Kiwis hunting Tigers. Sant' Andrea 30 July 1944.
In late July and early August the
13 Corps are pushing toward the Arno River and Florence. With British,
South African, Indian as well as the New Zealand division pushing ahead side by
side there was a spirit of competition regarding who will get to the Arno and
Florence first. As the 2nd New Zealand Division runs into the Paula Line
defences 4th brigade crosses the Pesa River and the German defenders from 4th
Parachute Division stop giving ground and resistance stiffens. The 503rd Heavy
Panzer battalion armed with fearsome Tiger tanks arrives to stiffen the
defences. A company of 23 NZ battalion push ahead beyond Santa Casciano
supported by tanks of A squadron 20 NZ Armoured Regiment. According to the
official account they ran into resistance from the Paratroops supported by a
platoon from A Company, 23 Battalion, went along the road from Spedelleto to see
whether the enemy had withdrawn from Sant' Andrea, which was less than 600
yards from the company's foremost positions. The platoon crossed a small gully,
and as it topped the rise before reaching the village, ‘came under concentrated
fire at short range from several automatics and retired hurriedly and in some
It was proposed that A Company should put in a dawn attack on Sant'
Andrea. A few of the men apparently ‘felt that the limit of their physical and
nervous reserves or of what should be asked of them had been reached’ and
refused to go. The CO (Lieutenant- Colonel Thomas) personally led the way ‘to
show the men he would not ask them to do anything he was not prepared to do
The artillery fired a stonk on the village, and A Company attacked with
a troop (three Shermans) of A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, in support. A blown
culvert over a ditch blocked the road in the gully, but a way across for the
tanks was found and improved by men working with shovels. A few prisoners
from 10 Parachute Regiment were taken on the other side of the
gully, and the tanks and infantry went on to the village. Thomas returned to
Battalion Headquarters while the company commander (Captain Duncan) and
his men continued with the occupation of the village, from which about 50 or 60
Germans had withdrawn only a few minutes earlier.
The enemy, however, was still in the proximity of Sant' Andrea, and
from Villa Mazzei, about 300
yards to the north-west, commanded its southern access. He shelled and mortared
the village, and it was anticipated that he would counter-attack. Strenuous
efforts were made to get support weapons to A Company, but wheeled vehicles could
not pass the demolition on the road from Spedeletto, which the
engineers were unable to repair because all movement on the road in daylight
drew fire; their bulldozer had to be driven hastily into cover. When a Tiger
tank was observed working its way towards Sant' Andrea, two M10s were
dispatched to support A Company, but were halted by the state of the road.
Mortars, sited well forward, were directed on Villa Mazei and
other targets considered too close for the artillery.
enemy counter-attacked about 1.30 p.m. His infantry infiltrated through corn
and olive trees while the Tiger came along PAGE 159the road from the north. The
tanks with A Company, commanded by Lieutenant Colmore-Williams, raked the olives with their
machine guns and 75-millimetre guns, firing into the trees for air-burst
effect. A bazooka team was wiped out within a few yards of the troop
commander's tank, and afterwards 15 German dead were counted in the vicinity.
The Sherman's also kept the Tiger at bay. A bend in the road allowed it to
approach within 100 yards before it came into view, but each time it ventured
round the bend ‘it was blinded by a round or two of smoke and chased back into
cover, tail first, with six or seven armour-piercing and high-explosive shells
buzzing around its ears.’ Finally it withdrew altogether."
Late in the afternoon enemy infantry attacked
again, but did not dislodge A Company. ‘My blokes shot about 12 counted Jerries
from the top windows and really had quite a good time,’ says Duncan. The
New Zealand casualties at Sant' Andrea that day were very few and included only
one killed. "
from The Official History of New Zealand in
the Second World War 1939-1945, Italy Volume II- Cassino to Trieste,
Historical Publication Branch, 1967, Wellington.
" A platoon from A Company, 23 Battalion, went along the road from Spedelleto to see whether the enemy had withdrawn from Sant' Andrea, which was less than 600 yards from the company's foremost positions. The platoon crossed a small gully, and as it topped the rise before reaching the village, ‘came under concentrated fire at short range from several automatics and retired hurriedly and in some confusion….’
Forested ridges and tilled valleys filled with olive orchards and vineyards make for dense terrain off the roads which have been deliberately cratered by the Germans.
DeploymentThe 22 battalion of 6 brigade, 2nd New Zealand Division are attacking toward San Andrea. This section of the Paula Line is held by 10th Parachute Division the arrival of a Tiger tank from 503 s.abt. the paratroops have counter attacked the advancing New Zealanders.
The New Zealand forces set up within 20" of the south Western table corner. German Fallschirmjager forces are placed within 12" of the northern table edge. A 1d6 units are deployed in the first turn and each subsequent turn a further 1d6 units arrive at the respective table edge.
Special RulesThe road to San Andre has been demolished and is only passable by tracked vehicles.
VictoryThere are four objectives Sant Andrea, Spedatello, the gully south of Spedatello and the hill at Villa Mezei. The first to hold all objectives or exceed the BR rating wins.
|Map of the modern area from Google Maps|
After Action Report
Forcesforces from 2nd New Zealand Division
Forward Headquarters Lt Col Thomas & Captain Duncan (3 men) Officer, Artillery Spotter
1 platoon from A company 22 battalion
- Command Section and PIAT team 5 men Officer, Mortar Spotter
- 3 rifle sections 10 men with Bren
- Light mortar team 2" mortar
Sherman tanks A squadron 20 New Zealand Armoured battalion
- 2 Sherman III tanks
- 1 Sherman III tank Lt Colmore-Williams Officer, Mortar Spotter
1 M10 Tank destroyer
1 Vickers Heavy Machine gun team 3 men
1 Medium 3" mortar team 3 men
3 Officers 26 BR 320pts
forces from 10 Parachute Division and s.Abt508
1 Fallschirmjager platoon
- 1 Platoon command 6 men Officer, Mortar spotter.
- 3 Fallschirmjager squads 5 men with MG42
- 3 MG teams 3 men with MG42
- 1 Light mortar team 2 men with 50mm mortar
- 1 Medium mortar team 3 men with 80mm mortar
- 1 Panzershreck team 2 men with Panzershreck
1 Panzer IV G tank
1 Panzer V Tiger I tank
1 Officer 20BR 318pts
Historical forces should have 2 more platoons with medium mortars teams a side of infantry and the New Zealanders add 1 M10 and a timed 25 pounder stonk. The German support should have a panzershreck team and medium and light moratr per platoon.