Wednesday, October 28, 2020

First Blacklands War - Duel of the Ironclads.

Situation shortly after 0700 hours.  It seems the
Hydra had already sighted Mesudiye.

As mentioned a couple of postings back, the onset of war found the Turcowaz Naval Ship (TNS) Mesudiye on a flag waving mission along the Ionian and Adriatic littorals. Warned of the imminence of hostilities - indeed, the Black Mountains Principality had already opened the ball by invading Kosovo - Mesudiye slipped anchor and departed its Kerkyra anchorage in the dead of a damp early October night. By dawn at 0700, Mesudiye was well to the west of Kephalonia, still heading southward into the open Mesogesean Sea, to give the Peloponnese Peninsula a wide berth.   Not the fastest swimmer in the Turcowaz fleet, and all alone, it would be touch and go whether the ship could ever make it back to Ionople.

Nevertheless, by the occasional subterfuge - such as taking and sinking a slow moving Hellenic merchantman fortuitously encountered, and, in releasing the crew, 'letting slip' the idea that Mesudiye was beginning a career of merchant raiding - after a little over a fortnight, she was within sight of the Anatolian shore, creeping northward in the predawn half light of a late October morning. As the sun broke over the Anatolian shore, Captain Burak Ubama and crew set eyes upon the distant but welcoming arms of the entrance to the Dardanelles Strait, and safety. 
Opening salvos. Both score hits.
Hydra's forward batteries are much
more powerful than Mesudiye's.

They also set eyes upon the Hellenic war shop Hydra, just barely out of range of its main guns, but rapidly closing. Anticipating that the final leg of the voyage might be contested, Captain Ubama had already ordered his crew into general quarters. It was his bad luck that he happened upon the enemy warship in the middle of the eastward leg of its patrol covering the entrance of the Strait. 

Side Note:  The entry point and heading of Mesudiye and the location and heading of Hydra were all determined by die roll. Mesudiye counted 2D6 hexes from the leftmost corner, its heading evens 'port', odds 'starboard'.  I rolled 8 and then an odd number.

The location of Hydra was determined by a similar 2D6 roll up the left side of the board. The roll was '7'. About to roll for heading, it occurred to be that Hydra could from the edge of the board scarcely bring the enemy into action before they were safely home. So I then rolled 1D6 for placing in from the board edge ( a '4') and for heading, numbering 1 to 6 from 'top right' clockwise to 'top left', rolled a '3' - a course directly aimed at Mesudiye!

Superb Turcowaz gunnery inflicts heavy damage
upon Hydra.

Action was quickly joined. Hydra changed course to due east, anticipating Mesudiye's run. Appreciating the dangers of the Anatolian shore (just off the board to starboard), Captain Ubama ordered a course charge 4 points to port, upon a northwest by north heading...

Another side note: There being just 6 or 12 'points' on a hex compass, I have approximated them as follows:
  • North
  • Northeast by North
  • Northeast by East
  • East
  • Southeast by East
  • Southeast by South
  • South
  • Southwest by South
  • Southwest by West
  • West
  • Northwest by West
  • Northwest by North 
In the picture immediately below, both vessels are on the northwest by north heading.
Possibly the damage already incurred has
affected both sides' gunnery.

Both sides quickly got the range, but Hydra's forward facing armament being much the more powerful, scored the more damaging hits. Mesudiye struck the first blow, but Hydra responded with three, two of them critically damaging. Swinging back to her former course, Mesudiye was able to bring her full broadside to bear. For her part, Hydra was forced to sheer off onto the same course, for fear of falling aboard the enemy, with who knew what damaging consequences. The Turcowaz crew reached the peak of their gunnery at this point - three critically damaging hits (i.e. three '6s', so scratch off SIX flotation points).  Unable to bring her most powerful batteries to bear, Hydra inflicted no damage in reply.

Thereafter, it seemed that much of the damage had been inflicted upon the armaments of both sides, as neither side managed to score such damaging hits. At this stage, Hydra had taken 7 hits; Mesudiye 5, soon to be increased by one each. By this time Mesudiye was nearing the mouth of the Dardanelles Strait.

Just then two 10.8-inch shells slammed into the Mesudiye.  Might escape yet be denied? Mesuhiye was not yet so damaged as to force Ubama to abandon her drive towards the Dardanelles. That escape could not be prevented by now anyway - provided the ship could still swim. Disaster was still possible - even likely...

