Wednesday 30 June 2021

Lohmen’s Windmühle - Game One, 1813-14 campaign for Soldiers of Napoleon.

Change of campaign for the Napoleonics play-test gaming, moving on from 1809 to 1813, with new army lists (same model collections though).

The first battle of this second mini-campaign would take place somewhere near the Elbe river, approaching Dresden, as my Austrian division, still under under Graff von Klopp's command, marched as part of the War of the 6th Coalition against Napoleon.

Here is my army list for the battle, 3 brigades. 2 would start deployed, with a third (the cavalry) in Reserve.

Kraweitz’s Infantry Brigade
3 Line Fusilier battalions        6 stands each
1 Landwehr battalion        3 stands
1 Foot Battery of 6 pdrs        2 guns
1 attached Jaeger detachment

Actherburg’s Infantry Brigade
3 Line Fusilier battalions        6 stands each
1 Landwehr battalion        3 stands
1 Foot Battery of 6 pdrs        2 guns
1 Foot Battery pf 12 pdrs        2 guns
1 attached Jaeger detachment

Grujik’s Light Cavalry Brigade (in Reserve)
5th Hussars                5 stand
4th Chevau-Leger            4 stands
1 Horse Battery of 3 pdrs    2 guns

The French force facing me was constructed of 3 brigades. The first an Infantry brigade, mostly reserve infantry battalions, with a couple of regulars just to stiffen them, and its own artillery reinforced with 12 pdrs from the central reserve. A force suited for defensive action really, that reserve raw infantry would struggle in attack. The second was a strong light cavalry brigade, 1 regiment each of Hussars, Chasseurs and Line Lancers, supported by a horse battery. The third, his reserve, was a Dragoon brigade, 3 Dragoon regiments and their horse battery, moving up behind. His shock force.

Here is my estimation of the French force:

Infantry Brigade
2 Line Infantry battalions        6 stands each
3 Reserve Infantry battalions    5 stands each
1 Foot Battery of 8 pdrs        2 guns
1 Foot Battery of 12 pdrs        2 guns

Light Cavalry Brigade
Hussars                4 stands
Chasseurs                5 stands
Line Lancers            5 stands
1 Horse Battery of 6 pdrs     2 guns

Dragoon Brigade (in Reserve)
3 Dragoon regiments        4 stands each
1 Horse Battery of 6 pdrs     2 guns

We randomly generated the battlefield, with its single building, a windmill (a chance to use the new model). It was open fields mostly, so good cavalry ground - err, not good! No doubt this why the French chose to fight here.

My plan was to conduct a steady advance to contact, pin down the French infantry and then, send my cavalry on fast flanking assault on my right, round his left, which looked weak with just 1 reserve infantry battalion out there and no guns. So, close in with steady pressure, then a right hook.

The French, well, they had decided to be very aggressive. Their infantry would sit back and hold and line, centre and left, whilst the cavalry attacked, in force, concentrated effort, on his right flank, my left, by the windmill. He’d have to wait for the Dragoons show-up first, so maybe I could et into place and be well on top by then?

Well, no plan last long in contact with the enemy. Mine lasted… about 2 minutes!

The French had the initiative and wasted no time in sending his light brigade rushing me on my left, they galloped forwards, sabres out, lances lowered, and instantly my infantry lines had a problem. Skirmishers out, their fire did some damage, but not enough. I would have to form square, and thus would end my advance. Except, a special event card I held allowed me to redeploy my reserve. I could call them across to the left and counter his cavalry with mine. I did, and my own Hussars and Chevau-leger, and their guns, arrived post-haste. My Hussar’s charge saw off his Chasseurs and, my fire and the threat of being charged saw his lancers withdraw. Not before they had routed a line battalion though, pointy-sticked to death… I’d also lost a 6 pdr gun battery when the gunners fled his approaching horsemen. That battery was now replaced by the 3 pdr horse battery though, so I had some cannon support. Still, so much for my right hook… I was dancing to the French tune, on the defensive, from turn 1.

We traded fire and neither side advanced much, skirmishers did their work, and gunners (for once the French guns missed a few times, obvious not the same men as 4 years earlier, those veteran gunners were now dead in Russia!).

