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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Avindian

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Looks like you've caught the Italians with their pants down -- onto Rome!
 

HecNev

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Thanks for the comment!

So here we go again!

-----

Chapter 20

27th of February 1942

Despite several Italian advances, the Axis were holding a strong, defensive position in Campobasso and Isernia.



The fighting for those mountain-ranges already lasted for about a week and had claimed many lives on both sides.
The 27th had now been scheduled as a day of two major operations.
First was the formation of an encirclement of those positions, i.e. an advance towards Monte Cassino on its western flank and an advance to Ortona on its eastern flank. Hopefully, this would weaken the German and Italian defenders enough.

Monte Cassino was taken with small casualties, whereas Ortona was completely undefended.



The other operation, the one in which Souta took part, was the result of a daring plan made by High Command.
As reconnaissance-planes had scouted the area around the city of Genoa a few days ago, its fortifications had been completely empty.
The city offered a huge port together with strong land-facing fortifications and an airfield. In short, the perfect place for a bridgehead in the enemy’s backyard. From there, 2 Tanku Gundan, 2 Taizen-ka Gundan and the Japanese Marines and paratroopers were to seize control of the majority of the undefended north of Italy.

The tactic had already worked out perfectly in China, where amphibious landings off the enemy’s main-line might bring the decisive advantage.

So, the landing was started on the 27th.



“I got two of those bastards right behind me! I can’t shake them!”
“Yari 7, stay calm, I’m coming in on the right!” Souta answered the radio. Those German fighter-pilots were highly experienced and, what was worse, they outnumbered the Japanese planes. Just like the Italian and German ground-forces outnumbered the marines.

He saw the two FW-190’s behind his comrade clearly. They were moving fast, closing in on the other pilot. The Germans were continuously shifting their position, making it difficult for Souta to hit one of them. Obviously, they were playing with them like a hunter might with his prey.

Eventually, he would simply pull the trigger and fire a salve at them.
He missed. And then he tried to rise above them to avoid crashing into them. By now, the two Germans had either seen him or had enjoyed the hunting-game long enough. One of them fired at Yari 7 and his plane went ablaze and exploded a few seconds after.

The Germans were splitting up, so that he had one of them on either side.

Souta cursed again.
His zero was faster than the German heavy fighters, thus he hoped to escape them by maneuvering.
“To all squadrons! Return to the carriers! I repeat: Return to the carriers! The Italian navy is attacking the fleet and their battleships are already sinking our cruisers and transporters!” the captain called.

Souta cursed again. This meant leaving the marines on the beach for good.
At first, he had to escape the Germans. He turned left and rose higher into the sky. During this, he was turning towards the sea, hoping the Germans would cease to follow him when they saw him retreating.
It wasn’t that easy, though. One of the Germans turned and dove towards the beach. The other remained behind him and opened fire. Souta saw the bullets flying past his airplane and swallowed.
Yet, he had a few cards t play before the German could get him.
He continued to evade the fire my makings sudden spins and rolls while letting the German catch up with him.
What he tried to do then was something that had been tried once by a recruit during training. It had resulted in his death. But that didn’t matter at the moment. Either he died because the German shot him or he died because he lost control of his plane.

He let hit the brakes, slowing the engine like on a landing. The plane got immediately slower and started to sail through the air.
Two seconds later, the German passed him by.
Man, I’d like to see the face of this guy right now… he thought.
As soon as the German had passed by, he started to accelerate his speed again and pulled the trigger. It was a sure hit. The FW-190 exploded in a fire-ball and Souta returned to the carrier-group in the Ligurian Sea. Other Japanese planes were already attacking the Italian fleet and it was announced that land-based torpedo-bombers were already on their way t the battle from their base on Sardinia.

The landing was aborted soon after the planes had been called back. One marine division had lost three regiments, the other had lost one.
Some had drowned in the seas, sunk by German planes or Italian ships before they could even reach the shore.
And all that although Genoa was supposed to be “undefended”.

-----

25th of March 1942


This war tore at his nerves.
Whereas the conflict in China had been one that had shown fast movement paired with only local resistance, the invasion of Italy showed stalemate after stalemate.

All Axis-members had sent troops into Italy and it didn’t matter how many they killed, there would always be another bunch of enemy waiting in the next valley.
The landing in Genoa had failed tragically, so the front in Central Italy had to push against the entirety of the defenders.

High Command had therefore ordered a push towards the river Tiber and to establish a defensive line there. Then they were to switch eastwards to push towards Ancona in order to create an encirclement of the 20 Axis divisions that were stationed in and around Rome.

