Iraq 1941 - Scenario 3
EL DHIBBAN (RAF HABBANIYA) -
-6 MAY 1941
This scenario is a deliberate assault on a partially fortified position occupied by an unknown number of well concealed enemy.
It is 6th May 1941. The siege of RAF Habbaniya is well under way with the Iraqi forces in dominating positions on the plateau about 1,000 metres to the south and blocking the road east to Baghdad at Sinn el Dhibban village. The aircraft from the base, despite losses, have conducted a spirited and effective air campaign that has inflicted significant losses on the besiegers. The Iraqis are mainly regular army infantry and artillery supported by armoured cars and a few light tanks. In addition there are significant numbers of irregulars who style themselves as militia. The bombing has been consistent since 3 May and has had a marked effect on the Iraqis. Reinforcements in the form of the Kings Own Royal Regiment have arrived by air. An aggressive policy of night patrolling has kept the Iraqis at a distance.
Iraqi artillery and air raids have inflicted many casualties but have not seriously damaged the ability of the RAF to mount air operations. Indeed, none of the
To the north lies the River Euphrates which curves around RAF Habbaniya. It is almost invisible from the camp because of the high bankings, called bunds, which contain it. About 1,000 metres to the south and almost touching the Euphrates in the east runs a plateau on which the main Iraqi force was positioned. Where the plateau and the Euphrates form a bottleneck is the mud brick village of Sinn el Dhibban with some smaller sherifas (huts) further east along the road to Falluja and Baghdad.
The ground between the airfield and the plateau is generally flat broken by small irrigation water courses and the bunds. Between the airfield and Sinn el Dhibban the ground is flat and dusty, partly cultivated and divided by irrigation ditches and bunds.
The airfield perimeter is marked by a high fence, a bund and a series of two storey blockhouses. Each Blockhouse is garrisoned by Iraq Levies with at least one MMG. Just outside the fence is the sewage farm which, with its surrounding bunds forms a small fort.
Overnight there has been considerable rearward movement from the plateau. The Iraqi troops in vehicles and armoured cars are moving eastwards. That said, Iraqi forces are still occupying the village of Sinn el Dhibban and the heights behind it.
British Force Briefing
Mission: To clear the enemy from Sinn el Dhibban.
The Euphrates secures the left flank of the operation and there are no known enemy positions north of the river. The sewage plant forms a secure base from which mortars may cover the assault.
Enemy forces of approximately company strength are in Sinn el Dhibban and a further force is on the plateau to the right rear of the village.
The Blockhouses and the defensive positions are linked by field telephones. The Blockhouses also have telephone to RAF HQ and radio links to artillery, aircraft and the 1/KORR Tactical HQ.
Your assault begins at 0730. Mark where your assault forces start lines are. These are the positions into which they moved overnight.
1/Kings Own Royal Regt
( Detachment, no vehicles)
Tac HQ: 2 x Officer, 2 x radios, 4 x Rifles
MG Platoon (2 x Vickers MMG & crews)
Pioneer Platoon (6 men with demolition charges, bangalore torpedoes etc.)
Two Rifle Companies each
1 x Officer, 1 x Boys, 1 x 2 Mor, 2 x LMG, 4 x SMG, 12 x Rifles
No1 Armoured Car Company RAF
3 x Rolls Royce Armoured cars (4 crew each)
3 x Boys, 3 x Rifles on rear of cars
No4 Assyrian Coy Iraq Levy (3 x Trucks + drivers)
In reserve inside RAF Habbaniya
1 x Officer, 2 x LMG, 1 x SMG, 14 x Rifles, 1 x MMG & crew, 1 x 3 Mor and Crew.
HQ in blockhouse
Artillery FOO, RAF Controller
No3 Assyrian Coy Iraq Levy
(in Blockhouse & trenches guarding KORR start line)
1 x Officer, 2 x LMG, 1 x SMG, 14 x Rifles, 1 x MMG & crew, 1 x 3 Mor and Crew.
1 x 4.5 Howitzer & crew (observer in Blockhouse)
2 x Hawker Audax each 2 x 250lb bombs
1 x Airspeed Oxford 8 x 20lb bombs
2 x Gloster Gladiator 4xMMG
Iraqi Force Briefing
Mission: To hold Sinn el Dhibban village until nightfall in order to allow the main force to withdraw along the main road to Falluja.
The forces in Sinn el Dhibban are well dug in and concealed. The MMGs and LMGs are to be sited with good fields of fire across the front of the village. Field telephones connect main positions and also the officer to the HQ on the plateau.
SINN EL DHIBBAN FORCE
One Rifle Company
1 x Officer, 1 x Boys, 2 x LMG, 16 x Rifles
One MG Platoon (1 x Wagon + driver)
2 x Vickers MMG, 4 crew.
One mortar platoon (1 x wagon + driver)
2 x 3 Mortars, one observer, 4 crew.
The forces on the plateau are not dug in but have improvised shell scrapes and fire positions.
