Bathtub Primosole Bridge


The arrival of spring break allowed me a little time to organize some much needed relaxation, so I put together another scenario for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum (v3). This one was a bathtub version of some of the fighting around the Primosole Bridge during the invasion of Sicily.

For the game, I focused the action on the second day. The British paras had been kicked off the bridge by German Fallschirmjägers but had linked up with advancing British infantry and tanks and were to lead the British counterattack to retake the bridge. The Germans had used some 88mm guns to devastating effect in evicting the paras, but the paras had inflicted significant losses on the Germans before being forced to fall back. What they didn’t know is that the Germans had been reinforced with fresh infantry from the 1st Fallschirmpioneer Battalion. The original encounter saw battalion sized elements of the 9th Durham Light Infantry and 1st Fallschirmpioneer fighting around the bridge, but for this game I scaled the units back one level, so the basic forces were a company of British Infantry reinforced by a platoon of British paras, a short company of Shermans, and so various supporting elements against a company of German Fallschirmpioneers supported by a couple of 88mm FlaK36 and a few supporting arms.


The view from behind German lines with the Ponte Primosole in the middle of the table


Italian Blackshirt infantry attacks from the vluster of buildings across the bridge


The game took place back in the spring, so I cannot remember the exact details, but the general gist of the game follows. The British advanced on their left, toward the section of the river reported by the paras to be shallower and easier to ford. They generally avoided the deeper water on their right as well as the bridge itself, sure to be the focal point of heavy German covering fire.


German Fallschirmjaegers on overwatch ready to stop any attempt to dash across the bridge


Two German FlaK 36 88mm dual purpose guns reveal their positions in the vineyards and open fire on the Shermans


The British troops deployed more toward the center immediately became bogged down in dealing with the sudden appearance of a unit of Italian Blackshirts, given the “honor” of defending the most forward point of Italian territory. They Blackshirts gave a good showing and took one British platoon out the bulk of the game before being routed from the buildings on the British side of the bridge. The bulk of the British infantry moved up and began moving into the marshy ground of the river bottom. German infantry on the far bank soon opened up and their MGs inflicted heavy losses on the first wave of British.


The Ponte Primosole: IABSM's variable movement dice made dashing across this lengthy span a real gamble


The 88's initial volley knocks out one tank, immobilises another, and knocks out the main gun of a third. Time for some artillery!


The British Shermans moved up to support the infantry only to come under fire from the German 88s, which in turn drew heavy fire from British artillery, mortars, and tanks. The dual would continue for most of the game and although the guns would eventually destroy most of the tanks, they were themselves largely ineffective by the end of the game. One was destroyed by artillery and a unit of Daimler armored cars was able to bolt across the bridge while the guns were busy brewing up Tommycookers (aka Shermans) and machine gun the other gun crew away.


Troops from the 9th Durham Light Infantry advance across the Primosole river in the face of German fire from the vineyard


Daimler armoured cars dash across the Ponte Primosole in an attempt to outflank the 88s in the vineyard


With the Shermans largely neutralized, it was left to the Poor Bloody Infantry to get the job done. They British MGs were set up and began to rake the German position opposite the river with good effect. This gave the infantry in the river a respite and they began to reach the other side. When the 88's became less of a concern, the British shifted their artillery and mortar fire onto the German front lines. The German positions opposite the British left started to thin noticeably and the Germans were forced to redeploy the infantry from the right, many of whom where caught out while moving by the mortars and artillery. However the British were still taking infantry casualties. They were able to make the opposite bank in a couple of spots and assault into the German lines, but it was not enough. At the end the German line was definitely faltering, but the British were spent. They Germans had forward deployed all three of their platoons, so if that line failed, there was no depth to the position.


Accurate and responsive British artillery inflicts heavy casualties on German infantry defending the Promosole bridge


Destroyed British tanks litter the open ground on the British side of the river: an illustration of the power of the 88s


The game was great fun with many tense moments, from the frantic manoeuvring of the Shermans to try and escape the 88s to the desperate British assaults into the thinned German line. The table looked quite nice, although I ran out of time before the game to make the final touches to the roads and bridge that would have really spruced it up. Brian (another one) provided all of the British for the game. These were his first foray into miniatures and they looked great.

Brian Cantwell