Wednesday, September 18, 2019

English Civil War

English: Mike, Chris & mark.
Scots: Jim, Mitch & Steve.
Both sides had 2 cavalry brigades of 4, 3 infantry brigades of 2 pile & 4 shot plus 2 guns.
Rules: Hail Cromwell.  Table 12'x6'.
The Scots are on the left. The English have cavalry on each wing.  The Scots have 1 cavalry on their left & the other as a central reserve.
The English made a general advance.  The Scots redeployed a little to meet the attack, keeping their reserve behind their centre.
On the far flank the Scots cavalry was simply ridden down by an equal English brigade in a shower of bad dice.  But on the near flank the English cavalry was met with a wall of hedgehogs, thought better of their attack & fell back. With their left already a brigade down, the Scots now advanced their right while forming a defensive position in the farm on what was now their left flank. 
As the English start their attack on the farm, the Scots cavalry reserve has attacked the English.  On the near flank the English cavalry has advanced again to meet the Scot's foot.
The 2nd Scot's cavalry brigade's dice were little better than the 1st & they failed to make the hoped for breakthrough.  A counterattack on their left by the victorious English cavalry was replused, mainly due to the Scots artillery in the farmyard firing into their flank. On the nea rflank the English cavalry is being well held by the Scots foot.  Between the cavalry fights the Scots infnatry advance has stalled in the face of Oakie's shower of 6's.
In the farm, the Scots are hanging on grimly.  On the near flank neither side can gain the upper hand.  In the centre, the Scots cavalry plug the gap despite heavy casualties.
The English are slowly pushing their way thru the farm. The Scot's hopes of breaking the English centre before their left collapses have now disappeared after another counterattack has failed to break thru against the English 6's.  The Scots are now just trying to hang on until nightfall. 
In the last turn before nightfall (10pm realtime) the Scotish infantry in the farm has broken.  The army remains unbroken with only 2 of 5 brigades lost, but the English have lost no brigades, so clearly the Scots have no alternative but to claim victory and retreat overnight in good order.

The Scots responded to the terrible performance of their cavalry on their left by trying to attack on their right before the English could use their now superior numbers.  The farm & their well positioned artillery bought them time to turn defeat into victory, but their counterattack lucked out, the English centre held them off, & the opportunity passed.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Friday afternoon Tank War

Chris' Germans v.  JohnM's Brits.
Tank War scenario 1,500 pts.  Table 12'x6'.
The two forces started with their forces coming on as first waves from opposite corners at the near end of the table.  There are 5 objectives - the T junction, the 2 bridges & the tops of the two hills further down the table.   There is no visibility thru the double lines of trees along the road.
Both side protected their flank by deploying 2 tanks in ambush back from the tree lines while rushing infabtry to the village with tanks on their other flank.
The Brits seemed to have had a plan to use their artillery barrage to lay smoke to cover a charge by 2 Cromwells for one of the hill objectives.  But they seem to have been distracted from the plan by the shirt-fight in the village where the Grewnadiers had taken the T-junction objective.   When the Germans pulled a tank out of their nearside flanking screen the Brits attacked there.
The British attack on the near flank was very effective taking out all 3 MkIV's, but the Grenadiers had destroyed the Brit infantry around the village & held on against the Cromwells until the end of turn 7.  If there had been a turn 8, the British armour might have won the day, but it was not to be. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Napoleonics: French v. Austrians

French: Mark & Chris:  3 infantry divisions of 4 line & 1 light infantry + 1 battery.  3 hussar divisions of 4. 2 corps batteries.  Command 9.
Austrians:  Mike & Mitch: 3 infnatry division with 6 infantry & 1 battery, 2 cavalry divisions of 2 light & 2 heavy.  Infantry a mix of line, grenadiers, landwehr & yeger.   Command 8 except Grenadiers 9 & landwehr 7.
The French commanders make their plans on a map in the library.
The Austrians deploying.
Both sides have 3 divisions on the table deployed u to 18" from their table edge at the start, plus 2 division in reserve to come on at nominated spots on the throw of a 5 with 1 dice on turn 2, 2 on turn 3, etc. The French are on the left & have 1 inf & 1 cav in reserve.  They have made their 1st move.  The Austrians have both their cavalry divisions in reserve.
The French have advanced their infantry to the line of ridges & sent their cavalry to the right. The Austrians have advanced 2 divisions to the line of the road.  Their 3rd division is having command problems & has dropped behind.  Their heavy cavalry has come on the far flank. 
The camera drone has moved to the other end of the table.
The Austrian heavy cavalry has deployed on the Austrian flank.  Both sides have light cavalry on the far flank with French advancing & the Austrians dithering.
The Austrians have made an uncharacteristically bold advance on their left, attacking the right of the French line with infantry in attack columns. 
The Austrian attack had some success, breaking one unit, but the French unit on the wooded hill confounded the Austrians by breaking two attackers. 
On the near flank, the Austrian infantry also attacked.  Their cavalry was supposed to support them, but failed commands.  The Austrian attack on the French right has stalled & the division is trying to withdraw.  The cavalry on the far flank is now engaged.
The Landwehr are doing well on the near flank, but the cavalry still hasn't advanced to help them.  The Austrian withdrawal on their left has turned into a rout as hot French musketry forced more break tests.  The French cavalry attack on the right has been beaten off, but they have reinforcements at hand.  The 3rd French infantry division has finally arrived on the French left & is marching up the road .
The Austrian heavy cavalry has finally moved up, but not fast enough to immediately exploit the Landwehr's breakthrough.   On the far flank the 3rd Austrian infantry is still deploying as the French reserve division approaches.
The Austrian heavy cavalry has finally joined the fray, but French squares are holding them off as the Austrian infantry run out of steam.  The French right is now attacking around the farmhouse.  