A return hit from one of her casemate guns decided the matter.  In addition to the damage already incurred, it was enough to persuade Hydra's ship captain that to press the matter further might be to push her luck too far. 

A third side note: At this point, having taken the picture and about to move on, I realised that Musudiye ought to have been rolling 3 dice, rather than 2 for her secondary broadside battery. Checking just now, I discover it ought to have been 5! At any rate, I rolled one more die - a '5' which put Hydra on 9 hits, and, as a result, with just 3 flotation points remaining, forced to try to break off the action. The final two hits from Hydra had put Mesudiye on 8 hits - almost in as bad a shape.  Although not required to break off, there was no point in Mesudiye taking any further risk, so she carried on to safety.

The action was over.

Hydra levels up the damage (8 each);
but Mesudieh is wanting some 'secondary' dice...

Rudder hard a-port, Hydra scraped by the Gallipoli Peninsula as Mesudieh, her crew jubilant despite the damage and the casualties, continued on her way up the strait to Ionople.  
Hydra abandons the action, and very nearly
runs ashore (I cheated a bit there to prevent it!)

Of course, the whole affair was greeted as a victory by the people of Ionople, depressed in recent days by the defeat of the Army in Thrace. The crew were feted; the Sultan decorated Captain Burak Ubama with the Order of Osmaniye; but Mesudiye would require a considerable refit before she could again lie in the Turcowaz battle line.

Situation at the close of action, Mesudiye fairly 
within the Dardanelles Strait itself.

The Hellenic Navy was correspondingly chastened by Mesudiye's escape. Hydra had been badly knocked about, and no longer capable of patrolling the Dardanelles Roads. Not for a while at any rate. But wiser heads reflected that nothing had changed to compromise the blockade. It was yet possible anyway to represent the affair to the Hellenic public as a victory...

This was a very fast-moving action - just 6 turns - leaving both vessels in parlous shape. One thing I discovered about Hydra and its forward facing armament, is that, once that unit loses its forward facing against an enemy, it is not easy once more to recover it. Mind you, I conducted the whole action with vessels able only to face hex sides. It might be a different story if vessels may face hex corners.  That might be something to think about!

I am also wondering whether the '6' hits might lead to something more specific in the way of damage - say to armament, steering, motive power, magazines or control.  Something to think about for single ship duels, anyhow...

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The First Blacklands War - The Third Week

The second week of the war proved a rough passage for the Allies.  Both Bejelan armies had now been driven back across the border.  Such were their losses that the Bejelan War Ministry suggested to King Peter that the two Armies be converged into one.  As II Army was retreating into the eastern part of the country, perhaps I Army should join it there, and General Petar Bojovoc take overall command.  So it was ordered.

Nor was the Chervenian high command altogether pleased with events.  Ist Army had taken a most unexpected defeat - sufficiently humiliating, withal, to place at hazard the military career of Chervenia's most able general. Abandoning outright the invasion of Macedonia, the battered army staggered back into South Chervenia, very much chastened (This was decided by die roll: 1-4 = retreat to Chervenia; 5-6 = retreat into North Macedonia.  I rolled a 4). The victory of the combined IInd and IIIrd Armies had been more than somewhat pyrrhic, IInd army so badly mauled that a withdrawal into Chervenia was clearly indicated, which left only the smallish IIIrd Army still at large within Imperial borders.

What was that Army to do? The defeated Third Turcowaz Army had withdrawn into the capital, Ionople, effectively scratching that city off the list of achievable objectives. But it was yet possible to besiege or storm Adrianople. Close to deciding on that course, General Dimitriev suddenly bethought himself that perhaps there was more of interest to be done in West Thrace. No sooner thought than acted upon; westward marched IIIrd Army. (Options: 1 = Lay siege to Adrianople; 2-3 = Storm Adrianople; 4-6 = March into West Thrace.  The die roll was 6).

For all the fine performance of the Turcowaz armies so far, the situation remained perilous for the Empire. Three of the main armies (First, Second and Fourth) were cut off far to the west of the capital, but they were at least in a central position surrounded by enemies, and in far greater readiness for further action. Having barged its way though the II Bejelan and Ist Chervenian Armies, Second Turcowaz re-entered North Macedonia. 

First Army found itself at something of a loose end, but with a very wide range of options:

  • Await events in Vardar (1-2)
  • Advance into West Bejela and invest Belgrade (3-4)  
  • Follow up II Bejela Army into East Bejela (5)
  • Follow up Ist Chervenia Army into Chervenia (6).
For all his shortcomings as a commander, Nazim Pasha was no piker: he ordered the advance into Chervenia (I rolled a 6). What would be the strategic consequences of this bold move? Time would tell.

