Monday, 1 December 2014

Latest Napoleonic Austrians

Just to sneak in another post on the blog before the year is out, here are the most recent additions to my Austrian army...
Hesse-Homburg hussars
Italeri French hussars with converted shakos. Added the plumes, trimmed off the shako plates and painted on rosettes in their place. Also painted on the folded-up rear shako flaps. Horses from the Hat Austrian Kurassier set.

Can't be sure which regiment. 1798 light blue facings could be #6 or #9. But these guys have helmets and not bicorns. Osprey book says that in 1820 (What's that doing in there anyway?) it would be #5. Ah, who cares? We didn't have any with light blue facings before, and now we do. So long as they never get used as Russians I'll be happy.
Troopers are HaT Austrian Cuirassier, horses from Italeri French light cavalry (Chasseurs a Cheval), with custom sculpted sheepskin saddle covers. Originally I intended these to go with the Austrian hussars pictured above, only I felt uneasy about my hussars' horses being larger than those of my heavies. The horses from the Italeri French hussar set used for the above Austrian hussars went to a regiment of French chasseurs a cheval.
Confusing I know.

Austrian grenadier battalion Brzeczinski.
Try saying that three times after 11 shots of schnapps.

I've added this rear view to show the effect of basing the figures on each 1 1/2" square stand towards the centre to give the impression of company intervals. I like it.
Figures are HaT.

HaT Austrian landwehr painted as jager, or landwehr if you like.

More HaT landwehr this time painted as a unit of Erzhog Karl legion.
Looking very determined.
So as you can see I have not been completely idle here. To my fellow SWAGs and ANFs I say to you have a bloody merry Christmas and new year, and I'll catch you all mid February 2015.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Desert Campaign Game 4 Battle of the Camps (Nibeiwa)


The Italians have advance 60 miles into Egypt and then established a series of defensive camps.
The Italian deployments are fatally flawed as the camps are too far apart to support each other.  Operation Compass had been devised by Lieutenant-General Sir Richard O'Connor, commanding the Western Desert Force (WDF), as a five-day raid on the massively superior Italian forces in North Africa.  The first blow will fall against the Italian fortified camp at Nibeiwa. 

The WDF has been reinforced with 50 Matilda Heavy Infantry Tanks or 1/2 of the total the British had at the time.  The British have setup supply dumps behind the Italians camps and with aggressive patrolling (see Battle 3 Into the Gap) have kept the Italians in their camps ignorant of the British preparations.

The first part of the scenario is designed to represent some of the diversions used to cover the movement in the desert and to keep the Italians of guard.  At 0300 hrs, the 4th/7th Rajput Regiment commenced a feint attack on the strong eastern defences of the Italian position at Nibeiwa in Egypt, the opening move in Operation Compass. 

The Battle of the camps (Nibiewa)

2 parts to scenario
1st part is a diversionary raid by the British infantry on Italian camp.

4 companies British troops

Orders – Do a diversionary attack against the defences of the camp.  Distract the Italians but do not take too many losses, we want the Italians hearing us and no other British manoeuvres.
There are a some rounds from a 25lber battery available 2 HE & 1 Smoke
 A10 tanks are in reserve but will not be released unless Italian tanks attack and cover for falling back is needed.

2 companies Libyan infantry – trained
½ company Bergasilerie
Hvy weapons group
At rifles
Light Mortar
Defend your sector of the line against any British attacks if the Tommies are foolish enough to try and raid our camp. Your forces are well dug in with good support.  There are no significant enemy forces around any attacks will be probes by enemy combined arms forces. 
There are only 4 rounds of Artillery support from the groups guns available, curse those British raiders (see Game 2).
Reinforcements will only be released in the unlikely event this raid is heavily supported.

Map for this part of the scenario with the 4 British start positions.  The goal for the British players is to get close enough to shoot up the Italians.  There is an anti tank ditch on the eastern side of camp (down in this map).

