Title of the entry is in Italian, meaning "the fortified backyard of Gela".
In the (very) few accounts I read about the landing and the initial beachhead in Gela (10Jul43), the whole affair has the overtones of a cakewalk. I’m not saying it may have not been one, because compared to the scale and intensity of the events that followed just hours and days later, it may have been easy. But I bet there is no shortage of journalistic and historic research selective memory behind the high availability of material and accounts about all things Patton, 82nd Airborne and Goring Divisions with bare passing mentions about the outright badassery shown by the US Army Rangers and Engineers that cleared Gela.
I am still searching for a good map or aerial reconnaissance picture of the town of Gela, circa 1943. But I will not refrain from throwing together some US and Italian units in an historical fiction type of scenario.
So here is the initial situation for this scenario. After a successful landing, US Army Rangers and engineers are pushing north towards the edges of the town of Gela. As I briefly commented in a previous entry, the northern edge of Gela had a pillbox line and other obstacles for gliders. In this scenario, a company of US Army Rangers has been tasked with clearing that pillbox line. The company has fire support from a 37 mm AT gun, 2 light and 1 medium mortars and the batteries of the USS Savannah. A couple of jeeps and trucks were commandeered from the regular US Army forces still getting ashore.
|Birds eye view of the area of operations. Some Italian engineers were spotted retreating north, after unsuccessfully trying to blow some of Gela's buildings to create roadblocks.|
|The Company HQ quickly moved to one of the high rise buildings in the center of the area of operations. The view from there was rather alarming, showing a line of mutually supported pillboxes arranged to a moderate depth.|
|The 37 mm AT gun firing against "pillbox east" (background). A combination of HE and canister rounds kept that Italian HMG silent for the most part.|
|There was no vino for the Rangers moving through the pauper buildings of this vineyard.|
|Rangers hiding under the vines. By the time of this screenshot, the whole company is in a very small portion of terrain.|
|As soon as the last naval round lands, the Rangers picked themselves up and crossed the no-mans land. They needed to get into the rear of the pillbox line before the dust and smoke lifted.|
|The smoke and dust lifted too fast, leaving my Rangers with no option but to stop to engage the Italians.|
|And then the scenario ended. This was very fortunate because my forces were almost out of bunker-busting goodies (only a bazooka and the AT gun left). The morale of the Italians dropped too low and they surrendered completely.|