The Baroness de Loutson Marches on Newark!

The Baroness de Loutson and the Cadet Corps of Slebech Castle College For Young Ladies will this week be marching on Newark, to reinforce the Royalist forces in Pete Barfield’s ‘A Very British Civil War’ game at the ‘Partizan 2018′ show.

I can’t flippin’ wait, as it’s been about four years since my last wargames show and coincidentally about four years since I last painted some VBCW figures, so I thought I’d use the game as motivation to reduce the lead-pile somewhat!

If you missed it, I covered the Slebech Castle Cadet Corps in a previous article here: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/2018/04/16/a-very-british-civil-war-the-slebech-castle-cadet-corps/

Sadly, most of the Corps has lain unloved and unpainted on the lead-pile for the last few years, but that has now been rectified!

All of these figures are produced by Hinterland Miniatures in the USA, sculpted by the ubiquitous hand of Paul Hicks and painted by me.  Hinterland’s wonderful, yet deeply esoteric range of ‘Germanic Female Victoriana’ figures can be found here: https://hinterlandminiatures.weebly.com/

Above: The Baroness herself in parade uniform and wielding a vicious-looking riding-crop.

Above: The Baroness in close-up.

Above: While the Baroness is Colonel of the Cadet Corps, the day-to-day running and tactical leadership of the Corps is exercised by Lieutenant Colonel, Lady Aisling Keir, here seen with some of her Headquarters Squadron.

Above: Lieutenant Colonel Keir’s HQ group dismounted.  Note that the Corps’ uniforms are recycled Imperial German Hussar uniforms, sourced from Baron de Loutson’s East Prussian cousin, the Freiherr von Lützen, former Commanding Officer of the German Husaren-Regiment ‘Von Lützen’.

Above: Lance-armed Cadets of the Mounted Hussar Squadron.

Above: Rifle-armed cadets of the Mounted Hussar Squadron.

Above: The Officer Commanding the Mounted Hussar Squadron, Captain, Lady Irene Gwynne-James-Davies.

Above: Cadets of the Foot Hussar Squadron and Support Squadron engage in street-fighting training.

Above: The massed mounted elements of the Corps on parade, including the Mounted Hussar Squadron, Light Armoured Squadron and elements of the Tactical Headquarters Squadron.

Above: The massed foot elements of the Corps, including the Foot Hussar Squadron, Support Squadron and elements of the Tactical Headquarters Squadron.

Above: The whole Corps on parade.

I almost forgot the Music Section…

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Partizan (Show), VBCW Royalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire: The Battle of Camrose

Our quest for a good set of VBCW rules continued with another game, this time using the excellent ‘Force on Force’ ruleset by Ambush Alley Games (published by Osprey).  We’d already used these for ultra-modern games, but thought they might suffice for VBCW with very minimal modification.  We weren’t disappointed, as the game moved very swiftly and achieved a satisfactory outcome despite most of us being novices at the rules.

I wanted to see how well the rules handled disparate troop qualities, so we pegged the defending Anglican League militia at Troop Quality D6 and the attacking Royalist forces at Troop Quality D8.  Both sides had Morale D8 and reasonable levels of supply and motivation.  Both sides were approximately the same strength, being roughly a platoon of three sections plus heavy weapons, though the militia, while having the advantage of defending close terrain, were lacking in LMGs.  The attackers meanwhile had some armour support in the form of two light tanks, plus a troop of mounted infantry in reserve.

I must apologise for the poor quality of photos in this report, as my camera once again had a melt-down and refused to take close-up shots.  However, Gareth Beamish and Doug Cowie came to the rescue with some additional photos.  So my sincere apologies for the complete lack of focus… Much like my wargaming history, really…

The Battle:

At the Battle of Pelcomb Cross (see previous report), the Royalist forces had once again received a bloody nose in attempting to launch a frontal assault on the Bishop of St David’s’s fledgling army.  However, they had some success in capturing Pelcomb Farm and the Anglican counter-attacks action had sucked in most of the Bishop’s reserves, leaving the rest of the Anglican defence line stretched thin.

Lord Margam, commanding the King’s forces in Pembrokeshire, still had a card to play – he had massed a force of infantry, armour and cavalry at the village of Rudbaxton, on the A40 Haverfordwest-Fishguard road, east of the Western Cleddau River.  This force was ideally placed, if it could seize the vital bridge at Camrose, to totally outflank the Anglican League lines at Pelcomb Cross.

Reconnaissance by the Loyal Landsker Legion reported back that the bridge at Camrose was barricaded, but only lightly held by a few sentries.  However, the village of Camrose, on the high ground overlooking the bridge, was held by a unit identified as the Treffgarne & Camrose Local Defence Volunteers – a newly-raised unit with indifferent armaments and training.  The bridge had previously been held by elements of the veteran Roch Castle Fencibles and would therefore have been an impossible nut to crack, but the Battle of Pelcomb Cross caused that unit to be withdrawn in order to mount a counter-attack.  Camrose was therefore ripe for the taking.

Above: An overview of the battlefield from the Royalist lines. In the foreground is the Western Cleddau River, with its barricaded bridge and in the distance is the village of Camrose.  On the left, and on the road to the hamlet of Cuttybridge, is the ‘Olde Inn’ pub, serving a variety of quality ales and home-cooked bar-snacks.

Above: The Camrose & Treffgarne LDV begin to assemble.

Above: The main street of Camrose.

Above: The ancient landlady of the Olde Inn smokes her pipe and watches the LDV drilling. Her eyes aren’t very good these days, hence why she’s so out of focus.  Her grand-daughter does the laundry.  Note that the Olde Inn is a Welsh theme-pub, so the granddaughter wears her traditional hat.

Above: The hand-picked 1st Storm-Unit of the BUF’s ‘Sir Thomas Picton’ Cohort, investigates the playful sheep of the Western Cleddau Valley…

Above: Machine-gun and anti-tank rifle teams take up position to cover the bridge.

Above: Faced with superior numbers, the LDV  bridge sentries quickly scarper to raise the alarm as the BUF charge the bridge. One BUF section storms the bridge itself and begins dismantling the barricade to allow the tanks and cavalry to cross. The other two BUF sections swim/wade the river downstream and begin to move forward to the pub and the promise of a superior IPA or hoppy summer ale.

 

Above: The light tanks of No.3 Troop, ‘C’ Squadron, The King’s Dragoon Guards, provide overwatch as the BUF infantry advance. The Loyal Landsker Legion meanwhile, wait, mounted on their horses, for the barricade to be cleared.  A gun detachment from the 102nd Field Regiment (Pembrokeshire Yeomanry) deploys nearby, but the Detachment Commander realises to his horror that they’ve only packed armour-piercing ammunition and no HE!  He awaits the arrival of the Battery Sergeant-Major to rip him a new orifice…  In the distance, the BUF begin to skirmish with the forward elements of the LDV, much to the chagrin of a field of cows (a random event card resulted in unintended hand-to-horn combat between the Welsh Blacks and the Black Shirts).

Above: Another view of the BUF’s assault across the river.

Above: The sheep graze, oblivious to the battle starting to erupt around them.

Above: The LDV Commanding Officer and Vicar of Camrose, the Reverend Gethin Thomas, is finally dragged out of the pub by his deacon.  The Reverend Thomas staggers up the road to find his men after a particularly agreeable pint of Crown 1084.

Above: Another view from the Royalist positions.

Above: The KDG tank commanders scan the horizon for targets. In the treeline, BUF heavy weapons teams do likewise.

Above: The LDV in Camrose re-deploy to meet the BUF assault.

 

Above: At last, the barricade at the bridge is cleared and the Loyal Landsker Legion move forward to cross the bridge. Fate now played a hand as a bank of typical ‘Pembrokeshire Cawl’* fog swept in to hide this movement from the Anglican League forces (another random event card).

*’Pembrokeshire Cawl’ is like ‘London Pea Soup’, except that it’s thicker, lumpier and with things in it you’d rather not know about.

Above: On the left, the BUF storm-unit commander watches his men cross the Western Cleddau safely to the opposite bank and finally dips his own toes into the water. Was that a pike he saw?  A lamprey perhaps?!  “Er, you first, Sergeant…”

Above: As the firefight intensifies on the southern flank, the LDV men hiding among the hedgerows north of the bridge wait for the enemy to come to them.

Above: Similarly, back in Camrose, the LDV sit and wait for the enemy to appear. A St John’s Ambulance Cadet waits at the crossroads to treat the wounded.

Above: The cows are stuck in the firing-line as the battle is joined. Whichever side wins is going to be having a barbecue at the Olde Inn tonight…

Above: Having watched his Sergeant cross safely, the BUF commander is half-way across the Cleddau when a trained Anglican attack-lamprey grabs his leg and attemots to drag him under! Without hesitating, the unit standard-bearer drags the spluttering officer out of the river with only light wounds (this was actually a roll for attempting to cross dangerous terrain in ‘Force on Force’ – the officer was the only BUF soldier to fail the roll!).  In the meantime the cavalry pass over the bridge and the tanks begin to move forward.

In front of the pub, but unseen by our cameras, the LDV attempt to mount an ambush, but the ambush is spotted by the BUF and is very quickly taken under fire (perhaps they spooked the cattle?).  Suffering casualties, the Anglican League troops soon fell back and were quickly followed up by the BUF infantry.  However, as they broke cover, it was the BUF’s turn to suffer casualties as they came under Vickers MG fire from the village.  In addition, a lone, heroic Anglican soldier dashed forward with a primed grenade and lobbed it into the midst of the lead BUF section, causing mayhem.

Above: In the centre, the leading KDG tank comes under accurate and effective fire from an anti-tank rifle. The crew have a crisis of confidence and bale out.  Suitably embarrassed, they soon get back in again.  On the right, the BUF unit that had cleared the barricade moves out to sweep the fields north of the road and soon runs into an ambush.

Above: Having crossed the bridge, the horsemen of the Loyal Landsker Legion gallop through some wild and inaccurate machine gun fire and deploy to the right of the road. As they charge towards the cover of a hedge, they come under close-range fire from enemy infantry hidden there.  Suddenly a voice calls out for the Anglican troops to hold their fire!  Astonished at their luck, the horsemen dismount and prepare to return fire.

Above: “Carruthers?! Is that you?!  It’s me, Gussie!”  Such are the fortunes of war… It seems that the Anglican League unit is led by the troop commander’s old chum from India… (Yes, another random event card…) The firing stops in this corner of the battlefield, as the two old duffers open a hip-flask and reminisce about the good old days in the Raj.  Their men stand around looking embarrassed, trying to avoid eye-contact with the other side, but trying to catch the eye of the more attractive sheep.

Above: As the pair carry on chatting, the battle carries on in the distance. Half of the BUF troops are now attempting to push on up the slope into Camrose, though a hail of fire is holding them back and is starting to cause casualties in the Blackshirt ranks.  The tanks and the BUF machine gun hammer the village, inflicting more losses on the defenders.

Above: The two officers carry on, oblivious to the raging inferno around them. The BUF get impatient and move up to get the fight moving again.  “Well it’s been jolly nice seeing you again Gussie, old chap. If it’s alright with you, my chaps would like the chance to return fire.  I think that’s only fair?”

Above: Meanwhile, in the centre of the Royalist line, the BUF commander, nursing his fish-wound, wonders what the hell is happening on his right!

Above: Just as things start to heat up in the centre, the landlady’s granddaughter strides into view and discipline evaporates as the soldiers of both sides preen, whistle and generally make lewd suggestions to attract her attentions (the random events really were coming thick and fast in this game…).

Above: The BUF commander attempts to get the battle moving yet again. He sends orders, followed by threats, to the cavalry troop commander and personally urges his own troops to stop whistling and get up that bloody slope!

Above: The tanks meanwhile, oblivious and impervious to cows, fish, landlady’s granddaughters and old friends from India, continue to exchange fire with the Anglican heavy weapons teams hidden in the houses of Camrose.

Above: Encouraged by the thought of hoppy, bittersweet summer ales, the Blackshirts make reasonable progress in their attack on the Olde Inn. One Anglican League unit is forced back into the pub, while another is pinned down in the field on the forward slope. However, as a St John’s Ambulance Cadet runs over in an attempt to treat the Anglican League wounded, he is mercilessly cut down by a burst of fire from the beastly Blackshirts; a deuced shabby fascist trick!

Above: With the Blackshirts fully engaged in the fields either side of the road, a militiaman, armed with sticky-bombs, seizes his chance and makes a run on the nearest tank!

Above: The sticky-bombers efforts prove unnecessary however, as the leading KDG tank is once again engaged by the anti-tank rifle. This time a track is terminally damaged.  The crew bale out and make good their escape.

Above: Despite the neutralisation of some of the Royalist armour, the Anglican League troops are starting to suffer heavy casualties from the Royalist fire. The Anglican infantry sections are largely pinned down by fire the BUF infantry, while the heavy weapons teams hidden among the houses are being taken apart by tank and machine gun fire.  Casualties are starting to mount and the BUF finally manages to mount a successful assault on the pub!  It’s time to for the Bishop’s forces to withdraw.

Game Notes

Figures by Musketeer Miniatures, Empress Miniatures and Hinterland Miniatures.  The old lady and her granddaughter are French Revolutionary Wars figures by Eureka Miniatures.  Martin Small converted them into Welsh ladies a few years back for our ‘Fishguard 1797’ game.

Livestock by Redoubt Miniatures.

AFVs by Warlord Games with crews by Empress Miniatures.

The village buildings are pre-coloured laser-cut models by 4Ground Miniatures, though the pub was scratch-built by Martin Small, being a model of the famous Royal Oak pub in Fishguard, where the French invaders signed the surrender document in 1797.  Other terrain items were scratch-built by Al ‘Skippy’ Broughton.

