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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

roverS3

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Just a note to say I'm following and enjoying the new additions. I must say, with WWII about to explode...in both AARS I am tracking? I am eagerly awaiting Battle to come to the fore. Seems I am becoming more a Viking in HoI3 too.:)

I'm glad to have you reading. Perversely, the added narrative, which I really enjoy writing once I got into it, is both keeping things interesting and slowing down progress towards the GPW... But you do get some new tales while we all patiently (or anxiously) wait for war to come...

A very engaging and well researched travelogue! It will be interesting to find out Odin's assessment of the Far East defences - I always find it discordant that Nationalist China (when left to its AI devices) is always neutral by the time 1941 rolls around and thus Japan usually feels free to hit the Soviets and has plenty of forces to do so ...

Research does take time, especially finding information and appropriate pictures of small places in Siberia... but it was fun to do, and as a lot was happening in those few days, and I had been looking for an excuse to make 'Odin' travel East (there was a request from Eurasia, but I had been waiting for the right moment for a while). If you want to know, the temperatures are the actual temperatures in those locations in the game, at the mentioned time on the mentioned day... The update was thus mapped out before I knew about the DOW on Greece.

About Nationalist China, it's interesting to note that early versions of HOI3 didn't have the event where China hands Japan the Coast, and AI Japan would either slowly conquer the whole of AI China, or it would end in a vicious war of Attrition. Both made Japan unable to launch into a war with the SU in 1941, it could happen in 1942 though. The priority of old HOI3 Japan was really the pacific, and Japan tended to declare war on the Allies sooner, and start taking Indonesia and Singapore (as soon as they got Indochina). In my game, I would expect the real Japan to be taking over Indochina and Indonesia, as both France, and the Netherlands are clearly quite easy prey without their main industrial base, and the UK is otherwise occupied in North Africa, which would then give Japan the opportunity to take out Malaysia, Siam, Hongkong and Singapore. But, I have noticed that this kind of thing is quite unlikely in TFH, while an Eastern attack on the SU is more likely... (well, for Singapore the Japs have until February 1942, or they will have been doing less well than in real life...

Excellent.

Btw, nice map-tweak.

Thank you, I will try to keep up the excellence...
About the map: I feel like Paradox didn't really put in much of an effort for the Terrain map mode. I love the whole setup of the many map modes, but I spent little more than half an hour in open-source image treatment software (GIMP2 if you want to know), and in my opinion (yours too it seems), it looks better than the original. And I'm far from a specialist in these things, I only had a basic course on the subject as I only need to use this kind of software to spruce up my presentations and for this AAR. I'm sure that if a couple of graphic designers (or even one talented guy) had spent an hour or two on the colours and the contrast of the map, they could have made it look quite a bit better. It looks all right when you're zoomed in, but when you zoom out it just doesn't work very well.
What might have gone wrong is that they tried to make it a hybrid between a map and a satellite image, had they chosen one or the other, it would have been fine, but the mash up is probably why it's neither here nor there, and a bit weird to look at. What I tried to do is push it more towards the map end of the spectrum, making the colours pop more, and increasing the contrast.

Finally, what do the external members of the Committee think about putting in place economic sanctions on the Axis, more specifically ending all Rare Materials exports to Axis Nations involved in the Greek War?

Until the next update...
 

markkur

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"Finally, what do the external members of the Committee think about putting in place economic sanctions on the Axis, more specifically ending all Rare Materials exports to Axis Nations involved in the Greek War?"
You could always deny such an underhanded tactic.:D
 

roverS3

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You could always deny such an underhanded tactic.:D

All is fair in love and war?... Wars on the scale of the GPW are not won on the battlefields, but in the factories and in the mines... Maybe pressing the Germans for Rare Materials will make them declare war upon us.... Or, we could wait, as we really don't care much about Greece... I have to agree that, considering the game mechanics, AI Germany won't see a stop to RM sales as an embargo, and thus probably won't react as heavily? Except for furiously trying to buy Rares from the SU again. So, you are right in that it is not only underhanded (which is not bad per se), but probably quite gamey as well. Maybe we will go for a full embargo later on, in the spring of 1942, but that will cost the SU more, and will be recognised by the German AI as the hostile act that it is, making it less gamey and almost fair, in my eyes anyway... Just wanted to see what you guys thought, it can be underhanded, but it can't be gamey, and I do feel that this would be gamey. (maybe there should have been a diplomatic option where you can put in effect partial embargoes which the game does recognise, but that's really nitpicking...)
 

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Excellent.

Btw, nice map-tweak.
Yes, forgot to mention that before, a nice touch!

As for sanctions, it would be an interesting historical twist. I think I recall that trade exchanges with the Germans were either part of the Pact formally or at least seen by Stalin as something that would prevent Hitler from attacking if they were kept up. A nearly fatal miscalculation as he refused to believe until the end that Barbarossa was imminent despite evidence from his spies to the contrary.

In my parallel game, I have applied informal sanctions (ie not a embargo but just refusing trades) against the Axis (as Turkey) since deciding to join the Comintern: partly to discourage drift while aligning to the Soviets, but mainly to deny them access to anything that may help their industry and decrease their stockpiles. You could also exercise that option (and break any deals you currently have). I think it would be a good idea. Them sending resources for cash your way though - if they are silly enough to do so, why not? ;)
 
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roverS3

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As for sanctions, it would be an interesting historical twist. I think I recall that trade exchanges with the Germans were either part of the Pact formally or at least seen by Stalin as something that would prevent Hitler from attacking if they were kept up. A nearly fatal miscalculation as he refused to believe until the end that Barbarossa was imminent despite evidence from his spies to the contrary.

In my parallel game, I have applied informal sanctions (ie not a embargo but just refusing trades) against the Axis (as Turkey) since deciding to join the Comintern: partly to discourage drift while aligning to the Soviets, but mainly to deny them access to anything that may help their industry and decrease their stockpiles. You could also exercise that option (and break any deals you currently have). I think it would be a good idea. Them sending resources for cash your way though - if they are silly enough to do so, why not? ;)

The economic model of the Soviet Union was, until now, very simple: We have lot's of resources, we our surplus to whomever offers the highest price, then with the money we buy supplies, so we can use the IC for other purposes... Now recently we started buying Steel from Sweden, the official story is that improving relations with Sweden, and buying steel that can be shipped overland are both seriously in our interest. Our Industry is still slowly expanding, and is starting to use up very slightly more steel than is produced, the idea was to preemptively compensate for this by arranging buys from Sweden when the opportunity presented itself. Whenever a German trade deal came true we tried to buy the freed up Swedish steel surplus, depriving the Germans of the steel we're buying is just an added benefit... But in the case of Rare Materials, we have a very sizeable surplus, so stopping it's sale, especially as there are no better buyers for loads of Rare Materials than Axis members right now, is an act of aggression, not of necessity. The game doesn't model this distinction.

In the case of Talking Turkey the quantities aren't that high, and you could diplomatically get away with selling and buying your stuff elsewhere, always arguing that there are better deals out there. But in the case of the Soviet union, the scale of the Surplus means that to sell a significant part of it for good money, your only real option is the Axis. Of course, as an axis diplomat you know this, so when the Soviet Union rescinds all deals selling you rares unilaterally, it can only be politically motivated, or designed to harm your industry, no matter how informal it looks. The problem I have is that the AI doesn't have these somewhat clever diplomats. If I keep up my relations with axis members by selling them Energy, Fuel, and crude all the while buying Supplies, the AI will not 'notice' my obvious informal embargo, so it might even keep trying to buy RMs from the SU, endlessly wasting diplomatic points on a futile endeavour. But most importantly there won't be a diplomatic or military response, no informal embargo on me buying their supplies for example, no pressure,... nothing. (no bulldozers driving over cheese...)

