Torch PBEM: Allied Invasion Turn (prior to Nov I regular turn)
Planning and executing the Allied Invasion is like playing chess, you need to make your decisions based more on what happens in the future than gaining immediate results.
Up to 5 objective ports can be selected in Morocco (Atlantic coast) and Algeria (Mediterranean coast). No amphibious invasions can take place within 18 hexes of an Axis port or airbase on Sicily or Sardinia, which means the Allies cannot land east of Alger. A minimum of 1 RE must be allocated against each objective.
Morocco: The Allies are required to invade at least one port in Morocco and assign at least enough to meet the garrison requirement of French Morocco (9 REs of American units, including 6 supported Infantry and 1 supported Armor).
Up to one RE of non-c/m may be assigned as a floating reserve which can land in the regular Nov I 42 turn.
Looking ahead, in the initial phase of the regular Nov I 42 turn the Allies will roll for the overall Vichy reaction. Two dice are rolled, modified with a +2 for each Allied controlled major port in French North Africa (Gibraltar does not count) and +1 for each minor port. This is perhaps the most important single dice roll in the game. The desired result is “Non-Belligerent” and is achieved on an 8+, therefore a DRM of 6 is what the Allies shoot for. Balancing this important dice roll is a desire to avoid French casualties because any surviving French units will join the Allies on Nov II. The Allies also do not want to lose too many REs of rail capacity. Each major port has two rail cap, but half are lost if the Allies capture a Vichy rail depot. On the other hand, if I wait until Nov II the French will “join” the Allies and bring their rail cap with them. Finally, the Allies want to set themselves up to use all 3 of their C-47s to maximum advantage and to have their best troops as far to the east as possible.
Given the large number of units required to land in Morocco the Allies select two objectives in Morocco and three in Algeria. Both Moroccan ports are within effective range of our airbase at Gibraltar. The major port of Casablanca is to be capture no matter what, along with the empty (except for 1 point of positional AA) Port Lyautey. The French get to redeploy up to three units (they roll 1 die and divide by 2, rounding down), so things may change.
Along the Mediterranean coast of Algeria Oran (major), Alger (major) and Mostaganem (minor) are selected. Oran has 2x D520 fighters and we want to avoid killing them, so this is a secondary target. Nearby Mostaganem has no defenses and a single British Inf Bde is assigned to land there. The partial city hex of Alger is our main objective as it is also the eastern most possible objective. The disadvantage of Alger is the distance from Gibraltar, our only source of ground based air cover. Luckily only a single Vichy D520 is stationed there.
Now comes the French redeployment, my opponent gets a low roll and redeploys only the 1 LE (2-6* Inf) to Alger, doubling the defense of that city. Next the Allies place their troops in all-sea hexes adjacent to their objectives (see maps above). The French roll for and miss (need 11-12 on two dice) a chance to fly air missions against the invasion fleet.
The Allies land their troops and assign air support. No air support is flown for Oran, Mostaganem or Port Lyautey. Alger gets all of the carriers planes except the Seafire (only carrier fighter with TBF) along with a B-17 flying from Gibraltar. Casablanca gets 2x P38F, a B-26B and the Seafire.
The Vichy D520 at Alger performs a patrol attack and returns 3 TBF of naval air support, but declines to intercept against 3x F4F-4 escorts. This is a missed opportunity for my opponent to potentially eliminate the D520 before it become an Allied fighter.
The Allied Airborne Invasion Force makes a night approach and arrives at dawn over their objective at 24:4917 (Tiaret). This reference city was chosen because it is within range of where the II/509th Para Bn wants to be dropped next turn and the drop was made in daylight because there is no chance of intercept or patrol attack. The unit landed disrupted, but both C-47’s land without incident.
At this point we are faced with a rules quandary. Rule 28C2 (French North Africa) says “During the combat phase of the Allied invasion turn, the local reaction of the Vichy forces is checked.” It doesn’t say EXACTLY when in the combat phase – is it before or after AA is fired? The rule goes on to say “Once the local reaction is determined, the Allied player can either resolve the attack or elect to cancel the attack.” After much reading we determined the AA is fired only after the Allied player makes his decision.
At Casablanca the French defend at half, manage no AA hits and suffer a DE. A 1-2-6* Inf X and 2 points of positional Hvy AA are destroyed. Thankfully the French air transport escapes. The positional AA at Port Lyautey defends at full and is also destroyed. Good, with the undefended port at Monstaganem also in our hands the Allies have a +4 DRM for that overall reaction roll.
At Oran I apply the one-time -1 DRM for local reaction, but it does no good, the French stand firm and the attack is called off. A US Inf Rgt wants to attack the airbase at 25:0512 (but only if the French roll a local non-belligerent). The French again stand firm and the Americans back down. Finally, at Alger the French again roll high and stand at full strength. As much as I want Alger and its +2 DRM with my units quartered for making an amphibious landing and halved again for the partial city the odds are poor. I don’t want a bloodbath, so the attack is called off. The Allies will need to roll a 4 or better on two dice to get that non-belligerent overall Vichy reaction. We’ll have to wait for the Nov I 42 regular turn post for those results.