To get caught off guard, first the Germans have to come.
ITTL the greater losses inflicted on Flieger Corps VIII and XI ITTL has caused the preparations for the airborne assault on Crete to be slower than OTL.
With Barbarossa looming large the window of opportunity is closing .
OTL at this time Crete was defended by 12 Hurricanes, ITTL including the FAA fighters at Suda Bay it is the better part of 12 Squadrons and that is a very different nut to crack!
 

Errolwi

Monthly Donor
Yes, the end of OTL's evacuation benefited from bombers being withdrawn for Russia. ABC took a punt and got away with it, a few thousand extra troops taken off.
Will be interesting to see if the Germans actually send in the paras against better defences.
 
Let me put on my Nerd coat....

With regards to aircraft numbers - Fighter Squadrons tended to be 18 aircraft strong with the number of operational aircraft at 24 per squadron (the additional 6 aircraft kept as part of a reserve for all squadrons in the region so probably back in the Nile Delta Area

This allowed a Squadron to send up 12 planes for a given scramble as at any given point upto a 1/4 of all planes would be undergoing periodical checks and replacement of components that had reached their flying hours or calendar life.

Also it allowed a given squadron to absorb losses and battle damaged aircraft (for as long as it took for replacements to be flown in)

So there would not be 144 Hurricanes and Falcons in the 12 squadrons but instead 12 x 18 = 216 fighters or there about with a further 72 odd back in Egypt (assigned to those 12) as part of the operational reserve for those 12 Squadrons - for an on paper total of 288 fighters

Of course the operational reserve would also be in place for all fighter Squadrons in the theatre and so would be much larger than 72 Aircraft and so the number of replacement airframes maintained in Egypt for the entire theatre would be far higher.

The only limiting factor would be 'number of pilots' and the Squadrons should be able to be topped back up to 18 planes each day so long as replacements could be flown in from Egypt to replace daily losses.

The same would be true for the Night fighter squadron and Bomber squadrons - although possibly the longer ranged bombers may keep their Squadron reserve back at the main RAF bases in Egypt as well.
 
Some Commentary on Chapter 12.37
Some Commentary on Chapter 12.37

I could fudge it and say that on Crete due to the losses in Greece that the average squadron was only twelve aircraft at this time.
However that would me being a little disingenuous. I just got my figures mixed up. In the PAM the RAF fighter squadron at this time has four flights of four aircraft for a total of 16 aircraft. A squadron would have three flights on duty for a squadron scramble of 12 aircraft. There would normally be one flights worth of replacement aircraft. Pilot Strength would normally be 16, though due to casualties and leave that would not usually be the case at this stage of the war. The standard PAM equipment requirement is Three flights plus 100% spares in theatre. In other words if there are 16 aircraft at the squadron there will be a further eight held in reserve at depots. There could well be further aircraft at repair and maintenance depots but often they have to get counted into the reserve numbers due to the reality of a long supply chain.
Nothing is ever perfect even in the PAM.

I will now have to check edit and revise some of the upcoming posts!!

Lady Marjorie is not based on any single women but does encompass several redoubtable ladies of that era who I have had the pleasure of being acquainted with over the years.
 
12.38 Crete will Hold and Malta fights on
12.38 Crete will Hold and Malta fights on



At his first meeting with the Greek Government Sir Keith Park had been told simply that ‘Crete Would not Fall’ and this bald statement was followed up an explanation of why in the view of the Greek Government in exile that statement had to made a fact, not only did basing the exiled Government of Crete add credence to the Allies claim that this was the legitimate Government of all Greece but the fact that the Government in exile was still on Greek soil was a source of hope and pride to the Greek people. In the view of several Greek generals that in itself was worth several extra Divisions in the defence of the Island. That being said the Greeks had also confirmed that they were asking the allies help to reduce the number of non combatant or untrained Greeks on the island. They also agreed that the best defence was to prevent any attempt or landing by the Axis and only the RAF and the RN could prevent an invasion force from reaching the island.

In discussions with Tedder upon Sir Keith Parks arrival a set of priorities had been set out for the RAF on Crete. They were, firstly maintain air superiority over the island. Secondly protect RN and other shipping movements around the island. Thirdly attack and hound the Luftwaffe on mainland Greece and the islands to hamper preparations for an invasion of Crete. It was very important as Sir Keith Park had been informed in London prior to his departure that the PR Mark IV spitfires be seen to fly over all of the major Luftwaffe bases and harbours in the area to photograph the invasion preparations. Sir Keith was now party to those Bletchley intercepts and subsequent analysis that had a direct bearing on operations against both Malta and Crete. So overtly demonstrating that the German preparations were being monitored not only confirmed the intelligence for the Allies but also gave the Germans a viable source for the scale of the allied preparations other than their own coded signals.

