Their plan was to move into the village before Major Zeid of the Hashemite National Army could emplace his forces but, as the dawn broke, they found their opposition was made of sterner stuff than they imagined.The fight was on!
Using Hammer’s Slammers: The Crucible rules, John’s forces were a detachment of the Stewart Regiment with a couple of heavy Apollo hover tanks, some lighter Artemis APCs and Kunitsa APCs towing anti tank weapons and a Katy self propelled mortar, all lead by their charismatic Major FitzAlan. Alan’s Hashemites, including a Desert Raider detachment under Zeid and a regular Army unit using Assad I and Assad II APCs and a Guntruck and an MLRS, along with many Gecko, Zebo and Goanna lighter, high mobility 4x4 and 6x6 vehicles with the Desert Raider’s being especially fast in their movements.
Stewart elements advance towards D'Alweech
The Stewarts Regimental Despatches:
The first turn saw an exchange of fire that resulted in losses on both sides: the Stewarts lost the main weapon from an MBT and the Hashemites a couple of lighter vehicles as they both moved forwards. Zeid’s men tried to advance into good firing positions while the Stewart's towed anti-tank weapons tried to unhitch and deploy in a position with a decent field of fire: consequentially, the Hashemites lost their gun-truck’s turret to fire from one of these weapons.
Turn three saw more advances of the Hashemites as the Major’s raiders swept through the difficult ground, making light work of the difficult terrain through training, and also using the road to push their lighter buggies to the max. The National Army’s MLRS started finding targets from it’s rear position and succeeded in destroying one of the deployed Stewart AT guns and suppressing the crew on the other. In revenge for it having destroyed a building with units of Desert Raider troops inside, Zeid's jeeps - using hypersonic missiles - took out the offending Artemis APC complete with their infantry who had not had the chance to debuss or even bail out as the vehicle was totally wrecked.
Major Zeid supervises the Hashemite Desert Raiders advance down Desolation Road from his beloved halftrack (closest)
As Zeid’s men worked one flank, Stewart – from the cupola of his tank – led a charge up the other, rapid firing his main gun to the point of wrecking the breech but taking out a missile firing Assad II. However, in reply, e paid the ultimate sacrifice.
By turn 4 the Stewarts were down to a Lieutenant and were really losing the will to fight. Their positive results included mortaring Zaid’s vehicle and blowing the tracks off, forcing him to continue on foot rather than stay in a smouldering target but the Stewart Katy Mortar received return fire from the Assad MLRS which took out it’s Mortar crew and weapon but gave the on board infantry a chance to leap from the vehicle.
The final Stewart Artemis APC did some damage firing discretely though gaps in the buildings at several Goanna missile launchers and getting kills as its reward. It had to reverse rapidly around a corner seeing incoming missiles heaed its way, but met more Ntional Army forces when it did. It succumbed eventually to having it’s side ripped open by a gatling Railgun mounted on a Gecko though, to be honest, if the Railgun hadn’t got it, the chaps with the buzzbomb (encouraged with a ‘confire’ to up their quality level) would probably have done so.
Lt Ahmed's Hashemite Regular Army units move off to cover the D'Alweech bypass road
By Turn 6 the Stewarts were down to 50% and were about to take a morale test. Zeid’s raiders had lost more than 50%, but took a test and most of them stayed (including the now ambulatory Major!). The next turn, with Major FitzAlan dead and the Hashemites guaranteed to win the initiative, the Stewarts capitulated and hoped not to suffer a grisly fate.
An excerpt from the book "Desert Raiders - the life of Zeid", Chapter 17 by Kemal Ahmed:
The orders were clear – an enemy formation, probably mercenaries, was moving across the desert to capture the small town of D’Alweech and disrupt the long main road through the desert. Nicknamed Desolation Road. it was a vital arterial for the Hashemite forces. “You need to secure the town, at all costs. Time is of the essence" I was told. "We have a small and fairly raw unit of National Army troops that were moving towards D'Alweech to fit out, they will also be under your command for this mission”
The Raiders were designed for hit and run operations in the enemy’s rear, and the irony of sitting tight and defending a town from an enemy’s raiders in their own rear was not lost on Zeid. They set off at full speed that night, meeting up with the regular Army detachment in the early morning. The detachment was still building up, and comprised of barely trained troops with only a ragbag of elements - a 12-tube MLRS artillery truck, a pair of big Assad II 8x8 wheel armoured cars with medium railguns and heavy Anti Tank missiles respectively, a depleted Recce troop of a Gecko armoured jeep and Goanna light armoured car, and the infantry platoon in 2 big Assad I 8x8 APCs. Zeid and the Army commander, one Lt. Ahmed, looked at the map in the dawn light. “There is a bypass road round the north of the town, I want you to cover that and prevent the enemy from coming round our rear that way. I’ll take my force into the town at full speed. Allah willing, we can hole up before the enemy arrive, then I’ll call in your troops and we can dig in properly.” said Zeid.
