A Wargaming blog chronicling the campaigns of the Israeli Defense force from 1948's War of Independence through the Border Wars, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the War of Attrition, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 War in Lebanon, through the various incursions one way or the other in the present day. This will be done at skirmish scale in 15mm.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

War for Independence, Fight #5


AKA, the first fight in Operation Nachshon

It is 0630 on 6 April 1948, and the company is going into action as part of Operation Nachshon, the Jewish operation to open the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road in order to bring relief to the Jewish community in Jerusalem.  While the men of the company were fighting to defend their homes in the village of Mar Gush, west of Jerusalem, Arab Liberation Army forces under Abd Al-Qadr Al-Husayni completed their encirclement of Jerusalem.  A convoy bound for the Jewish Quarter (in Jerusalem) was ambushed on 31 March 1948, forced back with the loss of five vehicles and seventeen dead.  Plans were made to mount as much offensive power as possible in order to re-open the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road; the company, now more or less formally recognized as part of the Haganah (Jewish military), was included in those plans.

It is now 6 April 1948; on 3 April Jewish forces attacked the Palestinian village of Al-Qastal.  Fighting has raged there for several days.  The company is now being thrown into the fight, and Captain Avi Peled, the company commander, is personally leading the first action.  He has maneuvered the company southeast of Al-Qastal, sneaking up behind an enemy machine gun position that has pinned down members of the Jewish Etzioni Brigade, which is trying to reinforce members of its unit cut off in Al-Qastal.  Avi has Lt Baruch Eitan and his 1st Platoon with him, and they're plan is not only to eliminate the pesky Palestinian machine gun position, but then to attack into Al-Qastal itself.  Following the battle of Mar Gush, Avi reorganized the company (which is actually platoon-strength), so that now each platoon (squad) has eight men (if you're not aware, casualties were pretty heavy).

Overview, north is up.  At top left is Raftan Hill, where the Palestinians have a machine gun that is holding up the Etzioni Brigade from making contact with troops they have cut off in the village of Al-Qastal (off camera to top), while at bottom right is Balagan Hill.  A dirt track runs between the two, and at bottom left you can see an Arab farmer's humble abode.

Opposing force, with Jews at left and Palestinians at right.  All figures are Peter Pig but one, using WWII French Resistance for the Jews and WWII British 8th Army for the Arabs.  For rules I'm using Ivan's wonderful "Five Men at Kursk," slightly modified.

The Jews, from bottom left:

Lieutenant Baruch Eitan, age 33, former member of the Palmach returned home, MP-40
Aaron Chaplin, age 44, a refugee from Belgium, Sten
Dagan Narkiss, age 17, a village youngster, Mauser
Gal Dayan, age 19, a village youngster, Sten
Guy Rabin, age 40, village metalsmith, Springfield 03
Eliyahu Rabat, age 31, former Sergeant of the Jewish Brigade, MG-34
Elijah Davidoff, age 49, a refugee from Czechoslovakia, MP-40
Abel Landau, age 54, a refugee from Germany and veteran of the German Army in WWI, Mauser
Captain Avi Peled, age 29, former Lieutenant in the Jewish Brigade and Palmach member, Sten

And here is the one figure that is not Peter Pig, just to stave off all the whining I'm receiving from a certain quarter ;)  This is a modern Eureka Minis' Chechen with PK machine gun, standing in as an MG-34.  I better not end up doing a project and being one PK machine gunner short! ;)

The Palestinians.  They'll start with a certain number of troops on the table (I don't know how many yet, that's up to the blinds system I use from Joe Legan's "Platoon Forward"), and they may or may not get reinforcements, depending on how the fight is going.

A look at the map, this time with troops, and we've got trouble.  At top left you can see a number of Palestinians on Raftan Hill, which is the position that needs knocking out so the Etzioni Brigade can get moving.  Down at bottom center you can see the Jewish 1st Platoon.  But at bottom right you can see something the Jews are unaware of: the Palestinians have another, supporting position up on Balagan Hill!

Avi and Baruch (left) crouch on a nearby knoll, scoping out the enemy positions on Raftan Hill (off camera to top left), while the men of 1st Platoon take a breather, awaiting the order to move out.

