Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

War and Peace 2017

Posted on July 27th, 2017 under , , , , . Posted by

I’ve been to the War and Peace living history event, the largest gathering of military vehicles (outside of an army base) in the world. I had originally planned to go on Tuesday which was bathed in glorious sunshine but my work schedule changed and I ended up going today instead. Aside from one small rain shower its been a great day with an amazing array of military vehicles on display. As usual there were lots of excellently restored jeeps and trucks but also this sort of event also attracts several unique and very rare machines.

War and Peace also has one of the biggest Militaria markets and if you own a historic vehicle you can find pretty much anything here. Its a fascinating place to explore and its like walking though a museum where you can handle the exhibits and, if you have deep pockets, own a bit of history.

War and Peace is back at Paddock Wood in Kent

A Sherman that has been used as a range target

Evidence of multiple hits from modern penetrative ‘darts’ from discarding sabot rounds 

Inside the Model Marquee

A Bira Gun

A few items for sale…

Rear view of a CVRT recovery tank

Valentine DD Tank

Leopard MBT

Leopard Main Battle Tank

German Nebelwerfer 

SdKfz 2, better known as the Kettenkrad

A German filed repair of a halftrack

American armour

The M3 Stuart

Sherman with a cast hull

Another Sherman this time with a welded hull

Vietnam era American Artillery piece

Ford Carrier…I love these. I’ll put this on my Christmas list…

A German Sturmgeschütz III

A very rare original Marder SPG built from a Czechoslovak 38t Hull.  

Two VW Kübelwagen taking part in a big battle reenactment

German AT Gun takes out an American Greyhound AC

American Half Track

Opel Blitz in German service.

The Leopard MBT

Bruce Crompton riding in a Russian T34

FV432 armoured personnel carrier

CVRT Recovery Tank

War and Peace 2017

Posted on July 27th, 2017 under , , , , . Posted by

I’ve been to the War and Peace living history event, the largest gathering of military vehicles (outside of an army base) in the world. I had originally planned to go on Tuesday which was bathed in glorious sunshine but my work schedule changed and I ended up going today instead. Aside from one small rain shower its been a great day with an amazing array of military vehicles on display. As usual there were lots of excellently restored jeeps and trucks but also this sort of event also attracts several unique and very rare machines.

War and Peace also has one of the biggest Militaria markets and if you own a historic vehicle you can find pretty much anything here. Its a fascinating place to explore and its like walking though a museum where you can handle the exhibits and, if you have deep pockets, own a bit of history.

War and Peace is back at Paddock Wood in Kent

A Sherman that has been used as a range target

Evidence of multiple hits from modern penetrative ‘darts’ from discarding sabot rounds 

Inside the Model Marquee

A Bira Gun

A few items for sale…

Rear view of a CVRT recovery tank

Valentine DD Tank

Leopard MBT

Leopard Main Battle Tank

German Nebelwerfer 

SdKfz 2, better known as the Kettenkrad

A German filed repair of a halftrack

American armour

The M3 Stuart

Sherman with a cast hull

Another Sherman this time with a welded hull

Vietnam era American Artillery piece

Ford Carrier…I love these. I’ll put this on my Christmas list…

A German Sturmgeschütz III

A very rare original Marder SPG built from a Czechoslovak 38t Hull.  

Two VW Kübelwagen taking part in a big battle reenactment

German AT Gun takes out an American Greyhound AC

American Half Track

Opel Blitz in German service.

The Leopard MBT

Bruce Crompton riding in a Russian T34

FV432 armoured personnel carrier

CVRT Recovery Tank

Back to the Royal Engineers Museum

Posted on July 17th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Over the weekend I went back to one of my favourite local military collections, the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham. There are lots of reasons why this excellent museum is worth a visit and every time I go there I find something new. This time I went…

Back to the Royal Engineers Museum

Posted on July 17th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Over the weekend I went back to one of my favourite local military collections, the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham. There are lots of reasons why this excellent museum is worth a visit and every time I go there I find something new. This time I went…

Tanker’s Tuesday : Heinz Guderian

Posted on July 11th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare. …

Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union.

