So, I finally got (most) of my 8th Army tanks and Australian infantry back! There’s a whole saga behind this that I won’t go into, suffice to say There’s a local painting service I will never use again!!
Any how, not wanting to wait any longer than necessary to get them on a table, I arranged a Panzergrenadier North Africa game with Neil (who was looking for an excuse to get his Italians out of storage). I provided a scenario, in early 1941, the Italian 10th Army was encircled after the battle of Beda Fomm. This game was the Italian attempt to breakout and save their army. That was the Italian objective-force a breakthrough, the Aussies had to stop them.
The Australian set up….
I won the initiative in round 1 and went first. I decided that the b est form of defence was attack and rolled my tanks forward. I had Crusaders on both flanks and Valentines in the centre. The Italians had 2 companies of M13 tanks, which were equivalent to my Crusaders, the Valentines had better armour, but their guns were only 2pdr. The Aussie tanks rolled forward, but the infantry were reluctant to move. The Italians called for artillery, which fell on the Valentines, but did no damage. The M13s then fired on the Crusaders on the right, causing 1 to disengage and suppressing the other 2, damaging one. The Italian infantry and tankettes then moved forward.
The Crusaders take fire….
Next turn and the Australian infantry again refuse to advance. Their tanks began to fire on the Italians, killing one of the tankettes (for which I took some stick from Messers Danskin and Gillespie) and brewing a couple of M13. The Italian response was to kill one Crusader and damage another, causing it to disengage. There was also another artillery mission, targeted at the Valentines and 1 Crusader, but again, it did no damage.
…the tanks exchange fire…
The Italian tanks on the Aussie’s right flank began to roll forward, but a well times airstrike sent 3 of them scuttling back in suppression. Not a great result for the RAF, but it stalled the Italian armour for a while. However, the 2 tanks that remained managed to kill a Crusader. More Italian tankettes were left as pillars of smoke, leading to more disparaging comments from Neil and Sandy. Over on the Aussie left, the Italian infantry close assaulted another Crusader and won. Yes, you read that right…Italian infantry….ITALIAN INFANTRY!! Close assaulted an Australian medium tank….AND WON!!!!! What is the world coming to? It gave Neil the opportunity to gloat for the rest of the evening (which he duly took) and means I can no longer remind Sandy of a PIII being brewed by a Polish Lancer.
Italian tanks are pushed back, but Crusaders are left burning….
…1 by close assault….
The Australian infantry finally decided to get it’s collective arse in gear and moved forward. This led to some confusing and disjointed situations on the right, where several close assaults were made and sections were disengaging or being destroyed. The Australians successfully called for artillery twice, but the results were disappointing, not as bad as the Italian barrages, but could have been a lot better. The Australians and Italians both reached 25% force depletion on the same turn, meaning both had morale tests to take, which both passed. The game had now turned into an attritional affair and, with time moving on, it was decided to call a halt and declare a draw.
A draw is declared…
So, an enjoyable encounter. A draw is as good as a win for the Italians, and my Aussies will receive a stern talking to, with possible cut in beer rations! (Maybe not, I don’t want a mutiny.) The Italians didn’t achieve their objective of a breakthrough, but they did inflict heavy damage on the Aussies. The game was also only supposed to last 12 turns, but I didn’t tell Neil this and was not counting anyway, so that is a moot point. Doubtless I will be reminded of Italian infantry destroying a Crusader in close assault. If not by Neil, then definitely by Sandy (payback’s a bitch…..)
Next week we’re staying with WWII, this time early war Eastern Front. Sandy has agreed to draw up a scenario for his Germans and my Soviets. Hopefully I will get to command them this time and they acquit themselves better than last time (when MDF Michael led them to crushing, humiliating defeat.)
Watch this space….