Somewhere in Italy – Combat HQ WW2 Action

Last weekend we met at our local war-game club to run a medium sized WW2 engagement based on the Italian campaign. We played with 15mm figures and the game was a fictional attack by American forces on German and Italian troops holding two small towns.

Combat HQ Ruleset

We used a ruleset new to most of the players called Combat HQ which those of us who have played before, are really enjoying and see a lot of potential for the future. In these rules an base represents an infantry or armoured platoon.

The forces were similar in strength both having in the region of 2600 points. We had 5 players, 2 German and 3 American. We divided each side into two battle groups with 2 players sharing one of them.

US Advance

US Troops begin their attack by cresting the hill and getting ambushed by a PAK40 in the town..

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US troops recon the town. As soon as they realise its Italians that are defending it they will be in there like a shot:)

Both sides kept half of their forces off table as reserves at the start. This would later allow them to bring on these forces with triple moves allowing them to quickly deploy where needed.

The battle began with the US advancing cautiously with  a number of Stuarts to recon the  enemy area. Their recon efforts were largely unfruitful as well directed mortar fire forced the Stuarts to retreat into cover. As the attack built the US armour crested the hills in front of the one of the towns only to be met with ambush fire from 2 previously hidden PAK40s.

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A Stug III puts on the breaks as US infantry open fire..

Two Stug IIIs were sent to engage but the US infantry taking up an advance position on the edge of a wood soon sent them scurrying back to the town for safety.

On the other flank 3 Sherman platoons and 7 infantry platoons formed up for their attack on the other village. Unfortunately they were hit by a well directed German 105mm artillery battery from off table.  Their close proximity to each other made the barrage so much more effective and most of the infantry were sent backwards looking for a safe place to hide and pull themselves together.

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US infantry ready to attack under the cover of an ATG and M10.

US troops on the right flank started to pressurise the German defences. A 57mm ATG and an M10 began firing on the defenders. At this point US reinforcements were pouring into the battle but it was the German reserves that first saw an opportunity to follow up the success of their artillery. Three Panzer 4 platoons were ordered up from reserve positions and ordered to attack. Unfortunately 2 of them got bogged down in some soft terrain and by the time they recovered, the opportunity had gone. There were lots of medium range engagements betweenPanzer 4s, Stugs, German ATGs and in total about 7 Shermans. As the Shermans got a little too close to the infantry at times they were met with Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck fire from the infantry and in truth were lucky to escape.

We ran out of time, as gamers always do, with the US about to launch a concentrated attack on both the village and town. The germans were hard pressed particularly in the town which was defended by a company of Italian infantry.

All in all we had a great day. With so many players new to the rules we didn’t get as far as we would have liked and in hindsight it probably was quite a large battle for a FIRST game, but i think everyone is up to speed now and we are all looking forward to our next adventure into WW2 with Combat HQ.

If you would like to find out more about the rules then visit the website at http://wargamesdesign.com where you will find free sample rules or join Combat HQ Yahoo group.

Hope you enjoyed it. Until next time.

Mike

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Battle of Lutzen 1813 – Blucher Game

During the last couple of weeks our mid week gaming group, a motley crew, got together to fight the battle of Lutzen. Our chosen set of rules was Blucher by Sam Mustafa, a particular favourite of mine and since it was to be fought at my house i got to choose.

First of all a big thank you to the Oldmeldrum Wargames Group and Ross in particular for all their help. This scenario was developed and tested by their group and we played exactly as they did.

The game itself was fought using Blucher rules, over two nights on a 8 foot by 5 foot table using 15mm figures. Altogether the order of battle fielded 41 allied units and 45 French units so all in all somewhere in the region of 1700 figures…

We played the historical battle with timed troop arrival to the battlefield at the relevant locations. This is a very interesting battle for a number of reasons.

