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France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR
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    France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR
    Game version: HOI3 TFH, no mods, cheats or tagging
    Game settings: 1936 Start, Normal Difficulty
    Format: bare bones descriptive reports
    Pictures: no additional pictures - just screenshots
    Like the title says – a quick and dirty report on one man’s fight to keep France alive and win the war!
     
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    Reserved
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    Reserved
     
    Episode 1: January 1936 to September 1939
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    Episode 1: January 1936 to September 1939

    All, this is a ‘holiday project’ I’ve been meaning to do for some time. This was the game I played (and completed) just before I started playing Turkey in my current ‘Talking Turkey’ HOI3 AAR. Fortunately, I had kept the saves, so this report just dips into those at key points to illustrate the story.

    Unlike Talking Turkey (which is 'live play', episode by episode), this is a game I completed and thought I’d write up as a quick, bare bones, game play and short history AAR. No narrative, characters, photos, detailed battle description, etc. Just a true After Action Report on my fourth attempt to play France – all having failed abjectly before then!

    By now, I had come to believe that France was not much more likely to survive the Blitzkrieg than Poland, but thought I’d give it one more try. But I had become a little more familiar with the game by then and had learned a few lessons from previous failed attempts and had read a few other France AARs (having been only a lurker up to that point on this forum).

    Given those failures, and to start at ‘par’, this game was played at Normal level. The game objective was simple: France to survive and lead the fight to a Democracy World Order (12/15 victory conditions).

    This is what happened. In brief.

    October 1937

    After the usual reorganisation of the order of battle and command structure, this is how things stood in 1937. There were no fancy plans for early interventions or such like. The previous game had been an attempt to save the Czechs and see what would happen if France prepared to attack early while the Czechs fought on. It ended in abject failure, with France conquered a year early (at least) from memory.

    mvTOmC.jpg

    So this time, the plan will be to defend along the river lines of northern France, prepare defences (forts) to extend a ‘Maginot Line Light’ west from Metz, concentrate on the land army (infantry and mech/armoured tech and building) and see if the storm could be weathered until the Soviet Union joined the war. And ensuring we don’t have the Italians storm through a too-weakly-held southern front – which had also happened to me previously. Still very early days here, production still quite low as units are upgraded (I wanted quality).

    v02ZAj.jpg

    Above is the Government entrusted with this task. Vincent Auriol wouldn’t have been my first choice for President! But there was no choice, so bad luck! Funny, as President he is -5% IC and as Armament Minister is an Administrative Genius with +10%. Go figure!

    e8eSaH.jpg

    And above is the leadership allocation at this time. Mainly land unit and doctrine techs. Some offensive ones, for the mechanised counter-attack (it will form a key part of the defensive plan this time) and later, a hoped-for strategic offensive. One can dream! The other key focus is on Officer Training – I want that high too.

    July 1939

    As the storm clouds gather, France does its best to prepare for war. You can see the reserve defensive line in preparation north of Paris and west of Metz. The plan is to fight a contested withdrawal back to them as a last line of defence, using favourable terrain (rivers, forts, woods etc) to slow the Germans down as much as possible and buy time. We’ll be calling on our British Allies to send an expeditionary force, which is hoped can help hold the western part of the line, allowing us to reinforce the vulnerable centre facing the Belgian border.

    Na5LVv.jpg

    The position on the Italian border has been reinforced but it will need more to be secure. There are more mountain brigades on the way, with four due to be produced by the end of November (see below). This should be well before any likely declaration of war by Italy. We hope.

    ccPwR8.jpg

    French production is now up to a healthy 117 IC off a base of 100. Officer strength is up to 125% - quite satisfactory, but with a large swag of units coming on line. More forts are in production, with two key ones due in August and September. We’ll have a look at progress on the Western Line soon. Earlier production had boosted artillery and anti-tank holdings, so that most front line Maginot Line divisions in the areas most under threat had either an artillery or anti-tank brigade attached to its three infantry divisions. Other than the Alpine brigades for the southern front, most remaining production concentrates on infantry and armoured units. Hoping also to use a radar outpost to improve early warning and air interception, eventually.

    kIGmBS.jpg

    With technology, key capabilities in the armoured area are shaded in blue. Of note, light armour is almost up to date and medium armour also on the way. SP Artillery can be built but is not yet a focus. Anti-tank has had some development, but Artillery has been brought up to date. Infantry capabilities are in green. With cavalry at L3 and Motorised infantry available and mech infantry able to be researched when ready, it will not be further pursued. Nor will militia training. Basic infantry equipment is reasonable, if not all at full current levels yet. Some aircraft research is being done, in the hope of at least being able to keep interceptors in the air at some point – though no great hopes there. There are few engineer brigades dotted around the army, but these are not a key research focus.

    BE12fQ.jpg

    September 1939

    London is on the radio again: now war is declared, and battle come down!

    bR9DAD.jpg

    This enables the usual wartime laws to be introduced, with a welcome boost to production, conscription and training especially.

    OaOh1n.jpg

    After a few days of war, Poland is already being nibbled at and has much of its army in the east. They are right to be suspicious of the Soviets, but it won’t help them stop the Nazi’s and their henchmen. Alas, France does not believe it can do much to help them – yet, anyway. She first needs to survive and for that needs to buy time.

    BhsLVi.jpg

    The Maginot Line is being held reasonably thinly in the south-east, where the terrain is more favourable. From the ‘corner’ and west towards Metz, it is more heavily garrisoned – this is where the first hammer blows are expected. Sarreguemines is held by four infantry divisions and two spare brigades, which are still mobilising. It is the principal front line infantry reserve for that sector. The main mobile reserve is in Mirecourt. From here, they are available to either reinforce or counter-attack anywhere along the Maginot Line. Four of the divisions there are equipped with SP artillery, to bolster hitting power without sacrificing speed.

    n0ZVfb.jpg

    The Western Line has by this stage been partly constructed. The map below shows both unit dispositions and fortification lines – completed (orange) and under construction (yellow). These are of course dwarfed by the Maginot Line (The Metz-Sarreguemines portion can be seen, in blue, to the east), but they are better than nothing. Where they can, they attempt to reinforce natural river lines of defence. Some depth defence is being prepared north of Paris in Beauvais, just in case.

    hP5qUg.jpg

    And at this stage, officer levels are up to 128%, manpower is now down to 594 (and will continue to decline as full mobilisation is reached). National Unity is at a reasonably healthy 63%.

    yD1sgV.jpg

    The next episode will cover the beginning of the war, the fate of Poland and whether the War in the West is phony or real.
     
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    Episode 2: 28 October 1939
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    Episode 2: 28 October 1939

    Strategic

    After almost two months of war, four new countries had joined the Allies: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. Alas, two had since surrendered: Poland and the Danes (not long after being attacked in the aftermath of Poland’s defeat).

    tLatvG.jpg

    As illustrated below, Denmark and Poland had been fully occupied, with Poland divided between Germany and the USSR per the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Note the small area circled in blue: we will come to that shortly.

    oz3BLq.jpg

    But before we do, something I should have specifically pointed out earlier: the Republicans had previously won the Spanish Civil War, defeating the Nazi and Fascist surrogates.

    sCf0nu.jpg

    Land

    So, while the Germans were busy taking down Poland, France decided to take some bold action after all! The entire mechanised reserve combined with some additional units from the infantry reserve stationed on the Maginot Line attacked the German fortifications to its north. Before German units started returning from Poland to counter-attack, a three-province-wide bridgehead was seized. The easternmost province of the salient has just been pushed back and is retreating towards Sarreguemines, but the others are trying to dig in. It was hoped this may create a bit of a buffer and provide a forward defence linking up with the most strongly held part of the Belgian line in this area.

