Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Desert Campaign Game 3 - Into the Gap (19 November 1940)

Western Desert Campaign  September 1940 -
Game 3 -  Into the Gap  (19 November 1940)
(A Jock Column encounters an Italian Column in the Ebna Gap)


Into the Gap
The British forces would pass through the Ebna Gap with 4th Indian Division moving northwards to take the camps from behind, 7th Armoured Division screening to the west and south, while 'Selby' Force from the Mersa Matruh garrison would move along the coast road. Logistical problems would be solved by the creation of Forward Supply Depots (FSDs), with Nos. 3 and 4 holding enough fuel, food, water and ammunition for five days of activity, in No-Man's Land.
The setting up of these depots was screened by 'Jock' Columns and a sharp clash occurred on 19 November with an Italian force in the Ebna Gap ended with 5 Italians tanks destroyed and 100 casualties. This stunned the Italians for the next 3 weeks while intensive training by the British culminated in 'Training Exercise No. 1' which had British forces practicing to attack exact replicas of the Italian camps. After this, Wavell gathered his senior staff together on 26 November and briefed them on 'Training Exercise No. 2' – Operation Compass.
On the 19th November 1940 a Jock Column patrolling the Ebna gap encounters an Italian Column of Tanks and Infantry– that is the scenario.

Special Rules
Recon Skirmish Each Player rolls a secret 10 sided dice which is recorded by umpire. The difference between the rolled numbers and 5 for each side are added and the difference compared. A modifier is the added for each recon group.
Each British Recon Group +2
Italian Recon +1 (Ital Berg on Motorbikes) +1
The difference is the number if turns the recon winner has to move, setup and dig in from start point. Any double movement will give opponent a chance of spotting dust.
Italian Recon
Due to poor comms - If Recon > 12” in front of forces then any unit sighted is not immediately visible to all. (This is an attempt to represent the almost complete lack of radios in Italian Vehicles, one of the many advantages that allowed the WDF to dominate the Italians at this time)
Victory Condition. 
(Not Known to players)
British Win if smash Italians 5+ tanks  and 8+ stands Infantry destroyed and not take heavy losses.
Italians win if not smashed and seriously damage Brits.
Otherwise draw.


ForcesBritish Forces
1st Co Infantry 'W' Company, Northumberland Fusiliers Regiment (exp)
1 Commander
9 Infantry (3 with Boyes)
Bren Lmg
2” mortar
Trucks * 4

Choice of 9 points worth of Units
1st Recon Group  - 2 * Dingos (Exp)
2 nd Recon Group –  2 * Rolls Royce Armoured Cars  (Vet)+ 2 * Scout Carriers with Recon 1*Lmg, 1*Boyes (Exp) 1st Recon is required to purchase this group.
Armour Group A - A9 * 2 (1 Commander)  & Vickers Light Tank (Vet)
Armour Group B - A13 * 3 (played in this scenario by crusaders) (exp)Arm Group A is required to purchase this group. this needs changing  too many tanks for a jock column
(this should cost more maybe 4)
AA section Bofor  + Truck
AT Gun 37mm AT + Truck
AT Guns 2 * 2lb AT + 2 *Carriers
25 lber 1 Gun + truck
25 lbers 2 Guns + truck & FOO
Italian forces
Recon     AB41 (Exp)
Armour      Light Tank Company  (Exp)
            L/35 Light Tank * 4
            L/33 Lanciafiamme
      Med Tank Co  (Exp)
            M11/39 Medium Tank * 2
            M13/40 Medium Tank * 2

Infantry     Bersaglieri Company  (Exp)
            20mm Solorthurn ATR
            8 * Bersaglieri
            8mm Breda 37 MMG
            45mm Brixia Mortar

      Motorised Inf     Company (Trained)
            9 * Rifle Section
            3 * Rifle & LMG
            45mm Brixia Mortar

Bersaglieri Motorcycle scout Platoon (Exp)
            1 Commander
            3 LMG
            4 Motorcycles

Battalion Artillery Section
1 65mm Infantry Gun (Exp)
 1 Light Truck

How it played outUnsurprisingly the British win the Recon (especially since Italians went for Artillery option) and setup as shown below to ambush the Italians.

The Italians advance confidently across the board and encounter the British recon which has been left too far forward to be supported by other British troops.  After a Scout Carrier takes out the AB41 with it Boyes AT rifle the Carrier is destroyed followed by a Roller on the Italian left as they advance cautiously through the brush.
The Italians continue to show elan and attack the British positions around the rocky outcrop but an L33 is destroyed while close assaulting the Bofors and then the 25 lbers give the Ities a nasty shock and destroy 2 tanks with direct fire... ouch! Meanwhile on the left the Italian infantry has de-trucked and inches forward.
The Italians are slightly spooked by the Dingo and some trucks on their right flank and face some tanks off against them, but it is the usual British chicanery and the trucks are empty.  A bit of whinging goes on about trucks but I don't have an issue with empty trucks being used as diversions but won't allow them to be used as to attack with.
The British tanks then make an appearance (of which they have too many for a historically accurate Jock Column) and have short ineffective dual with M13/40s (the A9s really are bad tanks) before the Italians wisely decide to withdraw in good order after the A13s show up and with the 25lbers lobbing shells at them.  The British show a lack of dash and let the Italians withdraw when I feel confident that O'Connor's men would have pressed them and made the Italians pay a higher price than was extracted in this game.
Result - A very marginal Italian victory, mostly because of the dash shown by their armoured units and because they successfully executed that rarest of manoeuvres in our wargames a successful retreat.


The Italians advance past the burning wreck of the Scout Carrier.  In the background can be seen the salt marsh.

On the Italian left the front Roller is in strife and brews up soon after, on the right the Italian infantry can be seen cautiously advancing in the brush.

A bold attempt but this is the beginning of the end for the Italians.

A closeup of the devastation reaped by the Bofors and the 25 lbers.

On the British right the A13s show up and send the Italians packing.

The Italians execute a fighting withdrawal to score the marginal victory.

No comments:

Post a Comment