Game Session #1 - October 10, 2008

National Capital WiF


Preliminaries

The Players (Bids):
Stephen Budge: Germany (0)
Jon Williams: Japan & Italy (-2)
Pablo Frank: USA & CW (+2)
Christopher Askwith: USSR, France, China (all)(0)

Initial Victory Totals
Stephen -1.5
Jon +10
Pablo -6.5
Christopher -2

Optional/House Rules of Note

  • We are using a 0/1/1/2 version of Food in Flames.
  • We are using LoC Vichy.
  • We are using Stalin's War.
  • We are using the 2d10 Combat Table of Doom.
  • We are using Pablo's pay-per-impulse oil rule (modified from the Annual).
  • Note: We may decide to publish on this site a complete list of optional rules.

Game Session #1


Set-Up

31 August 1939
MEMORANDUM

FROM: NKVD-GUGB Directorate of Intelligence
TO: EYES ONLY - TOP SECRET - Comrade Stalin, Comrade Askwithovich

RE: Current Great-Power Military Dispositions

Great Stalin, Comrade Askwithovich,

Herein is a summary of the military dispositions of the seven Great Powers and China in advance of what we expect will be a major conflict arising from the German war against Poland.

1. United States of America

The principal arm of the United States' military is the Navy, which is split between Pacific and Atlantic fleets, located respectively in San Diego and Norfolk. The Americans have not built up their army, which is mostly concentrated in California for the garrisoning of their Pacific possessions. Some formations are known to be along the Atlantic seaboard. General MacArthur and his staff are serving in Manila in the Philippines, while Admiral Nimitz is stationed in San Diego with the Pacific Fleet.

Although public and Congressional attitudes are known to be decidedly isolationist, US President Roosevelt and his new Secretary of War Frank have been making efforts to galvanize American opinion against the Pact of Steel partners Germany and Italy [2 initial US entry chits] and against Japan [1 initial US entry chit].

2. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The main force of the Red Army is currently deployed along the frontier, under command of Field Marshal Timoshenko, with Rumania as part of our ongoing effort to restore to Soviet control the historic lands of the Tsars. Our recent agreement with Germany is, of course, also part of that effort. As our agents report that the Poles will mobilize mostly against the Germans, we have lighter forces prepared for the occupation of our promised area of Poland.

Out in the Soviet Far East, Field Marshal Zhukov commands our crack Siberian forces are along the northwestern frontier of Manchuria. Our Pacific sector is lightly defended. Most of the Red Army Air Force is deployed with the main Army in Europe, while our naval forces are divided between Leningrad, Sevastopol, and Vladivostok.

3. Italy

The Italian Navy, or Regia Marina, is deployed primarily in Trieste, including the fleet's troopships, although several submarine squadrons are known to be in La Spezia. The squadrons of the Regia Aeronautica - bombers, fighters, and seaplanes - are all deployed in Sicily. Italy's army, the Regio Esercito, is divided into three sectors: along the French border, along the Yugoslav border (concentrated in Trieste), and in Libya. Territorial forces are deployed in Italian East Africa along with a corps of regular infantry.

Our intelligence networks in Italy report that the Italian Commando Supremo has been in communication at high levels with the OKW. This is not unexpected, given the Pact of Steel signed by these two countries on 22 May of this year. This information is corroborated by data from our agents inside British and French intelligence agencies.

4. China

The Chinese are divided into two major factions: the Nationalists (KMT) and the Communists (CPC). They are mortal enemies and only the mortal threat of the Japanese invasion, ongoing since 1937, keeps them from fighting one another.

Chiang Kai-shek's KMT controls the National Revolutionary Army, which is deployed in a front stretching from Nanning, east to Changsha, and then stretching northwest to just south of Sian. NRA formations are also northwest of Sian. The KMT commands the loyalty of independent Chinese warlords in Chungking, Kunming and Chengtu. The KMT also controls the Chinese air force.

