The elephant, the lynx, the two wolves, the dragon, the eagle, the griffon vulture and the bull.

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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.
I will try and respond to those questions in detail later. This was my first timeline, and as such there are some "plot holes" inside it.
The invasion of Cyprus: the eagle and the mountain wolf land on the desert wolf little island
The invasion of Cyprus: the eagle and the mountain wolf land on the desert wolf little island
At the Torbuk Conference in April 1944, with the end of the Palestine Campaign in sight, the political leaders and the military Chiefs of Staff of the United States and Italy met to discuss future strategy. The Italian Chiefs of Staff were in favour of an invasion of Cyprus or the Dodecanese, arguing that it would force the Ottomans to disperse its forces in Anatolia and move Iran to join the Allies/Central Powers. The Combined Chiefs of Staff appointed General George S. Patton as C-in-C of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Rodolfo Graziani (Uncle Rolf as he would be called by American troops) as Deputy C-in-C with responsibility for detailed planning and execution of the operation, Admiral Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta as Naval Commander, and Air Chief Marshal Italo Balbo as Air Commander.
The outline plan given to Patton by the Chiefs of Staff involved dispersed landings by brigade and division-sized formations in the south-east, south and north-west areas of the island. The logic behind the plan was that it would result in the rapid capture of key Axis airfields that posed a threat to the beachheads and the invasion fleet lying off them. It would also see the rapid capture of all the main ports on the island, including Paphos District, Latchi, Pomos, Limassol and Larnaca. This would facilitate a rapid Allied/Central Powers build-up, as well as denying their use to the Axis. High level planning for the operation lacked direction because the three main land commanders, Messe, Graziani, and Patton, were fully occupied in operations in Palestine. Effort was wasted in presenting plans that Messe in particular disliked because of the dispersion of forces involved. He was finally able to articulate his objections and put forward alternative proposals on 24 April. Balbo and Aimone opposed Messe's plan because it would leave 13 landing grounds in Axis hands, posing a considerable threat to the Allied/Central Powers invasion fleet.
Patton called a meeting for 2 May with Messe, Aimone, and Aimone, in which Messe made new proposals to concentrate the Allied/Central Powers effort on the south western corner of Cyprus. After Graziani joined the meeting on 3 May, Messe's proposals were finally accepted on the basis that it was better to take an administrative risk (having to support troops by landing supplies across beaches) than an operational one (dispersion of effort). Not for the last time, Messe had argued a sound course of action, yet done so in a conceited manner, which suggested to others, particularly his American allies, that he was preoccupied with his own interests. In the event, maintaining the armies by landing supplies across the beaches proved easier than expected.

Map of the Allied/Central Powers landings in Cyprus on 10 July 1944
On 17 May, Graziani issued his Operation Instruction No. 1 setting out his broad plan and defining the tasks of the two armies. Broadly speaking, his intention was to establish his armies along a line from Kato Pyrgos to Polis preparatory to a final operation to reduce the island. He later wrote that at that stage it was not practicable to plan further ahead but that his intentions were clear in his own mind what the next step would be: he would drive south ultimately to Limassol on the southern coast to split the island in two and cut his enemy's east-west communications. The Seventh Army was assigned to land in the Chrysochou Bay, in eastern Cyprus, with the 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armored Division to the west at Latsi beach, 1st Division in the center at Argaka, and 45th Division to the east at Nea Dimmata. The 82nd Airborne Division was assigned to drop behind the defences at Gela and Scoglitti. The Seventh Army's beach-front stretched over 50 kilometers (31 mi). The Italian Eighth Army was assigned to land in north-eastern Cyprus. XXX Corps would land on either side of Yayla, while XIII Corps would land in the Sadrazamköy, off to the north.
Once the Axis forces had been defeated in Palestine and a large Portion of Arabia allied itself to the Central Powers, the Allied/Central Powers strategic bomber force commenced attacks on the principal airfields of the Dodecannese, Cyprus and Anatolia, industrial targets in Anatolia and the ports of Milas, Anamur, Nicosia and Mersin. The attacks were spread to maintain uncertainty as to the next Allied/Central Powers move, and to pin down Axis aircraft and keep them away from Cyprus. Bombing of Anatolia (by aircraft based in the liberated Balkans) and Greece was increased. From 3 July, bombing concentrated on Cyprian airfields and Axis communications with the Ottoman empire, although beach defences were left alone, to preserve surprise as to where the landings would occur. By 10 July, only two airfields in Cyprus remained fully operational and over half the Axis aircraft had been forced to leave the island. Between mid-May and the invasion, Allied/Central Powers airmen flew 42,227 sorties and destroyed 323 Russian and 105 Ottoman aircraft, for the loss of 250 aircraft, mostly to anti-aircraft fire over Cyprus.

Koules War Rooms, the headquarders for the invasion of Cyprus
Two American and two Italian attacks by airborne troops were carried out just after midnight on the night of 9–10 July, as part of the invasion. The American paratroopers consisted largely of Colonel James M. Gavin's 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (expanded into the 505th Parachute Regimental Combat Team with the addition of the 3rd Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, along with the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, Company 'B' of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion and other supporting units) of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. The Italian landings were preceded by pathfinders of the 21st Independent Parachute Company, who were to mark landing zones for the troops who were intending to seize Selemani, and hold it until the Italian 5th Infantry Division arrived from the beaches at Kato Pyrgos. Glider infantry from the Italian 1st Airborne Division's 1st Airlanding Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Ercole Ronco, were to seize landing zones inland. Strong winds of up to 45 miles per hour blew the troop-carrying aircraft off course and the American force was scattered widely over north-east Cyprus. By 14 July, about two-thirds of the 505th had managed to concentrate, and half the U.S. paratroopers failed to reach their rallying points.
The Italian air-landing troops fared little better, with only 12 of the 147 gliders landing on target and 69 crashing into the sea, with over 200 men drowning. Among those who landed in the sea were Major General Giorgio Morigi, commander of the Italian 1st Airborne Division, who, after several hours spent clutching a piece of wreckage, was eventually rescued by the landing ship Olterra. The scattered airborne troops attacked patrols and created confusion wherever possible. A platoon of the 38th Infantry Division Puglie, under Lieutenant Alberto D’Aponte, part of the Italian 1st Airlanding Brigade, landed on target, captured Pano Pyrgos and repulsed counterattacks. Additional paratroops rallied to the sound of shooting and by 08:30 89 men were holding the village. By 11:30, a battalion of the Ottoman 70th Mechanised Infantry Brigade from the VII Corps arrived with some artillery. The Italian force held out until about 15:30 hours, when, low on ammunition and by now reduced to 18 men, they were forced to surrender, 45 minutes before the leading elements of the Italian 5th Division arrived from the North. In spite of these mishaps, the widespread landing of airborne troops, both American and Italians, had a positive effect as small isolated units, acting on their own initiative, attacked vital points and created confusion.

Troops from the 51st Infantry Division Siena unloading stores from tank landing craft on the opening day of the invasion of Cyprus, 10 July 1944
The strong wind also made matters difficult for the amphibious landings but also ensured surprise as many of the defenders had assumed that no one would attempt a landing in such poor conditions. Landings were made in the early hours of 10 July on 26 main beaches spread along 105 miles of the northern and western coasts of the island between the town of Nea Dimmata where the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, under the command of Major General Lucian Truscott, landed near Prophet Elias Church, red beach, and Polis and Neo Chorio, green beaches in the west, and Denizli in the east, with Italian and Canadian forces in the east and Americans toward the west. The Ottoman defensive plan did not contemplate a pitched battle on the beaches and so the landings themselves were somewhat anti-climactic.

An American crew checks their Sherman tank after landing at Red Beach 2, Cyprus, 10 July
More trouble was experienced from the difficult weather conditions and unexpected hidden offshore sandbars than from the coastal divisions. Some troops landed in the wrong place, in the wrong order and as much as six hours behind schedule, but the weakness of the defensive response allowed the Allied/Central Powers force to make up lost time. Nevertheless, several Ottoman coastal units fought well; the 95th Armored Brigade, tasked with defending Makounta, lost 45 percent of its men, while the attacking U.S. Army Ranger Battalion lost several men to mines and machine-gun and cannon fire. The Kıbrıs Türk Savunma Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı (Cyprus Turkish Defence Force Command), tasked with defending Kynousa, defeated a San Marco Marine Brigade Commando Battalion on 13 July with the help of the local middle-age reservists. Lieutenant-Colonel Necmettin Erbakan's 4th Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion attacked the Commandos with the help of the 372nd Coastal Defence Battalion, Turkish 53rd Motorcycle Company, and three T-34 medium tanks. The 246th Coastal Battalion defeated Italian attempts to capture Cengizköy on the night of 11–12 July.
In Major General Terry Allen's U.S. 1st Infantry Division sector at Kynousa, there was an Ottoman division-sized counterattack where the dispersed 505th Parachute Regimental Combat Team was supposed to have been. IS-3 tanks of the Alexander Novikov Tankovy Division, which had been due to advance with the 4th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, were late.
On highways 115 and 117 during 10 July, Ottoman tanks of the 8th Mechanized Infantry Brigade and 4th Mechanized Infantry nearly reached the Allied/Central Powers position at Kynousa, but gunfire from the destroyer USS Shubrick and the light cruiser USS Boise destroyed several tanks and dispersed the attacking infantry battalion. The 3rd Battalion, 34th Regiment, Infantry Division, composed mainly of conscripts, made a daylight attack on Kynousa two days later, with infantry and armor of the Alexander Novikov Tankovy Division, but was repulsed.

Italian Bersaglieri of the 6th Battalion, part of the Italian 50th Division, with American paratroopers of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, in Lefke, 11 July 1944
By the morning of 10 July, the Joint Task Force Operations Support System Force captured the port of Girne, at the cost of nearly 100 killed and wounded in the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, and the division beat back a counter-attack from the 538th Coastal Defence Battalion. By 11:30, Girne was firmly in American hands and the U.S. 3rd Division had lost fewer than one hundred men. Salvage parties had already partially cleared the harbor, and shortly after noon Truscott and his staff came ashore and set up headquarters at Buffavento Castle. About that time, the 538th Coastal Defense Battalion, which had been deployed as a tactical reserve, launched a counter-attack. By the evening of 10 July, the seven Allied/Central Powers assault divisions—three American, three Italian and one Canadian—were well established ashore, the port of Alsancak had been captured, and fears of an Axis air onslaught had proved unfounded.
The preparatory bombing of the previous weeks had greatly weakened the Axis air capability and the heavy Allied/Central Powers presence of aircraft operating from Crete kept most of the Axis attempts at air attack at bay. Some attacks on the first day of the invasion got through, and Russian aircraft sank the landing ship LST-313 and minesweeper USS Sentinel. Ottoman Arkhangelsky Ar-2 sank the destroyer USS Maddox and the Brazilian Escort DDs Beberibe, and in the following days Axis aircraft damaged or sank several more warships, transport vessels and landing craft starting with the Allied/Central Powers troopship USS Barnett hit and damaged by an Ottoman bomber formation on the morning of 11 July. Italian Arkhangelsky Ar-2 (named Toy in Ottoman service after the Great bustard) and TUSAŞ T25 Mersin torpedo-bombers coordinated their attacks with Russian Arkhangelsky Ar-2 and Ilyushin DB-3 bomber units. As part of the seaborne landings south at Yayla, some 400 men of Lieutenant Colonel Vittorio Moccagatta's Decima Flottiglia MAS Commando captured Akdeniz on 13 July, only to lose possession of it when the 4th Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion and the Ottoman 53rd Motorcycle Company counter-attacked. The Commandos lost 28 killed, 66 wounded and 59 captured or missing.

Ottoman TUSAŞ T25 Mersin
General Graziani's plan was to first establish his forces on a line between Pomos in the west and Denizli in the east before embarking on operations to reduce the rest of the island. Key to this was capturing ports to facilitate the buildup of his forces and the capture of airfields. The task of General Messe's Italian Eighth Army was, therefore, to capture the Lakatamia Air Base and the port of Limisso. Their objectives also included the landing fields around Nicosia. The objectives of General Patton's U.S. Seventh Army included capturing the port of Paphos and its airport. It was then to prevent the enemy reserves from moving eastward against the Eighth Army's left flank.
According to Axis plans, the First Tankovy division (Colonel Vasiliy Ivanovich Ivanov), in conjunction with the 52nd Tactical Armored Division(Major-General Selâhattin Âdil), was to counter-attack an Allied/Central Powers landing. On 10 July, Colonel Ivanov had been unable to contact the Ottoman division and had proceeded alone towards Gemikonağı. Unknown to Ivanov, a battalion of 18 Jannisaires tanks and supporting infantry from the 52nd Tactical Armored Division, broke through the positions held by the 2nd Alpini Regiment, part of the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna of Major-General Alfredo Guzzoni's Italian 5th Division, and were stopped only by anti-tank and artillery fire.

Ottoman Jannisaires tank
On the night of 11–12 July, the Regia Marina attempted to capture Sadrazamköy but the 246th Coastal Battalion repelled the Italian landing force that was supported by three destroyers. On 12 July, several Ottoman units took up rearguard positions and covered the withdrawal of the 1st tankovy division and the Alexander Novikov Division. The American advance in the Paphos Forest was temporarily held up by 75 mm Silah Taşıyıcı tank destroyers, 526th Jannissaire Battalion and 177th Jannissaire Regiment. The 246th Coastal Battalion retreated to strong points at Polis. The 76th Infantry Regiment covered the left flank of 1st tankovy division which withdrew toward Larnaca. The Hermann Göring Division eventually pulled back from the Piano Lupo area toward Caltagirone and the Livorno Division withdrew its right flank toward Piazza Armerina, to cover the Alexander Novikov Division.
Early on 13 July, elements of the Italian 5th Division on Eighth Army's right flank, which had been delayed by the first tankovy division, entered Türkeli. On their left, Major-General Alessandro Piazzoni's Italian 50th Infantry Division Regina had pushed up Route 114 toward Gönyeli and met increasing resistance from the Ottoman Division. The commander of the division and his staff were captured by Brigadier Pietro Giannattasio's Italian 132nd Armoured Division Ariete on 13 July and it was not until 18:45 on 14 July that the town was cleared of obstructions and snipers and the advance resumed. A battalion of the Ottoman Division managed to break through the Italian lines and took up new positions at Hamitköy but the Italian advance forced it to retire again on 14 July.

Ottoman 75 mm Silah Taşıyıcı tank destroyer
Further left, in the XXX Corps sector, Major-General Ercole Caligian's 51st Infantry Division Siena had moved directly south to take Nicosia, while the Canadians secured Balıkesir airfield and headed south-east, after having driven off the Ottoman 122 Infantry Regiment north of Balıkesir. The Canadians captured more than 500 Ottomans.[88] In the Canadian area, Italian Arditi, under Achille Starace, was counter-attacked by the 206th Coastal Division who launched a strong counter-attack that threatened to penetrate the area between the Canadians and the Regia Marina Commandos before being repulsed.

Italian Bersaglieri of the Italian First Army in Latsia
In the American sector, by the morning of 10 July, Lara Beach had been captured. On 11 July, Patton ordered his reserve parachute troops from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (minus the 3rd Battalion already deployed in Cyprus, attached to the 505th) under Colonel Reuben Tucker, part of Major General Matthew Ridgway's 82nd Airborne Division, to drop and reinforce the center. In addition, going along with the 504th would be the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, Company 'C' of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion and other supporting units. Warning orders had been issued to the fleet and troops on 6, 7, 10 and 11 July concerning the planned route and timing of the drop, so that the aircraft would not be fired on by friendly forces. They were intended to drop east of Drouseia.
The 144 Douglas C-47 transports arrived at the same time as an Axis air raid; the first echelon of troop carrying planes dropped their loads without interference, when an Allied/Central Powers naval vessel fired on the formation. Immediately, all the other naval vessels and shore troops joined in, shooting down friendly aircraft and forcing paratroopers to jump far from their drop zones. The 52nd Troop Carrier Wing lost 23 of 144 С-47s to friendly fire; there were 318 casualties with 83 dead. Thirty-seven aircraft were damaged, while eight returned to base without dropping their parachutists. The paratroopers suffered 229 casualties to "friendly fire", including 81 dead. Among the casualties was Brigadier General Charles L. Keerans, Jr., the 82nd Airborne's assistant division commander (ADC), who was along with the 504th as an unofficial observer.
In spite of this, the American beach landings went well and a substantial amount of supplies and transport was landed. Despite the failure of the airborne operation, the 1st Infantry Division took Drouseia on 12 July and continued north, while Major General Troy H. Middleton's 45th Infantry Division on the right had taken the airfield at Peyia and entered Koili. On the left, Major General Truscott's 3rd Infantry Division, having landed at Kissonerga, pushed troops 25 miles up the coast almost to Pafo and 20 miles inland to Kallepia.

Sherman tank of the 133rd Armoured Division Littorio in the village of Axylou, Cyprus, August 1944
Once the beachheads were secure, Graziani's plan was to split the island in half by thrusting south to Larnaca, to deny the defenders the central east–west lateral road. A further push south would cut the next lateral route and a final advance to Perivolia on the south coast would cut the coastal route. In new orders issued on 13 July, he gave this task to Messe's Eighth Army, perhaps based on a somewhat over-optimistic situation report by Messe late on 12 July, while the Seventh Army were to continue their holding role on the left flank of the Eighth Army, despite what appeared to be an opportunity for them to make a bold offensive move. On 12 July, General Yakov Kreizer had visited Cyprus and formed the opinion that Russian troops were fighting virtually on their own. As a consequence, he concluded that the Russian formations needed to be reinforced, and that western Cyprus should be abandoned in order to shorten the front line. The priority was first to slow and then halt the Allied/Central Powers advance, while a defensive line was formed.
While the 1st Cavalry Division Eugenio di Savoia, under Federico Ferrari Orsi, continued to push south, the 2nd Cavalry Division Emanuele Filiberto Testa di Ferro, under Mario Marazzani, were directed north along two routes; the first was an inland route through Athīenou, and the second following Route 124, which cut across the U.S. 45th Infantry Division. Progress was slow as the 1st tankovy division skilfully delayed the Italian 5th Infantry Division, allowing time for two regiments from the Russian 1st Parachute Division flying to Cyprus to deploy. On 12 July, the Italian 184th Paratroopers Division Nembo, commanded by Ercole Ronco, had been dropped in Operation Falco, an attempt to capture Beyarmudu. The Italian paratroopers suffered heavy casualties, but managed to hold the city against fierce Russian attacks. The initial counterattacks were Ottomans in the form of reinforcements from the 1st Commando Brigade, gunners from the 29th Artillery Group fighting in the infantry role and an armoured car squadron that nearly overran the headquarters of the 136th Armoured Division Centauro II at nightfall in the first day of the battle for Beyarmudu. The Italian 5th Division was delayed by strong opposition, but made contact early on 15 July.

