Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Summer 1505 to Spring 1506 AD

Following his defeat outside the walls of Turin, the Duke retreated into his province of Como.  His engineer was only able to rescue one of the great batteries that had been ensconced behind earthworks on the battlefield.  Hastily, the Duke used his battered army to reinforce the principle fortress that would bar the French armies advance into his realm.

The French commander enjoyed his triumph in Turin and it was the summer before he resumed his onslaught against Milan.  Utilising the cannon captured from the Duke the besieging French quickly destroyed the defending walls of Como and launched an assault that put much of the garrison and the remaining army to the sword.  With a few of his supporters and his ever valuable engineer, the Duke escaped to salvage what he could from the campaign behind the walls of Milan.

The Duke had been in constant correspondence with the Emperor for some months but had been reluctant to seek his aid.  The Duke had sought to maintain an independent position hoping to defeat the French, dominate northern Italy and secure an equal partnership with the Emperor.  The French victory had ruined this plan and the Duke was now forced to plead for Imperial help.  The cost was the immediate secession of Modena which now gave the Empire a valuable stronghold in the strategic centre of Italy.

The French army was in a weakened condition by the autumn, but spurred on by Paris and unsure whether the Duke had any further forces to deploy, the French army marched cautiously against the city of Milan.  However, the Imperial army had quickly marched to the Duke's aid.  The Emperor was determined to prevent French dominance in Italy and had been keen to intervene for some time.

As the Imperial army aggressively sought an action against the French, the French commander decided on a withdrawal to Como for the winter and consolidate for the following years campaign.

Meanwhile, the Pope and Florence were busy subduing rebellions in 1505.  Securely protected by their alliance with Spain they brooked no opposition from their overtaxed subjects and looked on at events in the north.

Venice was also awaiting events.  The Duke of Milan was bitterly disappointed with his Venetian alliance.  The Doge had sent him nothing but excuses and by the autumn the Duke had renounced their alliance.  The Emperor had been pleased as he still demanded Friuli from Venice and the Venetian alliance had weakened his influence with the Duke.  The Doge was fearful of French might and Imperial demands and was now reliant on the vague assurances of Spain for some support.  He weakly proffered tribute for Bari and promised eternal friendship as the Venetian senate looked on at events in Milan with trepidation.

By the spring of 1506 the French army had recovered its strength and was determined to hold Como against the Duke and Emperor.  The Imperial army marched out of Milan and by May was aggressively engaged in raids and skirmishes with the French.

Meanwhile, the Pope had been in regular  correspondence with the Spanish Viceroy and had been able to negotiate the deployment of the main Spanish army at Ferrara.  The Duke of Ferrara was keen to see both his liege lords deploy their strength in support of his realm as he remained fearful that Venice might use the ensuing battle between France and the Empire as cover to take his Duchy.  The Viceroy was concerned at French success in the previous year and felt it desirable to parade his strength near the theatre of war.  At the same time the city of Mantua rebelled against their Venetian overlords; there were many who suspected that the diplomacy of the Pope was behind this uprising.

The Venetian army was well placed to put down the rebellion in Mantua but the prescence of the Pope, the Spanish Viceroy and the Duke of Ferrara across the border made the Senate fear a trap.  As ever, the Doge decided to do nothing and await events.  However, the Pope boldly moved against Modena with his forces.  The Imperial garrison was new to the city and the commander put up a poor defence against the sudden descent of the Papal army.  All Italy was surprised but the Emperors anger knew no bounds.  The Spanish Viceroy wrote immediately to his royal master that he had known nothing of the Pope's intentions and sent a personal ambassador to the Emperor imploring his innocence in the "Modenese Affair".

The Emperor had to accept these Spanish apologies whilst he concentrated against his main foe the French.  He quickly sent a note to the Pope demanding the return of Modena before turning his attention to the imminent battle.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Somewhere in the Aegean.

A small island within the Italian held Dodecanese.  It is 1943 and Hitler is worried that the Allies will intervene in the Balkans and outflank the German eastern front.  Concerned that Italian resources and resolve are weak, units of the Wehrmacht are reinforcing the island chain.  JU52s land supplies and men in order to bolster local defences.

This is our game for Saturday 2nd January.  It is a practice run for a proposed naval and land campaign for next year.  Hopefully I will have some extra terrain ready for the game.  I will email Russ and Mark with the troops I will need; British infantry, amphibious equipment and some German units.  Mark and Russ will be the Allies as they will have detailed knowledge of the Allied equipment.  Jon will be the Axis defender.  Can everyone confirm if they can get here for 9.00 and whether they are up for breakfast?

Also, a reminder that we will be playing our Italian Wars battle on Wednesday 30th; Jon can you confirm if you can make it so that I can get provisions in?

