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North Africa
Operation Brevity
by Paul Rohrbaugh

Outside Tobruk, Libya 15 May 1941 -- General Erwin Rommel’s first offensive in North Africa caught the Allied forces unprepared. This resulted in the Australian division being caught in Tobruk while the remainder of the Commonwealth forces regrouped and launched a counter-attack, entitled Operation Brevity, from the Libyan/Egyptian border. The “high water mark” of the Allied offensive, if such a cliché can be applied to desert warfare, was reached when the 4th Royal Tank Regiment and 1st Durham Light Infantry ran into the Italian 62nd Infantry Regiment of the Trento Division and elements of the 5th Panzer Regiment near the old Italian colonial outpost of Fort Capuzzo, just outside of Tobruk.

Victory Conditions
The Allied player wins the game immediately if he exits 40 points of units from the north map edge. Damaged units have half point value (round any fraction up). Exited units cannot return to the game. Failing that, the player with the most victory points (VP) at the end of the game wins. VP are awarded as follows:

  • 1 VP for each hill hex occupied, or a player was last to occupy, at the end of the game.
  • 2 VP for occupying, or being the last to occupy, the village at the end of the game.

The player with the most VP wins. A tie result is just that; a tie.

This scenario makes use of map D2 from the North Africa: 1940-1943 Map Guide.

Axis Forces

Elements of the 62nd Regiment, Trento Infantry Division
Unit Set Cost
Stalwart Lieutenant 1939-1945 6
Fucile Modello 1891 Infantry (4) 1939-1945 12
Brixia M35 45mm Mortar Contested Skies 4
47/32 AT Gun North Africa 7
Breda Modello 37 MG North Africa 8
L3/35 Light Tank D-Day 9
Minefield (4) D-Day 8
Squad Total 54

Elements of the 5th Panzer Regiment
Unit Set Cost
Panzer III Ausf. F (2) 1939-1945 26
Panzer II Ausf. C Base Set 9
Squad Total 35

Allied Forces

4th Royal Tank Regiment and 1st Durham Light Infantry
Unit Set Cost
Matilda II (2) North Africa 26
Morris Reconnaissance Car Mk. 2 North Africa 7
Universal Carrier Contested Skies 10
Vickers MG 1939-1945 8
2-Pounder AT gun North Africa 6
Inspiring Lieutenant 1939-1945 10
SMLE No. 4 Rifle (4) 1939-1945 12
Royal Engineers Base Set 10
Squad Total 89

Set Up and Game Length
The Axis player sets up first all units of the 62nd Regiment/Trento Division in or adjacent to the village and hill hexes on the map. All of the minefield units must be set up on the map (disregard the Trap card rule).

All Allied units set up second in any of the southern-most hexes on the map.

All units of the 5th Panzer Regiment will enter as reinforcements per a die roll check made after initiative for the turn is determined. Starting with turn 2 the Axis player rolls a die. If the DR is less than or equal to the current turn the units of the 5th Panzer Regiment will enter at any of the northern-most map hexes. If the DR is greater than the current turn the units will not enter this turn and the Axis player can try again in the next turn. Any DR of 6 is always a failing DR regardless of the turn number.

The game lasts 10 turns. The Allied player automatically has the initiative on Turn 1. Begin rolling for initiative normally starting with turn 2.

Special Rules

  • Dust: Any vehicle unit that moves 2 or more hexes will raise a dust cloud. Mark the hex the unit ends its move in with an objective marker (a cotton ball looks better!). Any attack into, from or through a Dust hex incurs a -1 DR modifier. Remove the Dust marker at the end of the turn.
  • Minefield Removal: The Royal Engineer unit can remove 1 minefield from an adjacent hex provided it does not move and is not disrupted.

Earlier Italian infantry had broken and run in the face of Allied tanks, but this would not be the case here. The Trento Division stood its ground, compelling the 4th RTR and 1st DLI to enter into a protracted fight. The Allied attack ultimately bogged down when the Matilda’s failed to dislodge the defenders and the German’s counter-attacked. With daylight and fuel running low the British withdrew. The siege of Tobruk would go on.

Additional Reading
Clayton, Tim. The End of the Beginning. New York: The Free Press, 2002.

Graham, Dominick. Against Odds: Reflections on the British Army, 1914-45. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Tuker, Francis Ivan Simms. Approach to Battle: Eighth Army, November 1941 to May 1943. London: Cassell, 1963.

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