HQ (2 x cars + 2 drivers)
2 x Officers, 1 x Boys, 1 x LMG, 3 Rifles
One Motorised Rifle Company (2 x trucks + drivers)
1 x Officer, 1 x Boys, 2 x LMG, 14 x RiflesOne artillery section
1 x 3.7 Pack How, 1 x Dragon, crew and observer
Section from No1 Armoured Car Company
1 x Crossley armoured car
Section from No1 Light Tank Company
1 x CV-33
Playing the Game
The game begins at about 0730, just after dawn.
The British infantry may deploy slightly forward of their own positions, how far will be dependent on the table size and the rules used.
Any vehicles moving will create a dust cloud half the distance moved behind it. This cloud blocks line of sight. Troops in the dust cloud may not be fired at nor may they fire or observe.
RAF aircraft may make their first sortie over the table a mere 2 turns after being called. After that a gap representing 20 minutes is required for them to fly back, rearm, refuel and be ready for the next call.
The 4.5 howitzer may fire a prepared fire plan or carry out observed shoots.
All mortars have both HE and Smoke.
Though well dug in and prepared the Iraqis in Sinn el Dhibban are demoralised regular infantry from the effects of the air attacks of the past few days. This should be reflected in your morale rules. They will hold but not attack.
The Iraqi force on the plateau represents the rear guard of the Mechanised Brigade. It has already suffered heavily. Almost all its transport has been destroyed and the infantry company is made up of the remnants of two shattered units. The artillery battery is at half strength. They are, however, elite troops.
Hidden behind the village in the sherifas are a large number (say 50 60) of demoralised Iraqi troops waiting the chance to surrender or flee. They will not flee in daylight because they are terrified of the punishment that they will receive from the (off table) RAF aircraft that can be seen circling and attacking anything that moves.
The Iraqis became so demoralised that their fire became almost ineffective and so this should be reflected as Officer/NCO figures become casualties or as losses mount so negative modifiers should be applied to the Iraqi firing as well as to morale.
RAF bombing was particularly accurate and this should be reflected in a substantial positive modifier.
Every moving vehicle on the desert should have a dust cloud placed behind it. The length of this should be half the distance moved. The dust blocks line of sight and any vehicle inside a dust cloud cannot be seen but also cannot observe.
Winning the Game
The force that possesses more than half Sinn el Dhibban mud brick village at nightfall is the winner.
If you wish to expand the action the Iraqis may be given the dubious reinforcement of a truckload or two of irregular tribal militia. These will be all rifle armed and of low morale.
An Iraqi light bomber may make an appearance, either a Breda Ba-65, a Douglas 8-A or a Hawker Nisr. They may only appear on turns where there are no RAF aircraft present over the table.
The RAF may deploy a Defence Platoon or two to support the Iraq Levies in the trenches and so allow them a more aggressive role. I have called them Type 1 and Type 2 for convenience so that not all are commanded by officers. I use 1 x Type 1 platoon to about 2 or 3 Type 2 platoons. They may have RAF transport or not as you desire.
RAF Defence Platoon (type 1)
1 x Officer, 1 x SMG, 1 x LMG, 4 x Rifles
RAF Defence Platoon (type 2)
1 x SMG, 6 x Rifles
During the action many of the pilots came forward to the blockhouse to observe their targets and orientate themselves to better support the infantry. This led to particularly accurate and effective bombing.
The attack opened with the armoured cars driving on to the plateau and finding it nearly empty of Iraqis. Then the two companies of 1/KORR advanced on a wide front. They came under heavy fire from the MMGs and Brens in Sinn el Dhibban and the attack faltered.
The Iraq Levy with mortars and MMGs went forward to the sewage farm and gave sufficient supporting fire to stem the retreat. This force is credited with inflicting losses and capturing several Iraqis in the ensuing action. Though it is not said it may be that they destroyed an impetuous counter attack.
Meanwhile the armoured cars engaged the village from the south and the attack went in again. This time supported on the right by the Levies and Armoured Cars and with concentrated air and artillery support they stormed the village taking 25 officers and 408 soldiers as prisoners. In addition to the captured an estimated 500 other Iraqi troops were killed or fled. During this assault the Iraqi fire was noticeably ineffective, inflicting almost no casualties on the attacking force.
Later the attacking force withdrew and in the morning the area was found to be empty of Iraqi troops. As the Iraq Levy War Diary notes Six 3.7 Hows, 4 A/Cars, a large number of A/T and automatic weapons as well as many vehicles - all in good condition - were salvaged.
Iraq Scenario Intro Page
The Escape of the Regent
Night Patrol at Habbaniyah
Battle at Sinn el Dibban
Clearing the Port of Ashar
British Assault on Fallujah
Iraqi Counter Attack at Fallujah
The Raid Across the Jezireh
River Crossing at Habib Shawi and Qrmat Ali
The Battle at Kadhimain
The Fort at Khan Nuqta
What If the Arab Legion and Legion Freies Arabien Met?
Mercol in Action
Building Your Forces
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