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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(85800)

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exactly. the soft underbelly of the beast. and you forget that the weather is better down there.

did i really spell route as root? shame on me. i had just got up so i think its forgiveable.
 

The Swert

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Indeed. Greece appeared to be the least defended of mainland Europe. Whilst the weather is nicer there is a lot of mountainous provinces in the area which slow down any assault. Also, there is a lot of small nations which can be liberated as you go to help booster your numbers. Another advantage, as you will see later, is that it's possible to met up with the Russians and form a united front. It's not a bad strategy I don't think...not that I've tried any other :)

Norway is another option but it's further away mainly, more in the British zone. But as was said, there's little to gain.

Who's this Ivan you speak of BritishImperial?
 

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The Swert said:
Who's this Ivan you speak of BritishImperial?

If I may: It's a universally accepted western nickname for the Soviets/Russians since the dawn of time. :)
 

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Indeed you may, thank you :)
 

Nathan Madien

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The Swert said:
Indeed. Greece appeared to be the least defended of mainland Europe. Whilst the weather is nicer there is a lot of mountainous provinces in the area which slow down any assault. Also, there is a lot of small nations which can be liberated as you go to help booster your numbers. Another advantage, as you will see later, is that it's possible to met up with the Russians and form a united front. It's not a bad strategy I don't think...not that I've tried any other :)
I think Churchill historically wanted to attack the Balkans instead of Normandy. That gives your strategy an air of "plan B".
 
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Nathan Madien said:
I think Churchill historically wanted to attack the Balkans instead of Normandy. That gives your strategy an air of "plan B".
From my point of you it would allso be much easier to attack Greece and make the crussade to Germany towards there. But I think it was for those reasons they didnt do it (Or didint hear on Churchill when conducting those perations):
-Allready 2 failed operatons (Galipoli WW1 and Italy)
-They had an aggreedment with the soviets for the future world, so they may provoke the soviets if theyd land there.
-The partisans in fromer Yugosdlavia were commies.
-The distance to reach Greece is quite big and the invasion would have less air support.
-Allready gathering resources in UK, which would be hard to relocate.
 

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--- Vote here ---​

Hey you! Yes you! This is a notice to tell you to go and vote in the AARland Choice AwAARds for Q3 2008. This quarter so far has shown a drop in votes so if you are reading this you need to head on over and vote if you haven't already. The HoI2 section is usually the most highly fought over due to its broad range of AARs. This means that your single little vote could make a real difference. It doesn't matter if you vote in every category or just one category, every little bit helps. So go forth and spread the word. Voting closes at the end of the month. And remember: Voting today helps you work rest and play. :)
 

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Ok just to let my readers know, I'll be taking a break from this AAR for a couple of weeks due to uni exams. In the meantime you can read some other aars and vote in the ACA.
 

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Exams are over and we're back in business. So where were we...


Chapter VIII: An Icey Barrier
Nov 1941 - Feb 1942​

On the 14th November 1941, whilst the winter was setting in in the Balkans Japan launched a surprise attack against the USA which resulted in Japan declaring war on the Allies and the USA and the Philippines to join the Allies. To Australia this meant that the British definitely weren’t going to come and help in the Balkans now that India was under threat. It also meant that there was now a new front potentially on our doorstep. Nonetheless the Australians were confident in Japan’s containment and decided that Japan would be too focused on her Asian ambitions to worry the Australian heartland. Besides, the whole of the AIF was over in the Balkans, the invasion would have to be aborted for a defensive guard to set up back home. No, the invasion would go on for now at least and furthermore the continuing production of infantry shall not be diverted from transport to the Balkans. In fact the only action that Prime Minister Menzies took was to send the previously docked Australian Fleet to patrol the Coral Sea. This isolated approach to the eastern front would last for over a year.

