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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

War for Independence, Fight #7


AKA, the third fight in Operation Nachshon

It is 1100 on 7 April 1948, and Dor Peleg's 3rd Platoon is attacking south to north on the eastern end of the Arab village of Al-Qastal, its objective: the Arab Liberation Army headquarters in the village.  This attack is in support of the Etzioni Brigade's attack, which has bogged down in the west end of the village.  2nd Platoon had just taken the old Roman Fort south of the village, but casualties have been so bad that 1st and 2nd Platoons have been combined, and they are manning defensive positions there while 3rd Platoon assaults into Al-Qastal from the south.

Overview of the eastern end of the village of Al-Qastal, north is up.  Lots of dwellings and shops made of stone, numerous stone walls, the Jews will attack from the south, and their objective is the Arab Liberation Army headquarters, which is the building at top center.

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 3rd Platoon, from bottom left:

Dor Peleg, age 38, former Jewish Brigade Sergeant and Palmach member returned home, Sten
Abel Shitrit, age 19, a village youngster, Sten (shell splinters in face during Battle for Mar Gush)
Avigdor Galil, age 18, village youngster, Mauser (shot in bicep during Battle of Mar Gush)
Ephraim Gur, age 25, former member of the Palmach that returned home, (shot in right butt cheek during Battle for Mar Gush) Sten
Alon Shahak, age 35, former Jewish Brigade Corporal and Palmach member returned home, MG-34
Daniel Eisentkot, age 51, refugee from Bulgaria, Sten
Yuval Matt, age 17, refugee from Norway, Mauser
Aaron Ayalon, age 24, former British Army Paratrooper, Sten
Boaz Efrat, age 20, a village youngster, MP-40
Eran Levy, age 25, a refugee from Poland, 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.

The map, this time with troops.  You can see Palestinian Arabs spread across the top of the map, occupying the HQ (top center) and the buildings to its left and right.  3rd Platoon is spread across the bottom: Dor has a certain tactical flair.  If you recall, his platoon fought in the south of Mar Gush, where he split his forces in the face of an attack by superior numbers, leaving several men to occupy a trenchline while he led the remainder on a 'right hook' to flank the enemy attack.  It worked then, and now he's trying an equally risky plan: he has placed his machine gun team in the center, but then he decided on having two small (three men each) enveloping elements (bottom left and bottom right), rather than a more traditional, and more tactically sound, single enveloping element of six men.  Aside from the fact they are more of assault elements than enveloping elements as the enemy's front is too broad to be flanked (due to tactical considerations: friendly fire to the left as the Etzioni Brigade is there, and not wanting to have an exposed flank as the edge of the village is just off table to right).  We'll see how this goes...

The Jewish start positions.

The machine gun is manned by Alon Shahak, a former Jewish Brigade Corporal and Palmach commando, and he is joined by Yuval Matt, Eran Levy, and Avigdor Galil.

On the Jewish far left, Dor leads Abel Shitrit and Aaron Ayalon.

While on the right, Dor's good friend, Ephraim Gur, leads Daniel Eisentkot and Boaz Efrat.

The enemy positions, which are going to be a real bastard as they have Bren teams at top left, top center, and top right.  Then they have five rifleman providing close-in protection (behind northern wall at far left and two at center, in street at left, and at building corner at far right).

Looking east at the west end, HQ at top center.

Looking west at the east end, HQ at top center.

And now it is time to fight!  I kinda wish Dor had kept the assault teams together ;)

On the far left, Dor leads his team forward, where they hop the wall and head into the street...

And wouldn't ya know it, but an Arab sentry (bottom center right) spots them (top left) and fires...

Dor is nonplussed as the round hits the wall behind him (bottom left); he swings his Lee-Enfield up and returns fire, knocking the enemy soldier down!

While on the right, Ephraim leads the other team forward (top center right, with the MG team looking on)...

But I'll be damned if they (top left) don't get spotted too!  A single shot cracks out on the left.

Now one group being spotted on its first move is bad luck, but both groups getting spotted on their first move is REALLY bad luck.  Like three of four guys stepping on landmines...

The .303 rounds smacks the stone wall next to him, pinning Ephraim, as the youngster, Boaz, raises his MP-40 and returns fire, pinning the enemy soldier.

In the rear, the former Jewish Brigade Corporal, Alon, opens fire with his MG-34 (bottom center), targeting the enemy's northeast (top right) Bren position.

The gunner is pinned while the assistant jumps off the building, suppressed.

On the right, Daniel, a Bulgarian refugee, raises his Sten and sprays at a nearby enemy rifleman (top left)...

