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

10/10/43 - Occupied Countries
October 10th, 1943

- For several days, military elements loyal to the National Democratic Bloc (mainly the military governors of Bucharest and Ploiești, spurred on by Constantin Sănătescu) have undertaken with varying degrees of discretion to reinforce the troops under their jurisdictions by massive preventive deployments of territorial guards, marching units and other training regiments, sometimes taken directly from the units being reconstituted, or even already on the line!
Nothing stands in the way of these maneuvers which, on the scale of the conflict, remain anecdotal.
The Romanian army, despite its phenomenal losses, does not really lack arms but especially equipment. Antonescu has other worries. And the Germans are too far away to really have any suspicions. Thus, in the following weeks, the Bloc will succeed in gathering the equivalent of a division to defend Bucharest and Ploiești, at the cost of much effort and as many requisitions. Nevertheless - need we say it - this troop has hardly any equipment and even less cohesion... However, it is her who, in the mind of the insurgents, will have to face the first shock of the German reaction, and to compensate the initial handicap of a Romanian army that will have to maneuver to leave the current front before going to fight to the side of its former adversaries! - 160 kilometers behind its present positions in order to face its new enemy.
10/10/43 - Atlantic
October 10th, 1943

- With the return of the great aircraft carriers Illustrious and Victorious to Trincomalee, accompanied by the Force de Raid, the battleships Nelson and Rodney can finally return to Britain. They will be refitted in preparation for the future Operation Overlord, where their 16-inch guns should work wonders.
In the same way, the presence of the battleships Royal Sovereign and Resolution in the eastern Indian Ocean has become superfluous. The same is true in the Atlantic for the Revenge, which is no longer in danger of encountering German raiders. The Admiralty therefore orders the return to Great Britain of the three old battleships, whose poor condition is becoming more and more obvious.
Indeed, it is felt that a costly refit to participate in the next landing in Northern Europe is not justified. They will therefore be partially disarmed and used for training purposes. Some of their 15-inch guns will provide useful spares for the newer battleships and heavy monitors.
Of the five ships of the Revenge class (the Royal Oak having been sunk), the Ramillies is the only one to remain on the line.
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10/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 10th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

All day long, the 5th British Infantry Division finishes the cleaning operations of the Thaton massif and prepares to cross the Salween. Facing it, the elements of the 71st Japanese Division, which had been concentrated in the previous days, move at night to occupy positions in the Moulmein sector.
Meanwhile, on the left of the 5th British ID, the 14th and 8th Indian Divisions confront the 9th and 12th Japanese Divisions, but they suffer significant losses for a gain of a few kilometers.
Further north, new elements of the 9th Armoured Brigade crosses the Salween during the night, this time on the left wing of the 8th Indian Division. The Wiltshire Yeomanry and the Warwickshire Yeomanry would support an offensive of the 19th Indian Division at the junction of the 12th and 55th Japanese Divisions. The attack is successful and allows the creation of a bridgehead downstream from Kyondoe.
Finally, in the extreme north of the front, the 3rd West African Brigade reached a point about 20 kilometers north of Mae Sot and Myawaddy, the two border towns on the last road through which Japanese supplies from Thailand pass.

Operation Tigertooth
The day passes without any notable problems for the 77th Brigade. In the south, the Thais were very impressed by their losses of the day before, which the P-38s patrolling all day remind them painfully. They are content to occupy Tha Kha-nun, which the Thai officer commanding the sector reports to Bangkok as a great victory for his troops. In fact, Column A, as expected, simply withdrew and returned to the front of the force. At the end of the evening, it is the column that will make the junction with the Gurkha parachutists at the Three Pagodas Pass.
Lt. General Yoshio Kozuki, who commands the 71st Japanese Division, has decided to send an additional battalion to this sector. This battalion is to join the troops that had been badly beaten the day before on the River Kwai and to set up a
This battalion was to join the troops that had been badly beaten the day before on the River Kwai and to settle down in a plug while waiting for reinforcements - but the general staff's instructions were to keep a minimum of troops on the coast. The general thinks back to these British elements that had arrived at the beginning of the month by glider, who had crossed the border and had at first literally vanished. Forced by his orders to face the possibility of a landing, he did not pursue them... The general knows very well that he had not really committed a fault, but he also knew that he had lost his honor and that he does not have the means to regain it.

Thailand... rebalances itself
Bangkok, 10:00
- Prime Minister Phibun receives the chargé d'affaires of the United States. Washington has indeed kept an embassy in Bangkok, because the Americans are not officially at war with Thailand! Their B-24 are content (in theory...), to bomb Japanese troops on the Thai territory. Moreover, the Thai government has always considered officially that those were not American B-24s, but French planes, or maybe Chinese... Phibun expresses to the American representative the "regrets" of Thailand for the "misunderstandings" that may have "altered its relations" with the United States and its allies.
Although, it is obvious, he had nothing to do with it personally, he does not hesitate to assume responsibility for this "appalling incident".
Having been posted in Asia for many years, his interlocutor manages not to fall out of his chair in surprise. He simply nods approvingly and thanks Phibun for having "finally managed to dispel a painful and mutual misunderstanding". After some comforting words of circumstance, he rushes to the embassy to send a long encrypted message to Washington as a matter of urgency.

15:00 - Having thus clarified the position of Thailand with the American chargé d'affaires, Phibun goes again to the Royal Palace and presents to His Excellency the Regent his excuses and his resignation. In fact, the historiography of the Kingdom will explain in substance, "although he had no responsibility in the triggering of the problems of international relations which had lasted for two years, the error of one of his subordinates made it too difficult for him to continue his mission as Prime Minister".
The dreamlike visions of the Patriarch, as it were, expressed the profound truth; it was appropriate to deduce from them the way forward. That is why Phibun gives up the place "of his own free will, for the greater good of the kingdom". He even suggests respectfully, to replace him, a minister, member of the royal family (it is one of the fifty-four children of Rama V): Paribatra Sukhumbhand, prince of Nakhon Sawan.

Indochina Campaign
Hanoi, 01:00
- Low-powered explosions disturb the surface of the Great Lake. Then a much more powerful explosion followed by the crackling of a fire shakes the staff of the hydrobase from their sleep. The spotlights search the darkness, but the undesirables have already left.
Two trucks are still burning and the walls of the Cercle Nautique are studded with splinters, but there are only a few injured. The GB "Louvre" just reminds the Japanese sailors that the game of night harassment could be played by two.

Dien-Bien-Phu, 07:00 - An eagerly awaited message seems to give some color to Devèze and Scott. Colonel Leboutte tells them that, if 340 Squadron was to provide escort for the Lodestars and cover the Belgian base in Chinese territory, if the 342 is being re-equipped, the British agree to authorize 341 and 343 Squadrons, based in China and respectively equipped with Mustang I and Mitchell, to launch missions in support of allied troops
troops engaged in Laos. In case of necessity, the British and Chinese forces will keep priority in the assignment of missions.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the Night Battle of Squadron 345 make them too valuable on the Burmese front (much to Major Greindl's dismay). However, the British offer to participate in the support of the troops engaged in Laos by organizing night raids from Wellington and even from Halifax over Thailand.

On the southern outskirts of Hanoi (Tonkin) - The convoy of vehicles moves forward under the protection of a Type 89B I-Go tank, whose 12 tons vibrate the dike on which the road passes. Below, in the rice field, Japanese soldiers advance in drawer. They are armed with rifles, some Type 96 FMs and Type 89*.
Here and there, the rice fields give way to small villages or groves. In this flat landscape, these are the only places the rebels can occupy with any chance of defending them. Also, the soldiers of the Mikado are not surprised by the shots that trace out trails of impacts in the mud. As the soldiers retreat behind the nearest dike, the tank stops and turns its turret in the direction of the shots. It jerks, a little smoke comes out of the gun and a moment later, the first projectile falls among the trees.
While the Japanese first line opens fire, some soldiers bypass the resistance point to fall back on the sides. Supported by the collective weapons, the infantrymen trot into the forests. A few bursts of fire put men down, but a salvo from the light mortars imposes silence. It is by zigzagging in the mud that the Nipponese continue their advance.
On the dyke, the officers point their binoculars in vain, the undergrowth is too thick. One of them nevertheless holds out his arm to point out an enemy group that is retreating while shooting. Again, the turret of the tank swivels before sending a new shell in their direction. This was too much for the Viets, who run away.
The tank commander, a young lieutenant, pulled a cigarette from the pack he carried in his breast pocket. As he lit it, his eyes were drawn to a stone marker at the side of the road: "Hanoi, 11 km". With a tremor of metal, the tank resumes its road. There is still a long way to go.

On the Mekong River, in Laos, around 09:30 - The day before, the small river convoy of the 56th Division had taken advantage of the unexpected respite offered by low clouds that were added to the fog banks snaking over the Mekong River. The Allied air force does not shown up. In return for this natural protection, the boats have to slow down.
The arrival in Vientiane is postponed.
At dawn on the 10th, with the first rays of the sun, the sky clears up in part.
Bad news...
09:45 - The radio crackles, indicating that enemy planes have hit the column along the eastern bank. On the flagship, Major Tomiya looks at his watch. It is only the beginning of the day, and he and his men are likely to be next.
10:00 - A trio of B-25s covered by four P-51s spots the procession. These aircraft have already attacked the ground column fifteen minutes earlier, in response to the requests of the Franco-Laotian units. Given the situation in Tonkin, this was the only action that the Epervier base could do. While the P-51s remain at altitude, the twin-engine planes dive...
"We were returning from a road interdiction mission to Vientiane. The guys on the ground reported that a group of small boats were heading west on the river, towards Vientiane. As it couldn't have been guys from back home, we had to do something. Obviously, there was not much left in the traps, at best enough to make a pass. We raced in to shake up the Japs while our guardian angels kept their eyes open.
My first 75 shell turned a sampan into a toothpick. I was beginning to know how to handle this thing! My two wingmen shared another boat. The flak was weak, it didn't really bother us, except for a few 7.7 hits that were not serious.
I saw a motorboat of some kind and I approached it to fire my last shells. Once I had the barge in my sights, I pressed the fire button, but all I got was a pitiful popping sound, the 75mm had just jammed!
It was annoying, but I was but I was off and running, so I sprayed the barge with what ammunition I had left in the Browning. I saw several men jump into the water as my bursts sent debris flying in all directions.
Not wanting to take any unnecessary risks in trying to disengage my 75 and seeing that the gas was running low, we headed back. As we had noticed the absence of enemy fighters, the Mustangs made a pass before following us
." (Report of Lieutenant Castillac, GB III/62)
On the river, where the boats have gone astray in all directions, the men are trying to seal the waterways and to put out the fires caused by the allied fire.
13:00 - The convoy resumes its route, not without fear of a new attack. Half an hour later, a lone aircraft is seen flying along the west bank at low altitude. It is quickly identified as a Ki-36 "Ida" of the RTAF, but its lack of response to the radio, as well as its visible refusal to cross the river is worth some invectives, of which "miserable coward" is the most sympathetic.

Nong Khai (Laos), 14:00 - Nine Mitchells of 343 Squadron and twelve Mustang I of 341 arrive at low altitude over the the city, catching the Thais off guard. This is the first offensive action of the Belgians in this theater. The Mitchells fly directly on the airfield. Six of the Mustangs go to chase the boats on the Mekong while the other six kept a watchful eye on the whole area to prevent any action of the RTAF.
The field and its installations are hit again; two Ki-36 "Ida" of cooperation are destroyed on the ground. On the Mekong River, the Mustangs chase the sampans and barges that ensure the supply of the Vientiane garrison. Their fire blows up a stock of 75 mm shells being unloaded, devastating the docks and destroying many supplies, but the last attacker, unbalanced by the blast, hit the river. Four Ki-43 "Oscar" manage to fly away, but one of them is shot down and the other three flee.
Once the allied planes had left, the Thais make a sorry assessment of the damage. The runway is out of order again. Above all, the bombs have destroyed a good part of the premises and the equipment used for maintenance and repairs. On the docks, the concern is just as great. The state of the wharves makes it difficult to ensure the transshipment of equipment to Vientiane. The situation is aggravated by the loss of many boats that are now lying at the bottom of the river with their cargo.
During this time, four of the P-51s on their way back fall on the Mekong convoy assaulted the same morning by the French. Men and boats are again sprayed with 12.7 mm bullets. After a single pass, the aircraft leave.
However, they set fire to another sampan. In total, the losses of the convoy for the day aresevere. On the "flagship", the bullets chopped up the food boxes, but spared the ammunition in the hold.

Hanoi airfield, 17:00 - The pictures reported by the day's reconnaissance do not please anyone at the 3rd Hikodan HQ. Indeed, at least three four-engine aircraft appear to be installed in Tuan Giao parking areas.
In reality, they are three damaged or broken down bombers, landed there in emergency after a raid on Bangkok the day before. But the Japanese officers deduce that the former base of the Japanese Army is now used for the deployment of heavy bombers. Faced with this supposed threat, they decide to react energetically... Or at least, as energetically as possible.

Sino-Japanese War
Operation Zhulin
Wuhan (Hubei)
- It is in Wuchang, a district of Wuhan located on the eastern bank of the Yangtze, that the revolution which had overthrown the last imperial dynasty and established in its place the Republic of China was started, almost by accident, on October 10th, 1911. A mutiny by the local garrison, which was sympathetic to revolutionary ideas, had led to an insurrection in the city before spreading to the whole province and then, in a few weeks, the whole country. The nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek, claiming to descend from this founding event, comparable to July 14th, 1789 in France, the Chinese Resistance in Wuchang decides to take advantage of the insurrectionary situation caused by the blind repression of the Japanese, since about twenty days, to try to provoke a general uprising of the population. For several weeks, weapons parachuted into the surrounding maquis or transported by the underground networks of the Green Band have been gathered in the hideouts of the Partisans throughout the city. The news of the Hanoi uprising only strengthened the conviction of the Chinese Resistance fighters that the time had come to show the Japanese that, already forced to concede control of the countryside to the partisans, they could not hold the cities either.
The signal for the uprising was to be given by the detonation of a high-powered bomb at the gates of the barracks, but the Japanese, made suspicious by the recent upsurge in nationalist attacks, have closed the surrounding streets to traffic, and the team in charge of the operation - all-female to attract less suspicion - is forced to fall back on an alternative target, the post office and telegraph office. By misfortune, while passing in front of the courthouse, the women pulling the heavy cart are stopped by a Japanese patrol. We never know if the soldiers found something fishy in the cart or if they simply wanted to "have fun" with Chinese women, consenting or not, because the fireworks girl of the group decides to set the infernal device on fire in the middle of the street. The patrol, the resistance fighters and dozens of passers-by are killed by the explosion, which also damages the courthouse. The explosion is heard in all Wuchang and as far as Hanyang and Hankou, districts of Wuhan located on the opposite bank of the Yangtze.
Immediately, numerous gunfights break out. Everywhere, Japanese soldiers are targeted by snipers. Very quickly, the exchange of fire is punctuated by grenades and mortar fire. Warned in advance thanks to unofficial contacts between the nationalist intelligence services and organized crime, the secret societies join the fight - their men are not the most poorly armed, having benefited from part of the American manna thanks to the good offices of Dai Li. Spontaneously, some civilians arm themselves with a sword, some with an ancestral guandao from the attic, and take to the streets. Soon, an angry crowd, more or less framed by Resistance fighters and members of the triads, launches out to the attack of the various buildings requisitioned by the Japanese, but these answer with automatic weapons fire that causes hundreds of victims. At nightfall, the eastern and northern districts of the city are still firmly held by the occupiers, while the streets are littered with corpses.
On the other side of the river, the 116th Japanese Division lands during the night. From the Hankou Bund, a reduced version of the Shanghai Bund that runs along the area of the former foreign concessions, the Japanese soldiers can see, from the other side of the river, the fires ignited by the fighting that make the sky glow.

