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Where the Iron Crosses Grow
OscAAR for best Completed AAR


333px-Erwin_rommel_grave.jpg






3-39.jpg

Europe March 1939 - The Axis

This game is being played with the New Order events

Spring 1939 – The world holds its breath. The German III Reich under the leadership of its Führer Adolf Hitler has won a stunning series of diplomatic victories and thoroughly humiliated the French and British Alliance.

1936 - Rhineland and Spain
In the spring of 1936 the Rhineland was remilitarized, and the French did nothing. The summer of the same year, Spain descended into civil war. Germany and Italy backed the military rebels under General Francisco Franco with arms, supplies and materials, although no direct intervention took place. Germany also sent military advisers to the Nationalists, training their officers in accordance to Wehrmacht military doctrine. France and Britain, suspicious of the revolutionary anarchist and communist influence in Spain again did nothing. Within six months the Soviet-backed Government of the Spanish Republic had been defeated and a Fascist regime under General Franco installed in Madrid.

1937 - Strategy for rearmament
Now followed a lull during which Germany did not further antagonize the western powers. No new crises erupted for the whole of 1937, a time during which the German rearmament began to pick up pace. Given the limited resources of the German industry, Minister of Armaments Hjalmar Schacht opted for a strategy of quality over quantity, with no immediate increase in the size of the Army. Germany was also tirelessly working in the diplomatic field. The Foreign Commissar of The Reich, Count Friedrich-Werner von der Schulenburg was seen on numerous visits to Rome, Madrid, Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia and all of these capitals soon maintained the closest relations with the Reich. For the time being no attempt was being made to form any formal military alliances though. Consistent efforts were also made to keep Holland and Belgium neutral, countering French attempts to include these countries in a military alliance with Great Britain.

1938 - Anshclüss and Münich. Rearmament picks up pace
All of this changed in 1938. In March of that year, Hitler, with the tacit acceptance of Mussolini, pressed Austria mercilessly to accept a union with Germany, “Anschlüss”. Austrian Nazi leader Arthur Seyss-Inquart was finally appointed Chancellor, with German troops standing on the border threatening direct invasion. Austria fell without a shot and was declared part of the German Reich. The Austrian army was incorporated wholesale into the Wehrmacht, after a brief period of rearmament and reorganisation along German lines. The western powers were appalled but again did nothing.

At this point the German rearmament program was beginning to pick up speed. A project to double the effectives of the army before the summer of 1939 was announced by Hitler in a radio speech in April. Not mentioned in this speech was the increase of the Panzer Divisions from 3 to 8, to be equipped with the state of the art medium tank PzKpfw-IV Ausf G. Neither was the unrestrained growth of the Luftwaffe mentioned. The fighter units were being equipped with Bf-109E interceptors and Bf-109E-4/B “jabos” (fighter-bombers) while the bomber units were receiving He-111 medium bombers and Ju-87B Stuka dive-bombers. The Luftwaffe was designed as a close support air force, to work in close cooperation with the army. Although Junkers had developed a serviceable heavy bomber in the Ju-90 (also known, somewhat optimistically as the “Ural Bomber”) no orders were made by the Reichsluftfartministerium (RLM). The Kriegsmarine, on the other hand received little funding, and had to content itself with the upgrading of existing ships. Even the old WW1 vintage dreadnoughts “Schlesien” and “Schlesvig-Holstein” received new radar equipment. Only two new ships were being built at reduced speed, the battle cruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gniesenau”.

During the summer, Hitler again raised the stakes, accusing Czechoslovakia of oppressing the German minority of the Sudeten, the mountain range encircling Bohemia, and demanding the incorporation of “Sudetenland” into the Greater German Reich (as the III Reich now styled itself, after the Anschlüss). This time, the French tried to counter German ambitions, trying to enlist Soviet support. Alarmed, a group of German generals begun to prepare an ousting of Hitler, to avoid Germany getting enmeshed in a suicidal war, but this plot was crushed as general von Stülpnagel was caught with incriminating documents by the Gestapo. Although von Stülpnagel bravely endured the tortures of the SS without incriminating his co-conspirators (Canaris, Halder, Klüge and others), the plot fell apart. The heroic general was shot on the eve of the Münich accord and the army had been firmly brought to heel.

In the end British suspicion against the USSR led the allies to enter into negotiations with Hitler in which the Czechs were not permitted even to take part. Concluding a shameful treaty with Hitler in Münich, the Allies decreed that Czechoslovakia must give up the Sudetenland or face war against Germany on their own. British premier Chamberlain returned to London, waving the treaty document and declaring “peace in our time”. The Czechs gave in and the month of September saw Sudetenland, with all its fortifications and easily defensible terrain annexed to the Reich. Czechoslovakia was now at the mercy of Germany.

