Torch PBEM: Axis Jan I 43
Enter Rommel (Again)
The new year has arrived, and so has Field Marshal Rommel with the remnants of the Afrika Korps.
The rules say that the DAK must move west of the 4900 column, due to plans already in place at the time. I think it is more along the lines of giving the British space to enter the map.
As the Axis flee west, they attempt to ship 1 point of light AA and 1 point of heavy AA to Pantelleria from Tripoli, but they are turned back. Per the rules, they can no longer move, and are now stuck in Tripoli, in violation of the rules that say they must move west. However, the rules do not specify what happens to those units for failure to move. It’s not like I didn’t try, but the Allied naval presence was extremely active this turn. While the Allies failed to sink anything, they did turn back several shipments, including a rocket artillery regiment.
Alan and I agree to just eliminate the units. Any way you slice it, they will be killed or captured.
But the rest of DAK escapes to the west. Six cadres, and three 1 RE Italian divisions (or they could be 2 REs, either way, they are way under-strength) trundle through the desert. The Allies have attempted to slow the DAK advance into Tunisia by placing harassment hits all over the roads. One hit was placed in a swamp hex in Libya, and that seems to be the perfect place to set up a defense. The infantry sets up in the swamp (they do not have to pay the MP penalty for the harassment, since they are not leaving the hex). The swamp will make the British think long and hard about attacking, since half of their force is combat motorized (a swamp hex halves all c/m and artillery units, neutralizes AEC, and provides a -2 DRM). By my calculations (which could always be wrong), the best that the British can do is 3:1 in this hex, and with the -2 DRM, They can only force me to retreat, at best. This does not mean he cannot destroy the infantry, but he will do so at a cost.
The rest of DAK spreads out to the SW, with supply moving along the road to the town of Zaura, just west of the swamp, where the quartermasters set up camp.
However, British armor can still make the risky move of swinging around to the south and wiping out/capturing the supplies. Or the Americans can come in from the north and continue to be the pain in the backside that they have been doing. However, I am confident that the British, nor the Americans to the north will not be able to surround me with any significant force. In the end, it is determined that it is better to be safe with the supplies and slip a corps in to cover them. It is better to be safe than sorry, than to be lectured again about ‘rear area security”. =P
To the north, engineers make haste repairing the port of Sousse, removing 2 of the 5 hits, while the engineer battalion begins construction of a new airfield. Unfortunately, DAK has no air cover because the Americans have been making trouble in a way that only Americans can, destroying airbases in the southern Tunisian cities. In order to prevent my aircraft from being caught on the ground, the Luftwaffe transfers from the Tripoli are to Pantelleria and Tunis. However, ther eis a downside to what the Allies did. Now they must take the time to repair those airbases before they can use them.
The Americans have also been making a big show of creating rail hits to prevent my whopping 2 REs of rail cap from zipping around the map. =D
As it is, the Axis continue to stand pat in the supply terminals, forcing the Allies to come to them, which so far they have declined to do. The Axis plan is to make the taking of these ports as difficult and as costly to the Allies as possible. Heavy defensive air support is being flown above the terminals of Tunis and Bizerte, as well as above Sousse, but now there is some air defense at Sousse to discourage Allied aircraft from flying above the city.
On the next turn, the Germans get some armor replacement points, and hopefully they will make it to Tunisia. The rebuilding of the 10th Panzer division will be under way.
If one studies the maps, the Allies have two fronts in Tunisia, the Kasserine front to the south, and the Bizerte front to the north.
The center between the two is lightly defended. Could there be an opportunity there to split the Allies in half? (Something tells me that Alan might have snuck in and taken a peek at this while it was in draft form last night. =D)
The Axis score their first victory points of the game, scoring +10 points for not surrendering.
I have been biding my time and waiting. I’m sure it makes for an exciting read when both sides are basically doing nothing other than waiting for bad weather to pass or waiting for replacements. But as the Allied formation is developing, I can see some opportunities appearing. As I pointed out, the Allies are expecting an attack at one of two places, if not both. But they have left other areas weakened.