* American soldiers mistakenly call them knee-mortars. Those who tried to shoot with one of these on their thighs have broken their legs.
Thank you Wings for posting this series.

This was a fabulous story effort from the beginning, by Jacques Sapir, Loic M., and all the others of the French team as it grew and grew. An update of my email software also killed my collected address file, and I am sorry that I forget more names of those who started it years ago, posting (when I first saw it) on the "Warships1" forum. But congratulations all on continuing this highly detailed work.

I took an early interest, and edited the rough English translations, re-posting (with permission, and in collaboration with Jacques and I think sometimes Loic) cleaned up versions. My simple website has been gone for many years now, and I am not sure I could even find the files on my hard drive - it would be archaeology for sure! As the project grew and became more complicated, so did my life and the internet archivist role fell by the side.

I can claim to be the one who changed the name in English from France Stays in the War, to France Fights On, a title that I thought would be easier to use. The name has stuck, I am pleased to see.

Having found this comprehensive series, I am reading way back in the first thread, just a few dozen pages in, so I will be struggling to catch up, rather than following this second thread regularly. (I try to keep my pagination and "last read" in order, for convenience.) I don't think I have much to add to discussion in any case.

Again, congratulations and big Thank You to all involved.
VPsoccer / Gary
10/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 10th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev-TBT
Maskirovka and quivering
Sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front
- The lack of activity on the front continues, despite good weather, which causes more than one concern to Soviet officials in charge of redeployment from the Geländer des Todes. The weather has become an obsession for the Red Army - this is unexpected in view of past circumstances, but it would not do to have Rumyantsev's ultimate evolution drowned in the rain and mud... However, a burning sun already hinders the redeployment in progress by preventing the ground from freezing and by facilitating aerial reconnaissance.
The military council of the 1st Ukrainian Front therefore devotes a lot of energy to trying to forecast the evolution of the weather*: with his eyes fixed on the barometer, Konstantin Rokossovsky organizes conferences, calls upon professors in meteorology and receives old peasants of the region, supposed to read the weather in clues known only to them. In vain: the vagueness persists.
For the infantryman, on the other hand, the anguish fades. Landsers and frontovikis, sometimes separated of less than 50 meters (the points of the 5th Guards Army did not withdraw during the stop of operations) are often within range of voice and of course of radio. Banal activities of disruption or psychological warfare, the conversations sometimes drift to more trivial, or even genuine radio friendships punctuated by lines of acidity. Thus, a German will ask: "Rouss**, what did you have for lunch?" and sometimes adds: "I, Rouss, had butter and eggs yesterday, but not today. Today I haven't eaten anything. Rouss, I'm going to get some water, if you ever shoot, shoot in the legs and not in the head. I have small children and a mother." And the lines are, as is often the case, at the expense of a third party: "Rouss, give me your Ousbeks, I'll give you my Romanians."
In any case, while the Wehrmacht keeps its gaze fixed on Bar, the transfers to the Lanivtsi region continue, always at night, over the bridges and ferries of Iziaslav, all of them overloaded.
In the middle of this nocturnal agitation, a well-known silhouette watches the trucks driving all lights off, the columns on the march and the armored vehicles overloaded with infantrymen. Zhukov is there, standing in the cold and wet - he soothes his understandable apprehension by coming to observe the transfers himself. Will the tanks arrive in time? Will the fascists bite? Will they let themselves be led by the nose? Bloody sun - it was already necessary to withdraw the 4th Armored Corps under a screen of smoke... The stocky figure of the Marshal is clearly recognizable, very straight under his high cap and wrapped up in his thick leather coat. His chin raised, his gaze stern, he scans each unit with an eagle eye, on the lookout for the slightest deviation from the current order of silence - from time to time, however, he takes a moment to look at the photograph of his children, thinking about what he is going to write to his wife, Shurik... An exclamation in passing: "Long live Zhukov!" Then a second, finally the whole convoy honors its marshal, despite the risk of sanctions. At the end, to avoid an excessive noise, the frontovikis will be satisfied to greet their commander by raising their helmets - who discreetly return their salute. The popularity of the marshal among the troops has become immense - and as, in Moscow, one is very suspicious of the slightest sign of bonapartism, the incident will be duly reported to whom it may concern...
Sector of the 2nd Ukrainian Front - The detachment of the 8. Armee begins to launch some probes towards Klopotivtsi, Chyroke and Vasyutyntsi. Theoretically, Walther Hörnlein should still wait for the arrival of his friends of the Schutzstaffel and the forces of the 17. Armee to advance. But here it is... with the predictable fiasco of the renewed pressure on the besieged Kessel and the ongoing transfer of the Red forces to this region (their departure in numbers from the north did not totally escape the Germans, they are simply mistaken about their destination), it is necessary to accelerate.
The GrossDeutschland thus engages its reconnaissance regiments and some armored elements on the side of the 132. ID... to see. The action starts well, but it is quickly stopped by Andrei Getman's 16th Armored Corps, which immediately engages its T-34s in support. The Heer does not insist for the moment, but Hörnlein is comforted by what he considers a weak and insufficient reaction. At the level of the Hungarians, however... No wonder they failed. However, to break through, it is necessary to wait for Paul Hausser and his men - and Hans Kissel's men. If the first one seems to make its way without too much difficulties, with a lot of reprisals and other exactions - he should arrive at Vovkovyntsi tomorrow - the second one seems unfortunately delayed by a succession of ambushes or attacks.
The AA Kissel is not motorized like the II. SS-PanzerKorps... However, it has to hurry up, in order to arrive in position at the latest at the same time as its partner coming from the north.
Bar pocket - Indeed, for the 2nd Shock Army (K.N. Galitsky), it is no longer time to dawdle. The encircled Fascists are getting restless, they receive reinforcements - so much for giving them reasons to hurry up.
They are receiving reinforcements - we might as well give them reasons to hurry up and throw themselves on the defenses of comrade Vasily Popov. At worse, they will be kept away from Lanivtsi when the 1st Ukrainian Front will attack...
The Red Army pushes frankly from the east to crush the enemy on the Horyany-Bar-Shypynky line and the day in Kessel is most painful.
It has already started badly ... especially on the ground of Stepanky, subject to an intense artillery bombardment that nailed the ten unfortunate transports to the ground - which become nine because of a lucky shell, which sprayed two of the engines of one of the Junkers 52 with shrapnel. Faced with the morally devastating consequences of a potential failure of the planned evacuation, Rudolf Konrad does not hesitate: he has his artillery fire in counter-battery and demands that the Luftwaffe silence the intruders. After all, it was also a question of the airmen to recover their planes!
A raid of the II/SchG 2 covered by the Fw 190 of the III/JG 54 GrunHertz forces the shootings to be spaced, at the cost of 4 Stukas and 2 fighters against 13 Soviets. Finally, a little before 10:00, the nine three-engined planes take off zigzagging on the broken runway, where only a part of the craters have been filled. Moment of anguish: the shootings start again, and the birds of corrugated iron still have a few hundred meters to go before being in the air, where they will be able to pray for their salvation and the arrival of an escort.
The planes are taxiing, overloaded with terrified passengers and moaning wounded... Tragedy is inevitable: the left wheel of the n°4 at takeoff hits an obstacle, the plane deviates from its trajectory, collapses in an unsealed crater and seems to take its momentum there to come out in a crash of twisted metal - the left wing has touched the ground, it is almost torn off. The big wounded bird rears up desperately before falling back heavily and bursts into flames: there are no survivors.
Behind him, the n°5 swerves to the right, sending him towards the wreckage of the aircraft that had hit his gear the day before. Skillfully using the rudder, the pilot manages to come back on his trajectory...and then hit the right wing of No. 6, which had continued to fly straight, with the tip of his left wing. The two planes seem for a moment to be able to continue their way, the two wings almost entangled, like a couple of lovers arm in arm, before the n° 5 finally decides to give way to allow his colleague to try his chance... A nice and useful gesture: n° 6 can take the air, he will join his base in spite of visible damage. As for the volunteer sacrificed, he will have to try his luck after a U-turn and some repairs - probably the next night, in company of another comrade whose pilot do not want to tempt the devil. Because the devil still lurks: the last one is shot down by the Bolshevik flak. Thus, only five planes - out of the ten that had landed! - will return to the base. And the two remaining on the ground (three with the plane damaged during the night) seem to be stuck there, maybe for a long time. A truly catastrophic affair...
Finally, the Luftwaffe - which, however, usually undergoes the whims of its chief without saying a word - announces before noon to the besieged that, "in view of the circumstances", it would wait for a better situation to attempt other landings... The traditional parachute drops, which only brought in 51 tons today because of the fighting on the ground and the massive presence of the VVS in the region, will continue. The Red Army thus keeps a firm grip on the lid of the cauldron, whose width has already been reduced by a good kilometer in a single day...
10/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 10th, 1943

Italian campaign
Italian front
- General Bastin, of the 4th Belgian ID, observes with binoculars the reliefs north-east of Stia, which are 1,100 meters high. This is the Poggio Mazza - the Hill of the Bats. Since the end of the Allied offensive, the Germans of the 263. ID have settled there, a little too close for their liking. The reports clearly show that this fortified height is used as an artillery observatory, but also that its proximity allows enemy snipers to come and shoot at his men. The morale of the troops in the front line in this sector begins to suffer. It was necessary to negotiate with the staff, but Bastin finally obtained the right to launch an assault against this murderous height.
Given the terrain (and the uselessness of Route 310), it was an infantry attack. In the night, the men of the 1st Brigade infiltrate, benefiting from several days of careful reconnaissance of enemy minefields. In the light morning air, the first detonations are heard and the fighting quickly intensifies. We fight all morning for a zero result. At mid-day, disgusted, the Belgians return to their starting positions.
Around 15:00, an artillery bombardment begins, which continues sporadically until the night. A raid by the 42nd EB is requested for the next day at dawn.

Greek and Balkan Campaign
Back home
- The two divisions of the former 5th Army will soon be in place to defend Bulgaria. The 15th ID has reached the Kulata pass and is now holding this crossing point solidly. The 14th ID marches on Koprivlen, it will reach it tomorrow.

Deceptive appearances
- The British secret service and the Athens general staff chooses to believe Trifonov. However, if the man serves as a mailbox, it is obviously out of the question to respond by the same means - a transmission through diplomatic or humanitarian channels would be far too long, a recourse to the usual postal services is unlikely. However, it is essential for the future of operations in the Balkans that General Marinov's Bulgarians be informed that possible future operations on their southern border could only be diversions intended to sow doubt in the minds of the Germans.
What cannot be transmitted by land will be transmitted by air. And the French secret services will take care of passing on the message - by an uninformed carrier, for obvious security reasons. In its hideout in Sofia, "cousin Dimitrov" will soon receive a kind of invitation intended for Marinov.
"Trifon Yordanov Trifonov (1895-1945): Bulgarian officer, promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1934, colonel in 1938 and major-general in 1943. After several staff assignments, he was appointed commander of the 16th Infantry Division, known as the "White Sea" Division, which he created in 1941 shortly after his country entered the
into the world conflict. This assignment, which was in response to a personal wish, caused him great harm during the disintegration of the 2nd Occupation Corps, stationed in Thrace and whose command had been entrusted to him, in 1943.
Indeed, in the confusion of the Bulgarian turnaround attempt, isolated and without instructions, he did not manage to maintain the discipline and the unity of his divisions, whose chiefs displayed irreconcilable positions. Among them, Colonel Strashimir Velchev, placed at the head of the 16th Division formed by Trifonov, vigorously opposed the latter. Let's remember that the man, who behaved as the spokesman of the soldiers of his unit rather than their leader, was in favor of rallying to the Axis and a total defense of the region, for obvious ethnic reasons - a position that his leader, a legalist, simply could not accept.
Unable to be obeyed or to resist the participants in the conflict (whoever they were), the major-general finally took himself and part of his staff prisoner on September 11th, 1943, on the shores of Lake Koronia. Interned by the British, he spent the rest of the war in Stilida, without playing a known role in the continuation of operations. Choosing against all prejudices to return to his country after the German capitulation, he was quickly arrested by the authorities of the new People's Republic of Bulgaria and then charged with collaboration with the enemy and desertion. These charges may seem contradictory, but Trifonov was nevertheless shot on March 15th, 1945 in the Central Prison of Sofia. (Robert Stan Pratsky - Dictionary of the Second World War in the Mediterranean, Flammarion, 2008)

Air reorganization
- The advance of the Allied troops in Greece and then in Yugoslavia lead the Luftwaffe staff to reorganize its organization in the region. LuftFlotte 6, which includes the FliegerFührer Griechenland and FliegerFührer Balkan, is dissolved, as well as FliegerFührer Griechenland. The FliegerFührer Balkan (which recovers the essential of the units of Griechenland) passes under the authority of the Kommandierender General der Deutschen Luftwaffe Balkan.
10/10/43 - France
October 10th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
- In view of the forthcoming end of operations in this sector and the rectification of the front obtained by the 4th DMM, it is decided to withdraw the 14th DBLE from its positions in the Alpes Maritimes in the next few days to send it to relieve the 5th RI, which would then be able to join its 10th Division.
However, General Juin notes that his front is much more stretched than that of the neighboring corps, on difficult terrain and for the same number of units. He requests reinforcements, arguing that to hold his line he has to commit part of his AC reserves. In response, he is allocated the 3rd Group of Moroccan Tabors, which should arrive in Provence soon.