Turn 3 ended, the French had a narrow early lead on VPs, but I had halted his early, unexpected, light cavalry rush. My guns did broke one his reserve infantry battalions with concentrated fire… green troops were not going to stand in front of accurate 12 pdr fire. Now, with a senior officer (General St Cyr) arriving to take a look over the battlefield, he directed in the Dragoons, streaming in in columns of march, for speed, and cantering right, my left, for the windmill. Basically, most the fighting took place around the windmill. Could I stop his Dragoons with my light cavalry and my infantry lines behind? That would be the battle today.

The answer was, err, no! His Dragoons rushed up and deployed into lines for the charge, I fired, volleys and skirmishers joined in, as well as my 3 pdrs gamely banging away, but those Dragoons were in the mood today. I did not immediately form square, mainly as I calculated I had enough firepower and my own light cavalry counter-charges to halt him. Be brave, stand and fight boys! When his first Dragoons charged, my Chevau-leger counter-charged to stop them, fought the melee, and lost! Badly lost, cut to ribbons, the few survivors fled back to my board edge. When the second Dragoon regiment charged, my Hussars counter-charged to meet them and did halt them in a close fight, but were pushed back. His third Dragoon regiment was stalled (a special event from me), just checking orders, they were not ready to go yet. Those lost melees saw the French jump well ahead on victory points. We both furiously rallied to recover damage and good order, and prepared ourselves for another turn of cavalry dueling around the windmill. My excellent Hussars quickly got back into good order and, after another volley from the 3 pdrs, charged into the Dragoons again. This time, they lost again and took heavy losses as well, the Dragoons riding to meet them with the heavier horse having the slight advantage over the light. My 5th Hussars were driven off again, and the Dragoons ploughed on into the 3 pdr battery and sabred down the gunners. That defeat was enough for the Austrians, the far left flank had gone, French Dragoons would soon be round it. Time to retreat and conceded the field. The battle was over, a decisive French win…

Well, nice to have a cavalry-heavy action, his Dragoons had done their job and won the fight (it was never very even). On the right, my infantry were untouched, as were his, they had faced each other and exchanged cannon fire, and that was it. My own attack never started, pushed on to the back foot and reacting from turn 1 by his bold cavalry assault. I had stopped the first wave, but couldn’t hold the second, more powerful wave of bigger horsemen. One mistake I’d made was not to get into firing lines for the infantry to bring some withering volleys to bear. My battalion ‘mass’ columns didn’t pack the firepower, but might have resisted a charge better. Should have got into lines and risked it.

Another defeat, these French are good. For the campaign we did the ‘Marching Phase’, between battles, determined losses, experience and generated the next game. My men, demoralised by the defeat, faced a hard march and lost some army morale, grr!  The French were bouyed by the win - double grr! The next battle, well, it’s a big one, an Army-sized game (the biggest), part of ‘Grand Battle’ of the campaign with extra VPs at stake. So, von Klopp will lead his division into the Battle of Dresden and do his part against St Cyr’s defenders, with Napoleon himself marching in to aid. He could even turn-up on our bit of the bigger battlefield (special events in the game allow for this - you can’t just chose to have the Emperor, or Wellington etc. in command, but they can show-up to aid and take a look over your sector).

My 3 brigades will be reinforced by 2 more from the army list, so 5 in all. I already know what they will be. A first outing from my grenadier brigade and a chance for my Cuirassier brigade to get into the action. With those big-hitters in support I guess I better attack… all out attack next time, hit them with the heavy-weights… that’ll be fun. Or maybe I should be more cautious? … these French know their business. 

Achterburg's brigade deployed on the right. And there they would stay... quiet day for them.

Kraweitz' brigade, on the left, facing the windmill and the main French cavalry assault. In battalion columns for the advance. Never corrected that mistake.

Graff von Klopp inspects the French lines, as his 12 pdr battery, full caissons just behind, ready themselves to give them fire in the centre.

Line lancers, grim Polish-types, race forwards past the windmill, skirmishers and jaegers snipe away.

Achterburg's skirmishers go forwards, a few Voltiguers hold the walled paddock are encountered. A few musket shots traded here won't effect the day's result. 

Chasseurs spur-in, their first charge, soon countered and seen-off by Austrian Hussars.  

Here they come, to the rescue... Hussar!
Meanwhile, light cavalry, jaegers and skirmishers counter the lancers

Dragoons pile onto the tabletop and move forwards at speed.    

Into lines now, in open fields, and heading for my far left, through shot and shell, but very determined today.

