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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

trekaddict

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When I saw mention of the South Essex I wondered if they'd be armed with stilettos (White)...

Disappointed to hear it's a Sharpe reference now I'm stuck with an image of Sean Bean shagging posh birds above his pay grade :(
Well, I see him charging a Soviet Infantry trench with his baker rifle...
 

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Chapter 346


The first half of May 1943 was a time of comparatively little activity on the Western half of the front as both sides adjusted their strategy and tactics to the aftermath of Operation Husky. In Romania however things were different, because not only did the Iasi pocket repulse several attacks between the 4th May and 11th but the Hungarian Government released a Division from the strategic reserve and attached the 111th Infantry Division to the 1st Canadian Army but also the Romanian 2nd Armoured Division was activated.

This latter was prematurely and it would show, but at that moment more tanks were all that registered with General Currie, even more so since they were attached directly to his command.

The Soviets meanwhile realized that if they were to regain the initiative in this attack they had either to break through the Romano-Canadian forces that showed not the slightest intent to collapse or even retreat significantly further or crush the pocket to ease their supply situation, preferably both. That this was impossible to achieve with the forces in the shape they were in made STAVKA nervous.

Not because they feared defeat but more because they feared Stalin who was becoming increasingly irate as the year progressed and the inevitable Soviet march to victory stalled ever more and in the Soviet Union there were few things more dangerous than Stalin being denied the results he desired.

But luckily for the personal health of many senior Officers in the area Zhukov, who happened to be in Moscow for consultations on how the British were to be pushed beyond the Danube pointed out to Stalin that no one could have known that the Canadians would avail themselves to their Romanian lackeys to this degree, as almost all intelligence estimates had stated that the Romanians would at best be used as cannon fodder and rear area troops, not as line formations trusted with securing the flanks and other important areas of the Imperialist armies.

In a piece of political theatre that would later stand him in good stead he told Stalin, as was recorded by a secretary: “Comrade Stalin, the Officers of the Bessarabia Front can hardly be faulted for a failure in intelligence gathering!”

It must be pointed out at this stage that the GRU had indeed warned Moscow only weeks ago that the Romanian Army would only increase it's participation in the war, not remove itself almost completely for the remainder of the year, however more lightly they were equipped when compared to their Allies.


Zhukov's comment is also the first known evidence for how early the power struggle between the GRU and the NKVD that would eventually leave one of those institutions smashed and destroyed started. Beria had never forgiven Zhukov for talking Stalin into stripping the Political Commissars of their military authority a mere two months ago and Stalin, well aware of the utter loathing between the men did nothing to dissuade it, indeed it can be argued that he felt that any rivalry between the Army and the NKVD prevented them from uniting and plotting against himself.



Either way, the NKVD's failure to accurately predict Romanian intentions (hardly surprising, considering that the Foreign Intelligence Networks of that institution were not comparable to the GRU's) played into Zhukov's hands. For one he had the clout to further his quest to crush Beria once and for all and secondly this increased the standing of the GRU that had (at his insistence) not changed it's predictions to accommodate with that of the NKVD just because it was what they thought Stalin wanted to hear.

It was an extremely dangerous gamble as Stalin was known to change his opinions on a whim but the Red Army knew (or rather hoped) that they would be vindicated on the battlefield before Stalin decided that they were overly pessimistic.

STAVKA was happy in a way with what had happened as it strengthened the credentials of the military professionals in this key area and helped convince Stalin that lengthening the leash with which he held the forces in the field under his control might be a good idea if he wanted to achieve victory.

In the long run this meant that Stalin trusted the NKVD less and less and the Army more and more, even in spite of the worsening situation at the front.


