Of lost monkeys and broken vehicles

Part 57
  • Narvik, April 14th, 1940

    The battleships Warspite and Valiant, followed by over a dozen destroyers entered Ofotfjord opening up at the German positions in and around Narvik. Under the battleships fire the 27e Demi-Brigade de Chasseurs Alpins under Antoine Béthouart landed in Hakvik, unlike his British counterparts Bethouart had no issue to do an opposed landing. In the northern side of the fjord the British 146th brigade landed by cruisers in Harstad on the 11th advanced to Bogen, while the 24th brigade landed unopposed and advanced to the Labergdal pass while the Norwegian 6th division advanced to the Lapphag pass. The German forces, all of three battalions under general Dietl would be had pressed with a single battalion having to hold the coast against allied landings and the other two to hold the perimeter to the north against the British and Norwegians. An all out attack by the Grench and British would be launched on the 20th with the Norwegians launching their own attack on the 25th.

    Namsos and Andalsnes, April 18th, 1940

    The French 5e Demi-Brigade Chasseurs Alpins landed in Namsos while the British 148th landed in Andalsnes in an attempt to launch a pincer attack between then against Trondheim. It did not go well from the very start, with the Luftwaffe constantly bombing the allied forces on the ground and the allied fleets offshore. Worse get the British in Andalsnes had to rush to the Norwegians support in the south instead of attacking Trondheim as originally planned. While removing any chance of taking Trondtheim, the diversion failed to same the Norwegians either. Of the four Norwegian divisions in the south of the country 2 had already been destroyed by April 15th, the 1st being interned in Sweden and the 3rd surrendering to the Germans. 2nd division was fighting on but had been mauled by the German attacks and despite the British reinforcements and moving the 4th division from Bergen to its support appeared unable to hold back the German advance. Even after being reinforced by the British 15th infantry brigade thinks kept going back. Some start arguing that it was a mistake not diverting the 24th brigade from Narvik to Namsos back on the 14th , at the time it had been thought too risky, perhaps with good reason...

    Namsos and Andalsnes, May 3rd, 1940

    Allied forces at Andalsnes, had been evacuated already in April 30 and May 1st. Allied forces in Namsos now followed them. Luftwaffe air attacks would cost the Allies 2 destroyers but in total 11,284 men including 3,500 Norwegians had been successfully evacuated. But the success of the evacuation did not change the fact the operation had been a complete failure for the allies.

    Narvik, May 6th, 1940

    The Norwegian flag was raised over Narvik. The Germans had managed to hold for 17 days while allied forces were reinforced with the 13e Demi-Brigade de Légion Étrangère in April 28th and the Polish Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Podhalańskich, the Independent Highland brigade on May 5th. Under relentless attack part of the German force had managed to escape into nearby Sweden, the Swedes would intern them for the time being, with the rest forced to surrender in Narvik. With Narvik liberated the allied position in Northern Norway appeared for the time being secure, 28,000 allied troops were available in Narvik which could be further reinforced by the forces evacuated from central Norway. German forces from Trodtheim were already advancing north but the distance to Narvik was 900 km. The allies were already setting forward positions at Mo-i-Rana and Bodo some 500 km from Trodheim in turn...

    Scapa Flow, May 8th, 1940


    Richelieu, Algerie and the 1st contre-torpilleur division with Aigle, Lion and Vauban came to join the Home Fleet. According to Allied intelligence Bismarck had just joined the German fleet, in reality it would not happen for a few weeks more, thus between Bismarck and Gneisenau the Germans had two fast battleships armed with 15in guns while following the loss of Renown and Repulse at Lofoten the only fast battleship remaining to the Royal Navy was HMS Hood. Hood had received a thorough modernisation in the past few years, but wasn't deemed sufficient to counter a breakout by both German ships, while following the catastrophic casualties at Lofoten there was some doubt Hood, even modernised unlike the two older ships, was a match for the Bismarck alone. But Richelieu, fast, heavily armoured and armed with 16in guns most certainly was...

    London, May 10th, 1940


    Victory in Narvik had not proved enough to save the Chamberlain government, with the rest of Norway lost and the war with Germany appearing to not be going anywhere. A three day debate in parliament had brought the cabinet under attack by Labour, the Liberals and even members of the Conservatives. With labour and the Liberals refusing to serve under either Chamberlain or Halifax a coalition government under Winston Churchill would replace Chamberlain's.

    Belgium, May 10th, 1940

    German invasion had begun with German paratroopers capturing the fort of Eben Emael overnight. The Belgian army was already mobilised since September and the French and British armies were already rushing in Belgium's support but not without troubles. Several hours had been lost for the border crossings between France and Belgium to be reopened and the roadblocks the Belgians had placed there to hinder an all too unlikely French advance into Belgium before French and British units could actually move into Belgium...
     
    Part 58
  • Western Europe, May 10th, 1940

    The German army was at last on the move. Paratroopers had been dropped in targets in Belgium and Holland just as 136 divisions with 2,366 tanks. Opposing them were arrayed just as many allied divisions, 92 of then French, 2 Polish, 10 British, 22 Belgian and 10 Dutch, with more tanks, just the French had available 3,254 tanks, and nearly twice the artillery of the German army. The only notable German advantage was in the air as the Luftwaffe had available in total 3,782 aircraft, including 119 Do-19 heavy bombers [1] most of which were deployed in the offensive to the west against about 3,000 allied aircraft. But as the 45 divisions of German Army Group A advanced against the Ardennes and 30 more of Army Group B into Belgium and Holland, it start to look as if numbers weren't everything...

    Holland, May 14th, 1940

    The Dutch army surrendered. Only units in Zealand would fight on for three more days before surrendering as well. The Dutch army with 280,000 men had been massively outnumbered, as the Germans had brought 750,000 men against it and the French 7th army that had rushed to the Dutch support had been pushed back by the Germans. With the Dutch "New Water line" fortifications breached by German paratroopers and following mass air bombing against Rotterdam further resistance had been deemed impossible. The only Dutch success in five days of fighting had been causing heavy casualties to both German transport aircraft and paratroopers. The Dutch navy and government escaped to Britain to fight on...

    Sedan, May 15th, 1940

    German panzers broke through the French lines. Sedan itself had already been captured in May 12th. with bridgeheads the Muse established the next day and French counterattacks failing to dislodge them. Within five days Guderian's troops would reach the English channel..

    Gembloux, May 15th, 1940

    The German XVI Panzer corps spearheading the German invasion of the Low Countries was stopped cold in two days of fighting by elements of the French 1st army. But with the French front broken at Sedan, little could be done to take advantage of the success.

    Paris, May 17th, 1940

    Repeated attempts to remove Maurice Gamelin from the head of the French army had failed, even precipitating political crisis within the French government. The disaster unfolding to the north of France had done him in though leading to his dismissal with Maxime Weygand brought in from Syria to take his place. The next day Philippe Petain would be brought from Madrid where he served as ambassador to Ochoa's government to become deputy prime minister.

    Montcornet, May 17th, 1940

    When two months earlier Paul Reynaud had become prime minister it had been proposed to make Charles De Gaulle secretary general of the French war council but his was too fragile to afford a non politician in the position. De Gaulle had been given command of the new 4e DCR instead. His division was still forming but with the allied situation becoming desperate, it was thrown right away into battle. In three day's of fighting De Gaulle's troops would push back the Germans despite enemy air superiority and the French high command refusing them reinforcements and ordering De Gaulle to withdraw, orders which De Gaulle promptly refused.

    Mo-i-Rana, May 17th, 1940

    The German 2nd mountain division attacked. But by now Claude Auchinleck, the commander of the allied North Western Expeditionary Force had managed to ship most of the force that had captured Narvik south. A single division attacking frontally against a numerically superior force was not enough to break the allied defences. It was enough to tie them down over the following weeks as German reinforcements marched north...

    Dunkirk, May 26th, 1940

    Allied counterattack in Arras on the 21st had failed to break the German encirclement. Boulogne had fallen to the Germans on the 25th. Calais had followed on the 26th. Only Dunkirk was left but Dunkirk held. And if Ares preferred the Germans, Poseidon was not as fickle. Britain had lived with and by the sea for centuries. It proved it once more as the Royal Navy ships moving to evacuate British and French solders were joined by hundreds of ships from merchantmen to fishing trawlers to private boats. The Germans could throw perhaps the allies to the sea. But the sea would never belong to them...

    Abbeville, May 27th, 1940

    French and British forces, spearheaded by the French 4e DCR counter-attacked against the German bridgehead south of the Somme. By May 31st De Gaulle's troops had managed to completely reduce the bridgehead, inflicting severe casualties on the German 57th Infantry division although attempts to cross the Somme failed and the allies lost over 250 tanks in the fighting. But it still was a victory, one of only a handful so far...

    Dunkirk, June 4th, 1940

    The last evacuation ship, left Dunkirk. In nine days the allies had managed to evacuate 352,793 men including 137,662 French soldiers. Slightly over 25,000 French soldiers were left behind and forced to surrender. But still the evacuation was a massive success...

    Paris, June 5th, 1940


    Charles De Gaulle was made assistant secretary of war despite objections by both Petain and Weygand. But all their objections could not change the fact that De Gaulle was the sole French commander in mainland France to score some actual victories in the past month...

    Somme, June 5th, 1940

    Fall Rot, the second face of the invasion of France begun. By now 64 much reduced French divisions had to fight against 142 German divisions that also enjoyed air superiority. The German army quicly begun gaining ground with general Weygand and Petain starting to pressure their own government to ask the Germans for an armistice. And still German casualties per day were actually much higher than during the first phase of the invasion...

    Rome, June 10th, 1940

    Italy declared war against Britain and France. It was true that the Italian armed forces were not ready for war at the moment. But France was collapsing and Britain surely would not fight on alone. Italy just needed a few victories and a few casualties for the peace conference...

    [1] German numbers are slightly inferior to OTL where they had 2,442 tanks and 3,961 aircraft between somewhat higher casualties in Poland and the increased costs of Do-19...
     
    Part 59
  • Constantinople, June 11th, 1940

    Since its occupation in 1919, Britain, France and Italy had divided the city into three zones with the Italians holding the Asian side, the French the old city and the British Pera and Galata. Perhaps naturally the Italians had tended to turn a blind eye to Turkish activities and the British and French to Greek activities but despite tensions and the occasional riot the past two decades had been relatively easy on the queen of cities. This was about to change as French and British ships sailed out of the Golden Horn, followed by hundreds of small boats and ferries, commandeered locally, volunteered might had been a more accurate word for their mostly Greek owners, full of French, Polish and British soldiers. The Italian garrison, 10,000 men and four infantry battalions of the 62º Reggimento fanteria "Sicilia" had already dug in, in their zone in anticipation of possible hostilities but the allied forces in Constantinople and the straits area, numbered more than 75,000 men. Under cover of the ships guns the allies quickly established bridgeheads on the Asian shore and start pushing inwards.

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    Allied troops in one of the mostly Greek neighbourhoods of Constantinople.

    Alps, June 11th, 1940

    22 Italian divisions, 4 of them Alpini attacked over the French border. General Olry the French commander in the area had only 4 divisions available. But they were enough. Over the next several days the Italian army would gain nearly no ground, despite suffering over 3,000 casualties. Mussolini would have to find his victory elsewhere...

    Sivas, June 12th, 1940

    The French and British ambassadors received the summons to the Turkish foreign ministry with some dread, fearing a declaration of war. The Turks had proved subtler. Instead the two ambassadors had been informed that in view of the current hostilities in Constantinople recklessly putting in danger the Turkish population and its property the Turkish government was forced to take action. Turkish troops were already in the move to occupy the Asian side of the city and Turkey was unilaterally rescinding her concession of administration rights to former allied powers. Italy, the allies were further informed had already agreed, to the Turkish ultimatum and Italian troops in Constantinople would be interned. France and Britain had a day to accept and to pull their soldiers back to the European side otherwise the Turkish army would remove them by force.

    Uskudar, June 13th, 1940

    Soldiers of the 11th Infantry division, paraded through the streets of Uskudar amidst throngs of jubilant Turkish civilians, Greeks and Armenians were quickly slipping over the Bosporus while there was still time to do so. It had been a closer run than many in the jubilant crowds might had suspected. Churchill's first reaction had been to push back when receiving the Turkish ultimatum. But the last thing the French government wanted at the moment had been one more hostile power and even within Britain there had been strong pressure to appease Turkey, after all the British strategic position would be little affected by Turkey taking over the former Italian zone but would significantly affected by Turkey joining the war.

    Athens, June 14th, 1940

    The French defeat was the say the least a shock to the Greek political and military establishment, even following the destruction of Poland the last thing anyone expected was for France to collapse within a month of the German offensive in the west. Italy joining the war had made things even worse although many in Athens and Belgrade had let a sigh of relief, since the feared Italy would attack east without declaring war on the western powers. There had been debate in Athens when Italy joined the war, whether Greece should join the fight even with France being clearly defeated. All such thoughts though had ended when France and Turkey let Turkey occupy Asiatic Constantinople. If the allies where clearly not willing to stand up to Turkey, Greece had no reason to join them and risk destruction. Greece would stay for now neutral. And something had to be done about Constantinople. Before the English gave the European side to the Turk as well...

