Sunday, 12 December 2021

Gus Murchie Memorial Game 2021 - WWII Normandy Corps Attack

The final meeting of the Devon Wargames Group for 2021 took place this weekend with our annual one club big game in memory of a stalwart of the club and a very fine chap Gus Murchie, with last year's game sadly cancelled due to Covid restrictions, and so it was great to get back to our usual club business.


This year's theme was to be WWII and set in Normandy recreating one of the big set piece British breakout offensives that came to characterise much of the campaign as the Allies fought hard to drive the Germans back from the Normandy beachheads.

With plans finalised in October following our Club AGM, our planning team, Chas and Jason, issued an alert order with the the briefing that follows and the club geared itself up for the big show!


This years game will simulate a British attempt to breakout from Normandy.

The game will cover several days of fighting, the initial British attack and the German counter attack.
British objective is to capture game table 4, German HQ, after fighting their way across Tables 1,2 and 3. German objective is of course to prevent the Brits achieving objective but to also take back tables 1,2 and 3.

In addition to the table top gaming, this game will introduce the the concept of resources. Resource Points enable players to move and do things, they should be considered to be fuel, ammo, organisation, communications etc. As in real life there will not be enough resources to do everything so it is up to the commander to work out priorities.

Our table plan for the upcoming offensive

Game Sequence

The game is split into two phases, Day and Night.
The Day Phase consists of six turns, Night Phase only one turn.
The Day Turns are made up as follows:-
  • HQ Commander's dice for “Resource Points”
  • HQ Commander's allocates “Resource Points” to players.
  • Artillery and Air force players allocate which table their assets will be committed to. Provided they have been allocate “Resource Points”
  • HQ Commander's dice off to who has “Initiative”.
  • Side with “Initiative” undertake Order of Play as on page 2 of the Rules. Note only those players with “Resource Points” may move bases and vehicles.
  • Side with out “Initiative” now undertakes Order of Play.
End of Turn
The Night Phase is used to reorganise forces for next days fighting.
The following is undertaken:-
  • HQ Commander dice for “Resource Points”.
  • HQ Commander allocates “Resource Points”
  • Players with “Resource Points” may withdraw units from game table and dice to recover men and vehicles. In addition they may move reinforcements.

Command Descriptions

Each player is allocated a command:-
HQ Commander. In charge of everything, they allocate “Resource Points”, allocate support units, tell other commander what they are to do, remove commanders who don't come up to mark.
ADC. He is the HQ Commanders eye's and ears he can also be sent in to take over command of tables or units.
Artillery Commander. Allocated tables for batteries to fire at. Will move to table during combats to throw dice etc.
Air force Commander. Allocated tables and operation for each aircraft. Will take aircraft to table and conduct attacks.
Battalion/Regimental Commanders. These are on the sharp end of the fighting. They are allocated a force and table. They are given orders and told to get on with it, while the HQ sit back drink coffee and eat goodies.

Game Objective

This is to tell you what has driven the design of this game.
We have a lot more people in club and our more traditional games would not provide the interaction of players with each other. We hope this new set up will enable players to be more interested in the “big picture” and not just fighting the player opposite.

Oh and very importantly have fun celebrating our hobby and the year end.

Thus with the orders plan issued, the club began organising the forces with the rule set Rapid Fire Reloaded chosen as the rules of play, very much because of their fast play options and relatively low complexity to allow everyone to get going with them as quickly as possible.

Allied air support indulging in a bit of 'softening up'.

The force lists included basic units for the on table set ups and a list of reserve formations that the respective army commanders could allocate to reinforce success on the various tables.

