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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter 200: Into the Breach (9 to 18 May 1943)

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Chapter 200: Into the Breach (9 to 18 May 1943)

AuthAAR’s Note: Here we have a combat-focused episode, as the Turks and their Comintern partners attempt to capitalise on their recent hard-fought breakthrough in the Spring Offensive. Note, the whole month was played through, so these chapters will progressively bring us back up to the in-game ‘present’ at the end of May 1943.

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Recap: The Front Line - 8 May 43

As a reminder of where things are up to, the map below shows action in the breakthrough area during the first eight days of May 1943, as Inönü decided to chance his arm by trying to exploit both north towards Budapest and east to Timisoara – the latter meeting particularly heavy resistance and frequent Axis counter-attacks. Battles continued at Bajmok and Semska Mitrovica.


The blue dotted line shows the front as at 2300 hr on 8 May 1943.

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9 May 43

A skirmish in Bajmok was won at 1am as two advancing Turkish divisions brushed away a light defence. If it could be occupied, it started to threaten encirclement of Pécs and Beli Manastir to its west, while also offering another avenue to hook east towards Timisoara, keeping the Axis from firming up a new defensive line.

At 2am, Soviet troops from 12 SD in Backa Palanka joined four other Comintern divisions attacking two Axis divisions in Semska Mitrovica, though were yet to reinforce. Importantly, unlike the other four, if they could reinforce they were not approaching over the Sava River.

Then in the north, later that morning the fast and powerful 2 Mot Div joined 3 Mot Div (-) (which had arrived there the afternoon before) to reinforce the breakthrough into Kaposvár, where they too took the calculated risk of pushing on to Szekszárd before the follow-on units had secured Kaposvár and the supply line running through it. But if they waited, the current opportunity may disappear.


15 Inf Div were not far behind, arriving in Kaposvár at 1pm: but instead of staying to secure it, the still partly disorganised formation also pushed on to Szekszárd, as Axis divisions in Pécs must have spotted the developing trap and now started marching north to escape to Szekszárd themselves. An hour later, 4 US Mar Div was in turn ordered to march north up to Kaposvár from the original bridgehead at Szigetvár, with two divisions on their way from the south of the Drava River to relieve them in turn.

That night, the advance guard of 3 Mot Div (which had no permanent commander) arrived in Szekszárd at 7pm, encountering the unprepared 4th Hungarian Division, which retreated on contact. Having been ordered all the way through, they kept going to Dunaújváros, where they struck the 16th Hungarian Division at 8pm. Their attempted shock attack was however negated by an ambush, though the Hungarians had not had time to dig in [43% progress].

Air Damage Report. Turkish air raids in support of the attack on Semska Mitrovica, which had begun on 6 May, continued throughout the day. Turkish raids on Kula, begun on 8 May, killed 146 Axis troops by the time they finished on the morning of 9 May. There would be no renewal of Axis air attacks until 16 May.

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10 May 43

1 Mot Div reported they had arrived at Bajmok at 5am, with 17 Inf Div following up from Sombor. At 6am, the lead elements of the Axis troops trying to escape from Beli Manastir pulled back after a very brief skirmish.


At 10am, 3 Cav Div (a light motorised formation these days) hit Beli Manastir from Valpovo, intending to keep them pinned in place. But they were attacking over a river and immediately started taking disproportionate casualties, so broke off the attack before more men were killed.

Just an hour later, word came over the radio command net of a major victory in Semska Mitrovica: 2 Inf Div had occupied it just an hour later. But as they waited for the rest of their comrades to join them, they were counter-attacked by German and Hungarian troops at 3pm.


As that attack began, to the north 2 Mot Div arrived in Szekszárd and advanced to reinforce the attack on Dunaújváros [now up to 81%].


Then at 8pm, the Axis counter offensive in the south intensified, when two Hungarian divisions struck Sombor from Subotica. The superior generalship of LTGEN Cakmak was more than equal to the task however, ordering a counter-attack on the enemy assault, adding to the defenders’ advantages in terrain, entrenchment and armour.

That night, 1 TAG (the IL2s and with Hawk III escorts) were switched to Subotica to try to disrupt the Hungarians attacking Sombor.

Air Damage Report. Ten supporting air raids by the Turks (Yak-4s from 1 TAK) on Semska Mitrovica from the evening of 6 May until the morning of 10 May killed 608 Axis troops.

News Report: Berlin, Germany. On the day that the Enabling Act of 1933 was set to expire by its terms, Adolf Hitler signs an order extending his dictatorship indefinitely. Published in the Reich Law Gazette, the decree stated "The Reich government will continue to exercise the powers bestowed on it by virtue of the law of March 24, 1933. I reserve for myself the obtaining of a confirmation of these powers of the Reich government by the Greater German Reichstag". In Ankara, Prime Minister Celal Bayar was asked for comment, saying: “The criminal Nazi regime in Berlin will be lucky to last another ten months. Herr Hitler and his evil cronies will spend most of that time huddled in bunkers, contemplating the consequences of their inhuman folly, before ending up in front of firing squads. After being found guilty at full and fair trials, of course.”
OTL Event: Battle of Kursk. Hitler approved Operation Citadel, the attack on the Kursk salient, for June 1943.

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11 May 43

By 3am, the Hungarians attacking Sombor had had enough: they stopped their assault, having lost 221 men to the Comintern defenders’ 40 casualties. They would continue to suffer more casualties from both Turkish bomber groups for the rest of that day and the next three afterwards.

6 Inf Div were the next to reinforce the breakthrough in Bajmok at 9am, but they were subject to post-attack reorganisation and were therefore unable to push on, where the seizure of Baja would cut off at least three Axis divisions in a possible Pécs-Beli Manastir pocket: the Axis units in Pécs had halted in place.

The enemy attack on Semska Mitrovica failed at 3pm (Comintern 241 v 317 Axis casualties), by which time 2 Inf Div had been joined by two more divisions. At the same time, 15 Inf Div had arrived in Szekszárd, where they were sent north to exploit to Székesfehérvár, in the hope of flanking the continuing battle in Dunaújváros – slipping into Budapest by the ‘back door’.


Not that things had been quiet to that point, but between 10pm and midnight, all hell broke loose across the northern part of the front.


1. First, the Hungarian 4th Division in Pécs attacked the bridgehead in Szigetvár at 10pm, in an apparent attempt to break out, sever the supply lines of the advance on Budapest and delay the move of 4 US Mar Div in Kaposvár, which had very nearly made it there. Dangerously, German medium panzers in Nagyatád had been spotted advancing from the west, but had not yet joined the battle.​
2. Simultaneously, the German 68th Infanterie launched a diversionary attack on Vrnograc, though it appeared MAJGEN Diskoerekto, with the assistance of old Wehib Pasha’s 1 Armd Div, had that situation well in hand.​
3. In response, 3 Cav Div in Valpovo was immediately ordered to make a self-sacrificing spoiling attack on Pécs, to see if they could discourage the first attack. It hit home at 11pm, but unfortunately the remaining Hungarian division in Pécs not taking part in that attack was able to concentrate on their defence.​
4. At that point, 176 SD was ordered to make a spoiling attack on 8 Pz Div in Nagyatád: again, the odds were bad with another river assault, but it was hoped this would further hamper the attack on Szigetvár.
5. The existing attack by 2 and 3 Mot Divs on Dunaújváros was maintained at full force and 15 Inf Div kept pushing north, even while the battle for their tenuous supply lines went on behind them.​

To the south, the Turkish Air Force continued to strike Subotica throughout the day, now with the purpose of softening it up for the next attack.

OTL Event: Operation Mincemeat. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox inadvertently gave a clue that Allied forces intended to use Sicily for an invasion of Europe, potentially undermining the British disinformation campaign of Operation Mincemeat to convince German intelligence that the attack would be made from Greece and Sardinia. Ironically, Knox's comment that "Possession of Sicily by the Allies would obviously be a tremendous asset" was interpreted as an obviously clumsy attempt at deception, which Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels would describe as "baseless rumors and attempts at a smoke screen". [Comment: mistakenly tell the truth often enough and it will be interpreted as a lie!]

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12 May 43

Kanatli’s 1 Mot Div rolled into Bajmok at 2am and – unhindered by any reorganisation delays – were able to keep going straight towards Baja. Not only might the ‘Pécs Pocket’ be closed off, but it would open up an alternate supply route to the dangerously exposed forces advancing on Budapest.


As a desperate measure, with 4 US Mar Div still held up by the attack on Szigetvár, the completely unprepared new 5 Mil Div was [by an allowable game quirk] deployed straight into Kaposvár. It would take some time for them to gain any worthwhile organisation, but it was hoped they might briefly delay any attack there long enough for either the marines to arrive or an alternate supply route opened up through Baja. And even though there were two divisions defending Szigetvár and spoiling attacks on both the enemy divisions involved, those panzers had swung the battle in favour of the Axis.

With the completion of this new militia division, enough capacity was freed up to allow a new project: yet another new wing of the latest Soviet interceptors.


With the spoiling attack on Pécs floundering [just 2% progress], it was called off at 5am before too many lives were wasted (Turkish 36 v 18 Hungarian casualties).

Then at 10am, the barely prepared militiamen in Kaposvár proved their value against an even less innocuous unit: the Hungarian 2nd Army Group HQ trying to escape out of Pécs! Fortunately, the sight of the raw Turkish troops was enough to send the enemy running back without any actual fighting.

17 Inf Div reinforced Bajmok at 2pm, holding it securely along with 6 Inf Div while 1 Mot Div raced north to Baja. An hour later, 1 Mar Div made it to Szigetvár and went into reserve, balancing the ‘morale’ effect of 8 Pz Div which had still not been able to reinforce – very fortunately for the defenders, who seemed to be holding strongly enough.


The Turks continued to strike Subotica from the air, around the clock.

OTL Event: Washington D.C., US. TRIDENT, the first wartime conference between U.S. President Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Churchill, began in Washington, D.C., and continued for 16 days. Churchill and his entourage had arrived in Washington from New York the night before after being secretly transported across the North Atlantic Ocean on the RMS Queen Mary. [Comment: things aren't quite so cosy in this ATL, so TRIDENT has not happened.]
OTL Event: Tunisia. Colonel General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim and General Giovanni Messe, commanders, respectively, of the German Army and the Italian Army in North Africa, both surrendered themselves to the Allies, although Arnim refused to sign terms of unconditional surrender of German forces. Arnim and many of his troops had been cornered at the Cape Bon peninsula in Tunisia, near the town of Ste. Marie du Zit, by the 4th Indian Division of the British forces.

---xxx---

13 May 43

Midnight brought another bloody defeat for the Germans in Vrnograc, their attack repelled by an understrength division – 777 of their 4,445 men killed. The Turks lost 303 of the 25,990 defenders engaged.

1 Mot Div occupied Baja without a fight at 3am: the trap was sprung and the Pécs Pocket sealed. An hour later, while the Hungarians still fought to escape from Pécs, the German 46th Infanterie made what looked to be a forlorn attempt to break out of Beli Manastir by attacking Bajmok – but the IS-2 heavy tanks attached to 17 Inf Div and the accompanying infantry of two divisions, some entrenched behind the Danube, would surely be too much for them, especially with no help from outside the pocket.


