FUORI DELLA STORIA L’UOMO È NULLA
August 1st 1939 – November 6th 1939
NEW POST July 7th
NORTH AMERICA SERIES GAME #4
Players (11/11): AXIS (Germany (2), Italy, Japan & Romania), ALLIES (UK, USA, France, Canada & Australia), KOMINTERN (USSR) – China is now under AI control
IL FASCI ITALIANI DI COMBATTIMENTO
Campagna di Francia
Italy and its fascist brothers, Germany and Romania, joined their efforts to get rid of the bolshevism threat growing in Western Europe by declaring war on France and its Allies, Poland and the United Kingdom, on September 1st 1939. The main Italian goal was to secure the areas of Mondane, Nice and Corsica, while its brothers in arms were pushing through the Ardennes to break the main French lines. As a secondary objective, Italy wanted to break the French fleet and secure the Southern shores of France to avoid any attempt by its Allies to reinforce her by sea.
The Italian offensive debut, supervised by the Regio Esercito Commando, were limited to Nice, were the Corpo d’Armata I sent 3 divisions (“Superga”, “Venezia” and “Pinerala”) in a frontal assault on the city’s defences, supported by air assault of the Squadra Aeronautica “Pompei” and Squadra Bombardieri “Achille”. French reactions were rather soft at first, as no movement could be observed on the frontier, until after one week of fighting, when troops based in Marseilles (cavalry and armoured vehicles brigades) moved out of the city to reinforce the main lines to the East.
Seizing their chances, after patrolling submarines duly reported those movements to the Corpo d’armata V based in Genoa, Superiore Commando asked the Invasione Flotilla I to set sail to Gulf of Lyon and launch the previously planned amphibious assault (as per by-law 1938-001108, “Operation Aggiri (Outflank)”).
Things went rather well for the Regia Marina, as most assault crafts were able to land safely and troops quickly secured Marseilles and its suburbs.
[NDLR: Check the next section to learn more on how the Regia Marina made that amphibious assault possible, as the French fleet, among others, aggressively devoted itself to prevent it].
French attempt to take back the city were quickly driven back as Divisione “Sassari” launched a pre-emptive assault against the fast moving French cavalry unit, while Divisione “Isonzo” attacked along the shore the small garrison in Toulon. Again, the French garrison was quickly defeated, caught unprepared. French armoured cars could be seen fleeing across the campaign, in disarray. This assault was quickly followed by a 2nd one, this time right behind Nice. The 2 divisions quickly moved to trap Nice defenders, as Divisione “Cacciatori del Alpi” attacked Nice from the Western suburbs, while Divisione “Sforzesca” moved North to enlarge the encirclement. As this movement was shaping out, 5 mountain divisions on the French border launched a simultaneous attack on the province of Barcelonette to cut any retreating route to Nice’s defenders.
After 6 weeks of intense fighting on the border, the French lines started to crack in mid-October. To quell this threat, French reinforcements started to flow in, coming from main France and from... Australia, because the Regia Marina failed to successfully achieve its task to prevent reinforcements from coming in from the sea.
[NDLR: Check next section to learn more about this “failure” of the Regia Marina].
About 4 Aussie divisions, maybe 5, landed safely West of Marseilles and started a forward march against the most advanced Italians unit. Outmatched 4 to 1, the Commando Superiore ordered a quick retreat tot Toulon. The Aussie, poorly equipped in anti-tank weapons, or just stunned by Italians counter measures (a surprise attack by the Armoured Division “Eugenio di Savoia”), had to stop momentarily their advance.
Allies made multiple attempts to break the Italian lines and create a pocket, or it seems so. Italians made multiple attempts to break through French lines and push forward to completely secure the Southern shores. While Allies failed to create any kind of pocket, because quick reinforcement of its main lines allowed Italy to break French attempts, the Aussies managed to push back Italians up to Toulon, even occupying it for a mere afternoon, before Italians, led by Corpo V Commander Zingales, took it back. But Marseilles was freed by the Aussies who used it as their main base to evacuate France before losing too much material… as France was showing signs of distress in the North since Germany broke through Belgium lines in less than a month and kept pushing forward toward Paris…
Francia meridionale (Southern France)
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Francia settentrionale (Northern France)
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As per by-law 1937-00608, Our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, ordered the Regia Marina to take all measures necessary to secure the Mediterranean Sea. The objective of this order was not only to make sure Italians shores would be safe from invasions, but most of all to drive out of the Med any opponent Navy. This huge task could not be assigned to any other arm than the Regia Marina, and it accepted to devote all its energy to fulfilling this task. Regia Aeronautica was asked to support the Regia Marina at all cost. With the conflict starting as early as September 1st, the Regia Marina would soon have a chance (chances?) to prove its valour.