Back in the Balkans the announcement of an eastern front spurred on the Germans. On the same day they launched an attack on Pristina from multiple angles. The 2nd Military District (from now I shall call it the 2nd M.D.) under the leadership of General Bingham White (since he’s the only General I shall call him “the General” from now on) found themselves completely outnumbered. In an attempt to hold control of Pristina the General ordered counterattack be launched on Podgorica and Sofia whilst the AAF bombed Nis. The result was better than planned, not only was the battle in Pristina won but the counterattack in Podgorica had forced the Italians there to retreat. The 2nd Corps was able to march into Podgorica on the 21st of the month.

No sooner has Podgorica been taken did the Germans launch another assault on Pristina. The AIF employed the same tactics that had just worked before by counterattacking in Novi Pazar and Sofia but this time it wouldn’t work. The 1st Corps and 2nd M.D had to retreat and on December 2nd the Germans retook Pristina. However the General would not have this talk of retreat and so within just a few days another attack was launched on Pristina from four angles and this time the AIF was victorious. It was beginning to show just how crucial the province of Pristina was. On the 12th reinforcements arrived in Athens from Australia consisting of the 8th and 9th Corps including another armoured division. These troops would provide much needed relief as the Australians now consolidated control of their Pristina. As the coldness of winter set in throughout December both sides were starting to dig in more and little action except in the skies took place. With everything inland on the German side of the Front frozen the General decided to try and take advantage of the milder weather along the Adriatic coast. Two days before Christmas the AIF launched Operation Rose which saw the 2nd Corps attack the Italian stronghold of Dubrovnik. The Italian tanks were ineffective in the hills and the Australians won the battle but as the push towards the city was being made the Italians airforce arrived to spoil the party and the decision was made to abort the move on Dubrovnik as it could risk the 2nd Corps being encircled if the Germans decided to march south into Podgorica.

After Operation Rose the front fell back into hibernation. The Germans seemed too concerned with their Russian front and the Australians were stuck looking towards frozen mountains. Global affairs were more important during this time as Japan completed her conquest of China and the Soviets and British agreed to split the defeated Persia. The Australians only made one small skirmish towards Plovdiv as they waited and planned. Since the conquest of Greece, the AIF’s main goal had always been Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. The Germans and Bulgarians had forces there but the Australians were in a reasonable position to launch an assault having three avenues of attack at their disposal. The General decided that waiting for Winter to end would slow the war dramatically so he launched a bold plan to take Sofia on the 23rd of January 1942. The 5th, 7th and 9th Corps would lead Operation Omicron and march towards Sofia which would be softened up by the bombers. It was a resounding victory and Sofia was captured on the 26th. The Germans counterattacked two days later but the defences in Sofia held on whilst a counter-counterattack was launched on Nis and was able to secure Sofia’s defence.

Things were looking good for Australia now in the Balkans it was still winter but yet Podgorica and Sofia had been captured and the General could almost taste the further advances that would come once the temperature rose. However he was getting ahead of himself. It would still be a hard slog for the Australians in Europe and things hadn’t begun to heat up in the Pacific. February arrived and the snow slowly started melting.


The Balkan Front, Feb 1942


The Eastern Front, Feb 1942. The germans keep pushing towards Moscow despite the cold.


The Pacific Theatre, Feb 1942. Malaysia and the Phillipine islands fall whilst a front forms in Burma.
 

unmerged(85800)

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great, i'd almost forgotten about this aar, and now its back! you're doing well in europe, but you'd better hope the japs dont come calling on the australian coast.
 