  1. French had the largest number of troops but they were of poor quality, most of them having died in the Russian winter.
  2. The main French troops however were not present at the start of the battle but were to arrive throughout the day.
  3. Probably the most telling shortcoming for the French was their lack of cavalry.
  4. On the Allied side, their challenge was to take the four main towns of Gross Groschen, Rahna, Klien Groschen and Kaja before the French reinforcements and nightfall would arrive.

Lutzen4

The battle started at 11:20 with the Prussian 1st Corp led by Blucher attacking Gross Gorschen and Rahna which were lightly defended by Souham and elements of the French 3rd Corps. The French were surprised by the strength of the allied force and struggled to deal with the combined arms of the allied troops. The allies decided their strategy would be to try to destroy the French troops and leave the capture of the towns until later that day. They had almost two hours to achieve that aim before the French 6th Corps and the rest of the 3rd corps were likely to arrive. In the end, after fierce fighting between the towns the French somehow held on until their reinforcements arrived and started to stabilise the situation.

Its now 13:00 and during the next few hours the allied troops began to arrive and take their place in the attack. The Prussian and Russian 2nd Corps arrived together with the Russian reserve. The Allied forces had grown by about 40,000 men and once again the French were being pushed back and destroyed by sheer weight of numbers.

Lutzen1

The French had no solution to the mass of Allied cavalry initially and were being pounded by the heavy Russian and Prussian batteries. They knew their only cavalry force worth considering was the Latour’s 1 corp cavalry and the Guard cavalry neither of which had significant numbers and were en route and may not even arrive before darkness.

15:00 and mid afternoon arrived and the allies were pretty much in control of the battlefield. French reinforcements had been stopped on the hills near Pobles by allied cavalry powerless to advance from the heights. But the allies still hadn’t captured the towns which so far had been ignored. At 15:20 the attack began and Gross Groschen and Rahna were quickly taken.

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As the bodies piled up between the towns and with signs that darkness was on the way the French had just about bled to death. An allied victory looked certain. But around about 16:20 Mortier arrived with the Imperial Guard quickly followed by the 4th corps and cavalry Corps. The guard made their advance on the two fallen towns and all over the field, the French infantry began to push forward. They took casualties in the face of repeated allied cavalry charges and once again the fierce fire of the allied guns. But the effectiveness of the allied artillery had gone and everywhere the artillery started to with draw. The allied cavalry was spent and the last hours of the battle were to be fought by infantry.

The fighting around the towns was fierce. Troops walked across the bodies of fallen dead comrades to make good their attack on the towns. The guard took many casualties getting to contact but once they did their quality began to make the difference. They recaptured Rahna and pressed on towards Gross Gorschen.

But night had finally come. Both sides had realised that it was pointless to continue, and the allied forces withdrew leaving the French in charge of the towns.

At the end of the battle both sides still had fresh troops ready to fight. Not every soldier had faced the enemy that day and with the result a bloody draw the fighting ended.

This had been a very interesting game. The french struggled with low quality troops, the allies had the smaller numbers and limited time. It was interesting to see how each side approached the battle and the never ending arrival of reinforcements from various directions was always a challenge. Bluchers reserve move worked particularly well and allowed troops held strategically in reserve, to either plug the gaps in the line or face a threat from a new direction.

Once again Blucher rules had given us a great game, a real feel of having to deal with problems faced by Napoleonic commanders and a historical outcome to the battle.

Big thankyou once again to Oldmeldrum Wargames Group and Ross in particular who provided answers to my never ending questions while setting up the scenario.

Mike

 

 

 

Quatre Bras with a lot of what ifs with BP rules

On the 17th of October 9 players and a number of entheuastic spectators met to play out a Napoleonic encounter between French and British. The idea for the game first came to light a year ago. At that time we had no 28mm napoleonic figures at all. So began a year long buying and painting program which would eventually lead to the recent battle. 1200 figures, with troops closely based on the Quatre Bras OOB, found their way to the table in the end.

