Monday, 25 February 2019

A Blog Milestone & Martian Human Interaction...

Martian through his Intergalactic Translator,
"Oooo Goody an inhabitant of this planet, I must insist that you take me to your Leader!"...

I started this pretty niche Blog as a release for my Victorian Science Fiction and 1879 Alternate History interests thinking that two people would enjoy it, me and myself. Who'd have thought over the last five years it would garner any followers let alone 50,000 views (some of the views must be from real people!), certainly not me! Anyway now Captain Darling has more than those two followers and amazingly clocked up those 50,000 views!

So on this momentous occasion I'd like to thank all those who take their time to check out my musings!

THANK YOU!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Campaign Game 6 - The Big Gun!

This is the background of the sixth of the seven scenarios of a skirmish campaign covering a Russian Invasion of the Colony of South Australia in 1879, in this action both sides are advancing on the same objective and both are determined to be successful;

Russians of the 141st Infantry Regiments 4th Company man their newly constructed redoubt on Hill 15 Thursday August 28...

The Big Gun

Background

The East Siberian infantry rejoiced their victory over the Colonial South Australians after the capture of Hill 15 with resounding cheers but their celebrations and excitement were short lived as Staff Officer Captain Putin instructed them to down their weapons gather tools and fortify the high ground now in their possession.

While the soldiers toiled in blazing heat, naval personnel arrived from the fleet ships. These sailors were bringing up to the front one of the Imperial Russian Invasion forces secret weapons, a Gorloff gun. It was to be placed in a redoubt currently under construction on the  hill. This entrenchments location ensured that the rapid-fire machinegun maximised the high grounds fields of fire. The crew and ammunition supplies for the gun were not deployed immediately they would arrive once work on the fortifications were completed. The highly trained crewmen and munitions for the Gorloff gun were as valuable as the weapon itself so their deployment was not treated lightly by the Russian Staff.

The work on Hill 15 continued into the night and fresh European Infantry replaced the East Siberians early in the morning of Thursday August 28. Captain Putin remained in charge of the position so oversaw the relief of his attack force with the season men of the 141st Infantry regiments 4th Company. These men quickly picked up where the Siberians had left off, the redoubt must be ready for daybreak!

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As the sun set with bruised egos after their recent defeat the South Australians of the Unley and Norwood Volunteer Rifle Companies watched anxiously as the Russians moved their ‘rapid fire’ gun onto Bill’s Hill. Lieutenants Murray and Torrens were very concerned with the enemy’s progresses, they believed once the rapid-fire gun was entrenched on the heights above them it would be able to wreak havoc on much of the South Australians frontline that ran north to south in line with South Road. While the Officers considered their options a dashing Captain from Lieutenant-Colonel Downes staff arrived to write him a report for him on how the Russian attempt to capture the Hill had fared. It was Captain Darling. He was shocked to see the Russians in possession of the high ground and the dispirited defenders in their original dugouts. He discussed the situation with Murray and Torrens and quickly came to the same conclusion that the they had. He promptly ordered a counter attack had to be launched before the Russians completed fortifying the hilltop! Captain Darling was a man of action and seized the moment. His enthusiasm was contagious and morale of the militia was restored. Darling summoned reinforcements to help in the offensive and the nearby men from the Willunga Rifles eagerly rallied to his call to join with the surviving defenders of Bill’s Hill to form a storming party. The plan was laid out, while the Unley and Norwood Rifles would attack the hill from their South Road positions Darling himself would lead the Willunga Militia in a flanking movement to south of the Russians and take them in the flank, his keen eye has noticed a gully that would allow a discrete move to be carried through dead ground right under the invader’s eyes! The Willunga men would move off at 4:00am and the daring attack would commence some 15 minutes after daybreak. Pocket watches were synchronised and the Colonial Officers moved their troops to their jump off positions…

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Thursday August 28, the sun rose with a special brilliance in the clear and bright blue sky to announce the new day. Now bathed in sunlight Hill 15 was still, the Russians having completed their work during the darkness and only a handful of sentries were now on duty. The sleepy peace of the morning was broken by whistles and shouts which roused the Russians. His eyes bleary Captain Putin was awakened by one of the guards and rushed to see what the ruckus he could hear was all about. Russian soldiers were running back and forth in confusion as Putin looked about keenly while coming to terms with the events that were unfolding. The Colonials had rallied surprisingly quickly Putin thought and he could see them advancing from the east as he squinted into the sun. What was more of a concern to him was more Redcoats could be seen approaching Hill 15 from the south west! Where on earth had these Devils come from? He cursed under his breath and immediately issued the order for the hilltop garrison to stand to arms but before he could give any specific commands to his subordinates a bullet struck him! Staff Officer Captain Putin was dead before he hit the ground moments later and command of the defenders fell to the section leaders...

