October 21st, 2018

 

World in Flames: Spring 2011 Campaign

     “Strange Saddles"

   
Axis players: Marc Hight Allied players: James Frusetta, Joe Onorati, and Matt Buchanan

Game reports: 'Strange Saddles' - Spring 2011 WiF Campaign Game
  Germany: Marc Hight
  Japan/Italy: Marc Hight

  Russia/France/Com China: James Frusetta
  Commonwealth/Nat China: Joseph Onorati
  United States: Matt Buchanan

Sept/Oct 1939: It was the best of times... with the Germans taking Poland without loss, Italy entered the war the 3rd impulse and sank the British BB Repulse and one cruiser with the loss of one cruiser itself. The Chinese defended a slightly tighter line in China and the Japanese advanced toward it. Denmark and the Netherlands fell to the Germans, who also managed to port strike the Dutch Trs to deny it to the British. The Italians push into Egypt. But it was also the worst of times... with the Italians losing their best Ftr to a lousy British CVP at -2. The turn ended at its first possibility, which was nothing short of disaster for the Axis. The Italians were poised to knock out Egypt (needed two more impulses...), but that opportunity is probably past. No partisans at turns end and no US entry options were taken.

Nov/Dec 1939: On balance an excellent turn for Germany, a decent turn for Japan, and the poor Italians continue to struggle a bit. The first two impulses were shocking clear and the Wehrmacht made the most of it, declaring war on Belgium and clearing the nation without loss in those two clear impulses. Italy sought to keep a supply line to its North African army and sortied a Ftr and 2 Nav to contest the Eastern Med. After several rounds of bitter air combat, the Italians lost their Ftr and pilot, while the British lost three CVPs (but no pilots). No ships were sunk. Italian convoy raiding was completely ineffectual. The Italians do manage to push up to Alexandria and the river line, but the Commonwealth sends heavy reinforcements to the theatre, including aircraft. Both sides look to be waiting for someone to make a mistake. After two clear impulses the weather turns sour - winter has arrived (snow in temperate). Despite the snow, the Wehrmacht loads up on the French line, making a vital blitz attack at +11 - and success! The new blitzkrieg tactics surprise the French and German armor exploits within one hex of Paris. The French retreat to start the Paris huddle; the British (who have sent basically nothing to help) plan to evacuate Gort from France. Basically the Germans have had excellent land rolls, but poor naval search rolls. Meanwhile, the Japanese strat bomb the Chinese to good effect. They also declare war on Persia, snagging two oil hexes at the cost of American outrage (failed entry roll). An Indian corps arrives in Bushere as a peacekeeping force. Not much else happens in the Pacific. Turns ends when the Allies pass. The US interns the CV Bearn. 

Jan/Feb 1940: Despite excellent portents, the turn was dismal for the Axis. The Germans lost two die rolls at advantage and lost initiative, allowing the French to reinforce Paris. The move was propitious, as bad weather prevented the Germans from attacking all turn as a result. The Germans broke out across Seine north of Paris, but rolled a '3' on the attack and flipped the lead units. As a result, a 1:1 assault counterattack by the French incredibly succeeded, pushing the Germans back - leaving the line in France basically where it started at the beginning of the turn. Italy and the Commonwealth fought three inconclusive naval battles in the Med, with no losses. The Italians do manage to sneak two more corps into Egypt, but nothing moves. The Italians do manage to sink two British convoys and damage a British transport, but otherwise the turn was mostly a litany of failure. The turn *again* ends early. Japan strategically bombs China to minor effect - and nothing else.

Mar/April 1940: Allies again win initiative, allowing the French to again reinforce Paris in the first impulse. Not daunted by the long odds, in the first impulse the Germans assault Paris - failing miserably with a -/- result and flipping the front. The British find and sink an Italian cruiser in the eastern Med. The weather clears on the next impulse, so the Germans change tactics and attack on the flanks in France. Unfortunately their luck does not improve, rolling a '2' on a +17 blitz, flipping half the attacking force and causing German casualties. Another attack on the wing succeeds, however, allowing the Wehrmacht to spill into central France. The next impulse allows the Germans to attack on the wings again, further reducing the Paris pocket. The Germans do reach the Atlantic coast and seize Brest. In Egypt the Italians have an excellent chance at breaking through the Commonwealth line, but the attack roll is a '6' and more Italian dead bodies are sent home. Japan continues to strat bomb China and do little else. The turn finally ends when the Allies pass.

May/June 1940: The Axis get initiative and cut the British out of supply in Egypt. One ground strike is successful and there is another brilliant chance for the Italians to break through to the Suez! Naturally, the attack fails on a '7' (after modifiers to a 1/1 result) and the Commonwealth immediately rushes in two additional core the theatre. An Italian cruiser is sunk off the Egyptian coast to no losses. At this point the British have played well, taking essentially zero losses and inflicting a continual stream of casualties against the Italians and Germans.  Japan continues its relentless strategic bombing campaign and send troops to Persia. Germans attack Paris at great odds - and roll a second consecutive '2' for the dreaded modified '14' and take three losses to the loss of an art in Paris. Next axis impulse the Germans again roll a '2' (for three consecutive rolls!) but fortunately this time it was in an air combat. Late that next impulse the Germans _finally_ assault and seize Paris. The turn ends when the Allies pass immediately thereafter. Germany oddly does not Vichy France. Are they trying for complete conquest?