Battle of Montélimar
- Satisfactions are rare for the German staff in this battle of the Kessel. Today, the gloomy atmosphere due to the retreat is nevertheless tinged with satisfactions: the 157. Gebirgs Division recovered well and resists in Die, the tanks of the 16. Panzer counter-attack effectively to cover the retreat of the Panzergrenadiers or the Fallschirmjägers, and the Panzerjägers of the 14th SS also prove effective.
At the end of the day, the 2. FJ Division is able to reposition itself in the Saou gap, between Puy Saint-Martin and the Rocher de Graville, east of Saou. The Panzergrenadiers of the two divisions are able to withdraw behind the precarious shelter of the Roubion river until Montélimar.
However, this is not done without difficulty: losses accumulate under the effect of continued air attacks and the very precise counter-battery fire of the allied artillery (especially against the positions located on the other side of the Rhône). Moreover, the attacks of the allied armoured attacks show a drive and a manoeuvring quality which clearly shows that, if their equipment is not as formidable as that of the Soviets, the French tankers and their American "students" (the expression comes from a German tank commander) know their job well.

Attack in Ardèche
- The Americans are still replenishing their units and bringing in reinforcements. They are behind schedule - the 1st Armored, in particular, should already be there.
However, the French have asked their allies for an extra effort in the Ardèche in order not to stretch the front line too far on guard at the river. The American command agrees, especially since the French and Belgians are going to provide some troops and support.
Today, the 45th US-ID must fix the 165th ID by offensive actions in its sector, the 26th US-IR of the "First", supported by the 191st Tk Bn, must attack the 205. Grenadier Rgt at Saint Martin d'Ardèche and the 16th US-IR has to obtain a bridgehead north of Pont St-Esprit, allowing the passage of the Tancrémont armored brigade and the Chasseurs Ardennais. Finally, with the help of the corps engineers and a battalion of the 1er Choc, the 15th DBLE has to cross the Rhône at Bourg Saint-Andéol.
At the end of the day, the operations go on more or less as planned. The counter-attacks launched by the remains of the 189. RD and the Panzer abt. 106 and 213 fail and the Legion is well established in Bourg Saint-Andéol.
The German staff does not panic. KG Bumm, consisting of the Pioneer Btn 512 and the StuG Abt. 341, has already received the order to come and position itself opposite the legionnaires, at the level of Saint-Montan. It is true that the Wehrmacht has learned to operate under a sky totally dominated by the Allies: the failure of the counter-attack was predictable and even foreseen: the weak means deployed were smothered by a ruthless air force. The 2nd EC has in particular supports the Belgian units very efficiently.
Captain Robert Thollon, of the GC I/2, testifies: "We were waiting on the ground floor, covered by the III/2 in the dovecote, when we received a call from Bouchon 6, the forward controller of the Belgian Cyclists. He described to us the advance of the enemy tanks and their axis of attack towards the east. We split into three elements. The first, Green 1, on an axis due west, was to go and neutralize the Flak, while Green 2 and 3 would go around the hills to get to the back of the more vulnerable Panzers. We struck with 40 mm and RACs. I am sure that one of my projectiles hit the engine of one of the tanks, during my resource, I saw it burn. I also lit up several half tracks and believe me, we are not about to see them again, considering the holes that the shells of 40 leave in their carcass!"
11/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 11th, 1943

French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Alger)
- While its services vibrate with an enthusiastic and patriotic fever at the prospect of an imminent move in the opposite direction from three years ago, Minister Leon Blum receives a direct personal communication from Anthony Eden. It is officially to prepare a next meeting at the highest level (probably in Athens) and, more unofficially, to discuss the negotiations already underway with Romania. One suspects that the Frenchman, who does not forget his role as a diplomat but even less the defense of the economic interests of the Nation (the Western Europeans held 45% of the Romanian oil fields before the war!) does not taste the joke, which seems to him to be a bad omen. And he makes it known.
- Frankly, Sir Anthony, with all due respect to Old England, our valiant and unfailing ally, it seems to me that the least courtesy would have been to inform us of these talks at their outset, or even to associate ourselves with them. I am afraid that this regrettable delay will somewhat tarnish the mood of the President of the Council, which has been very good these days.
- Listen, my dear Leon, I understand your... dismay. I understand it and, to be completely sincere with you, I share it to some extent. This... initiative was taken by... hem, high-ranking officials and carried away by an enthusiasm that can be explained by the happy times we are all living in.
- Yes, of course. I have a pretty good idea of the high ranking official in question, and the General will probably have no doubt as to his identity. Your First is already doing, it seems to me, some good business on the Mediterranean. But not at our expense, my dear! Not at our expense! Some people here, and not only among the Anglophobes, might think that we are doing the same thing with Iran.

Léon Blum, while looking out his window at the rain falling on the white city, pauses briefly before resuming. The current situation is not a sign of the British partner's contempt towards France. It is, unfortunately, only the strict result of a balance of power that remains hopelessly unfavorable to the Republic, barely back on its land. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, and also as a socialist, he can only condemn the predatory capitalist ways of the British on a Romania already victim of the dictatorship and the German oppression, and which will undoubtedly soon be occupied by a foreign power. He therefore protests, as his duty and custom demand. But protests alone never get very far. Better, in spite of everything, to continue to stick together with the English, the only friends who can really act in this part of the world. The division would inevitably benefit the heavyweights of the United Nations: Moscow surely, Washington perhaps.
Blum falls back into his chair and asked in a somewhat theatrical tone: "The question now, my dear Anthony*, is: how do we make up for all this? How can France, which was unable to act on the Bulgarian question and whose efforts on the Greek question have not been very successful**, can it now contribute to the defense of our common interests?
- We will, of course, immediately forward to you all the information in our possession on Mister Știrbey's mission. The assistance of your local representative will be welcome. Mmm, sorry, his name escapes me...
- Ernest Charles Lucet. A very promising young man. I thank you.
- Very well ! I also propose that we meet a few days before our meeting with the Soviets and the Americans, in order to establish a joint position. We must stand firm. The battle will involve Bucharest. And a little bit about your good friends in Belgrade. By the way, you are not unaware that the situation in Yugoslavia...
- We are not unaware, indeed. And we are working on it, be sure. But with discretion and meticulousness. We can't send our generals to pick up the pieces of every Nation trampled... I mean, crossed by General Montgomery***.

The message is clear - if the United Kingdom wants France to continue to collaborate in the Bulldog's little Balkan adventure, it has to give up some of its ballast and at least pretend to share. This, by the way, suits Anthony Eden - he hardly believes in the possibilities of tearing Romania away from the Russian orbit, and thus gives up some of the hypothetical against the quasi-certain (at least, we hope so in London!). All of this, moreover, while Montgomery is preparing his next offensive - it would be better not to put any obstacles in his way...
So the British man nods without any difficulty: "Certainly. Be certain that I will make sure that your services are associated as soon as possible to our future mission on the ground in Romania and that you are informed of all our future actions."
- Thank you again. I await your elements. And I will not fail to come back to you in confidence and as soon as possible.
- Thank you very much. See you, my dear Blum.
- See you soon, my dear Eden.

The matter will go to the office of the President of the Council. This one will of course be very annoyed by this new perfidy of Albion, but, for the moment, he is much more interested in the operations in Provence than in the maneuvers in Wallachia. The things will thus remain there - for the moment and for lack of means. As for the Soviets...
Kremlin (Moscow) - "So, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich, the proposals of our dear Alexandra Mikhailovna did not succeed in convincing that stupid reactionary Antonescu?"
Faced with an affable Stalin smiling like a propaganda poster, even as he states what should be an annoyance, Molotov doesn't quite know what he's doing. Of course, the minister thinks, with the recent successes in Ukraine, Vojd is in a good mood. But time changes quickly in the USSR...
- That's right, Comrade Marshal. Obviously, the Fascist still hopes to get away with it without coming to an arrangement with us - although we have been more than generous with this scoundrel. But there is more!
- Better, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich?

Interested, Stalin raises his eyebrows high, amidst the wisps of smoke emitted by his pipe.
- Indeed. Our comrades of the Romanian Party inform us that the rallies of the National Democratic Bloc have engaged in direct negotiations with the English capitalists. And at the same time, Antonescu would get closer to the Americans!
- Hahahahaha! These capitalists! All ready to tear each other apart for the first bit of land when they're not even on the right sidewalk! Because it is not the tanks of the City, nor those of Wall Street which camp on the Danube. But our glorious, our valiant, our unstoppable Red Army!

Stalin takes a breath, takes another puff, then continues: "Our little maneuver in Sofia was not clear to everyone, it seems. It is true that it was meant to be underground. But it doesn't matter: we will send the Romanians a new message, much more explicit, in order to show them who makes the law and with whom to discuss with in this part of the world. I'm telling you, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich: tomorrow I'm fixing a meeting with the Stavka [Stalin hardly mentions Zhukov in these times of victory, a coincidence no doubt...] the day of the start of our next offensive. The Vatra Dornei-Gheorgheni offensive - I don't need to tell you where it is. It will once again hurt the Germans very much. And I guarantee that after this little demonstration, the puppet from Bucharest will be delighted to discuss with us... Let it go, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich: it is the Romanians who will come back to us before the end of the month!"

* One will have noticed the semantic shift...
** Let us rather say that France was rather badly paid for its yet decisive action at the time of the first Athens conference - but Eden knows how to read between the lines and understand that Blum asks to be returned the elevator.
*** Allusion to the very recent Tirana conference, chaired with unexpected brilliance by Sylvestre Audet.
11/10/43 - Occupied Countries
October 11th, 1943

Villa of the Conducator (Băneasa, northern suburb of Bucharest)
- Ion Antonescu receives from ambassador Frederic Nanu the Soviet proposals kindly formulated by Alexandra Kollontaï (see the Diplomacy section). Generous in appearance, they are far from satisfying him completely.
First of all, the question of the future of the Conducator's regime was not addressed at all by the Soviets. Of course, Antonescu does not have many illusions on the subject. But his ambition is to survive the conflict, with his relatives - and if possible, by staying in Romania. From this point of view, we must agree that the Russian experience does not encourage confidence...
Confidence: this is the biggest black spot. Antonescu does not trust the communists who will not fail to plant a knife in his back and to put a bullet between his eyes as soon as the war is over - or even before. Who proves that their promises will commit them in any way? The whole history of the USSR says the opposite. If we join the Soviet ranks without having prepared anything, it would inevitably be swallowed, digested, dissolved and annexed to the Union.
There must be a way to do better. But without going through the Franco-British - they have few resources in the region and everyone knows, since last month, the contempt they have for those who throw themselves willingly into their arms.
Pushing his reflection further, the Conducator particularly remembers the case of Finland. A country that stayed at war for several days on the side of the Axis, invaded a part of the Soviet Union (even though it was its territory two years earlier), inflicted losses, suffered losses - all to finally end the conflict with an armistice in the form of a white peace, in one fell swoop and without anything really untoward happening to it. Even though its position on the Baltic Sea was strategic for the USSR and the Western allies have absolutely no means in the sector!
At the time, it was Washington that had managed the affair, it seems. Obviously, the Americans have the means to influence the decisions of the Russian colossus - a colossus that is undoubtedly powerful, but also with feet of clay, and which cannot therefore fall out completely with its partners. An arrangement that saves everyone's face - by playing on oil interests, which are always very sensitive across the Atlantic - is therefore still possible.
Thus, in the mad hope that the United States will be able to get out of this bad situation as they did with Helsinki, the Conducator chooses not to follow up immediately on the Soviet offers, and instead to relaunch the talks in Madrid, which have still not formally begun. This while, precisely at the same time, his compatriots of the National Democratic Bloc are negotiating with the Europeans! Thus, in Romania, as everywhere else on the planet, everyone agrees to negotiate something from Bucharest, at the same time but according to obviously divergent interests...
11/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 11th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

The Japanese know that they must not lose the road linking the north of the front to Thailand. All day long, counter-attacks follow one another against the allied bridgehead of Kyondoe. But the Banzai charges come up against a curtain of fire stretched by the artillery of the 8th and 19th Indian Divisions, supported by several bombing squadrons. On their side, the Japanese airmen do everything they could to support their troops in this part of the front, even if it means abandoning the other sectors, but the Allied fighters are on guard and few Japanese bombers manage to reach their objectives. Overall, the score of the day is clearly in favour of the Allies, who lose seven aircraft but shoot down a dozen.
Along the river, the 9th Armoured Tank Brigade knocks out a battalion of the 55th Division and captures Kyondoe before continuing towards the border. Further north, the 1st Burmese Division reached the road at several points north of Kawkareik.
To the northeast, across the border, the 3rd West African Brigade runs into the remnants of the 2nd Thai Division, dug in north of Mae Sot. Despite support from the 90th FS P-40s, which shoot down two Thai Ki-27s, the situation seems to be blocked. Brigadier Gillmore manages to make radio contact with Col. Philip Cochran, USAAF. It is decided to insist the next day with a more powerful support.
In the southern part of the front, the plain north of Moulmein will see one of the few tank battles of the war in Asia. The Japanese align the equivalent of a regiment with Chi-Ha (type 97) medium tanks and Ha-Go (type 95) light tanks.
On the other side, the Allies engage the whole 50th Indian Tank Brigade, mainly equipped with Valentine, led by the Calcutta Light Horse and its Stuarts. This armor engagement will remain one of the most important of the whole war in South-East Asia even if, in the light of the European battles, it is rather light cavalry!
However, the Japanese officers do not take into account the fact that the road to Moulmein, which runs along the Salween, is within range of the artillery of the 5th British ID, which deploys on the other bank. This support proves to be very useful for the Allies, who eventually prevail. Their breakthrough forces the 9th Japanese Division to withdraw towards Moulmein. The 5th British Division then advances on the left of the 14th Indian Division.

Operation Tigertooth
At the rear of the 77th Brigade, it is the turn of the W column to withdraw northward after having conscientiously sabotaged everything in its sector, to the consternation of the Thai units that follow it without really trying to attack it.
Ahead of it, the Cook column finally reaches "Buckingham Palace". The Gurkha paratroopers take advantage of this to move northward and cross the River Kwai. Later in the day, the A column does the same towards the west.
Opposite, the Japanese colonel commanding the 71st Division elements deploy at the entrance to the valley on the Burmese side (about half a regiment) hear a report from a second lieutenant of the battalion decimated during the failed assault two days earlier.
In spite of his orders, he is determined to avenge this failure by overrunning the British position in the Three Pagodas sector.
During this lull, the parachuting of supplies and medevacs continue under the protection of American P-38s. A good number of sick people are evacuated, including the rare Japanese prisoners.

