Thursday, 28 January 2021

Scenario and AAR : Centuripe, Sicily. 2 August 1943 - Trying the Front Door

This phote was staged for civilian cameramen about 5 hours after the end of the battle. When asked to stage an "action shot" the reply was "If you had been here 5 hours ago you would have seen some bloody action!"

Centuripe from the British deployment zone  




History

Centuripe was at the centre of a line of steep sided and rugged hills that blocked to road toward  For the forces of the British 8th Army this would allow an advance that would link up with the American moving west and encircle Mount Etna feature  that dominates the north of the island of Sicily. Capturing the town and surrounding peaks would open up the further advance and the final capture of the island.  

"After two days of abortive attempts by five of 78th Division’s battalions to break through the German strong points around the town, on the afternoon of 2nd August, the brigade was readied for their attack. 2 London Irish Rifles (‘Irish Rifles’) targeted a set of hilltops on the left flank of Centuripe, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers (‘Faughs’) were to attack via the cemetery into the northern part of the town and 6 Inniskillens (‘Skins’) were to make their assault up sheer 100 feet cliffs to enter “by the front door”. Due to a slight miscommunication, the Skins’ attack, which was led by A and C Companies, went in early, but they successfully scaled and secured Point 708. G and F Companies of the Irish Rifles were able to secure two of their targeted peaks, but not the third one, but despite this, the Faughs then joined the attack, albeit slightly behind the agreed timetable, on a single company front led by D Company, and this was followed on by C Company. By the early morning of 3rd August, the whole town was occupied by 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers."


References 

https://www.irishbrigade.co.uk/brigadier-narratives/irish-brigade-in-sicily-by-brigadier-nelson-russell/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Centuripe

Terrain

Centuripe sits on a 2000' hill over which snakes the main road that leads west around Mount Etna towards Messina. The town sits on an E shaped ridge with the three ridges facing the attacking 38th brigade advance. The Town is a mass of narrow streets of stone lined houses . The hill is steep slopes of stone terraces some deep ravines 

Only roads are suitable for vehicles to move. The steep slopes are difficult terrain and the cliffs count around the as dangerous terrains as do the ravines. The olive groves and vinyards that fill the less steep parts of the slopes and offer soft cover. The stone building of the town are hardcover. The defenders have re-enforced some building and these are hardened cover for occupiers.
 

Deployment  

The 'Skins deploy in the in the 24" triangle at the southwest corner of the board. The German deployment can be within the North East half of the board. The British deploy a probe force of all reconnaissance troops  and 1 d6 other units of the players choice. The remainder of the 'Skins are the Main Force who enter on the edge of the British Deployment zone. The Germans deploy all defenders who can occupy defences from the list also 1d6 units onto the table. The remainder will be off table in reserve. Reconnaissance forces can be deployed outside of the players deployment zone - but not in the enemy deployment zone. 

Special Rules

Therefore no off road movement is allowed for vehicles. The rear slope is invisible  to the attackers and may not be the location of a Pre registered Target point. Artillery may deviate onto the rear slope.  Only Air attacks may target units on the rear slope. Due to steepness of the approaches the 'Skins have no vehicles. Initial bombardment mean 1d6 deployed defenders start the game pinned. 

Victory

The first army reduces to 0 BR withdraws lost. The attacker may win an all objectives claimed victory but not the defenders. Defenders may NOT claim an all objective claimed victory. 

Map




Forces - from Battlegroup Torch supplement 


British Forces A Company 6th  Inniskilling Fusiliers 


Company Forward HQ  Artillery Spotter, Mortar Spotter, Senior Officer 
Forward Signals Unit 3 men with radio equipment 
Comms relay team 
MO officer 

2 Platoons each of 
Platoon HQ Officer Mortar spotter 
3 rifle sections 8 men with 1 LMG 
1 PIAT team
1 Vickers Heavy machine gun with loader team 
1 2" light mortar team
1 3" medium mortar team 
1 section of Royal Engineers with 3 demo charges 

I reconnaissance foot patrol 8 men with LMG scout, mortar spotters
1 reconnaissance command section 3 men officers, mortar spotter 
1 sniper and spotter
 

2 off table 3" mortar batteries
2 off table 25 pounder batteries 
1 timed Spitfire strike 
2 pre registered target points 


German Forces elements of Kampfgruppe von Carnap


Company Forward Headquarters  Officer, Artillery spotter, Mortar Spotter
Forward Signals Unit 
Wire Team
Volkwagon Ambulence 
Forward Aid station 
Artillery Forward Observer team 

1 reenforced  platoon from 3rd Fallschirmjager Rgt.  (all veterans) 
Platoon HW Officer Mortar Spotter 
4 Rifle sections 1 section in Opel Blitz Truck
4 Machine gun section with MG42 
1 81mm medium mortar

1 reconnaissance foot patrol with MG42 and 2 Panzerfausts  
2 sniper teams with snipers and spotters 

1 Heavy Mortar battery 120mm mortar 
1 off table 81mm  mortar battery
1 37mm AA gun and Opel Blitz tow  

2 Panzer III ausf. J tanks

defences consisting of:
2 fortified houses
1 boobytrapped house 
2 sets of foxholes
2 MG42 dug outs 
1 mortar pit with 81mm mortar 