July/August 1940: More wrangling in Egypt sees naval combat in the Eastern Med but the Italians fails to put the British out of supply. British good fortune holds as in a naval battle with four sinks/damages, every roll was passed and British losses were light (two damages and nothing else). The Germans and Italians each take a +12 and +9 attack, but they both fail miserably, losing one corps each for no gains. Impulse two, however, finally sees a change in fortune. Graziani makes a bold +5 assault against Wavell - and success! Wavell and a big corps are destroyed, opening the way to the canal, which is now closed. The British regroup and defend the other side of the canal so there is no breakthrough. In France the Wehrmacht streams south to the Spanish border. On the third impulse they declare war on Spain (apparently Franco was not being cooperative enough). The Germans advance to Madrid and blitz next to the capital on a +12 blitz that was mostly successful (1/2 flipped but no losses). The Allies try a partial pass for their impulse, but fail. The extra impulse gives Germany the chance to take Madrid - and they do with a high odds attack. Unfortunately, the Allies do a partial pass that succeeds (again), ending the turn before the Germans can further prepare. The US freezes Japanese assets and escorts in the East Coast - an ominous sign. At turn's end the Germans conquer Spain and Vichy France. N. Africa, Syria, and Indo-China go Vichy (plus a few other minor ones).

September/October 1940: A tough turn in many respects. Axis win initiative (but must reroll to get it) and the Germans and Italians take combined actions and spread out to attack the Commonwealth convoys, which are largely undefended. Poor rolls plague them the UK escapes five sea zones of potential loss with the Axis finding convoys only once in the US East coast. Only 2 cps are lost. The British then defend again, repositioning the convoys around the Bay of Biscay. The Germans spend the turn advancing across Spain to Gibraltar, but notably some units are moving east. Italy maneuvers around and has a stunning success, taking Port Said and securing a foothold across the Suez canal on a +9 blitz. The next impulse the Brits counter-attack at +4 and - naturally! - expel the Italians and push them back across the canal. The turn would end with the front largely like it was at the start of the turn. The Japanese score the one success for the Axis, occupying Indo-China and pushing up around the Chinese flank, taking Kunming. Unfortunately the US is outraged (on every account, the Axis failed every entry roll since Vichy was declared). The Allies _again_ end the turn early giving the poor Axis but 2 impulses. Frustration and grumbling can be heard about the short turns. To this point not a single turn has gone long in the game.

November/December 1940: The Axis lose the first initiative roll, but fortune favors the reckless and they win the re-roll. The weather is mildly good (a '2' modified to a '4' - clear in the Med and rain in the temperate) and so the Wehrmacht and Italian high command hatch a bold plan. Ger and Italy both take combined actions. The entire Italian navy posts off the coast of Gibraltar in the Western Med. The entire German navy posts off the coats of Gibraltar in Cape St. Vincent. In the naval battles to isolate Gibraltar every single search roll fails. Axis morale plummets, but then Guderian (in charge of the operation in Spain) remembers that Germany is a land power after all. The stukas let the bombs fly and the two corps in Gibraltar are both flipped. The Germans launch a +8 assault after all the shore bombardment and air support.... and take Gibraltar by the slimmest margin (i.e. the lowest possible roll that would succeed)! A corps and an infantry division die for the gain, but the Med is now an Italian lake. In Egypt the Italians simultaneously take a +5 blitz and finally roll a '20' blasting a hole and blitzing to isolate the three remaining corps in the Sinai. Back to Gibraltar: the Commonwealth fleet now flees the overrun port. The Queens and one cruiser are sunk in the interception combat, but it could have been much worse for the British, who essentially keep their fleet intact. The Commonwealth evacuates a corps from Malta to reinforce Tangiers in an effort to save a few ships from Malta and hold on to a beachhead in the Med. The Italians land corps in Mellila later in the turn to try and clear the Er Rif. Axis decide to take a risk and declare war on Portugal even though no corps can reach Lisbon in one impulse. The turn only ends on a '1' after all. Japanese continue to strategically bomb China, front shifts around and new corps appear on the front - is an attack imminent in China? Turn ends earliest possible (again) with the Allies (see Portuguese gamble).

January/February 1941: The new turn sees poor weather, and the Axis win initiative. Britain tries a new strategy, reserving some of its fleet as a reaction force to try and counter the big Italian fleet now sitting in Gibraltar. Soviets reposition their forces on the Polish border. China wakes up and senses the danger in time, retreats out of a few hexes to rationalize the line in southern China. The Japanese attack is thwarted, but they gain a hex or two. The Chinese line is now quite strong, defending mountain hexes. In Egypt The Italians flip and kill two British corps in the Sinai - only one mech remains (in supply) on the coast. After turns of fruitless failures against the convoys the Axis finally score some success, breaking the British convoy line off the coast of Africa. The UK builds are reduced, effectively for the first time during the war. In an attempt to rescue their beleaguered forces in the Er Rif, the UK launches a 'Dunkirk-esque' operation off of Tangiers. The Axis planes finally catch the Brits at work, sinking a transport ship and damaging another. Further out in the North Atlantic German raiders surprise and sink the Argus, but miss the convoys. Portugal is incompletely conquered. US freezes Japanese assets. Turn ends early again on first Allied opportunity. 

