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Quatre Camins

Ebro Battle, 19 August, 1938

Historical scenario


Title: Quatre Camins (Cuatro Caminos)
Type: Nationalist assault
Date: August 19, 1938
Location: Villalba de los Arcos, Tarragona (Spain).
Weather: Clear, Hot, Dawn
Terrain: Dry, olives, almond trees, vineyards, modest hills
Wind: Breeze
Turns: 40+
Notes: German as Nationalist, Soviet as Republican

Author: Mario Gomez "Magomar" Best Played as Axis against AI

Descarga: [Scenario Depot]

General Dávila, who now commanded the Nationalist Northern Army, wanted the assault to follow a different course. He ordered the Moroccan Army Corps to attempt to break the front at Villalba de Los Arcos, where there had already been fierce fighting. The Republicans were stopped just outside the town. The Nationalists now intended to advance to the important road junction of Cuatro Caminos and ten towards the heights of Gaeta, a mountain about three kilometres north east of Villalba de Los Arcos. This head-on attack, an attempt to smash trough to the front, was led by the 74t Division under Coronel Arias Jimenez. He was supported on the left by Delgado Serrano's 82nd Division and on the right by Barrón Ortiz's l3th. The Republicans had the 60t Division (Mayor Buxó) and te 135th Carabiniero Mixed Brigade. The 27t Division (Usatorre) joined tem near Hill 444, and in the rear were the 3rd and 16th Divisions (Cabezos Morente and Mora). During the recent days of intense conflict, both sides had fortified the ground they had defended. Deep trenches criss-crossed the area and the position known as Targa was armed with machine-gun points covering all likely directions of attack. The trenches were interconnected and were reinforced by large rocks and covered over with heavy logs. Before the attack life in this sector was punctuated by the occasional artillery salvo or mortar bomb. A pot-shot might me taken at any of the opposition stupid enough to show their bead above the sandbagged parapet. This did not last long, and the Nationalists soon began to concentrate their forces for the next attempt on the line. Troops were brought up to the front line in trucks and then walked to the trenches. All this activity was not lost on the opposition, however hard the Nationalists tried to conceal it. As usual, the attack opened with combined tire of 43 batteries of Nationalist artillery dedicated to the task (not including the integral divisional units). The assault began at noon and was lead by the 4th Half Brigade of the 74th Division under Cabestré Cardona, which included Battahon B of 13lst Bailén Battalion and the Tercio de Nuestra Señora de Montserrat. Neither air attack nor ground attack assaults by unit 1-G-2 (Heinkel 51s) had seriously affected the Republican strong-points, and therefore the classic First World War scenario of trench warfare was repeated. In fact, one of the aircraft was shot down by a member of the Heavy Machine-Gun Company of the 3lst Mixed Brigade. The same brigade guarded that front with two rifle companies, two machine-gun sections and a section of 5Omm mortars. In addition, there were two tanks and several anti-tank guns in the area which could he used to concentrate fire should the attack materialize. Any tanks intending to go forward with the attackers would also have to contend with hidden foxhole whose occupants had Molotov cocktails ready to turn any tank into burning metal coffin. The Nationalists actually had three supporting tanks in this sector, but they were quickly forced to retreat in the face of the surprise incendiary attacks and anti-tank fire. A tremendous wave of machine-gun and rifle fire trapped the Tercio of Montserrat in their positions from noon until 9pm, when the managed to return to their lines. On this alone their losses were 58 dead and 170 wounded. In other areas the 135th Carabinieros repulsed three separate attacks on 19 August. The Nationalist gained ground all along the front, however, and by the afternoon of 20 August the 74th Division had moved to outflank Targa, which was captured at 2pm. The 82nd was the most successful unit: during the three days of combat they had advanced to Hill 527 before Gaeta. The gains did not come easily, however, and the loss of many men took the sting out of the attacking forces. Cumulatively, the ground gained was just three kilometres. Gaeta was finally occupied on 22 August. It had been the command post of Teniente Coronel Tagüeña of the XV Republican Corps and had an excellent view of the surrounding area. The attacking Nationalist found that it was well defended, but they have been able to encircle the position and pulverize it with artillery and aircraft attacks. Republican forces finally abandoned the site and retreated towards positions that guarded the pass leading to the town of Fatarella. Once Gaeta was captured the Nationalists were unable to advance further. The 74th Division, in the face of stiff opposition, had only been able to advance 1 kilometer beyond Villalba de Los Arcos. In some respects this small gain damaged the Nationalists' self-confidence. Disappointed by the lack of decisive success, they began to look in different directions for the key to an attack. Other positions were taken, but the line continually moved eastwards very slowly. All of this was taking its toll on the Republican defenders, who repeatedly had to reorganize their troops.