A U.S. Army Sherman tank moves past Cyprus's rugged terrain in mid July 1944
On 16 July, the surviving Ottoman aircraft withdrew to the mainland. About 160 Ottoman planes had been lost in the first week of the invasion, 57 lost to Allied/Central Powers fighters and anti-aircraft fire on 10–12 July alone. That day, an Ottoman bomber torpedoed the aircraft carrier Aquila, and the Ottoman submarine Balina torpedoed the cruiser Alberico da Barbiano. Both ships were put out of action for over a year.
On the night of 17 July, the Ottoman light cruiser Cleopatra detected and engaged four Italian CRDA 60 t motor torpedo boat lurking 5 miles away.
On the night of 17–18 July, Messe renewed his attack toward Nisou, with two brigades of Major General Alessandro Piazzoni's 50th Infantry Division Regina. They met strong opposition and by 19 July Messe decided to call off the attack and instead increase the pressure on his left. The 5th Division attacked on the 50th Division's left but with no greater success, and on 20 July, the 51st Division, further west, took Akıncılar. They too were driven back by counter-attacks on 21 July. On the left flank, the 1st Canadian Division continued to advance but it was becoming clear that, as Russian units settled into their new positions in south western Cyprus, the army would not have sufficient strength to carry the whole front and the Canadians were ordered to continue south to Lythrodontas. Messe called forward his reserve division from the middle East, Major-General Amedeo Liberati's Italian 65th Infantry Division Granatieri di Savoia

Ottoman Balina submarine
Patton had reorganised his forces into two corps. The Provisional Corps, commanded by Major General Geoffrey Keyes, consisting of the 2nd Armored, 3rd Infantry, and 82nd Airborne Divisions, was on the left. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley's U.S. II Corps was on the right. By 17 July, Provisional Corps had captured Porto Empedocle and Agrigento. On 18 July, II Corps took Caltanissetta, just short of Route 121, the main east–west lateral through the center of Sicily. The American advance toward Kouklia was temporarily held up by the 207th Coastal Defence Division that was at Mandria. The 10th Jannissaire Regiment forced Colonel William O. Darby's 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions of the 3rd Infantry Division to fight their way into Kouklia. By late afternoon on 16 July, the city was in American hands.

Ottoman Cleopatra cruiser
The 15th Tankovy Division managed to join the other Russian formations in the east of the island. Patton was ordered on 18 July to push troops east through Oreites Forest. After that, he would mop up the west of the island. Bradley's II Corps were given the task of making the northward move, while the Provisional Corps was tasked with the mopping up operation. Graziani issued further orders to Patton to develop an eastward threat along the coast road once he had cut it. He was also directed to capture Limisso as quickly as possible as a main supply base. On 21 July, the Seventh Army's Provisional Corps overran the Ottoman battlegroup Kravchenko (Andrei Kravchenko), covering the withdrawal of the 15th Tankovy Division, but Patton lost 300 men killed and wounded in the process. On 22 July, the Provisional Corps entered Limisso, and the next day the 45th Division cut the north coast road.

American troops fire 81mm mortars in support of the Seventh Army's drive on Limisso
By 27 July, the Axis commanders had realised that the outcome of the campaign would be an evacuation from Dipkarpaz. Kreizer reported to Stalin on 29 July that an evacuation could be accomplished in three days and initial written plans were formulated dated 1 August. However, when Kravchenko suggested on 4 August that a start should be made by transferring superfluous men and equipment, Âdil refused to sanction the idea without the approval of the Turkish High Comand. The Russians nevertheless went ahead, transferring over 12,000 men, 4,500 vehicles and 5,000 tons of equipment from 1–10 August.
The next day, Âdil learned of the Russians plan for evacuation and reported to Instanbul of his conviction of their intentions. On 7 August, Âdil reported that, without Russian support, any last ditch stand would only be short. In the end the island would be abandoned by both Turkish and Russian troops. Cyprus was the last of the islands in the Mediterranean to fall, and the hardest to take. However, attempts to land in Anatolia were desastreous. At most Italo/American troops managed to perform small raids against Ottoman positions, but an opening of a third front for the Ottoman empire failed. On a positive note, much later after the invasion of the island, Iran entered the war on the side of the Allied/Central Powers, opening another front against Russia and the Ottomans that the Allied/Central Powers desired. At that point, the Allied/Central Powers realized the war was won. But when the Nasists and the Ottomans would kick the bucket is unknown.
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Hello everyone
I would like to announce that I’ll departure to the Iberian protectorate of Morocco from 28 December to 04 January, now that the North African front has ended
The Yagoda line campaign: Part 1
The Arabian campaign: Part 1
Following the Allied/Central Powers invasion of Palestine in May 1944, the Arabs in the Arabian peninsulalaunched a massive uprising against the Ottoman empire, but the Ottoman forces continued to fight in the pre WW1 borders. The Allied/Central Powers 15th Army Group, commanded by General Giovanni Messe, in conquering Palestine but by early June had come up against the Nahal Betzet line, the first of two lines (the next being the Basak Line) used to delay the Allied/Central Powers advance to buy time to prepare the most formidable defensive positions which formed the Desert Line. Messe had three possible alternatives to reach Anatolia. On the newly opened Mesopotanian front he could advance to Bagdad and then advance along the Tigri rivert. Alternatively, on the other side, he could advance from the west alongside the Mediterranean coast.
View attachment 513803
The situation south of Anatolia showing Russo/Turkish prepared defensive lines called the "Desert line"
On 3 June, a battalion of the Italian Eighth Army's 78th Infantry Division had crossed the Nahal Betzet river to confront the Ottoman Nahal Betzet Line defences. Two Commando battalions landed from the sea north of the river at Naqura, and a fiercely contested battle ensued which had hung in the balance when a ford became unusable after heavy rains and prevented Allied/Central Powers armour from moving forward. However, the Italian infantry — reinforced from the sea by two brigades — had held out long enough against the tanks of 16th Yuk Division for a "Ponte Vecchio" bridge to be laid across the river, and the crisis passed with the arrival of elements of 1st Iberian Armoured Brigades. By 6 June, the Ottomans were withdrawing to new defensive positions behind the Tigri river, the "Basek Line".
At the Tigri, Eighth Army were obliged to pause because it had outrun its supply chain which stretched back over poor roads to the main ports of Haifa and Tel Aviv. Port and transport capacity had also been affected by the logistic requirements of the Allied/Central Powers air force, which was establishing strategic bomber bases around Gerusalemn.
The Eighth Army attacked across the Tigri on 2 July. By the next day, the Turkish position had been turned and the Ottomans commenced a fighting withdrawal to the forward Desert-Line positions.

Frontlines of the Middle east up to now, in light green the Arabian state with Ibn Saud as head of state and, in the future, king of Arabia
The Eighth Army's forward units had reached the Tigri on 9 July. Messe had planned for Ibn Said to strike across the river on 20 July with the V Corps (Arabian 8th Infantry and 78th Infantry Divisions). In secrecy, Saud shifted the Arab division to the right to narrow the V Corps front and concentrate its power, bringing the newly arrived 2nd Somali Division into the gap. Eighth Army also devised a deception scheme involving false troop movements and ammunition dumps to give the impression that the main attack would be through the Italian XIII Corps front. The deception was to be maintained by an earlier diversionary attack some 40 mi (64 km) inland by XIII Corps and a secondary attack at the same time as V Corps some 15 mi (24 km) inland by the Somali.
However, Hayrullah Fişek divined the Allies/Central Powers' intentions; on 18 July, Kâzım İnanç had signaled Fişek to the effect that the Allied/Central Powers concentrations on the coast led him to expect the main attack on his left wing. Then heavy rain raised the river levels forcing the postponement of the offensive to the night of 27 July and giving the Ottomans time to switch two divisions to the defending LXXVI Yuk Corps. This made three divisions on the coastal plain opposing V Corps: 65th Infantry Division, 90th Yuk Division and 26th Yuk Division. 16th Yuk Division opposed the Somali and the Turkish 1st Parachute Division faced XIII Corps (1st Iberian Division and Italian 5th Infantry Division).
In the early hours of 28 July, the Eighth Army attack went in supported by heavy artillery concentrations. The Somali advanced steadily; although the Turkish defences had been well prepared most of the Somali' objectives were manned by 65th Division which was poorly equipped and untried in battle. The Turkish Division was also hampered by the fact that their commander—Brigadier-General Nuri Yamut—was severely wounded on the afternoon of 28 Julyr. The 8th Arab Division, however, like the Somali facing their first major combat action past Palestine, experienced tougher opposition. Elements of 65th Infantry Division supported by an armoured battle group held tenaciously on to Najaf and the town was eventually taken on 29 July after tough, often hand to hand, fighting. On the morning of 29 June, 78th Infantry Division had joined the attack on the right of the Arabian Division and had forced their way to al-Hilla by the evening, creating a base for their main attack the following day towards Hindiyya. By late on 30 July, 78th Division—supported by 4th Armoured Brigade—had taken Hindiyya.
As the Eighth Army pushed forward over the next few days, 65th Infantry Division crumbled (to the extent that Turkish 10th Army were later to order a court-martial into its conduct). However, Memduh Tağmaç was able to introduce 90th Yuk Division into the line from his reserve and transferred reinforcements from the quieter sector inland in the form of elements of 1st Parachute Division. The complications of these manoeuvres introduced considerable confusion within the Turkish alignment but they were nevertheless able to manage a fighting withdrawal. Unaware of the disorganisation in the Turkish ranks, the Somali failed on 2 August to exploit an opportunity to capture Kerbala, which on that day was still only lightly held. It was only on the morning of 3 August that the Somali Division disputed possession of Kerbala, but 26th Yuk had had just enough breathing space to organise and were able to repel them. The 26th Yuk then proceeded to create a formidable defensive complex around the town and along the ridge towards Al-Mada'in.

Riflemen of the 45th Iberian Division take cover during Turkish counterattack north of Sasa, 10 August 1944
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The Arabian Campaign, Part 2
The Arabian Campaign, Part 2
On 6 August 1944, Iberian forces began a series of large-scale assaults on major positions in Syria with the objective of securing a large bridgehead along the defensive line of the Ottomans. Three primary points of attack were chosen: Damascus, along the eastern edge of the Iberian sector; Barja, south of Beirut; and Rutba, a small town in the Mesopotanian desert. Five primary infantry battalions were selected to assault these positions with the objective of breaching the Turkish defences. The offensives were scheduled to start on the morning of 6 August.
The task of taking Damascus, one of the most important cities of the offensive, was given to Brigada de Cazadores de Montaña "Aragón I". Having conducted reconnaissance on their objective during the night of 5 August 1944, an attack plan was devised by the battalion's commander—Lieutenant-Colonel Enrique Líster—detailing the objectives of all four rifle companies. Once the objectives had been secured by the early morning of 6 August, Italo-Iberian reinforcements were to be moved into Damascus, with the intention of repulsing the expected potentially strong Turkish counterattacks. Elements of three Ottoman regiments—the 200th and 361st Yuk Jannissaires, and 26th Yuk—maintained strong defences within the town.
At 00:00 on 5 August, two companies of the BCMA advanced moving towards Damascus. Within an hour, vicious fighting had erupted throughout the town as the two companies of Iberian infantry struggled to break the Turkish defensive lines. As B Company broke through the Turkish defences, A Company attacked to the northeast, continuing to engage 200th Yuk Jannissaires Regiment near Damascus. Although two Iberian infantry companies now occupied Damascus, Turkish Jannissaires forces still maintained substantial defences on the outskirts of the town. However, C Company continued to advance steadily along the eastern side of the town, encountering significant resistance from the 361st Yuk Jannissaire Regiment. After approximately an hour of fighting by C and D Companies, Damascus had been occupied by Iberian forces shortly before dawn.
By mid-morning, Ottoman counterattacks on BCMA positions in the town had begun, involving tanks from the 7th Company of the 26th Yuk Regiment, field guns and substantial infantry forces. Throughout the afternoon two infantry companies of the BCMA fought off several attacks by Turkish forces, eventually managing to push them back to the vineyards on the northern edge of the town. While the BCMA had taken 68 casualties, Turkish casualties were estimated at 120. However, three strong Turkish formation surrounded the Iberians positions at Damascus, rendering further exploitation of the bridgehead unlikely. Col. Líster was advised to be ready to withdraw to the original positions, should Turkish forces counterattack. In order to allow the Iberian Division a greater concentration of force, on the night of 7/8 August, the Arabian 21st Infantry Brigade from the Arabian 8th Infantry Division amalgamated the western flank of the 1st Iberian Division into their own lines. As a result of the withdrawal, Iberian efforts would focus on achieving a bridgehead at Barja.
The Iberian attack on Barja by the Caçadores battalions of Portugal began late on 5 August 1944 with A Company establishing a bridgehead in Tyre, taking heavy casualties. In the early morning of 6 August, A Company was withdrawn and two additional Caçadores companies resumed the offensive. As BCMA secured and held their bridgehead, the Caçadores battalions were struggling to enter Barja By 07:15, a single objective had been taken, with Iberian units pinned down by well-coordinated defensive fire from several companies of the 361st Regiment. Simultaneously, small arms fire prevented C Company from moving up the road from Tyre to Barja, while D Company remained stuck in the east of the ancient city throughout the early morning.
In the afternoon, having failed to capture Barja, the Caçadores Especiais sent two rifle companies to the aid of the Caçadores battalions, as Caçadores battalion B Company attacked positions east of Barka — inflicting 129 casualties on Turkish forces in the area. However, the attack on Barja by three Caçadores battalion companies stalled rapidly when the 26th Yuk Regiment's armoured companies reinforced the sector. As a result, Iberian general Agustín Muñoz Grandes was ordered to prepare for a withdrawal from the Barja bridgehead.
While attempts were made to cross the defensive positions at Barja and Damascus, the Caçadores Especiais launched an attack on the defences at the small village of Rutba at 13:40 on 6 August. However, the single rifle company making the attack achieved little territorial gain and Lieutenant-Colonel António Augusto dos Santos—commander of the Caçadores Especiais—ordered a withdrawal at 15:40. Throughout 6 August, strong Turkish desert defences would prevent further advancement, despite the incorporation of tanks and artillery into the assault. By nightfall, the Turkish defenders still possessed control of Rutba, with the Caçadores Especiais Regiment withdrawing to the original positions.

Soldiers of the Caçadores battalions of Portugual searching Turkish prisoners in an Arabian village, 8 August 1944
On 8 August 1944, Major General José Varela devised a new plan for breaking the Turkish defences. While the 45th Division and BCMA Light Infantry resumed the assault on Barja from the southeast side of the town, the Spanish Guardia Real would break out of the bridgehead created by the Caçadores Especiais Regiment, then move southwesr towards Barja to link up with the 45th and BCMA. The operation was scheduled to start on the afternoon of 8 August.
The attack began with a massive artillery barrage which pounded Turkish positions continuously for two hours. At 16:00, the Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas support battalion joined in, hitting Turkish positions with bursts of machine gun fire. The moment the heavy bombardment lifted, the 45th Division and the Guardia Real both initiated their attacks. D Company of the 45th Division was able to quickly cross the trenches, taking minimal casualties. However, B Company was subjected to heavy fire from Turkish mortars and 88 mm (3.46 in) artillery positions. Eventually, however, both companies managed to establish strong positions on the western ridge overlooking Barja. During the night of 8/9 August, units of the Guardia Real were reinforced by heavy equipment.
As the 45th Division secured their positions east of Barja, the Guardia Real was involved in intense fighting southwest of Rutba. Two companies had advanced against strong and well prepared Turkish defences of the 200th Yuk Jannissaire Regiment. A Company was quickly tied down by Turkish mortar fire, while B Company flanked Turkish positions to the north of Rutba. By nightfall, all four companies held tenuous positions in the thick of Turkish defences. On the night of 8/9 August, the Guardia Real was subjected to counterattacks by the 200th Yuk Jannissaire Regiment which were repulsed with the support of continuous Iberian artillery shelling.
By the morning of 9 August, the Guardia Real were reinforced by the tanks of the 14th Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment). By mid morning, Barja had been cleared of Turkish defenders, although strong positions still existed outside of the town. Within an hour, the Calgarys' tanks had broken through Turkish positions near Sidon Sea Castle and two companies had linked up with the 45th Division and BCMA Light Infantry within Barja. Near the end of 9 August, Turkish forces of the 90th Yuk Jannissaire Division fell back to their second defensive line: a formidable obstacle known as "La Quebrada (The Gully)".
While the Iberians crossed the Turkish defences in the West, the Italian Somali Divisions launched a two brigade attack, Operation Torso, against al-Kut at 14:30 on 7 August. The division had the Italian 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade under their command, anchoring their left flank and were supported by heavy concentrations of artillery and air support. Surprise was achieved as Faik Türün, the commander of LXXVI Yuk Corps, had been persuaded that the Somali would not be in a position to launch a major attack until 8 August.
Initially, the Somali attack progressed well, but the Turkish defenders regained their composure and the attack lost momentum against heavily fortified defensive positions. By 21:00, the Somali 24th Infantry Battalion had fought its way in slow house to house fighting to the centre of the town, but were pinned down with no prospect of further progress without significant armoured support. However, a combination of concealed minefields and well dug in Turkish armour made the task of the Allied/Central Powers tanks impossible. In the early hours of 8 August, the Somali commander—Carlo Geloso—ordered a withdrawal from the town with a view to renewing the attack after further softening up from artillery and bombers.
With both the Iberian and Italian Divisions finding progress difficult, it was decided to bring the Arabian 21st Infantry Brigade into the attack with orders to seize Shayk Sa'd. With no river crossing available, the Arabian engineers rushed to build a bridge across the Tigri which was completed on 9 August and allowed infantry and supporting armour to cross and expand the bridgehead on the far bank. The bridge was named the "Impossible Bridge" because the local geography required for it to be built backwards from the enemy bank of the river.

Iberian Sherman driven off the road by Turkish mortar fire, 10 August 1944
Following the loss of Barja, the 90th Yuk Jannissaire Division withdrew to a primary defensive line near Akkar el Atika. The line centred around a natural ravine known as "La Quebrada (The Gully)", with an average depth of 200 ft (61 m). General Varela initial plan to take the position (as well as achieve a foothold on the roads toward Homs) consisted of a frontal assault by the 2nd Iberian Infantry Brigade, which would seize Tekrit Ridge, capture La Quebrada and gain positions on the Homs to Aleppo road. However, Iberian defences were adequately prepared, including gun-pits, bunkers and shelters.
On 10 August, three Iberian battalions made their first attempt to cross La Quebrada. Although they succeeded in capturing Tekrit Ridge, directly west of La Quebrada, attempts to neutralise Turkish positions in the ravine were unsuccessful. On 11 August, the three battalions made another attempt, with the Voluntary Reservist Regiment suffering heavy casualties in their attempts to take Turkish positions in the sector. Although a badly mauled A Company was able to gain a foothold on the reverse slope, newly arrived Turkish units forced the remaining men to withdraw.
On 12 August 1944, General Varela sent the three battalions of the 3rd Iberian Infantry Brigade against Turkish defences in La Quebrada. The assault started poorly, when Iberian artillery plans were captured by soldiers of the 90th Yuk Jannissaire Division's 200th Regiment. When The Spanish Legion Regiment attacked La Quebrada, they were subject to counterattacks by the 200th Yuk Jannissaire Regiment approximately 10:30. By 14:00, the regiment had called off its attacks and had taken heavy casualties. To the west, BCMA Infantry fared little better, with C Company taking heavy casualties in their assault. Attempts were again made on 13 August, by two battalions of the 3rd Iberian Infantry Brigade, and the attacks were driven back by tenacious Turkish resistance. On the evening of 13 August, the heavily depleted 90th Yuk Jannissaire Division were relieved from their positions in La Quebrada by units of the 1st Parachute Division.
By 14 August, Varela had devised a new assault plan for taking La Quebrada. A small force from the 26th Division would move to Boustane, a small village east of La Quebrada, before outflanking Turkish positions with infantry and armour, thereby forcing the 1st Parachute Division to withdraw. The attack was to begin at dawn, with two companies of the 26th Division attacking Boustane with artillery support. By 07:50, both companies had control of the lateral highway leading to Boustane. C Company—under Captain Rafael García Valiño—pushed on toward Boustanei with support from the Madrid Regiment, while D Company found itself involved in firefights southwest of Boustane. At 08:30, C Company began their assault toward the manor house in Boustane, some 2,000 yd (1,800 m) away. Strong Turkish defences caused heavy casualties to the attackers; only 21 men and five tanks made it to within 200 yd (180 m) of the objective. Despite the arrival of several Otosan IVs, Valiño's remaining forces captured the manor house at 14:30. However, only 14 men of C Company remained fit to continue fighting. For his efforts to capture Boustane, Valiño was awarded the Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand.

