Friday, July 1, 2016

A tough day at El Mughar

After driving the Turks out of Gaza, General Allenby continued to put pressure on the Turkish 7th Division in the hills to the north and north East. The hill villages were good defensive positions for the Turks, but Allenby was determined not to give them time to dig in and make them impregnable!

The 155th Brigade, holding the right flank of the 53rd Infantry Division, was ordered to advance with all haste. The Scots of the brigade had spent an uncomfortable night in Beshshit after the assault of the previous day. There was on;y one well and the Turks had partially destroyed it as they abandoned the position. Men and horses, alike, were thirsty. They had to push on for water.

Allenby had quickly reorganised the 155th brigade after it's successful assault of Beshshit the day before. They needed to push on to take the hill villages of El Mughar and Katrah -before the Turks had time to entrench. Anyway, both villages had better wells ... and the brigade needed water, and fast! In the last hour before dawn, the 155th moved down out of Beshshit to the edge of the Wadi Jamus - the line for where the assault would kick off.

The assault of the 155th Brigade begins in ernest. Kick off time is 05:00 with the first glint of dawn on the horizon.

... and on they marched in the first light of day!

Any element of surprise now lost, the pipers of the Royal Scottish Fusiliers rang out in the morning air despite the dry mouths all round!

A squadron of the Australian Light Horse galloped up to ensure a connection was maintained between the left flank of the 155th Brigade and the 5th Mounted Brigade to their left.

Turkish lancers sweep onto the plains hoping to neutralise the support being provided by the Australian Light Horse .

The British left found itself well in advance of the right flank due to delays caused by the broken ground of the Wadi Jamus. The order was given to press home the assault on El Mughar in the hope that the left flank would soon catch up.

British artillery registration was first rate during the initial assault. The town square of El Mughar screamed with HE and shrapnel that decimated the troops of the 20th Alay who were lining the cactus hedges.

Having scaled the slopes to El Mugha, the Royal Scots laid down heavy rifle fire against the remaining Turkish defenders.

After the initial lack of momentum for their assault, the ANZACs cornered the Turkish lancers behind El Mughar and put them to flight.

By mid morning, the British left closed on El Mughar despite scattered gun fire taking its toll. 

The ANZAC mounted infantry swept around the walls of El Mughar, putting the Turkish cavalry to flight (and a flighty bunch of 'Damned Sodomites' they were!). Withering fire from the Royal Scots cleared the village square. A Bolus of the 20th Alay had already routed - would the remnants be able to hold out in the mud huts to the rear of the village?

The morning had seen a successful assault on El Mughar, now the 155th Brigade tuned its attention to the stalled right flank. As the signallers of brigade HQ established contact, the order to advance and assault Katrah galvanised the battalion commander into action.

As the assault turns to Katrah in early afternoon, the concentration of Turkish defenders started to take a toll on the advancing British infantry.

The musketry of the Royal Scots Fusiliers had cleared El Mughar but the troops had lost the impetus to make the final assault on the village.

As the brigade's assault reaches it's high water mark, Turkish and British artillery began to take a heavy toll in the centre.

Katarrh held out all day without looking like falling.The concentration of troops would certainly have suffered had more British artillery support been available.

British casualties were heavy.

The casualty count for the Turks was likewise heavy. Notable was the loss of two Alay commanders and the routing of a Tabur from the 20th Alay.

The final capture of El Mughar and the failure of the assault on Katrah suggests the game concluded with a draw. With reinforcements, the British would surely take Katrah the next day, if the Turks didn't slip away or reinforce their position overnight.  Neither side can claim a strategic victory at this stage.

Mentioned in dispatches:

There were some units a that deserve special mention for gallantry and poltroonery. 

The Pasha Bashers of the 2nd Tabur of the 20th Alay. The 20th Alay was decimated in the defence of El Mughar but the 2nd Tabur held out in the mud huts until the village was lost. In the face of an earnest assault by the Royal Scots Fusiliers they still managed to charge out  behind a stone wall and wipe out an entire company of the attackers.

Was it poltroonery or was it incompetence? The elements of the 155th Brigade MG Company under Captain Harry Flashgun, never made it out of the marshland at the end of the Wadi Jamus beneath the British start line.

The 1/4 Kings Own Scottish Borderers deserve special mention and a smattering of VCs for their determined frontal assault on the hill village of Katrah. Having reached within 400 yards of the objective, the withering machine gun and rife fire from the 21st Alay halted their advance the battalion having suffered over 600 casualties. 

The Turkish 21st Alay inflicted serious damage on the British right and centre throughout the second half of the assault.  A special mention is deserved for the right flank of the Alay that was nearly wiped out on the south-western slopes of Katrah. They may have fallen like flies, but they took just as many with them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Four MiGs have just bounced your two Phantoms - what do you do now?

We are very fortunate to have a growing number of charity shops in our local area (sadly, also reflecting the levels of misfortune in our society). These present a treasure trove for the wargamer - loads of opportunities to pick up odds and ends that supplement terrain and other such goodness.

