Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Combat Stress - off topic

I was at work yesterday and met a guy who was at school with and was friends with my cousin. He confirmed what I had long suspected in that my cousin left the British Army suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)  and filled me in with some of the details. Like many who leave this was was never identified as being the reason and he had no support after he left. I rather suspect he suffered in silence for far too long and couldn't or wouldn't speak to his friends or family about it.

The conflict in the Balkans in the 1990's was a particularly nasty and inhumane affair and my cousin was out there in a 'peacekeeping' role. From what I understand the 'rules of engagement' were so strict that he saw incidents that he wanted to stop or prevent but was not allowed to do so. This obviously played on his mind with inevitable consequences.

In the UK my preferred charity,  Combat Stress, supports those who suffer PTSD after they leave the Services. Henry Hyde of Battlegames was a prime mover in getting this charity some publicity.

There are similar charities in other countries. I've just made another donation to Combat Stress. No one deserves to go through what my cousin saw but if they do the least I can do is help them try to deal with it through charities like these

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Recent Recruits

I have been busy at work recently whilst at the same time I have had to delay painting the rest of my partisans due to to family  holiday 'preparations', which in my case means clothes left on top of my painting area. I rather suspect that I won't have time to get anything else done before we disappear to the West Country for a couple of weeks.

I have, however, realised that I failed to produce a close up of the GPO (General Post Office) rocket team that I bought at Salute and finished a mere two months later. This was the team that so spectacularly failed to hit anything at all throughout the course of the entire game. Useless !
My father is something of a stamp collector but his knowledge of 1930's Post Office  uniforms amounted to 'dark blue I think'. So much for the esteemed membership of the GB Philatelic Society then! As a result I guessed but they have come out OK.

I like Musketeer Miniatures and I especially like the fact that Bill will bring out something 'different' for those of us that are not talented converters. I know that is always a risky prospect for a manufacturer which is why I have tended to support his range of Interwar figures.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Small Unit Tactics

I have spent the last three days working at a music festival. One of the benefits (aside from the overtime grafted though stupidly long hours) was the opportunity of chatting to and generally chewing the cud with Dave Brown, author of the General de Brigade rules, who was working the event with me.  I have known Dave professionally for years but it wasn't until a year or so ago that I put two and two together over our mutual hobby interest.

He was telling me that he is approaching the final stages of completing a rework of his WW2 company sized rules Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier at the moment.This was followed by an interesting discussion over the power of sustained fire Medium Machine Guns in WW2.

Given the recent debacle in my last game and the pre read that Ted has given me for the next,  the issue of tactics in attacking a defended position arose. As a 'youngster' I admit that I failed to see the point of the humble 2in mortar as used by British and Commonwealth troops but as I 'approach' middle age it is now instantly clear that I would like loads of them to lay down a real 'Pea souper' of a smoke cloud next time I attack.

Funnily enough Rich Clarke of 'Lardies' fame addresses the same issue in the most recent issue of Miniature Wargames. I have to say that I am a British doctrine style player by nature  rather than one who prefers the straight use of suppressing fire. Equally I am not the sort of person that could adopt Red Army or Korean War type wave attacks. My old gaming partner of yore had the flaming red hair to match a Commissar's mentality and regularly threw hordes of conscripts towards me from one side of the table to the other with sometimes inevitable consequences. The fact that I used the word as sometimes probably indicates why this strategy continued.

What struck me was how the same topic of thought arose at the same time to three different people. Now it is time to cancel my order of figures who were to be my U/E Boat Crew and look for some Early War Tommies and a Mark VI Vickers Light Tank that I can paint up as my grandfather's. (or perhaps I will just 'forget' to cancel the sailors!).

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm - I have no one left to debrief !

This was a sorry state of affairs. A comprehensive and complete victory for Craig. You only have to see my casualty box fill up as the day went on. Normally my figures are insulated from the elements but this might give you a hint of my frustration !

Where did I go wrong?

 I had nothing really capable of stopping his vehicles. My ATR and 6pdr couldn't hit a barn door at 6 feet. Not a single hit between them all game. My rocket unit was 'experimental' so it was bound to fail.

