Saturday, 16 February 2019

Kut Al Amara : Dec 1915 Scenario/ AAR

Christmas at Yarkshire Gamer is Mesopotamia time, each year we try and get the WW1 in the East collection out and recreate the battles which occurred in modern day Iraq. So far we have followed the British and Empire Forces (most troops in the "British" army where actually from the Indian Sub Continent) up the river Tigris through various adventures up to the Battle of Ctesphion where they fell short of the glittering prize that is Bagdad. If you want to follow our previous Mesopotamian excursions click on the 28mm WW1 in the East tab on the right of this post.

Arabs in Turkish Service waiting for the signal to go over the top
Last year we refought the little known Action at Umm al Tubul which saw the British fighting off a Turkish force as they were falling back to the town of Kut. From there the Turkish holed up the Empire troops in a lengthy siege. I wanted to recreate the siege in some way and was reading the Official British History of the Campaign (Vol 2) when I stumbled across a short account of a Turkish attack on an ancient fort at the corner of Kit on Xmas Eve 1915, what a perfect setting for our own festive game.

Below is the map of the action, I used the top right of the sketch as the guide for our tabletop recreation.

Figures are 28mm rules are If The Lord Spares Us by toofatlardies.

And some pictures of our general table set up,

View across the table showing Turkish Trenches and troops waiting to enter the system
View from above the Turkish trenches looking towards the Fort
Queue in the Turkish trenches
View from the Fort looking towards the Turkish Lines
View from the Tigris to the Turkish position.
Historical Background 

The Turkish Force was now under command of the German General Von der Goltz and he had determined that Kut would be dealt with by way of a siege, trenches were dug and the general tedium of such warfare began.

There were still just over 9,000 Empire troops in the City and they would prove impossible to supply over the coming months. However there was one serious assault made during the 24th December into the early hours of Xmas Day.

The German Commander was away in Kermanshah at the time of the attack and you have to think that the Turkish Officers took advantage of this to enable the attack, while the Cats away !

Turkish Artillery 
The initial attack occurred around 11am and after a bombardment by the Turkish guns large sections of the mud brick fort walls had collapsed. Troops emerged from the trenches but after a hard fight the mixed Indian and Ox Bucks Lt Infantry defenders saw off the attack.

The afternoon was relatively quiet but at 8pm as the moon was rising behind the clouds the second attack and our game began.

Waiting for the Signal for the attack to begin.
Turkish Briefing Kut Al Amara

It’s 8pm on the 24th December 2015, an important day for some, but today it’s important for the Turkish Armed Forces.

Following the Battle at Ctesphion we have pushed the Empire troops back again and again. The Empire has stopped retreating and has decided to stand against us here at the ancient town of Kut Al Amara.

First wave approaches the wire, the orange markers signify damage
The German advisors have told us to sit back and lay siege to Kut however they are away from the area at the moment and this is our chance to show the Germans how good our troops are by storming forward. The area chosen for our attack is an ancient mud brick walled Fort on the North Eastern side of the town adjacent to the river.

An attack earlier in the day was repulsed but it is now 7.55pm and our troops are ready to attack again, the first wave goes over the top at 8pm.

The attack on the right stalls at the wire under heavy fire from the Fort.
Troops – for the first wave the two battalions that go over the top will have two cards in the deck and activate half the unit on each card. There are 4 waves to the attack, move each unit into position and when both units are in place they will go over the top, no delays.

You have 3 Battalions of Arabs in Turkish Service each with a 2 Fig HQ and 4 x 6 figure Company and 1 regular Turkish Infantry Battalion as above but with 8 figure companies in the right hand side of your trenches.

In the left side of the trenches there are 4 regular Turkish Infantry Battalions with 8 figure companies. All have 1 MG bases.

The MG bases for the front line units are set up in the trench and can support the attack, the other MG bases are at the rear of the battalions.

The next wave is ready as the casualties mount up on the first wave, still pinned down
On set up the first battalions are in the front line trench waiting to go over the top, the other battalions are in single file in communication trenches and each unit should take 5 or more turns to get into the front line depending on the luck of the draw with the cards.

Night – it is a dark moonlit night, all direct firing die is at a -2d6 modifier unless the target is lit by a flare.

Flares – each Art piece can fire 1 flare per turn with a -1d6 on any other firing or fire two flares and not fire normally. Pick spot at random, place yellow chit, roll 1d10 and random, flare covers 12”. Flares are removed on the drawing of the Artillery card. Units are visible if flare covers them or is 6” behind, no blinding.

Fort Walls – are mud brick, they are vulnerable to Artillery, 6 kills will knock down 1 6" section.

Barb Wire – Each section is 4pts strong and is impassable when un damaged. 2 pts damage and it becomes bad going. 1 Art kill or 1 Section stationary next to wire removes 1 pt. Counts as soft cover.

Turkish Artillery – must check comms if they want to change target / ammo, 2d6 8 or more to change.

