Switch Theme:

Pittsfield Club, Da Stabba in a da Backa, FoW French vs. Italians  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
Author Message

Forum adverts like this one are shown to any user who is not logged in. Join us by filling out a tiny 3 field form and you will get your own, free, dakka user account which gives a good range of benefits to you:
  • No adverts like this in the forums anymore.
  • Times and dates in your local timezone.
  • Full tracking of what you have read so you can skip to your first unread post, easily see what has changed since you last logged in, and easily see what is new at a glance.
  • Email notifications for threads you want to watch closely.
  • Being a part of the oldest wargaming community on the net.
If you are already a member then feel free to login now.

Made in us
Storm Trooper with Maglight


Da Stabba in a da Backa
June 1940 – The Italian Invasion of France
Or how Mounted Cavalry and Barbed Wire shouldn’t mix….

(Writeup by Mark, Pictures by Russel, posted in white font due to a complaint about the last report)

In June 1940 Mussolini declared war on France. His armies leapt across the frontier and then promptly dug in. The French, with great élan, counterattacked.

We set the game up at Ed’s wargamer heaven. The Italian position was one foot in from the eastern edge of the table. The entire 10 foot front was covered in two lines of trenches, with a line of barbed wire across the length of the table. There were three objectives, a northern village (defended by Italian Fusilieri), a center crossroads and a southern bridge, each defended by a company of Bersaglieri. Each company had a battery of artillery (75s for the Bersaglieri, 100s for the Fusilieri). In reserve was an Italian Compania Carro – a very, very light armored company. Italians had total air superiority, total of 3200 points.

The French were on the attack. They came on with a Compagnie d’Infanterie, un Escadron de Fusillers, un Escadron de combat Cavalrie Legere, un Escadron de Combat Cavalrie et un Escadron de Combat Cuirassee --- five companies: foot infantry, mobile infantry, light tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks. Fighter cover only. Total, 3800 points – but all coming on at once….and with a foot-wide rolling barrage marching ahead of them in one section of the field.

Jack, Grady and Bob took the French. Jack took the Dragoons (the mobile infantry) , which included two squadrons of MOUNTED Spahis (yes, on horses, sabers and pennants and all), another of dragoons on motorcycles and two more in trucks. He also had horse-drawn 75s and 47mm AT guns. Jack took the north, heading for Russell and the weak Italian infantry (the Fusilieri); the barrage hit Russell’s troops on turns two, three and four, inflicting heavy losses and wiping out the barbed wire barrier on a foot-wide section..

Bob took the French Infantry on the left; he had a lot of foot soldiers, supported by a battery each of 75s and 100s, plus mortars. Grady sent most of the light armor to back him up, and took the medium tanks (the Somuas) to back up Jack, then drove up the middle down a hedge-lined road with the heavy tanks (the Char Bs, the Cuirassee squadron).

Ed had the center Italian force; Matt the southern Italians.

The initial French advance was spectacular – it looked like a movie of world war one -- lines of French infantry, waves of tanks, batteries of horse-drawn artillery racing onto the table, carts dragging mortars, light supply carriers following behind….quite awesome.

And quite a target for three batteries of fine Italian artillery – or at least it would have been, had the Italian guns managed to hit anything the first time.

The French had a long walk. From the edge of the table marching on was four feet to reach the Italian line. To win the French had to take and hold at least two of the three objectives OR break the Italian army. All the Italians needed to do to win was not lose…and they had airpower, which showed up four out of five times it was called for…although three of those times it showed up with a single ineffectual plane…the fourth time, tho, was a charm, as a full three-plane flight zeroed in on Bob’s 100mm battery and took out half of it.

The French roared on – especially Jack. Using a small woods (one of the few places to hide in that wide expanse of no man’s lane) he managed to skillfully find a chink in the Italian lines. He launched a mounted cavalry charge into an Italian position – a walled garden butting out from the wire -- took it, knocked back the Italian platoon, and then regrouped back into the woods. He brought up some dragoons on foot to clear the wire in front of an Italian light mortar battery, and although the dragoons died on the wire, they cleared two gaps – which the Spahis charged through again!

The mortars were ridden down. The Spahis fell back, consolidating in the woods.

