Axis and AlliesAuthor's Note:
By James Marshall
This is in no way intended to be a serious, dramatic, realistic portrayal of World War Two. This is based less on actual history, and more on my own repeated playthroughs of the Europe 1940
and Pacific 1940
editions of the board game Axis & Allies
. There will be a minimum of politics and national ideology, except where necessary in the context of countries going to war. This is about grand strategy playing out on the world stage, with five major world powers and their allies slugging it out. Major historical liberties can and will
be taken. This is not the war you studied in history class. This is Axis & Allies.P.S:
A select few historic battles will take place in rough approximation of actual events, mainly because they had their own installments in the series. Specifically D-Day
, Battle of the Bulge
, and Guadalcanal
The beaches at Dunkirk were silent at last. The slowly rising tide lapped gently at the burnt remains of tanks, trucks, artillery, and other heavy equipment the British and French had been forced to leave behind during the evacuation. The ruins of small fishing boats, destroyed by the Luftwaffe, were just beginning to wash up on shore. As the German patrols combed the beach, sifting through the debris to find anything still usable, it began to sink in: The Allies had just suffered a major catastrophe.
9 June 1940
Berchtesgarten, Bavarian Alps
The Fuhrer was already waiting as the General Staff filed in to the War Room. One by one they took their seats. Goering, Raeder, and von Brauchitsch, directors of the Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, and Wehrmacht, respectively.
"General von Brauchitsch!" the Fuhrer barked, "We will hear your report first. You may begin."
"Thank you, mein Fuhrer," he said, rising from his seat and striding over to the map mounted against the wall.
"We have achieved a great victory in The Low Countries. Not only have we captured Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, but we have crushed their respective armies, as well as the bulk of the French military and the British Expeditionary Force. Unfortunately, a large number of enemy troops were able to evacuate from the Continent through the port at Dunkirk. But they appear to have left behind the majority of their vehicles and equipment, which we are in the process of converting for use by our own forces.
"At the moment, General Rommel is hurrying to regroup his lead divisions for the final push into France. We have four Panzer Divisions, ten infantry divisions, and four Mechanized Infantry regiments available for the final phase of operation Case Red."
A smug grin spread across Der Fuhrer's face.
"Very good, very good. And what about conditions in the East?"
The general took a moment to clear his throat before continuing.
"Our troops in Poland are occupied with attempting to put down insurrections by elements of the Polish Army that failed to escape the Blitzkrieg, but refuse to surrender. They are taking all necessary measures to crush these rebels.
"Further south, the Romanian and Hungarian militaries have fully mobilized and have placed their troops at our disposal. In addition to the forces already in place in Austria, we are ready to proceed with a potential expedition into Yugoslavia. Of course, we still have a contingency plan in place for a first strike into Russia if needed."
"So the Wermacht is performing well across the board, then. Excellent. Herr Goering, you may commence with your report on the Luftwaffe."
The corpulent Air Minister lumbered forward to replace von Brauchitsch at the map board.
"Mein Fuhrer! Despite unexpected resistance from the Royal Air Force during the last operation, my tactical bomber squadrons have replaced many of their losses and are ready to support further operations against France and Britain. I also have two bomber groups stationed in Bavaria, both of them capable of reaching any of our current or potential battle areas. And finally, I have distributed the fighter groups to be able to cover every potential operation."
"Very well. Admiral Raeder, how is our Kriegsmarine?"
The tall, skeleton-thin Admiral rose to begin his report.
"The U-boat wolf packs are active across the North Atlantic, and the surface fleet is prepared to move out into the North Sea. We are not yet ready for a major confrontation with the Royal Navy, but we should be able to keep them busy while we prepare sufficient transports for overseas operations.
"For now, I believe our best course of action is to seal off the Straits of Gibralter to prevent the British reinforcing their Mediterranean fleet. Finally, the Battleship Bismark will be fully prepared for combat operations by tomorrow morning. And my architects have finalized the design for the Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier."
"So..." the smile had faded from der Fuhrer's face, "conditions are not quite ideal, but I feel that we can manage for now.
The door opened again, and the Foreign Minister scuttled in to the room.
"Late again, Herr von Ribbentrop. But since you are here now, you may inform us about the foreign political situation."
The chief foreign officer stood up.
"Bulgaria has accepted our offer, and asks only that we help re-equip their military so they can properly assist us in the eventual fight against the Soviets. Finland is still recovering from their war with Russia, and maintains their official stance of neutrality. However, they are buying as much military hardware as they can from our domestic arms manufacturers. Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey also remain neutral, but still maintain close economic ties with us.
"Russia has a large military presence along the border, but much of it seems to be focused on stifling resistance in their newly acquired territories. Our neutrality pact should hold them at bay for a few months yet. For now, we are importing large quantities of wheat and oil from them to fuel our own military.
"Australia hasn't had an opportunity to strike at us yet, although our sources report that three of their divisions have arrived in Egypt. Japan, meanwhile, is trying to push deeper into China, and the Italians are harping on us for support in Africa and Greece.
