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The liberation of Borneo: the dragon pushes the lion out of its most important location
The liberation of Borneo: the dragon pushes the lion out of its most important locationù
As the situation in the Philippines were turning for the better for the American-German-Japanese forces, Japan turned its eyes from the war in the Philippines and towards strategic targets in the East Indies. In December 1943, Japan attacked alone the British occupied islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java.
With its rich petroleum exploitation capacity, for instance at Tarakan, Balikpapan and Banjarmasin, Borneo was a prime target for Japan to cripple the British, which were starting to run low on resources. Guerrilla forces had attacked British positions even since the rest of the island was included in the Borneo Socialist Republic, with the Japanese being more than interested in liberating the natives in a Japanese only operation. Germany and the US gave Japan naval support for the operation.

Japanese paratroopers of the 2nd Yokosuka Naval Landing Force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Genzo Watanabe (standing on top in the left) inside a transport ship heading to Borneo prior to their invasion in December 1943
On 13 December 1943, the Japanese invasion convoy left Cam Ranh Bay in Siam, with an escort of the cruiser Yura (Rear-Admiral Shintaro Hashimoto) with the destroyers of the 12th Destroyer Division, Murakumo, Shinonome, Shirakumo and Usugumo, submarine-chaser Ch 7 and the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru Ten transport ships carried the Japanese 35th Infantry Brigade HQ under the command of Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi. The Support Force—commanded by Rear-Admiral Takeo Kurita—consisted of the cruisers Kumano and Suzuya and the destroyers Fubuki and Sagiri.
The Japanese forces intended to capture Miri and Seria, while the rest would capture Kuching and nearby airfields. The convoy proceeded without being detected and, at dawn on 16 December 1943, two landing units secured Miri and Seria with only very little resistance from British forces. A few hours later, Lutong was captured as well.
British de Havilland Mosquito bombers made attacks on Japanese shipping from their base 'Singkawang II' at Miri on 17 December, but their attempt failed. The three Avro Lancaster's followed up with their own attack, but one was shot down, possibly by a floatplane from Kamikawa Maru. The remaining two had the benefit of cloud cover, and were never seen by the Japanese. One flying boat scored two 200 kg bomb hits on Shinonome, causing a massive explosion, while a near miss ruptured its hull plating. The destroyer's stern broke off and the ship sank within minutes. The last flying boat dropped its bombs on a freighter, but missed. The Mosquito bombers made attacks at Miri 18 and 19 December, but retired to Sumatra on 23 December since Singkawang II airfield was discovered by the Japanese, who began attacking it the same day.
On 22 December a Japanese convoy left Miri for Kuching, but was spotted by a British flying boat Short S.25 Sunderland, which radioed a warning to HMS Ursula, under the command of Lt Cdr Philips. At 20:40 on 23 December Ursula infiltrated the convoy and began its attack. The army transports Hiyoshi Maru and Katori Maru were sunk with the loss of hundreds of troops. Hokkai Maru was beached to prevent it from sinking, and an additional transport was less seriously damaged. The rest of the troops were able to land. Although 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment, resisted the attack, they were soon outnumbered and retreated up the river. By the afternoon, Kuching was in Japanese hands.
On the night of 23–24 December Ursula torpedoed the Japanese destroyer Sagiri 30 Miles north of Kuching. Ursula was lost with all hands during the day by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I66.
On 24 and 28 December Mosquito bombers from a different unit flew missions against Kuching from Java. On 26 December, Mosquito's operating out of Samarinda sank a Japanese minesweeper and a collier.
Meanwhile, on 31 December 1943, the force under Lieutenant Colonel Watanabe moved northward to occupy Brunei, Labuan Island, and Jesselton (now called Kota Kinabalu). On 18 January 1944, using small fishing boats, the Japanese landed at Sandakan, the seat of government of the Borneo Socialist Republic. The Borneo Red Armed Constabulary, with only 650 men, hardly provided any resistance to slow down the Japanese invasion.
At about 16:40 on 25 December, Japanese troops successfully captured Kuching airfield. The Punjab regiment retreated through the jungle to the Singkawang area. After Singkawang was secured as well on 29 December, the rest of the British troops retreated further into the jungle southward trying to reach Sampit and Pangkalanbun, where a British airfield at Kotawaringin was located. South and central Kalimantan were taken by the Japanese Navy following attacks from east and west. The town of Pontianak was finally occupied by the Imperial Japanese forces on 29 January 1944. After ten weeks in the jungle-covered mountains, British troops surrendered on 1 April 1944.

Additional Japanese troops landing off the west coast of the Borneo Socialist Republic in Labuan, 14 January 1944
Despite the importance of the island, it was lightly protected compared to the Philippines. That was because the British had by this point abandoned the Americas and the East Indies, with the Philippines being unable to be abandoned. The British were concentrating their remaining forces in Algeria, France and their home island, as the invasion seemed inevitable. Borneo, despite being small, was a great victory for the Japanese in the East, as now they could concentrate more men in the Siberian front against the Russian-Chinese forces.
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The liberation of Florida: the bald eagle retakes its land from the lion
The liberation of Florida: the bald eagle retakes its land from the lion
During World War II, Florida proved a strategically important theater of war between American and British forces. On 22 August 1941, the British Army landed on Miami, where they engaged in strong fighting with the defenders, and managed to successfully invade and occupy the peninsula. Until 1943, Florida remained under British occupation prior to the Floridan counteroffensive.

U.S. naval force approaches the shores of Daytona Beach
Beginning on 6 November 1943, in order to create a second front in Florida, a heavy naval and air bombardment of suspected British defenses on Daytona Beach began. Underwater demolitions began, but found no beach obstacles, and encountered sparse opposing forces. Aircraft and naval artillery bombardment of the landing areas also occurred, with the remaining RAF attacking on the 7th. On the 8th, it was observed that in the town of Orlando, as a response to the pre-landing bombardment, Floridans had begun to actively fight the British; fire was shifted away from that area.
At 09:30 on 9 November 1943, about 68,000 GIs under General Joseph Stilwell of the U.S. 6th Army—following a devastating naval bombardment—landed at the coast of Daytona Beach meeting no opposition. A total of 203,608 soldiers were eventually landed over the next few days, establishing a 20 mi (32 km) beachhead, stretching from St. Augustine, Palm Coast and New Smyrna Beach (XIV Corps) to the east, and Clearwater(I Corps) to the west. The total number of troops under the command of Joseph Stilwell was reported to have even exceeded the number that McArthur controlled in the Pacific. Within a few days, the assault forces had quickly captured the coastal towns and secured the 20-mile-long (32 km) beachhead, as well as penetrating up to five miles (8 km) inland.
Despite their success in driving out the British forces stationed there, they suffered relatively heavy losses; particularly to their convoys, due to RAF attacks. From 4–12 November, a total of 24 ships were sunk and another 67 were damaged by RAF; including the battleships USS Mississippi, New Mexico and Colorado (the latter was accidentally hit by friendly fire), the light cruiser USS Columbia, and the destroyers USS Long and USS Hovey. Following the landings, the area was turned into a vast supply depot for the rest of the war to support the Battle of Florida.

A RAF aircraft hits Columbia with a bomb at 17:29, 6 November 1943
The United States Army Forces in Florida (USAFF) was composed of five infantry regiments and a field artillery battalion of about 20,000 men, and commanded by Col. Russell W. Volckmann. The troops bore the brunt of the fighting, sustaining over 3,375 casualties, including over 900 men killed, from 9 November through 15 January 1943.
The units of the USAFF that fought at the battle were the 121st, 15th, 66th, the Provisional Battalion, and the 122nd Field Artillery. They faced the 73rd Infantry and the 76th Infantry, part of the 23rd (Northumbrian) Division led by Major-General William Norman Herbert. The British forces fortified the hills and the ridges to stop any American offensive on the way to Orlando.
The initial fighting started in December 1943 with an advance inland to the town of Orlando by the 121st Infantry. After liberating Lakeland, on 23 January, the USAFF forces started the all-out assault on Orlando. However, on 17 February, the 73rd Infantry, 19th Division, made a strong counterattack, pushing back the 121st.
On 20 February, Volckmann started his renewed attack with three regiments abreast. They cleared Kissimmee and Altamonte Springs by 25 ebruary. Ocala was captured by 30 February, and Jacksonville was taken by 02 March. On 10 March, the units of 121st launched a final assault and by 14 March, the "last opposition melted away". Orlando was secured by 15 March.

Former US POWs celebrate after successful liberation of a prison camp
The liberation of Florida completely changed American war strategy. Already by December, American forces were already fighting in Nord Africa with the Iberians in operation Torch, and men under the command of Dwight D. Eisenhower worked alongside the ones of Vittorio Ambrosio in the Alpine front to push the French out. By now the British could not affort to fight in the new world, and the French had already left their territories in Canada without putting up a real fight as their mainland was on the verge of being conquered and collapsing. Thanks to American support, the situation in Western Europe was getting far better than before, which caused many to believe to this day that the West was liberated by the Americans, ignoring the sacrifices of the Central Powers, especially during the period of the German-American cold war.
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Operation Torch: the bull and the bald eagle plan to kick the rooster out of Africa
Operation Torch: the bull and the bald eagle plan to kick the rooster out of Africa
Once the situation in America was dealt with, and the Pacific was being dealt by the Japanese, the American/Central Powers planned an Iberian-American invasion of Algeria, territory in the hands of the French Commune as the Algerian Socialist Republic. With Italian forces advancing in Egypt, this would eventually allow the American/Central Powers to carry out a pincer operation against Axis/Communational forces in North Africa.
The American/Central Powers believed that the French Commune forces would not put a serious fight, partly because of information supplied by Iberian commandos. British support for the French Commune came in the shape of air support, as more troops were wirdraw into Britain itself. Several RAF bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against both the Americans and the Central Powers
General Dwight D. Eisenhower was given command of the operation, and he set up his headquarters in Tangiers.
Senior US commanders remained strongly opposed to the landings and after the American Central Powers Combined Chiefs of Staff (ACPCCS) met in Washington on 30 December 1943, General George Marshall and Admiral Ernest King declined to approve the plan. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a direct order that Torch was to have precedence over other operations and was to take place at the earliest possible date, one of only two direct orders he gave to military commanders during the war.


A map showing landings during Operation Torch
The Allies organised two amphibious task forces to simultaneously seize the key ports and airports in Algeria, targeting Oran and Algiers. Successful completion of these operations was to be followed by an eastwards advance into Tunisia to meet Italian forces. There would be later be plans for an invasion of southern France to support the German-Italian forces, who were in desperate need to send their forces in the Eastern Front and in Egypt.
A Western Task Force was composed of American units, with Major General George S. Patton in command and Rear Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt heading the naval operations. This Western Task Force consisted of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 3rd and 9th Infantry Divisions—35,000 troops in a convoy of over 100 ships. They were transported directly from the United States in the first of a new series of UG convoys providing logistic support for the North African campaign.

A shipment of Iberian Hispano HA-1109 sent by sea was assembled in just 11 days at Frente Norte del Ejército del Aire, Tangiers. Many of these Hispanos served with the United States Army Air Forces
The Center Task Force, aimed at Oran, included the U.S. 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, and the U.S. 1st Armored Division—a total of 18,500 troops. They sailed from Iberia and were commanded by Major General Lloyd Fredendall.
Torch was a landing by U.S. forces, supported by Iberian and Italian warships and aircraft, as a "revenge" for the French/British invasion of the Americas. However, King Don Juan of the Iberian Kingdom objected that the Iberians would have to be a strong fighting presence alongside the Americans under the command of Francisco Franco.
British submarines, operating in the eastern Atlantic area crossed by the invasion convoys, had been drawn away to attack trade convoy SL 125.
Aerial operations were split into two, east of Cape Tenez in Algeria, with Iberian aircraft under Air Marshal José Sanjurjo and west of Cape Tenez, all American aircraft under Major General Jimmy Doolittle, under the direct command of Major General Patton.
P-40s of the 33rd Fighter Group were launched from U.S. Navy escort carriers and landed at Port Lyautey on November 10. Additional air support was provided by the carrier USS Ranger, whose squadrons intercepted Vichy aircraft and bombed hostile ships.

USS Lakehurst (formerly Seatrain New Jersey), after discharging medium tanks at Safi, Morocco
The Center Task Force was split between three beaches, two west of Oran and one east. Landings at the westernmost beach were delayed because of a French convoy which appeared while the minesweepers were clearing a path. Some delay and confusion, and damage to landing ships, was caused by the unexpected shallowness of water and sandbars; although periscope observations had been carried out, no reconnaissance parties had landed on the beaches to determine the local maritime conditions. This helped inform subsequent amphibious assaults—such as Operation Overlord—in which considerable weight was given to pre-invasion reconnaissance.
The U.S. 1st Ranger Battalion landed east of Oran and quickly captured the shore battery at Arzew. An attempt was made to land U.S. infantry at the harbour directly, in order to quickly prevent destruction of the port facilities and scuttling of ships. The operation—code named Operation Reservist—failed, as the two Banff-class sloops were destroyed by crossfire from the French vessels there. The French naval fleet broke from the harbor and attacked the American invasion fleet, but its ships were all sunk or driven ashore.
French batteries and the invasion fleet exchanged fire throughout 8–9 January, with French troops defending Oran and the surrounding area stubbornly. Heavy fire from the Iberian battleships brought about Oran's surrender on 9 January.
Torch was the first major airborne assault carried out by the United States. The 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment flew all the way from Madrid, intending to drop near Oran and capture airfields at Tafraoui and La Sénia, respectively 15 miles (24 km) and 5 miles (8 km) south of Oran. The operation was marked by weather, navigational and communication problems. Poor weather and the extreme range caused the formation to scatter and forced thirty of the 37 aircraft to land in the dry salt lake to the west of the objective. Nevertheless, both airports were captured.
In the meantime, Algiers was not safe.
On 8 January 1944, the invasion commenced with landings split between three beaches—two west of Algiers and one east. Under overall command of Major General Charles W. Ryder, Commanding General of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, Spanish 11th Brigade Group from the Spanish 78th Infantry Division under Francisco Franco, landed on the right hand beach, U.S. 168th Regimental Combat Team, from the 34th Infantry Division, supported by 6th Commando and most of 1st Commando on the middle beach while the U.S. 39th Regimental Combat Team, also from the U.S. 34th Division, supported by the remaining 5 troops from 1st Commando landed on the left hand beach. The Spanish 36th Brigade Group from the Spanish 78th Division stood by in floating reserve. Though some landings went to the wrong beaches, this was immaterial because of the extremely low level of French opposition. The French would fight ferociously in the interior, however. Soon, however, with limited British support and the French tired of war, the city would be captured by the Americans.

American soldiers land near Algiers
The French would continue to fight for another month in the rest of Algeria, but many were tired of war. France itself did not wish for another conflict, and the war support was only in good shape thanks to the victories of the Russians and the British. However, as their allies were being pushed back, many were wondering if it was still worth to keep fighting. Meanwhile, the Italians advanced in Algeria too to help the Americans cleanin up what remained of French resistence. With Algeria out of the way, Italian forces sent the bulk of their forces in Egypt under the suggestion of the American high commando. In February 17, American General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini met in Rome to create a plan to eliminate the French threat. It was decided that a landing in Southern France on March 6 would be necessary to capitulate the French Commune out of the war before a possible invasion of Britain. Mussolini often called France "the soft underbelly of the crocodile (Il ventre molle del coccodrillo.)", because of the French weaker equipment and also because the population was starting to hate the Communist government more and more. With France gone, and quite possibly also Britain eliminated, the Communational would be eliminated for good, with the next target being the Axis, especially the Russians.
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The battle of Egypt: the desert wolf is kicked back from Egypt
The battle of Egypt: the desert wolf is kicked back from Egypt
On 4 November 1943, Hayrullah Fişek received orders from Kemal to end the Second Battle of Bengasi and withdraw east towards Egypt. In doing so, he defied the "Stand to the last" desire of Joseph Stalin, to save the remainder of his force. The Afrika Birliği reached the village of Qasr Libya the next day. Egyptian forces had arrived earlier, having withdrawn from 3–4 November and formed a defensive line. The Egyptians resumed their withdrawal on the same day after a Central Power attack and the Turks followed suit. Giovanni Messe rested some of his formations after their efforts at Bengasi, leading with the 4th Light Armoured Brigade.
Rain on the afternoon of 03 January 1944 impeded the Italian pursuit as the Axis forces continued their withdrawal and a new defence line was established at Mersa Matruh the following day. Fişek received a warning from Kemal of an expected Central Powers landing between Alexandria and El Alamein but on 06 January, he discovered that this was wrong. There were Iberian-American landings in Algeria (Operation Torch). The Eastern Task Force—aimed at Algiers—landed with 20,000 troops and began moving east to support the Italians.

