Monday, 23 September 2013
Great War on the Somme
Orange Dave kindly arranged a splendid evening's Great War gaming, so with the help of Rob, Steve, Mike, Alan and another Steve, we went Over The Top!
The battles took place on two tables, the smaller table was the French sector (possibly the Verdun area) and featured a network of bunkers. The larger table was The Somme where the Canadians and British were seeking to breakthrough the German front line and capture their objectives, a ruined village and a shelled wood.
Hopefully Dave will post his scenario notes on the Scarab forum.
We begin with the BEF and CEF deployment, the CEF (me) are on the left flank and include a Mk I tank.
The RFC Reconnaissance aircraft passes along the Allied lines giving a better view of the German trench line.
Now a closer look at the Germans as the RFC buzz over the trenches.
Watch out sir! Fritz has a machine gun trained upon us. Bank right and dive!
The first British objective; an area of shelled woodland affording an excellent view of the battlefield. Just the place for the Boche to park one of their 77's.
The remains of the village, held by an HMG and a few brave infantry.
The attacks gets under way. Now early tanks weren't exactly reliable contraptions and mine was no exception, failing every breakdown test but thankfully the results meant it could still head towards the enemy.
The Canadians and British negotiate the wire and craters in the centre of the battlefield, all the while under heavy fire from enemy HMGs and artillery.
That's the spirit chaps! Up and at them. The tank creaks and groans closer to the line whilst the infantry provide close support.
But on the left the wire is proving a rather tricky obstacle for some platoons. The HMG in the German trenches made good use of the delay, hammering the poor infantry as they got tangled in the wire. However, the Assault Party (my Highlander figures) make good progress.
The Mk I, "Arthur" rears skyward as it prepares to crush the enemy in the trenches. Both 77's opened up on the steel behemoth; one missed and the other ricocheted off the front armour. Phew! That was a close call.
The Assault Party make short work of the Germans and prepare to tackle the HMG.
Similarly, along the trench the Canadians mount a ferocious attack on the German infantry as they prepared to attack the tank with grenades. But that Musket platoon (with 2 or 3 MG08/15's) are uncomfortably close.
Again, the 77's were trained upon the tank and both scored a hit. The first punched through the front armour to destroy the forward HMG, but the second decided the issue as the shell tore through the engine and wrecked the tank. Poor "Arthur"!?
Undaunted, the attack continued all along the lines. By now the number of Allied scoring units in the trenches exceeded the Germans, so the signal for the counter-attack was given. Note that a small unit of Canadians have passed the trench line and are pressing on towards the wood. That's the way chaps!
Here we can see that the British have made an excellent job of clearing the trenches as they continue their advance toward the village. However, the Allies were now starting to exceed the range of their supporting weapons such as HMGs and Mortars. This meant that the infantry had little more than a few Lewis Guns and their rifles to take on the German MG08s and 77mm guns positioned behind the lines.
The German counter-attack builds up momentum! The scenarios meant that when the German counter-attack began in the British sector, no more German reinforcements would be available in the French sector; a fact that was to have a real effect on that battle.
What's this? The blare of trumpets and the thundering of hooves ... Huzzah for the British Cavalry! With much of the trench line now firmly in Allied hands the "Brass Hats" have decided to send the cavalry forward to exploit a potential breakthrough.
After a headlong rush the cavalry tackle some rather surprised German infantry. The affair was particularly one-sided, the few remaining Germans quickly surrendered.
The cavalry then went on to tackle the infantry within the ruined village. Alas such terrain does not suit horses and they were easily repulsed then slaughtered. Less 'war horse' and more 'main course' ;o)
The game continued with the German Stormtroopers launching a rapid attack on the centre of the trench lines, supported by several flamethrowers. The British and Canadians took heavy casualties but newly arrived reinforcements exacted a heavy toll on the Germans in return. With time drawing on we had to finish after perhaps 9 or 10 turns. Both of the objectives remained in German hands although the trench line was mainly held by the Allies. A draw then methinks, although if we had been able to play for another hour then I think the Allies might just have worn down the Germans enough to take the village and the wood. Perhaps!
Now please forgive my focus on the Somme table, it was a very busy and exciting evening, but I did manage to bag a few pics of events. Dave and Steve were certainly having a good game with regular cries of "The bunker is ours!". It was clearly a closely fought engagement.
Here are a few of (t'other) Steve's lovely Early War French rushing forward to capture one of the four bunkers on the table.
More follow to reinforce the attack. What a superb flag.
A French Hotchkiss HMG provides covering fire for the advance.
Victoire! The French celebrate as the Germans are driven from one of the bunkers.
The game finished with a close win for the French as they held two bunkers to the German's one.
Two super games and a lot of fun. More please Monsieur d'Orange.