A Devastating Alternate Second World War

December 03, 2008

Shattered World - Segment 55.1

Shattered World - Segment 55.1.1(revised)

October 6th 1949 to October 13th 1949

October 6th 1949

British and American heavy bombers operating from the Canaries and the middle east hammer Tunis and Tripoli in large conventional strikes that significantly set back Axis repair efforts on the critical strategic harbors there. Alliance bomber losses are heavy in the unescorted raids.

At the same time that the large conventional raids are hitting Tunis
and Tripoli, another smaller raid approaches the Tunisian port city of
Bizerte which has become an important port and naval base for the Axis
after the atomic attacks on Tunis and Tripoli. This smaller raid,
approaching from out of the Sahara, consists of a dozen B-31 bombers
and their long ranged fighter escorts operating from British-held Libya. One of the B-31's
carries a 24 kiloton British atomic bomb. However, the Germans have
been watching and waiting for just such a small, escorted, heavy bomber raid and a
swarm of Axis interceptors of all types meet this small force
head on. Despite the desperate efforts of the British escort fighters,
5 of the 12 B-31 bombers are shot down and the rest are forced to turn
back. One of the downed bombers had been carrying the lone atomic bomb.
When the stricken bomber descends below 2000 feet in a dead spiral the
atomic bomb detonates over the barren terrain of southern Tunisia,
killing several hundred extremely unlucky villagers.For the first time in history, an atomic bomber has been lost in action with its payload. It is a heavy blow for the British, who are still struggling to produce one atomic bomb every 4 to 6 weeks. As news of the shoot down
speeds around the world, the SBC convenes a top level meeting at the
Pentagon. By order of the president, all use of atomic weapons is
suspended until such time that the procedures for atomic bomber shoot
downs can be reviewed.

October 8th 1949

Except for a few locations, Nationalist Chinese forces have succeeded in
driving the communists out of China proper and into Soviet-dominated
Manchuria. However, the fighting in China is far from over. Communist
guerrillas infest China from the interior to the coast, and the Chinese
communist regime itself lives on from an extensive network of bases on
the communist Manchurian side of the border.

October 9th 1949

With German paratroopers and Marines now arriving in direct support of the
Finnish rebellion, and Red Army forces there little more than a
skeleton garrison, the Soviets have no choice to retreat. Soviet forces
in southern Finland begin withdrawing to the defensive fortifications
north of Leningrad while those further north head east to the old
Soviet-Finnish border where they'll man aging pre-war defensive
positions. As estatic Finnish citizens celebrate in liberated Helsinki,
the German-dominated Finnish government-in-exil prepares to re-assume
power as an Axis nation.

In Casa Blanca, covert American diplomatic agents and Free French
officials conclude a lengthy series of negotations underway for several
weeks and sign a highly secretive agreement that will bring Free France
back into the war on the side of the Alliance. In exchange for
significant monetary and military assistance, Free France agrees to
declare war on the Axis Powers at a date to be determined by the U.S.
and to allow U.S. forces to enter Free France and make use of all Free
French facilities and infrastructure. The war in North Africa will soon
be getting more complicated for the Axis.

October 11th 1949

In the southern Ukraine, minor Axis forces continue to move largely
unnoposed towards Rostov, isolating and capturing tens of thousands of
Soviet soldiers along the way. Hungarian and Italian armor is now east
of Mariupol, advancing along the Black Sea coast with only the mud and
lengthening lines of supply slowing them down.

To the north, in the central Ukraine, hundreds
of thousands of Soviet soldiers continue to slog east in a bid to
escape the growing disaster that the Ukraine has become for the Red
Army. However, advance German forces have managed to reach the Dnepr
river at several points northwest of Kremenchug, blocking the escape
route for the 150,000 Soviet soldiers still in the central Ukraine. The
'Kiev pocket' now extends from Kiev itself in the north to 35km
northwest of Kremenchug in the south. Further east, the 250,000 Soviet
soldiers east of the German pincer of continue to flee on foot towards
Russia itself, their heavy equipment long since abandoned. The
worsening mud and overly stretched logistics is all that is stopping
German pincers from pocketing the entire Soviet exodus.

October 13th 1949

After another week of heavy and confused fighting in many of Chile's larger
cities, leftists and anti-Junta elements come out on top across
northern Chile and in the extreme south, aided by labor organizations
and defecting army units. The left-centrist coalition declares La
Serena as its provisional capitol, and begins seeking international
recognition as the legitimate government of Chile. The Alliance and
ODAS nations quickly recognize this government, while the SAFB and Axis
loudly condemn them as rebels and "communist pests". With both sides
consolidating power in the regions where they hold sway, the lines seem
set for a Chilean civil war.

