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Gazala simulates the critical battle in the summer of ’42 that led to the fall of Tobruk and the arrival of the Axis armies at the gates to the Nile delta.
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Starting with the Italian invasion of Egypt in September, 1940, war flowed back and forth across the North African deserts for 18 months. The summer of 1942 found the Axis and Allied armies facing one another west of Tobruk, where the Commonwealth forces had dug in behind extensive minefields. Each army prepared to renew the offensive, but the Axis won that race. On the night of May 26th four mobile divisions turned the southern flank of the British line at Gazala.
Gazala simulates the critical battle in the summer of ’42 that led to the fall of Tobruk and the arrival of the Axis armies at the gates to the Nile delta. We’ve shown the battles before on a tactical level in our Desert Rats game. With 140 game pieces and one 22x17-inch map, Gazala’s three scenarios can be played in one to eight hours. The game system is very similar to that in America Triumphant and Alsace 1945, with the addition of anti-tank fire. Most units are brigades or regiments, with a few battalions as well (usually tanks). Italian, German, British, South African, Indian and Free French units are represented.
The following scenarios are included in the game:
The Axis in Africa saw their position quickly becoming untenable position as Allied strength grew almost on a daily basis. Soon the British would have overwhelming power with which to eject the Axis from the continent. An immediate attack seemed the best, maybe the only, hope to win the war in Africa. The attack against the British Gazala defenses set out late on May 26th. Initially the Axis attacks gained little ground and suffered casualties at a rate, which lower than those being inflicted on the British, would soon erode German and Italian striking power.
The Axis desert offensive in May 1942 was a gamble. The British Army was strong and known to be preparing an offensive of their own. The first few days of the attack went well for the German and Italian formations, but soon threatened to develop into a battle of attrition that only the British would win. Erwin Rommel turned an all-but-stalemated battle into a victory the likes of which the Axis would never again see in Africa.
The British did not meekly await the Axis attack at Gazala. They had been extending the desert railroad line from the Delta in order to more easily move reinforcements and supplies to the front. Immediately following the completion of the railroad extension, General Ritchie, commanding the Desert Army, planned to attack. He expected to wear down the Axis forces by virtue of his superiority in armor and drive them from Cyrenaica. The British attack was, fatefully, scheduled to begin several days ahead of the Axis offensive, but delays in the railroad construction program pushed it back and the Germans and Italians went first. If the railroad had been finished on time. . . .
Gazala simulates the critical battle...