Desert Commando Raid on Wadi Yu Min 1941

Setting up the game board ready for Turn 1 …

Insertion points for different units of the raiding forces were chosen by dice throw from 5 possible routes (see map below) before the game started.

The desert commando forces and two desert jeep trucks Ragtag and Bobtail enter the area from the old airstrip (insertion point 4). The Yestershire Infantry to appear along the rail bridge in foreground (insertion point 5).

Briefing Map, Raid Aims and named personnel set out here:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/lrdg-demolition-briefing-map-and-games-scenario/

Defending NordAfrika Korps are stationed in unknown areas and in unknown strength around the area as per the scant reconnaissance briefing and aerial photographs

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/desert-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-briefing-map-1941/

What the Allied raiding forces do not know is how many NAK forces are stationed in the Station Halt building or that on Turn 7 (decided by 2d6) these troops are on standby, ready to be replaced by fresh incoming troops by train. They also do not know that Meyer, an ADC or adjutant to General Von Rimmel is visiting the Special Operations Section (tented area) for a status report.

What the NAK forces do not know is that they are about to be rudely awakened early one morning by a Commando raid. Only a few sentries and gun teams are posted, a few Aircrew busy at work …

First contact Turn 1

Allied elements appear on the board as darkness fades and dawn breaks in the North African desert.

Turn 1

“As the sun rose beyond on the desert hills, Schutzen Wache on sentry duty spotted a flurry of faded khaki rushing across the railway tracks along the bridge … he raised his rifle and fired some warning shots into the air. Achtung! Alarm! Alarm!”

Whilst the Commandos rapidly and silently capture two Aircrew / Groundcrew without alarm being raised, the sentry Sch. Wache by the Railway bridge does raise the alarm on seeing the Yestershire rifles crossing (d6 thrown to decide if alarm raised) with several rapid shots in the air.

The railway bridge proved a narrow pinchpoint for deploying Yestershire troops – a bunched target.

Private Hunt lobbed a grenade at the sentry but missed, as did the rifle fire of Mulvaney, Mahoney and Sgt Brittle.

Clumped together by the bridge, Privates Mahoney, Hunt and Sgt Brittle were all quickly caught in the LMG fire of the Halftrack (which is part trackless and under repair). Some of the first unlucky casualties of this desert raid.

The Allied View from the Bridge – a fleeing Sch. Wache the NAK sentry and deadly half track

The Desert Commandos rush the airfield to silence the air crew and armoured car.

Very quickly the Commando rifle fire and the LMGs on Ragtag and Bobtail, the two desert “jeep trucks” silences the two crew of the Armoured Car.

The PAK gun crew on cemetery ridge managed to knock out Ragtag killing its two crew Ptes. Marrion and Foster. Fortunately the demolition charges and explosives did not explode close to Bobtail, the other Jeep Truck.

First major disaster – Ragtag the Jeep Truck is hit by the Antitank Gun and its crew killed.

Turn 2

The NordAfrika Korps garrison was inside the station halt, awaiting relief by train (2d6 thrown to check: train will arrive with replacement troops on Turn 7). They rapidly deployed to the roof, their fire brings down Commando Private Hemingway who is heading down the flank of the station building.

Meyer, the visiting ADC / Adjutant to General Von Rimmel and air crew sheltered inside the barricaded station halt. A small group of NAK troops led by Haupt. (Captain) Fuchs set out to defend the airstrip.

The PAK gun engaged Bobtail the second Jeep Truck and knocked it out for two moves.

Private Grant of the Yestershires guns down the Half Track crewman, although sinister grey uniformed Klang takes over the LMG on the Half-track.

The view from the other Antitank gun dug in on the Hills above the railway halt

From this hill, the Antitank gun engages a group of Commandos at maximum range and kills Private Young and Scruby.

Gefreiter Weigmann was shot by Commando raid leader “Popsy”

Allied and NAK Casualties from melee and rifle fire from the station building roof.

Turn 3

The PAK gun engages the Yestershire HMG crew and wipes it out, killing the crew (Curry, Stonefeather, Blease).

In return, 2/Lt Hyde shoots with his pistol at Sch. Richter on the roof.

Turn 4

Lt. Bath, Cpl Ridley and RE Appleby recrew the Yestershire HMG.

LCpl Mitton is hit by fire from the rooftop NAK troops.

Turn 4 – The fight around the Half track – mysterious Feldwebel Klang in grey
Turn 4: Private Maitland the demolition expert lays the first timed charge – kaboom in Turn Ten!
The fight for the Half Track – its machine guns finally silenced.
Turn 4: After being knocked out for two moves, Bobtail finally roars into action, LMG rattling.

The fight around the oil tanks. Success for the NordAfrika Korps? Maitland may be gone but his time fuse remains!

Turn 5

Three Commandos (Ptes. Steinbeck, Gammage, Dickinson) felled by grenade from above as they try to break in to the Station Halt.

