Archive for March, 2018

As we entered the main phase of the operation, Chris gave me a fairly open approach to reinforcements – so, concerned by the scale of the task, I called up more artillery, the Red God of War … indeed, I employed all the heavy artillery the front could muster.

(B3 Howitzers on the road up to Leningrad)

(Ski troops, supported by air, move around the frozen Northern flank)

The old front line gradually became a vast artillery park, ready to reduce the city.

(Gotterdammerung: the Red Army’s guns prepare to reduce Leningrad)

(a TB3 provides air support in the frozen North)

The Russians enjoyed almost complete air superiority for this campaign and it’s elderly supply fleet, reconaissance planes, as well as ground attack wings could operate virtually unchallenged.

Had the Germans put much into the air, they would have found daunting concentrations of ground AA …

(rail artillery defended by a light AA battery and searchlights)

Given these conditions it is perhaps unsurprising that the dive bombers were (finally) able to deliver a shattering attack on the Southern flank which had – until then – managed to hold up the advance on Oranienbaum.

(Heavy v Light dice for the dive bombers … n uncharacteristically hammer blow rich in sixes)

From the North East, the Ski troops were able to enter undefended areas evacuated under the heavy artillery bombardments …

… although stiffer resistance was maintained in the leafy Eastern suburbs and broken bridges slowed progress on the main line of advance.

(Leningrad NQM: Peter Pig Soviet Scouts making hard work of the garden suburbs)

Here’s a look at the situation as the Red Army retakes the city …

Despite stubborn success in some sectors, the German commander had recognised that the city had become untennable and began a pull out before getting cut off.  As the Germans raced for the roads, Russians flooded through the city and swept around the Southern flank …

(Motorised troops snake through Leningrad)

(Heavy resistance to the attempt to cut the road)

This was a race against time determined by local firefights.

(Trapped!  Or not?  … the fight for the line of retreat)

Tactically dominant, at the sharp end, the cavalry again proved unable to press their advantage (game note: bad dice, really ...) … and, beaten off by desperate firing, allowed too much to get away towards Oranienbaum and Kronstadt.

A doomed pocket had been left in the docks, and no more Germans were able to escape from Leningrad.

Final situation …

It was time to dismantle the game and put away the toys.

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Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 01

A couple of visits worthy of mention over the last few months …

Just before Christmas I was down at the National Army Museum in Chelsea – worthy of a blog entry in itself.

It’s a mixture of traditional exhibits from almost anywhere and anytime with more up-to-date and politically correct meditations on the nature and impact of conflict.

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And a timeline of the British Army, of course …

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Whilst I was there, in addition to the permanent collection, there was an fascinating exhibition of military art … tracking the history and themes through time.  Very much what I have been doing though much of it more modern than my current topics.

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Here’s a look at the detail in this massive and meticulous scene from the Raj …

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… and a classic example of lost commander pathos …

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These are scenes intended to convey the meaning and emotion of the event – not to be taken as a ‘photographic’ record of the event.

Waterloo Uncovered

For the toy soldier enthusiast, of course, one of the prime exhibits will always be Siborne’s Waterloo.

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… and, indeed, Waterloo was the purpose of my visit: TV’s Dr Tony Pollard (2 Men in a Trench; Nazi Megastructures etc.) is closely involved in Waterloo Uncovered – the archaeological project for combat veterans (follow the link) and had organised a meeting to launch/trial an idea for a massive wargame.

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Here’s me. the Perrys and a few others from the team trying out a conventionally sized wargame.

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… with obvious exceptions, most were not wargamers, so this was to see if reconstructing the battle with model soldiers would actually work for them as well as to kick off Tony’s dream of an impossibly big version.

You may well have read about this in WSS, but the plan is to recreate the battle as a Guinness Book of Records attempt at Glasgow University on the anniversary next year …

Delapre Abbey

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 14(a scene from the opening festivities at Delapre Abbey)

Finally a brief word on the progress at Delapre Abbey in Northampton.   It is mostly out of the P.B.Eye-Candy period but will go nicely with my Museums thread and is now open to the public.

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It is an immaculately refurbished country house on the original site of the nunnery beside which the battle of Northampton was fought – and features Battlefield Rooms in which I and colleagues at Northampton Battlefields Society were able to make an input.

Although there will inevitably be disappointments, a new battlefield interpretation facility is something to praise to the rafters – so here’s a brief look …

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The best book on the battle remains Mike’s volume published by the battlefields society.  You can get it from us at an event or at Amazon (perversely not from the Museum shop – which is a whole other story) …

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Apologies if WordPress mailed out the link before I completed the revisions – that happens sometimes.


The National Army Museum

Waterloo Uncovered

Delapre Abbey

Northampton Battlefields Society

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This is the first part on a big WWII Operational Game being fought out over a number of evenings mostly between myself and NQM’s Chris … I’ve titled it the retaking of Leningrad because that is what we must do.

It’s a long way to the Front but these wastes will fill with men and materiel as the operation evolves.

There is a lot of kit being directed at this task.

(First contact …)

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A little bit of PBI

Thanks to Will we were back on WWII and back on PBI but this time with his 20mm figures.

Quite an old school look, then, to this brave attempt by the French to hang on to a farmstead in the face of escalating German advances.

Will and Patrick took the Germans, ‘NQM Chris’ and I the French.

The Germans had a lot more automatic firepower than we did and slightly better tank support.  I doubted our 25mm Hotchkiss would stop them and expected to be overrun quite quickly.

(Patrick and Will deploy – withering fire and an assault seems iminent on our weak front)

We got some extra troops on sooner than the Germans and they had to swing left to help protect the Hotchkiss from an infantry attack.  Turret MGs proving sufficient for this as the Germans had already broken cover …

(Ooh la la … What a target mon ami!)

The Germans hastily responded but in doing so presented a perfect taget to the little French pop gun.

Rarely do I do ‘dice shots’ on P.B.Eyecandy but requiring 9 to hit, the French gunners excelled …

The remaining German troops on that flank (coutesy of maximum roll for action points) mounted an immediate grenade assault on the mixed French force.  They managed to strip away the infantry with preparatory shooting then trusted to their Manner gegen Panzer training.   It was messy.

(PBI: infantry assault armour … the red tokens are casualties)

It was heroic but ultimately failed.  As a game mechanism, they did get to roll more dice, but the vehicles get to roll to save (the foot do not): 2 hits a-piece, but the tanks saved one so the infantry are repulsed losing 2 stands.  The surviving stand was lost in the disengagement roll.

This, combined with a failed morale test on the other flank (after a mortar stonk) meant the German plan to wrap around the position had not worked.

They still had the means to mount a frontal attack.   But fresh French troops were now reinforcing the near empty position and the game clock was running down.

Against expectations, this hastily organised French position would hold on just a little longer.

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