Desert Sand, Pacific Sky
Sequel to First Blood
June 2nd 1942, West of El Alamein, Egypt, 1045 Local Time (GMT+2)
The four Standardpanzer E-50s  drove forwards past the wrecks of half a dozen Crusaders and four Grants… the Panzer’s work of the last few hours. Following close on their heels was a company of PanzerGrenadiers… from what Lance Corporal John Edward could see they appeared to be equipped with a rather weird mixture of Sd.Kfz.251 Halftracks and APC that he was reliably inform had been developed from E-10 hulls.
The E-50s kept on advancing –evidently entirely unaware that a troop of Leopard AS 1s and a platoon from 5/7 RAR happened to be waiting in ambush. A brief crackle on the radio announced it was time…
The Lance Corporal’s Leopard moved forwards so it’s 105mm gun could clear the sand dune. The activity didn’t go unnoticed and the nearest Panzer turned it’s turret and took a pot-shot. The German 10 cm PaK48 missed and Lance Corporal Edward already had the German in his sights.
"Gunner, target that damn Panzer… Load Sabot"
"Identified" replied the Gunner.
"Loaded" echoed the Loader.
The Royal Ordnance L7 105mm barked and spat an armour-piercing discarding sabot. The shell struck the front of the Standardpanzer’s turret and a fraction of a second later an explosion tore the turret roof clean off.
Lance Corporal Edward searched for more tanks but all four E-50s had already been knocked out… so his attention turned to the APCs...
June 3rd 1942, Trincomalee, Ceylon, 1209 Local Time (GMT+5:30)
The tropical harbour of Trincomalee had become the home of quite a formidable fleet. Even to an airforce officer like Squadron Leader Ellsworth there was something impressive about the trio Carriers –the contemporary Illustrious and Hermes and the 21C Australia- and the two Battleships - Prince of Wales and Warspite- that lay at anchor in the bay. This rather modest little fleet was now under the command of Admiral Somerville since Sir Tom Philips had been recalled almost three months back.
At the moment Squadron Leader Ellsworth was aboard HMAS Australia waiting for the scheduled video conference with the various theatre commands to start. It had already been delayed for fifteen minutes while technicians adjusted the ship’s comm suite to get a decent signal. Finally an icon flashed on the screen indicating that a link had been established with Egypt. Immediately the screen split into four windows, one showing a crowd gathered around a table in London, the second showed a similar scene from Cairo, the third was of the very room they were in and the fourth just repeatedly flashed no signal.
"… still haven’t been able to stop the Africa Corp yet?"
"Sir, I cannot stop Rommel at this moment but I have the El Alemain line more heavily fortified than the… uhm, other history and within two week I will have three squadrons of those 21st century tanks on the front. It is only a matter of time until the Africa Corp will be stopped -quite literally- dead in it’s tracks…"
Squadron Leader Ellsworth watched the screen for a moment before realising the man speaking was Bernard Montgomery. A quick glance at London screen showed –quite unmistakably- Winston Churchill.
Montgomery continued talking to Churchill for several minutes before they noticed that Trincomalee was on the line. Finally Churchill spoke:
"So how is your situation, Admiral Somerville?"
"Well Prime-minister, no major naval actions have occurred since the fleet covered the evacuation Kuala Lumpur. Indeed the Japanese have not attempted to enter the Indian Ocean since Atago was sunk two months back. On the other hand the Japanese have been increasingly using jet aircraft to attack our Singapore bound convoys. For example, on the most recent convoy run HMS Blackpool". The Admiral glanced at his notes "-a Type 12 or Whitby class frigate that prior to the event had been on loan to New Zealand- was hit by three one-thousand pounds bombs dropped from an aircraft that the crew identified as an Ilyushin Il-28 ‘Beagle’. The frigate took just under a quarter of an hour to sink and took a third of her crew with her."
The Prime-Minister glanced down at a set of notes.
"I see that there is a not inconsiderable number of ‘high-tech’ aircraft assigned to defend your ships… So why have you been taking such heavy losses?"
Admiral Somerville moved to speak but Squadron Leader Ellsworth got their first.
"Prime Minister, it is not simply a question of numbers, the four squadrons of ex-Indian Mig-21s don’t have the range to support the fleet while my squadron, No. 2 Squadron RNZAF is down to eight operational aircraft… that means in order to offer the fleet I will need to have well over half my aircraft aloft at any time… it simply is unsustainable. I have heard that an airbase full of Gripens apparently materialised in South Africa a good three months after the event… Prime Minister, could you ‘lean on’ the South Africans to get them to send some here?"
"Sorry Edward, but that just isn’t possible at this moment…"
It wasn’t Winston Chuchill replying, Squadron Leader Ellsworth examined the screen more closely… he recognised the man speaking –indeed they knew each other well- it was the former commander of No. 2 Squadron.
"Yes, a South African airbase did materialise… complete with nine Gripens, twelve of their modernised Mirage IIIs –Cheetahs if I recall- and a number of Hawk Mk 100 trainers. Unfortunately most of the aircrew and ground crew didn’t make it through the transition alive…"
* * * * * *
Lieutenant-Commander Gilmour –a rather short and lightly built thirty year old Englishman- sat in the cockpit of his Sea Harrier FA.3 on the deck of HMAS Australia as a small army of technicians swarmed round the aircraft doing a last series of checks. After thirty seconds or so the last off the technicians disappeared and he was finally free to go.
"Alpha-Bravo One requesting Permission to take off."
"Control here, Permission granted… seems the fly boys have a few Mig-21s for you to play with."
"Roger that Control, Alpha Bravo out."
The Sea Harrier FA.3 tore down the deck, up the ‘ski jump’ and into the air.