    Ligurian sea, June 14th, 1940

    Three French heavy cruisers and 11 destroyers opened up against targets on the Italian coast around Genoa before being unsuccessfully engaged by Italian coastal forces, while the Force De Raid was providing distant cover to the bombarding force. Despite reluctance on the part of admiral Cavagnari, the Italian navy's commander the newly completed Littorio and Vittorio Veneto were ordered out of La Spezia to try to intercept the French fleet. The Italian navy with 4 active battleships was severely outnumbered by the French and British who had nine, thus particularly reluctant to engage its more numerous enemy. But Mussolini needed a fight. If the army could not provide him with a good enough fight then the navy should, after all Littorio and Vittorio Veneto had been loudly proclaimed the strongest ships in the world, surely they could deal with older or smaller French ships? Otherwise what was the point on the huge amounts spent on the navy if France, on the brink of disaster could be bombarding the Italian coast as will?

    The Italians fail to catch up with the raiding force, but do catch up with the Force de Raid. Or admiral Gensoul, with four battleships at hand and confident from the earlier sinking of the Deutschland, takes his chances and accepts battle with the Italians, Gensoul in the aftermath of the battle will keep silent to the end of his days. Either way things quickly turn sour for the French as Provence, suffers a catastrophic explosion and sinks with over a thousand sailors killed. Dunkerque hit by four 16in shells is severely damaged but survives. Strasbourg under captain Collinet, will successfully cover the retiring Dunkerque, while the Italians with Littorio having suffered some damage from 330mm fire will not press home the attack saving the French from war. The Force de Raid retires to Toulon...

    Bordeaux, June 16th, 1940


    Prime minister Paul Reynaud was all for France fighting on, from the empire. But he had made the mistake, not to remove Petain from his cabinet as De Gaulle had advised. Or perhaps he had been unable to do so. Either way Petain backed by Weygand and Darlan had pressed for an armistice instead and his opinion had prevailed. Reynaud would resign, replaced by Petain the next day. And Petain would ask for an armistice. Of the people opposing the armistice Georges Mandel would refuse to escape to Britain, leaving only Charles De Gaulle to go on fighting.

    Compiegne, June 22nd, 1940

    The armistice between Germany and France was signed in the very train wagon the 1918 armistice had been signed. Now it was to be seen who in the French empire would accept Petain's regime and who would join De Gaulle's Free France...
     
    Part 60 The cross of Lorraine in the queen of cities.
  • French North Africa, June 22nd, 1940

    General Nogues reaction, to news of the armistice negotiations had been to proclaim he would fight on from North Africa. His proclamation had been met by widespread support elsewhere in the empire, with commanders from Georges Catroux in Idochina and Mittelhauser in Syria to Paul Legentihoppe in Djibouti and Leon Cayla in Madagascar declaring they would follow his lead and Charles De Gaulle in London offering to place himself under his orders. But Nogues had quickly soured to the idea of fighting on. He first suppressed news of De Gaulle's call for resistance in June 18th. Then with the armistice not giving up the fleet and the empire he proclaimed the armistice was "honourable". North Africa would follow the lead of Petain's government.

    Constantinople, June 23rd, 1940

    People start flocking in the Greek and Armenian churches in numbers unprecedented for any normal Sunday. At the end of the mass they would sign on the books for the call for the queen of cities to join Greece. By the end of the day nearly 90% of the Greek and Armenian adult population had signed for union. Alexandros Zannas and Antonis Benakis were already in Constantinople representing the Greek government to receive the results.

    Andkillen, Norway, June 24th, 1940

    The allied lines in Mo-i-Rana had first been attacked by a single German division to no effect. Then the single division had become three and soon after four and the Germans had start gaining ground. The allies had still contested the German advance step by step and were fighting on, Churchill had resisted French pressure to withdraw while the three French brigades in the area, as well as the Polish highland brigade were too heavily engaged against the Germans to be pulled out and truth to tell too small given the number engaged in France to be worth pulling out in the first place. But now France had capitulated and general Bethouart, the commander of the French and Polish forces in Norway had to take his own decision whether he was going to fight on or follow Petain's lead. It was not an easy decision to take. The Poles had made it clear they would fight on and so had the commander of the 13e DBLE. If Bethouart laid down his arms it would open a major gap to the allied line probably leading to the destruction of the Norwegian and British forces. Follow the orders from Vichy to surrender and betray the allies his forces with dying side by side since April or fight on. In the end it was not much a a dilemma. Bethouart and the three French brigades in Norway joined Free France.

    French Polynesia, June 24th, 1940

    New Hebrides became the first French territory to join Free France. Despite some resistance the rest of French Polynesia would follow over the next few weeks.

    French coast, June 25th, 1940

    Between the destruction of Poland and the surrender of France the free Polish army had grown to 127,000 men and 6 divisions. Of these the 1st and 2nd divisions, formed mostly from soldiers escaping Poland had been stationed n Constantinople while the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th divisions had been formed in France. the 5th and 6th divisions had been still training but the 3rd and 4th divisions had been heavily engaged. 4th division had been forced to escape into Swiss territory and internment there, while the 3rd division had managed to reach the sea were operation Aerial the allied evacuation was in full swing. By June 25th, 220,390 men including 144,171 British, 40,517 Poles, 30,601 French, 4,938 Czechs and 163 Belgians had managed to escape.

    Constantinople, June 27th, 1940

    Benakis and Zannas had been sent to Constantinople to facilitate the Greco-Armenian referendum in support for union with Greece. With France collapsings they had also been sent into Constantinople with express instructions to make certain by any means necessary that in Constantinople, as Dragoumis had put it the Fench should stay in and the Turks out, with the Greek XX Infantry division from Alexandroupolis and XXI Infantry division from Raidestos mobilized and massed on Catalca ready to march into Constantinople should the need arise. Admiral Durand-Viel, Darlan's predecessor as head of the French navy and admiral Raoul Castex, head of the French forces in Constantinople had sat on fence since the armistice, while they received increasingly frantic orders from Vichy to accept the armistice. The 1st and 2nd Polish divisions had already declared they would fight on, and so had the 2nd Armenian regiment. The other two French regiments, 5e REI and 24e RMIC were long service regulars of the Legion and La Coloniale, who would follow their commanders but would hardly mind the order to go on fighting, if anything many had taken the orders to pull back from Uskudar as a professional insult. So in the end it was down to Castex and Durand-Viel. Castex was sympathetic to fighting on and every order from Darlan to stand down pushed him the other way given the rivalry between the two men. Pressure on Durand-Viel wasn't being received much better for similar reasons. The Benakis-Zannas duo would give him just the last push he needed to go to the allied direction. Durand-Viel had been vice president of the Suez Canal company. Benakis had not been chosen by Dragoumis, just due to his family connections. His family was one of the most prominent in the Greek community of Alexandria with large economic interests in Egypt and the Suez, thus Dragoumis had counted that he should be able to influence Durand-Viel and play on his interest to retain the French share in Suez. In the night of the 27th the dice was finally cast. French forces in Constantinople declared for Free France.

    Beirut, July 2nd, 1940

    Much like Constantinople French Syria was sitting on the fence after the armistice. Gabriel Puax, the high commissioner for the Levant was sympathizing with free France. General Mittelhauser the army commander had been sympathetic, when Nogues had declared he would fight on he had supported him but like many French soldiers of his generation had been an admirer of Petain thus vaccilated. Within his army there were several thousands Armenian volunteers, though only a single Armenian regiment 1 RIA in 191e DI as well as thousands of Lebanese, Kurds , Alevis and Circassians that sympathized with joining Free France out of fear of what would happen to French Syria if it came under German influence given Germany's close ties to Turkey. Castex once he had taken the decision to follow Free France had taken the situation in his hands and the French squadron in Constantinople had sailed out within 48 hours for Beirut escorting two of the three regiments of the 193e DI, before Vichy got into its mind to replace Pouax and Mittelhauser with its own loyalists. Ten thousand men and the guns of Lorraine had proven very persuasive, particularly when the two men, Pouax in particular were sympathetic in the first place. In July 3rd French Syria joined Free France.

    Britain, July 3rd, 1940

    British boarding parties went aboard the French ships in British ports capturing them with virtually no resistance. Operation Trebuchet, the attempt to neutralize the Marine Nationale lest it fall to the hands of the axis was on...

    Toulon, July 3rd, 1940

    Jean Bart, was nearly complete when she had been ordered out of Saint Nazaire. Initially supposed to go to Britain, then Casablanca, then Mers el Kebir, after Gensoul's defeat in the Ligurian sea, with the signing of the armstice she had found herself at Toulon where her fitting out could complete. Along with Dunkerque and Bretagne, she would form a very powerful squadron when Dunkerque was fully repaired. But Toulon was too well protected for the British to touch. No action would be taken there.

    Mers El Kebir, July 3rd, 1940

    With Dunkerque unavailable, Force De Raid had been reconstituted around Strasbourg and Richelieu, recalled from Scapa Flow much to the British discomfort, and moved to Mers El Kebir under the temporary command of rear admiral Lacroix, as Gensoul remained with Dunkerque at Toulon. When the British had showed up with HMS Rodney, Valiant, Resolution and Ark Royal, Lacroix didn't have many particularly palpable options. He could join Free France, even though a protege of Darlan he was sympathetic to resisting the Germans, personally very Anglophile and Castex and Durand-Viel joining Free France was hardly something that could be taken lightly by any French officer. Or he could fight them. As he start negotiating with the British he ordered his own ships to raise up steam and stop disarming. His crews had reacted to the order with cheers thinking they were rejoining the war, but Lacroix himself had been still undecided debating between the options of moving his squadron to the French West Indies or joining Free France. Radio Beirut announcing the French Syria had just joined Free France came at the right moment to break the indecision. Lacroix, with Richelieu, Strasbourg, Algerie and six large destroyers joined Free France. Over the next few weeks so would also a third of the 45,000 French soldiers in Britain...
     
    Part 61 A not so splendid little war
  • Bessarabia, July 1st, 1940

    The Soviet ultimatum on Romania had expired the previous day. Germany, Italy and Britain had all refused any help to Romania but the 76 year old Bratianu had no intention to give up Moldavia, or any other part of the country without a fight. Romania had mobilized 1.2 million men. Two thirds of them in 20 infantry divisions had been deployed in Moldavia, the rest covering the Hungarian and Bulgarian borders. The Soviet southern front under Georgy Zhukov had actually fewer men, about 600,000 in 29 divisions but also had nearly 3,000 tanks and a clear superiority in artillery. It remained to be seen if it was enough.

    Narvik, July 5th, 1940

    British, Polish and Free French, warships evacuated allied forces from Narvik. Churchill had hoped that Narvik could had held out, particularly since supply problem had meant that the Germans could hardly keep in supply the 4 divisions that nominally had gone north and only a fraction was actually in action. But the Germans could still keep replacing casualties, had near complete air superiority that had become even more pronounced following the collapse of France and their troops on the ground held a clear quality advantage partticularly against the Norwegian reservists that pre war had received very limited training. The evacuation at least had gone most well, the Kriegsmarine after the casualties it had received earlier in the campaign had not ventured out to challenge the evacuations. About 22,700 men had made it out of Narvik in the final evacuations, including over 8,000 Norwegians and nearly 9,000 French and Poles. It hadn't been cheap for the allies who had suffered 15,589 casualties including 2 battleships, 2 cruisers, 9 destroyers and 3 submarines. German casualties had been slightly lighter at 12,682 men, with 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, 10 destroyers, 6 submarines, 2 torpedo boats and over two dozen transports. But the Germans could at least claim victory even if it had been a Pyrrhic one for their navy...

    Chisinau, Moldavia, July 11th, 1940

    Soviet troops entered the city. Romanian troops were fighting well, but Zhukov appeared to be doing decidedly better than his fellow generals in Finland...

    English channel, July 17th, 1940

    Luftwaffe aircraft start attacking British ships and RAF patrols over the English channel. The "kanalkampf" the prelude to the all out Luftwaffe assault on Britain. The previous day Hitler had issued a directive calling for preparations to invade Britain. How practical such a plan was, was a different matter and the British government was understandably very worried, although the decisions of Castex and Lacroix to fight on had brought a much needed boost in British and allied morale.

    Prut river, Romania, July 23rd, 1940

    The Romanian army was forced behind the Prut. Behind the cover of the river its resistance would stiffen, while Germany start exerting diplomatic pressure for an armistice, Moldavia had been handed over to the Soviets back in the previous August but the rest of Romania was a different matter...

    Beirut, July 24th, 1940

    Lorraine, followed her escorts out of the port. Behind her the transports carrying the 24e régiment mixte colonial and the 17e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais followed. By the end of the day they would be passing Suez. Their next stop would be Djibuti, a visit would further strengthen Legentilhomme's position there, only the timely dispatch a two cruisers carrying Algerian Tirailleurs had stopped a Vichy takeover of the colony after Legentilhomme had refused entry to the Italian armistice commission and the Italians had reacted by having Weygand appoint a higher ranking officer in command of French Somaliland. Then they'd head further south.