Chris Henry, The Ebro 1938. Death Knell of the Republic.

The "Requetés" of the "Tercio de Nuestra Señora de Montserrat" are committed to carry on a frontal assault against the Targa position, a 481m hill 1km East the important crossroads of "Quatre Camins". In order to do that, the "Requetés" must overrun two lines of barbed wire, the ones installed by the enemy, as well as the own ones. Then, they must cross more than one hundred meters of vineyards where they have very little cover. The "Tercio" begins the assault driven by the "Sección de Asalto", 40 men commanded by Teniente Miquel Regás. Folowing them, the 500 survivors of the Villalba defense stand up from the parapets and charge against the enemy defences. The Republican machineguns open fire immediately. After cutting through the first line of barricades, the vineyard should be crossed. The men of the "Sección de Asalto" fall down one after another by the bullets and the hand grenades. Anybody else has joined the combat. A Batallion from the Bailen Regiment has withdrawn after beginning the assault, after checking out the storm of bullets in such an open place. Ten Panzer I have joined the attack against the enemy defences. Two of them have burned up by fuel bottles, the so famous Molotoff cocktails, used by both sides, and the tanks have been ordered to retreat. The men from the Tercio have wound up alone, lying around the vineyard, each man hiding after a vine plant, simulating they are death, since each movement is replied by a machinegun burst. When the combat ends, 60 dead and 170 wounded are scattered all through the vine plants. From the 42 men in the "Sección de Asalto", 23 are dead and 14 wounded. The Republican men, at dusk, halt their fire to allow the Nationalist recover their men. The "Tercio de Montserrat" is disbanded a second time from its foundation. Some days later, when they regroup as reserve in the Pàndols sector, only 109 men from the 850 arrived to the Ebro river on July, 30, are still able to combat. The courageous, suicidal in practice, assault by the "Requetés", is only the most outstanding event of that day. At dawn, more than 300 mouths of fire have broken out the calm of the night in that sector. Planes have started flying in tight formations, and are throwing, in addition to 250 or 500 kg bombs, thousands of fliers recommending the "Rojos" to surrender, because now their fight has no sense. Javier M. Reverte, "La Batalla del Ebro"

"La Batalla del Ebro", Jorge M. Reverte.

Note: this is the CMBB version of the scenario. This version represents vineyards as steppe, which offers some concealment but almost no cover. A CMAK version of the scenario would represent vineyards as vineyards, and offers a much appropriate look & feel for the real terrain, but on the other side, the original Pz I tanks in the Nationalist side should be represented by another unit. Some suggestion?

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Main source:

Javier M. Reverte. La Batalla del Ebro, Ed. Crítica, 2003

Scenario design based on 1:50000 topographic maps (both historic and modern versions), ortophotographies and a terrain elevation model with a resolution of 30m.

Other sources:

Miguel Alonso Baquer. El Ebro, la Batalla Decisiva de los Cien Días. Ed. La Esfera de los Libros, 2003 Francisco Cabrera Castillo. Del Ebro a Gandesa. La Batalla del Ebro, julio-noviembre 1938. Ed. Almena, 2002 Carlos Engel. Historia de las Divisiones del Ejército Nacional, 1936-1939. Ed. Almena, 2000. Chris Henry. The Ebro 1938, Death Knell of the Republic. Osprey Publishers, 1999.