IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #11: Bardia 1

Another great battle report resurrected from the archives of the A Wargamer in Cyprus blog.

This time, the scenario is #11 from the Operation Compass scenario pack: the first of the three games focusing on the Australian attack on the Italian-held fortress of Bardia.

Click on the picture below to see all:

IABSM AAR: The Pimple

Here’s a few pictures from a recent game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum played by Dan Albrecht and his chums at the Vermont Gamers Group.

The scenario was #21: The Pimple from the Operation Compass scenario book (written by Yours Truly). Dan says:

“True to form the Italians took it on the chin. With Brits in hull-down position and Italians with only two Actions, no Big Men to remove Shock, after 10 turns most all M13/40s were knocked out or their main gun was damaged or immobilized. Still, good way to learn the rules, practice shifting artillery fire with FOs and besides…no American football on the TV this past Sunday!”

IABSM AAR: An Affair at Gazala

The regular TooFatLardies specials are a fantastic source of scenarios for all the TFL products, including that hardy perennial, I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!

With John coming round for a game, I needed a quick bit of inspiration (sometimes you need a change from playing your own scenarios all the time) so quickly flicked through Derek’s excellent index to the Specials’ content, available for free in the files section of the TFL Yahoo Group. It had been a long time since the Italians had graced the tabletop, so I decided to play the An Affair at Gazala scenario written by fellow Lardy Klaus-Dieter Fritsch from the Christmas 2017 special.

The scenario takes place in June 1942 during the Gazala battles, but is entirely fictitious apart from the general setting.

The British are occupying a position atop a ridge. On the ridge are three hills and a few ruined buildings. Each hill represents an Italian objective: their aim being to either take at least two of the objectives or force the Brits to retreat through breaking their Force Morale (a rule “borrowed” from Chain of Command).

The situation is complicated by the conditions. The whole table is considered rough terrain, with wheeled vehicles limited to the track running up the centre. Even tracked vehicles have a chance of bogging down if traversing the rough ground, and both sides had a Vehicle Breakdown card in their deck. On top of that, the remains of a khamsin sandstorm were still around: visibility was limited to 36”, all fire at Effective and Long range was reduced, and the dust kicked up by moving vehicles a factor as well. In other words, just another day up in the Blue!

A lot of Italians!

The Italians

John would play the Italians. His choice, I hasten to add!

At his disposal, he had a three-platoon company of infantry consisting of a total of fourteen truck-mounted infantry squads and three AT rifle teams. These were supported by two platoons of tanks, with each platoon consisting of three M14/41 tanks, one Semovente 75/18 assault gun, and one L6/40 light tank. The Italians also had no particular shortage of Big Men or radios.

The British (or rather Scots!)

The Scots Guards holding the hills consisted of a three-platoon company of top class, stubborn, aggressive infantry (I shall refrain from commenting any further - the mother-in-law is from the Granite City - but there was no way the Italians were having our hills!) with plenty of Big Men, light mortars and anti-tank rifles.

Supporting them was a single Vickers MMG and a single 2pdr anti-tank gun (I think I was supposed to have two of these, but settled for one gun with a Bonus Fire card) plus an attached tank platoon of two M3 Grants, two A15 Crusaders and an M3 Stuart “Honey”. We’ll dispense with this last: the Honey spent just about the entire game Bogged Down, never getting to fire a shot and barely even catching sight of the enemy!

I decided to keep my armour in reserve, positioning them on the track, out of sight just behind the ridge.

It’s quiet…too quiet!

The Game Begins

As the sun rose over the British position, Italian Blinds began snaking their way onto the battlefield along the narrow track. Despite their elevated position, the khamsin prevented the Scots from spotting anything until the Italian column had passed a rocky outcrop near the track.

The Italian Armour Leads the Way

The Italian Armour Leads the Way

The lead Blind proved to be a platoon of tanks, so I deployed my single anti-tank gun (in a sangar) and opened fire. I also summoned my armour up onto the ridge: if the Italian tanks headed for the infantry platoon holding the hill on the right of my line, I wanted to have more than one 2lb and a Boys AT Rifle to face them!

Preparing for the Advance of the Italian Armour

Preparing for the Advance of the Italian Armour

The combined fire of the Grants, Crusaders and anti-tank gun proved effective: with the crews of the two lead Italian M14/41 tanks quickly bailing out as a fusillade of shells knocked holes in their vehicles.

Unfortunately, the abandoned vehicles then provided a neat shield for the other three Italian tanks, who would spend the next portion of the game shelling the Scots infantry in front of them with, fortunately, little effect.

The two tanks at the back are bailed!

“Keep your heids down, lads!”

Stymied on that axis of attack, the Italians now switched their entire effort to their right flank, advancing two platoons of infantry, their HQ platoon, and their other platoon of armour towards the left of the Scottish position as fast as they could go.

With so many units going forward together, there was a bit of confusion as the advance began, but the Italians soon sorted themselves out and began to threaten the Scottish line.

The Italian infantry advance by rushes, protected by a screen of tanks and the Khamsin

Although fire from the Scottish infantry proved ineffective due to the effects of the khamsin, the British tanks again enjoyed an initial success: knocking out the three Italian AT Rifle teams and taking a few chunks out of the advancing infantry.

All was looking good: with the Italian Force Morale reduced down to [4] in exchange for only a few casualties. Then, suddenly, the British tanks lost their mojo. All their shots at the advancing Italian tanks missed or bounced off armour, and return fire caused the crews of both Grants to bail: running for home chased by the jeers of their Scottish comrades!

I looked at my Force Morale: the loss of the tanks and a Big Man had dropped me down to [5], enough that if the Italians, despite their precarious hold on their own morale, managed to knock out a couple more tanks or infantry squads, then I was Gone (with a capital G), the Scots being ordered to retreat.