March/April 1941: The weather clears, the Allies win initiative. Italy finally clears N. Africa, killing the last Commonwealth unit and opening the Suez canal. More naval combat is attempted but the Axis are frustrated and fail to find the convoys anywhere. The convoy line, however, is still broken off the coast of Africa as the Brits reorganize their naval forces. Two port strikes (one against Lisbon and one against Aden) fail: no losses either side. The Germans continue to rush land and air forces to the Eastern front while the Soviet perfect their 'defense in depth' strategy. Hungary is aligned with the Axis. The Japanese fleet starts repositioning and the main carrier fleet returns home. Palestine and Trans-Jordan are conquered by Italy. US gifts destroyers. Turn ends early again on the first Axis opportunity.

May/June 1941: Allies win initiative again, opt to have Axis move first. Germany obliges by declaring war on the Soviet Union. Romania is aligned. Later in the turn Finland is also aligned. The German army is slightly under-strength, but the initial surge is reasonable. The first impulse sees 7 Soviets units die. The second Axis impulse adds 8 more, but one attack 'half-flips' when the Germans roll a '4.' Soviet counter-attack returns the favor, killing a Soviet Inf corps for no loss in the south against the Rumanians. Two sets of air strikes by the Soviets are successful in flipping a mtn and a mech corps. The Germans inch forward in the north and slowly reduce a pocket around Lvov in eastern Poland. The Italians finally put enough corps into Trans-Jordan to align Iraq, who joins the Axis cause. An attack finally kills the British holding out in Tangiers. Japan continues to move units around in China and strategically bomb. The 3rd impulse starts with a weather roll of '1' and bad weather (and the turn advances faster). Snow in the arctic (in June!) hampers the German advance. The Italians try for convoy attacks, but systematically fail. Japan starts organizing troops and ships in the outlying islands. The Axis get one more impulse and clear Lvov, Odessa, and Minsk. Forces in the south are about to overrun face-down Soviet aircraft and complete another pocket in the Dnieper basin when the turn ends at its earliest possibility for the Axis - shifts the initiative marker towards the Allies.

July/August 1941: The turn starts badly for the Axis, but improves significantly. The British try a new convoy strategy, leaving certain areas out at sea undefended to tempt Axis raids so the British can ambush the raiders. Late in the turn the Italians take the bait, snagging 7 convoy points (finally some success on the search rolls). The following impulse the Royal Navy sorties, but only manages to damage two cruisers. In the land war, the Germans start the turn by surrounding and assaulting Kiev. The battles goes badly: the Germans suffer losses and flip without taking the city. Headquarters are used to re-flip the Wehrmacht, but now the corps are at the end of their supply leash. So the high command makes a fateful decision and burns a chit to re-organize the headquarters. The corps lurch forward, chasing the Soviet army. Leningrad is cut off and the Germans are attacking toward the city. Dnepropevitsk is assaulted and taken without loss. The turn finally goes longer than ending at the first opportunity and the German surge forward, making the outskirts of Rostov in the south, and Bryansk in the north. Soviets have a strong defensive cordon around Moscow but are retreating in disarray in the south. Sevastopol remains Soviet. Mid-way through the turn the Italians put enough corps into Iraq to activate Persia as an Italian ally (the Americans are incensed). Italians corps slowly filter forward, trying to press the Caucasus border of the Soviet Union. Italian marines land in eastern Persia on the Indian border. The Japanese bring Siam into the war and continue to make ominous preparations. Could the war widen soon? The turn finally goes slightly long and the Germans clear the Dnieper basin but fail to push much closer to Moscow. The US starts picking multiple options, clearly seeking tension, but they 'pass' every tension roll! Perhaps the sleeping giant will snooze a bit longer.

Sept/Oct 1941: The Allies win initiative again and elect to go first. The weather starts marginally good - clear everywhere except the arctic where it is raining. The Brits defend their convoys and shuffle units around while the Soviets opt for a full retreat to the 'Stalin line' just east of Penza. The weather turns sour immediately with the worst possible weather for the three remaining impulses. Caught in the mud, the Germans pathetically lurch after the retreating Russians but catch nothing. The Soviets decide to save their troops and abandon Moscow, which the Wehrmacht takes without a shot fired. One hex around Leningrad is cleared, but no other Soviet corps are killed. The Japanese spread the fleet out across the Pacific and the Allies fear war, but the weather is so bad that nothing happens and the fleet returns home. Are the Japanese posturing or was this an abortive effort to attack the Commonwealth? Italy tried to invade India but the weather again prevents them from doing anything. Despite several impulses of trying the Axis do little damage to the convoy lines as well. England is looking more fortress like each turn. American gears up production.

