My Brave Italians consisted of my commander, 3 Carri platoons, each of 5 tanks, 1 with improvised armour, a 2 group Bersaglieri platoon, a 3 gun Semovente platoon and 1 4 gun 75mm battery. This should give me plenty of Anti-tank to oppose the armour, a bit of manoeuvrability and the artillery s good direct and gives me the option to fire bombardments if I need to. Quite suitably the first mission was a 'Big Push' as the British tried to breach the Italian defences on the border. After working out all the defences I set up in two defensive boxes around the objectives, one with the infantry and Semoventes, the other with the artillery, and a bunker to the front of both, protected with layers of wire and mines.
Luke decided to concentrate his attack on his right, my left, against the artillery emplacement by advancing the Grants with the infantry in support, while the Crusaders protected their flank and the armoured cars ranged ahead of them. On the other flank the Shermans deployed ready to bombard the other box and attempt to destroy the Semoventes. After a massive preliminary bombardment by the RA the Italians had abandoned their vehicles and where pinned down, but had taken very light casualties.
The British advance began in earnest, but the Italians quickly reacted with devastating fire fro the Self propelled 75s, engaging and destroying the Shermans, forcing the crew of the remaining Sherman to abandon their post. On the other flank the armoured cars ruthlessly exploited a small gap in the defences and raced forward while the Grants tore up the wire to enable the supporting infantry to advance. Despite the artillery repeatedly pinning down the British motor infantry, they kept climbing back to their feet and advancing, right up to the minefield which they then cleared enabling the Grants to advance again, to catch up with the armoured cars and crusaders who had skirted the field.
In the centre heavy fire from the crusader two pounders pinned down the bunker while some of the British infantry flanked it, and then assaulted it and put it out of action. Meanwhile the heavy 75mm HE fire from the Grants was beginning to cause casualties among the Italian artillery and by the end of the game there was a single gun left operational. By now the Italian armour had begun to arrive and a fierce tank battle broke out around the objective, with the Semoventes and Bersaglieri anti tank guns joining in when any British armour strayed in range.
A highly accurate volley from the Grants destroyed an entire M14/41 platoon and things looked shaky for the Italians. The British had breached their lines and they were hanging on to the objective by the stubborn valour of the crew of a single 75/27 gun. But things were not so great for the British either. The defences had pushed them into the covering fire from the other box and a crusader platoon had been destroyed, and the Armoured cars and the other crusader platoon looked close to breaking. More fire from the embattled Italian tank crews caused the armoured cars to finally break, and when the crusader platoon broke as well, sweeping the C-in-C with them as he tried to hold their in the fight it was all over for the British. They had broken the lines but the cost had been two high.
Now with a Major victory for the Italians (despite their casualties they had only actually lost two Carri platoons in their entirety), the initiative has swung back to the axis and they will be the attackers in our next game.