Des’ Shed Game 3: Quatre Bras, GdB.

At the start of June Des had arranged another great day of gaming in his shed (with the added bonus of watching the Champion’s League Final after too). This time we would be tackling Quatre Bras. I reckon that this is a battle that might have been attempted by most Napoleonic wargamers at least once, as I think as it is just big enough/not too big for most rulesets to handle, it could go one way or the other and it has a nice variety of troops involved. In fact we had had a go at it at the club a couple of Christmases ago and then my French chaps had been thwarted in our attempts to gain the crossroads by stubborn resistance from the Dutch-Belgians that enabled the reinforcing Brits enough time to turn up and really spoil the day.

This time I would be taking on the mantle of the Jonny Cash of the Napoleonic world, the Duke of Brunswick, and would be in charge of that ‘great moving hearse’ that was the Brunswick contingent (as well as some Hannoverian types). My fellow allies would be Warren who would be in command of the Dutch-Belgians, and using his extensive knowledge of Dutch profanity to bring added realism to the role, and Paul who was taking the British units with all the sang froid of the Duke himself. We faced some stiff opposition with Andy, Martin and Des (when not wearing his umpires hat) taking control of the French. So after tea and coffees were dished out we made our way to the shed and were presented with a glorious sight as Des had really pulled the stops out setting the table for this one, it was instantly recognisable as the battlefield and looked bloody marvellous. One noticeable thing about the table set up was Des had included more ground North of Quatre bras than you usually see on a table which meant if the French took the village there was still room for the arriving allied forces to deploy from the march to counter the threat instead of being bottled up due to ‘edge of the world’ syndrome.

After a quick briefing about scenario specific rules (we were using a ‘joker’ system to either speed up Allied or slow down French formations as well as variable entry of units and we also agreed on being strict on using written orders too) and a quick get together to get plans sorted we got to it. Obviously there wasn’t much for either Paul or I to do for the first couple of moves as our commands were still wending their way south from Brussels or across from Nivelles but Warren was engaged from the off with his Nassauers in the Bossu wood coming under attack from at least a Brigade. Whilst this was happening the French were trying to deploy their other Infantry Divisions and Cavalry to engage the waiting Dutch infantry but were held up somewhat by Paul and Warren playing their jokers (we had one each and once played they would hold up an enemy Division for one move OR allow one of our Divisions to accelerate one move along the reinforcement schedule) but they had managed to move one command along the road to Thyle. As is his wont Warren decided that a forward defence was best and moved all of his lads forwards to try and delay the French as much as possible and as far as possible from the crossroads and pretty soon all of his Division was committed to action and were giving the French a tough fight ably aided by the authentic admonishments of their commander.

Meanwhile Paul and I had eventually arrived on the battlefield after being held up in a godawful traffic jam on the Chausee (we both were failing rolls to get our lads on table), and started moving off to the sound of the guns. We pretty soon received our orders from Wellington with Picton’s rascals being directed to the ridges just south of Quatre Bras to take up the defence from the hard pressed but still stubbornly holding on Cloggies. The Brunswickers were to move to the left and contain the French division that was heading to Thyle, I had delayed them with my joker but we had no units on that flank and it was looking a bit up in the air. The arriving cavalry of Merlen’s brigade were quickly dispatched forwards to aid their countrymen and Warren wasted no time in committing them to the maelstrom near Gemincourt.

Down in the Bossu, the Nassauers were finally near to breaking point after seeing off repeated attacks since the very start of the battle and break they eventually did but luckily for us the survivors managed to reform to the west of the wood and draw off at least some of the Andy’s lads from exploiting northwards to keep an eye on them. Another factor that aided the allies here was the time that it took Andy to get the remainder of his force moving along the track through the wood which would have caused us to be outflanked, luckily for us Des had confiscated his ‘Blue Dice of Doom’ earlier in the day and he was having a terrible time changing orders! Whilst the Nassauers were going through their trevails the constant pressure Martin had been exerting in the centre was finally beginning to tell and Warren was pushed further and further back, albeit whilst scoring victories here and there against the French invader.