The enemy soldier is pinned (right center, yellow bead).  Daniel rallies Ephraim, then moves up (center right), while Boaz crosses the street (bottom center left), firing, and Ephraim climbs the stairs and ducks into the doorway (far right).

In the doorway (bottom left, with Boaz above him), Ephraim opens fire with his Sten, targeting an Arab behind the wall in the near the HQ building (center top right).

The enemy sentry falls (center left), but the Bren team in the HQ building (bottom left) returns fire (top right)...

And Ephraim falls, Hollywood style, out of the elevated doorway...

The Norwegian kid, Yuval, with the MG team (bottom right), opens fire on the enemy's northwestern machine gun team (top left) with his Mauser, which is probably not the best idea, drawing attention to yourself like that...

The rounds pin the assistant gunner (yellow bead at bottom left), but the Bren returns fire (top right).

Forcing the youngster, Avigdor, who's already been wounded once (during the Battle for Mar Gush), to fall back, suppressed (red bead at bottom right), though he's quickly able to get himself back in the fight.

But now the young Pole, Efran (bottom right) decides to turn his Mauser on that same Bren (top left).  The rifle cracks...

The round is nowhere near the Palestinian machine gun (bottom left), which immediately responds with another burst, pinning Efran...

With all three enemy machine guns focused elsewhere, Dor (center left), the village youngster Abel (just returned from being wounded in the Battle for Mar Gush), and the tough former British paratrooper (left), Aaron, move up on the far left.

Atop the HQ building (bottom right), the Bren team there reloads and sights in on the Jewish machine gun (top left), then lets rip...

The Norwegian, Yuval, goes down, while Alon is pinned.

On the Jewish right, the northeast Bren (bottom left) fires on Daniel (top left, with Boaz at top center)...

Daniel is forced to fall back, suppressed.

While on the left, the northwest enemy Bren (top right) cuts loose on Abel and Aaron (top left).

Dammit, I just cut it off: the former Brit para, Aaron, is hit (just off camera to bottom center), while Abel falls back, pinned (same, with Dor blocked by the building at bottom center, next to the Land Rover).  The enemy rifleman at bottom left bangs away at the Jewish machine gun position (top right).

He (bottom left) keeps them pinned down with sustained, accurate, rifle fire, as his buddy dashes right (center top), trying to get to their knocked down comrade (top right).

But Dor (bottom left) spots him (top right) and his Lee-Enfield barks

Dropping the Palestinian in his tracks (bottom left).

The Jewish machine gunner, Alon (bottom center), is fighting a losing battle, trying to take on three enemy machine guns with not a lot of help from the two tiny assault elements.  He slaps a fresh belt in, smiles at Eran, and stands on the trigger, firing on the enemy HQ building (top center).

7.92mm rounds tattoo the sides of the HQ building (top center), but thick stone walls do their job protecting the enemy Bren team there, while Efran carries on with his rifle vs machine gun duel with the enemy's northwest (top left) Bren team, but they trade ineffective fire.

Dor (bottom left), quite pleased with his marksmanship, decides to take on the enemy's center Bren team (top right)...

But again the thick stone walls do their job, and the Bren team (bottom right) returns fire...

Dor falls (bottom center, with Aaron down at bottom center left) as Abel (bottom left) raises up and returns fire with his Sten...

And the kid's fire is vicious, knocking the assistant out of the fight and forcing the gunner to fall back!

But the victory is short lived as the northwest Bren team (top right) locks onto Abel (top left) and fires...

Dropping him (far left)!  There lies the entire left-hand assault team...

Driven into the street by enemy machine gun fire, Avigdor (bottom left) has since recovered, and he raises his Mauser, firing at the enemy's northeast (top right) Bren team.

Avigdor's rife is accurate, keeping the Arab pinned down, so he dashes forward (center right).  Meanwhile, Daniel (top right) takes a deep breath and gets himself together, ready to fight again.  Boaz (top left) slams a fresh magazine into his MP-40...

Before cutting loose on the enemy's northeast (top right) Bren gunner.

The enemy gunner had just popped his head up (top left) to see what's going on and caught one right in the face.  Boaz sprints across the street, looking to get at a nearby pinned Arab (bottom right).

Boaz quickly finishes him off.

The brave young man then dashes north across the street (center left), his victims at top left and bottom right.

But while Boaz is making strides in the northeast (top left), the enemy Bren team in the northwest (bottom left) is still in the fight, and they open up on the Jewish machine gun position (top right), knocking Alon down!

While in the center, the enemy Bren gunner (top right) self rallies.  Boaz lurks behind the building at bottom left, as the enemy assistant gunner there (bottom left, lying down, with his gunner dead atop the building)...

