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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Raaritsgozilla

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Reinforce Singapore! It shall never be lost!
 

Le Jones

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A good repulse of the first attack - but I think that the British will struggle.

BTW - how are the other fronts looking?
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Yamashita to face the Russians?

Poor him... :rofl:
 

trekaddict

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Griffin.Gen Indeed!

Raaritsgozilla Singapore is about as strong as it can be, and reinforcements go to Burma first of all, because in the grander scheme of things India always has priority.

Le Jones The Japanese will take some time to recover and rethink their approach before they can attack again.

The other fronts are essentially stalemated, Burma at the river, and Europe at the Gustav Line, though not forever.

Kurt_Steiner Yeah..
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 216​


15th April 1942

Somewhere in the rear area of the Gustav Line


The first thing he heard was the roar of aircraft engines, a lot of them to boot. At first he turned around on his cot and simply rumbled about the dimwits in the Luftwaffe who claimed air superiority but couldn't stop the English from bombing Northern Italy every night. When the flak began to fire he simply closed his eyes, but soon the lighter pieces joined in. He may have been only a lowly Lance Corporal, but he was in charge of the squad of sorry loosers that the Division liked to call a machine gun team and had issued with a new MG42, so it was his job to find out what was happening and then tell them that it was probably nothing. He rose, pulled on his boots, trousers and jacket and was stepping out just as the Lieutenant came running from the Company CP past the row of huts where the unit was billeted and started yelling for the men to get up. Apparently something on the ground was coming in on the back of this air raid, and so the Battalion turned out as a man. Lance Corporal Bauer kicked his men awake and even before any more orders came in four tired, annoyed but heavily Armed German Soldiers stood at attention and then marched to the assembly area with the rest of their company. The Lieutenant began to tal the them about why they were moving out in the middle of the night. Apparently there had been reports of increased sabotage activity and some parachute landings behind the lines, and since the Regiment was the Division Reserve, it was ordered to clear out and hold the lines of communication that connected the Division with the rest of the Army. 1st Company was tasked with the defence of a small intersection that was one of the routes over which the Division was supplied or retreated on if need be. With the enemy planes still roaring overhead and the flak firing what the barrels could give they marched through the darkness, noticing how the sound of combat got louder and louder, and they had not even made more than a mile or two when the gunfire was heard all around them in the night, to the men it seemed as if the entire world was fighting in this bit of Italy. The crossroad was only two miles back from their own position, so they reached it in no time – prepared positions were not made on their own usually, but it was a v-intersection with the long bit pointing towards their old position, so they simply jumped into the ditches at the side of the road, complained about the puddles of water and prepared themselves. Waiting was a huge part of any Army, and since Bauer knew that his men were able to do their jobs, he simply leaned against the back of the ditch and took a good look at the area. It was only three in the morning, so the night was still very, very dark, but occasional flak explosions in the stream of aircraft overhead and his experience still gave him a decent picture.

The whole area between them and Modena was flat, good tank country if a little bit wooded, so it made sense that if this was an attack that staging it here made sense, and Bauer wasn't surprised that the British attacked themselves. Ahead of them stretched a great plain dotted with trees, villages and roads, excellent country for the stylized form of Infantry Combat fancied by the Heer. He looked up at the stream of aircraft, and just as he began to look, great white plumes of silk became visible.

“Well bugger me dead with a breadknife, they are dropping parachutists.” said someone in his group, and Bauer turned around to find out who it was. He reprimanded the man and grabbed his MP-40 (standard issue, since he was a group leader) and the heavy revolver (not standard issue and taken of a dead Frenchman back in '40) that constituted his weapons and waited. There were a whole lot of paratroopers in the sky, and that meant that sooner or later an attack could come from either side of the position, and he knew that fighting a paradrop was difficult. He did not know it, but the drop he was witnessing were three regiments, the 1st Parachute Regiment ( Royal Gurkha Rifles ) under Colonel Howard, and the 101st 'Screaming Eagles' Parachute Regiment under Colonel McAulliffe (who had risen to command after the old Commander had been killed) and the 8th Midland Counties Parachute Regiment which had been temporarily attached to 6th Brigade for this operation. Bauer wasn't too sure what their objectives might be, but judging from what he had seen in Western Europe and read in the papers, their orders would most likely be to simply confuse the German and Soviet reserve troops and – hold on, did something move back there?

