Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Tower - Remembrance day

After what seemed like a crescendo of World War 1 remembrance leading up to November 11th, and my work commitments, the two came together on the 13th November. I was given a days holiday, and following a conversation with the wife, the car was duly headed up to London to see the Poppy display at the Tower. The display was going to go round the country in reduced size, but was being kept at the Tower till the end of the month. If we wanted to see it, now was the time.

There was a plaque next to the main entrance which said that there were 888,246 poppies on display, in the moat, and coming out of the wall embrasures. These were for each of the number of Commonwealth soldiers who died during the war.

The sight of the poppies was just too overwhelming to be honest. How could each poppy be a person, and should there be more, how did they get that many into the display, what about the wounded, the Germans, Italians, Turks, French, Russians.

The display raises more questions than it answers, each poppy individually crafted, and actually quite big in size. I wanted to write a post to signify my 100th post, going over 10,000 hits and try to step back a bit to get perspective. I wanted to try and think about the poppies significance.

What struck me was their closeness all together, individual yet joined together in some kind of open weaved mattress, lifting, rolling and pouring out of the walls in a fountain of flat cherry blood red.

Each poppy a name, each an individual, washing around and through the Bloody Tower.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Flames of War - Mid war desert, a game of 2 games

A Mid war game, set in the desert of North Africa, with 2 tank heavy forces, Brits and Germans. This wasn't going to be a complicated game, and it wasn't anticipated to being a long game. But just how long was going to be quite a surprise.

The Germans had a CiC and 2iC in PzrIV F - long 75's, a troop of PzrIII's - long 50mm and a commander in a PzrIV F, a troop of 5 PzrIV's F, with a commander in a PzrIV F. following up behind was a platoon of infantry. A priority Stuka was available. In addition to this was a special character - Rittemeier, a 'warrior' who has 2 abilities, rerolling to hit dice, and rerolling the stormtrooper move to the platoon he is attached to.

The British had a CiC in a Sherman, with 3 Shermans as the HQ troop. The 2iC was in a troop of 3Grants. There was another troop of 3 Grants, along with 2 troops of 3 Crusaders, and a troop of 4 Deacon 6pdr portees, with a platoon of infantry bringing up the rear. A spasmodic Hurricane II was available.

Die were rolled and the game scenario was an attack on a central position, defended by one side with a unit in on table deployed ambush. The attackers would have to deploy a unit on either short table side, with the rest of their force deployed where they wished on the short table edge. They would be able to deploy up to 8 inches in.

Germans were the attackers, Brits defending. 11 German gun tubes vs 26 British gun tubes, however, the German 50mm's had a range of 24 inches, the 75mm's had a range of 32 inches. 3 50mm's and 8 75mm's. The British had 10 75mm's with a range of 32 inches, the 37mm and 6 pdr having a range of 24 inches. 10 75mm and 16 37mm and 6 pdr's. But, whoever was deployed in the centre would move after the attacking player had moved, and if deployed in the centre section would be in short range automatically - 16 inches, and within range after a move anywhere on the table.

The British deployed, after the German objectives were placed in the centre section, and then the Germans deployed, with the British on table ambush revealed. Dave and myself were the Germans with Gavin and Ian as the British, John adopting his role as FoW rules Guru. We deployed to try and get some cover for the advance into the centre and the objectives, and ended up deploying on one side of the table either end.

Game on, with a die roll for the Stuka, only a single plane coming on. The Pzr III's and infantry advancing behind the hill for cover,

the Pzr IV's and Rittemeier advancing behind the village to sweep up  to the centre.

However, the British CiC and his Shermans were in the centre, backing up 2 troops of Crusaders behind the village. The Pzr IV's remained stationary and opened up on the Shermans, along with the CiC and 2iC from the command and the troop leader from the Pzr III's.

Due to the positioning of the Shermans and the fact of the 2 sides of the attack, the Germans got rear armour and worked back, even though the Shermans counted as obscured.