The stage was set, leaderless and surprised the Russians of the 141st Infantry Regiments 4th Company have to come to grips with freshly enthused South Australian Militia lead by a tiger, Captain Darling!

Next Time, some terrain stuff building a redoubt and a new Sarissa building...

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Hills Are For Heroes AAR

It's been a while but my 'The Russians are Coming Campaign' is back! This is the fifth scenario in the series and it pits both sides against each other in a meeting engagement. Enough said I hope you enjoy the AAR for 'Hills are for Heroes!'...

The Russians, led by Staff Officer Captain Putin are surprised as they see Colonials loom into view on the 'unoccupied' hill...

The History

Wednesday August 27 1879

Captain Putin flipped open the cover of his pocket watch and grimaced, the strain on his face showed as he watched the seconds tick by and noon approach. It was hot, his orders were vague and no attempt had been made to reconnoiter the area surrounding his objective. He was about to step into the unknown! He blew his whistle at exactly noon and his detachment rose as one with him and in open order they moved out toward 'Hill15'.

Lieutenants Murray and Torrens heard a faint whistle in the distance as they ushered their militia from the Norwood and Unley Volunteer Rifles forward. They had been ordered to capture a slight rise known as 'Bill's Hill'. Locals had approached them earlier in the day and  had informed them that Ruskies had been seen in the area to the west of the hill that morning. Bearing this in mind they drilled their men on deploying into line from march column several times. The sun was high in the sky and there was no wind, Lieutenant Murray quipped 'Perfect day for a picnic on yon hill me thinks!." Torrens replied with a board smile, "You're an idiot" and with that drew his revolver and they headed off.

The Siberian infantry and Russian seaman trudged forward for what seemed and eternity and as they began to negotiate the gentle slope they were surprised! At the crest of the hill in the brilliant sunlight a line of men in red appeared. The shimmering line of scarlet was then engulfed in smoke and the crack of gunfire abounded. "The Devils Mother!" cursed Putin as he heard screams of agony and saw some of his men crumple to the ground. Stunned the Russian troops return fire without awaiting orders. Their shooting was wild and scored no hits on the defenders. Captain Putin ordered his second line sections to advance and seek cover whilst screening those that had been shot up. He contemplated his options.

Sergeant Wakefield had always taken pride in his men's musketry prowess and they did him proud as their first volley hit several Russians. He could hear orders from Murray to keep up rapid fire and hold the crest so urged his men on in a booming voice!

Meanwhile as hot lead whizzed all around him Captain Putin seized Sergeant Korf by the shoulder and ordered him to flank the the left of the Colonial line. He roared, "Korf the fate of this operation is in your hands, get around these Devil's flank and make your Tsar proud!" He then formed his other three sections into line and prepare to cover Korf's move.

Several South Australians fell to Russian fire after they reorganised while the Colonial's own fire was becoming more ragged. What worried Lieutenants Murray and Torrens was that in just a short time their men had almost expended all of their ammunition, they both hoped their remaining rounds would be sufficient to finish the job...it was at this crucial point they both heard a great 'Huzzah!'. It was clearly audible over the musketry and signaled the Siberians on the Russian right charging the Norwood Volunteers. The militiamen fought fiercely but their well trained opponents were just too much and they suffered a heavy defeat and wavered.

Pushkin seeing the success of the attack by Korf urged his men on but it was too late the Colonials realising the day was not theirs decamped in good order their officers deciding discretion was the better part of valour. The Russians occupied Hill 15.

At 12:45pm silence reigned on Bill's Hill, Putin scanned the carnage and ordered an Imperial flag raised immediately he then commanded his men to dig in as these damned Colonials could return!

The AAR

Turns 1, 2 & 3
Both the South Australians and Russians entered the 'field of glory' and made a beeline to the hilltop, the Colonials entered in column formation whereas the Siberians came on in skirmish order. Covering ground more quickly than their opponents the Australians redeployed in line in their second action phase of turn 3 while ascending the hill.


Overall view of the battlefield, the hill well more of a mound really dominates the centre of the tabletop...

 The Colonial columns advance!

Deployed in skirmish order Captain Pushkin's men move forward...

Turn 4
The Australians winning the initiative gained the crest line of the hill and opened fire on the Siberian infantry and Russian sailors who were now in plain view. The extreme right section of the Australian line from the Unley Company commanded by Sgt. Wakefield scored an impressive 3 'kills' with their first volley. In response to the accurate Australian fire the Russians moved to take cover allowing them a level better 'protection" (i.e. they hit the dirt) they then fired on the Colonials albeit with little effect. The Russians passed their required moral checks easily.


The two sections of the Norwood Volunteers open up on the advancing Russians...

...they were quickly followed by the boys of the Unley Volunteer Rifles...


After Sgt. Kellers men took losses (bottom left) and they were leap-frogged by fresh men...the advantage of concentrated firepower as a result of the South Australian men being in line against the spread out Siberian infantry and Russian soldiers shows out in the overhead view...

Turn 5
Both sides exchanged volleys with the Russians getting the worst of it, their skirmish formation was not allowing them the same amount of firepower as the Australians in their lines and their casualties mounted. One Siberian section was reduced to less than half strength but with a Staff Officer on the table boosting force morale they passed their own morale roll comfortably.


The battle lines face off...

Turn 6
The Russians changed formation into line allowing them to pour more fire into their enemy and several Colonials were hit. But under pressure the Australians maintained their resolve despite losses and continued their fire taking out even more Russians. All units again survived their morale tests (only just in the case of one of Sgt. Wakefield's Section!). At this point both sides losses were even so victory could go either way.


Captain Pushkin gets his men into lines to contine the firefight on more equal terms...

Korf's section moving to the flank...

Overall view at the end of turn 6.

Turn 7
Again to reduce losses the Russians moved to 'take cover' and reloaded their weapons ready for the final turn. The Australian's fired again but accumulating casualties and a lack of ammunition were reducing the effectiveness of their volleys (they experience several weapons jamming and one even double jammed resulting in no fire for that figure for the rest of the game!).

Sgt.Korf's section right out to the left launch a last turn charge on the Colonials line.....


Turn 8
The South Australian's winning the initiative fired first hitting a couple of the Russian sailors.
In a final throw of the dice the Russians used three units to continue firing whilst their only intact section on their extreme right led by Sergeant Korf charged! The firing was particularly ineffective but their charge against a section of the Norwood Company proved spectacular! The trained Siberians even though at a disadvantage as they were downhill of the Colonials were far superior in the melee inflicting 3 casualties while taking only one loss, this result proved crucial as it gave the Russians a slim victory! Both sides suffered around 30% casualties, all a bit nasty!


Last turn and the Unley Company volunteers continue to stand up to the Siberian Regulars...

The two sides engage in a serious bit of 'biffo' on the left flank of the Colonial's line.. 


The fight goes in the favour of the Siberians...

Overview at the end of the game...

Victory Calculation;
Russians within 25cm of the objective 23
South Australians within 25cm of the objective 22

So despite their success the Russian aggressors are still trailing in the Campaign score 3 to 2 with two games remaining. 

Finally the Russians rolled a 2 for their 'Lieutenant-General Lazarev Heart Attack Roll' so he's still hanging in and there'll be no special morale rules in play for scenario six!

In summary this is a scenario 'idea' I've used many times with different rules in different era games featuring a central objective, a short time limit and a requirement to have as many living figures close to that objective at the games end. It normally ensures a lot of movement and combat. This game was played three times and this AAR is from the first game, the other two were quite boring with both side hovering on their side of the hill and the action occurring only in the last couple of turns. To negate the LOS obstacle, i.e. the hill it will need some tweaking giving one side more 'lesser' troops so there is incentive for the smaller but 'better' side to engage them as they will need to to reduce their numbers significantly for the last turn victory calculation. This will take out the option of both sides loitering until the very last turns.

Next time; hmmm once again I'm not sure...