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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Introduction
  • Bullfilter

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    The time has come for another 'summer project': the long-mooted sequel to Quick & Dirty Part 1, which dealt with the French fight for survival and victory (see France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR). That AAR ended in March 1944 with an Allied World Order victory and the Soviet Union limping through to a stalemate win in the west (Finland and most of Romania being its only real gains) and a deep incursion by Japan in the Far East. Most of Europe was united under the Allied UN banner.

    After this, all countries that could be were liberated as democratic Allied puppets and every option in the standard game for decolonisation that could be taken was, but leaving them all under the Allied banner. See this chapter from Q&D1 for the details:
    France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR – 1936 Start - Last Chapter

    Here is a brief summary though for those who may not wish to go back for all the detail:

    New Map of Europe

    Western Poland is back, but the Soviets still occupy a small chunk (one province) of central Poland – and all of Eastern Poland, which they absorbed under the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939. Finland remains a government-in-exile, its territory occupied by the Soviet Union.



    A Post-Colonial World


    Indo-China was liberated, even though it is significantly occupied by Japan.


    Here are the current members of the United Nations of the Democratic World Order.


    And the map of the world as at 21 March 1944.



    ******
    In Moscow, Josef Stalin contemplated the capitalist-imperialist ‘New Democratic World Order’. And he didn’t like what he saw. He would dearly love to see a new Communist World Order to replace these bourgeois United Nations. The Comintern is destined to grow and replace the Allies. Even if it takes years to achieve. But first there is still a war to be won against the Fascist Japanese. He would see how the Allies were placed after that – and maybe strike if they did not appear ready.





    ******
    That brings us to the present. I will play now as the Soviet Union, starting way behind the French-led Allies who have already achieved their 12 victory conditions and control virtually all of Europe. The USSR has been under AI control since January 1936. They had a significant German incursion until France defeated them and still face a major Japanese occupation of the Soviet Far East.

    This AAR will take the same no-frills, no-narrative, no-character, no-additional-pictures approach of France: Quick and Dirty. Except now trying to undo all of de Gaulle’s good work and see if the Axis can be fully defeated and a dominant Allied faction can be wound back.

    This time though, the game is being played as an AAR vehicle, so I can capture screen shots as I go, rather than relying on old game saves and a hazy memory. To keep the same quick flavour though, it will be kept to a month a chapter, no matter how much action takes place. Most combat will be recounted in summary form, but significant or indicative battles will be covered in a little more detail.

    In terms of play, Soviet land combat will be largely run by the AI, with human control at either the Theatre or (where things are more active) Army Group/Front level. Air units will be allocated to AI control. This should make the Soviet task even harder (and the game quicker to play). Navies will be human-controlled when in combat and all non-combat aspects will also be human controlled (tech, production, intel, diplomacy etc).

    The only real broad objectives are as stated above: roll back the Japanese occupation of the Soviet Far East, then start to gain victory conditions and see if Allied supremacy can be wound back. No specific game end-date in mind as yet, but it won't go forever. One thing I'm taking up is the rapid (as possible) development of nuclear weapons as an in-game challenge. Soviet research in that area remains pretty basic (can't build a research reactor yet).

    The first new chapter will be posted soon.
     
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    Chapter 1 – 21-31 March 1944
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    Chapter 1 – 21-31 March 1944

    Note: The rest of march and all of April have been played through so far. I’ll be editing in retrospect after playing sessions that are as long as I can manage them to try for game AI continuity.

    Initial Setup

    This is where the victory conditions were when I changed from France to the Soviet Union at 1100hr on 21 March 1944. Lots of work to do.


    Training laws changed from Basic to Advanced Training. A compromise for slightly better starting experience vs not wanting to slow recruiting time too much.


    Here is the general position in the Far East.


    And the initial Far Eastern Theatre setup – just the one Front (Army Group) under command, four garrison divisions and air assets (not shown). Defensive stance set on land, offensive in the air and at sea.


    Here's Europe, where Finland and most of Romania (with French patches) are occupied by the USSR.


    Diplomatically, only Mongolia and Sinkiang are in the Comintern, while the Soviets are influencing Republican Spain (not a bad idea).


    The production queue had five mech divisions on the way, a HArm and paratroop division, four interceptor wings, a TAC wing, four transports … and a battleship! Of note, I also discovered 30+ IC going on lend-lease to France and the UK – that was quickly stopped! There is meant to be lend-lease coming from the US, but it is routed through Vladivostok, which of course occupied by the Japanese … and it seems I can’t create a new route. Still, that extra 30 IC sure helps bring production up to speed.


    The inherited leadership distribution and AI research plan is shown here. I have selected an assortment of the areas I consider to be key research priorities and where they stand at present. Infantry gear isn’t too bad, but I want all the 1944 level 6 techs under research ASAP. That will have a big impact on the upgrade budget, but it’s vital. Light and medium tank research is also pretty reasonable, as are heavy tanks. With Germany now out of the war, that may not be a key immediate priority, but later, perhaps against the Allies …

    Light aircraft research is a bit behind the times – that will need to be improved later for tangling with the Allies. The important industrial, supply and other key support lines are looking good. I need to keep the nuclear research going – Civil 1 is currently being researched and that’s just too slow for my purposes.


    Some of those research topics are going to be terminated when they’re done while I fill up my key ones – especially the naval ones, which I may want eventually, but for now are a bit of a luxury.

    In doctrine research I’m really only interested in two at the moment: land and air. Land is pretty good, though I’ll have to get around to getting Superior Firepower fixed when I get the chance. Air is a bit tardy and I’d rather more focus on Fighter Pilot and Ground Crew Training, TAC Ground Crew as well. CAS is more advanced.


    The new management means a review of the Soviet Ministry and a range of changes. And the part of Romania we currently occupy will be ‘liberated’ to join the Comintern as a puppet. Of interest, the PNC fills every appointment, despite being run by the Comintern, commanding only 4% of the political share and being entitled to no Cabinet positions! Ah well, will let that one go.


    Intel is looking pretty rubbish – only one agent survives in another country: Bulgaria. I switch the priority there to counter-espionage and cancel all other priorities for other countries to see how that goes.


    This is a general indication of how the Theatre commands are set up. Four in the west (Europe and Central Asia). All of these are left under AI control for now (so I can largely ignore them) and the AI is also given control over Unit Reorganisation.


    And here is the Far Eastern Theatre as inherited, with the FE Front below it controlling three armies.



    ******
    Initial Orders

    The FE Theatre and Front HQs were both put under human control. First up, 1ya Armiya is put under AI control, given Ulaanbaatar and Mildigun as objectives and switched to an attacking stance. Ambitious perhaps before the reinforcements from Europe are to hand, but I want to have a bit of an experiment with the AI (which Ive never used much).


    15th Army is given some attacking objectives further north and is also set to attacking stance.


    The 6th Army is still way to the west: it is set to strategic redeployment to the east plus a prepare stance and army objective near FE Front HQ – and it hoped its two corps (12th and 28th Mech) will follow.

    The Baltic Front (three armies under command) is next allocated to FE Theatre HQ command and given Oka (FE Theatre’s current location) as an objective. I hope the rest will follow but will see what happens, as an experiment, expecting some SR to begin.

    All air wings under FE Theatre are transferred roughly evenly to the direct command of the AI-controlled 1ya Armiya and 15th Army HQs to see what they’ll do with them. A few more wings in the west are also transferred to their command – I’ll let the AI deploy them as it sees fit.

    As the game is restarted at 1100 hr on 21 March, there is one Soviet attack already under way. We’ll have a look at that to see what’s happening. It’s looking pretty good and already has a Soviet air mission supporting the attack.


    And at 1200 hr, a new Soviet attack is launched by the AI on Santu – but the chances of success there look poor.


    In keeping with the vibe of this Soviet campaign, at 1400 hr a first war goal is set for Japan: to install Communism. Next will be puppeting, then after that Stalin will see what territorial claims might be added. Nationalist China is being influenced by both the Axis (seems to be self-initiated) and the Allies (by Germany, no less). And at 1600 hr, the UK asks for lend-lease to be reopened. Hah, no chance of that happening, Winston. :p

    On 22 March, Spain seeks a trade deal – which is accepted, to help that influence a little more. We need more pact partners for the Comintern and Spain would be excellent.


    By 23 March, there were nine wings based in Irkutsk, which has a repair capacity of only three. Something might have to be done about that in due course, if the AI keeps throwing them in there. Six air strikes in support of the attack on Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy between 21-23 March killed a total of 410 Axis troops.

    24 March sees Tibet start to align itself towards the Comintern – well done, Comrades! Every little bit helps.


    More CAS pilot training is completed on 25 March. It is replaced by a theory tech (other than the supply/civil defence ones, an area we all normally avoid): but I decide to give Nuclear Physics Research a shake, just to add something to that area which needs a real boost if we are to get a Soviet nuclear weapon.


    Later that day, Switzerland also starts to align towards us. The true cause slowly gains strength.


    Tactical Air Command gets a doctrinal boost on 27 March, with research effort being put next into Infantry Small Arms.


    On 30 March, the Transcaucasus Front (two armies) is also transferred to FE Theatre. It also gets an SR order to Oka in the east and a defensive objective for it too. We’ll see if the AI does anything with that.

    ******

    Monthly Summaries

    Far East – Combat. Just three battles were resolved during the nine-day period to the end of the month, results as shown below. Japan made more advances in net terms than the Soviets. The victory in Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy was a heartening one.


    South East Asia. Japan’s holdings in the region are widespread. The main enemy advances have come in the recently independent Indo-China, where the French have started to give their Indo-Chinese puppets control over some regular forces there, as the nascent Ind-Chinese army begins to build.




    South Pacific. Current Japanese lodgements in New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand are shown below.


    Naval. One Japanese convoy each was sunk by Soviet subs on 21 and 23 March.

    ******

    Diplomacy. A number of newly liberated countries began to mobilise during the last part of the month. Not sure the Albanian army will actually be a strong boost for the Allies despite their ambitious announcement, but there you go! Romania should however eventually provide a modest but welcome boost to Comintern military capability.


    Intelligence. From 21-28 March, 11 foreign spies (all from Allied countries) were neutralised (one of the Bulgarian ones may have actually been by our agents in Bulgaria). The Soviets lost two in Bulgaria, on 28 and 29 March. There was one left (two new ones must have been added during the period), leaving one in operation and no Bulgarian counterespionage agents left. All missions were removed for this last agent and the sending priority for Bulgaria zeroed. We’ll assemble a full complement of ten agents before sending them in against another target, be it Bulgaria or elsewhere.

    ******

    Endnote: So ends the first Chapter of the new AAR. Each one will cover a month at a time. This one was only nine days, but included all that setting-up info.
     
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    Chapter 2 – April 1944
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    Chapter 2 – April 1944

    Far East – Land Combat

    Given the situation and the amount of time it would take reinforcements to arrive from the west, both 1ya and 15th Armies reverted to defensive stances first thing on 1 April.

    After a few early skirmishes, the first large battle of the month in the east started with a Japanese attack on Romanovka on 2 April and lasted until 10 April, when 24 SD was finally driven off, the Soviets forced to retreat though the Japanese suffered the heavier casualties. The trend of large battles in the central sector would continue in following days, where most Japanese pressure was being exerted.

    As that battle was ending, to its south 187 SD began an attack on a Japanese marine division that had slipped into Petrovsk Zabaykal’skiy, before the Soviets could secure it following their victory in late March. The Soviets were once again victorious, inflicting heavy casualties on the Japanese defenders after four days of fighting.

    In the north of the front, 26 and 39 SDs came under heavy attack in Ust’ Maja in the early hours of 11 April by three Japanese infantry divisions. After almost five days of bitter defence, the Soviets retreated north, losing around 1,400 men but inflicting almost 2,000 casualties on the attackers.

    One of the new mechanised divisions (standard AI template) finished production on 11 April and was deployed that night, being allocated to 39th Corps in 15th Army. It would of course take some time to work up to full organisation.


    An epic battle broke out in Chita on 12 April as the fighting in nearby Petrovsk Zabaykal’skiy continued. 188 SD, outnumbered more than four-to-one (attacked by four divisions; 36,000 vs 8,000 soldiers) but dug in and with a river on one flank, fought the enemy to a standstill in just under two days, losing around 200 men to the enemy’s 800: a stirring victory.

    A day after their victory in Petrovsk Zabaykal’skiy, 187 SD had secured the province. But they were attacked before they could entrench by a Japanese division on 15 April. The attackers were joined by two more divisions by the time the second battle of the month in the province had ended nearly three days later. Badly outnumbered by then, 187 SD was forced back out, both sides suffering heavy casualties.

    A feature of this battle was a ground attack by a single Japanese CAS wing early that morning, which cauised 52 Soviet casualties. The Japanese returned at midday, to be met by two Soviet INT wings which drove them off with heavy damage.


    As the the fighters returned to base, it was noticed that Irkutsk (the main air base serving the central sector) now had 14 wings deployed. A program of expansions (three serial builds) was commenced to boost its repair capacity.


    More pressure was exerted in the central sector with a Japanese attack on Mogoca starting at 1300 hr on 17 April, ten hours before Petrovsk Zabaykal’skiy was lost. Here, 17 SD was under attack by three Japanese infantry division – one of them the Konoeshidan (Guards) Division. Despite the odds and being attacked from three directions, they were dug in behind a river and put up a good fight. They held out for nearly six days before having to withdraw from what had become an exposed salient, giving as good as they got in terms of casualties. By that time, they were outnumbered five-to-one as other Japanese units had joined in.

    The intense Japanese pressure on the central sector went on, with a second attack on Chita beginning mid-morning on 18 April. Three Japanese divisions began a shock attack on 188 SD, which remained well organised after its earlier successful defence. Alas, in a similar tale to other attacks, a single division could not hold out in the long term, when so heavily outnumbered: a fourth Japanese division had joined the attack by the time the retreat was sounded exactly three days later on 21 April.

    The only major battle that occurred on the south of the line came on 19 April, when 123 SD was attacked by two Japanese marine divisions in Ubur Khangaiin. After three days of fighting, the Soviets were driven off with heavy casualties.


    Battles and territorial changes, Soviet Far East, April 1944.
    In summary, six major battles during April had seen the Soviets win two and lose four, losing 6,890 men to 8,297 Japanese troops killed (including a few skirmishes, but not air attacks).

    The rest of the month saw the Japanese largely following these victories up – advances tended to take quite some time given the terrain and distances involved.

    Taking a closer look at the Central/Lake Baikal sector it can be seen the Japanese offensive has forced a general withdrawal to the east of Lake Baikal – with some units in danger of isolation. But to the north, by midnight on 30 April, 1ya Armiya commander General Egorov had just ordered a two-division attack on the vacant Bukacaca. It is a three-week approach march, so they are not due to arrive before 19 May. The Japanese may well have occupied it by then.


    Central/Lake Baikal Sector as at 2300 hr 30 April 1944.

    ******
    Far East - Naval Operations

    The first FE Theatre commander Marshal Karpezo heard of a small fleet (1 x CA, 2 x CL) being sent to the east was when it reported on 1 April that it had engaged a Japanese fleet (1 x CV, 1 x BB, 1 x CA, 1 x DD) off Truro Shoal in the South China Sea. By the time they had escaped they were lucky to all still be afloat. Their command was transferred to FE Theatre as they attempted to complete their risky dash to Petropavlovsk Kamcackij.


    But they did eventually limp into port and by 5 April, all the surface ships were harbouring in port and joined into a single fleet under Admiral Kuznetsov, with those ships that needed it undergoing repairs.


    Between 5 and 13 April, Soviet submarines sank six Japanese convoys in the waters around Japan.

    But on 16 April, one of the very active Soviet sub flotillas was caught by a Japanese carrier and destroyer task force east of Tokyo. It was sunk by carrier planes before it could escape.



    ******
    Research

    During the month, a number of research projects were completed. Improving Research Efficiency and Education were top new priorities, as was better equipment and tactics and training for the infantry – the mainstay of the Red Army.









    ******
    International Relations

    Sweden was the next country to make moves to become closer to the Comintern (though the drift calculation seems out – compared to the countries influencing it – unless the residual effect of Germany as an Axis influencer rather than a now Allied one is a bit bugged).


    Alas, on 7 April Tibet ceased its alignment towards the Comintern, as did Switzerland four days later. Maybe some more influencing effort (though not necessarily towards those countries) will be generated later, once Soviet research priorities have been realigned and the leadership can be spared.

    On 15 July, a cheeky German request for lend-lease was rejected: they have very short memories!

    ******
    Europe

    As peace settles in Europe, the (entirely AI-led) Soviet forces have largely settled into their new positions. Polish forces are very light along that border, but the Germans have a considerable presence in the north, on the border with East Prussia.


    Northern Finland is still not fully settled, with Allied (Norwegian, British and German units under Norwegian command) still moving back to their own territory. Sweden has guarded their frontier closely.


    Romania remains a mess, and probably will for a long time yet. The newly re-raised Romanian Army is small and under-gunned as yet.


    A range of Soviet units is in transit east: the AI wasn’t moving any of the subordinate units, so strategic movement orders had to be manually given to all divisions and HQs, before giving control back to the AI (at Front/Army Group level for now).



    ******
    Other Theatres

    There has been a turn-around in Indo-China during April, with French and now a few British divisions having advanced up to the approaching Japanese and indeed pushing them back in a few locations.


    The situation in the rest of South East Asia, New Guinea and the Pacific is unchanged. In Australia, the Japanese have continued to push inland in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. But in New Zealand, much territory has been regained.


    The US Marines had arrived to retake Christchurch – it seems they and their Japanese counterparts are the only front line units there. The rest are NZ HQs.

     
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    Chapter 3 – May 1944
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    Chapter 3 – May 1944

    1. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector

    After a quiet beginning to the month in the Northern Sector (above Lake Baikal to the Pacific coast), the enemy attacked Mohsogolloh at 1600hr on 10 May, with a division of infantry against two Soviet rifle divisions (1 and 129 SD). A series of additional Japanese divisions joined the battle over coming days, in the end the enemy hurled almost 48,000 men at the nearly 11,000 defenders, who were not reinforced at any point. And from 10-11 and on 15 May, Japanese bombers launched a total of seven raids that killed 859 defenders in Mohsogolloh.

    However, on 20 May, just as Soviet resistance seemed to be failing, relief came through a shock attack by the Soviet 101 Mountain Division on the rear of the last remaining Japanese troops attacking from Olekminsk.


    This was just enough to save Mohsogolloh, with victory at 0800 hr on 21 May in Olekminski forcing the Japanese to break off their 11-day attack on Mohsogolloh. The Japanese lost over 3,000 men in both battles, well over twice the casualties of the defending Soviets.

    Another of the three battles to start on 10 May was at Kedrovyy, where three Japanese divisions attacked the Soviet 20 Tank Div (mediums) and 2 Garnizon Div. That battle went for nine days, with even heavier casualties than at Mohsogolloh. Another well-executed spoiling attack by 23 SD in Singuya to outflank the Japanese attackers in at 1000hr on 18 May helped retrieve a desperate situation as disorganisation threatened. The Soviets won in Kedrovyy at 0800 hr on 19 May at the cost of almost 2,000 men, the Japanese losing over 3,800. The spoiling attack in Novaya Chara killed another 149 Japanese for the loss of 78 attackers from 23 SD.

    The third Japanese attack in their concerted offensive starting on 10 May was on Dronovskiy, where a single Japanese infantry division assaulted the Soviet 5th Guard Div and 4th Mongolian Rifle Div at 2200 hr. Both sides were reinforced by an additional division during the combat, but the enemy ended up winning this contest, inflicting more than 800 Comintern casualties for almost 600 of their own troops killed.

    This eleven day period of bitter fighting in the north, where the Soviets proved largely successful, was followed by a lull until 26 May, when a second attack was launched on Dronovskiy at 1000 hr after 324 SD slipped in before the advancing Japanese could secure it. A third Japanese division joined the two already attacking in reserve three hours later. The Soviets performed a skilful elastic defence again the enemy attack, but the battle ended after a day, with 324 SD following their comrades north-west in retreat, losing 370 men for 276 attackers. Two Japanese air attacks on 26 May killed 299 defenders.

    As that battle was continuing, the Japanese launched a follow-up attack on Mohsogolloh at 0100 hr on 27 May. One (fresh) Japanese division started the attack. The barely recovered 129 SD tried to delay the inevitable, but another Japanese division joined the combat at 0200 hr, making the task all but hopeless. 129 held out for over a day, finally retreating at 1000 hr on 28 May. Communications were so disrupted no casualty report was received.

    Similarly, a new Japanese assault on Kedrovyy by a marine and a militia division crashed into the only partly recovered 2nd Garnizon Div at 1300 hr on 27 May. Their elastic defence delayed the inevitable for longer than might have been expected, but the Japanese had their victory by 0300 hr on 29 May. Again, in the confusion of the withdrawal no casualty count was provided.

    As the month drew to a close, two new battles broke out but were not resolved by midnight on 31 May. The Japanese were attacking, where the Soviets had earlier advanced to Olekminsk, cutting off a Japanese marine division to their north in Berdingestjah. 101 Mtn Div defended in an evenly poised battle against that division as it tried to break out. The enemy attack was supported by intense ground attacks by Japanese bombers, with five raids from 1700 hr on 30 May till 2200 on the 31st killing 732 defenders.


    And at 1100 hr on 31 May, 23 SD launched an attack from Sinyuga on a single Japanese infantry division in Novaya Chara. The numbers were roughly even, but the Japanese looked to have the stronger tactical position.


    Battles and territorial changes, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, May 1944.

    After the centre around Lake Baikal had been the major focus in April, this time it was the north that had seen the intense fighting. And despite giving ground in net terms, the Soviets had dealt the Japanese some heavy blows on the battlefield.

    ******
    2. Far East Land Combat - Central Sector

    The operations to the east of Lake Baikal during May was a story of Soviet formations evading entrapment, small scale skirmishes and one medium sized battle, concentrated in and around Burjatija on the north-eastern shore of the lake.

    In the early hours of 2 May, 186 and 324 SDs conducted a river-crossing assault one Japanese division in Bukacaca. The Japanese didn’t like the odds and pulled out after only an hour of fighting.

    There was no fighting for the next two weeks, as Soviet divisions retreating to the south-west end of Lake Baikal after earlier defeats managed their escapes through Ulan Ude, which was held by an entrenched Soviet rifle division. Fortunately, the Japanese had not attempted to press further in this part of the line to try to cut them off. By the evening of 9 May, 187 SD was safe and withdrawing further to Irkutsk, while 188 SD was following close behind them.


    On the evening of 11 May, the Far East Theatre Commander queried why the Soviet air forces – which had 14 wings based in Irkutsk alone and a few more in northern airfields, had been so dormant in recent days. They had not been intercepting enemy missions nor launching any of their own since April. He ordered 1ya and 15th Armies to take an offensive stance (rather than the defensive one they had been on to now).


    Alas, this seemed to have no appreciable effect, with no Soviet air missions in any sector recorded during May. Perhaps due to the relative lack of action near Irkutsk (and therefore in range of its airfield) on the ground or in the air – even though it could be seen some of the fighter wings had been put on intercept standby.

    On the night of 15 May, local Soviet commanders decided to launch a limited offensive, driving south along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal. One cavalry and one rifle division were entrusted with the mission. Higher commanders were dubious about the wisdom of this plan but (atypically for Soviet command systems) the (AI) men on the ground had been given the freedom to act as they wished. They would soon run into Japanese opposition from forces advancing towards the same objectives.


    170 SD (heading further south) had made it to Burjatija first and came under immediate attack at 0600 hr on 16 May from a Japanese division from the south-east. After the briefest encounter, they kept going south-west to Barguzin. Technically it was classed as a retreat, but in reality they were undamaged and merely continued there original course, knowing 3 Cav Div was following them up close behind.

    Sure enough, five hours later at 1100 hr, 3 Cav Div were in Burjatija, coming under attack from the same Japanese division. This time, it was the Japanese that pulled out just an hour later.

    By 1700 hr on 19 May, the Japanese had beaten 170 SD in the race to Barguzin, on Lake Baikal. 170 SD broke off its advance after a one-hour skirmish. It was probably just as well, as otherwise it would have been subject to encirclement. An attack by four divisions from three different directions immediately began on the two Soviet divisions now trying to hold Burjatija. They were outnumbered almost three-to-one. The Soviets fought on bravely and resisted for almost a week, until forced to withdraw at 0200 hr on 26 May, signalling the end of the small southern offensive. They had lost 2,172 men, the Japanese 1,527.


    Battles and territorial changes, Soviet Far East – Central Sector, May 1944.

    ******
    3. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    The Southern (Mongolian) sector saw much movement but little combat during May. One battle was fought in Taryacin, on the approaches to the makeshift Mongolian capital of Uliastay (whose loss would force the capitulation of the Mongolians). It began at 1400 hr on 3 May, with a fresh Japanese marine division attacking two Soviet and one Mongolian rifle divisions. Unfortunately, they were still almost completely disorganised after recent losses. They managed to resist for two days and inflicted heavy casualties on the attackers, but could not sustain the effort and fell back at 1200 hr on 5 May, losing 286 men to 824 of the Japanese attackers.


    Battle and territorial changes, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, May 1944.

    ******
    4. Far East - Naval Operations

    With the main Soviet fleet in the Far east remaining in port, convoy raiding zones for the Soviet submarine forces were adjusted on 9 May.


    Japanese convoys were sunk on 12, 13, 25 and 29 May, making it four for the month.

    ******
    5. Diplomatic, Intelligence and Leadership

    The still considerable German army that had remained under arms after their surrender to the Allies had established a very heavy presence on the East Prussian border. This had been matched by a heavy Soviet build-up.


    An outlandish French request for lend-lease support came through on 16 May: Stalin quickly laughed it off. Especially given how many French spies were being apprehended in the Soviet Union at this time.

    By 19 May, 15 spy teams had been assembled by the GRU. It was decided to send them in against the primary enemy: Japan. The order was given, with the agents directed to directly tackle the Japanese Kempeitai in a counter-espionage war. It would also be useful to get more general intelligence on Japanese strength, industry, research and intent.

    At midnight on 22 May, the initial reports were in. Japanese counter-espionage strength was six, giving the Soviets hope of winning the battle. If the figures could be believed, Japan still had ample manpower (1,458,000 men in reserve). They also seemed to have plenty of natural resources, supplies, fuel and cash at their disposal. Fortunately, they did not seem to be concentrating on nuclear, rocket or jet technology.


    And with another research advance (on trade interdiction for submarines – quite useful, though it won’t be pursued again for now) that day, research projects were reduced to 19, with leadership effort also diverted from espionage and officer training to allow a diplomatic influence campaign to be initiated on Turkey. This was part of the longer-term aim to start building the voluntary membership of the Comintern, not just as enforced by conquest.


    By the end of 31 May, Republican Spain was becoming quite closely aligned to the Comintern. Turkey could now be weaned off its drift to the Axis. Switzerland was now drifting back to the Allied sphere again, but it too could be a future target for Soviet influence – similarly for Afghanistan (less important) and Persia (a historical strategic focus for Russian interests).


    Over April and May, 34 foreign spies were caught by the NKVD – 14 in April and 20 in May. Of those apprehended, seven came from France, five from Germany, three each from the UK and newly independent Lebanon (of all places). Two each were caught from Finland (still a government-in-exile), Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the US, with one each from Mengukuo and Xibei San Ma. The last Soviet team in Bulgaria had been caught on 6 April, while the Japanese caught a Soviet agent (quickly replaced) on 29 May.

    ******
    6. Research and Production

    More technical advances were made during the month, with light tank reliability improvement being followed up to get all light tank tech to the next level (6).


    Large front doctrine would not be pursued further – new night-fighting technology was explored to help remedy a persistent weakness (50% penalty) for all current militaries in night attacks.


    As the month drew to a close, Soviet researchers reviewed the requirements of their new nuclear weapons program. While any nuclear weapon was a long way off yet, it would needs one or more delivery systems. One would be strategic bombers, which the Soviet Union could not yet build. That would be the next research priority when leadership was freed up.

    Another was rocket technology. The USSR had previously developed the ability to conduct rocket tests, but had not yet done any. Rocket and after that jet engines could not be developed without at least one test facility. Therefore, on 27 May, construction began on the Soviet Union’s first rocket test site – a considerable investment that would take more than seven months to build. [I’ve decided to use this game as a test for these areas of tech, which I’ve never really bothered with and have never used in the past.]


