Hypothetical British invasion of Rhodes
1. Unit Colours
- Heer: on Grey
- Sturmdivision Rhodos: Light Grey
- 22. Luftlande: Dark Grey
- 800. z.b.V.: Black
- Kriegsmarine: Blue and Grey
- Luftwaffe: on Light Blue
- Air units: White
- Ground units: Blue
- British: on Brown
- British Army: White
- Indian Army: Green
- Royal Air Force: Brown
- Royal Navy: Blue
- Greek Navy: Black
- South Africa: Dark Green
- Special Air Service: Purple
- Italian (Coast Artillery): Yellow on White
2. Significant events
The EEV reflects control of the airfields on Rhodes. Every airfield captured by the British will increase it, every airfield retaken by the Germans will decrease it.
If at any time from turn 4 (the first British turn in which there are German fighters on Rhodes) the Germans control two of the three airfields on Rhodes, the aircraft carriers assigned to provide air cover for the operation (HMS Furious and HMS Illustrious) will be moved out of range of the islands to prevent the Luftwaffe from sinking them. The Fleet Air Arm formation will be withdrawn from the scenario.
The initial theatre recon levels for the British and Germans are 40 and 0 respectively. When the first Luftwaffe units appear on turn 3, British recon falls by 20 and German recon rises by 20. Each of the airfields on Rhodes gives ten recon to the British or five to the Germans; thus if the British player controls all three airfield after turn 3 he will have 50 theatre recon and the German player will have 5.
Initial British supply is sixteen. For each airfield they control on Rhodes, this is boosted by four.
British sealift begins the scenario at 700 (enough for five infantry battalions), declines to 500 on turn 2 and to 300 on turn 3, where it remains for the rest of the scenario.
British HQs begin with only 1/2 of their support squads assigned. The remainder are delivered to replacements when one of the three ports on Rhodes is captured.
Every odd-numbered (nightime) turn, both sides suffer from 50% air shock.
3. Theatre Options
The operations in this scenario, whilst much more significant than those historically undertaken in the Dodecanese, nevertheless represent a relatively minor diversion from the main event in the Mediterranean at this time; the invasion of Italy. As such, the forces available to both sides are strictly limited. Any reinforcements sent to the Dodecanese have to be taken away from operations elsewhere. As such, they come at a VP penalty.
From the first turn the British player can request the use of 11th Parachute battalion. Taking this option awards the German player 6 VPs.
Also from the first turn the British player has the option to request three additional RAF squadrons (two of Spitfires and one of Beaufighters). Taking this option awards the German player 8 VPs.
The third and final Theatre Option availble to the British from turn 1 is to request two additional cruisers and two Destroyers. This option awards the German player 5 VPs- however the British player should note that the German player can also gain further VPs by sinking these vessels.
From turn 6 the German player has the option to request I. Gruppe of JG27 (with 37 Me-109s). These aircraft will take two days to transfer from Austria and will cost 8 VPs.
Also on turn 6 the German player has the option to request I. Gruppe of KG26 (with 54 He-111). These aircraft will take three days to transfer from the South of France and will cost 8 VPs.
The third and final option available to the Germans from turn 6 is to request II and III Gruppen of StG151 (with 68 Ju-87). These aircraft will only take one day to come into action as they are already operating in the Balkans. They cost 8 VPs.
From turn 8 the British player can request 234th Brigade (four battalions of infantry) as a follow up force. Taking this Theatre Option will also reduce force supply by two points and award the German player an immediate bonus of 16 VPs. This brigade had just been removed from the garrison at Malta and is in poor condition. As such, it initially has reduced readiness and supply.
II. Battalion 65. Grenadier Regiment is scheduled to arrive on turn 6. These troops had been engaged in anti-guerrilla operations for some time and were experienced mountain troops. However the German player has the option on turn 5 to bring this formation in by air. If this is taken, the formation will arrive with airlanding icons; they will lose their mountain capabilities.
From turn 10 the German player has the option to receive III. Battalion of 65. Grenadier regiment, together with the assets attached to the regiment. If this is taken, another option becomes available on the following turn to receive III. Battalion as airlanding troops. If this is not taken the battalion arrives as mountain troops. Either way, receipt of this battalion costs the German player 8 VPs.
4. Gameplay notes
Air superiority is the single most important factor in deciding victory. Whoever controls the air over Rhodes, controls Rhodes (note that Egypt, Crete and Cyprus are all outside single-engined fighter range). With this in mind, it is the British player's task to secure the airfields on the island and the German player's task to keep them out of his hands. Anything else is secondary.
Players will notice that there are no anchorage hexes in the Dodecanese besides Rhodes, Karpathos and Cos Towns. If players wish to make amphibious landings, they should end their turn with the units embarked adjacent to the coast. In the following turn, they can be disembarked and moved ashore. Note that if such units are set to attack adjacent land units, the cancellation of these attacks will cause the unit's movement to be set to zero. Be very careful when planning these landings.
British supply points are marked on the map with "(S)". German supply points are the five airfields plus Rhodes town.
Italian coastal defence and anti-aircraft units on Cos and Karpathos will man their guns and fight for the British if these islands are taken. The coastal guns on Rhodes have been taken over by the Germans.
5. VP Distribution
- 10 hexes are worth 1 VP each as these are dominating heights, in particular those above the main airfield in the north of the island.
- The three airfields on Rhodes are worth 15 VPs, the airfield on Karpathos is worth 10 VPs, and the airstrip on Cos is worth 5 VPs.
