A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: Armour of the Fish Guards

Hello. This is Huw Puw, reporting once again for The Fish Guardian.

This week I’m reporting from the bustling metropolis of Fishguard; not so much ‘Land of My Fathers’, but more ‘Land of My Aunties’…

Regular readers will remember that in my last dispatch I was still assigned to the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, chasing fascists up hill and down ladies’ outfitters.  It was fun for a while, but frankly I needed a break from the endless death, destruction, cross-dressing and startled bleating from surprised sheep.

Imagine my relief then, when my editor replied to my request, “Stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, Puw!”  He clearly meant Fishguard, so I packed my bags and set off for home.  Ah, Fishguard, Fishguard; so good they named it er, ‘Fishguard’…  Yes, it’s a strange name.  Were Fishguard’s founding fathers guarding fish?  If so, from whom?  Or were the fish themselves the guards…?

The ‘White Eagle’ Flag of the FWA

I digress.  So, while heading for home, I passed through the village of Dinas, now turned into a military encampment by the Free Wales Army (FWA).  The men of the FWA’s senior regiment in the area, The Fish Guards, looked resplendent in their smart green uniforms, though their general demeanour seems to be of Blackshirts who’ve eaten a bit too much Cawl and whose shirts have turned green in the wash…  Strangest of all is their stylised ‘White Eagle’ symbol, emblazoned on their flags and armbands, which looks like a slightly limp asterisk.

I digress again.  One of the Fish Guards’ officers recognised me – he’d led the FWA platoon that fought alongside Cantref Cemaes’ 9th Regiment at Penclippin Farm.  After the inevitable moment where he clearly knows me, but I neither know nor care who he is (it happens a lot), he invited me to come and see the latest new wonder-weapons that would win the war for the FWA.

I could hardly contain my excitement…

Just as I got my camera out, an armoured column came rumbling along the road.  The FWA’s ‘Glyndwr’ Light Tank came first, which I’d seen before.  However, The FWA have clearly been taking notes during their attachment to the Army of Cantref Cemaes, as trundling along the road behind it came yet another wheeled and turreted armoured box – a design theme that seems universal to all armies in the current round of unpleasantness.  I pretended to look interested as the FWA officer told me that the excessive height was in order to enable it to fight over typical tall Pembrokeshire hedgerows…  Ingenious.

Based on a Thornycroft parcel van, the thing is called ‘Jemima Fawr’ (‘Big Jemima’) and is named for the Fishguard ‘heroine’ of 1797 (a feminine noun doesn’t really seem appropriate for that six-foot cobbler and pub bouncer who beat l’escargot out of twelve French soldiers single-handed).  Not to be confused with the Republic of Cantref Cemaes’ ‘Jemima’ Light Tank, which was named after a duck.

The dull, grey, mottled paint-scheme is, I presume, meant to reflect that dull, grey, mottled landscape (and indeed people) of the landscape around Fishguard.

The Jemima Fawr’s armament is apparently a Vickers machine gun in the front, with another machine gun in the turret, allied to a 4-INCH(??!!!) gun.  I think he must be exaggerating…  My Aunty Dilys tells me that it’s not uncommon for men to claim that they have four inches when they actually have two…

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing it fire it’s main armament – especially if they don’t tie it down and chock the wheels first…

However, the best was saved for last…  Being towed behind Jemima Fawr was the ‘Mabinogion’ Mk I Mobile Gun Emplacement.  This has been designed with the FWA’s fortress doctrine clearly in mind.  As is well known, the FWA at Fishguard has established a string of defensive positions from Wolf’s Castle to the Preseli Hills that they have named the ‘Mabinogion Line’.  However, they ran out of cash very quickly, so the ‘Line’ is more of a ‘Dotted Line’…

The Mabinogion Mobile Gun Position is therefore an ‘ingenious’ solution to the problem: If there isn’t a fortification in front of the enemy, you bring the fortification to him!


The Mabionogion has a single crewman, which I imagine makes it easier to identify bodies than in a tank and provides them with a handy, ready-to-deploy coffin.  The Mk I shown here is armed with a 37mm gun, which is apparently capable of penetrating even the toughest Blackshirt’s black shirt.  The Mk II is apparently armed with a machine gun.  I’m further told that the Mabinogion is based on a Danish design.  The Danes have apparently developed these in response to the growing threat from Herr Hitler’s Germany.  If they’re as good as the FWA claim, the Danes should have no trouble at all in repelling a German invasion…

This is Huw Puw, reporting from Fishguard for the Fish Guardian, signing off.


All the models shown are from the collection of my good (and much-abused) friend Martin Small.  The Jemima Fawr was converted by Martin from a plastic Thornycroft parcel van model (he didn’t tell me who made the original model).

The Mabinogion is completely scratch-built and really is based on an actual thing he saw in Copenhagen!

The Glyndwr was built by someone in eBayland.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Painted Units, VBCW - A Very British Civil War, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 4 Comments

“A Game of Two Halves”: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, 9th August 1862 (Fire & Fury 2nd Edition)

Last weekend we had another all-day gaming session at the Carmarthen Old Guard and Alan, Andy and I once again decided to do an American Civil War historical refight in 10mm with the superb Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules.  I’m still building up my armies, so the choice of historical scenarios is limited by what I can field, but the Battle of Cedar Mountain from the Fire & Fury 1st Edition ‘Great Eastern Battles’ scenario book fitted the bill.

On paper the Union Army at Cedar Mountain doesn’t look like it has the slightest chance of winning, as it’s outnumbered 2:1 and is attacking!  However, a lot of the Confederate Army starts the scenario detached or on the march and are exhausted following a long march in searing heat.  The Union Army meanwhile starts with a massive artillery superiority and the element of surprise…

The Battle of Cedar Mountain was the first major battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign (a.k.a. the Second Manassas or Second Bull Run Campaign) of 1862: With George McClellan’s Union Army of the Potomac bottled up in the Virginia Peninsula following his disastrous Peninsula Campaign, Robert E Lee decided to strike north towards Washington.  In the meantime, the Union had ordered John Pope’s Union Army of Virginia to strike south from Manassas, to threaten Richmond and thereby take the pressure off McClellan.  However, the Confederates were quicker off the mark and before Pope’s army could concentrate, Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s 24,000 men were already advancing north along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, driving back Pope’s cavalry picquets and making a bee-line for the huge Union depot at Manassas Junction.  The only Union force in position to oppose Jackson was Nathaniel Banks’ II Corps of the Army of Virginia, which was positioned south of the town of Culpepper Courthouse.

However, the weather was scorching and the Confederate troops suffered in the heat as they marched north.  The Confederate generals were also suffering, as Jackson was being characteristically secretive about his plans.  Consequently, as battle was joined along the Cedar Creek, an indecisive artillery duel commenced between Winder’s and Ewell’s Confederate Divisions and the Union II Corps while the confused Confederate commanders waited for detailed orders to come from Jackson.

However, Nathaniel Banks was about to seize the initiative in spectacular fashion: as the exhausted and bewildered Confederate troops settled into their new position, Crawford’s Union infantry brigade burst like a tidal wave upon Winder’s Division, rapidly rolling up the flank and forcing Jackson to draw his sword for the one and only time of his Confederate career as he tried desperately to rally his men.  It didn’t help matters that General Winder had also been killed by Union artillery during this moment of crisis.  All seemed lost, but then A.P. Hill’s ‘Light Division’ arrived and first halted, then drove the Union troops back.  Ewell’s divisional also came down from its dominant position on Cedar Mountain and drove into the Union flank.  Jackson had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but would our game repeat or change history…?

Order of Battle, II Corps of the Union Army of Virginia – Brigadier General Nathaniel P Banks (1 Corps Leader)

Williams’ Division (1 Leader)
Crawford’s Brigade (E): 12 bases [12/8/5, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Gordon’s Brigade: 13 bases [13/9/6, Veteran, Rifled Musket]

Auger’s Division (1 Leader)
Geary’s Brigade (E): 7 bases [7/6/4, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Prince’s Brigade: 9 bases [9/7/5, Green, Rifled Musket]
Greene’s Brigade (E): 4 bases [4/3/2, Veteran, Rifled Musket]

Cavalry Brigade
Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade: 8 bases [8/6/4, Experienced, Breech-Loaders]

II Corps Artillery Reserve
1st Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles]
2nd Battery [Crack, Napoleons]
3rd Battery [Crack, Heavy Rifles]
4th Battery [Experienced, Napoleons]
5th Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles]
6th Battery [Crack, Light Rifles]

Order of Battle, Left Wing of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia – Brigadier General Thomas J ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (1 (E) Corps Leader)

Ewell’s Division (1 (E) Leader)*
Early’s Brigade (E): 11 bases [11/10/8, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Forno’s Brigade*: 18 bases [18/14/9, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Trimble’s Brigade (E)*: 13 bases [13/10/7, Experienced, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery* [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]
2nd Battery* [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]
3rd Battery [Experienced, Napoleons]

Winder’s Division (1 Leader)
Ronald’s (Stonewall) Brigade: 7 bases [7/6/5, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Garnett’s Brigade: 6 bases [6/5/4, Green, Rifled Musket]
Taliaferro’s Brigade (E): 9 bases [9/8/7, Green, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles]
2nd Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Smoothbores]

A P Hill’s ‘Light’ Division (1 (E) Leader)
Branch’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/11/9, Experienced, Rifled Musket]
Archer’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/10/7, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Thomas’ Brigade: 13 bases [13/10/7, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Pender’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/10/7, Crack, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery† [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Smoothbores]
2nd Battery† [Veteran, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]

Scenario Notes

* The bulk of Ewell’s Division (except for Early’s Brigade) is positioned on Cedar Mountain and Ewell is reluctant to move off this key piece of terrain until the rest of Jackson’s force arrives and the Union positions are positively identified. These units will therefore remain in position until Turn 5 (1900hrs). Note that Early’s Brigade plus one battery has already been moved to reinforce Winder and may be moved as normal.

† The bulk of A.P. Hill’s Light Division will arrive as reinforcements on Turn 1, in March Column at Point A. The artillery batteries are at the back of the column. Note that Thomas’ Brigade is already on table.

Leaders marked with ‘(E)’ are Exceptional Leaders.

The Union army will be considered to have suffered Heavy Casualties once it has lost 18 troop or battery stands.

The Confederate army will be considered to have suffered Heavy Casualties once it has lost 37 troop or battery stands.

The scenario starts at with the Union 1740hrs turn and lasts for eight 20-minute turns, ending with the Confederate 2000hrs turn.

The last two turns (1940hrs and 2000hrs) are Twilight turns. Maximum visibility will be reduced to 48cm (24 inches in the standard rules) during the 1940hrs turn and then to 24cm (12 inches) during the 2000hrs turn.

Note that these unit ratings are drawn from the original 1st Edition ratings, with the 2nd Edition’s ‘Army Generator’ used to plug the knowledge-gaps.  Note that the morale ratings, especially for the Confederates are weighted downward due to the extreme heat that affected both sides, but especially the Confederates due to their hard march.  Units will therefore reach ‘Worn’ and ‘Spent’ state very quickly, so the players need to pay close attention to their unit labels and Victory Point objectives.

Each square on the map is one foot when playing at our reduced scale for 10mm figures.  20mm in our games is equivalent to a game ‘inch’ (i.e. reduced by 1/5th).  The table should be 6×5 feet when playing with normal Fire & Fury scales.

Special Rules

Crawford’s Charge

During Turn 1 only, Crawford’s Union Brigade may make a Double-Quick move in order to charge Garnett’s Confederate brigade. Crawford does not have to roll on the Manoeuvre Table for this turn only. Garnett has been taken completely by surprise and may not fire or claim the +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier for occupying woods.

Union Withdrawal

Union units may at any point in the game, exit the table at Point B. By doing so, they will not count as having Quit the Field for the purposes of Confederate Victory Point (VP) calculation (though withdrawn Worn and Spent units will still provide the Confederates with VPs as normal).

Victory Conditions

The winner is the side which has accumulated the most VPs by the end of Turn 8. VPs are earned at the following rate:

1 VP Each Worn enemy brigade.
1 VP Each wrecked or captured enemy battery.
1 VP Each killed, wounded or captured Corps or Division Leader or exceptional Brigade Commander.
2 VP Each Spent enemy brigade.
4 VP Each enemy brigade that quits the field or is destroyed.
2 VP (Union only) When one more unspent Union brigade occupies the Key Position, namely the crestline between X & Y, at the end of each Union turn.

The above list is taken from the original scenario, though having played it through I would retrospectively suggest a 5 VP penalty for an army that reaches its Heavy Casualties limit.


The map above is a simplified version of the original scenario map.  The original scenario maps are often quite difficult to recreate if you don’t have access to ‘Geo-Hex’ type terrain, which can accurately model contours, so I’ve done my best to redesign the map to a more ‘typical’ (at least for us) wargame table of flat terrain with a few isolated hills… In reality the hill in front of Ronald’s Brigade is a higher hill and the two ridges are spurs extending from that hill.

Woodland – All woodland is classed as Rough Ground and conveys a +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier and a -1 Partial Cover shooting modifier.

Rivers – Both forks of the Cedar Creek are classed as Rough Ground. The two minor tributaries of the Cedar Creek are classed as Broken Ground. Units in March Column formation may cross rivers at full speed via one of the bridges or at Broken Ground speed if crossing the Cedar Creek at Major’s Ford. Troops defending either type of riverbank gain a +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier.

Roads – Units in March Column formation may gain the Good Road Bonus when marching on the Orange-Culpepper Road or the north-south road that runs parallel to and to the rear of the Union lines. All other roads are classed as Open Ground.

Farms – The farms are all simply decorative. They do not block line of sight and may not be occupied. They may be moved for game purposes.  Note that the valley between the two armies was heavily planted with corn and wheat, though these have no effect in this scenario.

Hills – Troops defending hills gain the +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier. Crestlines are marked by fences.

The Game

My apologies for the poor quality of these photos – the room is quite dark and lit with spotlights, which makes photography tricky!

Above: The battlefield as seen from the south, looking from Cedar Mountain and the Slaughter house, across the Cedar Creek and up the valley between the opposing armies.

Above: The bulk of Ewell’s Division (Trimble’s Brigade, Forno’s Brigade and a pair of batteries) is deployed on the Cedar Mountain, which dominates the surrounding landscape.  Ewell is quite comfortable in this position and as a consequence, won’t come down off his hill until Turn 5!

Above: The rest of Ewell’s Division; namely Juball Early’s Brigade and a third battery of artillery, is stationed on the right flank of Winder’s Division, directly opposite the Union army.

Above: To Early’s rear, the first brigade of A.P. Hill’s ‘Light’ Division (Thomas’ Brigade) has just arrived and has moved into a reserve position on the rear slope of the spur.

Above: To Early’s left, Taliaferro’s Brigade forms a long line as far as the Newman House, where Jackson and Winder have their headquarters.  Winder’s two batteries take up position along Taliaferro’s front and have already engaged in a duel with the Union artillery opposite.  North of the main Orange-Culpepper Road, Garnett’s Brigade occupies a somewhat exposed position forward of the main line, on the corner of the woods.

Above: On the extreme left flank of the Confederate army, Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade occupies an isolated position along the edge of the woodland.  This poorly-chosen position meant that he was unable to support the rest of Winder’s Division, but it did mean that this brigade escaped the worst of the disaster that was to befall the division.

