T065 - July 31, 1943
Two turns later, the Rhzev bubble is about to pop. The Rhzev perimeter is held by the main body of VI, XX and XXVII Armee Korps. Third Panzer Armee's efforts served little purpose other than to keep a 15-30 km corridor open to the town. Even this is extremely tenuous and reliant upon active counterattacks to re-establish the supply route. Moreover, it is apparent that the 2nd and 4th Guards Tank Armies, along with the 8th Guards Army have joined into the fighting - a simply overwhelming situation.
Reinforcements continue to flow into the area, grudgingly, the defense of Rhzev will be abandoned in a fighting withdrawal starting in August.
Sicily: Unable to trust the Italians to remain in the war following the capture of Palermo, the defense of Sicily is largely left to the Italians. German forces instead will focus on the construction of an "unbreakable" defensive line in southern Italy, beginning at Salerno.
The Balkans: Partisan forces are largely contained to a large pocket between Sarajevo and Banja Luka. With the imminent collapse of Sicily and Italy, I'm increasingly concerned about an Allied invasion along the Balkan coastline. Italians have been withdrawn to defend Italy, and German replacement/reserve/security divisions have moved in to take their place. Meanwhile, I'm looking to assemble an assault group strong enough to break the backbone of the People's Liberation Army under Tito residing in these mountains. This will better enable the Croatian forces to concentrate on coastal defenses and containment efforts should the Western Allies opt launch in this area. If there are no allied partisans to greet them, such an invasion may never even happen.
(Note -- The Balkans are being made radically tougher in the next PBEM version, all (I)rregulars will instead be actual (G)uerrillas - and so should normally reconstitute barring enemy occupation of the hex. What is working as intended - the fewer partisan units there are - the stronger they get. Where they start out with 2-2/2-3, some regular divisions are showing as 11-28's making offensives by regular Croatians with 4-9's suicidal. These being "relative combat values".)
Other Areas have periodic fighting, but are dropping off the scale of relevance compared to Sicily and Rhzev. Voronezh continues with its periodic fighting, back and forth over the same 6 - 10 hexes. The Black Sea, Grozny and Makchalaka are all stabilized fronts - though still 30km shy of Batumi. Same for the Stalingrad, Volga and Upper Don (up to Voronezh) - all relatively quiet areas.
Karelia... my goal here is still intact, namely an effort to shorten the line, even if it comes in spurts of a couple hexes. Presently, there's really not enough of a concentration of force here to engage in a prolonged offensive with a full cycling units into and out of combat. Win or lose - any Soviet forces that I can divert away from "the center" is a "desired outcome".