With the British Empire counterattack today, our Desert Campaign started mid-January concluded with a failed attempt to take the Axis main HQ position. A long game this morning where continuous blows from both sides to the enemy had the battle unresolved almost until the last minute, when one of the British infantry platoons (Polish) moral level fell to zero, leaving the Allied side with no other option but to concede defeat.
The scenario today was the third rung of the campaign which corresponded with the "Attack to an Objective Scenario 6" of the Chain of Command main rules book. In this case the objective was the main HQ of the Axis armies located at the oasis of Wad-de-Fak and the prize was to capture Rommel himself! Alas it was not possible despite a daring and aggressive attack of the Empire troops.
The game developed in two different phases. In the first part, the British manoeuvre as per the drill book, with 2 sections in the front one in the rear, closely covered by tanks and with a recce Bren support section ahead to stir the Axis bee-nest and force an early deployment of the enemy.
With the Germans restraining to emerge too early, the progress was fast and in three activations they had covered 2/3rds of the distance towards the enemy position. But as soon as the first Panzer elements hit the table, all resemblance of order disappear and the battle broke (as in the previous scenarios) in two different sub-encounters mostly on the flanks, with the tanks dashing madly from one end to the other to help the infantry but failing to concentrate on one target at a time.
Using as reference the Axis side of the table, the centre and left was covered by the DAK infantry and two Panzers. After the losses last week, the German infantry commander had organised two strong gruppes with LMGs that were put to good use covering the open flat terrain in front of the oasis.
One of the German Panzers in the meantime, filtered on the flank of the British troop chasing one of the Bren recon teams, not before attempting a heroic charge to take the Pz III on the side with the AT Boy rifle... but this Quixotic action ended in tears (...and flames).
A confusing battle followed on this side of the table, in which the British platoon commander (Captain Robinson, aka "Smokey") ordered to put as usual a generous amount of smoke all over the table to cover the attack. The problem was that when the turn ended and the smoke was lifted, it caught most of the British sections naked in the open and after a few turns of murderous LMG fire, their force moral level started to crack rapidly.
At the other side, the Indians made an attempt to take an Italian defended redoubt ion top of a hill, also using thick smoke screens and the off-board artillery unit. But as with the Polish, the end of the turn caught a section in the open in the sights of the Italian Bredas, that was finally dispersed when a Pz IV overrun the remaining infantry.
With losses mounting, the infantry decided to pull back a little and let the tanks do the job of taking on their own the objective. The last straw was the destruction of a second Bren carrier by one of the Panzers, breaking the nerves of the Polish platoon who decided to break out the battle when its force moral fell to zero.
This was enougn for the other British players to conclude that it was going to be almost impossible to win the battle and decided to throw the towel, conceding defeat. As the whole campaign was to last 6 turns and this was the fifth game, it also marked the end of the campaign, concluded with an Axis victory.
Rommel's lucky star worked again, being saved from the teeth of defeat in the very last game and almost last minute. Congratulation to the winners! And also to the British players who have conducted a glorious game along the campaign