    V9d5KN.jpg

    German panzers (von Manstein’s 3 Pz Div) are currently counter-attacking Saarlouis: superior tactics have negated the French delaying defence, but the French are dug in and still resisting strongly.

    SBEd8H.jpg

    Meanwhile, further west, objectives have been set for the BEF – where it is hoped they can start preparing defences in depth for the final line of resistance. A few Royal Marine divisions have already arrived and have been transferred to French command.

    EHoFAF.jpg

    Air

    In the north, France deploys three INT and three TAC wings.

    QA0Ke3.jpg

    And one of each in the south, where all remains quiet for now.

    fAQSR3.jpg

    And on the production front (among much other construction), three of the cavalry units are well on the way to being upgraded, to form the basis of a new MOT division. With new laws, production is now up to 167 from a base of 100.

    cEWoyf.jpg

    Naval

    At sea, the French Navy is very active. It has been divided into four surface fleets and two submarine fleets. This activity is a mixture of patrolling (in conjunction with the British) in the Atlantic approaches and the Western Mediterranean; convoy protection for the key US trade route and submarine raiding in the Western Med and off the Italian coast.

    To1DUx.jpg

    LXoz3t.jpg

    by48wM.jpg

    LcxODm.jpg


    WQgTXC.jpg

    And here is a record of Allied and Axis warships sunk since the start of the war. Of note, the Danes suffered heavily from NAV air attack (something to beware of); the UK has lost two heavy cruisers to German surface raiders (who must currently be very active); and the British have used carriers and destroyers to sink four German SS flotillas.

    lK8rjb.jpg
     
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    Episode 3: November 1939 to April 1940
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    Episode 3: November 1939 to April 1940

    This episode sees how things stand for France in the lead-up to the expected spring onslaught from the Germans. By 11 April 1940, no further countries have joined any faction since our last update (28 October 1939).

    5 November 1939

    First, a short look at where things stood a week after the previous update, after the initial German counter-attack on the French salient in the west. Saarlouis withstood the initial German attack and French forces there are now well dug in. Bitburg is also now entrenched, but the Germans have consolidated strongly in Saarbrucken since it was retaken in October and their strength gathers all along the Maginot Line. Major German counter-attacks can be expected to expel French forces from their Fatherland – Hitler must be incensed!

    vU7BFD.jpg

    In the air, the three French fighter wings have been rested after taking damage trying to protect their comrades in Saarlouis, who have been under heavy German air attack in the last week. The Bloch MB.152 remains the frontline French fighter,

    sVJZac.jpg


    UhoIpt.jpg

    At sea, the only ships sunk in the last week were a couple of German screens.

    zoswWB.jpg


    11 April 1940

    On the Maginot Line, Bitburg and Saarlouis were eventually retaken by the Germans, with French forces withdrawing in an orderly manner back to their main fortifications. After that, things settled into the ‘waiting game’ over the winter and into the spring. Of note, radar installations (each Level 1) were deployed in Metz and Strasbourg and a first level of fortification is being built in Le Thillot – as a precaution just in case the main Maginot Line falls, linking up with Epinal for a secondary line.

    IJr5Bc.jpg

    On the Western Line (ie the more lightly fortified line being built west of Metz), more British divisions have taken up position, as requested, filling in from the Channel, while French units continue to build the reserve line inland.

    wIzgco.jpg

    A light mechanised response force is being developed in Ste Menehould, ready to provide a mobile reserve for plugging gaps on the Western Line.

    M4xoAO.jpg

    And this map shows current and future fort builds more clearly. With Longuyon already at L2, the building program has been extended to the east, with Sedan, Ste Menehould, Reims and (in depth) Verdun being built up to L2. Charmes – another depth position – is being built up to to L1. This leaves the only gaps in the chain of forts between Metz and the Channel in the provinces of Chateau Thierry and Chatillon sur Marne. Each has a river defence and can only be attacked from one province in the line (presuming the forts either side hold), so the risk will be run for a while.

    OVijYn.jpg

    Italy has reinforced its lines along the border with France, but each province on the French side is fortified, now has a two-division garrison and most are mountainous. They will have to hold with what they have, as there are no reserves behind the line.

    46IJCw.jpg

    At sea, there has been heavy combat between the British and German navies since November. The Germans have lost four transport fleets, three destroyer flotillas, two U-Boat flotillas, four light cruisers and a battle-cruiser. But the British have paid, with the dreaded Bismarck having sunk two British battleships during this time: the HMS Revenge and the HMS Warspite. The light cruiser HMS Capetown was also lost.

    e6fhJZ.jpg
     
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    Episode 4: 30 May to 8 Jun 1940
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    Episode 4: 30 May to 8 Jun 1940

    30 May 1940

    Diplomatic, Strategic and Political

    Norway, Luxemburg, Holland and Norway have been attacked and now join the Allies. Italy remains neutral for now.

    MCPokx.jpg

    Of these Luxemburg has been conquered, mainland Holland has been conquered but fights on through its colonies and Belgium is hard pressed.

    K3wd0q.jpg

    The Germans have invaded central Norway and advance south towards the capital. Norwegian forces apparently have transit rights in Sweden, where some of their units have fled.

    eN9oE0.jpg

    The French Government changed after elections on 4 May 1940. General Charles de Gaulle has become President! Perhaps this signifies a new determination to resist. Or alternatively is a desperate measure in the face of almost certain destruction. Vincent Auriol serves on as Armament Minister – where he is well suited. The rest of the Ministry looks well-suited for their roles.

    jgu8Lc.jpg

    In the UK, Neville Chamberlain remains Prime Minister.

    VHcYB8.jpg

    French Colonial Force Dispositions

    As requested, here is a view of current colonial dispositions. In essence, they remain unchanged from pre-war deployments. This long after the fact, I can’t recall whether this was deliberate, or an oversight! :confused: We will see what happens to them in the future.

    718L1P.jpg

    French Forces in North Africa as at 30 May 1940.

    4t1VnQ.jpg

    French forces in Djibouti as at 30 May 1940.

    5kFtXZ.jpg

    French forces in Indo-China as at 30 May 1940.

    Western Front

    Having quickly rolled through Holland, Germany is now in the process of doing the same to the Belgians, who mount a desperate defence of Brussels.

    mNcP8V.jpg

    France has not been drawn forward to try to contest this: they stay true to their defensive doctrine. The Western Line is now defended by at least two divisions in each of its provinces. A single British division remains in Arras, where German armour has taken neighbouring Lille to the north (the first French VP city to fall). A similar screening position remains in the woods of Charleville Mezieres, north-west of Sedan.

    uBIcN3.jpg

    The Maginot Line remains solid, with no significant German attacks launched against it – though significant German and Slovakian forces remain poised to attack.

    ijcUS0.jpg

    Naval

    French naval forces have not been significantly engaged in the last month. We surmise that the Germans have again suffered heavy casualties among their troop transports during their amphibious invasion of Norway. But not enough to stop them landing, clearly.

    UBBh6N.jpg

    4 June 1940

    The Belgian Army has been broken, with remnants attempting to flee south. The Anglo-French defenders await the impact of the German mechanised advance.

    rRWvxk.jpg

    8 June 1940

    Italy has declared war, but no advances or attacks have been noted on the Franco-Italian border.

