Shattered World - Segment 53.3
"Leningrad und Smolensk, oder Tod"
Nuclear fire blossomed like the all consuming brilliance of some ancient warrior god. In the middle, hell boiled and reached upwards for the heavens. All around, concentric circles of overpressure extend out to snuff out life and property like a million angry fists, smashing all before them. 40 kilotons of death and mayhem, delivered from the great predator birds of war - flying far overhead, now withdrawing eastward with fighters in vain pursuit; like gnats pricking the giants of old or hawks throwing themselves at the Earth in desperate rage.
Shifting the viewpoint downward and out to sea, to the inferno that had been the Island of Okinawa. The battle lines are stark, brutal scars cutting their jagged path across a tortured terrain becoming more that of nightmare by the hour. Craters dot the land, making it appear like the surface of some hostile alien world. Off the coast, great ships mass in their hundreds. Flashes erupt among them, and dozens of small, fast, human projectiles throw themselves into the depths of exploding shrapnel and a million aimed shells and rounds. Explosions erupt among the great vessels, and a few of them heave in their death throws, plunging into the abyssal depths to end their days of service - taking with them hundreds of struggling men to new watery graves.
Back to land, where columns of metal machines crawl across the earth, surrounded by men in masks and mottled uniforms, wielding clever personal weapons of death. They push ahead, leap frogging at times, at others flowing slowly like thick molasses; pushing into areas of enemy weakness. Foul clouds fill the air, noxious vapors that bring only death carry on the winds;killing and maiming all those unfortunate enough to lack protective measures. Explosions ripple, moving with the front lines - leaving broken men and death in their wake. Mechanical contraptions that flit about on whirling blades buzz this way and that. Molten fire bursts suddenly here and there, raining from the air to melt flesh and burn all before it;like the breath of some great ancient Dragon.
And now, rain; as if the Earth itself wept at the deeds of men.
August 4th 1949
On Kyushu, Kagoshima is struck by a 40 kiloton atomic bomb in another B-34 raid following massive conventional bombardment of anti-aircraft defenses in the area. In a scene that is grim, but now all too common in Japan, much of the city is destroyed; hundreds of thousands are dead or wounded.
The Battle of Okinawa rages on. U.S. Marines, with the help of massive air support and three more atomic blasts over the past three days, have slogged across muddy terrain and have largely secured the center of the island, landing with 5 divisions around Hogushi and rapidly pushing north, east, and south. Although U.S. forces have seized most of the center of the island, many pockets of Japanese resistance remain determined to fight to the death. After an initial surge, U.S. forces have now been stalled by strong Japanese defensive lines in the north and south where independent Japanese commands still hold strong positions and intend to hold out as long as possible. The civilian population, largely concentrated in the south of the island, is suffering greatly and have largely fled inside massive bomb shelters and tunnels dispersed around the towns.
Off the coast of Okinawa the fierce battle at sea continues, with Japanese submarines attempting with little success to disrupt the U.S. fleet's lines of communication and K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs and conventional aircraft out of Kyushu making intermittent massed attacks. Since the initial landings on August 1st another dozen U.S. vessels, ranging from supply ships to destroyers and cruisers, have been sunk or heavily damaged, with others more lightly damaged.
August 5th 1949
On the Eastern Front, German infantry backed by heavy tanks and massive artillery and air support continue to press into Minsk, paying dearly for every collapsed house and rubble strewn street corner they seize. Soviet Forces there, resigned to their fate, are determined to fight on as long as human willpower can endure; making Minsk an ongoing nasty wound in the German side. To the east, German forces have slogged another 5 kilometers closer to Leningrad, putting the southwestern outskirts of that city under direct artillery and rocket bombardment. To the South, Smolensk is a death zone for the German Army. German forces have pushed several kilometers on the northern and southern portion of soviet defenses there but have not managed a breakout that would allow an encirclement. Determined to achieve their objectives before the Autumn rains, the German high command commits the last of its heavy reserves. It is "Leningrad und Smolensk, oder Tod" for the German Army.