How it unfolded

Part 1 with the 4 British players shooting up the Italian camp worked reasonably well. And was interesting to get players to do something that wasn’t a full on assault although they got a bit ahead of themselves and seemed to think they could take the camp with their unsupported infantry companies.  This part of the game had a lot of long range pot shots and there were no casualties on either side in first week.
 It looked like the whole section of the game would be bloodless but Ray decided to put some of his troops into a truck for the retreat and parked them well within range of the Italian AT guns which made short work of the truck and a failed bailout role chalked up the first loss, followed by an artillery stonk killing another stand meant we had a winner to join the Italians for phase 2.
  The Italians also got their MMGs into operation and took out another couple of tommies during the last couple of phases.

Phase 2 - The Assault.

The British had discovered that the Camp at Nibeiwa had all it defenses facing east and in aerial recon photos there were vehicle tracks clearly visible showing the gap in the minefield to the west.  The British attacked from the west and burst into the camp taking the Italians unaware. The assault from the north while not 100% accurate does give the feel of some of the more bloody battles later in the day at Tummar West and allows for a 5th player.

To work well the attack direction and details have not been revealed.

The 3 British orders

Northern Assault.

To commander 1st Bn Royal Fusiliers
Your orders are to assault the Northern face of the Nibiewa camp.  You will be aware that forces will be attacking rear of camp simultaneous with your assault going in.  Your assault is to be pressed hard and will be supported by the Battalion 25lbers.
Forces to be committed are 2 companies
1 Commander
9 Infantry (1 with Boyes AT)
2” Mortar
You also have from Battalion
1 3” Mortar
2 Vickers MMG
FOO with vehicle
All troops are Exp.
You have been provided with transport from NZ 4th reserve Motor Transport Company who will get you as close as possible to camp.  One of the main reason I included this attack was to get these guys into this battle, historically the Kiwi transport drivers moved troops to attack the next camp at Tummar West.  The story goes that once they had reached the drop off location, the Kiwi drivers grabbed their rifles and with a yell of "Come on you Pommy bastards" charged the Italians. In this scenarios once the Infantry leave the trucks, 2 stands of extra infantry appear (+1 melee).

You can call on 3 guns of the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery, the guns will lay down smoke to cover advance.  

7th RTR Matildas

You are in command of C Company 7th Royal Tank Regt consisting of the following I tanks, all tanks are Exp.

1 Command MKII Matilda
1 MKII CS Matilda
4 MKII Matildas
 You orders are to assault the Nibiewa camp from the rear using the lanes marked on the map as these have been identified as being clear of mines.  Your objective is to kill or capture all Italian forces in the NE corner of the camp.  Supporting you assault will be 2 companies of infantry in Bren Carriers accompanying you and an assault on North of camp by other elements of 11 division.
 There are Italian armoured elements in the camp at location X-ray according to intel and these are a priority for 2lber equipped tanks and CS tank is to engage and destroy targets of opportunity.
 Remember we have more camps to attack today and running I tanks will be essential so don’t lose too many. 

Map for 7th RTR & Bren Carriers

Bren Carrier Command

You are in command of 2 Companies of British infantry from 2nd Bn Rifle Brigade (Vet) in Bren carriers.  Your task is to assist Matildas in the assault on the Nibiewa camp from the rear using the lanes marked on the map as these have been identified as being clear of mines.  You will enter 1 turn after the Matildas.  Your objective is to kill or capture all Italian forces in the NE corner of the camp. 
8 Bren Carriers (carry 2 troops)
Trucks as required for rest.

2 Companies
1 Commander
9 Infantry (1 with Boyes)
1 Bren

1 2” Mortar

Italian Orders 

Italians at rest in Nibeiwa Camp.

After the early morning raid by the impudent British the camp is once again calm.
The Italian forces are separated into 2 commands. North and East.

