Battering Cod, Sword Beach, 6th June 1944. 15mm IABCYM.

A fortnight ago I finally managed to get the first game of the year in round at Des’ magnificent shed o’war, and it was a cracking way to hopefully start up face-to-face wargaming again. We would be having another crack at a D-Day game (rude not to really as it was near enough the anniversary!) using Des’ lovely 15mm collection of figures & terrain and our mash-up rules that combine IABSM with the dice activation of CoC which we have, in true Lardy style, entitled “I aint been Coc’d yet Mum” or IABCYM.

In this scenario myself and Andy T. would be assaulting the strongpoint known as ‘COD’ to the allied planners with orders to neutralise it then move forward to clear the exits from the beach to allow the follow on forces to barrel off down the roads to points inland, Des would take control of the dastardly defenders and try to prevent us from doing so. To achieve this task we were given identical forces which were based upon A & B Coys, 2/East Yorks with each of us taking command of a company assault group, both consisting of:

  • Wave one
    • 2 platoons infantry in LCI
    • 1 assault section RE, for beach obstacle demolition
    • Troop, 13\18 Hussars (4 x DD Shermans)
  • Wave two
    • LCT with 22nd Dragoon’s and 79th Assault RE. 1x Flail, bulldozer, AVRE bridgelayer, AVRE facine.
  • Wave three
    • 3rd platoon and HQ section of each company.
    • 2 x Vickers HMG sections
    • Mortar platoon in Bren carriers
    • 6pdr AT troop with Bren carrier tows.

The defensive nest (Wn20, ‘COD’) that we had to take on consisted of 1.Komp/736 Inf Regt/716 Division manning the following defences:

  • 1hmg
  • 2 lmg in tobruks
  • 2x 50mm mortar in tobruks
  • 2 ob posts
  • 1 hq
  • 2x 37mm ATG open positions facing the rear area
  • 1x 37mm ATG in the 180 degree bunker
  • 2 x 50mm ATG in 90 degree bunker
  • Trenches, wire.

Further back and to the rear of the main defence nest were these additional positions:

  • Beach house 1 complex
    • 37mm tobruk
    • HMG bunker
  • Beach house 2 complex
    • 37mm open top bunker
    • Two sections in trenches
    • 1 lmg in tobruk.
  • Rear command bunker
    • lmg tobruk

Our plan was quite simple: hit the beach and Andy’s right hand platoon and my left hand platoon would concentrate on the defensive position whilst the other ones tackle the flanking positions. The DD tanks and ‘Funnies’ would support this effort depending on if they make the beach or not with reserve platoons to be fed in where needed. One of the great things about these D-Day games is the absolute uncertainty in just how much of your force either 1. manages to just arrive on the beach and 2. makes it up the beach to get to grips with the defenders. So with everything ready we launched our attack.

For once the run in to the beach went (ahem) swimmingly for both of us with none of the DD tanks being lost to swamping or crashing into each other (you have to roll each time you move in the ‘deep’ parts to check for swamping and there’s a chance that you can drift too). However upon hitting the beach 3 of my DD tanks promptly hit mines which unbelievably they all managed to survive my LCI’s also made it past the submerged obstacles safely and all my lads managed to exit them without serious losses from enemy fire too. Over on the left Andy had slightly less luck losing one DD tank to a mine and one to AT gun fire and one of his LCI’s also went up which caused serious casualties on his left hand platoon, killing the CO and reducing the unit to little more than an overstrength section. The defending Germans then started up a hail of fire which again I seemed to dodge the worst of whilst Andy’s already battered platoon suffered even more. Notwithstanding this we both pushed our troops up the beach as quickly as possible supported by the fire from the now defrocked DD tanks from the surf whilst our assault pioneers started to clear obstacles.

Pretty soon the assault troops had passed the obstacles but now had to cross the mined area of the beach. It was here that my right hand platoon’s luck ran out somewhat taking the worst casualties yet from mines, however the left hand platoon heading for the bunker complex carried on with their run of good luck and made it to the wire completely unscathed by the mines. Unfortunately for Andy’s left hand platoon they seemed to be absorbing all the bad luck from my lads and by the time they hit the sea wall they had lost so many men that they were broken and completely combat ineffective although his right hand platoon managed to make the wire without too many more casualties from mines.

