Thursday, 7 January 2016

Battle of Es Sinn - 28 Sept 1915 - Scenario / AAR

WW1 Mesopotamian Campaign Action

Turkish troops desperately trying to fight off the Empire attack
Over the years WW1 in the East has been a bit of a staple for our Xmas game, we are slowly following the British Empire Troops during their adventures in Iraq during the Great War. There are at least another 12 battles we could do and that's before we try the Palestine Campaign, at one a year that takes us to 2028 just in time for my retirement!

Our last game "in theatre" was the Battle of Nasiriyeh and the figure collection got an unusual mid year outing for our Gallipoli game. All the figures except the irregular Arabs are from The Woodbine Design Company the Arabs coming from Artisan.

Rules are the excellent "If the Lord Spares Us" from toofatlardies.

Historical Background

The battle was part of the Empire Forces (I try and avoid British as most of the troops were Indian) push up the Tigris River, initially this was planned as a limited campaign to protect the oil pipeline at Abadan. However following the double success at Qurna and Nasiriyeh the British and Indian governments decided to use Es Sinn as a test of the Ottoman forces and the result of the battle would determine if a further advance to capture Baghdad was possible. The battle took place between Anglo-Indian forces of Indian Expeditionary Force D, under the command of Major-General Charles Townshend, and Ottoman forces commanded by Colonel Nureddin.

British troops from the Dorset Regards lead the attack
The engagement took place just south of the town of Kut-al-Amarah, along the banks of the Tigris River. Townshends plan was quite ambitious, he decided to only attack the right hand bank of the Tigris as he viewed it, a small force of two battalions was placed on the left bank to demonstrate against the Turks whilst the main force was split into three columns, one under Fry with 4 battalions was to attack the trenches closest to the river whilst Delamain with 2 btns and some Sappers were to attack in the centre. Hoghton was to flank the Turkish position to the right with 6 btns. The whole thing was supported by gun boats on the Tigris and some Machine Guns mounted on carts with Hoghton.

Them Brits are a bit close, Sir
A night march is never an easy thing, in a featureless terrain it's nearly impossible, the planned dawn attack didn't materialise, one column got lost in a marsh and had to back track to get in position. The attacks eventually went in, the Turkish Troops were no match, mostly Arab conscripts who were already demoralised from previous defeats, they were ousted from the trenches as the Empire Troops carried the day. The Cavalry that had been sent to the rear of the Turks failed to engage the retreating Army and Nureddin was able to set up another line of defence at Ctesiphon (Xmas 2016 ?)

No point pointing over there, they're behind you (oh no their not!)
Scenario notes

The battles of the Mesopotamian Campaign are often quite similar with the Turks in trenches either side of the river being attacked by Empire Forces so with that in mind I try and make each game slightly different. I decided to ignore the left bank completely and concentrate on the main action on the right.

In 28mm I just don't have all the stuff to recreate the entire battle added to that the Turkish position was about 4 miles long, that's a big table ! Therefore it was a case of reconstructing the battle as best I could with the troops I have. The main features of the battle are the marsh land which broke up the battlefield, the uncertainty of the timing of the arrival of the Empire Forces and the release of the British Artillery and Gunboats on the river.

Game Set Up

Table size is 12 x 6.

The River Tigris is at the top of the table and can only be used by Boats. There are two large marshes which split both the Turkish Defences and the attacking forces, a few small rises and some areas of broken ground.

Note the Turks had built trenches to the edge of the marsh however the marsh shrank hence the gap in the line something which Townshend had observed from his aerial recon and was no doubt crucial in his decision to send the majority of his forces on a flank march.

I'm over here !
Empire Forces Set Up

North of the central marsh

Brigade Command 4 Figs (Eton)
2nd Btn Norfolk Regt - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 10 Fig Coys Morale - Jolly Good Fellows (0)
110th Mahratta Lt Infantry - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale - Havildar Heroes (2)
2 x Mg bases

Immediately South of the central marsh

Brigade Command 4 Figs (Harrow)
2nd Btn Dorset Regt - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale - Jolly Good Fellows (0)
7th Gurkha Regt - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale - Diggers - 1
2 x Mg bases