The news was not so good in Kaposvár: the Italian 4th Mountain Division attacked the unprepared militiamen, who fled without firing a shot. It was a good thing the new supply line through Baja had just been opened, with the Italian mountaineers now expected to march on the abandoned positions.

Then the situation changed again at midday: the Hungarian breakout attack on Szigetvár from Pécs failed, with 4 US Mar Div resuming its interrupted march on Kaposvár and 1 Mar Div being ordered to follow them. The USMC division had only three brigade, so may need some assistance later, while more troops were needed to ensure the pocket remained firmly shut. 11 Inf Div would remain to hold Szigetvár.


The Hungarian 2nd Division attacked Sombor at 7pm, from Subotica [-22%], where Turkish air strikes continued. 2 Armd and 7 Inf Divs were both still quite badly disorganised from previous combat, but LTGEN Cakmak’s reinforced HQ 1st Corps remained fresh and actually led the defence.

By 9pm that night, 2 Mot Div had finally reinforced in Dunaújváros, which came just in time, with the three-brigade 3 Mot Div beginning to tire – as were the Hungarian defenders. 3 Mot was pulled out of the line to recover as Toüdemür’s 2 Mot took up the baton.


The now isolated ‘Pécs Pocket’ is highlighted in orange in the map above. At this stage, Turkish intelligence had identified a headquarters and two Hungarian infantry divisions trapped in Pécs and one German division trapped in Beli Manastir, which was still trying to break out to Bajmok.

The news remained fairly good over in Romania, where Comintern forces remained on the outskirts of Cluj, even though there were local Axis counter-attacks.


The dotted green line reflects the front line at the end of April 1943.

At 10pm, the US Marines arrived to secure Kaposvár, but were subject to a determined Italian attack before they had a chance to dig even a shell scrape, let alone proper entrenchments.


Turkish air preparation of Subotica (now also helping to disrupt the Hungarian attack on Sombor emanating from there) went on throughout the day, at a constant rate of four raids per day.

OTL Event: Tunisia. The North African Campaign came to an end after nearly three years, as the 164th Infantry Division of Germany's Afrika Korps laid down its weapons and its commander, Major General Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein became the last of the Axis officers to surrender in Africa. The commanding British Field Marshal, Sir Harold Alexander, sent word to Prime Minister Churchill, saying that "It is my duty to report that the Tunis campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased." During the week, 150,000 Germans and Italians became prisoners of war of the Allies.

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14 May 43

The next of the new ‘reinforced militia divisions’ (2 x MIL, 1 x AT, 1 x ART), the 6th, deployed at midnight. Unlike their brethren who had been desperately pitched into Kaposvár, these troops would work up in Vrnograc, under MAJGEN Diskoerekto’s overall supervision. The plan was to wait for them to organise, until 1 Armd Div could be released for offensive operations in the breakthrough. The three mountain divisions would be left in this sector to hold the line for now, but later mountainous terrain beckoned to their north-west, where their specialist skills should eventually come into their own.

No new project was commenced, as supply production had been necessarily stepped up to over 71 IC (out of a total economy of 169 IC) because of the sustained offensive, meaning work on the new INT wing in production had fallen to 50%. The manpower reserve hovered at around 63,000 men, down from 71,000 at the start of the month.

After a tough fight which had begun on 9 May with 3 Mot Div attacking and cost 637 Turkish and 687 Hungarian lives, 2 Mot Div won the battle for Dunaújváros at 7am. They secured in an hour later: while they had orders to then move onto Budapest as soon as they could, it was not clear what (if any) garrison the Axis had in place, and Toüdemür’s men would need to reorganise before they could push on.

Victory also came in the defence of Sombor, which had proven very costly for the attackers, with 711 Hungarian troops killed (not including any losses from air raids they may have suffered) for the loss of only 73 Turkish defenders.

Next came the defeat of the German breakout attempt from Beli Manastir on Bajmok, with victory declared at midday, with German casualties this time well over 10-1 (1,186 German and 94 Turkish troops killed). The bratwurst-munching Nazis should now be thoroughly weakened, exhausted and hopefully running out of supplies.

Also at midday, 15 Inf Div finally pulled into forests of Székesfehérvár. As Acting Lieutenant Metin Sadik looked through his binoculars over the Danube, the buildings and spires of Budapest greeted his eyes. As did a demolished bridge.


The Danube River flowed under the Szechenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest … until it was intentionally destroyed by German paratroopers in May 1943 to slow the advance of the Turkish Army.

15 Inf Div was ordered straight into the attack, but they came up against a German garrison of the 1st Falschirmjäger Division, entrenched, with fixed fortifications (Level 1), sitting behind the Danube in urban terrain. Gataly ordered his highly experienced troops into determined assault and did have the superior armour of his IS-2s on his side, but the initial odds [1%] did not look promising. 2 Mot Div was still some way off being able to join the attack, as they were still reorganising.


The Hungarians in Pécs were not yet done with their desperate attempts to break out. While the Italians tried to rescue them by reopening Kaposvár [attack at -56%], one of their (still fully organised and supplied) divisions launched an assault on 1 Mot Div in Baja. But this had to be executed over the Danube, against a strong division with medium tanks and partially dug in. Then Kanatli counter-attacked the assault, to negate any advantage the Hungarians might have gained [progress -14%]. The Turkish commander remained confident of holding, unless attacked from the east as well: there was no sign of that yet, with Axis forces still withdrawing to the north-east of them.

The next major action to start was a concerted Comintern attack (two divisions each of Turkish and Soviet infantry) at 6pm on Ruma, the last remaining Axis positions on the Sava River near Beograd. Even though half the attackers were crossing the river, the Hungarians were defending hills and were entrenched, they were badly outnumbered (by more than 6-1) and the attack got off to a good start.


At the same time, the spoiling attack on Nagyatád, which had started back early on the 12th and had been preventing the German 8 Pz Div from attacking the Drava bridgehead at Szigetvár, was called off after disproportionately heavy casualties had been suffered by 176 SD (810 Soviet v 114 German).

The attack on Budapest was also clearly going nowhere and was called of at the same time after only light losses had yet been sustained (33 Turkish v 13 German). The idea here was for 15 Inf Div to begin reorganising for a more concerted attack when more forces could be brought up to hit Budapest from at least one more direction – and preferably with forces on the other side of the river. Perhaps some marines eventually as well, for the river crossings.

The efforts of 1 TAG were switched from Subotica to support the attack on Ruma at 8pm.

Over to the east of the Turkish sector, at 9pm 117 SD was ordered forward to plug a gap between the Turkish right and Romanian left that had opened up at Baja de Arama. East of Beograd, Axis forces looked to have begun thinning out along the Danube, though it was still being defended. Plans began to be drawn up to take advantage of Comintern success in this sector as well.


Air Damage Report. Four days of Turkish air raids by the Turks on Subotica from 11-14 May killed a total of 765 Axis troops by the time the mission was completed that night.

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15 May 43

Turkish supply organisation received a welcome improvement that day, with better throughput being particularly important as the offensive phase of the war continued and some mechanised units pushed well forward. The research – still not up to contemporary modern standards - was continued.


A new marine brigade also deployed [left over from when I must have been contemplating a five-marine-brigade division] and was assigned to the newly deployed 19 Inf Div, part of 1st Marine Corps. It was hoped this would at least give them some advantage when conducting future river assaults, and at least brought them up to a full five brigade establishment. If a second marine division was ever raised, they could be transferred to it. The excess IC was used to bring Yak-7 production up to 100% capacity, with the rest put into supplies (73.3 IC, 43.1% of total output). This would keep the supply stockpile hovering at around 16,000.


Victory was won in Ruma at 2am, with only light casualties. 1 TAG was switched up to Beli Manastir to see if they could discourage the breakout there and soften the Germans up a bit. It was also a test to see how far south Axis fighters cover extended.

The initial bombing run showed the Germans were below strength and completely disorganised, so an attack was ordered straight away, going in at 8am – when it was confirmed the enemy were also having supply problems, as had been hoped.


But as that went in, it was discovered that Italian interceptor cover did indeed extend that far south. The old Hawk IIIs tried to protect the IL-2s and were joined by more fighters from Beograd (2 & 3 AFs). One of the CAS wings was reduced to two-thirds strength and no organisation, so the mission was cancelled, though they managed to kill a few German soldiers on the ground first.


The Germans retreated from Beli Manastir up to Pécs at midday after a short fight, and the air mission, having done its job as a ‘recon in force’, was called off.


Air Damage Report. The one Turkish raid on Ruma had caused only nine casualties, then 1 TAG caused the 32 in Beli Manastir before operations were called off.

OTL Event: Carlsbad, New Mexico. At an airbase at Carlsbad, New Mexico, Dr. Louis Fieser, the chemist who had developed napalm, conducted the first test of the experimental "bat bomb", with a timed 0.6 ounce explosive attached to a Mexican free-tailed bat. After a demonstration with dummy bombs showed that the bats would, as planned, seek shelter in buildings, Dr. Fieser attached live explosives to six dormant bats for a demonstration in front of cameras. The bats woke up before detonation, then flew towards the wooden control tower, barracks, and other buildings and set a fire that destroyed much of the base. [Comment: one can’t help but conclude that justice was done in this case. Another case of bats emerging victorious over humans.]

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16 May 43

At midnight, Agent SkitalecS3 presented Inönü with the classified SITREP on the northern front. The Germans still maintained a precarious land supply line to their beleaguered Army Group North and had made some ground up south of Leningrad, but the Soviets remained confident as they pushed troops into the salient.


With Axis defences on the far side of the Danube north of Beograd now in some disarray, two divisions were tasked to push across to the currently unoccupied Kula early that morning.


The Turkish 1 Mar Div had just arrived to aid their American comrades in Kaposvár, notionally improving the odds [to -20%], but having no combat effect unless they could reinforce [only 0.4 % chance/round].

And Italian air attacks resumed that morning, with Kaposvár being struck. 4 AG in Split (with longer range multi-role La-5s and P-51Ds) was ordered to intercept these attackers at 6am.

But the Turkish fighters were themselves intercepted over Pécs before they could engage the bombers in Kaposvár, with the La-5s of 5 AF coming off second best, though the Italian fighters also sustained damage.


Next, 2 AG was ordered to cover Kaposvár, which they did that night and then into the next morning three times – finding the Italian bombers without escorts of their own each time! The last two raids recorded no friendly ground casualties, and saw the Italians take some heavy damage before calling off their mission.


Ruma was liberated at 6pm on 16 May, meaning all land between the Sava and the Danube had been cleared of the enemy.

Just as it looked like Kaposvár should be able to hold out, at 11pm 8 Pz Div joined the attack from the south, in support of the Italians. With both the front line divisions tiring quickly (the 4th US Marines a little more quickly than the attacking Italians), the battle was already turning. If the panzers reinforced, it would likely be over, with the Turkish marines forced to retreat without having reinforced their American colleagues.


