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
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.
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.
50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL
1st Free French Cross through the Minefield Gaps to Engage von Luck’s Recce Abteilung