SEOW Crete '41 - Axis Edition

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<p>Operation"Mercury" SEOWcampaignbriefing May20,1941.By 102ndYUDevill</p> <p>Historicalbackground AlliedforceshadoccupiedCretewhentheItaliansattackedGreeceon28October1940.Thoughthe Italianswereinitiallyrepulsed,subsequentGermaninterventiondrove57,000Alliedtroopsfromthe mainland. The Royal Navy evacuated many of them; some were taken to Crete to bolster its garrison. Possession of Crete provided the Royal Navy with excellent harbors in the eastern Mediterranean, from which it could threaten the Axis southeastern flank. From the island, the PloiestioilfieldsinRomania,whichwerecriticaltotheAxiswareffort,werewithinrangeofBritish bombers. Given its strategic value, Winston Churchill would later quote a telegram he sent to the ChiefoftheImperialGeneralStaffon4June1940:"ToloseCretebecausewehadnotsufficientbulk offorcestherewouldbeacrime." The German army high command was preoccupied with the planned invasion of the Soviet Union (OperationBarbarossa),andwasagainstinvolvement.However,seniorLuftwaffecommanderswere enthusiasticabouttheideaofseizingCretebyadaringairborneattack.Thedesiretoregainprestige aftertheirdefeatbytheRoyalAirForceoverBritainin1940mayhaveplayedaroleintheirthinking, especiallybeforetheadventofthemuchmoreimportant(andarmycontrolled)invasionofRussia. Hitlerwaswonoverbytheaudaciousproposal,thoughthedirectivestatedthattheoperationwas tobeinMay.Thesecondarypriorityoftheattackwasunderlined:Cretewasundernocircumstances tobeallowedtointerferewiththeupcomingcampaignagainsttheSovietUnion.Inadvanceofthe landbattle,theGermanslaunchedfrequentbombingraidsagainsttheislandinordertoestablishair superiority. This air campaign eventually succeeded in its objective, forcing the Royal Air Force to moveitsplanestoAlexandria.</p> <p>1 </p> <p>Attheoutsetofthelandbattle,theAllieshadtheadvantageofnavalsupremacyanddefendingwith relative numerical superiority, while the Germans had air superiority, more highly trained troops, andthemomentumofanunbrokenrunofvictories. The Battle of Crete began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the codename Unternehmen Merkur ("Operation Mercury"). Greek and Alliedforces,alongwithCretancivilians,defendedtheisland.Afteronedayoffighting,theGermans had suffered very heavy casualties, and the Allied troops were confident that they would prevail against the German invasion. The next day, through miscommunication and the failure of Allied commanderstograspthesituation,MalemeairfieldinwesternCretefelltotheGermans,enabling themtoflyinreinforcementsandoverwhelmthedefenders.Thebattlelastedabout10days. </p> <p>Campaignvs.history Our campaign SEOW Operation "Mercury" begins just before the invasion. In the interest of gameplay we have to have an allied air force present and ready to put up a fight against the axis attack.Weimaginethatamorefortunatechainofeventshasledthealliedforcestodecidetostay and fight, such as the decision of Greek generals earlier in April during "Marita" to pull back the GreekarmyfromthefabledMetaxaslinetoamoredefendablepositionontheHaliacmonlineand toabandonterritorypreviouslywonfromtheItaliansinAlbania.ThisenablestheBritishtoholdoff axisadvancefurther,thusgivingmoretimefortheRAFandsomeremnantsoftheGreekAirForceto fly to Crete and organize defenses there. While the size of allied ground forces which ultimately occupyCreteisveryclosetohistorical,aswellasthenavalforcesinthetheater;theairforcesare not historical but are in the neighborhood of what could plausibly be present had such events transpiredasproposedinthispassage. </p> <p>2 </p> <p>VictoryConditionsandcampaigngoalsThe two opposing generals have antisymmetric goals. Both have 3 goals to fulfill, and it will be