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 17, 2017

War for Independence, Fight #9

All,

AKA, the fifth and final fight in Operation Nachshon

It is 1530 on 7 April 1948, and the Company is preparing a counterattack.  It's been quite an eventful couple of days: Operation Nachshon began yesterday with an attack by 1st Platoon on an Arab machine gun position that was holding up the advance of the Etzioni Brigade's attack on the Arab village of Al-Qastal.  Things got tough when it turned out the Palestinians had a second machine gun covering their flank, which caught 1st Platoon in a crossfire.  Despite this, Avi Peled's combat leadership carried the day, though the 1st Platoon leader, Baruch Eitan, was wounded bad enough that he would spend the rest of the war recovering.  Early this morning, Avi led a second attack, this time on an old Roman Fort; the attack got off to a rough start when three Jewish soldiers, including 2nd Platoon's leader, Danny Tzur, stepped on landmines.  Avi pushed the remainder of the platoon forward, but then he was wounded, with Eli Yadin and Hiram Laskov stepping up to take the objective.  And then a few hours ago Haganah High Command tasked the Company to assault into Al-Qastal and take the Arab Liberation Army's headquarters.  Dor Peleg, the 3rd Platoon commander, led his troops into the assault, but his plan was probably contained a bit too much tactical finesse.  The left-hand assault element, including Dor himself, was torn apart by enemy machine guns, as was the platoon's base of fire; the attack succeeded purely on the personal bravery of Boaz Efrat.

Eliyahu Rabat assumed command of the Company and organized a defense, west of the Arab Liberation Army's headquarters building.  The enemy came in strength, but they were channelized by the narrow village streets and the Jews were able to bludgeon them with small arms fire.  With practically the entire enemy force suppressed by Jewish fire, Sergeant Eli Yadin charged into close combat and practically single-handedly broke the back of the Arab counterattack, personally killing four enemy soldiers and capturing another four.

But the enemy is holding onto a position in the northeast, and Lt Rabat has determined it is up to his men to eject the Arabs from the east end of the village.

Overview of the Arab village of Al-Qastal, north is up.  Not much to say: The Plaza is at center, the Arab Liberation Army headquarters is at top center, and the food storage facility is at far right.  The Jews are attacking in the center, west (left) and south (bottom) of The Plaza, against the Arab strongpoint in the northeast (top right), which is a home they are hurriedly fortifying and reinforcing.

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 entirety of the Jewish Company at this point, minus Daniel Eisentkot, who is escorting the Arab prisoners from the last fight back to Yitzhak Rabin's men:

Lt Eliyahu Rabat, age 31, former Sergeant of the Jewish Brigade, Sten
Elijah Davidoff, age 49, a refugee from Czechoslovakia, MP-40
Asaf Horowitz, age 19, a village youngster, Mauser
Dagan Narkiss, age 17, a village youngster, Mauser
Sgt Eli Yadin, age 18, a village youngster, Sten
Sgt Boaz Efrat, age 20, a village youngster, MP-40
Cpl Alon Shahak, age 35, former Jewish Brigade Corporal and Palmach member returned home, MG-34
Aaron Chaplin, age 44, a refugee from Belgium, Sten
Avigdor Galil, age 18, village youngster, Mauser (shot in bicep during Battle of Mar Gush)
Aram Mofaz, age 18, a village youngster, MP-40
Guy Rabin, age 40, village metalsmith, Springfield 03

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 fight for Al-Qastal is not finished; despite their overwhelming victory in refusing the Palestinian counterattack, the Arabs still cling to a foothold in the west end of the village.  The Jews rally as Eli comes back, reporting to the commander, Lieutenant Eliyahu Rabat.

Eli reports there are still Arabs in the northeast, busily fortifying and reinforcing a home between their former headquarters (left) and the food storage facility (off camera to bottom right).  Eliyahu responds: "you're right!  Men, prepare for a counterattack, we must eject the Arabs from Al-Qastal!"