Spring of 1939 - Fall of Czechoslovakia
The failed military plot might have given Hitler food for though, because he did not move again until the next spring, when the German rearmament program had advanced considerably. Using Slovak nationalist aspirations as a pretext, Czechoslovakia was broken up. Czech president Benes was summoned to Berlin and next to forced to sign a treaty in which Germany assumed a “protectorate” over Bohemia and Moravia. Slovakia would become a formally independent state, closely allied to Germany under nationalist leader Tiso. Hungary got a slice Slovakia too, signalling to the world that the relations between Admiral Horty and Hitler were very good indeed. Count von der Schulenburg had done a good job.

The Axis takes shape
Again the western powers failed to react, and in the wake of the fall of Czechoslovakia Germany extended its influence further, signing mutual defence pacts with Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Franco irritated Hitler by turning down a similar offer of alliance. This was a major setback for Hitler, since a German-allied Spain would have presented France with a two-front war in case of war with Germany. But it was not to be. Wehrmacht experts advised Hitler not enter into a formal alliance with Italy at the time, since Italy would not be able to hold its own against British and French forces in Africa. A treaty of military access was concluded with Italy in lieu of an alliance.

The western Allies had scarcely collected themselves from the shock of these events when Hitler forced a recalcitrant Lithuania to secede the Memel region to Germany. It was the usual story: troops massing at the borders, threats of war and invasion flying… seeing the writing on the wall after the fate of Czechoslovakia, Lithuania gave in.

This is now: March of 1939. The German rearmaments program is its final stage. Will the Western Allies remain silent? Where will the volatile Hitler strike next? Can a war in Europe be avoided?
 
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Fall of 1939

Mussolini's war on Albania
The next crisis came only a few days later, but this time it was not of Hitler’s doing. Envious of expansion of the Reich, Mussolini presented King Zog of Albania with an ultimatum on March 26th– accept status as an Italian protectorate or face the consequences. The Albanians flatly refused and Italy declared war. The western powers were loathe to oppose the Italian aggression too strongly, for fear of pushing Mussolini into Hitler’s arms, but they had finally reached a point were they would be bullied no more.

Allied Guarantees to Poland
On March 30th, Britain and France offered Poland to guarantee its independence (although a secret clause of the treaty made clear this guarantee was only valid against German aggression) and Poland accepted. In Berlin, Hitler dismissed the Allied move as pure bluster.

Albania - Italian setbacks
Three weeks passed in a state of anti-climax. Apparently Italy had never considered the possibility that their demands might be rejected, and were not ready to invade, but on April 16th, the very same day the new German battle cruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gniesenau” were completed and joined the Hochseeflotte in Wilhelmshafen, a large Italian invasion force was landed by the Reggia Marina outside of Tirana. Four Italian divisions, one of them armoured, advanced on the capital of Albania but were soon ambushed by elements of two Albanian divisions and suffered heavy casualties. The Italians began to dig in for a long siege.

Italian invasion of Albania, April 16th 1939
4-39.jpg


Naval Infantry and U-boot construction programme launched
As the build-up of the Heer was approaching completion, funds were also reallocated to a massive increase of Admiral Dönitz’s U-boot fleet, and also to another pet project of the Kriegsmarine. On April 30th Grand Admiral Raeder announced the creation of the “Deutsches Marine-Infanterie”, a Corps-sized unit of naval infantry forming part of the Kriegsmarine rather than the Heer. There was much grumbling about this in the OKH, but the potential of Marine Infantry units had been clearly demonstrated by the US Marines during decades of successful actions. Somebody outside of Heer circles also did his share of grumbling – of the three branches of the Wehrmacht, only the Luftwaffe was now without its own combat troops. Goering was determined not to leave matters in this way.

Albanian war: disaster and triumf
In early May, disaster befell the Italian troops fighting in the outskirts of Tirana. Their lines were ruptured by an Albanian surprise counterattack that shattered one division entirely. Panic ensued as the Italians retreated in disarray towards their beachhead abandoning all heavy equipment, but the Albanians pursued aggressively giving no quarter. In the end the Italian forces were pinned against the coast and annihilated. Only some scattered remnants were evacuated under cover of Italian battleship fire support. In Rome, Mussolini flew into a monumental rage and ordered a new invasion force assembled, ignoring the protests of his military advisors.

