Category Archives: 8th Army – British and Commonwealth

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 28

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento's Position

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento’s Position

Some of the WHELKS convened in the Den on Tuesday to bed in some new ALAMEIN house rules for NQM Squared (NQM² or NQMsq). Present were YesthatPhil, Will (Hero of Kursk), and Richard. With each player controlling a division apiece, we were hitting slightly less than 30mins, but more than my planned 20 minutes per move, across the evening from 8 until 1030, when weekday night fatigue took its toll. Port, cheese and olives restored flagging energy.

The game was hectic, with 2nd New Zealand Division breaking into Trento‘s position and evicting them before the regimental HQ put in a spirited counterattack to restore the position. 9th Armoured Brigade then cleared the position again until Littorio counterattacked, leaving the position littered with burning allied and Italian tanks alike.

Littorio Counterattacks

Littorio Counterattacks

Phil managed to take some photos. I only managed some after-action shots. The low-vis pins look much less obtrusive. Taking them off works better than trying to add them.

The elephant in the room though, is scale: Three players managed three divisions, so six will only be able to manage six divisions or so. That means modelling the south, as the action was a little more open and fluid, and Trebian and Phil have already committed to  modelling divisions each. The north was more of a head-on slugging match, so is a little less interesting. Otherwise all the house-rule time and space management parameters seem to work.

Trento and Littorio's Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

Trento and Littorio’s Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

NQM Squared Supplement

For ALAMEIN² a unit may expend 2-5 action points (AP)s per turn according to status:

Elite or Veteran, 5. Regular, 4. Conscript, 3. Green 2.

Each stand may shoot once per turn expending no APs. Only indirect artillery is subject to ammunition rules for barrages.

An AP may be moving 1 square (2 squares for Recce, LOG, or Divisional/Corps/Army Commanders) or attacking (close assaulting) once.

The following are the maximum moves permitted to:

Infantry in contact, 1. Infantry out of contact, 2.

Armour in contact, 2. Armour out of contact, 4.

Recce, LOG, and commanders, 6, stopped by coming into contact, but use remainder to “shoot and scoot”.

Example: veteran LOG has 5 actions of which 3 may be double moves totalling 6 squares. Green log has 2 double moves totalling 4 squares.

Defending or attacking units may choose to break off close combat at any stage, subject to having a remaining AP or more to move back one or more squares. They may be pursued and attacked subject to the attacker having enough remaining APs to do so (one to move to remain in combat and one more to continue the attack). Usually the attacker runs out of APs first and the defender escapes.

Reorgnisation takes a whole move out of contact with the enemy. Units receiving fire cannot reorganise.

Supporting units may counterattack into their own squares, or ones that they have just lost, without first winning the firefight.

A maximum of 4 bases can pass through a single minefield gap in a move, subject to their own maximum move. As an example, suppose that a brigade attacking with two battalions up engages in a firefight with a defending battalion, and wins it (does not count as an action). One battalion passes through the gap and close assaults, winning the assault (first action). On the second close assault, another battalion passes through the gap to work round the enemy position (second action), this one is drawn (if the assault had been lost, the attacking battalion would have been pushed back, and the second battalion would continue the assault on the third action). The attack continues (third action) and the defenders are pushed out of the position as a third battalion passes through the gap. Finally the RHQ passes through the gap as its own 4th action leaving the brigade in the enemy square.

Nothing would be different if there had been two or more enemy battalions in the square, except that the close assault would have ground on for longer as the attacker strove to reduce 6 or more SP instead of 3 SP.

A bold attacker may have chosen to ignore the minefield gap and assault through the minefield, taking casualties as he went.

Vehicles passing through unswept ALAMEIN minefields roll a heavy die against themselves to determine casualties. Infantry roll a very light die against themselves. This reflects the preponderance of anti-tank mines in the minefields.

Full marks to anyone who spotted the Pz 38t pretending to be an M13.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, tank, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 31

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

If you want a non work-or-alcohol induced headache, try assembling the armour, colour schemes and divisional insignia of the British Armoured divisions at 2nd ALAMEIN into some sort of coherent order! Individual schemes and contempory photographs are there a-plenty, but enough exceptions exist to demonstrate that any attempt to show realism with one tank representing a battalion is doomed to failure. Look closely at some of the artwork online to see that the camo patterns don’t line up, or make no sense. No-one can agree on the colours used, were they thinned black, or chestnut brown, or both?

