Of lost monkeys and broken vehicles

Part 72
South-west of Kythera, March 30th, 1941

Dawn had revealed the degree of carnage that had taken place overnight. Of Demestichas squadron only HMS Bonaventure had been fitted with radar, enough to allow Demestichas to place himself in the path of the Italians under cover of the night but not much else. But while the Greeks, following British practice and in fear of superior Italian numbers, have been training for years for night action the Regia Marina has been notably deficient in night training. When the Greeks, British and Australians under Demestichas opened up the Italian ships main batteries were not ready for action. The Italian crews had managed to clear for action with commendable speed but for a crucial few minutes the Italians were in the receiving end of near uninterrupted fire without firing back. Within the first five minutes of battle Zara, mistaken by Salamis for a battleship before Salamis had turned her fire on Vittorio Veneto, was sinking, Bolzano under fire by Lemnos at point blank range had been turned into a floating wreck and allied destroyers already making their runs for a torpedo attack against the Italian fleet. Three more torpedoes had got an already heavily damaged Vittorio Veneto, Zara and Bolzano had been finished off and the destroyers Alfredo Oriani and Vincenzo Gioberti sunk. With Campioni dead on the Vittorio Veneto, admiral Iachino on the Littorio had taken over and despite his tactical disadvantage still outnumbered Demestichas two to one in battleships and cruisers and three to two in destroyers. But this was discounting Cunningham. Thus Iachino had broken contact under cover of a torpedo attack of his own, sinking the destroyer Aspis and damaging Niki at the cost of two more of his own destroyers. This would not be the last of the Italian woes as the fighting against the Greeks had given Cunningham just enough time for his slower battleships to catch up with the Italians before dawn. This time the Italians were ready for battle, but were outnumbered and had no radar. The resulting engagement had left HMS Barham and HMS Gloucester damaged but Andrea Doria, Trento and four more destroyers had been sunk by RN ships and aircraft and Littorio hit by several 15in shells before Iachino's ships could run away to safety. But now daylight had come, the RN and the RAN and the HN had dozens ships with various degrees of damage and crews that had had almost no sleep within range of German and Italian bombers...

Thessaly, April 1st, 1941

The 2nd Panzer Division entered Larisa. To the south of the city Greek and Yugoslav cavalry, what remained of the Greek armoured brigade and the BEF where covering the rear of the retreating allied army. At least Axis air attacks had been notably fewer the past few days as German and Italian medium bombers were apparently otherwise engaged.

Baghdad April 1st, 1941

Soldiers were on the streets as king Gazi had launched another coup. But the population was mostly jubilant. After all it was a coup overthrowing the British puppet government. At RAF Habaniya, the British and allied personnel training there hunkered down for a clash. Further north in what 25 centuries before had been Assyria, the last remnants of the ancient nation start preparing to fight as well. Three hundred thousand Assyrians had been massacred in 1915-18. King Gazi had already shown where he stood with the Assyrian population when he had endorsed the Simele massacres. If now he wanted to ally with the Turk, Assyrians were not going to stand idle and be massacred again. Not without a fight...

Off Derna, April 2nd, 1941

HMS Bonaventure had survived a bomb from a Ju-88 two days before. It did not survive the spread of four torpedoes from a lucky Italian submarine. Three had hit it. It was a painful loss for the allied fleets, massed German and Italian air attacks the previous days had also finished off HMS Barham and HMS Gloucester, sunk HMS Ajax and four British and one Greek destroyer. But after Cythera and Lesvos, there wasn't much doubt who controlled the seas...

Thessaloniki, April 3rd, 1941

Thanasis Klaras had lost his artillery unit during the retreat from Doiran and had gone to the ground in Thessaloniki. Now he was getting exasperated by his fellow local party members. "I don't care if the Soviet Union is currently neutral. What is comrade Zachariadis saying that's what we should care about."

"He is saying that Greece should ask the Soviet Union to negotiate a peace treaty with the fascists upon the status quo of November 7th and all foreign imperialists leave Greek soil."

"Exactly. Till comrade Stalin intervenes our duty is to kick out all foreign imperialists. We'll attack the Germans and Italians. If any Anglofrench show up we'll deal with them in turn."

