Saturday, January 30, 2021

First Blacklands War: Convoy

A week after breaking out from the Dardanelles Strait, the protected cruiser TNS Hamidiye was lurking far to the south in the open Mesogesean Sea, and heading further south, past the small island of Kassos.  As luck would have it - there seemed no other explanation for the fortuitous encounter - as the Hamidiye came clear of the island, its lookouts at once spied, at no great distance to the southeast where it had been previously masked by the island, a small Hellenic convoy, heading due west.  Obviously those ships would soon have altered course to pass through the strait between Kassos and Creta, thence on to Piraefs, the port of Athenae.   

It was 'Helm aport!' at once aboard the Hamidiye.  The convoy comprised four vessels, the armed merchant cruiser SS Iphaisteio, and 3 unarmed merchantmen.  Slow as these lumbering vessels were, there was little hope in outrunning the faster light cruiser.  Commanding the convoy aboard Iphaisteio, Commander Yiannis Xiphias at once ordered the convoy to alter course to the south, and, steering his own vessel such as to bring his broadside guns within range, made for the rapidly closing enemy.

This was something of an indulgence: I simply wanted to 'do' a HMS Jervis Bay type of action. To be sure, it could go but one way, but what the hang, eh? As it happens, Paul Jackson had stopped by to have a look at my newly acquired Turing Tumble toy (a birthday present six weeks early), and I thought I'd rope him in to the action commanding the commerce raider.

Here are the Stats;
Turcowaz: Captain Rauf Orbay:
Speed: 3 hex maximum.
Hellenia: Commander Yannis Xiphias:
SS Iphaesteio   Flotation 6/1 Main Broadside  3  2  2  1  x
                                               Main Fore/Aft   1  1  1  1  x
                                               2-dary B/side     1  1  1  1  x
SS Ithaca         Flotation 6/1  Unarmed
SS Skythios      Flotation 4/1  Unarmed
SS Lefkada      Flotation 4/1   Unarmed

(I had the EXCEL file copied in fine, but, discovering a slight error, corrected the file, then tried to replace with the correction.  Of course it wouldn't 'take'.  What did I expect?)

In a change to the original Gridded Naval Wargames I made all merchant vessels' speed 2-hexes maximum.  I figured that if they could match the raiders' speed, the chances of their escape were just too high. I also decreed that a vessel whose Flotation Points (Value) had been reduced to 0, was not sunk, but became salvageable, perhaps, given time, by its own crew.

I actually made one other change - actually a mistake - but I'm inclined to think not an unreasonable one.

The encounter occurring about early to mid-afternoon, I gave the raider 15 turns to do whatever damage he could

So to the action:  SS Iphaisteio at once took on the enemy raider.  As the range rapidly closed, the Hellenic vessel altered course to the southwest to bring both its main and secondary broadsides to bear at maximum range. She even got off the first salvo, but without effect. As it transpired that was her last. Hamidiye's immediate reply started fires along the main deck, but, more seriously opened a large hole along the waterline. Winning the initiative thereafter, Hamidiye's next salvo effectively knocked out the forward gun turret, and two more hits left the escort cruiser dead in the water, a flaming wreck.
Of course, I ought to have allowed Iphaisteio a last salvo, and a lucky hit might have done enough damage to permit the convoy to scatter and get away.  At any rate, her fight was over, now.  Hamidiye might have stayed a few minutes longer to finish the job, but instead at once set off due south to haul in SS Ithaca.  That vessel hadn't got very far, and Hamidiye rapidly closed the range to point blank. Two salvoes were enough to send the merchant ship to the bottom. 
By this time, the smaller merchant ships had made off to the southeast. SS Skiathos was also soon overhauled. Making its best speed past that vessel Hamidiye sent in a couple of salvoes that also reduced Skiathos into a flaming raft. The raider then set off after the single remaining vessel of the convoy. Narrowing the distance to about medium range, Hamidiye sent after the fleeing SS Lefkados a salvo that scored a minor hit somewhere aft.
By this time, the afternoon was far advanced - perhaps 9 or more turns having passed by. The sun beginning to fade behind the Mesogesean early evening haze, Captain Rauf Orbay chose to retrace its steps and finish off the floating wrecks left behind.  At his approach, the crew of Skiathos hastily took to their lifeboats, whereat a single salvo finished off the vessel.
Then came the long haul back to the flaming Iphaisteio.  That vessel died hard.  In the gathering twilight, the flames might have helped the raider's aim.  But it was to take three salvoes, the last at point blank range, finally to sink the gallant escort cruiser.  
By then, of course, SS Lefkados had got clean away to the open sea and into the night.  Captain Rauf Orbay declined to order a pursuit, but himself took his ship southward, away from the islands, after which he planned a short visit to the Peloponnesos.  The sinking of three quarters of a convoy, and damaging the rest, would look well on his report to the Admiralty...