Game for a third ride, Jack waited until Grady came up with the Somua medium tanks to take out some Italian armored cars that showed up, and then HUZZAH! The Spahis made one more charge –

Into the trench line. Half of them died to Italian defensive fire. The other half closed, slash slash slash, down goes one Italian platoon, its remnants fleeing. Breakthrough to the second line of trenches, sabers gleaming, slash slash slash, another Fusilieri platoon flees.
Having charged so far into the Italian line, Jack had no way to make it all the way back to the cover of the woods with the last few bases of his two squadrons, but he tried….
And there, in the square of the northern town, the last of the French cavalry were gunned down by Italian light tankettes.

But Jack and Grady were not finished with Russell…the Somuas came on, cleared the town, took the hill next to it, and rolled over it – right into the face of Russell’s 100mm guns…

That is where Grady’s armored attack stopped…..and the town looked French (he had even braved skill test bog rolls to ram into the rubble of the buildings with his tanks to hunt down the last of the Italian infantry and arty observers in it).

But Russell was also not done yet…he took his remaining tankettes .. tiny little mini tanks armed with two machine guns and cut behind Grady to go for Jack’s guns…he took out an anti-tank battery, which put the dragoon escadron below half strength – but Jack passed morale, and his 75s ripped into the tankettes…brewing up two and bailing out the last. Grady also fired on that lone tankette…but failed to destroy it…

That little tankette crewman got back in, and roared back into the town to contest the objective….

In the center, Grady’s giant Char B tanks rolled on like a steel wave. Shot after shot from Ed’s guns bounced off them. They crossed the wire, they roared into and over the trenches, they went head to head with Bersaglieri, AT guns and even Italian artillery…unstoppable, they seized the central objective. Ed tried to launch a desperate charge with Bersaglieri wielding grenades…but the Italian infantry, in their wisdom, refused to charge the French armor.

On the southern front, Bob’s steady advance came under tremendous fire from Matt’s guns…and Matt even went out of his lines to occupy a graveyard to close with the French. That platoon paid for its folly, as Bob brought up his light armor….but then the Italian “tanks” (for lack of a better word, light 11/39 tanks, with 37mm guns and neglible armor) came into the fight. It was the one place on the table where Italian armor could take on French armor on anything like an equal fight … as Bob had only FCM cavalry tanks and AMR-35 recce armored cars….the armored cars died fast, but the FCMs stayed and fought the Italian tanks to a standstill. Bob’s infantry tried to advance across the no-man’s land, but even with substantial mortar and artillery fire pouring down on them, Ed’s Italian machine guns stopped that advance cold.

We fought for two nights – two consecutive Mondays. (Matt was sick the second Monday, so Ed took over his units as well as his own, otherwise, everybody else was there).
We went until 9pm the second Monday (last night, the 17th). The French had until 9pm to win…and they came sooooooooo close.

At the top of the last turn – our 11th over two nights – the French took Russel’s town and the central crossroads…Ed attempted to contest the center, but his counterattack failed its morale test for infantry to charge armor, so that gave the French the center. Bob was no where close to the southern bridge, so that went Italian.

And in the north, in the town where Jack’s Spahis had so valiantly charged three times, where Grady’s tanks had battered into buildings, where dragoons had thrown themselves onto the wire to clear lanes for the cavalry….a single Italian tankettee sat in the village square, its crew defiantly spattering machinegun bullets in the general direction of France….

And twisted the knife to make the stabba in a da backa a mortal blow….

It was a close close close game….the Italians gaining a technical victory by holding one objective and contesting a second. Russell had lost most of his Fusilleri company; the Italians had lost half of their armor (most of it on Russell’s front, where the light stuff was soooo overmatched against Somua and Renault and Hotchkiss tanks). Ed and Matt’s commands had suffered significant but not mortal losses. French losses were severe, Jack’s dragoons having been knocked below half (but they did pass their morale), Bob’s command had taken some serious losses. Of the armor, the light tank company was in decent shape, the Somuas had lost a third and the Char B’s were one tank from taking a morale check….

It was a great game – and everyone agreed with Grady’s acclamation as Jack for “most valuable player” -- his three mounted cavalry charges, none of which in theory should have worked but did, were among the most memorable moments of the game --- but as Jack said, when you are on an assault, you assault…and with combined arms, good use of cover and a little luck….well, the French may have lost the battle, but their honor was saved!

Vive la France! Vive Les Spahis Algerien! Vive Jack!

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2008/11/19 02:56:39

...one amongst untold billions.
Forum Index » Historical Miniature Games: WW1 to Modern
Go to: