Wednesday, 30 June 2021

1st Devonshire Regiment (again)

I’ve just completed this unit of Jacklex British infantry which has prompted me to carry out a small reorganisation of the British forces. This unit will now be designated as the 1st Devonshire Regiment and my previous unit to carry this name (click here) has been promoted to the Guards.

It seemed like a good idea to use my two Raventhorpe units as Guards because the figures are slightly bigger and chunkier than Jacklex figures.

The Battle of Belmont will be along shortly.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Ladysmith - The Game

Their ranks dressed, Col. Hamilton's Brigade prepares to advance.
The Colonel is not sure of the wisdom of a frontal attack on the Boers after his experiences at Elandslagaate but "orders is orders".
As well as the Long Tom the Boers have a 75mm Cresout gun on Pepworth Hill. This became an early target of the British Field Artillery although scoring hits on it was hard at long range.
On come the Gordon's - so far so good. 
The Boers let the British advance to medium range and then...
...the crack of their rifles rings out and the first men start to drop.
However, despite this the casualties were surprisingly light and I was starting to get optimistic about the chances of the British as they closed on the Boer position.

But then things started to unravel a little as more men fell and the Gordons received a pin which broke up the neat Brigade line of advance.
The Maxim finally came in to action but by now had already been reduced to one SP (strength point) so was pretty ineffective.

But it wasn't all one-way traffic as the Boers were taking hits too.

Turn 5 and some devastating fire from the Mausers caused severe losses and PINs amongst the British battalions. Things were not looking good.
The Boers defending the Long Tom started to take a few hits...
...but Hamliton and his men were in a desperate position.
The Devons and the Manchesters were worn down and fell below 9 figures so were forced to retire.
Only the Gordons remained unpinned and in reasonable condition but it was too late now as the army had fallen below 50% strength - a Boer victory was declared.
The one good result for the British was the failure of  'Long Tom' to cause any serious damage to Ladysmith. The three blue counters record the only hits on the town! 

This was a difficult scenario for the British to win so there was no real surprise at the result. There was a point though where the British rallied off all their PIN markers in one turn and I thought they may be in with a shout to make a charge, but the following round of Boer firing put paid to that idea.

The British may have been able to win if I’d played a more tactical game and bombarded with the artillery for a few turns before advancing and possibly stacked up two units on the right opposite the Long Tom, but I wanted to go with the historical deployment.

The British forces are now bottled up in Ladysmith so the action will move next to the Orange Free State and the advance of Lord Methuen’s column. 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Ladysmith - Scenario

Following the British victory at Elandslaagte General White ordered all the British forces to fall back on Ladysmith. The Transvaal Boers followed up and soon occupied the high ground dominating the town. When news arrived that the Orange Free State Boers were on the way to join the Transvaal Boers, White decided to attack the enemy positions to prevent a junction of their forces.

White, having previously served in India, had no experience of facing troops armed with modern weapons and underestimated the abilities of the Boers to manoeuvre as well as to fight. He attempted a double envelopment of the Boers with Carleton advancing on the left and Grimwood on the right whilst Colonel Hamilton (with the Brigade that had been engaged at Elandslaagte) attacked Pepworth Hill in the centre.

On the morning of 30 October, with the attacks on either flank having failed, Colonel Hamilton found himself required to make a frontal attack on the central Boer position on Pepworth Hill. The Boers had a strong gun line established on the Hill which included a Long Tom gun that could out-range the British artillery and reach to Ladysmith itself. 

Special Rules
1. Ladysmith is located on the base line of the British forces and is allocated a Damage Point (DP) value of 15. The Boer Long Tom may fire on the town and inflict DP's as if firing on troops in open order. If the town receives total hits equal to it's DP value the British will lose heart and retire resulting in a victory for the Boers.
2. If the British succeed in eliminating the Long Tom the game ends in a British victory (note that the British Field Artillery are out of range of the Long Tom and cannot fire on it nor can they move).
3. All other rules are played as normal.

Order of Battle

British C-in-C Lt General White
Col Ian Hamilton
Devonshire Regiment
Manchester Regiment
Gordon Highlanders
1 x Maxim Gun
3 x Batteries Royal Field Artillery (21st, 42nd & 53rd batteries)

Boers C-in-C Commandant Joubert
Ross Commando
Jacklex Commando
Newline Commando
1 x Field Artillery
1 x Pom Pom
1 x Long Tom

Victory Conditions
In addition to the victory conditions already stated the game will end in a Boer victory if the British fail to destroy the Long Tom by the end of turn 12.

Sunday, 28 February 2021


26 October 1899, Ladysmith Natal, 12.00 noon – General Yule has just brought his column in from Dundee after a gruelling retreat across the Biggarsberg Hills. The Transvaal Boers are closing in on the town and now control the main Dundee to Ladysmith road.