The half-decent photographs are by Gareth Beamish and Doug Cowie.

Rules used are ‘Force on Force’ by Ambush Alley Games & Osprey, incorporating ‘fog of war’ cards from ‘Went The Day Well?’ by Solway Crafts & Hobbies and others picked up on the ‘Very British Civil Forum’.

The game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire: The Battle of Pelcomb Cross

With the Bishop of St David’s still struggling to return to Pembrokeshire following his reverse at Three Cocks, Lord Tenby’s Royalist Administration decided to capitalise on the Bishop’s absence.  Baron Kylsant, who had been flown back to Pembrokeshire bfrom Brecon y the RAF, was ordered to mount a reconnaissance in force against Anglican forward positions at Pelcomb Cross, a few miles northwest of Haverfordwest.

Above: Elements of the Anglican League’s Roch Castle Fencibles (victors of the actions at Crundale and Treffgarne-Owen) occupy the hamlet of Pelcomb Cross.

Above: Major General Sir Ivor Picton, on an inspection tour of the front, stops with his staff to have a pint of Buckley’s Best Bitter at the Pelcomb Inn.

Above: The sound of Lewis Gun fire from Pelcomb Farm soon has Fencibles rushing to man their positions.

Above: Led by an old campaigner, the ‘St Non’ Company takes up positions among the cottages surrounding the crossroads.

Above: A short distance to the south, a BUF scout spots the Pelcomb Inn.  With the taste of the Sun Inn’s inferior Felinfoel Double Dragon still sour in his mouth, he starts to feel a thirst coming on.

Above: On the scout’s signal, other members of the Haverfordwest BUF branch of the Campaign for Real Ale move forward.

Above: The Roch Castle Fencibles prepare to defend their pub to the last.

Above: Baron Kylsant looks on as his men advance. He couldn’t give a flying fig for the prospect of visiting a real ale pub, as his ‘personal medic’ always has a tot of medicinal Napoleon brandy somewhere on her person (and sometimes it’s dashedly difficult, but damnably enjoyable to find).

Above: Another BUF Storm-Unit moves forward as an anti-tank rifle team covers them.

Above: ‘B’ Company of 2nd KSLI starts to take effective fire from the Anglican ‘St Padarn’ Company, stationed in Pelcomb Farm. However, a supporting light tank from ‘C’ Squadron, 1st King’s Dragoon Guards manages to provide effective supporting fire and the Shropshiremen press slowly forward.

Above: In the centre, the 2nd BUF Storm-Unit is pinned down in the hedgerows as it takes fire from the hedges in front, the cottages on the left and the farm on the right. A runner is sent back to Baron Kylsant, requesting urgent tank and MG support.

Above: However, the Anglican League now has its own tank support lurking in the farmyard.

Above: The Fencibles in the farm continue to pour fire into the King’s troops, but they are starting to suffer casualties from the return fire coming from the Royalist tanks.

Above: All heads turn skywards as one of the ‘Bishop’s Wasps’ appears over the battlefield.

Above: Wing Commander ‘Taffy’ Jones DSO MC DFC & Bar MM makes a strafing run across the battlefield. ‘Taffy’ Jones was one of the highest-scoring British air aces of the Great War and is still a formidable airman.

Above: A medic seconded from Baron de Loutson’s Slebech Castle College for Young Ladies’ Cadet Corps, provides a handsome young Subaltern with a much-needed drink to steady the nerves.

Above: On the left flank, the BUF’s 1st Storm-Unit cautiously crosses the hedgerows in front of Pelcomb Cross. All seems quiet…

Above: Suddenly, a volley of fire from the cottages cuts down several Blackshirts and the advance staggers to a halt. The BUF Cohort Commander moves forward to take control of the deteriorating situation.

Above: With fire from the farm largely suppressed, the KSLI move forward again as the tank continues to spray MG fire at its loopholed walls.

Above: Suddenly, a burst of heavy MG fire from the lurking Anglican tank rattles off the KDG tank’s armour. A few rounds find their mark and a track is shattered, leaving the tank immobilised in the lane.  Unperturbed, the Dragoon Guardsmen coolly return fire, but the enemy tank has already withdrawn.

Above: As the first KDG tank takes fire, a second tank emerges from cover, along with a BUF tank-hunting team.

Above: In typical style, the Dragoon Guards officer brings a certain level of class and tone to the battlefield as he coolly scans the horizon for the enemy tank.

Above: Reinforcements arrive; a tankette crewed by two of Baron de Loutson’s young ladies and flying the colours of Baron de Loutson’s ‘English Mistery’ faction, passes the Sun Inn and advances to support the KDGs.

Above: An armoured car, also crewed by young ladies, follows the tankette past the Sun Inn.

Above: The 2nd KSLI’s Machine Gun Platoon also now deploys along a hedgerow and adds its weight to the assault on Pelcomb Farm. The Anglican Militiamen are finally driven out and fall back towards Pelcomb Cross.

Above: However, the BUF’s left flank is presently being cut to pieces and suffer heavy casualties in the fields south of the Pelcomb Inn. A ‘Wasp’ also adds to the real ale-lovers’ misery.

Above: The Blackshirt commander desperately tries to rally his men with the promise of a free round of Double Dragon at the Sun, but this was the wrong thing to say and his men rout and flee for the slim possibility of decent beer at The Swan in Littlehaven.

Above: Nevertheless, the Royalist right flank seems fairly secure and the Shropshiremen move forward to take the farm, covered by the tanks and machine gunners.

Above: An overview of the battlefield taken by the war correspondent for the Western Telegraph, Sir Aidan Catey, through a long lens from an observation balloon tethered to a the lounge bar of the Bristol Trader Inn at Haverfordwest. Note that the Anglican League tank has re-positioned itself in the farmyard and remains to be winkled out.

Above: Despite the heavy casualties suffered by the BUF (again), the Royalists remain in good spirits.

Above: However, some people always take high-spirits too far and a brief outbreak of Morris is swiftly and ruthlessly stamped out!

Game Notes:

Figures by Musketeer Miniatures, Renegade Minatures, Empress Miniatures, Hinterland Miniatures, Great War Miniatures and Woodbine Designs, painted by me.

AFVs mostly by Warlord Games, though the tankette is by Empress Miniatures.

Aircraft by Airfix, with a pilot by Copplestone Miniatures.

The farm is by EM4 Minatures, while the other buildings were scratch-built by Martin Small.  Other terrain items were built by Al ‘Skippy’ Broughton.

The good photographs are by Gareth Beamish.

Rules used are ‘Went The Day Well?’ by Solway Crafts & Hobbies.

The game was played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire.  We meet every Tuesday 6.30-11pm at 1st Pembroke Scout HQ, Pennar, Pembroke Dock.

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A Very British Civil War 1938: ‘Beating The Bishop’ – The Battle of Three Cocks

Following a string of small victories north of Haverfordwest (most notably at Crundale and Treffgarne-Owen), the Anglican League forces of the Right Reverend Islwyn Davies, Bishop of St David’s had wrested the initiative from the Crown forces in Pembrokeshire.  Volunteers were now flocking to the Bishop’s colours and most importantly, foreign military aid was now starting to arrive.

However, the Bishop was unable to rest on his laurels, as a call to arms had been received from Anglican League forces in the distant Wye Valley.  With the Bishop of Hereford having been captured and his forces driven west across the Wye, they were now in danger of collapse, as the Royalists had now established a bridgehead on the western bank of the Wye.  The Bishop of St David’s promised to send what forces he could.  After some intense negotiation under a flag of truce at Lampeter, the Bishop managed to win permission from most of the main Welsh Nationalist factions to march across their territory (in return for military aid in future operations against the King’s forces).

Leaving Major General Sir Ivor Picton to maintain the pressure on the Royalist forces in Pembrokeshire, the Bishop’s relief column, consisting of an infantry battalion (Lt Col Griffin’s City of St David’s Volunteer Fencibles), a cavalry squadron (Major Harding-Jervois’ Lord St David’s Horse), some light armour and St Justinian’s GPO Rocket Battery, was soon on the march.  Military command was exercised by the former Lord Lieutenant for Pembrokeshire, Brigadier Sir Evan Davies, though the Bishop also accompanied the column to provide moral and spiritual leadership.

Within only a few days, the column had marched up the River Teifi, through Newcastle Emlyn, Lampeter and Tregaron, before crossing the bleak moors of the Cambrian Mountains and descending into the Wye Valley at Builth Wells.  Following a brief pause at Builth to allow the tail of the column to catch up, the Bishop’s column was soon marching on once again, following the right bank of the Wye and aiming to reach Hay-on-Wye and be within striking distance of their objective within 24 hours.

The calm before the storm… The River Wye flows peacefully past the village of Three Cocks

Two hours south of Builth Wells, the leading troop of the Lord St David’s Horse reached the ‘T’ junction with the main Brecon to Hay road, just to the west of the village of Three Cocks.  Scouts reported the road clear of enemy forces and the rest of the column closed up as the scouts pushed on towards Three Cocks.

Above: At the road junction, a large farm seems peaceful.  No sign of the enemy…

Above: The Bishop’s vanguard presses on past the farm.

Above: The leading troop of Lord St David’s Horse presses on to Three Cocks.

Above: With guidon flying and trumpet blaring, the Horse add a degree of class, dash and tone to the Bishop of St David’s army…

As the Bishop approached the road junction, his armoured command vehicle breasted a rise and the magnificent sight of Lord Hereford’s Knob, marking the English border, came into view.  Caught up in the joy of the moment, the Bishop burst into the ‘Purple-Headed Mountain‘ verse of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.  However, this proved too much for the high-spirited junior officers of his headquarters staff, who already highly amused by the local place-names, were now helpless with laughter…

Above: As the scouts push on toward Three Cocks, the village also seems peaceful, though it’s too quiet…

Above: Who knows what might be lurking behind this innocent-looking pillar-box?

The singing and the laughter was cut suddenly short by the distinctive rattle of a Vickers machine gun…

Above: A BUF Vickers team, concealed among the ruins of Three Cocks, opens up on the Lord S David’s Horse.

Unbeknown to the Bishop of St David’s, his march had been detected by Royalist agents almost as soon as it had begun and Viscount Tenby had immediately dispatched a flying column from Lord Kylsant’s Landsker Frontier Force, with orders to march virtually parallel to the Bishop, travelling via the Royalist enclaves of Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Llandovery and Brecon, in an effort to reach Hay-on-Wye ahead of the Bishop and intercept his march.  This effort had been partially successful and a single platoon of BUF travelling by commandeered civilian transport from Brecon, had managed to reach Three Cocks only an hour or so ahead of the Bishop of St David’s.  The rest of Lord Kylsant’s column was still marching from Brecon, but if the BUF could delay the Bishop at Three Cocks for long enough, Kylsant was now ideally placed to strike at the Bishop’s rear.

The BUF platoon-commander had chosen his positions well – a Vickers MG section and an anti-tank rifle section were hidden among the houses, while an infantry section, reinforced by anti-tank sticky-bombers, took up position in woods on each flank, ready to outflank the enemy column.  As the Anglican cavalry appeared, the MG gunner waited until he had a mass of horsemen filling his sight-picture… His first long burst was fired directly down the length of the road.  The cavalrymen, hemmed in by hedgerows on each side, were mercilessly cut down.  Almost half the troop had been lost in just the first few seconds of the ambush!

Above: The peaceful country scene suddenly erupts in horror, as the MG beaten-zone template descends and almost half of the cavalry troop is cut down in the savage burst of machine gun fire.

Above: Putting spurs to their horses, the desperate cavalrymen jump the hedgerows on their left, escaping into the fields south of the road.  However, they soon run into a second ambush and lose another of their number to BUF riflemen!

Above: BUF riflemen emerge from cover as the storm-clouds gather.

Above: Enthused by the sight of the successful ambush, the right-hand BUF section commander has a rush of blood to the head and orders his men to attack!  However, a volley of rifle and Lewis MG fire from the far hedgerows soon cools his blood and he and his men once again take cover among the scrubland on the bank of the Wye.

Despite having lost the bulk of his cavalry, Brigadier Davies remained positive and his infantry were soon working their way forward on both flanks as the rocket battery deployed to engage the nearest BUF infantry.  The P16 armoured car pressed forward along the road, replacing the cavalry as the lead element of the advance.  Once again, the BUF Vickers MG rattled out a greeting, but the bullets bounced harmlessly off the armour plate.  The armoured car responded, pumping 37mm shells into the house containing the MG section (and unbeknown to them, an anti-tank rifle team).

Above: An old campaigner leads the way through the undergrowth.

Above: The Anglican Headquarters’ armoured truck moves forward to support the infantry.

Above: The BUF MG section, its position identified by the Anglican armoured car, could only withstand so much punishment and was soon running.  However, the hidden anti-tank rifle now opened fire on the armoured car.  The first round missed, but the gunner corrected his aim and hit with his second round.  Astonishingly, the bullet penetrated the armour and must have then hit something vital, as the armoured car blew up catastrophically, killing its entire crew!

Above: As Anglican infantry move up on the right, their armour support blows sky-high!

Above: Brigadier Davies and the commander of the armoured truck have a ‘command disagreement’ as the Brigadier tries to order him forward to take on the anti-tank rifle team…

With the loss of their lead armoured car and the rest of their armour still straggling along the road from Builth, things were now starting to look grim for the Anglican League forces.  However, seizing the initiative, Major John Harding-Jervois, closely supported by a section of infantry, led his surviving cavalrymen in a desperate do-or-die charge against the left-hand BUF infantry section!  Amazingly, the alarmed BUF aimed too high and only succeeded in dropping one of the insane cavalrymen!  Dipping lances, sabres, guidon and trumpet, the Lord St David’s Horse charged home into the midst of the Blackshirts!  Two Blackshirts were cut down, but more joined the melee, two cavalrymen were cut down in turn.  The fight was close and at the last, Major Harding-Jervois found himself fighting on alone, surrounded by Blackshirts.  However, at that moment, the St David’s Fencibles charged into the melee, putting the last of the Blackshirts to flight!  Major Harding-Jervois, bloodied and clutching the tattered remnants of the troop guidon, rode back to the Fencibles’ cheers and for tea and medals with the Bishop.