Examples of our start forces for the Germans and British can be seen below:

German Grenadier Regiment
Regt HQ 1 base, 1 Kubelwagon
1 75mm IG & tow
1 Pak40 & tow
4 Panzerschreck teams
1 FO base, 1 Kubelwagon
1st Battalion
Bttl HQ 1 base
1st Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
2nd Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
3rd Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
4th Company 2 MMG, 1 8cm mortar
2nd Battalion
Bttl HQ 1 base
1st Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
2nd Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
3rd Company 4 bases, 1 Panzerfaust
4th Company 2 MMG, 1 8cm mortar

British Armoured Regiment
Regt HQ 1 Sherman Command Tank
1 Sherman Dozer
1 Sherman OP
1 Stuart
1 Scout Car
1 Crusader AA
1st Squadron 2 Sherman and 1 Firefly
2nd Squadron 2 Sherman and 1 Firefly
3rd Squadron 2 Sherman and 1 Firefly

British Infantry Regiment
Regt HQ 1 CO base, 1 Carrier
FO Team 1 FO base, 1 Carrier
Carrier Platoon 1 base, 1 Carrier
Support Company 1 3” mortar, 1 6pdr AT Gun, 2 Carriers
A Company 4 bases
B Company 4 bases
C Company 4 bases
D Company 4 bases

The Devon Wargames Group, Gus Murchie Memorial Game 2021

With the the troops put on alert and forming up and jump off areas arranged, the day of battle was on us and there was just a few minutes to get the obligatory photo shoot done of the respective commanders before the opening barrage of artillery announced the start of the 'big-show'.

As one of the cogs in the Allied war machine taking the roll of a forward British infantry battalion commanding officer I was very much involved in the little battle that formed our small part of the big picture out on the extreme Allied left with Jack joining me to command the British Armoured Regiment that was in support and Oberst Paul, hunkering down amid hedgerows and orchards as his Grenadier Regiment prepared to resist our assault.

The game was an opportunity for me to field this British OP Sherman liberally festooned with radio aerials which is modelled on my dad's own tank, as pictured in Eindhoven during Market Garden and commanded by Capt. W. Good RA, 55th Field Regiment, part of Guards Armoured Division with Sergeant H.F. Jones and Capt. Good out of the tank getting a better look. The captured German optics poking out of the commanders hatch were seen being used by another 55th FR OP tank and the tool box mounted on the front hull was another particular field modification to this vehicle .

Our table was a length way affair with more of the open terrain around Caen covered in ripe cornfields and the occasional orchard, perfect 'tank country' as dad would have called it, and so Jack took the lead with his sabre squadrons forward ready to shoot my infantry lads on to the target, namely the village which was our Phase One objective, before pressing on with Phase Two to break out off the far end in support of the final push into the German rear area.

British 25lbr support mixed with the infantry 3inch mortars hammers the village as the armour advances

As our little battle developed, I donned my other cap as the I Corps official frontline photographer and jumping in the handy little Auster Army Co-Op light plane made available to me to whisk me swiftly to all sectors of the front I made my way around the other tables to give the folks back home an idea of how their boys were doing in France.

The table next to ours being fought width-wise was more of a  'knife fight' affair with both opposing sides close up and personal from the get-go with a German minefield blocking the river bridge on the road leading to the village ahead, guarded by a knocked out panther tank from a previous attempt to take this sector.

Massed British tanks rumble forward having crossed the river to their left the night before the attack.

Corps assets in the form of heavy artillery batteries, infantry tanks, including 'crocodiles', reserve exploitation armoured regiments and recce support, not to mention massed lines of rocket armed Typhoon fighter bombers were festooned across forming up grounds and close support airfields 

My pilot was happy to take a detour behind our lines and land close by Corps HQ where I was warmly greeted by the general's staff officer and invited to stay for lunch before seeing the general (Steve M.) at work fighting his battle and meeting the Air Officer Commanding (Si) in charge of the liberal amounts of Allied air support backing this particular offensive.

'Jerry' would have a hard time stopping this lot!

