Saturday, May 11, 2013

Battle of Jasper Roads: Part 2

Welcome to the 80th follower of theis blog, Mike Gindling.  My thanks, and welcome aboard!

Also to recent commentators.  You have been most generous in your remarks and observations.  To Gowan, thanks for pointing out a chronological glitch - an anachronism, in fact.

This is a picture of Admiral Gantheaume
Who once led a diplomatic mission to Rome.
The purpose of the visit was a mystery to some
who wondered why on earth he had come;
But there was no mystery at all to many,
knowing that of purpose the trip had not any;
And the enigma had already been solved to most,
who suspected that the mission had no purpose to boast.
Having paid his respects to the Bishop of Rome,
Admiral Gantheaume led his mission back home.
Despite some very helpful suggestions of several commentators - all good ideas - I shall acknowledge the error.  Wireless was not invented in 1877, though wire-tapping definitely had been.  I'll attribute the confusion to the rather beguiling but bewildered historiographer, J. Eccleston ffforbes-Mugglesworthy, whose rattling fast-paced yarns are besprinkled - seasoned withal - with inaccuracy and error.  Not to mention downright lies.  That's my story, anyhow.
Azurian ships Ixolite and Xaviera bombarding Highestoft.
Shore guns' response hits Ixolite before being silenced.

The Narrative Resumes:
Suffice it to say, that long before the present outbreak of hostilities, the Ruberian Admiralty had set up a special Office - the Telecommunications Intelligence Gathering, Evaluation and Response Service (TIGERS) - with listening posts scattered  not only within Azuria, but throughout the whole of Europeia at large.  That the Azurian Troisieme Bureau (among others) might have achieved a similar establishment within their own telephone and telegraph networks seemed not to have occurred to Loncester bureaucrats.

Ruberian shore battery falls silent...

Now, it was the usual practice of the diligent Admiral Gantheaume to notify by telephone or telegraph, not only his ship captains, but also the Ministry of Marine where he would be found during the following night, whether aboard ship, or ashore.  Not wishing to draw attention to his  assumption of personal command of the raid he had reluctantly undertaken, he omitted this usual practice.  But his omission also to send any substitute message was not lost upon the listening TIGERS.  At once the Lords of the admiralty in Loncester were notified, the alerts sent to Rosyth and Scarper Flora, and the fleet put upon instant readiness.

Rear-Admiral Doughty's flagship, HMS Indefatigable leading
his squadron into action
Something was afoot, that much was certain.  Nothing, of course was heard from the Azurian Admiral for several hours, until the early hours of Wednesday morning the Admiralty telegraph receivers began a frantic chattering.  Highestoft was under fire from the sea.  An Azurian naval force, for sure.  The shore battery had responded vigorously but was soon silenced.  My Lords of the Admiralty could only wait, and hope that Doughty would arrive betimes at the scene.

Meanwhile, before its last gun was knocked out, the shore battery had put at least one effective shot aboard the Azurian squadron.  Gantheaume's temporary flagship, Ixolite had received a hit amidships that had started a fire.  The Admiral was inclined to think that if nothing worse happened, this raid might be termed a success.  It was a hope not to be realised.

The moment steam had been raised, Rear-Admiral Sir Desmond Doughty, in Indefatigable, put to sea in the early afternoon of 13 March 1877, together with Inflexible and Implacable, and set a course to the south east. The weather was, as usual at that time of the year squally with intermittent heavy rain and winds from the north east. As evening drew in, however, the breeze dropped as it veered right round to the south west, the sun burst through spectacularly on the western horizon, the skies cleared, and a moon well past its first quarter lit up the sea. Tarborough was passed without incident, as was Great Barmouth, here Doughty altered his course to the south. 

Still no sight nor sound of the enemy.  Were the TIGER boffins mistaken?

Shortly after 0400 hours, the lookouts reported flashes to the south by west. Highestoft! Of course! 
First salvos catch the Azurians by surprise.  Ixolite takes
further damage from HMS Implacable, her rear turret knocked out.

At once the crews were ordered to battle stations, as Doughty continued on a course due south.  He planned to be seaward of the enemy with full broadsides available before he opened fire. Just as the last Azurian broadsides were being fired into the town, Azurian lookouts were startled by rippling flashes seen on the horizon just north of east.  That they hadn't seen any other sign of the Ruberians approaching on such a clear moonlit night, had to be due to the sea haze that is always a feature of the Northern Sea. 
Gantheaume's bold yet desperate response, turning towards his enemy
The Ruberians' first  salvo was particularly effective.  One shell from HMS Implacable slammed into Ixolite's rear turret and knocked it out.  Gantheaume at once ordered a 90 degree course change to starboard, followed quickly after by another, to bring his course parallel to the Ruberians.  In so doing he was taking a fearful risk, but he dared not try any other measure that would place the more powerful Ruberian squadron between himself and home.  His fears had been realised: this had been one raid too many.  
Now on parallel courses.  Ixolite is in a bad way, but Xaviera
strikes Indefatigable amidships.
As the range shortened Ixolite and Xaviera both took hits, and the former was now left with no guns in action.  As the Azurians turned onto its southern course, Xaviera at last landed a hit upon Indefatigable.   All the same, it would have been a poor lookout for Gantheaume and his ships but for the piece of good fortune that saved him.  
Sea fog approaching from the south.
Gantheaume's salvation?
A thick sea fog had been developing in the south and was rapidly approaching the embattled squadrons.  The final salvoes from both sides were ineffective, before they both disappeared into the murk.  There the action ended.  Doughty altered course a few points to starboard to try and edge down upon the enemy's last known course; but Gantheaume had within a minute or two of entering the fog ordered a 90 degree turn to port.  Undetected in the white-out conditions, the Azurians passed behind the Ruberian squadron, and by the time the fog had dispersed with the breaking dawn, they were well over the eastern horizon.  Not wholly satisfied, Rear-Admiral Sir Desmond Doughty turned for home.  
Final salvos do damage to neither side.
The action draws to an inconclusive close.