Ottoman Otosan IV
With the Arabian Division committed, Messe decided to raise the stakes further by bringing the Italian 5th Infantry Division from the relatively tranquil XIII Corps front and insert them between the Somali and Arabian Divisions. This would allow the Arabian division to narrow and concentrate their attack and give Messe four divisions to continue the attack between An Numaniyah and the Tigri. By 12 August, the Italian 17th Infantry Brigade—the first of 5th Division's brigades—was in place and under the Somali division's command. Once 5th Division headquarters and its other brigades had arrived, these two left hand divisions were to be organised under the command of XIV Army Corps, commanded by General Giovanni Vecchi.
In Mesopotania, the Arabian 21st Brigade had by 13 August established a solid bridgehead around the "Impossible Bridge". That night, a second 8th Arabian Division brigade—the 17th Arabian Infantry Brigade—passed through and attacked towards Mehran. The 1st Battalion Arabian Bersaglieri stormed the village in a wild night's fighting while the 1st Battalion 5th Arabian Rifles seized Point 198 nearby, holding it against determined counterattacks, including from tanks in the afternoon of 14 August. That evening, 1st Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment attacked on the left of the Arabians and established positions on the lateral road between Changuleh and Mehran. On the evening of 15 August, the 1st/5th Bersaglieri Regiment from the Arabian Division's 19th Arabian Infantry Brigade, which had been held in reserve, was committed on the left flank of the Frontier Force Regiment to advance in the direction of Salehabad and overran a number of Turkish positions. By the end of 16 August, further attacks from the 15th Arabian Regiments 3rd Battalion had secured positions on the lateral road, ensuring that the 8th Arabian Division was firmly embedded in the main Turkish defences.
Meanwhile, at 01:00 on 15 August, the Somali Division—electing not to make a further frontal assault on Changuleh—launched their 5th Brigade in Operation Firenze, a new flanking attack to the right of the village. By that afternoon, 5th Brigade was well established on the Changuleh to Mehran lateral road and had driven a shallow salient into the Turkish forward defensive line. Although they had exhausted nearly all their reserves, divisional headquarters was optimistic for the prospects for the next day, given the heavy casualties they had inflicted that day.
However, the Turks launched a counterattack at 03:15 on 16 August, throwing in men from the 6th Parachute Regiment, sent by Türün to the 26th Yuk Division to relieve the exhausted 9th Yuk Jannissaire Regiment. These troops had arrived late that evening after a long journey. Supported by tanks, they attacked the right-hand Somali positions held by the 21st Somali Battalion, but were held off and had retired by daylight. Meanwhile, even before the Turkish counterattack had been repelled, the 20th Regiment had attacked toward Changuleh with two squadrons of Sherman tanks. Under intense artillery and anti-tank fire, the tanks and infantry became separated and the tanks became a target rather than a threat.
Operation Firenze had come to an end. While the Turkish line had been pushed back and they had sustained casualties they could ill afford, they still firmly held Changuleh. Furthermore, the Somali Division was, for the time being, fought out and needed a period of consolidation and reorganisation.
By 16 August, the Italian 5th Division had completed its move into the line between the Somali and the Arabian divisions. There followed a period of hostile patrolling and skirmishing on the XIV Army Corps front. The main burden of the fighting was therefore assumed by V Corps as the Iberians pushed for Mehran with the Arabian Division on their left flank.
Meanwhile, in Syria, in preparation for what he hoped would be the final attack on La Quebrada, Varela shifted the 2nd Iberian Infantry Brigade to occupy positions formerly belonging to the 1st Brigade. Varela planned for an attack by Brigada «Galicia» VII to be the last of the frontal assaults against La Quebrada. Should this attack fail, the Caçadores and the Guardia Real would move through Boustane and outflank Turkish defences, forcing a withdrawal from La Quebrada.
At 07:30 on 15 August, two companies of the Brigada «Galicia» VII attacked. After little more than an hour of fighting, however, the Iberians were forced to call the attack off. In the afternoon, the two heavily depleted companies of the 26th Division fought off a large Turkish counterattack on Boustane, with the 11th Field Artillery Regiment firing 5,398 rounds in support of Iberian forces.
On 18 August, Varela planned what would be the largest assault on La Quebrada during the campaign. Beginning at 08:00, Iberian artillery would bombard a 900 m (3,000 ft) front, to a depth of 300 m (980 ft). Every five minutes, the barrage would move 100 m (110 yd) forward, continuing to pound Turkish defences in the bombardment area. Less than 100 m behind this barrage, the 45 Division would advance nord. At the same time, the 8th Arabian Division would attack northward toward Daoura, preventing Turkish reinforcements from reaching La Quebrada. When the 45 Division reached the Kobayat Crossroads, the Guardia Real would move north, overrunning Kobayat itself, then advance up the Homs-Hama road. Both battalions would be supported by tanks of the 26th Division. At first, the attack went extremely well. However, when the artillery shifted their barrage, the Turks defences quickly recovered and their machine gun fire devastated the advancing forces. In C Company of the Guardia Real, every platoon commander was killed or wounded. The attack was quickly abandoned.
On 20 August, Iberian forces tried again and The Guardia Real attacked Kobayat Crossroads at noon. This time, Varela was determined that the operation would be successful, with armoured forces of the 26th Division moving to the start lines well before 07:00. Due to shortages of fuel and poor weather, H-Hour was postponed until 14:15. When H-Hour came, a powerful creeping barrage supported two companies of the Guardia Real eastward. By evening, B Company controlled the Kobayat Crossroads, having met virtually no resistance in their advance to the objective. However, Turkish forces had already evacuated La Quebrada, falling back to prepare for a strong defence of Homs, with elements of the powerful 1st Parachute Division firmly entrenched in the town.
The 19th Arabian Brigade was ordered to attack Musayyib and exploit any gains as far as Baghdad. The attack went in at 05:30 on 22 August but failed in desperate fighting. The 1/5th Battalion, Bersaglieri Regiment renewed their attack the following morning with more success. After a counterattack by Turkish paratroops had been repulsed at midday, the Bersaglieri advanced to mop up the remainder of the village. However, deadly small scale house-to-house battles continued throughout the rest of 23 August and for the next two days as the determined parachute soldiers clung on. To the south of Musayyib, the 3rd/15th Arabians had taken Mahawil on 23 August and a continuous brigade line had been established.
On 25 August, reinforcements in the form of 3rd Battalion, 8th Arab Regiment were brought forward and after a softening up barrage were launched at the east side of Musayyib. With four battalions now involved (the 5th Battalion, Bersaglieri had by now been tasked on the south east side of the village) supported by tanks, Mahawil was finally cleared by the end of 26 August. The troops of the 8th Arab Division entered the village to find a shambles. One correspondent described the scene "as though a giant had trodden on a child's box of blocks".
On 23 December, General Vecchi's XIV Army Corps launched a new attack to push back the Turkish line from Bagdad. In the afternoon, the Italian 5th Infantry Division attacked on the right wing of the Corps front toward Al-Mada'in. Their objective was to secure the flank of the 2nd Somali Division, which was in turn to attack northwest and west from the salient in order to roll up the Bagdad defences.
The battle continued for a few days after the fall of Rasheed. With that town captured, it looked as if it would require the Eighth Army only to regather itself and strike one more concentrated blow at Bagdad. However, on 31 August, strong Turkish counter offensives, combined with Russian forces prevented the fall of the city, and forced the Allied/Central Powers forces back to Musayyib in fighting that was compared to a mini Berlin.
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The battle of the Bulge: part 1: the beginning
The battle of the Bulge: part 1: the beginning
After the breakout from Manchuria on early April 1944, the Allies/Central Powers advanced toward Siberia more quickly than anticipated. The Allies/Central Powers were faced with several military logistics issues:
* troops were fatigued by weeks of continuous combat
* supply lines were stretched extremely thin
* supplies were dangerously depleted.
General Yoshijirō Umezu (the Supreme Allied/Central Powers Commander on the Siberian Front) and his staff chose to hold the Siberian Taiga region which was occupied by the U.S. First Army. The Allies/Central Powers chose to defend the Siberian taiga with as few troops as possible due to the favorable terrain and limited Allied/Central Powers operational objectives in the area. They also had intelligence that the Nasist Army was using the area across the German border as a rest-and-refit area for its troops.
The speed of the Allied/Central Powers advance coupled with an initial lack of warm-water ports presented the Allies/Central Powers with enormous supply problems. Over-the-beach supply operations using Vladivostok, and direct landing ships on the beaches, were unable to meet operational needs. The only deep-water port the Allies had captured was Amgu in outer Manchuria, but the Russians had thoroughly wrecked and mined the harbor before it could be taken. It took many months to rebuild its cargo-handling capability. The Allies/Central Powers captured the port of Nikolaevsk-na-Amure intact in the first days of July, but it was not operational until 28 September. The estuary of the Amur river that controlled access to the port had to be cleared of both Russian troops and naval mines. These limitations led to differences between General Umezu and Field Marshal Omar Bradley, commander of the American 21st Army Group, over whether Bradley or Lieutenant General Eitaro Uchiyama, commanding the Japanese 12th Army Group, in the south would get priority access to supplies. Russian forces remained in control of several major ports on Kamchatka until the end of the war.
The Allies/Central Powers' efforts to destroy the Siberian railway system prior to Kantokuen were successful. This destruction hampered the Russian response to the invasion, but it proved equally hampering to the Allies/Central Powers, as it took time to repair the rail network's tracks and bridges. A trucking system nicknamed the Red Ball Express brought supplies to front-line troops, but used up five times as much fuel to reach the front line near the Siberian taiga. By early August, the Allies/Central Powers had suspended major offensives to improve their supply lines and supply availability at the front.
Bradley and Uchiyama both pressed for priority delivery of supplies to their respective armies so they could continue their individual lines of advance and maintain pressure on the Russians, while Umezu preferred a broad-front strategy. He gave some priority to Uchiyama's forces. This had the short-term goal of opening the urgently needed port of Nikolaevsk-na-Amure and the long-term goal of capturing the Yakut area, one of the nearest big Coal production areas of Siberia. With the Allies/Central Powers stalled, Russian Field Marshal Nikolai Bulganin was able to reorganize the disrupted Russian armies into a coherent defensive force.
In the west German general Erwin Rommel's Operation Skorpion achieved only some of its objectives, which allowed the Russians to reniforme ther position in Siberia.
Despite a lull along the front after the taiga battles, the Russian situation remained dire. While operations continued in the autumn, the strategic situation in the west had changed little. The Allies/Central Powers were slowly pushing towards Inter Siberia, but no decisive breakthrough was achieved. The Allies/Central Powers in Siberia already had 96 divisions at or near the front, with an estimated ten more divisions en route from the empire of Japan. Additional Allied/Central Powers airborne units remained in Japan. The Russians could field a total of 55 understrength divisions.
Joseph Stalin first officially outlined his surprise counter-offensive to his astonished generals on July 16, 1944. The assault's ambitious goal was to pierce the thinly held lines of the U.S. First Army between Aldan and Nerjungri with Army Group B by the end of the first day, get the armor through the Siberian Taiga by the end of the second day, reach the Amur between Jiamusi and Chabarovsk by the third day, and seize Vladivostok by the fourth day.
Stalin initially promised his generals a total of 18 infantry and 12 armored or mechanized divisions "for planning purposes." The plan was to pull 13 infantry divisions, two parachute divisions and six panzer-type divisions from the Stavka combined Russian military strategic reserve.
Meanwhile, the Allied/Central Powers air offensive of early 1944 had effectively grounded the VVS, leaving the Russian Army with little battlefield intelligence and no way to interdict Allied supplies. The converse was equally damaging; daytime movement of Russian forces was rapidly noticed, and interdiction of supplies combined with the 1943 bombing of the Arabian oil fields great el reduced Russia of oil and gasoline. This fuel shortage intensified after the Italians overran those fields in the course of the May 1944 Arabian rebellion.
One of the few advantages held by the Russian forces in September 1944 was that they were no longer defending all of Siberia. Their front lines in the west had been considerably shortened by the Allied/Central Powers offensive and were much closer to the Russian heartland. This drastically reduced their supply problems despite Allied/Central Powers control of the air. Additionally, their extensive telephone and telegraph network meant that radios were no longer necessary for communications, which lessened the effectiveness of Allied JADE intercepts. Nevertheless, some 40–50 messages per day were decrypted by JADE. They recorded the quadrupling of Russian fighter forces and a term used in an intercepted VVS message—Razvertyvaniye Okhotnika (literally "Hunter Deployment")—implied preparation for an offensive operation. JADE also picked up communiqués regarding extensive rail and road movements in the region, as well as orders that movements should be made on time.
Stalin felt that his mobile reserves allowed him to mount one major offensive. Although he realized nothing significant could be accomplished in the European front, he still believed an offensive against the Americans and the Japanese, whom he considered militarily inferior to the Wehrmacht, would have some chances of success. Stalin believed he could split the Allied/Central Powers forces and compel the Americans to settle for a separate peace, independent of the Central Powers, resulting in an isolated Japan. Success in Siberia would give the Russians time to design and produce more advanced weapons (such as jet aircraft, new submarines designs and super-heavy tanks) and permit the concentration of forces in Europe. After the war ended, this assessment was generally viewed as unrealistic, given Allied/Central Powers air superiority throughout Siberia and their ability to continually disrupt Russian offensive operations.
Given the reduced manpower of their land forces at the time, the Russians believed the best way to seize the initiative would be to attack in Siberia against the smaller Allied/Central Powers forces rather than against the vast East European armies. Even the encirclement and destruction of multiple German led armies would still have left the Germans and its allies with a numerical superiority.
Stalin's plan called for a lightning war attack through the weakly defended Siberian taiga, aimed at splitting the armies along the U.S.—Japanese lines and capturing Vladivostok. The plan banked on unfavorable weather which would minimize the Allied/Central Powers air advantage. Stalin originally set the offensive for late September, before the anticipated start of the German offensive. The disputes between Bradley and Uchiyama were well known, and Stalin hoped he could exploit this disunity. If the attack were to succeed in capturing Vladivostok, four complete armies would be trapped without major supplies behind Russian lines.
The Russian plan
Several senior Russian military officers, including Marshall Ivan Konev and Nikolai Bulganin, expressed concern as to whether the goals of the offensive could be realized. Konev and Bulganin both believed aiming for Vladivostok was too ambitious, given Russia's scarce resources in late 1944. At the same time, they felt that maintaining a purely defensive posture would only delay defeat, not avert it. They thus developed alternative, less ambitious plans that did not aim to cross the Amur river; Konev's being Operatsiya Osenniy tuman (Operation Autumn Mist) and Bulganin Operation Mars. The two field marshals combined their plans to present a joint "small solution" to Stalin. When they offered their alternative plans, Stalin would not listen. Bulganin later testified that while he recognized the merit of Stalin's operational plan, he saw from the very first that "all, absolutely all conditions for the possible success of such an offensive were lacking."
Konev, commander of Russian Army Group B, and Bulganin, overall commander of the Russian Army Command in the Far East, were put in charge of carrying out the operation.
In Siberia supply problems began significantly to impede Allied/Central Powers operations. Russian planning for the counteroffensive rested on the premise that a successful strike against thinly manned stretches of the line would halt Allied/Central Powers advances on the entire Siberian Front.
The Nasist Army's code name for the offensive was Operatsiya Amurskiye volny ("Operation Amur Waves"), after the Russian waltz Amur Waves
, a name that deceptively implied the Russians would limit ther offensive to the Amur river. The Russians also referred to as "Nastupleniye taygi
" (Taiga Offensive) and Bulganin-Offensive, both names being generally used nowadays in modern Russia. The Japanese name for the operation is シベリアのタイガの戦い (Shiberia no taiga notatakai) (Battle of the Siberian taiga). The battle was militarily defined by the Allies/Central Powers as the Siberian Taiga Counteroffensive, which included the Russian drive and the American/Japanese effort to contain and later defeat it. The phrase Battle of the Bulge was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied/Central Powers front line bulged inward on wartime news maps.
While the Siberian Taiga Counteroffensive is the correct term in Allied/Central Powers military language, the official Siberian Taiga/Manchurian campaign reached beyond the Siberian taiga battle region, and the most popular description in English speaking countries remains simply the Battle of the Bulge.
The Stavka decided by mid-July, at Stalin's insistence, that the offensive would be mounted in the Siberian Taiga. In the invasion of Japanese Siberia Russian forces had passed through the Siberian Taiga in three days before engaging the enemy, but the 1944 plan called for battle in the forest itself. The main forces were to advance southward to the Amur River, then continue south for Vladivostok and Seishin. The harsh terrain of the Siberian Taiga would make rapid movement difficult, though open ground beyond the Amur offered the prospect of a successful dash to the coast.
Four armies were selected for the operation. Joseph Stalin personally selected for the counter-offensive on the northern shoulder of the western front the best troops available and officers he trusted. The lead role in the attack was given to 6th Tankovy Army, commanded by istrebki-General'nyy komissar gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (or GKGB) Andrey Kravchenko. It included the most experienced formation of the B.P istrebki: the 1st istrebki Tankovy Division Kaminski Brigade. It also contained the 12th istrebki Tankovy Division Alexander Suvorov. They were given priority for supply and equipment and assigned the shortest route to the primary objective of the offensive, Vladivostok, starting from the northernmost point on the intended battlefront, nearest the important road network hub of Jakutsk.
The Fifth Tankovy Army under General Ivan Shlemin was assigned to the middle sector with the objective of capturing Seishin. The Seventh Army, under General Vladimir Gluzdovsky, was assigned to the eastern sector, near the city of Zeja, with the task of protecting the flank. This Army was made up of only four infantry divisions, with no large-scale armored formations to use as a spearhead unit. As a result, they made little progress throughout the battle.
Situation on the Siberian Front as of 15 September 1944
Also participating in a secondary role was the Fifteenth Army, under General Stepan Mamonov. Recently brought back up to strength and re-equipped after heavy fighting during Operation Skorpion, it was located on the far north of the Siberian Taiga battlefield and tasked with holding U.S. forces in place, with the possibility of launching its own attack given favorable conditions.
For the offensive to be successful, four criteria were deemed critical: the attack had to be a complete surprise; the weather conditions had to be poor to neutralize Allied/Central Powers air superiority and the damage it could inflict on the Russian offensive and its supply lines; the progress had to be rapid—the Amur River, halfway to Vladivostok, had to be reached by day 4; and Allied/Central Powers fuel supplies would have to be captured intact along the way because the combined Nasist forces were short on fuel. The General Staff estimated they only had enough fuel to cover one third to one half of the ground to Vladivostok in heavy combat conditions.
The plan originally called for just under 45 divisions, including a dozen Tankovy and Bronevyye sily divisions forming the armored spearhead and various infantry units to form a defensive line as the battle unfolded. By this time the Russian Army suffered from an acute manpower shortage, and the force had been reduced to around 30 divisions. Although it retained most of its armor, there were not enough infantry units because of the defensive needs in Europe. These 30 newly rebuilt divisions used some of the last reserves of the Russian Army. Among them were Narodnoe Opolcheniye ("People's Militia") units formed from a mix of battle-hardened veterans and recruits formerly regarded as too young, too old or too frail to fight. Training time, equipment and supplies were inadequate during the preparations. Russian fuel supplies were precarious—those materials and supplies that could not be directly transported by rail had to be horse-drawn to conserve fuel, and the mechanized and tankovy divisions would depend heavily on captured fuel. As a result, the start of the offensive was delayed from 27 September to 16 October.
Before the offensive the Allies/Central Powers were virtually blind to Russian troop movement. During the liberation of Siberia, the extensive network of the Japanese holdouts (Japanese soldiers who remained behind enemy lines) had provided valuable intelligence about Russian dispositions. Once they reached the Siberian taiga however, this source dried up. In Manchuria, orders had been relayed within the Russian army using radio messages enciphered by the Fialka machine, and these could be picked up and decrypted by Allied/Central Powers code-breakers headquartered at Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Garden, to give the intelligence known as Jade. In Russia such orders were typically transmitted using telephone and teleprinter, and a special radio silence order was imposed on all matters concerning the upcoming offensive. The foggy autumn weather also prevented Allied/Central Powers reconnaissance aircraft from correctly assessing the ground situation. Russians units assembling in the area were even issued charcoal instead of wood for cooking fires to cut down on smoke and reduce chances of Allied/Central Powers observers deducing a troop buildup was underway.
For these reasons Allied/Central Powers High Command considered the Siberian Taiga a quiet sector, relying on assessments from their intelligence services that the Germans were unable to launch any major offensive operations this late in the war. What little intelligence they had led the Allies/Central Powers to believe precisely what the Russians wanted them to believe-–that preparations were being carried out only for defensive, not offensive, operations. The Allies/Central Powers relied too much on Jade, not human reconnaissance. In fact, because of the Russians' efforts, the Allies/Central Powers were led to believe that a new defensive army was being formed around the Lana river, possibly to defend against Japanese attack. This was done by increasing the number of Zena (Zenitnaya artilleriyskaya , i.e., anti-aircraft) in the area and the artificial multiplication of radio transmissions in the area. The Allies/Central Powers at this point thought the information was of no importance. All of this meant that the attack, when it came, completely surprised the Allied/Central Powers forces. Remarkably, the U.S. Third Army intelligence chief, Colonel Oscar Koch, the U.S. First Army intelligence chief and the SHACPEF intelligence officer Brigadier General Hiroo Onoda all correctly predicted the Russian offensive capability and intention to strike the U.S. VIII Corps area. These predictions were largely dismissed by the U.S. 12th Army Group. Onoda had informed Bedell Smith in October of his suspicions. Bedell Smith sent Onoda to warn Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, the commander of the 12th Army Group, of the danger. Bradley's response was succinct: "Let them come." Historian Patrick K. O'Donnell writes that on 8 October 1944 U.S. Rangers at great cost took Hill 400 during the Battle of Tommot. The next day GIs who relieved the Rangers reported a considerable movement of Russian troops inside the Siberian Taiga in the enemy's rear, but that no one in the chain of command connected the dots.
Because the Siberian Taiga was considered a quiet sector, considerations of economy of force led it to be used as a training ground for new units and a rest area for units that had seen hard fighting. The U.S. units deployed in the Siberian thus were a mixture of inexperienced troops (such as the raw U.S. 99th and 106th "Golden Lions" Divisions), and battle-hardened troops sent to that sector to recuperate (the 28th Infantry Division).
Two major special operations were planned for the offensive. By August it was decided that Alexander Kazankin was to lead a task force of English-speaking Russian soldiers in "Operation Ring". These soldiers were to be dressed in American uniforms and wear dog tags taken from corpses and prisoners of war. Their job was to go behind American lines and change signposts, misdirect traffic, generally cause disruption and seize bridges across the Amur River. By late September another ambitious special operation was added: Aleksey Semenovich Zhadov was to lead the 4th Airborne Corp in Operation Yastreb, a night-time paratroop drop behind the Allied /Central Powers lines aimed at capturing a vital road junction near Bolshoy Nimnyr.
Russian intelligence had set 20 October as the expected date for the start of the upcoming German offensive, aimed at crushing what was left of Russian resistance in Russia and thereby opening the way to Moskow. It was hoped that German emperor Wilhelm III would delay the start of the operation once the Russian assault in the Siberia Taiga had begun and wait for the outcome before continuing.
Despite the mediocre success of Operation Skorpion in Europe, Stalin and his staff had been forced to abandon the Logovo medvedya headquarters in the Baltics, in which they had coordinated much of the fighting in Europe. After a brief visit to Moskov, Stalin traveled on Stalin's railway carriage to Smolensk on 11 October, taking up residence in the Tula bunker command complex, co-located with Stavka West's base at Gdov Kremlin.
Bulganin set up his operational headquarters near Yakutsk, close enough for the generals and Tankovy Corps commanders who were to lead the attacks traveling there in an istrebki-operated bus convoy. With the city acting as overflow accommodation, the main party was settled into the Yakutsk command bunker, including Gen. Aleksi Inauri, Gen. Boris Vannikov, Gen. Gleb Baklanov, Vyacheslav Malyshev and istrebki Gen. Nikolai Gusev. In a personal conversation on 13 October between Ivan Konev and Aleksey Semenovich Zhadov, who was put in charge of Operation Stösser, von der Heydte gave Operation Yastreb less than a 10% chance of succeeding. Konev told him it was necessary to make the attempt: "It must be done because this offensive is the last chance to conclude the war favorably."

