France Fights On (English Translation) - Thread II - To the continent!

06/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 6th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev
The lid is on the pot
Brodivs'ke sector (north of Ostroh)
- After the violent correction inflicted the day before by the 8. Armee, Vlassov's 1st Shock Army spends the day trying to consolidate its position and to save what can still be saved of what was its vast bridgehead. Marx be praised, it is now in the sector of the 6. Armee - much less aggressive than its neighbor.
In fact, facing the 1st Shock, Karl-Ludwig Rhein's 331 ID is alone. Like before, the 223. ID of Christian Usinger in Ostroh, it is true - but the latter was in defense, had far more qualified veterans and did not have to deal with the additional 20 kilometers of riverbank to the vicinity of Zaritchne. Rhein had to attack no less to "clean up the communist residues on the west bank", without expecting any support from the IX. AK.
As was to be expected and despite the good will of the reserves, the assault, led by the only 559. Grenadier-Regiment, quickly stumbles. Vlassov can therefore continue to bring in reinforcements while waiting for the continuation - even if his formation, finally, is saved above all by the insignificance of the position it currently occupies.
Sector from Ostroh to Varyvodky - In the vicinity of the former Geländer des Todes, not every day can be devoted to killing. After the bloody battle of the day before (25,000 dead, wounded or prisoners, and 175 tanks were destroyed), Russians and Germans return to a good-natured wait-and-see attitude.
The IX. AK does join its positions on the banks of the Viliya. Once again entrenched behind a river (and also away from any probable axis of offensive ...), this army corps so martyred since the beginning of Rumyantsev - and even since Zitadelle - that it has to give its Hiwis a well-deserved rest. On his right, the LIX. AK of Kurt von Der Chevallerie is not yet in position between Kutyanka and Varyvodky - it has 40 kilometers to do to reach its destination. Even with a forced march and at night, a little patience is needed.
The III. PanzerKorps of Werner Kempf has to continue to ensure the rear guard, by covering the infantry by a vast movement along the Viliya before bringing it back - in the long term - to Lanivtsi. This could be risky... But the Red Army does not really pursue.
The 1st Guards Cavalry Corps moves toward Ostroh, with the 4th Guards and the 1st Armored Corps on its left at Kam'yanka. Rudely punished the day before for their insolence, the 5th Guards Army and their fellow soldiers are content to accompany the panzers, firing an 85 mm shot from time to time. As for the 26th Army, it provides the interval alongside the first elements of the 1st Armored Guards Corps - which are likely to be the last, since Mikhail Katukov has been ordered to postpone sine die any further transfer of his forces to the west bank. Things seem to be moving - at last - towards a pleasant conclusion for the Reich in this sector.
Lanivtsi sector - This is also the case here, as the II. SS-PanzerKorps begins to move, in order to bring its obviously decisive support to the encircled ones of Bar. The Schutzstaffel flies to the rescue of the Heer and the Hungarians - what a symbol! After the hard fighting of the last few days, the SS magazine Das Schwarze Korps will not fail to publish a number of interviews and other heroic stories about the fighters of the New Europe, who defended the West at the cost of their blood against the Bolshevik wave before going to triumph elsewhere - without specifying where, but one can easily guess.
Indeed, the SS was not particularly discreet about its plans. However, Himmler believes that his weapon has something to apologize for (at least in esteem!) after Zitadelle, while Manstein could not do much about it. In this vast sector from the base of the Geländer des Todes to Pidvolotchysk, there will soon be only the 125. ID (Wilhelm Schneckenburger), with eventually, on its rear and north, the III. PanzerKorps as army reserve. It is not much... but it is only temporary and at some point, one must make choices. If the HG NordUkraine still has the luxury to make choices. In truth, like a top of flesh, blood and metal, it can only keep its balance by moving.
Volotchysk sector - Here, the fight continues towards Orikhovets'. The frontovikis of the 3rd Army (M.S. Shumilov), supported by T-34s of the 5th CB (S.M. Krivoshein), are still facing the Landsers of the 371. ID (Hermann Niehoff) and 141. ID (Heinz Hellmich) in a fight with no apparent outcome - reminiscent of those carried out a few weeks earlier in Belarus, and even more recently in the Ukraine. Thanks to the massive support offered by the 16th Air Force (Comrade Rudenko does not have much else to do today), the Red Army holds its positions, but not more.
2nd Ukrainian Front - The Hungarian forces, educated by their experience of the previous day, are again on the defensive, waiting for the reinforcements promised by the Germans - which should arrive around October 9th, for the first of them... if all goes well! Still handicapped by the lack of armoured and air support - but also ravaged by devious dissensions - the Honvèd seems incapable of winning alone. It can only act as an auxiliary force, a modest auxiliary guard. The Wehrmacht complains about this, of course - yet this is precisely the role it has always wanted it to play, with the costume it offered him after having made it itself. Abyssus abyssum invocat.
Bar Pocket - Another air delivery, this time carrying 79 tons of supplies, thanks to the commitment of several additional Heinkel 111s specially detached for this mission. It is still insufficient... but it is getting better. Is it Göring's fault if the He 111 can only carry 2 tons of cargo, and if the wind blows many of them towards the red lines? Nobody will answer these questions.
However, in the absence of a sufficient number of transport aircraft in the Luftwaffe, the wide-winged bomber proves once again to be a precious auxiliary, including in its rarer versions - such as the He 111 F, powered by Jumo 211s and initially intended for Turkey. The RLM ordered 40 of them, in order to make torpedo boats comparable to
to the SM.79 Aerosurilantes. Since then, the Italian fashion has passed, the sailors have become runners and they carry out their mission among the other He 111s, under the fire of the VVS and of the flak which today take 5 of theirs...
During this time, on the ground, the anguish, dull but visible, does not stop rising. In the evening, Erwin Jaenecke orders to prepare the construction of a makeshift field in the fields south of Stepanky. It will probably be exposed to artillery and aerial bombardment, it is true - but at night it will still be possible to use it. At least we'll try...

Kremlin, 17:00 - Now that the evacuation of the Slavuta peninsula by the enemy seems well and truly underway - in accordance with his predictions - General Aleksei Antonov returns to his Vojd with an amended plan for the continuation of Rumyantsev. This one, called Rumyantsev-TBT (Ternopol-Brody-Chervonohrad), is precisely what the Belarusian announced three days ago: a maneuver in the form of a diversion from the Slavuta peninsula, followed by a breakthrough from the south at Lanivtsi before heading northwest, taking advantage of the spaces between the various rivers in the region.
Theoretically, Antonov should not have any difficulty to make validate this plan - a fortiori when all his forecasts have proved accurate. But Stalin still does not believe in this story of maskirovka on a promontory snatched from high struggle, coupled with a breakthrough on a single sector in vague coordination with the offensive in Romania ... If there is one thing that the civil war taught him (badly), it is that quantity has a quality of its own. The quantity, therefore the width of the front.
So the Georgian pretends to accept the file with an equal air, the pipe raised and the forehead high, before putting it down on his right and moving on. Before he dismisses Antonov, he will not forget to order him - and Zhukov, through him - to restart the attacks as soon as possible in order to get out of the Slavuta peninsula. Stalin is infaibillity. Stalin is genius. Stalin is also sometimes stubborn.
When leaving the office, Antonov cannot help but meditate on this good word of Andrei Eremenko, which obviously did not concern the Marshal and General Secretary: "When two generals oppose each other, one of them is necessarily intelligent, and the other an idiot. Unless both are idiots!"

Occupied Ukraine - Sydir Kovpak's infiltrated forces, which are already raging against the forces of the Hungarian 4th Corps, are instructed to push further into the interior of the German position, in order to put to fire and blood all the communication routes leading to the Bar cauldron. Obviously, the aim is to delay the inevitable arrival of reinforcements intended to break through in the direction of the Kessel - the Stavka does not need to read Das Schwarze Korps to anticipate their arrival. The Partisans therefore abandon their Hungarian targets for a while to move on to other opponents. No less strategic, and certainly even more so - just as they will be ruthless for the civilians caught between the hammer and the anvil.
06/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 6th, 1943

Italian Campaign
Northern Italy
- The center of gravity of the SS division's operations gradually shift to the north. It now rakes the Upper Trentino while the 15. SS Polizei-Rgt complete the operation by setting up in Trento.
The occupiers add cynicism to their cruelty. In fact, they try to impute the massacre of several families to anti-RSI actions of the Resistance, but after the war the investigators found direct witnesses that allowed the SS of the 15. Panzergrenadier to be tried for war crimes.

Greece and Balkans Campaign
(Fast) Return to the country
- Concerned about the scuffles and other incidents in Serres, which are increasingly taking on the appearance of looting or ethnic cleansing, Major-General Hristov is now considering calling on one of his own divisions to "extract" the 16th Division from the city. Indeed, the Bulgarians of the White Sea, while legitimately wishing to protect their relatives, are also very bitter about their upcoming departure. They thus react with a blind and unexpected violence to the actions of the Hellenic resistance movements and moreover put their weapons - against payment - at the service of different organizations, for the good or the less good reason. In short, the unit of Colonel Velchev has put the city under control.
Of course, the presence of Beckerle's SS does not help. The latter throw oil on the fire by proceeding to arrests and executions - in their legal justification as well as in their... modus operandi. Summoning once again the stirring chief of the 16th ID to his HQ, Hristov sees him asking again for a delay in order to facilitate the departures! Velchev knows himself all the more in position of strength that the 1st Army is still not in place at the Koprivlen Pass. The Bulgarians of Thrace gain again a day, which is not really good news for everybody.
Athens - Informed by the unified antennas of ELAS-EKKA operating in Thrace, the allied command receives a report detailing the exactions and incidents in progress in the area - all carried out by armies in full retreat and certainly not able to resist a determined push of the British. A copy of this document arrives on the desk of General Panagiotis Spiliotopoulos. Naturally, this one transmits it in haste to his government, so that this one protests against the fact that one lets, once more, Greeks are to be slaughtered with weapons at their feet and in indifference (of the Greeks and others, but it is secondary).

Deceptive appearances
- Major-General Trifonov has mail. At least that's what the British officer serving as his chaperone tells him that he has received a letter. But apart from the fact that the envelope also bears the stamp of the postal services of the palace, the Bulgarian will not know more for the moment. Indeed, the missive itself is currently under careful and meticulous study by the services of His Majesty - after all, what proves to the Allies that this Bulgarian defector is of good faith? Between graphological examination, research of codes and even toxicological analyses (!), the message from Sofia remains one more day out of reach of its addressee.
06/10/43 - France
October 6th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
- The fighting calms down in the Ubaye valley. The Moroccans clear the ground while the Germans settle on their new positions. There is however street fighting in Embrun. Moreover, it is necessary to take Mount Guillaume and the Tête de l'Hivernet to the west, and penetrate the Méale forest and the Col de la Cloche to the east.
Further north, the 27th Alpine Division stops its maneuver. Gap is now completely cleared, only the 5th Infantry Regiment of the 10th DI is still holding on to the Gruppo Aosta. Completely dominated, the latter withdraws again at the end of the day on the next ridge line, prohibiting the Col de la Croix-Haute.
The 21st Infantry Regiment finally emerges from the heights south of Beaumont en Diois and overruns the 297. GbJg Rgt and arrives south of Luc en Diois. It thus unblocks the situation for the 4th BMLE, which was until then somewhat stuck in the twists and turns of the D93. This breakthrough destabilizes the German system, forcing the KG formed by the engineers and the Panzerjägers of the 157. Gebirgs Division to withdraw to the north.
In the German staff, one begins to guess the French intentions. They are not to break through to Grenoble, but, thanks to limited attacks by a few battalions in the Alps, to drive a wedge into the defenses in order to "break them down" by "pulling little by little on the thread of the seam", whereas the best troops are now engaged in the Vaucluse against a general attack. In the Alps, the objective of the French seems to be to seize Die, which would give them a way out on the Valence plain. Orders are given to reinforce this sector and, above all, to prepare new positions at the exit of the Kessel of Montélimar in order to be ready for any eventuality.

Battle of Montélimar
- Lieutenant Koudoukou, a volunteer, was wounded and decorated on June 25th, 1942 in Greece, he was then second lieutenant. After his convalescence, appointed lieutenant, he was transferred to a training unit. After several requests, he was transferred to a combat unit. Last night, he proposed to his battalion commander, Major Gracieux, a daring operation: to overrun during the night with his 2nd Company through the hills southeast of Bourdeaux, to surprise the German mountain hunters in the early morning. At sunrise, the rest of the RTS go head-on while the Koudoukou Company completes its approach. To conclude in beauty, the company has the luxury of a bayonet charge against the stunned Germans. The Black Force has spoken: the Germans stagger towards Bourdeaux. The lieutenant adds a palm to his Croix de Guerre for this action.
In the neighbouring compartment, the Moroccan riflemen and the Zouaves have their work cut out against the Fallschirmjägers of the 6th and 7th regiments, solidly entrenched on the heights and well supported by their artillery. However, thanks to the support of the air force, the Zouaves manage to advance 2 km.
Facing the PzGr Rgt 76, the Béliers of the 1st Regiment of Chasseurs and the 4th Regiment of Mounted Dragoons break through and reach Espeluche. However, a counter-attack of the Panzer IVG of Panzer Rgt 2 of the 16. Panzer send the French back into the hills, allowing the grenadiers to relocate at the mouth of the D24. Meanwhile, the 3rd DBCP continues fighting in the hills against the grenadiers of Rgt 64.
Near the Rhône, in the Donzère and Malataverne sectors, the infantrymen of the 6th RI and the dragons of the 7th and 15th RDP gradually force the SS of the 14. PzGr to retreat. The fights no longer take place in the Vaucluse plain but on the first hills of the Drome. Taking advantage of this progress, the Taureaux of the 501st and 503rd RCC can now advance in the plain of Montélimar, but there they run up against the second defensive curtain of the Germans, consisting of 75 mm anti-tank guns, Marders and Jagdpanzer IV, ambushed to counter any breakthrough.