There remained Fourth Turcowaz Army, as yet unengaged, having retreated all the way from the Ionian coast almost to Salonika. There, at Khalkidona, west of the Vardar River, Halepi Zeki Pasha elected to take a stand.  
He had plenty to worry him.  Salonika was an important sea port, much coveted by the Hellenicans, that must be held.  The Hellenic Army that was pursuing him from the west, though much of a size as his own, was armed with machine guns, an arm his own army lacked.  Furthermore, to the east  behind him, so persistent rumour ran, Thrace was occupied by the enemy, and that enemy was advancing westwards. The only consolation was that Second Army was not so far distant, in the northern part of the province, perhaps in a position to recover the situation should the imminent battle go badly.

Sure enough, the Hellenic Army, out of the action so far, we more than eager to bring on a battle. The prize was too alluring to ignore.

What of the Black Mountains Army? Following its defeat two weeks earlier, that army had recovered its poise within its mountain fastnesses, and once more ventured a sortie outside its borders. Into North Abiloni they advanced, eyes set firmly upon the capture of the entire Ionian littoral to the south.

Such was the situation, when the Sultan was awakened one day, towards the end of  October, by an early morning bustle and commotion within the Seraglio. Outside in the streets of Ionople crowds were cheering as only Ionopolitans were capable of.  What news could that portend?

Monday, October 26, 2020

Blacklands War - Naval 'Stats'

I really ought to be getting on with the First Blacklands War narrative, and indeed the moves for the Third Week have been determined, and I'll write them up soon. Promise. I just have to transcribe a battlefield (possibly two) into machine-readable format, and update the War Theatre Map.  

TNS Mesudiye at sea.

In the meantime, a certain coastal defence battleship, TNS Mesudiye (Mesudieh), on a flag waving mission in the Adriatic Sea, happened to put into port at Kerkyra (Corfu) the day before war broke out, and the Army of the Black Mountains invaded the Turcowaz province of Kosovo. Before departing Epirus, the Commander of Fourth Turcowaz Army, Halepli Zeki Pasha, got word to Captain Burak Ubama, the courier being carried by malodorous fishing trawler from an obscure village on the mainland, across to the island anchorage. Hastily raising steam, Mesudiye slipped anchor shortly after dark of a dismal and drizzly October night. This was to be the beginning of a fortnight's journey by this Turcowaz warship to reach the Dardanelles Strait and safety.  But there was to be an encounter with a Hellenic warship on the way...
HNS Hydra on patrol somewhere off the Dardanelles.

This was, of course, to be the first encounter using my newly built navies, and a battle between such disparate vessels of the same class - coastal, or ironclad, battleship - promised to be interesting. Now, the Gridded Naval Wargame (Bob Cordery) treats the warships' gunnery and protection with a pretty broad brush - very desirable in a wargames fleet action. But it was whilst building the ships I noticed certain variations from the 'norm', which might be interesting to take into account in a single ship action.  So I drew up a table for each vessel in my navies.

In drawing up the above table, I took four guns as the 'norm' for the number of dice rolled at the various shooting ranges. An example are the figures for the broadside and fore/aft 12-inch guns of HNS Lemnos. 

Now, the Turcowaz (Turkish) pre-Dreadnought battleships could bring six 11-inch guns to bear in broadside.  Hence the big numbers, especially at short range. They were all the standard dice rolls multiplied by 6/4 = 1.5. The puny 4.1-inch secondary armament is reflected in the stats for those same battleships.  I have included an alternate scheme that ignores the 4.1-inch, and treats the central turret as secondary armament. It carried 11-inch guns, but, being accommodated in the space between superstructures, the guns were of lesser calibre-length L28 against L40). Otherwise I have treated them as the same as the other 11-inch guns. Personally, I'd stay with the 4.1-inch, as defences against destroyers and torpedo boats.

I am very tempted to suggest a rule amendment that prohibits - or at least discourages - the use of a vessel's main armament of greater than 6-inch calibre against small craft (destroyers and smaller). Possibly that is unreasonable, and maybe unnecessary in a general action. Any thoughts on this?

In Lemnos and Georgios Averof, the secondary armament comprises 4 guns capable of firing forward or aft. However, as none of the turrets could possible traverse across a direct fore-and-aft line, I figured that only one or other twin turret could engage a target ahead or astern, not both, even if the target was dead ahead or dead astern.