    Soviet nuclear research would be aided by the heavy water processing facilities in Dnipropetrovsk, while the helium from Orenburg would aid rocket research. Unfortunately, the USSR had no access to uranium. [The only places I can find it on the map are in the Belgian Congo (Elisabethville) and Canada (Hay River). Are there any others? Perhaps I’ll need to invade the Congo or western Canada at some point!]

    When decryption technology was improved on 30 May, the first steps to developing a strategic bomber were taken.



    ******
    7. Summaries


    Soviet Far East - general situation as at 31 May 1944.
    In battles for which reports were available, the Soviets suffered 5,669 casualties and the Japanese 9,523 to ground combat. Japanese air attacks killed another 2,193 Soviet troops. They were still trading ground for time as reinforcements made their way over from the west.

    ******
    The Japanese had reinforced their front line in Indo-China and had pushed down the coast to capture Cam Ranh, while the French-led Allies had advanced inland.


    In Australia, the Japanese continued to expand into the interior of NSW to the Victorian and South Australian borders. In New Zealand, territory had exchanged hands on both sides.


    No changes had been recorded in the wider Pacific.
     
    Chapter 4 – June 1944
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    Chapter 4 – June 1944

    1a. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector: 1-11 Jun 44

    The Northern Sector once again saw the heaviest fighting during June. While Japan did most of the attacking, the Soviets also made attacks of their own. Results were again mixed, with some heavy casualties on both sides.

    The month began with two battles continuing on from May:
    • In Novaya Chara, the Soviets were attacking [31.1% progress, one division each].
    • The Japanese were ahead in their attack on Olekminsk [59.9% progress, one division each].
    A promising new Soviet attack was launched on Dronovskiy at 0200 hr on 1 June, with 219 Mech Div and the 5th Guards Div taking on a single Japanese division that was at around 50% effectiveness after previous fighting. After a little over a day of fighting, the Japanese were driven off at relatively little cost.

    As the Japanese attack on Oleksminsk continued to be pressed home, the enemy launched a new attack on neighbouring Artemovskij at 0100 hr on 2 June, which completely negated the delaying tactics MAJGEN Ponedelin of 100 SD tried to employ. Heavy air raids would begin on the morning of 3 June and (except with a break on 4 Jun when the Japanese wings diverted to hit Sinyuga, more on that below) and continue until resistance failed early on 7 June. There was no report from the ground battle, but casualties were likely to have been heavy, in addition to the 1,502 lost to Japanese are raids.

    101 SD in Oleksminsk retreated at 1300 hr on 2 Jun and made for Artemovskij. They had lost over 500 men trying to defend it, as had the attacking Japanese, while another 1,000 Soviet soldiers had been killed in two days of air raids.

    The Soviets attacking from Sinyuga on Novaya Chara (commenced 31 May) were hit by three air raids starting on the morning of 4 June, which killed 483 of them. This seemed to break the back of the attack quickly, which was defeated at 1000 hr, the retreating Soviets harried from the air for the rest of the day. In ground fighting, both sides had suffered more than 660 casualties each.

    With the Soviet defeat in Artemovskij early on 7 June, the line of retreat for 101 Mtn Div in Oleksminsk was imperilled. A Japanese Guards division occupied it on the afternoon of 10 June, cutting off that line of retreat. After a brief skirmish, 101 Mtn Div was forced to halt its retreat and was again stuck in Oleksminsk. At 1400 hr, this triggered a renewed attack from the north, where the encircled 1st Rikusentai Marine Division had previously beaten them attacking from Berdingestjah. 101 Mtn Div were again defeated by 1300 hr the next day, but still had a retreat route open to them to the west, which they took.


    As Oleksminsk came under renewed attack, the Soviet 219 Mech Div advanced into Dronovskiy (after their earlier victory there on 2 June) and came under immediate attack at 1400 hr on 10 June by Japanese Guards from Mogoca. MAJGEN Novikov used an elastic defence to try to blunt the heavy assault. Fighting there would go on for another five days.

    Two hours after that, a single Japanese marine division assaulted three Soviet infantry divisions in Sinyuga, where MAJGEN Ershakov sought to delay them. The Soviets were confident of holding here, where fighting also continued by 1300 hr on 11 June.


    Battles, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, 0000 hr 1 June to 1300 hr 11 June 1944.

    ******

    1b. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector: 11-21 Jun 44

    For the rest of the month, no Japanese air attacks were reported on Soviet troops in any sector of the Far East, providing some respite. But heavy ground fighting continued in the north.

    The unwise Japanese attack on Sinyuga ended at 0500 hr on 12 June: 1,380 Japanese soldiers had died at the cost of only 263 defenders.

    Emboldened by this, at 1000 hr that day 35 SD (from Sinyuga) was ordered to attack Kedrovyy, from where the defeated Japanese 14 Rikusentai had been attacking. They came up against a Manchukuoan militia division which was not dug in. The battle was evenly poised. It took until 2200 hr on 15 June, but the Soviets had reinforced with a second attacking division by then and were victorious, losing 530 men but inflicting over 1,000 casualties on the defenders.

    There was no such luck to the south in Dronovskiy, where the battle by 219 Mech Div to hold its recent gain was lost at 1200 hr on 15 June, after an epic fight where the almost 8,000 defenders lost 1,062 men. They had been trying to hold off almost 35,000 Japanese attackers (who had eventually reinforced the battle), of which 1,678 were killed.

    After a brief lull in operational tempo, at 1900 hr on 18 June the Japanese sent 11 Hoheishidan to attack the entrenched 2 Guards Div in Stanovoe Nagore, in poor weather and mountainous terrain. At this time, 2nd Guards contained two Guards brigades plus one AT and one engineer brigade. HQ Far Eastern Front was co-located with the 2nd Guards, so got a close view of the fighting. 2nd Guards elastic defence proved effective enough, but the tenacious Japanese attack would persist for five more days.

    Further north, on 20 June the Japanese had reached Artemovskij and pressed on immediately westwards to Lemsk at 1000 hr, perhaps in the hope of making a major breakthrough. The exhausted 100 SD had only recently retreated there and, along with HQ 12 Corps, were driven off after a ten-hour skirmish despite a heroic counter-attack attempt by the Manchukuoan 4 Cav Div.

    While this was happening, 324 SD had reached Dronovskiy at 1500 hr on 20 June, before the Japanese attackers who had two fresh infantry divisions following up their previous victory against 219 Mech Div. The Soviets blundered into a shock attack, which completely disrupted their attempts to fight a delaying action. They decided not to continue a clearly losing battle, wisely retreating at 0300 hr the next morning before the casualties became more serious.


    Battles, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, 1300 hr 11 June to 0300 hr 21 June 1944.

    ******

    1c. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector: 21-30 Jun 44

    As 35 SD reoccupied Kedrovyy at 0800 hr on 21 June, they came under immediate attack by Manchukuoan militia and cavalry. Still worn out after their successful attack, they hoped 17 SD, following from Sinyuga, might be able to bolster their hasty delaying defence.

    Instead, at 1000 hr 17 SD was diverted to a spoiling attack on Novaya Chara, from where the attack on Kedrovyy was being launched. At least that might help more quickly.

    As both those battles continued, the earlier attack on Stanovoe Nagore that had begun on 18 June ended at 0700 hr on 23 June with a comprehensive victory for the Soviet defenders. For the loss of 450 men, the enemy had suffered 1,219 casualties.

    By the morning of 23 June, 26 SD had reoccupied Berdingestjah, which had been vacated by the Japanese marines to retake Oleksminsk and avoid encirclement. Now a fresh Japanese marine division assaulted the Soviets, who employed an elastic defence to thwart the push. The defence was successful, with the assault broken off at 2100 hr the next night, with relatively moderate casualties on both sides.

    Despite having been reinforced with a second division, the large Soviet spoiling attack on Novaya Chara was called off at midnight on the morning of 24 June, with relatively heavy casualties suffered and having failed to divert the attack on Kedrovyy. This led to the loss of that battle too at 0900 hr that morning, 26 SD forced to withdraw despite inflicting significantly heavier casualties on their attackers than they had suffered themselves.

    But the action for the month was not yet over. Another fight for Dronovskiy erupted at 1000 hr on 25 June, when the Soviet 5 Guards Div in Stanovoe Nagore struck the Japanese 35 Hoheishidan in a shock attack which negated their delaying tactics completely, the enemy's plight exacerbated by not having dug in yet.

    However, just as this promising attack was making good progress, at 0300 hr on 26 June the Japanese launched their own spoiling attack with one infantry division on Stanovoe Nagore, which was defended by 2 and 5 Guards Divs. Forced to fight on two fronts, 5 Guards broke off their own attack just two hours later to concentrate on the defence. Foolishly, the Japanese persisted with their attack, throwing in two more infantry divisions to try to force the issue. But the Guards held firm and when the Japanese stopped their attack at 0400 hr on 30 June, they left over 2,000 men dead in Stanovoe Nagore, the Guards losing just over 600.

    While that battle was fought and won, to the north in Berdingestjah a shorter fight occurred on 27 June. 26 SD, dug in somewhat but still partly disorganised from its previous defence, was struck by two Japanese infantry divisions and a Manchukuoan cavalry division at 0700 hr. In a familiar theme on both sides in recent weeks, their delaying tactics were negated by a shock attack. Wisely, the division pulled out at 1800 hr that evening before it was butchered, losing around 300 men to 128 Japanese (and puppet) troops.

    By 28 June, the enemy had occupied Lensk with the 4th Manchukuoan Cavalry, but this light formation was immediately counter-attacked by the approaching 93 SD at 1600 hr. Two hours later, the enemy cavalry was in retreat back to Artemovskij after a short skirmish: it seemed the potential gap in the line might be plugged after all. [The AI seemed to deal with that pretty well.]


    Battles, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, 0300 hr 21 June to 2300 hr 30 June 1944.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector: 21-30 Jun 44

    With the area in and around Lake Baikal quiet for the month, the other combat action occurred to its south, in Mongolia.

    Concerned that the Mongolians appeared to be pulling out of Uliastay and no one looked to be moving to defend it, at 2100 hr on 2 June it was made a defence objective for 1ya Armiya and the Mongolians were also asked to hold it [given it was their last VP city]. Fortunately the Japanese, though directly to its east, showed no signs of attacking it yet.

    And just to be sure it was not sacrificed in any response by 1ya Armiya, on 4 June the relatively lightly defended (one rifle division) Ulan Ude was allocated as a defensive objective for 1ya Armiya.


    Things remained quiet in the sector until 14 June, when a Soviet assault (130 SD) from Khantai hit two Japanese marine divisions (8 and 16 Rikusentai) from the east in Selenga Burin. The chances [14%] seemed poor at first, attacking dug-in troops over a river, but 16 Rikusentai had virtually no organisation and 8 Rikusentai also started with some existing damage [not sure why – perhaps they had been attacking Mongolian units to the south and were resting].

    These odds improved [to 28%] when 137 SD in Ulan Ude hit the Japanese from the north at 1800 hr, though also over the same river obstacle. This was accompanied by a ground attack from two Soviet TAC wings (using their newly acquired radar-guided bombs, see Section 6 below) with a M/R fighter escort. The battle was in range of the large concentration of Soviet air power in Irkustk to the north: these ground attacks on Selenga Burin would continue non-stop for the next week, causing enormous enemy casualties. 16 Rikusentai retreated at 1900 hr the same day, but 8 Rikusentai fought on, under heavy air attack.

    At that time, there was considerable worry at HQ Far Eastern Theatre as Uliastay was now completely undefended with no Comintern troops approaching it: had the Japanese marines in Taryacin pushed west, Mongolia could have been knocked out of the war!

    But the local Soviet commander had his own ideas: at 0400 hr on 15 June, 13 SD (in Khantai) and 1 Mongolian SD (Muren) attacked the almost completely disorganised 15 Hoheishidan in Khadasan. Despite an effective local counter-attack, the enemy looked vulnerable. An addition air mission also targeted Khadasan, with two Soviet air strikes causing 407 casualties that day. The enemy retreated at 1700 hr, but again, there was no casualty report from the ground combat.

    137 SD (Ulan Ude) had reinforced the attack on Selenga Burin, where the Japanese defenders were weakening. They broke at around 1500 hr on 18 June, but [rather vexingly] there was no casualty report. By then, Japanese forces were in retreat from both there and Khadasan, while Uliastay had still not been attacked.

    But before 130 SD (now down to about 50% organisation) could complete their advance (137 SD had halted in Ulan Ude to protect it, as per 1st Armiya objectives), a Mengukuoan cavalry division slipped into Selenga Burin to mount a hasty defence at 1500 hr on 19 June. Soviet air strikes, which had not let up the entire time even when enemy units were retreating, continued.

    And at 1900 hr on 19 June, a fresh Japanese division reached Khadasan, with the attack there breaking off after a very short skirmish and despite one more air raid killing 130 Japanese troops. And by then, a large Japanese advance (up to four divisions) on Dzhirgalanta was building to the south.

    Again, there was no battle report, but resistance ended in Selenga Burin some time on the evening of 21 June, as did the Soviet air raids, which by then had killed a massive 3,923 Japanese (and allied) soldiers in eight days of ground attacks. A rather battered 130 SD finally pulled into Selenga Burin at 1500 hr on 26 Jun.


    They had not been attacked by the end of the month – nor had Uliastay. Mongolia remained in the war for now.


    Battles, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, 1 - 30 June 1944.

    ******

    3. Far East - Naval Operations

    10 Navy (three sub flotillas) off the east of Japan was down to around 60% organisation and strength by 9 June as was brought back to port in Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka) for repairs, where they would spend the rest of the month.

    But the rest of the submarines plied their trade against Japanese convoys relatively unharmed and sank ten of them during the month – as much as April and May combined.

    On 14 June, to prevent confusion, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet, now based in Petropavlovsk, was renamed the Red Banner Pacific Fleet (1 x BB, 4 x CA, 3 x CL, 6 x DD).

    ******

    4. Diplomatic, Intelligence and Leadership

    During June, 32 foreign spies were apprehended (though up to five of those were Japanese spies who were probably targeted by Soviet hit squads in Japan itself, perhaps some of the Mengukuo and Manchukuo losses too). Of the rest, Lebanon showed an unhealthy interest in Soviet secrets, sending three spies (it must have taken most of their leadership effort to do it!), as did Mengukuo and the UK. Germany, Italy, Manchukuo and the US sent two each. The rest were made up from Bhutan (!), Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia (!), France, Guangxi Clique, Iraq, Pakistan, Poland and Sweden.

    On 5 June (after a Japanese spy had been apprehended), Japan had five agents on counter-espionage duty at home and one in reserve. Their manpower stood at 1,473,000 and national unity was estimated to be 61.6%. After some ebbs and flows, by 28 June they had three active agents and one in reserve, virtually unchanged manpower reserves of 1,472,000 and NU still at 61.6%. Given the large GRU presence in Japan, these figures were considered pretty accurate (I actually checked them in retrospect in a mid-game month save just to see).

    It seemed battlefield losses (against the Allies as well as the USSR) and any new unit builds were being offset by an estimated monthly manpower growth of around 56,000 men. Strategic warfare and far heavier combat outcomes (including unit destruction in encirclements) would be needed to erode Japanese manpower reserves.

    Soviet espionage strength in Japan was maintained at ten agents throughout, with the four teams lost in Japan in June (two to Japanese agents and one each to Japan-based stooges from Manchukuo and Mengukuo) being replaced straight away. And of course, Soviet manpower was virtually limitless, with over 4,900,000 men available for recruitment if necessary.

    The USSR had 13 spy teams in reserve by the end of June – almost enough to launch another insertion – probably in either France or the US, the latter due to concerns they may be ahead of the USSR in nuclear weapon development. Another option was Germany, where information on their dispositions and potential sabotage of their industry, political institutions or stealing of technology might be useful. Or perhaps even Bulgaria, to see if their regime might be overthrown eventually.

    The only diplomatic news to raise eyebrows (though only one, slightly, each time) during the month were requests by Germany on 20 and 29 June for lend-lease payments. Molotov didn’t even bother informing Stalin of these any more before rejecting them outright.

    ******

    5. Research and Production

    It was a particularly fruitful month for Soviet researchers, with eight of the nineteen current projects completed in June. [I concentrate on this a bit, as it is one of the few things I exert much direct control over where a fair bit happens, having left most day-to-day combat management to the AI.]

    Light Tank Armour was the first to be completed, with more effort devoted to the surge in strategic bomber development on 1 June, which could be done in parallel to basic strategic bomber design.


    The next to be completed was single engine aircraft armament (Level 2) on 6 June. Given this area had been seriously deficient, the team was kept together to work on Level 3. Better fighters would be needed not just for beating Japan in the short term, but to help the successful deployment of nuclear-armed bombers in the future and then a possible confrontation with the Capitalist West after that.


    Later that day, Far east Command advised there was a large gap in air cover between Irkutsk in the centre of the front and the sole remaining small air base of Jakutsk in the north. And Jakutsk was now under imminent threat of occupation. A new air base for deployment in the east was immediately commissioned and given full production priority, along with the air base expansion in Irkutsk and the rockets test facility.


    The next day, the first Soviet ‘secret’ technology project was completed – radar-guided bombs. Within a week, they were being used to good effect in Selenga Burin and Khadasan. The last infantry equipment update needed to take all Soviet divisions to Level 6 was commenced.


    The recent equipment advances was increasing the upgrade bill considerably. By 7 June 55.7 IC was needed to fund them, with 3.15 for reinforcements and 19.08 for consumer goods. After 20 IC for supplies (not enough to avoid a decrease in the stockpile) was subtracted, this left only 220 IC for the 250 IC worth of current production projects. All ships and most of the new fighter wings (there was not enough room in the east to house all those currently assigned there anyway) on order were sent to the bottom of the queue to ensure high priority lines were kept at 100%.

    11 June saw new infantry small arms developed (which would greatly increase the upgrade bill, which always received top priority for IC), with another heavy bomber technology replacing it (larger cargo holds would not be needed for now, as paratroop production or air resupply was not a major priority at that time). But increased range would be vital for a future strategic bomber force.


    As at 12 June, upgrade costs had jumped to 93 IC, bringing production down to 196 IC.

    Light tank engine research was finished on 15 June, with only light tank gun improvements (already being researched) needed to bring Soviet light armour up to world’s best standards. Better engines for single engine aircraft were the next priority as the fighter modernisation drive continued.


    More fighter research continued to be completed, with single engine airframe development brought to contemporary modern world standards on 16 June. Effort was switched to bringing fuel tanks to the same level.


    After this round of new research was put into upgrades, the bill for those rose to 117 IC on 16 June. With heavy fighting in the east bringing replacement demand to 11.5 IC, production shrunk to just over 163 IC, meaning almost 90 IC worth of builds were on hold.

    By the time the first of three planned expansion to the air base in Irkutsk was delivered on 17 June, the upgrade bill was around 129 IC and replacements over 13 IC.


    With supply a major factor in the Far East and supply usage going up, the improvement in supply organisation practices on 23 June was followed up with new vehicles and organisation for supply transport.


    On 24 June, another new mechanised division (1 x MECH, 1 x MOT, 1 x TD, 1 x MOT AA) was deployed and allocated to 12th Corps, part of 6ya Armiya of the Far Eastern Front HQ.

    The final tech advance in June was on the 25th, with new operational level command structure doctrine issued, which would increase the pace of attacks. With the heavy demands on Soviet production, industrial efficiency gains were pursued next.



    ******

    6. Summaries


    Soviet Far East general situation as at 30 June 1944.

    Most Japanese advances were in the sparsely settled and less defended far north. The Soviets and Mongolians largely held steady north and south of Lake Baikal.

    In battles for which reports were available, the Soviets suffered 6,548 casualties and the Japanese 11,443 to ground combat. Japanese air attacks killed another 3,190 Soviet troops, while Soviet ground attacks killed 4,460 Japanese soldiers and their allies.

    ******
    The Japanese regained ground in central Indo-China, but their advances along the coast from May were reversed. Substantial forces looked to be building on both sides.


    The stalemate in Borneo continued, where British forces had been augmented by US paratroops.


    But British Royal Marines under French command had landed and taken Batavia.


    Something similar had happened in Malaya, at Teluk Anson and Kota Bharu (though no units remained in the latter at the moment; Thailand remains neutral).



    ******

    In Australia, the Japanese had made further advances in the interior, but not as much progress towards Melbourne. The Japanese had been expelled from New Zealand.


    A French request to the US to defend Melbourne (I think that’s a carry-over from when I was running France previously) had been acted upon, with the 82nd Airborne holding it, under local Australian command.


    The only change in the Pacific was the Japanese occupation of Jarvis Island, south of Hawaii.



    ******

    To help make identification of Theatre responsibilities easier, the names of the four other (still AI-controlled) Theatre HQs were renamed mid-month to reflect their current geographical responsibilities.







     
    Chapter 5 – July 1944
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    Chapter 5 – July 1944

    Introduction

    With the approach of the main body of reinforcements from the west, the Soviet Far Eastern Theatre command structure was comprehensively reorganised. After redistributing all the arriving corps to the existing three Far East armies (1ya, 6ya and 15th) and moving divisions to gives all corps 4-5 divisions each, the new order of battle apportioned formations accordingly:


    One of the existing Fronts (redesignated the 2nd Far Eastern Front) was retained as a purely shell organisation for later expansion (if required). It contained one army HQ and five corps HQs but no troops were assigned to any of them. The rest of the surplus HQs were disbanded, the generals going back into the commanders’ pool.

    Of the Far Eastern armies, 1ya was the strongest with 25 divs in five corps; 15th held 20 divs in four corps and 6ya 14 divs in three corps. Their assigned and revised objectives are shown in the relevant sector combat sections below. The 1st Far Eastern Front continued to maintain a generally defensive tactical posture for now, though this might change once the new forces had largely reached their new positions, which would take a good number of weeks yet.



    ******

    1. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector

    6ya Armiya was given responsibility for the northern part of the Northern sector, with its assigned objectives being to eventually retake the recently lost airfields of Jakutsk and Ulya. But its immediate concern was to get its reinforcements into the line and try to stop the continuing Japanese advance in that area. 6ya Armiya would not be assigned any air assets directly until it had airfields in the vicinity to support them.


    The larger 15th Army, which also had air wings directly assigned, had one immediate defensive objective set on the northern end of Lake Baikal at Vitimskoe Ploskogore, with its two ‘eventual offensive objectives' being Shilka and Tyndinskiy.


    The Northern sector had seen the heaviest fighting in the last few months and, while 1ya Armiya’s objectives were in the southern sector (south of Lake Baikal), many of its formations overlapped and supported 15th Army’s line.

    The battles fought in this sector during July are summarised below. Of note, the second battle of Stanovoe Nagore (beginning on 19 July and ending in Soviet victory on 23 July) was a spoiling attack on the ultimately successful Soviet assault against Dronovskiy. The Japanese unwisely continued the attack after Soviets had won the Dronovskiy battle on 21 July (when the Soviets no longer attracted the multiple-combat penalty) and suffered heavy casualties in the process.

    Apart from successful attacks on Sorgo (won on 6 Jul) and Sinyuga (10 July) in the centre and a failed Soviet attack on Artemovskiy (16 July), the main combat focused on persistent (perhaps even obsessive) Japanese attacks on Lensk in the north and Stanovoe Nagore in the south.

    After the Soviets had attacked and then occupied Lensk earlier in the month, the Japanese attacked three times, with their persistence finally rewarded with a victory at the third attempt on 31 July. The second Japanese attack (3rd battle) had air support and, while it eventually failed, it weakened the tired Soviet defenders enough to allow that third counter-attack to succeed.

    Savage fighting in Stanovoe Nagore saw the Japanese try and fail to take it four times (including the spoiling attack described above), each time with very heavy casualties (over 4,100 in total). And by the end of the month, a strong Japanese attack with air support on a mechanised infantry division in Tjung (in the north) was still going after three days of combat.


    Battles and air strikes, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, July 1944.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    The reorganised 1ya Armiya’s objectives were a mix of defensive (from Ulan Ude at the south of Lake Baikal down to Uliastay) and one offensive objective – Ulaanbataar, which the Soviet offensive into Selanga Burin in June had clearly been seeking to reach. 1ya Armiya now had five corps all with five divisions each, but some of those troops were ‘western reinforcements’ which had not yet made it to the front.


    In July, the Southern sector once again saw less combat than to the north of Lake Baikal, but one of the battles was strategically quite significant for the Comintern – and a morale booster for the Soviets and beleagured Mongolians.

    In the early hours of 2 July, the makeshift Mongolian capital of Uliastay was properly secured. The Soviet 187 SD arrived and began entrenching, while 235 SD was passing through towards Tszag, east of Uliastay, which was currently unoccupied. This made it far less likely Mongolia would be forced out of the war by a quick Japanese strike from neighbouring Taryacin. 235 SD was in position in Tszag by 1300 hr on 7 July.

    Unfortunately, despite heavy air strikes on Japanese attackers in two bordering provinces (which combined killed more than 2,800 enemy on 1-2 July), Selanga Burin had not been reinforced sufficiently to be retained. The battle there was lost on 2 July.

    The arrival of another two air wings (assigned to 15th Army) in overcrowded Irkutsk on 9 July saw the number there rise to 18 wings of various types (3 x CAS, 2 x INT, 5 x M/R, 6 x TAC, 1 x TP and even 1 x NAV). And as previously noted, more wings were backed up in out-of-range airfields stretching west of there.

    The Battle of Taryacin began at 1100 hr on 11 July, with 235 SD attacking from Tszag and the Mongolian 2nd Cav Div from Ider. The Japanese 10th Rikusentai began the battle at around only 50% organisation, responding with an elastic defence to the shock attack. Heavy round-the-clock air support for the duration of the attack, flown from Irkutsk, was of great assistance, killing over 1,700 Japanese marines over the first three days of the attack. The Comintern forces won an expensive but successful battle early on 14 July.




    Battles and air strikes, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, July 1944.

    ******

    3. Far East - Naval Operations

    No submarines were lost during July and little serious damage was done to those still on patrol on Japan’s approaches, while another seven Japanese convoys were sent to the bottom by the Soviets that month (Allied efforts were unreported).

    By 20 July, the 10th Navy (3 x SS), which was still in port undergoing repairs Petropavlovsk Kamcackij, was at around 88% overall strength. It should be ready to venture out again some time in August. All the other sub flotillas were at or above 90% strength and none yet needed to be pulled in for repairs.

    ******

    4. Diplomatic, Intelligence and Leadership

    On 1 July, with 13 spy teams in reserve, the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo was selected as the next espionage target. This was in part designed to help rein in their efforts in support of the Japanese in countering Soviet agents there. And perhaps, later on, it might be possible to undermine their national unity and so cause them to capitulate earlier than they might otherwise, should the Soviet strategic offensive begin to take their key cities. Leadership effort for training spies was boosted (by 0.26) at the expense of officer training, to ensure there would be enough in reserve for up to double the current rate of monthly losses.


    By 3 July the new spy presence in Manchukuo was fully established and counter-espionage efforts were given full priority. Manchukuo had four teams in the field at home, and none in reserve.


    In Manchukuo, domestic spies were caught on 4, 6 and 13 July. Soviet agents there were caught there on 10, 11 and 29 July. By the end of the month, Manchukuo’s domestic spy strength still stood at four, meaning they had replaced the three teams they had lost. [NB: in one of the run-throughs I had to abandon due to computer problems, they were down to one or two by the end of the month.]


    In Japan, a Kempeitai team was neutralised on 6 July, while three Soviet teams were lost – on 11 (to stooges from Manchukuo), 24 and 26 July. The Japanese had replaced the team they had lost, to finish on the same strength as they had started – three. [NB: they were down to about one in the discarded run-through. The GRU seems to have been far less successful the second time round in both locations.] Of interest, they were producing a lot of convoys: the Soviet and Allied submarine efforts must be causing them a fair bit of trouble!


    The NKVD reported they had arrested a total of 11 spy teams in the Soviet Union during the month. [NB: Just taking this figure off the espionage screen now, rather than recording each one and where they came from. Too much like hard work and generally only of marginal interest. From here onwards I’ll be concentrating on the countries I have active espionage operations in.]

