Second World War, Battlegroup Panzergenadier, 20mm
Last week we saw a Colonial Italian army fighting amid the jungles of Africa. This week it was the turn of their grandchildren, who were busy fighting a rearguard action against a British “reconnaissance in force”. The game was laid on by my pal Chris Henry, who supplied all the figures. My sole contribution was a brace of Rolls Royce armoured cars, which were about two decades out of date. The terrain came from Kevan Gunn, master of the home-made terrain tile.The armoured cars from the 11th Hussars led the way, scouting out the Oer Misus Oasis, then waving the rest of the British column forward. The secret Italian objective was to defend a battery of heavy field guns, whose transport was racing up the road to collect them and drag them to safety. All the British had to do was take them.However, just as they approached the gully where they were sitting an Italian force appeared – a platoon of M13/40 tanks, supported by three infantry companies – one of which was a unit of Italian colonial askaris. That’s one of the tanks above, with the Italian tank commander wondering how on earth he can remove the large “supressed” marker from his engine deck. Faced with tanks, the armoured cars hid behind the oasis and left their supporting platoon of cruiser tanks to clear the road.The armoured cars then spotted a company of Italian infantry trying to sneak up to the oasis, and engaged them with their machine guns. The infantry were badly mauled and the survivors fell back. the cars advanced, only to stumble over the field guns which fired over open sites – knocking out armoured car “Annie”. Cries of “Pinkie bought one” went up from the British side of the table. Next it was the turn of one of the cruisers to erupt in flames, this time from a lucky shot from one of the Italian tanks.Things were looking bleak for King and Country when the RAF turned up. A lone hurricane flew in and strafed the Italian artillery position, knocking out one of the guns. Meanwhile the British infantry – a carrier platoon and a company of Sikhs – advanced towards the bluffs which screened the guns. Despite losses they forced the Italians back and claimed the positions.Finally the Italian artillery tows turned up – only to bog down as soon as they turned off the road. It was at that point that Chris as the Italian commander decided to call it a day. Despite some gloriously biased adjudication from the “umpire” (who changed his surname from Trail to Trailini for the day), the British were awarded the victory. Still, it was a hard-fought little scrap, and the Italians performed better than anyone expected. As ever we were using Dave Brown’s excellent Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier rules.