Monday 23 December 2019

Op Compass Game 8 - Don't wake the Sergeant

After a few games clearing forts it was time to get back in the open desert, pack away those almost indestructible Matildas and break out the wafer thin armoured early Cruiser Tanks. Here is the scenario / orbat and AAR of Game 8 of our  Op Compass Campaign.

A9 Cruiser Tanks
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 12 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules, based on Iron Ivans Disposable Hero's.

A10 Cruiser Tank
Historical Background 

The Italian troops in the area had been bottled up in Sidi Barrani and the British paused to reorganise before making their attacks on the afternoon of the 10th December 1940. The defenders crumbled quickly and by night fall the last defenders of the town were pinned back to the sea.

Our game represents an attack by the Cruiser Tanks of 6 RTR against this final line of Italian troops. The original attack happened during the hours of darkness, I have decided to run the game under normal daylight rules.

Table Set Up and Terrain 

The photo above shows the table, we are playing on the full 12 x 6 layout. A flat area of desert with some undulating sand dunes and some areas of Scrub, a track runs down one edge of the table. I added two buildings post photo one in the far top right of the table and a second to the left of the green hill.

The following Special Rules are in force (see Resource Page for full details)

Bad Going

Italian Prisoners - when Italian Infantry become pinned roll 1d6, on a 5 or 6 the unit surrenders, add +2 to the die roll per additional pin. Once surrendered the unit will March towards the British entry point, it must be accompanied by a British Unit (within 9") until it leaves the table. 1 Tank can safely escort or hold 20 Figures of Italians. Once the prisoners leave the table the vehicles can resume normal duties.

Italian Artillery Crew Morale - they do not take morale tests and fight to the last man.

Dunes - all the hills are soft sand, any bad going rolls made on the hills are subject to a one shift on the dice. I.e. a roll of 3 and 4 on two d6 would not normally bog a vehicle down but a dune, the 3 is modified to a 4 to make it a double 4.

Italian Prisoners (marked with white counter) March towards the British 
British Briefing 

With the fall of the forts it's a case of mopping up the last bits of resistance in the area, Intel suggests there are some small Infantry units supported by a decent amount of Artillery. Be careful, your tanks are thinly armoured and not that reliable !

Squadron HQ 1 x A10 Cruiser Tank and 1 x A10 CS Tank
1st Troop - 3 x A9 Cruiser Tanks 
2nd Troop 3 x A10 Cruiser Tanks 

You have a two fold objective, One, destroy all the Italian Guns (Artillery and Anti Tank) and two, capture (alive) the Italian Captain who is sound asleep in the house at the opposite end of the table.

All units enter the table on the track, in column from the bottom left hand corner of the table (as viewed in the photo above).

A9 tank "Amos" in the dunes

Italian Briefing 

The lakes of Northern Italy seem a distant dream now and you long for home as this war goes from bad to worse.

You are in Command of a group of mixed Guns supported by some infantry units. Morale in the foot soldiers remains very low and you know they could break at any point. The pride in the Artillery units gives you some confidence but this is going to be a long day.

The Commander sleeps soundly whilst his driver waits outside.
Your Mission is to do as much damage as you can to the advancing enemy whilst keeping your Commander safe.

1 x HQ 2 Figures with Staff Car 
4 x 10 man Infantry Squads each with 1 Sgt with SMG and 9 Rifles 
2 x 47mm Anti Tank Guns and crew
2 x 65mm Infantry Guns and crew
2 x 75mm Fields Gun and crew

Free set up, all units begin the game hidden.

Italian Anti Tank Gun
How did we get on

The Italians set up with some infantry in the forward house, the oasis and the long sand dune, the final squad was guarding the Commander, the first three to act as Art observers. The Artillery was set up by the Commanders house whilst the Anti Tank Guns were both on the long sand dune. The Infantry Guns were split, One near the Oasis and one in the far top left palm grove.

Italian Infantry spotting for the guns

In what was going to be the first of many mechanical issues for the British one of the A10s broke down on the turn of the first event card.

A couple of A9s quickly located one of the Italian Squads.

Some sustained MG fire from the two tanks persuaded the Infantry to surrender and it was round 1 to the British.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Brits as Italian Guns rained shells down on the advancing tanks.

Things got a little hairy for the prisoners (and the A9s) when some random Artillery rounds landed close by.

It wasn't long before the Italian Artillery hit home as a 75mm shell landed on the roof of one of the A10s.

One of the A9s located some Italian Infantry at the last minute hidden by the Oasis and was safe in the knowledge that they only had rifles.

What they didn't see was the Anti Tank Gun hidden in the dunes behind the Infantry.

The first line of the Italian positions were clear after the Infantry in the house surrendered and the remaining 6 British Tanks advanced towards their objectives.

The CS Tank remained near the base line, it's ranged capability allowed it to both support the attack with its 3 inch Howitzer and remain near the base line to escort the prisoners away.

The Brits approached the last Italian positions and we were in for an exciting conclusion.

The slower moving A10 Tanks ended up in a cross fire from the Anti Tank Guns on the dunes around the Commanders house, the Infantry Gun in the Palm Grove and the indirect Artillery. It didn't end well for the British who lost two tanks in quick succession (see first photo), One A10 was lost to an Artillery round which went off under it's right side track turning it over, the other from an Infantry Gun shell in its side (boy those Cruisers are thinly armoured)

It wasn't all Team Italy though and the remaining Anti Tank Guns were taken out by the British machine guns.

It was desperate stuff, the Italians only had one spotter left for two Artillery pieces and as a last ditch defensive move one of the 75mm guns exposed itself to the machine guns so it could fire over open sights. 

Just at that moment the above A9 set off to get a better shooting position at the gun, only it didn't move, years ground and engine smoked but it was completely broken.

The British had three tanks left now but the A10 CS was about 10 feet in table distance from the action and the other remaining A10 was bogged down near it's destroyed friends which just left 1 A9, the ever dependable "Arnold".

In a rather unfortunate twist of fate as the final A9 advanced towards it's final objective an Event Card draw came up, it was a breakdown, the British roll for how bad it was, a 6 was rolled, total mechanical break down and a very rare total victory for the Italian Forces.

So a 4 point victory for the Italians narrowing the scores for the campaign to a single game span, British 18 Italian 14.

Another extremely close game, both sides had chances to win. On table now is our traditional WW1 Mesopotamia game, expect some more Compass early in the new year.


  1. Also cool to see some WW1 desert action.

  2. Excellent report, looks brilliant too!

  3. An interesting battle. I would have called it a scrap, but given the way those British tanks broke down, it's about all they're fit for.

  4. Always good to see more desert war games. Looks like splendid fun!

  5. Looks like a cracking game, and Bravissimo to the Italian gunners. Shame for the tank crews, who deserve better mounts.

    1. Many thanks Doug, great effort from both sides 👍

  6. Wonderful game!
    Love seeing the Mediterranean Theater get some attention.

  7. Another phenomenal game! I am so jealous of your minis, your scenarios and your terrain!

    1. Many thanks, it's all about enjoying the game 👍