Map, this time with troops.  The Jews are again being a bit careless about concentration of force, yet there's not much tactical finesse as the plan essentially to have the machine gun team (bottom center right) engage the Arabs (top right) while one assault element charges up the street on the left (left center) and the other charges up the street on the right (center bottom). 

I guess this is what happens when your Company Commander and all three Platoon Commanders are recuperating from their wounds...

The Jewish starting positions, with the MG team at bottom right and assault teams at center and top left.

The left-hand assault element is the acting Company commander, Eliyahu Rabat, with Guy Rabin, Aram Mofaz, and Aaron Chaplin.

The right-hand assault element is led by the recent hero, Sergeant Eli Yadin, with Elijah Davidoff, Dagan Narkiss, and Asaf Horowitz.

The other Sergeant, Boaz Efrat, is with the machine gun team, comprised of the gunner, Corporal Alon Shahak, and Avigdor Galil (Alon doesn't yet have a dedicated assistant, various riflemen keep getting shuffled in and out).

The Palestinians are holed up in the northeast, with a Bren team atop a local home and eight riflemen, determined to maintain their foothold in Al-Qastal. 

Time to fight!

The Jews open the attack with their MG-34 and Boaz Efrat's MP-40 (bottom center) lighting into the enemy strongpoint (top right).  While they put out a tremendous amount of fire, the results were nothing to write home about.  With all those Arabs packed into such a small place you'd figure it was a machine gunner's dream, but all that fire resulted only in the enemy Bren gunner being knocked down.  The inability to pin/suppress the Arab riflemen, who apparently were all school-trained snipers, was about to have a drastic impact on maneuver...

Eliyahu heard the rattle of the MG-34 (off camera to bottom center right), and with that he knew it was time to step into the van.  The 31-year old former Jewish Brigade Sergeant checked his Sten one last time and lunged forward (bottom left), immediately drawing fire (top right).

Eliyahu was knocked down as Guy dashed into the street next to him (top center), also drawing Arab (bottom right) rifle fire.

Guy fell next to Eliyahu (white bead) as the Belgian Aaron moved up...

But another Lee-Enfield (bottom center) added its bark to the din of battle...

Dropping Aaron (center) and suppressing the youngster Aram (red bead) before he even had a chance to step into the street!

The Palestinians fired four times with 1K 1S and never missed!

And the right-hand assault element would fare no better: as the left-hand team was being thrashed in the street, the brave young Eli dashed forward (top center)...

A Palestinian (bottom right) spots Eli (top left) and fires...

Eli crumples, falling next to the body of an enemy soldier as the old Czech, Elijah moves up, firing his MP-40 from the waist.

Elijah's submachine gun mows down two enemy soldiers (center) and forces another to fall back (red bead at bottom center).

The 17-year old Dagan (bottom left) moves out to join Elijah, firing his Mauser...

But an Arab in the bush (bottom left) sights in and fires...

Knocking Aram down (white bead)!  Asaf, another youngster, moves up to the corner and fires.

Damn, it's like they can't miss!

Asaf's rounds force another Palestinian to fall back.

Asaf moves up to check Dagan...

But he's unconscious and bleeding badly, out of the fight!

On the left, Eliyahu is knocked down in the street (white bead at far left), Aram suppressed (red bead at bottom left), and the other two (Aram and Guy) out of the fight, the Arabs are emboldened.  Two riflemen move up (center top and left, behind the wall below the Arab Liberation Army HQ building)!

As those two press their advantage (center right top), two suppressed riflemen attempt to self rally (bottom right, you can just see one of the red beads): one is good, but the other runs for the hills!  Meanwhile, more rifle fire is directed at Elijah and Asaf (far left), forcing Elijah to fall back.  Then an eagle-eyed Palestinian sights his Lee-Enfield in on the Jewish machine gun position (top left) and fires...

Avigdor falls as Boaz and Alon look on in horror!

At the Arab strongpoint, the assistant leans over to check on his gunner (white bead)...

