Chapter 5 – Dreams of the Suez
Operation Sablya, or ‘Sabre’ is put for by the Staff and Planning Office (SPaO). The initial estimates seem to suggest that 2 whole Corps will be required, and arguments at all levels throughout the halls of the SPaO can be heard of how to solve the problem of Crete, seeing as the vast majority of Marines were killed in the Civil War and now less than 2 regiments remain. The end result is that the government directs them to focus on mainland Greece, ignoring Crete.
T-34s are pushed into production, as the switch to heavier armoured formations is a shift directed by the Office of the Tsar, and with Greece being prepared for invasion, the Army readies itself for yet more war.
Rebellion throughout Western Turkey, as well as the Bosphorus is widespread, and has spread to Romania. The Army is too busy fighting in Syria and re-positioning and resting for the incoming invasion of Greece, as such the Tsar orders the Minister of Internal Security to begin looking into solutions to solve the problems being caused by those resisting their new sovereign government.
Talks of popular uprising begin spreading to the Eastern regions of Turkey, as the people of Batumi apparently have grown tired of the Tsar’s new policies. The Okhrana shall soon deal with those that resist the Empire’s directives.
Pliyev’s 3rd continues to drive the French, Turkish, and British forces through Syria. Aleppo falls quickly, and the drive to Damascus begins, as a brief telegram from him to Tchekoslo’s temporary headquarters in Ankara makes it clear that they have the Allied forces in a running battle towards the Suez.
Konev’s armored formations clash with a lone British cavalry brigade, as it attempts to harass and stop its advance.
Operation Zabivat (‘Hammer’) is assigned as Bulgaria’s time as a overseeing nation slowly draws to a close. In a few short months, 3 separate Corps shall assault from 2 fronts, attacking from the Bosphorus, as well as from the former Romanian-Bulgarian border. SPaO puts the success of this invasion in the high 90s when the reports are given in to the Tsar.
The situation along the border is heartening, as reconnaissance overflights determine that Bulgarian strength is extremely low, and that along the border 26 Russian divisions are opposed by half a dozen Bulgarian counterparts, in varying levels of readiness and manning. The Army made no hidden movements, with the overwhelming power about to be unleashed by the Imperial Army the arrogance of the movements is obvious.
And suddenly – from the Okhrana, indications of treachery. Well placed informants and wire intercepts inform the Tsar that Germany is justifying a War Goal against us. The Tsar thinks calmly, and then begins to write furiously, ordering that only his personal military staff remains.
Spies indicate further that the Tsar’s deepest worries are true, that such a close ally could be responsible for such treachery.
Konev and Pliyev work together, and the 2nd and 3rd Corps work to try and pocket the 2 British and 1 Canadian division fighting to hold the desert against the Imperial Army. Damascus and Beirut fell without a shot fired, as the Imperial Engineering Corps cleared minefields in front of the cities. The fighting between Jerusalem and Damascus though is tough, as the Canadians refuse to give ground until the British are surely behind them ready to cover their withdrawal. Pliyev was overheard in his command post damning their resolve.
Sergeant Cherkasov Olegovich, Reconnaisace Company, 33rd Infantry Regiment, 44ya Strelkovaya Division calls in a fire mission on a British anti-tank emplacement during fighting in Syria as his platoon is under fire by Commonwealth artillery.
The Minister of Internal Security assigns 5 Regiments of Okhrana Special Police under the supervision and command of General Grigory Kulik, for the purpose of putting down the numerous revolts. Kulik’s first memorandum is to in turn request 10 more regiments of Special Police to assist in both Romania and Western Turkey.
Italy dwarfs the Spanish contributions to the war thus far, as their African expeditions wind down due to crushing successes against their opponents, they seek to assist with future plans, as they have been informed informally through backdoor government agents of the upcoming plans for the Balkans.
Italy has transformed its African campaigns from just a year prior, retaking massive swaths of land from Britain and the Allies, driving a deep dagger into the colonial possessions of France and Britain. Belgium, yet neutral, enjoys its privileged position in the Congo as it remains untouched by the war.
Overall, the mainland of Europe has firmly been taken hold of by the forces of the Axis, with Russo-German cooperation keeping the British out of the continent and pushing the French into the sea. Smaller nations, such as the Netherlands and Belgium are reluctant to join the war effort, as they have seen the despair of which France and Britain have been placed.