But this advance had many obstacles. The main-one being that the Axis had the initiative, attacking at will all along the front.



The mountaineers had won the battle three days later, but that mattered only little.



Although a series of quick advances followed the battle, the momentum gained from it was soon diminished by German counter-attacks.



Takumi felt useless.
Every day, Japanese soldiers died and he was unable to force a breakthrough.
Of course, there had been further technological improvements during the last few days, but he used the sheet of paper to write a letter on its back-page. He didn’t even look at its front-page.



The only solace in this whole damned conflict was that, while he was fighting the Axis here, they wouldn’t attack his home and his family.
And they wouldn’t even if he died and this invasion as forced back into the sea, for the Soviets had turned the tide and advanced towards Germany, as the latest reports showed.



After weeks of fighting, it had become mid-April, but their progress was all but obvious. The only thing that had been established was a defensive line south of the river Tiber. Elsewhere, the frontline was raging back and forth between the enemy forces.

Thus, the old status-reports were still current, even if they were outdated for about two weeks now.

 

HecNev

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Race to Berlin? And where be Americans?
A raace at Berlin might be interesting, but I'm afraid I don't have the forces to push into the heart of the Reich. After all, this also made me choose Italy as a target fopr my first invasion in Europe. I simply lack the troops to effectively man long frontlines.
 

Baltasar

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A raace at Berlin might be interesting, but I'm afraid I don't have the forces to push into the heart of the Reich. After all, this also made me choose Italy as a target fopr my first invasion in Europe. I simply lack the troops to effectively man long frontlines.
Where're the Allied backup forces then? They should be rushing troops into Italy, bolstering your brave advance. Not that the Japanese would have much work for the weak capitalist troops, but they'd be good enough for rear area operations and possibly even man border provinces!

This would enable you to extract your forces to strike elsewhere... like... Denmark?
 

HecNev

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Where're the Allied backup forces then? They should be rushing troops into Italy, bolstering your brave advance. Not that the Japanese would have much work for the weak capitalist troops, but they'd be good enough for rear area operations and possibly even man border provinces!

This would enable you to extract your forces to strike elsewhere... like... Denmark?
Unfortunately, the British don't even think of sending troops into Italy. Instead, they spend their time landing small units along the Channel Coast which are massacred by the German garrisons in almost no time.
Italy is something I have to deal with on my own.
 

HecNev

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Chapter 21

30th of April 1942



The government announced a radical overhaul of the fleet.
Two weeks ago, the Empire leaving the London Treaties had caused an international uproar.

Haruji, however, couldn’t explain himself why it should be such an issue. Despite the carrier protection, especially the transport fleets had taken some heavy damage caused by German submarines and the Regia Marina.

The Empire now lured for new transporters and a completely improved fleet in order to protect the transporters more efficiently. The treaties limited Japan, which considered itself to be a member of the Allies that was at least equal to the UK.
So, why shouldn’t it have the same privileges?
A new carrier was currently produced in the Imperial wharfs together with several light cruisers and new transporters. The old destroyers were to be modernized, too, as they almost completely failed in their task of protecting the transporters.

At least the war kept them working, the news that were currently coming from the front were all but raising joy.
Instead, there was a stalemate in Italy, there were no successes to report, only losses.
Yuki went every week to the town hall to view the lists of those who were killed or missed in action and to search of Souta. So far, she hadn’t found his name on the list. And both of them hoped it would remain this way.

In the first days and weeks of the invasion, there had been several news about victories and battles now, the last message about a victory to arrive at home, had been several days ago.



Now all the newspapers could show as a map of the current frontlines and, in contradiction to the Eastern front, the Italian front had barely moved. The Red Army instead was literally ploughing its way through the Wehrmacht.



-----

20th of May 1942

Takumi breathed heavily.
He tried to remember how many shots he had already fired of his current magazine. It was his last one until new supplies would arrive, but he couldn’t afford to run into the Bulgarians without a single bullet in his magazine.
Under the pressure of battle, his thoughts would often drift home, to Misaki and his daughter. He had missed only a few weeks of her life so far, but he knew he would regret having to miss those precious weeks.

The Axis proved to be worse than any parasite he could imagine. As soon as they got rid of one of them, another would show up to bite into the body of the Japanese army.

Not even three weeks ago, they had beaten back an attack on Tivoli.



And now, since about one week, they were under attack again. There wasn’t a single day on which they weren’t bombed by either Italian bombers or the Luftwaffe and, from what he could tell, the lost interceptors couldn’t be replaced as fast as they were shot down.

His morale was shrinking daily, and there were already reports about deserters in other units.
The eastern front was moving towards the heart of Germany and the British attempted yet another landing on the French coast but this didn’t ease the pressure on them.