51st Highland Division Forming up

51st Highland Division Forming up

Tanks were shot at, they broke down mechanically, were recovered, and then were shipped back to whoever needed them, in their old markings until they could be repainted. When they were, it was with whatever was to hand, with local interpretations of the regulations, so I’ve gone with loose adherence to patterns and optimistically painted, impressionistic divisional flashes¹. As time goes on I can always rework them in the light of more considered research.

Ist Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

1st Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

For this reason, my vehicles rattle over the cork desert in multiple shades of sand, olive and brown.  I applaud people that are able to paint a uniform shade of yellow for the allies and another for the Axis: the results are spectacular. War though, is a thoroughly shambolic, scruffy affair suggesting that adding detail in layers over the years will give a more authentic military appearance, so shiny new tanks appear next to beat-up tinkers carts in my collection, with very little uniformity in evidence.

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

All the shots above show the armour assembling for the attack, ready to pour through the minefield gaps. The newer tanks are positively glowing in their factory-fresh paint schemes.

 

  1. Still not sold on decals.

4 Comments

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Modelling, tank, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 43

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

More artillery prime movers have appeared at SUEZ. This time they are stand-ins for Marmon Herrington Field Artillery Tractors. 9th Australian Division and 1st South African Division used them, and of course no-one makes a model of what is essentially a short-bodied Ford Chevrolet Truck.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Fortunately, QRF have a close-enough substitute in their Chevrolet truck. They actually sell two versions, a FSV02 30cwt Chevrolet truck for £6.00 in their French WW2 softskin range, and a PV05 Chevrolet 3 ton truck for £4.50 hidden in their Polish softskin range. Perhaps the ASV02 Chevrolet 1.5 ton GS in their American softskin range would also make a good substitute, but the front of the grille is too square.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Although the Cargo bed appears too long, I made the models up as-is. Adding the spare wheel and shortening the backs can always be done later. The kits made up easily, but were the usual tired molds that needed filing to get a good fit. The cabs need shimming up at the back to allow them to sit level. A quick paint job and they were ready to go. Later I will put the soft-top cab roofs on, but time is pressing and there are more important things to do.

CMP FAT Stage 3

CMP FAT Stage 3

The masquerade CMP FATs and 25pdrs are coming on nicely. They now have the limbers covered in hessian, and one has the final camouflage net thrown over everything.  You can just see enough detatil to persuade you that there is more to the model than there really is! A bit of black painted-on detail is bringing the 25pdrs to life. I spent the best part of a day starting to paint divisional flashes onto vehicles, as organising them will be a major part of the forthcoming game.

CMP FAT Stage 4

CMP FAT Stage 4

1 Comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 52

A muster of Opposing Forces has revealed a number of gaps. Orders have gone out to factories in Germany and Great Britain.

Arriving at the Docks in SUEZ and ALEXANDRIA are:

Four Semi scratchbuilt 25Pdrs and CMP Quads (PSC are showing out of stock, so dredging the spares box delivered 4 metal barrels and 3 spare CMP roofs. Cam nets to the rescue!)

 

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT Stage 2

CMP FAT Stage 2

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

Four M3 Grants from a Forged In Battle (FiB) 20% sale (PSC have yet to release their kit).

Matador, 5.5" medium gun with 25pdr, Grant and CMP FATs

Zvezda Matador, FiB 5.5″ medium gun with 25pdr, FiB Grant and CMP FATs

Two FiB 5.5″ guns for:

 

  • 7th Medium Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

  • 64th Med Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

 

4 Comments

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 55

Alamein First Layout

Alamein First Layout

The Date is set for Operation Lightfoot as 27 October 2018, and should absorb 6-7 Players per side using NQM Squared rules (T0 be finalised by end Sep). I have spent a full day laying out the troops to see where the holes are in my Orbat.