~**---**~​


On the Allied side of the front meanwhile Crerar and his Romanian colleagues were busy planning a massive counter-attack to relieve the pocket and drive the Soviets out of the country for good. It was a good thing that Crerar and General Alexandru Babuescu, commander of the Romanian 14th Corps got on 'like a house on fire' as one of Crerar's ex-american aides put it. The General had been assigned to Crerar's staff as a liaison first when the Canadians had entered the country first and now he was the Officer most familiar with Allied weapons and doctrine, thus the natural commander of the 14th Corps which was intended to be expanded into the 14th Army as Kingdom's primary field Army.

In the months a close personal friendship had developed between the men and now they were sitting in a tent with a bottle of the best of the local booze. After all, planning could be done in comfort. Crerar looked at the map and decided that one thing was needed most of all: more Artillery.[1]

“The next best thing will be more of those SRLS lorries.” Babuescu said in accented but good English.”

Crerar looked up. The discussion was an old one. So far the Romanian Army was frightfully short on heavy Artillery and while their foundries were working around the clock there were few.

“That Bulgarian Brigade has been bringing a disproportional amount of guns, Alexandru.”

The Romanian only smiled and then commented that this was a result of a telegram sent to an old friend of his at the Bulgarian War Ministry. “They are even shorter on guns than we are but their army is so small that they decided to send small forces with a lot of equipment rather than large ones with next to nothing.”

This was something big, a country admitting that their armed forces were not up to the task at hand.

“Has the General said anything?”

He was referring to Crerar's request to Freyberg for more guns and more rocket artillery.


The Canadian shook his head. “He needs them for his own attack east. To quote him, I was getting operational freedom and taking his guns as well. Kiwi humour I suppose.”

Crerar smiled thinly. He knew that Freyberg giving him what was in essence a free hand to conduct his half of the coming campaign as he pleased as long as he stayed within the grand strategy laid out by CinC Europe and Freyberg as GOC South-East and of course told those higher up on the ladder what he was on about.

“Either way,” he said and sipped from his glass, “either way, we have to clear our Soviet counterparts from the roads into the pocket. They say they can hold for the moment, but they have to be running low on spares.”


“Agreed. But there remains the issue of the three Soviet Tank Divisions between them and us and if I am to be honest, our own 2nd Armoured isn't ready.”

“How long would they need?”

“Another two months at least.” Babuescu replied, and before Crerar could say anything he raised his left hand. “I know we don't have that much time.”

“There isn't much else to do than just hammer our heads against their line and go for and old-style breakthrough.”

“At least we will use decent tactics.”

The Romanian General had spent the last months learning Allied tactics and he had acquired the same distaste and horror for what had been used at the Somme and Ypres as came from most of the Officers that had served in that particular war.

Come to think of it, the Canadians had done very well in that war in spite of that. He knew from the reading he had done that two battles especially were in the hearts and minds of these Canadians and when he looked at it on the surface not much had changed.

But of course everything had changed and what Crerar was saying even then was an example.

“Well, at least the General decided to part with some of his tactical air support.”

“That's also something you can't ever really have enough of.”

Crerar didn't reply and just stared at the map. There was something here that he had missed, he knew it and it vexed him that he couldn't see what it was. Yes, Signals Intelligence was less than accurate when the enemy used field telephones, yes, camouflage bedeviled aerial recce but there was something....

It suddenly hit him. “Their Infantry seems to be concentrated around the pocket, not against us.”


Babuescu rose to look at the same map. “That won't help us much, even if it is true.”

Crerar nodded. “Yes, but an unbalanced force like this is easier to destroy anyway. Now, where did I have that list with the combat readiness reports of our tank units?”

+-+-+-+-+-+-

Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?

[1] In case you hadn't noticed: I believe in guns, the bigger the better, the more the even better.
 

ViperhawkZ

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I like it.

I like it a lot.

I can't find anything on Babuescu so I assume you either made him up or pulled him off some obscure list of Romanian officers, but I like that him and Crerar are getting along. (I forget if you've mentioned, but which of our Crerars is this?) I'm also glad that we've noticed a weakness in the Soviet lines...
 