The only way to get the kind of response you would expect from trade sanctions, is to enact a full embargo, then the game knows what happens... So while what 'Tri' is saying would make sense in the real world it doesn't make sense within the game mechanics, not to the Axis anyway. That's why the only economic sanctions I would really consider in game is a full embargo, because it would be too easy to sink the German industry before they even attack me (as that's pretty much what I would be doing, once their reserves are gone, the SU is responsible for taking offline 38 IC, with no plausible alternative supplier and while they are theoretically already down by 50 IC, when you count my trades), while they don't react to that existential threat. I have come to this conclusion by thinking it over in depth since the last update, and reading your comments for additional insight (You will notice that the previous comment was more ambivalent).Thank you for your contribution.
 

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Oh, "sanctions" sounds like a good idea. In one of my earlier USA games I put an embargo on Germany once from the start of the game. It REALLY hurt them.
 

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Whatever hurts them the most, has the diplomatic effect you want and hurts you least. In my case, I was trying to see if I could hurt their industry and stockpiles as much as I could; minimise the 'bleeding' of influence to them at a time they were playing havoc with my Comintern alignment policy through direct influence; but without alternatively provoking so much anger an early strike on me may have been contemplated.

And frankly so I could take some moral high ground in the AAR narrative by ostentatiously denying them supplies - especially fuel, which after the seizure of the Iranian oilfields I had plenty of. Yes, (alternate) reality imitating art! :D But for logical game reasons (providing fuel for Panzers and the Luftwaffe to crush us with later seemed a bad idea on a few levels).

The informal embargo idea was more a technique or option that may or may not suit. But a formal embargo would be a muscular response and, now it is winter, it doesn't really matter if the Germans take offence now or not. Unlike the OTL Stalin, this one is advised by a Committee that knows full well the Germans are likely to attack once the mud dries in 1941 anyway, so no amount of appeasement-by-trade (as practiced in OTL) will work any better than Chamberlain's diplomatic version.

May the People's Revolution reign supreme!
 
18th of November 1940, Vladivostok fortifications and Flight home

roverS3

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The 18th of November 1940, Vladivostok, 10am Moscow time, 7,8°C, 5pm Vladivostok time,

After close to 8 hours of sleep in daytime, we had a nice late lunch and then we went to see the Vladivostok fortifications:

The Naval fortifications in Vladivostok were among the best in the World in 1917, when work was halted due to the October Revolution. It was built in several stages:

Vladivostok1899Fort1.png

The first stage of construction was a single Naval fortress, construction took 10 years and it was completed in 1899. Left the 'wall' facing the sea, the Guns are currently being replaced and thus not present in the picture. On the right, the entrance pointing towards the shore.

VladivostokFortSt2.JPG

As you can see, this strong point was built during the second stage of fortification building between 1899 and 1905, this series of strong points and some additional Naval Artillery positions were meant to complement the main fort by acting as a second line of defence, and as added firepower in the case of the Artillery.
After the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 the next stage was designed from 1906, and construction started albeit slowly, in 1910, with the designs completed, construction was accelerated. By 1917, a total of 11 new self-contained forts, 4 major strongpoints, and 30 Coastal Artillery batteries had been added in and around the city. Not only is the quantity impressive, but today, the quality and layouts are considered to have been 20 years ahead of their time, engineers from across the developed world came to Vladivostok to analyse the cutting edge of Fortification building. Many of it's ideas were used in the construction of the Maginot-line.


VladivostokFort3-2.png

The entrance to a fortress, left. Right, the entrance to a small underground world under one of the most recent forts.

VladivostokFort3-1.png

Sleeping quarters for the Garrison in case of war, the men sleeping in here are protected by enough concrete to stop a 280mm shell, and then there is the fact that most of the structure is inside a hill. Part of the extensive technical equipment, the forts had their own underground power supply, here we see a very large electric switch that is part of the Electric system. There were also underground communications networks, and in quite a few places tunnels linking the various bunkers and batteries.

VladivostokFort3-3.png

Speaking of Coastal Artillery Batteries, here we see one of the bigger ones. These guns can take out most contemporary ships, and the hill they are on is not sinkable. The great advantage of these to a similar turret on a Battleship is that land based batteries present a much smaller target for similar firepower. In total more than 30 relatively modern batteries are positioned in the area covering the naval approaches to
Vladivostok. Most are a bit smaller than this though, having only one or two similar-sized guns, or several smaller calibre guns...

VladivostokFort3-4.png

Left: One of the earlier fort walls, from the 1906-1917 construction programme. Right: Fort No.12 is probably in the best position to repel an attack by land, it's the last one that was built, using technology that is still in use today (1940).
What is especially impressive is that many of these forts and Batteries were placed high up, on rocks and steep hills. Some sources talk about huge amounts of rope being used during construction, there even seems to have been a temporary cable car to ferry supplies to the site of Fort No.12. Equally impressive is that only two thirds of the planned fortifications have been built, so if we want to expand, the plans are there, a few minor tweaks bringing them up to date, and work can begin...

'Devyat', while being some kind of Engineer, is also a realist, and he considers that what has been built (Level 3 in game) should be sufficient to deter or repel most naval invasions. On the other hand, considering the amount of Japanese troops in Manchukuo and in Korea, the fortress is ill-equipped to deal with an attack overland, with most guns oriented towards the sea, and quite a few fortifications in positions that could be easily circumvented if attacked from land, it's much less of an obstacle when attacked in the 'rear' (Level 1).
Anti-Aircraft guns (Level 5) on top of all of the forts, and included in many of the Batteries do make the forts hard to bomb without incurring many downed Aeroplanes.
Vladivostok one of the three best protected cities of the Soviet Union in this regard (the 2 others are Leningrad and Sevastopol.) Even Moskva has less AA Guns.

As interesting as the visit of the fortifications was, the map of Theatre forces in the command room of Bunker No.10, HQ of
10ya Armiya, was possibly even more interesting:

FarEastMap18-06-40.jpeg

An aide to
General Malinovskij was so kind as to explain the disposition of Soviet Forces in the the theatre. First off, 10ya Armiya is tasked with aiming for Harbin in case of war with Japan, but more realistically it has to protect Vladivostok, and as a contingency, Kabarovsk, because if everything else fails, that's the only way out. For these tasks 10ya Armiya has 20 Infx3, Art Divisions, of which all except 35 SD are placed on the border with Manchukuo south of lake Khanka. Strangely no one is covering the Korean border... 35 SD is dug in in Kabarovsk, to keep supply lines (and an escape route for 10ya Armiya) open. 4. Garnizon Diviziya is guarding the forts in Vladivostok, it's orders come straight from Theatre HQ.
Independently, as a reserve, we find
XX GSK, 5 Mtnx3 Divisions sitting in the foothills of the Stanovoi mountains. This corps has been reorganised into a Far East Corps, meaning it's HQ has been enlarged to the size of a Western Front Army HQ to allow it to command units at longer range. The 2 Regiments that were attached to the HQ heave been detached and sent to guard the Western bank of the Tartar straight in Nikolaevsk na Amure, they have also been place directly under Theatre level Command.
And last but not least, there

FarEastInfraMap18-06-40.jpeg

As for infrastructure, the Trans-Siberian Railway is slowly being improved, while a large convoy shipping 60 tonnes of Supplies and 60 Barrels of Fuel directly into the Port of Sevastopol. These supplies are spread around the area with stockpiles of approximately 100 tonnes of Supplies in many provinces along the supply lines. In case of war, the supply situation should, at least initially, be quite optimal. Later on it might become less positive, especially if we need to fly in a substantial amount of Aeroplanes to counter an aggressive IJN and/or IJA Air offensive. As was shortly explained in the Infrastructure part of Yesterday's report, we have started investing in the development of alternative supply routes into
Tumnin Air Base and Nikolaevsk na Amure.

la5uti-1_902.jpg

Now I will go back to Vologda, hitching a ride in a Lavochkin La-5 long range fighter. This being the trainer version, there are two seats. Withe a cruising speed of 400kph, it should be much faster, but it will be more cramped. There will be shorter stops as this plane has the added advantage that it doesn't need very long or sturdy runways, the most basic airfields will do. Switching pilots twice during the trip will ensure that no break takes longer than 30 minutes. It is now being used to recruit people into the fast-expanding VVS, and to let the people of the far east see the modernity of the VVS first hand. But after the show is done and a thorough technical checkup completed it will need to fly back to
Leningrad in a hurry to take part in a joint exercise with the Navy Air Fleet. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Vologda is the last stop before Leningrad, so I will be back west very soon, as I have had a telegram telling me of urgent business in the compound. The plane will leave around 5 am local time (10pm on the 18th Moscow TIme), and on paper it should arrive in Vologda by 7:30pm Moscow time, this time I will be flying with the sun.
'Devyat' will be staying a little longer and he will take the train back to the west to take in the infrastructure along the way first hand. I, however need to rest some more, tomorrow I will be sitting in a cramped seat for more than 18 hours, with half an hour breaks every 2 to 3 hours. Duty calls, I and you will know more once I get back...