The Bridge at Remagen : 'Hollywood' rules for Spearhead 6mm.

Ian put on a pre-Christmas special on at his house on Saturday.  Watch the film then fight the battle. The subject...the Bridge at Remagen.

The film is a highly fictionalized version of actual events during the last months of World War II when the 9th Armored Division approached Remagen and captured the intact Ludendorff Bridge. Instead of the real week-long battle and several artillery duels fought between the Americans and German defenders, the film focuses on the heroism and human cost in gaining a bridgehead across the Rhine before the Allies' final advance into Germany.

Star of the show is Lt Hartman (George Segal), his sidekick Sgt Angelo (Ben Ragazza) and - on the other side of the Rhine, the honourable German Maj. Paul Kruger (Robert Vaughn). In the film, the Americans win through and capture the bridge intact (although damaged) as the Germans were not provided with sufficient quantities of industrial explosives.  

Our battle went slightly differently....

A few scenario rules - the Germans had much more strength than in the movie and also had a panzer division coming in by train on Turn 8.  The Germans also had a Hitler Youth in a spider hole anywhere on the map (to simulate the youngster in the hotel in Meckenheim).  The Americans had lots of tanks (Pershings) - fast tanks but not great against AT fire - and motorised infantry.

The Germans got points for killing units of Hartman's recon team, blowing the bridge once the Americans had had a bloody nose or keeping it open after a certain number of turns.  Basically the German player (Russ) had to get a better result than Kruger did in the film (being shot and the bridge being captured).

The opening position.  Rhine, bridge, forest, Remagen.

The opening position.  Rhine, bridge, forest, Remagen.

Close up of the bridge ans the town (before German deployment).

Another bridge shot 

The town of Remagen - about to get a kicking

The possible routes

As the Americans, Mark and I saw that we had to get our tanks over to the embankment overlooking the railway as soon as possible but not getting bogged down on the roads.  We expected an ambush by the Y junction in the forest so we planned to take the tanks along the road, take the first left then hard right parallel to the road (but away from the AT batteries that would be positioned on the other side of the river.  The infantry would de-bus and run down the road and hence be immune from the At guns.  The tanks take the embankment, the troops take the town, panzer reinforcements killed ont the train - take the bridge. Easy!

American tanks move up as does Hartman's recon.  The tanks on the right go half speed so they can shoot at the AT on the other side of the river

The motorised division gets tangled up with the tanks as they aim for their objectives.  Hartman smashes a German recon unit blocking his way.

Hartman's recon leads the way as the traffic jam gets worse.  The American tanks have taken out a 76mm ATG on the other side of the Rhine.  The Hitler Youth has popped up miles from the hotel and takes a pot shot from the woods.

Hartman swings around and heads for the town but a hidden ATG takes out a couple of American tanks and the not-hidden ATG's across the Rhine take out the Infantry Division's lead vehicles.

Hartman engages the enemy as the Pershings come up behind.  The infantry division reaches the town and Mark chucks them in piecemeal and they die in droves.

The Pershings are thinned out by the hidden ATG (Russ rolling a succession of 6's)

What remains of the Pershings round the hill as Mark's infantry form an orderly queue to die,

He loses his HQ stand - the Germans are loving it!

Hartman loses a unit of recon but sees off a mortar team on the hill.

Hartman's recon take on a motorcycle unit while more German infantry are revealed in the woods.

Tanks make it to the top of the hill to overrun the German defenders but lose their recon unit.  The other tanks open up on the German infantry in the woods as Hartman jumps another German unit in the other woods.

The German infantry rout but the train is about to arrive with tanks on board.  Its now a race against time.  Meanwhile SMG armed German infantry hold the town easily.

Tanks on the hill - only one can shoot and anything but a '1' kills the train and the German tanks.  I roll a bloody 1.  Cheers from Russ, groans from Mark.  We decide to commit our reserve tanks to take the town and give Russ another bonus point.

The German tanks unload...11 of the buggers!

In my best ever shooting ever I clear 5 tanks in one round of shooting - not one miss! Russ is not happy.

After exchanging fire (and a hand to hand combat between Hartman's unit and a German tank) the German tanks rout as well!  Maj. Kruger goes for reinforcements.  The Germans try to blow the bridge but it ends up just cratered.  Russ sends off for more explosives!
I've left out a few shots of the American reserve tanks coming down the road.  Essentially night fell, Hartman was waiting for orders, the American reserve steamrollered through the town and the defenders routed.  By daybreak Kruger was in front of the firing squad (so no German reinforcements and no explosives).  So Russ did much better than Kruger in the film, but he failed to hold or destroy the bridge.

