Young Fascists : The Afternoon Phase
Desert Rats #32
|Britain||2nd Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders|
|India||2/5th Mahratta Light Infantry|
|Italy||Gruppo di Battaglioni Giovani Fascisti|
|Overall Rating, 3 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 556|
|Parent Game||Desert Rats|
|Layout Dimensions||88 x 58 cm
35 x 23 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Desert Rats||maps + counters|
The stubborn Italian defence at Bir el Gubi became a personal insult to 11 Indian Brigade's command staff. They became detrmined to erase the offending position even as the overall situation changed to make a stay in the area less advisable. The battered battalions would go forward again, with renewed tank support.
Like the first assault, this one also failed to expel the Italians from the hilltop positions. Repeated attacks had no success, and the Italians seemed immune to hardship and to their own casualties. Eleven Brigade responded by calling up their third battalion and the reserve companies of both committed battalions. In the morning, the troops would go forward again.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|2 Errata Items|
The second hill complex is misprinted as being 2005::2006. It should in fact be 2005::2007, thereby matching up with the levels printed on the Desert Rats Map (No. 5).
(caryn on 2011 Sep 09)
Two British infantry have their full strengths printed on the back. They should both be "2-3" when reduced.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|Tea With The GGFF|
A very solid scenario, displaying the desperate defence of Bir el Gubi by Italian Fascists of Gruppo Battaglioni and the equally stubborn attacks by British and Indian Imperialists. As so often happens in war, the initial importance of the geographic objective lessened, even as the psychological value---or Morale Value, if you like---of the ground grew. The fight began to take on the character of a grudge match, but one which could only favour the Axis in the prevailing conditions; thus the severe Victory Conditions for the Commonwealth Forces compared with the easier conditions obtaining for the GGFF.
By mutual agreement, the red- and grey-shaded hex at 2106 is defined to be less than 25% L2 Hill hex, and therefore not an L2 Hill hex. Therefore, units in hexes 2107 and 2007 may site and fire through hex 2106 as if it were an L1 Hill hex. The hex does not count as an L2 Hill hex for Victory Point purposes.
As in the earlier sister-scenario, Desert Rates Scenario Thirty-One, "Young Fascists: The Morning Phase", the objectives are the hilltop positions of Bir el Gubi. The Italian Young Fascists of the Gruppo Battaglioni GGFF have incredible Morale, superb defensive positions, decent Anti-Tank and heavy weapon support, and nowhere near enough infantry. As always, the quality of Italian leadership is suspect, at best, even though Gruppo Battaglioni has a full command echelon. The Commonwealth forces have superior numbers, solid heavy weapons support, tanks, and two 13-Strength Off-Board Artillery Factors. Ostensibly on the attack, their Initiative is actually lower than that of the Italians. Commonwealth leadership is generally superior to that of the Italians, and the two Commonwealth forces have ample leaders and a solid command echelon.
For the Italians, there are very few options open in deployment. The Commonwealth Forces have them in a vise, forcing them to defend the entire perimeter of the hills at 2005-2007. The Italian player digs in one Bersaglieri (BERS) platoon on each of the L2 Hill hexes (1807, 2007, 2008, 2107, 2108), reinforced by two Bersaglieri Machinegun (BERS MG) platoons in 1807 and 2106, and an additional BERS platoon in the remaining hexes (2007, 2008, 2107). The 47mm A/T gun battery is dug-in at 1907, while the 81mm Mortar platoon is dug-in at 2207. The 102mm potrée A/T battery is dug-in at 1807. The truck is deployed in 2204. The plan is to shoot up the Valentines with the 47mm and especially the 102mm portée A/T guns, then move off once the British tanks start returning fire, or the British OBA begins to arrive. The 102mm portée battery will then manoeuver to take up a new position and resume the attack against any remaining Valentines. As long as the portée remains active, it will be employed as mobile A/T gun against the Valentines, attempting to "shoot and scoot". Otherwise, the platoons dug-in on the hills will wait until the Commonwealth Forces are close before opening up, so as to limit the effectiveness of the British OBA.
The Commonwealth Forces are divided into two forces: the Indian Forces of 2nd Battalion 5th Mahrattas (2/5 MAH), who attack from the North-East around hex 0701, and are supported by three troops of British Valentines, and the British Forces of 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (2QCH), who attack from the West, being initially deployed in an area South of the E-W road around hex 1520. The divided forces do at least force the Italian Player to cover both the Western and Northern approaches to the hill at 2005-2007, but that is little value for making each force roughly equal to the Italian defenders, thereby wasting what little superiority the Commonwealth has. The general plan will be for the Mahrattas and 2QCH to move up quickly into a position threatening the North and East (Mahrattas), and West (2QCH) faces of the hill at 2005-2007. The Mahrattas will hold in place while the 2QCH manoeuver to assault the hill, with the Valentines firing on anything that gives itself away, especially that noisome portée battery. This probably means the Valentines will need to close up a bit, making a hit from the portée much more likely, but the damn thing has to be found anyway. Once 2QCH have got up on the Italian positions, the Mahrattas will surge foreward to hit the Italians from the North and the East. This should overwhelm the Italian position and clear the hill.
