Combined Aarms, with the British Empire during the second world war.

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Combined AARms, with the British Empire during the second world war.


This is my first AAR. I have nearly started several times, but there has always been a 'good' excuse not to. (truth be told there still are)

There are several challenges when making an AAR. For me there is always the language bit. I am multilingual as long as I get to talk, written I am hardly bilingual illiterate. Another issue is that I am a Luddite. When I manage to watch a British panel show on you tube it is par with the moon landing. Add to this a mediocre imagination and a distinctly average storytelling ability and you see the challenge before me.

I am in no way bothered by OCD so there is virtually no plan that I follow. I will aim to win the war and to have some fun along the way.

A few words on style.
I will tell the events through Stuart Muir working at the "Planning Committee" at the war office. Stuart is the father of Alexander Muir whom I intended to be the main character. A young tankie in the 5th Batallion Royal Tank Corps. However I have to learn a shedload of stuff before I can "give a view from the turret" from this young soldier. So the interesting bits regarding combined arms warfare, manouvre warfare and things that I actually DO know anything about is some way off in the future.

As it stands I am grappling with using Paint.net and Gimp 2 to get the graphics that I want. It is a learning process... For the technincally challenged. At any rate this prompted Stuart Muir to become the focal point of the AAR. I have decided to let the story develop play. I have no plans at all. I sit down play one month take a note of everything that happen, try to spin on the events and find something noteworthy. Then I muck about looking for pictures whilst listening to music. Then I write things out on Word and try to link them together through the characters I have got (or make up new as I go along). I tend to look at historical figures on the net and see what they did or didn't do in the era, and let my characters be influenced by that. Then I try to make a coherent story of the 'episode' and join it with the last. All is magically put together on the forum


I originally wanted to use the AAR to promote manouvre warfare and be philosophical about the grey area between beeing gamey and manouvre warfare. Having accepted the limit of my abilities and the colossal challenge it is just to get an AAR started I decided on less. I hope that I will be able to convey a few interesting points on combined arms warfare at a later date. God knows I have had to learn a few things just to sit here and type. The marvels of Photobucket and picture programs was interesting and I felt that I was going places. THEN robw963 dropped America saves the world! and I realised what good graphics was.

Right then let's look at the game....

Version: Hearts of Iron 3 Their Finest Hour 4.01
Nation: UK

1938​
September: One Bluff, Two Wars, Three Trade Delegations.
October: The Auld Alliance
November: Gaining weight, running late
 
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September 1938: One Bluff, Two Wars, Three Trade Delegations.

A light drizzle hit the window of the office. The water flowed down the window making patterns as it hit patches of dirt. Contracting into rapid streams between grime made by the traffic in the street below, then spreading out again as it reached a clean area. If Stuart had looked at the window it would no doubt have reminded him of the 'expanding torrent' theory. Instead Muir was updating his diary, trying to make sense of the developments in the far east.

September. The month began promising with the House of Commons taking firm action on meeting the need for more raw materials for our industry. President of the Board of Trade, Oliver Stanley, made the necessary arrangements to finance the deal with the USSR for 50 energy for £ 1,88 by selling 20 supplies for £ 3,75 with the USA. A profit of £ 1,87. It is such audacious thinking that will strengthen the empire.

On the 1st Xibei San Ma gave Nationalist China military access. One has to wonder why. I have had a look at the map, and there could be a possibility of a sneak attack through the backdoor. The mere threat of such a sneak attack is equally effective. The Empire of Japan has to figure out whether there is a real threat of attack or if it is just a hoax. Either way the diplomatic action has put the Japanese at the horns of a dilemma. This issue is something we have discussed at great length in the planning committee. If Chinese history is anything to go by, we must be mindful of Sun Tzu's children.

Acess.jpg

What are the Nationalists up to?

On the 8th Oliver Stanley struck again. A new trade delegation went to Moscow. 50 metal for £ 3,66. Again this was balanced by selling another 20 supplies to the USA for £ 3,66. This mean that we have enough raw materials to get our industry running at maximum.

