Shattered World - Micro Segment 55.5.2
November 13th 1949 to November 17th 1949
"No No No No No!" Hitler shouted, spittle spraying out from the visibly enraged Fuhrer's lips as fists weakly pounded the conference table. The senior members of the general staff eyed each other in frustration, but none spoke. The leader of the Reich was visibly declining, his thoughts and orders becoming increasingly irrational in recent months, his skin increasingly pale, and his body noticeably whithered since the previous year. Rumors of ill health and drug use swirled around Berlin though nowhere where the Gestapo or SS might overhear. Yet, he remained the Fuhrer and the Germany Army prided itself for its stalwart loyalty. It was a matter of honor. Gathering himself, Hitler continued.
"I already made a critical exception in releasing the VX gas stocks for use in North Africa, I will not make another" Hitler said, his voice lower as he struggled to constrain himself before continung.
"We must continue to punish the British if their American masters continue to pummel us with these atomic attacks! And to do this we need that VX. No, you must make do with sarin. Move missiles into range for precise attacks, and then hammer the Americans!" Hitler said, his voice rising to a high pitched crescendo as he gestured violently towards the Canary island chain on the western edge of the detailed map.
"The Americans are soft, their soldiers mere mongrel peasants. We shall strike them in their island bases, and we shall smash them right back into the sea when they finally decide to risk direct confrontation with my Reich!" Hitler nearly shouted, his tone leaving no room for compromise on his decision. A moment of silence hung thick in the air as Hitler eyed his generals.
"Yes, my Fuhrer. Heil Hitler!" the assembled command staff said, snapping off sharp Hitler salutes before exiting the room. Privately, more than a few of them would grumble at the Fuhrer's stubbornness and grieve at the lost opportunity to hit the American assembly areas on the Canaries with VX.
"This is the BBC, world news report, broadcasting live from London on this the 13th of November, nineteen hundred and forty nine".
"Reports from across the northern hemisphere continue to point to a very brutal winter this year, perhaps the worst since accurate record keeping began in the nineteenth century. In Russia, where the temperatures have dipped to those usually not seen until mid-December, clear skies, solid frozen ground, and reports of German troop movements have raised fears of an Axis winter offensive despite the bitter cold. Worse, in a potentially disastrous bit of news for the allied cause, vital ports from northeastern Canada to northwestern Russia have been closed or severely hampered by heavy, and unusually early, ice flows. Even Murmansk, typically ice free year round, has experienced some ice difficulties in addition to the growing destruction from increasingly frequent German bombing raids on the vitally strategic port".
"In other news, the American naval offensive at Gibraltar continues to make steady progress despite losses described as 'heavy' by U.S. Atlantic Fleet personnel. In the words of U.S. Admiral Johnston, 'we continue to pound the enemy and expect to gain possession of the straights in a matter of days'".
"We take you now live to the U.S.S. Lincoln somewhere near the action at the straights".....
"Good afternoon, this is Walter Cronkite, reporting from the deck of the massive U.S. fleet carrier Abraham Lincoln. As you can no doubt hear over the sound of my voice, U.S. jet aircraft have been taking off and landing on the carrier deck continously for the past several days as intense combat operations continue in what the U.S. navy is calling 'Operation Avalanche'. Only several hours previous, I was witness to the heroic action of the proud crew of this mighty ship as radar-directed AAA filled the skies for more than twenty minutes and jets surged into the sky. Not long after, tragic reports of the loss of the U.S.S. Essex were confirmed. By all accounts several Nazi guided rockets struck the Lincoln's slightly smaller sister, igniting her magazine and sinking the ship rapidly with the loss of all hands, some 2,600 souls. Despite this grave loss, navy officials remain confident and report additional successes since the overwhelming victory at what the sailors are already calling 'The Battle of the Pillars'"....
"Thank you, Mr. Cronkite. Due to naval news restrictions, our brief live air time from the deck of the Lincoln has ended. We expect to receive more reports from Mr. Cronkite in the coming hours as events unfold. In other news...."
November 13th 1949
In the largest single concentrated naval air attack of the war in the Atlantic, nearly 100 German maritime strike aircraft approach through swarms of U.S. carrier jet fighters. Nearly a third of the strike aircraft, escorted only by long range prop fighters operating out of southern France, are downed before they can launch their rockets. The rest, some sixty in all, launch a salvo of some 240 second generation guided anti-ship rockets. The U.S.S Essex and several nearby escort destroyers and cruisers are sunk while another two carriers, a heavy cruiser, and nearly a dozen destroyers suffer moderate to heavy damage. The Axis pay a heavy cost for the devastating strike, losing another third of the maritime strike bombers and over fifty prop escorts to vengeful American fighters. The loss of nearly 2/3 of the attacking naval strike force is a stunning loss for the Axis, representing the loss of a significant percentage of their remaining maritime strike capability in the theatre.
Meanwhile, in Libya intense fighting continues as operation 'Orange Fire' continues to unfold. While the air battle, bombing, and ballistic missile attacks continue; Italian forces remain bogged down along the coast south of Benghazi while to the east Field Marshall Gustov's complex plan has led to confused and chaotic fighting. Gustov's main armored thrust has entered into a third day of intense armored clashes with a larger British armored division. However, Gustov's helicopter mobile infantry force(landed behind the British armored division the day before) has thrown the British into confusion and interupted their lines of communication while a German mechanized calvalry force races east and north around the British flank. In northern Libya, German paratroopers continue to hold out against desperate British attempts to re-open east-west lines of communication along the coastal plain.
Of particular note - the desert fighting in the Cyrenaica has seen the first widespread use of effective infra-red night vision equipment by German armored forces - something that is a key component of Gustov's plan. Poorly equipped for night fighting, and kept off balance and on their heels by the tenacious German operational tempo, the British command has been frustatingly unable to bring their superior numbers and firepower to bear on the smaller, but more mobile, German force.