Monday, 7 August 2017

Beersheba 1917 preps...

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba falls on the 31st October this year.

This battle is something of a legend down under. Whilst not exactly the last cavalry charge in history, by a long way when you consider the Russian Civil War, or even the Eastern Front in WW2, it was a remarkable battle...

It was one of the few times a mounted charge was able to overcome dug-in, prepared, and, it has to be said, tough and resolute defenders.

General Allenby's entire Palestine campaign is celebrated as a triumph of shock and manoeuvre over superior numbers, but even by those high standards this action saw a celebrated victory for sheer nerve and dash!

Most remarkably, the diggers of the 4th (Victoria) and 12th (NSW) Light Horse Regiments weren't technically even cavalry, but mounted infantrymen. However, ever resourceful, the diggers simply charged home with their 18 inch bayonets as sabres!

A mate who served in the Royal Australian Regiment tells me that modern historical opinion is that many of the diggers actually dismounted on or just before the objective...

and fought through with their trusty .303 SMLEs, but eyewitness accounts insist that many rode their mounts over and through the trench lines...

Either way it must have presented a daunting spectacle to Johnny Turk, no mean soldier himself!

And they were a modern and well equipped army, and well entrenched in prepared positions. All figures painted by David Clark.

I have to put in a token picture of a gun, otherwise my Gunner mates give me gyp - 1 of the 28 Krupp field guns defending Beersheba.
This project was originally conceived by our mate the late Mark Rowles who sadly passed away a few years ago and is still very much missed. Mark Rowles RIP.

However Doug has since taken up the slack and given it his all, commissioning and putting together an amazing collection of terrain to suitably commemorate this iconic Aussie battle.

The wells, Mosque and building details are from Kobblestone Miniatures, the houses themselves from Knights of Dice, all lovingly assembled by Doug.

I should note that this whole operation is in 28mm, as befits Mark's original concept, as he was always one for doing things in the Grand Manner!

Doug has gone to great lengths to capture those little details and vignettes which make terrain come to life!

All flags shown here were by The Flag Dude.

Yes the Colours of the Australian flag are correct! - at the time blue was the field colour for the national flag only, with red used by State and Territory organisations. Since these regiments were raised by Victoria and New South Wales, they used a red background...

The dice were obtained from another great little Aussie company, Dice of War.

So we look forward to commemorating this amazing action later on in the year . We will be using suitably adapted Bolt Action V2 rules.

And if the photos come out allright, I will be only to happy to blog it for you. Or come along and join in!

Cheers Mates!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Team Yankee - Delaying Attack!

Last night at the Uni I recieved my usual drubbing in a slightly different style - rather than use the mechanism out of Team Yankee - More Missions to arrive at a scenario, we lifted one straight out of the Leopard supplement and followed it slavishly: Delaying Attack, pp.42-3. Clearly these are well thought out scenarios and it makes losing miserably that much more of an interesting evening...

The situation is that Hauptmann Hahn's Panzer Kompanie of Pz Bataillon 23, 2nd Pz Bde, has to buy time  to slow the Soviet advance by counterattacking and holding the Soviets off both objectives - if the Soviets hold any one objective, its game over!

I laid the table out pretty faithfully to the scenario map:

And forces were prepared, again identical to the published scenario, with the exception that BMP2 models had to sub for BMP1s - more about that anon!

So the Soviets get plenty of T-72s and short range AA defence from the Shilkas, and a pretty large infantry contingent, albeit in BMP1s! How much use 2 HINDs would be was my only concern.

As always, the Bundeswehr don't get much kit for their points, but what they have is superb material! And with the small Luchs platoon, the ability to extend their deployment zone with a spearhead move...

And, to be fair - they only got 2 PAH AT helos too - but my Shilka AA range was 32", whereas that of the Gepards was 40" - there would be nowhere on this 6 x 4 table for my HINDs to hide!

We deployed platoon after platoon, Bryan's West Germans leading...

So the Luchs recce platoon opend up his deployment bubble, but had to steer 16" clear of the obstacle in the open, and 8" clear of the one units could be in cover from. So not quite on the objectives, I had a chance to get there first....

I found my deployment space, a 24" diameter from the table corner, fairly constricting, especially for cover for my Shilkas...With Bryan's Gepards well forward, I also kept my HINDs well back until I figured out what to use them for. For the rest, in my BMP2 user naivetee I thought I'd dismount the Motor Rifle lads and use the BMP1 bronegruppa as a ATGW fire base to cover the approaches to the right hand objective...