Dragoons sweep past the windmill, having just wrecked by light horse regiment, missing are the piles of dead men and horses.
Onward! Into the horse battery, cutting down the gunners... the end of the battle.

Monday 21 June 2021


 Work on the 'Soldiers of Napoleon' rules continues, mostly testing and tweaking. Game 4 of our ‘Thunder on Danube - 1809’ campaign was a larger affair, involving 4 brigades aside, which must include the 2 brigades of our own divisions, then 2 extra brigades chosen to support them. One of these brigades must also be in reserve. For my force, along with Kraweitz’ Advanced Guard brigade and Achterburg’s Infantry brigade of von Klopp’s division, I added von Grujik’s cavalry brigade and, in reserve, a brigade of Cuirassier heavy cavalry. So, time for the mounted men to finally see some action.

The French had, without realizing, almost matched my force choice with a light cavalry brigade and a ‘medium’ dragoon brigade in reserve. We both chose our tactical order for the day, the French would be making a steady advance, I went for all out attack. I had defended in the last two games and so it was time to try and take it to the French, especially given all the horsemen I had to field.

My plan was to attack all along the line, try to the give the French too much to cope with, problems to resolve left, right and centre and, wherever was weakest, target with the heavy cavalry. As it turned out, given the card plays, it hard to attack and maintain any momentum with 3 brigades at once, I was also giving myself too much to do.

I deployed with the flanks forward, Kraweitz on the left, Grujik’s cavalry on the right. These would begin the attack, with Actherburg following straight up the centre. It was this part of the attack that suffered most and stalled, because the demand of the cards was too great on the wings, so I couldn’t spare many to get going, and under accurate (as ever, they just can’t miss), French artillery, causing them to use cards to Rally rather than march. Achterburg’s brigade never got stuck in.

The cavalry on my right initially did well, the French light cavalry came forwards to counter them, but a few good charges and the help of a ‘Fierce Cavalry Charge’ special event saw my horsemen get the upper hand and drive the French back, even overrunning his deployed 4 pdr gun horse battery in the process. The French would rally though and, later return, for round 2. My infantry attack on the left moved up and its artillery support did good damage as I was on the way in, but, heavy fire against my Grenz regiment saw them break… again!  French artillery also broke a battalion in the centre. They roll 5+ about 75% of the time!

The French had a narrow early lead in Victory Points, but I also held a ‘battlefield objective’ card, these are objectives on the cards you can hold on to, and claim if you can achieve them, with hefty VPs for each (they include things like, get guns to high ground, break through enemy lines, etc.). Mine was a ‘Grand Assault’, requiring me to charge with 5 different units in 1 turn. I saw a chance to do it… 2 cavalry units on the right would be able to charge, 2 infantry battalions on the left, so 1 more unit needed. The only option as my reserve Hussars, they streamed forwards at the gallop, and drew canister and musket fire, taking heavy losses, it would cost me the regiment and maybe 5 VPs for them, but, if they charged, broke a French unit, and the other veteran French battalion also broke (it was already heavily damaged by cannon fire) then I could win up to 16 VPs myself (The French Break Point was 30, so that would be a huge hit to them). Worth the risk and sacrifice, so I used all the Action cards and command re-rolls I had and threw the kitchen sink at it.

And… it failed…

My Hussars gamely charged in and won, but didn’t break the French by 1 point! Ah, one 3+ roll (I used my re-rolls here to). The Hussars themselves broke in return. Worse yet, my infantry battalion’s charge failed to reach the French, needing to cover 8 paces, they move 6+D6 paces. I rolled a 1… no! Last command re-roll had to be used… and I rolled another 1. NO! Their failed charge meant I hadn’t completed the Grand Assault objective either (only 4 units had successfully charged the enemy this turn). Disaster, and a game turning event. The French had survived my reckless dash, and the damage sustained was costly to me.

The rest if the battle was really just the French artillery and skirmishers pushing me ever closer to breaking. His light cavalry came back and saw off my chevau-leger on the right. I pulled back and rallied. When the Cuirassier regiments arrived the battle was already up… all they could do was cover my retreat from his Dragoons as they streamed onto the table. The expected big cavalry clash didn’t happen. I shot my bolt too early.

A solid French win. Drat! I risked it all and lost! Damn my rubbish dice. The French commander though I’d lost my marbles in such a reckless dash, but they didn’t know I had the objective card and only in the post-game discussion did the penny drop as the damage that could have been inflicted on him.

