The Road to Fort Capuzzo


Fellow Lardy Zippee recently began working his way through the Operation Compass scenario pack using 6mm figures. Unfortunately the tripod on his camera fell apart just after he had set up the terrain. Here's the AAR, but the only pictures available are eerily deserted (pun intended).


 The campaign opens with a British armoured car attack on some trenches: a deceptively simple scenario which begins as a strong force from 11th Hussars spots an Italian trench position...


If the British had done the sensible thing and worked the flanks (thus unknowingly avoiding the minefield in front of the Italian trenches) it would have been a very dull affair. As it was the British behaved in a very 1940's style and pretty much charged the trench line on their Rolls Royce steeds, not even bothering to spot!


As referee, I was partly responsible: worried about how easy the British would find the game unless they encountered the minefield, I told them that the Italians appeared to have cleared the ridge to their front to open lanes of fire, heavily implying that the going was therefore perhaps less difficult on the straight forward approach. I needn't have worried given the gung ho cavalry charge mentality that was quickly adopted by the 11th Hussars!


Before any action, looking up the ridge (north-west) towards the Italian trench line that covers the road to Fort Capuzzo


As the British charged forward, the Italian artillery landed in timely fashion just to the front centre of the minefield and kept up a sustained and accurate fire. Here I added huge clouds of dust and sand to hamper spotting and allowed a roll for minor damage to the cars from flying shrapnel: I think this immobilised one and jammed the turret on another. 


The remaining cars pushed on, hit the minefield and lost another four to immobilising detonations. This actually ended up frustrating the Italians, as they then couldn't force the Hussars to retire with small-arms fire. Ultimately, however,  three Rolls Royces were abandoned and one retired from the field seeking repairs. It did take some unusual umpiring to handle repair attempts and abandonment rolls in the midst of a barrage or minefield! 


In reply Lt Col Combe (the British FOO) brought down the RHA on the east trench but slightly overshot and was unable to redirect through the Italian barrage, so this was only sporadically landing with any effect. He kept trying to manoeuvre further west to get a LOS but the bogging and manoeuvre dice were unkind to him. 


Pre-game View looking across the table from the east, Italian trenches on northern ridge, British Blinds on the track to the south


In the meantime the first MkVI light tank troop drove full pelt up the road, losing one tank immobilised and abandoned in the minefield, with another receiving a turret jam from desperate Italian AT efforts after it bogged down next to the trench line. However the troop eventually made it to the high ground above from, where they set about spraying the trenches with machine gun fire (I allowed this to be more effective than the fire from below the ridge). The second troop of 7th Hussars sensibly tried to find the edge of the minefield, being led by TSM Howarth (in a borrowed car - his was abandoned in the minefield - the only runner left to 2nd Troop), and managed to skirt the western edge and drive off up the road, whilst TSM Howarth added his fire to that of the remaining MkVIs. 


Lt Halliday (one of 2 runners left in 3rd Troop) drove around the east edge of the eastern trench and down into it (irretrievably bogging the car down and leaving it very vulnerable to Italian AT efforts, which were to prove fruitless) but enabling him to sweep the trench itself with MG fire like shooting rats in a barrel. Between this and fire from the 18/25pdrs, the Italian 2nd platoon was effectively wiped out. 1st Platoon (west trench) with Sgt Shorba were heavily washed by the MkVIs on the ridge, but survived with eight men, one dice and the Sgt leading a charmed life. 


We closed the game by the real-life clock as there was no turn card for this scenario - my only criticism of this (and I think the next scenario) as without it really the Italians have no great hope. In the end it was a fun game, even if we proved somewhat rusty: it being quite a while since we last played IABSM.





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