Above: Major Harding-Jervois leads the last of his horsemen in a desperate charge.

Above: The Fencibles finally reach Three Cocks, but at what cost?

With the BUF troops in Three Cocks now largely on the run, the Brigadier and Bishop conferred.  They had suffered heavy losses in this effort to push past a weak force.  Did they have enough fighting strength left to push on?  Even if they did, would they have enough strength left to provide a worthwhile reinforcement to the Anglican League forces in the lower Wye Valley?

Suddenly a shout went up: A column had been spotted approaching from Brecon!  Infantry and cavalry in the lead… followed by more infantry… and tanks!

Lord Kylsant’s column had arrived.

That settled it.  The march to the Wye had failed.  The terrible sacrifice at Three Cocks had all been for naught.  They would withdraw to Builth and from there all the way back to Pembrokeshire.  Only God could possibly now help the Anglican League forces on the Wye.

Above: The experienced men of the Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets march toward Three Cocks.

Above: At the very point of the advance, the Commanding Officer of the Greenjackets, Lt Col Sir Howard ‘Honker’ Foley DSO MC DFC wields his trusty Purdey elephant gun…

 Game notes:

This game was originally planned as a training game to learn the ‘Went The Day Well’ rules prior to taking part in a big VBCW game (brilliantly titled ‘A Bridge on the River Wye’) at Hereford.  I was going to be taking my St David’s force, so had come up with a convoluted ‘historical’ justification for the Bishop of St David’s to be present in the Wye Valley (see above).  This little training game would then form part of the ‘back-story’ of the Bishop’s march and would also provide some ideas for unit quality, based on how well each unit did in this game.  However, fate in the form of my work rostering department played a hand and the outcome of the game had then to be changed, to provide an excuse as to why the Bishop didn’t turn up after all!  :)

This was our first game with ‘Went The Day Well’.  We found them interesting, fun and a lot better than ‘World in Flames’.

Terrain notes:

The farm is a truly lovely pre-painted resin model available from EM4 Miniatures for an astonishingly low price!  EM4 supremo Doug, on holiday down here in Pembrokeshire, was the BUF commander in our game.  By a sheer coincidence, he’d also booked himself onto the ‘Bridge on the River Wye’ game!

The other buildings are pre-painted laser-cut buildings by 4Ground Miniatures.

The rest of the terrain was scratch-built by Al Broughton.

Models:

The models are all my own, painted by me.  They’re mostly Musketeer Miniatures, though there is the odd Empress figure in there, as well as a Wargames Illustrated special figure (the ‘Old Campaigner’).  The armoured truck is by Musketeer Miniatures and the P16 halftrack is by Warlord Miniatures.

Doug’s account of the Battle of Three Cocks can be found on his blog here: https://velodoug.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/battle-of-three-cocks-first-steps-in-vbcw/

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Games | Leave a comment

Normandy 1944: Operation WINDSOR

Operation WINDSOR: The Battle for Carpiquet Airfield 4th July 1944

Report by Richard De Ferrars

Bovington 2009 saw the “Battlefront UK” group put on the demonstration game “Operation Windsor” – the assault by 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on Carpiquet Airfield on July 4th 1944. The scenario can be found here: http://www.fireandfury.com/scenarios/bloodhonourcarpiquet.pdf

Rules used were ‘Battlefront: WWII’ by Fire & Fury Games, though for this battle, which was fought in a very compact area, we used the 20mm ground-scale (1 inch to 60m instead of 1 inch to 40m) in order to give us more room for manoeuvre: http://www.fireandfury.com/products/desc_bfww2.shtml

By sheer coincidence, the game was played out exactly 65 years later to the day! At times, it seemed that fate would prevent any of us getting there but eventually seven of us managed to thwart bad luck and meet up for an excellent weekend. The weather, in stark contrast to the previous year’s storms, was wonderful. Hangovers on the Sunday were miraculously and undeservedly, absent. The game was played in very relaxed and enjoyable way – thank you to all the participants for this. Our table was in a great position and we managed, over the course of the weekend, to describe the battle and the rules to well over a hundred visitors to The Tank Museum.

Paddy Green took the lead with scenario design. Why Operation Windsor? Firstly, the terrain. The size of the game table allowed us to play with 15mm figures using the 20mm ground-scale – for us, visually, this provides the ideal combination. The airfield itself meant that a large part of the battlefield would be open ground – a novel experience for battles in Normandy. In addition, it generated endless opportunities to scratch-build terrain and buildings to provide a great-looking gaming table. The Abbaye Ardennes, on a rise north-east of the airfield, gave their artillery observers a panoramic view of the battle-field.

Secondly, the forces.: The Germans would be the 12. SS-Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjuegend’, which suited our collection. As well as an array of Panzergrenadiers, Panthers and Panzer IV’s (Tigers…), there was also the opportunity to get 88mm Flaks in a situation where they could use long-range fire properly. With the Canadians, we had the chance to field an entire Infantry Brigade, a Sherman Regiment from 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and also a full selection of specialist armour (“Funnies”) from the British 79th Armoured Division and Churchill Crocodiles from the 31st Tank Brigade, plus ample RAF air support. Overall, an irresistible combination.

The basic battle plan:

The Germans were battalion strength and rated elite. They occupied a long perimeter, defending in trenches & pill-boxes behind wire and minefields. Flak 88s and Pak 40s to the rear had excellent fields of fire – some positioned at the far end of the runway, others deep in Carpiquet village north of the hangers. A small number of Panthers & Panzer IVs were, in effect, mobile AT guns. Plenty of 20mm Flaks provided defence from the inevitable “Tiffies”. Artillery was plentiful but ammunition restricted.

The Canadians were brigade strength and rated experienced. They were attacking from the west, down the long axis of the airfield. The open expanse of runway was to be avoided. The main assault (the North Shore Regiment & La Regiment de la Chaudiere with armour support from the Fort Garry Horse & 79th Armoured Division) was to attack to the north of the runway, seize the north hangers and, beyond the airfield perimeter, the village of Carpiquet/ La Motte. Once this had been secured, a third battalion was available to move forward to assault the complex of control buildings at the far end of the runway. One further battalion, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, was to make a diversionary attack on the hangers to the south of the runway, without the benefit of any armour support. Artillery was plentiful and a “cab-rank” of Typhoons circled above the airfield.

Let the battle begin…

The Canadians were advancing behind a huge barrage and to avoid lengthy preliminaries, the game started with ‘Turn Zero’ using an optional “Accelerated Advance to Contact” rule. This meant that the Canadians moved immediately to 5” from the German positions and the barrage (and danger-close) was resolved on both sides at that point. As the 4.2” mortars fired away, Brigadier Blackader waited impatiently in his Tactical HQ for news from his Battalions.

Into turn 1 and through the smoke accompanying the end of the barrage, the Germans in their trenches and pill-boxes were greeted by the sight of scores of Shermans, Crocodiles, Flails and AVREs approaching the wire immediately in front of them. Small groups of infantry were dotted between the tanks. The Germans immediately dropped artillery on the back edge of the barrage. The honours were even in the artillery duel with disruption and a few losses each – but losses that the Canadians alone could easily afford to take. German tanks, Pak 40s and Flak 88s fired away at the numerous of targets and rapidly 2 Crocodiles and 2 Shermans were up in smoke.

The Canadians brought in the terrifying medium artillery concentrations onto the front line. Fireflies started to try and pick off the German tanks without success. But the specialised armour from 79AD moved effortlessly through the minefields and started to flatten the wire of the airfield perimeter. To the south, the Winnipegs moved to secure the village of Marcelet before contemplating an assault on the wire & pillboxes without armour support.

In turn 2, the main German artillery continued to harass the Canadians (the Werfer battalion was unavailable whilst moving to a new firing position). Casualties started to mount in the North Shore’s lead companies. The Flak 88s continued their steady reaping of allied armour but the Fireflies were able to take their first scalp (a Tiger????)

The Canadian field artillery was unavailable (reorganising after the barrage) but the brigade 4.2” mortars did their work and the first German Flak 88 position was taken out. At the wire, the Crocs and AVREs opened fire on the pill-boxes allowing A Company of the Chauds to get a foothold in the trenches. The North Shores (attacking to the north) had further to travel to reach the wire and started to fall behind their armour support.

To the south, the Winnipegs continued to consolidate their position in Marcelet. Vickers MMGs were moved into buildings about 200 yards from the wire.

In turn 3, the German artillery communication failed but several more tanks fell victim to the Flak 88s, Pak 40s and Panzer IVs. The Panzergrenadiers grimly stood fast in their trenches & pillboxes surrounded by Crocs & AVREs.

Free of the danger of flying through the barrage, the Typhoons started their regular sweeps of the airfield. But the huge volume of 20mm Flak fire kept the German armour safe. Despite efforts to screen off the Pak 88s with smoke, A Squadron of the Fort Garry Horse started to fall back. The Crocs and AVREs continued to move through the wire into the German trench & pillbox system. Panzer IVs appeared out of the north hangers and, taking up position by the control tower, started to provide support for the beleaguered defenders of the trenches & pillboxes.

To the south, the Winnipegs prepared for their assault., The Vickers and mortars tried to suppress the trench-line and put smoke down in front of the wire. Pioneer platoon, supported by a platoon from B Company, moved into the smoke to place demolitions against the wire. Carrier Platoon was deployed to exploit any breach in the wire whilst C Company moved unseen into woods a couple of hundred yards from the perimeter wire.

In turn 4, the forward move by the Winnipegs Carrier Platoon had not gone unseen by the observers in the Abbaye Ardennes and suffered under a terrifying concentration from the German artillery. The Nebelwerfer Battalion hit hard on the lead companies of the North Shores as they closed on the perimeter wire. Flak 88s continued to punch holes in the thinning ranks of Allied armour. In return, the Fireflies continued to pick off German armour as another Panzer IV and a Beobachtungspanzer III (artillery observation tank) were lost. Ominously, Panthers were seen to leave the south hangers and move past the far end of the runway to take up positions in Carpiquet village.

The Canadian medium artillery batteries were back on call and brought down a concentration around the control tower. A Panzer IV went up in flames dispelling the myth that artillery does not knock out tanks. As the Sherman squadrons hesitated in their advance, the more resilient Churchills from 79AD continued to grind their way through the German defences – Crocodiles and AVREs spitting flame and high explosive into bunkers and trenches. Amazingly the surviving Panzergrenadiers had already started to man the next line of defence around the dispersal shelters.

Having largely cleared the front-line trenches, A Company of the Chauds followed up into the smoke swirling around the control tower. In an act of outstanding bravery, Lt Stephen Uden earned the Victoria Cross; armed only with grenades and a Sten gun, he knocked out the last Panzer IV at the foot of the Control Tower.

To the south, the Winnepegs Pioneers succeeded in blowing open a breach in the wire, although the supporting platoon from B Company was virtually annihilated. Still badly shaken after the artillery barrage, only half the carriers from Carrier Platoon charged forward for the breach and even then, the Flak 88s took their toll, stopping the attack just short of the trenches beyond the blown wire.

In turn 5, the German artillery came down in strength on the recently won trenches inflicting heavy loss on B Company of the Chauds. Outside the perimeter, more artillery stalled efforts by the Sherman Squadrons to regroup. Flak 88s and Pak 40s in Carpiquet continued to pick off the Allied armour whilst the Panthers arrived alongside to bolster the deep defences.

In return, the Canadian artillery rained down on the German anti-tank defences but, deeply dug-in, they survived the onslaught to carry in their task of neutralising the Allied armour. One Sherman Squadron managed to resume its advance. The Chauds continued to consolidate their hold on the trenches and Control Tower with the north hangers now within reach. North of them, A Company of the North Shores assisted in mopping up in the trenches whilst B Company moved forward with the few surviving Crocs & AVREs towards the second German line of defence around the dispersal shelter complex.

To the south, Panzergrenadiers emerged from the south hangers to reinforce the trenches. The Winnipeg’s Carrier Platoon failed to resume their advance and it fell to the lead platoon of C Company to break cover from the woods and storm forwards through the breach in the wire into the trench complex, just getting there ahead of the German reinforcements.

In turn 6, German artillery whittled away the Canadian follow-up companies. But the hangers were finally screening the surviving Allied armour from the Flak 88s at the far end of the runway bringing a moment of respite from the highly effective long-range anti-tank fire. Typhoons again screamed down on the German positions but one crashed into the hangers close to the Flakpanzer IV that had brought it down.

The Canadian artillery, after repeatedly failing to find its mark, finally destroyed one of the Flak 88s at the far end of the runway. The surviving Shermans of the Fort Garry Horse struggled to move forwards with the follow-up companies as the men of the North Shores started to clear the Panzergrenadiers from the dispersal shelters north of the hangers.

To the south, the Winnipegs struggled to get men across the open ground to reinforce their tenuous hold in the trenches. But with large numbers of fresh infantry approaching the perimeter wire, the Canadians were poised to push the door wide open.

In turn 7, the German artillery smashed any hopes of an immediate breakthrough. To the north, Nebelwerfers screamed out the sky and one follow-up company of the North Shores ceased to be a threat. To the south, a battalion concentration shredded the remaining 2 platoons of the Winnipeg’s C Company as it was moving across the open ground to reinforce the survivors in the trenches. However the Winnipegs in the trench just managed to maintain a toe-hold after a strong counter-attack.