Italians land second wave, June 12th 1939
6-39.jpg


This second wave of the invasion landed on June 12th and included 8 divisions, including one of Italy’s renowned “Bersaglieri” mountain divisions, but fared little better. Despite massive numerical superiority the Italians were soon pushed back from Tirana, having suffered appalling casualties. For Mussolini the humiliation was complete, and the arrival of Wehrmacht “advisors” rushed by Hitler to help his co-dictator out only compounded his misery. During the remainder of the Albanian war, the German advisors worked tirelessly to improve the fighting quality of the Italian forces, imparting lessons on the encirclement-destruction doctrine. This, together with a third wave of reinforcements on July 7th finally allowed Mussolini’s forces to break the Albanian resistance and capture Tirana on August the 24th.

Italian forces capture Tirana, 24th August 1939
24-8-39.jpg


The Molotov-Schulenburg pact
But even in his moment of glory, Mussolini was denied the undivided attention of the world. The steadily mounting tension between Poland and Germany, as Germany demanded Danzig and land in the Polish Corridor had Europe tottering on the edge of a new world war. Britain and France reaffirmed their commitment to defend Poland. And then, on the day of the fall of Tirana to the Italians, Germany stunned the world again – The III Reich and the Soviet Union, bitter ideological enemies, had signed a treaty of Non-Aggression, called the Molotov-Schulenburg pact after the Foreign Ministers of the signing countries. Germany and the USSR promised not to aid each others enemies in a war and to maintain peaceful trade. With the stroke of a pen, Britain had lost the ability to strangle Germany through a blockade, as it had done in WW1, and the guarantees to Poland suddenly looked very shaky. What if the Soviets should join Hitler in an assault on Poland? Hitler was smug; convinced he had fatally undermined the Allied resolve to resist. Now Poland would fall like a ripe fruit in German hands…
 
Last edited:

unmerged(13590)

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very good AAR, i cant wait to see how it turns out a couple of questions thought

1. How many Divisions do you have?
2. How big is your navy?
3. How big is your air force
4. Whats your economy looking like?
 

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State of the Wehrmach, August 25th 1939

Heer

75 Infantry Divisions
5 Infantry Divisions +Artillery brigade
8 Panzer Divisions
2 Panzergrenadier Divisions
1 Motorized Infantry Division
2 Cavalry Divisions

Forming:
5 Infantry Divisions +Artillery brigade
3 Marine Infantry Divisions +Artillery brigade
2 Para Divisions

Luftwaffe
5 Squadrons of Bf-109E (Basic Interceptors)
3 Squadrons of Bf-109E-4/B (Basic Multirole fighters)
4 Squadrons of Ju-87B Stuka (Basic Dive Bomber)
7 Squadrons of He-111 (Basic Tactical Bomber)
2 Squadrons of Ar-232 (Basic Air Transport)

Kriegsmarine
2 Pre-war Dreadnaughts, upgraded
2 Scharnhorst class Battle Cruisers
3 Deutschland class Pocket Battleships, upgraded
6 Königsberg class Cruisers, upgraded
1 Basic destroyer flottilla, upgraded
17 U-boot flottillas, type VIIC (MR)
3 Troop transport flottillas

Economy
430 IC
Large imports of oil and steel for surplus coal have allowed the creation of 97-99.000 unit strategic reserves of these commodities. Industrial tech has reached improved synthetic plants.
 
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Fall of 1939

Crisis over Danzig
On August the 25th Hitler’s voice was again heard on German radio. In an enraged tone, he accused Poland of persecution of the German minorities, made uncompromising demands on Danzig and the Polish Corridor and threatened war if these demands were not satisfied within four days. Soviet reactions were conspicuous by their absence, while the Polish Government issued a statement of complete refusal of the German demands. The western allies warned that any German aggression against Poland would mean war. As Europe rushed towards another Great War, few even noticed the Italian annexation of Albania. The next morning saw the Hochseeflotte leave its moorings at Wilhelmshafen and slide to sea under a lead-grey sky. Dönitz’s U-boots also left Kiel to slip out into the Atlantic, well in advance of any hostilities. Few could still nurture any hope of a peaceful outcome.

Outbreak of hostilities
Within an hour of Hitler’s ultimatum expiring, Europe was once again at war. The first shots were fired by units of the I. Unterseebootsflotte at 1:00 AM of August 30th 1939, as they ambushed the British Cruiser HMS ‘Frobisher’ and its destroyer escorts off the coast of Bretagne. Although heavily damaged, the British ship managed to escape into the night. This could still have been labeled "an incident" but as dawn broke, bombs and artillery shells began to rain down on the Polish forces arranged along the German border. The French and British declarations of war against Germany followed within the hour. World War II had begun.