    On the diplomatic influence front, the charm offensive was maintained on Turkey and Spain [both Comintern victory condition countries and still non-aligned], while Sweden was self-aligning to the Comintern. No specific effort was being made to influence Afghanistan [not important enough to warrant two research projects-worth of leadership effort], but it was drifting towards the Comintern a little more than to the other factions. Influence in Spain was now being contested by the Allies, but Turkey was drifting rapidly for now.



    ******

    5. Research and Production

    At the beginning of the month, another new air base (the second) was commenced and put to the top of the production queue (once deployed, this would double the capacity and expansion rate for new air bases in the Far East’s Northern sector). At that point, the upgrade bill stood at 115.5 IC (out of 318 total) and reinforcements at 6.4 IC.

    By 7 July, with new upgrades, the requirement had jumped to 148 IC, with 4.4 IC for reinforcements. Supply production was at a little over 60 IC (and still falling behind), with a constant 19 IC sunk into consumer goods. This left only 84.4 IC for the production queue – a heavy drag on Soviet expansion of its armed forces and military infrastructure.

    The next research advance came on 10 July, with interdiction tactics being improved (another carry-over tech from the AI). In line with equipment development, effort was now switched to heavy bomber crew training for the new models that would soon be developed in prototype.


    The first level of nuclear theoretical research was achieved on 22 July and, due to the special focus on this area and its long and expensive lead-times, the effort was maintained for now to assist with practical research efforts. Research would have to reach Level 4 before a bomb could be produced. And a nuclear reactor built. [Note, Superior firepower was also now being researched – missed the screen shot for whatever it had replaced some days before.]


    23 July saw the espionage training rate lowered [by 1 LS] after reserve spy teams reached eight, despite attrition in Manchukuo and Japan during the month to date. This was switched into established an extra new research project team, which began work on supply production to help address the great cost of keeping the Far Eastern Theatre supplied (all the other relevant supply-related techs were already being worked on).


    Two projects finished on 29 July. Operational level organisation (always useful to reduce post-attack reorganisation delays) reached Level 4: civil defence (a bit ahead of time – a 1945 tech) was the next to be improved. With the damage being taken by formations in the east, quicker recovery was very important.


    And after mechanical computing capability was improved to aid research efficiency, ways to further improve industrial production were sought: not only were current demands for supplies and upgrades in particular stretching factories to the limit, but with the construction of a [very very expensive and time consuming, so I discovered, never having built one before in HOI3!] nuclear reactor becoming necessary in the near future, that strain would be even greater.


    Indeed, as the month ended, Soviet industrial planners reviewed the current and coming requirements. Three projects would be completed in August (a new air base; improvement to the Irkutsk air base, which would roll over to the next level; and a new mech division) would free up around 17.5 IC. Supply production was currently running at 87.68 IC just to keep roughly even with consumption on a day-by-day basis. With many of the infantry division upgrades having ‘washed through, the upgrade bill was back down to ‘only’ 76.76 IC. Leaving around 133 IC for production. But out of that, with civil nuclear research having reached the required level, funds for a new nuclear reactor (which could now be built) would have to be found.


    And the estimate for that was a whopping 63.75 IC – for 229 days! [Ouch! Stalin almost choked when briefed.] Commencement was not authorised immediately, but would have to start soon if the timeline for a Soviet atomic bomb was to be kept on track.


    The dormant US lend-lease program was a lost opportunity, as aid was approved but had originally been routed through Vladivostok, long occupied by the Japanese. One industry bureaucrat came up with the idea of cancelling the current route and then reapplying to the US for a resumption, which they would hopefully target through a different port. [I had never tried this before, so am experimenting to see what the system comes up with. But there’s no real risk, as I was getting nothing at present.] In that way, crafty Soviet apparatchiks hoped to get the US funding to indirectly help support the development of a nuclear weapon which might be used against the Allies one day!



    ******

    6. Summaries

    Once again, the Japanese had made a few more territorial gains than the Soviets, especially in the north. But these were limited, and importantly the security of Uliastay had been improved. The Soviet defence was firming up in all but the very north of the line.


    Soviet Far East general situation as at 31 July 1944.

    Uliastay was now well secured and Tarycin provided a buffer against another Japanese threat.


    Marshal Karpezo, the Far Eastern Theatre Commander, was asked for his views on the situation. He was comparatively optimistic and in general terms had no requests for new units. [Though there is a discrepancy between ‘what the theatre needs’ and what is needed on the front facing Japan.]


    There didn’t seem to be any missed battle reports this month :): the Soviets suffered 6,004 casualties and the Japanese 9,116 to ground combat. Japanese air attacks killed another 1,839 Soviet troops, while Soviet ground attacks killed 4,572 more Japanese soldiers. [All figures include minor allies where they were engaged in the combat.]

    ******

    Other than in Indo-China, there was no change of front lines noted in South East Asia during July.


    The Allies had made net gains in Indo-China in the centre, though they were narrow in frontage. It was uncertain which side was more likely to find itself ‘pocketed’.


    The Japanese had made more gains in Australia and were inching towards Melbourne. One could only hope their long sea supply lines were being mercilessly harried!


    And no ground had exchanged hands in the Pacific.

     
    Chapter 6 – August 1944
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    Chapter 6 – August 1944

    AuthAAR’s Notes: The PC version of the game performed perfectly for this play-through with the addition of the podcat.exe file, so looks like all is well again on that front. I’m doing something a little different with the battle reports on the summary maps now, to make the flow of action a little easier to follow visually (I hope) but without adding text to the boxes. I have the box outline and an arrow in the colour of the attacker (blue for friendly, red for enemy: NATO style even though I know it’s the USSR), with the little battle icon showing who won (or neutral orange for a battle still in progress).

    ******
    1. Persia

    The first surprise of the month came not in the Far East – but to the south of the Caucasus. At 2100 hr on 1 August 1944, Persia had – most unwisely – decided to not only join the Axis but to declare war on the USSR! The Japanese may have liked this small second front being opened, but Persia would be isolated. Stalin went in for his slice of the action, hoping to conquer it whole before the Allies could get their greasy hands on its oil fields. And having some Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean ports with direct land links to the Motherland would be a great bonus in years to come, if it could be managed.


    Initial moves ordered by the (AI) Caucasus Theatre Commander, 1 August 1944. Seem fair enough.

    Theatre control for the Caucasus was immediately set to manual. The Western Front HQ was set to full AI, given the direction to use aggressive tactics, an attacking stance and an air offensive in prosecuting the war. All air units were assigned to Front HQ, with the three armies (4th, 13th and 19th) reorganised somewhat and a few reasonably nearby divisions added. 4th Army would remain a reserve formation, with no units assigned (it already was). The larger 13th Army had the bulk of the divisions (15 in three full corps), to the west of the Caspian Sea, while 19th Army had eight divisions in two corps to its east – and it seemed they faced the bulk of the Persian Army. All Persian VP cities were set as AI Front HQ objectives.


    By 18 August, good progress had been made with no opposition in the west, while Soviet forces had flanked the Persian defences in the east. Western Front HQ had (quite logically I suppose, though at some cost in time and supplies) sent a good number of forces around the top of the Caspian Sea to reinforce 19th Army. [Had I been running them, I think I just would have added them to the western offensive and driven to Tehran, the oilfields and other VP cities, but it’s the AI’s war here, so …]


    By 20 August, the first VP objective – Tabriz – was almost surrounded and its fall imminent. No Persian units had appeared in that sector to contest the advance.

    In the eastern sector, the first battle of the campaign was fought and won in Sabzevar between 21-24 August as 19th Army now sought to roll up the Persian line from the east.


    Tabriz was fully surrounded in the early hours of 24 August and taken by 1st Guards Division at 2200 hr that night. Persian surrender progress went to 18.6% (14.3% of VPs vs 76.7% NU).

    Three days later, another attack was launched by 19th Army at the next province to the west of Sabzevar, at Gonbad e Kavus. It was again no pushover, with fighting still going by the end of 31 August.


    Operations in Persia – August 1944.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector

    The month opened with fighting still going on in Tjung, at the far north of the line. The Soviet defenders held, the Japanese being defeated with heavy losses on 1 August. Further south, the enemy renewed their attack on the key stronghold of Stanovoe Nagore, being defeated also with heavy losses on 5 August after two days of fighting. Both battles had uncontested Japanese air support, being out of range of the nearest Soviet fighters in Irkutsk.

    By late on 6 August, while a number of reinforcing units had made it to the front in the north, many were still in transit, especially to 6th Army.


    The first new air base was ready on 9 August and was placed in Mutina. It was hoped it was far enough back (and shielded by mountains) to be relatively safe, without being too far back from the front for the shorter range fighters and CAS to be effective. [At this point I waited to see if the AI army HQs would order aircraft forward quickly by themselves.]


    Mutina was straight away made a 15th Army defensive objective – just in case. An expansion of the air base was immediately ordered and placed at the top of the production queue, as it would soon be busy.

    The Japanese had occupied Lensk earlier in the month after a victory there in late July. A Soviet counter-attack began on 7 August, ending in a convincing Soviet victory after four days of fighting that killed over 1,300 enemy soldiers. Japanese air strikes on the attackers in Arylakh from 9-10 August were not enough to prevent the heartening Soviet victory.

    But the Japanese had started their own attack on the exposed province of Njuja at the same time. They claimed victory there on 8 August, once again aided by heavy air support. However, Soviet reinforcements were on the way: they were not yet ready to give up the province.

    With the AI HQs showing no signs of sending aircraft forward to Mutina yet and Japanese air support causing heavy casualties in the north, three groups were ordered to rebase there on 10 August. [Temporarily detached, transferred, then put back under 15th Army command.]


    Another new mechanised division was deployed – to 6th Army – on 14 August.


    After a few days of quiet, on 18 August another Japanese attack went in on Tjung, once again with Japanese air support. They would keep the missions up uninterrupted until 23 August: Tjung was too far north for the fighters newly based in Mutina to intercept. Despite this, the Soviets would win once again by 22 August, though they were now in a severely weakened state.


    The Mutina air base was designed to provide fighter cover from the edge of Irkutsk’s operational radius to the south. With Jakustk having been lost in earlier fighting, the second new air base on order would need to be placed further north again to cover that end of the line.

    On 19 August, the Japanese had made another attempt, with fresh troops, to dislodge the still-weary garrison in Stanovoe Nagore. At this time, it seemed all the Japanese air units were being used in Tjung. Despite this, the Soviets were forced to retreat on 22 August. The fight for the province was not yet over, however, as once more Soviet reinforcements were on their way.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, 1-21 August 1944.

    ******

    The third battle for Tjung in August proved the decisive one. Badly degraded after the last attack, which had finished earlier on 22 August, the Japanese assaulted yet again with new units a few hours later. This time, no resistance was offerred, with the defenders retreating without a fight early on the 23rd. Successive Japanese air attacks from 18-23 August had killed around 3,000 Soviet defenders from a number of divisions – a horrendous toll.

    With another division slipping in on 23 before the Japanese could occupy it, Njuja was again being fought over. With Japanese air support swapping from Tjung to Njuja the next day, the Soviets lost again on 24 August, though casualties were relatively light on both sides.

    Three days later, Japanese attention once again fell on Stanovoe Nagore: the Soviets seemed determined to hold it and another defensive force had been sent in. Their unprepared positions were attacked on 27 August, again with Japanese air support striking early on 28 August. But this time, the battle was in range of Mutina and the Soviet fighters there rose to their duty.


    The Japanese TAC had no fighter escorts. Their first raid hit home, but they took some damage in a night dogfight. They returned at 0900 hr, but this time were savaged, abandoning their ground attack. No more enemy aircraft were spotted for the rest of the month. The third battle of the month for Stanovoe Nagore was won by the Soviets at 2300 hr on 31 August, after four days of heavy fighting: and how sweet it was!

    This victory was followed up by dual Soviet attacks on Sorgo and Artemovskij beginning on 29 August. They were both still in progress by 2300 hr on 31 August.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, 22-31 August 1944.

    ******

    3. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    Soviet and Mongolian forces began an attack on 7 August from Taryacin, which they had retaken the month before, on Tsetserlig. As before, in the southern sector in was the Soviets with heavy air superiority, launching uncontested ground strikes on the Japanese. After relatively light fighting, the Comintern troops were victorious on 8 August. Many more enemy troops were killed from the air than on the ground.

    A new mechanised division was allocated to 15th Army on 10 August, to help strengthen the garrison near Irkutsk, which seemed rather thinly held, though it had not been put under recent pressure.


    By 12 August, new Japanese formations had occupied Testserlig before the Comintern troops could advance into it. Indeed, they began their own attack on Taryacin, where the defenders were still somewhat disorganised from the battle that had finished just four days before.

    Despite ferocious Soviet air raids on the two provinces the attack was being launched from (Dzhirgalanta and Ubur Khangaiin) on 12 and 13 August, between them killing well over 2,000 Japanese troops, 235 SD was forced to retreat from Taryacin at 0800 hr on 13 August.

    The 4th Mongolian Militia Division was left to defend by themselves – and without Soviet air support, which ceased with the retreat of 235 SD. [Poor form, HQ 1st Army! o_O] Thus abandoned, they resisted gallantly until 1300 hr on 15 August (with no report of their casualties, of course). A few more Soviet air raids were launched on Dzhirgalanta and Ubur Khangaiin on 20 August long after they had retreated (not quite sure why).

    235 SD arrived in the temporary Mongolian capital of Uliastay at 1400 hr on 25 August. At least the city was heavily garrisoned by then (still set as a defensive objective for the Mongolians and 1st Army) and should be in no immediate peril.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, 1-31 August 1944.

    ******

    4. Far East - Naval Operations

    The 10th Sub Squadron (I renamed them all from ‘Navy’ to make them a bit easier to track on the outliner) finished its refit on 16 August and was sent out to plug the last gap in the patrol zones west east of the Japanese mainland.


    And they sunk their first convoy on 17 August, before they were even a quarter of their way to their patrol zone! Good work, lads. This marked an up-tick in convoy sinkings, with only one before 17 August and another five from then (including 10th SS’s success), giving a total of six for the month (one less than in July).

    ******

    5. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    A check was made early in the month to re-send the lend-lease request to the US to hopefully get a new workable route open. But the last diplomatic team required until 7 August to return from its mission cancelling the old request for Vladivostok.

    A small trade with Cuba was approved on 19 August – only noted here for its diplomatic influence effect [I tend to accept all fair ones with neutral powers for those reasons].


    On 26 August, it was decided to counter the influence being exerted by both the Axis and Allies on Nationalist China: the USSR could not afford for them to fall into either camp. The required leadership effort was taken from spy and officer training.


    While Molotov was at it, he added an initial war goal for Persia to bring it into the Communist orbit. [The next one will be role-played to puppet it rather than conquer.]

    The spy war in Japan during August was very successful: no Soviet agents were caught and three Kempeitai teams were eliminated, with four added during the month, leaving them with four teams – one more than they had started with. But it had forced them to presumably divert more effort into counter-espionage at no further cost to the USSR.

    It was a different story in Manchukuo, where four Soviet spy teams were eliminated for three Manchurian ones, who added two during the month to finish with three, one fewer than they started with. Presumably they had less capacity to replace them than the Japanese and there had also been no more Manchurian ‘stooge’ interventions in Japan, either.

    The USSR had replaced all their losses in Manchukuo, finishing with 10 each there and in Japan, another 10 at home and eight in reserve – the same as at the beginning of the month, with four replacements produced to exactly offset the Manchurian losses (38 agents in total). A total of 14 foreign spies (all comers) had been caught in the USSR during the month, three more than in July.


    By the end of the month, the three countries being actively influenced by the USSR were Spain, Turkey and Nationalist China. Sweden was still aligning itself towards the Comintern.


    And yes, the indolent and forgetful bureaucrats in Molotov’s Foreign Ministry had indeed forgotten to put in the new request to the US for a lend-lease resumption! After some swearing and cursing, the request was sent off last thing on 31 August – and was soon agreed to! It would take a few days for the new receiving point to be determined and the aid to (hopefully) start flowing. Well away from any likely Japanese interference!



    ******

    6. Research and Production

    Light tank research was brought fully up to date on 12 August with new guns. Noting that an eventual invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would almost certainly be necessary, the USSR began to develop a marine infantry capability.


    On 19 August, the fifth level of developmentat Irkutsk air base was completed and level six begun straight away, again remaining near the top of the production queue.

    At a top secret meeting in Moscow on 21 August, the go-ahead was given for the building of the USSR’s first nuclear reactor. It would be a massive undertaking, absorbing fully a fifth of all Soviet industrial output. It would take until early April 1945 to complete and was given the highest of all priorities, many other projects having to be shuffled ‘below the line’ to make way for it. Project ‘First Lightning’ (Первая молния) had officially begun.


    A welcome boost to research efficiency through improved education came on 25 August. To follow up the development of marine infantry, research began on purpose-built landing craft designs. Following that, at least some introductory study of invasion tactics would be undertaken.


    Better infantry AT weapons were brought out on 28 August, which brought the infantry up to current world standards as well (and would increase the upgrade bill once more). The rather backward Soviet aircraft industry would be further modernised with better designs, aimed to eventually allow the use of airborne search radars. Without such advances, the Soviet Air Force could not be expected to compete effectively with the more modern aircraft designs of the leading Allied nations.


    The next day brought better infantry warfare doctrine, boosting the organisation of all such units. The priority was shifted to doing the same for fighter crews – another area that had been neglected to date and was at pre-WW2 standards (well behind TAC and CAS pilot training, for some reason).


    As August ended, secret and other infrastructure projects dominated the top of the Soviet production queue. The nuclear reactor and rocket test site alone absorbed almost 90 IC. Upgrades currently took another 55, supply almost 80 and around 19 for consumer goods. The table below shows which items remained in production (full or partial effort) and which would remain below the line until IC was freed up – or lend-lease received from the US.



    ******

    7. Logistics

    With the opening of the new air base in Mutina, it was decided soon after to start construction of a branch line for the Trans-Siberian Railway, to go through Oka up to Mutina. This might be extended later if another air base was built further north. Again, the project went into the ‘top half’ of the production queue.


    Infrastructure map view.

    And [as previously promised to readAARs], a study was made of currently supply conditions in the Far East at the end of August. Supply was generally good across the front (hardly any ‘unit in poor supply’ notifications are received, as a rule). Current supply holdings and throughput at five key sites are shown below. In general, local stockpiles of supplies and fuel seem quite high. The tenuous supply link to Kamchatka across the north remains in place for now.


    One question: I’m not currently shipping in any additional supplies through Petropavlovsk: I’d assumed it wasn’t necessary with the line still open to Moscow and the convoys would be very long and prone to Japanese interdiction. Is that right, or would there be any value in making the effort (there are spare convoys and escorts available if necessary)?

    The supply situation in Persia seemed to be all ‘in the green’. Though of course operations there would be chewing through more supplies for some time to come.

    ******

    8. Global Summaries

    As we have seen above, for the first time the USSR was able to largely hold the line in the Far East while making good progress on the new front in Persia. Only Taryacin in the south was lost to Japanese territorial encroachment during August 1944.


    Total recorded losses to land combat (including in Persia) for battles in which the Soviets were involved were 4,620 against 7,617 Axis soldiers killed. Soviet losses from air raids were greater, at 5,572; they inflicted 4,177 on the enemy. Total monthly combat losses for the USSR were therefore 10,192, with the Axis losing 11,794 men.

    ******

    In South East Asia, little changed, except for some British advances in Borneo and by the French-led Allies in Indo-China.


    The Allies seemed to again be gaining a little more than they were losing in Indo-China. A good little second front at least to distract the enemy.



    ******

    In Australasia and New Guinea, there had also been little change.


    A closer look at the Australian state of Victoria showed the Japanese attack towards Melbourne seemed to have been halted for now. The heavy air support now available out of Geelong may have something to do with that (nine TAC wings plus fighter escorts). And another front-line Australian division was on its way from the west.


    And the US had made a little progress in the Central Pacific, retaking Midway and Jarvis Islands.

     
    Chapter 7 – September 1944
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    Chapter 7 – September 1944

    AuthAAR’s Notes: I’m still working on streamlining the presentation and detail to make this AAR ‘Quick and Dirty’, but still sufficient to follow the war with some detail, especially over the parts where I exert more overall control. An interesting month, with noticeably different AI behaviour (guided on the Soviet side, in reaction on the Japanese side).

    ******

    1. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector

    The sector north of Lake Baikal again saw the bulk of the fighting, such that for reporting, the front has been split again into North, Centre and South. This also reflects changed commanded arrangement which occurred during the month, which will be explained below.

    While two major Soviet attacks begun the month before – on Artemovskij and Sorgo – continued, the first key development in the month came with the establishment of another new air base, in Olonek, at midnight on 2 September. This would be the crucial third base to complete air coverage of the entire Soviet front line.


    The improved branch rail line already under construction to Mutina would be extended another four provinces north to Olonek to try to improve supply flows for the large numbers of aircraft that would soon be based there. The transfer of aircraft from Europe and one TAC wing from the overcrowded Irkutsk base began immediately (2 x CAS, 2 x TAC, plus 1 x M/R to link up with the TAC as integrated escorts). A group of three INT wings would follow (from Voronezh, far to the west) at 1600hr.

    The Soviet attack on Sorgo begun on 29 August was called off early on 2 September: losses had been heavy on both sides, but despite inflicting more than they suffered, the Soviet attackers tired first. But almost straight away, at 0400hr the fresh 35 SD began a follow-up shock attack on the two weakened Japanese marine divisions defending Sorgo.

    As the new attack on Sorgo continued into 3 September, the overlapping defensive and offensive air coverage for the Far Eastern Front was complete. The two new northern bases in particular would take some time to build up and be able to cope with work-up and damage repair of their many wings at all adequately. But this new network would make a big difference, especially in the previously hard-hit northern sector.


    The second Sorgo attack saw the Soviets victorious on 3 September, though at a comparatively heavy cost. And the distances in the east meant the Japanese would be able to get reinforcements in place before the Soviets could secure it on this occasion. Sorgo was to become an almost obsessive Soviet focus for the rest of the month.

    The Soviet attack on Artemovskij, which had also started on 29 August, was won well by the Soviets on 4 September after six days of heavy fighting, though again the time taken to move in there meant it was still not occupied by the end of the month! And Tjung (the battle for which had been lost in August) finally fell to the Japanese at 0400hr on 5 September.

    To the south of these battles, the Soviets had launched yet another attack on 1 September, another major assault on Dronovskiy. It took five days of intense combat for the Soviets to triumph, which they did on 6 September. But, as with Artemovskij, despite no further Japanese opposition they had still not secured in by the end of September.

    During a short lull in operational tempo in the north, the delivery of a new mechanised division (236 MD) to 15th Army required one of the reserve corps HQs (15th Mechanised) held back in Oka to be activated and attached.


    Njuja, another province where the battle was lost in August, fell to the Japanese at 0900 hr on 10 September. But later that same day, the newly energetic Soviet commanders launched two new attacks. One was on Tjung, where 216 MD sought to break through the lines of the Japanese cavalry division which had advanced there five days previously. The battle would last five days, ending in a Soviet victory.

    The second attack was on Sorgo, necessitated by the arrival of fresh Japanese troops to contest the advance at 2200 hr on 10 September. The battle was ‘fast and furious’, with a reckless assault by three Soviet divisions striking an ambush by the latest Japanese troops sent to halt them.


    Within two days, Soviet forces had inflicted a heavy defeat on the unprepared defenders, killing over 1,200 of the enemy for fewer than 350 men lost. It seemed their determination to retake Sorgo was not to be denied.

    Over a week followed the victory in Tjung on 15 September where little combat occurred in the northern sector. On 13 September, more divisions had arrived to reinforce 6th Army’s lines in the far north. They were now pushing beyond Olenek and the army commander Marshal Shestopalov [all the AI’s own work] was spreading his men north-east to cover the narrow supply lines to Kamchatka, perhaps to head off the Japanese advance there, too.


    It was at this point, on 14 September, that the Commander 1st Far Eastern Front, Marshal Garnov [ie me :rolleyes:] rather unwisely granted his three army commanders the power to reorganise units under their command, thinking this might assist with the integration of new units being deployed to the front. The result was chaos! New corps HQs were suddenly formed; these then generated new army HQs, which then generated two new army group (ie Front) HQs! [OK, now I see just how zany AI organisational control can be].

    It took Garnov’s staff some time to untangle the mess that had been created, sending many disappointed new commanders back to staff jobs in the rear again. But one good thing did come out of it: the need to reset all the army objectives and unscramble the suddenly shambolic chain of command made Garnov realise that 1st Army in particular was spread too widely, north and south of Lake Baikal. Radio communication between 1st Army HQ and the corps HQs in the south had become unworkable too. It also meant that the switching of armies from one stance to another was not finely enough controlled, especially if different stances might become desired in those locations.

    7th Army was therefore brought out of reserve in Oka and attached to the 1st Far Eastern Front. Marshal Ryback took command of the two corps fighting in and around Mongolia in the south. He was also allocated two of the (escorted) TAC wings. Troops were shuffled from Marshal E.A. Egorov’s 1st Army to Ratnikov’s 15th and from there to the 6th Army of Marshal Shestopalov. It was now 6th Army and then 15th in the north, 1st (overlapping 15th and 7th) in the centre and 7th Army in the south. [More will be shown of the layout of 1st Army in the centre and 7th in the south in the respective sections.]


    6th Army (143,000 men in four corps) now had Olenek as its air support base, retaining its previous objectives of Jakutsk and Ulya, with Ust Aldan added to help safeguard the supply lines to Kamchatka. His orders were currently to remain on the defensive on the ground and in the air, but his power was building.


    Ratnikov’s 15th Army had 155,000 men in four corps. He retained Shilka and Tyndinskiy as offensive objectives, but the key pivot point of Stanovoe Nagore replaced Vitimsko Ploskogore as his defensive objective. The latter, on the north of Lake Baikal, would now be looked after by 1st Army.


    On the evening of 19 September, it was realised that no one had ordered the next expansion of the new airbase in Olenek as yet. This oversight was corrected, with the level two expansion request sent to near the top of the production queue.

    With the majority of the reinforcements now in place or close to arrival, Marshal Garnov switched the tactical direction of his army commanders (and those below them) from moderately defensive to moderately aggressive in nature. It was time to up the pressure on the despised enemy.


    This did not prevent 15 MD executing a tactical withdrawal from Tomtor when it arrived there and was attacked by advancing Japanese troops on the morning of 22 September. It was barely damaged in a short skirmish, but resumed its previous orders to secure Ust Aldan – much to the relief of his corps and army commanders. Tomtor would have to be fought for on another day.


    Garnov added to his previous orders for more tactical aggression that morning by boosting the stance of 15th Army to attacking on the ground and offensive in the air. The other three armies were left on a defensive stance for now, but all their air units were switched to the air offensive, to ensure maximum air support for troops attacking or under attack at the front.

    At 0500 hr on 22 September, the fast-moving 69 MD had been the first Soviet formation to arrive in Sorgo: it came under immediate assault by a Japanese infantry and cavalry division from the south, matched by an elastic defence. After a quick fight, the enemy backed off later that day, leaving 367 men dead on the field, with 45 Soviet soldiers killed.

    Another more determined Japanese attack started on Sorgo the next day, but it too was beaten off with even heavier enemy casualties on 25 September. And in Tjung, the Soviet advance after the victory there on 15 September ran into opposition: the Soviets pulled back after short firefight.

    The new spirit of aggression was shown in the air while the latest battle for Sorgo was fought out on the ground. The Japanese sent escorted TAC bombers to strike the Soviet defenders on 24 September. In their first mission from their new base in Mutina, three wings of Yak-3 interceptors rose to meet them, even though most were yet to achieve high operational readiness after re-basing there in August (base facilities were badly overstretched).


    But they did their job well, duelling with the Japanese fighter escorts and badly carving up the Japanese bombers, who were unable to press home their ground attack. No Japanese aircraft were seen again for the rest of the month. This would be their only foray: an enormous change from the damage they had done in the north in previous months.

    When 15 MD arrived to reinforce Sorgo at 0600 hr on 29 September, they leap-frogged the recovering defenders and launch a bold strike on Kedrovyy, to the south-east. Three enemy divisions were defending there, but all were still quite badly disorganised from previous fighting in Sorgo. The attack continued [at 50% progress] as September ended.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, September 1944. [Note: minor encounters (fewer than 100 troops lost on either side) are simply shown with a date, arrow and outcome icon.]