L'attacco di Marseilles (Attack on Marseilles)
As the ground offensive was underway near Nice, the Regia Aeronautica started a massive campaign of ports attack on the French fleet. The primary target of the Squadra Aeronautica “Pompei” and “Cesare” were the French transport fleet based in Marseilles. Some air operations were also conducted against the French fleet based in Corsica.
Air assault on Marseilles was like turkey shooting and, after 1 week of intensive day and night bombing, 3 cargos were sunk and 4 others were severely damaged. After two weeks, the whole French transport fleet was lying at the bottom of the sea, thanks to additional operations conducted by German naval bombing squadrons.
Battaglia dello stretto di Bonifacio (Battle of Bonifacio Strait, near Corsica)
Regia Marina Intel showed that the French fleet was split in two separate task forces in the Med, one based in Toulon and a 2nd one based in Corsica. As the Italian amphibious assault was under preparation, it was of the utmost importance to secure the sea areas near Marseilles before the launching of Operation “Bouillabaisse”. The key to such an achievement was to lure out the French fleet and destroy it.
On September 5th, the Ricognizione Squadra B, 3 old destroyers of WWI class, was sent in the Bonifacio Strait to patrol the area for submarines. Some were reported by previous patrols and it was a nice occasion to seize to do some ASW. More important, such operation could lure out the French fleet based in Corsica. The French took the bait and they quickly sent their Corsica task force to sail out and intercept the Italian recognition fleet.
As the Regia Marina had foreseen such an attempt, Flotillas di battaglia I, II, III & IV based in Genoa (totaling 12 capital ships out of 24) moved out on an intercepting course with the French fleet.
At 10h14, on September 7th, the mighty Regia Marina, under the command of De Zara, spotted the Corsica French fleet and ordered the most advanced units, namely the Vittorio Veneto and the Littorio, two “Classe Littorio navi da battaglia”, to engage the enemy and stop its progression, as the rest of the task force could position itself and break the French fleet. BBs Paris and Courbet (pride of the fleet) were quickly engaged by the Vittorio Veneto and the Littorio. Both Italian vessels had a better positioning and they started to shell the Courbet with everything they got. Before noon, smoke could be seen stemming from the Courbet, as the ship was clearly banking on its left. The Vittorio Veneto registered the honor of sinking the French admiral ship, while the Littorio scored many hits on the Paris.
At midday, the Roma and the Impero, the other 2 new “navi da battaglia” joined the battle, supported by the 4 older BBs, and their escorts. By that time, a 2nd French fleet had joined the fight. Almost 40 ships were engaged in the battle from both sides.
De Zara’s battle plan was to engage the French fleets from both sides, thus limiting their ability to retaliate to every ships firing at it. The Roma-Impero duo would form the 1st pincer, while the Littorio-Vittorio Veneto duo would form the 2nd one. The rest of the fleet would form a line on the South to take the French fleets at a 90 angle and block their movement.
At 15h32, BBs Paris was in flame, 2 turrets down and its main engine on fire, struck by a magnificent shot of CA Fiume. Less than 30 minutes later, the fore spread to the armory, thus creating a chain of dreadful events in the French capital ship, who was abandoned by its crew. One French destroyer was also sunk by a shelling wave from the Vittorio Veneto, while trying to cover the Duquesne while the latter was trying to retreat from the battle. Mortally wounded, the Duquesne was later scuttled by the French.
By dawn, the French fleet fled the battle. De Zara was victorious. During the fight, the Italians lost 3 DD, while the French lost 2 BB (Paris & Courbet*), 2 CA, 1 LC, 1 DD & 2 Subs.
Onori a quelli che è caduto (Honor the fallen)
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Battaglia della Costa della Sardegna (Battle of Sardinia Island; West Coast)
Eager to reinforce ailing French, the Brits, the Canadians and the Aussies mounted a vast operation to reinforce the Southern France by Sea. Operation “Salvation”, according to the papers the Italian Intelligence Services were able to steal from the Allies before this operation was launched, showed, among other things, the sea route those convoys would take and the size of its escorting armada. Tabling on the potential veracity of those documents – they could have been forged but given the situation in France, it looks improbable – the Regia Marina ordered Flotillas di battaglia I, II and III, the later reinforced by 1 BB and 1 more screen ship to raise its size to 8 ships, to move out of Genoa and intercept the Allies convoys.
