• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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trekaddict

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Asia will have to wait a bit, but trust me, you will like (as in like to read) the next couple.
 

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Chapter 257


Down in the South the Canadians were forced to bludgeon their way through in-depth Soviet Field fortifications. Both forces consisted of crack veterans for the most part, but as always the Axis had numbers on their side. The biggest edge the Canadians had that in the Allied Armies even conscripts were better trained than the average Soviet Grunt, and the Royal Canadian Army consisted of 95% Volunteers, Francos and Anglos alike. Canadian Infantry charged against the Soviet Infantry, Tanks against tanks and men died. The Canadians had an ace up their sleeves, a two Company of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry which were equipped with the Kangaroo AIC, becoming the world's first fully mechanized Unit, beating A Company from 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards to activation, something that led to a lot of friendly rivalry and to the partnership between the world's two oldest Mechanized Regiments today.

Axis forces in the front of the British 8th Army were under the command of the German LXXXIV Army Corps commanded by newly minted General of Artillery Erich Marcks while the Canadians faced the Soviet 555th Rifle Corps as part of the Soviet 25th Army. The Soviets too were veteran troops, but the hills and coastal plains did not prevent the Canadians from deploying their tanks. As an opening move General Crear sent the Canadian 4th Infantry Division towards the Soviet southern Flank from east of Trieste in 'the General direction of Lubljana and Klagenfurt', the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry being one of it's Regiments. At the same time the Canadian 4th, 5th and 9th Canadian Armoured Divisions smashed head on into the Soviet field fortifications while the supporting Infantry merely lent it's Artillery to the Canadian attack. The two Soviet Rifle Divisions targeted held firm for several hours and the abundance anti tank and other Artillery made the Canadians pay in blood for every yard gained, and in the early afternoon General Crear admitted to himself that the attack had stalled, six miles into the Soviet lines and with heavy losses. Normally at this point he would try to rotate new units in, but the ongoing combat prevented this, and so the exhausted Canadians hurled themselves against the Soviets two more times and only for minimal gain.

Now however the 4th Canadian Infantry struck, having taken six hours over abysmal roads and Soviet Ambushes to get into position, and using the Mechanized Company as a spearhead tore through the Soviet positions that had been weakened to hold the main attack in the north and slashed into the Soviet Rear Area forces were brutalized by the fast moving Canadian Infantry which would have been hard pressed to hold back regular Infantry out for blood, but the mechanized Company was near invulnerable once someone discovered that some of the troopers could shoot while standing up, and so every AIC always had the Bren gunners in the forward most seats and so quadrupling the firepower of each vehicle, and even more when one of them was a PIAT gunner.


932382b5.jpg

PPCLI troops moving through a Yugoslavian Village

The 4th Division on it's own was too weak though to break the Soviet defensive line, but the presence of a sizeable Allied force in his back did force the hand of General Rokossovskiy, the Soviet Commander on the scene. Pulling back would mean unmasking the road that connected Trieste with Lubljana and Klagenfurt and allow the Allies to use it as a road for further advance into Austria, but if he didn't, a Soviet Division was in danger of being either encircled or crushed outright between two strong Canadian formations. He knew an Axis Army was forming up in his rear and that three German Divisions were moving up towards the front and they would crush the Canadians in due time, so no order for retreat was given. However the Canadians moved faster than anyone had expected, General Crear attacked again.

The exhausted Canadians threw everything they had left after a day of combat into this attack and this time the battered Soviets gave way, partially thanks to the reports about the Canadian 4th Division which had grown to almost Army size by the time the rumours reached the grunts at the front line. The fear of already being encircled and a 'massive' Canadian force sitting on their supply lines and main road of retreat did what the most tenacious attacks from land and air had not done and caused the extreme left flank of the Soviet line to fall back, swinging like a door at an angle to the rest of the Soviet line. General Crear instantly seized the opportunity and threw his meagre reserves (half the 11th Canadian Infantry and the Polish Independent Armoured Force) into the breach and by tea-time the Poles linked up with the forward units of the 4th.

Fighting almost came to a halt more due to mutual exhaustion than anything else. The plan had gone completely to hell by this time, there was no chance of the entirety of the 9th Army exploiting the breakthrough which was far too narrow for that, but with luck two or three Divisions could move through and exploit it, but the heavy fighting of the day had left behind utter chaos and the mess of broken units, wounded, dead and stragglers would prevent any form of coherent advance by the 9th Army on the 8th. Still, the Soviets were in similar shape, and the Allies had seized enough favourable ground to prevent any attack by the German reserves for at least several hours and by that time it would be too dark to do much fighting.

In Rome Field Marshal Alexander came to the same conclusion as Field Marshal von Kluge, but unlike the German he was aware just how much power the Allied reserves had, in a pinch no less than four additional Armies could be brought forward within days.

During the night small-scale combat persisted, especially up north where the Irish and the Paras were preparing for an advance south while the 10th Mountain Division, fresh from tossing the Waffen-SS out of Italy only to be stopped by heaps of boulders blocking the mountain passes would hold the flanks and cautiously advance eastwards.

Now what had helped the Axis previously would provide the Allies with a relatively save northern flank, only light screening forces would be left behind to guard against any attacks out of northern Austria though none would came as both sides were well aware of what had happened in these mountains during the last war and Hitler had expressly forbidden any planning for an attack on the allied lines through the alps, overruling Stalin who had dreamt of using Cavalry and Mountain troops to cut off the Allied front.


Surprisingly enough the first to make a move on the next day were the Soviets with a Brigade-sized counter-attack along the old frontline only to receive a very rude wakeup call from the 48th Highlanders of Canada and the Royal 22e Régiment. During the Night the Staff Officers on both sides had frantically tried to sort out the chaos but both had been hampered by the time of day and lack of visibility. Still, the day was fast turning the way of the British when the Guards Infantry Division in the north broke through and linked up with advance units from the 1st Irish Division at around ten in the morning while down south the 9th began to advance through the gap the Canadians had created and marched towards Klagenfurt, while to the south of the Canadians the 2nd ANZAC Army moved too, having covered the Canadian flank as planned.

While the North American Commonwealth Forces reorganized themselves, General Slim's 9th Army cautiously advanced and attacked the mixture of Soviet and German light screening forces that existed in the area between them and the German reserves.

Now to understand what happened in the next three days one must understand that the German Reserve Divisions in this sector consisted of the 5th SS Panzerdivison[1], the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, the 1. SS Freiwilligen Division[2] and the 6th SS Mountain Division. The 9th Army on the other hand consisted of one Armoured and two Infantry Corps, and while the condition of the roads and supply lines meant that the Tanks and the second Corps would be lagging behind for at least a day or two, one of the Infantry Division was more motivated than anyone else. The King's Jewish Legion was hardly a secret within the German military but some, especially within the Waffen SS still had a hard time believing that the British would sink this deep.

The actual brutal clash of Arms that has been written so often about in the decades since wouldn't come for another three days, but both sides began to position themselves for what would become known as the Battle of Klagenfurt as the 9th Army pressed forward against stiffening resistance.

The 8th and the 1st Canadian meanwhile were pushing back the combined German-Soviet force to the north that was hampered by the fact that Marcks and Rokossovskiy couldn't figure out just who was in command until von Kluge ruled that Marcks had the say. However meanwhile the Brits and Canucks had set about dismantling the Corps even though the Allied troops were outnumbered.

Pressure from two sides and a third Allied Force pressuring the reserves and those parts of both Corps that had fallen back east instead of north and north-east worried Marcks greatly, but the Southern Alpine railway line[3] was very far behind Axis lines and as it ran along the southern edge of the Alps easily defensible, and the hills of northern Yugoslavia were already strewn with the dead of both sides.