Nov/December 1941: The Allies lose initiative, but demand a re-roll and win the second die roll. As a result, the Soviets pull back again, basically getting nearly all of their corps out and most of their factories as well. The Urals is an industrial nightmare. A small break in the weather sees the German unleash a series of attacks, assaulting and taking Rostov, Sevastopol, and clearing two other small pockets. The casualties are high, however, with very high odds attacks 'succeeding' on rolls of '3,' '4,' and '7.' The Germans lose 5 corps and an infantry division, but the road to the Caucasus is open. The first German corps reach the Asian map not far north of Baku near Astrakhan, but the Soviets already have an impressive double-stacked line. (We shall see how impressive when the German army arrives to stand toe to toe with it!) Japan sends out the fleet again on the Axis first impulse, and this time the clearing weather on their second impulse sees the war widen: the Japanese declare war on the Commonwealth and its allies. They seize the NEI, Rabual, some minor islands, and land in India next to Calcutta. Burma is liberated via an overland route through Siam. The turn ends early again and so the Japanese cannot capitalize on their initial surge. Italy tries again to join in by attacking India, but a small British fleet manages to abort both the Amph and the TRS with troops. A vicious battle in the Belgian Congo sees an Italian and Belgian TER die. Much ado about nothing in Africa. The Germans declare war on Greece, but do not get far. The US picks yet more options seeking tension. The turn ends with a whimper, but there is some minor convoy damage to the British system.

January/February 1942: The turn opens with both sides nervous about the impending entrance of the US into the war. The Allies win initiative again and elect to go first. The British Isles are packed with planes and corps - are they expecting visitors? The Russian at the edge of Siberia starts to look formidable, but the Germans are pressing hard in the south. In the Axis impulse the Japanese take a naval and spread out across the Pacific, which includes a stack of carriers off the coast of Hawaii. The Germans take Tblisi and get corps on the Turkish border. The Germans slide around the Greek forces to build up for an attack. The Italians take a naval and set up for something off the coast of E. Africa. On the next Allied turn the weather turns particularly nasty (modified '12' on the die roll) effectively stopping the Axis advance. No war is declared against the US, no invasions occur. Nothing. The Germans do pull Turkey into the war and eliminate the last Soviet units in Bakumi. The Soviets, having killed the Persian Cav earlier, push towards Meshed. The turn ends with a another whimper. The US passes the War Appropriation Bill and whispering commences among the Allies about trying to beat the Japanese to war. The Brits take some convoy losses and lose a TRS to an Italian sub.

March/April 1942: Turn starts marginally clear, and the Axis win initiative. The Japanese start the turn again with the navy spreading out. Carriers are seen off the coast of both California and Hawaii this time. The Germans, having cleared the western Caucasus, turn and head east pushing closer towards Baku. More shifting as the Germans close in on Athens in Greece. The Allied first impulse is a stunner: the US tries to declare war on the Japanese! Those warmongering Americans further prove the bankruptcy of sham democracy. Fortunately cooler heads prevail and the Republicans defeat the measure (roll fails on a '10'). Next impulse, the weather turns bad - storms and rain across the Pacific. The Japanese High Command makes a decision - to do nothing. Italian naval units with transports appear again off the coast of S. Africa, but nothing happens. The Germans continue to push units east in the Soviet Union. On the second Allied impulse the Americans try again to declare war on Japan. For the second time they fail (on a roll of '6'). Perhaps the Americans are not interested in war. The third Axis impulse finally sees shockingly clear weather. Convinced that the Americans are warmongers, the Japanese finally give the Yanks their wish and declare war on the US. The port strikes are slightly disappointing, the Americans lose only 1 CV, 2 BB, 2 CA and a TRS in three separate port strikes. The Japanese take lots of small islands, land in the Philippines, and push inland in India. The Italians invade in S. Africa, successfully landing near Elizabethtown. The Germans launch a surprise assault on Baku (after wildly lucky ground strikes flip everything) and take the city without loss. Germans also launch a combined arms attack (paratroopers!) on Athens, also succeeding. The turn then ends, with Greece being conquered and the Japanese at war with the US.

May/Jun 1942:

 

 

WAR NEWS!

Poles roll over, bark and do tricks for Wehrmacht. Dateline Warsaw, 10 Sept 1939. Responding to provocations from repeated border incidents, the German nation decided to defend itself against Polish perfidy, declaring war on 1 Sept 1939. Brought to heel, the Poles immediately starting behaving, displaying a 'hang-dog' look as Germans entered Warsaw the morning of 10 September. The following week the last fighting remnants of the Polish army surrendered at the industrial city of Lodz.

War broadens as Italy joins war! Dateline Roma, 14 Sept 1939. Responding to a diplomatic insult by the French president and blatant provocation by the British, the Italian Parliament answered the call of our fearless leader and declared war on the United Kingdom and France. A British naval task force was launching a surprise strike against the naval base at La Spezia when was was declared. At the Italians have enough honor to notify our enemies before attacking!

Italians discover defect in planes. Dateline Napoli, 29 Sept 1939. After losing nearly 150 aircraft in battles with the British over the naval base at La Spezia, a preliminary investigation reveals that the Italian aeronautic force was fighting under adverse conditions as a result of a flaw in the design of their planes. Apparently Italian designers neglected to leave a place for the pilots to fly the planes, resulting in unguided aircraft. A spokesman for the company that produces the planes promised a "quick fix." 

 

Newsflash! Wehrmacht Awesome! Dateline Berlin, 2 December 1939. After several naval failures the slow progress of the Italians, the German army decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. Unfortunately for the French, that meant taking it out on them. Thus far the French have lost every battle against the Germans, losing countless aircraft in weeks of battles and having their land forces crushed in the soft snows under the treads of our Panzers. Lead German panzer units are now in sight of Paris and the world await news of the French surrender.

