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[East Africa] Amba Alagi - May 01, 1941 - May 18, 1941

The Duke of Aosta's Last Stand
Mediterranean Theater By: francaises_libres - Last update: 04/17/2016
Axis Player: Allied Player:
x5 x6 x6 x6
    first You play first

Historical Background:
Beginning in early April of 1941, the Italian forces in East Africa suffered a series of critical defeats. Massawa, the Eritrean port city on the Red Sea, was taken on April 8 and the capital of Abyssinia, Addis Ababa, had been taken two days earlier. Italian regular infantry, colonial troops, and a mix of air force and naval personnel retreated from the joint British-Indian-Free French-South African advance to the final holdouts at Gondar and Amba Alagi. Amba Alagi, a range of several steep peaks and ridges in northern Abyssinia, was defended by some 7,000 Italian troops and artillery and contained many stashed motor vehicles and munitions. Among the Italian forces under the Duke of Aosta and General Valetti-Borgnini were elements of the Savoy Grenadiers, two battalions of the 211th Regiment of the Africa Division, two groups of the 60th Artillery, and a battalion of Carabinieri. The defenders prepared several fortified high-altitude positions that guarded the roads that cut through the heights at Falaga Pass and Fort Toselli. In late April Major-General Mayne's Fifth Indian "Ball of Fire" Division, composed of Indian and British troops, drove south from Eritrea and began to position its self on the approaches to the north of Amba Alagi. Some days later the First South African Brigade under General Pienaar advanced from the south after having taken the city of Dessie.

Heavy fighting commenced in the first week of May as the Indian division began assaulting the Italian hill positions they dubbed "Pyramid, "Whaleback," and "Elephant" on the Italian left flank. While these operations were carried out by commandos and the Royal Garhwal Rifles, The 3/12 Royal battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment attacked the heights around Falaga Pass. The 9th Indian Infantry Brigade invested the center of the position from the north, negotiating sharp ridges and a perilous line of communications against well dug-in Italian infantry. To the south, the South African Natal Carbineers regiment secured "Khaki Hill" as allied artillery began to answer the Italian batteries that fired upon the allied forces to its north and south. The Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles and the First Battalion of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment were tasked with scaling the ridges the led to the Italian positions at the summit of Amba Alagi and Mount Corarsi. Also active against the Italian defenses were elements of the Abyssinian patriot forces led by Leul-Ras Seyoum, which constantly harassed and raided their former occupiers with small arms fire and grenades.

The two-week long battle was characterized by intense artillery fire, deadly machine gun fire, painstaking climbs, cool wet weather, and a reliance on pack animals for supply and communication. On May 15 the only source of Italian drinking water was polluted by an oil tank that had been hit by a British shell. Finally, on May 17, the Duke of Aosta radioed Rome, reporting: "I meet my destiny comforted in the knowledge of having fulfilled my duty. Amedeo di Savoia." His forces surrendered after a negotiated cease fire two days later. Amba Alagi was the penultimate Italian stand in Africa. The Italian presence in East Africa would cease some six months later with the fall of Gondar.

Italy: 5 cards
India/South Africa: 6 cards, move first

Conditions of Victory:
6 Medals

Special Rules:
Special Weapon Asset rules are in effect for the Italian unit with a Machine Gun (SWA 7 - Machine Gun)

The Italians play the Air Power card as an Artillery Bombard.

The Allies roll 1 die for the Air Power card instead of 2.

Use "French Resistance" rules (Nations 1) for the two three-figured Patriots units.

Mountain hexes may be accessed via ridge hexes.

Use "Royal Italian Army" rules (Nation 6) to all Axis units. (Use only the motorized and artillery rules, but not command rules.)

The Italian units can retreat in either direction, but they must retreat the same direction per flag. The South African/Indian forces retreat toward the nearest baseline.

Scenario Bibliography:
Bisheshwar Prasad - Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War, 1939-45: East Africa Campaign

Neil Orpen - South African Forces World War II: East African and Abyssinian Campaigns

World War 2 Database: Invasion of Italian East Africa

Please note that this scenario was not approved by Richard Borg or Days of Wonder, so you have to check yourself about playability, potential gaming issues, etc.

Set-up Order