Well, perhaps not the most exciting naval action, and getting the lumbering merchant ships to scatter turned out to be a deal harder than I thought, but had Turcowaz naval gunnery aboard Hamidiye been less formidable early on (in one salvo, he rolled 3 'sixes' for hits), maybe one more vessel could have escaped.

For his part, Paul was so enthused by the action, that he resolved to build a small navy of his own.  Last Tuesday evening, whilst I added two more torpedo boat/ destroyers to each of my Hellenic (Leon and Aetos) and Turcowaz (S167 Numune and S168 Gayret) fleets, and made a start of a second Hydra class vessel, Paul put together a small freighter, and a destroyer-sized warship that might stand for destroyer, armed trawler or perhaps a minelayer/ minesweeper.

Something about the rule set.

I'll take the time here to discuss something about the original Gridded Naval Wargames 'Pre-Dreadnought' rules, in particular how Flotation Points (FPs) are assigned. The author, Bob Cordery, determined the FP by type of vessel. Quite arbitrary, but perfectly reasonable. However, I noticed a considerable disparity of weight between coastal battleships Hydra and Mesudiye, even though their dimensions of length and beam were fairly comparable, and their designations - coastal defence battleship - the same.  

It seems Mesudiye displaced roughly double the tonnage of Hydra. Now, I have in a different (simple) rule set, determined that FP might be geared to displacement, some of that weight assumed to be going towards armour.  But the method I used for that 'other' rule set simply wouldn't work here. After a deal of playing around with numbers I came up with this:

FP = √W
Where W is the tonnage of the vessel. Yes, this is quite arbitrary, but, the result, rounded, is designed to accommodate the size of vessels from, say, 500 tons (or even less) to well over 10,000.  It seems to 'fit' pretty well.
The outcome is to increase the FP slightly for the larger ships, but let us see what it looks like for my Blacklands War navies:

Lemnos - modern pre-Dreadnought.  Tonnage = 13,000  FP = 23 CP = 6
Georgios Averof - armoured cruiser.  Tonnage = 10,000 FP = 20 CP = 5
Hydra - coastal battleship.  Tonnage = 4000 FP = 13 CP = 3
Panthir Class - destroyer.  Tonnage = 880 FP = 6 CP = 1.

Turgut Reis - older pre-Dreadnought. Tonnage = 10,000  FP = 20 CP = 5
Mesudiye - coastal battleship.  Tonnage = 9000 FP = 19 CP = 4
Hamidiye - protected cruiser. Tonnage = 4000 FP = 13 CP = 3
Muavenet  class - destroyer.  Tonnage = 700 FP = 5 CP = 1.

At the moment, the Turcowaz fleet looks the more powerful, but the addition of a second 'Hydra' (call it Psara) will go to equalising them.

I have yet to test this suggested system.  That might have to wait for a 'Second Blacklands War'...

Thursday, January 28, 2021

First Blacklands War - Battle of Vladicin Han (2)

The action as we left it in the previous post.

We left the narrative last time with the action having reached a momentary deadlock: both flanks stalled, and in the centre the battle raging for the ridge just southwest of Vladicin Han. Stranded on account of the field battery between themselves and a safe retreat, 5th Bejelan Infantry found themselves flailed by incoming rifle fire from the ridge and from the woods overlooking their left flank.

For their part, their opponents of the veteran Turcowaz 3rd Infantry, were finding their position equally uncomfortable: field artillery to their immediate rear along the ridge, and another flanking them astride the road as it turned westward behind the high ground.

The field of battle.

The imminence of 5th Infantry's disintegration persuaded General Bojovic to withdraw the field artillery from before the town, back across the bridge. The 'golden bridge' thus provided, 5th Infantry - such as remained (1SP) soon availed themselves of it. Their place taken by 6th Infantry, the enemy Turcowaz on the hill were not long to enjoy their victory. Once the Bejelan Medium Artillery joined in, and the 1st Field redeployed into battery action, their combined weight battered the Turcowaz artillery into silence. 
Overall view...

