Marita-Merkur: Feb I 1941
How Far behind Schedule are the Greeks?
At this point, historically, the Greeks have reached their high water mark in Albania. Once it comes time for the fight to come out of the mountains, their offensive breaks down. They do eventually capture the town of Klisera, and push towards Valona (Vlore), but they just don’t have the strength to deal a final defeat to the Italians.
In the meantime, Hitler has been meeting with King Boris of Bulgaria in Berlin. He is demanding that Bulgaria sign the Tripartite Pact, allow German troops within his borders for an invasion of Greece, and that Bulgaria take an active part in the invasion.
The British, not sitting back on their heels, are in Athens with King Metaxas discussing strategy and British aid with the Greeks.
In Albania, the Greeks have 13 divisions facing 16 Italian divisions.
The reality (for this game) is that the Greeks have 7 divisions and 2 divisional cadres on the front line, with an additional 5 divisions on the way. The Italians have 12 divisions, with an additional 4 on the way to the front. So, pretty close to historical so far.
Feb I 41: The Italians
The chances for weather to change from snow to poor is 1 in 6. Alan Tibbetts must be rolling the dice, because that is exactly what comes up. The snows begin to melt as the weather transitions to rain.
The Italian front is pretty torn up, and they have to shift the front line around in order to stabilize it. A task that is easily accomplished, but they have to surrender yet another hex of Greek territory. Why? Because the 33rd infantry division is completely exposed.
Construction engineers also make their way into the mountains on the border and start the construction of three forts. Due to the poor weather, these forts will not be completed until Mar I 41.
The Italian air force sees three infantry divisions making their way up a road through the mountains, and decide to harass the road. A total of 4 tactical bombing factors is required to place a harassment hit. There are not multiple levels of harassment as in later games. All harassment costs troops moving through the hex an extra movement point. Two hexes are attacked in order to slow the arrival of these Greek divisions.
They also see an opportunity. A single Greek infantry division cadre (16th ID) is holding the mountains near Italian armor, and an Italian infantry division. An attack would go at 3:1 combat odds, and the Italians decide to roll the dice.
After the initial successes early in the war, this is how it has been for the Italians ever since. The Italian light armor just can’t get any traction in the mud and snow, and the Greek cadre easily repulses the Italian attack.
There are a couple of other spots where the Italians could conceivably attack, but the odds are no better than 1:1. Like I said at the end of the last turn, the Italian offensive punch is gone. All they can really do now is play defense.
Feb I 41: The Greeks
The Greeks finally assemble a motorized division in Athens. Not a very strong one, or very fast one (3 combat factors and an 8 movement rate), but a motorized division nonetheless that may help them exploit some of their successes.
They are unable to repair their inoperative bombers, apparently having stripped parts and resources from their air force to create the new motorized division. Due to the rains, however, it finds the going very tough as it leaves Athens.
Two attacks take place, without any bomber support. The first is in the east, in the hex with the 0-1-5 border regiment. The Greeks amass enough combat factors for a 2:1 combat, at +2 for the mountains. While they inflict no casualties, they do force the enemy to retreat again. This hex included the Italian 33rd ID, and the Greeks control another hex in Albania.
To the west, the Greeks continue to try to destroy the Italian armor in the mountains. Once again, a 2:1 attack is accomplished, along with the +2 DRM, and the Greeks roll a Defender Half Eliminated. The 131st is reduced to it’s cadre strength, and forced to retreat out of Greece. Any hopes of a continued Italian offensive are now shattered.
For the first time (not counting the Commonwealth motorized AA unit), the Greeks have the ability to use the exploitation phase, and the newly formed motorized division continues towards the front lines.
End of Turn VP Tally
At the end of the last turn, the Italians continued to enjoy their lead with 130 VPs to 42 for the Greeks.
The Italians score 10 VPs this turn:
- +3 VP for control of Corfu
- +5 VP for control of a mountain hex in Greece
- +2 VP for control of a non-mountain hex in Greece
The Italian total is now at 150 VPs.
The Greeks score +6 VPs for control of three hexes in Albania, bringing their total to 48. They continue to have success against the Italians, but continue to fall behind in victory points.
One more turn to complete before the Commonwealth arrives in force, including some Hurricanes that may help turn the tide of the air war.