Born: June 17, 1888, Chełmno Poland

Died: May 14, 1954, Schwangau, Germany

Nationality: German

Rank: Colonel general

Tanker’s Tuesday : Heinz Guderian

Posted on July 11th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare. …

Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union.

Born: June 17, 1888, Chełmno Poland

Died: May 14, 1954, Schwangau, Germany

Nationality: German

Rank: Colonel general

A Rum Do

Posted on June 24th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

My son arrived in the early afternoon yesterday so although the table was up and ready I still had to deal with some customers before we could start, and of course I got more in yesterday afternoon than most Friday afternoons.I explained the scenario a…

A Rum Do

Posted on June 24th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

My son arrived in the early afternoon yesterday so although the table was up and ready I still had to deal with some customers before we could start, and of course I got more in yesterday afternoon than most Friday afternoons.I explained the scenario a…

Wizards of Oz

Posted on June 14th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

I didn’t get my Bolt Action game last night as Julian couldn’t get away, which was a shame as I was looking forward to being the ‘goodies’ for a change with my British against his Italians. Instead I joined a game of Battlegroup involving Australians a…

Wizards of Oz

Posted on June 14th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

I didn’t get my Bolt Action game last night as Julian couldn’t get away, which was a shame as I was looking forward to being the ‘goodies’ for a change with my British against his Italians. Instead I joined a game of Battlegroup involving Australians a…

Tanker’s Tuesday : General Creighton Abrams

Posted on June 13th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

A Stocky, Lantern-Jawed, Cigar-Chomping Cavalryman

The battalion was five miles short of its goal that afternoon when its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr., stood on a hill and gazed northward toward Bastogne. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the oldest son of a Boston & Albany Railroad repairman, Abrams was a stocky, lantern-jawed, cigar-chomping cavalryman who had graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1936 and become a courageous, resourceful professional soldier respected by all who knew him. He had earned the respect of Patton.
On that December 26, 1944, Abrams was down to 20 tanks, enough for one more assault. Should he take a chance and ask for permission to head straight for Bastogne, regardless of the strength of enemy opposition? Just then, waves of Douglas C-47 transports roared overhead and started parachuting supplies into Bastogne. Abrams’s mind was made up, and he dashed back to his Sherman, nicknamed “Thunderbolt IV,” and radioed Major General Hugh Gaffey, commander of the 4th Armored Division, for permission to move ahead. The word came a few minutes after 3 p.m.

Abrams At The Battle Of The Bulge
General Creighton Abrams

Tanker’s Tuesday : General Creighton Abrams

Posted on June 13th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

A Stocky, Lantern-Jawed, Cigar-Chomping Cavalryman

The battalion was five miles short of its goal that afternoon when its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr., stood on a hill and gazed northward toward Bastogne. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the oldest son of a Boston & Albany Railroad repairman, Abrams was a stocky, lantern-jawed, cigar-chomping cavalryman who had graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1936 and become a courageous, resourceful professional soldier respected by all who knew him. He had earned the respect of Patton.
On that December 26, 1944, Abrams was down to 20 tanks, enough for one more assault. Should he take a chance and ask for permission to head straight for Bastogne, regardless of the strength of enemy opposition? Just then, waves of Douglas C-47 transports roared overhead and started parachuting supplies into Bastogne. Abrams’s mind was made up, and he dashed back to his Sherman, nicknamed “Thunderbolt IV,” and radioed Major General Hugh Gaffey, commander of the 4th Armored Division, for permission to move ahead. The word came a few minutes after 3 p.m.

Abrams At The Battle Of The Bulge
General Creighton Abrams

Operation Caravan : Player Handouts

Posted on June 12th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

For my Operation Caravan game I wanted to provide each side with a pre game briefing that not only reflected the known historical facts but helped each side appreciate their respective situations. The LRDG players were presented with an operations map and a set of orders from which they would have to devise a plan of attack before seeing the games table. The Italian players received an intelligence briefing that would contain facts of ‘variable quality’! Both of these are reproduced below.


LRDG Orders: “Operation Caravan”

Captain J R Easonsmith – Officer Commanding
Ref maps 1/500,000 – Barce Sheet Number 9 and 10

1. Your Force will consist of three half patrols of LRDG Chevy Trucks. These have been equipped with additional twin mounted MG’s and one vehicle in each Patrol will mount a captured Italian Breda 20mm AA Gun.

