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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Wednesday 9 November 2022

Operation Gertrud

This is my latest play test of scenarios for a wargaming supplement to my forthcoming book on Turkey in WW2. 

Operation Gertrud was the name given to a German plan to invade Turkey in 1942. It was planned to start from Greece and Bulgaria in the west, from Syria in the south and from the Caucasus. Hitler planned on establishing an Armenian state rather than supporting Turkey's concept of bringing the Turkic peoples together in a Turkish-led state, a concept known as pan-Turanism. 

The main attack would come from Greece and Bulgaria into Thrace. With the Germans in Greece, the Turkish defence of Thrace became even more challenging. The Turkish 1st Army's X Corps was based at Kirklareli with the 46th Infantry Division, 2nd Cavalry Division, Independent Armoured Brigade and 26th Infantry Brigade. The bulk of the 1st Army was in the Çatalca area outside Istanbul, deployed in the Çakmak Lines, with III Corps a little forward of that at Corlu. The 2nd Army also had its II Corps in Gallipoli and additional units on the other side of the Straits. We have no idea what units the Germans would have deployed. Still, it seems reasonable to assume it would be spearheaded by a panzer corps and supported by a couple of infantry corps with Bulgarian and Italian divisions as well.

Historically, it is likely that the Turks would have quickly fallen back on their fixed defences in the Cakmak Lines. However, for this scenario, we refought the first clash between a panzer division and the Turkish covering forces. German infantry crossed the Maritsa River on the Greek border and created a bridgehead. The panzer division crosses the river and aims to cut off Turkish X Corps from Istanbul by capturing Luleburgaz. General Altay forms a battlegroup from X Corps to halt them near the town of Pehlivankoy, west of Luleburgaz.

Turkish forces on the right.

The view from the German Kampfgruppe.

We used Sam Mustafa's Rommell rules for this, as you can tell from the grid mat. The models are 10mm from several ranges. If you want to try this yourself, my Turkish battle boards are on the project page. In 10mm, Turkish armies don't require much work. The armour and artillery are readily available, and the infantry is easily adapted from other ranges.

I'm afraid the panzers made short work of the Turkish defences. The right hook was less effective, and with only one bridge over the Ergene River in this sector, the Turks could at least slow up the attack.

There are lots of other scenario possibilities with Operation Gertrud. Some Brandenburg or airborne assaults around Istanbul may be worth a go. I also fancy the British response 'Plan Wonderful', which envisaged a defence in Eastern Anatolia and then the Taurus Mountains.


  1. Interesting looking game. I always like to see high level games being played out.



  2. Did the Germans really need any more enemies in ‘42? Still, it’s a nice little what-if.

  3. Fascinating article & game. Thanks for compiling it.