    In Norway, German forces close in on Oslo. Whether it can hold remains uncertain, but the odds do not seem good.

    oVNOEi.jpg

    The Western Front has seen the Germans making rapid, largely unopposed gains in northern France. In Arras, the British division defending there was forced out after becoming disorganised. The French light armoured division which had been sent in to assist holding the province has been voluntarily withdrawn, before it becomes too badly disorganised as well. They will aid the defence in Amiens. And further east, the French screening division withdraws from Charleville-Mezieres, again before it can be badly damaged, falling back to Reims.

    bcotgF.jpg

    By this stage, most French infantry brigades have upgraded to Level 5, but a few remain at Level 4 while the upgrades filter through. There have been no changes on the Maginot Line.

    The Italian Navy has attacked the 3rd Fleet off Tunis. Although being outnumbered in capital ships and total numbers, Admiral de Laborde seems to be getting the better of the combat.

    hjuDmt.jpg

    The 1st Fleet is recuperating in Brest, having run into trouble with German surface raiders.

    THtkj4.jpg

    They had a run-in with the two German battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz, losing a light cruiser and a destroyer flotilla. The force had been relying on British cover to prevent such encounters and had been structured for anti-submarine warfare. They have learned a hard lesson.

    9Jb8uN.jpg
     
    Last edited:
    Episode 5: 14 July 1940
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    Episode 5: 14 July 1940

    Strategic

    Since the last report on 8 June, the Soviets have occupied the Baltic States.

    3FwJuX.jpg

    French surrender progress remains low.

    IxGO6K.jpg

    The Germans close in on Oslo, but Norway fights on.

    AEoI7t.jpg

    France

    The Western Line has held since June. The Germans closed up and began to probe - it took a while for their infantry to catch up with the advance panzer divisions.

    P6vcvG.jpg

    Because of the nature of this AAR, there are no screen shots of battles held in between updates, but the graph of land force losses over the past month is a rough indication: a few probes and initial attacks were put in by the Germans during the last month, but no breakthrough occurred.

    0MQdCC.jpg

    Just to give a flavour of combat, I will include some snapshots of battles in progress or just commencing at the time of the save. This attack on Abbeville is doomed – you can tell from the low odds. By this time, the Germans are attacking forces in fortifications, with maximum entrenchment. The defenders are made up of French, British (EF) and Belgian troops.

    vNkLyG.jpg

    The Maginot Line holds relatively easily.

    7A2BqP.jpg

    A more serious attack on Cattenom involves three German infantry divisions. But against a strong, entrenched defence in L10 forts, their odds are negligible.

    boXLyO.jpg

    In the south, the Italians attack, but make no progress. The Germans and Slovakians have reinforced this frontier.

    kSZHRe.jpg

    An attack on Briancon goes in, though not in enough strength to dislodge mountain troops and Chasseur Alpins, defending in mountains, forts and trenches.

    mVhl4v.jpg

    In general, the Germans are going to have to hit hard with air attacks and make large-scale, sustained land attacks on key locations to break through. Small to medium sized probes will not be enough.

    Africa

    The Italians’ early gains in Tunisia are being rolled back.

    U0Bqt3.jpg

    While the 3rd Fleet recovers from earlier battle damage in Tunis.

    gSeyZI.jpg

    Italian and Ethiopian forces attack us in Djibouti. This is a more damaging attack, but should still be comfortably resisted.

    YVQywO.jpg

    Naval

    It appears the heavy cruiser Foch was lost in that earlier naval battle with Italy. From here, I will (in the no-frills manner of this AAR) only report naval losses suffered or inflicted by France.

    0BWSgQ.jpg

    Tech

    And here is a snapshot of tech research. Note the range of fighter aircraft training and equipment techs about to come on line. The interceptors have been used for air cover on the front and have managed to survive reasonably well to date, but the Axis can inflict heavy casualties in their ground attacks – especially when they attack beyond the range of British fighters based in England.

    UXBMqa.jpg

    Infantry techs are reasonably good (light artillery the only L4/1940, the rest L5/1942); armour is looking good (all L5/1942) and medium tanks getting there too (good armour will be important for both defence and later for offence, if we can survive). Anti-tank (L5/1942) and artillery (L7/1942) are also both well up to date.
     
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    Episode 6: 30 August 1940
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    Episode 6: 30 August 1940

    This and the last update were produced in tandem, but are presented separately - I want to keep each edition short and sharp.

    Strategic

    Since 14 July, the Germans have completed their conquest of Norway.

    AWeDe8.jpg

    This triggers a change in government in the UK, with Churchill now in charge.

    PUQddP.jpg

    Here are France’s current war goals. In general, and in keeping with the Allied desire to spread democracy throughout Europe, the approach is to first install a puppet government and then bring democracy to each liberated enemy country. Conquests are not sought.

    opuSvv.jpg

    France

    The Germans have so far been unable to break the Western Line. As before, the attacks seem to be either probes that are too light and are over quickly, or larger attacks that are still not large enough or sustained. Is this the best they can do?

    iMLMtz.jpg

    This probe on Soissons looked substantive on paper, with attacks from three different directions, but was abandoned very quickly (probably due to all attacks being across rivers, plus fortification and entrenchment).

    VfMP1q.jpg

    The attack on Reims, though lighter, is better prosecuted. But it is still unlikely to succeed.

    qN61ZJ.jpg

    There are quite heavy casualties in Reims from German and Italian CAS and TAC – but then the Knights of the Air come to the rescue – including one French and six British INT wings!

    GzyJsl.jpg

    We all know a human German player would have tried to concentrate some massive force at some point along the line (probably near Paris) and kept pressing. The AI doesn't seem to have the courage to tackle heavily entrenched and fortified river lines here with sustained effort. Yet, anyway.

    ***
    The Maginot Line holds strong.

    lpHWOo.jpg

    And in the south, a stronger attack goes in on Briancon, plus both Italian and (not shown here) even more effective German air support (where a single attack causes 289 casualties). But it still doesn’t look like making any inroads.

    MqkzDi.jpg

    The Axis also probes away at Nice, where the Slovakians are busy. But that won’t end well for them, either.

    wpb1Zm.jpg

    Africa

    The 3rd Fleet continues to patrol the coast off Libya (as do the British) in an attempt to isolate it from reinforcement. French troops have reoccupied all Tunisian provinces previously seized by Italy and have now taken the key ports of Tripoli and Misurata.

    Z0Sc0z.jpg

    The French High Command tries to rectify the lack of corresponding British action against eastern Libya by suggesting a couple of objectives (Tobruch and Bengasi). As yet, nothing much seems to be happening there.

    wt95gH.jpg

    The Italians and Ethiopians have another go at attacking Djibouti.

    pzFabF.jpg

    Naval

    There have been no naval losses incurred or inflicted by France since the last report. The 1st Fleet is back in action, but on hopefully more secure convoy escort duty – they don’t want to risk another encounter with those German battleships! They will leave that to the British.

    lhqh7f.jpg

    Production

    Here is a comprehensive readout of the current French production queue. There are many small infantry and support units on order – they will be used to round up divisional strength for those not yet at their maximum (we can allocate up to five, but most still only have three or four brigades). The biggest single purchase - at a whopping 30 IC - is a new medium armoured division. Two new forts are due reasonably soon on the Western Line, while a whole run of second stage works are planned for early in the new year of 1941. In the optimistic hope that there will still be something to defend – though the lacklustre German offensive so far has seen expectations improve.

    nRccMw.jpg
     
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    Episode 7: 2 to 29 September 1940
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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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    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
     
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    Episode 9: 20 May to 14 June 1941
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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
     
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    Episode 10: 15 October 1941
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    Episode 10: 15 October 1941

    A short, sharp 'on the road' episode to keep things moving. The Second Phony War continues!