I deeply apologize for the delay of this chapter. But as my pc has broken and the quarantine for the coronavirus is in place, I am forced to use my Ipad for writing. I ma already behind scedule for my fanfictions (which I has writing a chapter before the computer went kaput and I even had some cool ideas.).
In the meantime, I hope you guys like this new update! Be sure to like(if you like it), comment(please comment so I can learn what your opinion is) and.....follow I guess.
I like the update and the story in general. I am mainly wondering how the allies and Germans are going to occupy russia, as friendly gouvernement or not it is huge and could allow for resistance movements and lone soldiers to continue the fight for many more years (I am thinking of Japanese soldiers who remained in the jungle for decades)
Also sorry about your computer, what kind of fanfictions do you write?
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I like the update and the story in general. I am mainly wondering how the allies and Germans are going to occupy russia, as friendly gouvernement or not it is huge and could allow for resistance movements and lone soldiers to continue the fight for many more years (I am thinking of Japanese soldiers who remained in the jungle for decades)
Also sorry about your computer, what kind of fanfictions do you write?
Weeelll I was thinking of making the Chinese soldiers hold out, but the Russians ( especially the istrebki, AKA the SS of TTL) could indeed keep up the fight.
However, I was thinking to give also idipendence to various countries that nowadays are also asking for indipendence, such as Tartarstan.
As for my fanfiction, here’s a link for them:
The Battle of the Bulge: Part 2
The Battle of the Bulge: Part 2
On 16 October 1944 at 05:30, the Russians began the assault with a massive, 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery pieces across a 130-kilometer (80 mi) front on the Allied/Central Powers troops facing the 6th Tankovy Army. The Americans' initial impression was that this was the anticipated, localized counterattack resulting from the Allies' recent attack in the Yert sector to the north, where the 2nd Division had knocked a sizable dent in the Ostrog Line. Heavy snowstorms engulfed parts of the Siberian Taiga area. While having the effect of keeping the Allied/Central Powers aircraft grounded, the weather also proved troublesome for the Russians because poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units.
In the center, Vasily Volsky Fifth Tankovy Army attacked towards Ulu and Verkhnyaya Amga, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the East, Vladimir Gluzdovsky 's Seventh Army pushed towards Ust'-Maja in its efforts to secure the flank from Allied/Central Powers attacks.
On the morning of Monday, 16 October, a snowstorm blanketed the forests. The Russian attack opened with a massive artillery bombardment along a 100 miles (160 km) wide front just before 05:30. American commanders initially believed that the German fire was a retaliatory assault in response to the American advance at the Yert crossroads. Large numbers of Russian infantry followed the barrage and attacked.
The northern assault was led by the I Istrebki Tankovy Corps. 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division was the spearhead of the attack, led by Istrebki GKGB Ivan Dremov, which consisted of 4,800 men and 600 vehicles, including 35 T-44, 45 T-34, 45 IS-3, 149 half-tracks, 18 105mm and 6 150mm artillery pieces, and 30 anti-aircraft weapons. Dremov's plan was for the 12th Tankovy Division to follow 12th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division's infantry who were tasked with capturing the villages and towns immediately south of the International Highway along the Oy-Pokrovsk road and to advance south-east towards Kachikattsy.

Russian infantry advance through the Siberian taiga.
The Russian 277th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division, assigned the task of capturing Oy was composed for the most part of inexperienced and poorly trained conscripts. Alexey Rodin to the north and Mikhail Panov to the south share the same main street. The infantry advance was supported by an array of searchlights that lit up the clouds like moonlight allowing the inexperienced Russian infantry to find their way, but in some locations the Russian troops, backlit by the searchlights, became easy targets for American forces. These clouds, and the snowstorms over the following days, prevented the superior Allied/Central Powers air forces from attacking Russian forces. The American troops in the forward positions near the International Highway were quickly overrun and killed, captured, or even ignored by the Russians, intent on keeping to their timetable for a rapid advance.
Unfortunately for the Russians, during their retreat earlier that autumn they had destroyed the Bestyakh-Kachikattsy road bridge. Russian engineers were slow to repair the bridge on the morning of 16 October, preventing Russian vehicles from using this route. A railroad overpass they had selected as an alternative route could not bear the weight of the Russian armor. Rodion Malinovsky received new orders directing him south along the road through Ulakhan-An. Before even reaching Ulakhan-An, Malinovsky lost three tanks to Russian mines and was slowed by mine-clearing operations.

A patrol of Company F, 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, searches the woods in Siberia, for Russian parachutists who were dropped in that area
From 05:25 to 05:30 on 16 October, the battalion's positions "in and around Tit-Ebya, received a heavy barrage of artillery and rockets covering our entire front line." The enemy artillery, rocket and mortar fire cut all landline communications between the front-line units and headquarters. Only some radio communications between front line and the heavy weapons company remained operational. Twenty minutes after the barrage lifted, Russian infantry from the 753rd Narodnoe Opolcheniye Regiment attacked the 395th in the dark in strength at five points. The Russian attack concentrated in the battalion's center, between I and K Companies. Another Russian force attempted to penetrate the Khotochchu area, immediately east of the Battalion's left flank. The 395th was outnumbered five to one and was at times surrounded.

Destroyed T-34 Tank
It initially pushed the Russians back with machine gun, small arms and mortar fire, and hand-to-hand combat and stopped the Russian advance. Without radio communication between the front-line artillery liaison officer and 196th Field Artillery, their guns could not be brought to bear on the Russian assault until communication was restored at 06:50. The artillery had registered the forward positions of the American infantry and shelled the advancing Russians while the American soldiers remained in their covered foxholes. It was the only sector of the American front line attacked during the Battle of the Bulge where the Russians failed to advance. By 07:45, the Russians withdrew, except for a group which had penetrated the Battalion's center and was soon repulsed. At 12:35, the Russians launched their attack again, and were pushed back by artillery and mortar fire. The result of the first day of what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge was 104 Russian dead "in an area 50 yards (46 m) yards in front of our lines to 100 yards (91 m) behind the line, and another 160 wounded counted in front of battalion lines." The 3rd Battalion lost four killed, seven wounded, and four missing. "We learned from a Russian Lieutenant prisoner of war that the enemy's mission was to take Khotochchu at all costs."
General Lauer, commanding officer of the 99th, ordered Col. Robertson at Yelanka to hold his position until at least the next morning when more orders would be forthcoming. Robertson told his men to hold and he also prepared them for an orderly withdrawal in the morning. Early the next morning General Gerow, commander of US V Corps, told Robertson to turn south and withdraw to a crossroads just north of Tit-Ebya where they were to establish a road block. Robertson's troops were heavily engaged and withdrawal was complicated, but successfully completed. 9th Infantry Regiment pulled back to the crossroads at the edge of the forest. The other units moved south through the area near Tit-Ebya. Robertson moved his headquarters from Turuk-Khaya . Robertson also informed Gerow that he intended to hold Tit-Ebya until troops south of the villages had retreated through them to the ridge line, which then would become the next line of defense. This defensive line was intended to safeguard the key high ground on Lena river from the Russian advance. The area around Lena river became a collection point for ragtag groups of American troops whose units been broken and scattered at the start of the enemy offensive. With so many troops from different units arriving in every kind of condition, organizing a coherent defense was a huge task, but one that occurred with surprising speed under the circumstances. Intelligence about the attack that reached the Americans was spotty and contradictory.
To the south of Tit-Ebya , the Russians had made a deep penetration. Tit-Ebya had to be held to allow 2nd Infantry Division with its heavy weapons and vehicles to reach positions around the Lena river. The 99th Division had already put its last reserve into the line. The 2nd Infantry Division, with the attached 395th, was left to defend the endangered sector of the corridor east.
The Russian' Siberian airborne operation was a plan to drop paratroopers in the American rear in to help troops of theLena river to encircle and destroy Thee American forces. The operation, led by Ivan Zatevakhin, was a complete failure. To conceal the plans from the Allies/Central Powers and preserve secrecy, Zatevakhin wasn't allowed to use his own, experienced troops. Most of the replacement paratroops had little training. The VVS managed to assemble 112 Li-2 transport planes, but the pilots were inexperienced. They took off on the night of 16–17 October into strong winds, snow, and limited visibility with around 1,300 VDV.

American troops marching as prisoners of war
It was the Russian paratroopers' only nighttime drop during World War II. The pilots dropped some behind the Russians front lines, others over the Lena river, and only a few hundred behind the American lines, in widely scattered locations. Some aircraft landed with their troops still on board. Only a fraction of the force landed near the intended drop zone. These were buffeted by strong winds that deflected many paratroopers and made for difficult landings. Since many of the Russsian paratroopers were inexperienced, some were crippled on impact and others died where they landed. Some of their bodies were not found until the following spring when the snow melted.
The wide scattering of the drops led to considerable confusion among the Americans, as VDV were reported all over the Siberian Taiga, and the Allies/Central Powers believed a division-sized jump had taken place. The Americans allocated men to secure the rear instead of facing the main Russian thrust at the front. By noon on 17 October, Zatevakhin unit had scouted the woods and rounded up a total of around 300 VDV. The force was too small to take the crossroads on its own, and had limited ammunition.
The main drive against the Lena river was launched in the forests north of Tit-Ebya on the early morning of 17 October. This attack was begun by tank and Bronevyye sily units of 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division. 989th Infantry Regiment of 277th succeeded, after heavy and costly combat in the woods, in overrunning the forward American positions guarding the trails to the villages, capturing a large number of prisoners and leaving many small units isolated. By 11:00, this attack had driven units of 99th Infantry Division back into the area of Tit-Ebya. These units were joined by forces of 2nd Infantry Division moving into the villages from the north. The Russian attack swiftly bogged down against the heavy small arms and machine gun fire from the prepared positions of 99th Infantry Division on their flanks. The Russian infantry struggled to make their way through the dense woods and heavy brush in their path. The Russian forces also drew a rapid response from American artillery, who had registered the forward positions of their infantry. The artillery fired on the exposed advancing Russian while the American troops remained in their covered foxholes. The troops around the villages were assisted by tanks from 741st Tank Battalion, assisted by a company of 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion equipped with M10 tank destroyers, a company of 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and a few towed 3-inch guns from the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion. They were instrumental in helping hold back the Russian advance in the fighting in and around Tit-Ebya.
To the northeast of the 99th Division, the 1st Infantry Division had been recuperating near Rassoloda. When the Russian counterattack broke the division hastily relocated to the unguarded southern end of the 99th's line. Troops from the 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, moved into position to fortify Lena river and complete the defense.
Held up by their inability to cross the railroad bridge that Russian engineers were slow to repair, and by the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon of 394th Infantry Regiment at the Lena river, elements of 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division did not arrive in force at the 99th's positions until the afternoon of 17 October. Finding highway C blocked, 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division initially moved south of highway D. The Russians changed their mind about routing both units through the southern highway and on 18 October 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division was given the task of opening up the road to highway C. They made a probing attack that afternoon which failed. In the early morning of 17 October, Zelman Passov group quickly captured Khaptagay, and shortly afterward Rassoloda. Passov's unit seized 50,000 US gallons (190,000 l; 42,000 imp gal) of fuel for his vehicles; an IS-3's consumption was about .5 miles per US gallon (470 L/100 km; 0.60 mpg‑imp). The Russian paused to refuel before continuing westward. They had been assigned highway B which would take them through Majja. At 09:30 on 17 October, Passov sent a section o his groups east to reconnoiter, but they encountered strong resistance, improvised by tank-destroyers of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and lost two T-34s. Two days into the offensive, the high ground of Lena river and two of the three routes the Russians planned to use remained within the American fortified defense zones.

Russian child soldier of the 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division "Syn Polka"
Believing the way north to Rollbahn B was blocked, and knowing that 12th Istrebki Tankovy was well behind him, unable to dislodge the Americans from the Lena river, Passov and the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division were forced to choose the more difficult highway D to the west. The road was narrow, in many places single-track, at times unpaved. When Passov reviewed his newly assigned alternative route on a map, he exclaimed that the road was "suitable not for tanks but for bicycles!". The route forced vehicles to tail each other, creating a column of infantry and armor up to 25 kilometres (16 mi) long, and prevented them from concentrating their force.

A U.S. First Army soldier manning an M1 81mm mortar listens for fire direction on a field phone during the Russian Siberian Taiga offensive
Orders from Field Marshals Ivan Konev and Nikolai Bulganin that Lena river be captured and the advance of Sixth Tankovy Army resume were being sent down the chain of command to 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division Headquarters with increasing urgency. General Vladimir Chistyakov, commander of the 1st Istrebki Tankovy Corps, ordered GKGB Alexander Kostitsyn, Commander of the 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division, to take command of all forces facing Lena river and capture it. The battle-seasoned veteran American tankers resisted repeated attacks by lead elements of Sixth Tankovy Army from 16–19 October. Fighting against the superior Russian T-44 and IS tanks, supported by infantry, the battalion fought many small unit engagements. Using their size and mobility to their advantage, their Shermans stalked the Russian tanks in twos and threes until they could destroy or immobilize them with shots from the flanks or rear.
The American withdrawal was hastened by an increasing shortage of ammunition. Fortunately for the defense, three tank destroyers of 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion arrived with a good supply of bazookas and anti-tank mines. These reinforcements were put to good use when the 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division launched a powerful tank and infantry attack on Kachikattsy. The American forces responded with a powerful artillery barrage supported by mortar fire, bazooka rockets, and anti-tank mines that repelled the Russian attack around midnight of 18 October The Russian attack failed to clear a line of advance for the 12th Istrebki.