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Interlude 2:

Time for the second addition to the Thunder from Down UndAAR soundtrack. This is a song was written soon after the Operation Typhoon and the AIF sang to frequently during their Balkan campaign. So much so that it became a kind of anthem for the AIF. Even once Germany was defeated the AIF would continue to sing it as it gave them a serve of confidence. I bring you "The A.I.F is Marching" once again sung by Peter Dawson.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=p9dCQ2u4lRQ

===="The A.I.F Is Marching"====

Verse 1:
There a fellow in the limelight who is always talking fight,
How's he'll put an end to England and her people over night,
But the lion's tail is wagging, and the "Roo" is on the hop
and they'll teach this painter fellow that this row has got to stop

Chorus:
We're marching on, marching on
From a land in the Southern Sea
There'll be no more Heiling Hitler
No more Berlin on the spree
For the A.I.F is marching
with its cry of "Liberty"
So keep your chin up Mother England
we're marching on to victory

Verse 2:
We will teach him we are ready, that this World is wide and free
That our men are brave and steady and we stand for liberty
We will paint him vivid pictures with our birdmen in the sky
'Till he roars "Mein Gott you stop it Yah" But then he'll hear this cry

Chorus:
We're marching on, marching on
From a land in the Southern Sea
There'll be no more Heiling Hitler
No more Berlin on the spree
For the A.I.F is marching
with its cry of "Liberty"
So keep your chin up Mother England
we're marching on to victory​
 

Nathan Madien

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Hey, this AAR is back. :D

Now that Sofia has fallen, will you be able take out the rest of Bulgaria at your current strength?
 

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great to see a new update.

the Aussie's should be careful about pushing too far too fast, reinforcement is slow, and there's no real rush. let the russians bleed the Wermacht white. then you can grab the spoils!!

later, caff
 

The Swert

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Ok I'm back from hoilday and should have a new update ready within a few days. Thanks for standing by.

Nathan Madien: Well let's just say the next Chapter is called "Sofia" not "Bulgaria" ;)

caffran: Did you hack my save files? Sssh, don't tell anybody what's going to happen. :p
 

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Chapter IX: Sofia
Mar 1942 - May 1942​


It now March 1942 on the Balkan Front and the Australians had spent the last month rigidly battling to maintain their new possession of Podgorica. The region had just recently been recaptured by the Germans but with the support of the AAF, the 2nd Corps fought back brilliantly defeating the several divisions that the Germans threw at them to reclaim the province. With the snowfall having ceased and the ice retreating the Australians were beginning to plan their 1942 campaign on the Germans. On the 3rd the 10th and 11th Corps arrived from the homeland to booster the AIF and hopefully relieve the 2nd Corps in Podgorica. If that could be done it was not unrealistic to see a counterattack through Nov Pazar and occupation of Belgrade by the Easter. Optimistic perhaps but certainly not unrealistic, until at least the events that would dominate the Spring were begun by the Germans just a few days later, the Battle of Sofia.

Sofia was the other new possession; the capital of Bulgaria had fallen on Australia Day. Since then the Germans had made little attempt to reclaim the city unlike Podgorica but then on March 5th their launched the plan they had been brewing over the Winter. The Australians were caught off guard; they were instead focused on what was revealed to be the dummy in Podgorica which drew away the Air Force until after the attack was started leaving Sofia open. The General was also awaiting the movement north of the new Corps before launching his own plans when the attack occurred. The first assault on Sofia was a combined effort involving the Wehrmacht, Bulgarians and the Italian Air Force. With the AAF in Podgorica, the 8th Corps guarding Sofia had no chance. The General was quick to enact his counterattacking measures and as such an assault was launched on Plovdiv to relieve the strain on the 8th Corps but it was too late. The 8th Corps was already defeated by the time Plovdiv’s armies were defeated. This provided the option of a triangular operation; the Germans take Sofia, the Aussies take Plovdiv and then from Plovdiv retake Sofia. For the next couple of days this was the plan as the Australians edged towards Plovdiv but on the 10th the mission came unstuck and the attack failed. On the same day the Germans marched into Sofia and the chance for a triangular operation was lost.