    Nafpaktos, Western Greece, July 31st, 1940

    Two Greek destroyers and two submarines lay in the harbour when a handful of Italian bombers showed up dropping bombs of them. The destroyers antiaircraft guns quickly opened up and the Italian aircraft left, no damage inflicted on either side. Count Ciano would refuse the complaints by the Greek ambassador, claiming that surely it was British aircraft that had attacked the Greeks. It wasn't the first attack. It wouldn't be the last.

    Rome, August 6th, 1940

    Mussolini railed against the Yugoslavs. Something had to be done about them, before the war was over. Orders to be ready to invade Yugoslavia if necessary before the end of September were given.

    Bucharest, August 6th, 1940

    The Romanian army had managed to fight the Soviet southern front to a standstill on the Prut but it was understood that time was not running in the Romanian favour. German intervention had brought an armistice. The Romanians had failed to save Moldavia and had suffered 81,487 casualties in 37 days of fighting, Zhukov's troops had lost 52,869 men and 264 tanks. For what it was worth they could at least say they had not sold out their Moldavian brethren. But any positive effect from that was far in the future. For now Bratianu had been forced off the government with a government of Germanophiles under Ion Gigurtu and including Codreanu's Iron Guard had taken over as part of the effort to secure German support. The Germans after helping secure an armistice had nevertheless begun pressuring the Romanians to cede territory to both Hungary and Bulgaria.

    Diego Suarez, August 7th, 1940

    Leon Cayla had replaced Marcel de Coppet as governor general of Madagascar a week earlier as Coppet had wanted to side with Free France. Cayla had made noises of fighting on as governor of Dakar, which had led to his replacement by general Boisson but was deemed sufficiently loyal to Petain to take over Madagascar. But being under the guns of the Lorraine, with 7,000 regulars ready to storm Diego Suarez had been mighty persuasive in getting Cayla to remember his resistance proclivities or at the very least not resist De Coppet returning to office. Madagascar joined Free France.

    Rome, August 11th, 1940

    Mussolini railed against the Greeks. Something had to be done about them, before the war was over and avenge the slight given Italy over Corfu in 1923. Orders to be ready to invade Greece if necessary were given. Mussolini also wanted to know about a Daut Hoxha, an Albanian cattle thief murdered by a rival gang that Ciano was presenting to him as an Albanian patriot supposedly murdered by the Greeks.

    Southern England, August 13th, 1940

    Hundreds of Luftwaffe aircraft blackened the sky as Spitfires and Hurricanes rose up to take them on. The battle of Britain was beginning in earnest. The Luftwaffe had massed 3,358 aircraft, 2,550 of them operational out of a total a 3,951 against 2,082 RAF aircraft. It remained to be seen if they would suffice to enable the first successful invasion of the British islands since the time of the Glorious Revolution. [1]

    Tinos, August 15th, 1940

    The training ship Athena, formerly Helli had been sent to participate in the festivities for the Dormition of the Virgin, despite increasing fears of Italian action. The Italian submarine Delfino, given by the Dodecanese governor De Vecchi orders to sink any ship in found in the Cyclades, fired three torpedoes on it. One was enough to sink Athena, with a second one sinking the passenger ship Hesperos. Delfino would not survive as it was attacked shortly afterwards by the Greek destroyers Aspis and Formion. De Vecchi had interpreted orders by Mussolini to attack neutral shipping at will as Mussolini planning an immediate start of hostilities against Greece. It remained to be seen if he was right and if he was not whether he had perhaps landed Italy into war with Greece no matter Mussolini's intentions. Dragoumis had given immediate orders to keep secret the nationality of the submarine, but it was one of these secrets everyone knew or at the very least highly suspected. Greece caught its collective breath...

    [1] Observant people might note that the RAF is slightly stronger 2,082 aircraft instead of 1963 as it suffered lower casualties over France, while the Luftwaffe's overall strength is slightly lower at 3,951 aircraft compared to 4,074.
     
    Last edited:
    Appendix Greek census data summer 1940
  • Summer 1940 two decades have passed since Sevres, expedient time for some statistics...

    Regional population of Greece, 1920 to 1940


    Region1920 (exchanged populations not counted)1922 (post population exchanges)TTL 1940 censusOTL 1920 censusOTL 1940 census
    Central Greece
    555,165​
    555,165​
    645,726​
    555,165​
    742,760​
    Peloponnese
    945,204​
    945,204​
    1,099,390​
    945,204​
    1,163,602​
    Ionians
    224,189​
    224,189​
    216,376​
    224,189​
    219,562​
    Thessaly
    434,920​
    434,920​
    531,094​
    438,408​
    573,417​
    Macedonia
    570,212​
    778,641​
    1,127,210​
    916,042​
    1,474,898​
    Epirus
    474,234​
    474,234​
    536,144​
    266,835​
    362,332​
    Crete
    346,584​
    346,584​
    424,902​
    346,584​
    438,239​
    Aegean
    386,835​
    386,835​
    373,723​
    395,442​
    433,037​
    Thrace
    463,189​
    634,740​
    918,890​
    704,208​
    359,923​
    Ionia
    767,540​
    1032,577​
    1,494,824​
    No census​
    0​
    Attica
    116,866​
    116,866​
    168,749​
    116,866​
    168,749​
    Athens
    453,042​
    453,042​
    700,095​
    453,042​
    1,124,109​
    Smyrna
    310,971​
    371,798​
    566,819​
    No census​
    0​
    Thessaloniki
    128,501​
    161,164​
    200,426​
    174,390​
    284,232​
    Total
    6,177,452​
    6,915,959​
    9,004,369​
    5,536,375​
    7,344,860​

    Evolution of Greek GDP and population 1910-1940


    YearGDP millions $ current pricesPopulationPer capita GDP $ current prices
    1910​
    127,832.684.09047,62
    1911​
    163,932.701.69860,68
    1912​
    159,352.719.42258,60
    1913​
    165,714.819.79334,38
    1914​
    239,034.818.24549,61
    1915​
    274,834.816.99857,05
    1916​
    364,204.816.05075,62
    1917​
    520,124.815.401108,01
    1918​
    811,634.815.049168,56
    1919​
    687,794.814.994142,84
    1920​
    783,415.016.889156,15
    1921​
    779,695.089.515153,19
    1922​
    801,857.026.585114,12
    1923​
    797,667.097.580112,38
    1924​
    779,377.189.980108,40
    1925​
    911,727.336.337124,27
    1926​
    939,047.477.781125,58
    1927​
    895,187.576.898118,15
    1928​
    963,197.631.058126,22
    1929​
    1005,987.760.589129,63
    1930​
    1073,637.827.917137,15
    1931​
    978,397.945.508123,14
    1932​
    720,338.045.83489,53
    1933​
    888,428.142.271109,11
    1934​
    1171,048.262.597141,73
    1935​
    1233,508.397.409146,89
    1936​
    1237,048.517.443145,24
    1937​
    1443,298.629.884167,24
    1938​
    1463,588.740.925167,44
    1939​
    1327,698.958.718148,20
    1940​
    1519,679.004.369168,77

    Minorities in Greece

    Ethnic group/religionPopulation
    Armenian
    275,358​
    Jewish
    132,991​
    Albanian
    126,106​
    Muslim
    171,161​
    Slavomacedonian
    81,844​
    Foreigners (includes Smyrna Levantines) 56,168

    Composition of Muslim population

    GroupPopulation
    Circassian
    54,800​
    Pomak
    77,240​
    Cretan Muslims
    23,021​
    Valaad
    11,700​
    Ioannina Muslims (Turko-Giannote)
    3,200​
    Muslim Vlachs
    1,200​

    Comparative growth of Greek industrial output TTL and OTL

    YearOTLTTL
    1913​
    29,71​
    29,71​
    1914​
    31,08​
    31,08​
    1915​
    32,52​
    32,52​
    1916​
    34,03​
    34,03​
    1917​
    35,60​
    35,60​
    1918​
    37,25​
    37,25​
    1919​
    38,98​
    38,98​
    1920​
    40,78​
    40,78​
    1921​
    42,67​
    57,42​
    1922​
    47,04​
    63,30​
    1923​
    45,54​
    73,00​
    1924​
    54,95​
    88,09​
    1925​
    61,38​
    98,40​
    1926​
    56,04​
    89,84​
    1927​
    62,43​
    100,08​
    1928​
    72,73​
    116,59​
    1929​
    76,26​
    122,25​
    1930​
    69,93​
    112,10​
    1931​
    67,50​
    108,21​
    1932​
    67,07​
    107,52​
    1933​
    74,62​
    119,62​
    1934​
    86,19​
    138,17​
    1935​
    89,84​
    144,02​
    1936​
    93,56​
    149,98​
    1937​
    97,69​
    156,60​
    1938​
    100,00​
    160,31​
    1939​
    106,42​
    170,60​
     
    Part 62
  • Athens, August 17th, 1940

    Little doubt existed in the Greek government about who was responsible for the attack in Tιnos, after all torpedo fragments with Italian markings had already been retrieved from the harbour. The only question was whether the Italians would actually go to war or not following the attack. Much to the surprise and some relief for Athens they had not done so, so far and had even gone so far as to claim the attack had been in reality a British provocation. The Italian ambassador Emmanuelle Gracchi had even shown up to complain about several Greek newspaper hinting or openly accusing Italy for the attack, only to be told that the Greek government had made no such accusations but Greece had freedom of the press, if he didn't like what the papers were writing about his country he could take it up to the courts. Of course hint had already reached Gracchi that at least one article titled "the stiletto" by George Vlachos of the Kathimerini, the leading conservative paper, had been written at the instigation of the prime minister...

    Djibouti, August 19th, 1940


    40,000 Italian troops had invaded the French and British Somalilands, after the French one had definitely declared for Free France. Allied forces about 8,000 French and 4,500 British colonial troops had initially been pushed back, albeit slowly. But the French had been reinforced with the 29th Algerian regiment from Syria and with the political situation secure the regiment had been quickly rushed to the front, adding more than 3,000 men to the allied army. It had been enough to tip the balance. The Italian advance was stopped with slightly over 5,000 casualties for about 1,400 allied casualties.

    Rome, August 20th, 1940

    The Supermarina announced that the submarine Delfino had been lost at sea with all hands during patrol. No information was available where the submarine exactly was when it was patrolling or the cause of the loss.

    Valona, August 21st, 1940

    The last element of the 51st Siena division reached Albania increasing Italian divisions in Albania to six, one of them the 131st Centauro armoured. Given port limitations it took at least 6 days to move a new infantry division and its support elements to Albania.

    Chad, August 26th, 1940

    The colony declared for Free France.

    Berlin, August 27th, 1940

    The Germans refused to take part on any Italian operation against either Greece or Yugoslavia, precedence had to be given to the coming assault on Britain that would knock her out of the war. But if Italy felt compelled to take immediate action against the two Bankan countries Germany would not object, as long as it dod not hinder operations against Britain. After all both the Greeks and the Yugoslavs had clearly shown they were not friendly to the Reich, the Yugoslavs overthrowing an Axis-friendly prime minister and British instigation and the Greeks openly signing a treaty with France and Britain and meddling in support of the allies in Constantinople. French foreign ministry papers capture at Sarite were even speaking about plans of a Balkan front against Germany. Should it be Yugoslavia or Greece first. Yugoslavia had the larger army. Greece had a much tougher navy that joined up to the British Mediterranean fleet could be a problem. In the end it was up to what the Duce decided. Or how he woke up the day before ordering the invasion...

    Libreville, Gabon August 28th, 1940

    French equatorial Africa had declared for free France but pro-Vichy elements in Gabon had tried to hold out. Their resistance though had collapsed when Castex's fleet had shown up. All French African possessions south of Senegal had joined Free France.

    Vienna, August 30th, 1940

    Gigurtu had hoped that being pro-German would spare Romania further territorial loss. It had not as Germany and Italy had forced Romania to cede Transylvania to Hungary. Romania could had resisted of course, but then nothing guaranteed the Soviets would not invade again along the Hungarians and Bulgarians. Two thirds of the army were still tied down on the Prut to hold back against a renewed Soviet offensive. What remained would not stand up to the Hungarians and Bulgarians without Yugoslav and Greek support. But the Balkan Entente was for all practical purposes dead. 1.3 million Romanians had just been lost to the country without a fight. In September 7th the treaty of Craiva would also cost Romania Southern Dobruja. The Gigurtu government had already been overthrown by a coup led by Ion Antonescu and Codreanu's Iron Guard from the previous day.

    Alexandria, September 3rd, 1940

    Thomas Edward Shaw, left his motorcycle, a Brough Superior SS 100 he had managed to bring all the way from Britain, in the parking and entered the hotel. Somewhat to the surprise of the manager on the concierge he addressed him in fluent Greek, the ever observant manager had noticed he had talked to the bell-boy in equally fluent Arabic. The newly minted senior agent of the newly minted SOE, went straight to his room a copy of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur under his left arm.

