Supercharge

Crusader tanks

Operation ‘Supercharge’
– El Alamein, November 2nd, 1942

by Tristan Powell

After his victory in Gazala and Tobruk, Rommel pursued the British into Egypt to the Alamein ‘Line’. El Alamein was the last defensive position west of the Suez Canal, and the British needed to hold the Axis forces there at all costs. Two attempts by Rommel to break past the Alamein Line were held in July, after which both sides pull back and dig in, awaiting reinforcements.
 
The British 8th Army commander General Auchinleck was replaced by General Montgomery who immediately set forth to reverse the tides of fortune in North Africa. Montgomery’s forces were bolstered enormously by fresh reinforcements, including the new Sherman tanks from the U.S., and in late October he launched Operation ‘Lightfoot’ to try and break the deadlock.

The massive Allied offensive was hampered considerably by the vast Axis minefields and dug in anti-tank defences of the Deutsches Afrika Korps. The 4th and 10th Armoured Divisions were held just clear of the mines by the combined German and Italian forces. At the north end of the line the 9th Australian Division pushed through and swung north, breaking a gap in the Axis lines.

On the night of November 1-2, Montgomery launched Operation ‘Supercharge’, a large frontal assault on the Tell el Aqqaqir defences in an effort ‘to bring about the disintegration of the whole enemy army’. It was to be the largest armour battle of the engagement.

Vickers Machine-gun team

The 151st and 152nd Infantry Brigades attached to the New Zealand Division were to clear a path through the minefields. This was to be followed up by an attack by the 9th Armoured Brigade on the German anti-tank gun lines at Tell el Aqqaqir. Finally, with the ridge held, the 1st Armoured Division were to follow through and engage the inevitable Panzer reinforcements.

After a rolling barrage by nearly 400 guns, at 0105 hours on November 2, the New Zealand Division advanced on the Axis lines. By 0530 the infantry had achieved the objectives, and the assault by 9th Armoured Brigade was due to start. However, casualties from mines had hindered their advance, and their assault was delayed to 0615.

The Battleground – Tell el Aqqaqir
British infantry take a German tank crew

Setup:

The western edge of the battlefield is dominated by a long ridgeline, the Tell el Aqqaqir. This ridge is pocketed with a string of gun pits for the dug in anti-tank guns. Below the ridge is an intermittent line of hastily dug trenches for the infantry. The rest of the battlefield can be represented with low rolling hills and broken ground, but for the most part should be open plain with no foliage. The allied forces are rushing into a killing ground, and speed is their only ally.

The Mission

9th Armoured Brigade: You have 30 minutes to break the Axis defensive position on Tell el Aqqaqir. The success of Operation ‘Supercharge’ hinges on you smashing the anti-tank gun positions on the ridge, and clearing the way for 1st Armoured Division to engage the enemy reserves. To make matters worse, the sun is beginning to rise behind you.

15th Panzer Division: The British have launched a major offensive on your position. You have many anti-tank guns dug in along the ridge, but the forward defences have been overrun, and the Allies have thrown a column of tanks at you. You must hold out until the Panzer regiments arrive.

Preparation:

1. The table should be set up according to the Battleground diagram. Defences and fortifications are already included in the setup.
2. The Axis player starts with the Panzer force in reserve at the start of the game. The Defence force are deployed first up to 8”/20cm into the Allied half of the table.
3. The Allies player deploys their entire force at least 12”/30cm back from the centre line.
4. Both players now place their Company Command teams in their deployment areas, starting with the Axis player.

Special Rules:

This mission uses the Delayed Reserves, Preliminary Bombardment, Prepared Positions, Fortifications, and Intense Battle special rules. 

Reserves come on from the west edge of the table. Fortifications should be set up as detailed on the map.  The defender gains no further fortifications.

This mission also utilises the following special rule (right):

Assault at Dawn – The attack has been very badly timed. The defenders are in well prepared positions, and to make matters worse, the sun is rising behind the attackers’ position. The silhouettes of your tanks offer a perfect target to the enemy guns.

Shooting units gain a -1 ‘to hit’ bonus when firing on any vehicles that are further east than the shooting teams current position. (This bonus will also apply to any attacking vehicles that manage to get behind the defenders). Note that this bonus does not apply to shots at Infantry and Gun teams.

