Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Scenario and AAR Operation Capri Campaign 1 First Contact

Background Using the excellent ne Battlegroup Torch book I began a new campaign pitting Column Bari - elements of 90th Light , Spezia and Trieste divisions against the elements of 51 Highland Division and 7th Armoured Division. It will follow events over 6th and 7th of March as the 8th Army approached the Mareth line. The newly created 1st Italian Army launched a spoiling attack against the British 8th Army concentrating around the desert outpost of Medenine.
We use the scenario Clash of Reconnaissance to represent the first clashed. During the reconnaissance phase of the battle thick early morning mist was represented by using the special Night fighting rules. As the main forces arrive the mist burned off and normal spotting rules resumed.

I chose 600 pts from the British Infantry lists in Battlegroup Torch and my opponent chose 600pts from the Italian armoured division list. The Italians won the reconnaissance battle deploying there Bersaglieri on Motorcycle combinations raced forwards to seize the Arab farm which would become the focal objective of both sides.
Reconaissance clashes the Italian and British advance. 
British Daimler Armoured cars advance using MG.s to suppress the Bersaglieri in the farm and exchanging fire with the Italian Autoblinda lurking in the Wadi. An M15/18 forward observation tank moves into position to spot for the mortars and a motor tricycle mounted HMG team flank the Arab farm using the wadi for defilade. The Black Watch A platoon advance on foot with the farm as there objective. FO team in there Carrier make for the high ground overlooking the battle field. An off table battery of RHA will support the British advance.  But with the Bersaglieri in position on the objective they would prove tenacious in there defence.

British column advances 

The early envelopement as the Britsh advance into the jaws 
The British bring up  second platoon of lorried infantry using their mortars begin to pound the Arab farm whilst the off table artillery . The British "A" platoon advance toward the farm using the wadi . The Italian HMG team reach the ridge before the "B" platoon, The excellent off road speed of the \Italian motorcycles really paying off,  

Increasing desperate to pin down the Italians in the farm the Carrier section deploy to bring more fire onto the farm but the Italian troops hold on regardless.  Italian armour and infantry - M15/41tanks advance to support he Bersaglieri in the farm the tanks to the north and the infantry to the south.

Italien LMG advance 
British FO and carrier transport calling in fire from RHA 25 pounders

The Black watch fix bayonets and prepare for a last attempt to dislodge the Italians. By now the supporting infantry are beginning to bring fire on the troops in the wadi . Despite a heroic defence from the six pounder anti tank gun and the Daimler Mk 1 the tanks begin to outflank from the north. The HMG destroys the gun and only an Anti tank rifle holds the Britsh right flank. 
THe jaws of the Italien pincers close. 

Italian infantry reinforce the ridge
Air support for column Bari 

Italian recon use the wadi for advance in defilade 
There position untenable and losing casualties to infantry and tank fire. The infantry failed to assault the Italian Bersaglieri finally the British morale collapses and withdrawal begins. The Italian column advances further into the British lines.

Scenario and AAR Operation Capri Campaign 2 With The Queen's at Kef Ahbdala

In our campaign themed around Column Bari's attack on the 8th Army position north of Medenine during Operation Capri. The winner of each scenario gets to choose the points and scenario for the next battle. So my Italian opponents beat off the Black Watch in the last battle  and chose to make a flanking attack at our next location Kef Abhdala  an important pass through the hills I chose 600pts from the Battlegroup torch British Armoured Division (with 1943 changes) my opponent chose 600pts from the Italian Infantry Division list.
Google maps satellite image of the area today. The Italian army would win the reconnaissance battle and choose to attack from the \northeast. The British from the South west 
 Italian Reconnaissance troops . The truck contains a Bersaglieri patrol. The Spetzia Division   won the reconnaissance battle and took first turn with there main force.
 British SAS jeep patrol seize the first objective using Behind enemy lines
 The Bersaglieri deploy into the date plantation  that would prove  heavily contested during the battle
 The Autoblinda AC supports them with its cannon
 The Italians deploy 65mm howitzers in a date grove near the Kef , Excellent support from Italian artillery on and off table was a critical factor in the battle
 Italian infantry scale the heights and seize there first objective (marked by the smashed British gun. This Height the Kef Abhdala gave them an excellent vantage point over the battlefield and would be gradually reinforced through the game We decided that this feature would be difficult ground for Vehicles before the game began
 The British artillery arrives in the form out 75mm guns on the Autocars with a resupply lorry in tow
 They begin to engae the plantation infront with direct fire to pin the Bersaglieri taking cover there
 The Regia Aeronautica make and appearance with a timed airstrike which catches the advancing British in the Wadi pinning much of the main force.
 Italians' artillery deployed in the small date planation north of the Kef. The Motor patrol is pinned by Howitzer fire
 The 47 mm AT gun in the plantation (towed by a captured Austin!) takes out the Daimler armoured car. The British recce deployed to try and grab the Kef fist loses the race and begins to take severe handling from the Italians - particularly the guns!.
 The RAF turn up with a timed strike from a |Kittyhawk Below the Italian guns in the palms whilst the infantry hold the exposed hill top.
 More infantry reinforce the Kef. This objective is slipping beyond the grasp of the British
 Howitzer, mortars and Auto Sahara patrol busy at this point lashing British recce patrol with High Explosive. The artillery concentrated on the reconnaissance virtually wiping it out in two turn. Only part of an infantry foot patrol survived the game
 The Italians on top to the Kef. Inexperienced Italian infantry grab an objective and then sit tight to hold the position whilst the artillery breaks up British attack. This is the best use of this kind of troops. Good cover saves prevent too many casualties  
 The Bersaglieri the best Italian infantry put up a tough fight in the valley around the third objective. Exchanging fire with the SAS who call down mortar fire in return were here a track meets the road through the pass.