    Strategic

    No additions to Factions since June, but here is a look at the political position in the Balkans. First, Yugoslavia is almost totally aligned with the Axis, but has not yet joined (or been invaded, as it was by this time in OTL).

    VXeDd0.jpg

    Greece is aligned almost totally with the Allies, but there has been no war with Italy or invasion by Germany.

    NGaQ1v.jpg

    But note Albania had (previously unreported here) been absorbed by Italy.

    X9xqII.jpg

    Something worth noting that applies to France throughout (yet another handicap) and shapes some of the tech (ie agriculture) choices. Manpower is healthy now, but it must be able to sustain either a stern defence or (hopefully) a hard fought offensive sometime in the future.

    8fVxwZ.jpg

    France

    The Northern Front remains stable, German power is still great, the quality and quantity of French forces slowly improving.

    lWKS3J.jpg

    In the south, the border with Italy also remains stable. Note the large amphibious task force assembled and in readiness in Marseille and that Toulon now has 3 x INT wings to provide air cover for the southern front and the northern part of the Western Med.

    Bglync.jpg

    So, no active land battles in progress in the north or south at the moment. OTL historical Barbarossa time has come and gone. In the West, another four months of campaigning season gone with no renewed German offensive. Cowards!

    Ethiopia

    The Italians and Ethiopians have been bottled up by the British and should be finished off soon.

    SliUbZ.jpg

    Naval War

    No more naval unit sinkings by or of French ships since June, but the war at sea goes on, even if the land war is dormant for now. The UK pretty much has a “full court press” going in the Eastern Med: not much room for any Italian naval operations there.

    px8JM3.jpg

    And France is looking after Central Med convoy interdiction with three sub fleets (each of five flotillas) covering possible Italian trade routes, with the occasional convoy hit in the last seven days. France also actively patrols the coastal approaches to southern France with a surface fleet (they are rotating at the moment due to the need to repair damage from air and surface engagements).

    tmnvxW.jpg

    The British are also very widespread and active in patrolling the Atlantic approaches around the Iberian coast as well, as is France on the approaches to the Med. Convoys are still being lost, but not (in the last week anyway) at the catastrophic rate they were previously.

    Cv9YRN.jpg

    Air War

    The snapshot below illustrates how the UK is now very active in the air war, especially from Norwich and Dover. The only nearby German air base (in Belgium) just has four wings (of unknown type) there. We can see British strategic bombing has also been active (they are undergoing repair at the moment), but no significant air operations were tracked in the last week. Active French air bases are marked in light blue.

    pbfqaE.jpg
     
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    Episode 11: 3 November 1941 to 2 April 1942
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    Episode 11: 3 November 1941 to 2 April 1942

    Time ticks by – fortunately, as mentioned before, I can accelerate through the slower bits. But I will take the opportunity during these intermediate periods to point out a few salient aspects or developments each time. Please be patient, the hour of decision approaches! ;)

    3 November 1942

    Looks like the British are still waiting out the Italian remnants in Ethiopia!

    wexl7D.jpg

    A snapshot of where the intelligence priorities are at the moment, at home and abroad, plus the analysis of where Germany is at present. The three prioritised missions (Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union) remain passive for now, building strength).

    beWh3d.jpg

    And a snapshot of the production queue. More emphasis now on air units and another medium tank division is well progressed.

    aWk2jG.jpg

    Overall, still no changes of provinces in France, no current land battles. National unity and officer strength are progressing nicely.

    M1FLED.jpg

    The BEF is growing again, and some different types of units are now shipping in. Montgomery has brought a Ghurkha division with him, and Ritchie a MOT division. They will be integrated into the main BEF (which already consists of seven marine divisions and four infantry divisions).

    Hmdbs3.jpg

    In the air, the British have clearly been in action recently (units recovering in Dover and Norwich), if not so intensively in air battles during the last week.

    B4L7iO.jpg

    Our subs were witness to an Italian air raid on a British fleet in the East Central Med. The carrier aircraft are fighting them off.

    DRkTd6.jpg

    Time to take a more general look at Axis naval losses since the war commenced – which are very heavy!

    wQ5Qxb.jpg

    Among the many smaller ship casualties, we note the RN has sunk the Bismarck – huzzah!

    dL7g0n.jpg

    Italian losses are even more numerous –including three battleships, two of which have been sunk by us. Double huzzah!

    2 April 1942

    Ethiopia has finally been finished up. Took long enough!

    wP7ne9.jpg

    We are now going to take an in-depth look at leadership allocation and selected research priorities. In the tables below, yellow outlined items are those that have had a major focus and are pretty much at or beyond current comparable standards. Those in orange indicate new areas where we are now trying to get up to speed – note these tend to be more offensive in nature (eg heavy tanks, some of themore offensive land doctrines).

    AHug9T.jpg


    jlzdrl.jpg


    osDF1J.jpg


    WIUvLC.jpg


    AObMW0.jpg


    jfQ8FY.jpg


    qSUwpz.jpg


    u1fLEb.jpg

    Our battleships have managed to sink a couple of small Italian units over the last few months – can’t be many left!

    W9tWIO.jpg

    And, you would have noted we have researched mechanised infantry – the first couple of MOT brigades are nearing upgrade. More preparation for the great fightback!

    QseFqc.jpg
     
    Episode 12: 17 September 1942
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    Episode 12: 17 September 1942

    Another five months have passed. No major movements or entries to the war, but things are hotting up. There may well have been more sizable battles along the way (my memory is that the Germans were not quite so static as they appear in these periodic snapshots, where the evidence of previous battles is often washed away over time). But here, we capture a large battle in mid-flow, so will focus on it.

    The BEF

    But first, we will again look at forces mustering and preparing in France. First, this is the BEF now forward-deployed on the ‘British Sector’ of the Western Line (ie. in the north-west of France). It includes the addition of the troops we saw introduced last time, so by now there are a couple of MOT and one Gurkha division in the mix, bringing the total there to 17 divisions!

    pxRWtT.jpg

    But wait, there’s more! This is what has just arrived at Cherbourg – another nine divisions, including ARM, MOT and MTN units, as well as the usual run of INF and MAR. I wouldn’t perhaps have picked the unit configurations they have, but they are all welcome.

    rLMEP2.jpg

    New BEF arrivals, with a few representative divisional orbats shown. These will come in handy once the Hun is ready for his fist-beating!

    French 1st Mech Corps

    And here are some examples of the new heavy mechanised forces being prepared by France for the tough fight ahead. The pride of these is the 2nd Cuirassier Division – now an 8-7 spearhead with MECH INF, SP ARTY and L4 TDs. The 1st Cuirassier Division is refitting, but will boast a medium tank (ARM) brigade, 3 x MECH and an SP ARTY.

    Yp376d.jpg

    Southern France

    The amphibious reserve remains in Marseille for now. Note, one division of the BEF was sent south to reinforce the line – the Axis build-up there remains heavy, though not too active at present.

    kPzVHl.jpg

    Battle of Sedan

    As mentioned above, we were lucky enough this time to catch a major land action in progress. It is quite a complex action, so I let it run through for a day to give a taste of what was going on and how it probably would have finished, the scale of casualties, etc.

    As we tune in (at 6am on 17 Sep 42), the attack has clearly been in progress for some time. The Germans attempt a breakthrough attack but are starting to get weary. The French 10th Inf Div has almost been forced to retreat. And the French commanders were clearly worried enough about the persistent attack to have called in some BEF units as reserves, just in case.