The British troops are exhausted and demoralised after their march from Dundee but relieved to reach the safety of Ladysmith.
General Yule reports to Lt General Smith
"Sir, I have brought every able-bodied man with me from Dundee."

"What of Penn Symons what, what?"
"Sir, he was dreadful wounded at Talana Hill and had to be left behind with our other sick and wounded, I fear he is in Boer hands."

"Poor show, well can't be helped begad!"
"No sir, and I fear the enemy are not far behind us."

Meanwhile on Pepworth Hill just beyond the town the Boers are installing one of their 155mm Long Tom guns.
"Get that gun carefully sighted, the Brits down there will soon be in for one helluva surprise!" 

Ladysmith will be the next battle in my series of re-fights.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Long Tom

Nobody makes a 20mm Boer Long Tom gun in metal, so I bought the plastic one from Strelets. I’m glad I did because it is a really superb little model, and the crew figures are useful too. With the Long Tom done I decided to further expand the artillery park for both sides in preparation for the coming campaigning season.

155mm Cresout Long Tom Gun by Strelets, the crew are a mixture of Strelets and Jacklex. The appearance of the Long Tom on the battlefield was something of a surprise to the British as it could out-range anything they possessed (including the 4.7 inch naval guns) and the smokeless powder it used made it very difficult to spot.
75mm Cresout Gun. This model was an Old Glory one given to me by Roy and is actually 25mm scale but by switching the wheels with some by Newline I think it looks just right for 20mm. The crew again are a mixture of Strelets and Jacklex.

With all this Boer heavy ordinance about I thought I should beef up the British line with another maxim gun from Jacklex. Each British infantry battalion had a couple of maxim guns attached however they were difficult to employ in an attack and consequently had little impact in the fighting - but they are nice models!

And of course another field gun seemed like a good idea. The gun and crew are Jacklex. I must say that the quality of the Jacklex castings has improved greatly under the new ownership.

With the larger forces now available to the British I thought I should introduced a couple of Brigadiers to help with command and control. These are from Jacklex.

And finally, another mounted Boer commander (Jacklex) and Commandant on foot (Raventhorpe). The Commandant on foot will eventually get his own Commando.

This gives me a lot of choices to depict artillery in my games and the Long Tom opens up the possibility of gaming the Battle of Ladysmith.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Elandslagaate – The Game

The British advance begins. The Imperial Light Horse are followed by the Gordon Highlanders with The Manchesters on their left.

The Devons move off supported by two batteries of Field Artillery. The job of the Devons is to pin the enemy to their front so that the flanking movement may succeed.

Generals French and Hamilton watch as the attack begins.

The Boers await developments on top of the ridge. The fence section was scratch built for the game, really I should make a few more.

The Boers only have one under strength Battery in this scenario which is good news for the British.

Actually not such good news for the Devons who are in the direct line of fire.

This is the situation by Turn 3. The Devons are taking fire however the other British units are so far unscathed.

The 5th Lancers move up to support the Devons who are under pressure.

After several attempts, The Royal Artillery knock out the Boer guns.

But now the Mausers have sprung into action adding to the Devons losses (including 2 Officers down).

But it's not all one-way traffic as the Boers are taking losses too.

The Manchesters press forward and start to take casualties.

The Devons are now prone (blue counter) and have taken two pins (red counters) but they are doing their job.

With cries of "Remember Majuba!" the Manchesters surge forward and cause the Ross Commando to break and Flee!

It would appear that Ross and his lads have remembered an urgent appointment somewhere else.

The jubilant Manchesters carry the Boer line.

Meanwhile on the right, the Newline Commando wave a sneaky white flag at the Imperial Light Horse who come forward in a gentlemanly way to accept their surrender only to receive a point-blank volley. Fortunately the Boers roll low and only 2 casualties result.

The Newline Commando holds its ground despite the loss of the Ross Commando to their right.

"Charge 'em lads!"

The Manchesters wheel to their left and launch another charge this time directed at the Jacklex Commando.

Who are forced to retreat from the ridge.

At the same time, the Imperial Light Horse charge forward and see off the remaining Boers. It is a text book victory for the British in just 5 Turns.

The first battle for the Gordon Highlanders and they didn't even get a look-in. The war will definitely be over by Christmas.

A convincing win for the British, which was a relief to be honest, although it was always going to be a tough one for the Boers. By flanking the Boer line, the British were able to avoid the massed rifle fire experienced in the Talana Hill game allowing them to close with the bayonet.

This was the first time I had properly played my Melee rules, and they proved to be both dramatic and fun, although I did make one mistake with a charge move that benefitted the British but we don’t need to dwell on that.