It wouldn’t go in until 6am the following morning, but planning began for a spoiling attack on Nagyatád from Szigetvár by 11 Inf and 3 Cav Divs to try to disrupt 8 Pz Div’s intervention. But when it did go in, in got off to a bad start.

Air Damage Report. The two Italian air raids on Kaposvár had killed 294 Turkish and American marines before they were beaten of by Turkish fighters. One other raid on Baja killed 163 Turks.

OTL Event: The Dam Busters. Operation Chastise was carried out by nineteen bombers of the Royal Air Force on German dams in the Ruhr valley industrial region, causing massive flooding and loss of life. The Moehne River dam and the Eder dam contained two-thirds of the water stored for the Ruhr basin. German radio reported that at least 711 people were confirmed dead, and claimed that 341 of them had been Allied prisoners of war. "That night", German Armaments Minister Albert Speer would write later, "employing just a few bombers, the British came close to a success which would have been greater than anything they had achieved hitherto with a commitment of thousands of bombers. But they made a single mistake which puzzles me to this day: They divided their forces and that same night destroyed the Eder Valley dam, although it had nothing whatsoever to do with the supply of water to the Ruhr." [1]
The original Dambusters ‘G for George’ bomber is displayed in Australia’s War Memorial in Canberra. It had a mainly Australian (RAAF) air crew for this mission, including the pilot and co-pilot.

From Wikipedia: G for George is an Avro Lancaster Mk. I bomber, squadron code AR-G and serial number W4783, operated by No. 460 Squadron RAAF during World War II. G-George flew 90 operational sorties over occupied Europe with 460 Squadron, and is the second most prolific surviving Lancaster, behind R5868 S for Sugar of No. 83 Squadron RAF/No. 463 Squadron RAAF/No. 467 Squadron RAAF (137 sorties). Most operational Lancasters were shot down before they had reached 20 sorties: of the 107,085 sorties by Lancasters despatched in bombing raids on Germany 2687 aircraft went missing G-George has the added distinction of bringing home, alive, every crewman who flew aboard it.

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17 May 43

The desperate Hungarian attack on Baja failed at 3am: their casualties were horrendous, with 1,034 of their almost 9,000 troops killed, for only 46 Turkish casualties in the defending 1 Mot Div. The survivors of the assault stumbled back to Pécs.

Kula was taken by 12 SD with no opposition at 8am, with 14 Inf Div hot on their heels. 12 SD would probe forward to see if any Axis troops were guarding Srboban.

8 Pz Div duly pulled out of the attack on Kaposvár at 8am, and the spoiler on Nagyatád was stopped as well (46 Turkish v 19 German casualties). But the attack on Kaposvár had almost succeeded, with 4 US Mar Div almost out of organisation and 1 Mar Div yet to reinforce.

156 SD had arrived in Beli Manastir by 10am and now followed up the retreating German 46th Infanterie with an attack on Pécs, hoping to close it out before they could be rescued through the Italians reaching Kaposvár. Just two hours later, the defence did indeed fail at 10am with heavy losses, the Turkish marines never having been able to reinforce.


To the east of the Danube front, near the Romanian border, it was now time for a secondary Turkish offensive. 177 SD had secured Baja de Arama at 1pm and brushed off a short probe on arrival. Orsova had been left vacant by the retreating Hungarians, so 5 and 16 Inf Divs were ordered in at 2pm.


At 4pm, 97 SD ‘Shev’ also arrived in Beli Manastir and followed to support 56 SD’s attack on Pécs. Meanwhile, for reasons never understood, the Italian mountaineers (perhaps too heavily damaged during their attack) did not follow up by advancing on Kaposvár, while 3 Cav Div was now advancing north from Szigetvár to keep the pocket closed shut at Kaposvár.

Air Damage Report. With enemy air strikes starting up on Kula, 2 AG (based in Beograd) was scrambled to provide air cover at 10pm. But there was no air engagement that night, while two Italian raids killed 319 Comintern soldiers in Kula that evening and night. As it happened, the bombings raids on Kula ceased that night, so no interception occurred.

OTL Events: European Air War. The ten surviving RAF bombers out of 19 from the "Dam Busters" returned, though only six would survive to the end of the war. And the Memphis Belle's crew became the first aircrew in the 8th Air Force to complete its 25-mission tour of duty. The aircraft and crew, first to survive their tour, returned to the United States to assist in publicity for the sale of War Bonds.
OTL Event: US Research. The United States Army contracted with the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School to develop the computer ENIAC.

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18 May 43

Things went that way until 11am on the 18th, when 97 SD Shev managed to quickly reinforce the attack on Pécs, against the two weakening (but still not out of supply) Hungarian infantry divisions. The Soviet attack on the surrounded Axis troops started to really gain momentum, but the enemy resisted throughout the day.


Further south, 12 SD secured Srboban without a fight that evening.


There was no further air action that day, or the next.


Summary of combat operations, Turkish Front, 9-18 May 1943.

---xxx---

As all that action took place at the front, things remained quiet for Cennet and Vito Corleone in Italy. But in Turkey, things on the espionage front were in a ferment. After the warning (whatever its motivations) B.J. Guildenstern had given Perse in Istanbul on May Day, she was getting increasingly concerned about lurking dangers.

Her worries were exacerbated by rumours of dangerous goings-on in Ankara. There was reputedly a mad French entrepreneur (in fact, undeclared MI6 plant ‘Romeo’, aka Calixte Charon) running somewhat amok on the ‘back streets’, apparently directed his attentions – and considerable political clout, gained through largesse splashed around police and judicial sources – against a certain British cultural attaché (in fact, the MI6 station chief, Donald MacLean – the Soviet double agent).


A pensive Perse worries about where increasingly chaotic events in Ankara may lead.

With the Americans, British and Turks being unaware of MacLean’s true loyalties (and the Soviets carefully saying nothing of them either) this pot seemed to be coming to a dangerous boil. And Perse was worried she may become scalded in the process. And was worried about what she may need to do to protect herself.

---xxx---

Coming Up: The espionage pot boils over in Turkey as ‘Romeo’ continues his personal voyage into the very dark heart of a complicated conspiracy. And some old (and some of them feared) names will be uttered and operators summoned, while others answered calls of affection or duty.

The fighting across the Patriotic Front would continue to rage, as Turkey essentially disregarded manpower erosion to keep pushing their spring offensive as hard as they could, especially aiming to destroy the Pécs Pocket. That would hopefully free up more units to feed into their ongoing offensives towards Budapest, over the Danube towards Timisoara, and the beginnings of a secondary Turkish advance along the Romanian border.
 
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While I worry about the manpower if the movement over the Danube and the secondary advance into Romanian can't be stopped it should bag Turkey a series of victories that could smash the Axis forces.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Ironically, Knox's comment that "Possession of Sicily by the Allies would obviously be a tremendous asset" was interpreted as an obviously clumsy attempt at deception, which Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels would describe as "baseless rumors and attempts at a smoke screen". [Comment: mistakenly tell the truth often enough and it will be interpreted as a lie!]
Never underestimate allied stupidity as well as enemy Intelligence.

OTL Event: Tunisia. The North African Campaign came to an end after nearly three years, as the 164th Infantry Division of Germany's Afrika Korps laid down its weapons and its commander, Major General Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein became the last of the Axis officers to surrender in Africa. The commanding British Field Marshal, Sir Harold Alexander, sent word to Prime Minister Churchill, saying that "It is my duty to report that the Tunis campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased." During the week, 150,000 Germans and Italians became prisoners of war of the Allies.
I cannot believe we are set to push the Germans out of Romania and Russia before the British stomp the completely battered and cut off Italians out of Africa. A shocking farce of a campaign for them.

[Comment: one can’t help but conclude that justice was done in this case. Another case of bats emerging victorious over humans.]
Doesn't hit quite as hard as the monsters who thought to do the same thing with dogs. Only of course dogs could carry bigger bombs and were to run under tanks and such. Naturally, they ran under that which they were trained with (aka their own sides tanks) and everything else they were familiar with (aka the commandants car...)

At midnight, Agent SkitalecS3 presented Inönü with the classified SITREP on the northern front. The Germans still maintained a precarious land supply line to their beleaguered Army Group North and had made some ground up south of Leningrad, but the Soviets remained confident as they pushed troops into the salient.
I don't know whether we'll get the majority of them but it sure looks as though a good half won't be able to escape in time unless there's a heroic second wind for the troops that already left or Hitler's sent another army to save them. In any case, the prospects seem good for our side.
 
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diskoerekto

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A skirmish in Bajmok was won at 1am as two advancing Turkish divisions brushed away a light defence. If it could be occupied, it started to threaten encirclement of Pécs and Beli Manastir to its west, while also offering another avenue to hook east towards Timisoara, keeping the Axis from firming up a new defensive line.
Things are getting more interesting by the day

Air Damage Report. Ten supporting air raids by the Turks (Yak-4s from 1 TAK) on Semska Mitrovica from the evening of 6 May until the morning of 10 May killed 608 Axis troops.
It's so nice that after all we can now sometimes turn the tables on the aerial front

2. Simultaneously, the German 68th Infanterie launched a diversionary attack on Vrnograc, though it appeared MAJGEN Diskoerekto, with the assistance of old Wehib Pasha’s 1 Armd Div, had that situation well in hand.
The motherland is safe, we'll send them away in blood. Vur Ha!

As a desperate measure, with 4 US Mar Div still held up by the attack on Szigetvár, the completely unprepared new 5 Mil Div was [by an allowable game quirk] deployed straight into Kaposvár. It would take some time for them to gain any worthwhile organisation, but it was hoped they might briefly delay any attack there long enough for either the marines to arrive or an alternate supply route opened up through Baja. And even though there were two divisions defending Szigetvár and spoiling attacks on both the enemy divisions involved, those panzers had swung the battle in favour of the Axis.
Maybe they have 0 organization, an


d not regular infantry, but the enemy doesn't know that and all they see is a full division holding the line. Let's hope they don't dare to test it :)

Midnight brought another bloody defeat for the Germans in Vrnograc, their attack repelled by an understrength division – 777 of their 4,445 men killed. The Turks lost 303 of the 25,990 defenders engaged.
Vur Ha! :D

At 10pm, the US Marines arrived to secure Kaposvár, but were subject to a determined Italian attack before they had a chance to dig even a shell scrape, let alone proper entrenchments.
They'll be able to hold, I trust them (later addition: I was wrong)

The next of the new ‘reinforced militia divisions’ (2 x MIL, 1 x AT, 1 x ART), the 6th, deployed at midnight. Unlike their brethren who had been desperately pitched into Kaposvár, these troops would work up in Vrnograc, under MAJGEN Diskoerekto’s overall supervision.
I'll toughen them up until they're not the green boys that I see now :D

Victory also came in the defence of Sombor, which had proven very costly for the attackers, with 711 Hungarian troops killed (not including any losses from air raids they may have suffered) for the loss of only 73 Turkish defenders.

