In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Blandingshires at Grochstadt

A newly retired acquaintance said he'd like to come for a game and he'd never played either of the Two Fat Lardies WW2 rules. So after a bit of email discussion a date was set and I devised a scenario.

The objective for this game was two fold: introduce Don to I Ain't Been Shot Mum, and get some unplayed kit on the table. A straight forward set piece attack then. Late war, North West Europe, two understrength companies as the first wave of a battalion attack on a German defensive line. The two companies are supported by a troop of Churchill tanks, the battalions Wasps, a Churchill AVRE and a FOO. The British are hampered by the "Hesitant Troops" card but they do get "Heroic Leader" and "Rally".

The Germans have two understrength platoons, a pair of Pak40 AT guns, plenty of MG42s and entrenchments plus my new Brummbärs. The Germans are hampered by "Ammo shortage" and "Breakdown" but they get the "Bonus MG Fire".
View of the table from the German side
Artie crouched under a wet hedge with his company and surveyed the pile of rubble that the maps called Grochstadt. His friend from B Company came up beside him.

"All right, there Artie?"
"All right Bert. You?" Bert's company was to envelope Grochstadt from the right while he attacked from the front. They had tanks and flame throwing Wasp carriers, but he still didn't like it. The 4th Battalion, Blandingshire Fusiliers had lost a lot of men in Normandy and Holland. The companies were barely platoons.

"Righto, then. See you on the objective." Bert stuck out his hand. Artie shook it and they both repeated the Regimental cry "What ho, Blandingshires!" with a chuckle.

Bert disappeared into the predawn gloom to rejoin his company before the attack.

Artie checked his watch and looked to the platoons on his left and right. It was time. He waved everyone forward and they stepped off to cross another field.

First contact. Germans open up on 3 platoon
A company stalled at a line of bushes. Artie could hear smalls arms crackle to his right as B Company bumped the defenders lining the road. High velocity AT shot screamed over the Churchill tanks deploying from the woods.

Churchills advancing
Finally he got his men moving across the last field towards the still quiet town.

British attacking on town developing

A Company advances into the German MGs

German armoured support



Germans in the rubble
Where was the bloody artillery? His platoon on the far left started to go to ground in the middle of the field.
"C'mon! Keep going!" He waved them forward.
The young Lieutenant jumped up, waving his sten gun. "What ho Blandingshires!" he cried and charged forward. The rest of the platoon got up and followed straight into disaster.
As they neared the ruined town the rubble erupted with the sparks of small arms fire and the shredding paper sound of several German MGs.

2 Platoon about to get slaughtered
A vicious fight ensued but only a handful of the platoon came stumbling back dragging a few wounded with them.

Over to the right he could hear the sound of rifle and Bren fire answered by more MG42s.



A  big Churchill AVRE clanked up to try and blast the defenders out of their rubble.
1 Platoon presses the attack
With a whoosh and a godawful bang, a panzerschrek rocket roared out of the town and hit the big tank squarely, brewing it up.
Panzerschreck team brews up the AVRE
Their supporting armour started engaging some big German assault guns, with little effect to either side. Except they weren't supporting his remaining platoon trying to assault the town.

Churchills trade shots with the Brummbärs
Things were stalling, and his company was getting cut apart in front of the town. He grabbed the driver of his company HQ carrier. "Get up their and get the Bren on that fucking MG nest!" The corporal put the machine in gear and off it rattled, bullets pinging off it's sides. Soon the Bren gun was chattering away in answer. He then got his other platoon to press it's attack and after a vicious exchange of grenades and close range rifle fire they had a foot hold in the rubble.


More clanking behind him as the Wasps from the Carrier platoon finally got clear of the hedge.
"Where the hell have you been?"
He ran to each carrier, directing it's deadly flame onto the Pak nest and the MG42 nests that had caused him so much grief.
Wasps burn the Germans out of Grochstadt
Only a few Germans were left to surrender in shock or run away in terror.

And there's nothing left....
What remained of A Company dug in among the rubble and got a brew up started. B Company was still tangled up in the hedges along the road clearing the Germans out of  some trenches and bunkers. But C and D Company were coming up and the German SP guns were backing off covering the retreat of the surviving grenadiers.

God what a mess. Artie surveyed the damage as he positioned his men to defend the rubble. The Padre and the stretcher carriers were coming up searching for wounded and taking them back to the RAP. 3 Platoon had been pretty much wiped out on the far edge of Grochsadt, caught by fire from a bunker while trying to knock out a second German Pak. Good old Bertie had caught a bullet trying to cheer his lads on to the end.

Artie sat down on a broken wall, suddenly very tired. He fumbled with this pipe as his driver shoved a tin cup of tea into his hand.
"All right there, Sir?"
"All right, Herb. Cheers."

