Thursday, 14 March 2013

Gazala - part the third

Another Wednesday, another day in the Western Desert. After the previous two games we reassembled to see the thing through to a conclusion.

We didn’t actually get to a complete finish. However, after about 9 hours of game play and an awful lot of toys on the table we felt we’d had good value from the experience.

The evening’s entertainment divided into three main events with a codicil. Let us start in the south at Bir Hachiem, where the Italian Ariete Division had been hammering at the door for what seemed like forever. The main problem for them was that although they had a slight advantage in the weight of armament (they had a few medium units in amongst the light) they barely had parity of numbers on the section they were engaging and the Free French were well entrenched and counted as a heavy target. Some relief was provided to them by the arrival of the Littoral (Motorised Infantry) Division who threw themselves into the action with little concern for their own well being.

The Italians mass prior to the big assault

The addition of lots of infantry added to the number of dice being rolled, but again they were mainly light. The sheer volume of men involved enabled me to force a way into the position, and the size of the attacking force enabled a sharing of hits that kept the operation in action.  I was helped here as well by some demon dice rolling.

Italians inside the defenses. A short stay
Having forced my way into the position my luck started to turn. I had one round of successful combat and enlarged my toe hold, but the following turn the French counter attacked and reversed all my successes pushing me back into the minefield. At the end of the game I was still banging my head against the position, hoping for them to surrender or retreat as supplies ran out.

Just north of the French 150 Brigade were being pressed on two sides by Trieste (who had been there since nearly the beginning of the game) and the newly arrived 15 Panzer, led by the Desert Fox himself. This joint approach finally worked, with the Germans breaking into the position in fine style. This split the defenders and gave the Italians the chance to get a decisive numerical advantage and storm across the minefield.

Italian armour forces the minefield. Not many survived

Once I was in the defences from two sides it was pretty much all over for the defenders and they capitulated. They are being removed, top left of the picture

150 Brigade's box is overrun. Note paper unit markers as we were losing track!

This opened up supply line across the middle of the board and gave much needed relief to the Axis forces.

In the middle 21 Panzer were very much in the Cauldron, assailed on all sides and running low on fuel and ammunition.
Phil surveys the cauldron
They put up a spirited defence, aided again by some impressive die rolling. They were being attacked from three points and split their forces to combat all of them. I was able to beat off two of the attacks, mainly by luck, but the third one got a slight advantage over me and I was forced to withdraw from the position and fall back upon my supply lines and meet up with 15 Panzer.

21 Panzer retires towards the victorious 15 Panzer position

Protected by the Allied minefields and wire Trieste, 15 & 21 Panzer reorganised and readied themselves for a further push on towards Tobruk.

The fearsome site of Panzers all lined up and ready to go

Meanwhile 170 reconnaissance brigade were circling round the Allies to add a little more power to the counterpunch.

170 skip past the British armour in a nimble fashion

And there we left it, hanging in the balance, with some more dice rolling slug fests ahead of us.

This was a very ambitious game using a lot of space and a lot of equipment to simulate the swirling environment of Western desert warfare. On the whole it went very well and Chris pronounced himself pleased with the game and the outcome. I think we were close to history, but the British did better than their historical antecedents. Rommel’s men are quite badly roughed up and running out of armour and there are quite a few more Allied units to join the game. And we seemed to be no closer to finding the elusive British supply dumps.

NQM performed pretty well, although we really need Chris to keep the wheels moving. He adjusts the rules as we go along to keep the game on track and to take account of those situations that only come up once in a blue moon. I would guess that Chris will want to return with another epic in due course, and he will be welcome in Shedquarters.

Next week, Phil’s DBA Bosworth game in 54mm. Not much of a contrast there, then.


  1. Looks terrific and well thought out. A gratifying amount of kit on the table makes for some exciting photos.

    1. It does look impressive. The wheel to wheel kit is a bit odd at first, but when you relaise the scale, - three tanks is a Division - and ranges are units mostly being next to each other - it all makes sense.

  2. Thanks for the excellent write-up Graham. By 170 Recce Bde, did you mean 90th Light Division? Don't worry, I was winging it even more than usual to keep the narrative flowing and lost track of who was who a couple of times :O)

    To find out what really happened, see the official umpire write-up over on NQM tomorrow

    Regards, Chris

    1. Definately 170th, according to the bloke pretending to be knowledgable last night.