Thursday, February 23, 2023

Trench Assault

France, 1915, and the French army sets out to break the German line. This is the account of a Great War Spearhead game pitching two French divisions against a defending German division as we test some alternative preliminary bombardment rules.  I played this as a solo game, and I tended to gloss over some of the detail in order to test How would the attackers fare against the defence?

The battlefield with the forces deployed, the French on the left in the photo

The French attack sees the weight of the attack focused on their right

More on the right

The French left waiting for the whistle to 'go over the top'

The defenders feel very thin on the ground, one of the bunkers

German defenders occupying a French village incorporated into the front line

The French preliminary bombardment begins.

Suppressed German companies, victims of the French bombardment

Gaps in the wire from the French bombardment. Note that some of the French wire has been cut by the German counter bombardment

French attackers suppressed by the German counter bombardment

On the French right, very little of the German wire remained uncut

In the centre large areas of the German wire remain, and the attacker are hung up on the wire

Some French attackers in the centre make it into the German lines

French preplanned artillery fire begins to fall as the French infangtry rush forward

In the centre the attacking infantry are confronted with a solid barrier of wire

The intensity of fire builds

On gthe French right the attackers move forward as their preplanned barrage falls on the defenders

In the centre all hell has broken loose

The French left seen from behind the German lines

At the end of the first turn.. the French attackers on the right have taken serious casualties

The French second wave on their right steps off 

In the centre the second wave masses, but the attackers are still hung up behind the German wire

The French left trying to push into the German lines

The French left seen from behind the German lines

The French left breaks into the German lines

Assaults on defending nGerman companies

At the end of turn 2, French on the left

The German regiment on their left defending against the French right flank attack breaks and flees 

Remnants of the German defenders on their left fleeing

The French centre still hung up

The French left has broken into the German right

The German right flank regiment held a battalion in reserve, and these troops move forward to the high ground behind their line to halt then French breakthrough

The extent of the French breakthrough on their right (bottom of the phot) is apparent

A firefight underway on the French left (German right)

The German lefty/French right as the French infantry storm forward

French infantry beyond the German front line

French attackers in the centre have penetrated the German wire

Fierce fighting towards the German right

Preplanned French artillery falls on the edge of the forest behind the German left, catching some of the advancing French infantry

French pre-planned fire falls on the german defenders on their right, opposing the French left (upper part of the photo)

The French left flank attackers under fierce fire

The French centre

The French left again seen from the German position

The German reserve had been committed at the end of turn 3, and advances against the French breakthrough

The French right flank breakthrough as they move forward to take the woods behind the German line. The last of the German left flank defenders can be seen in the lower part of the photo fleeing through the woods towards the bottom of the photo

The centre, with the attackers still stalled by the uncut German wire. Some French companies have managed to break into the German lines 

The centre - slow progress

The French attackers are pinned down in their newly captured German trenches

At this stage there will be a fierce fight for the wooded area behind the German left opposing the French right flank breakthrough. The German reserve regiment commitment was vital to holding the line. The French left flank attack is likely to be held as the localised German reserve brings fire down on any French attempt to move out of the German lines.

Any further French attack will need to await a regrouping as a new artillery fire plan is developed.


  1. Sure looks fierce. Lot of troops like WW1 should have. I am pulling for the French!

  2. Brilliant. A great battle for the grande guerre! Your table and figures convey it so well and the intensity comes through in your report. Was the wire 'dispensed with' a bit too easily by the bombardment, do you think? That's a significant French breakthrough. At this rate they will be in Berlin in no time... 'cept for the lack of sufficient follow-up troops!
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James. The wire issue is important, yes. With the system we are trialling it was equally likely very little wire was cut. It was 'luck of the dice' that the wire in front of the French right flank was almost completely cut). I also played the wire 'rules' incorrectly.. once infantry have spent their full turn in front of the wire (making their way through) the wire section is removed.. I left it there so that it was an obstacle to follow up waves. Rats!!!!


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