Kurt_Steiner

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If the Red forces are looking on the wrong direction, the attack may go well for some time, I would think.
 

trekaddict

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ViperhawkZ The Romanian is indeed fictional. Since TTL someone else gets to rescue the Dutch (sorry folks) Canada and Romania will have that sort of relationship. The ANZACs will soon be moved...elsewhere and the Romanian/Canadian Forces will be the ones moving into the Ukraine, supported by the British Cavalry Corps.

Our Canadian General is the WW2, First Canadian Army one.

Kurt_Steiner It won't be this easy, but it's the best hook he has.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 347


It had been some time since the Royal Navy had visited Wilhelmshaven and to be honest, there was not much there to warrant any attention these days. The rusting hulk of Scharnhorst, stripped down almost to the deck for anything that could be used was there, Tirpitz had long-since been broken down and made into Tanks and all that remained for the by-montly air-raids that rotated between the RAF and the RN were the harbour facilities and the U-Boat slips.

And in any case, today the target of the Airgroups of Britain's newest Carrier was something else. HMS Audacious[1] had just been declared operational and had almost immediately been tasked with an attack even though she was meant to join the Pacific Fleet. But someone had decided that there was some sort of German activity on some of the Frisian Islands that needed urgent attention by Her Most Britannic Majesty's Navy and as the nearest flat-topped ship Audacious had been given the job.


Many had grumbled that this was a job for the Air Force and while her Captain agreed, he was not about to turn down combat experience against a weakly defended target. The Crabs were distracting their fighters, so it would not be as bad as if they had to attack into the teeth of a Japanese Carrier group.

Still, they were doing things by the book and so the Barracudas (all armed with bombs) were escorted by the prescribed number of Seafires and so forth.


The target turned out to be nothing more than a RDF station. A big one, yes, but nothing more than a bunker with the antennae exposed as they inevitably were. Procedure was clear on what would be done, the dive-bombers would dive-bomb the bunkers and the torpedo-bombers would attack whatever else there was of that installation above ground.


There was little in the way of AAA, only several light guns that put up intense but ineffectual fire.

After less than half an hour the base was torn to pieces and more than one officer aboard the Carrier and the escorts that were to join the Pacific Fleet also questioned the wisdom of placing anything military related on a place as exposed as this one.

At the headquarters of the North-Sea Naval District of the German Navy on the other hand the wisdom was openly decried. It had been a Luftwaffe installation and soon enough the Fat Reichsjägermeister would come calling and demand to know what was to be done to secure the European coast.

That these days the best weapon against ships were actually Göring's bombers and not the sorry remnants of what had once been the High Seas Fleet was never an issue in these discussions.


Oh there were attempts. Four Squadrons of elderly He-115 floatplane torpedo-bombers were sent to attack the lone Carrier but ran into Spit and Seafires, with only four even making it into range of the hastily withdrawing Audacious.


More attacks were demanded by Berlin and several groups of Ju-88s were sent out but to no avail. Either they were driven off by Standing Air Patrol fighters or simply never made any contact at all. All their efforts accomplished was that the Admiralty decided to suspend the raids on the German coast as the response had been far more vigorous than expected.

It was feared that the Soviets would eventually join their Axis comrades in the North Sea instead of concentrating most of their Naval aviation efforts against the Japanese or in the Baltic sea.

Meanwhile in Germany there was little point in casting blame as both the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe were deep down well aware that the war at sea was effectively lost. The British ruled the North Sea, their maritime patrol aircraft making reinforcing the western U-Boat Squadrons a hazardous exercise while in the Atlantic the increasing number and skill of the Allied escort forces and even their older, pre-war Carriers which these days carried mostly Fighters and ASW aircraft increased losses.

When six months ago the losses had been severe they were now approaching catastrophic, the introduction of both the Hedgehog ASW mortar on what seemed to be everything that would float and rumoured experimental deployment of other weapons, along with ridiculous air superiority over the convoy routes having pushed the U-Boats to the brink.