High Command noticed the decreasing morale and counteracted by improving the training of their officers so that they were able to increase the morale of their soldiers.



Also, the supply-situation improved because the navy new grew more effective in hunting down enemy submarines, also due to new combat tactics for the night.



Takumi forced his thoughts back on the issue ahead.
He leaned against a farmhouse somewhere at the southern bank of the river Tiber, the sun was standing high in the sky, burning down on their faces. The air was dry and, in the courtyard of the farmhouse, was a squad of 6 Bulgarian soldiers. They were talking to a German squad of mountaineers.

They outnumbered them two to one.
If he hadn’t counted wrong, he had about ten rounds left and a hand grenade, and then there were still his men. The courtyard offered no cover, so the ambush would be perfect. The hostile forces might eventually try to get themselves into a nearby barn, but that was all.

He issued his orders with hand-signs and, after a few seconds, all was over.
Takumi had thrown his grenade towards the barn and then turned round the corner, throwing himself on the ground. The enemies were surprised, but eventually tried to find cover within the barn. His grenade went up, killing three of the Germans. Just as he had emptied his magazine, some of his men emerged on the other side of the farmhouse, taking the Italians under fire.
It was a short, and unglorious massacre, won by the carelessness of the enemy.

-----

2nd of June 1942



Souta’s look went over the side of his plane. For every Axis plane had shot so far, he had painted a small cross onto the side of his plane. The cross resembled the “Eiserne Kreuz”, which was a award given to great soldiers.
Right now, he had six, because he hadn’t counted the torpedo-bombers he shot on the ground in Palermo.

When he was back, he was hopefully alive. And maybe he could even add some more to the collection.

High Command had ordered an attack on Rome, the Italian capital, to boost the morale of the soldiers as well as to gain the airfield in order to stop the continuous bombing runs on the Japanese soldiers.

For this assault, all the remaining planes of the IJN Kaga as well as several land-based bombers were scheduled to support the Japanese advance.

The Axis had drawn some of the city’s garrison units out, which made this the ideal opportunity for a swift attack.

On the 6th day of the assault, the city had almost been taken and there had only been bombers to provide air-cover, which is why the Japanese air-force suffered only minor casualties.

This changed on this day.
From the north, several German divisions were approaching the city from Terni in the north.
In order to give the ground forces enough time to take the rest of the city, the planes immediately started the attack.
But the Germans brought AA-guns with them as well as a squadron of fighters.

“I repeat: Fourth squadron has been completely destroyed, there is not a single one of them left in the air! Requesting permission for immediate retreat!” the captain’s voice sounded from the speaker.
Souta didn’t really hear it. He was flying low over Rome, a German plane right behind him. He had shot two Germans before, but couldn’t kill or even lose this one.
He didn’t use the speed of his zero for full potential, as he was flying between the numerous church-towers of Rome, hoping to lose the German or letting him crash into one. He had to make a bit slower than usual because he didn’t want to crash into one of the towers himself.

At first, he couldn’t lose him, but, after a while, the German seemed to be fed up with the game and turned towards another, less lucky target.

In the mean time, the retreat-order came, and Souta did as he was told. His interest inplaying cats and mice with another German pilot was minimal.

The battle ended two days after with an Axis victory.

 

Baltasar

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6th Senshashidan... is that a pure artillery unit?
 

HecNev

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6th Senshashidan... is that a pure artillery unit?
Well spotted!
Unfortunately yes. It's one artillery regiment. the rest of the division was completely shattered during one of the numerous defensive battles. the Axis are giving me a really tough time down there. the only thing that brings relief is the fast advance of the Red Army. This demands more and more Axis unit, which is why the amount of enemies in italy is currently decreasing.
 

Rensslaer

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Italy is always a tough nut to crack, slow going. Setbacks are to be expected.

Still pretty amazing to see Japan fighting in Italy in the first place! :)

Rensslaer
 

Enewald

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How about landing behind the lines? ;)
Or just push through?
 

HecNev

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Thx for all the comments!

How about landing behind the lines? ;)
Or just push through?
I think he already tried that...

i think it was an attack on Milan? and it got beaten back by German air forces and the Regia Marina....
I tried a landing at Genoa, but was forced back.
When I scouted the area, there was only an army HQ present in the city. As I attacked, there were German interceptors, Regia Marina nearby and almost an entire corps within the city.

So i'll have to push through, because i lost lots of transports in the resulting naval battle.
 

HecNev

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Chapter 22

16th of June 1942




In Italy, every soldier was currently receiving new weapons to prepare for what would hopefully be the last huge battle of the Italian campaign.