Languedoc - Still nothing to report in this sector. The attention of the protagonists is fixed on the battle of the Montélimar cauldron. The sector is even quiet enough to allow a few war correspondents to approach the front lines.
"I had the chance today to go on patrol with the guys of the 32nd Infantry. I was able to see how much we Americans were expected to do in this land of France. The slightest crossing of a village quickly and inevitably provoked cheers and crowds. These people, some of whom had lost everything in the recent fighting, were literally beaming with happiness at this newfound freedom. In each village, we were entitled to thousand of invitations to drink, whether from the population or even from the local administration. We had to decline each time politely, explaining that the war was not over, and to leave for our next step, to the great despair of the Boys, somewhat covered with lipstick.
In the hills, it was another thing, we were on the lookout, sometimes meeting a shepherd, a Resistance fighter. I took a wonderful shot there. Imagine a Louisiana giant almost two meters tall, inquiring of an old shepherd, a little man, almost smaller than his sheep. The old man, bent over, pointing to some relief on the horizon with his cane made of an old vine and our man, yet crouching, still exceeding him by a good head, listening to him and questioning him. The whole in a sabir of French and English that only our two companions seemed able to understand.
The patrol ended without any other notable fact. The Krauts seemed to have vanished.
However, make no mistake, they are there, somewhere in the hills, watching, scanning the slightest movement in the plain, as evidenced by the sometimes frightening precision of some of their artillery salvos." (Robert Capa, Carnets de Provence).
07/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 7th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

During the night, elements of the 8th Indian Division swim across the Salween River to neutralize the outposts north of Pa-An and facilitate the division's dawn attack to capture the bridge. However, this locality is vital to the Japanese and they know it! Throughout the day and the night that follows, the fighting rages in the small town and all around the city, there is often hand-to-hand combat. As Sergeant J.Q. Higgins will testify in his memoirs: "I lost count of the banzai charges thrown by the Japanese after the eighth. The only thing I cared about was to fire as fast as I could - there were always too many targets - reload my weapon and start over."
Although the fighting is taking place at the junction of two Japanese divisions, the 12th and the 9th, the latter does not intervene. In fact, it has to face a pincer attack launched a little north of Moulmein by the 5th British ID and the 14th Indian Division. The latter tries once again to seize what a British officer (and lover of dark humor) nicknamed Mount Thanatos. But if, in the plain, the Commonwealth troops advance by about 8 km, on the slopes of Thaton, the losses are heavy and the results mediocre: in the evening, the 9th Japanese Division still holds most of the heights, preventing the two British divisions from threatening Moulmein.
Along the northern part of the front, the 19th Indian Division and the 1st Burmese Division attack but fail to break through the Japanese 55th Division's front.
However, in this sector, the highlights of the day are not there. They are two movements carried out as discreetly as possible, under solid fighter cover that keeps out unwanted reconnaissance aircraft.
On the one hand, the expeditionary force of the Belgian Public Force heads north by road. On the other hand, the 3rd West African Brigade, of the 81st West African Division, which had been attached to Orde Wingate's 3rd Indian Division, slips to the left wing of the British front. There, it takes a small valley that runs north-northeast to within 10 kilometers of the Thai border.
At the other end of the front, along the coast, the 71st Japanese Division is ordered to concentrate an infantry regiment and its artillery regiment (or what was left of it) south of Ye. This movement will begin at nightfall because all day long the Hurricane IIIs of the RIAF have been firing along the coastal road.

Operation Tigertooth
Arriving in the night, the Gurkhas parachutists patiently deploy around the Three Pagodas prison camp. At the crack of dawn, they launch the assault! This will be the most famous feat of arms of the campaign, which will be used as inspiration later to the Allied commandos in the Pacific to seize similar camps. In less than thirty minutes of a furious attack, more than three hundred Japanese are massacred (many of them burn in the fire of their barracks). It should be noted that the guards of the camp, not imagining an attack from the outside, did not monitor the surroundings. The Nepalese have only one dead and a dozen wounded, and there are no casualties among the prisoners - nearly a thousand. Although all are weakened, many of them will soon grab a weapon to fight along their liberators. No less than three Victoria Crosses were awarded in this action.
At daybreak, the Chindits begin to burn down the material depots along the Burma-Thailand border. Although the Three Pagodas Bridge had been visited by the RAF a month earlier, traffic continues with small flat-bottomed ferries. Luckily, all but two of them are on the Thai side of the border, i.e. on the side of Wingate's men, which temporarily limits the risk of a Japanese counter-attack from this side.
A little further south, near "Hyde Park" (Tha Kha-nun), the W column repels during the day a weak counter-attack. In this sector, a Japanese officer had gathered various elements to make an improvised unit of the order of a battalion to try to retake Tha Kha-nun. His failure, due at first to a numerical inferiority, shows once again the validity of Wingate's theories concerning this theater of operations.
At the southern end of the 77th Brigade, the Alexander Column moves into a "defend and demolish" posture. The Cooke Column passes in front in its march north. By the end of the day, it is only about fifteen kilometers from Tha Kha-nun.
During the day, the Chindits are subjected to several air attacks, the most powerful of which is a raid by fifteen Ki-21s, covered by Ki-43s. But harassment by small groups of Ki-51 "Sonia" and a few Thai Ki-30 "Ann" is probably more dangerous, while the strafing and light bombing of the Ki-27 "Nate" of the RTAF are only a simple nuisance. However, the two-tailed dragons are watching over the situation and the Japanese-Thai will deplore the loss of one Ki-21, two Ki-27s and three Ki-51s against the loss of only one P-38H of the 459th FS. The pilot will be recovered by the Chindits and will finish the campaign with them as forward air controller.

Bangkok, 15:00 - While the news from the front is worrying, the Japanese mobilize about fifteen aircraft for a kind of air parade over the bombed districts of the capital. It is a question of showing to the Bangkokians (and their leaders) that Japan did not forget its ally. The Navy as well as the Army want to take part in this little seduction operation, but of course, the two units concerned are based on two different airfields: the twin-engine Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) of the 5th Hikoshidan on a secondary runway of Don Muang (owned by the RTAF), the Mitsubishi A6M3 Reisen (Zeke/Zero) of the 331st Kokutai on the rough terrain of U-Tapao (owned by the RTN), not far from Sattahip.
At the same time, Tokyo officially announces to the Thai government, through the voices of its ambassador and its military attaché, that reinforcements in aircraft would be immediately sent to the Thai squadrons, which are almost exhausted. However, no one has specified the quantity of the said reinforcements, nor the type of aircraft concerned...
In the meantime, the Japanese pilots now based around the capital are convinced to prove to their unfortunate and courageous comrades of what the aviators of the Rising Sun are made of if the Westerners have the audacity to return to the scene of their crime.

Thailand... rebalances itself
Bangkok, 21:00
- It is in the greatest discretion that the Regent of the kingdom Pridi Banomyong gathers at the Palace the representatives of the Armatha - that is to say of the traditional economic elites who control the country. Their deliberations last until late into the night. A Westerner who is not very familiar with local customs but benefiting from a translation of the debates would undoubtedly believe in an exchange of soothing words that lead nowhere. In reality, this meeting marks a major turning point in Thai politics, which many today compare to the "All Saints coup" that took place in Rome a year earlier, almost to the day, on November 1st, 1942, during the meeting of the fascist Grand Council. With this difference that if Mussolini was present then, on this October 7th, 1943, His Excellency Prime Minister Phibun is absent, although it is his fate that is at stake...

Indochina Campaign
Hanoi airfield, 08:30
- The 3rd Hikodan staff meets again, in an anxious atmosphere. In fact, the meeting starts at 19:00, only to be interrupted by an air alert. This is one of the reasons for the latent anxiety, but there are others. The latest news from Burma and Thailand do not improve the mood of General Kuwana. Moreover, if one listens carefully, one can hear the rumor of fighting in the city. The building looks like a castle under siege.
The windows of the meeting room are barricaded and guarded by soldiers, and all the officers have a Nambu Type 14 on their belts in case of a rebel assault, several even took their katana.
As the general explained, the objective now is to maintain a sufficiently strong defensive posture over Hanoi, Haiphong and Hoa Binh to prevent the Allied air force from gaining control of the skies and to be able to continue to support the troops on the ground. The other participants agree, without emphasizing that the available forces (to which one cannot add the few Navy units!) are hardly sufficient for this already minimal task. Fortunately, the fact of having to fight above their bases gives advantage to the Japanese pilots, while the Westerners have to fly a long way before fighting. Moreover, they are forced to try to support the insurgency throughout Indochina, but they cannot be everywhere. Besides, the best news mentioned during the session was the almost total interruption of enemy raids on Laos. As a result, the 56th Division's advance is less difficult.

Dien-Bien-Phu - The 108th Vietnamese Division begins to leave its Epervier base cantonment. A long column of men and small horses pulling teams of supplies or light 65 mm guns takes the road to Tonkin. Its arrival on the front line was not expected for another twenty days. With the exception of units in the process of being reconstituted or in training, Dien-Bien-Phu is emptied of all its combatant formations.

Laos - The flotilla of boats requisitioned by the Japanese slowly advance on the the muddy belly of the old Mekong. Crushed by the heat and the humidity of the air, the soldiers of the Tenno let themselves go to a strange languor. The banks are empty for miles and miles and when a thin village emerges from the curtain of greenery, one sees only a few straw huts that seem to be abandoned. The rifles are sometimes raised when a suspicious agitation - how could an agitation be anything but suspicious? - startles the sentries on the deck of the ships. However, the trees with vines only reveal mocking monkeys arguing under the foliage.
Major Tomiya, however, keeps pacing the deck, stabbing his boots with the pommel of his saber. He only returns to the cockpit to listen to the radio.
On land, things are not going well. The 56th Division is struggling to move forward. The roads are sabotaged and the vanguard was ambushed twice.

Sino-Japanese War
Operation Zhulin
- The Japanese still hold Xinyu, but they are now surrounded by Xu and Zheng's forces. The latter decided to exploit the situation before the arrival of enemy reinforcements and continue their advance towards Nanchang, a hundred kilometers away. The fact that they had a sufficient number of American half-tracks and trucks, a first in this conflict where the Chinese had until then been constantly handicapped by a chronic lack of equipment and especially of vehicles, gives their forces a mobility that they intend to take advantage of. This beautiful equipment does wonders for the morale of the Chinese soldiers, who until recently were lucky to have one rifle per man.
In the Wuhan area, seeing that Huanggang is threatened, the Japanese decide to use the 22nd Division, which had just left Nanjing by river, to reinforce the 3rd Division. The 116th continues up the Yangtze River to Wuhan.
In support of the Chinese offensive, 18 American B-24 escorted by 22 P-51 bomb Wuhan (a Liberator was shot down by a lucky flak hit).

Nanjing - On its side, the ROCAF launches a raid on the capital. Fifteen B-25s escorted by 23 P-40s take off from Changsha (the fighters were equipped with additional tanks). It is mainly a psychological operation - ignoring the flak and the fighters, the ROCAF aircraft attack at low altitude so that their roundels with the twelve-pointed white sun are clearly visible to the ground, but this bombardment adds to the confusion of the Japanese general staff, who begins to fear that the Chinese intended to extend their operations to the lower Yangtze valley.
This fear is quickly dispelled. Despite the feat of Captain Zang Xilan, who became an ace with two new confirmed victories, the ROCAF pays too high a price (six B-25s and seven P-40s lost, in exchange for six Ki-43s) to repeat the feat any time soon. But the ministry district and the airfield are hit hard and the propaganda objective is achieved: the population of the occupied capital saw Chinese planes challenging the Japanese for control of the sky for the first time in five years.
07/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 7th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev
The lid is on the pot
Brodivs'ke sector (north of Ostroh)
- The 1st Shock Army continues to fight and, against many prejudices, it seems able to hold. It is true that with only three regiments, two of which are reservists, the 331.ID has a little difficulty in pushing the equivalent of a corps of soldiers towards the Horyn, weakened it is true, but also supported by many artillery batteries and regular air raids. The situation does not change: 500 meters here, 250 meters there... And Karl-Ludwig Rhein cannot really afford the luxury of accumulating losses for the simple pleasure of wearing down his opponent.
For lack of alternative, he solicits the support of his army corps - the XXIX. AK, which has nothing to send him. Then his request goes up from Erich Brandenberger to Maximilian de Angelis, the head of the 6. Armee. However, the latter, like his counterpart in the 8. Armee, thinks that the situation was not critical enough for him to take any risks in front of Rovne or on the road to Sarny. If Walter Weiß did not want to do it with (relatively) fresh units, why should he do it with exhausted troops?
So, after a few unsuccessful assaults, the 331. ID finally receives the order to stop expenses, while waiting for the end of the operations in the south as well as the arbitration of Manstein - which will probably come only once the affair of Bar is settled. Vlassov thus retains for the time being his piece of Ukrainian land west of the Horyn - without too many prospects or means to break through, but nevertheless at the junction of two formations visibly at least as much at the end as his own.
Sector from Ostroh to Varyvodky - End of redeployment for the LIX. AK, finally positioned at the exit of the Geländer des Todes between Choumsk and Varyvodky. In front of it, the III. PanzerKorps retreats step by step to the west, followed by the 5th Guards Army of Fyodor Remezov, reinforced by the 4th Armored Corps and the 1st Armored Guards Corps. This compact, powerful - but tired - troop does not have much support for the moment. The 4th Guards Army, 26th Army and their armored formations are facing the IX. AK - as for the units grouped on the other side of the Horyn, around the 9th Guards (2nd and 3rd Airborne Corps, 1st and 2nd Mechanized Corps, 2nd Cavalry Corps...), they are much more there to camouflage numbers than to cross. However, it is necessary to advance. Stalin has still not validated Rumyantsev-TBT and Remezov considers with delicacy that he must make up for his failure of Velyka Borovytsya by showing even more dedication to the task. As Belov said: "There are those who say: 'I see shooting in front of me, I'll stop and do some reconnaissance.' Nonsense! What else could we see? It's obvious that it's gunfire, what else could they throw, apples or what? Go further, if you crush their fire and move forward the enemy will be even more weakened, even more helpless..."
A somewhat... manly approach to the offensive (even by Soviet standards!), however, Zhukov is not in a position to oppose for the moment, even though he believes less than ever in a breakthrough in this sector. Had he not once expressed this heretical thought: "It is better not to be afraid of giving up five or six kilometers than to make tired men go into battle without ammunition"?
The 5th Guards therefore go back on the attack against the LIX. AK, taking significant losses in disjointed attacks, where the regiments went into battle with their tails up. Kurt von der Chevallerie holds his line without difficulty - he retreats little and does not let anyone break through. It remains to be seen whether it will be enough to convince the Vojd... or the Germans.
Lanivtsi sector - For the 125. ID, it is from now on the time of solitude and waiting despite the reassuring presence of Werner Kempf further north. No doubt the recent arrival of the 909. StuG Abt (Major Rossi), just out of the reserves of the OKH to reinforce the 8. Armee is welcome, but it is not with a single battalion of self-propelled guns that we will stop the Reds.
To defend 40 kilometers of riverbank, Wilhelm Schneckenburger has only 15,000 men.
That's not much! And on the other side, Nikolai Pukhov's 9th Guards, plunged into a wait-and-see attitude since its last failure at Lanivtsi, seems like a sleeping dragon. Better not to wake him up...
Volotchysk sector - As in Brodivs'ke, the Heer is slipping. The fault is fatigue, lack of supplies, the heady roar of the Il-2s over the battlefield and - above all - to the heroism of the frontovikis, who resist without any spirit of retreat to defend a
modest rectangle of 4 kilometers by 1,500 meters, ravaged by explosions and fires.
Objectively, Mikhail Shumilov has no reason to be so relentless - and Semyon Krivoshein or Konstantin Rokossovsky even less. But here's the thing: as long as the German reserves are there, they are not elsewhere.
The very existence of this umpteenth slaughterhouse on the west bank of the Horyn proves the relevance of the views of the Stavka (if the Germans had other reserves, the matter would already be over!) while keeping the window of opportunity for Rumyantsev-TBT open at great expense. Very expensive - and very difficult. In the evening, 371. ID and 141. ID have advanced another 150 meters and the Landsers are approaching Orikhovets', node of the Soviet defense of the sector.
2nd Ukrainian Front - Nothing to report in this sector for the day: the Hungarians are quiet and the Red Army continues to reinforce its positions. But everyone knows that this will not last.
Bar Pocket - If there are some who start to find the time long, on the other hand, there are the men who have been locked up in Kessel for six days already. The expected offensive to clear the way is still awaited, and Erwin Jaenecke and his colleague Rudolf Konrad were quietly gnawing at themselves as they watch their infantrymen try to clear an airstrip between two artillery bombardments.
A roar... It is the TG4 which comes for the delivery of the day. In the evening, we will count 73 tons. It is less than the day before - the fault of a vigorous interception of the VVS which dispersed part of the formation (6 planes lost and 3 fighters, against 11 of Stalin's falcons). In total, since October 2nd (date of Göring's promise), the Luftwaffe will have delivered a total of 219 tons. That is to say less than a normal day of consumption. "At this rate, we won't go far! We have to continue rationing ammunition and reducing counter-battery fire... while hoping for good news from the west."