Above: The Union line as seen from the north, looking south toward Cedar Mountain.  On the extreme right flank of the Union II Corps is Williams’ Division; Crawford’s Brigade has spotted an opportunity and is already pushing forward toward Garnett’s exposed Rebels on the other wise of the wheatfield.  To Crawford’s rear, Gordon’s Brigade is moving up through the woods to cover the right flank, while Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade is in reserve. On Williams’ left, the bulk of Auger’s Division is also moving forward; Geary’s Brigade is just south of the main road and Prince’s Brigade is on the left flank of the advance.

Above: To the rear of Auger’s Division, six batteries of artillery pour a colossal weight of fire on to the unfortunate Rebels.  Greene’s tiny brigade meanwhile guards the left flank and watches for any movement from Cedar Mountain.  However, Greene is already coming under fire from Ewell’s artillery, positioned high on the slopes of the mountain.

Above: With a huge cheer, Crawford’s Brigade rushes forward with bayonets fixed, to engage Garnett’s Brigade.  The shocked Rebels are too surprised to effectively return fire and Winder’s artillery similarly fails to have any effect.  The Union artillery support however, is devastating; damaging one Rebel battery, silencing another and causing casualties on Taliaferro’s Brigade.  Crawford’s men fire a volley as they go in, causing significant casualties to Garnett’s Brigade at the worst possible moment… As the charge impacts, Garnett’s Brigade completely disintegrates as panicked rebels throw down their arms and stream past Jackson’s headquarters! [In game terms, there had been a truly astonishing display of dice-rolling, with a difference of 15 points between the winning Union and losing Confederate rolls!  Garnett’s Brigade was instantly annihilated]

Above: On the Union left flank however, Greene’s Brigade is suffering under long-range fire from Cedar Mountain and very quickly loses 50% of its strength.  Greene even has a horse shot out from under him, but soon recovers and ordered the neighbouring battery of heavy rifles to engage the artillery on Cedar Mountain.  The Union heavies successfully silence Ewell’s guns for a while and win Greene a reprieve, but for how long?

Above: Jackson attempts to regain the initiative by launching an immediate counter-attack against the advancing Bluebellies.  Early’s Brigade, with Thomas in support, wheels downhill in an attempt to engage Prince and Geary among the corn.  Taliaferro meanwhile launches a charge past the Newman House, in an attempt to drive off Crawford.

Above: However, all the confederate artillery on the spur has been silenced, damaged or driven off and the unchallenged Union guns shred the rash Confederate advance.

Above: Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade moves forward to perhaps exploit Williams’ success.

Taliaffero’s men fight hard in what is an even fight, but are eventually forced to give ground and fall back behind the Newman House.  Drawing his sword for the first time during this war, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson seizes a Battle Flag and rallies the wavering brigade.  The cry goes up “Jackson is here!” and Taliaferro’s men throw themselves once again against Crawford!  Crawford has a brush with death as one of his aides is shot along side him.  However, the Rebels are once again hammered by artillery and the Rebel Yell dies in their throats as they are pushed back once again.

Above: As Winder’s Division crumbles in the face of the determined Union assault, hope arrives in the form of A.P. Hill’s ‘Light’ Division!

Above: Pender’s brigade of veterans leads the Light Division onto the field, followed by the brigades of Branch and Archer.  However, these men are exhausted by the heat and hard marching.

Above: A.P. Hill can’t arrive soon enough, as joined by Geary’s fresh brigade, Crawford renews the assault on Taliaferro. Knowing that they can’t possibly hold for much longer, Winder orders his gunners to save the guns before drawing his sword and joining Jackson in the melee.  North of the Newman House, Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade attempts to come to Jackson’s aide, but they are intercepted by Gordon’s Brigade and are thrown back into the woods with heavy casualties.

Above: The combined weight of Crawford’s and Geary’s Brigades is just too much for Taliaferro’s Brigade to withstand and like Garnett’s Brigade, disintegrates into a panicked mob.  The Rebel artillery batteries, unable to extricate their guns from the dense woodland, are also overrun and captured by Crawford’s jubilant troops.  Jackson this time is unable to save the situation and along with Winder and Taliaferro, is forced to flee along with the mob!  Jackson and Winder both have horses shot out from under them, but manage to escape on foot.  With Jackson missing, the Confederate Army is surely lost…

Above: As a jubilant Banks moves his headquarters forward to Jackson’s former position at the Newman House, the sight before him chills him to the bone; the road from Orange County is filled with advancing Rebel troops!  Heedless to the danger, Crawford and Geary push on into the woods, throwing back Thomas’ Brigade.

Above: The High Tide Mark – Crawford’s rampage finally comes to a halt on the far side of the woods as the enormity of the situation dawns upon him and Pender’s newly-arrived Rebel brigade prepares to charge!  It was at this point that Alan (playing Banks) had to leave for work and left the Union army in my capable hands… What could possibly go wrong…?

Above:  Meanwhile, on the far side of the woods, Gordon’s Brigade continues to push back Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade with long-range musketry.  [Note that Gordon’s Brigade included a single company of Zouaves – Collins’ Zouaves d’Afrique.  This unit eventually went on to be expanded into the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which I just so happened paint recently.  This therefore gave me the perfect excuse to get them on the table… Even if Zouaves did only form a tiny portion of Gordon’s Brigade… 🙂 ]

Above: Back in the woods, Crawford decides that discretion is perhaps the better part of valour and withdraws his over-extended brigade back toward the Newman House.  However, A.P. Hill is keen to take revenge for Winder’s crushed division and with sabre drawn, leads Pender’s Brigade in a wild charge through the woods.  However, the charge quickly bogs down into a melee and the Rebels eventually get the worse of it, falling back in the face of stiff opposition by Crawford’s veterans.  However, Crawford’s boys are now starting to weaken…

Above:  As Pender’s Brigade, accompanied by A.P. Hill, takes on Crawford in the woods, Branch’s Brigade marches to the right flank to reinforce Thomas and Early.  Archer meanwhile deploys his brigade defensively, supported by two batteries of artillery, just in case Pender should be unsuccessful and/or Gordon’s Zouaves or Bayard’s cavalry get around the flank.

Above: Having beaten back Thomas’ Rebels, Geary pulls back to the Newman House.  Encouraged by Williams, Crawford also attempts to withdraw through the woods, but A.P. Hill and Pender aren’t going to let him get away that easily and charge again!  Again, the Rebels are held off, but at a cost.  Crawford’s Brigade is now starting to buckle and requests urgent assistance from Bayard and Gordon.  They should REALLY be starting to withdraw, but Crawford’s plight persuades them to come to his aid…

Above: Back at Hudson’s Farm, an increasingly worried Greene pleads with Banks to provide him with some more artillery support, as that huge mass of Rebels on Cedar Mountain isn’t going to stand still for much longer!  Banks agrees and sends three more batteries to his position.  However, disaster strikes as Greene is killed by a direct hit from a Rebel gun firing from Cedar Mountain!  Dismayed by the loss of their leader, Greene’s Brigade disintegrates, leaving the gunners to fend for themselves.

Above: Responding to the threat posed by Ewell’s Division on Cedar Mountain, Prince’s Brigade begins to pull back through the corn to defend the gun-lines and the army’s line of withdrawal back to Culpepper Courthouse.

Above: Branch’s Brigade marches down the Cedar Creek to relieve Early, who is still holding out at the southern end of the spur.

Above: Bayard’s cavalrymen dismount in the woods to provide support to Crawford’s right flank.  Gordon is also moving forward on Bayard’s right.

Above: Jackson finally finds himself a fresh horse and urges Thomas to recapture the Newman House.  the Rebel Yell is heard once again as Thomas’ men throw themselves at Geary!  Banks now realises his fatal mistake: in moving the guns south to face Cedar Mountain, the Rebels no longer have to worry about Union guns sweeping the crest-line south of the Newman House.  Thomas’ Brigade is completely unmolested as it charges Geary, who finds himself outnumbered 2:1 and is forced to give ground… The Union army has lost control of the key terrain!

Above: In the south, the Union gunners are dismayed to see the huge mass of Ewell’s Division moving down off Cedar Mountain, aiming to roll up the Union left flank.  After firing a few desultory rounds, the four rifle batteries withdraw, leaving the two 12pdr Napoleon batteries to irritate Forno’s Louisiana Tiger Brigade as it attempts to ford the Cedar Creek near Crittenden’s Farm.

Above: But what happened to Winder? After finding a fresh horse, General Winder rode north in search of the last remnants of his division; the Virginians of Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade.  finding them broken and fleeing, Winder managed to rally them and bring them back to threaten the right flank of Gordon’s Brigade.

Above: Banks’ II Corps now rapidly starts to collapse.  A.P. Hill leads Pender’s Brigade in yet another charge through the woods.  This time, despite the support of cavalry breech-loaders, the Union fire fails to halt the Rebels and Crawford’s gallant brigade is finally thrown back!  Even worse befalls Geary at the Newman House, as a fresh assault by Thomas completely overruns the Union position.  Geary himself was last seen attempting to rally a knot of men around the house, but was reported missing along with most of his men.  His body was later recovered by the Confederate troops. and buried with honours by Jackson.

Above: Juball Early’s Brigade, having weathered the storm, now re-occupies its former position on the crest of the spur and is soon joined by Jackson and some fresh artillery from A.P. Hill’s Division.  Branch’s Brigade meanwhile streams past as they move forward with Thomas to finish off Auger’s Division in the cornfields.

Above: Prince is unable to withdraw his brigade fast enough and is soon caught by Thomas and Branch with his back to the stream.  Nevertheless, they manage to inflict damage on Thomas’ Brigade and perform a fighting retreat across the stream and back up through the cornfields.

Above: Auger, distracted by the plight of Geary’s and Prince’s Brigades in the valley, makes a truly fatal error… His position in the valley means that the bulk of the artillery finds itself without orders and unable to unlimber in order to face the tidal wave of Rebel infantry coming from the south!  Auger then compounds this error even further by forgetting to move said artillery out of harms way!  Trimble’s Brigade is swift to take advantage of this schoolboy error and overwhelms the nearest battery of 12pdr Napoleons.  A breakthrough charge then sees the second battery captured!  Auger moves up to the crest, but it is too late to do anything other than order the gunners to escape with their guns.

Above: With casualties rapidly escalating, the Union army collapses!  Bayard’s cavalry are swiftly defeated by Pender and mount their horses in order to escape further retribution from the vengeful Rebels.  Gordon’s Brigade also turns about, aiming to beat the Rebels to Culpepper Courthouse…

Above: As the sun starts to set, General Auger escapes with the artillery train, but Prince’s Brigade finds itself trapped in the cornfield and surrounded by the brigades of Thomas, Branch and Trimble.  They attempt to continue their fighting withdrawal, but are quickly outflanked and annihilated.

Above: As the sun sets, the guns on Cedar Mountain finally fall silent.

Above: As the sounds of battle diminish, General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson regains his original position near the Newman House and gives thanks for the day’s victory and thanks that General Banks has ‘snatched defeat from the jaws of victory’!

In conclusion, the Union side actually won the game ‘on points’, but I don’t think there’s a cat in hell’s chance that this could ever be considered to be a victory!  They had earned 8 VPs for Garnett and Taliaferro having quit the field, 4 VPs for Early and Ronald being Spent, 2 VPs for Pender and Thomas being Worn, 2 VPs for capturing two batteries and a further 8 VPs for having occupied the spur for 4 turns.  A total of 24 VPs.  The Rebs on the other hand, had earned 12 VPs for Geary, Greene and Prince having quit the field, 2 VPs for capturing two batteries, 2 VPs for Crawford being Spent and 2 VPs for having killed Greene and Geary, for a total of 18 VPs.  However, the Rebels had also inflicted Heavy Casualties on the Union army and had cut them off from their line of retreat.  I think therefore that the VPs for this scenario need a little work, as it definitely did NOT feel like a Union victory! 🙁

Thanks once again to all at Carmarthen Old Guard, especially to Alan and Andy for making it such a good game.

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games, Scenarios | 9 Comments

Stalled Projects #1… The War of Spanish Succession in 28mm

Like most wargamers, every so often I get a rush of blood to the wallet and buy a new army (ARMIES in the most catastrophic cases) and start an entirely new project.  In fact, every wargames project starts in this manner, but some are less successful than others…

One such failed project is my 28mm French Army for the War of Spanish Succession

My good mate Jase was back from New Zealand for a few weeks and we went to the ‘Colours’ show at Reading and happened to linger a while in front of the Front Rank Miniatures trade stand…

Those Front Rank Spanish Succession figures looked utterly gorgeous…

Within minutes we’d spent all our cash on lead and were heading back to Wales, considerably poorer.  However, as soon as we got home the figures were under the brush and the first units were looking absolutely spiffing…

Did I say that he was back for a few weeks from New Zealand…?

Well that was a bloody silly idea… How in the name of all that is holy were we meant to have a game?!

Well anyway, I managed to paint a cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade and every so often the mood makes me take the brush to them for a bit more work, but that soon passes…  Maybe one day I’ll finish them off…  They are VERY nice figures…

Above: The 1st Battalion of the Bourbonnais Infantry Regiment.  At the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 [edited: NOT 1715, you idiot!], this regiment fielded two battalions as part of the Marquis de Nangis’ Brigade of the Marquis de Blainville’s Corps, along with a battalion each from the Foix and Agenois Regiments.

Above: The Bourbonnais Regiment in close-up.  Note that this regiment was simply dressed in plain grey/white. The colour of French uniforms was actually the colour of unbleached wool and is theoretically white, but is often depicted as grey.

Most French infantry regiments had a distinguishing facing colour visible at the cuffs and/or distinctive stocking and/or waistcoat colours, but many were simply plain white/grey and Bourbonnais was one of these regiments.  To get this colour I used a light grey (Humbrol 64) as the base colour and used the translucency of Humbrol’s white paint to get the grey show through – I didn’t mix up a grey shade.

Above:  A close-up of the command group of the Bourbonnais Regiment.  The regiment’s button & lace colour was yellow/gold and the drummers wore the ‘Royal Livery’ of dark blue with red facings, waistcoat and stockings, with white & crimson patterned coat-lace, which is repeated on the drum-belts.

Note that some of the Front Rank French officer figures are modelled with waist-sashes, which while common among other armies as the mark of an officer, weren’t officially a part of a French officer’s dress.  However, I had to paint them somehow, so went for white with gold tassels, which was officially the pattern for the cravats attached to French regimental flagstaffs.  I used cream as the base-colour for the sash, to give the white top-coat a subtly different shade, hopefully suggesting silk instead of wool.

Above: A rear-view of the Bourbonnais Regiment.Each French infantry battalion carried two colours; in the 1st Battalion one would be a King’s Colour, which was normally a white cross on a white field (yes, really…).  The other colour was a Regimental Colour, which had a white cross with corner panels in various colours and designs.  A regiment’s 2nd, 3rd and subsequent battalions each carried two Regimental Colours – only the 1st Battalion would carry a King’s Colour.  Very occasionally a regiment might have a design (such as fleur-de-lys or a latin motto) repeated on both the King’s and Regimental Colours.

Note the grenadiers on the right of the line, with their leather grenade-haversacks.  This was the age of grenadiers actually lobbing grenades – after this period hand-grenades went out of fashion for another 200 years and the term ‘grenadier’ was simply an honorific for an elite soldier who guarded the flank of the line.

Above: Soldiers of the La Reine Infantry Regiment.  At Blenheim this regiment fielded three battalions and formed a whole brigade in its own right, that of the Marquis de Buzancois, part of the Marquis de Rosel’s Corps.

