Monday 27 August 2018

Op Compass - Game 4, Last Stand

Our trip through the actions at the beginning of WW2 in the Western Desert continue this week with our 4th adventure in the sands of North Africa.

If you want more information on the Campaign I have set up a separate page which is updated regularly with updates on rules along with links to all the previous games,

The games are based on an excellent book by Robert Avery which is available from The Toofatlardies, there is a direct link to purchase the book on the Resource Page.

We use 28mm figures with this scenario taking place on an 8 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules, based on Iron Ivans Disposable Hero's.

Matildas lead the charge (ok walk) into the Fort

Historical Background

It's the 9th of December 1940, the Italian advance into Egypt has stopped, the forces of Mussolini happy with the ground taken have started to consolidate and form a series of forts across the area.

The British Commander General Wavell decided that the next move of the war would be a British counter attack. Part of the plan involved the 4th Indian Division (consisting of British and Indian Infantry) supported by the heavy Matildas of 7RTR passing through a gap in the Italian lines and then turning North towards the sea attacking and neutralising forts along the way.

Our game represents the final stand of a group of Italian Troops in the Fort of Nibeiwa.

Table Set Up and Terrain

The above photo shows the table before any troops have been added, I have just used 8 x 6 of our table. As described in the briefings below this represents one corner of the Fort. There are three trenches and a series of low buildings to represent huts and buildings. In addition to that there is a large open walled area along with some tents to the bottom of that.

The roads and tracks give no bonus to movement, they are just well trodden paths within the Fort area. There are no special rules in force.

Turn 2 and Mole breaks down, it didn't move again until the last turn of the game
British Briefing and OOB

As British Commander you have the simple job of cleaning up the last defenders of Nibeiwa, the majority of the Fort has been subdued however the last pockets of resistance are holding out in one corner of the base.

Minimise your casualties as there is plenty more work to be done today, your forces for the attack are listed below,

Italian Defenders under artillery fire.
Force Commander - 1 Officer, 1 Sgt and 1 Radioman in Truck
Artillery Observer in Daimler Dingo
7th RTR Troop - 3 x Matilda 2 tanks
1 x 25pdr (Off table)

Bren Gun Carrier team with 1 vehicle carrying 1 x Vickers HMG and crew, other two with standard 1 x Bren or 1 x Boyes AT.

Bren Gun Section (HQ is force commander)
1 x Support Section with 1 x 2" Mortar and 1 x Boyes AT Rifle
3 x Infantry Sections with 1 x Sgt with SMG, 2 man Bren Team and 7 Rifles

Truck Borne Section (as Brens) but 1 truck with HQ and Supports with 3 further trucks each with an Infantry Sections.

Morale, Basic 5, Corporal 7, Sgt 9, Officer 11

British Forces arrive at the top of the table (defined by the set up photo) the Matildas move on in move 1, the British may bring 2 sections or supports per turn. Artillery is available when the Artillery Observer is on table.

Reinforcements may be available on request.

British HMG lays down support fire from a rooftop
Italian Briefing and OOB

Things are not going well, the British attacked Nibeiwa early this morning and so far they have captured most of the Fort, you are our last, best hope. Protect the radio room at all costs and hope that they can raise the required reinforcements before you get over run.

Your forces are as follows,

Force Command  - 1 x Officer and 1 x Radio Operator with 1 additional Radio Operator.

1 x L3 Tankette
2 x 75mm Field Gun and crew 
1 x HMG and crew
1 x 81mm Mortar 
1 x 47mm ATG

4 x Italian Squads each with 1 x Sgt with SMG, 1 x Corporal with Rifle,  1 x 2 man LMG team and 6 Rifles.

Italian Artillery in action
Morale Basic 4, Corp 6, Sgt 7, Artillery 8, Officer 9

All Italian Units are hidden and only placed on table if they are spotted or fire. The Italians secretly chose one of their buildings as their Radio Room and place their additional Radio Operator in that structure.

Umpire Notes 

Other than the hidden Italian deployment this is a fairly straightforward scenario, the British are expected to over run the Fort and for me unless they loose next to nothing a winning draw should be the best result they could expect. The Italians earn a draw if they cause a reasonable number of British casualties, a winning draw if they cause enough damage for the British to call for reinforcements (there aren't any !) and a win if they can hold the British off.

The game should last one full gaming day, call the result at the end of your gaming day.

Bren Carriers to the front.
How did we get on.

Another fun game, initially the Italian players, their morale dented by the last games drubbing, were quite resigned to being quickly over run but soon realised that the game was going to be a much closer affair, they chose quite a deep defence, leaving the buildings at the top of the table, instead choosing to defend the walled area and the trenches, the latter having the best fields of fire.

Looking cool, but still broken down.
The first significant action took place fairly quickly, a Vehicle Breakdown card was drawn as an event and the last vehicle to move was the Matilda called "Toad", dice rolled, a serious engine problem, cue much frustration as it took the whole game to fix !

