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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Einheit_elf

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Chapter VIII - Spanish Interlude, Part I

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Located on the shores of the Laguna de Bay, near the town of Muntinlupa, was the Rico Estate. Descended from one of the first settlers of the Islands, their ancestor was given an encomienda, a grant from the Spanish crown to a meritorious Spaniard to exercise control over a specific area. This brought with it control of a decent amount of arable land. Eventually the lands surrounding the villa were purchased outright, being modiified into a hacienda, or estate. Being content to live in luxury, they withdrew from the chaotic policking of Spain. In the decades since, the family had fallen on harder and harder times. While still comfortably living in a reasonably luxurious manor, their fortune had dwindled to the point where the house and a meagre remnant of their lands were all they had left.

Fencing was brought to the Philippines from its time as a Spanish colony. In the early 1800s, the villa was modified to include a salle. The hall was spacious, with room for three duelling floors and was decorated with massive display cases filled with antique weapons from various cultures all over the world.

The bout was in full swing. Two figures dressed in full fencing regalia and masks were fighting with intense speed and skill.

A lunge, parry and a feint - then he was tagged. Damn, he thought, I'm getting snookered by an old man!

Next point. The men engaged and Johnny swiftly avoided a froissement, an attack that displaced an opponent's blade with a strong grazing action. He had managed to parry his opponent's sword with a swift maneuver called in quartata, a counterattack made with a quarter turn to the inside, concealing the front but exposing the back. This allowed him to pull away and perform a balestra and then a lunge, allowing him to tag his opponent.

Both fencers assume en garde and the bout began again. Johnny immediately engaged his father's blade with an envelopment, a maneuver that swept the opponent's blade through a full circle. The Captain, however, counterparried, a move made in the opposite line to the attack. Doing so knocked Johnny's sword away and the Captain quickly lunged and scored a hit.

"Two to one. This old man's still got it." Capitan Miguel Antonio Rico, formerly of Alfonso XIII's Ejercito de Tierra said smugly.

"I let you win, of course. A parting gift, you may call it." Juan Rico replied, grinning. However, at this his father turned ashen.

"You weren't serious. Johnnie, it's dangerous over there! Haven't you been reading the papers? Listened to the wire service? Complete anarchy! Why do you even want to join La Legión?" his father said. The Captain sighed. "My son, the infantry grunt. God, I never would have dreamed... Why couldn't you just have been content with a life of luxury and chasing skirts?"

At this Johnnie grinned. He knew his father would come around eventually. After all, he was a military man himself. "Look Father, you've been training me your whole life. I can shoot, I can fight with a gun, a knife, my bare hands. I know how to take care of myself", he said. His father gathered himself back together, somewhat stuffier when put on the spot.

"Well, I suppose it's a fine thing. My son shall become a man. Pity it shall take a war for it." He gave his son a hug.

"Thank you Father. I'll make you proud." his son promised solemnly.
______________________________________________________________________________

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In early 1936, Manuel Azaña's ascendancy from Presidente del Gobierno (President of the Governmen or Prime Minister) to Presidente de Espana (President of Spain, the head of state) triggered a wave of demands for social equality, evolving into a virtual revolution against the clergy, landowners and monarchists. Mobs attacked churches and tried to collectivize farms.

On July 18th, 1936, a faction of Spanish army officers and right-wing politicians launched a coup in Spain, with the intent of bringing down the government and replacing it with one more sensitive to the aristocracy. The democratic element, however, was not as weak as they had assumed, and instead of simply collapsing in on itself, managed to muster strong resistance.

Bilbao, Burgos, Seville, and most importantly the capital Madrid, falling to the rebels on the first day. In addition, territories in Spanish Morocco as well as the Canaries and the Balearics quickly declared their allegiance to the Nationalist government. Not all was lost, with Barcelona and Malaga resisting against the coup supporters and remaining Republican. With the failure of the Nationalist coup, a rump Republican state remained, with the bulk in the lands south of Madrid, leaving a divided Spain.

