Battle of Beda Fomm, 6th February 1941
[updated 4/1/07 after play-test]
Out flanked by the more mobile British 7th Armoured Division the Italian 10th Army was forced to retreat from Cyrenaica. However the British moved faster than the Italians thought possible and blocked the coastal road down which the Italians were to retreat. A fragile force, named after its commander: Combe Force, blocked the Italians' retreat south. The blocking force was vastly outnumbered by the Italians and if they deployed to attack en-mass a break-out was assured.
To stave off a massive attack the 4th Armoured Brigade was committed against the long flank of the 10th Army late on February the 5th. A second block was put in place on a low rise called the Pimple by the British. This feature was occupied by the cruisers of 2nd Battalion Royal tank Regiment (2nd RTR)
At dawn on the 6th three columns of Italians behind 2nd RTR tried to attack Combe Force and were repulsed. If General Bergonzoli wished to break out he needed to first smash the 2nd RTR on the Pimple. To this end the tanks of the Brigata Corazzata Speciale were ordered to attack down the flank of the stalled 10th Army. The initial attack in the morning was a piecemeal, and although it caused the veteran British casualties failed to break through. A bigger attack with the bulk of the Brigade was to start early in the afternoon.
The scenario depicts the Italian attempts to break through the position on the pimple and thus to get enough forces south to smash Combe Force
Map and OB
The map is 3200m x 7900m (this odd shape being the size of my dining room table at 1" = 100m), with north being towards the top of the map. The gray dotted line is 2/3rds of the way up the table. The Northern third of the table is not in play for the British units until 14:00.
For the most part the terrain in flat and open broken with small patches of low scrub
There are two low hills, the Pimple and Mosque Ridge. The brown dotted line marks the ridge-line. Tanks may go hull down behind the ridge line.
The red line is a road, from point "X" north its crammed with Italian trucks. Point X is half way along the table. The side road to Beda Fomm is little more than a track and has no effect on movement
The Gray square is the Mosque, its really more of a landmark than a terrain feature. It can contain one FO or command stand (1/2 sized stand in CD parlance) which gets heavy cover (-3 CD 4-6 save WPD)
Deployment & Reinforcements
Units are deployed as shown on the map. A & HQ squadron 2nd RTR start the game in hull-down positions.
In WPD the Italians will have the first turn
Just before the 10:00am turn start rolling for the arrival of A Squadron 3rd Hussars. Just before 10:30 start rolling for C Squadron 2nd RTR; 12:00 F battery 4th RHA and 16:00 start rolling for 1st RTR. At the time mentioned the reinforcements arrive on a 6 (d6), the turn after on a 4-6 and the turn after that 2-6. Each subsequent turn a 2-6 is required.
At 10:00am the HQ of 4th Armoured brigade arrives anywhere on the southern table edge
A Squadron 3rd Hussars may enter anywhere behind Mosque Ridge
B Squadron 2nd RTR may arrive anywhere along the eastern board edge south of the gray dotted line
1st RTR may arrive anywhere along the eastern board edge
F battery 4th RHA will arrive anywhere along the southern board edge
At 12:00 a British 3t GS Ammo Truck arrives anywhere on the southern table edge.
In no case may they arrive within 1km of the enemy
The 46° Reggimento Artiglieria is deployed in the top left square km of the table at 10:00. As it starts deployed it may fire in the artillery phase of the 10:00 turn
The III & IV Battaglione Carri arrive anywhere in the eastern half of the gray dotted line at 14:00. They are accompanied by the Commadante of the Brigata Corazzata Speciale and supported by XX Reggimento Artiglieria .
The road is crammed with trucks (at least one model per 100m) from the north table edge to the point marked "x".
Game starts at 09:00 and ends with the 16:30 turn - that's 20 turns of 1/2 hour each
Maximum visibility is 2km. The weather in the latter part of the morning is poor with variable visibility. At the start of the 10:00am turn until the 14:00 turn roll 1d10. Visibility is 500m + 1d10 * 100m. So if a 7 was rolled the max visibility on that turn would be 1200m. After 14:00 max visibility returns to 2km
For CD the ammo rules should be used, historically the British were short of ammunition. If playing WPD British tanks and portees may not fire at long range until the ammo truck reaches the mosque
The north-south road is cluttered with Italian transport from the Savona Infantry Division. For the most part this dispirited mass of infantry offered little resistance to the British. However the column does contain an assortment of artillery pieces. At the start of each turn the Italian planer may roll to see if the the column "spawns" a useful stand. If a 6 is rolled on a d6 a stand becomes available. Consult the following table:
1-3 Solothurn ATR Stand; 4-6: 47/32 AT Gun; 7-9: 75/27 Field Gun; 10: Command Infantry Stand
The weapons start deployed touching the road. They are all assumed to have some transport. Their location along the column should be randomised using a suitable method. In WPD terms that are considered on overwatch. For WPD they may never move, in CD terms they are no subordinate to any command stand but may be taken command of.
If in any turn there are no British tanks within 1km of the road then the truck column moves forward at the rate of 1km per turn. Trucks behind burning wrecks lose 2" for each wreck they must by-pass. There are an effectively infinite number of trucks available to the Italians off the north edge of the table. In CD, for the purposes of the game, the trucks do not effect the British morale neither are they effected themselves by morale.
They key battlefield locations are the Pimple and Mosque Ridge.
To win the British must have tanks, guns or portees on both hills and much have equal or greater numbers of cruiser tanks on the table than the Italians have M13/40's. The Italians must not make their victory conditions
For an Italian victory the must capture either the Pimple OR Mosque Ridge OR they must get 20 trucks off the southern edge of the board. To count as captured the terrain feature must not contain any British stands unless they are demoralised and must have one Italian 75mm+ artillery stand on it, not shaken or demoralised.
In all other cases the game is a draw.
This is a tough game for the Italians to win!
British Armies in WW2 and organisational History Vol 1 (Tank Divisions), David Hughes et al.
The Crucible of War 1: Wavell's Command, Barrie Pitt
History of the British 7th Armoured Division: http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.a.paterson/main.htm
Iron Hearts Iron Hulls, Ian Walker