August 7th 1949
In northeastern China Nationalist forces put Beijing under siege, push back Chinese communist forces across a broad front. Despite these Nationalist gains, communist guerrillas open a widespread guerrilla campaign behind the lines and across many parts of China in general. It is the beginning of the "Time of the Red Terror" in China, a terrible chapter in Chinese history. Communist guerrilla forces, with Soviet backing, have planned in detail for a vicious campaign of total warfare and terrorism that borders on genocidal in its scope and cruelty. Food production is to be attacked with Soviet developed anti-agriculture bio weapons, water supplies are to be poisoned, chemical and bio terrorist attacks launched, amongst all manner of other vicious and cruel terrorist and guerrilla operations.
August 8th 1949
After a series of large, intensely contested, conventional heavy bomber raids and fighter sweeps over the past week around Southern Spain, U.S. B-34 bombers escorted by swarms of carrier jet fighters conduct an atomic attack on Cadiz and two nearby air fields.
At Cadiz, two atomic bombs are detonated 500 feet over the city - targeting the Axis Naval Command Base and the port facilities. Cadiz is mostly wiped off the map, and over half of its population is killed and many of the rest injured. Axis naval infrastructure, both administrative and the naval facilities themselves, are completely wiped out along with much of the Axis's Unified Naval Command leadership. Some do survive in bunkers, but for all intents and purposes the heart of the Axis Naval Command has been torn out and Cadiz rendered useless as a center of naval power or a center of anything else for that matter.
In the same attack, two airfields in the region around Cadiz are destroyed by atomic bombs, though many of their aircraft were airborne at the time and simply move to other air fields. Overall, Axis naval power on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain has been dealt a fatal blow and air power has been dealt a harsh but not quite crippling blow.The only good news for the Axis is that there were no significant warships in the port at the time since the Axis had already withdrawn their naval assets into the western Mediterranean
August 9th 1949
In a joint Anglo-American broadcast directed at Spain, the U.S. and British demand that Spain surrender, hinting darkly that Madrid isn't that far north of Cadiz and that Spain would be "well advised to seriously consider its national interests". In a recently completed bunker beneath Madrid, Franco has been engaged in intense meetings with his most trusted allies. Above, in the streets of the Spanish capitol, the mood is somber. There is anger at the "massacre of Cadiz", but more than that there is fear of what city may be next.
Fearing that Spain may be wavering, Hitler orders the Luftwaffe to "defend Spain as if she were the Fatherland". The Luftwaffe's high leadership, looking at maps showing active theatres on all sides of the Reich, have difficult choices to make. Increasing assets in Spain will mean decreasing them somewhere else. But where to draw these assets from? From Baku, with its vital oil fields? From the Eastern front where the war may hang in the balance? From the Fatherland itself where the German people lay under the shadow of nuclear destruction? From Rommel's valiant forces struggling for control of North Africa? From the Channel Front where the RAF grows more bold with its fighter sweeps and bomber streams by the week?
August 11th 1949
The extensive use of nerve and mustard gas by the Japanese on Okinawa has proven to be quite effective against U.S. forces in the oppressive summer heat. Despite this, and despite the loss of many tanks to Japanese anti-tank rockets(Nicknamed 'Yellow Bazookas' by U.S. forces), U.S. Marines have crushed the last pockets of resistance on the island's mid regions and have consolidated their positions in the face of fierce Japanese counter attacks in the north and south. U.S. naval and air bombardment of the Japanese held north and south is perhaps the most intense the world has ever seen although there have been no new atomic attacks since August 3rd. Japanese use of their kamikaze rockets has fallen off sharply although U.S. intelligence cannot determine if this is due to them all being used, them being destroyed, or the Japanese hoarding them for future use. Conventional air attacks from Kyushu have been a daily occurrence despite brutal losses suffered by the Japanese. Since August 5th conventional Japanese air attacks and sporadic kamikaze rocket attacks have only managed to sink another three destroyers, a cruiser, and two transports; with half a dozen other vessels sustaining light to moderate damage, including one U.S. carrier that is forced to steam for the Philippines after a lucky level bomber manages to deliver a bomb to her flight deck.
