Life has been rather quiet for the past few days.
I have not felt particularly able to do much, but I have been keeping the garden somewhat under control.
Whenever I work in the garden I am reminded of an old “Punch” cartoon dating from about 100 years ago.
Scene: An old man working in his garden. The local vicar looks over the hedge.
Vicar: “Isn’t it amazing what man can achieve with the aid of the Almighty?”
Gardener: “Aye Vicar, but you should’ve seen it when the Almighty ‘ad it to ‘Isself!”
On the wargaming front I have been designing, printing and sticking to blocks more labels for my “Memoir ’44” games.
Yesterday I produced reinforcements for the 1944 US Parachute Infantry and two forces for Poland in 1939.
These graphics (produced pixel by pixel using MS Paint) are printed onto A4 sticky labels, then cut out and attached to 13mm square (19mm for aircraft) plastic blocks. They are much easier to handle than cardboard counters and using tactical map signs lends a greater sense of authenticity to the game when playing on what is essentially a map view of the battlefield.
They lack the visual appeal of real painted toys on a modelled terrain, but I do get the games played sooner! Today, for example I played out a campaign scenario involving 13 companies of US Paras assaulting and defeating 2 companies of German Landsers. Not worth a full-blown battlefield set-up, and the whole thing was set up, played, documented and put away within 90 minutes.
I have a dilemma, or possibly a trilemma if such a thing exists. I am watching the DVD “The Battle of Westerplatte 1939” and it appears that the Polish khak uniform is significantly greener than most painting guides suggest – assuming the film makers got it right and my TV colour balance is correct.
So, looking at the title photo on this post, should I:
a. Try to repaint these fellows?
b. Paint their reinforcements as their existing comrades?
c. Use a greener tint and claim it was a different issue or that colour has faded in the field?
A second question. Does anyone know which of the two tents in the photo would be more appropriate as to colour for Polish forces in 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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 remains of Polish First Tank Army retreated east. The strategic map at the end of 2nd September looked like this.
The next battle will be in the area 6329/6328 between two infantry armies.
It has occurred to me that I have not posted anything for some time. This is mainly because nothing has been completed. I have my finger in too many pies.
However, I have been making progress in various directions. On the reenactment front I have been trying to obtain buttons, buckles and bows for my role as a major in the British army at Waterloo in June. I have been appointed Assistant QMG to 2nd Brigade Allied Army, despite spending 25 years as a French soldier in this period. (Not so odd – at my first Waterloo in 1990 the current commander of the British army in the UK was my French sergeant). The 2nd brigade, one of four infantry brigades on the allied side, including the German brigade and the Royal Dutch Army, will have around 300 muskets on the field. While small by US (i.e. Gettysburg) standards, this will be one of the biggest European re-enactment events ever staged.
While thinking of Napoleonic re-enactment, I would like to pay tribute to Peter (Tiny) Castle, Sergeant and commander of the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment, who died last Sunday. A large man with a huge personality and a commanding voice who will be sadly missed. A shame he could not make it to the finale.
On the wargaming front, in my World War Two campaign I have the troops prepared for another battle in Poland on 2nd September 1939, but needed some more marsh terrain. This is nearly ready…
In the bottom left of the picture are two strips (=1 base, 1/4 unit) of “Red” light cavalry being painted. I hope that by mid May I will have all the necessary models ready for a display of my “pre-Reisswitz” wargame depicting Waterloo at a Town Council sponsored event in Horsham, UK. Despite restricting the toy uniforms to red, blue, white and black, plus horse and gun colours, these seem to take a long time to get ready.
I have also been preparing for the second Donald Featherstone tribute weekend (21-23 March) at the Wargames Holiday Centre, where we will be playing Arnhem with Rapid Fire rules. I own the first edition rules, but have never completed a game with them or used them competitively. I have been toying with some reduced-scale scenarios, but I await the postman with the edition of the rules that we will be using, as if owning and reading the rules will grant me any greater success!