Help was at hand however as Picton and his men had finished deploying and promptly stepped off to attack the French that were on the verge of breaking through, whilst fresh reserves of Netherlands and Hannoverian infantry were arriving along the Nivelles road that we started deploying across the north of the wood to stop Andy’s advance. The Guard Division was also near at hand too going into reserve around Quatre Bras whilst I had finally managed to deploy my lads across the stream from Thyle to shore up the left flank. Unfortunately it was at this point that we ran out of time and so had to leave things just as the battle was about to enter its second phase which I think, to be honest, would have been a tough ask for the French to gain a victory from. It seemed that the Allies had more fresh units than the French and with the potential of more arriving the pendulum would have definitely swung our way.

Again it was an absolutely cracking game and even though I didn’t manage to roll a dice in anger all day I had an absolute blast! The French were unlucky trying to change orders for some of their formations, apart from Andy’s lads on the right Des had problems with his Division once they had taken Thyle. Both of these delays granted the Allies just enough time to get reserves into blocking positions and things would have been very sticky for us if this hadn’t happened. Warren was definitely man of the match for me, holding off both Andy in the wood and the constant attacks of Martin in the centre he bought time for Paul and I to get up and bloodied the French’s nose enough to give us an advantage in any further fighting. As usual it wouldn’t have been quite as enjoyable if it wasn’t for the gents around the table, a pleasure as always sirs. Also, as usual many thanks to Mrs D. for the fantastic spread at half time and to Des for putting on another cracker and for the refreshments for the footy too. That there was the mother of all thunderstorms on the way home made it the perfect end to the day really (dirty cheating Spanish centre-half’s aside).

 

Des’ Shed Game 2: Dennewitz, 15mm General de Brigade

For his next big game at his shed, Des decided on getting his fantastic 15mm Napoleonics on the table and picked Dennewitz as the chosen battle to have a go at. I was well chuffed with his choice as the 1813 campaign is just fascinating and I was looking forward to seeing how this battle would translate to the table-top, not that I was worried it wouldn’t be much cop after taking part in the Dresden and Liebertwolkwitz games Des had put on at the club previously (see elsewhere on here).

Del and I would be in charge of the Allies which was great for me as it meant that I could take charge of the Wurttembergers and Italians again, 2 of my favourite forces from the period as they are just fantastic looking troops and aren’t too shabby when it gets down to the fighting too! We would be up against Martin and Andy who would be in charge of the massive Prussian wave that was about to break on us (Des was umpiring and helping out the Prussians later too) so a tough fight was definitely on the cards.

(As usual click on the pics for a better view)

The battle started with my Italians deployed over the stream facing off against Martin’s Prussians, I was tasked with engaging them to keep them away from Del’s French who strung out along the road, the Wurttemberger’s were being held in reserve. With Martin’s Teutonic horde a long cannon shot away the action on this flank started quickly and developed into an intense and interesting action. I advanced one of my Brigades and my Cavalry to take the fight to the Prussians and soon they were locked in a bitter struggle with the Prussians who stymied my advance as their blokes on horses with nasty pointy sticks caused me to keep some battalions in square until my cavalry could see them off. Martin then hit me with some infantry and soon the fight looked like it was going the Prussian’s way but even though I had a couple of battalions break, the rest managed to hang on and I launched some counter-attacks in that steadied the situation. I was quite pleased with how it had gone, Martin is a very able opponent and I still had an infantry Brigade uncommitted by the end of the day which I think could have made the difference if we carried on longer as I believe most of his force had been engaged and the fresh units might have just tipped the balance.

 

Over on my left Del had managed to shake his leading brigades out from their road columns and were advancing with proper Gallic gusto towards the advancing Prussian command debouching from table edge. As usual in these big games it is always very difficult to really gauge what is going on in other people’s fights but pretty soon Del and Andy’s commands were involved in a brutal fight for control of the centre of the field which swung one way and another all day and included a great whirling cavalry battle. Things then started to look grim as Des’ Prussian Brigade hoved into view deep behind our left flank. The Wurttembergers were promptly dispatched to deal with this new threat and they carried it out with aplomb, advancing with dash and had just started to get the upper hand when we had to stop.

