Sunday, 30 October 2011

Swanning Around at Swineford

Well it has been some time since I have been able to update my Blog. A combination of the Summer hols with the family and that damned thing called 'work' have been to blame. Fortunately a window of opportunity presented itself over the weekend, so despite being a little under the weather, I managed to get in a game of AVBCW.

The premise of this encounter was that the Army of the Severn Valley, loyal to Edward VII, having taken control of Bristol, was intent on pushing Eastwards towards Bath to secure their flank. The forces at their disposal consisted of the Kings German Legion and the Corpo de Spedizione Italiano.

The Kings German Legion (1st Jagerbataillon) force consisted of seasoned German 'volunteers',  all WWI veterans and members of the Freikorps. These 'volunteers' had been supplied with arms and equipment and transported in secret to the Avonmouth docks on the Severn Estuary. The force consisted of the following under the command of Colonel J F van der Decken:

1 x HQ (CV8)
9 x Infantry (Regulars)
3 x AT Rifle upgrades
3 x MGs
1 x 81mm Mortar

The Corpo de Spedizione Italiano (Italian Expeditionary Corps) had been offered to Edward VII as a gesture of support from one King, Victor Emmanuel, to another. In reality the offer had come from Mussolini and the King had merely been the front man. Mussolini hoped that by supporting the King, he could gain further influence in North and East Africa, an area of potential conflict with the British. The CSI was led by Console M Marino of the 7th Group of Banderas "Fiamme Nere" (Black Flames), which consisted of the  735th Bandera 'Implacabile', a Black Shirt Fascist Battalion, supported by the L3/35 tankettes of Major Lohengrin Giraud and a Staffel of the famed 'Condor Legion'.  The force consisted of the following:

1 x CO(CV9)
3 x Infantry (Militia)
1 x 75mm IG and tow
6 x L3/35 Tankettes

1 x HQ(CV7)
6x Infantry (Militia)
2 x MGs
1 x 81mm Mortar
3 x L3/35 Tankettes

1 x FAC (CV7)
1 x Bf-109E

Arrayed against this formidable force was the 3rd 'Bath' Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry of the Loyal Army of the South, with support from the Royal Horse Artillery. Hearing of the fall of Bristol to the above forces, the Bishop of Bath and Wells had put out an urgent call for support. The forces of the LAotS responded as quickly as they could and took up blocking positions astride the A431 at Swineford, a natural bottleneck of the Bristol to Bath road. The forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Flectcher Vane Esq and Captain Curruthers consisted of the following:

1 x CO (CV8)

1 x HQ (CV8)
9 x Infantry (Regulars)
2 x MGs
1 x 3" Mortar
1 x 25mm ATG
1 x Mk V Male Tank
2 x 18pdr Artillery Support Units

The scenario was loosely based around 'Breakthrough Attack' on p38 of BKC, with the objective of the AotSV of clearing the blocking troops from Swineford so that they could move on to more favourable positions nearer to Bath. For the LAotS, they had to hold onto Swineford for as long as possible.

Table Set Up

View of Swineford from Bristol

RHA with a commanding view of the Bristol to Bath road.

3rd 'Bath' Battalion astride the road.

Covering the ford on the Avon.

Turn 1
The 735th Bandera under Seniore Bruno Calzolari, made a quick advance along the road, whilst the van der Deckens KGL came down from the hills around Upton Cheyney to take the RHA and supporting units by suprise in the flank, leading to the loss of one gun. Console Marino ably supported this attack by quickly advancing towards the KGL.

Captain Curruthers was shaken by this sudden threat to the flank, but LC Fletcher Vane, late of the Bengal Lancers, was used to flank attacks from this sort after his time on the North West Frontier, and calmly took charge. Mortar and artillery fire destroyed units of the KGL whilst the 'Beast of Bodmin' moved to support te threatened flank.

735th Bandera advance

Tankettes and Armoured Car on the A431

Console Marino moves up to support the KGL

The 'Destruction of Sennacharib'

The KGL in action

Turn 2
Calzolari's mortar supports the KGL attack and the 735th continue to advance. The KGL finish off the last RHA gun under initiative fire, then move and fire to keep the 3rd 'Bath' Battalion heads down. Console Marino moves into line with Calzolari ready for the attack.

With the flank beginning to buckle under the attack from all sides, Captain Curruthers is not coping well with the situation. Once again Flecther Vane's cool head and experience shows as well directed mortar and fire from the 'Beasts' guns destroy and suppress more KGL units.

The KGL contesting the hill

Slowly clearing the hill

The CSI move up

Major Girauds tankettes with 'liberated' gun tow in background

Turn 3
The 'Condor Legion' Bf-109 arrvies to support the attack on the hill. A little local flak is enough to send him off course lsightly so that he bombs and strafes both sides! There is little movement as van der Decker and Console Marino dither as what is the best course of action.

Captain Curruthers has now taken control of himself and moved what troops he can into better positions. With the KGL behind the crest of the hill and the rest of the CSI out of sight, there is little for the 'Bath' boys to do.