Even without the extra shift in assault which their superior Morale should have given them, the men of Gruppo Battaglioni continue to show what tough, motivated, troops can do on defence when given clear, simple orders. Italian leadership proved no better, on average, than in the Morning battle, but the Young Fascists were simply too hard to care. Although a number of Italian Army officers fled the field, and several others proved very unsteady under fire, the GGFF were rock-steady. The lack of effective leadership really only hurt their ability to coordinate their fires and launch counter-attacks. The portée A/T battery wiped out all three Valentine platoons in fairly short order. Although hit by British OBA, the Italian player had assigned one of his few decent officers---a Capitano with a Morale Modifier (and maybe a Fire Modifier as well, my notes are unclear)---to command the battery, and it survived several blows which would have shaken lesser units. The assault on the hill complex by 2QCH easily put the Commonwealth Forces over the eight Step Loss limit. This reduced the Battle to a desperate fight for control of the hill "at all costs". Fighting in Assault over five contiguous hexes, against a dug-in enemy with superior Morale, is ugly, and Commonwealth losses were frightening. As it turned out, they were very close to the actual losses suffered, with the 2QCH reduced to four single-step Rifle platoons, and the Mahrattas to two full-strength of three single-step Rifle platoons, as well as their two HMG platoons. The 2-Pdrs played no part, and the inability to move the heavy weapons by truck also hurt the Commonwealth's ability to deploy the Mahrattas' 3-Inch Mortars in a timely manner.
By the end of the fight, 1907, 2107, and 2108 had been cleared, the Italian 47mm A/T battery and 81mm Mortar platoons wiped out, and hill hexes 2007, 2008 under Assault. It was not enough, and 11 Brigade HQ ordered a Withdrawl to the Start Line preparatory to an all-out effort to take the Italian positions on the morrow. A bloody and hard-fought action.
|GGFF decimated at Bir el Gubi|
The Cameron Highlanders and Mahrattas took a hiding in the morning hours of the attack (DR#31: Young Fascists: The Morning phase), perhaps due to underestimation of the enemy's will to fight or, more likely, attempting to take two hill positions before noon and make it back to camp in time for lunch. After maybe an hour's break or so the attack force set out again, this time with only one hill as the objective with a lot more time and a few more tanks to get the job done. This time, the Commonwealth forces would attempt to work together and link-up after assaulting the Southern hill from both the Eastern and Western flanks simultaneously.
The GGFF were ready for the attack, perhaps a bit smug about their earlier success and in no way concerned about tanks with their 102mm portee' gun repaired. They consolidated their battlegroup together determined to hold all posts and calmly observed the commonwealth forces approaching, lobbing a few mortar rounds at them to acknowledge their willingness to fight.
The Commonwealth forces this time decided not to send their Valentine tanks out right away and in fact sent them towards the vacant, Northern hill for cover until the 102mm could be dispatched. They set up a gauntlet of 2-pdrs on either side of the hill, spaced apart for crossfire, should the portee' give pursuit. Of course the Italian forces observed this and figured that their makeshift tank destroyer was doing them no good back at the hill and sent it out hunting. There was sufficient space between the 2-pdrs to pass through and no foot troops were going to slow down their advance to try and stop it. So a game of hide and seek began between the portee' and the Valentines. They moved around the Northern hill, both taking advantage of the upper hill areas blocking the line of site until one or the other was willing to engage the other. The Italians had the initiative advantage but became impatient. At 13:00/turn 5, the portee' gambled all and moved in range of the British tanks, allowing one platoon of them opportunity fire hoping that they would miss and that the fog of war would work in their favor. No such luck, the first shot from the Valentines sent the portee' into flames.
Meanwhile, back at the Southern hill, both the Cameron Highlanders and the Mahrattas have each lost a step of HMG units from opportunity fire. And, at 13:45/turn 8, in the confusion of battle, an Indian HMG unit fires on it's own troops, disrupting an adjacent INF unit along with a Subedar, not a British officer! However, the attack force manages to stay together and two battlefield promotions are given to the Indian forces, bringing two Naib Subedars into play. This must have had some effect on morale as by 14:15/turn 10, one of the enemy's upper hill posts is cleared from indirect fire support with sufficient time to clear the other five posts. At 14:45/turn 12, the first Indian asault is successful and a second upper hill hex is secured. The battle continues to rage on for another two hours with the GGFF resistance slowly crumbling and the Queen's Own Cameron's, not to be outdone by the Mahrattas, take their first hill position at 17:15/turn 22.
By 17:30/turn 23, the GGFF is surrounded apart from one hex left vacant for any Italian units that wish to give up and leave their posts. At this time the Valentines make an assault on their own against reduced and disrupted Italian with no chance of being eliminated in the process. British tanks alone clear two posts. At 18:15/turn 26, a sandstorm occurs which further aggravates the GGFF, affecting their recovery attempts and in desperation promote a Sergente on site (two random events back to back). By 18:45/turn 28, it was all over for the GGFF as the last unit, demoralized, is eliminated attempting to flee it's position. So the British and Commonwealth reach their victory objectives with an hour/ 4 turns, to spare -so what to do now? Well, there is still the Italian Colonel, demoralized, who managed to escape death or capture along with a Capitano; both lone leaders yet grouped together. So the Valentines decide to play a game of "Squish" while the 3-inch mortar units lob rounds at them. Surprisingly enough both leaders survive this for a turn or two then mortar fire eliminates the Capitano, leaving just the Colonel left. Valentine tanks are not successful in running him down as he makes for the Northern hill. At 19:45/turn 32, both the sandstorm and the game of "Squish" end with a GGFF Colonel left to tell the story of how valiant his young fascists were fighting to their last at Bir el Gubi.
A great play with a simple objective: kill them all, let Il Duce sort them out. At the end of play all Italian units eliminated save one leader. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders casualties were: One Major, 2 steps of INF, 2 steps of HMG; The 2/5th Mahrattas: 2 steps of INF and 1 step of HMG for a total of 7 step losses so even if they had failed in taking the hill they would have denied the GGFF a victory. I rated this a 4 for a fair balance of play and almost gave it a 5 but as a shared play, probably not as much fun for the Italian player not being able to move around much except with that one unit that's not quite sure if it's a truck, a artillery unit or a tank destroyer. A perfect scenario for solo play.