- The four minor ports are each worth 5 VPs, Rhodes town is worth 10 VPs.
6. House Rules
Some of these rules are shown on the map for players' convenience
I appreciate that there are a lot of these. Those which are essential are marked with an (E). Others are to improve gameplay or prevent gamey play.
No German air units may attack the three 'distance-to' hexes at the bottom right hand corner of the screen labelled "Safe Zone". These units represent parts of the Mediterranean well out of reach of most German aircraft and covered by British fighter aircraft. However, British naval units can only either enter or leave this area in the space of one turn- not both. Thus if a ship fights in the Dodecanese it must subject itself to German attack that turn.
(E)British forces are not permitted to land in the German staging areas on Crete. Likewise, German forces are not permitted to land in the British staging areas in Alexandria. Airfield attacks are not permitted as the distance-to hexes prevent friendly fighters from protecting the airfields.
(E)Only units of the Fleet Air Arm formation may base at the airfield on the southern map edge labelled "aircraft carriers".
(E)Units making seaborne landings are governed by one of four rules;
- Can land anywhere: The Brandenburg Regiment and the SAS.
- Can land anywhere if the formation's HQ is within two hexes and not EMBARKED in a deep water hex*: all formations with HQs except for 234th Brigade. Note that this is permitted if the HQ is in a Deep Water hex, but it must disembark.
- Only one unit can land per engineer company in a port at the start of the turn: 8th Artillery Brigade, 6th Duke of Connaught's, Panzer Abteilung Rhodos, IV./999. Artillerie.
- Can land freely in port: all other units and conditions.
- *: if the HQ is destroyed, then use its last location for this rule.
(E)Units of 22. Luftlande can be moved by air between friendly controlled airfields (in the historical Leros campaign, they were used amphibiously), they cannot be dropped elsewhere. Similarly, the RAF Regiment squadrons in the scenario can only be flown directly to airfields (the historical Aegean campaign was the first time this was attempted). The airfields must have been in friendly control at the beginning of the turn.
(E)Those units which can make unrestricted airdrops (I./2. Fallschirmjaeger, the Brandenburger Company, the SAS and 11th Parachute Battalion) can only do so at the BEGINNING of the turn. Further, these units can only make one such airdrop in the course of the scenario (note that airdrops which are turned back by enemy fighters do not count for this purpose). They may still be moved between friendly airfields.
British naval units cannot be moved into anchorages.
Although there are anchorages in the main ports on the map, these should not be used for debarkation. Units wishing to land at these points- opposed or unopposed- must stop and end their turn before entering the hex, then disembark the following turn before landing. If the unit lands without disembarking first, it will consume sealift that turn. Units of both sides are free to use these hexes for embarkation.
(E)Wellington and B-24 bombers can only be based in Alexandria or Cyprus. He-111s can only be based on Crete. Beaufighters and Me-110s cannot be based at Efialti or Antimachia airfields. Only one air unit can be based at Antimachia airfield.
Naval units are not permitted to make 'airfield attacks'. They may bombard hexes with airfields, but these must be standard attacks, targetting the whole hex. Other units are not restricted in this way.
Regular artillery units are not allowed to attack units at sea. Coastal artillery is of course not affected by this restriction.
Units based at airfields on Crete, Cyprus or in Egypt can only make one direct attack per turn. They can be set on combat support or interdiction for the rest of the turn, but cannot make any further direct attacks.
Seaborne ground units must not be moved adjacent to land hexes unless the player expects to be able to land them the following turn without violating a house rule. On that turn, they must attempt to come ashore if possible. Otherwise they must move.
The idea of an attack on the Italian Dodecanese islands was first raised as early as January 1941, under the codename 'Mandibles', in the hope of pre-empting the arrival of German aircraft on the islands. With the collapse of Allied fortunes in the Eastern Mediterranean over the following three months, the plan receeded from view.
It re-emerged in 1943, after the long campaign in North Africa was finally resolved in the battles in Tunisia that Spring. With Italy wavering, it seemed an ideal opportunity to seize their possessions. With operation 'Husky', a landing in Sicily, underway and 'Avalanche', the landing on the mainland already well advanced, plans were drawn up to land in the Dodecanese islands, with their useful strategic location and valuable airfields. Under the plan for Operation 'Accolade', 8th Indian Infantry Division began training for amphibious operations, and a date set for early September. At the last minute, on 26th August, the shipping was ordered to India for operations against the coast of Burma. 8th Indian Division, without the assault shipping to carry out Accolade, was sent to Italy. The invasion of Rhodes was cancelled.
Strong wills were behind the plan, however, and when the Italian government signed an armistice a few days later, the scanty resources left available in the eastern Mediterrean were scraped together and flung against the Aegean. The smaller islands of Cos, Leros and Samos, which had been garrisoned only by Italian troops, were seized with the help of the local population. Ultimately, however, the commitment of force was insufficient. The Germans counterattacked violently, expelling the British from the Aegean. Although Churchill, among others, held onto the hope of taking Rhodes for a while longer, under a third codename, 'Hercules', before this too was finally abandoned at the end of 1943.
The Dodecanese islands were finally evacuated by the Germans in September 1944- two months after the islands' 2,000 Jews had been removed to Europe and the concentration camps.
This scenario explores what could have transpired if the resources for Operation Accolade were not scattered to the four winds, and the British invasion of Rhodes had gone ahead.