By contrast, the single turreted 9-inch main guns of Mesudiye and the 5.9-inch of Hamidiye have had to to be halved for broadside, and quartered for fore-and-aft gunnery. That might be ungenerous to the latter, protected cruiser, as my information says the 5.9-inch (150mm) main and 4.7-inch (120mm) secondary armaments were QF - quick firing. It is very tempting at least to beef up their gunnery stats a little on the strength of that, but I'll leave it until some further information comes my way. 

On the other hand, I have left the destroyers' armaments untouched, as being puny enough as they stand.  The well-informed reader might observe that I have left off the torpedo stats from all but the destroyer/ torpedo boats. This is deliberate: I plan to ignore torpedoes from all but the specialist small craft, having an idea that, possibly apart from accidents, no torpedo ever launched from a capital ship or cruiser ever reached or harmed its target. I could be wrong, but such occasions must have been almost vanishingly rare.    

At any rate, I drew up this chart for what it might seem to be worth to anyone, but my interest was primarily in a single ship duel between the two coastal defence battleships.

Next time: The Third Week...

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fleets painted...


The two Hellenic destroyer/ torpedo boats.
At last, pretty much finished the naval forces for the First Blacklands War.  A couple of vessels I had to modify as I found better pics of their architecture.
Protected (Light) Cruiser Hamidieh.
TNS Hamidieh received some secondary armament, 8 x 5.9-inch (150mm) guns.  I made the shapes of the turrets more rectangular than triangular or trapezoidal as more robust.  I am quite consciously taking some liberties with the original design, but the whole 'cartooning' concept permits such deviations.  I think.
Coastal (Ironclad) Battleship Hydra
I closer examination of very good plan and elevation coloured pictures of  the Original Greek ironclad battleship Hydra, showed its forward main guns were barbette mounted, rather than behind casemates.  So I replaced the casemate guns, and mounted the 10.8-inch chaps either side of the bridge.  They are rather higher than they ought to be I think, and the vessel looks even odder than before, but I'll have to be satisfied with this result.
TNS Messudieh and HNS Hydra, facing off.
I'm thinking of a single ship encounter by way of a prologue of the naval aspects of the War.  This is projected to be a single ship action between respective coastal battleships, Messudieh and Hydra.  
Turcowaz and Hellenic fleets.
We'll close with a couple of plan views of the respective fleets.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fleets Completed ...

 Last night I began and finished the final two warships for my Turcowaz (Turkish) navy.  

Hayreddin Barbarossa - I looked up the name.
Seems he was a very successful admiral in the time of
Suleiman the Magnificent.
Because the three planned Turkish vessels seemed to be somewhat outmatched by the the three Greek, methought it reasonable to add a fourth to the former to redress the balance.  Besides, the addition of a battleship called Hayreddin Barbarossa seemed to me desirable for its own sake.  It is the sister ship to Turgut Reis, though there are a number of differences to distinguish the two.

The remaining vessel is the 'protected cruiser' Hamidieh. Designed, possibly, more as a commerce raider, it is nowhere near as powerful as the other large ships in the collection.
Hamidieh - protected cruiser.  I might add some 
secondary armament ...

Finally, a couple of photos of the whole collection:

Hellenic Fleet:
  • Lemnos - modern Pre-Dreadnought battleship
  • Hydra - ironclad/ coastal battleship
  • Georgios Averof - armoured cruiser.  This vessel looks larger than Lemnos, and the fact is it was longer, but displaced less, and its guns were not as heavy.
  •  Panthir - destroyer
  •  Ierax - destroyer.  
  • I have two reserve names for destroyer replacements or additions: Leon and Aetos.
The whole collection: 5 Hellenic and 6 Turcowaz vessels.

Turcowaz Fleet:
  •  Turgut Reis - older Pre-Dreadnought battleship
  •  Hayreddin Barbarossa - older Pre-Dreadnought battleship
  • Messudieh - ironclad/ coastal defence battleship
  • Hamidieh - protected cruiser 
  • S165 Muavenet - destroyer
  • S166 Yadigar - destroyer.  
  • I have two reserve names for  destroyer replacements or additions: S167(?) Numune and S168(?) Gayret.

The whole collection, named.
To continue - the third week of the First Blacklands War.

Friday, October 16, 2020

More Naval Developments...

Further to the naval developments described in my previous posting, I have added one vessel to the Hellenic (Greek) navy, and made modifications to one of the Turcowaz (Ottoman).

