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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kurt_Steiner

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Perhaps he plans to throw the Hood with parachutes over Berlin, all guns blazing... :D
 

trekaddict

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Kurt_Steiner Currently he is training 2nd Brigade/1st Airborne Division in [classified location].

Griffin.Gen Not Arnhem.

Thomas Kenobi&BritishImperial Well, I chose the name because it contains a paratrooper component. Can't tell you anything else yet though.

Kurt_Steiner Well, even with the KGVs and the Lusties the Fleet is still critically weakened, so I don't think the fleet would be willing to part with one of it's three Battlecruisers.
 

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Shame the amphibious warfare blokes are behind OTL, after all the LCA was first specified back in 1938. Worst case I'm sure someone could have rustled up an old LCM or even some x-lighters. Still they got the job done and that's the main thing. :)

As it has a airborne component it's got to be somewhere relatively close to current British airbases and ideally fairly isolated (paras work best on concentrated objectives). That really points towards Italian islands being the most likely targets. In order of ambition from high to low I'd say; Sicily, Sardinia, Dodecanese. After the war so far I'd say Sardinia, not too hard a target and easier to defend than Sicily but holding it would very much help in controlling the central/western Med.

Mind you with my record of predictions in this AAR I'm fairly sure it will be somewhere else! :D
 

trekaddict

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The Amphibs are about on par with OTL, but the problem is that Landing Craft weren't a priority for now, something that is already changing. They are being built, but at the time of the offensive, those in charge of the operation can't know that, as they are part of the secret plans for Market Garden. As for the target.. Well, I will reveal that in the next update.
 

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Also, I have decided that from now on when notable real-world/fictional persons make an appearance that might be somewhat obscure to the broader mass, I will insert appropriate links right in the text, so it's advisable to check for links.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 146



4th March 1941

Aldershot

The Prime Minister had arrived and was now being briefed on the lessons the British Army had learned from Belgium, France and North Africa. “On the whole the British Army has performed well, but several problems presented themselves. Most of this has previously been stated, but let me repeat it here. Point one: We need more and better automatic weapons with our Infantry formations. The Bren Gun is a sound design, but sufferes from being a magazine weapon, and said magazine has the tendency of not only obscuring the aim of the gunner but also sometimes reveals the position. Point two: The Rifle, No. 4 Mk I is still a superior bolt-action rifle, but suffers from not being an automatic weapon too. More and more situations require an increased volume of fire from the individual soldier, and bolt-action weapons can no longer provide, and which the Sten gun has proven to be unable to provide. This is however not a pressing concern, as our enemies still use such weapons, the Kar98k and the Mosin-Nagant Rifle respectively. Point Three: Improved methods for the co-ordination of Air Support are needed. Overall Artillery support is excellent, and various combat troops asked believe that Artillery is doing a good job. Point Four: The Royal Armoured Corps needs better vehicles. Although the current versions of the Crusader Tank are more than superior than anything the Italians can field, the Germans and Soviets are known to be introducing models that are at least on par with it. Point Five: We need a low-level anti-aircraft weapon that works better than what we have now. The RAF can't be everywhere, and we have tp be able to operate in areas where Air Superiority isn't guaranteed, such as the case was over Belgium and Northern France. Solutions:

Point One: We propose that the belt-fed Bren variant be adopted, and that the number of .50 Heavy Machine guns at the Company-level be increased by at least two. Point Two: To replace the Sten gun, we propose to place the requirement with all weapons manufacturers all over the Empire and the Dominions in order to get this most pressing problem solved first. Secondly we propose that a replacement for the Rifle, No. 4 Mk I is looked into post haste. Point Three: To solve this, more Forward Air Controllers, and a general increase of wireless sets within the Infantry and our forces in General. We request that funds are released for the development of smaller and lighter wireless sets. Point Four: We suggest that the various prototypes that exist in various factories are brought together at Bovington and thoroughly tested and a decision is made within the next two months. Point Five: We propose a Bofors gun mounted on some sort of vehicle, which would allow it to keep up with the Infantry. ”


