Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trivial Success Pt II

You might remember that on The Blitz online wargaming site I had been posing a question in the twenty question competition, in the nature of a 'who am I' query. Finally, after several weeks and sixteen questions (well, seventeen, but I was generous with a whinger) someone finally guessed the answer ... Tom Wintringham. Below is my final post on the thread, with a snapshot bio of this fascinating person.

I am so glad someone could get to this fellow's name. He lived an amazingly full life, of which below I only ramble off some of the more public dimensions.

- An able mechanic/despatch rider in RFC in WWI (served with the baloonatics). Notably, convicted of mutiny and returns to front.
- Founding member of Communist Party of Great Briton, editor (Daily Worker), journalist, (Picture Post, etc). Imprisoned on conviction for sedition in late twenties.
- Core influence in the founding of the International Brigades upon Franco's rebellion in Spain.
- Captain, Machine Gun Company in the British Battalion.
- Acting Commander of the Battalion at Jarama, wounded, hospitalised for two months.
- Return to the front, wounded again, two more months in hospital.
- Convalesce to Britain, anti fascist sympathies have him propagandising to a broad public during Chamberlain's appeasement.
- In the phony war and the dark days, is one of two major voices in public inspiring resistance and preparation (his arch enemy Churchill being the other). Heard by millions.
- Founder and chief instructor (with his old spanish civil war comrades) at Osterley House, in the Irregular Warfare Training course for the Local Defence Volunteers. (5000+ trained here).
- Refuses to join the Home Guard while running Osterley House as the bureaucracy and MI5 move in - eventually closing it down. By this time has left communist party, so joins for a few weeks the Home Guard as an ordinary volunteer before resigning.
- Founds 'Common Purpose' political party in latter stages of the war, party wins seats.
- Dies and buried at Grimsby, some of his books being published well after his passing.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

AAR - Bloody Odessa

Recently I completed the East Front scenario "Bloody Odessa", after a game composed of email exchange of turns. I played the Romanians in a regimental infantry assault on fortified heights, held by an equivalent force of russians (or so it seemed), in pretty low visibility conditions, set in the late autumn of 1941. It was a complexity '4' scenario of 15 turns each, the axis (me) moving first. The optional rules for Fog of War and Armour Facing Effects were 'on'.

After I chose the scenario I looked at the field of battle. Slowly it dawned, I would be assaulting across open fields up steep hills against bunkers and trenches, with my force divided into two elements by a wide open flat area under the fire of both of the enemy's bastions. Up the middle of this valley between the hills was the sealed road to Odessa (this battle was part of the 'break in' phase of the army level assault).

Lucky I didn't yet know about the roadblocks covered by anti tank guns, or the fields of barbed wire and mines covering the northern flank (the southern was covered by forest and fen and broken ground beneath the fortified cliff face). Nor did I notice that the cliffs were in some parts too steep to scale.

I sent one battalion to loop as far north as practical (A1), another to assault up the southern heights (A4) with smoke for the initial phase, a third to cross under cover of smoke to join the southern assault (A3). My armour I sent up the middle till it discovered the roadblocks (A2). The russian appeared to have battalion units in all round defence on the two hill tops (R2), with reserves moving up from behind (R1). A little while into it, two armoured platoons (BT7 and T40) came down around my Western flank to have a go at my onboard artillery (R3). If I couldn't expose his recovery areas to fire, I'd have a hard time of it.

And, so it proved, resulting in a major axis defeat. My infantry were cut to ribbons, my engineers got caught up with the infantry assault with similar consequences, I didn't breach the roadblocks, failed to use my smoke properly, got shot up in the open basically. The brightest moments were when one of my onboard artillery pieces shot up a stray BT7 trying to be smart in my backlines, and when my first group of battered romanians first crested the ridge (they were promptly shot off by hordes of ruskis).

As a scenario, the name of it was pretty accurate. It was also an enjoyable game, despite the relative scale of the Russian victory. He was worried for half the game, and I was still hopeful for a lucky second-to-last turn to capture and hold enough 'objective' hexes to reduce the scale of my loss to 'minor'. Alas, it was not to be.

Well done Lizardking!