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roverS3

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I think that's because the on-map unit of "transports" are different from the not-on-map "unit" of "convoys." Since transports don't count towards actually shipping things, convoys didn't count as actual ships.

Regardless, Paradox really doesn't do all that well in handling anything in the naval or air war, and the convoy system in HoI3 (and even in HoIs 2 & 4) are at best, kludge-y.
I do understand why they removed that confusing feature that would have convoys show up in the 'sunk ships' of specific naval units. I don't understand why they didn't replace it with something more accurate and less confusing.

At least no one was licking their fingers to rub on the ball to shine it, which is normal practice in non-pandemic times! And the beers afterwards were cold, but weren't Coronas! ;) Too soon?
That's kinda disgusting... maybe the Corona virus will make some reconsider this practice... It's also not too soon to joke about the Corona virus. If things get much worse some of us might not be around to tell any jokes... Joke away, while you still can!

1. Always like the narrative stuff, whether it's 11 or the rest of the Committee. No need to change any of that, I reckon.
There will be no substantial change to the 'narrative stuff'. I'd like to say I'll be ramping it up a notch, but realistically, the current amount of narrative already takes plenty of time and effort to write. If I manage to save some time on the rest of the process, I'd rather move things along a bit more quickly.

2. The Front (prose) summaries: pretty solid there, though the amount of info you now have to report on, with Barbarossa in full flight, makes too much detailed reporting start to turn into a wall of words and then a very complicated map with lots of numbers on it.
I think the fact of writing the summaries while I'm playing, battle by batte, means that the amount of text is directly correlated with the number of battles, and some overview gets lost.

3. The battle summary lists that follow are perhaps getting to be too much for me (at least) to grapple with in any sensible way. In both TT and Q&D2 (especially, as it is Russia though on some far less crowded battlefields, but then encompassing a whole month at a time), I've started to cut back where I can on the level of detail, especially on smaller skirmishes. And not mentioning them all in the narrative description - maybe the larger or more interesting/pivotal battles, as other have mentioned.
This is definitely an area where I can save a lot of time formatting, and reduce complexity to make the bigger picture easier to read.

The obsessive/complete record part of me may keep a screenshot of every battle's start and finish and, if a big one, progress shots, and tally them all in the spreadsheet, but not report them all in any detail, as I would in TT. Just a few (!?) exceptions.
I'm not so big on screenshots, but I keep track of a lot of data in my spreadsheets. I don't see myself do on-map summaries of the kind you're doing in Q&D2 here, but some more local visual elements could help convey more of the dynamics on the ground.

Key Question to Self: does the extra detail really add to the story or general description of the outcome? Does it get too much to both write up and for readers to make sense of? If so, I try to find ways to cut it back or out. Giving more time to write narrative, less for the reader to wade through; just include the detail that describes the sweep of events clearly. I sometimes look at map-illustrated accounts of WW2 to recalibrate the amount of detail you really need (but then add a bit more in anyway, cos I can't help myself :D).
Do you have any examples of map-illustrated WW2 accounts that you've drawn such inspiration from.

Example: Looking at the Northern German Front summary in the last chapter. The general format is good, but I'm wondering whether there's a bit too much wall of words followed by a map with over 20 battle reference points on it (ie that you need to then skip to and fro to situate). I do like the larger/smaller symbols to depict the size of battles. You know I love a detailed map and battle report, but I think I found it a bit hard to follow it all. A map is good for depicting movement visually: in history books, its usually Army level icons at most, with some arrows, front lines and the occasional major battle marker. It's the arrows that give the representation of movement easily.
I'm definitely going to keep maps of the same size, but reducing the amount of information on the map to make it more intelligible is probably the way to go.

Then there's the triple-telling of info: once in the summary, more in the map, then the detailed battle report list following. It got the point where I just skipped passed the detailed reports, as I'm not sure they added anything more that really needed saying.
The map was meant as a visual reference for the battles mentioned in the text before it, and the report list after it. Having both the text and the battle report list was meant to provide different levels of detail so that a reader would be able to skip the detailed battle reports without missing the big picture, or alternatively a more data-hungry reader could delve into the raw battle data for more information on particular battles. As has become clear to me, there are simply too many battles for even the more motivated and data-hungry readers to poor through all of the battle reports. That indicates the scale is wrong, which brings me to your suggestion:

Suggestion: While you could break it up further, I think you've still got the problem of so much info to report (if you stay at that level) that it must take a lost of time and effort to prepare and it may still make the chapters unwieldy to write and then consume. One suggestion could be to largely retain your format, but to take the level of reporting up one. After all, in a story sense, Stalin and the Committee should perhaps be more interested in the larger scale and (in reality and when it's just the one poor scribe analysing and writing it all up) would probably be looking more at the Army to Army Group level. So in this case, you could try using broadly the same format, but reporting on sectors (perhaps each a little smaller) with a more general description and accompanying map. And instead of having a long list of battle results at the end, just putting in the summary stats: eg 21 battles, Ger won x, Sov y, total cas x & y. Same with air war stats, done by sector rather than the whole front?
This seems like a great compromise. Breaking up the front into sectors, having a short paragraph describing what happened in each sector, accompanied by a map with a few arrows helping visualise that, and then a single tally for the entire sector.

In summary, I reckon it's a great AAR and if you decide not to really change anything, I won't mind at all. :) I worry more about your ability to sustain things (time and nervous energy + RL demands) with such a large and sweeping theatre to report on. And others have made some very good recommendations of other stuff that can help to organise or condense what you do decide to report. But the underlying issue is one of volume (for writer and reader). The same quandary I debate about with my AARs (not just the HOI3 ones, either). :confused:
Volume is the main challenge of this AAR, and I haven't made it easy on myself by collecting so much data as I go.

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the game is, on basic settings, too easy for the average veteran (true, in fairness, for any Paradox title), however the in-game difficulty settings are rather stark and uncompromising to play with, making the AI units just strictly superior to compensate for a poor AI.
That makes sense to me.

