World situation, September 1943:
The African fighting has reached a new equilibrium. The Northern Alliance line used to stretch from the Cameroon Highlands to the Horn of Africa, but the encirclement and destruction of the Army of the Sudan has forced us to retreat well north, into Egypt. We still hold the left bank of the Nile as far south as the Third Cataract; but the Asian hordes stand on the right bank as far north as the First, and hold most of the Red Sea ports. However, after a disaster of such a magnitude as the loss of the Sudan, a standstill, even with a great loss of territory, is something of an accomplishment. For a while we were discussing abandoning Africa entirely and pulling back to the Sinai to hold the Suez by one bank. Now, with reinforcements rapidly shipped in through the Med, we have even managed a modest counterattack:
The armoured spearhead of our manly thrust into the soft, yielding EastAsian line is Norwegian, 4de Panser-Divisjon “Gråbein” to be specific; the follow-on elements are Libyske Korps and some Incan infantry under, obviously, Norwegian officers. Unfortunately, the Indians managed to find some reserves that weren’t militia, which they used to counterattack the base of the penetration; at the moment the direction of 4de Panser’s advance is westwards, back across the Nile, not east to the Red Sea as initially planned. But, as they say in Norway, “new tickets, new chances”; this battle is not yet over, and we have only just begun to fight.
In addition to the Indians’ habit of holding important strategic positions with native militias, my advance was helped by EastAsian logistical difficulties; holding the Red Sea ports is all well and good, but getting any convoys through to them is a different question. Between submarines, carrier strikes from the Suez, the occasional battleship sortie, and lots and lots of bombs and rockets, there’s only a thin trickle of shells feeding the Nile Line’s guns – or so my intelligence analysts assure me. It does seem possible that the naval part of this will be more competently handled this week, with vR back in command; but as I learned to my cost in Cameroon, you can only do so much to keep these Third-World ports open in the face of modern air power.
I have not paid close attention to the various Russian fronts, but just glancing at the world map it seems there is little news; except perhaps in Siberia, the line hasn’t moved. I do recall Oddman saying something about a pocket, so for all I know, EastAsia has suffered a defeat on the scale of the loss of the Army of the Sudan, and hundreds of thousands of conscripted peasants are even now being marched to POW camps in the Ukraine. So, in other words, no news from the northern fronts. The stalemate has led the Indians to open the Arabian Front in an attempt at bypassing the Iranian mountain line and reaching the wine-dark water by the desert-nomad route. Initial success was, however, slowed and then held by a patchwork line of Russian, British, and Norwegian troops, and then reversed by an influx of Incan infantry – who like all natives are quite brave in a primitive sort of way, and certainly good enough to fight Indians when led by white officers. I’ll observe in passing that I’ve seen Indian infantry divisions with more piercing firepower than Incan tanks; whatever one may say about their fondness for militia, there’s nothing wrong with the anti-tank guns issued to Indian regulars, when they finally do reach the front.
There are things in the pipeline that may make a big difference; Churchill observed, concerning a war in another history, that “it is always good to have something in hand for the future”. Then again, the enemy, that dirty dog, he has a plan, too. We’ll see whose is better. The front is nowhere close to anyone’s capital; no industrial heartland is threatened. I think there will be hard fighting for several years.