I Ain’t Been Shot Mum: Gela July 11, 1943 Scenario

gelaWe continued our play through Operation Husky and the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 this past weekend at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY. We’re working our way through the events of July 11th in the Sicilian Weekend book by Too Fat Lardies for their I Ain’t Been Shot Mum rules for 15mm World War II play.

HuskyMap2Operation Husky, July-August 1943 (Gela in green)

The scenario represents the northeast section of the town of Gela where ferocious fighting had taken place the day before in the early actions of the Allied invasion of Sicily. The table was set up with a couple dozen buildings from a variety of manufacturers, including JR Miniatures, Battlefront, Mark IV Miniatures, Miniature Building Authority and Games of War. The occupying US troops all began hidden in  Gela with the Italians arriving on blinds at the opposite end of the table over a small railroad cut, bridge and road surrounded by open farm fields dotted with trees. The objective was simple: the Italians had to take back this corner of Gela and the Americans had to hold what they had fought so hard for the previous day.

Sicilianweekendcover‘Sicilian Weekend’ by Too Fat Lardies for their I Ain’t Been Shot Mum WWII rules

The Americans deployed in well-defended positions in the town with two platoons of rifles and light machine gun squads perched in buildings. A combat engineer platoon armed with a 37mm M3 anti-tank gun in tow sat hidden along the main street through town. Off board, 4.2 inch M2 mortars and 105 mm M2A1 howitzers from the 33rd Field Artillery Battalion were available as support to be called in by the captain from the company HQ perched in the tall building at the center of town. Tough and dug into great positions, the Americans looked to have a clear advantage.

IMG_5651The tabletop battlefield for Gela

As in the previous scenario southeast of Butera, the Italians again represented a massing of manpower from the Livorno Division with six small rifle platoons and a machine gun support platoon. Accompanying them this time was Mobile Group E compromised of light French Renault R35 tanks and pre-war Italian CV33 Tankettes. What the Italians lacked in a starting position on the field and quality of equipment and troops, they certainly made up for in volume as they began the game arriving on three blinds per turn.

IMG_5652Italians arrive northeast of Gela

As the Italians neared the town, the Americans bided their time and sought not to reveal their positions until the approaching forces were nearly on top of their positions. Approaching in the open, the Italian blinds were spotted in the open to reveal tanks and infantry closing in at the center and edge of town. With IABSM’s randomly card-activated units mechanic, my US commander was perhaps overly cautious in waiting a turn or two too long to start getting the American cards into the deck. This all but negated off-board US artillery support for the game and allowed the Italian attackers to get dangerously close to seizing a quick victory with nary a shot fired.

IMG_5653Italians swarm the edge of the town and the hidden American positions

On the Italian left, one of their early shots fired down the street took out a crew member of the M3 anti-tank gun, forcing the remaining American crew to haul it back around a corner to safety. In answer, the US engineers opened fire at close range and threw back the initial push by the Italians on the American right. At the center of town, US rifles, machine guns and bazookas firing from within a massive central building ripped into the Italians marching forward in the open. Under heavy fire at their center, the Italians fled for cover to either side as their approach was slowed and their returned rifle and tank shots had little effect on the Americans.

IMG_5654Italians encounter fire from US engineers defending from buildings

IMG_5655Italian infantry duck for cover as they receive heavy combined arms fire from the Americans in the large central building

IMG_5656Italian armor repositions away from American fire

With nowhere to go but forward, an Italian rifle platoon at their left assaulted the US engineers holding down the American right from a building. The Americans took heavy casualties and were thrown backward from their position into the open street to the rear. In response, returned fire from engineers in a nearby building flung the Italians back from their brief victory.

IMG_5657Italian rifles push a US engineer platoon from the building position

Back at the center, another round of combined arms fire from the Americans in the large central building continued to feed shots into the Italians, forcing them to continue to slide into cover to either side of the open field outside town. While pushing the Italians back with casualties and shocking fire provided a short-term positive for the US, it also allowed the Italians the chance to redeploy and set themselves for a move into town on the American left.