So far, the British had occupied all Italian holdings in northern Africa, but they didn’t ship any troops into Italy to support the Japanese.

Rumors had it that the British were afraid of the Japanese and wanted them to weaken themselves in Italy. Takumi found this reasoning ridiculous.
The British had decided to try to liberate France, and they did so with a stubbornness that was only equal to the one of their Prime Minister. Landing after landing was attempted, and landing after landing was beaten back by the Wehrmacht.
But that didn’t really concern him by now.

Reports just had reached him that Japanese forces had occupied the city of Florence to the north. It actually seemed like the new plan High Command had forged might work out just well.
The battle for Rome had forced several Axis divisions to move westwards into the town, thus allowing the Japanese a breakthrough along the Adriatic coast. The idea of this breakthrough was to perform an encirclement of all the Axis forces currently fighting along the River Tiber, i.e. round about fifteen divisions.
After this, the road to northern Italy would be open for them.



During this assault, he and his men had the task of performing minor skirmish attacks against the enemy in order to keep him busy and distracted until it was too late.

-----

24th of June 1942


To the surprise of the soldiers, who had almost lost faith into victory, the plan worked.



On the 24th, Japanese forces reached Pisa, thus closing the largest encirclement ever to be performed by the Japanese Army. On the same day, the defenders recognized their desperate situation and abandoned their old lines of defense, rushing north in order to leave the encirclement before running out of supplies.




Takumi and his men crossed the river Tiber for the first and last time ever. The defenders were disorganized and had to face attacks from several directions.

Wrapping them up did only take about four days. Thousands of men surrendered to the Japanese.
Afterwards, the IJA regrouped along the northern edge of the former encirclement, preparing for the final blow to throw Italy out of the war.

Being confident in the superiority of the Japanese forces, High Command ordered an assault to the north before every division had taken its position.

Naturally, this ended in a disaster, as the Axis proved once more that they were able to quickly bring reinforcements into battle which would then turn a certain Japanese victory into a certain Axis victory.



-----

5th of July 1942

The weather had grown very hot, with almost no rain at all.
Souta wondered how the soldiers on land fared, as he was sure that there would be almost no cooling winds blowing into their faces. On the IJN Kaga, he could feel this cooling wind.

And that was basically all he could do. The carrier-group was patrolling the seas but, after the horrible losses in the first battle for Rome, the planes stationed upon it were only to be used against enemy fleets, not against land-targets. At least until replacements would arrive.

He had the possibility to stay out of the fighting, and his parents had rejoiced at hearing the news. He himself, however, felt bad about it because he considered this to be almost equal to desertion, as they were deserting the soldiers who fought and died on land.

All forces were currently pushing into Axis territory.
The Russians in the East, and the Japanese in the South.
The last assault of the invasion of Italy had begun, and High Command planned to establish a new defensive line between the Swiss border and Venice in order to keep new Axis forces from flowing into Italy while the Japanese Army was still clearing out small pockets of resistance in the North-West of Italy.



 

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Chapter 23

17th of July 1942

Despite the on-going war, Haruji’s boss had given all the workers a holiday in order to celebrate the day before.

On the 15th of july, Japanese forces had occupied the city of Venice, the last bastion of Axis defense in Italy. The army had occupied the terrain around the city and the fleet had threatened to shell the old town with its large channels. The inhabitants were informed about this via planes that dropped fliers in the town. Thus, the population rebelled against the Bulgarian units defending the town and forced them to surrender peacefully.



What followed next was the unconditional surrender of the Kingdom of Italy on the 16th of July. This was a major victory, as another one of the major nations of the Axis alliance had been defeated by Japanese forces.
Yet, this surrender had a bitter taste. Germany annexed all the other Italian territories, while British spies and agents managed to put Italia politicians in charge of what had once been the kingdom of Italy. Therefore, Italy had become an independent, democratic Republic, and the Empire of Japan was denied all possible reparations and was even forced to surrender Rhodes and Crete to the new Italian democracy.
The British grabbed all the former Italian colonies for themselves, leaving nothing for the Empire.
Officially, Churchill claimed this was a “reparation” for the loss of Iraq to Japanese control, but that was hardly believable.



Whatsoever, the Japanese army was now establishing defensive positions at the planned line between Switzerland and Venice, while other troops were liberating the area around Milan and Torino from German control.

By then, the invasion of Europe had already taken 175 days of bloodshed. Bloodshed which had evolved into a major step towards victory.