2. The destruction of aircraft, infrastructure and material in the Barce sector would severely hamper axis offensive capabilities. Your Objectives are as follows:

I. Your Primary target is the Italian Airfield at Barce. Intelligence reports suggest that 35° Stormo da Bombardamento’ are based here. Destroy as many aircraft as possible, causing the maximum amount of damage and disturbance to the enemy.

II. Secondary objectives such as HQ Buildings, Communications, Hangers and other Airfield Infrastructure should also be degraded.

Additional objective should also be destroyed, but only if this will not prejudice the success of your primary task.

III. Fuel Storage facility and Supply dumps within the Airfield. 

IV. Administrative infrastructure in Barce. Headquarters of local Italian Command.

3. Plan your raid so that it takes place on the night 14/15 September allowing sufficient dark hours to facilitate your escape and evasion of enemy aircraft.

4. Having completed your mission all elements are free to make their own way to the RV selected by you. From there you will return to Kufra to await new orders.

Brigadier General Staff
Distribution: Captain J R Easonsmith (Officer Commanding)
Method of Issue: By Hand


LRDG Operations Map

The operations map is based on actual topography and air reconnaissance pictures taken prior to the raid. The
Ground scale has been truncated to fit everything onto the games table but as far as possible I have tried to
remain true to the tactical situation facing Captain Easonsmith on the night of the raid. 


The LRDG Players were handed their orders and operations map prior to seeing the games table and asked to plan their attack on the Airfield based on these resources. The LRDG raid would by necessity start stealthily (this was a night raid with limited visibility) and rather than play through a dozen turns where nothing happened except movement I decided I would start the game at the point at which the LRDG commenced their attack and the Italians raised the alarm. Any LRDG units involved in this opening action would be placed on the table by myself with additional and as yet un-revealed units remaining off table with their position marked on my map. The LRDG player would be allowed to use the Ambush rule (pg 266-7 in Main rulebook) to place these at the start of any turn they wished to activate them, or when discovered by enemy movement. 
Meanwhile the Italian players would start the game with most of their forces off table and those that were on table would not necessarily be activated immediately. Consequently their handout is more about ‘setting the scene’, giving them some idea of the sort of force heading towards them and from what direction. Above all this handout is designed to deliberately recreate the ‘fog of war’ by presenting lots of information to the Italian commander, most of which is irrelevant or misleading. During the actual Barce Raid the Italians were extremely slow to react to the initial attack by the LRDG. In part this was due to the local Commanders crippling indecision as a result of being faced with a large volume of poor quality intelligence and an enemy that could literally strike from any direction. 

Barce Command Sector Reconnaissance Report

General Piatti dal Pozzo – Officer Commanding Barce Sector

12th September 

Approx 09:00 – Local Arab informants reported spotting a light truck about 30km SW, coming from Carruba. Reported to local Carabinieri and relayed to Barce Command via Telephone.
11:00 hrs – Air reconnaissance ordered by General dal Pozzo reports no vehicles sighted in area. Additional flights ordered for later in the day. 
12:30 Hrs – German supply trucks returning from front reported in sector and intercepted by local Carabinieri. Identity confirmed but noted that no movement orders have been logged with Barce Command. 
14:00 Hrs – Second reconnaissance flight confirm no other vehicles spotted in area. 
19:30 Hrs – Reconnaissance aircraft spot several heavily camouflaged vehicles near the approaches to Barce. Fading light forced flight to return to base before identification could be completed.

13th September 

08:00 Hrs – Informers at Gerdes Charruba spotted 15 trucks heading East towards barce.

12:00 Hrs – Air reconnaissance cannot confirm earlier sighting of trucks.

16:00 Hrs – Patrol of Ordella Irregulars spot a column of vehicles 2km from Gerdes El Abid.

19:00 Hrs – Contact with Police checkpoint at Sidi Buraui lost. Barce Sector command put on alert of potential attack. Target of suspected attack likely to be airfield but without detailed intelligence and with other potential targets further north troops of Barce Command ordered to remain dispersed awaiting orders.


With the scene set, plans made and counter strategies discussed all that remained was for the players to meet across the games table and let battle commence.