It was a right shame that we ran out of time as the battle was finely balanced, we seemed like we were about to break the Prussians on our left flank and had some reinforcements entering the field but the Wurst-worriers also had some uncommitted reserves which might have turned up too. Having said that it was a cracking days wargaming and as usual thanks go out to all the were involved and three times three for Mr D for his great hospitality and for putting on such a splendid fight. Also apologies to the chaps for the tardiness in getting this posted which means I’ve been a bit sketchy on the details but hopefully the pics make up for that! If there’s anything I missed out let me know and I’ll do a quick edit.

 

 

 

 

Des’ Shed Game 1: WW2 IABSM

Back in December I was invited to Des’ inaugural big game in his new shed-o-war, that I haven’t posted about it yet has been bugging me so I’ll try and remember what happened to get something down at last. The game was a WW2 Normandy bash using I Ain’t Been Shot Mum by the Lardies and Des’ lovely 20mm collection.

I was in charge of the Canadian forces (the first mistake made by our side!) and I was ably assisted by Andy and Daren. We were tasked with advancing and clearing the immediate area to our front of some nasty Boshce that were led by Des and Ian. After a quick ‘O’ group with the chaps we decided that Andy would take the dismounted infantry company through the fields along the left flank supported by the flail tank. I would be in charge of the Recce detachments and would barrel up the road in the centre and scout the right flank, I was also in charge of the reserve of a tank Squadron. Daren would take another tank Squadron with a Kangaroo mounted infantry platoon along the right and would react to what the scouts found. The idea was to keep things as simple as possible and hold on to the reserve until either one of the two flanking groups were in dire trouble or to exploit any success that they had.

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12 feet of Norman countryside.

We got lucky with our 3 pre-game stonks setting fire to 2 of the buildings that we targeted, one of which being the church thus negating the use of its steeple to any Fritzy FOO’s, and Andy started things off by advancing down the left while the scouts cars nosed along the road in the centre and the right. Andy’s lads were quickly engaged after running into some enemy infantry and a fierce fight swiftly ensued and pretty soon it looked like it was time for an assault to go in to clear some of the Germans out. As the reserve Sherman’s were not being let go from the reserve (their card was not coming up) to support the impending attack Andy chucked his attached Sherman Flail into the fray and mighty impressive looking it was too as it churned its way through the hedgerow where the enemy lay. Unfortunately the attack faltered due to some heroic defending by the Landser (absolutely jammiest of jammy dice throw!) although they didn’t hang on too long afterwards and withdrew to the rear just as a couple of StuG’s opened up and dispatched the Flail.

While this attack was going on Andy was keeping more infantry located by the burning farmhouse pinned down in a firefight with one of his platoons which let the Daimlers work their way gingerly down the road onto the flank of the dug-in defenders. Unfortunately one of the cars was taken out by a German anti-tank weapon fired by the infantry but the survivor managed to get round the flank and revenge was served by brassing them up. The Jerries didn’t like this much and they soon broke and the left flank was looking open for the reserve tanks to start moving through with only the StuG’s seemingly in the way. However, things weren’t going so well over on the right.

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The Daimlers creeping down the lanes spent quite a while nosing gingerly forwards expecting any moment to be on the receiving end of general German nastiness in the shape of a Panzerfaust or ‘schreck. When it did come it was more of a massive clang as one of the cars was hit by some high velocity 75mm from a Panther hiding in a stand of trees. The surviving car was in somewhat of a pickle as it was immobilised with the next shot so decided to have a go back with its 2pdr and a seemingly one sided duel ensued. What seemed like a futile gesture on behalf of the recce types ended up being one of those great gaming moments as the German gunner couldn’t land a hit whilst the Armoured Car kept on hitting the target eventually causing enough shock to the Panther crew that it had to withdraw! The cheers of the watching Canadians were quickly silenced however when another Panther opened up knocking out the gallant Daimler, just not cricket really but medals all round.

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Panther ambush!
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Take that Jerry!
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Panther about to pull out.

While this was going on Daren had moved his armoured infantry up and they were cruelly ambushed by another German infantry platoon and pretty soon most of the Kangaroo’s were burning due to attention from the remaining Panther and Panzerfaustings although some of the infantry survived to fight on. A terrific close range firefight then ensued across the hedgerow which the Allies finally won thanks to the HMG’s on the surviving APC’s which tipped the balance and finally saw the German footsloggers break. Unfortunately we still hadn’t managed to get any of our Sherman’s into action yet and were unable to as we had to stop due to time getting on.

