Special Units For the Spanish Civil War
1. a) Moroccan Regulares (aka Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas) (Nationalist): 4-5-8/(broken side) 8; possessing stealth capability akin to Gurkhas due to their oft ascribed ability to use so called "dead ground"; considered lax when in city terrain (Moroccan troops became far less effective when entering Madrid, due to their disorientation and utter lack of familiarity with city environs); cannot conceal (A12.1) in city terrain. Recruited in Morocco and officered by Spaniards, the Regulares were all volunteers, brave to the point of fearlessness, and represented the best troops on the Nationalist side. Though recruitment in Morocco continued throughout the war, the Regulares took heavy losses in the battles for Madrid, decimating their ranks.
1. b) Spanish Foreign Legion (Tercio de Extranjeros) (Nat.): 4-5-8/8 & 4-5-7/7's - The Tercio, or Spanish Foreign Legion, which was largely Spanish unlike its French counterpart, had a number of combat veterans from the Rif war in its ranks and would include a number of elite counters. - The Spanish Foreign Legion, whose battle cry was Viva la Muerte (Long Live Death), was the elite portion of the Spanish Army, garrisoned in Spanish Morocco and which formed some of the best units on the Nationalist side. Like the Moroccan Regulares, the Spanish Foreign Legion took such heavy losses in the battles for Madrid through the Jarama that it virtually ceased to exist thereafter as an elite unit. Recruitment continued on the mainland, hence the 4-5-7 values.
1. c) Regular Army & Guardia Civil (Nat.): 4-5-7/7's & 3-4-7/6's. - A large number of the paramilitary police, the Guardia Civil, and a lesser number of Asaltos declared for the nationalists. The Guardia Civil were the main police force in the countryside, towns and villages. They were a confident force, well trained and armed and would be represented by the 4-5-7's. The mainland regular army was considered to be a poorly trained and badly led force of conscripts and would include a number of second line troops in its ranks as well as the first line 4-5-7's.
1. d) Requetés (Nat.): 4-4-7/8; sometimes accompanied by field chaplains; can be awarded "fanaticism" (A10.8) by S.S.R. - The Carlist Requétes came mostly from Navarre and were highly religious, many regarding the war as a holy crusade. They would often be accompanied by priests, who risked their lives to perform last sacrament on the battlefield and who urged the men on.
1. e) Falangists (Nat.): 3-4-7/6; same rules regarding entrenchment and artillery as militia (see below). - The Falange was a paramilitary facist orientated political organization which contributed many volunteers to the Nationalist insurrection, but whose troops, though motivated, had little training. Not as initially combat reliable as regular troops, Falangists were often used to garrison conquered areas. Note: both Requetés and Falangists would be represented by regular army counters in later war scenarios, reflecting both battle experience and training by the German Condor Legion.
1. f) Italian CTV (Corpo di Truppe Volontairie) (Nat.): 4-4-7, 3-4-7 & 3-4-6; Mussolini's so called "volunteer" troops were the most part militia conscripts fighting in a war that they had no stake in and for which they were poorly conpensated for, given that 6000 were to die and many were to come home disfigured from their wounds. Poor Italian troop performance was the first indicator that Italy's grandstanding Duce was merely "a paper tiger brandishing a tin sword." Italians enjoyed success against the poorly trained and equipped militias at the Battle of Málaga but performed disastrously at the Battle of Guadalajara, much to the enjoyment of both Republican and Nationalist Spaniards. Later, they fought well enough against the Basques and in later campaigns. The cooperation of Italian and German efforts in aiding the Spanish Nationalists was the cementing factor in the later Axis alliance between Germany and Italy. Black Shirt `God wills it', Black Arrows, Black Flames, and `23rd of March' Division troops are represented by the 3-4-7 & 3-4-6 values. The regular army Littorio Division, which showed better performance, is represented by the elite 4-4-7 value. Though designated as divisions, these Italians units were more brigade sized.
1. g) Milicianos (Militia) (Basque - gudaris) (Republican): use partisan value counters and rules; automatically fanatic (A10.8) when S.S.R. designates them as defending their home village/city, but only when in a building hex (exc. Madrid); must take an additional morale check when attacked or buzzed by a plane, unless in a building hex (So unused to air attack were the militia that they were known to abandon good defensive positions when buzzed by aeroplanes or sometimes even if they just heard one.); cannot entrench unless specified by SSR; when using O.B.A, attacker may take a -1 d.r.m. vs militia (Having not experienced the First World War and a little naive about combat, many Spaniards considered it cowardice to dig trenches or take cover from artillery.); when units in a stack break and rout, they must rout as a stack (Fleeing militia units were notorious for bunching up, making them easy pickings for machine guns set up to pick them off.), may be denied utilization of "point blank fire" (A7.21) if designated by S.S.R. (many militia units didn't have grenades) - The primary fighting force for the Republic in the early war, the militias were largely ineffective and unable to stop the advance of the Army of Africa (exception: Battle of Madrid), though, at a high cost to themselves, they did attrition the Army of Africa's best units and bought some time for a popular army to be trained. Later in the war, militia units not assimilated into the Popular Army could be found acting as guerillas behind Nationalist lines.