As an every-division micromanager myself, I personally appreciate the modded-in difficulty options in HPP which give the AI nations a range of indirect bonuses that enable the AI to resist more effectively at a strategic level without feeling overpowering "in the moment". I'd have a hard time going back and playing Germany, for instance, and running into a brick wall in France because of the difficulty (though I remember one Germany AAR where the authAAR kept pumping up the difficulty as the campaign went on, eventually being surrounded and losing horribly in a quite realistic manner).
I'll keep this in mind if I ever start an AAR where I control every single Division (probably of a smaller nation with fewer of them), sometime in the distant future, when 'Odin' has been wrapped up... (or possibly in parallel, though I doubt I'll have the bandwidth to pull that off anytime soon.)

Anyhow, I get the impression that the average authAAR these days doesn't much like playing a "hardcore" game, and prefers to use the AI HQs to keep the feeling of being a "real" commander while handicapping the player. Our authAARs seem to love narrative and detail more than hardcore gameplay - which makes for a just-fine AAR in my opinion! :D
I guess we're all just a bunch of masochists who intentionally let the AI screw up our games so we have something to whine and write about...:eek:

I insist (so much as any mere readAAR might) that maps should always precede the wall of text they accompany.
Duly noted. I'll keep that in mind when I'm designing the new format for the GPW reports

Related to this, you might find that your maps don't provide the level of detail you'd like, particularly when the front only moves a province either way between updates. It may be worth considering if the front updates should be e.g. monthly, so that there's more salient information per map/post even if the level of detail in the text is necessarily reduced.
I was planning on adding in a line in the maps showing where the front was 50 days ago when we got that far into the war. But maybe 30 days is a better time-frame.

I might add the worthy consideration of replacing numerical detail with narrative, if you're worried about lacking the depth of content you're used to in a post. It may in fact behoove Odin and friends to begin collecting firsthand accounts of the fighting on the ground to assess conditions to aid their decision-making, rather in a similar vein to how historians will quote war diaries and divisional histories whilst discussing a critical engagement. This need not require introducing more characters as in the Odinatsat narrative, one can simply quote unnamed privates or dig into the reports to Stavka from the front commanders.
If I'm looking at the front in sectors, I could bring back Commander quotes, in a similar way to how I used them in the winter war, to add somme spice to the mix.

Since you (@roverS3) particularly seem to like the narrative writing, this may be a natural shift whilst maintaining your usual high level of content, if you feel such a change is warranted. :D
As stated above, the current amount of narrative seems about right to me, and adding personal accounts of soldiers on the ground will require significant amounts of research, even if I don't make them into fully fledged characters. I'd rather put this time into writing and researching the main narrative. Of course, I could always make a singular exception, but I don't think narrative beyond some quotes and the narrative intro will become a regular thing.

Thank you very much for writing such long-form feedback, it will definitely help me out in shaping the future of this AAR. I do wish all of you all the best in navigating the current pandemic and the associated quarantines and restrictions, have a nice day,

RoverS3
 

Wraith11B

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Do you have any examples of map-illustrated WW2 accounts that you've drawn such inspiration from.
If I may, I have several versions of The Historical Atlas of World War II (by Swanson brothers), also Atlas of World War II (by Jordan and Wiest), Jane's Naval History of World War II, and of course the book World War II Infographics. Also, books by Robert Forczyk have a rather good system of time/space limitations and maps to show how the campaigns progressed (He's been doing more of the campaign-focused books lately, which I'm currently reading--Case White, Case Red, We March Against England, Where the Iron Crosses Grow, etc. He's got a great pair of books all about Barbarossa generally, Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front, broken into 1941-42 and 1943-45.

This seems like a great compromise. Breaking up the front into sectors, having a short paragraph describing what happened in each sector, accompanied by a map with a few arrows helping visualise that, and then a single tally for the entire sector.
That sounds like a perfect balance for this AAR!

Volume is the main challenge of this AAR, and I haven't made it easy on myself by collecting so much data as I go.
Believe me, I'm right there with you. I had to go buy a 3TB external HD for all of the images because I overloaded my Google account trying to save them all.

Thank you very much for writing such long-form feedback, it will definitely help me out in shaping the future of this AAR. I do wish all of you all the best in navigating the current pandemic and the associated quarantines and restrictions, have a nice day,

RoverS3
We are always glad to help--maybe only partially because of selfish reasons (we want to keep reading, and we don't want to be skipping over portions of your work!). That said, I think I speak for everyone here to say that we enjoy that you both keep the flame of HoI3 alive and keep us entertained!
 

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I do hope 11 is doing fine, but she is resourceful and the supply flow efficient... They ought to be fine, I reckon. Might it be, that a certain Starshina takes up more of her time than writing letters to the committee does? :p

Two German divisions encircled and captured means this ten-day period was about as good as it can get. Unfortunate to lose an entire SD, but we have a lot more of those than the Germans have Panzer divisions. Victories against the King Tigers, though still few, should give the troops hope, and at least the more southern parts of the front look like they're going on the offensive at least in some areas. Even the north is looking less grim than it did only a couple of updates ago.

If I might suggest a course of action, assigning a submarine flotilla or two to the North Sea to raid supply transports to Norway could pay dividends. The King Tigers will hardly be useful if they are out of fuel, parts and ammunition. Denmark seems rather empty too, and could perhaps be exploited before the Germans fill it with troops. That might throw their entire frontline into chaos, much like the plan for the invasion in the Balkans.

Overall, the losses on both sides are staggering. Still, we can bleed a lot more than the Krauts can - and it might just be my imagination, but the casualty numbers seem a bit better with every update. I do wonder how the Axis are doing when it comes to convoys, as Italy and Germany seem to be losing quite a few.
 

roverS3

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If I may, I have several versions of The Historical Atlas of World War II (by Swanson brothers), also Atlas of World War II (by Jordan and Wiest), Jane's Naval History of World War II, and of course the book World War II Infographics. Also, books by Robert Forczyk have a rather good system of time/space limitations and maps to show how the campaigns progressed (He's been doing more of the campaign-focused books lately, which I'm currently reading--Case White, Case Red, We March Against England, Where the Iron Crosses Grow, etc. He's got a great pair of books all about Barbarossa generally, Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front, broken into 1941-42 and 1943-45.
I'll see what I can find, online or otherwise. In any case, these suggestions are definitely going to be padding my book list...