The Hellenic now boasts the fine armoured cruiser Georgios Averof, heavily armed and armoured, and a fast sailor. Apparently the Greeks themselves were so proud of this addition to their naval strength, they classed this ship a battleship. From what I can discern from the naval actions in which she served, it seems they used her as such, and all. I made this ship yesterday.

HNS Georgios Averof at sea.

It was whilst perusing a number of sources (thanks to Neil Patterson and Bob Cordery) that it began to dawn on me that I had got the Turkish vessel Messudieh wrong, by giving it twin-gun turrets. After some thought I decided the error was fixable, and that I'd do something about the broadside casemate guns as well. Here we go...
Turcowaz coastal battleship Messudieh
 after its 'refit'.

Yes, a much improved appearance, methinks. Of course, in the Turcowaz navy, those fore and aft 'main' guns are the real deal, not the 'quaker' guns installed historically.  

Georgios Averof and Messudieh rendering
passing honours before the War.

Construction, by the way, was from balsa, cotton bud, toothpick and drinking straw.  Uniquely, some of Messudieh's casemate guns are bits of wire.

The Turcowaz navy will be receiving two more 'capital' ships - a second pre-Dreadnought of the Turgut Reis type (Hayreddin Barbarossa), and a 'protected' cruiser, Hamidieh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

First Blacklands War - Naval developments.

Thinking about the possible naval aspects of the ongoing First Blacklands War, I had at first in mind to use my Age of Imperialism fleets - 6 grey (Hellenic) and 6 purple (Turcowaz), and my ultra-simple naval rules (see e.g. the Battle of Jasper Roads). But every now and then, I catch the 'naval construction' bug, and, somewhat inspired by Bob Cordery's account an action between Greek and Turkish fleets (see Gridded Naval Wargames), began a small ship-building programme.  

An early play test of my simple naval rules for these
little ships.  The Porphyrian fleet attempts to
force a blockaded narrow strait...

What I wanted were vessels that would 'fit' within a 10cm grid space, but at the same time, yet retaining a kind of 'large model' presence. So, following one of Bob's suggestions - which fell in with my own inclinations - I decided upon 'cartooning' the ships. It worked out very approximately to scaling the ships to 1:1000 in length and 1:450 in the beam. The superstructural detail I'd work out as I went.

Last week, I traced three of the 'capital' ships (rather generously adding cruisers to that grade of vessel) on 9 or 10mm balsa, but didn't really begin  construction until 3-4 days ago. The pictures show where I have got so far.

Turcowaz Navy: modelled upon the Ottoman Turkish,

Turcowaz Navy: Turgut Reis leading Messudieh
flanked by destroyer/torpedo boats Muavenet and Yadigar

Hellenic navy: modelled on the Greek, c.1912

Hellenic Navy: Hydra leads Lemnos, flanked by destroyer/ 
torpedo boats, Panthir (Leopard) and Ierax (Hawk).

To do: sand off the rough edges (weather prohibitive at the moment - I need to be outside to do this).  Seal the wood. Paint. Flags and pennants, maybe.

To add: Cruisers Georgios Averoff (Hellenic) and Hamidieh (Turcowaz), and possibly a second Turgut Reis (named Hayreddin Barbarossa) to the Turcowaz fleet. Going by the histories of the respective navies, the vessels I have here seem slightly superior. And extra pre-dreadnought on the Turkic side would probably balance things up.

If anyone has suggestions as to what colours to paint these vessels, I'd very much welcome them!  

Friday, October 9, 2020

First Blacklands War - Battle of Nicatiye

View from behind Chervenian lines, looking east.
As active events were being played out far to the west of the Turcowaz Empire, far more sinister movements - at least from the Settee point of view - were developing much closer to the centre of Imperial power. Entering West Thrace without opposition, Chervenia's IInd Army had swung eastward into the other Thracian province. There awaited the Turcowaz Third Army in comparable strength. Tipping the balance, Chervenia's IIIrd Army - not as strong as the IInd, but powerful enough - was marching directly from East Chervenia into East Thrace.  

Learning of the approach of IInd Army, the Turcowaz advanced to meet them.  At no great distance southeast of Adrianople, the two sides met in what amounted to an encounter battle. No mean commander (he counts as 'Average'), Abdullah Pasha was counting here upon a victory, so that he could then deal with the other Chervenian Army he knew to be at large none too far distant. Indeed IIIrd Army was a deal closer than he had been led to believe. Against all probability, the usually unreliable General Radko Dimitriev ('Poor'), acting in cooperation with his colleague (General Nicola Ivanov, 'Average'), was near enough to hear the sound of the guns as the Battle of Nicatiye opened, one sunny October forenoon.

