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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Le Jones

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“Well, for us the war is over.” he said as the British Destroyer closed in.
Brilliant - simply brilliant line. I may have missed it, but what were the exact losses? Looks like the Med is a British lake.
 

Lord Strange

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Farewell Regia Marina! You were good target practice!
 

trekaddict

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Doge Robert :D

El Pip For now the Battleships are kept in Europe because they are indeed needed for shore support and because the Admiralty can't know what the exact Naval strength of the Axis is. If ( or rather when ) war breaks out in the Pacific, the priority for transfers there is for the Carriers, even though there might be a small BB squadron. After all, we can't have war in the Pacific without Force Z, now can we?

Le Jones Thanks. The Italians lost, aside from DDs, 1xCL, 3xCA, 3xBB. Together with losses they took earlier in the war, this is pretty much the end of the Italian Navy and the Med is in essence now a British lake.


EDIT:

Lord Strange Indeed. It was fun!
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 181

3rd November 1941

The Patrol of four Soldiers of the Italian 17th Infantry Division walked down the road that bore the marks of warfare, from the air and from the tubes of the British Artillery. They were the vanguard for the counter offensive conducted by two Italian and one German Division, all that High Command could spare at the moment. At least the German Division was motorized, and the soldiers walking down that street now were wishing that they were in one of these Divisions too, but on the other hand most of Italy's formations of that kind were all but destroyed. The Germans were shipping in more troops, but the German General who commanded the defence wanted to keep the British line unstable, keep the British General Alexander second-guessing the intentions of the Axis forces. Rommel had been less than pleased to have only three Divisions for this attack, but he had to work with what was at hand. The three Divisions had set out from south of Naples and were advancing past Salerno, south of which they would attack the British front. Down south they could hear Artillery rumble and the lower thuds of the rounds impacting. Now and then the artillery fire was mixed in with something automatic firing, and it told them that there was some activity all along the line. The Italian soldiers were all from the same village just outside Rome, and they knew that each mile farther north would bring the Allies closer to their home. So they were determined to fight. They knew that the British had to be close, and were not too surprised when the relative silence around them was shattered by small arms fire coming from a blockhouse on a small hill. They knew they had to take it out fast, because in contained a wireless set as they could see from the antennae sticking out through the roof. The Lieutenant in charge of the Italian patrol detailed two men, the ones operating the light machine gun, to lay down some cover fire and he took the remaining one up the hill. In classic leap-frog manner they worked their way up the hill. Behind them the Lieutenant could hear with one ear that the rest of the Regiment was deploying to take out the blockhouse, but before they could do anything, he had reached it and they inserted a few hand grenades through the slit out of which the British Vickers Machine gun was firing. The grenades exploded, and the way for the Italian Infantry was clear. They advanced down the road.


Unknown to them, the blockhouse had belonged to one of the oldest Regiments in the British Army. It traced it's legacy back to independent companies raised in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising on Scotland in 1725 as a law-enforcing local Militia, in 1739 it was turned into the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot, had fought their first action against the French in Flanders in 1745, fought in the French and Indian Wars and the American War of Independence, played a major part in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, fought in the Crimean war and various Empire building dustups before in 1881 they were renamed to what they were informally known as for almost two centuries: The Black Watch. During previous wars the Regiment had been a part of the Highland Brigade, but since that had been reduced to an administrative formation, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) had been sent to form the nucleus of a new Infantry Division, as was practice in those days. Now the 9th Highland Division formed the reserve of III Corps from which it had been temporarely detached to defend the rear while the attention of the British forces was focused on Taranto. To aid them in this task, the Division had almost twice the usual number of Artillery pieces on hand, so when one of the forward observation posts of the Black Watch had reported an attack before going off the air, orders were sent out. The Recce Regiment quickly homed in on the Italians. The Italians however had speed and surprise on their side, and so before the news had raced up the chain of Command to Division, the bulk of two of these Divisions slammed into the main line of resistance of the Black Watch. In the desperate Battles of this day the Black Watch lived up to their tradition and their history and held against insurmountable odds. The Regiment was outnumbered 5 to 1, but still managed to retreat only a few dozen yards. The Italians pushed hard, and this small tactical retreat was reported up the line as the British being routed. Rommel believed these reports for lack of anything else and ordered the push to resume.