Thailand... rebalances itself
Bangkok, 08:00
- The resignation of Marshal Phibunsongkhram, known as Phibun, from his position of Prime Minister of the Kingdom is announced by his own services (the Regent, anxious not to disobligate him, approved this slight departure from protocol).
09:00 - The Royal Palace announces that Mr. Chumbhotbongs Paribatra had been appointed by the Regent to form the new government. He is the son of Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand, who resigned due to his poor health*. Like his father, he is close to Phibun (which should reassure the Japanese). The fact that he is the grandson of Rama V will do a lot to reassure the population and especially the traditionalist elites of the country. Observers believe, without much risk of being mistaken, that the next team will resemble the previous one.
16:00 - The new Prime Minister appears before Parliament. He gives a very brief speech paying tribute to his predecessor, assuring (as few doubted) that he would continue to play a political role. Mr. Paribatra reaffirms "the Kingdom's fidelity to its alliances" and, in the same breath, the will of the samenKingdom "to live in peace with all its neighbors". He concludes that if regrettable misunderstandings have sometimes cast a light shadow on Thailand's international relations, they would not be long in dissipating, for the greater good of the Peace that, according to the teaching of Buddha, all Thai people seek with all their heart. Thereupon, the Parliament approves his nomination by a very large majority.
The last words of Chumbhot Paribatra's speech are commented in detail by a very long message from the Japanese ambassador in Tokyo. This message asks for instructions, because the ambassador has to meet the new Prime Minister the next day.

Indochina Campaign
Nong Khai (Laos), shortly after midnight
- At first, everyone thought that it was one of those nightly harassments that the French have made a specialty of. But the number and the power of the explosions quickly convince them. In fact, it is a raid similar to those which struck the Thai capital. The attackers are sixteen in number: nine Halifaxes from Sqn 624 (RAF) and seven Wellingtons from Sqn 1 (BVAS). They aim at the train station, but the explosive and incendiary projectiles cause heavy damage throughout the whole city. The flak fires furiously, but all the aircraft return to Burma without serious damage.
In the early morning, the ruined buildings and the shattered railroads offer a desolate picture. As for the trains, they are forced to stop at the entrance of the city.

Tuan Giao (Tonkin), 06:00 - A dozen Ki-21 "Sally" and their escort of nine Ki-43 "Oscar" fall like lightning on the field, taking the occupants literally out of bed! Approaching at 10,000 feet, the Ki-21s bomb the runway, riddling it with impacts. A few bombs hit the airfield buildings - tents, in fact, for the most part - causing casualties among the personnel. Unwilling to linger near the fighters likely to come from Dien-Bien-Phu, this first group turns around quickly and heads back east in a hurry.
Five minutes later, seven Ki-48 Sokei "Lily" arrive, covered by five Ki-44 "Tojo". This time, the attackers are eagerly awaited by the flak, but the flak is limited (for the moment) to three 40 mm Bofors and about thirty machine guns of various calibers. The Ki-48s attack in a dive - they are recent type IIb, equipped with dive brakes. Suspecting that the area will soon be swarming with Allied fighters, the pilots try not to lose time and take the way back as fast as possible. The enemy fighters do not show up and the Ki-44s follow the lead of the bombers after having made a strafing pass.
"After the bombers, we dove toward the enemy terrain. There were many craters still smoldering dotted the runway, but clouds of tracers seemed to be looking for me. Not far from there, but in the middle of the jungle, I recognized the wreckage of a Sokei shot down by the flak. May Yasukumi welcome these heroes! On the edge of the runway, I saw the recognizable silhouette of a B-17, which was growing rapidly in my viewfinder! It was impossible to miss! I opened fire on my Ho-103s and I saw multiple pieces of debris flying around, witnessing as many hits on target. As I flew over the B-17 before straightening up, I had the satisfaction of seeing it catch fire! At the same time, on the radio, I heard Saejima triumphantly announce that he had just demolished one of those damn P-51s!
Our formation then left in a hurry for Hanoi. We regretted what could be seen as fleeing but our numbers were still too small. Chu-sa Shigeno had been very firm: we had to stay alive to strike further blows at the enemy. Until Tokyo sent sufficient reinforcements, we were the only bulwark that prevented the Westerners from sweeping through the whole region!" (Diary of sho-i Keitaro Urashima)

Nong Khai (Laos), 11:00 - Another air raid, this time Belgian. A little more numerous than the day before, the Belgian planes attack the river port.
The commander of the garrison of the Laotian city is furious. The attackers had been unhindered by the white elephant fighters, only the flak damages two B-25s and a P-51. The RTAF liaison officer explains that the field is unusable because of the previous day's attack. And there is little chance of help from Bangkok, since the defense of the capital remained the priority.
Clearly, the Allies are masters of the skies...

Vientiane region (Laos), 15:30 - In the afternoon, Belgian planes carry out a new raid, this time to support General Bourdeau's men. Fighters and bombers attack the Thai units in the open. If the damage inflicted sometimes seem insignificant, the fact of knowing that they are not forgotten by the staff gives some morale boost to the Franco-Laotians
However, the Laotian partisans report the arrival of Japanese reinforcements in Vientiane via the Mekong River. This is of course Major Tomiya's river convoy: only a few hundred men, still shaken by the various air attacks they had suffered but a much larger force approaches by land along the Mekong River, Resistance fighters and reconnaissance planes have reported it.
General Bourdeau is still reluctant to retreat, but he has no choice. He already tried once to take Vientiane and the Thais had counterattacked in force. Ulcerated, he retreats, while wondering if he should not have resisted on the spot. Shortly thereafter, the bombardment of his entrenchments by heavy guns - 105 mm Bofors howitzers - has proved that he had been right to withdraw.
Today, he only plans to hold on in the Vientiane area by dispersing and digging in. Attacking the big city would be far too difficult, especially with weak and intermittent air support. Besides, assuming he succeeds in retaking Vientiane, the Japanese and Thais are not going to leave him in peace. The strength of the Franco-Indochinese is based from the beginning of the conflict on the elusiveness and speed of maneuver of their troops. With a powerful force moving up the Mekong and will be there in eight or ten days, striving to take and hold Vientiane would be tantamount to taking the fight and giving up these advantages.
However, this failure in front of Vientiane has its good side. The troops that are now moving along the Mekong no longer defend southern Laos. Turning to his staff, Bourdeau points to the road junction east of Savannakhet, where the Japanese had set up the base they called Hayabusa:
"Change of plan. We drop Vientiane, leaving enough irregulars in the area to keep our friends busy. In the meantime, we're moving down as quickly as possible to take their big base in the south of the country." Isn't it said that Napoleon won his battles with the legs of his soldiers?

Tuan Giao (Tonkin), 17:00 - Two Lodestars land between the poorly filled-in craters to recover the crews of the three bombers stationed at Tuan-Giao, who are waiting for their planes to be repaired. Everyone is unharmed, because the crews' tents are set up outside the perimeter of the airfield. While the P-40 escort remains on the lookout, the transports also take on board the seriously injured requiring care that can only be given in the basin or in China.
18:05 - At dusk, fifteen bombers, nine Ki-21s and six Ki-48s, return with the intention of rendering the field inoperable for a long time. As the bombs hit the runway again, the cover provided by six Ki-43s and four Ki-44s are keeping watch - and this time, they see four P-51s and four P-40. A furious melee ensues; the Nipponese lose three aircraft to two enemy fighters, but the bombers, which this time are all attacking in horizontal flight, are not worried.
21:00 - In both camps, the situation is assessed.
The Japanese are sure that they had struck hard and weakened the air capacity of Dien-Bien-Phu, at the cost of four aircraft (one Ki-48, two Ki-43 and one Ki-44), which did their morale a world of good.
The Allies have a very different view of the situation. It is true that the field is unusable for several days. However, since it was only used as an emergency runway, this does not reduce Epervier's capabilities. The inconvenience will be temporary. As for the losses in aircraft, apart from the two fighters shot down at the end of the day (a P-40 and a P-51), they were limited to a C-47 that was bringing in parts for repairs and two B-17s, a B-24 and a P-51, all already damaged (the P-51 was even considered irreparable). The destroyed planes will be scrapped on the spot (the Browning still in condition will be assigned to reinforce the defense of the terrain by the Bo-Dois).

Sino-Japanese War
Operation Zhulin
Wuhan (Hubei)
- During the night, the insurrection of Wuchang spontaneously spreads to the rest of the conurbation, encouraged by the repeated bombings of the previous weeks. Indeed, many areas of Wuhan with damaged buildings and rubble-clogged streets are fertile ground for urban guerrilla warfare.

Xinyu (Jiangxi) - The 30th Chinese Division, under the energetic command of General Zhang Huatang, storms the city and proceededs to clean it up methodically, with little regard for collateral damage. The tenno soldiers, as usual, are killed on the spot rather than surrendering, but after six years of total war marked by a host of atrocities, the Chinese no longer make the slightest effort to capture prisoners.

* He died in early 1944.
11/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 11th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev-TBT
Sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front
- Under a big blue sky which despairs and worries more than one soviet general...or an experienced Landser, the forces destined for Rumyantsev-TBT (Ternopol-Brody-Chervonohrad) continue their movement. Konstantin Rokossovsky, duly spurred on by his superior (who is also, from now on, his fellow frontline commander) to redeploy as soon as possible... without being noticed by the Fascists, because the surprise is vital, Comrade!
The Red Army faces here a contradiction of the most difficult to manage: to maneuver under the nose of the enemy, without being seen but especially quickly! Indeed, the information transmitted by the Partisans and corroborated by the radio tapping - in particular of the exchanges of the Luftwaffe (these aviators are so talkative!) - announce the imminent arrival of powerful forces intended to clear the Bar pocket and to deprive the Soviet Union of a new victory. The window of opportunity for the final offensive to the west seems to be closing, it is no longer time to wait! To wait any longer is to risk letting slip the troops encircled in the Kessel of Bar, without being able to reach the Bug this year.
For the time being, however, Antonov's plan seems to work. The HG NordUkraine seems to be trapped: its reserves are far away, while the Soviet maneuver, underestimated by an enemy who is no longer suspicious, is on its way to being completed. In the evening, the 4th Guards Army (I.N. Muzychenko) and the 1st Guards AC (M.E. Katukov) indicate
to have finally completed the main part of their redeployment between Shybena and Lysohirka, hardly hampered by the presence of the Zherd', which split their forces in two. Only the 1st Cavalry Corps (V.V. Kryukov) and the 1st Armored Corps (P.G. Chanchibadze), still lag a few kilometers behind, because of a more distant starting position.
The offensive that should crown the liberation of Ukraine this year is only waiting for the few stragglers, who will be in place within 24 hours... unless the signal of the attack is given without waiting, because of the circumstances. But for that, a decision at the highest level is needed.
Would Rokossovsky and Zhukov be more relaxed if they knew that in Rastenburg, the situation in Ukraine (and more generally on the Eastern Front) is more or less settled for 1943? Hitler now has his eye on the south of France, where his armies have finally obtained defensive successes after a disastrous month of September, and has decided to take armored forces to the east to defeat the Allies in Provence! This will be the case of Paul Hausser's SS - well, as soon as they will have solved the problems of von Arnim - and of several heavy tank Abteilungen. Thus, the 503. schw Pzr Abt (major von Kageneck) and the 504. schw Pzr Abt (Hauptmann Kühn) are already packing their bags... And if the 503. relieves the HG Mitte - victorious against Suvorov, the departure of the 504. (down to 6 operational Tiger, but in the process of being reinforced) removes from the 8. Armee an armored reserve rightly positioned not far from Lanivtsi.

Sector of the 2nd Ukrainian Front - The II. SS-PanzerKorps has finally reached Vovkovyntsi to meet its friends of the GrossDeutschland, its other partners of the Heer and its Hungarian auxiliaries. Without wasting any time, the Black Order forces launch incontinent offensive patrols towards the east, without even really settling in! Paul Hausser did not take too many risks - he made the most of the reconnaissance carried out by Walther Hörnlein the day before - but such eagerness can only be surprising, even though he is not always the most prudent of men...
The reason for this is quite simple: this morning, the SS man had been contacted by his master Heinrich Himmler. Between two empty phrases and other encouragement full of certainty, the Reichsführer-SS is categorical: after having brilliantly settled the situation in Yampil and Lanivtsi, his armored corps must save the Heer from disaster in the East, because he will then have to run to do the same in Provence. The Totenkopf would thus finally have the opportunity to erase the humiliation of Pont-Saint-Esprit, when the II. SS-PanzerKorps will throw back into the sea those vain Americans and their negro auxiliaries! After this modest formality, the influence of the Schutzstaffel will certainly reach new heights - and Himmler will finally be able to impose his brilliant military ideas on a command that will have been definitively discredited. This beautiful program will be made possible by the new armored vehicles of the Reich - Hausser will have, thanks to the influence of the SS on the Nazi production apparatus - as well as by the fanaticism of his troops - no one doubts that they already have it.
The German motorized forces begin to push towards Klopotivtsi, in order to test the Communist defenses north of the Horyany crossroads - without even bothering to coordinate with the detachment of the 17. Armee, always delayed by sabotage and ambushes. On the radio, Kissel now mentions an arrival tomorrow evening at best, for a first attack in 72 hours! A bunch of weaklings - Hausser and Hörnlein will do without them.
In any case, these German thrusts - which are obviously confused, but which are not yet decisive - are stopped only with difficulty. Andrei Getman's armor has to withdraw several times under the shells to let Vasily Popov's infantry to fend for themselves. The GrossDeutschland even advances 4 kilometers! Obviously, the 2nd Ukrainian Front is not strong enough in the coming fight - and the VVS have put all their weight behind it, Bagramyan is not sure to hold on tomorrow. Here too, a decision must be made.