At first abandoning the position, they tried to reoccupy their battery position along the ridgeline, only to lose more horses, personnel and guns.  
9th Turcowaz Infantry and 2nd Cavalry sideslipping
to their right to prevent any crossing via the railway
bridge. 10th infantry occupy the woods flanking the road

Then it was the turn of the Turcowaz medium artillery, but it was not long before they too shared the fate of their lighter brethren - knocked to pieces by double their strength of shellfire, and shredded by machinegun and rifle fire from across the road. Third Infantry remained alone on the ridge, reduced to a third of the strength with which they began. From the cultivated fields adjoining the town, 6th Infantry at last nerved themselves for an assault upon the elevated position.
Bejelan 8th and 9th Infantry arriving;
1st Fld Arty withdrawing to the east side of the river.
Unfortunately, it seems I chose this moment to let the excitement of the action take over, and forgot to take pictures. Sixth Bejela Infantry swept over the ridge and the remnants of 3rd Turcowaz, and onto the flank of 2nd Field Artillery, which had shortly before silenced their counterparts across the river. Fighting desperately. the gunners almost fought off their opponents, but, already weakened by past battles, they too were finally overrun.

Having cleared the high ground, 6th Bejela
Infantry strike Turcowaz field artillery in flank

Their centre driven in, the Turcowaz Army had little more to offer by way of counter-action. On the right, the silencing of the enemy artillery beside the railway bridge brought 9th Turcowaz onto the hill opposite, to engage 4th Bejela by distant rifle fire.  The cavalry were on hand to discourage the enemy 2nd and 4th from crossing.  The situation in this sector remained deadlocked.
Firefight near the railway bridge, but the 
Turcowaz centre had been driven in.

Events were taking a turn for the better for Bejela along the Monastir Road, as well. Third Bejela Infantry got the better of its musketry duel with 25th Bashi-Bazouks. Driven back into the woods, the cover therein availed them nothing. Within a short time, the unit disintegrated. Behind them, 15th and 16th Infantry had lined the woods overlooking the road, but seemed unable or unwilling to help out their irregular comrades. 

The fact is, in this battle, the martial shortcomings of Ali Riza Pasha became painfully apparent. In his previous battles, he had been fortunate in his initiative and activation dice rolls. Not this time. In initiative he was probably out-rolled two to one, or close to it. But his initiative rolls were woeful. With a minus for his ability rating, half his rolls at least must have been low, and I remember but one high roll, and that late in the day. His far more 'able' counterpart, General Bojovic, rolled rather more than his fair share of high activation rolls, again especially as the battle wore on. When you can activate 9 units for your opponent's 6, matters are likely to go fairly well, even when they have gone ill hitherto...

Bejelan forces regroup into line: 2nd and 4th 
Infantry lining the east side of the river; that
line continued on the opposite bank by 8th and 6th.
If Ali Riza lacked something in the handling of his army, he was not wanting in courage. As enemy infantry triumphantly advanced down the road, the Pasha joined 15th Infantry to oppose them, throwing them between the oncoming Bejelans and the baggage train just beginning to pull out. In the close quarter battle that ensued, twice did bullets pass through his attire (twice I had to roll for risk to his person), but he remained unruffled and unhurt. Eventually the Turcowaz held, and 6th Bejela Infantry pulled back to the high ground. There they might have remained, as the Turcowaz Army was clearly beyond any further offensive action. Unfortunately for them, they came under renewed fire from 10th Turcowaz in the woods on the other side of the road. Already much diminished during the course of its attacks, 6th Bejela disappeared from the high ground and scattered. Thereafter, the Turcowaz Army pulled back to form a rather tenuous line some distance south of the ridgeline they had earlier occupied.

The 6th Bejelan Infantry scattered by rifle fire; but
the Turcowaz Army reforms a thin -
 and gunless! - line to the south

Close of the action: the Turcowaz draw off, 
Bejelans too exhausted to pursue...
Having cleared the high ground and woods lining the southern side or the Monastir Road and forced back Second Turcowaz Army, the Bejelans had won an undoubted victory. The 37,000-strong Turcowaz, though defeated, were not, however, routed, and were able to draw off in good order. Even so, the loss had been grievous: 8000 casualties (16SP, halved) and its artillery decimated (all 4SPs lost).  

According to none other than Carl von Clausewitz, there are times at which the cost of victory may be such as to compel a retreat.  Such was the case, as General Bojovic surveyed the damage.  His army (46,000) had also lost some guns (2SP worth), though fewer than had the enemy, but all of 8,500 (17SP, halved) dead, wounded and missing.  There would be no march to Monastir, no summons to surrender, no siege.  Resting upon the field overnight, his exhausted army began the next day their weary march back to Vardar Province. By some miracle, Ali Riza Pasha had in defeat pulled off something approximating a strategic victory... 

To be continued:  Convoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

First Blacklands War - Battle of Vladicin Han

The events of the first month of the First Blacklands War had on the whole gone well for the Turcowaz Empire. Though battered by several invasions, the Turcowaz armies, against all expectation, had beaten them back. No Hellenican or Chervenian now stood on Imperial soil; the Black Mountains and Bejelan forces, their invasions already repulsed, were each attempting a second. The Black Mountains had the remote and isolated city of Scutari under a none-too-secure siege, and the Bejelans, having consolidated their two badly mauled armies into one, were marching south, through Vardar, into Northern Macedonia, in the hope of taking Monastir City, the provincial capital.

Situation and moves, first week of November

By now, a degree of mutual exhaustion seemed to be settling over the whole conflict. During the first week of November, two of Chervenia's armies were retreating into their own country for rest and recuperation, as was Hellenica's sole army after their defeat at Kozani. Indeed, the Hellenic government of Ephtherios Overzelos was beginning to wonder whether the campaign was worth continuing. Embarrassed in one naval action and worsted in two subsequently, the campaign at sea was going as badly as that on land. Now a fast Turcowaz commerce raider - ITS Hamidiye - was at large in the Eastern Mesogesean Sea.  
Battlefield of Vladicin Han.  

For their part, however, the Turcowaz armies were, too, becoming badly worn down.  Having seen off the Hellenes, Second Army had to turn about, retrace its steps and attempt to take on the freshly reconstituted Bejelan Army. So far Ali Riza Pasha, not known for his martial capacity, had performed well above expectations with two victories to his credit. Could he pull off a third?

After the mauling received near East Thrace, Fourth Army was retreating to Salonika. The equally damaged First Army was abandoning its raid into South Chervenia.  Apprehending a contact with an Army issuing forth from Sofia, Nazim Pasha elected at once to retire into Rhodope, rather than take the longer route into North Macedonia. Probably that was just as well, for he might well have run into the much more powerful Bejelan force, or even the Ist Chervenian Army marching from Sofia.  For the moment, and for the next fortnight, only the Second and Third Armies would be available for operations. There was certainly no prospect of relieving Scutari at any time soon. Turcowaz was scarcely better off than the Allies.

General view of the battlefied, looking northwest, 
as the heads of the armies march up.

With most of the armies of both sides retreating, or marking time, the only battle of note to begin November took place in Northern Macedonia.  The Bejelan Army had taken the route to Vladicin Han, a small town but important crossroads, whence the west road would carry the army to Monastir.  It was to intercept the Bejelan Army that Ali Riza Pasha directed his own forces thereto.
Head of the Tucowaz column.

The Second Turcowaz Army comprised this order of march:

Turn 1:
  • 2nd Cavalry (trained) = 3SP
  • 3rd Infantry (veteran) = 3SP
  • 3rd Field Artillery (trained) @ 1SP with Army Command @6SP = 7SP
  • 26th Bashi-Bazouk Infantry (green) = 4SP
Turn 2:
  • 9th Infantry (trained) = 3SP
  • 10th Infantry (trained) = 3SP
  • 4th Field Artillery (trained) = 1SP
  • 15th Infantry (trained) = 3SP
Turn 3: 
  • 16th Infantry (trained) = 3SP
  • 7th Medium Artillery (trained) = 2SP
  • 3rd Transport Column = 1SP
  • 4th Transport Column = 1SP
Turn 4: 
  • 25th Bashi-Bazouk Infantry = 3SP
  • 14 Units: Median 7-1 ('Poor' general) = 6 Activation Points
  • 37 Strength Points: Exhaustion Point = -13SP
Head of the Bejela Column.