In the East, Japan’s forces have conquered much of China, and their aggressive campaign is rewarded as more and more Chinese forces collapse before their dozens of hardened divisions. 3/4 of a million Chinese troops have been killed thus far, to Japan’s 274,000. The People’s Republic of China alone has 198,000 casualties despite its limited role in the war.
With Operations Sablya and Zabivat coming up quickly, the Tsar orders the research of both mechanized forces, and further down the road improved heavy tanks, the T-44. More modern technology will be the key to winning these wars.
Moskalenko is given command of the 8th Corps. A veteran of the Civil War, he was one of Stalin’s most trusted commanders. However after his regiment was accused of treason by the Soviet pretenders he volunteered to switch back to the Tsar’s side. He fought with distinction for the remainder of the War, as well as Operation Horseman South, where he commanded the 65th Strelkovoya Division. The promotion to Corps command came directly from General Konev himself.
The Tsar’s furious writings are finally disseminated to the Imperial Engineer Corps, as they are ordered to construct the Orel Line, a great defensive work stretching from the Baltics to the Black Sea, aimed at acting as a Maginot Line of Russia’s own, considering recent German aims for Eastward expansion.
Kulik gets his wish, as 5 more regiments of Okhrana constables are sent to Turkey in preparation for the Spring thaw and the Spring revolts.
A surprise naval invasion in Western Turkey surprises Tchekoslo, and he quickly sends the 9th Corps, earmarked for the invasion of Bulgaria to throw the Australians and British back into the sea. The lone Spanish division still fighting in Turkey begins to engage the British forces attempting to make their way off the beachhead.
Seeing as the increased amount of military production and research has swamped the scientists, architects, and engineers of the Empire, the Prime Minister begins a directive to make it easier to research and go forward with non-military works, and appoints the Stalingrad Tractor Factory to begin its work researching for the government with regards to civilian agriculture.
The Okhrana quickly target the most suspect areas. Turks are dragged out of their beds at night, suspects rounded up, and put on trial by Special Courts. Those identified as treasonous are hung until dead, or if lucky imprisoned for life and sent to Siberia to serve out their sentence in a Gulag.
Special Constables of the 3rd Okhrana Regiment hang Turkish rebels on the outskirts of Ankara.
Italy offers to send a few tanks to help. The Tsar chuckles and shrugs at the message, leaving the aide to make the decision whether or not a few rivet-heavy vehicles will soon be fielded by Russian armored divisions when T-34s would serve the Empire better.
Apparently Italian gratitude and hospitality only goes so far.
General Kulik sends a report to the Imperial Okhrana Command Group (IOCG), reporting that all Western resistance has been crushed, and all sympathizers send on railcars to Siberia or buried in fields outside their towns. Additionally, 2 regiments are being sent to Batumi to put down the burgeoning rebellion there.
Malinovksy’s 9th Corps smashes the British and Australians, quickly retaking much of the lost ground with minimal resistance.
A telegram from the Ambassador to Japan, Yudin Igorevich brings surprising news, that on New Year’s Day the Chinese formally surrendered to Japan. Although other Chinese elements continue to fight on, one of the largest contributors to the war effort has been destroyed.
Japan’s Imperial holdings now stretch from India to the shores of Hawaii, as they slowly envelop East, West, and South Asia.
Apparently Mussolini’s offer was too generous, as they needed 8 tanks they couldn’t just otherwise make. The Tsar is more irritated that his morning chess game with the Minister of Culture is interrupted for such nonsense than the fact that Italian tracked vehicles won’t be fielded by his divisions.
Japan’s success in China is accompanied by a congratulatory telegram from the Office of the Tsar, and Army officers assigned as observers to learn from the Japanese are withdrawn.
Malinkovsky’s 9th Corps makes a daring assault boat raid to give chase tot he British Tank Brigade that now has tried to flee across the straits off the West Turkish coast.
Work on the Orel Line goes well, as the hardened defences, bunkers, trenches, minefields, and tank obstacles start to be constructed around Warsaw itself.
Japan offers to send some of their divisions to assist us in fighting, and the Tsar accepts, seeing as more combat hardened soldiers is never a thing one can have too much of.