According to the Salvation papers, the escort would be light, as no CV had been allocated to this task by the UK. Nevertheless, UK chose to dispatch the HMS Glorious Carrier task Force to escort the Salvation fleet. Spotted early, and before it could join the main transport fleet, by Palermo observation posts, the UK CTF was intercepted by Cesare Naval Bomber Squadron over the Tunis Gulf, which delayed further its advance and caused it to lag behind the main fleet. This would prove lethal to the Allies fleet.
On September 27th, around 6h00 AM, the Italian Fleet, under the command of Campioni I, intercepted the most advanced unit of the Allies fleet, a Aussie destroyer, quickly sunk by the Vittorio Veneto. The Allies fleet had nowhere to retreat as the Italian BBs, powerful and at full speed, quickly engaged the Allies. The Italian Fleet was able to move through the Allies lines to close in and fire at convoys and troops transports at point blank. Many convoys and cargos were heavily damaged and the Allies formation of battle looked, very soon, like anything but a tight formation. After 2 hours, most of the transport ships were trying to escape the battlefield, heavily damaged.
At 10h45, S.O.S. from the 9th Aussie cargos was heard by UK CTF which was now in range of the battle and thus able to launch a 1st wave of Swordfish. Regia Aeronautica, alerted by Admiral Campioni I, quickly reacted to this by sending the Squadra Aerea Avvoltoio (Vultures Squadron) to intercept the Brits Swordfish. Outmatched, the Swordfish were taken down one at a time by the superior Reggiane Re 2000 Falco. The Brits quickly lost contact with the 1st wave… and then, with their 2nd wave.
At 13h35, British CA, escorting the HMS Glorious, entered the dance, as HMS Kent and London engaged the Italians. As the battle progressed, Italians managed to get rid of the HMS Glorious escort and close in. By the end of the afternoon, the Vittorio Veneto got its 3 turrets in position to fire at the HMS Glorious. The lightly armoured carrier vessel was an easy prey to this modern war machine. Five hits were recorded by the sighting team. After 20 minutes of intense firing, the HMS Glorious turned into a burning hell. His Majesty just lost its first carrier vessel of the war. “This is embarrassing”, were the only words that could be heard when the King was informed of this failure of the Royal Navy.
During the battle, the Regia Marina lost 1 submarine, while the Royal Navy lost 1 CV (HMS Glorious), 1 CA and 2 LC. The Aussie lost 1 cargo, while the Canadians avoided the engagement, retreating in time. Other Allies ships were deemed heavily damaged as further battles would prove.
Following this major victory, the Vittorio Venetto was named “L'Orgoglio della Flotta” (Pride of the Fleet) by our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, during a ceremony in Roma, where the whole crew, as a unit, was given the Fascist Medal of Bravery, and Admiral Campioni I obtained the Royal Cross of Bravery, awarded by King Victor Emanuel III himself in recognition of his actions in the name of Italy.
Vittoria del combattente (Victory of the fighter)
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Battaglia della Costa de Marseilles
As Allies’ cargos managed to get through Sardinia Coast, Aussies were able to land on France shores and start their operations to stall the Italians advance in Southern France. A series of naval skirmishes were fought to prevent Allies from either reinforcing the Aussies, the French or to take the Aussies out of France in the last days of the French Communist regime. Among those battles, there is one where 5 Aussie cargos and 1 LC was sunk, South of Marseilles. During the month of October, the Aussie lost a total of 19 ships (2 CA, 5 LC, 1 DD and 11 cargos), while they sunk 2 Italian ships (1 DD and 1 Submarine).
Nonetheless, the French had the upper hand in the last days of October, when the remnant of their fleet caught off guard one Italian fleet, exhausted by multiple battles. During that battle, Italy lost 1 BB (Caio Duilio) and a couple of screen ships, without being effective at all. This was a balm on France wound as, since the start of the war, they had a lost a total of 24 ships to the Axis air/sea combined attacks, while they managed to sink less than 5 Italians vessels.