Bar pocket - Meanwhile, while events are accelerating in the West, the 2nd Shock Army continues its meticulous reduction of the Kessel, while taking over as much of the 59th Army positions as possible, at least along the northern and southern flanks of the pocket. Not having the means necessary for a sudden assault, it endeavors - with the help of the VVS and the political services of the Red Army - to force the Germans to spend the energy and ammunition set aside for the breakthrough, while undermining the morale of the defenders, which has already fallen quite low. The Soviets are obviously helped by the fact that the encircled men still see nothing coming from the west, while the Luftwaffe parachute drops are every day more insufficient (45 tons only today!). During the day, the Reds nibble away 2 kilometers on the eastern flank of the pocket, trying in particular to erode the German resistance north of the Kessel, thus on the foreseeable path of the rescue.
Meanwhile, on the Stepanky pseudo-airfield (now threatened by the fighting), the activity has decreased somewhat. The only Junkers 52 still in flight condition left at dawn under the shells, by the light of the braziers, with 25 passengers, including two seriously injured (much more than its theoretical capacity of 17 passengers!). It was surely shot down*... The only thing that remains now on this ravaged runway - which will finally have been of little use! - is a damaged plane that its crew is desperately trying to repair in spite of the Russian fire, using parts recovered from the three wrecks scattered nearby. Not sure that he succeeds, but despair is life.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, it is thought that a parade of prisoners on the Red Square would be in the best taste for the anniversary of the Revolution - while in the Lubyanka, they are starting to think about what to do with the mass of German officers already captured.
Something like the Romanian "progressive" formations being created, perhaps? For this, we need even more prisoners...
In this context, the VVS still drops leaflets on Bar inciting desertions. This time, however, they are much more offensive - and don't hesitate to press where it hurts.
"What to do? This is the question that Private Rosemann, of the 8th Company of the 167th Regiment of the 86. ID** asked himself, and with him many of his comrades. Private Rosemann's heart is no longer in the war. He is discouraged and depressed. His infantry company melts before his eyes. His best comrades have already fallen. And death is always waiting for new sacrifices. No more letters from home. The long despair has made him indifferent. Lost in his thoughts, just like the others, he no longer knows rest. He says to himself:
If I sit in the trench, I will be shot.
If I run away from the battlefield, I will be shot.
If I am caught by the Russians, I will be shot.
What to do?" asks Private Rosemann desperately.
What to do?" hundreds of cursed and abandoned German soldiers desperately ask themselves.
What to do?" desperately ask "professional" reserve soldiers, car drivers, seriously wounded, machine gunners and infantrymen who had just been mobilized and their entourages in Sachsen, Bavaria, Berlin and Austria.
Fight to the last blood! Hitler's order. And hope for a change or a miracle - Dr. Goebbels will add.
Private Rosemann and the hundreds of others who think like this!
If you sit in the trench, you will be killed, it is true. Today or tomorrow, but either way you'll be executed by shooting. We Russians will kill you because you are invaders. Because you follow Adolf Hitler.
If you run away from the battlefield, you will be killed - it is true, but not necessarily. Who flees then gets caught - he will be executed by shooting. Killed by one of your officers, an SS or a Gestapist. Whether you are tried or not - you will be killed anyway. But the one who is clever and knows how to go unnoticed - that one will stay alive. Fleeing the battlefield is a risk: you have only a 50% chance of survival. It is better to risk your life at 50% rather than 100% chance of being shot.
If you are caught by the Russians, you will be killed - this is not true. This is the propaganda of Hitler and Goebbels. They want to force you, for a lost cause, to fight to the last drop of your blood and that's why they want to scare you to death by telling you about the Russian prison camps. In reality, a good life awaits you in Russian captivity. Russian captivity is the easiest and safest way to save your life. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers and officers chose this route and saved their lives. In reality, Russian captivity is the shortest way home.
PRIVATE ROSEMANN AND HUNDREDS OF OTHERS WHO THINK SO. You asked what to do, we gave you the answer. Whether you want to act or not is your decision. This document is a valid pass for German soldiers and officers who would like to join the security of the Red Army.
Beyond some obvious exaggerations - the number of German prisoners in the USSR probably does not reach the hundreds of thousands mentioned... - doubt creeps in little by little, drop by drop, in the minds of some. For sure, any German soldier with two cents of brain cells doubt that a simple sheet of paper would protect him if he stepped forward, even with his arms raised, facing a communist machine gun - not to mention the possible revenge against the prisoners... But the events already experienced by the 2. PanzerArmee do not inspire much confidence either. It is twice in two years that this formation finds itself surrounded following more or less gross strategic errors... However, for the time being, thanks to the vigilance of the hierarchical and political leaders, as well as the proverbial German discipline, neither big problems nor massive desertions have been reported - for the time being!

Kremlin, 19:30 - Both hands flat on his desk, pipe full of Herzegovina Flor tobacco, Marshal Stalin seems to be waiting for someone to tell him something else. Opposite him, Marshal Vassilevski and General Antonov comes to give him news of the operations in progress around Bar. Not surprisingly, they are not very good - the information provided by the Partisans and the radio chatter of the Luftflotte 4 are clear. Tomorrow, at 08:00, the German armored forces will launch a vast offensive aimed at clearing the Kessel without waiting for the troops coming from Romania. The valiant efforts of men of Sydir Kovpak were not enough to delay the assault any longer. And it is almost certain that the 2nd Ukrainian Front alone would not be able to block four elite armored divisions. It was planned, of course, but not so early: one must admit that one did not think in Moscow that the Wehrmacht would react so quickly, without waiting to have all the cards in hand. Obviously, its aggressiveness was underestimated.
How to deal with it? Should Rumyantsev-TBT be cancelled in order to urgently redeploy the tanks of the 1st Ukrainian Front further south. Or should we raise the stakes by launching this operation? And if so, when? The day after tomorrow, as planned, with the troops that have arrived in the meantime? Or... as early as tonight? Which would obviously be a major departure from the plan - and therefore a risk, not to mention the uncertainty of the outcome.
Who says that the Fascists will cancel their assault on Bar as soon as the attack is launched? And besides, what is the proof that the 8. Armee will not pull out of its sleeve other reserves that will push back the brave frontovikis into the Zbruch? The Germans are fascist invaders, it is true - they are also competent soldiers (less than the Soviets, of course, but still!) who conquered almost all of Europe in three years! But a contrario, if we cancelled Rumyantsev-TBT and if the tanks were to leave for the south tonight, would they really arrive in time to stop the panzers in front of Bar?
We have to decide. To wait 24 hours to launch R-TBT as planned, to launch it without waiting or cancel it... a choice fraught with consequences, involving the future of vast territories - as well as the men who will obey the orders. Of course, it is up to Stalin to choose. But as he does not lead alone - at least in appearance - and that he is nevertheless a man to listen to some wise advice (and even more to cover himself in case of disaster), he pretends to wait for the advice of his generals. Even though there is no doubt about it. Even if his personal opinion has been made for a long time. Finally, after a moment which seems very long, Aleksandr Vassilevsky blows: "The STAVKA recommends to bring forward Rumyantsev-TBT by 24 hours to catch the opponent off guard."
The answer is simple: "Given that the present situation is the result of its own arbitration, it will take full responsibility." All with a smile, of course.

Soviet Union - "On October 11th, 1943, it was the handing-over of the flags and badges for the Vladimirescu division, according to the particular protocol set up by our Soviet comrades. The band played successively the Imnul Regal and the Internationale - an astonishing yet obvious symbol of concord between reconciled peoples.
We were the first - "the spearheads, the standard-bearers" said General Cambrea on the rostrum, with the red and blue-yellow-red flags in equal measure behind him. That is why we were given a specific chest badge to celebrate the event, to be pinned on the jacket: a shield and a sword with the initials "TV" standing out on a flag, surrounded by laurels and surmounted by the date "XI.X.43". We also had a similar sleeve badge, but embroidered, the "TV" standing out on the Romanian colors: thus, we carried on us permanently the Russian steel supporting the national flag." (Farewell my country... once again, Vasil Gravil, Gallimard 1957)

* The besieged of Bar do not know it... but it is not true! Taking advantage of the confusion generated by the German offensive in the north, which attracted the VVS to this side, the transport - "flying so low that it could have rolled", said its pilot - miraculously reached Lvov, where it was no longer expected.
** This unit is indeed in the Kessel. It is not known whether Rosemann was a deserter or a corpse whose papers had been found.
11/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 10th, 1943

Italian Campaign
Italian front
- When the noise of the bombers' engines fades, the fighting resumes for the mount of the bats. Little by little, the grenadiers advance, from hole to hole, from shelter to shelter, which must be reduced one by one. A small forest fire is lit, but the wind blows the fire in the direction of the Germans. It provides a natural smoke screen, which protects the men, but hinders the artillery and the aviation. The day ends when the Belgians are halfway up the hill. The work has to be finished the next day.

Greece and Balkans campaign
Return to the Country
- The first elements of the former 5th Bulgarian Army arrive in Koprivlen - according to Marinov's wish, the two passes giving access to Bulgaria are now considered impregnable. This does not guarantee that they will not be attacked by the Allied divisions.
However, it is neither the British nor the Greeks that the Bulgarians see coming from the Drama road, but Velchev's 16th Infantry Division, accompanied by a tragic multitude of civilians carrying what they could save of their goods. The defenders of Koprivlen cannot do much to help these unfortunate people, and those of Kulata or of the other eastern crossing points can do little more.
11/10/43 - France
October 11th, 1943

The war at altitude
- Return to calm. The French Alpins resume their reconnaissance, feeling the Italian defenses. In the north-east corner of the 27th DA's position, a patrol of the 15th BCA distinguishes itself by mounting a mortar and a section of machine guns at the Pelvoux refuge, at an altitude of over 2,600 meters, to ambush a section of alpini patrolling in this sector.

Battle of Montélimar
- The situation becomes much harder around Die and the 10th DI, down one of its regiments, is not in a position to win the decision. A little further on, it is the 6th RTS which faces the last regiment of the 157. GbJg Division at the Chaudière Pass. The Senegalese, who have been in the lead since the beginning of the attack, are very tired; they do not attempt to assault this terrain, especially since the division's axis of advance is now due west, in order to engage the enemy paratroopers in the Saou Gap. There, the 3rd RTM, in spite of the support of the I/7 RCA, is unable to cross the obstacle, held by the 6. and 7. FJ Rgt, well supported by their artillery. The 21st Zouaves spend the day in the rear, securing the area.
In the Montélimar plain, the German units finish their retreat by reaching the next line of defense, on the other side of the Kessel. The French armored vehicles enter the plain by crossing the Roubion, either by fording the river or by building bridges to replace those bridges that the Germans had conscientiously blown up. The progression is difficult because of the numerous mines and explosive devices sown on the roads, and especially anti-tank guns, which try to align the French armoured vehicles at a distance of more than 2,000 meters. During this time, mixed with the two DB, the 14th DI ensures a precious work of support in the first line and cleaning up in the rear. It is moreover to the 6th RI of this division that the liberation of Montélimar will be attributed to, officialized during the day.

The Belgians advance...
- The 1st Ardennais comes to help the 26th US-IR, which is stuck in the fighting for Saint-Martin d'Ardèche, at the exit of the gorges. Threatened with being overrun, the 265. Grenadier of the 165. ID withdraws in the hills. The 7th Ardennais, benefiting from French and American air support, pushes the 15th Grenadier of the 189. RD, which has already been weakened by a month of fighting, as well as the 106. and 213. armored battalions, which had accompanied it since the beginning of this new campaign. During this time, the Tancrémont armored brigade makes the fastest possible jump and manages to join the 15th DBLE at the end of the day in Bourg Saint-Andéol.
Faced with the growing danger, Rommel decides to engage the 243. ID, which has just arrived in France. It would consolidate the front and allow the withdrawal of various elements that would join the new 77. ID, which is being formed in the Grenoble area from the remains of the 242., 244. and 338. ID.
The progress of the two Ardennes regiments also leads to a new redeployment of the KG Bumm (Pionnier Btn 512 and Sturm Abt 341) around Saint Remèze. Its mission is to rescue what is left of the 189. RD, in the middle of a debacle. To prepare for any eventuality, the 2. Panzer, coming from the northern part of France, is placed in reserve in the region of Valence, while the newly formed 503. Spz Abt and its Tiger tanks are allocated to Lemelsen's 1. Armee in order to counter the arrival on the front of a new large American armored unit, the first elements of which are seen on the front. According to the intelligence, this unit would come from Italy.

... and the Americans are getting stronger
On the coast, the bulk of the Spearhead Division has finished landing. Only the services and a few other units will still put ashore in the coming days, disembarking from their liberty ships at the floating docks of Fos or Caronte.

Gulf of Fos - The Luftwaffe, completely outclassed by the Allied fighters, was unable to launch massive bomber raids to disorganize the Allied logistics, either against the against the port of Marseille or the various unloading points of the Gulf of Fos.
Nevertheless, in order to obey orders from Berlin to "destroy the Allied naval forces and convoys on the coasts of Provence" (according to the terms used by Hermann Göring), raids of four or five bombers episodically attempt to attack the ships anchored in the Gulf of Fos or leaving it. These raids take place a little after dawn to benefit from the discretion of a night approach and to be able to bomb with precision thanks to the first light of the day.
Thus, on the morning of October 11th, six Heinkel 111 of II/KG 26 coming from Italy (Luftflotte 5) surprise a convoy coming out of the Gulf of Fos and bound for Algiers. The surprise effect is relative because, alerted by the escorts who had detected the attackers on radar, the merchant ships have gained speed and are ready to maneuver. On board the escorts and the escorted ships, the anti-aircraft teams are at their combat stations, according to the instructions in force for all ships off the coast of Provence. The intensity of the fire from the anti-aircraft guns discourage five attackers, who flee northwards after having launched from too far away to hope of getting a hit on the ships, which zigzag with a nice ensemble - and before the Allied fighters can intervene.
The sixth, however, persists and attacks a small ship*, placed in close proximity to the left column, which seemed an easy prey to the pilot. Unfortunately for him, his target is the old Sidi Brahim of the SGTMV, a tough guy! Built in 1910 in Great Britain for the needs of the postal line Marseille - Oran, it had obtained in 1916 an Official Testimony of Satisfaction for having repulsed a U-Boot that was firing at it.
Described as a "good walker, good roller" by its successive crews, the mixed liner is also known to be very maneuverable. Also, as soon as it sees the torpedo detached from the attacking aircraft, the C.L.C. Mourard makes a round turn to port to come on course, parallel to the threat. At the same time, the Œrlikon on the port side and the Browning machine gun in place oon the port wing of the bridge spit shells and bullets on the plane which is moving against the ship's side. At a distance of less than 200 meters, the two pointers do not waste their ammunition and the left engine of the Heinkel starts to vomit a black smoke streaked with flames while the rear control surfaces are chopped up by 20 mm shells and 13.2 mm bullets**.
The German pilot has no other option than to ditch the plane. An American patrol boat rushes to pick up the airmen, who are brought ashore and testify to the intelligence officer who interrogates them, their admiration for this valiant little ship which had defended itself so bravely - and effectively. The pilot officer even adds that he had chosen it as a target because it was the smallest ship in the convoy.
The Sidi Brahim is awarded a Divisional Citation. But above all, until the sale of the ship in 1951, the crew of the mixed liner was proud to show the curious the silhouette of an airplane painted on the chimney.

