The Battle of Riqitti Raqitti Bridge 1934
The Italian invasion of the eastern province of the Aqsumian Empire continues.
The main column approaches the small town of Riqitti Raqitti and its strategic
stone bridge over the River Va'ahr Tufast. The scouts of the Penne Fordem native
cavalry regiment report that the far side of the river is defended and that they
were driven off by some very heavy fire from the town. They also report that the
river downstream of the bridge is less well guarded and that the water level is
low. There is not much to see because the defenders are concealed and marked on
Collonello Avanti and his staff (and his Mistress - Contessa Seducente) survey the enemy positions early in the morning.
The First Ascari Battalion starts is long advance over open ground. They are supported by the massed fire of the whole artillery regiment (the 3 x 75/27s are HaT Deport guns and a home made 100/17) and the Regimental 65/17 mountain gun (Moonlite Modelwerks).
Although he was meant to wait until the Ascaris had drawn the enemy out, Superiore Pomposo ordered his motorised Blachshirts forward. He was supported by the majority of the armour, a company of M11/39 mediums and some L3/35 and 2 of the Light Tank flamethrowers. Suspecting that the Bridge was mined Tenente Ipetuoso charge over it and ran straight into a solid shot from an anti-tank rifle. What he did not know as he sat there gallantly trying to get his machine guns to fire the defending engineer officer had lit the fuse and it was burning slowly.
Meanwhile the Ascaris clear the (deserted) town and rush across the open ground under some inaccurate artillery and machine gun fire. Way out in front Capitano Tempesto raced forward supported by a platoon of infantry and an artillery FOO observer party. The tanks had no radios.
The Blackshirts break through the outer defences and the mine detonates beneath the hapless Tenente Impetuoso who never did manage to get his MGs into action. Several vehicles bog down in the river and so the Blackshirts dismout and press forward foot under massed rifle and MG fire from well concealed Imperial infantry. The Flamethrowers are decisive. But where is the Regia Aeronautica?
On the right the Blackshirts continue their aggressive advance overrunning trenches as flame throwing tanks clear the mud buildings of defenders.
In the centre the defenders inflict heavy casualties from their positions on the hills but the aroured vehicles are virtually immune.
On the left the gallant Capitano storms ahead ignoring the completely ineffective tribal 105mm howitzer of WW1 vintage.
Back at the bridge a well concealed surprise awaited the Italians! The Imperial army had a 37mm Bofors anti-tank gun hidden behind a house and it claimed one M11/39 and one L3/35 before the approaching infantry and flame tank broke their morale.
The tribal gunners pulled their howitzer out of the way downhill into a cave but to avail. The twin MGs on the Capitano's tank killed them all.
Suddenly an SM-81 Pipistrello lumbered into view well over half an hour late. On it came at its designated target - the buildings just over the bridge. The Blackshirts fired off red flares and Superiore Pomposo turned the radio waves purple with expletives that would turn an Aussie Diggers's hair white! But to no avail. The bomb aimer placed his eight 50 kg bombs square on target inflicting more casualties on the Blackshirts than the Imperials in their trenhes. But the casualties caused by the bombs broke the defenders morale.
On it flew - low and slow now. This time it correctly identified the defender's 18pdr battery and missed it completely with another clutch of 50kg bombs.
Bombed, flamed and almost out of ammunition the defenders break and run.
The Blackshirts quickly force their way through the undefended barbed wire.
The few survivors of the defenders in the centre surrender to overwhelming forces.
The Ascaris of the First Battalion cross the river and capture the empty sangars recently vacated by the tribesmen defeated by the two audacious (foolhardy?) M11/39s.
At the end of the battle the Italians had gained a great victory but the Blackshirts had suffered greatly losing over a third of its strength. Most of the bogged vehicles were recovered as was the M11/39 and one L3/35. The Blackshirts proudly showed off the captured 37mm Bofors which had a substantial amount of ammunition which is more than can be said for the 105mm so boldly and heroically charged by Capitano Tempesto.
The Imperial force had lost half an infantry battalion but had held the Italians for more than two days. Further back along the road to Addit Allup another defence line was under construction.
On to Morvalistan 1940
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