And so it began. Zeid’s troop of jeeps raced down the road at full pelt with the recce infantry squads hanging on for dear life, while the Goanna 6x6 light armoured car troop moved up more cautiously behind through the broken scrubland. Zeid sent his AT missile armed Goanna armoured car troop on a sweep south of the town in case anything came from that direction. He stayed behind the advance, listening to his troops’ reports as they moved. “Nothing visible yet” came the response from the jeeps as they pulled into the town centre, followed shortly by “oh sh*t”.
Hashemite Desert Raider's light armoured cars advance towards D'Alweech, they were soon to come under fire
Lt Ahmed meanwhile advanced north-eastwards as ordered. Spotting dust on the far East side of town, his 'scopes showed tracked gun tractors deploying heavy guns into position. He ordered the MLRS to fire at these guns. The first rocket volley blew one gun and its crew to smithereens. The other gun crew was a bit quicker off the mark, threw themselves to the ground and only just survived, but to no avail, the subsequent rocket volley did for them too. High Fives all round from Ahmed’s excitable rookies stopped abruptly as they in turn came under fire from the tractor-APCs and a hovertank that have into view. At this the big Assad armoured car, with its heavy Anti tank missiles primed, let fly – and the enemy hovertank’s main gun turret was blown off to a weird angle – it was clearly out of action for some time!
But again, no sooner had the rookies started to cheer, than another enemy hovertank and two well armed hover-AFVs came thundering down the northern bypass road, and a whole world of fire and noise came down on the Hashemite troops as the enemy opened up on them. Before Lt Ahmed could do anything, his recce armoured car blew up a few hundred yards in front of him, followed by the gun-armed Assad armoured car losing first its turret and then its hull. His APC’s scuttled into the brush for cover while the AT-missile Assad launched a pair of missiles at the tank, and then a second straight after. The second pair had been too hastily fired however, one missile detonated soon after leaving the launcher, wrecking it. The crew were fortunately safe in the armoured car, and once their ears stopped ringing and the smoke cleared they saw the enemy tank on fire on the road, and debris scattered everywhere – it had taken a direct hit from multiple missiles. The enemy AFVS following had disappeared into cover.
....but comes to grief from the
lucky accurate shooting of Hashemite regular army elements
In the meantime, Zeid’s recce infantry had come under very heavy fire in the town, one occupied building collapsing. The jeeps moved further down the road, wanting to get side shots at approaching enemy with their light AT missiles. Behind them the A/C troop was now rolling down the road into town, when side fire took out one car. The other two raced for the cover of their infantry’s perimeter area
Lt. Ahmed's troops saw these fire flashes, which identified the position of the hiding enemy AFVs – and his rookie recces in the Gecko jeep, yelling “Allahu Akbar” hared off, bouncing over the desert sand, raced up beside the AFV and gave it point-blank volley from its gatling railgun and the buzz-bomb (bazooka) carrying infantry in the back. This AFV blew up in a huge sheet of oily flame. The Gecko then spotted the other AFV and went swinging across the desert to get another close in side shot, knocking it out too.
Zeid in the meantime rolled down Desolation Road towards the town, when a heavy mortar volley blew a track off his trusty halftrack. “£$%” he yelled, ordering someone to come and fetch him. “ %^&*”he bellowed again when no-one seemed around to do so. A second round of mortar fire put wings on his feet and he hopped out his vehicle and started
Desert Raiders enter D'Alweech on Desolation Road, infantry are moving into the buildings - fierce urban fighting was soon to follow
That no one was around was because Zeid’s Raiders were in desperate straits in the town – their lightly armoured vehicles were slugging it out with tough enemy AFVs and well armed infantry, and they were taking heavy losses - but despite this they hung on (great morale dice...). They were also extremely grateful when the spotters switched the MLRS fire from the enemy's artillery assets to the enemy attacking the town. That, with Lt Ahmed’s infantry platoon also moving into town made the enemy realise that their position was becoming untenable, and they retired.
Major Zeid takes a hike - walking down Desolation Road into town, his untracked halftrack left behind him
Zeid knew that doctrine demanded he pursue the foe, but with 7 out of his 11 armoured cars KO’d and half his Raiders killed or wounded and the rest exhausted by the street fighting, all he really had to chase with were 2 lumbering 8x8 APCs. It had been heavy price to pay to secure the down. Ahmed’s troops were cock-a-hoop, crowing that they had driven off the enemy almost single handedly, plus a mere Gecko jeep had destroyed two APC’s. Not bad for a bunch of greenhorns…