    Constantinople, September 10th, 1940

    With the collapse of the League of Nations and then the fall of France the British high commissioner had found himself in de facto control of Constantinople. The Italian commissioner was gone, admiral Durand-Viel the French one had effectively lost all influence, the Greek and Turkish ones could influence the local populations in ways he could not match but did not represent great powers. Now he found himself under increasing pressure from the Greeks to proclaim an official referendum for the union of the city, or rather its European part with Greece. But such a move would completely alienate Turkey and this was something the Foreign office wanted to avoid, indeed low level talks were underway in Sivas to see what would be the Turkish price for keeping out of the mess. The Greeks should understand and stop pressing for Constantinople. More they should perhaps make some concessions to the Turks, even if that particular proposal wasn't exactly popular with his own government as well, particularly Churchill. But if every idea of the prime minister was taken at face value...

    French Indochina, September 20th, 1940

    Catroux and then admiral Decoux, had kept trying to stall the negotiations with Japan since June. But the Japanese would not accept any more stalling. Decoux received a Japanese ultimatum to accept Japanese troops into French territory. Two days later the Japanese 5th division would enter Indochina.

    Slovenia, September 20th, 1940

    A thousand guns opened up on Yugoslav positions as the Italian 1st, 2nd and 8th armies, jumped off their starting positions. Closely behind the motorised and celere divisions of the Army of the Po were ready to exploit any success. Yugoslav units, fought back but the Yugoslav 7th army had two infantry and a cavaltry divisions along with three mountain brigades facing 30 Italian divisions. Of course each Yugoslav brigade was about the size of an Italian division. But then the Yugoslav divisions were just mobilizing and Yugoslavia had been facing severe domestic trouble since her creation that even the recent agreement between Dragisa Cvetkovic, the deputy prime minister of the Stanojevic government and Vladko Macek the head of the Croatian peasant party calling for federalising Yugoslavia had come perhaps too late to relieve tensions. Then again the Slovenes had excellent reasons to hate fascist Italy...

    Albania, September 20th, 1940

    Eleven Italian divisions and the 7th army headquarters had been brought to Albania. Seven of these, backed by about 10,000 Albanian auxiliaries invaded Kosovo and Montenegro while 4 more covered the border with Greece.

    Belgrade, September 20th, 1940

    Yugoslav fighters rose up to meet the Italian bombers. The Italian CR.42s escorting the bombers barely had sufficient range to reach Belgrade. And facing the Yugoslav IK-3s, Hurricanes and LN-161s would prove a rude surprise. The bombing of Belgrade would not be repeated for some time.

    Athens, September 20th, 1940.

    Ion Dragoumis signed the orders mobilizing 2 full corps. Greece was not joining the war, right away at least, but the writing in the wall appeared to be pretty clear...

    Dakar, September 23rd, 1940

    The lifting of the morning fog revealed a Free French fleet including Richelieu, Strasbourg and Lorraine. General Boisson would still not be intimidated, even in the knowledge that four infantry regiments were carried with the fleet. However reluctant both sides were soon enough bullets replaced talk and cannon fire followed bullets. But the Free French forces were stronger and Boisson had no hope of reinforcement. It would take a week of somewhat desultory fighting before Dakar surrendered to De Gaulle. Boisson and Vichy loyalists would be allowed to evacuate to Morocco. Hopes that Morocco and Algeria might follow Dakar and Senegal would soon prove empty as the Vichy hold on them was too strong at the moment.
     
    Appendix Balkan Air Forces September 1940
  • A. Yugoslavia

    1. Aircraft inventory

    25 Rogozarski IK-3
    24 Loire-Nieuport LN-161
    80 Hawker Hurricane
    12 Ikarus IK-2
    30 Hawker Fury
    27 PZL 37
    83 Bristol Blenheim
    42 Fairey Battle
    6 Walrus
    36 Lysander
    120 Breguet 19
    120 Potez 25
    15 Rogozarski SIM-XIV-H
    10 Do-16
    262 trainer aircraft of various types

    Total: 892
    Fighters: 171
    Bombers: 152
    Army cooperation: 276
    Naval cooperation: 31

    2. Aircraft industry: Rogozarski, Ikarus, Zmaj aircraft factories. Locally designed IK-3 fighter under production, Hawker Hurricane, PZL 37, Bristol Blenheim locally produced under licence. Production hindered by lack of domestic engine production capacity.

    3. Air defences: No radar available

    80 Skoda vz37 80mm
    132 Skoda vz28 80mm
    328 FK M05/28 80mm (converted to static AA)
    40 Skoda vz37 75mm
    360 20mm and 15mm AA

    B. Bulgaria

    1. Aircraft inventory

    10 Bf-109E
    53 PZL P24 (most grounded from lack of spares)
    78 Avia B.534
    28 Do-17
    32 Avia B.71 (SB-2)
    38 PZL 43
    60 Letov S.328
    12 Do-11
    12 MB.200
    183 trainer aircraft of various types

    Total: 474
    Fighters: 141
    Bombers: 122
    Army cooperation: 60
    Naval cooperation: 0

    2. Aircraft industry: DAR aircraft factory. Building only trainer aircraft. Proposed local production of Avia B.135 stopped by Germany.

    3. Air defences: No radar available

    20 Flak 18 88mm
    412 Solothurn & Oerlikon AA guns

    C. Turkey

    1. Aircraft inventory

    60 Bf-109E (40 more under delivery)
    48 PZL P24
    25 FIAT CR.32
    24 He-111
    40 SM-79
    40 Do-17
    24 Do-22
    16 Hs.126
    10 Fi.156
    25 He-50
    28 FIAT BR.3
    125 trainer aircraft of various types

    Total: 465
    Fighters: 133
    Bombers: 104
    Army cooperation: 79
    Naval cooperation: 24

    2. Aircraft industry: TOMTAS aircraft factory Kayseri. Licence production of Re.2000, Do-17, Hs.126 underway.

    3. Air defences: No radar available

    39 Flak 18 88mm
    36 Bofors 75mm
    66 Flak 36 37mm
    108 Flak 30 20mm

    D. Greece

    1. Aircraft inventory

    35 KEA Ierax I (TTL PZL P.53 [1])
    40 Loire-Nieuport LN-161
    90 PZL P.24F
    18 PZL 37
    24 Martin 167
    30 Bristol Blenheim
    82 KEA Khelidon II [2]
    40 Breguet 19
    24 Fairey IIIF
    24 Avro Anson
    200 trainer aircraft of various types

    Total: 607
    Fighters: 165
    Bombers: 72
    Army cooperation: 122
    Naval cooperation: 48

    2. Aircraft industry: KEA aircraft factory in Athens. Ierax I, PZL 37 locally produced. Limited local production of Merlin III engine under licence.

    3. Air defences: Experimental radars built by National Technical University of Athens outside Athens and Smyrna [3]

    96 Bofors 75mm
    288 Bofors 40mm

    4. HAF Order of Battle

    11 Naval Squadron (Fairey IIIF)
    12 Naval Squadron (Fairey IIIF)
    13 Naval Squadron (Avro Anson)
    14 Naval Squadron (Avro Anson)
    15 Bomber Squadron (PZL 37 forming)
    21 Fighter Squadron (Ierax I)
    22 Fighter Squadron (Ierax I)
    23 Fighter Squadron ( PZL P.24)
    24 Fighter Squadron (PZL P.24)
    25 Fighter Squadron (PZL P.24)
    26 Fighter Squadron (PZL P.24)
    27 Fighter Squadron (PZL P.24)
    28 Fighter Squadron (PZL P.24)
    29 Fighter Squadron (LN-161)
    30 Fighter Squadron (LN-161)
    31 Bomber Squadron (Bristol Blenheim)
    32 Bomber Squadron (Bristol Blenheim)
    33 Bomber Squadron (PZL 37)
    34 Bomber Squadron (Martin 167)
    35 Bomber Squadron (Martin 167)
    A Army Cooperation Squadron (Khelidon II)
    B Army Cooperation Squadron (Breguet 19)
    C Army Cooperation Squadron (Khelidon II)
    D Army Cooperation Squadron (Breguet 19)
    E Army Cooperation Squadron (Khelidon II)
    Smyrna Army Cooperation Squadron (Khelidon II)

    [1] OTL PZL.55 with 1030HP Merlin III engine 570 kph top speed, 2x Oerlikon FF 20mm, 4x Colt-Browning 7.7mm
    [2] Army liaison roughly comparable to Heinkel Hs.126
    [3] Historical
     
    Appendix Hellenic Navy September 1940
  • A. Battleships

    Salamis class (1935)
    Units: 1 (Salamis)
    Displacement: 27,500t
    Armament: 6x16in, 16x120mm AA, 16x40mm AA
    Protection: 14in belt, 6in deck
    Speed: 28kts

    Small battleship designed and built by Vickers, based off the Project 892 design, to counter Turkish armoured ships

    B. Cruisers

    Lemnos class (1938)
    Units: 2 (Lemnos, Helli)
    Displacement: 10,656t
    Armament: 9x8in, 12x5in DP guns, 12x40mm AA
    Protection: 5in belt, 3.15in deck
    Speed: 32.5 kts

    A pair of heavy cruisers originally planned in the mid 1920s as replacements for the two pre-dreadnoughts in Greek service, the ordered was delayed to 1935 due to the need to build Salamis. Ordered from US yards in 1935 after Britain refused the order. Design derived from the US Brooklyn class but with additional AA guns taking the place of the aircraft facilities.

    Averof class (1911)
    Units: 1 (Averof)
    Displacement: 10,200t
    Armament: 4x9.2in, 8x7.6in, 12x3in AA, 6x40mm AA
    Protection: 8in belt, 3in deck (post modernization)
    Speed: 26 kts (post modernization)

    Major modernization 1925-27, with new fire control, bulging, new oil fired machinery and improved horizontal protection

    Katsonis class (1915/1922)
    Units: 2
    Displacement: 5,200t
    Armament: 6x5in DP guns, 8x40mm
    Protection: 2in belt, 1.5in deck
    Speed: 26.5kts

    Originally ordered in 1914, taken over by the RN and sold back to Greece in 1920. Plans to replace them frozen due to world crisis instead ships locally converted to anti-aircraft cruisers 1938-39, with US guns and their 5.5in guns used for coastal defences.

    C. Destroyers

    Themistoklis class (1939)
    Units: 2 (Themistoklis, Miaoulis)
    Displacement: 3,205t
    Armament: 6x5in DP guns, 8x40mm 16x21in TT
    Speed: 40kts

    A pair of very large destroyers or small light cruisers built in Britain, deriving from the admiralty's L90 design but with US 5/38 guns in place of the 5,25in of the original British design as the latter were unavailable. Reduction in weight

    Sfendoni class (1937)
    Units: 6 (Sfendoni, Niki, Aspis, Velos, Thyella, Logchi)
    Displacement: 1360t
    Armament: 4x5in DP, 4x40mm AA, 8x21in TT
    Speed: 36kts

    H class destroyers, locally built in Greece with American armament as British industry could not deliver the originally intended Vickers guns.

    Hydra class (1928)
    Units: 6
    Displacement: 1340t
    Armament: 4x4.7in, 4x40mm AA, 8x21in TT
    Speed: 36kts

    British designed ships similar to the Royal Navy's A class destroyers and the Dutch Admiralen class

    Aetos class (1912)
    Units: 4 (Aetos, Ierax, Panthir, Leon)
    Displacement: 1050t
    Armament: 4x4in, 4x40mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 32kts

    Thoroughly modernized in 1925 with new oil fired machinery and fire control.

    Kriti class (1919/21)
    Units: 6 (Kriti, Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Doxa, Keraunos)
    Displacement: 1075t
    Armament: 3x4in, 2x40mm, 4x21in TT
    Speed: 36kts

    Admiralty S class destroyers sold to Greece in 1920


    D. Submarines

    Poseidon class (1935)
    Units: 6 (Pipinos, Matrozos, Aphitriti, Poseidon, Okeanos, Pontos)
    Displacement: 670/960t
    Armament: 6x21in TT, 1x3in, 1x40mm AA
    Speed:15/10kts

    S class submarines build either in Britain or locally.

    Glaukos class (1927)
    Units: 6 (Papanikolis, Glaukos, Proteus, Nereus, Triton, Triaina)
    Displacement: 730/960t
    Armament: 8x21in TT, 1x100mm, 1x40mm AA
    Speed: 14/9.5kts

    French built submarines, ordered in the 1920s
     
    Appendix Turkish Navy September 1940
  • A. Battleships

    Fatih class (1933)
    Units: 1 (Fatih Sultan Mehmet)
    Displacement: 11,850t
    Armament: 6x283mm, 12x120mm, 6x37mm AA
    Protection: 200mm belt, 70mm deck
    Speed: 29kts

    An Italian built and designed pocket battleship, inspired by the German panzerschiffe, Fatih's construction triggered the building of the Greek Salamis which in turn caused an Italian response, precipitating the renewed naval race between France and Italy. Fatih itself even though inferior to Salamis is seen as a good investment in Turkey, if anything the Greeks had to spend over three times as much on Salamis.