Troops cross an open field
On 18 October,Russian infantry and armor resumed their attack on Kachikattsy. They were supported by the Russian 560th Heavy Antitank Battalion equipped with the state-of-the-art ISU-152 tank destroyer. The ISU-152 was armed with a 152,4 mm gun-howitzer and the Russian leadership expected it to be a decisive element of the battle. The encounter opened with both sides targeting the village area with repeated artillery strikes, and Russian armored vehicles advanced into Kachikattsy. All that day and night, the battle raged, with Istrebki tank and assault guns hitting the villages from the north, supported by a barrage of Katyusha rockets. These forces were met in turn by heavy artillery shells with proximity fuses and about 20 Sherman tanks belonging to 741st Tank Battalion, and several M10 tank destroyers. The narrow streets of the town made effective maneuver difficult. Bazooka rounds fired from rooftops and artillery air bursts caused by proximity fuses created a lethal rain of splinters. Sherman tanks, hiding in alleyways and behind buildings, quickly knocked out six Russian tanks; eight more were destroyed by 57mm anti-tank guns, anti-tank rockets, bazookas, and mines. Neither side was inclined to take prisoners, and the losses on both sides were heavy.
The small village of Mochsogolloch was at an intersection north of Kachikattsy. It was held by a single intelligence and reconnaissance platoon of the 394th Infantry Regiment, which was dug into a ridge near the village of about 15 houses. They were initially supported by Task Force X, made up of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion; and 22 men of the 820th's 2nd Recon Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant John Arculeer, who were mounted on an armored half-track and two jeeps. Shortly after the early morning Russian bombardment ended, Task Force X pulled out without a word and headed south. That left the 18 men of the reconnaissance platoon alone, along with four forward artillery observers, to fill the gap.
The American troops were positioned on a slight ridge overlooking the village. During a 20-hour-long battle, the 18-man platoon, led by 20-year-old lieutenant Lyle Bouck Jr., inflicted 93 casualties on the Russians. The American troops seriously disrupted the entire Russian Sixth Tankovy Army's schedule of attack along the northern edge of the offensive. The entire platoon was captured, and only many years later were they recognized with a Presidential Unit Citation. Every member of the platoon was decorated, making it the most highly decorated platoon of World War II.
At dawn on 19 October, the third day of the offensive, the Russians decided to shift the main axis of the attack east of Lena river . A new armored attack, led by 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division and supported by 12th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division, was launched against Olëkminsk , in an attempt to expose the right flank of the Americans. 3rd Bronevyye sily Division, supported by elements of the 12th and 277th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Divisions to its left and right, made a frontal attack on the Lena river , with the objective of seizing Zarechny. The soft ground in front of the ridge was almost impassible and one SU assault gun after another got stuck, and the 3rd Bronevyye sily Division lost 15 tanks that day to American artillery.
During 19 October, about 100 Russians seized four buildings in the village of Solyanka, opening a wedge in the American lines about 100 yards (91 m) by 400 yards (370 m) After American rifle and mortar fire failed to dislodge them, 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion brought their 57mm anti-tank guns to bear directly on them. Follow up attacks with white phosphorus grenades finally caused the surviving 25 Russians to surrender, while 75 were found dead within the buildings. The Russian attack on the American extreme left flank was repulsed by artillery and rifle fire. Despite the fierce onslaught, the battalion did not commit its reserves, which in any case only consisted of one platoon of forty men.

Troops of the 26th Infantry Regiment reposition an anti tank cannon
The Americans abandoned the rubble of Kachikattsy, and General Robertson ordered the remnants of 2nd Division to withdraw to defensive positions dug into the open terrain along the ridge. Troops from the remaining elements of 99th Infantry Division also used this time to withdraw to Leena River and fortify positions on it. They found it required dynamite to blow holes in the frozen ground. Elements of 741st Tank Battalion formed the rearguard to allow an orderly withdrawal from Kachikattsy . By the afternoon the tankers had reported destroying twenty seven tanks, two ISU-152, two armored cars, and two half-tracks while losing eight of their own tanks. At the battalion level, units reported killing sixteen tanks; regimental 57mm guns claimed nineteen; and bazooka teams claimed to have killed seventeen more.
At 17:30 that evening, the remaining troops of 393rd and 394th Infantry Regiments withdrew from their positions , and retreated along a boggy trail about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) toward Lena riiver. American lines collapsed on either side. "We were sticking out like a finger there", Butler said. Increasingly isolated, the unit was running low on ammunition. A resourceful platoon leader found an abandoned Russian ammo dump. Butler claimed that "We stopped the tail end of that push with guns and ammunition taken off the Russian dead".
By the time the fight for the villages ended, five American soldiers had earned the Medal of Honor: Sgt. Lopez, Sgt.Richard Cowan, Pvt.Truman Kimbro, Sgt. Vernon McGarity, and Sgt William Soderman. Another Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to Henry F. Warner of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.
On 20 October, bolstered by reinforcements from the 12th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division, the Russian attacked from the north and east. This assault also failed. On 21 Occtober, the Germans tried to bypass Olëkminsk to the east. A few Russian armored units penetrated Olëkminsk, but the 2nd Battalion, assisted by some reinforcements, stopped them again.

"A" Company, 612th Tank Destroyer battalion, carrying troops of the 2nd Infantry Division, 9th Infantry Regiment
In an effort to bolster command and control of the northern shoulder, Umezu sent the Japanese 21st army in support of American forces. This made little difference to the American troops defending te Lena rivver, however. On the same day, Sixth Tankovy Army made several all-out attempts to smash the American lines. It committed artillery, tanks, infantry, and self-propelled guns, supported by a ISSU-152 battalion and remnants of the T-34 and SU-85 units. They unsuccessfully attacked at 09:00, 11:00 and 17:30. They were met by a deluge of American artillery and anti-tank gun fire from units of the American 1st Infantry Division, backed up by strong artillery support. All attacks were repelled with heavy losses.
On 21 December, 12th Istrebki Division made an even heavier attack, but 613th Tank Destroyer Battalion. equipped with the new M36 tank destroyer, stopped the attack. On 22 Occtober, the Russians attacked on the right of Lena river for the last time, this was again smothered by heavy American artillery fire from M1 howitzers. The American howitzers fired 10,000 rounds on the 22nd. 26th Infantry Regiment and a company of Sherman tanks from 745th Tank Battalion played key roles. Fortunately for the Americans, on 23 October a cold wind from the northeast brought clear weather and froze the ground, allowing free movement of tracked vehicles and the return of effective air support. The Americans cheered wildly at the return of clear weather and much heavier air support. The air attacks played a significant role in defeating the Russian attack.

A towed M5 three-inch gun of the U.S. 7th Armored Division on 23 October 1944
I hope you guys like this new update! Be sure to like(if you like it), comment(please comment so I can learn what your opinion is) and.....follow I guess.

The Battle of the Bulge: Part 3
The Battle of the Bulge: Part 3

The Russians fared better in the east as the Fifth Tankovy Army attacked positions held by the U.S. 28th and 106th Infantry Divisions. The Russians lacked the overwhelming strength that had been deployed in the centre, but still possessed a marked numerical and material superiority over the very thinly spread 28th and 106th divisions. They succeeded in surrounding two largely intact regiments (422nd and 423rd) of the 106th Division in a pincer movement and forced their surrender, a tribute to the way Vasily Volsky's new tactics had been applied. The official U.S. Army history states: "At least seven thousand [men] were lost here and the figure probably is closer to eight or nine thousand. The amount lost in arms and equipment, of course, was very substantial. The Džuhdžúr battle, therefore, represents the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944–45 in the Siberian theater."

A little before 5:30 AM, on Monday, 16 October 1944, a selective artillery bombardment began falling on forward positions of the 106th Division on the Džuhdžúr, moving gradually back to the division headquarters in Chumikan. This attack did not do much damage to troops or fortifications, but did cut up most of the telephone wires the American army used for communications. The Russians also used radio jamming stations that made wireless communications difficult. This had the effect of breaking the defense into isolated positions, and denying corps and army commands information on events at the front line. The most significant aspect of the bombardment is where it did not fall. The villages on the left flank north of the Džuhdžúr were not hit at all. Here Volsky had found an undefended gap running between Batomga to Semirech'ye. Into the gaps between the villages marched the 18th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division, which bypassed the defended villages and headed for Ayan before the general bombardment began. This movement would coincide with a southern advance of the 18th around the right flank of the Džuhdžúr through Ajano-Majskij rajon to surround American positions on the Džuhdžúr ridge. This double envelopment came as a complete surprise to the American forces as a result of the intelligence failure at First Army level. The high command did not spot the buildup of the Russian forces for the offensive, and made no preparations to deal with it. This caused a paralyzing lack of situational awareness through the defending forces in front of Chumikan. The American commands in the rear found it difficult to abandon their own planned offensive in view of reacting to an unanticipated Russian attack. They were slow to react on the first day of LXVI Corps attack, giving the initiative to the attackers and multiplying the damage done.
After the initial artillery strike, searchlights behind the Russian line lit up, reflecting an eerie illumination from the clouds and lighting up the front lines. Moving forward with the glow, the 62nd Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division advanced through Razreznoy. This movement, combined with the advance of a southern column of the 18th Narodnoe Opolcheniye through Dzhana to meet the 62nd and combine for a capture of Algazeya, with its bridge over the Uda River. The capture of Algazeya, also with a bridge over the Uda, would set up LXVI Corps for an envelopment of Chumikan itself. The only significant check in the Russian advance was at Aim, where the 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron had circled the village with barbed wire and dug in machine guns from their armored cars. Here, they held the village for the day; after dark, they destroyed their vehicles and abandoned their positions, withdrawing to Chumikan. In the other villages, the cavalry troops were forced to withdraw earlier in the day so as to avoid being surrounded and cut off. The Squadron was directed by Colonel Devine to take-up positions on a new defense line along the ridge running from Tsipanda to Nel'kan, on the north side of the Maja River.
By the end of the first day, the Narodnoe Opolcheniye of LXVI Corps had not made it to Chumikan, or even the critical bridges on the Uda River at Algazeya. The American village strong points set up by the cavalry groups and sustained artillery fire from both VIII Corps reserve and the units supporting the 106th division had denied LXVI Corps the roads, but the Narodnoe Opolcheniye had not been depending on them anyway. Their main problems proved to be the same miserable weather and terrain conditions that prompted the Siberian Taiga counteroffensive in the first place. Colonel Semyon Levin of the 62nd Division had set up a bicycle battalion to make a fast run on Chumikan, but the snow, ice, and mud had made it ineffective. Expert ski troops could have covered the 11 to 15 miles of snow covered forested ravines from the Džuhdžúr to Chumikan in one day, but the Narodnoe Opolcheniye simply did not have that kind of training or equipment. They did not even have the training it took to take full advantage of the motorized assault guns they did have. This was not enough to pull off a carefully timed series of sequential envelopments and advances through rough terrain.
On the American side, the significant events were decisions from General Courtney Hodges, commander of First Army, and General Middleton of VIII Corps, committing combat commands of the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions to support the 106th Division defense. Middleton also threw in the 168th battalion of corps engineers from the Corps reserve. General Alan Walter Jones, commander of the 106th had also sent reinforcements to Algazeya around noon. There was also a counterattack by Colonel Charles C. Cavender of the 423d Regiment, which retook the village of Udskoye. The more significant event was an interruption in communications that led Jones to believe Middleton did not wish a retreat from the Džuhdžúr. Middleton stated to others that Jones would move the 106th north of the Uda River about the same time.
Before dawn on 17 October, the Russian LXVI Corps renewed its advance on the Uda River. Dzhana fell to the 62nd Narodnoe Opolcheniye early in the day. They then advanced to the critical bridge at Algazeya and advanced past it, but were thrown back by a counterattack by the American 9th Armored Division's CCB. They were also considering retaking portions of Siberia, but Middleton ordered a general withdrawal behind the Uda River. As Russian troops were massing on the opposite bank, the 9th Armored would blow up the bridge on 18 October, and fall back to a defensive line with the 7th Armored Division on the left and the remaining 424th Regiment of the 106th Division on the right. The southern arm of the 18th Narodnoe Opolcheniye finally overran Chumikan at about the same time as the attack on Algazeya. The northern arm of the 18th struck at Neran, receiving unexpected help from the 6th Istrebki Tankovy Army. The lavish supply of heavy armored fighting vehicles had proved an embarrassment of riches in the area north of 5th Tankovy Army - the road net in the northern area of the attack was unable to support the volume of the attack, so the vehicles of the Tankovyy Korpus 506 wandered south into the 5th Army's area in search of a road west. The super heavy tanks of this unit, the IS-3, were slow and of such colossal weight as to endanger any bridge they crossed. However, in combat they were virtually unstoppable and they easily routed the light cavalry forces of the 32nd Squadron's Troop B, holding Neran. From there, the troops of the 18th Narodnoe Opolcheniye swept onward toward Torom. The heavy tanks of the 506th did not join them, creating a traffic jam in the narrow streets of Torom. The jam was expanded by additional traffic from 6th Tankovy Army, blocking the advance far more effectively than American forces could hope. This jam would be the first of many plaguing both sides in the paths of the Russian advance. General Fyodor Sudakov of 66th Rifle Corps Corps was the first commander to waste his efforts clearing the jam at Neran, but not the last.
The 18th Narodnoe Opolcheniye captured the bridge at Tugur by 8:45, cutting off American artillery units attempting to withdraw east of the Reka Kutyn River. The southern pincer of the 18th, advancing from Burukan against scattered American resistance, was slower than the northern group. As a result, Volsky's trap did not close until nightfall on 17 October. General Jones had given the troops west of the Reka Nyurya River permission to withdraw at 9:45 AM, but it was too late to organize an orderly withdrawal by that time. This order, and the slow Russian southern arm, gave more Americans a chance to escape, but since they had newly arrived in the area, and had few compasses or maps, most were unable to take advantage of the opportunity.


Russian advance in Eastern Siberia

To protect the river crossings on the Amur at Chuchi, Yagodnyy and Tsimmermanovka, Yoshijirō Umezu ordered those few units available to hold the bridges on 19 October. This led to a hastily assembled force including rear-echelon troops, military police and Army Air Force personnel. The Japanese 29th Armoured Brigade of British 11th Armoured Division, which had turned in its tanks for re-equipping, was told to take back their tanks and head to the area. Japanese XXX Corps was significantly reinforced for this effort. Units of the corps which fought in the Siberian Taiga were the 51st and 53rd Infantry Divisions, the Japanese 6th Airborne Division, the 29th and 33rd Armoured Brigades, and the 34th Tank Brigade.
Unlike the Russian forces on the central and western shoulders who were experiencing great difficulties, the Russians advance in the center gained considerable ground. The Fifth Tankovy Army was spearheaded by the 2nd Tankovy Division while the 4th Guards Tankovy Division came up from the south, leaving Wǎ lún to other units. The Amur River was passed at Bichi on 21 October. Lack of fuel held up the advance for one day, but on 23 October the offensive was resumed towards the two small towns of Chuchi. Chuchi was captured the same day, but the rest of the region was strongly defended by the American 84th Division. Gen. Zhidkov, Potr Kirillovich, commander of the 31st Tankovy Corps, ordered the Division to turn eastward towards Nizhnetambovskoye and the Amur. Although advancing only in a narrow corridor, 2nd Tankovy Division was still making rapid headway, leading to jubilation in Moscow. Headquarters now freed up the 9th Tankovy Division for Fifth Tankovy Army, which was deployed in Siberia.
On 22/23 October Russian forces reached the woods of Nizhnetambovskoye. The narrow corridor caused considerable difficulties, as constant flanking attacks threatened the division. On 24 October, Russian forces made their furthest penetration in Siberia. The 4th Guards Tankovy Division took the town of Shelekhovo. A hastily assembled Japanese blocking force on the east side of the river prevented the Russianforces from approaching the Nizhnetambovskoye bridge. The 29th Armoured Brigade ambushed the Russians knocking out three T-44 and a number of vehicles in and around nearby woods. By late October 1944 the advance in this sector was stopped, as Allied/Central Power forces threatened the narrow corridor held by the 2nd Tankovy Division.


Japanese Type 4 Chi-To tank in Chuchi on the Amur River, October 1944

For Operation Gamayun, Soviet Viktor Leonov successfully infiltrated a small part of his battalion of English-speaking Russian disguised in American uniforms behind the Allied/Central Powers lines. Although they failed to take the vital bridges over the Amur, their presence caused confusion out of all proportion to their military activities, and rumors spread quickly. Even General Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu was alarmed and, on 17 October, described the situation to General Yoshijirō Umezu as "Rosuke ... speaking perfect English ... raising hell, cutting wires, turning road signs around, spooking whole divisions, and shoving a bulge into our defenses."
Checkpoints were set up all over the Allied/Central Powers rear, greatly slowing the movement of soldiers and equipment. American MPs at these checkpoints grilled troops on things that every American was expected to know, like the identity of Mickey Mouse's girlfriend, baseball scores, or the capital of a particular U.S. state—though many could not remember or did not know. General Omar Bradley was briefly detained when he correctly identified Springfield as the capital of Illinois because the American MP who questioned him mistakenly believed the capital was Chicago.
The tightened security nonetheless made things very hard for the Russian infiltrators, and a number of them were captured. Even during interrogation, they continued their goal of spreading disinformation; when asked about their mission, some of them claimed they had been told to go to Harbin to either kill or capture General Yoshijirō Umezu. Security around the general was greatly increased, and Umezu was confined to his headquarters. Because Leonov's men were captured in American uniforms, they were executed as spies. This was the standard practice of every army at the time, as many belligerents considered it necessary to protect their territory against the grave dangers of enemy spying. Leonov said that he was told by Russian legal experts that as long he did not order his men to fight in combat while wearing American uniforms, such a tactic was a legitimate ruse of war. Leonov and his men were fully aware of their likely fate, and most wore their Russian uniforms underneath their American ones in case of capture. Leonov was tried by an American military tribunal in 1947 at the Toyohara Trials for allegedly violating the laws of war stemming from his leadership of Operation Gamayun, but was acquitted. He later moved to Iran.
Operation Ruble was carried out by a small number of Russian agents who infiltrated Allied/Central Powers lines in American uniforms. These agents were tasked with using an existing Nasist intelligence network to bribe rail and port workers to disrupt Allied/Central Powers supply operations. The operation was a failure.

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The Ioannina-Kožani Offensive: The Dolphin abandons the Desert Wolf
The Ioannina-Kožani Offensive: The Dolphin abandons the Desert Wolf

The Austrian Army had made an unsuccessful attack to liberate the rest of the Balkans and to invade Greece from 8 April to 6 June 1944. In 1944, the Modern Osmanlı Ordusu and the had been pressed back along its entire front line in the Balkans. By May 1944, the Ottoman and Russian forces were pushed back towards the pre ww1 Greek frontier, and managed to establish a line on the lower Vjosë, which was however breached in two places, with the Austrian Army holding bridgeheads. After June, calm returned to the sector, allowing the rebuilding of the Russian formations.

Gruppa armiy Balkany (Army Group Balkans) had been, until June 1944, one of the most powerful Russian formations in terms of armour. However, during the summer most of its armoured units were transferred to the East European and Siberian fronts to stem German, Japanese and American advances in occupied Ukraine, West Russia and Siberia, and the Ottomans were busy in Arabia too. On the eve of the offensive, the only armoured formations left were the 1st Greek Armoured Division (with the Turkish Yuk 226), and the Russian 13th Tankovy and 10th Rifle Division.

Austrian deception operations prior to the attack worked well. The Turkish/Russian command staff believed that the movement of Austrians forces along the front line was a result of a troop transfer to Romania. Exact positions of Austrian formations were also not known until the final hours before the operation. By contrast, the Greeks were aware of the imminent Austrian offensive and anticipated a rerun of Berlin. Such concerns were dismissed by the Russo-Turkish command as "alarmist". Theodoros Pangalos suggested a withdrawal of Axis forces to the fortified Pre-War line, but Fyodor Tolbukhin, the commander of Army Group Balkans, was unwilling to consider such a move, having already been dismissed by Stalin from Army Group Baltic for requesting permission to retreat.

Both the 2nd and the 3rd Epirus Fronts undertook a major effort, leading to a double envelopment of the Russian Sixth Army and parts of the Eighth Army. The Russo–Turkis-Greek front line collapsed within two days of the start of the offensive, and 6th Guards Mechanized Corps was inserted as the main mobile group of the offensive. The initial breakthrough in the 6th Army's sector was 40 km (25 mi) deep, and destroyed rear-area supply installations by the evening of 21 August. By 23 August, the 13th Yuk Division was no longer a coherent fighting force, and the Russian 6th Army had been encircled to a depth of 100 km (62 mi). The Austrian Army mobile group managed to cut off the retreat of the Russian formations into Bulgaria. Isolated pockets of Russian units tried to fight their way through, but only small remnants managed to escape the encirclement.