The streets of Tokyo were filled with cheering a cheering crowd, it was almost impossible to get anywhere. The British embassy gave out ale for free, though the barbarism of drinking warm beer didn’t attract many people.
The Emperor was giving an address to the public and hailed all the soldiers and reminded the families that had to mourn dead sons and husbands that those had died for a greater cause and not in vain.

Somewhere in Nagasaki, Takumi’s wife held her baby-daughter in her arms and whispered to her: “Have you heard? Your daddy has just finished a major piece of work. Soon you’ll get to know him. Are you looking forward to that? Of course you are!”

-----

18th of August 1942




The situation was familiar, and yet not.
In August, high Command had announced the third and final stage of Sosa Jupita: gaining control over the former European holdings in Europe, i.e. Greece.
For this, High Command had ordered a landing in Albania, from which forces were to proceed on to Saloniki in order to cut off the German defenders in Greece. Afterwards, marine divisions were to land in Athens in order to cut off all possible lines of supply.

What was so familiar about the situation was that Takumi once more found himself inside a landing craft at the side of McFarne.
What was unfamiliar was that the beach was well defended this time round.



So there were no small speeches or a relaxed mood. The sea was rough because of all the grenades hitting it, the men pressed themselves to the floor of the landing craft in order to avoid incoming bullets.
The air-force was flying bombing raids on the landing zone for some days now, but that didn’t really seem to have any effect.

The Albanians had German 88’s defending their coastline, so the bombers had suffered several losses, as did the landing craft now.

“Seems your luck of always landing at undefended beaches has deserted you.” McFarne broke the silence.
“It seems so.” Takumi answered.
He thought about his orders. Get out of the landing craft, use the artillery craters and roadblocks for cover and move on to the 88’s and the artillery guarding the beach. After this, set up a perimeter and give a signal for the tanks to move in.
On the next morning, move north to Tirane, the Albanian capital.

Somehow, he had the feeling he wouldn’t sleep for the next few days.

“Ten seconds! Get ready men and good luck out there!” announced the steersman.
“Alright, you heard the man! You all have your orders. Carry them out and victory will shine upon us in the evening. For the Empire!” Takumi shouted.

Then the ramp went down and they were greeted by machine gun fire.

In the evening, the bloody work was done.
Despite the heavy resistance, surprisingle few men had been wounded or lost their lives during the landing.

Three day later, Tirane was taken and Albania surrendered.



The Empire decided to annex it so that the region could be used as a starting point for further operations in south-eastern Europe.

Another day later, a leading Nazi politician had parachuted over the British Isles, trying to offer peace to the Allies.



As could be expected, the British turned the offer down without even considering it.
The Japanese public took this message in a splintered mood.
One party claimed that the fight against the Axis had to be brought to an end, and no peace treaties were to be made before Nazi Germany was defeated. The other party said the same, yet complained that the British had decided for the entirety of the Allies on their own, i.e. the British were currently not fighting against the Axis, as they had no soldiers at the front but still they were allowed to decide, and thus threatened Japanese lives while contributing next to nothing to the Allied war effort.

-----

11th of September 1942

The day brought relief to Souta.
Instead of having to sit around and wait until the Japanese factories had produced a new squadron of CAGs and shipped them to Europe, he would finally be able to do something again.




He hated to sit a around on a huge carrier, far off from all the fighting in safety while others were dying for their nation.

But now, this changed.
Yesterday, scouts reported that Tiger tanks had been spotted in Yugoslavia and that they were headed towards Albania to crush the Japanese base of operations in the area.
The Wehrmacht was surely reacting quickly, but this gave the Soviets even more momentum as they were waltzing along the road to Berlin.

The Wehrmacht had never been able to recover from the battle of Bessarabia in which the Red Army had cut off an entire army from the rest of the frontline, pushing them at the border of neutral Romania and utterly crushing them there.

Now, the German armed forces were just as overstretched as the Japanese were.
Souta and the rest of the squadron he served in had received orders to help holding the air superiority in Albania and to destroy as many Tigers as possible before they could cause too much harm.

This proved to be devastating. Being cut of from supplies, with no hope for reinforcements and being attacked on several sides, the Japanese had trapped about six German divisions in Greece and were now pushing to liberate the rest of Greece from Axis occupation.
Japanese medium and heavy bombers were attacking the starving Germans every day, crushing their morale into oblivion.

Souta didn’t take part in those bombings.
His light fighter-bombs were only aimed at enemy tanks and heavy guns in order to easy the advance of the army.
Victory in Europe seemed at hand.
 

Avindian

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Shame you didn't get any of Italy; Albania would seem to be a very poor consolation prize, but Greece could be an excellent addition to the Japanese Imperial Republic (??).