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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

War for Independence, Fight #6


AKA, the second fight in Operation Nachshon

It is 0330 on 7 April 1948, and Avi is leading Danny Tzur's 2nd Platoon into the attack on an old Roman fort on the outskirts of the village of Al-Qastal.  The village lies along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road, which is the lifeline for the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem.  But the Arabs cut the road in late March, and now the Haganah has launched an operation (Operation Nachshon) to re-open the road in order to bring supplies and reinforcements to the Jewish Quarter. 

Yesterday the Etzioni Brigade made an attack on Al-Qastal that was stalled by an enemy machine gun position, so Avi led Baruch Eitan's 1st Platoon in to eliminate the enemy MG.  This allowed the Etzioni Brigade to take the village, but the Arab Liberation Army subsequently counterattacked and kicked the Jews out of Al-Qastal.  This morning the Etzioni Brigade is again scheduled to attack the village, and in order to help clear the way for the assault, the company has been ordered to assault an old Roman fort on the southern outskirts of the village.  Which is where Avi, Danny, and the men of 2nd Platoon come in.

It's 0330 and the Jews are creeping east along a sunken riverbed.  As they get near their objective they will split into two elements: Danny will lead a machine gun team over to serve as a base of fire as Avi leads the assault element.

Overview, north is up.  The streambed is at bottom left, with fields across the center leading to the old Roman Fort at right.  You'll also note the two strands of barbed wire, with channel at center.  And where there is barbed wire there are usually... landmines.

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 Jewish 2nd Platoon, from bottom left:

Danny Tzur, age 29, former US Army paratrooper, M-1 Garand
Chaim Sharon, age 28, former Corporal in the British Army, MG-34
Aram Mofaz, age 18, a village youngster, MP-40
Eli Yadin, age 18, a village youngster, Sten
Davi Yaklef, age 27, refugee from the Soviet Union, Sten (bullet went through both cheeks in battle for Mar Gush)
Hiram Laskov, age 50, refugee from Poland, MP-40
Hanan Elazar, age 25, former British Army clerk, Mauser
Asaf Horowitz, age 19, a village youngster, Mauser

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.

Another look at the map, this time with troops.  2nd Platoon is at bottom left, and now there are Arabs not only in the old Roman Fort, but they also have a three-man outpost in a sandbagged position (bottom right).

The Jewish starting positions, with the base of fire element at left and the assault element at right.

The Palestinian positions: a sentry on the road (far left), three men in the old Roman Fort (center left), and a three-man outpost (right).

The sentry (far left) and old Roman Fort, which contains a Bren team.

The three-man outpost.

The Jews cross the Line of Departure, climbing out of the river bed and heading east.  The company commander, Avi (far right), leads Hiram Laskov, Davi Yaklef, Aram Mofaz, and Eli Yadin forward.

While the platoon commander, a former US Army paratrooper (right), leads Chaim Sharon, Hanan Elazar, and Asaf Horowitz forward.  They're moving to the pair of trees at top right, where they'll set up their MG-34 and take the old Roman Fort under fire.

There is but a sliver of moon as the Jews (far right and far left) continue moving forward cautiously, looking to get the machine gun set up and the assault element as close as possible to the Arab positions before the fight starts.

Danny leads the MG team forward (left)...

When suddenly a blinding explosion rents the air!  The former British Army Corporal, Chaim, falls, still clutching the MG-34, as Danny and the other two guys are pinned!

Though they can't really see anything, the Bren team in the old Roman Fort (bottom center) slew their gun on the explosion and rip off a long burst.

The rounds zip by harmlessly overhead as Danny grabs the machine gun and moves it forward (top right)...

BAM!!! Danny falls as another explosion rips the night air (top right)!

And now the enemy outpost in the southeast (bottom center) adds their fire to the mix, but it's inaccurate as well.

Hanan, the former British Army clerk, grits his teeth and moves up (right)...

And then BAM!!! another explosion occurs, and Hanan is down, leaving only the youngster Asaf (left) still in the fight.

Alone, afraid, and confused, Asaf picks his way forward through the carnage (center)...

