Panzer Battles: North Africa 1941 – Recce and Security

Another camp-stomping action in John Tiller Software's North Africa 1941. Following the successful break-in and elimination of the Italian Nibeiwa Camp, my North Africa tour moves now to the Italian Tummar Camp. In real life, this action took place on the same day as the one described before.

Figure 1.

And just because we love tanks, let me share you a story from what is all the British 7th Royal Tank Regiment could master in support of the 5th Indian Brigade. This is, gentlemen, a humble gathering of around 20 Matilda IIs (two companies minus change). A recce unit from the same Regiment, composed of four MarkVIBs had a busy afternoon switching between tasks with the cheerful motivation of a schoolboy, but with the fearlessness and resolve that only comes from men.

The British 7th Royal Tank Regiment showed up from the west, with an steady aim at the Tummar West Camp (figure 1). As with the Nibeiwa Camp, the 2nd Divisione Libica (2nd Libyan Division, an Italian Division formed with Libyan nationals) has bunkered in these circular defensive positions protected by trenches, obstacles and mines. Not that we have not done this before (see previous blog post), but the anxiousness this time comes from the fact that the main assault force is a approaching the area from far away in the south, some 5 km away. The 7th Royal Tank Regiment is on its own, with no infantry or indirect fire support.

The recce unit has moved north and south taking potshots from enemy AT guns and trying to identify a better gap in the defensive belt, but once more expediency has won over tactical finesse and the Matildas broke through the shortest route at the main road, moving aside anything it found on its way. So successful they were and so great their momentum that even the HQ unit -with an assortment of light skinned vehicles more suitable for camping than fighting-  has moved forward to keep the west gate of the camp open for reinforcements (which never came). In the tactical situation of figure 1, the recce unit was recalled from its reconnaissance mission around the defensive belt and directed to the west gate of the camp. If the Libyans really tried, they could have isolated the Matildas inside the camp by showing up at that very same gate, cutting off the 7th from its supply line.

One hour later, the recce unit was asked to move east and reconnoiter the trench system that served as the headquarters of the 4th Regiment of Fanteria Libica. The tanks couldn't assault without a reconnaissance of this maze of trenches. The MarkVIBs did a work that was more adequate for infantry, and the deed of taking the objective was completed shortly thereafter (figure 2).

Figure 2

A time later, the Libyans launched a counter attack from the east towards the recently taken objective (not shown in this blog post). This 200+ men push was enough to stall the further advance of the 7th Regiment. This kept the Matildas busy for the duration of the battle, and the punch power of armor that proved so effective a few hours ago, was blunted by the enemy.









Leave a Reply