The Polish campaign

German OOB
The German Army High Command (OKH) had allocated the following forces against Poland:
Heeresgruppe NORD, under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock at Landsberg, including
- 1. Army with 6 divisions under General Salmuth in East Prussia
- 2. Army with 7 divisions under General Blaskowitz in Pomerania
-20. Army with 7 divisions under General Paulus in Pomerania
-XIII. Armeekorps with 2 Cavalry and 1 Motorized Division under Lt General
von Falkenhorst, also in Pomerania
- 4. Army with 7 divisions under direct command of von Bock in Landsberg
Heeresgruppe SUD, under Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt at Oppeln, including
- 6. Army with 7 divisions under direct command of von Rundstedt in Silesia
-16. Army with 7 divisions under General Strauss in Silesia
- I. Panzergruppe with 4 Panzer and 1 Pzgrenadier divisions under General
Heinz Guderian in Silesia.
- II. Panzergruppe with 4 Panzer and 1 Pzgrenadier divisions under General
Erich von Manstein in Silesia.
- 1. Slovakian Army with 9 divisions under General Catlos in Slovakia
- I. Slovakian Fast Corps with 2 Panzer divisions under Lt General Maler in
Slovakia.
Luftwaffe Front Commander Air Marshal Albert Kesselring, under his command
- IV Luftflotte, under Air General Hans Ulrich Rudel in Silesia, including
-ZG 26 ‘Horst Wessel’ (Bf-109E-4/B Jabos)
-StG 50, StG 51, StG 76 and StG 77 (Ju-87B Stuka dive-bombers)
-V Luftflotte, under Kesselring’s direct command in Silesia, including
-ZG 1 ‘Wespe’ and JG 26 ‘Schlageter’ (Bf-109E-4/B Jabos)
-KG 1, KG 2, KG 3, KG 4, KG 25, KG 26 and KG 30 (He-111 tactical bombers)

The machines
(NOTE: I also use MKSheppard’s tech mod)
The German Panzer Divisions were equipped with close to 300 PzKpfw-IVg medium tanks each. Armed with a 75mmL43 tank gun they packed tremendous tank killing firepower, and were quite adequate against soft targets. Their armour had been redesigned from the early prototypes to take advantage of the latest findings in the field of sloped armour and gave excellent protection. Mobility was not outstanding and the relatively thin tracks would pose a problem in muddy weather. The forecast for the first week of September was clear weather, so this should pose no great problem in the Polish campaign.

All the interceptor squadrons of the Luftwaffe had been deployed to the west in anticipation of an allied strategic air campaign, leaving only Bf-109E-4/B fighter-bombers for the Polish campaign. While there were some worries that their numbers might prove insufficient against the superior numbers of Polish fighters, they completely outclassed the Polish fighters plane for plane. Armed with 2x20mm MG FF cannons in the wing roots and 2x13mm MG 131 machine guns in engine cowling they packed a deadly punch and could reach speeds in excess of 500 kph. The heavy armament deteriorated handling characteristics somewhat when compared to the more nimble Bf-109E which carried only a single 20mm cannon firing through the propeller spinner. The wing mounted cannons reduced the roll rate of the Bf-109E-4/B “Jabo” but it was by no means sluggish.

The German plan of operations
The OKH had prepared a plan that put the “Schwerpunkt” with von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe SUD. The idea was that the Panzer groups of Guderian and Manstein would jointly smash through the Polish lines at Czestochowa and then fan north and east. Guderian was to drive north through Lodz to Torun and link up with 1.Army in East Prussia, cutting off the Polish troops in Poznan and the Corridor. Manstein was to take his Panzergruppe east through Krakow and Przemysl to Lwow, thus encircling the units in Cieszyn. The task for Heeresgruppe NORD was limited to capturing Bydgoscz at the earliest possible date, in order to split the Polish forces into two pockets around Danzig and Poznan, and then to reduce these pockets. To effect the early capture of Bydgoscz HG NORD should have had a Panzergruppe of its own, but none was available, so von Bock had to make do with von Falkenhorst’s XIII. Armeekorps, a formation that could move fast with its two cavalry divisions and lone motorized division, but lacked the punch of Panzers. It was hoped that concentrated and lavish air support could make good this deficiency.