Waterloo had ended and Napoleon had left the battlefield and gone back to paris in a huff. But Ney managed to rally some of the retreating French troops and had high hopes of still winning the campaign and pushing the British and Allied troops back.

To make things a bit more realistic we used one of the Scharnhorst maps from the excellent Blucher ruleset which most of us have and had been playing recently.

Flanders Map Movement

Flanders Map Movement

 

The campaign started with the French and Allied forces manoeuvring for position. The first night the French sent out a strong cavalry force to see if they could find and identify the enemy location and route of march. The light allied screen was easily driven off and this early victory and gathering of intelligence was to prove vital as the forces concetrated for battle the next morning. The French (blue arrows) had concentrated their forces and moved east in an attempt to cross the river at Oudenese. The allies had split their forces choosing to have two columns stay north and capture the strategic town of Deinzel. With the French now in possession of Oudenese and Duifel and forming behind the river, both sides realised that a large part of the allied force was still moving just south of Deinzil and it would be late in the day before they would have any affect in the imminent battle. The green border shows the final position on the map and the table upon which we would play.

The Battle

So it was that that morning the Allied troops were outnumbered 3 to 2. Their orders to hold the initial French attack long enough for the reinforcements to arrive. On the left flank and well in advance of the rest of the army a lone British brigade had deployed on top of a ridge line covering the river crossing.

British advance to deploy on hill

British advance to deploy on hill while the French arrive on the far side of the river

A few companies of rifles held a small wood at the foot of the hills much closer to the river. The Brunswick brigade held the centre of the allied position in support.

On the allied right the 2nd Netherlands division and the 3rd Infantry Division advanced towards the town of Dracula and prepared to attack it. Dracula was to suck in troops all day long and exchange hands many times with much spilt blood throughout the day.

British Gurad units press home the attack on Dracula

British Gurad units press home the attack on Dracula

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British Brigade begins the attack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t long before the drums of the familiar “Pas de Charge” could be heard. The French had spotted the isolated British brigade on the hill by the river and this was to be their first target. Two large infantry brigades supported by what seemed like a somewhat reluctant brigade of Dragoons attacked in columns.

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French columns and Pas de Charge in unison

Light guns from another French light cavalry brigade supported the attack from a hill opposite. The British were hopelessly outnumbered. The rifles did their best to disrupt the French formations but they just kept coming. The British lines at first held steady as column after column climbed the hill towards them. The allied troops at Dracula tried to advance to threaten the flank of one of the French brigades but in the end the French were victorious and the British forward troops melted away and took no further part in the battle.

The first act of the battle it seemed was over. The victorious French brigades took some time to reform as a fresh French division arrived and marched towards Dracula.

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British ordered to attack French Dragoons on left flank

For a time a large gap had appeared to the left of the Brunswicker’s but the arrival of allied dragoons and light cavalry brigade plugged the gap almost immediately. For some time the brave Brunswickers Hussars repeatedly charged the French columns forcing them into square and slowing their advance.

Close by the British and French Dragoons stood facing each other wondering if this day they would be victors or vanquished.

A French brigade was in possession of Dracula and another, that had been part of the same division which attacked the British hill, turned ninety degrees and was now involved in the battle at the same location.

Despite facing the Dutch, British and Brunswick brigades they held on, for a while at least, before the 73rd Highlanders managed to force them out of the town. For the next couple of hours this was the main focus of the French attack.

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French Cavalry arrive to support the attack on the town

Both sides fought heroically although Wellington did at one point, take it upon himself to ride over to the Brunswickers and exchange harsh words with the Duke about his unwillingness to leave the hill.

In the distance two fresh French brigades had arrived and pressed home their attack on Dracula once more to evict the highlanders and reclaim the prize.

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French Dragoons and Lancers watch closely ready to pick up the pieces

At the same time a brigade of French dragoons arrived and quickly took up position in the centre of the French line.

