Friday, 23 December 2011

Club Night 23rd December

As it was almost Christmas and finish work early day so I headed up early with Steve K to meet Luke and play some early war desert games as it has been a while. Also the club has juts bought the desert fort and we were keen to try it out.

Our first game had me take a Compagnia Mitraglieri of two platoons, with a fort, an AT platoon, and a cannon battery with a Meharisti platoon and Autosahariana platoon in support, fighting a withdrawal against a British rifle company.

This first game did not go well. Attacking under darkness I could not see the British until they assaulted the fort and pushed me back and almost out twice, while on the other flank they took the objective without me even seeing they were there! My poor deployment had exacerbated some poor dice rolls and lead to my quick defeat, still at least it was early and there was time for more games.

The second game saw my force unchanged, while the British gave up their artillery and took a pair of Matildas. This was going to be an issue as I had a slim chance of bailing them out if they exposed a flank to my 75s, otherwise I could not hurt them. Playing a hold the line scenario I decided to use my fort to make an issue of the game by deploying it quite far forward in to no-mans land and forcing them to pass close to it to get to the objectives.

Despite the sneaky Brits again trying to creep forward under nightfall, there must have been more moonlight as I clearly saw them and demonstrated the power of massed machine guns, even in the hands of the poorly trained Libyans as my opening volley reduced one platoon to two stands which ran away and damaged the other, which subsequently tried to assault the fort but was eventually defeated too.

To the left of the fort the armour moved forward with impunity with infantry support to encounter an ambush Mitraglieri platoon which forced the infantry to stop and dig in for survival, but made no difference to the tanks which continued there relentless advance. Again and again they assaulted the infantry driving them back so they became intermixed with the anti-tank guns and the Meharist, but although I was able to deny them the objective I could not stop their attack.

However on the other flank the Autosahariana rushed forward, speeding up as dawn broke and swept into the British rear decimating their support unit and breaking the enemy before the tanks could drive off the massed infantry trying valiantly to hold the objective on the other side.

One game all and time for a final game. A total change this time as Steve and Luke took an Australian Divisional Cavalry squadron while I took a Positione Fucilerito try something different. And as we found ourselves playing an encounter battle this could be tough for me, as although me defences might make it easy to deny the enemy victory, pushing forward to take an objective for the win could prove tricky.

After a couple of false starts I think I deployed my fortifications legally with one platoon covering each side of the table and a cannon battery covering one objective on one flank and the howitzers on the other flank. And it began to go wrong immediately. The howitzers were pinned by the enemy artillery and for the rest of the game repeatedly failed to unpin and also eventually lost three guns to the fire as well. But worse was to occur on the other flank. The armoured cars had recce'd forward and then dashed in and assaulted the cannon battery. With 8 shots against lightly armed vehicles I felt confident and then missed with 7 shots, lost the assault and fell back being wiped out in the process.

I now needed to do something decisive. My 47mm gun nest covering the objective destroyed the pesky armoured cars, but my force had still taken a big hit. And armoured forces still streamed forward on that flank to try and take the objective. Fortunately my trusty L3's turned up on that flank and the Solthum armed tank proceeded to knock out a vehicle a turn until overwhelmed by the sheer amount of fire. By now I had also managed to get a mortar platoon deployed in the trenches abandoned by the cannon battery but they got pinned down and remained so for the rest of the game, but somehow managed to survive when numerous vehicle trying to get at them got stuck trying to pass over the gun-pits also vacated by the cannon battery.

On the other flank my 3 tankettes had arrived and proceeded to bombard the Australian Vickers machine guns and to my surprise caused heavy casualties. Behind them the demolisher platoon crept forward taking lighter causalities than expected from the surviving enemy machine guns. Eventually however the tanks strayed within range if the 25 pounder and met their inevitable end, but by now the engineers had got close enough to assault and wipe out the machine guns.

They were not quite close enough to the objective though and had to move forward and brave a turn of enemy fire. Everything engaged them, Bofors guns, infantry, 25 pounders, even the 2-in-C in his MkIV tried to dash across but ended up out of range. It was now time for dice to turn in my favour. Despite the mass of fire I lost my last rifle base, and even the platoon command was hit, but decided he was an unknown hero, so remained, and improved the chances of the platoon hanging in there, which they did.

All that was left was for him to pass his last man check at the start of my turn and victory was mine! I nervously rolled the dice, but the fickle gods of luck where back with me and I managed to make it 2-1 to the Italians. A great afternoon of dashing about in the blue (or in the case of my Italians, finding a big fort or trench and hiding in it!).

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