Friday, 26 October 2018

Does This Blog Have An Appendix?

      Does this blog have an appendix? No, but then neither have I! Last Tuesday, my appendix, which I had raised and nurtured these last 54 years decided it had had enough of me, my high living and dissolute ways and it let me know of it's discontent in no uncertain terms.
       So, a quick visit to my GP saw me packed off to the hospital and, later that day, to end their shift on a positive note, a crack NHS surgical team, did the honourable thing and granted my appendix it's wish. And that, as they say, was that.
      Excepting that it wasn't. I was now faced with six weeks sick leave....oh boo.....NOT!! Six weeks sick leave/painting/terrain building/gaming....yippee!
       But what to paint and where to start? Okay, it was easy enough to know where to start; crack on with what I had on the painting station already. Right!
      Well no; with time on my hands, I could be more focused (Ha, right!) Even though I was on sick leave I still had priorities that I had to...erm...prioritise. Firstly, there was a Market Garden campaign  to get organised for in the shape of the forces for the Breakout From The Neerpelt Bridgehead. So, after a tidy up of the paint station and a short period of general faffing about (procrastinating is another term but it's less cuddly than "faffing" but I digress) I got these lot put together

        I had already built the Cromwell a few weeks back but hadn't gotten around to painting it so it got chucked in with my other British armour. I tend to batch paint my armour hence this lot.
        I put together some crew for the M5s. For the commanders/HMG gunners I used the British Infantry strolling figure (The British Infantry of WW2 appear to have strolled into action from what I can gather from scale model manufacturers. You rarely see a dynamically posed one, do you) For the driver, I just did a head swap (These are the Warlord plastic M3s which I prefer to the Rubicon ones) and painted is uniform in British colours, reckoning that you won't really see much of him anyway. A smattering of stowage and they were ready to go.
       I also prepared my first French Indian War unit for Sharp Practice.

        A couple of days intense...well, fairly intense, painting achieved this result. I'm really chuffed with them.The Sherman isn't an Sherman V, rather it's an earlier model so I gave it a different squadron marking.

Doh! In my haste to put these together I managed to put the winch bar on upside down. I added some stowage to hide my shame. Quite effective, don't you think?

All these vehicles need plasticard bases to give them a wee bit of height in comparison to my figures and also to allow me to put some adhesive backed metal on them so that they can be transported in magnetised boxes

          I realised, as I was putting my armoured vehicles together, that I didn't have enough stowage for them so a quick visit to Anyscale Models site and I went a wee bit overboard. Got stowage and more besides including Zeltbahn tents. I have a plan for them but I have forgotten what it was....

         Next it was my FIW British infantry's turn to get some love. These miniatures from Galloping Major are bee-utiful. I have a few more to paint between now and the end of January so no huge rush for them but it's good to get a start made.

         Then I gave into whimsy. I had picked up a couple of these Foundry Miniatures jesters and decided as I was painting with lots of red and yellow I would paint this fellow too. I find Foundry Miniatures almost irresistible; they are so well sculpted. I find them that irresistible that I also painted the chap below for my Lion Rampant force. I don't know where he will fit in but I'll find somewhere for him.

         And thus ended week one, well one and a half, of my sick leave. Got plenty more on the to-paint list though I guess all of my lead and plastic mountain should be on the list, but over the next few weeks it'll be British Paras, specifically the 21st Independent Company force for the Market Garden campaign scenario First In! 21st Independent Company Hits The Ground and whatever else takes my fancy. Stay tuned to this frequency for more wargaming ramblings...

pip pip,
The General 

Monday, 22 October 2018

Battle For Carenvan part 4; Night Attack Batrep

Dancing In The Dark; Conclusion in Carenvan

        And so finally...and in conclusion, Richie and I fought the last battle for Carenvan....perhaps. No, this was definitely the last battle for this piece of Norman real estate. 
     As we wanted this to be the culmination of this mini campaign we decided to shift the timeline on a couple of days (What? You didn't realise this campaign had a timeline? You really must pay attention...especially you lot at the where was I? ...oh yes..)
      Both sides have been slugging away at each other but the Americans with their greater superiority of men, armour and artillery and shorter supply lines have gained the upper hand and are intent on completing the capture of the town. To this end they have decided to carry out a night attack on the last point of German resistance. The Americans have plenty of infantry and armour with which to press the issue and one part of their force has been placed in the capable hands of Lt Dick Moncher.
     The Germans have decided to cede Carenvan to the Amis and pull back to a new defensive line in preparation for a counter attack. To cover their withdrawal they have left behind a force of Fallschirmjager with some armoured support and a Nebelwerfer. This force is commanded by Leutnant Willi Schmelling
      So that's the background. We decided that the Double Envelopment would suit this battle; the Yanks getting into the German deployment zone would easily represent them pushing the Germans out of town. Equally, the Germans preventing the Americans getting into their deployment zone could be seen as them holding the US forces back for long enough to allow their comrades time to reorganise outside the town.