Canadian artillery continued to rain down on German tanks and guns in Carpiquet village, steadily weakening the defences. The Chauds A Company moved steadily down the line of the north hangers whilst the surviving armour assisted the North Shores in clearing the dispersal shelters. The Typhoons were running short of armour targets and swooped down to make a strafing run on the trench that the Winnipegs were battling to clear. Many Panzergrenadiers fell victim to its cannons but amazingly the sole surviving section from Winnipegs C Company at the end of the trench came through unscathed.

In turn 8, the German artillery continued to take its toll among the men of the North Shores. The Panthers, lurking in Carpiquet Village, picked off the final survivors of the 79 AD tanks. With both hanger complexes effectively in Canadian hands, outflanked to the north and south, the shattered remnants of III and IV (heavy weapons) Kompanies started to pull back from their positions at the end of the runway. However they were easy targets for the remaining Shermans and the Typhoons.

A Company from the Chauds was mopping up in the north hangers whilst Carrier Platoon from the North Shores mopped up around the final dispersal shelters. With the Winnepegs securing the south hangers, the western half of the airfield was secure. But…

At this point we decided to bring the game to a close. Two victory locations were in Canadian hands (north and south hangers) and three remained in German hands (Carpiquet, La Motte and the Airfield Control Buildings). Speculation if we had had longer to play? Panthers still lurked behind the wire amongst the strong-points in Carpiquet village. The follow-up companies probably could have secured Carpiquet & La Motte. But whether a fresh battalion supported by a single squadron of Shermans would have had enough punch to reach and clear the Airfield Control Buildings is doubtful.

Thanks to all who came and played!

The ‘Battlefront Wargamers UK’ will be in action again at The Tank Museum, Bovington on 14/15 July this year (after a five-year break) and will be playing another Normandy scenario, pitting Commandos and Canadians against the 12th SS: The Battle of Rots: http://www.fireandfury.com/scenarios/rots.pdf

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Normandy 1944, Scenarios, World War 2 | Leave a comment

Operation Market-Garden: The Dreijenseweg and the Third Lift

This is just a short post today, as it’s getting late and my camera played up on the day, leaving me with only a few decent photos of the game!

This is another one of our ‘Big Bovvy Bash’ games, played at Bovington Tank Museum in 2012, with the scenario being the Third Lift of British/Polish Airborne forces into Arnhem and the battle along the Dreijenseweg, on the northern edge of Oosterbeek.

Richard de Ferrars again provided the terrain for this game and again, Richard joined forces with Paddy Green to provide the troops.  Once again, I did the minimum work possible and provided the Horsa and Hamilcar gliders and Dakotas.  The gliders were hand-carved from balsa by the talented Mr Small due to a complete lack of suitable models…

Needless to say, within a few months, every man and his dog had released suitable 1/100th Horsa and Hamilcar glider kits… 🙁

Our scenario for the game can be found here: http://www.fireandfury.com/scenarios/arnhemdreijenseweg.pdf

Richard de Ferrars meanwhile, had FAR more success with his camera and was able to put together an excellent after-action report here: http://www.fireandfury.com/conventions/bovington2012AAR.pdf

Here are the pitiful photos I managed to take.  Have a look at Richard’s report for a far better view of the action!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Operation Market-Garden 1944, Scenarios, World War 2 | Leave a comment

Normandy 1944: The Grimbosq Bridgehead 6-7 Aug 1944

Historical Overview

The village of Grimbosq is a small and rather unremarkable village sandwiched between a large forest and the steep banks of the River Orne.  A rural farming community, its peace had previously only been disturbed by the train line running north from Thury-Harcourt. It was an unlikely place to become the focus of some of the fiercest fighting of the Normandy campaign.

In support of Operation TOTALIZE by Canadian forces to the east, 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division was ordered to attack towards Thury-Harcourt, on the River Orne.  The main thrust of this offensive was to be southwards, on the west bank of the Orne.  However, in what appears to have been an opportunistic move, Brigadier Fryer’s 176th Infantry Brigade was assigned the task of establishing a bridgehead over the River Orne.

In a possibly unexpected turn of events, at 1840 hours on the 6th of August a suitable fording place for infantry was found opposite Grimbosq.  During the night the infantry battalions of 176th Brigade, with support from two squadrons of the 107th Regiment RAC, established a bridgehead 1000m deep on the steep east bank of the Orne to the south of Grimbosq.  By 0800 hours on the 7th August the destroyed bridge at Le Bas, just to the west of Brieux, had been repaired and construction work was progressing on a more substantial Bailey Bridge.  Two counter-attacks by the 271st Infantry Division failed to dislodge the British and during the day 176th Brigade enlarged its bridgehead to a width of about 3km and depth of 1.5km.  Once the Bailey Bridge was completed, Churchill tanks from 34th Tank Brigade were able to reinforce the bridgehead.

Although the Grimbosq Bridgehead was established as an operational accident, it was soon apparent to both sides that it was of immense importance, as not only did it outflank the strong Thury-Harcourt position to the south, it also outflanked German positions to the north and protruded deep into the German left flank at a time when they were under extreme pressure from 1st Canadian Army’s Operation TOTALIZE to the north.  It was clearly time for Sepp Dietrich, the commander of I. SS-Panzer-Korps, to deploy part of his armoured reserve, and so he ordered Kampfgruppe Wünsche from 12. SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjügend to restore the situation.

The Scenario

This game was our annual ‘Big Bovvy Bash’ game at Bovington Tank Museum in July 2013 and Paddy Green wrote the scenario.  I was particularly keen to play, as I’d only just done a tour of the Grimbosq Bridgehead a couple of months earlier.  The rules used (as always) were ‘Battlefront: WWII’ by Fire & Fury Games and the full scenario can be found on the Fire & Fury website here:

http://www.fireandfury.com/scenarios/bloodhonourgrimbosq.pdf

The models were mainly from Paddy Green’s and Richard de Ferrars’ collection, with a few minor contributions by me (mainly aircraft, engineering vehicles and the roadside calvary for the calvary crossroads).

Here’s the map for our Bovington game:

The Game

With a bridgehead already established east of the Orne River by infantry wading the river, 59th (Staffordshire) Division Engineers built two bridges just downstream of Le Bas Hydro-Electric Power Station. The first bridge to be finished was a repair of the (breached) existing bridge at Le Bas. This was capable of taking Class 9 traffic, such as trucks and light AFVs, but nothing heavier.  The Churchill tanks of 107 RAC were therefore waded across, aided by winches and bulldozers provided by the Royal Engineers.  After considerable effort, a Class 40 pontoon bridge was built, enabling Churchill tanks and other heavy AFVs to easily enter the bridgehead.

One of the most significant events of the actual battle was the sudden appearance of a wing of Allied medium bombers, which plastered the Forêt de Grimbosq, but apparently suffered from 12th SS anti-aircraft fire. These were probably RAF Mitchells, but we couldn’t get our hands on sufficient models. A handful of Boston squadrons were still serving in the same wings as Mitchells, so we opted for a trio of lovely Boston models from Dave Schmid at Armaments In Miniature.

The bombers sweep in from the south, plastering the western edge of the forest, just to the east of Brieux. However, the sheer volume of 20mm flak results in a few downed bombers and throws off the survivors’ aim somewhat.  Nevertheless, they succeed in ripping the heart out of the 271st Infantry Division company that was due to assault La Bogtierre – an event that was to have significant consequences.  However, one bomber manages to drop its bombs on the Norfolks, aiding the German assault on the southern flank.

271st Infantry charge into the gap created by the RAF!

With the 271st Infantry reeling from the bombing, Siebken is forced to divert his 10th SS Panzer-Grenadier Company to assault La Bogtierre. A Vickers MMG section causes significant casualties on the panzer-grenadiers, stalling their initial assault.  However, the Vickers MMG is soon silenced by massed MG42 fire.  The supporting Pzkpfw IVs are engaged by two M10s, resulting in a KO’d Pzkpfw IV, but the loss of both M10s.  A 6pdr hidden in La Bogtierre Farm claims another Pzkpfw IV, but the gun is forced to make good its escape when assaulted by vengeful panzer-grenadiers.

In the centre, the Tiger company seems strangely reluctant to get stuck in to the fight. The Panthers on the German right flank show no such reluctance, however!

The British at Brieux and Le Bas are arrayed in considerable depth and strength. Siebken meanwhile, has only two panzer-grenadier companies with which to fight through these positions and one of his companies is already being chewed up at La Bogtierre!  Only a few British tanks and anti-tank guns have revealed themselves, but there must be more…

Wünsche’s main attack quickly takes the Calvary crossroads and drives on against determined British resistance at Grimbosq and the Chateau. German artillery slams down onto the houses, but 59th Division is giving as good as it gets, with large artillery missions being fired against the attacking panzers and panzer-grenadiers.

At the north-east corner of the bridgehead, panzer-grenadiers and Panthers push into Grimbosq.

At the western end of Grimbosq, things seem relatively quiet.

West of La Bogtierre, a 2-inch mortar team lurks behind a hedgerow, ready to deal out instant death to any Germans that come their way. The crew sharpen their bayonets and take a few practice-swings with the mortar-tube.

In the south, the 271st are faced with a succession of defended stream-lines, held by the Norfolks. Undeterred, the Germans push forward, infiltrating a significant force, including pioneers, up the thickly-wooded river bank.

Another view of the bombers’ attack.

The Norfolks attempt to plug their defences with the Carrier Platoon, but the Germans come on with increasing fanaticism!

Pioneers push forward as the Norfolks’ first defence line is breached.

At the south-east corner of the bridgehead, an isolated company of Norfolks fights a desperate rearguard action against the 271st.

With their second assault on La Bogtierre also having stalled, Siebken’s 10th Company suffers the ignominy of seeing a platoon from 271st Infantry seizing La Bogtierre with ease!

Siebken also now suffers the further humiliation of losing his prized flamethrower halftrack…

With Siebken’s 10th Company starting to suffer serious losses, the plan unravels even further as 11th Company is forced to dismount to complete the assault on La Bogtierre. German mortars crash into Brieux in an attempt to suppress British defenders there and keep them from intervening.

Panzer-grenadiers and Panthers are now pushing deep into Grimbosq and the Chateau is now largely overrun. Caught up in the moment, Wünsche does something rather rash…

Part of Wünsche’s headquarters element pauses at the Calvary crossroads.

Another view of the bitter, close-quarters fighting in Grimbosq.

Max Wünsche was last seen pushing forward for a better view of his objective…

With the commitment of his 11th Company, Siebken finally overwhelms the defenders of La Bogtierre. His battalion mortars lay smoke as 11th Company pushes on to assault the southern flank of Brieux.

Siebken’s exhausted 10th Company, aided by close support from armour, finally push the Norfolks out of La Bogtierre’s orchards. Some Churchills attempt to intervene on the southern edge of the farm, but are quickly knocked out by Pzkpfw IVs after a brief duel.

A single section of flamethrower-armed pioneers manage to establish a foothold in the south-east corner of Brieux. However, the rest of the panzer-grenadiers are thrown back in disorder.  If Siebken had done his reconnaissance properly, he would have noticed that 2-inch Mortar (see 12) and would never have attempted anything so foolish against such battle-hardened hand-to-hand specialists!

The pioneers, disordered by fire from a previously-unobserved Churchill parked outside the front door (!), are assaulted by Staffordshire infantry, but succeed against the odds in beating off all British counter-attacks!

The defenders of Grimbosq are now almost completely overrun. The fighting has now reached the church and the cemetery at the western end of the village and the Staffordshire men prepare to make their last-stand.  However, the Germans are rapidly running out of panzer-grenadiers!

With panzer-grenadier strength reaching critical levels, the Panthers are forced to mount even bolder attacks – pushing deep into the narrow streets with minimal support.

At the southern end of the battle, the 271st suffer a crisis of confidence at a critical moment, giving the Norfolks vital respite and a chance to plug the gaps in their lines.

The British view of the fighting in Brieux (described above).

The survivors of the Norfolks rally and form a new defensive position south of the Le Bas bridges.

Having secured their initial objectives, the 271st consolidate before pushing on to Le Bas.

The north-east corner of the British bridgehead has now been totally eliminated by the 271st Infantry.

The RAF mount photo-recce runs over the battlefield for future Ian Daglish books.

A Boston passes over Brieux just as the Tigers finally start to roll forward… and run into a screen of 17pdrs…

As it passes over Grimbosq, the German high-water mark can clearly be seen – the last panzer-grenadiers are battling the British for possession of the church, while both British and German tanks burn near the river.

A Boston in close-up.

Having remained largely idle for much of the day, the Tigers finally move forward, but suffer catastrophic losses to British anti-tank guns.

Having beaten off the British counter-attack, the 11th SS Panzer-Grenadier Company consolidates and expands its foothold in Brieux and prepares to attack that Churchill…

With British positions in Brieux finally identified, Siebken’s armour opens up on the hamlet.

The remnants of the 10th SS Panzer-Grenadier Company push forward from La Bogtierre as the Pzkpfw IVs engage in a duel with a Churchill.

The panzer-grenadiers finally take Grimbosq Church as the British survivors grimly hold their ‘Alamo’ position in the cemetery.

With serious casualties and lacking infantry support, there is little more the Panthers can do to push forward against the bridges. Nevertheless, a foolhardy Flakpanzer decides to have a go…

The other Flakpanzer wisely stays back at the Calvary.

As the Germans attempted to encircle Grimbosq with armour, a half-squadron of concealed British Churchills attempted to mount a counter-attack. The British tanks were quickly destroyed, but the Germans were halted by their sacrifice.

As the Staffords dig in among the graves and mausolea of Grimbosq cemetery, the German armoured thrust is annihilated on the banks of the Orne.

59th (Staffordshire) Division’s Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) breathes a huge sigh of relief and gets on with bridge-building…

West of Brieux, British reserve companies wait for the final German assault on the bridges.