I always cast an eye over the games in the kids section just in case there is a classic to be had. Recently, I picked up a 'new in the box' copy of that classic Australian game of sheep stations - Squatter - for all of $5.

However, last Saturday I hit the jackpot. Sitting in a dark corner of the window display was a copy of Avalon Hill's Flight Leader: Game of Air to Air Jet Combat Tactics, 1950 to the Present (which in this case was 1986!).

Now, I'm not really a 'modern' air combat kind of guy - a copy of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, Ironclads, or Jutland would be the ultimate find (all of which I have owned years ago but foolishly divested myself of).

The price tag? $10! There was also a copy of the old 1976 Jedko Games classic - Field Marshall. $50 (a bit pricy for me). While I am firmly a miniatures gamer these days, every school holidays of my early teens (in the 1970s) would include a pilgrimage through the industrial parks south of Moorabbin Airport (Melbourne, Australia) to Jedko Games (in Fonceca St).
My best mate, Gary, and I (both dedicated warmers) would make the trek by bus to Moorabbin (with refreshment stops along the way) and then walk through the (then) almost post-apocalyptic industrial landscape to Jedko Games in a tiny backstreet. They were the Australian mail order distributer of every wargame under the sun - they had a little shop in the front of the warehouse. A few mad minutes spending our saved paper-round wages and then home to two weeks of school holiday gaming!
Board wargaming was the natural extension of my early years 'fighting' with 100s of Airfix soldiers and tanks in the back yard. But I 'moved on' in my late teens and sold the huge collection of games I had (I guess I sold them - I have no idea where they went).

So ... I walked by this 'blast from the past', not initially drawn to the subject matter of the game. A few hours later I was kicking myself. What was I thinking - $10! I could easily make more than that on-selling it. Especially if it is unpunched and in good conditions (the box looked good).

Then I started to think of all those classic Cold War scenarios of my youth: MiGs vs Mirages over Gaza, Argentinian A-4 Skyhawk's and Sea Harriers over Bomb Alley off the Falklands etc. ... OK, I was hooked!

It was a very wet weekend so I hoped that there would not be too much passing traffic and late on Sunday afternoon (as they were packing up) I managed to get back and left $10 lighter but with a good-as-new copy of Flight Leader (30 years old!) wedged under my arm.

I've not had time since to delve into the rules, but thought it would be fun to do an 'unboxing' of sorts. Some pictures follow ... enjoy the nostalgia!

Flight Leader (IMHO) ranks among the best cover art of the Avalon Hill Bookcase Games
The blurb on the box hints at an interesting game - 30 second per turn, playtime 30 mins to 3 hours, game design by a USAF fighter pilot, high solitaire playability! 
A d10 in a board game was pretty unusual in those days from my experience! The first glimpse suggested
the game was in good order.
Huzzah! Unpunched counters, all the components in good order. This has sat on a shelf and never been played. 
The introductory rules hint at an easy way into the game. You can add detail from the advanced rules
at your own pace, it seems.
Aircraft status cards - looks like plenty of room to add colour to the game here.
I quite like the old sillohuette images - has that plane spotter feel to it! Homing in on the Harriers in this shot! 
The Swedish Saab Viggen was designed with the "..ability for it to be operated from straight stretches of rural highways only 500 meters long; this was considered critical to reducing the vulnerability to attack in the event of a pre-emptive strike upon the nation through the dispersal of aircraft from established airbases to more austere improvised landing strips." Source:
Some of the the Eastern Bloc et al!
Loads of status counters!
... and then there was the map. Looks really nice for Europe and maybe Vietnam ... perhaps looses a little of the feel for encounters in the Middle east and Falklands. Still, a nice board by any standards.
Board detail.

Of course, the obligatory 'affix a stamp and return' card to get on the mailing list! Not an email address or URL in sight - love it. Also, who can forget General magazine!
That's it for the unboxing. Its probably obvious by now that it's not getting sold! I might even post a report of a game at some stage. Best $10 I've spent in some time!

Thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Battle of Elli - fleets completed

This weekend saw the Ottoman and Greek destroyers completed for the Battle of Elli (16th Dec. 1912). This completes both the Ottoman and Hellenic Navy fleets for this battle. This brings to a conclusion my first 1:2400 scratch building project.

The ships have been based with the intention of using Grand Fleets third edition rules particularly as the Grand Fleets: Tsar & Emperor scenario book has all the stats for this battle.

Part of the challenge ahead is to decide how - if at all - to incorporate the destroyers (both Greek and Ottoman) into the scenario. The Greek destroyers seem to have stayed out to the west of the action and the Ottoman destroyers and the Protected Cruiser Mecidiye clung to the Aegean coast near the Dardanelles.

Anyway, the main reason for the post is for some pictures - so here's the fleets conducting some initial maneuvers!
The Ottoman fleet sorties out from the Dardanelles.

The Ottoman destroyer division with the protected cruiser Mecidiye.

The Ottoman capital ships.

The Hellenic Navy's 'heavies' - the Georgics Averof and the old battleships Hydra, Spetsai and Psara.