    Barbaros class (1929)
    Units: 1 (Barbaros)
    Displacement: 7,700t
    Armament: 4x283mm, 12x120mm, 6x37mm AA
    Protection: 200mm belt, 70mm deck
    Speed: 25kts

    Swedish designed coastal battleship, built in 1927-29 at the Dutch Wilton-Fijenoord shipyards for the Turkish navy, the ship used a pair of 283mm mountings left behind after the battlecruiser Sultan Selim Yavuz had to be dismantled at the end of the war, in order to reduce construction costs. Part of a larger order of Dutch built Swedish designed warships. Plans for a second unit were cancelled in favour of construction of Fatih.

    B. Cruisers

    Yavuz class (1940)
    Units: 1 (Yavuz Sultan Selim)
    Displacement: 4,500t
    Armament: 6x152mm, 6x100mm, 8x37mm AA, 6x21in TT
    Protection: 52mm belt, 25mm deck
    Speed: 37kts

    A small cruiser design offered by OTO and taken up by the TDK, its design clearly reflects Italian doctrine combining high speed and powerful armament for its size with very little armour.

    Turgut Reis class (1931/1940)
    Units: 1 (Turgut Reis)
    Displacement: 5,110t
    Armament: 8x152mm, 6x100mm, 8x37mm AA, 4x21in TT
    Protection: 24mm belt, 20mm deck
    Speed: 37kts

    The former Alberto Da Guissano, transferred to Turkey in early 1940.

    C. Destroyers

    Zafer class (1929)
    Units: 8 (Zafer, Adatepe, Demirhisar, Sultanhisar, Sivrihisar, Muavenet, Gayret, Gelibolu)
    Displacement: 974t
    Armament: 3x120mm, 2x40mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 36kts

    Swedish Ehrenskold class destroyers built between 1929-1934 by the Dutch Wilton-Fijenoord shipyards for the Turkish navy.

    Yildirim class (1932/1940)
    Units: 4 (Yildirim, Alp Arslan, Piyale pasa, Kilic Ali pasa)
    Displacement: 1400t
    Armament: 4x120mm, 2x30mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 36kts

    Italian Dardo class destroyers, transferred to Turkey early 1940

    D. Submarines

    Gur class (1934)
    Units: 1 (Gur)
    Displacement: 755/965t
    Armament: 1x105mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 19.7/8.5kts

    German submarine built in Spain and bought by Turkey when she renounced treaty limitations

    Saldiray class (1936)
    Units: 2 (Saldiray, Atilay)
    Displacement: 780/1000t
    Armament: 1x100mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 14/8kts

    A pair of submarines originally ordered by Portugal in Italian yards and bought by Turkey when Portugal could not pay them.

    Yildiray class (1937)
    Units: 7 (Yildiray, Batiray, Oruc Reis, Preveze, Cerbe, Canakkale, Hizir Reis )
    Displacement: 680/844t
    Armament: 1x100mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 14/7.5kts

    Adua class submarines 3 bought in March 1937 when already building for the Regia Marina, four more ordered in 1939 and delivered in the summer of 1940 despite the declaration of war by Italy.

    Murat Reis class (1939)
    Units: 2 (Murat Reis, Burak Reis)
    Displacement: 254/303t
    Armament: 3x21in TT
    Speed: 13/6.9kts

    A pair of German Type II coastal submarines, bought under the Turkish-German clearing

    Uluc Ali Reis class (1939)
    Units: 2 (Uluc Ali Reis, Piri Reis)
    Displacement: 934/1210t
    Armament: 1x105mm, 6x21in TT
    Speed: 20/9kts

    A pair of large German submarines a third ship was taken over by Germany in September 1939
     
    Last edited:
    Part 63 Of jackals and ultimatums
  • Ljubljana, September 23rd, 1940

    The Italian army entered the city. Even fully mobilised the Yugoslav 7th army would had been outnumbered seven to one by the Italians. With all three of its assigned divisions still being mobilized it was not able to offer anything but token resistance. The Italians kept steadily advancing hampered more by supplies and transport than the still mobilizing Yugoslavs. What would happen when the Yugoslav mobilization was complete? That was a different question.

    Kosovo and Montenegro, September 27th, 1940

    The Invasion of the Italian 7th army had been stopped cold by the Yugoslav 3rd army which had even counterattacked and pushed the Italians back into Albania. Two out of four Yugoslav divisions in the 3rd army were still mobilizing when the war start, but against 150,000 Italians the odds were rather more manageable than in the north. And perhaps the fact that the 3rd army did not have a mostly Serb officer corps imposed upon Croatian and Slovene soldiery that for the past 20 years had had no reason to trust Belgrade was playing a role too.

    Sidi Barrani, September 30th, 1940


    The Italian invasion of Egypt had halted on its own two weeks earlier. Italian engineers were fast at work extending the Via Balbia into Egypt and Rome was receiving increasingly strenuous requests from Italo Balbo to reinforce Libya particularly with aircraft, tanks and motor transport but the engineers needed time while the reinforcements kept prioritizing Yugoslavia.

    Zagreb, September 30th, 1940


    The Italian army entered the city, to a somewhat mixed welcome by the Croatian population. The same day, the Italians long time puppet Ante Pavelic had proclaimed Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia. But the antipathy towards Belgrade was at least somewhat balanced over well founded suspicion of Italian claims on Dalmatia. For now at least the former was winning out, recent Serb concessions to Croatians had come too late following Alexander's dictatorsip and large numbers of Croatian reservists had just failed to show up, or had thrown down their arms and surrendered. Some, initially not many, had even outright switched sides outright. Heavy handed attempts by the mostly Serb high command to reverse this using loyal Serb units to enforce discipline and executing deserters had backfired leading whole Croatian units to mutiny against their Serb officers. Besides the Italians were winning. When faced with two evils why should someone put himself and his nation on the side of the losing one?

    Budapest, October 3rd, 1940


    Miklos Horthy, signed the order for the general mobilization of the Hungarian army. Yugoslavian resistance had notably stiffened in the last few days as the Italians had entered Bosnia but the Yugoslav first army group had been destroyed. The Yugoslavs had managed by now to establish a more of less contiguous front with their 2nd army and the general headquarters reserve that somewhat fortuitously as things had turned had been massed in Bosnia but that had meant stripping the Hungarian border of troops, while according to Hungarian intelligence the Italians still seriously outnumbered their opponent.

    Ploesti, October 7th, 1940

    German troops entered Romania to protect the oilfields. Italy had not been informed. Mussolini was not amused at the encroachment of what was considered by the Italians their own sphere of influence. The general staff was instructed to prepare for the conquest of Greece. Of course even Mussolini realized that Yugoslavia had to be finished off first.

    Vojvodina, October 18th, 1940


    In the past two weeks, the Italian advance into Yugoslavia had notably slowed, or in some cases stopped altogether as the Yugoslav mobilization had completed and the Italian advance had extended their lines of communication. The most notable loss had been Split, thanks to no small extend by Italian naval support. But now the Hungarian 2nd and 3rd armies crossed the border, bringing another half a million men into the fight...

    Belgrade, October 24th, 1940

    Italian and Hungarian troops entered the Yugoslav capital. Holding back the Hungarians as well as the Italians had proven too much for the Yugoslav army who was by now in full retreat although it retained its cohesion, not least thanks to the Yugoslav air force still holding her own. So far allied support to the Yugoslav war effort had been limited to a French fighter group from Constantinople that had been allowed by the Greeks to cross into Yugoslavia, and munitions shipped north from Thessaloniki.

    Sofia, October 24th, 1940


    King Boris had been so far reluctant to join the war. But if Yugoslavia was coming down, this was the time for Bulgaria to liberate her brethren in the west. Two times in 1913 and 1915-18, Bulgaria had tried, spending rivers of blood only to fail. Boris had no intention to see his country losing men again to no avail. But what better opportunity would even present itself with Bulgaria's allies dominating the continent, Russia allied to Germany and Yugoslavia already on its knees? And if the war extended to Greece... again what better opportunity to see the whole of Macedonia and Thrace finally liberated by the Bulgarian army? The general mobilization of the Bulgarian army was proclaimed.

    Athens, October 25th, 1940

    With Bulgaria mobilizing it was inevitable that Greece should also mobilize. Should it also join the war or hope, that the Italians after destroying Yugoslavia would leave it alone? Greece was already helping Yugoslavia in every possible way short of war. What were the chances that when the Yugoslav army retreated past the Greek border as it seemed entirely too likely to happen at the moment the Italians would not follow them over the border? The last thing Dragoumis intended to see was Greece turned into a battleground while he was watching idle as Constantine had done in 1915. But the stakes at hand were too big to be taken idly...

    Sarajevo, October 26th, 1940

    The Italians entered the city, destroying any remaining hopes the Yugoslav general staff might hold for a Bosnian redoubt. The only option left was retreating south and a renewed Macedonian front. But with a quarter million Italian soldiers in Albania, the only line of retread was down the Vardar which as it had been seen in 1915 was vulnerable to the Bulgarians. If at least a sliver of the national territory and the army were to be saved, Yugoslavia needed the Greeks to fend off Bulgaria. But the Greeks were understandably reluctant, particularly Dragoumis. The Yugoslav ambassador in Athens was ordered to repeat the 1915 order to cede Monastir to Greece if it joined the war. After all this was an offer likely to affect Dragoumis, with his background in the Macedonian struggle and who had publicly deplored the fate of the Greek-Vlach community in the town under Serb rule, more than it would ever affect the judgement of someone like Venizelos.

    Rome, October 28th, 1940

    There had been some reluctance in the Commando Supremo, but in the end it had been Mussolini's opinion that mattered. With Yugoslavia going down the Greeks would be given given the option to either cut off the Yugoslavs and make concessions to Italy and her allies or be invaded in turn. After all Italy had no reason to tolerate any more Greek support for the allies and the Yugoslavs. The 7th army was ordered to shift it's divisions to the Greek border, keeping on the defensive in the Yugoslav front, to be ready for the coming ultimatum.

    Tirana, November 1st, 1940


    The clerk did not quite know what a dead drop was. He just threw to the garbage a few copies of papers that should never find themselves in a garbage can as he had been told. The Albanian cleaner took out the garbage and he got his money. If the British wanted to pay for information about the army in Albania and its movements it was ok by him, it was not as if he could see how it was really useful to them. The DYPL [1] agent that actually run the operation might have a different opinion of course, Athens would very much want to know that the Italian 7th army was shifting to the Greek border "to support a final solution of the issues with Greece". His agency had been a relatively recent creation, Dragoumis when coming to power had taken the General State Security agency established back in 1926, had created out of it DYPL and DYEA [2] to handle intelligence and counter-intelligence respectively, but was very well funded and had inherited a pretty extensive information network in the Balkans. Pragmatically the Greek government did know its turn was coming. But proof hardly hurt...

    Yugoslavia, November 6th, 1940

    The Italian army captured Nis and reached the Bulgarian border at Vidin. It was the signal Bulgaria waited to invade Yugoslavia in turn. From then on events had moved with breakneck speed. Within hours first Yugoslavia had announced it was ceding the town of Monastir to Greece, then the Greek ambassador in Sofia had informed the Bulgarians that Greece was treaty bound to defend Yugoslavia in case of Bulgarian invasion, the Greek 1st and 2nd Cavalry divisions were already rushing north for Stip with four infantry divisions of the Greek C Army Corps following behind to close the approaches to Strumica to the Bulgarians. War had not been quite declared... yet. After all the Greeks might back down. Or the Italians stop and let a rump Yugoslavia north of the Greek border survive.

    Athens, November 7th, 1940


    Benito Mussolini had had enough with the Greeks over the last 18 years. His plan had been to clear the situation in a couple weeks when his army finished the conquest of Yugoslavia. The Greeks had not proven so accommodating and had rushed things. So be it. As he'd told his generals when questioning the prudence of an immediate invasion of Greece he'd rather be a Greek than an Italian fearing Greeks. Gracchi delivered the Italian ultimatum to Greece before dawn...

    Appendix, Selected terms of Italian ultimatum to Greece November 7th, 1940
    1. Greece to immediately demobilize her army, navy and air force under Italian supervision
    2. Greece to seal her border with Yugoslavia
    3. Greece to allow Italian and Bulgarian troops to enter the country and occupy strategically important points
    4. Greece to begin negotiations under Italian mediation with the Bulgarian and Turkish governments over the return to them of territories taken over by Greece after WW1.