Quadro di Caccia
Overall, after 3 months of war, the Naval War portray of each sides losses is the following:
Australia – 21 ships
Flotte Royale (France) – 24 ships
Royal Navy (UK) – 10 ships
CV: 1 (HMS Glorious)
Regia Marina – 28 ships
BB: 2 (Caio Duilio & Andrea Doria)
Kriegsmarine – 2 ships
Of the 55 Allies ships sunk (against Axis’ 30), 39 were sunk during naval battles, of which, 69% were sunk by Regia Marina battleships. Of the 28 ships lost by Italy, 9 were lost because of the reload (scroll down to Sicily section of this AAR to see what happened).
Campagna di Africa Orientale Italiana
In 1936, after assigning Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta, as Viceroy and Governor General of Africa Orientale Italiana (A.O.I.), our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, wrote down the by-law 1936-00112. This by-law laid down an ambitious plan to secure the Red Sea area, from Monbasa to Oman.
In September 1939, the implementation of this plan was relying on the shoulders of a rather small Italian garrison and, even if Superior Commando did try to convince our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, to abort it, the Commando Mare Rosso was ordered to go as planned. It is important to underline the fact that a battle of influence was underway between the A.O.I. Vice Roy at the time, and Commando Superiore, led by Amedeo Duca degli d’Abruzzi, had no other choice than to lend a small task force of 5 ships (CA San Giorgio, 3 WWI DD and 1 cargo), under the command of captain Bergamini.
While the troops were able to quickly secure most of their targets in the African Horn, the Yemen campaign quickly turned into a total rout as the Italian fleet, waiting to withdraw a the weak expeditionary force in Yemen, was intercepted by the whole Aussie battle fleet. A naval battle took place, that the vastly inferior Italian fleet lost (2 DD were sunk at the time).
NDLR: Because of the game mechanics, the fleet, instead of retreating into an A.O.I. controlled port, chose to retreat to a newly Yemen acquired port… where the Italian division were currently being crushed to death by valiant Yemenites. Needless to say the whole fleet was therefore doomed…
As Yemen troops finally eliminated the weak Italian CCNN “Cirene” divisione, the fleet had to leave the Yemenite harbour, going straight into the Aussie fleet, still guarding the channel. The San Giorgio, a WWI Heavy cruiser (CA), tried a very courageous attack to break through the Aussie lines, but was met by a heavy fire and soon was abandoned by its crew, as its engine caught fire and so did the armoury. Explosions could be seen from the African shores, on the other side of the channel. The san Giorgio’s screen ships fate was no better, as they were quickly overrun by Aussie firepower.
Campagna di Sicilia
Canadians troops, who managed to retreat from the Sardinia Coast trap, were quickly assigned a new task by the Allies: the taking of Sicily. “Operation Syracuse” (according to papers, once again stolen from Allies by Italians Intelligence Services) was quickly designed by the Allies. First a landing in Syracuse, then a forced march toward the airfield of Catania and then a sweeping movement to the West to secure Palermo. Weakly defended, Sicily looked like an easy prey to the Allies who felt they could outmatched the Italians quickly, who’s main forces were already engaged in the France campaign.
In the first days of October, Canadians barbarians (who previously shared North Africa with their Aussies friends) landed in Syracuse, left undefended. Commando Sud had to reorganize the defense of the island after most of its reserves were called North to support the invasion of France. Accordingly, the defensive lines were thin, as most units were either massed in Catania and Palermo.
Italy reacted quickly, bringing reinforcements on the island from Tarento and Marseilles (as the success met over there lowered the need to maintain troops in France). A defensive line was established on the Catania-Cefalu axis in the Eastern part of the island, while Palermo and surrounding areas formed a second line of defense in the West.
The first Canadians assault was met with as fierce resistance, as a timid offensive on Catania airfield was easily repelled. An attempt to encircle the airfield was no more successful when the Eugenio di Savoia armoured division landed behind Italians lines to secure it from the encirclement and quickly move South to hard press the Canadians.
Unable to make any progress, the Canadians called in the remaining Aussies (successfully evacuated from France) and some fresh British divisions. Supported by those units, the Allies were able to secure Palermo in late October and increase their grip over the Eastern part of the island. When Palermo fell to the Allies, the Invasione II Flotilla had no choice but to move out to the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea, where it encountered a heavy fire by a British fleet. The fleet, with a mere 1 CA and 2 DD, did not last long. The fleet now lied at the bottom of the sea. 9 ships were lost during the struggle, as a 2nd fleet (Recognizione Flotilla E; 3 DD) was caught by the battle later on.