The facings and stockings of the La Reine Regiment were red, while the waistcoats were dark blue with white lace piping around the seams and button-holes.  Buttons and lace were silver/white.

The soldiers shown on the right are the regiment’s Grenadiers.  Later in the 18th Century, French Grenadiers would be easily identified by their tall fur caps, but at this time they wore cocked hats like the rest of the battalion (the whole Grenadiers du Roi Regiment did wear fur caps at this time, however).  Grenadiers were distinguished by their moustaches, the additional lace on their coats and their grenade-bag and associated cross-belt.

Above: The de Levy Cavalry Regiment.  At Blenheim this regiment formed one-third of Massenbach’s Cavalry Brigade (alongside the de Royal and de La Ferronaye Regiments), which formed part of the Marquis du Bourg’s Corps.

This regiment had grey/white coats with red facings and gold/yellow buttons and lace (this was a VERY common uniform combination for the French Army of this period).  Shabraques were most likely red, edged yellow, though one source suggests yellow edged red.

Above: The de Levy Regiment’s command group in close-up.  Note the exquisite modelling that Front Rank put into these figures – particularly the texture of the officers’ wigs, the creases of the cloth and the details of lace, buttons and buttonholes.  The quality of casting also equals the quality of modelling. Note also that the officers’ coats are open to reveal breastplates rather than waistcoats.

Above: Another view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the regimental Guidon (cavalry colour).  All the flags shown here are by GMB Designs.

Note that French cavalry tactics of the period emphasised the use of massed volleys of pistol-fire at short-range, hence my choice of pistol-armed figures.  The French cavalry generally did not perform well and generally suffered at the hands of cavalry trained to deliver a full-blooded charge with cold-steel, such as the cavalry of Sweden, Prussia and Great Britain.

Above: A rear-view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the details of the trumpeter’s uniform, which was the livery of the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, the Duc de Levy.  Note the ‘false sleeves’ on the back of the coat; these were a common feature of cavalry trumpeter’s uniforms throughout the 18th Century.

Above: The de Royal Cavalry Regiment served in the same brigade as the de Levy Regiment above.  Note that these regiments were usually very small; normally only two squadrons apiece, with no more than 240 men.

Above:  The de Royal Regiment’s uniform was dark blue, faced red with gold/yellow buttons and lace. Quartered black & white hat-cockades are also described for this regiment.  Shabraques were probably dark blue with aurore (i.e. pinkish yellow-orange) edging, though black edging is described in one source.

Above:  The de Royal Regiment’s trumpeters wore Royal Livery, which was very much like that of infantry drummers described above: dark blue with red facings and crimson & white patterned lace.  This regiment’s trumpeters are also recorded as having crimson & white hat-feathers, as shown.

Above: A rear-view of the de Royal Regiment, particularly showing the back of the trumpeter’s coat.

Above:  “All For One And One For All!”  These fine fellows barely need any introduction: they are of course, the legendary King’s Musketeers Regiment (Les Mousquetaires du Roi) of ‘The Three Musketeers’ fame.  Although this regiment barely left the confines of Versailles during this entire period, it was seeing these figures that made me HAVE to build this army and they were consequently the first unit I painted.

Above: Thanks to the BBC, people nowadays expect to see these chaps wearing strange leather fetish-wear, but in reality they wore this spectacular uniform of red coats with blue tabards emblazoned with a sunburst, cross and fleur-de-lys.

The term ‘Musketeers’ confuses a lot of people, as it suggests that they were an infantry regiment.  In fact they, along with the single squadron of Horse Grenadiers, were the ‘Dragoon’ (i.e. mounted infantry) element of the King’s Household Troops (La Maison du Roi) and as a result were issued with infantry-style muskets for dismounted work, as well as pistols and swords for mounted shock-action and they also had drummers rather than trumpeters.  The French Army of this period still used Dragoons primarily as mounted infantry, using horses for mobility but fighting primarily on foot.  However, the majority of armies were increasingly using Dragoons as shock cavalry and the Mousquetaires du Roi also tended to be used as shock cavalry on the rare occasion they appeared on the battlefield.

Above: The Mousquetaires du Roi had two squadrons, though these were much stronger than those of the line cavalry, roughly twice the strength, in fact.  The squadrons were defined by the colour of their horses, with the senior squadron being the ‘Grey Squadron’, and the junior squadron the ‘Black Squadron’.

Above: The Grey Squadron had gold/yellow buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging.  Tabards for both squadrons had silver/white lace edging and crosses with gold/yellow fleur-de-lys, though the sunburst behind the cross was different for each squadron; the Grey Squadron had a red sunburst, edged white.  Note that drummers’ tabards were very heavily decorated with strips of lace.

Above:  A rear view of the drummer, showing the details of the tabard.

Above: The Black Squadron had silver/white buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging and gold/yellow sunbursts on the tabard.

Above:  A close-up of the right-hand side, showing the details of kit.  Note the powder-flask, suspended by a crimson & yellow cord.

Above:  Close-up of the left-hand side.  I should note here that when painting black horses, I always highlight them with a little red-brown mixed into the black.  For tails and manes I highlight with a very dark grey.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  My next instalment will be our latest ACW game – a refight of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, 1862.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Stalled Projects, War of Spanish Succession | 9 Comments

“And Sheep May Safely Graze”: The Action at Penclippin Farm – A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938

Hello. This is Huw Puw reporting once again from the front line for The Fish Guardian.

This week I find myself back in West Carmarthenshire. Having survived the ‘glorious victory’ of Titley Junction, the cross-dressing remnants of the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment were eventually relieved by a unit of the Welsh Republican Army. We then made our way back to the Republic of Cantref Cemaes for rest, reinforcement, reorganisation and retail therapy.

However, there was no such rest for me! My editor had clearly heard of my survival in Herefordshire and made sure that I was sent on the first available suicide mission. So it was that I soon found myself squelching down the soggy valley of the river Tâf with the reassuringly male soldiers of the 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment.

However, that reassurance was to be short-lived. All armies have needs and none more so than the resource-starved Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes. We needn’t go into details, but the ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment clearly has a great need for livestock… One can only hope that as good chapel-raised boys with a love of their Mams’ traditional cooking, they like a lot of Cawl

The objective for this dubious raid was Penclippin Farm, in the hills north of the royalist stronghold of Whitland. This farm is known to be the family seat of one Captain Gough, a loyalist officer with Colonel Foley’s Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets. Unlike most farms in the ‘Landsker’ borderlands between English-speaking and Welsh-speaking territory, Penclippin had not yet been picked clean by raiders from both sides – mainly due to the strong protection afforded by the Greenjackets and the proximity to the strong garrison at Whitland. Thus its booming flock of prize sheep is a rich, yet well-protected prize.

The 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment also had a few scores to settle, as many of its men are from the Tâf Valley and Whitland area, with units raised in the nearby villages of Login, Llanglydwen and Glandŵr. The regiment is named for a local hero, the ancient King of Deheubarth and author of the ancient Welsh system of laws, Hywel Dda (‘Hywel The Good’), whose court was at Whitland.

Also joining us for this raid were a motley bunch from the Free Wales Army, calling themselves ‘Y Gwarchodwyr Pysgod’ (‘The Fish Guards’). A more disreputable bunch of cut-throats it would be hard to imagine if I hadn’t already met the ‘Daughters of Rebecca’… These lads were VERY keen to get their hands on the sheep, yet when asked, none of them knew a recipe for Cawl…

Above: Lt Col George Bankcroft advances on Penclippin Farm with one of his own companies and that of the Fish Guards. Two of his companies, led by his 2IC, Major ‘Slaps’ Lewis, advance down the eastern bank of the river. Their woolly quarry is soon sighted…

Above: Thanks to alert patrols and their network of Mams who know and see all, Captain Gough’s ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets has already set up defensive positions at Penclippin Farm and has called for reinforcements from Whitland.

Above: Lt Col Foley, CO of the Greenjackets, has rushed to the scene with his Headquarters Company and ‘B’ Company, as well as an officer of the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade. He has sent word to the Whitland garrison to send relief forces at once.

Above: How green is your valley? This one is pretty green.

Above: A relief column appears, marching through the shattered village of Cwfelin Boeth.

Above: Captain Alison de Carnelle’s Foot Hussar Company of the Slebech Castle Ladies’ College Cadet Corps, supported by some light armour, is on its way to support the Greenjackets. However, ladies only run when playing hockey…

Above: On the Welsh left flank, the Login and Glandŵr Companies advance.

Above: Reaching the crest of the hill, the Login Company spots its woolly prey. However, the Glandŵr Company unwisely shows itself on the riverbank and is immediately taken under fire by the Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company.

Above: The cadets continue to march in a ladylike manner, without showing too much ankle… The armour presses on impatiently.

Above: Lt Col Foley meets up with Captain Gough at Penclippin to gain a personal appraisal of the situation. As the bullets start flying, Lt Col Gough’s group scarpers for cover.

Above: The Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company continue to fire upon the raiders along the riverbank.

Above: The sheep, startled by a group of Welshmen with a determined look in their eye, panic and flee for safety!

Above: However, the sheep soon encounter more Welshmen lurking in the bushes at the bottom of the hill and scurry back up the slope!

Above: With the sheep trapped, the Login Company advances to round them up. On the river bank, the Glandŵr Company becomes more generally engaged with the Greenjackets, but gets the worst of the firefight.

Above: Meanwhile, back at Penclippin, a fierce firefight soon ensues between the Llanglydwen Company and ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets, defending the farmhouse. The Fish Guards advance, but stay hidden to avoid scaring the sheep. The secret weapon is brought forward – Rocsi the Wonder-Dog!

Above: The humanity! As if this civil war weren’t horrible enough, a Morris Man capers from one of the farm-buildings and calls to one of the Greenjackets as if he recognises one of them! Horrified to be thought of as Morris-men, the Greenjackets temporarily panic, but are soon brought back to their senses and proper military bearing by the stirring sight of the Regimental Colour. War is hell…

Above: [The Morris Man appeared as the result of a particularly hilarious random-event card.  He would appear from a random building and then caper around in a random fashion, forcing morale tests on anyone he came into contact with as he attempted to ‘out’ them as a fellow Morris Man.  War is indeed, Hell.]

Above: Spotting a suitable phone box, I moved forward in order to phone my editor with a live report of the day’s action.

Above: To the Greenjackets’ enormous relief, the Morris Man capers off in search of new prey…

Above: Worried by the distant sound of engines and the rattle of tracks, Major Lewis deploys a ‘Boyos’ anti-tank rifle team…

Above: Ignoring the raging firefight around her, Rocsi successfully rounds up the sheep, along with the Morris Man.

Above: The armour pushes forward, but the Cadets continue to proceed in an orderly and ladylike manner.

Above: Lt Col Foley and Captain Gough watch the Morris Man disappear into the distance. Captain Gough is doubly relieved, as he was terrified of having his shameful secret revealed and being ‘outed’ as a Morris-dancer in front of the men…

Above: I conduct a live interview with one of the Greenjackets “Excuse me, but what is your opinion on the morality of Morris Dancing between consenting adults?”

Above: My interview is rudely interrupted by an armoured car roaring past.

Above: “Captain Gough! Is that you? I didn’t recognise you without the bells, hankies and whiffling-stick!” It’s no good, the Morris Man is back and has outed Captain Gough. Recoiling from the whistles, cat-calls and titters of his men, Captain Gough staggers away from the battle, a broken man.

Above: “Quick boys! Let’s get these girls away and then we can have first dibs!”

Above: As the Login Company covers the theft of the sheep, the Boyos team opens up on the Royalist tankette… And misses.

Above: With the defenders of Penclippin Farm thoroughly suppressed by fire from the Llanglydwen Company, Rocsi herds the sheep back to Welsh lines. The Greenjackets, now alerted to the theft, open fire speculatively on the hedgerows to their front.

Above: The Cadets’ armoured car, spraying machine gun fire, moves somewhat rashly to outflank the Welsh line.

Above: The rest of the Cadets are still in no such rush however, though wisely give the Morris Man a wide berth, as he capers off toward Whitland.

Above: Despite suffering some casualties from the armoured car’s machine gun, the Fish Guards gamely return fire with a volley of Molleston Cocktails (named for the Pembrokeshire village where petrol bombs were first used against Royalist tanks). One finds its mark and disables the armoured car, forcing the crew to bail out.

Above: Inspired by the sacrifice of their armoured car detachment, the Cadets hitch up their skirts and risk showing an ankle to the uncouth soldiery as they step up the pace.

Above: “Excuse me, but is it true that you’re here to give relief to the Greenjackets?”

Above: The Morris Man dances off into the distance. His body was later found face-down in the Tâf, with a service issue Webley bullet in his back.

Above: Lt Col Foley manages to calm Captain Gough and settle his nerves with a tot of Pimms. “Christopher old chap, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. Goodness knows, when I was in the Sudan, a chap would do anything to stay sane and Morris, while being an unnatural act abhorred by God, wasn’t unknown. Heaven forbid, at least it’s not Jazz.”

Above: True to form, the cads and bounders known as the Fish Guards, machine gun the armoured car crew as they make good their escape.

Above: The depleted Llanglydwen Company lays down covering fire as Rocsi and her woolly charges make good their escape.

Above: The Boyos team doesn’t get a second chance as the tankette returns fire with twin machine guns, instantly eliminating the threat.

Above: Horrified at the loss of his Boyos, Major Lewis orders the Login Company to disengage.

Above: The surviving armoured car crew make good their escape.

Above: On the other side of the river, the survivors of the Glandŵr Company withdraw northward up the river.

With casualties starting to mount and with the approach of Royalist reinforcements, Lt Col Bankcroft ordered the regiment to disengage and withdraw with its woolly captives. The raid had been partially successful, though had undoubtedly inflicted damage and not a little embarrassment on the King’s forces. The men had definitely earned their ‘Cawl’…

This is Huw Puw signing off.

This was a game played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire. The rules played were ‘Went The Day Well’ by Solway, with some minor modifications for sheep-rustling (!).

The figures are mainly by Footsore Miniatures (formerly Musketeer Miniatures), though the ‘Cadets’ are by Hinterland Miniatures and the Morris Man is by Gripping Beast Miniatures. Most were painted by me, though Martin Small painted the Fish Guards.

The Huw Puw figure is a bespoke figure, sculpted and painted for me by Martin Small. He’s based on the John Sparkes TV character of the same name.

The armoured car is a Morris CS9 by Warlord Games, while the tankette is by Empress Miniatures. Crew figures by Hinterland Miniatures.

Buildings are laser-cut models by 4Ground Models. All other scenery is from the collection of the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire and was built by Al Broughton.

My apologies for the poor quality of photos this time.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Games, VBCW - A Very British Civil War | 8 Comments

Bloody Antietam (The Afternoon Battle), 17th September 1862


Sorry for the slow rate of blog-posts just lately!  My excuses are many and varied, but the main reason is that just lately I’ve been ill with Manthrax (like Man Flu but even worse) and ‘between computers’!  Sorry!

Anyway, friends will know that I always try to have at least one epic Big Christmas Game during the Chrimbo Limbo period between Christmas and New Year and this year was no exception.  However, this year’s game would be somewhere new – the Carmarthen Old Guard Wargamers’ club.  The subject matter would also be relatively new – 10mm American Civil War, fought using Brigade Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules.   I recently ran the First Day at Gettysburg scenario again at Carmarthen as a taster and the lads were very interested in doing some more ACW over Christmas.

