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.

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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.”

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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.  

D-Day and beyond. Part 5

Being the continuing story of a wargame

7th June 1944

Report from Captain Copley.

No reinforcements having been received, except for a few stragglers coming in overnight and one of the Churchills that the Yeomanry managed to recover, I reorganised the company into two platoons. Lieutenant Smythe became my 2 i/c and I put the other platoon in charge of Sgt. MacGregor.

Each of the platoons had the standard three  sections with Brens and rifles, but benefitted from two PIATs and two 2” mortars each.

I deployed Sgt. MacGregor’s platoon on the heights around hill 621 to our front and Lt. Smythe’s on the right flank, mainly in the woods.  The Yeomanry took post between the two platoons, guarding the road with their single tank.

I kept one rifle squad with me at the company HQ in the large building near the beach.

The enemy attacked us at 08:00.  Some ineffective small arms fire was received against our forward positions on the hill, which was returned with interest!

But 10 minutes later heavy artillery began to fall on our forward positions and we lost half a dozen men.

At 0840 two SP guns appeared, one on the road and one in the woods on the right flank.  The Churchill had a crack at the one in the road and it ceased firing.  The tank fired again, knocked out the gun and advanced to the gap between the cliff and a stone wall to defend the defile.  On the right flank we lost a bren team to the second gun.

Lt Smythe ordered his platoon to advance, keeping under cover.  He left the two 2” mortars to the rear with the protection of one section.  He moved forward to find a vantage point from which he could direct the fire of the mortars.

The tank was caught in a heavy artillery stonk but survived.  On the right flank the PIAT team crawled forwards and fired at the SP gun to their front.  Some damage was observed.

Two rifle squads dashed forwards to assault opposing infantry in the houses to our front.  The enemy was wiped out and we occupied the houses.

In the centre the Churchill tank fired at a MG in the woods beside the road junction.  Wiping the enemy out the tank advanced and took over the position.  Finally we held the road junction; one of our objectives for yesterday.

Sgt. MacGregor sent two of his sections out to left and right to outflank the MG position in the house to his front.

Suddenly the Churchill was struck by what appeared to be a Panzerfaust bomb fired from the house to its right.  The tank quickly backed off to a position from where it could fire at the building.

The tank fired, then a rifle squad stormed the building while defenders were still shaken and cleared them out.

On the left flank a MG team was driven from the house they had been holding.

At around 09:15 the enemy called off their attack and withdrew.

During the action we lost ten men and one of our bren guns.  We estimate the enemy lost about three times that number, including one SP gun destroyed.