Selma Alabama – A History Road Trip

Lynn is going out of her mind from boredom.  Over a normal three month period she has lots of sporting events, at least 9 meetings with buddies at a bar, weekly Mass, her weekly prayer group meeting, three crafty-classes, and usually a major vacation somewhere.

During the Wuhan Flu quarantine Lynn has had nothing.  Lynn has always been easily bored, and this is reaching epic proportions.

So last Sunday we took a road trip to Selma Alabama to see the Edmund Pettis Bridge and the route taken by the voting rights marchers way back in 1965.  We were small children in North Carolina and have no direct memory of the events when they happened.  This was the last major location of the civil rights struggle in Alabama that we had not visited.  Although there are several museums along the route – they were all closed due to the virus. Selma march

The Edmund Pettis Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma was where fire hoses and dogs were released on civil rights marchers attempting to secure the right to vote. These happened when I was 3 years old – so I have no living memory of it.

We drove to Montgomery and took US Highway 80 to Selma.  This was the march route.  Highway 80 is a divided US highway – as good of a US highway you get short of an interstate. There are markers and various (closed) museums along the route. Historic Route Sign

You can read more about it at:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march

The bridge is pretty much exactly as it was back in 1965.

There is a US Park Service information building at the foot of the bridge. It is normally closed on Sundays and has been closed due to the Corona Virus for the foreseeable future. NPS On Street

The Azaleas are past their peek bloom in Central and South Alabama. But there was a nice planting that stays mostly in the shade that was very pretty at the foot of the bridge. Selma Azelas

Selma is now a economic wasteland. It was originally an old railroad town, shopping area for several counties, and a spot of local manufacturing. Today almost all of downtown Selma is boarded up buildings for sale.

Selma’s downtown is similar to many small old railroad station towns throughout the South and Midwest. We have driven extensively on both the main and back roads in the South and the Midwest.  But our driving in the rural Northeast and rural West has mostly been Interstate Highways – so I don’t know if economically devastated railroad towns are common there.  Interstate Highways bypass almost all small towns.

Once a year during the anniversary of the voting rights march swarms of national, state and local politicians swoop in for a brief march and photo opportunity. Then they all leave town as quickly as possible.

This year many of the Dem presidential candidates still in the race before Super Tuesday made a brief appearance – then fled because they (correctly) thought Biden had the votes to win Alabama.

Interstates 85 and 65 were mostly empty.  Highway 80 was almost totally empty.  Excepting one small church, all of the churches had empty parking lots on Sunday morning due to the quarantine.  Normal Sunday morning road traffic in rural Alabama is mostly people going to church or to visit friends and family.

Previously we have visited the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham across the street from where Klansmen bombed the church murdering 4 little girls. That museum is one of the most chilling places I’ve ever visited since it documented the many lynching’s (race murders) which occurred in Alabama.

We have also visited the State Capital grounds in Montgomery which is an interesting location. You have the marker where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office for the Presidency of the Confederacy looking across to the First White House of the Confederacy. At the foot of the hill (called Goat Hill) is the small Baptist Church where Martin Luther King preached.  You can easily see all of this from the same spot.

Since we have yet another month of quarantine – I may go to Montgomery and snap more photos of the historic sites there from the outside

Libya Part 2: Sandstorm AAR

Turn 2: El Agheila Captured and New Orders
A British scout car attacked the Italian scout car damaging both during the AI’s turn.  The British scout is attacked by dive bomber, followed by an Italian infantry assault (which does not advance after battle) and was destroyed by the rearmost German Armor taking El Agheila. This gives new objectives and additional land command points for both Italy and Germany.  My forces advance North on the coast road spotting a captured Italian Armor unit further North. 11 - Turn 2 Bombing the Scout Car13 - T2 Advance North

New primary objectives are capturing Benghazi and connecting El Agheila and Bardia. New secondary objectives are capturing Tobruk, capturing Sollum, and causing 10 damage with German fighters. Achieving all objectives means taking all major towns and destroying all enemy units.  The Italians purchase an armor and an infantry unit. Germany buys two infantry units. Newly purchased units cannot move until turn 3.