But what battle to do?  My collection is still fairly limited, despite recently doubling my stock of Rebs and I struggled to find a scenario that would fit my collection.  However, the Afternoon Battle sub-scenario for the Battle of Antietam in the 1st Edition Fire & Fury Eastern Battles scenario book seemed to fit the bill.  Note that for 10mm figures I scale everything down by 1/5th, so 1 inch in the rules = 2cm on my table (i.e. double all ranges in the rulebook and express them as cms instead of inches, so 12 inches becomes 24cms).

I had to adapt the orders of battle for the 2nd Edition.  This basically involved me using the 2nd Edition ‘army generator’ mechanism, though weighting the dice-rolls slightly to reflect the relative experience and fighting qualities of the opposing sides (the Rebels at this battle being generally very weak but veterans, while the Union IX Corps was strong but inexperienced).  Some brigades, particularly on the Union side, also had reduced morale due to the casualties suffered during the morning’s assault on the Rohrbach Bridge. The resultant orders of battle look like this:

Elements, Confederate I Corps (Longstreet)

D.R. Jones’ Division (1 Leader)
Kemper’s Brigade (E): 3 bases [3/-/1, Veteran, Rifled Muskets]
Garnett’s & Evans’ Combined Brigades (E): 4 bases [4/2/1, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Toombs’ Brigade (E): 3 bases [3/2/1, Veteran, Rifled Muskets]
Drayton’s Brigade: 3 bases [3/-/1, Veteran, Rifled Muskets]
J.A. Walker’s Brigade: 5 bases [5/3/2, Crack, Rifled Muskets]
Artillery Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]

Elements, I Corps Artillery Reserve
1st Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]
2nd Battery [Crack, Napoleons]
3rd Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]

Elements, Confederate II Corps (Jackson)

(Arriving as Reinforcements on Turn 2)

A.P. Hill’s Division (E) (1 Leader)
Pender’s Brigade (E): 4 bases [4/3/2, Crack, Rifled Muskets]
Gregg’s Brigade (E): 8 bases [8/6/4, Veteran, Rifled Muskets]
Archer’s Brigade: 3 bases [3/2/1, Crack, Rifled Muskets]
Branch’s Brigade: 5 bases [5/4/3, Veteran, Rifled Muskets]
Brockenbrough’s Brigade: 4 bases [4/3/2, Crack, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Smoothbore]
2nd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles]
3rd Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles]

Union IX Corps – Burnside/Cox (1 Corps Leader)

1st Division – Wilcox (1 Leader)
Christ’s Brigade: 9 bases [9/7/5, Green, Rifled Muskets]
Welsh’s Brigade: 11 bases [11/9/6, Experienced, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Experienced, Napoleons]
2nd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles] (positioned east of the creek)

2nd Division – Sturgis (1 Leader)
Ferrero’s Brigade (E): 10 bases [10/9/7, Experienced, Mixed Muskets]
Nagle’s Brigade: 8 bases [8/7/6, Green, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Crack, Napoleons]
2nd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles] (positioned east of the creek)

3rd Division – Rodman (1 Leader)
Fairchild’s Brigade: 6 bases [6/4/2, Veteran, Mixed Muskets]
Harland’s Brigade: 11 bases [11/10/8, Green, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Veteran, Napoleons]
2nd Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)

4th Division – Scammon (1 Leader)
Ewing’s Brigade: 6 bases [6/5/3, Experienced, Rifled Muskets]
Crook’s Brigade: 12 bases [12/9/6, Green, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Veteran, Napoleons] (positioned east of the creek)

IX Corps Artillery Reserve
1st Battery [Veteran, Light Rifle] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)
2nd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifle] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)
3rd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifle] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)

Elements, Sykes’ Division, V Corps (Unattached)
Lovell’s Brigade: 7 bases [7/5/3, Experienced, Rifled Muskets]
1st Battery [Veteran, Napoleons]
2nd Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)
3rd Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles] (positioned east of the creek and off-table)

N.B. Leaders marked with ‘(E)’ are rated as Exceptional.

All Confederate brigades start the game in single line, while A.P. Hill’s brigades will enter the table on the south-western road, in march column.

All Union brigades start the game deployed in supported line.  Lovell’s two off-table batteries are deployed just off the north-eastern corner of the table, so measure all ranges and lines of sight from there (they are positioned on a one-level hill).  The remaining four off-table batteries are deployed on a one-level hill, approximately 1km east of the Rohrbach Bridge, so measure all ranges and lines of sight from the point at which the eastern road leaves the table and add 24cm to all ranges.  No batteries deployed east of the Antietam Creek may be moved.
The scenario lasts 8 turns, starting with the Union 1530 turn and ending with the Confederate 1900hrs turn.  The last turn for both sides is a Twilight turn, with maximum artillery range being reduced to 48cm.

To win, the Union player has to end the Confederate Turn 8 occupying at least one of the eight ‘garrisonable’ city-blocks of Sharpsburg with an unspent brigade.

However, thanks to considerable command disagreement and inertia, only Rodman’s and Wilcox’s divisions are free to manoeuvre from the outset.  The remaining forces (Scammon’s division, Sturgis’ division and Lovell’s independent brigade) will be released if there is an unspent Union brigade occupying a city-block of Sharpsburg at the start of a Union turn.

Above: An overview of the battlefield at 1530hrs: Having taken the Rohrbach Bridge following a bloody assault during the morning, the Union IX Corps has finally established a strong bridgehead east of the Antietam Creek.  In front of them stands D.R. Jones’ weak division, manning a pathetically-thin line east of the city of Sharpsburg.

Above: The Union left (southern) flank (Ewing’s brigade of Scammon’s division).

Above: Rodman’s division, in the Union centre.  The larger brigade is Harland’s, while the smaller unit is Fairchild’s brigade, which included the 9th New York Zouaves.  As we were slightly short of Union infantry figures, I confess that I used the Confederate Tiger Zouaves (with a suitable Union command stand) to represent this unit, as they wore a very similar uniform of blue jacket with red trim, topped off with a red fez and blue tassel.  However, the 9th New York Zouaves had blue trousers, while the Tigers had blue & white striped trousers, as shown here (what the heck…).

Above:  The Union IX Corps viewed from the rear, looking toward Sharpsburg.  The bridge in the foreground had been the scene of bitter fighting during the morning.

Above:  On the Confederate right flank stands Toombs’ weak brigade and a supporting battery of artillery.  Toombs had been instrumental in defending the bridge during the morning’s battle and was only forced out of position once the Union forces discovered a ford that allowed them to outflank his position.  Toombs’ infantry are concealed in a cornfield, which at this time of year is fully-ripe and much taller than a man.  The cornfields block line of sight (reducing visibility to 2cm), though are removed once a unit has trampled through them in line or supported line formation.

In the Confederate centre, Kemper’s and Drayton’s brigades, with a second battery of artillery, take cover behind a low stone wall on the forward slope of the ridge.

Above:  On the Confederate left, the remaining two batteries occupy dominating positions on Cemetery Hill, with Evans’ brigade (actually a combined unit formed from the remnants of Garnett’s and Evans’ brigades) deployed in support on the rear slope.  Walker’ brigade meanwhile, guards the western approaches to Sharpsburg.

Above: Rodman’s division surges forward in an effort to eject Toombs’ and Kempers’ weak brigades from their strong position on the ridge.  Fairchild’s Zouaves in particular, are eager to carry their bayonets to Kemper’s Rebels!

Above: After a surprisingly tough fight, Fairchild’s Zouaves are only able to push Kemper’s boys grudgingly back from the stone wall to the crest of the ridge.  In the foreground, Harland’s assault stalls in the face of intense artillery fire from Toombs’ supporting battery.  

Above: In the distance, Welsh’s brigade makes heavy going through the small patch of woodland on Fairchild’s right, while Christ’s brigade by contrast, ignores the threat of the guns on Cemetery Hill to launch a bold direct attack on Sharpsburg.

Above: A short while later, Kemper’s and Toombs’ brigades have been destroyed and Toombs himself is mortally wounded and carried from the field.  In the distance, Welsh’s brigade destroys Drayton and the ridge is completely cleared of Rebs.  However, Christ’s brigade suffers heavy casualties during its assault and is routed.  The Union artillery exacts vengeance on Walker’s brigade and crushes it.  Evans now finds himself leading the last remaining brigade of Jones’ division and withdraws from Cemetery Hill, hoping to mount a close defence of Sharpsburg.  Only A.P. Hill can now save the day…

Above:  In the nick of time, A.P. Hill’s division streams onto the field…

Above: Rodman’s division might have taken the ridge, but both brigades are low on ammunition and now find themselves under fresh assault by A.P. Hill.  The corps commander rides forward to encourage the men, while in the distance Welsh leads his brigade on to enter Sharpsburg!

Above:  With Welsh’s brigade having gained a foothold in Sharpsburg, the rest of IX Corps starts to move forward to exploit their success.

Above:  In the foreground, Ewing’s brigade moves forward to Snavely’s Farm, but comes under fire from newly-arrived Reb artillery.  In the distance, Harland’s green troops might have taken the ridge, but now come under pressure from Hill’s veterans and look set to lose what they have gained.

Above:  Branch’s Rebel brigade, accompanied by two batteries, takes up position along the stone wall opposite Ewing.

Above:  On the ridge, the Rebel brigades of Brockenbrough and Pender take Harland to task on the crest of the ridge.

Above:  Fairchild’s Zouaves find themselves in an even worse situation, as they have now broken through Kemper’s brigade and its supporting battery, only now to find themselves isolated and unsupported on the reverse slope, faced by Gregg’s far stronger Rebel brigade.  Already weak, Fairchild’s brigade is rapidly crushed by enemy fire and is soon annihilated.  General Rodman attempts to rally them, but falls to a shot through the head from a Rebel marksman.

Above:  Despite sudden reverses on the ridge, Sturgis’ division (Ferrero’s and Nagle’s brigades) forms columns and marches forward eagerly into the fight.  Crook’s brigade meanwhile, struggles to extricate itself from the woodland along the banks of the Antietam.

Above:  Finding himself facing superior forces, Ewing takes cover behind the stone wall at Snavely’s Farm.

Above:  But what’s this?!  It seems that despite being securely positioned within the houses of Sharpsburg and being accompanied by their divisional commander, Welsh has suffered a crisis of confidence and has ordered a withdrawal, which has turned into a panicked rout from the town!  Evans’ men send them on their way with a large volume of fire and Archer’s newly-arrived brigade takes advantage of the vacuum to occupy the buildings so recently vacated by Welsh!

Above: Wilcox manages to rally Welsh’s brigade and throws them once again into Sharpsburg.  Lovell brings his brigade down from Cemetery Hill to support the assault, but all to no avail!  Welsh’s men are cut to pieces by musketry from Archer and Gregg, while Lovell’s assault is halted by Evans and his supporting artillery.

Above:  In the meantime, a general assault on the ridge starts to develop, as Ewing, Nagle and Ferrero roll forward, supported by Crook and whatever artillery can find the range.  However, Rodman’s division has now completely disintegrated and the few survivors are streaming back across the bridge, taking the divisional artillery with them.

Above:  Branch’s Rebel brigade and its supporting artillery is being thinned out by long-range Union artillery and can’t hope to hold against the coming assault, but it all serves to draw Union forces away from the main prize…

Above:  A.P. Hill has learned from Jones’ mistakes and keeps Pender’s, Brockenbrough’s and Gregg’s brigades well behind the crest-line (marked by the fence) rather than expose them to the superior Union artillery power.

Above:  Evans’ and Archer’s men occupy Sharpsburg and jeer as Welsh’s brigade flees back up the road to the bridge.  However, Lovell’s brigade is rallying behind the Lutheran church and steels itself for a second assault… It’s now all-or-nothing, as the sun is setting…

Above:  Evans’ stalwart artillerymen load their guns once again and wait for the renewed assault on Sharpsburg…

Above:  Lovell surges forward once again, but runs into a storm of flying lead and steel.  His charge is halted and the survivors go to ground as darkness falls.  The assault on Sharpsburg has failed.

Above:  As fleeing Union soldiers head back to the bridge, Cox orders Sturgis’ fresh division to form the rearguard as IX Corps starts its withdrawal across the Antietam, leaving over a quarter of its men lying on the field of battle…

Thanks to all at the Carmarthen Old Guard for an excellent day’s wargaming!  Well done to the Confederate players for their remarkable victory against considerable odds and well done also to the Union players for actually achieving a result that was slightly better than the historical outcome!  It was a superb game and was on a knife-edge right down to the last roll of the dice!

It’s nice to reach the end of a scenario for once… And all done in under five hours. 🙂

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games, Scenarios | 7 Comments

LANDJUT 1984: The Defence of Gnissau

The Warsaw Pact’s Northern Front crossed the Inter-German Border two days ago, rapidly breaking through the forward units of the German Schleswig-Holstein Territorial Command, annihilating the 81st Heimatschütz Regiment and surrounding the 71st Heimatschütz Regiment in Lübeck.  The Danish Jutland Dragoons however, along with German and British reconnaissance elements have fought a succession of sharp rearguard actions against the advancing Warsaw Pact forces, allowing survivors of the mechanised 51st and 61st Heimatschütz Brigades to disengage and fall back to the main line of resistance on the Kiel Canal.  Scattered German Home Guard units meanwhile, are mounting ambushes everywhere, making the enemy pay for every inch of German soil.

The Heimatschützen’s sacrifice has allowed time for NATO’s LANDJUT Command to crystallise a main line of resistance along the Kiel Canal.  The German 6th Panzergrenadier Division is on the right, with its flank resting on the Elbe and covering the main approaches to Hamburg.  The Danish Jutland Division is on the left, holding a wide swathe of land across Schleswig-Holstein, with its left flank resting on the Baltic and the British 1st Infantry Brigade is in reserve.  The line is spread very thin, though gaps are being covered by the ubiquitous local Heimatschütz platoons and the line should soon be strengthened by the arrival of the US 9th Motorized Infantry Division, which is presently unloading at Hamburg.  However, the 1st Jutland Mechanised Brigade is still forward of the canal, forming a bridgehead to allow German units and the Jutland Dragoons to withdraw across the canal.

On the right flank of the 1st Jutland Mechanised Brigade is the 1st Battalion of the Funen Life Regiment; a mechanised infantry battalion equipped with M113 APCs and Centurion tanks.  They are dug in around the village of Gnissau, which is situated on a low ridge, overlooking a wide valley and flanked by low, wooded hills – it looks like the ideal place to blunt the Warsaw Pact’s spearhead:

Order of Battle for 1st Battalion, Funen Life Regiment

HQ & Support Company
1x Commander
1x M113 Command APC
2x Land Rover with TOW ATGM
2x M150 TOW ATGM Carrier
2x Recce Infantry (LAW)
2x Recce Land Rover (LMG)
2x MO-120-RT Towed 120mm Mortar (off-table Organic Fire Support)

‘A’ Company
1x Command Centurion Mk 5/2 105mm Main Battle Tank
3x Centurion Mk 5/2 105mm Main Battle Tank

‘B’ Company
1x Commander
9x Infantry Squad (2 with Carl Gustav 84mm MAW and the rest with M72 66mm LAW)
1x MG3 General Purpose Machine Gun
4x M113 APC
1x M125 81mm Mortar Carrier (Organic Fire Support)

‘C’ Company
Same as ‘B’ Company

‘D’ Company (Understrength)
1x Commander
7x Infantry (3 with Carl Gustav 84mm MAW and the rest with M72 66mm LAW)
1x MG3 General Purpose Machine Gun
1x M29 81mm Mortar (Organic Fire Support)
4x Unimog 4×4 Truck

‘A’ Battery, 6th Battalion, North Jutland Artillery Regiment (off-table Direct Fire Support)
2x Forward Observer (on table attachment)
2x M113 APC
3x M109 Self-Propelled 155mm Howitzer
1x Hamlet MANPADS Team (Redeye) (on-table attachment)
1x Land Rover
The rest of the artillery battalion (two more batteries) is available as General Fire Support.