    35x1pA.jpg

    Both sides are employing air power – the Germans to batter the defenders in Sedan with a heavy mixed force, the French to disrupt the Germans attacking from Charleville Mezieres.

    WHpsl9.jpg

    These attacks persist throughout the 24 hour period reviewed here. These are the kinds of casualties they would have been inflicting. Of course, we can't tell from this snapshot whether the French would have called in INT escorts for their attacking or defensive air battles or how long either side would have actually kept these up.

    vhtGfM.jpg

    By 3pm on the 17th, the French 10th Inf Div can take no more and retreats.

    zgPIrd.jpg

    But by 2pm on the 18th, the Germans break off the attack. A victory for France, with heavy casualties on both sides – though heavier for the Germans (again, attributed to Slovakia, but they are all German units) and with a heavy toll from air raids (not captured in the battle report).

    nKrIj6.jpg

    Air Battle in Dover

    The Germans were also active in the skies above Dover, with Udet’s wing of four fighters (based in Belgium) duelling with his RAF counterparts.

    cqSVBk.jpg

    Naval

    Three more Italian small ship squadrons or flotillas have been sunk by the French Navy since April.

    7yCMzT.jpg

    Italian naval bombers remain the largest threat at sea now (it was they who have been damaging our sub raiders in the Central Med and that sunk one of our flotillas earlier in the year). But no more French ships have been lost since April.

    Production

    Here is the latest production screen. A new aircraft carrier is being produced – and before you ask, I really can’t now remember the grand naval ambition that motivated the French Navy to commission this at the time! I can only speculate - perhaps the reason will become apparent later! More relevant is the MECH conversion and building program; the first French HARM brigade; a new medium tank division and an elite Alpins brigade (all due in January 1943).

    vRLbTo.jpg

    Summary

    So it can be seen that the Germans can still bite hard when they want to – if they devoted more to an attack in the West (only three divs were sent against Sedan and they pressed pretty hard) they could cause us plenty of problems. On the plus side, the British have now sent France the equivalent of an entire army, with some mech forces, for the Western Front and they send significant lend-lease aid as well and keep the seas secure - a very valuable ally in this time line.

    But will the Soviets break their NAP with Hitler? We need the diversion of a second front to make the reclamation of occupied French soil a feasible proposition.
     
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    Episode 13: 15 December 1942 to 23 January 1943
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    Episode 13: 15 December 1942 to 23 January 1943

    And as today it chooses to rain on my beach holiday :mad: - here is another short update. :)

    15 December 1942

    Strategic

    As 1942 draws to a close, we see the US is still neutral and its threat vs neutrality ratio is still quite low. They are aligning towards the Allies but Germany is trying to influence them to stay neutral.

    vsx892.jpg

    Funnily enough, not everyone likes being part of the Greater German Reich! Revolts are brewing in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland.

    UTSEb8.jpg

    The aircraft carrier construction noted in the last update is now coming into better perspective: with naval pilot training being improved, landing craft tech already researched and now invasion tactics being studied ...

    ap2sW7.jpg

    ... and there are now three landing craft under construction. Deployable naval air power is useful to sustain a credible joint amphibious capability. Air power also continues to be developed.

    yLmI4X.jpg

    Land

    In northern France, the front line has become the most highly militarised zone in the world – there are great forces on both sides now. This map shows the Western Line, from the Channel to Metz.

    xn8cP8.jpg

    The 1st Cuir Div is now fully reinforced – to a very formidable and fully armoured 8-8 force.

    QATOed.jpg

    And the newly delivered 3rd Cuir Div gears up. It has been allocated to strengthen the BEF in the west.

    gZ952N.jpg

    And here we see more evidence of French intent: a corps of the BEF, including two marine divisions, has been sent to Toulon, where another French transport fleet is located.

    2S4C6r.jpg

    Air

    The only battle in progress at the moment is in the air over Genoa. Compared to the Italians, the French INT have the better equipment, experience, doctrine and leadership, but are outnumbered.

    BF8rhw.jpg

    Naval

    Two more Italian small ship units have been sunk by France since September, with no French losses. Looks like they keep trying to slip transport fleets through the Med – we can only hope some of them are carrying troops when sent to the bottom.

    eALYQD.jpg

    16 January 1943

    One month later and it is either the same or a renewed air contest being fought over Genoa. The French INT have suffered a lot of damage, while the Italians have brought in reinforcements.

    vJaBZi.jpg

    And two more Italian transport squadrons have been sent to the bottom in the last month.

    ib9A52.jpg

    But otherwise, little has changed as winter sets in.

    ***
    The graphs below report French and German air activity over the last month.

    qRDqCM.jpg

    The land charts show there have been some exchanges on the ground over the last month, but there are no detailed battle reports to hand as at 16 Jan 43.

    BfsxOc.jpg

    And here are some figures for war to date. German casualties have been quite heavy by comparison to France’s.

    ueDVDx.jpg

    23 January 1943

    Clearly, it is difficult for our espionage service to maintain a presence in Germany: the network there is being diminished, even while lying low, and German counter-espionage is up to 9. But they do seem to be improving their HARM tech – never good news for the French Army. The networks in Italy and Soviet Union are doing a little better.

    xnMzQ8.jpg

    And the latest BEF unit to arrive is being sent to help man the southern border at Nice.

    BCJydg.jpg

    So 1943 begins with the arms race in France in full swing, French eyes turning to amphibious warfare and naval power projection and a continued drive to build and modernise French air power – which will be needed in the coming trial. And still, the Japanese, Soviets and Americans continue to observe from the sidelines.
     
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    Episode 14: 5 to 23 February 1943
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    Episode 14: 5 to 23 February 1943

    Well, things are beginning to happen – 1943 promises to be a year of major strategic developments – the most significant since the fateful days of 1939. For now, ‘strategic patience’ has remained the French watchphrase and will continue to be – but thoughts turn more and more to preparing for the great strike that will seal either France’s fate or that of the Nazi aggressors.

    5 February 1943

    But first, there is more immediate business to deal with. It seems the Italians are determined to revenge themselves upon the crucial French heartland ... of Corsica! We only have the immediate aftermath captured here in images, but the Italians tried another airborne landing, with air and naval engagements. Unfortunately for them, the Anglo-French amphibious task force in Toulon was at hand to expel them, but not after a fight. The map below shows the original garrison MIL division had been sorely pressed before it was relieved, while the record of air and naval engagements in the last week also tells a tale. But Ajàccio remains free!

    I4zMDo.jpg

    20 February 1943

    Momentous diplomatic news! The historical record is incomplete, so we don’t know the exact sequence of these events – who started what and who responded. But the war just got a lot bigger. But we can surmise.

    JxN994.jpg

    RARLgb.jpg

    OVJ7Co.jpg

    So, the upshot is the Japanese were at war with Communist China – who had joined the Allies – and if we surmise that Mao Zedong had the wisdom to have joined the Allies (interestingly, not the Comintern) beforehand, perhaps this brought them into the war. Japan was also trying to influence Siam to join them. The US (perhaps responding to this aggression?) was now at war with Japan (plus its puppets) and those who had joined the European War (Germany and Japan and their puppets).

    But the sovereign Axis members in Europe still remain out of the war. As does the Soviet Union, which is influencing Spain and Turkey – logical strategic choices for them.

    0ETAW5.jpg

    In France, the Western and Southern Front lines remain unchanged. The first French HARM brigade has been deployed – it will provide infantry support for a division designed for a bunker-busting breakthrough.

    wv2Arz.jpg

    Corsica has now been more heavily garrisoned, including using light MIL divs to discourage air or naval landings next to Ajàccio – the Italian’s previous trick.