Operation Caravan : Player Handouts

Posted on June 12th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

For my Operation Caravan game I wanted to provide each side with a pre game briefing that not only reflected the known historical facts but helped each side appreciate their respective situations. The LRDG players were presented with an operations map and a set of orders from which they would have to devise a plan of attack before seeing the games table. The Italian players received an intelligence briefing that would contain facts of ‘variable quality’! Both of these are reproduced below.


LRDG Orders: “Operation Caravan”

Captain J R Easonsmith – Officer Commanding
Ref maps 1/500,000 – Barce Sheet Number 9 and 10

1. Your Force will consist of three half patrols of LRDG Chevy Trucks. These have been equipped with additional twin mounted MG’s and one vehicle in each Patrol will mount a captured Italian Breda 20mm AA Gun.

2. The destruction of aircraft, infrastructure and material in the Barce sector would severely hamper axis offensive capabilities. Your Objectives are as follows:

I. Your Primary target is the Italian Airfield at Barce. Intelligence reports suggest that 35° Stormo da Bombardamento’ are based here. Destroy as many aircraft as possible, causing the maximum amount of damage and disturbance to the enemy.

II. Secondary objectives such as HQ Buildings, Communications, Hangers and other Airfield Infrastructure should also be degraded.

Additional objective should also be destroyed, but only if this will not prejudice the success of your primary task.

III. Fuel Storage facility and Supply dumps within the Airfield. 

IV. Administrative infrastructure in Barce. Headquarters of local Italian Command.

3. Plan your raid so that it takes place on the night 14/15 September allowing sufficient dark hours to facilitate your escape and evasion of enemy aircraft.

4. Having completed your mission all elements are free to make their own way to the RV selected by you. From there you will return to Kufra to await new orders.

Brigadier General Staff
Distribution: Captain J R Easonsmith (Officer Commanding)
Method of Issue: By Hand


LRDG Operations Map

The operations map is based on actual topography and air reconnaissance pictures taken prior to the raid. The
Ground scale has been truncated to fit everything onto the games table but as far as possible I have tried to
remain true to the tactical situation facing Captain Easonsmith on the night of the raid. 


The LRDG Players were handed their orders and operations map prior to seeing the games table and asked to plan their attack on the Airfield based on these resources. The LRDG raid would by necessity start stealthily (this was a night raid with limited visibility) and rather than play through a dozen turns where nothing happened except movement I decided I would start the game at the point at which the LRDG commenced their attack and the Italians raised the alarm. Any LRDG units involved in this opening action would be placed on the table by myself with additional and as yet un-revealed units remaining off table with their position marked on my map. The LRDG player would be allowed to use the Ambush rule (pg 266-7 in Main rulebook) to place these at the start of any turn they wished to activate them, or when discovered by enemy movement. 
Meanwhile the Italian players would start the game with most of their forces off table and those that were on table would not necessarily be activated immediately. Consequently their handout is more about ‘setting the scene’, giving them some idea of the sort of force heading towards them and from what direction. Above all this handout is designed to deliberately recreate the ‘fog of war’ by presenting lots of information to the Italian commander, most of which is irrelevant or misleading. During the actual Barce Raid the Italians were extremely slow to react to the initial attack by the LRDG. In part this was due to the local Commanders crippling indecision as a result of being faced with a large volume of poor quality intelligence and an enemy that could literally strike from any direction. 

Barce Command Sector Reconnaissance Report

General Piatti dal Pozzo – Officer Commanding Barce Sector

12th September 

Approx 09:00 – Local Arab informants reported spotting a light truck about 30km SW, coming from Carruba. Reported to local Carabinieri and relayed to Barce Command via Telephone.
11:00 hrs – Air reconnaissance ordered by General dal Pozzo reports no vehicles sighted in area. Additional flights ordered for later in the day. 
12:30 Hrs – German supply trucks returning from front reported in sector and intercepted by local Carabinieri. Identity confirmed but noted that no movement orders have been logged with Barce Command. 
14:00 Hrs – Second reconnaissance flight confirm no other vehicles spotted in area. 
19:30 Hrs – Reconnaissance aircraft spot several heavily camouflaged vehicles near the approaches to Barce. Fading light forced flight to return to base before identification could be completed.

