Here’s part 2 of my Hearts of Iron 3 Campaign Diary, detailing October 1939. We see an Italian blitzkrieg dominating Western affairs, while the forces of Carton de Wiart; a low ranking, but obstinate British division commander prove every bit as wily and stubborn as his grizzled reputation suggests.
As October breaks, the British division commanded by the wily Carton de Wiart advances in the dead of night towards Zanjan. Immediately, the Shah orders the cavalry division to be dispatched southward to flank the aggressive infantry attempting to breach Iranian lines. A day of inconclusive fighting is marked by stalemate, though the superior numbers of Zahedi’s forces allowed the Iranian’s to temporarily encircle the British, pushing the battle slowly in the Iranian’s favour as midnight descends upon the battle lines, using the gloom to their advantage in getting the upper hand.
The next day is marked by major losses at sea as attacks on the unguarded Persian conveys begin to take their toll. Regrettably, the Shah orders an end to the trade route with Germany until a more durable naval force can be mustered, forcing him to look to the USSR for energy supplies, despite the increasingly large Soviet forces massing on Iran’s northern-most reaches.
October 3rd proves a perhaps the most successful day of the war for Iran so far. Majiid Firooz’s cavalry division marches south into Yengejeh, not only arriving in time to prevent British motorised brigades from entering the province, but forcing de Wiart to pull back from the attack against Zanjan. The next evening, the enemy is spotted pulling back completely from their lines clearly knowing when they’ve been outmaneuvered, retreating into the safety of Iraq.
The Italian onslaught begun the previous month continues to advance, unhindered by the bewildered French forces sat idly by in their forts at the Maginot line, while scattered fighting in Eastern Africa by Mussolini’s men takes its toll on British garrisons there, despite some minor inroads into Ethiopia by the Brits, while France seeks minor retribution for the humiliation of the campaign on the mainland by taking further Western reaches of Libya. Somewhat strangely, Germany appears remarkably idle, sat along the Siegfried line like a purring tiger watching the proceedings.
As the Italian blitzkrieg continued its inexorable march against the hapless French, the Shah felt it necessary to chase the British out of his holdings, sending his forces to retake Iranian provinces as fast as the British left them. The southern most British brigade however has proven itself to be a recalcitrant foe, seizing Konarak province on October 9th, before speeding on to Minab just less than a week later, clearly exploiting the superior rail network built by the British earlier in the century to great effect. Majid Firooz is given the order to intercept the rogue brigade, preferably by cutting off the British supply lines rather than via direct engagement. Plans are made in this time to attempt to subvert Iraq against its British overlords. Should the region turn against Iran, or worse, become absorbed into direct British control, the western flank would be thrown into complete disarray by the inferior, though numerous Iraqi forces. To provide against this, the Shah instructs a propaganda campaign in favour of him to be launched – as soon as the brain trust finishes the more important economic research being undertaken.
Thundering across the French countryside they may be, it seems the Italians have left their own interior worryingly unprotected; to the extent that on October 16th, Republican Spain lands a force of around 5 divisions in the docklands of Savona, rapidly moving on other northern Italian cities. By October 18th, it has seized Alessandria and Genova. On October 22nd, the Shah orders General Zahedi to force de Wiart’s division out of Sanandaj, but are met with fierce resistance. Late that night, Majid Firooz takes back control of Kermenshah on his way to halt the British in the south, who during have reportedly reached the historic port of Bander-e ‘Abbas, sending the Shah into a furious rage as the brash bastards seize his lands unhindered. Firooz watches with dismay as RAF ground attack plains streak northward above him to strike the under Zahedi in Qorveh; the combined defense by de Wiart and the strikes forcing a disengagement 3 days later. Bolstered by success, de Wiart stubbornly refuses to pull back further.
The Shah’s negotiations with the Soviets finally allow Iran to import energy reserves to replace those unable to be brought in from Germany. Britain seizes one final province in the south, and upon capturing Estabhan changes direction, heading back to Bander-e ‘Abbas, somewhat easing the Shah’s fury. In the West, Italy closes ever closer towards Paris, finally provoking a reaction from the morose French armies manning the Maginot line, just as Italian divisions begin to squeeze them between their rifles and German tanks on the Siegfried line. On October 28th, an Italian division walks into Paris unopposed as French forces desperately attempt to pull back to retake the capital.
With France on the counterattack, Italian divisions begin to move north to support the advance divisions. Germany begins to move north-east, evidently not interested in taking part in the final taking of France. Far away in the east, the Shah sits concerned; the Italian’s have been successful so far, but can they maintain the gains made? They have the Spanish situation in hand, taking back the territory rapidly, but at the cost of much of the force that appeared to be set to pin the French counterattack in place. In his own lands, de Wiart continues his campaign of irritation, briefly and brashly assaulting Zahedi’s command division before being forced to pull back into its holdings by combined assaults from Qorveh and Yengejeh. A lone motor division moves towards al Basrah; is it heralding a larger force?
It has been a long month, the Shah mused, before sighing and turning towards the harem for a well deserved break.