 The Shermans were annihilated, prompting the Pzr IV's to shift onto the Crusaders, who lost a troop and a tank from the second troop. The Pzr III's moved onto the hill and engaged the Grants in the centre. Exit the Grant troop.

 After firing, the Stuka arrived and had a go at the Crusaders, contributing to the shambles developing around the village.

The German infantry moved up to the hill to dig in on, within 16 inches of the objective. We decided that instead of trying to go for the 2 objectives, we would go for the best defensible one, nearest the hill that the infantry were going for. As we had to be near either or both objectives, and having such a small force, going for one was best use of resources.

The Germans finished the turn with die rolls for stormtrooping, Rittermeier rerolling his accompanying platoons roll.

Everyone stormtrooped up another 4 inches closer

This was the end of turn one - German. Brits - 3 troops of tanks down, a 4th with 2 operational, no German casualties. Also, with the CiC brewing up in his Sherman, he bailed, but did not have a working tank to deploy to, I believe he could run to the nearest tank within 6 inches. He was therefore removed, along with his ability to reroll the motivation die rolls, Critical for bails and the forthcoming casualties. Also, any attempt to engage either of the 2 German tank groups, would open the Brits to rear and side shots from the other German tank group.

British turn 1. Fortified by a large mug of Dunkirk spirit, Gavin and Ian set out to hold the Germans off. This meant the Crusaders skitted round the village and went for some shots at the Pzr IV's, hoping to get concealment from the expected return fire. The remaining troop of Grants advanced on the Pzr III's cresting the hill, and a swarm of Hurricanes turned up to attack the German infantry in the open behind the hill. The Deacon portees ran out to engage the flanks of the Pzr III's, with their tip and run tactics.

All the shots going in were ineffectual, either glancing off, or bailing at worst. The front armour of the Pzr III's were too tough for the Grants and 6 pdrs from the Deacons. The Pzr IV's didn't receive enough shots in to get anywhere.

German move 2. The Pzr IV's shifted 12 inches to their left, all the platoon being able to fire at the Crusaders. The Pzr III's moved up onto the hill to engage the Deacons and remaining Grants.

The priority Stuka arrived with 2 other planes, meaning that when it hit, it would be rerolling misses. They swooped in on the Deacons.

The Pzr IV's opened upon the Crusaders, and with 2 kills, it was game over for the  Brits. They had no way of stopping the fire except for the Germans to miss. The 4th unit of 7 British units had been destroyed.

For arguments sake, the Grants were engaged and destroyed, as well as the Deacons. The only intact unit left was the infantry.
As the whole game had taken less than an hour to play, the game was run again, with Dave and myself taking the British, Gavin and Ian the Germans. 

We deployed in 2 lines either side of the deployment box, working out that the Germans would deploy their tanks in one large grouping. It would have been our deployment after playing the first game, applying maximum pressure on the Brits.

The DAK phalanx appears, as if by magic 8 inches from the table edge.after we had deployed.

The German infantry deploy on table, dug in, with no intention of moving.

The British deployment, showing the Phalanx about to engage the Brits. Pure line them up and let them loose. They were let loose.

German firing, the annihilation of the British line, all the Crusaders and the Deacons are destroyed. However, the Germans can not win by turn 2,as they can not engage the British second line.

British move 1, and the Grants move up to the infantry position

The Shermans and the other Grants move up to the centre, taking cover from the hill. 


German turn 2, the Phalanx splits up, the Pzr III's forming a spear head, spreading out to avoid targeting by the Hurricane, the Pzr IV's moving left to engage the Shermans.

Shots coming in, hit only 1 Sherman, with that its the end of the German turn 2, as the Stuka strike on the infantry and Grants only kill an infantry stand, pinning the remainder as they get 3 hits on the platoon. An airstrike, whilst not artillery, counts as artillery for pinning effects.  The Grants are undamaged but have 2 bailouts.

The end of the game, a final look.