necessarytofulfillthesegoalsINSEQUENCE.Meaning:ifonefulfillshissecondaryandtertiarygoals, itamountstoabsolutelynothingunlesstheprimarygoalisfulfilled.The3goalsareasfollows: PyrrhicAllied MinorAllied PyrrhicAxis TotalAllied MinorAxis TotalAxis</p> <p>Priority</p> <p>AXIS</p> <p>ALLIES</p> <p>3</p> <p>Inflict50%andmore casualtiesontheCREFORCE manpower(infantry) Inflictheavycasualtieson theRN ConquerCrete (takeandcontrolatleast 2/3airbasesand2/3 controlpoints</p> <p>Savemorethan50%of CREFORCEmanpower (infantry) Preventheavycasualties oftheRN HoldCrete (holdandcontrolatleast 2/3airbasesand2/3 controlpoints</p> <p>2</p> <p>1</p> <p> So, for example, if the Allies fulfill their primary and secondary goals, they obtain a minor allied victory.Ifhowever,theprimaryalliedgoalisnotobtained,whatevertheoutcomeoftheothertwo goals,anAxistotalvictorywillbeproclaimed.Iftheprimarygoalisnotobtained,buthasbeenalso deniedtotheotherside,thenaPyrrhicVictorywillbeproclaimedasperthetableabove.Now,Iwill explaineachgoalindetailandtheassociatedcampaignrules. </p> <p>3 </p> <p>Priority 1 2 3</p> <p>"CREFORCE"TheAlliedPrimaryGoal(AxisTertiaryGoal)issavingmorethan50%ofthetotalinfantryonCrete (named "Creforce"), so that it can fight another day. Since the evacuation was only possible by destroyersandcruisers,noheavyequipmentisloadable,soitisnotcountedtowardsthisgoal.Only manpowermustbesavedwhileotherunitscanbesacrificedtodelaytheenemyadvance. Theinfantryiscountedassavedintwocases: 1.IfCreteislosttoAxis,butthereismorethan50%ofallthestartinginfantrysquadsintheEgypt withdrawalpoint,thenthisinfantryiscountedassafelyevacuated.Onlyinfantryinthesupplypoint is counted; infantry still surviving on Crete will be counted as POWs and infantry on ships not in rangeofawithdrawalpointarecountedasstillindangerfromairattacks. 2. If at the end of the campaign, Crete is still Allied, and more than 50% of starting infantry has survivedeitherontheislandorisevacuatedinthewithdrawpoint(infantryonshipsisalsocounted nomatterwheretheyare). The Allied commander can evacuate his infantry troops only by using fighting ships of the RN. For this purpose Cruisers and Destroyers will have a small cargo carrying capacity. The evacuation (loading of troops on ships) can ONLY be performed WITHIN 3km of a Control Point in ALLIED possession. It doesn't matter if the CP is contested, but it needs to be Allied controlled. This simulates the real WW2 evacuation operation locations and evacuation under fire. If the Axis capturesalltheCPsbeforetheendofthecampaign,CREFORCEiscountedascutoffandeventually willbecomePOWs.IfhoweverAlliesmanagetoregaincontrolofaCP,theycanproceedtoevacuate throughit. IMPORTANT:The"Creforce"evacuationisnotallowedtobeginunlesstheAxishascapturedatleast1 airbaseonCrete.IfanairbaseiscaptureditissupposedthattheAlliedHQwilldeemthesituationon CreteuntenableanditispossibletogetclearancefromChurchilltoabandonthedefense.Fromthe moment this is fulfilled, the dynamic of the evacuation it is entirely up to the Allied commander. However,thisdoesnotstoptheAlliedcommandertotryandreversethefortunesofwar,decideto goontheoffensiveandretakeCretebases.However,ifhelosesmorethan50%ofhisforceinthe process,itwillbetonoavail(checkgoals). </p> <p>Ziel:KRETA!The Axis Primary Goal (Allied Tertiary Goal) is to take possession of the Island of Crete. This is achievedwhenAxishascontrolof2outof3airbasesAND2outof3ControlPoints.Theairbasesare Maleme, Stavromenos and Heraklion, and the CPsare ports through which the Allies aretrying to evacuate:SudaBay,SphakionandHeraklionPort.Seethemapbelowforlocations. TheAxisplannerhasseveralwaysathisdisposaltofulfillthisobjective:German7.Fallschirmjaeger Divisionispoisedtostrikeinamassiveairdrop;5thPanzerDivisionandItalian"Regina"Divisionare waitingtobeembarkedonasmallflotillaofGreekboatsandtoinvadeCretebysea.Finallythere