Just then a single shot rang out in the tell-tale bang of a Lee-Enfield rifle, and before he could wonder if it was accidental, small arms fire came their way from a small group of trees, and before he could give an order or even wait for the Lieutenant to do so he heard the by now almost soothing sound of a MG42 being cocked and the Lieutenant just nodded and in an instant both Machine Guns began to fire at the trees, and Bauer cursed under his breath when he saw that some idiot at Ordnance had mixed in tracer rounds again, which made aim easier but also announced the position as if with a flare pistol. Nothing to be done about that now though. The gunfire from the woods stopped after a few bursts had been fired into it and the men in the drainage ditch gripped their weapons so much harder while the engagement was reported back to Regiment. Bauer took out his field glasses and scanned the horizon, and he could see the flashes of Artillery, the tracer round and heavier shells of the light flak and god knew what else shooting into the air and at unseen enemies on the ground. He then confined himself to watching the area around them, and...again he was interrupted by enemy bullets, only that this time they were coming from literally everywhere, and made the scared and tired German soldiers fire almost blindly into the night while their Officers tried to sort out where the fire was coming from. That an entire company was in essence shooting at shadows didn't make it any easier, and in the darkness even that required mastery beyond belief.


Meanwhile in Salo Field Marshal Rommel was wide awake and looking at a map. He felt as if transported back to the days when the Allied had been confined to North Africa and been viewed with respect but also disdain, and now once again they were showing that they were at least as good soldiers than any German Landser. This time however he was prepared and knew what to expect, and even as he listened to his staff he was trying to come up with a response.


“Sir, we have reported enemy parachute landings all in a West-East strip between Parma and Reggio nell'Emilia, smaller landings dotted all over the place and it seems as if it is still going on.”

“Estimated strength?”

“We don't know yet, Field Marshal, and we haven't identified any units as of yet, but what we know suggests that the area is to small a landing zone for more than a Brigade or two.”

Upon looking at the map again, he knew what the intention was, in a battle area this small it was next to impossible to disguise it anyway if the enemy commander had half a brain, so he walked to the second-floor landing that showed down into the room and looked at the map from above, deciding what to do. To the north they had the Soviet 22nd Motor Rifle Division, their 34th Cavalry (Motorized) and the German 375th Infantry, farther back the armoured reserve. Of all these units only the 22nd could hope to attack the allied landings from the north before dawn, and even as he opened his mouth to give orders to the effect, he saw with satisfaction that his staff had already pre-empted it and sent the Division to attack, moving the marker forward now, just as on a second plotting table massive Air Battles were shown.

“Notify the 34th and the 375th to attack as soon as practicable.” He walked down the stairs and to the door, he needed a cup of Coffee and the rest of his uniform. “AND SOMEONE TALK TO THE PANZERS!”


He was back within minutes and was now sporting the usual insignia and embroidery of a German Field Marshal and also had a cup of coffee in his hand, which made him much more easy for his subordinates to endure. When he stepped to the map table again, the Soviet Liaison Officer, one Major Chernov and asked:

“So Major, what else can you give me?”

The Major was still uncomfortable in the alien atmosphere of a Wehrmacht Staff where the aristocracy that the Soviets so derided was so blatantly in evidence and in force, and yet the very same men were behaving in a professional way that was absent from many Red Army units – and he often thanked god (he might exist after all, and he had been raised by a devout mother) that the Soviet Union and Germany were not at war with each other. The carnage would have been frightful. But since they were allies, he could admit to himself that he rather liked the Germans, and what he had seen of Western Europe told him that his home village on the western slopes of the Urals was a hole of poverty and backwardness, compared to the degree of wealth he had seen even in some of the poorest villages in Germany and Italy.