Believe me, I'm right there with you. I had to go buy a 3TB external HD for all of the images because I overloaded my Google account trying to save them all.
3 TB, isn't that a bit overkill? I haven't had to buy additional storage capacity, not yet anyway. Then again I don't actually take that many screenshots, and I am rather disciplined when it comes to keeping the file-size of graphics in check. There's still plenty of space on my computer's HDD.

We are always glad to help--maybe only partially because of selfish reasons (we want to keep reading, and we don't want to be skipping over portions of your work!). That said, I think I speak for everyone here to say that we enjoy that you both keep the flame of HoI3 alive and keep us entertained!
The pleasure is all mine...

I do hope 11 is doing fine, but she is resourceful and the supply flow efficient... They ought to be fine, I reckon. Might it be, that a certain Starshina takes up more of her time than writing letters to the committee does? :p
That would be in character for her, so maybe we shouldn't worry too much.

Two German divisions encircled and captured means this ten-day period was about as good as it can get. Unfortunate to lose an entire SD, but we have a lot more of those than the Germans have Panzer divisions. Victories against the King Tigers, though still few, should give the troops hope, and at least the more southern parts of the front look like they're going on the offensive at least in some areas. Even the north is looking less grim than it did only a couple of updates ago.
Things are definitely looking up, and that Panzer Division was just the morale boost the Red Army needed.

If I might suggest a course of action, assigning a submarine flotilla or two to the North Sea to raid supply transports to Norway could pay dividends. The King Tigers will hardly be useful if they are out of fuel, parts and ammunition. Denmark seems rather empty too, and could perhaps be exploited before the Germans fill it with troops. That might throw their entire frontline into chaos, much like the plan for the invasion in the Balkans.
This is already the case, though I haven't given convoy raiding that much attention. The amount of convoys sunk is listed under 'North Atlantic', right before the general overview map, in the latest update.

Overall, the losses on both sides are staggering. Still, we can bleed a lot more than the Krauts can - and it might just be my imagination, but the casualty numbers seem a bit better with every update. I do wonder how the Axis are doing when it comes to convoys, as Italy and Germany seem to be losing quite a few.
It's not just you, I've also noticed a slight decline in casualty numbers. This probably has to do with several factors: The arrival of our Tanks at the front, damage to the infrastructure due to fighting and Logistical bombing, disorganisation of units on both sides due to intense fighting in the previous reporting periods.
 

Wraith11B

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Through 1942 I wasn't using screenshots because like you, I was taking notes as I went. Then I realized that the system wasn't going to work as well if I had all three computers on a nation and wanted to keep the game moving along when I played it. Now, in my previous play through, I took almost 500 screenshots just on the computer playing Germany. Granted, I'd say about a quarter to a third of those are "disposable" (ie, for things like announcements or air damage reports which I don't need to preserve), lots are for the ground campaign, or showing the plans for attacks, etc. So they've gotten a bit memory intensive!
 

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Do you have any examples of map-illustrated WW2 accounts that you've drawn such inspiration from.
I will scout around a few of my books and see if I can scan some images. :)
 

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It's not just you, I've also noticed a slight decline in casualty numbers. This probably has to do with several factors: The arrival of our Tanks at the front, damage to the infrastructure due to fighting and Logistical bombing, disorganisation of units on both sides due to intense fighting in the previous reporting periods.
I believe it's mainly the disorganization, as units simply can't stand in a fight and die for as long of a time. There's also some effect due to the breaking-up of a front making the AI more willing to retreat from compromised positions, I'm sure.
 

roverS3

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Through 1942 I wasn't using screenshots because like you, I was taking notes as I went. Then I realized that the system wasn't going to work as well if I had all three computers on a nation and wanted to keep the game moving along when I played it. Now, in my previous play through, I took almost 500 screenshots just on the computer playing Germany. Granted, I'd say about a quarter to a third of those are "disposable" (ie, for things like announcements or air damage reports which I don't need to preserve), lots are for the ground campaign, or showing the plans for attacks, etc. So they've gotten a bit memory intensive!
I understand you're facing an entirely different challenge, that of keeping track of several nations simultaneously. And I'm using 2 computers to keep track of a single one...

I will scout around a few of my books and see if I can scan some images. :)
Thanks.

I believe it's mainly the disorganization, as units simply can't stand in a fight and die for as long of a time. There's also some effect due to the breaking-up of a front making the AI more willing to retreat from compromised positions, I'm sure.
That makes sense.
 

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A last night's sleep before the church sees a fresh wave of Germans coming to play. Somehow I doubt they will reach it. :p
 

Bullfilter

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Hi @roverS3, here is the promised selection of map examples. I hope you don't mind this temporary hijacking of your AAR, but you did ask ... :D

I've combed from a few of my reference books. Some of them are ones I've had for 40+ years (A.J.P. Taylor, Dupuy & Dupuy), some more recent (ie only 30 years old :D). I've included a representative sample, all WW2 and mainly but not limited to the Russian Front. They range from operational to front level, B&W and colour, in a variety of styles and levels of detail. To acknowledge them properly, the book title page is given for each section. NB, these are just quickly done photos off my phone, cropped a bit, not presentation standard scans ;)

#####


1. Dupuy & Dupuy. This is a really excellent general overview of the development of warfare through the ages, not just history and battles, but developments in equipment, organisation and tactics for the various periods. Originally published in 1970, this edition updated in 1977. It was a father and son team, both former US Army Colonels and prolific military historians.









#####


2. A.J.P. Taylor. He was one of the eminent British historians of his era. Uses a panel of eminent (in turn) military historians for the various sections. If you've ever seen that great old TV series 'The World at War', it is rather similar in style to that. Written around 1968-70, this edition 1974. So the events were all much fresher in living memory, though of course so much has been revealed since, especially after the fall of the USSR. A treasured book of my collection. I have one he did in a similar vein for WW1.