As the aircraft cruised towards the designated training area Lieutenant-Commander Gilmour took a moment to re-read the training rules of engagement… it started with the standard restrictions on speed, altitude, etcetera before digressing onto a note that today was specifically about dog fighting so any AIM-120 AMRAAMs could be left at home. As the ROE got steadily more and more tedious Frank Gilmour allowed his mind to wander for a moment… and for some reason his mind picked the history of the FA.3…
The Sea Harrier FA.3 was perhaps one of the more brilliant examples of
bureaucratic incompetence. Back in 2002 when the government had chosen to do
away with the Sea Harrier FA.2 in favour of the RAF’s GR.9 someone had the
sense to point out the detrimental effects on the RNs air defence. And what had
been the response? Not the simple decision to hang onto the
June 5th 1942, Ayer-Hitam, Johore, Malaya, 1910 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
A trio of Vickers Guns hammered away at the oncoming wave of Japanese troops from the shelter of a crude earthen bunker. Dozens of Japanese fell but still they steadily advanced on the town’s outer trench line. Major Ennis watched the battle from a concrete pill box back in the second trench line while his M8 Block II Armoured Gun System idled ready to go into battle the moment an enemy tank turned up.
For a moment there was the distinct rumbling of tracks and then a tank which Major Ennis immediately recognised as a Sherridan –presumably captured by the Japanese in Vietnam- rolled into view, stopped and took aim at the earthen bunker. The muzzle of the 152mm M162 flashed and the front wall of the bunker disintegrated. But by then Major Ennis was already back in his M8 and had the target in his sights.
"Gunner, target M551… load whatever armour piercing rounds we have left… Fire at will"
The autoloader thumped as it placed a shell in the 120mm’s breach.
The 120mm shell tore into the Sherridan, cooked off the ammunition and blew the turret clean off.
Almost simultaneously a beep, beep signalled that the tank’s communications suite had received a data transmission. Major Ennis turned towards the screen. There was just one line of text… originating directly from General Percival:
Jemaluang has fallen, believe East Force destroyed. West Force to withdraw to Skundai.
The news was bad… indeed the situation was nothing short of disastrous… the entire right flank of the line had collapsed and presumably the Japanese would soon be running loose in their rear… cutting them off from Singapore.
June 5th 1942, Russia, Behind the German Lines, 2009 Local Time (GMT+2:00)
Major Sorokin –formally of the Russian Federation- pointed his AKSU-74 Sub-Machinegun at the whimpering wreck of a German officer and pulled the trigger. As horrid as it may have been it was none the less required… here he was trapped in Stalin’s USSR and no doubt if he let this German go the news would eventually filter out to the NKVD –either as an unguarded comment by the men of his Spetsnaz detachment or more probably through one of the Partisans his men had been working with- and he would find himself in front of a firing squad, and anyway shooting the German was probably more merciful than sending him to a soviet POW camp.
The heavily built Commando took a moment to look around at his handiwork. Barely ten meters away one of three armoured cars burnt fiercely, presumably after being struck by an RPG round. And somewhere father back half a dozen trucks sat abandoned by their now dead occupants. Scattered all over the place were dead and wounded Huns -hell, it looked like they had wiped out the batter part of a rifle company. All the while the Soviet Partisans roamed unchecked finishing off the wounded and cleaning the field of weapons.
However time was getting on, soon more Germans would arrive. And as much as the Partisans would want to attempt to wipe them out Major Sorokin and ‘his Spetsnaz’ had bigger fish –and ammo dumps to fry…
June 7th 1942, Near Palermo, Sicily, 0709 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Obergruppenführer Otto Skorzeny marched past the lines of men and captured helicopters followed closely by the unit’s commander… a rather younger version of himself. This battalion sized SS unit had been formed a little over four months back and was equipped with a mixture of old Sturmgewehr 44s and 45s  stripped from the armories of the SS and Wermacht divisions that had come through the ‘event’.
Both Otto Skorzenys rapidly climbed the steps onto the podium as the troops snapped to attention. The Obergruppenführer turned to speak…
"Soldier of Germany, you are to be the vanguard of a major thrust against the British…"
A cheer erupted from the soldiers.
"… Of cause Goering believes that his Luftwaffe alone will be capable of doing our task… but after the Battle of Britain who would believe that?"
A few brief chuckles echoed from the troops. Otto Skorzeny knew he was on thin ice with that comment… Goering may have lost much of his prestige with the discovery of his actions during the final days of the Reich in two of the ‘time streams’ but he was still powerful.
"In just under two weeks we shall be taking Malta…"
A cheer but rather more feeble than earlier. Obergruppenführer Skorzeny understood why… after all to these men it was still less than a year since the Fallschirmjäger had been decimated during the invasion of Crete.
"… We shall be accompanied by the 4thLuftlande-Sturmregiment  and the heroes of Crete, 7th Flieger Division. However we are the vanguard… the blade that will cut the British to ribbons."
Again a cheer echoed round the parade ground.
"We will take Malta… and with Malta gone the Afrika Korp will put an end to the British 8th army… Sieg Heil"
The troops echoed the salute.
June 8th 1942, Coral Sea, North east of Queensland, 0918 Local Time (GMT+10:00)
Captain Waller stood in the bridge of the cruiser HMAS Perth lost in his own thoughts. In the months since the ‘event’, ‘transition’, ‘emergence’ or whatever else you cared to call it he had become know for his heroic fight and death in the Sunda Strait… a fight which should have happened three months back.
He shrugged… what go would these thoughts do? None was the simple answer… he could analyze the battle all he wanted but the thought about his ‘fate’ as he had come to think of it were pointless. He glanced around; standing in the other corner of the bridge was the man this particular voyage was all about. The glance didn’t go unnoticed and the ‘special guest’ as the crew referred to him as came walking towards Captain Waller.
* * * * * *
The control room of HMAS Collins was crowded. Not only were all the eight stations occupied but it seemed to Captain McEwen the almost the entire crew of 45 had jammed into the small space. His XO -a Lieutenant Willet previously from HMAS Dechaineux- glanced towards him.
"The Sonar contact is still moving at six knots, sir… I would assume you would want to go to Periscope depth?"
"Yes Lieutenant, I suppose we had best check it out first…"
The submarine rose and the Periscope slid upward. Lieutenant Willet at once made for the Periscope but it was utterly irrelevant as the view already occupied half the screens in the control room.
"Well, Lieutenant what do you make of that?"
The ship’s XO kept her eyes firmly to the ‘scope as the view tracked and zoomed.
