Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

After Action Reports
HvonMoltke
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Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

Hello there fellow TOAW players!

My Name is Matthias, and I have read several of the great AARs on this site, starting with Warspite's great Beginner's AAR in the same scenario that I intend to play.

I liked it so much that I intended to make my own one, from the opposite direction, and play as the Axis forces starting from December 7th, so basically the day before the British assault the positions of the Italian X Army.

Not sure whether this is liked too much, but I enjoy writing a little story to my operation. This time, we will follow Maggiore (Major) Baldo Lupinacci, a tank battalion commander turned staff officer the day before the attack starts, and follow the situation from his point of view. I hope that adds some fluff to the situation.

I have been playing the game for about half a year, and can't really say I am too great at it yet. So this might be a rather short AAR. I can't really promise to post every day, because actual, real army work takes a lot of time :D

I left all the settings for the scenario as is. So, if you have any suggestions or feedback, feel free to throw it at me.

Anyways: I try to be as "historic" as possible, as Lupinacci witnesses any historical events on the sidelines, but please do not be mad if I miss out on something. After all, he is just a little major, and some things might just go over his head ;) .

So, I hope you do enjoy this little trip of mine! Have a good read, and maybe a good laugh, should I get my behind handed to me (which I definitely will in the first couple of turns.)
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

Exposition- 8th Dec 1941, South of Sidi Barrani


The last few weeks have been hot. As have the weeks before. And the weeks to come. Every single man in the Staff Company of my batallion has found a different way of coping with it. I, for one, spend most of the day in my command tent, which is not a lot colder than being outside, but at least saves me from the merciless, scorching sun.

My name is Baldo Lupinacci. I'm a Maggiore (Major) and commander of the II (M) Tank Detachment, currently attached to the mobile „Grupo Maletti“, which is posted directly at the front we share with the British.

I have been a soldier for quite a while now, but only very recently came to battalion command when my superior officer, Tenente Colonnello (Lieutenant Colonel) Bagliano, died during the short offensive we started in early December. He has not been killed, but had become a victim of our most grueling foe, Cholera, which has cost us many more men than the few short battles we had in our one-week offensive. I joined service in 1933, and in 1936, a Tenente (First Lieutnenant) by then, saw my first action in the Conquest of Ethiopia. I had distinguished myself, apparently, and over a relatively short time, have risen through the ranks to become 2nd in command of this group of fine young men, and now, finally, lead them.

From September 9th to 16th , our forces advanced about 100km into enemy territory, only to grind to a halt when supplies ran short, and there was not decisive victory over the British in sight, as they simply evaded our advance.

Currently, our Detachment is positioned just south of Sidi Barrani, where the brunt of our Army, the X Army under command of Generale Berti, currently deputised by Generale Italo Gariboldi, is positioned. The Grupo Maletti, named after Generale de Divisione (Major General) Maletti, is the southern anchor of the Italian Position, and is entrenched in what we call the „Nibeiwa Camp“. Well, „entrenched“ is an exagerration. Both hunger and bad morale has led the force to become sluggish, and our positions are not as excellent as they should be. Our 34 „medium“ M11/39 tanks are not exactly in a fine position, but in good shape, although not exactly well stocked with ammo and fuel.



Now, we sit in our foxholes and makeshift emplacements, and wait how this situation is going to play out.

It's morning of the 7th December, I am currently outside smoking one of my very few remaining cigarettes, as a motorcyclist approaches the little road into our camp. After being hailed by the Guard and hastily let through, he drives up straight to my tent. „Are you Maggiore Lupinacci?“ he asks, informally. He is a Sergente (Corporal), obviously tasked with bringing a message to my outpost. I decide to look over his insolent question, and simply ask „What message do you have?“. He takes out a piece of paper from his bag, and hands it to me. „I come from the commanding General.“, he says, and I sense some pride in his voice. „One of his staff officers has been sent home. Syphilis.“. My face darkens. I have heard of the excesses behind the frontlines, and a sense of both anger and envy shortly clouds my mind. I read the note. „Immediately?“ I ask. „Yes. You are to replace him. We are very short on personnel back there, and from our figures, your Detachment should be well stocked.“ he says. „Well, take a look around. 'Well stocked' is not really the term I would choose. Half my men are sick and I am rather short on officers.“. „Well, my orders are clear, I am to bring you to Bardia immediately.“

After the two hours the courier gives me to hand over command to my friend 2nd in command, the now nervous Sergente finally takes me towards Bardia.

