Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Battle of Termoli 1943

A Divisional-Level WWII Scenario in 6mm for the "Great Battles of WW2" Rules by Bruce McFarlane:

Historical situation in October 1943

After the capture of Sicily during the summer,  the Allies landed at Salerno in the South of Italy on September 9th, 1943. Until October the Wehrmacht withdrew to the "Volturno-Line“. The river Biferno formed the Eastern flank of this defensive position. It ran 80 kilometres from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.

The small seaport of Termoli lies just North of the mouth of the river. It was defended by elements of the German 1st Paratrooper Division (1. Fallschirmjäger Division). Montgomery devised the plan to bypass the defences at the Biferno river with a seaborne flanking move.

An amphibious operation by the British Special Service Brigade succeeded in surprising and overpowering the German defenders of Termoli on 3rd October. A bridgehead was established. The Germans had blown up all bridges along the Biferno, but the British 78th Division, which was brought up from Taranto, managed to build a pontoon bridge across the river and to reinforce the bridgehead with a further Brigade on October 4th .

Unfortunately for the British, it then started to rain very heavily. The floods destroyed the pontoon bridge and made the river completely impassable in all places. The German regional High Command under Field Marshal Kesselring had brought up the 16th Armoured Division (16. Panzerdivision) right after the Allied landing. On October 5th two German strike forces (Kampfgruppen) launched the decisive counter-attack on Termoli, while at the same time the British 78th Division tried to reestablish the link to the bridgehead by building a new bailey bridge across the river.

Scenario of the Battle of Termoli 1943

We picked the Battle of Termoli as a scenario for the "Great Battles of WW2“ rules by Bruce McFarlane. The Scenario can be downloaded here as a pdf file:

The rules can be purchased here as a pdf file:

The scenario simulates two days of fighting with one division per side. It appealed to us because of its manageable size, using a 5x5' table and relatively moderate Forces in 6mm. An attractive feature of the scenario is the alternating offensives, with the German player attacking on the first day and the British Player on the second day.

We prepared the gaming table using Bruce Weigle's well proved and tested method. A detailed description of this approach can be found here:

The gaming table, sized 5x5'

Essentially it is a styrofoam core with a covering of cotton felt and dyed T-shirt cloth. Terrain features were then added with acrylic paints using an airbrush and brushes. Houses and trees were all scratchbuilt and attached with tape or pins.

The troops are represented by 6mm miniatures by GHQ, mounted on metal bases. One base roughly represents one company. The scale of the terrain is 1“=185 meters,  one game turn represents two hours real time and the Scenario lasts from the morning of October 5th to the evening of October 6th, 1943.

The Forces:

16.Panzerdivision (16th Armoured Division)

Divisional Commander Major General Rudolf v. Sieckenius

The 16.PzDiv. had been in the reserve for recovery after heavy defensive fighting at Salerno. For the attack on Termoli two of the division's strike forces could be mobilized.

Bernd v. Doering
1. Kampfgruppe von Doering

The Kampfgruppe consisted of the two battalions  of the 79th  Panzergrenadier Regiment with attached tanks ( Panzer IVs ) and armoured reconnaisance units.

Joachim Stempel

2. Kampfgruppe Stempel

The second Kampfgruppe was formed around the two battalions of the 64th Panzergrenadier Regiment, reinforced with a unit of assault guns (Sturmgeschütze) and a company of assault engineers (Sturmpionierkompanie) with half- track-mounted flamethrowers.

The two German Kampfgruppen and the HQ of 16.PzDiv

The British 78th "Battle-Axe" Division with subordinated troops

Divisional commander Major-General Vyvyan Evelegh

The bridgehead at Termoli was defended by the 3rd Commando Brigade consisting of two battalions under the command of Brigadier Dunford-Slater.

36th Inf.Brig
Along the Forward-Defensive-Line three regiments fom the 36th Inf.Brigade under Douglas Packard can be deployed, reinforced by one Company of tanks ( Shermans ), one battery of 6pdr. AT-guns and heavy weapons (one heavy machinegun company).

The Division-HQ and the rest of the 78th Division only get involved in the game on the second day. In Campomarino there are three regiments of the 11th Inf.Brigade under Viscount Arbuthnott and the Shermans from two tank-regiments ready to strike at the Germans on the second day.