Leaders stacked with militia must take a front line position within LOS of enemy units when possible (see 2.c below). They were supposed to lead their troops and expose themselves to danger, showing their machismo as a qualification for leading. Obviously, many died.
Militia were highly suspicious of officers and trusted only their own leaders. Regular army officers and leaders from other politicial organizations are treated as allied officers.
The communist organized 5th Regiment represents a special case in that, though they were a militia unit, their troops were better organized and equipped and tried to emulate military discipline and effectiveness. 5th Regiment troops are best represented by 4-4-7 counters from the Popular army. Their leaders, many purposely recruited from ex-Foreign Legion and the regular army, need not take the suicidal front line stance.
1. h) Asaltos and Loyalist Army (Rep.): 4-5-7/7 & 3-4-7/6 - The Guardia Asaltos (Storm Troops) were a paramilitary urban police force, similar to the Guardia Civil, whose loyalties mostly lay with the Republic and were relied on to be a force loyal to the government should there be an insurrection. Not as numerous as the Guardia Civil, the Asaltos formed the best Republican troops of the early war and played a key factor in suppressing army units attempting to rise in certain cities, thus keeping these areas loyal to the Republic. Though a majority of Guardia Civil did declare for the Republic, the fact that so many didn't kept the Republic suspicious of them and they were often dispersed to militia units, which prevented their being utilized to their best capabilities. Asaltos personnel were drawn from ex-Army of Africa and Foreign Legion and were considered better trained and equipped for street fighting than army conscripts.
Loyalist regular army units could be found in the early stages of the war still in formation, though they were bled from desertion either to the Nationalists, or to Militia bands representing their local community and eventually were disbanded. Still, loyal army units fought for the Republic in early stages and can be represented by first line troops as in the 1st Division of Madrid or by a mix of first and second line troops (3-4-7's).
1. i) International Brigades (Rep): 4-4-8/7, 4-4-7/7, & counters for regular Republican army; at least one commissar per unit - One of the major participants in the wartime Republican coalition was the Spanish Communist Party and when the regular army revolted, Stalin decided that a communist defence in Spain would bolster the communist image worldwide. Not willing to risk the provocation of using Soviet troops, he ordered the Comintern to recruit and send volunteers from all over the world to fight in Spain. These volunteers were highly motivated, though they were often young and had little training. Most were communists, some later became communists, others were adventurers or anti-facists. They were initially organized along roughly national lines and arrived just in time to take part in the crucial battles for Madrid. Since they were communist organized, they tended to have a little better material support than other units (Russia had become the principal supplier of aid to Republican Spain.). The International Brigades took heavy casualties in the battle to save Madrid, but their timely arrival helped save the Republic. Later, many of the brigades had their men transferred to other Spanish units to impart training and battle sense to the undisciplined Spaniards. And as Spanish replacements filtered in, the International Brigades became international in name only. Brigade volunteers came from all over Europe, the Americas and even Asia. Some rare units actually contained a high number of W.W.I. veterans, hence the higher morale values. The German anti-facist Edgar Andre battalion was among the best. Other units of note are the Italian Garibaldi's, who ended up fighting Mussolini's Italians at Guadalajara, Franco-Belgian Andre Marty Battalion which fought to the last before being wiped out, the British Saklatvala, which lost one third of its men defending Suicide Hill, the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau, and Polish-Hungarian Dabrowsky.
Most of the International Brigade units found after the Battles around Madrid would not rate the higher values reflecting that they were largely inexperienced, albeit enthusiastic, and are better represented by counters for the People's army.
1. j) Peoples Army (Ejército Popular de la República) & Basque Army of Euzkadi (Rep.): 4-5-8/8, 4-4-7/7, 3-4-7/7, & 3-3-6/5; probably at least one commissar per unit. - As a proper training process began to be implemented and take effect, the Republic was at last able to field a regular army. However, except for certain elite communist units, material shortages were always endemic. The highest value counters would represent specially trained commandos, such as were used in some parts of the Ebro offensive, and are therefore quite rare. They might also be used to represent some International Brigade Battalions. As Russian training methods became more pronounced over time, the regular use of commissars became an almost standard feature, as with the International Brigades. The reason for the high number of units available for unit substitution is that the later Republican army showed a remarkable ability to take a heavy pounding and still maintain unit integrity, though these units were often severely reduced as to combat worthiness. Most Basque units would probably start with the 3-4-7 as their most basic squad, since though stubborn, they lacked training and military experience. Basques units would not have commissars.
