Monday, October 1, 2012

Panzer Campaigns Tunisia '43 - German Attack on Sidi Bou Zid - 15Feb1943 to 16Feb1943

The evening of 14Feb1943 brought more disruption for the already faltering momentum of the 10th and 21st PzDiv. The 10th PzDiv (grey and light blue counters) found itself short of targets, wary both of US armor from the west flank and US combat engineers who during the day hours had made their lives miserable all over the groves and orchards between Sidi bou Zid and Poste de Lessouda.

15Feb1943. 0200 Hours. A cold night with little progress ...
The 21st PzDiv. (grey and brown counters) had reached the main objective (Sidi bou Zid) but couldn't break into the tiny village. The diehards of the 34st US Infantry Division holding it are no less than the HQ staff and the divisional commander. Repeated attempts by the tanks of the 21st PzDiv. to evict the Americans from the objective were abandoned after the loss of two PzIIIs. The other exploit of the 21st PzDiv. (breach through Djebel Ksaira) was also not too impressive but at least had better prospects. A 2km gap was opened and the pass was ripe for plucking.

But at least those units were in contact. The rest of the 21st PzDiv. (PzGren and artillery) was still snailing its way forward to Sidi bou Zid along highway 125. Nothing is more shameful than loosing a fight because you didn't show up.

Pz Gren. and support weapons of the 21st PzDiv. moving through highway 125. Sidi bou Zid is located NW of the area shown here. This screenshot is for you Hudson. :) Click on it, please.
At dawn, the battlefield came alive again. The mop up between Sidi bou Zid and Poste de Lessouda was completed with no small effort, in part due to the remnants of US combat engineers who hid and recovered during the night. Sidi bou Zid fell to German hands after (finally) some PzGren. from the 21st PzDiv arrived and supported the tanks in the assault to the village. The day also shed some light on the whereabouts of some unaccounted for US armor and infantry units that were not completely destroyed. These enemy units were all trying to regroup on our northern flank, in the area around the Lessouda heights and were either destroyed or driven into a rout by 142 PzGren supported by 9 assault guns and 6 Tiger tanks.

15Feb1943. 1400 hours. The mop up between Sidi bou Zid and Poste de Lessouda is complete. Both the 10th and 21st PzDiv have started regrouping and are preparing to advance west.
A US armor counterattack was expected, yet we had to drive ourselves into it. Overcautious of not showing up with not enough armor and men, we slowly crept west in order to allow stragglers to catch up with the forward units. Of critical importance was also to move forward our artillery tubes for the meeting engagement. By the evening hours, we were barely in contact and brushed off enemy units that advanced piecemeal. If there was a worry, that was not knowing the direction of the enemy counterattack. Our reconnaissance units were now limited to two armored vehicles ...

During the night hours we continued to make sporadic contact with the enemy, just enough to figure out their axis of attack. We pivoted and oriented north and paused to recover from fatigue and lack of fuel.

I really wish I could have fought the American armor! The scenario ended at 0800 on 16Feb1943, just short of that tank battle ...

Endgame at 0800, 16Feb1943. The US 1st Armored Division (green and brown counters) are about to hit us from the north. I managed to form up a good amount of tanks from the 21st PzDiv (grey and brown counters, left flank) and the 10th PzDiv (grey and light blue counters), but my forces are outnumbered ... That grey and orange counter is a platoon of Tigers that have barely seen tank vs tank combat.

The result of the battle was a draw. I guess I was heavily penalized in points by the loss of 36 vehicles. 
Good scenario, but it would have been great to see the battle last through the 16th. The night movement penalties in disruption and movement points of this game are very unforgiving and add a lot to the tactical gameplay for scenarios that span for more than one day.


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