Kremlin, 18:30 - Like the day before, General Antonov courageously returns to the charge in front of his marshal, with the reports on the assaults attempted by the 5th Guards of Remezov. Of course, they are fragmentary (Stalin). Of course, they are bad (Antonov).
The Stavka does not try to openly insist on the need to adopt Rumyantsev TBT - it would be silly and even dangerous. No, as usual with Stalin, it is necessary to argue, to present facts, to direct the discussion... until the comrade General Secretary has a brilliant intuition that will lead him where we want him to go. Not that the Marshal is fooled, no! At this level, it is almost a matter of convenience: nothing is imposed on the Vojd! And the latter understands very well what Antonov is getting at - but he continues to fudge the principle, postponing the examination of the operation to this night.
This will perhaps be done: it is common knowledge that Stalin is a nocturnal animal, routinely staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning. But for the moment, the file is still not signed, the carnage continues and the situation on the front is changing.
Paradoxically, by delaying in this way, Stalin denies his army the possibility of getting out of a bush that he himself had warned about. And no one can do anything about it.

Kovel region (occupied Ukraine) - For a few days now, the forest - or rather the scrubland - of Ukrainian nationalist movements has been buzzing with rumors. The UNO of Melnyk would be responsible for the death of an important Bolshevik general, a major figure in the invasion of the national territory. An assassination which would have, moreover, unleashed reprisals... But hey! Nothing comes from nothing and everyone knows that more red savagery today means more recruits tomorrow.
The comrades of the UNO-M, even if they have (probably...) not premeditated their blow, are at the top of their game. The group leaders of the UPA look at them with envy. Some of them were already expressing their sympathy for the UNO-B alumni, who are busy cleaning up Poles in Eastern Galicia and who we hope will one day return to the ranks. These are genuine and vigorous patriots!
Quite the opposite of Taras Bulba-Borovets, in fact. After having discussed with the Hungarians, the Romanians and the Reds, the old man starts to talk with the Secret Army! Yes, the Warsaw idiots, who have occupied Ukraine for 18 years and are not much better than the Russians! For some group leaders, this is too much: if the boss of the UPA wants to lose himself in a policy of soft conciliation that does not serve the interests of anyone (in any case, not those of the Nation), he is free to do so! But for them, their loyalty goes to the flag, not to the armies! And they are more and more numerous to think so.
The Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army of Bulba-Borovets, opponent of all and supported by nobody, will know a real hemorrhage of its cadres as well as of its troops in the following weeks. A good part of them will join the Ukrainian Nationalist Organization of Melnyk (to the point that one will speak about "emptying" in the authorized circles). Another part will be reconverted into highway banditry*. And the last contingent will simply return to their homes.

* In fact, between sporadic activity of the UNO-M and attacks on convoys by these bandits (sometimes reinforced by deserters!), the roads of the Ukrainian SSR were not considered safe by the NKVD until 1952!
07/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 7th, 1943

Italian Campaign
Northern Italy
- The SS complete the ascent of the valley towards the Brenner Pass and reach the vicinity of Bolzano. The official balance sheet of the operation is... two (!) terrorists killed and 200 arrested. The Germans discovered only a few caches of weapons, and even then: these usually contained only three or four rifles or sticks of dynamite.
This meager harvest can be explained. The events in Turin were a cold shower for the Resistance, which adopted a low profile. Some of the young elements who rebelled against the STO preferred to hide with their families or even accepted to go and work in Germany.

Greece and Balkans Campaign
(Fast) Return to the country
- The night is agitated in the city - there was even an exchange of fire between the Bulgarian soldiers of Hristov and "unidentified" elements on Germanou Patron Boulevard, that is to say in the very center! Colonel Velchev nervously assures us that he had nothing to do with it. What is credible, thinks the head of the 2nd Army. At least as much as the numerous reports of the recovery of firearms by the Thracians of the 28th Division. This equipment arrived "by accident" in the hands of local militias...
In any case, this incident is the last straw for Major-General Hristov. At 10:00, without any further negotiations, he directly orders all his units - and in particular the 16th Division - to leave the city immediately. The departure takes place in the following hours, in dramatic conditions, in the middle of cries and tears.
The city is left without a police force, but with many weapons in circulation: it would experience a brief period of chaos before the local Greek Partisans take (with difficulty) the relay, surprised by a violence they had never seen before. About twenty hours punctuated by assassinations, looting and other incidents. The Resistance movements count 362 dead, a total that was obviously lower than the reality: the Partisans were not aware of many of the deaths and they chose to turn a blind eye to many others.
Just before this episode of anarchy, Beckerle's SS had time to murder 481 people in and around the city. They took great care to count them! Most of them were Slavic Jews, formerly protected by Sofia and who did not think they needed to hide. The others? They are mistakes or collateral victims - but in the accounts of the SS, they are all Jews.
Serres will recover from these awful days - however painful these events may be, they have nothing to compare with those of Salonika, Tirana or Volos. The bad tongues will say that the population was frustrated because they could not unleash their anti-Semitism like the Turks did during the pogroms in Eastern Thrace in 1934*.
However, these events, together with the other actions of Beckerle's SS in the whole of Greek Thrace, will definitively shatter the fragile inter-ethnic balance of the region. Nowadays, Serres is only populated by Hellenes.
Drama - Informed of the German and Bulgarian actions in Serres, the Resistance cells of the region inform Salonika that they intend to start an insurrection in the next few days in order to protect the population. Coordinated with the allied advance that the Partisans anticipate, this action would catch the Axis troops off guard and prevent any depredation.
However, the allied correspondents of the Resistance are on the reserve - they have been ordered to discourage any large-scale action. In keeping with Montgomery's caution, the British forces have no intention of advancing eastward at this time. In order to curb the enthusiasm of the soldiers of the shadows, they ask them to hide the people targeted by the SS raids, to conceal their belongings from the militiamen and to wait.
Athens - The government of George II issues an official protest to the head of the 18th AAG, criticizing "the wait-and-see attitude of the allied armies, which camped at about twenty kilometers from zones subjected to war crimes and looting. The Kingdom of Greece, whose army cannot at present take any action, cannot accept such a situation for a long time without reacting." An additional unpleasant dispatch for the British, who are more and more annoyed by the recriminations of this sovereign who does not really know what he wants, but would obviously like to dictate his own strategy to His Majesty's troops.

Stilida - The various checks undertaken by MI5 having given nothing significant, major-general Trifon Yordanov Trifonov finally takes knowledge of the letter "from his family". Drowned in a flood of moving personal considerations, two news attract the attention of the Bulgarian officer.
First, "Uncle Timotei had to leave Thrace to take refuge in Bansko. At least he is safe from those damned Englishmen! Poor old man, he suspects that he won't be able to return soon. But, in his misfortune, he is certain of one thing: his two sons will defend him and Bulgaria, the sacred country he should never have left!"
And a little further: "I suspect that it is difficult for you, wherever you are, to write to us. But cousin Dimitrov and I are convinced that you will find a way. Can't your French friends help you to give us news?"
With a questioning eye, but remaining on the reserve, the intelligence officer probes the Bulgarian amiably:
"So, general, is it good news?"
- That depends on you!" replies Trifonov. "Could you, for example, tell me if the Allied forces are advancing in Thrace? I mean, in the region that the Bulgarian forces conq... occupied in 1941?
- Hmmm... Let's just say that your compatriots are not holding on to the land, to say the least!

A slightly weary smile then lights up the face of the defector: "Then I think I can tell you where they should stop. Our armies are going to return to the borders of 1939, never to leave them. Basically, Bulgaria is leaving of the war, even if the Germans don't know about it!"
Without flinching at the enormity of the revelation, the Briton simply emits, "Wonderful! And I suppose that, in its newfound neutrality, the Bulgarian army will oppose any passage through its national territory?"
- Any passage of the Allied armies, you mean? I am afraid so, if only to keep up appearances towards the Germans. As far as we are concerned, enough blood has already been spilled.
An angel passes, above an ocean of bitterness. The Bulgarian sighs and resumes: "I think my relatives would like an answer, Captain, whatever it may be. And with kindness, they tell us how to get it to them. At least, if the name Dimitrov evokes something to your French allies..."
A report is drawn up and transmitted within the hour to Athens and the Foreign Office, which, after a brief reflection, forwards it to the State Department and the Quai d'Orsay (well, the Quai de la Joliette, since it is there that part of the services of the French Foreign Affairs made stopover between the Rue Michelet and Paris). Marked with the seal "Très Secret/Confidentiel Défense", it will be read with great interest by all its recipients.

* From June 21st to July 4th, 1934, ransackings and physical attacks on the entire "Hebrew community" broke out in a concerted manner throughout Eastern (i.e. Turkish) Thrace. Although the events resulted in only one death - a gendarme lynched by the rioters - the pogrom led to the departure of a good third of the region's Jewish population abroad.
Last edited:
07/10/43 - France
October 7th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
- The fighting is over around Barcelonnette. On both sides, everyone reorganizes their positions. General Conquet (4th DMM) is satisfied with the behaviour of his troops, although their action is only intended to rectify the front. He knows that the bulk of the supply is for Mandragore, but he hopes to launch an offensive before the first snowfall. He has some small ideas that he is going to propose to the general staff.
In the Embrun sector, the 2nd Reggimento Alpini retreats along two axes. The I/2 goes to the west of Briançon to defend the Pelvoux massif. If this retreat seemed so important, it was because the 15th BCA was engaged in the Severaisse valley, from which penetration through the high mountains would allow actions to be taken on the Italian rear. With the first snows approaching, the possession of the refuges will be a key asset on which the 27th DA is counting on. For its part, the II/2 retreats in good order in the Durance valley and settles in a plug south of Argentière la Bessée, in order to ward off any advance of the 7th BCA, which has just reached Orcières.
The rest of the Durand Brigade also interrupts operations: the objectives to open up Gap and secure the Dévoluy massif are achieved, it is necessary to limit the losses as much as possible.
At the end of the Monterosa division's position, the small Gruppo Aosta still has the 5th RI of the 10th DI in front of it. The French regiment seems to suddenly reduce its efforts - in fact, it changes its axis of progression. Indeed, it sends elements westward, on the D539, beyond the village of Grimone, in the back of the 157. Gebirgs Division. Although dominating the road from Mount Jocou, the Italians can do absolutely nothing with their two batteries of 75 mm mountain guns, because the French are supported by the entire 204th RA, which does not hesitate to bludgeon the slightest movement reported on the mountain and watches for any movement of the enemy artillery to counterattack it.

Battle of Montélimar
- In the sector of Luc en Diois, the 297 GbJg Rgt of the 157. GD is attacked in force by the 4th BMLE and the 50th RI, supported by the 61st RA and a large part of the artillery of the corps. The situation becomes even more untenable as the irruption of French elements on the D539 is reported, which leads to the north of his position, on his rear. Under the cover of night, the German regiment falls back.
This withdrawal is in fact the beginning of a general retreat. Indeed, in the Bourdeaux sector, the 296. GbJg Rgt, which had just recovered after being pushed the day before, is threatened by an overrun on its left flank which would allow the French of the 6th RTS to pass the Col de la Chaudière (1,043 m) to reach the rear of the Kessel, threatening the defenders of Montélimar of a general encirclement. At the German headquarters, everyone agrees that it is necessary to sound the retreat and to reposition themselves to the north of the Kessel.
On the ground, the riflemen and Zouaves of the 3rd Infantry Division notice that the paratroopers they are facing are less supported. The German artillery has less bite and the two French regiments can approach Dieulefit.
Further west, the men of the 52nd RI and those of the Fallschirmjäger Rgt 2 fight all day for the possession of the hamlet of Aleyrac and its priory. In spite of the support of the artillery on the French side, it is a bloody draw.
In the plain, the tanks of the 1st and 3rd DB are still struggling to cross the curtain stretched by the 14. SS PzGr and the 16. Panzer. Artillery preparation, progression, reaction of the enemy anti-tanks, withdrawal, call for the air force, resumption of the progression and counter-attack of the German tanks. Within the French command, some doubts arise about the viability of such a frontal attack. However, at the end of the evening, reports seem to show that something is being prepared on the German side.

Imprecise Bombardment
- In view of the failure of the Rangers a few days earlier in front of the fortifications north of Sète, a massive bombardment of the Gardiole massif is decided. This work is entrusted to the 42nd Bomber Wing (17th, 319th and 320th BG). But the smoke deployed by the Germans blind the aim to the point that many bombs fall on Bouzigues and on the town center of Frontignan, causing many victims.
Moreover, the Luftwaffe had obviously had time to prepare itself and the JG 2 reacted in force against the escort, composed of the 31st and 33rd FG. Like a month before, the people of Sète witness a violent aerial battle. In the confrontation, the USAAF loses four Marauders and four Mustangs, against five Focke-Wulf 190s.
You're right John - from my POV, Stalin let things go when he cannot do another way. In fact, we are somewhere in the end of 43 OTL : worst moment gone, back to business. But Antonov, Zhukov and many others to achieve Smarts things. Antonov's ruse is OTL ! Dniepr crossing ...
08/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 8th, 1943

Cairo Airport
- After several days of an uncomfortable but discreet journey, Barbu Alexandru Știrbey finally arrives at his destination: Cairo, after a detour through Ankara in order to cover his tracks somewhat. The envoy of the National Democratic Bloc is not necessarily the most watched of men - after all, he has not been in the affairs since 1927 and King Ferdinand. But the "White Prince" does not forget that he was exiled to Paris under King Carol, only to return to Romania in 1940, after an assassination attempt by an unidentified group... and in these times, you can never be too careful.
The arrival of Barbu Știrbey in Egypt was announced in London through Sir Hughes Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen, His Majesty's Ambassador to Ankara, who was informed by a former member of the Romanian diplomatic services, who remained in the country and was loyal to Iuliu Maniu. His Excellency had no difficulty in obtaining from the Turks a visa and a seat on the first plane to the Egyptian capital. With all that His Gracious Majesty made them sell to the Greeks, the Ottomans can be understanding... And as usual, Sir Hughes rigorously recorded his impressions in written documents, which he put in the safe of his office.
So, as he stepped off his airliner - a very elegant De Havilland Albatross of the British Overseas Airways Corporation - the Romanian plenipotentiary was already expected on the runway by His Excellency Sir Miles Lampson. This worthy servant of the British Empire - in Japan, Bulgaria, China, Siberia, and finally in Egypt and Sudan... - is instructed to take his guest as quickly as possible to a secluded place, out of sight. German eyes, of course, but also and especially from the eyes of the Americans or the French... because Churchill still has the ambition to be the dominant power in the Balkans, on the side of then facing the Soviet Bear - even if it means keeping a few secrets from his allies, or even negotiating on the sly on his side.