He might instead have elected to lay siege to one of the provincial towns close to the border, or independently have sought out the Turcowaz Army regardless of his colleague's plans and moves. Displaying a spirited burst of active cooperation apparently alien to his usual character (only a roll of '6' on a D6 would have had this result) he not only acted in concert with IInd Army, but, when the guns to the south began to rumble, at once ordered the 'march to the guns'.   (See Second Week moves).

Battlefield of Nicatiye.  Chervenia II Army approaches
 from the West (top), Turcowaz from the East (bottom)...

In the above map, the Chervenian IInd Army approach from the top (begin deployed in the first row of squares; whilst the Turcowaz are arrayed along the bottom row. The approach of Chervenian IIIrd Army is from the north, that is to say, the right side of the map, within a couple of squares of Kuleli village.
View from behind Turcowaz lines, looking west.

The Armies:

Chervenia IInd Army:
  • Command: General Nicola Ivanov (Average) = 6SP
  • 5 Infantry Regiments (8th - 12th, Trained) @4SP = 20SP
  • 4 Infantry Regiments (16th-19th, Green) @4SP = 16SP
  • 1 Machine Gun detachment (2nd, Trained) = 2SP
  • 2 Cavalry Regiments (3rd, Trained; 5th, Green) @3SP = 6SP
  • 2 Field Gun Battalions (3rd, 4th, Trained) @2SP = 4SP
  • 1 Heavy Gun Battalion (7th) = 2SP
  • 2 Transport Columns (3rd, 4th) @1SP = 2SP
Totals: 18 units, median 9.  58 Strength Points, exhaustion point -20.

Chervenia IIIrd Army:

  • Command: General Radko Dimitriev (Poor) = 6SP
  • 1 Infantry Regiment (3rd Royal Guard, Veteran) = 4SP
  • 3 Infantry Regiments (13th, 14th, 15th, Trained) @4SP = 12SP
  • 2 Infantry Regiments (20th, 21st, Green) @4SP = 8SP
  • 1 Machine Gun detachment (3rd, Trained) = 2SP
  • 1 Cavalry Regiment (4th, Trained) = 3SP
  • 1 Field Artillery Battalion (5th, Trained) = 2SP
  • 1 Transport Column (5th) = 1SP
Totals: 11 units, median 6-1=5.  38 SP, exhaustion point -13.

Turcowaz Third Army:
  • Command: Abdullah Pasha (Average) = 6SP
  • 1 Infantry (5th, Veteran) = 4SP
  • 3 Infantry (11th, 17th, 18th, Trained) @4SP = 12SP
  • 6 Infantry (29th-34th Bashi-Bazouk, Green) @4SP = 24SP
  • 1 Cavalry Regiment (5th Bashi-Bazouk, Green) = 3SP
  • 1 Field Artillery Battalion (5th, Trained) = 2SP
  • 1 Medium Artillery Battalion (6th, Trained) = 2SP
  • 2 Transport Columns (5th, 6th) @1SP = 2SP
Totals: 16 units, median 8.  55 SP, exhaustion point -19.

(A side note:  Owing to a staff error, Abdullah Pasha was commanding the wrong army: it should have been the Second; and the Third, under Ali Riza Pasha, to have been the one posted in North Macedonia. It was only after the War had been declared was the error noted. There was nothing for it but to carry on as things were, and to visit upon the staff officer responsible such admonishments as events might suggest.)

As if by mutual consent, both sides began their advances on the flanks. Early on Turcowaz troops seized the Kuzuku village, the ridge alongside and the orchard nearby.  They also occupied Nicatiye, close by the river.  On the far (northern) bank, the 29th and 30th 'Bashi-Bazouk' Regiments lost the race for Kuleli.  A quick attempt to carry the place met a swift rebuff, whereat the Bashi-Bazouks withdrew out of rifle range. There was no escape from Chervenian gunfire, however, which meant an uncomfortable day for the Turcowaz north of the river.

Their centre having to negotiate a tangled tract of country of steep hills, marshy vales and forest, the Chervenians were reduced to somewhat piecemeal attacks against Kuzuku.  Third cavalry made several charges against the Turcowaz 18th Regiment on the ridge, on one occasion even forcing the enemy right off the feature.  But the absence of infantry to consolidate this success permitted the 18th twice to retake lost ground.  