"Well sir, it’s a Cruiser with two widely spaced funnels and four turrets… I would guess a length of somewhere around 160 meters… No signs of any escorts… not that we expected any from the sonar returns…"
One of the weapons system officers briefly cut in "I have a firing solution… want me to put a torpedo into her?" as a massive smirk filled his face.
"Nah, no point wasting a Mark 48 on her… besides she is certainly a friendly… a modified Leander class as we were told to expect".
"So we are going to surface sir?" replied the XO
"Yes Lieutenant… but lets make it interesting… crew to emergency stations for a drill"
* * * * * *
Suddenly out of nowhere a large black object seemed to jump almost right out of the water. Captain Waller was about to call the crew to action stations and blow the damn thing out of the water but the ‘special guest’ was already by his side.
"Looks like it is that ‘Collins class’ we were briefed about. Damn, to think that the old AE2 was large back in my day…"
The submarine had stopped and already a number of men had appeared on top of its conning tower. Within seconds an Australian flag climbed up the mast and fluttered in the breeze.
A junior officer walked on to the bridge and handed Captain Waller a transcript of a radio message. He turned to the ‘special guest’.
"Well Sir, it looks like we have been invited aboard."
* * * * * *
Captain McEwen was on deck with a small clump of crew when the motor launch arrived. Two officers –both Captains by the look of their uniforms- immediately scrambled aboard. As the two captains regained their footing McEwen immediately noticed both had the blue and white ribbon of the DSO on both men’s chests.
The two men came closer and McEwen started walking towards them.
"Sorry about the lack of ceremony but with the problems of a sub I am afraid it is largely impractical. I am Captain McEwen and this is my XO Lieutenant Jane Willet. Well I guess I had better say welcome aboard Captain Waller…" Hector Waller was puzzled that this man should recognize him. Captain McEwen briefly diverted to explain "… I served as the XO on the submarine that was named after you and needless to say got rather familiar with your portrait… Just a pity that damn sub nearly killed me."
He glanced at the second officer "So I suppose this must be Captain Stoker… well welcome back to the trade… it must be nearly thirty years since you were last on a Submarine… AE2’s penetration of the Dardanelles if I recall… "
Captain H.G. Stoker looked back at Captain McEwen.
"Not quite, after I was repatriated from Turkey I briefly served on one of K class  vessels. A damn horrid class of ‘boat’ too… about as maneuverable as a barge and with a maximum diving depth less than the damn Submarine’s length!"
"Well Sir," chimed in Lieutenant Willet "the Collins class didn’t exactly have a trouble free development either…"
As Captain Stoker and Lieutenant Willet diverted into a discussion on the histories and problems of the K class compared to the Collins class Captain Waller decided it was time.
"Well, now that I have delivered your liaison officer I had best get back to HMAS Perth…"
"Fine…" replied Captain McEwen "but I guess next time we meet I owe you a round of drinks…"
Captain Waller jumped back into the motor launch just as the last of Captain Stoker’s kit was shoved onto the Submarine.
June 8th 1942, Malta, 0718 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The flight of four Hawker Hunters –two F.7s  and a pair of FGA.10s - closed in on the formation of Junkers Ju-88s. Squadron Leader Peter Townsend spoke into his radio:
"Blue leader to Blue Flight… Jerries in sight, Tally Ho"
His aircraft dived as he lined his gun sight on the lead Junkers. Squadron Leader Peter Townsend grunted with satisfaction as his aircraft’s 30mm cannons blazed and the port wing of the Ju-88 disintegrated and the aircraft spun into the ocean.
He climbed ready for another attack run, a brief glance showed one of the FGA.10s off to his port side. The FGA.10 edged ahead then suddenly disappeared in a ball of flame.
"Blue four come in… repeat Blue for come in…"
There was no response.
Peter Townsend pulled his F.7 into a tight turn just as something exploded mere feet from his aircraft. Warning lights lit up all over the cockpit and he reached for the ejection leaver…
He shot clear of the aircraft and within seconds his ‘chute was deployed. As Peter Townsend swung to and fro under the canopy he noticed an aircraft flash past. In that instant his mind registered all the details –the needle nose, trapezoidal wings, T tail and bubble canopy. The Squadron Leader immediately recalled being briefed on an aircraft that matched the description by one of the ‘69ers… it was an F-One-Oh-Something… named, what was it? Starfighter, Skyfighter?
June 10th 1942, Singapore, 0910 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
To the west a massive column of smoke still sat over the ruins of Johore Bahru even though a good three hours had passed since the Japanese had dropped a string of Fuel Air Explosives on the town wiping out four Battalions and the last British toe hold on Malaya proper. Another column of smoke rose over to South East near Changi –presumably marking the destruction of the fortifications and stores intended for the planned last stand.
Major Ennis could only look on in steadily growing horror. It was probably only the value of the Naval Base to the Japanese that had prevented him and the other shattered remnants 2nd/14th Light Horse from being consumed in flames.
The disasters of the last five days had more or less erased all the achievements of his men over the last six months… in those five days the British position had more or less collapsed. Indeed an entire squadron –and the now firmly ex-CO- of 2nd/14th Light Horse had been destroyed when East Force was hit… on top of the general attrition that meant Major Ennis now had a mere fourteen AFVs –split 50-50 between M8s and ASLAVs- under his direct command. The story of the other 21C units wasn’t much better, 9th Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment  now had a total strength of two companies and the 1st Field Regiment RAA had suffered just as badly. Indeed the only unit that remained unharmed was a detachment of Airfield Defence Guards –a single mechanised rifle company plus a troop of the new support variant of the Bushmaster armed with a 40mm Metal Storm system.
Major Ennis glanced at an NCO who was manning a radio.
"No Sir, Changi is still off the air and all the chatter from other detachments seems to be bad news…" The NCO paused for a moment "… Just got another transmission… a troop of armoured cars has reached Changi and can confirm that the Fire Control for the 15 inchers has been destroyed –no survivors reported- and that the HQ has been extensively damaged… They have confirmed that General Percival is amongst the dead."