Saltsjöbaden Hospital (Baltic Sea, east of Stockhölm) - At the same time, by a funny coincidence of the calendar, His Excellency Frederic Nanu, representing the regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu, is finally speaking in the discretion of a sunny dining room, with Her Excellency Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai, representing the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In itself, this meeting is not without salt - at least as much as its objective, which is for Bucharest to ask Moscow for its conditions for a cessation of hostilities, before considering starting immediately after an economic and military collaboration against the Reich! Indeed, Nanu - a diplomat and son of a diplomat, born in Paris and ambassador in Sweden since the beginning of 1943 - finds himself confronted with a character who is, to say the least, unexpected, if not downright disconcerting.
Indeed, in addition to the fact of being a woman (it is already rare, in diplomatic circles at that time!), Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai is completely outside the framework of the Party - and this in more than one way.
The only daughter of the tsarist general Mikhail Domontovich, she received an education worthy of a princess (with a particular focus on Finnish culture* - which would serve her well later on), she quickly showed an assertive and independent character.
At the age of 17, refusing all arranged marriages with young men of good family, she chose instead to marry a penniless young officer... whom she left three years later**, leaving her husband and child behind to study political economy in Zurich. In Switzerland, she familiarized herself with Marxist theses before travelling through Europe, sometimes travelling alongside figures such as Lenin, Plekhanov, Rosa Luxemburg and Paul Lafargue. In 1898, she joined the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia, before finally joining the Mensheviks (opposed to the Bolsheviks) in 1903, and then returned to Russia to take part in the revolution of 1905.
Exiled in Germany after the takeover of Nicolas II, she resumed her intellectual itinerancy with the great socialist figures of her time. Along the way, she reconciles herself somewhat with Bolshevism and its representatives, by linking herself with a simple metallurgist, leader of the Party of some importance: Alexander Chliapnikov, her lover and then her friend for the next twenty years.
During the First World War, she was obviously Bolshevik and pacifist - she travels from Northern Europe to the United States, before returning once again to St. Petersburg to participate in the 1917 revolution. Appointed People's Commissar for Public Assistance (the equivalent of a Minister of Health...), she is undoubtedly the first woman minister in modern history. She kept this position from November 1917 to March 1918 - a title of glory which did not prevent her, in 1918, from marrying a sailor 17 years younger than her, Pavel Dybenko, even though she still bears the name of her first husband!
Nevertheless, her divergences with the orthodox Bolshevik line catch up with her very quickly: nationalisation of the production, reduction of public liberties, signature of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk and repression of deviant revolutionaries did not suit her.
It ended up openly siding with the workers' opposition, a fraction of the Party banned at the Xth Congress in 1921. Opposing more and more violently to Lenin himself, she narrowly escaped the accusation of "factionalism" which would have led her to be expelled from the Party, or even from the Union. Her comrades were not so lucky - but Kollontai herself ended up being sent to Norway. This country not having official relations with the USSR, she worked there first as a simple "commercial attaché", before the signing of Soviet-Norwegian diplomatic agreements allowing her to become a chargé d'affaire, then a minister plenipotentiary in her own right. Nevertheless, these positions always have a taste of exile! On the other hand, if she is not very popular in her country - her feminism and her taste for men earning her nicknames such as "Kollontaïnette the Scandalous" or "the Immoral"*** - her remoteness allows her to escape from the long series of purges that hit her former comrades...
Some important successes (such as the recovery of Kerensky's gold, blocked in Finland since the end of the Civil War) ensured her thereafter a diplomatic career without problems: in Mexico, again in Norway, then in Sweden. Later, she plays a discreet but real role in the signature of the peace agreements with Helsinki in 1940 and again in 1942, as well as in the negotiations with Sweden - which prevented this country from siding too strongly with Germany****.
Today, Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai is 71 years old and her pleasant face is somewhat crumpled by the years. But she is still recognized as a steadfast Stalinist - "Stalin's trusted man", she is said to be in charge of delicate missions. A role that is associated curiously with its always sulphurous reputation: "progressive feminist", "Jaurès in petticoats", anti-bourgeois linking the war of the sexes to the class struggle, pioneer of of divorce, equal pay for men and women, abortion, maternity leave, free love and polyamory*****, of the legalization of prostitution and many other things that the Stalinist regime kept... or not.
One might as well say that Nanu, a staunchly anti-communist Catholic, has the impression of discussing with the Devil, as he is confronted with this old woman wrapped up in a long coat under which she wears a dress with a very Parisian cleavage, all without fearing the slightest glance. And Nanu is not completely wrong: Kollontai, under his light exterior, can show a real heart of stone******. In 1942, the Red Cross kindly offered to negotiate the fate of the Soviet captives, so badly treated in the German camps, she replied, "The USSR does not recognize the existence of Soviet prisoners of war, those who surrender to the Germans are deserters!" Even in the evening of her life, Her Excellency can be as hard and cold as the walls of the Hermitage Palace. But, fortunately for the Romanians, she can also be realistic.
Thus, Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai places herself, in order to negotiate with Frederic Nanu, within the framework of a "reasonable" foreign policy, intended to "obtain the maximum advantages for her country in favorable circumstances", while "taking into account the psychology of the leaders of the other nations", in order to "slow down a process of hostility and reaction" obviously unfavorable to the USSR in the long term. And the conditions that she proposes to Nanu - within the strict limits of what her attributions allow - are thus all in all rather reasonable...
"1. immediate break with the Germans and joint struggle of the Romanian troops with the allied troops, and in particular with the Red Army, against the Axis.
2. Restoration of the Romanian-Soviet border according to the treaty of 1940. [It is to ratify the existence of the People's Republic of Moldova].
3. Reparation of the damages caused to the USSR by the military operations and the occupation of Soviet territories. [It will undoubtedly be a question of money, even oil - Moscow certainly does not lack it, but one can never have enough of a good thing...]
4. Release of all Soviet and Allied prisoners of war and internees.
In exchange, Moscow undertook to respect the sovereignty and independence and even - an unhoped-for generosity - to act to allow Romania to recover the Transylvania, which had been unjustly taken away from it in 1940, from the Hungarians.
Seen from the outside, one could probably consider these terms as generous - all things considered, even better than those proposed in 1814 to a Napoleon, who was also on the verge of collapse at the Congress of Châtillon. But it is still necessary to believe in the Bolshevik promises... Frederic Nanu will not fail to transmit the Soviet offer with celerity, so much it seems that he is carrying hope.

* Finland was then a province of the Russian Empire.
** We are then in 1896 and divorce does not exist legally in Russia.
*** During her trip to the United States in the mid-1920s, Pravda was to headline - in all phallocracy - "The Kollontaine leaves for abroad, if it could be forever!"
**** So much so that her name will be proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize 1945!
***** For Kollontaï, sexuality and sentiment in love are two distinct things - their association by the principle of fidelity only meets the needs of liberal bourgeois society, especially within the framework of marriage allowing the concentration of capital... Faced with the captivity of love, let us privilege love-camaraderie! As one can imagine, Lenin and Trotsky were much more prudent.
****** Although she has a heart condition (she does not hesitate to take her digitalis during diplomatic talks).
08/10/43 - Middle East
October 8th, 1943

Assembly of the Elected Representatives of the Republic (Alger)
- The ratification of the Franco-Lebanese and Franco-Syrian treaties is put to the vote in the middle of various technical texts. The outcome of the vote surprises no one, as all the heavyweights of the government have affirmed and reaffirmed that they were in favor of these treaties. However, it is surprising how few people voted: hardly more than two hundred parliamentarians. The reason is very simple: Dragon. Once Marseille and Toulon were secured, dozens of deputies and senators asked and obtained to go to the liberated Metropole. The desire for France seems to have been much greater than the interest for the Levant !
08/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 8th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

In the north of the front, the 19th Indian Division and the 1st Burmese Division try to envelop the 55th Japanese Division.
In the center, the fight for Pa-An continues between the Sikhs and Gurkhas of the 8th Indian Division on one side and the Japanese of the 12th Division on the other. The Japanese air force makes a considerable effort, but the Allies have enough to follow - Spitfire Vs, P-40s and Hurricanes get the better of the Ki-43s, Ki-27s and the too few Ki-44s. However, the situation is not resolved until the end of the day, thanks to the intervention of the tanks of the 9th Armored Brigade: the 3rd Hussars is able to cross the Salween on the first heavy bridge set up and the support of its tanks is decisive on the front of the 14th Indian Division. The right wing of the 9th Japanese Division cracks, Pa-An falls to the Allies and the 12th Division is overwhelmed on its left.
A little further south, the 5th British Division progresses slowly in the "Thanatos" massif. However, its troops suffer severe losses under the shells of a Japanese artillery, despite the Beaumont air raids.
However, the Japanese infantry seems to hold on less strongly than usual.
Indeed, the Japanese staff was able to anticipate: it has already ordered the withdrawal of the 9th Division and the orders are ready for the 12th and 55th Divisions. The goal now is to defend Moulmein and the road to Thailand around Win Sein. A second line of defense is being prepared on the tributary of the Salween that passes through Za Tar Pyin and Kyondoe. Around Ye, the 71st Division is able to regroup an infantry regiment and divisional artillery despite incessant Blenheim attacks by day, Night Battle attacks by night.
On the northern fringe of this fighting, the 3rd West African Brigade manages to penetrate into Thailand after having pushed aside a surviving battalion of the 2nd Thai Infantry Division posted near the border. The "Black Lions", although they had only arrived in the area in July, do well, justifying Wingate's confidence in them. They are supported by the P-40Ns of the 90th Fighter Squadron, a USAAF squadron that had arrived in Burma and whose pilots painted a huge skull and crossbones on the front of their aircraft in place of the shark's mouth that had become too commonplace.
The African Chindits begin to advance towards the southeast under the fearful and astonished gaze of the local peasants.

Operation Tigertooth
Column A (the southernmost column at the time) stalled in its turn. In the afternoon, it reaches Tha Kha-nun in the afternoon, where it takes over from the men of the Wingate column.
The latter set off northward: its objective is the Three Pagodas Pass, where the two parachute battalions are entrenched. Column C is caught by the Thai army several times, but the enemy obviously does not have enough troops in this sector. At the end of the day, new supply parachute drops take place, under the protection of the P-38 of the 449th and 459th FS.

Thailand... rebalances itself
Bangkok, 16:00
- Regent Pridi goes in the morning to pay his respects at the largest Buddhist temple in the capital. There he meets with the Patriarch. In the early afternoon, he asks Prime Minister Phibun to visit him at the Palace - with all the circumlocutions that are necessary in such a case, because it could not be a "summons".
The meeting takes place in the greatest calm - we are not in Rome... After the long exchanges of politeness, the Regent draws a picture of the political and military situation that he did not need to darken for it to be very dark!
On the front, the Japanese are being pushed around, Moulmein is threatened, the Shan states are being invaded and the front is approaching the official western border of Thailand. Worse, Bangkok has been violently bombed several times (the Regent obviously has no idea what a really violent bombing could be!) and it is only too likely that the Japanese planes deployed will not be enough to protect the capital.
After having let Phibun explain that everything was done to preserve the sacred soil of the national territory, affirming that the Western armies would not dare to violate the border of Thailand and to promise that the RTAF, soon re-equipped in a modern way, would then be able to prohibit the bombardments of Bangkok, the Regent plays his cards. He announces to Phibun that he had visited the Buddhist Patriarch of Bangkok (of which the Prime Minister was duly informed of by his office, as well as of the previous day's meeting, although he does not know what was decided there).
"I was in great need of the wisdom of the Patriarch to reassure me," explains the Regent.
"Alas!" he moans. On the contrary, it was "a great trouble" that overtook him when he learned that the religious had been visited several nights in a row in his dreams by the Buddha Sakyamuni in person. The latter announced to the Patriarch that "his children" had gone astray.
A significant silence follows these words. Phibun understands perfectly the implications of this supernatural revelation. Bowing to show due deference to this manifestation of the Buddha, he declares that he will immediately make every effort to understand what could have led the kingdom to "go astray" in this way. In fact, leaving the Regent after new exchanges of politeness, he returns in haste to his office and the governmental administrations do not delay to be the seat of a feverish activity. Officials of all ranks, panicked, are apparently looking for the fault line that could have opened these last years in the policy of the Thai leaders...

Indochina Campaign
Udon Thani (Thailand), 00:15
- Following the study of the photos reported by a Spitfire PR two days earlier, an important RAF raid hits the station.
The objective is first to hinder the reinforcement of the northern garrisons and, secondly, to give a hand to the Franco-Laotians. The blackout was respected by the Thais, but the navigation of the British aircraft is assisted by radio guidance relayed by the submarine Surcouf, cruising in the Gulf of Thailand.
Three Beaufighter NF of Sqn 176 start by marking the target with multicolored rockets and small incendiary projectiles. They lead the way for nine Halifaxes and Wellingtons whose aiming was made easier, especially since the flak was weak and there is no night hunt. In the morning, the inhabitants discover a pile of rubble in place of the still almost new buildings of the station (it had been inaugurated in June 1941). The rails are torn off in a radius of several hundred meters.
It takes several days to clear and repair, at least partially, the damage to the tracks. Indeed, the means available on site did not allow for a faster repair of the tracks.
The raid is a great success. The supply of troops in the north of the country (and in Laos) becomes a headache for the Thais.

The Hanoi Revolt
- The fighting in and around Hanoi continues. During the night, fighting takes place in the streets of the citadel. But when dawn breaks, the guerrillas have vanished like a bad dream. The Japanese take advantage of the situation to launch a new offensive on the insurgent-held areas. They are better armed, but the Vietminh have mastered the techniques of urban guerrilla warfare.
Far from stiffening up to defend one block after another, the Vietnamese have transferred their combat techniques to the jungle. They set up ambushes and retreat, sometimes bypassing the Japanese to retake buildings that were supposedly cleaned up. The advance of the soldiers of the Empire of the Rising Sun is slow and painful, as soon as the daylight disappears.
In the air, the day is fairly quiet, marked only by reconnaissance flights from Dien-Bien-Phu and by Japanese ground support missions, which were very difficult because of the intermingling of the forces on the ground. However, when night comes, a few transport planes dare to drop containers of weapons on the rebellious districts. A clear indicator of the disintegration of Japanese forces in Indochina, the absence of electricity makes it impossible to turn on searchlights to guide the anti-aircraft defense. Only a few bursts of machine-gun fire scatter the dark sky without reaching anything.

Dien-Bien-Phu, 15:00 - General Martin meets once again with "president" Hô Chi-Minh. The French officer begins by reproaching his host for the Hanoi revolt. However, the Vietminh leader does not want to be intimidated and blames Colonel Devèze, who had provoked the Japanese repression by asking for the Resistance's help in attacking the station.
An operation is urgently planned to rescue the Hanoi rebels - but one should not take too many risks for what could be a premature offensive. The 110th Vietminh Division will be in charge of breaking through the front, supported by the air force. Unfortunately, the available air assets were limited. To intervene in Tonkin, it was necessary to cease operations in Laos.
But the operations undertaken in Northern Laos, and in particular the recapture of Vientiane are too advanced to be cancelled. They will have to continue with a reduced support, which will have serious consequences.