NB: I particularly like the way colour was used to depict the the advances of the three Army Groups, with the little insets for each commander and a general orbat for each group, then the large scale front and smaller scale operational depictions of the same campaign.



#####


3. Mantale. A little more recent (published in 1989). This was a gift: it's mainly an illustration-heavy walk through of the war, with a few maps in it. The use of forewords by the sons of three of the leading commanders is a nice little touch and POD. The Barbarossa map on this one is very simplistic, but I included it as it was more concentrated on showing the front lines at progressive dates, the arrows giving more a general idea of movement and broad offensives.



#####


4. Pitt & Pitt. 1989 as well. Another of those 'broad overview', coffee-table style books. But map-heavy, of course, with text boxes for each map to describe it's content in broad terms. Quite applicable (as most of these are) to a broader level history-book AAR approach (none of these are div-corps level portrayals of the Eastern Front: so big it would be a mammoth task if done for the whole front in that level of detail, of course).


A different style used in this one too, quite clever with the shaded overlay for territory gained, with the arrows actually being a lack of overlay. Might be possible to replicate with a sophisticated enough graphics program. Or otherwise quite suited to the way the 'political' map in HOI3 shows occupied territory anyway.


Different use of colour and arrows again on this one, more similar to a 'classic' HOI3 map, using the arrows and icons provided in-game on the little map editor.


Back to the Eastern Front.


And finishing off with the great fight back, so it's not all one-sided. ;)
Hope these are of a little use. Going through them again has actually given me a few little ideas for my own work to tweak up the map presentation a little. :D
 
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Wraith11B

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roverS3

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A last night's sleep before the church sees a fresh wave of Germans coming to play. Somehow I doubt they will reach it. :p
Welcome @Cromwell , always nice to have a new name commenting on my work. I'm loving your confidence in the Red Army, and in that one sniper in particular. I apologise for creating a cliff-hanger and then making you all wait so long for what comes next. The wait won't be much longer, I've got some time to write again.

Hi @roverS3, here is the promised selection of map examples. I hope you don't mind this temporary hijacking of your AAR, but you did ask ... :D
I did ask, and I don't mind. I gladly embrace this kind of high-jacking.

I've combed from a few of my reference books. Some of them are ones I've had for 40+ years (A.J.P. Taylor, Dupuy & Dupuy), some more recent (ie only 30 years old :D). I've included a representative sample, all WW2 and mainly but not limited to the Russian Front. They range from operational to front level, B&W and colour, in a variety of styles and levels of detail. To acknowledge them properly, the book title page is given for each section. NB, these are just quickly done photos off my phone, cropped a bit, not presentation standard scans ;)
Photos are good enough for me. Thanks for posting these. I really like the variety and will definitely be looking at this for inspiration when I make the new templates for the next GPW updates.
 

El Pip

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What an informative discussion on mapping and graphics, there was a bit of AAR in there as well but that was clearly not the main event. ( ;) :D ).

As always I remain impressed at your ability to wrangle so much data @roverS3 , it captures the shear scale of the Eastern Front like very few other works here do.
 

roverS3

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What an informative discussion on mapping and graphics, there was a bit of AAR in there as well but that was clearly not the main event. ( ;) :D ).
These diversions are still nothing compared to what happens in The Butterfly Effect. In this case, the main event is directly linked to the AAR as it helps me shape the way I represent the GPW going forward.

As always I remain impressed at your ability to wrangle so much data @roverS3 , it captures the shear scale of the Eastern Front like very few other works here do.
Thank you for the kind words. Comments like these motivate me to keep up the data wrangling and to keep reporting extensive amounts of it. One of the challenges I gave myself with this AAR was to reconcile the sheer scale of the Soviet Union with my tendency to gather loads of data from my games and to attempt to make sense of it all.

Thanks for the welcome @roverS3 and no need for any apologies, I know updates of your quality must take time.
Thanks for the vote of confidence. Not long now before the next update.
 

Wraith11B

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I for one can not wait for the update!
 
2nd of August 1942, 'Odin', 'Odinatsat': Lend-Lease & the cost of war.

roverS3

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The 2nd of August 1942, Vologda, 2,6°C, 8pm Moscow Time

There wasn't much sleep to be had last night. A plan on how to best use the American lend-lease aid had to be ready and communicated to Comrade Stalin by 7am, and to the American delegation by 8am. An encrypted radio link was set up between Helsingör and Vologda, so that we may have the advice form our team of 'retired' Generals on some practical matters. Of course, the advice of our esteemed Turkish advisor Boga Filtresi on these matters was also most valuable.

The replacement of lost Divisions was an absolute priority for Stalin, and thus the first item to be listed was the training of a new Opolcheniye Division and support Regiments, in order to replace 2 SD as quickly as possible. This decision was unanimous and took all of 5 minutes.

Rocket Test site construction was up next. After a short (by his standards), lecture from Vosem on the potential applications of rocket technology, most of us, including the esteemed Boga Filtresi, were in agreement that the construction of such a site was not only desirable, but necessary. Thus, the go-ahead was given to allocate resources to the construction of a Rocket Test site in the Kaputsin Yar area, to the South-East of Stalingrad. Our Rocket Scientists had already selected the location and proposed a rough layout, just in case we decided to go ahead and fund it. Of course, only work on the first stage of the proposed installations has been given the go-ahead. The scientist's dreams being of a much larger scale than the resources that can be made available.