What was irrefutable by mid May was that the Germans were massing troops and resources to the east, there were already indications that Fleigercorps X was winding down operations in Sicily and were moving back to the Balkans. The latest intelligence summaries were firm in their believe that if the Germans did not invade Crete by early June then the forces massed for that operation would probably be dispersed for other operations.

Strategically if Crete held and Syria was subdued then the pressure that the allies could bring on the Dodecanese islands and particularly on Rhodes might well build to the point where the Allies might well be able to mount an invasion or even an island hopping campaign.

The Senior officers of the PAC were loudly voicing the opinion that offence was the best defence and that the PAC should be permitted to send every available bomber and fighter to attack all and every axis base within range. Just sending the Polish Wellington Squadrons to bomb docks and airfields at night was leaving the rest of the PAC straining at the leash like starving hounds. It did not matter how often it was explained that venturing into the German AA fire protecting their airfields in daylight would only serve to kill valuable young Polish pilots for little or no gain the Poles were finding every excuse to sally forth and strike. To counter this Park ensured that the Poles got scrambled to every Luftwaffe incursion and covered every shipping movement. Combats were frequent and the loss ratio encouragingly in the Poles favour. Reminding a Polish pilot who had been fished out of the sea for the second time that the material and logistic advantage lay with the Germans, an RAF intelligence officer was briskly informed by the pilot that he had shot down four enemy aircraft of which none of the crews had survived to his knowledge giving him a material advantage of two to one in airframes, three to one in engines and seven to none in aircrew on that day alone, so perhaps he could have another Hurricane and get back to work!

The Material attrition was steady as was the flow of Hurricanes from Egypt. Park had had discussions over the viability of sending Kittyharks to Crete but was advised that the logistical complication that would impose at this time was just not viable. Also the opinion was that in the few encounters recorded so far between the Kittyhawks and the latest ME109’s was that there was little or no advantage gained over the Hurricane in a one on one combat. The one true advantage of the Kittyhawk was its slightly longer range on internal fuel.

On the twenty second of May a club run with the code name operation Splice, using both HMS Furious and HMS Ark Royal successfully flew of forty eight Spitfire Mk III’s fitted with ninety gallon slipper tanks to Malta. This was not the two wings that Sir Keith had requested but did give Malta two squadrons with fifty percent replacement aircraft. Now the extra erks and other personnel plus the special stores that had been so urgently and secretly delivered over the precious few weeks came into their own. Also more club runs were planned. Unfortunately there were no Spitfires available to stage through to Crete.

The best Tedder could do provide additional support for Sir Keith on Crete was to concentrate reserve RAF and RAAF squadrons around Derna and Torbruk the nearest African bases to Crete. It would mean that in the advent of an attempted invasion of Crete RAF reinforcements could be surged to the island but it also meant that the same aircraft could act as a reserve for operations currently underway in support of O’Connor’s thrust towards Tripoli. Although relatively few in number the German panzers now in Tripolania were making their presence felt as were the eighty eight millimetre anti aircraft guns.

It did not take long for the Germans to react to the arrival of the spitfires in Malta, it had been expected that spies in Spain would have noted the start of operation Splice and have informed the Nazis of what aircraft type was being loaded onto the carriers. Therefore an attack on the airfields at the time the aircraft were expected to land was only to be anticipated. The incoming spitfires had been met by a heavy escort of the islands resident Hurricanes which provided a standing air patrol whilst the spitfires landed and were rapidly dispersed to their pens for the removal of the slipper tanks, refuelling and arming ready for combat. Of the four Hurricane squadrons now based on the Island one had escorted the spitfires in, two had scrambled to gain height over the island as tell-tale dots appeared on the GCI screens indicating attacks coming in from the airfields in Sicily. The final squadron on cockpit readiness was launched as the attack approached to gain altitude south of the island. As planned with Sir Keith on his visit to the Island the Controllers were not holding anything back in defence of the newly arrived Spitfires.