With much of the Ejercito joining the Monarchists, the Republicans were left with an assortment of irregular forces, leftist militias and paramilitaries. More importantly, the success of the Nationalist coup in seizing Madrid had cut off the Republican government off from the country's gold reserves. Aside from this, major industrial concerns such as the
Sociedad Espanola de Construccion Naval in Ferrol, and the Rio Tinto copper mines in Huelva also sided with the Nationalists, leaving most of the modern heavy industry in Spain cut off from the south, or under monarchist control.
 
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Einheit_elf

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Chapter IX - Spanish Interlude, Part II

The war had been going on for a few months. While at first it looked like the rebellion would fail before it began, several areas such as Seville, Ferrol, Burgos and Bilbao in the north, as well as the area south near Malaga were under the control of the Monarchists. However, what would later be called the swan song of the Republicans' control of Spain was the early loss of Madrid, to a combined Monarchist force of Catholic militias and defected Spanish Army troops. From this central position, they mopped up the light resistance on the Portuguese border, and attacked north and south, reducing the Republican presence to the Mediterranean coast, as well as Pamplona, near the Pyrennees.

Private - no, Tenientenow! - Juan Rico turned back to look at the rest of the platoon, snaking out behind him as they trudged across what was the only land they had traversed which was flat.

"Stay in column!" shouted one of his officers. "The objective is almost in sight."

The objective, that was a particularly loose usage of the term, Rico mused.


They had been moving since first light, as the battalion tried to catch up with the rest of the Legion, to participate in mopping up attacks against the last Republican strongholds, located in Catalonia. Proceeding from Castellon, the Spanish Foreign Legion was tasked with subdoing final resistance in the mountains north of the town.

By this late in the morning - about six hours on the march - the singing of La Cancion del Legionario had fallen away, discouraged by their officers who demanded greater alertness as they approached the main axis of resistance.

"Keep up the pace, men." Rico called to the privates around him. "We'll be in it soon."

Just then a loud, low shot rang out over the Desierto de Los Palmas, breaking with the stunning clap of an explosion some distance behind them.

¡A mí la Legión! ("To me the Legion!"), one Legionario shouted.

"Positions!" Rico screamed for the men to react to the threat. He then saw the flash of a mountain gun somewhere in front of his platoon. A shell exploded among some of his men as they dove for cover. Screaming was heard. He rolled into a shallow ditch as dirt and hot metal rained down around him.

"Keep your heads if you want to live!" bellowed one of his squad leaders.

He heard a few pops, probably from Mauser 1916 rifles. Old, probably out of range.

Capitan Santiago, the company commander, pointed at one of his troops. "You! Get on the radio! Tell them we need support, as much as they can muster! Tell them that if they overrun us, they'll take the city shortly after!"

Soon whistles sounded. Luckily his company was under cover. Because they were being assaulted by what seemed to be two battalions.

They were defending a position 2000 yards across, a thin line against a determined opponent. Worse still, they were defending against troops who had the high ground.

"Sir, I'm out of ammo!", that was Rodriguez. Most of his platoon was also out of ammunition. As the Republicans began to push infantry forward, Rico grabbed several grenades. He paused, caught his breath, and promptly threw the grenades into the Republican lines. A score of them fell, with the remainder grabbing rifles. At this, his machine gunners' fire cut down several more. The sounds of several Republican 81mm mortars were heard.

"Sir, orders from the CO. Hold positions."

As if to punctuate this point, several low whining sounds could be heard. From altitude, the Ju-88 bombers of the Condor Legion unloaded their deadly payload right over Republican heads. At that moment, Panzer I tanks as unleashed their 7.7mm machine guns.

Seeing this show of force, the Republicans fell back to their command post, located north of the mountain range.

"We have them on the run!" Upon hearing this, his men jumped out of their cover and took aim at the fleeing troops.

At 0945 Capitan Santiago received the surrender the garrison.