14 - T2 Advance & Reinforce

Turns 3 to 6:
The captured Italian armor closed with my lead units. On the axis turn, the enemy armor was attacked with the dive bomber, followed by the rear German Armor and finished off by the Italian Armor and Scout Car. All three fighters attacked a British Fighter almost destroying it. The army continued pushing North on the coast road. My air force spotted British Infantry, anti-tank, and an armor unit.15 - T3 Attacking Brit Armor16 - T3 Conclusion

Turn 4 presents major risks and opportunities. I’m splitting my advance with armor and mechanized units turning East with the infantry and artillery continuing North to Benghazi. This opens a gap. I must ensure the mobile units do not get cut off from supplies by the British – a skill the AI is effective in employing. Running out of supplies delays advancing by multiple turns. In dozens of playthroughs of the Libya scenario, turns 4-5 are often highly dangerous to the Axis.

The strategy was successfully executed! Benghazi fell on Turn 5. Attacks on turn 6 prevented the British from cutting my supply lines. The forces cutting through the desert rapidly advanced and a large combined arms force was spotted close to the East Coast. 17 - Turn 4 Dangers18 Turn 5 Force Split19 - T6 Successful attacks

Turns 7 to 13: British Retreat Cut Off and Tobruk Probed
A large British combined arms force occupies Mechili. My approaching scout car located and detonated a mine field. The defenders are supported by an anti-tank gun.  AT guns are deadly when supporting adjacent defenders.   Fortunately, the infantry and dive bombers accompanied my armor and destroyed AT gun.  My goal is cutting off the retreating British before they can reach the fortress of Tobruk. 20 - T7 Minefield21 - Turn 7 Big Picture

Foot infantry and artillery move East along the coast destroying encountered units. The mechanized force is screened from encirclement by the escarpment and grinds through British defenders. By the end of Turn 8 the British are in a precarious position and should retreat everything towards Tobruk. 22 - Turn 8

The retreating British are encircled on Turn 10 and the airfield was captured.  Both are significant. Movement, attack and defense are severely degraded for out of supply units. The screenshot shows an Italian armor unit capturing the airfield and immediately attacking and destroying a heavily damaged infantry unit in the city.  The airfield was captured and vacated in the same turn. This is a coup for the Axis. Dive bombers are slow. If the airfield had not been quickly captured the dive bomber would have been forced to refuel at the Benghazi airfield – taking it out of action for around 6 turns.23 - T10 Encirclement & Airfield Capture

General O’Connor was captured as the British pocket was reduced on Turn 12. On the same turn my armor probed the British defenses around Tobruk. Tobruk is heavily defended by mines, fortifications, heavily artillery, anti-aircraft and infantry. But the defense is static without armor for counterattacks. Capturing Tobruk will take time. Infantry and artillery must catch up. Aircraft must be refueled and rearmed. 24 - T12 O'Connor Captured25 - Turn 12 Tobruk Defenses26 - T13 big picture

 

Sandstorm: An Order of Battle WW2 After Action Report (AAR)

The first Sandstorm scenario is Libya, March 1941. The British captured almost all of Libya from the Italians. Germany sends Rommel to Africa with limited troops. This AAR comes from completing the entire Sandstorm campaign multiple times on the Lieutenant level and once on the Captain level. I’ve played the first scenario: Libya, March 1941 at least a dozen times testing different strategies and army configurations.1- Libya Scenario

A huge decision throughout Sandstorm and critical to the first scenario is how to best use the Italians. Germany has significantly better men and equipment in almost every category excepting artillery. But Italians are fifty percent or more of your army. Players should carefully decide where to spend precious German command points.

Libya 1941 opens with preplaced troops of one German and one Italian artillery unit, one German Armor (Panzer III), one truck motorized German engineer and one truck motorized Italian infantry. You must purchase the remainder. Starting command points (limiting maximum land, air and naval units fielded) are Italy 19 land and 3 air points; German 10 land and 10 air points. There are 460 Italian and 600 German resource points to purchase units. Unit costs vary considerably with armor and air units much more costly in resource points than foot infantry.2- Initial Objectives4 - Front Line before full deployment

Choosing air units is easy and ground units devilishly hard.

Germany has a superb tactical bomber unmatched by Italy. Italian fighters are pretty good. Tactical bombers are devastating on ground units but mincemeat for fighters. Your air force needs enough fighters for at least parity in the air. Tactical bombers are excellent ground support units. I bought the best available Italian Fighter (MC200 Saetta), two Bf 100 F German fighters and a Ju 87 B tactical bomber. My last German air command point purchased a recon plane completing my air force.

