disclosed the actual words. All that history recorded for certain was that this very evening secret, sealed orders were delivered by trusted men to various Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian commands and offices. What is also known that when the deadly tired men emerged the following morning, a previously scheduled state visit for Marshal Antonescu in Hungary suddenly received close attention by the Hungarian secret Service and that in map rooms all over Europe the Albanian charts were dusted off and that the seditious plans of the minor axis powers received a new urgency...

    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

    Griffin, this one is for you. While I hate to use anti-communism as a deus ex machina even more than I have already, I feel that TTL those groups will follow whoever leads them the farthest away from Moscow.



    [1] Who is still alive btw.
    Last edited by trekaddict; 25-12-2010 at 21:57.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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    Hehehe, oh yes. I'm sure ze Führer will finally deploy the reserves now.
    Although I doubt the fascist parties in the countries will really support the decision, I'm sure they will stay quiet since they'll be fighting the Communists as well. Hopefully these countries will deal with them later on.

    Good work trek, Merry Christmas!

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    Just caught up again with this magnificent work. Fantastic reading!
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    Griffin.GenThat he will. I'll post the next chapter later today, which will push things forward a bit.

    Kurt_Steiner Not necessarily. It all depends on the situation at the front when the Axis finds out.

    Sir Humphrey Thank you!
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    Chapter 271



    “General Freyberg?” asked the Polish Navy Commander aboard the PNE[1] flagship the New Zealand General.

    General Freyberg, late of the New Zealand Infantry Division, II (ANZAC) Corps and now of 2nd ANZAC Army looked up from the papers he had been reading and nodded in reply. “Tell Commodore Dzienisiewicz that I will be right up.”

    He walked through the corridors of ORP Conrad where he had spent the last three days and stepped onto the bridge after announcing himself. She was a surprisingly new ship, considering that at first the idea had been to give the Poles a clapped out WW1 era cruiser, but instead a brand-new Southampton-Class had been leased for a symbolic £1 a year. Up top Freyberg could see HMS Nelson, flagship and at the same time only Dreadnought of the skeletonized Mediterranean Fleet, and as Freyberg watched she was opening fire at the only known Axis presence around the Albanian Harbour of Durres, a long since disused Italian airbase that had for a time been used by Soviet Naval Aviation before events in Italy and Yugoslavia had rendered the position there untenable and the planes had been pulled out. Aerial reconnaissance from Italy had shown little to no movement near the shores that wasn't coming from the locals, an as the landing craft closed to to the shore, Freyberg could see the local fishing boats tied to the quay in the harbour.



    ORP Conrad off Albania



    The Polish Navy Commodore handed Freyberg a message.

    “1st Australian is ashore and the New Zealand Division is following.” Freyberg thought about things for a second and then turned to Dzienisiewicz. “Commodore, may I trouble you for a boat?”

    They had pre-arranged a suitably representative boat for the General before he had even come aboard and within fifteen minutes, the New Zealander was stepping ashore in Albania.





    As was expected the Albanian countryside was mostly empty and for the entirety of the first day the only contact that the Australian forces made with the enemy were patrol actions and several weakly defended roadblocks on the road towards Tirana. The Lt. General who commanded the occupation forces in Albania knew full well that he was doomed, as Yugoslav partisans had cut the Telegraph and Telephone lines that connected him to even Sofia, and even though he had adopted a 'live and let live' attitude towards the partisan movement he was still determined to do is duty and had concentrated the half of his forces within easy reach around Tirana, with the other covering the southern Harbours which would make it harder for the Canadians to go ashore in three day's time. For once British Signal Intelligence had been wrong, overall the German and Soviet Forces equalled at most a reinforced Division, the dispersed nature of the occupation had fooled the analysts enough to overestimate the German strenght.

    Even so it would not have mattered. Tirana was not even seventeen miles as the crow flies from the coast, and after a day of easy advancing the 1st Australian Division and later also elements of the New Zealand Division engaged 'Kampfgruppe Weber' as the polyglot force had bee dubbed after Lt.General Harald Weber. The Axis forces were greatly hampered by obsolete and scarce equipment, low ammunition stocks and even lower morale, but even so they fought hard for most of the afternoon.



    The entirety of Axis Armour left in the country consisted of Panzerjäger Abteilung 233 which was equipped with obsolete Panzerjäger I and obsolescent Marder II[1] which, for all their value against tanks were hampered by the lack of HE-shells. However the Australians did not know this and had difficulties at first when the point unit, the Far North Queensland Regiment, encountered the 233rd. Knowing that they would eventually be overcome no matter what they did, the commander of the unit had deployed his units slightly below the top of a hill overlooking the main road into the Albanian capital. The Queenslanders soon spotted this position, but since the Artillery was lagging behind and there was no getting the convoy past the hill without it being shot to bits.




