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Carnage al Dente

Chapter XII - Operation Barbarossa





Players: UK, USA/USSR, USSR, GER, ITA, JAP






Recap: After the fall of France, the United Kingdom have been all alone, fending off from several direction. They have lost the Pacific but held the Med and even captured ground. Now, it is time for Axis to shift their main focus from the United Kingdom to Soviet. It is time for Operation Barbarossa. United KIngdom is not as weak as Axis would have hoped, so this will unquestionably cause some bad news along the way. On the other hand, USA still seem pretty unintrested of the world war, thinking they can stand above it.


Edit: I just want to highlight that Zid posted an addendum to last chapter just before this one.














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December 3rd, 1940

Operation Barbarossa started the 1st of December 1940. To initiate a war in the beginning of the winter was far from optimal, but the Axis leaders felt that any surprise effect was already gone. Waiting any longer and Soviet would only get more time to prepare. Also, The United States of America seemed more and more inclined to be interested of the war and the Axis wanted to crush Soviet, or at least the bulk of the Red Army, before USA joined the Allies.

For the Italian Army Corps designated to help its fellow Axis this was something epic. To attack Soviet was grand beyond the imagination of the average Italian. Just to be able to tell the tale afterwards, to have been there, defeated the Great Bear… Now wouldn’t that be something to tell your children? The first battle was just a skirmish. The two motorized divisions caught up with a retreating infantry division and brought havoc to a company in the rear guard before the division retreated behind the river Dniester.














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December 10th, 1940

With their Romanian Allies taking neighboring lands, after rather short skirmishes as well, the Italians assembled in Bender and attacked over the river Dniester in force. They came two to one on the Red Army, but the Soviets were dug in behind the river and after the first few days, when the Italians had managed to get a bridgehead and pored over, the naval barrage started to make this tough offensive even tougher. This would not be an easy one. The Italians had, in fact, few of ‘easy ones’ after the battle of Spain.














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December 15th, 1940

Although they were fighting at great disadvantage, it was good help to be more numerous than the enemy and the minute they left just a little opening, there were an Italian there to take it. The Italians had now taken several bridgeheads and got a little breather as the naval bombardment had stopped for at least a while. The cold and the semi frozen and quite muddy ground made life awful – especially the front line troops who did their best to use captured houses and barns to shelter them from the worst when they had a few minutes to rest. Even though they had managed to push the Red Army back from mortar-range of the Dniester, the half frozen river still made it difficult to give the troops enough supply, and made and greater movements between the river and the Red Army dangerous.

The battle dragged on. The Red Army sent in reinforcements and the Italians got no land for free. This battle was not over yet.














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December 9th, 1940

With Barbarossa in progress, the Italian leadership felt that North Africa had played out its role. They worried over being spread too thin and decided to better leave Africa before the Brits probably would attack here anyway, with overwhelming supremacy.

The entire Regia Marina was out securing the route the transport task force had to sail. To avoid a disaster, half the land-force went in the first sortie.














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December 13th, 1940

The great German offensive is close to two weeks into progress. The bulk of their panzers are in the south. It is obviously here the heavies blow will fall while very little has happened in the far north.














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December 16th, 1940

In the far north however, the Fins were eager to avenge their previous loss in the winter war – with a second winter war. A few provinces have already been liberated, but north of Leningrad, the Red Army stands well dug in behind strong forts. It is not likely the Fins will come through here. Still, it is good Soviet is attacked from all directions.














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December 9th, 1940

It is still somewhat unclear what went down on the German West Coast in the beginning of December. The German and British fleet clashed in yet another battle. This time, however, the main bleeding did not come from the Brits. The Kriegsmarine lost several ships and fled to port. The Brits then followed up with an amphibious attack which the Germans could not repel quick enough. The battered Kriegsmarine had to chance out in the sea again when the port was taken and during another clash lost the main bulk of the entire fleet. Then, naval bombers finished the rest – more or less. It seems to have been a close to flawless operation from the Brits and the Germans, focusing on the east, were simply out-maneuvered.

