Sunday, 30 April 2017

AAR : WWII Desert, Aug-Sep 1942 fictional encounter

Somewhere in the vicinity of Ruweisat, Alam Halfa in August-September 1942.

A fictional engagement sometime between the battles of 1st and 2nd Alamein, with units that were
in the lines around that time....

Using Rapid Fire 2 Rules with local mods for command & control (C2).

Photos by Pete.

Intention was for a 'late desert' game that used the models (Saharianas, M3 Honey, Pak40) Stu had made that hadn't seen action in previous TSOG games as they were 1941 early desert, such as Ă“perations Brevity and Skorpion. A fictional game allowed use of units that historically didn't meet. Also wanted to get some aircraft on the board and to make it an encounter game with neither side completely on offensive or defensive.  Points would be gained for holding control points, destruction/capture/rout of enemy units and discovery/capture of supply dumps.

Also as the game was played the night before ANZAC Day (25th April), there had to be an Australian unit involved. Aust 9th Div was in the region during Aug-Sept 1942, so a Battalion from that was selected.

Standard 6'x 4' (3.6 km x 2.4 km) board with a poor track running NW-SE and a good track running SW-NE, crossing in a village in the middle of the board. The end points of the tracks and the crossroads were control points worth 150 points each. Each side started with a control point in their hands on one of the tracks and another control point on the northern (long) edge was close to their start side. Axis entered from the left short side (west) and Allies from the right (east). There were large areas of broken ground and soft sand between the roads and a wadi running SW-NE in the NW corner close to the axis lines.

Most of the terrain is shown here, partway through the game and looking south

Also on the board were 15 markers representing possible camouflaged areas of interest that would have to be inspected when a unit was within 100m (2"). They had content decided by 1D6 on discovery, a 50% chance of being nothing important, 1/6 chance of being a supply dump worth 100 points, 1/6 chance of being entrenchments for use by infantry and 1/6 chance of being a minefield that the unit would have to check for damage from.    

Entry turn indicates earliest available and entry determined by rolling 1D6 less than or equal to the turn number.

* 2/24th Battalion, 26 Brigade, 9th Australian Div (avge/elite morale, elite close assault, elite long-range small arms): 3 infantry companies, MG company, mortar company [turn 1]
* A&B Squadrons, 4th/8th Hussars, 4th Light Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Div  (avge morale, M3 Stuart/Honeys), [turn 3]
* Section of 15th Light AA Regt, 7th Armoured Div (40mm Bofors) [turn 3]
* Section of Hurricane IIs for air superiority [turn 3]
(677 points)

Stu ran the Hussars and Dave the Aussie infantry.

Italians (run by Alan)
* 2nd Battalion (reduced), 19th Regiment, Brescia Div (poor/avge morale, poor small arms and close assault): 3 infantry companies. No transport. [start on board just west of village]
* Company (reinforced) from 186th Regt, Folgore Parachute Div (elite morale/small arms/close assault): Sahariana vehicles + 20mm/47mm AT guns + AB40 Autoblinda armoured car section from Ariete Div. [turn 2]
* Section of 132 Artillery Regt, Ariete Div: Milmart 90mm AA/AT truck-borne guns [turn 2]

Germans (run by Pete)
* Company of II Battalion, 5th Regt, Ramcke Fallschirmjaeger Brigade (elite morale/small arms/close assault), truck-borne [turn 2]
* Elements of 33rd AT and 33rd Recon Battalions, 15th Panzer Div: PaK 40 (75mm) AT guns + 88mm AT guns [turn 3]
* II Kompanie, 8th Panzer Regt, 15th Panzer Div: Pz IVF (long 75mm), Pz IIIJ (long 50mm), Pz IIIG (short 50mm) [turn 4]
* Battery of two sections of off-board 150mm field guns directed by the AOP [from start]
* AOP - Fiesler Storch. Can also act as airborne command & control post [on board at start]
* Section of Me110s from ZG (Zestoerer Geschwader) 26 for ground attack [turn 3]
(550 points)

The Axis had less points and so they were scheduled to start either on the board or possibly
arrive earlier. Due to the partially uncertain nature of arrival though, some units did not arrive on schedule.

Initially the 2nd Battalion of Brescia infantry can be seen on foot advancing on the village and crossroads, ~600m west. The Storch can be seen overhead keeping a lookout.

The Folgore/Ariete company entered on turn 2 and using their exceptional cross country ability with the Saharianas and AB40s, quickly moved to be well forward by turn 3 and supporting the right flank of the Brescia who had captured the village and crossroads (150 points). As the axis couldn't afford bad command and control rolls slowing their advance, the Kampfgruppe RHQ command (SdKfz 251) entered early and took up position within 600m command range of the Brescia BHQ. The Milmart section of the Ariete 132nd Arty Regt also successfully rolled to enter and bravely decided to move well forward up the good  track to support the Brescia.  

