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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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stnylan

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So hopefully the Germans will remain mostly quiescent to allow you to strengthen their position. The length of time they are taking is definitely a good thing though.
 

El Pip

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Going for the OTL Allied war plan of holding the line in 1940, then a massive armoured/mechanised offensive in 1941 once the industrial advantage kicks in and the colonial empires are mobilised?

Sadly HOI3 doesn't really simulate how precarious the German resource position was so the other part of the plan - naval blockade - won't have much effect.
 

Bullfilter

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So hopefully the Germans will remain mostly quiescent to allow you to strengthen their position. The length of time they are taking is definitely a good thing though.
The AI seems surprisingly afraid of tackling a strongly held line. After a few desultory attempts in June, they have been very timid since!
Going for the OTL Allied war plan of holding the line in 1940, then a massive armoured/mechanised offensive in 1941 once the industrial advantage kicks in and the colonial empires are mobilised?

Sadly HOI3 doesn't really simulate how precarious the German resource position was so the other part of the plan - naval blockade - won't have much effect.
Something like that, yes. Once the line held for the bulk of the 1940 fighting season, I began to dream of something beyond mere survival. Of course, that could prove to be hubris. I could only guess about the German supply position and AI objectives at this point. And because this is bare-bones and from the French perspective, I will refrain from tagging over to take a look. Though as an after-the-fact history, it could be excusable ;)
 
Episode 7: 2 to 29 September 1940

Bullfilter

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Episode 7: 2 to 29 September 1940

2 September 1940

As the great German attack in the west has so far failed to eventuate (they must be running scared of our awesome Western Line), France continues to reinforce its defences and to build its forces to either counter any eventual German attack, but also to prepare for the offensive should the opportunity present itself.

By early September, there are seven BEF divisions in France – a mix of infantry and marines.

Y5PQZ6.jpg

The British send another well-stocked Royal Marine division to France and we rail it to the front, where it will help defend Amiens.

JBqQ73.jpg

To help keep track of these divisions and to make room for additions, a 1st BEF Corps HQ is raised.

4dN1uS.jpg

In western Libya, the Italians decide to attack the British.

72da1m.jpg

11 September 1940

A couple of short historical footnotes, not reported on at the time. First, in early 1940 the Soviets defeated the Finns in the Winter War and annexed Karelia.

P7XEY1.jpg

And in the Balkans, a few months ago the Soviets annexed Bessarabia and Germany imposed the Second Vienna Award, again largely to Romania’s detriment, with Hungary taking Transylvania.

ZrK0HU.jpg

The new BEF organisation is further developed. A BEF Army HQ is established under Army Group North and a 2nd BEF Corps HQ established under it.

6Fx1ex.jpg

Here are 1st BEF Corps' deployed divisions. Note also the heroic Iraqi Air Force flying air intercept over Lille! We will have a more detailed look at them shortly.

HoHzIx.jpg

HQ 2nd BEF Corps is deployed – the 5th RM Div is now in Amiens and digging in.

yBXbbf.jpg

So let’s just take a closer look at those brave Iraqi airmen. Seems they are flying Gloster Gladiators and haven’t yet been shot out of the sky! Bravo.

eivira.jpg

A quick look at Ethiopia – it is the usual mess! Our forces in Djibouti sit tight.

OmrCPg.jpg

22 September 1940

There have been no major development on the Western or Maginot Lines. Those Germans are very gun-shy. Honestly, the French High Command are in a state of happy disbelief. “Sauerkraut-eating surrender-monkeys!” starts to become a term of derision used for them. It seems the Italians and Slovakians are the only ones doing much attacking (other than in the air, where the Luftwaffe has at least been quite active)!

In the south, Briancon gets another working over – a token Slovakian ground attack but with heavy air support. Just harassment, really.

KYlH1Z.jpg

The Italians put in a heavy attack on Misurata – they really want to get at least one western Libyan port back, it seems.
ImdR8k.jpg


And, taking a brief exception to the self-imposed ‘French only’ naval reporting rule, it can be seen that Italian naval losses have been heavy since their entry to the war. Most recently, they have lost their first battleship in just the last few days. German losses are also quite heavy, with British casualties quite light so far – other than those two battleships lost early on to their German counterparts.

oIuRYz.jpg

29 September 1940

There have been no further changes of territory nor large attacks in France in the preceding week.

ZVdGZh.jpg

In the air, the British (plus a few Allies, such as the Iraqis) have been active, but on a relatively small scale. Most engagements have been air-air battles, well away from the front line in France. This mirrors the lack of ground activity there – unlike the previous quite heavy raids in support of ground assaults. All quiet on the Western Front, indeed! The Germans look to have bombed a couple of English ports (Bristol once and Hull twice, both contested), while the British have returned the favour in Leipzig!

