Well have a quick look at the map and then return to the story.
The Attack on El Vettah
The Germans had triumphed at Wechta Ridge, the remnants of the British Gurkhas fleeing Eastwards into, alas, either death from thirst or almost certain captivity, unless by some miracle, the remaining British forces around el Vettah could conjure up a miraculous victory.
Brigadier Teethyme, commander of the British forces, did his best, devising a cunning plan. First he ordered his intact infantry, the renowned 3rd Borsetshires (commanded by Lt Colonel Horatio Archer), to set a trap for Jerry. They were to establish field defences, manned by a skeleton force, dummies, hounds, anything, and when the enemy attacked petrol dumps would be set on fire to create huge plumes of black smoke, thus hiding the pathetic scale of the defence from the, no doubt, cautious Hun.. Meanwhile, the main force would take up command to the East. When Jerry attacked el Vettah they would pounce and hit him in the flank.
Meanwhile, the Royal Arthurian Tank regiment, under Colonel Cain, would motor north and hit the Germans in the rear thus destroying the invader.
It was a fine plan, only foiled by two things.
Firstly, the German command, under the bold General von Schmuckelgrubber, took command. He ordered Kampfgruppe Grundenpunder, a recently arrived new formation, to march West and capture the coast road. Grundenpunder quickly intercepted the British armour, who at first sight of the enemy scuttled off to safety in the south.
Secondly, when battle was joined at El Vettah itself, things started to go wrong for the British. The German left flank, to be the victim of the flank attack, consisted of a heavy armour formation. Their British opponents were lightly armoured infantry with some Valentines in support. The anti tank guns were left behind in El Vettah. No match for the German armour. Also, the British lost the element of surprise and were spotted on the way in. Although the Valentines were able to do some damage, the British infantry seemed not to have the heart for a battle and no sooner had they dismounted from their trucks than their commander decided to withdraw. Probably he was right, they had little chance at this stage, a good but complex plan had, alas, not worked out.
In the meantime, the Germans advanced cautiously and methodically on El Vettah. Here at least the British plan worked. For some time, despite the total absence of defending fire, the Germans did not realise that the town was empty. But in the end, their advance was so untroubled they reached the edge of the settlement and found no difficulty in capturing it.
Here’s the final map.
My own thoughts about the game are as follows. The Germans certainly had better troops, better equipment and an advantage in numbers. But they were careful and methodical in their moves and on the battlefield. They also had some luck, notably in the first game where they had massive artillery support, but it has to be said that they used it well.
The British on the other hand, suffered from their army lists, with an absence of transportation and some feeble armour. I did throw some bonus lorries and artillery spotters in to try to rectify the problem however. The combination of orders and moves led to a series of disasters for the British, and I think that it was by no means inevitable. In the circumstances, the British player was imaginative and tried hard to rescue El Vettah, and against an inexperienced German player might have succeeded. But alas, this was not to be and the well coordinated German forces protected flanks and rears thus neutralising the cunning plan of Brigadier Teethyme.
In gaming turns, it was a fun little action, with unusual situations, drama and a nice story line. We had some difficulties translating the complicated plan for the defence of El Vettah into a tabletop action and I had the feeling that neither player was very satisfied with my rulings!! Flank marches and edge of the table are complicated to deal with in this period.
Anyway, I hope in the end it was enjoyable. I think the idea is a good one and can be repeated. The key thing is that the players do not worry too much about winning and losing. Instead, it is essential to focus on the unfolding story and enjoy the narrative of the action. It seems that WW2 games particularly need to be played in this spirit.