I haven't taken my eye off Japan for one moment in this game and it's not going to stop. They're not only my greatest threat, but the Axis Power I'm best equipped to potentially defeat.
Originally Posted by Lamahorse
The next carrier is set to finish in mid-late 1941, I think. Not sure on the rest off the top of my head, but I'm working on a third carrier and some light cruisers with research plans for a proper Battleship (because one is very useful for various reasons). In case it isn't obvious, the Navy + Light Aircraft has been my absolute highest priority so far.
Chapter 2.5 - Operation Alsatian
The Dutch East Indies now fell under the administration of the British Empire.
The situation in the Far East was slowly deteriorating. British spotters and spies had detected increasing activity by the Imperial Japanese Navy and an offensive against British holdings was deemed inevitable at this point. It was well known by the world that in the event of Japan's entry into the war, the Dutch East Indies would become their primary target. Japan's exhausting demand for oil was the greatest weakness of her mighty Empire as she produced only a fraction of the required amount. The Dutch East Indies, however, presented an opportunity for formidable gains. The Dutch would be unable to defend themselves against Japanese attack, their defences were weak and underorganized. After some debate, it was agreed that the Dutch would surrender command of their forces to the British East Indian Army, based in Singapore. It was hoped that this would lead to greater organization and support from the only nation that would be able to save them in the event of war.
Meanwhile in the Mediterranean, the Royal Australian Navy was not resting idly, but still engaged in active battle with the Regia Marina. Following the successful landings in Southern Sardinia, the Australian Squadron was finally free to support the HMS Vanguard in her battles off the Gulf of Tunis. Presented with an influx of new cruisers, the threat of the ever-present British fleets and Allied air superiority, it seemed hopeless for the Italians. They retreated before their cruisers were lost for good.
On April 7th, the Italian garrison at Sardinia knew it had been defeated. Although they had made it to Tortoli, the roads north were completely occupied by Australian cavalry. Even if they were to try and stage some kind of escape off the east coast - a feat deemed as impossible by commanders under so much pressure - the Marina had been driven back to Palermo.
All resistance to Australian occupation had been crushed within the week.
The surrender of Sardinia to Australia was a decisive victory and the successful operation, dubbed Corkscrew, was greeted with great enthusiasm by Allied Commanders. All pressure had vanished from the Alpine Front, although Italian troops were still too numerous to stage a serious assault. It seemed that Mussolini had underestimated the Australian front and was attempting to muster some kind of response to this now credible threat on their country.
The Port at Palermo was a haven of sorts for the Regia Marina - but not a safe one.
Although the Regia Marina had escaped, scout planes had tailed the fleet's return to harbour at Palermo. The Naval Base was well-defended and dangerous, equipped with static anti-air emplacements and a strong garrison. As long as Palermo was free to operate, the Italians had a dominant position from which they could strike out in any direction. The Italians had clearly underestimated the offensive capacity of the British, for air patrols revealed little other defence on the island, suggesting that Sicily was vulnerable and ripe for the picking. The invasion began with the fleet - at dawn, Australian Nimrods and Sea Gladiators fell from the cloudy sky to unleash a rain of bombs on the city and its important port facilities.
The Australian Raids were a strong initial success. A number of subs were struck by the bombs and completely destroyed, while the Italian cruiser fleet was further damaged. The Regia Marina was suffering too from British and French sea and air attacks - a raid in the afternoon successfully struck and destroyed RM Muzio Attendolo with a bomb that pierced the deck and ignited an ammunition store. Several others were hit but the damage was mostly superficial - Australian bombers were suffering from the inability to drop torpedoes into the shallow harbour, and thus an inability to damage Italy's surface vessel below the water line. Nonetheless, the raid had weakened Italy's naval capacity and made it clear that the Italians were not safe even in their own home. The RAAF was constantly ready to scramble against Italian counterattacks, but no aircraft were forthcoming.
Another Corps, this time of New Zealand troops, were loaded onto transports in preparation for further operations in Italy. This time the target was larger, more important and more exposed to Italian counterattack: Sicily. The New Zealanders were a brave lot, and Commonwealth generals expected them to spearhead the attack on Italy. They took on this intimidating task with gusto.
The New Zealand Expeditionary Corps lands near Trapani, along with General Cannan, who was in charge of the operation.
The landings near Trapani were unopposed by the Italians, but the New Zealanders wouldn't be pleased if they didn't get a fight. It was less than a day before they got theri wish.
The Battle of Trapani was short-lived between elements of the Italian garrison and the New Zealand Light Infantry. The Corps acted bravely with distinction and honour, driving the Italians back mercilessly and again causing heavy casualties to the attacking battalion. Command was soon pleased to hear that its troops had full control of the situation and the attack on Palermo began as soon as sufficient units were organized and in their planned positions.
Sicily suffered from severe troop shortages. Around 7,000 men were assigned to defend Palermo, and little else.
Captured areas revealed severe social tensions within the country. Many Italians resented Mussolini and his rule, and Lord Gowrie was no exception. Wherever possible, troops were instructed to use local partisans in order to win a battle or to secure their supply lines; those sick of the Fascist regime eagerly took up this task.
The First Offensives come to Palermo on April 9th.
ANZAC brought several fine divisions to Sicily, including New Zealand's light horse division. Although the Italians were not necessarily poorly equipped, their training left much to be desired and they had no stomach for the war. Mussolini had led them into a losing battle and unsurprisingly, Australia's opponents did not offer any form of stiff resistance to the invasion of Italy.
New Zealand divisions quickly move to entangle and ensnare the city in their trap, ignoring the tempting city of Agrigento to the southwest.
The New Zealand forces assaulted Palermo relentlessly, supported by aircraft and shelling from the nearby Australian fleet. The ships trapped in harbour fired off their guns in futility, trying to strike any soldiers or ships caught in the open. Without any proper scout planes, the Italians were unable to see where they were shooting; few casualties were caused.
Palermo becomes the second garrison to fall to Australia's expert offensives.
Although the Italians resisted the edge of the city to the end, by the evening it was clear that they could not hold and most surrendered, earning another swathe of "casualties" for the growing Australian lists to claim.
1st Cavalry rides for Messina to try and escure the straits.
Without waiting for backup, the 1st Cavalry made their way towards Messina as quickly as possible - the infantry were left to secure Palermo for the Allied cause. It was hoped that the Cavalry could establish a fair beachhead on the "boot" of Italy before enemy reinforcements arrived. The Italians offered no serious resistance and many civilians in fact embraced the Australians as liberators from Mussolini's rule.
France's defensive lines against the Germans were rapidly crumbling as the Hun pierced every available weak point in an all-out attack. He now seemed unstoppable.
Meanwhile in France, things had gone from bad to worse. With the Germans on open terrain, their tanks were easily able to outmanoeuvre the slower British and French forces. Forming encirclements, they captured enemies and struck other formations from behind, forcing the Allies onto the back foot. As they redirected troops to the Maginot hole, other areas became weak and easily exploited by Germany's well-designed armour. The Luftwaffe commanded the skies now and little opposition was forthcoming.
German Panzers ford a flooded street in Central Belgium as part of a major offensive.
The Belgian Front was considered untenable. As French and British forces pulled back to try and stem the Maginot Hole, the Belgians were increasingly left to fend for themselves. Outnumbered and outgunned, they were forced to fall back on every front. It was not long until Brussels fell, German armour sweeping through the flooding region as quickly as weather permitted. Spring weather was treacherous but even that could not save the Allies from Germany's advance. On April 12th, it soon became clear that Belgium had lost its cohesiveness as a state and as a fighting force.
The Allied situation was as grim as it had ever been, and the victories of Australia turned to ashes in its mouth as France faced looming defeat against Germany...
Apr 6th - Apr 12th
ANZAC Expeditionary Army:
365 soldiers killed
Royal Australian Air Force:
4 Short Sunderland Patrol Bombers lost
Royal Australian Navy:
13 Hawker Nimrod Carrier Planes lost
8 Gloster Sea Gladiator Carrier Planes lost
1,290 soldiers killed
11,312 soldiers captured
RM Muzio Attendolo
Very sleepy while writing this, apologise for any dumb writing mistakes I missed, but I didn't feel like waiting until I was awake to post!