Battle of Troina – Sicily 1943

After General Patton’s “end run” across the Island of Sicily, taking the western half and the old city of Palermo on the run, his II Corps headed eastward entering the mountainous northern half of the island. Quickly the pace of advance was reduced to a slow ridge line, or river line, or old hilltop town clearing process. Skillful German rearguard actions, holding the key terrain features, maximized German-Italian efforts to delay both the American and British advancing armies as preparations continued for the cross strait Messina final evacuation to mainland Italy.

The Battle for Troina was a week-long bitter struggle to seize control of the old Sicilian hilltop town and nearby “mountain” terrain. Being somewhat central on the endgame Allied frontal map lines of Sicily, with the Americans battling along the northern coastal road at San Fratello, and the British around the flanks of volcanic Mt. Enta to the southeast, the town of Troina was seen by both sides as a linchpin or hinge to stall or finish the Sicilian island campaign.

Linchpin or hinge on the military maps, the American 1st “Big Red” Division wanted the town and access to the eastern narrow highway SS120 beyond towards Cesaro and eventually Messina itself. The German 15th Panzergrenadier Division, their hilltop town and nearby low mountains having a view of the American advance, planned the defense with deadly precision. The Americans didn’t disappoint them, their August 1st first probing frontal attack was quickly rebuffed when launched by the 39th Regiment (transferred in from US 9th Division to support the 1st Division).

II Corps advance prior to the Battle of Troina. Map from the US Army history WWII MTO.

Troina as viewed from the American general approach during WWII. Lots of open hilly ground overlooked by the German defenders. (US Army photo)

The American viewpoint towards Troina and the 39th Regiment (attached 1st Div.) tried a direct August 1st assault up that slope. Compare modern-day Troina view with previous historical photo.

Historical WWII picture of Troina looking westwards. Another axis of American attack (16th Regt.) approached from that direction with little success before German retreat.

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Battle of Raab AAR Pt II

Continuing with the second part of WR’s Battle of Raab 1809 Part II AAR. To read the Raab 1809 Part I, please click on this link: Battle of Raab 1809 AAR Pt I. For the prior WR background article on the battle click this link: Battle of Raab 1809.

1420 hours: After the Hungarian lunch served on the warren patio, the Franco-Italian-Baden players set to work mounting several divisional assaults along the Pandzsa stream defense while slowly winning the open plain southern cavalry fight. Dense columns of French infantry cross the Pandzsa and impact the defending Austrian formations, consisting mostly of weak landwehr or large Insurrection battalions.

Note: Mentioned in first article part, the miniature ratio is 1:90 for this scenario or one miniature represents ninety men. WR’s historical scenarios have a floating miniature ratio commonly between 1:80 and 1:100. Basic units are battalions of infantry (4 to 10 miniatures), regiments of cavalry (3 to 12), and batteries of artillery (cannon on base with crew miniature, width of base determines number of cannon). Infantry, and to a limit degree cavalry, can deploy individual miniatures as skirmishers before their parent units. Screening in our rules is a big thing….and the lack of ready available Austrian skirmishers later in the scenario created Austrian difficulties.

GD Pachrod’s division (by bridge), joined by GD Seras’ division (at right), cross the Pandzsa and assault the first Austrian line. Pachrod’s infantry hit first… will the landwehr / Insurrection hold?

GD Seras crosses Pandzsa north of Kismegyer farm. GD Durette’s battalions cross and turn into the farm’s defense. Musketry rings out and losses mount. Two French 8 pdr. batteries support.

Austrian insurrection battalion (in blue coats) engage in musketry against the approaching French columns. Another isurrection battalion is morale disordered from French batteries.

Scenario tabletop map without map counters.

On the open southern plain, the French light cavalry has earned a firm lodgment against the best efforts of FML Mecsery and his left flank cavalry. Like the infantry up north on the Szabadhegy heights, the majority of the Austrian cavalry regiment are insurrection hussars. More French dragoon regiments (Grouchy’s division) cross the Pandzsa stream and join the weary light cavalry of GD Montburn.