IMG_5658Italians slide from the center toward the American left

Meanwhile on the US right, the surviving engineers were chewed up by additional fire in the street which stalled them out of the action. With the main street into town wide open, the first Italian tank positioned itself to roll down the cobblestones. Waiting in the distance was the American anti-tank gun with a clear field of fire down the street looking to stave off an armored assault into the heart of Gela.

IMG_5659Italian armor sneaks around the American right as the US 37mm M3 anti-tank gun waits in the distance

With the Italians abandoning the center, the fight moved to the flanks. One US rifle platoon moved to reposition into buildings further to the edge of town on the American left as two Italian platoons, one already having suffered heavy casualties, snuck between buildings for cover. The American engineers on their right sought to hold down the approaching Italian tanks and three rifle platoons, and the US anti-tank gun crew had yet to fire a shot. The American rifles, machine guns and bazooka crews who had caused so much damage at the center were facing a choice of redeployment as their Italian targets skirted to either side.

IMG_5644Italians mass for an attack on the US engineers

Several hours in, we called the game. The small-scale tactical nature of IABSM is highly contingent on when a platoon or command ‘big man’ card activates. With so many Italian cards in the deck, a run of activated Italian unit cards may have provided the push they needed to get to the main street and victory. That said, each US card drawn was continuing to have devastating results on the somewhat weaker Italians, causing casualties and flinging them into reconsidering different routes. The large number of Italian on the field were still poised to match up with the higher quality American troops, although the US had clearly blown an early opportunity to use their off-board artillery effectively. Good and bad command choices had left Gela contested for the day.

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I Ain’t Been Shot Mum: South East of Butera July 11, 1943 Scenario

SicilyJuly1943Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of the island of Sicily, commenced on July 9th 1943 with combined naval, air, airborne and amphibious forces from the United States, England and UK colonial nations attacking a largely Italian force backed by their German allies. Over the next five weeks, the Allies took the arid and rocky island of Sicily and opened up the Mediterranean for the eventual invasion of mainland Italy.

HuskyMapOperation Husky, July-August 1943 (area around Butera in green)

The Sicilian Weekend campaign guide for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum offers 24 scenarios from the opening days of Operation Husky on July 10th and 11th 1943. Like the other scenario books from IABSM publisher Too Fat Lardies, the Sicilian book presents solid historical background and maps, along with force lists and detailed briefings for each side easily adaptable to a number of lines of 15mm WWII miniatures. The scenarios may be played individually or as part of a linked campaign, and so we recently started playing through a few of the Sicily scenarios at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY.

Sicilianweekendcover‘Sicilian Weekend’ by Too Fat Lardies for their I Ain’t Been Shot Mum WWII rules

We began with the eighth scenario in the book, southeast of Butera on the morning of July 11th 1943. Members of US 3rd Infantry Division are presented with a simple mission of aggressively pushing through the field to link up with their fellow Americans at Gela. The Italian force from the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the Livorno Division, must hold the invading Americans back.The scenario presents the Italian and American forces each entering the table in column on blinds. The counter attacking Italians rolled in mounted in trucks at one road at the table edge, and the Americans arrived on foot at one end of the table.

IMG_5605Initial forces arrive on the field in the early turns

IMG_5606Italians rush to the battle and deploy from a column of trucks

My first to arrive American machine gunners and bazookas quickly took up position on a rocky hill overlooking the road and a crossroads in the distance. Italian trucks moved in with their heavy weapons likewise leading the away with machine guns and 81mm mortars deploying at the road edge. Initial long range fire from the US machine guns pushed some of the Italian line back over the road. The Italians offered several rounds combined of direct mortar and machine gun fire in return, spraying bullets and landing rounds amid the bunched-up US machine guns. The Americans scooted back over the crest of the hill and the bazookas ran off to meet the other Americans arriving by the road to their right.

IMG_5608American machine guns take Italian mortar fire and fall back

IMG_5607US machine gunners rally back to their positions and pour fire into the Italian lines

 As the heavily-damaged US machine guns rallied, the Italian column continued to advance on the board in force. Four Italian rifle platoons spread out from the road to run at the advancing American column ahead and to cover the crossroads overlooked by two rocky hills. As the Americans moved straight on to meet the Italian front line, a recon platoon accompanied by four bazookas made way for the hills and the Italian flank.