General commanding British I Corps (Steve M.), 21st Army Group hard at work in his admin caravan

After lunch in the rear we were back in the air heading further into the middle sector and the German rear areas, the objective for the attack, deceptively quiet as the enemy below were careful not to reveal their positions to our view and any foolhardy attempts to take a pot shot at our inspection likely to be warmly met with a response from our Typhoon escort followed by some Royal Artillery medium and heavy howitzer support.

The German rear area table, deceptively quiet when we flew over on our recce flight of the forward line.

The right flank of the battle proved to be a real treat, going over ground very familiar to anyone who had the pleasure of playing Gus at perhaps his favourite period, Normandy WWII, and here with Nathan setting up Gus's old prepared boards and with models very familiar to me having painted and played with them before selling them on to Nathan. It's really great when collections stay with the club and we are lucky in that fact.

As on the left flank the right flank was a lengthways German defence in depth table but obviously closer to the American sector with more hedgerows lining the fields in this part of the French countryside likely to be lined with well dug in German defenders as seemed to be the case when we arrived.

Gus's former collection of models and terrain now with Nathan and nicely gracing our game

A massed armoured attack was in full swing on the right flank when we arrived.

German infantry were battling away from concealed position along the hedges lining the small roads on the right flank.

It was the afternoon of day one as I returned to my comrades on the British left with our armour hotly engaged with German infantry in and around the village, dropping the occasional mortar 'stonk' among our tanks as Allied close air support zoomed in overhead to bomb and strafe the village.

Occasional German mortar fire dropped amid our lines as the advance pressed on

As German POW's recounted, when the Luftwaffe were near, no one ducked, when the RAF was near, we ducked and when the US Airforce was near, everyone ducked! Button up boys this one is close!

Allied air support was deadly, with the fighter bombers backed up by rear area bombing attacks by medium Boston bombers.

On all the tables the pressure appeared to be taking a toll on the dogged German defences and the inevitable closely conserved assets started to appear to shore the situation up with the odd Tiger tank being spotted and warnings called out over the radio net - of course every enemy tank is a Tiger!

British infantry force a crossing of the river wary of the enemy minefield beyond blocking the road

When heavy armoured assets weren't available German commanders had to eke out their situation by resorting to close defence from their panzerfaust and panzerschreck teams backed up with the regimental Pak 40's.

Now that definitely looks like a Tiger - Driver reverse!!

Any stiff resistance was met with calls back to Corps with a visit from the AOC and Corps RA in the form of Si who was having a great time wheeling out his big guns and fighter bombers eagerly checking back with the sector commanders whom he had lavished with his largess to establish the results which seemed to be having the desired effect, as German defences started to buckle.

Our game turns were under strict timing and the pressure was on for all field commanders, German and British to get on with their selected moves before the dreaded air raid warning siren announced the end of the turn and to stop what you were doing as the turn was handed to the opponents.

Needless to say Turn Six was reached in good time and both sides had a chance to regroup in preparation for the return of day light and battle. This took the form of withdrawing damaged tanks into reserve and following an announcement of a successful opportunity die roll the chance to bring back knocked out and damaged tanks and lost infantry bases.

Sadly on our sector we only got the chance to resurrect our three tank losses, only managing to reclaim one of the damaged tanks, but with our two destroyed tanks, one infantry base and the carrier platoon base lost to us for the resumption.

Paul managed to secure the support of a Panzer IV battalion on our sector just as his rear area infantry support units were fending off the irresistible approach of our tanks.

Our advance was now up on the village and so the battle was being fought to stop our breakout beyond and the troops Fireflies came into their own, deftly sniping at hull down Panzer IVs with their long 17-pounders on the slope beyond, only to see the German tank line devastated by a Typhoon attack that left the road into the German rear wide open.

On our sector the infantry prepare to go firm on the village as the tanks exploit around it only to come under panzerfaust and Pak 40 attack

Paul's Pak 40 team desperately try to hold a collapsing position around the village

However things had progressed more quickly in the centre and the British spearhead was ahead of our flank with their lead elements composed of an Armoured Reconnaissance Squadron of Cromwell tanks probing forward on the German rear table as our game came to a close.

