How the city’s defenders held on, I’ll never know. But somehow Murmansk remains in Russian hands. I was prepared to write this off last turn, but looks like things will take a bit longer for the Axis. To the south, the Luftwaffe Field Korps is arriving from western Europe. Its destination is unknown.
The lines have remained still since the brief breakthrough I managed last turn. I’m going to renew the assault this turn. The new phase of the war on the Eastern Front is about to begin, and the Yelets-Voronezh sectors are likely to be the flashpoint. The 68th Army has been formed and transported westward from the Urals. Why is this important? Because the 68th Army has three divisions of airborne troops. These will be the first Russian airborne units available in this scenario. Given a few turns to build up strength, coupled with a bridge-bombing campaign to cut off reinforcements, and we have a nice little offensive operation to blow the German lines wide open.
So far, the German offensive has netted them only a hex or two. The battle has been raging now for two turns, with moderate losses on my side, and moderate to high losses on the Axis side. It was a fortunate move for me that the Germans attacked when they did, because I was one turn away from shipping out the 1st Gds Tank and 4th Shock Army to other sectors in the north. But now I’m able to commit them to this battle and counter any gains made by the Axis. With plans in the works for the Yelets-Voronezh offensive, my goal here at Astrakhan is to hold my ground and possibly give the Axis a black eye in the process.
My positions were bound to fall apart sooner or later. The German airborne assault just hastened the move away from Grozny. I’m still going to have to destroy the German airborne troops, but that will be so I can have a clear withdrawal route to the coast line. Once there, the battle should resemble what’s been going on along the Black Sea Coast, hopefully with better early results.
Sectors: North Africa
The Americans are holding the Axis inside Tunis, while the Canadians have boarded trains for the front. Near Tripoli, the 10th Arm/X Corps has reached the outer defenses. The rest of the British Eighth Army is moving west from Benghazi.