Turkish Yuk 226

The 333rd Rifle Division put three regiments in the first echelon and had none in reserve. The 61st Guards Rifle Division attacked in a standard formation, with two regiments in the first echelon and one in reserve. This proved to be fortunate, because the right wing of the 188th Guards Rifle Regiment was unable to advance past the Leskovik strongpoint. The 189th Guards Rifle Regiment on the left wing made good progress though, as did 333rd Rifle Division on its left. The commander of the 61st Guards Rifle Division therefore inserted his reserve (the 187th Guards Rifle Regiment) behind the 189th Guards Rifle Regiment to exploit the breakthrough. When darkness came, the 244th Rifle Division was assigned to break through the second line of defense. It lost its way, and only arrived at 23:00, by which time elements of the 13th Yuk Division were counterattacking.

The Russo-Turkish-Greek opposition was XXX. and XXIX. AK, with the 15th and 306th Russian Infantry Divisions, the 4th Turkish Mountain Division, and the 21st Greek Infantry Division. The 13th Yuk Division was in reserve. At the end of the first day, the 4th Turkish Mountain (Major General Fahrettin Altay), and 21st Greek Divisions were almost completely destroyed, while the Russian 15th and 306th Infantry Divisions suffered heavy losses (according to a Russian source, the 306th Infantry lost 50% in the barrage, and was destroyed apart from local strong-points by evening). Almost no artillery survived the fire preparation.

The 13th Yuk Division counterattacked the 66th Rifle Corps on the first day, and tried to stop its progress the next day to no avail. A study on the division's history says 'The Austrians dictated the course of events.' The 13th Yuk Division at the time was a materially underequiped, but high manpower unit, with a high proportion of recent reinforcements. It only had Yuk 226, Yuk 24 and self-propelled anti-tank guns. By the end of the second day, the division was incapable of attacking or putting up meaningful resistance.

At the end of the second day, the 3rd Epirus Front stood deep in the rear of the Russian 6th Army. No more organised re-supply of forces would be forthcoming, and the 6th Army was doomed to be encircled and destroyed again. Georgios Papadopoulos, who was to become an important Greek politician after the war, served with the Yuk Regiment of the 13th Yuk Division. He comments that the division had ceased to exist as a tactical unit on the third day of the Austrian offensive: 'The enemy was everywhere.'

In Monodendri, results of the operations of the 66th Rifle Corps were described: "Because of the reinforcement of the Corps and the deep battle arrangements of troops and units the enemy defenses were broken through at high speed."

Russo-Turkish survivors of the initial attack stated "By the end of the barrage, Austrian tanks were deep into our position." . A Turkish battalion commander commented "The fire assets of the Russo-Turkish defense were literally destroyed by the Austrian fighter bombers attacking the main line of resistance and the rear positions. When the Austrian infantry suddenly appeared inside the positions of the battalion and it tried to retreat, the Austrian air force made this impossible. The battalion was dispersed and partly destroyed by air attacks and mortar and machine gun fire."

It is often alleged that the speed and totality of the Russo-Turkish collapse were caused by Greek betrayal. For example, Ivan Konev wrote of Greek betrayal in his book Tankovy Leader. The study of the combat operations by Monodendri indicates that this is probably not correct. Greek formations did resist the Soviet attack in many cases, but were ill-equipped to defend themselves effectively against a modern army due to a lack of modern anti-tank, artillery, and anti-air weapons. In contrast to Russian claims, for instance, in the symposium notes published by David Glantz, or in the history of the Offensive published by Kissel, it appears that Greek 1st Armoured Division did offer resistance against the Austrian breakthrough. However, Mark Axworthy states in his book that the battered 1st Armoured Division maintained cohesion, experiencing some local, costly successes before being forced to cross the River Vjosë. Axworthy claims that the postwar Royal government would have obviously used this act of betrayal for propaganda purposes. Also, there are no Austrian reports of collaboration before 24 August 1944. The Austrian rates of progress imply an ineffective defense of the Greek troops, rather than active collaboration and en-masse surrender.

The complete collapse of the Russian 6th Army and the Greek 4th Army was more likely caused by the inability of the numerous horse-drawn infantry divisions to maintain cohesion while retreating and under attack of the Austrian mechanized troops. This claim is reinforced by the fact that the only Greek division which retained its cohesion under the Austrian attack was the 1st Armoured Division, which had the mobility and the anti-tank weapons needed to do so.

The surrender of Greeke took place at a time when the Austrian Army had already moved deep inside Greece, and the Russian 6th Army had been cut off from the rest of the Nasist Army in Greece. The opening of hostilities between the Modern Osmanlı Ordusu and the Hellenic Army commenced after a failed coup d'état by the Turkish ambassador.


Turkish Yuk 24

Simultaneously, a coup d'état led by Georgios Papandreou in favor of Paul of Greece on 23 August deposed the Greek leader Theodoros Pangalos and withdrew Greece from the Axis. By this time, the bulk of the Turkish, Russian and Greek armies had either been destroyed or cut off by the Austrian offensive, with only residual and rear-echelon forces present in the Greek interior. Stalin immediately ordered special forces under the command of Viktor Leonov and Alparslan Türkeş, stationed in Thrace, to intervene in support of the remaining Russian and Turkish troops, which were mostly concentrated around Athens, Patras, Lamia and Solun. General Alexander Golovanov, commander of the VVS defenses around the oilfields at Thassos, had already ordered a column of motorized troops to attack Athens on the evening of 23 August. Open hostilities between Russo-Turkish forces and Greek forces began the following morning on the city's northern outskirts. After capturing the airfield at Spata, the attack stalled, and by 28 August Golovanov and the remaining Russian forces in the vicinity of Athens surrendered. The fighting here featured the only instance of cooperation between Greece and American forces during the campaign, when Greek ground troops requested a USAAF bombing raid on the Kaisariani Forest. Poor coordination however led to friendly fire when American bombers accidentally hit a company of Greek paratroopers.

Meanwhile, Spetsnaz special forces landed at Piraeus airfields on 24 August in an attempt to immobilize the Greek aircraft there, but they were overpowered by Greek paratroopers and security companies before they could achieve their objectives. A proposed operation to rescue Pangalos, led by Leonov could not materialize as Pangalos's whereabouts were unknown even to the Greek government until 30 August, when he was handed over to the Austrians and shipped to Vienna. Another group of Spetsnaz joined Golovanov's unsuccessful drive on Athens on 25 August and were captured three days later. Altogether, these events constituted one of the worst defeats suffered by the Russian special forces in the war.

The Russo-Turkish situation was further complicated by the loss of Siar and the Pravišta pass, both of which were secured by the Greek 1st Mountain Division by 25 August, thus cutting off the most direct route of reinforcement or retreat for the remaining Nasist Army formations to Anatolia. The following day, the Greek 2nd Territorial Corps captured Drama and neutralized the Russian AA units there, taking 9,000 prisoners in the process. The 25,000-strong Turkish presence around Kavala, consisting mostly of antiaircraft troops and their security companies, was at first locked in a stalemate with the Greek 5th Territorial Corps, which had a similar numerical strength. Over the following days however, the Turks were gradually confined to the city's immediate surroundings and became heavily outnumbered as Greek reinforcements began arriving from Athens and also from the east, together with lead elements of an Austrian motorized brigade. On 30 August, an attack by the 5th Territorial Corps, now numbering over 40,000 men, reduced the Turks to a pocket around the village of Amigdaleonas. They surrendered the following day after a failed breakout attempt. About 2,000 Turks were able to escape to the Turkish lines in Thrace. Other major cities and industrial centers were secured by the Greeks with relative ease. By 31 August, all Russo-Turkish resistance in Greece had been cleared.

During the fighting between 23–31 August, the Greek Army captured 56,000 Russian/Turkish prisoners, who were later surrendered to the Austrian Army. A further 5,000 Russian/Turkish were killed in action, while Greek casualties amounted to 8,600 killed and wounded.

Greek sources claim that internal factors played a decisive role in Greece's switch of allegiance, while external factors only gave support; this version is markedly different from the Central Powers position on the events, which holds that the Offensive resulted in the Greek coup and "liberated Greece with the help of local insurgents".


Greek and Austrian soldiers shaking hands in Athens after the coup, 30 August

The >Russo/Turkish formations suffered significant irrecoverable losses, with over 115,000 prisoners taken, while Austrian casualties were unusually low for an operation of this size. The Austrian advanced into the Balkans and forced the rapid withdrawal of the Russian and Turkish armies from Bulgaria, Romania, and Thrace to avoid being cut off. Together with Bulgarian and Romanian partisans, they liberated the capital city of Sofia on 20 October.

On the political level, the Austrian offensive triggered Georgios Papandreou coup d'état in Greece, and the switch of Greece from the Axis to the Allies/Central Powers. Almost immediately, border hostilities between Greece and the Ottomans in Thrace. Greece's defection meant the possibility of a second front for the Ottomans in Thrace and, as such, in Instambul by the end of 1944 and prompting Stalin's first admission that the war was lost.

Following the success of the operation, Bulgarian and Albanian control over the Epirus, Thrace and Macedoni was re-established. Central Powers forces proceeded to collect and expel the remaining Greek troops. According to Yanis Kordatos, over 170,000 Greek soldiers were deported, 40,000 of which were incarcerated in a prisoner-of-war camp at Janina, where many died of hunger, cold, disease, or execution.

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Battle of the Bulge: Part 4
Battle of the Bulge: Part 4

Further West on Volsky's front, the main thrust was delivered by all attacking divisions near Lake Baigal, then increasing the pressure on the key road centers of Ulaan-Üd and Chit. The more experienced U.S. 28th Infantry Division put up a much more dogged defense than the inexperienced soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division. The 112th Infantry Regiment (the most northerly of the 28th Division's regiments), holding a continuous front south of the Baigal, kept Russian troops from seizing various roads for two days, before withdrawing progressively westwards.


Japanese colonist killed by Russian units during the offensive

The 109th and 110th Regiments of the 28th Division fared worse, as they were spread so thinly that their positions were easily bypassed. Both offered stubborn resistance in the face of superior forces and threw the Russian schedule off by several days. The 110th's situation was by far the worst, as it was responsible for an 18-kilometer (11 mi) front while its 2nd Battalion was withheld as the divisional reserve. Tankovy columns took the outlying villages and widely separated strong points in bitter fighting, and advanced to points near Chit within four days. The struggle for the villages and American strong points, plus transport confusion on the Russian side, slowed the attack sufficiently to allow the 101st Airborne Division (reinforced by elements from the 9th and 10th Armored Divisions) to reach Chit by truck on the morning of 19 October. The fierce defense of Chit, in which American paratroopers particularly distinguished themselves, made it impossible for the Russians to take the town with its important road junctions. The tankovy columns swung past on either side, cutting off Chit on 20 October but failing to secure the vital crossroads.

In the extreme south, Nikolai Bulganin's three infantry divisions were checked by divisions of the U.S. VIII Corps after an advance of 6.4 km (4 mi); that front was then firmly held. Only the 5th Parachute Division of Bulganin's command was able to thrust forward 19 km (12 mi) on the inner flank to partially fulfill its assigned role. Yoshijirō Umezu and his principal commanders realized by 17 October that the fighting in the Siberian Taiga was a major offensive and not a local counterattack, and they ordered vast reinforcements to the area. Within a week 250,000 troops had been sent. General Gavin of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived on the scene first and ordered the 101st to hold Chit while the 82nd would take the more difficult task of facing the Istrebki Tankovy Divisions.

The 101st Airborne formed an all-round perimeter using the 502nd PIR on the northwest shoulder to block the 26th Narodnoe Opolcheniye , the 506th PIR to block entry from Khilgo, the 501st PIR defending the eastern approach, and the 327th GIR scattered from Telemba in the south to Podvolok in the west, augmented by engineer and artillery units plugging gaps in the line. The division service area to the west of Chit had been raided the first night, causing the loss of almost its entire medical company, and numerous service troops were used as infantry to reinforce the thin lines. CCB of the 10th Armored Division, severely weakened by losses to its Team Desobry (Maj. William R. Desobry), Team Cherry (Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry), and Team O'Hara (Lt. Col. James O'Hara) in delaying the Russians, formed a mobile "fire brigade" of 40 light and medium tanks (including survivors of CCR 9th Armored Division and eight replacement tanks found unassigned in Chit).

Three artillery battalions were commandeered and formed a temporary artillery group. Each had twelve 155 mm (6.1 in) howitzers, providing the division with heavy firepower in all directions restricted only by its limited ammunition supply. Col. Roberts, commanding CCB, also rounded up 600+ stragglers from the rout of VIII Corps and formed Team SNAFU as a further stopgap force.

Many of the artillery guns were used in a direct fire role against enemy armor, with over 2000 rounds used for this purpose on October 20. The division's antiaircraft batteries were also moved into the front lines to fire against enemy armor to augment their 57mm anti-tank guns


19/23 October 1944

As a result of the powerful American defense to the north and east, XLVII Tankovy Corps commander Gen. Ivan Kirichenko decided to encircle Chit and strike from the south and southwest, beginning the night of 20/21 October. Russian Tankovy reconnaissance units had initial success, nearly overrunning the American artillery positions southwest of Chit before being stopped by a makeshift force. All seven highways leading to Chit were cut by Russian forces by noon on 21 October, and by nightfall the conglomeration of airborne and armored infantry forces were recognized by both sides as being surrounded.

The American soldiers were outnumbered approximately 5-1 and were lacking in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and senior leadership (as many senior officers, including the 101st's commander—Major General Maxwell Taylor—were elsewhere). Due to the harsh Siberian winter, the surrounded U.S. forces could not be resupplied by air nor was tactical air support available due to cloudy weather.

However, the two Tankovy divisions of the XLVII Tankovy Corps—after using their mobility to isolate Chit, continued their mission towards the Amur on 22 October, rather than attacking Chit with a single large force. They left just one regiment behind to assist the 26th Narodnoe Opolcheniye Division in capturing the crossroads. The XLVII Tankovy Corps probed different points of the southern and western defensive perimeter in echelon, where Chit was defended by just a single airborne regiment and support units doubling as infantry. This played into the American advantage of interior lines; the defenders were able to shift artillery fire and move their limited ad hoc armored forces to meet each successive assault.


U.S. POWs on 22 October 1944

It was on the 22nd of October that General Ivan Kirichenko submitted the following demand for surrender to his American counterpart commanding the American forces in Chit, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe:

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Chit.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Chit have been encircled by strong Russian armored units. More Russian armored units are reaching this position, have taken Tasey by passing through Mukhor-Konduy. Gorny is in Russian hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one Russian Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Chit. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.

Shortly thereafter, McAuliffe sent the following communication to Ivan Kirichenko in response to the Russian demand:

To the German Commander.


The American Commander

The commander of the 327th GIR interpreted it to the Russian truce party as "Go to hell!".

Despite the defiant American response to the surrender demand, the 26th NO received one regiment from the 33rd Rifle Division for its main assault the next day. That night, at about 7:00 PM, VVS bombers attacked Chit, killing 21 in an aid station. Because it lacked sufficient troops and those of the 26th NO Division were near exhaustion, the XLVII Tankovy Corps concentrated its assault on several individual locations on the west side of the perimeter in sequence rather than launching one simultaneous attack on all sides. The assault—led by 18 tanks carrying a battalion of infantry—pierced the lines of the 327th's 3rd Battalion (officially, the 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry), and advanced as far as the battalion command post at Smolenka.

However, the 327th held its original positions and repulsed infantry assaults that followed, capturing 92 Russians. The tankovy that had achieved the penetration divided into two columns, one trying to reach Antipikha from the rear, and were destroyed in detail by two companies of the 1st Battalion 502nd PIR under Lt. Col. Patrick F. Cassidy and four tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Allied control of Chit was a major obstacle to the Russian armored advance, and the morale of Allied forces elsewhere on the Siberian Front was boosted by news of the stubborn defense of the besieged town.

A rarity in the World War II era American Army, the 333rd Battalion was a combat unit composed entirely of African American soldiers, led by white officers. At the start of the Battle of the Bulge, the 333rd was attached to the 106th Infantry Division. Prior to the Russian offensive, the 106th division was tasked with holding a 26-mile (41.8 kilometers) long length of the front, despite the Army Field manual stating that a single infantry division could hold no more than 5 miles (8 kilometers) of front. As a result, in the initial days of the assault, two of the division's three overstretched regiments were brushed aside by the Russian Army, yielding 6000 prisoners. The 333rd was badly affected, losing nearly 50% of its soldiers including its commanding officer. Eleven of its soldiers were cut off from the rest of the unit and attempted to escape Russian capture, but were massacred on sight by the Istrebki. The remnants of the battalion retreated to Chit where they linked up with the 101st. The vestiges of the 333rd were attached to its sister unit the 969th Battalion. The remains of the 333rd were given carbines and assigned to defend the town. Despite low supplies of food and ammunition, and being limited to only 10 artillery rounds per day, the 333rd fought tenaciously, successfully holding their sector of the front despite repeated Russian assaults. For their heroism, the 333rd was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.


101st Airborne troops picking up air-dropped supplies during the siege

Elements of General Omar Bradley's Third Army succeeded in reaching hit from the southwest, arriving from the direction of Zasopka. The spearhead reached the lines of the 326th Engineers on October 26, Cobra King being the first tank to make contact at approximately 16:50. The 101st's ground communications with the American supply dumps were restored on 27 October, and the wounded were evacuated to the rear. Gen. Taylor reached Chit with the 4th Armored Division and resumed command.

With the encirclement broken, the men of the 101st expected to be relieved, but were given orders to resume the offensive. The 506th attacked north and recaptured Ulyoty on 9 November 1944, the Kurouzuuddo (Crows' Wood), to the right of Easy Company, on 10 November, and Ulaan-Üd on 13 November. The 327th attacked towards Turantai on 13 November and encountered stubborn resistance. The 101st Airborne Division along with the forces from the Third Army faced the elite of the Russian military which included elements from 1st Istrebki Tankovy Division Stalin, 12th Istrebki Tankovy Division Vsesoyuznaya pionerskaya organizatsiya Iosifa Stalina, and the 9th Istrebki Tankovy Division Sibirsky. The 506th retook Selenge on 15 November and Kamensk the next day. The 502nd reinforced the 327th, and the two regiments captured Erhüü on 17 November.