Dien-Bien-Phu, 22:30 - As a few days earlier, explosions are heard. The blackout being now seriously enforced, the damage is limited to a jeep and a few boxes of 12.7mm ammunition, which cause a very loud crack. On top of the hills, improvised searchlights search the sky in the direction of the engine noise. A stroke of luck: the light brushes catch two shapes in the distance. Immediately, the flak starts to fire with energy, but without visible result.
The most notable effect of this small raid was to reinforce Colonel Devèze's requests for efficient night fighters. "Of course," he says, "the damage was minor. But we can't consider that they will always be minor. That would be irresponsible! It would only take one lucky blow to destroy one of our warehouses and with it weeks of vital supplies for the conduct of operations in Indochina."
Hanoi area, midnight - Two E7K2 "Alf" touch the surface of the Great Lake and make their way towards the hydrobase. On arrival, the mechanics notice that one of the Kawanishi is listing... Indeed, shrapnel has perforated the right float. Luckily, the seaplane goes fast enough to reach, before sinking, the inclined plane which will allow to pull it out of the water.

Sino-Japanese war
Operation Zhulin
Bengbu (Anhui)
- Sent in haste to interpose itself between the New 4th Army and the front line, the Japanese 17th Division reaches Bengbu early in the day. Peng's forces, which had just cleared the last pockets of Japanese resistance in the city, are caught in the rear before they can effectively entrench themselves, and the engagement quickly degenerates into street fighting. As the Chinese do not have artillery and the Japanese not having waited for theirs, neither side has a tactical advantage over the other, and by evening the opposing forces are entangled in the greatest confusion.
08/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 8th, 1943

Italian campaign
Italian front
- Although calm returns to Northern Italy, air operations continue. The 86th DIA believe they have located the HQ of the 65. ID, requested the day before a raid by the 23rd EB. The French Mitchells, escorted by the 3rd EC, go to bomb positions north of San Piero in Bagno, when the Luftwaffe reacts.
The one-eyed ace of the GC II/3, Captain Henri Jeandet, testifies. "The "Michel" had just dropped their eggs and were turning back. We were not too high up, because to spare the Italians, we had promised to take care of the aim. When the radio spat out "Bandits, 11 o'clock up there", our objective was to cover the bombers, but the Fritz had the advantage of altitude. The Blue Section stayed as close to the B-25s while the rest went up to meet the 109s. From that moment on, everything went very fast, even if in the heart of the battle it seemed to last for hours. We wound up with the bulk of their force, but some managed to get through and damaged two of our bombers in the process. The Blue Section still did a great job of interposing itself: the Boche could only make one pass, and the lead arses were able to return without further damage. Otherwise, the countdown was two all for the safeties and two or three other probables, including mine. We lost a newcomer, François, I think, who had just left the school in Oran, and the lieutenant of the Blue Section, but he jumped over our lines and was picked up by the Algerians and should be back soon."

Greece and Balkans campaign
Return home
- The two divisions of the former 5th Macedonian Army have arrived in Simitli - they will soon join their sisters of the former 1st Occupation Corps in the new 1st Army. The 14th and 15th IDs split up and move respectively towards the Kulata and Koprivlen passes. These crossing points and the nearby roads will soon be held by two divisions each. This is probably more than it takes.
In Sofia, informed of this progress, General Marinov sees no reason to maintain the 2nd Army on its positions. Consequently, he is ordered to withdraw immediately to the east, in the direction of Xanthi.

Athens - The secret service report mentioning "the Sunflower source" (the origin of this code name has not been elucidated) is at first greeted with great disbelief by the leaders of the 18th Allied Army Group. However, General Montgomery and his two deputies have every reason to take it into account, and perhaps even to come to believe it.
For Sylvestre Audet, the withdrawal of the Bulgarians to the 1939 borders was already visible - and it was accelerating. The armies had no more reason to invade (and not to liberate!) Bulgaria in October than in September, there is not much risk to send some troops to border the enemy positions - or neutral ones! At best, this zone will be neutralized, perhaps definitively. And at worst, the proximity of Salonika and the other army corps will allow a quick intervention on one of the multiple lines of retreat that the terrain offers.
In the mind of Spiliotopoulos, things are even clearer: Thrace must be liberated as soon as possible. If the Bulgarians leave, so much the better. If they stay, they must be crushed. That is all. Greece is only one step away from its total liberation, and it is urgent to take this step. All other considerations are secondary - besides, it would be ridiculous to believe in a large-scale ambush, which the Germans have the means to do so in this region.
As for Montgomery, he saw in this news something that would help his plans. The neutralization of the Bulgarian front would free up "his" maneuvering mass, the control of this geographical impasse being entrusted to the Greeks. Obviously, its forces will be always as far from their bases, and their insufficient supplies for a prolonged offensive. But, if we proceed to a more thorough analysis of recent events, the spectacular uprising in Albania confirms the potential of Resistance organizations for future operations. Reports even indicate that in Yugoslavia, these movements are relatively disciplined. And in Albania, it seems that they have calmed down somewhat since the Tirana conference (although this is probably only temporary!). Moreover, it is now relatively easy to transmit orders and a little material by the small roads of Macedonia and Kosovo or possibly by air. All this makes it possible to consider working at last effectively with the maquis, according to a model rather close to the infiltrations of the Other War. Mass offensive, infiltrated elements, weakened and uncertain enemy forces... The British sees a window of opportunity opening up before winter.
Monty had not yet completely made up his mind and did not breathe a word of it to his subordinates. Taking act of their agreement, he orders Spiliotopoulos, delighted (for once!), to prepare the 2nd Greek AC (Georgios Tsolakoglou) to give up its place in Macedonia. This formation has an armoured brigade and two infantry divisions, which were hardly diminished by the last operations - it is therefore perfectly capable of ensuring the liberation of Thrace and then holding this sector of the front. Better still, by entrusting this task to the Hellenes, Montgomery can make King George II think that his protests have been heard. Appearances will be saved. But that is not all.
- To take over from the Greeks, General Audet, you will please order the 1st Yugoslavian Army Corps of Brasic to give up its place to the ANZAC of Lavarack. Since these troops are already in contact with each other, the maneuver will be quick. The Commonwealth troops are worn out - but with two armored divisions in their rear, they should be able to hold without difficulty. The Serbs will then occupy the Greek positions at Skidra, Batch and Medjitliya. And Tsolakoglou can go for a walk in Thrace! I also wish to attach the Greek 1st Corps to your 2nd French Army. Apparently, the current passes better between Mediterraneans...
Audet takes the sting without flinching. True, he was born in the Oise region - but for an Englishman, it is surely already the Mediterranean. Montgomery finally concludes: "While waiting for these tricks, the XIII Corps will ensure the transition and will observe the Bulgarians decamping without exposing themselves. Once caught up by the Greeks, it will fall back to Salonika for recompletion and... redeployment. Gentlemen, I think that everything has been said. I won't keep you."
Audet and Spiliotopoulos take their leave, in a somewhat calmer atmosphere. Left alone, the chief of the 18th AAG makes a final point. Yes, he has the men and the opportunity. But the question of means remains: ammunition, trucks, fuel! How to get them delivered to Salonika, once the port is repaired? And while he is vegetating here, Provence was being generously supplied with oil! Montgomery is now planning to use his relations at the highest level. "After all the crap I've had to swallow, "he" owes me that much!" he says to himself with a grimacing smile.
08/10/43 - France
October 8th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
- The 6th and 22nd BCA goes up the upper Durance valley in the direction of Guillestre, where the Italians of the Monterosa are positioned. For its part, the 27th DA expands its position and sends a few men to the top of the 3,406-meter Grand Bérard.
In the other sectors covered by the 27th DA, everything is quiet. The 11th, 13th and 24th BCA are content to reconnoiter the terrain by making a few probes. A little to the east, the 15th BCA, which has a high mountain shock company, settles into its new environment at the foot of the Says peak.

Battle of Montélimar
- While the bulk of the 157. Gebirgs Division has withdrawn and concentrated around Die, some of its elements remain in defense around Bourdeaux.
Their mission is to fix the Senegalese of the 6th RTS and their accompanying tanks, in order to allow the engineers and panzerjägers of the 2. FJ Division to counter-attack from the flank.
The purpose of this counter-attack is to keep the gate open to the north so that the defenders could quietly move to new positions on the other side of the Montélimar cauldron. The operation is successful, forcing the colonials to retreat and allowing the 6. and 7. FJ Rgt to retreat in good order towards Le Poët-Laval and Bourdeaux.
Meanwhile, after a morning of bitter fighting, the 2. FJ Rgt starts to retreat towards La Bégude-Mazenc, the 52nd RI on its heels. The French infantrymen can already see themselves emerging in the plain, but it is to count without a new counter of the Panzer Rgt 2, which covers the retreat of the German Green Devils.
Another unit of the 14th ID, the 3rd DBCP, also notices a weakening in its sector. Indeed, the Panzergrenadier Rgt 64, accompanied by StuG Abt 1, leaves its positions, leaving them to the care of the SS PzGr Rgt 37, to come and position itself in second curtain around Charols.
At the French headquarters, the doubts of the day before ar replaced by a measured satisfaction: the plan is working, the German line is cracking on all sides.

The Avignon pipeline
- Long before Dragon's D-Day, it had become apparent that the daily needs of the armies landing in the South of France would require four tankers at all times. It appeared stocks and numerous depots would also have to be built up. Given the reduced unloading capacity of the available French ports, about half of the necessary fuel would be brought in by LSTs, in drums loaded on GMCs, or in tanker trucks. GMCs and tankers would be unloaded in Marseille or on LSTs beaching in the Etang de Berre, before taking a route order to the units.
Initially, the fuel supply of the Allied armies was ensured in this way thanks to a noria of ships loaded with trucks. Some of these trucks having been grouped in Corsica, the Americans quickly nicknamed the ships that carried them "Corsica Ferries".
Finally, the refineries of Lavéra (BP), La Mède (CFR) and Berre (Shell), at the entrance to the Caronte canal and in the Berre lagoon, were taken almost intact. They have been completed with floating caissons between Saint-Gervais and Port Saint-Louis, dedicated to solid cargo (equipment, ammunition, food).
The problem of transport is now solved by the installation of a pipeline, the first section of which, leaving from Berre and Lavéra, now reaches Avignon up the Rhône, and Nîmes inland via Arles. Another pipeline, leaving from La Mède, passes under the mountain through the Rove tunnel and feeds the oil tanker dock in the Pinède basin in the port of Marseille. Its primary role is to supply the bunkers, fuel for the transports unloading in Marseille and their escorts (there are two parallel pipelines, one for the fuel oil of steamboats, one for the gas oil of motor ships). Those unloading at Fos, Port Saint-Louis, Caronte, Lavéra and in the Etang de Berre are taken care of by the bunkering vessels stationed in the Aubran dock in Port-de-Bouc. A double network connects the three refineries, although the destruction of the bridges in Martigues allows direct access to medium-sized oil tankers to La Mède and Berre.
At the same time, the rest of the quartermaster's office is set up to supply the troops with ammunition and foodstuffs - not forgetting the needs of the civilian population in the liberated areas. The land part of this system was nicknamed the Greyhound Express by the Americans.
It was thanks to this "Express" that some of the young children of Montpellier, born at the beginning of the war, discovered chocolate, of which the GI's generously distributed bars.
08/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 8th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev
The lid is on the pot
Brodivs'ke sector (north of Ostroh)
- Calm returns for the 1st Shock Army, still clinging to its piece of land, as much thanks to its resistance as to the fatigue of its opponents. Now embedded between an IX. AK who really can't take it anymore and a 331. ID unable to take the decision, Andrei Vlassov, who also benefits from the recent evacuation of the Geländer des Todes, continues to pass troops by asking for reinforcements...or at least instructions. He will not have many today - in fact, his leaders have their heads elsewhere.
Sector from Ostroh to Varyvodky - In the morning, the 5th Guards Army resumes its furious assaults in the direction of Mizyuryntsi, in order to break through to Lanivtsi and the west. But the LIX. AK is well supported by the III. PanzerKorps of Werner Kempf - although this one exposes his tanks only in the most favorable circumstances or when it is really imperative - and the frontovikis hit their heads against a wall. They do not advance. Fyodor Remezov, hardly supported by his chiefs but who is no less obstinate, begins to consider re-engaging the two armored formations that support him (4th AC, 1st CC of the Guard) in a push northward, to Tsetsenivka, following the Viliya.
Nevertheless, all these projects are swept away when Zhukov - who is permanently shuttling between Konstantin Rokossovsky's HQ (1st Ukrainian Front), in Antoniny, and his own (of the 3rd Ukrainian Front), in Korets - receives around 11:00 a long-awaited phone call from General Antonov, in Moscow. Terse, the latter simply indicates: "Sdelano" - "It's done". The Marshal General Secretary was still a bit slow, but the leader of the 3rd Ukrainian Front - as well as the 1st and 2nd Fronts, through the hierarchy - does not waste a second to stop any offensive action by personally phoning Rokossovsky.
From 11:45, the intensity of the fighting subsides a little. Before 13:00, they will have completely ceased. The battle for the promontory of Death - and more generally for the Horyn - seems finally over. And on the German side, we note with joy that the Red Army finally gives up the initiative, after more than a month of uninterrupted assaults.
Generalmajor Wilhelm Crisolli - who arrives to take the reins of the 6. Panzer in replacement of von Hünersdorff (who we suspect will never get out of hospital) - will thus find a depleted formation, with 40 % of its tanks and 70 % of its panzergrenadiers... but at rest. Finally!
As for Fyodor Remezov, he paces back and forth in his HQ, complaining against Moscow who let him down at the last moment. Obviously, he is worried about his future. He doesn't know it, but his own inadequacies make him both a good scapegoat for past failures and an excellent screen to hide from the Germans the maneuver that will soon be executed.
Lanivtsi sector - Complete calm! Now that his northern flank is also secured, Wilhelm Schneckenburger only has to look straight ahead, waiting for better days and the return of his compatriots.
Volotchysk sector - Another attempt by the Heer to dislodge Shumilov's 3rd Army from its part of Ukraine. It does not lead to anything - or very little - as the fatigue of the Landsers was intense and the support of the VVS massive. It must be said that the bridgehead of Orikhovets' is, for the moment, the last active sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front! The Wehrmacht thus suffers a thousand deaths by attacking, with two divisions (badly) supported, a point where the Red Army has free reign to concentrate its formidable firepower.
In the evening, disgusted with the losses suffered and the lack of support, Karl Burdach throws in the towel: he orders the 141. ID to cease its attacks, thus stopping those of the 371. ID. Hermann Niehoff does not want to send his men to the slaughterhouse alone!
Informed, Walter Weiß approves. If the Russians had the means to break through, they would have already done it here. Or further north, to the Geländer des Todes. It's better to rest for a while before moving forward again. Throwing yourself on the enemy lines is good for the Slavs! The forces dispatched to Bar would only have to make a detour northward...
Thus, like Andrei Vlassov at Brodivs'ke, Mikhail Shumilov and Semyon Krivoshein keep on the western bank of the Horyn a small area of about 400 hectares, a devastated territory unfit for human life, but nevertheless free from fascist oppression and perhaps one day able to act as a springboard to the west... You just have to believe in it!
2nd Ukrainian Front - While still waiting for the arrival of the reinforcements so promised by the Germans, the Honvèd forces are vigorously attacked by the German command, which reproaches them for the insecurity reigning on the back of the 2. PanzerArmee's rear and in general their laxity in the management of civil affairs.
Thus, in Yarmolyntsi, the Panzergrenadier GrossDeutschland is the object on the road to Bar of an infamous explosive attack (in fact, an anti-tank mine laid by expert hands), which cost it a Leopard. Furious about this costly setback, Walter Hörnlein himself had a hundred villagers rounded up at random and hung from the gates and walls of the local cemetery.
He obviously wasted a lot of time doing this lowly job himself...
The Hungarians should take care of it, the Reich's elite troops have better things to do!
The fact that the Magyar forces - which were already responsible for 190 kilometers of frontline with the most inadequate equipment - did not have the necessary manpower to secure the roads up to 50 kilometers behind their lines was of no concern to Berlin.
But since the moods of their Germanic sponsor were themselves increasingly indifferent to Budapest, the situation is not likely to improve, despite the regular and bloody interventions of Helmuth von Pannwitz's Cossacks.
Bar pocket - New delivery of the Luftwaffe, which this time brings only 52 tons - the arrival of a weather disturbance over Romania at the end of the afternoon disorganized the flights scheduled for that day, and a number of transports had to turn back, either because of the wind or because of the absence of an escort, sometimes grounded by the elements.
In the evening, Jaenecke and Konrad take stock. In short, they will soon have no more food left, except to resort to increased rationing or emergency measures. The massive raid from the surrounding countryside proves disappointing: not even 35 tons! The fault of the Bolshevik system, of course, which was incapable of feeding its own population. As for the airfield of Stepanky, it is operational... if one wants, because the infantrymen who built it have to permanently fill up the craters dug by the shells that the Reds rain down every two hours (on average). The Red Army does not even seek to kill these brave soldiers, or to prevent possible planes from landing... No, it undermines the morale of the Germans by showing them how much it holds them at its mercy.
Psychological warfare. The VVS came this morning to drop on the lines a large number of... leaflets. This is nothing new - for as long as the Slavs have been trying to make believe that they have won the war... Of course, the hierarchy hastens to intervene in order to confiscate, collect, threaten, rectify and, if necessary, punish - it must be said that the Nationalsozialistische Führungsoffizieren leadership is a valuable aid in this respect.
Jaenecke has one of these documents in front of him - he claims to be talking about one of the soldiers taken prisoner in Bila Tserkva last year.
"Germany is listening!
(A short story)
Frau Schön, the wife of a Panzer Man, had received news from the army that her husband had not returned from the Eastern Front and had died in battle. The sadness in her heart, she organized his funeral, inviting family and friends to attend. On the evening of Sunday - the ceremony was scheduled for Monday at 10:00 - Frau Schön, in mourning, listened to the radio. And suddenly she heard her husband's name.
In its daily program Escaped from Ukraine, Radio Moscow explained that her husband had been picked up by Red Army soldiers next to his burning tank and that he was now alive and well in a prison camp. Frau Schön's first thought was: the funeral is unnecessary! But how could she justify cancelling it?
Well, a little circus doesn't hurt anyone. She prepared her Monday as if she didn't know anything about it. In the chapel, she prepared to play her role of grieving widow in front of the guests. But by 10:00, none of the guests had shown up. The priest went up to the altar and stood in front of Frau Schön, seemingly waiting for something. When the clock showed 10:15, and no one had appeared yet, he came down from the altar and whispered, "We can stop the performance here. I heard it too!"
German soldiers! All of Germany is listening to Radio Moscow! All German families want to know if their loved ones have been saved from disaster! Radio Moscow publishes daily the list of tens of thousands of prisoners in our camps. So, the next time you have questions about a dead or missing relative or friend writing a letter to your family at home - they will probably know how to answer you!" Yes... Of course, in the present circumstances, such a message, while relatively subtle, may carry more weight than usual. Especially if the troop feels abandoned, for lack of help and supplies. This evening, it is impossible to attempt landings - so be it. But from tomorrow (and he intends to explain this to von Arnim by radio), the planes will have to land to unload supplies and evacuate wounded. The cohesion of the forces trapped east of Bar is at this price!

