It has everything a wargamer could ask for: amphibious operations, airborne landings by glider and parachute, large scale assaults against well-prepared defenders, small scale house-to-house attacks to capture remote villages, colourful characters plus a huge variety of troops, equipment and terrain.
So… when Orange Dave suggested we use the Bolt Action supplement “Duel in the Sun” to re-fight the Italian campaign, I couldn’t wait to get started! Game one in our six stage campaign represents a glider attack by airborne troops to capture a bridge a little way inland from the beach landings on the south-eastern coast.
The Germans/Italians have rigged the bridge for demolition but, before they can blow it up, a glider full of angry airborne troops (in our case Paras coz that’s what we’ve got) arrives near the bridge – their mission is to take the bridge and defuse the explosives before Axis troops can blow them.
|Here's the table ready for turn 1|
|These chaps have the bridge covered|
Dave is a genius with paper model kits... One Horsa glider. Dave very kindly gifted it to me after the battle :o)
|Dave's superb glider made from a paper kit|
Now, I’m not going to do a turn by turn account of the action as (a) I didn’t take enough photos, and (b) the write up is never as exciting as the game – and this was definitely an exciting game.
I deployed just over half my force on the table to start with; these were basically the regulars whilst I kept my three veteran squads in reserve – effectively I had two platoons: regulars as the bridge garrison and veterans as a counter-attack force.
Dave also had two platoons: the Paras (veterans obviously) in the glider plus regulars heading up from the beach – the latter were not due to arrive until turn 4.
In the first couple of turns some of Dave’s Paras made heavy work of getting out of the glider so I was able to inflict a few casualties, notably taking out the recce jeep – it raced out of the glider straight in to a hail of bullets from one of my MMGs!
|The Paras get moving|
It soon became clear that firepower from my garrison troops was not going to hold back the determined Paras so I brought up my own reserves. I should have done this sooner.
|German veteran Grenadiers move up to contest the bridge ...|
|... but the Paras get there first.|
British reinforcements begin to arrive from the beaches. The truck is a paper kit too!
|Here come the regulars|
One of my veteran squads raced for the bridge, bayonets at the ready! They stormed the barricades and ripped through a section of Paras as they were about to defuse the explosives. But more Paras were close behind.
|Only two lots of explosive remain|
More British reserves were arriving which alleviated some of the pressure on the now rather battered Paras. Turn 5 was terrible for the Axis, everything that could possibly draw a bead on the Allied troops on the bridge opened up, yet somehow barely any casualties were inflicted.
With just two demolition charges left on the bridge it couldn’t be closer as we started turn 6. Thankfully the Paras had to move to reach either charge so could not defuse them this turn (that required a ‘down’ order plus a command test). I brought up two veteran squads and the CO to clear the bridge if we rolled a seventh turn – even then it would come down to who got the first dice out of the bag!
|Lots of Germans ... not many Paras|
Turn 6 finished with Paras in contact with one of the two remaining demolition charges (the Germans would need both if they were to blow the bridge). Those brave Paras had taken a terrible beating from the Germans but their morale had held – just! Now Dave rolled to see if there would be a turn 7… we both held our breath as the dice spun on the table – it couldn’t have been closer!
The D6 came up with a ‘2’ and the battle ended with the German CO pulling his men back and ordering the destruction of the bridge. But would just two charges do the business?
As the dust and smoke cleared it was obvious that one of the charges had not detonated properly. The bridge was badly damaged but still intact. With more troops arriving from the British held beaches, the Germans had no choice but to withdraw.
You really couldn’t have asked for a closer and more dramatic game – pretty much evens all the way with the result coming down to the last few dice rolls.
So what’s next? Well, we’d agreed that from a campaign point of view that if the bridge had been blown then the Allies would not be permitted any vehicles/armour in game 2 – so Dave is looking forward to fielding a Churchill next time. We also decided (to keep the narrative going) that he would be able to include a small amount of Paras in his force rather than just regulars. The next scenario sees the Allies push on to try to capture a fortified village.