He grabs the MG-34 from Danny and readies it for action as the Palestinian fire dies down.

While Asaf is confused but ready for action, Avi (center right) knows exactly what happened: mines!  "Boys, follow me, walk where I walk.  There are land mines out here, we're going to have to move through the channel in the barbed wire."  Avi leads the assault element forward in silence; though the Arabs are alerted, they have yet to see the Jews, and are completely unaware of the assault element.  We can still get close, Avi thinks to himself...

But just as that thought is passing through Avi's (right) mind, Asaf, still alone, afraid, and confused, decides now is the right time to open up on the old Roman Fort.  The MG-34 (bottom left) spits tracers into the ancient stone walls (top center).

*Well, I've never had terrible dice like this before!  I decided to play with landmines, rolling 1D6 each time someone moved in the base of fire element or outside the channel in the assault element, with a 1 or 6 meaning a mine was stepped on.  Well, three out of four guys in the base of fire element stepped on land mines!!!  Well, I figured the surprise night attack was in jeopardy, so every time the assault element moved, I rolled a dice to see if Asaf would blow it by opening fire with the machine gun. Well...

The only good news so far is that Asaf's fire suppressed the Bren gunner (left) and pinned the rifleman (right, with the assistant, at rear, not affected).

The enemy riflemen in the outpost (bottom right) follow Asaf's tracers back to the source (top center, with the assault element at top left) and fire their rifles in response...

And end up trading ineffective fire with Asaf (bottom left) as he swings the gun over.  Avi leads the assault element forward (center right)...

Screaming to be heard above the din of the gunfire, Avi (bottom right) yells to Asaf (top left): "Asaf, shoot the damn Roman Fort!  Then he turned back to the assault element: "Stay on the path boys!"

Avi then charges ahead, breaching the enemy wire, firing his Sten from the hip (bottom center) at the enemy outpost (top right).

Avi's fire suppressed one Palestinian (off camera to top left), but the enemy sentry on the road in the northeast (bottom right) sighted in on Avi (center top left) and fired...

The round snapped past his head and Avi (bottom center) spun and returned fire (top center).

The Arab (top left) dropped in a hail of 9mm rounds the old Pole, Hiram, moved up (bottom left) and sprayed the Roman Fort with his MP-40, knocking down the Bren's assistant!

Davi Yaklef, still sporting bandages on both cheeks from an enemy bullet that passed through his mouth, moves up (center bottom left) and opens fire on the enemy outpost (top right) with his Sten gun...

The Jews amp up the pressure: Davi's rounds suppress a second Arab in the outpost, so first the youngster Aram (bottom right) moves up and fires, knocking down the third soldier in the outpost...

Eli Yadin, another youngster (bottom center) moves up behind them and hoses down the Roman Fort with his Sten.

But the pinned rifleman in the Roman Fort (bottom left) raises his rifle and fires on the assault element (top right)...

Avi is hit and goes down!!!  Eli dashes to him and returns fire, but the rounds ricochet off the thick stone.

Two suppressed enemy riflemen in the outpost (far left) and the suppressed Bren gunner in the Fort (bottom right) all self rally, which quickly undoes a lot of hard work...

Asaf slaps a fresh belt into the MG-34 (bottom left) and keeps fire on the Roman Fort (top center), to no effect...

While Davi (center bottom) hoses down the outpost (top right) with his Sten...

One of the Arabs is suppressed (red bead at bottom left, with the other still knocked down - white bead), but as Davi dashes forward (center top right) the remaining Palestinian raises his Lee-Enfield and fires...

Dropping Davi in his tracks!  Aram moves up beside him (bottom left), firing his MP-40...

But the sandbags once again save the enemy soldiers; the sole Arab still in the fight cycles the bolt, sights in, and fires again (far right), knocking down Aram!

Eli immediately dashes to Aram (bottom left), firing his Sten from the hip and knocking down the enemy soldier that shot Davi and knocked down Aram!  Eli knees and checks Aram..

He's okay (bottom left), ready to fight.  As Eli fires, Hiram dashes up to the Roman Fort (top center), though dashes is probably not the right word for the old Pole ;)

But as Hiram gets there he notices movement through the window!  He (left) and the enemy Bren gunner open fire simultaneously!!!