In late afternoon on the 8th we held a brief for the PM. The Spanish Civil war and the war between Nationalist China and the Empire of Japan was the agenda of the brief. Two wars on the doorstep of our empire is not a desirable situation. The PM is worried about what ifs. He is not interested in getting dragged into conflicts unless there is a real reason for it. Messrs Hitler and Mussolini have dispatched expeditionary forces to Spain, but they are both in the northern part of the Iberian peninsula. If they come too close for comfort with regards to Gibraltar there will be a diplomatic incident. In the far east we play things a lot more smoothly. The Empire of Japan has a sizable navy and given the unstable situation in Europe we don't want to divert our Naval assets milling about in the Pacific. The PM was pleased with the update, and wanted a monthly update on the two wars. I think the public are too harsh on the old man. He just want to keep the Empire out of trouble, but many see him as a bit of a wimp.

9th of September.

Herr Hitler has pulled off what seems to be the biggest bluff in a long time. He has bullied the French and ourselves into giving the Sudetenland back to the Reich. Having looked at the readiness reports from MI6, the Germans have not even mobilised their reserves. The PM is rather calm about it all. Later in the month he called a meeting in the planning committee where he pointed out that we have no formal agreements with the French regarding a Coalition Army, and that the Germans would be able to mobilise and deploy their reserve formations a good two weeks before the French and we would need an extra month.

Munich.jpg

One good thing that came out of the debacle was a revision of the defence policy. In the House of Commons it was decided that we would raise an extra Home Army. 20 Divisions in all, 10 Armoured, 10 Mechanised. They will be TA units, but I still count this as a great day for the MoD. 11th of September will be a date to remember.

HomeArmy.jpg

Our 21st Army group is to get a new army. Good news

I had a week off and joined Lord Duncan for the glorious twelfth, albeit a month late. The bugger got a brace before I had as much as spotted a bird. In the weekend Lady Duncan arranged a lovely party and Moira and I had a lovely time. A lot of old Black Watch veterans were invited as well, it turned out to be a nice session. We were quite refreshed upon our return to London.

The Planning Committee was charged with the issue of raising a new BEF, and we are split on the issue. A look at the intelligence rapports from MI6 suggest that we can counter the Italians and Germans at sea provided the Japanese keep calm. We need to show strength, but that is hard given the enormous front line we have. In the end we reported back that if we recruited the new army in one go we could facilitate a limited BEF. There still is a worry about the reduced, but modern, Royal Navy and it's many commitments. Herr Hitlers antics in the Sudetenland has given the House of Commons a proper jolt. They voted for a change in our economic laws. We are now operating with War Economy. Minister for Co-ordination of Defence Lord Chatfield announced that with the changes we should be able to recruit the new army in one go.

japintel.jpg

The Empire of Japan is building up it's naval assets


itallianintel.jpg

The Italians are building up their battlefleets


germanintel.jpg

The Germans have some interesting developments


As a result of our industrial surge Stanley was ordered to scrounge up more supplies for our new expanded industry. On the 19th we got 50 energy for £ 1,78 from the USSR and 50 metal for £ 3,57 from the USA. The Nationalist Spain government gave us £ 2,11 for 14,05 rares.

The PM was as good as his word and on the last day of the month he called on the select group of the Planning Committee for the end of month update.
The Empire of Japan has made several thrusts into Nationalist China. Nothing severe though since the Chinese have closed down a salient in the lines as well.

Jap-Nat1938sept.jpg

Red arrows Japanese advances, green arrows Chinese advances

The Spanish civil war is much like a pubfight. The Republicans have made the most ground, but the Nationalists have captured the important ground. Namely Madrid.

civilwarsept1938.jpg

Republican thrusts in green arrows, Nationalist in red.