13th September 

08:00 Hrs – Informers at Gerdes Charruba spotted 15 trucks heading East towards barce.

12:00 Hrs – Air reconnaissance cannot confirm earlier sighting of trucks.

16:00 Hrs – Patrol of Ordella Irregulars spot a column of vehicles 2km from Gerdes El Abid.

19:00 Hrs – Contact with Police checkpoint at Sidi Buraui lost. Barce Sector command put on alert of potential attack. Target of suspected attack likely to be airfield but without detailed intelligence and with other potential targets further north troops of Barce Command ordered to remain dispersed awaiting orders.


With the scene set, plans made and counter strategies discussed all that remained was for the players to meet across the games table and let battle commence.

Operation Caravan at Broadside Wargames Show

Posted on June 11th, 2017 under , , , , , , . Posted by

I’m aching all over after what has proved to be an exhausting but utterly brilliant day at Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne. Our demo game won Best in Show (!!) and I’m buzzing with excitement as a result. First off let me say a huge thank…

Operation Caravan at Broadside Wargames Show

Posted on June 11th, 2017 under , , , , , . Posted by

I’m aching all over after what has proved to be an exhausting but utterly brilliant day at Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne. Our demo game won Best in Show (!!) and I’m buzzing with excitement as a result. First off let me say a huge thank…

Operation Caravan : Planning a Demo Game

Posted on June 11th, 2017 under , , . Posted by

For regular readers planning on attending today’s Broadside Games Show in Sittingbourne you will probably already know that I am running my first demo game for Posties Rejects. This is my opportunity to show off a small portion of my 6mm North Africa collection and to showcase the versatility of this scale for running what is essentially a skirmish type game on a very large canvas. I’ll post some pictures of the actual game hopefully later today but in the meantime here’s a bit of detail about the historical scenario I chose to replicate and how I went about it.


Operation Caravan : The Raid on Barce

The Long Range Desert Group’s primary role was as a reconnaissance unit and their day to day work didn’t naturally lend itself to direct confrontation with the enemy. However they were occasionally employed in a more offensive role, particularly when they began their collaboration with the SAS in the latter half of 1942. One of the most celebrated raids from this period occurred in September 1942 and was part of a coordinated series of attacks designed to weaken Axis lines of communication in the region ahead of the El Alamein offensive.

Captain (temporary Major for this
operation) Jake Easonsmith was in overall
command and was awarded the DSO

Operation Agreement consisted of four simultaneous raids against targets in Tobruk, Benghazi, Jalo Oasis and Barce by units of the LRDG, SAS, SBS and the Sudan Defence Force. Security however was poor and news of the raids almost certainly leaked to the enemy resulting in the failure of all but one of the raids. The attack on the airfield at Barce [Bar’Chay] codenamed Operation Caravan was an exclusively LRDG affair and was the most successful of the four raids.

Italian forces in the area were significant and in a straight fight the LRDG would have been hopelessly outmatched. They were spotted several times on their 1850 km journey towards their target and Italian intelligence reports grew as the raiders approached Barce. However the intelligence was patchy, sometimes contradictory and Italian commanders in the area did not give sufficient credence to reports from local tribesmen. In the final analysis Italian commanders should have been better prepared, the result was that when the raid started widely dispersed Italian forces were slow to react allowing most of the LRDG vehicles to escape the immediate area.

Based on LRDG reports it was thought that the raid destroyed or damaged 32 aircraft, mainly bombers, although official Italian figures say just 16 aircraft were destroyed and seven damaged. Airfield infrastructure was also badly hit with hangers, service buildings, barracks and telegraph lines destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Probably the most significant impact however was on Italian morale. They had been badly mauled by a force that struck out of the dark and then seemed to vanish back into the night; The Italians came to described the LRDG as ‘Pattuglia Fantasma’ or Ghost Patrols. In future significant resources would have to be used to protect important military sites many hundreds of miles behind the supposed ‘front lines’.

A photo showing  the sort of destruction a raid like this can achieve.