He shook these thoughts away and turned to the German Field Marshal.

“Not much, Herr Feldmarschall.” (Something else he had to get used to.) The reserves that are within easy striking distance are negligible, but I can try and ask them to speed up their moves south.”

The German just nodded and decided that he shouldn't pester the poor Major even more. His job was unthankful enough, because of the Command Areas, for the most part his job was to get unwilling and dodgy commanders to fully cooperate with the Germans and Rommel also suspected that he sometimes passed on reports that went beyond the usual that could be expected from this form of position. Still, he was competent and did his job.

On the Battlefield meanwhile the situation began to come together when the forward units reported being under attack by a massed Infantry and Armoured Force that was apparently trying to go around Modena and link up with the Paratroop forces which were attacking everything from communication posts to crossroads to even the smallest outposts, and they had handily cleared the area inbetween their landings even though the Axis forces still controlled the major roads and most importantly the one that connected Modena with the rest of Axis-controlled Italy in the north was, while under mortar and light artillery fire still passable and was used by the Germans to funnel additional units into the city in order to defend against the expected allied assault. The plan for Jubilee called for Modena to be surrounded and eventually forced to surrender, since the Allies had a phobia of large-scale city fighting, to link up with the Paras and then initiate a flanking manoeuvre in order to roll up the Gustav Line in order to prevent the Axis from retreating and forming another line. Rommel didn't know that of course, but he knew that if he managed to prevent the link and destroy the paras, the Allies would be dealt a serious blow and cripple their Airborne Forces, removing a major headache for him and his Staff.

Over the rest of the morning the surprised German and Soviet troops worked to do just that. Initially they had been stunned by the sudden attack and never been as overwhelmed as during Market Garden, and this told when the Paratroopers began to take losses that at mid-day already exceeded those of the landings last year, and the attack against the Main Line went not as well as had been planned because the Germans were well prepared, and even though the attack would eventually force them back and grind on on both sides of Modena, for the entire day progress extraordinarily slow.

For the remainder of the day and the night the battle continued to rage and by nightfall only the main action at the Gustav Line dropped off, and even there vicious patrol actions were fought. When the next day dawned, combat resumed, and this time the British had more luck. More Artillery had been drawn forward and the Allied Air Forces intensified their attacks against the Axis. On this second day the Luftwaffe and the Red Air Force had expected more of the same as the day before, but the Allies switched from the rear area infiltration attacks to close air support, and the fact that they hadn't done so earlier or from the start would lead to some heads rolling in RAF Mediterranean eventually. Just now however the British and Allied troops were greeted with the welcome sight of Mosquitoes, Spitfires and Ground-attack Hurricanes (surplus units from RAF stocks were refurbished and sold to Allies for a symbolical £1 apiece) strafing and bombing the enemy positions, and immediately they found that it was still tough going, but much easier than it had been yesterday. The western axis of Advance finally managed the goals of the day before, only that the Paras hadn't, and no linkup was made on that day.


They had different problems at that moment, because the main German Counterattack had gone in, and the Commander of the 22nd Motor Rifle, being senior; was carrying out his task superbly, and by the time the forward southern Units reached the rendezvous point, the Paras were fighting for their lives. What saved them was that they had managed at least to link up with each other and clear out the resistance in their backs and were now forming a cohesive pocket that was more and more pressed towards the centre, never rupturing. The Axis knew that if they wanted to win this battle they had to crush the Paras before they could make contact with their friends in the south and threw their men against the British again and again, only Artillery from beyonf the front and air support saved the pocket during the day.

In the South the attack continued as the eastern pincer began to come close to it's goals, while the western one began to wheel east at the orders of Field Marshal Alexander. They reached Regio nell'Emilia at about teatime, stopping there. The Divisions involved in the attack were highly disorganized and exhausted after almost two days of brutal fighting and almost no sleep. A welcome side effect of this was that Rommel directed the majority of the units defending Modena to move out of the city and either help contain the Western Pincer or to join the attack on the Paras, using this pretext to essentially abandon Modena which had been expressly forbidden by the Führer months before. He knew that if he didn't manage to crush the Paras on the next day, the British would have won a victory, if a very pyrrhic one.

