Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crossfire Battle Report: Outskirts of Menton 23rd June 1940

On 10th June 1940 Italy declared war on an already embattled France. I believe the Italians thought the French would be a pushover given what was going on further north. The Italian Invasion of France is chock full of wargaming possibilities on land, at sea and in the air. One encounter took place at the Riviera town of Menton where the French stopped the Italian advance in its tracks. This was the obvious choice for an encounter battle game with the toys.

But, not having much in the way of detail, orbats etc I just made something up for my solo game tonight. One thing I did discover that rather like Les Poilus or The Tommies the collective name for Italian soldiers is I Marmattoni after the big cooking pots they used.

Using Crossfire rules and 1/72 scale toys the Italian objective is to secure the built-up area. The Italian air force and navy have already bombed and shelled the BUA which is assumed now to be deserted. According to Italian intelligence reports taking the place will be like a walk in the park. Because of this there are no aircraft or fire missions available. To secure and hold the BUA the Italian CO has:

2 x rifle companies each of 3 rifle platoons

1 x HMG

1 x 45mm Mortar

I Marmittoni Left View

I Marmittoni Right View

The French briefing is to hold and secure as much of Le Patrie as possible whilst inflicting maximum casualties on the invaders. Following the Italian bombardment the local French commander was able to infiltrate a company of infantry into the ruins.

1 x Rifle company of 4 platoons

1 x Light mortar

2 x HMG

1 x Forward Observer with 4 fire missions

Les Poilus Front

Les Poilus Side-ish

The Battlefield
Les Poilus can be seen either occupying buildings or moving under cover.

French Infantry

French HMGs cover the town square

Les Poilus have barely set up when the first Italians stroll nonchalantly into the town square.......fortunately for the Italians their company commander and HMG have taken cover in a ruin to the right of the advancing platoon. A second Italian platoon moves into the unoccupied block of flats in the bottom RH corner of the pic below.

French HMGs open fire!

The Italians in the open were cut to bits. But their wiser comrades managed to lay a smokescreen with the 45mm mortar; cross the square and close assault the French HMG in the centre. 

Simultaneously the Italian platoon in the flats charged across the gap and assaulted the HMG on the right. They killed both HMGs and occupied the buildings. 

The French CO then displayed how to grip the battle. Using his light mortar to lay a smokescreen between the two Italian occupied buildings he unleashed a platoon-sized attack onto the Italians. Savage hand-to-hand fighting with grenades lobbed about caused casualties on both sides. The French stuck to the task longest and forced the surviving Italians to surrender.

The French FOO had not been idle. He was positioned in an apartment block in the town centre and had observed the Italian movements and had zeroed in his artillery missions with skill. Timed to coincide with the French platoon's attack he called in the good news. You can see the smoke and explosions wracking the buildings in the centre of this photograph. Given their already shattering losses from the French ambush, assault and artillery those Italians who could do so surrendered while those who had an escape route available took it. 

The real campaign was a complete debacle for Italian arms. This is a shame because given competent leadership Italian troops could and did fight with skill and bravery.

Hello and welcome to new blog follower Kaptain Kobold. His blog's fab; don't take my word for it, go and have a look!

All the best!


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Addy,
      No problem, glad you liked it.


  2. Nice post, good to see some out of the normal run of the mill WW2 posts.

    1. Cheers Paul,
      The early campaigns of WW2 are overlooked, I think, because of the lack of 'super-tanks'and other gucci weapons. But it was a really interesting period with all kinds of armies and weird inter-war styled kit.

      All the best