Friday, November 29, 2019

Long Live the Revolution: The Capital City (2)

Early attacks by BARFist left flank.
This 'final' action of the Baluchistan Armed Revolutionary Front (BARF) offensive proved to be one of the most surprising of just about any table-top battle I have ever fought. The Government forces were well-prepared, their front protected by anti-tank obstacles and barbed wire entanglements, and a couple of field fortifications, one on the extreme left, protected by a minefield; two on the right. For all that, the Revolutionaries faced battle with considerable confidence.
25pr in action.  The Quad tractors in separate grid areas
for the moment to minimise potential damage from incoming.
 As before, this action was fought with Bob Cordery's Portable Wargames game system with some (very minor) amendments to suit my own set-up. The main one was to increase the movement allowance for armour, up one, to 2, 3 and 4 grid areas for heavy, medium and light armour respectively. As it happens, neither side had heavies; the Government with 3 medium tank (Sherman) squadrons, and the Revolutionaries with 1 medium (Grant) and 3 light (Stuarts). As usual, however, the BARF Commander, Colonel Peenut Buttahjars placed his faith upon his numerous and motivated infantry, all 3 battalions of which had been recently augmented by a fourth rifle company.
Overall view.  2nd Volunteers still on their start line.
The BARFists opened the ball, and began their advances in the left and centre. The limits of the activation systems rather mitigating against a general advance all along the line, the 2nd BARF Battalion stayed pretty much on its start line until the action elsewhere was well under way. Ordinarily, once part of the line becomes closely engaged (in which fights are 'automatic') the rest gets the chance to come forward. This was one action in which that didn't happen quite as expected.
Tanks of both sides becoming engaged.
The mortars beginning the action out of range, those of 1st Battalion were transported forward in their carriers until they could be brought to bear, then deployed.