With only ten command points, German land purchases are limited. Germany has vastly superior medium tanks, much better infantry, somewhat better scout cars, and roughly equal artillery. In 1941 Germany has two types of armor: one designed for anti-tank superiority and the other more focused on infantry support. My strongest need is knocking out other tanks so 6 command points are spent on a Panzer IIIJ with the remaining 4 points purchasing a halftrack motorized infantry. Halftracks are more expensive than trucks but have some mounted offensive capability and much better mounted defense. Halftracks also have better off-road movement.

The Italians have limited resource points after purchasing the MC200 Saetta. The Order of Battle series AI excels in outflanking and isolating your units. Libya has a lot of open space and I need Italian Infantry to hold my flanks. I buy 3 inexpensive, Italian foot infantry, the best Italian armor available (mediocre and expensive compared to German armor) and a recon unit.

The two points spent on the recon unit could have truck-motorized two Italian infantry. I chose the recon unit for several reasons. When mounted in trucks, infantry is highly vulnerable to attack. Trucks are expensive and some Italian resource points are held in reserve to replace casualties. Recon units have several advantages. First, they are fast and can detect mines. Second, they can choose phased movement. Last, they quickly retreat when taking damage making them hard to destroy. The disadvantages of recon units are they cannot take objectives, are relatively expensive, and have minimal offensive punch. 5 - Units purchased and deployed

Looking at the map, Libya has a paved coast road connecting all major cities and airfields. Because Libya juts into the Mediterranean Sea, unpaved desert roads give armor and motorized infantry the potential to cut-off many coastal objectives.
Thus, my overall strategy is sending Italian foot infantry and both artillery units along the coast road to capture major cities, ports and airfields before Tobruk. All armor, motorized infantry, and the recon unit will take the desert roads attempting to encircle British and Commonwealth forces. Foot infantry is just too slow away from the coast roads. 3 - Libya

I get Rommel! Rommel is the best leader I’ve seen in all Order of Battle games. His command radius is huge, his impact on both his unit and surrounding units is excellent. I attach Rommel to my lead Panzer III to encompass as many opening battles as possible.
I’m not going to discuss the initial objectives since they will quickly change.

Initial Offensive Turn
If you have read my other Order of Battle AARs you will remember that I seldom provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on how I ran a turn. Turn 1 in Libya is highly constrained by limited space. My choreographed sequence gets most out of your first turn.

First, the German engineer advances and attacks the British anti-tank gun. Do not advance into the space. Next, the lead Italian infantry hopefully destroys the damaged unit. If you don’t finish it off, your fighters should be able to follow up, strafe and kill. Italian infantry advances to take the space.6 - Part 1 of attack

Second, Italian artillery moves two spaces and fires on the British Infantry. Do not advance to where the artillery mounts the trucks and cannot fire. Then fire the German artillery. Last, use your dive bomber to airstrike the British Infantry. This sequence is critical for maximum effectiveness.7 - Part 2 of Attack

Third, German mechanized infantry attacks weakened British infantry and does not advance into the space if successful. Keep the space open for the next attack wave.8 - Part 3 of First Turn

Fourth, rearmost Italian infantry attacks flank of British Artillery. Infantry does not advance after the attack. The rearmost German Armor then advances (and hopefully) destroys the British artillery. Armor advances into the space if successful.9 - Part 4 of First Turn

Fifth, your lead Italian infantry attacks and destroys the two heavily damaged British units and advances into the open ground. The lead German armor (with Rommel) takes full movement down the road as does the Italian armor. The recon car takes the lead.
If successful, the only visible opponent is a scout car. This strategy works about 80% of the time as shown. Sometimes fighters must mop up the damaged anti-tank gun. Worst case, your final German and Italian armor units destroy the heavily damaged British units and your recon unit is far in advance of the rest of your forces. On higher difficulty levels these initial moves work, but you don’t advance quite as far, and your scout car is far more likely to be exposed far ahead of your other units.10 - Part 5 of First Turn

Christmas 2019

Lynn & I spent a week in Boone, NC before Christmas 2019.  I got to shoot clays with Cory, we visited David & Sharon in Hickory, and we saw Jones, Michael, Preston, Erica & Sam.  The pictures are mostly from Michael’s art studio & plant display palace.

Erica & MichaelSam & EricaErica & AveryPreston Lynn MichaelAvery & Lynn

And no Christmas is complete without the traditional cat shaving.Cat Shaving

Boucherie – December 7 2019

A fun group had a Boucherie at Charles & Jessica’s on December 7, 2019.  Boucherie’s are a Cajun tradition where a group of friends buys a whole pig, divides up the parts, each person cooks a dish, and they get together and eat with sides and beer.

