Campaign for North Rivett day 1 Posted on 7 Mar 21:30 , 2 comments

Well the war we had all desperately attempted to avoid has fallen on our heads like a thunderclap. After years of negotiations and compromise it has all come to naught and diplomacy has finally descended into other means.

League of Nations meeting 1935 ~ Tony Falzarano (representing Germany), Greg Pinder (Japan), Simon Mackenzie (Italy), Andrew England (USA), Harry Rowland (USSR & China), Nich Hills (France) & Sheldon White (Commonwealth)

The war did not find the Allies entirely unprepared but they were sadly underarmed. The war began on September 1 1939 when Germany perfidiously invaded a peaceful and prosperous Poland.

 

German setup Polish front prior to Polish mobilisation

The Polish set up 2 armies in Warsaw, 2 in Lodz and 2 in Danzig to allow their destroyers to escape and cause havoc in the Baltic sinking 600,000 tonnes of German shipping int he first week of war before finally being sunk themselves.

Unfortunately that was the highlight of the Polish resistance and she was conquered by the end of September with little loss to the invader. However 500 pilots fled to Rumania to continue the war with the RAF in Britain while Rydz-Smigly was interned by the Russian after they stabbed Poland in the back occupying the eastern half of the country.

On the western front, the war opened far more sedately.

 French German Italian border Sep 1 1939

The British landed both Wavell and Gort into France as well as 3 corps by the HQs reorganising the transport during the month to bring in as much men and material as possible. However with the strength of the German army on the border, they decided discretion was the better part of valour and declined to launch their own offensive in the west. Mussolini stayed on the sidelines...for now.

The Soviet Union used the resultant mayhem to make their own landgrabs, demanding Bessarabia from Rumania on the 10 September which Hitler reluctantly conceded.

Soviet Bessarabian front Sep 1 1939

Stalin followed this up with an invasion of Eastern Poland on the 15th September and an declaration of war on Iran on the 20th.

Soviet forces on Iranian border Sep 1 1939

 The invasion caught the Iranians completely by surprise as they set up south of Tehran making it a parade ground march into the capital with no loss by the Soviet's elite Mongolian cavalry corps.

Further east the war between China that has already been dragging on for 2 years since the Peking bridge incident and the Japanese operations quickly degenerated into fiasco.

.China Sep 1 1939

Hirohito started September brightly occupying Chengchow against negligible Chinese Nationalist opposition but when his forces attemted to take Communist held Sian it was a disaster, losing 2 armies for no Maoist losses.

A southern task force landed Yamamato and another 3 armies in Canton and Hainan and they quickly spread inland again against negligible opposition but was halted by Chiang Kai-Shek's forces south of Kweiyang. The front did not move for the next 6 months.

China November 1 1939

 On the diplomatic front however Hirohito was much more successful signing a non-aggression pact with Joseph Stalin at the end of October.

Peace in our time

However the Chinese front was the only blight on the Axis advance during that first half-year of war.

German units quickly relocated from Poland to the western front and with the skies remaining unusually clear, on October 1 Hitler declared war on the Netherlands overrunning her in a week and sinking 1 million tonnes of Dutch shipping as well as the light cruiser Java.

They then continued their insatiable aggression declaring war on Belgium occupying Brussels by the end of October. This caught the Allies hopelessly unprepared and the road to Paris almost completely unguarded.

 Western Front November 1 1939

Displaying their usual skill and mobility, the Germans started November in the same manner as they ended October advancing rapidly in snow across the border into Northern France while the French and British looked on in astonishment.

Fortunately the French finally woke up to their peril and with the closing down of winter managed to close the huge hole in their lines but with the Germans only 160km from Paris.

And there the Germans were halted at last for the rest of winter until in a blaze of sunshine the Germans resumed their apparently unstoppable offensive in March 1940.

During the first 6 months of the war, apart from the loss of their shipping in the Baltic to the plucky Polish sailors, German losses had been negligible while they overran 3 countries and occupied North-eastern France herself. Can the Allies do anything to stop their momentum?