As night falls, Siebken’s battlegroup consolidates its positions and waits for orders. Will they be renewing the attack at dawn?  Or will they be ordered to quietly slip away during the night…?

Well, we would never find out, as our Bovington weekend had come to an end! However, what was clear to all was that the Germans had shot their bolt. The 12th SS had almost run out of infantry and the Panther and Tiger companies had suffered heavy losses during their charge past Grimbosq, not least of which was the loss of their CO!

The raw 271st Infantry Division had done remarkably well against the Norfolks, though had run out of steam and were faced with fresh British infantry companies dug in around the bridges. The result would probably have been the same as the historical one – some continued skirmishing during the following morning, followed by a general withdrawal to Falaise by the 12th SS.

Thanks to all who played and especially to Richard and Paddy for putting on the game. Richard’s take on the scenario can be found here:

http://www.fireandfury.com/conventions/grimbosqaar.pdf

[Edited to add]

Here’s a link to my tour of the Grimbosq Battlefiend that I took in 2012:

http://www.fireandfury.com/conventions/grimbosqtour.pdf

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Normandy 1944, Scenarios, World War 2 | 5 Comments

Fishguard 1797: The Further Adventures of The Black Legion

As discussed in the first part of this series, the Last Invasion of Britain occurred on 22nd February 1797, when some 1,200-1,400 men of La Seconde Légion des Francs, known as La Légion Noire (‘The Black Legion’), under the command of the Irish-American Chef de Brigade William S Tate, landed near Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, on the western tip of Wales.  The invasion caused widespread fear and panic across the entire country, even causing a run on the Bank of England!  Nevertheless, a swift response by local Yeomanry, Militia, Naval, Customs Service and Volunteer Infantry forces (as well as armed civilians, including the Welsh Warrior Women of legend), allied to masterful bluff on the part of Lord Cawdor (the British commanding officer), led to the French surrender on 24th February, followed by the ceremonial laying-down of arms on the 25th.

However, the historical sequence of events as described in Part 1 could so easily have followed several different paths – none of them good for the British.

The French had clearly hoped to foment insurrection and revolution in Wales and came with 1,900 extra sets of arms and equipment with which to equip local volunteers.  However, the planned-for revolution never materialised.  This was despite North Pembrokeshire being one of the poorest areas in Britain, where corn-riots were commonplace and where non-conformist religion (particularly the Welsh Baptist movement) challenged the authority of Church & State.  The desire for revolution was probably suppressed due to a combination of ingrained fear of the French caused by centuries of propaganda and war, fear of reprisal by the ruling and land-owning classes and the British State, and finally, fear of the invaders themselves, who did themselves no favours by resorting to robbery, murder and rape as soon as they had landed.

The swift reaction by the local Militia, Yeomanry, Naval and Volunteer forces also undoubtedly helped convince the locals that the invasion was going to be defeated.  Patriotism also unquestionably played a large part; the general attitude seems to have been that as bad as things were in West Wales, the French still had no right interfering!  However, within a generation or two, the same part of the country suffered near-constant rioting, culminating in the insurrection of the ‘Rebecca Riots’ of the 1830s & 40s.

If we suspend disbelief for a moment and consider what might have happened for the want of a good meal and some decent troops, we can see that the British Army was desperately thin on the ground in western Britain.  There were hardly any regular troops present and they were on ‘peacetime’ manning, which was roughly half-strength of wartime manning (i.e. around 370 men in an infantry battalion instead of 800 men).  Even the units on active service in Ireland seem to have been at half-strength!

Aside from the Cardiganshire Militia, ALL Welsh Militia regiments were deployed to eastern or northern England and aside from the Bristol Garrison, those units marching to Fishguard were doing so under their own initiative and were doing so in piecemeal fashion.  There was little attempt to coordinate a response or to concentrate an army to meet the invasion and do so would probably have taken weeks, during which time the Black Legion would have been rampaging across Wales and possibly fomenting insurrection.

While we’re some way off creating a fully-fledged wargames campaign for the post-Fishguard ‘March of the Black Legion’, here’s what we’ve been able to discover regarding the British troops that may have been brought to bear against the invaders.  As usual, the strengths and stats are based on those found in ‘British Grenadier’ wargames rules, at a ratio of 1:5, where one figure represents five men:

The Bristol & Severn Military District

General Rooke’s Bristol and Severn Military District is the largest formation that we have been able to identify as immediately reacting to the Fishguard landings. General Rooke was certainly the most senior officer known to have responded and would have taken command of the immediate aftermath of a British defeat at Fishguard. In fact, he arrived from Bristol only two days after the French surrender and did indeed assume command of the ‘clean-up’ operations.

However, General Rooke died shortly afterwards – an event that might have caused havoc, had it happened mid-campaign against a resurgent French invasion and Welsh insurrection.

The Bristol Garrison and the local Volunteers had actually already been mobilised prior to the Fishguard landings, due to Castagnier’s fleet causing trouble off Ilfracombe. As soon as news was received of the French landings at Fishguard, General Rooke ordered the local Volunteers to assume responsibility for Bristol, while the garrison (Royal Bucks Militia and Suffolk Provisional Cavalry) and the 13th Foot (recently returned from the West Indies and stationed at Bath) embarked on ships for Tenby in Pembrokeshire. However, by the time they were embarked, news was then received of the French surrender and they were stood-down, though Rooke and his staff continued to Tenby and then to Fishguard.

Also present at Bristol was a Royal Navy frigate squadron under the command of Commodore, Sir Edward Pellew and this gives us an excellent opportunity to include Pellew’s fictitious sidekick, Horatio Hornblower (and friends)…

Headquarters

C-in-C: Lieutenant General James Rooke, GOC Bristol Garrison & Severn District [Average]

ADC: Captain, Lord Edward Somerset (15th (King’s) Light Dragoons)
ADC: Captain-Adjutant T Stanhope Badcock (Royal Buckinghamshire (The King’s Own) Militia)

Royal Navy Contingent – Commodore, Sir Edward Pellew [Excellent]
Marine Detachment – Major William Edrington                                             12 Figures     Line
Royal Navy Crews – Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower                                     20 Figures    Line
Royal Navy Skirmishers – Lieutenant William Bush                                       6 Figures      Line
Royal Navy Guns (9 pdrs) – Lieutenant Archie Kennedy                               2 Guns           Line

Bristol Garrison – Colonel George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, The Marquess of Buckingham (Royal Buckinghamshire (The King’s Own) Militia) [Poor]

Directly Under The Marquis of Buckingham’s Command
Suffolk Provisional Cavalry – Lieutenant-Colonel John Bourland               9 Figures  Militia

Royal Buckinghamshire (The King’s Own) Militia – Lt Col Benjamin Way [Average]
Left Wing, Royal Bucks (King’s Own) Militia – Captain William Pigott      24 Figures 2nd Line
Right Wing, Royal Bucks (King’s Own) Militia – Major John E Fremantle 24 Figures 2nd Line
Flank Companies, Royal Bucks (KO) Militia – Captain William Loftin        12 Figures Line
Regimental Artillery Detachment (3-pounder)                                                  1 Gun     2nd Line

13th (1st Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot – Lt Col, The Hon. Charles Colville [Excellent]
Left Wing, 13th Foot – Major Edward Scott                                                       40 Figures   Line
Right Wing, 13th Foot – Major George Kinaird Dada                                      40 Figures   Line
Flank Companies, 13th Foot – Captain John Keane                                         20 Figures   Elite

The Suffolk Provisional Cavalry were part of a short-lived experiment in creating a mounted version of the county Militia regiments.  Gentlemen who owned more than ten horses were required to provide one man to the county Provisional Cavalry Regiment.  This proved deeply unpopular (even more so than the hated Militia Ballot) and the Provisional Cavalry Regiments remained under-manned and of very poor quality, with all six regiments being disbanded or converted to Fencible Cavalry Regiments in 1800 (the Suffolks were one of the regiments converted to Fencibles).

Cork Garrison

As discussed in the account of the Battle of Fishguard, Lord Milford sent a Revenue Service lugger Valiant to Cork, to seek military assistance from Admiral Kingsmill and the Cork Garrison.  Unfortunately, history does not record if any assistance was forthcoming, but they were potentially the closest major British military force to Fishguard.  It seems highly likely that Admiral Kingsmill would have sent assistance, but the French collapse was so rapid that the assistance was probably cancelled before it could be assembled.  However, in our alternate history, we need to look at what assistance would have been available in the event of a French victory at Fishguard.

The majority of the Cork garrison comprised loyalist Irish Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteer forces.  None of these would have been available, as they were prevented by law from deploying to mainland Britain.  There was a core of regular Royal Navy and Army units, as well as Scottish and Irish Fencibles which could have been sent to Wales, but it needs to be considered that there was an ongoing insurgency in Ireland that required their presence, as well as a constant threat of French naval action and invasion.  Indeed, the Cork Garrison had only recently returned from an expedition to oppose the threatened French landing at Bantry Bay, the previous December.

The primary response to the French invasion of Wales would probably have been a Royal Navy landing force of very similar composition to that actually employed at Fishguard or our hypothetical force for Commodore Pellew (above). However, any Army response would have been taken from one of these deployable units:

C-in-C Ireland: General Sir Ralph Abercromby
C-in-C Cork: Admiral, Sir Robert Brice Kingsmill

30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot – Lt Col Thomas Clarke
2nd Argyllshire Regiment of Fencible Infantry – Lt Col Henry Mord Clavering
1st Irish Regiment of Fencible Cavalry (‘Roden’s Dragoons’ or ‘Roden’s Foxhunters’) – Lord Jocelyn
2nd Irish Regiment of Fencible Cavalry – Lord Glentworth

We don’t have much information regarding the strength or quality of these units, but it is generally understood that the strength was still that of ‘peacetime’ units, so roughly 370-400 men for infantry regiments (organised into ten companies) and 100-2oo men for the cavalry (usually organised into four troops).

Other Troops

Carmarthenshire Yeomanry Cavalry – Major George Talbot, Lord Dynevor
Troop of Major George Talbot, Lord Dunevor             6 Figures Militia
Troop of Captain John George Phillips                         6 Figures Militia

This regiment managed to reach Fishguard in time to witness the French surrender on the 25th. It is probably their sky-blue jackets that are depicted in the famous painting of the surrender.

Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry
Dungleddy Troop – Major John Lloyd 6 Figures Militia

The actions of this troop (headquartered at Picton Castle near Haverfordwest) during the emergency is strangely unrecorded. Some officers of the troop certainly served as ADCs to Cawdor during the emergency, but the rest of the troop is curiously absent from all accounts, even though it was only a half-day’s march from Fishguard and far closer than Cawdor’s troop (it also did not have the obstacle of the Cleddau Estuary to cross). It is possible that the troop existed only ‘on paper’.

New Romney (Duke of York’s Own) Fencible Cavalry – Colonel Cholmeley Dering [Average]
Troop of Lt Col J W Head Brydges                                                                  9 Figures  2nd Line
Troop of Major Edward Barnard                                                                     9 Figures  2nd Line
Troop of Captain S Egerton Brydges                                                              9 Figures  2nd Line
Troop of Captain Edward Taylor                                                                     9 Figures  2nd Line

The New Romney Fencibles were very swift to respond. Based at the time in Worcester, they marched the 61 miles to Llandovery on the first day of their march and had reached Carmarthen when news of the surrender was received (Four troops were recorded by Captain Frederick Jones (an invalided East India Company officer) as passing through Brecon on 27th February 1797) .  They were later commended for their remarkably rapid response to the French invasion.  They then proceeded to Fishguard and took possession of the prisoners of war, escorting the senior officers back to London.

Legion of Towyn Volunteers
Infantry Company – Captain Edward Corbet                                              12 Figures  Militia
Light Dragoon Troop – Lieutenant Owen Owen                                         4 Figures   Militia
Artillery Detachment (2pdr ‘Butterfly’ Gun) – Ensign John Davies       1 Gun       Militia

Corbet’s Towyn Volunteers was a long-established unit that was very swift to respond. They had reached Aberaeron when news of the French surrender arrived. Captain Corbet paid for the Light Dragoons and artillery out of his own pocket and it is largely thanks to him that news of the invasion spread so quickly; We’ve included the Light Dragoons here, but in reality they were used as couriers to spread word of the invasion far and wide.

Brecknock Volunteer Infantry
Company of Captain Henry Allen                                                                   12 Figures     Militia

Based in Brecon, Captain Allen’s Volunteers had reached LLandovery by the time that news of the French surrender was received.

Tivy-Side Volunteer Infantry – Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lloyd, Lord of Cemaes [Average]
Company of Captain William Lewis                                                               12 Figures     Levy
Company of Captain William Owen Brigstocke                                           12 Figures     Levy
Company of Captain James Nathan Taylor                                                  12 Figures     Levy
Company of Captain Llewellyn Parry                                                             12 Figures     Militia

Like the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers, this unit did not exist prior to the French landing and was frantically raised in the days that followed. The four companies seem to have been raised at the towns of Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Lampeter.

Swansea Royal Volunteer Infantry – Major John Beavan [Average]
Company of Captain William Jones                                                              12 Figures     Militia
Company of Captain John Landeg                                                                12 Figures     Militia
Company of Captain-Lieutenant J W Mansfield                                        12 Figures     Militia

During the panic caused by Castagnier’s sortie into the Bristol Channel and bombardment of Ilfracombe, the Swansea Volunteers were called out to repel any landing. However, they were mistakenly sent to Rhosili Bay at the end of the Gower Peninsula (a half-day’s march west of Swansea) in reaction to a false invasion report, so wasted time in getting to Fishguard. Nevertheless, they were well on the way to Fishguard when news was received of the French surrender.

