Monday, 7 February 2022

Dash to the Oum er Rbia

Dash to the Oum er Rbia

Morocco 10th November 1942

This is a fictional game. Part of the orders placed upon Sub-Task Force BLACKSTONE after its landing and seizure of Saafi during Operation Torch was to send an armoured task force overland north to Casablanca. Critical to this advance were the road and rail bridges over the Oum er Rbia River near the town of Mazagan . This game is based on the premise that Vichy forces Attempted to halt the US advance from Saafi to Casablanca following the landings, after all Casablanca didn`t surrender until November 11th! Historically forward elements of 2nd Armoured reached Mazagan in the early hours of November 11th to find the bridges intact and unguarded.

Maj. Gen. Ernest N. Harmon has to therefore as per his initial campaign orders send a probe north to secure those crossings ahead of his tank battalion which has to be unloaded and prepared before they can follow.

US orders

You are a Captain with "B" Company, 67th Armoured Regiment, 2nd Armoured Division this morning your command was finally unloaded at the Port of Safi in French controlled Morocco.

You have been given command of an all-arms task group with the mission of heading north along the coastal road from Safi until you reach the River Oum er Rbia where you are to seize and secure the road and rail bridges and hold them until the rest of 2nd Armoured can arrive and push onto Casablanca. Your force is very ad hoc with the infantry elements motorised using whatever old French vehicles they could find and get running from Safi.

 This is your chance to make a name for yourself, gain glory for your regiment - make it happen!

 US Forces

Elements 1st Tank battalion, 67th Armoured Regiment

4 x M3 Stuart

Elements 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion

1 x GMC 75SP TD

Elements 81st cavalry Group

Jeep w/radio, Jeep w/MMG, White scout car (14 men)

Elements "B" Company, 41st Armd Infantry (carried in assorted confiscated French trucks/cars)

HQ - CO, RTO, NCO, driver

2 platoons each with:

10 men (BAR, Rifle grenadier)

From battalion:

60mm mortar team, .30cal MMG team, Bazooka team (3 rockets)

 On turn 6 + 1D6 a single F4F flying from a make-shift landing strip at Saafi will arrive over the table and attack targets of opportunity

Vichy French orders

You are a lieutenant serving with the 41st colonial mixed regiment in Morocco. You have been placed in command of the defences of the two vital bridges (road and rail) across the Oum er Rbia River south of Casablanca. A rather boring detail, but hey ho but at least you are out of the garrison and in command.

Then yesterday morning the air was full of aircraft, American aircraft! The sounds of explosions drift in the still desert air. Now this morning when scanning the sea you see many ships of all sizes moving north towards Casablanca and south towards Saafi - invasion! Early yesterday a motorised column from your regiment drove through heading south towards Saafi answering a call for reinforcements.

You have to organise some form of defence!

 The bridge garrison is centred at a small farm near the southern end of the road bridge, there is a check point for road traffic near the farm gate. There is a single concrete bunker situated at the northern end of the road bridge with a check point for south moving traffic.  

French Forces

Troops can be dug-in using sand bag emplacements or entrenchments, the command post is a small farm can be lightly fortified

Bridge defence company

HQ - CO, NCO, telephone op, 3 runners

2 platoons of 41st Colonial Regiment each with:

10 men (FM24/29, VB launcher)

1 Hotchkiss MMG team

1 Hotchkiss 25mm AT gun plus crew

Element 412DCA

1 x 25mm CA39 AA plus crew

 Element 67RAA

75mm Montee

 After turn 6, the French commander gains reinforcements from Casablanca, they arrive 1D6 turns after.


Renault UE Coloniale

Two platoons of Senegalese in trucks, each with:

10 men (FM24/29, VB launcher)

On turn 10 a single Morane Saulnier MS406 will arrive over the table and strafe visible Americans

The Table

Looking north towards Casablanca

Looking from the Atlantic
The bridges

The farm

French initial dispositions
The French commander placed his 25mm concealed south of the farm, he also placed a single squad with a VB launcher and some anti-tank rifle grenades in a similar forward position, both these were covered by an LMG team. 

The MMG was set up on the farm roof, the farm buildings occupied by the remains of 1st platoon, plus half of 2nd platoon (inc their VB launcher).
Across the river, the bunker was manned by half of 2nd platoon with an LMG, the 25mm AA gun was also positioned to protect the bridges. The 75 montee was concealed with heavy camouflage on the northern end of the rail bridge.

The Americans arrive

Turn 1 sees the AT gun miss the lead tank

Turn 2, sees the three leading Stuarts all engage the AT gun (which misses again), the recce units moves off the road behind the Stuarts. The Stuarts combined fire knocks out the 25mm.