The dogged resistance by the Black Watch had bought the British time to wake their Artillery troops and now the Italians were running into a massive wall of fire as they tried to cross the no mans land between them and the Scotsman that now in turn attacked. The Italian Offensive was a mere two hours old when the ferocious attack by a single, somewhat annoyed Scottish Regiment drove an entire Infantry Division back. The Italians were startled by the resistance and rattled by the Artillery that was falling all around them, and the lead Regiment quickly fell apart, and the rest of the 9th Division quickly fell in when the Black Watch's forward Artillery controller shifted the fire as fast as the guns could be elevated. The placement of the 9th's Division was such that they could shell the area up to the city limits of Salerno, and the Italians were suffering from the skill of the Royal Artillery and their compatriots from Poland. ( A single Artillery Regiment from the 1st Polish Infantry Division ) The Artillery was skilfully walked ahead of the advance of the Black Watch, at least in the beginning, but when the advance of the Black Watch continued and picked up speed it was soon to fast to accurately walk the barrage. So the Artillery switched to shell the approaches to Salerno such as they were in range, and the heaviest pieces even began to shell the suburbs of the city itself. The attack by the Black watch was seen with some dismay by the commanding Officer of the 9th Highland Division, for the Regiment would be overwhelmed once the Italians came to their senses. He had two choices, call the Black Watch back, and the other seize the opportunity and throw the full weight of the Division into the fray. As a true Scotsman he decided to seize the day and sent his Highlanders after the Black Watch. All this took place in the space of less than two hours. He ordered the Black Watch to 'slow bloody well down' and and rushed his units forward, muttering that this sort of thing would never work if it were tried on purpose. The 9th Highland Division attacked, and even though the Division was outnumbered, it drove the Italians back with the Black Watch always in front. News of the Divisions unauthorized counter-attack quickly filtered through to Corps Headquarters where General Alexander was present as he kept an eye on things in Taranto. When a bewildered aide reported that apparently there was an offensive in the general direction of Salerno and Naples, Alexander was faced with the same choices as the Division commander had been. He exercised his prerogative as Theatre Commander and ordered whatever reserve units were to be had to join the attack. If the Italian defence was as disorganized and impromptu as the British attack, he was confident that the Higlanders and the other units were able to keep the Italians on their heels. And the Higlanders were not the only ace up his sleeves ( the General had recently taken a liking to playing poker with his Canadian Chief of Staff ) for there were six new Divisions landed: I (UK) Mountain Corps had activated only just yesterday on the left flank of the 9th Highland Division. These troops were trained in mountain warfare and were the only units in the British Army that were also trained for winter conditions. While the terrain they operated in now was not exactly where they had trained, they were willing to fight anyhow, for they had to prove themselves. This was not everything either, as three of these Divisions were comprised of Gurkha Rifle Regiments that had barely had the time to acclimatize themselves to the rougher conditions of Europe. Of these six Divisions three, two Gurkha and one British, raced north to support the Highlanders that had almost reached the outskirts of Salerno. Most of the 9th Highland Division was now arrayed on the hills overlooking the coastal town, and since at last he had a decent line back towards the main front in the form of the Gurkhas, he decided not to waste time and take the town before the Italians could organize a defence. He had no intelligence and no sort of preparation, but he knew that if he did not attack right now, he could be entangled in a lengthy siege and invited being caught in the open.

So in the late afternoon the Scotsmen were streaming down the hills and into the small town on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The Black Watch was once again in the lead, and streamed into town to the sound of the pipes. Inside the town the Division encountered only minimal resistance, and when the only 'regular' unit that decided to fight, a Squad of Blackshirts, tried to rush a minor position held by the Black Watch, they ran, turned a corner onto an intersection and faced a line where the Scottish troops were arrayed in two ranks like their Ancestors had been on that fateful day in Belgium in 1815. One after another the ranks fired and and the attack faltered. The Black Watch then advanced towards the city hall and proceeded to raise as flag, to run up some proper colours.