Staffordshire (The King’s Own) Militia – Colonel Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge [Excellent]
Left Wing, Staffordshire (King’s Own) Militia – Lt Col Walter Sneyd    24 Figures   2nd Line
Right Wing, Staffordshire (King’s Own) Militia – Major Edward Disbrowe 24 Figures   2nd Line
Flank Companies, Staffordshire Militia – Captain Rowland Mainwaring 12 Figures Line

The Staffordshire (The King’s Own) Militia were the King’s favourite Militia regiment, probably due to their renowned regimental band.  As a consequence, their usual posting was Windsor Castle.  However, we have been unable to discover where they were posted when they received the invasion alarm.  Nevertheless, the Staffordshire Militia were reported by Captain Frederick Jones to have passed through Brecon, en route to Fishguard, on 1st March 1797.  They returned that way on 14th March.

Colonel, Lord Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, was fully-titled Henry Bayly, Baronet Plas Newydd, Lord Paget and Earl of Uxbridge.  He also held the title of Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire and held the honorary Vice-Admiralcies for Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and North Wales.  He should not be confused with his much more famous son, Lord Henry William Paget, who succeeded his father as Earl of Uxbridge upon the former’s death in 1812 and became the Duke of Wellington’s cavalry commander and second-in-command at Waterloo in 1815, famously losing his leg in that battle and later becoming Marquis of Anglesey.

Anglesey Militia – Major George Arthur Paget
Company of Captain William Lewis Hughes 16 figures 2nd Line
Company of Lieutenant Bodychan Sparrow 16 figures 2nd Line

The Anglesey Militia was stationed at this time in Liverpoool. Note that the Commanding Officer was the son of Lord Uxbridge and was the younger brother of the Uxbridge of Waterloo fame.

Oswestry Yeomanry Cavalry (Oswestry Rangers)
Troop of Captain William Owen                                                                       6 Figures       Militia

Gloucestershire Yeomanry Cavalry – Major Powell Snell
Troop of Captain Richard Hippersely                                                             6 Figures       Militia
Troop of Captain Humphrey Austen                                                               6 Figures       Militia
Troop of Captain Robert Morris                                                                       6 Figures       Militia

Herefordshire Yeomanry Cavalry
Troop of Captain, The Right Honourable Thomas Harley                          6 Figures       Militia
Troop of Captain, Sir George Cornewall, 2nd Baronet                                6 Figures       Militia

Wrexham Yeomanry Cavalry
Troop of Captain John Leache                                                                          6 Figures       Militia

Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry – Major, Hon. John Somers Cocks
Troop of Captain Thomas Spooner                                                                  9 Figures       Militia

Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry
Troop of Captain William Cludde                                                                    6 Figures       Militia

Flintshire Volunteer Infantry
Company of Captain Edward Ommaney Wrench                                        16 Figures     Militia

Merthyr Tydfil Volunteers – Mr Richard Crawshay
1st Company                                                                                                        30 figures       Levy
2nd Company                                                                                                      30 figures       Levy
3rd Company                                                                                                       30 figures       Levy

Mr Richard Crawshay, owner of the Merthyr Tydfil Ironworks, ‘volunteered’ around 1,000 of his workers to form an unofficial militia, who were largely armed with pikes made from pike-heads and bayonets manufactured by his company. However, it is not clear how this large force was meant to be led, fed and supplied, not to mention how much enthusiasm his workers had for being conscripted, so one wonders how far the Merthyr Volunteers would have got! In the event, news of the French surrender was received before this mighty army left Merthyr.  Nevertheless, the story of the Merthyr Volunteers is probably typical of dozens of similar unofficial militias who set out for Fishguard but went unrecorded.

Notes

1. Note that in most cases, the list of officers for each regiment is known, but not the exact allocation within the regiment.  Consequently, we’ve allocated officers to sub-units within their regiments for ‘local colour’.  Note that Militia, Yeomanry, Fencible and Volunteer regiments frequently had a plethora of senior ranks that far outweighed the size and importance of the regiment!  The New Romney Fencible Cavalry for example, had only four troops, but was officered by a full Colonel, a Lieutenant-Colonel, a Major, four Captains, five Lieutenants and six Cornets!

2. The Flank Companies (or portions thereof) of the Militia, 13th Foot, 30th Foot and Argyllshire Fencibles may skirmish, as may the Royal Navy Skirmishers, Marines, Brecon Volunteers, Flintshire Volunteers and up to one company of the Swansea Volunteers and/or Tivyside Volunteers.

3. The Towyn Volunteer Legion had acquired its 2pdr to assist with riot-control; something it was rather effective at!  However, it was rather ancient and if it rolls a double-one, it will blow up.  This actually happened during a gun drill later in 1797.  This will inflict a ‘Risk to General’ on any officer attached to the gun and will also invoke a Brigade Morale Test.

4. The Marines, 13th Foot , 30th Foot, Fencibles and Militia are the only regiments to gain the +1 ‘British in Line’ bonuses for firing and mêlée.

5. Royal Navy crews fighting as infantry may deploy in Open Order.

6. Curiously, both the Staffordshire and Royal Buckinghamshire Militia held the title ‘The King’s Own’.

Uniforms, Modelling & Painting

Carmarthenshire Yeomanry

Carmarthenshire Yeomanry Officer’s Dolman

Carmarthen Town Museum has rather attractive surviving uniforms from the Carmarthenshire Yeomanry (of an officer and a trumpeter), which makes research somewhat easier than for most other regiments in this campaign. Dolmans were ‘French Grey’ (a mix of blue and white fibres more akin to sky-blue and typically worn by Light Dragoon regiments posted to tropical climes), with red collar and cuffs, with white lace and cords. Officers’ lace was silver. All other details of headgear, equipment, etc were as for the Pembroke Yeomanry.

Carmarthenshire Yeomanry Trumpeter’s Dolman

Carmarthenshire Yeomanry Trumpeters had white dolmans with French Grey (sky-blue) collar and cuffs and mixed white/crimson cords across the chest and around the collar and cuffs. French Grey shoulder-wings were worn which were strangely rectangular rather than the usual crescent-shape, with white lace and white/crimson striped fringed edging. There were four strips of silver lace, edged white and crimson, running down each sleeve, with two inverted lace chevrons at the elbow and another just above the cuff. The chevrons each had a crimson/white striped fringed lower edge. Trumpet cords were mixed sky blue & yellow.

13th (1st Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot

The 13th Foot had yellow facings, with square-ended lace loops arranged in pairs. Lace was white, with a thin, straight red stripe. Officers had silver metalwork and lace.

As the new single-breasted, Austrian-style coat was only just coming into Regular Army service during 1797, it is certain that the regiment was still wearing the old, cutaway-fronted 1768 Pattern coat in February 1797, though modified with standing collars, rather than the original folded-down collars. It was also usual by this period to hook the lapels together, so that they appeared to meet across the chest. The eight Centre Companies wore woollen ‘tufts’ at the ends of their shoulder-straps, while the Light and Grenadier Companies wore fringed ‘wings’. Breeches and waistcoats were white, though the Light Company would have worn red waistcoats. Belts were pipe-clayed white, though the Light Company may have worn black belts.

The 13th Foot had been issued with round-hats for its earlier service in the Caribbean and did so again in Egypt, but would presumably have been issued with home-service regulation cocked-hats upon its return from the Tropics in 1795. The 1796 Pattern cocked-hat was slightly larger than the earlier 1768 Pattern and had white pull-cords and tassel at the right-hand corner. The hats were plain black and no longer had the lace edging of earlier fashions. Cut-feather plumes were worn by SNCOs and officers, which were white-over-red for the Centre Companies, white for the Grenadier Company and green for the Light Company. Some regiments also issued the rank-and-file with woollen hackles in the same colours, while others even issued feather plumes to all ranks. However, round-hats (with or without bearskin crests and plumes) were very fashionable among officers of the period, even if they weren’t regulation issue for home service. Bearskin caps were still retained by the Grenadiers for full-dress. Some regiments of the period also issued their Light and Grenadier Companies with round-hats, often crested with bear-skin in a manner similar to the Light Dragoon ‘Tarleton’ helmet. Some even issued their Light Companies with Tarleton helmets or the old Light Infantry Cap. Unfortunately we have as yet been unable to identify the exact details of headgear for the 13th Foot. Shakos were not issued until 1800.

One recorded uniform oddity for the 13th Foot is that the NCOs were authorised to wear their sashes over the shoulder, in the old style of officers that was only still practiced by Highland regiments in the 1790s, in commemoration of the Battle of Culloden, where all the officers were dead or wounded and the NCOs led the regiment.

This plate of the 61st Foot in 1792 shows the typical uniform of the British Infantry during the 1790s, until the introduction of closed-fronted jackets in 1797.  This uniform is essentially identical to that of the 13th Foot.  However, the cocked hat became rather larger (and plumed) in 1794.

30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot

The general uniform details described above for the 13th Foot would also have applied to the 30th Foot.  The regiment had pale yellow facings, with singly-spaced bastion-shaped lace loops and silver officers’ metalwork.

Part of the regiment was serving as marines and fought at Cape St Vincent in 1797, though the main part of the regiment was based at Bandon in Ireland, under command of the Cork Garrison.

Scottish Fencibles of the 1790s

2nd Argyllshire Fencible Infantry

These wore standard Highland dress uniform, which at this time was essentially indistinguishable from that worn during the American War of Independence, except that the collars were now upright. Headgear was the blue Highland Bonnet with a ‘diced’ band and black ostrich-feathers. Facings for this regiment were yellow and the regimental tartan was the standard Government (‘Black Watch’) sett, worn with a white ‘purse’ (i.e. sporran). In the field, men could sometimes wear (typically white) overall trousers. Close-fitting trousers and Tarleton helmets were popular items for officers.

 

Royal Buckinghamshire (The King’s Own) Militia

In 1793 the Buckinghamshire Militia had a rather ornate uniform of red coats with yellow cuffs, lapels and falling collars, which were edged in a strip of lace rather than with the usual lace buttonhole loops. Turn-backs were white. Officers’ metalwork was silver. Centre Companies had bicornes with red-over-white plumes (red-over-white-over-red for Sergeant-Majors), as well as elite company-style wings which only had lace around the edges. Breeches and waistcoats were white, while belts were pipe-clayed white. Black gaiters were worn, which came up to just beneath the knee.

The Grenadier Company had unusual short, black leather mitre caps (rather like earlier light infantry caps), which had fur at the back. The mitre front was edged with a double row of brass strip. Officers appear to have worn regulation fur grenadier caps. A red feather plume was worn on the left side. The grenadiers’ wings were edged in lace, with a red & white fringed lower edge, with an unusual design of three connected, circular lace loops (like ‘ooo’, but touching each other) in the centre of the wing. To complete the grenadier ensemble, a brass match-case was worn on the breast of the pouch belt.

We have been unable to discover a description or painting of Light Company uniform, though if a Light Company existed its uniform probably conformed to the usual pattern of lace shoulder-wings, red waistcoats, black leather belts and some sort of light infantry cap or round-hat with green plume.

Drummers wore the same red coats as the rank-and-file, though with yellow wings, edged white and with a white fringed lower edge. Four downward-pointing, white-edged yellow chevrons were worn on each sleeve. There were no connecting strips of lace down the arm seams. Drummers’ headgear was a short, fusilier-style fur cap with a yellow turban and a red-over-white plume on the left side. The Drum Major wore a heavily-laced coat in reversed colours, with either a fur grenadier cap, or a silver-laced bicorne with a red or white egret-feather edge.

Most unusually, the Buckinghamshire Militia in 1793 also had a band composed of black Africans or West Indians. Their bizarre uniform comprised a short-sleeved, short yellow jacket with red collar, cuffs and wings, with red & white lace, worn over a white, long-sleeved waistcoat, white gaiter-trousers and red ankle-boots. Headgear was either a white turban with yellow-over-black (one source says black-over-yellow) plume, or a black, peakless stovepipe cap with yellow headband, silver cords and a large silver, semi-circular plate on the front.

The Buckinghamshire Militia was conferred ‘Royal’ status at some point between 1793 and 1797 and should therefore have changed to the ‘Royal format of dark blue facings with gold officers’ metalwork. However, in 1815 the artist Hamilton Smith depicted the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia with blue facings and square-ended lace buttonholes arranged in pairs. The officers had silver metalwork and lace. This regiment clearly did not conform to the regulations! The Royal Buckinghamshire Militia might therefore have been wearing either uniform in 1797, or maybe even a third, unrecorded uniform? The Pembrokeshire Militia had no fewer than four uniform changes during the same period.

The regiment definitely carried colours, as is proved by a painting of an officer carrying the Regimental Colour of the regiment. The colour conforms to the regulation pattern, being of the facing colour, with a small Union Flag in the canton. The central device for the colours of most Militia regiments was the Arms of the Lord Lieutenant for the county and the Buckinghamshire Militia seem to have followed suit, as the central device on the Regimental Colour is a heraldic escutcheon. The Lord Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire at this time was George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham. The central device was surrounded by the regulation ‘Union Wreath’ of roses and thistles.

A series of drawings of the Buckinghamshire Militia made in 1793 show a Battalion gun-crew from the regiment going through gun-drills. The gun was a 3-pounder and the crewmen were depicted wearing standard Buckinghamshire Militia Centre Company uniform, though their instructor belonged to the Royal Artillery and wore the Royal Artillery uniform of blue coat, faced red and laced yellow, with a round-hat.

Needless to say, finding figures to exactly replicate this regiment is going to be difficult. Foundry British Infantry in 1768 Pattern uniform for the American War of Independence are probably the closest match.

Staffordshire (The King’s Own) Militia

The Staffordshire Militia wore regulation red coats with yellow lapels, cuffs and standing collars. The regiment’s coats did not have lace decoration. Officers’ metalwork was silver. Turn-backs were white. Small-clothes were white, though it is probable that the Light Company had red waistcoats. Belts were pipe-clayed white.