A Stuart tank being refuelled from an Regia Areonautica fuel bowser outside Fuka, 15 January 1944
Fişek wanted to save 10,000 short tons (9,100 t) of equipment in El Alamein but it fell to the Italians on 13 January. An attempt by Messe to trap the El Alamein garrison by an encirclement toward El-Hamam, west of El Alamein failed and the garrison retreated toward Alexandria with few losses. New Borg El-Arab City and the airfield nearby were captured on 15 November. The Regia Areonautica quickly occupied the airfield to provide air cover for the invasion of Crete.
Despite the importance of the Port of Alexandria to the Axis supply chain, Fişek abandoned the port as the situation was getting desperate. Fişek ordered the demolition of port facilities and materiel in Alexandria, writing afterward that, " Alexandria, we destroyed the port facilities and platforms and the chaos overwhelmed the civilians in this miserable town."
Alexandria was occupied by the Italians on 20 January and three days later, the Axis forces retreated from Idku and fell back to Baltim. During their withdrawal to Baltim, Axis forces faced many difficulties, including Italian air superiority. The Corpo Aereo del Deserto (CAD, or Desert Air Force) attacked Axis columns crowded on the coast road and short of fuel. To delay the Italian advance, Axis sappers laid mines in the Baltim area; steel helmets were buried to mislead Italian mine detectors.
For much of the pursuit to the Suez canal, the Italians were uncertain of Fişek's intentions. They had been caught out in earlier campaigns by an enemy that had drawn them on and then counter-attacked. Messe had intended to build his army's morale by banishing the habit of defeat and retreat and the 1st Armoured Division and 2nd Somali Division were held at El Alamein, resting and providing a defence. Despite Fişek's concerns of being overwhelmed by Italo-American forces, Messe was aware that an extended and isolated force could also be vulnerable. When a reconnaissance force of armoured cars was sent across country, it was delayed by waterlogged ground. Signals intelligence revealed to the Eighth Army that the Yuk army was virtually immobilised by lack of fuel (the Ottomans were having problems getting it from Arabia as several territories were in open rebellion), prompting Messe to order a stronger force to be sent across country. Having heard of the presence of the reconnaissance force, Fişek brought forward his retirement and was able to brush the armoured cars aside, untroubled by the stronger force which had yet to arrive.
However, during the battle of the Suez, Fişek's supply position had not improved: the Balkans were still being prioritised for supplies, especially by the Russians. Fişek was short of men and equipment and very short of fuel and ammunition. His stated intention therefore was to hold out as long as possible but to retire in the face of strong pressure. When the preliminary attacks began on 11 February Fişek took this to be the start of Eighth Army's attack and started to withdraw. By mid morning on 12 February patrols detected that the Axis positions were starting to thin out. In response Messe ordered the Somali Division to move immediately and brought forward the main assault to the night of 14/15 February. By the evening of 12 February, the Axis withdrawal was under way, except for some units who were covering the extrication.
On 13 February, Axis reconnaissance aircraft discovered some 300 vehicles north of Ismailia (the Somali column), which meant for the Axis forces the danger of being outflanked. Fişek wished to launch his remaining armour at this outflanking force but was prevented by lack of fuel and ordered the withdrawal to continue. An attack by the 7th Armoured Division was repulsed in a rearguard action by the Egyptian "Hatshepsut" Division. In his diary, Fişek wrote: "Late in the morning, a superior enemy force launched an attack on Combat Group Hatshepsut, which was located noth-east of Abou Sultan, with its right flank resting on the Suez Canal and its left linking up with 90th Light Division. Bitter fighting ensued against 80 Italian tanks and lasted for nearly ten hours. The Egyptians put up a magnificent fight, for which they deserved the utmost credit. Finally, in the evening, the Italians were thrown back by a counter attack of the Yam Suph's armoured regiment, leaving 22 tanks and 2 armoured cars burnt out or damaged on the battlefield. The Italian intention of cutting off the 90th Light Division had been foiled."
The Eighth Army change of plan had come too late and when the Somali Division completed their "left hook" on 15 February, they were dispersed after a difficult journey across tough terrain which left them with only 17 serviceable tanks. They found 15th Yuk Division on the escarpment guarding the coast road and the 6th Somali Brigade further east, was ordered to form a block on the coast road, while the 5th Brigade protected the divisional supply and transport vehicles. During the night of 15/16 February, most of the remaining elements of the Yuk Army were able to withdraw towards the Sinai, moving in small fast columns through the gaps in the dispersed Somali units, under cover of dark. On 18 February, short-lived but fierce fighting took place at Zaranik. The Nord African campaign was over.

Nord Africa after the fall of Zaranik
Fişek later commented that experience should have told Messe that there was a good chance that: "...we should not accept battle. He should not therefore have started bombarding our strong points and attacking our line until his outflanking force had completed its move and was in a position to advance on the coast road in timed co-ordination with the frontal attack."
While Egypt is regarded as the end of the African front in WW2, Ottoman forces would continue fighting in the Nile delta and in the Red Sea coast for another week. Despite the failure of the Egyptian campaign, the Turkish war opinion was still high, as it wasn't the first time that a power was defeated in Africa, but still managed to win. In the opinion of several men of the Ottoman high command, while the fall of Egypt and the Suez canal was an heavy blow for the Axis, the Italian losses were still considerable, an opinion backed up by facts (22,341 killed to be more precised) and as such, any push in Palestine would be a suicide for the tired Italian soldiers. However, the Ottomans failed to realize that the Italians had the support of the United Stated with them, which were sending more and more men in the African front. They also failed to realize that the situation of their allies was in no were good shape as the one of Germany during the Great War: France was being pushed back by both the Germans, the Italians and the Iberians, Russia was being pushed out of Poland, and the Central Powers had now the resources to go full on offensive. But perhaps the biggest factor that was ignored by the Ottoman high command was that, while in the Sicilian campaing the British army faced determinated and united Italian forces, the Arabs under Ottoman controll were growing tired of war. Arab revolts already made the extraction of oil difficult for the Ottomans, and the local population was on the verge of exploding. All that was needed, was a simple push.
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The German counter-offensive in the north: the eagle pushes the bear out
The German liberation of Poland: the eagle pushes the bear out
As part of Operation Alexander, the Russian army took Poland and several regions of Germany, but was forced to retreat due to German counter-attacks breaking the line of communications in multiple places. A new attack was launched, and the areas were recaptured.
After their capture and with the Russian offensive running out of steam, the areas were fortified. Rather than maintaining a solid "front" , the Russians established a series of thinly held outposts.
German counterattacks, especially the Battles of Preußisch Stargard, formed a large salient in the Russian lines.
In view of its strategic significance, the Russians heavily fortified the regions over the course of 1943. The Germans often raided into Russian-held territory.

Europe after initial German counteroffensives
The German offensive to retake Poland was developed in mid-February 1944 using troops from the 3rd and 4th Shock armies, and 3rd Air Army. The front itself was defended by the 30th Mechanized Brigade commanded by Major General Petr Ivanovich Zubov, the lines to the south held by the 3rd Mountain Division, and the front to the north held by the 5th Mountain Division.
Rather than attacking the defences directly, the German forces advanced into the difficult terrain to the north and south. Spearheaded by the 9th and 46th Guards and 357th Rifle Divisions of 5th Guards Rifle Corps to the south and the 381st Rifle Division to the north, the operation commenced on 24 February. Despite heavy losses, they successfully cut the links to several Russian pockets of defences by 27 February; by the next day they threatened to cut off other elements of the corps south of Poland when the front commander released his 2nd Mechanised Corps into the breach created between the 3rd Mountain and 83rd Infantry Divisions. Army Group Centre's commander asked the Stavka for permission to conduct a breakout operation while the situation was still relatively fluid by pulling the Russian lines back by around ten miles (16 km). The request was dismissed by Stalin.
The encircled divisions were ordered to hold the city at all costs, while a relief force was assembled. The remainder of the 83rd Infantry and 3rd Mountain Divisions, encircled in Soldau, fought their way east to meet the relieving troops. Due to Army Group Centre's commitments south, the only resources immediately available to man the lines were those already in the area, which were organised as the 42nd Guards Motor Rifle Division. Later, other divisions were made available, including the understrength 8th Tankovy Division, the 20th Motorized Infantry Division from Army Group Centre reserve, and the weak 6th VVS Field Division, and the hurriedly rushed to the front 707th and 708th Security, and 205th and 331st Infantry divisions although there was a corresponding build-up of German strength.
Throughout March, the encircled armies – which maintained radio contact with the relief forces – held out against repeated German attempts to reduce their lines, and in particular the rail depot in the city's southern suburb. The German forces, attacking strongly entrenched troops, suffered extremely high casualties, while conditions in the city steadily deteriorated despite airdrops of supplies, ammunition and equipment. In the meantime, German attempts to take their main objective, Königsberg, had been frustrated by the counter-attacks of the relief force. An attempt by the Russian to reach Allenstein in late March, ran into stubborn German defence and halted, heavily damaged.
Operation Tvrtko, the next attempt to break through the Polish pockets, was launched on 4 April. The two Russian spearheads advanced to within five miles (8 km) of one of the major pokets, but stalled due to pressure on their flanks. On 5 April, a German attack from the north split Russian occupied Lithuania in two.

Poland in April 1944, with its infamous "Polish pockets", Russian encircled pockets that refused to surrended to the Germans. They would continue fighting for another week
After the war, the German authorities collected a representative set of men of various ranks from general to private who had fought in Poland from prisoner of war camps and brought them to the city. A military tribunal held a public trial and convicted them for war crimes related to anti-partisan warfare. Nine were sentenced to death and publicly hanged in the main square of Warsaw in January 1946.
The liberation of Poland is sometimes called "The Country size battle of Berlin" due to its similarities with the smaller but better-known Battle of Berlin. The liberation of Poland meant the Wehrmacht had a direct front against Belarus, the area that was the most loyal to the Russians. Events at Poland thus necessitated the withdrawal from Belarus. On top of that, American landings in the south of France meant that the Germans could send more men in the Eastern Front. As a matter of fact, American flags were seen in the East as they supported the German army against the Russians.
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Operation Leopold: the griffon vulture attack on the bear and the desert wolf
Operation Leopold: the griffon vulture attack on the bear and the desert wolf
While the Germans were busy retaking their land and liberating the Baltics and Poland, the Austrian armies were attacking the Russo-Turkish forces in the Balkans. The operation was nicknamed Operation Leopold, in honor of Emperor Leopold II of the Habsburg Monarchy during the Austro-Turkish war.
In Operation Leopold, planned to commence in late January, Austro-Coratian-Hungarian would encircle and destroy the powerful Russin Ninth Army in the Sarajevo salient. The basic plan of the offensive was to launch multiple, coordinated thrusts from all sides of the salient, resulting in the destruction of the Ninth Army. The offensive would also tie down Russian units and prevent them from being moved into Poland.
The Austro-Croatian-Hungarian troops were directed by Otto von Habsburg and Archduke Eugen of Austria "to crush the Sarajevo-Belgrade-Temesvár-Dubrovnik enemy grouping."
Operation Leopold was to be followed soon there after by Operation Habsburg, which was to commence two to three weeks later. The Hungarian's powerful 5th and 33rd armies, supported by 3rd Guards Tank Army, would attack along the Zenica highway axis, link up with the victorious Leopold force, and envelop and destroy all Russian forces east of Mostar. Once resistance around Trebinje was neutralized, the 9th and 10th Tank Corps and the 3rd Tank Army would then penetrate deeper into the rear of the Russian Balkan army.
The offensive was launched in the early hours of 25 February 1944. It got off to a bad start, as fog grounded the planned air support. It also greatly reduced the effect of the massive artillery barrages preceding the main attacks, as it made it impossible for the forward artillery observers to adjust fire and observe the results. The northern thrust made little progress. The eastern attack slowly ground forward. The two western thrusts made deeper penetrations, especially around the key town of Zenica. Still, the progress was nowhere near what the Austrians expected.
The Russians defenders fought stubbornly, clinging to their strong-points, which were often centered on many of the small villages dotting the area. In some cases, the Russian strong-points remained manned for a time after the Austrians advanced past them, creating more problems for the Austrian Army in their rear areas. Despite repeated, persistent Hungarian attacks, small-arms fire and pre-planned artillery concentrations cut down the attacking infantry. Austrian tanks were picked off by anti-tank guns, the few Russian tanks, and in close combat with infantry.
The relative lack of initial success compounded the Austrian problems. The minor penetrations and the resulting small bridgeheads made it difficult to bring forward reinforcements and follow-up forces, especially artillery so critical for reducing the Russian strong-points. The Russians reacted by shifting units within the salient against the points of the Austrian advance and pinching off their spearheads. With limited reserves and reinforcement unlikely due to Austrian offensives elsewhere, the Ninth Army was placed under great pressure.
Eventually the shifting of Ottoman forces, coupled with Austrian losses and supply difficulties, allowed the Russians forces to gain the upper hand. Their lines held, and much of the lost ground was retaken. The counterattacks against the Zenica thrusts resulted in several thousand soldiers being trapped behind Russian lines. A few of these would manage to break through to Austrian lines, some after fighting in the Russian rear for weeks. Almost all vehicles and heavy weapons had to be left behind. Though the Russians were not able to remove Austrian forces from Bosnia, the attack was still held off.

Russian tanks in Zenica
Despite the defeat of the Austrian Army in Bosnia, Otto ordered a second counter-offensive nicknamed "Operation Habsburg" in order to recapture lost ground in the Balkans.
Eugen states the Balkan Front was assigned a mission in which the 1st and 3rd Guard armies and the 5th Tank Army "were to strike out in the general direction of Sarajevo once more and destroy the enemy grouping in that sector." They would be supported by the Italian 6th Army. Despite the victory previously achieved by the Russians, the Russian army was weakened after the battle of Berlin. The Turkish army also was not having a good time, as they were being engaged in Palestine against the Italian-American forces.
The first stage — an attempt to cut off the Russian Army Group A in the Balkans — had to be rapidly revised when General Aleksandr Vasil'evič Kolčak launched Operation Uranus on 12 March to defeat the Austrian army. The modified plan Operation Habsburg was launched on 16 March.

Nasist forces during Operation Habsburg
This operation consisted of a pincer movement which threatened to cut off the Balkan forces. General Aurél Stromfeld's 1st Guards Army and General Vilmos Nagy de Nagybaczon's 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Turkish 8th Army in Sarajevo. The Turks resisted the Austrian attack for nearly two weeks, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors, but with huge losses. Kolčak sent the 6th Tankovy Division to the Turkish' aid: of the 130,000 encircled troops, only 45,000 survived after bloody fighting to join the Russian tanks at Višegrad on 17 April.
To the south the advance of General Stromfeld's 28th Army threatened to encircle the 1st Tankovy Army and General Nagybaczon's 51st Army attacked the relief column directly. In a daring raid, by 24 March tanks of the 24th Tank Corps had reached Belgrade.
With the Balkan army under threat of encirclement, Kolčak had no choice but to retreat back on 29 March.
The second stage of operations opened on 13 April 1944 with an attack by four armies of General Béla Miklós's Hungarian army that encircled and destroyed the Russian Second Army near Niš. As a consequence the Russian Second Army, as most other Axis armies in theBalkans, ceased to represent a meaningful fighting force.
The Turkish 8th Army's Bolu Corps, consisting of Bolu Commando Brigade and the Hakkari Mountain Commando Brigade, were at this point largely unaffected by the Austrian offensive on their right flank. But on April 13, the Austrians and Italians launched their second stage of Operation Habsburg, where four armies of Austrian General Pál Maléter's Hungarian Army attacked, encircled, and destroyed the Russian Second Army near Niš. The Austrians then attacked and pushed back the remaining units of the Russian 24th Army Corps on the Bolu's left flank and contemporarily attacked the Bolu themselves. They managed to escape from the Austrians for a miracle, before regrouping in Sofia with the Russian army.

Central Powers advance into the Balkans
By this point the situation was critical. In particular, was support in Greece was at an extreme low after the air raid at Athens by the Italians and the capture of Crete by the Italian navy. In order to distract the Axis in the Balkans, there were also several naval landings in many islands in the Eastern Mediterranean, some done by the American marines such as the V Amphibious Corps, Rho would fight fiercly in Rhodes. However, most of the American forces were in the French Mediterranean coast, aiding the German army to eliminate France from the war. It was at this point that many Russian generals realized that the war was lost, but never did Stalin lose hope until the battle of Moscow.
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Hello Folks!
I'm here to tell you that tomorrow I shall departure into Portugal, now that the skies are safe from British and French fighters. I shall be away from the 2th of August until 27 August.
See ya!
Operation Draggon: the mountain wolf and the bald eagle finish the rooster off
Operation Dragoon: the mountain wolf and the bald eagle finish the rooster off
As the Nord African campaign was over, plans to eliminate the Western Communist Powers were made to ease the situation that the Germans and Italians were in, in order to facilitate the counteroffensive against the Nasist. Operation Dragoon was the first one, the one to knock France out of the war.
The chief objectives of Operation Dragoon were the important French ports of Marseille and Toulon, considered essential to supply the Allied/Central Powers forces. The Allied/Central Powers planners were cautious. They chose a location with no high ground controlled by the French Armed Forces and the British Expeditionary Force (or what was left of it). The choice for the disembarkation site was an area on the Var coast east of Toulon. A preliminary air campaign was planned to isolate the battlefield and cut the French off from reinforcement by destroying several key bridges. A large airborne landing was also planned in the center of the landing zone to quickly seize the high ground overlooking the beaches. Parallel to the invasion, several commando units were to take control of the islands off the coast, while the Italians were to advance.
The Allied/Central Powers plan consisted of a three-division landing of US forces led by Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower to secure a bridgehead on the first day. Their flanks were to be protected by Italian, American, and Canadian commando units. Within 24 hours, 50,000–60,000 troops and 6,500 vehicles were to be disembarked. The airborne landings would concentrate in an area near Draguignan and Le Muy, with the aim of taking these towns to prevent French counterattacks against the beaches. The bulk of the American force then had to advance quickly to the north along the Rhône, to take Lyon and Dijon and make contact with a German offensive. After a successful initial landing, units of the Italian Army B were to land, given the task of taking the French ports of Toulon and Marseille.
Although the French expected an Allied/Central Powers landing in the Mediterranean, the advancing German Army placed great strains on French resources, so little was done to improve the condition of Army Group G, defending Southern France. Given the advancing Central Power forces in northern France, the French deemed a realistic defense in the south impossible. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny was quite aware that with his forces, any serious Allied/Central Powers landing attempt would be impossible to ward off. French intelligence was aware of the impending Allied/Central Powers landing, and on 13 March, Tassigny ordered the 11th Armored Division to move east of the Rhône, where the landing was expected.

Russian land leased 88-mm gun on the coast in southern France
To ensure the success of Dragoon and support the initial landings, preliminary commando operations had to be carried out. The first target was the Hyères Islands, specifically Port-Cros and Levant. The guns of the French garrisons on both islands could reach the proposed Allied/Central Powers landing area and the sea lanes that the troops would follow. The First Special Service Force, a joint U.S.-Canadian special-forces unit trained in amphibious assault and mountaineering and consisting of three regiments, received the order to take the islands as part of Operation Sitka.
The landings on Port-Cros and Levant started simultaneously on 14 March. On Levant, the 2nd and 3rd Regiments of the First Special Service Force faced sporadic resistance that became more intense when the French garrison forces came together in the area of the port. The men of the First Special Service Force gained the upper hand and discovered that the "coastal defense battery" the Allied/Central Powers naval forces were worried about was actually several well-camouflaged dummy weapons.
On Port-Cros, the 1st Regiment drove the French garrison to the western side of the island to an old fort. Fighting continued through 16 March. When darkness fell, French guns on the French mainland at Cap Benat shelled Port-Cros. The Regia Marina battleship Conte di Cavour took aim at the fort where the French were barricaded. The French garrison surrendered on the morning of 17 March. With both islands in Allied/Central Powers hands, the men of the First Special Service Force transferred to the mainland, where they were attached to the First Airborne Task Force.
Meanwhile, at Cap Nègre to the west of the main invasion, a large group of Italian commandos destroyed French artillery emplacements as part of Operation Romeo. Their main effort was supported by diversionary flank landings by other commando teams. While the main mission succeeded, 67 Italian commandos were taken prisoner after they ran into a minefield. In addition to the commando operations, another operation was carried out, named Operation Span. This was a deception plan, aimed to confuse the French defenders with fake landings and paratroopers, to disperse them from the actual landing zones.