11th Inf.Brig

The British: 2 infantry brigades, 2 tank regiments and one commando brigade

Our scenario:

Victory conditions

The German player can score a decisive victory , if he holds Termoli on the evening of either of the two days. The British player a decisive victory is possible if he manages to move the divional HQ off the German table edge along one of the roads (representing a complete breakthrough).
Both sides can score a marginal victory by holding both the "Brickwork“ and the town of San Giacomo at the game's end. Historically the battle ended as a British marginal victory according to the above conditions.

Deployment in the British bridgehead

The British commander of the bridgehead, Douglas Packard (Arno), had to deploy secretly and pre-plan the use of artillery.  Packard secured Termoli with the Commando Brigade and the brick factory (Brickwork) with the 8th Argyll & Sutherlands Highlanders (ASH).

The potential crossing point for the bailey-bridge should be defended by the 6th Royal West Kents (6thRWK), deployed in cover behind the railroad. The gap in between these forces was closed by the 5th East Kent (5thEK).
The Reconnaissance Battalion with a troop of Sherman tanks lay hidden in the woods at the Southwest angle of the Forward-Defensive-Line as an advance guard.

Planning the German offensive

The German commander of 16.PzDiv Rudolf v. Sieckenius (Yogsothoth) planned a direct strike on Termoli with all available forces. 

In order to achieve this, KG Stempel was to attack from the West with respectivel one reinforced Panzergrenadier battalion each along the street and railroad bridge over the stream Sigorno towards Termoli.

KG v. Doering was to simultaneously attack from the South, take San Giacomo on the way and capture the Brickwork.

the armoured reconnaisance unit should at first remain with the HQ as a mobile reserve. 

The course of the game

After successful activations both Kampfgruppen could advance quickly towards their respective objectives. Stempel crossed the Sigorno with both his Grenadier battalions.

Von Doering passed through San Giacomo with one battalion in column. The armoured reconnaissance unit and the Division HQ followed him.

The other battalion of KG v. Doering advanced further South to within 1“ of the woods and was stopped by sighting the British Recon unit there. The Grenadiers at once dismounted from their half-tracks.

Douglas Packard used his activation to withdraw the isolated Recon unit in the cover of the woods without losses. 

In the course of the next game turns the fighting concentrated on the Brickwork. Attacks by the first battalion from KG Stempel were repatedly beaten back by the British defenders of the factory complex. Eventually the grenadiers failed their morale test and dug in ( „Going to Ground“).

Stempel'ssecond battalion reached the outskirts of Termoli and sighted the first battalion of Commandos there. A first assault was beaten back by these Commandos in close combat.

On the Southern part of the gameboard KG von Doering managed to advance rapidly. A very luckily placed artillery barrage eliminated the both the tanks as well as the armoured cars of the British Recon unit. Without effective defensive fire the British infantry in this sector could now only retreat. It turned out that the position of the British AT guns at the far end of the left wing was very uneffective as this Situation developed, because they could not hit any Targets from there.

At the end of the first day v.Doering finally succeeded in taking the Brickwork by storm.
Supported by artillery fire, assault guns, fire support from other units and close support from the assault engineers, Stempels grenadiers finally managed to break into Termoli.

During the very last turn on the first day Stempels grenadiers and assault guns eventually managed to drive the second Commandos unit out of Termoli in heavy street fighting. Thus, according to the victory conditions, with Termoli in German hands on the evening of the first day, the game ended early with a decisive German victory.


The game was our third try of the rules, this time in a slightly simplified Version by Bruce Weigle. The course of the game was quick and fluent, Lasting Overall about 3 hours. All Players found the rules entertaining and realistic at the same time. We will definitely return to this Scenario again and see if it will last both days the next time.

Images from the historical battlefield: 

German PAK (AT gun) at the Brickwork

Panzer IV and adversaries at Termoli
Commando soldier

Sources on the internet:

About the GBoWW2 Rules:


  1. A couple of errors you might like to fix:
    The pontoon bridge was never washed out and continued to carry reinforcements and supplies throughout the battle. However, it could not carry tanks, and only 3-4 (depending on the source) successfully forded the river. The rest had to wait for the Bailey to be finished. Among the units that crossed were AT and arty which would make the 16th PzD's job a little harder.

    The minor river to the north (actually west) of the town was the Silerno.

    One key piece of terrain not included on your map is the olive grove between the brickworks and the town. This provided concealment and cover for the recce and SSB defenders.

    Lovely map. Happy gaming.

    1. Thank you, Ropey.

      We will replay the scenario this year in October and I will include your information. Was there a cementary west of Termoli, fortified by the commandos ?