Perhaps 3rd BARF Battalion, in the centre,  ought to done the same, rather than the riflemen boldly charging forward without their vital support. Ordered to attack the town directly, the battalion ran into a storm of machine-gun and rifle fire from two companies of 31st Kashinkari and a company and MG platoon of  22nd Punjanjoodi. Now, when attacking, I have been inclined to accept 'retreat' outcomes as 'SP losses' in order to maintain the momentum of the attack.  The city garrison companies were plying their weapons with uncanny accuracy, and very shortly drove back two of 3rd Battalion's companies, both reduced by half their strength.  To have accepted the third hit on each would have reduced their SP to 1 only. Although 4th Coy Revolutionary Rifles reached the Punjanjoodi machine gunners, they could make no headway.  Within a short time, the Revolutionary Rifles withered away, and fell back. Scant were the survivors at the end of the day, though it was not the end of 3rd Battalion's attack. 
For now, the city defence lines remained quite undented.
The BARFist main thrust was, of course, on the southern flank, carried out by 1st 'Sons of the Revolution' Rifles, and the four tank squadrons of 1st 'Scimitars of Revolution', supported by the 6-pounder anti-tank guns. The incoming fire from the Government defenders was not especially effectual, but a lucky early salvo from the 'Sons'' mortars dropped straight on to the fortified 2-pounder anti-tank position, halving their strength at once (ANY hit would cost the guns, as they had no means of retreating). It seemed a good augury of the outcome of the battle.
In response, Major-General Lord redford ordered up his own armour rather earlier than intended.  'C' Squadron took up hull-down positions along the crown of the ridge behind the front line, whilst 'A' Squadron deployed in the plain south of the feature, flanking it.  At once they began a brisk long range duel with the BARFist tanks. This rather irked the light Stuarts, as to obtain the range, they had to drive right up to the fortified positions. At one point the 2-pounders withstood five separate close assaults, by infantry and armour both, in a single turn, the BARFists unable to maintain contact, though losses were fairly light.  (This was phenomenal dice rolling by the 2pr guns, scoring hits against all five separate attacks, and forcing retreats each time.  I don't think any of 'hits' achieved caused actual loss to the BARFists, but it was worse.  It meant delay, and delay was very much in the Government interest!  Whether they closed again, or stood off and tried to destroy the guns by fire, it would have soaked up  BARFist 'activation' points in the subsequent turn, whilst the surviving guns continued taking pot shots at the enemy armour.)
The 2pr gun battery - half strength - has just seen off five
separate close assaults by infantry and armour.
This episode was a memorable one.  So determined to break through the AT gun position, as each 'retreat' result lit upon the assailants, they pulled back to make room for the next wave, rather than take the hit to remain in close contact. It might have worked.  It didn't - not at once, at any rate. Meanwhile the tank duel, 'C' Sqn, on the ridge, took some damage from the 6-pounders, and returned the favour by knocking out some portees.  (This was another of my modifications to the PW rule set, hits and damage being rolled for separately by portee and guns.  However, I had not yet decided whether portees at 1SP could transport AT guns at 2SP.  I'm inclined to think not, which would have meant the AT guns dismounting at full strength or taking the 1SP loss to stay mounted.  Be it noted, though, in an early PW set, transport units are just 1 SP.  Something to think about, maybe?)
2pr at last overrun, but 'A' Coy 31st Battalion hurry across
 to seal the breach.
The battle between 'A' Sqn Shermans against the Grants was beginning to tilt in favour of the former, the Grants already reduced by a third. At last, 'C' Company of the Sons of Revolution at last burst over the 2-pounder anti-tank position. There they were halted by 'B' Coy, 22nd Punjanjoodi in the outskirts of the town. The 3rd Revolutionary Rifles having been definitively repulsed in front of the town - their 4th Company being entirely destroyed achieving a single hit upon the Punjanjoodi MGs - Lord Redmond drew 'A' Coy of 31st Kashinkari out of the centre of the line, to bring it behind the Punjanjoodi companies, thence to counter-attack the lost gun position.
This left a gap in the town's front, but for the moment the BARFists were in no position to exploit it.  The 31st's MG platoon was in turn drawn out of their position (intended to flank any advance skirting the north the north side of the town) to fill the gap. If anything, that served to make the city defences stronger, at the slight cost of weakening the left flank line. By that time, however, the 2nd 'Volunteers' Battalion was largely committed towards the northeast corner of the town, a part of the Government line that the battalion's mortars could reach. 
Government troops are holding...!
The whole BARFist attack was fast becoming gummed up on the left.  Having burst into the anti-tank gun position, the infantry were struggling to break out.  Not even the arrival of 'B' Company to assist on their right flank ('A' Coy was attacking the railway station ('D' Coy, 3rd 'Rifles' having been finally repulsed) levered them forward.  The fact was, the defenders at this point outnumbered the attackers. Nor were the infantry in the not far distant field works any more inclined to yield their position, however determined the assaults.
2nd Battalion make their first advances.
The lull in the battle in the centre gave plenty of time for the 31st MG Platoon to occupy the position formerly held by 'A' Company. However fresh the 2nd Volunteers, the city defenders had taken few losses so far, and had the support of both 25-pounder batteries. So confident had Lord Redmond become, withal, that this part of the front would hold, he ordered 'A' Artillery Battery to limber up and move across to the south flank, the better to bring the revolutionaries there under fire.  It was still more than possible the BARFist Revolutionaries might break through on the south flank.

One 25pr battery limbering up to move off
and join the action on the south side.
Despite the already noticeable huge disparity in losses taken by both sides, the issue remained in doubt whilst at least two Revolutionary battalions, and their armour, still retained most of their strength. The tank duel forced back 'A' Squadron, and drove 'C' Sqn from the ridge.  Fortunately. 'B' Squadron had come up to occupy the defile between ridge and town.  There they were to hold back the enemy armour until the other squadrons could reorganise and reenter the fight.
Showing just how reduced 3rd battalion has become - just 5
rifle stands remaining out of 16.

Held up by barbed wire entanglements, 'B' Coy, 1st 'Sons' Battalion successfully negotiated the obstacle under fire, but found themselves faced not only by counterattacking Punjanjoodi Infantry in front, but also by MGs from the town. 'A' Company had simply melted away under the defensive fire. Having drawn upon themselves so much of the defenders' attention might have assisted 'C' Coy to the left, but they, too, were facing two-to-one odds. Further to the left, 'D' Coy were also making little progress against the fortified defenders.
Outnumbered Revolutionaries beginning to realise that
the town is to be denied them.
A final attempt by the remaining shreds of 3rd 'Rifles' Battalion was too feeble to help much, except to draw fire momentarily from the MGs still ensconced just south of the railway station. The 31st MG Platoon having entered the Government line astride the main street leading into the town, were ordered to return to their original position, when it seemed likely that the BARFists might mask the 31st 'B' Coy, and try to get by the undefended AT obstacles close by the town.  
2nd Battalion at last gets to attack...
However, the companies of 2nd 'Volunteer' Battalion seemed to be focusing their attention upon the 'B'/31st position.  Although doing some damage, their attack was destined never to be pushed home. It was too late.
Losses much too heavy; BARFists ae about ready to quit
now and try again another time.
For, late in the action, the BARFist losses, already severe, mounted at an alarming rate. Returning to the battle, the Shermans of 'A' Squadron finally knocked out the remainder of the Grants. Losses to 1st 'Sons' Battalion also became too heavy to promise any success on their front. The Revolutionary attacks, for some time promising imminent success, abruptly faded away. (Whilst checking the SP losses, I miscounted and thought the BARFist exhaustion point has been reached.  It hadn't, but was close enough.  It was really the disparity of damage taken that decided the battle.)  
End of the action.