Next came the defeat of the German breakout attempt from Beli Manastir on Bajmok, with victory declared at midday, with German casualties this time well over 10-1 (1,186 German and 94 Turkish troops killed). The bratwurst-munching Nazis should now be thoroughly weakened, exhausted and hopefully running out of supplies.
That's the definition of lopsided!

OTL Event: Carlsbad, New Mexico. At an airbase at Carlsbad, New Mexico, Dr. Louis Fieser, the chemist who had developed napalm, conducted the first test of the experimental "bat bomb", with a timed 0.6 ounce explosive attached to a Mexican free-tailed bat. After a demonstration with dummy bombs showed that the bats would, as planned, seek shelter in buildings, Dr. Fieser attached live explosives to six dormant bats for a demonstration in front of cameras. The bats woke up before detonation, then flew towards the wooden control tower, barracks, and other buildings and set a fire that destroyed much of the base. [Comment: one can’t help but conclude that justice was done in this case. Another case of bats emerging victorious over humans.]
That's hilarious! I knew about the plans to make homing missiles by putting a live pigeon in the warhead pecking the controls to direct a missile to a building, and explosive dogs supposed to run to tanks, but this bats exacting revenge from evil scientists is golden :D

With Axis defences on the far side of the Danube north of Beograd now in some disarray, two divisions were tasked to push across to the currently unoccupied Kula early that morning.
It's all plains between us and Timisoara now, and all the axis divisions between there and Beograd have to run through hills or mountains. I'm confident we'll bag a hell lot of swine here.

With the Americans, British and Turks being unaware of MacLean’s true loyalties (and the Soviets carefully saying nothing of them either) this pot seemed to be coming to a dangerous boil. And Perse was worried she may become scalded in the process. And was worried about what she may need to do to protect herself.
I wonder how much Soviets know Romeo's zeroing in on MacLean

What an episode! We finally turned the table and going strong. I was still anxious because despite its all shortcomings, AI is actually quite good at frustratingly killing the momentum of offensives. It now seems we indisputably have the upper hand. Great job!
 
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My my, the Hungarian breakthrough remains quite stunning. At the gates of Budapest, which not so long ago seemed so far away. One can, perhaps, dream of catching a whole lof so soldiesr by linking up the Budapest thrust with Soviet/Romanian forces to the east. It is hard not to get exciting - but one has to be somewhat doubtful we have enough formations to manage it.
 
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Wraith11B

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The USN would be screaming about how they brought the Marines to the fight, and the Army would be grumping about how they have more as amphibious assaults under their belt (and more distressingly, how if the Marines are going to be in division- and corps-sized ground fights, why aren't they part of the Army?)...

EDIT: I didn't realize that there were more updates to this, so this is in response to @diskoerekto post on the previous page.

That said, there was some mention of "light casualties" which (through a typo) was listed as something like "933 Turkish versus 13 German" and I was very confused for a second.
 
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So then, I think the comintern need to start thinking of a mutual agreement between all their armies etc on what to do when attacking cities. Bomb and shell em flat or try to keep the damage minimal?

This will become extremely important for russia the further west it goes.
 

nuclearslurpee

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As advertised, some quite intense combat in this one! Good to see broad success in the sweep of it, though some of the tactical decisions here may be a tad optimistic even by R.A.W. standards...

That night, the advance guard of 3 Mot Div (which had no permanent commander) arrived in Szekszárd at 7pm, encountering the unprepared 4th Hungarian Division, which retreated on contact. Having been ordered all the way through, they kept going to Dunaújváros, where they struck the 16th Hungarian Division at 8pm. Their attempted shock attack was however negated by an ambush, though the Hungarians had not had time to dig in [43% progress].
Call me a cynic, but this maneuver strikes me as outpacing the offensive. Even if this tenuous thrust can be held, no way can we seriously threaten Budapest with such a thin salient. Better to hold the line we've got until we can liquidate the Hungarians we've already caught, and then push forwards. No need to rush here.

As a desperate measure, with 4 US Mar Div still held up by the attack on Szigetvár, the completely unprepared new 5 Mil Div was [by an allowable game quirk] deployed straight into Kaposvár.
Headcanon: These "militia" are irregulars formed up by that one slightly-deranged U.S. MAJ who went off behind enemy lines.

[Comment: things aren't quite so cosy in this ATL, so TRIDENT has not happened.]
That, or Comintern intelligence has a few blind spots yet.

The attack on Budapest was also clearly going nowhere and was called of at the same time after only light losses had yet been sustained 933 Turkish v 13 German). The idea here was for 15 Inf Div to begin reorganising for a more concerted attack when more forces could be brought up to hit Budapest from at least one more direction – and preferably with forces on the other side of the river. Perhaps some marines eventually as well, for the river crossings.
It really strikes me as a missed opportunity that Budapest could have been split as Buda and Pest, on each side of the river. Would make it an interesting conquest, though probably too much for the AI to handle.

OTL Event: Carlsbad, New Mexico. At an airbase at Carlsbad, New Mexico, Dr. Louis Fieser, the chemist who had developed napalm, conducted the first test of the experimental "bat bomb", with a timed 0.6 ounce explosive attached to a Mexican free-tailed bat. After a demonstration with dummy bombs showed that the bats would, as planned, seek shelter in buildings, Dr. Fieser attached live explosives to six dormant bats for a demonstration in front of cameras. The bats woke up before detonation, then flew towards the wooden control tower, barracks, and other buildings and set a fire that destroyed much of the base. [Comment: one can’t help but conclude that justice was done in this case. Another case of bats emerging victorious over humans.]
I see no reason not to make this an ATL event for mad science reasons.

The desperate Hungarian attack on Baja failed at 3am: their casualties were horrendous, with 1,034 of their almost 9,000 troops killed, for only 46 Turkish casualties in the defending 1 Mot Div. The survivors of the assault stumbled back to Pécs.
Ah, there's the famous Axis minor combat capabilities we all know and love. Hitler and Co., less so.

While I worry about the manpower if the movement over the Danube and the secondary advance into Romanian can't be stopped it should bag Turkey a series of victories that could smash the Axis forces.
Given that the manpower has been budgeted for developing additional forces to mount additional offensives, it may not need to be a terrible concern. If we can already launch quite devastating offensives with present forces, we have correspondingly less need for manpower to build additional forces, at least as quickly as originally planned.

Doesn't hit quite as hard as the monsters who thought to do the same thing with dogs. Only of course dogs could carry bigger bombs and were to run under tanks and such. Naturally, they ran under that which they were trained with (aka their own sides tanks) and everything else they were familiar with (aka the commandants car...)
The Invisible Hand Paw of justice strikes again!!
 
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The speed of Turkey's advance is impressive. I feel like some excessive risks were taken. But they did pay off handsomely. Turkey's army isn't so big that a the loss of a couple of armoured formations can just be shrugged off, maybe this should be kept in mind in the future. That said, the displayed agression is yielding results. Very soon, three more Axis Divisions will be taken into Turkish captivity. The enemy lines are even more of a mess now than they were a few weeks ago. More potential encirclements on the cards, and once more Divisions (preferably with no Armour), Budapest will surely be taken. The path to Timisoara is wide open, and the Axis forces on the Southern part of the Romanian front are likely doomed to captivity once the Budapest salient is linked up with Cluj. The best thing about that is that Roumania will help mop up the pocketed Divisions.
The Turkish Air Force did a good job once again, managing to severely limit casualties from enemy ground attacks.

The Red Army is doing alright, and is close to closing the pocket, as it was a couple of weeks ago. Their movements are significantly slower than those of the Turkish Army, but I trust they will get the job done reasonably quickly, unless the enemy manages to massively reinforce the corridor on the Baltic coast, that is.

It's been a while since the GRU has been this on edge about their operations in Turkey. Threats on Perse's life, and strange events surrounding this flamboyant French businessman. and the British cultural attaché. It's getting hard to make sense of it all, not to mention the host of US personnel that's present, of which several have to be spies who could join the dance at any moment. Of course, one wrong step could result in death, or worse, capture by one of the players involved. At the same time it's also an opportunity to study one's enemy. How does he operate in this tense environment? How close is the intelligence cooperation between different nations when push comes to shove, whether they are so-called allies, or enemies? It's all very exciting to look at, from a reasonable distance, of course.

I'm looking forward to the coming showdown of spies,

SkitalecS3
 
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Bullfilter

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I will do some customary in-depth comment feedback soon but, in the meantime, as July winds down, @Nikolai has asked us to remind our readAARs of the H1 (Q1+Q2) 2020 ACAs (AARLand Choice Awards). He has gone to the effort of reviving them ‘under new management’ after a gap since last year. For those not familiar, it gives you the chance to recognise your favourite AARs, up to four per game category.

It’s simpler than you might think to vote. I find easiest done on a PC: put your watched list in one window and your vote post in another, then just copy and paste the links to your faves under each category (Done by current game version, with old ones like HOI3 etc caught under ‘other’). You don’t need to vote for this AAR, just any that you like that has published from Jan-July this year, up to the four per category. The authAARs appreciate it, it’s a great source of potential new reading material and a good turnout will reward @Nikolai’s brave effort to revive them. :)
 
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With the next chapter now ready for publishing, here are some responses to feedback from the last one:
While I worry about the manpower if the movement over the Danube and the secondary advance into Romanian can't be stopped it should bag Turkey a series of victories that could smash the Axis forces.
If necessary, new army recruiting (in particular) will be slowed or even frozen to maintain the advance. Manpower spent now keeping the Axis stumbling backwards should save spending more later, especially if it leads to the rest of the Patriotic Front getting some momentum as well. If it comes to it, we'll start to preserve things like the British after Overlord, with worries about sustainment.

Never underestimate allied stupidity as well as enemy Intelligence.

I cannot believe we are set to push the Germans out of Romania and Russia before the British stomp the completely battered and cut off Italians out of Africa. A shocking farce of a campaign for them.

Doesn't hit quite as hard as the monsters who thought to do the same thing with dogs. Only of course dogs could carry bigger bombs and were to run under tanks and such. Naturally, they ran under that which they were trained with (aka their own sides tanks) and everything else they were familiar with (aka the commandants car...)

I don't know whether we'll get the majority of them but it sure looks as though a good half won't be able to escape in time unless there's a heroic second wind for the troops that already left or Hitler's sent another army to save them. In any case, the prospects seem good for our side.
Allied stupidity seems pretty reliable, indeed! And they just don't devote much to North Africa, in one way it's surprising they've gone as far as they have on such a small budget. Italian supply there must be really shot by now.

Any use of animal-transported bombs is both inherently silly and dastardly. With encirclements, we'll take both the big and small of course, whatever we can bag.

Things are getting more interesting by the day

It's so nice that after all we can now sometimes turn the tables on the aerial front

The motherland is safe, we'll send them away in blood. Vur Ha!

Maybe they have 0 organization, and not regular infantry, but the enemy doesn't know that and all they see is a full division holding the line. Let's hope they don't dare to test it :)

Vur Ha! :D

They'll be able to hold, I trust them (later addition: I was wrong)

I'll toughen them up until they're not the green boys that I see now :D

That's the definition of lopsided!