Turkish Forces Set Up 

In the trenches opposite the Norfolks

1 Arab Turkish Btn - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 6 Fig Coys Morale Pasha Basher (3)  & 1 Mg

In the trenches opposite the Dorsets

1 Arab Turkish Btn - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 6 Fig Coys Morale Pasha Basher (3) & 1 Mg

In the buildings at the rear of the trenches

Brigade Command 4 Figs (Old Turk)
1 Arab Turkish Btn - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 6 Fig Coys Morale Pasha Basher  (3) and 1 Mg


For those of you who don't play ITLSU like most lardies games it has a card driven unit activation system. For our reinforcements the cards for off table units were placed in the game deck, when they were drawn out dice were rolled to see if they turned up, on a successful roll they arrived on the next turn of their card, if the roll was failed one was deducted from the score required next time. If the card came out after the Tea Break card it was classed as not having been drawn that turn.

Empire Forces Reinforcements (2d6 need 12 - 1 per attempt)

Hoghton Brigade (arrive as one on the bottom right of the table)
Brigade Command 4 Figs (Eton)
1st Btn Ox & Bucks - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale Jolly Good Fellows  (0)
22nd Punhabis - 2 Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale Havildar Heroes  (2)
1 x Mg mounted on a cart (we used an A/C)

British Artillery (once one is in play put the reinforcement card back in the deck and start from a 10)

Roll 1 D 6,
1-4 1 Artillery Battery mounted in a boat arrives at the base of the Tigris River, the Artillery will operate from the boat and cannot come ashore.
5 or 6 A gunboat arrives with 1 Mg and 1 3 die Artillery Piece.

Turkish Reinforcements (1d6 needing 6 - 1 per attempt)

2 x Turkish Artillery Batteries - add one at a time, put back in deck and start again for second battery, arrive in the village behind the trenches.

Marsh Arabs - 2 × Hq Figs and 2 x 8 Fig Coys Morale Damned Sods (4), arrive on the hill behind the Turkish left flank.

Once Hoghton arrives add a Turkish Infantry card to the deck, on each successful roll following a draw a Turkish Btn arrives in the top right of the table, this represents the Turkish realising that the main attack was on this side of the Tigris and shifting troops over the river (they had a bridge set up behind the lines for this). Replace the card in the deck and start the process again when a Btn arrives for a maximum of three. Each Btn has,

2 x Fig Hq and 4 x 8 Fig Coys Morale Johnny Turk.


Straight forward, Empire Forces need to clear the Turkish position, the Turks needs to hold it. Game length 24 turns.

Marsh Arabs looking for loot and a safe retreat route.
How did we get on

Well the best laid plans of Mice and Men etc ....

It all started to go wrong for the Turkish Troops on the first move, the card for Hoghton came out and the Empire Commander rolled a 12 ! So right from the start we, and I can say we as I was playing Turks!  (No Umpire bias here) were up against it.

It was always going to be a tough game from the Turks but it was looking really shaky now. Luckily, if you call it that, the Arabs arrived, if you are ever in a game where you are relying on Marsh Arabs to hold your flank you know it's not going well !

The initial assault on the trenches came in the centre and the Indian Btn was given a bloody nose, spending the rest of the game hiding in the palm trees by the marsh but that was the only joy the Turkish had all day.

With three Battalions attacking the open flank of trenches there simply wasn't enough firepower to stop them and it wasn't long before the Ox and Bucks boys had got into the redoubt at the end of the line. An assault by the Gurkha Regt on the line next to it rolled into the trenches and everyone knows that Gurkha's on your flank is a none habit forming situation.

Gurkha's on the flank, not Turkish Delight
The trenches closest the river didn't fair much better, the troops in the trenches had some poor luck with the cards and just couldn't control their suppression, a company fled in fear and left a gap which was all the encouragement the Norfolks needed and they were in the trenches. It was a close run thing though as the first regular Turkish battalion arrived just to late to get in position to stop the trenches loss, their attack was cut down and that was the end of the game.

Norfolks win the day
So it was over quicker than I thought, that's the joy of a bit of randomness in your scenarios. If Hoghton is delayed and the Empire Forces attack straight away before any support arrives the Turkish have a chance, sadly he turned up straight away and they didn't.

So the WW1 stuff is back in the box probably until next Xmas when we will have a cracking at Ctesiphon, I will probably add some more Indian Troops to the collection over the year.

Next up is my first game of Napoleonics for 15 years.

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