Saturday 18 December 2021


February 7th, 1944 - Japanese forces are moving south through the Mayu Hills, to cut the road (track) through the Ngayedauk Pass, the main supply and transport route for 7th Indian Division over the Mayu Hills. 7th Division have sent out strong fighting patrols to slow or prevent the Japanese progress towards this important jungle road. The longer the route down from the pass is open, the more forces will be able to reach the box defence area that is just being established. The 25th Dragoon’s M3 tanks and men of the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, are moving over the pass and down through the hills and these will be vital to the defence of the Admin Box in future days. The patrols needs to buy them time to get into the box.

This would be an attack/counter-attack scenario, played in heavy rain on a table covered in jungle, hills, fast streams, etc.

My fighting patrol was B Company, 4/8th Gurkhas, 2 fighting patrols (5 and 6 platoon), a FHQ, comms relay, FOO, off-table 3.7” mountain gun battery, a 3” mortar team and 4 scouts, 2 ‘Tiger’ patrols and 2 snipers. The force in detail:

After the initial clash of the recce elements, the game developed into two battles really, one was with 6 Platoon on the left as they pushed along the jungle track and ran into strong Japanese elements, including being shelled from a mountain gun (and loader team), hitting an PRTP with mostly harassing barrages - to be christened Whizz-Bang-Willy. 5 Platoon would move across the stream and up the very steep jungle hill (the top was an objective). They claimed this after destroying a Japanese recce patrol in a ferocious close assault (1 Tiger patrol pinned it, the others jumped them and wiped them out with bayonet and kukri). Once on the hill, they went firm on ambush fire and awaited the arrival of the enemy… who approached cautiously and, in the end, baulked at the firepower waiting if the climbed the hills slopes. It was a wary stalemate here for many turns, but I had the objective. When the PHQ arrived, slogging up the hill, they could start throwing some 3” mortar bombs down on where the Japanese were lurking too.  

Over with 6 Platoon pushing along the trail, they first ran into a hidden Japanese sniper, then infantry sections (some conscripts) which had rushed up over the ridge. A ferocious firefight followed, turn after turn, with much pinning. Many knee mortars from the ridge line had 6 Platoon well pinned down, and they took heavy losses, before pulling back with the survivors and the FOO. It had not gone well…

Behind, the Japanese were struggling to get more troops forward. My artillery and mortar were scoring pins and casualties each turn. His own commander was repeatedly refused artillery support, to hit the useful PRTP, for 7-8 turns asking and never got his guns!

With 6 platoon in trouble and pulling back, I had to do something on ‘5 Platoon Hill’. I took a bold move and gave up the ambush fire to advance, taking some rifle fire in return, but bringing the platoon’s firepower into place to shoot down the hill into the Japanese below. It proved too much, many Japanese infantry died on the hill’s lower slopes, even their stretcher-bearer team was shooting back! The Gurkhas pressed the attack down the slopes, and in 2 close assaults cut the Japanese down and forced 2 more counters on them… it was enough to break them. 5 Platoon had saved the day and secured the highest ground. But the Japanese conscripts were on the pass road, only held-up by the fire from my mountains guns.

It was excellent and very different game, with LoS restricted to just 20” and all jungle as hard cover, it was hard work. My counter draws were lucky (for once), finding four 1s and three special counters in my draws, so reaching only 24 of the 31 BR of the Gurkhas. it was closer than that though.

This was game 1 of a planned small campaign based around the ‘Admin Box’ in February ’44… my defenders have to hang-on long enough for relief to arrive (10 days away), but the Japanese will quickly run short of supplies (the Box has daily air resupply in place). We’ll use the history and the game results to develop the narrative, game-by-game. The next battle is already set for February 8th, when the Japanese launch a first dawn assault at the new box’s south-west perimeter. So an attack/defence game, with my men dug-in and backed up by the Indian mountain guns again, and maybe a tank (wow!), 25th Dragoon’s M3 Grants are my only armour. The Japanese have none… except for maybe a recce tankette - frightening. 

The trail from Ngayekdauk Pass, Brits from the bottom right, Japanese from upper left.

The other end of the trail.

Tiger patrols, 4 in all, sneaking up ahead of the main force. Here the first reaches the top of 5-Platoon Hill to claim the objective. The Japanese are coming this way.

Creeping through the jungle... towards another objective on the central ridge.

Japanese set-up a AT gun... having hauled it up the ridge from the ford, it fired once all game... on ambush fire (white smoke shows this).

3" mortar team are set-up and ready for a very busy day. The tropical rain will keep the barrel cool.

Next Japanese gun in place, 75mm mountain type... with a PRTP to aim for, a loader team, and using harassing fire, it was busy... but didn't hit much. Quickly dubbed 'whizz-bang-willy'. 'Here comes whizz-bang-willy again, he's wasting his 50 yen on those shots!'

