Marita-Merkur: Dec I 1940
The historical record – November, 1940
So, where does this game stand, so far, as compared to what really happened?
According to my source, 2194 Days of War, a day by day account of the war, The Italians pushed into Greece in early November, but things quickly broke down.
November 21, 1940: Koritsa, Albania (Korçë) falls to the Greeks. The next day, the Italians admit that it fell.
So, where the heck is Koritsa? It’s not on the map!
I’ve included a pre-invasion photo to the right, and by a rough estimation, Koritsa is in the clear hex on the Greek-Albanian border, a hex I chose not to defend at the time.
So, the Greeks have captured this town last turn. We are on pace historically, at least on that flank.
On December 3, the Greeks crossed the Kalamas River, on the western Greek coast. This is a river that is not shown on the maps. it may be too small to have any effect on combat, but where is it?
The mouth of the river is almost directly across from Kerkira, the only city on the island of Corfu.
While the photo shows it forming the Greek/Albanian border, it is actually a little south of that location. Placement is approximate. The point is that by early December, the Greeks were closing in on crossing the border.
In this sector, the Italians are faring much better than they did historically.
Which brings me to Corfu. The Italians never captured Corfu. They didn’t even attempt to land there because rough seas due to poor weather prevented them from crossing. I have scoured the rules, and I see nothing that would prevent the Italians from attacking at the crossing. In the game, it was captured, but historically, they never attempted.
So far, the Italians are winning. They have pushed further south and into the mountains than happened historically, but their victory is by no means assured.
Italy: Dec I 40
The rains continue to fall, slowing both sides down quite a bit.
More reinforcements arrive in Italy, and they are all easily shipped to Albania this turn.
In response to the Greek attack on the eastern flank, three infantry divisions (3-4-6) are dispatched to try to shore up that front . They don’t make it very far due to the rains, and due to the 2 movement points they have lost due to being shipped.
The mountain divisions move into the mountains abandoned by the retreating Greeks, and their commanders detect a possible weak spot in the Greek line. Hoping to take advantage and split the Greeks in two, they attack at 5:1 odds, led by the 2nd and 3rd mountain divisions, and with 8 points of bomber support. But the Greeks put up stiff resistance before they withdraw (Defender Retreat).
The Italians are standing toe to toe with the Greeks for the moment, but High Command can see what’s coming from the south. All mechanized/motorized forces are moved into a blocking position that will keep the supply line to the mountains open. There are three Greek divisions in the area, moving north. Surely not a threat to the Italian tanks.
All motorcycle regiments, along with the armored battalion are rushed into place to close the gap. While the motorcycle regiments are unsupported, they should be able to withstand any attacks from the Greeks until the artillery and infantry division a few miles behind makes it to the front. Once the infantry closes up with the front line, the advance south should be able to continue.
Greece – Dec I 1940
The Italians, at this point, are piling on the victory points, mostly through their control of so many mountain hexes. The Greeks need to clear out the mountains quickly, or force the Italians to withdraw out of them.
With that object in mind, the Greek 5th Infantry Division is formed in Rethimnon, Crete and shipped to Patrai. Two division and an artillery regiment start making the trek north through the mud, while a third, supported by Commonwealth forces moves north to dispute control over four hexes controlled by the Italians, thus eliminating VP awards for these hexes. They stop when they come into contact with Italian motorized forces. Allied forces are now 32 miles from the Albanian border. Not so far behind the historical record after all.
The Metaxas Line is stripped of everything that can be stripped. The line is manned by a minimal garrison, as troops move west to fight the Italians. The Greeks have been getting exchanges in combat, wearing the Italians down, but it is also wearing their army down. The air force is useless in the face of, ahem, Italian air power. The Allies do not want to risk a confrontation that will result in any of their aircraft being shot down, giving the Italians an additional 10 VPs per aircraft. It is hard to leave them on the ground, but they aren’t very strong, and there aren’t a lot of them.
The big news is in the east, where there is heavy fighting in Albania and the mountains of Greece. Another hex of Albania falls to the Greeks in a heated battle that results in an Exchange. The Greeks lose two cadres (resulting in a total loss of two divisions) in the process of taking out a single Italian infantry division. A short distance away, the Greeks concentrate an attack on the 3rd Mountain Division, this time they get a half exchange result. While the Greeks lost 7 points, they managed to destroy the 3rd mountain division as a fighting force. The Greeks lost about 11 combat factors, while the Italians lost about 14, but they also lost another mountain hex, and their forces are slowly being decimated.
End of turn VP count
The Italians still control five mountain hexes in Greece, and three non-mountain hexes. Five points for each mountain hex (25), six points for each non-mountain hex. Corfu also adds another three VPs, bring the total this turn to 34 VPs. The Italians now have a grand total of 82 VPs.
The Greeks have been shrinking the number of hexes the Italians control, but still have a long way to go. This turn, the Greeks completely eliminated two Italian divisions (2 VP each), and now control five hexes in Albania (2 VPs each). The Greeks have accrued 14 VPs this turn, and bring their total to 22 VPs, just 8 VPs shy of fulfilling one of two conditions for the Yugoslav coup. Fortunately, the Greeks are a long way away from having twice as many VPs as the Italians.
As I am looking this over, as the Italians, instead of pulling my light armored division back, I should have pressed on to the Gulf of Corinth and blocked Greek access from the Peloponnese peninsula. This would have forced the Greeks to take the long way around. Greece is full of roads, but short on rail lines. Once more motorized forces began to arrive in support of the tanks, maybe they could start pushing across the mountains in the south.
Must put that in my notes…..