It is too early to call any of the conflicts. I am relieved at the PM taking an active interest in the current conflicts and delegating missions to the various departments. Also appointing Lord Chatfield as the new Minister for Co-ordination of Defence was a great boost. The former minister Sir Thomas Inskip was timid to say the least. A famous remark was "This is the most cynical appointment since Caligula made his horse a consul". With Herr Hitler doing his best to break the peace in Europe there is no reason as to have mild ministers. Lord Chatfield doesn't muck about and I am looking forward to working with him.
 

shierholzer

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Your opening picture is really funny!
And your first post equally well written :).
--
Just two short suggestions:
As UK, you're normally supposed to sell some of your rares, to end up buying energy/metal/crude/supplies, CGM'ed you and build up your industry, or any other reasons for letting this pass?
You might write AARms in the title, since it's looking more of an typo right know (if you aren't able to change the title, you might ask a mod to do this) ;).
 

shierholzer

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Your opening picture is really funny!
And your first post equally well written :).
--
Just two short suggestions:
As UK, you're normally supposed to sell some of your rares, to end up buying energy/metal/crude/supplies, CGM'ed you and build up your industry, or any other reasons for letting this pass?
You might write AARms in the title, since it's looking more of an typo right know (if you aren't able to change the title, you might ask a mod to do this) ;).
 

unmerged(174081)

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Your opening picture is really funny!
And your first post equally well written :).
--
Just two short suggestions:
As UK, you're normally supposed to sell some of your rares, to end up buying energy/metal/crude/supplies, CGM'ed you and build up your industry, or any other reasons for letting this pass?
You might write AARms in the title, since it's looking more of an typo right know (if you aren't able to change the title, you might ask a mod to do this) ;).

Cheers, I'll look into the AARms :)
 

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The Auld Alliance

The office was spacious and lavishly furnished, but it did not help the fact that Egypt in October is pretty hot. Stuart cursed the flies annoying him and doubly cursed his own sweat stains ruining his diary.

October.

The month started with a debate over the need for an increase in developing new technology. The PMs closest men have pushed hard for the diplomacy first line. John Simon and Samuel Hoare wants Britain to forge a strong alliance to secure the peace in Europe. Hoare went on to argue that if the alliance was big and strong enough Messrs Hitler and Mussolini would not dare take action.

Funny, the last time someone came up with that EXACT idea I ended up in a ditch in Flanders seeing my company of Black Watch being shelled, gassed, shot and stabbed to death.

The Labour MP Attlee was rather polite about it in his reply, Churchill was less than kind. His oratory skills had the House of Commons roaring with laughter. Churchill is a staunch defender of the stronger line we have adopted. He is, however, headstrong and set in his old ways. He is a great speaker and brilliant to have shouting at people. I don't see him as a statesman though.

The debate ended with the PM supporting the Select Committees proposal to increase our efforts in researching our industries. Admitting defeat John Simon pointed out the dangers of neglecting our intelligence services before taking his seat. He does have a point, we have spent a lot of men and money on building up the various MI branches and it would be sheer madness to neglect it now.

On the 3rd Lord Chatfield held a brief on the issue of forming a new BEF. He had decided that I was to take Wing Cdr. Johnny Rhodes and go to France and see what the French need from us. I was a bit surprised at that, surely this would be the job for Etonian Lord Brunswick who run the Intel section in the Planning Committee? I know french but I am no diplomat. Still Johnny Rhodes is a lovely chap and we get on like a house on fire. He is absolutely first class on tactical air war. He was, and still is, one of the boffins of the air section at the Combined Arms Staff College. With my experience from the Black Watch and the Royal Tank Corps we should have enough knowledge between us to determine what the Frenchies need.

We arrived in Sarreguemines on the 4th and were to meet General Fer de Lance *
A charming chap, very french, but clearly operation under strict instructions. The French High Command had a few clear ideas. Basically they wanted full control of our forces. These forces should be around 400,000 men.... bayonet strength ! Another issue was how the Britishers intended to learn their soldiers french. Business as usual.

FerdeLance_zpse1d1a424.jpg
Maj.Gen Fer de Lance, nice chap very french.​

We spent the next day touring the front line and study Fer de Lances maps. We were stunned. The French had no less than 17 divisions on the border. On the other side of the hill barely a sausage.