Meanwhile outside of this mini-battle, the Gurkhas and their British Compatriots advanced on Naples. Rumours of the fighting power of the Nepalese soldiers had filtered down the line, but this was not the reason why the Italo-German resistance between Salerno an Naples crumpled. For the most part the Italians were simply exhausted, as were the Germans, while the British Mountain Infantry was still fresh, if green. Hastily drawn up orders allowed them to advance to a line just North of Naples, even though no one expected that they would actually take the city. However the local breakdown was so complete that the Germans, having initially retreated in good order, were swept up and the chaos that resulted from three Divisions trying to retreat over the only road towards Naples that went to the west of Mount Vesuvius, as the road north was effectively closed by British Mountain troops that threatened to overtake them. The ancient ruins of Pompeji fell without a single shot fired, and soon the British were looking down onto Naples from the side of the famous volcano. Fearing a round of city fighting like in Foggia, the Corps Commander went into the city with anticipation and tried to be watchful for a trap, but when the British advanced into the city itself, they found only the population lining the streets, greeting them with stony faces and just silence. No sniper fire, no shouts of hatred, just nothing. The people of Naples knew that for the moment Mars was on the side of the Allied Forces.

Rommel had been forced to give up Naples for the simple reason that he deemed the terrain around the city only barely defensible, even with rested troops. Even though he knew that the British would have to take their time to reorganize, he had reasoned that during the time they did so, he would be able to receive the additional troops from Germany and the Soviet Union that had been promised during a long nightly phone call to Berlin. Once again he had read the British correctly, as Alexander called a halt to all offensive operations until further notice, giving himself time to consolidate his lines, move up his supply lines and to steel himself and his men for the inevitable drive north that promised to be a gruelling affair if what had happened so far was any indication.


[Notes: The Black Watch is my favourite Highland Regiment, so they had to feature and will feature again. I can already see that I have to write something down on the TO&E of a standard British Pattern Infantry division, but I could see the following: Three Companies per Battalion, three Battalions per Regiment, two Regiments per Brigade, three Brigades plus the usual Divisional troops per Division. This would place greater emphasis on the Regimental system and leave the British Divisions slightly stronger than in OTL with two extra Companies per Brigade. The Battalion is weaker, but the Regiment is the primary tactical unit on the Battlefield after the Division anyway.]
 
Last edited:

humancalculator

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Alexander called a halt to all offensive operations until further notice, giving himself time to consolidate his lines, move up his supply lines and to steel himself and his men for the inevitable drive north that promised to be a gruelling affair if what had happened so far was any indication.
Why can't Alexander be more like Patton and tell his men to keep chasing the enemy until they run out of petrol.
 

El Pip

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Why can't Alexander be more like Patton and tell his men to keep chasing the enemy until they run out of petrol.
Because he doesn't have the almost total air supremacy, huge industrial back up and 'Germans fighting the Soviets' advantages Patton had? It's fairly easy to charge on regardless in such circumstances, less so under the conditions Alexander is fighting in.

Anyway good work on driving up Italy, though I do hope the RAF is hammering northern Italy to delay these Axis reinforcements, could be quite tricky if they get through in time.
 

Derek Pullem

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Chapter 181

......................The Black Watch was once again in the lead, and streamed into town to the sound of the pipes. Inside the town the Division encountered only minimal resistance, and when the only 'regular' unit that decided to fight, a Squad of Blackshirts, tried to rush a minor position held by the Black Watch, they ran, turned a corner onto an intersection and faced a line where the Scottish troops were arrayed in three ranks like their Ancestors had been on that fateful day in Belgium in 1815. One after another the three ranks fired and and the attack faltered. The Black Watch then advanced towards the city hall and proceeded to raise as flag, to run up some proper colours.....................