It was an emphatic Government victory - the 'Miracle of Nawabisbad' it came to be known. The determination of the BARF forces to conquer the capital city may be inferred from the summary of losses:

Losses by BARF:

1st 'Sons of Revolution' Battalion - 9SP
2nd 'Volunteers' - 1SP
3rd 'Rifles' - 11SP
1st Armoured - 4SP [3SP from 'D' (Grant) Sqn, 1SP from 'B' (Stuart) Sqn]
Atni-tank - 1SP from portee mounts.

Total: 26SP (C.f. exhaustion point, -28SP)

Losses by Government:|

Tank Regiment: -1SP ['C' Sqn]
2pr AT: -2SP [destroyed and overrun]
22nd Battalion:  -2SP [ -1 MG Platoon; -1 'A' Coy]
31st Battalion: -1SP ['B' Coy].

Total: 6SP (that's right, SIX, c.f. exhaustion point at -19SP).

It was scarcely credible! How could that happen? The fact was the BARF dice rolling in this action was about as miserable as it had been pretty good during the campaign so far.  After a promising beginning, the mortar fire proved woefully ineffective against the protected Government defences, the BARF infantry could not break through, and the tanks could make no progress.  To what extent did the 14SP worth of defence works make?  Clearly some - quite a bit, probably.  This will have to be tested in the next action...

For all that it was so decisive for the protection of the capital, it was a negative victory in the sense that the Government had merely held off a determined attack. (Had I continued the fight, I have no doubt the BARFists would have extracted their troops with little further loss, and the Government might well have been held up by their own defences). The Revolution was still at large, popular enough to represent a clear and present danger, and therefore to be put down for good and all.

Disappointed in his ambitious hopes, Colonel Peenut Buttahjars brought his troops back to Maibad Station.  There he would await the counter-attack he could trust the Government forces to mount.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Long Live the Revolution: The Capital City

Early Revolutionary moves, developing rapidly on the left.
Already, though, the 3rd Revolutionary Rifles have taken some

Upon a tide of unbroken success, the Revolutionary army, growing in size all the while, closed in upon the greatest prize of all, the Nabob's capital, Nawabisbad, with all the instruments and accommodations of government, including the Army Barracks and Arsenal, the Model Prison, and the Administrative seat of government power. Not merely a figurehead, the Nabob, Maibiwih Khan served as a mask for the exercise of Imperial power - not a role he enjoyed, but accepted as the alternative was to have no power at all.

Map of Nawabisbad battle, with BARF planned assault.
For a change, the Government defenders have
improved defences.

The Government right, protected by barbed wire,
anti-tank obstacles, and field fortifications.

The Government forces were meanwhile determined, even at this late hour, to resist the Revolutionary tide to the last. Was the Battle of Nawabisbad to be the climax of an episodic, linear narrative; the turning point of a circular return plot; or the pivotal point of a contrast plot?  Time and events would tell.

