The Day After (Thursday in North Carolina)
by Tom Tanner, AP (Axis Press)
LAKE JUNALUSKA, NC July 15 -- The day began bright and clear as the Axis, stung by their first loss in Night Battle in many years, took to the water on Thursday morning. During a stirring speech by Herr Fluegel, he revealed a new strategy to draw the allies onto the rocky shore of the left side of the point with the 24 second boats, bringing them to the smaller 28 second ships. Rule number 1, however, was to stay away from Ronnie Hunt, whose all too effective and reliable guns had devastated the Axis Fleet all week. After a moment of silence for the missing "Curly" Barrett, the Fleet broke to the stirring cries of the word of the day, "Discipline!"
Of course, as with all best laid plans, it didn't survive the execution. Even though the fast Axis Scouting Division attempted to draw in the allies, the allies had other plans, concentrating its power on the weakest Axis boats. The Dan McGuffin's Kongo and Mike Torda's Bismarck sank and Dave Tuttle's Graf Spee took substantial damage in the first sortie, while the allies suffered damage to Cameron Moury's California and Don Fisher's North Carolina.
The second sortie was a battle to get the damaged boats, and the allies found themselves exhausting their ammunition in their defense as the Axis pressed against the Texas and the Maryland. The Axis, in a controversial move, launched the badly damaged Graf Spee into a bay on the left side of the battling area, in a spot not accessible from the main area unless you travelled outside the battling area boundary. The Graf Spee survived,but further launches in that area were "verboten." Meanwhile, the California called "Five" at the start of the battle as well, but was able to avoid the solo attack of Tom Tanner's Hindenburg (which ended the battle with a relatively light 30-5-5) with just 11-1-6, which makes me wonder why he was on Five??!. (Later it was learned he was having gun problems. - Ed.)
Another target of the battle was founder Jeff Poindexter's Texas, which was heavily damaged but in no danger of sinking, and ended the sortie with 92-1-16. Meanwhile, the Derfflinger, run by Tim Filemyr, took up the slack for Tom Tanner by taking 28-8-33, proving once again the superior damage control of German vessels. He was heard to remark that "the Scouting Division performed flawlessly. It hunted down the enemy and got the crap kicked out of it." But, for all the damage the Axis took, they chased the allies from the lake and at the end of the sortie there were five Axis boats, most out of ammunition, still cruising the lake in search of targets.
Buoyed by their performance in the Fleet Battle, and remembering their victory in Tuesday's Campaign, the Axis surged forth right into the fray at the first call of "It's War!" Marty Hayes again proved to be a stellar convoy captain as he guided his convoy ship from port to port unescorted and seldomly molested. The Cormoran, captained by HerrFluegel, and Kurt Lewis' convoy ship, meanwhile, received escort from the "Derfflinger Duo" of Tom and Tim Tanner, er, Tom Tanner's Hindenburg and Tim Filemyr's Derfflinger. Using their speed and bulk to park beside their charges, they never lost a ship in 10 plus runs over two Campaigns, and were rewarded with special commendations from the Axis High Command. As they helped rack up the points by bringing in convoys, Kevin Bray's Lutzow, Dave Lewis's Aoba, and the Graf Spee, among other ships, shot down all of the allied targets, while Orrill Ferguson's Tirpitz used its bulk to protect the Axis ones (he saved 4 at 125 points each!) The Axis lost the Aoba after it reloaded and was launched with only reversethrottle working. In return the allies lost Don Fisher's LST. When all the counting was done, the Axis were victorious once more, deflating the allies' spirit and giving them a taste of what was to occur the glorious Friday morning to come.