2. a) Field Chaplins: Represent priests serving with the Navarrese Carlist troops on the Nationalist side, and Basque troops on the Republican side. They cannot direct fire, can only rally or raise morale, units stacked with them have morale raised by one and are automatically fanatic. Field Chaplins must take a front line position (to be ready to give last sacrement). Navarrese priests can man machine guns while the Basque counterpart cannot man any weapons. (Though they are given no beneficial leadership modifiers, all are assumed to have an inherent -1 for rallying purposes, some priests were actually known to get in the way, urging the troops to action, hence a +1 modifier might be ascribed to some chaplains to reflect this. This modifier would affect only fire, not rallying or morale.)
2. b) Commissars: Once Russian advisors and aid began to take a paramount role in the Republican effort, Commissars were actively used. Though present from early on in the war, the use of the commissar as represented by the A.S.L. game piece is not automatic for all scenarios. The commissar was a political indoctrination and training officer who co-commanded with the actual unit commander. One was concerned with the military function of the unit, the other, the political reliability of the troops and commander. Later, the wide use of conscript soldiers and battle fatigue amongst existing units brought about the use of the commissar as he is known in A.S.L.
2. c) Leaders: Nationalists had many field commanders of good quality in early scenarios. However, as casualties mounted, they turned to quickie schools to turn out young officers with minimal if any experience, dedicated but not learned. Since many of these young men were drawn from aristocratic or educated backrounds, they would have fairly good morale, but would suffer in leadership modifiers. The Carlists produced good and able leaders as shown by their ability to keep their troops in action. Also, they had made use of secret training centers before the war, always awaiting the chance for a new rising. Falangists would have the poorist leadership representation among the Nationalists until later in the war, when German training started to help.
Republicans had some good leaders at the very beginning, (asalto, and loyalist army) however, many of these soon were soon displanted to be replaced with men having good political connections but little if any military training (Especially true under the communists where having led a Communist youth organization was sufficient to command a division). In such cases, one would not expect to find modifiers higher than a "+1." Later, better leaders and commissars become available, to reflect battle experience and leader training academies, but rarely was someone remarkable produced. School of hard knocks, aka. battle experience, probably produced the best Republican leaders outside of the International Brigades since the Republican leadership schools, it is said, produced leaders as conservative and rigid as were in the old army.
Because of the extreme bravery and equally tragic tactical stupidity shown by many Republican militia leaders and Nationalist junior officers, I recommend creating a 9-0, 10-0 leader type to reflect this, highly courageous, but militarily naieve leader that could inspire the troops. These leaders, having machos, would take front line stances with their troops when able. Historical accounts relate that the combat lifetime of some Nationalist junior officers and early Republican militia leaders could be measured in days, sometimes hours, of service. These values reflect such individuals. One would assume that such surviving leaders, having learned the hard way, would evolve in time to 8-1 and 9-1 values, not as reckless and a lot wiser.
3. Dinaminteros: The dinaminteros were Asturian miners who were experts with the use of dynamite from their jobs. They were men and boys who entered battle armed with dynamite and nothing else. Because Asturia was largely Republican in sympathy, great numbers of these miners flocked to the Loyalist cause. Accounts relate them being able to approach a machine gun nest in a building from the building's blind side, drill mounting holes for the dynamite and figure the charge to just the right amount to blow up the entire building and leave those alongside untouched. Also, they were able to trim fuses so expertly that they could toss dynamite like a grenade so that it would explode on impact, without the receiving troops having even a chance of throwing it back. They would be considered a special troop type, having no firepower, but having a reusable demo charge capability. They have a breakdown number of 9, as if they carried an inherent support weapon, to reflect that they might carry limited charges, fuses, broken detonator, etc. If their breakdown number is rolled, they are eliminated. The dinamintero had a basic morale of 7 and a broken morale of 6 reflecting his irregular status. If SSR designates the Republican unit to which the dinamintero belongs as being fanatic, then the dinamintero is also considered fanatic.
Molotov cocktail: Nationalist version was petrol in a bottle stuffed with a rag and tied to a hand grenade. The hand grenade would explode and the gasoline would burn, deceiving the tank crew into thinking that they had been hit and that they were on fire, and therefore abandon their vehicle. The Nationalists, having no heavy tanks of the Russian caliber, had to resort to tricks like this to capture T-26 tanks. - drawn from Hills, p. 85.
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