June 10th 1942, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA, 0810 Local Time (GMT-5:00)
Major Kingsley and the honour guard snapped to attention as the motorcade pulled into the base. Across the ranks the rather weird assortment of weapons –The ‘temp’s M1 Garands; M14s from the armouries of the National Guard units from 1969 and M16s from both the ’69 and 21C regulars who had survived the event- thumped against shoulders as the car’s door opened and Major General Patton stepped out. He walked up between the two lines of troops examining them as he went.
* * * * * *
The General scanned the firing range, his eyes settling briefly on the trio of old M2A2 Light Tanks  parked there. Major Kingsley turned to General Patton.
"Sir, the demonstration is ready to commence. First off we have a demonstration of a 90mm M67 recoilless rifle from one of the National Guard armouries. Following that we will then be demonstrating the two 75mm recoilless rifles that are scheduled to enter service in the next two months."
The General nodded his head in agreement and immediately the AT team leapt into action. A shell was quickly inserted in the breach, the weapon aimed and with a tremendous roar the shell left the barrel. The smoke cleared from around the tank to reveal a massive hole right in the centre of the glacis plate. Patton turned to Major Kingsley.
"To think if the frogs had those back in 1940… the Jerries wouldn’t stand a chance. I just hope this 75mm version you have designed is as good."
"Well Sir, one of the 75mm weapons is based upon the late-war M20 which was capable of penetrating four inch thick armour. The other is man portable and so has a shorter barrel and hence losses some muzzle velocity… so we have lost some muzzle velocity but…" the major shrugged "It fires a shaped charge round so there shouldn’t be much loss of penetration."
A small group of men crowded around the tripod mounted recoilless rifle. Within thirty seconds another blast echoed across the firing range. Again a neat hole was blasted in the glacis of a tank. The third and final test followed with similar results.
With the demonstrations over the General and his entourage turned a walked back towards the group of Jeeps. Major Kingsley returned to talking to General Patton.
"Sir, last time you were here you said you would try to press for the adoption of the M14 to replace the Garand. I have not received any communication from the high command as if a decision has been made yet?"
"Major, the army remains unconvinced about the need for… what do you call it? An Assault Rifle? I have however managed to convince them to adopt it as a replacement for the old BAR. So hopefully they will get you onto the task soon…"
June 12th 1942, Semarang, Central Java, 1240 Local Time (GMT+7)
"How dare you?..." Major General Daryanto slammed his fist against the table.
"…My men took Java and I freely offered you the use of the naval base at Surabaya. My men seized the oil fields of Sumatra and I quite happily let you place a garrison on the Island. I provided you with the Fuel Air Explosives and aircraft you used to break the British in Malaya…"
He stared at the Japanese officer "… And now what?"
The Japanese officer opened his mouth to speak but Major General Daryanto stopped him.
"Now you demand complete control of Sumatra and the city of Jakarta. What next? Will you demand I turn over all my weapons, ships, tanks and aircraft? I know I have little choice but to give into your current demands… but go tell your masters in Tokyo that any more of this and they will have lost my support… and their hold on the East Indies."
June 14th 1942, Singapore, 0520 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
For the last day –since the Japanese had pushed across the Causeway shortly after dawn- the steady rattle of rifle fire had echoed across Singapore Island. Even that wasn’t all, Major Ennis was listening to the latest reports that a Battalion of Japanese infantry had landed by barge and occupied the ruins of Changi… and in an even more imminent threat a sizable chunk of the Imperial Guards were readying themselves for an assault on the Naval Base.
Major Ennis examined a map, the Naval Base was quite well protected with two trench-lines with barbwire entanglements, a number of concrete Pillboxes and last but not least half of the surviving AFVs of the 2nd/14th Light Horse. He had previously thought the Naval Base could fight off an assault by half a dozen Battalions but in the wake of the obliteration of Johore Bahru the troops were so badly demoralised Major Ennis doubted they could hold if hit by more than a Infantry Company.
* * * * * *
The 57mm round hit home with a resounding clunk and Major Ennis knew it was the beginning of the end. The driver turned to Major Ennis.
"Sir, I think that hit must have damaged the tracks… we’re immobilised…"
"Gunner… how many rounds do we have left?"
"Two HE and three AP, Sir."
Major Ennis briefly popped his head up out of the commander’s hatch.
"We have two Type 97 medium tanks coming in… hit ‘em Gunner…"
The 120mm barked and one of the Type 97 Chi-Has disintegrated in a ball of flame just as the second one fired. The 57mm shell hit the M8 AGS, found a weak spot between the bolt on armour and tore into the hull. A scream echoed within the tank…. The shell had killed the driver. Major Ennis glanced round. What could be done now? Should he take the risk? He turned to talk to the Gunner.
"We’ve had it… immobilised and a dead driver… there is no point to waste your life here… Bail Out!"
The Gunner jumped out of the M113 and ran for the nearest trench. Major Ennis crawled into the Gunner’s seat and turned the 120mm on the second Type 97 destroying it. He turned the turret to bring it to bear on a clump of infantry before opening up with Coaxial Machinegun and then lobbing the two HE shells. A steady rumble announced the arrival of another tank and a captured PT-76 appeared from the smoke. Major Ennis turned the turret for a shot but was too late… the PT-76’s gun flashed and a fraction of a second later Major Ennis was dead.
* * * * * *
The fighting continued for another three hours before the Naval Base finally fell. Japanese losses were horrendous, the better part of three Japanese Battalions lay scattered in the ruins, but still that did nothing to hide the fact that Singapore was a good as lost.
June 14th 1942, Near Bergen, Norway, 0850 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The city of Bergen was for all intents under a state of siege. The resistance had cut the flow of supplies from the south to a trickle while the advance of Major General Johannesen’s army had stopped on the city’s northern outskirts.
Normally the fjord leading to the city would have been blockaded by ‘advanced’ patrol boats –the ’69 Storm class or 21C Skjold class vessels-but not today seemed to be a lucky day for Kapitanleutnant and his single Torpedo-Boat, four Schnell-Boots and two Coasters. However in reality it was anything but… Major General Johannesen had left the fjord open especially for this supply convoy. As the German convoy inched up the fjord as the General watched on from one of the observation posts that dotted the shore. With in minutes the ‘game’ was due to start…
The first shots were fired by a troop of British 25 pounders. None of the guns scored a single hit –more or less what Major General Johannesen had expected- but their main purpose was merely to distract the Germans until the main attack arrived. The General glanced towards an NCO who simply nodded back… the main wave was incoming.