But Alon spots the movement, lets out a pained scream (bottom center), and snaps a long burst of machine gun fire at the strongpoint) top right).  But apparently the pained scream was a bit too much, threw off his aim, as he only managed to pin a single enemy rifleman on the roof.  The Jews catch a bit of a break when the enemy Bren gunner remains unconscious, though he may come out of it at any time...

On the left, the noise of advancing enemy soldiers (top left, with Eliyahu knocked down at white bead) helps Aram shake off the fear paralyzing him (red bead) so that he's ready to deal with this new threat.

As Aram is getting himself back in fighting shape (just visible at far left), Alon slaps a fresh belt into the MG-34 (bottom center) and cuts loose again on the enemy strongpoint (top right), knocking down a rifleman and pinning the Bren's assistant.

While the Jews have really taken a good kick in the teeth, they are slowly whittling the Arab resistance away, man by man.

The youngster Asaf (bottom right) leans out around the corner, adding his Mauser to the fight.  He yells out to the cowering Elijah (red bead at right), "hold on my friend, I'll be there to assist you in just a moment!"  Asaf cycles the bolt and fires another round at the enemy position.

Asaf then courageously dashes into the street, intent on helping the old Czech...

But Asaf's fire (top left) has been totally ineffective, and another sharp-eyed Palestinian (bottom center) sights in with his trusty Lee-Enfield and fires...

But Asaf makes it safely across the street (gotcha, didn't I?), where he quickly slaps Elijah in the face.  "Snap out of it!  Get in the fight, old man, your comrades are depending on you!" "Yes, of course, you're right Asaf, I will do it!"

And with that, Elijah checked his MP-40, then dashed ahead, firing from the hip (right), as he so ofen does...

And also as he so often does, he (top left) fires from the hip and totally misses his target (bottom left), which allows another Arab rifleman to return fire.

And Elijah falls as the .303-caliber bullet strikes him down.  And the Palestinians aren't finished; not content to sit back, they are moving on the Jewish left flank.

One Arab covers from the wall (top center left) as his comrade moves up (far left), intent on finishing the Jew (Eliyahu) lying in the street.  Aram (bottom center) knew there were Arab soldiers nearby, but he was totally shocked when a big Palestinian jumped on Eliyahu!  So shocked, in fact, that he was unable to react before the enemy soldier mounted the acting Company commander!

The Arab plunged his knife into Elihayu's back (left), putting him out of the fight, but as he was about to do so again he heard the click of Aram (right) readying his MP-40.  The stunned Palestinian rose to his feet just as Aram pulled the trigger...

Aram's rounds knocked the Palestinian down (white bead)!  His comrade couldn't see Aram because of the defilade caused by the corner of the building, so he had to move up (top center left) to see what was going on.  Aram spotted the movement and simply adjusted his aiming point, never letting off the trigger, pinning the enemy soldier behind the wall!

For you 5Core players out there wondering how Aram got to fire twice, the first was Guard fire and the second was his actual action/reaction.

That damn sniper on the roof of the enemy strongpoint is at it again (bottom left): having just dropped Elijah, he sights in on the youngster, Asaf (top left), and fires.

Asaf is knocked down (white bead at right)!  Alon (bottom left) returns fire with the MG-34...

The sniper is pinned (yellow bead at right), but the enemy sets about getting themselves back in fighting shape: the Bren assistant tries to self rally but stays pinned (yellow bead at left), while another rifle (bottom right) checks the Bren gunner, who is okay, finally back in the fight. 

Which is not welcome news for me...

Alon (bottom center, with Boaz assisting him since Avigdor went down) squeezes off another burst from the MG-34...

The Bren gunner is pinned (bottom right), but a rifleman next to him returns fire on the Jewish MG position (top center left).

The enemy rifle rounds slam into the thick stone walls; no one is hurt or otherwise affected, but Boaz is fed up: "Enough!!! This is not working, we are getting our asses kicked!  Alon, you are on your own."  Boaz stood in the window and let off a long burst with his MP-40.  "Alon, cover me!"

Alon, now alone (bottom left), kept up the machine gun fire, killing one enemy soldier on the rooftop, as Boaz charged across the street (center, with Asaf knocked down at right, white bead).

