Monday, 20 August 2018

1944 to 577

Back from the pub and fortified with steak pie and lasagne we got our troops ready for the third Bolt Action battle. A simple meeting engagement around the Chateau Wartone only this time I took the British and Matt the Germans. We both had four squads along with supports and two tanks, a Cromwell and Sherman V for me and a StuG III and PzIV for the bad guys, remember that poor medic.

The terrain due to the size of the well kept Chateau grounds was fairly open, unlike both the previous battles, so we both put down a tank to help control the approaches, the StuG half hidden behind the brasserie wall while my Cromwell settled down on the edge of a small orchard. I was unsure where to make my main attack in this game but halfway through my deployment I decided to make the left flank my main effort although I put the Sherman on the right to watch a road junction while leaving it free to fire into the centre of the battlefield should I wish.

Impressive Chateau and grounds.
As the game opened I managed to kill off the German mortar with machine gun fire, this only confirmed my intent to assault the left, seeing what was coming Matt started to bring in reserves around the brasserie. We both had some men on the opposite flank waiting for an opportunity to do something should it arise, but this part of the field was fairly quiet apart from the PzIV/Sherman duel as shells whizzed past or bounced off the vehicles. Fairly early the StuG put paid to my Cromwell, first disabling it then killing it, thankfully this was followed shortly after by the PzIV going up in smoke, back to evens Stevens with the armour.

There was a lot of German infantry around the brasserie by now but I did not want to move the Sherman out of hard cover and waste a shot in case the StuG got him, these two now duelled but again no one could make a kill. I only had a 2" mortar this time and he was miles away, as was my PIAT team. I had tried a quick rush on the building only to pull my troops out as Matt got there first, however I was starting to build up a good number of squads in the area and just needed some luck. I got my flamethrower up by having him sneak along a hedge then the wall of an outbuilding, this forced Matt to bring troops out of the building and into the yard, he missed a good opportunity of flank fire into one of my squads then paid the price as I got a really good round of shooting in.

The fight hots up around the brasserie.

I lost the flamethrower but the fear of it had opened up the defences, my boys piled in as the game came to an end, the Germans opposite my right began a run for the brasserie with my squad and the PIAT behind them but it was too late in the game for them to make a difference. I managed to claim a victory as I had taken out several of Matt's support units so he had lost more command dice than me. I had dropped one artillery barrage on the German mass around the brasserie but my spotter was off and it landed squarely on a family of harmless pigs in a nearby field. Again my sniper had a good game killing the German sniper and a few others.

It's all over.

Another good game which delivered more than it promised as the action around the brasserie became intense. For anyone interested as there has been a few comments elsewhere most of the buildings were from our mutual friend Colin at Charlie Foxtrot, the Chateau was Sarissa, the church Hovels, many of the fields and hedges The Last Valley (you have to catch him at a show) others were scratch built by Matt, like the churchyard. As we were playing in the Post Office we had several customers in on Saturday morning before we closed for the weekend and I had to warn Matt to stop being so nice and welcoming as they may expect this to continue once he had left.

Sunday, and I was on breakfast duty, fortified by a traditional full English we set off downstairs for the big event, a refight of Deorham 577AD. The Romano-British have an allied army of three kings from Bath, Cirencester and Gloucester (modern names) hoping to stop an invading army of Saxons from destroying their way of life and conquering the area, they line up on a ridge near a hill fort to deny the main road to the Saxons. The Saxon king Ceawilin and his son lead the Saxons and are determined to win loot and glory.
There was no finesse to this battle, Matt and his defenders (he lives in the area today) locked shields and decided to remain on their ridge, so I had to move him off it. I had two plans, one was to concentrate on his extreme right and overwhelm it while at a couple of other points try and goad his mercenary warbands to leave the security of their line and charge downhill. The battle opened with some desultory shooting from the skirmishers and his own massed archers while I manoeuvred to hit his 'weak' point, the warbands stood their ground sadly, so I thought I would hit one of his lesser units with Ceawilin's son's bodyguard unit and maybe punch a hole that way, I also thought I might take out the unarmoured archers and send them packing in disorder back through their own lines.

Romano-British on the ridge, Saxons advancing.
Saxon army in all its glory.
Still looking good.

Now things began to unravel, instead of two units charging into the British line on my left one refused, leaving the Frank mercenaries at a big disadvantage and fighting two of the enemy, not the other way around. Cuthwine's hearthguard on my right now found themselves the target of masses of javelins and missiles and it was apparent they would not make it to the British line in a fit state to beat anyone, Shieldwall! The same things was happening to the men sent to see off the massed archers, these had got the range and my men fell like rain, but were determined to stick those bows somewhere and bravely struggled on.

"I thought there was more of us" said the Frank Lord
At last almost the whole Saxon army is in melee.
It all goes wrong.
The Franks were beat but manfully stood their ground, at last in came their supports along with Ceawilin and his companions, they were up against the contingent of High King Farinmail himself and in true Dark Age fashion Ceawilin wanted him dead. A huge fight ensued and I got one opportunity to break the line, but it required a superhuman effort from my lads, sadly it did not happen and after that as bodies littered the ridge my men were only waiting for the inevitable. It came as the Brits dealt a crushing blow from which my boys could not recover, the army broke, at almost the same time sensing victory the rest of the British started to charge downhill, the Saxons fled, even the archers managed to stand up to my warriors and after a quick look round their opponents also joined the mass rout.

The Romano-British advance in victory.

It was a debacle for the Saxons, I have only seen one other such disaster and thankfully it was me handing it out that time. An exciting and tense battle and just the fact that all the wee sojers were on the table made it a worthwhile exercise. We did sit and discuss the scenario at the end and concluded I might have been a bit rash using so many troops and having the armies equal, we came up with several suggestions on how to improve it should we ever play again as it is an excellent base for a battle. So that was it, another excellent full on wargaming weekend, due to commitments the next will be in October for me when I travel south to Rob Broom's WAC weekend in Bristol. What a great hobby.

During the morning we had a passer-by try the door, normally I would have ignored such an interruption but the guy looked genuinely interested so I opened up and he asked if he could look at the table, he then asked if he could bring his sons in to look. In almost twenty years of living in this village that is only the second time I have talked to someone who has shown a real interest in a wargame and he was only passing through, hopefully we have left a memory in the minds of his kids for the future.

A big thanks to Matt for braving the horrible roads and being a great opponent, and the missus for looking after us.


  1. George, yes the roads were terrible! Approx 16hrs in total. Grrr! Anyway... another pair of excellent games! In the BA game the pendulum of battle swung back and forth. Very exciting. As for Deorham 577AD, the RB kings only just held their lads (well, the 'hired' spears) back from charging downhill in to the oncoming Saxon horde. At one point your fellows came within a whisker of breaking the line, then I had that round of utter slaughter and your army broke. What a spectacle the whole battle was eh? Again my sincere thanks to you and your good lady for a great weekend.

    1. You can't beat a big game, glad you enjoyed the weekend.

  2. Two fine finales there.
    Your Dark Age forces look most impressive.

  3. Those are superb looking games. No wonder you got a look in from the public.

  4. Two grand looking games there George. You had a great weekend!

    1. It was David, plenty of excitement and great fun with lots of lovely toys.

  5. Beautiful pictures...and terrain!