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Operation WESERÜBUNG 5: Allied Riposte & Epilogue

History as Game by the ETO Development Team

This is the fifth and final part of an extended example of play demonstrating the German invasions of Denmark and Norway in 1940 using Frank Chadwick's ETO's stand-alone Volume IV (Northern Fire) rules. Don't be surprised to find rules reference numbers, as this article is crafted from the rules book itself, and the illustrations are of our current playtest graphics, not the final ones for the series!

The previous installment shows the initial German's second turn as they advance across Norway.

Norway: the Northern Invasion

Allied Player Turn, April III ‘40:

Allied Supply Step: The Allied player flips the Out of Supply marker to an Isolated marker German SS UFlotte [2] in the North Sea Zone. And the Axis remain aware that the Allies hold the Submarine vs. Surface technology advantage, which reduces their Submarine Surface Attack NAVs by one each!

Apply New Weather Step:

The West Europe Theater is changed from Storms at Sea to Fair; the Arctic Theater is changed from Storms at Sea to Extreme Cold.

Allied Repair & Recovery Step:

Countdown markers repair first.

  • The UK Operational HQ marker [NWEF] at Harstad improves to -2.

Aircraft Maintenance is next.

  • The Allied recover the Hampden Bomber and Hudson Naval Patrol Air units in the West Europe Flown box; they move to the West Europe Available box.

Then Naval Maintenance occurs.

  • The UK CL Sqdn [18] at Edinburgh/Rosyth Refits; it flips back to show its Ready side.

  • The UK BC Renown at Scapa Flow awaits Repair.

  • The Norwegian MS [1] unit that fled from Bergen to Edinburgh/Rosyth awaits Repair.

Opponent’s Rush Recovery Segment: Finally, the Opponent’s Rush recovery happens. The Axis pass because they have no FPs in the Arctic Theater.

OOB Changes Segment: The following Reinforcements appear in Scapa Flow, Ready.

  • 2 x UK CVs [Ark Royal, Glorious]

The following Reinforcement appears in Edinburgh/Rosyth, Ready.

  • 1 x French 1-2-4 Mtn. Division [1 LCh]

Allied HQ Mode Segment: The UK Operational (Wilderness) HQ [NWEF] is Stressed due to the Extreme Cold weather in the Arctic Theater.

Allied Free Stuff Segment: The Allied die roll of 4 (+2 DRM because a friendly Ground unit is in an enemy Major nation’s EZOC) = 6. As 6<7+, the Allies do not receive a Free Stuff this turn.

Allied Special Movement Phase:

Allied Navies:

  • Harstad: [Convoy TF] UK PL [1] sails from Harstad to the Norwegian Sea and then to the North Sea Zone.

  • ­­Scapa Flow: [Patrol TF] UK CL Sqdn [18] in Edinburgh/Rosyth embarks French 1-2-4 Mtn. Division [1 LCh] and sails to the North Sea and then to the Norwegian Sea Zone.

  • Scapa Flow: [Patrol TF] UK CVs [Ark Royal, Glorious] sail from Scapa Flow to the North Sea and then to the Norwegian Sea Zone.

  • Andalsnes: UK CL Sqdn [2] remains in port. The Allied thinking is that they might have to pull out UK 1-3 2nd Line Inf. Division [49/Sickle] from Andalsnes soon, and having this Warship Transport at the ready seems prudent.

UK Air Force: Flying from the West Europe Available box, the (M) Range Hudson flies from Scapa Flow to the North Sea Zone, hoping to find the German U-boat unit there.

Allied Armies:

  • 1-4 Norwegian Mtn. Inf. Division [Finmark] moves southwest one hex to the hex between Alta and Lakselv.

How can it move there? It would cost 2 (for a Mountain unit) +1 (for Extreme Cold) to enter that Tundra hex, and that unit has only half movement (a Leg unit during Special Movement). How can a unit with 2 Movement Points enter a hex that costs 3? Is that a legitimate move?

Yes, it is. “Unless otherwise prohibited, Ground units having a spendable Movement Allowance can always move one hex even if it lacks sufficient Movement Points to enter it.” Wargamers know this as the “one hex regardless” rule.

