1943 Sicily: Gela airborne landings

Set up 20 minutes
Game time 50 minutes

Historical Background:
the 9 July-10 July, as part of the invasion. The American paratroopers consisted largely of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, making their first combat drop. They were intended to drop east of Ponte Olivo (some 5 miles (8.0 km) inland from Gela) to block routes to U.S. 1st Infantry Division’s bridgehead at Gela.[34] Near the Sicilian coast, however, a nervous Allied naval vessel suddenly fired upon the formation. Immediately, all other naval vessels and shore troops joined in, downing friendly aircraft and forcing planeloads of paratroopers to exit far from their intended drop zones. Twenty-three of 144 USAAF ?-47 planes were shot down by friendly fire; there were 318 casualties with 83 dead.[35] The British landings were preceded by the 21st Independent Parachute Company (Pathfinders) who were to mark landing zones for paratroopers who were intended to seize the Ponte Grande, the bridge over the River Anape just south of Syracuse and hold it until the British 5th Infantry Division arrived from the beaches at Cassibile, some 7 miles (11 km) to the south.[34] British Glider infantry from the 1st Air Landing Brigade were to seize landing zones inland.[36]

Strong winds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h)[37] blew the troop-carrying aircraft off course and the U.S. force was scattered widely over south-east Sicily between Gela and Syracuse. By 14 July about two thirds of the 505th regiment had managed to concentrate,[38] and half the US paratroopers failed to reach their rallying points. The British air-landing troops fared little better, with only 12 of the 147 gliders landing on target and 69 crashing at sea.[39] Nevertheless, the scattered airborne troops maximized their opportunities, attacking patrols and creating confusion wherever possible. A platoon of the South Staffordshire Regiment, who had landed on target, captured Ponte Grande and fought off counterattacks. More men rallied to the sound of shooting and by 6.30 a.m. 89 men were holding the bridge.[40] By 11.30 a.m. a battalion of the Italian 75th Infantry Regiment from the 54 Infantry Division Napoli arrived with some artillery.[41] The British force held out until about 1530 hours when they were forced to surrender to Colonel Francesco Ronco’s 75th Infantry Regiment[42] only 45 minutes before the leading elements of 5th Infantry Division arrived from the south.[41]

In spite of these mishaps, the widespread landing of airborne troops had a positive effect as small isolated units, acting on their own initiative, attacked vital points and created widespread panic.[43]

Allies 5 cards, Axis 6 cards, move first.

Conditions of Victory:
7 medals.
The Bridges count as Temporary Medals for the Allies.

Special Rules:
BCF Command rules (Nations 5)
Italian Royal Army rules (Nations 6)
Specialized Units rules (Troops 2) to all Allied units.
Heroic Leader rules (Actions 8) for the Allied unit with a battle star (James Gavin)

Scenario link

Italians moved out. Allied Barrage on bridge was poor. German infantry assault was useless. Brits Move Out and took the bridge 1-0 (2-0 including the bridge); German Counterattack 1-2. Axis took units quickly because of their low numbers.

Allies had bad cards all game – 4 out of 5 for left flank where they had no units. Later it was all 5 cards! German Finest Hour – hits but no units taken. Three Brit units down to just one man. They took Syracuse left 2-2, Germans retook it 2-3, Brits immediately took it back! 3-3

Successful Italian attack, but were hit themselves 4-4. Axis dig in. US finally got a good card – all units in centre 5-5. US attack on left bridge defeated 5-6 (6-6 including the bridge). Finely poised, with Axis only having 3 units left, 2 at half strength. But they had been saving Behind Enemy Lines, which gave them the winning move 6-7


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