Probe expands into Italian aircraft defect, new problems discovered. Dateline Napoli, 5 December 1939. After the September revelation of serious defects in Italian fighter planes, this news agency has discovered that other models of front line fighters were affected, with disastrous results. Another several hundred fighters were lost over the Mediterranean in November as a result of defects in the 'repair' that the Macchi Aeronautica Corporation made to their planes. After re-instating a pilot seat, apparently the repaired fighters lacked a button to actually fire the guns. As a result, hundred of Italian fighter pilots had to score victories by ramming their British adversaries. "Casualties have been horrendous," said Air Marshall Linguini. "But our morale remains high!" Macchi has promised another fix in the near future.

'Phony War' Allegations Arise in Sino-Japanese Conflict. Dateline Chung-king, 15 December 1939. Months of inactivity have characterized the Chinese theatre. No major conflicts have occurred since July of the same year, when the Japanese made a push to occupy the current line. Japanese planes have been making frequent visits over Chinese production centers, but casualties have been light. "We know they are waiting to pounce - and we shall be ready!" proclaimed Chinese leader Kai-Shek.  

 

Wehrmacht Successes Turn to Mud. Dateline Rheims, France, 18 January 1940. Weeks of unending rain have clogged arteries and slowed the flow of supplies to the Wehrmacht forces in northern France. As a result military operations have ground to a standstill. German units are in sight of Paris, guarded by entrenched units recently arrived from the colonies. Furious attacks on the northern wing were rebuffed by the French, causing a disorderly retreat by the 15th Motorized division and nearby units.

Standoff in Egypt Reaching Epic Proportions. Dateline Cairo, 16 February 1940. Commonwealth, German, and Italian units continue to pour into Egypt, the various forces arrayed on either side of the mighty Nile river. New air forces have arrived for the British and Germans. Despite the buildup there have been exactly no engagements as the rival naval forces wrangle off the coast to establish dominance in the area. What will be the fate of this fair land? Will the Egyptians be liberated from their oppressors to join the Reich? Will justice prevail?

Soviet Leader in Scandal. Dateline Moscow, 19 February 1940. As the last of the show-trials wraps up in the Soviet Union, a new wrinkle has appeared in Russian politics. Olev Kautinsky, a member of the Politburo and trusted advisor to Jamesy Fruschetsky, the Soviet leader, was caught cavorting with Moldovan gypsies in an after-hours club in a small town near Odessa not far from the Bessarabian border. Tensions have been slowly escalating in the area and it is surmised that Kautinsky was touring the local front-line units in the district to improve military readiness. No statement has been released by the Soviet government. 

French Slowly Give Ground. Dateline Lille, 2 April 1940. Despite heavy casualties, the Wehrmacht is gaining ground in the war against France. A valiant counterattack from the trapped forces in Lille caused serious damage to the German line, although a counterattack immediately after the assault cleared the beleaguered city of French resistance. French forces elsewhere in northern France inflicted punishment in exchange for territory, but the German invaders are not to be denied.

Med Naval Battles Continue. Dateline Malta, 16 April 1940. The sight of British naval vessels coming and going from the port of Malta is a common one these days, as the Royal Navy runs round-the-clock operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus far the Brits have sunk several Italian cruisers, which are trying to establish and maintain supply lines to their forces in the Nile delta. "Air and sea battles are a weekly occurrence," said Admiral Floppyhat, the ranking naval officer in charge of the port of Malta. "Our lads are doing brilliantly!"

Axis Morale Sinks in the Face of Repeated Failures. Dateline El Alamein, 3 May 1940. For the third time in the past six months a major operation in Egypt has failed to produce results for the valiant Italian army. "The planning is there, but our troops are just not well-trained enough," commented General Antonio Resignini. Italian forces have penetrated into the Nile delta and taken the city of Alexandria - a far better performance than anyone had expected - but the elusive prize of the Suez canal eludes them. "With enough time and bodies, who knows, maybe we will take it in 1944,' sighed Gen. Resignini. "Morale is low - we need a victory!"

Axis Leaders Whine About Bad Karma. Dateline Berlin, 1 June 1940. "It is not fair," moaned Herr Goering, "Ve have the best army, but weather and weird luck are against us." The French have made exactly two attacks - both at 1:1 and at bad odds - and they both succeeded. "Ve have attacked Paris and other French positions at overwhelming odds and find nothing but freak occurrences that produce failure." Goering is referring to the serious casualties the Germans have taken in France, mostly as a result of high-odds attacks being paired with miserable performance in the field. The Marshall concluded the interview, however, on a positive note. "But ve shall continue until Europe is free of the diseases of democracy and communism... uh, I mean democracy. Ve love our friends the commies."

Allied Leaders Convene to Discuss War Strategy. Dateline London, 4 June 1940. An angry French general De Gaulle leapt the platform in the opening session of the joint war strategy talks, demanding why the British had 'abandoned France' when the battle plan called for the British Expeditionary Force to land in France early. "The loss of Paris is your fault and shall be a stain on your national history forever!" exploded the general. The British representative, General Gort, was riding around various parts Europe on a cruise and missed the meeting. He is currently vacationing off the coast of Spain, deciding whether to see the pyramids or perhaps just return home and defend England.

War in Spain! Dateline Madrid, 28 July 1940. Citing an uncooperative relationship and an unwillingness to press their claims on Gibraltar, the German government issued an ultimatum to General Franco in the early morning hours of 28 July. In what historians will no doubt come to list as a major blunder, Franco's communiqué agreeing to join the Axis in their just war against the evils of sham-democracy is mislaid for hours, causing the Spanish to miss the ultimatum deadline. German units pour across the Spanish-French frontier as a result. Frantic pleas for clemency fall on deaf ears as the foreign minister von Ribbentrop replies "We do not reward incompetence."