After the success of the raid, followed the cost. The LRDG were not able to make a completely clean getaway and after their initial sluggish response Italian forces were finally able to mount an effective pursuit. The LRDG were to suffer significant losses as the Italians harassed their escape routes and attacked them from the air. Despite losing most of their vehicles there were amazingly no deaths amongst the raiders. 11 Men suffered injuries and 10 were captured although 4 escaped a year later and rejoined their units. For their part in the operation, there were a number of gallantry awards: Major Easonsmith and Captain Wilder were awarded the DSO, Captain Lawson the Military Cross, Corporal Craw, Trooper Tippett, and Dobson received the Military Medal; The highest medal tally for any single LRDG action.

Historical Forces and Wargaming Compromises

I quickly established a list of units and forces that were involved in the raid on Barce and the more I read the better I understood what parts the various Italian units played and at what stage they were encountered by the LRDG. It soon became apparent that I would have to make a few compromises and substitutions either due to limitations in availability of figures or gaps in the units available in the rulebooks. Either way the Italian forces I needed didn’t fit into any existing army list.

Historical Forces Alternatives Selected

LRDG
5 Jeeps (HQ) 2 Jeeps (HQ)
2 Half Patrols (12 Chevy Trucks) 3 Half Patrols (18 Chevy Trucks)

Mobile Italian Forces in the area
8th Blackshirts Section Battaglione Bersaglieri
Machine Gun Battalion Included in above
Company of Carabinieri Reali (Possibly on Motorcycles?)               Bersaglieri Motociclisti
Italia Africa Police in AB41 Armoured Cars Five AB41 AC’s
10th Light Tanks Co in L3/35 Tanketts Four L3/35 Tanketts
Italian Forces based on Barce Airfield
Unspecified number of Sentries and MG Positions                            6 Rife/MG Teams 
1 Battery of 12.7cm AA Guns Breda AA Guns in Trucks

Obviously the Italians massively outnumber the LRDG but it has to be remembered that these units are dispersed throughout the Barce command area, not concentrated near the airfield. In addition the LRDG were never going to play fairly and always used surprise and audacity to keep their enemy wrong footed. For this scenario this means that most of the Italian command will start the game in reserve and will arrive on table randomly throughout the game. The challenge for the Italian players will be whether and how to concentrate their forces before the LRDG destroy their targets and escape.

For the LRDG I decided that if the players were to stand a chance they needed a little more help in the form of an additional half patrol of Chevrolet Trucks. The game can of course be played with just two patrols but the odds are then stacked against the British players.

I used the 3rd Edition Flames of War rules for this game with some heavy editing of the rules to simplify and streamline play. When the 4th Edition rules came out earlier this year I did briefly consider converting everything to run with them but in the end I decided not to. I have tried as far as possible to keep the rules as streamlined as possible, with novice players (and my own sanity) in mind. I also decided early on to handle most of the ‘admin’ myself (acting as umpire) so that newbie players could focus on moving the units instead of mastering sometimes quite nuanced and detailed rules.

The battle takes place at night so this helped simplify things as there is no artillery or aircraft to worry about. I didn’t use the night fighting rules from the rulebook, instead adapting them to make game play simpler. So instead of rolling to see how far a unit can see at night, I have set visibility and movement to a fixed 8″. Movement on roads is better and units that fire from stationery positions are visible at normal ranges because they can be spotted by the flash of their guns. I decided not to penalise units that moved and fired to encourage movement on the battlefield.

The game starts when the shooting starts and that means most of the LRDG’s approach to their target is planned before the game begins. I gave the LRDG player a set of operational orders and then asked them the exact route of their approach. I then decided at what point they had been spotted and started the game from that point. This saved a lot of time as it would have taken them about 8 turns of movement to reach the target and that would have been a bit boring for the Italian players!

Some special rules I used pretty much unaltered, such as the Scattered Reserves rule for the Italian forces. The only change I made was to have those reserves approach from different directions based on a dice roll. This means the same game can be played several times and no two games will work out the game with Italian forces arriving randomly both in time and direction. Its a headache for the Italian players but it also makes it a challenging tactical scenario. 

Operation Caravan : Planning a Demo Game

Posted on June 11th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

For regular readers planning on attending today’s Broadside Games Show in Sittingbourne you will probably already know that I am running my first demo game for Posties Rejects. This is my opportunity to show off a small portion of my 6mm North Africa collection and to showcase the versatility of this scale for running what is essentially a skirmish type game on a very large canvas. I’ll post some pictures of the actual game hopefully later today but in the meantime here’s a bit of detail about the historical scenario I chose to replicate and how I went about it.