HQ of the 1st Ukrainian Front (Antoniny), 21:00 - Now that he finally has the approval of Moscow to execute Rumyantsev - TBT, Georgi Zhukov loses no time in joining Rokossovsky and decide with him the practical details of the continuation of the operations.
For the action to succeed, it is necessary that the surprise is total. So that the discretion of the movements is absolute. Easy to say: we talk about withdrawing from the Slavuta peninsula the 4th Guards Army, the 1st Armored Corps, the 1st Guards AC and the 1st Cavalry Corps - all under the Germans' nose! - and then redeploy them about fifty kilometers further south. This evening, it rains a little - but no precipitation is announced for the next few days. Too bad, it would have been very useful. So we will have to make an illusion the old way and the NKVD as well as the GLAVPUR (the political arm of the Red Army) will be put to contribution, because all will pass there. Success is at this price! And Zhukov - who finally sees the way to prove the rightness of his views by a total triumph - does not envisage anything else than to put himself to the task, as much as necessary and even more!

Soviet Union - "After several weeks of information, political education and historical update on past events between Romania and the USSR, me and my comrades finally went to military training. Here too, there was work to do - but, for all that, no more hastily trained conscripts like myself before the Dniester! The Vladimirescu Division had all the characteristics of a full-fledged unit of the Army of Workers and Peasants. We also had new officers: Cezar Russesco, a docker from Constanța, promoted to lieutenant on the strength of his merits*. And also Lt. Palariar, our political commissar, who had the good fortune to live in the Fatherland of the Workers for several years**. Between them, they would command our section.
And what a section! It had nothing to do with the poor state of my unfortunate 2nd ID of the past.
We were a carbon copy of a rifle division, organized in three regiments of Pandoures*** with three battalions, each with mortars and machine guns. Apparently, the heavy mortars, anti-tank guns and other artillery pieces were not lacking either****.
What progress! We used only Soviet equipment, but kept our national ranks on the light beige uniform of the frontovikis. Driven by enthusiasm, we were improving every day. And so much the better - because according to our leaders, we were probably going to have the honor of proving our worth."
(Farewell my country ... again, Vasil Gravil, Gallimard 1957)

* This presentation is tendentious, to say the least - comrade Russesco had surely benefited much more from a certain deficit of supervision in the Vladimirescu, favoring certain rapid promotions.
** He is therefore probably a political exile.
*** This was the name of the Romanian volunteers commanded by Tudor Vladimirescu in the Russian army during the war against the Turks between 1806 and 1812. It's all about symbols!
**** One machine gun company and one company of 82 mm mortars per battalion. In addition, each regiment also found independent companies within each regiment: one of anti-tank rifles (36 pieces), one of 120 mm mortars (6 pieces), one of anti-tank guns (6 x 45 mm) and one of field guns (6 x 76.2 mm). Let us add a divisional artillery regiment (24 x 76.2 mm and 12 x 122 mm): the Pandoures' division had indeed a respectable firepower.
09/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
September 9th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

In the south of the front, the 5th British ID finally reaches the Salween delta after having finally occupied the Thaton heights by taking advantage of the Japanese withdrawal. A few kilometers further on, Moulmein is visible but still inaccessible. On the left bank of the river, the fighting continues: clashes, artillery duels, but their intensity has greatly diminished.
In the air, the Japanese suffer more and more from the quantitative and often qualitative superiority of the allied equipment. Patrols of Spitfires, P-40s and Hurricane ensure control of the skies all along the front, despite the efforts of the Japanese fighters based in Thailand. Often inexperienced, the Japanese pilots lose five aircraft to the Allies' two.
All along the front, the Japanese divisions withdraw in good order while the Allies advance, encountering no opposition except from a few delaying elements, and the terrain, which is as difficult as ever. On the Salween, bridge-builder sections launch new heavy bridges to support the reconquest.
On the northeastern fringe, on the Thai side of the border, the 3rd West African Brigade continues its advance southward, held back only by elements of the 2nd Thai Division supported by local militia. The RTAF attempts to support the Thai troops, but the American fighters are on guard and the P-40s of the 90th FS shoot down two Ki-27s without loss.

Operation Tigertooth
In the early morning, the C column disengages in front of the more and more numerous and aggressive Thai troops. It is its turn to take the lead of the 77th Indian Brigade and to reach the northern shore of the lake, in front of the W column, twenty kilometers before reaching the Three Pagodas Pass and the paratroopers defending it.
To the south, a whole regiment of the Thai army finally regroups and begins to follow the road northward in the footsteps of Column C. The men note the damage inflicted on the new railroad, the road and the telephone lines. At the end of the day, they arrive at the outskirts of Tha Kha-nun. Just when they thought the small town had been abandoned by the enemy, all hell breaks loose: column A had had plenty of time to prepare a big ambush. At the end of the day, the Thais withdraw with heavy losses as the P-38s of the 449th and 459th FS had intervened on several occasions. However, the Thais, apparently stimulated to fight on their national territory, inflict serious casualties on their opponents - among the dead, Lt. Col. Alexander himself, shot by a sniper.
To the north, a battalion of the 71st Japanese Division attempts to regain control of the Three Pagodas Pass, but it has to cross the River Kwai by force.
The affair seems feasible, because the waters are very low in this season, but it is a butchery! The Gurkhas of the 152nd Battalion are solidly entrenched on the other bank, reinforced by the least exhausted prisoners. Out of three companies, only two manage to get a foothold on the other bank, but it is to receive a charge of an extreme violence - to the cry "Aïo Gurkhas!", the parachutists throw themselves on the enemy brandishing their kukris. No quarter is given, nor is any quarter asked, on either side! The matter is settled in a few dozen minutes: the Japanese retreat, having lost half of their forces.

Bangkok, 12:00 - It is a radiant sky that welcomes a new wave of planes with blue and white insignia approaching at 20,000 feet, while Thai and Japanese fighters, warned by observation posts set up in the north of the country, climb as fast as they can. The RTAF launches its last ten or twelve Ki-43 in flying condition - all that remains despite the desperate efforts of the mechanics. The Allies (informed of the arrival of Japanese aircraft in the area) put as many as twenty Chinese B-17s and twenty-four American B-24s, escorted by twenty-eight P-51s in all - eight Belgian, eight French and twelve Americans.
The aircraft decorated with the Hinomaru are the first to attack: seven Ki-45 Toryu and nine A6M3 Reisen, but due to the traditional antagonism between the Army and the Navy, these aircraft attack without coordination (neither of them considered it useful to consult with the Thais). The pilots of the Rising Sun are aggressive and courageous, but they lack experienced leaders to channel the enthusiasm of the younger pilots, who are in the majority. Gifted pilots like Junichi Sasai (killed at Guadacalnal) or charismatic leaders like Tateo Kato (shot down over Burma at the end of the allied air attrition campaign of the previous April) are cruelly lacking in front of the allied pilots, much more experienced or at least better trained...
The Zeros are immediately hooked by part of the escort. The formidable maneuverability of the Mitsubishi is now well known in the opposite camp and no one lets themselves be caught up in this maneuver: the Mustangs run into their opponents and then go back up in a candle after a shooting pass. Three A6M3 are shot down, because if the Zeros are still as maneuverable, they are still as vulnerable. Only a Japanese veteran, ittōheisō (first master) Sadaaki Akamatsu, knows how to employ the vertical yo-yo technique in the manner of the Allied pilots. Not only does his skill prevent him from ending up like his unfortunate young comrades, but he is able to damage a Mustang (which had to land at Tuan Giao, near Dien-Bien-Phu) before damaging a Liberator; moreover, his two wingmen came back alive, having scrupulously followed their leader's instructions.
On their side, the Ki-45 "Nick" manage to shoot down two Chinese B-17 and to damage a third one with their 37 mm cannon before eight P-51s catch them. In a few seconds, two twin-engine planes go down in flames and the others are forced to flee. Three bombers are forced to make an emergency landing at Dien-Bien-Phu.
Taking advantage of the confusion, the Thai Ki-43s, the last to arrive, manage to shoot down the two damaged four-engine planes. Unfortunately for them, they then attack the main part of the bombers, whose gunners saturate the area with lead, eliminating two "Oscars". The others are chased by the P-51s, which shoot down two of them at the cost of one of their own.
A few minutes later, the bombs rain down on the city again despite the efforts of the flak. Once again, the explosions devastated buildings, sometimes reigniting fires that had been smoldering for several days...
The inhabitants are furious. In spite of their nice words, the Japanese were unable to defend them effectively, not to mention the Prime Minister... The fact that German cities are routinely visited by fleets of bombers ten times their size is no consolation to the Thais. All the more so as at night the sirens sound again!
After a few days of conditioning, the Halifaxes of Sqn 624 return.
Only fifteen aircraft, accompanied by a dozen Wellingtons, but it's too much for the nerves of the population.

Thailand... rebalances itself
- "Filled with concern at the news of the Buddhist Patriarch's visions, Prime Minister and Field Marshal Phibun ordered numerous administrative checks and in particular a complete re-examination of the diplomatic documents of the country since the installation of his government. This is how he discovered, to his horror, that the exchanges with the Western governments had been parasitized for years by the fault of a Thai-English translator, the third class civil servant Khun Somechai na Ayhutta, a person of very low nobility from the south of the country (from Phuket to be exact). It appeared that this individual of Muslim confession was a member of a secret organization aiming at dismembering the Kingdom and which dared to call itself "Patani Liberation Front". By systematically distorting the official Thai texts on the one hand, English and American on the other hand, it had underhandedly sought to set the Kingdom against its secular Western friends in order to benefit from the disorders caused by a war to obtain by seditious maneuvers to obtain the independence of the south of the country!
Dismayed by this communication problem, for which he was not at all responsible, the Prime Minister immediately took measures to punish the person responsible and his accomplices, and then to restore the Kingdom's normal relations with all foreign countries. To this end, he arranged a meeting for the next morning, October 10th, with the American chargé d'affaires and requested an audience to my lord the Regent, who was kind enough to grant him this meeting in the afternoon of the 10th...
It is at least thus that the official historiography of the Kingdom of Thailand evokes this particularly painful day, without any doubt, for the Prime Minister..." (Pascal N'guyen-Minh, War and Peace in Southeast Asia).

Indochina Campaign
Dien-Bien-Phu, 07:30
- On the occasion of a convoy of supplies provided by Belgian Lodestars, Colonel Leboutte, who commands the Belgian Military Aviation in Burma, comes to discuss the missions to be carried out in common with his French and American counterparts.
Colonels Devèze and Scott, who had come to welcome him, seem tired, even depressed.
The source of their concern is the events in Hanoi, which forced the Epervier base to drastically reduce or even interrupt air support to units fighting in Laos in order not to let the Hanoi rebels be massacred without doing anything. However, given the reports sent by the Lao-Issak and the Thai opposition assaulting Vientiane without air support would be costly... at best. However, it is politically and humanely impossible to remain deaf to the suffering of the people of Hanoi. All the air forces available at Dien-Bien-Phu are mobilized over Tonkin, even if there was little hope of seeing the bombings or the few parachute drops of weapons change the course of the conflict.
* Air forces based at Epervier on October 9th 1943:
- GC I/40 and III/40,
- GB I/62 and III/62,
- GB Louvre*,
- 76th FS,
- A detachment of the Air Transport Command.
* Forces stationed at Myitkyina for repairs and re-equipment:
- GC II/40,
- GB II/62.
* Forces stationed in China, participating in operations in Indochina (and for the time being engaged against Thailand, as well as a squadron of the GC III/40):
- 74th and 75th FS
- 308th BG
- a group of B-17s from the ROCAF.
This system ensures a regular rotation of units, which allows to spare men and machines, but also avoids overloading the runways. Currently, the
cannot accommodate more aircraft, despite the relentless efforts of the Franco-Vietnamese engineers and the
and the reopening of Tuan Giao for emergency cases.
The Belgian officer quickly proposed to use the units of the Force Publique based in China and Burma for punctual support missions. The Lodestars of the 344 Squadron are not already dedicated, for the most part, to the supply of the base and the units in Laos? However, it is necessary to obtain the authorization of Group Captain Manning. Being under British command until December 31st, the Belgian squadrons are under the command of the 221st Group of the RAF. Before leaving, Leboutte tries to pass on his optimism to his allies: the operations in progress against Thailand seem to be bearing fruit.

