As it was in the beginning…

Many moons ago I acquired a copy of the GHQ rule booklet: “Tank Charts”, first published in 1984.

I have never got around to actually playing a game with this horribly complex (but normal for their time) set of rules.

So I thought that it might be an interesting exercise to evaluate the rules using the described encounters from the book “Battle”, by Kenneth Macksey.  The book documents a fictitious combined arms operation in Normandy in the summer of 1944

The first engagement is by a sniper against a machine gun position (described starting on page 37 of the book).

Snipers are not covered by the rule set, so I used the factors for an infantry rifle half-section.


PFC Cherry (the sniper) reported:

“I consulted my manual to see if I could spot the enemy.  Rule 2.1 states that I have to spot the target before shooting at it.  The MG team was for no apparent reason rated as easy to see as an anti-tank unit.

I consulted my observation table. 

   I had conducted a specific search: +5

   The enemy was concealed: -2

   The enemy was an anti-tank sized unit: -3

   The range was 0-250 yards: +9

5-2-3+9 =9, so I had actually just about seen them (needing 9 or more)

Then I worked out the chances of a successful shot.

I checked my Base Fire Table (Rule 6.2). I rated myself as the equivalent of a five-man rifle unit.  I guess the range was around 200 yards, so my Base Fire Value was 3.  From this I had to subtract 1 because the enemy was “positioned” and 1 because they were in a hedgerow (Rule 6.3).  I checked that my target had been both located and spotted.  Normally I would have only a 1/6 chance of hitting, but because I am American and it was 1944-45, I had a 1/3 chance (Rule 6.4.1).

Having evaluated the chances I pulled the trigger.  A lucky 5 meant that I reduced the enemy strength by 1.     I knew that I would need a second shot to stop them returning fire (Rule 6.4.2).

Because I had just fired they would have a +3 chance of spotting me (Rule 2.2)

This was not looking good.  I needed to skedaddle pronto.”


That was the resolution of one wargame figure firing at two wargame figures.  it took just over an hour to read the rules, evaluate the factors, check the results and document it.  The documented action is supposed to have taken 20 seconds!!!

How the devil did we ever finish a game in the 1980s?

Aha! I remember… We never did finish a game in the 1980s.

I will be evaluating further actions in a similar vein..    The next one from the book will be retaliatory mortar fire.  

Market Garden – preparation for day 2

Since the last Market Garden report, what has been happening?
In effect, lots of preparation for day 2.

Guards Armoured Division has moved into Eindhoven and faces opposition.
The British force consists of 7 units of 2nd (Armoured) Regt. Irish Guards, 6 units of 1st (Motorised) Battalion Grenadier Guards and 4 units of 2nd (Recce) Regt. Household Cavalry.

I fight the tactical battles with Memoir ’44 rules.
Using known troop types available I use the Memoir 44 battle dice to determine the exact available force composition for the local commander.   This gives me more interesting battles and my e-mail commanders extra tactical issues to consider.  I use a conversion from campaign strength to unit makeup as follows: One strength point = 1 die = 1 company or equivalent game unit.  Note that overnight lost strength points in the campaign may be recovered if the unit is resting.

The British order of battle  for the attack on Eindhoven thus became:
1. Arm’d Regt. HQ (Stuart, “Dingo”, Jeep)
2. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
3. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
4. 3 Stuart 37mm
5. 2 M10 17 pr “Achilles”
6. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
7. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
8. Inf.Bn HQ (Jeep, 15cwt Truck, WT Truck)
9. 4 Rifle Plns + 2 3-Ton trucks
10. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
11. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
12. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
13. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
14. 3 Daimler 1 2pr Arm’d Cars
15. 3 Staghound 37mm Arm’d Cars
16. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars
17. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars

And so I had to start creating some of the units. The Shermans and infantry were already in stock, but I had no Achilles tank destroyers – or so I thought – and no 17pr AT guns.
I set to work with my 3D printer, using M Bergman’s wonderful templates on
Having printed, assembled and painted two Achilles models, I found that I had in the loft a pack of five GHQ models unopened, so I started again.

As for the 17pr guns, these things are always a problem for 3D printing in small scales.  The template provides them on end, standing on the trail. They are designed as 1:200 models, so I start by reducing them to 70% size for 1/285.

A couple of test prints gave me some plastic sclptures that will paint up nicely as trees or bushes!

I rotated the model to print in its normal deployed position. Therefore I needed to add supports for the barrel. After printing, cutting these away without destroying the barrel was a problem (see the header photo).  There is an idea to try to paint them draped in camo netting, but I am also considering removing the barrel and drilling a hole for a pin instead.

