The Action at Djebel Sahariana was a fictional encounter played with RFCM’s PBI in the evening of our summer games day. We are going back to it so this is just an introduction.
Earlier we had played a vigorous treatment of Paraitakene using Neil Thomas’s AMW (and Treb’s much admired plastic soldiers), and a trial WSS game which everyone enjoyed. While I set up the PBI game, the others had a quick look at my emerging generic battleships game (of which there will be more to come, I hope) …
Operation Torch throws Tunisia into chaos with the French governor uncertain who to trust. The Germans exploit the uncertainty and airlift in 3 divisions, occupying the French colony. In the mountains of Tunisia, French units are ordered to defend their localities if Axis troops cross the line.
At Djebel Sahariana an Italian desert patrol is caught attempting to refuel at a French logistic dump.
(the PBI table … each of the big squares is 4 PBI squares in the 8 by 8 battlefield. The Italians are arranged on table, the French start from the left edge … scenario rules provide arrival points for reinforcements)
The French force is a typical Vichy infantry outfit without much in the way of support weapons (which were severely limited by the agreements made with Germany) … 2 1930s style rifle platoons, a small HMG section and a Company HQ with a Brandt light mortar and an A/T rifle acquired from the Italians – but mostly more riflemen …
Probably because defending airfields was a core task, Vichy troops in North Africa had a useful supply of mobile AA units, and this company has access to some typical twin 25mm auto-canons mounted on American trucks.
It has also cobbled together some ‘armour’ … a Laffly 80, an S15 TOE armoured car and a trusty old (or was that rusty old …) FT17.
The Italian auto-sahariana unit is fully motorised and though small has a daunting array of automatic weapons and small caliber guns. The unit is built around the dedicated AS.42 all terrain vehicle
Configured as a PBI force, the patrol has 2 units of small carriers with mixed fixed weapons and carrying 6 foot groups. There is a self propelled gun platoon and a porteed infantry gun …
The Company Commander has an HMG and a Flamethrower in his liberated truck, as well as the radio man and code books. In addition, the Company has the enthusiastic assistance of a small unit of local tribal auxiliaries who dislike the French (3 rifles, 2 LMG + a rifle PC).
The Italians were allowed to start with a patrol plus the support troops on table in the central areas, plus the tribesmen in an ambush. The second patrol would come on as reinforcements.
The French (2 players) came on from behind the railway lines in two groups … a rifle platoon each plus either the Company Commander or the HMG platoon.
The supporting vehicles will come on as reinforcements, and will probably be vital if the French are to stand a chance against the small but well equipped Italians …
Most of the early phases of the game were indecisive as players fumbled for rules and shot ineffectively at each other. The tribesmen were set up right in front of them (almost as a forlorn hope 😉 ) and succeeded in slowing the attack …
But towards the end of the session, preparatory fire for a speculative attack hit everyone in a section of buildings and the French were fortuitously able to get a foot hold.
To be continued