Gort concluded his briefing. Normally the First Sea Lord would have been next, but as the Fleet had not really been involved and Pound was still busy bringing order into the henhouse that had been the post-Backhouse Admiralty, his briefing was omitted. Instead the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Dowding spoke. “Overall the Royal Air Force has performed as expected, and pre-war tactics have worked as advertised. Therefore, I will begin it with an assessment of the enemy forces and their combat performance. The Germans and Soviets were the main enemy over Belgium and France. When they conducted major offensive operations, German and Soviet Fighter Aircraft were sweeping over the battle area, attempting to engage our fighters and Bombers, and trying to prevent our fighters from doing the same. The Germans tactics similar to ours, and proved to be working. Roving fighter patrols in finger-four formation are definitely the way to go, especially when the goal is Air superiority over any given area. The Soviets were not as capable. Their fighters usually stuck close to the bombers and gave close escort, and that allowed ours more than once to achieve superior position before attacking, sometimes before they were spotted, according to some prisoners we and our allies took. When they did send their fighters on free hunt, they usually stuck in a tight, four-plane formation that is similar to the old Vic formation Fighter Command used to use, with predictable results. Equipment is another matter. The Germans are pre-dominantly equipped with various Markes of their Bf-109 line of fighters, the last model we know of being the Bf-109F-2, which is, as I am sorry to say, is far superior to the Spitfire Mk.II. Luckily for us the Mk.V is at last equipping all of our European Squadrons and also those in Singapore.” Churchill, in his position as Minister of Defence, interrupted here and asked: “Are we sure that the Mk.V is superior?” Dowding nodded. “Yes, Sir. As far as we can tell from combat tests over the Channel it is. The Soviets are using the LaGG 3 for the most part by now. As far as we can tell, their I-16s have been withdrawn from service in the west. The LaGG 3 is a much more capable aircraft, about on par with the Hurricane Mk.II, but severely hampered by their tactics. Same goes for their Bombing aircraft, but there the performance gap is clearly in our favour.” “How can you be so sure?” the First Sea Lord asked. “Well, for one we have the reports of our pilots, but mainly it is because we had a Soviet DB-3 land on one of our airfields a few months ago, like that Stuka. It allowed us to conduct extensive tests with the aircraft and compare it against our own. To solve the matters at hand, we propose to massively expand production of the Spitfire Mk.V in order to convert the remainder of our overseas Squadrons.”

Later when the aides were gone, only the Prime Minister and the service chiefs remained. Tea was brought in and the men guiding the British Empire were enjoying themselves in a way some of them had not enjoyed properly since the beginning of this bloody conflict. Only that this was not meant for enjoyment, despite what the aides had been told. So when a young Officer with the shoulder-flashes of the Imperial General Staff arrived along with the Captain General of the Royal Marines and General Browning, Commander of I (UK) Airborne Corps and ceremonial head of the Royal Parachute Corps, they were not amused and slightly bewildered about their presence in the first place before they were ordered to forget anything they had seen. The main reason for the men to arrive was not some emergency as first speculated but rather the plan for Imperial and Allied strategy for the entire war effort. While they had arrived and gone through the numerous security checks, the men remaining behind in the room had covered the massive direction table with a huge map of the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent countries. They all knew what something coming, but not even the Prime Minister and Field Marshal Gort knew all particulars, only the men they were waiting for knew everything, having worked on this plan ever since the Italians had entered the war and it had been clear that France would eventually be lost. The Prime Minister had tried to butt in on the planning at numerous occasions, but General Browning had managed to keep the PM's enthusiasm in check, something that had both endeared and annoyed the PM. The Captain General of the Marines was there because although the main fight of the operation was carried out by the Paras, the Royal Marines would have a crucial job.