The first interceptions of the Luftwaffe Fighter escort took place some dozen miles to the north of Malta and somewhat closer to Gozo. The intention of the RAF pilots was to separate the fighters from the bombers. In this they were marginally successful and the Hurricane squadron that had escorted the spitfires in just minutes earlier now lunged into the Luftwaffe bombers as they strove to cross the island and attack the airfields. The anti aircraft guns around the Grand Harbour opened up in their defined box barrage, this had two principle effects, one was to keep the Ju 88’s and He 111’s at altitude and to break up their formations slightly as they weaved through the exploding shells. There was now a major mêlée of the Me 109 escort and the Hurricanes that was slowly coming south and descending as is the nature of such engagements and the second engagement of the bomber force and the Hurricane squadron from the patrol over the airfields. Soon the two engagements merged into what was considered the largest dogfight yet seen over the island. As the battle approached the airfields two new formations hit the Luftwaffe attack. The standby squadron of Hurricanes that that been clawing for height how turned north to intercept any aircraft lining up for a strafing or bomb run at one of the airfields. To the north, the Malta Beaufighter Squadron bolstered by the available Beaufighter NF’s interposed themselves between the current Luftwaffe assault and any second wave that might be following on.

Even as the battle as intense as any the veteran Battle of Britain pilots had experienced the summer before raged over their heads the pilots of the Spitfires chivvied and fretted as the ground crews sweated to get the newly arrived aircraft combat ready. However eager the pilots were to join the fray the controllers held them on the ground as the RDF operators searched their screens for further waves of attackers. Those enemy aircraft that got through to the airfields found themselves in a maelstrom of light flak and harassing fighters.

With no follow on attacks visible on the RAF screens the Beaufighters were unleashed to harry the enemy aircraft as they attempted to turn about and return to their bases.

One squadron of Spitfires was then ordered to take off and gain altitude to the south of the island to cover the return of the Hurricanes to rearm and refuel. The rest including what were in essence the reserve aircraft for the two duty spitfire squadrons were held on cockpit readiness. Those Beaufighters with ammunition and fuel remaining also stayed aloft to provide cover for the airfields as they recovered the aircraft from the Hurricane Squadrons.

As the sun set no further attacks materialised and the aircraft aloft were ordered to land.

Of the forty eight Spitfires that had taken off from the carriers, one had floundered on launching and a second had ditched short of the island, unfortunately the pilot of the Spitfire that floundered was not recovered. Of the forty six that made it to Malta one was damaged on landing and another was shot up on the ground but was deemed repairable. Of the Four Hurricane squadrons the losses were six aircraft destroyed, a further six damaged, two pilots missing or killed and four wounded. The Beaufighters did not lose a single pilot but did have damage to two aircraft.

Luftwaffe losses were severe but the exact numbers were in dispute as the intelligence officers were convinced that the figures claimed were way too high and there was the distinct possibility that the AA gunners and the pilots were claiming the same aircraft. Eventually by tallying confirmed wrecks and observed crashes both on land and in the seas the joint Naval and RAF Intelligence figures came to twelve Me 109’s destroyed, four Me 110’s destroyed with seven He 111’s and six Ju 88’s also downed. There were also a good dozen claims for probable’s and many more damaged.

Though the Spitfires had played no part in that particular combat their arrival on the Island signalled a major change in the air battle for the future of the island.

From now on Park’s well proven tactics from the Battle of Britain would be the cornerstone of the defence of Malta in that the Spitfires would be used to engage the Me 109 escorts and the Hurricanes vectored onto the bombers. With now the equivalent of two fighter wings based on the Island of Malta the defence would depend on the flow of supplies and replacement aircraft. The extra ferry pilots would be flown back to Gibraltar with some flying onto Egypt as replacements.
 
Of the forty six that made it to Malta one was damaged on landing and another was shot up on the ground but was deemed repairable.

iOTL a key factor in the survival of the Spitfires as they arrived at Malta was the use of dispersal sites prepared in advance
with the ground crew also positioned and supplied like in a Formula support team.

As is widely known, the USS Wasp had to make two separate "club runs" delivering 47 Spit V then 47 more (with 17 from HMS Eagle)
The second batch was needed because all of the first batch were lost inside 3 days, most on the ground.

However the British learned that hard lesson, trained more pit crews, built up a supply of spares and prebuilt extra shelters
(even some by reusing old flimsy fuel cans packed with gravel.)
That reduced the turnaround time for a landed Spit to less than 15 minutes with the best teams bettering 5!

source: Red Duster White Ensign, Ian Cameron: PP178 ..
 