Greetings,

'Odin'
 
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markkur

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Very nice work again.

Regarding the Trade in the real war; I recall an interview where Germany made a deal for oil just prior to Barbarossa, which the Soviets made sure to meet until the outbreak of war. However, I think you should do what you wish...though I do not know how it will affect Germany. Since the A.I. will be held responsible? That gives you a lot of freedom in my mind; you could let a throw of the dice take the choice out of your hands.:)
 

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Whatever hurts them the most, has the diplomatic effect you want and hurts you least. In my case, I was trying to see if I could hurt their industry and stockpiles as much as I could; minimise the 'bleeding' of influence to them at a time they were playing havoc with my Comintern alignment policy through direct influence; but without alternatively provoking so much anger an early strike on me may have been contemplated.

And frankly so I could take some moral high ground in the AAR narrative by ostentatiously denying them supplies - especially fuel, which after the seizure of the Iranian oilfields I had plenty of. Yes, (alternate) reality imitating art! :D But for logical game reasons (providing fuel for Panzers and the Luftwaffe to crush us with later seemed a bad idea on a few levels).

In your case it does make sense to seek the diplomatic benefits of trading with Comintern members over anyone else, and the Germans were influencing you diplomatically in a way you didn't want to go. I think that in the case of Turkey, a regional power that is being courted by various factions, it's easy to justify turning down trades, as you get more offers and opportunities than you have volume to trade...

The informal embargo idea was more a technique or option that may or may not suit. But a formal embargo would be a muscular response and, now it is winter, it doesn't really matter if the Germans take offence now or not. Unlike the OTL Stalin, this one is advised by a Committee that knows full well the Germans are likely to attack once the mud dries in 1941 anyway, so no amount of appeasement-by-trade (as practiced in OTL) will work any better than Chamberlain's diplomatic version.

Oh, "sanctions" sounds like a good idea. In one of my earlier USA games I put an embargo on Germany once from the start of the game. It REALLY hurt them.

Regarding the Trade in the real war; I recall an interview where Germany made a deal for oil just prior to Barbarossa, which the Soviets made sure to meet until the outbreak of war. However, I think you should do what you wish...though I do not know how it will affect Germany. Since the A.I. will be held responsible? That gives you a lot of freedom in my mind; you could let a throw of the dice take the choice out of your hands.:)

I'd say that with Great Power comes great responsibility. As I said, I don't want to make this too easy, but like Bullfilter says, there is a Committee that fully expects to go to war with Germany, it even wants to go to war with Germany. Until the 'Greek' Crisis everything significant the Germans and Italians did fell outside our sphere of influence. We grumbled a bit when Albania was annexed, and a bit more when the Bulgarians pressed their claims on Romania, but, let's say that the thinking was... business as usual.. the longer they are looking for enemies elsewhere, the longer we have to prepare. But now with Greece, they are toying with annexing a nation of some significance, in our back yard, and without a prior diplomatic agreement (as for Eastern Poland etc.)

I don't know how Stalin would react if he had a Committee of people telling him that he should seriously think about an embargo on the Germans, especially as it is winter, and it can only reasonably be countered by counterembargo's. I like your idea of rolling a dice on this, let's call it the dice of Stalin making up his mind. As I see it the odds shall be like this: 1-2 No embargo, throw the dice again if someone DOWs Yugoslavia, 3-4 An embargo, but only if there is a further significant provocation (Like a DOW on Yugoslavia), 5-6 An Embargo effective within 10 days, based of the unacceptable invasion of Greece.

But before I deal with the trade issue, I have another update coming (I've barely started the research on it), I won't say what it is, but it'll take a while to put together, so considering my RL engagements, it will probably be ready somewhere this weekend, possibly even later. There is a combination of finishing a RL project before the academic year gathers steam, and more research-heavy updates that could slow down the pace significantly.

Very nice work again.

Thanks for the many compliments. I will try my best to keep turning out quality updates, I enjoyed writing them, so I'm glad you enjoy reading them.

May the People's Revolution reign supreme!

Que "The Internationale"

- marches out of the room, singing the words, looking proud and determined, confident of final and moral victory...
 

Bullfilter

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A sound approach - the result can be blamed on Fate!

BTW, in another example of my work imitating AARs (yours and my own in this case), work takes me for a snap trip to Moscow next week! Wasn't expecting it, as it's not in my normal sphere of interest, but as they say "something has come up!" I will get to sample Moscow weather in early October first hand!
 

markkur

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I don't know how Stalin would react if he had a Committee of people telling him that he should seriously think about an embargo on the Germans, especially as it is winter, and it can only reasonably be countered by counter-embargoes. I like your idea of rolling a dice on this, let's call it the dice of Stalin making up his mind. As I see it the odds shall be like this: 1-2 No embargo, throw the dice again if someone DOWs Yugoslavia, 3-4 An embargo, but only if there is a further significant provocation (Like a DOW on Yugoslavia), 5-6 An Embargo effective within 10 days, based of the unacceptable invasion of Greece.
An excellent tweak for the random outcome!

But before I deal with the trade issue, I have another update coming (I've barely started the research on it), I won't say what it is, but it'll take a while to put together, so considering my RL engagements, it will probably be ready somewhere this weekend, possibly even later. There is a combination of finishing a RL project before the academic year gathers steam, and more research-heavy updates that could slow down the pace significantly.
Well I am for and I'm sure there are many more that are enjoying this effort and also know RL intervenes. I wish you great success with all.

...work takes me for a snap trip to Moscow next week! Wasn't expecting it, as it's not in my normal sphere of interest, but as they say "something has come up!" I will get to sample Moscow weather in early October first hand!
Woah! Now that IS destiny.:D
 
19th of November 1940, 'Odinatsat' #4 French Amirals in the bar

roverS3

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The 19th of November 1940, near Vologda, -10,5°C, 10pm Moscow Time,

When I returned to the base an hour ago it was already dark, and freezing. I was very tired, but there was something waiting for me:

CaisseNegrita1930.jpg

What was in this box?
This was so intriguing that I opened the crate before even taking a picture for my report...

Inside were quite a few things,

There was a small note on top of the rest:

The 14th of November 1940

To 'Odin' from 'mother':

Here is my report from the first 4 days of our operation, I saw an opportunity to send over what we have gathered until now with a very low risk of it being intercepted. This crate was smuggled on board a merchant vessel to neutral Istanbul, where it was picked up from the ship and put on a Soviet Mail plane by an aide to the Soviet Consul in Istanbul. The diplomatic seal ensured that no Turkish customs official had a chance to look at what was inside. For all they know it's just a case of rum that is on it's way to the drinks cabinet of some Apparatchik, Diplomat, Minister,...

Inside the box you will find a book with notes and pictures we took while looking around, and transcripts from recorded conversations between and with guests in Maurice's café "Sud-Américain"...
I underlined the passages that might be of interest to the Committee.
I opened the book and this was the first entry:

13th of November, 12am

Me and 'Odinnadsat' just returned from a walk along the 'Boulevard's' overlooking the Harbour. Ostensibly, we where shopping in the fancy stores on the waterfront. But mostly, we were looking the other way, counting French Navy ships. We counted 38 military ships in and around the Harbour, we could identify some of them based on intelligence gathered last year by the GRU on the dockyards of France...