The two F-16s tore down the fjord and the moment the convoy came into sight the first of four AGM-65 Mavericks streaked down. Within seconds one of the S-Boots disintegrated in a ball of flames while a second soon sat dead in the water aflame from bow to stern. The other two AGM-65s hit the Torpedo-Boat and started a fire amid-ship.
With their ASMs gone the two F-16s closed to bomb the surviving vessels. The first Falcon targeted the Torpedo-Boat. The Torpedo-Boat dodged out of the way at the last moment and the first bomb missed by a wide margin… but the second detonated mere meters from the vessel and a wave of shrapnel swept over the deck while the blast wave stove in the hull plates, popped rivets and broke steam lines. The second F-16 went for the two Transports. Both bombs hit home and one of the Transports exploded as the bomb ‘cooked off’ a load of ammunition. Meanwhile the Torpedo-Boat listed to port before capsizing barely five minutes after the bomb hit taking over half her crew to the bottom of the fjord.
The single surviving Schnell-Boot raced to escape only to be spotted and strafed by an F-5 that had followed the F-16s as back up. The hail of 20mm shells and 70mm rockets tore the vessel to matchwood.
Even as the last of the wreckage slipped under Major General Johannesen was on his way to request the German garrison’s surrender.
June 14th 1942, Gibraltar, 1018 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The airfield at Gibraltar was crowded with a rather unusual collection of aircraft. Between the ‘temp aircraft, Gnat F.4s from ‘60, TSR-2s from ‘69 and a single 21C Eurofighter Typhoon –on a ferry flight from Saudi Arabia to Britain- the entire tarmac was jammed to the brim. However the most unusual aircraft –an indeed the most recent arrival- still sat in the middle of the runway surrounded by troops.
Admiral Wilhelm Canaris stood on the tarmac clutching a brief case in his left hand, having just been hustled out of the Ju-88 at the point of a Sten gun. The aircraft’s crew had already been hustled away with the exception of the Co-Pilot who Canaris had shot dead with his Luger back over the Mediterranean after a ‘disagreement’ over the defection. The press of soldiers suddenly opened and two men, the first was clearly a naval officer –a Lieutenant Commander judging by his uniform- while the second was in civilian dress, a member of MI6 probably?
The man in civilian dress approached and promptly broke into near perfect German.
"Gunten Tag Herr Admiral, it is good to see you got out alive… I am surprised however that Himmiler hadn’t …er, ‘dealt’ with you already…"
"He would have… if the records from one of the Alternate Realities had been a bit clearer…. Or if Heydrich and one of the ‘future’ SS officers –named Rommel… son of the Field Marshal if I recall- hadn’t vouched for me. No doubt he kept me under surveillance even after that…"
The MI6 agent nodded.
"Yes, he certainly did keep you under surveillance… hell, I had to get some of the 21C SAS in to kill a few SS goons to give you the chance to get out of Sicily."
The MI6 agent gestured toward a helicopter parked just off the tarmac.
"Well we had better get you away from here… Lieutenant Commander Maltby will fly you out to HMS Fife…"
June 15th 1942, South-South-West of Wake Island, 0610 Local Time (GMT+12:00)
Task Force 16 had been patrolling south of Wake Island for the past week after decrypted Japanese transmission suggested the ‘Nips’ might be up to something. The Taskforce was formidable: the Carrier USS Enterprise; a pair of ‘69er escorts, the Charles F Adams class USS Sampson and USS Ramsey a Brooke class Frigate; the Cruisers Salt Lake City and Northampton and an assorted collection of ‘temp Destroyers.
* * * * * *
It had been a stroke of genius to convince the Japanese to use their apparent weakness –the broken JN-25 code- to draw the Americans into a trap. Indeed Captain Surachman of the Indonesian Kilo class Submarine Cakra couldn’t help but grin. What a shock the yanks would get any moment now. He issued the order and the first Shkval torpedo shot from the submarine.
* * * * * *
Lieutenant Commander Kelly had no time to think… these torpedos were moving bloody quickly, which could only mean that they were those Shkval or whatever the 21C navy had briefed him on. What could he do about a 200 knot torpedo? Well it was probably too late but he might as well make the call:
"We have torpedos in the water…. Notify the other ships immediately"
The sonar operator turned to the Lieutenant Commander… from the look on his face it was clear the call had come too late… he had heard explosions and the crack of ships’ keels…
"How many have we lost?"
"I heard at least three explosions Sir, all astern which would probably means Enterprise and the Cruisers have had it…"
The sound of an explosion suddenly tore through the hull as the fourth Shkval detonated under the Missile Frigate. Immediately the lights and all electrical equipment went off. A few seconds later the emergency lighting came on… but Lieutenant Commander Kelly knew it was too late… the room –and presumably the rest of this half of the ship- was tilted at a crazy angle… the Frigate was going down and there was no way he could get out…
June 16th 1942, El Alamein, Egypt, 0530 Local Time (GMT+2:00)
The front line had been static for a week and a half since the Africa Corp had reached the El Alemain line. Once or twice the Germans had attempted a half hearted attack but it seemed that Erwin Rommel had adopted the ‘better part of valour’ in the face of the damage the Leopard Is of 4Cav had done to his heavy armour.
Corporal John Edward sat on the Glacis of his tank watching the flashes as the artillery and the bombers of the Desert Airforce battered the German lines. The Corporal glanced at his watch. John Edward glanced to the tank to the left of his and noticed Captain Spanton -the commander of B Squadron 4Cav.
"Sir, how long until we’re turned loose? I wouldn’t mind bagging myself another E-50."
"Any minute now Corporal… just try not to get too far ahead… we are meant to support these damn ‘temps…" He gestured back towards the collection of Half-Tracks and Bren Carriers that held the 2/28th Battalion of the 9th Division AIF.