      So far so good, We set the points limits at 2000 for the US Forces and 1400 for the Fallschirmjager as we felt that that would be a good ratio for an attacker/defender scenario particularly because we played from short end to short end of the table.  We did this to make the game feel a little more claustrophobic;  To help move the game along we set the deployment zones 18" back from the centre of the table but units could deploy from 12" in.          
      A night attack suggested the  Dawn Assault rule (and my goodness, what a long night ensued! But more of that later) and the Americans benefitted from some prophylactic fire in  the shape of a preliminary bombardment. 
     And that was us set up and ready to go. After our usual hour of chat/froth about all things wargaming (with yours truly doing most of the talking but only because I noticed that there was a pocket of excess oxygen at my end of the table and I was trying to get it back to a normal, acceptable level) and general catching up we started to deploy our forces. Richie went for it by deploying all his force in the first wave while I split my force, setting up only half of my units. Order dice into the bag and off we go.

      ( One note of caution; those of you of a nervous, easily rattled disposition might want to avoid the parts of the batrep where I describe my dice rolls. It isn't pretty!!)

Carenvan from the Allied lines. The green line shows the American deployment zone, the orange the Germans

The other side of the hill. The German side of the town

    The night was alive; alive with noise and smells. The town stank of dead flesh, burning petrol, metal, wood and rubber, all being consumed by the furious, voracious flames
    In the distance, artillery rumbled, the flashes from the guns lighting up the horizon. The rumble grew louder as the shells hurtled towards the part of the town that the German soldiers cowered in.       The bombardment, short and shocking, struck the German defences. In it's aftermath, the defenders pulled themselves together, officers and NCOs shouting orders and taking stock of the damage done by the bombardment.. 
   As their hearing returned the Fallschirmjager became aware of the sound of armoured vehicles approaching from the American lines. "Achtung!! Panzer! Stand to!" shouted Leutnant Willi Schmelling to his men, crouching in the shattered ruins.. Dimly, by the light of the burning buildings, he could see his foremost squads preparing themselves for the coming attack. 
    "One man dead, Herr Leutnant" said his runner as he joined Schmelling in his foxhole. "Who?" he replied. "Knabel, 3rd Squad". Schmelling grunted, he briefly recalled the young blond jaeger who had joined the battalion on the Eastern Front. Not NCO potential but a good, solid soldier. "Any wounded?" he continued. "No, Herr Leutnant". Shmelling grunted noncommittally but inside he felt a sense of relief. Only one dead; if only it remains that way but he knew there would be more. Up ahead the sound of the approaching enemy armour grew louder and Schmelling turned his attention to the coming fight.
The Germans watch warily for the Amis

The American infantry, confident in the effect of their bombardment, 
send their troop packed half tracks forward first

The armoured personnel carriers growl forward over the rubble
 into a devastated no mans land

The tanks following behind

       The sound of the glass crunching beneath his boots was completely inaudible to Lt Dick Moncher as he moved forward just behind his foremost squad. The noise of the armoured personnel carriers and tanks reverberating from the walls of the silent buildings drowned out all other sounds. His face wore a grim expression; that artillery barrage had been too short and probably ineffective, doing nothing more than alerting the Germans that there was an attack coming their way.
      Ahead an M3 Halftrack maneuvered around an obstacle in it's way, it's .50cal machine gunner silhouetted against the sky beyond, crouching over his weapon. Behind that came a Sherman tank in support. 
     Moncher recalled the briefing for this attack, a few hours ago. The infantry battalion's CO, a lieutenant colonel, seemed to be very much in the heroic mould. He wasn't for listening to Moncher's advice about having the tanks lead the advance to contact, even though the tank platoon's leader had backed Moncher's advice. No, his men would lead and show the Hun; he had actually used that word, who were the better soldiers. The platoon that Moncher and his men were attached to would advance along the three streets leading out of the town with the tanks in support, clearing the Hun out of Carenvan for once and for all.
     And despite the CO offering to carry Moncher and his men in their carriers, Moncher declined, having too much respect for the German's panzerfausts effects against armour. So he and his men advanced on foot, making their way carefully through the rubble, tensed to fever pitch for the first burst of Spandau fire that was bound to come soon out of the lingering darkness.        
Darkness cloaking their advance (it would stay "dark" for four turns as one of my dice failings was the inability to roll high enough to reach the all important figure of 8 at which point it would be light enough to see and engage targets normally)

