September Game Day – Sicily Double Blind After Action Report

by Mark Lueckenhoff

Our Invasion of Sicily game was pretty historically correct, but with a few major differences. The biggest was the weather, which which was too poor for airpower to be used in the first few turns, as well as the crucial last turn when the Axis should have been vulnerable to air assault while evacuating units from Messina to the toe of Italy. That die roll of 1 required for poor weather came up on five of the nine rolls. During the good weather, timely Axis interceptions repeatedly saved their bacon.

The British offensive was slowed from the start when their 1st Parachute Brigade was wiped out in the initial struggle for Syracuse. Things went better for the 82nd Airborne at Niscemi, but repeated Axis counterattacks and withdrawals caused it to change hands repeatedly all throughout the game. Fortunately, the amphibious operations had very few losses and has many early successes that allowed the quick establishment of supply dumps..

The Axis did a good job of bottling up the eastern coast road with gradual withdrawals and frequent counterattacks. There was a long, drawn out fight for Syracuse, which frequently falls in the first turn. The Americans made better progress as they battled northwest toward Palermo. Just as they reached the outskirts, a perfectly timed amphibious assault took the port. It was a good thing for them that it succeeded so quickly, because  part of the Herman Goering Division had just planted itself in their rear!. Without the timely capture of the port, large numbers of American units would have been cut off from their supplies and taken horrendous losses. Instead, the Americans could draw supplies from Palermo and thereby cut off supplies to all the Italian troops in the far western part of the island. They would quickly “wither on the vine.” The defense was doomed by that point, but able to make an orderly withdrawal across the straits before the game ended. That gave them enough victory points to claim a clear game victory.

In terms of actual losses, the Allies lost five units, which would represent slightly less than three divisions. The Germans lost a similar number, plus numerous Italian units. Although the Italian took heavy losses, their constant resistance and sacrificial counterattacks slowed down the Allies just enough to allow the evacuation.

This was probably our last game with this stylized board. Pat Lewis it constructing a new three dimensional version which, as you’d expect, is shaping up to be a real masterpiece. We’ll definitely have to play it again on the new board!

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