Meanwhile, infantry attacks against the village hardly dented the garrison's defences. Awkwardly placed with ridge and marshlands to the flank front made the place difficult to come at. Following up 16th Infantry's attacks, 17th (Chervenia) entered the marsh, but the open ground to their front being covered by 34th Turcowaz from the orchard, were forced to settle down to a firefight, rather than to press forward to close combat.

Already losses on the Chervenian side in this sector were becoming worrying, especially in the light of the whole of the Turcowaz artillery drawn up in battery - with Abdullah Pasha at hand to supervise.  It grew very uncomfortable in the swamp for 17th Chervenia. That discomfort was not ameliorated by the advent of the veteran 5th Turcowaz swinging to the left to engage the 17th in flank at medium range. The Chervenian attempt to bring up his machine guns was frustrated by enemy gunfire that put paid to half the detachment, and the intervening ground being (potentially) swept by flanking rifle fire discouraged their coming forward. Unless and until reinforcements could be fed through the wild country in the centre, the whole situation on this part of the field the Chervenians were finding frustrating altogether.

Not so on the northern flank. At fairly trifling cost (1SP) the Chervenians (11th and 12th infantry, backed by 5th Cavalry) were holding off the enemy infantry without trouble, helped by gunfire from the heavy and field batteries across the river. It was plain that the outnumbered and out-trained Bashi-Bazouks could not hold.  Falling back, 29th Turcowaz found there was no shelter in the lee of the low hill east of Kuleli from the advanced field artillery that had established themselves on the rising ground a short distance from Nicatiye.

Lacking targets north of the river, the Chervenian heavy guns began playing upon the railway station at Nicatiye itself, soon forcing the 11th Turcowaz to evacuate the place.  Hit; retreat - pointless sticking around just to be shot at.  The garrison commander figured upon re-entering the village when and if the place came under direct threat - which for the moment at any rate didn't look like developing, for a while at least.

For a considerable time, the Turcowaz found themselves for the most part on the defensive, and the Chervenians lacking the strength, it seemed, to make good on attacks. In the absence of any pressure upon their centre, 5th Infantry, followed by the 11th were able to swing towards the left, where their flanking firepower discouraged the Chervenian attacks upon Kuzuku.  Thirty-fourth Turcowaz Infantry drove 17th Chervenia out of their swamp, which sufficiently emboldened the sole Turcowaz cavalry regiment to join the front line. 
The place of the 11th was taken over by 31st Bashi-Bazouks, supported by the 32nd, in the lee of Nicatiye Station, which tended rather to complicate the Chervenian situation on the other side of the river.

It was becoming apparent, though, that if Chervenia were to enjoy any success, something should happen on this flank, where they had a sufficient preponderance of strength.  Rifle fire had forced 30th Bashi-Bazouk out of range, to a point that was masked from Chervenian artillery by Nicatiye village.    
By this time, seven turns having gone by, General Ivanov must have been informed of the approach of IIIrd Army from the north. From almost the moment he had been informed of the sound of gunfire to the south, General Radko Dimitriev had ordered his army to march to the guns. Once fairly under way, he despatched a reliable aide-de-camp to discover the whereabouts of the action and to inform Ivanov that help was on the way.  

For their part, not wishing to have the enemy interfere with the arrival of approaching friends, the Chervenians at last emerged from their village to drive back the weakening and depleted 29th and 30th Turcowaz. Losses were heavy on both sides, but much the heavier on the Turcowaz (5SPs to 3). Having begun the drive, the Chervenians continued to press until at last 29th, then 30th, disintegrated and fled from the field.

All the while, the Chervenians on the south flank were struggling to bring forward reinforcements and supporting weaponry. As the 34th Bashi-Bouzouk began to line the edge of the marsh, the machineguns at last found a target. The only time in the whole battle they got to shoot, and it was woeful: three 'ones' shown. Shortly afterwards return fire was to drive the whole detachment back out of range. They were never to get another chance to do damage.  

By this time, 9th Chervenia had at last joined the general action - enough from their wooded position to distract the Turcowaz infantry that had been galling the inner flank of the Chervenians in front of Kuzuku. It was probably too late. Losses among 16th and 17th Chervenia had been prohibitively heavy, and except north of the river, the whole offensive was beginning to flag.