The AUS 2/24th battalion succeeded getting on the board on turn 2 moving NW up the poor track with intention to assault the village. The infantry companies led in Bren carriers followed by the support companies in trucks and the BHQ in carriers. They were in command on entry, due to proximity to the control point, but the Allies failed C2 roll on turn 3 and the advance of the lead companies was slowed as they were more than 12"from the entry control point.

 As the Axis troops advanced they investigated markers and uncovered some entrenchments and a supply dump (100 points). The company of Ramcke Fallschirmjaeger entered a bit late but made up ground on the good track, moving well forward to support the Bresicas right flank just south of the village, seeing the approach of the 2/24th. Unfortunately they investigated a marker that was a minefield and suffered casualties. Fallschirmjaeger were made of strong stuff however and instead of retreating, went to ground in the minefield to bring fire on the Aussies. The Folgore paras disembarked SW of the village to engage the 2/24th approaching from the SE, leaving some troops in the Saharianas to man the formidable 20mm cannons and VMGs. The accompanying Ariete AB40s skirted to the north to protect the left flank and the Ariete Milmarts deployed ~500m behind the village with a field of fire to the NE where Allied armour may be expected. One Company of the Brescia held the village, another was in reserve west of it and another company bravely scouted to the north, past the crossroads.

The Storch twice tried to call in indirect fire by the 150mm guns on the advancing vehicle column of the 2/24th but could not make sufficient radio contact (50% chance).

Around turn 4 the Bofors AA from 15th Lt AA Regt entered and deployed in anticipation of enemy air activity, with range to just cover most of the units. The M3 Honeys of the 4th/8th Hussars entered to the north and moved up so the right flank invested the control point where the good track entered the board (150 points). They overran markers but nothing was found and luckily they did not hit a minefield. The 2/24th were deploying to assault the village and discovered a supply cache (100 points) but remained in the carriers for initial softening up of the village. Due to previous bad C2 the RHQ in trucks was brought up to ensure greater C2 range from the control point to the BHQ and all units of the 2/24th.

 The CAP Hurricane section arrived late, on turn 4, but as the Me110s from ZG 26 were also late the RAF were unopposed and easily drove off the AOP Storch although the skilful pilot avoided being shot down. The Hurricanes could provide air superiority for 4 turns before running low on fuel. The Me110s of ZG 26 arrived the following turn but were driven off for a turn by the Hurricanes in the ensuing melee.  

The 3rd Company of the Brescia who had overrun the cross roads control point (150 points) and were scouting ahead of the village, were engaged by both a company of the advancing 4th/8th Hussars M3s and two companies of the 2/24th Bren carrier VMGs, inflicting grievous casualties, forcing a morale check and withdrawal of the survivors.

The other company of 2/24th carriers engaged the Fallschirmjaeger trapped in the minefield causing further casualties and their Vickers MG and mortar companies began to unload to soften up the village for a close assault. Both the Brescia in the village and Folgore behind their right flank engaged the 2/24th leftmost A company and inflicted slight losses on the infantry inside the carriers.  

The Milmarts had engaged the M3s at long range but not inflicted losses, so when the Hussars had moved to a closer range for HE, a whole company and the BHQ troop poured HE fire into the trucks and destroyed the section [25 points]. The Ariete AB40s supported their 132nd Arty Regt comrades, engaging the M3s but even though the Honeys are lightly armoured the 20mm cannon fire had litle effect. 

As the ZG26 Me110s had been temporarily driven off by the RAF, the Bofors AA section decided to move forward to provide a deeper AA umbrella for the 2/24th and the Hussars as they advanced.


Without waiting for the support fire from their MG and mortar companies to fully take effect on the the village, the A & B companies of the 2/24th disembarked from their carriers and close assaulted the village, helped somewhat by lack of reserve fire from the defenders as they had been engaged in a fire-fight with the carrier MGs. The Aussies had the numbers and the advantage of elite close assault versus poor for the Brescia, which overwhelmed the defenders hard cover advantage, and they were ejected from the village with the cross-roads changing hands [150 points].

The 8th Pz Regt (I Battalion/II Kompanie) armour now arrived on the Axis left flank near the NW corner, with two sections (PzIIIJ & PzIVF) south of the wadi, squeezing between it and the soft sand, and one section (PzIIIG) north of it, overrunning the control point on the poor track [150 points].  

The Fallschirmjaeger in the minefield were taking grievous losses from the 2/24th MMG and mortar support companies who were no longer required to fire on the village, and they exited the minefield taking further casualties. The survivors joined the nearly two surviving companies of Brescia in a counter-attack on the village, bolstering their close assault ability so that the Aussies were ejected.