On the whole, it was agreed that this was probably one of the worst scenarios possible for a tank force, and for Mid war Brits facing Germans, a source of a good kicking. Tank on tank games tend to be pretty quick affairs, but to run 2 games in 2 hours with the same result, game over in turn 2 and turn 3 respectively, was a bit of a shock. Whilst set in a desert, you wouldn't expect to find a great deal of terrain, and to be honest there was quite a bit on the table, but the result also can be attributed to the torrent of devastating fire of the Germans 75mm and 50mm guns in turn 1.
Great games nonetheless, and a big thankyou to our host John, Dave, Gavin and Ian.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Maginot Line/Siegfried Line Turrets 20mm

I got 3 turrets from Last Man, Last Bullet, a small just starting up wargames terrain company at the PAW 2014 show. The models are resin, crisp and detailed. In short really nice, and they come in 3 scale sizes - 15mm, 20mm and 28mm.

I got 2 MG cupolas and a 2 Gun turret. They sat on the worktop for 7 months, until the shed came down and there was a complete shakeup with regards to what would be moved to the new location.

Here they are

All 3 together
 The aim is to use these for when my US forces move up to cross the Rhine and tackle the Siegfried line/Westwall/Maginot line/Metz fortifications.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Gyros Teller Part III - The Belgian counterttack

South West Model Engineers Exhibition at the Bath and West was the location for Part III in the Gyros Teller franchise.

The table - 30ft x just under 6ft. Hazy and dark due to shootng into morning sun. Sorry.
Nato end of the table, positioning of  figures and models
Nato Tac HQ - actually 1RS with liason groups from Germans and Belgians
Forward positions of Brits, along Autobahn 
Centre of Brit line
Belgians moving up to the attack, scaring the hell out of a Beetle, left abandoned on the road 
German Reserve Panzers and infantry, behind wood ready to support Belgian cautious advance on the Soviet forces.
Moving up along the road from the treelined Autobahn, Leopards and Jagdkanone
Belgian light tanks ready to recce the advance
The recce is advancing in front to determine opposition and locations
Soviet forces have prepared a defensive position on the outskirts of Gyros Teller - artillery and a 100mm A/T gun, with infantry stationed in the town.
100mm A/T gun and tow
Rocket artillery support deployed in the town for cover and to support
The armour is moving into position over the canal, past local air defence assets
Soviet Tac HQ for the operation. A Liason helicopter and other assets located at the pumping station. They have been ordered to advance and secure the Autobahn, to push on as far as possible. Meanwhile, off table similar probes by other Soviet Motor Rifle Regiments are being set up and planned. 
The build up of forces, from the the rear of the table showing the canal bridge and pumping station. 
Not all traffic is crossing by the bridge, a bridge layer has laid a second bridge over to assist with movement forward of the attacking troops.
wide angle shot of the temporary bridge.
Deployment in the town
The Soviet screen protecting the rear echelon manoevres
Recce observing movement - dust, smoke and noise coming from the town. Facing the rear, with turrets turned, to allow a quick getaway.
Brit positions showing the tail end of the Belgians moving forward, with 1RS dug in to the treeline.
The Germans have decided to move through the wood to deploy and support the Belgians rather than move around and go by the road. Fear of Soviet artillery and rotary wing aviation have made their decision.
Advancing through a track/logging path through the wood in column.
After a final snack of lager, chips and mayo, the last Belgian Leopards are getting to position
Belgian advance, with 2 CVRT's from 1RS battlegroup in rear fo the picture, providing a screen to 1RS.
The Germans moving up to the treeline of the woods, about to deploy out along it.
The Belgians