Mao's CPC controls the People's Liberation Army, which is deployed in two army groups. The first is in Sian, while the second is in the mountains several hundred kilometres to the north. The CPC commands the loyalty of a warlord and his troops based out of Lanchow.

5. United Kingdom, Dominions, and Empire

The British Army is mostly based in the United Kingdom itself, under the command of Lord Gort. Forces are stationed in Gibraltar, Malta, and Egypt (including Field Marshall Wavell) to defend those territories. India and Canada have their own army forces. Most Commonwealth units in the UK are stationed near troopships ready to deploy overseas. The Royal Navy is divided into various task forces: the Home Fleet and Force H in England, Med fleet in Gibraltar, and ABDA in Aden. Fighter, bomber, and air transport squadrons of the Royal Air Force are stationed in southeastern England. The Commonwealth's considerable merchant marine is deployed to ship raw materials, foodstuffs and goods to the United Kingdom for military and civilian use.

British timidity in the face of rising German power during the period 1936-1938 has played a large part in our decision to mend fences with Hitler and sign a non-aggression treaty to ensure the security of this Union. However, the German annexation of the rump Czech-Slovak state has stiffened their spines to match their upper lips. Despite his apparent desire to pursue peace at any price, it seems clear that current Prime Minister Chamberlain will follow through with the guarantee offered to Poland this past spring and ask Parliament to consent to war with Germany in the event of an attack.

6. France

France's Army, in accordance with plans drawn up in the event of a war with Germany, is principally deployed along the borders of France with Belgium (under command of General Georges), Germany (under the command of General Bilotte), and Italy. Army formations are also stationed in Algiers and Beirut, and territorial levies have been raised in Gabon, Syria and the Pacific island of New Caledonia. The French air force's squadrons are based in airfields around Metz, while the Marine Nationale has task forces in Best, Marseilles, and Beirut. The single French aircraft carrier, the Béarn, is based in Brest. It does not have its air component at the moment, as it is apparently due to set sail to the United States to pick up air units the French have purchased.

With the failure of their containment strategy against Germany since the Germans re-occupied the Rhineland, the French have generally followed Britain's lead politically during the Depression: in short, despite the on-again, off-again governance of Popular Fronts which are rife with our men, they have not been prepared to stand up to Germany. This, we suspect, is a consequence of the French exhaustion from the 1914-1918 war. The French are reluctant coalition partners in coalition with Britain, and morale is reported to be low among officers and men alike.

7. The Empire of Japan

The China Incident continues unabated, and the main part of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Terauchi Hisaichi, and most of its air forces are deployed in China as the Japanese continue their campaign. They are focused in the northern part of the country, and also occupy Canton. Japan's Marines and their primary naval commander, Fleet Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, are stationed in Japan itself. The notoriously independent Kwangtung Army, currently under the command of the normally moderate Umezu Yoshijiro, has recently deployed (unfortunately) in Manchuria along the frontier near Vladivostok. Another "Incident" in the works, perhaps before the onset of winter? Other IJA formations are guarding the northern Manchurian region.

The Imperial Japanese Navy is deployed in several fleets, including "Combined", "Advance", and "Strike". These fleets are stationed in Fukuoka. Our principal agent in Japan, Richard Sorge, reports that the IJN and Marines will be setting sail for the Sea of Japan, and soon…

Japanese diplomats and representatives from their Imperial General Headquarters have been liaising extensively with the German OKW. However, the internal conflicts between the Army, Navy, and civilian government mean that there is no apparent overall coordinated strategy, although it is likely the Japanese will press on in China whether or not the puruse a war with us. Japanese diplomats and representatives from the Imperial General Headquarters are liaising with their German counterparts. What is being discussed is not yet known. Our networks are investigating.

8. Germany

The Wehrmacht is deployed into Army Groups North (in East Prussia), Centre (in eastern Brandenburg and Pomerania) and South (in Silesia and Moravia), encircling Poland in preparation for the German invasion of that country. The German field commanders are Generals von Leeb, von Bock, and von Rundstedt. Light Wehrmacht forces are deployed along the Danish frontier. The Luftwaffe's squadrons are deployed to assist in the Polish campaign. The Kriegsmarine's surface fleet and troopships are harboured in East Prussia, while its submarines are in Kiel.