Your Commander is classed as Young Turk - d6 – 1 command pips, 2 signal bases Your Turkish Infantry are Morale 2.

Tea old boy, Yarkshire of course.
British Briefing Kut Al Amara 

It’s 8pm on the 24th December 2015, the day before Xmas and one was hoping for a bit of peace on Earth but old Johnny Turk has different ideas. General Townsend has decided to stand against the Turks here at Kut Al Amara and await a relief column which is heading North from Basra.

You are in Command of an ancient mud brick walled Fort on the North Eastern side of the town adjacent to the river. An attack earlier in the day was repulsed but it is now 7.55pm and there is activity in the Turkish trenches.

British Officers oversee the Indian Troops on the Fort
Troops - the two battalions will have two cards in the deck and activate half the unit on each card.

You have one British Battalion the Ox Bucks Lt Infantry with a 2 Fig HQ and 4 x 8 Fig companies and an MG base, set up two companies and the MG in the trenches between the Fort and the river and two Companies by the Observation Tower.

There is also an Indian Battalion the 119th with the same organisation as the Ox Bucks but with an extra MG base set up in the Fort Walls and bastions.

You are Supported by 1 Artillery Base (4 dice), one Indian Mountain Gun (3 dice) and a Jam Jar chucker, all set up in the Fort.

British Signallers direct Artillery from the Observation Tower
Night – it is a dark moonlit night, all direct firing die is on a -2d6 modifier unless the target is lit by a flare.

Flares – each Art piece can fire 1 flare per turn with a -1d6 on any other firing or fire two flares. Pick spot at random, place yellow chit, roll 1d10 and random, flare covers 12”. Flares are removed on the drawing of the Artillery card. Units are visible if flare covers them or is 6” behind, no blinding. Your Jam Jar chucker will only fire flares.

Fort Walls – are mud brick, they are vulnerable to Artillery. You have dug a line of trenches behind them you are that confident of their strength.

Your Commander is classed as Eton - d6 command pips, 2 signal bases Your British Infantry are Morale 0, Your Indian Troops 2, you may raise your Indian to 1 if you split up a British section and have at least 2 British figures with an Indian Section.

Historical Result

A close run thing, the smoke and dust made targets hard to see even with the aid of flares. For nearly an hour the troops of both sides traded hand thrown bombs around the stockades and rubble of the Fort. Casualties were heavy on both sides and around 11pm a reinforcement of British Pioneers arrived just in time for the gallant Turkish attack to be halted. A third and final attack was made around 2.30 am but it didn't gain any momentum and the attack was called off. Estimates of Turkish losses are around 2,000 whilst the Empire troops lost 315.

As the second wave gets to the wire a breach opens in the wall, yellow marker is a flare
How did we get on 

From the pictures above you can see that the first wave especially on the Turkish right got bogged down under heavy fire, most of the damage done by the Machine Guns on the Fort Wall, the attack on the left fared a little better having the advantage of being further away and therefore under less effective fire.

The focus of the game changed when the breach in the wall occurred, the Empire had a real hole to fill ! Artillery fire drove the Indian defenders away from that section of the wall and the Oxfords who had split up a unit to boost Indian morale had to reconstitute it to plug the gap.

The Turkish attack gravitated towards the gap the British in their trenches were able to cause casualties on the Turks as they past their front but not enough to stop them.

Further bombardment from the Turkish Artillery brought down another section of wall and it looked like the Fort would fall.

But then some rather spectacular dice throwing and some fortunate unit activation wiped out a large portion of the 2nd Turkish wave as it tried to enter the Fort.

The Turkish Player had managed to get all their Mgs onto the trench line and the British Commander decided to withdraw to the inner line of defences in the Fort.

We played a couple more turns but the players decided that the game was done, the Turkish Troops had secured the outer layer of the Fort but felt that getting inside would not be practicable taking into account the number of casualties they would need to take to do so.

Personally I thought the game had a bit more in it, the British would soon have to make big choices about abandoning their trenches which would have released another line of attack for the Turks. The Turkish Artillery would be less effective inside the Fort and the accuracy of the British Artillery would increase. It would have been a close run thing. Unfortunately there had been a few cancellations of sessions due to short numbers and when a game has been on the table for a while it can be hard to keep it going.

So the Mesopotamia collection leaves the table for another year, next Xmas we will start on the attempts to break the siege.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

28mm Dog Tag Miniatures Italian WW2 Motorcycle Review

Sometimes it's worth waiting for a miniature to come along and anyone with a 28mm Italian WW2 Desert Force will have been waiting for some motorcycle borne troops to come along, we can thank Dog Tag Miniatures for answering our prayers.

A new company these were initially avaliable on Kickstarter but are now on general release, I ordered some before Xmas and thought it would be a good idea to put a review out there, having first built and painted one of the models. Link to their website below,

Above is a short video, looking at the content of one of the packs of models, whilst below is a discussion and still photos of the same topic.

Contents of the 5 man squad code.
Above is a photo of the 5 man squad which includes, 1 Moto Guzzi Motorcycle and 1 Sidecar Combo and 5 figures (both bikes two up and 1 in the sidecar).