Attached From The Royal Danish Air Force
1x Forward Air Controller
1x Land Rover
On a successful roll for Close Air Support, roll again to see what arrives: 1-2 = German Alpha-Jet, 3 = British Jaguar GR1, 4-7 = Danish Draken, 8-9 = Danish F-16, 10 = US A-10 Thunderbolt. All are armed with mixed bombs and rockets.

In terms of Troop Quality, all Danish elements are classed as ‘Experienced’, except for the reservists of ‘D’ Company, who are ‘Trained’.

Rapidly approaching from the south are the leading elements of the East German 28th Motorisierte-Schützen Regiment Wilhelm Florin, which is the spearhead unit for the 8th Motorisierte-Schützen Division Kurt Bürger. The regimental reconnaissance force has identified NATO defensive positions around the village of Gnissau and the regiment’s 3rd Battalion has been ordered forward to mount a hasty attack.

Order of Battle for 3rd Battalion, 28th Motorisierte-Schützen Regiment Wilhelm Florin

HQ & Support Company
1x Commander
1x BTR-60 PU Command Vehicle
3x 9K111 Fagot-M (AT-4 ‘Spigot C’) ATGM Team
1x BTR-152 APC
3x AGS-17 Plamya 30mm Automatic Grenade Launcher Team
1x BTR-152 APC
4x M43 120mm Mortar (Organic Fire Support)
4x GAZ-66 Medium Truck

7th Company
1x Commander
1x 9K32 Strela 2 (SA-7 ‘Grail’) SAM Team
1x 9K115 Metis (AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’) ATGM Team
9x Motor Rifle Infantry (3 with RPG-7 & the rest with RPG-18)
4x BTR-60 PB APC

8th Company
Same as 7th Company

9th Company
Same as 7th Company

Understrength Regimental Tank Battalion
1x Command T-55A Medium Tank
9x T-55A Medium Tank

Attached Elements, Regimental Anti-Aircraft Company
1x 9K31 Strela 1 (SA-9 ‘Gaskin’) SAM Vehicle
1x ZSU-23-4 Shilka Quad 23mm Anti-Aircraft Vehicle

Attached Elements, Regimental Anti-Tank Company
1x 9P148 Konkurs (BRDM-2 with AT-5 ‘Spandrel’) ATGM Vehicle

Attached Elements, Regimental Pioneer Company
3x Pioneers (1 with RPG-7 & 1 with Flamethrower)
1x BTR-152 APC
1x MTU-54 Bridgelayer
1x IMR Engineer Vehicle

Attached Elements, Regimental Artillery Battalion
1x Forward Observer
1x 1V18 Artillery Command & Observation Vehicle
3x 2S1 Gvozdika Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers in Direct Support
The whole battalion (two more companies) is available for three rounds of preparatory barrage.

Attached Elements, Frontal Aviation
1x Forward Air Controller
1x BTR-60 R975 Forward Air Control Vehicle
On a successful roll for Close Air Support, roll again to see what arrives: 1-2 = MiG-17 ‘Fresco’, 3-4 = MiG-21 ‘Fishbed’, 5-7 = Su-17 ‘Fitter’, 8-9 = MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ & 10 = Su-25 ‘Frogfoot. All are armed with mixed bombs and rockets.

In terms of Troop Quality, all East German elements are classed as ‘Experienced’.

Above:  Lieutenant Colonel Simmondsson deploys the defenders as ‘hidden unit markers’, which include a proportion of dummy markers, as per the original Battlefront: WWII rules.  Each ‘Manoeuvre Element’ (i.e. Company) gets issued a number of dummy markers based on the Troop Quality of the unit – better units get more dummies, as they are assumed to be better at camouflage and creating dummy positions.  It’s a simple system that negates the need for a map and umpire.  Obsersteutnant Marx then deploys his troops and plans his preparatory barrage.

Above:  Going by the deployment of NATO positions, the western side of the battlefield appears to be more weakly defended, so Marx deploys the bulk of his force there, aiming to swing around the wooded ridge and assault Gnissau from the west.  The tank battalion leads, with the Motor Rifles following close behind, mounted in their thin-skinned BTR-60 PB carriers.  The supporting artillery proceeds to hammer the wooded ridge (they have three turns of pre-planned fire with the whole battalion – one battery is then available in Direct support thereafter, along with the Motor Rifle Battalion’s own 120mm mortars).

Above:  On the right flank of the attack, the Motor Rifle Grenade Launcher Platoon takes up position within Strenglin, ready to provide fire support to the attack or discourage a counter-attack from the east.  On their right, AT-4 Spigot ATGM teams set up their weapons in a small wood, strengthened by a detachment of vehicle-mounted AT-5 Spandrel ATGMs and a Forward Air Controller.  Hopefully this will be enough to blunt any NATO counter-attack from the east.  To the rear, the air defence detachment watches the skies.

Above:  The East German 2S1 122mm artillery battalion does good work on the ridge and disorders or suppresses almost the entire Danish ‘B’ Company (mech infantry).  Further out to the west, the German T-55s are most surprised (and relieved) to discover that the bulk of NATO positions there are actually dummy positions!  Nevertheless, in front of the ridge a T-55 is destroyed by Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifles, while another T-55 is driven back.  NATO artillery also now starts to fall among the East German APCs…

Above:  Despite being suppressed by artillery himself, the Danish Forward Observer times his defensive fire mission perfectly, dropping 155mm rounds in the midst of a Motor Rifle Company just as they were dismounting from their APCs in preparation for an assault on the ridge.  An APC and a rifle squad are eliminated and most of the rest are disordered.  The T-55s will now have to fight through the wood without infantry support!

Above:  With the East Germans threatening to turn the Danish right flank, the CO calls up an air-strike and a flight of RDAF F-16s screeches over the battlefield…

Above:  However, the East German air defences are awake and alert and quickly turn the F-16 into a fireball!

Above:  Suddenly, disaster strikes the Danes!  With Warpac artillery landing in and around their foxholes, T-55s rampaging through the position and the Company Commander being pinned down, panic suddenly rips through the Danish ‘B’ Company and the majority of them flee from the ridge, accompanied by their attached Forward Observer.

Above:  Only a single infantry section remains on the ridge, resolutely holding its position against the invaders.

Above:  A hedge at the foot of the rear slope unfortunately impedes the Danish retreat.

Above:  The East German assault now seems unstoppable.

Above:  At Strenglin however, the East Germans suffer a bloody nose as Land Rover-mounted Danish TOWs knock out a German ATGM vehicle and the Forward Air Controller’s vehicle.  Thankfully the FAC survives and starts calling for some airborne vengeance…

Above:  From their position the East German ATGM teams are able to spot the Land Rovers, but don’t want to give away their position by firing.

Above:  But not to worry, as a Soviet Frontal Aviation Su-17 ‘Fitter’ soon arrives and easily avoids the paltry AA fire that the Danes are able to throw up.

Above:  Somewhat unwisely, the Danes have packed a small wooded hill with assets – as well as the two TOW Land Rovers, there are also two recce Land Rovers and a Forward Observer with his M113!  They all fit neatly under the Su-17’s bomb template…

Above:  The air strike results in the destruction of the Recce Platoon, who had the misfortune of being parked next to the TOW Land Rovers.  Unable to resist temptation, the East German ATGMs also fire at the Forward Observer’s M113, which was spotted when it fired its HMG at the Su-17.  The M113 is destroyed, but the Forward Observer survives and the ATGMs soon become targets for 120mm mortars.

Above:  The Danish right flank is now completely overrun.  The Danish ‘B’ Company managed to rally at the hedge-line and has occupied a small built-up area next to the road, but they can’t hope to hold out for long against this onslaught.

Above:  ‘B’ Company does what it can to rally, but some elements are still stuck on the wrong side of the hedge!  However, the first T-55 to emerge from the wooded ridge suddenly explodes as a TOW missile finds its mark – but from where?!

Above:  Back on the high ground at Gnissau, the Danish CO personally directs the fire of two dug-in M150 TOW Carriers and begins to organise a counter-attack.

Above:  Ignoring the threat of ATGM fire from Strenglin, the Centurions of ‘A’ Company burst out of their camouflaged positions in front of Gnissau and wheel to the right, aiming to strike at the right flank of the East German tank battalion.

Above:  In the distance, the Danish ‘C’ Company, mounted in its M113s, follows the Centurions in a counter-attack against the East German right flank.  In the foreground, the reservist ‘D’ Company gets out of its foxholes and moves forward in support.

Above:  Having successfully run the gauntlet of fire from AT-4s ATGMs and AGS-17 grenade-launchers, the Centurions successfully reach the eastern end of the wooded ridge.  In the foreground, the Squadron Commander with one of his Troops engages the T-55s on the northern slope to take the pressure off ‘B’ Company’, while his other two Troops head around to engage the BTRs south of the ridge.

Above:  Unaware of the approaching Danish tanks, the East German Pioneer detachment moves forward in support of the attack.

Above:  The view from the wooded ridge.  The dismounted East German Motor Rifle Company is still struggling to move forward following its hammering by NATO artillery and the tanks on the ridge are still unsupported… The Danish counter-attack might just work!

Above:  The commander of 7th Company frantically attempts to get his men to redeploy to face the approaching enemy tanks, but his lads are shaken and move sluggishly in response to the threat.  The panzer crews are made of sterner stuff, however and a single T-55 platoon moves to meet the Centurions.

Above:  The Tank Battalion and the 8th and 9th Motor Rifle Companies charge on, aiming to overrun ‘B’ Company and Gnissau, regardless of the puny tank threat.

Above:  However, Captain Bigglesson’s F-16 appears just as the East German air defence unit is re-locating to a safer location.  The 7th Company’s deployed SA-7 ‘Grail’ SAM team fails to dissuade the Danish aviator and he successfully destroys a BTR-60 belonging to 9th Company.

Above:  Meanwhile, Lieutenant Maverikski’s Su-17 returns to club baby seals and ignores the Centurions to finish off the Danish Land Rovers before returning to the People’s Mess for a samovar and Order of Lenin.

Sadly that was where we had to leave it.  As it was a club-night, we only had 3 hours or so to do the game, so it was probably ‘a little’ ambitious! 🙂  Nevertheless, it was a very entertaining game and game concepts were play-tested, which was the primary objective.

Rules and Models

The rules are Battlefront: First Echelon, which is my Cold War adaptation of Battlefront: WWII by Fire & Fury Games.  In these rules, each vehicle or heavy weapon represents 2-3 real ones and an infantry stand represents a squad/section.

The Danish models are mostly by QRF, with modelling and conversion by the talented Martin Small and painting by me (the infantry are QRF Israelis, painted by Martin).  The F-16 is a 1/100th scale die-cast toy by an unknown manufacturer, repainted by me.

The East Germans/Soviets are from a mix of manufacturers, painted by me:  The infantry are East Germans by Team Yankee.  Most of the vehicles are by Skytrex, with the Shilka and engineering vehicles by QRF.  The Su-17 is by QRF, with conversion (wings swept forward) by Martin Small.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Games, Scenarios | 6 Comments

French Napoleonic Reinforcements

Since getting back into my first wargaming love of Napoleonics in 2015, thanks to our Waterloo Bicentennial games, I’ve been steadily working my way through the lead-pile.  In 2015 this stood at around 2,000 unpainted 15mm AB Figures Napoleonics.

Thanks to painting 1,000 or so figures for Waterloo and around another 2,000 since, I’ve now managed to reduce my pile of unpainted AB Napoleonics to… around 2,000 figures…

I really need to stop buying more… 🙁

One of my major objectives after Waterloo was to build up sufficient French and Austrian forces for the 1809 Danube Campaign.  The main task was to paint LOTS of Austrians, as I only had a small Austrian army in my collection, but I also needed to expand my French army in pretty much all areas.  I’ve also been expanding my Young Guard for later campaigns, so I’ll cover those in a separate piece.

Note that all of my troops are organised for Napoleon’s Battles rules, whereby each unit represents a brigade or large regiment and each figure represents about 100 men.  Rather than trying to represent every uniform present in a brigade (which I’ve seen done, but looks messy), I paint a single battalion or regiment from that brigade to represent the brigade as a whole.  Unless otherwise stated, all models are by AB Figures, sculpted by Tony Barton and painted by me:

Above: The 9th Light Infantry Regiment.

Above:  The 10th Light Infantry Regiment.  At first glance these look exactly the same as the 9th, though there are subtle differences in cuff detail, headgear, epaulettes and gaiter-trim.

Above: The 7th Chasseur a Cheval Regiment.

Above:  The 4th Cuirassier Regiment.  I have actually cheated here slightly, by painting them in their 1810 uniform with ‘aurore’ (pinkish-orange) facings.  Up until 1810 the Cuirassiers only had scarlet or ‘jonquil’ yellow facings.  Scarlet was worn by the 1st to 6th Regiments, while jonquil was worn by the 7th to 12th Regiments.  In 1810 that changed to scarlet for the 1st to 3rd, aurore for the 4th to 6th, jonquil for the 7th to 9th and pink for the 10th to 12th.

The trouble with Cuirassiers in historical refights is that they were generally either completely absent, or they were ALL there en masse (along with the brigade of Carabiniers)!  So you need a ton of the things for those relatively rare moments where the Reserve Cavalry Corps is committed.  This is my sixth and final brigade of French Cuirassiers.  In 1809 all the Cuirassier and Carabinier brigades were very strong, so I’ve also been painting up extra bases of Cuirassiers for my pre-existing units.

Above:  The 5th Hussar Regiment.  All the French Hussar regiments have gorgeous uniforms, but the 5th has to be my favourite of the lot.  However, while the basic uniform details of sky-blue breeches, sky-blue dolman, white pelisse and yellow braid is easy to discover, exact details of headgear and trumpeters’ uniform are much harder to find!  Note that Tony Barton generally depicts figures in ‘field dress’, so the Hussars are wearing their pelisses as jackets, instead of slinging them over the left shoulder as a cape.  I think this is a shame, as I’d like to see the contrasting colour of the dolman.  ah well…

Above:  The 5th Hussars again.  I must admit that I’ve cheated here slightly, as I’ve depicted them in the uniform recorded for 1805-1808, which featured sky-blue shakos with black trim and trumpeters in scarlet uniforms with white shakos and yellow plumes.  By 1809, the shakos for the rank and file had changed to plain black and the trumpeters were wearing ‘reversed colours’, with sky-blue shakos and white plumes.  Note that as with all AB Figures cavalry in ‘charging’ poses, they often benefit from a bit of arm-bending, so that some are pointing their sabres at the enemy.  Some careful plume-bending can also look good, as here.

Above:  The 1st (Polish) Light Horse Lancers of the Guard.  In 1809 these were actually simply ‘Light Horse’ and didn’t become Lancers until a year or so later.  However, AB don’t do the correct figures for 1809, so these will do for now, as we need them for subsequent campaigns.