"Come now Mizerias. We should wait for instructions by the central committee"

"The central committee is in Athens. We are here. And call me Ares. Ares Makedon."

Someone in the room raised the volume on the radio, tuned on the now German controlled Thessaloniki radio station "Dear Greek listeners, Greece freed in 1821 was struggling since 1915 against Anglo-French tyranny. Remember the crimes of Sarrail's hordes in Macedonia. Remember..."

"Who's this idiot?"

"George Kyriakis it says."

"That monarchofascist that had tried to shoot Venizelos in 1920? Do you really want us to be seen on the same side with the monarchofascists?"

"If the party says so..."

"But it does not! It says that ALL imperialists should leave."

A pause. "Perhaps you are right... Ares. We shall act. And lets hope are are still in the party after they learn of what we are doing"

And thus the "People's Liberation Front" was born...

Thessaly, April 5th, 1941

Karditsa fell to the Centauro division and Volos to the Germans. But supply was starting to become a serious issue. There was only a single railroad coming south from Thessaloniki to keep the Wermacht and Italians in supply and the allies had done their level best to wreck it during their retreat. There was admittedly also the railroad going from Agioi Saranta in Epirus to Ioannina, Metsovo and Larisa. But the retreating Greeks had wrecjed that as well and with the Italian army to the south of Ioannina it was facing even more acute supply problems, the port of Durres was too far from the frontlines over muddy mountain roads to be useful.

Domokos, Pthiotis, April 7th, 1941

The German army entered the little town, but encountered its first serious resistance since breaking through the Olympus passes...
 
Further north in what 25 centuries before had been Assyria, the last remnants of the ancient nation start preparing to fight as well. Three hundred thousand Assyrians had been massacred in 1915-18. King Gazi had already shown where he stood with the Assyrian population when he had endorsed the Simele massacres. If now he wanted to ally with the Turk, Assyrians were not going to stand idle and be massacred again. Not without a fight...
Godspeed, Assyrians. This might work out for them in the event an Allied/Soviet response is able to defeat Turkey and Iraq quickly enough, but if things bog down it could spell the death knell for them in their ancient cradle.
 
I will ask the 45,000ton question: what happened to the damaged Littorio? Is it fair to assume that she survived? Was she slowed down from the damage?

I see that Ares Makedon is taking a path similar to OTL. Zachariadis won't forget that Ares rose up before Barbarossa. Speaking of Zachariadis, how is that stalinist faring? There might be a possibility to have a split in the Communist Party with Ares as the leader of a "patriotic" Communist Party and Zachariadis as the leader of the regular Party. If anything the bourgeois politicians would love a split KKE.

Last but not least, what happened with the greek divisions in Thrace? Are all of them captured or some of them evacuated?
 
It was from Greek army units or from seemingly just formed 'People's Liberation Front' Partisan units?
More likely EAM will stand and fight in captured territories while the main army will fight in the south. It was mentioned that Domokos and Thermopylae will be the next defensive position of the Allies.

Last but not least, what happened with the greek divisions in Thrace? Are all of them captured or some of them evacuated?
Wasn't Pangalos frustrated that he lost those units when the Allies were fighting in Olympus? I would assume they surrendered.

With the presence of a full Axis Army group in Greece I doubt EAM would grow to OTL proportions, at least not yet. They will certainly be useful in worsening the supply situation of the Axis but that would be their cap.
The new front is taking shape in south Thessaly and Lamia it seems. Let's see how long it will last. Did the Greek armored brigade survive or are they mauled beyond repair?
Also we have no news from Smyrna. Are the Turks still banging their heads on the forts or have they broken some of them?
 
So, seems that the Italians and Germans have found one Greek willing to become in their local Quisling...
Some are bound to show up in every country and Greece had also her share. At the moment with Greece still in the fight the Germans and Italians are down to the rather small number of actual ideologues. Than both Bulgaria and Turkey are openly and rather prominently in the fight against Greece isn't helping their case either.
It was from Greek army units or from seemingly just formed 'People's Liberation Front' Partisan units?
Greek, British, French, Polish, Serb... there is still a large army pulling south in relatively good order ironically being helped by the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica turning their attention on the RN and HN after the battles of Cythera and Lesvos.