Shrugging off the effects of the bombardment, the Fallschirmjager's support,
 a Nebelwerfer stands by for their first fire mission call
Peering into the darkness, Schmelling's men watch for a sign of the Americans 
Lt Dick Moncher's Paras move forward warily do the now dismounted US Infantry
The American force split along the three different streets

To Schmelling's relief, their panzer support arrives

waiting...(for three turns there was very little shooting with most of the German units being on Ambush (Overwatch would be a better term) so there was little they could do beyond wait for the Amis to stumble into range and sight

The tension increases as some speculative shooting takes place to little effect

The Fallschirmjager's 2nd Squad moves into an ambush position

     Stumbling over the rubble in the garden of the ruined house, Sgt Chuck Stones muttered a curse under his breath. Rubbing his bruised shin he risked a quick look around the wall of the ruin.Up ahead the street was in darkness, no movement. Beside him the huge silhouette of a Sherman rumbled along on the cobbles, the racket from it's engines almost mind numbing. 
     Peering into the blackness Stones noticed something moving at the far end of the street. Tank, he thought. As if in response to his thoughts, the blinding flash of a heavy calibre gun blinded him. He pulled back into cover, aware as he did of the sound of an anti tank round ricocheting off the Sherman's turret.   

      "Reverse! Reverse! Quick!" Gears grinding, engine revving, the huge tank reversed back into the town square and into cover behind a still intact building. In the dark, cramped interior of the Sherman, his hands trembling, Sgt Paddy O'Nions, lifted the crucifix hanging around his neck to his lips and kissed it briefly. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord" he muttered under his breath. "Shit!" Did anyone see where that shot came from?" he shouted into his mike. Brannigan, the crew's machine gunner chimed in "Far end o' the street, Paddy; on the right hand side I think".
      "Right, let's get the bastard" O'Nions growled "Nobody shoots at Sgt Paddy O'Nions and gets away with it, the bastards!". "Mick" this to the driver "take her forward beside that house. I just want the nose poking out; Mac, get ready on that gun; AP loaded? Mac, the gunner, grunted a reply "Yeah, sarge" "Right, O'Toole, advance!". "Sgt O'Nions, do you think it's a good idea to be heading back up that street? Thon wee German fellla might have better luck next time" said Pfc O'Toole, a first generation Irish American. 
"Never you mind about that Kraut and his luck; his luck has run out I tell you, when he decided to mess with Paddy O'Nions! Now get this tank moving, O'Toole or so help me God..." The threat was left hanging in the air and, cursing his luck, O'Toole, the driver, put the tank into gear and started moving his track levers as the tank ground forward behind the looming building... 

The Puma acted as an effective deterrent to the US armour. The Nebelwerfer team, under threat from the advancing US force, redeploy to the middle of the German deployment zone in an effort to find more targets 

The M3 foolishly advances along the street and into the Panzer IVs line of fire and pays the price for such foolish optimism. The passengers, a Bazooka team escaped into the cover of the ruins nearby.
Despite their armour being pushed back, the US Paras and infantry push on down the left flank. The US infantry were assaulted by a squad of Fallschirmjager who must have been on the Calvados brandy before they assaulted the Infantry as they only inflicted two kills and received four casualties in return. This left the left flank only being covered by the Puma
On the right flank, the US forces had made the most of the darkness and worked their way forward, closing with the Germans before they had fully recovered from the barrage. The Germans (Me) had a difficult time a)spotting the enemy and b) inflicting any damage on the Americans when they did manage to see them. My dice rolling was quite incredibly underwhelming in this game. For instance, with a target rich environment for the Nebelwerfer, of six targets within it's range, I managed to roll one 6 on the bazooka team. I then rolled a 1 for the damage when I only needed a 2+

Some speculative shooting by Lt Schmelling and his runner, sent the M8 Greyhound scurrying back. Result! However this allowed the second Sherman to advance down the street. By this point, one squad of Fallschirmjager had been wiped out and the second was down to two men with one panzerfaust. These two, with the chance of grabbing some glory for the Fatherland, promptly failed their morale check and where rounded up by the US Para squad nearest to them. 

      The Amis were swarming forward in droves now. Schmelling watched in dismay as yet another of his squads was overrun. Their position was now becoming untenable and the survivors of his platoon were in danger of being outflanked. His orders were to slow the Amis down but that was now proving impossible. He had to extract what was left of his command. He glanced to his right he spotted the welcoming sight of the Panzer IV sitting at the corner of the street. It's gun barked out a shot and it's machine guns rattled at unseen enemy. Here was a chance of covering his men's withdrawal.
      Nudging the paratrooper beside him, Schmelling shouted in his ear "Let's go, Brandt" and, crouching low, he ran towards the panzer....