Above:  One of the Lancers had a mis-moulded lance, so I decided to convert him into an Eaglebearer with the help of a drill, some brass wire and the Eagle cut from a spare infantry Eaglebearer.  I think he looks rather nice and I now wish I’d done the same for the 2nd (Red) Lancers! 🙁

Above:  For some reason I had a load of spare Guard Lancer officers knocking around, so I painted some as Duchy of Warsaw generals and this one specifically as General Krasinski; some time commander of the 1st (Polish) Light Horse Lancers of the Guard and latterly a Guard cavalry brigade commander.  Even as a general, he typically wore a sumptuous version of the full dress ‘gala’ uniform of the Guard Polish Lancers, as shown here.

Above:  For the Italian theatre of the 1809 Campaign and for the Battle of Wagram, I needed a model for General Grouchy, in his role as commander of a corps of Dragoons.  Grouchy has in latter years attracted something of a bad reputation, thanks to Bonapartist propaganda slating his performance as a Marshal during the Waterloo Campaign.  However, in earlier campaigns and particularly in 1809, he proved himself as an extremely capable cavalry commander

 Above: Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy.  Although not a Marshal of the Empire and having almost no military experience, Eugene, as Napoleon’s adopted son, was given an independent command as commander of the Army of Italy.  After a shaky start, Eugene surprised everyone by not only defeating an Austrian invasion but also then pursuing the Austrian army back into Hungary before joining Napoleon at Vienna and playing a decisive part in the subsequent victory at Wagram.  He also proved to be a very popular civil governor of northern Italy – sometimes nepotism works!

Above:  Eugene is frequently depicted in a Marshal’s-style blue uniform, heavily laced with gold and with white Marshal’s ostrich-feathers edging his hat.  However, I’ve depicted him here in the green uniform prescribed for him as Viceroy of Italy.  I’m not sure if he was actually wearing this in 1809, but this seems to have been the uniform he wore at Borodino in 1812 and it does mark him out as a commander of Italian troops.  With him is an Italian staff officer (green uniform, faced sky blue), an Italian line infantry colonel in regimental uniform and a French staff officer in a sky blue concoction of his own (based on a uniform worn by Baron Lejeune).

Most of these models come from the AB Figures Napoleon & Staff set.  Had I realised it at the time, I could also have included a Mameluke manservant, as according to a painting on the wall at Fontainebleau Chateau, Eugene had a Mameluke manservant, just like his step-dad. I have a spare Roustan from the Napoleon set, so will add him at some point in the future!

Above:  Lastly, we have Marshal Bessieres, resplendent in his typical uniform; the ‘undress’ uniform of a Colonel of the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval.  He is escorted by a pair of Guard Chasseurs in full dress and a dismounted Chasseur officer, in undress like his boss.

The Bessieres figure is actually one of a set of Marshal Murat figures by a talented new sculptor from Estonia called Sho Boki.  Although Sho Boki’s sculpting isn’t quite up to Mr Barton’s standard, he is rapidly catching up with the great man and his models fit in with AB Figures extremely well.  The two Chasseur escorts are taken from the AB Napoleon & Staff set, while the dismounted officer figure is actually an officer of the Sailors of the Guard (I had one spare) and his horse is taken from an AB French ADC set.

Anyway, that’s it for now!  🙂

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 8 Comments

‘Going Dutch’: Building a Cold War Dutch Battlegroup (Part 2)

This week I’ve been painting more Cold War Cloggies!  As discussed in Part 1, I’m adding a Dutch force to my 15mm Cold War collection and am presently building up models to create an Armoured Infantry Battalion or Tank Battalion Battlegroup circa 1984, equipped with Leopard 1-V tanks and YPR-765 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles.  I would also like at some point, to expand the army to include YP-408 wheeled APCs, Centurion Mk 5/2 tanks and Leopard 2A4 tanks as options, as these were all in service during my chosen year.

In so doing, Hans Boersma’s superb Netherlands Armed Forces Order of Battle 1985 website has been invaluable and I’ve relied on it heavily in creating my own wargame organisations for Battlefront: First Echelon (my slowly evolving Cold War adaptation of Fire & Fury Games’ Battlefront: WWII wargame rules).

Hans has very kindly taken the trouble to critique, correct and enhance my last missive, so here are the main points from that discussion:

1.  The Leopard 1-V did in fact have a laser-rangefinder like the German Leopard 1A5, so was more advanced than the Leopard 1A1A1.  However, the small ‘bulges’ housing the coincidence-rangefinder lenses remained in situ on the turret sides (they were removed and blanked off on the Leopard 1A5).  The laser rangefinder was very good when it worked, but frequently didn’t work, which was one of the main problems with the Leopard 1-V.  The Leopard 1-V lacked the advanced thermal-imaging system of the Leopard 1A5, though did have an image-intensification system.

2.  Dutch infantry berets of the 1980s were khaki-brown!  I’d painted the berets of my vehicle-commanders ‘petrol’, which is a dark blue-green shade.  As Hans points out, ‘petrol’ berets are a far more modern uniform-change.  I think I’m correct in saying that the combat-support arms (artillery, engineers, etc) who now wear ‘petrol’ berets, also had khaki during the 1980s.  Tank and recce units wore black berets, while the Commandos (not to be confused with the Marine Corps) wore grass-green berets and the Marine Corps wore very dark blue berets with red half-moon patches behind the cap-badge (just like British Royal Marines who are not Commando-trained, in fact).

Thanks Hans!  And so to the new stuff…

A pair of Dutch M113 C&V 25

Unique to the Royal Netherlands Army, the M113 C&V 25 was the army’s standard armoured recce vehicle, used by Armoured Recce Battalions and the Brigade Recce Platoons of Armoured Brigades and Armoured Infantry Brigades.  ‘C&V’ stands for Commando & Verkenningen or ‘Command & Reconnaissance’, while the ’25’ indicates the upgraded version, armed with a 25mm cannon.  This vehicle, like the very similar US Army M114 C&R Carrier and the Canadian M113 C&R Lynx, was based on the ubiquitous M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier and was mechanically identical.  In principle this served to ease problems of logistics and maintenance, but at the time the Dutch had very few M113-based vehicles, as their main APC type was the AMX-13 VTT.  However, M113s were part of the Armoured Recce Battalion organisation and when YPR-765 arrived in 1975, they were also mechanically-compatible.

A .50 Cal-armed M113 C&V

The M113 C&V was originally purchased by the Royal Netherlands army during the 1960s, but then was armed with a Browning M2 .50 Cal HMG.  The very first few vehicles were equipped with the same cupola as the M113 APC, but all were then upgraded to the M26 Cupola (as fitted to the YPR-765 PRCO-C1 and Canadian Lynx), which allowed the gunner-observer to aim and fire the HMG from under armour.  The vehicle commander was also usually armed with an FN MAG 7.62mm MG on a pintle-mount next to his hatch at the front-right corner of the vehicle.

On the surface, the basic M113 C&V appears identical to the Canadian M113 C&R Lynx.  While they are essentially identical in mechanical terms, there are some significant differences in terms of crew-layout:  Primarily the Canadian Army wanted the vehicle commander to be seated behind the driver and alongside the observer-gunner, so the commander’s station and hatch were moved from the front-right of the vehicle to the rear-left.  This hatch was then armed with a pintle-mounted Browning C4 7.62mm MG.  The gunner-observer’s cupola was also shifted forward and to the right, in order to give the commander more space at the vehicle’s rear.  The gull-wing crew-hatch on the right side of the vehicle was also deleted from the Canadian version.

A Canadian M113 C&R Lynx by QRF Models. Note the different hatch-arrangement

In 1974 the decision was taken to upgrade the M113 C&V’s armament to the same Oerlikon 25mm cannon as that fitted to the YPR-765, which was then being adopted into service as the army’s new standard infantry-carrier.  However, unlike the YPR-765’s conventional turret design, the cannon would be mounted in a radical ‘overhead’ mount, very much like the 20mm cannon turret fitted to the German Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle.  The upgraded vehicles were re-designated as the M113 C&V 25

I’ve used the Team Yankee M113 C&V 25 models here, but QRF, The Plastic Soldier Company and Butler’s Printed Models also produce them.  If you want to create the original 1960s/70s M113 C&V, swap the Oerlikon turret with an M26 Cupola (each Team Yankee YPR-765 box includes 1x M26 Cupola) and add an FN MAG (the Team Yankee plastic Leopard 1 box includes pintle FN MAGs).

In terms of organisation, during the 1980s Brigade Recce Platoons had three patrols, each of 2x M113 C&V 25.  The Platoon HQ then had a single M113A1, an FN-MAG-armed Land Rover and a pair of Carl Gustav 84mm MAWs.

Armoured Recce Battalions meanwhile, were organised according to the ‘Fight For Information’ doctrine also followed by the USA and West Germany, as opposed to the ‘Sneak & Peek’ doctrine followed by the UK, Belgium and Canada.  This meant that they had a mixture of light recce vehicles and main battle tanks in the same sub-units.

Each Recce Battalion had three Squadrons, each with an HQ containing 1x M113 C&V 25, 1x M577 Armoured Command Vehicle, 2x M113A1 fitted with ground-surveillance radar and three identical Recce Platoons.  Each Recce Platoon had an HQ of 1x M113 C&V 25, two patrols, each with 2x M113 C&V 25, an infantry section with 1x M113 APC and mortar section with 1x M106 107mm mortar carrier and a tank section with 2x tanks (initially AMX-13/105, replaced during the 1970s by Leopard 1 and Leopard 2A4 being adopted by the 103rd and 105th Battalions during the 1980s).

YPR-765 PRRDR Radar Reconnaissance Vehicle, converted from a Team Yankee model

Close reconnaissance duties within Tank Battalions and Armoured Infantry Battalions were normally performed by their own organic Recce Platoons.  These were organised identically, having an HQ with 2x Land Rovers and 3x motorcycles, plus two patrols, each consisting of 2x Land Rovers armed with FN MAG and lastly, a trio of YPR-765 PRRDR radar reconnaissance vehicles.  In Armoured Infantry Battalions equipped with YP-408 APCs, the radar reconnaissance vehicles were YP-408 PWRDR.

YPR-765 PRRDR Radar Reconnaissance Vehicle

My ‘wargames standard’ conversion of the YPR-765 PRRDR was a simple job – simply a rectangle of plastic cut to the dimensions of the ZB-298 radar antenna, drilled out and attached to a length of brass wire, which was then inserted into a hole drilled in the left-hand side antenna mount of a Team Yankee YPR-765 model.  In reality, the mount was a little more complicated, as the antenna was also fitted with a folding tripod to allow dismounted operation of the radar.  This tripod would be folded flat alongside the vehicle post-mount.

The ‘official’ cupola for these vehicles was the standard M113-style cupola with pintle-mounted .50 Cal, so I’ve taken a spare cupola from a Team Yankee M113 plastic kit.  However, I’ve also seen photos of these fitted with M26 Cupolas, so you could add one of those instead.  Note that the red & black diamond on the radar antenna is a radiation hazard warning sticker; the same sticker would be found on the radar antennae of other vehicles such as the PRTL flak-tank.

And so to the infantry:

QRF and PSC also produce specific Dutch figures, but I’ve opted for the Armoured Infantry Platoon pack from Team Yankee.  A platoon for Team Yankee roughly equates to a company for First Echelon, so this works out rather well.  However, while the modelling is good, the production quality was fairly poor for this pack, with lots of flash, a few bent/broken rifles and one mis-moulded figure minus a leg!

The selection of poses is also fairly boring, with three identically-posed Carl Gustav 84mm MAW teams and an over-representation of pointing/shouting/waving/radio-operating ‘command’-style figures.  Overall, in my opinion this pack is nowhere near as good as the Team Yankee East German infantry pack, which were the last Team Yankee figures I painted.  That said, all the trimming, filing and fixing has paid off and I’m pleased with the finished result.

Up until the late 1980s/early 1990s, the standard Dutch combat uniform was plain olive-drab, the shade of which faded to a slightly greyish-green though not as grey-green as West German or Canadian uniforms.  I’ve used Humbrol 86 Olive Green, mixed with a little white for highlight.  After this they switched to a new uniform made from British Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) camouflage.  National flag badges were sometimes worn on the shoulders, so I’ve painted them here simply in order to break up the green monotony!  The national flag badges became standard with the change to DPM uniforms.

As for equipment, Dutch webbing equipment was made of olive drab canvas material that very closely matched the colour of the uniform.  However, I’ve opted to paint the webbing in Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab, just to pick it out a little from the general uniform colour.  Dutch Army boots were brown leather, while the Marine Corps wore black boots.  The Army switched to black boots during the 1990s.

The helmets are something of a sore point… Dutch troops during this period were equipped with a US M1 helmet, which was then to be covered in hessian sacking.  The hessian would then be camouflaged (with varying degrees of success) by the individual soldier, using brown boot-polish and green ‘webbing-polish’ (what the British Army would call ‘Blanco’).  This would then be topped off with an olive drab scrim net, all held in place with a rubber band made from a tyre inner-tube.

However, Team Yankee haven’t modelled them with the all-important scrim-net, just a cloth/hessian cover!  I tried doing some with the camouflage, but it looked too bold without the subduing effects of the hessian material, scrim-net and general weathering, so I wasn’t happy with them at all.  From a few photos in 1980s-vintage books, Dutch troops from a distance generally look as though they’re wearing sand-coloured helmet covers, so I decided in the end to go with Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab, highlighted with Humbrol 83 Ochre.  In retrospect, these do look a bit too light and a light brown might be a better colour than ochre… 🙁   Lastly, the helmets were finished off with their rubber band in Humbrol 67 Dark Grey.

As for weaponry, the standard small-arms for the Royal Dutch Army during this period were the FN FAL 7.62mm Rifle, the FN MAG 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun and a smattering of Uzi 9mm Sub-Machine Guns for vehicle crews, senior officers and supporting roles (the same combination as the Belgian and Luxembourg Armies, in fact).  Dutch FN FALs retained the original varnished wood stocks, whereas NATO users of the period had tended to go over to black plastic or black wood-stain on their weapons.

Other infantry weapons included the M72 66mm LAW, the Carl Gustav 84mm Recoilless Rifle and the M47 Dragon Anti-Tank Guided Weapon.  I generally use Humbrol 155 US Olive Drab for the LAWs and Dragons and a darker green (Humbrol 116 US Green) for the Carl Gustavs.  The Dragons also have black/dark grey foam ‘bumpers’ on the ends of the tube and around the tracker/sight unit.

In a moment of weakness, I also bought a pack of Team Yankee Dutch Stinger SAM teams.  This is slightly cheating for my chosen period of 1984, as the Dutch Army didn’t actually form Stinger units until 1985, when they added 3x Stingers to each Armoured Anti-Aircraft Platoon (essentially pairing each PRTL flak-tank with a Stinger).  However, the Stingers had already been delivered in 1984, so had a war happened, they would no doubt have been deployed.