The models are resin cast with very good detail, the figures come with a selection of seperate heads, some of the other packs have excess heads and there seems to be plenty of variation in the ones I recieved.

Detail on the models is excellent and they are well proportioned, they do however contain quite a bit of flash (as you can see from the photo), they are easy to clean up but I advise taking great care as the resin is quite soft and I can see it would be easy to accidentally chop off the wrong bit if you got a bit excited with the craft knife.

Contents of a Despatch Rider Code showing spare head
I have made up a couple and had no major problems other than the clean up, the handlebars are cast in metal and I recall reading somewhere that the part was too difficult to cast in resin so they went for a metal option.

Trike model, built awaiting paint
Above is an example of a complete model from the range. I wanted a 10 man squad so I bought, the 5 man unit and the Trike along with an additional Sidecar Combo and 2 Despatch Riders for just short of 60 pounds, there is a 10 man unit for £35 (10 men on 5 bikes all two up) but I wanted the different models even though they were more expensive.

Above is a short video of a completed model, I did one of the Sidecar Combos as an example, I will do a full post when the unit is complete however I have to say they painted up great. The faces are particularly nice and really suit my style of painting. There is a bit of a flash mark on the front of the Sidecar which I missed on my initial clean up but otherwise I am very happy with the result.

Above are some stills of the finished model to look at. All in all a great addition to any Italian Army of the period, just be careful when you clean the casts up. Recommended 👍

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A9 Cruiser Tanks for the Desert

It's been a while since I painted any tanks (not that I have enough yet, obviously 😂), I had a couple lined up for one of our forthcoming early War Op Compass Campaign games and decided to get them done in good time, added to that my ongoing assault on the Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge continues and this year there is a Toofatlardies  "What a Tanker!" Challenge and these would be reet for that.

The tanks themselves are 28mm scale from Warlord Games and as far as I know are the only examples of the A9 Cruiser Tank in this scale, sadly they don't do a desert version with sand guards and my modelling skills are too limited to make any, so let's pretend they fell off !

They are painted in the Caunter Scheme which was common in the early Desert battles and was designed to disrupt the shape of the vehicle rather than camouflage it. The paints are from AK Interactive who do a specific Caunter paint set, I have added some decals and a Tank Commander (to one vehicle). The lines are all hand painted, I really can't be bothered with masking and Airbrushes, it's just by eye till it looks good. There is a little bit of weathering, with some chipping and a wash in the recesses as well.

With a frontal "armour" of only 14mm it was vulnerable to an angry man with a pointy stick, if he had a decent run up. Just to make it better all the armour was virtually vertical and there were shot traps everywhere. Thankfully they were up against some equally poor Italian vehicles, by the time the Germans turned up with some proper tanks they had virtually all disappeared.

British tanks were named, often with the first letter of the name representing the Company they belonged too, so my A Company tanks are "Archer" (I am watching Enterprise at the moment so after the Captain) and "Amos" a classic name from the famous character from the Yarkshire TV Soap Emmerdale (when it were proper before t'plane crash).

These 2 will make a total of 4 A9 tanks which will be it for this particular model in my British Army, time to finish off the A10 Cruiser Tanks next, anice little deviation from the Italian Wars Project, I have some Italian Motorcycles to hopefully add to the WW2 Desert stuff soon. 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Stradiots and Swiss Polearm for Italian Wars Project

The Italian Wars Project cracked on again this week with the addition of a further two units to grace the Papal Army of the period.

First up is a 6 figure unit of 28mm bow armed Stradiots from Perry Miniatures. I have gone for a slightly muted pallet compared to the recent Gendarme but made sure that each figure had plenty of variation with ribbons on the horse furniture. The eagle eyed might even spot a Bradford City scarf 😎

The command stand is once again adorned by one of Petes Flags from eBay, this one from Pietro Duodi commander of the Venetian stradiots at the battle of Fornovo.

The figures are fantastic, I love the beards and the wicker hats, the detail on them make them so easy to paint. I will be adding another 6 figures to this unit in the next couple of weeks.

The other unit once again 28mm Perry Miniatures, is a 24 figure Polearm unit painted up in the colours of the Swiss Canton of Uri.

The flags were scanned off an article from an old gaming magazine which James Roach kindly donated to me last time we met, cheers James. I have done a touch of overpainting to create a bit of shade.

I have based these on my standard 60 x 50mm base for the period but have used 6 figures a base rather than the 8 per base I used for the pike, I have staggered the figures on the rear rank so that the are visible behind the front rank when looked at head on. I much prefer this to basing the ranks directly behind each other, it gives a much fuller look.

There was a query on my basing style in TMP 🙄, too much like a muddy field apparently, so there is a picture of some Tuscan fields below. It's all personal preference of course and I have used the same basing method for many many years and I am more than happy with it.

The collection rocks on further with more Gendarme, Command Bases and Artillery nearly done.