    Ug9U09.jpg

    War with Japan brings their immediate seizure of the port of Zhanjiang. Of more concern is the vital resources of French Indochina: still garrisoned by two colonial infantry divisions, protected on land by the border with Nationalist China, but essentially at the mercy of any Japanese naval landing.

    foys0I.jpg

    The brave Poles rise up against their oppressors. But a futile assault by France in the West will not save them – this time. But we hope to liberate them one day.

    JbpVwl.jpg

    The Communist Chinese had made some easy gains against the Japanese puppet Mengkukuo regime and bravely resist an initial Japanese attack on their capital (and only VP city) of Yan’an. But surely the Japanese will bring greater force to bear, and there is no-one nearby to aid Mao Zedong. Their units are even the same colour as the Poles – and they will likely share a similar fate, unfortunately.

    QMzn3q.jpg

    At sea, February was been busy. We can surmise there was one or more major fleet engagements, involving attempted naval landings by the Italians (probably on Corsica) that were intercepted and engaged by the French Navy (these are just the ships France sunk over this period). No French ships were lost achieving this – a grand outcome!

    S9vBXr.jpg

    And here is a snapshot of the total UK fleet losses in the war to date. You can see the German battleships Bismarck (sunk some time ago) and the Tirpitz have had a very destructive effect. At this point, the Tirpitz remained at large.

    EhPyta.jpg

    A look at French research at this time makes for interesting reading. First, in small aircraft equipment and training (for fighter, CAS and NAV training).

    5PpOeZ.jpg

    The other area of focus now is on offensive doctrine (in which France has until now been quite backward, having relied on the defence) and bringing light tank equipment up to date.

    TG8B0O.jpg

    In terms of French war objectives, the liberation of North Africa, the holding of Paris and the entry of the US into the war satisfy thereof the twelve victory conditions being aimed for the New Democratic World Order. Much work needs to be done – and liberating the BENELUX countries is merely the start of that long and difficult road.

    ldGKsp.jpg

    In the next update will see what mischief Japan gets up to in the Far East and Pacific. And who else will join what is becoming a truly World War. The USSR is now the only major power not involved – and the one we need most to distract the Germans.
     
    Episode 15: 26 April 1943
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    Episode 15: 26 April 1943

    Another two months have passed and the war has broadened further. We will check these diplomatic developments, then have a quick look at the Western Front, South East Asia and the Pacific, where there have been a few changes: neither Japan nor the US have been idle.

    Diplomatic, Intelligence and Industry

    The four European Axis ‘outliers’ have now joined the war. Sinkiang joined the Comintern. And France has intervened to try to keep Saudi Arabia out of Axis clutches.

    VGSkI4.jpg

    The small amount of Leadership needed has been deemed affordable, with officer strength still sitting above 130%.

    8i6hmr.jpg

    Alas, Communist China succumbed to Japanese aggression. The exiled Mao is probably being put up in Malaya, Burma, Hanoi or some such, under Allied protection.

    JI8ngU.jpg

    The spy ring in Italy is now the top priority, but the numbers need to be built up almost from rock bottom.

    K5dakP.jpg

    The US is also now providing a healthy amount of lend-lease. This largesse prompts a plan to build a new battlecruiser and (the most expensive purchase yet) a HARM-based ‘assault division’.

    NntvDQ.jpg

    NB: Excerpt only – not all the queue shown here.

    France

    The Western Front remains as it has since late 1939. But now, Germany’s new Axis allies have bolstered the line. This is just a quick indication of where new Romanian units have been spotted reinforcing. The Italians are also present in some strength, and other minor Axis allies are no doubt distributed in the stacks.

    SZU6av.jpg

    South East Asia

    The Japanese are invading a range of locations, from the Philippines, to Malaya and down to the Dutch East Indies (at a number of points).

    kCKGCN.jpg

    And this map shows what they’re after – highlighting the strategic resources up for grabs (in addition to the basic ones, which are also plentiful). Note Japan already has two of the strategic resource locations in their evil clutches, with Kuantan’s rubber (in Malaya) also directly in their sites.

    nbXvfN.jpg

    Pacific

    The Japanese have taken Guam and Wake Island, but Midway remains in US hands.

    SwD9UC.jpg

    But what’s that happening at Wake Island – and south of it? Let’s have a closer look.

    hNZk0G.jpg

    So, a powerful fleet sits off Wake, while further south a naval encounter between the USN and IJN appears to be in progress – but we can’t tell the details or which ships are on what side. And as we zoom into Wake, we can see the US Marine Corps is launching an operation to retake it, while the aircraft from two carriers pound the island.

    tzXaz4.jpg

    French Air Force

    Time now to see how the French Air Force has grown following recent efforts to build it up. There are now 5 TAC, 15 INT, 4 FTR (multirole), 2 CAS and one CAG (may have suffered some casualties to the Italians there) wings.

    SSjVj6.jpg

    Naval

    The French Navy has lost another sub flotilla to Italian NAV – the dreaded 6th Naval Bomber Group again! No more Italian vessels have been sunk by France in this time. They can’t have much left now.

    F4Art9.jpg

    In the Pacific, two months of war have seen our Allies take some painful losses. The HMAS Australia will have been a severe loss for the Aussies, while the mighty USS Mississippi has been sent to the bottom by the IJN battlecruiser Kongo (which has also sunk the CA USS New Orleans).

    DD76Jt.jpg

    The Japanese have lost more, but smaller, ships to the US and UK.

    s9ZldA.jpg
     
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    Episode 16: 3 June 1943
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    Episode 16: 3 June 1943

    Strategic

    Well folks, the plot has thickened further – a fully-fledged World War is now in progress. Yes, that’s right!

    1X4hro.jpg

    So, now everyone is pretty much at war, including the Soviets with Japan. It has only just begun on the Soviet European (Eastern) Front, so we will need to wait a little longer to see what the Germans do on the Western Front (ie start to divert forces to give us the opening we need).

    The UK has taken over the influencing role with the Saudis, so that is left to them.

    Bz0JeM.jpg

    The Leadership can be used elsewhere. Research, intel and officer training all gain a bit. Special note for El Pip: no naval equipment or doctrine in there except for invasion tactics!

    3O9alg.jpg

    Western Europe

    The BEF (and a newly arrived Danish division we’ve grouped with them) is now a significant presence on the Western Front.

    ufvcLJ.jpg

    And more are arriving: the first Canadian troops are in Cherbourg – will they become EFs? They have been asked to muster in Gamaches, in the BEF sector. The British have finally also sent some HQs over, which have just arrived in Brest. They will be put to use.

    7PVlFY.jpg

    And the BEF has been given a role on the Italian border as well, which is still heavily manned by the Axis. There is also a British division in Corsica.

    GrzwXr.jpg

    At the risk of causing offence to the ‘tank only’ lobby ;):p, here is a shot of the new escort carrier, the Dixmude, on patrol in the Western Med. 'Unicorn' class – how sweet! :)

    WqQjh4.jpg

    Soviet Union

    Early days in the war with Germany – mainly a few Soviet gains along the Eastern European borders, and major inroads into Finland. When will we see the Axis starting to send forces east? We can only assume they have been caught unprepared and that the Soviets must have attacked first, but the specific answer is lost in the mists of time and totalitarian information control. If the Soviets keep up this pestering of the Axis, surely they will have to move some of the huge build-up away from the French border!

