Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Desert Campaign Game 6 Beda Fomm

DO OR DIE
Libya, February 6th 1941
Italian forces under Generals Piana and Bergonzoli attempt to
break through the British encirclement at Beda Fomm

Scenario from http://www.fireandfury.com/
Overview
During the Battle of Beda Fomm ( 5-7 FEB 1941) the 10th Italian Army (Xa Armata
Italiana) tried to avoid encirclement and destruction by retreating along the Via
Balbia (Balbia Road) to Agedabia. Unfortunately for the Italians, the British created
an ad hoc motorized group called Combeforce (named for its commander Lt-Col
John Combe) which managed to outmaneuver the Italian Army and establish a
blocking position on the Italian line of retreat near Sidi Gibrin.
At Km 52 of Via Balbia there were a series of small hills known as Rus Ben Hagen.
The most prominent terrain features of this area were a stretched out but rounded
relief renamed by the British “The Pimple”, and nearby, a hummock with a white
grave, Sidi Ahmed Bu Lteif, called “The Mosque” by the British.
The Pimple provided a good observation point along the Via Balbia. For this reasons
the possession of the Rus Ben Hagen was critical for both the Italians and the British.
The first Italian attempt to break through on 5FEB by the 10th Bersaglieri Regiment
was a disaster with almost the whole regiment annihilated.
The Italians tried again in the morning of the 6th of February; at 08.45 Generale
“Barba Elettrica” Bergonzoli (General Annibale Bergonzoli nicknamed by his men
“Electric Beard”) collected his and General Piana’s forces and renewed the attack.
He was well aware that he had no choice; it was a “Do or Die” situation; the taking
of Rus Ben Hagen means the salvation of most of the 10th Italian Army, while failure
to do so will mean their capture.


DO OR DIE
Italian Briefing
Forces
Italian Setup and Victory Conditions
Setup
• The Italians move first and enter the table from North side (right side of the
map). They may use rapid advance on their first move. All Italian units enter
on the first turn, but must plot their entry in before the game begins as
outlined below.
• Before the British deploy, the Italian player must preplan the entry points and
order of entry for the Bersaglieri and Artillery ME that enter on the road. Also,
entry points for the 3 Armored ME must be specified, although units that are
part of an armored ME may enter anywhere within an armored command
radius of its entry point.
• The Bersaglieri and Artillery MEs must enter on Turn 1 on the Balbia road
according to the order specified in the pregame plan. From the second turn
onward turn they are free to move without restriction.
• Increase the transport capacity of the trucks to 3 infantry stands (instead of
normal 2)
• Scenario length: 15 turns
Italian Objective
Control both the Pimple and the whole hill north of the Balbia road. Casualties are
not a factor in determining victory.
Control of a hill is determined by either occupying or being the last to occupy a hill
with no enemy units in good order on that hill. Enemy units which are suppressed or
disordered do not contest control. The British are considered to control both the
hills at the beginning of the game. If neither side controls both hills at the end of the
game, the game is considered a draw. Historically, it would be a marginal British
victory because the Italians could not use the Via Balbia to continue their retreat,
but for game purposes it is a draw.

DO OR DIE
British Briefing
Forces
British Setup and Victory Conditions
Setup
• British troops deploy first on the 2 hills and/or South of the hills.
• 1 Infantry Company may start the game in Improved Positions if positioned on
the Pimple/Mosque hill.
• The 106th Horse Artillery AT Battery can start the game already Hull Down
and emplaced.
• Scenario length: 15 turns
Objective: Control both hills (the one with The Pimple and Mosque and the one
West of the Via Balbia) at the end of the scenario. Casualties are not a factor in
determining victory.
Control of a hill is determined by either occupying or being the last to occupy a hill
with no enemy units in good order on that hill. Enemy units which are suppressed or
disordered do not contest control. The British are considered to control both the
hills at the beginning of the game. If neither side controls both hills at the end of the
game, the game is considered a draw. Historically, it would be a marginal British
victory because the Italians could not use the Via Balbia to continue their retreat,
but for game purposes it is a draw.
• Soft Sand: as Terrain Chart
• Scrub: as Bush
• Rough: as Terrain Chart
• Via Balbia is paved.
• Village: 3 stone buildings. Each building may contain 1 infantry stand.

