Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Operation Mercury

I took the allies and Richard took the axis side in this boardgame which took us some twenty hours or so to complete in about four or five sessions, not counting set up which Richard did.

After playing the boardgame solo last year, I took the position that the allies could not hold the island and made plans to evacuate from very early on.  Perhaps I could have done more at Maleme, but felt constrained by the need to hold back the Suda force.  At Retimo we wiped out the paratroops and we put up a hard fight at Heraklion, before withdrawing across the length of the island to Sfakia where the rest of the army gathered to withdraw.

I was about a day ahead of schedule.  The Royal Navy had done some excellent shore bombardment supporting the defence of the airfields and also intercepted some German convoys before they caught the attention of the Luftwaffe.  It was tricky going and a number of destroyers were lost and many ships ran out of ammo.

Finally it came time to embark and the main Task Force with the transports had done well to position itself, but the Luftwaffe found them and did dreadful damage, sinking them all bar one which was left damaged.  Luckily there was enough capacity on the remaining destroyers and cruisers to pick up the army and get them to safety.

A final dash was made for the remaining troops and while the Luftwaffe put everything into it.  However, the arrival of additional capital ships including an aircraft carrier and the fact that the Royal Navy was acting in waters that the RAF could at least provide some air cover meant they were unsuccessful (as well Richard threw a series of tens which meant fleets went undetected, attacks were uncoordinated and the few planes that got through missed their targets).  Only two companies of infantry were left behind and they took to the mountains.

In the end, it was the loss of the transports that gave the Germans their substantive victory.  The loss amongst the paratroops had been very high.

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