ShipsInAlger1Bretagne-Suffren-Forbin-Lynx-Tramontante-min.png

Left Column, top: We counted 3 Battleships, of which this one seems the biggest and the most modern, we suspect it might be the 'Bretagne'.
Confirmed
Left Column, bottom: We counted 4 Heavy Cruisers, seemingly all of exactly the same size and layout, we think they are of the 'Duquesne-class'. Confirmed 'Suffren'
Right Column: There are many Destroyers in the port, 25 in total, as for the types, it looks like a mixed bag:
Top: We think this is a 'l'Adroit' class 'Torpilleur', these look quite new, although the design is a bit dated. We counted 4 of these.
Middle: Here we have a more modern, 'Chacal'-class 'Contre-torpilleur'. We counted 6 of these
Bottom: And on this picture we see a 'Bourrasque'-class 'Contre-torpilleur'. We counted 5 of these

Further away, tucked away between the Battleships, we spotted the bough of what we think is a 'Duguay-Trouin'-class Light Cruiser,
and in between the Heavy Cruisers and patrolling the Port's entrance, we also spotted what we think are 'Guépard'-class 'Contre-Torpilleurs.

The ships are all in perfect shape, most of them shine in the sun, that's how clean they are. The crews, in the other hand look ragged and quite hungry, and I'm sure we'll have a few of them over tonight.

Now we have returned to the bar to prepare for the lunch crowd.
I flipped a page, and it was hours later:

13th of November 4:45pm

By 2pm we spotted a large cloud of smoke over the Horizon, and most of the French Navy Officers, having just arrived for lunch, stopped talking and all stared silently out of the front window as, over the course of three hours 13 French navy ships limped into the Port. All of them where seriously damaged, many almost beyond recognition, some to the point where one was surprised that they were still afloat. Particularly memorable was the moment when, the sun already low on the horizon, the Pride of the French Navy, the Battleship 'Courbet', steamed into the Port. All the sailors cheered, apparently glad that the huge vessel had only lost half of it's 6 initial turrets, and one of it's four engines. Part of the command tower on the Starboard side was also missing. It is true that even in this state, she is still mighty, and repairable without a sizeable dry-dock.

The same could not be said for the Carrier Béarn, by some miracle the flight deck was still usable, but otherwise the ship was clearly being kept afloat by pumps, and steaming on a single turbine. The Command tower was nowhere to be seen, and there were holes close to the waterline... Some of the sailors in the bar were actually crying at the sight of such carnage. We counted, with no little help from the sailors in the bar, 2 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers, 7 Destroyers, and a single military transport ship that wasn't carrying any soldiers. I'm sure we'll learn more tonight, when tongues will be loosened by alcohol, and my dangerously beautiful 'daughter'.
Then on the next couple of pages, things got really interesting,

At 8 pm a group of 10 high ranking French Navy officers walked in and requested a private room to eat and drink. We were of course happy to oblige, and invited the very important gentlemen into our only private room. The large table has just 10 chairs, 4 on each side and 2 on the ends. The men quickly took their positions at the table in order of rank, with Vice-Amiral d'Escadrille (Vice Admiral) Darlan sitting at the head of the table, flanked by the Contre-Amirals (Rear Admirals) Esteva and Comte De Laborde (De Laborde and Labord in HOI3, this one is represented twice in Game, as there were no other captains or higher of the name 'Labord' or 'Laborde', not in the navy anyways (not that I could find), what is funny is that they are both SK1-3, but only one of them is 'Old Guard', while the other (sporting a picture of a jonger Jean de Laborde isn't) Is this a bug because of 'no Vichy'?).

Next to them sat Capitaine de Vaisseau (Commander) Leloup, and Barois. Capitaines de Vaisseau of respectively 'Courbet' (BB) and 'Béarn' (CV). These were followed by Capitaine de Vaisseau Colmay and de la Noë, both commanding a Heavy Cruiser. And then Capitaine de Vaisseau Kahn and Collinet, in charge of a Light Cruiser, and a 'Flotille de Contre-Torpilleurs' (Destroyer Flotilla) respectively. At the opposite side of the table from Amiral Darlan sat Capitaine de Vaisseau Escudier, in charge of a single, heavily damaged military transport ship...

Of all the rum joints in all the towns in all the world, they walked into mine

DarlanDdLabordeEstevaDeLaNoéCollinet.png

Left to RIght: Vice-Amiral Darlan, Contre-Amiral Comte de Laborde, Contre-Amiral Esteva, Capitaine de Vaisseau de la Noë, Capitaine de Vaisseau Collinet.
'Odinnadsat' then brought the Gentlemen drinks, and once she had left again the ranking officer started talking, hoping to raise the low spirits of the men around the table:

Vice-Amiral Darlan:
"All right, so how many ships has France lost in this war? How many that really matter?"

Contre-Amiral Esteva:
"The 'Lamotte-Picquet' really mattered to me, before 'Giulio Cesare' blew it out of the water. It was my flagship during my Far Eastern years, I'm really saddened by her sinking. How could this happen? We lose two units, and Lamotte-Picquet is one of them?"

Vice-Amiral Darlan:
"We feel for you Esteva, but you have to admit that it's not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Besides this one Light Cruiser, we just lost the 'Contre-Torpilleurs' of the '9ème Flotille', to a wing of Italian Naval bombers. I personally think de Laborde did well here. Contre-Amiral, do you mind telling Esteva what happened exactly?"


Contre-Amiral Comte de Laborde:
"Well, as you know I was the highest ranking officer in the Port of Annaba. On paper the forces there were impressive, even the pride of our Fleet was there. but all of the ships were damaged from previous fighting in the Atlantic. As supplies have been very rare ever since the fall of France, repairs were very slow, and I didn't think many of the ships would be really ready to fight for years. I blame Amiral de la Flotte Richard for this, he's sitting there in Hanoi, and I'm not getting my supplies, it's his job to make sure the navy is supplied and operational. (Amiral de la flotte = Chief of the Navy, historically this was the post of Darlan, a post later held by de Laborde in the Vichy Government. Edit: 'Richard' was an alias of Jules Evenou, a talented Commander in the Free French Navy during WW2 so he seems like a logical choice, except that paradox used his alias instead of his real name, and it's impossible to find information on him using his alias. Source: 'The French Navy in World War II' by Paul Auphan and Jack Mordai readable on Google Books)

The only ships in decent condition were the Battleship 'Courbet' and the Light Cruiser 'Emile Bertin', and even those had some issues. Inexplicably, being the ranking officer, I was in direct control of 4 units, the heavily damaged Battleship 'Provence', the Light Cruiser 'Duguay-Trouin', 4 old Bourrasque-Class 'Contre-Torpilleur' that were organised into '3ème Flotille des C-T', and 3 'L'Adroit'-Class 'Torpilleurs' forming '9ème Flotille des Torpilleurs'.

Now the lack of supplies also affected the Army, and soon the Italians were closing in. Even worse for our ships, the Italians started bombing the port with Naval Bombers based in Tunis, sinking most of the Military transports, 3 of my 4 'Contre-Torpilleurs', and all of the 'Torpilleurs' of '9ème Flotille des Torpilleurs'. Once the Italians entered the town, I gave the order to move everything to Alger. It was utter chaos, I was the only commander with more than one of the ships under my command, and all the others were going as quickly as possible in the hope to make it to Alger quickly without stumbling into an Italian Fleet. As I said, most of our ships, especially after the bombings, were in no state to fight. But some got a fight anyway, the Carrier 'Béarn', with engine damage, and the Light Cruiser 'Lamotte-picquet' became entangled in a fight with a larger Italian fleet built around the 'Giulio Cesare'. The Italians tried to get to the 'Béarn', but the 'Lamotte-Picquet' would keep getting in the way, allowing the Carrier to take her distance. The 'Giulio Cesare' quickly changed focus to the annoying Light Cruiser, and shredded it entirely after the fourth salvo of 305mm(12") rounds hit her along her entire length, close to the waterline, she sank in minutes.

I was on the 'Duguay-Trouin' when the Captain of the 'Provence', my flagship, seems to have gone crazy when he heard about the sinking of the 'Lamotte-Picquet'. Disregarding my orders, he took his huge heap of scrap and charged towards where the 'Giulio Cesare' had been. The Battleship was no longer there, but my 'Capitaine de Vaisseau' did find and destroy the Heavy Cruiser 'Zara'. It seems the 'Zara' did score a few hits, and we lost all radio communications, all we know is that a Plane from the Béarn saw the 'Zara's last ten minutes afloat, with the Provence disappearing over the horizon towards Italy.