The OKW is known to be in close communication with Italy's Commando Supremo. Our agents report that some sort of joint German-Italian operation may be launched into Slovenia and Croatia this fall, especially if the Polish campaign proceeds as planned.

  • Note: Steve really likes to pull off the "No Bessarabia Gambit", even though he often conceals it by having the troops deployed against Poland's southern frontier.

September/October 1939

1 November 1939
MEMORANDUM

FROM: NKVD-GUGB Directorate of Intelligence
TO: EYES ONLY - TOP SECRET - Comrade Stalin, Comrade Askwithovich

RE: Summary of Political and Military Events, September 1 - October 31, 1939

Great Stalin, Comrade Askwithovich,

We have consolidated the events of the past two months, principally consisting of the opening of general war in Europe, the Vladivostok Incident, and the Taiyuan Offensive, into this summary.

Impulses this Game Session

Axis has initiative and goes first per scenario rules.

Axis 1
Weather 4 [automatic]
Ge land, Ja/It combined

Allied 2
CW naval, Fr/USSR combined, Ch mini-land, USA pass

Axis 3
Weather 5
Ge land, Ja/It combined

Allied 4
CW/Fr/USSR combined, Ch mini-land, USA pass

Axis 5
Weather 10
Ge/It naval, Ja pass

Allied 7
Fr naval, CW combined, Ch mini-land, USA/USSR pass

Axis 9
Weather 5
Ge/Ja land, It combined
Axis ends turn. Initiative shifts to +1 Axis

Summary

The Polish Campaign

At 4:45 AM on 1 September, German forces in their three Army Groups cross the Polish frontier. The German invasion, code-named Fall Weiss, is based on the three Army Groups encircling and destroying the Polish border defences, rapidly penetrating into the country's interior, and investing and assaulting their main cities of Lodz and Warsaw. Germany officially declares war later in the day, on the pretext that Polish forces had assaulted a radio station in Pomerania.

As the Poles were slow to mobilize, the majority of their forces were mustering in their cities as of the outbreak of war. Over the first few days, the Luftwaffe pins these forces in the cities, allowing the invaders to swiftly advance towards the Polish core. By 7 September, German forces from Army Groups North and Centre approach Lodz from the north, west, and southwest, and assault the city. The disorganized defenders are no match for the relatively well-rested and unhindered Germans, and the city is taken by 12 September with only light German losses [—/2S result].

Other Polish forces in Poznan along the western frontier were bypassed save for light screening forces, while a corps mustering in Krakow in the south was also easily crushed in the initial phase of the campaign. The rapidity of the Polish defeat may be attributed to a combination of surprise and the absence of their air force, giving the Luftwaffe complete air supremacy. The Polish air force was on exercises near Vilna, and due to a miscommunication was not ordered back to defend Warsaw or the rest of the country in time for the start of hostilities. While they are ordered to return to fight, the local air force commanders deem the situation hopeless, and instead direct their squadrons to fly to Estonia, where they are interned. Many pilots and ground crews make their way through the Baltic States, cross the Baltic via neutral shipping, and make their way through Scandinavia, Denmark, or the Low Countries to get to England.

With Lodz out of the way, the Wehrmacht continues to screen Poznan and encircled Warsaw by 18 September. The city is assaulted on 19 September, and taken by 26 September with stubborn but ultimately ineffective Polish resistance [—/2S result]. As this is going on, our own Red Army forces occupy the eastern portion of Poland, as per the secret clauses of the Nazi-Soviet pact. Surprisingly, this move generates little attention from official circles in the West [no entry chit]. The combination of the swift fall of Warsaw and the Red Army invasion leads to the rapid capitulation of the Polish government, although the Polish forces in Poznan do not stand down until the end of October.