As you can see the club pulled out all the stops on this game with multiple collections of 15mm WWII being brought together to create our end of year celebration.

As always the game was played in a great spirit with everyone determined to make the occasion fun for all involved and with the outcome very much not the focus of all the effort.

I hope those who have followed the club's reduced calendar of games this year have enjoyed the output as much as we have playing the games presented.

Devon Wargames Group, like the wider hobby, has shown it's resilience in the face of the pandemic and there is a feeling of a gradual return to normality with members feeling encouraged to plan bigger and better games in the New Year and to welcome new members who are interested in playing historical wargames and enjoying the social side of gaming with a club.

On behalf of the DWG I would like to wish everyone a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a great 2022.


Saturday, 4 December 2021

Hardee's Attack, Atlanta, 22 July 1864 - Fire & Fury Brigade ver.2

This club game was based on the Confederate attack on the Union force undertaking the siege of Atlanta. The rules used were Fire and Fury Brigade (ed2), and the figures were 28mm.

The Confederate plan was to turn the flank of the Union force at Bald Hill, which was a crest commanding the eastern approach to the city. Hardee's Corps undertook a night time march and came out of the woods to the south of the Union Force.

This is where the game started. The game was fought on an 8' x 4' table, a line of hills along the north edge, Bald Hill situated on the western end and the south side was mainly woods.

The Union force started with G.A Smith's division behind fortifications (facing east and slightly refused at the end) in front of Bald Hill.

Two other divisions, Fuller and Sweeney, were held off table and represented Union forces coming down from the north in support.

The Confederates come steaming on in march columns with artillery at the rear (historically the artillery got held up in the woods). They were safe as most of the Union artillery faced west or covered the woods. They came on in the same formation as the historical battle,  Manley on the left, then Cleburne, Walker and Bate.

The Union response was to re deploy Smith's division to face off the Confederates. In classic F&F, the guns were attached to brigades. Manley and Cleburne formed up and demonstrated at the edge of the wood, while two brigades swung around the fortification to attack the now depleted defences.

In the centre Sweeney started to set up a battle line and Walker went straight for him with artillery giving supporting fire from a hill.

On the right Fuller and Bate also went for each other but Fuller did give support to Sweeney.

The battle was now fought as two separate engagements. On the left, although the Confederates took some casualties, they pinned down Smith's force, at the same time however two brigades swept over the fortifications and rolled up the line. There was a general retreat up to Bald Hill. On the right both sides were attacking and counter attacking in a close range tactical game.

It was however on Bald Hill where the game hung in the balance, Smith, who up to then had been cursed by the dice god came good. He rallied all of his units, silence fell over the Confederates. Their units were now in a bad way and there was no way they could pull off another attack.

The Union Line had held, much like in the real battle.

The rules played well, some players had played the rules before and helped those not familiar to pick them up. After a few turns the game flowed well as the rules are easy to learn. In addition they have a good historical feel and give a good ACW game.

Many thanks to those who played the game and made my umpiring an easy job. Paul (Smith), Nathan (Sweeney) Si (Fuller), Laurence (Bate), Bob (Walker), Tim (Celburne) and Steve M (Manley).

Technical Stuff

Due to a lack of information, I used the Army Generator found at the rear of the rules. With a bit of tweaking of course. Units size was reduced by half to fit the figures available as this meant the unit frontages were half, I decided to play the game using the 15mm scale play sheet. This worked well, however units, especially the Confederates, were more brittle.

Figures used were 28mm mostly Redoubt and Renegade also Celburne brigade was provided by Stephen H, many thanks. 

Abandoned Confederate defensive works in front of Atlanta

Editors Note: The next meeting of the DWG is our annual Gus Murchie Memorial Game when the whole club comes together to play one 'big game' to end our year on and celebrate the seasonal festivities in proper form, and this year we're off to WWII Normandy!