Thursday, 17 March 2022

French Counter Attacks at Port Lyautey, Morocco - Game 1

 French Counter-attack at Port Lyautey, November 9th 1942

Game 1: Southern flank

At sunset on 8th November the wind increased and the swell and surf were soon running too high to unload further tanks and heavy equipment onto the beach. Boats had great difficulty landing and leaving the beaches troops became mixed up and confusion reigned.

Things were so upset that the US commander gathered all available men including shore parties into provisional units and sent these to hold defensive positions on the ridgeline east of the beach. Seven M3 tanks of 66th Armoured Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Harry Semmes was directed to the southern edge of the beachhead to take up blocking positions astride the Rabat-Port Lyautey highway. At 6.30am a Vichy force lead by R-35 tanks advanced north from Rabat.


Semmes` tanks withdrew behind a slight rise and held the Vichy attack without difficulty, the front armour of the Stuarts proved too good for the French shells to penetrate! They knocked out at least four R-35s and inflicted casualties on the accompanying infantry forcing the French to break off.

General Truscott sent some reinforcements to support Semmes force and together with these he broke up another French attack at 9am. Though during this action at least two Stuarts were knocked out as the two forces stalked one another among the sand dunes and cactus groves.

The Game 

This is a composite scenario based loosely on the 9am French attack, a simple attack defence game, but I`ve given the French a nice mix of forces in a more what if case scenario.

Our table

Looking north towards Port Lyautey

General views

US defenders: Team Semmes

4 x M3 Lt tanks

Provisional scratch company from 60th Infantry Regiment

HQ - CO, RTO, NCO, runner, .30cal team, 60mm mortar team, 1 rifle grenadier 

3 platoons each with: 10 figs (inc BAR)

37mm AT plus crew and tow

Off table support

Every other turn beginning on turn 4 (4, 6, 8, etc) the infantry HQ may call in naval support fire – 2 tubes (120mm) from an off shore destroyer.

 On turn 6 roll 1D6 to indicate the arrival of a single F4F which can carry one bombing attack and then spend a turn strafing any visible targets.

 French attackers


2 - R35, 2 - H35, 1 - White Am50 A/C, 1 - Renault UE colonial

Company of 21st Colonial Regiment

HQ - CO, 2IC, 2 runners, MMG team

3 platoons each with: 10 men (FM24/29, VB launcher)

Company of Moroccans

HQ - French CO, Moroccan 2IC, 3 runners

2 platoons each with: 10 men (FM24/29, VB launcher)

1 platoon of ten men (50mm mortar)


75mle1897 plus crew & tow

On turn 2D6 + 2 a single Morane Saulnier MS406 will fly in and deliver a strafing attack against the US line.

The game

Initial dispositions:

The US infantry occupied the farm, with half a platoon out front and 3rd platoon in reserve; the MMG and 37mm were situated within the farm also. 3 of the tanks were positioned hull down on the left of the road, with the last in reserve behind the farm.

The Vichy advanced across a broad front, the Colonial company to the right, the Moroccans on the left, each company supported by a couple of tanks. Straight up the road in the centre went the armoured car, the UE Coloniale and the towed `75. The Vichy rolled for their air support, it will arrive on turn 9

Turn one saw only the US 60mm in range, it dropped an accurate bomb on the left-most Moroccan platoon, first blood to the Yanks.

Turn two the mortar missed this round, but the 37mm brewed up the White AM on the road

Turn 3 saw the Vichy spread out, the UE Coloniale left the road and headed toward the farm which was being targeted by the H-35. The US platoon out in front of the farm came under fire from the lead Moroccans and took serious casualties and were forced to withdraw!

Turn 4 The US commander calls in naval support fire which wipes out the UE Coloniale

Turn 5 sees the Vichy advance continue, the Moroccans supported by two H-35s exchange fire with the US infantry.

Turn 6 Naval support fire lands on the central Moroccan platoon causing casualties and forcing them to ground.

The US 37mm exchanges fire with a H-35, most of its crew are killed but a fantastic 12 to hit (on 2D6) followed by an 11 for effect! Wiped out the Vichy tank.

The US commander dices for his air support, it will also arrive on turn 9!

Turn 7 The Stuart in reserve moves forward to support the infantry in the farm, unfortunately it exposes itself to the now deployed `75 which promptly knocks it out!

On the American left the hull-down Stuarts open fire on the approaching R-35s, one is knocked out with the first salvo

Turn 8 Naval gun fire again targets the Moroccans, again causing casualties

The Stuarts on the US left target the remaining R-35 brewing it up!

The Moroccans on the US left clear the farm wall at bayonet point

Turn 9 both sides get air support, who promptly decide to have a private little war over the table.

The Stuarts on the US left move forward and engage the Vichy colonial company with machine guns and cannon fire, they inflict serious casualties!

The French `75 damages one which moved into an exposed position.

The Moroccans now supported by the last H-35 occupy the southern farm wall and outbuilding.

Turn 10 both planes fly rings around one another exchanging fire to little result! The Stuarts continue to press the colonial infantry causing more casualties, they break and run…..

The Moroccans on the US right were targeted by the off shore naval fire losing more men, they don`t have the strength to push across farm and oust the US infantry dug in around the farm building, even with the H-35.

Turn 11 Both planes expend all the ammo and head for home both carrying slight damage. The Stuarts having driven off the colonial company begin to move towards the Moroccan flank, the Vichy `75 goes to engage them but a double 1 is rolled and the breech jams!!

At this point I decided the game was over, victory to the US



  1. Well done Richard, a great "what if" game based on historical events, and rarely aired Vichy - USA engagement; lovely report.

    1. The battle happened as I wrote it, whether some of equipment is identical to what was there is subject to guesswork. The units - Moroccans, Colonial French, 1st Chasseurs d`Afrique and the Americans were all historically correct as was the games outcome :)