More French dragoon regiment have crossed the Pandzsa and form up alongside the tired light cavalry of GD Montburn. Austrian defenders appear weak in number as several have routed away.

Under the Austrian 12 pdr. batteries, leading 22nd Legere battalion is pounded hard with heavy loss. Hungarian IR #62 two small battalion (2×4) defend the Kismegyer loopholed walls.

Northern sector sees the daring 25th Chasseurs a’ cheval reforming on the exposed flank of the Szala Insurrection hussars. Pinned in place, the disordered Szala hussars cannot face both direction against the threatening French cavalry while being shelled by the French horse battery across the Pandzsa.

Disordered and shelled by French horse battery, the Szala Insurrection Hussars cannot face two directions and counter the reforming 25th Chasseurs a’ cheval on their flank.

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Battle of Raab 1809 AAR Pt I

Back in August 2015 WR wrote up his 1809 napoleonic scenario on the Battle of Raab, featuring Viceroy Eugene and his Armee d’Italie vs. Archduke Johann & Joseph and their Insurrection army of Hungary. Planning for this scenario last year, WR painted up ten Insurrection battalions (10×10) and ten Insurrection hussar regiments (10×8) required for playing Raab, mostly from old Brunswick casting. Definably not the typical napoleonic unit fielded or painted for the tabletop and really a “one use” collection of miniatures for playing historical battles. So with miniatures painted, banners affixed, and based, it is time to play out the Battle of Raab 1809.

Joined by five local gamers, the player side teams are formed. Team Franco-Italian-Baden played by Dan, Andy, and Luis. Team Austria to be commanded by John, Rob, and Daniel. WR positioned himself as the GM with spare pair of hands. Early in the scenario proceedings, Rob had to exit the field and Luis never showed for reasons unknown. Daniel was pulled for race car prep duty by his brother….. thus four final gamers nobly carried out the duties of miniature commanding. Dan and Andy on the Franco-Italian-Baden team and John and WR for team Austria, Special mention must be made for the culinary team Raquel for finishing the Hungarian stew, setting out the gamer snacks, and various drinks for mid game meal.

After a brief player orientation for the scenario and command / miniature identification, the scenario commenced about 10am and played into the early evening hours, finishing eighteen turn of lively action and rendering a decision. WR has broken this AAR into two parts due to the shear length and photos. Part I to cover the tabletop action up till 1420 hours scenario time, and the second part will be posted to WR, for the balance of the scenario, next week.

Scenario design and historical background material posted to WR at Raab 1809 and the Raab 1809 Scenario notes (,doc).

Austrian army HQ and trains, with Archduke Johann & Joseph themselves, near the chapel on Szabadhegy height. Wooden blocks denote the starting tabletop commands for scenario.

Starting positions viewed from SE. Pandzsa stream runs the center table line. Viceroy Eugene’s HQ at far left near farmstead.

Franco-Italian-Baden army from the SW tabletop edge. The Austrians behind the Pandzsa stream and on Szabadhegy heights clearly seen. Raab fortress is off left upper corner.

Wooden block tabletop use is covered in this earlier WR blog posting: Wooden blocks

Tabletop terrain is flat in most areas with two hills or heights on the Austrian side. The heights of Szabadhegy is a low rise overlooking the lower open plain, with a smaller hillock towards Raab. Local farms and fields dot the tabletop, single buildings and symbolic fields. The village of Szabadhegy and Kismegyer farm have special Austrian rules for retaining control. The entrenched camp and Raab fortress are just off the northern map corner. Lastly, the two streams which cause movement difficulties for the French curve across the tabletop. Both are terrain disordering for close order formations and for cavalry the Pandzsa has special crossing rules.

Scenario tabletop map without map counters. Each map square is 12″x12″ on the tabletop.

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Battle of Gaza 1799 revisited

At OrcCon 2017 LAX convention Daniel and WR replayed out the Battle of Gaza 1799 scenario featured in WR back in 2011. Same scenario format, the tabletop action lasted for twenty turns of back and forth miniature conflict, out of the twenty-one scheduled scenario turns. Mid game WR had Daniel on the ropes after a grand mameluke cavalry charge, but in the end the French, having higher morale and combative abilities won out. Following is the blow by blow narrative for those interested. This scenario game really shows the back and forth action common for our napoleonic (republican) era games.