Godspeed, Assyrians. This might work out for them in the event an Allied/Soviet response is able to defeat Turkey and Iraq quickly enough, but if things bog down it could spell the death knell for them in their ancient cradle.
Damned if they do damned if they don't. What are their options in view of what happened in WW1?

I will ask the 45,000ton question: what happened to the damaged Littorio? Is it fair to assume that she survived? Was she slowed down from the damage?
She survived. She'll need some time in drydock, after being in the receiving end of the fire from three British battleships but battleships were being built tough...
I see that Ares Makedon is taking a path similar to OTL. Zachariadis won't forget that Ares rose up before Barbarossa. Speaking of Zachariadis, how is that stalinist faring?
Much better than OTL. The Greek communist party is after all legal and he's a senator, with the current electoral law it's very difficult to get MPs in parliament. Beats being in a Metaxas prison. His position on the war is actually more nuanced than the average western communist party of the time, he has gone right after the Italian invasion to declare support for the defensive war (similar to his first letter in OTL) switching this to "ask for Soviet mediation to return to the pre-war status quo and kick all foreigners out of Greece" (similar to second and third letters of OTL). Which for a party that up to 1935 was backing Bulgarian (and in TTL also Turkish) designs on Macedonia is a clever position if it doesn't want its already limited pull with the voting public destroyed.

Ares in effect is uhm freely interpreting the party's position to go a step further. How much has he been affected by not finding himself in the Metaxas prisons and being tortured there to denounce the party? Time will tell but it should not have influenced him badly...

There might be a possibility to have a split in the Communist Party with Ares as the leader of a "patriotic" Communist Party and Zachariadis as the leader of the regular Party. If anything the bourgeois politicians would love a split KKE.
Bourgeois politicians might love to see KKE getting split but Ares is not the man to do so. He was Zachariadis man and loyal to him to a fault even when in 1945 KKE denounced him, the infamous "neither bread nor water to the traitor Velouchiotis"

Last but not least, what happened with the greek divisions in Thrace? Are all of them captured or some of them evacuated?
As fighting units they are gone destroyed by, checks March 11th. Now some men have managed to escape to the Aegean, others simply melted into the population with any arms they could hide, after all most reservists were being recruited from the area...

More likely EAM will stand and fight in captured territories while the main army will fight in the south. It was mentioned that Domokos and Thermopylae will be the next defensive position of the Allies.
EAM? What EAM? EAM meant National Liberation Front. This one is People's Liberation Front. Λαϊκό Απελευθερωτικό Μέτωπο in Greek. To get technical in OTL the Macedonian office of KKE did join the "Liberty" resistance organization along with a number of local republican politicians and officers, most notably Dimitris Psarros and Giannis Passalidis. TTL there are some obvious differences, Psarros is in command of a brigade in the fighting army, Passalidis a MP for Papandreou in Athens. Even from the Macedonian office of KKE two out of the three members in OTL where Pontic Greeks.

Wasn't Pangalos frustrated that he lost those units when the Allies were fighting in Olympus? I would assume they surrendered.
In effect he knew they were being sacrificed... and couldn't do much about it.
With the presence of a full Axis Army group in Greece I doubt EAM would grow to OTL proportions, at least not yet. They will certainly be useful in worsening the supply situation of the Axis but that would be their cap.
The new front is taking shape in south Thessaly and Lamia it seems. Let's see how long it will last. Did the Greek armored brigade survive or are they mauled beyond repair?
Out of 200 tanks at the start of the war they are down to less than 30 still in working order. But the men are worth more than the machines...

Also we have no news from Smyrna. Are the Turks still banging their heads on the forts or have they broken some of them?
 
