Friday, January 27, 2023

Operation Exporter - Deraa June 08 1941 - Advance of the 3/1st Punjab and the 4/6th Rajputana Rifles

To keep the momentum going on the painting front, thoughts turn to campaign games and how events in the wider theatre could impact the tabletop battles.
I do like Platoon Forward as a mechanism and blending with Bolt Action should make for a number of fun encounters in the the assault on the Vichy held Levant and perhaps even an intervention of the Axis forces. But for now let's assume Operation Exporter took place as planned. 


On the 8th of June the Allies invaded Vichy Syria and Lebanon. On the desert flank, in Syria, the 3/1st Punjab and the 4/6th Rajputana Rifles, moved across the border and had surrounded the town of Deraa by 6 a.m. after having met little opposition.  

A flag of truce was sent into the town with a demand for surrender. When the car carrying the party was fired on by artillery and hit by a shell which did not explode the envoys bravely continued on foot, but their demand for surrender was rejected. 

Rolling up a couple of Officers within Platoon Forward to give me certain character traits.

At 7.30am the Indian artillery opened fire. After a brief bombardment the Allies send in two Indian companies to attack and occupy the town.

That's the fact now for the game.

Captain Leonard Salter of the 6th Rajputana Rifles a 'sensible' officer but motivated by and a respecter of wealth, he will seek it out by all means legal.

Captain John Preacher of the LRDG a Scholarly man, Pious and Devout, holy text comes before the drill book, imagine finding yourself in the holy land.

Within the game each have orders from headquarters to seize the town but also have a personnel sub plot to achieve. Salter has heard that Deraa has a stash of Chateau Musar, he has a buyer back in Cairo who will pay good money for these bottles. Meanwhile Preacher is on the look out for a local cleric who has been stirring up the locals, if he was to be killed in any house clearance, that would be quite the accident.

The Allies plan for a two pronged attack from the North and South it can be assumed that the preliminary shelling had supressed some of the defenders but their strength is unknown.

Captain Salter leads his command up the wadi, immediately Senegalese Infantry are encountered in the main dwelling who open up with little effect on the Indian troops.  

Wasting no time the Indians rush forward to take the fight to the Vichy. In a hard fought battle the Senegalese are beaten back room by room.

The Indians have their foothold in the village.

On the far northern approach Preacher and a section of Punjab's make there way through the tents when they come under from French Infantry defending the outskirts.

Preacher and his men work there way forwards and secure a building (no cleric in here.) across the street from the French defenders and a vicious fire fight breaks out, with neither side showing no quarter. The Vichy French would not budge, these legion guys were tough.

On the north the Indian's had hit a wall the French were well dug in and were pinning the Allies every time they attempted to move forwards.

Disaster strikes - Salter knew he needed to urge his men on, they were hunkered down. He crossed the lines of olives rushing forwards when the French LMG team from a nearby roof top caught him in a withering fire. There will be no expensive wine for Captain Salter.

A plucky sergeant moves his section forward to grab another house which had been home to a sniper team which had been causing the allies all kinds of problems. 

With Preacher heavily engaged on the far side of town and with additional French bolstering the defenders. The Allies lacking senior leaders were forced to fall back.

A Vichy French victory as Deraa remains in the defenders hands.

After the engagement and back behind their own lines the Allies regroup.

Captain Preacher is asked to take a formal leadership role within the 6th Rajputana's replacing Captain Salter whose body was still lying out there on the outskirts of Deraa. 

Reinforcements are scraped together bring the unit back to fighting strength, a MG is attached to the unit for the next engagement.

Meanwhile in Deraa Captain Belette, an idealistic support of the Vichy Government was not having things all his own way. His men were reporting that they were down to 50% of there Rifle Grenades. Belette had also a rather angry exchange with the commander of the Artillery a greedy man who claims that headquarters had other priorities than Belette's command, but for a price he might find a way to give him some support his beleaguered command.

An enjoyable encounter which was touch and go through out the battle, the loss of the Allied senior leader really knocked the wind out of the allied attack, they might not be so bullish in the next engagement, but with plenty more on the paint table across a number of players the force make up could change significantly.

Options for both commanders to consider before the next game.


  1. Great stuff Stu and love the whole campaign narrative. Looking forward to more of the same:).

  2. Very cool looking table Stu bad a hard start for the Allies.......get the RAF to sort out those bloody Frenchies!

    1. But watch out for the French Air Force - A tough nut to crack.