Americans take the town and as there is nothing to stop them, will take the bridge.
Great fun, great scenario and definitely one for another try :)

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Forces I need for Remagen (Mark)

Mark I will need you to bring the following on Saturday.


Panzer battalion= 1x HQ Panther, 1x recon PzIV, 9x Panthers.

1x Regt HQ (Inf in car), 1x non flame engineer, 1x motorbike recon.

2x battalions each with 1xHQ, 6x smg, 3x rifles, 1x hmg, 1x 81mm mortar.

1x 88mm AA

3x Pak40

1x company of 3x rifles.
1x Pak40
1x recon kubelwagon

1x battalion of 1x HQ, 9x rifles, 2x HMGs, 1x 81mm mortar, 1x Pak40 - all motorised.


1x Regt HQ

2x tank battalions each with 1x HQ half track, 1x recon jeep, 1x M8 HMC, 12x chaffees.

1x armoured inf with 1x HQ jeep, 1x recon jeep, 1x HMG in halftrack, 2x Flak halftracks, 1x 57mm ATG in half track, 1x 81mm mortar in half track, 1x M8, 9x Inf in half tracks.

1x cav recon troop of 2x jeeps with 30 cal, 2x jeeps with 50 cal, 2x M8 armoured cars.

Also, do you have a suitable train?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Bridge at Remagen

For our first game for Christmas I am planning on wargaming "The Bridge at Remagen" - the movie!

Sgt Angelo; if it shines he'll steal it, if it moves he'll kill it.
Lt Harley; he has the guts but not the stomach for war.

One side will take the Americans.  An armoured brigade spearheads the allied advance into Nazi Germany.  Will your fatigued units make the last supreme effort or succumb to the futility of war? 

Major Kreuger; he was ordered to blow the bridge, instead he decided to hold it.

The other side will take the Germans.  Commanding old men and boys will you defy Hitler and keep the bridge open for the trapped 15th Army and fleeing civilians before the Americans arrive?

Forget spearhead stats, these tanks are deadly.

The Americans will be lead by an indestructable recon company which will be crucial for maintaining the impetus of the attack.  However, dehumanised and sick of war will they follow your orders and lead the assault?

It's the final days of the war, these troops are not what they used to be.

The Germans are demoralised and weak.  Can you organise a successful defence whilst holding out for the promised reinforcements, or will you by lined up and shot for disobeying orders?

Will the bridge be blown to maintain the Rhine defences or will the Americans take it and bring the war to an end?

I was hoping we could all be free for the 19th December or one of the days thereabout?  Film in the morning and game in the afternoon, surely the right way to begin Christmas.  Youtube the trailer for further motivation.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Leven Castle walls and towers

Buildings are the reduced footprint waterloo range from Total battle

Monday, 30 November 2015

Port for Christmas

Can you see what it is yet?
Whilst the Duke of Milan is away I thought that I should make some headway building a key piece of terrain for the Christmas game.  Hopefully this will be a port for the island of Kos defended by Germans and Italians, and attacked by the British.

I have a number of other items to get ready but I will need Jon's British paras and E-Boat, and a brigade of Russ' British infantry with supporting artillery and tanks.  Mark should have enough amphibious equipment for the landing forces.

Let me know if you can all make it for a particular day and I will post a more detailed OOB in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Battle of Turin

Anatomy of a Milanese disaster. Those of a nervous disposition look away now...

With time running out, the French must attack or Milan wins the whole of North Italy.  Has a single battle ever been so important?  But two factors play into the French hands.  The landschnects have placed themselves in horrible terrain, limiting their movement, and the mounted crossbow fill the gap in the defences - giving the French Gendarmes the perfect target.  Let them shoot then charge them down.  The crossbow attempt to evade but one doesn't manage to.  The Retainers on the left meanwhile attempt to wipe out the other artillery group. Crucially the commander of the pike / artillery - caught in this furious charge - runs for cover (the mounted crossbow).  If they go, he goes.

The heavy French cavalry charge in.  The artillery on their extreme right is wiped out by the Retainers - who then unfortunately run into the pike and will not live long as a result. The Milanese condottiere countercharge the French gendarmes to protect the mounted crossbow but are now caught in-between - not good if they are forced to flee.  The remaining French forces slowly move up.

The condotierre are forced back through the crossbow (shaking them) and their own second rank (shaking them as well). The gendarmes make hay by ploughing through their shaken opponents.  The Retainers to their right are doomed BUT they prevent the unengaged unit of pike hitting the gendarmes in the flank.  This saves the French attack at the cost of the Retainers lives.  Note that the pike commander is still hiding amongst the crossbow.

With the artillery killed off, the condotierri are split.  One engages in an epic battle with the surviving retainers as the Gendarmes see off the remaining condotierri and plough into the shaken mounted crossbow.  The loss of one unit of condottieri shakes a pike unit close by and thus breaks up the pike block further.  The French attempt to mask their pike with crossbowmen to save their dense pike blocks (already shaken from gunfire).