Meanwhile I have ordered at considerable expense some GHQ models (The very reason I bought a 3D printer was to avoid this sort of cost) and expect to be fiddling about with superglue some time next week.

A busy man

Winston Churchill once said: “If you want something done, ask a busy man.”  Clearly this did not involve blogging. (A noticeable exception to the blogging rule is Neil Shuck of Meeples and Miniatures fame. He manages to keep up a daily blog, a weekly podcast and who knows what else in addition to a full time job, a family, a hobby and recently a broken wrist)

Anyway, back to me.  I have not posted for 6 weeks.  I have had plenty to do, but little time at the “real” computer, having spent a lot of time on the iPad and iPhone simply catching up.

So what have I been up to?

I will try to cover these activities in detail later with photographs, but meanwhile, here is the boring stuff.

I have been vainly trying to progress my “Operation Sealion” PBEM campaign, which is stagnating mainly due to the fact that I want to get all my models looking as good as possible on the table (shades of Peter Stringfellow?).

The next battle is the German assault on Brighton, which calls for a lot of railway track.  My blog followers will know that I normally use Hexon tiles for my gaming area, but extensively remodelled by me.  Well, this time I tried to mount the railway track by Irregular Miniatures and Leven Miniatures onto the raised rubber-ish roads produced by Total Battle Miniatures.  This was not successful because everything delaminated, and I am now remodelling all the railway hexagons, and, having spotted it while ordering more track I have a new railway station from Leven to paint.  I should mention that Leven have taken the trouble when asked to cast in resin a new 4-piece set of double rail track that will make a 60 degree curve specifically to fit a 10cm hexagon tile (2 inner curves, 2 outer curves).  I hope to see it on the website for general order soon.

In addition, this battle – without giving away too much to my German commander – needs a lot of British transport.  I have loads of 6mm trucks and lorries for 1944, but I want to get it right, so several packs of GHQ vehicles were ordered from Magister Militum, my UK supplier.

All of this stuff needs painting.

A failure to paint in time resulted in me not taking my semi-portable in-period wargame to the (bizarrely) 217th anniversary of the Battle of Marengo.  For wargamers, I am building armies from the Commission Figurines MDF range, but my figures are glued together in blocks for small people’s fingers to handle.  The project to create, initially French and Austrian,  armies for the French Revolutionary Wars is ongoing.

The trip to Marengo occupied much of my time, including all the necessary requirements of taking my dog camping in Europe and bringing him home again without quarantine. Superb driving over the Alps, including the St. Bernard Pass, last visited in 1989 in full Napoleonic kit for a reconstructed crossing by Napoleon in 1800.

Additional problems are having my car fixed after a sunroof motor failure (luckily it was a heatwave with the roof jammed open) and some kind individual ramming the rear end of my car in the Marengo car park.

We took our new caravan (collected the day after my return from Italy) to Wales for an English Civil War re-enactment weekend, and I am still resolving, and paying for, the failures of the vehicle.

I have also been instructed by my GP to have certain areas of my body checked for issues that affect gentlemen of my age, culminating – I hope – in an hour of MRI scanning this morning.

And so I am returned to the “real world” of painting, modelling, and hopefully actually playing some wargames, with a resolve to post more frequently in future.



Always something else to prepare…

I want to know why it is that, with a former “walk-in” wardrobe and half a loft full of wargaming impedimenta, every time I want to play a game I have to prepare some new models?

For my next game I have already painted up some GHQ A13 and Mark VIb tanks for the British, not to mention several Adler Vickers MG teams marching and firing and about a dozen new trucks and lorries.  The Germans needed cyclists and new MG34 teams, as well as more infantry and a captured truck with hastily applied white crosses.

As for the terrain (I use Kallistra hexagons, pre-flocked and then customised) I have to make some more embanked railway lines and three level crossings which must involve ramped roadways.  Alternatively I may make road bridges across the railway, but that will be even more work!

To help this game along I have just received the first consignment of double curved railway track from Leven Miniatures, designed to my specifications so that four pieces  – two inner curve and two outer curve – will exactly fit a 10cm hexagon with a 60 degree curve.  I urge all gamers of late C19th onwards to buy some of these if only to repay Mick for his development time!

In addition, and very oddly, I needed to model an ancient British hill fort that would meet the requirements of the ground scale (10cm hexagon = 250 metres side-to-side) and also accommodate bases of at least 15mm x 20mm.   Pictures will no doubt be forthcoming in the battle report when I finally get around to playing the game.

Battle Report – Cuckmere Haven

As a departure from the normal games in my Operation Sealion e-mail campaign, this was a relatively small, company level, skirmish.