However by that time both sides were exhausted and spent the rest of the day and the night with bringing up reinforcements and ammunition. When the third day dawned, the Commander of the 22nd Motor Rifle Division approached the perimeter of the pocket where he was met by a tired, dirty and twice wounded Gurkha Paratrooper who bound his eyes and led him through the lines. Rommel had ordered this meet, hoping to bluff the Paras into surrender. The General was led into the command post from where Colonel McAuliffe as the senior Officer led the Defence. (Colonel Howard had been wounded and the third man was a Lt.Colonel)

The following conversation was short and tense, and when the Soviet General was led back to the perimeter he felt more baffled and confused than ever, since he was unaware of the differences between the American Loyalists and their British comrades. The answering message was routed to Field Marshal Rommel who was just as bewildered. He was aware that the Colonel had been born in America, but he neither understood, and so he routed the message to Berlin via the express frequency where it was eventually handed to a man who had worked at the German Embassy in Washington.

'To the Soviet Commander: NUTS!'



Field Marshal Rommel at that point decided that he needed to answer a call of nature and walked from the war room to the restrooms just down the hall. There was greeted with a voice that he had hoped to never hear again, for it meant trouble, yet he still had to answer.

“Oberst Steiner, what a surprise. What can I do for the Admiral?”



[Notes: Next week Uni starts again, so I'll have much less time for writing, but I'll TRY to get something posted on Monday at the latest.]
 

Raaritsgozilla

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Oh! Steiner! This can only end well.

And good to see the Americans giving the Soviets what for. Having the Ghurkas and the 101st come at me at the same time would give me the shits to be honest.
 

Griffin.Gen

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101st AND Gurkhas in the same sentence? This is the smell of awesomeness.
 

Ciryandor

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101st AND Gurkhas in the same sentence? This is the smell of awesomeness.
Agree, and working in NUTS was so unexpectedly expected of you. :rofl:
 

PrawnStar

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Wow - good stuff! Very enjoyable.

I've just read the whole thread (well not all the naval porn spam) over the last few days.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Rommel and Steiner together. Now it's when the Brits get their arses kicked!











Not a chance, but dreaming is free...:p
 

trekaddict

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Raaritsgozilla Aye, even though the 101st is only a Regiment.

Griffin.Gen Thanks.

Ciryandor Balls like that have to be rewarded.

PrawnStar Thanks!

Kurt_Steiner It will be incredibly awesome though.
 

Le Jones

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Great update, lovely to see Howard leading his men to glory (or death?) though I fear for their continued survival if the Germans/Russians organise themselves.
 

trekaddict

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It's admittedly a bit of a Cliffhanger, since the next update deals with something completely different. *evilness*. The fate of the Paras shall be revealed soon.
 

Raaritsgozilla

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I demand that you put one of these guys in your AAR!
 

trekaddict

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I demand that you put one of these guys in your AAR!
Major Cain will appear eventually, but at the moment he is most likely in Para School back in the UK. :D Interesting tidbit: I have heard that his daughter is married to one Jeremy Clarckson.
 

stevep

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Major Cain will appear eventually, but at the moment he is most likely in Para School back in the UK. :D Interesting tidbit: I have heard that his daughter is married to one Jeremy Clarckson.
Ye Gods! To come through the war successfully against such odds then have a family tragedy like that.:eek::(

Steve
 

trekaddict

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Ye Gods! To come through the war successfully against such odds then have a family tragedy like that.:eek::(

Steve
*raises hand* Top Gear Fan here.
 

Raaritsgozilla

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trekaddict

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Ditto.

So Clarkson married his daughter? That makes him even cooler now. Excellent.
I first became aware of Major Cain when I watched Clarksons Victoria Cross Documentary, at the end of which he revealed that tidbit.