Ya Ali! A Hearts of Iron 3 Campaign Diary – Prelude/September 1939

Ya Ali! A Hearts of Iron 3 Campaign Diary – Prelude/September 1939

With Hearts of Iron 3 proving to be such a leviathan game, I decided to accompany our verdict of it with a long term campaign diary to demonstrate how a full play of the campaign could turn out, and have a laugh a long the way.

I’ve opted to play as Persia (though it should be Iran as of 1936, mind.) It’s not the most obvious choice, but an interesting one none-the-less. During the war, Iran was occupied by Allied/Soviet forces to take advantage of its rail road system, and to prevent it from forging links with Germany. Not to mention defending a British company’s (BP, then known as the APOC) vital oil interests in the region. I thought I’d try my hand at it firstly because I imagine the main players will receive enough attention as it is, and secondly because it should offer a radically different strategic challenge in comparison with others.


September 11th, 1939: Iran enters the Second World War on the side of the Axis powers. The Shah’s state has spent the past 2 years attempting to build up its infrastructure and industrial capacity to wage war, with some success, but little hope of fielding a war winning force. While two years of economic development have brought forth unprecedented prosperity of resources, particularly holding utterly vast supplies of oil, the military situation is bleak. Fundamentally, the Shah has evidently preempted the 1950s attempt by Mossadeq to seize control of oil supplies, evidently securing the ire of the meddling British.

Iran, 1936

In the rest of the world, history has taken some intriguing turns. The Spanish Civil War which broke out in late April 1936, was quickly subdued by loyalist Republicans within a matter of months, while Japan’s gamble in the Far East had stalled somewhat, seeing Nationalist and Communist China banding together against the common enemy. The Shah had long since decided on who he would side with,  joining the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and its puppet state Ethiopia in September 1936. As the years rolled by, Germany absorbed Austria and Czechoslovakia, and by April 1939 had prepared the army with which the war would be launched.


The next month the war begins. Upon its ignition, the Allies; France, Great Britain, South Africa and Poland; are joined by Republican Spain, Ireland. The alliance however, is utterly in vain, as the Panzer storm lances across Poland in an operation that takes scarcely a month. A token and seemingly rash invasion of Germany by Great Britain occurs in May 20th, baffling all observers, though the occupation of Wilhelmshaven lasts scarcely 2 weeks before an embarrassing British withdrawal.


As tensions build between Allied and Axis members, Britain embargoes Iran, and begins to position units along the Iran/Iraq border. In response, an angry Shah throws out French merchants. Comintern, the Soviet alliance too, has not been idle. As the invasion of Poland by Germany and the USSR is completed, dividing the beleaguered nation in two, the Soviets acquire Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, undoubtedly prompting an isolated looking Finland to join the Allies.

As July and August move on, German army divisions in the east begin to mobilize along the western front, leaving a small force of Panzer divisions along the east. An earily calm 2 months was not to last indefinitely however, and during the late hours of September 10th, Germany calls its allies to arms…


September 1939

Germany’s call to arms on September 11th sees full scale war declared between Britain, France, South Africa and what remained of the Polish government against all the Axis powers, now encompassing Germany, Iran, Italy, Slovakia and Ethiopia. Almost immediately, likely sensing a shift in the balance of power, Romania joins with Comintern.

As dawn breaks over the skies of the Iran/Iraq border on September 12th, British divisions stationed in its stooge like puppet, Iraq thunder into the Shah’s land. The Iranian army however is somewhat inexplicably placed at the northern border with the Soviets, preventing an immediate counter-attack. 7 brigades of the British eastern forces, including 5 infantry  units and armour/motorised support is pitted against the sloth like mobilization of Iran’s 11 motley understrength brigades of militia, cavalry, infantry and anti-tank infantry. With infrastructure so cripplingly slow, engagements are not set for a few days.


The next day, a lone British brigade is reported in the southern provinces bordering with their possessions in India. With nothing to prevent them, it seems they will be set to roam Iran until they either run out of support and supplies, or the main force in the west is defeated freeing up enough manpower to dispatch against the rogue invader. Elsewhere, Italian forces swiftly engage with France’s emaciated southern defense force, and begin making gains against British possessions in eastern Africa.

Rogue BritsItalianGains

By September 14th, the enemy forces are making significant headway, and the first border provinces are seized as the hand of the British extends its reach over the ancient Aryan lands, while the next day, the first convey ships with Germany are ruthlessly attacked by British and South African fleets. Around mid-day of the 15, the first battle erupts in the province of Orumiyeh. The lone British motorised division is immediately placed on the back foot, and 5 days later, the British heathens here are hurled back across the border. In the province of Qorveh however, things are look far less promising, as the main force of British infantry engages with Iran’s less well trained, equipped and organised forces. Regardless, the brave men of the Shah continually hold their ground. Unhappy with the current conduct of the war however, the Shah decides to take direct control of some of his divisions, sensing his incompetent staff are unable to recognize the menacing threat of Britain’s armoured divisions patrolling the area. With the battle in Qorveh seemingly progressing with limited change besides the steadily declining numerical advantage held by the Iranian force, the Shah pulls his men back. The British have been halted in the west, while the Iranian military licks its wounds and prepares for the next onslaught.


With September coming to a close, the guns lie silent, and an uneasy tension fills the air as both sides set themselves for reorganization. With fresh forces months away from completion, Iran looks set for a tough fight. The Axis forces, especially Italy, are making excellent progress in France, and it appears that Germany is waiting for France to react to Mussolini’s advance before the Panzers roll into the French Vineyards onto Paris.

Italian Breakout

As October breaks, Iran prepares itself for the coming storm…

October 1st whole map

The world at 00:00 October 1st…

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