Arriving there the same evening, I am immediately brought to the HQ of the Army inside a rather burgeoise building at the heart of Bardia. The Courier leads me inside a room with a big map table. Currently, there seems to be a meeting going on. The Courier salutes. „Generale, I bring you Maggiore Lupinacci as ordered.“ I stiffen. The acting commander, Italo Gariboldi, just glances at him shortly. „Good, good. Dismissed.“ He turns his attention to me, as the Sergente quickly leaves the room. „Maggiore, as you might have heard, I am quite low on staff officers. I understand you have visited several German staff courses and are fluent in their language?“ „Very much so, sir.“. Surprised by his familiar tone, I completely forget to salute, which he, apparently, does not notice. „Very well. You will be a fine replacement in my operations department. You will be assigned to Colonnello (Colonel) Mangiavi and his men. Now, Gentlemen,“ he adresses all his officers in the room, „our supply situation is worrying, but at least the British seem too occupied with other matters instead of taking care of our force.“


„Let us be honest. Our position is not too great. The forward position of the Sibille Division, which itself is not exactly one of the best forces to set foot in this desert, is absolutely unmaintainable should the British decide and attack. The unreliable forces of the Blackshirts around Bardia, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Legions, are at least in a decent position. Our tanks are split up among our forces to support them if needed, and the Grupo Maletti is going to be extremely useful if the enemy approaches down the main road alongside the coast, as we expect it. If that is the case, I am still rather certain that our strong tank reserves will manage to fend them off just long enough for us to bring up our reserves from Bardia and even Tobruk.“

Colonnello Mangiavi, a wiry old man with an impressive mustache, speaks. „Generale, I do very much fear for our southern flank. The Cirene Division is not even ready for operations, and the few tanks they have available are only our L3 tankettes, which, as we have seen, count for nothing against the British models. If the enemy punches through the Sufafi Gap, he has an easy way into the rear of our main forces, and we do not have too much hold them back should they decide to come directly for Bardia!“
The Generale sneers. „No worries. They would not risk operating that far from their main supply lines, and the path through the Sufafi Gap does not allow for any quick operation. I deem our southern flank save just the way it is. Our air reconnaissance and our strike aircraft will prevent any operations towards it and behind our lines with ease.“ He yawns and takes a look at his pocket watch. „Gentlemen, it is late, and we are not going to make any more meaningful decisions tonight. Tomorrow is just going to be another boring day, just as yesterday, and I am fed up of this. I will retreat into my quarters. Dismissed.“ And just like that, he walks out of the room.




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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

(So much for the first little introduction. I promise that the follow-up parts will be less... fluffy and more "on subject". See that one as an exposition.)
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by Cabido »

Nice idea. Sounds like a little improvised novel as game progresses.
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

I hope that to be so :D I like making up this little story. Hopefully I do not get busted that quickly :D But thank you very much. I got the Idea from a very old AAR from HoI III (Götterdämmerung I think) which featured the "autor" being General Gotthold Heinrici. I think he had to quit because of a Bug, but not sure. I still loved it.
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by John B. »

Looks like a good AAR, I'm following this one!
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by warspite1 »

Subscribed! HvonMoltke I really like this idea [&o]. I have thought of doing something similar before but decided against first and foremost because I do not know enough (never having been a military man) about the finer points and would only embarrass myself. Please don't apologise about the length - it's excellent and reads like a novel.

The see-saw Western Desert fighting is one of the most interesting campaigns of the whole war - I am really looking forward to reading this and hearing about Baldo Lupinacci's war and ultimate fate.

Good luck [:)]
As a wise man once asked:

War - What is it good for?
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

(DISCLAIMER: For the sake of both readability and simply because I am not too familiar with the Italian Staff System, I am just going to assume that the X Army command works like a modern Bundeswehr Staff [because that is what I am most familiar to]. So G1= Manpower, G2= Intelligence and InfoOps, G3=Operations, G4=Logistics. G5 and 6, CIMIC and Signal respectively, are not too important or portrayed in the game, although they may be added for some fluff.)

A hard Punch- 8th-11th December, Bardia

Even after the Commanding General has left the rooms, his 2nd in Command reads out the plans for the night. Apparently Colonel Mangiavi, my new direct superior and acting Operations Officer, is on duty tonight, pretty much holding position should something happen and being in charge in case of any alarm. The quasi-ceasefire has introduced this rule to allow the higher-ups their well needed time for both carousing and sleeping it off.