Nth Command has
2 Company Libyan Inf (Trained)
2 AT rifle (all support weapons are Exp)
2 37mm AT guns (Marked on Map)
2 75 mm Artillery Emplaced (Mark on Map)
Reserve (Mark on Map but not currently active)
5 L33 Light Tanks

East Command
2 Company Libyan Inf (Trained)
1 AT rifle (all support weapons are Exp)
1 37mm AT guns (Marked on Map)
1 Infantry Gun (Marked on Map)
Reserve (Mark on Map but not currently active)

6 M13/40 tanks

 How it played out

The British Infantry attack from the north went in first under cover of smoke and supported by their mad Kiwis.  They fairly quickly discovered just how hard it is to displace defenders however poor in quality from fixed positions.

The Italian players were feeling fairly secure behind their walls at this stage but a nasty surprise is coming...

The Matildas of 7th RTR burst into the rear of the Italian camp and produce satisfying cries of "Mamma Mia!" from the Italian players.(Ok maybe a few other words were said but this is a family blog.)

After taking heavy losses from the Italians the Fusiliers take advantage of the distraction form the rear to seize a foothold inside the wall.
The Rifle Brigade in their carriers join the assault from the rear.  The Italians realise their weapons are pretty much useless against the Matildas and turn them on the carriers taking a heavy toll.

The Fusiliers extend their foot hold with the fort but still take heavy losses attacking strong points head on.  I suspect the company commander may have learnt his trade on the western front in WW1.
The valiant Colonel Malletti who leads the Italians can be seen advancing on the right to attack the intruders and inspire his troops.  History records that the valiant Colonel was cut down will firing an MG at a Matilda while dressed in his pajamas. (the umpires attempts to paint a figure in PJs were sadly unconvincing).
The Italians have managed to activate some of their tanks and move to attack the Matildas,
they don't have much luck so satisfy themselves with taking out yet more bren carriers.  

The Fusiliers supported by the CS Matilda finally get into the rear of the Italian strong point that has taken a heavy toll and press forward. One of the Kiwi units can be seen in the centre.
The end is nigh.  The Italians have fought resolutely but had no answer to the heavy armour of the Matilda.  This was probably the high water mark of the British I Tank concept.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Russian/Prussian v French 1813

We had a visit from James of the Avon Napoleonic Fellowship and so set up a fictional Napoleonic battle set in 1813 between two French corps and a combined Prussian and Russian force. James has already written a report of the action up to the point where he left us, but the game itself carried on for sometime afterwards on our regular Tuesday night meetings.

View from behind the allied position or "east" as James has dubbed it. I will adhere to this geographical orientation to avoid confusion for those of you reading this after his report. Russians advancing to the right of the road, Prussians on the left. Advance guard batteries have commenced their bombardment of the French held village as more guns clatter up to add their weight.

Above and below; Allied cannon continues to pound away whilst the infantry moves into position for the assault.

Aerial shot 1; At the top of the photo you can see the French artillery open up as Prussian infantry crests the ridge and deploys into line. Along the stream to the right Russian jager skirmish with the French lights.

Pressure building on the French brigade holding the village.

Here is a Prussian cavalry brigade fording the stream south of the village. Beyond them the near most French regiment forms square to cover those beyond, which have moved forward to support the garrison.

View from north east. In the foreground the Russian grenadier division moves off the road to the right heading for the northern end of the French position.

Which would be these fellows here. Very nice alignment James, I always appreciate the opponent who can keep his troops in order.

Once the allied guns had set the village ablaze (reducing the cover modifier for the defenders), the infantry went in and had little trouble removing the garrison from it's lodgements. So far, so good.

At the same time the Russian grenadiers were approaching their objective. Below you can see Russian cuirassiers crossing the stream in support, covered by the Guard Cossacks.

Aerial shot 2; In the centre the allies have the village, in the top right corner Russian grenadiers are across the stream and through the woods, the supporting cavalry link the two, looking for opportunities to throw the French defensive lines into disarray.

