Sector: Rzhev - OPERATION: GUILLOTINE
The two pincers have made contact south of Rzhev, but it’s more symbolic at this point than it is strategic. I’m nearly sure those lead elements of the 3rd and 5th Guards Tank armies will face a swift and fierce counterattack by the Germans, who are rapidly funneling reinforcements into the area on a daily basis. I will still have the advantage with 110% shock for one more turn after this, so establishing that I am at all able to connect the two attack forces is a nice milestone to reach before the shock runs out. Two more Guards armies have arrived. The 2nd Guards Tank army’s lead elements, along with two fresh artillery divisions, are getting off the trains east of the Vyazma pincer, while the 2nd Guards Army is disembarking just west of Rzhev. As a precaution, I’m going to order at least two more armies, even if they’re just regular infantry armies, to this offensive as a tactical reserve.
Sector: Sicily - OPERATION: HUSKY
For an operation to start off so terrifying, HUSKY is quickly emerging as a resounding success, as the II Corps’ landing at Palermo seems to have been the game changer I was needing here. Not only will the Italians surrender soon, but I’ve officially connected all three major landing beachheads. Right now there are three American corps and one British corps on the island, with two Canadian and one more British corps ready to come ashore if needed. The Germans seems to be forming a defensive line to protect the approach to Messina, anchored by the 7th SS Geb Division and 2. FJ Division. Provided I can quickly get either of the two US armored divisions into the gap behind the German position, there’s a chance I can bag at least one of those two powerful units.
Mark is now digging in like crazy here, causing me to think he’s going to pause all other operations along the eastern front to focus squarely on the Rzhev situation. That’s great news for me, since the Batumi sector was still very fragile. Now that action has ceased there, most of my armies are returning to “green” readiness. And since I still hold the Batumi port hex, an end run landing behind the German positions is not out of the question.
I’m contemplating whether or not to even take a stab at Rhodes. There are two very strong German divisions manning the beaches, and the island doesn’t really hold the strategic significance that Crete does. Meanwhile, the XXX Corps continues to sweep Crete of the last defenders.