They had a formidable foe to face, the Bejelan Army comprising:

Turn 1:
  • 1st Cavalry (trained) = 2SP
  • 2nd Infantry (trained) = 4SP
  • 3rd Infantry (trained) = 4SP
  • 1st Machine Gun Company (trained) @ 1SP plus Command @6SP = 7SP
Turn 2:
  • 1st Field Artillery (trained) = 2SP
  • 4th Infantry (trained) = 4SP
  • 5th Infantry (trained) = 4SP
  • 6th Infantry (trained) = 4SP
Turn 3:
  • 2nd Field Artillery (trained) = 2SP
  • 10th Medium Artillery (trained) = 2SP
  • 1st Transport Column (pack horses/ mules) = 1SP
  • 2nd Transport Column (pack horses/ mules) = 1SP
  • 3rd Transport Column (carts and wagons) = 1SP
Turn 4:
  • 8th Infantry (green) = 4SP
  • 9th Infantry (green) = 4SP
  • 16 Units: Median = 8 + 1 ('Good' General) = 9
  • 46 Strength Points: Exhaustion Point -16EP.

Bejela occupies the town...

Route march along a road gave an extra movement allowance to all troops provided the entire move was along the road. I made no allowance for the proper depth or intervals of individual units, and even allowed two units into the same grid area if they could fit (not possible with the horse drawn units of course). As the columns stretched along 12 grid areas of road or thereabouts, I figured that was enough to represent our route marches. On reflection, though, it might have been more 'realistic' to allow but one unit, of any type, onto 1 road hex whilst on the march - a thought for another time, perhaps.
... as the rest of the column moves up behind.

The successive sections of troops off table but following on from the first arrivals, did not require activation to enter the table, it being assumed that the route march was their 'default' state. Once having arrived, though, then they did require activation. This method permitted a fairly rapid deployment of the heads of the columns, which would be slowed as the reinforcements arrived.  
Move 2, and the Turcowaz column has yet to deploy.

So it was that armies clashed at the crucial crossroads around Vladicin Han, the Turcowaz arriving just in time to intercept the invaders. The heads of the Turcowaz column quickly seized the ridge southwest of the town, at the moment the leading Bejelan units were entering the place, the cavalry exiting by the south road. The Turcowaz cavalry covered this move by charging their counterparts and chasing them into and beyond the town.  
Turcowaz seizes the ridge and lines it with 
infantry and field guns.

The following Bejelan units were more circumspect. Second Infantry lined the riverbank whence they could bring under fire the southern approach road and eastern end of the ridge beyond.  The 3rd passed through the town to take up positions in a small wood to the west, whilst the machine gun company established itself in the fields close by the built up area. First Field artillery took up a battery position upon the outskirts of the town facing the ridge, whilst 5th Infantry carried on through to clear the pass between ridge and river - the victorious Turcowaz cavalry having withdrawn, betimes. Forcing 9th Turcowaz Infantry back beyond the bend that took the south road behind the ridge, the 5th turned to flank the ridge itself, where stood the veterans of 3rd Turcowaz Infantry. 
Bejela establishes a bridgehead about the town. 
Although their cavalry have taken a drubbing,
the Army extends the bridgehead west and south.

The ensuing firefight between 3rd Turcowaz and 5th Bejela proved costly to both sides - neither able to retreat on account of obstructions behind them. Meanwhile, both sides extended their lines to both flanks. Led by 25th Bashi-Bazouks, 15th and 16th Infantry penetrated the wood west of the main ridge, overlooking the Monastir road. The Bashi-Bazouks actually reached that road and began advancing along it towards Vladicin Han itself.  Flanked by 3rd Bejela Infantry and faced by machine guns, that advance was quickly halted. The Bashi-Bazouks fell back with some loss.
The battle develops...

To the east, 2nd and 4th Bejela lined the riverbank either side of the railway bridge.  Unwilling themselves to make the crossing, they awaited the approach of the enemy.  So far, nowhere along its length, was the river found to be fordable (This was decided by a die roll for every river grid edge except where there was a bridge, a 'six' revealing a ford.  Do you know, for not one of the ten river edges, did I roll a 'six'.  As the onus of effecting crossings came down upon the Bejelans, that rather cramped their style... a little).  The enemy were, however, content in this sector of the field to maintain a watching brief.
Firefight! 3rd Turcowaz vs 5th Bejela
Ninth Turcowaz Infantry and the cavalry stood at a distance from the railway bridge, ready to contest the crossing. The Bejelans brought up a field battery in support of 4th Infantry, but soon found themselves caught up in an artillery duel with Turcowaz field guns standing between the main ridge and 9th Turcowaz's wood.  
Both sides pinned down in the centre...
For a time, so matters stood: a small, but bloody, battle taking place at the east end of the ridge, the Turcowaz flanking move from the west stopped and driven back, and the Bejelan left flank waiting along the riverbank. Losses had so far redounded to the advantage of Turcowaz, but not so much as to offer a predictor of victory... 
Event slow to develop on the flanks...