4Zy1Vw.jpg

In Italy, Rome was bombed three times, Foggia twice and Perugia once – some of these are likely to have been British carrier-borne strikes, or raids mounted from Malta, where ‘Bomber’ Harris commands a STRAT bomber wing – and it looks like it has sustained a bit of damage.

F5CMGN.jpg

Perhaps these resources have something to do with the British bombing!

CbfGjS.jpg

In the Med, there has been considerable raiding and retaliation action on both sides. Larger concentrations of engagements have been highlighted with the relevant reports. The heaviest action is in the Gulf of Tunis. The Narrows and the Western Aegean have also seen a large number of enemy convoys (the green symbols) sunk. The rest are 1-2 sinkings: there is a concentration of enemy convoy-raiding action near our southern ports (Nice and Marseilles).

wf3mUB.jpg

As with the Med, we only have reports for our convoys and actions. Losses are relatively light on our American and other colonial convoys in the Atlantic.

UTVpuU.jpg

In the last week, we lost a destroyer flotilla in the Med, but managed to sink our first enemy ships of the war – including an Italian heavy cruiser.

I6gOuc.jpg

So, September passes with France standing strong and the Germans quivering in their boots, in fear of the mighty French Army – who it must be said have been aided usefully by the British, who help to hold the La Manche end of the Western Line.
 
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stnylan

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Well one cannot begrudge French caution on the sea - for it is on the land they need to focus their attentions.

Also I hope those Iraqi pilots are going to get the Croix de Guerre from a grateful French Republic!
 

El Pip

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Given France gave up Poland, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg without much of a fight I think they should be cautious about calling anyone gun-shy! Especially as to stop the German advance they've had to give up a chunk on Northern France.

That said France can always say nasty things about the Canadians, when you are being outshone by the Iraqi airforce you are just asking for mockery. ;)
 

Bullfilter

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Given France gave up Poland, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg without much of a fight I think they should be cautious about calling anyone gun-shy! Especially as to stop the German advance they've had to give up a chunk on Northern France.

That said France can always say nasty things about the Canadians, when you are being outshone by the Iraqi airforce you are just asking for mockery. ;)
:D To be fair, in this time line they did actually attack and seize three provinces of the Siegfried Line while Poland was under attack - not that it did any good in the long run. But yes, it’s war time, de Gaulle is in charge and they need a bit of bravado. And they can tell themselves they ended up winning last time too (the “Shame of Defeat” not yet having struck this time).

And all this without a second front to divert the German Army. Still, having northern France under the Nazi jackboot is ‘galling’ :p:rolleyes:. Won’t be easy winning it back. Especially if the Germans decide not to attack the Soviets in 1941 and just concentrate on France - a renewed spring offensive is what the French Staff fear now.
 

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I had thought that the Germans would resume their advance into France, but now that they don't, this looks a lot like the Great War. Perhaps with the exception that no mass assaults have occured here. Unless the enemy fields strong reserves behind the frontline, I believe the Allies will get some time during the winter to mobilise their empires. If my mind serves me well, the French took up on where the Polish left the program to decode the enigma. Will this alternate tineline, where France survives longer, see the French achieve the breakthrough instead of the British?:)

Poor Romania, the are certainly not having an easy time, getting bullied by the Commintern and the Axis, whilst the western allies have previously been unable to protect Poland (no offence meant to the French soldiers, they performed well).
 

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Especially if the Germans decide not to attack the Soviets in 1941 and just concentrate on France - a renewed spring offensive is what the French Staff fear now.

If the German AI is scripted to not attack the SU if France has not fallen, you will have to play turtle at least until fall 1942 when
an AEF might show up.
 

Bullfilter

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If the German AI is scripted to not attack the SU if France has not fallen, you will have to play turtle at least until fall 1942 when
an AEF might show up.
Welcome to the AAR serutan! The game is played through, so I know the answer to what happens and won’t spoil ahead too much ... but things do get busy and interesting a bit later! ;)
 
Episode 8: 12 October 1940 to 13 March 1941

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Episode 8: 12 October 1940 to 13 March 1941

12 October 1940

The Axis has expanded, but still only Germany, Italy and their two puppets (Slovakia and Ethiopia) are in the war.

e6U20E.jpg

French stockpiles remain healthy, if gradually running down. There is plenty of manpower in reserve and officer levels are up to 121%. The IC of 162 includes 26 lend lease from the UK.

GhY3s2.jpg

In France, there have been no changes of front lines. The Italians try another attack on Briancon, but it is very unlikely to succeed … and if it came to it, the provinces on either side could chip in with a relief division if necessary. Which it isn’t.

z70FFV.jpg

In Western Libya, the French still hold Misurata and now pepper away at the Italians.

eTaQ7D.jpg

And in East Libya, the Italians try to push the British back from the border.