In view of the importance of this action, the local Ruberian Governor General, Major-General Lord Lionel Redmond, assumed the command himself. He had available:

Government Forces:

Command:  CO, staffs and scout vehicle:  .....6SP
22nd Punjanjoodi Infantry:
     3 Rifle Coys @ 4SP
     1 Vickers MMG Pln @2SP .....14SP
31st Kashinkari Battalion:
     3 Rifle Coys @4SP
     1 Vickers MMG Pln @2SP .....14SP
6th Bananaramaputra Hussars:
     3 M4 Sherman medium tank squadrons @3SP .....9SP
1st Tchagai Artillery (2 batteries only)
     2 25pr gun/howitzer Batteries @2SP with Quad tows @2SP .....8SP
Anti-tank batteries:
    2 2pr AT guns in fixed positions (can not be moved) @2SP ....4SP

18 units, Median = 9
55SP, Exhaustion point -19SP.
(Determined by adding 42 + 4D6 = 42 + 13 (not a good roll) = 55SP)
Government left, a minefield covers the flank of the field
fortification some distance from the city.
For his part, Colonel Peenut Buttahjars, the leader of the Baluchistan Armed Revolutionary Front (BARF) found himself in command of a well motivated and powerful army, confident in the justice and destiny of their cause.  This confidence was not abated by the uninterrupted tide of success.

He had with him:

Revolutionary Forces:

Command:  Colonel Peenut Buttahjars, and HQ vehicles: .....6SP
1st 'Sons of Revolution' Battalion:
     4 Rifle Companies @4SP
     1 Medium Mortar battery @2SP
     1 Carrier @2SP .....20SP
2nd 'Volunteers of the Revolution' Battalion:
     4 Rifle Companies @4SP
     1 Medium Mortar battery @2SP
     1 Carrier @2SP .....20SP
3rd 'Revolutionary Rifles' Battalion:
      4 Rifle Companies @4SP
     1 Medium Mortar battery @2SP
     1 Carrier @2SP .....20SP

1st 'Scimitars of Revolution' Armoured Regiment:
     3 Sqns (A, B, C) M3 Stuart light tanks (poor) @3SP
     1 Sqn (D) M3 Grant medium tank (poor) @3SP ..... 12SP
Battery, Anti-tank:
     1 6pr medium AT gun battery @2SP
     1 Portee mount @2SP ..... 4SP
25 Units, Median = 13
82SP, Exhaustion point - 28SP
(Determined by adding 66 + 6D6 = 66 + 16 (terrible roll) = 82SP.
The BARF forces on their start line.

So far in these battles, the government troops, defending, have not enjoyed much help from improved defences. In two battles, one battery or company had a fortified position, and there have been advantages of defending built up areas and higher ground. But very little in the way of larger scale field works and obstacles. On this occasion I thought I would give the Government forces at least some defensive improvements by way of field works, minefields, barbed wire and anti-tank obstacles. I gave the Government half, rounded up, the difference in Strength Points by way of such improvements, that is: 14SPs.

Overall view eastwards from behind the Government left flank.
They prepared:
1 Minefield @2SP
4 Barbed wire entanglements @1SP
2 Anti-tank obstacles @1SP
3 Field fortifications @2SP
Total: 14SP

The minefield and one barbed wire obstacle protected the flank of the field fortification garrisoned by C Coy of 31st Battalion supported by 2pr AT guns. This position guarded the extreme left wing of the Government defence line. The rest of the field fortifications and obstacles stretched across the open flanks of the city, leaving the distant right flank open. Lord Redmond hoped his tanks would stop up that possible ingress to his position. He was also aware that by placing his gun/howitzers so far on the left flank, there would be little or no artillery coverage on the right.  

Noticing this, Colonel Peenut  Buttahjars laid his plans...

To be continued...
(Sorry about the delay: this was fought out about 3 weeks back, but I've had a little bit of an injury since that rather curbed by enthusiasm for typing up narratives).

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Long Live the Revolution: The Sea Port (2).

Opening BARF moves, with the 'Revolutionary Rifles'
and the light tanks leading off.
The Battle of Khandibar is the only one so far in which I have taken one side, and a friend (Paul - 'Jacko' - of 'Painting Little Soldiers') the other. He was given choice of sides, and chose the defending Government army. This ought to have been a straight-forward 'IGoUGo' game, but through sheer force of habit, I continued with my adaptation of the Portable Wargames  activation system using dice and the median number of units on either side. It is not clear how - or even whether - this affected the result. My attacks were more piecemeal than I liked, but the defence had similar problems in choosing units to move and/or fire. Suffice to say, I didn't notice at the time any real detriment to the way the action played out, and I don't think Paul did, either.

Battle of Khandibar: the Sea Port.