At San Diego, the brand new Essex class carrier 'Gettysburg' quietly
begins steaming south with frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and
submarines in escort. Meanwhile, late in the day the SAFB formally
offers membership to the Chilean military government of Santiago. The
Junta remains silent on the offer, still hoping to crush the "rebels"
without outside assistance. In a strongly worded joint statement, the
ODAS openly threatens war if the SAFB interferes in the "internal
affairs of Chile".

Sergei Baryshnikov inhaled deeply from his cigarette, huddling under his harsh
woolen blanket and staring in awe at the spectacular sunrise
manifesting to the east. As a boy on a small farm east of the Urals,
Sergei had seen many sunsets but this was by far the most stunning. It
seemed that every color in the rainbow was visible to one degree or
another, and the mildly cloudy sky was alive like a multicolored flame
licking down from the heavens. It was almost enough to make him forget
about the war, or the intense cold that had him shivering under two layers of clothes and filthy blanket.

It was the coldest October that anyone could remember. It had already snowed twice, a white blanket still veiled the open field that loomed off to the west. Somewhere over there
were Germans, probably huddling in the cold and admiring the sunrise as
he was.
Despite the cold, despite the beautiful sunrise, the war did not relent.

Shells burst somewhere far to the north, then another salvo of artillery
shrieked overhead to explode somewhere to the east. Gas alarms followed
that barrage, and Sergei and the other exhausted men around him donned
the chemical warfare gear with a steady, plodding, efficiency that
spoke of too much experience with the deadly German gas.

Luftwaffe and Red Airforce planes clashed overhead, and he watched the specks above circle each other and draw trails across the sky with the sort of detached observation he
might have given to birds of prey engaged in a mating ritual. In a life
that now seemed almost unreal, Sergei had delighted in watching
birds through the old field glasses his retired Russian Army father had
handed down to him before passing away one cold Russian night some
decades before. Now Sergei delighted in very little, and thought of life before the war very rarely if at all. Then the war came home once again, as it did inevitably.

"Panzers!" a gnarled old Sergeant called out. "And infantry with them, get ready Comrades!". There was little else to say. This unit was as veterean as they came, having
started the current war riding west in trucks during the initial heady
days of the offensive towards Minsk and now entrenched on the defensive
lines hundreds of miles east of where that optimistic offensive had
begun. Behind them was Leningrad. Sergei risked a quick glance over the
heaped dirt that constituted the top of the trench that he was
sheltered in. The panzers were Cougar I's, late model, the type the
Germans liked to attach to mechanized infantry to give them extra
punching power.

Even as Sergi recognized the type, rockets lanced out from the Soviet lines to strike at the advancing Panzers. The weapons, simple unguided models churned out in countless numbers
east of the Urals, were not very effective against the frontal plate
armor of a Cougar I, but sometimes if you launched enough of them
you got lucky. One Panzer did begin spewing smoke, and as the hatch
opened and the crew began to tumble out Sergei and other Soviet
soldiers coldly gunned them down one by one. Infantry across the world had no love for tank crews.

Undaunted, the rest of the Panzers rumbled forward. German infantry fanned out ahead of them, and mortars began impacting up and down the Soviet line. Rifle fire, both aimed
single shots and the contnious bangbangbangbang of fully automatic fire
filled the air. Soviet machine guns made viscious chainsaw-like ripping sounds as they sent streams of death zig zagging into the advancing German infantry. The Germans, as always, were competent and relentless. Advancing in leapfrog order, in rushes, taking advantage of all available cover. Some of them fell, most came on. The Panzers followed close behind them, belching forth high explosive rounds to explode with deadly effect on Soviet machine gun nests.

The leading German infantry were within twenty meters of Sergi's trench when artillery shells began exploding directly amongst them, right in the open space in front of the Soviet
line. Whether the bursts were perfectly aimed Soviet ones or errant
German ones he could not tell; but the effect was quite clear. Shrapnel
from the proximity fused shells cut down the German infantry in a wave
that rolled for close to a minute, leaving very few of the German infantry alive or un-harmed. The Panzers, having lost their screen of infantry and coming under intense
rocket fire, were forced to begin reversing back towards their own
line. And then, out of nowhere, one of the Panzers exploded in a
brilliant orange flame that sent its turret flying high into the air,
trailing exploding ammunition.

Then Sergei heard it, the familiar thunder of Soviet high velocity cannons. Several T-48's had broken cover from a clump of Forrest to the north and were now firing well
aimed shots into the exposed side armor of the Panzers. More of the
German armor exploded or began spewing smoke and the rest beat a hasty
German artillery began crashing up and down the Soviet lines, and Sergei
huddled back down at the bottom of the trench. He allowed himself to
smile as he lit up a new cigarette. You took what small breaks you
could, and tried not to think about the next clash. The war came and
went, and men had no choice but to float in the tide. Snow began to
fall again, and Sergei stared up into the lazily falling snow flakes as
they fell in their countless millions against a gray and dreary sky.
The spectacular sunrise was long forgotten but the bitterly cold mid October was not.

TO BE CONTINUED in Segment 55.2...