Tag Archives: 8th Army

Best Christmas Present Ever!

Every small 50-year old boy awaits Christmas with eagerness. This year was no disappointment. In amongst the parental socks and bottles of port were these Pound Shop trucks:

tankers 014

Ignore the Hurricane in the background and the Japanese in loincloths waiting for their shorts to set. Concentrate instead on the wheelbase of these beauties. I thought that I would have to chop up two Zvezda Matadors to make one of these Leyland Retriever recovery trucks, but the Pound Shop chassies are close enough:

eyland retriever wrecker

Notice the Matador cab glued onto the truck on the far right; it turns out that it is the same width as the original diecast if you are not too fussy (and I’m not!) So here is my work-in-progress (WIP) shot of a  Not Quite Accurate workshop unit for one of my UK  armoured divisions:


From the picture above, it is clear that the Matador cab and body are not an exact match, but that the Milliput roof, a girder and a camouflage net with a thick coat of paint will go a long way to fixing that. The cost of the project was a  total of  20p for the chassis and £2.99 for the body with perhaps 20p for the bits. At first I assumed that the anti-gas plate in front of the windscreen was on the wrong side of my reference picture, but viewing more shots showed that this was not so. I will have to correct that before my final coat of paint.

leyland retriever 1JPG

Camouflage net secured using Evostick and copper wire.

leyland retriever 2

Undercoat on.



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

The Battle of Washboard Ridge, an NQM Close Assault Example

Following a question of how big the unit of resolution for a close assault should be, the answer is “usually a battalion”. There are occasions when a regiment, brigade or even division may close assault, but these are rare: Brigadier Horror-Frackley, when asked during staff rides,  how many of his troops he wished to commit to the assault,  would answer

“All of them!”

Fortunately for us, the attack at WASHBOARD RIDGE is being conducted by Brigadier O.H. Tidbury (in command 30 October 1940–27 April 1941), who understands the value of reserves.

This 2012 example uses the old NQM method of giving an infantry base a strength of (S3) and has been superceded by taking NQM back to its roots and grouping three (S1) bases into a stand of (S3). See the more recent 2014  Battle of Bir Bar ‘el for the current way of conducting combat :

The Brigadier has ordered his anti tank rifles to be left behind as he is facing a reduced (regular) infantry battalion  (2nd) from 115th Infantry Regiment:

  •  1 Comd  (s1), 3 Rifle (s3), 1 81mm Mortars (s3), 1 MG42 (s3)

asslt01 The plan is for a silent attack on a frontage of two battalions (all regular). The picture shows ammo markers in three different ways. The Beds and Harts (2BH) nearest the camera have three group markers (one is taken off each move if the battalion fires).  The York and Lancaster Regiment (2YL) have individual ammo markers, and the Black Watch (2BW) in reserve have a single marker with three green pips on it to remove each move that the battalion fires. The marker to the right has a grid with numbers on it to stick pins into if you don’t like heaps of counters on the table. Brigade attack. Chris Kemp's NQM A Echelon for a brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM Move 1 The battalion commander of the grenadiers elects to split his fire onto each of the attacking British battalions; (if a player declared otherwise, I would want to know if the leading companies in defence were cool enough to ignore the enemy bearing down on their position. I would probably allow the supports to concentrate fire but not the lead companies) 115th Infantry Regiment before Tobruck. Chris Kemp's NQM Because this is a brigade attack, the reserve battalion could lend the supporting fire of its MMG and mortar if it was ordered to. In this case it is not felt necessary, and on the first move, the 2YL wins its firefight, so can close assault in the next move. The Beds and Harts  do not fare as well, so their attack goes to ground and grinds to a halt until reinforcements arrive to unstick them (this does not mean that they cannot continue to shoot in the hope that they will win the firefight in the next move, BUT THEY CANNOT CLOSE ASSAULT WITHOUT BEING REINFORCED). Brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault in the North, move 2 Close Assault. Achtung Schweinhund!Chris Kemp's NQM Battalion Attack in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM 2YL win their close assault causing two pips of damage and receiving none. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate their position, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL. Battalion Attack breaks into heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Note the black heavy die rolled against the Brits to account for the effect of an uncleared minefield in front of the defensive position. In traditional fashion, the heavy die rolled a two! Firefight in the South, move 2 Battalion Attack goes to ground in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM 2BH initiate another round of fire with the two grenadier companies south of the ridge. This time they win the firefight and are reinforced by a Black Watch  company, so that they can close assault next move. Battalion Attack regains momentum in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault in the North, move 3 2YL win their close assault causing two more pips of damage and receiving one. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate again, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL. Note that they can only carry one ammo marker out of the position with them as they each only have one strength point left. Battalion Attack finally clears heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault  in the South, move 3 2BH win their Close Assault narrowly, causing one pip of damage, and noting with relief that the minefield die was an equally miserable one! (Although it looks as if the black die is matched aganst the die below, it is not. It is acting as one heavy die of fire at contact). The grenadier company with 3 red pins on it has no fighting strength left. If it gets another hit before it reorganises, it will be destroyed. Battalion Attack fighting through heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM At this point, 2nd/115th are forced to take a morale test, which they fail, withdrawing in good order to fight another day. Brigadier Tidbury is content that the position has been taken. He calls for his ‘A’ echelon to come forward and begins the task of reorganising and digging his brigade in before the inevitable counter attack. He will bring forward his transport with engineering stores, anti-tank guns and more ammunition. *Volltreffer (direct hit) – Often shouted on ski slopes when a novice skier has wiped out a snowboarder. **Achtung Schweinhund! Harry Pearson’s eponymous book is highly recommended.