The 'Béarn' was pursued by the Italian Task force right until it got to Alger. The 'Giulio Cesare' even landed a couple more long range hits on the Carrier. The Carrier squadrons were totally disorganised and lacked Air Launched Torpedoes, so they only did minor damage on the Italian ships. All things considered, I'd say that I'm surprised at how many of our ships did make it back to Alger. I also have a question for you Darlan, and Esteva now that you ask, where were your fleets? Even low on Ammunition you could have covered our retreat, but you did nothing, and your ships look as if they just left the dockyard?"

Vice-Amiral Darlan:
"That's my responsibility, I heard the radio calls and concluded that most ships would make it as only two ships had encountered the Italian Navy. I thus decided to spare what little supplies we had left to make sure we can defend Alger itself from a Naval Invasion. I know you don't like to hear this, but we need to preserve our fleet to keep North Africa, and to maintain real influence within the Allies. There is a larger picture here...

I'm also rather worried by those disappearing ships, the heavy cruiser 'Algérie' has met the same fate, anchored just outside the Port, she rushed to fight off the Italians near
Annaba, against my orders, much like the 'Provence' has done, and after confirming that she had sunk all five 'Torpediniere' of '5a Flottiglia Torpediniere', we also lost all radio contact. This was another reason I didn't send out the entire fleet, I don't want to have any more ships disappearing on us.

I'd like to talk about the bigger picture here, maybe it can give us some courage...

All right, I have here the list of ships killed and lost by the British, let's start with the bad news:

Since the start of Hostilities the Royal Navy lost 7 unit's to the Italians:
Battleship 'HMS Royal Oak', Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Effingham', and the entire '50th Destroyer Flotilla' were sunk by Italian Battleship 'RN Littorio'
Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Cornwall', Light Cruiser 'HMS Enterprise' and the entire '29th Destroyer Flotilla' were sunk by Italian Battleship 'RN Caio Dulio'
Light Cruiser 'HMS Cardiff' was sunk by an enterprising '8a Flottiglia Torpediniere'
The Royal Navy did shoot back, and they have sunk a lot of units, 19 in total:
Heavy Cruiser 'RM Pola', and Light Cruiser 'RM Alberto da Guissano' were sunk by the Pride of the Royal Navy, Battlecruiser 'HMS Hood'
Light Cruisers
'RM Armando Diaz' and 'RM Roberto Colleoni' were sunk by Battleship 'HMS Barham'
Light Cruiser 'RM Bari' and the transports of 'Squadrone Aspromonte' were sunk by Battlecruiser 'HMS Repulse'
Light Cruiser 'RM Luigi Cadorna' and the transports of 'Squadrone Panigaglia' were sunk by Light Cruiser 'HMS Carlisle'

Heavy Cruiser 'RM Bolzano' was sunk by Aircraft Carrier 'HMS Furious'
Light Cruiser 'RM Bande Nere' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Royal Oak'
Light Cruiser 'RM Raimondo Montecuccolio' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Royal Sovereign'
Light Cruiser 'RM Muzio Attendolo' was sunk by the '50th Destroyer Flotilla' (shortly before the latter was sunk by 'RN Littorio')

'17a Flottiglia Torpediniere' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Ramillies'
'19a Flottiglia Torpediniere' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Resolution'
'7a Flottiglia Torpediniere' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Warspite'
'8a Flottiglia Torpediniere' was sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Norfolk' (in direct reprisal for the loss of 'HMS Cardiff')

'13a Flottiglia Torpediniere' was sunk by the '1st Destroyer Flotilla'
'27a Flottiglia Sommegibili' was sunk by Light Cruiser 'HMS Dauntless'

'12a Flottiglia Sommegibili' was sunk by the '26th Destroyer Flotilla'
If we add all of this up, you get the following numbers:
RN Losses in the Mediterranean: 1 Battleship, 2 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers, and 2 Destroyer Flotillas
French losses in the Mediterranean (not counting disappearing ships): 1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer Flotilla
Total Allied losses in the Mediterranean: 1 Battleship, 2 Heavy Cruisers, 3 Light Cruisers, and 3 Destroyer Flotillas

Italian ships sunk by France: 1 Heavy Cruiser and 1 Destroyer Flotilla
Italian ships sunk by the RN: 2 Heavy Cruisers, 8 Light Cruisers, 7 Destroyer Flotillas, and 2 Transport Flotillas
Italian ships sunk by the Allies: 3 Heavy Cruisers, 8 Light Cruisers, 8 Destroyer Flotillas, and 2 Transport Flotillas

It's not looking to bad, don't you think, the British did lose a Battleship, but they have plenty more, while the 16 escorts lost by the Regia Marina will take some time to replace...
I also have more information about the war of the Atlantic, first the bad news, 7 Royal Navy losses:
Battlecruiser 'HMS Renown', Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Dorsetshire' and Light Cruiser 'HMS Emerald' were sunk by Battleship 'Tirpitz'
Battleship 'HMS Nelson' was sunk by Battleship 'Bismarck'
'39th Destroyer Flotilla' and '18th Destroyer Flotilla' were sunk by Battlecruiser 'Schlesien'
'9th Submarine Flotilla' was caught by surprise and sunk by Luftwaffe Naval Bombers.
The french navy hasn't lost a single ship to the Kriegsmarine, this must be some kind of miracle on it's own...
The other good news is what our ships sunk:

Ships in my command the '1ère Flotte de France' have landed some kills in their time:
Light Cruiser 'Karlsruhe' was sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'Foch'
The submarines of '7 Unterseebootsflotille' was sunk by the '8ème Flotille de Contre-Torpilleurs'
Capitaine de Vaisseau Barois' now heavily Damaged Carrier was quite successful as well:
Light Cruiser 'Liepzig' and the submarines of 3 and 9 'Unterseebootsflotille' were sunk by Aircraft Carrier 'Béarn'
Our colleagues in Casablanca were also quite successful:
Heavy Cruiser 'Admiral Scheer' was sunk by Battlecruiser 'Dunkerque'
Heavy Cruiser 'Graf Spee' was sunk by '4ème Flotille de Torpilleurs' "

< There were cheers as ships under the command of the men at the table were mentioned >

Now, you already knew all this, so what did the Royal Navy achieve in the Atlantic:

The Battleship 'HMS Bismarck' and the transports of '7 Truppentransporterflotille' were sunk by Battleship 'HMS Barham'
Battlecruiser 'Schlesien' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Revenge'
Battlecruiser 'Schleswig-Holstein' was sunk by Battleship 'HMS Royal Oak'
Heavy Cruiser 'Deutschland' was sunk by the '7th Destroyer Flotilla'
Light Cruiser 'Königsberg' and the Destroyers of '3 Zestörergeschwader' were sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Frobisher'
The submarines of 6 and 10 'Unterseebootsflotille' were sunk by Aircraft Carrier 'HMS Furious'

Light Cruiser 'Emden' was sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Cornwall'

Light Cruiser 'Köln' was sunk by the '27th Destroyer Flotilla'
The Destroyers of '8 Zestörergeschwader' were sunk by Battleship 'HMS Royal Sovereign'
The Destroyers of '4 Zestörergeschwader' were sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'HMS Norfolk' (which would go on to sink some more Italian Destroyers later on)
The submarines of '2 Unterseebootsflotille' were sunk by the '39th Destroyer Flotilla'
The submarines of '1 Unterseebootsflotille' were sunk by the '44th Destroyer Flotilla'
The submarines of '4 Unterseebootsflotille' were sunk by the '2nd Destroyer Flotilla'

The transports of '6 Truppentransporterflotille' were sunk by Battleship 'HMS Revenge'
The transports of '1 Truppentransporterflotille' were sunk by Heavy Cruiser 'HMS London'
The transports of '1 Truppentransporterflotille' were sunk by Light Cruiser 'HMS Neptune'
Now let's add that all up:
RN Losses in the Atlantic: 1 Battleship, 1 Battlecruiser, 1 Heavy Cruiser, 1 Light Cruiser, 2 Destroyer Flotillas, and 1 Submarine Flotilla

French kills in the Atlantic: 2 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers, and 3 Submarine Flotillas
RN kills in the Atlantic: 1 Battleship, 2 Battlecruisers, 1 Heavy Cruiser, 3 Light Cruisers, 3 Destroyer Flotillas, 5 Submarine Flotillas, and 4 Transport Flotillas.
Total Kriegsmarine losses to the Allies:
1 Battleship, 2 Battlecruisers, 3 Heavy Cruisers, 5 Light Cruisers, 3 Destroyer Flotillas, 8 Submarine Flotillas and 4 Transport Flotillas.
The Royal Navy seems to believe that Battleship 'Tirpitz', is the only remaining big Capital ship, and her sinking is a high priority for the British Atlantic Naval Command.

