Wednesday 11 February 2015

Campaign Game 3 - The Crossroads

This is the background of the third of the seven scenarios of the Russian Invasion of the Colony of South Australia campaign game:

The sun shone bright as day broke on Friday the 22nd of August 1879 and it promised to be a fine and sunny day over the whole of the Colony of South Australia. The recently decamped Russian force was now ensconced securely within its beachhead based around the city of Henley Beach. Two armoured cruisers and the frigate from the invasion fleet had departed that morning in the darkness to take up station in the Great Australian Bight; it was planned that from there the frigate could dash back to Asia to wire a message to St Petersburg once news was received that complete success had been achieved. These vessels had been cleared for action in case any hostile ships were encountered their orders were to fight to the last for Mother Russia!

Ashore Lieutenant-General Lazarev meanwhile waited until noon before issuing the days operational orders to his units. The morning was spent sifting through intelligence reports and scanning the depressingly long list of men in the makeshift infirmaries on the beach, many soldiers had still not recovered from the infections that had decimated the battalions effective strengths on the cramped passage from Vladivostok.

At 2:00pm precisely the two monitors Admiral Spiridov and Admiral Chichagov started a bombardment of the city of Adelaide and the supposed positions of the South Australian militia units with their 9 inch main batteries. Huge fountains of dirt spiraled skyward indicating each massive shell arriving at its target. Despite the noise and impressive explosions the shelling caused no significant damage to either the city or the defenders and when it's ceased after a brief five minutes an eerie silence replaced the raucous din of action.

Just after 4:00pm in the afternoon the Russians launched company strength incursions from their beachhead toward the city and also Port Adelaide. These probes had the dual purpose of testing the defenses and securing important locations from which the main assaults would be launched. Some ‘high’ ground, really nothing more than high points on the rolling plains and several crucial crossroads were included in these objectives.

One of these intersections was where Henley Beach and Tapleys Hill Roads met and Russians led by Lieutenant Ourumov of the East Siberian combined battalion with Cossack scouts attached occupied the position meeting no resistance. Ourumov immediately ordered his troops to fortify the location. A hasty roadblock was created using the materials at hand and as night fell the Russians settled in as best they could.

This day for the first time since the Russians had arrived Lieutenant-Colonel Downes was caught out, he had spent the day busily organizing the volunteer rifle companies as they continued to concentrate in the parks near Adelaide’s West Terrace. He wished to defend the city along the line of Tapleys Hill Road so was dismayed in the evening when he was told the Russians had already breeched this line where Henley Beach Road crossed it.

That night Downes and his staff planned to recapture the crossroads so the defense line could be established as envisaged. Staff Officer Captain Darling personally ensured the Norwood Volunteer Rifle Company was deployed for a dawn attack and he impressed upon them the importance of their objective which was in Lieutenant-Colonel Downes very own  words to ‘drive the Russians back toward the coast and clear of Tapleys Hill Road’. The men from Norwood were eager for a fight and the tension was palpable when Lieutenant Harry Lime gave his men the order to attack, the ‘Huzzahs’ and crack of Martini-Henry fire signaled to all 'it was on'...

AAR and scenario forces, set up, special rules and victory conditions to come!

1 comment:

  1. ooh - cracking stuff. I look forward to seeing how the Norwood lads cope.