    [1] Information Agency Directorate, Διεύθυνση Υπηρεσίας Πληροφοριών / Dieuthynsi Ypiresias Pliroforion in Greek.
    [2] National Security Agency Directorate, Διεύθυνση Υπηρεσίας Εθνικής Ασφαλείας / Dieuthynsi Ypiresias Ethnikis Asfaleias

     
    Interlude Evolution of the Greek army 1922-1940
  • 1921-22

    At the time of the final armistice between the Entente powers and the Turkish Grand National Assembly in late 1921 the Greek army had reached 15 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions, with roughly 353,000 men under arms. Of these 12 infantry as well as the single cavalry division, organized under the A, B and Smyrna Army Corps, where serving with the Army of Asia Minor. In Europe the Army of Thrace, controlled the Serres and XIV Infantry divisions, covering the extensive border between Greece and Bulgaria while a single division the VIII Infantry served in Epirus and would briefly see action against Albanian militias when the League of Nations ceded North Epirus to Greece. Peacetime and the demobilization would see the A and B Army Corps returning to their peacetime bases in Old Greece leaving the Smyrna Army Corps, augmented by the Crete Division in wartime, in Asia Minor. The Army of Thrace was renamed the D Army Corps and C Army Corps was reconstituted in Thessaloniki initially controlling the IX infantry division, also in Thessaloniki, and the VIII infantry division in Argyrokastron. In case of war with either Turkey or Bulgaria the 6 infantry divisions of the A and B Army Corps following mobilization would reinforce either Asia Minor or Macedonia and Thrace. The Cavalry division while retained was effectively split with one of its brigades in Smyrna and one in Thessaloniki.

    Evolution in the 1923-28 period

    With increasing numbers of trained manpower becoming gradually available, as the newly liberated Greek populations passed through conscription, by 1928 the army would expand to 18 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions. One more army corps, the E would be formed in Panormos (Bandirma) in Asia Minor covering the north of Asiatic Greece, with the size of each army corps normalized to 3 infantry divisions. In the case of the cavalry each of the two cavalry brigades was expanded to division size with one division in Thessaloniki and one in Smyrna. Notably for the cavalry, special arrangements had been made with the Circassian community for Circassians to serve preferentially in the cavalry, the 4th Cavalry brigade in Asia Minor would remain majority Circassian all the way to 1940. In view of the Corfu incident in 1923, Corfu was permanently garrisoned by an independent regimental combat team, formed by the 10th infantry regiment.

    Evolution in the 1929-32 period


    The brief Stratos interlude in government is usually remembered for its effect on the navy, with the construction of Salamis, but also saw changes for the army. The most notable was what was called "the great renaming", with nearly all "Venizelist" names purged from army formations. The Serres, Xanthi, Kydonies, Smyrna and Magnesia divisions would be all renamed and only extreme reaction both within and outside the army would same the Crete and Archipelago divisions and their constituent regiments as well as the Smyrna Army Corps from renaming. Otherwise under assistant minister Gouvelis the four Euzone regiments of the army were paired into two mountain brigades mimicking French practice with Chasseur Alpins units and the 1st tank regiment, soon to be renamed armoured regiment was formed as part of the cavalry.

    Evolution to 1940

    With Greece, like every other European country preparing for war, in the years between 1935 and 1940, 6 more infantry divisions are formed with each of the 6 corps of the army controlling 4 divisions, proposals to form two more Army Corps remain still in the planning stage in 1940 not least due to the need to provide a core of trained staff officers in addition to support assets from heavy artillery to engineers and signal units which are not yet available. By November 1940 the II Cavalry division is the sole mechanized formation of the Greek army, following French practice it consists of an armoured brigade massing R35, MkVI and Vickers 6t tanks available to Greece, and a cavalry brigade that has been motorized. With both cavalry divisions in Europe, two horse cavalry brigades are serving with the army of Asia Minor. Potential Turkish and Italian hostility mean, a need to garrison in addition to Corfu several of the Eastern Aegean islands. A regiment sized forces are in Lesvos and Samos, battalion sized forces hold Lemnos, Tenedos and Chios.

    Greek army Order of Battle, November 7th, 1940

    GHQ, Athens (Theodore Pangalos, deputy chief Alexandros Othonaios)
    • 1st Army, Thessaloniki (Dimitrios Katheniotis)
      • B Corps (Alexandros Merenditis)
        • III Infantry Division, Patras (Georgios Tsolakoglou)
        • IV Infantry Division, Nauplion (Emmanuel Mantakas)
        • VIII Infantry Division, Argyrokastron (Nikolaos Plastiras)
        • XIV Infantry Division, Kalamata (Napoleon Zervas)
        • 10th Infantry Regiment, Corfu (Thasymboulos Tsakalotos)
      • C Corps (Theodore Manetas)
        • IX Infantry Division, Thessaloniki (Georgios Papastergiou)
        • XV Infantry Division, Serres (Demetrios Giantzis)
        • XIX Infantry Division, Veroia (Christos Karassos)
        • XXII Infantry Division, Drama (Sergios Gyalistras)
      • D Corps (Demetrios Kammenos)
        • VI Infantry Division, Adrianople (Emmanuel Tzanakakis)
        • XII Infantry Division, Xanthi (Konstantinos Bakopoulos)
        • XX Infantry Division, Raidestos (Ioannis Kotoulas)
        • XXI Infantry Division, Alexandroupolis (Markos Drakos)
      • 1st Cavalry Division (Ioannis Tsaggaridis)
      • 2nd Cavalry Division (Sokratis Demaratos)
      • 1st Mountain Brigade (Demetrios Psarros)
      • 2nd Mountain Brigade (Sotirios Moutousis)
    • Army of Asia Minor (Ptolemaios Sarigiannis)
      • Smyrna Army Corps, Smyrna (Euthymios Tsimikalis)
        • VII Infantry Division, Philadelpheia (Ignatios Kallergis)
        • X Infantry Division, Magnesia (Panagiotis Spiliotopoulos)
        • XI Infantry Division, Smyrna (Ioannis Alexakis)
        • XVII Infantry Division, Aidini (Georgios Kosmas)
        • 4th Cavalry brigade (Leonidas Spaes)
      • E Army Corps, Panormos (Ioannis Pitsikas)
        • V Infantry division, Panormos (Konstantinos Ventiris)
        • XVI Infantry division, Kydoniai (Georgios Stanotas)
        • XVIII Infantry division, Palaiokastron (Efstathios Liosis)
        • Archipelago division, Lesvos (Charalambos Katsimitros)
        • 5th Cavalry brigade (Amdreas Kallinskis)
      • 10th Archipelago Infantry Regiment, Samos
      • 75th Infantry Regiment, Lesvos
    • A Corps (Alexandros Papagos)
      • I Infantry Division, Larisa (Basileios Brachnos)
      • II Infantry Division, Athens (Euripidis Bakirtzis)
      • XIII Infantry Division, Chalkis (Stefanos Sarafis)
      • Crete Division, Khanea (Georgios Dromazos)
     
    Part 64
  • Kleisura, Greek-Albanian border, November 7th, 1940

    The Italian army hadn't even bothered to wait for the ultimatum to expire, before crossing the border. It didn't really matter, the Greek answer to the ultimatum had been delivered in a single word by Dragoumis "polemoumen" we fight. After pushing over Greek border posts, the lead elements of the Italian 7th army start coming inti contact with dug in Greek defenders.

    Adrianople, November 7th, 1940

    The Bulgarian 2nd and 3rd armies with slightly over 176,000 men between them had been kept on the Greek-Bulgarian border as their comrades marched on Yugoslavia. On the Greek side the Greek D Corps had slightly fewer than 101,000 men. But the Greeks had been fortifying their border with Bulgaria for the past several years. From Metaxades to the west of Adrianople to Saranta Ekklisies to the east of them 33 concrete forts built to stand up to 220mm artillery doted a line of 140km, with field fortifications and smaller works between them. Further to the west of the Adrianople line, further forts at Echinos and Nymphaion closed the only two passes into Western Thrace. Yet further to the west in Easter Macedonia another set of 11 forts closed the Rupel pass and the Neurokop plateau. Bulgarian artillery opened up on the Greek positions. Greek artillery, returned the favour. The Greeks waited. If the Bulgarians wanted to invade Thrace and Macedonia they'd have to go over the forts first. And pay the price...

    Strumica, November 8th, 1940

    Baring variations in equipment, the picture to the east of the town would had been entirely familiar, to the fathers of the men in various shades of khaki now enthusiasticaly killing each other back in 1913 and 1918. Several of the officers and longest serving non-coms had even been there in person. Two days before over 199,000 soldiers of the 1st and 4th Bulgarian armies had stormed over the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border just as six Greek divisions, 129,000 rushed north to the aid of their Yugoslav allies, who were doing a fighting retreat against the Italians and the Hungarians, some of the Hungarians at least, over half out of the 25 Hungarian brigades had conveniently found use in occupation duties by now letting their Italian allies do the bleeding. The Bulgarians had been stopped cold at Strumica. Further north they were doing rather better...

    Pigadia, Karpathos, November 8th, 1940


    The Italian coastal battery, one of three defending the island, opened up. Over a dozen 9.2 and 7.6in shells from Averof came back at the Italian position for its troubles. Lighters start bringing troops ashore from the transports...

    Rhodes, November 8th, 1940

    Rhodes was better protected than Karpathos with seven coastal batteries including a single one of 210mm guns and a couple of 149mm batteries. Salamis was immune to either and nothing on the island was immune to her artillery. For twenty years the Greeks feared the Dodecanese would be a thorn on their side, threatening communications between European and Asiatic Greece. For twenty years they had been making plans to deal with that. The Greek navy under personal command of admiral Demestichas had sailed out, transports carrying the II infantry and Archipelago divisions, some 35,000 men in total, in tow before the ultimatum had even expired. A sharp destroyer action had mostly destroyed the Regia Marina squadron in the Dodecanese, 4 destroyers and twenty MAS boats which had fought back heroically before the few survivors had run off to the Turkish coast. HAF aircraft had attacked airfields and units of the 50th "Regina" division in the islands, with the population of the islands well over 90% Greek, the Greeks had not had much trouble having accurate intelligence of the defenders. Early November was not exactly the best time for an amphibious operation. But needs must...

    South of Kumanovo, November 11th, 1940

    The 133th armoured division Littorio had gone from victory to victory for the past two months. One more bunch of Serbs before the carristi and the bersaglieri accompanying them were hardly going to be much of an obstacle, had the Serbs have time to organize and had they not faced revolt within the country things might had been different. But as things were, the Yugoslav army despite fighting hard and often inflicting heavy casualties had never managed to regain its balance. Then a 47mm shot slammed into the lead L6/40 tankette killing it on its tracks. The Greek 1st Armoured brigade had just entered battle.
     
    Part 65
  • Taranto, November 13th, 1940

    The British had waited for a week, for the possibility of the Regia Marina coming out to give battle following the start of the war with Greece and the invasion of the Dodecanese. The Italian navy had instead quietly stuck in port, it's battleships and heavy cruisers at least. If the Italians were not coming out then perhaps the Royal Navy could come visiting. A couple of flares illuminated the harbour as the Swordfish of Illustrious and Eagle attacked. By the time the attack was over out of the five Italian battleships in the harbour Duilo, Cavour and Cesare were sunk or sinking.

    Belfast, November 14th, 1940

    James Craig, had been prime minister of Northern Irealand for even longer than Michael Collins had been prime minister of the rest of Ireland. In all these years he had been as firmly Unionist as Collins had been Nationalist. It had been an often thankless job. It had become a distinctly worse one as London's government had seen no issue back in late June to offer Collins re-unification of Ireland in exchange for Irish participation to the war. Collins had not said yes, right away but had proven to wily to say no either. Instead he had raised the all too sensible question if the government of the North agreed. If it did why the republic would be most interested in London's proposals. That had put the pressure on Craig, who had firmly refused. But as Collins kept entertaining discussions and getting increasingly lured by the possibility of a united Ireland and British shipping losses kept mounting so did the pressure on Craig. It had proven too much as he died, in what was a rather inopportune moment for the Unionist cause...

    Madrid, November 17th, 1940


    The small room was filled with smoke, alcohol and a bunch of highly influential but rather disgruntled people. Three weeks earlier Ochoa had finally met with Hitler. Instead of finally throwing Spain's lot in the war as her honour and self-interest demanded the man had adamantly refused, or according to some of the information they had received made completely impossible demands to entertain the thought. It shouldn't be really surprising that Ochoa did not want to repay Spain's obligations to Germany and Italy for their aid during the war, the man was a closet liberal himself who had given an amnesty to Republicans for political crimes and had even tried since then to rein in on what he called "excesses" in prosecuting common republicans for "non political" crimes, a broad enough definition for judges true to the cause to do what needed doing. It was clear that Ochoa had to go and a new junta take his place. The Abwehr agents they were in contact with most certainly agreed. The plotting begun...

    Golcuk, Turkey, November 21st, 1940

    The Turkish navy had left Marmaris in force two days before, much to the alarm of the Greeks and the British, who had feared it had been the opening move of Turkey joining the war. Instead it had cleared around the Dodecanese and sailed north, finally entering the straits to reach Golcuk, shadowed all the way to the straits by the Greeks. The temptation to attack the fleet while it was out in the open had been great. But that would had meant bringing Turkey to the war a risk none had dared to take. And thus the Turkish navy had found itself back again at the Bosporus. With the Dodecanese under Greek control Marmaris would had been vulnerable in the extreme...