To Be Continued...

Monday, January 4, 2021

First Blacklands war - Siege of Scutari

This will be a brief posting, just a reminder that, for the last week of October, the Black Mountains Army has been besieging the city of Scutari, in Northern Abiloni, near the Adriatic Sea coast. I needed some very simple rules for the siege, which had to include the possibility of surrender, but also the chance of the garrison attempting a sortie, or the besiegers attempting a storm.  

The besiegers do not greatly outnumber the garrison; so a coup de main seems unlikely. What I have decided is that, failing a relief - unlikely for quite a while - each week I would roll a D6 die. On a '6', something will happen.  A second roll goes something like this:

  1. Garrison surrenders
  2. Garrison attempts a sortie
  3. Starvation and pestilence in the City! Garrison loses 1-3 SP (determined by die roll)
  4. Pestilence in the camp! Besiegers lose 1-3 SP (determined by die roll)
  5. Besiegers attempt a coup de main.
  6. Betrayal! A traitor leaves open a gate to allow besiegers in.  Besiegers attempt a storm, with 1-3 SP inside the city walls.
If anything happens that leads to a fight, the table will look like this...

Now, the forces involved in this siege comprise:

Black Mountains Army:
  • Command, General Zrnov and staff (average) = 6SP
  • 2nd Infantry (trained) = 4SP
  • 3rd Infantry (trained) = 3SP (This unit upgraded from 'green').
  • 4th Infantry (green) = 4SP
  • 1st Artillery Regiment = 2SP
  • Transport column = 1SP

    6 Units, Median 3*.
    20SP, exhaustion point -7SP
Turcowaz Garrison
  • Command, (average) = 6SP
  • 2 Infantry units (green) @ 4SP = 8SP
  • 1 Garrison Artillery = 2SP

    4 Units, Median 2*
    16SP, exhaustion point -6SP

* Note: The numbers of units being so small, each may be split up into stands of 1 or 2 SPs, as hinted by the diagram map.  This will alter the unit and activation counts, with no adjustment to SP or exhaustion point. So, if, apart from the command element, all units are split up into 1SP stands, then:

Turcowaz have 1 command, 8 infantry, 2 artillery - 11 units, median 6.

Black Mountains have 1 command, 11 infantry, 2 artillery and 1 transport - 15 units, median 8. 

However, one or either army might choose to retain some units with 2SP.

I have to admit, that apart from dicing for events in the first week - a '2', so nothing happened - I haven't play tested any assaults. I'll leave the excitement for when it turns up!

To be continued:  Week 5 - the beginning of November.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

First Blacklands War: The War at Sea - Battle of Tekke Koyu (2)

The arrival of the Hellenic battleship HNS Lemnos and the destroyer HNS Aetos complicated matters for Admiral Basmati Reis. About to cross the 'T' of the HNS Leon and HNS Spetsai pair, TNS Muhtesem found itself caught between two fires. Ordering the forward main turret to engage Lemnos, Sea-Captain Kaplan Zambak maintained the vessel's major action against Spetsai. A lucky shot from the very first salvo from the fore turret knocked out a gun from the Lemnos fore turret, for no damage - yet - in reply. As the opposing courses of Muhtesem and Lemnos soon brought them abeam of each other, the former's after turret swung round to engage the more powerful Hellenic battleship.
At the same time, the pair of Turcowaz destroyers darted in upon the larboard side of Lemnos, engaging Aetos with gun fire, and unleashing patterns of torpedoes at effective range against the larger target.  Aetos took a critical hit, but worse was to come. Two torpedoes slammed into the battleship's port side.  
But Lemnos had been handing out a few licks of its own.  Three shells struck Muhtesem, two along the waterline, punching large holes and starting fires.  The ironclad's return shooting did some minor damage to Lemnos and to Leon.  The duel between Hayreddin Barbarossa and Spetsai ought to have been heavily weighted in favour of the Turcowaz battleship, Spetsai having lost its starboard side main gun.  Yet both scored a single hit only.  Unfortunately for the Hellenic vessel, the after turret was now knocked out, leaving the vessel with just the larboard main gun.

The battle was rapidly developing into a free-for-all melee, but the Hellenic ships were having an appalling run of luck with their main armaments being knocked out. The torpedo damage proved especially serious for Lemnos, flooding several compartments, and starting fires that rapidly spread too close to the turret magazines. The forward main turret was finally knocked out, but the after turret went the same way.