Hide and Seek
Taken out by a Bren, embarrassing !
The "tank" battle was quite amusing, the faster but frankly useless (vs another tank) L3 Tankette, spent most of the game using it's greater speed to hide from the two remaining Matildas, hiding behind building after building with the British Infantry Tank plodding behind, this worked fine until it got bogged down in sand and shot up from the rear, quite embarrassingly by a Bren Gun.

Bren Attack !

Dismount and Charge

Run Away !
The Infantry fighting in the buildings and around the walled area was fierce, close range firefights and hand to hand combat was the order of the day. The British Infantry slowly capturing a building at a time with the Italian Infantry giving a fine account of themselves.

One Italian Artillery unit in trouble

2nd one in more trouble.
The Italian Commander had set up their two Artillery units fairly far forward in the shadow of the walled area and in the early part of the game they gave some excellent support to the front line, however both were to fall. The first Gun lost a figure to a stray round but was finished off from the machine gun on a Matilda.
The second gun was caught by a section of British Infantry, they had just cleared the walled area and ended up streaming out of the gated entrance into the Italian Artillery men, they put up a fight but there was only going to be one winner.

"I keep hitting it Sarge, it ain't doing no good"

"Ratty" proving invincible again
The Italian player fired AT after AT round into the remaining 2 Matildas but to no avail, there is a slim chance of causing some track damage with a 47mm against these beasts but rounds just kept hitting and bouncing off the hull, turret and mantle.

The last stand
The final group of Italian Infantry held out for a couple of turns in the last trench, supported by a Mortar and a HMG, but the British had ended all Italian resistance bar a AT gun and the HMG and more importantly the Radio Operator who was still busy calling for reinforcements oblivious of the carnage going on around him.

Final losses where as follows,

British - 16 Infantry and 1 Bren Carrier
Italian - 32 Infantry, 8 Artillery crew, two guns and one Tankette.

Italian Commander minding his own business when a 25pdr lands next to him.
A tough one to call, result wise and I did give a winning draw to the British on the day however on revision I think the Italians did much better than they did historically and caused a decent number of casualties, plus they put up a damn fine fight, so I have revised the result to a draw.

The draw gives 2 points each giving us a running total, after 4 games as British 11 points and 5 points to the Italians.

Game 5 coming up soon when the British will be trying to push deeper into the Italian Forts.

Friday 17 August 2018

28mm Renaissance Gendarme

The latest addition to my fledgling Italian Wars Project is this small unit of Gendarme for my Italian Wars project.

The figures are from the Perrys Miniatures plastic box set, Mounted Men at Arms set which is dated up to the end of 1500 or right at the start of the Italian Wars. I have tried to fit them together using the most appropriate parts for the period and theatre, but I am no expert, so they are done to look right for me, I am sure someone will tell me otherwise on a forum somewhere.

They are based on a 50mm x 60mm base (I like a bit of extra depth to protect the model) for my as yet undecided rule set. I am having a bit of gander at Furisio but a Gush update is still favourite. My limited reading on the period suggests that the Gendarme operated in small squadron sized units so I have gone for a 6 Figure set up.

In addition to the regular parts in the box set I have added a couple of plumes to helmets / horses which have simply been cut off unused parts in the box. The musicians arm and horn come from the Gripping Beast Arab Infantry plastic box set and the flags come from Pete's Flags (eBay).

I can't say I enjoyed painting these, being used to more uniformed troops I found the individual armour colours and designs a bit of a pain to be honest but I think once I have a big chunk of these together I will grow to love them.

I will probably do some mounted Crossbow for the Army next so watch out for those.

Thursday 2 August 2018

Sergeants of The Knights of St Lazarus

It's time again the add to my slowest growing project, that of the 28mm Crusades, 8 units in 3 years is pretty glacial !

This is my first attempt at the Fireforge Miniatures Mounted Sergeants plastic box set, nothing really to report other than that they are a great straight forward Set. Easy to put together, good looking, easy to paint, good price, everything a tight wad from Yarkshire needs !

In October 2017 I completed a unit of The Knights of St Lazarus, also using Fireforge Figures, see the link below for details on the Holy Order and the unit,

So when it came to putting together this unit I decided on doing a unit of Sergeants for the Knights I had previously done, The Order of St Lazarus was an extremely small order when it came to put men (some with leprosy) in the field of battle, so information is virtually none existent for the Knights never mind the Sergeants.

So when it came to painting these I went with a black uniform like the Templar Sergeants but with the green cross of St Lazarus, total speculation but I have long reserved the right to paint my Toy Soldiers how I bloody well like ;-)

Bases are 50mm frontage by 60mm depth, not for any particular rule set, although we have dabbled with Deus Vult, (not sure yet, need a few more goes with more troop types) we are still experimenting, will be trying out Spearpoint next.

It would be rude to not show them next to their parent unit so here they are.

Next up should be some Gendarme for my Italian Wars project but I am not feeling very focused at the moment so anything could happen.