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Absolutely spot on, also in the PAM, the Slipper tanks fit and the aircraft have actually been prepared properly for the transfer to the carriers and flying off from them.
The lack of thought and preparation for some of the OTL club runs was nothing short of criminal. The lingering tensions between the FAA and the RAF OTL were also a factor OTL whereas ITTL with H. Dowding as CAS and A. Dowding as Rear Admiral FAA Operations at the Admiralty the cooperation between the two services is a whole world away from OTL. ITTL there are exchange programs for senior officers from both services to get a feel for the 'other chaps' problems and this is not just FAA officers but also include Blue Water officers as well. ITL WAFU stands for We All Fight United.
I am using multiple sources including the official histories to provide a backbone for TTL.
 

Errolwi

Monthly Donor
I wrote and posted a short commentary on chapter 12.37. Is this something that you would like more off?
Certainly useful and adds to my understanding. So long has they don't unduly slow further output (which I assume they don't, might even help you keep things straight?)
 
I wrote and posted a short commentary on chapter 12.37. Is this something that you would like more off?
I'm always in favour of added value material from our authors
whether simply sources, their thoughts on material not used/roads not taken iYTL, exposition of Jargon or technology etc
Of course all of such is up to the originator and as @Errolwi must not unduly delay the updates

Fortunately, In a narrative TL this extra "texture" can often be incorporated in the main story by various means
(a committee discussion, explanation to a visitor even an interlude episode or episodes with one time characters)

If any extra material is still available, I prefer a footnote format rather than a separate post.
I find it easier to cross-reference especially if there are replies
(Personally, in my only narrative thread so far, I used to literally draw a line at the end of the substantive post and add such stuff under the line)

__________________________________________________________________

Like this x'D (and often in a different colour too)

Of course, if the "extras" are larger, you could simply create a separate post (as you have done above)
However I would certainly add a link back to the original post (not just a threadmark or chapter number)
Maybe I would also edit that main most by appending a link "forward" to the extras
(again to ease cross referencing)

Does that make sense?
 
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Nice update! Armed WAAFs defending their station against Nazi paratroopers- what would the film be called?
One error spotted:



This should be Greece, not Crete.
Que scene where the evil Nazi paratrooper tries to force his attentions on the the pretty WAAF officer and she shoots him in the balls upper thigh.
 
Que scene where the evil Nazi paratrooper tries to force his attentions on the the pretty WAAF officer and she shoots him in the balls upper thigh.

Nonsense ...
Lady Majorie will have trained her gels in her own firearm focused version of the unarmed self-defence 1-2-3 I was taught lo those many years ago:

Your reactive first blow to a simple spot to fix your attacker in place with pain
Your balanced second blow to a vulnerable spot to put your attacker down with no ability to suddenly come back at you
Your considered third blow to KEEP your attacker down for as long as you need (and in a much agony as you feel appropriate)

(A Webley is a six shot after all. so you have at least 2 to spare 😈 )
 
Nonsense ...
Lady Majorie will have trained her gels in her own firearm focused version of the unarmed self-defence 1-2-3 I was taught lo those many years ago:

Your reactive first blow to a simple spot to fix your attacker in place with pain
Your balanced second blow to a vulnerable spot to put your attacker down with no ability to suddenly come back at you
Your considered third blow to KEEP your attacker down for as long as you need (and in a much agony as you feel appropriate)

(A Webley is a six shot after all. so you have at least 2 to spare 😈 )
And its on a lanyard so it can be used as a 'flail' once it has run out of bullets
 
And its on a lanyard so it can be used as a 'flail' once it has run out of bullets
And since they are a rear echelon unit, they may well be issued with WW1 era .455 Webley revolvers. They are heavy, take a lot of training to use well at range but at the ranges we are talking about here, they would make a considerable hole.
 
And since they are a rear echelon unit, they may well be issued with WW1 era .455 Webley revolvers. They are heavy, take a lot of training to use well at range but at the ranges we are talking about here, they would make a considerable hole.
Those big, soft, easily deformed unjacketed bullets could have the WAAFs charged with breaching the Hague Conventions by using ammunition designed to cause "unnecessary suffering".
 
Those big, soft, easily deformed unjacketed bullets could have the WAAFs charged with breaching the Hague Conventions by using ammunition designed to cause "unnecessary suffering".

Sounds like the premise to some military courtroom drama.

Worrals faces the rope by Captain WE Johns.
 
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