Friday, 30 November 2012

Finding Nadia

The second battle in our 1918 Bulgarian mini-campaign as the Anglo-Greek force races across Bulgaria to rescue the Baroness Nadia Legova. Two platoons of Greek Evzones, each led by a British armoured car, converged on the village (below, top left and right).

The village waits (playing cards show blind possible positions of German troops. Top left of picture, the Right Flank Greek armoured car and platoon drives past the orchard. Top right, the Left Flank Greek platoon approached the village behind its armoured car. Bottom of picture are Germans hiding in a hastily dug trench. Right, out of the picture, a unit of flanking Greek cavalry is making its way through the trees)

German troops were hidden behind forward walls in the orchard on the Greek right and in the woods on the left, the aim being to slow the Greeks down, make them dismount from the trucks and walk over the fields where the machine guns can take them out.

The Greeks decided to use the armoured cars as mobile battering rams, knowing that there was a chance that they could be taken out by guns or close-in grenades, but moving up fast like this this would allow the infantry to get up closer faster, and not get shot up in a long foot slogging advance.

This strategem worked to an extent, the armoured cars were very hard to hit, but barriers across the roads held them up, and on one flank (the right flank) the Evzones did have to dismount to deal with German ambush units in the orchard. On the left flank, a unit of Greek cavalry was able to scout ahead and clear the way for the trucks to go across country, but were then pinned by the Germans in a  trench as they tried to go around the village flank (above picture, bottom centre) and took heavy losses


 German infantry in ambush shoot up the Greek trucks from behind the the orchard walls, forcing the Greek infantry to dismount in open ground and slowing their progress. The fighting to clear the Orchard was very fierce.

The Greek Evzones in the open on the right flank also took heavy losses, one squad being nearly wiped out, and another badly mauled before they could gain the walls as cover. From then on though, the initiative passed to the Greeks as they poured a hail of shots and rifle grenades and the armoured cars' machine guns to suppress the German machine gun posts. On the other flank the trucks, making heavy weather of the ground,  moved an entire platoon to take out the German squad in the trench (top of picture). This German squad had forced the Greek cavalry to retire but was now fairly shaky itself, and decided not to hang around to fight an entire Evzone platoon

Bottom of picture - Greek Evzone fire base behind a farm wall pours fire into Germans in the houses while (top of picture) Greek trucks go around the village left flank and prepare to assault the trench. Out of picture on bottom right the Greek Evzones have cleared out the Orchard and are threatening to move to the rear of eh village and capture the bridge.

German resistance was tenacious, but they also took losses. Once the Greeks had moved onto the village flanks, set up their fire bases, cleared the machine gun nests, and threatened to capture the bridge at the rear, the Germans felt there was no point in continuing and slipped away over the bridge, before the barricades were cleared and the armoured cars could intercept them.

(Mud & Blood rules, 1 German platoon and 2 Machine Guns defend a village against 2 Greek Evzone platoons and 2 Rolls Royce armoured cars. The Greek squads each carried a Chauchat LMG and rifle grenade team, which meant that once the fire bases were set up the Germans started to feel the impact) 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Rush for Sofia, and Nadia

A Salonica Front mini-campaign, late 1918. The French and Serbs have broken the Bulgarians, who are retiring in increasing disarray, The British have them stalemated at Doiran, Greek forwad units of Evzones and cavalry are starting to move through the gap the French have created. But some disciplined German and Bulgarian units are fighting a disciplined rearguard action as they attempt to withdraw, and not be cut off.

But within this big picture, the British behind-enemy-lines secret agent Countess Nadia Legova has been kidnapped by the Germans and is being rapidly transported away. The British must find her, and the mission has been entrusted to a top Chap, Captain Guy Goode. He has "borrowed" a Rolls Royce armoured car, and a platoon of Greek Evzones, and they are racing through the backroads of Bulgaria to rescue the Countess. But the Germans are holding key road junctions to delay pursuing Allied troops, and as the flying column nears one little Bulgarian town, local balkan bandit supporters warn them the Germans have prepared an ambush.