So at the end of play we had managed to break the initial line of resistance and force the German infantry to bug out but at no small loss to our own infantry and Armoured Cars, we still had 2 units of tanks that were uncommitted but still had a couple of Panthers and a couple of StuG’s to worry about and as we found out that the Germans also had a couple of Tigers lurking around the church we were sort of  glad that we didn’t carry on as we didn’t fancy our chances much! We reckoned a draw was a fair result, we broke into their position but sort of got stuck doing so.

It was a great days gaming and a cracking way to christen Des’ shed. Big thanks to him for putting the game on and a keeping us fed and watered all day and a massive thanks to Mrs D. for the fantastic lunch too. As usual cheers to the chaps for making a great day’s gaming better by being their usual fun selves, a pleasure as always gents. Stay tuned for the next instalment from chez Darkin as we grind our way through Dennewitz in 15mm.

 

Club Night 25/09/17: FFT3, Austrians vs Soviets.

I really need to get back into the swing of posting, been thinking of a bit of a change to a couple of things and will get started once I’m caught up with these Club Night posts. Anyway as I had just finished off painting my new T-64 Regiment and it had been a while since the Austrians had a run out I decided to get them both on the table. Comrade Noakesavitch would be leading the mighty Red Army as usual and I would be taking over Kampfgruppe Grüber to try and stop their advance. Dan’s orders were to take the road junction at the end of the table to enable the advance on Vienna to continue.

Before we started Dan and I had a quick conversation about recce and how we both don’t like the usual ‘recce by death’ that usually happens so we cobbled together something on the fly. As my forces recce element was a couple platoons of Jeeps with MG’s I said that they would have fallen back before the heavier Soviet recce element and hence Dan could place his platoons anywhere up to the line of terrain features (hills/fields) in front of the stream (the dark green line) that bisected the table. This was near enough to my forward positions without initiating close combat but close enough to maybe ‘spot’ something or get a sound contact. Dan then rolled against his QC rating to see if he spotted anything, he didn’t definitely spot anything but he was aware of a couple of my positions – we will be working on this for future games.

Dan’s Tank Regt comprised the following, rated as Conscript (-1 to hit and Quality of 4):

  • Regimental Base
    • 1 HQ stand
    • 1 ACRV FOO
    • 1 ZSU-23-4
    • 1 SA-13 Gopher
    • 2 recon BRDM-2
  • 3 Tank Btlns
    • 6 T-62
  • BMP Btln
    • 1 Cmnd BMP-2
    • 2 SP Vasliek 82mm Mortars
    • 1 AGS-17 30mm AGL (BMP-1)
    • 1 AT-7 Saxhorn atgm team (BMP-1)
    • 9 Inf (BMP-2)
  • (Off table) Regt Art Btln – 3 x sp 122mm
  • (Off table) 2 Div Art Btlns – 3 x sp 152mm
  • (Off table) 3 MRLS units
  • Mi-24 Helicopters
  • SU-25

The valiant Austrian ‘Kampfgruppe Grüber’ consisted of the following, rated as ‘Regular’  (Quality 4):

  • Kmpfgp base
    • 1 HQ Stand
    • 2 recon Jeeps/MG
    • 1 M42 Duster
    • 1 Gr81 sp81mm Mortar
  • Jagdpanzer Coy
    • 3 Sk-105 Kurassier
  • 2 x Panzer Coys
    • 3 M60a3
  • 2 x Panzer-Grenadier Coys
    • 3 PzGren (4k4f mg)
    • 1 PzGren/Bill atgm (4k4f 20mm)
  • (Off table) Bgde Art Btln – 3 x sp155mm
  • (Off table) Corp Art Btln – 3 x towed 105mm
  • (Off table) 1 MRLS unit
  • Draken

I could also call on another Kampfgruppe of the same composition (minus the Jagdpanzer company and off table supports) as a reserve.

