Iraq 1941 - Scenario 4

CLEARING ASHAR - 7 MAY 1941

 

Scenario

 

This scenario represents the clearing of the base area near Basra by 10 Indian Infantry Division.

 

Introduction

 

The British first Brigade of the division landed on 18 April and secured the Maquil area and the airport before moving inland to Shaibah.  They took over the security of the air base.   Then 21 Indian Infantry Brigade landed on 29 April and the Division had sufficient strength to clear more of the land between the Shatt al Arab and RAF Shaibah.  The aim was now to capture the important town of Ashar and restore the route from the port to the air base and the north south route from Baghdad to Basra. 

 

Ground

 

The ground is almost entirely flat, cultivated or built upon.  The majority of the open land is palm groves, small farms, villages and scrub land.  It is well watered by a network of irrigation and drainage channels. 

 

The principal features are:

1.  Zubeila Barracks where the British reserve is located

2.  Robert Creek north of Ashar

3.  Ashar Creek south of Ashar

4.  Ashar town

5.  Customs House

6.  Telegraph Office

7.  Police Station

8.  Power Station

 

General Outline

 

Hostilities have only just begun up north.  There is considerable discontent with British actions.  The Iraqis are present in some force but are dispersed over several positions none of which are fortified.

 

Brit Force Briefing.

 

Mission:  To secure the town of Ashar.

 

Execution:  The plan is to attack the town from two directions - the Shatt al Arab, and along the lake Road to the line of Ashar Creek. Capturing the Power Station and the Telegraph Office is important.  Evicting the police from the Police Station will demonstrate a commitment to law and order to the local population.

 

Initial deployment:

1.  1 x platoon 2/7 Gurkha Rifles at Radifan Oil Company Depot on the Shatt al Arab

2.  1 x Battalion (2/4 Gurkha Rifles) at Zubeila Barracks as reserve with motor transport

3.  A&D Coys 2/7 Gurkha Rifles and a troop of 13 Lancers along the Lake Road north of Ashar

4.  HQ, B and C coys on the Shatt al Arab in boats on way to Customs House.

5.  4 x FOO parties from 3 Fd Regt RA at Maqil (guns off table)

6.  1 x Company 4/13 Frontier Rifles on far side of Shatt al Arab as flank guard.

 

Where possible damage to civilian infrastructure is to be avoided and in particular the Customs House, Power Station and Telegraph Office are to be taken intact.

 

Your boats are a mix of locally procured motor boats and steamers.  You may fit the MMGs and mortars of 2/7 Gurkhas on a robust steamer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iraqi Force Briefing

 

Mission:  To hold Ashar and the dock area.

 

 

Execution:  To defend Ashar by fighting in the streets and from the rooftops. 

 

Forces available: 1 x Second Line Infantry Battalion, 1 x Police Company, 1 x artillery battery (1 x 3.7 How & FOO), 1 x Militia Company in reserve in Ashar.

 

Initial deployment:

The infantry companies are deployed to cover the most likely approaches the Shatt al Arab, the Lake Road, the Shore Road, the Basra Road and sentry posts are at the crossings over the three main creeks.  The police are mainly deployed at the Police Station with detachments at the Telegraph Office, Power station and Customs House.   

 

The sentry posts at the bridges and the infantry company HQs are connected to battalion HQ by field telephone.

 

Playing the Game

 

The Assaults from the Shatt al Arab and down the Lake Road are simultaneous and take place before dawn.  Roll 3D6 for each force and that is the distance from the Iraqi lines when they are revealed.

 

The Iraqis are in position but are not well dug in.  The only strong buildings are the power station and the Police Station.

 

The mayor controls the militia and the police. 

 

The civilians of Ashar may impede both sides by moving away from shelling or fighting.

 

The religious sites (mosques and graveyards) are out of bounds to military operations.  Any attempt by either side to use them (as an OP for instance) or to move through them will result in hostile action from the local populace and militia.

 

Winning the Game

 

The British win outright if they capture the town and the docks.  They can claim a partial victory if they manage one of these. 

 

The Iraqis win if outright if they hold the town and the docks.  They can claim a partial victory if they manage to hold one of these.  However if they lose the Power Station and the Telegraph Office or they are destroyed then they lose.

 

Any other result is a draw.

 

Alternative Actions

 

No air support is mentioned in this action.  The Gurkhas may have had a small number of aircraft available from RAF Shaibah and this may be played.  It is also not mentioned if there was a gunboat with the river flotilla.  It is very possible that if one was available then it would be used. 

 

You may also allow the players freedom to deploy as they see fit.

 

Historical Action

 

Before dawn on 8 May, 2/7 Gurkha Rifles launched simultaneous attacks from the Shatt al Arab and along the Lake Road.  The attack on the river front quickly secured the dock area and Customs House.  The column advancing down the Lake Road met persistent resistance from Iraqi troops with machine guns and deployed as snipers.  It became quickly apparent that the approaches to Ashar was well defended and it took the Gurkhas most of the morning to push the defenders back to Ashar. 

 

At the wharf and the Ashar Creek frontage the Iraqi snipers were putting up stubborn resistance.  It was becoming clear that Ashar was to be no push over.  But by early afternoon the force fighting down the Lake Road had captured the power station, Police Station and Telegraph Office.  With these in Gurkha hands the Brigadier called upon the Senior Iraqi Officer to surrender.  He told him that he would turn the 25pdrs of 3 Field Artillery Regiment on the town.  This threat was enough to persuade him to lay down his arms.  The majority of the Iraqis melted away into the local population.  By evening 2/7 Gurkha Rifles were in possession of the town.

 

As a result of this action Basra was occupied without a fight although there was some resistance from army and armed police until 17 May.  

 

Sources of Figures and Models

 

In this action a number of civilians will be needed.

 

 

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

The History

Building Your Forces

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