So, let's do some more adding up, shall we:

Total French losses: 1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer Flotilla
Total RN Losses: 2 Battleships, 1 Battlecruiser, 3 Heavy Cruisers, 3 Light Cruisers, 4 Destroyer Flotillas, and 1 Submarine Flotilla
Total Allied Losses: 2 Battleships, 1 Battlecruiser, 3 Heavy Cruisers, 4 Light Cruisers, 5 Destroyer Flotillas, and 1 Submarine Flotilla

Total Axis Losses: 1 Battleship, 2 Battlecruisers, 6 Heavy Cruisers, 13 Light Cruisers, 11 Destroyer Flotillas, 8 Submarine Flotillas and 6 Transport Flotillas.

The big picture is looking quite good, so please, gentlemen, set aside those gloomy faces, and let's have some fun. Capitaine de Vaisseau Escudier, will you go get that fetching young lady in here with a round of drinks, I think that we're all thirsty after today.
Further unrecorded conversations 'Odinadsat' had with the Naval Officers in the commotion of the party yielded a complete list of Ships currently in Alger:

Vice-Amiral Darlan's '1ère Flotte de France':
Heavy Cruisers 'Colbert', 'Foch', 'Suffren', and 'Dusquesne', all of the 'Dusquesne'-class
6ème FCT and it's 5 old 'Bourrasque'-Class 'Contre-Torpilleurs'
5ème FT and it's 5 'l'Adroit'-class 'Torpilleurs'
7ème FCT and 8ème FCT and their 10 modern 'Guépard'-Class 'Contre-Torpilleurs'
Vice-Amiral d'Escadrille Esteva's 9ème Flotte:
Battleship 'Bretagne', of the 'Bretagne'-Class (See picture above)
Battleships 'Paris' and 'Ocean' of the old 'Courbet'-Class
Light Cruiser 'Jeanne d'Arc' of the 'Duguay Trouin'-Class
1ère FCT and it's 5 'Chacal'-class 'Contre-Torpilleurs'
All the other ships are damaged to various extents:
Vice-Amiral d'Escadrille de Laborde's 2ème Flotte:
Light Cruiser 'Duguay Trouin' of the 'Duguay Trouin'-Class, heavily damaged but still somewhat operational (64% health)
5ème FCT and 1 of it's original 5 old 'Bourrasque'-Class 'Contre-Torpilleurs' (19% Health)
Contre-Amiral Leloup's Battleship 'Courbet', of the 'Courbet'-Class, pride of the French Navy. Down a few turrets, but still operational (85% Health)
Contre-Amiral Barois' Aircraft Carrier 'Béarn', of the 'Béarn'-Class, heavily damaged, but somehow still able to hold 100 Aircraft on board (44% Health)
Contre-Amiral Colmay's Heavy Cruiser 'Dupleix', of the 'Duquesne'-Class, Heavily damaged, but still somewhat operational (61% Health)
Contre-Amiral de la Noë's Heavy Cruiser 'Tourville', of the 'Duquesne'-Class, Heavily damaged, but still somewhat operational (65% Health)
Contre-Amiral Collinet's Light Cruiser 'Emile Bertin', of the 'Emile Bertin'-Class, lightly damaged, but still operational (85% Health)
Contre-Amiral Leloup's 4ème FCT and 4 of it's 5 original 'Chacal'-class 'Contre-Torpilleurs', one of the ships, the 'Jaguar' is held afloat by pumps, and is missing it's main Gun turret as well (68% Health)
Contre-Amiral Escudier's 1ère Flotille de Convoi of which only 1 of the 5 original ships is still in existence, and it's a wreck with holes all over, listing to Port, and barely held up by improvised floaters. It really isn't much of a command really...
To be continued...
OOC: I tried to add some colours to make things more readable, but the forum wasn't on my side, and kept randomly showing me the colour codes instead of the coloured text...

 
Last edited:

roverS3

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OOC: Historical Notes about the 'Amiral's of the French Navy:
François Darlan
59 years old on the 13th of November 1940


In real life Darlan was the Chief of the French navy from 1937 onwards. He never actually saw combat, as he rose through the ranks in peacetime (he was in charge of an Artillery battery in WW1). On his way up he was captain of the Carrier Béarn and later Vice-Amiral in charge of the "Escadre de l'Atlantique" from 1934 to 1936 (and he is still at this level in the game, as the AI didn't promote him to Amiral in 1936 as in RL). His father was a Socialist parliamentarian with close ties to Georges Leygues, minister of the Navy for a total of 9 years served in 4 stints between 1917 and 1933. These connections and the fact that he wasn't entirely stupid meant he rose through the ranks very quickly. In 1937 He became Chief of the Navy, and as such was mostly occupied with shaping the navy, ordering ships, and representing the navy at Naval Arms treaties and conventions. He lobbied effectively for the French navy budget and was one of the, if not the, reason for France's naval strength in 1939. After the Armistice he resisted calls from Pétain for the navy to stop fighting for a few days, allowing French gold to be secured in Senegal by his navy. Before having a change of heart he sent all of the French Navy to Mers El-Kébir in Algeria lest it be used by the Germans.

After the fleet was secure, he did rally to Vichy, seeing a France working together with the Germans as the least bad option. He was absolutely convinced the Germans were going to take over Continental Europe, and no-one would be able to stop them... He was later a big advocate of Vichy negotiating a peace between the Axis and an (in his mind) exhausted Britain.

Part of the reason for his political activity within the Vichy Government is the British Attack at Mers el-Kebir. He had wanted to save his fleet by making sure it remained neutral, he had even issued a scuttle order, that if any foreign power, be it Axis or Allied were to try and take over one of his ships, the crew was to scuttle the ship immediately. All this didn't stop the British from blowing half his fleet out of the water at Mers El-Kébir. From that moment on he pushed for Vichy to join the war against the UK, and, when rebuffed by Pétain himself, he pushed for coöperation with Germany in any way he could. He also re-based what was left of his fleet to Toulon for the rest of the war. He was Prime Minister under Pétain, thanks to his sprawling political connections, but the Germans found him annoying as Prime Minister because he constantly pushed to extract concessions from the Germans in exchange for anything that he could give them. He wanted to put Vichy on the map, alongside Germany, as partners (which the Germans found ridiculous). In 1942, fed up with Darlan's shenanigans, the Germans just stop talking with the entire Vichy Government, and Pétain replaced him by Laval. Darlan is again placed in Command of the Armed forces.

Pissed off at the Germans for their belittling of his efforts and their disdain for what he tried to do, Darlan turns, secretly, towards the Americans, with the first contact dating back to 1941, through his friend Amiral Raymond Fenard and the US consul to Vichy, where he tried to convince the consul (Robert Murphy) that, now that the Americans were in the Game, Darlan did believe in ultimate Allied Victory.