The pretty ineffective sniper team, darkness robbing them of targets they must've nodded off as they missed with their one chance of getting a shot off....surprise surprise...
A target rich environment that the Nebelwerfer failed to make the most of

The Americans are well in their stride now. For the Germans it's all about saving face now...
The last of the German forces in Carenvan; the Panzer IV fires at and destroys the Sherman but it's too little too late

       The firing was dying away now. In it's place were the shouted orders, the cries and calls of the wounded and the sound of muted explosions as the ammunition in the burning vehicles cooked off.
       By a ruined building, Pfc Bannon proffered a cigarette packet to Lt Moncher. Thanking him, Moncher picked one out and lit it, drawing the smoke deep into his lungs. Behind him, a group of Paras was escorting their German counterparts towards the rear area. Spotting the lieutenant, a paratrooper detached himself from the group and ran towards him. "Sir, Sgt Stones told me to let you know they have secured the far end of the town. There's his squad and one of these infantry squads over there with a tank full of mad Irish men who are wanting to keep going after the Krauts covering the road" . Flicking the butt of the cigarette away, 
      Moncher nodded. "Thanks Corporal Kimsky,; any casualties?" Cpl Kimsky shook his head "None of ours though I think the infantry guys lost a few". He paused "There weren't many Krauts down there; those guys over there" here he indicated the POWs. "Them and an armoured car, which scooted of pretty damn quick" 
     Visibly relieved, Moncher nodded "Okay, Cpl Kimsky, hand over those prisoners as soon as possible and get back to Sgt Stones" The young corporal nodded "Yessir!" he said then ran off after the group of POWs and their escorts. 

     So the Americans have taken Carenvan. That was a great game, very tough on the Germans but them's the breaks. The fact that the Americans were able to make the most of the darkness to get right up close to the Germans before there was any real chance of firing at each other was a real plus for them.

     Initially I was hoping to be able to make their advance across the town square a difficult passage but realised that this wasn't going to work out well so I tried plugging the streets with my guys on the defensive. Closing with the Americans and taking a bit more of an aggressive stance would probably have been a better idea as it might have made it that much more difficult to get into my deployment zone and gain a victory.

      Rich played his usual aggressive game, making the most of the darkness, and reaped the rewards with a hard won but well deserved victory. The Allies had expanded their bridgehead and the Germans are probably preparing a counter attack even as I type.

      Any counter attacks will not happen for a while though as we are looking at playing the Market Garden campaign from the British perspective, both airborne and ground forces, which will be blogged...and many recce jeeps?

      Also, we'll be looking to the past and to the East to play a few mini campaigns around Case Blue and the German advance on Stalingrad as my chum, Danny, has been beavering away at putting together a Stalingrad themed table and we also have plenty of Russian style village dwellings too for battles on the steppe.

     But that's it from Carenvan, we've had a great time fighting over this piece of real estate especially as it forced us to put together and paint lots of nice, new buildings and has also given us lots and lots of ideas for further campaigns.

Well, I'm off to the bar for a quick pre-dinner snifter,
pip pip!
The General

Thursday, 18 October 2018

SKELP 2018

Being a review of my first trip to the SKELP Wargames show

        Last Saturday saw me deploy in support of Colonel Bill's(1) main man, Stu, at the SKELP (2) Wargames Show in lovely Forfar(3) up here (or over here, depending where you are situated globally) in Scotland. I say lovely Forfar as I have never, much to my discredit with the locals I'm sure, been in Forfar before, However what little I did see looked very nice, even on a driech (4) Saturday morning, an opinion which I hope will redeem me a little in the eyes of the locals.

       Anyway, the venue for SKELP is the Reid Hall, a fine old building (built in the Gothic style, I believe) in the town centre (opposite Tesco whihc is built in the untilitarian style and lacking a cafe) and it's run by the local wargames club, the Angus Wargames Club.

       The show is a fairly small scale affair compared to the majority of wargames shows held in the UK but it doesn't suffer in comparison. From what I saw of it, which was a fair bit, it was pretty busy.
      The show was laid out in the usual fashion with demo and participation games in the centre and the traders around the edges. There were about nine games on for the delectation of the visitors, most of which I managed to photograph, on my lunch break I hasten to add; there's commitment for you

So, in no particular order here are some photos of the games with some info I managed to glean....and remember (note to self, take a pencil and paper with you next time!)