The next phase of the battle saw our central platoons successfully cross the wire and start to clear the bunker complex, again with the great help from the DD tanks back at the shore, and soon were nearly through the position. My right hand platoon tried to assault the FT turret Tobruk which lay to their front without success but I started to take it under fire from the DD tanks and as the ‘Funnies’ were now inbound I reckoned we’d be able to by sort it out pretty soon. Unfortunately time was getting on at this point and so we called the game but it was clear that ‘COD’ had fallen and the reserve platoons would be used to push through to help clear the exits whilst the DD tanks could have shot up the positions in the beach houses with impunity until the defenders broke. I think that the Germans suffered from some bad luck with their activation dice and had problems stemming from the initial bombardment and us getting a lucky hit on the CO which all helped hamper the defence and our great luck in managing to get nearly all the DD tanks ashore safely helped out immeasurably.

I am looking forward to is the next time we play it in an all-dayer as Des’ plan is to have a further table set up with the area behind the beach so we play through to that table after the defences have been cleared. Having said that these games are so brilliantly unpredictable I bet we get stuck on the beach as all the DD tanks drown and we get slaughtered by mines! Anyway, whatever happens it’ll be ace.

It was a cracking game, just look at the table and toys we got to play with what’s not to like there!, and a fantastic way to get going again. Massive thanks to Mr Darkin for allowing us round to play and to Andy for always being a great bloke to have at the table (and thankfully on my side for once!), I’m a very lucky chap to have wargaming mates like these! Onwards and upwards now, here’s to more games in the near future.

Colours 2019 Preview: ACW, Battle of Antietam. 15mm Fire & Fury.

I don’t know, you wait ages for some ACW action then…

A few weeks ago now I had the absolute pleasure of being invited round Andy’s to take part in a playtest of the Antietam game that he and a few of the South London Warlords are putting on at Colours this year. As I was supposed to be playing in Daren’s Kursk game I wouldn’t have been able to join them so jumped at the chance to have a go (even more glad now as we’ve had to call off the Kursk game so I would have missed it at the show!). As any of you might remember from the stunning Plancenoit game Andy put on I was dead keen to check this out, especially as we had been privy to snaps of the build from Andy over a good number of weeks as he made the terrain and it was looking ace.

The rules used for the game will be the new edition of Brigade Fire and Fury, which are great by the way, and the figures come from Andy and Des’ beautiful 15mm collections. I won’t bore you with a detailed AAR as this post is just going to be a feast for the eyes but it was a tough fight and you could see why it was such a bloody one historically. Doug and I, playing the Confederates, were gradually pushed back from the Western Woods and the hill by both weight of numbers and weight of shot (the massed Union guns were brutal!). However this came at a huge price to the attacking Union forces and when we finished the Rebel reinforcements were just arriving to knock them back again. Des was completely made up that his lads had made it to the Sunken Lane despite some accurate and deadly long range artillery fire from my guns but he didn’t manage to break into the position at the first go – again we had to stop just as things had got interesting!

It was a marvellous day’s wargaming and many thanks to Andy and Mrs. T for being such great hosts and Andy, Doug and Des for a great game. I’m sure it is going to be a wow game for all you lucky punters at the show!

All pics are clickable for a better view.

Ream’s Station: 15mm ACW Brigade Fire and Fury @ Martin’s no.2

A few weeks after the last big bash at Martin’s I had the pleasure of being invited round for a one vs one game. The battle was an interesting one with the Union set up in field fortifications having advanced to cut a railroad and awaiting the inevitable counter attack from the Confederates. I took the Union army and it was a really great days wargaming.

Apart from the forces in the field works I had a Brigade of infantry returning to my command and the possibility of some cavalry turning up later if certain things happened. I quickly decided on a nice simple plan. I was going to hold with my infantry and, if Martin did not swing round towards where they were stationed, I was going to move my cavalry on the extreme left of my position out of the works and combined with the Infantry brigade returning towards the same flank use them to try and roll up the Rebs as they attacked.

In the centre Martin chose the direct approach, and he wasn’t mucking about either, launching his troops into a charge without even trying to soften me up with artillery first. This bold style nearly paid off as the initial assault managed to destroy my forward battery and push back one of my brigades, however I did managed to hold the line and Martin’s lads were forced to retreat with both of us suffering quite a lot of casualties. It was taking him longer to get the attack going on the right and I had a chance to whittle the attackers down by fire before they managed to charge home and this attack failed to break into my positions and was repulsed with somewhat heavy losses.

Over on the left my mobile infantry brigade was moving into position to try and catch the assaulting Confederates in the flank when a Rebel Cavalry Brigade appeared behind them. Luckily my own cavalry had cleared the trenches by then and moved out to screen the rear of their footslogging comrades and pretty soon they were heavily engaged with their southern counterparts. I also decided to withdraw the remaining troops from the first line of works to the second so that the fresher brigades could take the brunt of any new attacks.