In the campaign, news arrived that the French had also won another victory, gaining him more campaign VPs… and when it came to seeing if there would be a next battle, the Austrians sued for peace. It was over… Napoleon had won in 1809 after just 4 battles (there is no set number of games in the campaign, it goes on until one side is forced to sue for peace).

We are now moving on, to restart a 2nd campaign, but this time with new army lists for the campaign of 1813. We shall fight again, von Klopp will still be in command of my division, as will General Renard for the French, back from Russia no doubt. Let’s hope for better luck 4 years later.

Shot of the action, a defeat, but great fun... and that's all that matters.


Von Grujik's cavalry will attack on the right, whilst Achterburg's infantry form the solid centre, in columns to attack, if he can get going.

Kraweitz' advanced guard brigade, on the left of my all out attack. His Hussars in reserve would play a critical role.

French columns on his right, the Brigade de Loup, hordes of them. A very strong infantry brigade now, reinforced with a fresh depot battalion - a campaign event.

French light cavalry in march column prepare to gallop forwards to face down my cavalry. Beyond, French infantry march up into the large woods.

The Austrain Chevau-Leger press on, getting the upper hand in the cavalry skirmish here.

My left flank move up, into the fire of many French Voltiguers. The Grenz broke under artillery fire.

On my far right, my light cavalry duel with his Chasseurs and overrun a French horse battery.

Baron Radetsky's finest Hussars plunge into the French line through canister shot and musket balls, they are lost, but their sacrifice could well have swung the battle. Alas, it did not prove so.

The heavy cavalry arrive from reserve, but it's already too late to do anything but cover the retreat. With hindsight, waiting for them, then going on the all out attack would have been a better plan. Perhaps use the cavalry to force him into squares, then attack with the infantry... so, yeah, do it right! 




Monday 14 June 2021

Siege of Rohrzendorf, Soldiers of Napoleon, campaign game 3

The game’s campaign system 'under testing' had thrown up a siege assault scenario for the next game, an oddity, but I had to come up with a scenario for it. Some reading on Napoleonic sieges later and I had the bones of one, to be tested out in this game.

This was it, von Klopp’s Austrians holding the walls of Rohrzendorf as the French assaulted the breach their guns had smashed. I had only half the points of the French but the big walls to hide behind. Trying to create interest and drama in what is a static defence game is always tough I find. These games feel very one-sided, with all the decisions with the attacker and the defender just waits and opens fire when he can. Which is what I did.

The table was set up and the armies selected and deployed, the French had two strong infantry brigades reinforced by extra guns and some fresh depot battalions of new recruits, as well as issued siege ladders and with one veteran battalion was selected as the Forlorn Hope, deployed opposite the breach – first in…

The game began with the French bombardment of the walls (not to damage them, this is assumed to have already been done, hence this assault is ordered). I had little to fire back with, we decided only light guns (3/4 pdr) would be deployable to the walls or towers, unless the defender purchased a specific ‘artillery bastion’ for heavier guns (I hadn’t). So most of my guns covered the breach and gate from within, safe, but out of the battle for now.

The assault battalions moved up and skirmish fire started from both sides (firing is split between harassing Skirmish fire and Volley fire, at shorter range but with more umpf! ).

The initial French bombardment was accurate, as his guns have been all campaign and the parapets were taking a pounding. I had a single howitzer lobbing shells back over, but not doing much. The French moved up, the forlorn hope cautiously as my own skirmish fire from rifle-armed jaegers at the breach inflicted the first losses.

His main assault was at the gate, a unit of pioneers coming forwards with axes and demolition charges to try and open it, the Grenz battalion holding the gate found the French covering fire too galling, and after a dire rallying situation (I drew no cards that could rally them), they broke. The French rushed the gate and a second battalion raised their ladders to get over the wall here. At the breach, the forlorn hope held its place, no point in risking the carnage here if the gate fell… meanwhile to my right, 3 more battalions were approaching with ladders and my losses had already been heavy to his cannonade. My reserve battalion rushed up to hold the wall here and drove the first assault via escalade back, then the second, but the third saw the French (actually his Swiss mercenaries) gain a foothold on the wall and drive my men back into town.

The situation for me was grim, French troops were pouring in, my cannons gave them a whiff of grapeshot and slowed them down, but I had run out of men. When his forlorn hope won the melee at the breach and another of my battalions broke, the Austrians had had enough. He was in and Rohrzendorf had fallen! Let the looting begin!