“Gentlemen,” Browning opened, as it was in the end his men that would bear the brunt of the battle, hence why he delivered the briefing. “I present you Operation Market Garden, our plan for knocking Italy out of the war and by means of the Italian Peninsula, invading Europe through the soft underbelly of the Axis position. Before I go into the particulars of the plan, the Captain-General will outline the General situation in the Mediterranean Sea, especially in Italy.” “Sirs, the situation is as follows. Over the last few months we managed to eject the Italian forces from North Africa and Ethopia. Ethopia was just a matter of sending some Milita Companies to certain targets, as the country was totally devoid of troops, while in North Africa we were forced to fight a lengthy and costly campaign. The Italians fought desperately hard and we had to pay dearly for every inch, and on a number of occasions attacks proved to be too costly. It will take some time to get exact numbers, but a preliminary estimate suggests we lost up to twenty-thousand men, most of these in the Battles for Tripolis. We got of lightly, but since we have no way to accurately estimate Italian and Axis losses, we will refrain from committing to a number, but rest assured, they were high, judging from the number of bodies and graves encountered. As far as we can tell, no other Axis ground troops were involved, and although some German and Soviet air units were encountered, they were in very low strength. Now, as for our own situation, the troops are tired and exhausted, but seemed to be motivated for most of the campaign. Most of our fresh units have been strengthened with the insertion of more experienced troops and NCOs, and we think that they are capable of doing what Market Garden will ask of them. Now, we cannot execute this operation with the troops we have in-theatre at present, and we will need at least several months of buildup, but that is something General Browning and Captain Hackett will brief you on that later on. Italy is a different matter entirely. The Italians have just suffered a devastating defeat that must have cost them a sizeable chunk of their Army and some of the most elite troops, notably the Blackshirt militias that mostly perished at Tobruk and near El Agheila. We estimated them to be about three Divisions strength, and we have identified the remainders of two from prisoners over the month, so it stands to reason that the third one, if it exists, is stationed in Italy proper. They invested a lot in holding onto Lybia, and these are losses that will take them some time to replace. To sum it all up, the Italians were rubbish when attacking, but are excellent defensive fighters, something aided by them having a knack for field defences. Estimating the impact of that on the Army itself and to civilian morale in Italy will take some time, but we have that time, in fact we need that time. ” Churchill actually lit a Cigar and leaned forward in his chair. “Any estimates?” The Captain-General was visibly uneasy and said: “You want me to guess, Sir?” “Yes, I want.” The Officer was less than pleased, but the Prime Minister had given him an order, and he obliged. “It is just a guess, so I trust you not to place too much faith in it, but it can be assumed that this has hit morale and trust in the Fascist leadership hard, but I think that this will be some rumblings on the street at most.” “That seems to be about what I expected, thank you, Sir.” Churchill said.

“Now, what about this plan of yours?” the PM asked. “I will outline the general plan, whilst leaving the details, so far as they are known, to Captain Hackett. Prime Minister, Sirs, Operation Market Garden is nothing less than an Invasion of the European Continent with the short-term objective of knocking Italy out of the war and the long term objective of liberating Western Europe and defeating the Axis powers.” The room was stunned into silence. This was most certainly a bold objective, and the doubts were increased when Browning spoke again. “It is due to be launched no later than September this very year.” “Can it be done?” Dowding asked first, always the practical and fast thinker. “Yes, Sir, it can. Captain Hackett here suggested that we go through that part first, as it is perhaps the most crucial one. Firstly with conscription here in the United Kingdom and among the European populations all over the Empire, along with the increasing number of volunteers from the same, we do have the troops, or rather will have them. There is a calculated risk to all this, but one we have to take. Numbers will always be on the side of the enemy, but as we know the British Army has never before stood back in the face of adversity and it will not now. Secondly, if secrecy can be maintained, we can trust that the Axis forces will take some time to react and organize, by which time we will be ashore in force. Thirdly, and most importantly, we are doing the right thing for a righteous cause, and we have the moral duty to help those under the Axis heel. We can do it, of that I am convinced. Now, the initial landings will take place here,” his finger stabbed down on the map. “My lads will land all over the eastern part of that area and two Divisions will seal it off against any immediate counter-attacks. The Fleet will begin to send in reinforcements as soon as we have captured this town,” another stab and he read the name out loud. “and the adjacent port. This should not pose a significant problem, as we have a full Brigade landing near there. The rest of my men will begin to probe westwards. At the same time the Marines will land a brigade at this town in order to gain us a second port to send in more reinforcements and to seal that waterway here, which will cut this island,” a third stab, “from the mainland.” “Will you leave the forces there alone?” Grand Admiral Pound interjected, “Not at all, Sir. Eventually once our position on the mainland is secure, secondary landings will take place here and here in order to take care of that problem once and for all. In the meantime small boat forces and of course heavy artillery will help prevent any assault crossings from the enemy forces there. Once we have managed to clear this area of the enemy and consolidated our lines of supply and attack upwards towards the Alps.” For the next three hours Browning and Hackett detailed the particulars of the plan. In the midst of it Churchill rose from his chair and walked towards the window. Had it been daytime and the blackout not in place, he would have looked outside, but so all he could do was to stare at the black cloth. He could not believe that he was risking the entire fortunes of the a country that stretched all across the globe on such an operation. The last time he had advocated an amphibious landing of this size, it had cost him his position and banished him into the wilderness, but now, if Market Garden failed like Gallipoli, there would be far more to pay than his Premiership. He was placing all of Britain's limited Military power on one card, and defeat would spell disaster. But other challenges remained until it could come to that. 'What about the Cabinet? What about the French?' he thought, but said something different. “What about secrecy?” “That, Prime Minister is something we cannot guarantee on our own, unlike the Landing Craft and the units themselves.” Churchill made no move to indicate he had listened, but a mental note to speak with the SOE as soon as the plan had been breached to the War Cabinet.

