With the result being announced on 9 Aug 20 and the end being near for Firestorm Gazala we bring you a few further reports. Again thanks to everyone for sending them in. I wish I had time to put them all up, alas I am but 1 man!
Battle 2 B7 into A7 – Evans Simms
Mission: No Retreat
Deployment – German advance elements approach Tobruk and deploy on near side river bank. After observing the British infantry in their foxholes behind minefields, the Germans move their armored cars to the road way while the infantry and panzers head for a pontoon bridge the British hadn’t taken down yet. AA guns could be seen further in the town and British artillery already had preplanned targets on the German positions.
German forces advance on the entrenched British. The lighter armored cars dash down the road into town. They position themselves to start suppressing the British infantry. The 231s cross the river and also take up suppressive fire positions while the panzers and infantry approach the river bank. German MGs, 2cm auto cannons, and PzIII main guns blast away at the entrenched infantry. Hits are few as the German rounds try to find targets only to chase the British deeper into their foxholes. The British respond to the German attack by revealing an ambush behind the entrenched infantry. 25pdr direct fire ripped into the first group of armored cars destroying several vehicles. A group of SAS commandos returned from their raid on the forward German airfield preventing a German Stuka flight from joining the battle
Germans continue to press the attack. Using the wreckage from the first group of armored cars, the second group pulled up behind them while the others swung into the city to keep up the fire on the entrenched infantry. The PzIIIs moved across the river, followed closely by their own infantry. The Germans were now encircling the British and pushing for a quick victory through multiple assaults. Stukas, finally able to depart the damaged airfield, screamed in on the 25 pdr ambush positions only to be met with Bofors fire. The first Stuka was able to veer away but the second took a direct hit to the engine. The plane burst into flames as it headed to the ground but the pilot was able to aim his crippled aircraft at the 25pdrs, crashing into, and destroying one of the guns. Attempting to take advantage of this, the Germans assaulted. Infantry rifles bounced harmlessly off the heavy armored cars but the 25pdrs with their guns already leveled opened fire. A 231 blew up in a spectacular fireball and its partner closed the distance and killed a group of Brits in their foxhole with 2cm fire. The British infantry counter attacked and pushed the car back with improvised explosives only to assaulted by the advancing German infantry. Their resolve held as their rifles and MGs proved more dangerous to unarmored infantry and the assault was broken. Undeterred, the Germans tried again with a second group of cars losing another to 25pdr fire for the gain of another British infantry squad.
The Germans were becoming desperate for a quick victory before more British reinforcements could arrive. A Grant armored troop and 6pdrs had already arrived. Even the enemy Honey Observer had pushed up and knocked out a Diana that had been trying to intercept the British armor. The other two only managed to bail one Grant. Lorraines ranged in on the British HQ that had been spotting for artillery, driving them from their rooftop and knocking out a Bofors. The Germans attempted to assault again, this time with a second group of 231s and the lighter 221/222s but the 25pdrs kept up ther fire and destroyed the German vehicles for the loss of a few more foxholes. The British were determined to hold onto the objective to the bloody end. The second battery of 25pdr laid smoke down to shield the remaining infantry from more fire while the Universal carriers opened up and cut down the remaining German infantry.
The Germans had no choice but to keep trying. Burning wreckage on their vehicles only added to the blazing sun and they rallied the last of their car and their PzIIIs to attack. Artillery ranged in on the 25pdrs and destroyed two guns, pinning the unit. The PzIIIs rumbled forward to assault the infantry and the fighting was brutal. The infantry could not get through the tanks armor while the tanks crushed fortifications and foxholes under their treads. The British were down to their last stand before the tanks were finally driven off. During their break off one of them hit a mine and the crew was bailed. By this time, the Grants had destroyed the last Dianas and were now in defensive fire range for the beleaguered Infantry and gun teams who stubbornly refused to give up. The remaining Germans laid down what suppressive fire they could, killing the HQ that moved up to assist. The capture 6pdrs tried to knock out or even bail the Grants that had rolled forward but their shells either missed or bounced off. The last few German vehicles tried to assault but the defensive fire proved too much and the last tanks and cars erupted into flames. The German formation was broken as the British surveyed the field of battle.
Round 3 Battle 4 of Gazala Firestorm: Battle of Bir el Gubi – Jacob Markson
Nine players gather together for a mega-battle as part of the Gazala Firestorm campaign. The scenario was to represent a British counterattack against German and Italian forces in the battle of Bir el Gubi (A4 into B3). 425 pointer per side with a roughly historical force, met and battled it out over control of a major supply road. Using total war rules, we set out 9 objectives across a 16’X6’ table. These objectives were spread out across both sides of the board as well as close to the center line. As the attacker, Allied players were allowed to place spearhead units into immediate flanking reserves. Axis players were allowed to spearhead out of their deployment. The Axis forces were “out of supply” per campaign rules and rolled to see what issue they had. Masks were worn due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Axis forces had run desperately low on fuel and ammunition. They were waiting for resupply from the South. With relief Italian and German forces breaching the landmine belts that lie further South, it would not too long. The British forces in the area took this lapse in supply to launch a counterattack on the Axis forces holding the supply road. If the British could sever the road, they would delay the badly needed supplies and thus reduce the operational power the Axis.
The Allies launched a three-pronged attack with infantry leading the way on the outer flanks and with Matilda and Valentine tanks taking the center. Axis forces would counter with Panzer III tanks on the Northern flank and Italian armor on the Southern flank. Axis forces would use Marders and infantry to form an anvil in the center. The RAF flew flight after flight of hurricanes to knock out numerous tanks. For the Axis, almost every dive bomber assigned to the area was shot down or put out of action by British AA.
In the end, Allied forces managed to cut the northern route and were on their way to secure the crossroads in the center. The Axis forces in the center were desperately out of ammunition with some artillery batteries only having enough shells for one barrage. The southern pass was a massive pile of Italian and British tanks burning. Only a few crusaders remained, duking it out with the Italians who were running on fumes. The sheer number of Italian armor kept the British infantry from advancing too far. Even without enough fuel to maneuver, they still had plenty of machine gun ammunition.
North Center South
In the opening engagement artillery would be fired from both sides and aircraft would strafe tanks. On the northern flank and center flank both sides would begin a steady advance. Artillery and Marders would knock out and disable some British tanks with no casualties to the German forces. Due to a shortage of shells one of the German batteries ran out of ammunition on the first barrage! On the southern flank Crusader tanks began to jokey for firing positions while the Italians found out they did not have enough fuel!
The British advance in the center begins to stall out under the weight of anti-tank guns and Marders. RAF manages to knock out a couple of Marders on the North end and failed to have much success in the other areas. The Italians make several short aggressive moves. This only drains their limited fuel (noted by bogged down markers). This is the beginning of an aggressive but short duel between 25 PDRs and a platoon of pop cans the Italians call tanks.
On the Northern flank both sides aggressive maneuvers come to a halt. As rounds of every caliber are exchanged it is only a matter of time before the scales tip in one side favor or the other. Several dive bombers have been shot down by now and the Axis air power is thinning out, though this did not stop a coordinated strike on a group of crusaders. The Crusaders had taken a position in a patch of brush, though it provided cover from the Italian armor, it did nothing to stop bombs raining down on them. RAF sorties continue to chip away at the Axis tanks. On the southern flank things were getting intense. British reconnaissance forces showed up in mass with the plan of cutting the road. They were to put pressure on the enemy while infantry and tanks advanced to crush them. The valiant Axis tank crews would hold the line. Using what little fuel the tankers had to avoid the main gun of the Daimlers (7 or 8 shots, all missed!).
The stalemate in the northern sector is broken as the German tanks make an advance, being careful to conserve fuel while opening up the road for the soon to arrive supply convoys. The 25 PDR batteries over watching the southern area switch to anti-tank duties and knock out any tank foolish enough to show themselves. The assault by the reconnaissance company holds on for longer than expected as Italian rounds bounce off of the armored cars (each car probably passed five or more saves!). Even two flights of Stukkas could not knock out the cars!
The northern advance by the German tanks is soon blunted by the RAF, armored cars, and infantry support tanks. A few assaults by the German tankers were met with the full force of the British bulldog. In the southern area the remaining Italian tanks that are still mobile continue to find their end at the hands of the 25 PDR crews. Now with the ranks thinned out the British Crusaders begin to advance. The last of the armored cars from the flanking maneuver are unable to achieve the objective.
The remaining British infantry in the northern sector launch a daring counterattack to secure lost ground in hopes of using this momentum to roll over the Germans. The center is now heating up with German mechanized infantry making a solid attack to disrupt the British lines. 25 PDR batteries begin to skillfully hit targets and disable vehicles to keep the Germans from completely controlling the middle. On the southern flank British tanks begin to creep up and knock out the immobile Italian tanks one by one.
The British are now in full swing to secure the northern flank. Having secured their lost ground, they begin to advance cleaning up resistance with ease. The Italians have drawn on the last of there reserve tanks and make one last final push into the southern British lines.
Like a stirred-up hornets’ nest the British advance in a what is the beginning of a final push to cut the road. The heavier assets on the northern front have been swept aside while the Italians remain a thorn in the British’s side. The center is now in control by the Germans, with all available British assets needed for the assault, only artillery keeps the German mechanized from gaining any more ground. By now only a single German dive bomber remains, Bofors AA has almost cleared the skies!
Turn 9 and 10:
The British now control and cut the northern sector of the road. The crossroads will fall at any minute to British armor and the German infantry in the North are running low on bullets and anti-tank assets. In the South, the British are soon to be out of any armored support and now rely on bayonets and sticky bombs. The last of the mobile Italians make a final stand if they fall, the British will have completely cut the supply route. British infantry and now waiting for the next sortie of hurricanes to clear a path.
In the end we decided to call it a “3-3 draw”. It was getting late and the Axis forces were running out of assets. The Axis had more points at this time, though in two turns the Allied forces would have the lead. Without any AA on the Axis side it was only a matter of time before the Hurricanes knocked out the scattered Italian tanks. This was a super fun event and we all had a good time. We are already talking about our next big game! It was funny that we agree that the low fuel saved most of the Italians. Any of the mobile ones that tried to assault British were knocked out by two batteries of 25 PDR. The ones that ran out of fuel were key to holding off the numerous armored cars that came on their flank. Looking at it, the Allied should have sent the armored cars to the other side or raced across the back of the board in true LRDG fashion.