Thursday, May 24, 2018

Battle of Britain - Scenario 3 - May 18th 1940 – Vitry-en-Artois

This is the third scenario in a Battle of Britain campaign the follows the exploits of The Country of Dampshire 369 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force, a fictitious squadron that didn't exist during the Battle of Britain. We use the Wings of Glory WW2 rules, slightly modified to give faster play, together with out own set of campaign rules. We use the Wings of Glory planes from Ares where the right model is available, other manufactures are used to fill in the gaps.

The Background

In early September of 1939, two AAF squadrons flew Gloster Gladiators in France: The County of Durham 609 Squadron and the County of Surrey 615 Squadron. They reequipped with Hurricanes just in time for the German offensive.

On 18 May 1940, a Luftwaffe bombing raid destroyed many of the BEF's Gladiators and Hurricanes on the ground at Vitry-en-Artois, and airfield near the Pas-de-Calais.

It is possible that some of the British planes got off the ground in time to defend their airfield.



The Action

The first attack wave had destroyed many planes on the ground and caused chaos among the French ground troops but two brave British pilots ran through the chaos to the planes.

One Hurricane Mk I (Pilot Officer Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh) and one Gloster Gladiator (Pilot Officer Sir Price) got off the ground and climbed upwards from the smoke-filled airfield when they saw the second wave of Germans arriving.

One Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 (Oberleutnant Sepp Schlangenaugen) and one Dornier Do 17 (Oberleutnant Hans von und zu Missendorff) were heading towards the airfield, guided by the smoke from the damaged hangers.


Featherstonehaugh made a pass at the Dornier despite Schlangenaugen’s attempts to deflect him. The Dornier was damaged and Schlangenaugen’s engine started leaking oil. Sir Price’s Gladiator was slow and had problems catching the Germans.

The Dornier continued straight and level and dropped its bombload right in the middle of the one undamaged hanger destroying both it and the planes it contained. The Dornier jumped as the bombs fell and turned immediately for home. Hans von und zu Missendorff flying the Dornier had been concentrating too much on bombing the hanger giving Featherstonehaugh a chance to get on its tail. Featherstonehaugh’s eight machine-guns did enough damage so that the Dornier crash landed in a nearby field but a parting shot from the Dornier’s rear gunner hit the Hurricane which started smoking.

Featherstonehaugh decided his Hurricane had taken too much of a beating and turned away, limping back to his home base. Schlangenaugen too decided that his oil-leaking Messerschmitt had taken too much of a beating and dived out of combat. Sir Price remained circling above the wrecked and smoking airfield of Vitry-en-Artois in his slow and outdated but undamaged Gloster Gladiator.

Having greased his Dornier down in the field, Oberleutnant Hans von und zu Missendorff and his crew climbed out, shaken but otherwise unhurt. They were immediately captured by the local Gendarmerie and taken back to a nearby village. A few days later, a Panzer division heading for the coast rescued them from the French and returned them to their squadron.

Result

Draw - Germans bombed successfully but the British got one kill

Pilot Officer Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh: 1 kill

Notes

There are no Dornier 17 bombers in the Wings of Glory range so we used metal models of Dornier 17's from the Skytrex Action 200 range. Skytrex don't say what model and I had assumed it was the Z model which was used during the battle. Unfortunately it was the earlier model without the enlarged nose (looks to me like the E-1) it was used in the Spanish Civil War and even in the Polish campaign although by that time it was outnumbered by both the P and Z variants.

Battle of Britain - Scenario 2 - May 14th 1940 – The Meuse Bridges

This is the second scenario in a Battle of Britain campaign the follows the exploits of The Country of Dampshire 369 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force, a fictitious squadron that didn't exist during the Battle of Britain.. We use the Wings of Glory WW2 rules, slightly modified to give faster play, together with out own set of campaign rules. We use the Wings of Glory planes from Ares where the right model is available, other manufactures are used to fill in the gaps.

The Background

On 12 May, Sedan was captured. Situated on the east bank of the Meuse, it gave the Germans a base from which to capture the Meuse bridges. Once captured, the German divisions could then advance across the open and undefended French countryside beyond Sedan, and to the English Channel.

The French believed that the Germans would need to bring up artillery to support the crossing but were surprised when the Germans used the Luftwaffe as flying artillery. This, on top of their already low morale, caused the French to break.



Having captured the Meuse bridges, the Germans poured troops and panzers across the river. On 14 May the British air forces, the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) tried to destroy the bridges, and stop German reinforcements reaching the west bank.

The Action

Two Blenheim Mk I bombers (Pilot Officer John ”Banger” Walls and Pilot Officer Brett Sinclair) each carrying a 1,000lb bombload took off from a French airfield escorted by two Hurricane Mk I fighters (Flying Officer William ”Half Pint” Carruthers and Pilot Officer Emmett Hollingberry) and headed towards the bridges accross the Meuse River.

The bridges were protected by ack-ack and there was a standing patrol of two Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3s (Oberleutnant Freiherr C.G.Sommarlath and Leutnant Adolf Halland). The ack-ack guns opened fire which in turn alerted the fighters which heading towards the incoming planes.