The Palestinian position on Raftan Hill, showing three men in the machine gun position (left) and two men standing flank security (top left and bottom left).  The machine gun will not be involved in the fight against 1st Platoon, it must keep firing on Etzioni Brigade (off camera to left).

The enemy position atop Balagan Hill, with a three-man machine gun team (bottom right) and two flank sentries (bottom center and top center).

At bottom center is the Palestinian at top center in the previous photograph, and this shows the Arabs have another sentry on the dirt track (top right).

Avi and Baruch (bottom right) can't actually see the enemy machine gun position on Raftan Hill (top left) because of the undulations in the terrain, but they can see one of their flank security troops (top left, you can see his head above the bushes).  "Alright, my friend, let's get to work," Avi said to Baruch, grabbing his weapon and sliding down the knoll to the waiting men.

"Quiet boys, and follow me."    Avi and Baruch lead the men across the dirt track (right), closing in on the enemy position (top left), as the former Jewish Brigade Sergeant, Eli Rabat, and the old WWI veteran of the German Army, Abel Landau, set up the machine gun (center right bottom).

But as the platoon is dashing towards Raftan Hill (top right center), the Palestinian standing watch in the northeast (bottom right) spots them (to left center), draws his weapon to his shoulder, and fires.

The round snaps by, alarmingly close, but misses.  The old Czech refugee, Elijah Davidoff (bottom left) stops and returns fire with his MP-40, pinning the Arab (top right).

Abel (bottom right, with Eliyahu) sights in on the farthest enemy sentry (top left, with the MG position below him and the other sentry below them) and his Mauser barks...

Just as Eliyahu (bottom right) opens up with the MG-34!  The abrupt chatter of the machine gun startles Abel and he misses, though Eliyahu's rounds do much better.

The machine gun drops a sentry (bottom center right) and pins the enemy assistant gunner (yellow bead at center bottom left), but Abel's target (top left) snaps to and returns fire, but he misses as he's only firing at sounds, hasn't actually spotted the Jewish machine gun team.

Back on the right, Elijah (bottom center left) keeps hammering away with his MP-40 as one of the village youngsters, Gal Dayan, dashes northeast (top right).

But as the fearless young man moves up (top left), the machine gun position atop Balagan Hill (bottom right) spots him.  It starts with a Palestinian rifleman; he raises his Lee-Enfield and fires...

And Gal (top right) falls!  The 17-year old Dagan Narkiss moves towards his comrade (center)...

But that's when the machine gun atop Balagan Hill (bottom center) joins the fight, hammering away at the Jews in the valley (top center).

Dagan is knocked down, and immediately the company commander, Avi, is there to assist!

Dagan is okay, back in the fight, just a bit woozy (bottom left).  Despite incoming machine gun (top right) fire, Avi (next to Dagan) raises his Sten and returns fire...

Suppressing the enemy gunner (red bead) and pinning his assistant (yellow bead)!

Things are busy on the right, with Elijah (bottom center), Avi, and Dagan (both at right) firing as fast as they can.  On the left, the platoon commander, Baruch, begins dashing up Raftan Hill (top left), working on accomplishing their mission of knocking out the enemy machine gun there.

Baruch (bottom left) fires his MP-40 at an Arab sentry (top right), but just as he pulls the trigger he notices the damn machine gun (top center)!

Baruch's (top left) rounds sail high, and the Palestinian (bottom center) returns fire...

The Belgian refugee, Aaron Chaplin (yellow bead at bottom center) flinches, pinned, as rounds snap by, and he sees Baruch (top left) get knocked down.  Aaron raises his Sten and sprays, pinning the Palestinian that knocked down Baruch.

Guy Rabin, the village metalsmith, moves over to Aaron (far left) to try and rally him, but the Belgian is focused on his target and still a bit frightened, so he's still not willing to go anywhere.

Up Balagan Hill, the rifleman and the Bren's assistant reload and fire down on the Jews as the Bren gunner clears his head and gets back in the fight.

Elijah (center left top, white bead) is knocked down by the enemy rifle fire, and one of the Balagan Hill flank sentries begins picking his way down through the trees (bottom center right), moving into position to engage Eliyahu and Abel (far left).