The meeting was adjourned after Churchill once more pressed the need for secrecy home and went home to see his wife for the first time in three days. At breakfast the next day she saw that he was not his usual self and asked him about it, he answered: “I have taken the greatest bloody gamble of my live, and I hope to god it works out.”








[Notes: In the next few 'months' the cloak and dagger people take over. Oh and the Air Forces, amongst others. Why is the plan revealed so early you ask? Some of what I have planned will make more sense when the readers know, that's why. Also, I never said the plan was perfect. The new contest on the other hand is easy. Where do the landings take place, meaning in which province?]
 

humancalculator

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Rome? :D
 

Griffin.Gen

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Ah, the Soft Underbelly of Europe, as Churchill said.
Hopefully this wont turn Darnadelles this time.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Alps? What?

Land directly over Berlin, man!

:D
 

El Pip

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The landings have to be in the 'boot' province (Reggio di Calabrio?), the 'isolated island' has to be Sicily surely?
 

trekaddict

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humancalculator Would be awesome, but alas, too dangerous as it would be surrounded by enemy Airbases.

Griffin.Gen Well, considering that the full might of the British Army and lots and lots of Naval and Air support will be comitted to this... Probably won't.

Kurt_Steiner Alas, out of range from any of my airbases. Stupid American designed, built-without licence Dakotas! ( C-47s ). My Stirlings could make it. :mad:

El Pip On the dot good sir. More on the why later.
 

canonized

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Haha a bold objective indeed XD though not too far from being by the book . I'm with Kurt , Berlin would be a hilarious surprise ! XD Despite being so unattainable .
 

trekaddict

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Haha a bold objective indeed XD though not too far from being by the book . I'm with Kurt , Berlin would be a hilarious surprise ! XD Despite being so unattainable .
Indeed, but rest assured, the Battle of Berlin will eventually make up for the lack of airdrop goodness.
 

trekaddict

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unmerged(85800)

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of course i'll read your new aar, and almost certainly enjoy it (when i'm sober and not tired) but please please please don't neglect this one. the universe and story you have created is too precious to lose.
 

trekaddict

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I won't. As said, I will only work on the other one when I hit a wall for AAO, which admittedly happens more often than I care to remember.
 

Le Jones

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My money is on Sicily - "Market Garden" is the new "Husky". As long as the three services work together you should be ok. I always find my Italian adventures fun. ;)
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 147





