Alright, before I dive in I must preface that due to how important the Balkan story-line during this time period is, we had left the story-boarding to a minimum before today. Apologies for the slight delay our schedules were a bit opposite and it took us until this evening to be able to collaborate, so work started later than we had hoped.
Lightning Round Recap:
Yugoslavia joins axis(Berlin Treaty Pact/BTP in this), couped by U.K., crushed by BTP, partitioned/puppeted between BTP neighbors.. Mussolini's war in Africa where he thought he could forge an empire is going terribly, and he's already pissed he didn't get more of Yugoslavia.
The Balkans: 1941-1943
With the war in Yugoslavia giving Italy only paltry amounts of the Adriatic coastline ending in June of 1941, and the Italian army underperforming in Africa making the ambitions he had accepted the conditions of the BTP over seeming laughably over confident, Mussolini is desperate for a victory and believes his best option is to press his 'Roman claims on sovereignty over Greece'. He calls for a summit of the BTP members in the Fall with his plans, and calls for a joint invasion between himself Bulgaria Yugoslavia and Germany to bring it under mostly Italian heel with parts of Thrace and Macedon going to Bulgaria.
Hitler, while not directly opposed to the idea, but now well aware of just how much Benito has been over estimating his army's abilities, tells Mussolini to wait until his African campaigns and invasion of Britain are completed before opening a new front so Germany can lend aid and attack from Yugoslavia. He also believes that the Yugoslavian army is depleted from just being smashed on all sides and will not be helping, as to help with dissent and consolidate his control over the newly puppeted region through showing them he will not force them to fight his wars. Bulgaria, after its successes against Yugoslavia (an unfair assessment given the circumstances but raising Jingoism nonetheless) is eager for conquests and agrees they will be prepared for when the time comes.
A few months pass, and Mussolini's patience wears thin. His generals and advisers insist that Greece would be a far easier adversary than the Commonwealth, and that their outdated, smaller military stood no chance in a direct conflict in Europe where Italian soldiers are used to fighting. November 1941 Mussolini is done waiting. The preparations have been made and the troops stand ready along the Albanian/Greek border and arrangements with Boris III having met in secret with Il Duce agreed that their combined strength would be more than enough to take down Greece without German and Yugoslavian assistance his military was locked and loaded to engage. November 14th 1941 Italy & Bulgaria declare a limited war on Greece.
Things do not go as expected. The Greeks are not caught off guard (courtesy of a tip from the British who had noticed increased naval preparations in the area, moving towards the Royal Navies evacuation of the Mediterranean with the position in Egypt being deemed untenable and the Suez's fall inevitable as Gibraltar's fort had already broken with only isolated resistance at this point) and full defensive entrenchments have been prepared along both borders, with the coasts guarded from all but the most coordinated invasion and troops held in reserve. Italy makes little progress the first weeks and as the December snows begin to fall gets pushed back into Albania. The blockade in place around Greece, however, is extremely effective and allows them to gain control of the island of Crete and the Aegean islands, due to them being cut off from reinforcement and supply by early January 1942.
Hitler, in the meanwhile, is FURIOUS with both Benito and Boris III for their complete disregard for what he had said at the summit; especially when his entire North African campaign he had been delaying the invasion of Britain for was due to Italian incompetence forcing him to intervene. He refuses to lend naval, air, or army aid as well as declines to allow the Italian or Bulgarian military to use Yugoslavia as a frontline in the war.
By March Bulgaria has made World War I level progress, and Italy is barely holding the line near the Albanian border.
Stalin eyes these events carefully from afar and decides that it is in his interest to intervene. He issues an ultimatum to weak destitute Turkey, give him the Bosphorous Sound Toll and its corresponding region, or he will take it anyway and destroy the entire country along the way. The Turks balk at being told to give up their old capital, but their military at the time consisted of ~150k men and about half that number of old Mausers/Lee Enfields. With the U.K.'s lack of ability to provide any aid whatsoever by this point, and Germany still bound by alliance to not intervene in USSR wars of conquest against the Soviets the Turkish government accepts the ultimatum and local garrisons leave the region immediately. Many Istanbul and other natives in the region also leave as was allowed per ultimatum, and Byzantium is renamed for the 3rd time to (we're open to suggestions for phenomenal historically plausible Soviet names here, place holder will) Alexsandrovgrad.
Securing the strait and thus the Black Sea and Danube/Euphrates estuary was only step 1 in getting a Soviet foothold into Europe, however and by April Stalin has landed enough troops on the Black Sea side (avoiding the Italian blockade) to launch an invasion of Greece. On March 14th 1942 the USSR attacks the Greeks from what they believed was still the Turkish border without a formal declaration of war given in advance.
Greece, this time, is caught by complete surprise and the Soviet spearhead behind the Greek lines with Bulgaria down the coast reaches the outskirts of Thessaloniki before serious organized resistance can be made. Fearing encirclement, the Greeks withdraw more troops towards the Albanian/Athenian areas in an attempt to hold the Greek heartland as after a few weeks of tense fighting and heavy bombardment with massive casualties for the Soviet shock forces Thessaloniki falls. Bulgaria quickly uses the Greek withdrawal to sweep through most of Macdeon and Northern Thrace, as the Soviets focus their thrust South towards Athens and West towards Corfu. Months of hard fighting continue as the Greeks valiantly but futilely resist 3 larger, better equipped armies, yet despite atrocious losses the Soviets had pushed through Athens and were moving towards Pilos. The Italians, in the meantime, regained their lost territory and begun pushing back with the Bulgarians who were about to form a united front with the Italians. King Georgios II, having nowhere left to move his government and staff to continue commanding from and wishing to minimize Greek casualties and suffering formally surrenders to the Soviets late September 1942. A land rush commences where the 'victorious' (air quotes for Italians) militaries race to occupy as much land as possible.
Hitler demands Stalin partition Greece between the BTP, citing their original agreement of the Berlin-Moscow Axis citing Europe as being completely within Germany's sphere of influence and not to be encroached upon by the USSR. Stalin flatly refuses stating the other 2 countries' lack of war contribution, how Greece wouldn't have fallen had he not intervene, and wishing to engage in Mediterranean trade. He forms a puppet government for Greece in Soviet occupied lands, and the rest of it is split between Bulgaria and Italy. (Mussolini sulking and not even willing to show his face to the Bulgarians to demand more land after the whooping his army got, again)
For the first time The Unholy Alliance is tested.
okkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk I was planning on this to go a bit later in time period, however it is LATE here and I was hoping to both start and end this article many hours ago so I shall use that as a stopping point for the time being =]
Once again shout out to WILF, Gre, Weaboo, xugador, Undead Unicorn, TarmSparkarn, Ryzemon, Macaron, Glosur, denis12s and everyone else actively helping us with the mod!
p.s. yes all your terrible useless waste of space and with ridiculous amounts of unwarranted Nationalism that should be more along territory of something greater pride lines than sovereign state levels will be releasable and have storyboarded ways for them to appear at different time periods throughout the mod.
p.p.s. ok fine I'm sorry for calling your countries a silly childish waste ):
p.p.p.s. even tho they are
p.p.p.p.s just kidding guys i love all your countries, even you Montenegro, and that triggeredniz ur feeling is me trolling your nationalizm cause its the Balkans and your proud