NOTE: It seemed to me plausible that a torpedo hit might compromise a gun turret, though I am 
considering a different treatment for torpedo hits in future. At any rate, in assessing the damage, I drew two queens, a red and a black (you wouldn't read about it, except maybe here!). The red queen finished off the forward turret.  The black signified a hit on the after turret. A die roll determined the damage: odds, one gun knocked out; evens, both guns knocked out. The die roll was a '6'. HNS Lemnos was now altogether without its primary armament.

By now, the damage to Leon was such as to leave that destroyer in no case to continue the fight. It began to creep off to the west.  Turning away from Lemnos, Muhtesem placed itself between Spetsai and Leon.  For their part, the Turcowaz destroyers swung onto a course sou'east by south, which placed them astern of LemnosHayreddin Barbarossa found itself between Lemnos and Spetsai, but able to engage the latter with only its after secondary guns.  So far, as ordered, Hamidiye was staying out of the battle, but was coming under the attention of Aetos, and still in range of Lemnos's forward lighter armament.
The Turcowaz gunnery from Muhtesem was remarkably improved.  The larboard 5.9-inch broadside settled accounts with Leon, which, screws still turning, set course for Davy Jones's locker.  The forward 9-inch main gun also put one aboard Spetsai; every little helped.  In return, Spetsai could engage Muhtesem with only its five-point-nines, but managed to give as good as it was taking. On the other hand, its fire against Hayreddin Barbarossa, despite nothing coming back the other way, proved ineffective.
The two Turcowaz destroyers and battleship were devoting all their attention upon Lemnos - and making very little of it!  Numune and Gayret let fly with their torpedo patterns; none hit.  Of Hayreddin Barbarossa's powerful 11-inch battery, but one hit struck its target, holing the Hellenic ship close under the forward main turret, and starting new fires (the 6-spade - which would have knocked out the magazine).  The sparse return fire did none of the three Turcowaz units any damage.
TNS Hamidiye was rather less lucky.  Its pursuit of the Turcowaz cruiser carried Aetos directly astern of that vessel, whereat, firing off its torpedoes, scored two hits.  One did considerable damage to the steering, whilst the other also struck under Hamidiye's counter.  At once the cruiser lost speed.

NOTE: The cards drawn for damage were Red Ace (steering) and Black Spade (funnel).  Now, a funnel hit went to reduction in speed, but it is hard to see a torpedo striking or doing damage to a ship's funnels.  So I presumed perhaps some damage or flooding to the engine room or perhaps to the vessel's drive systems.  Whatever the damage, Hamidiye was reduced to 2 hexes, maximum speed. Its attempt to fend off the destroyer's attack registered one hit that started a small fire near its stern.

If the Hellenic vessels were having ill luck with their main guns, starting with Hamidiye, the Turcowaz began to experience ill fortune with their motive power.  As the battleship duel continued on nor'west by north, Muhtesem, heavily damaged and an after primary gun out of action, began to crawl off to the sou'west by south, and out of the battle.  The Turcowaz destroyers altered course from sou'east by south to due east, coming under Spetsai's stern.  There they launched their last torpedo salvos.  Although Gayret was holed along the waterline, its torpedo tubes were unaffected.

Both scored hits.  Struck under its counter, Spetsai took further damage to its after turret, and to its screws (Actually, I made a mistake, here: the hit ought to have been to its steering.  As 'ruled' the vessel was slowed to 1 hex per turn - a crawl - rather than being forced to carry on its nor-west by north heading until a repair could be effected).

The main action was becoming a deadly, ding-dong duel.  Before the torpedoes struck, Spetsai's superb gunnery from its one remaining 10.8-inch gun and its forward secondaries caused considerable damage to the Hayreddin Barbarossa (4 flotation points - including the waterline hit - Black-4).  But the Turcowaz battleship's secondaries did some damage in return (I seem to have omitted to draw for the effect of that!).  Much to the elation of its crew,  the main guns began to score more effectively upon the heavily armoured Lemnos.  Yet another hit registered upon the much battered forward turret.  

Lemnos managed a couple of minor hits upon the Turcowaz battleship - (that vessel had lost 6 flotation point this turn alone!).  Within range of Hamidiye, the starboard side forward secondaries scored no hits.  The duel between Aetos and Hamidiye for the moment caused no damage to either side.  This was far more to the chagrin of the Turcowaz gunners, as Aetos began to draw up to fire off another round of torpedoes.

