Marita-Merkur: Mar II 1941
By the beginning of March, 1941, the Italians had been heavily reinforced, and as the snow began to dissipate, they launched a new spring offensive. While not quite so disastrous as the first offensive, it really went nowhere either. But they kept the Greek army busy. Busy enough that they didn’t seem to notice the Germans massing on the border with Bulgaria…..
This is also the turn where the Yugoslav coup occurred, inviting the wrath of the Nazis……
Amazingly enough, by the last half of March, the weather clears up. The snow in the mountains is melting. The Italians don’t have the strength to launch any kind of spring offensive. They are just barely hanging on, and are desperate for help.
The Italians make no attacks this turn, and they get no reinforcements.
The only thing they can do is shuffle troops around again to close gaps in the line that the Greeks are seemingly opening up at will.
The air force, in the meantime, has been switched to a new task. They are to start bombing Greek transportation lines in an attempt to cut off the flow of supplies to the front. Both bombers and the dive bomber are sent out to three separate locations, staying far enough away from Athens to prevent the British Hurricanes from intercepting them. Each bomber, on its own, needs a 5 or 6 to damage the transportation lines, while the dive bomber needs a 4, 5 or 6 due to its +1 DRM for bombing. Two roads are damaged, almost cutting off the flow of supplies from Athens. The rail line on the outskirts of Thessalonika is completely missed, however. Supplies are still flowing, but it is going to take some time for the engineers to get out of the mountains and start repairs.
British bombers that arrived last turn in Athens move forward to airbases closer to the front, and to protect transportation lines from the Italian air force.
British mechanized forces, including the 1st armored brigade move out of the mountains to attack up the coast road. The 2nd New Zealand infantry division lands in Patrai and starts the journey north, while an artillery brigade lands in Athens.
The forts in the mountains are completed early, but before the engineers can move to a new hex to build more fortifications, they receive orders to exit the mountains and work on repairing transportation lines that the Italians have been tearing up. They begin to move south.
With the arrival of armor to the front, the Greeks once again make a mountain attack against the Italian 36th infantry division. The British 1-8 motorized infantry battalion did not participate in the attack due to stacking considerations. The Allies still achieve a 2:1 combat ratio, and with their +2 DRM, they eliminate all hostile forces, losing half of what the Italians lost in the process, and fully eliminating the remnants of the 131st (Centauro) light armored division. Overall, the Italians lose 14 more combat factors, forcing the Greeks to lose 7. The Greek 4th infantry division is reduced to cadre strength, while the cadre of the 16th infantry division was eliminated.
This battle scores +10 VPs for the Greeks, +4 for two infantry divisions wiped out, and +6 for finally destroying the tanks.
To the east, an attack is launched against the Italian 56th infantry division, at 3:1 odds. The +2 DRM for the Greeks eliminates another division, scoring +2 VPs, tearing yet another gap in the Italian line.
There are once again, two gaps in the Italian front line. Although there is a gap in front of the 1st armored brigade, it does not exploit. It could make it all the way to Vlore, but then the group would only have a defense strength of 1.5 points because the artillery battalion could not make it. The 1-8 artillery battalion can’t exploit, because it could only move 1 hex, and then it would be violating stacking. So the Brits stand pat for the moment.
- +3 for control of Corfu
- +22 for control of 11 hexes in Albania
- +12 for elimination of four Italian divisions
- Total: +34 victory points
This game is done. It is only a matter of time, two turns at the most, before the Greek victory point total surpasses the Italians. While this will not trigger German intervention, it may inspire the Germans to send some troops to the area to “assist”. I want to see if this happens, and what effects bombing the roads will have on the Allied offensive, if the Italian bombers can keep ahead of the Greek engineers. Something has to happen, because the Italians receive no more reinforcements after the next turn, and they are running out of men.