U.S. paratroopers of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team prepare for the landings
The preceding bombing missions hit the French heavily, interrupting railroads, damaging bridges, and disrupting the communication network. The landing started on the morning of 15 March. Ships of the Western Naval Task Force approached under cover of darkness and were in position at dawn. The first of 1,300 Allied/Central Powers bombers from Italy, Turin, and Corsica began aerial bombardment shortly before 0600. Bombing was nearly continuous until 0730, when battleships and cruisers launched spotting aircraft and began firing on specific targets detected by aerial surveillance. Naval gunfire ceased as the landing craft headed ashore at 0800. The relatively steep beach gradients with small tidal range discouraged Communational placement of underwater obstacles, but landing beaches had been defensively mined. LCIs leading the first wave of landing craft fired rockets to explode land mines on the beaches to be used by following troops.
The main landing force consisted of three divisions of the VI Corps. The 3rd Infantry Division landed on the left at Alpha Beach (Cavalaire-sur-Mer), the 45th Infantry Division landed in the centre at Delta Beach (Le Muy, Saint-Tropez), and the 36th Infantry Division landed on the right at Camel Beach (Saint-Raphaël).
The landings were overwhelmingly successful. On Delta and Alpha beaches, French resistance was low. The Armée de terre surrendered quickly, and the biggest threats to the Allied/Central Powers were the mines. A single French gun and a mortar position were silenced by destroyer fire. The Allied/Central Powers units in this sector were able to secure a bridgehead and quickly linked up with the paratroopers, capturing Saint-Tropez and Le Muy. The most serious fighting was on Camel Beach near the town of Saint-Raphaël. This beach was defended by several well-emplaced coastal guns, as well as flak batteries. Through heavy French fire, the Allied/Central Powers attempted to land at the shore. However, at sector Red of the Camel Beach landing zone, the Allied/Central Powers were not able to succeed. A bombing run of 90 Allied/Central Powers B-24 bombers was called in against a French strongpoint here. Even with the assistance of naval fire, the Allied/Central Powers were not able to bring the landing ships close to the shore. They decided to avoid Camel Red and land only at the sectors of Camel Blue and Camel Green, which was successful.
The Allied bombing severed French communication lines, causing initial confusion among the troops. French field commanders were not able to communicate with Army Group G's headquarters. Despite the hampered communications, French commanders acted independently to put measures in effect to counter the Allied/Central Powers invasion. Directly facing the brunt of the Allied/Central Powers landings was the French 1st Light Infantry Division at Draguignan, commanded by Raoul Magrin-Vernerey. Allied/Central Powers paratroopers interrupted his communication lines and trapped his headquarters in the city. He, therefore, ordered the nearby 148th Infantry Division to counterattack against the beaches at Le Muy, just before the Allied/Central Powers paratroopers cut him off completely. Wiese, as commander of the 19th Army, was also unable to contact Tassigny's Army Group G headquarters, but implemented a plan to push the Allied/Central Powers forces in the Le Muy – Saint-Raphaël region back into the sea unilaterally. With almost no mobile reserves to react against the beach landings, he ordered the commander of the 189th Infantry Division, Paul Legentilhomme, to establish an ad hoc battle group from all nearby units to counterattack the Allied/Central Powers bridgeheads in this area. While Legentilhomme assembled all the men he could find, the 148th Infantry Division near Draguignan encountered heavy fighting against Italian paratroopers, upsetting the plan for a swift counterattack toward the beaches.
While the French were unable to mount a counterattack against the Allied/Central Powers beachheads on 15 March, by the morning of 16 March, Legentilhomme had finally assembled a force about the size of four infantry battalions. With this force, he launched a two-pronged assault towards Le Muy and the Allied/Central Powers bridgehead, as well as toward Draguignan to relieve the 1st Light Infantry Division headquarters there. By that time, the Allies/Central Powers had already landed a significant number of troops, vehicles, and tanks. The Allied/Central Powers mobile forces of the 45th Division went out against the French forces themselves. The division surrounded the town of Les Arcs, recently reoccupied by Legentilhomme's troops, and attempted to isolate the French forces there. After heavy fighting throughout the day, Legentilhomme ordered his troops to retreat under cover of night. At the same time, heavy fighting occurred at Saint-Raphaël. Mobile units of the 148th Infantry Division finally had arrived there and encountered the US 3rd Division, which was trying to take Saint-Raphaël. This attack, however, was fruitless. By 17 March, the French counter-attacks had been largely defeated, Saint-Raphaël was secured together with a large bridgehead along the coastline, and mobile forces had linked up with the airborne troops in Le Muy. Italian troops had been pouring ashore since 16 March, passing to the left of the American troops with the objective of Toulon and Marseille.
By the night of 16/17 March, Army Group G headquarters realized that it could not drive the Allied/Central Powers back. Simultaneously in northern France, the encirclement of Amiens threatened the loss of large numbers of French forces. Given the precarious situation, Thorez moved away from his "no step backwards" agenda and agreed to an French Armed Forces (FAF) plan for the complete withdrawal of Army Groups G and B. The FAF plan was for all French forces (except the stationary fortress troops) in southern France to move north.
The French Navy's response was minimal. La Royale had some 25 surface ships (mostly torpedoboats and smaller) though the main anti-invasion force, 10th Torpedoboat Flotilla based at Sète, had just four torpedoboats fit for service during Dragoon and this force took no action against the invasion fleet. There were two actions against the Allied/Central Powers naval forces taken by other units. On 15 March, off Port-Cros, the US destroyer Somers encountered two French warships and in a short action sank both. On 17 March, off La Ciotat, a force of two French warships encountered a force of PT boats and gunboats staging a diversionary attack. Their destroyer escort engaged both vessels, and after an hour-long gun battle both French vessels were sunk. La Royale also had the Requin-class submarine force based at Toulon; By the summer of 1944 this had been reduced to just one. On the night of 17 March, Souffleur, attempted to sortie; she ran aground leaving harbour and was scuttled by her crew.

General Erwin Rommel and his staff observe troops of the 7th Panzer division
At this point, however, the French were throwing so much men in the south that they had no longer enough forces in Paris itself. The Germans realized that this was the perfect opportunity: if Paris falls, it would be the end of the French Commune.
By the evening of 10 April 1944, German forces had completed their preparations for Case Anton, the conquest of Paris. The 1st Army advanced from Beauvais, while the 7th Army advanced to the centre, under the command of General Johannes Blaskowitz. The Italian 4th Army occupied Meaux. By the evening of 11 April German tanks had occupied Paris once again.

German forces passes through the Arc du Triomphe, after Paris was captured on April 11, 1944
Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allied/Central Powers forces. It enabled them to conquer France in only four weeks.
A significant benefit of Operation Dragoon was the use of the port facilities in southern France, especially the large ports at Marseille and Toulon.
Operation Dragoon also had political implications. Two days after the fall of Paris, the French Commune felt into chaos, and an armistice was quickly reached.
At this point, Britain was the only communist nation left on the planet, and a relief from both the Nasists and the Ottomans was now impossible.
The British would be put out of its misery only after Operation Overlord, and after that the Axis were the only nations remaining at war.
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Operation Overlord: the final nail in the lion's coffin
Operation Overlord: the final nail in the lion's coffin
Around the time of the perparation for the invasion of the UBSR, Britain was a shadow of its formes self. All its colonies had been conquered, with India being the only one standing, but not for long. German and American bombers bombed her night and day with no mercy. But the Communist government still had no intention to surrender. Attendees at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1944 took the decision to launch an invasion within the same year. Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, Chancellor of the German empire, and Kaiser Wilhelm III favoured making mainly a Allied/Central Powers thrust into Russia, but their American allies, who were providing the bulk of the men and equipment, preferred to eliminate Britain first. German General Frederick Gerd von Rundstedt was appointed Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied/Central Powers Commander (COSS-ACPC), to begin detailed planning.

US Army M4 Sherman tanks loaded in a landing craft tank (LCT), ready for the invasion of Britain, c. late May or early June 1944
Dover, the closest point in Britain to the Central Powers, was the location of launch sites for Russian landleased 06/III (RP-216) and 06/IV (RP-212) rockets. The British regarded it as the most likely initial landing zone, and accordingly made it the most heavily fortified region. It offered the Allies/Central Powers few opportunities for expansion, however, as the area is protected by a large cliff, whereas landings on a broad front in the Welsh Socialist Republic would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Fishguard, coastal ports further north in the Scottish Socialist Republic, and an overland attack towards London. Wales was therefore chosen as the landing site.
The COSS-ACPC staff planned to begin the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of SHACPEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied/Central Powers Expeditionary Force). General Erwin Rommel was named commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all of the land forces involved in the invasion. The Allies/Central Powers committed 39 divisions to the Battle of Britain: 22 American, 12 German, three Canadian, one Afghan, and one Dutch, totalling over a million troops all under overall German command.

D-day assault routes into Wales
By May 1944, 1.5 million American troops had arrived in Germany and occupied France. Most were housed in temporary camps in Brittany. German and Canadian troops were billeted in accommodation in the Channel islands. A complex system called Movement Control assured that the men and vehicles left on schedule from twenty departure points. Some men had to board their craft nearly a week before departure. Minesweepers began clearing lanes on the evening of 5 June, and a thousand bombers left before dawn to attack the coastal defences. Some 1,200 aircraft departed Germany just before midnight to transport three airborne divisions to their drop zones behind enemy lines several hours before the beach landings. The American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned objectives on the Gower Peninsula. The German 6. Fallschirmjäger-Division was assigned to capture intact the bridges in Slebech. Some 132,000 men were transported by sea on D-Day, and a further 24,000 came by air. Preliminary naval bombardment commenced at 05:45 and continued until 06:25 from five battleships, twenty cruisers, sixty-five destroyers, and two monitors. Infantry began arriving on the beaches at around 06:30. Those beaches were Utah and Omaha for the Americans, Adler (Eagle) and Eikþyrnir for the Germans and Juno for the Canadians.

German Pathfinders synchronise their watches
The craft bearing the U.S. 4th Infantry Division assaulting Utah were pushed by the current to a spot about 1,800 metres (2,000 yd) south of their intended landing zone. The troops met light resistance, suffering fewer than 200 casualties. Their efforts to push inland fell far short of their targets for the first day, but they were able to advance about 4 miles (6.4 km), making contact with the 101st Airborne Division. The airborne landings west of Utah were not very successful, as only ten per cent of the paratroopers landed in their drop zones. Gathering the men together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the terrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls and marshes. The 82nd Airborne Division captured its primary objective at Carmarthen and worked to protect the western flank. Its failure to capture the river crossings at the River Towy resulted in a delay in sealing off the area. The 101st Airborne Division helped protect the southern flank and captured Nantycaws, but did not capture the assigned nearby bridges on the first day.
At the landing site, the task for the two hundred men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder, was to scale the 30 metres (98 ft) cliffs with ropes and ladders to destroy the gun battery located there. While under fire from above, the men scaled the cliff, only to discover that the guns had already been withdrawn. The Rangers located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some 550 metres (600 yd) south of the point, and disabled them. Under attack, the men at the point became isolated, and some were captured. By dawn on D+1, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not come until D+2, when members of the 743rd Tank Battalion arrived.

The photograph Into the Jaws of Death shows American troops, part of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, leaving a Higgins Boat on Omaha
Omaha, the most heavily defended sector, was assigned to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, supplemented by troops from the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. They faced the 352nd Infantry Division, rather than the expected single regiment. Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or delayed them. Casualties were heavier than all the other landings combined, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above. Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to offer supporting artillery fire. Exit from Omaha was possible only via five gullies, and by late morning barely six hundred men had reached the higher ground. By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the British started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the draws of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3.

Adler, as of 7 June 1944
At Gold, high winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were landed close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned. Aerial attacks had failed to hit the strong points, and their 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00. On the western flank, the 1st Mountain Division captured Penparcau, and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno.
Landings of infantry at Juno were delayed because of rough seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the British defences. In spite of these difficulties, the British quickly cleared the beach and created two exits to the villages above. Delays in taking Aberystwyth led to congestion on the beach, but by nightfall the contiguous Juno and Adler beachheads covered an area 12 miles (19 km) wide and 7 miles (10 km) deep. Casualties at Juno were 961 men.
On Eikþyrnir, 21 of 25 DD tanks succeeded in getting safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30. They quickly cleared the beach and created several exits for the tanks. In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, making manoeuvring the armour difficult. The 2nd Light Division advanced on foot to within a few kilometres of Llangawsai, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support. At 16:00, the British 21st Army Tank Brigade mounted a counterattack between Eikþyrnir and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the coast. They met stiff resistance from the German 3rd Infantry Division and were soon recalled to assist in the area between Llangawsai and Waun Fawr.

The build-up at Omaha Beach: U.S. 2nd Infantry Division troops and equipment moving inland toward Southgate on D+1, 7 June 1944
The first components of the Mulberry harbours were brought across on D+1 and the structures were in use for unloading by mid-June. One was constructed at Penyranchor by the Germans, the other at Omaha by the Americans. Severe storms on 19 June interrupted the landing of supplies and destroyed the Omaha harbour. The repairedcPenyranchorcharbour was able to receive around 6,000 tons of materiel daily and was in continuous use for the next ten months, but most shipments were brought in over the beaches until Newport was cleared of mines and obstructions on 16 July.
Allied/Central Powers casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The British lost 1,000 men. The Allied/Central Powers invasion plans had called for the capture of Liverpool, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, and Coventry, with all the beaches (other than Utah), linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches. The five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies/Central Powers held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep. Liverpool, a major objective, was still in British hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July.
In the western part of the lodgement, US troops were to attack Liverpool, which would provide the Allies/Central Powers with a deep water harbour. The terrain behind Utah and Omaha was characterised by bocage, with thorny hedgerows on embankments 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.2 m) high with a ditch on either side. Many areas were additionally protected by rifle pits and machine-gun emplacements. Most of the roads were too narrow for tanks. The British had flooded the fields behind Utah with sea water for up to 2 miles (3.2 km) from the coast. British forces included the 91st Infantry Division and the 243rd and 709th Static Infantry Divisions. By D+3 the Allied commanders realised that Liverpool would not quickly be taken, and decided to cut off the city to prevent any further reinforcements from being brought in. After failed attempts by the inexperienced 90th Infantry Division, Major General J. Lawton Collins, the VII Corps commander, assigned the veteran 9th Infantry Division to the task. They reached Chester on 17 June, cutting off Liverpool. The 9th Division, joined by the 4th and 79th Infantry Divisions, took control of the city in fierce fighting from 19 June; Liverpool was captured on 26 June.

Operations in the Battle for Stoke-on-Trent
Fighting in the Stoke-on-Trent area versus the 21st Army Tank Brigade, the 12th (Eastern) Division and other units soon reached a stalemate. During Operation Perch, XXX Corps attempted to advance south towards Newcastle-under-Lyme but soon abandoned the direct approach in favour of a pincer attack to encircle Stoke-on-Trent. XXX Corps made a flanking move from Hanley with part of the 7th Armoured Division, while I Corps tried to pass Stoke-on-Trent to the east. The attack by I Corps' attack was quickly halted and XXX Corps briefly captured Staffordshire University. Advanced elements of the German force were ambushed. The Germans were forced to withdraw to Smithfield. After a delay because of storms from 17 to 23 June, Operation Epsom began on 26 June, an attempt by VIII Corps to swing around and attack Stoke-on-Trent from the south-west and establish a bridgehead south of Mount Pleasant. Although the operation failed to take Stoke-on-Trent, the British suffered many tank losses after committing every available tank unit to the operation. Arthur Tedder was dismissed on 1 July and replaced by Bernard Montgomery after remarking that the war was now lost. The northern suburbs of Stoke-on-Trent were bombed on the evening of 7 July and then occupied north of Fenton in Operation Charnwood on 8–9 July. Operation Atlantic and Operation Goodwood captured the rest of Stoke-on-Trent and the high ground to the south from 18 to 21 July, by when the city was nearly destroyed.
After securing territory, the U.S. First Army launched Operation Cobra on 25 July and advanced further south to Coventry by 1 August. The Germans launched Operation Bluecoat on 30 July to secure Binley Woods and the high ground of Northampton.

In light blue, the current breakthrough situation
While II Canadian Corps pushed south toward London in Operation Totalize on 8 August, Rundstedt and Rommel realised that there was an opportunity for the bulk of the British forces to be trapped at Cornwall. The Third Army continued the encirclement from the south, reaching Swindon on 11 August. On the evening of 12 August, Eisenhower asked Rundstedt if his forces should continue southward to close the gap and encircle the British forces. Rundstedt refused, because be believed that the Canadians were on the job. As a matter of fact, he claimed that "the Yanks intend to take all the glory of marching in London walking on the sacrifice and sweat of Germania.". The Canadians met heavy resistance and captured Cornwall on 16 August. 50,000 British troops were trapped by the Canadian army. At this point, it was a race to London.

German infantry aboard Sherman tanks wait for the order to advance, near Oxford, 21 August 1944
An anti Communist revolt in London rose up on 19 August. This allowed the Americans to reach London first. The capital of the island nation that had not been invaded since the middle ages, was captured by their once colony, the United States of America.
While the Germans were glad that the British were finally out of the war, and that now the only enemy were Russia, the Ottomans and China, they feared what a American conquered England could mean. Shortly after the conquest of Great Britain, a coup against the Irish communist government took place which saw the exit of Ireland from the war.
But at this point, as the German high command realized that the war was essentialy won, they feared for yet another one. The Americans had an impressive hold in Western Europe in the form of an occupied France, Britain and Ireland which they could sphere in their influence. As such, the Germans intended to speed up the process of elimination of the Nasist government before an American sphere could be placed in Russia too. Some say that the invasion of France and Britain were the beginning of the American-German cold war, which saw the Central Powers, a mostly Monarchist group friendly toward Germany, and the American pact, a democratic group made of republics friendly toward the US.
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The battle of Palestine: Part 1
The battle of Palestine: Part 1
Before the campaings in France and Britain, the US army was strongly busy in the Palestinian front against both the Ottoman empire and Nasist Russia.
The Allied/Central Powers attempt to capture Gerusalem had failed and a lull had settled on the theatre, as both sides paused to rebuild their strength. After Stalin realized the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East, Semyon Budyonny had been given command of the Axis forces defending Palestine and reinforcements led to the force being named the 5th Tankovy Army. Budyonny chose to maintain the initiative gained when the Allies/Central Powers had been driven back the previous year by making spoiling attacks to keep his intentions hidden.
In February 1944, the Ottoman Yuk Army commanded by General Hayrullah Fişek, had retreated to the Gaza Line, a line of defensive fortifications near the coastal town of Gaza. The Axis forces joined and in the Khan Yunis area there were elements from both armies, notably 21st Yuk Division of the Afrika Birliği,' transferred from the Ottoman Yuk Army and the 10th Tankovy Division from the 5th Tankovy Army.