Situation on August 30th
east-30-8-39.jpg


The Polish forces
The Abwehr estimated the Polish forces to some 20-30 divisions of infantry, with mostly obsolete equipment. Air power was surprisingly plentiful, with as many as 7-8 fighter squadrons deployed to Poznan province but of obsolete models that would be no match for the fast and heavily armed Bf-109 ‘Jabos’. The Polish forces were strongest in Poznan province and the corridor, expecting a Wehrmacht drive due west from Landsberg (or perhaps entertaining offensive plans of their own?) and Marshal Smigly-Rydz, the Polish CiC had set up his HQ in Poznan as well.
 
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The course of the Polish campaign

Air battle over Czestochowa
At 5:00 in the morning of the August 30th 1939, Stukas and Henikels of Luftflotten IV and V unleashed a torrent of fiery death and destruction over the three Polish divisions defending Czestochowa province. The Polish air force was on full alert and soon no less than 8 squadrons of PZL P.11c fighters hurled themselves against the German bombers with great panache. The veteran pilots of ZG 1’Wespe’, ZG 26 ‘Horst Wessel’ and JG 26 ‘Schlageter’ were circling above the battle, ready to counter such a move and dove like birds of prey on the hapless Polish fighters, shooting them down by the dozens. Two Polish squadrons were completely destroyed with the rest fleeing the scene.

Breakthrough!
The following morning, following a second devastating air raid, the 2400 tanks of Guderian's and Manstein's combined Panzer groups smashed into the shaken defenders and simply rolled over them like they were not even there. Within hours the Polish divisions had been completely routed, the remnants falling back on Poznan in disarray. Guderian wheeled his I Panzergruppe north and rushed towards Lodz at breakneck speed while Manstein’s II Panzergruppe turned east against the great city of Krakow, the old Polish capital. Manstein’s forces entered the city at 17:00 the same evening and Guderian took Lodz an hour later. A complete breakthrough of the Polish lines had been achieved, but all would not go so well for the Wehrmacht on the third day of the war.

Situation on Sept 2nd
east-2-9-39.jpg


Battle of the Corridor
At dawn of September 2nd, HG NORD joined the battle. Cavalry of Falkenhorst’s XIII Armeekorps reached the Polish defensive lines in the Corridor south of Danzig but were met by tough resistance and soon started to take heavy casualties. The expected air support had not materialized: Kesselring’s planes had been intercepted by strong Polish fighter units over Poland, and while they handled the Polish fighters roughly, many bombers were forced to jettison their bombs, forcing the mission to be aborted. While the Luftwaffe was franticly refuelling and rearming their planes in Silesia, Falkenhorst’s light forces continued to suffer at the hands of the Polish forces of General Kruszewski. A second air strike later in the day got through and pounded the Polish divisions mercilessly, but they refused to budge, holding the German forces until nightfall.

Link up with 1. Army
Further east, Guderian’s and Manstein’s panzers continued to rush into the void, encountering little if any resistance. Capturing an undamaged bridge Guderian crossed the Vistula north of Lodz and at midnight, elements of the II Panzergruppe established contact with forward elements of General Salmuth’s 1.Army in Torun province. The Polish Army had been cut in half.

Victory in the Corridor
At dawn of September 3rd, Blaskowitz’s 2.Army finally caught up with XIII. Armeekorps pinned in front of Bydgoscz. Reinforced with 7 fresh infantry divisions and supported by the heavy guns of the 76.Division artillery brigade, the Germans gradually ground down the brave Polish defenders but it took a long day of artillery bombardment and incessant infantry attacks to break them. At 15:00 hours the Polish front disintegrated and the East Prussian border was reached the same night. Most of the defeated divisions of General Kruszewski retreated towards what had now become the Poznan pocket, but some drifted north towards pocket in Danzig.

Battle on the Vistula
In the north, Guderian was rearranging his forces to drive on Warsaw when news reached him of a singular Polish Mechanized division having crossed the Vistula from Warsaw, its commander apparently blissfully unaware that he was driving straight into the maw of the entire I Panzergruppe! Guderian immediately ordered a counterattack by the 2. and 4. Panzer divisions which sent the poles packing with the Germans in close pursuit. Recrossing the Vistula, lead elements of the I Panzergruppe reached the outskirts of Warsaw by 21:00 hours. Manstein had reached Przemysl two hours earlier, slamming the door shut on the Cieszyn pocket.