However, had I thought about this for a moment, I would have realised that this pack contains NINE Stinger teams, which is a WHOLE BRIGADE’S WORTH of Stingers at 1:1 ratio and would require an equal number of PRTLs on the table!  The typical allocation for a battlegroup would be a single platoon of 3x PRTL and 3x Stinger, so what on earth were Team Yankee thinking…?  It’s even worse for me, as at 1:3 ratio I now have a whole division’s-worth of Stingers…  Ah well, some are already being painted as US Stinger teams and I’ll probably paint some more as Danes and some more (with head-swaps) as British SAS Stingers for the Falklands.  The other issue is that this pack contains yet more people pointing, waving, gesticulating, shouting and talking into radios… 🙁

Anyway, that’s enough for now!  We had another Cold War clash in Schleswig-Holstein last week, so I’ll report on that soon.  I’ve also finished a load of US Cold War kit and have finished the rest of the YPR-765s for the Cloggies.  I’m now back to painting 10mm Confederates for a game next week and have a lot more Napoleonic stuff to post, so watch this space…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, Cold War - NATO Armies, Painted Units | 9 Comments

Refighting Operation ALAN: The Welsh Victory, 22-29 October 1944

From 22-28 October 1944, the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, with supporting elements from 7th Armoured Division, 79th Armoured Division and 33rd Armoured Brigade, won a remarkable (and now largely forgotten) victory at the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

The city (whose name is often shortened to ‘Den Bosch’) was home to a German parachute training regiment and following the Allied breakout from France, had been designated as a ‘Fortress’ by the Fuehrer, to be held at all costs.  The garrison of the Fortress became a painful thorn in the side of the Allied Operation MARKET-GARDEN during September 1944 and following the failure of that operation, remained a major threat to the left flank of the resultant ‘Nijmegen Salient’.  With the loss of Nijmegen, the city now became the main supply hub for the German LXXXVIII Korps south of the River Maas.

In order to consolidate the gains made by I Airborne Corps and XXX Corps during MARKET-GARDEN, the Allied 21st Army Group now began a series of operations to expand the Nijmegen Salient and clear all German forces from the left bank of the Maas.  Starting on 30th September, the British VIII Corps launched Operation AINTREE, attacking east from the salient to take the cities of Overloon and Venraij.  Then, a few days later and far to the west, the British I Corps and Canadian II Corps attacked north from Antwerp, to clear the approaches to South Beveland and the north bank of the Scheldt Estuary.  This was closely followed by Operation SWITCHBACK; an assault by 3rd Canadian Infantry Division against the ‘Breskens Pocket’, to clear the south bank of the Scheldt Estuary.

With the Germans already reeling from these successive and ongoing operations in the west and east, the British XII Corps now launched a further series of assaults in the centre, striking west from the Nijmegen Salient, with the intention of taking ‘s-Hertogenbosch and isolating, then destroying the LXXXVIII Korps (see map above).

General Bobby Ross, GOC 53rd (Welsh) Division

As the 15th (Scottish) and 51st (Highland) Divisions launched frontal assaults against the towns of Tilburg, Boxtel and Vught, General Bobby Ross’ 53rd (Welsh) Division would take the prize of ‘s-Hertogenbosch by launching his assault from what would hopefully be an unexpected direction, thus driving in the left flank of the LXXXVIII Korps.

Attacking from the north-east, 53rd (Welsh) Division would push down the main ‘s-Hertogenbosh to Nijmegen road and railway, which ran along a strip of slightly higher, drier and heavily wooded land, with soggy polder land on each flank.  This gave the division a frontage of approximately 4km in which to deploy, narrowing to 1km near the city – not ideal, but far better than the sort of frontages that had been available to XXX Corps during MARKET-GARDEN.

160 Brigade would attack on the right, straddling the railway.  The 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment (2 Mons) would advance on the right (north) of the railway, along CUP Route through Kruisstraat and Rosmalen.  The 4th Welch Regiment (4 Welch) would advance on the left (south) of the railway, along SPUR Route, through Nuland and Molenbeek.  The 6th Royal Welch Fusiliers (6 RWF) would form the brigade reserve.  Each battalion would also be supported by the Cromwell tanks of 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (5 Skins – 7th Armoured Division – minus ‘B’ Squadron), divisional engineers and specialist armour (Crocodiles, AVREs and Crab Flails) from 79th Armoured Division to deal with the numerous fortifications and obstacles.

71 Brigade would attack on the left of 160 Brigade.  The 1st Highland Light Infantry (1 HLI) would be on the right of the brigade, astride PAN Route, which was the main road to Nijmegen.  On the left flank were 4 RWF and in brigade reserve were the 1st Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (1 Ox & Bucks).  Again, the brigade was supported by large quantities of specialist armour from 79th Armoured Division, as well as divisional assets and the Cromwells of ‘B’ Squadron, 5th Royal Tank Regiment (5 RTR – 7th Armoured Division).

158 Brigade, consisting of 7 RWF, the 1st East Lancashire Regiment (1 E Lancs) and 1/5 Welch, formed the divisional reserve.  1 E Lancs were given a special tasking, designated Operation SAUCEPAN.  The battalion would be mounted in the Ram Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers of 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Squadron (this would be the Ram Kangaroo’s combat debut) and would have the brigade’s massed Wasp flamethrower carriers, ‘B’ Squadron 5 Skins, ‘A’ Squadron 53 Recce Regiment and yet more specialist armour and divisional assets under direct command.  The plan was that once one of the leading infantry brigades had opened one of the three main routes into the city, Operation SAUCEPAN would spring into action, with the 1 E Lancs Battlegroup launching a rapier-like, narrow armoured thrust down that route and into the heart of the city.

Operation ALAN as it appeared on our tabletop at Bovington in 2010, showing the primary German defended positions and entrenchments (this area is shown as a rectangle on the map above).

On the extreme left of the operation, 7th Armoured Division, led by 161 (Queen’s) Infantry Brigade, would advance up the north bank of the Zuid-Willems Canal.  The Sherman tanks of the 1st East Riding Yeomanry (1 ERY), of 33 Armoured Brigade would also be fed into the battle as it developed.

All of this was to attack behind ample artillery preparation and a detailed fire-plan, allied to pre-planned Wing-sized RAF Typhoon strikes on likely enemy forming-up points and further Typhoons available on call to attack targets of opportunity.

Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Neumann, GOC 712th Infantry Division

On the German side, Generalleutnant Freidrich-Wilhem Neumann’s 712th Infantry Division was deployed in depth, with six battalion-sized groups deployed on the north-east approaches to the city, through which the 53rd (Welsh) Division would have to fight.  Fusilier Battalion 712 was deployed forward at Nuland, covering a wide antitank ditch and minefield.  The two battalions of Grenadier Regiment 732 were then dug in south of the railway at Malenkamp and Molenhoek, while the 1st Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 745 was dug in north of the railway at Kruisstraat, supported by Training & Replacement Battalion 347 at Rosmalen.  As a final back-stop, the 3rd Battalion of Parachute Training Regiment 3 held the suburb of Hintham and Fort Alexander.  The other two battalions of Parachute Training Regiment 3 were positioned to block the advance of 7th Armoured Division up the Zuid-Willems Canal.

The above elements were supported by a weak artillery regiment, numerous flak and towed anti-tank guns and a small number of obsolete self-propelled guns.  As the battle developed, these were reinforced by additional infantry, StuGs and Jagdpanthers from LXXXVIII Korps.  The remainder of 712th Division (primarily the 2nd Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 745 and large numbers of Flak and rear-echelon troops) was held back in reserve, behind the ancient moats of the city itself.

This then, was the general outline scenario that I wrote for our annual game at The Tank Museum, Bovington.  Richard de Ferrars then kindly visited the Public Records Office at Kew and dragged out a stack of new information, including War Diaries for all the units involved, Brigade Orders, artillery fire-plans, etc, etc, resulting in a complete re-write of the scenario… The ‘full-fat’ scenario can be found on the Battlefront: WWII Scenarios Page.

Historically, the battle was an overwhelming Allied victory, with the 712th Division being utterly destroyed during a week of hard fighting.  As in our refight, it took 53rd (Welsh) Division two days to reach the walls of the city.  Operation SAUCEPAN, always a risky plan, proved to be a failure, but the Cromwells of 5 Skins somehow managed to infiltrate themselves between German positions by driving along the embanked railway line!  The appearance of British tanks in their rear broke German resistance west of the city.

On the night of 23/24 October, the Welsh Division successfully crossed the canals and moats and established a bridgehead within the ancient city walls.  The Germans’ problems were further exacerbated by 51st (Highland) Division’s advance on Vught, only a few miles south of the city, which was crushing the weak German 59th Infantry Division.  On the 25th and 26th, the Welsh Division continued to advance through the city, fighting bitterly from house-to-house and street-to-street, with a few canal-locks and bridges being the focal points of the most bitter fighting.  With tank ammunition running low, even truck-mounted Bofors anti-aircraft guns were brought up to provide direct fire-support to the infantry!

Despite the fall of Vught to the 51st (Highland) Division on the 26th, General Neumann still refused to surrender and on the 27th launched a last-ditch counter-attack… The German counter-attack was slaughtered and the back of German resistance in the city was broken.  German casualties are difficult to calculate, but they had lost at least 1,700 men dead and taken prisoner.  The 53rd (Welsh) Division by contrast, had suffered only 145 dead and 705 wounded, which was considerably less than predicted and far less than the typical butcher’s bill for similar Allied offensive operations on this scale.

However, the Dutch civilian populace had suffered terribly, with 253 killed and 2,100 wounded, 800 of them seriously.  Nevertheless, the Dutch people remain eternally grateful for their liberation and a memorial to 53rd (Welsh) Division, shaped like a traditional Celtic Cross, stands in the city.  I can also personally testify that as a Welshman, it is pretty hard to buy your own drink in the city! 🙂

So to the wargame… Richard de Ferrars provided most of the terrain and some of the troops, while Paddy Green and I provided lots of buildings and troops.  Martin Small excelled himself once again in converting some ‘funny’ armour for me, while Ken Natt provided some ‘specials’ for the Germans:

Above:  As the heavy and medium artillery of 3 AGRA pounds Nuland and the factory, 4 Welch Group breach the antitank ditch with the aid of AVREs, fascines, SBG bridges, bulldozers and a Churchill ARK.  The Cromwells of 5 RIDG are soon across and providing close support to the infantry.  Beyond the railway, 2 Monmouths Group advance along a very narrow corridor toward Kruisstraat.

Above:  On the British left, 1 HLI Group, supported by a squadron of 5 RTR, cross the antitank ditch and bypass Nuland; heading for Maleskamp and Coudewater.

Above:  Despite massive artillery preparation and smokescreens, the Sappers supporting 4 WELCH Group get heavily ‘stonked’ as they attempt to breach the minefields in front of Nuland.  Nevertheless, the Sappers carry out their tasks despite heavy losses and soon breach the obstacles, allowing 4 WELCH and 5 Skins to move through into Nuland and the fortified factory complex.

Above:  Hemmed in between the railway and the soggy polder land of the Maas valley, 2 MONS Group attempt to make headway along the Dyke Road to Kruisstraat, but are delayed by their own artillery barrage.

Above:  Artillery preparation on Kruisstraat causes some disruption, but the German defenders remain largely intact and wait for the British to follow up their barrage.

Above:  Grenadier-Regiment 745 is deployed in considerable depth, with a lot of heavy weaponry held in reserve – here we see the position at the Bruggen road junction.

Above:  Jagdpanthers and StuGs mass behind the ramparts of Fort Alexander, ready to mount a counter-attack. The guns of Artillerie-Regiment 1716 are deployed in the fields around Hintham and the fort.

Above:  Fort Alexander is a remnant of the outermost 18th & 19th Century defences of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but still provides a good defensive position for the waiting Fallschirmjäger.

Above:  A pre-planned strike by a squadron of Typhoons hits the Bruggen road junction. However, by sheer luck, the German commander has massed two entire flak companies in the immediate vicinity and the RAF suffers heavy losses for little gain.  The lead Typhoon pilot pulls up after delivering his bombload. His squadron-mates are not so lucky.

Above:  The Luftwaffe puts in an appearance over the battlefield.

Above:  1 HLI moves up through the woods and hedgerows towards Maleskamp. Suddenly there is contact with the enemy, as the lead Cromwell is destroyed by a waiting 88 (just off picture).

Above:  With the fighting still going on in Nuland and the factory, elements of 4 WELCH and 5 Skins bypass the defenders and push on toward ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Above:  At the tip of the advance, the leading 5 Skins Cromwell pushes warily forward into the unknown.

Above:  Füsilier-Bataillon 712 defending Nuland suffers terrible losses to artillery during the initial assault.  4 WELCH and the ‘Funnies’ make short work of the village itself and swing around to assault the southern trench-lines simultaneously from front and rear. However, the defenders of the factory are determined to go down fighting.

Above:  Now beset from all four sides, the defenders of the factory continue to hold their ground.

Above:  North of the railway, the first Cromwell to reach Kruisstraat falls victim to a German antitank gun. As the traffic jam continues to build up behind them, the British armour attempts to deploy off the Dyke Road, as infantry move up on the left. British Forward Observers and Forward Air Controllers meanwhile, attempt to find advantageous elevated positions atop the railway embankment and on industrial spoil heaps.

Above:  As the rearmost mortar positions of Füsilier-Bataillon 712 are engaged by infantry, the Cromwells push on towards the city. However, they soon run into the next German position – a strong ‘Pakfront’ of 88s, PaK 40s, self-propelled guns, Panzerschrecks and the German ‘secret weapon’… The division’s 4.2-inch mortars lay a smoke screen in front of the tanks as they attempt to deploy off the road.

Above:  The second pre-programmed British air-strike arrives, hitting the vicinity of Fort Alexander.  The German heavy armour is caught in the open as it moves forward. However, thick flak from quadruple 20mm guns puts the RAF off their aim and they cause little damage.

Above:  A Typhoon streaks low across the German armoured column.

Above:  As a Typhoon climbs out over Rosmalen, we get a good view down the long axis of the battlefield. The British are advancing from the far table edge, toward the camera.

Above:  The Luftwaffe chases the Typhoons.

Above:  Grenadier-Regiment 732 waits in Maleskamp for the British assault to reach them.

Above:  With close assistance from some AVREs, 4 WELCH finally clears the factory complex and Füsilier-Bataillon 712 is annihilated.

Above:  With the factory finally cleared, the traffic jam behind 4 WELCH finally begins to move.

Above:  At the spear-point of 4 WELCH Group’s advance, the destruction of an 88 by accurate fire from the Royal Artillery encourages the Irish cavalrymen to do something rather rash… One Cromwell soon goes down to a 75mm PaK 40, while another two (including the British squadron commander) go down to the puny 47mm gun of a Panzerjäger 35R(f).

Above:  With the leading tanks burning and their comrades under steady antitank fire, the British commander pushes up infantry and Crocodiles to take on the PaKfront.  British artillery meanwhile, pounds the German positions, but to little effect.

Above:  With several Cromwells burning in front, a Firefly now attracts enemy fire and a surviving Cromwell desperately seeks cover.  However, help is at hand as infantry from 4 WELCH and Crocodiles from 141 RAC move forward.

Above:  With Nuland cleared, General Ross decides to launch Operation SAUCEPAN! 53 RECCE is soon motoring up the southern PAN Route, with 1 E LANCS following close behind, safe in their new Kangaroos.

Above:  Part of the PaKfront in close-up – a PaK 40 is flanked by two Panzerjäger 35R(f)s, while a StuG III B covers the flank.

Above:  The ‘secret weapon’ (37mm PaK 36 on a UE 430(f)) opens up at the flank of a 5 RTR Cromwell! The Cromwell is disordered by the 37 and is then finished off by a Panzerschreck.

Above:  As Operation SAUCEPAN drives forward past Nuland, the PaKfront, having held on for as long as possible is assaulted from all sides and is annihilated.

Above:  Despite traffic jams caused by burning AFVs at the head of the column, Operation SAUCEPAN drives on through Maleskamp as the position is finally overrun by 1 HLI and 4 WELCH.  However, increasing resistance at the Coudehard Sanatorium and Windmill positions force SAUCEPAN to grind to a halt and 1 E LANCS dismounts to force the dug-in German infantry out of their trenches.