Well over four hours had gone by (9 Turns) when at last the leading elements of IIIrd Chervenian Army began to flood onto the field along the Kuleli road - four infantry regiments, and 3rd Machine-gun detachment, accompanied by General Dimitriev in person. Having by now driven off the Turcowaz north of the river, 11th and 12th infantry from II Army were lining the riverbank to engage the enemy elements behind Nicatiye. But it was already plain that the depleted 11th Infantry could not for much longer sustain its position in the firing line.   

Very soon they fell back, still retaining its order, leaving the 12th in a lone firefight until it should be relieved by IIIrd Army units. Sure enough, the 12th fell back, with just 50% of its strength still in action. Their losses, along with those sustained all along the front were enough to exhaust the offensive capability of the whole IInd Army. It was certain theirs had been somewhat heavier than their opponents'.
Their relief was soon enough achieved, as 14th and 15th took up the action. Third Royal Guard and 13th Infantry pushed towards the bridge, the plan being to assault the Nicatiye village from the west, whilst the machine gun detachment engaged the enemy from the north bank.  The exhausted IInd Army continued to support as much as it could by fire action the IIIrd Army offensive.  

For their part, 33rd Bashi-Bazouk Infantry emerged from Agayeri village, to join their brethren of 31st and 32nd, engaging the enemy across the river.   Thirty-first had entered Nicatiye, whilst 11th Infantry occupied the woods nearby.  This brought them rather close to enemy occupying a steep hill a short distance to the southwest, calling upon 5th Infantry to deal with them. Though they were still capable of counter-action, there were signs the Turcowaz army was beginning to tire.  And 31st Bashi-Bazouks were finding billets in Nicatiye uncomfortable, with small arms and machine gun fire incoming from the north, and gunfire from the west.  

The imminent attack from enemy infantry was enough to persuade 31st Bashi-Bazouk to leave the village, and evacuation that the Chervenians were in no position to exploit at once. To come at the village, they had first to clear the woods to the right of it. Into the woods went 13th Infantry, driving out the enemy, as 3rd Royal Guards swung onto the town.    

With a final effort, a counter-attack by 11th and 31st Turcowaz halved the strength of 13th Chervenia, but that success came at considerable cost.  Turcowaz Third Army had depleted its offensive power.  In anticipation of this, Abdullah had not long before ordered the gradual retreat of the army, beginning on the left, with the Bashi-Bazouks lining the riverbank as a combined flank and rear guard. Despite the pressure, this rearguard action held the line until it became clear that the whole of the Turcowaz army could get off.

For all the fine performance put up by some of its units, especially the poor Bashi-Bazouks, there was no question that this was a significant Turcowaz reverse. After the series of victories in the west, this defeat in the east bade fair to undo them all. Yet in his report to the Sultan, Abdullah Pasha was inclined to take the optimistic view: a tactical defeat, yes, but, given the odds against his army, not a total loss. He had damaged one of the Chervenian armies, at least.

The casualty lists told at least some of the story:

Chervenia IInd Army: 58,000 strong, lost 11,000 (22SP, against E.P. of -20)
Chervenia IIIrd Army: 38,000 strong, lost 2000 (4SP, against E.P of -13)

Turcowaz Third army: 55,000 strong, lost 10,000 (20SP against E.P. of -19)

The defeated, exhausted Turcowaz had but one reasonable option: to save the capital, and retreat into Ionople. Joined with its garrison, at least that vital centre would be impervious to attack, at least for the time being.
Nicatiye Station falls...
For the Chervenians, their tactical victory might yet turn into a strategic defeat. IInd Army had been badly enough mauled that further operations had to be deferred by that army to refit and reorganise. Back to South Chervenia it would go. That left the much weaker IIIrd Army in East Thrace. Far too small to take on Ionople, what might this army do otherwise? Attack or besiege one of the East Thrace provincial centres?  Adrianople, was a likely target. The garrison was small enough that it might be overcome by a coup-de-main. Perhaps instead march through West Thrace and on into Salonika, where the Hellenic army was in pursuit of  the fourth Turcowaz army? Decisions, decisions; General Radko Dimitriev was not the most imaginative or decisive of commanders...

To be continued... Week Three.

Post Scriptum:
So much for note taking:  I forgot in the main report to mention that a late counter-battery strike by Chervenian field artillery had knocked out some of the Turcowaz field artillery, where Abdullah Pasha was standing. A small piece of jagged metal struck the army commander in the chest, breaking a collarbone, and inflicting a moderately serious wound (rolled a '3' for severity).  Carried from the field, he accompanied the army's retreat, and a brigade commander took over command.