Everyone made something, but our main cooks and coordinators were Charles, Jessica and Garry. CharlesJessicaGarry

Sausages were put together the day before along with boudin balls, cutting up hog skin for crackling; along with others making their specialties at home. SausagesCracklin Boudan Balls & Ribs

We also had a wonderful assortment of sides. Great Sides

Everyone had a good time – even Brian who should look happier after eating the noble pig that he raised and drinking beer. Happy BrianLaura & CamHappy FolksDan Glen Kris

 

Okinawa Part 2

Turns 7 to 11 – The Last Japanese Fleet Attacks
The Japs sent their last significant surface fleet to attack the Okinawa invasion. A US Navy surface engagement would incur needless casualties – so I’m planning to sink the fleet with my dive bombers. US dive bombers are currently engaged in ground support missions and must land to refuel and rearm. Some squadrons need replacements. The Jap fleet is far to the North, and US dive bombers are slow. Thus, the Japanese fleet will sail unmolested for many turns until the Dive Bombers reach their targets. 19 - Japs Last Naval Sorte20 - Turn 7 - Last Japanese Fleet

Shuri Castle was isolated on turn 7 and captured on turn 8. The main Japanese defensive line is broken. 21 - Turn 7 - Shuri Castle Isolated22 - Turn 8 Shuri Castle Falls

Only three victory hexes are under Japanese control at the end of Turn 8. The Northern victory hex is primarily protected by distance, bad terrain, and no roads. In the South, the Shuri line fell. Dive bombers redirected North towards the Japanese fleet, greatly reduces available firepower in the South which may slow the advance. It is doubtful than anything can prevent US forces from capturing the remaining ground objectives. 23 - Turn 8 Big Picture

During turns 9 to 11 US forces in South Okinawa easily break the last river line. The Japanese lacked the forces to fully man the last river line much less successfully counter-attack. The ocean is in sight and the US is close to the mopping up stage. 24 - Turn 9 in South26 - Turn 10 Approaching South Coast29 - Turn 11 South Okinawa

US forces slowly advance North through bad terrain. Several Jap suicide torpedo boats are sighted, and should be blasted out of the water by the lone US Cruiser providing ground fire support. 25 - Turn 10 Suicide Boats in North

Refueled and rearmed US Dive Bombers are flying at their maximum (yet slow) speed towards the Japanese Fleet.27 - Turn 10 Big Picture28 - Turn 11 US Dive Bombers Approach Jap Fleet

Yamato Dies
Half of the Japanese destroyer screen was sunk on turn 12 with the last destroyers sunk on turn 13. Destroyers are helpless against dive bombers without fighter cover. The Yamato was sunk on turn 15. She never fired a shot in anger against US ships or ground targets. 30 - T12 Half of the Destroyer Screen Sunk31 - T13 Destroyer Screen Sunk32 - Turn 15 Yamato Sunk

Mopping Up
On Turn 13 Marines in North Okinawa are closing on their final objective. No serious Japanese opposition has been encountered. The pace of advance has largely been set by bad terrain and no roads. In the South US forces have reached the coast splitting the remaining Japanese forces into pockets. 33 - T13 North34 - T13 South35 - T13 Big Picture

Victory, Nukes and On to Tokyo!
Victory in Okinawa was achieved on turn 21 (out of 40). US research has discovered the atomic bomb and a single nuclear bomb is designated for the Tokyo invasion. 36 - Turn 21 Victory37 - Nukes Purchased

Comparing this AAR to the Okinawa Campaign
My US forces largely followed the historic US strategy. Initial landings were unopposed, and the island was split. The Japanese placed the bulk of their defenses in the South. US forces eventually broke the Shuri Line by outflanking it on both coasts. The Japanese suicide plane attacks killed a lot of US sailors and sank many ships, but not enough to put the outcome of the battle into question. The Yamato and her escorts were sunk without causing any damage to the US Navy.

However, my advance was far faster than what occurred in 1945. Then US forces mopped up in the North and those troops were transferred south.

US Marines and Army troops took tremendous casualties with some rifle platoons incurring 300% casualties in South Okinawa. Many replacements were killed or wounded so quickly that they never officially had their paperwork transferred to the units they reinforced. Japanese positions were so well designed and so fiercely defended that the US advance in the South was stymied for weeks. The rain and mud in the South also slowed the US advance. Okinawa was a living hell for US Marines and Army infantry.

Pacific Tide by Compass Games: After Action Report

Pacific Tide is a grand strategy World War 2 Pacific Theater campaign.  The movement, attacks, and unit placement are all driven by cards which specify what can be done on a turn.