As former BdU Dönitz knew that his men would not be able to sustain these losses for long and he also knew that by the end of the year at the latest he would have to suspend the regular Wolf-Pack patrols to preserve at least some of his forces among which losses were already approaching nine in twelve.[2]

Hitler demanded that something be done about this and put great hopes into the Type XVIII and XXI boats but Dönitz doubted that even if they entered service he would be given enough of them to make a difference as he knew that soon enough everything would have to be spent on the Heer as the Allies were poised to break from the Ostmark into Bavaria.


U-2540, the single surviving Type XXI in Bremerhaven Maritime Museum, 2004

For the Kriegsmarine the end was fast approaching and while everyone knew it, no one was ready to admit it out loud.

~**---**~​

The Admiralty was inclined to share this train of thought. ULTRA was far from prompt when it came to decoding the signal traffic but enough came through so that the Home Fleet felt almost comfortable to be reduced to one elderly pre-war Carrier and three Dreadnoughts permanently assigned.

Mostly because these few capital ships had an extraordinary number of escorts that were mostly employed with hunting submarines and what not.

The Royal Air Force was still bemoaning that Bomber Command could do little to affect the course of the war directly. Duhetian theories about strategic bombing had been discredited but there were some that still felt that Bomber Command could do more. What annoyed them was that almost half of Bomber Command was actually employed in the far east bombing the industry of southern China.


One thing that went for Bomber Command was the wide-spread service Tall-boy bomb that the RAF Special Duties Group was employing against submarine pens in France, with mixed but at least some success, another was that a lot of what didn't go into Bomber Command was used to re-equip Imperial close support squadrons with the newest aircraft and Strike Command was admittedly doing vital work together with the Army.


But that did not turn the RAF into a clone of their enemies by any means. Heavy Bombing attacks against transportation links and other infrastructure each night were the norm and the drone of the heavy Lancasters was known throughout Germany and occupied Europe.


However, the newest addition to this was more to Bomber Command's liking. When the minor Axis states had changed sides it had eventually been decided that from airfields in Romania and southern Hungary Allied Bombers would easily be able to attack at least parts of the Russian industrial potential and to facilitate this without compromising efforts elsewhere a new Strategic Bombing Group was created.


Initially it only consisted of three Squadrons, including one Polish unit formed of exiles and escapees alike.


By May 1943 that had swollen to eight Squadrons flying from several southern Romanian and Hungarian Airbases taken over by the Allies and the first attack, ironically against the Soviet Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol (a raid during which the raid commander reportedly kept reciting Kipling's 'Charge of the Light Brigade) was a smashing success in spite of the presence of Soviet Fighters.

Losses were minimal at first as the Voyska ProtivoVozdushnoy Oborony, or Soviet Air Defence Forces had been caught off guard. The Allied buildup had been detected but it had been expected that these aircraft would raid into the northern Ukraine and towards the Industry in western Russia first.

The very idea that there were ever any serious plans for a landing on the Crimean Penninsula is false, though it was briefly considered. The idea died mostly because of the lack naval forces. The Turks, while all but openly pro-allied had no desire to enter the war actively and allowing the Allied Fleet passage through the Bosporus would have certainly been followed by a Soviet declaration of war.


As it was Turkey interned Axis personnel within their borders and quietly returned Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen as fast as was possible under the circumstances, allowed Allied Companies and Governments to do business under very favourable conditions and bought considerable numbers of surplus weapons at excellent rates.[3]


It was obvious that Ankara felt that the Allies would be winning the war in the end and hung it's flag in the direction the wind was blowing from.

Greece went one step further than that. While they too decided not to enter the war at this juncture they were anything but neutral. Allied ships were repaired and allowed to refuel and re-provision at Greek ports and Allied aircraft where also allowed to make fuelling stops if needed.


All in all southern Europe was firmly leaning towards the Allies or, in the case of Spain, smart enough to understand that either way it was better for the nation not to take sides. And in any case, post-Franco Spain was hardly the most stable of countries and while the installation of the Regency Council for the future Juan Carlos I (who would eventually democratize Spain) was still ten years in the future the Spanish had already decided that forgetting what the Germans and Italians had done for them during the civil war was in their best interests long term.

