|Operation in Cannes|
|War||World War III|
|Date||June 3rd, 1967|
|Result||Allied leaders liberated, Soviet Mediterranean Fleet forced to relocate to Crete|
|Allied Nations||Soviet Union|
|• Colonel Alex Manning
• Colonel Warren Fuller
|• Major Pavel Podinsky
• Admiral Yuri Grishenko
|• Operation Thunderball
• Palais des Festivals Garrison
• 4th Allied Army (detachment)
• 763th Tactical Bomber Squadron
|• Cannes Garrison|
• Soviet Mediterranean Navy
|• Light||• Heavy|
|• Port of Cannes destroyed|
• 87 civilian casualties
Background[edit | edit source]
As the Red Army marched into the mountains of Switzerland and besieged the Allied Headquarters in Geneva, the Allied leadership fled the country to an undisclosed location according to the emergency plans devised in case of a threat to their safety in order to escape capture by Soviet hands, which would paralyze the entire Allied effort. As the Soviet army captured Swiss banks and destroyed ships in Lake Geneva, a convoy of Cardinals and escorts left the city and headed down into the south of France, landing at Lyon. Soviet intelligence could not, however, find any trace of Bingham and his subordinates despite searching through the city when it was captured in May 1966.
What the Soviets had missed was a large and non-descript, apparently civilian truck among the vehicles leaving Lyon a few days later, heading south down the road towards the French Riviera. Meanwhile, the Palais des Festivals in Cannes was evacuated and an underground communications facility, built in for emergencies, was prepared for usage as the truck arrived in the city, secretly unloading the whole Allied chain of command and all the important civilian leaders. Decoy facilities in Verona, Bilbao and Bordeaux, where activity was deliberately visible in order to fool the Soviets into searching for the Allied leaders in the wrong places, were also "readied for usage" at the same time.
Cannes was one of the many cities taken by Soviet forces in the autumn of 1966, as the Allies continued to be pushed back on the European continent. The Allies amazingly continued to send out orders from the city while under Soviet control, encrypting the signals heavily and confusing the Soviets by having mounted hidden signal disruptors around the western Mediterranean, which both contributed to the slow-down of the Soviet advance and hid the Allied orders from Soviet view, allowing the Allies to stay and conduct warfare from occupied territory in an unprecedented move.
However, it was obvious to anyone that the daring strategy, although effective, couldn't work forever. As the Soviets identified more and more of the signal disruptors and destroyed them, the Allied radio transmissions were tracked down and as the Allies landed in Normandy, the Russians pinpointed the Allied command centre to the French Riviera and initiated search-throughs of all major cities including Cannes, which was being used as a dock for the ships of the Soviet Mediterranean Fleet.
The Allies knew that they would be found in a matter of weeks if not days, and sending their invasion army down to Cannes to drive the Soviets away would alert their enemies, allowing them to focus their efforts and probably capture the Allied leaders even quicker. Thus the Allies initiated Operation Thunderball, in which a task force consisting of Agent Tanya and a couple of the Allies' top spies would save the Allied leaders, demolish the fleet base and route the Soviets from Cannes, assisted by a contingent from the Army which would be able to push south routinely without gaining any special attention.
Force Composition[edit | edit source]
Allied Forces[edit | edit source]
Due to the risk involved, the Allies could only afford to send in a few men on the mission; thus, with little in quantity, the quality had to be enormous. Agent Tanya, fresh from saving an Allied base in Spain, was of course to be part of the operation, together with four of the best Spies the Allies had; Agents Connely, de Mer, Dinton and Litzefelt. They arrived outside Cannes in a modified, stealth-equipped Riptide ACV on June 2nd and planned the operation themselves in secret as Soviet patrols searched through every corner of the city for the Allied Command Central. Tanya and her team took orders from Colonel Alex Manning only, one of the men behind the Allied victory in Brighton, who had been commissioned especially for the extremely sensitive operation.
Meanwhile, a small force had been detached from the Allied 4th Army, which was currently invading France from the south and were heading in full steam towards Marseille, and led by the acclaimed Colonel Warren Fuller. While the task force wouldn't arrive in time for the operation itself, and would compromise it anyway with its presence, its job was to depose of the Soviet forces in Cannes threatening the Allied Centre of Command when the Palais had been secured by Tanya's group; the defenders of the building numbered a hundred men only, even if a couple of them were elite Rocketeers. The force consisted of only 500 men, but of the Allies' finest ones with experience from both France and Germany, along with a few FnACV-66D3 Riptides, Multigunner IFV Mk. Is and MBT-X8 Guardian Tanks.