It was a pretty bloody game. 2 Platoon rushing into the German MGs without support or suppressive fires was devastating. The AVRE would've been great for blasting the Germans out of their defenses but a stalking Panzerschrek team got it's card first. The Wasps once they finally showed up were pretty devastating, which was good for the Blandingshires, as the attack was running out of steam.

It's been a few years since I played IABSM, so it was good to dust them off and play something bigger. I forgot a few things of course. I need to make markers to remind me that units are pinned or suppressed.

You'll also notice some clear plastic markers with unit labels on them. These are to remind the players which units are activated by which cards.

The Blandingshire Fusiliers are my fictitious British regiment from my Colonial gaming with the BGen Sir Percival Gronville Wooster, VC KCBE.

My friends running the British managed to have fun. Don would like to give the rules another try. My Churchills, Brummbars, Wasps and AVRE all got some game time. So objectives met.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leadership

Saw this on Facebbok recently.

It really resonates. My relationship with my Admin O at the Squadron is very much like Col Henry Blake and Radar on the old show M*A*S*H.

"What am I signing today, Radar?"
"Nothing you need to worry yourself about, sir."
"Okie dokie"
Working shifts I really can't be a micro-manager. I have to set the goals and let them get on with it. I try to put my staff in jobs they're good at and let them play to their strengths. So far it's mostly worked.

I'm really getting now the idea that when the unit does well it's the team that created success. But when things go pear shaped, that's on the Boss, because except in the most extreme instances, it's his fault if the wrong person was put in the job, or they were unprepared or he didn't give appropriate resources, assets, supervision and direction.

This makes me rethink a bit on the Great Captains of history. Hannibal, Frederick the Great, and company may have had the vision, but it was a lot of good staff work that put it into action.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lunch With the General

Last Remembrance Day after the parade, my Support Committee Chairman (a retired artillery major), comes up to me "I found an RO (Reviewing Officer) for the ACR (Annual Ceremonial Review)."

Usually a Cadet unit might get the local Fire or Police Chief, or if they have an affiliate regiment an officer from there. Or a senior officer who is somehow connected to the unit (friend of someone on staff, alumnus of the unit, etc.). Or the mayor even.

He takes me to meet a Brigadier General complete with Aide de Camp festooned in gold aiguillettes. I put on my best smile and try to hide the quivering in my intestines. The General grew up in Stratford and had decided to attend the parade with his old Regiment. The husband of my Support Committee Secretary had been his Commanding Officer back in the day, and his ADC had been a young Bombardier under the Chairman. So when asked if he'd like to inspect some cadets, he said he'd love to.

Now you can't just invite anyone to be your RO.

For a Senior Officer, say the CO of the local Reserve regiment, the invitation has to come from my Detachment Commander.

For a General Officer the invitation has to come from MY Commanding Officer, the LCol in command of Central Region. Needless to say, everybody in the chain of command between me and the LCol, has to look at it. I get many questions. Of course some units have been cheeky and thought it'd be great to invite some Royal personage until they're told that they are the ones covering any expenses.

Fast forward seven months. Our ACR is fast approaching. Every unit has to have an ACR. Just like the inspections of 18th century regiments, the aim is to demonstrate that I have been spending the Queen's money wisely and actually training a Cadet Squadron. Due to some glitches in the training plan we ended up with only 4 nights to practice. And the cadets haven't had a lot of practice marching. Then just as we're getting on the bus for last weekend's trip, my SWO (Squadron Warrant Officer -i.e. the parade commander) hobbles up on crutches to tell me that he has injured his knee in school and can't do drill. So the next candidate now has one night to learn the position and his replacement also only has one night!

Lesser men would throw up their hands in dismay. Or maybe just throw up. But Per Ardua Ad Astra as they say.

It's the Big Day. The cadets have practiced and are breaking to touch up boots and have some lunch. I put on my tunic and go to move my car so the General has a parking spot (there are only 4 parking spaces in front of our Victorian era Armoury). I step out the door and there's the Brigadier General resplendent in red tabbed glory with his Divisional Sergeant Major looking down the street to see where the restaurant is. Fortunately it's only a block away.

"I see you've found a parking space, sir" I say, throwing him a 'Big Five'.

But the General and his Sergeant Major are both thoroughly alright chaps and put me at ease. So my next major hurdles are the small talk and not getting my croque monsieur all over my tunic. Fortunately I was paying attention during napkins class.

After lunch the Cadets impressed all with a fine turnout. The General was quite game to pose for photos and spent quite some time talking to a Flight Corporal at the field craft display. He even told me a funny story about one of my predecessors. I offered to buy them a beer after the parade, but they needed to stop at the chocolatier across the street and be home for dinner. Even Brigadier Generals and Divisional Sergeant Majors​ have orders.


Presenting the Top Senior NCO Award