Government right (east) flank
Of course, the relatively open west flank, where the railway and Maibad road - call it the Maibad Pass - pierced the coastal range, drew the immediate attention of Col. Peenut Buttahjars. That is where BARF would be making its greatest effort. In setting up, Paul and I simply laid out our troops simultaneously, without paying too much attention to what the other was doing. It would probably have been realistic enough for the defenders to lay out first, and then the attackers to make his arrangements in response. We didn't do that.
Government centre and the Maimajikwand Road pass.
So I was rather surprised to see that the Government left flank was left open: 'D' Squadron of the 5th Aagravaa Armoured covering Maibad Pass, and a rifle company and Vickers platoon holding the central massif overlooking it. The 'middle pass' through which the Maimajikwand road led - call it the Maimajikwand Pass - was strongly covered by 'B' and 'C'/5th Armoured squadrons, flanked by another rifle company, and backed by a gun and a mortar battery. 'A' Squadron covered the eastern flank, also covered by the other 25-pounder battery.
Government left flank.  The Maibad Road pass has been
cleared and Brigadier Damwright goes in danger of capture...
A determined leader of men, Colonel Peenut Buttahjars accompanied the whole 1st 'Scimitars of Revolution' Armoured Regiment  light tanks, pushing for the Maibad Pass. Lacking organic transport, 3rd Revolutionary Rifles accompanied the armour on foot.

A couple or so of asides here;
1. I have added 1 hex to the PW movement allowance of armour, right across the board.  I felt that, even cross country, heavy armour (1+1 grid area) could at least keep up with infantry on foot (2 grid areas).  So the Sherman medium armour moved 3 hexes; the Stuart light tanks moved 4.  
2. I'm staying with the 'tanks as machine-gun carriages' thing.  Tough on the PBI, but it seems to work overall, in keeping with the notion that tanks are intended to fight infantry, not other tanks.  This explains why the Revolutionary armour survived this action with almost no loss.
3. It is interesting to follow the progress in this action of the 3rd Revolutionary Rifles (in their distinctive red-brown uniforms) as they sweep forward, their ranks thinning all the while.

Somewhat surprisingly, 'D' Squadron was shot to pieces in the Maibad Pass without inflicting the slightest hurt upon the light tanks. True, the Shermans were outnumbered 3 to 1, and 3rd BARF Squadron had their leader there to encourage them, but as the latter were classed as 'poor' (to reflect the lighter weight of armour) I might have expected some loss to the latter. As 1st and 3rd Squadrons stood off in a gunnery duel, 2nd Squadron raced forward to deliver the coup de grace.  In a trice, the valley floor was littered with burning and abandoned Shermans, and 2nd Squadron held the Maibad Pass. Third Rifle battalion surged forward to bring the central massif under fire, as the Stuarts funnelled through the pass to bring their MGs to bear on the reverse slopes..
General view, as 'A' Squadron counter-attacks in the plain
In the middle distance a gunnery duel develops between
Government tanks and Rebel portee anti-tank guns.
By this time, at least parts of 2nd (BARF) Battalion had also begun their advance, accompanied by the two anti-tank gun batteries, their aim being the Maimajikwand Pass. Covered as it was by two Sherman squadrons, with artillery support, this was to prove a tougher nut to crack, as 2nd Battalion were to discover. One, and then the other, of the anti-tank gun batteries took hits as it was deploying, which leads me to another aside.

4. Since early on in this series I have departed very slightly from the PW system as it involves multiple targets in one grid area, in particular as it involves heavy weapons and their tows, tractors and transports. The PW system allows one shot by a single unit against such a target, with a hit counting against both (or all) elements, and the outcome of that hit also applying to both. For this game, I rolled for the grid area for 'hit-or-miss', then each unit separately for the outcome. This could lead to a loss for one and a 'retreat' for the other.

I quite like this. For a portee mounted AT gun, say, the results could be:
a- Gun -1SP; Portee (or tow) -1SP
b- Gun -1SP; Portee retreat (with or without the surviving gun)
c- Gun - retreat; Portee -1SP (see below)
d- Gun - retreat; Portee - retreat (gun under tow, or mounted on portee, as appropriate).
Now, a, b and d are fairly straightforward; but what about c?  Suppose we rule that a transport SP has to equal (or exceed) the carried weapon SP, then, in Case 'c' the gun takes a 'hit' AND retreats with the portee, now able to carry but 1 SP. Alternatively it might dismount (taking the hit because it is not retreating) and the portee leaves it behind.  It seemed to me that it involved no real complication to treat such weapons in this way. As it happened in this action, portee and gun both took the hit.