Back on the left, Aram's life and death struggle continues: he's knocked down one Arab soldier (white bead) and pinned another (yellow bead).  He slaps a fresh magazine into his MP-40 and resumes firing...

The point-blank submachine gun fire forces the enemy soldier to fall back, suppressed!

"And now I will make you bastards pay for what you have done to my friends!" Aram screamed as he lunged into the street, falling on the Palestinian that stabbed Eliyahu in the back!

Aram put him (bottom left) out of the fight, then charged the Arab cowering behind the stone wall!

This is only possible as Alon finally did some decent work with the MG-34, killing and suppressing the Palestinians remaining at the strongpoint so that no could react fire to Aram's movements.  I'm sure if but a single rifleman had the ability to react fire Aram would have been gunned down...

Aram finished off the second Arab in close combat (bottom left) and then moved up (center), kneeling to reload as he eyed the enemy strongpoint (top right).

And just when things are going well, when I've got Aram at point blank range with his SMG, Boaz up the street with his SMG, and Alon finally delivering effective fire with the MG-34, all waiting to pounce on enemy fire/movement, the enemy rolls this for their activations: a firefight and two scurries.  For the non-initiated, this means one man can fire and two can move/rally, all without drawing any type of reactive/return fire.  They get to do whatever they want and I can't do anything; that's just how this fight is going for me ;)

The Bren gunner is pinned (yellow bead at center of the group of three yellow beads), as well as his assistant and the sniper (I jokingly call him the 'sniper' now as he's gunned down quite a few of my little lead troops), while the other rifleman is knocked down (white bead).  The assistant and the sniper both self rally as the Bren gunner peers Aram through the nearby fruit stand and opens fire, knocking Aram down!

Dammit, I can't seem to get anything going!!!

Alon (far right) doesn't know what's going on up ahead, or who the enemy is shooting at, but he knows it can't be good.  Low on ammo, he loads his last belt of linked ammunition, slams the feedtray cover closed, charges the weapon twice, pushes the charging handle back to the forward position (but leaving the bolt locked open), and opens fire on the enemy strongpoint (top left).

At this point the Jews have Alon and Boaz (center) in the fight, Asaf (top center) and Aram (far left) knocked down.

The assistant gunner is knocked down (top center) and the sniper if forced to fall back (red bead at bottom center)!

Boaz (bottom center) leans out and fires his MP-40.

Boaz then dashes across the street and rolls Asaf over...

Which is when he sees the bullet hole in the 19-year old's forehead...

The sniper (red bead at bottom left) self rallies as the Bren (above him) reloads and fires on Boaz (top left, with Aram knocked down at right).

Boaz, still shocked at the loss of his schoolyard chum, ducks behind the cover of the building, suppressed (red bead at right), as Alon (bottom left) returns fire with his machine gun.

Alon's machine gun fire knocks the Bren gunner down (on roof) and re-suppresses the sniper (red bead), just as the MG-34 runs out of ammunition.  Boaz chokes back tears and gets himself back in the fight.

Alon (off camera to bottom left) picks up Avigdor's Mauser and keeps firing on the enemy strongpoint (top right) as Boaz moves up the street (left) determined to finish the job, despite the havoc wreaked on the Company...

The three Arabs on the roof of the strongpoint are all knocked down, thus they cannot be brought back into the fight except by the Sniper, who is currently suppressed.  He self rallied, but then Alon's sustained rifle fire pinned him down again.

Boaz continues to press forward (center, with Aram knocked down at left) as Alon (off camera to bottom center) cracks away with Avigdor's Mauser.  The Sniper attempts to self rally but fails and runs away, thus ending this bloodiest of fights for the Company so far in the War of Independence.

Holy guacamole, that was a real ass-whooper, leaving me shaken and despondent ;)  I can't believe how poorly that went, how good Arab rifle fire was, particularly reactive fire.  Practically every time I ran someone out they got gunned down by someone rolling 1K 1S!  Remember, the Bren was out of action pretty much from the start, rallying only very near the end, and all he really did was knock down Aram.  But those eight riflemen took their damn toll! 