A thorough report on the state of Finnish counter-insurgency effort sparked debate about what further measures could, or should, be taken. It wasn't entirely clear who had sent in the report, all that was known was that the man was Finnish, a Major of State Security in the GUGB (Main State Security Directorate, part of the NKVD), and that he has never been seen without american aviator sunglasses. These unusual glasses (in the Soviet Union) have the effect of drawing all the attention of his interlocutors, to the point where no-one seems to remember anything about him, except for the sunglasses and the Finnish accent. For lack of remembering his strange Finnish name, most refer to him as @Finshades

AviatorSunglassesWW2-min.jpg
The American Aviator sunglasses of the Finnish NKVD Major of State Security.
It was decided that a couple of small static peace-keeping units (Gar, Pol) will be trained and deployed to suppress dissent in and around factory complexes in the Finnish interior, with the additional benefit of keeping the factories out of rebel hands. These units will be part of the NKGBF and will be called NKGBF Mirotvorcheskaya Brigada (NKGBF Peace-keeping Brigade). Of course, the Grunts will be recruited amongst local communists and the officers will be from the Soviet Union itself. They will all be trained by NKGB and NKVD instructors to be most effective. The first such brigades will start training as soon as possible, with US-supplied submachine guns, a few BAR 1918s, and trusty Tokarev's.

For testing purposes, an order was placed for 124 P-39 Interceptors. With ever more luftwaffe aeroplanes over the front, some more Fighter capacity should come in handy in maintaining our current advantage.

Similarly, the Navy Air Fleet will be getting an entire US-built CAG with a total of 32 F4F Wildcats, 16 SBD Dauntlesses and 16 TBD Devastators, in addition to spare parts and a few training aeroplanes. The more CAGs the navy has, the bolder our surface fleet can be.

We were just getting started at this point. Most of our 'retired' Generals believe we can sustain our efforts on the main front and make the Germans pay dearly for every inch of land, without increasing production and training rates. That means we can start planning for a second front sooner than anticipated, all thanks to American self-interested generosity.

The rest of the order was to be geared towards the build-up of a force for a Naval invasion of Bulgaria and the creation of a Balkans front. The forces needed for a Balkans operation to have a lasting impact, and for us to have a decent shot at knocking out Bulgaria and holding on to the ground we take there are estimated as follows:
- Marines for the initial landings on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast: At least 2 Divisions. (Half a Division was already in production before Lend-Lease)
- 1 Mountain Rifle Corps to be taken from the Turkish Border.
- 2 Rifle Corps to be taken from the Romanian border, and Southern Reserves. (some of these units still need to get an Art Regiment)
- 1 Corps of fast exploitation units to grab as much ground as possible before the Axis can react in force: Armoured Cavalry or Motorised.
- Paratroopers: 2 Square Divisions and sufficient transport planes should be available by November to support the start of the operation.
For starters, 6.000 more Marines will start training to round out our first Marines Division.

The issue of what shape the mobile units should take was a bit more difficult. The current rough plan is to land the mobile units as quickly as possible, immediately after grabbing the first harbour, be it in Bulgaria, or in Greece. We don't anticipate having a massive transport fleet. A total of 20 large freighters with a sealift capacity of 160.000 tonnes is all that will be available by the end of the year. This means that the units shouldn't be too heavy, 40.000 tonnes is seen as the limit. The fact that most of the equipment will have to be ordered from the united states excludes tanks, half-tracks, Armoured Cars, and Tank Destroyers. Eventually, the new Light Motorised Division (USLL) (Motx2, SP-Art) was created, and two of these new Divisions will start training, while they wait for their Studebaker 6x6 lorries, and GMC M12 Self-Propelled Guns (a 152mm variant to fit Soviet ammunition). This is a substantial order, with around 600 6x6 lorries to be delivered over little more than 100 days, and that's only the lorries organic to the divisions, plenty of 6x4 Studebakers in various configurations will be delivered to ensure the transport of supplies to the front, from railway yards and Harbours.

The Americans have indicated that a further increase in Lend-Lease aid is likely, especially if the first deliveries go smoothly. Next up on the wishlist are 2-3 more of those Light Motorised Divisions (USLL), an Assault Aviation Regiment's worth of 64 Douglas A-20 Havoc Asault Planes. It was determined only 64 A-20s would be needed to deliver the same payboad as 124 Il-10s. (see previous report on what the Americans are offering)

Additional capacity freed up by the delivery of even more supplies than under the current arrangement would go to the traning of more Marines and the production of more Artillery. In that regard, we will make it perfectly clear that the more Lend-Lease Aid they send our way, the sooner we will be able to open up a new front, maybe even before the new year. Of course, we didn't tell them exactly where we would open up this new front, lest they start blabbing to the Brits. We simply indicate we will be deciding where we create a second front depending on the circumstances at a future time, when sufficient forces have been amassed for such an operation.

There is this one issue concerning an invasion of the Balkans that remains somewhat thorny, and that is the British occupation of Athina. If we invade Bulgaria with an entire Army, Axis forces in the Area will be diverted to try and stem the red tide. As a direct consequence, the British could end up grabbing most of Greece with very little effort. A few more Divisions on their part would probably be enough to do so before our forces can get close, and after that, if our operation is successful, they won't have to worry about their Northern border. The crux is that for that to turn out in the British's advantage, they need to hold on to Athina. We're all rooting for the Italians to throw them out before we start to invade, so we can take most, or all, of Greece. In the name of the Greek proletariat and international Communism, of course. As the British government wasn't invited to the Helsingör conference, they couldn't very well bring up their objections to a Soviet Invasion of Northern Africa, or their support for a Soviet operation in Bulgaria.

In short the items that have been added to the production list are the following:
- Garx3
- Art, At
- Rocket Test Site (Kaputsin Yar)
- Gar, Pol (NKGBF)
- Int
- CAG
- Marx2
- (Motx2, SP-Art) x2
The proposals, including the suggestion of the Soviet Union opening up a second front were well recieved by US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. who was glad to hear the US materiel would be put to good use. A USMC Colonel who was along for the ride was excited about the prospect of Soviet Marines landing on Axis beaches. The Treasury Secretary's press officer was openly salivating at the prospect of publishing stories of Studebaker lorries filled with riflemen, rolling through Axis lands in the context of a daring operation to create a second front. He said something about such a story motivating American factory workers and increasing the nation's support for actual US boots on the ground in some ill-defined future. This, of course elicited some muffled grumbling from some of our own diplomats, especially those with close friends or family members in the Red Army.