The report is attached as a PDF and as a Word document which should allow expansion of the pictures.

PDF version Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935

MS Word version  Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935

Poland – 3rd September 1939

The third day of my World War Two campaign.  This one pitched two Infantry armies against each other on the Polish-Czech border.  I randomised the battlefield using the Memoir 44 board and a pack of playing cards to determine terrain placement and then transferred it to the wargame table.

Forces and objectives were generated as described in the attached report using the Memoir 44 dice.  It turned out to be a very short, sharp battle with – to my mind – an unrealistic ending as most of the German forces were still intact, but they set the Polish objective and then failed to adequately defend it!

So here is the game report.

1939 09 03 Poland

The German strategic turn is ended. Poland now takes the initiative.

Poland – 2nd September 1939

Day two of my refight of the Second World War.  German First Tank Army attacks the Polish First Tank Army.

Forces and battlefield were randomised for Memoir 44 using the game’s dice and a pack of ordinary playing cards.  The units were modelled using GHQ miniatures in 1/285 scale and the map board transferred to a table-top using Kallistra hexagon terrain (some of which was remodelled for streams, marshes and roads), buildings from Total Battle Miniatures, and trees and other scenery from a variety of sources.

The battlefield, viewed from the West, is seen here:

The battlefield with forces deployed.
The battlefield with forces deployed.

German forces for Memoir 44, created by the dice rolls:
1 Heavy tank unit of 1 x PzIII.
3 Half-track units of 3 x SdKfz 251 each.
2 Motorised artillery units of 2 x 105mm gun and 2 half-track tractors each.
1 Infantry unit of 4 x 4 riflemen.
1 Supply truck unit of 3 lorries.

Polish forces are:
1 Tank unit of 2 x 7TP (37mm gun turret)
1 Tank unit of 2 x 7TP (two MG turrets)
1 Tankette unit of 3 x TK-3 (MG)
2 Motorised Artillery units of 2 x 105mm gun and 2 half-track tractors each.
1 Horse-drawn artillery unit of 2 x 75mm guns.
1 Infantry unit of 4 x 4 riflemen.
1 Supply truck unit of 3 lorries.

As an aside, I started to play this battle using Rapid Fire rules using centimetres in place of inches, but gave up because I had not modelled observers or HQ units needed for the artillery, so back to my original plan of playing with Memoir 44 rules.

To determine the number of command cards for each side I rolled one die per unit and added the number of stars rolled to a base of 3. This gave the Germans 5 cards and the Poles 4.
I applied the “Blitz” rules, which give a speed penalty to Polish tanks.
Other “house” modifications to the standard rules for this campaign are:
– PzIII behaves like a Tiger tank in 1944 scenarios (harder to kill).
– Polish tankettes behave like armoured half-tracks without the supply ability.
– Polish 7TP tanks with two MG turrets fight as two attacks with infantry MGs.
– Polish command cards referring to more than one sector are restricted to one sector, representing the lack of radios.
Victory would be achieved by the first player to win 5 medals. Each village occupied counted as one medal, as did the bridge. These were temporary medals, only held while the hexagon was occupied.  Thus the Germans started with 1 medal.

Turn 1.

Turn 1 action
Turn 1 action

The German infantry moved out of the village to the railway station (1). From there they opened fire on the Polish tankette unit and destroyed one of them (2). The PzIII moved onto the road (3), supported by a unit of armoured half-tracks (4). The tank fired at the 7TP unit on the Polish right flank and knocked out one tank (5).
The Poles responded by advancing the two 7TP(MG) tanks onto the bridge (6) and shooting at the PzIII, to no effect.  One of the 105mm artillery units also fired at the tank (7). It scored a hit, but no damage. One medal was taken for holding the bridge.

Turn 2.
(No picture)
On the German right flank one unit of half-tracks moved forwards and machine-gunned the infantry defending the line of the stream. One hit was scored.
A battery of 105mm guns fired at the 7TP tanks on the bridge. No damage was inflicted but the tanks withdrew from the bridge. The PzIII was also ordered to attack these tanks, and fired as they retreated, driving them further back beyond the village. The Poles lost their medal for holding the bridge, but it was not yet taken by the Germans.
On the Polish side the remaining 7TP (37mm) fired at the PzIII but missed.

Turn 3.

Turn 3 action
Turn 3 action

The German infantry moved forwards into the woods (1).   The PzIII moved onto the bridge (2) and fired at the remaining 7TP to his left (3).
The Polish called in an artillery barrage (4) and successfully brewed up the PzIII, blocking the only crossing point for vehicles (5)

Turn 4.

