Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kursk: Part One - Choosing up the sides

 July 1943. A meticulously planned battle, like Kursk, is quite unusual. It was not like D-Day a well planned battle without one side knowing the battlefield and the other not; neither was it like Stalingrad where both sides stumbled into the titanic clash. Both STAVKA and OKH knew that it was going to happen and where and, in large part, who would be involved. The inevitability took the sting out of the 'when' question too so, as Hitler's gut churned while he waited for Guderian's armoured reforms and his arsenals re-equipping from the drawing board the Russians packed the salient and practiced Maskirovka for all they were worth....This is the story of the northern pincer, Models 9th Army, but more specifically the action leading through the outer defenses and against the Central Russian Ridge to the Olkhovatka hills and a town astride the Orel/Kursk railway line called Ponyri.
 The 375,000 Studebaker trucks lend-lease products of the US factories were beginning to make their presence felt and the factories of Russia, that had begun their repatriation to the Urals on the signing of the movement order on 23rd June 1941, were getting into their massive stride...
The Russians learn quickly. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the Germans were to get flattered to bits. The Pak-front was adopted with gusto by the Russians...
 ...and although there was plenty of lend-lease armour (amounting to 10% of Russia's giant needs) the latest generation of T34 was by a long way the most numerous of tanks to see action
 Known to be a disadvantage to what Russian intelligence sources were telling them the T34's were dug in to present smaller targets and protection...well d'uh.
 A lot of kit was going head first into the ground
 As you can see no expense was spent...cardboard and matchsticks, but somewhere safe for the regimental mortars
 One of the regimental HQ's. The Political Commissar has the Papasha behind the Comrade Colonel in case he doesn't find the CO's orders conforming to party principals
It may not look much but the Russian defence has more surprises than a Parliamentary expenses sheet...and they can hear engines...lots of them.

Next: Hello Huns, keep your panzers on 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Peninsular - Rio Coa 1810

Intermission post for this small Peninsular War action. Wacky Races meets black powder in an effort to get the towels down on the bridge before the enemy does...
Overlooking the action is the fortress of Almeida garrisoned by the Portuguese...
 ...with big guns
 ...and infantry
 Enter stage left the French Army led by Ney...
 And downhill but up wind is Black Bob Craufurd with his British
 The object of the exercise is to get the transport back across the Rio Coa. The vulnerable Penelope Pittstop moving with the alacrity of the Arkansaw Chug-a-bug
 The British, as we usually do, have bitten off more than they can chew. They have pushed over the Coa to find a massive French force approaching. After a bit of a cavalry skirmish Black Bob has been ordered to get back across the bridge in case he is outflanked...which was in the process of happening
 The baggage moves painfully slowly to get away from the continentals (so, no change there then) and a thin screen of troops fall back by fire and manoeuvre covering their breakfast,,,er, sorry, exit
 Resplendent in their old trousers the French advance with confidence...seeing as Ney knows the rules far better than Craufurd
 But as the French advance...
 ...and form column of attack
 the British step backwards
 Eventually the French catch up and the slogging match begins. The 95th stand fast to cover the unit behind turning (only one action at a time for the British, two for the French under Shako 2 rules)
 ...and marching off
 The French, as per usual, have pitched up mob handed and more besides
 ..oh dear..
 The staff look on with a certain confidence
 First outing for Colins new Hanoverian in French service (nice...and red! Shape of things to come?)
 The British are being contacted all along the line
 The Portuguese fire the odd shot as the occasional French unit comes into range
 ...but are helpless to do more and are left chomping at the bit
 On they come in the same old way...

 A battalion of Cacadores hold the British right flank
 But disaster struck! On the slippery road the lead vehicle sheds its load and the blockage is desperate

 Things are getting trickier as the retreating units are now blocking movement and some are even beyond the baggage

 The 95th, assailed by multiple French battalions, are assaulted by two and three at a time...they need a six, then another and another...

...and they do

 Having been righted the baggage goes over again! No one can move along the road

 Thanks to the Portuguese, the 52nd and the 95th, some units are beginning to disengage enough to make for the bridge before the French hordes can cut them off

 Roll well and live!

 And they do

 The right flank is turned and the 52nd fight impossible odds from two directions

 ...but they make the enemy pay dearly do the 95th with their stupendous dice!

 They are mowing the French down...two for no reply

 The baggage is down again aaarrgh!

 ...but 4th Cazadores make it over the bridge. Huzzah and hoorah!

 Followed closely by British lights...

 Meanwhile, the 95th need another miraculous dice to stop the charge...and they get it!

 Nothing can save the 52nd. They're gone.

 Finished to a man. But the game was done bar the last of the 12 move game the Anglo-Portuguese were up 2-1 with the last shot to go...

 They come on in the same old way...and the 95th meet them in the same old way
'En avent! Vive l'Empereur' 
 ...with volley, bayonet and cold silent rage
 They stand and having done all to stand, they stand...
The game was 12 moves. The 95th took out 5 French battalions and won the day.

Fab wargame. Day of days. Now the Old 95th are retired to the cabinet of curiosity along with their winning dice. Mucho, mucho ta to Colin and Mark...what a I'll have to paint a new 95th...blast...