Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mont Aout .. 1914

Mont Aout September 1914 "was the scene of last-ditch attempt by the German Second Army to outflank General Foch’s Ninth Army." So says the newest scenario book for Great War Spearhead, just published by Shawn Taylor and Robert Dunlop.

Now, it had been a while since any of us had played anything substantive in the way of GWSH (well any of the Spearhead stable of games, truth to tell). What's more, this was the official christening of my new games room, back in operating order after the prolonged post Christchurch earthquake rebuild. First order of the night was the opening of a bottle of bubbles before we proceeded on our way with command arrows and deployment.

Keith and I commanded a division each from the German Guards Corps, while Andrew commanded the French 17th division deployed on and around Mt Aout (the large feature in the foreground of the photograph). The German Guards Corps is attacking from the left of the photo (the west).

The French deployed with two regiments covering Mr Aout and Broussy Le Grand (the village in the foreground) and a third covering the right flank and the farm. One regiment was kept in reserve.

The German attack sent one division towards Mt Aout, intended to be more of a pinning attack, and the other towards the left. Each German division had kept one regiment in reserve.

Early observed fire from an on-board regiment of 'soixante quinze' (French 75s) began to cause casualties on the German advance immediately.

A French battalion is deployed in defence of Broussy Le Grand

French infantry deployed on the edge of the woods atop Mt Aout itself .. this was a strong position

Persistent French fire brought down by a very savvy FO caused casualties, and also fell on the German reserve regiment, causing it to be given an order immediately. It was given a timed order to advance against Mt Aout
 The German advance on the right attracted a lot of fire and casualties were mounting.

The German left was a more methodical advance, measured to dislodge the French right, take the farm, and exit regiments off the board, claiming victory points.

The German left flank advance

The firefight begins between the German advance and the French infantry in the woods atop Mr Aout (just in view top right of the photo). These troops were well supported by their artillery.
 The German plan included a flank march against the farm, and this arrived exactly on time.

The German left wing flank march

The Litko markers indicate the growing intensity of the action as firefights and artillery 'light up' the battle field

The German artillery begins to fall on the French infantry defending Mr Aout itself. Infantry fire is also growing in intensity .. the excitement builds.

A German regiment is pushing towards Broussy Le Grand .. but is taking heavy fire from its left flank and its front.

Looking east from behind the German left, the flank march against the farm is putting the French right wing under pressure.

The German centre.. casualties are mounting.. will they hold?

Casualties are mounting on the right flank German regiment too.. it's a 'cauldron' there.

The German left

Broussy Le Grand .. a very strong position

The German right flank regiment is taking too many casualties .. its numbers have been significantly thinned down

The firefight between the German centre and the defenders atop Mt Aout

On the French right, Andrew's defending regiment executes a well planned timed order to withdraw as he commits his reserve regiment to relieve the pressure. This was superb anticipation on Andrew's part .. all a part of his initial plan.

The French centre is now being put under a lot of pressure, a key position in the defence has been breached.
 The German right flank march against Broussy Le Grand arrives to face a thin defence. The French had pushed the remainder of this defending force forward thinning the defence of the flank, tempted forward by the growing German casualties to their front as they won the firefight. This had been a part of the German plan, but ...

The German right flank march arrives behind Broussy Le Grand

Casualties had now reached a critical point. Two German right flank regiments had to test morale. The left hand regiment facing Mr Aout passed, but the fight wing regiment attacking Broussy Le Grand failed. The steam had gone from the German attack. The French were now able to turn their attention to the threat to their flank behind Broussy Le Grand.

The gap lower right where the lost German regiment has been removed.

At the same time the French right flank regiment also had to test morale and failed. However the French reserve was well positioned to contain the German thrust west.

The German left/French right with the space where the lost French regiment had been in defence of the farm complex. The French reserve can be seen top left of the photo.

This was an exciting game. Poor German command arrows (drawn by ... um ... .. me.... no excuses), and also poorer on table deployment, meant that the German attack on Mr Aout failed. While that attack had only ever been meant to pin the main defending forces expected around Mr Aout, it was never well coordinated. There were no good positions from which to engage in the firefight.

Andrew's timed withdrawal on his right, combined with the commitment of his reserve, were both exceptionally good tactical thinking. The German left flank attack which had been intended to be the main thrust was largely negated.

The game ended in a French victory by 8 victory points to 4. History looked to be about to repeat itself on the Marne.

Messing around with pre game bombardments in Great War Spearhead

While the 1917/1918 WW1 western front painting project isn't finished yet (work and life tend to fill most waking hours at the moment), ...