Turn 4 action
Turn 4 action

The German artillery started a bombardment. The first battery (1) attacked the Polish light artillery (2) with no effect, but the second battery (3) forced the Polish infantry (4) to fall back.
The Polish 75mm guns replied and drove one of the German batteries (5) from the battlefield. One medal to the Poles.

Turn 5.

Turn 5 action north
Turn 5 action north

In the north – the German left flank – the half-tracks attacked the Polish tankettes (1) but failed to cause any damage. The Polish tank counterattacked and the half-tracks fled back to the village (3), ironically claiming a medal for occupation. The tankettes opened fire on the German infantry in the woods (4) causing casualties.

Turn 5 action south
Turn 5 action south

In the centre a unit of half-tracks (1) advanced on the Polish 75mm guns (2), firing their machine guns.  The gunners limbered up and retreated, but were caught by artillery fire from the remaining 105mm battery (3) and one team was destroyed.

Turn 6.

Turn 6 action
Turn 6 action

The Germans launched a mass charge of half-tracks across the whole field with machine guns blazing. It had a very limited effect.
On the left flank one unit (1) attacked the tankettes (2) once more with no effect except to lose the medal for holding the village.  In the centre (3) the Polish artillery battery (4) was eliminated, gaining one medal, and on the right (5) the retreating infantry (6) were targeted with no effect.
The Poles replied with both 105mm batteries (7) which hit nothing.  The Polish trucks (8) moved across the field towards the infantry to resupply them.

Turn 7.

Turn 7 action
Turn 7 action

The Germans renewed their attacks with the half-tracks.  On the left flank (1) they finally eliminated the Polish tankettes (2), claiming another victory medal.  On the right (3) the Polish infantry were driven back (out of shot).  The Polish artillery batteries (4) shelled the third German half-track unit (5), causing a lot of smoke and flames but no damage.

Turn 8.

Turn 8 action
Turn 8 action

The German supply trucks (1) moved forward to occupy the village and reclaim the medal for holding the village.  The infantry moved out of the woods onto the ground previously defended by the Polish tankettes (2) while the half-tracks attacked and eliminated the remaining 7TP tank (3) for another medal.
The Polish artillery (4) shelled the German half-tracks in the centre, destroying one (5) and sending the others (6) backwards.
The Polish trucks reached their infantry and resupplied them.  (The mechanism is that one truck is removed to replace one lost base from the unit supplied.)

The Poles were now in a precarious position.  All their units were at the back edge of the board.  The Germans needed one more victory medal which they could achieve by destroying a Polish unit, taking the second village or forcing any one unit to retreat.

Turn 9.

Turn 9 action
Turn 9 action

The Germans hitched up their 105mm guns (1) and advanced to bring them into effective range of the Polish forces.  As nothing on the left flank could cross the stream to reach the village, the remains of the half-track unit in the centre (2) moved across the field towards the target.  The Polish artillery (3) shelled the half-tracks with no effect. (apparently firing duds as there are no visible explosions!)

Turn 10.

Turn 10 action
Turn 10 action

The Germans continued their movement started in turn 9. The Poles on the other hand had far more success, hitting and destroying the German half-tracks (1) and gaining a Victory Medal.  They also moved the two MG armed 7TPs (2) into the village for another medal.

Turn 11.

Turn 11 action
Turn 11 action

The Germans unhitched the 105mm guns (1) and selected at extreme range the easiest target – the Polish supply trucks (2), but missed.   The Polish infantry advanced towards the woods (3).

Turn 12.

Turn 12 action
Turn 12 action

The German infantry continued to move forward on the left flank, entering the woods (1).  Their half-tracks (2) retired to a safe distance from the arriving Polish tanks.  In the centre the remaining half-tracks (3) advanced between the two woods.  The 105mm artillery (4) again missed the Polish trucks (5).   The Polish infantry, replenished to full strength, moved into the woods (6) to threaten the half-tracks.

Turn 13.

Turn 13 action
Turn 13 action

All the action was on the German left flank.  First the half-tracks (1) moved up to the woods and resupplied the infantry who then moved forwards at to speed towards the village (2).  The Polish tanks (3) swung round to attack them, but with no effect.

Turn 14.

Turn 14 action
Turn 14 action

Following their move in turn 13 the German infantry (1) unleashed their firepower at short range against the tanks in the village, causing them to retreat from the battlefield (2). The Germans had won.

The battlefield at the end of the game.
The battlefield at the end of the game.

The remains of Polish First Tank Army retreated east. The strategic map at the end of 2nd September looked like this.

German invasion of Poland.  End of day 2nd September
German invasion of Poland. End of day 2nd September

The next battle will be in the area 6329/6328 between two infantry armies.