Friday, February 3, 2012

1942: The Hinge of Fate

We're a month into 2012, and also a month into the 70th anniversary of 1942, probably the pivotal year of the entire war.

In Winston Churchill's epic 6-volume History of the Second World War, Vol. IV was called "The Hinge of Fate." It's also no coincidence that the classic version of the Axis & Allies war game is set in 1942, the moment when everything seemed to hang in the balance.

It's true that the seeds for ultimate victory and defeat were laid earlier -- but they always are, aren't they? But it';s also true that 1942 represented the point at which things could go either way. On the one hand, if the Axis could build on their 1941 successes in Russia, the U-Boat war, North Africa and the Pacific, ultimate victory was was in sight. On the other hand, if the Allies could stem Axis advances, there was every expectation that eventual victory was assured as their superior economic might came more and more into play.

Bataan, Malaya, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Stalingrad, Gazala, El Alamein, Operation Torch -- the year was full of dramatic developments but by the end of the year the Allies had succeeded in stopping the Axis advances and could start the slow process of rolling them back.

The battles of 1942 are very popular topics for wargames because of their inherent drama and because, I think, so many of the battles were pretty even. I'm going to try to note these as the anniversary dates approach -- and also 1862 for the Civil War 150th and try to get at least some commemorative games played.

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