Opening scenario deployments. Levant Ottomans at left in Gaza and on the background low-rise. Arriving French at right crossing the Gaza wadi.

GD Lannes infantry command and General Murat’s cavalry cross the Gaza wadi toward Gaza and along the coastal road. March orders for both at start, Murat’s cavalry in battle mode formations.

Levant Ottomans defend Gaza village and the low-rise. Four commands present (l to r): Aga of Jerusalem on rise, Mameluke cavalry, Hassen Aga El Arish, and Adballa Pasha Palestine at Gaza.

The scenario map shows the basic open terrain for scenario. Coastal road to Gaza and beyond to Acre. Palm or fruit orchards, the town or village of Gaza, low rises or hills, and the Gaza wadi. The Mediterranean sea with coastal dunes edge one side of the tabletop. The ridge crest prevent vision across if on the lower ground. Scale to 12″ per square of tabletop, typical for the WR scenario maps.

Gaza 1799 game map. Each square is 12″. full scenario details in scenario notes file.

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Calore River 1943 revisited

Last time WR’s Calore River crossing 1943 scenario was played the Germans eked out a narrow victory. For the Orccon 2017 convention, Daniel (WR’s son) wanted to run the same scenario since he missed the first game. Joined by FOW veteran Bruce, teamed with young Jesse, the scenario replay was hard-fought for ten turns. In the end, a new victor, American or German was determined, but the reader will have to read the AAR… or just scroll down to the final scene.

Scenario starts with the deployment of both sides (FOW meeting engagement mission basically, alternating platoon placement) and the Americans have first move. This is important for the German player to notice and plan his deployment carefully, knowing his exposed platoons will receive immediate American firepower after the American movement step is completed.

Full table with both sides deployment. Germans on left, Americans on right with first movement. Table is 6′ x 8′

A quick recap of the American and German platoons involved in the scenario before the AAR narrative. All the American platoons start on the tabletop, two of the vehicle German platoons are reserves and will arrive on turn two. Specific deployment zone bands are described in the scenario notes file. For a complete scenario background and scenario notes, click on this link: Calore River crossing 1943.  Continue reading

Strategicon – OrcCon 2017

Catching up with the recent gaming activities for WR. First is a quick report on the  Strategicon – OrcCon convention held every President’s Day weekend near LAX (Los Angeles airport). WR and his son Daniel GM’d two scenario games during the OrcCon convention. A Flames of War 20mm Salerno 1943 game and a small French Republican scenario called the Battle of Gaza 1799. Historically, the Gaza battle was a minor action but General Bonaparte made a bulletin mention of his “victory” so WR made his unusual scenario.

Calore River Crossing – Salerno 1943 Flames of War 20mm scenario run by Daniel (son of WR). Some teasing photos pending the full WR write-up on this hard-fought battle.

Calore River crossing – Salerno 1943 HMGS-PSW — Sat 11 am — Flames of War 20mm GM: Daniel Verity. Salerno – Calore River crossing 1943 Flames of War 20mm scenario based upon the efforts of 2nd Battalion, 179th RCT to advance across Calore river, block German access to Highway 19 near Serre, and link up with rest of their 179th RCT taking a different route towards Ponte-Sele and Serre. All gamers welcome. [Copied from the Orccon program book]

Calore River crossing 1943 scenario at start. A hard-fought tabletop action had four players enjoying the afternoon. Americans at right with first move, their German opponents at left.

Mid game with the arrival of the German StuG III armor. The red markers dotting the tabletop denote casualties on both sides.

Battle of Gaza 1799 run by WR. Having played this scenario years ago, the French and Levant Ottomans are facing off again. Will the Levant Ottomans win this time and repulse the French coastal advance towards Arce? This scenario went the distance with both sides having success and failures. Full WR report with photos to follow soon.