And Hiram falls (top right)!  Eli turns and fires on the window...

The Palestinian Bren gunner falls (left), and the rifleman is forced to fall back (red bead)...

But as soon as he (top center) steps outside the protective walls of the old Roman Fort, Asaf (bottom left) turns the gun on him and cuts him down!  This essentially ends resistance from the Roman Fort as the rifleman, sentry, and Bren gunner are dead, and the assistant is knocked down, with no hope of a friendly getting over to him.

And the situation is equally dire in the outpost, where two men are knocked down and one is suppressed.  The suppressed Arab self rallies and gets back into the fight...

But as soon as he (top right) pops his head up above the sandbags Aram's MP-40 burps, suppressing him again.

Which is immediately followed by Eli dashing forward, jumping atop the parapet, capturing the three enemy soldiers there.

Well, I won, but I swear I've never had such bad die rolls in all my life, even in the games I lost.  First I had three of four men (very improbably) step on land mines, and then it seemed like every time the Arabs fired one of my men went down.  The only thing that saved me was the audacity to keep pushing forward (I was either going to make Eli a hero or get him killed), and the fact that when I fired I got some decent rolls that at least kept the enemy suppressed so I could move up unmolested.  I'm sure during these fights you've noticed that the Jews have pushed on with the mission despite some atrocious casualties: I'm trying to display the sheer desperation of a force fighting for its nation's very existence, the sense that failure is not an option and would only be acceptable if there were no survivors (the old Spartan "...come home with your shields or on them."), and I intend on carrying that forward through 1956, 1967, and 1973.

In any case, 2nd Platoon accomplished its mission, clearing the way for the Etzioni Brigade to carry its assault back into Al-Qastal, but it was decimated.  The Arab Liberation Army suffered four dead and three captured, and the Jews suffered:

-Chaim Sharon, the former British Corporal, stepped on a land mine which blew both feet off, and then he bled to death as the battle transpired around him.

-Danny Tzur, the platoon commander, also stepped on a landmine, but he was only slightly injured (shrapnel in the back of both thighs and his buttocks) and should return to duty in about ten days.

-Hanan Elazar, the former British Army clerk, stepped on a landmine that cost him his foot.  He survived by tying his belt around his leg as a tourniquet and was evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, but he was no longer able to serve.

-Avi Peled, the company commander, took a .303-caliber rifle slug to the shoulder.  He went down hard but will be okay, and should return to duty in about ten days.

-Davi Yaklef, the Soviet refugee, was shot in the throat and surely would have died if not for the calm first aid work by his comrade, the youngster, Aram Mofaz.  Davi is expected to make a fully recovery and should return to the company in approximately three weeks.  With wound scars in both cheeks and his neck, he is now one of the uglier members of the company ;)

-Hiram Laskov, the old Polish refugee, had a round hit his hop but ricochet off the bone.  He'll be okay, having a hard time walking, but should return to action in five days or so.

3rd Platoon was called up to help evacuate the casualties as 1st and 2nd Platoons combined to occupy defenses in and around the old Roman Fort.  They weren't there long though before news arrived that the Etzioni Brigade was having a tough time in Al-Qastal.  They had penetrated the western end of the village, but were held up.  High Command was calling for the company to attack from the south, targeting the Arab Liberation Army's headquarters in the east end of Al-Qastal.  Dor Peleg, the 3rd Platoon commander and senior ranking officer of the company at this point, began prepping 3rd Platoon for the attack.



  1. Superb write up of your game- was it based on a historical encounter?



    1. Peter,

      Thanks man, and sort of. The fighting in and around Al-Qastal is real, and there was extensive use of barbed wire and mines for prepared defensive positions, but the old Roman Fort thing is just made up, though forts of various origin were factors in various fights on/around the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road.


  2. I've never been to Israel, but yes, there are a number of forts in and around the nation. Based on what I have seen and read in the various medias, etc. Roman and Crusader comes to mind. And IIRC, as well others I can't remember.