The poor performance of the Austrian cavalry blew the opportunity for victory on the near flank & the infantry there has been broken.  On the far flank the renewed assault by the French cavalry took out the Austrian hussars, though not before losing their lead division.  So the Austrian army broke on the last move before nightfall with 3 of 5 division broken.  The French lost 1 cavalry division.

Strategically, the Austrians did pretty well.  Their light cavalry tied up both French cavalry divisions & with the late arrival of the 3rd French infantry they had a 4 divisions to 2 advantage for a while.  They attacked to exploit the opportunity.  But the advantage of the extra point of a Command Rating of 9 v. 8 is sometimes very significant.  The Austrian heavy cavalry could have broken the French left if they had advanced in close support of the Landwehr & the slow advance of the deployment of the Austrians on the left left their first attack unsupported. Oakie having one of his lucky streaks with the dice didn't help their cause.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bolt Action Tank War

Each side had two tank platoons each with 4 tanks & some infantry support.  The table is 12'x6' with 9 objective points.
Mike's Brits are on the near flank on the left, Mark's US on the far left.  Jim's Germans on near right, Steve's Germans are far right behind Mitzi. 
While the armour move up & exchange mostly long range fire on the fra end & centre of the table, the German infantry have advanced & de-trucked near the objective in the foreground.  Two bugs have advanced thru to wood to oppose them.
On the near hill the German infantry supported by a Stummel & Panther took out the British infantry, destroyed one bug & drove the other off giving them control of that objective.  On teh rest of teh front the German tanks got the upper hand.  The Allies saw no prospect of taking any objectives & conceded the battle.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Operation Sudlight: Bolt Action Tournament Devonport

Mark & I were on the road before 5.30am to drive to Devonport for the 2nd Operation Sudlight event for the year.
There were 24 players - from Hobart, Launceston, Devonport & Melbourne & 12 tables.

Mark & I both had 3 very enjoyable games.   Mark won his first game & lost the other two.  I drew in round 1, lost in round 2 & won in round 3. So we both finished in the middle of the pack.  Once again the Devonport guys put on a terrific tournament played in great spirit & enjoyed by all.

I particularly enjoyed my loss to Tristan from Melbourne.  Tristan had a Long Range Desert Group force with lots of trucks loaded with multiple weapons & some veteran infantry armed to the teeth.  The mission was Key Positions with 5 objectives.  The table had lots of roads that suited my enemy & made it a tough ask for my Panzer Grenadiers & I soon found that Tristan really knew how to use his army as he put me onto the back foot with his rapid advance & cunning tactics.  Faced with the prospect of disaster I threw caution to the winds & counterattacked. The plan didn't bring me victory, but it was great fun!  I finished the game with just 3 units left, all with heavy casualties, but the table was littered with burning trucks as my Panzergrens took more than half the LRDG down with them.  In the pub afterwards, Tristan thanked me for giving him a hell of a fright, & the his most enjoyable game of the day, even though his losses in this game robbed him of the Best Allied Prize.