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

1st Free French Brigade Group at BIR HAKIEM

Converted Peter Pigs from Phil Steele’s collection. Copyright Phil Steele.

Crucial to any GAZALA Battle is the contribution of General Koenig’s Free French Brigade (1FF) at BIR HAKIEM. Fortunately, I don’t have to model them as Phil Steel has already made an excellent job of it in 15mm, allbeit he painted them originally as Vichy French. . 1FF seemed to be plentifully supplied with 75mm artillery of one sort or another, which I have amalgamated into the 1st Flying Column portee.

1st Free French Brigade (1FF) (Gen Koenig) – 1 Command Jeep (C3), 1 Signals Vehicle (L3)

1st Free French Tank Coy1 Crusader I,II OR III (F2) (But I own a Char 2C, so see my stand-in on the blog wallpaper!)

1st Free French Flying Column1 Automitrailleuse Dodge ‘Tanake'(F2),

Dodge tanake1 portee 75mm M1897 or ‘Conus gun’ SPG (S3)

conus gun

1st Fusiliers MarineComd (C1), 3 Rifle Bases (F3), Hotchkiss MMG, 81mm Mortar, Boyes ATkRifle (S3)

2nd Bn French Foreign LegionAs 1FM above.

3rd Bn Infanterie Marine PacifiqueAs 1FM above.

1st Moroccan SpahisAs 1FM above.

Engineer1-3 Engineer Bases (F1-3)

Anti-tank1 Fordson WOt2 25mm CLA portee (S3)

Anti-aircraft1 25 mm CA mle 39 towed/portee (S2)

Logistic1 Ammo Truck (L3), 1 Workshop Truck (L3), 1 Fuel Tanker (L3), 1 Ambulance (L3)

Later on, at ALAMEIN :

1st Free French Division : (Gen Koenig)
– Compagnie de QG51 : Lt Muracciole
– 2e Bataillon de la Légion Etrangère : Cl Amilakvary
– 1e Bataillon d’Infanterie de Marine et du Pacifique : Cdt Bouillon
– 22e Compagnie Nord Africaine : Cpt Lequesne
– 1e Regiment d’Artillerie : Cdt Laurent-Champrosay
– 1e Bataillon de Fusilliers- Marins (A.A.) : CC Amyot d’Inville
– Compagnie Anti-Chars (A.T.) : Cpt Jacquin
– 1e Compagnie de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Cpt Desmaisons
– 1e Compagnie Transmissions : Cpt Renard
– 101e Compagnie Auto (transport) : Cpt Dulau
– Atelier Lourd de Réparations Auto n°1 : Cpt Bell
– Intendance : Int Bouton
– Groupe d’exploitation n°1 : Lt Foussat
– Groupe Sanitaire Divisionnaire n°1 : Med-Cdt Vignes
– Ambulance Chirurgicale Légère : Med-Cdt Durbach
– Hôpital de Campagne Hadfied-Spears : Med Ch Vernier


  1. Corbonnois, D. (2004) L’odyssée de la Colonne Leclerc : Les Français Libres au combat sur le front du Tchad, 1940-43
  2. http://minitracks.forumpersos.com/t155-engins-francais-depuis-1941-a-1945
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_Demi-Brigade_of_the_Foreign_Legion
  4. Haugh, D. (2002) http://www.warwheels.net/images/AMDodgeTanakeDATASHEET.pdf
  5. Bishop, C. (1998) The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. p.190. Sterling Publishing.
  6. Latimer, J. (2002) Alamein. p.329.
  7. Post by Reasoner, D. (2006) http://testofbattle.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2916&sid=2b9b5a228faeb353ef45af3326d173d3

