Saturday, January 16, 2010

Breaking the Siege of Tifaruin

A bit of background for those not familiar with this action -

The Rifian attempt to wipeout the Spanish outpost at Tizzi-Azza (the siege started around May 27, 1923) led to one of the most vicious battles of the campaign. Again and again both Regulares (Moroccan soldiers in the service of Spain) and soldier of The Spanish Foreign Legion (La Legion) attempted to break the siege, this climaxed with 2nd Bandera (of La Legion) led personally by Lieutenant Colonel Valenzuela the commander of La Legion; leading from the front as was expected of a Legion officer, Valenzuela was shot and killed, he became the only commander of La Legion to be killed during the conflict.

Major Francisco Franco Bahamonde, long looked upon with suspicion by his superiors and those opposed to Spain’s colonial adventure, was the obvious choice to take over. With his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on June 6 with the blessings of the king, he returned to Morocco to assume command.

(After the death of Col. Valenzuela the Spanish authorities refused requests from the military to prosecute the war further, this of course left Tizzi-Azza a vulnerable position for many months to come. Invigorated by this success Abd el-Krim decided in August to move against Tifaurin, Sidi Mesaud and Afrau in the hope of another Annual like victory (a massive defeat for the Spanish back in 1921 which was the opening round of Abd el Krim's rebelion).

All three towns were quickly isolated and so began a series of engagements with the Riffians besieging the towns whilst preventing relief columns from breaking through. After several failed attempts on August 19 the defenders of Tifaurin sent a cablegram stating that they would blow up their position before ever surrendering to the Riffians!

Col. Franco acting with General Fernandez Perez organized a relief plan. Whilst the Regulares de Alhucemas would push against the Riffian defenses in front of Sidi Mesaud. Two Legion Banderas (1st and 2nd) together with a battalion of Infanteria de Marina (naval marines) would come ashore at Afrau and envelope the Riffians. This surprise-flanking maneuver stunned the Riffians and broke the sieges causing numerous casualties.

We are planning to recreate the final act of the siege with converging columns of Spanish troops trying to fight their way through to the beseiged town. We will have three land based columns plus a landing by Infanteria de Marina, each column pitted against dug in Riffi positions and local attacks. The Spanish will be supported by both field and mountain artillery, plus naval gunfire and aircraft.

The game will be played in 20mm mostly using figures and kit from my collection.


Richard B said...

Oh I should also say we will be using a much modified version of the classic Charles Grant rules - Battle published in the early 1970s.

Counterpane said...

I've had to put comment posting into a separate pop-up window as with my set-up (Safari on Mac OS X 10.5) in-page posting of comments isn't working. Sorry if this inconveniences anyone.

Richard C (admin)

Counterpane said...

OK, that seems to have worked. Great landing craft by the way!