Attack on the Oasis


 

This action saw a standard British infantry division making a frontal attack on an oasis defended by a Turkish division. The Turkish forces had built two redoubts, protected with the little wire that they had been able to drag across the desert along their only supply road in the face of constant harassment by Arab irregular forces. They had also dug light entrenchments around the oasis, some facing the most obvious threat from the west. However the Turkish commanders had learnt the hard way about the tendency of allied mounted forces to march through the desert to attack them from the rear, so some of their entrenchments also faced west to protect the rear of their position. 

The British had indeed planned to support their attack with a wide outflanking attack, and had sent two ANZAC mounted brigades (Australian Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles) in a wide outflanking movement through the desert. In addition the main attack was also to be supported by some new Mark II tanks, steel behemoths crawling noisily over the sand. The scene was set for an interesting action. The game was fought in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the players were Stan Walker (British commander) and Andy Gorman (Turkish commander). The scenario can be found here.


 

Turkish troops await the British onslaught in their redoubt in front of the oasis. The redoubt was large enough to hold four companies of infantry: this was no small affair!!! The figures are HaT Turkish infantry from the collection of Andy Gorman. You can see some more photos of Andy's Turks in the photo gallery.
Turkish troops lie in wait for the British attack in the midst of a palm plantation. The Turkish right wing was positioned to threaten the flank of any British attack on the oasis itself. However this position was not set up for all round defense: a fatal oversight by the Turkish commander. The palm trees were scratch built from green card and plastic coated wire.
The British center advances against the Turkish positions. Gaps can be seen amongst the Turkish defenders, but the British attackers are taking casualties. Several strands can be seen bearing suppression markers. On the British left, the attacking British Brigade had been sent forward into reserve, and sat threatening the Turkish defenders secure in their redoubt. However along with the British Brigade sat a RTR unit of Mark II tanks... rumbling ominously.
The British right wing was also advancing, and here the Turkish left wing defenders can be seen carrying suppression markers from the intense supporting fire brought down on them by their attackers. However more was in store for these brave Turkish defenders than just an intense supporting bombardment from British artillery.
The ANZAC troops sent on their wide flank march finally arrived deep in the rear of the Turkish positions, and here can be seen rushing forward into the rear of the Turkish left (Turkish troops can just be seen at the top of the picture settled in their positions in the palm plantation, but probably looking nervously over their shoulders). This flank march effectively cut the only supply route available to the local Turkish forces in the area. The ANZAC figures are the relatively new HaT figures.
The British finally assaulted the Turkish positions protecting the oasis, with assaults going in against suppressed Turkish infantry stands. Brave British infantry also frontally assaulted machine gun positions .. ouch!!!! The assault against the MG failed, but the damage had been done in the center of the Turkish defense, as the British broke through the thinly held Turkish trench line. The Turkish commander had been relieved to find that this Regiment was composed of veteran troops, but British shells had made no distinction between veteran and green troops.
The Turkish reserves are finally committed, supported by a German artillery battalion. However their arrival is too late, and they advance into the face of stationary British infantry on the British right (just visible at the top of the picture). Within two moves they have taken 25% casualties as they attempt to advance in the open to close with the British attackers. Their random morale role revealed them as green troops: this definitely wasn't looking like the Turkish commander's day!!
The final straw for the Turkish defenders: the British reserve Brigade on the British left is finally committed, and the RTR advances against the Turkish defenders in their redoubt. With so many of their comrades killed or wounded, however, their future is not looking great, veteran morale or not. As night fell, the Turkish troops took advantage of the darkness to slip away from the oasis and into the desert. Theirs would be a long trek as the ANZACs occupied positions astride their main supply and escape route as well. This photo highlights the disadvantage of using 20mm figures with standard base sizes: the tank is significantly out of scale when compared with the table area occupied by each infantry company.
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