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Down the Vardar

A Wargame Scenario for the Balkan campaign 1941

This is a scenario designed for 15mm figures using the popular Rapid Fire rules. Although it could easily be adapted for other figure scales and rules. There are four players and an umpire.

German Player Briefing

You are Colonel Frederick Schmidt commanding a regimental size battlegroup. It is April 1941 and you are in Western Macedonia. German forces have pushed the Royal Yugoslav Army down the Vardar Valley towards Greece. You command an advanced unit tasked with advancing westwards towards the Monastir Gap.

Divisional intelligence informs you that the next bridge and village (Topolcani) is held by a recently arrived Australian force of unknown strength (part of Wilson Force gathering in Greece). There are also communist partisans and Royal Yugoslav forces in the area. You are expecting further support from an Italian unit coming from Albania to the west. Radio communication in the mountains is poor and experience has taught you not to rely on the Italians! However, in your last communication they indicated that they should be in position to get south of the Crna river and outflank the Australians by dawn.

Army HQ (against your better judgement) plan to support the Italians with an airdrop of Major Alfred Sturm's Fallschirmmjager Battalion after dawn south of the bridge whilst you attack the bridge from the north.

German Order of Battle

Regimental HQ (Regular)

CO + 2 figures + staff car

Infantry Gun Coy. 2 x 75mm IG (GC4) and 8 figs.

ATG Coy. 2 x 37mm ATG (GC4) and 8 figs.

 

Divisional assets attached:

Recce Coy Sd221 A/C (Class E, MG) and Sd222 A/C (Class E, Gun 5)

Panzer Coy Pkw 38t (D,5,Med), PkwII (E,5,Med), S35 (D,4,Med)

Field Artillery Bty. 3 x 105mm Howitzer and 15 figs.

 

Infantry Battalion (Regular)

CO + 3 figures

50mm Mortar and 3 figs.

3 Rifle Coys with 8 figures each.

Heavy Weapons Coy with 2 x MMG, 80mm mortar and 7 figs.

 

Gebirgsjager Battalion (Elite)

CO + 3 figures

50mm Mortar and 3 figs.

3 Coys with 10 figures each

Heavy Weapons Coy with 2 x MMG, 80mm mortar, 75mm IG GC4), Flamethrower and 12 figs.

 

Fallschirmmjager Battalion (Elite)

HQ CO + 4 figs.

3 Coys with 8 figures each.

Heavy Weapons Coy with 2 x MMG, 80mm mortar and 8 figs.

 

Limited air support, weather permitting.

Yugoslav Player Briefing

You are Colonel Simonivitch commanding Royal Yugoslav Forces in Western Macedonia. You and your regular troops are Serbian. You are ordered to support Australian troops who are holding the bridge at Topolcani.

Intelligence on the enemy is very limited largely due to the destruction of the Air Force. The main enemy force is moving down the Vardar valley to the east, although German mountain troops have been seen north of Topolcani. A Montenegrin militia battalion recently reforming as a partisan unit to the west reports that it has contacted an Italian force coming from Albania and you have advised the Australians that they might outflank them. The partisan force commander is a communist and although nominally under your command you mistrust him.

Yugoslav Order of Battle

Regular Army Battalion (Regular)

HQ CO + 3 figures

1 R35 tank (D,5,slow)

2 x 75mm field guns (GC4) and 10 figures

3 Coys with 10 figures each

MG Coy 3 x MMG and 6 figures.

 

Partisan Battalion (Poor)

HQ Comrade Major Broz + 3 figures

3 Coys with 9 figures each

MG Coy 2 MMG and two figures

Australian Player Briefing

You are Major Don Bradman commanding an advanced element of the 6th Australian Division. You have been ordered north from your base at Monastir to hold the bridge at Topolcani.

Intelligence indicates that the Axis forces are pushing west towards you. The enemy in front are primarily elite German mountain troops. Yugoslav sources indicate that Italian units coming from Albania to the west are across the river and are likely to outflank you after dawn. The Yugoslav units in the area are of mixed quality with mixed co-operation from the different nationalities and political groupings. Whilst your orders are to hold the village if outflanked you have permission to withdraw. You therefore need to plan for a breakout action whilst holding the Germans.

Order of Battle

Australian Infantry Battalion (Elite)

HQ CO + 3 figures

Boys ATR, 3" mortar and 5 figs.

4 Rifle Coys with 8 figures each

Support Coy: Boys ATR, 3" mortar, 2x HMG and 9 figs.

Trucks and bren carriers

 

Divisional assets (Regular)

Recce Coy 2 x Vickers Mk6 (E, twin MG, Fast)

Armoured Coy 2 x Matilda 1 (C,4,slow) A13 (D,4,med)

Artillery Bty 4 x 25pdr with 20 figures.

AA Bty 2 Bofors

 

You can expect only limited air support as the operational airfields are some distance away.

 

Italian Player Briefing

 

You are Major Bennino commanding an Italian infantry battalion with armoured support.

 

You have been ordered from the Albanian front into Macedonia to support the German advance. The last garbled radio message you received from the arrogant German Colonel you have been assigned to support indicated that he would attack the bridge at Topolcani at dawn. Your men are weary and have been harassed by Yugoslav irregular troops. However, you are now across the river and expect to outflank the bridge shortly after dawn. The Germans have promised air support and a Fallschirmmjager Battalion.

 

Italian Order of Battle

Battalion HQ CO + 2 figures

3 Rifle Coys with 10 figures each

Support Coy: 2 x MMG, 2 x 81mm Mortar and 10 figures

 

Divisional assets:

Recce Coy 2 x AB41 A/C (E,5 )

Tank Coy 2 x M11/39 (D,5,med), 1 CV33 (E,MG,fast)

All troops are regular.

The Re-Fight

The first time we played this scenario the German infantry attack on the bridge was slow although the Yugoslav's were eventually bombarded out of their positions. The Italians were ambushed by the partisans and contributed very little to the action. The German paratroop landing was very dispersed and as a consequence were destroyed by the Australian's piecemeal before the rest of the German force could support them. Victory to the allies.

The second re-fight saw a quicker German assault that got across the river and joined up with the paras. The Italians still got ambushed but the Australians had to extricate themselves. Score draw to the Axis.

 

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Last modified: 01/23/12