Thursday, October 25, 2007

Operation Battleaxe

For this Thursday’s engagement I set up a little Blitzkreig Commander game nominally set during Operation Battleaxe. The scenario involved the Scots Coldstream Guard’s advance on 15 June 1941 supported by 7th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment.

It should be noted that this scenario isn’t actually based on any actual, gen-u-ine historical engagement as I know very little about the operation. I do know that the 22nd Guards Brigade (of which 2SG and 3CG were part of) took part in the operation to relieve the besieged Australians at Tobruk. I also know the brigade was supported in their advance by 7RTR. So the scenario pits these units against a fictional line in the sand held by some of the German units that were in the area

North Africa, 15 June 1941


The 9th Australian division is cut off and besieged at Tobruk. Under pressure from Churchill to act Wavell launches Operation BATTLEAXE.


A straight up Breakthrough attack right out of the book… well… with some random German reserves and a complete disregard for point values… So the British have 12 turns to exit 50% of their force off the far end of the table… It’ll be tough to do with infantry and Matildas!


The British

22nd Guards Brigade

HQ (brigadier I. D. Erksine)
1x Rolls Royce Armoured Car patrol (from Prince Albert Victors Own Cavalry)
1x Pioneer Platoon (from 12th Field Company)
2x FAO & 3 Batteries of 25 Pdrs
2x MG platoon (from Divisional MG Battalion?)

2nd Battalion Scots Guards
1x HQ
12x Infantry Platoons/stands (4 companies of 3 platoons)
1x AT Platoon (2Pdrs)
1x Mortar Platoon (3”)
1x Pioneer Platoon
1x Carrier Platoon (recce)

3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards
1x HQ
9 x Infantry Platoons (3 companies of 3 platoons, B Coy detached elsewhere…)
1x AT Platoon (2Pdrs)
1x Mortar Platoon (3”)
1x Pioneer Platoon
1x Carrier Platoon (recce)

7th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment (attached in direct support)
1x HQ
6x Matilda Troops(2 squadrons of 3 troops)

The Germans

2x AT Platoons (Pak38 – from 33rd AT Battalion)
2x AA Batteries (Flak 18 – from I/33rd Anit-Aircraft Battalion)
1x Armoured Car Patrol (Sdkfz 221 – from 33rd Reconnaissance Battalion)

Elements of 104th Rifle Regiment (2 companies from 2nd Battalion)
1x HQ
6x Infantry Platoons
2x MG Platoons
1x Mortar Platoon

Elements of 8 Panzer Regiment (counter-attacking force - will arrive randomly*)
1x HQ
4x PzkwIII (short)
3xPzkwIV (short)

*dice at the beginning of each turn if the roll is LESS THAN the turn number minus 1 (i.e, need to roll 1 on turn 3, 2 or less on turn four, etc.) the German may attempt to bring these on as a flank deployment or mobile deployment from their own base edge.


As it turned out no one else showed up this week…. On the plus side that means I got to wear BOTH hats! HUZZAH!

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Brigadier Brown surveys the field

Oberst Braun inspects his defensive line.

Start postions.

The British line up.

The German line. A little more sparse over there…

Turn One

The Brits got off to a bit of a slow start. The Scotts Guards failed to move (evidently they though kick-off was at 5AM rather than 4:30… The Coldstream Guards surged forward twice.

BLAM!! German 88s took out one platoon of Matildas!

Turn Two

This time the Coldstreamers slowed down a bit, moving once, and the Scot Guards made up for their tardiness by racing forward three moves to catch up with the Coldstreamers on their left. Artillery was called in scoring a few hits but not a single suppression.

German AT fire took out another platoon of Matildas, the Rolls Royce Armoured Car patrol, and the Scots Guards Carrier platoon. Lacking armoured targets in view the 88 on the left of German line started firing into the infantry.

B Coy, Scots Guards – all suppressed! The German CO had a successful command roll, then a Command Bonus (rolled 2), and finished off the turn with a Command blunder (rolled 12) forcing him to re-locate!

Turn Three

Both Guards Battalions did one move each during which both of the 88s tried out opportunity fire against them. Until this point the two squadrons were each under the command of the infantry battalions they were respectively supporting. On this turn I moved up the 7RTR HQ to take over direct control of the tanks – as I was having a hard time keeping them all within easy command distance of the infantry HQ.

The Germans did very little this turn, other than suppressing two Matildas and failing their first reserve roll.

Turn Four

The Guards infantry all surged forward, Coldstreamers twice, Scots three times. The tankers must have been confused about who they were to be taking orders from and failed to move anywhere. Then a British FAO successfully called in some artillery which scored THREE HITS on an 88!!! Pretty exciting! Then he saved one, wasn’t suppressed, and that was the round – so, essentially, no effect whatsoever!

The Germans lit up some more Matildas this turn, after failing their second attempt at reserves. They also started causing hits and suppressions against British infantry. The total for the turn was 3 platoons knocked out (all coldstreamers) and 6 suppressions.

Turn Five

Things started looking up for the Brits, briefly…. The Coldstreamers carrier patrol got in contact with the HQ boosting it’s command value to 9 for a turn – with this the Coldstreamers surged forward under supporting fire from the MGs and mortars, which were now in position.

The third move brought three platoons into close assault!

Of these messy melees the Brits lost one – it’s platoon being forced back, suppressed – but won two wiping out the German MG platoon and forcing another out of it’s entrenched position!

Oh and the tanks were still confused about what they were to be doing and sat still…

The Germans, though they still didn’t’ get their reserve of tanks, also had a good turn. All those nice close infantrymen sitting out in the open… Two platoons were knocked out of action and 6 more suppressed – making it now impossible for the British to exploit the brief success they enjoyed earlier in the turn.

Turn Six

The Coldstream Guards caused two hits with initiative fire… The HQ for 7RTR rolled it’s third 11 in a row for command rolls…. The Scotts Guards moved up into initiative range hoping to assault next turn – if they didn’t make it this turn. They didn’t. They wouldn’t. The CO sorted things out by tearing strips off of each and every one of the surviving officers in the RTR and got them moving for one round.

The Germans didn’t need those tanks anyway… The tally for their turn – 10 infantry and two Matilda platoons knocked out of action, 7 suppressed!

I called it a day at this point.


Wow. Dug in enemy are hard to winkle out. Maybe I should have given the brits more artillery (they had three batteries…) and maybe a pile of scheduled assets that they could have pummeled one side of the table with and then sent both battalions up that one side… I don’t know…

Artillery seems a bit weak. Maybe I’m not doing something right. I mean I’m not expecting to blow everyone out of their trenches – but I would have thought it might keep some heads down!? I didn’t cause a single suppression with artillery all game. Maybe that 88 shouldn’t have gotten a save against it and that would have changed things a bit… a very little bit…

Time to read through the rules again and try to find all the things I was missing.

Boy and to think I had been thinking about giving the Germans some minefields!? (i even finished painting up three stands of British pioneers I've had forever just so they could BREACH the minefields.... luckily I never got around to making anything I could use as minefields...)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim,

    I love the hats... they really add to the atmosphere.

    Great battle report!

    It was fun to read.