The bad weather that arrived in early October slowed the German redeployment out of Poland for other campaigns, but it clears up later in the month and troop trains begin shipping German corps to the Western Front.

The "Phoney" War

When the Germans invaded Poland, Great Britain issued an ultimatum requiring that the Germans pull out of the country by noon 3 September. As this ultimatum is ignored, the British and the French both declare war on Germany on 3 September. Anglo-French action against Germany is slow to begin, which perhaps led to a certain degree of German complacency and explains why they were not prepared to deal with the outbreak of general war. Our agents also report that Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis had expected the Western powers to stand aside as they had with Czechoslovakia, and their confusion and befuddlement also contributes to the poor initial German reaction to the Entente's opening moves.

In any case, by 9 September the Entente begins striking: British bombers strike at the German forces in Schleswig-Holstein over several days, unopposed by Luftwaffe fighters, and cause immense disruption [1 corps flipped]. Our intelligence networks suggest that this may have significantly delayed a planned German invasion of Denmark. The Royal Navy, in the meantime, sets up a blockade in the North Sea.

The French air forces bombed Dusseldorf from 8-11 September, however their raids produced little tangible results aside from some burned-out homes. After being reorganized, they instead strike at Munich, with superior results, destroying key munitions factories and a nearby supply depot [1 pp & saved oil lost]. An effort by French cruisers to find and sink undefended German merchant shipping in the Baltic Sea until early October, when the sailing of the Kreigsmarine, ironically to protect their merchant ships from the French, results in an engagement in which the two French cruisers sink several tons of merchant shipping and damage an old German battleship before being chased off. They return home to celebrating crowds by 23 October [1 old BB damaged, 2 cp sunk, both Fr CA aborted].

The Mediterranean Theatre

Upon the outbreak of general war in Europe on 3 September, the greatest uncertainty was the position of Italy - would Mussolini jump into the war as an ally of Germany, or would he be content to remain neutral? The possibility of an early Italian intervention in the war sprung up with the deployment of division-laden cruisers and destroyers to the Eastern Meditteranean from Trieste first on 5 September and then on 18 September.

Surprisingly enough, the Anglo-French Entente, having recovered from their supine political positions of the Depression, take matters into their own hands. The Royal Navy deploys in an aggressive position in the central Mediterranean from 7-12 September, and by 23 September the British and French decare war on Italy. The whole world is surprised, and none more so than the Pact of Steel partners Germany and Italy (soon to be known colloquially as the Axis).

The British and French ambassadors delivered the notes advising Count Ciano of the state of war between their countries at 7:00 AM on 23 September. The Royal Navy's carrier air arm follows up at 11:30 AM with an air raid on the Regia Marina anchorage in Trieste, concentrating on Italy's troopships, causing severe damage to one squadron and light damage to another [1 TRS damaged, 1 aborted]. A British infantry division, shipped by a cruiser and its supporting destroyers, sails from Liverpool to the Western Mediterranean and lands, unopposed, in Sardinia on 3 October.

The Italians are not caught entirely unprepared. Their cruisers in the Eastern Mediterranean, discerning the Anglo-French forces attempting to close around them, strike first, and catch the Entente merchant shipping unawares and unprotected over the period 24 September - 6 October, before fleeing to Tobruk, anchoring there on 7 October and disembarking the troops who were stationed on them.

Attempting to strike back and recover, the Italian army commander Graziani, stationed in Trieste, uses his reserve supplies and staff effort to reorganise the remaining Italian troopships and get them ready for service [TRS reorganized] while the RM sets sail and spreads throughout the Mediterranean in an effort to do battle with the perceived weaker Anglo-French forces in the perimeter. These efforts are mostly in vain, as French and RN forces converge in the Western Mediterranean, finding and sinking two Italian cruisers in a series of engagements from 16-20 October.