    Rhodes, November 22nd, 1940


    Cesare De Vecchi, put his signature at the instrument of surrender as the Greek flag was raised amidst the cheers of the locals over the governor's palace and the forts of the old town and the better part of 22,000 Italian soldiers and sailors went into captivity. Leros and Kos were still in Italian hands, but this was small consolation. He had fiercely advocated war against Greece, had single-handedly tried to begin it back in August in hopes of advancing his own place in the fascist hierarchy. The war coming only for him to end within two weeks defeated and in Greek captivity had been the last thing he had expected. But perhaps the future would hold more surprises for him in the future. Greek investigators were already busy in the archives of the governorate looking for clues about who had actually given the orders for the attack on Tinos back in August...

    Kleisura & mount Trebeshine, Greek-Albanian border, November 23rd, 1940

    Italian artillery eased off its bombardment. The 14 Italian divisions in the Albanian front had attacked again and again the Greek positions, Height 731 the lynchpin of Greek defences around Kleisura had been at the receiving end of over 100,000 artillery rounds and dozes of assaults but it had held out. So had the rest of the Greek line, every time the Italians had made gains, Greek counterattacks had wrestled them back. It made no sense to continue, casualties were already running to upwards of 17,000 for no apparent gain. At least in Yugoslavia the axis armies might have been taking casualties but kept advancing if increasingly slowly...
     
    Appendix Greek army arms inventory November 1940
    1. Heavy artillery
      1. 24 Skoda M1928 150mm guns. Bought early 1930s 1 battalion each with Army of Macedonia and Asia Minor Army
      2. 36 Schneider Mle1936 105mm guns. Locally produced in Greece 1 gun per month average
      3. 108 Schneider Mle1925 105mm guns. 96 bought in 1920s another 12 delivered by France 1939/40
      4. 148 Schneider Mle1919 155mm howitzers. 100 bought in 1920s another 48 delivered by France 1939/40
      5. 36 6in 26cwt howitzers. British military aid 1921
      6. 8 sFH 13 150mm howitzers. Captured from Turkish army 1919-21
      7. 24 Skoda K1 150mm howitzers. Bought from Czechoslovakia before her dismantlement.
      8. 12 Skoda M14 150mm howitzers. Captured from Turkish army 1919-21
      9. 24 De Bange Mle1878 120mm guns. French WW1 military aid. Static artillery in Smyrna line
    2. Field artillery
      1. 60 QF 4.5in howitzers. 48 British military aid 1921, another 12 delivered 1939/40
      2. 264 Skoda vz30 105mm howitzers. Initial bought 1930. Locally produced in Greece 3/month.
      3. 36 Skoda M1916 100mm mountain guns. Captured from Turkish army 1919-21 with an additional 4 bought from Czech stocks
      4. 192 Mle1919 105mm mountain guns. Bought 1920s. Standard divisional artillery, 12 guns per division
      5. 336 Mle1919 75mm mountain guns. Bought 1920s. Standard divisional artillery, 24 guns per division
      6. 64 Skoda M1915 75mm mountain guns. Captured from Turkish army 1919-21
      7. 88 Schneider-Danglis 75mm mountain guns. Pre 1914 purchases
      8. 168 Schneider Mle1904/06/07 field guns. Pre 1914 purchases ex Bulgarian and Serb guns included.
      9. 168 Krupp M1904 field guns. Captured from Turkish and Bulgarian army 1912-21.
      10. 16 Krupp 75mm mountain guns. Captured from Turkish army 1912-21
      11. 36 Schneider Mle1906 mountain guns. French WW1 military aid. Another 100 sold to Spain, China and Ethiopia before 1939
    3. Anti-tank weapons
      1. 135 M1931 47mm. Locally produced in Greece 4/month
      2. 190 Hotchkiss 25mm. Delivered by France 1939/40
    4. Anti-aircraft weapons
      1. 96 Bofors M1929 75mm
      2. 288 Bofors 40mm. Locally produced in Greece 7/month
    5. Mortars
      1. 1,042 Brandt M1931 81mm. Locally produced in Greece 12/month. 200 delivered by France 1939-40
      2. 152 Stokes 3in (81mm). British military aid 1921
    6. Machine guns
      1. 3,704 Hotchkiss M1922 7mm machine guns. Standard Greek medium machine gun, 48 per regiment.
      2. 1,250 Vickers MMG. Delivered by Britain 1939-40
      3. 400 Hotchkiss M1914 8mm. Dielvered by France 1949-40
      4. 2300 Saint Etienne M1907 8mm. French WW1 military aid
      5. 170 Maxim MG08. Captured from Turkish and Bulgarian army 1912-21
      6. 380 Swartzloze M1907/12. Pre-1914 purchases.
      7. 11,860 ZB vz.26 LMG. Standard Greek LMG 36 per battalion
      8. 5200 Hotchkiss M1922 LMG 7.92mm. Delivered by France 1939/40
    7. Rifles & small arms
      1. 8,976 T-40 7mm semi-automatic rifles. FN design supposed to replace T-25 as standard army rifle
      2. 4,184 AT-40 7mm automatic carbines. Locally designed.
      3. 342,431 Mannlicher-Filippidis T-25 7mm rifles. The so called Philippidis gun finally adopted in 7x51 in 1924.
      4. 143,800 Mannlicher-Schoenauer M1903/25 7mm rifles. Surviving Mannlicher-Schoenauer converted to 7x51 in the 1920-30s
      5. 100,000 Enfield P14 7.7mm rifles. British military aid 1921
      6. 84,200 Mauser 7mm rifles. Captured from Turkish and Bulgarian army 1912-21 converted to 7x51 in mid 1930s
      7. 45,800 Mauser 7.65mm rifles. Captured from Turkish and Bulgarian army 1912-21
      8. 109,000 Berthier/Lebel 8mm rifles. French military aid 1916-21, a further 25,000 delivered 1939/40
      9. 24,730 pistols and revolvers of all types. 20,130 FN Browning M1910/22 9mm (locally produced), 1150 Colt special .38 (bought 1924), 550 Nagant 1898 (bought 1912), 2,900 Ruby-Martin 7.65mm (French WW1 aid)
     
    Appendix Historical exchange rates 1914-1938
  • OTl Greek statistical service data from 1939

    1629745003632.png


    And the TTL exchange rates.

    YearDrachma to pound exchange rate
    1910​
    25,0​
    1911​
    25,0​
    1912​
    25,0​
    1913​
    25,0​
    1914​
    25,2​
    1915​
    25,0​
    1916​
    24,6​
    1917​
    24,6​
    1918​
    24,8​
    1919​
    24,3​
    1920​
    34,1​
    1921​
    48,4​
    1922​
    86,6​
    1923​
    161,4​
    1924​
    181,8​
    1925​
    196,9​
    1926​
    226,3​
    1927​
    259,9​
    1928​
    261,8​
    1929​
    242,8​
    1930​
    218,4​
    1931​
    214,9​
    1932​
    251,8​
    1933​
    275,1​
    1934​
    279,6​
    1935​
    272,9​
    1936​
    290,4​
    1937​
    300,0​
    1938​
    292,2​
    1939​
    283,6​
     
    Part 66
  • Ravna Gora, November 24th, 1940

    Draza Mihilovic had escaped the destruction of Yugoslav forces in Bosnia at the head of a few dozen men. Over the past month his small force, by now reduced to 7 officers and two dozen men had reached the mountains of central Serbia, but were now faced with a dilemma. Surrender to the Italians, rather the Hungarians occupying the area? March on to try slipping through the frontlines and join the Serb army still fighting to the south? Fight on against the occupation army? Surrendering or disbanding was out of the question. Joining the regular Serb army which Mihailovic would have preferred by inclination, impractical. And thus the "Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland" was born.

    Kos, November 26th, 1940


    The Italian 10th infantry regiment defending the island surrendered to the Greeks. By now only Leros stood. But it was already under attack and mostly occupied by naval personnel with only a single army battalion in the island.

    Prilep, November 27th, 1940

    The Italian army entered the town. Over the past three weeks the Italians, Bulgarians and Hungarians had managed to push the Yugoslavs and the Greeks that come to their aid south. And yet Theodore Pangalos, turned allied commander of the Balkan front by the simple expedient of commanding the largest allied army left standing had reasons to be content. In three weeks the Axis armies had suffered nearly as many casualties as in the rest of the campaign and the remnants of the Yugoslav army had managed to retreat in one piece and even catch their breath as allied armies pulled back towards a line that could actually be held.

    Cape Spartivento, November 27th, 1940

    Ten days earlier the Regia Marina had failed to intercept the British reinforcing Malta with aircraft but had at least managed to disrupt the operation. Now the British were back in force, with admiral Somerville in command of HMS Ark Royal, Resolution, Ramillies, heavy cruiser HMS York, 4 light cruisers and 11 destroyers, covering a new convoy to Malta. His Italian counterpart Inigo Campioni in command of Littorio, Vittorio Veneto, 6 heavy cruisers and 14 destroyers had been given orders to seek battle if facing comparable or inferior forces, after the fiascos at Taranto and the Dodecanese it was imperative for the navy to show it was active both for the shake of its own morale and to maintain its political position... and budget. Even if reluctant Campioni engaged. The two hours engagement that would follow would see honours split about even. HMS Resolution would be severely damaged by 16in fire, HMS York sunk and HMS Manchester moderately damaged but the Italians would also lose heavy cruiser Trieste and the destroyer Dardo, while Ark Royal's Swordfish despite heavy casualties from anti-aircraft fire would manage to torpedo Littorio. At that point Somerville retired his squadron only for Campioni to fail to press home his advantage and retire as well, fearing the damage suffered by Littorio. The battle would be still hailed, not without reason, as a victory in Italy, Teleuda would be given as a ship name post-war. Someriville on Churchill's insistence, would go through a board of inquiry for retreating only to be fully exonerated and remain in command.

    Southampton, November 30th, 1940


    Luftwaffe bombers hit the city. They would be back the next day. But for all the casualties they were inflicting on the British civilian population and the damage dealt on infrastructure it was a losing contest for the Luftwaffe. German aircraft numbers were actually lower than they were back in August and while in October the Luftwaffe had flown 8,200 bomber sorties against Britain losing 96 aircraft, in November it had managed only 7,000 losing 113. From the start of the battle the Germans had lost 1977 aircraft to 1675 RAF machines. [1]

    Ohrid-Doiran line, December 3rd, 1940


    The Axis advance south had first slowed to a crawl. Now it had been stopped cold. The allies had had to shift two Greek infantry divisions from Thrace, in addition to the Polish and Free French divisions from Constantinople but it was the result that mattered. And the result was that the Italians and their allies had been stopped all along the front after suffering over 49,000 casualties for about 31,000 allied casualties, while a Yugoslav army of slightly over 225,000 men had escaped to fight on. Prospects for the future as long as neither the Turks nor the Germans intervened looked good...

    Leros, December 4th, 1940.


    The Dodecanese campaign were over. Out of 34,000 men, 73 aircraft and 7 destroyers and large torpedo boats, the only ones not lost had been the ones that had managed to escape to Turkey. There the ships and aircraft had been "sold" to Turkey. So had Goeben in August 1914...

    Sidi Barrani, December 9th, 1940


    The Western Desert force, with 36,000 men and 275 tanks supported by 142 aircraft under general Richard O'Connor begun what was supposed to be a raid against Italian positions in Egypt. Decisive results were not likely after all the Italians had available 7 infantry divisions with 150,000 men. The anticipated results would quickly prove wildly pessimistic...

    Berlin, December 13th, 1940


    Germany had been reluctant over expanding the war to Yugoslavia and the Greece, although given the pro-allied stance of both had not raised any objections over the Italians dealing with them. Yugoslavia had indeed been dealt with in reasonable fashion. Greece was proving a bigger issue and king Boris III of Bulgaria hadn't lost any time asking for German military aid to break through Greek fortifications. War Directive 20 confirmed the decision to intervene. The details of intervening would be trickier. The Belgrade-Thessaloniki railroad was already being used to capacity to keep the Italians in supply, part of the Italian supply needs were covered by way of the Bulgarian railroads. Adding the needs of the Bulgarian army over two thirds of Bulgarian rail capacity was already in use. What remained barely sufficed to supply 3 to 5 divisions. Of course the Hungarians were getting increasingly cold feet over keeping their army in the frontline...


    [1] Which means that overall the British have 174 aircraft surplus to OTL
     
    Part 67
  • Sollum, December 15th, 1940

    Advance elements of the Western Desert Force, captured the town and continued advancing westwards. Italian casualties over the previous week, were nearing 43,000 men, including over 38,000 prisoners. British casualties were slightly over 600 men so far.

    Piraeus, December 19th, 1940

    The 10th Polish infantry regiment start disembarking from the troopships, amidst the cheers of the locals. From here trains will take it north to the frontlines in Macedonia and the Free Polish army fighting there. The rest of the 4th Infantry division, escaped from France and reinforced with the survivors of the Polish Highlands brigade after the evacuation of Norway was on its way to Greece as well.

    Dublin, December 20th, 1940

    The pair of Luftwaffe bombers that dropped the bombs in the city causing minor damage had done so almost certainly by accident. But the bombing was all too convenient for Irish purposes as the next day prime minister Collins allowed the Royal Navy access to use the treaty ports. British troops would still not be allowed into British territory.