Meanwhile south of the village the Ariete AB40s decided discretion was the better part of valour and rather than being destroyed by the M3s who the Panzer’s could deal with, moved back to support their Folgore comrades in pouring fire into the 2/24th, particularly the exposed Vickers MG crews near the track.

 With the M3s of the Hussars lined up in great numbers north of the village the Axis troops welcomed the arrival of the 'PaK front' of 88mm and 75mm guns from 15th Pz Div who could deal with the enemy armour at long range. The KampfGruppe command group also decided to move out of the view of the Hussars behind the burning Milmarts, but close enough to lend command support to the Italians.

The tanks of the 15th Pz Div and Hussars started to trade rounds at ranges near 1500m as the PaK guns were setting up. The Germans were hoping to draw the British armour onto their AT gun line as so many times in the past. However by late 1942 the British crews had learned not to 'Balaclava' and charge German armour so they halted to give better chance of hitting. The Panzers also halted to increase their chances of hitting the lightly armoured M3s with their more powerful guns.     

A troop of M3s in B squadron were brewed up and two or three other troops suffered various levels of damage. The section of PzIIIJs suffered light damage but concentrated HE fire destroyed the 88mm guns. The section of PzIVFs then suffered heavy damage which brought a morale check on the II Kompanie and they reversed a further 300m from the enemy.

The Me110s returned after being driven off two turns ago and another dogfight ensued with the Hurricanes who were on their last turn due to low fuel. This melee was inconclusive and the boys from ZG 26 remained on the board to search for targets as the RAF chaps departed.

The two remaining troops of the Hussars A Squadron Honeys detached to south of village and engage the Folgore who were causing heavy casualties to the support companies of the 2/24th. The Folgore suffered some losses and a morale check forced them back to the cover of the entrenchments for a turn.

The 2/24th B company who had returned to their carriers after being driven from the village, emerged with the C reserve company to close assault the remnants of the Brescia in the village. As the few remaining Fallschirmjaeger and many  of the Brescia in the village had been whittled away by VMG fire from the carriers and the Honeys, the Italian infantry were heavily outnumbered and were ejected from the village for a second time [150 points]. Upon exiting the village they were hit by VMG fire from the M3s, suffering more casualties, and surrendered after a more brave stand than was expected of them.

As it was getting late, action was about to be curtailed and the last shots were fired. The Hurricanes ran low on fuel and departed leaving the skies free for the Me110s to attack. South to north runs were made on the A squadron M3s south of the village, within the range of the 40mm Bofors which opened up but didn't drive off or shoot down any attackers. The Me110 used bombs and 20mm cannon fire but rolled 2D6=2 (snake eyes) for the bombs and not much better for the cannons, so no damage was caused to the Allied armour. Comments were made that maybe we shouldn't have been
fearing the Me110s so much......

The departure of the RAF had allowed the Storch AOP to return to the field as it can loiter for a long time as it doesn't  charge around in air combat or ground attack. From the NW corner above the panzer kompanie it observed the Me110 attacks and the Bofors AA fire and decided neutralising the AA might help the aim of the boys from ZG 26. This time the radio contact worked and the 150mm guns were called in on the Bofors battery.

One 150mm battery scored a high number of hits and the Bofors and crew were destroyed [20 points]. This was observed by the remnants of the 2/24th MG support company who'd taken a pounding from the Folgore, especially the 20mm cannons on the Saharianas, and were retreating past the Bofors section after a bad result on a morale check.

The Allies were slightly ahead on points, particularly after re-capturing the village and associated control point and having destroyed some whole smaller Axis units such as the Ramcke company. However the 2/24th and the Hussars had both taken reasonable damage and were possibly lucky that some of the companies or squadrons had not been destroyed or routed.   
Likely the Allies could have captured the supply dump the Axis discovered SW of the village [100 points] but they would not have been able to take the two control points near the western edge and the remaining PaK 40 and Panzer’s were still dangerous to the M3s. The Me110 cannon strafing and the AOP directed 150mm on the reduced two companies of infantry remaining to the 2/24th could have been enough to break their morale. A Marginal Allied victory seems to be the outcome.   


  1. Thanks for setting up the game Dave. Good fun. The axis forces were crippled in a number of areas, their artillery would have hurt any of the allied units but it only got one salvo off, the axis faced overwhelming firepower from the massed brens and honeys which could always be concentrated. Then they found that minefield....I think we got off lightly.

  2. Hey Dave thanks for setting the game up and the detailed AAR.
    Nice to get your models on the tabletop!
    Well done to you and Stu!
    Next time as discussed during packing up we must not forget in the heat of action the spotting rules, we had buttoned up tanks duelling and bombarding ATGs at long range...took away some of the ATGs advantages and exposed them to concentrated HE fire...looking forward to our next North African excursion!