Battle of Gaza 1799 French vs. Ottomans – HMGS-PSW — Sun 11 am — Napoleonics 28mm GM: Michael Verity. Fun scenario with the French Armee d’Orient, under General Bonaparte, marching towards Gaza (Acre) and encountering portions of the Ottoman army of Damascus, under Jezzar Pasha, defending the sandy coastal hills. All gamers welcome, experienced or inexperienced.

A turn or two completed, the French arrival triggers some Levant Ottoman cavalry to advance and slow the French infantry columns and screening cavalry.

Battle in full swing about mid game, the Mameluke cavalry lines up to charge home. Sharp swords gleam in the sunlight. French heads to lop off…..

During the convention live gaming hours, WR made quick walk around trips to see the nearby miniature tables. Photos taken and brief game photo description of the action posted below. Continue reading

BA in Normandy 1944

Been a busy gaming rabbit for the first month of 2017. Apart from two napoleonic training games in the warren and Bob’s napoleonic game in Redondo Beach, WR had the opportunity, with his son Daniel, to join fellow gamers at MunsonCon II. The featured game was Dan’s 28mm Bolt Action modified (BAm) game on the soil of Normandy 1944. Scenario background had the Americans advancing then encountering a local German counterattack near St. Lo (Normandy). Since the 25/28mm napoleonic training games kept WR busy from photographic opportunities for those scenarios, this report of the BAm scenario shall cover WR January effort to document different gaming locations in the Southern California (Los Angeles) region, i.e. the local events outside the warren.

The St. Lo (Normandy 1944) BAm scenario has Americans vs. Germans walking the tabletop down the central country lane. American regular force consists of the following OOB (Andy and Daniel):  Company HQ leadership with sniper, bazooka team, medic, and radio net and two rifle platoons (PL, SSgt, runner) of three squads each (SL, Cpl, six riflemen). A small detachment of combat engineers ( SL and three engineers) lugging their trade goods with the American advance. Providing close tank support for the infantry are a Sherman M4a3 and Stuart M3a1 while off table, back in the rear lines, two medium M1a2 105mm howitzers stood by on call while during their laundry.

German regular counterattack force OOB (Paul and WR): Company HQ leadership with PzFaust and Panzerschreck teams, SSgt, message runner, and medic. Two rifle Zug (platoon) having Lt, Sgt, runner, and sniper) with three squads consisted of SL, Cpl, Mg42 team and four riflemen each. A small pioneer team rounded out the German infantry component (SL, Cpl, 4 engineers with demo charges and Flammenwerfer). On board mortar support provided by a GrW 36 section (two 81mm mortars and FO). Backup armor support includes a Panther Ausf A and PzJgr Marder I to terrorize the Americans with rumors of “Tigers”.

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The general scenario terrain from the American side. Hedgerow bocage, woods at right, low stone walls and hedges and scattered buildings. Hard to see are the open field “low hill rises” which blocked direct line of sight across the open pastures. Center house at upper right of photo.

Basic deployment notes: American deployed their Company HQ along the road edge, one platoon on each side of the road (in the fields), and had their Stuart advance down the roadway. The M4a1 Sherman deployed with the left platoon, planning to crush the bocage and making gaps for the infantry to advance though. Off table 105mm howitzer crews awaited the first radio call to sight their cannon. The Germans likewise deployed one Zug (platoon) on each side of the road, kept the armor off table for later arrival on the road, and prepared the hedgerow corner with demo charges, to blast a gap, for possible later armor movement into the large open field. Lastly, their 81mm mortar detachment set up on the low-rise behind Paul’s Zug lining the forward hedgerow to the right of the road. Table size is 6′ x 4′ for the scenario.

The day’s photographic effort tells the 28mm Normandy BAm scenario story. Remember that all WR blog photos are 2MB in size, and by clicking on the actual photo, you can expand and enlarge the picture. So… to the report filed by the attached war correspondent photographic teams.

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First movements had the M3a1 Stuart driving down the “wide” roadway… wider than most roads in the Normandy regions it seems. Coming to a bend in the road…. what is ahead?

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