And if you're looking to get at me about the tactical plan and the continued running Jewish troops out into the street, here's a few thoughts to consider (I'm looking at you, Rod and Kyote):

1.  The Company Commander and all three Platoon Commanders were not present during this fight, so tactical leadership suffered.  I created the plan based on this and to reflect it (that doesn't mean I thought it would go this poorly!).

2.  The Jews were expecting their machine gun team to have a field day in the opening bursts on the Arab strongpoint, and all three men fired (an MG-34, an MP-40, and a Mauser), but all that fire only managed to knock down one man!

3.  The charging into the streets by the left and right assault elements was planned to coincide with, and dependent upon, the MG team's suppressive effects.  That is, Eliyahu and Eli (the leaders of the assault elements) couldn't know the MG team didn't accomplish its mission until it was too late.  You guys can say 'but you as the player knew it didn't work,' and that's true, but that's not how I play my solo games.  I try (as much as possible, and I certainly make mistakes and/or cheat ;) ) to put myself into the little guys' shoes, not allowing them to act on info they don't have.  I try...

4.  I will always have a flair for the dramatic in my wargames; if you've seen any of the ~300 batreps I've posted in the past three and a half years, you know my tabletop commanders would rather close assault an enemy strongpoint rather than wait for support weapons/vehicles to be brought up.  That's just my kind of fun ;)

So again the mission was accomplished, but the Company has been bled dry.  The Arab Liberation Army soldiers lost seven men (the Sniper got away; I may have to bring him back, work him into the storyline), but the Jews were ravaged:

-Asaf Horowitz, the 19-year old village youngster, was killed by the Sniper.

-Aaron Chaplin, the Belgian refugee, was shot in the pelvis and almost bled to death.  He was evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, but suffered complications from the wound until his death in 1967, just after Jerusalem fell to his former comrades in the Six-DayWar.

-Elijah Davidoff, the Czech refugee, was shot through his right arm.  The round passed through his chest and exited via his left arm, causing severe internal damage.  He was evacuated to Tel Aviv, the war over for him.

-Guy Rabin, the village metalsmith, was shot in the upper back, but should make a full recovery and is expected to return to duty in about five weeks.

-Dagan Narkiss, a 18-year old village youngster, was shot in the thigh.  Nothing life threatening, he should be back in a couple weeks.

-Eliyahu Rabat, the acting Company Commander, wept for days when he discovered the consequences of his assault on the enemy strongpoint in Al-Qastal.  He was knocked to the ground by an Arab bullet that struck his Sten gun, destroying it, then had a Palestinian jump on his back and stab him.  Luckily, Aram Mofaz shot his assailant.  Eliyahu is okay, should return to duty in a few days.

-Eli Yadin, the brave young Sergeant, now sports an interesting scar.  He was shot in the left forearm, the round passing straight through.  The medics have patched it up, he never left the Company.

-Avigdor Galil, an 18-year old village youngster, had a bullet crease his neck.  Alon Shahak thought he was dead for all the blood, but Avidgor was able to staunch the bleeding with a handkerchief until the fight was over, passing in and out of consciousness several times.  Once the medics patched him up he was fine, didn't even need to leave the Company.

It would have been shorter to list the men of the Company still in action (including those last two): Eli Yadin, Daniel Eisentkot (who missed the fight while escorting prisoners to the rear), Boaz Efrat, Alon Shahak, Avigdor Galil, and Aram Mofaz.  Six men.  Due to the tremendous amount of casualties taken, Yitzhak Rabin ordered the Company out of the line in order to rest and recuperate; Operation Nachshon was over for the men of the Company.

Operation Nachshon continued for another week, succeeding in temporarily opening the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road, allowing several convoys to reach the Jewish Quarter.  But it wasn't enough, and Arab forces soon blocked the road again, this time further east on some dominating heights near the village of Bab El-Wad.  In Al-Qastal, the village changed hands multiple times, and the Arab Liberation Army local commander, Abd Al-Qadr Al-Husayni, was killed.  The Palestinians retook the village in order to recover Al-Husayni's body, but then withdrew for several days in order to grieve their fallen commander.  Following this the Arabs returned to Al-Qastal in force; the Jews withdrew from the village without a fight, but leveled every structure before leaving. 