Lieutenant Rico perched on a rock overlooking the lowlands of Mediterranean Spain. Despite it all, his company had succeeded against all odds and the way into Tarragona was open. In the bluish hazy distance he could see the columns of I Corpo de Ejercito filling the horizon.
 

Einheit_elf

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Chapter X - Spanish Interlude, Part III

It is a dark time for the Republic. Monarchist troops have driven the Republicans from their strongholds in Madrid and the south of Spain and pursued them to what would become final redoubt. The few remaining combat capable formations of the Ejército de la República Española were gathered at Barcelona...

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Barcelona, Spain
1936

The Castell de Montjuïc could never have stood against a modern army, especially not after all the materiel those damned fascists gave the hated revolutionaries. Its thick granite walls would become shrapnel from bombs or artillery, killing more soldiers than it would help. It wasn't even a proper fortress nowadays, just a large structure in a strategic position.

José Miaja Menant was worried. Franco was coming, he knew. Franco was coming and at best all he could do was buy time for the beleaguered Loyalist government. He no longer harbored any fantasies of defeating the fascist rebels outright. Given time, they would eventually defeat his forces. He wouldn't give them an easy time of it though.

Four divisions of irregulars were spread out within the city. Meanwhile six divisions of regular army troops were deployed in trench lines south, southeast and east of Barcelona. Roughly 300 tanks, almost a division, were available. Although made up of a hodgepodge of T-26s, BT-5s, FT-17s and assorted armored cars, they would be useful to reinforce any wavering positions. At the airstrip were several Soviet supplied bombers, not as many as he would have liked, but all that were serviceable.

As he went over routine corps dispatches, the whu-whump of rebel artillery was heard in the distance. The Battle of Barcelona has begun.

_______________________________________________________​

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The outbreak of the civil war had surprised him. Upon learning of the coup by disloyal members of the military he had decided to join the local militia. Due to his education he was given a lieutenant’s commission and command of a platoon. Things were bad for the Republicans and getting worse. The remains of the Republican army were severely disorganized by the departure of many officers who switched sides. Pay was almost non-existent and irregular. Months of defeat had taken a toll on the young Spaniard.

Lt. Pablo Garcia was anxious too. He was feeling jittery, as he often was before combat. However he suddenly realized the rebel guns had fallen silent. Still dazed by the shelling, he looked around him to assess the damage. Trench A was cut by artillery craters in at least two locations. Several houses had also been hit. Now that his sense of hearing came back to him, he could hear wounded men screaming somewhere behind him.

No one in Barcelona heard the sound at first. It was simply too distant to carry above the whining winds. In the trenches, officers screamed out their orders to make themselves heard above the winds. Fires raged. Above all the activity and noise an ominous groaning announced that they were coming nearer.

When it was close enough, he strained to see the source of the mechanical whining sound. Other men looked up from their work and saw what looked like a number of moving specks. Garcia raised his Zeiss field glasses, pilfered from a rebel officer, and focused on the approaching objects. There must have been a hundred of them resolutely advancing.

Tanks!

At that moment he heard bugles and whistles signalling the Requetés were on the move. He called over his platoon's radio operator. He said "Tell battalion HQ we've made contact."

A new sense of dread comes over the headquarters personnel as an announcement of "Monarchist forces on the east trench line." is heard over the PA system.

(tbc)
 
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Einheit_elf

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Chapter XI - Spanish Interlude, Epilogue

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With the encirclement and surrender of most of the garrison in Barcelona, the end was in sight for the beleagured Republic. Despite the successful defense of Republican holdouts in Andalucia, Azaña was said to have remarked to his ministers in a cabinet meeting that “The war is lost, absolutely lost, and, if by a miracle it were won, we Republicans would have to embark on the first boat that left Spain – if they allowed us to.” In any case, the government would officially surrender on February 11 1937.

tbc

(Author's note: I got bored with writing about the Spanish Civil War, not being particularly well versed on the subject. Hopefully I can flesh it out more in the future.)
 
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