Italian diplomats were not entire sure they got the full picture, but in any case, the major part of the Kriegsmarine was sunk. A major disaster! This means that the naval balance had been tilted to the benefit of the Royal Navy. That meant that bad news would soon fall onto the Regia Marina. The Italian leadership was happy they had started to empty North Africa (it actually happened the same day). It was time to prepare for defense.














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December 15th, 1940

Japan did not start any major offensive. Their victories in the Indian Ocean had somewhat drained their operational strength in the Far East. Still, their bite was sharp enough. Vladivostok was weakly defended and fell. None other Soviet troops were found in the Vladivostok area. The Soviet leadership gave the capitol of the East away.

In the north, the Japs made an amphibious landing and scared the hell out of a few Red Army divisions who quickly retreated. It seemed like Soviet had made sure no units, except a garrison, would be captured by the rampaging Japs.














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December 18th-19th, 1940

The Italians initiated their second and final run to pick up the majority of the troops in North Africa. As the naval operation started to unfold it seemed a British operation started just at the same moment. Their troops in Tobruk area started to move and just south of Malta, British troops landed on Italian soil.

The Brits could have the land – the Italians wanted their troops. The British navy, however, intercepted the Regia Marina before they could start. A huge naval battle started. Just as before, the Italian task force was plagued by British Swordfish planes but managed to scramble their own fighters. Nevertheless, most Italian ships were hit in one way or the other. A short gun-battle erupted when Regia Marina caught up with the heavier parts of the British Task force, and the Devonshire and Rodney was sunk without further ado. After that, the Italian task force was so battered by CAGs that they pulled out, losing a light cruiser in the process.

Another British task force moved in to cut the retreating Italians of but met a second Italian group of ships, guarding the rear. This was a weaker Italian formation, consisting of older ships, and they got badly battered during the confrontation. The old World War One battleship Guilio Cesare was sunk among some light cruisers. The Royal Navy and the Regia Marina kept sinking each other’s battleships at an even pace.

The Regia Marina fled back to port. The last troops had not been rescued, but the Brits never hit the weak transport task force. All-in-all, it was a British victory, although not a great one. As the Brits pulled back, they were harassed by Italian naval bomber and two light cruisers were damaged. The Italians did not lose anything more, but the Brits would prowl the Med unchecked the next few weeks.














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December 20th, 1940

With the Regia Marina gone, the few remaining Italian troops in North Africa were doomed. They mostly consisted of militias and cavalry and they could not do much against British tanks and motorized regular infantry. They made some kind of stand, and if Axis would win this war, it would be called a “brave” stand even if that was seldom the case.














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December 26th, 1940

The Italian perimeter was crushed within a week and only the battle of Benghazi would last until the first days of the New Year. After that, North Africa belonged to United Kingdom.





...........

Bloody battles left, right and center. In next chapter we will have more news from Barbarossa, a little report from the convoy war and a new, surprising operation from the Brits
 
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This looks bad, but not tragic. Losing some militia and cavalry won't kill you. Losing ships, on the other hand, always hurt when you are playing Italy, but the RM still can bite and from now on you will mostly be on the defensive in the Med, anyway. I hope that you manage to secure Sicily and Sardinia, though. The British should be delayed as long as possible and if they get Sardinia or Sicily, there will be able to provide fighter cover for their ships, land troops and bombers all over Italy. Still, it's better if the British are focused on Italy than on Germany, as German MP is more precious.

The most worrying thing is that now the British will be able to focus their full naval might on the RM and the IJN, which means that good times are over for the Axis naval-wise. In Russia, everything is still possible, though.
 