Japanese use a nullah to approach 5 Platoon Hill, the Gurkhas are already in top on ambush fire...waiting, bayonets fixed.

Hidden sniper is revealed and opens fire to pin down the approach of 6 Platoon along the trail.

Soon backed up by the first infantry to make it over the ridge.

Crossing the stream under accurate 3.7" gun fire, pinned in the ford.

The CO watches on and tries, at least 7-8 times, to get his divisional fire support to hit the PRTP. No dice (well, many dice, none 4+).

5 Platoon Hill saw heavy fighting in the end, after a long stand-off. Ayo Gurkhali! 

More Japanese infantry conscripts, pinned by mortar fire as the cross the stream's torrent, running down from the Mayu Hills.

The Company CO and his comms team and 1 stubborn mule (for the radio)... little fire marks an objective.

6 Platoon on the trail, not much left... and the FOO, saving their bacon...

End of the game, the Gurkhas have won it, but the trail has enemy troops on it. The 25th Dragoons will have to blast them out of the way. At the rear-right, 5 Platoon Hill...

Monday 13 December 2021


For this Fall of the Reich game, we decided to use the map from the scenario but select our own 750 point forces, a chance to use some models that need a bit of tabletop time. I rarely get to play Germans, but I’d face the tough prospect of holding the village as the red tide surged towards Berlin. Gotterdammerung awaits!

I selected my 750 points force, 2 platoons of poor infantry, a Panzer IV platoon in reserve, a few bits a pieces and, something I’d rarely do, one big beast (the biggest beast), just because this model is 15 years old and only seen one battle. Time to dust it off and give it go.

Backs to Berlin     15     +D6

Volksgrenadier Platoon     85     7-i    officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts     15            

Feldkanone 295/1(r)     18     1-i     3 crew, 76mmL30 (4/4+, AP 5/3)

Volkssturm Platoon     71     5-i    officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts     15

Pz IV H Platoon     160     9-v    officer, mortar spotter

Foxholes - 20 men     20     0
Command Bunker - 4 men     30     3-r    senior officer, mortar spotter,
1 Minefield     20      0

120mm mortar battery      72     0    off-table

Sniper + observer      15     1-v    sniper-scout

SdKfz 250/9      26     1-r    scout, mortar spotter

Jagdtiger       162      5-e    + panzer ace

SdKfz 251/17       18     1-r     AA

Supply Truck      8      1-i

750 pts    34+D6(4) BR    4 officers, 2 scouts

The Russians went with 2 platoons of basic infantry, mostly tank riding on 3 T-34 platoons. They’d be supported by a battery of 3 120mm mortars (on table), an infantry gun and a timed air strike from a Sturmovik. They had also maxed out on recce: 2 jeep teams (as extra mortar spotters), 2 snipers, a patrol in a White scout car and a Valentine (VIII) tank. They’d out scout the Germans then… they also took 2 PRTPs, cunning, one on each end of the village would mean they hit it every turn if needed.

It wouldn’t be, as, suspecting the village would be heavily targeted (fearfully by Katyusha strikes), I placed most of my forces outside of it. To the left, the Volkssturm platoon, dug-in, with the old Tsarist M1902/30 gun behind them and the command bunker to call in mortar fire. To the right, most of the Volksgrenadier platoon. The village had just the sniper, an MG team and a reserve MG team (soon waiting to move where needed on reserve move).

This deployment directly countered the Russia plan of attack, which was to split into two forces to go round the village, to the north and south, and not assault the houses. Tanks and infantry evenly divided, whilst the mortars hit the village and kept it well pinned down. First, was to get the mortar spotter jeep teams in place so he had the entire tabletop under observation… those 120’s would play merry-hell, I had no line of sight to them and couldn’t counter them.

Deployment complete, the Russian attackers took the first turn and the recce rolled on.

The Russian took their time to get set for the pushes left and right, getting the mortars on and set-up, snipers traded fire in a sniper duel and one of his was killed by a stray mortar round. As the Russian held back and built up their reinforcements each turn, we traded mortar fire and the German tanks also arrived, including the Jagdtiger which moved up through the village(on roads), the mortars would need to be lucky to effect it. The vital supply truck was another matter though, it lurked well back, wary of the mortaring. As the Jagdtiger arrived and rumbled up, a Sturmovik dived in to bomb the village, braving the 20mm ambush fire on my 251/17 (missed). To drop its bombs and, err, do very little, 1 pin was all from the bombing run.  

The German tanks moved on to get some long range shots at the T-34s, one scored a hit and pinned a T-34 (glance). To the south the infantry were engaged in a fire-fight across the fields, with much pinning holding the Russians back, thanks to MG-42 fire raking the hedges. But the return fire was heavy too… stalemate here for now, but the Russian numbers would surely tell in the end.