While the Allied forces fought and died in Austria for little gain, in the United Kingdom another cruel twist of fate turned world history on a new course. Outside of Coventry a convoy of three Official Cars with Government plates moved through a wrecked industrial area that had seen a fair share of bombing when Axis bombers still had dared to venture this deep into British airspace. Now it was being cleaned up and rumours were that a tank and an Aircraft plant were meant to be constructed here. The Convoy was clearly carrying a VIP, but no one knew just who it was in the car.


The men trying to defuse the German bomb that had been resting under the rubble for months didn't know that they were destined to fail. They were standing in the shadow of a factory wall that was propped up by wooden stakes, but the perspiration that they felt didn't come so much from the heat as to more who the person was who was about to exit the car as it stopped. As the King and Queen stepped out a hush went through the crowd as they knew what was going to happen. Princess Elizabeth stayed behind in the car for several seconds.

As the bomb exploded and the wall collapsed onto the assembled crowd, this saved her life, for the car shielded the Princess from the worst of the falling rubble but the others were not so lucky. The last thing the king saw was how one of the workers braved the slippery mountain of rubble and dragged the Princess to safety.

The last thing the King felt as he slipped into oblivion was a feeling of gratitude.





[Notes: As said...the Brits won't remember 1942 as a good year....]

[1]No Weserübung means no Wiking Division.

[2] Volunteer Division

[3] Purely TTL. Built in the late 30s as part of Adolfs economic programme.
 

Lord Strange

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Noooooooo! Noooooooo! The King!
The King is dead!
Long live the Queen!
 

trekaddict

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Noooooooo! Noooooooo! The King!
The King is dead!
Long live the Queen!

IIRC Victoria was two years older when she ascended to the throne. A good omen perhaps?
 

trekaddict

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I did kill him off a decade before his time, so I figured he deserved knowing that his daughter was safe.
 

Ciryandor

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OK, WTF were those EOD guys doing tinkering with a bomb when VIPs were there?

Also, they KNOW there's something there, why park at that spot?!
 

Griffin.Gen

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D: Not the King!!
*sigh* You bastard, trek... God save the Queen.
 

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Deathsheadx The surprise worked then.

Ciryandor They didn't have much choice. For one the King insisted on inspecting the work of the UXB (as it was called then) teams and secondly everyone thought the bomb was already safe.

Griffin.Gen Well, I said that the TTL Royal Family would be radically different.
 

trekaddict

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I left the particulars vague because Ian is supposed to investigate it all.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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I smell a rat here... a brownish red conspiracy? (don't tell me that the IRA went wild...).
 

trekaddict

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I smell a rat here... a brownish red conspiracy? (don't tell me that the IRA went wild...).

Nothing points towards anything but an Accident.
 

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Nothing points towards anything but an Accident.

Yet.
Definitely a CommuNazi plot! We will fight on stronger! Still, what is the PM going to say to the country/Empire?!
 

trekaddict

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@all Wow. The reactions to the death of the King were far stronger than I anticipated. Then again, I was born in a Republic, so I might not be able to fully understand these things, even though it was the direction I was aiming for.

Lord StrangeWhat Churchill says...we will see it in the next update.
 

ColossusCrusher

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This is what happens when the Stiff Upper Lip leads the man, and not the other way around. :D
 

Kurt_Steiner

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@all Wow. The reactions to the death of the King were far stronger than I anticipated. Then again, I was born in a Republic, so I might not be able to fully understand these things, even though it was the direction I was aiming for.

I was born and live under a constitutional monarchy, but I do love seeing kings ending like any other mortal so don't panic. :D
 

trekaddict

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ColossusCrusher Probably, but then again, Noblesse oblige.

Kurt_Steiner Goody.
 

ColossusCrusher

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Whenever I want to ponder mortality, I think of the crater left when ETA blew up Carrero Blanco. About the only good thing they ever did. :D