Correction: it was a Grant and a Crusader that bailed, not the two Grants

All now depended on who managed to land the first decent blow. Incredibly (in my opinion) it was the Italians who took the initiative: their tanks storming forward to burst through the British line and threaten to shoot everything up from behind!

Two Italian tanks burst through the line. Note the Bogged Down Honey!

A close up of the same situation

Both of the Italian tanks now turned their fire onto the Crusader: one shooting it from the flank, one from behind.

Not good!

Much to my surprise, the Crusader survived this onslaught, its gunner returning fire, but with no effect, and the first of the Italian infantry was now getting ominously close to the Scottish sangars.

Things were desperate, but the crew of the Crusader kept their nerve, reversing up onto the hill to keep their front armour towards the Italian tanks. The gunner calmly targeted one of the Italian tanks…BOOM!

At this point, the Italian Force Morale hit [0] and I had won!


Well that was a bit close!

If the Italian tanks had managed to dispatch the Crusader that they had got the drop on (more than possible given the situation) they would have been in the perfect position to start taking out my infantry from behind, with their own infantry poised to attack simultaneously from the front. A narrow escape for the Scots: who had just not been able to do enough damage to the khamsin-covered Italian advance.

An amazing game that all came down to the last few minutes of the action. Thanks, Klaus-Dieter, for a great scenario.

Robert Avery

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #11: Bardia/One

Some great desert action from Tony Cane, as he and friends play the eleventh scenario from the Operation Compass scenario pack: Bardia/One.

The scenario covers one of the Australian assaults on the Italian-held town of Bardia as Compass turns from raid to army-beating campaign.

Click on the picture below to see what happens when you underestimate the opposition...

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #18: Siret el Chrieba

Tony Cane has been working his way through the Operation Compass scenario pack for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum. His last post featured the tank battle at Mechili, this one covers the Australian attack on the Italian aerodrome at Siret el Chrieba.

Here, the Australians are faced by a huge expanse of open ground (“flat as a table and devoid of cover” as the official history puts it) dotted with the occasional hanger or building. Their target is to take the hangar and buildings on the other side of the open ground.

Click on the picture below to see how they do...

Loving the aircraft hanger and the dust-covered Blinds!

Loving the aircraft hanger and the dust-covered Blinds!

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #03: The Invasion of Egypt

Although just being published now, this AAR covers my last game of 2017.

It's the Libyan/Egyptian border in September 1940, and the Italians have finally got their act together and invaded. A huge column snakes its way down the desert strip towards Egypt. In their way are the Coldstream Guards and their supports.

Find out how the Italians did by clicking on the picture, below.

IABSM AAR: The Assault on Gela, 10th July 1943

Had a great game of IABSM yesterday, using the first Gela scenario from the Sicilian Weekend scenario pack.

The game involves a composite force of US Rangers and combat engineers carrying out an opposed landing against a company of troops from the Italian Coastal Defence Battalion.

Click on the picture below to see whether the Italian commander got to finish his breakfast...

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #05: Tummar West

Another quick battle report from our friends at the Stipsicz Hussars.

They are currently playing through the Operation Compass scenario pack, and have hit scenario #05: Tummar West.

The "three day raid" is now fully underway. Next on the British list is the Italian camp at Tummar West. Click on the pic below to see how they do.

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #04: Nibeiwa

A quick battle report from the Stipsicz Hussars, whose excellent blog can be reached by clicking here.

The Hussars return to the sands of the Western Desert to play out the fourth scenario of the Operation Compass scenario pack: the British/Indian attack on the camp of Nibeiwa.

Click on the picture below to see all:

Those of you who read the report will note that the Hussars comment that all the scenarios in the Compass pack so far seem very biased towards the British.

Well, that's because they are designed that way for two reasons: firstly, they are historically accurate; and secondly, the idea is to give the British players the sense of superiority (and the Italian players the sense of inferiority) that were such characteristics of the campaign as a whole. It gets more difficult for the British as the pack goes on!

IABSM AAR: Avanti Spumanti!

Great battle report from Dr. the Viking of a game set in the Western Desert: defending Brits versus attacking Italians.

This report appeared both on Dr. the V's blog, which you can visit by clicking here; and on the Lead Adventure Forum, another good source of wargaming chat.

Click on the picture below to see the report in full:

IABSM AAR: The Road to Fort Capuzzo

The Stipsicz Hussars play another of the scenarios from the Operation Compass scenaripo pack for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum!

This time they play the first scenario in the pack: the Road to Fort Capuzzo, featuring a British attack on a position manned by Italian/Libyan colonial troops. Click on the pic to see all:

IABSM AAR: The Road From Fort Capuzzo

As those who follow this blog will know, I have recently painted a squadron of plastic British A13 cruiser tanks from Zvezda in desert colours. I was naturally keen to get them onto the tabletop, so invited my regular opponent, Neil, round for a battle.

I'd determined to use one of the two 'all tank' scenarios from the Operation Compass scenario pack (written by me and available to purchase from all good retailers: well, here and the TFL main site!) so carefully printed off the pages we'd need for Scenario 10: The Road From Fort Capuzzo.

It wasn't until I'd laid out the terrain and turned to getting the figures out that I realised that Scenario 10 doesn't feature any A13s: just A9s and A10s!

No bother: the newly painted tanks will have to wait their turn as my BEF tanks demonstrate what they can do re-tasked to the desert.

So click here or on the picture below to see what happens when Rae Leakey and his tank squadron drive towards the road from Fort Capuzzo in December 1940: an interesting game that takes place up in the blue in the dead of the night...

Rae Leaky up in the blue in the dead of the night

Rae Leaky up in the blue in the dead of the night