A few kilometers east of Ha-Dong, on the Haiphong-Hanoi road, 08:30 - Elements of the Haiphong garrison advance toward the capital. The Vietnamese cannot afford to lose the road that supplies the insurgent districts. The Nipponese soldiers advance in a fan-like pattern, widely dispersed, because they have learned the hard way that infantrymen are vulnerable to air attack. They are preceded by a few armored vehicles, tanks and tankettes, whose clumsy silhouettes walk between the rice fields.
It is the 57 mm guns of the Type 89 I-Go that start the fight with a limited artillery preparation, covering the advance of the mortar teams. The retaliation of a few Viet snipers kills a dozen men, but already the Japanese machine guns sweep the roadside. The mortars of both sides fire and geysers of mud appear in the rice fields that the infantry tries to cross. The Japanese tanks, although very poor, are the main advantage of the attackers, because they do not face any opposition equipped with effective anti-tank weapons. So they advance without too much trouble, stopping only to shoot at the cover from which the "rebels" were firing.
At the end of the morning, as expected by the Japanese, the clouds let allied planes pass by, P-40s that had come to support the Viets. Anti-aircraft machine guns constitute all the Japanese flak, but they are more numerous than usual, and most importantly, the Nipponese have planned for air cover. On a radio call from the officer leading the assault, a dozen Japanese fighters intervene. It is a real air ambush and the Japanese were more numerous. After a quarter of an hour of fierce fighting, five Warhawks were shot down against only three of their opponents - mostly Ki-43s.
The Japanese infantry has not slowed their advance and are pouring bayonets into the Vietminh lines. The engagement quickly turns in favor of the Japanese: better trained and better armed, they easily take the advantage over the poorly fed Vietnamese.

Dien-Bien-Phu, 11:30 - Colonel Leboutte is not the only traveler to have invited himself to Dien-Bien-Phu aboard a cargo plane. Major Hasting is a British quartermaster officer, stationed at the famous Dum-Dum arsenal in India. He did not come to meet his French counterparts, but a civilian, who is not, by the way, French, well officially yes, but... Hô Chi-Minh, although used to the most unusual events since the beginning of the war, is a little surprised to see unloading in his straw hut this so british officer from the impeccable uniform to the tip of his stick.
After the introductions, Hasting explains the reasons for his presence. The news of the Hanoi's revolt has already spread around the world. The New York Times published an article by Robin Meyrson drawing a parallel with the siege of Saigon. As a result, some high-ranked people noticed that the Vietnamese are asking for help in supplying the thousands of Japanese guns seized intact, but without ammunition.
The United Kingdom had machine tools that could be used to machine the 6.5 x 50 mm SR cartridge used by the Arisaka Model 38. As the Vietminh chairman president was surprised, the major smiles: "It is the irony of history, Mister Ho. As you know, Japan was on our side during the Other War. At that time, the Japanese offered guns and ammunition to His Majesty's government. We later turned the guns over to the Russians, but the ammunition-making equipment remained in England, forgotten by all but a few quartermaster officials. As I speak, the machines are already in boxes and ready to leave for India. You will soon receive the ammunition you need."

On the outskirts of Ha-Dong (Tonkin), 16:00 - Contacted by radio, five Ki-51 "Sonia" come to support their ground troops. The single-engine aircraft treat the area with anti-personnel bombs, then spray the suspect areas with 12.7 mm. They stay only ten minutes, not wishing to be involved in an air combat. Alas for them, a few kilometers from the Gia Lam airfield, they are hit by four P-51.
Positioned in cover, three Ki-43 "Oscar" of protection intervene. Taking advantage of their altitude, they shoot down a Mustang on the first pass. However, the allied pilots quickly take advantage of the low altitude qualities of the North American pure-bred to eliminate a fighter and a bomber. All slightly damaged, they break off the fight first. One of the aircraft has to land at Tuan Giao, whose usefulness as an emergency runway is once again demonstrated.

On the Mekong River, in Laos, around 15:30 - The Japanese flotilla approaches Pakhin Boun, at the confluence of the Mekong and its tributary the Nan-In-Boun. Since the beginning of the century, Pakhin Boun has been an important refueling point for ships traveling on the muddy river. It even has a telegraph station. In fact, Pakhin Boun should have been reached the day before, but the ships were dragging slower than expected.
However, Major Tomiya is quite satisfied. So far, the enemy had not attacked. Only once did he see a few silhouettes in uniform appear for a moment, who hurried to take cover among the trees. In this country where everyone lives naked, they could only be rebels or, worse, Colonialists - that is, the French! Since then, the Japanese officer has not let go of the eastern bank of his binoculars. He was the first to see the flag flying at the top of a mast overlooking the landing stage. The colors are those of the Lao-Issarak, allies of the Vietminh.
- To battle stations! Ready to open fire!
The order comes not a moment too late. Already sprays of water rise into the sky.
Mortars! Fortunately, the Issaras, or whoever they are, aim like idiots. The small city being still distant of more than 2 000 meters, they have excuses.
On the other hand, only the three Type 11 37 mm cannons on board the self-propelled barge serving as flagship can retaliate**. We have to get closer before before a lucky shot damages a ship.
When the convoy arrived at less than 1,800 meters from the town, the Japanese mortars start to fire. But at that moment, a well placed shell capsizes a Japanese boat, raising a geyser of water, mud and debris. The Mekong River turns red around the sinking boat. In the water, some survivors try to swim to shore or to another boat.
In Tomiya's binoculars, armed Lao-Issara emerge from the huts at the water's edge. They flee! Furious, the major points them out to his gunmen, but the cowards escape. The enemy fire ceases soon after. When the sampans drop the furious Japanese on the shore, they find only a few dead and seriously wounded. The able-bodied rebels withdrew, taking their artillery pieces with them.

Sino-Japanese War
Operation Zhulin
- Sixteen B-24 of the USAAF escorted by 12 P-51 bombed Nanchang, while 21 P-38 of the ROCAF strafe and bomb the Japanese forces being deployed west of the city to counter the Chinese offensive. The Japanese, who are in the process of moving a dozen Ha-Go tanks to the front, lose four of them under the P-38 attacks.
The 22nd Division, having just landed at Huanggang, is immediately sent north to support the 3rd Division, which is under heavy attack by the Chinese, and whose commander, Lieutenant-General Mitsuo Yamamoto, was killed in the morning by a lucky shell, causing a dangerous flutter among his subordinates. Lieutenant-General Saburo Isoda arrives at the right moment to restore the situation.

Bengbu (Anhui) - The 17th Division's artillery deployment does not immediately allow the Japanese to regain the advantage because of the confusion, but in the afternoon, a tactical withdrawal allows for the shelling of Chinese positions. Nailed down for several hours, Peng's forces take advantage of nightfall to withdraw to the southwest, while delaying elements carry out harassment raids on the Japanese logistic train.

* This name is all the more unofficial as these aircraft are still administratively attached to the Army...
** The Laotians used the same mortars as those used by the Japanese fleet, Type 99 of 81mm. Only, the rebels used American shells, with more powerful propellant charges, which gave them a slightly longer range.
Sunflower source" (the origin of this code name has not been elucidated)

No général Trifon(ov) Tournesol (sunflower in french) from Tintin were harmed in this joke.
09/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 9th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev-TBT
Maskirovka and shivering
Sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front
- Relative calm on the front. Except for some line corrections, nothing to report - even artillery bombardments are spaced, that is to say!
However, the absence of firefights does not mean the absence of operations: everywhere on the perimeter of the former Geländer des Todes, frontovikis and sappers build dozens of wooden shelters at full speed, obviously to defend and overwinter. Further back, in the forests west of Slavuta and Iziaslav, the woods are buzzing with activity. A lot of trunks are cut down to make curious massive rectangles carrying a semblance of a cannon, quickly covered with a net as if they were afraid that the air force would bomb them... Another astonishing prescription: the rare (real) machines authorized to circulate by day all go towards Iziaslav, i.e. in a northeastern direction, as if they were heading for Rovne or Sarny.
And the ground is not the only place where noise is made: the Red Army multiplies the emissions, coded or not, in order to occupy the airwaves. Curious, when we know that the political and counter-espionage services impose an absolute radio silence to all the formations on the move, as well as a censorship of all the mail - which will be distributed... when it will be, one thing at a time, Comrade!
What exactly is the meaning of this activity? The tanker or the Soviet infantryman does not know - but as usual, the troop obeys by rolling its cigarettes of makhorka* and drinking their ration of product n°61...
However, it would be an overstatement to claim that these preparations are taking place in a joyful and good mood, as the NKVD often tries to make it appear. On the side of the 5th Guards Army, which gave a lot in vain - the fault of its leader, Remezov - the bitterness is immense. Unlike the resentments cultivated in the 37th Army, it is not frustration over a supposedly confiscated success. No, here, the tactical errors of a few and the inability of the command to take into account certain realities on the ground.
Of course, as is often the case, those who are the loudest are those who consider themselves to be the most valiant in battle. Thus, General Gleb Baklanov - who has just taken over the 13th Guards Rifle Division**, in the lead until the final actions - declares without hesitation to Vassili Grossmann: "Our weak points appear in the offensive. The reinforcement units are mechanically withdrawn and assigned elsewhere, so that they do not have time to get used to it. Some regimental commanders do not know the calibers and ranges of their artillery. They don't know the required amount of mines for a kilometer, nor the amount of barbed wire, they don't know the amount of fire needed to crush the opponent's defense points. They say to their gunners, "Why don't you fire a little bit over there..." and they make a simple hand gesture. And they sometimes make inaccurate battle reports. I usually go out two hours before the attack, check on liaison, check on battalions, check on scouts, while the regimental commander goes to his command post ten minutes before the battle and reports to me, "Everything is ready, I know everything." The danger is great of presumption and excessive pride.
Many leaders do not care about the soldier's diet and daily life. They do not pay any attention to the inner life of the soldier. They can be very severe, but during breaks, they will not go to the men, they will not talk to them, they will not ask them any questions. This often comes from their youth. It happens that a chief is in charge of men whose sons are older than he is. The motto "Forward at all costs!" is the result of either stupidity or fear of looking weak in front of older soldiers.
This is what causes so much blood to be shed
This acidic criticism of the regime's strategy, if not of the regime itself - with a confounding sincerity - is accompanied by a dig at the repeated mention of "German pillboxes" in the communiqués of the Sovinformburo talking about the heroic Soviet assaults, while the Heer only has trenches here.
Obviously, the Red Army - now instructed by the terrible days of 1942 (even of 1940, for those who knew the Winter War!) - has more and more difficulty to support without saying anything the heavy tutelage of a political system to which it obeys, but which also pretends to teach it how to wage war, while stiffening a little more with each victory.
It is impossible for the Army to pretend to solve all its problems under these conditions.
However, it will have to deal with them.
Sector of the 2nd Ukrainian Front - On the German side, the Armee-Abteilung provided by the 8. Armee and composed of the 132. ID and the GrossDeutschland arrives at Vovkovyntsi. Walter Hörnlein obviously commands it, just as he claims to be in charge of the 4th and 7th Hungarian Corps - that is, almost all that remains of the 2. PanzerArmee that is not yet encircled. Obviously, this makes some people cringe, especially Major-General József Heszlényi - who, however, knew the terrain much better than his new colleague and has some suggestions that are immediately rejected. It takes von Arnim's personal visit to calm things down... But, let it be said, the GrossDeutschland obeys only the Germans.
Basically, beyond these misunderstandings, the commander of the GrossDeutschland is hardly worried: the 59th Army's defenses at Vasyutyntsi seem imposing, but he has seen worse in front of Kiev. The contribution of Paul Hausser's SS is decisive. With them, then in coordination with the Armee-Abteilung provided by the 17. Armee - which will attack from the south Mykhailivtsi - he plans to carry out a double pincer maneuver directed towards Jmerynka. The Reds will inevitably be overtaken and will have to withdraw or be themselves on the banks of the Kessel and then annihilated.
Hörnlein is not completely wrong: the 2nd Ukrainian Front probably does not have the means to resist such an attack. But in order to launch this attack, the II. SS-PanzerKorps and AA Kissel must arrive as planned. The former still needs two days, two nights, rather, to avoid the bombardments. As for the second, it would be towards Chernivtsi, on the rear of the III. Luftwaffen-Feld-Korps (Job Odebrecht). He still has more than 100 kilometers to go - but he also passed from a territory considered friendly to an area where the groups of comrade Kovpak are having a great time and are already trying to sabotage his transit. It is curious that the Partisans were so quickly informed of his arrival - obviously, the Romanian ally has some dissidents to control...
Bar pocket - First attempt to deliver on the ground south of Stepanky - despite a still gloomy weather, but which could not be used this time as an alibi for the airmen. To complete the day's airdrops (which brought only 61 tons to the besieged), twenty Junkers 52 leave shortly before sunset in the direction of the runway, despite the fear of an interception (because the three-engine planes were not escorted - how would the fighters find their bases in the night ?). The transports plan to arrive at 18:30 (just before dark) and are supposed to be unloaded in the night under the trees and then leave the next morning at 07:30, at the first rays of the sun.
Alas, this beautiful plan - which would have almost doubled the volume delivered - comes up against two opponents. The first is the elements. Eight Ju 52s turn back because of wind, rain (it is still raining at the Romanian-Soviet border) or various breakdowns. One arrives but does not find the field and turns back. And of the 11 remaining ones, one breaks its gear on landing because of a poorly prepared ground.
The ten transports that actually arrive are hurriedly driven under the cover of the trees to unload them. Afterwards, one will consider bringing on board the non-essential personnel: the famous Wehrmachthelferin, some administratives who are well placed (or whose friends are well placed!), seriously wounded and the accompanying medical personnel. Alas for the Germans, these hopes will run up against the second obstacle: a storm, but of fire. The Soviets make shells rain on the ground all night long, to the great despair of the besieged, who do not have enough ammunition to make a systematic counter-battery. The Russians' stratagem is clear: let the planes land (what difference will they make, in the long run?) then prevent them from leaving, to provoke a complete collapse of hope in Kessel.
In fact, looking at the runway ploughed by the impacts, the airmen are not sure to be able to take off tomorrow - at least not first thing in the morning. And before midnight, faced with the certainty of shortage, the German command gives the order to shoot the horses - which leads ipso facto the immobilization of all the heavy equipment of the IV. AK and XLIX. AK, including its artillery. No matter what happens from now on: the German forces in the pocket are condemned to suffer without being able to maneuver.

