This time with pictures, but it is still mud, slush and rain on the Eastern Front.
J/F 1944 CLEAR SKIES
The start of a New Year, 1944 starts with the Axis having won the initiative last week and having rolled a 1 +1 (2) for very moderate J/F weather - mostly rain, fine in the Med and N Monsoon. GERM and Italy take Combines with Japan taking a land. Secure under the cover of rain the GERM sends a Conv into the Baltic to supply the OOS units in Norway – Allies naval units fail their search. The GERM Raider, the Kormoran HSK-8 searched off the coast of the US, finding and damaging 3 unescorted Allied Convs. German and Italian acft flew out to the Italian Coast and the E Med to provide air cover to the axis shipping. The Italian Subs sail and search in three sea zones but only find in the N Atlantic, but a soft split sees only 3 CW Convs damaged. Searches by the Allies in the E Med and off the Italian Coast triggered by Axis reinforcements fail to find the Axis Convs. Japan takes a land and commence an orderly withdrawal northward in order to shorten up their lines as the Chinese build-up continues. Impulse marker advances two.
Allies 1st Impulse and Russia takes an Air and launches a sweeping GS using Arty and Acft, luck is with the Axis as their AA do not roll less than 4’s and 5’s on ALL their dice, two sets of lowest 1 of 4/6 – impressive shooting by the gunners of the Reich. In a reversal of recent trends in the air, two Russian acft – a 7 Ftr and 5 Sturmovick are shot down by the Luftwaffe for no loss – it would seem that the Luftwaffe has been practicing their dice rolls over Christmas. Further disappointment for the Russian as nearly all the GS fail with a paltry 2 x GERM units inverted for over 20 dice rolls. Surviving Acft return to base and 7 are-reinverted by Russian HQs to ‘try again’ next impulse. A lone Russian strat bomber successfully targets Lodz. The US take a Naval and Land spending 11 O-points. They sail ships to cover convoys, ship reinforcements to the UK and N Africa, their fleet sails again into the Baltic and acft fly into multiple sea zones to support naval operations, with a main effort in the W Med. The CW took a Combined to support European operations, specifically flying air and sailing a fleet into the N Sea. No response to the massed Allied air effort in the W Med or the N Sea. The US searches in the E Med, off the Italian coast but fail to find, but in the Baltic the Russian finds the GERM supply Conv and sinks it – Norway again OOS. The CW GS axis land units in Egypt, Algeria and Norway and fail all attempts. The US inverts one of the defenders in Algiers and declare an attack against the city. Rolling well all the defenders are eliminated with a TOTT roll – Algeria is now liberated – onto Tunisia.
In the Pacific the US finally invade Truk, the first contested Pacific Island Invasion for the US and it is a minor disaster. Despite a +11 assault and a single defender, the roll is below average (8 – well predicted by the GERM) for 2/2 loss, with the US losing HQ Nimitz and a Div in the attack for the loss of the Japanese GAR and then the Coastal defences sink the BS Arizona as it failed its save. However, Truk is now in US hands and will be a handy Major port in the Central Pacific. Not to be outdone the Chinese launce two attacks, the first against the old Capital Peking, at low odds +4.5 but roll well and take the city for the loss of one unit, the second attack in the South against two inverted Japanese defenders is a blood bath as both sides loose two corps each, a less than friendly result – the Chinese were happy to take the exchange as they gain Cadre points and can replace the losses which the Japanese can ill afford to do so. The Impulse marker advanced two.
Axis 2nd Impulse and the weather improves against the odds (1 in a 100) and everyone’s expectation, as the Italian rolled a second 1 - rain in the Artic and fine everywhere else! Not the roll the Axis wants, worse the impulse marker now only advances 1, setting up a potential for a longer turn for J/F. This benefits the Allies, certainly the bonus clear weather does and the opportunity for a longer turn. The GERM takes a land to readjust and reinforce their Russian front line, especially in Romania where the weather zone is temperate and unseasonably fine. The ‘Gustav’ fires again and this time success!, inverting the entire adjacent Russian 3 Unit stack - this will help significantly reduce the Russian ‘fine weather’ attack options. Rail movements see units sent back to Italy, including Rome now that the N African campaign is ending. In the E Med the Italians take a combined and sail out its Tpt evacuating a valuable 7.1 WP Garrison from Benghazi recognising that the Allies are advancing along the N African coast ‘at the rapid rate’ and that the GAR will be better off relocating to and defending in Europe. The Allies get excited as they search and get a 1 – 9 split in their favour. However, with only a single US CA in the 3 box, the shifts cannot get an X or D on the Tpt so they elect to fight the Axis Air. Marginal success as they only shoot down a single NAV the Bv float plane, but in the process have all their own NAVs aborted by the Axis air – 11 and 12’s on the A2A table will do that. Bad news for the lone US CA Louisville as the second round of combat sees the Axis find the CA and it is sunk by the GERM and Italian Nav’s – she failed 2 x D’s a save would have avoided the sink.
In the Far East, Japan takes a second land to reorganise and continue its march North taking advantage of being in supply and the bonus fine weather – the retreat of the Japanese National Army has begun in earnest. The loss of Peking has straightened their line, but the Chinese have a head of steam and are now one hex away from the coast and sense that 44 will be the year that sees their country liberated!
Allied 2nd Impulse, the CW declares a Naval and Land spending 10 O-Points, it sails its naval units to cover convoys and reinforces the N Sea. In the Med, the ABDC fleet sails from Gibraltar and marries up with the Med fleet to challenge Axis units in the E Med 2 box. In the Pacific, the CW transports units from Australia to Singapore to assist with the clearing of the Malaysian peninsular. Russia will take a land – pondering whether to declare a land offensive using Zhukov and the US will take a Land and Air as the clear skies open opportunities to port strike, strategically bomb and GS using its ever-increasing air force. Photos show the incomplete 2nd impulse as the Allies advance into Tunisia and Sardinia – The CW will declare an attack against Oslo as the fine weather will see it liberated – but they will wait for the results of the US GS phase to see if the GERM HQ gets inverted or whether it elects to provide emergency supply to the isolated defenders.
The Russian Front
Army Group North - still raining
Army Group south - Still mostly raining - Stalin demands an offensive.
Norway - OOS and under pressure as the clear weather
gives the CW an excellent chance to liberate Oslo.
The W Med - Allied land forces advance to Tunisia and Sardinia
E Med - the next battle ground as the Royal Navy challenges Axis domination
The Pacific - Truk in US hands as the last Japanese stronghold is taken
Fine weather oops - not what the Japanese wants - awaiting the US response
Losses mixed bag - but Japan is hurting badly - compounded by their small build