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Subject: Memoir 1967 -- a scenario from the Six-Day War rss

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Pete Belli
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Memoir 1967 -- a scenario from the Six-Day War




Next month (June 2017) will mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. The scenario is the battle of Abu Ageila, an important crossroads on the central highway running between the border of Israel and Mitla Pass.

This session has it all: armored assaults, mechanized infantry in halftracks, minefields, fortifications, IDF paratroopers landing behind Egyptian lines using helicopter transport, jets, and almost anything else a wargame nerd could ask for. Order of battle information down to the battalion level is available on the internet. Nice maps, too. With a bit of luck the Egyptian player can do more than stand and die at Umm Qatef.

"...a meticulously planned set-piece battle whose delicate
combination of fire and movement would have delighted any
staff officer addicted to sand tables and war games."


A quote from Key to the Sinai: The battles of Abu Ageila in the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli Wars

A quick note on spellings and place names... various sources use Abu Ageila or Abu Agheila, Umm Qatef or Umm Katef, Operation Qahir or Operation Kahir, etc. This article will stick to one choice and most of the Arabic or Hebrew words will be italicized. One belligerent will be called the IDF (Israel Defense Force or Zahal) player and one belligerent will be called the Egyptian player.






The board depicts every section of the battlefield. The assortment of landscape tiles includes sand dune, rough terrain, hill, fortification, wadi, dam, and village hexes. The scenario begins with the IDF player in assault positions but the timeline has been stretched a little to depict the entire struggle.






This sketch map provides a clear view of the terrain. Only the most important features are shown on the board; the entire region was a maze of wadis and low ridges. The brown rough terrain hexes are impassable. The yellow sand hexes are difficult to cross but not impassable... although misguided Egyptian commanders assumed these dunes would offer complete protection to the northern flank of the Umm Qatef fortifications. Hexes marked with blue dots are IDF objectives and score victory points.






The scenario includes a number of special formations. This battalion of the 31st Parachute Brigade can land behind Egyptian lines using helicopter transport when an event card is played. The officer miniature indicates the formation's unique status; paratroopers never require orders and receive a close assault combat bonus.






Engineers played a crucial role by clearing Egyptian minefields. The badge was crafted by downloading the IDF insignia for combat engineers from Wikipedia. Details like this give a scenario special flavor.






I was especially proud of these "Soviet" assault guns. These SU-100 vehicles were crafted on a German WWII Micro Machine chassis. I added external fuel tanks made by clipping bits of plastic frame from a set of army men. Assault guns move like self-propelled artillery but fire three hexes with a line of sight... like tanks.






Both sides have reconnaissance units. These can move up to three hexes and still fight but only roll a 3-1 sequence on the battle dice.






Artillery units essentially follow standard Memoir '44 rules. Egypt was deploying 122mm guns supplied by the Soviet Union. These weapons had a longer range than the IDF artillery but since Egyptian fire control techniques were inadequate everybody rolls the same thing.






The IDF used their WWII-era halftracks aggressively. Mechanized infantry formations often rolled right over Egyptian trenches as the soldiers inside these armored vehicles tossed grenades in all directions.

"Arik" Sharon commanded an Ugdah (a division-sized task force of two or more brigades) at Abu Ageila that included the 14th Armored Brigade and Adam's Infantry Brigade plus the paratroopers and engineers. The armored brigade contained two tank battalions and two mechanized infantry battalions. The Ugdah was supported by several artillery battalions. It was a force numerically superior to the Egyptian defenders and much stronger in raw combat power.






Mechanized infantry units can move one or two hexes and fight but can't battle if they move three hexes. Mechanized infantry rolls a 4-2-1 sequence on the battle dice to reflect IDF close assault tactics.






This is a photograph of an attack on Umm Qatef. Minefields are marked with Egyptian flag tokens. Rules similar to the standard M'44 system developed by Richard Borg are used but there is no extra dice rolling... entering a minefield automatically causes one hit to any IDF formation except the engineer battalion.

The session always begins with a powerful artillery bombardment by the IDF player with all three artillery units being activated. General Sharon said, "Let everything tremble."

Obsolescent T-34 tanks were supplied to Egypt by the Soviet Union. Many of these were dug in as part the extensive fortification system at Umm Qatef. These tank miniatures are just for display and are instantly removed if the infantry unit is forced to withdraw. Egyptian infantry in these strongpoint hexes rolls the standard 3-2-1 sequence on the battle dice.

All other Egyptian infantry rolls a pitiful 2-1-1 pattern. Many of the more capable Egyptian divisions had been sent to Yemen when Nasser joined that conflict in the early 1960s. Most of the infantry formations in the Sinai were filled with inadequately trained conscripts or poorly motivated reservists called up during the spring of 1967.






Action on the northern flank was focused on Hill 181 (or the 181 Position) defended by a reinforced infantry battalion. Most of the IDF armored units were equipped with "Super Sherman" tanks armed with upgraded guns. The task force assigned to seize Hill 181 was actually using the heavier Centurion tank which could absorb more punishment.

It is essential for the IDF player to control this objective. It is one of the three missions which must be accomplished by the IDF to avoid a guaranteed defeat. In the 1956 Arab-Israeli War the IDF assault at Abu Ageila was not successful; that setback must not be repeated! In this photograph the Egyptians have suffered heavy losses and are withdrawing.






