Sunday, 15 December 2019

Gus Murchie Memorial Game 2019 - France 1940, Chain of Command

The Devon Wargames Group concluded another year of wargaming at the club with our annual end of year 'club big game' named in memory of a former big character in the club, who passed away a few years ago, but is fondly remembered for the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the club and the hobby, Gus Murchie.


Last year saw us set forth with General George Custer to settle things with 'them thar injuns'; this year was a completely different theme, with Jason tasked as Cat Herder in Chief as he set about organising perhaps one of our largest efforts and certainly one of the biggest club projects in terms of numbers of members playing in one game.

Mid-morning and the club preparations for our day of fun, amid festive decorations, are well under way.

This year saw us battling hard in the campaign for northern France in May 1940, 'Fall Gelb' or Case Yellow as German Panzer spearheads sought to link up with infantry and Fallschirmjager units ahead of their approach march and cut in behind the Allied lines, cutting them off from any retreat and supplies of men and material.

Plenty of tea, coffee, and K-rations to keep both armies sustained through the hard fighting ahead

These kind of big games take a considerable amount of planning and preparation especially when relying on individuals contributing figures and terrain around a specific theme, but the club really stepped up and answered the call; supplying Jason with lists of figures and terrain items that enabled him to pull together our pre-game briefing and the plan for the six separate but connected tables over which the opposing forces would be battling - using 'Chain of Command' from the Lardies, together with force information from their recently released 1940 Army List Supplement

The plan for the day was circulated to club members to allow everyone a chance to understand the set up and allow a reasonably quick start once the tables and forces had been organised, although as you will see in the video below this process is very much organised chaos!

The first two tables outlined with forces and their objectives

Nathan helps sort out the figure collections brought along by members into the forces required for the day

It helps that the club enjoys the support of a lot of experienced club members used to organising games like this and by 11.00 we had all the tables arranged in the order of march, terrain and figures allocated accordingly and everyone sorted into their respective teams in time for a club photo and the off, not to mention festive snacks suitably laid out in easy reach.

Tables 3 & 4 outlined with forces and their objectives

Given that we had separate tables in play simultaneously as opposed to one big table that we have played over in previous club gatherings, I decided to focus on the camera work for the day rather than getting too involved in playing one particular table to enable me to try and capture the feel of the day as a whole with the fun of playing and chatting with mates rather superseding any game objectives, just as Gus would have played it.

In that vein, what follows is a bit of a photo-fest and video capture of the day rather than a blow by blow account of each and every battle as you would normally expect on the blog, as the club relaxed and had fun to mark the end of 2019.

Jason and Chas briefed the tabletop commanders and cleared up any force or rule queries

So taking the role of the lead cameraman for Signal Magazine and the BEF I set about trying to capture the action from the day.

And finally the last two tables outlined with forces and their objectives

It was really impressive to see the variety and quality of terrain that the club was able to pull together to produce the six different tables and I set about getting some pictures, before battle commenced, and then I got slightly sidetracked by a lovely piece of scratch-building produced by Neil B.

What did I say about getting slightly sidetracked?

I am a sucker for modelling and particularly scratch-building, where the passion for a given subject is all too obvious.

Unfortunately we couldn't include Neil's model of the St Mere Eglise church on our set of tables, but seeing as I had the camera and I wanted to include the detail of this lovely model built from blue foam board, it gets its own little cameo place amid the fun of the day.

Neil was explaining the research he had done to build this lovely piece and I reckon we will have to do a US airborne game to allow this centerpiece to grab the limelight.

The model comes complete with a bell tower complete with bells and the same structure suitably shot up and looking rather forlorn.

Great stuff and I hope you enjoyed the little sidetrack and now back to May 1940.

Here we go then pictures of the action from the various tables as the German forces fought to make headway whilst the British and French fought just as hard to stop them, all supplemented with lots of laughs, rule checks and clarifications, table home rules made up on the hoof, and occasional questions such as, 'what does that cabbage patch count as?'

Well this eye candy is all very well, but what were things like in the room during all the fun and lets have a look at one of these tables.

Ok that was fun, but lets see if we can grab yet more delights for the eye to help celebrate 2019.

By midday you could almost hear the sound of the tracer fire and high explosive as battle was well and truly under way on the six tables and the occasional breakthrough saw armoured units from both sides pushing through to help upset the balance one way or another on a neighbouring table.

Lets check out another table amid the chatter of play underway.

By 14.00, some games were coming to a conclusion with handshakes proffered and the vanquished advising their colleagues on the next table of the fun that was about to be unleashed on them.

However the club tradition of putting a game to bed down the pub in the post game wash-up, with throats dry from all the banter suitably lubricated with a local tipple, was looming large, offering potential respite for those hard pressed on other tables.

And as the day started to draw to close a lone Arado reconnaissance plane droned its way over another table to see if any sense of progress from our day of battle could be discerned.

Would the Bosche be breaking their way through to the beaches or would our plucky Allied defenders resist the fierce assault on their positions?

With the clock approaching 16.00 and the tidying up still to do the day finished a very satisfying end to another year of wargaming at the club.

The Germans managed to make some breakthroughs in some of the centre sectors, but were generally frustrated by a tenacious Allied defence that would prevent the Panzers breaking through and allow a realignment of the Allied line.

More importantly, much fun was had with only a fraction of the collections of figures and terrain brought along on the day.

Members of the Devon Wargames Group who took part in the Gus Murchie Memorial Game 2019

Thank you to Jason for taking point on the organising of a fantastic club day which will live long in the memory and to Nathan and Chas for helping to get things organised and the members of the Devon Wargames Group who make the club such a special place to come along to and play wargames.

The Devon Wargames Group wishes everyone a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.