The Colonel orders me to stay awake with him, so he can present me with all necessary information and get to know me better. Apparently, from what I figure, he is a rather competent man, very outspoken and direct, something that apparently has become rare in the Army's staff. The Chief of Staff himself is a sycophant, and especially the Intelligence Officer seems to mind only his career and not the real situation.

We spent a large part of the night talking, and I must say, this man is really sympathetic. His staff, only consisting of a Sottotenente (2nd Lieutenant) and a Capitano (Captain) with some NCOs attached, is quite small.

"So, you know, what I figure from G1s reports, and trust me, that guy is honest, we are short on manpower, and G4 says that both fuel and ammunition is rather short. In addition, most of our tanks are no match for the Allied ones. And what's the reason for our shortages? The bloody "Greek Front" of course! Since the major setbacks we have suffered there, the 'Duce' in his" he searches for a word for a second, then smiles sardonically, "unending wisdom decided to swamp it with supplies and replacements, while we are degraded to a second class front!."I can feel his anger, and I as well have heard from the precarious situation on the Greek front. My younger brother, a Captain, is serving in a Howitzer Battery there.
"I really, really expect them to attack soon. Yesterday night, outposts of the Sibille Division called and reported that they heard a lot of vehicles and tank tracks in the night. And what did the G2 say? That we heard some radio chatter about British excersises, and that that was not to be worried about. Well, I fear that they will prove him wrong rather soon. But the General does not listen to me."
So, we spend hours on end talking about the situation. Apparently, our replacement for the night has forgotten his shift, or willfully ignored it, and so we are stuck in this situation room.

It's around six in the morning, we both are quite tired and busy with planning a few minor excersises that are supposed to start early next year, when suddenly, the 2nd Lieutenant rushes in and salutes rather nervously. "Colonel, Major, you will want to hear this." And so it began. The next three days would be a rush of dire messages, desperate pleas and many, many dead Italian Soldiers.

(DISCLAIMER: Given that the Game uses the system of three-days-action for one side, then the same three-days-action for the other, it is a little bit hard to give a rather detailed and "novel-esque" version of the enemy turn. So I will conclude it with a report from the position of the reacting side, which of course is not too historic, since I can't imagine the side without the initiative sitting on their behinds for the whole time.)
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

The British attack focused on both the Sidi Barrani-Forces and Sibille Division, which were completely annihilated in the ensuing battle. Especially Sibille Division in its exposed position has simply vanished with nothing left behind. Grupo Maletti on the southern Flank has been badly mauled as well. The only major semi-motorised Group itself has lost its Tank Btl (yes, Lupinacci's old batallion) and an infantry regiment, with its motorised regiment being cut off. The pass at Sofafi has been opened by the Czech exile force and several British battalions.

Most concerning however is that the Fort Maddalenna Garrison has spotted enemies at least the size of a division rushing past it. Those forces might be free to either rush into Bardia and cut the throat of the X Army or maybe even operate more deeply to cut off Tobruk as well.

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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

(Bums me out a little that I am not allowed to post pictures from imgur yet, we shall see about that next week. Also looking for an upgrade to MS Paint Map drawings. If anyone could help, please do!)

Anyways, here is a picture of the current G2 (Intelligence and Enemy Forces)-report.

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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

"So, to conclude, we have been caught completely off Guard, have already lost two and a half divisions, several tank battalions and we have no idea about the state of another division because they are unable to move? And as if that was not enough, forces the size of an armoured division might roam freely right at this very doorstep?". The General stares into the surrounding crowd of officers, his head red with fury, and shouts at his G2. "How could this happen? How exactly did we allow outselves to be steamrolled like this? And what can we do about it?". In a feat of helpless anger, the last sentence was directed at Mangiavi, who stays surprisingly calm. "Sir, no worries, we could have been hit worse. We hold something like a frontline and Halfaya Pass, which will allow for some of our units to retreat and reform. Furthermore, Cirene Div to the south has not been touched by any enemy attack and is fully operational, and probably our best asset in this situation."

The G2, still white with shock, adds that the enemy air force has been surprisingly passive, and that most of our airforce was left intact, with only a single plane being lost while trying to protect the Sibille Div. "Apparently they have put a focus on ground support and have not thought of bombing our airfields, which was definitely in their power."