Even if I had declared or asked for some of my units to be equipped with Panzerfausts or similar Craig's vehicles were never really close enough  to make an impact with the exception of the Sdkfz 250. The Lysander was my main asset but it never had a chance of landing.

I will chalk this one up as 'one of those things'.

One final thought. The 'rule of the new figure' was in evidence today. Brand new Panther - breaks down on the first move. Brand new Panzer IV - breaks down. Brand new Rocket Artillery - fails to hit a thing.  Brand new Commando Unit - appears ' at random' right in front of two tanks with predictable consequences !

Game 3 - The Farm - I need a new plan

At the first available opportunity I ordered the Lysander to make a strafing run along the route of the proposed landing site in an attempt to stop the pioneers from ruining it. I had mixed success and was able to immobilise the truck but the pioneers were able to manhandle their explosive drums out of the back. The following round I targeted the Panzer IV that was heading East towards the farm with my sole bombing run. I missed ( the story of the day for me) and this directly led to the complete annihilation of the Commando Unit. The sole survivor was the Sergeant who avoided being shot whilst tanding out in the open ground.

At the northern end of the farmyard my my partisans were caught in enfilade fire by the dismounted troops from the Hanonag. In two turns I lost a whole unit including the leader Paul Camembert. Another unit of German riflemen approached the farmhouse from the North.

It was at this point that the 81mm mortar section conveniently found their range and scored a direct hit on my 6per gun. Compounding the rapidly worsening situation was the irritating Lt Gruber Gruber who was leading a charmed life in his Sdkfz 222. He seemed to be able to drive around at will shooting up any of my units that were visible.

It was clear now that I would be unable to land the Lysander. I simply had no units that were capable of taking out his armoured vehicles and the Panzer IV was lumbering inexorably towards the landing site. I decided that I would try and create a small corridor along the centre of the table, race my jeep from the 'garage' at the Eastern Table edge to the farm, drag the professor and Yvette on board and try and escape off of the western table edge.  I thought I was in with a chance as the next round saw the Panzer IV break down.

In order to give myself a turn or two to accomplish this I ordered the Lysander to make two South/North starting runs just to the West of the farmhouse. In a straight line I hoped to pin (in order) the pioneers, the squad who had decamped from the Sdkfz 250, avoid hitting my squad in the road and then strafe the German Squad who were approaching from the North. Needless to say this was doomed to failure. Almost inevitably the squad who suffered the most damage were my own. Compounding matters the Germans returned fire at the Lysander damaging the engine. With glycol pouring out of the engine cover the aircraft returned to England, the parting words of the resistance were that they suggested the rear seat gunner attended Gunnery School.

Notwithstanding this I was already committed to this escape. As my jeep hurtled down the road Yvette and the Professor made their way from the farmhouse. It was typical that it was at this point that the mortar team accidentally dropped rounds significantly short of their intended intended but slap bang on top of the escaping duo. As the dust settled there was no trace of Yvette and the Professor lay mortally wounded..

The jeep approached the duo and picked up the professor but as they started to drive off they were confronted by the German backtrack that had turned to face them in the country lane.

The result was inevitable.....

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm - The Lysander(and others) arrive

Aimed rocket fire at Gruber was awful and the only damage was a dirty great hole in the potential landing strip. At the same time Craig was dropping oil drums and Pioneers out of the back of his truck and the troops north of the farm were making slow but steady progress. Gruber then suppressed my rocket team with 20mm cannon fire and at this point I declared that I would reveal my 6pdr and attempted to blow Gruber to smithereens.
Awful dice rolling or alternatively 'lack of familiarity or experience in handling the weapon'  resulted in abject failure. This only encouraged the German 81mm mortar team to shell the barnyard with gay abandon.

Meanwhile to the West one of the Boyes crew met his demise whilst the motorcyclists in the open also became casualties. Of partisan rifle fire from the orchard. Craig seized a chance to split my forces forecast sending his APC between the orchard and the farmhouse. However as his men debussed into the orchard they were met by small arms fire from the upstairs Windows of the farmhouse suppressing the MG crew in the open topped vehicle and driving some of his battle hardened troops to ground.