I'll edit this post with more details of the results after Russell has posted them on Facebook.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Back Home for some Bolt Action

Practice game for next weekend's BA tournament in Devonport.
Mark's Brits v. Jim's Panzergrenadiers: Demolition scenario.
Both sides deployed cautiously back behind the ridges & planned to attack on their right flanks.  But after the initial actions consistently favoured the Brits, the Germans changed their plan to a tight defence of the objective to try & salvage a draw.  The casualty count greatly favoured the Brits, but the Germans held them off for the draw. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Camp Cromwell Takes Quebec

After a spell of non-war travel with Chris & Irene in New York, Nova Scotia & Newfoundland, I left them in Truro for them to go east to Britain while I started my rail journey to Vancouver & home.  The overnight train dumped me at St Foye 12 km west of Quebec city at 6.15 am.  Following Wolfe's lead I decided to surprise the defenders of Quebec with a flank march walking along the riverside bike track to Fulton Cove where Wolfe landed before dawn on September 13 1759.  There I found a well sign posted walking trail following Wolfe's route up the cliff & across the top to the battlefield, arriving in the city in time for an excellent late breakfast in a sidewalk cafe.

Wolfe gambled all on an amphibious outflanking manoeure at night. Unusually for such adventures, it worked like clockwork.  Maybe a bit of throwing 6's was involved, but Wolfe also made his own luck with meticulous planning.   The track up the cliff from Fulton Cove was lightly defended as Montcalm overestimated the difficulty of scaling the cliff.  It is an imposing bluff, but really not that high. The initial landing party got past the first guard line by pretending to be a French supply convoy with some French speaking soldiers in the lead boats. A party stormed up the track while a party of light infantry scaled the cliff & outflanked the defence.  Wolfe landed about 4,000 men & 2 guns, got them to the top in the dark & deployed them for battle as he reconnoitred the ground. 

Montcalm's army was camped some miles away at Beauport east of Quebec.  He got it on the move & was able to deploy between Wolfe & Quebec on the so called plains of Abraham mid morning.  The Plains are now a park.  They are hardy "plains", being rolling ground with patches of woods.

Two lines of about 4,000 men faced each other.  Wolfe didn't try to bring his full force over the river to the action, but his force comprised his best regiments plus the grenadiers of the others.  The French probably couldn't believe that Wolfe could have got as many men as he did up the cliff in the dark as he did & they attacked as soon as they had deployed.  They fired a volley at too long a range & charged.  The British vets gave them one devastating volley at point blank range & counter-charged with the bayonet.  The French army broke & ran for the town.  After a night & half a morning of manoeuvre, that battle was over in minutes.  The only downside for the British was Wolfe's death on the battlefield.

With the British army on the Plains of Abraham in front of the city it was cut off from supply & had no alternative but surrender.

The battle was a very simple affair, but following the pre-battle manoeuvres made a very interesting morning, well worth doing.
The track up the cliff has been considerably improved - made into bike track.
The spot where Wolfe fell.
Another view of the "plains".  The pattern of the tree cover probably was probably quite different in 1759.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

A little bit of War of Independence

On our way to the naval museums near Norfolk we visited Yorktown.  The British were left cut off in the fortress after the French won a rare naval victory in Chesapeake Bay.  Washington's army was also supported by French infantry, artillery & engineers.  Cornwallis surrendered his army to pretty well hand the Americans victory in the war.  Some of the earthworks remain, but it's hard to tell how much is original or restoration.

On our way from Washington to Philadelphia to drop off our hire car, we stopped off at Brandywine Creek.  In 1777 Washington's army stood on the banks of the Brandywine covering the fords to block a British advance on Philadelphia.
The river is mostly deep & uncrossable, but had frequent fords.  The Brits very sensibly scouted out fords upstream of the American defences, posted their Hessians to threaten the fords in front of the Americans & sent their main force on a 16 mile flank march.  They hit the American flank in the late afternoon.   The Americans tried to deploy to meet it as the Hessians attacked their front, but Washington had been well & truly outsmarted by Howe & they had no hope. 
Dusk & the British lack of cavalry saved the Americans from a complete disaster.  The memorial plaque tried to put a good spin on it by exaggerating the British numerical superiority (other sources put the numbers involved at nearly equal).

The battlefield was not a great one to visit.  Being a decisive defeat, it is not a battle the Americans like to make much of.  There was a visitor's centre, but it was closed on Mondays when we were there.   The only part of the battlefield made a park was a small part around Washington's HQ & there were no information panels or leaflets.  For once we had to rely on Googled maps & GPS to find our way around the battlefield.  The main part of the field is covered with subdivisions of McMansions & it is impossible to tell what the original pattern of woods & fields were.  You can only see that it was rolling countryside & that the battle was all about the fords.

So ended our road trip through the battlefields of the US.  In just under 4 weeks, Chris drove us nearly 4,000 miles (6,300 km) on the wrong side of the road without mishap while I became pretty efficient at car sat nav.  We visited over 30 battlefields plus many forts.  Along the way we saw a great cross section of the US countryside, warts & all.  Battlefield to battlefield is a great way to choose a route, we saw everything we intended to see & a whole lot more discovered by serendipity on the way.  We'd both wanted to do this for a long time & enjoyed every day of it.