Marita-Merkur: November I 1940
Tick, Tick, THUD!
Normally, I write these posts one player turn at a time, but because these turns are so short, and action is limited (at least for now), I am going to double up on them.
Italian turn, November I, 1940
After a quick supply check for everyone, the Italians cross the border, sending their light armored division down the road and through the foothills in order to surround the Greek 8th infantry division (5-6-6) in the mountains. This way, a Defender Retreat result will do some damage to the division, as well as putting it out of supply for the next player turn.
There are no replacements in this game, so units lost are gone and cadres cannot be rebuilt.
In order to achieve 2:1 odds, the available Italian air force, consisting of two bombers fly over and support the attack. They are unescorted as there are no Allied fighters in range to intercept. A third air unit, a dive bomber, is transferred to Vlore, Albania to bring it closer to the front.
The mountain hex halves all attack factors (bombing factors are unaffected), and AA fire is ineffective. The tanks have no AEC. The attack goes off, and the Italians roll…….
The Greeks fight off the Italians, but they have a choice to make as they will be out of supply on the next player turn. They may have to back out of the hex, unless reinforcements arrive to rescue them.
If I had planned better, I should have put the cavalry units to the west, because I came up with 20 AF, 1 short of a 3:1 attack. This would have resulted in a half exchange rather than a no effect.
After long consideration, the Italians choose not to have the light tank division move during exploitation. Since that is the only armored unit available to them, they do not want to get it too far ahead and isolated from everyone else.
The Italians planned poorly for this invasion, mostly because, according to the Axis order of battle, because the Italian General Staff was afraid of Hitler’s reaction, and becauses the Governor of Albania thought he could pull this off with eight divisions, one of which was armored. Kind of.
I was asked what optional rules I was using, and there are no optional rules in this game. however, I did run across some options that I may need to try if I run this game again. The options are on the orders of battle. In the case of the Italians, you can opt to receive the first three turns of reinforcements as initial forces. This means 5 more divisions, of which three are mountain divisions (giving the Italians four mountain divisions to work with). However, the Italians would not receive any reinforcements until January, 1941.
I think playing the game straight up for starters is a good baseline to see how this option would have impacted the war.
Allied turn, November I, 1940
The Greeks immediately get reinforcements in the form of elements of the 13th infantry division heading west from off-map Thrace. They also get a nice shiny artillery regiment with no attack strength. I mean, they must have dusted off museum pieces for this regiment.
The British are coming! The British are coming! A mixed counter of British Fighter-bombers land at Athens from off-map bases. I As with the Greek air force, it is a hodge-podge of different aircraft, and not very strong in the fighter role (2FB3)
The Greeks scramble west in response to the invasion. The 8th infantry division that was put out of supply has been pulled back, staying in the mountains, but reestablishing a supply line. The Allies realize this opens a small gap on the coast, but they hope that as reinforcements rush west, that they will have sufficient strength to close that gap. The 39th Evzone mountain regiment moves north quickly to fill the gap, staying in the mountains since it is unsupported.
A British brigade and a motorized AA battalion land at Patrai, a minor port on the west side of Greece. Having no heavy equipment they can avoid the major ports and land closer to the front. They race north with their remaining movement points and take a position between Lake Kremasta and the Ambracian Gulf. They aren’t closing the gap, but they are in a blocking position a little to the south.
There is a gap in the Italian line west of the Yugoslav border that the Greeks may be able to take advantage of. It is clear terrain, not mountains. The Italians did not bring enough troops to cover the entire line, but reinforcements are on the way.
To the east, the elements of the 13th infantry division move west towards Drama, and two battalions stationed in the Aegean are recalled to Thessaloniki, and moved into the western Metaxas Line to await the arrival of the rest of the division.
The Greeks are moving west to deal with the Italian incursion, but have to leave troops manning the Metaxas Line as a buffer against the Bulgarians (who don’t exist in this game). The line must be garrisoned just in case the Germans do decide to intervene.Airfields are being constructed closer to the front lines to contest the current Italian control of the skies in this region.
As with the Italians, I found some options for both the Greeks and the British in their respective orders of battle. One is additional Commonwealth troops to Greece in the form of an infantry division and two infantry brigades), and/or the upgrading of the Greek air force, the delivery of Hawker Hurricane fighters and Blenheim-1 bombers. According to the OB, these units were ordered, but never delivered. Again, if I do another run of this game, I may explore these options.
At the end of the turn, the Allies have not scored a single victory point. No attacks this turn, and no territory gained. The Italians, on the other hand, have scored 13 VPs, 2 each for the non-mountain hexes in Greece (4 hexes), and 5 points for the mountain hex. I expect this to change on the next turn.