are 3 more German infantry divisions (5th and 6th Gebirgsjaeger and 22 Air Landing Infantry Division) which can be transported either by air transports or ships. These 3 divisions can only be partlytransportedbyplanes(withouttheirvehicles,whichmustcomebysea),andonlyunloadedby LANDINGtheJu52sonacapturedairfield,sincetheyarenotparatroopers.Untilthefirstshipcomes ashore,theonlyadditionalsupplytoGermanparasonCretecancomefromJu52sdroppingsupply 4 </p> <p>drops. The Axis commander has complete discretion as to WHERE and WHEN he will drop his paratroopers.Hecanchoosetodroponall3majorobjectivessimultaneously,orconcentrateallhis forcesononlyoneobjective.Hecanalsodecideonthemomentofthebeginningoftheparadrop (be aware that the battle begins with no Axis units on Crete). The one thing the Axis commander MUST respect is he must drop the entire 7. Flieger and Luftlande Sturm units (the paratrooper regiments)in2majordrops.So,2CONSECUTIVEmissionsinthecampaignwillbethemajorAxisair drop,involvingmanyhumanpilotedJu52transportplanes.Thesetransportplaneswilltakeupusual bomber plane slots of the Axis expect no additional plane slots during the drops! After this has been done, the Axis can manage their supply or reinforcement transport flights (bringing other airlandingdivisions)accordingtotheirownplansanddynamics. </p> <p> Second aspect of the invasion, and an even more important one is the sea landing. The capture of Crete will not be likely to succeed without the sea borne element. The fact that it succeededinreallifewasmainlyduetomanyfactorswecanneithersimulatenordisregardfrom hindsight.Therefore,theAxiscommanderwillattempttochangehistorybysuccessfullylandingthe 5thPanzerDivisiononCreteand/ortheItalianReginaDivision.Theseforces,alongwiththeheavy equipmentoftheotherinfantrydivisions,mustbeloadedonshipsandsailedtoCrete.Theycanbe landedatANYTIMEAFTERtheparadropandATANYPOINTontheisland!Theonlyconstrainttothe movement and landing of these boats is their natural speed and the presence of the RN and RAF patrol planes. It is completely up to the Axis commander on how he will manage the dynamic of thesetransports.Thetablebelowgivestheallowedcargoforeachtransportshiptype;forexample, afishingboatcanonlyloadinfantryandartyandnottanks,andthismustberespected.Theaxiswill have10seamovementslotsineachmissionavailable. Class Capacity Cargotypeallowed ArmedPaddleSteamer 200,000 Tanks,Vehicles,Artillery ArmedTrampsteamer 500,000 Tanks,Vehicles,Artillery FishingjunkA 30,000 Infantry,Artillery CoastalTanker 2,000,000 Suppliesonly RudesheimerTroopShip 50,000 Infantry,Artillery </p> <p>5 </p> <p>RoyalNavyvs.Luftwaffe The Secondary Goal for both sides is dealing with RN casualties. In historical Crete the RN commanderintheMedsectorAdmiralAndrewCunningham,decidedthattheshipswillsupportthe armyontheislandinspiteofRAF'swithdrawalandthusthetheywilloperatevirtuallyunprotected fromtheLuftwaffeandRegiaAeronautica.Whenconfrontedbyhiscolleaguesaboutthisdecisionto stayandprotectthearmyontheislandinsuchadversecircumstances,hesaid:"Ittakes3yearsto buildashipbut3centuriestobuildatradition",andsotheRNremainedfaithfultothearmytroops trappedonCrete.AsaresulttheRNsufferedheavycasualties:3cruisersand6destroyersweresunk and further 10 ships, including the HMS Formidable, were heavily damaged and out of action for months.ThishasbeenasignificanthitontheBritishNavyintheMediterraneanTheatreandshould beaccountedforinourcampaignaswell. </p> <p> TheAxishasnofightingnavytospeakof.TheItalianfleetisstilllickingwoundsfromthebattleof Cape Mattapan few months earlier, and is reluctant to engage in another major sea battle. This provides an opportunity for Luftwaffe to show to Hitler that it can be more effective than a full