"… and of cause the few Crusaders and Grants that the ‘temp have attached to us are going to be damn near useless… all they’ll do is slow us down…" The Captain glanced at his watch "… looks like the time has come… Corporal get back in your tank and let’s get going…"
* * * * * *
Captain Spanton took the lead with pair of Leopards fitted with mine rollers as the Squadron crossed the minefields of no-mans land. Corporal Edward’s tank followed immediately behind ready to deal with any trouble. Trouble came soon enough as the German AT guns opened up… followed soon by a squadron of Panther IIs.
The first shot destroyed the Captain’s tank and immediately brought the column to a halt.
Corporal Edward immediately began yelling.
"Get us clear so I can bring the gun do bear yah bastards… or would you rather die here?"
The driver could only respond with a grunt. Before the 4Cav could disperse four of the attached ‘temp Cruiser tanks were out of action and the Half Tracks of the 2/28th Battalion had been decimated.
However the surviving Leopard AS1s were soon fighting back. As his tank sped along Corporal Edward broke into the regular routine.
"Gunner, target Panther II… Load Sabot"
The 105mm barked and the Panther II disintegrated in a ball of flame.
The Corporal’s Leopard turned and drove directly at the Germans and the routine repeated:
"Gunner, target Panther II… Load Sabot"
All of a sudden a massive blast swept over the tank which immediately came shuddering to a halt.
After the rather unpleasant series of bump Corporal Edward immediately got back into action.
"Driver… what the hell just happened?"
"A mine I guess… must have blown the track clean off…"
"So we’re immobilized?"
"Yes… unless you want to go out and fix it…"
"No fucking way…" Corporal Edward poked his head out of the commander’s cupola "… Phew… no functional enemy tanks in sight… let’s just hope the others clean the Krauts up soon…"
* * * * * *
Despite loosing a one tank destroyed and another two immobilized B Squadron 4Cav cut through the German defenses like a knife through butter. The line held by elements of the German 90th Light Infantry Division utterly collapsed, opening the Africa Corps left flank. Within two hours the rest of the 4Cav and the ‘temp 1st Armored Division had poured through the gap and the Panzerarmee Afrika was soon in all out retreat.
June 16th 1942, Russia, Behind the German Lines, 0610 Local Time (GMT+2:00)
Major Sorokin examined the compound through his binoculars. Within the ring of trenches, machine gun nests and barbed wire sat a dozen large shed… which if intelligence was correct were the primary maintenance facility for the "high tech" German Panzer Divisions. The intelligence seemed to be confirmed by what he could see… outside one of the sheds sat a pair of the now unmistakable E-50s while a group of older Panther IIs and King Tigers were parked near another building.
The Major put the binoculars down and crawled back over the crest of the hill to where ‘his Spetsnaz’ and a collection of Partisans were hiding.
"It seems the intelligence is correct men…"
"Well shouldn’t we get in there and blow the place up?" asked the commander of the Partisans.
"Are you daft? I would think the compound is defended by at least three infantry companies… and if any of those tanks are manned and operational…"
"Your RPGs can destroy them…"
"We used most of our RPGs back when you insisted we ambush that convoy… We wasted precious ammunition and took losses that my Spetsnaz simply cannot sustain… I am already down to twenty-five men… I cannot afford to loose any more…"
The Major suppressed the urge to burst into a tirade against what Stalin had ordered… If those men hadn’t been shipped off to Siberia he would not need to worry about these losses. He could have fielded three detachments plus kept a viable reserve rather than the measly thirty-two men that had started on this expedition.
"… I had better go back up and take another look."
* * * * * *
Oberführer Rommel walked around the Leopard II Main Battle Tank inspecting it in minute detail. He had previously read briefing about the captured 21C tanks but to see one ‘in the flesh’ was even more impressive; it weighed in at almost the same mass as the old Königstiger but at the same time had better protection then the Maus or even the latest version of the E-100… and somehow it was still able to outrun most of the light tanks and armoured cars the Reich had in service.
"Impressive, damn impressive…" he said as he glanced to Obersturmbannführer Meyer.
"Yes Herr Oberführer, just a pity we didn’t get hold of a few more…"
"What? I was under the impression we had captured several dozen?"
"Yes and no Herr Oberführer, it seems it is next to impossible to destroy the hulls of any of the 21C tanks… but at the same time a single Grenade will destroy the electronics on which these vehicles seem to depend… So we have dozens of useless hulks and a few operational tanks"
"So how many are to be sent to the front?"
"There are the three we already have here Herr Oberführer… and another six are on the way. I also understand that another seven are being rebuilt with parts taken from the wrecks… We probably won’t see them for several months."
* * * * * *
Major Sorokin had been observing the compound on and off for virtually the entire morning. That time had passed without any activity of any real note. Now however different, one of the sheds near the railway line was had been opened and a tank had just rolled out… the Major gasped in astonishment… the tank was quite clearly a Leopard II… at least a 2A5 from the appearance of the turret.
The presence of this tank was shocking… If the Germans had that many more the T-55s and T-62s which made up the bulk of the Soviet ‘advanced’ armour would be massacred… Even the small number of T-72s and T-80s that had come back from 21C would be in trouble. Major Sorokin knew he had to notify Moscow at once…
June 17th 1942, Pacific Ocean, North-East of Norfolk Island, 0920 Local Time (GMT+10:00)
From the helipad of HMAS Newcastle Captain James Ferris surveyed the task force. There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this group of ships had been gathered in haste. Astern lay USS Yorktown –recently patched up in Sydney for transit to her now delayed refit- guarded by a pair of 21C RAN Quickmatch class Off Shore Patrol Vessels. To the Port side lay the cruisers USS Louisville and St. Louis and a number of US Destroyers. To Starboard sat the ‘temp HMAS Australia, Perth and Arunta plus the British Destroyers Electra and Express. In addition the Task Force was supposed to pick up HMAS Collins and a number of additional escorts before they met the Japanese off Wake Island.
A sudden flurry of activity behind him drew the Captain’s attention back to his own ship. One of the Petty Officers stoped and saluted as the Captain turned round.
"Sir, the Admiral wants to see you… and there’s that mob of ‘temp officers due aboard shortly…"
"Fine, tell the Admiral I will be with him shortly… Which ‘temps do we have aboard today?"
