Feb I

British – Supplies and the HQ 9th AS XX arrive at Tobruk. Italian special forces (disguised as camel herder’s) observe a general shuffling of units around Mechili and Derna. Obviously they are preparing for a second offensive to sweep the brave Italian forces out from Bengasi but are awaiting supplies to arrive.

Italian – Running the gauntlet of Allied naval superiority in the region, Italian forces land at Bengasi – the Ariete XX heads for Barce while the 102 Trento XX heads to Zaulet Msus, joining the first of the Tripoli reinforcements in the form of the 25th Bol XX. Surviving Italian units from the 10th Army (a couple of Lt Arm Xs, the 64th XX fall back also to this area. Over Malta, the AA fire is fierce and three groups of bombers call off their bombing runs with the remaining forces inflicting a single hit in the island.

Feb II

British – More supplies land at Tobruk. In a bold move, the 7th Arm XX and three Aussie brigades head north through the stony desert and hills to join in an attack by the 2nd Arm XX and 6th XX on the Barce defenders. The Italians call on their German allies for air support and a violent dog fight occurs in the skies overhead, with Hurricanes and Me 110Ds scrapping it out. The LW is successful in maintaining a presence over the battlefield and causes the odds to tilt slightly in favour of the defence. In a whirling battle of tanks and artillery, the fresh strength of the Ariete XX supported by dive bombers beats off the British and in local counter attacks forces them back beyond their start lines. (2:1 +2AECA, -2AECD, -1 rough = AR) While the ground battle rages, the Allied commander appears to have decided to destroy Bengasi from the air and a Blen 4 port attack savages the port for a hit. AA fire is very ineffective (rolled a 12). At Mechili, the newly converted 22 Guards join W Arty X and the officers talk about polo and classical Greek translations.

Obviously non-plussed by the slap in the face they received at Barce, the British mechanised units wander about aimlessly in their hexes. An Italian staff officer under a white flag spends several hours driving some British Armoured Corp officers over some back trails and gleefully points out the port of Bengasi, defended by some positional AA crews and a goat herder with a shotgun. (The Allied player chose not to use his armoured units in the exploitation segment and I had great delight in pointing out to him my absolute error of leaving Bengasi unguarded. I had kittens throughout the allied turn thinking he would spot my stuff up, but with him concentrating exclusively on Barce and the fact he used all his immediately available AS for the attack, he overlooked the gap and I got away with poor gameplay purely by luck. It was delightful to see his face crumple when I pointed it out to him…..hee hee hee!)

Italian – With the daring planned gamble of leaving Bengasi unguarded having paid off, Axis reinforcements enter Bengasi by sea, with only one unit returned to Europe. A quick shuffling of units and the front is soundly defended. Intelligence sources indicate that the Allies will soon be withdrawing some key units to Greece and preparation is made to make to most of this in a rejuvenated Italian offensive.