FrontlineFrance_zpsa3540ac0.jpg

Where the devil is Fritz?

On the morning of the 6th I went for a chat with the good general and my french contained a few words that I didn't learn at Edinburgh Academy. 400,000 bayonet strength my foot, they have all the manpower they need. Johnny flew us to Paris where we met up with the MI6 to have a proper look at the French situation. We were met with a charming chap called Holden. He put us right in the picture. The French economy is in the gutter, national unity is at an all time low and the scars from the last war are still fresh with the public. Their pride is pretty much all they have left.

Frenchintel_zps77ab6073.jpg

Something is rotten in the French Republic

Holden hinted that we might offer an olive branch to our 'auld' ally. Holden really is a perfect gentleman and his people skills are first class. Whe had a smashing session in Paris and left for Fer de Lance on the morrow. I had a proper heart to heart chat with the general. I spoke of my experience in the Great War. The early years in the 153rd brigade with the Black Watch, being injured during the battle for Arras and joining the Royal Tank Corps after recovering. I apologised for my earlier outburst and suggested (like Holden had suggested) that we might look at grand strategy first and then make specific recommendations to our political masters. Fer de Lance agreed.

On the 8th Admiral A.B. Cunningham took a leaf out of MI6s book by mounting an audacious raid in Spain. Under the guise of naval manouvres he took his ASW 2 group down to the coast outside Santander and Bilbao. During the night he sent shore parties in motor launches to find out about the German and Italian formations present. Operation Out of Step was a resounding success. The Italians have both regular and motor infantry in Santander, whilst he Germans have landed Armour in Bilbao.

Operationoutofstep_zpscc190b47.jpg

The Navy is here !

On the 11th we briefed the PM regarding our findings in France. We recommended that we increase our training regime since there appear to be no rush in getting troops to France. The PM agreed and duly noted Holdens efforts in the affair. I suspect that he will make station chief before long.

On the 13th The House of Commons passed the new training bill. We have now enacted specialist training for our armed forces. This has opened up for many dormant ideas from the time of the Experimental Mechanised Force, such as using cartoons to spice up the training manuals.

trainingmanual_zps065c25de.jpg

More lively training manuals.

Most importantly is the increase in skill for our soldiers. By enacting specialist training we are giving the TA chaps more trigger time.

mortars_zpsf08027bc.jpg

The Somerset Light Infantry conducting live mortar training

On the 20th I had a meeting with Fer de Lance. I told him that we were taking a look at all theaters and would make a decision afterwards. I confided in him that we would take the heavy lifting on the seas and that we already had a powerful regular army in North Africa. My son Alexander is a coy commander with the 5th Royal Tanks. Fer de Lance was grateful for the information and being a lot better at diplomacy than me he will probably convey the message in a proper fashion.

On the 25th the Nationalist Spanish got military access through Portugal. Why ?!? I remember the day for other reasons. We set sail for Egypt. The PM has some official duty down there, Johnny and I are to have look at the theater forces with regards to our pending commitments in France. We got to travel with Admiral Cunninghams ship HMS Tartar, a Tribal class destroyer.

MooredTartar_zpsfd8e5fdf.jpg

HMS Tartar

The Tribal class has undergone a lot of improvements. It's ASW and AA capabilities have been greatly improved. Cunningham demonstrated the AA batteries on balloons.

HMS_Tartar_aa_guns_zpsee220829.jpg

It makes a bloody racket !

On the 26th Oliver Stanley accepted a trade envoy from France. We got £ 0,25 for 0,51 crude oil. According to Stanley that is diplo-speak for 'we accept your offers to co-operate'

On the morning of the 28th we moored in Egypt. The Tribals have done over 30 knots and brought us here in three days ! I spent the next days preparing the end of moth updates for the PM. The end of month update was held in GHQ Middle East Theater.

The Republican Spain forces are pushing the Nationalists back, but they have failed to capture Madrid.