A stroke of luck in the village, the 120mm mortar barrage (at a PRTP) causes a hit on the Jagdtiger, no damage but the resulting morale test is a ‘beyond the call of duty test’, it is elite (panzer ace) and so moves up and opened fire, hitting a T-34… and rolling a 3 for AP… glance, pinned it (argh!). Still it’s in position now, with many T-34 targets to aim for.

The Russians continue to manoeuvre left and right, and bomb the village, but are continually hindered by pinning. The Volkssturm’s machine gun team are doing good work, until pinned down themselves and the German sniper is killed by a mortar impact through the roof they were hiding in. The Russian are forced to take 2 counters to unpin, in preparation for the big push to come.

The Germans know it’s coming and, rolling well for orders, give them hell to hold them bank. The Jagtiger scores hit on the White scout car and it vapourised… T-34s are scattering to avoid its narrow arc of fire. The Panzer IVs score a hit and another pin (another damn glance, I cannot roll AP today). The Volksgrenadier infantry and machine guns do more pinning and stall the push to the south for another turn. Outnumbered 2 to ,1 they are putting up a hell of a fight. T-34 return fire hits and KO’d a Panzer IV, whilst others rake the hedges with MGs and pin my men down. The Jagdtiger fires, misses, then pulls back and the ammo truck is forced to risk the mortar fire to re-arm it. The trucks get pinned in the incoming barrage of 120mm bombs… but a BtCoD counter means it unpins and rearms the Jagdtiger (under heavy mortar fire - heroics indeed). Bombed up, the Jagdtiger turns around and heads back into the fight.

The Russian push to the north is on, infantry jump from the tanks and advance at my line of Volkssturm in their foxholes. They use their single panzerfaust, hit, and … glance again (god damn it!). Still, a pinned tank. The Russian fire whittles the Volkssturm down. But they give as a good as they get. Another T-34 speeds across the field, and another panzerfausts is launched on ambush fire, killing it – at last! The red infantry assault the line of foxholes and overrun one Volkssturm squad. Behind, the Tsarist M1902 gun has opened fire as an improvised AT gun, and proved predictably woeful…

The pressure is mounting, the Russian rain of 120mm mortars continues, with two direct hits and wipes out another machine gun team and Volkssturm’s Platoon HQ team, hiding in the clock tower. Those counters push my BR to the limit. One more turn, but can I break the Russians?

The Jagdtiger does its best, lines up 2 T-34s, hits both and turns them both into burning scrap… those two counters are… not enough (one sees my 120mm mortar battery off-table run out ammo - great!). My Panzer IVs are now low on ammo, one fires it’s last AP round, misses, and reverses back to find the ammo truck. Lacking any tank support, my infantry to the south are suddenly entirely pinned down. 12 men have held off most of a Russian platoon and two T-34s all game, but now the Russians are coming across the field, intent on getting close assaults in against my pinned troops. I just have to unpin… and that counter, a 4, breaks the Germans’ BR of 38… game over. Fallback!

Freidersdorf has fallen, the red tide has swept over it. In the end, the Russians still had 13 BR left, so a solid win, but he did draw 5 special counters in the game (no aircraft though, thankfully, as he had a VVS officer lurking at the bank). Still, if a few of them had been numbers, it would have been very close. The Russian had their own bad luck though (4 times rally counters drawn and rolled a 1!). My inexperienced infantry had put up a good fight, the best the Third Reich can hope for in 1945. I had killed 3 T-34s and lost just 1 Pz-IV, the Jagdtiger did well, 3 kills and it should have been more but for some unlucky dice (missed twice needing 3+ both times!, and scored a glancing hit with that massive damn gun!). The Russians should have paid more, but AP rolls that glanced and pinned 4 times cost too! Still, it was a fun run out for the Jagdtiger and a really good game. Time for tea and a re-cap.

The reds are very tough in 1945… they roll on for Berlin…


Russian approach, to the south of the village

Tsarist Model 1902/30 gun, now part of the Volksgrenadier's defence as an ad hoc AT gun. Covering north of town.

Volksgrenadier advance to the road and hedge to meet the Russian infantry.

Reserve squad and 251/17, the AA defence.

First Russian recce, White scout car and Valentine.

Russians deploy their 120mm mortar battery in close support.
First T-34s arrive, all carry tank riders.

VVS swoops in through 20mm flak fire, to bomb the rear of the village.

Bombs away... but mostly misses...

The mighty Jagdtiger arrives in the village.

and Panzer IV support...

German mortar fire starts up.

and the Jagdtiger is quickly in position to engage the lead T-34s.

Return fire KO's a Pz-IV from long range, unlucky.

North of town, the last of Volkssturm (in foxholes) pinned down and about to be overrun.

Having been re-armed under the mortar rain, the Jagdtiger now blocks the main road into town and scores 2 T-34 kills.

Then another T-34 gets a panzerfaust and brews-up.

More T-34s burst into the field to the south, and the Volksgrenadier cannot stop them. With Russians breaking through to the north and south, its time to fall back towards Berlin... what is German for 'run away!'?