4th March 1941

Once again Oberleutnant Kramer was staring through his binoculars over yet another border of yet another country, this time Yugoslavia. His Panzer III was new, brand new and with an equally new crew after the last one had dispersed or killed. Still armed with that small 5cm gun, it was nevertheless a much more deadly weapon than his old one. More armour, a better engine and ammunition that went great lengths in compensating for the small calibre. He was standing on a small hill in what had been southern Austria, and below him the rest of the Panzers in his troop were waiting under heavy camouflage netting. “His” troop. He still could not believe that he had retained this command although he had not exactly fared well against the French Panzers on that day, but here he was, commanding it and having even been promoted and was now second in line to command the Company were it to become leaderless. He shook that particular thought out of his head and decided that it was time to climb back down. He climbed downwards and padded the dust from his black Panzer uniform and walked over to his Panzer where his new crew was waiting. The others had all been killed or transferred away in the aftermath of the Battle of France, and this was to be the first time they saw combat as Kramer was just coming back forward from extended leave. It was still the usual assembly of men, a driver, Private Schultz who was from somewhere in the deepest bowels of central Bavaria, his radio operator who doubled as bow machine gunner, Private First Class Schrader, from Karlsruhe, his loader, Staff Corporal Kammler bespectacled former bank clerk who had proven himself to be capable during the exercises of the last few weeks, despite his skinny appearance and being only two centimetres under regulation height. On the Panzer itself his gunner was waiting, Corporal Menlicher, a poster-boy soldier who had been too short and lacked the needed physical fitness needed for the Waffen-SS, much to his annoyance has he was a devoted party member. “Mount up men, it's almost time.” Kramer said. Over the next few minutes the men finished what work they had to do on the outside and then proceeded to climb back into their Panzer. Once inside the crew proceeded to go over every function again, and even if it had not been in the regulations, Kramer would have insisted on it, because if the Battle of France had shown one thing, functioning Panzers were needed if one was to defeat the enemy. Not that their soon-to-be enemy had anything in the way of modern Armour. The Balkan Kingdom of Yugoslavia had enough ethnic troubles to make the old Austro-Hungarian Empire from which Ashes hit had been born look like a friendly worker's neighbourhood. Yugoslavia was a cesspool of ethnic groups, religions, never mind the fact that the Kingdom was far from really representative.

The Intelligence briefing they had received before moving into their starting positions, in the case of the 7. Panzerdivision near a small village that lay only a few miles from the border. The Division had been in place for nearly two weeks, with the Officers billeted in the empty houses of the Village whose occupants had been evacuated. For many days they had been conducting manoeuvres to camouflage their true purpose and to work up the replacements that had joined the Division since the end of the fighting in France. The Division had taken fearful losses during these last desperate battles with French stay-behind forces as the front had rapidly shifted southwards, and had taken several weeks to get back to full strength. In the meantime the Italians had lost North Africa and the German, Soviet, Hungarian and Czech armies had quietly shifted their units south. No pre-text had been fabricated, at least Kramer did not know of one. In fact as soon as the first shells started flying, Radio stations all over Axis-controlled Europe would broadcast that the Yugoslavian forces had started a surprise attack on Hungarian and German border towns, and that Axis Defence Forces were attempting to apprehend those responsible. But Kramer did not know all this. While they waited, Kramer was reading a letter from his...their status defied all attempts at categorization, but she was the woman he hoped to marry one day. Schultz was snoring away in his cramped seat, while the rest amused themselves with whatever they could fit into the confines of the crew compartment. Suddenly they were all alert and awake when their radio started squawking about mortar shells hitting forward positions. Without a word Kramer and his crew went into action, while roughly a kilometre from the border, a nine groups of German troops belonging to the the Brandenburgers were packing up the 8-cm schwerer Granatwerfer 34 that they had used to shell their own forward positions. They knew that war, that hell was coming to the Balkan Kingdom. Soon enough the Panzers of the Regiment rumbled down the gentle slope towards the border. Kramer looked through his viewing optics towards the border, where he could see the Infantry attacking the meagre Yugoslav defences. When they passed the burning wreckage of several trucks with dead German soldiers lying around, they did not know that they had been sacrificed in order to sell the invasion to the world. Kramer was thankful when they wandered out of his field of vision and stared ahead. They were advancing down into a valley that contained several small creeks, shadowed by the mountains in the distance and a heavily wooded area to the west. When he looked closer, he could see the yellow flashes of light Field Artillery pieces exploding in the woods and all over the valley to their front, interdicting the roads that led up to the border. When they crossed into Yugoslavia, the men were alert, and the usual remnants of war began to come into view. The first dead bodies were lying about, mostly wearing the uniforms of the Royal Yugoslav Army. Wounded men were limping backwards, prisoners were moving in the same direction. They walked, marched, limped in the mud at the side of the road so that the Panzers going forward could advance without hindrance. The job of the Division was this time not to force a breakthrough, as the lay of the land favoured that job being done by the Infantry. The Division would instead just exploit it and race for it's strategic objective, the city of Zagreb, and then later, in order to destroy the Yugoslav 11th Army for the coast and then the city of Split. Normally that would have been the job of the Italian Second Army, but the Italians were in no shape to conduct any sort of offensive operation at the moment. For that very reason the Division had been moved from southern France to Austria and put under the command of the German Second Army. At the same time the Hungarian First Army would would attack towards Belgrade, while the Romanians would do the same from their border. This attack would also be the first act of the Kingdom of Bulgaria as a member of the Axis, as their westernmost Field Army would attack towards Albania in order to capture Skopje and cut the Yugoslavs from Greece and easy Allied reinforcements through the ports of the latter country, something that the German General Staff had discounted but what Stalin apparently saw as a plausible enough option.