NDLR: While Allies were increasing the pressure on Palermo, Italy managed to put the whole garrisons (4 divisions) on transports and evacuate them to safe haven in Italy. Sadly we had to rehost the game a bit later and, as our latest available save was prior to that nice manoeuver by Italy, it was obviously impossible to do it again (unless the Allies had been rookies players or blind ones…). Problem was: all ships and troops were already stuck in there. This bad luck cost us 9 ships and will probably cost us 4 divisions since they are now stuck in Sicily instead of being on the mainland. What was a brilliant and audacious move based on surprise, turned out to be a dreadful disaster. It is sad but we will overcome this.
NDLR: We did not mention it but there was no North Africa campaign per se. Given the size of the Italian Army and to fully reach our primary goals in the war, our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, decreed the by-law 1938-00428 which states that North Africa shall be viewed as a lesser priority by Commando Superiore and, accordingly, Commando Tobruk was awarded 2 divisions to defend it, on paper. But in fact, none of them was ever sent away by Commando Superiore.
Battaglia de campo d'aviazione de Catania
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Caduta della Francia e della Grecia
On October 30th 1939, France fell, conquered and fully pacified by the Axis powers, who split the former country in tree regions:
- Bordeaux region, under the supervision of Romanian guidance
- Mondane and Nice regions, under Italy’s guidance
- Rest of France, under German guidance.
Italy lacked time to add its last war objectives (Corsica) and had to settle down with those gains, which are the most important in terms of IC, leadership and resources (metal). Corsica would have offered a nice base for further operations. The fact Italy did not get them is not of any consequence.
When Greece fell, thanks to Romanians efforts to pacify the Balkans, Italy Foreign Affairs minister was too busy to take time to request Italy’s share and Italy did not benefit from this Axis victory. This news was not transmitted to our Beloved Leader, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce. Our best guess is that Count Ciano will pick a better occasion to discuss such a delicate matter with him.
Europa nel novembre 1939 (Europe in November 1939)
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IT HAPPENED ON THAT DAY
USSR liberated countries from Democratic Oppression
Finland (Karelia), Poland and the Baltic States did all join the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, thus acceding to an upper level of consciousness and happiness. Under the rule of Joseph Stalin, Father of the Nation, comrades from Eastern Europe will soon fully enjoy their new status.
There were some inquiries made by minister of Foreign Affairs, Molotov, notably about the status of Turkey, but nothing else could be discovered about his secret trip to the Balkans prior to Greece fall. Maybe some cattle business.
Yugoslavian Beef & Cattles Association
The Beef and Cattles Association of Yugoslavia members met during a whole week in October, basically to press their government to ban Romanian beef. Fed with grass coming from as far as Bordeaux, probably contaminated with wines and spirits, the Association, who also is a strong supporter of a ban of all alcoholic beverages, believes that Romanian beef could be bad for Yugoslavians health. A giant march took place on October 31st, to alert Yugoslavians about this threat. Minister of Health praised the Association for its wise counsel and told to the Press that the government was currently working on a new piece of legislation.
Yugoslavians are known for their appetite for beef and do import about 20% of their total consumption of beef from Romania.
A Call to Arms!
BBC News Report
Adolf Hitler’s ambition knows no boundaries and, as such, he dared invade Poland. Our Prime Minister stood up and declared war on the aggressor. “There will be no Lebensraum”, did he say. In a call to arms that will be remembered, all member of the Commonwealth joined the fact against the Evil Germanic Empire. Canada, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, among others, joined the fight in the name of liberty.
The Royal Navy is currently patrolling the seas surrounding London, to make it impossible for the aggressors to cross the English Channel. Our submarines, planes and valiant soldiers are all on duty, watching the horizon, suspecting some mean tactic by Hitler or by his Italian or Romanian puppets.
The time has come!
May God save the King!
2nd Sino-Japanese War
From August to November 1939, the Japanese made giant steps toward their goal of securing this gigantic industrial potential and pool of resources.
General Chiang Kai-shek was reported sick and could not lead his troops, This deeply weakened the Chinese defence. Rumours say he was poisoned by a Japanese spy but nothing is clear on that matter. One thing is certain; General Chiang Kai-shek made no public appearance since late July 1939.
The combats in the Far East proved very intense, as manpower pool dropped by a clear notch, as both powers committed their troops with no fear, nor pity. This situation could have major impact later on.
It was reported that Japan had declared war on the United Kingdom. This was denied by Tokyo and both Foreign Affairs staffs are currently working on this issue to make sure everything is under control. The United States of America, misled by these rumours, canceled all trades with Japan, and had to sign them again soon after.
The Frontlines during Fall of 1939
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