Monday, 21 October 2019

Chain of Command "29 Let's Go!" campaign game 2

Gary and I played the second game in our pint sized campaign. After the failure of the first American probe at La Cambe Colonel Goode's outlook became worried. A second attempt was therefore ordered using a fresh platoon supported by three more Shermans, a mortar battery and some engineers with a flamethrower.

The patrol phase resulted in deployment points similar to the first attempt:

The first Sherman rumbles onto the battlefield. The American plan this time is to get all the tanks and the mortar in place first then advance a scout team to force the Germans to deploy. Once they have deployed the tanks and mortar should be able to deal with them even in cover:

The second Sherman arrives:

The tanks advance with the remaining Sherman bringing up the rear:

The Shermans are almost in their allocated firing positions:

Disaster strikes though as the third Sherman is ambushed by a Panzerschrek team and destroyed:

US Infantry deploy to support the tanks:

To try to capitalise on their success the Germans unveil a MMG and their senior leader. They open fire but are quickly wiped out by the massed return fire of the Americans putting a big dent in German force morale especially as the senior leader with them is killed:

The Panzerfaust team opens fire again from ambush but only manages to destroy the Sherman's hull MG and inflict some shock on it:

Yet another ambush sees the Sherman destroyed. American force morale is low now as well:

The Americans deploy a scout team that advances down the road:

The scouts almost make it to the German entrenchments and threaten the jump-off point:

The Germans deploy a squad and wipe out the scouts:

With both sides force morale down to three there followed some desultory skirmishing before the Germans decided to retire to avoid further losses. With only a single Panzershreck shot left the remaining Sherman could sit back and pick off the Germans with HE so it probably was a wise decision on Gary's part.

Colonel Goode's opinion went up to "worried" after the victory but an unfortunate episode involving the US airforce quickly took him back to "nervous" so General Cotta was called in to give the Colonel a pep talk. I was hoping the next scenario would be easier but it in fact looks even harder!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Waterloo battlefield visit

A trip to Brussels gave me the opportunity of visiting the battlefield of Waterloo. I had been there many years ago when it was hard to get to unless you had a car and all that was there was the Lion Mound and the panorama painting of the battle.

Having heard about the new memorial centre, the opening of Hougoumont farm and that there was now a direct bus route from Brussels I armed myself with the Brant guide to the battlefield and set off on a rather grey, wet day. After a short walk from the bus stop it seemed not much had changed:

Appearances can be deceptive though and there was a whole new display area underground containing lots of information about the battle and a large number of full size figures dressed in the various nation's uniforms.
The British:


Brunswick infantry:

Dutch Belgians:


There was then a "4-D" movie to watch which was interesting though quite what the 4th dimension consisted of was hard to say! The new part was very much a 'modern' museum with many panels and maps explaining things and not so many items as an old-type museum.

I then moved on to the Panorama which hadn't changed at all:

It is impressively large and would probably have been much more so when it was made:

After this it was time to venture out into the rain and climb to the top of the Lion Mound which gave a great, if very wet, view of the battlefield (having unfortunately in the process of raising it changed the way the area looked!):

The farm of La Haye Sainte:

Quickly tiring of the howling gale and rain I moved on to Wellington's crossroads and the memorial to General Picton:

The view across the fields:

Another memorial,this time to the 27th Inniskllling Regiment which lost over half it's men in the battle:

Another monument, this one to the Belgians:

I then moved on to a closer look at La Haye Sainte, having fond memories of constructing the Airfix kit of the farm when I was a kid and having seen the many versions made by modern wargames terrain makers:

 The farm is still privately owned and has a major road literally going past it within a few feet:

The gate:

There are some more memorials on the wall, mostly to the French troops I think:

The barn:

The gate again:

It did still look remarkably like it did in the Airfix model (and also paintings of the battle) if a little run down and with loads of traffic racing past it at high speed.

After a break for a surprisingly nice lunch in the cafe and drying out a bit it was time to set off across the fields to Hougoumont first passing a monument to Augustin Demulder, a Belgian born in Nivelles in 1785 who served, as still many of his countrymen did in 1815 in the French army. He was a lieutenant in the 5th Regiment of Cuirassiers. He was wounded at Eylau in 1807, Essling 1809, Hannaut 1813 and he finally found his grave at Waterloo on what would be Belgian soil 15 years later after the Belgian Revolution.

And secondly a marker of where Captain Mercer's RHA battery fought in the battle:

Finally after a fair walk Hougoumont came into view:

A relatively new memorial to the defenders of the farm:

These gates are not the original ones:

The interior of the farm, the damaged chapel is original but the rest (apart from the barn I think) is from a later date as a result of battle damage:

The crucifix that survived the battle:

The remains of the chapel:

The chapel interior with wreaths for the various defending units:

Part of the walls, these might be original I think:

The Lion Mound in the distance and a French memorial:

Unlike La Haye Sainte, Hougoumont was not how I expected it to be at all from the impression I had from paintings of the battle or models I've seen. It was much smaller and well newer but of course that was because it was so badly damaged in the battle which I'd not taken into account.

From Hougoumont another walk over the fields took me to La Belle Alliance where Wellington and Blucher met after the battle:

Apparently it is now a nightclub! I then caught the bus to my final stop, the Wellington Museum in Waterloo itself:

An interesting day and something I've wanted to do for a long time. The movie 'Waterloo' was one of the things that inspired me to take up wargaming and I have fond memories of playing games with the Airfix La Haye Sainte, Highlanders and French infantry. The bus was easy to use and linked all the main sights, a definite improvement on last time I went.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Cruel Sea's Norwegians v Kriegsmarine

Having invested in the rules, bought a few more ships and even made some life rafts and mine markers I was keen to play Cruel Seas again so arranged to play Dave. Dave opted for the Germans leaving me with the Norwegians (in effect British with different flags!).

As we were still learning the rules we just went for the introductory scenarios. Scenario one saw two Norwegian Vospers facing one S-100 boat with the objective for both sides to exit from the opposite table edge.

The Vospers move forward, cunningly avoiding the mines that marked the edge of the playing area:

The enemy is sighted! The Norwegians split and open fire but with little effect:

One Vosper heads for safety, pouring fire into the S-Boat as they go:

The S-Boat sinks the other Vosper:

The first outing for the rafts marking the site where the Vosper was sunk:

The other Vosper escapes to safety:

Scenario two saw a single Vosper defending a Tanker against an S-38 boat:

The S-Boat is sighted! As the Vosper races to engage it the German looses two torpedoes!:

The Norwegians close to point blank range and try to shoot up the S-Boat but with low firepower don't do much damage. The torpedoes speed towards the Tanker:

The Vosper crosses the stern of the German but again fails to do much damage:

One torpedo closes in on the tanker! Luckily it manages to miss, probably going under the Tanker. The S-Boat does some damage to the Tanker with it's guns:

The S-Boat closes in on the Tanker doing more damage, even though the torpedoes missed the Tanker is badly damaged from gunfire. The Tanker crew heroically avoid two critical hits to keep the Tanker afloat.

The brave Tanker survives the last few shots from the Germans and escapes giving the Norwegians victory:

Scenario three saw three German S-Boats attempting to rescue the crew from a dead in the water S-Boat while four Norwegian Vospers tried to capture the German ship. The fight started badly for the Norwegians with one Vosper quickly being sunk:

The life rafts are on the table again! Vospers close from either side while the three mobile S-Boats stay together:

Vospers close in but again their lack of firepower does little damage:

One Vosper is rammed by an S-Boat that had taken a bridge hit and couldn't change course! The Vosper takes the worst of the damage:

The rammed Vosper is sunk by German gunfire:

Another Vosper sinks in a storm of German fire:

The damaged S-Boat slips below the waves and the crew take to the life rafts, it was well worth making them!:

The last Vosper is sunk with no losses to the Germans:

After buying the rules I realised we had been doing the shooting wrongly and it was in fact much harder to hit than we had thought. Dave commanded his ships very well, using the tactic of dropping to slow speed (and even stopping!) to improve his chances of hitting which was an idea I'd not seen before.

The Vospers are seriously under-powered against the German S-Boats though, especially the S-100's. Their firepower is much worse, they are slower and they take far less damage to sink.

In the three games I don't think I got that close to sinking a single S-Boat while Dave sunk five Vospers. The Vospers do have more torpedoes but, since they can't hit small or medium boats, they were no use in the scenarios we played.

None the less I enjoyed the game and I'm sure Dave did too, next time perhaps we can play to a points total to give the Norwegians more options.