AAR Battles from the Loft 


The table before deployment viewed from the British Army deployment zone 

The Germans deployed there defence by fortifying the area around the church and placing a bunker dominating the road across the town and boobytrapping the building near the objective in town. Two objective were either side of the church and one in the centre of town and one in a large barn at the back of the town. Most German defenders where deployed to defend these objectives directly with some on table reserves on the rear slope and one section and a mortar in the centre intending to rush the objective or counter attack a British probe. The British deployed all the reconnaissance troops and there engineer sections armed with demo charges which they hoped to use for mouse-holing or on the bunkers or re enforced fortifies buildings. The 'Skins divided the probing force into two equal forces a foot patrol sniper and engineer section. One entered the East (British left flank) moving toward the objective on the road at that end of town  and running into immediate resistance from the Fallschirmjager  holding that objective. Meanwhile the Command section scrambled up the cliff and entered a building with a view of the centre of the town . The second probe entered the town making for the closest of the objectives to the British deployment zone. The Engineers began clearing a minefield in the road whilst the foot patrol pressed on into town toward the objective. 



The main approach to the town with the main road splitting into two around a maze of streets 

The maze of stone building that make up the centre of the German line 
I decided to randomise the boobytrapped house as I was playing solo. So any British unit rolled a d6 on entering a house on a 1 it would be boobytrapped I would keep rolling until the trap was set off,  Being attackers the British took first turn. The foot patrols advanced immediately and one triggered the boobytrap in the first house they entered. But rolled a 1 for detonation - the fuses hadn't been properly fitted and it did not explode! They entered the building closest to the objective not suspecting that a German patrol was closing on the same objective through the narrow streets of the town.  This left the Germans in the street beyond horribly exposed. The other foot patrol got into a firefight with the defenders on the German right 

German mortar positions and reserves deployed beyond the church 
Seizing the opportunity the Skins rushed them passing their close assault roll. The swift assault with bayonets and grenades killed many and routed the remainder of the unfortunate Germans . The Skins foot patrol found themselves exposed as an infantry gun was manhandled to the corner and open fire at close range killing two. The morale check returned above the call of Duty and this patrol immediately assaulted the mortar in the house. The infantry gunners had exposed themselves to the sniper covering the skins advance he immediately pinned the gun and killed one of the gunners . The gun was abandoned. The skins probe had cleared the centre of town! Only a German sniper and spotter remained to harass them. Beyond the 25pounders started up a constant barrage that would leave the Germans pinned in there trenches 


German platoon HQ in the town. Most miniatures are AB Africa Corp 


Restoring the disastrous situation caused the the British advance in the centre became the German priority/ The Panzer III in reserve moved along the main road  immediately along with a 37mm Flak, Bringing the footpartol in the centre under fire with its machine guns and pinning them in their cover


 
German reserve line beside the church and covering the furthest Objective (marked by a well)
The British Main force now arrived the bulk of the company would arrive over the next two turns. Two platoons and supporting Vickers and mortars asked for a vote on the Battlegroup sight and the bulk of the votes where to re enforce success in the centres only 1 section and a Vickers went left to support the embattled infantry and engineers there trading fire with the Fallschirmjager defending the barn. The rest went to the centre and began a perilous advance The German artillery observers in the church finally brought the off table 105's  from Division and mortars of the rear slope  to bear making the narrow streets a dangerous whirl of flying metal the infantry advanced house to house anyone caught by moratr fire in the streets taking severe casualties one section reduce to half numbers and another losing three men  
The main force infantry of the  'skins taking cover in a building near the first objective. It turned out to be booby trapped - but failed to go off! (mostly CP models)

A German 50mm mortar and part of a section defending the centre of town They intended to race forward toward the objective but the failure of the booby trap meant that aggressive action by the British foot patrol left them vulnerable and they where quickly overwhelmed in a viscous street fight at close quarters (AB models and Sgt Mess for the mortar team)

The 'Skins foot patrol take possession of the same building after a street fght and a successful Beyond the call of Duty roll devastated the German defence in the centre of town. So far, so historical!

Gradually the British infantry secured the centre of town supported by artillery fire keeping the Panzer pinned down and using the cover of the buildings to keep the bunker in defilade. However on the Eastern side of town both sides have been trading casualties ut with e the centre secure the engineers and another infantry sections combine to assault the stone barn.
German reseve section rushed up to reinforce their own foot patrol overrun by a swift assault by engineer troops with demo charges 

The skins foot patrol reduced to 4 men hold on under fire from a 37mm AA gun in the gap between to building. They also came under fire from a 75mm infantry gun in another street before the sniper team on another roof top killed its crew.  The German sniper team opposite where pinned by artillery fire.

The streets of the town become a deadly blizzard of German artillery fire 

The 'skins take cover moving building to building 

A Britisg Vickers brings the defendesers dug in around the church under fire . Only to be killed by the return fire from an MG42

Britsh troops take cover in the rubble 

Vickers brings the objectives defender under supressing fire 
A timed airstrike from an Desert Airforce Spitfire drops two small bombs near the church killing an unfortunate Wre team and pinning the HQ of the infantry platoon  

The Panzer III is pinned by the 25 pounder fire 


The skins begin there advance on the Eastern objective marked by the telegraph pole.





An unexpected attack from and RAF Hurribomber spells the end for the Panzer II attacked with the Planes 40mm cannons and destroyed 

Engineers destroy the stone barn with demolition charges and the infantry close assault the pinned survivors to capture the objective 



Mortars support the final assault 

Reinforcements from a section of trucked infantry head for the far side of town  but the damage is already done 



Final total for the British 

The Germans sad debacle 




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