Climbs back onto the building, hoping to get the Bren back into action (center).  Boaz (far left) notices movement and turns to look...

As Avigdor (bottom right, with Daniel just above him) raises his Mauser and fires on the Palestinian (top left), pinning him.

But the situation is precarious: with the machine gunner, Alon, already knocked down and needing assistance (top right), an enemy rifleman in the northwest (bottom left) sights in on Eran and fires.

And the brave Polish boy is out of the fight.  Now we're in big trouble: all three guys on the left are out of the fight, and the MG position is empty but for Alon, who could be out of the fight but can't get back into the fight until physically checked by a comrade.  That is problematic as 1) someone has to expose themselves to fire just to get to him, and 2) there is no one close.

The Palestinian that just shot Eran moves northeast (center), the second Arab to attempt to get to the knocked down guy at top right (the other gunned down by Dor at top center).

But the Palestinian (top left) is unknowingly coming straight at Boaz (bottom center, with the pinned assistant gunner on the roof above him).  The youngster levels his MP-40 and lets rip...

And another Arab falls (bottom left) while bravely trying to aid a downed comrade.

Boaz (bottom left) then pulls a cheap, unpredictable Czech hand grenade from his pouch and tosses it on the roof (blue bead)...

And we're lucky: not only does the grenade not blow its user up, it actually works as intended, felling the Arab on the building (right center).  Boaz then sprints across the street (top left).

Where he (bottom right) opens fire on the enemy's northwestern Bren team (top left).

The assistant is pinned (yellow bead), while the gunner is forced to fall back (red bead at bottom left).

On the far right, Daniel climbs up on the building (bottom right) Ephraim got shot in and opens fire, also targeting the northwest Bren team (top left, with Boaz just above the orange tracer), knocking down the assistant gunner!

With Daniel laying down fire (bottom right), Avigdor sprints back across the street to the south (left center), looking to get up on the building to check on Alon (top left).

But in the center, the enemy Bren gunner in the HQ building has rallied and moves up (center).  Boaz (top left) spots him...

But Daniel (bottom right) is quicker on the trigger; the old Bulgarian's Sten stutters...

But the Arab (bottom right) defiantly stands and returns fire as rounds impact all around him.

Again forcing Daniel to fall back.

In the northwest, the suppressed Bren gunner (red bead) tries to self rally, but he's freaked out by his buddy being knocked down (top center right) and he decides to leave town!

Which leaves the center Bren gunner, atop the HQ building, as the only Palestinian in the fight.  Boaz (bottom right) raises his MP-40 and fires, charging forward.

Again the Palestinian (left) stands tall and returns fire, the young Jew getting closer...

But he, too, misses, and the two men come to grips, tussling in literal hand to hand combat!

Boaz is able to subdue the Arab (center right).  Shocked, scared, and a bit disgusted, he grabs his weapon and his hat and moves down the steps, where he captures a wounded Arab (bottom center).  The Arab Liberation Army headquarters has fallen, but again the Jews have paid a terrible price.  The Arabs lost eight men killed and one captured, and the men of 3rd Platoon suffered as follows:

-Eran Levy, the young Polish Refugee, was shot three times in the upper chest, complications of which stopped the flow of blood to his right arm, which had to amputated.

-Abel Shitrit, a village youngster wounded during the Battle for Mar Gush, was shot in the head.  Initially left for dead, two hours later his friend from 2nd Platoon, Aram Mofaz, came to check on him and discovered he was still breathing.  Abel was evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, where he finished the war.

-Yuval Matt, the 17-year old Norwegian refugee, was shot in the chest.  Evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, there were complications with his lungs and infection set it; he recovered, but his war was over.

-Aaron Ayalon, the tough former British Para, was shot in both legs, taking over a year to rehabilitate, ending his war.

-Ephraim Gur, the former Palmach commando, is wounded for the second time in this young war, but he was pretty lucky.  A round skipped off the stone steps and ended up in his rib cage; he should be back in action in about a week.

-Dor Peleg, the platoon commander, was shot in the left arm, but is okay and should be back in about two weeks.

The remaining Jews of the company quickly consolidated their positions in the village of Al-Qasat; lack of manpower dictated they abandon their positions at the old Roman Fort, though they sent messengers to inform the local Palmach commander, Yitzhak Rabin, of the situation, and he was able to spare some troops to cover the southern flank, though he was unable to spare any troops to reinforce the company, now whittled down to a nub and expecting an Arab counterattack to re-take their headquarters.  Which arrived mere hours later.