The same action, but you can see the condottieri sitting shaken on the baggage, wondering what hit them.  The mounted crossbow meanwhile get both barrels from armoured lancers with high melee skills.   They run for it - taking the pike commander with them.  No pips for the pike!

A crucial part of the battle.  By rights the remaining unengaged gendarmes should just charge into the pike coming over the barricades.  But the French King automatically runs through the crossbow (shaking more units around them) and with 4 pips available the unengaged gendarmes instead put themselves in a position to charge the pike.  With no commander the pike have no orders and so can't react - oh dear, how sad, never mind...Meanwhile the French left have drifted over - leaving their artillery behind their gendarmes blast into the skirmishers who run for it.  The remaining cannon on the Milanese left also run for it after coming under crossbow fire.  The French pike are now free to run forward into the gaping hole forming in the Milanese centre.  The Duke of Milan sees his dreams crumbling around him.  His most powerful units are either leaderless (pike on his left) or stuck (landschnects in the middle in poor terrain).

The King and his gendarmes kill off another unit of condottieri in front of the Milanese baggage (their leader is stuck in a fight to the death with French retainers).  This mini-battle runs on and on - the condottieri just can't seem to be able to finish them off.

The Milanese pike roll for a commander replacement and he is placed with the closest pike unit to the gendarmes to provide morale support-  just as the gendarmes plough into them.  But he prevents another pike unit coming to help by blocking their way.  The King of Franch ploughs into the remaining condottieri in front of the baggage while French pike and crossbow reach the entrenchments with no-one to stop them.  The landschnects are powerless - they are stuck in the terrain and if they show their flank will have lance-armed retainers ploughing into them.  Milan's only chance is to kill the King's gendarmes attacking their left flank OR get the remaining condottieri to finish off the King's retainers and plough into the foot crossbow to cause moral checks.  But the retainers stay in the fight...

It gets worse for the Milanese.  The King's Gendarmes - having already seen off 2 units of condottieri and two of mounted crossbow AND captured the Duke of Milan's baggage - returns to smack some Milanese pike in the rear (just as his other gendarmes and handing out more damage to the pike they previously charged).  The remaining condottieri are STILL battling away with the King's retainers who resolutely refuse to die.  In the fields, the Milanese skirmishers are charged again and flee again...the French pike meanwhile climb over the entrenchments...its not looking good for Milan.

From the French view - carnage in the Milanese ranks as two units of pike are shaken and the French foot are piling through.  Only the setting sun can save Milan from a catastrophic defeat.  All those cannon lost to the French, who can capture them and use them against their old owners in the weeks to come.

The end is here.  The skirmishers in the field are caught in the open by the Gendarmes. The Milanese pike are routed completely.  The baggage is captured.  Although the Kings Retainers finally give up the ghost, the Milanese army retires, leaving cannon behind and the field to the French.  Zut alors!  Vive la France!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Battle of Turin (Spring 1505)

The French have beaten the Duke of Milan outside the walls of Turin and the city has surrendered to the victors.  The Duke and the remnants of his army have fallen back under the protection of their light cavalry.  There is jubilation in Paris but the French King is determined to push his advantage and conquer the Duchy.

At first it appeared that the Duke would secure the victory as his army had chosen a strong position bolstered by an immense train of artillery.  His engineer had worked hard to entrench many of these guns once the Duke had decided to vacate the protection of Turin and offer battle to the French.

The French commander was loathe to risk his army against such a position but many in his army were aware that the King had demanded a victory and the elite Gensd'armes clamoured for an immediate assault.  Much of the day of battle was spent by both sides manoeuvring whilst the Duke's artillery ineffectively bombarded the French host.

As the afternoon weared on the Gensd'armes demanded that an attack be launched and the French commander relented.  At this moment the Duke's mounted crossbow were deploying on the left flank to skirmish against the French heavy cavalry and they were caught in the first impetuous charge.  These light troops were able to evade with some difficulty and the Duke ordered forward his reserve pike formations and condottieri to counter the French attack.  However, the Duke's reserves came on piece meal and the French Gensd'armes and their retainers, after a fierce struggle, destroyed these troops and took the Duke's baggage in a final charge before dusk.

Many of the Duke's soldiers were ready to retire from the battle and the whole army was on the verge of route, and only night saved the whole force from disintegration.  Much of the artillery on the left flank had been over run and the Duke's engineer did well to retrieve a battery of heavy guns for future service.

The following day Turin surrendered and the French commander led his army through the main gate in triumph.  He wore full armour and carried his lance, the symbols of a conqueror.