Central Massif under assault from 3rd Barf Battalion -
Revolutionary Rifles.  In the centre, 'C' Sqn has been
driven off the isolated hill.
Owing to the commitment on the Revolutionary right and centre, 1st battalion was taking a considerable time to get forward, its mortars badly missed on the east flank. But progress was rapid on the right. The Light Armoured rattled though the Maibad Pass into the right rear of 'A' Company, 18th Siliputti Rifles and the accompanying machine-gun platoon holding the massif. 1st Coy, 3rd Revolutionary Rifles followed the tanks through the pass, as, supported by the Battalion's mortars, 2nd and 3rd Coys began their assault upon the massif.  (Note: The Government Armour was arranged 'A' to 'D' Squadrons from the right [east] flank; the infantry companies 'A' to 'D' from the left).
The Revolutionary armoured right hook.
Two companies of 2nd 'Volunteers of Tchagai' (2nd and 3rd, the 1st having been driven back with heavy loss well short of the heights) seized a foothold upon a spur extending from the coastal range into the plain north, and engaged 'C' Company and 'B' Squadron in a close quarter fight among the rocks and light brush. With great effort, they scattered the Government infantry company, but at a very high cost to themselves. Second Company exhausted all its strength in the fight, and 3rd Company has also taken heavy losses. Unable to maintain that foothold against the Government supporting MG fire from their left flank, the 'Volunteers' soon retreated down into the plain.
2nd 'Volunteers of Tchagai' take a foothold upon a
spur of the ridge north of the town
The Revolutionary Rifles were enjoying far more success in overcoming the Massif defenders. Forcing 'C' Company onto the reverse slopes, where they came under MG fire from the Rebel tanks, the 'Rifles' brought the Government MG platoon under close assault. The defenders were becoming overstretched, the Government tanks discouraged from coming to the defence of the left flank on account of the pressure from in front. Although reducing both portee anti-tank gun batteries, 'B' squadron was driven off the high ground. Had the 2nd 'Volunteers' Battalion not been so knocked about, they might have seized the abandoned heights then and there.
The position of 'A' Company and the supporting MGs has
become untenable, with Rebel armour in their left rear.
But the momentary foothold had had to be relinquished, and 2nd Battalion were in no fit state to make good on the opportunity. Meanwhile, however, 1st 'Sons of Revolution' Battalion was at last lurching into motion. A company took some hurt from a 25-pounder stonk that landed on the bridge over the dry watercourse, just as they were traversing it. As the rest of the battalion emerged from the brushwood lining the dry riverbanks, 'A' Squadron, 5th Armoured descended into the plain to bring them under MG fire well short of the heights. Supported by 'A' Battery of 25-pounder artillery, the tanks' high hopes of throwing back this attack were to be disappointed. Though inflicting some loss, they found the enemy infantry closing the range. Before they could be brought under close assault, the tanks hastily drew back to the ridge line.
1st 'Sons of Revolution' emerging from the dry river bed.
All this served to keep the defenders occupied in the centre and on the east flank. Although giving as good as they were getting, the beleaguered 'A' Company and MGs could hardly survive long under assault from a full battalion of infantry, a regiment of tanks, all supported by the battalion's mortar fire.
Government centre.  In the distance, the Central
Massif looks about to be overrun.
When at last the massif's defenders were overwhelmed and overrun, the 3rd 'Volunteers' were able to advance upon the town. But Brigadier Damwright managed to arrange a defence line in the north western outskirts, abandoning as lost the railway station and the western suburbs, and along the line of the Maimajikwand road.
The Central Massif cleared, the Revolutionaries push on to
the town.  
For all their success so far, the Revolutionary Army - apart from the armour - was beginning to show signs of wear and tear. Although pressing on all fronts, they were finding Government resistance becoming a whole deal tougher.
1st and 2nd BARF Battalions press on in the face of
heavy MG fire from the support platoons and the tanks.
Eventually the Revolutionary troops developed a powerful attack against the powerful knot of artillery-supported armour overlooking the Maimajikwand road just as 2nd company of 3rd Battalion broke into the town, and captured a small mosque alongside the highway. The exchange of fire between the light Revolutionary tanks and 'C' Squadron cost the latter a few tanks, but was otherwise inconclusive. When 'B' Squadron, on the heights overlooking the road, came under infantry assault from elements of 2nd and 3rd BARF Battalions, they managed to hold their ground only at the cost of several tanks as well.  However, the effort was enough to exhaust the Revolutionary Army's further resolve, and the action petered out.