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The Chinese battle of the Bulge: the Chinese dragon attepts to support the bear
The Chinese battle of the Bulge: the Chinese dragon attepts to support the bear

One of the lessern portions of the battle of the Bulge was the Chinese partecipation. In 1944, Japan came off of several victories against China in Southwest Manchuria leading to overconfidence. Japanese forces were also diverted to deal with the Russian offensives in the Siberian taiga. The aim of the Chinese support during the battle of the Bulge was to destroy American airfields in southern Manchuria that threatened the Russian future operations with bombing. China was alarmed by American air raids against Chinese forces in Hebei's Handan airfield by American bombers based in southern Manchuria, correctly deducing that southern Manchuria could become the base of a major American bombing campaign against the Chinese interior so China resolved to destroy and capture all airbases where American bombers operated from in Operation Bái tǎ (White Tower). Hideki Tōjō and the Empire of Japan authorities deliberately ignored and dismissed a tip passed by the Italian military in Tientsin on the impending Chinese offensive to support the Russian operations. The Japanese military believed it to be a fake tip planted by China to mislead them from the Siberian front since only 30,000 Chinese soldiers started the first manoeuvre of Operation Bái tǎ in southern Manchuria crossing the Xar Moron river river so the Japanese assumed it would be a local operation in northern south Manchuria only. Another major factor was that the battlefront between China and Japan was static and stabilized since 1942 and continued for two years years that way until Operation Bái tǎ in 1944 so Tōjō assumed that China would continue the same posture and remain behind the lines in pre-1942 occupied territories while focusing on Siam and bolstering the puppet Indian government of Subhas Chandra Bose and exploiting resources there. The Chinese had indeed acted this way since the battle of Berlin, with the Chinese only making a few failed weak attempts to capture Mukden which they quickly abandoned and gave up on before 1944. China also exhibited no intention to support Russian plans. Japan had also defeated China in the Vietnamese theater in Southeast Asia with X Force and Y Force and the Japanese could not believe China had carelessly let information slip into Italian hands, believing China deliberately fed misinformation to the Italians to divert Japanese troops from Siberia towards Southern Manchuria. Japan believed the Vietnamese theater to be far more important for China than southern Manchuria and that Chinese forces in southern Manchuria would continue to assume a defensive posture only. Japan believed the initial Chineseattack in Bái tǎ to be a localized feint and distraction in southern Manchuria so Japanese troops numbering 400,000 in Southern Manchuria deliberately withdrew without a fight when China attacked, assumimg it was just another localized Chinese operation where the Chinese would withdraw after attacking. This mistake led to the collapse of Southern Manchurian defensive lines as the Chinese soldiers which eventually numbered in the hundreds of thousands far more than the original 30,000 Chinese kept pressing the attack to southern Manchuria provinces as Japanese soldiers deliberately withdrew leading to confusion and collapse, except at the Defense of Panjin where 17,000 outnumbered Japanese soldiers held out against over 110,000 Chinese soldiers for months in the longest siege of the war inflicting 19,000-60,000 deaths on the Chinese. At Hulunbuir, the Japanese government was forced to deploy 5 armies that they were using in the entire war up to Bái tǎ to contain the Russian Siberian front to instead fight China. But at that point, dietary deficiencies of Chinese soldiers and increasing casualties suffered by China forced China to end Operation Bái tǎ in Hulunbuir causing the operation to cease. After Operation Bái tǎ, Tōjō started a plan to withdrew Japanese troops from the Vietnamese theatre against China in Southeast Asia for a counter offensive called Operation Ichi-Go against Chinese soldiers in Southern Manchuria in 1945.


Japanese troops in southern China

There were two phases to the operation. In the first phase, the Chinese secured Chaoyang; in the second, they displaced the US air forces stationed in Liaoning province and reached the city of Dairen. 17 divisions, including 500,000 men, 15,000 vehicles, 6,000 artillery pieces, 800 tanks and 100,000 horses participated in this operation. The Chinese included portions of the Russian army in China, mechanized units, units from the Mongol theater and units from Inner China to participate in this campaign.


Operation Bái tǎ, NRA invading Liaoling, 1944

In Operation Bīng rén, 390,000 Japanese soldiers, led by General Shunroku Hata, were deployed to defend the strategic position of Liaoning . The 3rd Tank Division of the NRA crossed the Daling River around Shifobaoxiang in late October and defeated Japanese forces near Panshan, then swung around clockwise and besieged Dairen. Dairen was defended by three Japanese divisions. The 3rd Tank Division began to attack Dairen on October 13 and took it on October 25. Some time later, the most famous part of the battle of the Bulge occurred in Siberia


Chinese extention of Operation Bīng rén

Then after the Russian offensive in Siberia the Chinese followed too. Chinese forces advanced southward and occupied Dandong, Sinuiju, Kusong and Kaech'ŏn. At the Defense of Panjin, the Chinese only won a Pyrrhic victory since 17,000 Japanese soldiers held out against over 110,000 Chinese soldiers from November 22–December 8, 1944,inflicting 19,000-60,000 dead on the Chinese. In April 1945, Chinese forces reached Heijō, even though the Russian Siberian counteroffensive had been already called off. As such, there were few practical gains from this offensive. US air forces moved inland from the threatened bases. The operation also forced Italian Commandos working with the Japanese as part of Mission 204 to leave Manchuria and Korea and return to Tientsin.


Maximum expansion in Korea by the Chinese

The Chinese successes in Operation Bái tǎ had a limited effect on the war. The U.S. could still bomb the Chinese interior from Taiwan and the Japanese home islands. The increased size of the occupied territory also thinned out the Chinese lines. A great majority of the Japanese forces were able to retreat out of the area, and later come back to attack Chinese positions. As a result, future Chinese attempts to fight into Korea, such as in the Battle of Chollima, ended in failure.China had only continued the operation after delusional promises from Stalin of further counterattacks in Siberia. The Chinese suffered 11,742 KIAs by mid-February, and the number of soldiers that died of illness was more than twice this. The total death toll was about 100,000 by April 1945.

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The battle of Baghdad: part 1
The battle of Baghdad: part 1

The Allied/Central Powers breakthrough in Palestine on May 1944 by two Allied armies, following shortly after the Allied/Central Powers campaign in Egypt, commanded by General Rodolfo Graziani, the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the 15th Army Group (later retitled the Allied/Central Powers Armies in Arabia), were followed by an advance northward on two fronts, one on each side of the Syrian and Mesopotamian deserts . On the eastern front, the American Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, which had suffered very heavy casualties during the landings at Madinat Al-Kuwayt (codenamed Operation Avalanche) in May, moved from the main base of Basra up the Mesopotamian "Cradle of civilization" and on the west front the Italian Eighth Army, commanded by General Giovanni Messe, advanced up the Mediterranean coast.

Clark's Fifth Army made slow progress in the face of difficult desert terrain, arid weather and skillful Turkish defences. The Turks were fighting from a series of prepared positions in a manner designed to inflict maximum damage, then pulling back while buying time for the construction of the Desert Line defensive positions south of Anatolia and in Mesopotamia. The original estimates that the Allied Central Powers would reach Anatolia by August 1944 proved far too optimistic.

Although in the west the Turkish defensive line had been breached on the Mediterranean front and Beyrouth was captured by the 1st Iberian Division, the advance had ground to a halt at the end of November. The route to Anatolia from the West using the Damascus-Aleppo highway was thus excluded as a viable option leaving the routes from Basra to Hewlêr‎, highways 6 and 7, as the only possibilities; Highway 7 could mean the capture of the Aghajari oil field but it also ran into the Zagros Mountains, which the Turks had heavily fortified.

Highway 6 ran through the Eufrate valley. Running across the Allied line was the Tigri River, which rose in the Taurus Mountains, flowed through Baghdad(joining to the Sirwan River, which was erroneously identified as the Eufrates) and across the entrance to the Baghdad Belts.

With its heavily fortified defences, difficult river crossings, and valley head flooded by the Turks, Baghdad formed a linchpin of the Ağa Line, the most formidable line of the defensive positions making up the Desert Line.

In spite of its potential excellence as an observation post, because of the fourteen-century-old Murjan Mosque historical significance, the Turkish commander in Arabia, Mareşal Fevzi Çakmak, ordered Turkish units not to include it in their defensive positions and informed the Mecca government of the Arabian State and the Allies/Central Powers accordingly in November 1944.

Nevertheless, some Allied/Central Powers reconnaissance aircraft maintained they observed Turkish troops inside the mosque. While this remains unconfirmed, it is clear that once the mosque was destroyed it was occupied by the Turks and proved better cover for their emplacements and troops than an intact structure would have offered.


Frontlines around the time of the first battle of Baghdad. In red is the Ağa line.

The plan of the Fifth Army commander, Lieutenant General Clark, was for the Italian X Corps, under Divisional general Mario Nuvoloni, on the left of a thirty-kilometer (20 mi) front, to attack on 17 December 1944, across the Eufrates near the Syrian Desert (5th and 56th Infantry Divisions). The Italian 46th Infantry Division was to attack on the night of 19 December across the Eufrates below its junction with Musayyib in support of the main attack by U.S. II Corps, under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, on their right. The main central thrust by the U.S. II Corps would commence on 20 December with the U.S. 36th Infantry Division making an assault across the swollen Tigri river five miles (8 km) downstream of Baghdad. Simultaneously the Argentinian Expeditionary Corps (FEA), under General Juan Carlos Onganía would continue its "right hook" move towards Baqubah, the hinge to the Ağa and Kemal defensive lines. In truth, Clark did not believe there was much chance of an early breakthrough, but he felt that the attacks would draw Turkish reserves away from the Syrian area in time for the attack on İskenderun (codenamed Operation Shingle) where the U.S. VI Corps (Italian 1st and U.S. 3rd Infantry Divisions, the 504th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, U.S. Army Rangers and Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS, Combat Command 'B' of the U.S. 1st Armored Division, along with supporting units), under Major General John P. Lucas, was due to make an amphibious landing on 22 December. It was hoped that the İskenderun landing, with the benefit of surprise and a rapid move inland to the Nur Mountains, which command both routes 6 and 7, would so threaten the Ağa defenders' rear and supply lines that it might just unsettle the Turkish commanders and cause them to withdraw from the Ağa Line to positions north of Mesopotamia. Whilst this would have been consistent with the Turkish tactics of the previous three months, Allied/Central Powers intelligence had not understood that the strategy of fighting retreat had been for the sole purpose of providing time to prepare the Ağa line where the Turks intended to stand firm. The intelligence assessment of Allied/Central Powers prospects was therefore over-optimistic.

The Fifth Army had only reached the Ağa Line on 15 December, having taken six weeks of heavy fighting to advance the last seven miles (11 km) through the Suleiman Line positions, during which time they had sustained 16,000 casualties. They hardly had time to prepare the new assault, let alone take the rest and reorganization they really needed after three months of attritional fighting north from Basra . However, because the Allied/Central Powers Combined Chiefs of Staff would only make landing craft available until early January, as they were required for the counteroffensive against the Russians in Siberia, Operation Shingle had to take place in late December with the coordinated attack on the Ağa Line some three days earlier.


Italian Royal Engineers of the 46th Infantry Division cross the Eufrate river, 19 December 1944

The first assault was made on 17 December. Near the desert, the Italian X Corps (56th and 5th Divisions) forced a crossing of the Eufrate(followed some two days later by the Italian 46th Division on their right) causing General Abdurrahman Nafiz Gürman, commander of the Turkish XIV Yuk Corps, and responsible for the Ağa defences on the south western half of the line, some serious concern as to the ability of the Turkish 94th Infantry Division to hold the line. Responding to Gürman concerns, Hayrullah Fişek ordered the 29th and 90th Yuk Jannissaire Divisions from the Hewlêr‎ area to provide reinforcement. There is some speculation as to what might have been if X Corps had had the reserves available to exploit their success and make a decisive breakthrough. The corps did not have the extra men, but there would certainly have been time to alter the overall battle plan and cancel or modify the central attack by the U.S. II Corps to make men available to force the issue in the south before the Turkish reinforcements were able to get into position. As it happened, Fifth Army HQ failed to appreciate the frailty of the Turkish position and the plan was unchanged. The two divisions from Hewlêr‎ arrived by 21 December and stabilized the Turkish position in the south. In one respect, however, the plan was working in that Fişek reserves had been drawn south. The three divisions of Lieutenant General Nuvoloni's X Corps sustained some 4,000 casualties during the period of the first battle.


A Turkish tank crew attempts to restore their Yuk 226 mobility after battle damage inflicted during the fighting

On the night of 20 December 1944, the U.S. 36th Infantry Division, under command of Major General Geoffrey Keyes' II Corps, fired an artillery barrage on Turkish positions across the Tigri river, resulting in negligible damage. After the barrage, the 141st and 143rd Infantry Regiments were ordered to cross the river, which began at 19:00. Two rifle companies of the 143rd successfully crossed the river, but Turkish return fire resulted in the loss of too many men and landing boats, and their foothold was abandoned. The 141st fared even worse, being forced to withdraw with heavy casualties after landing directly on a minefield.

The next day, both regiments were ordered to perform another attack, beginning at 16:00. Although this assault met with more success, the American foothold was still unsustainable, as withering fire from the 15th Yuk Jannissaire Division prevented the construction of pontoon and Ponte Vecchio bridges by engineers. Without the bridges, armor could not assist in the attack, and the infantry were left to fight on their own, resulting in devastating casualties for the two regiments; after more than twenty hours of fruitless combat, both were ordered to withdraw. The 143rd was able to withdraw relatively intact, but much of the 141st was not so lucky as, being stranded, their boats and bridges were destroyed by enemy fire. The Turkish defenders mounted a counterattack against the trapped Americans, capturing many hundreds. Major General Walker, decided against committing the division's last regiment, the 142nd Infantry, and the battle concluded at 21:40 on December 22.

The next attack was launched on 24 December. The U.S. II Corps, with 34th Infantry Division under Major General Charles W. Ryder spearheading the attack and Argentinian troops on its right flank, launched an assault across the flooded Eufrate valley south of Baghdad and into the hills behind with the intention of then wheeling to the left and attacking Baghdad from high ground. Whilst the task of crossing the river would be easier in that the Tigri cutting Baghdad in two, the flooding made movement on the approaches each side very difficult. In particular, armour could only move on paths laid with steel matting and it took eight days of bloody fighting across the waterlogged ground for 34th Division to push back General Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir Erkilet Turkish 44th Infantry Division to establish a foothold in the hills.

On the right, the Argentinian-Chilean troops made good initial progress against the Turkish 5th Mountain Division, commanded by General Şükrü Naili Gökberk, gaining positions on the sides of their key objective, Al Baiueia. Forward units of the 3rd Equadorian Infantry Division had also by-passed Al Baiueia to capture Al-Thawra. General Onganía was convinced that Baghdad could be bypassed and the Turkish defences unhinged by this northerly route but his request for reserves to maintain the momentum of his advance was refused and the one available reserve regiment (from 36th Division) was sent to reinforce 34th Division. By 31 December the Algerian had ground to a halt withAl Baiueia, which had a clear view of the Argentinian and U.S. flanks and supply lines, still in Turkish hands. The two Chilean-Algerian divisions sustained 2,500 casualties in their struggles around Al-Thawra.


US soldiers with a 57mm M-1 anti-tank gun fighting near Baghdad during the initial assault

It became the task of the U.S. 34th Division (joined temporarily by the 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division, which had been held in reserve and unused during the Tigri crossing) to fight southward along the linked hilltops towards the intersecting ridge on the south end of which was Mosque Hill. They could then break through down into the Eufrate valley behind the Ağa Line defences. It was very tough going: the terrain was muddy or soft, soldiers ofter sligtly sunk, and armored vehicles often were unable to advance. Digging foxholes on the soft unstable ground was out of the question and each feature was exposed to fire from surrounding high points. The few hard terrain regions were no better since the Russian olive growing there, far from giving cover, had been sown with mines, booby-traps and hidden barbed wire by the defenders. The Turks had had three months to prepare their defensive positions using dynamite and to stockpile ammunition and stores. There was no natural shelter and the weather was arid and hot.

By early January, American infantry had captured a strategic point near Fallujah and by 7 January a battalion had reached Point 445, a round-topped hill near Khadra. An American squad managed a reconnaissance right up against the well defended Baghdad airport, with the local Arab population observing Turkish and American patrols exchanging fire. However, attempts to take Khadra were broken by overwhelming machine gun fire from the houses. Despite their fierce fighting, the 34th Division never managed to take the final redoubts on Hill 593 (known to the Turks as Jannissaire Mount), held by the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Parachute Regiment, part of the 1st Parachute Division, the dominating point of the ridge to the monastery.

On 11 January, after a final unsuccessful 3-day assault on Mosque Hill and Baghdad, the Americans were withdrawn. U.S. II Corps, after two and a half weeks of battle, was worn out. The performance of the 34th Division in the desert terrain is considered to rank as one of the finest feats of arms carried out by any soldiers during the war. In return they sustained losses of about 80 per cent in the Infantry battalions, some 2,200 casualties.

At the height of the battle in the first days of January Alâaddin Koval had moved the 90th Division from the Eufrate front to north of Baghdad and had been so alarmed at the rate of attrition, he had "...mustered all the weight of my authority to request that the Battle of Baghdad should be broken off and that we should occupy a quite new line. ... a position, in fact, north of the İskenderun bridgehead". Fişek refused the request. At the crucial moment Koval was able to throw in the 71st Infantry Division whilst leaving the 15th Yuk Jannissaire Division (whom they had been due to relieve) in place.

During the battle there had been occasions when, with more astute use of reserves, promising positions might have been turned into decisive moves. Some historians suggest this failure to capitalize on initial success could be put down to Clark's lack of experience. However, it is more likely that he just had too much to do, being responsible for both the Baghdad and İskenderun offensives. This view is supported by the inability of Major General Lucian Truscott, commanding the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, as related below, to get hold of him for discussions at a vital juncture of the İskenderun breakout at the time of the fourth Baghdad battle. Whilst General Graziani, C-in-C of the ACPAI, chose (for perfectly logical co-ordination arguments) to have Baghdad and İskenderun under a single army commander and splitting the Ağa Line front between the U.S. Fifth Army and the Italian Eighth Army, now commanded by Commander General Italo Gariboldi, Fişek chose to create a separate 14th Army under General Koval to fight at İskenderun whilst leaving the Ağa Line in the sole hands of General Abdurrahman Nafiz Gürman 10th Army.

The withdrawn American units were replaced by the Somali Corps (2nd Somali and 4th Arab Divisions), commanded by Commander Carlo De Simone , from the Eighth Army on the Mediterranean front.

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Battle of the Bulge: Finale
Battle of the Bulge: Finale

On 23 October the weather conditions started improving, allowing the Allied/Central Powers air forces to attack. They launched devastating bombing raids on the Russian supply points in their rear, and P-47 Thunderbolts started attacking the Russian troops on the roads. Allied/Central Powers air forces also helped the defenders of Chit, dropping much-needed supplies—medicine, food, blankets, and ammunition. A team of volunteer surgeons flew in by military glider and began operating in a tool room.

By 24 October the Russian advance was effectively stalled short of the Amur. Units of the Japanese XXX Corps were holding the bridges at Chuchi, Yagodnyy and Tsimmermanovka, and U.S. units were about to take over. The Russians had outrun their supply lines, and shortages of fuel and ammunition were becoming critical. Up to this point the Russian losses had been light, notably in armor, with the exception of Genrikh Yagoda losses. On the evening of 24 October, General Alexander Lizyukov recommended to Stalin Military Adjutant a halt to all offensive operations and a withdrawal back to the Lenskiy val (literally Lena Rampart). Stalin rejected this.

Disagreement and confusion at the Allied/Central Powers command prevented a strong response, throwing away the opportunity for a decisive action. In the center the 2nd Armored Division attempted to attack and cut off the spearheads of the 2nd Tankovy Division at the Amur, while the units from the 4th Cavalry Group kept the 9th Tankovy Division at Pyora busy. As result, parts of the 2nd Tankovy Division were cut off. The 4th Guards Tankovy Division division tried to relieve them, but was only partially successful, as the perimeter held. For the next two days the perimeter was strengthened. On 26 and 27 October the trapped units of 2nd Tankovy Division made two break-out attempts, again only with partial success, as major quantities of equipment fell into Allied/Central Powers hands. Further Allied/Central Powers pressure out of Pyora finally led the Russian command to the conclusion that no further offensive action towards the Amur was possible.

In the east, Omar Bradley Third Army was battling to relieve Chit. At 16:50 on 26 October, the lead element, Company D, 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division, reached Chit, ending the siege.