The Australians did have a secondary plan though; the fresh troops had arrived in Stip and when combined with those in Pristina and the freshly defeated from Gorna Dzhumaya they could launch a counterattack on Sofia. It was important to do so quickly before the Germans could dig in. Within hours of raising the flag over Sofia the Bulgarian occupation was once again challenged. In what would become a pattern for the mountainous province, the occupying forces found themselves overwhelmingly outnumbered and unable to hold the city. During this time it was the city that took it the worst with 90% of the city being destroyed during the battle.

On the 25th of March the Australians regained Sofia thanks to the 5th, 9th and 11th Corps. However to do they had had to defeat four sets of defenders and by the time the troops reached the centre of town they were too tired to face the counterattack immediately launched by the General Himmler. Furthermore the Germans returned in Podgorica and the Australian Air Force with its three squadrons had not the breadth to support both battles and in the end failed to help either. Both battles were lost and the Germans were able to march into Podgorica on April 2nd whilst the now daily fighting continued in and around Sofia with neither side able to establish control. The 2nd Corps once again was tasked with counterattacking Podgorica which it succeeded in doing and retook control on April 6th. Meanwhile in Sofia the prementioned group of 3 Corps arrived back in the centre of Sofia on April 5th but were immediately routed again as the Germans rolled through on April 6th.

This sort of constant battling continued in both Podgorica and Sofia for several weeks with little result other than the suffering of the minds and bodies of the ground troops on both sides. Sofia was momentarily regained on April 16th and this time a major push was made to try to keep it. The 11th, 7th, 9th and 3rd Corps, all now reduced to fragments of their former selves, were all pushed into Sofia. Diversionary attacks were launched on Nis and bombs dropped on Bulgaria but despite it all Sofia could only be held for a week. In Podgorica the story was no better. The AAF had now split into two to cover the skies over both battlefields but the 2nd Corps was just not strong enough to hold Podgorica; the majority of the men were fighting over Sofia as it was seen by both sides as the more important target. After April 6th, the Australians did not set foot in Podgorica and the last assault was halted on April 22nd. This was largely due to the Italian and German Air Forces who were now bombing Australian troops in Tirana and Stip preventing any regrouping or organisation for further assaults. It was decided that it would be a better use of resources to let Podgorica fall and focus instead on Sofia.


The Balkan Front during the Battle of Sofia.

With the concession of Podgorica, Prime Minister Menzies decided to implement an action he had been working on for some time. It had been 6 months since the last of the Greek provinces had been liberated and during that time Greek politicians had been working with the Australians to rebuild Greece. Even with the ongoing Battle of Sofia it was clear that Greece was fairly safe region now and Menzies’ hand was somewhat forced by the lack of progress further north to push forward the establishment of a puppet government in Greece. On April 23 1942 the Emperor of Australia signed off on the independence of Greece. There was good reason for this; the Australians had very little control over the Greek people and under the rules of war were not allowed to recruit from occupied lands. By being pseudo-independent states the government of Greece could recruit their own army which they could then lend to the war effort. The Balkan Front could definitely do with more divisions and the rigmarole of shipping troops from Australia ran the risk of encountering the Italian fleet. Even so, the Greek government would take time to establish new armies and assistance could not be expected for several months, hopefully after the success of the Battle of Sofia and not the defeat.