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Central Sector

    No battles carried over from August in the central sector, but the first week of the month saw a good deal of action near the north of Lake Baikal. An air group from Gorkiy (1 x TAC, 1 x M/R wing) was transferred to bolster the Soviet air units in Mutina, arriving early on 1 September.

    The first combat action was an attack by the Soviets from Vitimskoe Ploskogore on Burjatija – the first of six probes or fully fledged attacks on the province during the month. Straight away, an ill-fated Japanese spoiling attack on Vitimskoe Ploskogore was launched from Bukacaca.

    The Soviets soon discontinued their attack, both sides taking minimal casualties. But the Japanese continued for too long: by the next day, they had suffered over 1,100 casualties for the loss of only 25 Soviet defenders before they too stopped. Stories of brave but foolhardy banzai charges against Soviet machineguns were told for many years afterwards. To compound the Japanese misery, Soviet air attacks on Bukacaca killed 1,435 more of the enemy.

    Another short Soviet attack followed later on 2 September, but that too was soon over. The next Soviet attack – still on 2 September – came at 1100hr and was far more serious (two fresh and full-strength divisions on each side). The fighting would last for another five days, finishing in a Soviet victory on 7 September, with almost 1,500 Soviet and 1,700 Japanese soldiers perishing in the ground combat. The Soviets had also pounded Burjatija continuously from the air for the whole week with some heavy raids from planes based in Irkutsk: an estimated 4,521 Japanese troops were killed in those ground attacks.

    Things were quiet in the sector for the next week, the next event of note being the major higher command reorganisation of 1st Far Eastern Front on 14 September mentioned in Section 1 above. 1st Army was reduced to three corps (103,000 men) after 7th Army took over the bulk of forces in Mongolia, though some divisions south of Lake Baikal remained under 1st Army command.

    Marshal E.A. Egorov shared defensive duties for Stanovoe Nagore with 15th Army and Ulan Ude with 7th Army. 1st Army was given sole responsibility for the defence of Vitimskoe Ploskogore. Their ground and air forces remained on the defensive for now, though that did not prevent attacks being made when Egorov thought the conditions were suited. Which, where Burjatija was concerned, seemed to be all the time. Whether they were or not!


    After regarding the new army frontages and responsibilities, on 15 September Front Commander Garnov added one offensive objective (at Goryachinsk) to 1st Army’s remit in order to focus their efforts and drastically narrow (to both the north and south) the army’s frontage. This may also have encouraged Egorov’s almost unhealthy obsession with taking Burjatija. But Garnov was happy enough to see the enemy pressed harder and harder: this war must be ended at some point and Soviet territory needed to be liberated before the fight could be taken to the enemy’s homelands.


    A new attack on Burjatija was launched at 1800 hr on 16 September, again with heavy air support, when new Japanese defenders made it there before the advancing Soviets could occupy it. But the attempt at a shock attack was negated by a Japanese ambush. Even though the Soviets outnumbered the enemy two-to-one, the attack was off to a bad start. It continued until 19 September, but was broken off after another Japanese spoiling attack on Vitimskoe Ploskogore from Bukacaca. Both sides had lost over 600 men in Burjatija and the Japanese another 842 from the air. The Japanese broke off their spoiling attack more quickly this time, but still lost over 400 men in saving their comrades in Burjatija.

    Egorov was not finished with Burjatija: a new attack on 24 September was pressed home, again with air support, but by 26 September it too had failed, after a third corresponding Japanese spoiling attack from Bukacaca (little more than a probe this time). The Soviets lost more than twice as many men as the defenders on the ground in Burjatija, but not before Soviet air power had inflicted 1,654 casualties on the Japanese troops.

    Then hoping to surprise the Japanese in Burjatija by doing exactly the same thing as he had done the previous five times that month, Egorov ordered a quick follow-up attack by different units later on the 26th! But this amounted to little more than a brief probe, broken off after Soviet casualties mounted at over five times the rate of the defenders. Egorov’s frustrating attempt to take the province had ended in failure.

    There was a final sting in the tail for September, with a hopeless-looking [5%] Japanese attack on Stanovoe Nagore starting on the 30th.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Central Sector, September 1944. A veritable traffic jam in and around Burjatija.

    ******

    3. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    187 SD arrived to reoccupy Taryacin at 1300 hr on 4 September, only to find itself under heavy attack [62%] by approaching Japanese forces. More Soviet and Mongolian units were on their way from Uliastay, but the distance involved meant none were able to join them before they were forced to retreat on 8 September, with the Japanese taking heavy losses (well over 800), but the Soviets losing almost 1,300 men. During this time, Soviet aircraft based in Irkutsk hit the Japanese stepping off points for the attack hard: 3,716 were killed in Dzhirgalanta from 4-8 September and 1,736 in Tsetserlig on 6 and 8 September, butthey could not prevent a Japanese victory and eventual reoccupation of Taryacin.

    The 14 September reorganisation activated Marshal Ryback’s HQ 7th Army, which had so far been held in reserve in Oka, and given it command of the southern sector (82,690 men in two corps). They shared Ulan Ude as a defensive objective with 1st Army, taking over sole Soviet responsibility for Uliastay and Ulanbaataar. They too remained in a primarily defensive posture for now.


    With the latest loss of the briefly-held Taryacin and developments elsewhere on the Far Eastern Front, Ryback was given an additional offensive objective of Tsetserlig on 27 September, with an attacking land stance added to the air offensive ordered some days before. His HQ asserted their strength was far lower than the enemy’s, but perhaps the Mongolians could help, while any more new troops deploying to the theatre were promised to 7th Army (though none were immediately to hand).


    Across the whole Far Eastern Front, a more aggressive posture by the Soviets in most sectors had seen a dramatic rise in casualties on both sides, though as yet not many territorial gains – Sorgo being the brightest spot. Ground combat saw 8,679 Soviet and 12,030 Japanese troops killed during the month in the theatre. Soviet air strikes killed a massive 13,904 Japanese and puppet troops, while not a single Soviet soldier perished as a result of Japanese air action – their one attempt at a raid having been turned back after interception from the Yak-3s newly stationed in Mutina.

    Excluding the one battle in Persia, almost 26,000 Japanese and other Axis troops had been killed in the Far East in one month, against 8,679 Soviets. Japan still had plenty of reserve manpower (an estimated 1,365,000 as at 30 September), but it was hoped the drain on Japanese industrial capacity (estimated at 211 IC) to replace such losses might have a proportionally greater effect.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – including Southern Sector, September 1944. This month represents perhaps the clearest indication yet that the initiative is at last shifting from the Axis to the Comintern in the Far East.

    ******

    4. Persia

    The battle for Gonbad e Kavus, in the eastern sector of the Persian Front, had begun on 27 August and turned into a long and bloody affair. It took seven days of heavy fighting before the Soviets were able to assert victory, losing around 1,600 men to the Persians’ slightly more than 1,800.

    But movement was generally slow in this theatre and no other battles were fought during the month. The Persians finally deployed a unit in the west – a cavalry division which retook an undefended Ardabil at 0100 hr on 27 September. With the distances and terrain, progress in this theatre too would be slow and laborious, it seemed. The Allies seemed not to be taking any interest as yet.



    ******

    5. Naval Operations

    Soviet submarines continued to operate largely unhindered in the waters off Japan, sinking eight convoys (sometimes two at a time) during the month.

    ******

    6. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    The start of the month had seen a search for spare TAC bombers that might be sent to the new air bases in the Far East. It turned up an anomaly that stumped Soviet diplomats. It seemed a substantial number of German and Hungarian wings were still sitting in Soviet air bases months after the war in Europe had finished. This was despite neither power having a military access agreement with the USSR. And there seemed no way [other than tagging over and ordering them out, which I suppose I will have to do] to get rid of them by diplomatic means!


    Another trade opportunity with Spain was taken up on 4 September: the Allies were in a tug-of-war for Spanish sentiment, so any additional influence was welcome. And Turkey was now being courted by all three factions, which now had them vacillating between them.


    On 6 September came news the Swedes were no longer aligning themselves to the Comintern. A pity, but they were not important enough (yet) to be directly targeted by Soviet agents of influence.

    As the espionage war got more intense in Japan and Manchukuo, the smaller Japanese puppet state was eventually ground down. By 20 September they had no field teams left, with the Soviets switching to some good old-fashioned agitprop to undermine Manchurian national unity (if the Japanese stooge could even be described as a ‘nation’).


    And as the month drew to a close, a class traitor was arrested: a Communist Chinese spy had attempted to infiltrate the Soviet Union! Shame on them. His neutralisation was especially brutal. Even as a government in exile, they found the time and resources to try to spy on the country of their philosophical inspiration (or so the Soviets conceived of themselves).


    The month had seen Japan start with four teams, add one but lose three, leaving them with only two in place by the end of the month. Manchukuo had started with three and added two more to their domestic counter-espionage operations in September, but had lost all of them to Soviet efforts, leaving them with none by the end of the month. Their national unity had been at 72.6% on 20 September (when Soviet influence efforts began) and had fallen a little to 72.3% by month’s end.

    The Soviets had also taken heavy losses in this struggle. They had lost three teams in Japan and two in Manchukuo, while only producing an extra three in the month. They maintained a full 10-team presence at home and in Japan and Manchukuo, but now had only six in reserve, down two from the end of August.

    ******

    7. Research and Production

    The new lend-lease agreement with the US was up and running by 3 September, with a Soviet convoy ferrying supplies from Boston to Leningrad. And it began running at over 63 IC! It was almost precisely the same amount as the Soviets were spending on the building of their first nuclear reactor. Stalin could not help but chuckle mischievously when he heard the news. By later in the month, the amount was averaging around 70 IC. It did show though what a massive industrial base (over 594 IC) the US alone maintained.


    A notable day in Soviet aircraft design came on 7 September with the first home-grown strategic bomber design being finalised. None would be built for a while, however, given the great backlog in Soviet production caused by nuclear and rocket projects. But the day would come, perhaps when the designs were a bit more advanced. Attention was turned to improving armoured organisation instead.


    Another improvement (and additional upgrade bill) for single engine aircraft armament on 11 September was followed up with a project to develop better twin engine airframes.


    As at 15 September, the following were the major aircraft types in service with the Soviet Air Force.


    The strategic bomber program advanced further on 18 September with a new airframe design. Given how backward this aspect was, research effort was maintained there.


    And on 21 September, small fuel tank design advanced sufficiently for the innovation of drop tanks to be pursued. Range for INT and CAS in particular was always a limitation, felt even more so on the Far Eastern front. This was another important step in improving the effectiveness of the Soviet air arm.


    By 24 September, the aircraft improvements in particular had increased the upgrade bill to just over 80 IC again. But the supply situation had settled somewhat, with 70 IC being enough to keep the stockpile in rough equilibrium, or even growing a little again.

    A new parachute division (still working through previously ordered units here) was deployed on 27 September – it was paired up with a transport wing and held in strategic reserve, under the command of the Baltic Theatre back in Vitsyebsk.


    The final tech advance of the month came on 28 September. Yet another aviation improvement – to large fuel tanks – would extend the all-important range of Soviet strategic bombers. Vital for a proposed nuclear weapon delivery vehicle. The same line of research was renewed.



    ******

    8. Global Summaries

    South East Asia had seen the usual arm-wrestle in Indo-China (Stalin was quite happy to see neither side prevailing there, as long as they continued bleeding each other), but advances were made in various parts of the Dutch East Indies.


    The French and their allies seemed to be gradually gaining a slight advantage in Indo-China, but it was far from decisive as yet.


    The Dutch and British had finally broken out of Batavia and also sent troops from Eastern Java. They were on the cusp of expelling the Japanese from that island completely and may be able to pursue them across the Sunda Strait (over which the Japanese were now retreating) into resource-rich Sumatra. Anything that might begin to bring Japanese industry to its knees would be welcome in the Kremlin.


    And the Japanese had made some small advances in Australia during the month, but the key centres of Melbourne and Adelaide had not yet fallen. And the Japanese must be having difficulty keeping this theatre in supply.


    There were no changes in New Guinea or the Central Pacific.
     
    Chapter 8 – October 1944
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    Chapter 8 – October 1944

    AuthAAR’s Notes: The game behaved itself impeccably – I may be through the period of gremlins (he says boldly, thereby tempting fate).

    ******

    1. Far East Land Combat - Northern Sector

    The 6th Army was slowly beginning to exert its influence in the far north of the front, but it was a time-consuming process given the distances and terrain. There were a couple of probes and one major battle in the sector during October.

    The Japanese finally occupied Tomtor at 0400 hr on 7 October, following up their victory there in September. A short skirmish occurred when an approaching Soviet troop column bumped into the newly arrived Japanese division, but was soon broken off. Magasan, a remote province on the Pacific coast, fell at 0400 hr on 13 October.

    The largest battle during the month in the north began at 1300 hr on 16 October, when the Japanese marines of 9th Rikusentai attacked 129 SD in Zigansk. While the Soviets had about 2,000 troops fewer than their attackers, they were dug in on favourable terrain and had the tactical advantage [-36% for the attackers]. After eight days of grim fighting, the Japanese attack was defeated with heavy casualties.

    An enemy approach on Susuman was blocked by the arrival of Soviet troops on 22 October, where a couple of soldiers were killed in a skirmish before the Japanese withdrew. The Soviet division then kept moving to their assigned objective of Ust Aldan.

    And Commander 6th Army was given a new wing of each of TAC and INT (temporarily combined for work-up, though their ranges are not ideally matched) on 27 October at the primitive and overcrowded air base in Olonek. Not that any aircraft from either side flew any missions during the whole of the month.




    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Northern Sector, October 1944.

    Note: as previously, minor skirmishes and probes (fewer than 100 troops lost on each side) are simply shown with a date, arrow and outcome icon.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Central Sector

    Again, the heaviest action came in the Central sector (Burtatija has been included in the South for this report). Two battles had been carried over from September: a Soviet attack on Kedrovyy and a Japanese attack on Stanovoe Nagore.

    But first, a strong new Soviet attack on Sinyuga was launched at 0000 hr on 1 October 1944. Soviet medium tanks (8 Tank Div) and infantry (23 and 123 SDs) attacked a mixed force of three Axis divisions (marines, militia and cavalry, some already damaged from previous fighting) in a blitzing attack, which the Japanese commander attempted to delay.

    An hour later, the Japanese countered just to the north of Sinyuga with their own three-division attack on Sorgo (15 and 69 Mot Divs). This forced the existing Soviet attack on Kedrovyy to be abandoned soon afterwards, before either side had suffered many casualties.

    The Soviet attack on Sinyuga proved a great success, with victory on 2 October bringing over 1,100 Japanese dead with around 250 of the attackers falling in the assault. And the rash Japanese attack on Stanovoe Nagore, which had started on 30 September, was beaten off by 2 October, the Japanese suffering heavy casualties (nearly 1,200) at almost ten times the ratio of Soviet defenders lost.

    But in Sorgo, the Japanese pressure proved too great to withstand: defeat came on 4 October after three days of intense fighting and heaving casualties among the Soviet defenders (over 1,900 killed) before they retreated.

    The first expansion (to Level 2) of the air base at Mutina was installed on 10 October, and the next scheduled straight away, with a high priority.


    A new battle erupted in Sorgo at 0600 hr on 12 October, when 24 SD arrived before the Japanese could occupy it. They attempted an elastic defence against as assault by the Konoeshidan Guards and 6th Infantry divisions. The fight began as an even match tactically [52%]. But the momentum swung to the Japanese, who achieved a big victory by 14 October, killing over a thousand Soviet defenders for less than half that many casualties themselves.

    At 1700 hr on 13 October, a quick Soviet probe on Dronovskiy had found the Japanese defenders who had just slipped in not up to the fight. They fled, as the Soviets advanced to occupy the province.

    On 14 October, a probe at 0100 hr by the Japanese on Sinyuga was soon halted after a reckless assault by cavalry on a Soviet light tank division was repulsed with 212 enemy killed for seven Soviet soldiers. Even foolhardy Japanese cavalry officers with a death wish knew when the odds were too great to sustain an attack!

    After fighting for it repeatedly, Japanese troops occupied Sorgo with a single infantry division at 0500 hr on 15 October. Only to find themselves under attack from two Soviet rifle divisions an hour later [starting progress 65%]. The battle would continue for another four days, until the Soviets won through after a tough fight on 19 October.

    On the night of 16 October, the Soviet 219 Mech Div had rolled into Dronovskiy, only to find itself under attack by two Japanese infantry divisions – though only one of them was fresh. Their shock attack completely negated the Soviets’ attempt to delay them. Outnumbered though fighting in good terrain, the Soviets found themselves at a moderate initial disadvantage [-56%]. But over five days of frantic fighting, the Soviets managed to turn the situation around and on 21 October won a convincing victory, inflicting twice as many casualties as they received.

    The Japanese were not done trying to take Sinyuga, attacking again at 0100 hr on 19 October with the Konoeshidan Guards Division. But they came up against the T-34s of the 8th Tank Div and were repulsed heavily after five days of determined but futile attacking.

    The fighting in and around Dronovskiy around this time became a confused set of probes and spoiling attacks exchanged between the two adversaries, not amounting to much, but by 21 October it remained in Soviet hands, and would for the end of the month.

    24 October saw the most determined Japanese attack yet on Sinyuga just before midnight. The battle was still going at the end of the month, gradually swinging in Japan’s favour. By 0900 hr on 30 October, the defence was in real trouble, though they fought on and 123 SD was just a few days away from joining in.


    The Soviets were equally determined to retake Sorgo, with another attack kicking off at 1000 hr on 24 October with two rifle divisions against a defending Japanese cavalry division . The Soviets won the battle the next day and still continued their advance by the end of the month.

    The Soviets finished the month with a breakthrough attack by 21 Tank Div (medium tanks) on two cavalry divisions, a marine division and four enemy HQs in Novaya Chara at 1300 hr on 27 October. At first the attack seemed a little dubious [54%], but all three enemy divisions were well worn and the Soviets were fresh and determined. By late on 28 October they were blitzing the defenders [67%] and won a useful victory on 29 October.

    During this period, no friendly or enemy air sorties were flown in the Central sector.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Central Sector, October 1944.

    ******

    3. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    There will be no surprise to learn that the first action in this sector was an unsuccessful Soviet probe on Burjatija on 1 October, mercifully cut short as the casualties began piling up in the first hour. Of more destructive value was the air support that continued for the day, even after the attack was over, killing 612 Japanese defenders.

    As the Soviets prepared their plans for the next ‘surprise’ attack (on Burjatija, of course), the promise of extra troops for 7th Army was acknowledged. 26th Corps, on the German border, was topped up to five infantry divisions in strength, detached from the Baltic Theatre and put on trains for the long journey east. They would rendezvous in Wilno first, then travel together as a group to the Far Eastern Front.


    On 5 October, with nothing much happening in Mongolia despite the orders given 7th Army (who considered they had too few troops for the offensive they had been tasked with) and suggestions already passed to the Mongolians, a new offensive objective was set for them.


    Having done a ‘reconnaissance in force’ on 1 October, a more determined Soviet attack began (on Burjatija, if it needs to be stated) on 5 October. Hundreds of Soviet planes based in Irkutsk roared overhead to strike the enemy defences for that day and the next, killing an estimated 1,034 defenders. But the result was the same as before, except with more casualties: 454 Soviet attackers to 213 Japanese defenders were killed before the attack was called off on 6 October.

    As 1st Army licked its wounds and 7th Army and the Mongolians did very little, another new mechanised division was deployed from training on 16 October. It was assigned to the newly activated 4th Mech Corps, which had been sitting in reserve at Oka, under 7th Army and began work-up just south of Irkutsk.


    The Level 6 expansion to Irkutsk air base was delivered on 18 October and the next improvement set in train straight away at the crowded airfield – the busiest in the Far East.


    1st Army decided to send a probe on 27 October to see if the defences of Burjatija were as strongly held as they had been the many times they had been attacked previously. They were: the probe was called off straight away – though not before a single (almost token) air raid had killed 166 Japanese defenders. Just to keep them on their toes.

    Meanwhile, 7th Army and Mongolian indolence further south had allowed the Japanese to advance unhindered into Tszag, another province adjoining the temporary capital of Uliastay. It was held strongly enough, but this provocation could not be tolerated. By the Theatre Commander Marshal Garnov, anyway. A new suggestion was sent to the Mongolian commanders to retake Tszag – though there was no guarantee they would take any notice.




    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, October 1944.

    ******

    4. Persia

    There were no battles and no territory changed hands in Persia for the whole of October. Perhaps the Front Commander was waiting for all his forces on trains to the eastern sector to be in place before advancing again. If so, he may be getting a displeased visitor from STAVKA soon to find out why he refused to attack an outnumbered enemy.



    ******

    5. Naval Operations

    Soviet submarine operations got off to a slow start, with only two convoys sunk in the first half of the month. But it finished on a high note in the second, with another seven sunk to make it nine Japanese convoys for the month, again with little to challenge the Soviet submariners in their clunky old boats.

    ******

    6. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    On 8 October, Sweden decided to balance the Axis and Allied influence on its alignment by moving itself more towards the Comintern orbit. The Asian superpower (ahem) of Tibet was also seeking closer Comintern ties, while Soviet influence continued on Spain, Turkey and Nationalist China (the latter under review after some in the Foreign Ministry expressed doubts as to its value).


    Alas, Tibet stopped its alignment two days after this.

    The NKVD reported later in the month that a Finnish guerrilla cell had formed in Kalliosalmi, but they were not yet showing their hand.


    And after a quiet month in Manchukuo, a Soviet spy team was apprehended on 29 October. A review showed these Japanese puppets had managed to build up a small domestic counter-espionage capability again. In response, Soviet agents were ordered to split their efforts between counter-espionage and the disruption of national unity they had been concentrating on in recent weeks. The reports that this had sharply fallen to under 60% were not believed, however.


    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started the month with two teams and then added another three. But by the end of the month, the Soviets had eliminated all five, losing two teams doing it. Manchukuo had started with no agents but finished with two, losing none and eliminating the one Soviet team mentioned above. Their national unity was assessed to have decreased slightly from 72.3% to 70% by the end of the month [I tagged briefly to determine this, as the estimate of around 59% on the intel screen was pretty absurd].

    The Soviets had also taken heavy losses in this struggle. They had lost the three teams overseas, while only producing an extra five in the month. They maintained a full 10-team presence at home and in Japan and Manchukuo, and were now back up to eight in reserve, two higher in total from the end of September. The usual diverse swag of other foreign spies was also apprehended during the month sniffing around the Soviet Union.

    ******

    7. Research

    With the efficiency of Soviet industry improved again on 10 October, the great program to modernise the air force was continued, this time an improvement to the antiquated Great War era training for TAC bomber ground crews.


    The next day, night fighting equipment was introduced for infantry formations. But for some strange reason, it was not usable for motorised or mechanised infantry brigades, nor any armour-based formations. Still, it should be of some assistance for night attacks, once fully introduced. Out of date fighter ground crew training was the next area targeted for doctrine research.


    On 20 October supply transportation was improved – and that had assisted in the significant reduction of the supply demand in recent weeks (well down from the earlier peaks, allowing more to go back into the production queue, after upgrades were accounted for). It was decided to give the USSR’s special forces improved training as the next research priority.


    An advance in aero engine design enabled better performance though at a range penalty for all aircraft types. The loss of range would need to be offset by complementary research on fuel tanks. It was decided to keep research going on aero engines, as Soviet designers had mentioned the possibility of a new class of aircraft – helicopters – being developed for battlefield use, especially for medical evacuation. Single engine airframe design would also need to be improved at the next opportunity to enable that breakthrough to be researched.



    ******

    8. Global Summaries

    The Far East had seen some change of territory in both directions – the most promising for the Soviets being in the Central sector, while the Northern and Southern sectors had seen Japanese advances, though in more marginal and lightly held areas.


    Total recorded losses to land combat for battles in which the Soviets were involved were 7,221 against 11,001 Axis soldiers killed. There were no Soviet losses from air raids, while a far lower intensity of air operations saw only 1,812 Axis soldiers killed in October. They seemed unwilling to engage in interdiction of enemy attacks with ground strikes, despite general orders for an offensive air stance. Total combat losses for the USSR were therefore 7,221, with the Axis losing 12,813.

    ******

    The Allies had made significant advances into resource-rich Sumatra and western Java, but the Japanese had gained ground in Indo-China and had made a surprise new landing in eastern Java.


    Despite having strong forces in Indo-China, the Allies had problems holding their lines in October. The place was crawling with Japanese marine divisions.


    British marines had successfully crossed the Sunda Strait and begun to liberate southern Sumatra for the Dutch. And a guerrilla uprising in the north had taken advantage of Japanese distraction.


    But while the Dutch had continued to mop up western Java, they had been surprised by a new Japanese invasion of eastern Java, cutting off their HQ in Soerabaya: but the Japanese had not yet captured a port for resupplying their landed forces.



    ******

    In Australia, Adelaide had been lost, but counter-attacks in Victoria had given acting capital of Melbourne a buffer zone.


    The US 82nd Airborne in the north and Australian units near Melbourne, with heavy air support in place, had made some gains during the month.


    While there had again been no change – or any obvious sign of US activity – in the Central Pacific.

     
    Chapter 9 – November 1944
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 9 – November 1944

    AuthAAR’s Notes: The game once again played without a hitch. And I learned more about the vagaries of AI combat management. ;)

    ******
    1. Far East Land Combat - Central Sector

    There were no battles or skirmishes to report in the far Northern sector in November, with 6th Army firming up its positions and the Japanese not willing to attack. No territory exchanged hands there. The Central sector once again saw the most combat in the Far East, but it was generally less intense than in recent months, with the Soviets doing most of the attacking as the month wore on.

    As the month began, fighting in Sinyuga continued from 24 October, where two Japanese infantry divisions were attacking 8 Tank Div (medium tanks). That battle finished in a Soviet victory at 0400 hr on 1 November, with over 800 Soviet and 1,500 Japanese soldiers falling.

    The Japanese renewed their attack on Sinyuga at 2200 hr that night, with a fresh infantry division attacking the newly arrived 123 SD; 8 Tank Div was spent and was forced to withdraw as soon as the new attack began. The skirmish was over in five hours after the Japanese withdrew, with only light casualties on each side.

    The next major action started at 0100 hr on 5 November, with two Soviet rifle divisions attacking a Manchurian infantry division (and assorted HQs) in the mountains of Mogoca. This battle would last for another ten days before the Soviets emerged victorious, killing 1,465 enemy soldiers for 577 Soviet heroes lost.

    An attack at 1200 hr on 11 November by 21 Tank Div (medium) on a Manchurian militia division defending Novaya Chara was successful by 1700 hr on 14 November, with heavy Manchurian casualties, compared to light Soviet losses.

    But a follow-up Soviet attack by 123 SD on the Japanese 53rd Hoheishidan (their earlier adversaries in Sinyuga) on Kedrovyy at 1900 hr on 14 November met with sterner resistance, when their assault was ambushed. The Soviets were forced to withdraw three days later, with moderately heavy casualties suffered by both sides.

    As 100 and 324 SDs continued their advance on Mogoca (where they had won on 15 November), at 0400 hr on 25 November they encountered an already damaged [around 40% organisation] Manchurian militia division attempting a delaying defence. The Soviet commander MAJGEN Ponedelin launched a shock attack on the ill-prepared Manchurian militiamen, whose tactics were completely disrupted. This second (and smaller) battle of Mogoca was over by 2100 hr the following day, the Manchurians brushed aside with only light Soviet casualties.

    By the end of the month, Sorgo had been reoccupied (earlier in the month, after a Soviet victory there in October), Novaya Chara was secured and Soviet forces were still advancing on the mountainous Mogoca. There were no battles in progress as midnight approached on 30 November. No air sorties had been performed by either side in the Northern or Central sectors during the month.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Central Sector, November 1944.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    Early in November, the Japanese had started an attack on Mongolian troops defending Ider, north-east of Uliastay. No Soviet ground forces were involved, but Irkutsk-based Soviet aircraft launched a series of ground attacks in support of their allies on the Japanese forces attacking from Taryacin.

    This triggered a dogfight on the early morning of 3 November, when a Japanese fighter wing (based out of Ulaanbataar, where it must have recently relocated) attempted to intercept the attacking Soviet aircraft. But they never even got to engage the Soviet bomber escorts: with commendable enthusiasm and efficiency, two INT wings (44 and 47 IADs, flying Yak-3s) scrambled and intercepted the Japanese fighters over Muren. They savaged the Japanese, who were so badly damaged and demoralised that a rare ‘aerial victory’ was proclaimed by the Air Force Chief Yakov Alksnis. The enemy fighters didn’t attempt to intercept any more Soviet air missions for the rest of the month.


