The Battle of Gallabat, 1940

Scrivs and I played this game, based on the East African campaign, at the Cannon wargames show in Retford in March 2014.

Gallabat was one of a pair of forts on the border of Sudan and Italian East Africa; in November 1940, British forces in the area went on the offensive to drive the Italians out of East Africa.  After an artillery bombardment and air attack by bombers, the 3/18th Royal Garhwali Rifles went in accompanied by a squadron of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment. 

Hindered by boggy ground, eight-foot tall elephant grass, rocks and Italian mines, the tanks struggled and many broke down.  The Garhwalis, however, managed to clear the fort of its defenders—mostly Eritrean askaris—after a stiff fight. 

The position taken, the British forces awaited orders, but the Italians had taken the initiative back.  Having shot down five British fighters over the battlefield, the Italians gained air superiority and proceeded to call up waves of bombers which pounded the British positions inside and outside the fort.  The inexperienced 1st Essex suffered particularly badly and proceeded to retreat in some disorder  – when Brigadier Slim, commanding, drove down to halt them in his Bren carrier, he was informed that not only had the Italians retaken the fort, that the Brig was dead as well!  Despite the Brig disabusing them of this notion, morale was now dropping and casualties rising with no sign that the second Italian fort at Metemma could be taken.  The truck carrying all the tank spares was destroyed by a direct hit, and Slim reluctantly ordered a retreat from the fort.

Our game features a variety of 28mm models, mostly Perry Miniatures for the British and Empress Miniatures for the Italians, with a few Perry, Warlord and Askari Miniatures as well.  The British Vickers Wellesley bomber is an ancient Matchbox kit from the 1970s; the elephant grass is made from aquarium plants; and the fort has been scratch built.  We are using the ‘I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum’ rules for WW2 by Two Fat Lardies with a  few modifications and a ruler marked with ‘big inches’!

There is a detailed write-up of the game and more pics on Scrivs’ blog here:

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