Battle on the Equator
South Africa's War #3
South Africa (Attacker)
|Italy||196º Battaglione Coloniale|
|Italy||49º Battaglione Coloniale|
|South Africa||3rd Armoured Car Regiment|
|South Africa||Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles|
|Overall Rating, 3 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 573|
|Parent Game||South Africa's War|
|Maps||4: 1, 4, 6, 8|
|Layout Dimensions||86 x 56 cm
34 x 22 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|South Africa's War||counters|
With the Juba River line broken, the South Africans along with two African divisions began to roll up the Italian positions and advance toward Mogadishu. The Italian colonial troops still had a good deal of fight left in them, and two battalions of them dug in at the village of Margherita, around a huge Fascist monument marking the Equator. It was an imposing marble construction, and the Italian officers did not want to yield it up without a struggle.
The 196th Colonial Battalion did not put up much of a fight, but the 49th more than made up for it and both sides inflicted serious casualties with their artillery fire. But the South African guns were bigger and more numerous, and by mid-afternoon both towns were in South African hands and their officers were posing for photographs with Mussolini's monument.
Use German trucks for some of the British trucks, or use British trucks from Afrika Korps or Cassino '44
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|2 Errata Items|
(Regarding pieces from Desert Rats) The Italian setup lists a 75mm Portee and a 77mm. There are no 75mm’s listed under Desert Rats’ Portee rules, and there are no 77mm units either (they exist only in Afrika Korps). If you don’t own AK, substitute a 47mm Portee and a regular 75mm, respectively. If you do own AK, use the units as the scenario indicates.
(Shad on 2010 Apr 29)
Ignore the direct fire values.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|A monumental struggle|
This was a very hard fought minor victory for South Africa and even that wasn't secured until the last few turns. Casualties were high on both sides and the first half of the battle belonged to the Italian colonials. To begin with, the Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles and 3rd South African Armoured Car Company are compelled to achieve 3 of 4 victory conditions for a major victory and 2 of 4 for a minor victory. The conditons were:
1.) Eliminate at least 10 Italian steps; 2.) Control at least 7 town hexes at the end of the battle; 3.) Control the Equatorial Monument (hex 0412) at the end of battle and 4.) Lose no more than 8 South African steps (armoured cars counting double)
The 196th Colonial battalion deploys dug-in on the southeast fringes of map 6 with the 65mm and 77mm field batteries deployed north in the thorn forests and within AT firing range of the Equatorial Monument in case the South African MHII armoured cars became too ambitious. The 196th with a morale rating of 8/6, equal to the Springboks, would make for the southern town along with the 75mm portee unit out of spotting range from enemy OBA. The lower moraled, surrender-prone, 49th Colonial Battalion would deploy in Margherita, the northern-most town near the monument with the 81mm out of spotting range in the center of the town.
The South Africans advance from the south mobile, loaded on trucks. The southern-most town is quickly encircled while some foot units splinter off towards Margherita with the armoured cars and 3-inch mortars, most behind the field hexes initially to avoid being spotted for indirect fire. After about ten turns of direct fire against the defiant colonials in the southern town, with only a few failed morale check results, the encircling attack force closes in for urban assaults. Meanwhile, the Italian 75mm portee comes into it's own by eliminating one of the 3-nch mortar units that emerged from the cover of the fields with it's indirect fire and then taking out a step of the MHIIs with reduced AT firepower at maximum firing range already placing South African losses at 3 steps.
The assaults don't go so well against the stronger moraled colonials in the southern-most town and get bogged down with neither side giving ground for most the battle. It becomes clear that controlling 7 town hexes for the Boks is unlikely so the prime objective becomes seizing control of the Equatorial Monument from the east while the remaining armored cars, 3-inch mortars with a other foot units harass the west flank. The remaining MHIIs get too close to colonial units that were judged ineffective and get a nasty surprise when some FAN units with a good aim take out another step of the armoured cars with opportunity fire rolling "snake eyes" as the MHIIs are open topped vehicles. Now South African losses are at 5 steps as the MHIIs count double.
The next move from the colonials was to get to the monument first, which was easy getting there but then the incredible South African OBA batters them into a demoralized stack. This was in perfect timing as South African INF advanced adjacent, then won the intiative next turn and convinced those units to surrender along with a tenente and then took control of the monument hex. This is where the tide began to turn for the Boks but holding the monument hex was difficult. Twice South African units were disrupted or demoralized attempting to dig-in there. Some of the higher moraled colonial troops gave up a few town hexes further south to advance north to retake the monument and were almost successful, inflicting a few step losses in the assault. At this point it would be difficult for South Africa to achieve a minor victory as their losses passed 8 steps but the timely arrival of reinforcing units eventually strengthed the monument hex before it fell back to colonial control. Soon the assaulting units were all eliminated or demoralized and with time running out, in desperation, directed artillery fire into the assault hex and only caused friendly losses.
So, at the end of the battle South Africa was able to eliminate over 10 steps of enemy units and keep control of the Equatorial Monument, just barely squeezing out a minor victory. It was a viscious and bloody struggle from the onset and really thought the Somalis would hold out but their nerve broke once they lost control of the monument and also, once it is in South African control, the 196th's morale drops from 7/5 to 6/5 to make things worse. This scenario requires a lot of patience from each opposing side and little mistakes cost heavy and equally. Despite this being the third South African victory recorded here with no Italian victories I believe this scenario is well balanced. I give it an unshakeable '4' and believe a shared play should warrant the same if not better.