Martin was reinforced with a fresh Division of infantry and they were soon ready to get stuck in after the survivors of the first assault and their artillery had taken my defenders under fire with both sides dishing out casualties on each other. My outflanking brigade had their attack stymied by Martin redeploying a unit to counter the treat and were also seriously under threat of being hit in the jacksie by the chasing Reb cavalry which had brushed aside my own donkey-wallopers attempts to prevent them doing so.

The new assault from Martin’s good quality and large Brigades crashed into my defences and this time they were able to get a foothold in the position and combined with some deadly artillery fire falling on my supporting and outflanking units this time managed to take the second line of entrenchments, and soon a couple of my brigades were breaking and I decided that the gig was up and conceded the game. I did think after rebuffing the first assault I was in with a chance of winning, especially if my flank attack succeeded but unfortunately this ended up fizzling out and I was unable to hold against the second assault.

Big thanks to Martin for a cracking game as usual, always a pleasure playing against him as he’s a true gent, and I to get to use his lovely collection of figures too!

Game at Martin’s: Battle of Stones River, 15mm ACW BF&F

Back in May myself, Des, Andy, Ian and Doug met at Martin’s for a Brigade Fire and Fury bash in his lovely shed o’war. I must admit I was not familiar with this battle so was looking forward to it once Martin told us which one it was. Apparently he had put this game on at Salute 25 years ago but had not played it since so thought it apt to use as a training game for the new edition of the rules.

Morning cuppas consumed saw us in the shed being briefed on the ensuing battle. I was on the Union side along with Des and Doug, with myself taking Crittenden’s Corp, Des Thomas’ and Doug McCook’s. The traitorous Rebel’s were handled by Ian, Andy and Martin taking control of Polk and Hardee’s Corps. At the start of the battle the Reb’s were all, with the exception of a cavalry brigade, on table with a total of 5 Divisions that controlled 20 Brigades. We had 8 Divisions with 25 Brigades under command at the start of the battle plus a Cavalry brigade with a couple of Brigades off table so forces were quite equal to start off with but tipping towards a Union advantage later in the day.

The Confederates did have one advantage though. Apparently Rosencrans, commanding the Army of the Cumberland, had planned an assault on the extreme right wing of the Confederate positions near the fortified hill, however the Rebs had also planned an attack for an hour earlier and so were going to catch us off guard. This meant that most of our units were locked in place until certain times and Doug’s lads would have to roll to see if they were completely caught with their pants down and sipping their morning coffee or had managed to get into line when they were attacked. Apparently the General in charge of the right wing where the Southern onslaught would fall tried desperately to get Rosencrans to listen when he told him that he believed they were massing for a surprise attack along his front but he chose to ignore him and concentrate on his own plan. So things had the chance of going very wobbly very quickly and Des and Andy telling horror stories of when they had played the scenario before at the WHC didn’t help our initial morale!

With this information in place though we decided that we would carry on with our left wing attack with me committing 2 of my Divisions to it once they were activated whilst my 3rd Division filled in for Des’ one in front of the Rebel trenches in the centre so that he could move it across to assist Doug’s lads in what we were expecting to be a valiant but doomed holding action/phased withdrawal. Andy kicked things off in his usual laid back style smashing into Doug’s boys as they were having their morning coffee, but luckily for us the boys in Blue were quick to get themselves sorted out and they managed to survive the first onslaught quite well. This battle between Doug and Andy’s commands carried on all day see-sawing one way and the other but with Doug having to give ground constantly, albeit whittling down the attacking Confederates all the time.

As soon as his Divisions had been released and I had taken over the trenches in front of the Rebel position in the centre, Des launched himself at Andy’s troops too which managed to stabilise the centre of our line and also managed to blunt an attack from Ian’s troops as well. Again things turned into a right ding-dong battle here too and both sides lost a lot of troops. Our reserves had started to arrive though and we were confident that they could tip the balance and be used to launch a strong counter attack as the Rebs were quite worn out from attacking nearly constantly all day.

Meanwhile whilst all this was happening I had been slowly but surely making my way round the left flank to get ready to assault the Rebels on the hill (I did have a hard time with failed movement rolls and kept going half speed which didn’t help), I also made a bit of a grand battery and started shelling the bejeezus out of Martin’s lads that were dug in facing my lads in the trenches and the plan was to attack him as soon as my flanking force went in and the artillery had softened up the entrenched troops enough.

Unfortunately for me we ran out of time – it was the first real test of the new edition of the rules so time was lost in sorting out queries etc – but all in all it was a great game. The fighting was pretty intense and I loved having an ACW bash again and I must say I liked the new version of the rules. As usual it was a pleasure playing with the chaps and big thanks to Martin and Susan for the lovely lunch too!