I shall pass over Bryan's first move in dignified silence, suffice it to say he advanced his small infantry platoon up to contest the centre objective, then proceeded to demolish my Shilka platoon with long range fire from a platoon of Leopards. My comrade political officer started fiddling with his pistol holster in a rather pointed fashion...

Perhaps still in shock, I somehow came to the conclusion that it was best to lance the boil and send the 2 HINDs directly at the Gepards. One managed to survive the wall of incoming FLAK, but failed to hit the Gepards in return...

With my 3 T-72 companies, I sent two right flanking around behind the covered approach towards the nearest objective, and sent the other forward to take cover behind a line of trees and the lone building, hoping to split Bryan's forces...

The Motor Rifles were sent forward up the centre to also assume a position around the neares obstacle.

I achieved the aim of splitting the German forces, as one platoon of Leopards and the Marders moved to engage the tank company in the tree line...

By this point I'd realised that the BMP1s with their Sagger missiles were all but useless in the stand-off role...

So they were sent forward to support the infantry and attempt to rub out the small Bundeswehr infantry platoon - surely they were capable of that at least?

Now came the crux of the battle - according the victory conditions, holding an objective, all I had to do was start my next move continuing the hold it, and it not being contested by the enemy - so just knock out the 2 Leopards in the vicinity of the objective with my 2 T-72 companies on scene...

How hard could it be - 10 T-72s against a pair of Leopards?

Well, 1 was knocked out! And the other bailed out - so if he failed to bail back in, victory was mine, and the Comrade Political Officer could reholster his pistol!

The tank company on the left flank was also having some success, having learnt the hard way that the only way to take out a Leo2 was from the flank!

Back to the main objective- Whilst the bailed out Leo 2 remained so, it had been joined by the company commander - the objective was disputed, so I had not won the game!

No longer distracted by my flanking move, more Leo2s were arriving on scene, and the inexorable arithmetic of NATO ROF 2 vs Soviet ROF 1 led to my force melting away unable to push the big cats away from the objective... 

Very close at one point, but not close enough! Still, taking out 2 mighty Leopards made it easier to bear!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Blucher Waterloo 202

This Sunday the 18th June, the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the Wollongong Wargamers held our now traditional Blucher ruleset game of Waterloo.

Image courtesy of Kaptain Kobold Semi Professional Photography inc.
We were a bit light on in terms of players this year, since David, our official Napoleonic intellectual, had been granted leave to pursue his political career as a Representative of the People, or something or other, and Peter, who had spent much effort in improving last year's scenario, was overseas. A particular shame, as his improvements delivered a perfect game!

Whereas last year we had gone for Waterloo - The Full Monty, this year we would ignore Placenoit, so also the Prussian IV and French VI Corps, concentrating instead on a narrow table based on the Mont St Jean ridge itself, as illustrated in the red rectangle above, image from The Waterloo Companion, Mark Adkin, an essential aid to wargaming Waterloo!

Which ridge Gary hand built in record time, delivering up 9 foot modelled to his usual impeccable standards.

Also finding time to provide the opposite 'French Grand Battery' ridge, to fully set the scene!

The various strongpoints and salient features were modelled, but, given the scale of the game, each turncated to a single Base Width footprint - Hougomont's grounds being reduced further after this picture was taken. Similarly the sandpit, sheltering only a Bn. was subsumed into the La Haie Sainte model, and the complex of 4 smaller farms out west represented by just Papelotte and Frischermont.

We divided up each army into manageable 'Corps' that would each get by with one MO dice.

Points (Elan)
Table Position
I Corps (D’Erlon)
South East half
II Corps (Reille)
South West half
Reserve Cavalry (Ney)
Initially off table
Guard Cavalry (Ney)
Initially off table
Imperial Guard
Initially off table

The French had 5 'Corps', but only I and II Corps would start on table, and Alan's Guard and Reserve Cavalry were conflated into one command for ease. The French had an morale value of 15, and a total of 195 points.

The Anglo-Allies had 4 commands, and the Prussians just the 1. The Allies had a morale value of 11, with 187 points.

Anglo-Allied East ‘Corps’
(Cooke & Alten)
North East
Anglo Allied West Brunswick Divison
John G
North West
Anglo Allied West Hill’s Division
John P
North West
Anglo Allied Cavalry (Uxbridge
John G
North Centre and detachments
Prussian I & II Corps (Zieten)
John P
Eastern edge of table from move 19

The Prussians had a morale value of 6, at 64 points, with their army representing only Zieten and those elements of I and II Korps which directly supported the Mont St Jean ridge, rather than go further south agains Plancenoit. They would arrive on move 19, about a third of the way into the game. In terms of attrition, realistically we felt only the Prussians might have had cause for concern...but they had Blucher himself, who allowed a free Army activation: Raise high the Black Flags, my Children!