    But despite over 800 attacking enemy troops being killed in these raids from 3-4 November, the Mongolians were forced to retreat on 4 November.

    The Japanese followed up their victory in Ider ten days later with an ill-considered attack on Uliastay by one infantry division from Tarycin, at 1000 hr on 14 November. The provisional Mongolian capital was defended by the Soviet 2nd Guards Div and 187 SD, plus three Mongolian infantry divisions. There was another infantry division, and a garrison and militia division in reserve, while heavy Soviet air raids on Taryacin also disrupted the attackers. By the time the Japanese called off the attack three days later, they had lost over 1,100 men on the ground for about 200 Comintern casualties, while a further 1,500 were killed in Soviet air strikes.

    In response to the earlier Japanese advance on Ider, on 15 November 1st Army was ordered to switch to an attacking stance, which 7th Army had been instructed to do – to little discernible effect – the month before. On 18 November, the Japanese occupied Ider and both 1st and 7th Armies (both of which had forces in the vicinity) were ordered to retake it. However neither had acted on this command by the end of the month.


    1st Army had by now prepared an impressive build-up of divisions in the sector north-east of Lake Baikal: twelve divisions in all were poised there by the evening of 25 November. 1st Army had refrained all month from attacking Burjatija or Bukacaca, but with orders to attack and plenty of air support in range, maybe a major offensive would commence soon [If nothing happens in early December, I might assign a couple of specific objectives for those two provinces to see if it might prod them into action.]




    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, November 1944.

    ******

    3. Persia

    After the Persian front again remained quiet in early November, a fact-finding mission was sent from STAVKA on 6 November to investigate. The mystery was solved: due to a mistake in the transmission of orders, the Western Front commander Marshal Magon had had all his Persian objectives cancelled. [Duh! :rolleyes: No real idea how this happened – perhaps it resulted from a reorg or temporary detachment/reattachment of units the month before.] Too afraid to challenge what Magon thought must have been orders to hold in place, nothing had happened there for some weeks.

    No-one from Magon upwards to STAVKA itself could be sure who was to blame and, afraid any attempt to assign such might rebound on the accusers, the whole debacle was simply brushed under the carpet. New orders were soon reissued to conquer all key Persian centres.


    The troops were all eager enough and an attack on the Persian 1st Cavalry Division defending Ardabil began just two hours after the new orders were issued! 1st Guards Div and 28 SD shocked the defenders with the aggression of their assault. They had won their victory by 0800 hr on 9 November.

    By this time, both the western and eastern sectors were inspired by admirable revolutionary zeal (or fear of the NKVD) to resume the offensive, with broad advances on both fronts now well underway. The Persian Front had changed from ‘sleepy hollow’ to a hive of activity in just a few days.




    The battle of Diz Chah (western sector) began at 2200 hr on 10 November, as 69 Mtn Div and 325 SD closed with the Persian 5th Infantry. Victory came a day later after a short but sharp battle.

    The major battle of the front for the month began in Gorgan, a hilly province in the north of the Western sector, at 0100 hr on 14 November. Two Soviet second-string garrison divisions took on the well-entrenched Persian 2nd Infantry – and the initial odds were tough for the Soviets.


    A little over a day later, the attackers were reinforced by 68 Mtn Div, attacking from a new flank in Mayamey. This flank attack shocked the defending Persians, who had been attempting to delay. And having regular specialist mountain troops involved also made a big difference. The tide of battle in Gorgan began to swing to the Soviets.


    But it would take another four days of bitter fighting before the Soviets emerged victorious in Gorgan at 0300 hr on 19 November, both sides losing over a thousand men.

    183 SD attacked the retreating Persian 1st Cavalry in Abhar – due west of Tehran – at 0500 hr on 20 November, encountering no resistance as the Persians kept retreating east to their capital. By then, good progress had been made in both the east and west.


    Skirmishes followed in the west as the Soviet advance continued, with the Persians being beaten in Robat e Khan (1100-1700 hr on 24 November) and Darband (1300-1500 hr on 30 November), while Soviet troops had occupied Abhar, on Tehran's doorstep.


    Operational summary, Persia, November 1944.

    ******

    4. Naval Operations

    A new transport flotilla was completed on 26 November and deployed to Admiral Kuznetsov’s Red Banner Pacific Fleet in Petropavlovsk Kamcackji. The first instalment of the forces which may one day embark on an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands.

    Five Japanese convoys were sunk by Soviet submarines during the month, with no discernible opposition.

    ******

    5. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    2 November was a black day for the GRU in Manchukuo, with the locals arresting two Soviet spies at once, though they were soon replaced.

    In the west, the Soviets finally got sick of the Hungarian and German aircraft occupying Soviet air bases near the border with the Allied nations. Though not before Soviet agents had provided a detailed report of the types and characteristics of the planes stationed there. [I had to tag over briefly to get rid of them, so took the opportunity for a close look, which I thought was only fair and quite reasonable.]

    The Hungarian planes (CAS, TAC and INT) proved to be antiquated, pre-war crates. Nothing much to worry about there! They were sent back to their homeland with derisory gestures.


    However, once the German aircraft were flushed out of their closely guarded hangars in Nowogródek, the sight was far more sobering. All had jet engines, with the TAC (Ar-234B Blitzes) sporting radar-guided missiles and bombs, and the CAS (Hs-132s) were also equipped with radar-guided missiles. The Multi-role fighters (Me 262s) looked very nasty too, though at least they weren’t yet equipped with air-air missiles.


    If this was the standard of equipment among the leading Allied powers, then the recent frenetic technical research in Soviet aircraft design, engines and rockets was shown to be vital to prepare for any future conflict.

    [Game Question: for both these foreign air forces, their unit screens said they were being supplied from the location of their bases. Does this mean they may be getting supplies (if available) by air from their respective homelands? Or has the Soviet Union been supplying them all this time?]

    NKVD Head Ivan Proskurov reported on 20 November that the Finnish resistance cell detected the month before in Kalliosami had been located and destroyed. He furnished a report on revolt risk in Finland, which was worst in the south-east, near the Soviet border. There was also a report on unrest in the patchwork areas of French-occupied Romania, where patriots agitated against foreign occupation (as opposed to the reactionary troublemakers in Finland). The wisdom of the Soviet Union ‘liberating’ those parts of Romania they had taken at the end of the war against the Axis in Europe was trumpeted.


    On 29 November, Molotov reported that the Tibetans had again started to align towards the Comintern. All were welcome, no matter how small or out of the way.

    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started the month with no teams in the field. They added three during the month, but then all had been liquidated again by the end of it. No Soviet agents were lost there. Manchukuo had started with two agents and didn’t lose either of them, though they added none either. As mentioned previously, the Soviets lost two agents there early, but no more by the end of the month. Manchurian national unity was reduced marginally from 70% to 69.7% by the end of the month – the rate of decrease lessened due to a partial switch back to a counter-espionage focus in October.

    The Soviets had lost the two teams in Manchukuo mentioned above, but had trained four more, so finished with a full 10-team presence at home, in Japan and in Manchukuo, and now had ten in reserve: up two in total from the end of October. This was approaching the point where a third overseas mission might be contemplated – perhaps to one of the major Allied nations (France, Britain, Germany or the US, all of which had been regularly sending spies to the Soviet Union). But more reserves would be needed for that. The usual diverse collection of foreign spies [14 according to the intel mouse-over] was also apprehended during the month in the Soviet Union.

    ******

    6. Research

    It was a fruitful month for Soviet researchers, with seven advances made in a range of fields. The main (though not exclusive) focus of new projects was on improving the air force.

    Supply production was improved (and was now well in hand again), while more fighter airframe research could eventually also lead to helicopter development.


    Superior firepower doctrine will permit five-brigade divisions to be establish – while would gradually be phased in later, as new brigades could be produced (no mass-amalgamations were contemplated). Schwerpunkt doctrine – learned from the Germans in earlier fighting – was the next to be researched.


    With industrial production methods improved, attention was turned to developing better fighter interception tactics.


    Top secret nuclear physics research reached the next level on 17 November and those scientists were kept at it – at an undisclosed location, of course!


    Advanced aircraft design capabilities allowed the development of airborne radar for Soviet aircraft – something which the leading Allied air forces had as a matter of course by then. A small air search radar would be the first to be developed – and should be a welcome improvement for detection and night fighting.


    Next came the development of a marine infantry capability, which was rolled straight into the development of amphibious warfare equipment for them. Marines would start being trained in due course.


    And on 29 November heavy bomber pilot training received its first improvement: the doctrine team was kept on the same task, given they were starting from such a low base.



    ******

    7. Production

    It was also a busy month for Soviet industry, with upgrade and supply demands lowering significantly and a number of projects being completed. First was a new INT wing, which was sent to Irkutsk on 9 November. It had been so long in production that it deployed with obsolete LaGG-3s and had to go through an immediate upgrade program.


    Another new fighter wing became available on 17 November, but was sent to Kaunas on the German border instead, as the Far East was assessed as having more than enough already. They too were old LaGG-3s. By that time, the production queue was almost all at full efficiency, with even the new battleship Sovyetskiy Soyuz at the bottom of the list resuming construction after being left idle for months. Supply production was down to under 40IC per day.

    A first improvement to the Olenek air base on 18 November was followed up immediately with work on level three facilities.


    And by 19 November, there was enough capacity to commission new land units once again: four infantry brigades were put in training, to begin the gradual top-up of divisions to five brigade strength.


    Another new INT wing was deployed to Kaunas on 21 November. This freed capacity for the construction of three new radar stations and a couple more infantry brigades.


    Another infantry brigade was squeezed into the queue on 26 November. Then on 28 November, a red-letter (how appropriate ;)) day for Soviet aircraft manufacturing: the first strategic bomber wing was set into production. It was time to start getting some practical production experience. And there was enough capacity to fully fund it, if the supply stockpile was allowed to run down for a while.



    ******

    8. Global Summaries

    The Far East had seen some limited exchange of ground: some hard-won gains in the Central sector, with the Mongolians losing Ider in the south.


    Total recorded losses to land combat for battles were less than in previous months, even with increased activity in Persia. The Soviets were lost 3,599 men against 6,922 Axis soldiers killed in both theatres. There were again no Soviet losses from air raids, with 2,395 Axis soldiers killed in from air strikes – all on Taryacin. Total combat losses for the USSR were therefore 3,599, with the Axis losing 9,313.

    ******

    South East Asia again showed mixed results for the Allies.


    They had again lost ground in Indo-China – which continued not to worry the Soviets much, so long as the front didn’t collapse and kept drawing top-line Japanese marine divisions into the fight.


    The Allies (Anglo-French units) had finally broken out in Malaya, liberating Kuala Lumpur and threatening Japan’s hold on the great naval and resources base of Singapore.


    And the Dutch had recovered most of their lost territory in Java and seemed to be attacking the last isolated (and perhaps unsupplied) Japanese marine division west of Djogjakarta.


    Guerrillas had liberated some territory in eastern Sumatra, but little else had changed there. And other than an isolated partisan uprising in Mindanao, nothing else had changed in the rest of South East Asia.

    ******

    In Australia, the Allies were finally pushing back to the north in Queensland, where new divisions seemed to have been landed during the month. But they had lost some ground in Victoria, around Melbourne.


    British and American forces under Australian command were beginning to roll through undefended land along the Pacific coast and hinterland towards distant Brisbane.


    And although some recently won ground had been lost again, the Australians and their Allies still seemed to be holding onto Melbourne, where they had counter-attacked towards the north-east.


    As usual, there were no observed changes or major actions in the Central Pacific.
     
    Last edited:
    Chapter 10 – December 1944
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 10 – December 1944

    AuthAAR’s Notes: With a lot happening in December - in places anyway - I am striving to keep the AAR quick and dirty. I must resist the compulsion to report too much detail! Broad sweep, I keep telling myself. But there was this epic battle, and … ;)

    ******

    Command Adjustments

    Before operations kicked off in December, the Soviets adjusted their command structure in the Far East Theatre. 2nd FE Front was brought out of reserve status and assumed command of 1st and 7th Armies in the Southern sector. 1st FE Front retained command of 6th and 15th Armies in the north. The Transcaucasus Front, also pre-positioned in the east, was redesignated as the 3rd FE Front (Reserve) and took command of the two remaining reserve corps HQs. The 2nd FE Front commander, Marshal V.I. Chistyakov, set a mildly aggressive tactical focus for his 206,000 troops.


    1st Army’s objectives remained unchanged. Though in the change of command, their land and air stances reverted to defensive and this wasn’t recognised by the new Front commander for some days. [:oops:]


    7th Army retained its objectives too (and also reverted to a defensive stance :rolleyes:).


    The stances and objectives of 6th Army (land defence, air offence) and 15th Army (land attacking, air offensive) remained unaffected.

    ******

    1. Far East Land Combat – Northern and Central Sectors

    Combat north of Lake Baikal for December was focused entirely in the Central Sector in and around Novaya Chara, which saw an unprecedented succession of combats over the entire month. The battle there started at 0100 hr on 1 December, with an attack by three Japanese divisions (infantry, guards and marines) on the Soviet 21 Tank Div and 11 SD.

    By 0500 on 2 December, the Soviet commander MAJGEN P.A. Mironov had broken up the enemy attack with a counter-attack. The Soviets had the advantage of terrain, a river defence, entrenchment and weather, but were outnumbered about two-to-one.

    The Soviets also had air support, with aircraft based in Mutina heavily involved in spoiling attacks on various provinces the enemy were attacking from throughout the month. Their initial focus was on Kedrovvy, then Mogoca, later Erofej Pavlovic. The Japanese launched two air raids (1 x TAC, 1 x MR wing) on Novaya Chara on 2 December, but were intercepted (3 x INT) in two dogfights that day. The Soviets fighter group then aggressively patrolled above the enemy’s air base in Tyndinskiy the next day. The Japanese flyers did not reappear in this sector for the rest of the month.

    By 1300 hr on 9 December, the marathon battle in Novaya Chara continued unabated: 11 SD was reaching breaking point, but 21 Tank Div remained strong. The Japanese were also taking heavy casualties [notional progress remained at around 34% in favour of the Soviets, as it had since the start of the battle]. This changed at 2200 hr on 10 December, when 53 Hoheoishidan joined the Japanese attack in reserved [5.9% reinforcement chance, attack progress to 44%].

    At 1200 hr on 10 December, 11 SD could take no more: they broke and headed to Sinyuga, leaving Mironov and his 21 Tank Div to withstand the enemy assault from three directions alone.


    Things got tougher again for Mironov when 53 Hoheishidan reinforced at 2200 on 10 December. Two days later, the Soviets still resisted strongly, counter-attacking the shock assault the Japanese had launched. 1 Koneishidan (Guards) Div – which had been leading the attack - had by then been heavily damaged and was badly disorganised. But they were still there at 1600 hr that afternoon, when a fifth enemy division joined the fight in reserve [progress to 64%].


    Eight hours later, the Japanese had reverted to a simple attack, which Mironov met with an elastic defence. And a query as to when he might expect some reinforcement for his desperate defence, given none had yet been ordered and travel was slow in the Far Eastern wilderness. HQ 15th Army considered the request. Mironov’s odds improved a little [60%] when the Japanese 1st Guards withdrew at 1500 hr on 13 December, leaving them with two worn and two fresh divisions against the single Soviet tank division.

    One reason the Soviet tank division had been able to withstand more than two weeks of Japanese attacks with relatively little organisational damage, when 11 SD had failed, was that the armour of the T-34s of 21 Tank Div [Armour 9] was better than the piercing attack of all the Japanese divisions [maximum of 7]. This heavily reduced the damage they took [ie by 50%].

    Finally, at 2100 hr on 15 December, Mironov was advised that two Soviet tank divisions – the 15th (light) from Sinyuga and the 8th (medium) from Dronovskiy – had been ordered to relieve him. But it would take them around ten days to get to Novaya Chara, meaning Mironov and his men had a grim time ahead. At least they had regular (if not continuous) air support on the attacking formations throughout their wait for relief.


    Another factor in the Soviet’s tenacious defence was the consistently better tactics Mironov chose over this time, which often decreased the enemy’s damage and rate of attack [attack vs tactical withdrawal on 17 December, attack vs elastic defence on 18 December, for example]. At 0400 hr on 19 December another Japanese division withdrew, leaving three, but they launched an assault, which Mironov could only meet with a simple defence. And his men were finally beginning to tire.

    But Mironov hung in, and by 0000hr on 21 December, the enemy assault was neutralised with a brave counter-attack and the Japanese marines were now close to breaking. However, the odds had risen [to 77%] in favour of the attackers. Then, at 0600 hr that morning, the news came that the battle was over. The marines had withdrawn and the Japanese broke off their attack! Casualties had been ferocious for both sides, but the Japanese had lost over 3,600 men. Mironov was immediately made a Hero of the Soviet Union for his amazing defensive effort – over twenty days of resistance, much of it with just his own division.


    The game names this general P.A. (Andreyevich) Mironov, but I believe he is actually P.V. (Vasilyevich) Mironov. The picture seems to match the latter, as does the rank and service record. They both were impressive and both were made Heroes of the Soviet Union in OTL.

    Pavel Andreyevich Mironov (Russian: Павел Андреевич Миронов; 12 December 1919 – 26 April 1945) was a Red Army Junior Lieutenant and a posthumous Hero of the Soviet Union. Mironov was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin for actions during the Bratislava-Brno Offensive.

    Pavel Vasilyevich Mironov (Russian: Павел Васильевич Миронов; 21 September 1900 – 29 October 1969) was a Red Army lieutenant general and Hero of the Soviet Union. Mironov led the 37th Guards Rifle Corps during World War II.​

    Mironov only had four hours to celebrate, however. A new attack [40% starting progress] was launched at 1000 hr that morning, by another Japanese guards division! His exhausted men still had another four days to hold out before relief would arrive. Two hours later, the 12th Hoheishidan joined the reserve and then reinforced at 1400 hr [progress to 77%]. How long could the 21st Tanks, heroes all, hold on?


    By 1000 hr on 22 December, the Japanese yelled ‘Banzai’ and launched a reckless assault, to which the Soviets reacted with an elastic defence: the battle had reached a crescendo! [The net tactical effect of these two was attacker damage +35% but speed -25%, vs defender damage +35%.]

    At 2200 hr on 22 December, as the battle raged on in Novaya Chara, the forces in Sinyuga were diverted from their relief march and instead began an attack on Kedrovvy, to the north of Novaya Chara (neither of the two enemy units there were attacking Novaya Chara at the time). But 8 Tank Div was still advancing from the south-west and was due to arrive on the evening of Christmas Day.

    By 1300 hr on 23 December 21 Tank Div held on grimly and Mironov delivery a ‘backhand blow’ [attacker damage -25%, defender damage +25%, attacker speed -30%] to the enemy attack: but the Japanese had brought up yet another fresh division into reserve [attack progress now at 91%]. 20th Hoheishidan reinforced nine hours later. Then at 1500 hr 24 December, Mironov’s masterful delaying tactics were neutralised by a simple enemy assault – his luck and the organisation of his men [now just 3.5] was running out at last.

    It proved the decisive blow: able to take no more, 21 Tank Div broke at 0500 hr on Christmas Day 1944, after 24 days of resistance against overwhelming odds. He was awarded an Order of Lenin to complement his recent Hero of the Soviet Union award. [There was no battle report for this one, unfortunately.] 8 Tank Div was due fifteen hours later – so long as the Japanese did not arrive first, Mironov’s withdrawal was actually well timed, allowing the new formation to fight its own battle when it arrived.


    The Soviet attack on Kedrovyy ended in victory just an hour later, after which 8 Tank Div arrived in Novaya Chara as scheduled at 2000 hr. And was immediately attacked by the still advancing Japanese.


    The Japanese guards division broke off two hours later, making the new defenders’ jobs a lot easier, but the Japanese attack persisted.

    Meanwhile, on 27 December, the 6th Army was ordered onto an land attacking stance to see if it could make any progress to the north. And on 30 December, the third battle of the month for Novaya Chara ended in Soviet victory, but again no detailed battle report was available. The province had been under attack for 30 consecutive days but, miraculously, was still firmly in Soviet hands as the year ended.


    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Central Sector, December 1944.

    ******

    2. Far East Land Combat - Southern Sector

    The new command arrangements seemed to energise the Southern sector commanders, who soon warmed to their task, in combination with their Mongolian allies. An attack on Ider began at 1000 hr on 1 December, ending in victory early on 4 December, with heavy air support (killing three times as many enemy soldiers from the air than in the land combat). Ider was re-occupied by 81 Mot Div at 1800 hr on 6 December.

    Early on 8 December, as a Comintern ground attack on Taryacin was being organised, a Japanese fighter wing made an unwise sortie to intercept inbound Soviet air strikes from Irkutsk. The Japanese themselves were ambushed by Soviet interceptors and were very roughly handled.


    The Mongolians led the attack on Taryacin, with the Soviet 81 Tank (light) Div joining in reserve at 0600 hr on 8 December. It never made much headway, defeat being acknowledged two days later.

    Meanwhile, the new 2nd FE Front commander realised he needed to re-send orders for both 1st and 7th Armies to adopt an attacking stance. 1st Army had shown no enthusiasm to do anything with its substantial forces gathered to the north of Lake Baikal. Maybe this would get them moving. It was complemented two days later with a direction for 1st Army’s air units to also go back on the offensive.

    But still, nothing happened: Egorov seemed to have lost the will to attack! By 13 December, the need for a diversion to assist the beleaguered 21 Tank Div in Novaya Chara was more urgent than ever. 1st Army was thus ordered to adopt a blitzing stance, in the hope they would drive towards their depth objective of Mildigun.


    7th Army needed no such prodding, launching a new Soviet-led (81 Tank Div, from Ider) attack on Taryacin, again with heavy air support, at 1300 hr on 14 December. But while that attack progressed fairly well, by the afternoon of 15 December 1st Army had still not moved forward. Next, the defensive objective of Vitimskoe Ploskogore (north of Lake Baikal) was removed, in case that was holding Egorov back. With no action forthcoming, two days later the other defensive objective of Alan Ude (to the south of Lake Baikal) was also removed, replaced with another attacking objective: Shilka, shared with 15th Army.


    The battle for Taryacin was won at 1300 hr on 19 December. By 0400 hr on 21 December, 81 Tank Div had re-occupied the province – but was immediately attacked from Tsetserlig by 26 Hoheishidan. Heavy Soviet air raids began on Tsetserlig the next day – and would continue all the way through to the end of the month, twice per day, eventually causing enormous casualties to the units grouped there, not all of whom were attacking Taryacin.

    By now imbued with the spirit of aggression, 7th Army next launched an attack on Dzhirgalanta with 79 SD from Ider, against two weakened Japanese divisions (marines and infantry), at 0500 hr on 21 December. They too received substantial air support from Irkutsk, even while the air strikes continued simultaneously on Tsetserlig. Victory in Dzhirgalanta came on 24 December, but there was no report of casualties available.

    26 December rolled around with still no offensive action from 1st Army, which had 11 divisions massed opposite Burjatija and Bukacaca. In a further attempt to promote an attack, those two provinces were made specific objectives, with Mildigun as the depth objective. Marshal Egorov came back with a lame demand for a further 27 medium tank brigades, ten mountain brigades and 45 infantry brigades, even though his own analysts estimated he already outmatched the enemy on his front by a small margin – and heavily (about five-to-one) in the designated attack sector. Soviet authorities were at a loss as to what more they could do to get an attack happening. [And I’m resisting the temptation to step in and take direct command to set up an attack. For now :mad:.]


    On 27 December the Japanese fighter wing again tried to interfere with Soviet ground attack missions, but were intercepted by Soviet fighters over Slyudyanka (just south of Irkutsk) and again heavily damaged – they did not return again that month.

    The attack on Taryacin continued, rather like a smaller parallel of the epic battle in Novaya Chara, with two Japanese infantry divisions and 81 Tank Div both suffering organisational degradation and unrelenting Soviet air attacks on Tsetserlig. By 1100 hr on 30 December one of the Japanese divisions withdrew from the attack and a hard-fought Soviet victory coming at 1500 hr on 31 December. The Japanese had lost over 1,200 men in the ground combat and a massive 6,100-plus in air attacks on Tsetserlig.




    Operational summary, Soviet Far East – Southern Sector, December 1944.

    ******

    3. Persia

    The Persian Front was highly active in December. The main feature was a drive on Tehran from the west and the east, which eventually led to the cutting off of Persian forces trapped in a large pocket to its north. There was also significant fighting in the east of the country. But especially earlier in the month, the Persians won a number of battles, including attacks on advancing Soviet forces.

    By the end of December, the Soviets had the upper hand, keeping the ‘Caspian Sea Pocket’ closed and beating off Persian attempts to retake Tehran, with a separate drive commenced towards the oilfields at the top of the Persian Gulf and a Persian counter-offensive into Borun in the east thrown back.

    Of note, a check of Western Front objectives at midnight on 31 November showed they had somehow been erased again from the orders to the subordinate armies, so they were all reinstated (all Persian VP cities).

    An initial attack on Tehran began on 1 December but was beaten back by the Persians on 6 December, with heavy Soviet losses. Soon after that, a bold Persian attack on the garrison division holding Borun was launched and would prove successful by 0600 hr on 8 December, after which the Persians in Tehran attacked west against Abhar, defeating 183 SD which had been weakened in its earlier attack on the Persian capital and retreated a day later.

    With these initial reverses and a scarcity of armoured units in the theatre, the 6th Cav Corps (currently based near Odessa), consisting of two tank divisions, was transferred to the Western Front’s 23rd Army at 1900 hr on 10 December. Abhar was rescued from enemy seizure when 1 Tank (light) Div reached there at 0900 hr on 14 December, halting the enemy advance after a very quick skirmish. They began their own attack on Tehran four hours later. That would end in a tough victory after a seven day battle, the Persian capital being occupied at 2100 hr on 21 December. This also closed off the ‘Caspian Sea Pocket’ to the north, as 1 Tank Div linked up with Soviet forces that had struck from the east. At this point, the Soviets decided they would if possible puppet Persia after a Communist government had been installed. The Persians moved their capital south to Esfahan.


    In the east, Borun, which the Persians had reoccupied, was attacked by 325 SD on 14 December and victory celebrated a day later. The Persians would continue to be pushed back in this sector for the rest of the month.

    The largest battle of the month in Persia took place in Rasht, on the Caspian coast, from 15 to 21 December. The Soviets overcame dogged Persian resistance to win, with heavy casualties on both sides. A follow-up battle was fought and won there from 29-31 December as the Soviets aimed to destroy the units caught in the pocket. Another large battle was fought and won from 20-24 December in Bandar e Shah, on the east side of the pocket.

    The Persians attempted to regain Tehran on 23 December after a failed Soviet attack on Kashan (21-23 December). The determined Persian assault was beaten off with heavy enemy casualties by 29 December. The month finished with a second Soviet attack starting from Tehran against Kashan on 31 December, while in the east, a Soviet attack on Bam had begun on 30 December.


    Operational summary, Persia, December 1944.

    ******

    4. Naval Operations

    New transport squadron deliveries will be covered in the production section. Eight more Japanese convoys were sunk by Soviet submarines during the month, with no opposition.

    ******

    5. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    On 21 December, with Japanese counter-espionage resources remaining very low, Soviet counter-espionage there was reduced from high to medium priority [three to two bars] and national unity disruption began [one bar]. But in Manchukuo, a larger enemy threat saw counter-espionage kept at medium priority [two bars] but disruption activity reduced to low priority [two bars to one] on the same day. The loss of another Soviet agent in Manchukuo on 27 December saw all effort [three bars] put into counter-espionage to try to eradicate the local agents. One was indeed neutralised on 30 December.

    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started the month with no teams, added another two during the month, with one of them neutralised by the end of it. No Soviet agents were lost there. Manchukuo had started with two agents, then added one and lost one during the month, finishing with what they had started, while eliminating the one Soviet agent mentioned above.

    Manchurian national unity was reduced from 69.7% to 69.4% by the end of the month, after efforts were suspended on 27 December. Japan was at 69.2% national unity on 21 December when disruption efforts began there, down to 69.0% by month’s end.

