Saturday, July 26, 2014

Musee de l'armee at Les Invalides

During our recent visit to Paris we visited Musee de l'armee at Les Invalides.  This was my 4th visit.

Here are just a few general shots from the visit.

Bronze cannons lying about.. careless?  :-)

A 'Napoleon'.

I'd never before realised that the stonework around these dormer windows was shaped as suits of armour.

The stonework is being cleaned and repaired.. looking great.

Napoleon's tomb... still impressive, even after 4 visits

A French 75 (the famous 'soixante quinze').

Mulhouse, August 1914

With the centenary of the outbreak of World War One looming, we thought it appropriate to acknowledge the outbreak with a Great War Spearhead game. I say acknowledge rather than celebrate - there isn't a lot to celebrate, but certainly a lot to acknowledge in terms of human sacrifice.

I decided that we would try a play test of the first scenario in the upcoming Great War Spearhead scenario book, the Battle of Mulhouse, 9 August 1914.

We played the game using my 6mm WW1 forces, mostly Irregular Miniatures figures and guns.

Keith and I commanded the German forces, and Jon commanded the French. The situation is that a German infantry division is counter attacking to retake an area lost in an earlier French attack, and currently defended by the French with two infantry regiments supported by two regiments of 75s,

The French defence on the right. A significant feature of the French defence is the railway line and embankment. I lacked suitable scenery and so marked the embankment with string.. as you do.

The Germans decided on a full divisional attack directly towards Cernay and the bridge. The bridge is the only crossing point on the river. The German forces are arrayed on the left of the photograph.

The French defended Cernay.

The view from behind the French defence. Jon deployed one regiment defending Cernay and the bridge, the other on his right (out of view) awaiting what he believed would be a German flank attack.

The German plan was to send a regiment each to the right and left of Cernay while  a third regiment would assault through Cernay and across the bridge. The fourth regiment was kept in reserve. The two flanking regiments each had artillery attached, with the intent of advancing directly with the infantry, firing in direct support.

The right hand German regiment deploying to engage in a firefight with the defenders occupying the outskirts of Cernay (top right of the photo).

The French defenders waiitng.

The German regiments combined an extensive firefight woth direct assault to eliminate the French defenders in the outskirts of Cernay, before finally assaulting Cernay itself. The assault has just gone in and is yet to be resolved.

WIth Cernay in German hands, Keith began bringing down indirect fire on the French defenders behind the railway embankment.

My own regiment also engaged the defenders behind the embankment, causing casualties that slowly whittled away at the defenders' strength.

At this stage we ran out of game time. Not for us the victory of the German division on the day, and ignominy for the French commander. Jon had kept us back across the river.

The scenario offered the option of a flank march for the German division, but the issue of command zones meant that to do so would mean one German regiment isolated across the river, and open to defeat in detail. Hence our decision to keep the division together, concentrated for its assault on Cernay and the river crossings. The flank march option seemed to us to create more tactical dilemmas than we had the forces to deal with.

The scenario offers some interesting challenges for both commanders. For me it was a welcome return to one of my favourite rules sets, and periods, for wargaming after a long break filled with distraction.

We will be playing much more in the months to come.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

References for buildings for Normandy - wargames terrain

We've just returned from a two week jaunt that took in California and France. While in France we stayed with my brother and sister-in-law who have restored and live in a Norman farm house. Their house is situated in the small village of Fresville, just 5 minutes by car from St Mere Eglise.

The French leg didn't include any battlefields this time, but it did strike me that I number amongst my friends and wargames colleagues a number of people who game World War 2 in north west Europe, and some who scratch build their own wargames terrain. So with that in mind I went for a wander and snapped a range of shots of Norman buildings with the thought of creating a small reference tool for wargamers/modellers, something that they could use to create terrain suitable for games set in Normandy.  I've added short captions for some of the photos to help interpret the structures. These are not modern facsimiles of Norman buildings: they are the authentic/original thing, the structures themselves are often 300+ years old.

The Fresville 'church hall'.

Close up of the buttressing of the walls of the church hall.

The Fresville church


Detail of the entry to a courtyard area behind housing.

Classic Norman house profile.

Another classic Norman house profile.

Entry gate details

Village 'communal well' .. a nice detail that could be included with any wargames terrain building.

Yes, some Norman buildings have dormer windows

Often seen, external brackets indicating the presence of structural reinforcing within.

Outbuildings ...

Another classic farmhouse profile

Outbuilding to farm house.. this one was originally the bakery for the farm workers

Forcing the Uvarova

The vastness and the difficulty of the terrain through the Caucasus meant that by 1915 there were still avenues to be explored if victory wa...