Is the city of Constantinople being prepare for an epic siege or something at this point?
The third fall of Constantinople/liberation of Istanbul, pick your choice of name, took place in March 1941. With the Turkish army on one side of the straits and the Bulgarians and Germans on the other the city would be practically impossible to hold, the European side has over 1.1 million people in 1941 that would need to keep fed from somewhere. The allies did not even seriously try really. The singe British infantry brigade left the city while it could still leave, though some support units were left behind, the Greeks put in the last infantry division they had formed with second rate arms and artillery...
 
Do the Italians or the Nazis have any plan to use a member of the deposed Greek royal family as a puppet head in occupied Greece as a counter government? I understand George II is pro British and most of those in line are as well, but given the absence of a restoration, I wonder if some of the princes would or could be tempted by Axis overtures.

On a sidenote, where is Prince Philip in this TL? I forgot what he became ITTL, if he still ends up on a path to meet with then Princess Elizabeth.
 
Do the Italians or the Nazis have any plan to use a member of the deposed Greek royal family as a puppet head in occupied Greece as a counter government? I understand George II is pro British and most of those in line are as well, but given the absence of a restoration, I wonder if some of the princes would or could be tempted by Axis overtures.

On a sidenote, where is Prince Philip in this TL? I forgot what he became ITTL, if he still ends up on a path to meet with then Princess Elizabeth.
They could but who? Of the older generation George and Andrew are still alive and trapped in France. Neither would accept the offer. George II is in Britain. So is Paul who on top of this is loyal to his brother. Granted Paul has a German wife but I'm inclined to assume Frederica has followed her husband in Britain. Peter the son of George is also out, he'll probably be found in the Legion or even the Greek army.

Which brings us to more problematic cases. Prince Aimone of Aosta the husband of Irene and OTL Tomislav II of Croatia? A possibility if Irene would be willing to go against her brother. One of the many German princes that had married the daughters of Andrew and fought for Germany at least one of the a Waffen SS officer? Sure they are a possibility but how much legitimacy would a German officer proclaimed king of Greece on account of his wife being the first cousin of the deposed king get? Very little is my guess.

As for Philip... he was born in June 10th, 1921. So got conceived around mid-September 1920. POD is August 12th, 1920. Andrew had 4 daughters and a single son. Who's this Philip you are talking about? :angel:

Granted a son may have been born the Andrew, who'd be reasonably close to the original. That said there is the little matter with what happened with the British throne TTL. On one hand it is entirely plausible future Edward VIII had not met Wallis Simpson TTL. On the other I short of suspect the man being likely pro-Nazi had a little something to do with his abdication...
 
Part 73
East Africa, April 6th, 1941

Addis Abbaba became the first allied capital to be liberated from the Axis. Three days earlier Asmara in Eritrea had also fallen to the Allies. Surviving Italian forces retreated to Amba Alagi.

Corfu, April 8th, 1941

The garrison of Corfu had so far had a quiet war. The island had been bombed a few times by the Italian air force, a few raids had been launched on the Albanian coast but somewhat to the discomfort of its commander Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos had had been given little opportunity to take on the enemies of the motherland at the very time it was fighting for its life. So instead he'd kept training his regiment and digging in against the possibility of an Italian landing. With the Italian defeat in the battle of Cythera the prospect of an Italian landing seemed to be getting distant but Tsakalotos had still remained alert despite grumblings by his subordinates. The grumblings would come to an abrupt end as a massed air bombing of the city of Corfu was followed by paratroopers and small boats bringing the men of Pusteria Alpini division landing on the northern coast of the island. Even defeated the Italian navy retained large forces and it seemed unlikely the Greeks and the British after the pounding their fleets had received further south, where going to venture even closer to Axis air bases. And as long as Corfu remained in Greek hands, the port of Igoumenitsa remained useless and Agioi Saranda with its railroad endangered...

Baghdad, April 9th, 1941


Back the previous month Abdulmejid II acting in his capacity as caliph had proclaimed jihad against the British and their allies, upon his triumphant entry in Constantinople. Now with Iraqi radio made available to him, Amin al-Husseini repeated the call even though Iraq was supposed to be at peace with Britain.

Atlantic, April 10th, 1941


US troops occupied Greenland. The next day US warships would begin "patrolling" the North Atlantic. Clashes with German U-Boats would inevitably follow.