Soviet tanks moving up
The road from the Autobahn is starting to get busy
The German Reservists have deployed out into ambush along the treeline, waiting for the Belgian advance.
Rear view of the German position, covering the approach up the road from Gyros Teller. 
Soviet recce screen is advancing from the town, whilst the Belgians are preparing to advance.
Having picked upthe presence of the advancing Soviet screen/probe, the Belgians deploy along the ridge of the hill, between the 2 woods. A natural chokepoint, if the woods are secured.
Nato recce out along the road, exposed and now caught out by the advancing Soviet recce
They attempt to engage the recce probe, and slow it down whilst the Belgians get themselves organised into position. They should have left, and allowed the Soviets to move up, but fears over the wood on the right, not yet secured have made the Belgian commander commit them forward. 
The Soviets recce are slowly picking them off
 Fear of what might be in the wood, has meant that the Soviets have called a rocket strike on the wood. Bad die rolling - or Bad Vodka, has meant that the strike is slightly off target, and ineffectual. Close shave for the Germans.
The main force attacking/advancing through is shown building up
The infantry in BMP's with their T64's
More forces are coming through from the temporary bridge into the town and advancing.
Artillery from the Soviet defensive line comes down on the Germans, again a lucky escape for them.
The Germans advance out to take on the Soviet recce probe, as do the Belgians - the cautious advance. The shooting is very poor from the Belgians and Germans.
However, things are not going the Soviets way, as artillery counterbattery fire by Nato, directing 2 Abbot 105mm, picks up the Soviet battery and completely neutralises it. No more gun fire.
The 100mm A/T gun is quickly hooked up and towed into cover
The recce probe is slowing down, to make effective shots on target, but the main attack force is catching them up. They are doing their job of locating the enemy positions and forces.
Soviet gunnery is on top form, with the German M48's getting a pasting, with few Soviet casualties. Is this a forewarning of what will come?
The Germans push forward to the farm complex in front, to secure it and threaten the advance, hoping to do this before its too late, helping to contain the Soviets in the town. This is wishful thinking, they are too slow and too late.
There but not quite, they are now exposed.
The Soviet forces moving up 
A view from the Soviet side, also showing some BRDM's with A/T missiles moving up to the supermarket on the road.
The BRDM's
The Mil Mi24 Hinds come on, directly in front of the Germans
A close up of a Hind
They engage the Germans with rockets and cannon
Luckily for the Germans only 1 M48 is lost.
The Belgians are making heavy work of the shooting, and call up their 2nd troop of Leopards to assist.
Decision time for the Germans. They can't slow down the shooting to allow the infantry into the buildings, and if they do, they will not be able to protect them. There are to many Soviet forces advancing towards them. A bad move has just got worse. 
The A/T and tank forces are at the supermarket alongside the road.
The recce screen is slowly being reduced, but more forces are moving up, and the Nato forces are being drawn out into combat.
A move up by the BMP's to the right hand wood, the key defensive feature of the treeline/hill position. Both woods are needed to advance on to the Autobahn. The start of the process to do this.
The Germans did do something with their advance. They managed to frighten the Soviets into deploying out of their APC's into the defensive position on the edge of the town. They did not intend to do this by their reckless advance.
Brit OP and spotter has moved up to the ridgeline, observing the engagement.
A view down the road of the engagement and the critical nature of the right flank wood
The Soviets moving up to the wood edge, and the attack on the Belgian Jagdkanone defending it.
More infantry moving up in BMP's
The commander of 1RS sends up a platoon of infantry to secure the rear of the wood and set up an ambush for the expected Soviet breakthrough.
The 1RS CVRT moves into a new position to support the infantry. The Chieftains will not be committed, even though this could result in the loss of the recce tanks.
The supermarket has now been overrun, providing cover for a further advance up the road.
More troops moving up, especially the A/T missiles on the BRDM's
The follow on forces pushing through
A view from the Soviet side
Down the table showing the undulating terrain, and the infantry attack top left
Pushing on towards the exposed Germans