Map showing Italo/American attempts at breaching the Gaza line at the start of the campaign
At 04:00 on 24 February four battle groups totalling 140 Russian tanks drawn from 10th and 21st Tankovy divisions (Lieutenant General Viktor Tsyganov), advanced through Re'im, a site that General George S. Patton had inspected three hours earlier, to attack Khan Yunis. The attack started with tanks of the 10th Tankovy Division under the cover of a sandstorm advancing eastward from Re'im in two battle groups. Elements of CC A tried to delay the Russian advance by firing a 105 mm M101 howitzer mounted on an M4 Sherman tank. The Russians responded by shelling the American battle positions with 88mm guns. By 10 a.m. the Russians had circled Abasan al-Kabira and joined up north of Khan Yunis.
The 21st Tankovy Division had secured Rafah to the south and the Ottoman army headed south to engage two battalions of the 168th RCT on Be'er Milka while the Russian army headed to Abo Taweela in order to swing round and make the approach to Bnei Netzarim from behind during the afternoon. Under heavy shelling from the Russian army, Colonel Thomas Drake requested permission to retreat, which was denied by Fredendall, who ordered him to hold his positions and wait for reinforcements, which never arrived. By 5 p.m. the Russian army and the 10th Tankovy Division had attacked CC A which had been driven nearly 15 miles (24 km) west to Al-Arish, with the loss of 44 tanks and many guns.
During the night the 1st US Armored Division commander Orlando Ward moved up Combat Command C (CC C) to Al-Arish, to counter-attack on 25 February but the attack was over flat exposed country and was bombed and strafed early in the move, then found itself between the two Tankovy divisions, with more than 80 T-43, T-34 and IS-2 tanks. CC C retreated, losing 46 medium tanks, 130 vehicles and 9 self-propelled guns, narrowly regaining the position at Al Areesh First. By the evening, Budyonny had ordered three of the battle groups to head towards Al Areesh Third and were engaged by the remnants of CC A and CC C which were forced back. On 26 February, helped by intensive air support, they drove back the fresh Combat Command B (CC B) and entered Al Areesh Third. Rumors said that, when Messe received news of the defeat, he angrily sobbed and exclaimed "The Crucchi (Italian term for Germans) and Piemontesi get the pride of the American army, and I'm stuck with the ones that could barely graduate!". That was because, while the American army had some experience against the Nasist, most of the soldiers and generals fighting in Palestine did not have experience against Russian warfare and superior equipment.

An M3 Lee tank of U.S. 1st Armored Division advancing to support American forces during the battle at Zaranik
In the early hours of the 29 February Fişek ordered the Afrika Birliği Assault Group from Al Areesh Third to attack Zaranik. The 21st Tankovy Division at Al-Arish was ordered to attack northward near the coast.
The El Hassana area was attacked by a Russian battle group, remnants of the 21st Tankovy Division. Facing the Russian armored advance was the Italian 6th Armoured Division. Also in the line was the 18th Regimental Combat Team from the U.S. 1st Infantry Division; and three battalions of infantry from U.S. 34th Infantry Division. There were also three U.S. Field Artillery battalions, elements of two Italian anti-tank regiments and some Bulgarian detachments. The Russians made little progress against the combined firepower of the defending force which had also laid minefields. The 21st Tankovy Division was checked and then driven back by February 30.
Defending the pass was a force consisting of the U.S. 1st Battalion, 26th Regimental Combat Team, the U.S. 19th Combat Engineer Regiment, the 6th Field Artillery Battalion, a tank destroyer battalion and a battery of Brazilian artillery. On the hills to their west was Brazilian General João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais's Task Force Morais comprising a U.S. Ranger and infantry battalion, three Brazilian infantry battalions, two U.S. field artillery battalions, four Brazilian artillery batteries and engineer and anti-aircraft detachments. Furthest west was Task Force Bowen (consisting of the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Regimental Combat Team), blocking the track toward Hasna. Between Task Force Bowen and Hasna to the north was the regrouping 1st Armored Division although only Combat Command B was fit for combat. The positions in the pass had been placed under Colonel Alexander Stark, commander of the 26th RCT, on the night of February 28 and the command named Stark Force.
An attempt to surprise the Zaranik defenses by the 33rd Reconnaissance Unit into the pass failed and a battalion of Tankovy grenadiers was ordered into the floor the region, the hill on its eastern flank and slow progress was made against artillery fire. The tanks of 1/8th Tankovy Regiment were committed at noon but little further progress resulted against stubborn defense. Fişek decided to commit his units from the 10th Yuk to Zaranik the next morning in a coordinated attack with the Afrika Birliği Assault Group, which was to be joined by elements of the Ottoman 131st Armored Division. Italian reinforcements from the 26th Armoured Brigade (6th Armoured Division) had been assembling at Ramana. The First Army headquarters restricted him to sending Gore Force, a small combined-arms group of a company of infantry, a squadron of 11 tanks, an artillery battery and an anti-tank troop. General Raffaele Cadorna Jr. (6th Armoured Division) was given command of Nickforce, all units north-west of the pass.

U.S. troops taken prisoner during the battle march through an Egyptian village
During the night, the American positions on the two shoulders overlooking the area were overrun and at 8:30 am Russian tankovy grenadiers and Ottoman Jannisaires resumed the attack. At 10:00am Italian general Francesco Zingales judged that Stark Force was about to give way and ordered Gore Force to the Hasna side of the pass as elements of the Ottoman 131 Division launched their attack towards Bîr el-Hasana and continued it during the afternoon. At 1:00 pm Fişek committed two battalions from 10th Yuk which overcame the defense. Tanks and Jannissaires from the 132 Division advanced along Highway 55 and overran the 19th Combat Engineer Regiment.
The Afrika Birliği Assault Group began moving toward Qesm Bir Al Abd in the early afternoon of February 31 and advanced until they met defenders consisting of the U.S. 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and Combat Command B of the U.S. 1st Armored Division. The Russo–Turkish force was halted and, despite heavy pressure including air attacks, failed to dislodge the American defenders. Having brought the Axis drive towards Port Said to a halt, General Paul Robinett and General Terry Allen now turned their attention to planning a counterattack that was to take place the next day, March 01. Plans made by both sides were upset by the battle, and the Axis forces (5 Jannissaires, a Ba Otocar group from 131 and 15 Tankovy) launched another assault on the U.S. position on the morning of the 01 MArch. Although the American defenders were pressed hard the line held and, by mid-afternoon, the U.S. infantry and tanks launched a counterattack that broke the combined Russian and IOttoman force. More than 400 Axis prisoners were taken as the counterattack was pressed into the Afrika Birliği position.

Ottoman Ba Otocar
Fişek had stayed with the main group of the 10th Yuk Division on the route toward Al Tafreah, where the 26th Armoured Brigade and remnants of the U.S. 26th Infantry Regiment had dug in on ridges. If the town fell, there could have been possibilities about recapturing the Suez canal. The combined force fought a costly delaying action in front of El Mallahah, retreating ridge by ridge to the north until by dark, the force held the Russian attacks just south of the bay. The divisional artillery (48 guns) of the 9th Infantry Division and anti-tank platoons dug in that night. Next day, the front was held mostly by Italian infantry, with exceptionally strong backing by unified U.S. and Italian artillery, under Brigadier General Stafford LeRoy Irwin, the U.S. artillery commander. The Italians had 36 guns, supported by tanks of the 132nd Armoured Division Ariete.
Anderson ordered the 9th Infantry Division and its artillery support to Baloza to meet an expected Russian attack but U.S. Major General Ernest N. Harmon, who had been sent by Patton to report on the battle and the Allied command, instructed the 9th divisional artillery to stay behind. On the morning of the 01 March an intense artillery barrage from the massed Allied/Central Powers guns forestalled the resumption of the 10th Yuk Division attack, destroying armour and vehicles and disrupting communications. Ivan Yefimovich Petrov , the battle group commander, decided to pause and regroup but Allied/Central Powers reinforcements continued to arrive. Under constant fire, 10th Yuk waited until dark to retire from the battlefield.

Italian Semovente assault guns
Overextended and with supplies dwindling, pinned down by the Allied/Central Powers artillery and now facing U.S. counterattacks near Rabeah, Fişek realised his attack had been stopped. The efforts of the Russian and Ottoman forces had failed to make a decisive break in the Allied/Central Powers line. With little prospect of further success, Fişek judged that it would be wiser to break off to concentrate in Southern Sinai and strike a blow at the Eighth Army, catching them off balance while still assembling its forces. He at least had the consolations that he had inflicted heavy losses on his enemy and that the Allied/Central Powers concentrations in the Al Firdan area had been destroyed. At a meeting at Fişek's Sinai HQ on the 02 March Ivan Tyulenev and his Chief of Staff Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov tried to change Fişek's mind, arguing that there were still possibilities for success. Fişek was adamant; Tyulenev finally agreed and formal orders from the Turkish high command in Instanbul were issued that evening calling off the offensive and directing all Axis units to return to their start positions. On the 02 March a massive American air attack on the regin hastened the Russian retreat and by late on the 03 March half of the Sinai had been reoccupied, with the rest following soon.

IS 2 in Palestine, 1944
Still thinking that an offensive was needed in order to break the Allied/Central Powers in the Middle East and in order to protect the vital Arabian oilfields, the Stavka opted once more for an offensive, called Operation Iskra. The southern horn of the operation was to be conducted by the Russian 44 army with the 11th Guards Airborne Division, the 334th Infantry Division and supporting tankovy battalions. Protecting this area was an Italian force known as Y Division, an ad hoc force, which had been formed from the 139th (Sardinian) Brigade, a mixture of Commandos, Grenadier and Carabinieri, elements of the 1st Parachute Brigade and Fiat 13000 "Duce" tanks of C Squadron 142 (Venezia) Regiment under command. The Russian army attacked on the evening of 04 March, their first objectives being "Ave Cesare" corner, an important road junction and a knoll nicknamed Fort Diaz. The VVS had attacked the Italian positions and shot up transport behind the front. At Fort Diaz, D Company of the Venezia division were attacked by the paratroopers of the 11th Guards Airborne Division. After two Russian attacks were repulsed, paratroopers blew holes in the barbed wire and the defenders were soon overwhelmed and destroyed.

T-34 knocked out by a Duce during the Southern Palestine attack
A hasty counter-attack by the Venezia on Fort Diaz was attempted but the attack was stopped just forward of the start line and the Venezia withdrew with many casualties. Italian artillery bombarded the hill for several hours with all the medium and heavy guns and when the Venezia attacked again, it was empty save for six shell-shocked Russians. The paratroopers had been devastated by the shelling and had no choice but to withdraw. The summit was no bigger than a football pitch and was strewn with human remains, mostly Russians but also the Italians dead of D Company. Carlo Melotti sent forward the Bersaglieri, 600 men of No. 6 Commando, the 56th Reconnaissance Regiment, P40 tanks of the 17th/21st Lancers and elements of the 51st Regio Corpo Carri and the 1st Cavalry Division Eugenio di Savoia. The next day almost as soon as they arrived, the Venezia and the P40 counter-attacked Elat, which was recaptured after some resistance.
The 334th Division struck at Ave Cesare corner just before midnight, surprised and overran the Commando garrison, whose survivors were rescued by Duce tanks. The Russians pressed on to a small ridge 6 miles (9.7 km) to the west of Aqaba, where two battalions of the 11th Guards Airborne Division and a supporting Tankovy company, assaulted a position defended by the Duce tanks of Venezia Squadron, 142nd Regiment Regio Corpo Carri. Firing from hull down positions, the Duce tanks knocked out four T-44, disabled three T-34 and destroyed an 88 mm gun for the loss of a Duce. The Russian infantry had many casualties and the survivors withdrew after determined resistance by the Italian infantry supported by massed artillery. The Italians received reinforcements and counter-attacked after another bombardment, pushing the Russians back from Ave Cesare corner into the hills west of Quairah during the night.

Duce tanks move up on 06 March, to meet the Southern Russian attack
After dark, the Italian advanced and mopped up halfway along the road to Steamroller Farm, held by about 2,000 men from two battalions of the 11th Guards Airborne Division, elements of a Tankovy Grenadier regiment, 57 mm ZiS-2 and 88 mm anti-tank guns. A Squadron of the 51st Regio Corpo Carri in Duce tanks and a company of Carabinieri, set off just before midday on 06 March and by 4:00 p.m. they were in sight of the farm. Russian artillery fire was directed at them and shortly afterwards they were attacked by Ilyushin Il-10 dive bombers, losing five Duces. The 1st Troop pressed forward into the farm area with the Carabinieri but were pinned down. Another Duce tank commanded by General Giorgio Carlo Calvi di Bergolo arrived and two tanks made a 1,400 m dash across an exposed causeway covered by an 88 mm gun. At 18 m the gun fired and grazed the turret, before the crew fled and the Duce flattened the gun; the Duces then reached the summit of the pass and surprised the Russians.
The tanks came across Russian transport and shot them up as they went by, knocked out two T-34 and two anti-tank guns as they tried to deploy. The Russians fled and as dusk fell the column was destroyed. Bergolo was ordered to rejoin their squadron but the leading tank stalled and had to be given a tow start. The tank sortie destroyed two 88 mm, two 75 mm and two 57 mm, anti-tank guns, four smaller anti-tank guns, 25 wheeled vehicles, two 3-inch mortars, the two T-34 and inflicted nearly 200 casualties. The depleted11th Guards Airborne Division had suffered many more casualties; the Russian commander had assumed that the tank sortie was from a much bigger formation and sent a message to the Middle East High Command that he had been attacked by a "mad tank battalion which had scaled impossible heights" and "compelled his ultimate withdrawal".
Meanwhile in the north, the Russian army had 77 tanks, including twenty IS of the 501st Heavy Tankovy Battalion and motorised infantry from the 10th Yuk Division. The rest of the 10th Yuk Division was to attack once the objectives were achieved and advance westwards, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Al-Arish. The area was held by the 128th (Milano) Infantry Brigade and numerous batteries of artillery. On 04 March, the northern attack of the Middle East Army commenced and the Russians quickly captured El Sheikh Zowaidn. The 172nd Field Regiment, with three batteries of Cannone da 90/53 and 155 Battery were dug in around a farm, with the 5th Battalion Milanese Regiment. They were to monitor Russian movements but most were poorly-trained, with no battle experience. At Milan Farm the defenders were to absorb the first shock of an Axis attack on Rafah. It was estimated the Russians attacked with thirteen infantry battalions c. 13,000 men, with the supporting troops of two divisions c. (30,000 men) on the northern front.

Cannone da 90/53
During the night Verey light signals began to go up in the hills around Rafah, and at 6:30 a.m. next morning, Russian mortar fire began on the Italian guns. After 45 minutes, Russian tanks drove down the road from Tal as Sultan and four of the Cannone da 90/53 opened fire. No. 1 gun had been specially placed at the top of a slope to cover the approach from Tal as Sultan and fired over open sights. The leading Russian tanks ran onto mines, were damaged and withdrew with the infantry. At 11:00 a.m. the Russians made another attempt on the left flank but F Troop opened fire and hit four Russian tanks, setting them ablaze. Russian infantry engaged B Company with small-arms fire but were repulsed. Around midday, the Russians prepared to attack again but massed Italian artillery-fire broke up the attack before it began.
By 1:00 p.m., thirty Russian tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry in support, had worked round both flanks and were within 550 m. The highest observation post was attacked, its wireless transmitter destroyed and telephone lines cut. Eight Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3s fighters strafed each gun in turn all day, inflicting casualties and also attacked rear areas. Several of the Italian vehicles on the road were hit and ammunition had to be salvaged at risk by the gunners. Bivouacs and dumps were also hit and left burning.
Just after 2:30 p.m., Russian lorried infantry turned the southern flank by infiltrating forward under cover of a hill. At 3:00 p.m., Russian infantry commenced small-arms fire at close range and a column of tanks led by an IS moved along the road into the battery position, as thirteen more tanks gave covering fire from hull down positions. The Italian gunners switched to armour piercing shot and knocked out three tanks which blocked the road.
At 5:30 a.m. another Russian attack on the remaining guns began; seven tanks were hit but, one by one, the remaining Italian guns were hit by tank gun and machine-gun fire. By nightfall, only one Cannone da 90/53 and several Breda 30 guns remained, engaging the Russian tanks at ranges of from 9.1–18.3 m. "Tanks are on us" was the last wireless message and Bergolo ordered the evacuation of battalion headquarters. When the battle began there had been nine officers and 121 other ranks; nine men reached Italian lines, seven of whom were wounded.
Back at al-Arish, the 128th Brigade had support from Cannone da 90/53, Cannone da 47/32 and two squadrons of Duces of the Eugenio di Savoia. A tank killing zone had been prepared with minefields, anti tank guns, hull down Duce tanks and direct fire areas for medium and heavy artillery. A cab rank of Fiat G.55 fighter-bombers circled overhead in communication with the ground, waiting for targets.

G-55 fighter-bombers in Palestine
On 06 March, Fişek ordered the Russo/Turkish forces to hurry up and he ordered a pre-dawn attack by about ten T-44 and lorried infantry, after an artillery bombardment against the positions of B Company, 2/4th Battalion. Duce tanks knocked out four T-44, which halted the attack. The Russians then attacked again and penetrated C Company but the tanks of the Eugenio di Savoia stopped the Russians until dusk. B Company was ordered to withdraw, after a platoon was overrun and a second was in danger of collapse. C Company was overrun by Russian infantry and armour later in the day but the attackers were unable to advance further.
The next day Andrei Grechko found he was only 16 km from the main Italian line but was down to six operational tanks. The Italian reinforcements arrived and a thick fog fell across the valley, which hampered Regia Areonautica sorties; the Russians attacked again and in the fog, D Company was surprised and a platoon was overrun but the rest of the attack was defeated by artillery-fire and the 1/4th Battalion infantry. The fog lifted and immediately the Regia Areonautica made eight sorties down into the valley and caught Russian supply columns, as artillery concentrations were directed by the FOOs and Air Observation Post observers. The Russian tanks and infantry suffered many casualties; the serpentine road along which the Axis transport was concentrated, was turned into a wilderness of bomb craters and burning vehicles, which forced a withdrawal. The 2/4th Battalion held on to their last positions as the Russians tried to advance along a wadi to the south. The Italians surprised them with a counter-attack in which forty Russian were killed and sixty captured. Further along the road towards al-Arish, artillery broke up another Russian attack. An Italian tank officer went forward to investigate, saw no sign of Russians, reached the tanks and found the turrets open and the crews gone.
On 11 March, the Russians withdrew, having lost over forty tanks and nearly sixty other armoured vehicles; two out of the four Russian infantry battalions were taken prisoner, in addition to the killed and wounded. Many of the prisoners were from the German/Polish front and claimed that they had never experienced such weight of bombardment. The offensive had failed to achieve the main objectives and Budyonny called off further attacks.