The inexperienced Sommarlath led the fighters head-to-head with the Blenhiems and a lucky shot caused one of their engines to start smoking. The defending Hurricanes then pounched on the 109s and soon Sommarlath's engine was smoking too.

While the Hurricanes kept the 109s busy, the Blenhiems only had the ack-ack fire to woryy about, but this was surprisingly ineffective. They lined up with the bridge for their bomb run. Both planes bombed successfully and then immediately turned for home and dived away from the pursuing fighters. The Hurricanes didn't stick arround, but escorted the Blenhiems safely away.

Result

British Victory - Bridge bombed successfully

Notes

There are no Blenheim bombers in the Wings of Glory range so we used metal models of Blenheim IV's from the Skytrex Action 200 range

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Battle of Barrosa in 6mm - rematch

We decided to do a rematch of our first game of the Battle of Barrosa 5 March 1811. The first game was very close, so we decided to swap sides and see what happened.

Details of the background can be found in the first game, so I won't repeat them here.

The Battle of Barrosa has always interested me, and I have a print of it hanging on my wall.


The first French eagle to be captured by the British was taken by the 87th Regiment of Foot from the French 8th Line at Barrosa.

The first British Army soldier to touch the eagle was a young Irish officer, Ensign Edward Keogh, although as his hand grasped it, he was immediately shot through the heart and killed. He was supported by Sergeant Patrick Masterson, who grabbed the eagle from the French ensign who carried it, reputedly with the cry "Bejabbers boys, I have the cuckoo".

Masterson was rewarded with a battlefield commission and the Prince Regent bestowed on the regiment the title The Prince of Wales’s Own.

The eagle was taken back to Great Britain and put on display in the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, from where several years later it was stolen: it's fate is unknown. The original staff is still held in the Regimental Museum.

The Setup:

View of the battlefield showing the French to the left and the Allies to the right.


The Action:

Knowing the importance of Barrosa hill, the battle started by the Allies pushing forward their Spanish line and supporting them with the British Foot Guards. To protect their right flank, they also occupied Barrosa village. In the actual battle, it wasn't a village but a look-out post.


Just like in the previous battle, the French pushed forward their artillery in order to get a good line of sight on Barrosa hill. But this time they had learnt a lesson, and they supported the artillery with light infantry in the woods.


The French opened fire on the Spanish in Barrosa village, and they retreated with losses.


The British Foot Guards advanced and opened fire on the French causing casualties.


The French decided that just standing taking fire wasn't a good idea, so they performed a bayonet charge supported by artillery fire.


The bayonet charge was devastating; both the Spanish and the British Foot Guards lost heavily and the Spanish retreated expeditiously.


A second regiment of British Foot Guards arrived just in time to support the first and they both advanced on the French.


José de Lardizábal's Spanish infantry, opened a murderous fire on the French. One French unit was decimated, much to the surprise of all parties.


At the same time, the British artillery opened up on the French light infantry in the woods causing them to retreat with light casualties. However they didn't retreat far, so the still protected the flank of the French artillery.


The French didn't want to just stand and take the volley fire from the Foot Guards, so they charged one Food Guard regiment with support from the artillery, while the supporting infantry opened fire on the other Food Guard regiment.


The charging French infantry was wiped out, but both Foot Guard regiments lost heavily.


General Dilkes rode up and rallied the Foot Guards and brought up another British regiment in support.


The Foot Guards opened a devastating fire causing the French to retire with losses.


The fight for Barrosa village continued. The Spanish infantry took heavily losses from the French light infantry therein.


Meanwhile the Foot Guards on Barrosa hill continued with their withering fire on the French infantry.


The French light infantry in Barrosa village continued to skirmish and snipe at the Spanish causing them more casualties.



The Foot Guards charged...


...and the two regiments of French infantry in front of them just disintegrated. Meanwhile the French Grenadiers were approaching the hill in column of attack.


The two battalions of French Combined Grenadiers attacked the British infantry on the hill. The French were supported by a regiment of dragoons cantering up behind.


The French caused serious damage to the British regiments with only slight loss to themselves.


The battle for Barrosa hill continued, the British brought up some light cavalry to support the Guards and deter the French dragoons. However, General Dilkes was killed leading his men and the Foot Guards ceased to exist as a fighting force.


The French grenadiers overran the last remaining British infantry on the hill.


Realizing that they no longer had control of Barrosa hill, and that the French now threatened the coast road, General Graham ordered his troops to retire on Cádiz. The French in control of the field, claimed a victory.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Battle of Barrosa in 6mm

Refight of the Battle of Barrosa 5 March 1811, using Commands & Colors Napoleonic Rules. Figures from Baccus, hex terrain from Kallistra, houses from TBM, trees from Timecast and river homemade.

Background:

In early 1811, the French were engaged in a no-win siege against the Allies in the port of Cádiz. The French under Marshal Victor were not strong enough to reduce the port without a French sea blockade. After Soult drew off 8,000 of Victor’s men for his invasion of Extremadura, the Allies saw an opportunity to raise the French siege using their sea power to land 14,000 British, Spanish and Portuguese troops on the coast south of Cádiz. If Victor remained in his siege lines, he would be trapped between Cádiz and the relief force. If he chose to fight the relief force, it would give the Cádiz garrison the opportunity to sortie and destroy the siege lines.