The reaction of public opinion in Ruberia and Azuria were a study in contrasts.  Admiral Gantheame arrived home to a hero's welcome (much to his surprise), having destroyed an enemy shore battery, taken on a much more powerful enemy squadron and brought home his ships intact.  That his flagship Ixolite had been in a near sinking condition when she entered the port at Ville-Eglise served merely to add to his glory.

Ruberian response to the action proved quite the reverse.  Rear-Admiral Doughty came in for much criticism, and only his immensely high standing in public esteem saved him from a court martial.  As it was, a public inquiry led to the fall of Sir Winston Kirkridge as First Lord of the admiralty and of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Jno. Angler as Naval Commander in Chief.  That role was to be taken by Sir Jno. Jellibene, newly promoted to Admiral of the Red Squadron.

When the test would come, the new C-in-C would find the weight of public expectation heavy upon his shoulders.

This brief encounter was of course a little play test of my new '4 hits to sink' amendment of my one brain cell rule set earlier published.  All naval actions have some kind of time limit, of course, and I have decided upon reaching the edge of the board as a rather arbitrary form of conclusion.  As this action was fought on an area less than 2' square it was never going to be a long drawn-out affair!  Even so, The Azurians were very lucky to get off with both vessels...


  1. a very lucky man is that Admiral Gantheaume! he could have almost certainly not come out of that battle at all but yet not only has he lived to fight another day but he has also returned home with both his ships!

    a great little report. and once more we await the battles to come.

    1. All this is by way of a preamble to something rather larger and (I hope) a lot more interesting. The clue is, of course, in the title.

  2. Nice little action Ion. Well played for a one brain cell ruleset!

    1. I was interested to see how an unbalanced scenario would play out with the '4 hits to sink' rule. As it happened, shooting on both sides was pretty dismal, but I was not displeased to see 'Ixolite' get away. :-)

  3. I have been following these battle reports with great interest ... and love your simple 'one brain cell' naval wargame rules. In fact I hope to try them myself in the near future as they seem tio be even simpler and quicker to use than my own MOBAS rules.

    All the best,


  4. Thanks Bob.
    I have printed off a copy of your MOBAS rules, and I hope to use them - or something very like them - sometime soon with my 'Jono's World' navies.
    For this 19th Century project I wanted a really really ultra simple naval set to go with my really really ultra simple set for land battles. More on that aspect of the project later.

  5. So was this the action where Admiral Doughty acquired his nicknames of Old Doughy or Admiral Doughboy?

    Capital (sic) little game.

    1. Could be... His handling of his squadron was not what you'd call imaginative, especially when the fog came up. Perhaps he is becoming a little too protective of his reputation, leading to a certain 'stickiness' in action. People are finding a little dubious the tag 'When in doubt, send for Doughty!' As for his former patron, Sir Winston Kirkridge is finding the 20-minute cigars he favours are now lasting fifteen - ten, if Doughty's name is mentioned...

  6. This looks like it could be fun, well done Ion really looking forward to more.

    1. Just a way of wasting 10 minutes, Barry - No, seriously, I'm looking at a kind of grand strategic game in which one may fight out the battles in a limited space with limited resources. Broadly speaking, not all that dissimilar in effect from your konigskrieg/kriegspiel sort of set up you are using for your Lyndhurst Chronicles...

  7. Very nice AAR. Your narrative is, as always, excellent.
    And here is a useful site regards your other bigger ships -

    And it appears that Triang was manufacturing its ships in Hong Kong at some stage - I guess that's how your other fleet came into existence. Oh, it seems your carriers are Centaur Class - hope that helps!

    1. Thanks Brian. It confirms my long held suspicion that the vessel I couldn't identify was indeed one of the Iowa class. I'll have to check back what I have, whether I have Scharnhorst, Iowa/Missouri or both. I've identified them from the Hornby 1970s sets. As yet I haven't been able to determine whether they are complete knockoffs, or copies copied and rescaled before production. Some calculation might be in order to determine this.

      The Aircraft Carrier might have been the Bulwark - a similar design to Centaur, but about 100 feet shorter. The angled landing lines seem to confirm one of our conjectures.

      So far as the merchant vessels are concerned, I can't find anything on them. They don't seem to be emerging from my explorations of the Triang/Hornby catalogs.

      I suppose, though, a really good plan might be to hoik out the whole thing, take some piccies and post them on my blogspot. No doubt some readers will recognise these things!

      Finally, looking at what else these guys produce makes me wonder if the triang ships are compatible in scale and where I could get some destroyers and cruisers and things... Duh-rool!


    2. Oh - I got to look at the drains late this arvo. Fascinating. Not a good look, but: tree roots getting in everywhere... bummer.

    3. Brian - here's the link to the 'Mighty Armadas' posting 11 August 2012.
      I tried looking up 'Mighty Armadas' but as far as the images were concerned, got my own pics plus a whole deal of space opera stuff...