Beginning the Battle:

1. The Allies player conducts a Preliminary Bombardment on the Axis lines.
2. The Allies player has the first turn.

Ending the Battle:

If the Allies player starts any of their turn in possession of either of the objectives on Tell el Aqqaqir, the game is an Allied Victory. 1st Armoured Division will arrive and drive deep into the heart of the enemies’ lines.

If the Allies player has no teams in the Axis half of the table from turn 6 onwards, the game is an Axis Victory. The British have been repelled, leaving enough time for Field Marshal Rommel to prepare and organised withdrawal.

A Crusader has a close call with Artillery

Historical Outcome

The 9th Armoured Brigade surged forward in battle line, breaking through enemy anti-tank guns and machine-gun posts. Unfortunately the attack had been timed too late and the sun rising behind them offered their silhouettes to the dug in 88s and anti-tank guns further west. Many tanks went up in flames, although the survivors pushed on towards Tell el Aqqaqir. Some even made it to within 10 yards of the defending guns before being knocked out.
 
Then the Panzers of the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions arrived to add to the destruction. Some of the British tanks made it to within 100 yards of the Aqqaqir ridge. 

Seventy of the Brigade’s 94 tanks had been wrecked, although some 35 enemy guns had been destroyed. The Ridge had not been achieved, but the enemy armour had been brought to battle with the 1st Armoured Division, a success in itself.

Using Other Forces

This scenario is designed with the set forces in mind. If playing with different forces, the attacker should be using an Armour company against an Infantry or Mechanised Infantry defender. The defenders’ force should be split in such a way that all armoured fighting vehicles (Tanks and other fighting vehicles) in their force be designated as the reserves.

The defender’s fortifications are such that any infantry begin within a short trench line, and gun teams are in gun pits.  If the defenders force is lacking in anti-tank guns, then you may want to alter the setup to give the defender some minefields. Conversely, if playing with an infantry heavy attacker, use barbed wire instead. Enough for a single line across the field should be enough.

The Forces

British
9th Armoured Brigade, British 8th Army
– Brigadier J. Currie
Armoured Squadron
(Confident Trained)

Company HQ
2 Crusader II (CiC and 2iC)
2 Crusader CS tanks



205 points

Combat Platoons   
Cruiser Troop
3 Crusader IIs


155 points

Cruiser Troop
1 Crusader CS, 2 Crusader IIs


155 points

Cruiser Troop
1 Crusader CS, 2 Crusader IIIs


165 points

Weapons Platoons  
Medium Troop
3 Sherman IIs


345 points

Medium Troop
3 Grant Is


285 points

Support Platoons  

Motor Platoon (Confident Veteran)
Trucked Motor Platoon (3 Squads)
Add 3 Anti-tank Rifle teams, Light Mortar



195 points

Armoured Car Platoon (Confident Veteran)
3 Humber Mk II armoured cars


105 points

Armoured Car Platoon (Confident Veteran)
3 Humber Mk II armoured cars


105 points

Total

1715 points

German (Defensive Force)  
15th Panzer Division, Deutsches Afrika Korps
– Generalmajor Gustav von Vaerst
Panzergrenadierkompanie
(Confident Veteran)

Company HQ
Both Company Commander and 2iC
upgraded to Panzerknacker SMG teams
2.8cm sPzB41 gun




90 points

Combat Platoons  
Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
(2 Squads)


160 points

Motorised Panzergrenadier Platoon
(2 Squads)


160 points

Weapons Platoons   
Light Anti-tank gun Platoon
HQ Section and
3x 5cm PaK38 anti-tank guns



145 points

Light Anti-tank Gun Platoon
HQ Section and
3x 7.62cm PaK36(r) guns



220 points

Support Platoons    
Heavy Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon
HQ Section and 1x 8.8cm FlaK36 gun
extra crew



160 points

Total

935 points

Panzer Force  
Panzer Platoon, 15th Panzer Division
3 Panzer III Gs, 1 Panzer III J (late)


375 points

Panzer Platoon, 21st Panzer Division
2 Panzer III Gs, 2 Panzer III J (late)


390 points

Total

765 points


Last Updated On Tuesday, February 5, 2008 by Wayne at Battlefront