    North of Monastir, December 25th, 1940

    Some sporadic fire was exchanged, but the front remained relatively quiet on Christmas day in the Greek, Polish and French sectors opposite the Italians and Hungarians. It was business as usual in the Serb sector and opposite the Bulgarians, it was not Christmas there.

    Belgrade, December 28th, 1940


    The first train carrying German engineers and anti-aircraft troops to Bulgaria crossed. The Danube was full of ice in this time of year making bridging it between Romania and Bulgaria difficult. But there was nothing stopping the Germans from using the railroad lines into Bulgaria. Half an hour later a train carrying Hungarian troops back to the motherland. Nearly 19,000 casualties fighting the Greeks had been enough for any duty admiral Horthy may had still felt towards Italy for liberating Vojvodina. Three corps of the Hungarian 3rd army would remain in occupation duty in Serbia for the time being but the rest and 2nd army were returning home.

    Bardia, December 29th, 1940


    The infantrymen of the 4th Indian division jumped off their starting positions. Three days later Bardia would be in British hands and another 42,000 Italian soldiers on their way to prisoner of war camps. Tobruk would be attacked on new years eve...

    Athens, January 7th, 1941


    Two battalions of the 17th Australian Infantry brigade marched through the city, the first British empire ground troops to reach mainland Greece. The had some initial reluctance on the part of the Greek government over openly bringing British troops in the mainland, lest it bring the Germany in the war as well or rather speed up its entry, even as Polish and Free French soldiers fought side by side with the Greeks and Serbs in Macedonia. But with trains bringing German troops to Yugoslavia and Bulgaria for the past several days any misgivings the Greeks might have were long gone. German soldiers had yet to so in the frontlines and thus the fiction that Greece and Germany were not at war was still maintained. But clashes between Greek and German aircraft had already taken place, anti-aircraft gunners whether on land or at sea for rather obvious reasons were hardly discriminating at anything flying that might look dangerous. As for the Australians they rather liked the place so far. For one thing the locals, including most importantly the girls were friendly. For another it might be winter but the weather was like home...

    Central Mediterranean, January 11th, 1941

    The Luftwaffe X Fliegerkorps announced its presence in the Mediterranean by massed attacks on allied shipping sinking HMS Eagle and HMS Southampton. Still convoys to Greece and Malta continued. 199 and 34 fighters had been moved to Sicily, giving the Regia Aeronautica, hard pressed from fighting in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Britain and the Balkans all at the same time a much needed boost. Of course Italy could had easily avoided some of these commitments. But it wasn't the flyers who decided...

    East Africa, January 12th, 1941

    Allied forces sprang to the attack. The 5th Indian division was invading Eritrea from the north, just as a French column advanced from Djibouti to the north and a second French column with two regiments of the 3e Division Francaise Libre was advancing along the railroad to Dire Dawa in Ethiopia. In Southern Ethiopia the 1st South African and the 11th and 12th African divisions advanced north. Even with 70,000 British troops in Kenya and 30,000 British and French troops in Sudan and Djibouti, the Italians heavily outnumbered the attackers. But large portions of the Italian army were tied down fighting increasingly severe Ethiopian uprisings, while its supplies of arms and ammunition were limited to what had been available in East Africa at the start of the war. Allied forces at hand should suffice, back in December Wavell had considered unnecessary sending the 4th Indian division the reinforce the 5th given the French army at Djibouti.

    Libya, January 16th, 1941

    Tobruk fell to the British and Indians, with another 25,000 Italian soldiers joining their comrades in captivity. Three days later Mussolini and Hitler would agree at Berchtesgaden to send German aid to Italian North Africa. But this was still in the future. In the meantime British forces kept advancing to the west capturing Derna in January 25th.

    Athens, January 22nd, 1941


    Anthony Eden accompanied by Archibald Wavell, came to discuss strategy. For all the recent allied successes Wavell was coming to Athens decidedly pessimistic over allied prospects of holding back the Germans. He had been forced by Churchill to send British troops to Greece, in addition to the Poles and French who had been already in Constantinople. Now he proposed that allied forces should pull back from Macedonia and Thrace to the Aliakmon river ahead of the German attack and also that the Greeks should evacuate Asia Minor. Eden had been supportive even trying to sound Dragoumis over the possibility of Greek concessions to Turkey in order to secure her neutrality. Dragoumis and Wavell's counterpart Theodore Pangalos had flatly refused. Greece was not going to make any concessions to Turkey, chances were the Turks would join the war no matter what concessions they were given just as they had done in 1914. Post that Asiatic Greece, Macedonia and Thrace held between them half the population of Greece without even taking into account Constantinople. Leaving them without a fight would be a political disaster likely leading to disintegration of the Greek army without even a fight. Pangalos had put the problem in more technical terms. Germany would join the war at the latest in March. There was hardly sufficient time to transport the Army of Asia Minor from Smyrna to Europe. In Europe, his plan was that should the allied armies be unable to hold the current line in Macedonia, a quite defensible one as proven in 1915-18, then the allies would fall back even further back than Wavell was proposing to the Olympus passes. Work was already being done in preparation of that position. In private Pangalos admitted to Wavell that he had already stripped Thrace of what forces he could, the only reason that part of the line held was the Bulgarians inability to breach it without heavy casualties due to lack of heavy artillery. Where Pangalos and Wavell did agree was that it made no sense to strip off British forces in Cyrenaica at the time the Italians were collapsing to reinforce Greece with inadequate forces. The Australians in Greece would be joined by the 2nd New Zealand division currently arriving in Egypt but armoured units would remain for now in Cyrenaica...

    Kiel, January 22nd, 1941


    The battleship Gneisenau remained in port. Plans to use her to raid Allied convoys in the Atlantic would have to wait till at least Bismarck, if not both Bismarck and Tirpitz were ready for operations...

    Sofia, January 25th, 1941

    The regiments of the 16th Infantry Division received their colours. Captured Yugoslav war material provided by Italy had allowed the Bulgarians to form an additional two divisions besides reinforcing their existing units.

    Libya, February 3rd, 1941

    British forces reached El Agheila. The Italian 10th army had surrendered the previous day bringing the the number of Italian soldiers captured in less than a month of fighting to over 133,000 men. The British tried to continue their advance westwards but even with practically negligible Italian resistance the logistical burden was too high and kept growing with every passing kilometre. Already the British were down to about 299 tanks despite reinforcements from the British isles.
     
    Appendix: The Free French army February 1941
  • Free French Army, February 1941

    Total Strength: 188,906
    Active army: 148,066
    Colonial garrisons: 40,840

    1ere Armee Francaise Libre (former TOMO, administrative)
    1ere Corps Armee Francaise Libre (Syria, former GFML)​
    86e Division d'infanterie Africaine
    2e Regiment de Zouaves​
    2e Regiment de tirailleurs Algeriens​
    24e Regiment mixte d'infanterie coloniale​
    191e Division Infanterie
    16e Regiment de tirailleurs Tunisiens​
    1er Regiment de tirailleurs Alaouite​
    12e Regiment de tirailleurs Tunisiens​
    192e Division Infanterie
    1er Regiment d'infanterie de Chasseurs Libanais​
    17e Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
    10e Demi-Brigade Nord Africaine​
    Groupe de Battalions de Chars de Combat (95 R-35)​
    63e BCC​
    68e BCC​
    2e Corps Armee Francaise Libre (Greece, general Bethouart)​
    1re Division Francaise Libre
    5e Demi-Brigade de chasseurs alpins​
    27e Demi-Brigade de chasseurs alpins​
    13e Demi-Brigade de la legion etrangere​
    2e Division Francaise Libre
    6e Regiment Etranger d'infanterie​
    7e Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
    1er Regiment d'infanterie Armenien​
    French Somaliland
    3e Division Francaise Libre
    29e Regiment de tirailleurs Algeriens​
    2e Regiment de tirailleurs Malgaches​
    1er Regiment de tirailleurs Senegalais​
    French Chad
    Régiment de tirailleurs Sénégalais du Tchad​
    Colonial Garrisons
    Régiment de tirailleurs sénégalais du Cameroun (Cameroon)​
    Régiment d’infanterie coloniale de l’Afrique Occidentale Française (Senegal)​
    1er Regiment de tirailleurs Malgaches (Madagascar)​
     
    Part 68
  • Sivas, February 4th, 1941

    Recep Peker signed the order for the general mobilization of the Turkish army. Back in November despite Greek mobilization, Turkey had not followed with her mobilization, the economic cost would had been just too much to declare a general mobilization prematurely. But now with German troops and aircraft moving into Serbia and Bulgaria the time of crisis was coming. Whether Turkey joined the war directly or blackmailed the Greeks and the British into complying with her territorial ambitions the time was coming.

    Straits of Otranto, February 6th, 1941


    The torpedoes cleared the forward tubes of Pipinos to be followed by a series of explosions a few minutes later as the torpedoes found their target, an Italian merchantman in a convoy heading to the port of Bar in occupied Montenegro. The dozen Greek submarines had proved themselves a problem for Italian convoys moving men and supplies across the Atlantic but not without cost as Triton had been sunk by Italian destroyers a few weeks earlier.

    Liverpool, February 8th, 1941

    HMS Furious left port, with 49 new Hurricanes, some crated other fully operational aboard. If all went according to plan, Furious would upload her aircraft in Dakar in February 19th and head back to Britain. This was the third transport mission Furious was doing since November. A fourth operation was already planned for early March.

    Washington DC, February 8th, 1941


    The Lend Lease act passed the US House of Representatives, with Britain and Greece as the first proposed recipients of the act, with artillery and aircraft earmarked for Greece. Greece had already been promised 30 P-40 fighters outside the act but this was becoming a source of political embarrassment at the moment as deliveries had failed to take place so far despite a promise directly from Roosevelt, between the British purchasing committee in the US refusing to part with the aircraft from their own part of US aircraft production and the US Army Air Corps also objecting to giving the aircraft out of its own share as it had already been forced to provide 100 aircraft for China. Given the strength of the China lobby in Washington that was untouchable. But the Greek War Relief Association was very active itself and the British purchasing committee had made a bit of a fool of itself when it claimed the Greeks could not operate modern aircraft at the very moment, that thanks to Skouras, newsreels across US cinemas were showing the HAF heroically fighting off the Italians over the skies of Macedonia...

    Tripoli, February 11th, 1941

    The first German units landed in the port. Lieutenant general Erwin Rommel would join them, three days later. But the first of the 155 tanks of the 5th PanzerRegiment were not expected before February 25th.

    Sirte, February 15th, 1941

    A column of Centaur tanks of the 2nd Armoured brigade entered the town. According to intelligence reports the Germans were landing in Tripoli, but so far they were nowhere in sight and with Italian resistance still weak O'Connor had decided to take his chances despite by now his tanks running almost on fumes...

    Sedes airport, Thessaloniki, February 16th, 1941


    The Ierax fighter came down trailing smoke, as 2nd lieutenant Spyros Pisanos unstrapped himself and jumped off the cockpit. The ground crew broke out in cheers when he answered the question whether he had hit anything by raising a couple fingers. The HAF had just got her newest ace. Not bad for a kid that had managed to get a place in the Air Force school at Tatoi back in 1938 by the opportune combination of the mass expansion of the air force at the time and a couple of the trainers interjecting in his favour at the very time he thought his only option to become a flier was emigrating to the US. The squadron commander was much grimmer were he took his officer's the report. The roads down from Skopje were thick with German columns moving south, while German aircraft had joined up the Italians north of the front making reconnaissance nearly suicidal, there was a reason the high command had resorted to using Pulawski's machines on the mission as at 570 km/h they were the fastest aircraft available to the allied side in theatre. Unless he missed his guess, it was just a matter of time before the balloon went up. What would happen then was anyone's guess. The HAF fliers and their comrades, 9 RAF squadrons, a Free French Groupe de Chasse and the survivors of the VVKJ had fought the Italians and Bulgarians and Hungarians to a standstill in the air, as far as 2nd Bureau [1] could tell Axis casualties run to over 400 aircraft since the entry of Greece in the world. But the allies had also lost over 200 aircraft themselves...

    Athens, February 18th, 1941


    Ion Dragoumis was completely unfazed as Victor Sergej Heinrich Bruno Karl Prinz zu Erbach-Schönberg, the German ambassador in Athens, showed up to his office at dawn claiming urgent business. "So it's war?" he only asked. Erbach had tried to sugarcoat things a bit "German troops need to enter Greece to eject the British from your country. It is for Greece's own good." the German had claimed. "So it is war" was the sole answer. German artillery and dive bombers were already attacking the Greek fortifications in Thrace and Macedonia as Luftwaffe bombers were on their way to targets in the interior of Greece...

    [1] Intelligence

    Appendix German order of battle for invasion of Greece

    12 Army
    • XL Panzer Corps
      • 9 Panzer Division
      • 73 Infanterie Division
    • XLI Panzer Corps
      • 5 Panzer Division
      • "Das Reich" SS Infanterie Division
    • XVIII Mountain Corps
      • 2 Panzer Division
      • 5 Gebirgs Division
      • 6 Gebirgs Division
    • XXX Corps
      • 50 Infanterie Division
      • 72 Infanterie Division
      • 164 Infanterie Division
     
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