My plan was to try and slow the advance down by placing a PzGren company in the central village near the stream and to keep the rest of my force back so as to hopefully prevent it all being destroyed too quickly then to counter-attack once my reserve showed up. Dan did a classic Soviet attack, the Motor Rifle battalion was dispatched straight up the road headed for the central village with a Tank battalion advancing on each flank with the third in reserve. He also started laying down a sustained barrage on the village which immediately caused suppressions on the defending PanzerGrenadiers. Due to his earlier recce he also brought fire down on the hedgeline to the left of the village and suppressed some of the APC’s there (these were from the lads holding the village).

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The Austrian view and deployment: Lt Green are PzGrenadier positions, Black are Panzer, Pink is PzJager and Yellow Recon. Red ‘flag’ is HQ.

These bombardments continued for a while as the Soviets moved up to the stream, all the time keeping the garrison of the village suppressed whilst Dan prepared for the assault. I, on the other hand, was having trouble calling my artillery in at all – damn that Soviet jamming of my radio nets! To make things worse Dan was consistently winning the initiative and was slowly accruing a hefty amount of command pips even though he was spending some on keeping his artillery going. Then things got even tougher for the PanzerGrenadiers when a massive MRLS barrage landed on the village taking out one platoon and supressing the rest which allowed the assault that followed to succeed at the first rush, albeit at the cost of one Motor Rifle platoon.

Whilst this was going on in the centre the Soviet tanks on the flanks had reached the stream and those on my left got busy trying to brew up the APC’s stuck by the hedge due to being constantly suppressed by artillery, with two platoons soon ko’d and one having legged it due to failing its Quality check the last survivor also made for the rear. This whole side of the battlefield was now only defended by the Panzer company situated at the hill to the rear. Over on my right flank Dan had pushed one of his recce platoons forward along the stream to recce my positions and I was forced to try and take it out with a SK105 platoon as I wanted to keep the tanks here hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately I missed with the first attempt due to the plucky BRDM-2 crews taking advantage of the cover afforded by the streams trees and bushes (bloody saving throws!). The Soviet recce types then duly located my Panzers on the ridge and got off a report to HQ.

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I was now expecting to be on the receiving end of some artillery attention whilst waiting for the mass of T-64’s advancing on the stream to surge forward to take on the M60’s but Dan had other ideas and used some of his Command Pips to call in an airstrike. He then rolled very well for the load carried by the SU-25 (mind you nearly every load carried by one of these will spoil your day!) and pretty soon I was on the receiving end of masses of cluster bombs and other general nastiness that destroyed one of the 2 targeted Patton’s whilst causing the other to fail a quality test. This convinced the remaining platoon to also re-locate in a rearward direction, bugger.

 

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Achtung, Jabo!

 

Things were now officially ‘somewhat sticky’ for the Austrians, I still could not wrest initiative from Dan and had only managed to accrue 1 measly Command Pip which was not enough to get my reserves into action and my force was down nearly 50% of its initial strength. So, what to do: I decided to re-deploy the PanzerJager company towards the centre to replace the missing Panzer company and hoped to win the initiative and then release my reserves otherwise I was onto a hiding. Whilst I started moving the Kurassiers the Soviet Tank battalion that was advancing on my right had made it to the stream and the recce platoon here moved across the stream where it was taken out by a Bill ATGM from the PanzerGrenadiers in the wood there. I also managed to supress some tank platoons when I actually managed to call in all of my M109 batteries at last.

Over on the other flank Dan had crossed the stream to the left of the village and here too I managed to score a partial success with my artillery calling in a strike from the Army MRLS battery which succeeded in suppressing the whole battalion and causing so much confusion that it caused them to halt for a turn to sort themselves out, this was however, very much a last hurrah (indeed a first hurrah really!). My hopes in calling forth my reserve was dashed again as Dan retained the initiative and as the ominous form of a Hind helicopter had also entered the field by this time I decided enough was enough and gave the order to withdraw to preserve what was left of my force for the future.