Axis Reaction Step: With no Luftwaffe Air unit in the Arctic Available box, the Axis player examines the Kriegsmarine’s Naval units for those that might Intercept into the North Sea. Only the CR Hipper in Wilhelmshaven and M Schlesien in Kiel are Ready. Still, they are too far distant (at two moves away via the Heligoland Bight), while the BCs Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are also in Wilhelmshaven awaiting Repair.

Hitler, displeased but understanding the situation, gives a stink-eye look at his meeting with Raeder and Goering over their respective branch’s lamentable state in this operation.

The Axis player declares there will be no Intercept units coming to the rescue of SSUFlotte [2] in the North Sea Zone.

Allied Naval Resolution Step:

The North Sea: UK Hudson Naval Bomber, UK Home Fleet HQ NBR marker, and [Convoy TF] UK PL [1] vs. [Submarine TF] SS UFlotte [2], Isolated.

Search Value = 2, +1 (UK Home Fleet HQ NBR marker), +1 (Allied Convoy TF), +1 (UK Naval Air Support’s choice, hunting), -1 (German Submarine TF’s choice hoping to avoid detection). Final Search Value = 4. The Axis player rolls a 1 for a General Engagement.

  • There is no Air Segment. It is skipped as the Axis have no Air units to contest or attack, nor Surface Warship units present for the Allies to attack.

  • During the AerialASW Segment, the UK Hudson has one ASW icon, +1 for Naval Air Support, so its NAV = 2. A roll of 3 is a Miss.

The Hudson flies back to the West Europe Theater Flown box, Ready.

  • During the Surface ASW Segment (434.2), the UK Home Fleet HQ NBR marker also has one ASW icon, +1 for Naval Air Support, so its NAV = 2. A roll of 5 is another Miss.

  • Also, during the Surface ASW Segment, the UK PL [1] unit also attacks. Only one Surface unit ASW can attack the one opposing Submarine unit. It has two ASW icons, +1 for Naval Air Support, so its NAV = 3. Another roll of 5 is another Miss.

  • During the Submarine Attacks Segment, SS UFlotte [2] “fires its shot” with its NAV = 2, -1 (Allied U-boat Attack tech advantage; Final NAV = 1. A roll of 4 is a Miss; it receives a Must Retire marker.

Some Naval Engagements are like The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

  • There is no Surface Combat as only one side has any Surface Warship units.

  • In the Abbreviated Aftermath, German SS UFlotte [2], Isolated, Retries (because it “Fired its Shot”) and Makes Harbor at Kiel where it Docks and, because it has a Supply marker, it is flipped to show its Depleted side and must Refit. Note that conducting ASW attacks does not “Fire the Shot” of Naval units doing so.

New Weather Step: The forecast weather for West Europe will change it from Fair to Muck while the Arctic Theater is Time-Locked and so remains Extreme Cold (not that it means much in a Time-Locked Theater).

Allied Regular Movement Phase:

Allied Navies:

  • The North Sea: Making Harbor (420.5) at Scapa Flow is UK PL [1], Ready.

  • Norwegian Sea: Making Harbor (420.5) at Harstad is UK CL Sqdn [18].

  • Scapa Flow: UK PL [1] makes harbor at Scapa Flow.

Allied Armies:

  • The French 1-2-4 Mtn. Division [1 LCh] disembarks from UK CL Sqdn [18] in Harstad and moves one hex southeast, adjacent to Narvik.

  • 1-4 Norwegian Mtn. Inf. Division [Finmark] moves west two hexes along the road to the hex west of Alta. Even along the Road, the Extreme Cold weather costs +1 Movement Point per hex, so this is as far as it can move.

  • 1-4 Norwegian Mtn. Inf. Division [2] moves one hex north to Storen. The Allied units in this area are stretched thin. Their ZOCs are barely holding the door closed on their port at Andalsnes. This Norwegian Inf. Division is in a vulnerable position when the Arctic Theater reopens for business on the May I turn, but its sacrifice will buy the Allies one more turn to arrange an attack to the north at Narvik.

  • 1-3 2nd Line Inf. Division [49/Sickle] moves one hex to the northwest into the Mountain hex south of Lesia.

Allied Here & There Step: Checking Sea Zone Interdiction:

  • The Norwegian Sea Zone changes its status from Uninterdicted to Allied Interdicted. [Patrol TF] UK CVs [Ark Royal, Glorious] is in exclusive possession of that Sea Zone at this time.

  • All other Sea Zones in play remain Uninterdicted.

