Major Mick Dundee at Bardia, 1941 game 1

I`m part way through Robert Avery's Operation Compass scenario/campaign book, using the great "I Ain't Been Shot Mum" rules from Toofatlardies. The next three games cover the assault on Bardia, a coastal fortress held by the Italians. In the first game the 6th Australian Division attack a fortified position held by Italian Infantry and Artillery.

The battle is covered in Barrie Pitt's Crucible of War, as well as the Official Australian online history. Both make great reading. I made my Big men fictional characters: this was a battle with heroism and tragedy on both sides.

The paper wargames journal on the table in this photograph is as a result of my returning to bad habits! I`ve kept one of these on the go for years and I`m meant to be blogging this sort of thing. Now I`m back in Cyprus I`ll see how I get on, but I used the paper journal to plan these three games.

To create the Italian strongpoint I used light sand coloured felt to represent the trenches. This is the lighter coloured sand dug out and piled around the trenches. The anti-tank ditch is a darker brown colour to represent its depth, as are the dugouts. The main wire at the front of the emplacement was made using strips of cloth from an old ragged tea towel, and the wire perimeter of the outpost itself made from much thinner strips of a stone coloured felt, twisted and looped.

It works for me!

Major Mick Dundee of 22 Aus Inf Brigade has only a single platoon of Infantry, plus three Matilda II tanks. The good news is that he has outflanked the fortified position and is attacking the weaker Italian flank. The tanks went onto the table, being spotted almost immediately. The following Infantry remained on their blinds a little longer.

Tenente Alphonso Pachino of the 62nd Italian Infantry division, has two full platoons plus a reserve, as well as MMG and dug in artillery. His men are in trenches, and he has placed himself, with his reserve, in the rear dugout. Most of his forces were spotted automatically since the tanks were almost on top of his trench line. The tanks were also enfilading the trench line. After a "Hussar!" of a dice roll the machine guns from the tanks minced the Italian Infantry.

Major Dundee then lead his own Infantry forward, Australians, elite in close combat. The day was about to get a lot worse for Tenente Pachino.

With the Italians losing section after section of Infantry to the bayonets of the Aussies the Tenente lead out his reserve in a bid to stem the rout that seemed imminent.

I really like the Italian Officer figure in his pith helmet firing his Beretta pistol. This is a Minifigs 12mm figure, but it fits perfectly with my Pendraken 10mm. Style over substance... that`s my WW2 Italians all over!

The picture shows the Tenente leading out his reserve sections.He inspired his gunners to immobilise a Matilda, but its a tank that is quite rightly hard to kill.

Even so the immobilised tank still used its machine guns to spray the reserve as they charged to the rescue.

Pretty soon the Aussies came to grips with the Italian reserve, killing two and inflicting four more shock. The Tenente failed his survival roll and his men promptly ran away.

The fighting around the central Italian gun pits grew nasty as the Aussies closed in, although the Italians managed to kill one man and inflict two Shock. Not really enough since they lost four men and received four Shock points too.

At that point I called it job done. Mick Dundee had proved that he had a bigger knife than the Italians, although to be fair it was the Matilda Tanks of 7RTR that really won this. They focused on the Infantry, and especially on killing that Italian MMG, largely ignoring the danger of the Italian artillery. A risky strategy but it paid off.

Really nice to get back to IABSM. I`m looking forward to the next couple of games. Let's see how Capitane DeNiro does against Mick and his Aussies!

A Wargamer in Cyprus