* A kind of black tobacco as strong as mediocre, which has for main property to grow very easily in the Russian and Ukrainian soils. Peasants sometimes use it as a pesticide in their dacha (which gives an indication of its quality). As for cigarette paper, we fall back on newsprint, available in relative abundance - that of the Krasnaya Zvesda is particularly sought after, as it is thinner (it must be said that it is the official magazine of the Red Army!).
** Replacing Alexander Rodmistev, promoted to the head of the 32nd Guards Corps.
09/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 9th, 1943

Italian Campaign
- The last elements of the 1st Armored Division embark for France. The Old Ironsides is at 90-95% of its theoretical strength and many of its secondary equipment (notably half-tracks) have been repaired rather than replaced.

Rome-Fiumicino - The atmosphere is festive at the airport of the Italian capital. Indeed, not far from the four-engine aircraft of the 15th Air Force and the American transport planes, aircraft and crews of the new 4° and 5° Stormo are lined up for their first parade. After several months of negotiations and training, these two groups of the Italian Air Force are declared operational, in the presence of the King and an array of generals of all nationalities. However, not everything is rosy, despite the good mood of the Italian airmen.
The 4th Stormo recovers P-39s, mostly Belgian (and some American). New or overhauled, they are now second-rate fighters, but we are content with them, thinking that the vocation of this group will be mainly (and finally) to provide ground support for the troops of the future Italian mountain corps.
For the 5th Stormo, the situation is more difficult. The British, who had promised Spitfire Vs, were not able to honor their commitments. The aircraft in question went to the South Africans and the Italians had to be content with recovering and refurbishing their Macchi 202s. The British then offered depleted Hurricanes which were declined; they finally promised to deliver Spitfires... later.
If the Cobra's livery is a classic plain American olive green, the MC. 202 have kept their camouflage in green "smoke rings" on a beige background. As for the nationality insignia, green-white-red roundels, they were taken from those of the previous war.
A few hours after the ceremony, aircraft, pilots and mechanics will leave for the airfield of San Rocco, southwest of Siena.

Greece and Balkans Campaign
Quick return home - and slow liberation
Thrace (occupied zone)
- The 2nd Bulgarian Army continues its retreat in the plain, stopping temporarily on a Drama - Kavala line. The latter is once again supported by the rocky barriers of the region. The Bulgarians thus retreated 100 kilometers in 10 days.
Wishing to ensure the definitive closure of the Koprivlen Pass road, Hristov detaches a unit towards Prosotsáni, in the northwest. It is obviously the lively 16th Division, who the major-general is delighted to have the opportunity to get rid of. The White Sea Division moves slowly north, covering several columns of refugees who were dragging themselves along the roads.
On the Bulgarian rear, Beckerle's Einsatzgruppen continue their sinister work, shooting in turn the unfortunate people who fall into their clutches. Having no control over their actions, Hristov is reduced to telling them that the pace of the retreats will accelerate - a way of inviting them to hurry up, not to kill faster!
Thrace (liberated area) - If events are accelerating in the east of the region, it is not the same in the west. Indeed, the men of the XIIIth Corps follow the Bulgarian divisions with slowness, without any attempt to catch up with them and maintaining a safe distance of up to ten kilometers. The liberation thus almost takes on the appearance of a peaceful transition.

Preliminary movements
- The men of the 1st Yugoslavian AC breaks camp, relinquishing their positions to the Australians and New Zealanders. Trucks and tanks move down southwards with enthusiasm - to all, it seems obvious that there will be action at last!
Albania and Macedonia - At the express request of the 18th AAG staff, the deliveries of arms to the various Albanian and Macedonian partisan movements have resumed. All this under the strict control of the S.O.E., which plans to deploy a large number of liaison officers in the field in order to transmit instructions from HQ... and to ensure their execution.
Moreover, and this was made clear to the officials concerned, in Albania as in Yugoslavia, it is that the importance and frequency of deliveries will be directly correlated to the listening skills of the allied envoys - and of course to their security. Only Josip Broz's powerful movement escapes these restrictions. As a reward for his understanding, the parachute drops never stopped in his sector.

Macedonian Gambit
- "Prime Minister calling, Sir". Once again, Winston Churchill personally calls Montgomery to deal with his pet issue, the "soft underbelly of Europe" - this assignment is becoming impossible, the general thinks, while the switchboard operators do their job. Finally, for once, this exchange could lead to something...
After the usual courtesies, the bulldog bites again - but not too hard, the heated conversation of September 17th has left its mark. Today, Churchill is just looking for a response to the Greek government's note about the supposed passivity of the British in Thrace. Montgomery is at liberty to reply that he had studied the Greek observations with the utmost attention and that their own troops would soon settle the matter. Winston is very pleased - but for the moment, what is going on?
- The Bulgarian withdrawal movement is accelerating, Prime Minister. We are following it calmly and methodically, without exposing ourselves and without confronting their troops. In any case, their troops are certainly not strong enough.
It does not take more than that for Churchill to come back to the charge, dropping one of those lines of which he has the secret:
"That's all very well, Monty, but rather than shadowing them, couldn't we have rallied them?"
This was the opportunity the general had been waiting for. Falsely annoyed, he replied: "Surely you remember that we have already talked about this, Prime Minister. Unfortunately, we have to admit that as far as our supplies are concerned, the situation has not improved much since... recently. Of course, we now have the port of Salonika, which will soon be operational again. But I don't know if that will change much." After a slight sigh, Montgomery launches his line: "In any case, I intend to start a movement towards Serbia again soon, but in view of my stocks, I shall not go very far."
Churchill lets out a wisp of interest that crossed the handset: "Really? What is your plan? How far can we expect to go?"
- We can certainly seize Skopje, with a good chunk of Macedonia to boot. Not very spectacular, I'm afraid. The Yugoslavs might not like it, already that our Greek friends grumble when our boys don't go fast enough in Thrace. Finally, I said in Salonika on September 25th that the British Empire supports and protects its allies! We must prove it to them, or at least try, even without hope!
- You are right, Monty. Don't worry: Yugoslavia is not Bulgaria, and I don't intend to leave this country to the Soviets without reacting. The problem is...

From his office in Athens, Montgomery hears the creak of leather and wood as Churchill falls back heavily in his chair.
- The trouble is, as I told you before, we are virtually alone in this. The French would like to help the Serbs, but for the moment, they are only interested in liberating their territory - and I understand them, of course. As for the Americans, they are convinced that Stalin is a kind of friendly partner. The fools!
- In this case, I have only you to support me, Prime Minister.

The answer comes after a short pause - Montgomery can almost smell the cigar puff responsible for the pause. "I'll do it, Monty. But I must be given some grist for the mill in the House of Commons, the Press and so on... So I need more than Skopje. A Balkan epic, that's what I'd really need!"
Montgomery smiles like the fisherman who feels his line getting taut. "As for an epic, we already have a lot to tell. But I know what you mean. I think I can take the first step, if you'll follow me next. Let's imagine, Prime Minister, that the center of the German system is blown to pieces under an assault in the best British tradition. Our armoured vehicles rush through Macedonia, liberate Skopje and approach Serbia. An immense insurrection ignites the country, which waits for us to triumphantly enter Belgrade. And there, we are forced to stop, for lack of ammunition and of gasoline! In these conditions, will you obtain for me the means which I need?"
A long silence of reflection settles.
- It is not a blackmail, Monty, reassure me?
- Let's say rather a gambit, Prime Minister, like in chess. If this... Macedonian Gambit wins and you give me the means, our armies will be in Hungary before Christmas. And if not, everyone will have done their duty and you will have lost nothing."
- I understand...

The fish is pulling harder and harder on the line. Has he bitten?
09/10/43 - France
October 9th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
- If the first part of the battle of the Alps ended to the satisfaction of the French generals, some historians will not hesitate to speak of a "magnificent missed opportunity"*.
Indeed, the 5th RI and 204th RA, north of Lus la Croix-Haute, had superiority at this point in the battle over the small Gruppo Aosta, which, with a reinforced battalion of alpini and a mountain artillery battalion, had to hold the passage to Grenoble on the old RN75 and the Col de la Ménée**. A final effort towards the north and the commitment of another force, the 4th BMLE for example, would have made it possible to break through the front and reach Grenoble. The controversy is still alive today, since other historians contest this fact, arguing that once the breakthrough was made, there was no large unit available to take advantage of it, all the adapted formations being engaged in Vaucluse and the 5th DB having to arrive only in November.
In any case, General Loustaunau-Lacau redirects the efforts of his group towards the west and the Diois, respecting the plan of the general staff and keeping the contact with his division, but thus missing (perhaps) a great opportunity.

Battle of Montélimar
- The 157. Gebirgs Division is now completely regrouped around Die, between the narrowing of Aix en Diois, the hills of Saint-Benoît en Diois and the Col de la Chaudière. Opposite it is the 10th DI, minus its 5th RI and its 204th RA engaged to the east, but supported by the 4th BMLE. This one, which suffered a lot after having led the assault in difficult terrain during the first days of the operation, is held in reserve.
A little south of the Chaudière Pass, in the Bourdeaux sector, the 7. FJ Rgt is now resisting the assaults of the 6th RTS and 3rd RTM, accompanied by the divisional tank battalion and the 2nd RCA (which the army AC had just committed to the north) and supported by the divisional artillery. The resistance of the 7. Rgt allowed the rest of the 2. FJ Division to regroup around Saou and on the dominant heights.
During this time, the 21st Zouaves clean up the Poët-Laval sector, abandoned by the German paratroopers.
In the sector of La Bégude-Mazenc, the Fallschirmjägers of the 2. Rgt also resist all day against the Rabanit Brigade reinforced by the 4th RSM (released from reserves). There, this resistance allows the retreat in good order of the 37. and 38. SS PzGr Rgt and the 76. PzGr Rgt of the 16. Panzer Division. Placed at Espeluche, this regiment is efficiently supported by its armored regiment against the attacks of the Malaguti Brigade (1st DB) and of the Touzier du Vigier Brigade (3rd DB).
Behind the front line, the 6th RI and 3rd DBCP of the 14th DI finish to secure the hills bordering the cauldron in the vicinity of the gap.

- If the front is calm, a meeting takes place at Pont Saint-Esprit between the officers of the 1st and 45th US-ID and those of the Belgian corps - 1st and 7th Rgt de Chasseurs Ardennais and Tancrémont Armored Brigade. Those in charge of the ground support air formations of the sector are also invited.
were also invited.

The Ethylene fire
Port Saint-Louis du Rhône
- Docked in the Port Saint Louis du Rhône basin, near the lock that connects the river and the basin, the French coastal tanker Ethylene is preparing to depart. Since mid-September, it has been operating in the Gulf of Fos for the benefit of the destroyers and other escort vessels that protect the convoys bringing men and equipment for the battle of Provence.
Its commander obtained a few days of rest, not to give his crew a vacation, but to allow a complete overhaul of the boiler and engine, which needed a thorough maintenance that the "fat plugs" could only do down the lights.
The Ethylene will first cross the Gulf of Fos at Lavera to take on a load of fuel and then resume its role, so obscure but necessary for the benefit of the warships.
As the ship begins to maneuver, a violent explosion occurs a little ahead of the boiler room. The ship breaks in two and sinks instantly, taking with it a dozen men. Witnesses on the quay observed a spray of water as high as the mast: the investigation concluded that a magnetic mine buried in the mud had exploded and had escaped the vigilance of the mine clearing teams in the dock.
In about ten days, the Chantiers et Ateliers de Provence built four refloating floats in their workshops in La Pinède, Marseille. With these machines, the Salvage Service of the US Navy will refloat the Ethylene at the end of the month, cut into three sections. The stern and central parts will be beached on the north side of the port access channel. The front part will be beached about 100 meters southeast of lighthouse***.

* François Casus, La Seconde Bataille des Alpes, doctoral thesis, Université de Montpellier III, pp. 276-279.
** In Italy, the resistance of the small Gruppo Aosta is celebrated among the Alpini once a year in a ceremony (similar to that of Camerone in the Foreign Legion).
*** With a deadweight of 1,200 tons and capable of travelling at 11 knots, the Ethylene was classified as a self-propelled barge of 1,200 tons by the Navy. If the rear and central parts will disappear during the first works of the port of Fos, the front part will only be cut up in 1977, after having allowed generations of inhabitants of Port Saint-Louis to harvest mussels.
10/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 10th, 1943

British Embassy in Cairo
- The peace negotiations - as they may well be called - between the United Nations (represented by the United Kingdom) and the National Democratic Bloc (representing a part of the political forces in Romania) continue in the hushed and so English atmosphere of the Egypt under British control. After all, it is autumn, the weather is good, the Nile is still majestic and the view is decidedly beautiful from the large windows that open up the building.
Sir Miles Lampson and his staff have no trouble conversing civilly with the "White Prince" Alexandru Știrbey, far from the tensions and other uncivilized annoyances that peppered the preparation of the Italian reversal. However, despite the courteous discussions and the multiple tastings of tea (mint tea - a small concession to local habits), circumspection dominates and dissatisfaction lurks on both sides of the table.
From the British point of view, while we are obviously very happy to see Romania come back from its mistakes, there are still many things that need to be clarified.
It is all very well to go knocking on the door of the United Kingdom to ask for a change of alliance, pretending to take advantage of Montgomery's landing in Greece, then his ascent into the Balkans! An arrangement is even almost possible: the situation is no longer the same as during the poor attempt of the Bulgarians - who, in any case, had not deigned to warn them. And besides, Churchill is not going to get angry with Moscow just for Sofia, especially in retrospect... For London, Bucharest is a much bigger piece, indeed worthy of being fought over, or at least shared.
However, a host of questions remain. What is this National Democratic Bloc that the White Prince claims to represent? What are its means? Its perspectives? Its projects? What about the attitude of the Romanian army? What about the possibilities of German retaliation? Certainly, the Bloc already seems to have well placed contacts in the military hierarchy because, in addition to its promises, it came with a plan - and even with demands. A vast bombing campaign on Hungary and Bulgaria (to neutralize Axis movements), increased air support from the very first days of the (new) conflict and the dispatch of at least three divisions (a mechanized army corps!) to go up to Bucharest, passing through Sofia. All this is adventurous, to say the least...
On the Romanian side, things are not much better. One is surprised that we negotiate only with the United Kingdom - while Romania in general, and Barbu Alexandru Știrbey in particular, are great friends of France. We regret the timid attitude of the allied interlocutors, who do not want to commit themselves to anything specific, while Montgomery's tanks are "only" 350 kilometers away from the southern border of the country, and to get there they have to cross a weakened Bulgaria, which is notoriously weakened and notoriously undefended. And finally, we deplore the rigor of the terms presented by Lampson, who refuses to mention the future status of Romania, its independence and its territory - but demands on the other hand that the Red Army can freely cross the lines of the cobelligerent candidates.
Finally, in order to see a little more clearly and (also) to prepare the next actions, the two negotiators agree on the necessity to parachute on the spot an interallied clandestine mission - that is to say, one that would not only involve the SOE, but also the DGSS, and perhaps even the OSS. It will thus be necessary to inform Algiers (well, Marseilles, now) of the talks in progress - this was planned, but not immediately. And this is already a small victory for the Romanian.