    The Soviets had lost the one team overseas, but had trained five more, so finished with a full 10-team presence at home and in Japan and Manchukuo, and now had 14 in reserve, four more than at the end of November. Another one or two and the next target nation would be chosen: if it was to be a major power, a hefty reserve of agents would be needed, just in case of heavy losses. Not trusting the intel screen report for spies captured during the month, these were counted again. The screen reported nine – but a substantial 32 were in fact apprehended from all countries (including Japan and Manchuria) during the month.

    The war goals for the main remaining Axis adversaries were reviewed as the month ended. As with Persia, Japan would be made a puppet government after Communism was installed if the Soviets managed to be the ones to dictate the conditions. The French already had similar ideas.


    The same would be done for the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo and Mengukuo.


    Soviet diplomatic efforts to recruit Spain, Turkey and Nationalist China into the Comintern were all being neutralised at present by Allied and (in China and Sweden, the latter of which was again trying to self-align) Axis diplomatic initiatives.



    ******

    6. Research

    Twin engine airframe designs were upgraded on 8 December. Improved 500kg light bomb technology was the next research to be pursued.


    The important breakthrough of drop tanks for single engine aircraft was made on 17 December, but it would take quite some time for the upgrade to be completed for eligible aircraft (those in the Far East had priority) [it has to be 100% complete before the range benefit applies to a wing]. Small fuel tank development was researched next, to further extend range, particularly important in the Far East.


    Continuing the light aircraft theme, fighter pilot training was improved on 31 December. Given the very low base it started from, the effort was maintained to take it to the next level.



    ******

    7. Production

    A new heavy tank division was delivered to 25th Corps in 15th Army on 3 December. Once battle ready, it should provide a fearsome addition to their offensive capabilities. So long as they weren’t employed in the mountains!


    Another new transport squadron was delivered to the Red Banner Pacific Fleet on 8 December and two more on 10 December, bringing the capacity to four squadrons in the Far East.

    The air base in Mutina – which saw a lot of use in December, with 12 wings based there – was improved to level three facilities on 9 December, with the works rolling on to the next level.

    The recent completions saw enough IC freed up to allow two more infantry brigades to be put in training on 10 December and the first Soviet marine brigade to begin training on 11 December. The new infrastructure extension from the Trans-Siberian railway up to Mutina (seven provinces) was also completed on 11 December.

    Irkutsk air base was improved to level seven on 16 December and again, expansion continued, with 13 wings based there. And a new mechanised division deployed to Sinyuga, also under 25th Corps command, on 25 December.


    The freed capacity was used to fund construction of two new radar station (probably for use in the west), plus three more marine brigades and an engineer brigade to round out what would become the first Soviet marine division.

    Finally, on 30 December the rail extension from Mutina to the Olenek air base in the north (four more provinces) finished construction.

    ******

    8. Global Summaries

    The Far East had seen heavy fighting but little limited exchange of ground: the South saw Ider and then Taryacin regained and held.


    Total recorded losses to land combat for battles were far heavier than in November. The Soviets were lost 8,003 men against 10,910 Axis soldiers killed in both theatres. There were only 123 Soviet losses from air raids, with the Axis losing a massive 15,878 to ground attacks, all in the Far East. This brought total Soviet casualties to 8,126 and to 26,788 for the Axis.

    ******

    South East Asia was largely positive for the Allies in December. They had gained ground in Indo-China, including new landings in the north, near Hanoi.


    British marines had taken the port of Haiphong, while (perhaps a little curiously given they had already secured a port) the French had almost completed a second landing south-east of Hanoi. It looked intended to outflank the Japanese defence that had been put in place to stop a breakout from Haiphong, but supply could become a problem.


    The Allies had regained lost ground and then pushed a salient into Japanese-occupied French Indo-China, forcing the whole Japanese line to fall back.


    Ground had been traded in Malaya, Kuala Lumpur and Teluk Anson being lost but the east coast gained by the Allies all the way to the (neutral) Thai border, who had pushed close to Singapore … before seemingly gutting the front of troops before the job was done. Perhaps they had been sent to the Hanoi naval landing?


    The Dutch had recovered all of Java but had made only very minor advances in eastern Sumatra. The rest of South East Asia had seen no territorial changes. Nor had the Central Pacific.

    ******

    In Australia, the Allied offensive in the north continued towards, while the Japanese had also been pushed back again in the south.


    There was as yet no sign of Japanese opposition in Queensland, as the advance approached Brisbane (one wing and one naval unit in Brisbane was all that could be seen).


    While in Victoria, Australian troops were leading an offensive that had neared the former capital of Canberra, with Japanese forces in retreat from the regional centre of Wagga Wagga, on the Murray River.

     
    Chapter 11 – January 1945
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    Chapter 11 – January 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: January proved a lot quieter in terms of ground combat – it could be that the ferocity of the winter weather simply inhibited most attacking. But there were some interesting developments, including abroad. I have also tinkered a little with the operational summary maps, to more clearly distinguish between air raids (now in lighter outline colours) and land battles – hope that helps the visual presentation.

    ******

    1. Far East – Northern Sector

    Despite a now healthy estimated force ratio compared to the Japanese in the north, 6th Army did not launch any attacks during the period – most likely because of the atrocious weather. But at midnight on 14 January, the Japanese Sasebo Rikusentai (Marines), who were already approaching Ust Aldan, attacked 2 Garnizon (Garrison) Div as soon it arrived there. The enemy did so over a river and in very bad weather.

    Five days later, the Japanese attack continued [-27% progress] in terrible conditions, now being counter attacked by 2 Gar Div. Indeed, the Japanese were still going at it by the end of the month – with seemingly little impact on either side. The reasons for this were made clear in MAJGEN Pukhov’s detailed combat report on 31 January. In essence, the troops were too busy trying to stay warm to do much fighting at all! With temperatures approaching -30c, more men were likely being lost to attrition than combat.


    The bigger picture showed this desultory ‘battle’ was the only action in the sector during the whole month, despite 6th Army’s advantage in numbers and an attacking posture.


    Operational summary, Far East – Northern Sector, January 1945.

    ******

    2. Far East – Central Sector

    There was more action in the central sector (both 6th and 15th Army troops involved), but it was light compared to previous months.

    The new year was celebrated at 0000 hr on 1 January by a major Soviet attack on Artemovskij. 179 SD (in Sorgo) and 205 Mot Div (Lensk) hit the leaderless 35 Hoheishidan with a breakthrough attack which completed negated their attempted ambush, though the enemy were dug in on forested terrain and the weather was poor [46% progress].

    After three days of fighting [progress now 60%], the Japanese launched an air raid (1 x M/R, 1 x TAC) on 205 Mot Div in Lensk at 0300 hr on 4 January. They were met by two fighter wings (already low on organisation) based out of Mutina, with all sides (Japanese and Soviet) taking some damage. The ground attack went in, killing 124 Soviet troops.

    The same Japanese air group returned at 0800 hr, but were met this time by three near full-strength Soviet fighter wings out of Olenek. The Japanese escorts were reduced to around 50% strength and were completely disorganised after just an hour. Their bombers were also heavily damaged, breaking off their attack and not returning again.

    Unfortunately for the Japanese, Lensk fell into an area of overlap of interceptor coverage from both Olenek and Mutina. Soviet air controllers did an excellent job of alternating responses so the interceptors were not overcrowded.


    Victory came in Artemovskij at 0800 hr on 7 January, with around 1,650 Japanese defenders killed and about half as many Soviets soldiers. The skies remained clear – no Soviet attacking missions were flown in support. On 11 January, a single Soviet ground attack mission was flown against neighbouring Torgo, but it was unclear what its specific purpose was (other than harassment), with no ground combat going on at the time.

    By 18 January, the sector remained quiet – troops on both sides hunkered down through the bitter winter conditions. Along the central front, the ground was typically between 25% to 86% frozen, and at 1400 hr the temperatures ranged from -5.9c to -13.8c.

    205 Mot Div liberated Artemovskij at 0100 hr on 23 January and just three hours later probed Njuja to the north, supported by 1 'Moskovskaya' Mech Div attacking east from Lensk. A single air strike was launched in support, but the blitzing probe against two dug in Japanese marine divisions, over a river and in bad weather, was broken off only two hours later after just two hours with minimal casualties on both sides. It was to prove the last combat activity in the sector for the remainder of the month, with 15th Army not game to conduct any further offensives in these conditions.

    At 1100 hr on 31 January, 1st FE Front issued amended orders to General Ratnikov, commander 15th Army. Shilka was removed from their objective list and Chumikan, on the Pacific coast, was added. When conditions became conducive, it was hoped the Soviet forces might be able to extend their recent gains in Kedrovyy and Artemovskij all the way across on a narrower front. The aim was to ultimately cut off Japanese forces further north, which the now reinforced 6th Army would drive, as the hammer onto 15th Army’s anvil.


    Kedrovyy had been gained earlier in the month, occupied after a Soviet victory there back on 17 December 1944, with Artemovskij the other territory gained in the centre during January 1945.


    Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, January 1945.

    ******

    3. Far East – Southern Sector

    The year began in the south as the last one ended: with the 2nd FE Front HQ trying to get 1st Army to attack. Some had questioned the previously aggressive General E.A. Egorov’s stomach for the fight: but his main trait was in offensive doctrine, so that wasn't it. Compared to 6th and 15th Armies, his estimated force ratio to the enemy was far closer – just a little superior. His orders remained for all-out attack, but perhaps that estimated overall strength and poor terrain and weather had made Egorov more cautious. He was left in command.

    7th Army in Mongolia also started the month relatively quietly. Air raids were launched on Tsetserlig from 13-14 January, apparently in support of Mongolian troops defending Taryacin. They struck the same location again from 17-20 January, with the two series of raids killing over 3,000 Japanese defenders.

    Then on 19 January, as the raids on Tsetserlig continued, a Soviet attack struck Dzirgalanta, with air support flown from Irkutsk throughout its duration, overlapping with the other mission on Tsetserlig for the first few days. The attack was carried out by 79 SD from Ider, beginning with a reckless assault against a single Japanese infantry division [35% initial attack progress]. The battle would continue until 24 January, ending in a hard-fought Soviet victory, losing over 400 men to about 300 Japanese defenders on the ground. But incessant Soviet air raids were probably the decisive factor: a massive 2,754 defenders perished in this aerial onslaught.

    As the attack on Dzhirgalanta went on, 22 January saw concurrent air raids begin on Ubur Khangalin, attempting to spoil another Japanese attack on Mongolian-held Taryacin. Between 22-25 January, 2,155 enemy troops were killed there. The air base in Irkutsk, its pilots and ground crew were busy indeed!

    By this time, 1st Army had still failed to attack in the North-east Baikal area. This was despite the estimate of enemy strength facing them having been downgraded significantly since the beginning of the month and the commander's 'wish list' having shrunk somewhat. Perhaps the next step would be to focus Egorov’s objective on just one location – either Burjatija or Bukacaca and specify an axis of advance [thanks @Surt :)]. But with the weather the way it was, the reluctance to attack was partly understandable and he was cut some more slack. For now.


    The Soviet Air Force then resumed strikes on Tsetserlig, between 26-28 January and again from 30-31 January. The latter missions attempted to disrupt a new Japanese attack on Dzhirgalanta, which 79 SD had occupied by 2000 hr on 29 January, finding itself under immediate attack from a Japanese infantry and a Manchurian cavalry division from Tsetserlig. Complementary strikes were also made on neighbouring Khadasan when one of the Tsetserlig-based enemy divisions dropped out, replaced by one from Khadasan. This set of three ground attack missions killed more than 4,000 enemy troops.


    By the end of 31 January 1945, the latest Japanese attack on Dzhirgalanta continued [-26% progress]. Reports indicated Mongolia may have been forced to retreat from Taryacin.


    Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, January 1945.

    ******

    4. Persia

    The now standard initial staff check at the start of the month revealed all the objectives for the Western Front HQ had again been deleted, so these were reset. For some reason, they just did not seem to ‘stick’. [Always after a reload, even though they held OK for the FE Army HQs. And what I only noticed later, when compiling the AAR chapter, was that a defensive stance had also been reset, even though it didn’t seem to slow down the conquest of Persia too much.]


    On the eastern flank, the battle for Bam carried over from December was won at 1700 hr on 2 January, with fairly heavy casualties on both sides. The other continuing battle, for Kashan (south of Tehran) in the centre, finished at 0100 on 3 January. This sent all Persian formations in the province retreating south to Esfahan, the new makeshift Persian capital.

    On 9 January, the final push to close up at the Caspian Pocket and liquidate the units remaining in it started in earnest with an attack on Ramsar (on the southern Caspian Sea coast) at midnight, by 148 SD (attacking from the west). Just six hours later 229 SD arrived in Babolsar and attacked Ramsar from the east. Persian resistance ended at 1600 hr that afternoon, with 23 Soviet and 78 Persian troops killed.

    A short battle for Esfahan kicked off at 2200 hr on 11 January, with 133 SD attacking from Anarak in the east against the barely prepared Persian 4th Infantry Division. It was all over at 0100 hr the following morning, with only light casualties on either side before the Persians routed, ahead of the other units still fleeing south from Kashan.

    Up in the north, at 0600 hr on 12 January the 1st Guards Div attacked the Persian 1st Cavalry in Rasht, inland from Ramsar and the last haven the routed units from Ramsar had to retreat to. Resistance was light and over in five hours. By the afternoon of 18 January, the Persians were each trying to retreat to the provinces their comrades had been defeated in, while the Soviets marched to occupy both of them.

    Then at 2200 hr on 18 January, Esfahan was taken by 133 SD. The oilfields [and VP location] of Ahvaz had been occupied earlier that day. The Persian Government now transferred to Bushehr and was perilously close to surrendering, but fought on for now.


    133 SD won a short skirmish at 0900 hr on 21 January as it drove south from Esfahan to Yasuj, continuing a thrust aimed at Bushehr – which if captured would surely trigger a Persian capitulation.

    Back up north, 1st Guards Div occupied Rasht at 0600 hr on 23 January, sending all four remaining trapped Persian HQs and divisions back to Ramsar. The pocket was sewn shut at 1400 hr that afternoon, when 229 SD arrived in Ramsar. The remaining Persian troops were marched into captivity.


    When January ended, Persian resistance was crumbling as the Soviets closed in on the last remaining centres of Persian resistance. After the two major battles in Bam and Kashan were resolved early in the month, all remaining clashes had been little more than skirmishes.


    Operational summary, Persia, January 1945.

    ******

    5. Finland

    At midnight on 12 January 1945, the previous warnings of partisan activity in Finland erupted in a major uprising. Eight provinces in the south-east, bordering on the Soviet Union and extending inland from there, rose in revolt, a brigade of partisans in each. A new front was opened, afterwards referred to as the Second Winter War.


    The local Soviet commanders had been given devolved responsibility to handle the uprising on their own. No specific orders or objectives were issued by STAVKA. After eight days, the first Soviet units were arriving in place and many more were en route from the Swedish and Norwegian borders aboard trucks and trains.


    At 1600 hr on 21 January, the embarrassing news came that Finnish partisans had crossed the border into the Soviet Union and taken the (formerly Finnish) province of Hiitola, on the north-west of Lake Ladoga.

    27 SD was the first Soviet formation in position and ready to attack, which they did on the afternoon of 22 January. The Finns fought back, trying to ambush the assaulting Soviets. Despite attacking entrenched troops over a river in terrible winter weather, the Finns were heavily outnumbered and lacked heavy equipment. Still, they did not run at first contact.


    Later that day, a second partisan unit crossed into Soviet territory, occupying the fortifications of Sortavala at 2300 hr.

    By 2000 hr on 23 January, the Finns in Suolahti still resisted, but the Soviets increasingly gained the upper hand [74% progress]. Early the next morning, 25 SD was ready to attack the Finns defending Suonenjoki [57%], facing similar conditions to 27 SD in Suolahti, immediately to its south. Meanwhile, by 1000 hr on 24 January, a third Soviet border province (Antrea) had been seized: but this time, they turned around and tried to escape as they discovered 317 SD advancing on them from the south.


    Two hours later, 317 SD found and attacked them, the partisans suffering six killed for no Soviet casualties in the briefest of clashes.

    Soviet victories came at 1000 hr on 25 January in Suolahti and then in Suonenjoki at 1400 hr on 26 January. In both battles the Soviets suffered a handful of casualties, killing more than a hundred partisans in each case.

    The general situation at the end of January showed some partisans still running riot as more Soviet divisions rolled in from the north, while the Soviets had started to roll them up from the west and south.




    Operational summary, Finland, January 1945.

    ******

    6. Naval Operations

    Eight more Japanese convoys were sunk by Soviet submarines during the month in the period between 11-31 January, after a slow start. But this time, on 26 January the Japanese Navy managed to intercept one of the submarine squadrons with carrier-based aircraft south-east of Tokyo. They Soviet submariners only just managed to escape before being totally annihilated, ordered back to port with great urgency. The rest of the raiders kept up their work.


    To the relief of all, they limped into Petropavlovsk Kamcackij at 0800 hr on 29 January, though in a parlous state, to begin their long rebuilding process.

    ******

    7. Diplomatic and Intelligence

    The only diplomatic report of any interest during the month was the Swedes ceasing their diplomatic self-alignment to the Comintern on the morning of 26 January.

    But it had been a good month for the GRU and NKVD.

    In Japan, the Kempeitai started and finished the month with one team, adding and losing two during the month, with no Soviet agents lost. With one third of Soviet agents devoted now to undermining national unity, it had decreased marginally from 69 to 68.4%.

    Manchukuo started with two agents added one and lost three during the month, finishing with only one, with no Soviet spies neutralised. The full focus remained on counter-espionage, but unity disruption work may well resume there in February. Manchurian national unity remained steady at 69.4%.

    The Soviets had lost no teams for the month and added five more, with 19 now in reserve. It would soon be time for another espionage operation to be launched – most likely against a major Allied target, which would almost certainly require more replacements. Some advocated the US, concerned about their possible nuclear bomb program. Others wanted France, the UK or Germany targeted, for varying logical strategic reasons. No decision had been taken by the end of the month.

    It was a bumper month for apprehending and neutralising enemy agents in the USSR: including the five from Japan and Manchuria, 35 were rounded up during the month.

    ******

    8. Production

    The big news of the month on the production front was the completion of the Soviet rocket test facility in Lyubertsy, just south of Moscow, on 8 January. It was decided there was no great value in building another of these, as it was hoped that (once the remaining precursor technologies had been researched) that building rockets themselves would give the practical knowledge that would hasten their construction.


    In order to free up the capacity for that extra research immediately, the diplomatic mission to Nationalist China was withdrawn. As some pundits in the Foreign Ministry had previously advocated, it was left in a diplomatic tug-o-war between the Axis and allies. [The new projects commenced with the freed leadership are listed in the next section.]

    The large amount of industrial capacity available after the test facility was completed was directed to building a wing of Tu-2T NAV bombers. They would at least be wanted to help support the Red Banner Pacific Fleet when the time came to begin launching amphibious attacks in the Far East. The other half went to the raising of a second (complete) marine division.


    On 16 January, level three facilities were installed at the air base in Olenek (Northern Sector), with level four beginning construction straight away.

    ******

    9. Research

    Civil nuclear research progressed to level two on 2 January, with the researchers moving straight on to the next. In addition to having at least one operational nuclear reactor, research would have to progress to level four before construction of a nuclear weapon could even commence.


    Four engine aircraft airframe design was improved on 3 January, with that team also kept on the job as the Soviet Union sought to bring this technical area up to world leading standards.


    The additional research effort freed on 8 January (mentioned above) was put into rocket engine research, made possible by the completion of the Lyubertsy rocket testing site. The other new research team went to work on upgrading single engine aircraft armament.


    On 12 January large fuel tank design was improved and, as with airframes, was maintained to try to bring Soviet heavy bombers up to ‘world standards’ as they stood in 1943.


    Finally, the first basic training doctrine was issued for TAC ground crews, which was continued so as to try to bring Soviet practice closer to modern standards.



    ******

    10. Global Summaries

    The pace of ground combat in the Far East had tapered off in the middle of a miserable winter, though a little more ground was taken in the centre and south. This might provide the basis for a spring and summer offensive later in 1945.


    Total recorded losses to land combat for battles on all fronts (including Finland and Persia) were relatively light. The Soviets were lost 1,956 men in land combat and only 124 Soviet losses from a single completed Japanese air raid, giving total combat losses of 2,080.

    The Axis lost 3,222 soldiers killed (and excluding the Persian troops captured in the Caspian Pocket) on land, but the toll from the air (all in the Far East) was still heavy, with 12,275 enemy troops killed from air raids. Total Axis casualties were therefore 15,497 in all theatres (again, not including the thousands captured in Persia).

    ******

    South East Asia was inactive everywhere except in Indo-China, where the most dramatic collapse of the anti-Japanese war so far occurred, with the Allies running riot through Indo-China.


    In order to broadly trace what had happened since the end of December, weekly reports [ie game saves] were sifted through to get the broad thrust of the successful Allied campaign. By 8 January, the new French landings south of Hanoi had taken that city and the French were fanning out west and south, while the British marines attacked their Japanese counterparts north-east of Hanoi. In the south, Allied forces had begun to push forward all across the front against the main centre of Japanese resistance, whose western inland flank was now wide open.


    And the reason for the recent lack of Allied troops and action in Malaya was now apparent. France and the UK were taking advantage of their pre-existing military access arrangements with Siam to funnel three Royal Marine divisions by rail all the way up to reinforce the Indo-China front.


    By 17 January the Japanese position in Indo-China had been cut in two. In the north, their remaining divisions were being pushed inland, with no apparent escape route. In the south, the Allies were closing in, starting to bottle up the main Japanese force against the coast. All Japanese resistance in the north appeared to have ended by 24 January, while the Allied noose tightened in the south as the reinforcements travelling via Siam neared.


    As January ended, the Allies were mopping up in the north.


    And in the south, the few remaining Japanese formations left were being pressed back towards their last port of Quang Ngai. It was unknown whether they had evacuated any of the divisions there or they had been destroyed in combat. With the combined strength of the Allied forces now deployed in Indo-China, resistance would not last much longer. The big question was what the Allies might do next with this large army once their immediate objectives had been secured.



    ******

    There had again been no territorial movement in the Central Pacific, but things were also turning worse for the Japanese in Australia, though not yet as dramatically as Indo-China.

    In Australia, the Allied offensive in the north continued towards, while the Japanese had also been pushed back again in the south. Brisbane had been retaken, though the exchange of ground balanced out in the south along the Murray River, which constituted the border between Victoria (to the south) and New South Wales. But without the apparent means to resist the Allied drive from the north and at the end of a long and precarious supply line by sea, the Japanese position here also seemed doomed.



    ******


    Stalin reading the monthly summary reports for January 1945 – he was now well-enough pleased with progress on all fronts (including production, research and espionage). Though the military police in Finland might be looking over their shoulders at the moment following the widespread revolt there and the embarrassing seizure of Soviet border provinces by Finnish partisans …
     
    Chapter 12 – February 1945
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    Chapter 12 – February 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: It is still deep winter in the Far East, which continues to have a noticeable effect on the battlefield, as became even clearer at February 1945 progressed.

    ******

    1. Far East – Northern Sector

    The month began with the carry-over Japanese attack on Ust Aldan, that had begun on 14 January … and it was still going as February ended! Unresolved and with little change on the ground.

    A new Japanese attack was launched on 145 Gar Div in neighbouring Susuman to its east on 1 February, in this case by three enemy divisions from three different provinces. And it was also still going by the end of the month as well. As with Ust Aldan, the weather made any attacking almost impossible [-97.2% just for that alone]. All three were also attacking across a river, though the Japanese marines involved had an easier time of that. [Attack percentages ranged from 0.8% at night for the lowest, to about 3% for the marines during the day].

    The Soviet Air Force did keep hitting Tomtor (from where Ust Aldan was being attacked) periodically between 18 and 28 February, killing 1,890 enemy soldiers over that time.


    Operational summary, Far East – Northern Sector, February 1945.

    ******

    2. Far East – Central Sector

    There were five distinct phases to operations in the Central Sector during February. Things started with a (traditional post-reload) flurry, with a Japanese attack on Dronovskiy at 0100 hr on 1 February – by one division against five, all dug in and well organised. The predictable end came 14 hours later, the Soviets losing 42 men against a staggering 1,277 Japanese casualties. It was the first of a growing list of examples indicating the weather was abominable for any but the most overwhelming attack. As the month wore on, the judgement of Soviet front-line generals (including the much-maligned 1st Army commander General Egorov) became increasingly respected.

    A Soviet probe of Mogoca was one of the very few attacking successes from either side in the Far East that month. It started and ended at the same time as the Japanese attack on Dronvoskiy, against already fleeing Japanese defenders. A few air raids added to the enemy’s misery.

    That night, the Soviets attacked Torgo (again with air support) at 2300 hr, but broke it off just an hour later, finding their casualties mounting at more than double the rate of the defenders' (16 to 7 – good judgement breaking it off so early, unlike the foolhardy Japanese attack on Dronovskiy the day before). Again, this was an attribute the Soviets demonstrated as the month wore on. Probes were made, but stopped quickly if the conditions proved untenable.

    Neither side made any more forays for a week, marking a quiet second phase in the Central Sector.

    The third phase featured a series of short Soviet probes on Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy (9 Feb), Mogoca (which the Japanese had put fresh troops into on 10 Feb) and Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy again (11 Feb), but all were halted quickly after it became clear they would be fruitless. The accompanying Soviet air strikes caused far more casualties than the ground fighting did. The Japanese began another ill-advised attack on Dronovskiy during the same period, from 1000 hr on 10 Feb to 1800 hr the next day: all their persistence did was cause them grave casualties, losing over a thousand men again for just 188 Soviet casualties. The Soviet commanders were proving to be better judges of the conditions.

    There was another lull until 24 February, with the fifth phase lasting until the end of the month and proving the busiest on the ground and in the air. The Soviets began at 1600 hr with a heavy (four divisions against two) and well-executed masterful blitz on the Japanese defenders of Njuja, which seemed to be making good [82%] progress, especially as the Japanese were having supply problems.

    But the Japanese put a heavy [three divisions, 46% initial progress] spoiling attack in on Artemovskij three hours later. The Njuja attack was called off by 2100 hr – a pity, as by that point only five Soviet casualties had been suffered in killing 39 of the enemy and it would almost certainly have succeeded if allowed to continue unimpeded. In the end though, it was another smart call by the local Soviet commander. The Japanese attack persisted well after the Njuja probe was halted, meaning the Soviets could concentrate on defending against it.

    While that battle continued, the Japanese probed Kedrovvy early on 25 February and in just two hours lost 218 men for just eight Soviet defenders killed.

    Of interest, the Japanese made two air raids on Artemovskiy early on 25 February. The first was only caught by Japanese interceptors as it was ended, though it turned out later they had managed to inflict some heavy damage on the Japanese bombers and escorts (not apparent until they reappeared for the next raid). The first raid killed 132 Soviet troops. The second was intercepted by the fighters again, but also ran into another Soviet group returning from a bombing mission of their own. No damage was done on the ground this time and the Japanese were badly mauled. They were not seen again. [Interestingly, the pop-up message said they were executing a ‘no order’ mission! Perhaps it was cancelled in mid-air as soon as the casualties mounted?]


    The Soviets tried their hand at Njuja again on 26 February, this time with heavy air support. The attack started at 1000 hr and didn’t finish until 0000 hr on 28 February: the battle was lost, but casualties were relatively light and not too disproportionate. A great many more enemy soldiers were killed from the air raids.

    The Japanese attack on Artemovskij – the largest and by far the bloodiest of the month across the entire Far Eastern Front – ended at 1800 hr on 27 February in a costly defeat for the enemy. Over 1,000 Soviet soldiers died, but well over three times as many Japanese troops perished.

    But the Soviet commanders still tried here and there. An attack began on Olekminsk from Artemovskij at 1900 hr on 27 February [47% initial progress]. It was still going by the end of the month, despite another Japanese spoiling attack, which went for five hours from 2200 hr. The Japanese again suffered comparatively huge casualties (nine Soviet to 362 enemy).

    A short Soviet probe on Torgo by 220 Mot Div from Kedrovvy early on 28 February lasted just two hours before it was halted. And for good reason, with 35 attackers killed for just one enemy soldier.