Pictorial over view

This was a demo game run by a chap named Kenny (?) who was using a rule set of his own. A very nice looking 28mm game with Russians (I like Napoleonic Russians) and Prussians. Kenny's figures were very nicely painted too but I must confess I really liked his terrain, especially the timber framed buildings

Lots of lovely figures
Cossacks; Perry's I think

Love those buildings
Lovely stuff
Love the attention to detail

         More lovely stuff followed this time from Dave Imrie of Saxon Dog Painting. This time he had his amazing War Of The Roses figures with him (Last time I had a look at his stuff was at Carronade where he was running an earlier medieval game, think it might have been Crecy). Anyway, his tables and in particular his minis are a genuine treat to the eye. I have an inkling towards doing something WOTR themed and Dave doesn't help matters with his incredibly painted miniatures.


Ugh! Love the fortified manor

See what I mean about his painting 

It's the Archers!!

The Kirremuir Wargames Club ran a game of Airfix Battles. Don't know anything about this game but the guys seemed to be having fun. Their show is next month.
Nice looking table

This good looking bunch of mail order catalogue ex-models from the Village Vanguard ran a demo game of BIG Saga. A nice selection of buildings, figures and long boats

Gothenburg Games who are definitely not from THE least I don't think they are, put on a Western game using Playmobil figures which looked like good fun. Not sure who pinted the figures but they did a good job, you would swear they were real Playmobil figures!!

Lovely terrain but where's the Playmobil tramp figure?

There was a nice game of Hail Caesar being ran but, like the almost complete duffer I am (gotta have something to aim for, folks) I forgot to get details of which club they belonged too. Maybe someone can enlighten me. 

Ooh, elephants
 Falkirk and District Wargames Club ran a "what if" game pitching Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobites against the Crown forces at Kilburn. My chum and Chain Of Command opponent John Ewing was obviously feeling optimistic as he gave me a brief rundown of the rules but I can't recall what they were, for the life of me. In my defence I was at a wargames show and I always get distracted by everything that's going on. I'm sure he'll put me right, him or Dave Knight who was running the game. Meanwhile I only got two photos and I offer them up here for your perusal, dear reader. 

Once again my memory fails me as to who ran this game of Beneath The Lily Banners but it looked realy nice. Yet another period I would love to game in, I do like a soldier in a tricorne

The chaps from Leuchars Veterans had a participation game based on Carry On Up The Khyber which looked like great fun, I think, once again, this was a set of home brew rules that were being played.

    There may have been one or two other games being played and if I missed your game, my apologies.I was taking my photos during my lunch break and Stu at Colonel Bills cracks the whip, especially when he starts to gets hungry, which is often, especially when it comes to bridies (5).

    A new manufacturer to me, are Commando Miniatures, who produces figures for the period of when Great Britain was giving up it's colonies and retreating from it's Empire, so the period from about 1950 to 1980 (I'm depending on my memory again here folks so I suggest you check out their  website) but they do cover Borneo, Aden etc The figures are 28mm and look very nice. They will tie in nicely with the MDF vehicles that Warbases produce for that era too.

     Like almost every other wargames show, there was a bring and buy and my two or three visits proved very fruitful as does working with Colonel Bills, at least as far as Stu is concerned. I got these lovely toys from the show
Old Glory Napoleonic Russian Caissons

Old Glory Napoleonic French field forge set, which is a lovely kit 
A mixed bag of Victorian characters fit for In Her Majesty's Name

From Colonel Bill's I got some Woodland Indian casualties for
 my Sharp Practice FIW deployment points

 Foundry Miniatures British Airborne; love these figures. I now have a very
complete platoon for both Bolt Action and Chain of Command

Seven Years War era grenadiers from Front Rank who will see service as
 British Royal Navy Marines for Warhammer Historical's Legends of the High Seas
Got this as it will easily pass for 28mm and you can never have enough
buildings, especially ones that can be converted into a ruin just by lifting off the top floor

Other bits and bobs that I bought

So that was my first SKELP, looking forwards to attending next year, especially as I committed the cardinal sin of not buying any bridies!!

Pip Pip for the mo,
General J

(1) Colonel Bill's. Stu is a regular on the UK war games scene who buys and sells painted and unpainted figures as well as producing his own range of figures and scenic accessories. He also stocks paints, brushes, etc etc. Too much to say here as it's 3am in the morning. I recommend you check out his webstore, it's a genuine treasure trove. He is also daft enough to let me help him with the shows he runs in Scotland but that shouldn't be held against him.
(2) Skelp; Scottish; to slap
(3) Forfar: a lovely wee town north of Dundee, Scotland
(4) Bridie: meat and veg filled pastry treat that Forfar is famously known for

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