Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Second Gaza (Part 2)

The historical background and briefings have appeared in an earlier post.

For the game Tim reprised his role of Von Kressenstein, commander of the Turkish Fourth Army, while John took on the role of Lt General Chetwode. To speed things up I skipped the two day bombardment and we just played the assault on the 19th. I calculated a bombardment resolution table to generate losses for each side instead.Toys are almost exclusively from the Irregular 6mm WW1 and Colonial ranges. I am particularly fond of their steam train set which has appeared in a number of games ranging from the Franco-Austrian War of 1859 to the Crimea in 1944! Each hex is roughly 2km and each base is roughly a battalion, the manouvre elements being brigades.

View from tank redoubt in the Turkish Lines. 53 and 54 division visible in front, 52 Div over on the coast. There seems to be a strange tracked metal thing across the valley as well...

The British rear area with the rail head from Alexandria and porters unloading supplies to be forwarded by lorry. British heavy howitzers across the wadi and various reserve infantry formations. There seem to be be an awful lot of Turks in front.

53 and 54 Div forming  up for the assault, field artillery and divisional HQs behind the  leading brigades.

The first British wave advances behind an artillery barrage. High explosive against the defences in front of Gaza, chlorine gas against the Turkish centre. In the far distance can be seen the French battleships shelling Gaza and in the centre the elderly mark 1 tanks accompany 53 Div.

Over on the desert flank, a Turkish cavalry screen prompts a forceful response from two dismounted cavalry divisions supported by armoured cars.

The sneaky Turks sidestep the marching cavalry and brush off a (very) low level strafing attack by the RFC.

52 Div moves up to pin the Gaza defences, 53 and 54 Div prepare to assault the Turkish centre. Losses to both sides in the initial bombardment had been moderate, but still amounted to several battalions. Historically the British neglected to conduct significant counter battery fire so the Turkish counter barrage was quite fearsome. The French aircraft is a spotter for the battleship.

53 and 54 Div attack while the Turks are still disorganised by the gas, but are repulsed by the defenders despite the support of the tanks. The British were a little unfortunate here as the odds were clearly in their favour.

Von Kressenstein looks inscrutable.

The British cavalry mount up to  pursue the elusive Turks, only to be subject to a strafing attack themselves.

Despite pushing up reserves, the British attack in the centre falters as the gas disperses and the 18pdr regiments fail to supress the defenders. To cap it all a storm of Turkish artillery fire decimates the  leading brigades and the tanks break down. 53 and 54 Div call it a day as their advantages fade away and the losses exhaust both formations.

Historically 'Tank Redoubt' earned its name as it ended up surrounded by broken down and knocked out tanks, a result the game replicated admirably.... In the actual battle the cavalry managed to penetrate the Turkish lines along the Beersheba Road while the  main attack faltered with heavy losses after penetrating the first line of Turkish trenches but the entire attack petered out by nightfall on the 19th.

In the game the British were somewhat unlucky not to drive in the Turkish centre although they didn't really have the strength to force a clean breakthrough. Like their historical counterparts, they were handicapped by a low artillery density relative to the frontage attacked.  This was generally a much more high tech affair than first Gaza, and the first OP14 game where we've used both gas and tanks but some light relief was afforded by the antics of the cavalry out in the open desert.

Historically it was six months before the British attacked again, so at some point we'll be off to the Third Battle of Gaza and a chance for the Australian Light Horse to cover themselves in glory.

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