I have asked for command of 130 Brigade, 43 Division if it’s included in the game, as these are the lads from the counties where I grew up. Otherwise I will take what I am given, Allied or German. I’me not sure if we are playing just Arnhem or Market Garden, or somewhere between the two. Whatever, with something like 650 square feet of table to play on it will be a challenge.
I have a lot of literature about the Market Garden operation and last year ran a 3 day real-time PBEM game which was a wonderful but exhausting experience. However it’s played, this mini campaign reveals how easy it is for plans to fall apart on both sides, and the futility of war.
I hope to post some photos of the Arnhem game next week.
This is the first battle of my over-ambitious plan to replay the whole of the Second World War. The basis of the “campaign” is the Axis & Allies game, with the 1939 set-up that I found some years ago on the web. I think it was published by Peter Sides. Campaign moves are determined by information from two books; “World War II Day by Day” and “The Chronicle of World War Two”. Whatever happens in the game, history will try to reassert itself.
So, in the first German game turn I have a battle in Poland. In square 6126 the German 2nd Tank Army is attacking the Polish 1st Infantry Army, with support from the 1st German Infantry Army. (In an earlier post I indicated that Axis & Allies units might become “armies”).
The strategic situation after the German move on 1st September.
The terrain was randomised using a deck of cards and a Memoir 44 game board. The resulting “map” was transferred to a wargame table using Kallistra hexagon tiles, some customised to provide the necessary terrain features.
The names of the three villages, Cerekwica, Mrowino and Napachanie were chosen simply because I found on Google Maps three settlements in the area with a similar geographical relationship. I think it’s better than using “Village A” or “Southeast Farm” or similar.
The battle would be won by the first side to achieve seven victory points. Possession of each of the three villages counted as 1VP and destruction of one entire enemy unit was worth 1VP.
Normally I try to work without tokens on the table, but sometimes it’s necessary. Each of my units has a small ID card that I can slip under the buildings to indicate their position if in occupation.
I changed the rule about retreating. Memoir 44 rules state that a retreating unit must move towards its baseline. With a flank attack in progress I ruled that it must retreat directly away from the major threat.
The purpose of the lorries in Memoir 44 is to “resupply” units that have suffered casualties. One base may be restored by removing one lorry. In the event there was no opportunity to do so.
Note to self. “Do something about all those identically broken fences.”
This marked the end of the battle. The Poles had eliminated five German units, including the ME109, or forced them to retreat from the battlefield, and recaptured two villages for the required seven victory points. The Germans had taken and held Napachanie in the southeast and eliminated two Polish units, a total of three points.
The game took fourteen turns for each player. At the end of turn 9 the victory point score was 4-4, and things were looking desperate for the Poles. Five turns later they won 7-3.
I think that Memoir 44 works best for set piece battles, or at least those with most of the forces on the field at the start. Because most of the command cards relate to right flank, left flank or centre the battle can become disjointed when trying to feed in troops at specific points. Each player in this game had four cards to select from at any one time, but the Poles got many of the “specials” like off-table artillery barrage. For almost half the game the Germans held three cards for a flank with one unit and one card for the flank with most of their forces.
As a first time exercise I think it worked well. I replayed part of the game later with Rapid Fire rules and it was clear that the firing was less devastating and the German superiority of numbers would overcome the Poles sooner or later.
And so I reach the end of the first day of the replay of the War. It’s only taken about a year to prepare and play. At this rate I will be 2,137 years old before I finish!
So much for not holding up the game when I discovered I had missed creating an entire unit (see earlier post). When I came to set up the battlefield I found I was short by three slope hexagons, so an emergency order to Kallistra was prepared. At the same time I ordered some new houses from Total Battle Miniatures to replace the Irregular Miniatures buildings I intended to use, which look a bit small against the new troops. If they don’t arrive before the new hexagon tiles I will press into use some nicely painted American Civil War models I bought at a tabletop sale last year. They are a reasonable substitute, judging by newsreel film of September 1939 recently viewed. ACW buildings from Total Battle Miniatures
So now it’s a race. Will the new hexagon tiles arrive before the buildings? And in the meantime I can start painting the missing unit.