The paratroop battalion can land anywhere on the board. In 1967 only a fraction of the planned airmobile assault group could be transported because IDF helicopters were diverted on an emergency resupply mission to support an armored brigade.

The infantrymen behind the helicopter landing zone belong to Adam's Brigade, also called the "Kutty" brigade. These soldiers were given different colored flashlights (red, green, etc.) to avoid friendly fire incidents during the night operation.

Infantry formation can move one or two hexes and battle.





A crucial IDF objective on the southern flank is gaining control of the Qusaymah Track where it exits a narrow defile in the Gebel Dalfa. Abu Ageila was defended by the 12th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division; the 10th Brigade was being held in position by an elaborate IDF deception operation but blocking any Egyptian movement along the track was another essential mission.

This scenario uses my hot deck of command cards to keep the action flowing. Events include the "Medics & Mechanics" card inserted in the middle of the deck to signal a pause in the action while both sides gather stragglers or regroup and the "Their Finest Hour" card used as a clock to end the session.

The IDF player receives a hand of five cards. The Egyptian player only receives three cards. The entire Egyptian army was in a state of confusion. The original plan for Operation Qahir ("The Victor") was probably beyond Egyptian capabilities but it was basically sound. Just before the campaign began Nasser started shuffling commanders around -- Major General Sa'id Naguib, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, had been serving in Yemen as recently as May of 1967 -- and changing the army's objectives. The result was predictable in spite of the brave performance of many Egyptian soldiers.






Airpower played a decisive role in the campaign. Even the most casual students of the Six-Day War know the story of that surprise attack by IDF fighter-bombers that destroyed most of the enemy aircraft on the ground while the Egyptian pilots were eating breakfast. Israel dominated the skies for the remainder of the conflict.






The original IDF plan called for massive air support during the battle at Abu Ageila. However, a large number of IDF aircraft were diverted to Jordan just before the attack was launched. In most cases the IDF player is only allocated one jet per turn.

Jets can conduct ground attack missions (rolling three battle dice) and then execute an interdiction mission at the end of the turn... IDF ground crews specialized in lightning-fast turnarounds when an aircraft returned to base. This photograph shows the effects of interdiction; the flaming marker indicates that the affected Egyptian unit may not move or battle during the following turn.

The aircraft may fly anywhere on the board and is never destroyed in combat.






Both players receive a set of "event cards" that may be played during the session. The IDF player has four cards and the Egyptian player has two. In this example the IDF player has decided to play his Air Power card and conduct an extra ground attack mission. Event cards are played at the beginning of the opponent's turn... such is the cruelty of war.






Artillery was the backbone of the Egyptian army. This event card activates all Egyptian artillery units including the assault gun formation.






IDF self-propelled artillery supports a major attack at Umm Qatef. There are five fortification hexes in this defensive system; the IDF player must dominate three of the five to earn the victory point award. In 1967 a brief period of "mopping up" stubborn Egyptian defenders followed the initial breakthrough.






T-34s from the 288th Tank Battalion of the 6th Tank Regiment strike these IDF paratroopers attempting to secure the Ruafa Dam. This is another IDF victory point objective. These vintage armored vehicles were totally outclassed by the modern Centurions and Egyptian tank warfare training was unimpressive... with the exception of a few elite units. Egyptian tank formations at Abu Ageila only roll a 2-2-2 sequence on the battle dice.

In this session the T-34s overran the depleted paratroop battalion and blocked the IDF central sector advance on the dam.






Another event card has been used to activate all IDF armored units. This battalion has pushed into a minefield (automatically losing one miniature) and launched a successful attack at Umm Qatef. This is the first breakthrough for the IDF but the Egyptian defenders are being ground down through attrition. IDF losses do affect victory point totals but Egyptian casualties are largely irrelevant. During the campaign Egyptian prisoners were often disarmed and sent to the rear with little or no attempt to escort these POWs. Morale was dissolving as command confusion increased and the weak performance of many Egyptian officers became obvious.






More and more Egyptian units have been dispatched in the direction of Umm Qatef to oppose the IDF breakthrough. The weakened left flank is about to crumble as the IDF aircraft interdicts the only reserve formation in the area. The village crossroads of Abu Ageila is seriously threatened. As confidence evaporates like water in the desert heat the Egyptian commander accepts the inevitable. The session is over.

Played this to conclusion three times after a couple of playtest sessions. There were wild swings of fortune in each game with the IDF effort collapsing in one engagement because poor tactics led to heavy losses.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read this lengthy article.
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Wolfram Troeder
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Thanks for your effort, I always appreciate what you create.
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Captain Nemo
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Inspirational as usual; where were the non-standard M44 pieces sourced from?
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Pete Belli
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hammurabi70 wrote:
...where were the non-standard M44 pieces sourced from?


The self-propelled gun, halftrack, artillery, reconnaissance vehicle, assault gun, and jet miniatures are Micro Machines.

The helicopter is from Chopper Strike.

Egyptian infantry figures are Esci 1:72 NATO troops.

The artillerymen and officer figures are a mix of 1:72 Revell and IMEX.
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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Another amazing adaptation of the system, Pete! Well done!
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Pete Belli
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BradyLS wrote:
Another amazing adaptation of the system...


This conflict seemed to be a natural progression for M'44.

The Sherman tanks, the T-34s, the M3 Halftracks, the jeeps, and many other elements of the game (including the desert warfare theme) were all quite familiar.

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Mark Ryan
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Fantastic!
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