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Infantry, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII

Gazala Tank Strengths Cross Referenced

Michael Carver’s Tobruk (1964) breaks down tank strengths on the 27th  of May 1942 for the start of Rommel’s Operation Skorpion (p.167). comparing this with the chain of command from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gazala#Allies  threw up some anomolies, which I had to resolve by working out the strengths for the whole of 8th Army. The task was complicated by the British habit of splitting tanks into cruiser/medium heavy tanks, and infantry tanks, as two separate groupings.

15mm QRF Crusader with QRF? Austin 3Tonner 'A' Echelon support

“Where’s my truck!”…. “Behind You!”*

8th-army8th Army [Lt Gen Ritchie] – 843 (28) tanks of which:

30th-corps30 Corps [Norrie] – 167 (5) Grants, 149 (5) Stuarts**, 275 (9) Crusaders allocated as follow:

(2) Stuart, (2) Crusaders

1st-armdiv1st Armd Div [Maj Gen Lumsden](1) Crusader

2nd Armd Bde [Brig Briggs](1) Grant, (3) Crusader.

22nd Armd Bde [Brig Carr](1) Grant, (3) Crusader.

201st Gds Mot Bde [Brig Marriott/Johnson]

7th-armdiv-1st7th Armd Div [Maj Gen Messervey](1) Grant

4th Lt Armd Bde4th Armd Bde [Brig Richards/Gatehouse](2) Grant,  (2) Stuart.

(British) 7th Mot Bde [Brig Renton]2? motor rifle battalions

(Indian) 3rd Mot Bde [Brig Filose] – 3 motor rifle battalions

(Indian) 29th Inf Bde [Brig Reid]3 infantry battalions

1st Free French Bde [Brig Koenig]4 infantry battalions with supporting arms

Plus 1 Armoured Brigade (from Army Reserve) –  75 (2) Grants (s3) and 75 (2) Stuarts (s3)


*http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.a.paterson/org.htm#Apr1942  gives for an armoured division:

6 RASC companies and 4 light field ambulances, with a Divisional Workshop, and a Brigade Workshop for each brigade. This is roughly as many trucks as tanks, and gives an idea of how big the logistic tail was stretching across the desert. Even this monster was unable to sustain battle for more than a few days at a time before resupply was needed.

**Stuart tanks seemed to be popular with Artillery FOOs in armoured formations, which would easily swallow the “missing” Stuarts in the breakdown above

May 1942 GAZALA (Venezia)

– this was my original breakdown. The slight differences probably reflect Crusaders being replaced by Grants as battle losses occurred.


Tanks – 849 (28) broken down as :

Armoured cars :  (10) Marmon-Herrington, (3) Humber

Cruiser : (3) Honey, (10) Crusader

Medium : (1) Lee, (4) Grant

Infantry : (3) Matilda, (7) Valentine

The collection in October 2012

Allied Tanks at GAZALA 4The collection in October 2015. Note the M5s , Shermans and even two ferrets filling in. The four blank bases are waiting for more Valentines


Tanks – 330 (11) broken down as :

Light : (2) PzII

Medium : (8) PzIIIh

Heavy : (1)  PzIVe

15th and 21st Panzer Divisions15th and 21st Panzer Divisions on the march


Tanks – 228 ( 7)  broken down as :

Light: (2) L6/39

Medium : (2)  M11/39, (3) M13/41

Box 023 ArieteAriete Armoured Division

Box 023 : 133 Littortio Armoured DivisionLittorio Armoured Division

The  pictures show the progress made since the original post

updated January 2017


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

Gazala – British and Commonwealth Forces (Op Crusader)

Forces built up piecemeal in the desert on both sides, so I have taken an arbitary snapshot round about the time of the first GAZALA battles (November 1941) as the basis for a mini campaign. As ever, I am open to suggestions and comments from those with a better knowledge of the period.

British and Commonwealth Forces

Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command: General Claude Auchinleck

8th-armyBritish Eighth Army

Lieutenant-General Alan Cunningham, succeeded on 26 November by Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie
Model of a Nissen hut with a Campari sun umberella outside.

