Battle Reports

Battle Report 1 (11/21/00):

A misadventure in a far-flung theater of war - 1917

Situation:

This night's game was taken out of Charles Stewart Grant's excellent book "Scenarios for Wargames". I selected scenario #30 - Ambush (1) and deployed the terrain pretty much as described. The French Foreign Legion (Kevin), equipped with a brand new motorized lorry and armored car recently supplied by their British allies (ie, very recently assembled and painted by me AND specifically requested by the Kevin to be made part of this game) were to enter along the river road with the objective of getting both the lorry and a mule-drawn wagon across the bridge on the other edge of the table. Turks (well equipped by the Germans with Mauser rifles) and numerous fierce (if unreliable) Arab tribesmen lay in wait in the foothills along the road's meandering path. The crafty Turk (Terry) had a few other surprises under his fez as well.

Rules and game scale:

This was a 25mm game played on a 6' x 4' Geo-Hex grass mat and using scratch-built terrain. Any figure proxies (indicated by an 'ex-') we used for missing troop types or special rules are described inside parenthesis in the Orders of Battle.

We fought the battle using Larry Brom's original "Sword and the Flame rules. With a few modifications taken off the web and some informal house rules made-up on the spot when we realized nobody had any idea how armored cars and motorized lorries should function under TSATF. Which was just about the time the shooting began. <grin>

French Order of Battle:

Using our group's informal point system for "Sword and the Flame" the French had 20 points. The French commander (aka Kevin) brought his troops down the road and onto the table in the following marching order:

  • An armored car mounting a machine gun (class IV target) : 6 pts
  • A motor lorry w/ a machine gun (class III target, only fire if stationary): 2 pts
  • 20 Marine infantry (ex-British postal rifles from the Sudan war): 3 pts
  • 20 Sengalese infantry (ex-British Sudanese) w/ modern rifles: 3 pts
  • 20 French Foreign Legionnaires (FFL): 4 pts
  • A wagon drawn by two mules: 0 pts
  • A FFL machine gun w/ two crewmen: 2 pts

Turkish Order of Battle:

The Turks began with only 14 points worth of troops, but had the advantage of starting the game with all their units hidden. The Turkish commander (aka Terry) had the following units available to him:

  • 20 Turkish regulars armed w/ modern rifles: 3 pts
  • 40 Arab tribesmen (treated as dervish riflemen) in two units: 2 pts each
  • A Turkish artillery piece w/ 4 crew (ex-Egyptians): 4 pts
  • 20 German 'volunteers' w/ modern rifles: 3 pts.


Initial Deployment and Turn 1

Initial Deployment and Turn 1:

On turn 1 The French commander led his western advance onto the table with the armored car, followed by the motorized lorry, with the first unit of marine infantry lagging far behind the two vehicles. As the armored car neared the center of the board, it came under rifle fire from a unit of Arabs hidden in the center boulder field. French return fire from the armored vehicle as it sped along the road caused a few casualties among the rock-protected tribesmen, but taken out of action by the car's machine gun was the tribe's chief. The Turks otherwise kept silent and remained hidden.

Turn Two

Turn Two:

During the movement phase, another band of Arabs revealed themselves. The French commander countered by sending his leading unit of colonial marines and the newly arrived Sengalese laptots to face the tribesmen sniping from the rock fields to the north. He kept the marching Legionnaires on the road in reserve. Both French motorized vehicles made for the bridge with all haste, leaving their supporting infantry well behind. But neither the armored car or lorry's driver noticed the twenty Turkish regulars hidden in the dead ground between two hills. Who promptly came surging forward into action.

The fire phase saw a black card drawn first. The Turk decided to engage the armored car with his previously hidden artillery battery. The armored vehicle was considered a Class IV target but it's iron plates did little good - the battery scored four hits, resulting in the driver being killed outright and the hull being holed. As the armored car skidded to a stop, we determined that if the next card drawn was red, the vehicle would burst into flames. Black! The crew passed its morale test and engaged the advancing Turks with its machine gun.

The Turkish regulars concentrated their fire on the open-topped motorized lorry. Class III protection offered the driver little protection against the accurate fire of 18 mauser rifles. He slumped over the wheel dead while the truck skidded out-of-control, coming to a rest directly behind the disabled armored car.

The Arabs in the boulder piles and the other two French infantry banged away at each other, with a few casualties on each side but not enough to make anyone run away.