The Anglo Allies set up first, using cards face down to conceal their deployment...

At first sight, it seemed they were deploying in the same old way: along the ridge, but with the forward strongpoints stoutly defended...  The game started with the French turn 12 which equates to midday in Blucher. The objectives were allocated a points value:     Hougomont (2 points) La Haye Sainte (2 points), Cross Roads on Ridge (2 points) Papelotte/Frischermont, (1 point each).

We French however, having done the thankless historical deployment hard yards last year, were this year free to deploy as we wished. Accordingly Caesar led D'Erlon's corps directly against the Papelotte complex, using his light cavalry to cover his flank...

Whilst Daniel led Reille's corps against Hougomont, but diverting rather more of his units to cover against the strongly held ridge...

As you would expect, most of the Allied artillery was attached to the Brigades, but there was sufficient concentrations of Royal Horse Artillery to make one's eyes water...

Caesar used his own grand battery to good effect also, and was soon in position to assault the objectives on the eastern flank - hopefully before the Prussians turned up...

Meantime John G in the centre had taken a page from history and launched a couple of Brigades of Light Cavalry against Reille's corps. Unfortunately they weren't the Union Brigade though, so only did superficial damage...

Even though it was early in the game, at this stage I decided to order La Garde au Feu! With one French corps pushing east and the other west, our centre was looking decidedly empty, and I saw no reason why Daniel and Caesar should have all the fun!

Accordingly the Guard was manoeuvered so as to be able to assault La Haie Sainte, after it had been judiciously softened up by the Artillery of the Guard!

Gary was making a fine defence of Hougomont however, the Redcoats' volleying ability was steadily eroding Daniel's combat ability...The was no breakthrough imminent on the French left flank...

Over on the far right, Caesar seemed to be taking great pains to set up his assault with meticulous precision - perhaps he thought those looming dark blue columns approaching his flank was Grouchy?

At any rate the Allied players were struggling to hide their confidence!

But no, it wasn't Grouchy who turned up just as the French assaults were about to go in! There are those Black Flags!

The British and Prussians had a cordial encounter, and hatched their plans...

And Gary, supremely confident of his mastery of the western flank, redeployed his garrison from Hougomont, leaving it apparently safe behind the thin red line....

However, suddently the initiative seemed to swing back to the French - thanks to some powerful cannonading, the gallant garrision of La Haie Sainte was speedily evicted by the Young Guard!

And Caesar managed to storm and capture both Papelotte and Frischermont just before the Prussians could support their beleaugered garrisons...

At this point John G, perhaps alone amongst the Allied players in sensing that this year the Allies would have to work for their victory, began deploying the Allied heavy cavalry...

Alan had already been moving the French Reserve and Guard Cavalry towards our eastern flank, both to attempt to pin down the Prussians...

And also to keep our increasingly threadbare centre together...

So at this stage, the game was evenly balanced, the French having 4 objective points in hand, La Haie Sainte and the Papelotte complex, the Allies also 4; Hougomont and the crossroads...

The allies sought to regain the initiative, with an attempt to recapture La Haie Sainte led by the Brigade of Guards, supported by the Union and Household Cavalry Brigades! Heavy weights indeed!

However this was the Old Guard they were dealing with...

And a spirited attack by the Grenadiers of the Old Guard pushed back a heavy Cavalry Brigade!

However over on the eastern flank the relentless pressure from the Prussians was telling....

And Caesar had to explain to the rest of the rather sceptical French team how he managed to lose one of the hard-won objectives to a bunch of conscript sausage eaters!

But then, as if to balance the Prussian's success, a last gasp effort by Daniel with Reille's corps reached the abandoned objective of Hougomont!

If I could hold La Haie Sainte against the mounting British counter-attacks...

And if Caesar could retake Papelotte - Victory would be ours! However, John P, aware of Caesar's reputation with the dice, was not a worried man...

In the closing moves of the game, all seemed to hang on the number of momentum dice each side would get...

But the dice Gods maintained their disdain for the Allied momentum dice, and, incredibly, smiled upon Caesar's last ditch assault on Papelotte - the village changed hands for the third time! La Victoire et a Nous!

Time to celebrate with a nice cup of tea!