Situation on Sept 4th
east-4-9-39.jpg


Fall of Warsaw, Poznan and Cieszyn
The meagre Polish garrison at Warsaw was totally unprepared for its ordeal, and after a night of confused and savage street fighting the capital of Poland fell to Guderian’s victorious but exhausted Panzergrenadiers at dawn of September 4th. Later that day XIII. Armeekorps assaulted the perimeter of the Poznan pocket. Although greatly outnumbering the Germans, the defending units were cut-off, decimated, disorganized and thoroughly demoralized and resistance soon collapsed. Thus Falkenhorst’s battered divisions had a revenge of sorts, as General Kruszewski and many of his troops were among the thousands of prisoners taken.
In the south, 16.Army under General Strauss and Slovenian 1.Army under General Catlos launched a concentric assault against the Cieszyn pocket which quickly overwhelmed the defenders.

End of the Polish campaign
There was little left to oppose the Wehrmacht. Manstein took Lwow on the 5th, after only symbolic resistance and swung northwest towards Sandomierz. Guderian pushed on towards Lublin, occupying the town also on September 5th and closing a pocket around 4 Polish divisions in Radom. The outcome could no longer be in any doubt, but the Polish Government was still defiant, hoping against hope that the western allies would still launch their great offensive in the west. But it was not to be. On September 6th Guderian forced the surrender of the 4 divisions of General Kutrzeba trapped in the Radom pocket. On this day the Polish forces had a rare success as reinforcements from eastern Poland recaptured Torun. But the area was of little strategic importance. Manstein took Sandomierz on the 7th and on the 8th Paulus’s 20.Army assaulted the Danzig pocket where resistance was broken so quickly that two entire transport flotillas could be captured intact in Danzig harbour.

With this, the Polish Government finally accepted the inevitable and agreed to an unconditional surrender. The Polish campaign had lasted for 9 days and a new word found its way into the vocabulary of many languages: ‘Blitzkrieg’-lightning war.
 
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Norgesvenn

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Excellent AAR! You've really captured the spirit of the times. :)

It's also very easy to read, and the use of screenies supports the action in a great way.
 

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The naval war

The effect of the Kriegsmarine commerce raiding tactics during the first days of the war was huge - from August 30th to September 8th a total of 310 French and British transport ships were sunk in the North East Atlantic and bay of Biscaye. Although losses on such a scale could hardly be sustained for any length of time, the Royal Navy and French fleet were unable to bring a halt to the raiders.

German torpedoes find another mark - early sept 1939
usna_177195.jpg
 
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By the way, those New Order events are excellent. :)
 

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Soviet Union occupies eastern Poland
On September 8th, the day the Poles surrendered, it became obvious that there was more to the Molotov-Schulenburg plan than had been made public by the Foreign Ministry. Soviet troops invaded eastern Poland on a broad front and quickly advanced to a line from the East Prussian border near Suwalki, along the river Bug to Lwow province, which was also occupied by Soviet forces. German occupation troops in Lwow retreated before the Soviets arrived, making it clear that this was not a case of Soviet aggression against Germany but rather an agreed upon partition of Poland between the USSR and Germany.

This was confirmed in a radioed statement by Foreign Commissar of the Reich Count von der Schulenburg in which it was made clear that the partitioning of Poland had been agreed upon with the USSR and emphasizing that this should not be regarded by the German public as surrendering of territory to a hostile power but as part of a mutually beneficial arrangement with a government friendly to Germany.

Partition of Poland
MR-share.jpg


Schulenburg had worked very hard to reach an agreement with Moscow, and he genuinely believed in Russo-German friendship, but his assurances did not sit well with the more radical wing of the Nazi party. Hundreds of old hands left the party in disgust over the “Alliance with the Bolsheviks”, the old enemy of the SA in the street battles of the 20’s and early 30’s.

The army was also outraged, and angered that the blood of German soldiers had been shed in vain during the conquest of Lwow. General von Manstein, the conqueror of the city, was particularly bitter that the prize of his campaign was being given away. There was also widespread disappointment in officer circles over the fact that the oil fields in Lwow and Bialystok would not after all fall into German hands. The German officer corps was acutely aware of that the strategic reserve accumulated in the pre-war years would not last for ever, and that even the deliveries from Romania would not suffice in the long run.

Redeployment to the west
Three German armies – the 1st, 4th and 16th under overall command of Field Marshall von Leeb were left to guard the border with the USSR. The remainder of the troops began to redeploy to the west were the situation was soon to become more animated.
 
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The Western Front in August 30th-September 30th

All is quiet on the Western Front

The defence of the Western front was charged to Heeresgruppe WEST (the 9th, 11th and 12th armies) based in Saarbrücken and under the command of Field Marshall von Klüge. 18th Army in Hamburg, attached directly to OKH in Berlin was tasked with the defence of north-western Germany against British naval raids.