    A telling statistic on the comparable battle management of both sides (both entirely under AI control) during this period was that the Soviets lost 1,625 men killed to ground combat in the Central Sector compared to 6,689 Japanese casualties (not including air strikes). It was the clinching argument that convinced STAVKA that conditions in the Far East were generally not yet suitable for large scale offensive operations. So they would trust their local commanders – and not sack Commander 1st Army.


    Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, February 1945.

    ******

    3. Far East – Southern Sector

    The south was mildly active during the month, but at a far lower level of intensity than the in centre. Some of the fighting was being done by the Mongolians too, for which detailed reports were generally not received.

    The only set-piece battle the Soviets were involved in directly was their defence of Dzhirgalanta, which they were trying to hold after retaking it the month before. The current Japanese attack had begun on 29 January and the two provinces the enemy were attacking from were pounded consistently from the air, especially Khadasan.

    As the month began, efforts were still being made to prod 1st Army into action on the north of Lake Baikal. The first ploy at 0000 hr on 1 February was to direct them just to hit Burjatija as their single objective. It did not work.

    That day, as the Soviets conducted an air raid on Tsetserlig, Japanese interceptors tried to halt their attack. They were harshly dealt with by Soviet interceptors and escort fighters and the raid went ahead, though ground damage may have been lighter than it would have been otherwise. The enemy fliers did not try this again for the rest of the month, leaving the Soviets with air supremacy.


    On 2 February, it was noted the enemy were having supply problems in their attack on Dzhirgalanta, but they assaulted recklessly nonetheless. That night, 1st Army was switched from HQ 2nd FE Front back to 1st FE Front and given new objectives to attack Burjatija and Bukacaca, so see if that would make any difference. It didn’t.


    At 0600 hr on 3 February, 23rd Corps arrived near Irkutsk after its long train journey from the west. With its five infantry divisions (42,978 men), it was allocated to General Rybak’s 7th Army in the south, bringing that formation to 136,000 men.

    On 5 January, as the fighting continued in Dzhirgalanta, 1st Army was now given a single objective again, this time in depth at Mildigan. That brought no action either.

    By 0800 hr on 7 February, another enemy division had joined the attack on the hard-pressed 79 SD in Dzhirgalanta [54% progress], with a reinforcing Mongolian cavalry division (just two brigades) still on the road from Ider. The Soviets were imposing heavy casualties on the attackers on the ground and from the air, but the defence was growing thin and beginning to fail. At that point, fearing it would be lost, it was added to 7th Army’s objectives list.


    Defeat came in Dzhirgalanta a day later, at 0900 hr on 8 February. Losses were heavy on both sides, with the Japanese losing almost twice as many as the Soviets on the ground and even more during air attacks. But the field was theirs: 79 SD had done all that could fairly be expected of it.

    Given its continued inaction and recent fighting by 15th Army in the Central Sector, 9 February saw the retreating 79 SD (where it was a southern outlier, the rest of the divisions being to the north of Lake Baikal) transferred from 50th Corps, 1st Army to 4th Mech Corp, 7th Army. The rest of 50th Corps was cut across to 15th Army, to see if they could make better use of the almost 27,000 troops.


    The Southern Sector remained quiet – for the Soviets, anyway – for the rest of the month. However, a report from the Mongolian 1st Army HQ advised that by late 27 February, they were marching to reoccupy Dzhirgalanta after (apparently) defeating the Japanese trying to hold it after their own attack. The Soviet 170 SD was also approaching from Muren.


    The month finished with some unoccupied provinces retaken by the Mongolians in the south and Dzirgalanta lost, but looking likely to be regained. The Japanese seemed to be having supply problems and the Soviet Air Force ranged freely, though not widely, during February.


    Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, February 1945.

    ******

    4. Persia

    The objective reset for HQ Western Front was once again conducted [no idea why they keep being removed after every re-load]. The last opposed Soviet attack of the campaign began on Khash, east of Bandar e Abbas, at 0100 hr on 1 February. At the same time, 5 SD began advancing on the latter, but there was no defence (only the fleeing Persian Theatre HQ).

    Interestingly, after all this time and with their nation about to surrender, a lone Persian CAS wing based in Bandar e Abbas raided a Soviet division in Sirjan at 0200 hr that day – though no casualties were recorded.

    Victory came in Khash at 1700 hr on 2 February after a sharp fight. There would be no more after that, with 5 SD due to pull into Bandar e Abbas at 1700 hr on 11 February. Their arrival was finally enough to force the Shah to negotiate a surrender, which came into force at midnight.

    Persia became a puppet state and joined the Comintern on 12 February. They were soon given suggested defensive objectives to guard the oilfields of Ahvaz in the west, and along the border with Pakistan, which was now part of the Allied United Nations (having been granted independence at the end of the War in Europe in March 1944 in the French-led decolonisation program).


    1st Corps (two infantry divisions) was detached from the Western Front’s 19th Army and put on trains to the Far East, where they would probably join either 6th Army in the north or 7th Army in the south. The rest of the Caucasus Theatre's troops remained under the general command of that through Western Front HQ and would resume their regional garrison duties – along a now far longer front, much of it bordering on Allied countries.

    On 21 February, the new Persian Government announced it was mobilising – hopefully to slowly augment the few remaining forces they had left after their defeat.

    ******

    5. Finland

    On 1 February the Finnish revolt remained in full swing, with embarrassing incursions into the formerly Finnish and now Soviet border provinces in Karelia and north-west of Lake Ladoga. But the Red Army was mobilising massive forces to counter the threat and had already begun attacking partisan positions in the west. When they did so, their superiority in numbers and equipment ensured tactical supremacy, with few Soviet casualties taken even in the longer land battles against partisan brigades.

    In the western sector, successful Soviet probes and attacks were launched on Pieksämäki (4 Feb) and Mikkeli (7-9 Feb), while a bold but doomed Finnish attack on Kuopio (6 Feb) was beaten back with heavy partisan casualties.

    But in the south and east, where Soviet forces had not yet appeared in strength, partisans made another break, capturing the old Mannerheim Line fortifications of Käkisalmi on 4 February (in Japan’s name, as the head of the Axis snake). A quick attack there on 9 February by 317 SD sent the Finns retreating back north to Hiitola – but a Soviet division was already heading there to try to cut them off.


    11 February brought the first ground attack missions during the Finnish rebellion, with two CAS wings operating out of Leningrad striking the partisans holed up in Käkisalmi. Successful Soviet attacks on Heinävesi (13-15 Feb) and Värtsilä (15-16 Feb) continued to compress the uprising from both west and east.

    Not only had many divisions been diverted from the Swedish and Norwegian borders to deal with the uprising. In something of an over-reaction, by 15 February the whole East Prussian border with Germany had been denuded, of divisions with an exodus north of many more troops than were required.


    Next, the Finns retreating from Käkisalmi were beaten to Hiitola on 17 February, cutting off their escape. They were attacked again, but the battle was quickly over. It is unclear what became of the captured partisans, but it was unlikely to be pleasant. Many of the recently arrived divisions from the south were already heading back, once it was realised a sledgehammer had been brought to crack a nut.


    The final phase of the counter-insurgency campaign progressed, with the Finns in Rautjärvi being dislodged without any Soviet casualties after an eleven-hour battle finishing at 2100 hr on 17 February. This was followed up on 21 February with the Finns pushed out of Juva, again without Soviet loss.

    There were no more battles or skirmishes for the remainder of the month, by which time all remaining Finnish partisan units were in full retreated as the uprising was squeezed shut and the units guarding the German border started to return to their old positions. It should all be over soon.


    Operational summary, Finland, February 1945.

    ******

    6. Naval Operations

    The carrier attack on a Soviet submarine squadron operating east of Tokyo in January proved to be a harbinger of more serious developments. The cosy habits of previous months were rudely upset when the three flotillas of the 10th Sub Sqn reported they were under attack in the Kashima Sea by four wings of carrier-born aircraft on the night of 1 February. After three hours of this, the 7th Flotilla had been sunk and the other two completely disorganised.


    The survivors had been ordered to break contact and head back to base by 2300 hr [by then down to 80% and 91% strength and no organisation]. But before they could get away, destroyers from the Japanese task group, which contained the carriers Akagi and Kaga [and have survived all this time to still be going in February 1945 – USN where are you!?] took up the attack at midnight. It was all over by 0300 hr, with 3 and 4 Flotillas completely destroyed.


    All remaining squadrons on patrol (six flotillas in three squadrons, with one flotilla already back there under repair) were recalled to base: no Japanese convoy sinking was worth this level of risk.

    ******

    7. Intelligence

    By 7 February, Soviet spy reserves had reached 20 teams. It was decided to launch a new national mission: Stalin wanted to know where US research was, especially in nuclear bomb development. All ten teams were in place by 0000 hr on 8 February – and in a worrying start, two of them were apprehended straight away. Not by US counter-intelligence (ie the FBI), but by agents from Egypt and Iraq! This was a trend that would continue from that point onwards.


    What was learned was that the FBI had six teams operating, but clearly a large number of Allied agents were helping them. Importantly, it seemed US nuclear bomb making tech was ‘weak’, as was jet engine theory, though the latter was under research. But not nuclear theory or bomb-making, it seemed. Their military production was heavily focused on land units, including mechanised, armoured and paratroop divisions.

    Unfortunately, Soviet spies were being caught on a daily basis. Two on 9 February (the US itself and Israel), two more on the 10th (Australia and Canada), and another on 11 February (Jordan). During this time an FBI team was neutralised (10 Feb) [but it was impossible to tell from the information provided how many of the many Allied spies captured during this time were in the USSR or helping out in the US.]

    On 10 February, Japanese domestic intelligence stood at zero teams and Manchuria one, so the Japan mission allocation went to one-third counter-espionage and two-thirds unity disruption (a reversal of the previous proportions), while Manchuria went to the same balance (previously 100% counter-espionage). Leadership for espionage was increased from 1.1 to 1.5 to try to cope with the high rate of losses in the US. An indicative sample [quick tag over to a few countries, as I was curious] extracted from the captured FBI agent showed that the number of Allied operatives assisting in the US was enormous. All seemed to be devoting one-third to supporting the ruling party, the other two-thirds to counter-espionage (eg neutralising enemy agents):
    • The UK had five teams in the US, maintaining a total of 23 active spies abroad.
    • Canada had seven in the US, with a massive 78 abroad.
    • Australia had six, from 67 spies serving abroad.
    It was clear from this that the Soviet Union would have a very hard time making any progress in the US. On 11 February, with the strength in the US already down to only five, the Soviets suspended active operations to allow the total to rebuild back up to ten (there were still nine teams in reserve at that point).

    This was achieved by 12 February, when full counter-espionage operations were resumed. But one team was captured on 13 Feb (France) and two on 14 Feb (US and Palestine). Leadership was then bumped up to 2.0 on spy training, with the reserve down to just one. By 16 February, though there had been no more losses over the last two days, the FBI was back up to seven agents and it was clear that the effort in the US was no longer worth the extreme attrition rate. No more replacements would be sent and the remaining agents were sent to see if they could discover any technical secrets before they were all captured.


    By the end of the month, there was only one active Soviet agent left in the US: the rest had been captured by a mix of foreign Allied agents from Guyana (18 Feb); India (19 Feb), Palestine and Indo-China (22 Feb), Pakistan (25 Feb), France and Israel (26 Feb), Egypt (27 Feb) and Canada (28 Feb). It meant that of the 20 agents committed to the US in February, 19 had been neutralised. Just the one FBI man had been taken down, and likely an unknown number of foreign agents operating in the US. It had proven an expensive exercise, but at last Stalin now had some comfort that US nuclear research may not be too far advanced after all.

    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started the month with no team, losing none and adding one during the month with one Soviet agent lost. With an increase from one third to two thirds of agents undermining national unity on 10 February, it had decreased marginally from 68.4 to 67.7%. It was unclear whether some of that may have been caused by the Allies sinking Japanese convoys.

    Manchukuo started with one agent, added none and lost one during the month, finishing with zero, with one Soviet spy neutralised. After unity disruption resumed, Manchurian national unity had fallen from 69.4 to 69.1%.

    The Soviets had lost a massive 21 teams in total for the month, adding seven, and therefore finishing with four in reserve. It would be some time before another new operation might be launched – and probably not against another major Allied power, if the US experience was any indication of how they were all helping each other.

    Another 35 enemy agents were rounded up in the Soviet Union and overseas during the 28 day month.

    ******

    8. Diplomacy

    Sweden began aligning towards the Comintern again on 3 February, as did Tibet.

    The next major diplomatic development did not occur until 28 February, when Siam joined the Allies. This suddenly improved their position in Malaya, as the Thais had a sizeable force deployed along the frontier there.

    Molotov reviewed the diplomatic situation that night. The two crucial (ie Comintern victory condition) large neutral countries of Spain and Turkey remained in stasis, close to the Comintern but still under constant Allied influence, drifting slightly back to the Allies in net terms.


    The review also reminded the Foreign Minister that Sinkiang, while a long-standing Comintern member, had never actually been called in to join the war against Japan! A check showed they had a sizeable army (two corps worth) they could throw into the fight. The call was made and a positive response was considered a foregone conclusion. They would be given some suggested objective in Mongolia if and when they joined the fight.


    Neither Persia nor Romania would be called up: too few men, too far away, with their own borders to help defend.

    ******

    9. Research

    The Air Force improvement drive continued, with fighter ground crew training improving on 11 February and the effort there extended, as it was still primitive by world standards.


    The same day ‘blitzkrieg’ (the term was not used in the Soviet military) doctrine went into its sixth iteration. The focus here was changed to submarine AA development, given the terrible recent experience at the hands of Japanese CAG wings.


    On 16 February special forces doctrine was improved and the effort maintained there as well, as it lagged most other land research doctrine and such forces were becoming increasingly important.


    Civil defence measures were developed to contemporary standards on 24 February, with the next focus going to the Air Force again: TAC and NAV bombers would be equipped with air search radar for the first time, improving their air detection and night attack capabilities.


    And on 26 February, landing craft design was completed, meaning they could now be built. Basic invasion tactics were the next topic of interest: the less time spent exposed on landing craft the better, given the paucity of Soviet naval support available to protect them.



    ******

    10. Production

    The Mutina air base was built to level four on 5 February, the expansion rolling forward. A new mechanised division was deployed two days later, allocated to 4 Mech Corps (7th Army) in Kirensk, near Lake Baikal.

    Two important new build were then decided on, using the IC freed up. At that point, there were only two wings of NAV in service. A third was ordered. And the remaining IC was allocated to starting a second nuclear reactor. It would start out at about one-third production speed, until more IC could be allocated to boost it.


    On 13 February the Irkutsk air base reached level eight facilities, with level nine set it train immediately. Another new build – a new fighter wing – was delivered on 15 February: it was deployed in Kyiv. Where the old LaGG-3s would have to be upgraded to the current model fighters. The freed IC would go to boost work on the second reactor, which was now up to a 60% rate of effort.

    A new para division (3 x PARA) deployed to Irkutsk on 23 February, to work up and go into the theatre reserve for now. Then, with the newly researched landing craft designs completed, the first Soviet landing craft squadron was begun on 26 February. This would slow down work on the second reactor somewhat, as it was elevated above it in the production queue.


    The next day, welcome news came of an temporary economic boost. This would take average daily total output from around 390 to 400 IC while it lasted (for about a week only, though).


    Another new fighter wing(LaGG-3s again) arrived in Kyiv on 27 February, joining the one recently delivered in upgrading to the latest model interceptor. The IC released (along with the temporary economic boost) had the second reactor building at 84% effort by the end of the month. The first one was due in early April, which would free up a massive amount of IC (and hopefully make construction of the second a little more efficient with the lessons learned).



    ******

    11. Theatre Summaries

    The Far Eastern Front, as we have seen, saw little territory change hands in February, all of it in the south.


    Total recorded Soviet losses to land combat for battles on all fronts (including Finland and Persia) were up from January, at 2,661 in land combat and only 132 from the single completed Japanese air raid, giving total combat losses of 2,793.

    The Axis lost 9,317 Axis soldiers killed on land on all fronts (not counting prisoners taken), and the toll from the air was 11,600, mainly in the Far East, around 600 fewer than in January. Total Axis casualties were therefore 20,917 in all theatres (again, not including prisoners).

    ******

    With Persia now in the Comintern, the Soviets now had access to friendly Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean ports. Plus new Pact borders with Allied Iraq and Pakistan.



    ******

    The Allies had surprisingly found themselves a little bogged down in Indo-China, with the Japanese still stubbornly holding out in the south and no movement elsewhere.


    Two battles were currently in progress there, the crucial one being for Quang Ngai, the last port still in Japanese hands. What looked like it had been a long and stubborn Japanese defence appeared about to end, though they had made gains further south over the course of the month.


    The entrance of Siam into the Allies earlier on 28 July gave them a very useful new partner with a reasonable and undamaged army. Much of it was poised on the border with Malaya and was now well-placed to eliminate the remaining Japanese occupation without the need for other Allied redeployment. The one Japanese division in the north was already under attack, while the Thai 4th Division was moving to cut the Japanese off further south at Sungei Petani.



    ******

    In Australia, it looked like the Japanese he reoriented their forces to try to stop – and indeed reverse, if they could – the Allied advance in the north. They were currently counter-attacking towards Brisbane. But it looked like this will have now weakened their southern defence, allowing the Allied forces their to start driving north. It remained an interesting campaign, conducted with small forces over great distances.


    Once more, there were no changes in the wider Pacific area.
     
    Chapter 13 – March 1945
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    Chapter 13 – March 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: As we come out of deep winter, the operational tempo has increased. To streamline the reporting and maps further, I’m trialling another new presentation style. In essence, skirmishes (less than 100 combined total casualties) just won’t get mapped or reported in any detail, though the casualties are still tracked in the totals. The icons on the maps are scaled in size corresponding to the ‘size’ of the battle (again, going off combined total casualties): dates, locations and respective casualties are no longer in little map text boxes. Same with air raid casualties, which are just tracked summarised as totals for the whole month, irrespective of how many different raids or mission periods there were.


    The map will note when a province was occupied by one side or the other. Larger battles (dates, respective casualties etc) will be briefly noted in the accompanying text descriptions if merited. I’m going to more of a history book format for all the combat. Only way to stay sane and keep this ‘quick and dirty’, for both writer and reader alike. Overall command arrangements and objectives, production, research and intel will still get the same treatment as before, as they are the key things I control as the player, while the AI handles the combat.


    ******

    General Command Changes

    In the west, Archangelsk Theatre assumed responsibility for all of Finland to ensure the Prussian border wasn’t depopulated again if there is another revolt [thanks @Surt for that hint – the Baltic Theatre had been triggered to respond when the Finnish rebels headed towards Leningrad].


    With around 1.3 million troops between them, the Baltic and Lwow Theatres man the demarcation line with the Allies.


    Caucasus Theatre now had the added responsibility of Persia, plus guarding the border with neutral Turkey and Afghanistan and the Allied puppets of Iraq and Pakistan.



    ******

    1. Far East – Northern Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Northern Sector, March 1945.


    The numbers correspond to the total number of casualties for both sides of the battle (the explosion icon) or the total of monthly air raids (target icon) respectively. The little flags show the dates provinces were occupied.

    The month began with the Japanese attack on Ust Aldan (which had started on 14 January) still going, as was the attack on Susuman, from 1 February. The Soviets lost the latter on 7 March after 34 days of fighting, with no post-battle report available; but Soviet losses (alone) were estimated at around 750 men.

    On 5 March, a Soviet attack started on Tomtor, with heavy air support. It was clearly designed to spoil the long-running Japanese attack on Ust Aldan. Victory came in Tomtor on 10 March (Soviet 201 v 376 Japanese ground plus 3,040 air raid casualties). This also forced the end of the Japanese Ust Aldan attack after a marathon 55 days (Soviet 63 v 677 Japanese killed).

    There were no further battles or provinces taken for the rest of the month in the Far North, as both sides advanced to follow up their victories.

    ******

    2. Far East – Central Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, March 1945.

    Once again, the Central Sector saw the vast bulk of the fighting, with the Soviets largely gaining the upper hand and making some important advances.

    The Soviet attack on Olekminsk, started on 27 February, succeeded by 2 March (Soviet 343 v 222 Japanese ground and 719 air casualties). The province would be liberated on 9 March.

    A Soviet assault on Njuja from Suntar and Lensk struck at midnight on 1 March and found resounding victory three days later (Soviet 172 v 1,005 Japanese ground and 1,141 air casualties). Njuja too would be reoccupied on 9 March.

    The third element of this initial offensive was a Soviet attack on Ust' Nyukzha, again lasting from 1-4 March (Soviet 1,541 v 1,343 Japanese ground and 1,233 air casualties) with its liberation coming on 9 March.

    However, the Japanese counter-attacked Ust' Nyukzha from Torgo and Berdingestjah on 9 March and had defeated the Soviet defenders by 11 March (Soviet 787 v 380 Japanese ground and 575 air casualties in Torgo). The Japanese would retake the province on 17 March.

    The Japanese had also attempted to retake Olekminsk over the same period (9-11 March) in a smaller battle, but were thrown back. Meanwhile, a major new attack was launched by the Soviets on Berdingestjah from Suntar and the recently occupied Njuja at 1000 hr on 9 March.

    The attack received heavy Soviet air support, while the Japanese sent a wing of CAS against the Soviet troops attacking from Njuja.


    Their first raid struck before the Soviet interceptors could stop it; but the second time they were ready. The CAS wing was savaged and unable to attack any units on the ground. It ended up being so badly thrashed the Soviet Air Force Chief declared a decisive air victory.

    The vicious fighting in Berdingestjah would last until 0500 hr on 18 March. By then, the Soviets had lost 1,603 men in ground combat and another 47 from the air raid on Njuja. The Japanese lost 2,611 men in ground combat and a massive 3,222 more to nine days of Soviet air strikes. The province was liberated on 20 March.

    ******

    While the great battle in Berdingestjah continued, fighting broke out to the south in Mogoca on 14 March when the Soviets attacked with air support, winning by 16 March (Soviet 143 v 242 Japanese ground and 1,140 air casualties). Such was the difficult terrain and weather that the mountainous province had still not been liberated by the end of the month.

    A Soviet advance on Aldan on 17 March met with no opposition, the province eventually being liberated on 28 March. Two short Soviet probes on the recently enemy re-occupied Ust’ Nyukzha on 18 March failed and were quickly called off. A more deliberate attack was planned.

    The Japanese were not content to allow the Soviets easy occupation of Olekminsk: they attacked from Torgo on 18 March and were beaten back after three days of horrendous losses (Soviet 198 v 1,250 Japanese ground and 2,002 air casualties in Torgo).

    The new Soviet attack to retake Ust’ Nyukzha started at 2200 hr on 18 March, with 93 SD advancing from Kedrovvy and 103 Mot Div from Novaya Chara. But both required river crossings and, despite more air support, sufficient headway could not be made. The attack was called off at 0600 hr on 20 March (Soviet 407 v 329 Japanese ground and 473 air casualties).

    The Japanese tried to exploit this Soviet defeat by attacking 103 Mot Div in Novaya Chara later on 20 March, from Erofej Pavlovic. Even though this was not across a river, a stout defence and disruptive Soviet air attacks ensured another bloody defeat for the Japanese by the morning of 24 March (Soviet 420 v 1,348 Japanese ground and 1,017 air casualties).

    As that battle was being fought, the next Soviet attack came further north, following up earlier success in Njuja and Berdingestjah. Soviet troops attacked Tjung from three different directions with air support on 20 March, mustering around 35,000 men against 9,000 Japanese defenders. The Soviets prevailed by 24 March (Soviet 559 v 1,008 Japanese ground and 1,337 air casualties), but were still moving to occupy the province by the end of the month.

    On 21 March [after ‘STAVKA’ had forgotten to do it a few times! :oops:], specific axes of advance were specified for 6th, 15th and 1st Armies, so see whether they would have any appreciable effect in focusing the respective commanders. The map below also serves to highlight the ‘double pincer’ drives to the coast 6th and 15th Armies had been jointly tasked with in the Central Sector.



    ******

    Exploiting from Berdingestjah, 205 Mot Div drove on Jakutsk on the morning of 24 March, meeting no serious opposition (just a corps HQ which fled immediately) and dashing forward to see if the air base could be reoccupied before Japanese defenders arrived. The race was still on by the end of the month.


    Progress in the 6th Army AO by 0000 hr 26 March 1945.

    On 26 and 27 March the Soviets probed Torgo three times, each one broken off after taking disproportionate casualties, although accompanying air strikes killed 540 Japanese defenders.

    As 221 Mot Div arrived to liberate Aldan on 28 March, the Japanese 37th Hoheishidan launch a reckless assault on them, attacking north from Nerjungri. The Soviet commander MAJGEN Tolbukhin expertly counter-attacked it, exacting a heavy toll on the banzai-charging Japanese infantry.

    For the first time [since March 1944 in this AAR] Japanese TAC bombers made an appearance, striking the forward elements in Aldan. Their first raid was not intercepted and caused 207 Soviet casualties by 1400 hr on 28 March.


    They struck again that evening, killing another 140 defenders by 1800 hr – but this time were intercepted by two wings of Soviet over Olekminsk on their way back. The Japanese were not savaged too heavily but were driven off and did not reappear.

    The Soviets won the battle for Aldan on the morning of 31 March: three days of heavy fighting saw 485 Soviets killed on the ground and 347 from air raids; the Japanese lost 952 men on the ground and another 1,774 from air strikes on Nerjungri.

    In the last few days of the month, the Japanese unsuccessfully probed Olekminsk twice and the Soviets lost two skirmishes in Torgo also, though accompanying air strikes saw another 678 Japanese killed in the latter. ‘Spoiling’ air strikes were launched on the Japanese in Tommot from 28-31 March, killing 662 enemy there, without any accompanying ground attack.

    The month finished with yet another futile Soviet attempt to take Ust' Nyukzha by frontal assault: it is possible the STAVKA-suggested axis of advance was being pursued with revolutionary vigour after all! The Soviets lost 786 men trying it, with 349 Japanese killed on the ground and 379 from Soviet air raids.

    But as a furious month of combat ended, the Soviets were pleased with the progress they had made – and the enormous casualties they had inflicted on the enemy in the Central Sector.

    ******

    3. Far East – Southern Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, March 1945.

    A quick attack on Burjatija on 7 March quickly and easily saw off the single Manchurian militia division defending it after an 11-hour firefight (Soviet three v 110 Manchurian ground and 136 air casualties). But the attacking 239 Mot and 3 Cav Divs were not from the dilatory 1st Army: they were 7th Army formations! It would take until 22 March for the province to be reoccupied.

    On 14 March Dzhirgalanta was finally liberated by 170 SD after the victory there the month before. They quickly joined an existing Mongolian attack on Tsetserlig, but the battle was lost on 16 March before the Soviet formation could join in the combat (Mongolian 601 v 172 Japanese ground and 768 air casualties).

    During this battle, the brave but ineffective Japanese 4 Zerosen no Hikodan once again tried to interfere with a Soviet air raid on Tsetserlig, which had two fighter wings escorting the TAC bombers, plus another two INT wings that joined in the fight.


    By 1000 hr on 17 March, the unscathed 170 SD was able to launch its own attack on the tired Japanese and Manchurian defenders of Tsetserlig. The battle was won by 0600 hr the next day, though the Soviets had lost 207 men to the enemy’s 83, with air strikes killing another 295 defenders before their morale broke. 170 SD was still advancing on Tsetserlig as March ended.

    Between 22 and 25 March, Japanese marines based in Barguzin on Lake Baikal attempted to oust the Soviets from Burjatija, which they had just re-occupied. They failed, taking very heavy casualties from the combat and being pounded from the air by Soviets aircraft based in nearby Irkutsk (Soviet 107 v Japanese 794 ground and 1,964 air casualties).

    The Soviet 3 Cav Div made an ambitious breakthrough attack on 15 Rikusentai in Barguzin on 26 March against the exhausted Japanese marines – and it worked, the enemy fleeing after the briefest of firefights and losing 365 men from renewed Soviet air attacks.

    This was another 7th Army effort and, at that point, General Egorov [Skill 3] was sacked as commander 1st Army and replaced with General Cherniakhovskij [Skill 5] early on 26 March. If things at 1st Army did not change in April, STAVKA was considering disbanding it entirely and giving the remaining troops to 7th Army.