The re-closing of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road was a pressing issue, and once again Haganah leadership began drawing up plans for another offensive to re-open the road, christened Operation Harel.  As part of this process, and in the process of better organizing the Jewish forces, on 16 April 1948 a new unit was created, the 10th Brigade, AKA, the "Harel Brigade."  The Harel Brigade was comprised of four Palmach Battalions and commanded by Yitzhak Rabin.  The Company made quite a name for itself in the Battle for Mar Gush and in Operation Nachshon, and so when the Harel Brigade was formed, Yitzhak Rabin himself asked Avi Peled if he would join them.  Of course Avi agreed, and so that day Avi's men became part of Company A, 4th Battalion.  And the men became a part of Company D because part of becoming a 'real' infantry unit was understanding their numbers placed them at the platoon level, not the company level; this also meant that some of the promotions were going to have to be walked back, in order to conform to the brigade's table of organization.  That is, the men became 1st Platoon, Company A, 4th Battalion, 10th ("Harel") Brigade, and "Captain" Avi Peled would soon become Lieutenant Avi Peled.

As part of Operation Harel, the Harel Brigade, of course, would be leading the way.  It was set to begin that same day, 16 April 1948, but of course 1st Plt, D Co, 1st Bn was not ready due to casualties.  Their Company commander, Rafael Eitan, sat them out of the beginning of the operation to convalesce and absorb some replacements.  But very soon Avi would be leading 1st Platoon into action as part of Operation Harel.

V/R,
Jack

10 comments:

  1. Great game report.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was a damnably bloody action. Really am enjoying all the backstory to this campaign - it really brings an extra dimension to the games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gareth,

      Yeah man, I couldn't believe the accuracy of the enemy riflemen! I'm glad you like it, it's made the games even a bit more fun. I hope you've had some time to play as well, I really enjoyed your Forward Command batrep and am looking forward to more.

      V/R,
      Jack

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  3. "You guys can say 'but you as the player knew it didn't work,' and that's true, but that's not how I play my solo games. I try (as much as possible, and I certainly make mistakes and/or cheat ;) ) to put myself into the little guys' shoes, not allowing them to act on info they don't have. I try..."

    Good for you from a fellow soloist!!!

    Wonderful detailed account and pictures. As I am locked out of TMP for telling the truth, I'm glad you listed your blog in the link.

    Please keep 'em coming!!

    Cheers,

    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JJ,

      Thanks man, glad you liked it. I'm not sure why I'm locked out of TMP, I thought I was just holding serve with The Editor, but whatever...

      More on the way soon, just been working on some other projects for a bit. Too many projects...

      V/R,
      Jack

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  4. Just catching up on this blog Jack. Loving this...I have lots more to read, and need to try more of Ivan's rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duc,

      Hey man, good to see ya! Yeah, sorry, I've got too many blogs now, but I wanted to be able to have a central blog, and then blogs dedicated specifically to certain 'flavors.' I now have:

      -Cuba Libre, my alt-history where a Bay of Pigs-style invasion by Cuban exiles occurs in 1990 and succeeds, and then the new Democratic government deploys troops all over the globe in support of freedom and democracy.

      -The Old Lead Breed, where I follow a platoon of Marines throughout the Pacific in WWII, with some air and naval gaming thrown in too.

      -This one, Sword of Gideon, following a unit of Israelis from 1948 to present.

      -The "Hakuna-Matata Wars," where I'm playing out a series of wars between two made up African states from the 1950s to present.

      -And then the original, 'Blackhawkhet,' which is repository for all my painting projects, plus a catch-all for any other gaming I do that doesn't fir in any of the above.

      So catch up when you've got time, I've got plenty of stuff for folks to read ;)

      V/R,
      Jack

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