Operation Weserübung Epilogue:

​From this point, operations in Norway continued at a slower tempo due to the campaign opening against France and the Low Countries. The looming French campaign has already shown itself in the quick withdrawal of the German Airborne unit and further by the withdrawal of most of the Luftwaffe in early May. For the Allies, the rapidly deteriorating situation in France first choked off further Allied reinforcements (i.e., two additional French Mountain Divisions had been assigned to the Norway campaign but never arrived). It ultimately forced a complete Allied withdrawal when the situation in France became catastrophic.

In outline, the German drive up the central Norwegian valleys shattered the remaining Allied resistance, resulting in the forced evacuation of the surviving British troops from Namsos and Andalsnes by the end of the May I turn. The rest of May was taken up with a German drive north from Trondheim to Mo. Meanwhile, Allied forces in the Narvik area tightened their siege lines and built up enough strength for a final assault on the port. Allied naval action in the Norwegian Sea continued, although both the Cruiser and Battleship strength of the Royal Navy dwindled due to withdrawals to meet other emergencies.

Nevertheless, in ETO terms, 1) the Royal Navy kept the Norwegian Sea interdicted, and 2) a single ground unit with its ZOC extending southwest of Narvik would be enough to ensure the German troops there were out of supply. Although the Germans in Narvik could still trace an NLoC through its Minor Port, they could not trace supply through the enemy-Interdicted Norwegian Sea Zone or overland (if the Germans brought up their HQ marker) through an EZOC across the neck of Norway.

The Allied assault on Narvik came in the early days of June, supported by the finally-functioning UK Operational HQ in Attack mode, naval (red Bolt) gunfire, and carrier aircraft (blue Bolt) support. Although the Germans were forced back from the port, they managed to hold the mountainous terrain near the Swedish border and avoid destruction or internment. In ETO terms, this outcome could be considered either an NE a DP result with the Germans electing to retreat two hexes south of Narvik (risking Isolation). Afterward, the Allies withdrew on the June II turn, declaring a Norwegian Government in Exile as matters in France were falling apart.

The final postscript to the campaign came with a sortie of the now-repaired German BBs Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, accompanied by CR Hipper, on the June II turn. The remaining British Battleships had withdrawn to Scapa Flow to refit, leaving the screening of the evacuation of Allied ground forces to their Heavy Cruisers (UK CA Sqdn [1]). Protecting them were their Submarines (UK SS Flotilla [1]) and two Aircraft Carriers (CVs Glorious and Ark Royal). In ETO terms, the brief naval encounter’s result was the sinking of the UK CV Glorious and damaging the German BB Scharnhorst (it would make harbor and need to Repair). When the German BB Gneisenau sortied again on the following (June III) turn, it encountered only the British submarines (UK SS Flotilla [1]) and was seriously damaged (two confirmed Hits!). Thus, by the end of June, the Kriegsmarine has the CR Hipper and a single Light Cruiser Squadron (CL Sqdn [2]) as their only operational Surface Warship units. A very slender force indeed with which to invade Britain!

Norway in ETO: Developers Notes

It is always tough to know where to draw the line in these recreations of historical campaigns, but I think these are the most important points to look for:

  1. Does the campaign itself make sense in game terms? That is, would a sensible player even consider embarking on it?

  2. Can the player duplicate the outline of the campaign and have a reasonable chance of getting historic results with the game's equivalent of the actual assets committed?

  3. Does the general course of the game campaign follow that of the historic one?

  4. Do the two sides have a realistic chance of coming out of the campaign with their approximate historic losses?

Considering this is a Corps/Army level game covering the entire war across the entire European landmass, if we get the above stuff about right for the German invasion of Norway, we’re doing fine.

Frank Chadwick The key part of the Narvik story is that the Germans were able to get their troops ashore to seize the port, and as long as that comes off, we’re good. Plus, since an MS unit represents far more shipping than the total tonnage lost, the fate of the German MS at Narvik itself is kind of irrelevant to the tale. Lance McMillan I also agree that the destruction of the German Destroyers is something that is largely below the scale of the game.

The naval actions at Narvik were very interesting but what was important strategically was who controlled the port and who controlled access to it. The example has that right. Destruction of units is always a rough abstraction. Robert Lloyd

This concludes our look at the German invasion of Norway 1940 in Frank Chadwick's ETO. The entire series is linked here:

And the complete ETO site is available by clicking on the box below:

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