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As usual it was a cracking game with Dan, who is always a pleasure to play against, he used his artillery to maximum effect supressing my lads in the village constantly then unleashing a massive final blow with his rockets before the assault went in – textbook stuff really. He also used his command pips well, allowing his artillery to keep firing and keeping enough in reserve to unleash his air support when needed. I did suffer from not gaining initiative apart from once but that was sort of satisfying as it means that the new initiative rules work, sometimes it just aint your day. I do actually sometimes like it when that happens as it adds to the challenge, although having said that I will be getting the Austrian MANPAD bases done soon to help out against Soviet airpower in future ‘cos those Frogfoot’s are beasts!

 

 

 

Club Night 18/09/2017: FFT3: Alt-History Hungarians vs Poles

It had been a while since Alex and I had had a bash at FFT and he had just finished the first few bits of his Alt-history Hungarian army (good to see that a few others have run with my idea by the way!) and said that he had an ‘Advanced Guard’ unit ready of about 5 companies strong so I duly picked the Polish Armoured Cavalry Regt to take them on. Unfortunately I can’t find the pics that I took, which might be a good thing!

It was a classic meeting engagement type affair which was fitting given the forces involved I thought and the plan was for us to fight over control of two villages that would secure a local road network. There were a few hills and woods scattered around to break the terrain up. I had split my force into 2 equal parts both of which consisted of:

  • 1 Striker
  • 1 Vickers mk3 Coy (3 tanks)
  • 1 infantry Coy in Stormer-20’s (3 bases each)
  • 1 Scorpion-90 Coy (3 tanks)

The Regimental HQ had the AD and mortar bases and each of the 2 battalion groups were tasked to take a village each. I also planned to do so in a similar fashion with both groups: Infantry and Scorpions to make a dash for the village if possible whilst the tanks and Strikers went into overwatch from the ridges to the rear.

I thought that this plan was sound but come acropper from the outset as soon as Alex’s Leopard 2A4 company hit the table. I’m just 2 moves they had moved through a wood on the extreme left of the battlefield, engaged and destroyed the left hand Vickers company and attached Striker whose defensive fire could do nowt but suppress the mighty Leopards. After the destruction of the first tank company the Leopards were now in the rear of my position and even though I had managed to secure the villages with my infantry the Leopards had proceeded to brew up my remaining tanks with long range fire which I just couldn’t reply to and soon I was left with no choice but to concede defeat!

So possibly the quickest game I’ve ever had (4 moves in total!!) and a good example of why everyone uses Leopard 2’s in real life, they’re bloody beasts! Thanks to Alex for the game but next time he might have to face the Polish Vickers Mk.7 which should give a more even fight!

Club Night 11/09/17: More Big CoC, Normandy ’44.

It’s been a while since we played this game, so the write up will be brief especially as I didn’t seem top take many pics for some reason which usually helps jog my memory.

Anyway it was supposed to be a sort of reverse game of the one fought out a few weeks before between Daren, Mike and myself but this time with me controlling the defending Germans against Mike and Daren attacking with the Brits. On the night though we were joined by Bart as he didn’t have a game and wanted to try out Chain of Command. The Brits had 2 infantry platoons and a tank platoon of 3 Sherman’s one of which was a Firefly. For support they brought a Carrier Section and a Churchill which just wasn’t cricket! To face this horde we had a standard Heer platoon (Commanded by me) with a HMG and Mortar FOO in support along with a mixed armour platoon of 2 PzIV’s and a Somua half track mounted PAK-40 that Bart was in charge of.

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The field of battle looking from the German lines

The patrol phase was an even affair but the Brits rolled really well for morale with 10’s and 11’s whereas we were at 8’s and 9’s, but we were sort of confident. Our plan was to engage the armour from as far back as possible and once we knew where the bulk of the infantry were get some mortar stonkiness on them to get them pinned or to at least deny as much of the ground as possible to the attackers so that we could try and take the larger number of enemy infantry on with less chance of being outflanked or over-run.

The Brits had decided on a very bold plan though getting all of their infantry sections on the table as soon as possible with the armour also getting involved quickly too. This did force us to deploy our tanks as quickly as possible and I also had to get some infantry on to prevent a JOP from being taken. We also managed to get the FOO going from our first phase and soon the mortar’s were in action catching 2 sections of advancing Tommies and a Senior Leader in the fire zone. However after one phase a triple 6 was rolled which put the kibosh on the barrage as we didn’t have a CoC dice yet. To add to our woes we failed to get in contact with the battery in the next activation and then when we tried again we rolled up the dreaded ‘not available again’ result. Things were now officially a bit sticky.