Operation Caravan : The Raid on Barce

The Long Range Desert Group’s primary role was as a reconnaissance unit and their day to day work didn’t naturally lend itself to direct confrontation with the enemy. However they were occasionally employed in a more offensive role, particularly when they began their collaboration with the SAS in the latter half of 1942. One of the most celebrated raids from this period occurred in September 1942 and was part of a coordinated series of attacks designed to weaken Axis lines of communication in the region ahead of the El Alamein offensive.

Captain (temporary Major for this
operation) Jake Easonsmith was in overall
command and was awarded the DSO

Operation Agreement consisted of four simultaneous raids against targets in Tobruk, Benghazi, Jalo Oasis and Barce by units of the LRDG, SAS, SBS and the Sudan Defence Force. Security however was poor and news of the raids almost certainly leaked to the enemy resulting in the failure of all but one of the raids. The attack on the airfield at Barce [Bar’Chay] codenamed Operation Caravan was an exclusively LRDG affair and was the most successful of the four raids.

Italian forces in the area were significant and in a straight fight the LRDG would have been hopelessly outmatched. They were spotted several times on their 1850 km journey towards their target and Italian intelligence reports grew as the raiders approached Barce. However the intelligence was patchy, sometimes contradictory and Italian commanders in the area did not give sufficient credence to reports from local tribesmen. In the final analysis Italian commanders should have been better prepared, the result was that when the raid started widely dispersed Italian forces were slow to react allowing most of the LRDG vehicles to escape the immediate area.

Based on LRDG reports it was thought that the raid destroyed or damaged 32 aircraft, mainly bombers, although official Italian figures say just 16 aircraft were destroyed and seven damaged. Airfield infrastructure was also badly hit with hangers, service buildings, barracks and telegraph lines destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Probably the most significant impact however was on Italian morale. They had been badly mauled by a force that struck out of the dark and then seemed to vanish back into the night; The Italians came to described the LRDG as ‘Pattuglia Fantasma’ or Ghost Patrols. In future significant resources would have to be used to protect important military sites many hundreds of miles behind the supposed ‘front lines’.

A photo showing  the sort of destruction a raid like this can achieve.

After the success of the raid, followed the cost. The LRDG were not able to make a completely clean getaway and after their initial sluggish response Italian forces were finally able to mount an effective pursuit. The LRDG were to suffer significant losses as the Italians harassed their escape routes and attacked them from the air. Despite losing most of their vehicles there were amazingly no deaths amongst the raiders. 11 Men suffered injuries and 10 were captured although 4 escaped a year later and rejoined their units. For their part in the operation, there were a number of gallantry awards: Major Easonsmith and Captain Wilder were awarded the DSO, Captain Lawson the Military Cross, Corporal Craw, Trooper Tippett, and Dobson received the Military Medal; The highest medal tally for any single LRDG action.

Historical Forces and Wargaming Compromises

I quickly established a list of units and forces that were involved in the raid on Barce and the more I read the better I understood what parts the various Italian units played and at what stage they were encountered by the LRDG. It soon became apparent that I would have to make a few compromises and substitutions either due to limitations in availability of figures or gaps in the units available in the rulebooks. Either way the Italian forces I needed didn’t fit into any existing army list.

Historical Forces Alternatives Selected

LRDG
5 Jeeps (HQ) 2 Jeeps (HQ)
2 Half Patrols (12 Chevy Trucks) 3 Half Patrols (18 Chevy Trucks)

Mobile Italian Forces in the area
8th Blackshirts Section Battaglione Bersaglieri
Machine Gun Battalion Included in above
Company of Carabinieri Reali (Possibly on Motorcycles?)               Bersaglieri Motociclisti
Italia Africa Police in AB41 Armoured Cars Five AB41 AC’s
10th Light Tanks Co in L3/35 Tanketts Four L3/35 Tanketts
Italian Forces based on Barce Airfield
Unspecified number of Sentries and MG Positions                            6 Rife/MG Teams 
1 Battery of 12.7cm AA Guns Breda AA Guns in Trucks

Obviously the Italians massively outnumber the LRDG but it has to be remembered that these units are dispersed throughout the Barce command area, not concentrated near the airfield. In addition the LRDG were never going to play fairly and always used surprise and audacity to keep their enemy wrong footed. For this scenario this means that most of the Italian command will start the game in reserve and will arrive on table randomly throughout the game. The challenge for the Italian players will be whether and how to concentrate their forces before the LRDG destroy their targets and escape.