In addition, the 76th Tactical Bomber Squadron which had been based in Cannes since before the war had been captured by the Soviets and was being held on the tiny Îlot Saint-Ferréol, not used by the Soviets as they lacked competent pilots, the Allied ones refusing to comply and shot by an aggressive officer. Tanya was informed by Manning to rescue the planes as soon as possible, after taking down the relatively meagre defences. As all the Spies had been trained in piloting, they would be able to man the planes after the docks had been demolished and thus give critical assistance to the mission from the air - recon had shown that the anti-air measures consisted entirely of a squad of Bullfrogs, and were thus vulnerable.
Soviet Forces[edit | edit source]
The overstretched Red Army, desperately needing men on the frontline, had earlier cut the strength of the garrisons on the Riviera, at the time far from where the action was taking place, to the dismay of many a Conscript who hoped to serve in the sun. Therefore, only 7000 men and not more than a hundred and fifty bears were on guard in the city; even less foot soldiers than had been stationed in several militarily useless cities in the Ukraine before the Imperial invasion, proof that even the Soviet manpower had its limits. Instead, the main punch which the Soviet Army in Cannes packed consisted of vehicles, more specifically Sickles and Hammers rampaging through the city together with the infantry in search for the Allies, still hiding in the Palais des Festivals. The garrison in Cannes was under the command of Major Pavel Podinsky; the fact that a mere major was responsible for the defence of the entire city served to illustrate the low regard the Soviets had for the city's defence.
Since the city was used as a port, the real threat to the operation was instead in the waters. A staggering 30 Akula-class Submarines and 30 Bullfrogs were deployed in Cannes and around the Lérins Islands to guard the three Potemkin-class Battleships and the Dreadnought-class Missile Cruiser CCCP Astrakhan, currently on repair in the hastily established docks on the Lérins Islands, which served as the command central for all Soviet naval activities in the western Mediterranean.
In fact, it was the only major naval docks the Soviets had west of the Apennine peninsula; most of the Soviet naval activities were in the Adriatic and in the Greek waters, and therefore Cannes was critical for the entire Soviet naval activity in the Mediterranean Sea, in retrospect making the reduction of soldiers even more of a strategic failure. Admiral Grishenko of the Soviet Mediterranean Fleet, personally present on the CCCP Astrakhan and commanding the fleet from it, would therefore forever hold a grudge against General Krukov, responsible for the Soviet army in France.
To Russia With Love[edit | edit source]
As the clock struck midnight and June 2nd turned to June 3rd, Tanya and the spies entered Cannes under the cover of the night, heading towards the water. Soviet soldiers were patrolling the city, and without reinforcements it would be impossible to secure the Allied Command. It was only a matter of time before the Red Army would find out the location; search-throughs discovered more Allied signal disruptors every day, and the Allies knew only luck kept the Soviets from finding the Command Centre. That time could not be wasted on attacking the patrols and attracting the full Soviet arsenal to Cannes. Instead, the plan was to divert Soviet attention and prolong the search until Commander Fuller's reinforcements would come and clear the field; the Allies were steadily regaining ground, and it was only weeks before the 4th Army would reach Cannes and secure the area for good.
At the same time, the Allies could never hope to reclaim the Riviera as long as the Soviet fleet still guarded the coasts, ready to bombard the Allied army anytime. Taking care of two problems with one strike, the team therefore decided on the perfect distraction for the patrols; demolishing the Soviet port on the Lérins. The old port of Cannes on the mainland was used for civilian ships and supply shipments, and lacked room for the massive Soviet battleships; therefore, the Soviets had constructed new docking places on the islands, fortified with several Tesla Coils. With the port gone, the remaining ships would be forced to leave Cannes. The Spies all brought packets of explosives with them, cleverly hidden inside fake ADK-45 rifles as the Spies disguised themselves as Conscripts. The task force made their way towards the sea, carefully avoiding enemy Vehicles and eliminating any infantry encountered.