Turn 4
Once again the Bf-109 returns and hits the same KGL troops, who by now are less than pleased with his accuracy. Despite this Blue-on-Blue, they continue to attack over the hill, only to be met by a hail of fire, suppressing some units and forcing others to run away. Calzolari troops, shaken by the fire and fury on the hill, choose to keep their heads down. However, Console Marino and his troops make the most of the fire on the hill to move up close to the edge of Swineford.

Captain Curruthers is definately not cool under fire and there are suspicions that he may be in league with the AotSV. However, Fletcher Van is coolness personified and more mortar and MkV tank gunfire continue to take their toll on the hard pressed KGL.

The bloody fight for the hill continues

Lining up for the attack

The threat from the flank

Ready for the off

Turn 5
With the 'Bath' Battalion firmly esconced in Swineford, the CSI struggle to do much damage to them, despite Console Marino doeing his best to motivate his troops.

Suspicions of Curruthers being in league with the enemy are swiftly removed as his troops poor fire into the KGL, killing and suppressing many units. More fire from the 'Beast' suppresses the CSI infantry gun, the only major threat to it.

Turn 6
Seniore Calzolari orders his troops to assault the 'Beast', but the attack is easily repulsed. Van der Decken decides that discretion is the better part of valour and moves his troops back behind the brow of the hill to avoid the fire coming from Swineford. Console Marino orders the tankettes to make a dash through the gap in the wall in full view of the 'Beast' and the now redployed AT gun. Taking the 'Beast' and AT gun by suprise, they all make the gap bar one that is suppressed.

Fletcher Vane orders the 'Beast' and AT gun to pour fire into the exposed lanks of the tankettes. Despite 3 rounds of rapid fire, only one tankette is destroyed!

The tankettes make a run for it.

Despite such juicy targets, the 'Beast' and AT gun miss!

Turn 7
The tankettes wisely use their initiative to move out of the way of the line of fire. Calzolari's troops move up to get ready to assault into Swineford. Console Marino directs the fire with aplomb that leads to the 'Beast' and AT gun being destroyed, with Fletcher Vane being suppressed. 

Curruthers does his best with Fletcher Vane out of action, but the writing is on the wall. The 'Bath' Battalion are close to breaking point.

Death of the 'Beast'

Fletcher Vane is suppressed

Turn 8
The Bf-109 arrives again to add support to the final assault, but achieves litte due to the confines of the built up area of Swineford. Calzolaris troops assualt into Swineford, with mixed results, but the 'Bath' Battalion are now pass their breakpoint.

Fletcher Vane passes his break test on -2 to the die roll, but the game is really over as they are threatened on all sides. 

The net closes

"What plane?" "That plane!!!"


With the CSI closing in for the kill, Fletcher Van wisely decided to make a strategic withdrawl to preserve his forces for another battle. Despite the CSI winning, they had suffered equal losses to the 3rd 'Bath' battalion, especially the KGL that was a shadow of it's former self. So in the end I decided that it was an honourable draw.

Even though this was a quickly set up AVBCW game, I very much enjoyed it, as always. What I really need to do is come up with a more detailed background for all the forces and factions in and around the Bristol area that I live, similar to that done by Nik Harwood. So apart from trying to find tie to paint up more of my figures, I need to sort the background out.


Steve J.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hauptkampflinie San Serotonin

A couple of weeks ago, Christian and I agreed to try and get a game of BKCII in using his Americans against my Italians. After a bit of research, we settled on part of 'Operation Husky', the Allied invasion of Sicily. 

So on Friday, after a little siesta (well I was playing the Italians), I got everything pretty much set up before Christian arrived straight from work (frankly I don't recommend the Anglo-Saxon attitude to work). My wife kindly made us home made pizzas to keep us fortified for the forthcoming hostilities and so, suitably full, we retired to the dining room to commence battle. Scenario details were as follows:

The Battle for San Serotonin
With the successful breakout from the Gela bridgehead, Axis forces are performing fighting withdrawls to the Hauptkampflinie, the first line fo defence intended to slow down and then stop the Allied advance. Elements of the 28th Infantry Division Aosta and Battlegroup 'A' have reached the small village of San Serotonin and have taken up defensive positions as part of the Hauptkampflinie.
Logistic problems on the part of the American II Corps have prevented them from pursuing the retreating Axis forces as they would have liked. So with a build of men and materiel, they have planned a large scale attack to try and break through at San Serotonin so that they can outflank the defenders positions and push on.

Scenario 4: Deliberate Attack.
Attacker 3,000pts.
Defender 2,000pts.

Major objective: Take control of San Serotonin.
Minor objective: Cut off escape route for Axis forces.

Scenario Details:

The Defender may only take Hasty Defence options but may use the points available for Fixed defence, ie up to 500 pts on Hasty Defence rather than 200 pts. This is to reflect the speed of the Allied advance and the lack of time to construct pill boxes, dragons teeth etc.

