Wednesday, September 30, 2015

GWSH II - Rolling with the punches, France, August 1914

I am pleased to report that my 6mm Great War project that I started back in July 2014, has finally got off the blocks. After months of (occasional) painting and gathering terrain, I finally played my first game of  Great War Spearhead II last weekend.

I thought it best to start with a simple scenario so I chose Rolling with the Punches - one of Robin Sutton's excellent GWSH II introductory scenarios from his Great Adventure site. This scenario has a small BEF force seeking to delay a German advanced guard during the Great Retreat of August and September 1914.
This gave me the first opportunity to try out my MDF hex terrain. This is a no frills version of the very effective method of using Hexon terrain to build up contours under a terrain mat employed by Robert Dunlop. Alas shipping Hexon terrain to the Antipodes costs more in postage than it cost me to buy this magnificent collection (and you see only a portion of it here) of hand cut (!!!) MDF hexes. I obtained these as a bit of a one off from a local supplier (thanks Mike!). Not that the postage cost is the fault of Kallistra, just a fact of geography!
Hills are laid out in preparation for the felt cloth

I ironed around the hills to improve definition of the contours through the felt.
The aim of this scenario is for this detachment of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to hold the bridge for 6 turns to allow the remaining elements (not depicted) of the BEF to secure a defensive position further south. I was playing solo so to add a level of surprise, I set up he BEF and provided four possible lines of attack for the Germans all of which culminated at the bridge.
The Germans took the initiative but drew the furthest entry point from the bridge. They approach in a series of columns while the BEF defends a perimeter in front of the bridge. British artillery lined the far side of the river near the village and their HQ.
The BEF were under 'defend' orders so had to sight the Germans before they could adjust their deployment.  
German infantry are sighted as they advance up the valley. The German commander orders a regiment of  77mm field guns to deploy on the nearby hill (middle left)
On a tight schedule, the Germans surge forward into small arms range.
Small arms fire takes its toll on the German left while a battery of British 18 pdrs open fire. 

Finally, German field gun regiment lays down a barrage on the British centre hoping to punch a hole through which the advance can continue. Despite the fury of the barrage, the Old Contemptibles stood their ground. At this stage I realised the 6 turns given to the Germans was unrealistic given their distant entry point and decided to extend the time
available to 8 turns.

As the volume of fire increased, companies of infantry were being mown down (destroyed companies marked with white skulls on red bases) on both sides and  those remaining troops were largely suppressed (white skull)



Turn 8: The German advance has stalled. The BEF have paid a heavy price but the order is given to fall back as the main body is now well on its way to the next defensive position. The BEF live to fight another day.
I really enjoyed this first touch of the GWSH II rules. I'm sure I made many mistakes but time and rereading in the light of this experience will sort that out.

I know I've got a long way to go towards learning the intricacies of industrial warfare. The overwhelming feeling from this game was that of blundering into contact, with the Germans driven to accept heavy losses to keep to their tight timetable. Not unlike the events of 1914!

Monday, September 14, 2015

20,000 camels - quenching the thirst of the EEF

By early 1916, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was using nearly 20,000 camels in its transport lines. Camels were organised in companies of about 2,000 led by Egyptian drivers.
Well with horn bucket, Palestine
The water needs of troops on the front line was often supplied by camel convoys with each camel carting two small 12.5 gallon tanks known as fanatis.
Filling fanatis near Jaffa, 1918
I could not resist having a well and camel train (of sorts) to populate a corner of the battlefield. As warmers, I think we often politely ignore the presence of the transport required to get troops into the firing line and supply them when they are there.
Camels with 'well sets'
So, in recognition of all this necessary 'graft' going on behind the lines, here is a scratch build of a couple of hardy engineers pumping up the brackish water from a desert well 'somewhere in Palestine' into the fanatics - ready for carting off to the line.
A05802. Probably PALESTINE, C. 1917. WATER PUMPS USED BY 1ST FIELD SQUADRON ENGINEERS
The two Royal Engineers are Eureka British in Sinai gun crew (yes, I use them for everything!) and the camel are Irregular Miniatures Egyptian Camel Corps (FZ88) with their riders lopped off.

Assembling the well - I'm a slow bricklayer!

Engineer at the well building up a sweat on the water pump
The fanatis display their balsa construction - should have used card!
Its enough to make a chap thirsty. Thanks for looking.

Monday, September 7, 2015

EEF digs in - Battlefield Accessories' Hasty Entrenchments

Not a great deal of progress was made on miniatures this weekend - although a scratch-built Ottoman blinkgerat is on the painting table (second from left in picture below).  These were a signalling lamp powered by acetylene gas and that could be used when there was no sun.
However, I was able to finish off a set of 'hasty entrenchments' I'd purchased a while ago from Battlefield Accessories. These will provides my slowly expanding Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) with some cover while they await the Turks!