The G4 jumps in- "General, my message to Rome has been noted. Apparently, the Duce and the Commando Supremo (High Command) have decided to grant us as much support as possible. Now, at least the supply problem should become manageable in a while."

The G1, being silent for most of the time, adds "The Sirte Division and the 10th Besaglieri Regiment have been dispatched from Sirte and are at our command. We will be able to move them up in time to at least harrass whatever force has pushed behind our lines."

"So? G3, what is your suggestion? What are we to do?"

Mangiavi steps forward with the product of our work of the last hours.

"It's rather simple. We will retreat. We are in no position for any heroism. I would advise you to move this HQ toward Tobruk, which is way more easily defended. Cirene Division in the south will move up to Halfaya pass, while Mamarcia at Halfaya pass will leave towards Tobruk as well. The reinforcing Divisions will be used to put up a screen in our back yard, and at least defend the most important entrances into Cyrenaica until we know what those Brits behind our lines are up to. This is we only way we can preserve our fighting strength while we wait for reinforcements. Gentlemen, you must understand that the life and death of this army now entirely depends on our flexibility. Catanzaro Div and what remains of the 1st Blackshirts has been dumbstruck by the advance and is currently still trying to reorganise. There is no chance of moving them back, so their involuntary sacrifice is going to buy us the time necessary to survive this entire ordeal."



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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

While devising this rather simple battle-plan, Mangiavi and I agreed on the subject of getting as many men into Tobruk as quickly as possible. Tobruk has the ideal position and fortifications to hamper any serious allied advance into the Cyrenaica until it is taken, and it can be supplied by sea, which will allow our forces to replenish and hold the city for quite a while.

On the way to it however, the RAF and RAAF harrass any of our forces on the road. In addition, an armoured recon Regiment has blocked the "Highway" to the city, and the forces have to bypass this foe, costing valuable time. Thank god the commander of the Cirene Division decided to scout the Road with his Motorcycle Company.

Meanwhile, the Halfaya-Front starts to develop. With the Commander unwilling to desert the front in this critical time, the 10th Army HQ will have to stay in Bardia. It subaltern Corps HQs however will move towards Tobruk. There is no chance in our eyes that we will be able to hold the city, but still, the engineers and soldiers of the Cirene Division create a position that supports the emplacements on Halfaya-Pass itself. Surprisingly, a good part of the 1st Blackshirt Division, almost two full Regiments, manage to break off combat and retreat to the Halfaya-Front, reinforcing it. This will hold back the Assault of the British hopefully long enough for our forces to re-organise.

Reinforcements, the Sirte Division and the Besaglieri, are moving up just as planned.. The Sirte Division will become an Operative reserve in Cyrenaica. Although unmotorised and not too much of an Elite Force, it will hopefully manage to hold off any British Assault on Cyrenaica if they should decide to rush for it. Them not having any reliable supply source should do the trick.

10th Besaglieri reaches Derna and will be used as a reserve force for the defence of Tobruk and the entrance to the Cyrenaica. They are motorised, well equipped and considered Veterans, maybe our best force available and one that should not easily be spent.

Our rather unorganised Airforce and its lackluster Ground crews will prevent us from moving them into more suitable and safe positions. Should the allies decide to throw their superior airforce at them, we will surely lose a lot of plains.

The remaining parts of Grupo Maletti were not aible to retreat in time, and will probably be overrun in the course of the next days.

Mangiani and I light a cigarette together after every order is written and given. "Will it be enough, sir?" I ask. "I am not sure. We have to try and safe as much of our forces, but dropping them into Tobruk will kill them in the long run. We have no chance of holding the fortress indefinitely, and the more units we send back the faster it falls, meaning that we will have hardly any way to hold back any further allied push. It's a giant dilemma."

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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by Cabido »

As far as graphics packages go, I recommend downloading GIMP (open source). In fact, for anyone using MS Paint, just give up. It is one of the worse graphics software ever created. Make easy things awkward to execute. Download GIMP and watch some basics tutorial.

There must be better tools for AARs though, but I don't know them.

Another tip. Keep the width of your images smaller. Depending on resolution, the text can go beyond the border of the screen, making it painful to read.
Apart from that, it continues to be a nice reading.
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by Hellen_slith »

Interesting, thank you for the AAR!
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by Lobster »

ORIGINAL: Cabido

As far as graphics packages go, I recommend downloading GIMP (open source). In fact, for anyone using MS Paint, just give up. It is one of the worse graphics software ever created. Make easy things awkward to execute. Download GIMP and watch some basics tutorial.