Hi Sir Henry here, playing the Russian Bear this time, wanted so put in some comments about the strength and size of the Red Army now that Barbarossa has been initiated. It is true that I have had a long time to prepare for this and thought that I had a nice setup shortly before the war. However, both Romania and Hungary joined the Axis side which meant that I had to spread out my troops all the way from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea and beyond. Even for I giant like Russia, that is a long way. The engaging enemy consists of Germany, Japan, Italy, Romania and Hungary. I was lucky to have some assistance from Maxboy in the absence of Jonas, handled the Asian front and some administrative issues. When Germany attacked, he came on very hard in fierce spearheads that was very difficult to stop. I had previously closed the Bosporus so I was not worried of amphibious attack at the start of the war. I was hoping that the brutal Russian winter should assist me in the defense of the motherland, but more of that in the next chapter.
 
Losses were inevitable for the RM, but if those divisions are saved, you've got a healthy chance of holding Italia. Right now, with Italy's forces so condensed (relatively speaking), I can't help but feel that you're in a very strong position for Britain alone to try and handle. When the US gets involved, on the other hand...we'll see.
 
Interesting reads again on Sunday prime time ;) :D

Thanks Zid, Captain and Sir Henry for these updates!

Zids killing of the Kriegsmarine was a brilliant move! And it was careless by GER to not properly defend crucial ports/ main bases of the KM in France + not having a quick response force in the West.
They got what they deserved.
(losing the King George V was bad luck and nothing more though - probably due to the upped "critical hit" chance for BBs in FTM 3.05)

I wonder what the Axis plan is? Captain has not been very informative on what he builds etc. - and no intersting units could be spotted in action so far. I really hope there are some hidden aces up his sleeve coming up...
I wonder why ITA is keeping all these Militia and CAV units though? They are next to worthless vs. human opponents with tanks in late 1940 and a waste of precious manpower.

I absolutely agree with Cybweb on the strategic value of the Italian islands in the defence of ITA. But if we are talking about Axis beeing on the defense in 1940 allready, something has allready turned the wrong way.

So far Axis has stumbled about unfocused and:
1. failed to grab Gibraltar,
2. failed to close Suez and apparently gave up on both accounts,
3. and lost the entire KM even prior to a US war entry and
4. and JAP can't even handle the RN alone.
(@Cybweb - in the case of JAP it can't be merely blamed on bad luck as the IJN continuously proved its inabilities through numerous engagements.)

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My conclusion:
Axis will lose this war (this Carnage round). I'll take bets for a beer with anyone who's willing to come by to Berlin ;)

JAPs neck (in the form of the IJN) will be broken as soon as the US joins the war - the US player will then have had ample time to prepare the USN for this and with Sealion out of te picture ENG could even send a strong RN task force to the middle/far east in support of the US.

Axis weak spot on Barbarossa is the entire southern flank, so far appart from a single ITA corps there are only AI (Romania and Hungary - yay the will sure kick ass vs a human Russian... :rolleyes:) forces on the Southern front. This might open up opportunities for cheap counter attacks.
(At least RUS can focus his best troops on Center and North of the front so far.)

Once ENG has cleared out Northern Africa it might even consider to kick some butt in Spain to open up a second front and take pressure of the Russian.
ITA will not enjoy the attention of all the armor ENG has moving about.
 
Correction - it is Italy which is on the defensive, not the whole Axis. It is also almost 1941.

I think that we are still months away from the USA joining the war, so that shouldn't be the main problem. The main problem is Russia and here the Axis has a chance to kick their butts, because they can attack from many sides and the Soviets have to cover a lot of territory. Even AI-controlled armies can be problematic if they are supported by troops controlled by human opponents. This is especially true when we consider the fact that the AI tends to stick better to the allied objectives in FTM than in SF.
 
You guys are the best. I love the way the reports are coming in from all sides. If the Axis wants to win the war, Russia must be defeated ASAP. If the bear falls quickly, perhaps the German player can prepare some semblance of a navy to put up a fight against the combined allied fleets.
 
The war at sea is not yet won by the RN, although they have dealt a blow to the Axis. Any chance to get a summary of sunken ships until now?
 
You guys are the best.

I second that.

Probably a clever move, pulling out of Africa with Italy. With neither Gibraltar or Suez closed and Malta on allied hands (iirc) I guess the troops in North Africa will do way better defending the Italian homeland.