Slowly swimming towards the Île Sainte-Marguerite, Agent de Mer noticed two inhuman silhouettes on the horizon, swimming towards them. Realizing that the bears would sniff out the Spies instantly due to the non-regulation cologne they wore, he whispered the situation to his teammates, and the Spies all took a deep breath and submerged, leaving Tanya to put a bullet each in the foreheads of the both bears from 50 meters away. As the threat was gone, they continued towards their goal; the newly-built docks, where several submarines and two Potemkins were stationed, most of the crew asleep or on land as the ships were on maintenance and not expecting any immediate threat.
The Conscripts on guard were tired enough to not notice an apparent Comrade with wet clothes walking past them towards the Tesla Coils and the Reactors powering them. Neither did they notice him picking up fine, clearly capitalist-made scissors from his pockets, nor the electricity fading from the Coils. What they did notice was a lightly clad woman running towards them; unfortunately the last person they would ever notice. Tanya sneaked past more drowsy soldiers, relieving them of being sent to Gulag on the way, with the Spies marching in line a few meters after her, avoiding any bears on patrol. Upon arriving at the first dock, Agent Connely boarded the ships and informed the crew that an inspection was imminent in perfect Russian. As sudden inspections wasn't uncommon in the Red Navy, the sailors complied and frantically began cleaning the vessels, giving the disguised Spies time to melt in with the sailors and carefully plant remote-controlled bombs inside the ships.
Meanwhile, Tanya went through the island for Conscripts and bears to remove, skillfully avoiding the Tesla Coils. While on her way towards the Barracks where the soldiers not on guard rested, a Soviet soldier ran towards her sluggishly like only a drunkard can, his unpredictable movements putting the Allied Commando off guard. Dodging and finally managing to shoot him, a crackling sound in the distance was enough for Tanya to immediately reach for her Chrono Belt, and moments later she saw a deadly electric bolt fry the ground where she had been standing. At the same moment, the Spies had sneaked off the ships and joined Tanya, proceeding to cut off the power to the entire base. The towers were demolished seconds later by Tanya's infamous C4 charges.
The Woman with the Double Guns[edit | edit source]
With the first docks secured and the ships ready to be demolished at any time, the group moved on, leaving the Île Sainte-Marguerite and continuing south towards the Île Saint-Honorat, ending the lives of two more bear patrols in the process as they were approaching the team like the one before. By now, the sun was rising and the Soviet Soldiers were about to wake up; including the crews of most of the remaining submarines, the last Potemkin and the CCCP Astrakhan. Indeed, the Spies arrived on the island just in time for the signal calling all soldiers to breakfast in the Barracks. Agents Dinton and Litzefelt quickly changed clothes to dry ones and joined the convoy of Conscripts towards the Barracks, in order to delay them and allow Tanya and the two remaining agents to clear the field.
Meanwhile, the bears all regrouped to the other side of the base to be fed, allowing Agents Connely and de Mer to sneak aboard the remaining ships and plant the remaining bombs. As the bears weren't threatening the spies, Tanya swam a bit further to the Îlot Saint-Ferréol, where she found the Airbase guarded by a few Tesla Coils and soldiers; however, the Reactors powering these were unprotected only a short distance away from the island. Demolishing these, the Tesla Coils were no longer any threat as the planes were ready to be manned. Tanya disposed of the guards quickly and returned to the Île Saint-Honorat afterwards.
At the remaining docks, the breakfast was over and the guards returned to their position, endangering the agents who all proceeded to hide inside the base's Reactors, cutting the power output at the same time. This allowed Agent Tanya to land on the island and save their hides from any Conscript and Bear in her way. In Cannes itself, Major Podinsky was getting nervous over the lack of radio response from the docks on the Île Sainte-Marguerite, and ordered the search for the Allied Command Centre to be intensified. He also called Admiral Grishenko on the Astrakhan, who investigated the matter and found that far too many men had disappeared on the island, and also noted a bomb-looking object that wasn't there the day before placed by the engines. Realizing that something was very wrong, he threw the bomb over the reeling and ordered the Astrakhan to leave port and sail into the waters, seconds before the Potemkins exploded along with the stationed submarines and the dock itself, just like the docks and ships on the Sainte-Marguerite. While the port and the fleet was all but gone, the Soviets were now fully aware of the Allied presence.
