Sunday, 10 October 2021

St. Nazaire

On March 28, 1942 British forces made a large raid on the harbour of St. Nazaire in France in order to put the large dry dock there out of commission, this was the only dock capable of taking the battleship Tirpitz or other large German warships and the loss would force them to return to home waters for repairs and hopefully be sunk by the Royal Navy on trying such a journey. The game was set up by Little Wars TV and shown on their YouTube channel, I decided to give it a try as it looked interesting and with a little effort I could manage to set the table up.


I only needed a couple of factory type buildings which I managed to get fairly cheap from eBay and some polystyrene sheets which again I found online for a decent price, they are normally used for packing boxes. I set them up and cut them out, I had to knock a foot off the back end as the original table was 8x6 while mine could take 8x5 but as things turned out this was not a problem.

 The big day came yesterday and hit a snag as one player couldn't make it, so I was left to command the German garrison and the reinforcements while Matt and Dan took the raiders, it was going to be interesting. The British have two major objectives which must be destroyed, the Pump House and Winding Hut, lesser objectives are two AA positions, the Officers Quarters and a nearby ammunition train (this substituted for the U-Boat in the basin which I had to dispense with), the commandos need four objectives for an outright win.

The British organised their forces and Matt took his teams to attack the main objectives, Dan would land on the other side of the harbour and cause as much mayhem as he could and attempt to draw the German reinforcements away from Matt. To begin with I had four small patrols roaming the area and a couple of MMG's set up on the eastern half with what I hoped were decent fields of fire. The commandos duly arrived and marched inland, Matt cautiously keeping out of the line of sight of the nearby 20mm AA gun between the two sides of the harbour, I now found that my MMG's did not have the range on the large table to bring Matt under fire nor did the AA have a clear shot. I did have two patrols in this area and the brave but scared conscripts who never expected to be under fire on the French coast moved to meet the raiders. Dan meanwhile pushed his men forward as fast as they could go and they huddled around the Cafe and the wall surrounding it while inching towards the Officers Quarters.

Matt's Commandos come ashore.

Dan's men rush forward.

The garrison attempt to stall the British.

The Winding Hut fell first after the Commandos had dealt with the AA gun on top of the building, they then engaged the two small patrols and wiped them out, Matt was now pushing further into the harbour while a demolition team made for the Pump House. Dan was now being engaged by the 88mm AA gun along with the 20mm and an MMG team, sadly however these guys had spent too much time enjoying the delights of an easy posting and were completely ineffective in their return fire. The German reinforcements were now turning up albeit it slowly and I sent one squad along to counter Matt with another two close behind them, the last two I kept on the west side with the intention of stopping Dan getting the Officers Quarters. The 88 crew were despatched and although I at last got a few good hits on the raiders here my own men were dropping like flies.

The useless 88.

The MMG crew hiding on the roof.

More of Matt's men arrive.

Dan taking moving on the Officers Quarters.

The regulars at last turn up despite losing a truck.

 In the east the British took a very aggressive stance and I was quite surprised by this being a shooty guy myself and I ended up on the back foot here while the Pump House was set with explosives, and the Winding Hut was ready to blow. With time getting on and only two turns left it was clear the British would get the two major objectives and the Officers Quarters, not four but near enough with the Germans in complete disarray. 

Trouble for the 88 crew.

Dan's command team.

The more than useless 20mm AA.

More Commandos move forward.

Survivors from the truck.

 On discussing the game later it became obvious that with the Demolition Teams only being able to move six inches the Ammo Train target and probably the 20mm AA gun could not be reached in the time available, it could also be a stretch for the second force of raiders to get to the 88mm. The game therefore needs to go to 10 turns rather than 8 or the Demo teams move as normal or a maximum of 9 inches if they Run, penalising them at Advance speed is a bit too harsh. The 88mm team had been cut down but the point is it has to be destroyed so I think this must remain the criteria for this target, again could the ammo train be blown up by weight of fire, no, as this is being substituted for the U-Boat and must be blown up with a demo charge. I hindered the 20mm AA gun somewhat by putting a large oil tank down as scatter, this drastically cut the LOS to Matt's team from that gun, having played the video again I shall look a bit closer at what terrain is actually in that area. Also in the video the charges are deemed to go off, I suspect these just explode in the move after they are laid and once the Demo team moves out of the way.

What can I moan about, well the inexperienced garrison were very easy to kill but I did not use my brain here and threw them at the enemy instead of holding them back until the regulars could reinforce them. My MMG's were badly placed and just to rub salt into the wound their shooting was abysmal, even the 20mm and 88mm when able to target Dan's men failed miserably, the latter getting only one hit before the crew died.

I will tweak the game and get another sorted because despite my miserable performance it was really good fun and a big thanks to Matt and Dan for coming along.


  1. What a smashing game! 😎

  2. George, despite some difficulties with scenario design which is easily fixed, you pulled off another marvelous looking game. After so much effort, repeat performances are required! Great job!

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Hopefully in a few weeks after some tweaks.

  3. Absolutely superb game George, and such a good narrative, right down to the placement of MGs. I haven't played a lot of Bolt Action, but this has certainly inspired. I had planned on using Rapid Fire for a scenario similar to this, but might need some consideration now.
    Great work again.

    1. Not sure you would like Bolt Action Darren. It is a very easy game until you hit 'stupid' then it is shake of the head time. You can easily engineer it to work better and it suits this kind of scenario and brings excitement. I seesaw between both the 'big' sets depending what kind of game I want but still hold out hope for something else. Thanks.

  4. Great AAR. Always a fascinating scenario to play out, with plenty of What If... moments.

    1. Thanks AJ, yes, looking forward to the next outing.

  5. The table looks fantastic. It is a fairly complicated so it is not surprising that it will take 2 or 3 run throughs to get the balance right

    1. Thanks, I do hope to get some mileage from this game.

  6. That is a grand game and no mistake. Rare to get the balance right first time, so having a return match a good idea!

  7. That is a splendid game there, one that will warrant plenty of revisits.

  8. Marvellous table/terrain for this one George. I really enjoyed those low down, close-up photos too.
    It's all too easy to get the movement/scale and number of turns misaligned and then realise half-way through that an objective is impossible. (Happened to me for a game of Eylau. We had to give l'Estocq a march rate or his troops would never make it!) The design of a good scenario takes time, planning and good dollop of testing, hey?
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James, I think even the original game would have required some tweaks after playing. Looking forward to making a better defence next time.