How are the Allies Controlling the &#$$@ weather? Dateline Berlin, 24 August 1940. Top German scientists are meeting in Berlin this week to discuss theories about how the Allied powers somehow seem to be controlling the weather. Prominent meteorologist at Humbolt University, Prof. Bernhardt Turnender, noted, "Every month when it looks like there will be more campaigning weather, the weather suddenly changes and the opportunity for more operations ceases. We cannot explain this." The results of the conference are classified.  

 

See-Saw War in N. Africa See Brits Push Back! Dateline Cairo, 29 September 1940. After a daring armored assault by the Italians under Marshall Graziani pushed Commonwealth defenders back and established a bridgehead across the Suez canal, a valiant British counterattack stopped the advance and pushed the Italians back across the waterway. "The bloody I-Ties did not know what hit them," said Lord Marshall Gort. The situation in Africa remains critical, however, as fierce naval battles continue to rage off the Egyptian coast to maintain supplies for both sides.

Perfidious Japanese Land Diplomatic Coup, Occupy Indo-China. Dateline 1 October 1940. The Emperor announced on state radio this morning that "The long French colonial occupation of Indo-China and exploitation of its people has finally come to an end. The Japanese people now warmly welcome their newly liberated friends in Indo-China into the Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." The speech was received with joyous applause in Hanoi at a a function sponsored by the Japanese embassy just as Japanese military units were unloading to protect the local population from French reprisals.

 

The Rock Crumbles and Falls! Dateline Gibraltar, 12 November 1940. In one of the most intense and bloody weeks of the war, combined German and Italian land, air, and naval forces have seized the lynchpin to the Mediterranean Sea. Brave British naval forces defied long odds against strong Italian and German flotillas to keep supplies flowing to the forces defending Gibraltar. Those supplies were not enough, however, as waves of German stuka-bombers relentlessly pounded and weakened the British forces defending the Rock. In the wee hours of 6 November General Guderian decided to launch an assault on the fortified British despite the inability of the Axis navies to isolate the garrison. Six days later after fierce fighting and heavy casualties, the last of the British defenders surrendered. The British fought bravely and nearly to the last man. Preliminary estimates indicate that the British suffered a 80% KIA rate, losing some 12,000 men. The Wehrmacht reports losses slightly higher at 14,000 men killed or wounded. Some British forces did escape across the straight to Tangiers, where early reports indicate that the British intend to try and hold the Er Rif to allow other British forces in the Med to escape.

Pride of Britannia Sunk! Dateline Gibraltar, 12 November 1940. Scrambling to evacuate the last units fleeing from the advancing Germans, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth - cruise liners converted into fast transports loaded with British soldiers and other personnel - made a run for home right before the port facilities were overrun. Fortune was not with the crew and passengers as the mighty Bismarck found the cruise-liners in the early morning hours of 12 November. A screen of cruiser and destroyers could not hold off the mighty ship, which sank both transports in less than ten minutes of combat after coming into the range of her huge main guns. A day of national morning has been declared by PM Churchill, who, in a tear-tilled speech, ended by saying, "Here in Britain, it must be said, we love our queens."

Suez Seized! Panic in N. African Command! Dateline Port Said, Egypt, 14 November 1940. Just days after the news of the Axis seizing Gibraltar, more bad news for the Allies. In the see-saw battle over the Suez canal, it is time for the Italians to strike a blow. They do, blasting a hole in the British lines and exploiting behind the beleaguered Allied forces. "The position is no longer tenable," said Lord Gort, "we must retreat, regroup, and fight another day. Stiff upper lip and all that, chop chop." The brave face presented by Gort was not repeated in the faces of the British soldiers this reporter saw. Months of heavy fighting and slowly being pushed back by the Italians has taken its toll on the morale and effectiveness of the British army.

 

Chinese Military Shake-Up: New Plan Instituted. Dateline Chungking, 2 January 1941. After a high-level meeting between Communist and Nationalist military leaders, a new military plan has been implemented. Noting recent worrisome developments on the western flank of the front against the Japanese, Mao and Kai-Shek have agreed to a major realignment of forces designed to shorten the front in the east and counter the new Japanese threat in the west. "If the Nationalists would do anything then we might win this war," General Mao was heard saying. Kai-Shek, who was in earshot, reportedly retorted, "Oh yeah, well you suck." Such high level exchanges are expected for several additional weeks.

Mighty Argus Starts New Coral Reef. Dateline London, 18 January 1941. In a brief but fierce battle in the high Atlantic, the light carrier Argus was sunk by German raiders in choppy seas. Bad weather made it impossible for the ship to launch planes, which allowed the Germans to close on the British task force undetected. The HMS Hermes was also damaged in the battle. "Meh, she was old and the sailors were too. We have more fancy new carriers now anyway," reported Admiral Sensitivity, in charge of convoy defenses in the Atlantic.