In the meantime, Canadian troops set sail from Halifax to disembark in the Sardinian city of Caligari on 21 October after the initial wave of British invaders occupies the city. The Italians attempt to reinforce Olbia, in the north of the island, by running the RN blockade, but this fails ignomiously as the RN battleships intercept and destroy the laden troopships [TRS sunk with MOT aboard] on 24 October. British mechanized forces at sea in the Bay of Biscay are carried to Caligari, where they disembark by 30 October.

The only other event of note is French strategic air raiding of Trieste from 17-22 October, which results in little effect other than general damage [no result].

The Yugoslav Campaign and the Balkans

As discussed in an earlier summary report, it was believed that a German campaign against Yugoslavia was being prepared this fall upon the conclusion of the Polish campaign. The rapid collapse of Polish resistance apparentlysped up the German timetable, for on 19 September Hitler delivered a belligerent speech in the Reichstag condeming Yugoslavia for being an "Anglo-French" puppet (Yugoslavia did have some attachment to France as part of the defunct "Little Entente") and declaring that Germany would extinguish the Yugoslav state.

The Yugoslavs hurriedly mobilize. With more time than the Poles had, they deploy their army forward in the rough terrain in the Slovenia-Croatia region while Prince Paul and some additional forces remain in Belgrade. This turns out to be a wise decision, for soon after, on 21 September, Rumania announces that it is joining the war against Yugoslavia as a partner of Germany - and by extension it is at war with Britain and France.

Army Group South in Poland was quickly turned around and marched for Yugoslavia, crossing into Slovenia and engaging Yugoslav defenders north of Zagreb by 24 September. Although they clear the Yugoslavs from their positions by 30 September, it is not without cost [1/2S result]. After the storms in early October stall the offensive, it resumes in late October as the weather breaks, and the Italians join in, marching to secure the rail lines from Pola to Trieste (which pass through Yugoslavia) by aiding the Germans in assaulting Yugoslav forces holding the rail lines [—/2S result] from 21-27 October.

For their part, the Rumanians advance into eastern Yugoslavia to menace Belgrade and seize resource-rich portions of the country. They do not adequately control their rear areas, though, and large-scale armed bandits mixed with loyalist partisans emerge there during the final days of October [partisan there in end-of-turn].

Our own plans to demand the territory of Bessarabia are thrown by the Rumanian's decision to go in with Germany - although perhaps that was in part spurred by our own aggressive posture along the border. Other measures are briefly considered, especially with a division-laden cruiser in the Black Sea, but are abandoned in the bad weather that overtakes the region from mid-September through the end of October [rain and storm in the Arctic most of the turn]. As making a claim on Bessarabia would likely risk war with Germany, for which we are quite unprepared, the decision to proceed is deferred, perhaps indefinitely.

Battle of the Atlantic

During the early days of the war, as part of its convoy defence plan, the Royal Navy deploys cruisers, light carriers and battleships to protect the vulnerable convoys of merchant ships sailing into and out of British ports.

Initially, there is no apparent menace to Entente merchant shipping. However, as bad weather stalls the German Army and Italy is dragged into the war, the OKW's attention turns to the sea lanes and Britain's lifelines. German and Italian submarine flotillas set sail and patrol throughout the Atlantic from 3-28 October, with all forces returning home by 31 October. A Kriegsmarine surface fleet sails to the seas past the Faroes' Gap, through the British blockade, in an effort to sink British convoys, also returning to Kiel by 31 October.

The U-boats meet with some successes, sinking French convoys [1 cp sunk] running up the Portugese coast, and, while hovering around Liverpool attempting to intercept British troopships sailing to the Mediterranean, instead catching Commonwealth merchant ships coming up from the south unawares and doing serious damage [3 cp sunk, 3 aborted from Bay of Biscay].

The Vladivostok Incident

On 2 September, Japanese troopships, carrying their Marines, set sail for the South China Sea. Our military planners believe this precludes an attack on the Soviet Far East this fall, but Richard Sorge warned on 4 September that the Japanese carrier and battleship fleets remain in Fukuoka, ready to deploy.