00-lend-lease-posters-01-ussr-min.jpg
The press officer also showed us a brand new poster to explain to the Americans just why sending lend-lease aid to the USSR is a good idea. We are their friends...
Soon, we were back at Copenhagen Airport, with the Americans being waved off as they boarded the C-87 "Guess Where II" and took off towards Sweden, and on to Iceland.

We returned to the Soviet mainland in the same way we got there, in the Li-2 decoy aeroplane. As we returned to our Vologda base, a letter had arrived. It was marked 'XI':

The 2nd of August 1942, Kyiv City Clinical Hospital No.18, 10,4°C, 3pm Moscow Time

My dear 'Odin'

You'll be glad to know I'm alive. To be precise, I'm lucky to be alive. To tell you how I got here, I need to go back to the morning of the 27th of July.

I was awakened by Private Lobovskaya at 5:30, as planned. One of Sergeant Bylinkin's men brought up breakfast rations, two servings for everyone, to compensate for the previous day's meagre rations. Halfway through breakfast, things grew quiet to the West of the Church, where the Germans were positioned there wasn't a sound, as if they were all collectively holding their breath in anticipation. We were also eating breakfast as quietly as possible. The noise made by our own vehicles and troops located to the East of the church seemed almost rude in the face of such beautiful silence. Private Kovalchuk wasn't eating, not yet, he was on watch, lying on his belly, his SVT-40 right next to him, binoculars glued to his eyes, scanning the German-held area for any potential threats or targets. There was no movement. What were they doing? What was our own side doing? I wanted to get on the radio to ask Maj. General Novikov's staff what the plan was. Why weren't the Germans being pushed out of the city at dawn? But, I wanted the silence to last, for all of us to enjoy this moment of calm before the storm. Things were bound to get very loud, very soon. The Red Army hadn't brought in thousands of Artillery shells by train, and distributed them to gun crews overnight, just so they could gather dust. Outside of Kovalchuk, Private Yevtushenko was closest to the window on the Western side. He put down his breakfast, and got up, quietly. I registered he was getting up but didn't say anything, expecting he would go get something from his field bed or his pack, possibly cigarettes. I was quite hungry after that day on half rations. When I looked up to see what Yevtushenko was doing, he wasn't near his field bed. Drawn by the silence and the early morning light, he was standing right in front of the window on the German side, right next to Kovalchuk, who hadn't noticed him. Yevtushenko isn't a very tall man, but he was standing up straight. The sun wasn't high enough to blind German observers, but it was high enough for them to have enough light to notice him if they gave our tower even a cursory glance. I broke the silence and yelled.

"Yevtushenko! Get away from the window!"
He seemed startled, hesitating, as if I had just pulled him out of a trance. He kept standing in front of that window, turning towards me ever so slowly. Now that I look back, I'm not sure his movements were as slow as I remember them. These kinds of moments tend to be slowed down in my mind. Hoping to get him out of the way I yelled:

"Get down!"
But before the words had left my mouth, there was a single shot, Private Yevtushenko fell to the floor. He didn't scream, or yell, or shake, he just collapsed on the floor. He looked at me, not understanding what had just happened, then he looked down at his stomach. Blood was gushing out of the bullet-wound. Everyone in the room was just staring at the bullet-wound. I quickly yelled my orders, all the while grabbing my Nosin-Nagant, and my map of the area:

"Lobovskaya. Try to stem the bleeding, help him out!"

"Neyizhkaya, radio for the medic."

"Kovalchuk. Tell me where the shot came from?"
I laid down right next to him, ready to shoulder my rifle and fire. I was shaking as I put down the map between the two of us. All my pain and hatred, which had somewhat moved to the back of my mind recently, came flooding back. I was hungry for revenge, hungrier than ever. I only just stopped myself from opening fire on every shadow I could see in the German-controlled are of the city. People get shot in a war, and the soldier on the other side is just doing his job. When you lose that perspective entirely, you're bound to make mistakes. I thought of Sergei, and I knew I wouldn't make a mistake, I couldn't. I snapped myself out of it, Kovalchuk had started talking, he pointed at the map.

"I think it came from that building there, on the corner. I didn't see the flash, but that's where the sound came from."
All through the German-occupied area, engines sprang to life and orders were shouted, but I didn't really pay that much attention to the German movements.

"Kovalchuk, I'll handle this. You keep an eye on their movements."

"Neyizhkaya, get over here with a pencil."
The radio operator rushed over to my side, staying low to avoid a repeat of what happened to Private Yevtushenko. He was terrified, shaking and sweating.

"Radio 78 AP Regimental HQ directly, and tell them I'd really appreciate it if they could flatten this particular area."
I grabbed his pencil and drew a circle wih a radius of about 30m (to scale) around the building the shot had come from.

"If anyone asks why, tell them there are Germans there, and they have more 152mm shells than they know what to do with."
At that moment, Sergeant medic Mikhaylova rushed into the room, followed by two privates with a stretcher.

Kovalchuk was still looking out of the window, he suddenly grabbed his SVT-40, and yelled.

"Captain. The Germans are making their move. Looks like the start of a full-blown assault."

"Fire at will private."

"Sergeant, get private Yevtushenko out of here as soon as possible."
Kovalchuk had started shooting now. I rushed back to the window and let the medic, Lobovskaya, and the two privates from the rifle squad downstairs deal with trasporting the wounded Yevtushenko to safety. Entire German Platoons were rushing forwards methodically and agressively, lobbing grenades into our positions and charging ahead, aided by supporting fire provided by Pz IVs. It seemed to be working, despite relatively heavy casualties on thier side, they were making progress and getting dangerously close to the Church. We got in a few shots, but there were too many advancing enemies for us to make much of a dent. Then, there was a big rumble to the East, soon followed by the explosion of half a housing block, centred on the building the enemy shooter had been in. A concentrated artillery strike is a powerful thing. It was as if time had stopped and as most on the battlefield were pausing briefly to look at the devastation, others were taking advantage of the distraction. This was the moment for a Counter-Attack, IS-2's supported by a fresh Guards Rifle Company, rushed to the front to strike back. German medics rushed towards the ruins of what used to be a bunch of perfectly nice 19th century bourgeois house.