By now, the combatant vessels were becoming widely scattered.  Having exhausted their torpedoes, the Turcowaz destroyers began to withdraw from the action, circling around onto a nor'east by north heading, away from the fighting.  Muhtesem had also taken itself off, and was disappearing over the horizon towards the mouth of the Dardanelles strait.  So was Spetsai in the opposite direction, in a near sinking condition and speed much reduced.  She still had a secondary broadside available, and before drawing out of range, managed a score a seriously damaging hit upon Hayreddin Barbarossa, that caused major damage to its steering.  Out of range of its own puny secondary armament, Hayreddin Barbarossa had no reply.
Instead, the Turcowaz battleship took out its vengeance upon Lemnos. A deadly accurate salvo punched several holes along the Lemnos's waterline (7 flotation points gone in one salvo!).  Lemnos managed a couple of hits in reply, but that vessel was surely wanting its lost 12-inch guns!  Out of range of Lemnos's guns, the duel between Hamidiye and Aetos was entering its final phase.  The Turcowaz cruiser slowed by damage to its motive power, Aetos was able to head-reach upon her.  Drawing abeam of its quarry, Aetos let go its torpedo broadside.  One torpedo slammed into Hamidiye's tortured stern, damaging the screws and reducing its speed to a mere third of its normal capability.  
But Aetos now ran out of luck.  Just as its torpedoes struck, Hamidiye's gunfire reduced Aetos to a sinking wreck.  Freed of the attention of enemy warships - the destroyer sunk and out of range of Lemnos's 8-inch guns - Hamidiye was able to crawl off to the north to deal with the damages to its speed and steering.

But two vessels remained in action, and it was not looking good for Lemnos.  Both Hamidiye and Hayreddin Barbarossa had been reduced to a crawl, and Lemnos at least was able to maintain its cruising speed, but for some time it remained within range of the Turcowaz heavy guns - and of the secondaries.  Lemnos received a hit that put the vessel dangerously near to sinking, and decided Admiral Poliomyelitis to withdraw from the action.  As the Turcowaz battleship lay between Lemnos and safety to the southwest, and the Hellenic vessel was embayed into the bargain, its chances of escape seemed problematical at best.

Luck came to the rescue at last. 

A critical hit knocked away Hayreddin Barbarossa's forward funnel, steam pressure dropped to near-zero, and most powerful vessel in the Turcowaz navy lay dead and wallowing in the water.  It would take several hours before she could be got under way again.   

Meanwhile, with nothing to disturb them, Hamidiye's crews managed after several hours to make repairs to the rudders, drives and screws to enable them to carry on the cruise that was the objective of the battle.  For their part, the prevailing good weather overnight and well into the next day enabled the crippled Hellenic warships to drag themselves to safe anchorage at Limnos island, and the equally battered Muhtesem and Gayret to the Dardanelles.  Once more under way after several hours, Hayreddin Barbarossa followed them.

This was probably the most exciting naval wargames action I have undertaken, and I speak as the former commander German 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla in a WW1 naval campaign played in Wellington, some 35 years ago.  That flotilla became known as the 'Death's Head' Flotilla on account of its success in several actions against the British Grand Fleet.

It was an undoubted Turcowaz victory: its main objective achieved (the breakout by Hamidiye), and the secondary (destruction of the Hellenic fleet) very nearly so.   It was strange, though, how critical hits seemed consistently to affect the Hellenic gunnery and Turcowaz mobility.  What follows is a Damage Log, copied from list compiled by executive officers aboard the respective flagships:


- Both main turrets out of action
- Several holes below and along the waterline
- 17/20 flotation points
- Starboard main gun knocked out
- After turret knocked out
- Speed halved
- 11/12 flotation points
- Sunk
- Sunk


Hayreddin Barbarossa:
- forward funnel damaged
- screws damaged
- 9/15 flotation points
- dead in the water at the close of action, under way after 2 hours
- 1 gun in after turret knocked out
- holed along the waterline in two places
- 11/12 flotation points
- rudder hit, steering damaged
- after funnel struck
- screws hit
- speed reduced to 1/3
- 3/12 flotation points (all 3 hits received were critical!)
S167 Numune 
- No damage
S168 Gayret
- twice holed along the waterline
- 4/5 flotation points.

Next time: the Siege of Scutari.