Avi (bottom left) alone stands and returns fire, his Sten stuttering, sending 9mm rounds back up the hill in defiance.

The enemy Bren gunner is again suppressed, and the rifleman joins the assistant gunner in being pinned.

With Balagan Hill at left (and a flank sentry at top left), the Palestinian on the road (bottom right), though pinned, decides to get in the fight.  He lines up on Avi and Dagan (top left) and begins banging away with his bolt action rifle.

Dagan is again knocked down, and Avi is suppressed (top right)!  Looking to press their advantage, the other enemy flank sentry moves up (bottom center)...

Luckily Guy (bottom left, next to Aaron, with Avi and Dagan at center) spots the encroaching Palestinian (top right, with the guy that knocked down Dagan at top center right).  Guy raises his Springfield 03 and fires...

The enemy rifleman falls (right), not far from Gal (left).

Meanwhile, the Arab sentry in the northwest (bottom left, looking southeast) sights his rifle in on Eliyahu and Abel (top center right), the Jewish machine gun team, and fires...

Abel dives for cover (red bead at right, with Elijah knocked down above him and Avi suppressed above him) as Eliyahu charges the MG-34 and responds...

Knocking the sentry down (top left) and pinning the Bren gunner (left, with pinned assistant).  But another Arab rifleman moves over (center) and returns fire...

Which is accurate enough to force Eliyahu to join Abel in the cover of the trees (red beads at bottom right)!  At center left, Aaron is freaking out a bit, with Baruch knocked down (top left), Avi, Dagan (both top right), and Elijah (center) out of the fight, and the machine gun team suppressed.

The old Belgian slaps a fresh magazine in his Sten (bottom right, next to Guy) and opens fire on the enemy machine gun position on Raftan Hill (top left).

Forcing the enemy rifleman to dive into cover behind a copse of trees (red bead at center), with Baruch lying on the other side (far right).

Guy is able to calm Aaron down (bottom right, rallied), who sprays the copse of trees the Arab dove behind, to no effect.

And then Guy) bottom left) sights in on the Palestinian sentry in the northeast (top right) and fires, dropping the enemy soldier.

Guy then dashes up Raftan Hill to check Baruch (center, from Aaron at bottom left)...

But Baruch is bleeding profusely, he's out of the fight.  Dammit!  Guy screams out: "Avi, Baruch is hurt badly, we must fall back, we must get to safety!"

Avi replies: "No, Guy, hold fast, we must accomplish our mission!"  Avi self rallies, but only gets up to pinned, then checks Dagan...  The youngster is twice lucky, being knocked down but able to get back up again!

As Avi and Dagan (top right) are getting themselves battle ready, Abel and Eliyahu (bottom left) do the same, and they are ready for whatever the enemy may throw at them!  Which is quite fortunate, as this occurs ...

At the same time a screaming Arab comes charging down the hill at them!!!

Abel turns to fire, but the Arab is already on top of him, plunging his bayonet deep into the old German's rib cage, as Eliyahu pulls his knife and jumps on the Palestinian's back, finishing him off!

Back up Balagan Hill, the enemy riflemen in the machine gun position (bottom right) continue to lay down accurate, effective rifle fire, which suppressed Dagan.  But their Bren gunner has had enough and runs away (failed morale test)!

While back up Raftan Hill, the Bren gun there (left) continues hammering away (off camera to left) at the men of the Etzioni Brigade, and their suppressed rifleman at center right self rallies back into the fight, with Guy just on the other side of the trees.

In the center, Avi is a rock: he again rallies Dagan (right)...

And he (bottom left) continues pouring fire from his submachine gun uphill at the enemy position (top right)...

Avi's (left) rounds keep the enemy riflemen pinned as Dagan dashes forward (top right), up Balagan Hill.

I really wish I could get someone over to Elijah (bottom left) and check on him, but the fighting has been too heavy.

As Dagan reloads (top left), Eliyahu moves up (center left) and gets the MG34 into action, firing on the enemy's sandbagged emplacement atop Balagan Hill (top right).

Back on the left, the old Belgian, Aaron (bottom right) levels his Sten and sprays, keeping the enemy machine gun team (top left) pinned down...

But as Aaron dashes forward (center bottom, with Guy above him) the Arab rifleman (top left) spots him and fires...