For the duration of the Polish campaign, the Allied Armies arranged along the Western front did nothing. With the continued neutrality of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg, the front extended only along the Franco-German border in Elsass/Alsace. It’s probable that the Allied countries had not even completed their mobilization before Poland surrendered, so it’s not surprising that they did not immediately launch any big offensive in support of their Polish allies. The surrender of Poland meant that any offensive actions would have to begin immediately, while the balance of forces was still favourable to the Allies. But the French trusted their impressive fortification complex, the “Maginot Line” and preferred to wait for a German onslaught behind it.

The air war
The Luftwaffe on the western front had a bad first week of war. On Sept 3rd, British bombers attacked Germany for the first time but were intercepted and defeated by Bf-109E interceptors of JG 2 and JG 3 of Luftflotte II (Air General von Richthofen). On the next day, the Allied air force had their revenge. Unescorted French bombers attacked German troop concentrations in the 9th Army sector (Saarbrücken) and were met by Luftwaffe Bf-109E from Air General Lörzer’s Luftflotte III. This was apparently a bait operation, because overwhelming numbers of French MS.406 fighters arrived on the scene, shooting down many Luftwaffe fighters. So great were the German losses that Luftflotte III had to be rebased to Erfurt for rest and refit, temporarily surrendering air superiority over the western front. At this news Hitler had one of his more spectacular fits of rage, pouring abuse over Goering and threatening to sack Lörzer without any more ado.

The naval war
In contrast to their misfortunes in the air, German naval operations during the first month of the war were dazzlingly successful. The Hochseeflotte roamed the North East Atlantic Ocean at will with its brand new battle cruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gniesenau”, the three pocket battleships “Admiral Graf Spee”, “Deutschland” and “Admiral Scheer” and 6 cruisers, spreading terror among the helpless British merchantmen while Dönitz’s wolf packs formed a lethal belt from the Spanish national waters off the Bay of Biscay to the Irish Sea.

Total allied merchant losses had soared to a stunning 1049 ships of all sizes by the end of September, and long before that it was obvious to the Royal Navy strategists that something radical would have to be done if the British War machine was not to be brought to a screeching halt. On September 15th, the old German dreadnaughts “Schleswig-Holstein” and “Schlesien” on patrol in the Gulf of Danzig were attacked by a British task force of 8 cruisers with destroyer escorts. The German ships beat a hasty retreat to the port of Danzig without suffering much damage, but had the British not been fearful of Luftwaffe interference (and there were no Luftwaffe bombers any closer than Köln) the affair could have ended in disaster. If the intention of the Royal Navy was to lure the Hochseeflotte to return to German waters, it worked. The scattered Hochseeflotte ships started to assemble for the dangerous voyage to Wilhelmshafen via the Maury Sea Channel and the North Sea. But on the 22nd, Raeder’s ships ran into a cruiser task force under Admiral Meyrick. The 7 British cruisers were badly outnumbered and outgunned by the German capital ships and managed to slip away only after sustaining heavy damage.

bisdenmarkstraitbattle_04.jpg

The "Gniesenau" fires her guns at British cruisers in the North Atlantic

The Kriegsmarine had still to fight one mayor battle before its return to German waters. The British cruisers had reported the German position and course prior to the engagement and a large French battle fleet under Admiral Colinet set an intercept course. The French ships, including several battleships among which were Colinet’s flagship “Paris” were spotted by the radar of the “Admiral Graaf Spee” at 1:00 AM on Sept the 29th. Taking advantage of the superiority of German artillery radar over French, Raeder opted for a night engagement, the first in naval history were at least one side would rely entirely on radar directed gun fire. The engagement was one-sided but inconclusive due to the poor accuracy of the fire, but the “Paris” and three other battleships sustained multiple, if not disabling, hits.

bisdenmarkstraitbattle_07.jpg

The "Gniesenau" firing another volley during the night engagement of the 29th Sept

Refusing to loose sight of the Germans, the French ships maintained radar contact throughout the night. At dawn Colinet again closed to within gun range hoping to finally capitalize on his superior fire-power. But if the accuracy of the Kriegsmarine ships was mediocre at night, in daylight it was murderous. The “Paris” sustained several hits, blowing up one the magazine of a secondary armament turret. More hits followed and soon many of the French ships were burning hulks, dead in the water. Several French destroyers were hit by massive 280mm shells and blown to pieces. The Kriegsmarine ships sustained several hits but suffered no serious damage. With many of his ships falling out of the line, Colinet reluctantly gave up the pursuit, and the Hochseeflotte victoriously resumed its course for German waters.
 
