Home Forums WWII Hell on Wheels, Operation Torch Fight #2

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    Avatar photoJust Jack


    0930 Local Time
    8 November 1942
    Near Port Lyautey, French Morocco

    “@#$%,” exclaimed Major Reisman, frustrated with the slow pace of operations being carried out by his combined arms task force. They’d landed nearly five hours ago; sure, confusion about what posture the French defenders would adopt caused apprehension, dismal weather caused delays and units to become intermixed, and then there was the natural hesitation and fear of the unknown caused by green troops seeing their first combat, but the Major was severely nonplussed, nonetheless. On the Task Force’s left, Dog Company had run into very stiff resistance, but dogged determination by its commander (Captain May, who was awarded a Bronze Star w/V for his combat leadership in the battle) led to the Yanks carrying the day, while on the right, Easy Company had the good fortune to land opposite a French unit that was only too happy to cast aside its weapons and surrender (despite the threats of retribution from their Commandant).

    But that was exactly the point: following Dog Company’s victory, Major Reisman had ordered Easy Company to rush forward and seize the back end (east) of the town of Mehdi, thus bottling up the French garrison there. But that was over two hours ago, and here was Captain Kirkland, Easy’s commander, still standing on the landing beach! “What the hell are you doing, Captain! And why aren’t you behind Mehdi by now!!!???” “Sir! We’re still attempting to untangle the units and…” “Look here, Kirkland! If you want to keep those Captain’s bars you will drop whatever nonsense you’re up to, grab the nearest men with guns you can find, and go, secure the @#$%ing east end of that @#$%ing town! Do you understand me?” “Yessir!” And off Captain Kirkland went…

    The table, north is up. The town of Mehdi stretches across the top of the table, with Hill 27 at bottom left, Hill 32 at bottom right, and sheer bluffs present at top right.

    The Americans are bunched into the southwestern (bottom left) corner. The French garrison of two rifle platoons, their CO, and the ATG are in the town, right up against the northwestern table edge (top left), with the MG and Mortar holding Hill 32 in the southeast (bottom right) and the Laffly armored car sitting astride the hardball road in the northeast (top right, between the bluffs).

    The concept here is this: the French garrison in the town is caught completely off guard, expecting a head-on attack from Easy Company (which is just off camera to the west-northwest, or top left), with heavy weapons support in the southeast (bottom right) and a (very small) armored reserve in the northeast (top right). But the threat is not coming from ahead of them, it’s coming from their left flank, and they are caught with their pants down!

    But all is not great for the Americans: Major Reisman’s intent was for Captain Kirkland’s force to drive east and then north to seal off the back (east) end of Mehdi, pocketing the garrison, but the good Major didn’t allow Captain Kirkland to properly organize his forces, so he’s got a mixture of troops from different companies and, more importantly, his infantry platoons are understrength and lacking transport. So Captain Kirkland intends on pushing his mechanized forces east and north to encircle Mehdi, but his infantry are going to have to take a more direct route, lest they arrive well after the battle is over…

    The American attack jumps off and immediately runs into trouble.

    “Sacre bleu!” The French commander, over the initial shock of Amis appearing on his undefended left flank, makes a tactical decision: this is no longer an attack-defense battle, it is a fighting withdrawal! The French commander’s goal is now to get as many of his men safely to the rear (off table to the east).

    French armor pops out of its ambush positions and makes its presence felt…

    With their infantry leaving town, the French anti-tank gunners spike their gun and haul ass down the street, looking to escape the encirclement. Will they make it?

    Or can the Yankee armor (bottom left) slam the door shut?

    A desperate and bloody melee (look at all those casualties!) breaks out as the advancing US infantry closes with the French rear-guard position…

    But you’re gonna have to check the blog to see how it turned out 😉

    Next fight coming soon!


    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Nice one!  I was actually a bit surprised the Vichy put up that much of a fight.  ’twas a good brawl.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoTony S

    Nice! Again, I’m very impressed with your table and figures.  They look marvelous.

    A fighting withdrawal scenario is always hard to do, but in the few times I’ve been in one, I’ve always found it very interesting as the defender.  The French seemed to do very well, although by the skin of their teeth.

    And absolutely tanks should be able to be suppressed by MG fire.  I remember reading one eyewitness WW2 tanker account years ago, that they would immediately back up and seek cover should they get hit with MGs, on the theory that the next round might not be 7.92mm, but rather 88mm.

    Avatar photoJust Jack

    Hey Darby, glad to see you, hope all is well!  Yeah, the French have been quite stout (just wait til you see the next one!); not following history very well, am I? 😉  I didn’t intend on making them very tough, but then, once I got into the games, I couldn’t help myself, so not very historical but a whole lotta fun 😉

    Thank you so much Tony, I really appreciate it!  Yes, the fighting withdrawal scenario can be a tough one to pull off; I’ve had a few that worked well, and a few that didn’t.  I can recall one a couple years ago when I was playing the side conducting the fighting withdrawal and my opening round of fire was just absolutely vicious, really ripped holes in the enemy’s line, made the need to withdraw sort of pointless…

    And yes, popular opinion seems to be with me in allowing MGs to pin/suppress armored vehicles.  We’ve all read about plenty of times when that wasn’t the case, but there are plenty of WWII fights where tanks, particularly unescorted tanks, were driven off by opposing infantry, many times without even much of a fight.


    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    Thanks for posting this one Jack, it was very exciting, got quite involved in wondering how many of the French soldiers would escape!

    Avatar photoJust Jack

    My pleasure, John, and thank you.

    You’ve got to be laughing at me; my intent was to follow ‘real-life’ much more closely, to play three fights where the French soldiers’ hearts really weren’t in it, just to say my Task Force is ‘blooded,’ but then I get the toys on the table and lose all control, rip off a string of seven knock-down, drag out fights in Morocco…

    The good news is I’ve since pushed into Tunisia for another six fights so far (as part of ‘Blade Force,’ before being pulled out of the line prior to Sidi Bou Zid, Kasserine, and El Guettar), I no longer have to contend with the idea of battling a foe not totally committed to the fight (though it will pop up once again with the Italians when the Task Force reaches Sicily)!

    Hope all is well.



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