* She was only 2,426 tx and just under 103 m long.
** In 1939, the French Navy had purchased Browning 12.7 mm guns (which it preferred to the Hotchkiss) modified by Herstal to fire the 13.2 mm ammunition.
12/10/43 - Occupied Countries
October 12th, 1943

Across Germany
- The Gestapo is conducting a gigantic sweep. Heinrich Himmler's sinister men in black are by now accustomed to doing this in the four corners of occupied Europe, but in the Reich itself, the fashion had gone out of fashion somewhat since the beginning of the war. The main targets of this raid? Among others, the participants in a reception given last month by Frau von Tadden, most of whom are known to be members of the "Solf Circle", one of the most important networks of the "intellectual opposition" in a country where political parties other than the Nazi party have been banned for ten years now.
A blow for the anti-Nazi resistance? Perhaps. However, of the 70 people targeted by the operation, only half ended up in the Gestapo jails. A longer preparation by Himmler's men could have made the operation more effective - in the upper echelons of the Gestapo, one is surprised that the Reichsführer SS insisted on launching the operation very quickly, which was initially intended to hit all members of the Solf Circle, even the most minor ones.
If Himmler decided to rush things, it is first of all because of the state of nervousness in which the high command is under after the success of the Allied landings in Provence. There are now three fronts in Europe in addition to the Russian front, and Germany's situation is more and more delicate. But then, Himmler prefersto use the pretext of the Wieblingen reception to catch a bigger fish... Nothing less than Admiral Canaris and his Abwehr, vitiated by factious people of all stripes. What is the link with the Solf Circle? Indirect and subtle, as is often the case between the protagonists of the Führer's first circle.
With his eye on the resources of the Abwehr, which he would like to see subjected to his authority, or even merged with his RSHA, Himmler deplores the lack of efficiency of the Army's intelligence services which led the Reich to have several unpleasant surprises for which it was not prepared. The Red Army will undoubtedly be defeated in the end, but it is much stronger than it was presented. If the Italian betrayal of December 1942 was well foreseen, the overthrow of Mussolini, which made it possible, was not anticipated, let alone avoided. And the allied landing, envisaged in the north of Italy, took place in Provence... This was too much for Himmler, who decided to release Canaris and precipitate his downfall. But how? When one is as weakened as the Admiral, a final blow, even if it's only a rough one, can be enough...
Otto Kiep of the OKW is a proven member of the Solf Circle. But he also happens to be a very close friend of Count Helmuth James von Moltke, an Abwehr officer and a protégé of Admiral Canaris. Moltke, with his illustrious name, was also known to Himmler's services as an opponent to Adolf Hitler's regime, because he was very critical of his regime. What is more, this officer refuses to wear the uniform... Use Kiep to catch Moltke in order to reach Canaris. A three-cushioned billiard shot that will not go without some unexpected consequences... Ironically, von Moltke had just spent several days trying to warn Kiep after learning that Kiep was going to be arrested - he did not know that he was also one of the targets of the raid!
The news of the arrest of a high-ranking Abwehr legal officer, close to its director, a few months after his number 2 had been placed under house arrest, was for the Führer was just one more drop in an already full vase, as it came one month after Operation Dragon had struck in Provence, while it was expected to be much further east, even in the Adriatic. For a long time satisfied with the services of Canaris, Hitler listened to the insistent whispers that questioned his competence, even his loyalty, and began to have serious doubts about the Abwehr and its leader. For now, he congratulates the Gestapo, which has been able to bring down this clique of remnants of the old decadent and degenerate Prussia. This is a very sweet congratulation for Heinrich Himmler, who sees his ambition to subdue the Abwehr close to being realized and who scores precious points in his struggle for influence with Göring, whose Luftwaffe is constantly losing its battles in all the skies of Europe.
The Kreisau Circle (which, in contrast to the Solf Circle, consisted mainly of military men), is severely affected: von Moltke was one of its main leaders. The very name of the organization comes from the fact that the group's meetings took place in Kreisau, in Silesia, on Moltke's property. But nature abhors a vacuum, so the movement almost naturally undergoes a sudden change of direction. The majority of the members of the movement were in favour of von Moltke's non-violent convictions, for whom physically attacking Hitler would make him a martyr and would ultimately be counterproductive, the members of the Circle, impressed and frightened by the raid on the Solf Circle, have a flash of insight. They decide to side with the most radical of the movement, von Tresckow and von Stauffenberg, the most determined to put an end to Adolf Hitler himself.
12/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 12th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tiger

Colonel Cochran had promised massive air support the previous day to the commander of the 3rd West African Brigade. Two hours after sunrise, a loud roar is heard over Mae Sot and huge explosions sweep over part of the Japanese positions north of the city, stopping only a few hundred meters from the African positions. This spectacular bombing is due to thirty four-engine planes coming from China (fifteen B-24 and as many B-17s); it would later be said that it would inspire similar attacks in Europe.
Philip Cochran will affirm that the idea came to him while reading the reports on Operation Vautour in Indochina a few months earlier.
Informed by a message transmitted at first light, General Gillmore quickly orders the positions to be clearly marked and to be ready to assault. As soon as the last bomb fall, the African Chindits set off. In the middle of huge craters, they discover dead, wounded and especially haggard Thai soldiers, who surrender or flee at the approach of the Commonwealth troops - it seems that the moral effect was more powerful than the damage actually caused. Mae Sot is quickly bypassed, despite a few skirmishes.
The orders are to move a few miles away, on the border, to Myiawaddy. It is there that at the end of the day, the brigade sees arriving, coming from the west, the advanced elements of the Wiltshire Yeomanry, 9th Armored Brigade, followed by a battalion of the 1st Burma Brigade.
For his first engagement, General Gillmore is very proud of his men: in a few days of a difficult march, where the terrain was often a more difficult obstacle than the enemy, they marched more than 100 kilometers into Thai territory, carrying with them almost all their supplies. In Rangoon, when the headquarters hears that the 3rd West African Brigade has reached Myiawaddy, it orders the 111th Brigade of the 3rd Indian Division, held in reserve for this purpose, to join it, accompanied by a section of artillery and a section of self-propelled guns. These reinforcements will arrive the day after tomorrow at the end of the day.
Further south, the 12th and 55th Japanese Divisions retreat in good order in front of the 19th and 8th Indian Divisions, supported by Hurricanes and Blenheims (relayed at night by the Belgian and Indian Night Battles). If for the 12th Division, the exercise is relatively simple, the 55th Division, which had suffered more severe losses since the beginning of the campaign, is threatened with encirclement from the Kyondoe bridgehead. In addition, the terrain cut the division off from one of its regiments, putting it at risk of an infiltration. Lastly, supplies are not forthcoming in a timely manner.
Towards Moulmein, the day passes without any action other than air raids and artillery duels. On the ground, the British officers note that the Japanese artillery does not have its usual bite: they attribute this fact to the effectiveness of the air support, although some think that the Japs are short of ammunition.
The allied system is finally organized, with the 5th British ID between the 14th and 8th Indian Divisions.
Further and further to the north-east of the front, the Belgian Public Force arrives at the village of Homein, on the Burma-Thailand border, for a maneuver whose details will remain secret for a long time. The idea is to enter Thailand without any fanfare and to cross from west to east the region that separates Burma from Laos at this location.
The aim of this maneuver was twofold: firstly, in a general strategic framework to show Bangkok that the Allies have the means to invade Thai territory on a large scale. Secondly, and above all, to send reinforcements to Laos by taking the most convenient routes, which pass through Thailand and reduce the travel time by many weeks! Of course, these reinforcements would be useless if the troops in question were to exhaust themselves by forcing their way through. Also one has planned, on the advice of old connoisseurs of the area, to provide general Gilliaert a redoubtable weapon although of oldest times... By chance, it turns out that Belgium, if its resources in men are limited, has ammunition for this weapon.
This very special maneuver is baptized with authority (and officially!) by Gilliaert "Operation Manneken Pis".

Operation Tigertooth
In the morning, the men of Column A spot Japanese climbing the slopes of the hills where the column had taken position. Unaware of the presence of column A, they attempt to infiltrate to the left wing of C to overrun its positions at the Three Pagodas after dark. The officers order the Royal Scots and the Gurkha Rifles to hold their fire until the last moment. When they begin to fire, they mow down dozens of men at once. The Japanese, surprised, can only fall back to their starting positions, but at this moment, the paratroopers on the opposite side of the hill start to attack. At the end of a wild fight, the Japanese elements are put to flight or exterminated. Their leader, the officer who had organized the attack, is one of the last to fall, katana in hand, defying half a dozen kukri bearers.
In the afternoon, Orde Wingate and his column finally reach "Buckingham Palace" after some minor clashes that the air support allowed to overcome without difficulty. Initially, the W column was the most northerly one, but it is now in the last position, the most southerly one, in the system. Everything goes as planned, or almost so, but the men are nevertheless slimmed down and exhausted.
Wingate (informed that an important political evolution is underway in Bangkok) decides to start moving back to the Burmese side the next day. The 77th then moves northward along the River Kwai and the old "death line" while continuing to destroy the Japanese rear lines. The paratroopers will escort the liberated prisoners (and partly armed with captured rifles) by another way, more to the east (and safer, they hope). At the end of the day, column C begins to move, accompanied by the prisoners, towards the positions of the paratroopers, located a few kilometers to the north, on the Burmese side of the border.

Thailand... rebalances itself
Bangkok, 11:00
- The new Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Chumbhot Paribatra, very kindly receives the Japanese ambassador. He explains to him that the Emperor could be assured of the loyalty of the Siamese ally. Moreover, having heard that the soldiers of the tenno know some light and temporary difficulties on the front of the Salween, Mr. Paribatra affirms that the Royal Thai Army makes a strong effort to defend the western border of the country. As a result, the Japanese forces can devote themselves to the defense of the part of Burma they occupied. Their supply through Thailand will remain assured... as long as the Imperial Army keeps control of the Burmese side of the border.
East of Thailand, no problem either: the Japanese forces can devote themselves to... let's say, maintaining order in the provinces of Laos and Cambodia that they occupy. For its part, the Thai army will take care of the provinces that it controls - as is only natural: these are, of course, Thai provinces which were only temporarily under the control of the French colonizer.
"In general," Paribatra summarizes, "the Thai government understands very well that the Japanese forces defend Japanese interests wherever they are challenged. Since these interests were in no way endangered in the Kingdom, on the contrary, the Imperial Army can redeploy to Malaya the forces (air forces in particular) which are currently in Thai territory." This advice is of course given in all friendship by Thailand to Japan...
The ambassador has had time to reflect and especially to exchange a series of messages with Tokyo on the one hand, and with the command of the 7th Army, on the Salween front, on the other. He knows that the military situation has become very delicate - and that is an understatement. Neutralizing Thailand would make it a buffer territory between the Allies and occupied Indochina and would allow the Japanese forces to have to defend only a very narrow front, north of the Kra Isthmus. This is why he responds to Prime Minister Paribatra that the government of His Imperial Majesty understands very well the desire of the Thai people to defend with the Thai forces Thai interests in Thailand, in full agreement with its great ally, Japan.
In the next few hours, the Imperial Army and Navy staffs will contact their counterparts in the Kingdom to redeploy to Malaysia or Indochina, as the case may be, the Japanese fighting forces still based in Thailand, while ensuring the supply of Japanese units deployed in Burma.
The question of the Kra Isthmus - where the southern extension of Thailand separates Burma from Malaysia - will not cast a shadow on this beautiful agreement. The Japanese know very well that the Thai army is absent and that, if the troops of Malaysia are brought to penetrate there to reinforce the Burma front or, unfortunately, if those of Burma are forced to retreat, the government of Bangkok will be satisfied to be deeply saddened and to raise a solemn protest until the situation is normalized.
No sooner has this friendly conversation ended - with oaths of eternal friendship between the Empire and the Kingdom - that Mr. Paribatra orders his secretariat to organizee for the following day an important radio speech intended for the people of Thailand. He also orders to summon for the following day (very politely and very discreetly) the American chargé d'affaires, with whom he must have a capital interview.

Indochina Campaign
Hoa Binh, 00:30
- The airfield garrison is suddenly awakened from its sleep by a string of small explosions on the side of the barracks. Believing in a ground attack by the Franco-Vietnamese, everyone rushes to his post, waiting for the enemy assault. But nothing happens before another series of detonations, this time from the hangars. A sound of engines in the sky, restarted after a gliding approach, makes everyone understand that it is a new intrusion of the Lysanders of the "Louvre". The raging, but late, bursts of flak only graze the last aircraft.

Nong Khai (Laos), 00:45 - Fifteen British bombers come to finish their work of destruction on the station (or what is left of it...). They finish making the tracks unusable, but the most beautiful blow is the destruction of two gasoline wagons, whose fire illuminates the surroundings and provokes a movement of panic in the city.

Vientiane - Twice during the day, a few aircraft from Squadrons 341 and 343 come to attack any target of interest in the area. A B-25 is shot down by a lucky flak hit, but the Thai fighters seem to have vanished into thin air. Within the Thai ranks, this harassment begins to wear on the men and many begin to wonder if Vientiane is really worth the daily exposure to the bullets and bombs of allied aircraft.

New Guinea Campaign
Salamaua-Lae Campaign
Battle of Mount Tambu
- Colonel Charles Davidson is very keen to show himself as a model officer. Although he is Australian, with his thin mustache and his hair slicked back, he looks more like the typical image of the elegant and phlegmatic English officer, with a polished language and the accent of the most prestigious Public Schools*. However, maintaining this image is now costing him a lot of effort.
The 42nd Btn and the 2/5th Btn, under his command, were given the mission to capture Mount Tambu. Unfortunately, the preparations for the attack did not go well. The Japanese kept launching counter-attacks that disrupted the deployment of the Australians. For a few minutes, while following with binoculars the duel between his mortars and those of the enemy, he was still disturbed by the fire of the Vickers machine guns, which were keeping the Japs at bay.
As if to restore some serenity to the colonel, three Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers appear in the sky (they were former French aircraft given to the RAAF when the men of the 52nd E-ACCS left for Europe). They dive to attack Japanese pillboxes hanging on the slopes of a wooded hill. But in spite of the string of explosions on the hillside, the Japanese mortars start to answer to their Australian colleagues as soon as the planes leave.
Annoyed, Davidson grabs the field telephone next to the green-smeared green map in the center of his makeshift CP. At the other end of the line are the gunners serving his only heavy piece, an Ordnance QF 4.5-inch "light" howitzer. This 114 mm howitzer is of an old and obsolete model (the last pieces were withdrawn from service in 1944), but it is relatively light and not very bulky, which makes it very convenient in the jungle. Very quickly, the howitzer joins its voice to that of the mortars.
All day long, artillery and air force attacks continue to reduce the hill occupied by the Japanese. At times, the Australians launch probes to reconnoiter the enemy position, but every move they made is targeted by FMs and grenade launchers deployed by an invisible enemy.
Two hours before nightfall, Colonel Davidson recalls his men. Gradually, the shooting becomes sporadic.
Taking advantage of the twilight, Lockheed C-60 Lodestars of the NEIAF come to drop metal containers. Immediately, the Papuan carriers leave to search for the packages. The Dutch planes supply the front line with efficiency, but to distribute food and ammunition to the different units, the arms and legs of the porters remains the only practical means in this jungle, while the Lodestar move away, mission accomplished. This one is not without danger: the parachute drops are made close to the front line and often, Japanese fighters come to try to surprise the choice targets that are the transports.

Sino-Japanese war
Operation Zhulin
Jiangxi -
The advance of the 200th Armored Division towards Nanchang continues at such a pace that the 27th and 31st Divisions, which are only partially motorized (especially the 31st), begin to have difficulty keeping up. But Gen. Liu Zhi, in charge of Operation Zhulin, decides to focus on speed in order to prevent the Japanese defenses from recovering, at the risk of stretching the 30th Army's logistical train.

* After the war, Charles Davidson will use this image to make a career in politics. He was member of the Australian Parliament from 1946 to 1963, before being made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in June 1964.
12/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 12th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev-TBT
Sector of the 1st Ukrainian Front, 06:55
- On the banks of the Zbruch and Zherd'* rivers, it is not far from freezing. The sun has not yet come out and it will be half an hour before the light comes. For several hours already, however, the soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Airborne Corps (M.F. Tikhonov and V.A. Glazunov) have been crossing the river in order to secure the land and the crossing areas.
Mostly, the paratroopers catch isolated Landsers of the 125. ID (Wilhelm Schneckenburger) unawares, which had to defend a front of 35 kilometers with the only reinforcement of the 909. StuGAbt (Major Rossi). Of course, not everything goes well: small arms fire and cannonade can be heard in the distance. However, nothing, absolutely nothing of this can prepare the German infantrymen for what was about to come upon them.
At his advanced headquarters in Svyatets' (only 8 kilometers from the front), Konstantin Rokossovsky does not have the luxury to doubt - and even less reasons to do so. Zhukov - who himself spent a good part of the night in this sector, before going back down to the south, in order to take care of Bar's business - was categorical. The disproportion of forces is overwhelming and the stakes are high. Break through or die, that is the mission of the 1st Ukrainian Front. Everything else - losses, flanks, destruction - is only as important as their impact on the rest of the operation.
It is 7 am. A pale sun seems to rise with difficulty... And the artillery of two armored corps and a cavalry corps open fire on the German positions, before men and armoured vehicles set off. It is going to be a long day.
Brutally seized by the extreme vigor of the Soviet action, which benefits moreover from the support of Sergei Rudenko's 16th Air Army, the 125. ID is literally swept along the banks. At 10:00, it has already yielded 4 km. By noon, it is submerged at the Lanivtsi, Osnyky, Bilozirka and Pal'chyntsi crossing points (from north to south). Crushed by the Russian steamroller, the division has to retreat in haste to avoid being completely destroyed.
Schneckenburger calls for help, of course, but because of the lack of available reserves in his rear, Walter Weiß can only send him, from the south, the pair 141. ID and 905. StuG - who must however disengage beforehand in front of the 3rd Army at Chernylivka - and, from the north, the III. PanzerKorps (Werner Kempf), which is at rest near Maly Zahaitsi. In both cases, the German forces have about twenty kilometers to go before approaching the flanks of the Soviet thrust. Rudenko's "Falcons" are to turn this modest route into a ordeal. All day long, Il-2s and Tu-2s bludgeon the columns and the roads, drowning a powerless Luftflotte 4 under the number, weakened by months of confrontation and of which a great part - all the Stukas in particular - was requisitioned for the Bar offensive.
For lack of anything better, the Heinkel 111 and 177 of KG.4 are launched against the communist bridges and bridgeheads, covered by the Fw 190 of JG.51 - but 17 bombers and 9 fighters were lost: a real loss, which could not be compensated by the fall of 39 Red fighters and the destruction of two boat bridges (a third one was damaged).
In the evening, the Red Army is not in danger anywhere. The defenders have been dispersed to the four winds, the equivalent of an infantry corps has already passed on the west bank and the armor of the 2nd Mechanized Corps and the 1st Armored Guards Corps starts to cross.
As for the counter-attacks coming from the south and the north, they are both in preparation and poorly engaged. If the 141. ID (Heinz Hellmich) is doing well, being brought up at its own pace from Chernylivka, Werner Kempf and his panzers suffer uninterrupted aerial assaults, which cost 31 planes to the VVS but also made the III. PzK lose 24 tanks, nearly fifty trucks and semi-trailers, and above all long hours. The 6., 7. and 8. Panzer (reinforced by the 203. StuG, which has been accompanying them for some time) will deploy tonight. Fortunately for Kempf, darkness falls early in the season - at 16:45.
Nevertheless, after the Geländer des Todes, here is the Todesstraße, the Road of Death! Under a hostile sky and facing a numerically superior enemy, the Heer is not able to launch a single offensive action! Like in a nightmare, Walter Weiß's 8. Armee thus replays Sedan - but on the wrong side...
This glorious surprise is soon known throughout the Soviet front, where the news spread like wildfire. Deserting the 3rd Ukrainian Front (where nothing interesting was interesting), Vassili Grossman hurriedly climbs into a plane that takes him to Rokossovsky's HQ. In the evening, he notes in his notebook, with the bitterness of one who has not been warned: "in the dust, in the smoke, in the middle of the flow of thousands of vehicles, we enter the village of Svyatets'. How can we find people we know in this terrible tohu-bohu? Suddenly, I see a car with beautiful new tires. I announce, prophetically: "This car with incredible tires can belong either to Rokossovsky or the correspondent of Tass**, Major Lipavsky. We enter the house: a soldier sitting at a table eating borstch. "Who is staying in this house?" - "Major Lipasvski, correspondent of Tass," answers the soldier. Everyone looks at me in admiration. I understand how Newton felt when he discovered the law of universal gravitation.

Sector of the 2nd Ukrainian Front - Here, too, the situation is hot - but it is the Red Army is the one to suffer.
Facing the announced storm, Ivan Bagramyan's 2nd Ukrainian Front is as ready as it can be. At least it was already warned - unlike the Germans who were surprised at the same time south of Lanivtsi. At 07:30 exactly (Germanic precision!) the rescue force moves eastward, advancing with power but without much imagination along two axes constrained: Vovkovyntsi- Klopotivtsi and Vovkovyntsi-Vasyutyntsi. It aims at taking in vice the crossroads of Horyany and threaten to encircle and crush the entire right flank of the 59th Army of Ivan Korovnikov - which will have either to withdraw or to be folded on the banks of the river and then annihilated.
The Red Army reacts with the energy of despair. If the 17th Air Force cannot give all its measure in front of the Bf 109 of all the JG.52 (which get 35 victories*** for only 7 losses), Bagramian nevertheless had Andrei Getman's 16th Armored Corps counter-charge, while preparing the 3rd CB to cross the River at Bar in order to flank the Fascists.
to flank the Fascists. Severely mistreated by motivated panzers, well supported by the Stukas and almost as numerous as his tanks, Getman has to withdraw, having lost no less than 83 machines! The SS and the "Guards of Honor" have only to charge to break through the infantry line before eliminating the survivors. At least that is what they
Because, in Klopotivtsi as in Vasyutyntsi, a grain of sand will seize the Nazi machine. In fact, many grains of sand, in fact: the Soviet infantrymen live up to their reputation of bravery, preferring to let themselves be crushed on the spot rather than flee, literally putting their hand into the German death machine to pin it down with their flesh. Later, Grossman will collect several testimonies of these terrible hours - although from anti-tank artillerymen in the second line, and obviously screened by the censors, they keep an intact evocative force.
"The German air force is bombing, we are in the smoke, the fire, and the men have become savages, they shoot without paying attention to the rest. I myself was wounded seven times.
The enemy tanks have managed to penetrate the corner, the infantry is shaken.
Incessant thunder, the earth shaking, fire all around, we shout. On the radio, the Germans are trying to deceive us, they shout: "I am Nekrassov, I am Nekrassov!" I shouted, "You're talking nonsense, it's not you, get out of here! They cover our voices with screaming. The Messers were prowling over our heads, Sergeant Ourbissoupov with his machine gun shot down one of them as it swooped down on him. The Messers bombarded the trenches, first lengthwise, then crosswise, in order to spray all the blind spots.
We did not sleep all night. For the quieter it is, the more the tension rises. It is much quieter when the fight is going on, and it is then that sleep overtakes you.
We eat in spurts and at full speed. The food instantly turns black with dust, especially the fatty bacon
Unfortunately for these gunners, the fight is not over - and neither is their story...
In the evening, SS-PanzerKorps and GrossDeutschland have advanced 5 km on one axis, 8 km on the other - the German assault is not stopped, but it gets stuck in the middle of the entrenchments that the 59th Army have set up on its route to channel its advance. These include several anti-tank redoubts, which have to be reduced by force one by one.
The Red Army, which can neither maneuver nor give up ground, takes the blows and simply suffers. At the end of the day, the Fascists see the river in their binoculars, while Vasily Badanov's tanks pass through the ruins of Bar to get into position.

Bar pocket - Throughout the night, the 2nd Shock Army continues to push north of the Kessel towards Mizhlissya, attempting to drive the besieged south to oppose the forces trying to rescue the besieged an additional barrier: the Riv, which the SS would have to cross in order to accomplish their mission. Kuzma Galitsky does not succeed completely - at daybreak, part of the encircled Fascists is still east of Man'kivtsi, on the way to survival.
While the smoke of the fighting by the rescue force rises to the horizon, the troops of the pocket continue to resist the push of the 2nd Shock Army - with still less means but with a much better morale, while their adversary is now fighting without armor support, and with a right flank threatened by the terrible fight in progress in the Horyany area. The IV. ArmeeKorps (Erwin Jaenecke), which defends the northern part of the Kessel, holds on to the ground. However, it had to gradually gives up its meager salvation on the "good" side of the Riv - the fault of an ever decreasing supply (43 tons today!).
As the fighting shifts to Stepanky's pseudo-airfield, the crew of the wrecked Junkers 52 is fighting for its life. The airmen spend the night tinkering with their controls by the light of fire and the rhythm of the gunfire. With derisory means, they manage to repair the left aileron, which should be able to hold at least for a while. Refueled, its engines still healthy, the plane can (theoretically!) fly... as long as it can take off ! Because from now on, we fight all around him: the Reds are at 500 meters - they have snipers, mortars and artillery. It is doubtful that they are watching the bird without doing anything.
For the crew, too, it was time to decide. To flee and risk a quick but flamboyant death? Or stay here and tie their fate to this dying pocket? As good aviators, they will opt for the way of the birds... However, they are not out of the woods: because before facing the Soviets, they have to face... their compatriots! Indeed, the news of the departure made the turn of the ground and attracted a horde of mislaid, deserters or unhappy Landsers without any assignment for the current operations and who literally fight to get on board, in spite of the instructions and the calls for discipline, even simple reason. Finally, it is obvious that the Ju 52 will never be able to take on board the mass of men who are piling up all around and trying to enter! Finally, the drama breaks out: the co-pilot has to fire several shots to close the door, with the help of several passengers (one of whom was a policeman who had conveniently boarded the plane to "maintain order"). The bullets are fired in the air - but not all... The crowd gives way to light for a brief moment before someone finally slams the door. Darkness returns in the apparatus, agitated by vibrations and resounding of dull rumblings.
Now alone with his destiny - if we except the tragic cohort which runs after him and tries to cling to the landing gear - the three-engine, 31-passenger plane hurtles down the ravaged runway without even trying to avoid possible gunfire. It's make or break!
After a moment of astonishment (they did not think it possible!), the Soviets give their tubes one last time, which spray the plane while it takes speed. Bang, an impact on the left flank. Bang, another one on the right wing! Boom, the left aileron has eaten it! Now, the right engine is making a worrying sound, not to mention the oil flooding the wing...
Finally, against all odds, the bird takes off and heads west. A final shell tears off the fairing of the left wheel, while a piece of rudder comes off. The three-engine plane tilts, seems to recover, then tilts again before disappearing on the horizon... We will not see it again**** - just as we will not see any German operational aircraft at Stepanky.

HG NordUkraine (Kovel), 18:30 - Coming out of a hectic staff conference to think in calm - we are constantly disturbed here, whether by Rastenburg or by messages from the front, where the situation is changing by the hour! - Erich von Manstein sinks heavily into an armchair for a moment of silence. He, who is still mourning the death of his son - among so many wounds - is now faced with a terrible dilemma: to leave the two army corps in the Bar pocket to their fate or to leave the whole of the 8. Armee to be threatened with destruction. For, despite the illusions of the Wolfschanze, it is already seems obvious that neither Kempf nor Hellmich will be able to throw the Reds back into the water alone!
Damn Russians, unable to recognize the superiority of the Wehrmacht - like the French in truth, all stubborn, these communists, in the East as in the West! In short... the situation around Ternopol is critical, even catastrophic.
And yet, in Rastenburg, we do not see things in the same way. Sharpened by the SS, Hitler even said: "If the Russians advance to Ternopol, all the better. Hausser's panzers will flank them, drive them back to the Seret and then annihilate them!" No doubt, it is easy to move blocks on a map... Even if Hausser re-establishes the link with the Kessel tomorrow, he would need at least 72 hours to reach the Ternopol sector! What situation would he find there? And in what condition would his forces be when he arrived there?
In short, all this is ridiculous. But for the time being, a FührerBefehl forbids to call off the attack on Bar - only, it is just as unthinkable to let the Reds surge to Ternopol with impunity! The HG NordUkraine has no choice - until Rastenburg has come to its senses, it must seal the gaps, hinder the opponent on its flanks, gain time and hope for a miracle. Thank God, Manstein still has the authorization to maneuver as he wishes - because the days to come will be complex. But isn't he still the "Genius of Defense" praised by the propaganda? He will necessarily know how to do whatever is necessary to save his forces... "whatever it takes".

