With October’s successes hinting at a subtly precarious situation, can the Axis forces and Iran keep up the pace?
As November’s final hours closed to an end, the Shah fumed as he analyzed the map of the world as it stood; little progress had been made at the expense of much. This had not been a good month.
The grim predictions he made to himself about the Italian campaign in France appeared to be proving disappointingly portentous as the first day of the month unfolded. French divisions had begun to find gaps in the hasty offensive’s main avenues. Furthermore, reports were coming in that Britain was rapidly seizing Sardinia from under Mussolini’s pronounced nose. By November 8th it was clear that Italy was rapidly losing the initiative.
Disgusted with his allies progress, Reza looked to his own more immediate woes that month. Combat on the western front was quiet initially. de Wiart had attempted to attack Kermenshah once more, though the threat of incoming forces halted his progress. On the 9th, Jiroft province had been lost in the south. Unhappy with the level of recruitment, the Shah regrettably had his commanders decrease training time to a less advanced form than the small force of highly trained specialists he had initially envisaged. On a more optimistic note, another trade deal was made with the Soviets to purchase rare materials after it had been noted that reserves were beginning to dwindle; the Shah’s ministers counted their blessings that Iran had been gifted so with the oil needed to build up sufficient funds for these desperate transactions
The next few days presented a mixed situation. The Italian campaign ebbed and flowed, with combat erupting around the French/Spanish border as the Republican Spanish attempted to further offset the precarious balance of power. On November 13th, Sirjan province is lost, while the next day de Wiart is embarrassingly defeated by the well dug in forces under G.Reza Pahlavi. On the 15th, Spanish forces in Northern Italy are finally repelled, and the Italian divisions tasked with dealing with them could finally move north to assist the main campaign. On the 19th, the British motorised division moving into Kemanshah beat the Shah’s men under Baypour to the game, and a protracted conflict over the province erupted, though in Sanandaj, de Wiart mysteriously pulled out of the country into Iraq and far beyond the gaze of Iranian intelligence. On November 21st, the Shah is handed the news: Italy has lost control of Paris. In Libya, Republican Spanish forces land on the 25th while French forces storm across the deserts. France is prepared to fight to the end.
The dynamic of Iran’s own fortunes changed rapidly on November 26th, as Majid Firooz arrives in Bander-e Lengeh only to find a so far unknown force of infantry commanded by Maj. General Pajari; somewhat oddly a winter specialist tasked with fighting in the mountainous southern Iran. The plan to cut off British supply lines is brought to a crushing halt as Majid desperately tries to fend off Pajari’s ferocious attack while the other southern British brigade continues its march to seize territory in southern Iran; Kerman is lost on the 23rd, while Pudanu falls on the 29th. The next day, an envelopment of British forces in Kermanshah finally ends the two week struggle for the province. The western flank is secure for now… but with the south east rapidly falling into the hands of a British force of entirely unknown size, things look increasingly bleak. With Italy folding in its French campaign, the Shah spends a sleepless night wondering whether the great war was doomed from the start…