As the battle sputtered to a close, the Revolutionaries had cleared the western ridges, including the 'Central Massif', and had secured a lodgement further along the heights, between the points held by 'A' and 'B' Squadrons.  Second Company of 3rd BARF Battalion had also entered the town, though held only a small section of the outskirts.

The last few pictures show the final stages of the action.
The ranks of 3rd battalion are a lot thinner than they were
not long ago!


This was an undoubted victory for the Revolution - the Government reached its exhaustion point at least two turns before the Revolutionaries did - and yet I felt that it wasn't quite decisive. Although the Revolutionaries controlled, if they did not occupy, the railway station and the coast road west, they had not quite reached the waterfront, and the Government still held the commercial sectors of the town and the dockside marshalling yards.    One feels that a second day of battle might have been in order.  Let us come back to that.
Heavy losses among the Rebel infantry!
I find for some reason a certain satisfaction in listing the costs of these actions in terms of strength points. Here they are:


18th Siliputti Rifles:
     A Coy: -4SP
     B Coy: -
     C Coy: -4SP
     D Coy: -
     1st MMG Platoon: -1SP
     2nd MMG Platoon: -2SP
     Mortar and carrier: -2SP
5th Aagravaa Armoured Regiment:
     A Sqn: -
     B Sqn: -1SP
     C Sqn: -1SP
     D Sqn: -3SP
1st Tchagai Artillery:
     A Battery and Quad:
     B Battery and Quad: -2SP

Total loss: -20SP (C.f. exhaustion point, -17)


1st 'Sons of Revolution' Battalion
     1st Coy:
     2nd Coy: -2SP
     3rd Coy: -1SP
     1st Mortar Battery:
2nd 'Volunteers of the Revolution' Battalion
     1st Coy: -2SP
     2nd Coy: -4SP
     3rd Coy: -2SP
     2nd Mortar Battery:
3rd 'Revolutionary Rifles' Battalion
     1st Coy: -3SP
     2nd Coy: -2SP
     3rd Coy: -3SP
     Mortar Battery: -1SP
1st 'Scimitars of the Revolution' Armoured Regiment
     No loss!
1st AT Battery: -2SP (-1 each from gun and portee)
2nd AT Battery: -2SP (-1 each from gun and portee)

Total loss: -24SP (exhaustion point, -24)

I have treated the result as a BARF victory, albeit a marginal one.  Yet I wonder whether this is a fair assessment.  The thought occurs that this could have gone in for a second 'day'.  How I would have done this is:

The Heights under attack
from elements of all
three BARF battalions

  1. Resolve any ongoing close combats to a conclusion.  This would represent some of the close order fighting continuing after dark, as one reads in so many battle accounts.
  2. Tot up the SPs lost, and returning half to each side.
  3. SPs replaced on a pro rata basis, with rounding priority going to rifle elements first and infantry support weapons second. 

    On that basis, the Government troops would have regained 10SP, 4 going to 'A' and 'C' Coys, 2 going to the Armour (recovery and repair), 2 to the MMG platoons, and 2 to the mortar and carrier.

    The Revolution would have got back 10SP of rifle infantry, and 1 each for AT gun and carrier, for 12 total.  The fight would have continued next day with a 59SP Revolutionary force, against a 40SP government one.  It would probably have been a street fight, the outcome, anyone's guess.

Close of the action.  The Revolutionaries have established
a lodgment in the town, but have not quite reached the

Rough positions of BARF Revolutionaries at the close of the action.

To be continued: the Battle for the Capital City: Nawabisbad.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Long Live the Revolution: The Sea Port.

View of Khandibar looking northward.

The Railway Station having fallen to the burgeoning armed insurgency that was taking a strengthening hold upon the Nawabate of Tchagai, it fell to the leader of that Revolution to decide whether to advance at once upon the capital city, Nawabisbad, or to seize the vital sea port of Khandibar. This was an addition to the original Bob Cordery sequence, and one of those 'it seemed a good idea at the time' sort of things.

The defence of Khandibar.

Campaign schematic including Sea port.

Fact is, though, it added something of a complication to the overall scheme, particularly as the war descended upon the place from the interior, emerging from behind the range of hills that separated the narrow coastal plain from the semi-desert to the north.  Had the approach been along the coast, then the linear sequence could more plausibly have been preserved.