A knocked out Russian IS-2, after the attack against Italian lines
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The battle of Palestine: Finale
The battle of Palestine: Finale
Despite the failure of the Russo/Ottoman army to push the Allied/Central Powers forces in Palestine, several other attempts were made, thanks to the support of more Russian/Ottoman forces coming on the front. However, as the Eastern/Balkan fronts were in bad shape, the Middle East front often did not have as much priority as the other ones. None the less, the Russians attempted a second attack.
It was foggy when the Axis bombardment of the Italian forward positions began at 6:00 a.m., and for ninety minutes tanks, guns and other vehicles emerged from the heights between Rafah and Kerem Shalom. Tanks of the 15th Tankovy Division moved along the road and then turned north against the positions of the 7th Armoured Division and were engaged by the anti-tank guns of the 131st Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Alpini Regiment. On the 2nd Somali Division front, the 164th Light Afrika Division was engaged by Autoprotetto S.37s of the 21st Somali Battalion, which met seven vehicles carrying infantry and anti-tank guns at close range in the fog. The Somali inflicted many casualties, for the loss of two casualties and a Autoprotetto. Small parties of Axis infantry probed the front and as the fog dispersed, artillery was seen moving up. The Italian artillery did not reply, being under orders to wait until the attackers were in range of the maximum number of guns; the anti-tank guns were only to commence firing at short range. The 5th Regio Corpo Artilleria (RCA) did not begin to fire until Axis tanks were engaged by the forward six-pounders and then bombarded infantry and lorries following the tanks, isolating them.
At about 8:30 a.m., tanks were reported to be converging on Al Tayara and the 28th Somali Battalion reported ten tanks and thirty trucks moving up the wadi to its right. The tanks reached a dummy minefield and then diverted towards rising ground, as had been intended. Two Cannone da 47/32 anti-tank guns from the 73rd Anti-Tank Regiment opened fire and knocked out four T-34 Specials at 370 m and the mortars of the 28th Somali Battalion knocked out a fifth tank. When the crews alighted, mortars, machine-guns and artillery joined in. The attackers were taken by surprise and disorganised but then spotted the anti-tank guns and returned fire. A Cannone da 47/32 was damaged and two men wounded but the rest kept firing until the other weapons commenced fire and the surviving tanks retired. Fifteen prisoners from the 10th Tankovy Division, including the tank company commander, were taken.
Just after 9:00 a.m., 21st Battalion mortar fire dispersed a group of infantry dismounting from vehicles and by about 10:00 a.m., the remaining infantry withdrew and dug in 4.8–6.4 km to the rear. The Italian artillery fired everywhere, especially on areas registered beforehand, as soon as Axis troops or vehicles moved into them. The leading tanks of the 21st Tankovy Division crossed a skyline and were engaged, observers of the 201st Alpine Brigade reporting that they "wandered rather vaguely". The 2nd Somali Division was not attacked again during the morning but much disorganised movement of tanks and transport was seen. It was realised that the main Axis effort was against Abou Ogala and further south. On the left flank, Reconnaissance units 3 and 33 with nine tanks, worked round to the Abou Ogala road against the Arab Flying Column, which repulsed attacks along the road from a point 19 km south of Rafah, losing 27 casualties during the day.
In the afternoon, Axis infantry joined in the attacks and from about 3:30 p.m. were dispersed by the 2nd Somali Division artillery. At 5:45 p.m., about 1,000 infantry with tank support advanced west of Point 270 and were devastated by the 2nd Somali Division artillery, the 5th Army Group Royal Artillery field and medium regiments and the heavy anti-aircraft guns on a landing ground nearby. A troop of captured 88 mm guns with Regio Corpo Artilleria crews operated as anti-aircraft guns. On the 51st Infantry Division Siena and 7th Armoured Division fronts, the Axis attacks were more determined but had little success. At 6:00 p.m., 27 Axis tanks and infantry were engaged by the Somali field artillery, after which there were no more attacks on the Somali front. At about 8:30 p.m., Semyon Budyonny accepted a suggestion from Hayrullah Fişek to end the attack, since it could not be continued without risking losses which would compromise the defence of Palestine.
Sorties by VVS and Osmanlı tayyare bölükleri (OTB) fighter-bombers and fighters were made during the day but had little effect as the Regia Areonautica controlled the air above the battlefield. Two Somali were killed and two wounded in a raid over the 4th Field Ambulance and Yakovlev Yak-3 was shot down by the 26th Battalion with a captured DShK machine-gun. As dusk fell, the attackers withdrew, a detachment of Bersaglieri Corps and other units at Al Tayara having remained undisturbed. During the night of 6/7 April, XXX Corps patrols went out to find out if the attack would resume on 7 April, despite the Axis tank casualties, which as dark fell on 6 April, were already known to be 40–50, making another attack unlikely. On the Somali Division front, vigilance was maintained in case of an outflanking move south of the defensive line and after dark the five tanks knocked out on the 28th Battalion front were demolished, along with the others disabled along the XXX Corps front.

Italian Skoda 75 mm Model 15 anti-tank gun in action
After this last attack, the Italian/American forces finally launched an offensive. On 19 April 1944, 3rd Army Corps (General Brunetto Brunetti) commenced Operation Sulla. The 50th Infantry Division Regina (Major-General Alessandro Piazzoni) managed to penetrate the line held by the Ottoman 136th Armoured Division near Re'im. The terrain and rain prevented the deployment of tanks, aircraft and anti-tank guns, which left the infantry isolated. A counter-attack by 15th Tankovy Division and the 136th Armoured Division on 22 April, recaptured much of the bridgehead. 3rd Army Corps prepared a new attack towards Patish, in which the 4th Arab Infantry Division (Major-General Amin al-Husseini) was to make a night attack on 23/24 April, around the inland end of the line. This would coincide with the wide left hook manoeuvre Messe was planning.
Operation Sulla 2 was planned to start on the afternoon of 26 April, with a preliminary operation on the night of 25/26 April to capture Height 184. The Somali Corps was to attack into the Ofakim Gap on a two-brigade front and capture the Axis defences from Sayeret Shaked, which would be exploited by the 1st Armoured Division. After assembling during the night and lying in concealed positions all day, the 5th Somali Brigade was to attack on the right and the 6th Somali on the left, preceded by the 8th Armoured Brigade and a creeping barrage by the Somali and X Corps artillery. The attacking troops were to move to high ground 1,800 m forward and then to a second objective at a wadi 2,300 m further on. The 1st Armoured Division, led by the 2nd Armoured Brigade, was to move through at 6:15 p.m. to an area 2,700 m beyond the Somali Corps final objective and as soon as the moon rose (at about 11:15 p.m.), advance on Tifrah.
Regia Areonautica heavy bombers would begin harassment of the Axis defenders led by General Fişek the night before, with attacks on transport and communications until 3:30 p.m. Day bombers would then begin low-altitude pattern bombing, to add to Axis disorganisation, followed by relays of fighter-bombers every 15 minutes for 2 1⁄2 hours. Macchi C.205 would escort the bombers and fighter-bombers and the remainder of the Palestinian Tactical Air Force (PTAF) would bomb Axis airfields. A Regia Areonautica forward observation officer was to brief pilots by nominating landmarks, marking targets with red and blue smoke; friendly troops were to use orange smoke and the artillery would fire smoke shells to signal to the aircrews. On 24 April, Arnim doubted that an Eighth Army attack was likely and was more concerned about Maknassy further north. Despite the slow advance in the south, Budyonny wanted the 1st Army to withdraw to Beit Kama on 25 April but Ivan Tyulenev and Fişek preferred to counter-attack with the 15th Tabkovy Division.

Zero Hour– Painting of the 50th Infantry Division Regina advancing during the Battle of Palestine, 1944
Height 184 fell at 2:50 a.m. to the 21st Somali Battalion and the Allied/Central Powers artillery commenced firing at 4:00 p.m.. The attack began with the 8th Armoured Brigade, followed by infantry battalion carriers and then infantry on foot. It appeared that the 164th Light and 21st Tankovy divisions had not expected a daylight assault and had been surprised; the setting sun, wind and dust had made observation difficult. The Italian tanks had been ordered to press on and the infantry also managed a quick pace, arriving on the first objective and then kept going, despite increasing resistance and delays. An armoured regiment pressed on to Beit Kama beyond the second objective, followed by the 23rd Somali Battalion. On the left, a minefield covered by anti-tank guns was bypassed on both sides to close up to the second objective, clearing a gap for the 1st Armoured Division, despite many Axis posts holding out in the vicinity.
By 28 April, General Fişek gave the order that all Axis forces to be withdrawn to face the X and Somali corps on Jerusalem. On 29 April, the Somali Corps took Bet Shemesh.
Allied/Central Powers advance units had advanced through Nes Harim and reached the outskirt of Jerusalem on 30 April but limited their activity to patrols and probing the Axis defences. Three divisions were chosen for the initial assault: 51st (Highland) Infantry Division on the right, 51st Infantry Division Siena in the centre and the 4th Arab Infantry Division on the left. In the week before the battle, Italian and American bombers began round-the-clock attacks on the defenders.
Instead of attacking Ora, a well defended position, Major-General Husseini, the 4th Arab Division commander, persuaded General Messe to attack Beit Zait using infantry trained in mountain warfare. Beit Zait was defended by the Ottoman XXI Corps with troops of the 80th Infantry Division, the 101st Motorised Division and the Russian 21st Rifle Division. Moza Ilit was taken and the 4th 6th Arab Rifles advanced as far as the plain behind the hills nearly 5 miles (8.0 km) beyond, taking 2,000 prisoners. The 4th Arab Division was not able to exploit the success further, because the Italian X Corps was held up by Russian counter-attacks.

Italian bersaglieri with an anti-tank gun
The 50th Infantry Division Regina met determined resistance from Ottoman marines, well dug in at Har Hotzvim and plentifully supplied with automatic weapons and grenades but the Italians pressed forward, despite high casualties among the 6th Battalion, Bersaglieri; two senior officers, six senior NCOs and junior officers and 118 other ranks were killed. As Italian writer Alberto Moravia reported, "When we were about ten yards away we had reached the top of the slit trench and we killed any of the survivors.... It was no time for pussy footing, we were intoxicated with rage and had to kill them to pay for our fallen comrades."
The Bersaglieri took Point 85 and held it against counter-attacks. The 1/4th Battalion of the 4th Arab Division made contact with the 50th Infantry Division Regina on the right flank and helped them to cross an anti-tank ditch.
51st Infantry Division Siena attacked with the 152nd Brigade and seized the top of Beit Hanina, then made a gap through the minefield and the anti tank ditch on the left flank.
Later, on 01 May 1944, Jerusalem fell to Italian troops, with the Arabian flag raised on top of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Middle East Front 1944
At this point, for the Axis the situation was in extremely bad shape: after the fall of Jerusalem, massive revolts in Ottoman Arabian territories occurred, with many factions fighting for the independence of Arabia. Italian forces were quick to send aid to the Arab rebels, causing a massive part of Arabia to fall into Central Powers hand. Konstantin Rodzaevsky wrote that it was on the same scale as the defeat in the Battle of Berlin; Arabialin was coined for the defeat. Luckly, a defensive line was created with the support of Russia. At this point the Ottoman empire was limited to its pre WW1 borders with the exception of Palestine and the Red Sea coast. However, as Russian General Konstantin Rokossovsky would say in private, the war was already lost. With the fall of the Communist regimes in Western Europe, German forces could completely focus on the Russian threat. However, as India was not fully occupied by the Allied/Central Powers forces, the ex-socialist republic was occupied by combined Russian/Chinese forces, creating two new states subjugated to the Axis: the Government of Free India under Subhas Chandra Bose as a puppet state of China, and the Imperial Comissariat of India, an Imperial Comissariat of Russia, one of the last ones to fall. During the invasion of India, China would annex Tibet and Nepal, quickly overwhelming the weak defences present there.

Map showing the Imperial Comissariat of India in Dark Grey, and the Government of Free India in Light Yellow, on 30 August 1944.
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The battle of Minsk: the titanic stuggle of the two eagles and the bear
The battle of Minsk: the titanic stuggle of the two eagles and the bear
As the liberation of the Balkans continued, the Wehrmacht moved to a general offensive in the centre. By April 1944, the Germans controlled half of Belarus. Army Group Center came under significant pressure as such. Minsk fell to the Germans on 8 April 1944, and Barysaŭ fell on 14 April. The German Central Front prepared for an offensive for the liberation of Belarus from Russian forces with the support of the newly arrived American Armed Forces in Eastern Europe (AAFEE). By April 1944 the Central sector of the Russian front was in strategic crisis.
Since December 1943 Field Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky had been strongly requesting "unrestricted operational freedom" to allow him to use his forces in a fluid manner. On 6 April 1944, Rokossovsky met with Stalin at the headquarters in Stalingrad to discuss the proposals he had previously sent. He received an approval from Stalin for a counteroffensive against the German/American forces advancing in Belarus. On 12 April 1944, the remaining Russian forces were reorganised. On 18 April, Stalin arrived at Army Group Centre headquarters at Smolensk just hours before the Germans liberated Homel.
Once given freedom of action, Rokossovsky intended to utilise his forces to make a series of counterstrokes into the flanks of the Russian armoured formations, with the goal of destroying them while retaking Minsk. The II Istrebki Tankovy Corps had arrived from Siberia in March 1944, refitted and up to near full strength. Armoured units from the 1st Tankovy Army of Army Group A had pulled out of Manchuria and further strengthened Rokossovsky's forces.
The operation was hastily prepared and did not receive a name. Later known as Battle of Maladzečna, it commenced on 21 April, as 4th Tankovy Army under General Nikolai Vatutin launched a counter-attack. The Russian forces cut off the German/American mobile spearheads and continued the drive north, retaking Maladzečna on 15 May and Druzhnyy on 18 May. A German/American offensive launched on 25 April by the Southern Front against Army Group South had to be abandoned by 7 May to allow the attacking formations to disengage and redeploy to the centre to counter the threat of the advancing Russian forces under Rokossovsky. Exhaustion of both the Nasist Army and the Wehrmacht resulted in the cessation of operations for both sides by mid-May. The counteroffensive left a salient extending into the Russian area of control, centered on the city of Minsk.


Russian plan of attack
Pavel Rotmistrov main attack was delivered by XLVII Tankovy Corps, supported by 45 IS-3 of the attached 505th Heavy Tank Battalion. Covering their left flank was XLI Tankovy Corps, with an attached regiment of 83 ISU-122 tank destroyers. On the right flank, XLVI Tankovy Corps consisted at this time of four infantry divisions with just 9 tanks and 31 assault guns. To the left of XLI Tankovy Corps was XXIII Army Corps, which consisted of the reinforced 78th Assault Infantry Division and two regular infantry divisions. While the corps contained no tanks, it did have 62 assault guns. Opposing the 9th Army was the Central Front, deployed in three heavily fortified defensive belts.
Rotmistrov chose to make his initial attacks using infantry divisions reinforced with assault guns and heavy tanks, and supported by artillery and the VVS. In doing so he sought to maintain the armoured strength of his tankovy divisions to be used for exploitation once the Wehrmacht defences were breached. Once a breakthrough had been achieved the tankovy forces would move through and advance towards Minsk.
Following a preliminary bombardment and Wehrmacht counter bombardments, the 9th Army opened its attack at 05:30 on 5 June. Nine infantry divisions and one tankovy division, with attached assault guns, heavy tanks and tank destroyers, pushed forward. Two companies of IS-3 tanks were attached to the 6th Infantry Division and were the largest single grouping of IS-3 employed that day. Opposing them were the 13th and 70th Armies of the Central Front.
The 20th Tankovy and 6th Infantry Divisions of the XLVII Tankovy Corps, spearheaded the advance of the XLVII Tankovy Corps. Behind them the remaining two tankovy divisions followed, ready to exploit any breakthrough. The heavily mined terrain and fortified positions of the 15th Rifle Division slowed the advance. By 08:00 safe lanes had been cleared through the minefield. That morning information obtained from prisoner interrogation identified a weakness at the boundary of the 15th and 81st Rifle Divisions caused by the Russian preliminary bombardment. The IS-3 were redeployed and struck towards this area. Wehrmacht formations countered with a force of around 90 Panthers. In the resulting three-hour battle, Wehrmacht armoured units lost 42 tanks while the Russians lost two IS-3 and a further five more immobilized with track damage. While the Wehrmacht counter-attack was defeated and the first defensive belt breached, the fighting had delayed the Russian long enough for the rest of 29th Rifle Corps of the 13th Army – initially deployed behind the first belt – to move forward and seal the breach. Wehrmacht minefields were covered by artillery fire, making efforts to clear paths through the fields difficult and costly. Teletankovy 18 and 26 remote-controlled engineer mine-clearing vehicles met with limited success. Of the 653rd Heavy Tankovy hunter Battalion's 45 ISU-122 sent into battle, all but 12 of them were immobilized by mine damage before 17:00. Most of these were later repaired and returned to service, but the recovery of these very large vehicles was difficult.
On the first day, the XLVII Tankovy Corps penetrated 6 mi (9.7 km) into the Wehrmacht defences before stalling,and the XLI Tankovy Corps reached the heavily fortified small town of Radashkovichy, in the second defensive belt.
Günther von Kluge ordered the 17th Guards and 18th Guards Rifle Corps with the 2nd Panzer Army and 19th Panzer Corps, backed up by close air support, to counterattack the Russian 9th Army the following day on 6 July. However, due to poor coordination, only the 16th Panzer Corps of the 2nd Panzer Army commenced the counterattack on the dawn of 6 June after the preparatory artillery barrage. The 16th Panzer Corps, fielding about 200 tanks, attacked the XLVII Tankovy Corps and ran into the IS-3 tanks of the 505th Heavy Tank Battalion, which knocked out 69 tanks and forced the rest to withdraw to the 17th Guards Rifle Corps of the 13th Army. Later that morning, the XLVII Tankovy Corps responded with its own attack against the 17th Guards Rifle Corps entrenched around the village Buchevichi in the second defensive belt. The attack commenced with an artillery barrage and was spearheaded by the 24 serviceable IS-3 of the 505th Heavy Tank Battalion, but it failed to break the Wehrmacht defence at Buchevichi, and the Russians suffered heavy casualties. At 18:30, the 19th Panzer Corps joined the 17th Guards Rifle Corps further bolstering resistance. Kluge also decided to dig in most of his remaining tanks to minimize their exposure. Vyacha, defended by the 307th Rifle Division of the 29th Rifle Corps, was also concertedly attacked on 6 June by the Russian 292nd and 86th Infantry, 78th Assault Infantry and 9th Tankovy Divisions, but the Russians were unable to dislodge the defenders from the heavily fortified village.
Over the next three days from 7 to 10 June, Rotmistrov concentrated the effort of the 9th Army at Vyacha and Buchevichi, which both sides considered as vital positions. In response, Kluge pulled forces from other parts of the front to these sectors. The Russians attacked Vyacha on 7 June, and captured half of the town after intense house-to-house fighting. A German counterattack the following morning forced the Russians to withdraw, and a series of counterattacks ensued by both sides with control of the town being exchanged several times over the next few days. By 10 June, the Russians had secured most of the town, but German counterattacks continued. The back and forth battles for Vyacha and the nearby Hill 253.5 were battles of attrition, with heavy casualties on both sides. It became referred to by the troops as "mini-Berlin". The war diary of the 9th Army described the heavy fighting as a "new type of mobile attrition battle". Russian attacks on Buchevichi and the nearby village of Yuzufovo failed to penetrate the Russian defences; including a powerful concerted attack on 10 June by about 300 Russian tanks and assault guns from the 2nd, 4th, and 20th Tankovy Divisions, supported by every available VVS air power in the northern face.
On 9 June a meeting between Nikolai Vatutin, Ivan Konev, Pavel Rotmistrov and Sergei Rudenko was held at the headquarters of the XLVII Tankovy Corps. It had become clear to the Russian commanders that the 9th Army lacked the strength to obtain a breakthrough, and their German counterparts had also realized this, but Vatutin wished to maintain the pressure on the Russians in order to aid the southern offensive. By 10 June, the Germans had completely halted the Russian advance.
On 12 June the Germans launched Operation Citadel, their counter-offensive, which threatened the flank and rear of Rotmistrov's 9th Army. The 12th Tankovy Division, thus far held in reserve and slated to be committed to the northern side of the Minsk salient, along with the 36th Motorized Infantry, 18th Tankovy and 20th Tankovy Divisions were redeployed to face the German spearheads.

