Torch – Feb I 43 Axis Turn
The 10th Panzer lives again!
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and trying to remember what I was doing after a 5 week hiatus, I managed to breathe life back into the 10th Panzer XX.
I had turned Palermo and Cagliari into supply depots specifically so I could bring replacement points to them, and spend those replacement points there as needed. The rules state that replacement points must be sent to supply terminals in order to be used, but they didn’t say those supply terminals had to be in Africa.
Last turn, a German armor RP and two German infantry RPs were successfully sent to Tunis, and this turn, another German armor RP and infantry RP arrive, this time in Palermo, Sicily.
The 7th panzer regiment (5-3-10, supported), the one sunk so early in the game, is replaced in Tunis, while the 69th Panzergrenadier (3-10, supported) is replaced in Palermo. The two infantry RPs in Tunis are used to replace the 2 AFR artillery (4-5-8) and the 102nd motorized heavy AA regiment (2-10, 4 points of AA).
Shipping becomes a nightmare, as the Allied navies tighten their noose. Three steps of supply are sunk, along with a point of heavy AA. Italian units by the dozen (or so it seemed) were returned to port, including a much needed construction regiment.
German commandos, waiting patiently in Palermo for orders are shipped out with the 69th Panzergrenadiers, and both make it safely to Tunis. The 10th Panzer XX is quickly formed, and has 6 movement points left, owing to the 4 MP cost of shipping the 69th to Africa.
After the failed attack on Bizerte, the Allies decided to abandon the British 46th infantry division, and pull what passes for an armor division back, leaving the 46th and the French Cavalry exposing their rumps to the Germans.
Down south is a different story. The Americans have completely cut off Rommel’s forces, and taken their supplies.
The Americans think they have put the Axis on the horns of a dilemma, but they really haven’t. There is only one objective, and that is hanging onto either Tunis or Bizerte by the end of the game. Rommel will have to do his best to escape on his own.
That’s not to say that he will not receive help. Due to the incredibly short rainy season, the Luftwaffe gets the correct orders this time, and a massive armada takes off to assist Rommel (2 x Ju-87D dive bombers, 5 x Ju-88A bombers, 2 x He-111H bombers, 1 x SM-84 bombers, all escorted by 3 x FW 190A fighters).
The FW-190s make the Americans pee themselves so badly that they don’t even bother to patrol attack or intercept.
Rommel has to make a breakout attempt, with no attack supply, meaning his attack strength is quartered. Fortunately, however, his AA strength is not. Between the two hex frontage, he manages to get 5 points of AA to fire at loitering Allied bombers.
The Allies have sent three bombers for defensive support, and German AA drives two of them away. Only the French can withstand the heavy fire (the French DB-7 attack bomber provides support, while a British B-26A and and LeO.451 are returned).
The Germans attack at 4:1 odds, and have full armor on the attack (+3 DRM), but the Americans have full anti-tank capabilities (-4 DRM), for a cumulative -1. Rommel decides to make use of American disorganization, and calls the +2 DRM out, for a final DRM of +1.
Honestly, that’s not where I wanted to use it, but it doesn’t surprise me that I have to, because the Germans have been limping along pretty much since the beginning of the game.
As usual, the die roller rolls low, rolling a 1 (modified to a 2) for a half exchange. The Americans are destroyed, and Rommel pushes through. The Italians, however, didn’t fare so well. The 131st armor cadre is destroyed to save the Germans.
The poor Italians. Always second class allies.
To the north, the 10th Panzer attacks, coordinated with attacks by the Italians out of the city, and led by the commando battalion. The Axis has a +1 for AECA, and an additional +1 for the commandos. Neither side has any air cover. The target is the 46th infantry XX, the French cavalry and British artillery.
This attack is at 3:1 odds, and the Axis have surrounded the division just enough that a retreat result will destroy almost everyone.
Once again, the die roller rolls low, rolling a 2. Adding the +2 DRM, the germans get the desired result: Defender Retreat. The French cavalry and British artillery are destroyed, and the British 46th infantry division is cadred in the retreat. A fine days work.
Small victory, but the Allies now have a bloody nose.
The commandos are expended during the attack (not eliminated, just removed from play), and Axis forces withdraw to protect the back door to Bizerte, and to provide support in Tunis (motorized rocket artillery).
After the battles, the 10th Panzer XX withdraws to a position protecting the back door to Bizerte, while some artillery moves to support units in Tunis. The 102nd and 155th AA regiments are hustled into Bizerte, just daring the Allies to fly over again (there are now 16 points of AA in the city, just need to get one more point in there).
Rommel pushes past the rest of the American 2nd Armored XX, leaving a lone Italian motorized cadre to guard the rear. A supply line has now been opened up, and Rommel receives desperately needed ammunition. Of course, that supply route will likely be closed again before fuel arrives.
It feels good to finally be able to attack, even if it is just one or two. Of course, Rommel’s forces are most likely done for. The lack of fuel just does not allow them to get very far (movement is halved). As I look at the situation now, I decide that Sousse was just a little too far, and I basically built the Allies a free airbase there.
I also know that the destruction of the American forces won’t stop them from replacing them next turn. Stupid Americans and their stupid replacements.
As the Axis give up on saving Rommel and his forces, the task becomes saving Tunis & Bizerte, or either one. Bizerte is by far the harder of the two cities to break into. If this were a longer campaign game, I would start evacuating Africa and setting up defenses in Sicily, but it isn’t, so we stand and die here in Africa. Or we hold out and be a pain in Eisenhower’s ass.
With the Axis refusing to surrender for another turn, the Axis gain another 10 VPs, bringing their total to 30. They lead the Allies in VPs, 30:18 (5:3).