For the LRDG I decided that if the players were to stand a chance they needed a little more help in the form of an additional half patrol of Chevrolet Trucks. The game can of course be played with just two patrols but the odds are then stacked against the British players.

I used the 3rd Edition Flames of War rules for this game with some heavy editing of the rules to simplify and streamline play. When the 4th Edition rules came out earlier this year I did briefly consider converting everything to run with them but in the end I decided not to. I have tried as far as possible to keep the rules as streamlined as possible, with novice players (and my own sanity) in mind. I also decided early on to handle most of the ‘admin’ myself (acting as umpire) so that newbie players could focus on moving the units instead of mastering sometimes quite nuanced and detailed rules.

The battle takes place at night so this helped simplify things as there is no artillery or aircraft to worry about. I didn’t use the night fighting rules from the rulebook, instead adapting them to make game play simpler. So instead of rolling to see how far a unit can see at night, I have set visibility and movement to a fixed 8″. Movement on roads is better and units that fire from stationery positions are visible at normal ranges because they can be spotted by the flash of their guns. I decided not to penalise units that moved and fired to encourage movement on the battlefield.

The game starts when the shooting starts and that means most of the LRDG’s approach to their target is planned before the game begins. I gave the LRDG player a set of operational orders and then asked them the exact route of their approach. I then decided at what point they had been spotted and started the game from that point. This saved a lot of time as it would have taken them about 8 turns of movement to reach the target and that would have been a bit boring for the Italian players!

Some special rules I used pretty much unaltered, such as the Scattered Reserves rule for the Italian forces. The only change I made was to have those reserves approach from different directions based on a dice roll. This means the same game can be played several times and no two games will work out the game with Italian forces arriving randomly both in time and direction. Its a headache for the Italian players but it also makes it a challenging tactical scenario. 

Posties Rejects @ Broadside 2017

Posted on June 7th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Posties Rejects are on their annual trip to the Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne this Sunday coming the 11th June. So come along and say hello. We are at table G6, the Big Red Circle below….Reject BigLee is putting on his first game at a show…

Posties Rejects @ Broadside 2017

Posted on June 7th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Posties Rejects are on their annual trip to the Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne this Sunday coming the 11th June. So come along and say hello. We are at table G6, the Big Red Circle below….Reject BigLee is putting on his first game at a show…

Broadside Demo Game – Sneak Peak

Posted on June 7th, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

Posties Rejects will be running an exhibition game again at this years Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne. This year I’ve been ‘volunteered’ to prepare the game and I have decided its time my 6mm WWII Desert collection got an outing. Yesterday we…

Broadside Demo Game – Sneak Peak

Posted on June 7th, 2017 under , , , , . Posted by

Posties Rejects will be running an exhibition game again at this years Broadside Wargames Show in Sittingbourne. This year I’ve been ‘volunteered’ to prepare the game and I have decided its time my 6mm WWII Desert collection got an outing. Yesterday we…

Bletchley Park – Home of Codebreakers

Posted on June 1st, 2017 under , . Posted by

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went back to Bletchley Park for a long overdue return visit. For those that have been living in a cave for the last 70 years Bletchley Park was the central site for British code breakers during World War II. It was the h…

Bletchley Park – Home of Codebreakers

Posted on June 1st, 2017 under , . Posted by

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went back to Bletchley Park for a long overdue return visit. For those that have been living in a cave for the last 70 years Bletchley Park was the central site for British code breakers during World War II. It was the h…

Making Jungle Terrain

Posted on June 1st, 2017 under , , , . Posted by

My game group is eager to get started on some Caribbean pirate action with Blood and Plunder, but we’re sorely lacking in appropriate terrain. We assembled some Spanish style resin buildings, but the pine trees, oaks and other temperate vegetation I ha…