The Germans had understood this as well and while the faccade of Fascist co-operation was kept up Berlin had stopped courting Madrid long ago.

All in all the Axis were almost completely isolated in Europe. The informal Nordic Alliance in Scandinavia, the Allies in Britain and on the continent and unwilling to openly hostile neutrals.

For the Allies the situation hadn't looked better since the beginning of the war.

+-+-+-+-

Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes?

This was originally supposed to be a piece about the Allied air-raid...

[1] Here just a member of the Implacable Class.

[2] OTL over the course of the war losses are thought to be near nine in ten. Here there are still only a limited number of MPAs and Hunter-Killer groups, though both are on the rise. By this time in 1944 the U-Boats will be fully defeated for good.

[3]Basically the Turks, instead of -190s buy Hurricanes and early-model Spitfires, a few old Cromwells and so forth.
 

Raaritsgozilla

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Yeah, its pretty much done for Germany and the Soviets. Any chance of E-50s showing up though?
 

MarcusAurelius1

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*Suppress urge to make jokes about Frisian Islands* :p

I'm gonna guess here's the strategic disposition of the Allied armies:

(from left to right) French - left, on French soil; British - center, heading for Germany proper; Canadians - right, inside Romania.

I'm not sure where are the ANZACs at. :blush:

Marc A
 

Raaritsgozilla

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I think they are now CANZACs, with Canada included, therefore in Romania
 

ViperhawkZ

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Kurt_Steiner

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A pity that Franco didn't join the German side. A charming chance to blow him into bloody pieces.
 

El Pip

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A pity that Franco didn't join the German side. A charming chance to blow him into bloody pieces.
Isn't he already dead though? Or at least out of the picture?

It's now a bit too late to comment on all the rest, so just imagine I said lovely things about all the previous updates I missed while I was away. Apart from the bits with the Beetle in obviously, as like pretty much everything Ferdinand Porsche did it offends my engineers soul!
 

trekaddict

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Agent Larkin The Greeks, maybe, the Turks not. The Turks are perfectly happy with playing both sides to the maximum as is.

Raaritsgozilla No. There are few things I despise more than late-war Wunderwaffen and their fans.

MarcusAurelius1 I was in desperate need for a laugh when I wrote that.

Your disposition of forces is correct, though the ANZACs (which also include a South African DivisioN) will soon be re-deployed...closer to home shall we say.

Raaritsgozilla Yup.

Kurt_Steiner It's been done.

El Pip The Beetle is your lot's fault! :D You were too cheap to use your own cars as vehicles for the occupation forces so it was decided to start production of the beetle. ALso, I happen to like it because it is a German icon and a symbol for our recovery after the war.
 

MarcusAurelius1

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MarcusAurelius1 I was in desperate need for a laugh when I wrote that.

Your disposition of forces is correct, though the ANZACs (which also include a South African DivisioN) will soon be re-deployed...closer to home shall we say.
Hmmm...



"Who?"

"Somebody." :D

Marc A
 

MarcusAurelius1

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I know they weren't that important in the grand scheme of things, but being Chinese (ETHNICALLY Chinese, I should add ;)), I must wonder how are the Free Chinese Forces doing (as in, size, unit makeup, weaponry, morale, the works). :)

A proposed list of FCF personnel, subject to approval of Trek der Grosse:

CINC Free Chinese Forces: Maj. Gen Sun Li-jen (formerly NRA)
GOC, 1st Division, Free Chinese Forces: Brigadier Liao Yao-hsiang (formerly NRA)
GOC, 2nd Division, Free Chinese Forces: Brigadier Hu Lian (formerly NRA)
GOC, 3rd Division, Free Chinese Forces: Brigadier Peng Dehuai (formerly Chinese Red Army)

All the former NRA guys would go on to command one of the Five Great Hosts of the ROC Army IOTL (in Wikipedia it's called the five Nationalist crack units, but I figure my name for them sounds cooler :D). I put Peng Dehuai in merely for the lulz. :p

Marc A
 

trekaddict

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These Division COs are approved. As of now, there's also a few air squadrons (can't remember exactly what off the top of my head).