30th-corpsXXX Corps

Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie
Comd Car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3)
Comd Car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3)
  • Divisional troops
    • 4th South African Armoured Car Regiment – Marmon Harrington Armd Car (s3)
  • 102nd Royal Horse Artillery – FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)
  • 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA – Bofors 40mm (s3) + limber (s3)

1st-south-african-division1st South African Division (Major-General George Brink) – Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3)

  • 1st Royal Natal Carabineers SA Infantry Corps (Lieutenant Colonel Len Hay, M.C.) (As above)
  • 1st Transvaal Scottish SA Infantry Corps (As 1DoE above)
  • One Sqn 3rd SA Armoured Car Regt SA Tank Corps – Marmon Harrington Armd Car (s1)
  • 3rd and 4th Anti-Tank Batteries SA Artillery Corps – FOO (s1), Limber (s2), 2pdr (s2)
  • 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Battery SA Artillery Corps – Truck (s1), 20mm AA (s1) (or portee)
  • 1st Field Company SA Engineering Corps – Truck (s1), Engr (s1)
  • 11th and 15th Field Batteries of 4th Field Regt SA Artillery Corps – FOO (s1), Limber (s2), 25pdr (s2)
  • 7th, 19th and 20th Field Batteries of 7th Field Regt SA Artillery Corps  –FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)
  • 5th South African Infantry Brigade (As 1st bde above)
  • 22nd Guards BrigadeComd Car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Rifle stand (s3) (Defence Platoon)

    • 9th battalion Rifle BrigadeComd (s3),  3 Rifle Stands (s3), VickersMMG (s3), 3″Mortar (s3), ATkRifle (s3), 2 3ton Trucks(s3)
    • 3rd battalion Coldstream Guards Comd (s3),  3 Rifle Stands (s3), VickersMMG (s3), 3″Mortar (s3), ATkRifle (s3), 2 3ton Trucks(s3)

13th-corpsXIII Corps

Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen
Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3) 40mm Flak + Truck (s3)

2nd-new-zealand-infantry-division2nd New Zealand Division (Major-General Bernard Freyberg)

Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3), 40mm Flak (s3) + Truck (s3)

  • 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade – Comd (s3), Signals Vehicle (s3), Rifle stand (s3) (Defence Platoon)
  • 18th Infantry Battalion – Comd (s3), 3-4 Rifle Stands (s3), VickersMMG (s3), 3″Mortar (s3), ATkRifle (s3) (Boyes)
  • 19th Infantry Battalion – (As 18 Bn above)
  • 20th Infantry Battalion – (As 18 Bn above)
  • 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade – (As 4th Bde above)
    • 21st Infantry Battalion
    • 22nd Infantry Battalion
    • 23rd Infantry Battalion
  • 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade – (As 4th Bde above)
    • 24th Infantry Battalion
    • 25th Infantry Battalion
    • 26th Infantry Battalion
  • Divisional troops
    • (Reconnaissance) – Marmon Herrington Armd Car (3)
    • 1 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)
    • 25 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)
    • 31 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)
Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3)

Tobruk Garrison

Major-General Ronald Scobie
Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), 40mm Flak + Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop truck (s3)

british_wwii_6th_infantry_division70th Infantry Division

Comd car (s3), Signals Truck (s3), Ammo Truck (s3), POL Truck (s3), Ambulance Truck (s3), Workshop Truck (s3) 40mm Flak + Truck (s3)
  • Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade
    • I Carpathian Rifle Battalion
    • II Carpathian Rifle Battalion
    • III Carpathian Rifle Battalion
    • 11 Czechoslovakian Infantry Battalion
    • 2/13 Australian Infantry Battalion
    • Carpathian Machine Gun Battalion
    • Carpathian Field Regiment FOO (s1), Limber (s3), 25pdr (s3)

***The Brigade was a mix of Valentines and mostly Matildas

Oasis Force

Brigadier Denys Reid
  • 29th Indian Infantry Brigade – (As 4th NZ Inf Bde above)
  • 6th South African Armoured Car Regiment – Marmon Harrington Armd Car (3)

Army Reserve

2nd South African Division Sign2nd South African Division (Major-General Isaac de Villiers) (All as 2 NZ Div above)

  • 3rd South African Infantry Brigade
  • 4th South African Infantry Brigade
  • 6th South African Infantry Brigade


Original text written by:


Paolo Marcenaro http://comandosupremo.com/libya1941.html

and http://www.enotes.com/topic/Eighth_Army_%28United_Kingdom%29

Adapted for NQM with images from various sources, as are the following two posts

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