As the attention of the partisans in the woods had been drawn by the APC and the squad it carried, the pioneers continued to lay down oil drums of what I suspected to be High Explosives.  I was also notified that a squad of Royal Marine Commandos who had been expected for some time had appeared at the far South  Western corner of the table. Freshly recruited (painted)  the team of 10 emerged from the woods with the instructions to make their way to the farmhouse. (The exact entry point was entirely random based in dice throws).

At the same time German reinforcements also appeared on the table. Straight from the repair depot and rushed with great haste to support this operation a prototype Panther and a Panzer IV G lumbered onto the table. Unfortunately for my commandos they appeared on the road right by the side of the woods that the the Commandos had just exited. Bad fortune goes both ways however and the Panther immediately rolled  double 1 on 2d6. Whoever had been responsible for the refit had obviously put put more  attention into the paint job rather than the engine.  The engine misfired then stalled and then died with no hope of recovery.

(It was not worth taking a picture if the Commandos , they were not on the table ling enough !)

To the North a Hanonag turned a corner rather too closely to an inauspicious looking milk churn which was then detonated by hard wired plunger. Losing the front  wheel the APC shuddered to a halt.

My suspicions proved true when the oil drums were set off by pencil fuses. The clear intent was to crater the runway. I exchanged fire with the Panzergrenadiers in the orchard and rushed and killed one in hand to hand combat. My glee was short lived as a well thrown grenade took out 3 of my partisans. To the east another squad of 5 Partisans  left the barn and ran west to support their colleagues in the orchard.

Grubers little tank had by now reached the rear of the barn and was engaging with my Bren carrier in the race eastern enclosure. At this time my sporadic contact with Grey Ghost confirmed  the Lysanders arrival

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm, opening moves

I spent the best part of a day in Ted's Games House, playing Game 3 in our linked series of a World War 2 campaign.  In brief the French player had to get a scientist and some photos onto a Lysander plane and back to the UK. The German player had discovered the location of the pick up and was marshalling forces to interdict the Lysander and prevent the scientist from escaping.

As the French player I had to deploy all my troops within the enclosed area of the farm, it's outbuildings and the orchard. I had a 6pdr AT gun that could be concealed until it fired as well as a Bren carrier carrier and a jeep. These items had been retained by the French following the defeat in 1940 ( or that was the justification for having them). My secondary  objective was to get two British RAF evaders (Carstairs and Fairfax) on the plane as well. However as neither spoke French and they were both spectacularly stupid they could not move until accompanied by Michelle (of the resistance) but she had not yet arrived.

After the game my understanding was that Craig had to stop me from achieving my objectives and also had a bonus task of capturing any of my resistance leaders and/or the professor. He also had the possible use of armour from a nearby ' repair yard' but obviously there was no guarantee that the repairs had been successful ( I had no knowledge of this).
The first picture shows Le Clerc giving Yvette the photos. If one of them doesn't make it to the Lysander and 'Blighty' then at least the other will have a chance.

The first German turn saw an 81mm mortar team lob a speculative round in the direction of a Tanker lorry and French Camion. 'Chapeau' to the gunner as the round landed slap bang between both trucks, the blast igniting both of the fuel tanks of the soft skinned vehicles.
For record purposes the Tanker was full of Slurry for muck spreading and not fuel. Craig didn't't know that however and my first decoy was literally 'blown' whilst a team of 5 Partisans  concealed to the West of the tanker together with their  Leader Pierre Camembert (known as The Big Cheese) were covered in 'crap' as a result.

At the same time an Sdkfz 222 commanded by Lt Gruber headed East towards a hill south west of the farm. This resulted in a Red flag being waved from the rear of the farmhouse signalling a request for indirect fire on the hillcrest by a rocket team who were dug in in the farmyard . TO the North of the Farm a further Hanonag, Kubelwagen and infantry section moved East in a two pronged attack.

The indirect fire was delayed by a turn as the spotter raced from the front upstairs window of the farm to the rear before selecting one of the three pre determined flags ( in this case red bloomers belonging to the bedridden  'Muzzer' By the time the rocket was launched Gruber had crested the hill and was hurtling towards the farm at breakneck speed followed by an Ooel Blitz truck a motorcycle combination and an armoured personnel carrier. The rocket landed short, between the truck and Gruber - no damage. The only impact in this flying column was that the truck drove through the crater rather than around it letting the armoured car and much combo overtake it. Gruber raced ahead outstripping the rest of the column.