With the 1RS sending up a platoon, a troop is moved to cover their positions. 1RS commander does not expect them to hold very long.
The Germans have withdrawn, leaving the M48's burning.
1RS recce watching the show going down, as the 432's push on.
1RS commander has sent a platoon of infantry to the rear of the left hand side wood to back up the Germans. With the Chieftains in the treeline of the Autobahn, the infantry will not be needed. If they are, its all over anyway. 
The 432's of the right flank in cover. the infantry have moved up to the trees and begun to set up the ambush.
Yellow handbags ready for afterwards.
The defence of the Autobahn will depend on Swingfire and 120mm rifles 
Positioning of the Chieftains as things are hotting up, in anticipation of the Soviet breakthrough.
Its starting to get busy on the Autobahn
The Autobahn with the left flank deployment moving up to support the Germans and to get hulldown positions in front of the Autobahn.
There is no frontal defence of the left flank wood except by a Milan team from the edge of the right flank wood. The Soviets cannot drive in as the destroyed Belgian Jagdkannones have blocked their path.
Left flank group advancing, Brigade Tac in distance.
Tracked Rapier are deployed out for the expected swoop by the Hinds or other Soviet attack aircraft.
1RS mortars are set up along with other vehicles that will not be part of the gun line. It also means that they will be able to get a quick getaway should things get tricky. The Chieftains are now in position.
A Lynx with A/T missiles heads up to try and stop the Soviet advance 
The 2 Lynx's on the attack.
The front of the gun line, infantry on the right, Chieftains located in the centre, with the Swingfire to their right.
Soviets moving on up.
The advance continues into and around the wood.
A second line forming up, to advance in support.
Along the Brit positions of the Autobahn. They don't want a rocket strike here, but the Soviets do not ask for one, and don't know of the Brits being there anyway. No Soviet recce has spotted them, and no aircraft have made a pass over the table. The Gepard has forced off a Su24 before it made it onto the table.
A Brit Gazelle over the ridgeline directing in the Lynx's and marking the advance for the 1RS commander and his artillery. 
 A close up.
The Soviet advance through the woods is moving quite quickly.
The BMP's who carried the infantry, advancing through the wood. A key assault, on a key feature.
The assault on the right flank woods is forming up.
The second wave moving up.
All quiet at the Soviet HQ. Things are going to plan. 
Devastating fire from the ambush wipes out the entire section, with the entire second section going down in the Brit players move. The ground is raked by fire - 2 bullet hit markers show what is left.
The attack on the left flank wood.
The Brits move position quickly to avoid any retribution.
The attack on foot,on the left flank wood. Shot in by their BMP's  gunfire.
The expectant Brits.
Side view of the attack.
The Soviets advance in, laying down artillery. The Germans have occupied the reverse slope, and so do not defend the tree line. If so, they would have been eliminated. They pour in ambush fire onto the advancing Soviets.
Again, another infantry attack has been devastated, and slowed down.
Meanwhile, more infantry are moving up to take the places of the fallen.
And that was the end of Gyros Teller for me. I got a call at 1pm to say that the wife had flooded the bathroom and hall by doing some plumbing. !!!. She would have been more believed to say that she had been doing some wargaming. Off home it was. The game went on for 2 more hours.

The British forward defence on the right consisted of a 432 Plt with an intimate support Chieftain. They successfully ambushed the Sovs coming through the dense woods then fell back to a second defence line. They then lost their Milan team after an unsuccessful attempt on a T-64. Then the airstrike, the chaps survived but 2 x CVR(T) from the Recce Plt got it.
Nick was able to do a write up of what happened next, this was added to a Guild post that I wrote up.

On the left the remnants of the Germans fell back through a Plt (-). The Sovs advanced to a position with a number of support wpns and a T-64 Plt in overwatch, hoping to trigger the British with a section then using overwhelming firepower to snot them. The British did not wait around but popped smoke and headed back to the next defence line in their speedy 432s, covered by 2 x Striker and 2 Tp (Chieftain). The final act was the 2 Chieftains on the centre right taking out the 1st Sov T-64 as it came over the central ridge. 
Over 2 days of play, with thanks to Ian, Paul, Mike and Nick T. Figures and terrain were all Nick's.