"Well Sir, there is of cause the Admiral…"
"Yes I know Admiral Fletcher chose us over Yorktown as his flagship… I told him repeatedly we didn’t have the accommodation for his full flag staff… yet he insisted and I got booted out of my cabin… I tell you it isn’t comfortable sleeping on the deck. Who else will we have aboard?"
"Well Sir, Admiral Crace, in command of Task Group 11.7 which comprises most of the escorts; Captain Farncomb from HMAS Australia; Captain Waller of Perth…"
"Maybe it would be easier to list who isn’t coming…"
"Yes Sir… neither of the COs of the OPVs…"
"Damn it, I was attempting to joke… well I’d better go see the damn Admiral…"
June 17th 1942, SS Headquarters, Berlin, 0250 Local Time (GMT+2:00)
Almost three days had passed since the defection of Admiral Canaris. In response the Reichsführer-SS had already overseen the annexation of the Abwehr by the SS. But Heinrich Himmler had other worries: Exactly how much had Canaris exposed? Could they manage to assassinate Canaris before he divulged anything of value? What about the others who had been spared?
The first question could not be answered and the second was a definite no since the British had flown Canaris out of Gibraltar. The answer to the third stood directly in front of the Reichsführer. Undoubtedly Obergruppenführer Otto Skorzeny was more than a little annoyed at being recalled to Berlin mere days before the invasion of Malta but in the wake of the collapse of the Africa Corp his mission was even more urgent.
The Obergruppenführer stared with considerable distaste at the pistol –a Enfield No 2 Mk I Revolver- that sat in the middle of the desk. Undoubtedly most of the distaste was related to his mission… to find, ascertain the loyalty of and if needed kill several men of importance Himmiler had been persuaded to spare despite the evidence from the other worlds. The weapon he was to use had been specifically selected so the deaths could be attributed to enemy action. How exactly the Reich was to attribute the deaths of several Generals -in supposedly secure environments- to the allies was quite another matter.
Otto Skorzeny picked up the pistol and examined his orders one last time before he left the Reichsführer’s office… his first stop was to be North Africa…
June 17th 1942, Near Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, 1105 Local Time (GMT+09:30)
The Bristol Beaufort struggled through the air encumbered by the single bomb mounted below the fuselage. The aircraft had been explicitly modified for this test and rather than the usual four crewmen the Beaufort only carried two: the pilot-a ‘temp Pilot Officer- and a member of the 21C design team that had reverse engineered this weapon from a Walleye glide bomb a yank A-7 had aboard when it landed in Singapore after the transition.
Lieutenant John Hall sat next to the pilot and was staring at a small TV screen keeping track of a set of cross hairs. The cross hairs moved closer to the tin shed that was the target for the test. He briefly glanced to the pilot.
"Left a little… too far…that’s better… nose down… ready to release… three… two… one…"
He reached for the weapons release button and pressed it. For the fraction of a second before the bomb released the Lieutenant briefly thought about how he’d got into this situation… When he had asked those damn RAAF officers on the weapons development team why he had to be on the first test flight, the idiots’ answer? "Your expendable, we’re not"
So here he was in a clapped out old wreck that was barely capable of flying with the bomb strapped underneath… and there was every chance the bomb wouldn’t release properly.
There was a distinct cluck as the explosive bolts detonated and the bomb released cleanly. Lieutenant John Hall emitted an audible sigh.
"Bombs Away… Now let’s get back to the ground…"
The aircraft turned for home just as the radio crackled to life.
"Control to Green One… that was a good hit… repeat a good hit… Over and Out"
June 17th 1942, West of the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean, 0518 Local Time (GMT)
Commander Ian Fleming –already rather predictably nicknamed ‘Bond’ by the crew of HMS Fife- lurched onto the bridge despite visibly being sea sick. As the Naval Intelligence Officer appeared the ship’s XO turned towards him
"So ‘Bond’ how is Admiral Canaris going?"
"First the name is Flemming NOT Bond…"
The XO smiled.
"Well, you are going to make quite a healthy profit from James Bond when the copyright issue is sorted out… So surely you can put up with the nick name?"
Ian Fleming just ignored the XO’s comment.
"… I really shouldn’t be showing you this…" he pulled a number of photos out of his coat pocket "… but I found these photographs in the Admiral’s briefcase and wondered if you could perhaps identify these ships?"
The Destroyer’s XO grabbed the first photo.
"Shit… So that’s what the Jerries have been hiding in Saint-Nazaire… A damn French Carrier…"
The XO glanced back at Flemming.
"It’s either Foch or Clemenceau, the photo isn’t of sufficient quality to tell which… This second picture shows an AA Cruiser… either De Grasse or Colbert… What? Another damn Carrier? A Colossus class vessel I think… so probably Arromanches. Let’s just hope they aren’t ready… they could be an utter bloody nuisance loose in the Atlantic…"
June 19th 1942, Malta, 0618 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The airfield was littered with wreckage: over near the hangers lay the mangled wrecks of the last of the island’s Hawker Hunters; near the Hunters the remains of half a Squadron of Hurricanes lay still smouldering while a pair of Beaufighters lay upturned from a near miss with a thousand pound bomb.
The crash of explosion after explosion swept over the Island as Squadron Leader Peter Townsend sat in a slit trench. How much longer would this continue? Surely there was nothing left on the island worth destroying? Suddenly the explosions ceased and another noise… Peter Townsend may have only encountered this noise once before –back in Britain in the days after the transition- but the racket of approaching helicopters was unmistakable… The Germans were about to invade!
* * * * * *
The formation of Focke-Achgelis Fa-240 ‘Drache IIs’ and ex-East German Mil Mi-8 ‘Hips’ cruised over the Mediterranean. Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny  sat silently in the lead helicopter as he checked his StG-44 for the third time. The range to the landing zone closed and the pilot turned to Otto Skorzeny.
"Mein Obersturmbannführer, are you ready for the landing?"
"Ya, let’s get on a kill a few Britishers."
* * * * * *
The first German helicopter –a twin rotor job- swept in and one of the few surviving 40mm Bofors guns opened up. The shells cut into the helicopter’s fuselage and the aircraft immediately broke apart… However the gun crew were promptly blown to pieces by a volley of rockets that came from a second Fa-240.