As Gruber burgled past a Boyes ATR team that was concealed at the South Eastern edge of the orchard opened fire but missed. Gruber returned fire suppressing the ATR team and carried heading East. Whilst he did so the mcy combo and the APC carrier approached the southern edge of the orchard. The Boyes opened up on the PAC and missed (again) and a  rifle team fired at the motorcycle combo forcing the rider and passenger to jump off the bike.

'Allo, Allo, London zees eez Nighthawk'

Game 3 is being played tomorrow. I haven't posted pictures of any recently finished figures in case Craig catches a look. All he knows is I have a Special Delivery' unit to use.

However I have managed to finish these Artizan Designs characters that 'draw inspiration' from the BBC Comedy Show, Allo Allo.  The intrepid  freedom fighters are Rene Artois his waitress Yvette and Michelle (of the Resistance) and the two RAF Aircrew Carstairs and Fairfax. These are not in any way 'secret' so a picture is attached. The whole show is full of extreme National Sterotypes, I particularly like the fact that Michelle is wearing bobby sox and sandals with the expected  trench coat. 

Behind them is A Lledo 'Model T' Tanker that has been re sprayed and painted. The scenario involves a Westland Lysander and a covert operation 'somewhere in Normandy'. The ad hoc rules we use are sometimes what really makes a game. For example this rule applies to the pilot of the Lysander.

Carruthers Teddy Bear

Carruthers has a lucky teddy bear that was given to him by Nanny prior to him leaving for Prep School. He carries Mr Woppit with him on every flight. Mr Woppit will give Carruthers a D3 bonus on landing/take off skill tests.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm - German Intelligence

This was the latest intelligence report sent to Craig regarding the next game

To intelligence liasion
From SD intelligence Dissemination Unit

We have received two seperate reports of a new French Underground Unit operating in your area. The unit is designated as "Poster Livraison Speciale de Bureau" nothing is known of their organisation or equipment but it is infered that they may be some form of clandestine sabotauge unit. All intelligence gained about the operations of this unit should be passed back for assessment.
Craig's reply made me laugh but I am not sure if I can post it on Blogger. The game is set for Saturday

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Game 3 -The Farm : Recce Photos

I have been sent these photos of the set up for The Farm.  The long edges are North and South and the French set up at the Eastern end of the table. Ted's instructions are that Les Francais can set up are anywhere within the Farm, the Farm Buildings and the Orchard.

The Germans set up up to 1 foot  in from the western edge in the hills. Infantry can be sent off table to outflank to the North and South but vehicles cannot.

The Lysander lands and takes off from the field along the south edge. The main issues here will be wind direction as the plane has to take off and land into the wind.  Either way I suspect I will have to either defend or at least suppress the northern end of the landing field whilst the plane takes off. Ideally I want wind coming from the West so that I don't have to defend the plane whilst I get my 'cargo' on board. At least if it has to take off heading West I have a chance of suppressing his troops that are over that way whilst the Lysander flies overhead.

Objectives are to get my scientist and the photos back to the UK. The Germans have to stop me. There will be secondary objectives but they are specific to each side and we don't know what they are yet. I can confirm that I have some rife armed resistance but am saying nothing more. Craig and Jo will have Germans paratroopers and vehicular support at the very least. What exactly I don't know but it would be surprising if  Lt Gruber's Sdkfz 222 was not seen taking the field again.

This is the 'Grey Ghost' Lysander that Ted has built. 

This is a view from the west of the Farmhouse with the orchard in front of it. The other farm buildings and yard are to the rear. The landing site for the Lysander is to the south on the right hand side of the farm as you look. The terrain tiles are 2 foot square

The Farmhouse and Orchard (French Golden Delicious apples obviously)

The outbuildings and farmyard. Surprisingly there is no model cesspit or dung heap but then again this is clearly an arable farm. Please take note of the dodgy wind direction gauge that will obviously conspire against me

View from the East. I will be defending from this end