Turn 6

Demolition expert Pte Maitland is shot before he can lay any further charges.

In a deadly melee phase Pte Grant, Pte Faulkner and Capt Young and NAK Sch. Junge and Schroeder are killed.

Jeep Truck Bobtail is back in action, heading down the railway track towards the station. Its LMG hit Sch. Vogel on the station roof.

The Yestershire HMG crew brought down the troublesome PAK crew Sch. Beck and Roth at last.

Turn 6 – fierce and deadly melee as more Desert Commandos pitch into melee against NAK troops.

Turn 7

Train arrives with NAK reinforcements

Turn 8 – the view from the NAK gun emplacement on the hill, attacked by Pte Ortheris

Turn 8

Bobtail the Jeep Truck turns sharply and retreats down the track away from the train and all its reinforcements.

NordAfrika Korps – Reinforcements detrain in Turn 8

Meanwhile Sch. (Pte) Huber in melee and with rifle fire brings down Commando after Commando including the raid leader “Popsy” before Huber himself is brought down.

“Popsy” the Commando Raid leader is down – time to retreat?

The planned escape route with Bobtail the LRDG Jeep Truck just before … Bobtail disaster!

Turn 9

With Raid leader “Popsy” dead and Allied numbers dwindling in the face of fresh NAK reinforcements, it is clearly time to leave. Hopefully soon explosive charges will wreck the area.

Abandoning the heavy HMG, RE Pte Appleby, Corporal Ridley and 2/Lt Bath head to the bridge to hitch a ride out of the area on the Jeep Truck Bobtail, along with Ptes. Wallingford and Mulvaney.

Before they climb on board Bobtail the Jeep Truck, it is hit at long range by the NAK Antitank gun on the hill. Bobtail is destroyed, its gunner and driver Ptes. Gough and Smith are killed. Disaster – but at least their remaining mines and explosives do not explode, injuring the remaining Allied troops.

Elsewhere across the airfield, Commando radioman ‘Sparky’ Sissons calls for the far off retrieval teams to meet him at the pre-arranged desert rendezvous point. He quickly leaves with Ptes. Shepperd and Learoyd. Their two captured enemy Aircrew held for interrogation are tied up and gagged but left behind, alive.

As the last of the Yestershires and the Commandos disappear off on foot the way they came …

Turn 10

Boom! The first of the oil tanks goes up in flames.

Private Maitland is avenged.

At this point the Allied survivors melt away into the desert on foot. The explosion of the first tank sends the surviving NordAfrika Korps troops diving to the ground to avoid the flames and showers of stones and metal debris as one after another oil tanks explodes, damaging the track and the engine of the train.

The old biplane is toppled over, made further unserviceable. Warehouses and stores are damaged.

Despite the heavy losses, this first desert Commando raid achieved suitable disruption.

Boom! The retreating Allies see more smoke and hear several more explosions as they head quickly off into the desert heat as the sun gets higher in the sky. Time to find their rendezvous points.

Boom! The Yestershires have their packs of supplies, water and ammunition handy. The small commando group are not personally so well supplied until they reach prearranged supply dumps.

They will hopefully regroup and head home to base to be debriefed. However the Commandos failed to bring any prisoners back for interrogation or to discover the activities of the NAK Special Duties Unit. What was going on in the tent for example? What was Meyer, the ADC to General Rimmel, inspecting?

(Above) Allied Survivors of the Raid on Wadi Yu Min – a few Commandos and some Yestershire Regiment escape into the desert. Yestershire Regiment 2/Sub Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath RNVR , Corporal Ridley, Privates Mulvaney, Wallingford and Shepperd. Commando Radioman Signaller ‘Sparky’ Sissons, Pte Learoyd and Mine detecting RE Private Appleby

Thanks to our Featherstone Personalised Wargaming approach the names of tiny combatants have been used throughout.

NordAfrika Korps survivors with Meyer, ADC to General Rimmel and a wrecked Bobtail LRDG jeep truck
NordAfrika Korps survivors named.
Casualties on both sides Raid of Wadi Yu Min
The Allied Casualties named

The NordAfrika Korps casualties named.

Reflection back on the game and rules

Playing solo, this game / scenario worked well enough.

The cluttered terrain amongst the oil tanks and aeroplane made shooting difficult for both sides.

The Commandos and Yestershire Regiment suffered consistently from a series of poor dice rolls throughout on Melee and Firing. No Featherstone Savings Throws in this game. They were given no extra modifiers in Melee or Firing for being Commando troops, opposing tough NordAfrika Korps troops.

Despite the first NAK Armoured Car crew being quickly knocked out, the two anti tank guns on the hill and the half-track LMG quickly did damage to the commando transport and troop numbers. Lots of lucky dice throws. Dealing with these high up entrenched gun positions created many problems for the raiders.