So, what happened?  I have decided that the Sea Port action will be a kind of  'branch line' to the main sequence, like this:

The idea is that to progress past the Railway Station, going Left or Right, one must take the Sea Port as well, but in either direction, the Railway Station comes before the Sea Port. There is no particular reason for this design; it simply arose from the shape of the battle that was fought.

Had I thought of it sooner, I might have suggested that, advancing from the East Road, the insurgents fetched a wide sweep inland to take the town from behind.  This might have induced the defenders to keep open the Coast Road west - introducing a strategic element to the campaign. Never mind!

Before resuming the campaign narrative, I should mention a further departure from the 'main' sequence of events.  The previous three battles having been fought solo, I invited Paul Jackson to play one of the sides in this action. Given the option, he took the Government side, taking the identity of Brigadier P.J. Damwright (had he but known it), commanding the Brigade Group protecting Khandibar.

Having taken the Railway Station - Maibad Junction - so quickly and with such ease, the leader of the Revolution, Colonel Peenut Buttahjars was tempted at once to push on westwards towards the Capital City - Nawabisbad - itself.  But there remained to give him pause the spectre of Khandibar, the sea port to the south, and its permanent Brigade-sized garrison, upon the flank of the advance. Leaving a covering force at Maibad, he led the bulk of his army, growing in confidence as well as numbers, to Khandibar (This is, of course, just 'atmosphere' - an artistic flourish to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.  The size of the forces in each battle is determined by the parameters defined for each scenario - a fixed number plus a randomly selected number of Strength Points to attacker and defender).

The BARF Army, ready on their start line...

The force available to the Beluchistan Armed Revolutionary Front (BARF) came to:
48 + 6D6 = 48 + 23 (good roll!) = 71 Strength Points.  They were allocated as follow:

BARF Army:

HQ, Command, Staffs and hangers on, with HQ truck: 6SP
1st 'Sons of Revolution' Battalion:
    3 Rifle Coys @ 4SP
    1 Mortar detachment @ 2 SP
       with carrier @ 2SP   .......... 16SP
2nd 'Volunteers of Tchagai' Battalion
    3 Rifle Coys @ 4SP
    1 Mortar detachment @ 2SP
        with carrier @ 2SP  .......... 16SP
3rd 'Revolutionary Rifles' Battalion
    3 Rifle Coys @ 4SP
    1 Mortar detachment @ 2SP
        with carrier @ 2SP   ..........16SP
1st 'Scimitar of the Revolution' Armoured Regiment
    3 Squadrons M3 Stuart light tanks @ 3SP (poor) ..........9SP
6pr AT Battery (medium anti-tank) @ 2SP
         with portee @ 2SP (poor) ..........4SP
2pr AT Battery (light anti-tank) @ 2SP
         with portee @ 2SP (poor) ..........4SP
21 units, median 11;
71 SP, exhaustion point, -24.
Looking east along the Government lines.

Looking west.

I probably ought to have given Paul his 'choice of weapons', as well as the choice of sides, but I had already drawn up the respective forces. Strangely enough, both sides rolled the same added SP points as they had for the Maibad battle. Coincidence, I assure you.  I've only just noticed! The force available to the Government came to:
36 + 6D6 = 36 + 14 = 50SP, even.   They were organised in the following way:

Government Army:

Command, HQ and scout car .......... 6SP
5th Aagravaa Armoured Regiment
     4 Squadrons (A-D) Sherman medium tanks @ 3SP .......... 12SP
18th Siliputti Rifles
     4 Rifle Coys @ 4SP
     2 Vickers MMG Platoons @ 2SP
     1 3-inch Mortar @ 2SP plus carrier @ 2SP  ..........24SP
2nd Tchagai Artillery Regiment
     2 Batteries, each with
         1 x 25pr field gun plus limber @ 2SP
         1 x Quad tractor @ 2SP .......... 8SP
14 units, median 7;
50 SP, exhaustion point, -17.

Although the Government forces were permitted to include the line D---D, Brigadier Damwright chose a more conservative line.  This tended to leave the government's left flank open, guarded by the strongly-held central massif overlooking the railway and Maibad road, with 'D' Squadron Aagravaa Armoured covering the exit of the western pass.  What effect that would have on the action - if any - will be revealed next time.

To be continued...

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