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Our short lived mortar barrage – damn those ammo shortages!

While this was happening Bart’s panzers had been engaging the British armour from long range and whilst one of the PzIV’s kept getting hits on the Churchill it just refused to be damaged due to its great armour. The other PzIV did cause some major damage to one of Daren’s sections when it caught them crossing open ground but it didn’t have any luck against the Sherman’s it was duelling with and succumbed to a long range shot from the Firefly. Pretty soon the surviving PzIV was also burning as it was ganged up on by the numerically superior Allied tanks, which had managed to survive the duel without much damage.

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Brits advance….

With the failure of the mortar barrage to help slow down the advancing infantry I was forced to get the remainder of the German infantry on table to try and deal with the British advance. This went as well as the rest of our attempts had done through the rest of the battle with me losing a section trying to win back a lost JOP. I holed one section up in a house after that but our morale was plummeting badly and the impetus was well and truly with the British. Both tanks were out of action and when the SP PAK was also knocked out it was obvious that we had no chance of winning as the Brits could just sit back and shell the crap out of us with their tanks whilst their superior number of infantry moved forward to secure JOP’s and the objective at the T-junction. We might have been able to shred a section or two but we decided discretion was the better part and withdrew.

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.. relentlessly on

So a sound drubbing for the Bosche but as usual a good fun game which lessened the blow somewhat. If we could have kept the mortars going for a bit longer it would have evened things up somewhat and also losing the armour fight so comprehensibly (no fault of Barts by the way he was very unlucky a couple of times not to brew up a Sherman) meant that we were on a hiding to nothing but c’est la guerre and all that!

 

General de Brigade: Plancenoit, 1815

A couple of Sundays ago I had the absolute pleasure in having been invited round to Andy’s shed of war for a large 15mm Napoleonic game of General de Brigade. To say that I was looking forward to this game from the moment that I received the invite and the date was set for the game is an understatement. I had heard about the quality of the games that he had put on in the past so was chomping at the bit to be involved. I’m extremely glad to say that I was not disappointed in any way, it was a truly fantastic days wargaming.

As soon as I entered the shed that the game was being played in (I reckon these places should have a snappy name as ‘shed’ doesn’t quite cut it really, does it?) I was confronted with a truly great spectacle. Even if I didn’t know what battle was due to be fought I’d have known straight away from the terrain on the table, it could only be Plancenoit. Andy had done a marvellous job in constructing the bespoke terrain for the refight, really bringing to life all the maps of the area that I’ve studied in the past. The thousand or two figures already lined up ready would have given another clue if needed. Honestly I’m afraid my pics do not do the scene justice!

After a bacon roll and a cuppa, supplied by Mrs T. and very much appreciated, Andy got to the briefing and explained the ADC rules that we would be using to us – we were using standard GdB rules but with house rules concerning ADC’s to activate/change orders – and both sides got their heads together to plan the upcoming fight.

I was on the Prussian team with Del and Martin. We would be taking control of Bulow’s IV Corp tasked with taking the village of Plancenoit and we had 20 turns in which to do so. Del wore the C-in-c’s hat and would be responsible for the assault on the village with 15th and 16th Brigades under command. Martin was to take the right flank responsible for defeating the French to our front with the 13th and 14th Brigades.  I was to take the Cavalry reserve, Corp Artillery and Tipplekirch’s Brigade of II Corps when it arrived, my orders being to support Martins assault on Lobau’s line whilst seeing off the French Reserve battery in the centre with our own Reserve artillery to hopefully open a gap in the centre of the French position to be exploited later. The dastardly French were controlled by Andy, Simon and Des who just had to hold on as best they could and prevent us from taking the village. They were in command of Lobau’s VI Corp with some Young and Old Guard types scheduled to turn up some time or other to make things harder for us.

