El Alamein Mini-Campaign 3 – Assault on Tel El Aqqaqir

We played the third and final game in our El Alamein mini-campaign last night. The campaign had already gone the way of the Allies with two crushing defeats inflicted on the Deutsche Afrika Korp, so I was really hoping for a win to avoid a clean sweep.

Background

2 November 1942 and Operation Supercharge begins. The 2nd New Zealand Division is tasked with carrying out the initial thrust, the objective being the capture of Tel El Aqqaqir (the base of Axis operations). The division had suffered significant losses in July (1,405 men in three days of fighting) and the toll of the battle so far had seen it further worn down. To reinforce the division, several brigades and battalions were brought under its command – including the 9th Armoured Brigade. As a result of the depleted manpower, the 9th Armoured Brigade was tasked with leading the assault – headlong into dug in German anti-tank gun positions, including Flak 88 guns.

Table and Mission

I selected Hold the Line for this mission. The Allies would be assaulting along the road heading towards the village with the hill off to the left. The objectives were the hill and the far house (back and right of the road).

The Forces

I’m afraid I don’t have pictures of the forces for this battle.

German:

HQ with two Panzer III Ls

Two Panzer platoons – 1st with two Panzer IV F2s, two Panzer III Ls and a Panzer III N, 2nd with one Panzer IV F2, two Panzer III Ls and one Panzer III N

Heavy anti-aircraft battery with two Flak 88s with extra crew (so rate of fire 3)

Priority air support from Ju87G Stukas

British

HQ and two heavy armoured platoons with three shermans a piece

Light armour platoon with three honey stuarts

Kingforce armour platoon with three Churchill IIIs – this platoon wasn’t actually part of the force organisation chart, but we were doing a fun “use everything” battle, so it came under the company’s command

Sporadic air support from Hurricane IIICs

Order of Battle

I positioned my Flak 88s to cover my right flank and held my 1st Panzer platoon in ambush (with the intention to appear them on my right flank). My mate deployed his two Sherman platoons on his left and right flanks, Honey Stuarts centre left and Churchills centre right. His HQ was positioned at the rear behind the ridge.

Turn one and three Hurricanes would have come roaring in had Axis fighter aces not shot down two of them – already a good start for me. The entire British force moved up save the HQ and all opened up on the Flak 88s – scoring very few hits, all of which were saved. The lone Hurricane dropped its payload, but the Flak made its save with ease. Things only got better for me in my turn. I sprung my ambush on the right flank and opened up on the Shermans opposite, although I only knocked out one and bailed the other two. On my left flank however my Flak 88s decimated the Shermans that had moved up to take them on. I also managed to call two Stukas in which failed to score any kills on the Churchills.

Turn two and more Hurricanes came roaring in, two planes this time and my interceptors failed to shoot any down. All British tanks remounted, the Churchills moved up to take on the Flak 88s and the two Shermans on the left pivoted to engage my Panzers. The Honey Stuarts moved up the centre and turned left to also engage my Panzers. The HQ moved from behind the ridge to the back centre of the British line. The Stuarts failed to do anything, but the Shermans knocked out both my Panzer IV F2s. Meanwhile the Churchills silenced a Flak 88 while the Hurricanes did nothing. My turn and my reserves were still delayed, but two Stukas came in on the enemy HQ. I kept everything put and in shooting took out two Churchills with my Flak 88, with the third failing its motivation check and quitting the field. My Panzers bailed two Honey Stuarts, but otherwise were ineffective. My Stukas managed to knock out the enemy command tank though.

Turn three and the Hurricanes were back and again I wasted another air support die on trying to intercept. All tanks remounted, the Stuarts repositioned further into the centre and turned to take on the Panzers. HQ shermans, now commanded by the 2iC moved up to assist the remaining Sherman platoon. Shooting saw the Panzer III N obliterated but the remaining to Ls kept their cool. The Hurricanes failed to inflict damage again. In my turn reserves again failed to materialise, but my Stukas were back on the British HQ. My Flak 88 took out one from the Sherman platoon, but the remaining tank held. My Panzers bailed all three Honey Stuarts, which I was most unimpressed with. My Stukas failed to inflict any further casualties.

Turn four and the skies were as silent as the Honey Stuarts’ engines, with all three tanks failing to remount. The Shermans remounted and opened up on the two Panzer III Ls obliterating the both of them. My turn and I still had no reserves and no Stukas this turn too. My Flak 88 took out the last Sherman in the platoon, but the British passed their company morale check.

35 - Stuarts Take Hill

Turn five and no Hurricanes again. Two of the Stuarts remounted and took the hill that was a mess of burning Panzer wrecks. The command tanks moved up and turned right to deal with the Flak 88. My turn and it was all down to  my reserves roll: fail and have the British snatch victory from the jaws of defeat; pass and have my Panzers move up to contest the hill. I scored two fives and was able to bring both my 2nd Platoon and command platoon on. They bailed both the Stuarts on the hill, which wasn’t particularly fantastic, but good enough because I was contesting the objective.

37 - End Game

At the start of turn six we decided to call it a win for the Germans. We did movement and shooting with the Shermans and they took out the Flak 88 command team, with the gun failing its platoon morale check so my mate could have the satisfaction of seeing it off, but the battle had already been decided.

Aftermath

In the real world the 9th Armoured Brigade suffered heavy losses, but silenced close to all of the German guns, including the Flak 88s. It was another fine battle last night and it was good to finally do some real damage. Again the visual impact of the battle was fantastic and the scene of tanks trundling across the desert and the board slowly filling with wrecks really is quite powerful. That’ll be it from North Africa for some months though. We’ll probably return later in the year, but next up is Operation Barbarossa played out in Bolt Action. That won’t start still late April when my mate returns from his holiday to the US. Until then, I might post some other content, perhaps of my Ariadna and of the terrain I’m working on for Infinity. Happy wargaming.

 

 

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