After having successfully transported the AARs from the old Forumini site - manually - , now we're in the Photobucket Debacle. I don't think that I'm ready to upload every pic from harddrive to another webhosting site, copy the links and paste them in the 90 AARs. And maybe discover that this new site does Photobucket me again.
For the time being I'll leave things as they are. Maybe Photobucket makes a smart move, maybe there's an easy solution, we'll see.
Anyhow, new AARs will keep appearing, including pictures, but not through PB.
By December 1943, the tide had turned against Germany. The Battle of the Atlantic had been lost, and the Allies had Arctic convoys ferrying substantial war supplies round the North Cape – Norway’s most northern point – to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel.
Battleship Scharnhorst was the Kriegsmarine's only operational heavy ship present in the northern Atlantic. Home Fleet commander-in-chief Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser wanted to neutralize the Scharnhorst, which had attacked British convoys on numerous occassions. He decided to increase the escort to the convoys and prepare a confrontation with the German battleship.
On 22 December 1943, a Luftwaffe aircraft sighted the British Russia-bound convoy JW 55B and commenced shadowing. Three days later, Scharnhorst, with Rear Admiral Erich Bey and accompanied by several Narvik-class destroyers, sailed to intercept the convoy, believing it to be sparsely protected. In reality, JW 55B, consisting of 19 cargo vessels and 8 destroyers, was sailing as bait, hoping to lure out Scharnhorst into Fraser's trap.
Meanwhile, Fraser was notified that the convoy had been sighted by enemy aircraft. Commanding from the powerful battleship Duke of York and accompanied by the cruiser Jamaica with four destroyers (Force 2), Fraser steamed to cut off Scharnhorst from her base. At the same time, Admiral Sir Robert Burnett departed Murmansk in flagship HMS Belfast, with the cruisers Norfolk and Sheffield (Force 1), in order to protect the convoy.
On 26 December, in poor weather and heavy seas and with only minimal Luftwaffe reconnaissance to aid him, Rear Admiral Bey was unable to locate the convoy. Thinking he had overshot the enemy, he detached his destroyers and sent them southward to increase the search area. The now unescorted Scharnhorst encountered Burnett's Force 1 shortly after 09:00. At a distance of nearly 13,000 yd (12,000 m), the British cruisers opened fire and Scharnhorst responded with her own salvoes.
For the replay of this dramatic battle, I once again met Pendragon68. He had prepared a 200 points force for the German side of the battle:
while I came up with these units to represent the Royal Navy's units:
We played a standard W@S scenario with three objectives.
After some maneuvering in turn 1; during 2nd turn, the combined Allied flotilla placed several hits on Scharnhorst, Z29 and Z38. Although screened by a squall, all German concealment rolls failed. In return, Scharnhorst alpha-striked all guns she had, vitalling Sheffield, Savage AND killing Samaurez in one big BOOM. In a single salvo, the British flotilla was as good as halved! In the next turn, a tormented Duke of York landed no less than 10 hits on Scharnhorst, which – can you believe it – still counted as 1 measly point of damage. This time, Scharnhorst missed her return fire on the DoY, but three cooperating Z-numbers sank the unfortunate Belfast, which took the Z38 with her.
So, at the end of turn 4, the British were down to 1 single ship, while Germany scored its first objective. In turn 4, Scharnhorst and Duke of York exchanged fire, but both missed their mark; Duke of York even managed to jam her mount. Z34 floated into one of her own mines, but scored the second objective for Germany all the same. All torpedoes missed.
(in the back, Germany scores 2nd objective)
The next turn, apparently ignoring her jammed mount, DoY rolled a '6' on six of her dice, vitalling Scharnhorst. With her secs, DoY sank Z29, while her torpedo defense absorbed 2 torp hits from U-314. It almost looked as if the tide was turning. There was still a small possibility at victory for the Royal Navy: sink all Germans!
In turn 6, Z30 was fatally hit. Even though Duke of York received another duo of torpedo hits and went into crippled shape, now only one German destroyer was left (and the U-314 of course). By sinking this last ship, the Royal Navy would be emerging victorious! Then, Deus ex Machina, the supernateral intervened. A squall slowly moved in between the Duke and the Z34; the crippled Duke was too slow to run clear of the shower, so she couldn't target the Z34. For the sneaky U-314 though, she wasn't hindered by the squall at all and put 2 torps in the Duke of York's side, finishing the scenario.