As far as I can recall here my Cossacks were driven off by a hastily formed square, but they would return.

Above and below; One regiment of heavies charge French cannon, who flee their pieces, the cavalry carrying on through and into a line of infantry beyond. Many a Frenchman perished under their heavy steel blades.

The other regiment had no trouble at all driving back the hussars opposing it.

Behind the French centre. The remnants of the village garrison rally on their supports. Russian infantry emerges from the smoke filled valley. The Russian heavies which had covered themselves glory, were shot up and routed by the very infantry they had broken, thus you can see in the bottom left the French batteries have been re-manned. My cuirassiers' valour had exposed an anomaly in our rules (we are still play testing), which was rectified, sparing others the same fate. A noble sacrifice.

Below;Russian columns advance screened by the jager
Way over to the south Prussian cavalry had attracted the attention of one French light cavalry brigade and one French infantry brigade. Textbook example of economy of force. 

Aerial 3; Russian and Prussian forces in and around the village prepare to push on up the highway. The Russian right hook begins to crowd in the French left. The last Prussian brigade (yellow field in the foreground) begins to manoeuvre to their left.

Above and below; photos of the same moment viewed from the northern end of the battle lines.

"The Russian prefers the bayonet"

Close up of Prussian reserves marching to the left. Just because it's the only place there is any room them?

Just one more aerial of all that.

Looking over the barrels of the French artillery in the centre.
Emperor's cuirassiers reforming as Russian artillery crosses at the northern ford to provide close support for the grenadiers. It was at this point the Russian commander suffered a wound which forced him from the field (To recover in Broome for two weeks). It would be up to his subordinates to press the attack from here on.

In their fearless leaders' absence the Cossacks charged and were destroyed by a tremendous volley, and the cuirassiers swept forward sending the French infantry and artillery before them scurrying off. The French meanwhile had reinforced their faltering left with still more cavalry, this time dragoons.

Looking from the south, Prussians cross all along the stream. The crisis point of the battle is fast approaching.

Here we see the high water mark of the Russian advance on the right. The tsars' cavalry is now a spent force leaving the infantry pinned in square by the timely arrival of the despised French dragoons.

Although much depleted under fire of French musketry and cannon, the Russian division of the centre steels itself for one final push as the daylight fades.

Close-up of the French heavies headed to the south of the field.

The arm wrestle between the Prussians and French in the centre continues. Here a Prussian regiment seizes an opportunity to break stalemate. It failed.

Aerial shot of the affair at this point.

Nice shots along the lines from the south.


Having held off the Russian assault on their centre the French sense their moment and charge forth. The first assault stalls under heavy fire.
The second does not.
At the same time over on the southern side of the village the French have their blood up and yet another allied regiment is sent back across the stream.
From above you will notice those allied forces still beyond the stream have found themselves in an untenable position.

And just because it's probably going to be the last turn and those French cuirassiers still haven't done anything - they charge. The target fails to square up. Need I go on?
Final overviews

And so, as night falls the Allies withdraw. The Corsican Ogre is delighted at the news of the victory and wastes no time writing it up for the Parisian papers. His stepson has covered his eagles with glory. Surely now the Prussians and Russians will be busy blaming each other for this defeat and General Schwarzenburg will be advising his Emperor to seek terms with France. Surely now perfidious Albions' coffers will run dry. Vive Le France! 
I don't know if any of you picked up on it but I was the Russian commander until my untimely wounding. If this report seemed biased until that point it is because it was. History is written by the blogger.
Big thank you to James for giving us cause to get this one started.
A most enjoyable play test game in which many situations were stumbled upon and resolved.
Even those of us whose favourite periods are "those other ones" enjoyed it - hence its protracted continuance. Everybody is loving the big battalion look. Somehow I feel the only 12 figure infantry units we'll be seeing in the future will be those fleeing the field.
By the way, that was the first battle for my Russians so they probably never really stood a chance did they?