5GEYay.jpg

6 December 1940

Bulgaria joins the Axis, but not the war.

DUdBW4.jpg

The Western Line remains unbroken. Despite the Germans maintaining heavy forces nearby, they fail to strike. With winter, they are now unlikely to try anything until the spring.

oDBpl3.jpg

The Maginot Line remains similarly solid and unchallenged, though with heavy German troop concentrations facing them.

5rDIFc.jpg

Western Libya remains unchanged for now, since October.

yeTZeW.jpg

In Eastern Libya, the British have at last pushed forward, taking a couple of border provinces and putting pressure on Tobruch.

EGtvxb.jpg

Since October, no more French ships have been sunk, but in a great coup, the 11th Sub Flotilla managed to sink the Italian battleship RM Andrea Doria. Huzzah!

qXfKO3.jpg

13 March 1941

We now fast forward three months. No new nations have joined any of the factions. And the strategic situation in France proper remains unchanged. Officer number continue to improve – this is a deliberate drive to increase battle efficiency in the French Army. The ratio gradually increases despite new units coming on board.

PNb7PT.jpg

In North Africa, it is a different story. France has swept away Italian opposition all the way to the border with Egypt!

XYcoqn.jpg

This released a few troops, including some drawn from reserve units in France, for another strike against the ‘soft Italian underbelly’. A naval landing is conducted on Sardinia, with Cagliari seized and the Italians being driven north.

Yn0Yrz.jpg

The patchwork quilt of Ethiopia continues to be messy.

oLqoLV.jpg

But the four elite Alpins brigades have been consolidated into a single division and are helping the British to force the Ethiopians back. If they lose their capital, they will be done for.

2wO7EY.jpg
 
Last edited:

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Things are looking up for France! Will you transfer units from Ethiopia to support the landings in Italy, or will you start bringing colonial forces into France proper to man low-intensity areas? I'm thinking Italian Front or such.
 

Bullfilter

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Things are looking up for France! Will you transfer units from Ethiopia to support the landings in Italy, or will you start bringing colonial forces into France proper to man low-intensity areas? I'm thinking Italian Front or such.
The game is played through here, so I can't change plans now or describe intentions (and can't remember exactly what they were now :confused:), but I can tell you that by now thoughts are turning to how France can prepare itself to go on the offensive on the main Western Front if the opportunity presents itself. But with Germany as strong as it is and without the Soviets in the war (yet, anyway ;)), it's a very daunting task. We may be holding them now, but if we go too soon and bleed it, it may encourage the Germans to keep going with it. But there is still French territory under the Nazi jackboot to be reclaimed, then a new French-led New Democratic World Order to be forged. Much hard work and fighting lie ahead. Much hinges on the Soviets. What will they do? If anything?
 
Episode 9: 20 May to 14 June 1941

Bullfilter

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Episode 9: 20 May to 14 June 1941

20 May 1941

Ethiopia fights on as a Government-in-exile, while the Romanians join the Axis, though remaining out of the war as well.

x62pCA.jpg

L0KO57.jpg

Italy and their puppets lose more ground in and around Ethiopia.

7B85rl.jpg

A snap-shot of the BEF in May 1941. After the initial influx of units, no more have come over since autumn 1940.

And here is a broad comparison of French forces to where they stood at the outbreak of the war in September 1939, noting that the land component does include the addition of the BEF (eg all the marine brigades, plus some infantry and engineer brigades). This comparison shows the French production priorities (other than forts and some new IC) have focused heavily on land units, a little on interceptors and not at all on the Navy. Some convoys and escorts have also been produced or are currently in the queue.

8IiiIS.jpg

The invasion of Sardinia was successfully completed, but then – in an interesting act of revenge – some Italian-flagged German paratroopers executed an airborne landing on the undefended port and airfield of Ajàccio in Corsica! This slight cannot be accepted: an amphibious assault to retake it is in progress. An almost full-strength corps is used – happy to use a hammer to crack a nut!

1xHMqR.jpg

Both a land and air battle are in progress. The Italians are trying to hit the landing force in the Bonifacio Straits, while a tough battle goes on at the beaches. The Italians (Germans) are being skilfully led, their counter-attack blunting the French attack.

1oFTou.jpg

The French battleship Courbet has sunk a couple of Italian transport fleets. Again, no French ships have been lost in the last month.

A2bBlv.jpg

But plenty of convoys were lost in the last week. Most of the losses were small, but there were massive losses in the Horseshoe Mount, despite French patrols in the area, where a number of routes converge.