I’m going to be relying heavily on Trebian, YesthatPhil and possibly Chris Ager if he is around  to fill holes: Two British Divisions, two Italian and the Greeks and Free French

It is quite obvious with the CSO Orbat that the logistic side is padded too much at the front. By halving battalion strengths from 6SP to 3SP, the command and logistic support for a division needs to shrink from from:

Comd (C3), Ammo (L3), POL (L3), Ambulance (L3), Workshop (L3) Signals (C3)

to:

Comd (C3), Log/POL (L3), Ambulance (L3), Workshop (L3) Signals (C3)

This is only a drop of L3, But artillery battalions are also shrinking from:

Limber/Tow  (L3), Gun (S3)

to:

Limber/Tow + Gun (S3)

so some of the headquarters and logistic function has moved to division.

The picture at the top shows just how much kit is going to squeeze onto an 11 x 5 foot table (22 x 10 squares), and I haven’t laid out the air power yet.

The next task is fitting the Operation into 6 hours of gaming with an hour to set up and break down. More trimming may follow!

Alamein First Layout - 2

Alamein First Layout – 2

5 Comments

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Western Desert, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The South

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

Having walked through the northern third of 2nd Alamein to see if the real estate fitted (it did), I worked through the head-to-head infantry attack of 44th Infantry Division against Folgore.

Folgore Defence in Depth

Folgore Defence in Depth

The battle commenced with a divisional barrage that put serious disorganisation of 1/3 onto the dug in division (25pdrs M against dug-in infantry M). The infantry then followed this in, winning the firefight and evicting the first line of defences with 100% disorganisation in the close assault.

Ramke Falschirmjaeger Brigade

Ramke Falschirmjäger Brigade

 

I ruled that, being veteran, Folgore could immediately counterattack with its second line of defence, during the second close assault phase and pull its first line of defence out to reorganise. 44 Div were allowed to do the same in the third close assault phase, ending the turn. In future though, I shall restrict immediate counter attacks in the enemy’s turn to veteran troops.

Pavia and Folgore

Pavia and Folgore

This produced a very satisfying to-and-fro battle that left both sides’ infantry at about 50% casualties, with all artillery ammunition exhausted by the end of 4 rounds of fighting.

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Other rulings were that:

Infantry could not pursue beyond their one square range.

Infantry could attack a diagonal square, but only if they were able to attack it orthogonally from the front or flank without interference from enemy on their own front or flank.

In other words, they could not ignore an enemy to their front in order to concentrate an attack on an enemy to their diagonal front, and they can only do this because the one free diagonal move per game turn that they are allowed places the square they wish to attack in reach.

Leave a comment

Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, DAK, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

First Siege of TOBRUK

I had planned to do a TOBRUK mini-campaign, but on closer examination, the following scenario problem seen at Phase V presented itself. I may work it up to a full game, but at present it does not hold enough operational interest to pursue before other projects:

Phase I: Operation Sonnenblume (6 February – 25 May 1941). The Germans drive the Allies east, isolate TOBRUK and on 10 April attack a largely Australian defence. The Australian infantry prove that a coherent infantry force behind well-sited concrete defences in three layers can contain a frontal armoured attack.

Phase II: Two unsuccessful allied relief attempts ensue, Operation Brevity (15–16 May), Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June), before Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December) relieves TOBRUK on On 27 November 1941.

Phase III: Around TOBRUK itself, nothing happens for five months operationally. The Germans lack the strength to penetrate the defences and at the same time fight of the Allied counter-offensives.

Phase IV: After TOBRUK is relieved, the garrison is changed (see below).

Phase V: The Axis forces attack, and Tobruk falls in a matter of hours!