A LMG  Bersaglieri element cover the road through the pass . At this stage the Italians looked very strong holding two objectives in strength with the advanced elements of the British counter attack pinned or destroyed. However strong reinforcement arriving with the British main force 3 Crusader 1 tanks and accompanying Motor Infantry  of Queen's Regiment prepared to attack the valley.

 The 75mm Autcars soften up the Italian forward elements
 The senior officer preparing to use his reroll to ensure plenty of orders for the attack.The radio truck nearby to keep the link with the off table mortar battery.
 Quad tow for the 25 pounder gun the Universal Carrier has the Forward observer team for the gun.
 Italian reinforcements arrive by tankette
 Italian tankettes and engineers arrive rounding the hill supporting the Bersaglieri in the valley and flank support for the Infantry on the Kef .
 An Italian 47mm antitank gun after the tow toils up the steep hill. Beyond a HMG team on a Motor Guzzi tricycle further reinforces the hill. A very sticky prospect for any future assault by the Queens' regiment.

 A SP gun advances using the wreckage of a Daimler for cover intending to outflank the British advance,
 It proves no match for the Crusader 1 tanks and their two pounder guns from the ridge
 The Italians attempt to outflank the British on the ridge runs into trouble when the Crusaders counter attack. Auto Sahara patrol forced to retreat.
 Italian infantry advance in support of a sweeping flank manoeuvre The destruction of there armoured support caused a withdrawal as the fortunes of war swung back toward the British
 Bersaglieri hold out to the last as a combined infantry and tank assault comprehensively destroy the recon troops and there armoured car. The road and its objective pass into British hands with a bayonet charge from the Queens' regiment destroys the last defenders.
 However the spotters for the Italian division artillery and howitzer have excellent observation of the valley
 Italian infantry inexperienced but in good cover are well positioned to hold the remaining objective.
 Reinforce with a Heavy machine gun and Antitank guns  that start to take a toll of the British forces in the valley.
 Led by tanks the assault finally has momentum All resistance in the valley plantation has ceased the road is firmly in British hands
 British infantry sweep down the slope The carrier section meant for a break through had to be used as hasty reinforcements due to the fierce Italian resistance
 The Italian artillery takes its toll. The SAS lost to a direct hit from a 105mm gun as was the 75mm Autocar many infantry men also lost taking the ridge and valley.
 Explosion mark the impact of the Italian "big guns". The Crusader was a victim of it's own unreliable fuel system catching fire as it climbed out of the wadi. although it has infantry riders at the time my opponent graciously didn't insist on a d3 casualties as it was the Crusaders own engine that caught fire.
 Italian fire from the artillery relentlessly rakes British line. The twenty five pounder pounds the Kef Abhdala in return but it's an unequal battle.
 But it is a wild barrage that destroys the Matador heavy truck in the wadi - the final straw for the British. Unable to resupply the 131st Brigade battlegroup  withdraw.
The final Position of the Infantry from the Queen's Surrey Regiment. holding two objectives but defeat by well handled Italian infantry and guns. The Italians where only 2 away from breaking themselves - "a damn close run thing".

Scenario and AAR El Aroussa -The Race to the Spot, 26 February 1943 Tunisia.

  Battle for "The Spot", El Aroussa, Tunisia 26th February 1943 The History Three days after the end of the battles at Kasserine t...