The bleak position the Axis powers and the Shah in particular faced at the outset of December could only mean for a total strategic rethink, and despite their successes, the Allied war machine too appeared to need to take stock of the situation, offering a month of respite and reorganization.
The immediate situation in Iran was the reclamation of lost provinces in the south. With Majid Firooz’s unexpectedly engaged by the trickster Pajari, it was clear a concerted effort was desperately needed, and the Iranian forces were reassigned to undertake a large scale plan to cut off British supply lines before crushing them with superior numbers. The Shah also made the difficult decision of delaying industrial development to increase the production of armaments for the People’s Militia, meaning during mid-February the Iranian forces would be bolstered by 2 divisions of militia, one with an attached brigade of anti-tank infantry.
During the middle of the month, the Italian campaign in France had begun to settle into a grinding stalemate, with Italian forces organizing themselves to hold the bottom quarter of the French homeland in the hope fresh forces or the probable German offensive would offset the balance of power. The Reich itself had made the odd decision of attacking the cold forbidding lands of Finland in the bitter month, perhaps hoping to capitalize on Finnish complacency in not expecting an attack during the difficult winter.
While Iran maneuvered itself into new positions, British forces in the south continued seizing territory, taking the provinces of Jahrom and Khash. Cavalry forces under Majid Firooz however countered, recapturing Estaban on the 26th, before racing towards Bander-e ‘Abbas, to take the vital port and cut off one of Britain’s supply lines, accomplishing this most important of tasks in the evening of December 29th. Coupled with this, and the surprise news that Industrial Production had taken an unexpected early leap ahead, the Shah entered the new year buoyed by the possibility that the troubles of the previous year were behind him with new opportunities ahead…
Woken abruptly during the early hours of the New Year, the Shah’s optimism was dashed almost as quickly as it came; a 9,000 strong British division under Maj. General Collett had been sited en route to Bander-e ‘Abbas and would reach it within hours. With only a few days preparation and inferior numbers and equipment, the best they could hope for from Majid Firooz was a delaying action while the rest of the army ponderously maneuvered into position via the slow foreboding tracts of Persia’s southern deserts. Furthermore, both Sweden and Greece had joined the Allied cause in the early hours of the morning.
The next two weeks were spent in a frustrating war room; hourly war reports trickling in loose information about steadily declining loses and minimal progress by other divisions. In Europe, the German invasion of Finland began looking increasingly precarious, while despite a resurgence in France, Italy was clearly beginning to lose more and more land in the colonies, including provinces in Somalia and Ethiopia, while Greece began to move on Italian possessions in Albania. Victory in France was urgently needed to begin addressing the balance of power in Africa.
On January 14th, Majid Firooz was ordered to withdraw, despite a valiant effort by the increasingly competent general, while the division under Pajari began moving to intercept the main avenue of approach of the main force by seizing Bam. The next day, British armour is spotted en route from India; yet another headache for the Shah to bear.
Just over a week later, Majid Firooz rapidly regained organizational coherency, speeding off through British held Sirjan and Kerman to link up with the main force, and by the end of the month, his determined resilience had put them back in Iranian hands – but for how long with a British armoured division en route?