Matters proceed apace over the next few months, with British and German naval forces playing cat and mouse with each other in the North Sea.
December and January see the most action, starting with two Kreigsmarine destroyer squadrons being summarily dispatched by the heavy cruisers of the Home Fleet. This was over almost before it began:
Who knows what they were doing out there by themselves? Oh well. Several indecisive engagements also took place around this tine, including Emden (with destroyer escorts) attempting to make a break for it along with Norwegian coast. She was incepted by Carrier Group Ark Royal (HMS Ark Royal, accompanied by two older or escort carriers and various escorts), which, although able to turn Emden back, was unable to score any hits. Maybe Emden has managed to slip through since?
Three engagements with losses were also fought:
HMS Capetown, a C-Class light cruiser, was serving as the flagship for one of our hunter/killer groups, accompanied by by two destroyer squadrons. They discovered a group of three U-boat squadrons, and, alas, did not prevail. The Home Fleet, resupplying in Scapa Flow, was rushed out to join the engagement, but did not arrive in time.
HMS Neptune, a Leander-class light cruiser, was also sunk around this period (or possibly along with HMS Eagle; our records have become a tad confused).At this point, the Battle of the North Sea stands at:
- One WWI-era aircraft carrier
- Two inter-war light cruisers
- Two destroyer squadrons
- Five U-boat squadrons
This is looking good so far, but some U-boats are almost certainly getting through! We’ve not suffered convoy losses so far, but we no doubt will in the near future. We will see what transpires as the weather clears towards spring.
War with Italy
On 12th January, 1940 [editor’s note: well in advance of historical reality; they must be feeling cocky], Italy has the temerity to declare war on us, and quickly starts advancing along the Egyptian coast. We have already decided to let them advance to El Amin, and are drawing our battle lines there (thus allowing the main fight to occur well within range of our close support bomber wings and in poor supply conditions for the Italians). However, our Supreme Leader suddenly realises that he has not sent nearly enough divisions to fight this surely epic battle to come, so quickly sends three divisions from the Home Islands via long range transports.
We can only hope they make it through the gauntlet of the Mediterranean in one piece. Significant naval forces are on standby to help them on their way. We also have at least one division that should be ready straight for deployment in the area before the time comes*. This will give us about seven divisions in Egypt (not including garrisons), compared to possibly 30 on the Italian side. We’ll be needing a good dash of British stiff upper lip then.
Fortunately, we get a taste of things to come in Ethiopia, with our first land engagement of the war:
Although things initially look dicey, we win a decisive victory in the course of four days, albeit with relatively high losses:
This is an important victory, however, as five Italian divisions have been completely routed with heavy losses, and we’re well on the way to cutting off all Italian forces in East Africa from all supply. We must not be lax in pressing our advantage.
Editor’s note: although there are many factors at work here, including very low ESE on both sides, this is an effective demonstration of CORE six and nine battalion organisations.
In other news
On 11th January, 1940, we have the Altmark Incident, which will surely go down as a pivotal moment in history:
It looks as if our Supreme Commander was right to prepare for the defence of Norway [editors note: both these options do exactly the same thing (-1 dissent); is that WAD?]
Finland also deliver an international cry for help. They’re on their own for the moment though.
Finally, two new tech teams become available. These companies will be invaluable for our industrial development. We will put them to work as soon as possible: