Tag Archives: El Alamein

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D+4 to 5 – 27 to 28 Oct 1942

An Exhausted 50th Division is Fought to a Standstill on D+5

An Exhausted 50th Division is Fought to a Standstill on D+5

By now the cauldron had been renamed “Plum Pudding Hill” by the Umpire, as it had turned into a big pile of infantry with tanks poured over them like custard.   I should have imposed some order earlier, but Gary R and Tim G were passing   all their morale tests, and having fun, so it seemed simpler top go with the flow.

Plum Pudding Hill

Plum Pudding Hill

When the combat finally resolved, both 50th Infantry Division and 22nd Armoured Brigade were shattered. 21 Panzer was in little better shape, so when leading elements of 10th Armoured Division appeared to their rear, they were foced to  turn about and fight them off.

Ariete in Position to prevent the Inevitable Breakthrough

Ariete in Position to prevent the Inevitable Breakthrough

Pavia was confident in the deep south that having Ariete supporting them for a counterattack would stave off any threatened breakthrough from 4th Light Armoured Brigade. The earlier failure to stem the northern breakthrough was having consequences though, as Ariete was called north to bolster the Italian withdrawal. There seemed to be a callous lack of sympathy from the German High Command as they efficiently regrouped prior to withdrawing, and Pavia broadcast their betrayal to anyone who would listen.

Ramke had known this for a few hours already, through Luftwaffe channels, but when the order came to pull back, they were still heavily engaged and had to wait until 50th Division and the dashing “Pip” Roberts had immolated themselves on “Plum Pudding Hill” before sloping off in the gathering dusk of D+5.

Pavia Abandoned to their Fate

Pavia Abandoned to their Fate

Finally, 1st Free French had driven off the remains of Kampfgruppe Kiel, and threaded a way through the minefields to the south of Pavia, paving the way for 4th Light Armoured Brigade to break out into the open desert.

Free French - Bon Alors!

Free French – Bon Alors!

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

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Day to D+1- 23 to 24 Oct 1942

Opening Barrage on D Day

Opening Barrage on D Day

The battle opened at 10:00 (Real-time™) with a heavy barrage across the entire front At 21:40 on 23 Oct 1942. Initial Axis nervousness at the size of the  Allied artillery park, (some 11 field regiments and a medium regiment – about 400 guns on the day), gave way to relief at the strength of their defences.

For the opening barrage, Axis defences counted as heavy, to allow for the barrages being traditional WWI advancing curtains of fire initially before targeting known enemy positions. Most of the shells probably fell on empty desert. I have found no Axis accounts that say “and we were cut to pieces by the opening barrage”

Trebian thoughtfully provided some cotton wool for the initial opening barrage. It was impressive!

50th and 44th infantry divisions stepped out over the moonlit desert, with navigation officers pacing the distance covered, and checking compass bearings as they went. They hugged their own barrages which acted both as cover, smoke and a guide. The infantry crossed the enemy minefields  without  pausing and began to engage isolated outposts in the enemy advanced line. Behind them, Royal Engineer parties began to clear gaps in the minefields for the armour to follow.

Each real hour was divided into a night move then a day move of roughly 30 minutes each, to reflect that most of the fighting occurred in the dark. New players quickly grasped the rules  and we began to creep ahead of the projected game schedule.

44th Division Attack Pavia D Day to D+1

44th Division Attack Pavia – D Day to D+1

The French took a relaxed approach to the start time and set off as dawn broke on D+1. No-one seemed worried. Below, we see Brigadier Koenig setting off in style after a strong coffee and Gaulois, with his Foreign Legion battalions and Pacific marine infantry.

Operation Lightfoot

The three lines of Axis defences really began to pay off as the outpost line fell back to the main defence line (MDL). Casualties began to mount on the attacking battalions.

Once in  the MDL, Axis positions were able to defend in equal numbers against the attackers, with odds of causing casualties 2:1 in the defender’s favour. Only superior numbers of troops, artillery and air support kept the advance going. This game had also strengthened the defender’s hand by banning diagonal attacks.

Further north, the British infantry divisions were advancing stoically and methodically behind heavy artillery barrages and air support. There was nothing subtle, but the timings were planned and the battalions were comfortable with the task laid out before them. Advance to find the enemy and defeat him. The first two day and night periods had seen the Allied advance tear into the Axis line, and 20 Corps were already calling for reinforcements. Top marks to von Gow for playing in character.

Alamein 50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL

50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL

Bf-109

Bf-109

1st Free French Cross through the Minefield Gaps

1st Free French Cross through the Minefield Gaps to Engage von Luck’s Recce Abteilung

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

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 23

Rommel's map of alamein

I found this map attributed to Rommel on the web, about which, I have a number of doubts, (the grid is mine) but it makes a nice basis for a gridded approximation. Other super-secret stuff has been going on with terrain (don’t hold your breath – it’s desert yellow!).

Elsewhere, those mischevious Russians have not, repeat not, been hacking into anybody’s medical records or super-secret HQs in The USA, GB or the Netherlands. It’s a conspiracy, someone just ate dodgy tea cakes, or something. Methinks the Kremlin doth protest too much!

A serious amount of painting is going on, for me anyway, and I almost met Paul Wisken aka General Whiskers, who kindly relieved me of some display shelving that was too good to take to the tip and too much hassle to ebay. Even more welcome, for being unexpected, were the two books that he left in exchange:

Chris Bishop’s Order Of Battle: German Panzers in WWII and George Nafziger’s The German Order of Battle: Infantry in World War II. Between the two books, they provide a staggering amount of organisational detail.

Printing off the player sheets for ALAMEIN  is the next job.

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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

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15cm sIG 33s

Astute readers may have noticed that 707 and 708 Heavy Infantry Gun Companies‘ first appearance on the table was in the form of card markers.

164th Light Afrika Division

164th Light (Afrika) Division

I now have models to represent them, together with two more that will make their way into other divisions, but which for now, are painted up as Luftwaffe ground troops.

s.IG 33 15cm

sIG 33 15cm

It was news to me that the sIG 33 also had a high-explosive Stielgranate round that was used for bunker busting and minefield clearance. I have not found a record yet that indicates if any of these rounds made it out to North Africa.

s.IG 33 15cm threequarter view

sIG 33 15cm threequarter view

90th Light ‘Afrika’ Division – Corps Scale Orbat

  • 155th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 707th Heavy Infantry Gun Company)  Comd Sdkfz 250, 251 or 263  + 37mm Pak (C3), Sdkfz 251 (F3), Truck (F3) + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

  • 200th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 708th Heavy Infantry Gun Company) Comd car + 3.7cm Pak (C3), 2 Truck (F3), + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

 

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Filed under Artillery, DAK, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.

They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.

I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it

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11th Honourable Artillery Company RHA

These splendid chaps fought through the GAZALA battles with 25 pounders in the KNIGHTSBRIDGE box with the Guards Brigade, before being re-equipped with Priest self-propelled guns for 2nd Alamein¹ 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 pounders 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 modeled.

After munching through a PSC box of nine Universal Carriers, and adding five Loyd Carriers² 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.

 

  1.  Life in the Army – Chapter 11 — A Practically Unknown Train Stop Called El Alamein  Accessed on 29/12/2018 at: [ http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/56/a4454156.shtml ]

September 14, 1942
Rumours were rife that we were to have a new self propelled gun called a “Priest” and after a few days a batch of men were picked out to go to Heliopolis, which was in the Cairo area, to an American base, to learn how to use the new equipment.

Gunner Arthur Ward

The Regiment received a full quota of 24 Priests, but we learned later that the Americans had sent 72 in all, but all the others had been on a ship, which was sunk on the way across.

It thus turned out that we were to be the first British troops to use a self-propelled gun in action.

Major K Boulton

2. As far as I know, a few Loyd carriers made it to North Africa in REME units of armoured divisions, with generators in the back, used to start reluctant tanks. (The temptation to write Lloyd is overwhelming)

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1st Armoured Division at ALAMEIN

1st Armoured Division in Box 37 has been getting a bit of work done to it over the weekend. They had a reorganisation and all their divisional tactical signs added, as best I can judge. For amusement, have a close look at the divisional Rhinos. With a bit of imagination, you can see pigs, poodles and sheep pretending to be rhinos. It’s why I don’t usually bother in this scale (I’m not fond of transfers either)! The whole exercise took longer than I thought, but was fun.

I came across this photo of 11th Honourable Artillery Company, and was surprised to see that the divisional flash is on the wrong side – so I have reproduced it as seen. They received their 24 Priests before 2nd Alamein¹

The odd-looking 6pdr on a plastic Hotwheels truck that is lurking in the top right of the photo above, is a placeholder for a Deacon.