Central Greece, April 13th, 1941


For the Greek Orthodox it was Palm Sunday. But the Holy Week was starting with the Germans capturing Lamia and continuing their push south. Allied armies had pulled back behind the Spercheios river, to a line from the sea to Thermopylae to mount Oiti, to the Agrapha mountains further west and even though the Gerans had kept advancing their advance has start showing signs of slowing down after nearly two months of constant fighting and an ever lengthening supply line Theodore Pangalos order had been simple. "Not a step back" It remained to be seen if the barbarians would pass this time...

BW_13_F.jpg


Aliakmon, April 18th, 1941

Three nights ago a small eclectic force had been parachuted to the south of the river by half a dozen Douglas DC.3 that had start life as passenger planes for EEES (Hellenic Aviation Transport company) back in 1939 only to pressed into action by the start of the war. German and Italian engineers had repaired the railway bridge over the river. But this would not do. For Thermopylae to hold the bridge and the German supply line had to go. Covered by the night the raiders overwhelmed the Italian garrison and blew up the bridge anew. Later the action would become a book by M. Karagatsis "The Raid" and the book in turn a movie starring Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn. But that was in the future as was the creation of the Greek 1st Raider Regiment. What mattered now was that the bridge was gone.

Berlin, April 19th, 1941

Casualties were mounting, supplies dwindling and the Greeks not showing any signs of pulling back from their positions at Spercheios and Thermopylae. Tank losses were in excess of 300 machines by now, of the three Panzer divisions in action in Greece two would be impossible to join Barbarossa at its current schedule. A decision had to be made. Either the forces in Greece would be reinforced and war against the Soviets postponed till the next year or the majority of the army and air force in Greece pulled out. If Hitler vacillated he did not show it. The Romanian airfields were secure and the Greeks pushed back all the way to central Greece. Conquering the rest of Greece would be left to the Italians with limited German involvement. After the Soviet Union was destroyed in a few moths, what remained of Greece could be picked up are leisure. The order to stop the attack the next day went off along with orders to pull back most of the Luftwaffe.

Thermopylae, April 20th, 1941

The soldier peered carefully over the parapet. He survived his risk. After two weeks of fighting the German attack appeared to be over...
 
This is huge. Given their performance so far, I sincerely doubt the Italians will be able to seriously threaten the rest of Greece even if the Greeks won't be able to immediately counterattack. Though the counter attack surely must come eventually.

This also must be a nasty surprise for Turkey.

The supply to Smyrna is not particularly threatened now, and more Greek forces will be available to rotate in to relieve the defenders of the forts. With their limited war supplies and the Allies suddenly being left with air superiority things are going to really nasty very quickly for them.
 
This bodes well for Smyrna, yes, but that is if its fortifications are still holding as I don't believe Lascaris has made mention of Smyrna in a few chapters.

As for the Balkan front, then it seems that the Italian Army will be assaulting the Greeks mainly, with limited German support. The Turks wouldn't aid in the Balkan Front when they have Smyrna to take right? Even if they did, that would just clog up supply lines that could be used for more Italians? I doubt the Bulgarians would aid the Italians much.

Another great update Lascaris, well done!
 
With the Italian defeat in the battle of Cythera the prospect of an Italian landing seemed to be getting distant but Tsakalotos had still remained alert despite grumblings by his subordinates.
Seems that this Italian op. would be TTL equivalent, but at a lesser degree to OTL Crete invasion. Also, these preparations and entrenchment, would be enough as for would enact a heavy price in the Italian paratroopers.
And as long as Corfu remained in Greek hands, the port of Igoumenitsa remained useless and Agioi Saranda with its railroad endangered...
But, Tsakalotos' troops' readiness and their better knowledge of the terrain, would be enough, for itself? Or with the Luftwaffe gone, would be a bigger chance to get air support or even reinforcements?
Back the previous month Abdulmejid II acting in his capacity as caliph had proclaimed jihad against the British and their allies, upon his triumphant entry in Constantinople.
I would have thought that ITTL scenario that the 'Jihad', would be declared, first and foremost against the Greeks and in second place, against their British allies...
 
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