 

Dark Clouds Gather in Eastern Poland, German Military Buildup. Dateline Warsaw, 23 March 1941. The trains in Germany have been running day and night for the past several weeks as an unprecedented movement of troops has made Poland once again a hotbed of military activity. Not too far to the east, the trains in the Soviet Union are also busy, but the troops dispositions there are more of a mystery, with precise little information being released. Top advisors in His Majesty's government speculate that the love affair between Germany and the Soviet Union might be ending soon, but at least one spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous feared the worst. "There is some evidence that the Soviets might join the Axis in the war. That would be a disaster. We have agents trying to avoid this at all costs."

Italy Takes Levant. Dateline Jerusalem, 3 April 1941. Thousands of Christians and Moslems living in Palestine turned out today to witness the long lines of Italian troops march through the holy city. There was no unrest as basic services were transferred to the new Italian government, but there was no cheering as was witnessed in Egypt earlier in the year. Said one man on the street watching the columns of soldiers, "What do we care? One colonial overlord is as good as another. At least the imported food and wine should be better now."

MORE WAR! Dateline Berlin, Moscow, 4 May 1941. After weeks of intense covert work, British agents managed to convince Joseph "I'm not paranoid...much" Stalin to abandon talks with German foreign minister von Ribbentrop. In response to the insult, the German government declared war on the Soviet Union at 5am local time 4 May 1941. German planes, tanks, and soldiers poured across the Polish border. Caught by surprise at the move, Soviet forces are slow to react as Stalin refuses to believe that the invasion is real for six days. "What? Cancel my vacation plans? Do you know how hard it is to get a good reservation on the Black Sea these days?" Soviet forces, now on full alert, are resisting the invasion tenaciously.

Iraqis Pledge Lives for El Duce. Dateline Baghdad, 16 May 1941. After receiving promises of military support from the Italian government, Iraq has joined the war as an Axis ally, throwing off the oppressive yoke of British colonialism. The Italians have promised self-governance and a large share of the oil revenues. When asked why the Iraqis should share oil revenues with the Italians, the Oil Minister without portfolio in Mosul remarked, "Well, who else would we share it with? The French? Ha!"

 

Battle of Kiev Rages! Dateline Kiev, 4-16 July 1941. The Wehrmacht launched a major offensive to take the pocketed Soviet forces in and around the city of Kiev. The battle commenced at noon on 4 July, and fighting did not stop for twelve solid days. Casualties were said to be particularly high amongst the Rumanian forces to the west of the city. Elite German shock troops were brought in on the 13th and managed to oust General Zhukov's forces from a key industrial complex. German and Rumanian units then made steady progress, leading to the surrender of Zhukov on 16 July. It marks one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles since the war in Russia started nearly two months ago.

Dnieper Basin Falls to German Military, Moral Superiority. Datline Kharkov, 28 July 1941. Morale is said to be low in the Soviet military as they continue in a headlong retreat eastward towards the Urals. Occasionally German units catch up and pocket stragglers. Pamphlets and other forms of propaganda are having a serious effect on the Soviets, who read the Russian language leaflets and learn what they already suspect - that they are doomed. Defections and desertions are common and increasing across the front, despite mass executions by NKVD officers. One British observer grimly noted that, in his estimation, the Soviets might be killing more soldiers than the Germans. "This is no way to lose a war," he said.

Royal Command Upset over Interruptions in Tea Shipments. Dateline London, 30 July 1941. Even PM Churchill is said to be apoplectic about the interruption of vital tea from India and other points in the Commonwealth. Axis convoy raiding has suddenly become more effective, and at least three key convoys loaded with tea and biscuits have been scattered or destroyed in the past three weeks. "This is a national emergency," boomed Churchill, "without our tea and crumpets we cannot expect to look our enemies in the eye and not blink." When asked about the loss of the Suez, Gibraltar, Persia, and the imminent threats to India and South Africa, Churchill replied, "What? Who cares! We don't have our tea dammit! Are you mad, man?"

 

 

Soviet Capital Falls as Russians Flee! Dateline Moscow, 12 September 1941. An eerie calm has descended on the city of Moscow and the famous spires of the Kremlin shine in the fall sun without the sound of guns or bombs. Comrade Stalin has elected to abandon the capital city in order to form a new defensive line some 1500 kilometers to the east - well beyond the reach of the Wehrmacht. "This is a strategic withdrawal," said Marshall Zhukov, "we will return to set matters in order!" Field Marshall Rommel, in charge of the Moscow Front of the German Army was more calculating: "It is a gamble, as many things are in war. By leaving they save men and material, but grant us a rail hub and a strategic city from which to base our future operations. It was a bold decision, I salute the Soviets for making the decision boldly. The war is far from over."

Axis, Commonwealth Forces in Death Dance in Indian Ocean. Dateline Delhi, 28 September 1941. Italian and Commonwealth naval forces are engaging in a grim dance of move and counter-move in the Indian Ocean. The two battleships Littorio and Vittorio Veneto have been stalking the waters, defending Italian transports loaded with troops. IN response the Royal Navy has dispatched a carrier and several heavy cruisers. Despite several close calls, thus far there have been no major engagements, but the British are hopeful to bring the confrontation to a successful close in the near future. "We find those bugger I-ties just once and we'll show 'em," said Admiral Sideburn, leader of the British Indian Flotilla. "They don't know how to brew a cup of tea, and they don't know how to sail a ship!" There was no comment from the Italian Naval Command; they simply sent this news agency a list of British shipping that had been sunk over the past six months, including several hundred thousand tons of merchantmen and several cruisers.