[* The Japanese anti-tank rocket mentioned above is based on an ATL 1945 German design that is very similar to German anti-tank rockets from OTL sirca 44'-45' *]
August 11th 1949
A huge U.S. convoy, having suffered the loss of only several merchant ships to prowling German submarines in the cold harsh waters of the north, reaches Murmansk - delivering vast amounts of supplies for the sagging Soviet war effort. These supplies include fuel, radar guided anti-aircraft equipment, jet engines for the jet airframes being churned out east of the Urals, spare parts, and other critical supplies. Some of this material is destined to head straight for the front to Leningrad and Smolensk, or east to feed the hungry Soviet industrial complex out beyond the Urals.
After pausing for nearly a week to consolidate and bring up reserves, the German pushes on Minsk, Leningrad, and Smolensk resume with massive conventional and nerve gas artillery and rocket bombardments. A surprise surge of Red Airforce fighters partially disrupts German carpet bombing efforts although Luftwaffe fighters take advantage of this by scoring dozens and dozens of kills. Southwest of Leningrad the battle almost resembles the western front circa 1918, with German infantry infiltrating forward into the massive belt of Soviet defensive works there. At Smolensk, however, there is little resemblance to the Great War as an epic clash of armor occurs south of the city. Both sides lose many dozens of tanks, but by the late afternoon German mechanized infantry are pouring through a gap exposed in the Soviet lines.
August 13th 1949
With Smolensk rapidly being enveloped by the German breakout to the south, the Red Army has no choice but to begin pulling out of the strategic city. The Soviet Union cannot afford to sacrifice another entire army to serve as a wound in the side of the Germans as happened at Minsk. Encouraged by the early signs of the soviet pull-out, the German army smashes forward to the north of Smolensk, severely pressuring Soviet forces tasked with holding that flank until Smolensk can be evacuated.
Further north Leningrad is proving a harder nut to crack. German forces are now 17 kilometers due southwest of the city but have not made much progress in their efforts to push around the city to encircle it. With most German armor committed further to the South, the front here is not fluid.
August 14th 1949
German forces now control half of Minsk and the ragtag Red Army forces there are starving and desperately short of ammunition; yet 125,000 of them fight on.
At Smolensk the orderly Soviet withdrawal is degenerating into a route as German forces surge ahead on the city's northern flank and German forces from the southern breakout begin to fan out east of the city. With German artillery and bombers pummelling the remaining soviet evacuation route the Red Army repeats a chaotic scene that they've seen too many times before over the past decade - hundreds of thousands of men fleeing for their lives through a narrow corridor of death.
August 15th 1949
In South America, a tense peace reigns. Despite growing ODAS support for rebels in Bolivia, the SAFB continues to maintain a cautious approach, not wanting to anger the nuclear-armed United States. Both the ODAS and SAFB have been engaged in an arms race for some time, and south America is now heavily armed and fortified. Argentina, the most powerful of the SAFB nations, now has a large professional army, navy, and air force equipped largely with early 40's era German weapons and equipment manufactured on license by its young but booming arms industry. Chile and Brazil, the two largest ODAS South American nations, are relatively well armed with reliable but obsolete surplus U.S. equipment but they have not quite achieved the professionalism and level of training in their armies that Argentina has managed to attain.
Formally, Britain is at war with Argentina and by extension the SAFB as a whole - but there has been little action since a series of British air raids on Argentina earlier in the war and some trade even continues between the two under the table. Britain seems content to leave Argentina alone as long it refrains from allowing German submarines to base or resupply there; this fragile truce has held for several years now. South America's economy in general has been booming for a decade as all sides in the Global War desperately need the raw materials and goods that South America can provide. Undoubtedly this economic success is another reason that outright war has not yet erupted here.
The wild cards of South America are Columbia and Venezuela, still very neutral and quite happy to listen to diplomats and business men from all sides
TO BE CONTINUED...