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.

More Desert Kit and Equipment from Scratch

These two Pound Store jeeps have been converted into Jeep ‘Trucks’ for my desert raiding Force. Extra stowage, fuel tanks, winches and spare (button) tyres came from what was to hand in the scraps box, in keeping with their pound store origins.

The old tiny version 1 Airfix as crew do look a little undersized – probably less so with version 2 Airfix which are slightly larger – but if you think of them as desert trucks like the old LRDG Chevrolets, it kind of works.

Jeep trucks, windscreens trimmed – with LMG crew in place in game and without, with crew.

Monday Update: Responding to comments (below), trimming the windscreen does work to rescale it. It was not easily possible to remove the whole windscreen thing.

Goggles and tiny windscreens on this LRDG Matchbox kit.

They started life in the pound store, a Christmas gift from a charity shop, the usual mismatch mixture of scales.

This shows how the jeeps started off. The Airfix Centurion China copy tanks would be in scale for the vintage OO HO Airfix figures.

Improvised oil tanks from toothpaste lids – reused, not recycled!

I wanted to mock up fast a desert storage facility at a railway yard / airfield. Something for Airfix Commandos to blow up. These party popper storage tanks (first conversion attempts) are a bit wonky, as cutting off the necks and inserting this down into the flimsy body did not work as cleanly as I wanted.

The mysterious tarpaulin covered or camouflaged shapes are offcut blocks of wood, wrapped in some light brown serviette tissues I found in a cafe and glued with PVA wood glue.

A few additional figures that might prove useful, so I have painted and rebased some useful figures.

Desert Arabs from the early Airfix set, painted about 40 years ago and rebased.

A few Airfix Luftwaffe ground crew make good train staff, aircraft mechanics and oil tanks staff.

A handy antitank gun from the Airfix ready made solid plastic vehicle range, the gun that accompanied the halftrack. A little surprise or an extra bit of protection for the facilities at Wadi Yu Min.

These all add some potential for these desert raid scenarios.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 12 January 2020.

Desert Raid on Wadi-Yu-Min Briefing Map 1941

IMG_2322
Damaged Sketch Map  left by raiding party on Wadi-Yu-Min, NordAfrika – sent to Von Rimmel Headquarters NordAfrika 1941

Received Bletchley Park Hut 43 (NordAfrika Army section):

Decoded signal sent by the NAK NordAfrika  Korps Special Section radio station at Wadi-Yu-Min  to General Von Rimmel, NAK Headquarters, North Africa: CLASSIFIED: Despatch rider has been sent with what is is believed to be operational sketch map prepared by enemy forces  for the recent raid on our operations at Wadi-Yu-Min, Nord Afrika. Map damaged and it appears attempt made to burn this by Allied raiding party. Map was located amongst Allied equipment left behind by raiding forces  and recovered by NAK troops after the action.

It appears or claims to be based on aerial reconnaissance photographs by the enemy’s air forces operating over the desert.

It appears not  accurate enough to be based on good local knowledge of the local population or local railway staff.

Damage report to follow. As directed by General Von Rimmel,  NAK Special Section operations to continue. HH. [Message Ends.]

——————————- ———————— ———————————————

(Bletchley Park) Station X message – passed to Military Intelligence,  Combined Ops and LRDG-D Sections: Summary to be passed to  Aerial Reconnaissance Section Desert Air Force, Royal Angrian Defence Forces (West Africa), C in C Yestershire Regiment

Intercept of NAK  signal to Von Rimmel’s HQ NordAfrika re. Sketch map supplied to our raiding party at Wadi Yu Min. Map and equipment  attributable to allied forces successfully left to make  sure that no blame attached to local population or from any informants amongst the railway staff for the raid or reconnaissance.

Advised that enemy NAK Special Section Operations to be resumed.

Further aerial reconnaissance or scouting parties  to be advised that following this raid, additional anti-aircraft sources may be installed and further ground defences at Wadi-Yu-Min.

Debrief, casualty and damage report to be forwarded with intelligence reports Section.

Photograph of the pre damaged sketch map (deliberately left behind) attached along with original air reconnaissance Section Desert Air Forces.

Signed – authorised by Major Martin, Hut 43 NAK Section / Station X / Military Intelligence liaison.

IMG_2322

Readers can compare the sketch map with the aerial reconnaissance photograph.

IMG_2309

Were your observations correct?

IMG_2323

We will have to wait and see, to read the Intelligence debrief report on how the raid on Wadi-Yu-Min went.

Meanwhile previously on Man of TIN:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/aerial-reconnaissance-photos-western-desert-1941/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/weirdos-and-misfits-with-odd-skills-wanted-no-10-lrdg-soe-commandos-gchq-and-bletchley-park/

Debrief, casualty  and damage report to be forwarded with intelligence reports.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 5 January 2019

“Weirdos and Misfits with odd skills” Wanted – No. 10, LRDG, SOE, Commandos, GCHQ and Bletchley Park

Dominic Cummings, some Tory Brexit politico adviser, in his blog set out a Churchillian request for hiring people to make No. 10 and the Civil Service (and his Brexit / post Brexit team) much less ” public school bluffers” and “Oxbridge English graduates”, more “misfits and weirdos“.

He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.” He says the categories he wants to recruit are:

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”

Send your CV to Mr Cummings if you think this applies to you. You may only last a week, in our “hired and you’re fired” modern world, as instant dismissal is threatened, in which case you will no doubt be known as a “Cummings and Goings.”

Well intentioned and headline grabbing as it may be, the whole “weirdos and misfits” thing is a gift to cartoonists and satirists.

Oddly Mr. Cummings forgot to mention on his list: wargamers and “board game geeks”.

Not so long ago, top secret GCHQ was publicly looking for a more diverse modern workforce of “spooks” and “spies wanted

I am reminded of Churchill’s wartime request to “leave no stone unturned” to recruit the right people to staff Bletchley Park and SOE. Part of GCHQ’s ancestry, Bletchley recruited a strange team of debutantes, crossword puzzle champions, Post Office engineers, mathematicians, linguists and graduate oddities to break German cyphers.

Too busy to read? Just watch the cinema shorthand, myth-making movie versions of such an eccentric cast of characters: Robert Harris’ Enigma and the Imitation Game.

After meeting Alan Turing and his other eccentric colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”

Extraordinary jobs require unusual people. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton would agree!

Which is why my mind straight way turned to SOE, inspired by Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”, Bletchley Park, inventive backroom boffins, the Commandos and the scruffy but tough and talented Long Range Desert Group. All the cast of Mr Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as they were termed in a recent book title.

St Nazaire? See the inspiring terrain with the promise of vintage Airfix Commandos https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

 

Such people and characters in small teams are perfect for small scale gaming scenarios.

Weirdos and Misfits wanted? Small teams of characters (figures) who can see what is going on in this gridded aerial reconnaissance photo and improvise a plan when it is not what it seems …

What can you see?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/aerial-reconnaissance-photos-western-desert-1941/

 

As pointed out in my comment to the vintage Airfix inspired Tradgardmastre himself,

“Sketch map in preparation by Desert Air Force Intelligence Officers, ready to brief some scouting parties of LRDG (D) – D For Demolition.

This is a mixed bag made up of various disruptive elements from the Royal Angrian Defence Force from West Africa (Bronte ImagiNations), some men of the Yestershire Regiment (Man of TIN Imaginations), various other upper class desert traveller, novelist and travel writer misfits, and some Royal Engineers and Commandos in training.

Two tooled up long range fast Desert Jeeps called “Ragtag” and “Bobtail” (Pound Store finest) being prepared.”

Vintage 1960s Airfix LMG teams and modern China plastic tat playset jeeps.

So a quick bit of internet searching brought me to various LRDG websites, seeking the childhood memory of LRDG box lids of Tamiya and unavailable vintage Matchbox LRDG kits (oddly featured in January 2020 Airfix Model World).

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/matchbox-pk-173-lrdg-30cwt-chevrolet-willys-jeep–130346

So preparing my teams, here are the vintage Airfix LRDG and 8th Army desert teams:

Vintage Airfix OO HO 8th Army (version 1) from my childhood collection and Tony Adams’ gift

Vintage Airfix 1960s Commandos and crawling woolly hatted (version 1) 8th Army
OMG! Vintage Airfix SMG, LMG and HMG teams – Airfix Commandos & 1960s 8th Army

Research and further inspiration:

https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

LRDG Preservation Society (Research and Reenactment) website http://www.lrdg.org

Combined Ops Website https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/01/man-of-tin-advent-calendar-day-1-the-greek-sacred-squadron-combined-ops-1940-to-1945-ww2

I’m doing Popski on the cheap with vintage Airfix, inspired by this article in Wargames Illustrated Infamous Squads issue November December 2019

Donald Featherstone ‘Wargaming Commando Operations’ http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dflosttalesvol2.htm

Weirdos and Misfits – your country needs you!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 3 January 2020

And finally for The Tradgardmastre on LRDG Buffs Film Club:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053935/mediaviewer/rm2816642305

Aerial Reconnaissance Photos Western Desert 1941

Gridded aerial reconnaissance photo from one of our Aircraft. What can you see?

1941: Somewhere in the desert, North Africa

One of our plucky Reconnaissance pilots has noticed some enemy activity around one of the old railway halts on a tired old desert branch line that served a pre-war oil prospecting expedition and abandoned desert air strip.

Some building work and fresh build up of stores appear to be in progress.

Using the photos, a sketch map is quickly being prepared by the Intelligence Officers for some of the misfits in our LRDG (D) Long Range Desert Group (Demolition section) to scout it out and if necessary, “light it up” and disrupt the railway.

Civilians or service personnel may be present. Local people should not be attributable for blame or harmed due to LRDG (D) actions. Enemy personnel should be taken prisoner where possible for interrogation.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 1 January 2020

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

Intelligence reports suggest that some armoured vehicles may be present and there is the possibility of concealed weapons pits.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/man-of-tin-blogvent-calendar-day-16-vintage-airfix-africa-korps-1962

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/21/that-vintage-airfix-afrika-korps-gun-1962