An interesting first run through, with many changes to make. We agreed the defenders needs some extra help, badly outnumbered as he is. I’m not sure the wall is enough help and the breech should be the main objective and easiest way in, the ladders are a diversion or secondary method. Here the French came over the walls rather than through them. At the gate his cannons and muskets swept the way clear for an easy climb in – which is how it should be done I guess. Still, fun game and it looked great. I have never played, or even seen played, a Napoleonic siege assault before, so something of  first… back to field battles next time though. The French are winning our 1809-based campaign, but it goes on, although another heavy defeat might see the Austrians forced to sue for peace, so I need a win.

Photos of the action as General Renard’s division take Rohrzendorf. 

White coats deploy onto the walls

as the French deploy for the assault, guns and reserve batteries are in place, ammo caissons full.

The town walls and the breach

Also, guns targeting the town gate, battery, caisson and limber (if required, unlikely)

Forlorn Hope sends out their skirmishers to clear away the Austrians harassing them.

My 6 pdr and howitzer cover the gate from the inside.

Here they come... green dice are for Disruption (damage) to the units
Enemy at the gate... pioneers lay into it with axes but didn't force it... second battalion got over the walls instead.

The siege ladders are up and the fight is on. Two attacks driven back, but the third got over.

Unopposed after the loss of my Grenz, the French are on the walls over the gate. Taking fire from the cannons though...

Numbers diminishing fast, my whitecoats can't stop the tide.

The Forlorn Hope come through the breach, better late than never... but a big French win.

Tuesday 8 June 2021


This was a 1,000 point historical scenario for an engagement between 51 RTR and Kampfgruppe Kleeberg of the Herman Goering division during operation Ochsenkopf, north Tunisia, 1943.

The situation is that Kleeberg’s battlegroup has broken through gap in the British lines and is advancing on the town of El Aroussa, which is the location of the HQ and main supply route of Y Division (an ad-hoc British formation). To prevent Y Division becoming cut-off, elements of 51 RTR were diverted to intercept the Germans, at a low ridge some 4 miles north of town, which they called ‘the Spot’. Here, the Churchill tanks and their support would halt the German advance, if they made it there in time.

They did, just, reaching the Spot just ahead of the panzers and a furious engagement resulted… that would be our refight. Here are the two forces.

German Forces from Kampfgruppe Kleeberg, ‘Herman Goering’ Division
BR: 72  Officers 6  Scouts 4

Aufklarungs Force from 2nd Jaeger Battalion ‘Herman Goering’ Division
1 Recce command in SdKfz 222     2-v BR    (Officer, Scout, Artillery Spotter)
1 SdKfz 222                 1-r BR    (Scout, Mortar Spotter)

2 Armoured Infantry Patrols         6-v BR    (Scout, Mortar Spotter)
each 4 men with MG-42 in SdKfz 250/1

1 Assault Pioneer Squad         4-v BR    (Assault Troops, Engineers)
7 men with flamethrower, anti-tank grenades and 2 demolition charges
in captured M3 halftrack    

1 Light Bridging Unit             2-r BR    (Bridging)
6 men in SdKfz 251/7

Medium truck with 20mm AA gun         1-r BR

Main Force from Kampfegruppe Kleeberg
Forward HQ                 3-v BR    (Senior Officer, Artillery spotter)
3 men in SdKfz 250/3

Luftwaffe Air Liaison Officer         1-r BR    (Officer, Air Spotter 4+)
3 men with Radio Van

Forward Signals Unit            1-r BR    (Comms)
Medium Radio Truck

Platoon from II Co. 2nd Jaeger Battalion ‘Herman Goering’ (formerly 5th Fallschirmjager Regiment)
1 Jaeger Platoon HQ             15-v BR    (Officer, Mortar spotter)
6 men in a Heavy Car
3 Jaeger Squads - 5 men with MG42 in medium truck
3 MG Teams - 3 men with MG42

HMG Team - 3 men with sMG42      1-v BR
in medium truck
Medium Mortar Team             1-v BR
3 men and loader team with 80mm mortar in a heavy car

Anti-Tank Gun                2-v BR
PaK-38 AT gun with 3 crew and SdKfz 6 tow

Additional Jaeger Squad         4-v BR
5 men with MG42 and AT grenades in a medium truck
MG Team - 3 men with MG42
Panzer III Platoon                15-r        (1 Officer, Mortar Spotter)
5 Pz-IIIGs