Victor soon learned of the Allied approach. He hoped to ambush the Allied column as they advanced, but the Allies advanced in strength and Graham’s British division occupied Barrosa Ridge. Spanish General la Peña gave him a second opportunity, ordering the Spanish and British north now that communication had been established with Cádiz. A rearguard of several Spanish battalions remained on Barrosa Ridge.

Victor jumped at the opportunity and ordered Ruffin’s division to attack the ridge with Leval’s division advancing on his right. At the first sight of the French, the Spanish battalions bolted. Graham received news that the French were attacking and chose to disobey orders. While la Peña entrenched, Graham sent Dilkes’ Guards brigade to retake the ridge and Wheatley’s brigade to attack Leval. Dilkes’ brigade came into contact with Ruffin’s French battalions of infantry and grenadiers still advancing in column. The two forces engaged in a murderous firefight with British line firepower gaining the ascendancy. The gallant Ruffin was killed and his division retreated off the ridge. Meanwhile Wheatley’s brigade advanced against Leval’s division. Another firefight between a British line and French columns resulted in French defeat.

The Allies gave away the victory. Graham urged a new round of attacks to unhinge the French siege line – exactly what Victor feared would happen. General la Peña instead ordered a withdrawal back into Cádiz. Marshal Victor could not believe his good fortune and immediately re-established his siege lines. Other than confirming the valor of the soldiers on both sides, the battle had been a colossal waste of life.

The Setup:


View of the battlefield showing the Allies to the left and the French to the right.



The Action:

General Sir Thomas Graham decided to start the offensive on his right flank and take the important Barrosa ridge before it could be occupied by maréchal Victor's French troops..


Graham took the initiative and pushed forward José de Lardizábal's Spanish infantry to hold the town of Barrosa and at the same time brought up the British 1st and 3rd Foot Guards in support of the Spaniards.


The French counterattacked the Spanish in the town...



...but instead of a bayonet charge, they opted to open fire instead. The combined fusillade caused the Spanish to retreat from the town with losses.


At the same time, the French pushed forward their artillery to cover the ridge. The British 2nd Hussars advanced, but the threat was hidden from the artillery by the woods.



The French pushed their light infantry into the vacated town. However brisk fire from the ridge caused the French line infantry to retire.


The British light cavalry then charged the French artillery in their flank. Was this ordered by the General or was it just another impetuous charge by a cavalry colonel.


The cavalry charge should have been a brilliant success, but the French saw them just in time and could react with some of their guns. The fight was long and drawn out, the French took casualties but the British cavalry took even heavier losses and were forced back.


The French were exchanging fire with the Allies in the vicinity of Barrosa town. While this was going on, Graham took the chance to push forward his Spanish infantry and British 1st Foot Guards to take all of Barrosa ridge.


At the same time, General Dilkes at the head of his infantry, charged the artillery that had just repulsed the 2nd Hussars.


Seeing the infantry approaching, the French artillery withdrew from their exposed position back into the line of battle.


Having returned to the relative safety of their original position, both batteries then opened up on Dilkes' advancing infantry. Dilkes was killed and his troops decimated by the hail of cannon fire.


The 1st Foot Guards went on the attack from Barrosa ridge, causing the French casualties and they retreated.


However the French quickly rallied and brought up their grenadiers to support their counter-attack which inflicted casualties on both the 1st Foot Guards and the Spanish.


The British attack continued with the British 3rd Foot Guards joining the fray and the Spanish following on behind in support.


But not disheartened, the French counter-attacked with two units of grenadiers and one of line infantry performing a bayonet charge.


This bayonet charge resulted in a large number of casualties. The 3rd Foot Guards timed their volley perfectly, and decimated a unit of French grenadiers before they could get into melee.


Meanwhile in the centre of the battlefield, three companies of the 95th Rifles came out from the woods hoping to distract the French attackers.


The 95th miscalculated the aggressiveness of the French grenadiers who immediately charged.



The grenadiers caused the 95th to retreat hastily with serious casualties. At the same time, the French line infantry, supported by artillery fire, assaulted the Spanish on Barrosa ridge and routed them.


The colonel of the 3rd Foot Guards saw his chance, the French column was so engrossed with the routing Spaniards that they had left their flank wide open; the 3rd charged straight into the French flank.


Having seen off the 95th, the French grenadiers returned, supported by their artillery, to deal with the Foot Guards.


The grenadiers, with luck and supported by artillery, took the 3rd Foot Guards unaware and inflicted many casualties.


Both Foot Guards regiments charged like madmen; the 1st Guards attacked the grenadiers while the 3rd Guards went for the artillery. The Guards contacted and mayhem ensued.



When the combat was over, both sides were weak and exhausted but the French just a little more so than the Allies. The French decided to withdraw and leave the field to the British who claimed a victory.

Comment:

I am not sure how well this scenario reflects the actual battle, and one day I plan to write a scenario that reminds me more of the battle itself. However this scenario is fun to play and fairly well balanced.