Fenard would be the one to call him over to Alger as operation Torch was imminent. Darlan still didn't believe the Americans had the naval might to pull off Torch. He was captured by partisans and pressured to tell all Vichy forces in Algeria to let the landings happen. He resented being pressured into this as a prisoner, and managed to get messages out to his Command in the Algers Admiralty, feigning to comply with allied demands. The messages were for the navy to resist the Allied landings, and for the Garrison of Alger to root out the partisans. His absence made sure that chaos was complete, and that the Landing Allies were completely unopposed. His main message of resisting the allies would be intercepted, but the rest got through and forces loyal to him manage to grasp him from the hands of the Partisans. Then, while the Allies are already encircling Alger without firing a shot, he sends a telegram to Vichy telling them to pressure the Germans to send in the Luftwaffe to destroy Allied supply lines. He also used his loyal troops to push the Partisans out of the city without directly engaging the Allies, a futile effort, as the Allies were surrounding Alger, and he would capitulate himself and the city that same evening. He still hesitated for two more days, under pressure from the Americans, before ordering all Vichy forces in North-Africa to surrender on the 10th of November 1942.

For some reason (He was competent and liked by the officers and civil servants below him, and he convinced all of North-African Vichy to lay down their arms seem the most probable ones), the Americans let him take civilian leadership over French North Africa. He would continue to resist changes to legislation and the liberation of Political prisoners, as well as demands for more independence from the native Algerian population.

On the 24th of December he was assassinated by deluded monarchists trying to make France into a monarchy with de Gaulle as Chief of the Armed forces and the Count of Paris as a king... (Who knew...). It is now believed that Gaullist elements of the Free African Army were also involved in the plot, and that without them it would have failed.

He will end up having helped the allies even more than he knew, as on the 27th, the Vichy fleet in Toulon follows his 1940 orders perfectly and scuttles itself when the Germans take direct control of the 'Free zone', making sure the Germans never got to use a single French ship during the entire war.

Darlan, being more of a politician and a long term strategist than an Amiral leading ships into actual battle, we don't know how well he would have done. But I think that considering that he had a good tactical mind and seems to have been held in high regard by those under him, that he must have had some potential. HOI3 giving him a skill rating of Sk3-6 and Superior Tactician trait seems to fit with this idea.

Comte Jean Joseph Jules Noël de Laborde
62 years old on the 13th of November 1940

Count de Laborde started his carreer in 1897 as a flag bearer in the French Far East Fleet. He participated in the campaign to quell the Chinese Boxer rebellion in 1900.Upon his return he was promoted to Ship's Lieutenant ('Lieutenant de Vaisseau', equivalent to Capitaine in the Army, and to captain in many other navies, this person can command a small vessel or a significant part of the crew on a larger ship) in 1908. After some years in Morocco, he returned to the Far East on the Heavy Cruiser 'Dupleix'


After a short tour in the Far East, he learns to fly upon his return, and receives his pilot's license in 1914. During the whole of WW1, he commands an 'Escadrille' (A squadron of bi-planes). By the end of the war he is named Chief of the Centre for Naval Aviation in Dunkerque. Considering this background, and having just been promoted to the rank of 'Capitaine de Vaisseau', he was the perfect fit for France's first Aircraft Carrier Béarn, and took command of her in 1925, leading the navy's efforts to experiment with naval aviation and Carrier based Aviation. In 1928 the Béarn is officially registered as a combat vessel (whereas it before had been a half-built Battleship, then a testbed for Carrier Aviation). That same year Count de Laborde was promoted to Contre-Amiral in charge of the Toulon sector naval forces (In Game he is a Rear-Amiral, did the game demote him?). In 1930 he gets to command the 2nd 'Escadre' or 2nd Fleet in Brest. Then finally in 1932 he becomes Vice-Amiral and gets a series of commands, Regional Maritime prefect of the Bizerte Maritime Region (4e Région Maritime) off the Tunisian coast, then in 1936, he takes over from Darlan as Commander of the 'Escadrille de l'Atlantique'. He finally becomes Amiral in 1938, while he is a member of the "Conseil supérieur de la Marine".

In 1939, at the start of hostilities, he is placed in direct Command of all Atlantic naval forces, he raises his flag on the brand new Battleship "Strasbourg" (In game this would be a Dunkerque-class Battlecruiser, but I suspect this ship wasn't built in my game...)... After the Capitulation, he is quick to join the camp of Maréchal Pétain. And the latter finds nothing better than to make Count de Laborde chief of the Navy, again taking the place of Darlan. Several sources say that Pétain did this hoping to profit from the antipathy between Count de Laborde and Darlan. The former was appalled by the fact that the Younger, less experienced Amiral Darlan had been promoted Chief of the navy ahead of him, contrary to convention of having the oldest, most experienced Amiral in that post. This was due to political connections, and not so much due to skill.

De Laborde was quite like Darlan, appalled at th British actions at Mers el-Kebir. He actually suggested using the Vichy Fleet to disrupt the landings of Operation Torch, but would be overruled by Navy minister Auphan. Count de Laborde, would later show his ambivalence towards Darlan, at a critical time. On the 11th of November, Darlan is disavowed by the Vichy regime because of his capitulation to and (grudging) coöperation with them. On the same day, Darlan orders Chief of the Navy Amiral Count de Laborde to sail the Vichy navy from Toulon to North Africa to assist the Allies. De Laborde, who didn't like Darlan in the first place sees this as a betrayal, and is reinforced in this view by the disavowal of Darlan by the Vichy Government.

He refuses to execute the order and considers it unlawful. In a twist of fate, de Laborde would then execute a long-standing order, given by Darlan years before, to justify scuttling his entire fleet on the 27th of November, faced with an imminent German takeover of it.

De Laborde would be harshly punished after the war for not taking his fleet to the Allies on Darlan's orders, he was stripped of all titles and imprisoned for life. In 1951 his sentence would be commuted and many of his titles and medals restored by then president Vincent Auriol. He lived out his life quietly, living off his pension, until he died in 1977, aged 98.

Jean-Pierre Esteva
60 years old on the 13th of November 1940

Like de Laborde, he worked himself up in the ranks, starting out as Flag bearer. He reached the rank of 'Lieutenant de Vaisseau' before WW1 and went on to fight in the 'Bataille des Dardanelles' (the Gallipoli Campaign). After the war, he became a professor at the 'Ecole Supérieure Maritime' in Toulon, and in 1927 he was awarded the rank of 'Capitaine de Vaisseau'. As 'Capitaine', he shows an interest in Naval Aviation, he becomes Contre-Amiral and, after a short stint as Director of Naval Aviation, he was made Adjunct to the 'Chef d'Etat Major des forces Aériennes' (Chief of the 'Air Force').
In 1935, he obtained the rank of Vice-Amiral and took supreme command of France's Far Eastern Naval forces, with his flag raised on the 'Lamotte-Picquet' (a 'Duguay-Trouin'-class light cruiser). On his return he became the first Inspector of Maritime forces, and in 1939, Supreme commander of French Southern Naval Forces.

He followed his fellow Amirals into the Vichy Regime, but wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as the others. Later the Vichy government appointed him to 'Resident Général' of Tunisia, where he remained until the Allies came knocking during operation Torch. Initially he condemned the presence of the Luftwaffe on the French Air Base near Tunis, wanting Vichy to remain neutral in Northern Africa. He would later change his mind under heavy pressure of Prime Minister Laval himself, and facilitate the Luftwaffe's presence in Tunisia. In 1943 escaped Tunis, moments before the Americans took the city, by hitching a raide on the German plane carrying the Consul for the Third Reich in Tunis. After being interrogated for a few days by the Germans, he was released, and returned to Vichy, receiving a hero's Welcome from the Government...

He was condemned to forced labour forced life after the war, he lived to be 70, and died in 1951. De Gaulle seems to really have really regretted the plight of Esteva, who's pre-WW2 career was held in high regard by the General, stating that Esteva, following his superiors in a false sense of duty, had found himself accomplice and later victim of a nefarious enterprise.
 

roverS3

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The men were eager to show pictures of their ships and their victories in better days to our recent recruit, hoping that boasting about the size and beauty of their ships might get them somewhere with this beautiful girl... We managed to duplicate the pictures while the men were too drunk, or too enthralled by 'Odinnadsat' to notice..

CourbetOceanBéarn-min.png

Here we have the Battleship 'Courbet' (top left), the Aircraft Carrier 'Béarn' (Top Right), and the Battleships 'Courbet' and 'Ocean' (ex. Jean Bart), side by side in the Port of Alger a few years ago...