No Naval support is available as the objective is too far inland.
Scheduled air support is limited to two attack only as per the rulebook, as most air support is protecting the supply routes and attacking the Italian mainland.
The rugged and mountainous foothills are inaccessible to all tanks, half-tracks and wheeled vehicles (this reflects the problems the Allies had throughout the Sicily campaign)

Any rivers are fordable at any point but troops count the edges of the river as linear terrain.

Table Set Up.
The Italians, remanents the 28th Infantry Division 'Aosta', set up on the right hand side of the picture, in and around San Serotonin, well dug-in behind minefields and barbed wire. A battalion of the 171st CCNN Legion was on the right hand flank, with a battalion of the 5th Infantry Regiment on the left. Elements of Battlegroup 'A' in the form of L3/35 tankettes and Semovente 47/32 formed a mobile reserve as well as supporting the CCNN Legion.
The Americans formed up on the left in a neat formation, ready to exploit gaps on either flank.

Starting positions 


Christians beautifully painted Americans.
A view of San Serotonin.
Turn 1
The Americans got off to a bad start, with an HQ blundering leaving the CO at -2 to his CV for this turn and the next. As a result, only the armour got moving on the American left flank.
For the Italians, mortar fire killed and MG unit and supressed two infantry stands. A good start.

The American armour on the move.

Amour moves on the left flank.

"That's a lot of tanks!"                                                                                      

Turn 2.
The American infantry and armour continue to advance, albeit slowly. 
Meanwhile, the Italian FAO, is having no luck as a blunder calls down fire upon his artillery units, which fortunately survive unscathed. The Italian commanders are still finishing off their lunches as no orders are issued.

Turn 3.
Communication difficulties continue to dog the Americans as some of the armour fails to cross the river and the infantry are in no-mans-land.
The Italian artillery wakes up and the FAO calls in a nice concentration of fire on the American infantry in the open, causing supression and destroying a towed AT gun.
American armour threaten the Italian right flank.
The effects of artillery fire.
Turn 4.
The Americans comms problems appear to have been sorted as things get moving on both flanks. However, the Sherman and Stuart tanks, despite pouring lots of fire into the CCNN Legion, fail to achieve anything.
The Italian FAO is having a bit of an up and down day. Once again he blunders, this time calling down fire on his own troops, the poor old CCNN Legion who have already been suffering at the hands of the American tanks.

The American armour threatens the Italian right flank.

Stuarts and AT guns set up to control bridge.

Infantry on the move.

The effects of the FAO's blunder.

Turn 5.
Initiative fire by the American tanks (31 die in all) only supresses one infantry gun. The American FAO calls down artillery fire that suppresses a lot of the Italian left flank. The infantry reach the river but the tanks fail their order. Maybe they are too busy re-stocking on ammo.

Initiative fire from the Semovente and ATG on the right flank brews up a Stuart. The FAO finally gets his act together, calling down fire on the infantry, killing two stands and an MG unit, supressing the others as well as the HQ unit. Mortar fire accounted for another infantry unit dead. 
The results of the American artillery.

The results of the Italian artillery.
 Turn 6.
With the American right flank effectively suppressed, only the tanks could do anything. Without any support, they could only fire at the dug-in CCNN Legion. Once again the IG survives a large number of die rolled against it. 

The Italian FAO is now playing a bit of a blinder. Not caring for his own safety, he once agains calls in a concentration of fire right in front of him, but survives by sheltering in a building. Once again, the remaining American infantry take cover and are suppressed.
Turn 7.
With little American infantry left, the chances of victory were remote. However, it's not over until the fat lady sings. Attempting to salvage some honour, the Sherman tanks finally destroy the CCNN Legions infantry gun. True to form, they died with their gun.
The Italian FAO, now with nochalant ease, called in more artillery, destroying a Stuart and infantry unit.
Ponte di lacrime
Burn Baby Burn.
At the end of Turn 7, the Americans had reached their breakpoint of 18. With no prospect of an American victory, we called it a day. Even though it was a somewhat one-sided battle in the end, it was still fun. 
Thoughts on the game are as follows:
  • We used the optional rule of auto-suppression for artillery. This felt completely right and nicely simulated the effect of keeping troops heads down, even when in trenches.
  • It was a game of quite a few blunders, but no double 1s which is most unusual. 
  • Even with the aid of Recce units boosting the CVs by 1 a lot of the time, the American just couldn't get going at critical points, even when rolling on 9s.
  • The Italian FAO played a blinder despite a somewhat shaky start. With a CV of 6, we were both amazed at how often he made his rolls, especially when the American were only one deviation die roll away.
  • The American blunder at the start threw Christian off his initial plan of attacking the weaker Italian left flank. The move to divide his forces, we both agreed, may have cost him the game.
  • The dug-in IG, AT gun and Semovente on the right flank were able to weather everything that the Americans could throw at them. They effectively nullified any threat to this flank.
Italian Heroes.

The Italian FAO, taken by a drunk propoganda photographer.


The IG took over 60 shots before succumbing!

The lone dug-in Semovente.

So, a nice evenings gaming (aided and abbetted by my sons Daleks at one point) with Christian and we are going to have a re-match at a future date to see if the Americans can gain their revenge.