The British have been pushed back to the Gulf of Aqaba, and their hasty defensive of the Gulf of Suez is just that – hasty. Their two beleaguered divisions are faced with 41 of the most veteran and hardened divisions in the entire Army, under two of its best commanders. Tchekoslo calls home Pliyev, to the now more permanent headquarters in Ankara. He outlines Operation Burya (‘Storm’) to seize the Suez Canal. The Office of the Tsar expressed over telegram they never expected the war to progress this far South or this quickly, so Tchekoslo is left to command and control the campaigns from here on out. Pliyev understands, and is flown back to the front the next day.
Pliyev and Konev plan out their invasion. With cooperation from the Italians, they’ll make a concerted effort to flank the British defensive on the Gulf of Suez, with 6 divisions from the 3rd Corps, whilst the remainder of the 2nd and 3rd smash the 2 British Divisions. This complete, the drive to Cairo and Alexandria should result in a success for Operation Burya.
The time has come for Operation Zabivat to move into the opening phases of action.
More steel is requested for import from our German partners, who still on the surface show no signs of deceit or betrayal, with the vast majority of their armies remaining far away from Russia’s sovereign borders.
Operation Zabivat begins, and the Italian Army drives hard for Sofia, with Malinkovsky’s 9th Corps leading the charge Northwards from Turkey as the 8th charges down the Black Sea Coast.
Soldiers and vehicles of the 92nd Infantry Division, 8th Corps drive past dead Bulgarian infantrymen during the first opening days of Operation Zabivat January 30th, 1940.
The Okhrana estimates of Turkish rebellions in the West are apparently wrong as the Bulgarian resistance gives them hope and more outward Turkish patriotism is seen in a rare outpouring of support.
5 new regiments of constables are sent West to deal with the problems as Kulik’s successes thus far have given him a near blank cheque for men and equipment.
The 8th and 9th Corps close in on each other and almost unify the Russian frontline.
A surprise Canadian expedition in Normandy is met with determined German defenses.
Assailed on all sides by Germans, Italians and the Imperial Russian Army Bulgarian defences quickly begin to collapse inwards towards Sofia as they are simply too outnumbered to put up an effective resistance. The Air Force reports that they have total domination of the skies, while on the ground casualty reports are incredulously low.
The city of Varna fell on the first day of combat, and now the 8th and 9th Corps drive to encircle, pocket, and annihilate the few Bulgarian infantry divisions left. Cavalry fight tanks, and Bulgarian infantry by the thousands are vaporized by Malinovsky’s field guns.
In the South, Pliyev’s plan has worked, as the Imperial Engineers ford the Suez Canal, and for the first time Russians have taken control of the most important waterway in the world. The drive on Cairo and Alexandria is determined, with the 3rd Corps taking the lead as the Australian defenders abandon their positions.
A surprise landing by Japanese forces East of El-Alamein catches the Commonwealth defenders off guard, and they are forced to retreat South, rather than West along the coast as aerial photographs had suggested.
Fighting around Plovdiv reaches a fervored pitch as the Bulgarians are pushed back further from their start lines.
The 4th and 6th Armoured Divisions are rushed into the salient on the Greek border, as embattled infantry of the 6th Corps fight desperately to hold the line against the Bulgarians.
The first phase of the Orel line is complete, and months ahead of schedule. The Imperial Engineering Corps is given the highest praise by the Tsar, with a small family stipend being given to every man in uniform involved in constructing the great works.
The Tsar also realizes that the best troops will be needed for garrisoning the German border. He authorizes the creation of a Guards Corps, and veteran soldiers, as well as lightly wounded but discharged soldiers wishing to re-serve are permitted to enter service again. The Corps is also tank-heavy, fielding 2 Guards Armoured Divisions with T-34s.
The 69th Infantry division spearheads a multi-pronged assault to attempt to take Sofia, the Bulgarian capital from the last few divisions defending their territory.
The Tsar decides Romania is desperately lacking in industrial capacity, and orders dozens of new civilian factories to be constructed for the purpose of hardening the war industry in the future.
Just as he is giving these orders – a runner from the Prime Minister’s office informs the Tsar the Bulgarians have capitulated. Surrender is unconditional, and they fully accept the terms set out by the Tsar and his forces. Overjoyed, each division from the front is required to send one company of men back to Moscow, as the victory parade will begin with the first spring thaw and herald in a summer of successful campaigning.