Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Race to the sea ...

Armies have met and clashed along the Aisne, and stalemate looks to be on the cards. The British and German armies have begun several months of attempts to break the deadlock by trying to outflank each other as they race towards the channel.

This set the scene as Nick G and I met for Nick's first Great War Spearhead game after our diet of WW2 Spearhead. The game was a 'Mutual Encounter' shaped using the scenario generation system, fought with 20mm figures. We used largely 6mm terrain - something a little experimental still.

The first photo illustrates the battlefield looking northwest with the BEF forces trying to race northeast (playing from left to right) to take the Germans in the flank, and the German army trying to do likewise (playing from right to left).

Both sides had understandably concentrated their forces on the more northerly part of the battlefield, each also trying to include a northern flank match in order to gain some advantage on the other.

The Fourth Division's First Brigade was pushing forward astride the stream, largely dry in the early autumn heat, its objective the bridge crossing. The German commander took the risky option of a deep flank march, the risk paying off and his regimental commander stormed down the road towards the bridge. For both commanders capturing the bridge was obviously a significant part of the plan.

Action quickly unfolded around the copse to the nor'west of the bridge.

In the meantime the remainder of the German forces paused in their advance as they secured key villages and terrain feature.

The First Brigade commander called for artillery support and the Divisional 4.5" howitzer regiment responded with heavy accurate fire. The German regiment, caught in the open working its way forward towards the copse, took heavy casualties.

The German flanking regiment has taken its first casualties, with several companies rendered ineffective, and another suppressed by the accurate British artillery fire.
The first morale check of the game and.. a '6'. Robin muttered, and Nick performed a short dignified 'jig'.

A general view of the northern action from behind the BEF lines.

The forward elements of First Brigade had (perhaps rather foolishly) taken up position on the high ground to the west of the bridge, and began to take casualties as accurate German artillery and MG fire came down on them.

On the southern flank, Fourth Brigade of 5th Division had secured the village and was pushing around the flank of the German attackers.

The view form behind the BEF right (southern) flank. The firefight has started to cause casualties for both sides, the British holding the high ground have taken casualties from German 105s

The BEF commander had attempted his own flanking attack, planed to come on at much the same position as the German Regiment. His Brigade commander struggled to manoeuvre, cramped as he was with an unexpected German Regiment to his front, and finally (3 game turns late) was forced back to his start position, coming on back along the BEF table base line (per the Scenario Generation System).

The flanking German Regiment was joined by a company of Divisional cavalry who quickly dismounted ready to join in the struggle for the copse.

Artillery fire came down on the BEF reinforcements as they pushed on forward to try to dislodge the German Regiment on the flank.

At this stage we had been playing (and talking) for three hours (obviously far tooo much talking and not enough playing) and had to call time on the game. The battle still had plenty of opportunity for one side or the other to gain advantage.

Nick had proven himself a quick learner, taking the Spearhead basics that he has acquired from our WW2 games, and adapting well to the WW1 from of the game. His plan was sound, with a judicious piece of daring, and he had supported each key piece of his attack with appropriate Divisional assets.

He was impressed with the different feel to the game. For my part it was good to push the WW1 plastic around the table again. I've forgotten a lot!!!

Next, a mid war trench game.

1 comment:

  1. Nice wee report there Robin. I especially liked the bit where I did a jig! Great game! I've even got some late war WW1 Brits lying around...


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