Scapa Flow (where the DD’s can refuel, and then the group can bring Nelson to Rosyth; due to the recent loss of Royal Oak, ships can only stay at Scapa Flow for six consecutive turns.) Rodney and a couple of escorts move towards the west, hoping against hope to stumble into Gneisenau.
Also this turn I lose yet another CL, this time Dunedin, to a U-Boat in zone AO40. Arrrgggh! Time for Mr. Churchill to press the Yanks for those 50 old DD’s, if Chamberlain will let him.
In Turn 9 we’re back to Squall weather again, and in any case Ceres hasn’t the speed (or, after that near miss, the desire, if truth be told) to chase Scharnhorst, which continues northwest while Gneisenau disappears off the board again. Scharnhorst’s move has me a little puzzled. Is she going after my furthest watch group (CA’s Suffolk and Norfolk, plus an AMC) in the Iceland region? Is she planning on circling around to the northeast to protect Bremen (or to prey upon my groups chasing what could be a will-o-the-wisp in those frigid waters?) Is she taking a roundabout journey to the safety of Wilhelmshaven? Lord (and admiral Dauphinais – Marschall) only knows.
Scharnhorst's new mission is to keep the British guessing while she indirectly heads home to Germany. Gneisenau, which is only very mildly damaged, is headed toward an interception with Convoy HX.9. The good news about running into Rodney and Nelson is that the Germans now know the British task force headed toward HX.9 only consists of dummy battleships. When intercepted, HX.9 will only be protected by the BB Warspite and DEs. This said, Convoy Straggler Searching will have to suffice since the Gneisenau alone cannot handle the Warspite.
With Turn 10 comes night, and the disappearance of Scharnhorst. No great changes otherwise; I think the dummy battleship squadron has enough of a lead on Gneisenau to beat her to HX.9 by a fair margin, the light ship TF is still hovering around Denmark (perhaps trying to draw my Rosyth-based TF of 3 CL and 3 DD into range of German bombers – I will avoid the bait – though I should at least check the potential ranges of his aircraft!), the mystery TF north of Norway plods onward, and HX.8 has reached Liverpool safely. Turn 11 sees another storm brew up, which has the benefit for me of shutting down the deadly U-boats for now, plus slowing the raiders to 2 zones per turn. The storm holds through Turn 12. Rage on, winter weather!
Also in Turn 11 my South Atlantic reinforcements (Strasbourg and a few DD’s, to be reinforced by an escort force of 3 DD that leaves Brest at the same time) arrive, and in Turn 12 my original French TF from Brest (BC Dunkerque, 2 CL and 2 DD) sojourns out of Cherbourg and makes moderately threatening moves east in the Channel.
The storm continues in Turn 13, a turn in which my Western Atlantic reinforcements show up. (Hopefully the storm will abate by the time this group reaches the middle of the map, where my carrier aircraft might have a prayer of locating Gneisenau.) I am also considering keeping the Strasbourg group near the Spanish ports, in case the German tries to seek sanctuary there. [Only German subs, oilers and supply ships can go into a