For my Operation Caravan game I wanted to provide each side with a pre game briefing that not only reflected the known historical facts but helped each side appreciate their respective situations. The LRDG players were presented with an operations map and a set of orders from which they would have to devise a plan of attack before seeing the games table. The Italian players received an intelligence briefing that would contain facts of 'variable quality'! Both of these are reproduced below.
LRDG Orders: "Operation Caravan"
Captain J R Easonsmith - Officer Commanding
Ref maps 1/500,000 – Barce Sheet Number 9 and 10
1. Your Force will consist of three half patrols of LRDG Chevy Trucks. These have been equipped with additional twin mounted MG’s and one vehicle in each Patrol will mount a captured Italian Breda 20mm AA Gun.
2. The destruction of aircraft, infrastructure and material in the Barce sector would severely hamper axis offensive capabilities. Your Objectives are as follows:
I. Your Primary target is the Italian Airfield at Barce. Intelligence reports suggest that 35° Stormo da Bombardamento' are based here. Destroy as many aircraft as possible, causing the maximum amount of damage and disturbance to the enemy.
II. Secondary objectives such as HQ Buildings, Communications, Hangers and other Airfield Infrastructure should also be degraded.Additional objective should also be destroyed, but only if this will not prejudice the success of your primary task.
III. Fuel Storage facility and Supply dumps within the Airfield.
IV. Administrative infrastructure in Barce. Headquarters of local Italian Command.3. Plan your raid so that it takes place on the night 14/15 September allowing sufficient dark hours to facilitate your escape and evasion of enemy aircraft.
4. Having completed your mission all elements are free to make their own way to the RV selected by you. From there you will return to Kufra to await new orders.
Brigadier General Staff
Distribution: Captain J R Easonsmith (Officer Commanding)
Method of Issue: By Hand
LRDG Operations Map
The LRDG Players were handed their orders and operations map prior to seeing the games table and asked to plan their attack on the Airfield based on these resources. The LRDG raid would by necessity start stealthily (this was a night raid with limited visibility) and rather than play through a dozen turns where nothing happened except movement I decided I would start the game at the point at which the LRDG commenced their attack and the Italians raised the alarm. Any LRDG units involved in this opening action would be placed on the table by myself with additional and as yet un-revealed units remaining off table with their position marked on my map. The LRDG player would be allowed to use the Ambush rule (pg 266-7 in Main rulebook) to place these at the start of any turn they wished to activate them, or when discovered by enemy movement.
Meanwhile the Italian players would start the game with most of their forces off table and those that were on table would not necessarily be activated immediately. Consequently their handout is more about 'setting the scene', giving them some idea of the sort of force heading towards them and from what direction. Above all this handout is designed to deliberately recreate the 'fog of war' by presenting lots of information to the Italian commander, most of which is irrelevant or misleading. During the actual Barce Raid the Italians were extremely slow to react to the initial attack by the LRDG. In part this was due to the local Commanders crippling indecision as a result of being faced with a large volume of poor quality intelligence and an enemy that could literally strike from any direction.
Barce Command Sector Reconnaissance Report
General Piatti dal Pozzo – Officer Commanding Barce Sector
Approx 09:00 - Local Arab informants reported spotting a light truck about 30km SW, coming from Carruba. Reported to local Carabinieri and relayed to Barce Command via Telephone.
11:00 hrs - Air reconnaissance ordered by General dal Pozzo reports no vehicles sighted in area. Additional flights ordered for later in the day.
12:30 Hrs - German supply trucks returning from front reported in sector and intercepted by local Carabinieri. Identity confirmed but noted that no movement orders have been logged with Barce Command.
14:00 Hrs – Second reconnaissance flight confirm no other vehicles spotted in area.
19:30 Hrs - Reconnaissance aircraft spot several heavily camouflaged vehicles near the approaches to Barce. Fading light forced flight to return to base before identification could be completed.
08:00 Hrs - Informers at Gerdes Charruba spotted 15 trucks heading East towards barce.
12:00 Hrs – Air reconnaissance cannot confirm earlier sighting of trucks.
16:00 Hrs - Patrol of Ordella Irregulars spot a column of vehicles 2km from Gerdes El Abid.
19:00 Hrs – Contact with Police checkpoint at Sidi Buraui lost. Barce Sector command put on alert of potential attack. Target of suspected attack likely to be airfield but without detailed intelligence and with other potential targets further north troops of Barce Command ordered to remain dispersed awaiting orders.
With the scene set, plans made and counter strategies discussed all that remained was for the players to meet across the games table and let battle commence.