    Before they could occupy Barguzin, 3 Cav Div ran into a fresh Japanese infantry division there at 0800 hr on 30 Mar, a quick probe showing they wouldn’t have the strength to take it unaided. 239 Mot Div tried themselves in the early afternoon, but that too failed after a promising start, when Burjatija was hit by a Japanese spoiling attack.

    Later that afternoon, more fresh Japanese marines now in Barguzin (19 Rikusentai) began an attack on Burjatija that was still going as the month ended. Heavy Soviet air strikes on Barguzin on 30 and 31 March tried to discourage them, killing another 1,224 Japanese troops.

    7th Army further demonstrated its aggressive instincts by attacking Goryachinsk, on the southern end of Lake Baikal, at 1000 hr on 30 March. 17 and 196 SDs were assaulting a single Manchurian militia division, but the enemy were well dug in and the battle remained even [48% progress] by the end of 31 March. The usual heavy Soviet air support from nearby Irkutsk had already killed 1,022 defenders over the course of those two days.

    The final act in the Southern Sector for March was preparation for an attack on Bukacaca, with air raids during 31 March killing 493 troops there, where 5 Rikusentai had joined in the Japanese attack attempting to retake Burjatija [43% progress]. By 2300 hr on 31 March, 15 Mot Div in Vitimskoe Ploskgore (a 1st Army formation – at last!) was moving into position to launch a spoiling attack on Bukacaca, which by then was a 1st Army objective again on its prescribed axis of advance south to Mildigun. If the other 1st Army divisions massed in the vicinity joined in a more general offensive soon, the whole Japanese line in the area might be cracked open.

    ******

    4. Persia


    By the end of the month, the Caucasus Front had many of the divisions previously deployed in Persia in trains and trucks, heading back to the Turkish border, while the Persian Army gradually started to rebuild.

    ******

    5. Finland

    The Finnish rebels were all in retreat by the morning of 2 March, falling back towards the last three provinces they still controlled. But they had lost the ability to fight any more pitched battles. By 9 March, their final stronghold of Kitee was under attack from all directions by five Soviet rifle divisions. The remaining Finns soon surrendered without further fighting.

    On the evening of 10 March, all Soviet units were heading back north to their positions on the Swedish and Norwegian borders.



    ******

    6. Naval Report

    The delivery of a third new transport fleet led to the formation of the Far East Transport Squadron, which now contained seven flotillas. With the submarines all recalled, of course no Japanese convoys had been sunk by the Soviets in March. All the subs were gathered in one squadron: unfortunately, only one of the newer (Series V-bis) flotillas had survived. Because of their longer range, they had been the furthest out and near Japan when their carriers had struck. The rest were all old Series II boats.

    While a comprehensive submarine design program was put in train during March 1945, only Series II boats could currently be produced. One was commenced on 15 March, basically just for the practical experience, until newer designs were available.


    [A question: so for subs is it just the engine and hull that don’t upgrade? I know AA does and presume sonars and air warning techs do as well. What about torpedoes?]

    ******

    7. Intelligence

    The last Soviet spy remaining in the US was eliminated at midnight on 1 March – by a British team. The ill-fated mission there would not be attempted again.

    Confusingly, a Soviet spy in Japan was eliminated on 12 March by the Japanese [so the report said] … at a time when they had no agents of their own at home, or even in reserve. This was regarded as an anomaly, so C-E was left at level one, NU disruption at level 2.

    Then the same thing happened the next day. Again, it was decided to ‘tough it out’, given there were no extra spies there to catch by increasing counter-espionage emphasis.

    But when it happened again on 16 March (no Japanese agents in the field at home, one undeployed in reserve), enough was enough. Counter-espionage in Japan was raised to level two, the same as NU disruption.

    No more Soviet spies were lost there for the rest of the month, and the one Japanese spy in reserve was captured on 20 March after being deployed.

    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started the month with no teams, producing and losing the one during the month, with three Soviet agents lost. Japanese national unity had decreased by 0.7% from 67.7% to 67%.

    Manchukuo started the month with no agents at home, producing one who finished in reserve, with no Soviet spies neutralised. Manchurian national unity had fallen from by 0.6% from 69.1% to 68.5%.

    The Soviets had lost four teams in total for the month, adding six, and therefore finishing with seven in reserve. A new mission to another country was probably two months or more away at current spy training rates.

    Another 30 enemy agents were rounded up in the Soviet Union and overseas during March. The UK was easily the largest presence, with four neutralised. France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the US each had two apprehended, while one each was caught from Austria, Bhutan, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Nationalist China, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Syria, Yemen and Indo-China. In other words, all but three were from Allied countries. Capitalist fiends! :mad:

    ******

    8. Intelligence

    The diplomatic scene was relatively quiet, with Tibet (on 1 March) and Sweden (28 March) ceasing to self-align to the Comintern.

    ******

    9. Research

    Light bomb improvements delivered on 5 March saw effort switched to the submarine improvement program, with engines the next component (after AA) to be researched.


    Single engine airframe designs were again upgraded on 8 March, with torpedo development the next submarine project to be started.


    12 March saw Soviet interception tactics improved further, while better submarine hull designs would be the next cab off the rank.


    Nuclear physics research progress to level three on 13 March – and given the priority Stalin placed on this awesome new capability, another round was begun. [Question: do people have views on whether this is worth it now, or whether it should be stopped once practical experience can be gained by actually building nukes?]


    The final research breakthrough for the month came on 25 March, with small fuel tanks improved (two out of four single engine aircraft main design components now up to 1945 levels). It was decided medium tanks would be up-gunned, with a view to improving hitting power for breakthrough tank units on the possible future European front.



    ******

    10. Production

    New single brigades for division augmentation began appearing in larger numbers during March. They were all deployed to divisions in the Far East. Noticing that many did not have supporting brigades, especially artillery, two of those were started to replace the three infantry brigades delivered on 2 March.


    More spare capacity on 3 March went into more artillery, a second landing craft flotilla and a new air base, in case needed as the front advanced in the Far East.


    4 March saw another mechanised/motorised division deployed, allocated to 15th Army. A new motorised brigade was put in training, to eventually augment an existing motorised division at some point.


    The NAV production program saw another wing of Tu-2Ts begun on 5 march.


    And on 6 March, the delivery of another wing of old LaGG-3 INT (to Kyiv, to join the upgrade line) was replaced in the queue by a second wing of the new Pe-8 strategic bombers.


    Another transport flotilla and infantry brigade were delivered on 8 March, but upgrade and reinforcement bills (the decrease of which had allowed new lines to be started in recent days) were increasing again, so no new purchases were ordered immediately.

    But by 10 March, the delivery of another INF brigade and INT wing meant there was enough IC left for three rocket artillery brigades to be begun. It had been decided that with the number of units throughout the Red Army needing artillery support, this would allow them to be equipped ‘on the cheap’, compared to standard artillery.


    Another new transport flotilla was deployed on 13 March, and the air base at Olenek improved to level four, with another expansion to replace it on the queue.

    On 22 December, it was another INF brigade delivered, with more rocket artillery ordered.


    And with the Far Eastern Front in the news, a six-day volunteer surge was welcome news on 23 March. [Though of course we are conscripting who we need and have plenty of spare manpower anyway in the USSR.]


    Finally, Stalin had a question for his nuclear scientists: with the first nuclear reactor due to come on line of 3 April and another already started, should a third be started straight away to use the IC freed? Or was two enough (for now anyway), given how tremendously expensive they were? Another alternative would be to just start adding levels to the already built reactors (having more than one is is more about the rate of technical improvement/speed of construction and I probably can't affors to have three going at once). Views and opinions are sought – on a highly classified basis, or course! ;)

    ******

    11. Theatre Summaries

    The Far Eastern Front was at last showing solid progress after the worst of the winter began to recede.


    Total recorded Soviet losses to land combat for battles (now just the Far East with all combat operations completed in Finland and Persia) were more than three times those of February with 9,672 from land combat and 394 from Japanese air raids, giving total combat losses of 10,066.

    But the big increase in operational tempo had seen the Japanese and their puppets lose huge numbers: 13,654 were killed in ground combat, while a mind-numbing 27,214 perished from Soviet air attacks. Total Japanese/Axis casualties were therefore close to double from February at 40,868 (not including all the prisoners taken in Finland when the revolt collapsed).

    ******

    South East Asia had seen the Japanese eradicated from French Indo-China – but they appeared to have either slipped the noose or landed more troops further south in (independent) Indo-China. There had also been some movement in Malaya and Borneo, but the Japanese also remained fighting in both those locations.


    The last port in French Indo-China – Quang Ngai – had fallen on 2 March, but Japanese resistance continued. By 20 March, what was presumed to be a new Japanese landing to the south had been reported, with no details available [ie no tagging during the month].

    By the time detailed Allied reports were available at the end of the month, the Japanese were once again surrounded by numerous Allied forces, using Cam Ranh as their base port.


    While many other divisions were in transit through Thailand to Malaya to finish things off there.


    The Thais (who had joined the Allies at the end of February) had made progress in Malaya, retaking Kuala Lumpur and heading towards the virtually undefended (by land units) large naval and air base of occupied Singapore. Where at least three Japanese aircraft carriers (along with another 40 naval vessels) seemed to be holed up.


    In Borneo, the Japanese had divided the Allied holdings on the island in two and seemed to be chasing the Anglo-American forces there north.



    ******

    With no other changes of note in Asia or the Pacific, things had slowed down somewhat in Australia, where the Japanese were still hanging on, having halted the Allies’ northern push while conceding a little ground in the south.

     
    Chapter 14 – April 1945
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    Chapter 14 – April 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: Things are certainly livening up – and so I must further condense the presentation to keep it Quick and Dirty enough! I will only give battle details for the largest engagements, the rest are summarized on the sector maps. This would have been up earlier, but for the delay for the rather ugly new forum design, then my shocked reaction to it!

    PS: Have fixed the broken image link and included an updated map legend on the first summary map as a 'hot fix'. Will think about how I might include an easy-reference cut down legend for subsequent maps on a future update. :)


    ******

    1. Far East – Northern Sector

    No territory changed hand in the far North during April 1945. Vast distances and slow movement times kept things gradual. The one action of the month occurred in Tomtor, where the previously retreating Japanese Sasebo Marine Division struck south to support an attack on Jakutsk after the Soviets occupied it on 5 April. This attack from Tomtor was soon spoiled by a Soviet assault from the west, with victory on 7 April.

    ******

    2. Far East – Central Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, April 1945.
    NB: in all these maps, small numbers in the battle icon represent the order of the battles in the province if there is more than one.

    221 Mot Div in Aldan came under heavy attack on 1 April. Two days later, (with no report received from the battle) the whole division apparently shattered, disappearing without a trace [I assume they shattered anyway, but there was no message or screen, no sign of them after they were defeated]. The Japanese retook the province on 6 April.

    Early in the month, Soviet tank divisions from 6th Army were racing towards Jakutsk, the air base lost around a year ago while the Japanese were still on the offensive. Tjung was liberated on 3 April and Jakutsk two days later.


    Jakutsk then came under concerted Japanese attack from Tomtor and Lazo between 5 and 16 April. After 7 April, as mentioned above, the attackers from Tomtor were driven off by 6th Army forces in the north. The liberated air base was held after a bloody fight (Soviet 269 v 1,691 Japanese casualties).

    Japanese-held Torgo was attacked between 3-6 April and reoccupied on 13 April as the Soviets finally managed to breach the river defences that had held them up in March.

    Japanese forces in Mosgolloh were attacked on 11 April but retreated almost immediately, allowing the Soviets to eventually occupy it near the end of the month without further opposition.

    15th Army was not willing to let the Japanese get comfortable in Aldan for long: a counter-attack from Olekminsk was organised for 15 April, with the Japanese defeated four days later with fairly heavy losses, the Soviets marching back in triumphantly on 27 April – the same day Mosgolloh was taken to its immediate north.

    A few probes on Ust’ Nyukzha came to nothing in the days leading up to a major attack on 19 April. This time, the river was crossed successfully, with victory on 22 April and the province retaken on 25 April.

    As that attack was unfolding, Soviet forces from Torgo were striking south-east against Nejungri on 20 April. After a sharp fight they won against light resistance, retaking the province on 27 April, just before Aldan was reoccupied, meaning the Japanese lost a swathe of three provinces in the one day and just two days after Ust’ Nyukzha had fallen. There were hopes the heart had been torn out of the Japanese line in this part of the sector, but only time would tell if the rate of advance could be sustained.

    Indeed, a strong Japanese counter-attack had hit Ust’ Nyukzha as soon as it was retaken on 25 April and was still going as the month ended, with the Soviet defenders in trouble.

    But to the north, on 25 April 6th Army deployed two CAS wings into the recently liberated air base at Jakutsk.


    With Mosgolloh taken on 27 April, 6th Army pushed forward in Curapca, with an attack on 28 April still in progress by the end of 30 April (and 1,137 enemy already killed in air strikes), while a Soviet probe on Tommot was repelled on 30 April. Then the Japanese in Tommot launched their own counter-attack later that day on recently reoccupied Nerjungri, which continued as the day ended.

    Strong Soviet air support throughout the month caused heavy Japanese casualties, while no Japanese air missions were flown in the sector. The heaviest raids were in Torgo (1-6 April, 2,749 casualties), Aldan (15-19 April, 2,037 casualties), Ust’ Nyukzha (19-22 April, 1,891 casualties) and Erofej Pavlovic (1,694 casualties).

    ******

    3. Far East – Southern Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, April 1945.

    7th Army became very active along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, both north and south, while 15th Army was engaged in heavy combat in and around the mountainous Japanese stronghold of Mogoca. And 1st Army, with a new commander and stripped of many of its divisions, finally became engaged in combat as the month drew to a close.

    The month began with a continuing Japanese attack on Burjatija, which the Soviets had retaken in March. The attack would fail by 3 April (Soviet 306 v 1,388 Japanese ground and 1,767 air casualties in Barguzin and 1,985 in Bukacaca).

    The Japanese attempted to intercept one of the damaging air raids on Barguzin on the evening of 3 April (4 Zerosen, flying the Ki-88 Hayate), but was met with additional Soviet interceptors (Yak-3s) and a determined 36. IA-PVO, whose multi-role escort fighters (non-jet MiG-9 ‘Fargos’) took most of the damage defending the bombers.


    The Japanese also made a determined but expensive attack on Dronovskiy from 1-2 April, repelled with even heavier casualties (Soviet 231 v 1,728 Japanese ground casualties).

    A series of four small Soviets probes against Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy from 2-6 April did little and were all quickly called off, while two more lighter Japanese attacks on Dronvoskiy from 2-4 April were easily repelled.

    Meanwhile, when Soviet cavalry probed Barguzin on 3 April, resistance ceased almost immediately and they continued their advance. They would meet heavier resistance on 4 April, ultimately winning a tough battle by 8 April, aided by air support (Soviet 700 v Japanese 860 ground and 930 air casualties). Barguzin was eventually occupied on 17 April.

    Simultaneously, 7th Army was also attacking Goryachinsk at the southern end of Lake Baikal, that battle also extending from 4-8 April, when Soviet forces triumphed. While ground casualties were relatively moderate, devastating air raids from 5-8 April killed 2,585 enemy defenders. The province was liberated quickly, 7th Army lead elements marching in on 9 April.

    With no action by 1st Army in the first week of the month (an earlier apparent attack on Bukacaca on 31 March having been called off), 52nd Corps was transferred to 7th Army command, leaving 1st Army with just one corps under command. A day later, the Mildigun depth objective was taken from 1st Army and given to General Rybak’s 7th. The diminished 1st Army was told to simply concentrate on attacking Bukacaca.


    Further east in Mogoca, the largest ground battle of the month in any sector (other than perhaps the unknown losses suffered in Aldan a few days before) was fought when 15th Army responded to the earlier series of three Japanese attacks on Dronovskiy with a major attack on 7 April. The Soviets tasted victory on 13 April after six days of hard fighting in mountainous terrain (Soviet 608 v 1,560 Japanese ground and 1,101 air casualties).

    A broadly simultaneous Soviet attack by the 7th Army was nearly as large a battle, as they exploited east from Goryachinsk almost as soon as they had occupied it. The battle for Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy lasted from 9-14 April and resulted in another Soviet win (Soviet 667 v 1,264 Japanese ground and 2,658 air casualties).

    The Japanese again slipped reinforcements into Barguzin before advancing 7th Army units could secure it, with another sharp battle fought there from 13-17 April, ending in a final Soviet victory won without further air support (Soviet 506 v 1,144 Japanese ground casualties).

    4 Zerosen attempted another intercept, this time on aircraft apparently returning to Irkutsk from a mission further east. The TAC bombers of 2. BAD suffered some light damage, but 4 Zerosen ended the dogfight further damaged and badly disorganised.


    Mogoca was liberated on 15 April, Barguzin on 17 April and Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy on 19 April.


    The liberation of Barguzin on 17 April re-established the lines of communication along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, linking 7th Army units to its north and south.

    Far from being subdued, the Japanese responded with a series of attacks to try to regain lost ground. An attack on Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy from 19-21 was beaten off but not on 21-23 April, with neither battle attracting Soviet air support. But reinforcements arrived to save the day on 26 April – the Japanese stopping their advance as soon as they bumped into the fresh Soviet troops.

    A determined Japanese attack on Burjatija began on 21 April. As a result, Bukacaca was added as an objective for 15th Army, in the hope they and 1st Army might combine to send some of the heavy concentration of units sitting idly to its north-west against it.

    It took eight days to defeat the attack on Burjatija, which soaked up much of the sector's air support between 21-25 April. It was finally defeated after a spoiling attack began by 1st (finally!) and 7th Army divisions on Bukacaca kicked off on 28 April.


    1st Army – now only left with 15th Mech Corps and its assigned air support, finally stirred into action, joining with two divisions of 7th Army’s 60th Corps to assault Bukacaca on 28 September.

    That attack was still going as the month finished [77% progress], after the battle for Burjatija itself was won on 29 April (Soviet 360 v Japanese 905 ground and 1,988 air casualties).

    The quiet in Mogoca was shattered on 26 April with a major Japanese attack from Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy and other surrounding provinces that saw the Soviet defence in some trouble by the end of 30 April, as the battle wore on [84% Japanese progress]. A ground probe on 25 April and Soviet air strikes on Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy (27-30 April, 689 killed) failed to discourage the attack.

    East of Lake Baikal, a 7th Army probe on Romanovka was turned back quickly on 27 April, but an attack on Chita begun the same day was still being pressed by the end of the month [45% progress].

    ******

    4. Far East – Mongolian Sector


    Operational summary, Far East – Mongolian Sector, April 1945.

    7th Army’s other (once primary, now lesser) responsibility was to team up with the Mongolians to retake lost Mongolian territory, especially the former capital of Ulaanbaatar. But despite some early successes, progress proved elusive in April.

    Major combat operations started on 6 April with a Soviet attack on Khadasan fron Muren and Khantai, while 170 SD attempted to follow up its previous victory by advancing to secure Tsetserlig.


    The battle for Khadasan was won on 9 April, but not before heavy casualties were sustained in the attack (Soviet 966 v Japanese 530 ground and 1,075 air casualties). The province was occupied later that day.

    But six days later, a strong Japanese counter-attack from the north-east began and the weakened units trying to hold to Khadasan, not given any air support to blunt the attack, were in turn defeated on 18 April (Soviet 533 v Japanese 381 killed). Khadasan was lost again on 23 April.

    The same day, forces advancing on Tsetserlig ran into reinforcing Japanese units, with a fierce battle raging for the next five days. It ended in another expensive defeat for the Soviet attackers (Soviet 933 v 354 Japanese killed).

    The weary troops pulled back to Dzhirgalanta and were then attacked on 28 April by the Japanese who had re-secured Khadasan, and were in some trouble by the end of the month [66% Japanese progress].

    Anecdotal evidence suggested the diversion of air support for most of the month had a negative effect on Soviet ground operations. The three battles which did not receive it were either lost or apparently being lost.

    ******

    5. Intelligence

    In Japan, the Kempeitai had started and finished the month with one team, producing and losing the two during the month, but no Soviet agents were lost. Japanese national unity had decreased by 0.8% from 67.0% to 66.2%.

    Manchukuo started the month with one agents at home, producing one and losing none to finish with two, with one Soviet spy neutralised on 26 April. This prompted a priority change with all Soviet in-country effort being directed to counter-espionage to try to stamp out the local agents. Manchurian national unity had fallen by 0.5% from 68.5% to 68.0%.

    The Soviets had lost one team in total for the month, adding five, and therefore finishing with eleven in reserve. A new mission to another country was still at least a month or more away.

    There was a decrease in enemy agents were rounded up in the Soviet Union and overseas during April: 23 were apprehended, down from 30 in March and 35 each in January and February. This time Germany led the list with four agents neutralised, two each from Czechoslovakia and Japan (the latter probably both picked up in Japan itself), and one each from Belgium, Bhutan, Communist China (the class traitors!), Hungary, India, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Syria, the UK and the US. Of those, the Swedes were the only non-Allied country.

    ******

    6. Diplomacy

    Tibet began aligning towards the Comintern on 5 April but had ceased doing so by the 29th. Sweden began aligning on 12 April and was still doing so as the month ended.

    Despite having been called into the war and now given objectives in Mongolia, the army of Sinkiang had shown no eagerness to send forces east. An investigation that reported on 7 April showed this was probably due to their concerns about the threat of Xibei San Ma on their border.


    The Ma Clique was very close to the Axis and under their continuing influence. Perhaps that problem would need to be suitably ‘rectified’ once the main front had been better secured and some troops could be spared to combine with Sinkiang to overthrow the Ma dictators and institute a Peoples’ Republic in Xibei San Ma.

    As the month ended, Molotov reviewed war goals against various Axis minor powers. It was decided that Manchukuo and Mengukuo would both be puppeted after Communist governments (existing war goals) were installed. Finland’s ultimate fate had been neglected, so the first priority would be to bring the glories of Communism to the rebellious counter-revolutionaries, to be followed by puppeting subsequently (though their recalcitrant government-in-exile would delay that no doubt until the Axis was fully defeated).



    ******

    7. Research

    It was a busy month for Soviet researchers and academicians. It started on 3 April with the introduction of amphibious warfare equipment. With submarine designs being heavily researched, crew training was now also addressed.


    With the USSR’s first nuclear reactor coming on line (see production below) a check of civil nuclear research showed it would achieve Level 3 in a month (2 May), with Level 4 required to begin producing an actual weapon. Nuclear physics was at 5.7 skill, giving a 7.8% research bonus. Practical nuclear bomb making skill was now at 6.0.

    In other secret research, rocket engine research would be completed on 1 July 1945. After that, jet engines could be researched – and the Soviet ballistic rocket program would be a step closer to implementation.

    The next level of single engine aircraft armament research was achieved on 7 April. Effort was now directed to continuing the medium tank upgrade program, with new sloped armour to be developed.


    Two days later Level 4 aero engine design was attained, which brought all main fighter designs to that level (1945 standard). This allowed the new aircraft type of helicopters to be researched, with the aim to improve battlefield medical evacuation (and perhaps pilot rescue) in the future.


    The latest round of heavy bomber pilot training improvement came on 13 April, with the doctrine researchers turning their attention to doing the some for the primitive ground crew training manuals.


    Spearhead doctrine (Soviet officers would not use its German descriptor) reached Level 6 on 15 April, with effort then directed back to engine development for the medium tank upgrade.


    With four-engine airframe development now beginning to approach contemporary standards, cargo capacity was finally addressed, with the niche paratroop capability being developed for future landing operations against Japan – and potentially in a later conflict with the West.


    Fighter pilot training was improved on 25 April but it was still behind the times by contemporary standards. The doctrine program for it was continued.


    With better large fuel tanks for heavy Soviet aircraft available from 29 April, researchers were finally set to improving defensive armament for the heavy aircraft arm [even if the air defence element is bugged in HOI3].


    Finally, with two engagements against the latest Japanese fighters during the month, a technical readout of the Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ and the equivalent Soviet Yak-3 interceptor was made, to show where Soviet fighter technology still lagged (and noting a new Soviet model was now available for any new aircraft produced, while current wings were upgraded: more details on the new Soviet models are provided in the Production section below).


    The Japanese aircraft, though small in number on the Far Eastern Front, were superior to their Soviet counterparts in many key aspects and especially at night, where the first generation of airborne search radars for small aircraft were still being researched and navigation radars were not yet even in blueprint form. At least speed and air attack factors were equivalent and Soviet aircraft had increased range with drop tank technology and were significantly more logistically efficient.

    ******

    8. Production

    The USSR’s first nuclear reactor, located near the capital [as with rocket research, for game physical security reasons only] came on line at midnight on 3 April 1945.


    The practical knowledge gained led to an enormous reduction in the costs for the second reactor under construction, down from over 60 IC to just 35. The spare production capacity was channelled into building the Mytishchi facility to Level 2, with enough left over for a new model five-brigade medium armoured division (which now cost almost as much as a new nuclear reactor) and two engineer brigades for reinforcing existing formations in the Far East. The medium armoured division would likely be deployed in the West when completed.


    By 4 April, elevated reinforcement costs from fighting in the Far East led to a deficit in production (around 15 IC), slowing down the new projects at the bottom of the queue (though not to the expansion of the Mytishchi reactor).

    On 5 April, Mutina air base (Far East Central Sector) was improved to level 5, with production rolled over to developing level 6 facilities.

    And by 10 April, while reinforcement costs had dramatically shrunk again, upgrade costs from recent technical developments rose to 73.8 IC, leaving the current production shortfall at around 25 IC (again, with no supplies being produced).

    And on 10 April, the latest interceptor model had been upgraded to the Yak-15 ‘Feather’, though none had yet been put into operational service, meaning the Yak-3 was the front-line fighter until upgrades had been completed. The latest multi-role fighter was still the MiG-9 ‘Fargo’. There were plans for both designs to be equipped with jet engines, but these were not yet ready [just me trying to gloss over the obvious Paradox discontinuity in the pictures/models ;)].


    The largest Soviet air base in the east at Irkutsk was upgraded to level 9 on 12 April, with expansion to the maximum level 10 facilities ordered to follow on. There were eleven wings of various types based there at that time.


    A new engineer brigade was deployed to a (3xINF) rifle division in 15th Army on 13 April.

    As at the end of the month, upgrade costs had decreased somewhat, but the IC saved had been fed into supply production as the stockpile had been run down in previous weeks and was still running at a modest daily deficit (-200). The production shortfall was about 10 IC.



    ******

    9. Theatre Summaries

    The Far Eastern Theatre had seen excellent gains in the Centre and Southern (Lake Baikal) sectors. The Far North and Mongolia had seen no territory change hands.


    Total recorded Soviet losses to land combat for battles were nominally less than March at 8,397 and none from Japanese air raids. But the apparent destruction of 221 Mech Div in Aldan had likely seen another 7,438 Soviet soldiers killed or taken into captivity.

    The operational tempo had been even higher than in March, with the Japanese and their puppets losing 16,787 men (over 3,000 more than March) in ground combat and 26,645 to air strikes (about 600 fewer than March). Total Japanese/Axis casualties were therefore about 2,600 higher than in March at 43,432. But they had lost a good deal more territory.

    ******

    The Japanese had proved more resilient in South East Asia during April than expected. They hung on in their new lodgement in Indo-China, had lost most of Malaya and the key base of Singapore, but had gained some ground in Borneo.




    The Allies were closing in on the Japanese enclave around the port of Cam Rahn against stubborn Japanese resistance.


    The Indian Army, which had been filing down to Malaya during April, was now returning to the sub-continent.


    The Thais had ‘cleaned up’ most of Malaya, including Singapore, by themselves, while most of the Allied forces that had been heading there had back-tracked, apparently to deal with the new Japanese landings in Indo-China.


    Allied forces in Borneo had retreated north, apparently not under pressure. It remained largely a side-show.

    ******

    With again no changes in the wider Pacific, the situation in Australia had remained largely static, with Japanese effort once again apparently swinging to the south, but with limited Allied progress in norther New south Wales.



    ******

    The Caucasus Theatre had largely reconstituted its garrison along the border with neutral Turkey by the end of April.

     
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    Chapter 15 – May 1945
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 15 – May 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: A busy but tough month game-wise. The number and workload of my AARs at the moment causes delays in the post rate for each as I cycle through their updates. So, I’ll try even more abbreviation of combat reporting, trying to make it even more ‘campaign operational level’. Will see how it goes!

    ******

    Introduction</