(screened Z34 in the back, rascal U-314 with 2 torp hits in front)
An Axis victory!
While no hits were scored on the British cruisers, the German battleship was struck twice, with one shell destroying the radar controls and leaving Scharnhorst virtually blind in a mounting snowstorm. Without radar, gunners aboard the German battleship were forced to aim at the enemy's muzzle flashes. Bey, believing he had engaged a battleship, turned south in an attempt to distance himself from the pursuers and perhaps draw them away from the convoy.
Once he had shaken off his pursuers, Bey turned northeast in an attempt to circle round them. Burnett, instead of giving chase in sea conditions that were limiting his cruisers' speed, positioned Force 1 so as to protect the convoy. Shortly after noon Scharnhorst approached the cruisers once more. As fire was again exchanged, Scharnhorst scored hits on Norfolk, disabling a turret and her radar. Following this exchange, Bey decided to return to port, while he ordered the destroyers to attack the convoy at a position reported by a U-boat. The reported position was out of date and the destroyers missed the convoy.
Scharnhorst ran south for several hours. Burnett pursued, but both Sheffield and Norfolk suffered engine problems and dropped back, leaving Belfast dangerously exposed for a while. The lack of working radar aboard Scharnhorst prevented the Germans from taking advantage of the situation, allowing Belfast to reacquire the German ship on her radar set.
Meanwhile, the battleship Duke of York, with her four escorting destroyers already pressing ahead to try to get into torpedo launching positions, had been informed of Belfast's contact and they themselves soon picked up Scharnhorst on radar, followed by Duke of York which opened fire and scored a hit on the first salvo. Bey was able to put some more distance between Scharnhorst and the British ships to increase his prospects of success. His ship's fortunes took a dramatic turn for the worse when a shell fired by Duke of York at extreme range pierced her armour belt and destroyed the No. 1 boiler room. Scharnhorst's speed dropped and the battleship was now vulnerable to torpedo attacks by the destroyers.
From now on, Scharnhorst suffered several torpedo hits, even while Scharnhorst's secondary armament scored some hits on the destroyers in return. Due to the torpedo hits, Scharnhorst's speed again fell, allowing Duke of York to rapidly close the range. With Scharnhorst illuminated by starshells, Duke of York and Jamaica resumed fire, later to be joined by Belfast. The British vessels subjected the German ship to a deluge of shells, and the cruisers Jamaica and Belfast fired their remaining torpedoes at the slowing target. Scharnhorst's end came when the British destroyers Opportune, Virago, Musketeer and Matchless fired a further 19 torpedoes at her. Wracked with hits and unable to flee, Scharnhorst finally capsized and sank at 19:45 on 26 December, her propellers still turning. Of her total complement of 1,968, only 36 were pulled from the frigid waters. Neither Rear Admiral Bey nor Scharhorst's Captain Hintze were among those rescued. Fraser ordered the force to proceed to Murmansk, making a signal to the Admiralty: "Scharnhorst sunk", to which the reply came: "Grand, well done".
The battle was the last between big-gun capital ships in the war between Britain and Germany. The British victory confirmed the massive strategic advantage held by the Royal Navy, at least in surface units.
It's been quite a while, but here is another replay AAR. In the mean time, we somehow managed to skip the battle report of the Allied invasion of Italy's mainland. I hope to bring that to you sometime later.
The four days of Naples 27 - 30 September 1943
With the Allied advance in southern Italy, anti-Fascists in the Naples area began to establish closer contacts with the Allied commanders, and requested Naples' liberation. From 8 September 1943, the day in which the Cassibile armistice came into force, the Italian Army forces in the area drifted toward Naples. The situation in Naples soon turned into chaos, with many higher Italian officials deserting the city, followed by Italian troops. In the days following the armistice, the more or less organized episodes of intolerance and armed resistance toward the German occupiers in Naples intensified.
On 12 September, numerous German soldiers were killed on the streets of Naples, while about 4,000 Italian soldiers and civilians were deported for forced labor. An announcement of the prefect on 22 September decreed compulsory labor for all men from 18–33 years of age and set their forced deportation to work camps in northern Italy and Germany. The population refused to collaborate and rose up. The same day, Colonel Walter Schöll assumed command of the military occupiers in the city, declaring a curfew and a state of siege, with orders to execute all those responsible for hostile actions against German troops, and up to 100 Neapolitans for every German killed.