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These units gradually forced back the Brunswick infantry to their starting position and the relative safety of the hill south of Dracula.

The Brunswick Hussars and now an allied light cavalry brigade were causing havoc with the French columns on the allied left. The French dragoons in support had no option but to charge the allied dragoons.

Things didn’t go well for the  allies and within 15 minutes two regiments had been badly beaten and had to withdraw. This gave the dragoons the freedom to attack the allied light cavalry and allowed the infantry to renew their advance once more.

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As the forces around Dracula ground each other to a halt, the unthinkable happened. West of the town , clearly visible, Wellington spotted the head of three French battalions of the French Guard. This is what the allies had feared. Even though to the rear of the front line a fresh British infantry division had arrived was marching to shore up any gaps and replace the by now unsteady brigades, it looked like this would be the final blow. The Guard advanced towards the town and first settled on attacking a battalion of Nassau.

The Guard are coming!

The Guard are coming!

These troops had fought most of the day but had stood firm. As the French attacked and awaited what would be their inevitable victory, the Nassau responded with a thunderous volley and charge. Troops stood back in amazement as the guard faltered and withdrew. Shouts of “la Guarde Recule” and “merde” could clearly be heard as the allied troops watching nearby raised their Shakos on the end of their bayonets in salute.

A historic moment had been achieved but it was never going to be a winning one. The Guard were relentless. They took the town and set about forming up to press home their advantage.

The fresh British troops were arriving close by but night had fallen.

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Picton finally arrives but too late to effect the battle

It was much too dark to risk the remainder of his troops wandering into the guard unprepared, and so Wellington admitted defeat and withdrew.

Waterloo Day Three

I can honestly say this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. To be so close to the camp, the drilling and then the battle on the last night really brought home to me all the history I’ve read and loved over the years. I still say if I could have lived in another time this would have been it. Of course it’s a much more glamorous affair three days at a reenactment. How different the actual day must have been. Yet being so close to the battle action on the last night will be something I will always remember. The smell of the powder, the sound of the guns and the daring cavalry chargers are something many of us dearly aspire to recreating on the tableto.

I have so many photos still to process and so many individual stories Ruth and I came across it will take weeks to sort through.

Here are a few of my favourite moments as I sit on a train that I can recall.

In the camp Blucher rode past on his horse. Someone in the crowd shouted “Vive l’Emperur”. He stopped, gave them the finger and charged with his sword drawn. The crowd erupted with laughter and applause.

I have to admit to being really moved by the sight of the Inniskillings ” the skins” walking to the spot where their comrades had stood 200 years ago in square holding the British line, laying a wreath and firing a volley.

Before the battle on the last night everyone on the battlefield stood for a minutes silence in respect and rememberance of the dead. During the reenactment an actor was killed and two horses had to be destroyed. On the final night one of the British was carried off on a stretcher. In another incident a French Hussar who was trying to recapture an Eagle taken by the British was thrown from his horse but his foot caught in the stirrups. The horse threw him about for a good minute before he managed to get free. He quickly stood up an waved to the crowd who greeted him with cheers. All the re actors deserve a lot of respect for their commitment to portraying the history of the Napoleonic period. The uniforms were fantastic and attention to detail even in the bivouac was amazing. A contingent of Canadian Inniskillings joined our own boys from Carrick and they slept out rough as they did 200 years ago.

 

the allies take up their positions

  

french and allied cavalry get to it after the british capture an eagle

    

the French show us how not to clear out a gun

  

the Prussians advance

  

the 33rd will advance

  

the men relax while the musicians play

  

where did Sergent Harper go?

 

Waterloo Day Two

Day two and it’s time to visit the French. Buses were available but we preferred to walk. We started at the British positions and walked along the road past La Haye Saint. We have been here twice before but this time the site was absolutely buzzing with people and cars.

The French were camped about a mile past La Belle Alliance around Ferme du Caillou which is where Napoleon slept and his last headquarters.