"Finally, the United States remains largely Isolationist. However, our sources in Washington report that Roosevelt is willing to lend military supplies to Britain and Canada. From a military standpoint, however, they pose a minimal threat. With their army and navy combined, they rate at about 14th or 16th strongest in the world - just behind Portugal. The worst that might happen is that they could play tie-breaker like in the previous war, and I doubt it would matter much this time if they did join the war. In short, they are better at building refrigerators than bombs. And that concludes my report."
Der Fuhrer remained silent for a few minutes, lost in thought. Finally, he addressed his staff.
"von Brauchitsch! You will make the necessary orders for the final push into France, and also prepare for combat operations in Yugoslavia. Resources will be allotted for the production of new tanks and infantry transports. You will also have another 10 million Reichsmarks to conduct military research.
"Goering! Your fighters and dive-bombers will provide support for all ground operations. Prepare your bombers for attacks against British industrial facilities. You will be granted resources for one new fighter group.
"Raeder! Have the wolfpacks eliminate all Royal Navy vessels near Gibraltar. Your shipyards will have resources for two new destroyer
"Von Ribbentrop! You will continue your attempts to sway the Spanish and Turks to our side, and keep the Soviet Union complacent. You are dismissed!"
9 June 1940
Buckingham Palace, London
"Quite frankly, your Majesty, it's a bloody miracle that we managed to retrieve anybody from the Expeditionary force, let alone any of our continental allies," wheezed the Prime Minister.
"How many were able to escape, then?" replied the King.
"Well, we were able to bring back all but two of our infantry divisions. Three French divisions were evacuated as well. Then there were a few thousand Dutch and Belgian soldiers, as well a number of Czech and Polish battalions that had integrated into the French military structure.
"The bad news is, the only equipment our men could bring back was the clothes on their back and whatever small-arms and ammunition they were carrying. We were also unable to destroy the majority of supplies that were left behind before the Germans seized it all. And, of course, most of the French Army is still on the continent.
"A very bad situation all around, then?" the King asked, "What resources do we still have available?"
"Well, Your Majesty," the Prime Minister continued, "We currently have four infantry divisions fully equipped in both England and Scotland. The French Alpine battalions were already regrouping in Yorkshire after the campaign in Norway. And we have three fighter groups prepared to defend against any aerial attacks, while the 1st Bomber Group is also ready for deployment.
"In Africa, the 8th Army is holding out as best they can against the Italians. Four infantry divisions and one Armoured Division are stationed in Egypt, while two divisions from Australia have finally arrived. The garrison in South Africa is advancing north as fast as possible to provide reinforcements.
"India is keeping the bulk of their army in place to deter further Japanese aggression, but they are sending one more division to assist in Africa. The garrison in Hong Kong is undermanned, and I have ordered troops from Singapore to be transferred as quickly as possible.
"The Canadians, meanwhile, are still in the process of mobilization. They currently have two Infantry divisions and one Armoured brigade ready for deployment - aside from the two divisions they'd already deployed to France last autumn.
"Our Navy is stretched almost to the breaking point. The Home Fleet is currently unable to do more than protect our own shorelines, and the squadrons at Nova Scotia and Gibraltar are isolated and vulnerable. The Carrier Group at Alexandria is threatened by the Italian Navy. In fact, the only naval assets we have that are not currently under serious threat are the Far East squadrons, and only because we are not yet at war with Japan."
The King remained silent for a few minutes, mulling over the unpleasant details that had been laid before him. Finally, with a look of near-defeat in his eyes, he asked the Prime Minister,
"Do you have any good news for me?"
"Yes. Twelve new radar sites have been established along the coast of Kent. Our aircraft factories should be able to give us an entire new Fighter Group by August. And our shipyards are making good progress on two new aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, the American president has suggested what he calls a 'lend-lease' program. He's promised to send all the military supplies he can and won't demand payment until after the war."
A sudden smile eased the King's face.
"That is good news. I think we just might be able to keep the Empire afloat this time."
"That's the spirit, sir! Now, with your permission, I'd like to implement the following operations for this month. First, we need to maintain control of Africa if we are going to win. To that end, I suggest sending the Canadians to reinforce the French positions in Morocco. I feel they'll be more useful there than in England."
"Very well. I have no objection to that maneuver. What else?"
"General Wayland in Egypt is prepared to begin an offensive against the Italian positions in Libya. All he asks is support from the Carrier Group, and the Fighter Group at Malta. Of course, that will leave the Mediterranean Fleet vulnerable to attack from the Regia Marina, and Admiral Vincent strongly recommends we deal with the threat to our navy first.
King George was quiet again as he weighed the options. But it only took a few minutes for him to decide.
"Tell Montgomery to proceed with his attack, but he'll have to do without support from the Fleet until the threat from the Italian Navy is blunted. And as for the North Atlantic, I want all the destroyer squadrons you can spare to start hunting down those U-Boat packs. I think both of us remember the trouble those submarines caused us in the last war?"
"Of course, Your Majesty. Ah, there is one last thing I need to discuss. Now, just because we've been driven off the Continent, doesn't mean that we can't still engage the enemy. Tell me, do you recall the trouble we had with the 'Kommando' groups back during the Boer Wars? Wouldn't it be a shame if Hitler and company were to encounter the same problem in Norway, or France, or the Low Countries?"
"Winston..." King George started, almost shocked into silence, "That is absolutely brilliant! I want you to get started on that as soon as you've sent the orders for the other operations we've discussed."