The Kwangtung Army, like all Japanese field armies distressingly independent from Imperial General HQ (and hence the civilian government), crossed the frontier on 16 September into the Soviet Far East, claiming that they were reacting to a Red Army attack on Manchurian railways. Unusually for an IJA operation, the IJN was willing to support this attack (perhaps owing to the residual influence of the Kodoha faction), and their battleships bombarded Vladivostok as the Kwangtung Army descended upon the city and its vastly outmanned defenders. The attack began on 22 September, and the city fell by 28 September [—/2S result]. Some Soviet submarines were scuttled while others were able to fleet to one of the lesser ports along our Pacific coast [1 sub sunk, 1 flees].

Red Army reserves were hastily deployed to other cities in the Far East to prevent a similarly easy fall. However, IGHQ and the Japanese civil government immediately began to reign in the Kwangtung Army and a team of diplomats was sent to negotiate a cease-fire and peace settlement. To complicate matters, however, the Kwangtung Army refused to accept any peace terms that did not allow them to retain Vladivostok. However, bad weather stalled any further advances, and once it cleared up in mid-October, a bargain had been struck. As the Red Army's main forces were deployed in the distant north, there no prospect of Red Army Air Force assistance in strength, and a protracted war against Japan was viewed to be too detrimental to maintaining our defences in Europe, the decision was made by the Great Stalin to concede Vladivostok and its environs [hexes 2740, with the resources, and 2841] to the Japanese. This was well beyond what Japanese negotiators had expected to get, and they agreed with no further demands [technically, it was Japan that "forced the peace" using our house rule to get these hexes, having seized Vlad]. The peace treaty ending the Vladivostok Incident was signed on 29 October [USSR & Japan come to peace, non-aggression treaty begun]. Red Army reserves are stood down by 31 October.

The Taiyuan Offensive

The Japanese "Incident" in China continued, though abated by their campaign against us. Japanese air forces bombed People's Liberation Army positions in the mountains west of Taiyuan from 3-8 September with no discernable effect. There was no further offensive activity against China until 19 October. In between, the PLA stood in place, while the KMT shuffled some of their units around after perceiving no potential Japanese threat until November at the earliest.

When the IJA resumed its offensive in China, it again bombed the PLA positions west of Taiyuan from 19-21 October, this time achieving results [1 corps flipped]. IJA forces already in place launched a headlong attack from 22-29 October, using surprisingly mobile tactics for the rough terrain [Chinese call a blitz]. The PLA were dislodged from their positions while executing a fighting withdrawal, causing moderate losses [1/R result] to the attackers, who all had to cross rivers as well as advance into the mountainous terrain.

The United States

The German invasion of Poland is denounced vehemently by Roosevelt in Congress [+1 entry chit], as is their attack on Yugoslavia [+1 chit]. Surprisingly, the Red Army's occupation of Eastern Poland generates little notice in the West [no entry chit lost]. However, islationist factions do strengthen their position in the aftermath of the British and French declarations of war against first Germany [-1 chit] and then Italy [-1 chit], the latter no doubt due to the outrage of America's substantial Italian expatriate community. The Americans' inherent anti-Communist sentiment also attenuates their anti-Japanese sentiment during the Vladivostok Incident [no entry chit gained].

Admiral Nimitz is redeployed to the American naval base in Pearl Harbour (Honolulu) on 1 October.

The French carrier Béarn, relegated to shuttling French-purchased aircraft from the United States to France, is interned by the Americans while in harbour in New York on 31 October [US interns French CV during USE phase, replace it with TRS]. Perhaps due to its obsolescence, the French do not object strenuously [no tension] although they do demand a refund on their aircraft purchases and the return of the French sailors and aircrews.

End of Turn

Production
Germany 14 bp; Japan 13 bp; Italy 2 bp. Axis total 29 bp.
USA 11 bp; CW 9 bp; USSR 7 bp; China 5 bp; France 4 bp. Allied total 36 bp.

Convoys Sunk - Running Total
CW 5, France 2, Germany 2

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