The round cracks past Aaron's ear!  He turns and fires - leaves fall like confetti as the 9mm rounds chop through it, forcing the Arab to throw himself flat on the ground to avoid the fire!  But as soon as he does that Guy (right) dashes in...

Finishes him off (right), then moves up, capturing the enemy machine gun team holding up the Etzioni Brigade!

Atop Balagan Hill, one Arab rifleman fires down on the Jews while the other picks up the abandoned Bren gun.

Dagan (top left) is pinned, and Eliyahu (bottom left) returns fire with the MG-34, but the bullets thwack into the sandbags without effect.

Eliyahu (center) and Dagan (top right) continue pouring fire into the enemy position (off camera to bottom right) as Avi sprints to Elijah (far left) and checks him: he's alright, back in the fight.

Aaron (bottom left) faces about and fires on Balagan Hill (top right)...

The combined Jewish fire manages to kill the (new) Bren gunner and suppress his partner.

Avi, Elijah, and Dagan move up and capture the suppressed Arab, ending the fight!

The fight is thus concluded: the Jews were able to carry the day, but the shock of the hidden enemy position atop Balagan Hill (owing to target fixation leading to improper reconnaissance) leading to the ferocious crossfire cost the Jews dearly.  While the Arab Liberation Army suffered seven men killed in action and another three captured, Avi reviewed the butcher's bill:

-Lieutenant Baruch Eitan was shot twice in the chest.  Evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, he survived and returned to duty in the Israeli Defense Forces, but for him, this war was over.

-Abel Landau, the German veteran of WWI and the Holocaust, died when a Palestinian plunged his bayonet into the old man's chest.

-Gal Dayan, the 19-year old kid, was lucky, however, and now sports a dramatic scar.  Well, the world doesn't see the scar, it's covered by an eye patch (yeah, I couldn't help myself.  If you don't get it, just ask).  He should be back within the week.

In any case, the world keeps turning.  Freed up by 1st Platoon knocking out the machine gun position, the Etzioni Brigade pushes into the village of Al-Qastal, taking it, but then being pushed back out.  The next morning the company was holding security to the south of Al-Qastal when orders came down: Etzioni Brigde was again making a push from the east, but the Arab Liberation Army had strongpointed an old Roman fort on the outskirts of the town.  High Command wanted the company to make a nighttime assault to eliminate the enemy position.

Avi turned to Danny Tzur, the leader of the 2nd Platoon: "my friend, prepare your men."



  1. Poor old Abel. And didn't Gal's big brother Moshe suffer a similar injury in '41 fighting for the Britannic Empire? ;)

    1. Yeah, I was kind of partial to Abel. And you're exactly on what I was talking about with "I couldn't help myself." For my little fictional scenarios the two are unrelated, but it's quite a coincidence ;)


    2. I have put a link for my WWII company-level rules on the Pendraken forum. If you're interested then please have a look: http://www.pendrakenforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,16236.0.html

    3. Gareth,

      I'll take a look. I saw Ronan's batrep, have you posted any?


    4. No, I've been very lazy in that department. I'll try and get something done in the coming weeks.

    5. Well, hurry up, the world needs to see! ;)
      I'll head over to Pendraken to continue this conversation there; I think it will be easier, and get more folks involved.


  2. Again, great work ! I too am particularly interested in the '47-'48 War. Nachshon was a very interesting op.

  3. Check out this link https://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/486644/jerusalem?size=large ... gives a good OOB for Nachshon. Click thru the pics of the game "Jerusalem" ... Good game and reference material ...

    1. Thanks man, I appreciate it, and I'll take a look, though it will only be for reference at this point. I played five games (including this one), and so Operation Nachshon is finished for the Company. They're getting ready to start Operation Harel, and then roll right into Operation Yevusi, which I think is where the fighting for Latrun began.


    2. Always glad to help out regardless ! Yes, Harel was conducted by the Palmach. A continuation to Operation Nachshon. Three convoys of @ 600 trucks for supplying of Jerusalem, letting the city to withstand the siege which continued for two months. Until the opening of the Burma Road in mid-June. Then Yevusi was after that mostly fighting in and near the city. Good Luck !

  4. Great game report- enjoyed reading it.