Kramer did not know all this and as his Panzer rolled down the road towards Zagreb, he also did not see any combat. It seemed that the Infantry and the Stukas had smashed most of the Yugoslavian border defences to pieces. So far no enemy FT-17s or R-35s had been seen, and Intelligence had placed the one of the two battalions in the area they were advancing through now, so Kramer was understandably worried. But not as much as he was when he had advanced against the British counterpart of his own Division. No, the British at least had a grasp of Panzer warfare and their Crusaders were at least on par with their own. They were fearsome enemies, motivated, expertly trained and equipped, albeit using conservative tactics, and fought with a tenacity that forced the German and Soviet troops to admire them for it. The Yugoslavs on the other hand were not exactly a warrior people, as they spent more time fighting each other over petty rivalries than they did actually preparing to defend their country. Their Army was Serb for the most part, as was the higher Officer Corps, something that did not endear it with many of the other groups. It was largely organized in three Army Groups, and Kramer and his men were currently driving through the northernmost one, smack in the middle. So there had to be some enemies around, as it was inconceivable that the enemy commander would leave his centre so unguarded. They advanced down the road into a small village that was mostly on fire. It had evidently seen lots of fighting, and when they saw the wreck of a FT-17 outside when they passed through the outer houses, their pulses quickened. Before Kramer could say anything, a German soldier stepped out from behind it to halt the advancing column of German vehicles. “Great, a Kettenhund[1], what does he want?” Kammler said. Kramer opened the commander's hatch and climbed up so that he could talk to the man. “What is it, Sergeant?” he asked. A brisk Prussian salute later the other man said: “Sir, the forward scouts have sighted Yugoslavian tanks near here, about a kilometre down that road there,” he indicated the direction, a grassy dirt track that went roughly south-east, “and we have had to halt the advance.” Standing orders for Kramer and his men were that they were to engage enemy armour , and from that direction he could hear the rumblings of a heavy fight even over the revs of his Diesel Engine. Kramer read the written orders that the Field Policeman had handed to him. They seemed genuine enough and bore the signature of the Colonel, so Kramer was inclined to follow them. They buttoned up again and the four Panzers of his troop moved down the dirt track past a last burning house.