All of these politics were irrelevant to the grunts ordered to take Sofia. Over the next two and half weeks the Australian continued to bombard the Germans in Sofia who kept sending more and more troops to defend her. Ten separate battles were fought in 20 days for ten victories as the Australians edged towards the city and on May 11th the flag was raised once more over her. But Sofia was like the Bermuda Triangle; anything that entered it dies or escapes hobbling. Possession was again lost on the 15th. A couple of days later General Himmler’s Headquarters was spotted in Pleven and significantly bombed. This would prove to be turning point in the battle. Himmler escaped the attack unharmed but his HQ was forced to retreat to Belgrade. With Rommel now removed and both the Air Groups of the AAF now over Sofia a new attack was launched. In order to be able to hold Sofia it would have to be a well co-ordinated attack whereby the Corps would arrive in Sofia at the same time so that a defence could be properly established. On May 20 the big push began, little resistance was encountered on the way to Sofia, the Germans had realised it was a black hole as well. At 6am on May 23rd a vanguard of the 3rd and 7th Corps arrived in the city and was immediately met by the shells of the German counterattack. They were a little ahead of the rest of the invasion force and would have to hold out, this was the make or break moment. As planned further attacks were immediately launched on Nis and Plovdiv to divert the counterattack Germans. After ten agonising hours the other three Corps marched into Sofia to relieve the 3rd and 7th Corps. From this moment the German counterattack was doomed and their divisions fell quickly into retreat and quickly turned their attentions to quelling the diversionary attacks. The Australians quickly halted the diversionary attacks and it was done. Sofia was claimed and had been successfully defended. All they had to do now was dig in and then it would be very difficult for the Germans to retake it. They never would. General Himmler was shortly after stood down as Commander in Chief of the Balkan Front.
 

The Swert

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Well, time for an announcement. As those who have read this month's AARlander would be aware (all 125 of you) I was on this month canonized by the great man himself, canonized. It was a real honour to be interviewed and share my thoughts on AARland with the community and join the ranks of the many greats who have preceeded me in receiving this honour. Check out the interview in this month's AARlander and the many other great articles there and then check out canonized's Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World?
 

Nathan Madien

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^Congrats! :D

You made a good move in releasing Greece. Every little extra bit helps, of course.
 

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Chapter X: All Summer Long
May 1942 - Aug 1942​

It was now the end of May 1942, almost summer. The Battle of Sofia had dominated the last 3 months and all the General’s 1942 plans of advancement had been thrown out of the window as a result. Every fighting man along the Balkan Front was exhausted from the fierce battle just fought. The AIF were content in taking the foot off the pedal and allowing the men to rejuvenate however the Germans would not permit such charity. There was a new general commanding over the front for the Axis and he was eager to make his name known and feared in his enemy. His name was Field Marshal Von Witzleben and just one day after the end of the Battle of Sofia he ordered an attack, before he had even reached the front to access it properly.

So on May 24 the Germans struck in Pristina taking advantage of the fact that several divisions had left the province to defend Sofia; it was a kind of backdoor of the frontline. The Australians were not prepared for such an attack; many of the men were still celebrating the victory in Sofia and were expecting anything but the Germans to break up the party. Before the day was over the defences in Pristina were overwhelmed and the Australians were forced into retreat. Could all that effort into Sofia soon be undone by failing to maintain the frontline? General Bingham White was a worried man. He ordered the Air Force to bomb the advancing troops in Podgorica whilst the Italians bombed the Aussies in Tirana perhaps attempting to weaken them before a German assault further south. The Germans marched into Pristina on March 28th and the Australians countered immediately hoping that Pristina, despite its geographical similarities, would not become a sapping struggle like Sofia. Luckily it wouldn’t be, by the 3rd of June the 1st and 10th Corps had defeated the Germans and managed to retake the province. They were them able to hold the province against the German counterattack which then allowed the Air Force to get involved by bombing the retreating German divisions into misery.

All was well now. Sofia had been captured and the Germans had made no more attempts on her sovereignty whilst Pristina had been held, sure Podgorica had been lost and the obsolete cavalry divisions in Tirana continued to find themselves under fire from Hungarian and Italian bombers several times a week but the cavalry were well protected and the anti-air facilities in Tirana meant that more it was causing more harm than good for the Hungarians and the Italians. However after a couple of weeks had passed and General Von Witzleben had analysed the front he realised that Pristina was indeed to chink in the Australian armour and decided that another raid was warranted. The General during this time had improved defences in Pristina by adding his own 2nd M.D to the ensemble but when the Germans came they once again were able to trump the Aussies due to their multiple angle advantage. This time the Germans had better planned their operation and had timed it so all their advancing men would arrive in Pristina at the same time. This made an Australian counterattack a lot harder and instead the General decided just to wait for the right moment.