That's hilarious! I knew about the plans to make homing missiles by putting a live pigeon in the warhead pecking the controls to direct a missile to a building, and explosive dogs supposed to run to tanks, but this bats exacting revenge from evil scientists is golden :D

It's all plains between us and Timisoara now, and all the axis divisions between there and Beograd have to run through hills or mountains. I'm confident we'll bag a hell lot of swine here.

I wonder how much Soviets know Romeo's zeroing in on MacLean

What an episode! We finally turned the table and going strong. I was still anxious because despite its all shortcomings, AI is actually quite good at frustratingly killing the momentum of offensives. It now seems we indisputably have the upper hand. Great job!
I'm very pleased with the momentum we've been able to maintain, especially keeping the Air Force competing with judicious use (both on defensive and offensive missions). Yes, the mad scientists got what they deserved. Here's hoping we can indeed bag a few, but busting their line and forcing a general retreat back to and through Hungary will be the pay-off we're looking for now in this operation. Taking out Hungary would be a big thing - they've been a substantial opponent for us.

As to Maclean and 'Romeo', the plot gets very thick in the coming episode - but no spoiler. Thanks re the offensive: it's veering more to what we hoped for, rather than actually expected. But the Germans are proving pretty resilient all things considered, while Italy and Hungary don't have the same MP problems their masters do. Far from done, but after so long on the strategic defensive, it's nice to be making some genuine inroads at last.

My my, the Hungarian breakthrough remains quite stunning. At the gates of Budapest, which not so long ago seemed so far away. One can, perhaps, dream of catching a whole lof so soldiesr by linking up the Budapest thrust with Soviet/Romanian forces to the east. It is hard not to get exciting - but one has to be somewhat doubtful we have enough formations to manage it.
Budapest - so near but yet so far. Metin Sadik's view of the city was inspired by the German glimpses of Moscow in late 1941, before ... well, you know what! The last hurdle there is proving the steepest! The Comintern (Romanian and Soviet EF) forces in Romania are doing well: we are providing each other complementary distractions now, I think, making the shattering of their whole line a possibility. But then there's some tough defensive terrain between there and Bratwurst-muncher Central! :D I think any link-up with them will be heavily reliant on the initiative my AI allies are able to demonstrate. :oops:
The USN would be screaming about how they brought the Marines to the fight, and the Army would be grumping about how they have more as amphibious assaults under their belt (and more distressingly, how if the Marines are going to be in division- and corps-sized ground fights, why aren't they part of the Army?)...

EDIT: I didn't realize that there were more updates to this, so this is in response to @diskoerekto post on the previous page.

That said, there was some mention of "light casualties" which (through a typo) was listed as something like "933 Turkish versus 13 German" and I was very confused for a second.
Yes, since fixed re the casualties: it was a ( that turned into a 9 with a missed shift key! :oops: Soldiers will always grump - unless they're really unhappy, then watch out when they get really silent and resentful.

So then, I think the comintern need to start thinking of a mutual agreement between all their armies etc on what to do when attacking cities. Bomb and shell em flat or try to keep the damage minimal?

This will become extremely important for russia the further west it goes.
An interesting narrative concept, but one I'll be unable to affect with Uncle Joe, I'm afraid. For my own part, if it takes a pounding to break a city rather than lose 1,000s more of my precious manpower, then smash and then grab will be the grim calculus. :(
As advertised, some quite intense combat in this one! Good to see broad success in the sweep of it, though some of the tactical decisions here may be a tad optimistic even by R.A.W. standards...

Call me a cynic, but this maneuver strikes me as outpacing the offensive. Even if this tenuous thrust can be held, no way can we seriously threaten Budapest with such a thin salient. Better to hold the line we've got until we can liquidate the Hungarians we've already caught, and then push forwards. No need to rush here.

Headcanon: These "militia" are irregulars formed up by that one slightly-deranged U.S. MAJ who went off behind enemy lines.

That, or Comintern intelligence has a few blind spots yet.

It really strikes me as a missed opportunity that Budapest could have been split as Buda and Pest, on each side of the river. Would make it an interesting conquest, though probably too much for the AI to handle.

I see no reason not to make this an ATL event for mad science reasons.

Ah, there's the famous Axis minor combat capabilities we all know and love. Hitler and Co., less so.

Given that the manpower has been budgeted for developing additional forces to mount additional offensives, it may not need to be a terrible concern. If we can already launch quite devastating offensives with present forces, we have correspondingly less need for manpower to build additional forces, at least as quickly as originally planned.

The Invisible Hand Paw of justice strikes again!!
Re Budapest: it was indeed a risky ploy, and almost came off if not for those pesky German paratroopers 'doing a Bastogne' on me! At some point, I might have the German commander respond with "Nüsse" to a demand for surrender! :D Yes, the initial salient proved too narrow; but once the thin end of the wedge is in, who knows what might be possible? ;) Sir Humphrey is always rightfully afraid of them! :D You will see how things go in that sector in the next update, which covers another week of combat (and espionage shenanigans). And a Buda and a Pest would have been a nice touch, but a bit beyond them I suspect. :)

I like the militia headcanon there: and like all such things, they melt away once put under genuine pressure.

Haha, the bat bombs could have been an ATL event, but the Americans would never have let anyone else find out about the whole egregious fiasco, I suspect! You have to preserve your reputation!

Agree re manpower: as Patton famously said, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." if it works, maybe what we've got will be largely sufficient, and/or we need to shed less electronic blood later. Stitch in time, and all that.

The speed of Turkey's advance is impressive. I feel like some excessive risks were taken. But they did pay off handsomely. Turkey's army isn't so big that a the loss of a couple of armoured formations can just be shrugged off, maybe this should be kept in mind in the future. That said, the displayed agression is yielding results. Very soon, three more Axis Divisions will be taken into Turkish captivity. The enemy lines are even more of a mess now than they were a few weeks ago. More potential encirclements on the cards, and once more Divisions (preferably with no Armour), Budapest will surely be taken. The path to Timisoara is wide open, and the Axis forces on the Southern part of the Romanian front are likely doomed to captivity once the Budapest salient is linked up with Cluj. The best thing about that is that Roumania will help mop up the pocketed Divisions.
The Turkish Air Force did a good job once again, managing to severely limit casualties from enemy ground attacks.

The Red Army is doing alright, and is close to closing the pocket, as it was a couple of weeks ago. Their movements are significantly slower than those of the Turkish Army, but I trust they will get the job done reasonably quickly, unless the enemy manages to massively reinforce the corridor on the Baltic coast, that is.

It's been a while since the GRU has been this on edge about their operations in Turkey. Threats on Perse's life, and strange events surrounding this flamboyant French businessman. and the British cultural attaché. It's getting hard to make sense of it all, not to mention the host of US personnel that's present, of which several have to be spies who could join the dance at any moment. Of course, one wrong step could result in death, or worse, capture by one of the players involved. At the same time it's also an opportunity to study one's enemy. How does he operate in this tense environment? How close is the intelligence cooperation between different nations when push comes to shove, whether they are so-called allies, or enemies? It's all very exciting to look at, from a reasonable distance, of course.

I'm looking forward to the coming showdown of spies,

SkitalecS3
Yes, risks were taken, but the feel of it at the time was that they were justifiable and I always thought the more exposed troops could be rescued in case they did become surrounded (as happened earlier in the breakout phase). If we want them to suffer from excessive blood loss, we have to keep cutting. The brutal calculus of war. :( One Uncle Joe knows about only too well!

It would be nice if the Timisoara op can be followed, like a pincer within a pincer, by a grander Comintern seizure of Budapest and Cluj, certainly. Then pushing the off-balance fascists back far enough to take enough Hungarian VPs to knock them right out.

There will be a little more in the next ep on the DAGN operation, but mainly it will be summarised in the monthly reports that will follow that in Chapter 202, so I won't spoil too much there. Only to say the Germans aren't out of fight yet!

In Turkey, things will go from hair-raising to hair-on-fire! In this case though, the GRU is largely off the hook: the NKVD has the running on Turkey proper and those British double agents, including Maclean. Skitalec and his colleagues have been given the military-intel remit and look after Soviet interests in the Balkans. But more widely, at the 'corporate' level, Soviet operations in Turkey are about to get pretty 'exciting'. We'll also more of a glimpse into intra-Comintern and Comintern-British cooperation, relationships and mistrust. Modelled here on the often intense suspicion and rivalry between so-called allies during the real thing. There is a lot at stake!

All: hope to get the next chapter out in the next few hours, other things being equal. Thanks for your continuing support and commentary.
 
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Chapter 201: Fight and Flight (19 to 25 May 1943)

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Chapter 201: Fight and Flight (19 to 25 May 1943)

AuthAAR’s Note: The third instalment of the played through month follows below. Here, intel events really started to gear up, therefore so too does the narrative that explains the implications for the key players – especially in Turkey itself. But there is no let-up at the battlefront, either!

---xxx---

Recap: The Front Line - 18 May 43

By the end of 18 May, the Turkish Spring Offensive of 1943 remained in full swing. Risks had been taken to push The salient forward as hard as possible, but Budapest had proven too hard to take from the western bank of the Danube alone. Further south, the Pécs Pocket had been isolated and was being slammed shut with three Axis divisions trapped within it. Meanwhile, Srboban (north of Beograd) had been taken in a separate push towards Timisoara from the south-west. And forces were assembling for a secondary offensive across the Danube east of Beograd, along the Romanian border. It would have the tough task of pushing through the hills and mountains to approach Timisoara from the south-east.


The blue dotted line shows the front as at 2300 hr on 8 May 1943, red the line as things finished at 2300hr on 18 May 1943.

---xxx---

19 May 43

At 2am, word came that resistance in Pécs had ended. All the Hungarian units there surrendered: of the 12,200 Hungarian troops at the start of the battle, 385 had been killed and the other 11,815 surrendered. 393 Soviet troops had been killed. The 4,526 remaining troops of the retreating German 46th Infanterie also went in the bag.

With the pocket successfully eliminated, 1 Mot Div was free to advance north-east on Kiskunhalas. Units in the south began swinging around from Ruma and Semska Mitrovica to Kula, to gather for another offensive towards Timisoara, which was now coming within reach.


With enough IC available for a new project, the Navy’s long-sought new light cruiser was begun, one of the most modern warships in the world to be built under US license.


Then at 5am, 18 Inf Div secured Orsova, widening the Turkish bridgehead over the Danube. It was the planned starting point for the south-eastern pincer aimed at Timisoara, but more forces were required before a major assault could be launched over such rugged terrain. They were on the way.


With Ruma secured and Axis troop concentrations thinned in front of Beograd, MAJGEN Bözer’s 13 Inf Div was ordered around to Kula, to be prepared to reinforce the other units already heading there for the advance on Timisoara. An hour later, 3 Cav Div won the race to secure the much-contested Kaposvár. But they immediately came under heavy attack from a full-strength German division, and 1 Mar Div (which had been forced to withdraw from Kaposvár previously when they had been unable to reinforce), were ordered back down from Szekszárd to see if they could help this time round.


