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…
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.
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.