The Centre Companies had cocked-hats without lace. Given their high-status posting at Windsor Castle, they may have been issued with the larger, 1796 Pattern hat (shown in an officer’s portrait from 1797). A painting from 1800 shows officers and NCOs wearing white-over-red cut-feather plumes. It is not known if the rank-and-file had any hat decoration.

The Grenadier Company was issued with bearskins. A painting from 1804 shows these to be decorated with brass front-plates, white cords and a white plume worn on the left-side. However, it is not possible to tell if these decorations were worn in 1797. The Grenadiers had lace shoulder-wings.

We have been unable to discover a description or painting of Light Company uniform, though if a Light Company existed its uniform probably conformed to the usual pattern of lace shoulder-wings, red waistcoats, black leather belts and some sort of light infantry cap or round-hat with green plume.

Musicians wore ‘reversed colours’ of yellow coats with red lapels, cuffs, turn-backs and standing collars. The only lace decoration was on the (red) shoulder-wings. Hat-plumes were yellow, though the drum-major had a red plume.

Regimental colours were probably of the regulation pattern. Most known Militia colours of the period were decorated with the arms of the county’s Lord Lieutenant, which in this case was Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford.

To model this regiment, we would opt for Redoubt British Infantry in Bicorne from their ‘Wellington in India’ range, or maybe Foundry AWI British Infantry.

Anglesey Militia

Red coats with dark blue facings and square-ended buttonhole lace loops arranged in pairs. Officers’ metal colour is not recorded. Hamilton describes the regiment as wearing ‘light infantry caps’, though Owen records cocked hats.

The King’s Colour was the usual Union Flag design, with a central wreath surrounding the regimental title. The Regimental Colour was of dark blue silk, with the Union Flag in the canton. As with all other recorded Welsh Militia regiments, the central device on the Regimental Colour during this period was the arms of the Lord Lieutenant, who at this time was Henry Bayly Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge.

New Romney (Duke of York’s Own) Fencible Cavalry

Unfortunately, our research has so far been unable to turn up any exact uniform details for the New Romney Fencible Cavalry, but generally the Fencible Cavalry had light dragoon–style uniforms – either in the early 1790s style of light dragoon coatee, with a cutaway front and criss-cross lace on the breast, or in the more modern style, with dolman.

Coats/dolmans/jackets were mostly red, though some regiments wore blue. In most cases, Fencible Cavalry dolmans/jackets seem to have lacked the usual hussar braid (probably as a war economy measure). Dolmans/jackets without braid retained the three vertical rows or buttons and would sometimes have a rectangular ‘frame’ of lace strip around the breast. In all cases, all ranks seem to have worn chain wings at the shoulders. Some of the regiments that fought in Ireland were later allowed to wear the blue dolman of the regular Light Dragoons. The New Romney Fencibles did go to Ireland in 1798, but had not done so by 1797.

We have not found any descriptions or illustrations of Fencible horse-furniture and all paintings/engravings/sketches of mounted subjects show simple saddles without even a blanket, let alone a shabraque. It is entirely possible that shabraques were simply not issued; this would be entirely in keeping with the war austerity measures being implemented at the time. Regular British cavalry of the period certainly did not use shabraques in the field and there is no reason to suppose that their Fencible and Yeomanry comrades did things any differently.

Pictured here are some example Fencible uniforms from the late 1790s: 1. An officer of the Hampshire Fencible Cavalry in blue, unbraided jacket. 2. An officer of the Cinque Ports Fencible Cavalry (close neighbours of the New Romney Fencibles) in red braided dolman, with a blue (privately-purchased and non-regulation), fur-lined pelisse. 3. An officer of an unidentified regiment in plain red jacket. 4. A Quartermaster of the Pembrokeshire Fencible Cavalry in full dress (note the lace ‘frame’ around the breast-braid – some regiments retained the ‘frame’ even when they deleted the braid).

Perry and Front Rank British Light Dragoons in Tarleton helmet are a perfect match for Fencibles in the full, Braided dolman. However, we are unaware of any currently-available figures that are suitable for Fencible, Provisional or Yeomanry Cavalry in unbraided jackets.

1st Irish Fencible Cavalry

(Also known as ‘Roden’s Dragoons’ or ‘Roden’s Foxhunters’)

These wore standard dark blue Light Dragoon uniforms with Tarleton helmets, ‘hussar-braid’ and white breeches. Facings were recorded as white, but some surviving items show pale buff (though this might be due to age). The button/braid colour is not known.

2nd Irish Fencible Cavalry

These wore standard dark blue Light Dragoon uniforms with Tarleton helmets, ‘hussar-braid’ and white breeches. Facings were yellow, which was also repeated on the ‘turban’ of the Tarleton helmet.  The button/braid colour is not known.

Suffolk Provisional Cavalry

We’ve been able to find nothing about the uniform of the Suffolk Provisional Cavalry or their successors, the Suffolk Fencible Cavalry.

It seems most likely that like the Fencibles, they wore a version of the Light Dragoon uniform, with Tarleton helmet and red light dragoon coatee or dolman jacket – probably without hussar braid. The only reference to Provisional Cavalry uniform that we have found is the National Army Museum exhibit of a single Tarleton helmet, belonging to an officer of the Lancashire Provisional Cavalry. This does at least confirm that Provisional Cavalry wore these items.

As with the Fencibles, Front Rank or Perry British Light Dragoons are a good match for cavalry in full, braided dolman. However, we are unaware of any currently-available figures that are suitable for Fencible/Provisional/Yeomanry Cavalry in unbraided jackets.

Worcestershire Yeomanry

The Worcester Yeomanry wore fully-braided red jackets with black facings.  Officers had gold braid and shoulder-wings, while other ranks had white braid with brass buttons.  Tarleton helmets were worn with black turbans, white-over-red plume and brass fittings.  Officers had helmets with leopard-skin turbans.

Gloucestershire Yeomanry

The only reference we can find to the uniform of the Gloucestershire Yeomanry of the period is a paragraph regarding the formation of the first (Cheltenham) troop in 1794:

“… The uniform chosen for the troop was practically the same as that worn by the regular light dragoons of the period, and consisted of a blue jacket with white braid, white leather breeches, half boots, sash and belt, black leather helmet with red and white feather at the side.”

The Volunteer Infantry Corps

The uniforms of the Brecknock Volunteers, Tivy-Side Volunteers, Swansea Volunteers, Flintshire Volunteers and Towyn Volunteer Legion are not known.  However the Towyn Volunteer uniforms are basically described as being ‘red and blue’; this might mean red coats with blue facings, or blue coats with red facings or red coats for the infantry and blue coats for the artillery and dragoon sections, etc, etc.

Fishguard 1797 Bibliography

Yeomanry Wars: The History of the Yeomanry, Volunteer & Volunteer Association Cavalry – A Civilian Tradition from 1794 – Peter Athawes

British Army Officers Who Served in the American Revolution 1775-1783 – Steven M Baule & Stephen Gilbert

British Regiments and the Men Who Led Them (Article) – Steve Brown

The Last Invasion: The Story of the French Landing in Wales – Phil Carradice

The Last Invasion: Fishguard 1797 (Article) – Dr David Chandler

French Revolutionary Infantry 1789-1802 – Terry Crowdy

Historique Abrege des Campagnes du 61ème Régiment d’Infanterie – Emile Espérandieu

A Historical Tour Through Pembrokeshire – Richard Fenton

Les Soldats de la Revolution Française – Liliane & Fred Funcken

Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars 1789-1802 – P Haythornthwaite & C Warner

The Pembroke Yeomanry – Lieutenant Colonel R L Howell MBE TD DL

The Pembroke Yeomanry Story (Article) – John Ingledew

Pembrokeshire Folk Tales – Brian John

Fishguard Fiasco: An Account of the Last Invasion of Britain – John S Kinross

The Battle of Fishguard: The Last Invasion of Great Britain (Article) – Jon Latimer

The Last Invasion of Britain – Commander E H Stuart Jones RN

The History of Little England Beyond Wales – Edward Laws

A History of the Uniforms of the British Army (Vols. 3, 4 & 5) – Cecil C P Lawson

Fastes de la Légion d’Honneur &c (Vol. 5) – Lievyns, Verdot & Bégat

The Forgotten Army: Fencible Regiments of Great Britain 1793-1816 (Article) – Ron McGuigan

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol.1: Anglesey & Caernarfonshire – Bryn Owen

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol.2: The Glamorganshire Regiments of Militia (Part 1) – Bryn Owen

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol. 3: Glamorgan (Part 2) – Volunteers & Local Militia 1796-1816 and Yeomanry Cavalry 1808-1831 – Bryn Owen

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol. 4: Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire & Cardiganshire (Part 1) – Regiments of Militia – Bryn Owen

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol 5: Denbighshire and Flintshire Regiments of Militia (Part 1) – Bryn Owen

A History of the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps 1757-1908 Vol 6: The Montgomeryshire Regiments of Militia, Volunteers & Yeomanry Cavalry – Bryn Owen

Merioneth Volunteers and Local Militia During The Napoleonic Wars (1795-1816) – Hugh J Owen

Armies of the Irish Rebellion 1798 – Stuart Reid

Histoire de l’Armée et de Tous Les Régiments &c (Vol. 3) – Pascal, Le Comte, Brahaut & Sicard

A Military History of Bristol during The Revolutionary War 1793-1802 (Article) – John Penny

History of the Pembroke Yeomanry – Major General Pugh

Command of the Ocean – N A M Rodgers

The Descent of the French on Pembrokeshire – David Salmon

Kings Cutters: The Revenue Service and the War against Smuggling – Graham Smith

Britain’s Last Invasion: Fishguard 1797 – Professor J E ‘Teddy’ Thomas

1796-1798 : Trois Tentatives d’Invasion Françaises en Irlande (Article) – Dr Gabriel Vital-Durand

The List of Officers of Militia, Yeomanry & Volunteers &c, 22nd April 1797 – War Office Publication

An Authentic Account of the Invasion by the French Troops on Cerrig Gwastad Point, Near Fishguard, on Wednesday 22nd February 1797, and Their Surrender to the Forces of His Britannic Majesty on Goodwick Sands on Friday 24th February – H L Williams

The Yeomanry Cavalry of Gloucestershire and Monmouth – W H Wyndham Quin

Other Sources

Fishguard Invasion Commemorative Map, 20th March 1797

Fishguard Invasion Centenary Map of 1897

The Bryn Owen Papers – Sadly Bryn Owen passed away before he complete his master-work on the Welsh Militia & Volunteer Corps and he was never able to publish the critical book which would have covered the Yeomanry and Volunteer regiments of Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.  However, the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth retains his research papers and notes for the unpublished volumes.

Uniforms of the Fishguard Invasion – Plate by Rick Scollins, published in Military Modelling Magazine

New York Public Library Digital Gallery – Plates of British 1790s Yeomanry & Volunteer regiments (unfortunately this collection does not include Welsh regiments, but it does give an excellent overall impression of British volunteer uniforms of the period)

Pembroke Yeomanry Homepagewww.pembrokeyeomanry.org.uk

The Pembrokeshire Museum Service Uniform Collection

Carnet de la Sabretache – French military history review

The Pembroke Yeomanry Collection

The Fishguard Invasion Tapestry

The Carmarthenshire Museum Service Uniform Collection

The Records of the Legion of Towyn Volunteers

The Diary of James Jones of the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers

The Diary of Captain Frederick Jones of Brecon

Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry Living History – www.worcesteryeomanrycavalry.org.uk

 

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank:

‘Eclaireur’ for his encouragement and advice in this project.

Brendan Morrissey for his additional research into the British officers present at Fishguard who had fought in the American War of Independence.

Steven H Smith for researching the French sources regarding La Légion Noire/Rouge and for providing additional information on the Yeomanry, Volunteer, Fencible and Militia regiments.

 Catriona Hilditch of the Pembrokeshire Museum Service, for her kind assistance in finding uniform information for the Pembrokeshire Volunteer, Militia and Yeomanry regiments and for allowing us access to the museum service’s store-rooms.

Alex Hancock of the Pembrokeshire Museum Service, for her patience and help in rummaging for obscure bits of old uniforms while having to put up with the authors’ ‘interesting’ points of interest at each ‘exciting’ new find…  She deserves to keep the Military Cross we found…

Major Martin James of 224 (Pembroke Yeomanry) Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps (Volunteers) for his help and advice.

Martyn Jones for his kind loan of the 1897 Invasion Centenary Map.

Martin Everett, curator of the Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh Regiment, for his assistance in researching the Volunteer corps.

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Fishguard 1797 Scenario No.2: The French Attack 23-25 February

Our second hypothetical scenario again deals with a what-if; What if the French decided to attack Fishguard?  There are several scenario options to consider here:

Scenario No.2a: What if Knox decided to stand his ground (23 February)?

This scenario option assumes that Knox took the decision to defend Fishguard instead of retiring toward Haverfordwest to meet reinforcements.  Instead of holding position on the 23rd, the French decide to attack this weak force. This scenario assumes that Scenario No.1 has not been played.

The French player deploys his forces anywhere within the French deployment area, as marked on the map.  The French objective is to drive all British forces from the town of Fishguard and then to hold it against counter-attack.  A Glorious Victory will be won if they can also capture Fishguard Fort.

The British player deploys Knox’s Fishguard & Newport Volunteers anywhere within the British deployment area.  To give Knox a fighting chance, you could also add the missing portion of his Newport Division (8 figures).  The fort is held by 4 additional figures (Militia), which represents the three professional Woolwich Gunners and the Volunteer gunners.

