The next step in our desert campaign is the Axis attempt to break through the defences surrounding Tobruk, the Battle of Ras el Madauur, which took place on 13th April 1941. Dave's Aussies are heavily dug in on a trench line (represented here by a line of sandbags), in front of which were minefields, an anti-tank ditch and barbed wire.
|The field of battle|
Here are Dave's brave Aussies busily preparing a very warm welcome for Rommel's finest.
After a quick 'command conference', Mike and I decided to throw everything in to an all out assault on the Allied lines. The battle starts before dawn so the Night Fighting rules apply and we roll each turn to see if the sun has risen.
|The Panzers go straight for the centre!|
The view along the Axis lines!
Now, silly Warlord don't seem to have actually specified the rules for anti tank ditches (if they have then please do let us know!) so as soon as the Panzers broke through the wire we had to think up suitable rules ... being relaxed gamers this was easy ... Advance move only, roll a D6, 1-3 stuck, 4-6 move onwards, three consecutive 'stuck' results and the tank is immobilised ... and on we played!
The Panzer III's were making hard work of the ditch but Dave's men couldn't make their spotting rolls and when they did their aim was terrible.
A couple of pics of the forces arrayed against Dave's Aussies.
|The Pz II & III's were finding the AT ditch a real obstacle|
The first couple of turns were pretty quiet in terms of shooting as it was pitch dark and thus spotting rolls were very difficult to achieve.
|The Aussies can hear the Panzers... but it's still too dark|
As the Panzers neared the Allied line Dave blasted away but again his shooting rolls were dreadful. Even worse, one of the 25lber crews with just one pin marker, FUBAR'ed and ran away!
|Aussie 25lber crew FUBAR and leg it!|
Mike took this pic (thanks!) and you can see that his brave chaps are pushing forward with all speed.
Mike's Panzerjaeger I (upper mid-centre) is a fantastic little model.
|Mike's lads waste no time getting in to the action!|
The Panzers push on through the defences.
One of the Panzer III's has spent three turns trying and failing to cross the ditch so with it's engine overheating it becomes firmly wedged.
|This Pz III is trapped in the AT ditch|
But on the left flank a brave squad of Schutzen have pushed their 251 forward, de-bussed and taken the fight to an Aussie Vickers team.
Back in the centre the Panzer II has cleared the ditch to support the Panzer III's. A combination of all their MMG's shreds the remaining Allied howitzer crew. Dave's centre was looking decidedly vulnerable.
|Good spotting rolls and shooting from the Pz's kill the other 25lber crew|
It was at this point that Dave's artillery support finally arrived ... right amongst our Panzers. Mike and I held our breath as Dave rolled but none took a direct hit. However, he did put a hefty 3 pins on each of the Panzer III's. Clearly this would hold up the advance whilst the battered crews recovered their senses.
But wait! What's this? Dave finally makes a couple of good rolls for his reserves and on rumbles a Matilda and an A10. Watch out Jerry!
The Panzer II has moved forward to bring it's guns to bear on the HQ unit holding the
leftmost bunker... But uh-oh ... those Allied tanks were not a welcome sight.
This results in the Panzer II taking a real beating from the Allied armour, but it's not quite knocked out.
Immobilised, turret jammed and three pins - my command vehicle is in a bad way. But his big brother the Panzer III is coming to the rescue! Then the other Panzer III moves up to engage the Allies.
They trade shots in the final turn. Shells ricochet off armour plate and still no tanks are knocked out.
Mike's chaps take the Allied trench line on their left flank.
Phew! What a game... it "officially" ended on turn 6 with the result being a draw (slightly in favour of Jerry) but we played turn 7 anyway and the Allied lines were shattered.
Some other key points:
- The German 81mm Mortar twice dropped shells right into the Bren Carrier but both shells failed to detonate.
- Several Panzer shells hit but rolled a '1' for penetration ... this led to some muttering about the folly of using PoW's to make ammunition back in the Fatherland.
- Ten AFV's fought in this battle but none were destroyed, indeed there were only two penetrating hits in the entire game.
- The Night Fighting rules lasted for the first five turns!
- Minefields didn't play a big role despite having six on the table.
- We played the bunkers rule completely wrong.
- Dave's rolls for bringing on reserves were extraordinary. His AT shooting wasn't much better either.
- The Allied forward artillery support brought the German tank assault to a halt in turn four with all of the tanks picking up three pins.
- Germans breached the trench line on both flanks but the brave Aussies just wouldn't give in.
- I forgot to bring my newly re-purposed barbed wire.
Another thrilling instalment in our North Africa campaign. My thanks to Dave for being such a sporting opponent and my thanks to Mike for being a stalwart ally and a most excellent host.
The next chapter in the campaign is the opening move of Operation Battleaxe, the battle of Halfaya Pass, known afterwards as Hellfire Pass, 15th June 1941. It will be the British forces turn to attack the German guns holding the pass.