Monday, October 9, 2017

Sittangbad revisited...

  • II NZ Corps in pursuit: elements of 4th Light Armoured Brigade
    with 23rd NZ Battalion supported by 3 batteries
     of the 4th (NZ) Field Regiment
    The Allied pursuit, after Alamein, across the deserts of North Africa, was, if not speedy, at least relentless.  Almost nowhere could the Panzerarmee Afrika establish itself for a protracted defence.  Pulling back from El Aghiela, in the southeast corner of the Gulf of Sirte, Feldmarschall Rommel found, at the end of December, 1942,  that a bottleneck had developed at the small town of Sittangbad.  A great deal of equipment and fuel had been accumulated there, and, as a brief overnight deluge of rain left in spate the Wadi Wazir, that crossed the road west of the town, the bridge over it was the only route available in that direction.

This square grid map has been adapted from the hex-grid map for the same scenario in Bob Cordery's Developing the Portable Wargame book.  This has included the field works and barbed wire as added there.  However, I have added in the small rise east of the salt marsh that existed in the original Young and Lawford book, Charge!  

Leaving Hauptmann Johann von Herzog to supervise the withdrawal and rearguard, the Feldmarschall retired westwards along the via Balbia. The hauptmann was none too pleased with his assignment. His battlegroup, drawn from the exiguous remnants of 21st Panzer Division lay drying out after the overnight rainstorm about the hamlet of Bir Isen, a kilometre or so east of Sittangbad.  The town itself was garrisoned by a small group from the same Division, under the command of Captain Sapten.  Further to the east the leading elements of the pursuing force, from the recently constituted 2nd New Zealand Corps, lay not too far distant - possibly only three or four kilometres.

How Herzog would have preferred a hasty withdrawal out of Sittangbad, across the Wadi and to blow the bridge behind him.  A single hour's respite from pursuit would have been welcome.  But first had to be evacuated the tonnes of fuel, ammunition and equipment before any thought could be given to organising the retreat of his command.  Oberleutnant Fuchs, who had reported the situation to Herzog at his HQ in one of the less demolished hovels in Bir Isen, was rather glad to take the ride back into town whilst Herzog, in no serene state of mind, grimly issued his orders.

Orders of Battle:


Battlegroup: Elements of 21st Panzer Division (Haupt. J von Herzog SP=6)

  • Coy/ 5th Panzer Regiment, Panzer III L medium tank, SP=3
  • Coy/ 200th Assault Gun Unit, Marder III 'medium' AFV, SP=2
  • #1 and #2 Coys, I Bn, 104th Schutzen Regiment, e@ SP=4, total SP = 8
  • 4th MG Company, 104th Rgt SP=2
  • Armoured Car Coy, Sdkfz222, 3rd Reconnaissance Unit, SP=2

    Total Strength Points, incl command = 23
    Rearguard elements of 21st Panzer Division
Sittangbad Garrison: (Kapitan Sapten)
  • #3 coy, I Bn, 104 Schutzen Rgt SP=4
  • PaK Coy, PaK38, 50mm AT gun, 8 MG Battalion SP=2
  • Mortar Coy, 8cm mortar, 8 MG Bn SP=2
  • Infantry Gun Coy, 7.5cm light infantry gun, 8 MG Bn, SP=2
  • Pioneer Coy, 200th Pionier Bn, SP=3.

    Total Strength Points = 13 ..
    Further elements of 21st Pz Div make up the garrison.
Field Defences:
  • 5 squares of field works: SP=5
  • 6 sections of barbed wire: SP=6

    Total Stregth Points = 11
Total Strength Points = 47.
Number of units, including command: 12
Card median = 6


Elements of 2nd NZ Corps (Commanded by Lt-Col Greenlees Corncobb SP=6):..
21st NZ Battalion at the top of the picture; to the lower right,
tanks of the Royal Scots Greys, an armoured car squadron from the Royal Dragoons,
and a motor company of the KRRC.  Lower left is the 4th NZ Field regiment.

Elements, 4th light Armoured Brigade:
    Royal Scots Greys (Armoured Regiment)
         A Sqn - M3 Honey light tank: SP=3
         B Sqn - M4 Sherman medium tank: SP=3
         C Sqn - A15 Crusader III medium tank: SP=3
     A Coy, King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) motor battalion: SP=4
     B Sqn, Royal Dragoons, Daimler II armoured car: SP=2

Elements, 2nd NZ Division, 5th Brigade:
     23rd NZ Battalion
         HQ Coy: 
             Mortar platoon: 3" mortar with carrier: SP=2
             Vickers platoon: MMG: SP=2
             Carrier platoon: SP=2
             AT Gun troop (Attached from 7th AT Rgt), 6pr portee: SP=2
         A, B, C, D Coys, each SP=4.  Total, SP=16
     4th Field Regiment:
             3 Batteries (A,B,C) 25pr field artillery @ SP=2:  SP=6
     7th Engineer Coy: SP=3

Total Strength Points: 54
Number of units, including command = 18
Card median = 9

Allied forces begin off table and may enter only as allowed by the activation cards.
Elements of II NZ Corps in pursuit of DAK, December, 1942.

Special rules:

1. The German pionier company are held by the bridge where they will be assumed to be preparing charges.  They may,. however, be 'activated' for some other task.  To resume this primary task,  they have to return to the bridge, and be 'activated' to begin.

2.  The fuel and ammo supplies supposed to be evacuated will be loaded on trucks that will be lined up, in pairs, along the main road beginning with the exit square.  At the end of each German turn, 1 vehicle will be removed as having driven off.  Spending ONE 'activation point' will allow one further vehicle to be exited.  To simulate the column inching along a crowded highway, the vehicles will be removed from the rear.

3.  The Allies begin the action 'off table', and are brought on only as activated.

4.  The German rearguard begin the action in any of the eight squares indicated in the second map.

5.  The Sittangbad garrison begin the action in any of the 10 squares indicated in the map, with the pioneer company on the bridge square.

To be continued...


  1. Those figures came up quite well ! Looking forward to the next installment and also our coming games


    1. Those Afrika Corps fellows I painted over 20 years ago. Some of the Brits a fair while back, too. But I think touching up the bases was a good idea...

  2. Interesting idea playing Sittangbad as a WW2 game.

    1. We'll soon discover whether it works or not! Of course, from an action involving a few thousands, the scale has been brought down to one of a several hundreds.

  3. Now THAT is compression! Looks like it ought to work though.

    WWII seems an appropriate setting since the inspiration came from WWII Burma. I think the most modern that I've tried might be early 20thC.

    1. Actually it was seeing Bob Cordery's Russian Civil War setting that led me to the idea. I will be supposing that heavy cloud cover will keep off the air power. I don't imagine that is hugely unlikely in North Africa in late December/early January.

  4. I'm looking forward to this battle report!

    1. I haven't fought the action yet. Hope to in the next couple of days...

  5. Nice post
    I have the forces for this
    A bit of painting to be done
    But I want to reply this on my home turf
    Thanks for posting and inspiring!

    1. Cheers, Geordie. I'll keep an eye out for your 'home turf'.

  6. Very interesting adaptation of the scenario!