Friday, 4 November 2016

On the Saturday, ( a week ago already ....SIGH!) it was my turn to provide a scenario for the group. On previous years, they have always enjoyed a Colonial game using my Old Glory Brits of late 19th century vintage - a mixture of Khaki uniforms and the red coat/blue trousers of a slightly earlier vintage, so last year on the final day, our host requested a reprise of this period.

I immediately had the idea to stage two games, a morning one based in the Afghanistan of the 1879 war and an afternoon game over basically the same terrain, but updated to 2009 and the "current" conflict in Afghanistan.

The main reason for doing this was that I have invested a lot of time and some money on building up some 20mm forces for the latter conflict, plus using the guides on Makatashi Tea House to create some Afghan compounds using cork floor tiles and I have rarely had an opportunity to get them on the table!

In the first game, the scenario was that during a peaceful interlude in the fighting, the wife and daughters of the local British commander - Colonel effington - Pratt - had gone off with a faithful Sikh retainer to do a bit of "Thomas Cook ing" around the local town of Mujarak. Unfortunately due to some contrived and unspecified event, their horses had bolted and they were stranded in a building within the village. Their servant had been dispatched to summon help and the ladies had hunkered down to await the rescue force.

The Afghan commanders were told that the British were moving in force towards Mujarak - the reason was unknown - perhaps they wanted to take control of the bridge over the River Helmand? Whatever the reason, it was the duty of all true believers and Pashtuns to rally for a strike against the blasphemous infidels!

There were three players on the British side commanding respectively 2 units of Indian Cavalry, a company of Royal Marine Light Infantry and two mountain guns; 2 companies of Ghurka and 2 companies of Sikh infantry, plus a machine gun  and 2 companies of Indian infantry and 2 companies of British infantry and another MG.

On the Afghan side were four players with assorted commands - a lack of painted cavalry restricted the Afghans to a single mounted unit but the distances to be covered meant this did not really matter too much. Each command had four units and some were larger than the standard British five elements, so the Afghans certainly had the advantage of numbers, although a couple of their units were only sword unit even had a mountain gun purloined from the British - cheeky beggars!

Before the game commenced, I got he Brits to roll 1 D6 - on a 1 or 2, they would be able to choose which building the ladies were in, on a 3 or 4, the Afghans could choose and on 5 or 6 the umpire would choose a random building - they rolled a 5 and I then rolled a 6

As this indicated a building about 500mm from the table edge where one of the British commands had elected to arrive, I made a decision to relocate them to building 3, the mosque in the centre of the town. I did not reveal this decisi to the British  until after the conclusion of the game!

A view of Mujarak from the west, the British chose to enter from the north (right table edge as we look at it here

The "British" infantry command deploys down the road adjacent to buildings 5 and 6 (hence my decision to over rule the dice roll. In the background, the "Guides" cavalry are already scouting the town for the missing memsahibs.

The Afghans deploying from the south west , on the western side of the Helmand River

A general view of the Afghan advance form the South and south west of Mujarak - the Bengal Lancers can be seen in the top left of the picture

The British troops fan out to search the town

Bengal Lancers

The Afghan advance continues, on the western flank. The third British command deployed here, on the western side of the river and engaged this Afghan force in a fire fight. Eventually, the Afghan swordsmen emerged from the cover of the field and charged one unit of Ghurkas, but after a hard struggle they were repulsed. Their rifle fire however did cause one Sikh company into a forced withdrawal (ok it was a rout!)
The RMLI enter the Mosque - we were not so PC in 1879! Guides cavalry cover the road into town and to the right, the Bengal Lancers keep a wary eye on the advancing Afghans.

The solitary Afghan cavalry unit makes a bold (some might say suicidal) charge in column across the Helmand bridge to attack the second Indian mountain gun head on. As they came in, they received closing fire from the gun plus a company of Indian infantry deployed in the two story building adjacent to the bridge, and lost one base of their unit. In the ensuing melee, the Afghans initially held their own, but when a British company joined the melee for the second round of combat, they were defeated and pushed back across the bridge

Meanwhile, the bulk of the Afghan forces lined the far bank of the Helmand, whilst one bolder command crossed by the ford and spread out to the east, attempting to outflank the Bengal Lancers covering force

The ladies were located in the Mosque and one of the British companies moved up to exfiltrate them from harms way

A general view of the centre of the table midway through the game - the British are withdrawing with the rescued ladies whilst the Afghans begin to close on the town.From this point, the British aim was to disengage and retire with a little loss as possible - their primary aim had been achieved and they are not here to have a full on fight with the Afghans, who outnumbered them.

The Afghans to the west of the Helmand regroup to assault across the bridge as the defending British begin to retire

The Bengal Lancers withdraw, pursued by a horde of Afghans

The RMLI, due to their lack of horse, became the default rear guard for the British withdrawal, along with the mountain gun that had accompanied the lancers on the British right wing

The rest of the British force withdrew before the Afghan advance could contact them, but the British right wing looked in danger of being over whelmed. Three Afghan units, including the cavalry, charged the RMLI and gun crew. The crew fought back for one turn of melee, driving off the immediate attack, then spiked the gun and legged it.

The Afghans finally crossed the Helmand on the British left/centre, but the goose had flown and they had no one to fight

Final view of the game - gunners can be seen withdrawing behind the Marines. Despite the seemingly hopeless situation, the Marines fought off the last attack then were able to withdraw off the table edge in good order - full victory to the Brits!

"I say Sir, I do believe it is Mrs effington - Pratt and the Gels!"

The redoubtable memsahib and her four daughters - safe again!

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