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Beda Fomm, 1941


The Second World War, Battlegroup Panzergrenadier, 10mm

This wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever played. The Italian player forgot to bring the terrain mat, and so we were reduced to playing on a bare wooden table, with green hills covered in muslin bags we found in a store cupboard, by way of terrain,. Still, this game was important for another reason. It was played in Orkney, in the Venue, the new Monday evening venue of the local wargames club in the islands. Over on the other table a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings were playing some sort of sci-fi fantasy nonsense, but three of us stalwartly got on with a proper wargame, set in Libya in 1941. This was the Beda Fomm scenario from Dave Brown’s new Mediterranean scenario book for Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier. Now, I likeBgPzGren, but I hadn’t played the rules for a while, and the other two guys had only played a couple of games of it last year. Still, we opted for a fairly ambitious scenario – at least it was if we planned to be finished in three hours – the length of the “club night”.003The Italians had to cross the table, and a smaller British blocking force was out to stop them. The Italian player wasn’t stupid though, so he lingered out of effective range, mustering his troops who entered the table in dribs and drabs. When he felt he had enough kit he began his advance, leading the way with some empty trucks, crewed by some very brave Italian drivers. As he suspected they promptly ran into a minefield. Only one truck passed through it unscathed, and was promptly halted by the British infantry beyond. The trucks would bog down if they went off road, so the infantry in the other trucks debussed, and began a more methodical advance. Even then two squads fell victim to the minefield before the Italian player worked out just how far into the desert it extended.004The Italian tanks headed towards the British right flank, and soon got into a duel with hull-down British armour, supported by a 2-pounder. The crew of the British anti-tank gun were eventually driven back by concentrated fire, but a couple of Italian tanks were left burning in the desert. By then the two infantry formations had come into actions, and a hefty firefight ensued, with neither side gaining much advantage, but suffering a few casualties and retreats. Then, throwing caution to the wind, Chris the British player rolled his tanks off their hill, in a bit to shorten the range. The Italian tanks merely stopped where they were and opened fire, and soon both British cruiser tanks were knocked out, plus a supporting Vickers light tank. This left the British infantry without much in the way of support, and the game was clearly tipping in the Italian’s favour.001Remember, the Italian objective was to exit the far table edge, so Alan ignored what remained of the British infantry, pinning them with his infantry while his armour – medium tanks, tankettes and an armoured car – began to bypass the British line, and head towards the far table edge. At that point we had to pack up, but it was clear the Italians had – somewhat miraculously – got the better of this little engagement. It was all rather enjoyable, but next time we might try out a simpler scenario, with less opportunity for Chris to complain at length in the pub afterwards, moaning about the improbability of a 2-pdr. round failing to comprehensively knock out an Italian light tank at close range…

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