Then two hours later, with 17 Inf Div moving up to relieve them in Kiskunhalas, 1 Mot Div thrust north to Monor, where they found only the fleeing Hungarian Budapest Theatre HQ to oppose them. Taking Monor was designed to help outflank the Budapest defence.


There was no air action on the front that day.

OTL Event: US. Following years of experimentation to test the safety of the first antibiotic drug, the United States Army Medical Corps cleared the release of penicillin for use in all military hospitals. Two days later, the first patient to receive the drug would be an unidentified U.S. Army soldier. Although the bacteria-killing properties of the mould Penicillium chrysogenum had been discovered by Alexander Fleming 15 years earlier, production was limited until 1942, when a potent strain of the mould was discovered on a cantaloupe that had been discarded from a market in Peoria, Illinois, where research was being performed on synthesising the drug. The "Peoria strain" was found by microbiologist Dorothy I. Fennell to yield 50 times as much penicillin as previously tested strains, making mass production possible.
OTL Event: Washington D.C., US. Winston Churchill addressed a joint session of the United States Congress (as well as a national radio audience), reviewing the course of the war and reassuring his audience of Britain's dedication to its alliance with the United States. Churchill noted that "We will wage war at your side against Japan while there is breath in our bodies and while blood flows in our veins."

---xxx---

20 May 43

Unfortunately, Kanatli reported he had encountered more serious opposition in Monor when the German 20th Infanterie (Motorised) took up hasty defensive positions at 7am. They were fully organised but at half strength. Each formation out-gunned the armoured protection of the other and both were experienced combined arms outfits.


The German commander sought to delay the Turkish breakthrough and called in Italian air support to help his defence. At 9am, 2 AG (I-16s, LaGG-3s) in Beograd was ordered to intercept the enemy bombers over Kiskunhalas.

A report to Inönü at 1st Army HQ that morning from his War Ministry adviser noted that with recent expansions, officer strength had fallen below 100% (it had once sat at around 110%). Leadership effort was diverted from espionage and diplomacy to boost officer training. Reserve manpower had fallen to 60,000.


The new cruiser under construction – TCG Residiye – was at that point at 73% production rate. 75 IC was devoted to supplies, 81.44 IC to production out of total industrial output of 168 IC.

At that time, 2 Mot Div in Dunaújváros was free to join the attack on Monor from across the Danube, which it did [but its reinforcement chance was only 0.4%].

156 SD arrived in Pécs at 3pm, formally closing the pocket and releasing more units to reinforce the offensive, while securing its rear lines, creating one large northern salient stretching to Budapest. Heavy fighting continued in Monor and Kaposvár.

2 AG had been unable to intercept the bomber over Kiskunhalas that day. At 5pm they were switched to protect Kaposvár, which had now also come under aerial attack. But they were jumped by Italian fighters over Pécs on their way to Kaposvár at 7pm. They took some damage but remained airworthy and at 10pm (on their way back from the dogfight) they were switched to a regional intercept task focused on Kiskunhalas, while the Split-based 3 AG (Wildcats) would try to protect Kaposvár and the associated region.


Air Damage Report. Italian bombers had struck Kiskunhalas and Kaposvár twice each that day: both missions would continue into the next day.

Secret Reporting: Moscow, USSR. Joseph E. Davies, the former American ambassador to the Soviet Union, met secretly with Soviet Premier Stalin to deliver a letter from U.S. President Roosevelt, proposing "an informal and completely simple visit for a few days between you and me" during the summer, "either on your side or my side of the Bering Straits". The invitation was kept secret even from British Prime Minister Churchill. [Note: an actual OTL happening: I'll run with it to its end.]

---xxx---

21 May 43

Interior Minister Şükrü Kaya was working late, reading reports from his domestic secret police operations, when his personal aide knocked on his office door. He looked at the clock on the wall: midnight! There had been little action reported for quite some time, but this interruption would almost certainly announce a resumption of the recently quiet Midnight Express, he was certain.

And he was right. But not quite in the way he was expecting.

“Minister, we have an urgent report,” said the aide, with a little trepidation. “The British Cultural Attaché, a Mr Donald Maclean, has been murdered in a frenzied knife attack, not far from the British Embassy, just a few minutes ago.”


“Mr Donald Maclean has been murdered in a frenzied knife attack.”

“What!? Do we know who committed this outrage?” Kaya’s face had initially gone white when he heard the news. But the colour was now returning – very rapidly. A slightly unsteady hand reached for his small tin of apoplexy tablets, always kept within easy reach.

“Ah, from the description provided by a witness – a local, um, ‘exotic belly dancer’ who had been, er, standing on a nearby street corner taking the night air, saw an apparently crazed man running from the scene, bloody knife in hand.” The aide, rather embarrassed, paused for a moment.

“Yes, go on,” said Kaya, struggling mightily to maintain his calm. The British ‘cultural attaché’ in Ankara was clearly their resident MI6 Chief. There would surely be hell to pay and this was a considerable security embarrassment. They must quickly get to the bottom of it.

“The man ran, repeatedly shouting ‘the horror, the horror’ as he fled the scene, Minister," the aide continued. "The dancer apparently recognised this man from the local party scene. Our suspect is a Mr Calixte Charon, a French mining entrepreneur who has been circulating in Istanbul and Ankara for some time. We are looking into his background now – he is apparently well-connected with our local business, political and security establishment.”

“Oh, really? Well we must begin to interrogate these reported contacts. Nothing too, ah, stringent yet. Anything more from our witness?”

"Yes, Minister. She believes she heard Charon scream the following, in English, as he began his frenzied attack: “Die, treasonous scum! Die! A plague on both your houses!”


“Die, treasonous scum! Die! A plague on both your houses!”

“Do we have any idea about the meaning of that?”

“None yet, Minister.”

Just then, the phone rang. It was the Soviet Ambassador.

“Yes, Comrade Ambassador, how may I help you?” said a surprised Kaya.

“We have just been told a British diplomat, a Mr Donald Maclean, was murdered in Ankara a short time ago.”

“Ah, yes, I have only just been advised myself.” How the hell had the Soviets found out so quickly? he wondered to himself.

“I see. We need to talk, Minister Kaya. And not over an open line. With your leave, I will head over this very minute.”

“Ah, of course Your Excellency, I look forward to it.” The line went dead straight away. Kaya had told a small lie: he was definitely not looking forward to this meeting. Nothing good ever happens between midnight and dawn, he thought to himself.

The Soviet diplomat was soon being ushered into Kaya’s office. He explained how Maclean had been a prized Soviet double-agent operating deep under cover, against the British.

“I’m sorry we were unable to say anything about him to you before now, but it was a very closely held secret. Not even our GRU people knew of him – just his NKVD handler. Together, we must get to the bottom of this outrage!”

After absorbing all this, and dismissing his irritation at being kept in the dark until now, Kaya agreed.

“That explains his cryptic last words,” he noted, relating the witness’s statement to his Soviet colleague. “It seems someone had managed to penetrate his cover. I have just the man in mind to head up the investigation and to track down this ‘Calixte Charon’”

Calling his aide back into the office, he said simply “Call the Olive Grove. Tell Luca that I have a stone in my shoe and would appreciate him reporting here as soon as he can.”


“Tell Luca that I have a stone in my shoe.”

--xxx---

Back at the front, 1 Mar Div’s attempted relief of Kaposvár had run into a problem: fuel supplies had been completely drained just as they had been getting close and none were coming in yet. Their pace of advance had been reduced to that of a snail.


And the Axis did not appear willing to let the Turks simply march on Timisoara unimpeded: at 4am the German 25th Infanterie attacked 12 SD in the Srboban salient, who were currently the only formation holding it, with reinforcement still some way off.

Between 6 and 8 am, a shifting dogfight took place between Italian and Turkish fighters over Szekszárd. Planes on both sides were soon taking significant damage, the Turkish cause aided when 3 AG briefly joined the fight in passing through at 7am. When the battle ended, 2 AG were pulled out for rest and repairs.


The attack on Srboban intensified at 9am when two more enemy divisions joined it (though they had not yet reinforced) from Novi Sad and Subotica. With the Soviet defenders suddenly in trouble, this prompted a strong Comintern spoiling attack to be launched immediately on Novi Sad from Kula and Semska Mitrovica, going in at 10am.


Recent losses and enemy fighter strength led to a reorganisation of Turkey’s fighters into two group of three wings each, both a mix of aircraft types. 2 AG (LaGG-3s, La-5s and P-51Ds) was based out of Beograd and 3 AG (Wildcats and P-51Ds) from Split, each with a regional interception mission assigned in the northern salient. The remaining INT, CAS and TAC wings remained under varying degrees of repair.


At 1pm 6 Inf Div arrived in Baja and was ordered to advance on Szeged straight away to keep the Axis distracted from reinforcing the battle south of Budapest. They encountered two damaged enemy divisions which had been heading north and now mounted a hasty defence.


The enemy had kept up their air raids on Kiskunhalas and Kaposvár and it was above the former that 3 AG next clashed with three German fighter wings at 2pm and then again that night. The Turks did some damage but came of the exchanges second best, and at midnight their mission was called off, without having been able to engage the enemy bombers.


Further south, the spoiling attack on Novi Sad had proved strong enough to force the Germans into retreat (63 Comintern v 153 German casualties). But the Axis attack on Srboban continued.

That afternoon, a supply report was provided for the Budapest salient, where 1 Mar Div still had no fuel in Szekszárd, while fuel was also low in Baja. Supplies and fuel distribution were ample to the north at the ‘tip of the spear’, however.


At 8pm, the still somewhat disorganised [around 66%] 7 Inf Div made it into Bajmok and began a hasty spoiling attack on Subotica to its east, in another attempt to relieve pressure on 12 SD in Srboban.

Air Damage Report. Two days of Italian air raids on Kaposvár finished with 373 Turkish troops killed, while the attacks Kiskunhalas went on. A single enemy raid on Dunaújváros killed just 69 friendly troops, while a new enemy mission on Baja also commenced.

OTL Event: Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo Radio announced the April 18 death of the commander of Japan's Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who had been killed when his plane was shot down over the Solomon Islands by an American fighter plane. The announcer, whose voice broke, said that Yamamoto "engaged in combat with the enemy and met a gallant death on a warplane", giving the first reports of the military leader's death, which had not been announced in the United States. President Roosevelt, who had ordered Operation Vengeance, was asked by reporters for a comment, and his sarcastic official statement was "Gosh!".
---xxx---

22 May 43

At 5am 2 AG intercepted Italian fighters and bombers over Kaposvár, but were then engaged by the still-damaged German fighter group that had fought 3 AG the day before. Despite this, the Turks managed to get at the enemy bombers, causing some damage and forcing them to abort their attack, with no ground casualties reported and raids on Kaposvár ending after that, a second dogfight only encountering German fighters. Who were reinforced by three more German fighter wings! This was a bit to much for the Turks, who were forced to end their interception mission that afternoon.


An hour later, 6 Inf Div’s attack on Szeged found success as they moved to expand the salient to the east (105 Turkish v 286 Axis casualties), while at 7am 17 Inf Div started a new attack on Kecskemét, hoping to gain more leverage on the approaches to Budapest.