  1.  Life in the Army – Chapter 11 — A Practically Unknown Train Stop Called El Alamein  Accessed on 29/12/2018 at: [ http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/56/a4454156.shtml ]

September 14, 1942
Rumours were rife that we were to have a new self propelled gun called a “Priest” and after a few days a batch of men were picked out to go to Heliopolis, which was in the Cairo area, to an American base, to learn how to use the new equipment.

Gunner Arthur Ward

The Regiment received a full quota of 24 Priests, but we learned later that the Americans had sent 72 in all, but all the others had been on a ship, which was sunk on the way across.

It thus turned out that we were to be the first British troops to use a self-propelled gun in action.

Major K Boulton

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

51st Highland Division on Parade

51st-infdiv

51st Highland Division

Sometimes, the only way to check that everyone is in Barracks is to put them on Parade. 51st Highland Division looks as if it is ready for a fight … “see Youse Jimmy“*. 40th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment is further back down the line of communications in the photo above.

51st HD infantry Battalions

In Real Life®, my portfolio is in and marked – a pass! My Viva Voce and Ethical paper have both been taken and the final paper is tomorrow. Too soon to celebrate, but I need some playtime!

*A bored colleague of mine, who worked at the Ministry of Defence, used to pick up the phone on  a Friday and announce “War Office … want a fight?

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Aussies – WIP

9th Australian Infantry Division

[A] batch of some 50 or 60 Australian prisoners were marched off close behind us—immensely big and powerful men, who without question represented an elite formation of the British Empire, a fact that was also evident in battle.*
—Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, Commander, German Afrika Korps, Battle of Tobruk, 1941.

I’ve made a start on  9th Australian Infantry division. I already had one brigade of more-or-less fully painted Piggies (so Veteran troops then), and have added another from the PSC late war British infantry. All that I have managed to do so far is base them up, undercoat them, and add some black for boots and rifles – so green troops for the time being**. Progress has been slow, as on the 1:1 scale front, the garage is turning into a Man Cave (The Den is much too nice now and I have to wear slippers in there).

9th Division contained all the original volunteers and was of very high quality. 10th Division had a proportion of jailbirds in it, with correspondingly lower performance (cannot remember where I read that).

Box 005 Oct 2016

Major General Leslie Morshead

Comd staff car (C3), Ammo Truck (L3), POL Truck (L3), Ambulance (L3), Workshop Truck (L3)

Petrol Company Group

M3 Stuart (Honey)

  • 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion (not modelled)

  • 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion

    • Truck (L3), Comd, 2 Pioneers (E3)
  • 2/7th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery

    • FOO (O1), Quad limber (S3), 25pdr (S3)
  • 2/8th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery (As Above)

  • 2/12th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery (As Above)

  • 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery

    • Universal Carrier (S3), 6pdr (S3)

6pdr and Universal Carrier

  • 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery

    • Morris Limber (s3), 40mm Bofors AA (s3) (or portee)

RHA

  • 2/3rd Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers

    • Truck (L3) + optional trailer (L3), 3 Sappers (@E1)
  • 2/7th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers (As Above)

  • 2/13th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers (As Above)

  • 2/4th Field Park Company, Royal Australian Engineers

    • Low loader (L3), D7 bulldozer (L3)
  • 9th Australian Division Signals

    • Signals truck (C3)
24th Australian Brigade

Brigadier Arthur H.L. Godfrey

Comd staff car (C3), signals van (C3)

  • 2/28th Australian Infantry Battalion, Western Australia (WA)

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)

Australian Infantry Battalion

  • 2/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion, Victoria (Vic.)

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)
  • 2/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion, South Australia (SA)

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)
26th Australian Brigade

Brigadier David A. Whitehead

Comd staff car (C3), signals van (C3)

  • 2/23rd Australian Infantry Battalion, Vic.

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)
  • 2/24th Australian Infantry Battalion, Vic.

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)
  • 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, SA

    • Comd (s3), 3 Rifles (s3), MMG (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3)
20th Australian Brigade   (As Above)

Brigadier H. Wrigley

  • 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion, New South Wales (NSW)

  • 2/15th Australian Infantry Battalion, Queensland (Qld)

  • 2/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, NSW

* Miller, Ward (1986). The 9th Australian Division Versus the Africa Corps: An Infantry Division Against Tanks—Tobruk, Libya, 1941. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Command and Staff College. OCLC 14129655 Accessed in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9th_Division_(Australia) [3 Nov 2016]

**The urge to add some captured Italian Bush Artillery and an M13 with Kangaroos on the side will prove irrisistable at some stage.

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