HQ 9th Australian Infantry  Division & Tobruk Fortress

HQ 3rd Armoured Bde (60 x tanks working; another 26 tanks in repair)

3rd Hussars/5 the Royal Tanks (Det 4 x light tanks and 18 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Royal Tank Regt (Det 15 x light tanks and 19 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Kings Dragoon Guards (30 x armoured cars) 3 Marmon Herrington @ (R1)
4th Royal Tank Regt (Troop of 4 x infantry tanks not modelled)

For local colour, substitute a Crusader for an M13 with a huge kangaroo painted on the side

18th Cavalry Regt (Indian)
HQ Royal Horse Artillery

 

1st RHA Regt 1 25-pounder (S2)+ tractor (L2)
3rd RHA (minus one bty) (16 x 2-pounder antitank guns) 2 2pdr Atk guns @ (S1)
104th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
107th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
51st Field Regt (12 x 18-pounders and 12 x 4.5 inch how) 1 4.5″ Howitzer (S2)+ tractor (L2)
2-3rd Aust Antitank Regt (Unkown no., type, Bofors
(minus one bty) 37-mm; Breda 47/32-mm; 2-pounders) 2  Atk guns @ (S1) (from the previous list)

 

HQ Royal Australian Engineers

 

2nd Aust Field Bn 3 Engr stands @ (E1)
2-4th Aust Field Park Company
2-1st Aust Pioneer Battalion 3 Pioneer stands @ (E1) –count as logistic when fighting

 

Signals 9th Aust Div
HQ 18th Aust Inf Bde 1 Comd stand (F3)
16th Aust Antitank Company 1 (C1) 2pdr Atk stand
2-9th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-10th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-12th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)

 

HQ 20th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

20th Aust Antitank Company
2-13th Aust Inf Bn
2-15th Aust Inf Bn
2-17th Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 24th Aust Inf Bde (-) (2-25th Inf Bn still in Australia) (As 18th bde above)

24th Aust Antitank Co
2-28th Aust Inf Bn
2-43d Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 26th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

26th Aust Antitank Coy
2-23rd Aust Inf Bn
2-24th Aust Inf Bn (as above)
2-48th Aust Inf Bn (as above)

1 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 1 Machine Gun stand (S3)

9th Aust Div Supply Column
7th Aust Div Supply Column
2nd Aust Field Ambulance
9th Aust Div Provost Coy
9th Aust Div Protection Pl
9th Aust Div Empl Pl
9th Aust Salvage Unit

 

Fortress Troops
Royal Artillery
HQ 4th Antiaircraft (AA) Bde

 

13th Light AA Regt
14th Light AA Regt
51st Heavy AA Regt
3rd Aust Light AA Regt

 

Notts Yeomanry (coast defense)

Royal Engineers (under CRE, 9th Aust Div)

295th Field Coy Royal Engineers
551st Tps Coy Royal Engineers
4th Field Sqn Royal Engineers
143d Field Park Troops

Signals (under Comd Signals, 9th Aust Div)

K Base Section
27th Line Maintenance Section

 

Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)

309th Reserve Motor Coy
345th Reserve Motor Coy
550th Coy

Medical: 16th MAC

Royal Army Ordnance Corps [RAOC]

2nd Armoured Div Workshops RAOC
A Sect Ord Field Park AAOC

 

HQ Tobruk Subarea

1st Libyan Refugee Bn
2nd Libyan Refugee Bn
4th Libyan Refugee Bn
HQ 45th Group
1205-7th Indian Pioneer Coys

Admin units have been omitted and are represented by supply dumps.

Use the DAK orbat for Gazala for the Germans

 

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Tobruk [Accessed 7.11.16]
  2. http://www.ww2f.com/topic/24891-orbat-tobruk-fortress-april-1941/ [Accessed 7.11.16]

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Infantry, Land Battles, Western Desert, WWII

2nd ALAMEIN – NQM Squared – Trial walk through

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Suzanne is the uncommonly intelligent kind of girl that H.G. Wells had in mind, in his preface to Little Wars. Her interests gravitate to the people behind the great events, so persuading her to roll dice  involved gin. It also called for a good deal of exposition as to how the 8th Army found itself fighting a set piece battle that would have been familiar to WWI generals, in a desert war that had hitherto been characterised by movement.

51HD Winning the Firefight

51HD Winning the Firefight

Squaring the table off just exaggerated the whole “over the top with fixed bayonets” nature of the battle plan. Suzanne has a wargaming record  that Attila the Hun would be proud of: In the past, her tank famously machine-gunned my supporting infantry off a bunker that we were both attacking. She sacked Northampton and executed any rival claims to the throne, and I regularly get thrashed at GUBs, usually after she has innocently asked

“What does this card do?”