Despite recent damage, the Turkish Air Force remained keen to help where it could in the offensive. 1 TAG was reformed with the most serviceable wings available from those under repair: one wing of IL-2s, one of Yak-4s and the full-strength old Hawk IIIs of 1 AF as ‘emergency escorts’. They were sent to strike Senta, hoping it was out of enemy INT range, to assist with the defence of Srboban. These raids would ultimately continue through to 24 May.


The spoiling attack by 7 Inf Div on Subotica turned into a useful victory (136 Turkish v 305 Axis casualties) at 5pm, though the enemy attacking Srboban from Senta (where the hated SS-Verf had joined but not reinforced yet) and now Ada persisted and had called in Italian air support by then, while the Turks struck Senta.

At 8pm, 4 Inf Div was the last of the four divisions massing in Orsova for the start of the secondary drive to Timisoara. But with the Hungarians already heading out of Mehadia to the south-east (into the jaws of the planned trap and vacating the first objective of the advance), it was decided to let them go before starting an attack.

Air Damage Report. Italian air raids on Kiskunhalas, started on 20 May, finished on the morning of 22 May, having caused 371 Turkish casualties. Two raids on Baja that morning and the night before killed another 209 Turks, with attacks begun on the beset Soviets in Srboban. A single Italian raid on Bajmok killed 95. Meanwhile, the Turkish 1 TAG had started hitting the Axis in Senta that afternoon and continued into the next day with small but frequent strikes.

OTL Event: Moscow, USSR. The Comintern was dissolved in Moscow. The Communist International, which had been founded with the goal of "formenting of world revolution", had been voted out of existence by its executive committee on May 15 and an announcement was made in Pravda. In that the Soviet Union had joined the Allies after the invasion of the USSR by Germany in 1941, the declaration was believed by Western observers to be a signal by Joseph Stalin that the Soviet Union intended to stop its policy of trying to foment revolution in the other nations until after World War II. [Comment: it seems to be going too well in this ATL to dissolve it! Events have reversed themselves.]

---xxx---

23 May 43

Perse was in her well-appointed Ankara apartment when, on the stroke of midnight, there was a sharp, urgent knock on her door. Holding a small automatic pistol in one hand and looking through the peep-hole, she saw a familiar face on the other side.

It was B.J. Guildenstern – in ‘civvies’ and trying to look inconspicuous. Perse wasn’t sure he had quite achieved a bland enough disguise, but relaxed – just a little – as she let him in, and hid the pistol from view in her dressing gown pocket.

“Oh, B.J., you unsettled me, coming at this hour,” she’d heard rumours of the Midnight Express and had good cause to be tense. “Do come in. You look like some kind of pantomime spy.”


“Oh, B.J., you unsettled me, coming at this hour.”

“Good to see you too, Perse,” he said, stepping in but not settling down. “I can’t stay long and must get back to the Embassy. Our Comintern Intelligence Exchange Talks resume first thing in the morning. I got your message when I finished this evening. Do I take it you heeded my warning from May Day?”

“I did, B.J., and I think it’s time for some judicious pruning.”

“Ah, I understand. I’m pretty sure I got here without being tailed and didn’t see anyone outside watching your home, so things must not have ‘gone south’ yet.”

“Good. Can I assume that your talks turned to the matter of one Donald Maclean and his recent demise?”

“They did. The Soviets and Turks were cagey, but I gather they were unusually upset about his death, and are furiously hunting a suspect. They mentioned Luca Brasi had been brought out of retirement again to lead their ‘investigation’. You know more?”

“Luca Brasi.” said Perse with a small shudder. “Maclean? Oh, very much so, B.J. I recognised someone at a recent party and approached him. He was going under an assumed name and persona, but I knew who it was. He was calling himself ‘Calixte Charon’, but I know him as an unofficial associate of one David Callan, the regional chief of MI6 in the Middle East.”

“Calixte Charon!? That was the name of the suspect they were hunting for the Maclean murder. But why would an MI6 agent be working off the books here, and killing one of their own? And how do you come to know about Callan?”

“I know Callan from the old days, back in England.”

“Hmm, I see.”

“Yes, I used a certain emergency phrase with him – he knew what was up straight away. After a quick discussion, I found we had a mutual adversary: Maclean. B.J., the man was to my almost certain knowledge a Soviet double-agent within MI6. Charon had the same suspicion – I was able to provide the confirmation.”

“That is very sensitive and dangerous knowledge you have, Perse,” said B.J., giving her an appraising glance. “They didn’t even tell us, their Comintern 'partners', about that.”

“It’s simple, B.J. – you may have joined the Comintern, but they don’t trust you that much. I’m not sure whether they’ve even told the Turks yet, but they remain suspicious of America’s links to the British. Anyway, this termite Maclean was, I’m sure, about to cause me a great deal of trouble. I believe he had become convinced that I was the legendary ‘Rose’, who he had been specifically sent to Ankara to find. Betraying a few MI6 agents along the way, so Charon told me.”

She paused briefly, clearly angry, and then continued. “Such an accusation, whether true or not, would likely be a death sentence to me, whatever the strength of my position here in my adopted homeland.”

“And is it? True, that is?”

“A woman must have her little mysteries, B.J., even between good friends. Let us simply say I now need to make a quick and surreptitious escape. Can you help me?”

“Yes, you must dress in rough clothes. I have a man outside, Rogers, who will take you west to Izmir. He will try to arrange your boarding of a US warship that will be in port there by the end of the month. You have 15 minutes to get ready.”

“I only need ten – everything is already packed and a cover story left at work that might last a day or two, about visiting Istanbul for work. I knew this would be necessary as soon as I had my conversation with ‘Charon’. I’m not sure if Maclean had passed on any suspicions about me to his Soviet handler or not, but I just couldn’t take the chance.”

Ten minutes later, B.J. had left and ‘Rogers’ had Perse in an old truck, heading out of town.
MI6’s longest running, highest placed and most productive agent in Turkey, after many years of careful work, was taking no risks. Her position may have been neutralised, but she hoped she might make an escape with this ‘Rogers’. As they paused for a quick roadside break later that day, the relief of finally being able to stop living a lie made her happy, even with the peril that may now be on her heels.


A Rose by any other name, indeed!
On the industrial front, the latest airbase expansion was finished and the next level commenced straight away. Production was brought to fully fund all projects, supply production reduced a little, with the supply reserve stabilised at around 16,000 units.


The attack on Monor was failing by 3am, with 2 Mot Div unable to reinforce and 1 Mot losing organisation more quickly than their opponents, even though the enemy were down to around one third of their established strength. In Srboban, 12 SD was holding strongly, but the Axis now had three divisions waiting to reinforce the attack from Senta and Ada. Yet another spoiling attack was put in, this time on Ada from Ruma across the Danube. A tough assignment, but necessary to allow time for other reinforcements to make their way to the relief of Srboban.


A strong victory was won by 17 Inf Div in Kecskemét at 8am (50 Turkish v 569 Axis casualties), but the attack on Monor was still failing and 3 Cav Div in Kaposvár approached breaking point.

By 2pm, 97 SD had arrived to reoccupy Novi Sad, but were still conducting post-attack reorganisation and were unable to join the spoiling attack on Ada. At 6pm, 7 Inf Div had retaken Subotica, but they too must wait (for five days!) before they could intervene against Senta.

That night, a review was made of the strategic on the wider Patriotic Front. The Germans seemed to be pushing the Soviets back now in the Baltics, but were conceding ground east of Lake Ladoga. The Comintern in Romania remained in a good position, however, still holding on the outskirts of Cluj and keeping the pressure up on the brittle-looking Hungarian line.

At 10pm, 3 Cav Div broke in Kaposvár and started fleeing south-east [no casualty report available, but they must have been heavy] to Pécs, from where 156 SD had been marching for some hours now. 1 Mar Div was still stalled by fuel shortages just short of Kaposvár, approaching from the north-east. An hour later, 1 Mot Div’s attack on Monor failed, with 2 Mot never having been able to reinforce: and they now had to wait for more than three more days before they could attack again.


Air Damage Report. Italian air raids continued on Srboban and Turkish strikes on Senta throughout the day, as the battle for Srboban raged on.

---xxx---

24 May 43

Before 6 Inf Div could secure Szeged, another German division slipped in at 1am and a new encounter battle ensued, though they looked under-strength and a bit worn and Gürler’s troops remained fresh. And another garrison brigade, this one in Dubrovnik, began its upgrade to motorised infantry.

Then at 2am, three Turkish divisions – the 3rd, 10th and 14th – began advancing together to the relief of Srboban, which was in some trouble again [-63% progress] from Kula.

Two divisions in Novi Sad finished their post-attack reorganisation at 10am and went straight into reinforce the spoiling attack on Ada. Inönü looked forward to the planned issue of the next operational level organisational doctrine on 1 June [to level 3, which would reduce post-attack delay by another 24 hours].

With the extra divisions on their way to Srboban, the exhausted 12 SD was withdrawn at 11am, to prevent the relief column being caught in reserve in a failing defence. The SS-Verf occupied Srboban soon after, but were immediately attacked by the three approaching divisions and withdrew after a short and one-sided fight. Losing the province briefly was a small price to pay for being able to secure it strongly and enabling a renewed push on Timisoara.


The latest short, sharp fight in Szeged, that had begun at 1am that morning, was won by 6 Inf Div midday (98 Turkish v 168 Axis casualties). And with Srboban soon to be secured, at that time 1 TAG was switched to make ground attacks on Ada, where the spoiling attack was now going to be pursued in its own right. Further east, Mehadia was now unoccupied, so 4 and 18 Inf Divs, both with ‘rookie’ commanders who had not seen any real combat in the recently quite Danube sector, were ordered forward, beginning the ‘Right Hook’ advance on Timisoara. 177 SD was ordered forward from Baja de Arama to cover their right flank.


The extra pressure on Ada was not enough: the expensive attack was called off at 3pm (265 Comintern v 72 Axis casualties). With the battle for Ada over, 1 TAG was now reinforced with additional fighter (9 AF) and bomber (2 TAK) support and sent to attack Kanjiza, to soften it up for a possible advance from Subotica.


Kecskemét was liberated by at 6pm 17 Inf Div, which had just another 27 hours of reorganising to do before they could advance again. A probe by two Axis divisions was quickly brushed off an hour later. These same two divisions now stopped in Szeged, from which they had been withdrawing and were attacked by 6 Inf Div again, who once more had them retreating by 9pm (19 Turkish v 15 Axis casualties). By 11pm, 6 Inf Div had secured Szeged – and only had another three hours of reorganisation to complete before they could launch a new attack.

Air Damage Report. Three days of intermittent Italian raids on Srboban had killed just 224 Soviet defenders, while Turkish strikes on Senta during the same period killed 472 enemy. The one attack put in on Ada before that battle was won killed another 48 Axis troops.

---xxx---

25 May 43

Perse finished her careful cross-country drive with ‘Rogers’ to Izmir early that morning, the truck pulling into a safe house in the port area at 1am. She would have to lay low until the ship arrived and the US Navy found a way to smuggle her on board without detection. By then, Srboban had been reoccupied, but four divisions either there or in the vicinity (Subotica and Novi Sad) were still conducting post-attack reorganisation (18-66 hours between them), so the next phase of the Turkish advance was somewhat delayed.

In better news, 1 Mar Div had finally been refuelled at 2am and was now making good time to Kaposvár and had made it there by 9am, winning the race for it against the German 5th Infanterie, who attacked them an hour after they pulled in, with Italian air strikes soon resuming.


As the day drew to a close, a number of second-line Comintern divisions from the south (some still recovering from previous fighting) were making their way north to hold the Budapest Salient while the mechanised divisions and the ‘heavy’ infantry divisions with IS-1 and -2 brigades prepared to renew the advance. By day’s end, only the defensive battle for Kaposvár continued in the Turkish sector, the forces advancing on Mehadia to the east without having run into any opposition yet.

Air Damage Report. Turkish ground attacks on Kanjiza were conducted throughout the day and continued, as did Italian air strikes on Kaposvár.


The red dotted line shows the front as at 2300hr on 18 May 1943, the blue line as things finished at 2300hr on 25 May 1943.

---xxx---

Post-script: Istanbul, evening of 25 May 1943

President Inönü was in Istanbul for a special intelligence briefing from Interior Minister Kaya. Prime Minister Celal Bayar sat next to him. The news was disturbing.

“Milli Şef, I have some strange and somewhat disturbing news to bring you,” Kaya began. He had already taken a pre-emptive dose of his ever-present medication. “A few days ago, the British MI6 station chief was killed in Ankara.”

The President nodded, frowning slightly, and gestured for Kaya to proceed.

“We strongly suspect his assailant to have been a French mining entrepreneur with Government connections. He has so far escaped detection, but we have a special agent leading the hunt for him.”

“And who is that, Kaya?” Bayar asked.

“Luca Brasi.”

“Ah, enough said, go on.”

“All this would be disturbing enough, but the Soviets subsequently revealed this man Donald Maclean to have been a star double agent they had been using to help uncover British spies here. And he had been hot on the heels of the legendary ‘Rose’, whether that person exists or not.”

“Are we sure of this Frenchman’s identity?” asked Inönü “Is this a disagreement between the two Allies? Or had the British in fact discovered this double agent and used this Charon character to kill him with plausible deniability?”

“We don’t yet know the answers to any of these questions, Milli Şef. We are hoping Brasi is able to uncover something from this Calixte Charon, when he catches him. The Soviets are using their resources to check his background, which extends back to the Free French Government in the Congo. But there is another matter I need to make you aware of.”

And now, Kaya was looking very uncomfortable: “I am afraid our key propaganda department officer and Air Force poster girl, Miss Persephonee Fungifips, has now, ah, gone missing. She reported she was travelling to Istanbul to do some editorial work, but has not been seen since. Some of her work colleagues and two foreign ministry officials have also gone, er, missing as well.”

“Missing? Since when?”

"Two days after Maclean was murdered.”

“Indeed! I trust you are throwing everything at this deepening mystery, Kaya.”

“Yes, yes, of course Milli Şef. All airports, ports and border crossing points are on alert. Miss Fungifips will have many questions to answer if we can find her.”

“We certainly will. Such as, is she the Rose?”

“Neither we nor the Soviets are sure, Milli Şef. Maclean had apparently just left the British Embassy for a meeting with his NKVD handler to reveal his latest findings when he was killed.”

“Then I’m afraid we shall have to consider Miss Perse guilty unless proven innocent in this matter. And we can certainly never trust her again, at the least. A very great pity – I was very fond of her. Oh, and Kaya...”

“Yes, Milli Şef?”

“You must hush this up, to avoid national embarrassment. Say nothing to the British other than that we are hunting the perpetrator of this heinous act of brutality, in breach of our laws and the sanctity of diplomatic personnel. And, at this stage, say nothing to the Americans, either.”

“Naturally, Milli Şef, given her past association with B.J. Guildenstern, who was in Ankara at the same time but has since returned to the US. And her association with Tom Rosencrantz, who proved to be the Thorn and escaped our clutches that time.”

Highly suspicious, Kaya.”

“Yes. And the Soviet Embassy currently resembles a kicked ants’ nest. I think they are more upset than we are. It will be a race to see who can get to them all first.”

“See that we do, Kaya.”

“Yes, Milli Şef.”


Celal Bayar (left) and Inönü at the special intelligence briefing in Istanbul, 25 May 1943.

---xxx---

Coming Up: After a week of hard fought but fruitful progress in the Turkish sector, how will the rest of the war have gone by the end of May 1943? Can the approaches to Budapest be secured? Will either or both of the pincers be able to threaten Timisoara? And will manpower concerns start to slow down the pace of the Turkish offensive, as well as limiting the raising of new army units in particular?

In the Secret war, how will the turmoil in Turkey be resolved? Can Perse escape, now that the dragnet is falling around her? Is she really ‘the Rose’, or is this yet another British distraction? Will there be a death-match between the by now apparently quite deranged Calixte ‘Romeo’ Charon and Luca Brasi? And what will Callan make of all these goings-on?

Are the Americans intent on simply rescuing Perse – or is it more of a ‘polite abduction’ engineered by Guildenstern for America’s own purposes? What does all this signify for the complicated four-way relationship between the Big Three Comintern powers and the UK? How might Stalin react when advised of all this?

The next episode will close out the month on the Turkish Front, summarise wider developments and provide the usual month-end reports. Meanwhile, the Propaganda Department, in a flap after the disappearance of Perse, resorted to plagiarising Soviet propaganda in an attempt to gloss over the disruption her loss had caused. Not to mention the heartbreak of Field Marshal Calistar and many other admirers. All of whom now sought to distance themselves as Kaya’s bloodhounds began to snoop around.


A direct translation from the Soviet original.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Time to let the spies 'escape then 'fall over the railings and drown' as a disturbing amount of enemies of the state were want to do in the 19th century.
 
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stnylan

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Definitley something fishy in the air.
 
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diskoerekto

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These last weeks the episodes are all crazy and full of action! Both on the field and about special ops. The results on the field has been a bit more mixed than last week, but still there's continuous progress. I feel like a possible offensive through Bekescsaba-Arad-Lipova-Faget or Bekescsaba-Arad-Beius-Bologa lines which is all plains can be even more important than the fall of Budapest or Timisoara by itself. That can take hundreds of thousands of Axis troops out of the equation in one fell swoop.

But the real crazy stuff was about intelligence. Calixte losing it, but also figuring out the Soviet mole, Brasi coming back from the olive groves, and a head heel turn by Perse! So much is about to happen! Thanks for the great episode.

The new cruiser under construction – TCG Residiye
I'm not really sure they'd name it Reşidiye or Reşadiye, that would be too Ottoman of a naming convention (a flagship importance capital getting into service and taking its name from the reigning sultan, for example if this was during the reign of Mehmet V Reşad, it could be named Reşadiye). After the 70s some ships were named after former Ottoman sultans but that's almost always from the expansion era of Ottomans, and not until it's been 50 years since the Republic was declared. Does the leadership regard this ship as a top of the line ship because it's most modern or as a screen? Depending on that I can suggest names.

“Tell Luca that I have a stone in my shoe.”
:eek:

MI6’s longest running, highest placed and most productive agent in Turkey
:eek: :eek: :eek:

An hour later, 1 Mot Div’s attack on Monor failed
This is weird to me, even without reinforcement they should've won from what I remember from the initial status

Perse finished her careful cross-country drive with ‘Rogers’ to Izmir early that morning, the truck pulling into a safe house in the port area at 1am. She would have to lay low until the ship arrived and the US Navy found a way to smuggle her on board without detection.
Why oh why our allies are helping the English spy? :/
 
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Wraith11B

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Good to see that we're procuring a 6" gun cruiser from the Americans! Hopefully we can find room in the budget for a few more!

Also, concerning our officer ratios, could that be why we're suffering a bit? Because we don't have a fair bit of officers going around?
 
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nuclearslurpee

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By the end of 18 October, the Turkish Spring Offensive of 1943 remained in full swing.
Spoilers, man, spoilers! :p

“Minister, we have an urgent report,” said the aide, with a little trepidation. “The British Cultural Attaché, a Mr Donald Maclean, has been murdered in a frenzied knife attack, not far from the British Embassy, just a few minutes ago.”
The plot thickens...

“The man ran, repeatedly shouting ‘the horror, the horror’ as he fled the scene, Minister," the aide continued. "The dancer apparently recognised this man from the local party scene. Our suspect is a Mr Calixte Charon, a French mining entrepreneur who has been circulating in Istanbul and Ankara for some time. We are looking into his background now – he is apparently well-connected with our local business, political and security establishment.”
...considerably. Now the wheels are really coming off in the dark Turkish underworld.

OTL Event: Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo Radio announced the April 18 death of the commander of Japan's Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who had been killed when his plane was shot down over the Solomon Islands by an American fighter plane. The announcer, whose voice broke, said that Yamamoto "engaged in combat with the enemy and met a gallant death on a warplane", giving the first reports of the military leader's death, which had not been announced in the United States. President Roosevelt, who had ordered Operation Vengeance, was asked by reporters for a comment, and his sarcastic official statement was "Gosh!".
Another tidbit that may as well have been an ATL event. Not like Turkey will ever see Yamamoto in-game to ruin the suspension of disbelief anyways! :D

At 8pm, 4 Inf Div was the last of the four divisions massing in Orsova for the start of the secondary drive to Timisoara. But with the Hungarians already heading out of Mehadia to the south-east (into the jaws of the planned trap and vacating the first objective of the advance), it was decided to let them go before starting an attack.
I continue to believe that this splitting of attention between two offensive targets is more than Turkish capabilities can realistically bear at this point. Although at least the broad front between Budapest and Timisoara is leading to a highly-effective rolling-up of the Hungarian flank!

As pictured. If we can reach Timisoara, I see little to no reason why we won't shortly after be able to pocket the entire mountain range quite frankly, assuming the Romanians can keep up the good fight on the right flank!

Also, concerning our officer ratios, could that be why we're suffering a bit? Because we don't have a fair bit of officers going around?
This is likely a significant contribution, although I'll admit that even I'm vague on just which factors the officer ratio influences and how. I do know ORG is directly influenced, for sure, I believe combat movement and delay are as well. Reinforcement rates may be influenced indirectly (due to low ORG) or directly, not sure.
 
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racebear75

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Again some great success. Novi Sad is yours again and Pecs finally, too. And with Budapest still in sight und even Timisoara seems to be reachable soon! At least the FM thinks so. But he seems a bit afraid, too, just because a DGPS agent had heared rumours about the return of a very special Turkish agent back to service. An agent who made the FM a very convinceable offer some years ago...
 
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  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • For the Motherland
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
But he seems a bit afraid, too, just because a DGPS agent had heared rumours about the return of a very special Turkish agent back to service. An agent who made the FM a very convinceable offer some years ago...
Nice old lore pickup :D He should be safe, Luca is only being employed for ‘domestic cleaning’ purposes this time.;)