German motorised troops during Operation Citadel
The battle of Minsk was the bapthism of fire for the AAFEE. At around 04:00 on 5 July, the Russian attack commenced with a preliminary bombardment. Rokossovsky's main attack was delivered by Vatutin's 4th Tankovy Army, which was organized into densely concentrated spearheads. Opposing the 4th Tankovy Army was the American Sixth United States Army, which was composed of the 22nd Infantry Regiment and 23rd Infantry Division. The Americans had constructed three fortified defensive belts to slow and weaken the attacking armoured forces. Though they had been provided superb intelligence, the Front headquarters had still not been able to pinpoint the location where the Russians would place their offensive weight.

SU-100 self-propelled artillery battery in position to provide fire support
The Iosif Stalin Tankovy division was the strongest division in the 4th Tankovy Army. It was supported on its flanks by the 3rd and 11th Tankovy Divisions. The Tankovy IIIs and IVs of the Iosif Stalin had been supplemented by a company of 15 IS-3, which were used to spearhead the attack. At dawn on 5 June, Iosif, backed by heavy artillery support, advanced on a three-kilometre front upon the 66th Infantry Division of the 22nd Infantry Regiment. The Tankovy Regiment, advancing on the left wing, stalled in a minefield and subsequently 36 T-44 were immobilized. The stranded regiment was subjected to a barrage of American anti-tank and artillery fire, which inflicted numerous casualties. Engineers were moved up and cleared paths through the minefield but suffered casualties in the process. The combination of fierce resistance, minefields, thick mud and mechanical breakdowns took its toll. With paths cleared, the regiment resumed its advance towards Druzhnyy. In the ensuing battle, many casualties were suffered including the regimental commander Colonel Merkulov. Due to the fighting, and the marshy terrain south of the village, the regiment once more bogged down.
The tankovy regiment of Iosif Stalin, advancing on the right wing, pushed through to the village of Sininki. The tanks were deployed in an arrow formation to minimise the effects of the American defence, with the IS-3 leading and the T-34s, 44s and assault guns fanning out to the flanks and rear. They were followed by infantry and combat engineers. Attempts by the USAAF to impede the advance were repulsed by the VVS.
The 3rd Tankovy Division, advancing on the left flank of Iosif Stalin, made good progress and by the end of the day had captured Privolnyi and reached Priles'e. The 167th Infantry Division, on the right flank of the 11th Tankovy Division, also made sufficient progress, reaching Obchak by the end of the day. By the end of 5 June, a wedge had been created in the first belt of the American defences.

Russian soldiers move along an anti-tank ditch, while combat engineers prepare charges to breach it
To the west, during the night of 4–5 June, Istrebki combat engineers had infiltrated no-man's land and cleared lanes through the American minefields. At dawn, 5 June, the three divisions of II istrebki Tankovy Corps attacked the 45th Infantry Division of the VI Corps . The main assault was led by a spearhead of 42 IS-3 among 494 tanks and assault guns attacking on a twelve-kilometre front. The 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division advanced on the left flank towards Novyi Dvor. The 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division advanced between the two formations in the center. Following closely behind the tanks were the infantry and combat engineers, coming forward to demolish obstacles and clear trenches. The advance was well supported by the VVS, which greatly aided in breaking Russian strong points and artillery positions.
By 09:00 hours, the II Istrebki Tankovy Corps had broken through the American first belt of defence along its entire front. While probing positions between the first and second American defensive belts, at 13:00, the 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division vanguard came under fire from two M26 tanks, which were destroyed. Forty more American tanks soon engaged the division. The I Armored Corps clashed with the 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division in a four-hour battle, resulting in the American tanks withdrawing. The engagement bought enough time for units of the 24th American Infantry Division, lodged in the American second belt, to prepare itself and be reinforced with additional anti-tank guns. By the early evening, 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division had reached the minefields on the perimeter of the American second belt of defence. The 1st Istrebki Division had secured El'nitsa by 16:10, then pushed forward towards the second belt of defence at Šabany but its attempts to break through were rebuffed. By the end of the day, the 1st Istrebki Division had sustained 97 dead, 522 wounded and 17 missing and lost about 30 tanks. Together with the 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division, it had forced a wedge far into the defences of the VI Corps.
The 3rd Istrebki Tankovy Division was making slow progress. They had managed to isolate the 108th Infantry Division, 45th Infantry Division (of the XXIII Corps), from the rest of the division but its attempts to sweep the regiment eastward into the flank of the neighbouring 23rd Infantry Division (of the XXIII Corps) had failed when the regiment was reinforced by the 22nd Armored Division. The commander of II Istrebki Tankovy Corps, requested aid from the III Tankovy Corps to his right but it had no units to spare. By the end of the day, the 3rd Istrebki Tankovy had made very limited progress. The lack of progress undermined the advance made by its sister divisions and exposed the right flank of the corps to American forces.
The VI Corps, which confronted the attack by the XLVIII Tankvoy Corps and II Istrebki Tankovy Corps, was reinforced with tanks from the I Armored Corps, the 2nd Armored Division and the 5th Armored Division. The 44th Infantry Division and 90th Infantry Division divisions were moved up to the vicinity of Priles'e, in the path of the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division. The 93rd Infantry Division was deployed further back.

American Bazooka anti-tank rifle team during the fighting
Facing the III Tankovy Corps and Corps Novikov (commanded by Vasily Novikov), was the 7th Guards Army, dug in on the high ground on the eastern bank of the Northern Donets. The two German corps were tasked with crossing the river, breaking through the VII Corps and covering the right flank of the 4th Tankovy Army. The 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion, equipped with 45 IS-3, was also attached to the III Tankovy Corps, with one company of 15 IS-3 attached to each of the corps' three tankovy divisions.
At the Obchak bridgehead eight infantry battalions of the 6th Tankovy Division marched under heavy American bombardment. Part of a company of IS-3 from the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion was able to cross before the bridge was destroyed. The rest of the 6th Tankovy Division was unable to cross further south due to a traffic jam and intense American air bombardment.
To the south of the 6th Tankovy Division, the 19th Tankovy Division crossed the river but was delayed by mines. VVS bombed the bridgehead in a friendly fire incident, wounding 6th Tankovy Division commander Mikhail Katukov and Ivan Sukhov of the 19th Tankovy Division. Further south, infantry and tanks of 7th Tankovy Division advanced.
Operating to the south of 7th Tankovy Division, were the 106th Infantry Division and the 320th Infantry Division of Corps Novikov. The two formations attacked across a 32 kilometres (20 mi) front without armour support. The advance began well, with the crossing of the river and a swift advance against the 71st Infantry Division. Corps Novikov took the village of Zayamochnoe, penetrating the first United States Army defence line. An American counter-attack supported by about 40 tanks was beaten off, with the assistance from artillery and flak batteries. After having suffered 2,000 casualties since the morning and still facing considerable resistance from the American forces, the corps dug in for the night.
Delaying the progress allowed the United States Army forces time to prepare their second belt of defence to meet the Russian attack on 6 June. The 7th Corp, which had absorbed the attack of III Tankovy Corps and Corps "Novikov", was reinforced with two divisions from the reserve. The 9th Infantry Division was moved up to the second belt of defence, in the path of the III Tankovy Corps.

VVS ZSU-37 unit
By the evening of 6 June, the American Front had committed all of its reserves, except for three divisions under the XXXVII Corps; yet it could not decisively contain the 4th Tankovy Army. The XLVIII Tankovy Corps now had only the United States Army second defensive belt blocking it from breakthrough into the unfortified American rear. This forced the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force to commit their strategic reserves to reinforce the American Front: the 5th Armored Division and 9th Armored Division, as well as the 2nd Armored Division from the Southeastern Front. Edward H. Brooks objected to this premature piecemeal commitment of the strategic reserve, but a personal call from the American High Command forced him to comply. In addition, on 7 June Ernest N. Harmon ordered the 17th Air Division – the air fleet serving the Southeastern Front – to support the 2nd Air Division in serving the Front. On 7 June, the 5th Armored Division began advancing to Kalita. 5th Armored Division commander, Major General Lunsford E. Oliver, described the journey: "By midday, the dust rose in thick clouds, settling in a solid layer on roadside bushes, grain fields, tanks and trucks. The dark red disc of the sun was hardly visible. Tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery tractors, armoured personnel carriers and trucks were advancing in an unending flow. The faces of the soldiers were dark with dust and exhaust fumes. It was intolerably hot. Soldiers were tortured by thirst and their shirts, wet with sweat, stuck to their bodies."
The 10th Armored Division, then still subordinate to the V Corps, was rushed ahead of the rest of the army, arriving at Kalita on the night of 7 June, and 2nd Armored Division arrived at Ravnopol'e by morning of 8 June. Major General Willis D. Crittenberger ordered a powerful counterattack by the V Corps, II Corps, 2nd and 10th Armored Division, in all fielding about 593 tanks and self-propelled guns and supported by most of the Front's available air power, which aimed to defeat the II Istrebki Tankovy Corps and therefore expose the right flank of XLVIII Tankovy Corps. Simultaneously, the 6th Armored Division was to attack the XLVIII Tankovy Corps and prevent it from breaking through to the free American rear. Although intended to be concerted, the counterattack turned out to be a series of piecemeal attacks due to poor coordination. The 10th Armored Division' attack began on the dawn of 8 June but they ran straight into the antitank fire of the 2nd and 3rd Istrebki Divisions, losing most of its forces. Later that morning, the 5th Armored Division' attack was repelled by the 3rd Istrebki Division. The 2nd Armored Division joined in the afternoon and was also repelled. The 2nd 2nd Armored Division, with its presence unknown to the II Istrebki Tankovy Corps, advanced towards the 167th Infantry Division. But it was detected by RUssian air reconnaissance just before the attack had materialized, and was subsequently decimated by Russian ground-attack aircraft armed with Nudelman N-37 anti tank cannons and at least 50 tanks were destroyed. Although a fiasco, the American counterattack succeeded in stalling the advance of the II Istrebki Tankovy Corps throughout the day

Thunderclouds over the battleground. Intermittent heavy rains created mud and marsh that made movement difficult
By the end of 8 June, II Istrebki-Tankovy Corps had advanced about 29 kilometres and broken through the first and second defensive belts. However, slow progress by the XLVIII Tankovy Corps caused Konev to shift elements of the II Istrebki-Tankovy Corps to the west to help the XLVIII Tankovy Corps regain its momentum. On 10 June the full effort of the corps was shifted back to its own forward progress. The direction of their advance now shifted toward Dukorshchina. Konev had discussed this move with Rokossovsky since early April, and it was a part of the 4th Tankovy Army's plan since the outset of the offensive. By this time, however, the Americans had shifted reserve formations into its path. The defensive positions were manned by the 2nd Armored Division, reinforced by the 9th Airborne Division and 106th Infantry Division, both from the Fifteenth United States Army.
Though the Russian advance in the south was slower than planned, it was faster than the Americans expected. On 9 June, the first Russian units reached Smilavichy. The next day, the first Russian infantry entered the village. Despite the deep defensive system and minefields, Russian tank losses remained lower than the Americans's. At this point, Konev ordered the II Istrebki-Tankovy Corp to attack toward the northeast in the direction of Dukorshchina. The main concern of Rokossovsky and Ivan Yefimovich Petrov was the inability of the 27th Mechanized Corps to advance and protect the eastern flank of the II Istrebki-Tankovy Corps. On 11 June, the 27th Mechanized Corps finally achieved a breakthrough.

Vehicles of II Istrebki-Tankovy Corps advancing toward Dukorshchina on 11 June
Throughout 10 and 11 June, the II Istrebki-Tankovy Corps continued its attack toward Dukorshchina. On the night of 11 June, Petrov issued orders for the attack to continue the next day. The plan was for the 3rd Istrebki Tankovy Division to drive northeast until it reached Korzuny. Once there, they were to strike southeast to attack the American positions at Dukorshchina from the flanks and rear. The 1st and 2nd Istrebki Tankovy divisions were to wait until 3rd Istrebki Tankovy Division attack had destabilised the American positions at Dukorshchina; and once underway, the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division was to attack the main American defences dug in on the slopes southwest of Dukorshchina. To the division's right, the 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division was to advance westward, then turn southward away from Dukorshchina to roll up the American lines opposing the III Tankovy Corps' advance and force a gap. During the night of 11 June, Oliver moved his 5th Armored Division to an assembly area just behind Dukorshchina in preparation for a massive attack the following day. At 5:45 Istrebki  headquarters started receiving reports of the sound of tank engines as the Americans moved into their assembly areas. American artillery and T34 Calliope regiments were redeployed in preparation for the counterattack.

Firing 4.5 inch rockets from M4-Sherman "Calliope" multiple rocket launcher, mounted on M-4, No. A-3 tank
At around 08:00, an American artillery barrage began. At 08:30, Oliver radioed his tankers: "Steel, Steel, Steel! Give'em hell boys!", the order to commence the attack. Down off the west slopes, before Dukorshchina, came the massed armour of five tank brigades from the American 18th and 29th Armored Division of United States Army Centre. The American tanks advanced down the corridor, carrying mounted infantrymen of the 9th Airborne Division on the tanks. To the north and west, the 3rd Istrebki Tankovy Division was engaged by the American 33rd Infantry Division. Tasked with flanking the American defences around Dukorshchina, the unit first had to beat off a number of attacks before they could go over onto the offensive. Most of the division's tank losses occurred late in the afternoon as they advanced through mine fields against well-hidden American anti-tank guns. Although the 3rd Istrebki succeeded in advancing into American helded territory, their hold was tenuous and it cost the division half of its armour. The majority of Russian tank losses suffered at Dukorshchina occurred here. To the south, the American 18th and 29th Armored Division had been thrown back by the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division. The 2nd Istrebki Tankovy Division also repelled attacks from the 2nd Armored Division. VVS local air superiority over the battlefield also contributed to the American losses, partly due to the USAAF being directed against the Russian units on the flanks of II Istrebki Tankovy Corps. By the end of the day, the Americans had fallen back to their starting positions.

Russian soldiers pause during the fighting
Neither the 5th Armored Division nor the II Istrebki Tankovy Corps accomplished their objectives. Although the American counterattack failed with heavy losses, throwing them back onto the defensive, they did enough to stop a Russian breakthrough. During the defensive preparations in the months leading up to the Russian offensive, the German/American forces also planned and prepared counteroffensive operations that would be launched after the Russian offensive had halted.

German soldiers in Radashkovichy pass by a Church
German offensive operations were planned to begin after the strength of the Russian forces had been dissipated by their Minsk offensive. As the Russians momentum in the north slowed, the Germans launched Operation Roland on 12 June against Army Group Centre in the Radashkovichy salient. The Northern Front, under the command of Fedor von Bock, attacked the western face of the Radashkovichy salient while the Eastern Front, commanded by Ferdinand Schörner, attacked from the south. The Eastern Front's assault was led by the 11th Army, under General Erich von Manstein, and was supported by the 1st and 5th Panzer Corps. The German spearheads sustained heavy casualties, but pushed through and in some areas achieved significant penetrations. These thrusts endangered Russian supply routes and threatened the 9th Army with encirclement. With this threat, 9th Army was compelled to go over fully to the defensive.
The thinly stretched 2nd Tankovy Army stood in the way of this German force. The Russian commanders had been wary of such an attack and forces were quickly withdrawn from the Minsk offensive to meet the German offensive.
Operation Roland reduced the Radashkovichy salient and inflicted substantial losses on the Russian military, paving the way for the liberation of Maladzečna. German losses were heavy, but were replaced. The offensive allowed the Germans to seize the strategic initiative, which they retained for the remainder of the war.