Suddenly, there was a massive explosion right above myself and Private Kovalchuk. The air around us was burning, and bits of stone and searing shrapnel were raining down on us. Kovalchuk was stunned, I glanced up to check for more falling debris, just in time to see a massive block of stone from the window's arch starting to fall straight towards our heads. I threw my body to the side to avoid getting crushed, it was only just enough, as I found that my right leg was stuck underneath some debris, and quite possibly broken. I looked back at Kovalchuk, but there wasn't much to look at, his head had been crushed to a pulp, I had to force myself to not throw up, and I really started to feel the pain from my injuries. I looked up again, and the remaining parts of the arch above my head were still in place, rather precariously. Another hit would probably collapse the entire arch and crush me too, it's not like I could run off with my leg stuck under several blocks that had been part of the ceiling. I was lucky it wasn't crushed entirely.

StElizabeth-min.jpg
Approximately where the 88mm shell impacted the tower.
I looked into the room, what remained of it anyway. Except for some superficial wounds from shrapnel, private Neyizhkaya was unharmed, at least physically. His entire breakfast was to be found on the floor, and his face was pale. I was starting to lose focus, not sure whether it was the blood loss or the exhaustion. I yelled at the radio operator to radio for help, but he was just staring at me, and at Kovalchuk's headless, motionless, body. I looked out of what used to be the window. We were winning on the ground. Our Artillery continued to shell enemy positions. The dead bodies with grey uniforms were piling up, and the fighting was quickly moving into the distance, towards the suburbs. I soon noticed the burnt-out remains of a FlaK-88 gun that was pointed squarely at the tower. It must have been moved up and camouflaged overnight with the express purpose of taking out our perch. At least no more shells would be coming our way. I don't know how long I laid there, going in and out of consciousness. The next thing I remember is the weight being lifted from my leg, and being carried down the stairs on a stretcher. Sr. sergeant Bondarchuk was talking to me the whole way to a waiting lorry. He was riling me up, telling me he was going to take over the unit, that he would do a much better job than a weak woman who can't even take an Artillery shell like a man. He made me angry, he made me want to prove him wrong. In retrospect, I do believe he did it on purpose, and that he may have saved my life by keeping my heart-rate elevated. I was in great pain, but I had to keep fighting.

I remember waking briefly inside an aeroplane, my very own Sergei was playing cards with Major Balabanov next to the bed. Sergeant Medic Mikhaylova was also there, she was writing on a medical card, probably mine. Every vibration of the plane sent searing pain through my leg and I could feel the burns on my back, head, and arm. I think I let out a scream when we hit some turbulence, before passing out from the pain.

KyivHospital-min.jpg
Kyiv City Clinical Hospital No.18. Located on Bibikovsky Boulevard, the first two-story building opened in 1885, housing therapeutic and surgical clinics. A separate building housing a pathonanatomical institute was added in 1894. Finally, an extension was built in 1899 to house a library, maternity beds, gynological wards, and a water treatment facility. From the start, it was planned as a University Hospital, and it continues to be one of the teaching hospitals of the Bogomolets National Medical University, the foremost medical faculty in Ukraine.
I woke up again in a civilian ambulance. Only Sr. Sergeant Mikhaylova was in the back with me on the way to our destination. She informed me I had arrived in Kyiv City Clinical Hospital No.18, before taking her leave. I soon learned that my recovery was the personal responsibility of Prof. Dr. O. P. Krymov, head of the surgery department at the Kiyv Medical Institute. Once in the hospital, I was injected with copious amounts of morphine to dull the pain, and told they would be operating soon. Things became a blur again, one operation faded into another. I would become lucid at odd times, with the morphine wearing off, usually in the middle of the night. After 6 nights and 5 days in the hospital, or so I was told (it felt a lot longer than that) I was starting to recover a little. The operations are over, unless there are further complications, I just need to rest now.

I had a few visitors this morning. Sergei came by, he had been transfered back to Kyiv Air Base as the 7th battle of Lwow was still raging. Officially, he was to prepare for an influx of damaged aeroplanes engines that would be sent over from Lwow to Kyiv by train to be refurbished, but we both knew his transfer was as much of a coincidence as his previous one had been. This was confirmed by the presence of a second visitor. Major Balabanov was there to pass on the news that private Yevtushenko had had some serious complications from his gunshot wound to the gut. He was still alive, but it wasn't clear whether it was going to stay that way for very long. He also passed on a congratulatory note from Lt. General Popov, and a medal:

Captain Goleniewsky. When I assigned you this mission, I believed you would probably not come out of it in one piece, if at all, and yet here we are. I didn't send you the cream of the crop, and yet you quickly whipped them into an effective team of snipers. I expected you and your unit to hold the Church for a few days, maybe a week, and you defended your nest for two weeks before the krauts managed to hit it with an 88mm round. One of your men has died, another two were wounded, one of them may still die. They chose to be there and fight under your command, and they were heroes. Considering the enemy knew your location, and beleived it to be a key observation post for the coordination of the city's defense, it's a miracle you didn't suffer more casualties. You should be proud of what you have achieved. Your unit killed at least 20 enemy combattants, wounding about twice that number. You have proven to be an exceptional soldier and officer, you make me proud, you make the Red Army Guards proud, you make the Soviet Union proud. You are to be awarded the order of Aleksander Nevsky for your personal courage and resolute leadership. I took the initiative to have you placed in the care of the best surgeon in the Ukranian SSR, and arranged for your friend to be transferred again. What you do once you get back on your feet is up to you, I will keep my word as far as I will pull strings for you. If you decide to take the Major's exam, I will ensure your promotion to Major. Regardless, I will help you get whichever posting you want, within reason. I wish you a speedy recovery and may you serve the Soviet Union for many years to come.
Order-of-ALexander-Nevsky-min.jpg
The order of Alexander Nevsky, awarded to CO's of Platoons, Company's Battalions, or Regiments, for personal courage and resolute leadership. Over 42.000 were awarded during the Great Patriotic war.
I don't know how long it will take for me to get back to my fighting strength. I have to wear a cast for 2-3 months, and then I'll have to learn to walk again and build muscle. This isn't going to be easy. I'm having nightmares about private Kovalchuk's death. Did I do something wrong? Did I miss something? Could I have spotted the FlaK-88 before it shot the church? Should it have been my head that was crushed by that block of stone? Luckily I have Sergei, who spends every free moment he has at my bedside. Even though I can tell it pains him to see me this way, he comforts and distracts me. He tells me (often embellished) stories of badly damaged aeroplanes that get to fly again, about brave pilots who don't like talk about their exploits, about swaggering pilots who tell innumerable stories of often doubtful veracity, not to mention the gossip about romantic entanglements and the smuggling of black market goods. When he runs of out of stories to tell, we just hold hands in silence. I want to go back out there, I'm not sure when or how that will be possible, but one thing is clear: My thirst for Teutonic blood has not subsided, if anything, it has been amplified. I went through hell back in Poland, and I survived. I will get through this ordeal just fine, and I just hope the war isn't over by the time I get back on my feet.