Turn Three

Turn Three:

The French commander tried to rush his Legionnaires forward into action. He also managed to get his machine gun up to support the Sengalese in their fire-fight with the Arabs threatening their force's flank. The Turk commander countered by continuing his regulars advance past the disabled armored vehicles and into range of the approaching Legionnaires. He also brought forth his final surprise - a unit of German 'volunteers' hidden in the far western boulder field who shook out into a firing line and closed with the smoking but still dangerous armored car.

The fire phase of turn 3 saw the Turks start off the carnage. The artillery battery continued to fire at the armored car - three hits but no damage. However the crewmen, stuck in an iron box with live ammo and plenty of fuel, had to pass an immediate morale check. The Frenchmen failed and the officer and remaining crewmen bailed out of the nearest available hatch, taking shelter behind their now abandoned car.

The battle had devolved into a general fire fight, with each unit targeting the nearest enemy unit to its front. No unit took enough casualties to cause any morale checks.

Turn Four:

The French commander finally got his Foreign Legion deployed into a firing line facing the Turkish regulars, who promptly went prone. The armored car crew made a mad dash for the undamaged motor lorry with the idea of commandeering it and trying to drive across the bridge. The Germans continued their advance to capture the disabled vehicles.

The firing phase began with the German's mauser fire knocking two crewmen off the lorry. The French officer managed a couple of ineffective shots from the truck's machine gun before throwing up his hands and marching off a prisoner.

The artillery battery fired over the prone Turkish regulars to batter the FFL (French Foreign Legion) while the Arab's rifles continued to whittle away at the other French infantry units. But both tribes were nearing the 50% casualty mark, as were the Colonial marines. Only the Sengalese, supported by the FFL machine gun, were outshooting their Turkish opponents.

The morale phase saw the Arabs facing the FFL machine gun finally fail their morale check and rout off the field, leaving the Sengalese unengaged.

Turn Five

Turn Five:

The Turkish commander rushed the Germans into supporting position behind the prone Turkish regulars while his artillery crew maneuver their gun to bring fire to protect the force's left flank. The French commander, not wanting to put his Sengalese into the artillery's field of fire, marched them into support of the now much-reduced colonial marines.

The fire phase witnessed a French disaster! Each of the four French units fired first but were only able to cause a total of one (1) casualty on their enemies. The Turks were not so generous. Turkish and German fire reduced the FFL to under 50% and the FFL machine gun also took a casualty from artillery fire.

Turn 6:

The French commander decided to risk a bayonet charge with his FFL and colonial marines - but forgot his legionnaires were fighting while prone and couldn't charge. So the colonial marines went in at the charge unsupported and promptly failed to roll high enough movement dice to come into contact with the Arab tribesmen still holding the boulder field.

Every available Turkish unit concentrated their fire on the unfortunate (and now upright) FFL, who bravely died to almost the last man. At which point the French commander gave up the fight and ordered the remnants of his force to retreat.

Aftermath:

The French lost 43 European or European-equipped infantry (including 19 out of 20 FFL) and two motorized fighting vehicles. The French commander (aka Kevin), when asked how it was to face modern European artillery and riflemen instead of spear and sword armed natives, replied that he didn't like it too very damn much. And that he much preferred machine-gunning wogs from a distance to actually being under shell fire himself.

The Turks lost 11 Turkish regulars, 3 Germans and numerous Arab tribesmen and captured two motorized vehicles. The Turkish commander (aka Terry), having been the unfortunate wog on numerous colonial battlefields in the recent past, felt that being the shooter was quite refreshing and rather invigorating. Especially when he made the armoured car go 'boom'.

German 'volunteers'

German 'volunteers' advance to capture the disabled French armoured vehicles. The effective Turkish artillery battery can be seen on the far hill.

French colonial marines

French colonial marines in a firefight with Turkish regulars and Arab tribesmen sniping from the rock pile.

French colonial marines

French colonial marines in a firefight with Turkish regulars and Arab tribesmen sniping from the rock pile.

Figure Notes:

All of the 25mm figures in the above photos were painted by me and are part of the collection of the unfortunate French Commander (aka Kevin). For those interested in such details, the figures used in the game were manufactured by the following companies:

  • The Foundry:

    Zanzibari Arabs (tribesmen) and some of the FFL.
  • Redoubt:

    Soudanese inf (Sengalese), Turkish artillery (Eqyptian), both mounted commanders, the two-mule wagon and some of the FFL.
  • Falcon:

    Turkish regulars.
  • Old Glory:

    British Zulu war inf (Colonial Marines).
  • Honorable Lead Boiler Suit Company:

    German African schutztruppen ('Volunteers').
  • Reviresco:

    1/72nd scale armoured vehicles.