A bit of action in North Africa, with a historical scenario written by my brother, for the Irish Rifles as they moved south and had to clear the road from Goubellat in late Jan 1943. The scenario can be found here:
I took command of the Germans, from the Herman Goering Division, defending two farms east of the road that were the objectives of the Irish Rifle’s attack. My forces, 2 Fallschirmjager platoons with support, were dug-in here, behind a minefield that blocked the road (until British engineers could clear it). The German reserves were 2 8-rad heavy armoured cars, which had been encountered in the previous days harassing the British recce troops on the road. There was also a single Pz IV… to face his 3 platoons of attacking motor rifles supported by Lothian Horse Valentines. The weather on the day was very poor, sleeting cold rain and the ground was a quagmire, so special rules for off-road movement by vehicles were in play.
Having set-up, the Germans deployed and the first British probe advanced down the road from the edge of Goubellat.
The probe soon ran into trouble, the first Valentine to move off road instantly bogged down and was immobilised in the mud. The infantry dismounted from tank riding and into a nullah (ditch) (marked on the board by foliage, but hard cover. They would come under heavy MG fire and broke. The lead Valentine then took multiple hits from the ambush fire of the Pak-38 dug-in down the road and one round penetrated and destroyed the tank. So far so good for the Germans. Their own recce patrol had made their way up the hill on their right (two trees hill) for a good view to spot for the mortars and they launched harassing fire down at the edge of the town. So far, the Brits guns hadn’t got going.
They soon did, a recce Dingo doing the spotting and launching 25pdr barrage at the first, larger, farm. Direct hits resulted in a smashed farm and the FJ inside destroyed… unhealthy place to hide.
The British reserves were arriving, more Valentines and infantry, attacking through an olive grove by the road, were 80mm mortar bombs rained down on them. The British carrier section turned left and headed cross-country for two trees hill, a bold move, stalled as one after the other the carriers all bogged down and couldn’t get out again. That British flanking attack had totally stalled in the mud.
The German reserves arrived on turn 5, the two armoured cars leading up the farm track, and the Pz IV moving into a firing position from the edge of the olive grove to exchange fire at long range with the Valentines on, or by, the road. Turns out, they are slow, but my Pz IV struggled to break-through the armour at these ranges. Mind you, their 2 pdrs could do very little back, an ineffective tank fight then.
I send one armoured car off to the first farm and the second to the small farm to help cover two trees hill, and put something large and solid in the way of the incoming British 2 pounder fire.
So far, the Brits hadn’t got far, but another platoon joined the first and they pushed on through the olive grove and encountered my dug-in MG-42 teams, trading fire and pinning, whilst the Brits moved their Vickers MG up to aid clearing the vineyard ahead. The British also got their 3” mortars on table and opened fire here, my platoon were in trouble, out-numbered and being shelled… casualties mounted.
On the right, at two trees hill, the British sent their 3rd platoon to do the carrier’s failed job, dismounting from trucks to slog up hill. My single MG team got their heads down, but one squads wasn’t going to hold them for long. I send a second squad and MG team up as well, only for mortar fire to pin them down. The fight on two trees hill would see the British take it, wiping out those squads, but then stall under heavy MG and 20mm cannon fire from the small farm at the bottom. They dragged their 2 pdr gun up to take out that 8-rad, only for its crew to be cut down by MG fire.
The counters had really mounted up, aircraft were not allowed in the scenario, and their counters counted as 5s instead… I’d draw 1. Both had a respectable stack of counters, it was close.
The British pushed on through the olive grove, clearing the vineyard ahead of my last few stubborn defenders in their foxholes. They also moved up an engineers squad in a truck and they dismounted and approached the minefield. Harassing 25 pdr fire was stopping my MGs from engaging them. They started to clear the mines, which would allow the Valentines to move up to the larger farm and take that objective (I had little left to hold it). I had to unpin to get my MGs back with suppress-firing to stop those engineers, but the counter drawn pushed my BR total over the battlegroup’s MV total of 45, to 47… a risk, but required. The Herman Goering troops had to pullback, the British had cleared this stretch of road. The Pz IV was out of ammo anyway, so time for it to go.
It was close, the Brits were only 6 points from breaking, so 2 more chits maybe would have done it. Fun game… scenario special rules added a twist, with 5 British vehicles bogging down (and one working its way free at the end). We had a day of failing AP rolls, about 5 times in a row we rolled the required number and scored pins (need a 10, roll a 10, need a 4, roll a 4)… so the Germans lost no armoured vehicles, the Brits just the 1… which is a bit unusual.
Big fan of Tunisia-based games… a great theatre for battles with different and variable forces, but not the wide-open tank-battles of the desert.
I few shots of the action at Goubellat…
|The battlefield, Germans holding 2 farms, British advancing from edge of Goubellat (far edge) Two trees hill is off the bottom right of the image.
|FJ dug-in between the farms.
|Blocking the road to Bou-Arada, dug-in Pak-38.
|Small farm, with mortars behind. The Beetle is the FOOs transport.
|First probe down the road, with tank riding infantry. Dingo is the FOO.
|Valentines come under Pak fire.
|25 pdrs hit the vineyard, where FJ MG teams are dug-in.
|German reserves arrive, 2 8-rads and the Pz-IV.
|Carrier section heads left into the mud, and bogs down.
|SdKfz 233 reaches the larger farm, an objective with nothing holding it since the 25 shelling...
|Valentines are stuck... one is bogged own, one destroyed.
|The solo panzer takes aim, scores some hits, but Valentines are tough...
|Edge of Goubellat under mortar fire.
|The other 8-rad risks bogging down to get behind the small farm house.
|On station covering two trees hill.
|British infantry move across the hill top and take it.