I hope you weren't too worried about me. Come visit sometime,

Capt. Irina Alexandrovich Goleniewsky (aka. 11)
I will go visit 'Odinatsat' in hospital as soon as possible. In the meantime, there is still work to be done to manage the influx of American Lend-Lease weapons and goods, and to accommodate the American Military attachés which will be arriving in the days to come. I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing Captian Goleniewsky a speedy and painless recovery,

'Odin'
bohomolets-surgery-O.P.Krymov-min.jpg
O.P. Krymov was a celebrated Ukrainian surgeon, scientist, and pedagogue. He was appointed head of the department of Surgery in 1930 and remained in this position until 1955. Before becoming head of the department, he was elected by his peers as Chairman of the Kyiv Physico-medical society in 1919. In 1928 he became head of the Kyiv Surgical Society. In 1948, Krymov was elected Chairman of the Congress of Surgeons of the USSR. His research was focused on 4 areas in particular: Military field surgery, kidney disease, herniology, and the history of Ukrainian medicine.
 

Bullfilter

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Great update!
Of course, the advice of our esteemed Turkish advisor Boga Filtresi on these matters was also most valuable.
You are very kind. I’m still trying to get Turkey to join the Comintern in this time line, but it isn’t easy. ;)

Rocket Test site construction was up next. After a short (by his standards), lecture from Vosem on the potential applications of rocket technology, most of us, including the esteemed Boga Filtresi, were in agreement that the construction of such a site was not only desirable, but necessary.
Rockets? Vur ha!

These unusual glasses (in the Soviet Union) have the effect of drawing all the attention of his interlocutors, to the point where no-one seems to remember anything about him, except for the sunglasses and the Finnish accent.
Very good. :D Congrats @Finshades :cool:
and trusty Tokarev's.
Ahem, we know what they will be used for. :eek:

the British could end up grabbing most of Greece with very little effort.
Well, that means you’re probably safe then, as very little effort is normally beyond them! :rolleyes:

11 at least made it out alive and is getting unusually good care under the circumstances. She’ll be itching to get back to it once recovered, I’m sure.
 
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Cromwell

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An update I'm been looking forwards to for a long time and it didn't disappoint! For a while I was worried Senior Sergeant Bondarchuk might die, so I was happy to see he got through OK. You set him up very well in your last "church update" before this one. I hope we see more from him.

Onwards and upwards for our heroine, the order of Alexander Nevsky and a guarantee of promotion to Major if she recovers. Very satisfying to see.
 

roverS3

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Great update!
An update I'm been looking forwards to for a long time and it didn't disappoint!
It's a rather pivotal episode in 11's story. I really wanted to strike the right balance, to make sure the wounds were consistent with the impact of an 88mm HE shell, that the characters didn't get off too lightly. I rewrote the whole starting sequence of her letter several times. I also took a deep dive into the Ukrainian medical world. I'm glad it paid off, and you have not been disappointed...

You are very kind. I’m still trying to get Turkey to join the Comintern in this time line, but it isn’t easy. ;)
Yours definitely seems to be a minority opinion amongst the Turkish leadership.

Ahem, we know what they will be used for. :eek:
What else would you use a Tokarev for?

Well, that means you’re probably safe then, as very little effort is normally beyond them! :rolleyes:
Yes, usually, but I can't help but notice that their Division in Athina has held for a lot longer than those Marines XI landed in Athina with.

11 at least made it out alive and is getting unusually good care under the circumstances. She’ll be itching to get back to it once recovered, I’m sure.
Yes, making the top surgeon in the Ukraine SSR personally responsible for the recovery of a Captain is rather unusual, but if a respected Red Army Guards Lt. General demands it, it will be done without question, especially during wartime. As to getting back to killing Germans, I'm sure she's itching for that right now.

Onwards and upwards for our heroine, the order of Alexander Nevsky and a guarantee of promotion to Major if she recovers. Very satisfying to see.
I'm satisfied if my readers are satisfied...

For a while I was worried Senior Sergeant Bondarchuk might die, so I was happy to see he got through OK. You set him up very well in your last "church update" before this one. I hope we see more from him.
I have several options in mind for 11's future (no spoilers here). Sr. Sergeant Bondarchuk may play a role in them. I like the dynamic between Goleniewsky and Bondarchuk, so a return is definitely in the cards. I did consider having Bondarchuk die, but there were several elements that worked against that: Firstly, the in-game indicators of the battle in question weren't that bad, and there were no Luftwaffe bombing missions over Lwow. Bondarchuk was at less risk as he was in one of the smaller towers, and with more than a decade of experience, he is much less likely to make a deadly mistake. Of course, I also wanted him to survive. That said, I am not ruling out killing off a character. Even 11's plot armour is not impervious...
 
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