Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Penon de Velez de la Gomera

Penon (crag) de Velez de la Gomera is a small offshore island located 119 km (72.7 miles) southeast of Ceuta. It is a steep rock island with a length of 400 meters northwest-southeast and a width of up to 100 meters, and a height of 80 meters above the sea, it covers about 19,000 square meters in total. There is another smaller island linked to its larger neighbor by a wooded bridge. The islands are situated only 85 meters from the Moroccan shore and can be easily reached by foot at low tides.

The Riffi attack – March 22, 1922
The Penon was garrisoned by a company of men from the Regiment de Infantries de Africa No68 commanded by a captain. The garrison also had two small cannon and one machine gun. Apart from the garrison there were also a number of prisoners and civilians on the Pennon including wives and families of officers.

After dark on March 22, the Riffi using small boats silently approached the small island. They managed to scale the rock without being spotted and then without warning swarmed over the parapet and attacked the soldiers stationed there. The garrison was alerted by gunfire and rushed to man the main defences, just in time, it was low tide and the Riffi were attacking the main island from the shore. Other Riffi tried to cross the connecting bridge between the two islands or fired at the defenders from their vantage point.

The Riffi main attack was beaten off, but the captain was killed and many of the garrison also casualties. Things were so grim that the civilian families were evacuated off the Penon by naval submarine during the nights of 24/25 March.

The situation got steadily worse with the defenders under constant rifle and occasional cannon fire until early April when volunteers from La Legion where transported by sea from Melilla. The relief party; Lieutenants – Jose Martinez Esparza and Alfreez Diaz de Rabago with one sergeant, six corporals and forty-four legionnaires immediately moved into the forward positions on the rock. The next morning they launched an assault on the smaller island driving the Berbers off at bayonet point. With the arrival of the legionnaires upon the Penon, the enemy’s ardor diminished and although they continued to harass the defenders they never again attacked in force.

For the purposes of our game, we ignored the civilians and started at the point where the Riffi were already occupying the smaller island and making their all out attack. The spanish garrison were alerted and in position, we decided that Legion reinforcements would arrive by sea at 1D6 turns + 5 (much to the boys horror a 6 was roled)

Garrison - 2 x 9 man platoons (rifle armed), 4 man HQ, 1 Hotchkiss MMG, 1 65mm mountain gun
Riffi - 4 - 10 figure harkas, 2 - 7 figure units in fishing smacks
Spanish reinforcements - El Tiburon (gunboat) with 13pdr + 2 MGs; 2 - Legion platoons (9 men inc 1 LMG each), 4 man Legion HQ

Penon de velez de Gomera
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Riffi attackers
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the spanish begin to take casualties
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The Riffi Lewis gunner (center figure a Bandera standard bearer with Matchbox plastic Lewis) causes many casualties
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The Riffi fire drives back the defenders
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The Spanish Sergeant trys to save the 65mm
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Turn 11. El Tiburon arrives, La legion charges to the rescue
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The last Arab sees his fate approaching!
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The game ran close, the Spanish defenders fire was unlucky, whilst the Riffi (me) kept rolling 6s. The spanish slowly withdrew along the island, but were out of officers and virtually wiped out just as El Tiburon arrived! The ships crew used their MGs and 13pdr to good effect as the legionnaires scrambled ashore. Once ashore the battlecry "Viva la Muerta!" was shouted and the two platoons with colours flying launched a bayonet charge into the remaining Riffi........

Excellent game, close and tense

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