The sound of the fighting grew louder, and as they moved around a bend in the road at the feet of a small hill, they saw a Comany's worth of German Infantry battling a group of Yugoslavs, but no enemy panzers were anywhere to be seen. Still, the Yugoslavian Infantry withdrew in disorder when the Panzer IIIs began to spray the battlefield with machine gun fire, and made for the treeline that was about a kilometre away. From there suddenly about a dozen R-35 emerged, and it was now clear for Kramer that they had been lured into an elaborate trap. Still, so much the better, he thought as Menlicher began to pick off the targets. “FIRE!” Kramer yelled, and the 5cm Anti-Tank shell raced to close the distance. It slammed into and through the forward armour of the French-made tank, exploding on the inside and setting off the ammunition in it. The next died an equally impressive death as the shell from another German penetrated the engine compartment, setting fire to the petrol in the engine. Four more of their number died before they were even in range of the German Panzers, and at this point their attack faltered, and the Germans prepared themselves to press the attack home, but then the rest of the battalion broke from the tree line and Kramer called a retreat, much to the annoyance of his gunner who in this instance kept it for himself. The four German Panzers and the Infantry withdrew, with the Armour acting as a rear guard, towards the village while Kramer called it in on the radio. The rest of the Division prepared itself to make a stand there, and what units were not in the village itself raced towards it at their best speed. The Yugoslavs took their time to press their attack home, and by the time they had traversed the roughly 2 Kilometres to the village, the Germans had managed to set up several of the new 5 cm PaK 38, the towed variant of the gun that armed his very own Bertha.[2] Schultz placed her behind the smoking remnants of some sort of barn, ready to dash out onto the road and fire the gun at the enemy. Kramer still had to get used to having a gun with a muzzle break mounted, but the increase in accuracy during rapid fire more then offset the increase in noise, something that did not matter for the Panzer crews. No enemy artillery fire was incoming, and Kramer decided to take a risk. He opened the hatch of his turret and climbed up, just high enough to be able to see over the collapsed roof of the barn, and to the south he saw a broad line of enemy Infantry advancing, with several R-35s and FT-17s dispersed among them. He opened his mouth to call in whatever Artillery and Air support was available, but before he could talk, a group of about twenty Soviet aircraft swooped down on the enemy. The new Il-2s were part of the Soviet contribution to this campaign, as there were now Soviet ground troops in the area. Aircraft showered the advancing Yugoslavs with rockets and cannonfire, and the enemy infantry was cut down as if the grim reaper himself had gone through them with his scythe. Many of the tanks were also destroyed, and those that had survived attempted to retreat, followed by shells from the German anti-tank guns and at last, some artillery fire. Kramer looked at the scene of destruction that the Soviets had created and thanked god that he was not on the receiving end of it. He climbed back down and said to the others: “Gentlemen, it seems we are on the attack again, Ivan has really come through this time.” The four Panzers, and with them the entire 7. Panzerdivision moved towards Zagreb. For the rest of the day almost no organized resistance was encountered, only a few pockets here and there, all of them low on anti-tank weapons. Eventually they reached and crossed the river Drava, and from there drove towards Zagreb against virtually no opposition at all. It became clear that the Yugoslav Army, although almost fully mobilized ever since the Italians had entered the war, was plagued by one fundamental problem, at least in this particular area: Many of the soldiers that were responsible for the defence of this area were of croat descent, and some greeted the Germans as liberators. Overall however the Yugoslav Army resisted where it could, but it was not even close to enough. The Axis armies simply ripped them apart, and by the end of the day, they had even exceeded their planned objectives in all areas except towards Belgrade where the Yugoslavs had concentrated most of their most loyal units and in the area around Zagreb, where the Serb units of the Yugoslav 7th Army held until they were encircled by the Hungarian and German units on the fifth day. At the same time down in the south, the Romanian and Bulgarian troops were driving towards the Albanian border, putting themselves between what little forces the Yugoslavs had in the south and Belgrade which in turn suffered massive attacks on it's industrial districts.

Boulder City ( Las Vegas ), Marxist Union of Pacifica, UAPR

The city had been a centre of crime and vice in the old United States. Now it was a military city. The APA and the APAF had taken possession of the remains of the city and turned it into one giant military base, fuelled by the nearby Boulder Dam. No civilians remained, the entire population of ten-thousand were members of one branch of the Military or another, and if not they were working for one of the many government agencies. In the centre of the town a massive building was rising where the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church had been before the war. Now it was demolished and a seventeen storey concrete monstrosity was rising in it's place. It was on the whole a building that belong to the freshly named People's Security Service, or rather it's second Division. The PSS had recently undergone a massive reorganization after it's chairman had died of nothing but old age[3] and the new one had insisted that the different branches be reorganized. Now the Second Division was external security whilst the First Division was internal Security. Third Division was a special one as it specialized on spying on foreign Diplomats on UAPR Soil, while Fourth Division was the American Equivalent to Britain's Q Branch. Most of the service was housed in Washington, but here in Boulder City the PSS maintained a massive training facility for mainly the Second Division. No one really knew what was going on in the walls of this building. The soldiers claimed it was a weapons research facility aimed at either the Japanese or the British or the Soviets or the Germans, depending in who you were talking to and what day it was. The Government bureaucrats of the other branches of the Union's People's Representative Government claimed that it was nothing more than an extensive storage building for the ever increasing mountains of files, and the PSS men simply said that it was an administrative building and none of their buissiness. What they all knew was that if you asked too many questions, the First Division might come knocking on your door. With a for American unusual tidiness the Building's levels had been given categories. The ground, first and second Floors were accessible with standard security clearance as you had it when you worked as a clerk for any of the Divisions. The cellars needed higher clearance because there the most sensitive records of the Second Division were stored. For the third floor you needed even higher clearance, and that one was lower than the one you needed for the fourth and so on, all the way up to number seventeen, where only a few select members of the Central committee, the Chairman of the Service, the local administrator and his closest Staff and sometimes specially cleared members and Agents of the Service that needed to go up there due to some mission or other. Most of the floors between the elusive top and the 'freely' accessible second Floor were filled with training rooms, rooms for the trainees to sleep in and kitchens to feed them. With this arrangement any Agent or Operative that was trained here, and they could train up to almost a hundred at any given time, never had to leave the building and could always be kept under tight control.

