Friday 2 December 2016

The Somme in Weymouth.

Last weekend I made my now annual trip down to Weymouth for the Peter Pig Weekend put on by Stewart M. Over the cause of the weekend I played 3 games of the new version of Men of Company B, 1 game of AK47, 1 game of Civil War Battles, 1 game of PBI, 2 games of Pieces of Eight and then put on my 1st Day of the Somme game.

Literally everything on the table had been bought and painted for this one game. A bit mad but I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

The trenches and some of the shellholes were all from the excellent Ironclad Miniatures. The cloth and other shellholes were from Magnetic Displays. I painted the cloth in various craft acrylics to resemble the battlefield on the first day. From relatively untouched at the British lines to greatly disturbed ground after the 7 days of bombardment around the German lines and the three villages. The trees were from Tablescape. The Hawthorne mine crater was an old GW crater with added bits of rubbish. The towns were a mix of some MDF ruins from an ebay seller. Other bits were from Ironclad. There is a ruined Peter Pig house just the other side of Thiepval wood.

Of course, all figures are from Peter Pig painted by myself. Most of the paint work was done in the last 4 weeks. Some of the Germans has been started over a year ago but never finished.

As I have said previously the game is heavily influenced by the scenario found at the excellent Storm of Steel blog . I extended it out to a 6' wide table and increased the sizes of the forces by roughly 50% of those used on the Storm of Steel blog. Mike H, Mike C and Mark took on the unenviable role of the British whilst Rob and Paul sat pretty in their trenches as the Germans. The forces were divided up amongst the players and before you knew it, it was 7.30am on that bright sunny morning on 1st July 1916.

The British were given the freedom to play the game out however they wanted. Their objectives were the 3 fortified villages of Serre, Beaumont Hamel and Thiepval as well as the Hawthorne mine crater. After an initial advance all along the line and suffering not inconsiderable losses from German guns and machine guns, the british line began to constrict on itself and probes continued on a narrower front. Beaumont Hamel and the Hawthorne crater became the focus of attention.

This shows the view from behind the British lines as an assault heads towards the Hawthorne crater.

Here is a view down the German frontline trenches from Serre. As can be seen, the German wire was intact. The first British troops have reached the wire but are subjected to artillery barrages and suffer heavy casualties.

A photograph from Serre across to the British lines. The devastation on the village is evident.

An aerial view of a British bombardment off the Hawthorne ridge. Although it looks impressive, few casualties were caused once the smoke had cleared. The Germans were clearly safe in their bunkers 40' underground!

A view back down the line from in front of Thiepval.

Another view from Thiepval towards the main area of fighting.

Several assaults had been beaten back by the Germans, but here we can see one of the few times the German trenches were overrun.

Although not really clear, the British attack has reached Beaumont Hamel. This was the high tide of the British advance. Bapaume was some way off.

Beaumont Hamel is at the centre of the picture and British units can be seen in front of it. Unfortunately the British just couldn't consolidate their gains and had the game continued they would have been froced back towards their starting positions.

The players.

It was a great game and well worth the effort. Les made the comment that the table demonstrated that you could make a good looking game that used squares for movement. I never doubted it to be honest. I do think its a bit of smoke and mirrors. Using the same paint to paint the trenches and the cloth helped to blend the trench pieces in. The same paint was used to base the figures. I did agonise for a day or so over whether to add flock to the figures bases and gave in in the end. The green certainly brightens up the base.

The game play itself was pretty smooth and I have to thank Rob Roriston for keeping things moving down his end of the table. Rob had a stinking cold but soldiered on regardless. Thanks Rob! All the players entered into the spirit of the game and there was no moaning at poor dice or bad luck. The British were always in for a tough game. Abwehrslacht, who runs the Storm of Steel blog, had a similar experience. And lets face it, it wouldn't have been much of a recreation if the British just steamrollered across the German lines.

I'll no doubt trot the game out down at the Stoke club in due course and maybe take it to a show. Here is a quick little video of some the gameplay towards the end of the game.

More soon...