North of the railway meanwhile, 2 MONS Group was still making headway through Kruisstraat, but progress was extremely slow due to the narrow frontage and depth of the German positions.  With 1 E LANCS now becoming the main assault force south of the wailway, 4 WELCH was ordered to move north across the railway, in order to outflank the German positions.  However, the day was now coming to a close and Phase 2 of the assault would have to wait.

Some of the team (from left to right): Richard de Ferrars, Martin Small, Paul Davison, Steve Uden, Ken Natt and Mark Davies. Missing In Action are Paddy Green and Gary Loosen.  By a strange coincidence, Gary Loosen later found out that one of his relatives had died at ‘s-Hertogebosch and later attended the 70th Anniversary commemorations at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in October 2014.


Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Scenarios, World War 2, World War 2 - Netherlands & Germany Campaign 1944-45 | 9 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire: The Battle of Robleston Hall

Regular readers of this blog will remember that we were following the major actions of the Very British Civil War in Little England Beyond Wales 1938.  To recap, the King’s control of west Wales collapsed in 1938, with massive Welsh Nationalist and ‘Red’ insurrection across the country, with the King’s forces managing to hold out in besieged garrisons at Cardigan, Carmarthen, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Brecon and Crickhowell, as well as in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan and in the isolated enclave of Pembrokeshire.

However, insurrection was also brewing in the still-loyal parts of Pembrokeshire and the situation exploded with the Pembroke Castle Hill Massacre and the attempt by the Bishop of St David’s to seize the county town of Haverfordwest from the King’s forces and the capture of a military train at the Battle of Crundale.  The Bishop then also attempted to intervene in the larger war at Three Cocks, but Lord Tenby’s Royalist forces took advantage of the Bishop’s absence to launch a two-pronged counter-offensive against the Bishopric of St David’s

The opening moves of Operation ‘Shadwell’ had met with mixed success at Pelcomb Cross; the experienced regulars of the 2nd KSLI had managed to capture Pelcomb House, but the militant wing of the Campaign for Real Ale had failed in their attempt to take the Pelcomb Inn.  Nevertheless, General Ivor Picton was forced to concede the field and pulled the Roch Fencibles back from their outpost line at Pelcomb, to the main defensive line on the high ground north of the Knock Brook, centred on the villages of Keeston and Simpson Cross.  This would be a very tough nut for the Loyalists to crack.

However, Lord Margam, commanding the Loyalist Army of Pembrokeshire, had yet to play his ace: with the cream of the Bishopric Army now concentrated in the Keeston Line, other areas were now more lightly defended.  One such location was the critical bridge over the Western Cleddau River at Camrose; this had been defended by a company of the regular Roch Castle Fencibles, but they were called away to reinforce the battle at Pelcomb Cross, leaving defence of the bridge to the Camrose and Treffgarne Local Defence Volunteers.

Lord Margam struck the lightly-defended bridge swift and hard, decisively routing the bewildered LDV.  As word arrived at Roch Castle of the defeat at Camrose, General Picton immediately realised the gravity of the situation; the Loyalist forces now pouring across Camrose bridge had outflanked his entire line!  They had already attacked the Cuttybridge strongpoint from the rear and were now advancing to attack Keeston itself from the rear.  Only the remnants of the Camrose LDV, desperately holding on to positions at Furzy Mount and Robleston Hall, stood between the Blackshirts and victory!  At once, General Picton ordered his last reserves to form a flying column and to mount an immediate counter-attack to relieve the LDV, to regain Camrose and to throw the Blackshirts back across the Cleddau!  The situation could not be more desperate.

The Commanding Officer of the Camrose & Treffarne LDV, the Reverend Gethin Thomas, has managed to gather together a weak platoon of survivors and plans to defend the old mediaeval manor house of Robleston Hall, to give time for the Bishopric to mount a counter-attack. However, the Blackshirts, buoyed up by their victory at Camrose, are already hard on his heels.

The brief respite of battle is shattered as a section of Blackshirts, commanded by BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Ronald Biggsworth-Hill, opens up on the manor with rifles and Lewis Guns. A light tank from the King’s Dragoon Guards soon joins in with its heavy machine gun.  An anti-tank rifle team prudently deploys to cover the Keeston road.

With the defenders suppressed by the massive storm of lead directed against Robleston Hall, the time is ripe for BUF Storm-Commander Fussell to order his assault sections in for the kill. On the right, a platoon of the Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets prepares to assault another group of LDV, holding a house at Furzy Mount.

The LDV holding Furzy Mount spot the Greenjackets moving in the undergrowth and open up with a fusillade of rifle fire.

Commanding the defenders is Lt Col Archibald Carruthers MC, late of the 9th Royal Deccan Horse. He thoroughly enjoyed the last battle and catching up with his old India chum Gussie, but these chaps seem to be decidedly common and not the sort to enjoy a good ruck in proper sporting fashion…

As Blackshirts move past to assault Robleston Hall, Lt Christopher Gough of the Greenjackets has his own problem to deal with and urges his men forward.

The Greenjackets open up on Furzy Mount with a withering hail of rifle and Lewis Gun fire. Nevertheless, the LDV seem undeterred and return fire.

“Sgt Stace! Where are you?!  For God’s sake man!  Shout out so I can come to you!  I’m bally well lost in the brambles!  Ow!  Bloody nettles…”

Meanwhile, Biggsworth-Hill’s Blackshirts continue to pour fire into Robleston Hall. Within the hall, militiamen lie dead and wounded.

The Blackshirt assault goes in! The doors are kicked open and grenades are swiftly lobbed inside.

Only two wounded Anglican survivors stagger out of the Hall. Knowing the BUF’s reputation for brutality, they expect to be murdered at any moment, but on this occasion they’ve caught the Blackshirts in a good mood.  A Loyalist medic patches them up and they’re sent back for interrogation.  The Blackshirts push on through the Hall, but are met by a renewed volley of fire from the outbuildings, as the Reverend Thomas makes his last stand.

“Sgt Stace!  Send a man back to beat down these nettles for me! ”

At Furzy Mount, Sgt Stace of the Greenjackets continues to direct fire against the Anglican defenders, who are starting to suffer casualties.

Greenjackets fix bayonets and ready grenades…

As the Greenjacket assault goes in on the front door, Lt Col Carruthers and his surviving men make good their escape out of the back door… How easy is it to ride a Welsh Black, one wonders…?

With their objective taken, Greenjacket patrols push forward to make contact with the enemy. As they advance, their platoon commander’s cries of nettle-induced anguish recede in the distance…

But here come the cavalry! Spearheaded by cavalry and armour, General Picton’s flying column arrives at Dudwells and pushes on to the aid of the militia.

“Come back, you silly sods! Don’t you know it’s the 20th Century?!”  A tank commander’s cries are lost, as the Pembroke Post Office Lancers, their pith helmets festooned with spare elastic-bands in the finest traditions of the Post Office (you never know when they might come in handy for parcelling up loot or prisoners), scent blood and charge off to glory, medals and a well-earned cuppa.

The Pembroke Post Office Lancers are part of the Albertine contingent sent by sea from Pembroke Dock to reinforce the Bishopric. The Albertines are unquestionably well-trained and well-equipped, but they are insufferably smug.  With skills honed to perfection on the tent-pegging field, the ‘Parcel Force’ charge through the defile at Dudwells to the green fields beyond…

… Pausing only briefly to do the day’s scheduled 2nd Collection at Dudwells Post Box…

Without any visible enemy, the Mounted Posties put on a fine display of impromptu tent-pegging.

They might be silly buggers, but they’re silly buggers with style, panache and bulging sacks.

However, nobody likes a show-off… Least of all Blackshirts with a Vickers Machine Gun… A long burst of fire scythes into the leading section of lancers, cutting two of them down.  A third is thrown from his horse and into the Camrose Brook.

Once they stop laughing, the St David’s Armoured Corps advances to take on the Blackshirt machine gun. At the rear of the column, the sound of “Ten Green Bottles” and “Stop The Bus, I Want a Wee-Wee” being sung lustily, announces the arrival of the motorised infantry.

The Anglican armour moves forward, but is soon engaged in a duel to the death with the BUF anti-tank rifle team.  As the armour provides supporting fire, the Post Office Lancers gallop for cover among the undergrowth skirting the Camrose Brook.

Meanwhile, back at Robleston Hall, the Reverend Thomas decides that he can hold out no longer and that discretion might be the better part of valour. God does help those who help themselves, after all…  He and his men break cover and run as fast as they can for the safety of Dudwells and the relief column.

Seeing the LDV fleeing from Robleston Hall, BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Biggsworth-Hill has a rush of blood to the head and breaks cover in an attempt to cut off the enemy retreat. However, a new enemy has the deuced bad manners to machine-gun his men in the open!  The bounders!

Other Blackshirts attempt to give covering fire, but they too are now coming under fresh enemy fire from Dudwells.

The fresh arrivals are the Bishop of St David’s Foot Guards. Formed chiefly from former members of the disbanded Welsh Guards, they are very experienced and highly-disciplined soldiers.  With covering fire being provided by the armoured lorry’s Lewis Gun, the Guards quickly dismount and begin engaging the Blackshirts.

Seeing Blackshirts in the open, the Bishop’s Foot Guards unleash months’ worth of pent-up frustration at being made to wear such ridiculous uniforms and being called ‘Chocolate Soldiers’ by children and their Albertine allies!

With the Blackshirts hard on their heels and with bullets whizzing past their ears, the Reverend Thomas’ last surviving men leg it!

The King’s Dragoon Guards’ sole tank moves to support the anti-tank rifle team and begins to engage the Anglican light tank. One of the anti-tank rifle gunners is wounded, but they continue firing.

Meanwhile, back at Furzy Mount, a particularly officious policeman causes delay to the reserve BUF unit, but they are finally moving forward again.

The KDGs’ tank is hit by 13mm heavy machine gun fire from the Anglican tank! With a track blown off, the KDGs are now immobilised.  Nevertheless, with commendable courage, they remain in their tank and continue firing at the enemy armour!

The KDGs’ belligerence pays off as they score hits on the enemy tank, damaging the running gear. The Anglican tank crew panic and bail out, taking cover behind their stricken tank.  The KDGs keep firing and succeed in causing further damage to the Anglican tank.

Suddenly there is a screech of brakes and tyres, followed by a crash and a lot of Australian-accented swearing! The Albertine Australian Light Horse have arrived… By bus…

As one section of Australians takes up position in the house, another moves forward to the hedgerow and takes the BUF under heavy fire. The second bus arrives and disgorges another section of infantry and a Vickers Machine Gun team.  The Vickers Gun also takes up position in the house.

Resplendent in their ‘Kangaroo Feathers’ dyed Albertine purple, the Australians cut quite a dash despite their lack of horses. The regiment was formed from RAAF airmen, who were waiting to receive a delivery of new Saro flying boats at RAF Pembroke Dock, but were stranded when the war broke out.  Being Australians, they formed a surfers’ colony at Freshwater West beach for a few months, but eventually grew bored and decided to join up for fights and giggles.

Despite achieving a marked fire superiority over the BUF, the Foot Guards suffer casualties as the two men manning the lorry’s Lewis Gun are cut down by enemy fire. Undaunted, the Foot Guards’ CO and standard-bearer heroically man the Lewis Gun, providing an inspiration to all who witness it.

While the Anglican tank crew cower behind their tank, their colleagues in the armoured car move forward in an attempt to finish off the Royalist tank and the pesky anti-tank rifle team.

The Blackshirts are now starting to suffer heavy casualties from the enormous weight of fire being put down by the Guards and Australians. Their only hope now is for the Greenjackets to get weaving and flank the Australians.

“View Halloo!” Meanwhile, a section of the Post Office Lancers is distracted by a fox and some belligerent sheep…

The Lancers have a grand old time, chasing sheep along the Camrose Valley…

Exasperated, the Squadron Commander orders the bugler to sound the Recall in a desperate attempt to get his men to do something useful!

Finally back in some sort of order, the Post Office Lancers sneak along the Camrose Valley in an attempt to flank the BUF anti-tank rifle team.

Bored with sheep, the wayward cavalry section spots more interesting quarry – two wounded anti-tank gunners. They charge…

…Straight into the sights of the BUF Vickers MG team… To the horror of all those watching, the 20th Century finally catches up with the Lancers, as they are mercilessly cut down in a hail of fire.  The Squadron Commander tries to encourage the rest of his men to charge the MG, but to no avail.  Finally, the Australian MG manages to find the range and exacts revenge on the BUF machine-gunners on the Lancers’ behalf.

Meanwhile, the Anglican tank crew have finally plucked up the courage to remount their tank, despite the hail of incoming fire. However, the KDGs have now found the range…

Having re-mounted their stricken tank, the Anglican tankies’ enthusiasm is short lived as their tank brews up, forcing them to bail out once again.

“Sod this for a game of soldiers!” With the Foot Guards’ jeers ringing in their ears, the Anglican tank crew make good their escape.

“I wonder if that bus is a runner…?”

The St David’s Tank Corps’ day gets even worse as the armoured car loses its duel with the anti-tank rifle team. This time nobody escapes the conflagration.

The Foot Guards, far from being alarmed by the failure of their armoured support, just shrug and keep pouring fire into the Blackshirts, who are now starting to pull back and break under the strain.

A St John’s Ambulance Cadet tends to the wounded Guardsmen in the back of the armoured lorry.

The newly-arrived Australians, seeing Reverend Thomas and his men fleeing across the field toward them, pour fire into the stable-buildings of Robleston Hall, which are now occupied by the Blackshirts. The accurate Australian fire causes considerable damage and the Blackshirts pull back, leaving half their number dead in the stables.  One Australian is wounded in the hedgerows by return fire, though the Australians in the house are now receiving the attentions of the enemy tank and are pinned down, with casualties.

With the rest of the Blackshirts dead, wounded or retreating, the reserve Section moves up to cover their withdrawal. BUF Storm-Leader 2nd Class Biggsworth-Hill, the hero of Camrose Bridge, is reported as Missing.  The KDGs, duty done, set fire to their disabled tank and make good their escape on foot.

The Reverend Thomas finally reaches safety, though only two of his men are left alive at the end of their ordeal. Lt Col Carruthers is missing along with his men, while two men are known to be prisoners of the Blackshirts, poor devils… Nevertheless, the enemy has been halted and is falling back to Camrose.  The Keeston Line is safe (for now).

Game Notes

The figures are mostly by Footsore Miniatures (formerly known as Musketeer Miniatures) and Empress Miniatures.

The Pembroke Post Office Lancers are Empress Miniatures.  The Australian Light Horse are by Battle Honours, with Lewis Gunners by Woodbine Miniatures.  Both units are painted by Al Broughton.

The livestock are by Redoubt Enterprises.

The AFVs are mostly by Warlord Games with crews by Empress Miniatures, though the Lancia Armoured Lorry is by Footsore Miniatures.  The buses are die-cast souvenir ‘Malta Buses’, bought while on holiday in Malta.

The houses are pre-coloured laser-cut models by 4Ground Models.  The farm buildings used for Robleston Hall are from EM4 Miniatures’ beautiful resin farm set.  Other terrain items were scratch-built by Al ‘Skippy’ Broughton.

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.  We meet every Tuesday 7-11pm at 1st Pembroke Scout HQ, Pennar, Pembroke Dock.



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