Their Divisions are mostly Infantry, again, something I need to look up.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 348


As the rest of the 7th Armoured Division the 2nd Royal Scots Hussars were standing ready on the north of the Danube. Since the initial river crossing the 8th Army had bled to widen the bridgehead and now the big push north was about to begin.

However the 2nd RSH Battlegroup (the Regiment being joined by 1st Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles and the Battlegroup being named after the senior Regiment) had been given a special job and Colonel Niemczyk was currently with the Brigadier to try and find out again why his command was being sent on point of what he considered to be a fools errant that led them nowhere.


“Sir, all I would like to know is why the Division is being diverted.” Niemczyk asked again.

This time the Brigadier relented. He pulled out a map of northern Austria and pointed at a spot on the map. “That's why, Colonel.”

Niemczyk glanced at the map and saw an insignificant little down that was sitting right on the border between Germany and Austria.[1]

“And may I ask Sir what the significance of this town is?”

“In itself? None whatever.” the Brigadier said but before Niemczyk could say anything he went on: “None whatever except for who was born there.”

The Brigadier made the appropriate words and Niemczyk felt his eyebrows rise. “Bloody hell! Are we sure about this?”


The Brigadier nodded. “That we are, Colonel. I dislike political targets as much as the next man but here...”

“Oh I do agree, Sir. If anything it might discourage the Germans from sending anything against the ANZACs and the Canadians. Consider any complaints withdrawn, Brigadier.”

With that the Colonel nodded, saluted and left the barn/CP. Outside he quickly walked the half mile to where Battleaxe was parked in the near middle of the line that would form the vanguard of the 7th Armoured Division. Again.

“Anything new, Sir?” the loader asked. Outside the tank Niemczyk was “Sir” or “Colonel”, inside he was only known as “boss”.

“Something new indeed my lad.” he said in reply. He climbed up and filled in his crew.

Admittedly it was quite a distance from their current position and the 51st Highland Division would have to take Salzburg to make it all work but to take the town where the Austrian had been born was something that merited telling to one's children.

“Sergeant, our humble Regiment has been selected to make history.”

The groans coming from inside Battleaxe even as Niemczyk climbed through the hatch told him what his men thought of the idea.


Battleaxe being re-supplied.[2]

“Why us, Colonel?” his driver asked and the Colonel replied only with the Regimental motto. “Strike sure.”

That was all they needed. The Regiment had been through much, it had been in every action the Division had taken part in, and the motto, while inspired by Bomber Command befitted a Regiment that more often than not was the point of the brigade, if not even the Division or the Corps.


Three hours later the Regiment was moving. Colonel Niemczyk was forth in line, on the western-most road of the three the Regiment was advancing on. Speed was low as they had to let the accompanying Infantry of the Royal Irish Rangers to keep up.


Not that it mattered much. Less than three miles down the road the first resistance was encountered. This was not surprising, the attack was part of the general advance of the entire 8th Army out of the Bridgehead and the enemy was well aware of this.

Unlike in Italy however there was more than one way to go. The extreme western flank of the Allied Army (22nd Army Group, 5th and 6th Armies, the numbering being the result of an effort to confuse what passed for enemy intelligence gathering) would accompany the centre, and on the right flank of the 21st Army Group there would be movement.

The objective of this offensive was to push into Bavaria, in order to allow other Allied forces to take the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Field Marshal Alexander knew that knocking out a country that was little more than a German colony would do little on the front immediately but the forges and weapons factories of Skoda and the others would be far more useful for the Allies in their hands or at least denied to the enemy.

What he knew and the likes of the Cavalry Colonel didn't know was that London desired that the Czech half of the country be liberated soonest as there was a plan to install a local administration.

