|General view of the action with Allied armour finally getting by
Bir Isen, though that place remains in German hands. The last of the
supply convoy leaving town.
Although the hamlet of Bir Isen remained untaken, the place was left to the New Zealanders to deal with whilst the 4th Light Armoured Brigade group bypassed the place to press on towards their main objective, Sittangbad itself. This was somewhat problematic for the Sherman squadron, which had to pass close under the walls of Bir Isen. This they did, engaged the machine-gunner garrison at close quarters with HE and MG fire, then continued on past. The PW rules permit breaking off from close assault provided that doesn't land the unit in question into another one. This occasion seems to me a fine use of that feature.
|2nd German Rifle Coy holding off the KRRC before falling
back upon Sittangbad.
Pinned down as they were, the machine gunners were in no position to discomfort B Squadron as they went by, and were soon under attack from the Kiwis' 'A' Coy. Badly depleted (1 SP remaining) as 'A' Coy was, Colonel Corncobb felt it incumbent upon him to lend the weight of his presence to their assault. On the other side of the road, 'C' Coy was still pinned down in front of the village. On the southern flank, 'D' Coy and the Vickers gunners continued to be stymied by fire from the Reconnaissance Unit's armoured cars.
|The 25-pounders deploy, but suddenly
they are out of useful targets!
Before continuing, I feel the need to comment on the 'pin' feature. Now, at first I thought the 'pin' applied only to a unit that took damage, but a check rudely disabused me of that notion. What it meant was that for a considerable time, a close assault was ongoing in the southern half of Bir Isen, with both sides (#1 Schutzen and 'C' Company) pinned down, unable to break off the action. Pinned units can not move, even when hit with a 'Retreat 1 grid area'. whence they take a loss instead. Nor may they spend a turn 'unpinning' whilst still closely engaged.
Frustrating as this was at the time, and I did spend some time after the action thinking about possible changes, I've just about come round to accepting that the thing works just fine as is. Sometimes it is a good idea to take your first thoughts under advisement, and check out what your second, or even third, thoughts tell you. Possibly I found persuasive the suddenness with which the deadlock was resolved.
|The fall of Bir Isen. 'D' Company's sweep
from south to north of the town.
It was the squadron of Shermans that effected the resolution, though the Vickers gunners helped. Emerging from behind the north end of town the Sherman gunners could scarcely ignore the group of armoured cars facing southward. Swift shots up their exhaust pipes, and accurate AP fire from Vickers machine guns swiftly put paid to the Recon Unit's gallant stand. They didn't go down altogether fruitlessly. They had held the Kiwi left flank in play for a long time, even without doing them much damage (1 SP from the MGs, and that only moments before their own demise). The Vickers gunners themselves ran out of luck not long afterwards, the mortars in the town finding their range and wrecking the remains of the platoon.
With nothing to protect their right flank, the Bir Isen garrison found itself attacked from two sides. 'D' Company swarmed over the fences and walls of the village, rolled up the garrison's line in short order as far as the road, and attempted to cross it. After a brief resistance, the German machine-gunners, too, joined their comrades 'in the bag.' After such a prolonged 'sticky' action, in which the Bir Isen garrison by themselves accounted for at least 11 Allied SP, the collapse came remarkably quickly.
|The 6pr portees and engineers arrive. The Dodge truck
is the engineers' transport.
Free from the constraining influence of the enemy-occupied village, the Allied group surged onward. Second Schutzen Coy had briefly engaged the KRRC on the eastern fringes of the Palm grove, before fading back in a withdrawal that was to take them all the way to the entrenchments on the north side of Sittangbad itself. They easily outpaced the KRRC riflemen and 'A' Sqn's Honeys were too distant to catch them up.
|Events after the capture of Bir Isen happen with a rush. The
Allies very soon are approaching Sittangbad itself.
Within an hour or so the pressure was coming down on the town's garrison, augmented as it was by the remains of Herzog's battlegroup. Some time before, the last of the Royal Dragoons' armoured cars had been knocked out. This permitted Second Schutzen Coy to scuttle into the works that had been home to the light infantry gun company, which had pulled pack into the north edge of the town itself. The anti-tank gun company was also freed to engage the approaching Crusaders and Shermans.
|Pressure upon the town's defenders from north and east.
The engineers are already poised to leap out from cover
and start cutting wire.
|Same picture as previous using the
'Zeke' filter. I like the arid look of this!
|KRRC resumes the attack, whilst the Honeys lick their
wounds and the Daimlers burn.
|Southern side of the battlefield. It is the
Germans' move. They had only 6 units
left apart from the pioneers anyway...
|Crusaders receive a warning shot "Non plus ultra!"
|The view from the main street looking eastwards.
|The end of the action. The allies too knocked about to continue their attacks.
Still on WW2, 'Jacko' and I have begun working on a little project: Operation Uranus: the Attack upon 3rd Romanian Army. 'Jacko' has been building a Romanian Army - the Romanian Army, really, along the lines of Chris Kemp's upscaled version of Not Quite Mechanised. We've put together ORBATs for 3rd Romanian Army (including Group Simons) and XLVIII Panzer Corps (less detachments), and for part of 1st Guards Army, 5th Tank and 21st Armies, and part of 65th Army for the Russians. I've undertaken to write up a fairly formalised version of the Chris Kemp rule set for our purposes. They'll probably be free form, though I may yet change my mind and adapt them to a grid format game.