    6ohOV8.jpg

    In the Far East, the traditional Japanese gains are being made.

    hLJh4m.jpg

    Pacific

    The US retains Wake Island after a successful invasion and have taken Mili from Japan. But they have lost Midway and Johnston Islands since April.

    JTIKaX.jpg

    Zooming, and we see the Japanese are also trying to retake Wake. They could have their work cut out though taking on Hoge’s three marine divisions!

    WjM4K6.jpg

    And the US is also set on retaking Johnston Is.

    zbmOd6.jpg

    The Pacific is proving quite an active theatre in the first few months of the war there.

    South East Asia

    France has been left alone in Indochina so far. The same can’t be said of the British in Malaya or the Dutch in their East Indies colonies. The Japanese have taken Kuantan and their rubber resorces.

    hC8lMz.jpg

    The British position in Malaya and the future of the important (for both strategic and resource reasons) base of Singapore both look grim.

    ZmWxUS.jpg

    Japan is also running riot through the Philippines. Manila has not yet fallen, but is now under direct threat.

    4JK7Ff.jpg
     
    Episode 17: 11 August 1943
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    Episode 17: 11 August 1943

    Now things are really hotting up! The scope of the chapters will expand back out again, in order to cover the events more quickly (the saves become far more frequent from here than during the long waiting periods). But we’ll spend a bit of time on this one, as so much was suddenly happening and the first few updates will give the flavour of the combat. After that the view will 'pan back' a bit in detail and time.

    Strategic

    In the East, the Soviets have defeated Finland. But otherwise, the Soviets’ early gains have all been rolled back and the Axis advances into the Motherland.

    2F8Vt4.jpg

    Yugoslavia joined the Axis, while Greece is completely aligned with the Allies but has – perhaps wisely at this stage – not joined.

    uY23AS.jpg

    Western Europe

    To all the doubters ;): the Grand Counter-Attack has started, even though the Axis presence in the West remains strong, if not at the hideous levels before the Soviets joined in! Here are some snapshots to give a flavour of proceedings. I won’t dwell on the air war in too much detail, but will point out the that both sides are striking each other (German ground attacks often kill 400 at a time, the French up to a couple of hundred) and contesting the skies intensely. This persists - even intensifies - as the fight continues.

    The main initial offensive has come in the west, in part to try to relieve a unilateral, uncalled for (and not well planned) amphibious attack by the Canadians (a corps landing) on Rotterdam! They had by now been forced back to their ships, but the Allied offensive continues anyway.

    wZ3YTA.jpg

    Whereas the other Canadian troops in-theatre have decided to form a Canadian EF under French command - as it should be. They are being far more wisely employed, instead of carrying out hare-brained and doomed commando raids!

    NdmlLS.jpg

    As we tune in, the Battle of Boulogne had just been won. As you can see, the French-led Allies have made a thrust through occupied north-west France (liberating four French provinces in front of the Western Line), after some very heaving fighting to achieve the breakthrough. British armour is making for Dunkerque from St. Omer, in an attempt to cut off the remaining Germans on the Channel Coast. Even as the Canadians look like they are attempting to reinforce failure by trying to land another division in the Netherlands, while the rest retreat!

    5LIxiY.jpg

    A heavy engagement is won in Boulogne. But the Germans are not done yet – they attack Arras with a single HARM division – which has come up against its French counterpart, still somewhat disorganised after its breakthrough, but with medium armour in support. 12 more divisions are making for the schwerpunkt but remain in reserve. We will not let the Hun retake this hard-won-back and sacred French soil!

    Wd1QG2.jpg

    And the Germans put in a new attack on Aucher, but it was too little to late (a quick follow-through show it was beaten four hours later).

    HqRsmH.jpg

    And further east, away from the breakthrough near the Channel, the Germans are puting in a heavy attack on Charleville Mezieres, which has also only just been taken back from the Germans after some previous savage fighting to get it. The two BEF MOT divisions that were first to reinforce the breakthrough by two French armoured divisions have been broken. Two follow-up French INF divisions attempt to reinforce, and another is on the way from the south, from St. Menehould. This shows how difficult it is, even with some German forces now diverted to the East, to take and then hold gains on what is still a thickly-occupied front. This fight will not be over soon.

    D6CUwl.jpg

    The air plot for the last week shows where the heaviest action has been. The air strikes would also be hitting Charleville Mezieres heavily that day.

    tXFQtH.jpg

    Here (just as an example) is a snapshot of one of the fighter battles, above Lille, in progress at the time of the save.

    ydRlpJ.jpg

    In southern France, the Italians now just have their own troops on the border – the other Axis units that were previously there will have been sent off, most likely to the Eastern Front, but we can’t be sure. The amphibious task force in Marseille has now boarded the three nice new LC and other transports there. Where might they be off too, if anywhere? Or are they just on standby?

    a97Fpp.jpg

    And here is an example of what of subs are up against and why the surface fleets are now avoiding this area. The Italians have obviously (and wisely) given up on their navy and have put their efforts into maritime air power instead.

    EEdNtN.jpg

    Asia-Pacific

    The usual grim news for the Soviets in the Far East.

    japxkR.jpg

    The Japanese have completed their conquest of Malaya and Singapore.

    rP6gJm.jpg

    And the Philippines.

    JnkOWR.jpg

    But seem to have slowed down in the Dutch East Indies, having perhaps seized most of what they want.

    GO2P0M.jpg

    That Japanese invasion of Wake Is must have succeeded after all - they have taken it back! They also retain Midway Is. But the US has taken Saipan and Tinian, also Kosrae to the south and Johnston Is. A dynamic game of island-hopping there, indeed. No evidence of any large and decisive naval encounters (ie capital ships sunk, etc).

    TS04Pq.jpg

    Production

    We haven’t checked in on the production queue for a while, but surely not much will have changed there ...

    VCjoCq.jpg

    NB: Corrected for some earlier copy and paste errors.

    Oh no! Call El Pip – it’s an emergency! :eek: But too late now to do anything about it. :oops: What is all this navy-building rubbish going on? o_O Perhaps thoughts are turning to the Far East? Or to being able to stand alone in the Med? The convoys have also been getting hit – note the large amounts of escorts and convoys being produced too. Perhaps the new ships are designed to help protect trade. We can only look to future events for an answer. :confused: We also suspect those radar stations were ordered before the Western Front started to loosen up – we’ll see if some of them are too late to be of use. But there’s plenty of MECH, ARM and HARM being produced as well. :cool: And a large Allied EF building in France. :)
     
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    Episode 18: 16 to 24 August 1943
  • Bullfilter

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    Episode 18: 16 to 24 August 1943

    OK, a lot to be packed in to finish off August, but will mainly let the pictures do the talking. This was already written, so is going up now so the "Guns of August 1943" (or "The Republic Strikes Back" ;) ) episodes (ie Ch 17 & 18) can be read as a pair.

    16 August 1943

    Strategic

    The Eastern Front sees the Germans with the advantage.

    lSfZuT.jpg

    The Far East is worse.

    AUxyss.jpg

    The flame of Resistance still burns in Norway and Denmark.

    JTHWGr.jpg

    In the Pacific, the US has taken Rota and retains Saipan, Tinian and Kosrae. But the Japanese have retaken Mili and retain Wake, Midway and Guam.

    51kAcP.jpg

    Because I’ve been asked, our base in New Caledonia is in the vicinity ... and a certain other AAR has NZ invading Australia at the moment (@markkur's ‘Bitter Fruit’ - on this HOI3 forum, take a look if you haven’t yet!), let’s have a look at their current defences, in case the Japanese do come calling!

    A large proportion of their forces are in small garrisons dotted around Northern Australia, Papua & New Guinea and the Melanesian islands.

    0J3PfX.jpg

    And there are some sizeable units defending the northern part of Western Australia.

    X0xuEk.jpg

    But as usual, there is little near the main population centres of the East Coast. Other than a single MOT brigade in Canberra, there are only HQs between Brisbane and Canberra and nothing further south (off map) in Melbourne. They invite another of those Japanese invasions of Sydney! We hope that doesn’t happen.

    z87wuR.jpg

    So while we're here, we’ll take a quick look at New Zealand as well. Most of their troops are on the North Island.

    yO4FQ3.jpg

    Nothing new to report in South East Asia: we’re still being left alone in Indochina. A sleeping dog we’ll let lie.

    Western Europe

    OK, with the preliminaries out of the way, time for the serious business!

    First, a broad overview of the main breakout, centred on Belgium. Five land battles are currently in progress.

    Uic2p8.jpg

    And here is where things stand on the whole Western Line – the Maginot Line remains quiet for now.

    V3lxpL.jpg

    Now we’ll take a quick look at each battle. We are attacking in three and defending in two.

    The Battle for Charleville Mezieres continues. The Germans just won’t give up on it. France keeps cycling units through in an effort to hold it. Last time (five days before), two French armoured divisions were defending and the 10th and 52nd Inf Divs were trying to reinforce and the 7th Inf Div was approaching from St. Menehould. Now the armour has withdrawn and they are defending and themselves beginning to tire, while yet more reinforcements (including fresh Canadian troops)are brought forward. It is a bit like Stalingrad!

    5zG5Da.jpg

    A major Allied attack is going in against Kortrijk from Lille and Hazebrouck – it looks like it should succeed.

    MrzqhA.jpg

    A smaller attack is being made on the Germans in Laon, but it is over a river against an entrenched defender. So despite superior French numbers and an attack from two different directions, the Germans look ready to defend for a while yet.

    YeVUZj.jpg

    The Germans have been cut off in Calais, where they have almost been broken. Thatshouldput two MOT divisions in the bag!

    NbZK3x.jpg

    The Germans are trying to relieve them with an attack on Dunkerque by the full strength 14th Pz Div, before the Allies can fully reinforce the gain, but it looks like the British should be able to hold until reinforced.

    vmG4ud.jpg

    Aha! So now we know where that amphibious force was being prepared for. Led by a couple of Royal Marine divisions, an Anglo-French assault force is making an opposed landing on the beaches of Messina. They hope to cut off any Italian forces left in Sicily and then begin to work their way up the toe of Italy, opening a second Italian front and diverting forces from the border with Italy – and both the Western and Eastern Fronts.

    vvCyrH.jpg

    The 3rd Navy is ordered to provide further support for the invasion fleet.

    eQNpUf.jpg

    The southern border remains stable. The French submarines operat8ing around Italy have taken a pounding from Italian maritime air forces and are trying to recuperate in Marseille.

    MPRdQN.jpg

    Just a general representation of the air war over the last week on the Western Front and an idea of the intensity. NB: Flemish Bank was where the ill-fated Canadian invasion fleet was stationed until recently. Of particular note, Aucher saw 34 bombings, Arras 41 engagements of all types, St. Quentin 23. The German’s main air base is in Brussels - it has been busy! This intensity continues - the Allies tend to lose far more troops killed by ground attack missions than in actual combat. But the French Air Force is also busy supporting the attack with ground attack missions.

    qvrCOY.jpg

    24 August 1943

    Our next view of events is eight days later.

    Strategic

    We’ll take a quick look at who is being influenced by the major factional players. A few points: the Axis (Germany) and Allies (the US) are having a tug-o-war over Nationalist China, and also over Turkey (via Japan and the UK). The UK is very busy in the influencing game at the moment: Republican Spain (a key victory objective country for the USSR) is being influenced by both the UK and the Soviets. A very importantly for our (French) position in Indo-China, the UK are counteracting earlier Japanese influence on Siam, which is granting the UK and France military access – not that there’s any (French, anyway) intention of using it! We’ll take a closer view of that too.

    KWU1ly.jpg

    ZnljUw.jpg

    Now that Dunkerque has been secured, the Allies have a fourth victory objective secured (Overlord). The four Axis ones are all in the Japanese sector. Belgium, Brussels and Luxembourg are all in relatively easy reach. Italy and Norway will take more work. That would give nine – another three required on top of that for victory. Berlin is the big goal, of course. Then maybe two of Greece (getting them to join the Allies), Bulgaria, Romania (which could easily fall to the Soviets if the war goes well) or Operation Zeppelin. Taking Japan down would be more difficult and take longer – to be avoided if possible (unless of course they collapse and the US conquers them). The aim is a 12 objective victory, not necessarily taking down every Axis power.

    YOrObx.jpg

    The Canadians and Americans have been given more desirable landing objectives should they want to do something like that (except useful this time). That would really give the Hun some grief – but it is probably highly unlikely they will take any notice of these requests.

    sVVfCT.jpg

    And the UK has been asked to retake Oslo.

    7Vf3Pe.jpg

    Western Europe

    We can see in Haarlem, to the north of the main breakout, the remnants of another doomed Canadian sortie. It may have diverted some Axis troops in that direction, for a while, but it’s not really a cost-effective approach. The main advance has reached the Dutch border on the coast, Gent has just been taken by the British 6th Armd Div, which is awaiting the rest of the slower moving units to catch up. Calais was mopped up and we’re trying to keep the momentum going, to outflank the Germans through the Low Countries, as they tried to do to us in 1940.

    tvxqjS.jpg

    Here is a wider view of the active Western Front, from the coast to Metz and the north of the Maginot Line, with a summary of the battles in progress at that time. Attacking in two, defending in three.

    qSOPZy.jpg

    A major attack is trying to take Tournai. Despite a heavy advantage in numbers, the enemy is dug in, behind a river. A hard slog maybe, but with plenty of Allied reinforcements available.

    0oglzy.jpg

    The Germans are doing their best to spoil the attack on Tournai from Kortrijk, but it is making little headway and should be brushed off easily.

    FSazzd.jpg

    A similar story in Cambrai. They’re just being pests, though with more substance here.

    51owFq.jpg

    And unless reinforced, this attempted Allied end run along the coast via Middelburg won’t bemaking much headway.

    vDdPMz.jpg

    And Charleville Mezieres? Yes, still at it, with yet another rotation of units feeding the hungry beast! The Germans keep finding fresh panzer divisions to throw in, and their Axis partners are also coming to the party. Allied counter-attacking tactics are currently blunting the German attack.

    23s4Qi.jpg

    In Messina, the beachhead has been won and two Allied corps (French XIX and the 4th BEF Corps) with seven divisions are ashore, under the command of the 2nd Army.

    7IbZBj.jpg

    There have been no changes of territory in the Pacific (or an attack on Australia! :) ). But the US have established a significant presence on Saipan. Still much work to do in the Asia-Pacific, with Japan still largely ascendant.

    MTCsGH.jpg

    And finally, a quick survey of Soviet naval losses to date in the war. All bar one is attributable to either German NAV or Japanese carrier-based air power. Of note, they have lost three capital ships (two BBs and a CA) to German NAV bombers.

    cvRy3g.jpg


    No more French losses or victories at sea in the last period. The Japanese have not lost any BB or CV yet, and the US none since losing the USS Mississippi early in the war.

    ***
    There, after a long ‘Sitzkrieg’, it is now getting pretty interesting. :D
     
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