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Taking Ortona - December 19, 1943

Battle of Ortona
Mediterranean Theater By: Brummbar - Last update: 07/27/2011
Axis Player: Allied Player:
x5 x6 x5 x6
first You play first    

Historical Background:
"Everything before Ortona" General Vokes later commented, "was a nursery tale".

No one in the allied camp even expected a fight for Ortona. The Germans were expected to withdraw to the next natural obstacle, the Arielli, a small stream three miles north of Ortona. Yet again, the Axis defenders had a surprise in store for the 1st Canadian division.

The German 1st Parachute division defended Ortona with the skill and determination for which they were famed. They turned it into a killing ground. Demolishing key buildings, laying booby traps and blocking the roads, they would attempt to lead the Canadians into the heart of Ortona the Piazza Municipale.

"in Ortona" writes American historian Robert Wallace, "the Canadians became, among the allied soldiers, the acknowledged masters of house-to house fighting". It didn't come easy as the AAR notes of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment cites "street fighting is an acquired art and...there are only two ways to acquire it - by careful planning and training and a high standard of discipline, or by bitter experience". They learned the latter.

One of the tricks the Canadians got out of the experience was that of "mouse holing" where they would knock a hole in the wall with an explosive charge and move into the next building. This kept them moving and yet out of the deadly fire the Germans were bringing to bear on the streets.

This battle, dubbed "Little Stalingrad" by the press was to be one of the most difficult trials for the Canadian troops during WWII. They came through with initiative and courage as was reflected in the large number of decorations awarded during the fight. Five officers won the Distinguished Service Order and three others were awarded the Military Cross while the Military Medal was given to seven other ranks.

The battle raged on for almost ten days and through Christmas. Success or failure could be measured in yards as the fight went from street to street to doorway to doorway. The Canadians eventually prevailed against their much respected rivals. Bloodied but unbowed, the paratroopers had pulled out of Ortona during the night. The next day saw Ortona in Canadian hands with a sign at it's entrance - This is Ortona, a West Canadian Town.

Axis Player [Germany]: Take 5 Command cards

Allied Player [Canada]: Take 5 Command cards.
You move first.

(Note; Axis Demolitions take place before the start of the game, see special rules below)

Conditions of Victory:
6 Medals

Hexes with objectives are Temporary Medal Objective for the Allies

Should the Allies control all 3 objectives they win immediately.

Special Rules:
Axis Demolitions - Before the start of the game or placing units, the Axis player may attempt to demolish the 3 hexes indicated by the 'German Engineer' badges. To demolish a built up area hex he declares which built up area he is attempting to demolish and rolls 2 dice, if one of the die results is a star he can replace the built up area hex with a Eastern Front City Ruins hex with all the rules thereafter applying.

Booby Traps - the minefield marker is a booby trap. It acts exactly like mines (EF pg.4) except that once the mine is triggered instead of remaining on the board, it is removed.

Axis Camouflaged Units - The Battle Star tokens on the Axis units indicate that they are camouflaged. They can only be attacked with Close Combat unless they move or battle, at which time remove the battle star token and they are no longer considered camouflaged (Camouflage - EF pg. 5)

Anti-Tank Guns - The Axis artillery is Anti-Tank guns. This unit is ordered and treated like Artillery in every way but the following:
- Requires LOS

Mouse Holing - With the exception of the Ruin hexes, The Allied infantry can move into any built up area hex (towns, railstation, lighthouse, factories etc..) and battle on the same order. Eastern Front City Ruins hexes can only be 'mouse holed' out of not into.

Air Rules are optional: If used, shuffle both Air Sortie cards into the deck at game start.

Scenario Bibliography:
The D-Day Dodgers, The Canadians in Italy 1943-45 - Daniel G. Dancocks
"How the Enemy Defended the Town of Ortona" from Intelligence Bulletin - http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ortona/index.html

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