I'd have loved to see some screenies of the battle in Bay of Biscay, but I guess everyone was too buys waging war to take pictures.

What are you guys' policy on pausing to micro managing stuff? I guess Germany could've used some of that to mind the Atlantic operations while fighting on the East Front. Very hard to keep your eyes on a large scale thing in the East while things turn critical at sea.
 
Nice update there, loosing the KM must have felt sore for the German player!

Just looking back through the decision to play passive in the med, did you guys ever discuss sending 2 strong German panzer divisions to Italy to press the UK? Hindsight is always 20-20 but it feels like some small adjustments like that, plus repeated attacks on Gibraltar when possible could have carried the day.

\_o_O_/
 
Go on the Allies!

The British player played well and has kept the Allies within a good shout. :)
 
Brilliant stroke by the British! Surely the ASW squads will feel safer and hunt more aggressively from this point on. Spain might eventually become a liability for Axis, with the Allies able to conduct minor offensives from the safe haven in Gibraltar.

Still, I would certainly not call this game for the Allies yet. Remember Germany defeated France very skillfully and has had many months to focus on the stroke against the Soviet Union. And despite the UK's excellent play, those many months of convoy raiding have to have damaged UK's ability to construct the same type of dangerous land forces we saw from the Captain as UK last game. And a concentrated Italy will be much better able to resist any landings without requiring German help and sapping the drive to Moscow.

As usual, I think it all comes down to the ability of the Soviets to resist a powerful German advance. My money is still on the Axis if the US doesn't get involved very soon.
 
(Main) German player from this game reporting.

First of all, thanks Zid for detailed reports. Nice to see our clashes documented in the enemies archives as well :)

The loss of the KM High Sea Fleet was obviously a great blow to our naval ambitions. However, it was an early strategic decision by the Axis HQ to play it as an offensive card. Among the reasons was the conviction that the force was expendable. This meant that it should inflict any damage it could on the RN, but that the loss of it would not be crucial to the outcome of the war. At least it got to sink quite a few ships before transforming into The Great Bismarck Reef...

There were also some comments about the German activity, or lack of it. Obviously, the delayed Barbarossa bears part of the blaim. Another reason is the initial focus on the West - Gibraltar, convoy raiding and air missions over the British Islands.

As for supporting Italians, this was done (in strength) in the Gibraltar campaign, which was called off for reasons stated earlier.

Regarding pausing the game, this is very rare. So some moments are quite stressful for the multi theater nations. Well, I guess that is the price you pay for global ambitions :)
 
...And despite the UK's excellent play, those many months of convoy raiding have to have damaged UK's ability to construct the same type of dangerous land forces we saw from the Captain as UK last game.

This is why the Brittany landing surprises me so much, I can't imagine that with all the British Naval & Convoy losses the Axis have been reporting, that enough ground troops have been produced to make that anything more than an annoying raid that will quickly be crushed.

Perhaps the Italians missed a chance to launch a sneak attack on the Suez when the British player was distracted by the assault on Gibraltar, but we don't know what percentage of Italy's available offensive forces were committed to that attack. Failing that I second the opinion that an Afrika Korps might have come in very handy this game.
 
The Italians initiated their second and final run to pick up the majority of the troops in North Africa. As the naval operation started to unfold it seemed a British operation started just at the same moment. Their troops in Tobruk area started to move and just south of Malta, British troops landed on Italian soil.

The Brits could have the land – the Italians wanted their troops. The British navy, however, intercepted the Regia Marina before they could start. A huge naval battle started. Just as before, the Italian task force was plagued by British Swordfish planes but managed to scramble their own fighters. Nevertheless, most Italian ships were hit in one way or the other. A short gun-battle erupted when Regia Marina caught up with the heavier parts of the British Task force, and the Devonshire and Rodney was sunk without further ado. After that, the Italian task force was so battered by CAGs that they pulled out, losing a light cruiser in the process.