Giving 'Em the Goldfinger[edit | edit source]
Podinsky and Grishenko began suspecting that the Allied leaders were in Cannes, and their suspicions were confirmed by reports from the Soviet Intelligence, which had been able to track the signals sent from the Allies to Cannes; they even had pinpointed the exact location, and Soviet forces were now marching on the Palais des Festivals, ready to storm the building. Inside the Palais, the Allied commanders under Bingham alerted Tanya, Fuller and Manning of the incoming Soviet attack on the Palais and sent out the emergency defence squad stationed in the Palais to fight back the Soviets. While they did hold them away, the Allied soldiers fell one after one to Sickle fire, and the remaining Bullfrogs were coming to take down the Rocketeers.
While the Spies scrambled to the Vindicators and manned them, Tanya pursued the Astrakhan which had not been destroyed. The ship tried to fire at her, but the missiles only hit the already destroyed dock. Dodging bullets from the crew, she dived under water and swam under the ship, holding her breath just long enough to plant a C4 charge under the ship. Detonating it as she swam away, and while it didn't destroy the ship it damaged it severely and made a gaping hole in the hull, forcing the ship to be steered onto land and stranded at the beach. Admiral Grishenko retired from the ship, swearing at the commando who had yet again dived underwater to escape enemy fire. She didn't have time to waste on the crew, however, as news had reached her and the Spies that the Palais des Festivals was under siege.
Licence to Kick Butt[edit | edit source]
Bingham looked out of a hidden window with worry, seeing the tables turn on them before his eyes. For every Bullfrog or Sickle taken apart, at least five Allied soldiers were lost. Parts of the Soviet force were getting ready to storm the buildings. Suddenly, new gunfire could be heard and the Soviet infantry fell as flies as Tanya appeared, emptying her rounds on the siege force shouting "Shake it baby!" With the Soviets still taken by surprise by the reinforcements, the four Vindicators dove low and dropped their load on the Soviet vehicles, taking out a decisive amount of the Sickles and leaving the defence force to take out the Bullfrogs left. The tides had turned yet again as the Allies now outnumbered the Soviets, and a few minutes later the crippled remainders of the Soviet forces surrendered the battle and the city to the Allies. Cheers erupted inside the Palais des Festivals as Tanya entered the building and high-fived Bingham.
In the horizon, the rest of the city was filled with fights between the garrison remainders and Commander Fuller's reinforcements, having arrived half an hour before and dominating the Soviets who had almost no morale left after the setbacks. A few hours later the Allied and French flags replaced the red Soviet banner at the Town Hall as the remaining Soviet fighters fell or lay down their weapons. Another European city had been reclaimed, and this time the Allied leadership with it.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
The presence of the Allied Supreme Command itself was probably responsible for the unusual number of decorations given out to the commanders and agents responsible for the victory. Several voices called for Manning and Fuller to be promoted into generals, but they both declined - Fuller refusing to leave the field and Manning citing relative inexperience. Still, Bingham's trust in them would later play a role in their assignments to several extremely important fronts. Agent Tanya was chosen by Timely Magazine as 1967's Person of the Year, featuring an article about her role in Cannes dubbed The Shark and the Lure. The four Spies were all promoted within ACIN, and no one has seen them in the Allied records ever since with rumours flying around the Allied grapevines such as Agent Dinton preparing to stand as a candidate for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or Agent de Mer being engaged to whichever Hollywood star who was hottest at the time. Cannes was no longer suitable as a centre of command as it had been compromised and also due to its proximity to the front, and so the Allied Supreme Command was evacuated to England where they would remain until after the war, when the front had become stabilized. The Film Festival of 1969 was moved to Lisbon, Portugal while the city of Cannes was repaired, but is scheduled to return in 1970.
The Soviets punished Major Podinsky for the loss, although it couldn't be blamed on him alone - the lack of garrison size was a problem all over the Western Front, and most of southern France was subsequently captured with relative ease as the 4th Army advanced northwards. The loss of Cannes was a blow to the self esteem of many a Soviet officer, and doubts began to grow of the Soviet capacity to win the war. Nothing was of course said out loud. Admiral Grishenko would continue to serve the Soviets until the end of the war.