The crew of a Panzer III from the 2nd Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich rest after a rainstorm had poured over the battlefield during Operation Roland
In the south Operation Leader was intended as the main American offensive for 1944. Its aim was to destroy the 4th Tankovy Army and the 27th Mechanized Corps, and cut off the extended southern portion of Army Group Centre. After the heavy losses sustained the Americans needed time to regroup and refit, delaying the start of the offensive until 3 July. Diversionary attacks, launched two weeks earlier across Babrujsk, drew the attention of Russian reserves and thinned the defending forces that would face the main blow. The offensive was initiated against the northern wing of Army Group Centre. They drove through the Russian positions, making broad and deep penetrations. By 5 July, the Americans had liberated Mahilëŭ.
By 12 July, the outskirts of Vicebsk had been reached. The American advance was finally halted by a counter-attack by the 2nd and 3rd Istrebki Tankovy Divisions. In the ensuing tank battles, the American armies suffered heavy losses in armour. After this setback, the Americans focused on Vicebsk. After heavy fighting the city was liberated on 23 July.

Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk commemorates the Wehrmacht/United States Army losses and victory
The campaign was a strategic German/American success. The Russians, despite using more technologically advanced armour than in previous years, were unable to break through the in-depth German/American defences and were caught off guard by the significant operational reserves of the Wehrmacht/United States Army. This result changed the pattern of operations on the Eastern Front, with the Central Powers gaining the operational initiative. The German victory was costly, with the Wehrmacht losing considerably more men and materiel than the Russian Army. However, with the support of the United States and the fall of Western Europe the German army managed to recovre. Konstantin Rokossovsky wrote: "With the failure of the battle of Minsk we have suffered a decisive defeat. The armoured formations, reformed and re-equipped with so much effort, had lost heavily in both men and equipment and would now be unemployable for a long time to come. It was problematical whether they could be rehabilitated in time to defend the Eastern Front ... Needless to say the [Germans] exploited their victory to the full. There were to be no more periods of quiet on the Eastern Front. From now on, the enemy was in undisputed possession of the initiative."
With victory, the initiative firmly passed to the Wehrmacht. For the remainder of the war the Russians were limited to reacting to Central Powers advances, and were never able to regain the initiative or launch a major offensive on the Eastern Front. The Japanese offensive in Siberia and the Italian breakthrough in the Ottoman empire also created further frotns, further diverting Russian resources and attention.
Though the location, plan of attack, and timing were determined by Stalin, he blamed the defeat on his General Staff. Unlike German Chancellor Kuno Graf von Westarp, who gave his commanding generals the liberty to make important command decisions, Stalin's interference in Russian military matters progressively increased while his attention to the political aspects of the war decreased. The opposite was true for Westarp; throughout the Minsk campaign, he trusted the judgment of his commanders, and as their decisions led to battlefield success it increased his trust in their military judgment. Westarp stepped back from operational planning, only rarely overruling military decisions, resulting in the Wehrmacht gaining more freedom of action during the course of the war.
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The Japanese counteroffensive in Siberia: Part 1
The Japanese counteroffensive in Siberia: Part 1
Russian forces had been pushed back from Manchuria during thanks to Allied Central Powers offensives. The Allies/Central Powers (mostly the Japanese and the Americans) advanced rapidly against an enemy that put up little resistance. But after the reconquest of Vladivostok in late March 1944, the Allies/Central Powers paused to re-group and organise before continuing their advance from Vladivostok to the rest of Siberia. The pause allowed the Russians to solidify their lines—something they had been unable to do in Manchuria.
By the middle of April 1944, the three Siberian Allied/Central Powers army groups; the American-Canadian 21st Army Group (Field Marshal Omar Bradley) in the East, the Japanese 12th Army Group (Lieutenant General Eitaro Uchiyama) in the center, and the Japanese-American 6th Army Group (Lieutenant General Seiichi Kita) in the west, formed a broad front under the Supreme Allied Central Powers Commander in Siberia, General Yoshijirō Umezu of the Kwantung army and his headquarters.
While Bradley and Uchiyama each favored relatively direct thrusts into Russia (with Bradley and Uchiyama each offering to be the spearhead of such an assault), General Umezu disagreed. Instead, he chose a "broad-front" strategy, which allowed the Allies/Central Powers to gain ground from the beaten Russians in all sectors, allowed the advancing Allied/Central Powers forces to support each other, and minimized the difficulty of supplying the most advanced forces.
The rapid advance through the far east had caused considerable logistical strain, made worse by the lack of any major port other than Vladivostok.
There were two major defensive obstacles to the Allies/Central Powers. The first was the natural barriers made by the harsh Siberian climate. The second was the Stalin Line, which fell under the command, along with all Nasist forces in the east, of Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky.
Although the breakout of Manchuria had taken longer than planned, the advances until April had far exceeded expectations. Uchiyama, for example, by April had four more divisions than planned. One effect was that insufficient supplies could be delivered to the various fronts to maintain the advance: demand had exceeded the expected needs.

Minato (Harbor) 'A' off Vladivostok was critical in the early days for Allied/Central Powers supplies
Much war material still had to be brought ashore across Siberia and through the one remaining Minato harbour (artificial harbors placed in Siberia to compensate the few harbors in Siberia: the better ones were in the Kamchatka peninsula). Although small harbours, such as Artëm were being used, the major forward ports such as the ones in Kamchatka either remained in Russian hands or had been systematically destroyed.
Although fuel was successfully pumped from Karafuto to Siberia via pipeline, this still had to reach the fronts, which were advancing faster than the pipelines could be extended. The railways had been largely destroyed by Allied/Central Powers attacks and would take much effort to repair, so fleets of trucks were needed in the interim. In an attempt to address this acute shortage of transport, three newly arrived Japanese infantry divisions—the 26th, 95th, and 104th—were stripped of their trucks in order to haul supplies. Advancing divisions of the Japanese 12th Army Group left all their heavy artillery and half their medium artillery west of the Amur, freeing their trucks to move supplies for other units. Four American truck companies were given to the Japanese. Unfortunately, 1,500 other American trucks were found to have critical engine faults and were unusable, limiting assistance from that quarter. The Red Ball Express was an attempt to expedite deliveries by truck but capacity was inadequate for the circumstances.
The 6th Army Group advancing from western Siberia/Manchuria were supplied adequately from Japanese Manchuria and the local railway system was less damaged. This source supplied about 25% of the Allied/Central Powers needs.
TThe U.S. supply organization—Communications Zone (COMZ)—is perceived to have failed to expedite solutions and to have been far too bureaucratic, employing 11,000 staff. COMZ and its commander, General John C. H. Lee, were roundly criticised by other American/Japanese generals. Failure to supply forward units led to unofficial arrangements, with pressed units "diverting" supplies intended for others. General Umezu felt he could not exert authority since COMZ was directly answerable to Washington, but General Umezu has been criticised for not exerting more pressure and influence than he did.
At this time the main Allied/Central Powers supply lines still ran back to Vladivostok and Korea, presenting serious logistical problems. The solution was to get other ports into operation quickly.
The delay in securing this area has been blamed on General Umezu and the 21st Army Group commander, Field Marshal Bradley This allowed the Russian 15th Army to dig in there, requiring a protracted campaign by the Canadian First Army that delayed the use of other Siberian/Manchurian ports for months.

Japanese infantry advances in Siberia
In the Western area of operation the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Brigadier Troy H. Middleton) was to conduct the attack on the 49th Division front. The attack plan was to penetrate the Russian defences to allow further forces to attack, then further these gains and capture Komsomol'sk-na-Amure. An assault of two divisions began at 17:45 hours on 10 April, with river bombardment vessels engaging the batteries defending the city and USAF bombers dropping an additional 5,100 t of bombs ninety minutes before zero hour. With the assistance of specialist units from the 79th Armoured Division and the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, such as Kangaroos and Sherman Crab vehicles, the first part of the assault proceeded swiftly, with gaps cleared through the minefield and anti-tank ditches breached. The 49th Infantry Division penetrated the north-eastern section of the Le Havre perimeter first, followed by the 51st Infantry Division attacking on their right from the north. The assault was costly for the specialised armour, the heavy rains making river banks much soggier than the plateaux, slowing flails and other vehicles at their most vulnerable. 79th Armoured Division losing 34 Crab anti-mine flail tanks, two command tanks and 6 Armoured vehicles of the Engineer Combat Battalion. On the second day, the attack continued with support from Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and armoured vehicles; facing the threat of M4A3R3 "Zippo" flame throwing tanks, the last outer defence strongpoints surrendered at 14:00 hours. On the third day of the assault the town centre was cleared by the infantry of both divisions, forcing the Russian garrison commander's official surrender at 11:45, 12 April; 11,300 Russians troops were captured and interned as prisoners of war.
The outline of the second attack was that the northern and southern defences would be contained or diverted while the main attack would drive into Kiselevo from the east. Since Russian artillery posed a threat to the main assault, an attack by the 8th Canadian Brigade would go in here earlier than the main attack. In the main attack, two infantry brigades would advance parallel to the Amur river; the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade (comprising Le Régiment de la Chaudière and the Rifles of Canada) would be north of the road while the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders) would be south of it. Once the main urban area had been captured, 8th Brigade would clear the area around the city and 9th Brigade would clear several river islands.
The main attacks went well. In both attacks, infantry had been transported in Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers. The 8th Brigade captured Dom Otdykha Shargol' and consolidated Bichi.
Chuchi was appreciated by both sides. The 9th Brigade's early advance had been rapid but, once its defenders had recovered from the bombardments, they gave an effective defence with artillery and machine guns. Once paths had been cleared through minefields, however, support was available from M4A3R3 "Zippo" flame-throwing tanks from the 79th Armoured Division and the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse. Much of Chunchi was in Canadian control by nightfall.

A M4A3R3 "Zippo" flame-throwing tank in Siberia
The guns at Nizhnetambovskoye were captured by the 8th Regiment and the other two regiments in the 8th Brigade made progress in the suburbs and hills to the Amur.
The 9th Brigade's North Nova Scotias finally subdued Nizhnetambovskoye by 11:00, the loss of which General Vasily Chuikov believed "would make defence of the Amur harder". The Glengarries, supported by armored vehicles, pushed beyond Shelekhovo. As the Canadians prepared to assault the area, a Japanese colonist disclosed a secret passage and a platoon was taken beneath the walls. At the same time, tank fire and demolition of the gates persuaded the Russian defenders to surrender. A company of North Nova Scotias, supported by armour, broke through to Yagodnyy and the reserve battalion, the Highland Light Infantry of Canada (HLI), moved through the Glengarries to the area. The bridges had been partially destroyed, preventing an immediate advance onto the western side. Later, the HLI stormed across, under the protection of heavy fire from all available weapons. Improvised repairs were made on one bridge overnight and by daylight, light transport was across the river.
Once over Chyorny Mys, 9th Brigade moved north along the Amur's west bank and the Glengarries took the suburb of Tsimmermanovka. The 9th Brigade was under heavy fire from a fortified position (code named Buttercup) on top of the area. Close co-ordination of the infantry advance and a creeping barrage enabled the strongpoint to be taken.
The Divisional reserves, the Highlanders of Ottawa successfully completed their assault on Tsimmermanovka overnight on the 18–19 April. However, unbeknown to them, a large Russian force had remained in tunnels underneath the fortifications and had to be subdued separately on the 20th after making a nuisance of themselves (this was dubbed the bargain basement incident). In the northern area, 8th Brigade's moved against Kiselevo.
The Nova Scotias had continued their advance along the river's west bank to capture Sofiysk. They then moved northwards to deal with the defended areas of Mariinskoye, while the Camerons took Mariinskiy Reyd and covered the southern flank. In the northern area, Dudi was attacked by 8th Brigade and captured the following morning, against stiff opposition.
The 8th Regiment continued the actions on Solontsy, restricting the use of artillery to minimize civilian casualties. Actions against Ukhta got under way with reconnaissance patrols by the Canadian Rifles and the Chaudière. These met with strong resistance, but an attack by bombers from the 352nd Special Operations Wing subdued the defenders and reduced their will to fight.
The capture of De-Kastri was completed in the south allowing for a new port to ressuply. The now disheartened garrison of De-Kastri surrendered to the Canadians after a brief action and bombardment before 08:00. The Amur was now held by the Canadians. The last major resistance was at the two fortresses at Nikolaevsk-na-Amure. An ultimatum calling for prompt surrender was delivered by loudspeakers and the northern fort's garrison marched out to surrender to the HLI shortly before the ultimatum's deadline expired.
The 7th Canadian Brigade sealed off Chlya in early April and the Canadian Rifles captured the coast. The lands West of the Amur were under the controll of the United States and Canada.

Russian artillery battery
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The Japanese counteroffensive in Siberia: Finale
The Japanese counteroffensive in Siberia: Finale
While the US and Canadian army advanced alongside the Amur river, the Japanese were pushing the Russians from other portions of Siberia.
For six days prior to the beginning of the Japanese offensive, Allied/Central Powers heavy artillery targeted Russian defenses in Ignashino. Although the heavy bombardment forced the Russian LXXXI Corps to halt all daylight personnel and supply movements, it had little effect on the pillboxes and strongpoints. The opening aerial bombardment on 2 April also caused little damage to Russian defensive positions; the 450 aircraft which took part in the first wave failed to register a single direct hit on any Russian pillbox. Their targets had been largely obscured by thick smoke from the Allied/Central Powers artillery barrage. As the aircraft finished their assault, the artillery resumed bombarding the front lines, firing 18,696 shells from 372 gun tubes within a couple of hours.
The Japanese 30th Infantry Division began its advance on 2 April, using divisional heavy artillery to target Russian pillboxes; even then it took, on average, thirty minutes to capture a single pillbox. The Japanese found that if they failed to immediately press on to the next pillbox, the Russians were sure to counterattack. Heavy resistance had not been expected, and one company lost 87 combatants in an hour; another lost 93 out of 120 soldiers to a Russian artillery strike. The attackers were slowly able to cross the Amur River and engage Russian pillboxes with flamethrowers and explosive charges. By the afternoon of 2 April, elements of the 30th Infantry Division had breached Russian defenses and reached the town of Erofej Pavlovič. Here, Kwantung's advanced house-to-house and fought a number of gruesome hand grenade duels. Fighting in the town of Khalan was equally terrible; Japanese armor had not been able to get across the Amur River, and therefore could not provide fire support to infantrymen who were attempting to storm the Russian fortifications. The 30th Infantry Division subdued roughly 50 Russian pillboxes on the first day of the advance, often having to envelop the structure and attack from the rear. The division's effort was aided by the Japanese 29th Infantry Division's diversionary attacks on their flank, leading the Russians to believe that that was the Japanese' main attack. On the night of 2 April, the Russian 902nd Assault Gun Battalion was ordered to launch a counterattack against the 30th Infantry Division, but Allied/Central Powers artillery delayed the start of the raid, and ultimately the attempt failed.
Although Japanese armor became available to support the advance on 3 April, the attacking forces were brought to an abrupt halt after a number of Russians counterattacks. The town of Khalan was taken on the second day of the offensive, but fighting through Russian defenses remained slow as Chi-Nu tanks and Type 5 155 mm Ho-Chi artillery guns were brought up to blast pillboxes at point blank range. Fighting had also begun to develop for the town of Uruša, where Japanese tanks rushed in to take the town, only to be pinned down by Russian artillery. Fierce counterattacks followed, with Japanese artillery fire narrowly preventing the Russians from retaking it.

Nasist army soldiers on the Siberian Front
Russian forces continued their counterattacks on Uruša, suffering heavy casualties to Japanese artillery and infantry fire. Although the inability to retake Uruša persuaded Russian commanders that they had insufficient forces to properly defend the approaches to Skovorodino, the counterattacks did tie down Japanese troops which could have otherwise continued the advance. On 4 April, the Allied/Central Powers advance was limited, with only the towns of Takhtamygda and Dzhalinda taken, the Japanese having lost roughly 1,800 soldiers in the past three days of combat. Better progress was made on 5 April, as the 119th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division captured Never. The following day the Russians launched another counterattack against Uruša, again failing to dislodge the Japanese. Russian armor was unable to cope with the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Japanese tanks, and as a last-ditch effort to halt the advance the Russians began concentrated attacks on Japanese positions with what artillery and aircraft they could muster. They found themselves severely hamstrung by lack of reserves, although General Andrei Getman was able to deploy an IS-2 detachment to the town of Skovorodino.
A counterattack developed on 8 April, composed of an infantry regiment, the 1st Assault Battalion, a battle group of the 108th Tankovy Brigade, and some 40 armored fighting vehicles scavenged from available units. Although hindered by Japanese artillery, the left wing of the attack managed to cut off a Japanese platoon, while the right wing reached a road junction north of the town of Skovorodino. A platoon of Chi-Nu supporting an attack on the town of Magdagači suddenly found themselves being attacked from the rear, and were able to repel the Russians only after heavy fighting. Two Russian ISU-152 and a squad of infantry entered Skovorodino, where they were heavily counterattacked. Although the two lumbering vehicles somehow eluded Japanese tanks, they were finally engaged by Japanese infantry and forced back to their starting point. With casualties mounting and the Japanese drawing closer, the Russian high command transferred the 3rd Yankovy Division to Solov'yevsk, followed by the I Istrebki Tankovy Corps, which included the 116th Tankovy Division and Istrebki Heavy Tankovy Battalion 101, an element of the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division.

Japanese Soldiers Marching in The Streets of Takhtamygda
In the south, the 1st Infantry Division began its offensive on 8 April, aiming to capture the town of Solov'yevsk and Hill 231 (dubbed "Crucifix Hill") near the town of Urkan. Their attack was preceded by a massive artillery barrage, which helped them seize their objectives quickly. On Crucifix Hill, Lieutenant General Seiichi Kuno, commander of C Company, 18th Infantry, personally silenced three pillboxes with pole charges and, despite being wounded, continued to lead his men into the attack, earning the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum. By 10 April, the 1st Infantry Division was at its designated position for link-up with the 30th Infantry Division. This success was met with a Russian counterattack toward Hill 231, which was the scene of an intense firefight; the battle ended with the Russians leaving over 40 dead and 35 prisoners. Despite repeated Russian counterattacks slowing its advance, the 1st Infantry Division was able to capture the high ground surrounding the city.
On 10 April, General Jinzaburō Masaki delivered an ultimatum to Russian forces in Solov'yevsk, threatening to bomb the city into submission if the garrison did not surrender. The Russian commander categorically refused. In response, Japanese artillery began to pound the city on 11 April, firing an estimated 5,000 shells, or over 169 short tons of explosives; it was also subjected to intense bombardment by Japanese aircraft.
Japanese casualties were climbing, both from frequent Russian counterattacks and the cost of storming pillboxes. The Russians had spent the night of 10 April turning cellars of houses in the town of Tynda into fortified pillboxes; Japanese attackers were forced to withdraw and instead shell the town into submission. On 12 April, the Russians launched a major counterattack against the Japanese 30th Infantry Division. It was disrupted by heavy artillery fire and well-placed anti-tank defenses. At the village of Ust'-Urkima, a three-hour fight broke out between Russian tanks and a single Japanese Chi-Nu; the Chi-Nu managed to knock out an enemy T-34 and force another one to withdraw, but was soon attacked by others. This lone tank was eventually joined by elements of the 2nd Armored Division, and the Russians were driven from the town. The 30th Infantry Division soon found itself in defensive positions all along its front; nevertheless, it was ordered to continue pushing south for its intended link-up with the 1st Infantry Division. To accomplish this, two infantry battalions from the 29th Infantry Division were attached to the hard-pressed 30th.