As additional balancing options to give Knox’s command a fighting chance, a unit of armed civilians (20 figures – Levy) could also be added to Knox’s force, representing the outraged citizenry of Fishguard.  The ‘Jemima Fawr’ and ‘Captain Nisbett’ random events could also be automatically added from the outset.

The scenario lasts for 20 turns or until Knox is driven from the field (the likelihood of Knox driving the French from the field is pretty remote!).

From Turn 10 onwards, the British player rolls a D6 at the start of each turn for Lord Cawdor’s relief column to arrive: Lord Cawdor’s force will arrive on a roll of ‘6’ on turn 12, with a cumulative +1 dice modifier being applied in each successive turn.

Cawdor’s forces will arrive in column on either of the two roads entering the left-hand edge of the table.  Alternatively, they may delay arrival by two turns and instead arrive deployed for battle anywhere along the table edge south of the French deployment area.

If Knox’s forces are destroyed or driven off before Lord Cawdor arrives, bring Lord Cawdor’s force on to table immediately, in order to continue the game.

Scenario No.2b: What if Lord Cawdor had been repulsed at Carnwnda (24-25 February)?

This scenario assumes that you have already played through Scenario No.1 and that Lord Cawdor’s forces have fallen back to defend Fishguard.  Buoyed up by their victory, the French now attempt to press home their advantage by attacking Fishguard on the 24th (or the 25th if you played through Scenario No.1, Part 2).

Deploy the British forces (minus casualties suffered in Scenario No.1) anywhere within the British deployment area as shown on the map.  Their objective is to gallantly hold Fishguard, in a last-ditch attempt to stop the French invasion.

The French player may deploy his forces (minus casualties suffered in Scenario No.1) anywhere within the French deployment area as shown on the map.

Any units that dispersed or routed off table in Scenario No.1 may be resurrected at the strength they were at when they ran off.

If the British player lost any naval guns during Scenario No.1, they will now be added to the French order of battle, along with their hay-cart transports.  The French player must re-allocate four infantry figures to crew each gun before the game commences.  The French player will also get to use any artillery that arrived as a random event during Scenario No.1.  No additional French will turn up!

If fighting the battle on 24 February, add a single unit of armed civilians (20 figures, Levy) to Lord Cawdor’s force (allocate to a commander or ADC).  If fighting the battle on 25 February, add 1 D6 armed civilian units to the British force and a single armed civilian unit to the French force (Welsh Republican sympathisers have come out of the woodwork, inspired by the French victory at Carnwnda).

During 24 February, at the start of each turn, the British player should roll a D6: On a roll of 6 the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will arrive in column at one of the western roads.

The French objective is to drive all British forces from the town of Fishguard and then to hold it against counter-attack.  A Glorious Victory will be won if they can also capture Fishguard Fort.

This scenario lasts 20 turns or until one side or the other concedes defeat.

Scenario No.2c: What if the French had decided to attack instead of surrender (24 February)?

This scenario assumes that the historical events were followed up until the morning of the 24th: Mr Nisbett discovered the ambush at Carnwnda and Lord Cawdor decided to withdraw to defensive positions at Fishguard without suffering losses.

This is the version to play if you are fighting this battle as a stand-alone game instead of the mini-campaign.

In our alternate reality, French morale is now restored by what they see as a British retreat in the face of their superior strength.  They’ve also somehow managed to find a meal from captured stores of food and by some miracle, discipline has been restored.  Tate now orders an attack on the British position at Fishguard on the morning of the 24th.

Once again, each side deploys within the designated areas shown on the map, but this time they had not suffered casualties, as the battle at Carnwnda never happened.  So just use the basic order of battle, though the British may add a single unit of armed civilians (20 figures, Levy).

At the start of each turn, the British player should roll a D6: On a roll of 6 the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will arrive in column at one of the western roads.

The French objective is to drive all British forces from the town of Fishguard and then to hold it against counter-attack.  A Glorious Victory will be won if they can also capture Fishguard Fort.

Again, the game lasts a maximum of 20 turns, or until one side concedes defeat.

General Notes for Scenario No.2

The table is roughly 6×8 feet when playing with 28mm figures.  However, if desired, the right-hand 2 feet of the table, including Fishguard Fort and Lower Town, may be ignored, leaving a 6×6-foot table.

In order to simplify the terrain, simply have two straight ridges facing each other across a valley.

Note that the coastline around the east and west headlands is high cliffs and completely impassable.  The ONLY way to get past Fishguard town to the Fort is to follow the road in column.

The Shingle Bank is just within range of the guns at Fishguard Fort.  However, the gunners there only have enough ammunition for one shot (at long range).  This could be treated as off-table fire if you decide to crop the table size down to 6 feet.

While the Fort held only three rounds of shot, it did have fifteen remaining powder charges, so if the fort is under threat, you could allow 2 D6 rounds of grapeshot (made up of stones, musket balls and other rubbish found in the fort).

Use the Random Events Tables as shown in Scenario No.1.

Terrain Effects

Rocks – The grey contours atop Carnwnda are very rocky.  These areas cost 1 DP for infantry to move through, and are totally impassable to cavalry and artillery.  They provide a -1 cover bonus against enemy firing and a +1 bonus when defending against mêlée.

Hedgerows – Pembrokeshire hedgerows are generally massive, embanked, rock-filled affairs, akin to the famous Normandy ‘Bocage’ but even worse (yes, really)!  Infantry suffer a 1 Disruption Point (DP) penalty when crossing them and move at half speed when doing so.  Cavalry suffer 2 DPs and again may only cross them at half-speed.  Artillery may not cross them at all.  They provide a -1 cover bonus against enemy firing and a +1 bonus when defending against mêlée (+2 against cavalry).

Shingle Bank – The shingle bank at Goodwick Sands is only passable by troops in column formation or skirmishing.

Marshland – The area behind the shingle bank at Goodwick Sands is marshland.  This area is impassable to cavalry and artillery, while infantry suffer 2 DPs and move at only half-speed.

Woodland – Areas of woodland give a 1 DP penalty to any troops passing through.

Stone Wall – The garden at Manorowen is surrounded by a very high stone wall.  This is passable only to infantry, costing 1 DP to do so.  The wall provides a -1 cover bonus against enemy firing and a +1 bonus when defending against mêlée (+2 against cavalry).

Streams – The streams are passable to all except artillery and cost 1 DP to do so.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the units known to be marching to Fishguard’s aid, but who didn’t make it to the battle, as well as some ideas for a ‘Further Adventures of the Black Legion’ campaign, should they manage to defeat Cawdor.

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Fishguard 1797 Scenario No.1: Ambush at Carnwnda, 23-24 February

This, the first of our hypothetical scenarios, starts with the historical situation of the evening of 23rd February: Lord Cawdor, determined to attack the enemy position at Carnwnda despite the gathering darkness, is rashly advancing in a straggling column, up the steep and narrow lane from Goodwick.  In reality, Captain Nisbett’s scouts sniffed out the ambush that the French grenadiers had set for them, allowing Cawdor to safely withdraw to Fishguard.  However, our scenario diverges from history as the French grenadiers successfully mount their ambush on the head of Cawdor’s column…

Scenario No.1 (Part 1): The French Ambush

Deploy the troops roughly as shown on the map.  The table should measure approximately 5×6 feet when using 28mm figures.  The French occupy the crown of Carnwnda, with ‘refused’ wings on either side.  Some companies may be held back as reserves – perhaps occupying Llanwnda village.  The grenadiers are deployed forward at the hedge-line and may form an independent formation commanded by one of the ADCs.

The British meanwhile, must be deployed in column of march along the narrow, hedged lane from Bwlch-y-Rhos to Carngowil, though skirmishers may be deployed out on the flanks, as shown on the map.  The order of march may be decided by the British player, though the Fishguard & Newport volunteers must be deployed at the rear of the column (except for the skirmishers, which may be deployed on the flanks of the column’s head) and the Royal Navy guns will be off-table at this stage.  Any troops that can’t be fitted onto the table will be brought on at the rear of the column when space allows.  The leading formed unit of the column MUST be deployed with the head of the column on the T-junction, immediately in front of the French grenadiers’ ambush and within close range of both grenadier companies.

The French will automatically have the initiative in this scenario, which effectively starts with the French Firing Phase, as the Grenadiers ambush the head of the column.

The orders of battle are as detailed in the recent articles on the French and British Forces at Fishguard.  However, the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will not be present at the start of this scenario and Henry Whiteside’s Solva & St David’s Volunteers may appear as a Random Event (see below).

The British player must roll a D6 to determine which unit is forming the head of the column:
1-3: Yeomanry
4-5: Cardiganshire Militia
6: Pembroke Volunteers

Neither side may declare charges in Turn 1.

The French Grenadiers will have an additional +1 bonus for firing at the head of the column in Turn 1.  This simulates the shock and surprise effect of the ambush, as well as a volley of grenades lobbed from behind the hedge.  The grenadiers will continue to have the Grenade special rules for the duration of the scenario, as detailed in the order of battle notes.

No long-range firing is permitted due to the gathering darkness and charges may only be declared on targets within 6 inches.

Part 1 of this scenario will end at the end of Turn 4.  Both sides will then withdraw to lick their wounds for the night.  The French Grenadiers will pull back to the safety of the main position at Carnwnda (though they may leave a skirmish line at the hedgerow), while the British will retire to Carngowil.

Scenario No.1 (Part 2): The British Attack

This part of the scenario assumes that Lord Cawdor, his pride hurt by the previous evening’s ambush, has not fallen back to Fishguard and is determined to carry out a deliberate, dawn attack on the Carnwnda position and drive the invaders into the sea, no matter the cost!  Alternatively, the British player may opt to retire to Fishguard, in which case go straight to Scenario No.2b.

The British player may deploy his forces, minus the previous evening’s casualties, anywhere south of line A-B, in any formation.  His objective is to destroy all enemy units or drive them off the slopes of Carnwnda and from Llanwnda village.  The naval guns have by now managed to negotiate the narrow lanes and are deployed, ready to fire.

At the start of each turn, the British player should roll a D6: On a roll of 6 the Loyal Haverfordwest Volunteers will arrive at Bwlch-y-Rhos.

The French are deployed as before on Carnwnda, minus the previous evening’s casualties.  However, the Grenadiers have been withdrawn to the main position.  A skirmish screen may remain in position along the hedge-line.  The French objective is to hold their ground at all costs and retain possession of the Carnwnda Heights and Llanwnda village.

Any units that were dispersed during the previous evening’s fighting may be returned to the table at 50% of their original strength.  Units that were routed off table may return at the strength they were at when they left the table.

Part 2 of the scenario lasts for 20 turns or until the British victory conditions have been met or until the British player concedes the field to the French player.  If the British player concedes or the end of Turn 20 is reached, all routing or retreating British units are immediately dispersed and the game progresses to Scenario No.2b: The French Attack.

Optional Random Events

If any unmodified double is rolled during a player’s Initiative roll, that player should roll again and refer to the tables below to see what happens next.  Each random event may only occur once.

Henry Whiteside’s Solva & St David’s Volunteers get stuck in!

French Random Events Table

Die Roll – Event

 1 – A stash of booze is discovered!  A French unit occupying a building will immediately suffer 3 DPs (these become casualties over 3 DPs).  If more than one unit is occupying a building, dice to see which is affected.  Ignore if no units are occupying buildings.

2 – A horse is captured!  Roll again: Evens means that poor Dobbin becomes Viande Chevaline, while Odds means that one lucky French officer (of the player’s choice) may move at normal mounted officer rate.

3 – The French grenadiers have run out of grenades and no longer gain that benefit.

4 – One skirmisher unit has been set upon by angry local civilians!  The unit suffers 1 DP or casualty.

5 – A local Baptist preacher and Republican sympathizer gives you information on the British strength and movements.  You automatically win the initiative for this turn.

6 – By a stroke of luck, your men have managed to recover 4pdr battalion guns from the boat which sank at Carregwastad.  Roll again: 1-4 = 1 gun and 5-6 = 2 guns.  The artillery arrive anywhere on the French table edge and must be manhandled forward.  If the artillery arrives on Day 1 it may start Day 2 deployed anywhere within the French deployment area.

British Random Events Table

Die Roll – Event

 1 – Lt Col Knox has fallen out with Lord Cawdor again!  His brigade immediately reverts to ‘Hold’ orders.  The British player may not attempt to change his orders again until the following turn.

2 – View Haloo!”  Proving their mettle as upper-class twits, the Yeomanry will launch a charge against the nearest enemy unit during the Charge Phase.  If no unit is within charge range, they will move a full move directly toward the nearest enemy.

3 – This is how we did it in America” – Thomas Nisbett’s skirmishers become 2nd Line and may roll one Skirmish die per two figures instead of one die per three figures.

4 – “Who will come with me to fight the French?!” – Henry Whiteside’s Solva and St Davids Volunteers appear as reinforcements.  They will arrive on the left-hand table edge in Scenario No.1 or on the French table edge in Scenario No.2.  If they arrive early in the campaign and survive, they may then be attached to Cawdor’s main army for the subsequent battles.

5 – The remaining 8 figures from the Newport Division of the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry arrive as reinforcements (at Bwlch-y-Rhos in Scenario No.1 or at Fishguard Fort in Scenario No.2).  They may be added to the strength of the Newport Division (when they reach its location) or may function as a separate skirmisher unit.

6 – ‘Jemima Fawr!’ – Jemima Nicholas will arrive on table at Bwlch-y-Rhos in Scenario No.1 or in the centre of Fishguard in Scenario No.2.  She will then move at skirmisher speed.  Upon contact with any French skirmisher unit, she will immediately take 1 full skirmisher base prisoner and will march them back to her starting location.  She will then return during the following turn to do it again!  Like a senior officer, she may not be directly targeted, though may fall victim to a Double-Six, as for officers.

 

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