Panzer IV Platoon                12-r        (1 Officer, Mortar Spotter)
4 Pz-IV F2

Supply Column                 1-i BR    (Resupply)
2 medium trucks

Off Table Support
Battery of 2 80mm mortars        0 BR
1 1st Priority Artillery Request        0 BR        2+
1 Counter Battery Fire Mission        0 BR        4+

British Forces from Y Division  
BR: 60 +1D6   Officers 6  Scout 5

Delaying Force from 56 Reconnaissance squadron, ‘Derbyshire Yeomanry’
Armoured Car command         1-r BR    (Officer, Scout, Artillery Spotter)
in Dingo

2 Daimler Mk.I  Armoured Car          2-r BR    (Scout, Mortar Spotter)

1 Carrier Section                  6-r BR
    3 men in Bren Carrier                     (Officer, Mortar Spotter)
    3 men with Bren, in Bren Carrier
    3 men with 2" mortar, in Bren Carrier

2 Infantry Foot Patrols             4-r BR    (Scout, Bren Team)
each with 8 men with Bren LMG

40mm Bofors AA gun             1-r BR        
with 3 crew medium with truck tow

Battery of two 3" mortars - off table     0 BR

Main Force from 51 RTR
True Grit                      +1D6 BR

Forward HQ                 3-r BR    (Senior Officer, Artillery Spotter)
3 men in M5 halftrack

Forward Signals Unit            1-r BR    (Comms)
Medium Wireless truck

Forward Observer Team            1-i BR    (Artillery Spotter)
2 men in Bren Carrier

1 Infantry Platoons from ‘Faughs’ Royal Irish Rifles - consists of:
Platoon HQ                    9-r BR    (Officer, Mortar Spotter)
5 men in light truck
3 Rifle sections
- 8 men with Bren in medium truck
1 light mortar team
- 2 men with 2" mortar

3” Mortar team - 3 men            1-r BR
Vickers HMG team - 3 men        1-r BR

Anti-Tank Gun                2-r BR
2lb gun, 3 crew and light truck tow

Churchill Tank Troop            12-r        (1 Officer)
4 Mk III or IVs

Churchill Tank Troop            12-r        (1 Officer)
4 Mk III or IVs

1  Mk I Churchill Tank            3-r BR    (Unreliable)

Supply Column                 1-i BR    
2 Medium Trucks

2 x 1st Priority Artillery Requests     0 BR        3+

We started with 6 turns, the max, of a recce only phase, in which my Aufklarung did well, lost a 222 to a Daimler’s 2 pdr shot and a 250/1 to a mortar stonk, but in general their MGs and return mortars kept the British well pinned down and secured 2 objectives, including the important road bridge over the rocky ‘nullah’, an overgrown ditch/ravine at the base of the ridge. By turn 6, the German’s repeated MG suppressing fire and mortars (including one stonk that rolled four 6s for 4 direct hits!), had the British in a mess, one infantry foot patrol had been wiped out, the other pinned, the carrier section was gone, their rides withdrawing and a Daimler armoured car was smoking on the road, the Bofors was dragged forwards as emergency AT cover, but later withdrew, not needed… the Germans were well ahead on counters by the time the main forces arrived.

Both got off the slow start with that, rolling 1s, and so the tanks dribbled on. My plan was to push my Pz IIIs up to the nullah, close the range, and use a lot of HE to get some Churchills pinned, short 50mm guns would not be much use against their frontal armour. My Pz IV F2s would hang back and snipe up the ridge to get some long range kills with their better gun-power. As the tanks fought it out, I’d use my jaeger platoon and its support to push up the hill for the high ground objective, using the olive grove as cover.

The final part of the plan was to use my remaining recce troops to make a quick ‘feint’, the SdKfz 251/7 would bridge the nullah and the light armour race across to threaten the last objective on the ridge top (on my right). The Brits would have to react, drawing them away. I didn’t expect to take it, but if the British didn’t fight for it, I might just get all 4 objectives on the table, assuming the infantry push went well, but veteran FJ with MG-42s would take some stopping by his Royal Irish Rifles.

Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and so it went. The recce feint was ruined when the 251/7 was hit by a 4.5” artillery strike that destroyed it. No quick crossing of the nullah. My panzer IIIs moved up but found great numbers of Churchills (and 2 stand-in Shermans), coming the other way. Their return fire start to hit home, I lost 1 panzer, then the pinned platoon HQ tank abandoned his charge to another glancing hit. In return, I got 3 Churchills pinned with HE, good work, but it was an uneven fight, I needed the F2s quick. Finally, my forces started to arrive en-masse. The infantry trucks rolled up to the olive grove, disembarked their passenger and they headed off up the slope. Their mortar team set-up behind and platoon HQ found a position in the desert to look up the objective, to get shelling it.

The F2s moved out right to form a firing line and the first opened fire, missing. The battle was now on, the preliminaries over, both sides were fully committed. The battle raged for a few turns, my infantry did well, pinning his infantry, breaking one section and knocking out his 2” mortar team, the weight of my infantry attack, now at the top edge of the olive grove and blazing MG-42 fire up the slope, was winning. It looked unlikely he could hold the objective, with just 1 section and his platoon HQ left amidst the rocks and undergrowth, but a Churchill (Mk 1) had climbed up to aid them with close HE support.

Meanwhile, the tank fight was going badly. Very badly. Another Pz III burst into flames and my return 75mm fire was not penetrating any armour, just a few pins, but hey, better than nothing. Still, the Churchills pressed on, down the slope, moving slow and firing as they came. One, ‘Adventurous’, reached the road bridge and traded fire with a Pz III and close quarters, my shells hit and glanced off, his hit, and wrecked the panzer. I had 1 infantry squad left contesting that objective from the nullah. If they got pinned, he could claim it back.

The counters had stacked up, and it got worse, his second 4.5” barrage landed amidst my F2 firing line, where my FHQ’s 250 was moving to get the mortars back into action.  One Panzer IV was destroyed as the shells thundered into the desert, and my FHQ and another panzer was pinned. That strike really was it, one more counter and I’d be done, I couldn’t unpin either, so my tanks were struggling to be effective against the weight of British fire. Next turn, another fusillade of 6 pdr fire saw another Pz III, the last, go up in smoke and that was it… Kampfgruppe Kleeberg had been roughly handled, 5 from 9 panzers were wrecks. I had killed, err… 0 British tanks (I counted them twice). I did fail every penetration roll I made this game, but those Churches had rolled over me. They, as was reported on the day ‘had me on toast’.

Good game, the British started badly but came roaring back when the Churches finally got into action. Tough nut for the Germans in 1943… boot very much on the the foot from late war battles. Still, our game had played out very much as it did on the day. El Aroussa was safe and the next day the British counter-attacked up the valley and road down which the Germans had come, which saw them reach Steamroller Farm (a previous game we re-played).

Here are some shots of the game in action. 

German recce arrive, with their borrowed M3.

AA cover in place, but not needed today.

The nullah bridge objective

The forwad ridge slope under mortar fire, very accurate mortar fire.

Carrier section come up, debuss and move forward on foot.

Derbyshire Yeomanry armoured cars cover the road.

German MG team finds rocky cover and gets busy.

Recce on ambush fire at he top of the hill.

Recce team reaches the nullah in their 250/1

Ah... mortar hit...

Two can play at the game... mortars pepper the ridge.

First Brit armour, a slightly faster Sherman, to try and block the road

'werfer strike... used it too soon I think. Patiences required.

First Pz IIIs move up towards the nullah to engage.
The hill climb up the ridge rear, first Churches roll in.

Mortar team and loaders set-up and start shelling the hill top. All pinning welcome.

Jaeger's PAK-38 tries to help out, and, well, outclassed by Churchill frontal armour.

Pz IIIs suffering heavy losses...

F2, not as good as you'd think, I found out to my cost.

Infantry arrive to begin their attack.

The "Faughs", Royal Irish Rifles (the brigade's other battalion was the Inniskillen Fusiliers "the Skins" - so, squaddie humour. In the trees and rocks on top of the hill.

51 RTR pile onto the table, passing the empty infantry transports.

Roll up the ridge.

Jaegers de-buss at the olive grove to get moving up the hill - Raus! Raus!

Close encounter at the bridge.

Advancing to contact with the waiting British.

Dingo hits a mine... probably one of their own.

Adventurous live up to her name, and reaches the road bridge, dented but unscathed.

51 RTR press on down the slope. The steel tide is unstoppable.

Jaegers head for the hill top.

The Mk I reaches the top in tie to lend a much needed hand. No answer to that.

51 RTR's day...

Not mine! On toast!