Civilwar_zps2b480f24.jpg

Green line end of October, blue line end of September, red line start of September

The Empire of Japan is gobbling up Nationalist China at an alarming rate. Their shore landings in the south have been thrown into the sea, but inland they have caused the Nationalist a general retreat. It that become a rout they will be on our doorstep by Christmas.

JapanChina_zps41c42320.jpg

Same colour code as the Civil war. Scary stuff.


* I have taken the french name from a spaceship off the game ELITE. Christ I am old.....
 
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Gaining weight, running late.

November 1938, Egypt.

Johnny Rhodes and myself have been shanghaied into yet another special mission. The PM along with Chatfield have decided that the military situation in Asia needs closer scrutiny. Who better to send than the blokes who insulted half of France only to be saved by a junior operative of the MI6? The situation is of a delicate nature so Andrew Browne Cunningham (ABC to his friends) is the obvious choice to represent the naval part. I am chuffed to bits to be honest. ABC and Johnny are the sort of men who remind you of what a terrific lot the men in the services really are.

2 ASW (ABCs command) is waiting for two new destroyers to bring the unit up to strength. The new Battle class destroyers, HMS Armada and HMS Barfleur, are being sent down from England. ABC ever the pragmatic suggested that we meet them in Malta since it is an important location of the Med. theatre.

On the 1st of November Yunnan gave Nationalist China military access. This is interesting, if the smaller nations in Asia throw it's lot in with Nationalist China they can give the Japanese a run for their money. MI6 has targeted Nationalist China, Yunnan, Guanxi Clique and Xibei San Ma for increased intelligence gathering.

On the 3rd Yunnan gave the Guanxi Clique military access. The spirits were raised in the Planning Committee.

On the 4th we set sail for Malta. ABC said he would transfer his command to the HMS Armada when we came to Malta. Knowing the Dublin borne pirate, I sensed something else was forming in his mind... On a personal note I have grown quite fond of sea travel. Comfortable beds, good grub and fresh air. Our young sailors really are second to none, day or night the young men discharge their service with careful attention to detail.

Malta.
This was my first trip to Malta, but I hope not the last. The climate was lovely. Warm, but being an island the fair breeze made it quite comfortable, and the scenery looked like something from a movie set. In the Harbour the HMS Armada lay like a great swan I am no sailor but it looks great. The Tribal Class was great, but the new Battle class seems to have made new strides forward.


HMSArmada.jpg

ABC's new ship the HMS Armada in Malta Harbour.

I was right about ABC. His plan to confirm the seatrials is a sightseeing tour of the Libyan coast so we can get a better view of what the Ities are doing. The governor threw a party for us, plenty of fat cats about. Feeling like a fish on land I was relieved when John Cunningham, the commander of Task Force 97 stationed in Malta, came to chat about the status in the Med. Johnny had the time of his life hammering on a piano and impressing the local crumpets.

On the 7th our tour of Libya started. My previous reservation against such a provoking trip had completely gone. ABC's the devil may care attitude is highly infectious. Around Tripoli we found a mixture of colonial troops and motorised units. In all 2 motorised and 2-3 colonial units were put down in our estimate.


Tripoli.jpg

Sightseeing the Libyan riviera, Navy Style


In Benghazi we saw only colonial garrisons, but the people in our operation centre detected radio traffic further inland that belonged to a motorised unit. Around Tobruk the airwaves were full. A large Corps size exercise was taking place. We all crammed in the operation centre to listen to the action. The intelligence officer commented that they had difficulties in supplying their motorised corps with fuel and ammo.


Tobruk.jpg

Tobruk is buzzing with activity


On the 8th Nationalist Spain ended the trade agreement of 29th September. MI6 is at an loss to explain it. Have Nat Spain enough of the resource, or have they spent all their gold reserve? MI6 decided against an intelligence operation in Spain. Given the strain put on the conflict with operation Out of Step, Messrs Hitler and Mussolini have questioned our neutrality.