Following the indiscriminate executions, the looting, the mopping up of the civilian population and the destruction of war spurred spontaneous rebellion in the city, without external organization. On 22 September, the inhabitants of the Vomero quarter managed to capture ammunition from an Italian artillery battery, while on 25 September 250 rifles were stolen from a school. In response to this, starting from 26 September, an unarmed crowd poured into the roads against the Nazi roundups, freeing young people from deportation. The rioters were joined by some former Italian soldiers who had kept themselves hidden so far. On 27 September, large parties of German troops captured about 8,000 Neapolitans, while 400-500 rioters began armed attacks against them, starting the Four Days of Naples.
With a scenario of urban combat to play, both Pendragon and I felt comfortable to do Naples with the hexless AAM rules. Each side got 100 points to fill, with another 50 points of reinforcements to arrive at turn 3. The scenario was to take 7 turns, with no less than 5 objectives spread across several points of interest. Pendragon was willing to play the Napoli insurgents, proxying the enraged citizens with (oh the irony) Werwolf models:
I played a numerical minority of German occupiers:
The Germans set up shop close to their 'home objective' in/around one of the more capital buildings (of course).
The majority of the Italian rebels deployed outside of a just-plundered weapons depot. After rolling for initiative, the Four Days of Naples had started!
The Italians were quick to occupy the neighbouring buildings and put a MG team in top of a building overseeing the central plaza and also put some partisans in the church tower.
In respons, the Germans put a spotter in cover at the plaza, directing indirect mortar and leichtes Infanteriegeschütz fire at these strategic locations. The Italian MG team was easily killed, but only to be replaced by another team. This second team appeared a lot harder to dislodge. If fact, it managed to remain in that exact same spot for the remainder of the scenario, harrassing any Germans appearing in their sights, of which the German spotter was the first to fall.
(German spotter scanning buildings for rebel MG teams)
(Italian Breda MGs eyeballing Venus)
After these initial ranged skirmishes, reinforcements started to arrive. The Italians were helped by the first batch of Allied troops to arrive at Naples, while the Germans brought in more armored units.
(British arrive at Naples' suburbs)
Italian partisans employed a technique of 'building hopping', circumventing the dangerous central plaza in an improvised pincer movement. Offering the Germans a target overload, they evaded most of the inaccurate German fire, taking up comfortable positions in buildings close to the 'ruins' and 'fountain' objective.
(Italian resistance in overwhelming numbers close to the Roman remains)
A swiftly moving Sd Kfz 251 brought a veteran infantry-team into a building, somewhere inbetween the orchard and ruins. Orders: hold your ground against anything that comes at you. The Italian insurgents took their time destroying the 251, almost forgetting the veteran which remained unscathed in the building. Helped by a MG 42 MG Team in the same building, the Germans checked an approaching British Carrier and its passengers, neutralizing both. The German MG team fell in the process, but the experienced infantry held its crucial position until the very end.
(Vet infantrymen to the left, at the back, checking the Italian uprising)
Two allied Dingo cars sped into the olive orchard, hoping to gain a foothold close to the central objective. At the same time, the orchard was infiltrated by a couple of Mauser toting German soldiers. After some defensive fire exchange, the two Dingos were fixed in place and next fell to German close assault. This action, together with presence of the resilient German veteran in the overseeing building, brought the central 'orchard' objective in firm German control.
(Dingos gone to the dogs)
Hoping to also capture the nearby 'fountain' objective, the German Mausers in the orchard advanced toward this ancient structure. The Italians weren't that easy to surprise, though. A multitude of rebels, including a Brixia mortar team and now supported by a couple of Bren teams, had already taken foothold in vicinity of the fountain and church. Over the duration of the game, they withstood attacks by a Panhard armored car, a Wespe, a mortar team and whatnot. No matter what they threw at the rebels, the Germans were unable to get close to the fountain, leaving the objective in possession of the proud Italians.