EmileBertinAlgérieGuépardColbert-min.png

The light Cruiser 'Emile Bertin' (Top), quite a modern ship. The Heavy Cruiser 'Algérie' that has disappeared (Left), a real shame, as it was the best Heavy Cruiser in the French Navy, the only one of it's class. The Destroyer 'Guépard' (Right), a few of these modern (1938) Destroyers lay at Anchor in the Port of Alger, one of them heavily damaged. Heavy Cruiser 'Colbert' (bottom), outside of the Port of Alger.

GiulioCesareGrafSpee-min.png

Photographs of Axis ships encountered by the french Navy were also distributed, the second one mostly to boost morale. The Battleship 'Giulio Cesare' (Left), responsible for sinking the 'Lamotte Picquet'. The final moments of the German Heavy Cruiser 'Graf Spee' (Right) after it was hit by a fatal volley of torpedoes from the french '4ème Flotille de Torpilleurs'


That's it for tonight...
I would like to point out that 'Odinadsat is very skilled at extracting information, especially from Military men far away from their families. This time, she actually listened to what I said and brought back the intelligence I asked for. We made a good team, she would come to the bar to get another round of drinks, I'd write down the fresh Intelligence she had just gotten from one or another tipsy and flirtatious 'Capitaine de Vaisseau', I would then propose some more things she could try to learn from our guests, she shaped her conversations towards what we wanted to know, and then she brought it back. It was almost too easy... The men never even suspected that she might have been a foreign spy, all they wanted to do was impress her with their knowledge and their accomplishments.

As the Amirals left, I said:
"Louise, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" (I call her Louise sometimes, I pretend it's her second name that didn't get registered...),
and I meant it.

I we can continue working together like this, I'm sure this station might become very productive... Of course we won't have 10 high ranking Navy Officers in here every day, bu who knows what we will get next week, or next month. I'll end this part here, so I can send it while it's fresh.

Au revoir,

'Mother'
This is all very interesting, we finally have a pretty clear picture of the war at sea. I'm sure the naval analysts and enthusiasts within the Committee will be very pleased with this fresh information. The main takeaway is that the Kriegsmarine is down to just the Battleship 'Tirpitz' and some escorts, while the Italian navy can come back quickly, once they get some more escorts ready for action, as all of their Battleships are still afloat. Will they face a Soviet Carrier Fleet in a year's time? We'll have to see about that...
I have to go and sleep now, the trip east was terribly exhausting,


Greetings,

'Odin'
 

markkur

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Enjoying that "Intel" on the French Navy...well done.

On an historical side-note; Darlan has also seemed an interesting character to me. I may be wrong about the man, but in hindsight, (which is always an easy seat from which to judge) he does appear to have been the man to mean what he said; i.e. His stating that if the German's tried to board his ships - he would scuttle them. Of course, we know that he would never be allowed to back those words.
 

roverS3

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A sound approach - the result can be blamed on Fate!

It's always good to be able to deflect the blame when things go horribly wrong...

BTW, in another example of my work imitating AARs (yours and my own in this case), work takes me for a snap trip to Moscow next week! Wasn't expecting it, as it's not in my normal sphere of interest, but as they say "something has come up!" I will get to sample Moscow weather in early October first hand!
Woah! Now that IS destiny.:D
Have a nice trip, as you were destined for it...

Well I am for and I'm sure there are many more that are enjoying this effort and also know RL intervenes. I wish you great success with all.
Enjoying that "Intel" on the French Navy...well done.

Thank you, I value your support and readership.

On an historical side-note; Darlan has also seemed an interesting character to me. I may be wrong about the man, but in hindsight, (which is always an easy seat from which to judge) he does appear to have been the man to mean what he said; i.e. His stating that if the German's tried to board his ships - he would scuttle them. Of course, we know that he would never be allowed to back those words.

Well, we never knew as it was actually his rival de Laborde who executed the pre-Vichy Scuttle order after Darlan's death. As he seemed to consider it the most recent, or only, relevant order telling him what to do if the Germans are about to take over your ships. Despite all his collaboration efforts, offering access and supplies to the Luftwaffe in North-Africa, proposing for the Afrika korps to retreat into Tunisia, helping broker the deal to give Indochina to the Japanese etc., Darlan never offered the Germans the services of his Navy's ships, not even once. That, to me, indicates his willingness to keep the fleet out of foreign hands, at any price. Just like you said.

I actually wrote that digression on the life of the Amiral's, because I was actually taking a lot of notes, in order to plot these people's careers and relation to each other, looking to integrate some of it in the update. As I already had the half-written biography of the three main Amiral's, I just spent an hour making it into coherent sentences, and that way you get a condensed biography of these gentlemen based mostly off French Wikipedia and French Navy forums. (Secondary sources, but I did check the reliability of the quoted primary sources when I had doubts about the information).

The next update will probably be a normal 10-day report. But I'm sure I will write some more narrative reports afterwards, I have some ideas...
 

Eurasia

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Comrades, It sounds like the Germans may be about to get knocked out of the naval war while the Italians are still in the game. Sounds like the UK and France are doing okay but the problem is as the war drags on can France replace any ships that are destroyed? Also while the German Navy may be pounded into ruin - to the point here their U-Boats are being sunk - they can still cause problems with Angry German Naval Bombers.

I am going to say, and I may be wrong this early in the conflict, that the German Navy will not be a threat to us - much of the war against them will be decided on land. And while Italy will still have a dangerous Navy it can't stop the Soviet Armies from taking Italy itself. Europe will be a land conflict.

Now if we can just learn something about the IJN. They will be the only ones who TRULY can protect themselves with a strong Navy.
 
23rd of November 1940, Embargoes and Dice

roverS3

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The 23rd of November, Moscow, -9,5°C, 5pm Moscow time,

'Tri' and I had been called to the Kremlin to discuss the implications of a possible embargo directly with Stalin.

'Tri' was adding up the numbers, making estimates of the implications for both the Soviet Economy, and the Axis economies, when he was interrupted by a middle-aged woman walking into the Secretary General's office without knocking. Comrade Stalin was clearly surprised. Judging by the look on his face he'd never seen this woman before in his life. There was some tension while the woman crossed the 10 meters between the door and the Secretary General's desk...
Then 'Tri' said, looking up from his files, belatedly noticing the looks on our faces:

"It's all right, she works for me"
And indeed, the woman went straight towards 'Tri', not even offering Comrade Stalin or I a second glance, and handed him a piece of paper, before leaving the way she had come, without having uttered a single word. After another 10 seconds of awkward silence while 'Tri' read the piece of paper in question, he turned towards us and said:

"Greece just came into even more trouble.
Yugoslavia&Greece23-11-40.jpeg

< Pointing at the map on the wall >
The Germans have just secured Military Access to Yugoslavia, which means that they can just roll their armies through the country, and into Bulgaria and Italian Albania. Once the troops are in Axis territory, they will be able to resupply and reorganise, before joining the attack on Greece. And the Greeks were doing so well..."
'Tri' was cut off mid sentence by roaring Stalin:

"All right, I've heard enough. The Germans are really going too far, that Greece thing, and now this, forcing a way for their Armies through Yugoslavia... This wasn't part of the pact, and there are some good communists in Greece. I don't care what it will cost us, I want a full embargo on all nations that are at war with Greece. And make sure they know that's why we're doing this!"
'Tri', a scholar of antiquity, just said;

"Alea iacta est"
before leaving the room to arrange the details for the referendum:
The Embargo will be voted on by the Central Committee tomorrow morning, and I'm sure it will pass unanimously, as Stalin stands behind it. The news should be delivered to the governments of Germany, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Italy and Ethiopia, by 1pm Moscow time on the 24th of November 1940.

There was nothing left to discuss, as Stalin had made up his mind. I will now go back to
Vologda to continue working on the next report.

Greetings,

'Odin'
OOC: I threw the dice of Stalin making up his mind, and got a 5, which means a full embargo has to be delivered to the Axis powers fighting Greece.