Naming characters does positively change the way you view this game and would be even more effective with a smaller number of troops. Playing both sides with a larger number of characters, it is harder to become attached or show favouritism to any one particular figure.

The element of silent surprise at the beginning needs to be worked on and developed.

In future raids I would include more explosives trained troops, as well as assign rifles and SMGs to those typical ‘useless’ Airfix non-combatant figures without firepower such as the grenade throwers, knife men, observers with only binoculars and gun crew etc.

I used Featherstone based simple WW2 rules from War Games and its Close Wars appendix but with scaled down firing ranges to suit my hexes:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/ww2-platoon-level-close-little-world-wars-rules

Some rules ideas to tinker and think through after rereading Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations and Wargaming Commando Operations.

There are some interesting commando raid games and rules on the Grid Based Wargaming website: https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-deciding-rules.html

Overall a joyful outing for some classic Vintage Airfix from my childhood collection and from Tony Adams’ gift of figures earlier in the year. Figures who never thought they would fight (again).

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 January 2020.

16 thoughts on “Desert Commando Raid on Wadi Yu Min 1941”

  1. Fantastic report Mark. Really enjoyable read.
    Great figures and scenery too – The plane and metal roofed buildings add a nice Toy Soldier feel!
    I’ll have a look at the rules next..

    Like

    1. Thanks – Using these tiny vintage Airfix again is a joy. Like the Christmas houses, The biplane was a Christmas present, not quite trench art but still stoutly heavily made, probably a desk feature – I will feature it on the blog on a quiet moment.

      Like

  2. Really enjoyed the account of your game. You seem to have had a most engaging and enjoyable time. It shows again the fun/gaming value to be had with a small game. It is pleasing indeed to see these Airfix veterans fighting once more. I look forward to seeing another raid in the future…

    Like

    1. Thanks, Alan. It was a fun small game, made more fun with classic Airfix figures, if somewhat frustrating at times from the characters’ point of view with a long run of poor dice or cluttered terrain and no clear line of sight for firing.
      I would like to rerun this raid game again some time, maybe even reversed with a NordAfrika Korps Raid on a Desert Army station depot / halt.

      Like

  3. Love the jeeps. I’m wracking my brain to remember the blog that has these Hong Kong jeeps turned into horch look a likes.
    He made card front wheel fenders, added lights and a spare tire mounted halfway down the body. If I find the image I’ll forward it on.

    Like

    1. Thanks Doug, very good point about the Horch conversion. If I find some more of the Pound Store jeep / trucks that I have somewhere, I may have a go to give the NordAfrika Korps more Raid potential.
      The NordAfrika Korps already have their half track and armoured car, along with a new Airfix Opel Blitz truck to come (the childhood one is long gone).

      Like

  4. Drat, I was looking forward to finding out what the NAK were up to at Wadi-u-Min, and now we shall never know! Ah well. Next time, perhaps attack during night-time?

    Like

    1. A second raid would be risky, with increased security after this raid but a small night time raid would be very interesting.
      Depends how disturbing the rumours are coming out from Wadi Yu Min as no prisoners were taken back to interrogate. Some more aerial reconnaissance perhaps? We shall also have to continue to monitor the NAK radio traffic and Enigma decrypts at Bletchley Park.
      Silence, torchlight, sentries to avoid – just what Commandos and SOE were made for.

      Like

  5. A riveting game report! As Peter noted, the personalized approach really adds to the narrative. You’ve inspired me to name the soldiers in a skirmish campaign I’ll be starting shortly.

    Like

  6. Very good and interesting report. I prefer to read these reports than actually fight the games myself strangely. One thing I do notice is that casualties are again very high, I can’t help but wonder if real combat would be sustained for so long with so many dead. Do you have regular morale reviews, just in case high losses especially amongst leaders could cause those remaining to withdraw?? Of course that’s just a minor point in a very enjoyable read. I really like the naming of the combatants, it adds so much to the report and of course the battle, reads more like an extract from a history book especially given that the mission was not a total success for the commandos, very realistic and good fun.

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed the write up. I was very tempted to write the whole thing in dashing prose, Wilbur Smith or Nevil Shute style. Judging from the writer names chosen by Featherstone for his personalised wargaming, (his personal tastes in writers?) maybe I should adopt a rugged hard boiled Raymond Chandler, Hemingway or Steinbeck pastiche style for such games reports?
      Early commando raids were often a bit disastrous. Honing a craft no doubt.

      Morale checks and casualty savings throws were left out to speed up the game. The high casualty numbers was more bad luck than anything. Not a surprise in the heat of chaotic battle like a raid maybe with highly individualistic self motivated characters’ morale … harder to exercise “command and control”?
      Featherstone’s Close Wars appendix rules has a 50% casualty rule as reasons to break off engagements. I did not heed this. I tend towards short ‘fight to the death’ / last man type games anyway. Tally Ho! Bam bam bam! Or in this case – Kaboom!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s