IMG_5609Italian rifle platoons sprint ahead through the open field

IMG_5611A US recon platoon moves to take position atop a hill as Italians deploy at the crossroads

IMG_5612A firefight erupts between two hills as American bazookas hump their way around the Italian flank

IMG_5613The Italian line folds back toward the road under US fire in the field

With an Italian front deployed across the field in several lines and more rifles rushing into the hills at their left, the battle settled into two main firefights. American rifles at the center gradually pushed through the field toward the overwhelming number of Italians. Between the two hills on the Italian left, Italian and American rifles echoed back and forth. As gunfire was exchanged across the lines, US bazookas attempted to run to engage the Italian trucks which had made their way to safety beyond the battle at the rear. Despite moderately mounting Italian casualties, the Americans just could not break through.

The US forces ultimately ceded the field to the Italians. Even with superior command quality, the initial deployment of the US machine guns had been a bit premature and was not met by the quick arrival of supporting rifle platoons. Rushing them to the hills at the crossroads might have made a difference. The Italians had also managed to get the vast majority of their troops on the board early in the game, and their neatly arranged front line allowed them to angle directly over a defense of the road. In our refighting of the early hours of July 11th, 1943 the massed Italian counterattack had stalled the US invaders southeast of Butera. What awaited at Gela later in the day would unfold in our next battle.

Flames of War: Metropolitan Wargamers Infantry Aces Campaign

MWGInfantry Aces

Two weekends ago we kicked off a Flames of War Infantry Aces campaign at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY.

A friend of the club and organizer of the campaign has created a special Infantry Aces blog to track the campaign’s progress throughout the summer. The site will be updated weekly as the battle unfolds with after action reports, lots of photos and tracking of each player’s progress in the campaign.

While the battle rumbles on, here’s a brief look at the forces we’ve had fun researching, modelling and painting specifically for our campaign for Italy.

Allied Forces

FOWIAAllies

(clockwise from top left) 504th Parachute Infantry, 92nd Infantry “Buffalo Soldiers,” Gurkha Rifles and members of the 2nd New Zealand Division

Our Allied forces are a mixed group from the Road To Rome book and reflect the mutlinational forces which came together in the late war Italy campaign to break the Axis lines. From the United States, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment is bringing their experience to the field after having fought for years from North Africa and Sicily in 1943 to Operation Market Garden to The Battle of The Bulge in 1944. Joining them, are the untested 92nd Infantry Division “Buffalo Soldiers,” the first African-American infantry to fight as wholly-segregated unit in the war.

Allied with the US troops are some unique UK Commonwealth forces. The Indian Gurkha Rifles had a long history in service of the British dating back to the mid-19th-century, and their skill in close combat and rocky terrain would serve them well in Italy. The  2nd New Zealand Division served most of the war in North Africa and hopping around the islands of the Mediterranean until joining the Allied effort to break the Axis lines severing Italy from the rest of Europe.

Axis Forces

germanyia (clockwise from top left) Fallschirmjagers, Hermann Göring troops and Grenadiers

Using the updated Fortress Italy book, our Axis players have fielded some of the classic, war-hardened forces whose mission it was to hold the line against the Allied push up the Italian Peninsula. The 1. Fallschirmjägerdivision in Italy had already proven themselves throughout Europe with wide-ranging early war operations in Denmark and Norway, the Netherlands, Crete and the invasion of the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa.

Two other veteran companies fill out the Axis forces. The Hermann Göring Fallschirmpanzerdivision saw action throughout Europe and Africa before fighting in Italy. Finally, the 362.Infanterie-division had seen a long war (including the Battle of Stalingrad) by the time they joined the final Axis defense of Italy.

The Campaign Begins…

IMG_3685

Recent FOW Infantry Aces campaign action at Metropolitan Wargamers

We’ve got two weeks of campaign games in so far, and playing with small infantry forces of 500 points has been a refreshing break from the larger FOW games in which we all usually play. Special rules, varying troop ratings and small tables clogged with Italian terrain have also added to the challenges and enjoyment we’ve all had so far. There’s a lot of gaming to do as the campaign escalates over the coming weeks to 700 and 900 point companies with added support. Check back frequently for more of the action over at the Infantry Aces Metropolitan Wargamers Italian Flames of War site.