Monday 11 June 2012

Operation Lightbeer - Flames of War MW Desert AAR

Driven back to hasty the fortifications at Alamein, the Australians and British dig in and prepare to repel the relentless advance of Rommel and his Desert Afrika Corps. Outside it was wet and miserable but on the table the heat was relentless, the foes implacable and the result as close as could be. Can the Germans capture the objective and save themselves from a diet of lightbeer?

On the defending side we had a 2000 point British Guards Motor company consisting of motor platoons, heavy machine guns, Royal Horse Artillery, 6pdr portee AT, Grant tanks and carriers plus a 2000 point Australian rifle company consisting of rifle platoons, towed 6pdr AT, heavy mortars, carriers, Valentine infantry tanks and Crusaders of the Div Cav with Hurricane IIDs overhead.

On the attacking side we had Rommel in command of 2000 points of Panzergrenadiers consisting of schutzen platoons, panzers, heavy artillery and nebelwerfers plus 2000 points of Panzerpioneers consisting of pioneers, panzers, Lorraine Schleppers and Stukas.

RHA dug in behind the trench lines
Aussies on the objective, prepared to fight to a bitter end (pun intended!)
View from the German left flank, it was here the initial breakthrough came

The table was 8" x 6" which meant for a wide frontage and a lot of barbed wire. We played Trench Fight which meant minefields were short in supply due to cost in points. Deciding to force the DAK into a path covered by the AT guns, the Allied right was left without mines - a bad decision as it turned out. The preliminary bombardment did little to disrupt the infantry but did knock out a couple of 25pdrs. More crucially it all but destroyed the 6pdr AT guarding the Allied right.

View from the Allied left flank
German AT on the ridge in the centre, panzers advancing behind

The Germans made a determined attack on both flanks. Initial success on their right was slow with infantry sacrificing itself to clear a path for the panzers.

German right flank - panzers forward!
The Guards holding fast as the Germans advance
The German rear, artillery preparing to blast the defenders
German start line showing the whole table

On the German left massed panzers advance across the wire, following a path which had been covered by Allied AT before the bombardment. With no minefields and only infantry in their path there is little to stop them. Allies reserves are disastrously late, arriving first on turn three and only in dribs and drabs. This was to be crucial...

Panzers force the gap on the German left
With the Allied infantry cleared, the panzers advance

At last the Allied reserves begin to arrive. It looked far too late with the panzers within one move of the objective but the Valentines and 6pdr portees worked wonders, stopping the panzers and plugging the narrow gap with burning wrecks. Successive waves of panzers then foundered on the trenches to be destroyed by the few remaining 25pdrs firing over open sights.

The Valentines come to the rescue with empty gun pits everywhere
A growing park of buring tanks and the German breakthrough grinds to a halt

Meanwhile on the German right the panzers and pioneers have forced another gap and advanced. The panzers halted and engaged in an ineffective long range gun duel with late arriving Grants but made a critical difference in preventing the tanks advancing to support the objective. The pioneers broke into the trench network and advanced lengthwise under cover. They finally threw the Aussies out but not before they had destroyed a platoon of panzers with pure guts and sticky bombs.

Desperately weak pioneers have the objective. Destroyed Valentines abound

Too little too late the Grants and carriers arrive en masse. Appalling Allied reserve rolls mean the Germans have ground their way onto the objective with reduced opposition. Another turn would have seen an Allied victory due to increasing numbers with all but two of the dozen panzers brewed up.

In the end it wasn't to be an Allied victory. What had looked a certainty for the Germans swung back in Allied favour before a critical turn handed victory to Rommel.

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