So with plans made, tea and bacon consumed we got at it. The first thing that we noticed as the Prussians was that we would have problems making our numerical superiority work to our advantage as the terrain and troop density meant that we would have to attack in ‘waves’, passing one unit through another. This was certainly the case for Martin and myself as our units were activated to a schedule so we had to get moving with what we had on hand first and then follow up with the rest when it became available, which was actually quite a realistic problem to have and added to the flavour to the game I thought. Anyway Del started by moving forward to the village and started prepping the defenders for the assaults that were about to start and then continue for the rest of the day and Martin launched his lead Brigade towards the line of French on the right flank. I opened the bombardment of the French battery and started off well inflicting losses straight away whilst my huge Landwehr Cavalry Brigade advanced to support Martins lads by covering their open left flank.

The battle soon turned into a proper slogging match with both Martin’s and Del’s Brigades repeatedly coming to grips with the French defenders before narrowly being beaten back. In the fight for the village Del managed to take the church a good few times but was always pushed out immediately by fresh French units or a swift counter attack from a rallied battalion. Much the same was happening in the fight for the rest of the village, as soon as he managed to defeat one battalion another countered his disorganised men and bundled them back. With the cramped frontages available to deploy in he just couldn’t make his superior numbers tell against Simon’s defenders and when Andy’s Guard turned up it made it even harder. This to and fro action went on all day and showed just how hard the fight must have been in reality and followed the pattern in accounts of many village fights I have read from the period.

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Outside the village Martin soon came to grips with Des’ Division guarding the northern part of the line and here too a tough fight broke out. Des was taking advantage of the terrain and had his men behind hedges which was helping in his defence and Martin couldn’t quite get to grips with the French in a co-ordinated manner enough to break them. This was mainly down to the difference in quality of the units I think with some of the Prussian battalions failing to charge home a few times leaving those that did in the lurch somewhat. All was not lost though as the defending French had been steadily losing men and once Martin’s lead Brigade was hors de combat he committed his fresh one.

Meanwhile I had managed to destroy the French Reserve battery in the centre and had advanced my Landwehr cavalry forwards as ordered and pretty soon were confronted with a mass of French Cavalry that had appeared to the rear of Des’ infantry. I knew I didn’t have the qualitative edge but my idea was to tie them up so as to prevent them from attacking Martin’s lads and maybe wear them down before my Regular Brigades could be brought forwards to help finish them off. With the loss of the French Heavy artillery Simon was forced to re-deploy forces from the defence of Plancenoit to cover the approach the gap made and managed to seal it off before we could get any forces forward to take advantage, again thwarted by space issues – we just couldn’t move our units quick enough.

After a lovely lunch that battle carried on in much the same vein, Del and Martin bravely grinding forwards but just not breaking through whilst I had been involved in a cavalry scrap and had charged a couple of Des’ battalions with my Landwehr Cavalry (which nearly went my way even though they were in square!) before they broke and the fight was taken over by the Regular brigades. I did manage to get Tipplekirch’s Brigade on the table but the were stuck in a ‘traffic jam’ of units so it took ages to get them forward, some command and control problems didn’t help either! Pretty soon though it just started to feel like that we weren’t just going to do it and when it got to 6pm we called it a day with the French holding all along the line even though they had taken a battering, especially outside the village.

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The main problem we had, we thought, was that we just couldn’t get our units into the fight quick enough. With such a large density of force on such a constricted front all it took was a bit of friction and everything snarled up, not that I’m complaining about it a game without this sort of thing is just too easy I reckon and wargaming is supposed to be a problem making exercise as well as fun. The battle also showed just how difficult it must have been to take a village in this time, I’m sure Del was knackered by the end of play! There were also those close calls that luck just favoured the enemy and if they had gone the other way might just have led to a different result but c’est la guerre as those Frenchies might say.

Even though we didn’t come away with the win it was a truly great days wargaming and I can’t thank Andy enough for the invite, and big thanks too go to Mrs Thomlinson for the fantastic hospitality and for keeping us fed and watered all day. As I’ve mentioned before the terrain was absolutely superb and the figures we used from the collections of Martin, Andy and Del weren’t too shoddy either. But, as always, the thing that makes these days really great are the chaps that you share them with so many thanks go to Andy, Martin, Del, Simon and Des in playing the game like true gents. Hat doffed all round, and very much looking forward to the next one already!

PS Some more pics taken by Des can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/247145792126789?view=permalink&id=784110201763676