(British and Italian churchgoers)
The result of this all was that the scenario would be decided over possession of the objective at the Roman ruins. Using the building-hopping technique, the Italians had already placed several teams in and around the classic remains. In cover of the ruins, the partisans appeared to be rather safe against German artillery fire at range. In order to dislodge the rebels from their strategic position, the German commander sent a StuG to the objective. Although the StuG parked itself next to the ruins, it was unable to clear the landmark of rebels and safeguard the objective. At the end of the scenario, the objective was still contested, setting the score at 2-2.
On 27 September, one of the first outbreaks of fighting occurred in the Vomero quarter, where a group of armed men stopped a German car and killed the German NCO driver. During the day, fierce fighting followed in different areas of the city between the insurgents and German soldiers. A group of 200 insurgents assaulted the weapons depot in Castel Sant'Elmo, which was captured in the evening. Next, more weapons stores were attacked and plundered.
On 28 September, the fighting increased after more Neapolitan citizens joined the riot. In the Materdei district, a German patrol, which had taken shelter in a civil building, was surrounded and kept under siege for hours, until the arrival of reinforcements. At Porta Capuana, a group of 40 men—armed with rifles and machine guns—set up some kind of roadblock, killing six enemy soldiers and capturing four. The Germans launched other raids, amassing numerous prisoners inside the Campo Sportivo del Littorio.
On the third day of the riot, the streets of Naples witnessed fierce clashes. In Giuseppe Mazzini Square, a substantial German party reinforced by tanks attacked 50 rebels, killing 12 and injuring more than 15 of them. The workers' quarter of Ponticelli suffered a heavy artillery bombardment, after which German units committed several indiscriminate massacres among the population. Other fighting took place near the Capodichino Airport and Piazza Ottocalli, in which three Italian airmen were killed. In the same hours, at the German headquarters at Corso Vittorio Emanuele (which was repeatedly attacked by insurgents), negotiations were started between Schöll and the Italians for returning the Campo Sportivo prisoners in exchange for the free retreat of the Germans from Naples.
On 30 September, while the German troops had already begun the evacuation of the city before the arrival of Anglo-American forces from Nocera Inferiore, Antonio Tarsia in Curia—a high school teacher—proclaimed himself head of the rebels and assumed full civil and military powers. The fighting did not cease, and the German guns in the Capodimonte heights shelled the area between Port'Alba and Piazza Mazzini for the whole day. Other fighting occurred in the area of Porta Capuana. The fleeing Germans left behind them fires and massacres, including the burning of the State Archives of Naples, which caused great loss of historical information and documents. At 09:30 on 1 October, the first Allied tanks entered the city. At the end of the day, the German retreat from Naples was complete.
Statistics for the four days of Naples vary: according to some authors, 168 rioters and 159 unarmed citizens were killed; according to the post-war Ministerial Commission for the recognition of partisan victims, casualties amounted to 155, while the registers of the Poggioreale cemetery listed 562 deaths. It should be noted that, in contrast to other resistance episodes in Italy after the 8 September armistice, which also involved Italian fascists, most of the fighting occurred between Italians and Germans. The revolt actually prevented the Germans from organizing a resistance in Naples against the Allied offensive or, as Adolf Hitler himself had ordered, from turning the city into ruins before the German retreat.
Thanks to Toyama and Pendragon for again exposing us to some of the less-well-publicized moments of the Second World War. I was fascinated by the AAR and my further reading online. It stuns me how the war crimes we most closely associate with the Nazi forces have to do with the Final Solution for the Jews. It seems to be demonstrated again and again that the inhumane behaviour of the German military machine was not limited to SS killing squads or concentration camps. That unarmed civilians would be gunned down, or rounded up and deported to work camps, or executed in front of crowds, shows the thuggish mentality of this "well-trained" "military machine". Like the Stuka, the whole military establishment was simply a terror weapon. And that inhumane behaviour was so endemic, that no German can say, after the war, that "I didn't know what was going on..." Yeah, everyone knew what was going on.
Those who don't remember their history are bound to do something or other...
I share the same feeling about the Nazi war crimes outside of the camps. On top of that, I'm appalled by the thinless of the line between civilization and barbarism. So little seems to be needed to turn respectable people into xenophobic murderers. We saw that in 40-45 (and not only with the Nazis), we still see it nowadays. Apparently, it's hard to learn history's lessons.