fledgednavy.Thisitwillhavetodo,sinceontheotherside,theAllieshaveRNsquadronsmarauding aroundCreteandpreparedtopounceonanyinvasionfleetpoorlyescortedandmadeupofflimsy transportboats. Asweestablishedinthepreviouschapter,theAlliedcommanderwillhavetoplayagameofcatand mouse with his axis counterpart; they both have sensitive ships afloat and those can come under attackbytheirrespectiveairforcesandcombatshipsatanytime,yettheyMUSToperate.IftheAxis is to capture Crete it must push its sea invasion and if the Allies want to stop the invasion or evacuatethetroopstheymustmovetheirownshipsaroundandthusexposethemtotheLWand RAtorpedoandbombcarryingairplanes. Comingbacktoourcaseandtakingallofthisintoaccount,thegoalwillbetosaveRNships(forthe Allies)ortodamage/sinkthem(fortheAxis).Inordertoaccountforthedamagedships,whichis justasimportantontheaftermathofthebattle,wewillhaveasystemoftrackingdamagethatgives pointsforsinking(1kill),heavydamage(1/2kill)andmoderatedamage(1/4kill).Thegoalforthe Axisistoobtainatleast15"kills"ofRNships.Thedetailsofhowthetrackingsystemworks,will explainedin"Thenavalwarrules"chapter. </p> <p>6 </p> <p>Thenavalwarrules TheAxishasnorestrictionsontheirshipmovementortaskforceformation.TheAllieshoweverdo; allRNshipswillbeplacedonthemapinprebuilthistoricaltaskforces.Thesewillnotbeallowedto bebrokenup.Theonlyexceptionwillbetoreleaseadamagedship. Herewecometothedamagetrackingsystem,andhowitworks.IfaRNshipisdamaged,theAllied commanderhastwooptions:eitheritcancontinueasapartoftheTF,oritcanbereleasedfromTF dutytotrytogetoffthemapandintothesafetyofAlexandria.Ifthesecondoptionischosen,the damagedshipisrequiredtogotheshortestpossibleroutetowardsthedesignatedwithdrawpoint. It can't take any troops with it on the way and is not allowed to engage on purpose any enemy targets, but is a fair game for the axis. When it comes (if it makes it without being sunk) to the withdrawpoint,thecurrentdamagelevelisnotedandtheshipiswithdrawnonceandforallfrom the map. The damage level is added into the RN casualties pool. Again, it is 1/2 kill for a heavy damagedshipand1/4formoderatedamageatthetimeofwithdrawal.Lightdamagedoesn'tcount. Of course, if the ship has been sunk before making it out of the map, 1 kill is entered into the damage pool. At the end of the campaign the state of all ships on the map is also analyzed and appropriatedamagesaddedtothepool.Theresultthresholdis15kills;thismeanseither15sunkRN shipsortheequivalentnumberindamagedshipsasperabovementionedpointsystem.* * I am considering another option for the 2nd victory goal: victory threshold of 50% of the total numberofshipsputonthemapbytheAlliedplanner.Thiswillenableustoincrease(notbymuch) theRNnumbersiftheAxisairforceprovestobetooeffective.Thisisimportantasabalancingoption totheadmin. SomeloadoutrestrictionswillbeimposedontheAxiswithregardtoshipdamage;noSC1000and heavierbombs.AxishasenoughplanescarryingSC500,TorpedoesandMotobombaweaponswhich shouldbemorethanenoughtotakecareoftheRN.Ontheotherhand,theshipswillhavea0.333 historical rate of fire (FMB value 3.0). This must be set so that they will have some chance of defendingthemselves.Remember,theallieshave28planeslots(22fightersmax)vs.56planeslots fortheAxis;thisshouldmeanthattheAlliescannotputadedicatedCAPabovethetaskforces,orat leastonlywhentheyareveryclosetotheisland.Thisshouldeffectivelyconservethehistoricalstate ofthingsinspiteofourunhistoricalpresenceoftheRAF. ThereisaperkavailablefortheAllies;iftheFormidableCarrierTaskForceispresentonthemap, theAllieswillhave4additionalplaneslots.Moreonthisinthe"Airwar"section. Important:oncetheRNtaskforceentersthemapitcannotbewithdrawn!Sobecarefulwhenyou decidetoputitonthemap!ARNshipcanbewithdrawnONLYifithassuffereddamage.Although light damage isn't counted into the pool a lightly damaged ship can be taken out...</p>