SYT5pu.jpg

The Med is again more of a mixed bag, with both sides losing convoys and a couple of surface engagements occurring as well. A few of the more notable reports are included below.

zJpQCb.jpg

14 June 1941

The Soviets are down to 0% neutrality and perceive a threat of 125.3% from Germany. But they are still honouring their Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

iXRCAH.jpg

Here is an analysis of the different types of main division configurations. Most of the BEF divisions are 3xMAR+1xENG. For the French, there is a process still going to bring front-line divisions up to five brigade strength, but many remain as 3xINF+1xART (or some with ENG or AT instead). 4xINF+1xART is the standard five brigade infantry division. On the Western Line (Army Group North), slower moving divisions designed for leading a counter-attack or (later) line-breaking attacks are modelled on 1xARM+3xINF+1xART. There are also some mixed divisions designed to tangle with German panzers (in the defence for now) that contain 3xINF+1xART+1xAT.

The main mobile reserves are still in Army Group East (on the Maginot Front). For now, the most powerful formations (grouped in the 1st Mech Corps) are designed for rapid deployment and counter-attack there, but would form the nucleus for breakthrough thrusts later. The 1st Cuirassiers and the 2nd Cavalry Divs are the two leading units of that type at present.

The reinforced front-line divisions on the Italian front are now up to five brigades in strength as well and are heavy in Alpine and mountain brigades, plus some engineer support to aid movement in difficult terrain. They have easily fought off some quite heavy Italian attacks over the past few months.

aDU93p.jpg

Corsica was regained and has now been garrisoned with a medium-strength infantry division - in case the Italians try again. Sardinia remains secure (with both ports lightly garrisoned) and there has been no change on the Franco-Italian border.

8xoxnm.jpg

And here is a snapshot again of the recent air war, reflecting engagements in the week leading up to 17 June. White represents air battles, orange were enemy air strikes. There were no Allied air strikes during the period. It can be seen that most of the air action was around Corsica and Sardinia following recent combat there; over German airfields and resources; and above Dover, where the air war is clearly the hottest.

XRwTnG.jpg

And at sea, France sank two more Italian ships. This time the Courbet sank one of its Italian counterparts, the RM Caio Duilio – a major victory for the Pride of the Fleet (old warhorse that it is).

o27qDV.jpg
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Courbet appears to be turning into the Warspite of this war.

Given the Western Front appears to be static one wonders when the French Army might decide to take more offensive action of their own.
 

Bullfilter

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Courbet appears to be turning into the Warspite of this war.

Given the Western Front appears to be static one wonders when the French Army might decide to take more offensive action of their own.
The mighty Courbet, scourge of the Regia Marina!

While France is now more powerful and being ignored, the Germans still outnumber and outgun it very significantly. Only an intervention by or against the Soviets is likely to divert enough of their troops away to make offensive operations feasible. At this point, I had no idea if or when that might happen. :confused:
 

El Pip

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Good work on clearing out North Africa and giving the Regia Marina a kicking. The German front has at least stabilised, though as you say actually pushing on would take more forces than you had.

What would I have done at this point? Probably moved the mobile reserve to behind the Italian border and then invaded Sicily. If the Italian AI strips the French front to react, hit them with the mobile reserve. If they don't react, then the invasion can move onto the main part of Italy and push onto Rome.

I look forward to finding out what you did. :)
 

Bullfilter

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What would I have done at this point? Probably moved the mobile reserve to behind the Italian border and then invaded Sicily. If the Italian AI strips the French front to react, hit them with the mobile reserve. If they don't react, then the invasion can move onto the main part of Italy and push onto Rome.

I look forward to finding out what you did. :)
And I look forward to remembering! :D It’s been long enough now that while I remember the broad sweep, going through the saves and writing them up is almost as fresh for me as the author as it is for my dear readers!

I’d forgotten about the clearance of North Africa, the invasion of Sardinia and the Italian paradrop on Corsica. :rolleyes: All nice surprises when I got to them.;)
 

Macke11

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I can't say I expected this. The war in the west remains almost worryingly silent. Why don't the Germans test their luck (skill and strength?) against the weaker spots in the French line, now that it is summer season again? From a quick look at the screenshots, they should be fielding some H-ARM to drive as a wedge.

But this is wholly an advantage for the Allies. With Africa more or less out of the picture, spare units can be scrambled to, like @El Pip suggested, do something about Italy. The Naval Game runs smoothly with Courbet in the lead, so in a while the Italian navy will be unable to prevent this. I would have echoed @stnylan's suggestion of winning some initiative (even momentum!) on the Western Front, but if the Germans are yet much stronger, perhaps that would be to stretch the French efforts too far. Italy will have to do for now.

In any case, I appreciate reading this alternate history as it unfolds!:)