16 November, Hong Kong.
ABC is pleased with the high speed cruising of the new Battle destroyers. The rest of ASW 2 have either milled about in the Med or returned to Plymouth. 'Drives the other lot nuts' is ABCs stock answer to questions as to wethertos or whyfores. Barfleur and Armada have raced to Hong Kong so that we can have a look at the recent developments in the Far East.

The Governor gave us a Kings welcome. Since we withdrew the local garrison and let the Hong Kong Constabulary take care of security in the colony, the Governor has felt a bit abandoned. Being visited by the two most modern vessels of the Royal Navy has obviously done a lot to boost the morale to the locals.

If I have to do another banquet I'll look like a portly civil servant rather than an old dour Scotsman. The Governor threw a big party and we got to meet a lot of the big men in the financial sector. Having tried, and found most welcome, Australian red wine I received a red hot tip to invest in the French National Engineering Corporation of Indo-China. What utter arse of the highest order. Young Rhodes had found a piano ditto the swooning young damsels. During a popular tune that was played so vigorously that it attained the attention of the entire party, I was able to extract from the battlezone and made a dash for the HMS Armadas motor launch.

Before dawn on the 18th we were well underway to the South Straight of Taiwan. The Crew of HMS Armada had been augmented by Fredrick Beagrie from the MI6. His skills in languages would help us gauge the situation on land. I happen to know that Beagrie is the controller of the intelligence network set up in Nationalist China. He could not partake in field work because he has a heart condition. He seemed pleased like punch to be part of the outfit. We continued up to Hangzhou bay.


beachead.jpg

First to the Beachead north of Hong Kong



Northbeachead.jpg

Some regular units are moving in the area north of the Beachead


Huangzho.jpg

The Nationalists are fleeing from a modern motor unit


Beagrie was pleasantly surprised at the spacious operation centre of the destroyer. The Radio equipment and RADAR was beyond what he was used too. Good Lord, are the secret services beeing neglected?

All in all it seemed to us as if Nationalist China was far from finished, they still had a proper army in the field. This made Beagrie absolutely livid. He said that there is more to warfare than having mass on the field of battle. He went on to discuss the importance of certain hubs of communication and civil government. 'Victory points' he called them, without them National China would loose the control of their army and their people. The Empire of Japan is going for the kill was his message. He included a few maps to explain the situation and implored that we bring the info further up the system.

On the 20th the French terminated the trade agreement of 26th of October. Thanks to the Anglo-Iranian oil company they now have an acceptable crude reserve. On the same day we set sail for Blighty with stops in Singapore and Egypt.

The Planning Committee has a great task ahead with regards to the appraisal of the military situation. I reported to CHatfield in person, and we agreed on a few weeks extra to deliberate the report.

On the 30th we held our monthly update. I was distressed to see the PM look so tired. He was alert as always and asked good questions, but he was clearly marked by the strain of an unruly Parliament and unpopular politics.


FrontlinespainNov.jpg

The Nationalists are taking the initiative


FrontlineChinaNov.jpg

The Empire of Japan is turning into a Juggernaut


Nationalist China looks to be at the mercy of Japan. Beagrie reported a national unity of 75%, 750 Manpower, dissent of 3,3% but a surrender percentage of 92,2% As one can see on the map the hubs of communication and control are mostly on Japanese hands. They have vectored their thrusts at the core of the Chinese. Rather than attacking their ability to fight, they have attacked their will to fight.


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A few more 'victory points' and the Chinese will collapse


In Spain the German advisors must have whispered a few words on Bewegungskrieg to the Nationalists. The Counter attacks are directed at important nodes of communication.


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Effective handling of the army might turn the fate of war for the Nationalists


The PM was distressed at the prospect of a sudden collapse of Nationalist China. With only Yunnan, Guanxi Clique and Xibei San Ma to check the Japanese on mainland Asia we might have to adjust our force dispositions.

Personally I am afraid that if we are to do anything about the developments in Asia we must act now. Waiting for the Planning Committee to appraise the situation could force us to 'miss the bus'.