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Elias Tarfarius

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great aar, but by the way, if Hitler was killed, how can he rage on Goering.:D Imagine that, a zombie Hitler.
 

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Hitler hasn't been killed! Why did you think he had?
 

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Fall Grün – conquest of the Netherlands

The Western front is reorganized
On September 10th OKH ordered a reorganization of the German forces on the western front. Heeresgruppe WEST was renamed “B” and placed under von Rundstedt’s command. Heeresgruppe A under von Bock was to include 18. Armee and all the forces redeploying from Poland. The reason for this reorganisation was the upcoming operation “Fall Grün” (Case Green), the invasion and conquest of the Netherlands that was to be carried out by HG A. The reasons for this were two-fold: to gain bases for the Luftwaffe for operations against England and more importantly, to gain an advantageous position from which to launch the main attack on France through Belgium. It was expected that Belgium would maintain its neutrality in face of an isolated attack on the Netherlands and thus deprive the Allies of the opportunity to reinforce the Dutch, and the Dutch Army of a place to fall back as they were pushed out of their country. If the weather permitted, Fall Grün would be followed immediately by Fall Gelb, the invasion of Belgium and France.

Situation Sept. 16th
holland0.jpg


OOB and plan of operations
On the 16th of September the forces of HG A were disposed as follows: I & II Panzergruppe had redeployed to Münster and were ready for action. General Halder’s 10. Army (6 divisions) was to follow the Panzers and secure any ground they cleared, while 20. Armee (7 divisions) was deployed on the right flank along the Dutch border in Friesland. 6. Armee (7 divisions) and XIII Armeekorps (3 divisions) were in the Köln region, apparently guarding the Belgian border but in fact ready to advance into Eindhoven province as the left Flank of HG A. 2. Armee was still transferring from Poland but was expected to take part in Fall Gelb. The plan of attack was brutal in its simplicity – the two Panzer groups were to drive straight for Amsterdam through Arnhem and Utrecht and cut the country in two. 20. and 6. Armee were then to advance on the flanks and wipe out the pockets created. Luftflotten IV & V were to provide ground support while Luftflotte II would clear the skies of enemy planes. Luftflotte III was still reforming in Erfurt and was not to take part in Fall Grün.

The Dutch forces
The Dutch army was estimated to 12-15 infantry divisions and 1 tank division. Equipment was thought to be mostly obsolete. 3 fighter squadrons, equipped with Fokker interceptors had been observed in Eindhoven region.

Fall Grün – course of the campaign
Shortly before dawn on September 17th, the Panzers crossed the Dutch border west of Arnhem, with Kesselring’s bombers droning by the hundreds high above them. A thousand gun flashes chased the night away as German artillery opened up along a 40 km front, striking Dutch troop concentrations, strategic roads and assembly areas. Stukas dived screaming from the sky, their wailing sirens (known as “the trumpets of Jericho”) striking fear into the hearts of their victims. In vicious dogfights, Richthofens Bf-109s began to wrest control of the skies from the Dutch Fokkers. Dutch General Harbert tried with his five divisions to hold back the tidal wave of steel crashing into his lines, but to no avail. Both Panzer groups broke through the Dutch lines within two hours of battle and rushed west towards Amsterdam. Halder’s 10. Armee followed in their tracks, keeping the breach in the Dutch lines open and pursuing the retreating enemy. Arnhem fell to the Germans at 18:00 of the 17th.

Fall of Amsterdam
Dutch forces fought back hard during the next two days, and the Panzer Groups advanced with only a fraction of their usual speed, constantly manouvering to outflank yet another roadblock. On the 19th, with the German offensive closing in on Amsterdam, the desperate Dutch defenders opened the containment dams, inundating large areas but it was not enough to stop the advance.

On September 20th both Panzer groups reached Amsterdam and captured the city after a short but brutal street battle. The Queen and the Government were evacuated by British destroyers at the last moment and went into exile in England. On the 19th the 6. and 20. Armee started their advance on the flanks, marching on the twin pockets of Dutch troops in Groningen and Eindhoven. The former pocket surrendered to Paulus on September 22nd 1939 and Eindhoven was secured by the evening of the same day with the surrender of the last Dutch troops.

Situation on the morning of September 21st
holland2.jpg


The German hopes for Belgium remaining neutral had been proved correct. The battle of the Netherlands was over and winter was coming fast. The only question now was if Operation "Fall Gelb" would take place that same autumn or if it would have to be postponed until next spring?
 
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Sorry. All these AARs are starting to blur together. I need some sleep!:D