 

Bloody Week in Soviet Union. Dateline Rostov, Sevastopol, 17 November 1941. After several weeks of bad weather, including  serious week-long storms unheard of in decades, the weather cleared over the steppes of Russia. The Wehrmacht was ready and launched well-timed assaults on major strongholds left behind the front lines on the Eastern Front. German units assaulted Sevastopol, Rostov, and two other pocketed Soviet corps. The fighting was bitter with heavy casualties on both sides. Despite losing more than 18,000 men dead and wounded, the German forces succeeded in taking the fortress of Sevastopol and the key port city of Rostov. Aside from Leningrad and Soviet forces in the Caucasus, no major Soviet strongholds remain in European Russia.

Japan Widens War! Dateline Tokyo, 7 December 1941. On 7 December 1941, a date that will be the cause for celebration for decades to come, the Emperor declared war on the Commonwealth, France, and their allies. Unfair British trading practices, the oppression of people in India, Burma, and other Asian colonies, and general snobbery finally compelled someone to act. That someone was Japan, who unleashed lightning attacks across the Pacific to free the downtrodden. Japanese marines were greeted with cheers and flowers near Calcutta as they disembarked from their landing ships. The strategic port of Rabaul was also seized as local British authorities there were imprisoned by native New Irelanders and then turned over to Japanese military units when they arrived. Malaya and the island of Singapore were similarly transferred to the control of the Japanese military and preparations are already underway to admit these nations and territories to the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. 

Greece Invaded. Dateline Athens, 8 December 1941. Overshadowed in the news by events in the Pacific, Field Marshall Manstein led six corps of crack German armor and infantry across the Bulgarian border into Greece in the early morning hours of 8 December. German Fliegercorps landed in the Dodecanese Islands and seized key airbases for the campaign. The Greek airforce, fearing confrontation, immediately flew their planes to neutral Turkey where they have been interned. Rumors abound that communists in Greece have already overthrown the government there and the German invasion was a reaction to this development.

Japanese Play Hide and Seek with American Spotters. Dateline Honolulu, 13 January 1942. The US Navy has undertaken a major effort to track the Japanese naval assets in the Pacific. In response, the Japanese have taken to 'hiding' from American spotters and trying to surprise them in an unusual informal kind of war game. "The Japanese commanders are wiley," said Lt. I. M. Soontodye, chief intelligence officer aboard the CV Ranger stationed at Pearl Harbor. "Strong naval forces have been seen around the Hawaiian Islands, Midway, and even off the west coast. Some days we find them, some days I am sure we don't, but it is kind of fun."

Turkey Joins Moral Majority. Dateline Ankara, 18 February 1942. Citing concerns about Allied war atrocities, especially after new evidence captured by the advancing German army in Russia has demonstrated that Soviet officials have been committing pogroms in the Caucasus, Turkey has joined the Axis powers and declared war on the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Greece. "Once we had proof that the Soviets were planning to attack Turkey, we had to act!" The statement, issued from the government information ministry in Ankara, is the latest in a series of indignant communiqués from capitals around the world as the Germans release official documents captured in Moscow. "We now know the depths of Soviet perfidy," said Minister Goebbels. "The Soviets had plans to dominate Europe, including Turkey, but also extending as far west as Yugoslavia and as far east as Japan. The world is fortunate; without this moral war against Bolshevism, their immoral designs would likely not have been thwarted."

American Warmongering Finally Prompts War. Dateline Washington D.C., 18 March 1942. Two marathon sessions of Congress produced close votes in the US Senate as the Americans discussed whether to enter the war in the Pacific. Both votes narrowly failed despite several three hour long harrangues by President Franklan "spelled 'an' dammit" Roosevelt to try and persuade the congressmen to vote for war. Evidence has leaked that the American president was planning to launch a phony attack on his own forces to prompt outrage and force the country to war. Learning of the perfidious plot, the Japanese ambassador requested an audience before the US Congress and in a surprisingly eloquent speech, laid out the plot with evidence. At the end of the speech the chamber was chilled to hear the ambassador's words: "Since it is now clear that the Americans will not stop even at killing their own people to provoke war, we will grant you your wish. The people of Japan, of Asia, and all freedom-loving moral people of the world, formally declare war on the United States of America." The US is at war with Japan. Many experts predict the war will widen to include Germany and Italy, but as of yet there has been no response from Berlin or Rome.

Italians in South Africa? Dateline Pretoria, 1 April 1942. In a message broadcast on the open airwaves, panicked South African coast watchers describe Italian marines landing not 250 kilometers from Capetown. The operation, now confirmed by the Italian Military Command, was shockingly successful, prompting some to speculate that there are Italian fifth-columnists in South Africa. The S.African defense corps is currently in Mozambique fighting some Italian territorial units but is expected to be recalled shortly.

Germans Smash into Oil Center of Baku. Dateline Rostov, 3 April 1942. The Wehrmacht this afternoon released information and pictures of their successful assault on the the city of Baku in the Caucasus region on Lake Caspian. The city is important as it is the leading oil producing center in the Soviet Union, accounting for nearly 70% of its total current oil production. Early morning air raids struck with stunning accuracy, enabling German panzers to strike blows with surgical accuracy. Casualties are reported to be light on both sides, although the Germans are now reporting having captured some 30,000 Soviet prisoners.