Alexander doubted that it would be that easy but he also knew that support for the Junta that ruled was far far less than what it had been and exploiting that would at the very least make things easier. Other forces would also attack into Bavaria from the region north of Vienna and Czechoslovakia that had already been occupied and the long-term strategic targets of 'Munich and Nuremberg' would surely fall eventually.

Little did the Field Marshal, or anyone on either side of the front for that matter know that Nuremberg would be the probably fiercest, brutal and most costly single battle of the war, to this day still a synonym for urban combat.[3]


~**---**~​


The 2nd Royal Scots Hussars had different things in mind while the above was going on. They had advanced less than three miles before the first shell bounced off Battleaxe's Armour, though the gun had been an old Pak36 that the Germans were mounting on half-tracks and the shot had been at a distance. What it told the British was that German mechanized Infantry was nearby.


When Achilles, two vehicles down suddenly exploded and high plumes of smoke were visible behind the line of trees where the Infantry was now engaging the Royal Irish they also knew that armour was present.

Sure enough; a group of seven Panthers came into view, and judging by the length of the barrels they carried they were sporting the newer, longer gun.

Niemczyk looked around and saw one of them, aiming his gun at Battleaxe.

“Target! Tank, at 11!”

“On target!”

“FIRE!”

The 17 pounder and the 75mm gun fired at the same time. The German shell merely took off the wireless antenna but the 17 pounder shell penetrated the frontal armour of the German tank under the driver's hatch, with predictable results.

Even before the Panther had stopped moving Battleaxe was looking for a new target.

Another three British and five German tanks were killed in this little engagement before the remaining Panthers and German Infantry withdrew.


The other column of the 2nd Royal Scots Hussars Battlegroup reported similar engagements. Major McCandless, commanding the other reported that they had taken a few prisoners and they had identified their units as the 11th Panzer and the 90th Panzergrenadier Division, known to once have been the 90th Light that had been with Rommel for years.

It told the Colonel that they were up against some of the best in Army Group Centre and that they had hit the extreme right of Rommel's Army Group.

Only partially true but close enough as it would turn out.

The 7th Armoured was luckily spared having to go into Salzburg. Resistance was minimal, mostly centred around the airbase and a few government buildings here and there but as any armoured unit the men of the Division weren't too comfortable with fighting in built up areas. True to it's Cavalry connections the Royal Armoured Corps preferred the ground as flat as possible.

Axis forces put up weak resistance resistance but ironically Rommel, in a misjudgement that would come to cost him dearly, misjudged the 8th Army's push as the main one and so played into Alexander's hands.

Against expectations Salzburg fell easily to the Allies, being only defended by a few companies of at best third-rate German reserve troops and with that the last significant Austrian city had fallen to the Allies. However as soon as the 8th Army crossed into Germany proper, an occasion that went unremarked upon in spite of later legend, restistance became incredibly fierce.

Not only had the Germans realized their mistake but also the 1st SS Army (five Divisions, of which two, the 2nd and 12th, were armoured) was very motivated for defence (in fact it would be these units that were crammed into Nuremberg when the 31st Army Group and parts of the future 34th and 35th Army Groups (both comprised of Indian Divisions with the exception of a composite Sino-Indian Infantry Division) besieged that town) but also reserve and generally unengaged units from the north and from France were beginning to move.

The Danube had failed to hold back the 'Anglo-Asiatic hordes' and now Germany was suddenly strapped for troops.


+-+-+-+-+-

Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?



[1] The Allies officially withdrew recognition of the Anschluss. To them Austria is an independent but Axis country and will be dealt with as such. That's a legal fiction of course but an important one for Allied propaganda.

[2] Actually unnamed Comet belonging to the 11th Armoured Divison.

[3] Think Stalingrad, only without the cold and with smarter leadership on the attacker's side.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Rommel is making too many mistakes. Even for him too much. His head is going to roll in any moment.