Young Fascists : A Thousand Bayonets
Desert Rats #33
|Britain||2nd Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders|
|India||1/6th Rajputana Rifles|
|India||2/5th Mahratta Light Infantry|
|Italy||Gruppo di Battaglioni Giovani Fascisti|
|Overall Rating, 3 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 598|
|Parent Game||Desert Rats|
|Layout Dimensions||88 x 58 cm
35 x 23 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Desert Rats||maps + counters|
With the Fascisti continuing to defy their enemies, both 11th Brigade and 7th Armoured Division to which it was temprarily attached became ever more determined to wipe them out. "Pockets of enemy still holding out" the division command reported, "expect to clear up soon". In one of the more damning lines of post-war British history, its editors commented, "Such reports from 7th Armoured Division hardly did justice to the facts". In an effort to force reality to match desire, the brigade ordered a silent dawn bayonet attack.
The Italians spotted the approaching attackers before they came close to their positions and opened up with a devastating machine-gun fire. The bayonet attack broke up and 11th Brigade hurled all of its reserves into the fray. Again the Italians held out, killing the British assault commander and inflicting severe casualties.
|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 10)
Two British infantry have their full strengths printed on the back. They should both be "2-3" when reduced.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|To The Bayonets Go The Spoils|
Still another superb scenario. The whole series of scenarios depicting the fight at Bir el Gubi is excellent, and represents the kind of situation for which I wish rules existed for fighting a "battle" by linking the scenarios and their Orders of Battle to player outcomes. This was the third fight for these hills in as many days for my opponent and I, and it was showing. We now knew the ground very well, knew the strengths of the two forces very well, and knew that the only way to win for the Commonwealth was to just gut-up and take casualties.
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.
A big row brews up about whether or not the Surprise Rules allow the Commonwealth to obviate the First Fire Rules. At length, the Commonwealth Player relents on the grounds that, legally, the Surprise Rules do not specifically over-rule the First Fire Rules. It remains the Commonwealth Player's opinion that this is merely the result of lousy game development, arising because no one imagined the surprise attack might actually come off. The spirit of the Surprise Rules for this Scenario clearly obviate First Fire.
At this point, the plans are beginning to have the awful ring of familiarity. Same objective, same enemy. This time, however, the headquarters of 11 Indian Brigade have decided to fully commit the Brigade's reserves. On the Italian side, only the ever-immortal 102mm portée unit---twice eliminated by the Commonwealth Forces in the previous days' battle---can even remotely be thought of as reinforcements. Again, the battle is for the last hill position at 2005-2007, and the stubborn defenders of Gruppo Battagalionio GGFF must hold on to their "pocket of resistance".
The Italian player spends some time pondering his predicament before deciding that the general deployment of yesterday afternoon will serve as well for today as it did then, with only the A/T batteries needing to redploy to face the Rajputana and their Bren Carriers, though in the event some "tweaks" are made. The Italian player digs in one Bersaglieri (BERS) platoon on each of the L2 Hill hexes (1907, 2007, 2008, 2107, 2108), reinforced by a Bersaglieri Machinegun (BERS MG) platoon each in 1907 and 2108, and an additional BERS platoon in two of the three remaining hexes (2007, 2008), the Reduced Bersaglieri (BERS[R]) platoon will reinforce 2107. The 47mm A/T gun battery is dug-in at 2007, while the 81mm Mortar platoon is dug-in at 2204. The 102mm portée A/T battery is dug-in at 2107. The truck is deployed in 2204. The plan is to keep the Commonwelath Rifle platoons from overrunning the A/T gun batteries, even at the risk of making a better target for those two British 13-Strength OBA Factors. The A/T batteries will thus still be able shoot up the Valentine troop and the Bren Carriers, with the portée battery able to move off once 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 Commonwealth armour, be it Valentines or Bren Carriers. As long as the portée remains active, it will be employed as mobile A/T gun against the Valentine troop and the Bren Carriers, 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 unknown is how effective the silent dawn bayonet attack will be.
The Commonwealth Forces are in some ways deceptively strong. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Mahrattas, are very nearly spent, but their reserve companies are on the way, as well as 11th Indian Brigade's reserve, 1st Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles (1/6 Rajputana). A lone Valentine squadron remains to assist, but this time there are Bren Carriers to get the Rajputana Rifles to their objective without being torn to pieces by Italian machineguns and mortars, as well as adding their own Bren guns to the battle. A pile of 2-Pdrs are present, but of little use, but four 3-Inch Mortar platoons are welcome, and six Weapons platoons bring some real punch. The Brigade's artillery park is still plugging away with its two 13-Strength Off-Board Artillery Factors.
Still, that large party of reinforcements does not arrive until Turn 12, and cannot influence the battle until the half-way point, at the earliest. On the plus side, the Commonwealth reinforcements are concentrated, rather than split, and not too far from the site of the battle. The keys are likely to be the success of the bayonet attack in engaging the Italian lines, and the speed with which the Rajputana can be brought in to reinforce the assaults on the Italian line. As always at Bir el Gubi, the 102mm portée battery is a problem needing dealt with, but in this case it is one of very serious dimensions, as the six Bren Carriers can conceivably bring up six Rifle platoons to assist the assault very quickly, but only if they are not hit by the Italian A/T guns. The Commonwealth Player decides to do just that, bringing four Rifle (INF) platoons, two Weapons (HMG) platoons, and sufficient leaders foreward as rapidly as possible. The 2-Pdrs will be left, while the Mortar and remaining Weapons platoons will have to leg it. If needful, another relay will be brought up, but the intention is to press the assault with the Mahrattas, 2QCH, and the reinforced assault company of the Rajputana.
A miracle. The surprise Dawn bayonet attack comes off! The weak Commonwealth forces sneak right up to the Italian hilltop positions before launching their desperate assaults. First Fire very much blunts the effect of this surprise, but the Commonwealth Player attacked along a very narrow front of two hexes, 2007 (Mahrattas) and 2107 (2QCH). This turns out to be brilliant, as the much-dreaded 102mm portée is eliminated (it's a truck for combat purposes), along with one step of BERS (because we both misunderstood the Morale Rule, this was taken from the Full-Strength BERS platoon, instead of eliminating the BERS[R] as should have been done). The other assault is equally successful, eliminating a BERS Step and the 47mm A/T battery. The Commonwealth forces lost one Step in the assault on 2007. Appalling Italian leadership also results in Decapitation! The death of the weak Colonel eliminates another BERS platoon from compound demoralisation. Things are looking up for the Commonwealth player.
That initial assault was a harbinger of things to come for the Italian player, as the battle simply fell apart. Italian leaders got themselves killed at an alarming rate, with decapitation paralysing the Italian "command" once more when the last Capitano was killed two turns later---his peer having simply up and legged it for home. The battle was tense for a few turns, as the tough soldiers of the Gruppo rallied to counter-attack the rampaging Commonwealth troops, but the appearance of the Rajputana Assault Company on Bren Carriers broke Italian resistance. The Italian player honoured the spirit of the Young Fascists, fighting to the last. Several times a BERS platoon fled broken from the hilltop, but rallied and was brought back into the battle by the ferocious Sergente. who commanded the Mortar platoon and commandeered its truck to drive around shouting at his troops to fight. At length, the Valentine arrived and took a moment to range his truck, and the Sergente died a fiery death. With that the wobbly Tenete could no longer control the battle, nor reach their troops to order them foreward, and assault combat died away. The Commonwealth had lost six steps of Infantry, leading to a resounding victory.
Within the ranks of the 2QCH and the Mahrattas, the "victory" was tempered by the frightful casualties suffered in the attacks of the previous day.