Assault on Tobruk – A Crossfire Scenario

A Crossfire scenario based on the German assault on Tobruk. So far this is my only “desert” scenario.

Historical Situation

Setting: Tobruk, Cyrenaica, Libya; 13 April 1941

This scenario represents part of the German assault on the North African city of Tobruk. Check out for details.


The Western Desert was not billiard table flat, more like flat(ish) and rough.

Table - Assault on Tobruk - Crossfire
Table – Assault on Tobruk – Crossfire

Key features of the table are:

  • 6′ x 4′ table with the North being on a long edge, which is also the Commonwealth base edge. (Or maybe better to fight it lengthwise.)
  • Anti-tank ditch running the width of the table on Allied side of table.
  • Barbed Wire behind the ditch.
  • Maybe some houses representing the outskirts of the city.
  • Otherwise it is Desert Terrain, i.e. :
    • Depressions
    • Hills (one Contour Lines from Hit the Dirt, with rough ground on top)
    • Crests (as per Hit the Dirt)

If you’re using Limited Smalls Arms Range, then you can use the map as it is. If, however, you’re using standard rules, then you’ll have to substitute Boulder Fields for some of the Rough Ground (and treat the rest like Rock Fields).

Australian Player (Defending)


The Commonwealth forces are trying to prevent the Panzers getting off the table.

Forces Available

“The Rats of Tobruk”, elements of 2/13 Battalion, 20th Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), plus supporting elements of British forces from 8th Army.

Desert Digger

Australian Order of Battle

  • 2 x Australian Infantry Companies
    • Use Organisation for GB Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-’45), p. 26
  • 3 x 2 pdr (optional tow)
  • Morale: Australians Infantry are Veteran; others Regular.
  • Fortifications:
    • 20 x four stand wire sections
    • 15 x four stand mine section
    • As many entrenchments as the player wants


Deploys first. All troops must be deployed in the northern 1′ of table. Fortifications can be deployed anywhere on the Allied half of the table. Four minefields may be deployed hidden, otherwise all troops and fortifications are visible at the start of the game. .


Commonwealth reinforcements arrive in following order:

Turn Reinforcements Where
6 1 x Company of Australian infantry (Veteran) West Edge
7 2 x FO for off table 25 pdr Battery (or the guns can be deployed on table for direct fire) North Edge
8 2 x 2 pdr ATG (optional tow) North Edge
10 C Company 1st Royal Tank Regiment: 2 x A13 Cruisers East Edge

German Player (Attacking)


The 8th Machinegun battalion must clear a path through the minefield, and keep it open for the panzers to pass through. The Panzer battalion has to exit the Commonwealth side of the table with more than 50% of its tanks. If either battalion takes more than 50% losses the Germans lose. This reflects Rommel’s careful use of his panzers. He did not have the luxury of replacements and thus would not press a hopeless situation.

Forces Available

Elements of Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK)

DAK Order of Battle

  • 8th Machinegun Battalion. (Regulars) = German Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-’42), p. 20
  • 1 x FO for off table 75 mm Infantry gun (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off table Heavy artillery (4 FM)


Begins scenario with initiative. Deploys second in the southern 1′ of table.


German Panzers arrive on a 5+ on 1d6 at the start of any German initiative after minefield is breached. The minefield is considered breached when any Minefield section is cleared (see special rules) or when any German Rifle Squad touches a barbed wire section.

DAK Reinforcements

  • 1st Battalion, 5th Panzer Regiment (Regulars)
    • 1 x HQ ( 1 x Pz II)
      2 x Light Tank Companies

      • 1 x Pz II
        2 x Pz III
    • 1 x Medium Tank Company
      • 1 x Pz II
        1 x Pz IV

Victory Conditions

Breakthrough and Casualty (D) objectives

The game ends automatically on either of these conditions:

  • The Germans get at least 50% of the Panzers off the Commonwealth table edge (German Victory).
  • If either German battalion takes more than 50% causalities, counting tanks, Rifle Squads, CC, BC, Crew Served Weapons, but not FO or PC (Allied Victory).

Tobruk defenders

Scenario Special Rules

  • The Anti-tank ditch is a linear obstacle for movement (3 move actions to cross: move up, move across, move away). Vehicles moving across it throw to bog down (bog down on 4-; unbog on a 6; permanently mired on a 1). Stands inside count as in protective cover as behind a crest.
  • Boulder fields are as per Hit the Dirt, i.e. protective cover to direct and indirect fire, and block LOS. But unlike normal boulder fields these ones block LOS between infantry (including crew served weapons) but not to/from tanks.
  • Special Rule: Turns are in use. The Clock advances one Turn on 5+ at the end of any Allied initiative.
  • Special Rule 1 – Night fighting is in use during turns 1-4. Stands are limited to one move action per initiative. A stand that is in cover and has not yet fired during the scenario may not be fired at, except form within the same terrain feature. A stand in the open is fired at normally. All stands get the direct fire cover bonus, regardless of where they are located.

Rats of Tobruck Badge

  • Special Rule 5 – Bogging down is in use. Tanks bog down in rock fields, boulder fields, and the anti-tank ditch on 4- on 1d6. They unbog on 5+, becoming permanently mired on 1.
  • Rifle squads can clear minefields/wire. Once a minefield/wire is discovered (or is already visible) a rifle squad may roll to remove the minefield/wire when the following conditions apply: the stand is adjacent to, or inside, the Minefield/wire and the stand is stationary, unsuppressed, and does not fire for one entire Phasing Initiative. The minefield/wire is cleared on a 6 on 1d6. More than one squad of the same platoon can attempt to clear the same minefield/wire in the same initiative; in this case if any make the clear minefield/wire roll, then this is treated as a successful action for all. Clearing a minefield/wire is a successful action; failure passes initiative. Despite being able to clear minefields Rifle Squads cannot detect a Minefield in the same way as Engineers.
  • Use Planned Operational Zones for multi-player.


  • Based on Tim King’s Assault on Tobruk: A Rapid Fire Scenario and Battle Report (broken link).
  • The actual battle involved 5 X 2pdr Anti tank companies and 2 X 25pdr batteries as reinforcements and the 2 panzer battalions of the 5th regiment breaking through the perimeter.
  • See my thoughts on Crossfire in the Western Desert.

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