On June 25th the Australians said hello to their first allies to join them in the Balkans. Greece had trained her first division of infantry and decided to loan it to the fatherland, Australia. On a front in which the AIF had only 16 infantry, 4 armoured and 2 cavalry divisions to work with every division that Greece could offer would be a blessing. However being stationed in Athens it would still take them the best part of a month to move them to the frontline. In the meantime the Germans attacked Tirana, just as the General had feared. The cavalry moved into action and the presence of animals on the battlefield seemed to shock the Germans either that it was the General’s major counterattack from Stip but either way the attack was beaten off and then forced into retreat. The General’s patience had paid off. By July 3 Pristina was back in Australian hands and that it would stay.

From that moment on the guns virtually fell silent over the Balkans. Sure the Air Forces would continue to launch raids, the AAF focused on Podgorica in an attempt to fool the Germans into thinking an attack on the province was imminent but the General had learnt that attacking Podgorica could do nothing except leave Pristina open and a chance for the Germans to split the AIF. There was no plan to assault Podgorica, in fact there was no real plan to do anything. The front was pretty much at a stalemate as the Australians awaited more troops from home or from Greece before launching any more attacks.

All was quiet on the Eastern Front all well. The Australian Navy was yet to encounter a Japanese vessal and despite the ongoing invasions of Guam and the Philippines little had occurred that was threatening towards Australia. Nonetheless Prime Minister Menzies wanted at least to look like he was making an effort for the Americans sake. He told his navy to investigate the East Caroline Islands whilst a transport flotilla was told to wait in Port Moresby with 1 division ready to claim any unoccupied provinces that the navy found. The main island group of intrigue was Truk but the navy encountered Japanese forces occupying the islands so the operation was aborted and the navy returned to patrolling the Coral Sea.

On July 21 it was discovered that the Germans had dug in in Podgorica and the bombing was having no effect, in fact the whole front was now dug in so the Air Force had to come up with alternative targets to make themselves useful. The AAF was tasked with patrolling the Aegean and Cretan Seas to sink any Italian ships which it may encounter, particularly the large fleet of capital ships that had evaded the British Navy for two years. Some vessels were uncovered and destroyed but the main fleet was not to be seen. The bombers however were able to follow the ships back to their port and it was found that the major port for the Italian Navy was Taranto, which coincidently was within range for the Close Air Support squadrons from Tirana. On July 30th Operation Seadog was begun with would see the bombing of the fleet in Taranto harbour and those who attempt to escape into the Ionian Sea. This Operation would be one of the longest performed in the whole war and would draw away the air force from frontline duties for nine months. However it was more than warranted because the Italians would not have the sense to relocate their fleet to Naples or elsewhere on the Western Seaboard and would suffer the price of losing more than fifty combat vessels in the next nine months, virtually their entire navy including all battleships and cruisers. The destruction of the Taranto Fleet would do wonders for the security of the transport fleet bringing more troops from home although the Italians did have one last hurrah for the transport flotilla. On August 10th the main Taranto fleet escaped the bombers and made their way to the Coast of Alexandria where the transport flotilla was attempting to cross the Mediterranean with one new division. The flotilla was completely overwhelmed and was lucky to escape with only the loss of 4 transports and a destroyer. This would set back troop transports for months as the flotilla was rebuilt.


The Balkan Front at the end of Summer 1942.

By the end of August the General decided to bring back life to the Balkans. There was no way the war was going to be won with a stalemate in the Balkans. Progress had to be made even if it did cost the odd Australian life. It was time to shed some blood and sweat once more.
 
Last edited:

caffran

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Feb 25, 2006
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good couple of updates there, and congrats on being 'canonized'.

typical with the Italians, you sink 90% of their fleet, and the 10% left go and send your transports to the bottom!!

still, the Balkans are where the real action is so attack, attack!!

later, caff