    There was no alternative to simply climbing the hill and digging the Germans out of their holes. The moment they stepped into the open they drew fire and even anti-tank fire was deadly when a lucky hit was scored. As it was they were lucky, as the Soviet Infantry Company that was supposed to support the six German vehicles was nowhere to be seen and half an hour later and after inflicting very light losses (One dead, thirteen wounded) surrendered. The sole Marder II remaining was blown up and the Germans sent back under escort by the walking wounded, an agreement having been reached that no funny business would be started. The convoy of the remainder of the Division again got orders to advance and soon the Division was embroiled with the remainder of the Axis defences around Tirana, but if anyone expected urban combat on the scale previously experienced he would be gravely disappointed because Axis morale was at a low. Caught between experienced and lavishly equipped Allied troops on one side and a city that was about to boil over on the other, General Weber was soon face with the choice of either surrendering his command in spite of orders from Berlin or start shooting civilians. To his credit he chose the former and even though it took several hours to arrange something, the next morning Tirana was free again.

    Having captured the Albanian capital two days ahead of schedule, Freyberg used the time thus gained to strengthen his position, sending his New Zealanders southwards towards where Weber's second in Command was trying to decide what to do with his half of the forces. In the meantime the rest of the Army was busy unloading and this prevented Freyberg from advancing too far beyond Tirana, but luckily the 1st South African Infantry Divisions had managed to put 2nd Brigade ashore even though they were light on equipment for most of the night, and by the 21st the Allied front consisted of a bulge around Tirana and a second one inching its way towards the Greek border, the Kiwis having orders to take it slow lest there be a rupture in the supply lines.


    In Berlin the rage was great and Hitler threw the biggest tantrum since the Italian surrender. He immediately ordered 'all our Forces in Yugoslavia, the Bulgarian and Romanian Forces to attack and crush the Australian beachhead'. The Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Halder passed the order on, but did point out to Hitler that it would be 'at least several days' before any move could be made and that the OKH suspected that the Canadians would soon be landed there too, bringing Allied forces in Albania up to near twenty first-line Divisions. Once he had calmed down Hitler relented, but insisted on an attack 'as soon as practicable'.



    Meanwhile in the Balkan Capitals of the Axis' unwilling minor members the news of the Invasion was greeted with a mixture of glee and concern. On one hand they had been vindicated in their assessment that the Allies would soon make a move, but on the other hand they knew that the Germans would soon demand that their troops be sent south and this time there wouldn't be any convenient excuses, and plans were accelerated. The only problem was that Marshal Antonescu refused to leave Romania at a time like this and Horty considered trying to goad Antonescu into coming by means of insulting him personally when instead the King communicated under great personal risk that he was meeting with sympathetic Army Officers, quite obviously preparing a coup that (equally obviously) had been in planning for some time but not talked about for security reasons.

    It was still all terribly rushed but clearly time was running out.[2]

    Another effect of Operation Downfall was immediate even though the connection wouldn't be known until after the war: Hitler, after consulting with Halder and the current Soviet Liaison appointed a new OB Süd at last when Harpe proved to be too slow for Hitler's taste to decided what to do (not that anyone could have acted faster in the circumstances).

    After long deliberations that mainly consisted of Halder trying to convince Hitler of someone else without loosing his head, a message was sent to Marseilles, and soon the renewed OB Süd was back on his post.




    Even though Hitler never fully forgave Rommel the loss of Italy, with his admittedly brilliant defence of southern France the Field Marshal had bought himself back into Hitler's good graces, and was now given an assignment that seemed increasingly impossible. Even though at the time no one within the German Military or the Intelligence Services of Nazi Germany nor the Soviet Union knew anything about the coup plans in Romania or the general idea of the minor Axis nations to change sides, Rommel was like most of the higher Officer Corps in the Wehrmacht convinced that should Vienna fall and the Axis position be shifted north of the Alps all sorts of trouble were inevitable, never mind that the loss of the toehold south of Vienna was going to be irreversible, as both sides had blown or mined all the passes to the degree that many wouldn't be fully usable again until the early 1950s.

    He was also well aware that the best chance to buy himself some time to rebuild things before the ANZAC and likely also the Canadian Armies marched into Ploesti cheered on by the Balkan troops, and arrived in Vienna with the release for the reserves, Schwere Panzerabdteilung 527 using the eleven prototype and pre-series Tigers of both types[3] and most importantly a rough plan already formulated in his mind. True, the 527th was already on it's way even when Rommel had been appointed.


    Within hours of the arrival of the new OB Süd the Divisions of the Strategic Reserve were moving out of their camps around Vienna and advanced westwards.

    While all this was going on a message wormed itself through the Allied Chain of Command from the liaison with the Yugoslav Royalists about a Bulgarian Officer who had requested a meeting with the highest-ranking British Officer to be found....



    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

    Up next: (Even) More trouble on the Balkans! Anyhoo, Operation Downfall was meant to be anti-climactic to begin with, sorry to disappoint....




    [1]TTL made to cope with Allied Cromwells, equipped with the OTL 75mm.

    [2] Hint: Right about now a certain Mr. Clarkson would say: “How hard can it be?”

    [3] The Porsche Tiger looks like this:

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    It would be high time for someone with a black patch to put a "specially suited" briefcase under Adolf's nose...
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