Were there only 1 Italian Fleet or multiple fleets engaging the UK one? As I can see, the Brits managed to put in only one fleet of 7 ships, thus having almost no hull penalty and maximizing their positionning during the battle. Was it the same for Italy? Can you give some details Cpt Easy or they are still classified? Did your combo of INT/NAV + ships performed as expected?
 
Addendum to Chapter XII - Operation Barbarossa
Operation Needle, Sledgehammer and Broom

When the UK HQ heard about Germany´s attack on USSR, they immediately launched operation Needle. It consisted of the invasion of the Breton Penninsula, and the attack on the Garrison guarding Brest. Airial reconnaissance showed that the garrison was isolated. Two motorised divisions attack from north and two from the south. They invaded the unguarded Breton penninsula and then attacked Brest. The troop transports retreated from the cost, and as Churchill had hoped, Hitler sent the Kriegsmarine. KM Bismarck and KM Tirpitz with some CA and screening ships were spotted westbound in the channel.

This time, the RAF had the upper hand, and the Luftwaffe were busy with operation Barbarossa. The first skirmish was a small brittish win, sinking the KM Köln and some destroyers. However, the Admiral in charge of the fleet did not know the dire situation of the Brest defenders, and so retreated into Brest harbour- within reach of all of UK air-to sea assets.
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During several hours, CAGs and NAVs attacked Brest non stop. And then came the next disaster. Brest defenders could not hold back the brittish any longer, and the battered ships had to go out to sea once more, meeting a fresh RN taskforce. Yet more ships were lost, and then the last ships, including the two battleships retreated into Lorient. RAF forces were still too numerous, and all remaning ships were sunk in harbour.

Authours note: I did NOT expect this success. The KM Bismarck did surprisingly not show up on losses, but Daphne has confirmed it was destroyed. During the heat of battle I am unsure exactly what the KM fleet consisted of, except for Bismarck and Tirpitz. Perhaps Daphne remembers?


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Afterwards, the invasion troops quickly retreated, taking many german POWs with them. German Panzers were approaching, and holding Brest indefinately would be impossible.

Operation Needle, pricking the Germans and annoying them during the beginning of operations Barbarossa, and operation Sledgehammer- attacking the KM was a great success. Now operation Broom, sweeping the Italians out of Africa, could begin.

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During all this time, the brave few left to defend India faced a flood of Nationalist Chinese troops welling in over Indias borders. Knowing that they would be overwhelmed if they stayed in place, they choose to retreat, but when the chance came to attack the flank of the Chinese, they took it. With only a handful of troops, they are just a single province from cutting off the offensive into India.

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Africa had been left in peace for a few months. UK Admirals had hoped that attacking the supply convoys to and from Libya would damage the Italian economy, but the convoys were hard to find, and almost all subs had been diverted against Japan. It started with an invasion against an undefended Tripoli, together with a push from Tobruk westwards. Almost no land resistance was met, but several clashed between the RM and the RN ended in equal losses, but the RM retreated from their attempts to rescue their troops.

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Had it not been night during this battle, the RM losses might have been much worse.

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Cleanup of the last Italians. The French expeditionary force was more than happy to attack the Italians.

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Operation Broom complete!

With the threat of the KM gone for the time being, and the need for troops in Africa now gone, Operation Pliers was put into action. It would be the UKs most offensive action yet during the war.

Author´s note: So, CptEasy had actually withdrawn haft his troops already. I was curious that there were so few troops. I must say I accicentaly chose a very lucky time to attack- half the troops already gone made the African campaign very easy.
 
The Operation Sledghammer was surely very annoying. Still, I think that we all agree that the German Navy is expendable, so it's not a big deal for the Germans, but it gives the British some breathing room.

I'm wondering what are Cpt's plans concerning the defence of Italy. Sicily and Sardinia are usually easy to take in MP, but since the RM still exists and Italy will have perfect air cover, I think that Italy should defend these areas heavily. As long as the British are fighting the Italians and not the Germans, it's a beneficial situation for the Axis. Germany is the hard-hitter here and their MP is the most precious one.