ASL AAR: Half A Chance (56)

The terrain at Bir El Gubi was a harsh, unforgiving expanse of desert ...

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Historical Prelude

On the morning of November 19, 1941, the 22nd Armoured Brigade of the British Eighth Army, under the command of Brigadier William H. E. “Rusty” Willison, advanced towards the Italian positions held by the Ariete Armoured Division. The Ariete Division, composed largely of tank units, was under the leadership of General Mario Balotta. It was the first major engagement where Italian armored forces faced their British counterparts on an open battlefield.

The terrain at Bir El Gubi was a harsh, unforgiving expanse of desert, which presented both an obstacle and an opportunity for the combatants. The British, equipped with Crusader and Stuart tanks, expected a swift victory over what they perceived as inferior Italian forces. However, the Italians, entrenched and well-prepared, mounted a stout defense.

The initial British assault encountered fierce resistance. The Italian M13/40 tanks, although outclassed individually by the British Crusaders, were effectively utilized in defensive positions. Artillery and anti-tank guns bolstered the Italian defenses, inflicting significant losses on the advancing British armor. The British, undeterred, launched multiple assaults throughout the day, but each was met with staunch Italian resistance.

As the sun set on November 19, the battlefield at Bir El Gubi was littered with the smoldering wrecks of tanks from both sides. The British had failed to dislodge the Italian defenders and suffered considerable losses in men and machinery. The Italians, for their part, had demonstrated unexpected tenacity and tactical acumen, earning a rare defensive victory in the North African theater.

This battle, while not decisive in the grand scheme of the North African Campaign, highlighted the evolving nature of desert warfare. It underscored the importance of armor and anti-tank capabilities, as well as the need for effective reconnaissance and coordination in the vast desert expanses. For the Italians, Bir El Gubi was a moment of pride, showcasing their ability to hold their ground against a determined and well-equipped adversary.

In the broader context, the Battle of Bir El Gubi set the stage for subsequent engagements in Operation Crusader. It demonstrated to the Allies that the Axis forces in North Africa, including the Italians, were capable of mounting formidable defenses. This realization prompted adjustments in Allied tactics and strategy, ultimately contributing to the dynamic and fluid nature of the North African Campaign.


AAR By Peyton & BrandonMay 26, 2024

ASL AAR: Half A Chance (56)

Module: Hollow Legions
Scenario Publisher: MMP
Scenario Design: Pat Jonke
Date: November 19, 1941
Location:
Bir El Gubi, Libya
Attacker (Brandon): British – Elements of 3rd County of London Yeomanry
Defender (Peyton): Italians – Reinforced elements of the III Battaglione, 8th Reggimento Bersaglieri with elements of VII Battaglione Carri M

Set-Up:

The British set up in two groups toward the top half of their setup area. The Italians spread out their guns and bore sighted out as far as possible (~15-16 hexes).

Action Summary:

The British entered on Turn 1 and managed to narrowly avoid the hidden boresighted hexes for the Italian guns with most of their tanks. However, two tanks wandered into the LOS and boresighted hex of an Italian ATG. This, coupled with a rate of fire (ROF) on the gun, led to two quick deaths to the British tank line. However, soon after this success, the gun breaks and eventually is eliminated.

ASL AAR: Half A Chance (56)
Two British tanks fall to an AT gun, but then it breaks …

On Turn 2, the Italian tank reinforcements entered as 5 platoons from the north, ready to take on the British tanks head-on. However, an entire platoon of Italian tanks was wiped out upon entry.

ASL AAR: Half A Chance (56)
The smell of pasta and wine intensifies …

The British aimed for the middle tanks of the three tank platoons, eliminating most of these central tanks. This led to gaps in the line that slowed the Italian advance. It took two full turns for the Italians to get in range of the British and the shoot-out began that would last the remainder of the game. Italian tanks quickly fell and for a while, it looked like the British would succeed in their mission. However, the Italian officer’s OBA stunned two British tanks. There was a lot of unlucky die rolls for the British and very lucky die rolls for the Italians. The British ended up losing more tanks to a single Italian tank – the Adamantium Tank. This tank was hit at least twenty times and each time, the round was either a dud or it dinked.

Ultimately, the Adamantium Italian Tank killed off enough British armor that the British could not meet their exit DVP objective – resulting in a pyrrhic victory for the Italians.

ASL AAR: Half A Chance (56)
The tank graveyard in the desert near Bir El Gubi, Libya

Peyton’s Thoughts:

This scenario was a grind. My opponent had a really tough time with the VASL dice bot and for some reason, I was rolling out of my mind. This was definitely a good example of a DTO scenario, where the die rolls matter and the combat between AFVs is brutal. We like DTO, mainly for these larger tank battles that can occur.

GET TO THE CHOPPA…!!! Get To The Choppa...!!!


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