Category Archives: figure

Battle of the Hills, 21 January 1943

Seaforth Highlanders
Image via Wikipedia

This is a short article about the advance of the 51st Highland Division in Tunisia in the follow up from El Alamein. I wrote this to be played as a tabletop wargame using Command Decision.

The coast road between Homs & Corradini in Tunisia. On the right (from the perspective of the British advance) is the sea. The coast road lies a few miles inland at places. There is a steep coastal ridge on the left flank of the battle area with desert to the south. Within all this there are a large number of steep sided, but small, wadis running from the hills to the sea. There are also one or two significant hills that sit astride or on the road.

To quote Captain J.A.F. Watt (OC B Company 5th Seaforths). “At the Assembly Area we met the CO. We were to attack two sharp conical hills we could see faintly outlined against the sky two or three thousand yards away. One of them was farther away than the other and to the left as we looked at them.”

“From what we could make of the maps and what little we could see of the country, it seemed as though the road ran past the right of our objectives. This assumption proved to be wrong. The road in fact curved sharply to the left across the line of our advance, then right again between the hills.” On the right flank a deep wadi blocked the advance of A Company.

Elements of the German 90th Light Division are dug in forward of two conical hills on either side of the main road 3 miles short of Corradini. Broken ground & wadis lie to their front.

The previous evening 51st Highland Division had been delayed at another hill with a fort atop it (named Edinburgh Castle) on the road between Homs & Corradini. The initial attack failed but an outflanking movement caused the Germans to withdraw well before dark. The initial failure had earned the Divisional Commander a ‘rocket’ from Montgomery and therefore inspired him to issue orders to his subordinates to speed up the rate of advance.

The British are in two main groups. One group (154 Brigade) is marching on foot along the coast to outflank the enemy near Corradini. The second group (spearheaded by Hammerforce) is moving up the main road from Homs to Corradini.

Commanded by Brigadier Richards (23rd Armoured Brigade).
A Company, 2 Seaforths
A Company, 1/7 Middlesex (MG)
Tank Squadron, 40 RTR
2 Troops, 61 AT Regiment
25lber Battery

5 Seaforths with 40 RTR (Valentines) make assault from 3000 yards (60″). 1 bty 25-pdrs in direct support. The tanks have serious problems moving from the start line because of the terrain.

154 Brigade
Commander – Brigadier Stirling
7th Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
2nd Bn Seaforth Highlanders
7th Bn Black Watch
Tank Squadron, 40 RTR
25lber Battery, 126 Field Regiment RA

90th Light Division
A mixed battlegroup. No detailed information available, although the British histories report the following, which suggests depleted Regimental strength:

– Germans have MGs & mortars.
– 3 MGs dug in on one hill (Weapons Stand)
– counter attack by infantry & half-track (only 1 – so no model)
– retreat in captured British vehicles with several AT guns and a tank
– heavy 210mm guns
– many 88 mm AT guns (2 stands)
– 12 dual-purpose 20mm guns (3 stands)
– many mortars
– 260 prisoners & 10 guns captured

Chaos, Confusion, Cowardice & Incompetence (C3I) – Onside Report

One of the things you missed [at February’s CLWG meeting] was C3I which actually turned up and was played in the afternoon (because I always turn up at lunchtime and much prefer twice as many half-day meetings).

Although this was a figure game it was scenery light and what was used was pretty abstract and flat, despite the original scenario being set on a hill. C3I is really a morale-based system for infantry combat which is intended to show how everything goes for a ball of chalk once the shooting starts. The outcomes it produced appeared to be reasonably realistic based on the reading I’ve done on infantry actions.

My aim was to produce a very simple quick system that used morale as its key attribute and would give a realistic result for infantry actions. Most of the psychology of warfare stuff I’ve read (e.g. John KeeganFace of Battle) suggests that only a small proportion of those in a unit actually cause the battle to be progressed, these few motivate others to do their bit and generally perform well. These individuals are rarely the actual commanders of a force. The first-hand accounts I’ve read of battles in the Falklands back this theory up a little.

I was hoping that I could produce a mechanism that could be used for a number of actions and especially some of the larger company or battalion sized ones. This would mean something quick and easy to run. What I came up with fits onto one A4 sheet in 12 point with space for some of the rationale behind the system, although I need to add a couple of things to it which will probably bump the rationale off the page (and possibly add an umpire page as well).

A couple of the mechanisms need cleaned a bit. Artillery was too devastating (it ought to neutralise totally while being fired but not permanently, this should be easy to fix though). I also need to fix movement in order to make it a bit more consistent, either to speed up the non-tactical movement or to somehow slow down the tactical movement (although in part there is a mechanism that should do this, but the players didn’t try to maintain unit integrity).

Either way I am more or less happy with the system which, with minor modifications, could be used repeatedly. If anyone wants a copy of it I can supply them with a WordPerfect 6.1 document (or a hard-copy if they are coming to a meeting).

Enhanced by Zemanta