* The Zbruch is a tributary of the Zherd', which itself only flows for about 15 kilometers before it flows into the Horyn. In order to simplify the story, we will only talk about the Zbruch, which is the main river crossed - just as, when describing the previous engagements, we spoke only of the Horyn itself when it was in fact the Zbruch or the Zherd'.
** The Telegrafnoye Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza (Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union), which had the exclusive right to collect and distribute domestic and international information in the USSR. From the Stalinist point of view, it was far from the modest cabbage sheet for frontovikis that was the Krasnaya Zvezda...
*** Two of which were for Barkhorn and one for Hartmann, who was returning from a well-deserved vacation after his past adventures ! However, the miraculous ace is not far from being shot down again - as often, he will only find salvation due to his deceptive rudder game (intended to lure the opponent on the trajectory followed by the plane) as well as by violent blows of the stick from one corner to the other of his cockpit...
**** This aircraft probably crashed in the region of Ternopol. We will never identify it formally for lack of archives, even if a rumor has since attributed to it the name of Wallenstein. The fate of its crew as well as of its passengers remains unknown. Some romantic or supposedly Cartesian minds, refusing to admit that pilots could have taken so many risks to evacuate a modest handful of panicked individuals, imagined much later that the plane was carrying a load of stolen gold, Ukrainian nationalists responsible for the trap set for Vatutin, or even defecting scientists capable of creating the ultimate Wunderwaffe against the Red tanks... The Wallenstein affair even inspired a novelist who, based on information from the famous pilot and secret agent Biggles, claimed that the plane had finally crashed in the Carpathian forest, with a sinister cargo on board... But Squadron-Leader Bigglesworth never confirmed this fantasy.
12/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 12th, 1943

Italian Campaign
Italian front
- At the end of the morning, the men of the 1st Brigade, helped by the divisional artillery and by the "Sanglier" of the Military Aeronautics finish without difficulty to take the hill of the bats. In fact, the enemy infantrymen withdrew under the cover of night, leaving only here and there some delaying elements.
The losses of these three days of fighting are nevertheless significant enough for the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Grenadiers to add a bat to its crest.

Greek and Balkan Campaign
The pause in operations is prolonged, while each belligerent continues its preparations.
However, if the front is calm, the same could not be said for the rear.

Return to the country
- The 2nd Bulgarian Army abandons Drama to enter the Paranesti valley - in the meantime, the coastal troops will prevent any encirclement by retreating on foot from Kavala towards Nea Karvali and Pontolivado.
The Bulgarian forces thus leave behind them a region where they had carried out ferocious operations in 1941 to repress the Resistance. Unfortunately, these operations have left traces and, like in Serres, the Greeks (civilians, Partisans or soldiers) do not seem to be able to support any more the presence of their Slavic fellow-citizens. Again, columns of civilians form at the exit of the city, then undertake to follow the retreating soldiers, but without always being able to maintain their rhythm on the mountain roads - moreover, these unfortunate people do not have the protection of Velchev's 16th Division. The "suitcase or the coffin" becomes too often "the suitcase and the coffin", because the latecomers are taken in ambushes worthy of the cutthroats of the past - the number of murdered civilians among these exiles could never be determined with precision. However, the documented disappearance of entire families can give an indication of the scale of the massacres, and the figure of 1,500 dead is mentioned for the region of Drama.
Only one vaguely positive point emerges from this misfortune: the SS sent to "solve the Jewish problem" run out of time and only 135 of them are killed before they retreat, the murderers in black not wishing to be left alone.
Away from the tourist circuits, Drama will hardly recover after the war from this accumulation of settling of scores and ethnic cleansing. Its inhabitants can only welcome the agreement concluded between the royal authorities and ELAS, because it seems certain that a civil war between Greeks would have flattened the city and destroyed its economy. Moreover, the quality of the grounds of the plain of Drama is mediocre - still today and in spite of the modern methods, the observed outputs are very clearly inferior to those of the other European or even Greek agricultural centers.

Macedonian Gambit
- In the now famous conference room of the 18th AAG* staff, General Montgomery has once again summoned his people: in addition to the traditional deputies Sylvestre Audet and Panagiotis Spiliotopoulos, there are of course O'Connor and Dentz, but also Horrocks, Lavarack and Brasic.
All of them are of course accompanied by their aide-de-camp and translators - who are less and less necessary, as the months spent working together have done much to improve everyone's English.
The twenty or so people settle down in a curious calm, while Monty nervously fidgets with his stick, putting on and taking off his beret as if he were trying to show off for a photo - but no photographers. All of them have already understood that the general had something important to announce, that this something did not concern the Poles or the Czechoslovakians (thus the Albanian front) and that the Greeks would probably play only a minor role. Montgomery finally launches himself, with his usual ill-contained arrogance
- Well, gentlemen, you can imagine that we are going to talk about our next offensive against the Huns. Let's face it: our logistical situation is not very good. According to our dear Canterbry, it will not improve significantly until Salonika and the surrounding rail network are rehabilitated. The engineers work day and night, but this damned Müller has done his job well. A return to normal is not expected before the end of the month. Nevertheless, the port itself will soon be operational. Yes, I have some good news too!
However, the restoration of our communications is only part of the problem.

Monty points to an imposing file on his left and starts tapping on it as if to calm down an unruly animal - or to get rid of something you don't know what to do with.
- Deliveries of ammunition, fuel and supplies in general are sparse - the French front has priority, doesn't it, my dear Sylvestre? It is therefore unlikely that we will soon have the means for a great ride to Belgrade, as our friend General Brasic would surely like it.
At these words, the Serbian darkens. Was he brought here to tell him that he would have to camp at the gates of of his country for many months because of the French campaign? But the Briton continues.
- Rest assured, gentlemen, that I am not a man to be put off. I am not going to resign myself to playing the border guard in Albania and Greece. Between now and the snows of December, we have two long months and even if the climate is harsh in the region, in November it's not Russia!
So we have nine weeks to prepare and carry out an important action, despite the logistical constraints that we have. The German divisions are decimated, dispersed over a theater too big for them - we have to take advantage of the opportunity before the Soviets force all these people to go back to Berlin with their tails between their legs. I don't suppose anyone here wants to see Russian armor in Belgrade or Zagreb?

A pause - the approval of the Yugoslavs is obvious. Spiliotopoulos pouts a little, he was hoping that Thrace would be mentioned. The leader of the 18th AAG gets up and goes to stand in front of the map, like a teacher preparing a demonstration on the blackboard.
- We know when we can attack, we know how much time we have and we know that logistics limit the forces we can bring online - we just have to figure out where we're going to strike. Given the...technical Albania, where it seems the population is like the terrain, very difficult... I am not in favor of an action on our Adriatic flank. Moreover, to go where? To get lost in the mountains around Podgorica? No, we have to look elsewhere.
Montgomery then shifts his stick from Albania to Salonika, passing through Macedonia, before pointing to southern Bulgaria and giving a light touch to Sofia.
- Another element will help us to choose, a piece of information that not all of you have: Bulgaria is withdrawing from the conflict, definitively this time.
At these words, a good part of the audience widens its eyes and Brasic lets out a loud "Ozbiljno?".
- Moreover, and this is where it gets funny, the Germans don't know about it! Unless, of course we warn them by being clumsy. In practice, we will have to consider that Bulgaria, within its borders of 1939, is now neutral. This fact obviously closes a certain number of possibilities for us - but it also opens up new and very promising ones. It is thus advisable to preserve the secret of this... de facto neutralization. That is why, General Spiliotopoulos, I am asking you to join your efforts with those of General Audet to invite your men to press the movement, as soon as the Yugoslavian army corps is deployed. It is advisable that the 2nd Corps of General Tsolakoglou rushes on the heels of the Bulgarians in order to maintain the illusion that they have been driven out of Thrace - and I am sure that your sovereign would not understand that we are dawdling...
The Greek general takes the sarcasm without flinching, delighted with the good news: all his national territory will soon be liberated. Montgomery now turns to a beaming Brasic, because the stick has stopped on Macedonia.
- You understood that the next target is Macedonia... I mean, of course, Yugoslav Macedonia, and more precisely of the plain of Pelagonia, and our Yugoslav friends will open the ball. You know my conviction: every soldier must know, before going into battle, how the battle in which he is going to fight fits into the overall operations. Without doubt, the interest of the previous operations in Macedonia and Albania was not necessarily clear to the ordinary soldier.
But I think that nobody here will say that Belgrade is not an important objective!

No one having opened his mouth, Monty resumes: "The plan as I conceive it obeys the double principle of concentration of our forces and dispersion of the enemy's reactions. Strike hard where the enemy is weak, while sowing confusion in his mind. Now, the unfortunate difficulties of "Presage" [He sighs ruefully] have convinced me of one thing: in this region of Europe in particular, the Partisans have real nuisance capacities that we must control and use to our advantage, if only to prevent them from turning them against us! Consequently, now that Mister Hoxha and his various companions and adversaries... Well, now that all these people are more or less obeying us, we will be able to act with them."
With a wide movement, the stick then runs through the entire front line, emphasizing the words of the British general: "I am therefore planning a diversionary action by the Partisans on the rear of the entire front line until Kavadartsi. Beyond this point, in the Vardar valley, the valiant Australians and New Zealanders of General Lavarack will take over and carry out some fixation actions. Your men are exhausted, I know, John - but I only ask them to hold the attention of Herr Fehn's divisions for a day or two. Finally, in Thrace, our Greek friends will surely be delighted to be threatening all along the Bulgarian border, but without crossing it! The Germans will think - and rightly so - that you don't have enough supplies for that, but that you may well receive some. All these actions will obviously be supported by an air harassment campaign of the best effect."
Satisfied with this first part, Montgomery gives everyone time to digest his presentation and take a few notes. He smiles: the best part is coming.
- I mentioned concentration of forces... Just like at the Academy! With General Brasic's men, the XIII Corps and the armored reserve, we have four infantry divisions, two armored divisions and an armored brigade that will be able to sweep the Germans. According to the information provided by our services, they only have two or three infantry divisions in the area, which have taken quite a few hits during the Greek campaign. We will proceed in two phases. General Horrocks, I sense your concern. Don't worry, the men of the 51st Infantry will be able to rest from the siege of Salonika. On the other hand, the 4th Indian Division and the 32nd Army Tank Brigade have not had much opportunity to shine. It will be up to them to break through around Bitola with all the artillery and air support we can provide - then the Yugoslavian corps will take over. Accompanied by Gatehouse's and Gairdner's tanks, it will advance by shoving the Germans towards the mountains in the west. Of course, it might be a bit cold in this season, but the patriotic enthusiasm will warm your men, General Brasic, I'm sure! During the previous war your army did honor to its country and its king with the support of the French, it will do at least as well today with the support of the British Empire. I therefore plan to reach Skopje at D+6 and the border [he recovers]... the limits of Serbia** at D+8! Then we will rush to Belgrade!
Montgomery falls silent and silence falls in the room, while Brasic and his collaborators look at each other without a word and shake hands with emotion. Henri Dentz takesthe floor: "General, this plan of operation is bold but very coherent. It would be difficult for me to say otherwise, because it is very similar to that of Marshal Franchet d'Esperey, twenty-five years ago. Will there be no activity in the southwest sector of the theater?
- Not quite
," adds the Briton. "The two Greek mountain brigades of Tsakalotos and Katsotas will have to try to infiltrate west of Lake Ohrid, with the support of your... 107th Heavy Artillery Regiment, in order to force the Germans to withdraw to avoid an encirclement. They should not be able to re-establish a defense line towards Pristina and Vranje! The other units will remain on their feet because of our supply constraints!
- By the way
," General Audet asks, "what will happen after Skopje? Don't we risk running out of supplies?
- This is precisely the best news I wanted to give you, my dear friend. I have received personal assurance that if the German front is broken, we shall receive enough supplies from Egypt to exploit this break. And so we will be able to continue to Belgrade. There will probably be a pause, but it will be brief, and its duration will depend largely on the success of your troops, General Brasic.
The Serbian then speaks up, articulating in his characteristic accent: "We will give the War Office every reason to support our offensive, General. The Serbian people will not forget the help that you bring to them, and this testimony of the friendship of the British, French... and Greek people."
- "So we will have a 'drawer' operation, in two stages," comments O'Connor. "Do you already have a code name - or even two?
- Not yet, but since the orders will go out as soon as this meeting is over, we have to decide. Alas, I see that Colonel Morin is not here to enlighten us with his knowledge of classics.
- I am afraid that he is on an inspection tour in Albania
," says Sylvestre Audet.
- What a pity... especially for him! We will have to find a name for our "Macedonian Gambit".
Everyone looks at each other around the table, out of inspiration. Horrocks finally says: "Let's start with the initials of these two words, General, M and G. And let's take two commonplace words.
Thinking of the difficulties of circulation in Athens, where dozens of small markets installed anywhere or hinder the passage (while contributing nevertheless to solve the problems of provisioning of the population), then thinking of the gardens surrounding the royal palace, John D. Lavarack proposes: "Market" and "Garden"?"
- Perfect. Gentlemen, this will be Operation Market-Garden, to be launched in early November. The meeting is adjourned!

* Restored to its original appearance and populated with wax mannequins provided by the Grévin Museum, it is now part of a museum dedicated to the Liberation of Greece (opening hours: 09:30 - 18:30, except Sundays and Orthodox religious holidays).
** Montgomery did not mention Kosovo, a region that was under the control of Serbia until 1941. Germans and Italians had decided to take it away from Serbia and attached it to Albania, but for the Allies, it obviously remained Serbian and Yugoslav.
12/10/43 - France, End of Operation Mandragore
October 12th, 1943

The war at altitude
- The skirmishes for the possession of the refuges continue between Alpins and Alpinis. At this game, the French keep the initiative, because they are closer to their source of supply and benefit from air support, which forces the Italians to hide permanently, under penalty of being machine-gunned or mortar-fired.

Battle of Montélimar
- Little by little, the Germans consolidate their new positions while the French regain contact, but without insisting too much. Indeed, the offensive launched
ten days ago will stop there, because the two armored divisions are beginning to be at the end of their potential. The 5th armoured division is announced for the end of the month; its arrival will allow to temporarily withdraw the 3rd DB from the front to receive its new material: the Taureau tank.
The Wehrmacht also suffered serious losses. The 14. SS PzGr, which had its baptism of fire during the battle of the Vaucluse, is very tested and will give up its place in first line to the 2. Panzer. The 16. Panzer, from counter-attack to counter-attack, suffered a certain attrition, but it is not yet possible to relieve it.
If the fighting is not quite over, especially in the American sector, the protagonists all have the impression of having done their utmost with the means that were allocated to them. The Allies have nevertheless scored a psychological point by liberating a new city of some importance: Montélimar.

Going up the Ardèche
- As the 15th DBLE pushes westward through the hills, the task of securing Bourg Saint-Andéol is left to the accompanying infantry of the Tancrémont.
The Belgian armoured vehicles push some reconnaissance towards the north, but come up against a powerful enemy artillery barrage.
Meanwhile, while the 26th US-IR of the Big Red One pursues the 205. Grenadier in the hills along the Ardèche river, General Allen, the divisional commander, commits his reserves, the 18th US-IR, accompanied by the 191. Tk Bn, to support the Ardennes. It is a good thing. because the previous night, KG Bumm had covered about fifteen kilometers and can now effectively support the retreat of the 189. ID. The arrival of the 18th IR allows the situation to be unblocked at the end of the day.