[Notes: The Black Watch is my favourite Highland Regiment, so they had to feature and will feature again. ..................]
With respect the Black Watch, like all British regiments at the time of Wellington, would have fought in a two deep formation even though the drill books said three.
 

trekaddict

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humancalculator Because they did. :)

El Pip The RAF is indeed hammering the lines, but the farther north you go the more contested the situation in the air is.

Derek Pullem Really? I only knew what I read on the web. It shall be corrected at once.
 

Derek Pullem

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humancalculator Because they did. :)

El Pip The RAF is indeed hammering the lines, but the farther north you go the more contested the situation in the air is.

Derek Pullem Really? I only knew what I read on the web. It shall be corrected at once.
Another Scottish regiment, the 93rd, was the inspiration for the "thin red line" in the Crimea when they defeated a Russian cavalry charge by rifle fire alone in two ranks.

PS - you're still saying three in the latter part of the sentence;)
 

trekaddict

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Another Scottish regiment, the 93rd, was the inspiration for the "thin red line" in the Crimea when they defeated a Russian cavalry charge by rifle fire alone in two ranks.

PS - you're still saying three in the latter part of the sentence;)
Oh dear... :eek:o


The Thin Red Line I knew, though I can't remember which particular battle it was. IIRC they stopped a Russian Cavalry charge on that day.

EDIT: It seems I have to brush up on my Crimean War.
 

Lord Strange

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The Thin Red line was led by Colin Campbell at Balaclava and was indeed 2 lines against a massed cavalry charge. It then was folloed by the famous Charge of the Heavy Brigade, and then the Infamous Charge of the Light brigade.

Also, for the scotland mood watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBKBI7DOLHA

Also why on earth is this guy not in the AAR. Read, and worship his awesomeness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill
 
Last edited:

trekaddict

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You know, I dream of this scene where the Black Watch marches through the Brandeburg Gate to take possession of Berlin to the sound of the pipes....
 

Griffin.Gen

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Offensive in Italy? the Black Watch? Awesome. Simply awesome.
 

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With respect the Black Watch, like all British regiments at the time of Wellington, would have fought in a two deep formation even though the drill books said three.

Quite right - though at varying stages at both Quatre Bras and Waterloo the British were in a four-rank formation. Certainly as the Black Watch dealt with the attack of D'Erlon's Corps they would have been in twos, but later on they would have been in fours. Most of the Anglo-Allied Army spent the afternoon in fours/square.
 

trekaddict

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Quite right - though at varying stages at both Quatre Bras and Waterloo the British were in a four-rank formation. Certainly as the Black Watch dealt with the attack of D'Erlon's Corps they would have been in twos, but later on they would have been in fours. Most of the Anglo-Allied Army spent the afternoon in fours/square.
Unfortunately even the Russians don't have that much pure Horse Cavalry left... Imagine a Regiment in Square with No.4s and Bren Guns. :D
 

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Quite right - though at varying stages at both Quatre Bras and Waterloo the British were in a four-rank formation. Certainly as the Black Watch dealt with the attack of D'Erlon's Corps they would have been in twos, but later on they would have been in fours. Most of the Anglo-Allied Army spent the afternoon in fours/square.
But wasn't formation not a preference but a forced reaction to the French superiority in cavalry, particularly heavy cavalry and lancers?
 

trekaddict

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But wasn't formation not a preference but a forced reaction to the French superiority in cavalry, particularly heavy cavalry and lancers?
From what I've heard, the Frog... French had some of the best Cavalry of the time, and that the problem with the British Cavalry was among other things leadership.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Unfortunately even the Russians don't have that much pure Horse Cavalry left... Imagine a Regiment in Square with No.4s and Bren Guns. :D
Reds would love that. Their heavy guns would do wonders to the square.

No Cossacks needed at all:D
 

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Reds would love that. Their heavy guns would do wonders to the square.

No Cossacks needed at all:D
For the guns we have British Light Cavalry. :D

That kinda reminds me. Later in the war I have to make sure that there is some Cavalry on my southern Wing....