Squadron Leader Townsend glanced round… some idiot had stuck his head out of the trench and opened fire on the Drache II with a Bren gun. The response came immediately… there was the brief chatter of a heavy calibre machine gun and the idiot fell to the ground with his upper torso ripped to shreds. The racket increased as more helicopters arrived overhead and the first touched down.
* * * * * *
The Fa-240 touched down and Otto Skorzeny was out immediately seconds before a burst from a Vickers gun set the helicopter alight. He immediately dashed for cover before firing back at the Vickers. His 7.92mm rounds bounced off the sandbags and distracted the machine-gunners long enough for someone to hit the position with a Panzerfaust.
Otto Skorzeny glanced back over his shoulder… the landing zone was in complete chaos. Three helicopters sat burning in the middle of the airfield while several more appeared to be crippled. The survivors of the first wave lay behind what little cover the wreckage offered as British rifle fire swept the ground.
* * * * * *
To Squadron Leader Townsend it was almost like Biggin Hill in the hours after the event… a general sense of chaos with nothing marking the front line. His small group of riflemen had managed to pick off a dozen Germans but Peter Townsend knew that they were out numbered and eventually they would have to fall back, surrender or die… he only hoped it was later rather than sooner…
June 19th 1942, West of El Alamein, Egypt, 0830 Local Time (GMT+2:00)
The convoy was moving west in front of the retreating army. As Obergruppenführer Otto Skorzeny rode in the Kuebelwagon he wondered what his younger doppelganger was going… more probably than not blazing away with an assault rifle in the first wave of the invasion of Malta.
The Obergruppenführer glanced around, up ahead was another Kuebelwagon carrying Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel; while to each side a half-track full of infantry and an armoured car screen the convoy against flank attacks with two similar detachments ahead and behind rounded out the convoy. If it wasn’t for reports of 21C SAS troops being on the loose the convoy would probably be one of the most secure places in North Africa… unfortunately not only was the 21C SAS on the loose but a detachment had been ordered specifically to attack this column.
* * * * * *
Captain Fisher watched the convoy roll past before he tapped his microphone…
"Alpha here… the ‘fox is in the box…" the Captain sniggered slightly at the sheer absurdity of using codes that could have come right out of a Dr. Seuss book "… Operation Foxhunt is go."
With those words men from his SAS Section turned their Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missiles on the enemy and the ‘temps from the Long Range Desert Patrol started closing in…
* * * * * *
In a matter of seconds all hell had broken loose. Half of the escort had been killed and the survivors were pinned behind their vehicles. Obergruppenführer Otto Skorzeny had already got out, grabbed a discarded MP-40 and gunned down two of the ‘temp attackers but now that the 21C SAS had also opened up he realized just how pointless it was… he knew what he had to do and he turned and crawled towards Rommel.
The Generalfeldmarschall lay behind in Kuebelwagon with blood seeping from a wound in his right leg –caused by a ricocheting 5.56mm bullet. As Otto Skorzeny appeared Rommel glanced up at him.
"Obergruppenführer, don’t tell me… I already can see it is hopeless…"
He stopped mid sentence as he noticed Skorzeny reaching for his holster. A look of utter horror appeared on the Field-Marshal’s face as the Obergruppenführer levelled a revolver at him. Otto Skorzeny cocked the pistol and placed his finger on the trigger…
* * * * * *
Captain Fisher had exchanged his radio for a SR-98 Sniper Rifle. He had already picked off a number of German infantry but now he could see an obvious problem right in the middle of the enemy… an officer threatening the Field-Marshal… given the objective was to capture Rommel if possible Captain Fisher couldn’t let this pass… he lined up the cross hairs of his rifle and squeezed the trigger…
* * * * * *
Erwin Rommel stared directly up the barrel of the Obergruppenführer revolver waiting for the inevitable flash followed by the blackness of death… suddenly the top of Otto Skorzeny’s head exploded and a fraction of a second later a bloody crater appeared in the SS-man’s chest. Skorzeny collapsed to the ground and Rommel started to drag himself under better cover.
* * * * * *
The battle raged on but with the death of Obergruppenführer Otto Skorzeny it was a foregone conclusion. After an hour of fighting the few surviving Germans surrendered and Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel was spirited off to a waiting Helicopter.
 Fictional heliborne regiment formed post war consisting of three Battalions.
 Borrowed from John Birmingham’s Axis of Time trilogy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_K_class_submarine, this description exaggerates a bit but the class did have a poor reputation.
 Fictional export variant, derived from a version of the F.6 used for trials of the Firestreak AAM. The type was exported to a number of Middle Eastern nations.
 Another fictional variant, derived from the CFE Hunter proposal (http://www.vectorsite.net/avhunt_1.html#m6). The type is equipped with a more advanced Avon engine, a newer Navigation system, a Drag Chute for STOL use and provision for AIM-9 Sidewinders. Deployed to Germany as a stop gap measure and also exported.
 A reserve unit. Regular Australian Infantry are part of the RAR while the various reserve units are placed in the various Royal [insert state here] Regiment.
 Historically a unit that saw service in Italy and on the Eastern Front. In the Axis-survives TL the unit has been reduced to second line status (hence the old equipment).
 This is the ‘temp Otto Skorzeny not the Nazi-Survive TL one.
The front line had been static for the week since the Africa Corp had reached the El Alemain line.
In a desperate attempt to break the allied defences Erwin Rommel had struck the line with the best of his armour. ‘Temp PzKwIVs advanced toward the line in conjunction with ‘60s E-50s and Panther IIs from the 16th Panzer Division  combined with a scattering of Italian M47s.
The attack had been nothing short of disastrous. Between 4Cav; the 1st Armoured Regiment RAAC; Australian Tiger Attack ‘copters; ‘temp AT guns and anti-tank mines over two-thirds of the Axis tanks were disabled or destroyed before they even reached the British lines. The surviving tanks –perhaps three Companies all up- were soon destroyed by Leopard AS1s and M1A1s of the RAAC; the Light-Antitank-Weapons and 84mm Carl Gustav Recoiless Rifles of the 21C infantry units or by ‘temp with old fashioned hand grenades.