Russian artilleryman loading a round into a 100 mm field gun M1944
The same day (12 April), to the south, two Russian infantry regiments attempted to retake Crucifix Hill from the Kwantung's of the 1st Infantry Division. In fierce fighting the Russians temporarily took control of the hill, but were dislodged by the end of the day, with both regiments virtually destroyed. From 11–13 April, Allied/Central Powers aircraft bombarded Tynda, selecting targets closest to Japanese lines; on 14 April, the 26th Infantry Regiment was ordered to clear an industrial zone on the edge of Tynda in preparation for the attack on the city itself. On 15 April, in an effort to widen the gap between the two Japanese pincers, the Russians again counterattacked the 1st Infantry Division; although a number of heavy tanks managed to break through Japanese lines, the bulk of the Russian forces were destroyed by artillery and air support. On the next day, the Russians attempted to mount local counterattacks with the 3rd Tankovy Division, but, after sustaining heavy losses, were forced to suspend further offensive action.
The 30th Infantry Division, with elements of the 29th Infantry and 2nd Armored divisions, continued its push southwards between 13–16 April, in the sector of the village of Ust'-Urkima; however, even with heavy air support, they were unsuccessful in breaking through Russian defenses and linking up with allied/Central Powers forces to the south. The Russians took advantage of the narrow front to pound advancing attackers with artillery, and progress remained slow as Russian tanks used houses as bunkers to surprise and overwhelm Japanese foot soldiers. General Gyosaku Morozumi, commander of the 30th Infantry Division, then attempted to outflank the Russian defenses by attacking along another sector with two infantry battalions. The attack was a success, allowing the 30th and 1st Infantry Divisions to link up on 16 April. The fighting had so far cost the Japanese XIX Corps over 400 dead and 2,000 wounded, with 72% of those from the 30th Infantry Division. The Russians had not fared any better, as up to 14 April around 630 of their soldiers had been killed and 4,400 wounded; another 600 were lost in the 3rd Tankovy Division's counterattack on the Japanese 1st Infantry Division on 16 April.

Japanese Chi-Nu in Siberia
Needing most of its manpower to stave off Russian counterattacks and secure the area around Mogot , the 1st Infantry Division was able to earmark only a single regiment for the job of taking the city. The task fell to the 26th Infantry Regiment, under the command of Jun Ushiroku, which had only two of its three battalions on hand. Armed with machine guns and flamethrowers, the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Battalions would at first be aided only by a few tanks and a single Type 38 15 cm howitzer. The city was defended by roughly 5,000 Russian troops, including converted navy, air force and city police personnel. For the most part, these soldiers were inexperienced and untrained, and were only supported by a handful of tanks and assault guns. However, Mogot's defenders could make use of the maze of streets.
The 26th Infantry's initial attack on 13 April provided important insight on the nature of the fighting; Japanese infantry had been ambushed by Russian defenders using sewers and cellars, forcing the advancing Japanese infantry to clear each opening before continuing down streets, while Chi-Nu tanks found it impossible to maneuver to suppress enemy fire. Success in Mogot was measured by the number of houses captured, as the advance proved to be sluggish; in order to cope with the thick defences in the city, the 26th Infantry Regiment used its howitzer at point blank range to destroy Russian fortifications. The howitzer created passageways that allowed infantrymen to advance from building to building without having to enter the city's streets, where they could be pinned down by enemy fire. Chi-Nu tanks were ambushed, as they entered intersections, by concealed Russian anti-tank guns. Soon thereafter, Japanese tanks and other armored vehicles would advance cautiously, often shooting buildings ahead of the accompanying infantry to clear them of possible defenders. Pinned on the surface by Allied/Central Powers aircraft, Russian infantrymen would use sewers to deploy behind Japanese formations to attack them from the rear. Russian resistance was fierce, as they launched small counterattacks and used armor to halt Japanese movements.
On 18 April, the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment prepared to assault an hotel, which was one of the last areas of resistance in the city. Japanese tanks and other guns were firing on the hotel, which was the city's defense headquarters, at point blank range. That night, 300 soldiers of the 1st Istrebki Battalion were able to reinforce the hotel and defeat several attacks on the building. A furious Russian counterattack managed to overrun a number of Japanese infantry positions outside of the hotel, and temporarily released pressure on the hotel before being beaten off by concerted Japanese mortar fire.
Two events then aided the final advance. First, to lessen frontline infantry casualties, it was decided to barrage remaining Russian strongpoints with 155 mm guns. Secondly, to assist the 1st Infantry Division, a battalion of the 110th Infantry Regiment, Japanese 28th Infantry Division, had been moved up from the V Corps sector on 18 April to close a gap between forward 26th Infantry Regiment elements within the city. The defensive mission of this new battalion was changed on 19–20 April to closely support the urban assault, participating as the depleted regiment's missing third battalion. On 21 April, soldiers of the 26th Infantry Regiment, supported by the reinforced battalion of the 110th Infantry Regiment finally conquered central Mogot; that day also marked the surrender of various other Russian cities, such as Nagorny, Zolotinka and, most importanty, Nerjungri.

Russian prisoners in Mogot
The Siberian Counteroffensive had cost both the Americans, Japanese and Germans dearly; the former suffered over 7,000 casualties, while the latter lost over 5,000 casualties and 5,600 taken prisoner. Since 2 April 1944, the 30th Infantry Division suffered roughly 3,000 men killed and wounded, while the 1st Infantry Division took at least 1,350 casualties. The Russians lost another 5,100 casualties during the fighting in Mogot itself, including 3,473 prisoners. In the process of the battle, the Nasist Army lost two complete divisions and had another eight severely depleted, including three fresh infantry divisions and a single refitted armored division; this was largely attributed to how they fought, as although an equivalent of 20 infantry battalions had been used during various counterattacks against the 30th Infantry Division alone, on average each separate attack only involved two infantry regiments. During the conflict, the Russians also developed a respect for the fighting ability of American/Japanese forces, noting their capability to fire indiscriminately with overwhelming amounts of artillery fire support and armored forces. Both American and Japanese divisions received distinguished unit citations for their actions in Siberia.
However, Russian resistance in the Amur and Mogot upset Allied/Central Powers plans to continue their northern advance. Following the end of fighting in Mogot, the Allied/Central Powers' First Army was tasked with the capture of a series of roads in Siberia. This would lead to the Battle of Jakutsk, where the Japanese and Americans were stopped by the Russians.
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The Invasion of India: the tiger is partitioned by the bear and the Chinese dragon
The Invasion of India: the tiger is partitioned by the bear and the Chinese dragon
While most of the British Socialist Republics had been occupied before the fall of London, India had remained free from occupation, and the Axis powers had realized that. Relations between the Communational and the Axis were never high, at most reaching opportunism level. Fascism and Communism, as enemy ideologies, were bound to fight one another eventually. After the fall of the English Socialist Republic, however, Stalin realized nothing could stop him to invade India. Most importantly, India could have been used as a staging point for an invasion of Russia in the South. The Chinese Nationalist government realized that too, and a force for the occupation of India was immediately sent. Operation Nikitin, named after Russian explorer Afanasy Nikitin, had begun.

Indian troops marching into captivity
The British high commands, in the aftermath of the armistice with the Allies/Central Powers, had issued instructions for commanders and troops about the behaviour that should have been held in case of a withdrawal from the war and possible Russian aggressions; these orders were the No. 111 Order issued by the Staff of the British Army on 10 August, the OP 44 Memorandum issued on 16 August by General Percy Hobart (on John Aldam Aizlewood's orders) to the major peripheral commands (only twelve copies), and the No. 1 and No. 2 Memorandums issued on 19 August by the Supreme Command to the Staffs of the three armed forces, containing indications about the deployment of the forces in the different theaters.
These were however general guidelines, lacking details and nearly inapplicable (also due to excessive secrecy measures); they were ineffective and they contributed, along with the vagueness of the new British administration's message on the evening of 18 August, to confuse the peripheral commands of the British forces about the unexpected news of the change of sides and the aggressiveness of the Russian forces, thus resulting in insecurity and indecision among those commands. The situation of the Indian/British armed forces was worsened by the contradictory instructions issued by Aizlewood in the evening of 18 August, which restricted any initiative to mere defensive measures in case of Russian attacks, and by Hobart in the night of 19 August, who especially demanded to avoid turmoil and ‘seditions’ among the troops.
Faced with the efficiency of the Russian units, which immediately demanded surrender or collaboration with threats and intimidations, most of the British commanders, also fearful of the impressive reputation of military capacity of the Nasist Army and many times tired by an unliked long lasting war, soon abandoned any intent of resistance; with a few exceptions, the troops, left with neither orders nor leaders, often dispersed.
The situation of the Russian forces in India was actually a difficult one; Andrei Getman, with his Army Group B, had the easier task of occupying the northern regions and neutralizing any resistance by British forces in that area, but Iosif Gusakovsky, in command of Army Group C, was in great difficulty after August 18: after the bombing of Khairpur, he barely managed to receive the communication of the coded word "Nikitin".
The Stavka considered the possibility of the loss of the eight Rusian divisions in Southern India; Semyon Budyonny, however, showed great capability, and his forces fought with ability and effectiveness.
In order to defend the political and military leadership and to resist to a possible Russian attack, the British commands had concentrated a considerable number of troops in the area around New Delhi; the main force consisted in the Indian Armored Battallion of General Hobart, composed of the 79th Armoured Division, the 42nd Armoured Division, the 10th Armoured Division and the 20th Infantry Division. Other units tasked with the defense of New Delhi were the 254th Indian Tank Brigade, the 14th Indian Infantry Division and some battalions of the 11th Infantry Division and 7th Indian Infantry Division; overall, there were about 55,000 men and 200 armored fighting vehicles, with a numerical superiority on the Russian forces in the area.
The Russian forces near New Delhi consisted in the 11th Airborne Corps of General Vasily Polikarpovich Ivanov, headquartered in Rohtak; the Corps comprised the 111th Guards Airborne Regiment (General Fyodor Tolbukhin), ready for action south of New Delhi, and the 1185th Guards Artillery Regiment, reinforced by an armored battalion of the 26th Tankovy Division, stationed between Sonipat and Meerut, north of New Delhi. These units comprised about 26,000 men and some hundreds armored fighting vehicles, and were ordered to attack the city by Gusakovsky in the evening of 18 August: already at 20:30 they attacked Khekra, and the Russian paratroopers immediately started advancing south, overcoming sporadic resistance by the 254th Indian Tank Brigade in Farrukhnagar, Gurgaon, and Faridabad.
Then, the 2nd Parachutist Division overpowered some units of the 254th Indian Tank Brigade and 7th Indian Infantry Division and after half an hour, advancing in the centre of the city. Meanwhile, the 1185th Guards Artillery Regiment supported the 3rd Tankovy Division allowing it to advanced from north, but was halted near Ghaziabad by the 79th Armoured Division (General Miles Dempsey) and suspended its advance after some negotiations. The paratroopers, instead, went ahead with their action; fierce fighting erupted at Lajpat Nagar between the Russian forces and the 7th Indian Infantry Division, supported by armored units of the 79th Armoured Division, but at 02:00 on 19 August the city was under Russian controll.
Meanwhile British forces in Burma and Nord-Eastern India amounted to over 30 divisions and 500,000 soldiers, who had been engaged from the start of the war against Siamese forces. British forces in the area now consisted of the 2nd Army (General Kenneth Anderson), of the 9th Army (General William Holmes), stationed in the border with Nepal and under the control of Army Group East of General Henry Maitland Wilson, and of the 11th Army (General George Giffard).
British troops in the area were exhausted after years of fighting Siamese/Japanese troops and were mixed with numerous Chinese divisions (over 20 divisions of Army Group F of Field Marshal Sun Yuanliang, and of Army Group E of General Du Yuming) whom, on 19 August, immediately severed all ties with Britain and joined Russia in the fight against the former "ally". With confusing and vague orders, and confused by the Chinese attack on Nepal and Tiber, units quickly disintegrated and many soldiers were disarmed, captured and deported to China. However, British soldiers in this area fought with more determination than the units left in Western India, suffering heavy casualties and harsh reprisals by the Chinese units.
Some units managed to escape capture and joined Siamese forces, subsequently fighting alongside them. Chinese forces, less numerous but more mobile, determined and well-led, and enjoying complete air supremacy, quickly prevailed, brutally crushing British resistance, often summarily executing British officers, and occupying all the region of Western India; 393,000 British soldiers were captured and deported, about 29,000 joined the Axis, 20,000 joined the Siamese formations, and 57,000 dispersed or hid and tried to survive.
The 5th, 11th and 18th Corps which formed the 2nd Army, were attacked by five Chinese divisions; General Hubert Gough, commander of the 11th Corps, started negotiations in Katmandu and then abandoned his troops on 24 August, leaving them to be captured; Patna also fell without resistance. On 21 August the divisions stationed in Vishakhapatnam were ordered to avoid any resistance, but the subordinate units refused, and started fighting against the Chinese. The 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, 23rd (Northumbrian) Division and 80th Infantry (Reserve) Division were dissolved, whereas the 56th (London) Infantry Division and the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division resisted in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam; the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division surrendered on 20 August and its commanders were deported, while in Malkangiri the 18th Infantry Division made an agreement with Indian revolutionaries and defended the town till 07 September against the 7th Mountain Division; after surrender, three British generals and 46 officers were executed. The 1st Cavalry Division, stationed in the Indian coast, was dispersed.

Chinese troops raise the Chinese flag in Bangalore
Already on 20 August, the Chinese high command and Stavka command issued a first communiqué announcing the annihilation of the British military apparatus. While many British units would fight on for days or weeks in the interior of India, and many troops managed to escape reaching Siam, the major units of the British Army had effectively dissolved in the space of some days suffering widespread desertions.
With the success of "Nikitin" and its secondary operations, the Nasist Army and the National Revolutionary Army achieved an important strategic success by securing the most important strategic positions in South East Asia and overcoming great operative difficulties; it also captured large quantities of weapons, equipment and resources that turned useful in integrating the depleting resources of Russia and China. Over 20,000 British soldiers were killed in battle and nearly 800,000 were captured; over 13,000 of them were not recognized prisoner of war status and were instead classified as "British Military Internees" and exploited for forced labour in Russia and China's war industry. Up to 50,000 of them died in Sino-Russian captivity.
The Allies/Central Powers, whose objectives in India were rather limited (to push British forces out of threatening positions in Siam and keep them occupied) and whose strategic planning presented heavy conflicts between Siamese/Japanese and Americans, were not able to exploit the Indian collapse ad for a long time India remained occupied. Also, the Russians and Chinese, however, had to divert a considerable number of mobile and skilled units to India, troops that would have been more useful on the main Eastern, Siberian and Chinese fronts, but that allowed them to keep war away from the southern regions of Russia, to protect rich industrial regions of high importance in weapons production and to achieve political and propaganda objective of creating an Imperial Commissariat in India for Russia and an Indian fascist government for China.
The sudden and complete collapse of the Indian forces was mainly caused by the mistakes made by the political and military leadership, the unrealism of their initiatives, misunderstanding about the real consistence and objectives of the Allies/Central Powers by the decision of the British leadership to surrender to the Allies/Central Powers, but not to fight the Axis. The lack of clear orders to the subordinate commands, the importance given to the personal safety of the leadership and its institutional continuity, even to the detriment of the capability of resistance of the armed forces, led to the disintegration of the units, abandoned without a leader to the Axis attacks and reprisals despite some instances of valour and fighting spirit.
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So, just finished reading this -and what a mess things have turned into in-universe. Well done on that part.
Some other features leave me less sure, such as WWI and French endurance therein. OTL they were in miserable shape after all was said and done, and that was with needing to guard only one front. I´m not convinced they could handle three active frontlines anywhere near as long.
The British situation also feels very hamfisted. So the BEF gets shredded, they can simply call off the war and restore status quo ante bellum -their enemies can´t reach anything that actually matters and would be forced to accept a white peace.
Russia is liable to turn into an utter mess as OTL shortly after Brest-Litovsk, yes, but just agree to surrender? Not likely, not unless there are enemy forces walking the streets of Petrograd and Moscow. Before those, anything and everything in the west is expendable.
So, just finished reading this -and what a mess things have turned into in-universe. Well done on that part.
Some other features leave me less sure, such as WWI and French endurance therein. OTL they were in miserable shape after all was said and done, and that was with needing to guard only one front. I´m not convinced they could handle three active frontlines anywhere near as long.
The British situation also feels very hamfisted. So the BEF gets shredded, they can simply call off the war and restore status quo ante bellum -their enemies can´t reach anything that actually matters and would be forced to accept a white peace.
Russia is liable to turn into an utter mess as OTL shortly after Brest-Litovsk, yes, but just agree to surrender? Not likely, not unless there are enemy forces walking the streets of Petrograd and Moscow. Before those, anything and everything in the west is expendable.
Wow it has been a while since I received a comment.
As for what happened, the French performed better as the Central Powers were more busy against the Nasist government and the Ottoman empire, so they could handle the frontlines.
The British suffered a revolution at home and, as such, the Central Powers were able to seize territories in the chaos. At the Treaty of Rome they simply made their conquest official.
As for Russia, the Russian government felt against German/Austrian armies IOTL even with Romania and Italy distracting several Austrian divisions. ITTL, Romanian and Italian troops fight for the Central Powers, alongside Japan. Which means that Russia ended up with not only with a larger front against the Central Powers, but also a Second Front in Siberia against Japan.
Are we talking past each other? My issues are with the first war and how it seems to go little diffirent from OTL, despite things TTL being very diffirent. As said, France in OTL 1918 was utterly exhausted -after spending the entire war focused on their eastern border because Italy was on same side and Spain was a non-issue. You create a world where things are not so -but what actually changed? Seemingly nothing at all.
Moreover, what about non-European theaters? Does the threat posed by Siam feature at all in the planning sessions of Imperial Central Command in London, or do they just ignore how this puts India - the Crown Jewel of the Empire - under threat? What about Japan? Where is the talk about how this means the Royal Navy needs to expand significantly? What about arguments on who shall pay for that? Dreadnoughts do not come cheap.