Pacific Tide has an excellent “bot” system which can be used for solo play.  I’m playing the US & Commonwealth forces against the Japanese Empire starting in 1941.  The war in China, Burma, and India is not considered.  The game focuses on the air, naval, and amphibious warfare in the Pacific.

Combat is simultaneous.  I’m not providing a detailed rules breakdown.  I played the game on tabletop but am illustrating the progress of the war using the Vassal software instead of taking and editing photos of my tabletop game. Pacific Tide - First play 1941 Map

1941 – Japan starts the war playing the Pearl Harbor Card.  This card activates 3 areas  for movement; has the Pearl Harbor Attack; and allows 2 additional attacks or amphibious attacks.

Japan activates Okinawa; Japan; and the Marianas.  For Okinawa 3 fleets and 1 AV were moved to the Philippines.  For Japan 1 fleet moved to the Marianas.  For the Marianas 2 infantry were moved to Truk.

The Pearl Harbor Attack is next and Japan rolled a 6 which on the special Pearl Harbor results yields 2 Fleets destroyed & 2 damaged. The US Land Based Air at Pearl attacks the carrier planes without success and is destroyed.  The Japanese cannot attack the 3 US carriers in the Western Pacific until they move.

Japan then chooses to attack the Philippines and to attack Singapore.  The Philippines were attacked with 1 CV (air) and three fleets versus 1 US fleet.  This gives Japan 5d6 and the US 1d6.  Japan rolls poorly getting one hit and the US gets a hit.  Both Japan and the US have one fleet damaged and none sunk.  I then made a mistake.  The US fleet was required in this situation to retreat away from this area but I forgot to do so.  Guess the damaged fleet steamed into a rain squall and broke contact.

Singapore was attacked with 2 land based air from Indonesia which is 4d6.  The UK has one land based air in defense and gets 1d6 in defense.  Both roll only one hit so the UK air unit is destroyed as is one Japanese land based air.

Overall, the Japanese rolled very poorly and the US and the UK rolled unexpectedly well.

The Pearl Harbor card allows Japan to either pass the turn or to immediately play another card.  Japan chooses to play another card: Air Operations.

Air Operations: Activate 2 areas for Movement = NW Pacific & Marianas
NW Pacific = Entire navy in area moves to Wake
Marianas Air moves to Indochina
Attack 1 Area = Philippines with 1 land based air (Indochina, group that moved cannot attack) 1 CV for 4 die all against the fleet. 2 hits = sunk. 1 Die AA = no hits.

US Turn plays Emergency Evacuation Card. 2 Infantry moved from Philippines to Singapore.

Japanese turn plays Yamamoto Card
The card allows activating one area for movement and two attacks or amphibious assaults.  Japan activates the Philippines for movement: 2 fleets, 1 CV to Singapore; Damaged Fleet to Japan for eventual repairs.  The attacks on this card give an additional die of attack value.

Japan makes an unopposed amphibious landing in the Philippines using 2 infantry from Japan to capture the islands.

The fleet at Singapore is attacked with 1 land based air (Indochina), 1 CV and 2 Fleets which gives 7d6 attack giving 3 hits sinking the UK fleet.  The UK fleet rolled 1d6 for no hits.  The other Indonesia Land Based Air attacks the four infantry units using 3d6 versus 1d6 AA fire.  The land based air scored one hit which removes the entrenchment and the AA fire resulted in no hits.  Japan’s turn ends. Pacific Tide 1941 after Yamamato Card Map

US Plays Air Builds Card
1 Area Activated for Movement – Western Pacific – all units move to Pearl Harbor
1 Land Based Air placed at Midway

Japan Plays SNLF Marines Card
2 Infantry placed in Japan
Amphibious Attack on Singapore: 3 infantry (max allowed by card) 1 from Philippines, 2 Indochina.  The attack gives a 1die plus.

Singapore attacked by 3 infantry (3 die), 2 land based air from Indochina (4 die) 1 carrier (1 die on land group) and 1 fleet (1 die) + 1 for the card = 10 die attack for 6 hits – all four infantry destroyed.  The 4 US and Commonwealth infantry roll 4 die for 1 hit and 1 Japanese infantry dies.
Singapore occupied by 2 fleet, 1 CV and 2 Infantry

All cards played. End of year. One damaged fleet repaired in Tokyo and one repaired in Pearl Harbor.  1941 Ends. End of 1941 Fleets Repaired Map