Historical outcome
On 6FEB the Italians launched several attacks to conquer both hills but only a few
vehicles succeded in breaking through.
On the morning of the 7th, General Bergonzoli gathered his last forces:
-His HQ
- a thin motorcycles platoon
- two 20mm sections
- 7 Tankettes, remnants of the LX Battaglione
- 30 M13 medium Tanks
At 08.00 he ordered the assault. The M 13, careless of the losses, went for the 2nd
Battalion of the Rifle Brigade; 5 tanks smashed through the British line and almost
overan the HQ . A single valiant but very lucky 2pdr AT gun stopped all the tanks.
The battle was over. At 09.00 General O’Connor transmitted in clear to General
Wavell: "Fox killed in the open".
The battle of Beda Fomm annihilated the remnants of the 10th Italian Army, only
7.000 Italian soldiers and 1.300 Lybians reached Tripolitania.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Desert Campaign Game 5 Bardia




On the morning of 3 January 1941, the first significant land battle of the Second World War planned and fought by an Australian formation began. With the first rays of dawn the soldiers of Major General Iven Mackay’s 6 Division attacked the Italian colonial fortress town of Bardia, a small harbour on the Mediterranean coast of what was, at that time, Italy’s Libyan colony.

Following a successful break-in by 16 Brigade on the western face of the Italian perimeter on the first morning of the attack, after close to 55 hours of fighting, the last Italian defenders laid down their arms. The victory cost 6 Division 129 men killed and 329 wounded. Italian casualties totaled close to 1000 dead, 3000 injured and a further 36,000 taken prisoner, including the five divisional commanders. In numerical terms alone, leaving aside the vast quantities of military stores and equipment captured by the attackers within the Bardia perimeter, the battle was a monumental Australian success.

Lt Col A.H.L. Godfrey  launched  the  Victorians  of  2/6  Battalion against the line of posts on the southern face of the Italian line at Wadi el Muatered. He had been ordered to create a diversion to distract Italian attention from the main point of break-in, 11 kilometres to the north-west, but did nothing of the sort. Instead of a feint attack, Godfrey mounted a full-scale assault to seize and occupy the posts on northern bank of Wadi el Muatered. In doing so, he sentenced many of his men to death for no good operational purpose. Once the assault began, Godfrey’s men and the Italians opposing them fought some of the hardest and most costly actions of the entire battle. The centre of gravity for both sides became the struggle for Post 11 on the extreme left of the 2/2 Battalion attack—an epic which has passed into Anzac legend. Ivor Hele’s famous oil painting of the action hangs to this day in the Australian War Memorial. However, for all Hele’s imagery of savage combat and horrible aftermath, this engagement, like the rest of Godfrey’s attack, should never have unfolded as it did.


Bardia (action leading to the fall of Post 11) Ivor Hele © Australian War Memorial
 This is the action covered by this scenario, in an battle where overall the Italians were overwhelmed by the keen Australians with Matilda I-tank support. This was a misguided operation where the Italians held the advantages of good positions and terrain.  The Australians took heavy casualties for very little gain despite showing great bravery.


 

The plan for 2/6 Battalion’s ‘demonstration’, which was in reality a full-scale assault on the Italian line at Wadi el Muatered on the morning of 3 January. The terrain  was difficult and dominated by Wadi el Muatered,around 90 metres wide and between 110–140 metres deep, with precipitous sides,running across the entire front of 2/6 Battalion’s position.


Australian OOB

2/6 Battalion.
Commander Lt Col A.H.L. Godfrey

Infantry Company B
Capt W.T. Muhlhan
 &
Infantry Company C
Capt Rowan


x1 Commander
x7 Infantry
x2 Bren
2 with Boys ATR
x1 2 inch Mortar


Infantry Company D
Little
 x1 Commander
x9 Infantry
2 with Boys ATR
x1 2 inch Mortar

1RNF Support Platoon
X2 Vickers MMG 8A-44
X2 Bren


X3 inch Mortar

The Italians were well dug in and had Artillery and machine gun support.

Italian OOB

Infantry Co with attached support units with 37mm Bredas and 45mm Mortars (awesome)

Bergaseri Co with MMG and Infantry gun support.

How it played out.

Much like the real engagement the Australian took heavy losses but ended up over-running the Italians and taking the strong positions overlooking the wadi.  This is what happened in the real battle as well but unlike the actual battle the Italians in our game did not have the heart for a counter attack. This one was a clear but expensive victory for the Aussies.


 The Australians make their way across the Wadi, through the wire and then have to face climbing the other side under fire.
Under fire the Australians push on.
Under heavy fire some of the Aussies have had enough (top left) for now but they'll be back.
Eventually they get a foot hold on the top.

The Bersagliera are pushed out of Post 11