There are a lot less French infantry than British or that’s what it seems like, but there are a lot more cavalry actors. We had lunch in a tent sat between some French dragons and a bunch of infantry men. 

The uniforms are very authentic.

Later we went back to the Allied camp and a visit to the Inniskillings once again. Much more to see at this camp with the variation of uniform types. My favourite were the Brunswickers! 

Later that night we were at the battle. They had laid out the battlefield with mock, scaled down versions of La Haye Saint and Hougoumont.  It liked fantastic. We were sitting just left of the crossroads and in the thick of the fighting. The action was great. I really got a great appreciation of how much spoke and noise there must have been and all this with only 6000 men instead of 200 thousand.

Not a lot of time today for photos but I will describe the battle in more detail later.

Just a few photos to whet your appetite.

   

  

  

  

  

Brunswick Leib Guard ready to move out

  

Brunswick Officer

 The Duke?

Waterloo 2015 Bicentenary Celebrations Day One 

Really lucky to have the opportunity to visit the Waterloo celebrations with Ruth this year. Excitement was dampened somewhat when I realised we needed to leave at 2:30am to catch the flight from Dublin. After a delay of one hour on the Tarmac before talking off, a 75 minute flight, a 30 minute wait for baggage, a 20 minute train journey, 15 minute walk to hotel, 15 min walk back to the train, 20 minute train to Waterloo we arrived!

Nothing scheduled for today other than practice for the 5000 re-enactors coming to Waterloo from literally all over the world. Luckily we had bought tickets for the bivouacs and were free to wander around the tents and get up close and personal to the re-enactors.

Not a lot of time to write as tomorrow’s schedule involves all day at the battlefield starting with a visit to the French campsite and ending with the mock battle. We will be sitting just alongside La Haye Saint and watching D’erlons attack. We think we know the result but you never know!

So here are some very rough pictures straight off the camera with no editing.

 

Highlanders make their way to Hougoumont

  

The Rifles

  

The Inniskillings lay a reath at the point where rheir comrads fell 200 years ago

  

French Cavalry Officers review their troop

  

French Bugle Calls and Carbines

  

Inside Hougoumont

  

Highlanders practice forming square

  

Officer on Parade!

  

Ah the lovely Brunswickers with their strange drill commands!

   

Somebody yelled shut the gates, so i did!


More to follow tomorrow.

Mike 

BlueMax Online Game

For a couple of years now part of my early morning ritual has been my daily fix of BlueMax. BlueMax is a web version of the popular board game of the same name. How close it is to the original game I have no idea. 

The game is an aerial combat game set during WW1. Now first off I can here you all say I don’t have time. Let me assure you, the required time each day to complete your move is less than two minutes. You can of course play in more games or my particular favourite which is playing in a league.

There are many scenarios available which present different situations, numbers of enemy and allies and of course different aircraft all with different characteristics.

All games are multiplayer online games. That means your opponent is a similarity afflicted nerd somewhere else in the world just as weird as you are and maybe even more so.

Each turn you plot the path your plane wishes to fly and the speed. Once all the players have completed their moves then the results are shown and its on to the next move. Damage occurs to fuselage, engine, wings and tails and when you are reduced to zero you go down in flames and die horribly.

I recommend the game because although it is simple to play the fact that some pilots are well known for their prowess in the skies suggests that there are skills to be mastered and fame to be enjoyed.

The game runs on any internet browser as far as I know and is of course free. To play you need to visit http://www.youplay.it. To the top left of the page is a register button where you setup your username and password. There are other games on this site but you should choose BlueMax. Then you should see a list of available games. You need to subscribe to one of these. Once all the planes in the scenario are taken by players the game will start and you will receive an email.Just be careful its BlueMax you have chosen and not one of the other games you are signing up for.

It’s really not that difficult and is a huge amount of fun.

Happy hunting and if you see M1kel in the skies, don’t shoot.