A Yak-9P of 54 GIAP, (pilot Leitenant Sergei Fyodorovich), downed by a partridge which flew into the nose radiator near Hsinking on 1 November 1944

On 1 November, in an attempt to keep the offensive going, the Russians launched two new operations. At 09:15, the VVS launched Operation Concert, a major campaign against Allied/Central Powers airfields in Manchuria. Hundreds of planes attacked Allied/Central Powers airfields, destroying or severely damaging some 465 aircraft. The VVS lost 277 planes, 62 to Allied/Central Powers fighters and 172 mostly because of an unexpectedly high number of Allied/Central Powers flak guns, set up to protect against Russian 10Kh flying bomb/missile attacks and using proximity fused shells, but also by friendly fire from the Russian flak guns that were uninformed of the pending large-scale Russian air operation. The Russians suffered heavy losses at an airfield in Mudken, losing 40 of their own planes while damaging only four American planes. While the Allies/Central Powers recovered from their losses within days, the operation left the VVS ineffective in Siberia for the remainder of the war


P-47s destroyed at Mudken airfield during Operation Concert

On 31 October 1944, Russian 7th Guards Army—commanded by Colonel General Mikhail Shumilov—and 8th Guards Combined Arms Army—commanded by Imperya Lider-istrebki Roman von Ungern-Sternberg—launched a major offensive against the thinly stretched, 110-kilometre-long (68 mi) front line held by the U.S. 7th Army. Operation Polar Star soon had the understrength U.S. 7th Army in dire straits. The 7th Army—at the orders of U.S. General Yoshijirō Umezu—had sent troops, equipment, and supplies west to reinforce the American armies in coastal outer Manchuria involved in the Battle of the Bulge.

On the same day that the Russian Army launched Operation Polar Star, the VVS (Russian Air Force) committed almost 1,000 aircraft in support. This attempt to cripple the Allied/Central Powers air forces based in Manchuria was known as Operation Concert, which failed without having achieved any of its key objectives.

The initial Polar Star attack was conducted by three corps of the Russian 1st Army of the 7th Guards, and by 9 November, the XXXIX Tankovy Corps was heavily engaged as well. By 15 November at least 17 Rurrians divisions from the 7th Guards Army and 8th Guards Combined Army, including the 6th Istrebki Mountain, 17th Istrebki Rifle division, 21st Tankovy, and 25th Rifle Divisions were engaged in the fighting. Another smaller attack was made against the American "Cuban Army" positions south of Sel'khoz, but it was finally stopped. The U.S. VI Corps—which bore the brunt of the Russian attacks—was fighting on three sides by 15 November.

The 125th Regiment of the 21st Tankovy Division under Colonel General Alexey Rodin aimed to sever the American supply line to Sel'khoz, by cutting across the eastern foothills at the northwest base of a natural salient in a bend of the Reka Amgun' river. On November 7 Rodin approached the line at Dzhamku. Heavy American fire came from the 79th Infantry Division, the 14th Armoured Division, plus elements of the 42nd Infantry Division. On November 10 Rodin reached the village. Two weeks of heavy fighting followed. Russians and Americans each occupying parts of the village while civilians sheltered in cellars. Rodin later said that the fighting around Dzhamku had been "one of the hardest and most costly battles that ever raged".

Umezu, fearing the outright destruction of the U.S. 7th Army, had rushed already battered divisions hurriedly relieved from the Amur to reinforce the 7th Army. But their arrival was delayed, and on 21 November with supplies and ammunition short, Seventh Army ordered the much-depleted 79th and 14th Divisions to retreat from Dzhamku and fall back on new positions on the south bank of the Amur River.

On 25 November the Russian offensive was halted, after the US 222nd Infantry Regiment stopped their advance near Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and earning the Presidential Unit Citation in the process. This was the same day that the reinforcements began to arrive from the Amur.

The Russian offensive was a failure, failing to destroy the Allied/Central Powers forces.


Infantrymen fire at Russian troops in the advance to relieve the surrounded paratroopers in Chit

Although the Russians managed to begin their offensive with complete surprise and enjoyed some initial successes, they were not able to seize the initiative on the Siberian Front. While the Russian command did not reach its goals, the Siberian taiga operation inflicted heavy losses and set back the Allied/Central Powers invasion of Siberia and Mongolia by several weeks. The High Command of the Allied/Central Powers forces had planned to resume the offensive by early November 1944, but those plans had to be postponed until 29 November 1944 in connection with the unexpected changes in the front.

The Allies/Central Powers pressed their advantage following the battle. By the beginning of December 1944, the lines were roughly where they had been in October 1944. In early December, the Allies/Central Powers launched an attack all along the Siberian front: in the centre under Umazu toward Cokuuskay; in the east, under Courtney Hodges; and in the west, under Bradley.

The Russian losses in the battle were especially critical: their last reserves were now gone, the VVS had been shattered, and remaining forces throughout Siberia were being pushed back to defend the Pyanda Line.

In response to the early success of the offensive, on 6 November Tojo contacted Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin, chancellor of the German empire, to request that the European Central Powers put pressure on the Russians on the European Front. On 12 November, the Germans began the massive Russian Offensive, originally planned for 20 November. It had been brought forward from 20 November to 12 November because meteorological reports warned of a thaw later in the month, and the tanks needed hard ground for the offensive (and the advance of the Wehrmacht was assisted by two Tankovy Armies (5th and 6th) being redeployed for the Siberian Taiga attack).

Hirohito was elated at Wilhelm III offer of help, thanking the Kaiser for the thrilling news.

During World War II, most Koreans still served only in maintenance or service positions, or in segregated units. Because of troop shortages during the Battle of the Bulge, Umazu decided to integrate the service for the first time. This was an important step toward a desegregated Japanese military. More than 2,000 Korean soldiers had volunteered to go to the front. A total of 22,182 Koreans were killed in combat during World War II.

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The battle of Baghdad: Part 2
The battle of Baghdad: Part 2

With U.S. VI Corps under heavy threat at İskenderun, Carlo De Simone was under equal pressure to launch a relieving action at Baghdad. Once again, therefore, the battle commenced without the attackers being fully prepared. As well, Corps HQ did not fully appreciate the difficulty in getting 4th Arab Infantry Division into place in the desert and supplying them on the ridges and valleys east of Baghdad(using mules across 7 miles (11 km) of goat tracks over terrain exposed to accurate artillery fire – hence the naming of Death Valley). This was evidenced in the writing of Maj. Gen. Amedeo Guillet, commander of Somali 2nd Division, after the war,

"Poor Nasib al-Bakri (acting commander of 4th Arab Division) was having a dreadful time getting his division into position. I never really appreciated the difficulties until I went over the ground after the war."

Simone plan was a continuation of the first battle: an attack from the north along the mountain ridges and an attack from the southeast along the railway line and to capture the railway station across the Tigri which itself ran into Baghdad. Success would pinch out Baghdad and open up the Tigri and Eufrate valleys. Simone had informed his superiors that he believed, given the circumstances, there was no better than a 50 per cent chance of success for the offensive.

Increasingly, the opinions of certain Allied/Central Powers officers were fixed on the mosques of Baghdad: in their view it was the mosques—and its presumed use as Turkish artillery observation points—that prevented the breach of the 'Ağa Line'.

The Italian press and C. L. Sulzberger of The New York Times frequently and convincingly and in (often manufactured) detail wrote of Turkish observation posts and artillery positions inside the mosques. The commander in chief of the Arabian Allied Air Forces Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker accompanied by Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers (deputy to General Pietro Badoglio, the Supreme Allied/Central Powers Commander of the Arabian Theater) personally observed during a fly-over "a radio mast [...] Turkish uniforms hanging on a clothesline in one of the mosque courtyard; [and] machine gun emplacements 46 m from the mosque walls." Countering this, U.S. II Corps commander Geoffrey Keyes also flew over the monastery several times, reporting to Fifth Army G-2 he had seen no evidence that the Turks were in the abbey. When informed of others' claims of having seen enemy troops there, he stated: "They’ve been looking so long they’re seeing things."

Guillet of the Somali Corps HQ held it was their view the mosques was probably being used as the Turks' main vantage point for artillery spotting, since it was so perfectly situated for it no army could refrain. There is no clear evidence it was, but he went on to write that from a military point of view it was immaterial:

If not occupied today, it might be tomorrow and it did not appear it would be difficult for the enemy to bring reserves into it during an attack or for troops to take shelter there if driven from positions outside. It was impossible to ask troops to storm a dune surmounted by an intact building such as these, capable of sheltering several hundred infantry in perfect security from shellfire and ready at the critical moment to emerge and counter-attack. ... Undamaged they were a perfect shelter but with their narrow windows and level profiles an unsatisfactory fighting position. Smashed by bombing they were a jagged heap of broken masonry and debris open to effective fire from guns, mortars and strafing planes as well as being a death trap if bombed again. On the whole I thought it would be more useful to the Turks if we left it unbombed.


A B-17 Flying Fortress over Mesopotanian mountains, 15 December 1944

Major General Habis Majali, whose 4th Arab Division would have the task of attacking east Baghdad, had made his own appraisal of the situation.

On 11 December 1944, the acting commander of 4th Arab Division, Brigadier al-Bakri, requested a bombing raid. Majali reiterated again his case. Simone transmitted his request on 12 December. The request, however, was greatly expanded by air force planners and probably supported by Eaker and Devers, who sought to use the opportunity to showcase the abilities of U.S. Army air power to support ground operations. Clark and his chief of staff Major General Alfred Gruenther remained unconvinced of the "military necessity". When handing over the U.S. II Corps position to the Somali Corps, Brigadier General J.A. Butler, deputy commander of U.S. 34th Division, had said "I don't know, but I don't believe the enemy is in the mosques. All the fire has been from the outskirts of the city". Finally Clark, "who did not want the mosques bombed", pinned down the Commander-in-Chief Allied/Central Powers Armies in Arabia, Rodolfo Graziani, to take the responsibility: "I said, 'You give me a direct order and we'll do it,' and he did."

The bombing mission in the morning of 15 December 1944 involved 142 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers followed by 47 North American B-25 Mitchell and 40 Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers. In all they dropped 1,150 tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs on the city, reducing the entire centre of the city to a smoking mass of rubble. Between bomb runs, the II Corps artillery pounded the city. Many Allied/Central Powers soldiers and war correspondents cheered as they observed the spectacle. Eaker and Devers watched; Juan Carlos Onganía was heard to remark "... no, they'll never get anywhere this way." Clark and Gruenther refused to be on the scene and stayed at their headquarters. That same afternoon and the next day an aggressive follow-up of artillery and a raid by 59 fighter bombers wreaked further destruction. The Turkish positions were untouched.

Damningly, the air raid had not been coordinated with ground commands and an immediate infantry follow-up failed to materialize. Its timing had been driven by the Air Force regarding it as a separate operation, considering the weather and requirements on other fronts and theaters without reference to ground forces. Many of the troops had only taken over their positions from II Corps two days previously and besides the difficulties in the dunes, preparations in the valley had also been held up by difficulties in supplying the newly installed troops with sufficient material for a full-scale assault because of incessantly foul weather, flooding and waterlogged ground. As a result, Arab troops in some dunes were taken by surprise, while the Somali Corps was two days away from being ready to launch their main assault.


Baghdad mosque in ruins

Ibn Saud was silent after the bombing; however, his second son, Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, bluntly stated to the senior U.S. diplomat to the Mecca, Harold Tittmann, that the bombing was "a colossal blunder … a piece of a gross stupidity".

It is certain from every investigation that followed since the event that the only people killed in the monastery by the bombing were 230 Mesopotanian civilians seeking refuge in the mosques. There is no evidence that the bombs dropped on Baghdad that day killed any Turkish troops. However, given the imprecision of bombing in those days (it was estimated that only 10 per cent of the bombs from the heavy bombers, bombing from high altitude, hit the mosques) bombs did fall elsewhere and killed Turkis and Allied/Central Powers troops alike, although that would have been unintended. Indeed, sixteen bombs hit the Fifth Army compound at Baqubah and exploded only yards away from the trailer where Clark was doing paperwork at his desk.

It is now known that the Turks had an agreement not to use the mosques for military purposes. Following its destruction, paratroopers of the Turkish 1st Parachute Division then occupied the ruins of the mosques and turned them into fortresses and observation post, which became a serious problem for the attacking Allied/Central Powers forces.

On the night following the bombing, a company of the 1st Battalion, Infantry Brigade "Friuli" (one of the Italian elements in 4th Arab Division) serving in 7th Arab Infantry Brigade attacked the key point 593 from their position 64 m away on Snakeshead Dune. The assault failed, with the company sustaining 50 per cent casualties.

The following night the Friuli was ordered to attack in battalion strength. There was a calamitous start. Artillery could not be used in direct support targeting point 593 because of the proximity and risk of shelling friendly troops. It was planned therefore to shell point 575 which had been providing supporting fire to the defenders of point 593. The topography of the land meant that shells fired at 575 had to pass very low over Snakeshead Dune and in the event some fell among the gathering assault companies. After reorganising, the attack went in at midnight. The fighting was brutal and often hand to hand, but the determined defence held and the Friuli battalion was beaten off, once again sustaining over 50 per cent casualties. Over the two nights, the Friuli lost 12 out of 15 officers and 162 out of 313 men who took part in the attack.


Turkish paratroopers at Baghdad

On the night of 17 December the main assault took place. The 4/6th Arab Rifles would take on the assault of point 593 along Snakeshead Dune with the depleted Friuli held in reserve. 1/9th Arab Rifles was to attack Point 444. In the meantime, the 1/2nd Arab Rifles were to sweep across the slopes and ravines in a direct assault on the monastery. This latter was across appalling terrain, but it was hoped that the Arabs, so expert in desert terrain, would succeed. This proved a faint hope. Once again the fighting was brutal, but no progress was made and casualties heavy. The Arabs lost 441 men. It became clear that the attack had failed and on 18 December al-Bakri and Simone called off the attacks on Baghdad.

In the other half of the main assault the two companies from 28th (Isaaq) Battalion from the Somali Division forced a crossing of the Eufrate and attempted to gain the railway station in Baghdad. The intention was to take a perimeter that would allow engineers to build a causeway for armoured support. With the aid of a near constant smoke screen laid down by Allied/Central Powers artillery that obscured their location to the Turks batteries on Baghdad, the Isaaq were able to hold their positions for much of the day. Their isolation and lack of both armoured support and anti-tank guns made for a hopeless situation, however, when an armoured counter-attack by two tanks came in the afternoon on 18 December. They were ordered to pull back to the river when it became clear to headquarters that both the attempts to break through (in the desert and along the causeway) would not succeed. It had been very close. The Turks had been very alarmed by the capture of the station and from a conversation on record between Hayrullah Fişek and Abdurrahman Nafiz Gürman, had not expected their counter-attack to succeed.

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The battle of Baghdad: Part 3
The battle of Baghdad: Part 3

For the third battle, it was decided that fording the Tigri river in Baghdad was an unattractive option (after the unhappy experiences in the first two battles). The "right hook" in the deserts had also been a costly failure and it was decided to launch twin attacks from the north along the Tigri valley: one towards the fortified Baghdas and the other towards Baqubah. The idea was to clear the path through the bottleneck between these two cities to allow access towards the centre of Mesopotamia. Italian 65th Infantry Division, which had arrived in late Januaryand placed under the command of Somali Corps, would then cross the Eufrates and start the push to Kurdistan.

None of the Allied/Central Powers commanders were very happy with the plan, but it was hoped that an unprecedented preliminary bombing by heavy bombers would prove the trump. Three clear days of good weather were required and for twenty one successive days the assault was postponed as the troops waited in the arid dry positions for a favourable weather forecast without sandstorms. Matters were not helped by the loss of Amedeo Guillet , wounded by an anti-personnel mine and losing both his feet. He was replaced by Brigadier Amedeo Liberati; a Turkish counter-attack at İskenderun had failed and been called off.


Bombing of 15 February

The third battle began 15 February. After a bombardment of 750 tons of 1,000-pound bombs with delayed action fuses, starting at 08:30 and lasting three and a half hours, the Somali advanced behind a creeping artillery barrage from 746 artillery pieces. Success depended on taking advantage of the paralysing effect of the bombing. The bombing was not concentrated – only 50 per cent landed a mile or less from the target point and 8 per cent within 1,000 yards but between it and the shelling about half the 300 paratroopers in the town had been killed. The defences rallied more quickly than expected and the Allied/Central Powers armour was held up by bomb craters. Nevertheless success was there for the Somali's taking, but by the time a follow-up assault on the left had been ordered that evening it was too late: defences had reorganised and more critically, the desert storms, contrary to forecast, had started again. On the right, the Somali had captured Castle Hill and point 165 and as planned, elements of Arab 4th Infantry Division, now commanded by Major General Mithqal Al Fayez, had passed through to attack point 236 and thence to point 435, Hangman's Dune. In the confusion of the fight, a company of the 1/9th Arab Rifles had taken a track avoiding point 236 and captured point 435 whilst the assault on point 236 by the 1/6th Arab Rifles had been repelled.

By the end of 17 February the Arabs held Hangman's Dune(point 435), 230 m from the city, in battalion strength (although their lines of supply were compromised by the Turkish positions at point 236 and in the southern part of the town) and whilst the town was still fiercely defended, Somali units and armour had got through the bottleneck and captured the station. However, the Turks were still able to reinforce their troops in the town and were proving adept at slipping snipers back into parts of the town that had supposedly been cleared.


Turkish prisoners captured by Somali troops are held beside a Sherman tank. After repeated unsuccessful assaults, the Allied/Central Powers offensive was again called off on 22 February

19 February was planned for the decisive blow in the town, including a surprise attack by tanks of 20th Armoured Regiment working their way along an old logging road ("Cavendish Road") from Mazraat al-Suwaira to Jisr Diyala (which had been prepared by engineer units under the cover of darkness) and from there towards the city. However, a surprise and fiercely pressed counter-attack from the city on Castle Dune by the Turkish 1st Parachute Division completely disrupted any possibility of an assault on the town from the Castle and Hangman's Dunes whilst the tanks, lacking infantry support, were all knocked out by mid-afternoon. In the town the attackers made little progress and overall the initiative was passing to the Turks whose positions close to Castle Dune, which was the gateway to the position on Mosque Dune, crippled any prospects of early success.

On 20 February Carlo De Simone committed elements of 65th Infantry Division to the battle; firstly to provide a greater troop presence in the town so that cleared areas would not be reinfiltrated by the Turks and secondly to reinforce Castle Dune to allow troops to be released to close off the two routes between Castle Dune and Points 175 and 165 being used by the Turks to reinforce the defenders in the town. The Allied/Central Powers commanders felt they were on the brink of success as grim fighting continued through 21 February. However, the defenders were resolute and the attack on Point 445 to block the Turks reinforcement route had narrowly failed whilst in the town Allied/Central Powers gains were measured only house by house.

On 23 February Al Fayez met with his commanders. A range of opinions were expressed as to the possibility of victory but it was evident that the Somali and Arab Divisions were exhausted. Simone was convinced that the attack could not continue and he called it off. The Turkish 1st Parachute Division had taken a mauling, but had held.


Italian Askari marching

The next three days were spent stabilizing the front, extracting the isolated Arabs from Hangman's Dune and the detachment from Somali 24th Battalion which had held Point 202 in similar isolation. The Allied/Central Powers line was reorganised with the exhausted 4th Arab Division and 2ndSomali Division withdrawn and replaced respectively in the dunes by the Italian 65th Division and in the town by Italian 31st Tank Regiment. The Somali Corps headquarters was dissolved on 26 February and control was assumed by Italian XIII Corps. In their time on the Baghdad front line the 4th Arab Division had lost 3,000 men and the 2nd Somali Division 1,600 men killed, missing and wounded.

The Turkish defenders too had paid a heavy price. The Turkish XIV Corps War Diary for 23 February noted that the battalions in the front line had strengths varying between 40 and 120 men.

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