On the sixteenth floor a select group of such operatives was preparing itself for embarkation. They did not talk to each other just yet, as it was an open secret that all the rooms were bugged, but had they done so they would have spoken French with an accent that was not from Metropolitan France, in fact from none of the Free French colonies either. It was dark outside, as it always was when a group left the building and without a word, the ten men gathered their things and entered the elevator that would bring them down to the parking dock on the ground floor. There and again without speaking, they entered the two lorries that were waiting for them there and drove off to a nearby Military Airfield situated at the shores of a dried out salt lake.[4] From there an aircraft that would bring them to a village near the border of Canada from where they would individually go to their destination, each with a carefully arranged route that only he himself knew about. In that case no one could compromise the others if they were captured. Once at their destination they would go accomplish their mission and hopefully return home in a few months. At least that was the idea. The Chairman of the Second Division was watching from a blacked out car nearby with his second in Command sitting opposite him. “Do you think that they will make it, Comrade Chairman?” the younger man asked. “We will see. Personally I think yes, they will make it. After all, we trained them and the methods for conspirational operations in enemy territory haven't changed much over the last fifty years.” The younger man had his doubts but at the same time he was not so stupid as to publicly question his immediate superior, but the older man saw it on his face. “You may speak freely, Comrade. This is not the British Parliament.” “Yes, Comrade. With all due respect, I believe that this mission isn't worth the risk. What if we are discovered? What if our men are caught before, or even after they have done what they were ordered to do?” “All good points, my good Jonathan. However, the Imperialists will not be looking for our men, as there will be a distraction in place that we did not even have to set up.” “I see.” No more was said, and no more talking was needed. In the meantime the two lorries were driving through the massive military city, heading out towards the airfield where a T-108 Armed Transport was waiting.



T-108 Armed Transport Aircraft[5]​

The plane was packed with the men and their few possessions when it took off, but more than one aircraft would have been somewhat conspicuous even for such a remote airfield, so they had to make do. Once they disembarked they went their own ways into Canada, in order to fulfil their mission, whatever it was.


[Notes: How does fewer but longer updates grab you?]


[1] Not so nice nickname for the German Military police because of that metal thingy they had hanging from their neck.
[2] In TTL the Germans faced more and better equipped armoured opposition in Belgium and France. As a result of this, the vehicle variant of this gun that was first used in April 1941 in OTL finds it's way onto the current variants of the Panzer III earlier, with the older ones retrofitted as they cycle through depot-level maintenance. While this means fewer towed guns for the Infantry, ze Führer himself has ordered it to be done.
[3] sometimes people die of natural causes, dont'cha know.
[4] Yes, the base that doesn't exist. :D
[5] In OTL the Americans built the C-108 Flying Fortress Caro plane.
 

Le Jones

Protect and Survive
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Good update. I don't think that Yugoslavia will hold on for long, based on the German onslaught now slicing through the country.
 

Griffin.Gen

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Of course, You can't speak freely in the British Parliament. :rolleyes:
Also...
I WONDER WHERE THE PPS OPERATIVES COME FROM OR WHERE THEY ARE GOING!!!!!
[/obvious sarcasm] ;)

Edit: Err, update in the last page :)