Turn 3 The Stuarts still plaster the AT position, whist the recce moves parallel to the rail line and the first truck of infantry halts and debusses. The Americans get a nasty surprise as a rifle grenade hits and knocks out the lead Stuart!

Turn 4 the US infantry move to the road whilst the other two Stuarts desperately spot for the grenadier (fail), he puts a fragmentation grenade into the advancing infantry causing casualties.

Turn 5 sees the Stuarts firing HE and machine guns into the scrub where the grenadier was hiding, the US infantry are hit by LMG fire and go to ground in the ditch by the road. The Recce M3 scout car and armed Jeep add their .50 and .30cal fire to supress the French defenders, eliminating the LMG team by the farm and killing most of the outlying ambush squad.
Turn 6 sees the arrival of the French reinforcements on the tables northern edge.

The farm is under direct attack supported by the GMC75 and the various vehicle and tank mounted MGS

American air support is diced for and the F4F will arrive on turn 10
Turns 7-9 fighting for the farm in quite bloody, one American platoon is forced to ground by failed morale check due to casualties! The recce M3 takes a direct hit off a VB frag grenade which wipes out its crew, this causes the recce infantry to also fail a morale check and go to ground! The French MMG is wiped out by the GMC75! One Stuart makes a wide flanking move and bursts into the farmyard taking some defenders by surprise these receive an immediate morale check (which they all fail miserably) and they surrender!

Turn 10 sees both side air support arrive over the tabletop, it also sees the French reinforcements reach the bridge

The first Senegalese platoon debusses to support the armour at the bridge

The F4F pilot not only out flys, but successfully shoots down the MS406

The US infantry clear the farm, the recce infantry are rallied by their Lieutenant, who orders them to the railway bridge. The US support weapon sections are now also in the fight moving into position to support further advances.
Turn 11 & 12
Two Stuarts and the GMC75 exchange fire with the R-35 on the bridge - all pretty poor shooting, any hits failing to penetrate, the 75 Montee breaks cover and adds its fire against the Yanks (to little effect).

The second Senegalese platoon moves to cover the bridge, the 1st now moves right to the railway bridge. The F4F returns but is driven off by the 25mm AA.

Turn 13
The R-35 is blown to bits by the GMC75, the 75 Montee takes a 60mm mortar round which effectively knocks it out!

The US infantry are fully in control of the farm, they exchange fire with the Senegalese supported by Stuart tank MGs and their own .30cal team causing several casualties.
Turn 14 the bunker takes a direct hit from the GMC75 and although only one man is killed a morale check is required next turn. 

The Renault UE Coloniale fails its morale check and turns tail and clatters away….

The Senegalese on railway bridge find themselves facing a Stuart plus the recce infantry, they decide to retreat back to the north bank.
Turn 15 
The bunker occupants totally blow their morale check and abandon their position, the Senegalese reach the north bank as the Stuart starts across the bridge after them, the 25mm AA is wiped out by a direct hit from a Stuart`s 37mm – its all over, victory to the Americans.

Final shots of the game


  1. Great stuff as always Richard- love the aircraft.



    1. Cheers Pete, do like the photo of the burning MS406

  2. Richard, another cleverly conceived game based on a historical what-if. Great table layout. It looks very long! (Or is that just the camera angle giving appearance of a twelve feet long table edge length!!)
    I have been a fan of your use of the "Battle" rules, as they remind me of games with Lionel Tarr's rules of my yesteryear(s)!
    Would a grenade launcher be able to 'KO' an M3 Stuart ? I can see how an open top gun carriage would be decimated by a direct hit from grenade launcher, but it would surely take a lucky hit into an open turret hatch from a grenade launcher to KO the M3?? Whatever this doesn't detract from the quality of your game and its photo report! (A scenario for me to try out at home!) Carl

  3. Hi Carl - 10ft X 4 table this time, no need for width.

    The VB launcher had a few different types of "grenade" - Fragmentation, Illumination, gas + a interesting hollow round into which messages could be placed (this also trailed yellow smoke to help its location and recovery). The French experimented with a concussive grenade for anti-bunker use too.

    In our games I have always allowed freak incidents (the gods of dice effect), I`ve read of rifle rounds going down tank barrels and into the vehicle though the open breach! Small calibre rounds jamming turrets OR breaking transmission sprockets, OR tracks, etc. In this case the VB grenadier rolled an 11 (2d6) to hit followed by a 12 (2d6)!! So even if I give the grenade a strike value of 1 it still overcomes the defence value of the Stuart (12) knocking it out!! Maybe it was a concussive grenade and all the crew have been knocked out?

    Don`t forget Tiger 131 (Bovington) was captured because it was disabled by a freak 6pdr shot :)