The Flying Column enters at the road bottom left, and must break through the roadblocks in the village and exit the table top centre by the end of the game to be able to catch the Countess in time

The Rolls Royce Armoured Car heads the column, acting as a tripwire to expose the German ambushes - possible ambushes are the playing cards on the table (above). The car comes round the first bend (see below) and is ambushed by Germans to both sides and in front, who throw grenade bags which put off the driver, and the car careens straight ahead, off the road, into the woods (bottom right) and the engine won't start. The first following truckful of Evzones alights and moves up to clear the Germans. The Evzones are crack troops, and armed with Chauchats and Rifle Grenades they outmatch the rifle armed Germans. However, the crafty Germans have a two-punch plan, the halted trucks behind the first are fired at by another group of Germans, in another ambush, so a second squad must dismount to deal with that....

The Armoured Car is being ambushed, flights of Grenades so discomfit the driver that he loses control and the car plows straight ahead, ending up stalled in the woods. In the top left the first truck's Evzones are dismounting. the big card in the foreground is about to prove to be more Germans in ambush.All thos trees on the right are about to come alive with the sound of German rifles

Our Heroic Chap boots the armoured car crew out the car to fix the engine while he turns it machine gun round to make sure Fritz doesn't come too close. But he is OK, Fritz now has his hands full with Evzones, and in fact Fritz and Hans et al soon lose their Bottle and retire in the face of Chauchats and rifle grenades.

The armoured car starts (hooray), reverses, gets back on the road, and rolls into the village, barging through the first blockade. More German units in ambush in the village try and bomb it, and it stall again! A bit of a tight spot, what.... The third Evzone truck however has raced through the last of the other firefights and arrives to support the Armoured Car in the nick of time. However, in the village a heavy machine gun opens up and all the Greeks dive for the ditches!

Fortunately, help is at hand - local bandits emerge to shoot at the German Machine Gun, which is then turned on them, and in that fortunate respite (not for the poor bandits, however...) the Evzones get themselves organised and start to clear the manor house and grounds (in the top picture, see walled garden and house to right of road by barricades). The Greek Lieutenant, having eventually cleared out the second ambush, takers his squad on an encircling manouvre round the left of the town, to link up with bandits on that side and take Jerry from the rear (oo er...). 

Greek irregulars arrive on the village outskirts and start sniping at the German machine gun nest, which turns on them with unfortunate consequences.....for the irregulars, and for the Germans too, as that respite allows the Greek Evzones to regroup and advance again....

In the meantine, the first squad of Evzones that dismounted has cleared out the German ambush, so they remount and their truck careens round the corner to help out. The Armoured Car crew can now safely get out and get the engine going, it finally restarts, rolls into town, pushes over the second barricade, and moves through the town and off up the road at full pelt with one truck behind it, leaving the other Greeks to mop up. 

The begining of the end of German resistance - the Armoured Car restarts and is about to move forward to clear the second barricade, one truckload of Evzones is right behind it, and (top left  of picture) another truck has remounted its squad and is on the way, while the Greek lieutenant (top centre of picture) is about to rout the Germans to his front, and lead his squad through the trees to attack the far side of the village (which stalls with high casualties, but by then its all over). 

Facing high losses and encirclement. the German commander decides it is better to surrender what is left of his force to the Allies rather than leave his men to retreat into the woods and the tender mercies of the circling bandits, and so they are disarmed and guarded by some of the Evzones, while a second truck full of Evzones mount up with the Keen Lieutenant and they hare off after the others. The German ambulance crew tend to Germans and Greek wounded while they wait for the units following to arrive..

Will they catch Major von Bösemann? Will the Countess be rescued? Is she in fact a double Agent? Tune in to the next exciting installment.... 

Game was played with Mud & Blood rules, which we love, it makes for an enjoyable and fast paced game. The German platoon were defined as poorer quality troops than the crack Evzones, who are also better armed at a squad level with a Chauchat and 2 rifle grenadiers, but the Germans do start the game in ambush and cover. But it is very hard to stop an armoured car in this period with platoon level weapons, and the Germands failed here, and once they had announced their presence, and even if  initially succesful, the greater firepower and morale of the Evzones soon put them on the back foot and then taking to their heels. We also had randomly appearing partisan units of either side, the Greeks got the better dice so had more help than the poor beleagured Germans.

German casualties (killed, wounded, routing) were about 50% at the end of the game, Greeks about 20%, but early medical attention from the German ambulance crew will hopefully help many live.