: "At 09:00 on 27 May, at 09:00, Rommel gave the order to General De Stefanis—commanding the Ariete Armoured Division—to attack Bir Hakeim from the southeast. This division—formed of the 132nd Armoured Regiment, equipped with M13/40s, of the 8th Reggimento Bersaglieri and of the 132nd Artillery Regiment—attacked the French position at 09:30 from the rear in two successive waves. The bersaglieri had tried to get out of their trucks to support the armored advance, but a heavy barrage from the French artillery forced them to retreat. The armored vehicles, charging courageously without infantry support—tried to cross the minefield and six tanks managed to infiltrate the French lines, avoiding mines and anti-tank fire. They were eventually destroyed by very close range 75 mm fire, and the crews were captured. Captain Morel—leading the 5th company—thought the situation was desperate and set fire to the company flag and confidential documents.The Ariete Division—reduced to only 33 tanks in 45 minutes—had to retreat. The remaining tanks then tried to outflank this resistance by attacking the north, but made contact with the V zone minefield protecting that face. They eventually regrouped and retreated, leaving behind 32 destroyed tanks and 91 prisoners, including Lieutenant Colonel Pasquale Prestisimone, commander of the 132nd Italian Armoured Regiment. Only two French soldiers were wounded and a truck and a cannon were destroyed. Most of the antitank artillery fire took place only 400 or 200 meters away from the French lines, but the legionnaires did not step back."
This episode inspired me to put toghether a simple scenario for the Pz8 WW2 two-pages rules, ideal for solo games.
Italians (all Regular)
1 x M13/40 (HQ)
10 x M13/40
10 x M13/40
2 x 75mm Field Gun (OT)
French (Regular except FFL = Elite)
1 x HQ + Truck
9 x Infantry (FFL)
3 x 25mm AT
2 x 47mm AT
2 x Bofors 40mm
4 x 75mm Field Gun (OT)
16 x Field Defences
24 x Minefields (12 are “dummy”)
French Field guns (out of table in the fortress at Bir Hakeim) are plently of shells, so ignore the rule 1,2 = “out of ammo”
French win if they destroy at least 10 Italian units.
Italians win if they destroy at least 10 French units, losing less then 10 of their units.
Italian M13/40 tanks in 1/300 scale. Models from Heroics & Ros
The Italian Armoured Regiment advanced under heavy French artillery fired, that caused the destruction of 2 tank units and the suppression of another one. Then they met the minefield, but were lucky enough to open a wide hole loosing only another one tank unit. The whole attacking force penetrated the French area and closed to the enemy field defences, already weakened by the Italian artillery fire in support.
When a unit enters a minefield counter, it is revealed and if marked with a "x" it is "real", otherwise it is a "dummy".
Italian tanks divided into groups of 2-3 units, each attacking a different French position., while the artillery firing from the Bir Hakeim fortress fired their shells over the Italian rearguard (at the risk of hitting their own Legionaries!) still causing many casualties. French AT guns and infantry with Boys AT rifle were a good match for the thin armour of the M13/40s and the losses were high for both.
Italian tanks breakthrough the minefield and attack the French defences.
One artillery round hits the Italian HQ and kills the Colonel! The Italians can not rally anymore if disorganized or suppressed, but they still fight to the end. With 10 Italian units burning in the desert and 11 French position destroyed, the tactical result is a French victory.
This evening I played (solo again) another scenario for the Pz8 WW1 Divisional rules: Le Matz 1918.
This time the Preliminary Bombardment was lucky for the attackers (German) that cleared 3 squares from the French field defences... even if 2 squares became "cratered" in the process. The Germans did not deployed trenches or barbed wire in their first row, making space to assemble more battalions in attack.
This tactic worked, together with efficient artillery support, and the Germans quickly occupied four enemy squares in the first row, while two other along the river resisted valiantly. German reinforcement came into the table from turn 2, and slowly moved to the first line. German attacks met more resolute resistance in the 2nd row and the two surviving French squares in the first row held the ground.
On turn 3, French tanks entered the battle. Two armoured units took position around the French bunker, then mounted a counterattack, supported by strafing planes (a special rule for this scenario), against a single German Stormtrooper unit... that resisted for one turn, than was wiped out. But when the tanks advanced, one unit was stuck in the muddy terrain.
On turn 6 the German were eventually able to occupy all the squares in the first row, but a roll of "5" ended the day. It was a German "Indecisive victory"... I am slowly learning to play my own rules...
After months I was able to play a short solo game: it's one of the scenarios designed by Pierre Laporte for the Pz8 WW1 Divisional rules... I played it with my 2mm WW1 armies (with British acting as US Marines...) and with the nice print-and-play WW1 fortifications provided by Pierre, that you can download in the Rules page. the gaming board is made from cork, with the squares marked with a black marker pen... the motive is inspired by the WW1 zig-zag trenches.
The US preliminary bombardment was particularly uneffective (only 1 german trench destroyed) and this conditioned the game. First US Marines assault were repulsed by the Germans, using gas, with heavy losses. The Americans were able to occupy only two squares in the German first row, but then expended their Artillery points in bloody, but unuseful attacks. Their offensive stalled with the US bridgeheads trying to cut the German barbed wire entanglements, again without success. After their last Artillery salvo, the Marines were still occupying only two enemy squares, without hope of further advance and with 9 of their Battalions wiped out... it was clearly a German victory.
Looks like I created a game that I can not win! Well, I will try the other scenarios by Pierre, including some open battles. Pz8 WW1 are very fast playing (30'-60') and 2mm miniatures are very flexible (for example, you can use British as Italians and German as Austrians... at least solo or between consenting adults ;-)