The battle trundled forward as NQMs usually do, when there is no room to manouvre. Thompson’s post was taken, head on by 9AUS, then lost to a Bersaglieri counterattack. 51HD got stuck in. 1SA seemed to be chilling with cold beer and Breifleis; this was a walk through, after all!

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

Tonight however, the post – game conversation veered towards wondering which tunes would characterise each of the opposing forces.

We came up with this:

9AUS Welcome to Australia (You might accidentally get killed)

51HD Corvus Corax I would get out of the way if I heard this coming!

1SA  – we struggled with this one, skipped the Spitting Image Song, and thought that die Stem van Suid Afrika was a bit slow if you were marching into the teeth of a German defence, but liked the Piano Guys . The tune that made the final cut for Bashing the Boche though, was this one though – Sorry Arthur!

The Bersaglieri totally rocked this one from 52 seconds in.

The Germans,  Lili Marlene ,of course, but Peanut Girly was tempting.

I firmed up one or two questions in principle about defence zones of control – necessary in something as stylized as this:

  1. Infantry only close assault stuff in the square that they are in. To enter a defended square, they must win the firefight across the boundary with the next square. No Diagonals.
  2. Infantry, tanks and anti-tank only fire at stuff in the square that they are in. They can place their defended location across a boundary and defend two squares. Of course, this means that they can be shot at from two squares at once. No Diagonals.
  3. For ranged artillery, squares are three kilometers across.

To conclude, ALAMEIN is a goer at this scale.

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Land Battles, Rules Examples, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The North

Allied 9 AUS - 51 HD - 1SA looking North

Allied 9 AUS – 51 HD – 1SA looking North

Before committing too heavily to squares, I set up this scenario as a TaGWiT (Tactical Game With Toys), to see what the real estate looked like, and to see if 2nd Alamein fitting into 22 squares from top to bottom was a realistic proposition.

The top third of the battlefield (7 squares) fits three Commonwealth divisions – 9 AUS, 51 HD and 1SA, and a third to half of MITEIYIRA RIDGE. This gives two squares or 6Km per division, which is fine, as the frontage of 51HD started at just over a mile wide and spread to about 2.5 miles.

el_Alamein_51HD advance

el Alamein 51HD advance

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

It all looks very crowded on the tabletop, but like KURSK, this was a head-on WWI-style frontal attack with little room for manoeuvre.

2nd Battle of El Alamein - 001

2nd Battle of El Alamein – 001

 

An Allied division fits nicely into 4-5 squares. I have some work to do on the look of contours, they are  too high-rise at the moment and Iwould like to avoid the square platform with cliff-edge look. There is nothing wrong with that approach – I’m just not fond of it. My first attempt was to just take a band saw to some of the squared cowboy terrain pieces that  seen little real wargame use over the past five years.

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

 

Thompsons Post and Breakout

Thompsons Post and Breakout

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Modelling, Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

11th Honourable Artillery Company RHA

These splendid chaps fought through the GAZALA battles with 25 pdrs in the KNIGHTSBRIDGE box with the Guards Brigade, before being re-equipped with Priest self-propelled guns for 2nd Alamein and fighting with 1st Armoured Division. I have chosen to model the company with a priest, because A, I have one, and B, it provides some variety from the hordes of 25 pdrs that I need to model. PSC carrier crews provided the gunners, with a Peter Pig seated driver furnishing the obligatory “Officer with Map”

I’m currently trying to build extra limbers and to find out if the priests towed them, or used Kangaroos as limbers, or trucks, as I have modelled.

After munching through a PSC box of nine Universal Carriers, and adding five Loyd Carriers* to the eight or so Piggie carriers that I already own, it is clear that I still need more; in particular, FOOs to bulk out my artillery regiments. There is photographic evidence of FOOs in Morris and CMP trucks, and Dingos, but the carriers are such good value, and perfect for the job. More Quads are on the cards too.

* As far as I know, no Loyd carriers made it to North Africa, but they will do as placeholders. (The temptation to write Lloyd is overwhelming)

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII