Chain of Command, Abyssinia May 1939!

Related, but not the same…much to like nevertheless! The following game was put on by ‘Pedivere’ and his group using The Abyssinian Crisis as inspiration for some more ‘what if’s’ in the lead up to the Second World War. Their battle report appears here as a ‘guest post’ on the TAC blog, as any can be if related to the Abyssinian Crisis theme. Their table, I think you will agree, is superb with many interesting details that really bring it life.

In this clash the Italians and French Legionnaires, with Ethiopian Mehal Sefari in support, have at it in a fight over an airfield in the Horn of Africa…

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Chain of Command, Abyssinia, May 1939

On Friday, our small Chain of Command group once again met for a game in our fictitious setting in Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia).

Situation – May 1939, Mussolini’s Italy attacked Albania to extend its influence in the Balkans. For Great Britain and France, the limits of appeasement policy have now been reached. In order not to encourage Germany to attack one of its neighbors, France wants to put an end to the fascist taunts.

 

In Syria, in recent years and months, the French had already contacted larger groups of troops and now decided to attack the Italians in Abyssinia, they who had conquered Abyssinia in 1936, despite protests by the League of Nations.

Together with a platoon of Mehal Sefari, a platoon of French Legionnaires tried to attack an Italian airfield near the strategically important Addis Ababa-Djibouti rail line, consisting of Italian infantry and armored vehicles.

(CoC scenario 3: Attack & Defend).

Overview of the battlefield

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Warned by their outposts, the Italians are sending out patrols that will soon hit their opponents and get involved in the fighting.

The Jump Off Points for the Legion and Mehal Sefari are placed cleverly in the features near the Italians on their left in the small dip in the ground between the village and the crops.

The Italian JOP’s are in the village in front of the fortress, near the grey corrugated iron huts and the small repair hall.

For the Mehal Sefari this engagement will ‘test their metal’, and accordingly, the commanders will have to motivate their troops to keep them in the fight. They will struggle somewhat to compete with the Italians who are confident in their modern armament and the support of two armored vehicles. (Force morale of the Italians is 10, that of the Regular Legion at 9, the Mehal Sefari at 7).

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Nevertheless, the motivating speeches do have an effect on the Abyssinians, who resolutely move into the village on the edge of the old unoccupied fort, and take the initiative from the Italians (a roll of 2 sixes means the next phase also belongs to the Mehal Sefari. The Italian JOP in the village is also overrun so the Italians cannot use it).

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To the south, the platoon of legionnaires is advancing towards the airport, a section tring to reach the opposite hill with its palm trees for cover.

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The Italian defenders are hastily occupying their prepared positions. In the background, a FIAT 611 comes on at full speed hoping to prepare a bloody reception for the Mehal Sefari.

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Not to be out done, the Mehal Sefari are now ready in position, and stealing themselves for the fight. One of the two Ethiopian  Half-Platoons tries to exploit the cover of the small valley as much as possible so as to respond to the fire of the Italian infantry as well…clever thinking.

…meanwhile the other Half-Platoon takes the most difficult task, the village, against the fire from the Italian infantry and the attacking FIAT 611.

In order to increase their chances, the Ethiopians have a number of surprises planned. They are supported not only by an advanced 20mm SEMAG cannon (which can at least cause some discomfort to the lightly armored vehicles and tanks of the Italians), but a battle-flag is planted for moral support as well (which prevents a shock point per phase).

In addition the Amsa aleqa (Inferior Senior Leader) is also supported by a British military adviser…the Ethiopians have certainly come to fight!

Though the attacking Abyssinians have suffered some losses they are mitigated somewhat because of the size of their sections, making their accumulated shock hits still manageable.

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Much to the chagrin of the Italian commander, so far the twin MG of the FIAT 611 has hardly had any impact, lurking behind a truck for cover! And yet, while other Italian armored infantry is moving up in support, the fate of the FIAT 611 is sealed before any infantry support can arrive – a volley of the SEMAG irreparably damages its main armament, which is not so good for Italian morale, and shortly afterwards the Italian Infantry takes flight.

(The lost section, the wounded leader, means the force morale of the Italians drops suddenly from 10 to 6, and the lost JOP in the village).

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“…good work chaps, that deserves a cup of tea!…”

The infantry had escaped and left their amazed NCO, whilst the other FIAT turned off as it was threatened by a movement of the advancing legion. The Italians try to throw more infantry into the battle via a truck ride, so the Ethiopian and Frenchmen’s work is not done yet.

In addition, two Italian infantry sections once again began moving forward. While one section took up a defensive position, the other section tried to advance into the village in a desperate action to break through the threatening encirclement by the Mehal Sefari and Legionnaires.

However, they are immediately caught in a crossfire by the complete platoon of Mehal Sefari, supported by a MMG team and the SEMAG cannon, which changes quickly from AP to HE ammunition.

With that counter stroke the Italian relief force collapses under immense losses. Only a few Italians get away from the horror as their comrades fall around them.

For the Italian commander there is nothing left to do but issue the order to retreat!

With his front lines collapsed, or no longer held, and as enemy forces begin to close, the advancing section of the legion threatens to cut off the Italian communication line.

The allies decide to await the arrival of more troops to occupy the hard fought positions.

Due to the strategic situation, a decisive counter-attack by the Italians is to be expected within a very short time and thus further battles for both sides…stay tuned!

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Again, an exciting game in our certainly quite unique setting, which has a really nice interwar (just!) backdrop.

Terrain comes from Pedivere and KingKobra.

Additional pics and articles on all these forces for The Abyssinian Crisis and related topics is well worth checking out…

The  Italians are by @KingCobra. The Abyssinians were painted and converted by Utgaard. A few pictures more can be found as usual on his blog:
http://utgaards-blog.blogspot.de/2017/04…of-command.html

Thanks guys for an excellent battle report, gorgeous looking terrain and interesting interwar theme.

For those that would like to see a bit more of the troops above please follow the links. I can;t emphasise enough how well done these models are – they are very evocative of the period and really show the the forces off in the spirit of the The Abyssinian Crisis. The ‘green coat’ is particularly nice in my view and we hope for more from Pedevire, Utgarrd and KingKobra.

I include a quick selection of eye candy here with the thanks to the guys for letting me host them. Top job!

A superb model of the Ethiopian 20mm SEMAG.

Check out the build post for this weapon…nice work

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An excellent mix of figures – Empress, Copplestone and Perry (head)

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