There must be better tools for AARs though, but I don't know them.

Another tip. Keep the width of your images smaller. Depending on resolution, the text can go beyond the border of the screen, making it painful to read.
Apart from that, it continues to be a nice reading.

Krita works nice too and is free.
http://www.operationbarbarossa.net/

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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

Thank you all for the feedback! I will try to implement it into any further post, probably tonight.

A little personal assessment of the situation: I was really lucky with the proficiency checks of the forces. I have never been able to move the Cirene Div in the first turn, and I have never been able to save that much of the 1st Blackshirts.Still, I am not certain whether the Halfaya-Sollum-Bardia-Line will be maintainable for a round, and whether I will be able to rescue any forces (Especially the Army Command!) from there. 1,5 Divisions with a limited support of immobile garrison troops and with only a handful military strongpoints will probably not be enough. My only hope is that the lack of supply will prevent the bypassing force of seriously attacking Tobruk or, may the Lord prevent, my connection back to Cyrenaica. 10th Besaglieri is a rather impressive fighting force concerning skill, but not numbers.
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by budd »

Thanks for the AAR. Look at this for AAR's https://www.screenpresso.com/ easy to use, has all the arrows, symbols, and other icons for AAR's. There's a free version.
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

Regaining balance- 14th-17th December 1940




"The massive attack by the British 8th army on the Positions near Buq Buq have destroyed the immobile forces of the 1st Blackshirt Division and crumbled the hasty defences of the Catanzaro Division. Their sacrifice and brave resistance however have prevented the British from overrunning the position at Halfaya-Pass, which will allow even more elements of X Army to retreat towards. I can't overstate how important it is that we leave Bardia at once, as there might not be a way to retreat for us if we are attacked here in force.

The Halfaya-Line will probably not hold for another 3 days. But first, we will deal with the British recon-regiment that has apparently moved from the Road to Tobruk right in front of our prepared defensive positions. Scouts report that they are accompanied by the 8th Army's supply base. We can't really imagine why, especially because they will not do any good without decent roads to occupy, but this is a magnificent chance to hinder the enemy's advance by draining them of supplies!



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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

The Situation at Tobruk is stable. We have been attacked by two batallions, but those have bled out during their attack on the prepared and reinforced positions of the Tobruk Garrison and the Libyan Tank Command. Sadly, our tanks have some organisational difficulties and are not able to counterattack."

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The Chief of Staff finishes his report. The Air Force commander, finally having returned from the front after his car was struck by a British Aircraft, adds: "The AirForce has been hit this time, yes, but our casualties were far lower than expected. Most of the attention of the RAF and RAAF has been focused on the forward positions around Buq-Buq and on the remnants of the Grupo Maletti, which has completely evaporated under the enemy assault." "Well, we certainly have felt their attention too.", the General mumbles and looks angrily at the Air Force Chief, then at the gaping hole in the wall where a British Air-Dropped bomb has punched a hole in it.

The commanding general says "I do not see why we should retreat from Bardia. Where should a General be if not at the Front?". "But sir...", Mangiavi starts, but is immediately cut off by an infuriated General "I will not discuss this matter with you, Colonel, or with anyone else. My honour and the entire Army's honour is at stake, and I am not willed to sacrifice it!". He takes a deep breath. "Anyways, Colonel, what do you advise we do?"
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RE: Under the African Sun- North Africa 40D-43 Axis AAR

Post by HvonMoltke »

"Sir, Maggiore Lupinacci will explain that to you. He has written most of the orders while I was out overseeing the retreat of the first wave of divisions."

I am surprised, and a little baffled, but quickly scramble for a report. "General, I advise you to continue the retreat towards Tobruk with all available forces. Cirene Division will be able to easily overrun the enemy supply base and the Armoured Recon-Regiment. At Tobruk, the advancing forces will attack the enemy Tank Btl and then join the cities defences.

Furthermore, all other units that are currently en route to reinforce us will continue the task and take up reserve positions. Sirte Division has, for some reason, stopped, blaming enemy aircraft. I do not believe the reports, but nonetheless, they are currently unable to move. The new medium-tank btl that arrived at Sirte will be used to reinforce the 10th Besaglieri, which will primarily be task with holding the position and create some much needed fortifications in and around Derna. All orders are prepared and only need your signature to become effective."

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