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.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Elandslagaate – Scenario

Special Rules
1. In the real battle British Generals French and Hamilton displayed unusual common sense by insisting all the infantry maintain extended order to minimise casualties. Rule: British troops are not subject to the bunching rule and remain in extended order throughout the game.
2. At this early stage of the war officers still displayed obvious signs of rank making them easy targets for Boer marksmen. Rule: Officers become casualties from rifle fire on a die roll of 1, 2 or 3 (rather than the normal 1 or 2). This rule does not apply to the Imperial Light Horse.
3. In the actual battle, the British flanking force advancing along the hill became held up by barbed wire fences near the farm. Rule: It takes a whole turn for a unit to cross the barbed wire fence, during this turn the unit will count as being in close order if fired upon.
4. There was an infamous event during the battle when Boers waved a white flag then opened fire on the British as they moved up to accept the surrender. Rule: Once during the game a Boer unit within 12” of a British unit may wave a white flag (at the start of the turn), the British must move forward 6” and then receive full fire from the Boers without retaliation (all pin markers are removed from the British unit prior to movement).
5. The Imperial Light Horse were awarded two Victoria Cross medals for their gallantry during the battle. Rule: The Imperial Light Horse do not receive PINs in this game.
6. The 5th Lancers famously charged the retreating Boers at the end of the battle inflicting many casualties. Rule: All fleeing Boers must exit the table to the left, the 5th Lancers may charge these (provided they are within 15”) without making the usual Melee die roll. If contacted the Boers are eliminated.

Order of Battle

British C-in-C Major General French
Devonshire Regiment
Manchester Regiment
Gordon Highlanders
Imperial Light Horse
5th Lancers
2 x Batteries Royal Field Artillery

Boer C-in-C Commandant Kock
Ross Commando
Jacklex Commando
Newline Commando
Field Artillery

Victory Conditions
If the Boers have not been defeated by the end of turn 12 the game ends in a British defeat.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Imperial Light Horse - Finished

In the end I decided to modify each figure in the same way I did the test figure, by snipping off part of the hat brims and building them back up using Magic Sculp. I did tentatively try bending the metal as suggested by Rob, but it felt like the whole head would snap off which was not the look I wanted.

I found this blurb somewhere on the internet, can’t remember where -

The first commander of the Regiment (consisting of 444 officers and men, chosen from 5,000 volunteers) was Colonel John James Scott-Chisholme, who led the unit at its first engagement, the Battle of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. During this battle two Victoria Crosses were awarded (to Captain Charles Herbert Mullins and Lieutenant Robert Johnston).

The Regiment subsequently saw service at the Siege of Ladysmith (where another Victoria Cross was awarded - to Trooper Herman Albrecht at Wagon Hill) Colenso, the Battle of Spion Kop and the Relief of Ladysmith. At Spion Kop, the ILH was successful in capturing Commandant Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo, the commander of the Carolina Boer Commando. The ILH was then specially selected to join the Mafeking Relief Column under Colonel Mahon. Eight men under Major Karri Davies of the ILH were the first to enter Mafeking on the night of 16/17 May 1900 to break the siege.

The figures are by Newline Designs except for the Officer who is converted from a Raventhorpe Miniatures Boer.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Imperial Light Horse

I haven’t been able to find anyone who produces a 20mm Imperial Light Horse figure in metal so have had to resort to modifying the Frontier Light Horse figure from Newline Designs. To this end, I have snipped off the left side of the hat brim and re-built it in a turned-up position using Magic Sculp. Not a huge amount of conversion work but fiddly all the same.

The figure on the left is Newline Designs Zulu War Frontier Light Horse, the painted figure is my Imperial Light Horse "conversion" of same.

I need a 12-figure unit of dismounted Imperial Light Horse for my Elandslaagte scenario as they played an important part in the real battle (the regiment was awarded two Victoria Cross medals following the action). Now I just need to give the same treatment to the remaining 11 figures.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Talana Hill – Take Two

As the figures were still laid out on the table, I decided to have another crack at the Talana Hill scenario. I’m not going to show a blow by blow account here, but I can say that this time the British managed to achieve a victory.

They were helped by two major events firstly, once again on the first turn the British artillery knocked out the Boer artillery with a fluky roll of 5 x 6’s. Secondly, the Boer ‘Flee test’ severely weakened their right flank taking the Commando at Smith’s Farm down to just 7 men.

The British were also a bit more tentative about their attack with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers lying down to return fire to cover the advance of the other two regiments. The Ross Commando at Smith’s Farm was soon reduced to below half strength and forced to retire with a similar fate awaiting the Jacklex Commando a couple of turns later.

A costly victory for the British but a victory nonetheless!

Friday, 3 July 2020

Talana Hill - The Game

The British got off to an unbelievably good start when the two RFA batteries managed to roll 3 x 6's. 
And the Boer artillery on the receiving end failed to make a single saving throw (they were saving on a 3,4,5 or 6!) result - battery destroyed.
A further consequence of the British fire was that the Boers had to make their 'flee' test as per the scenario rules. A total of 6 Boers took to their ponies and decided to go home. So far so good for the British.
The Royal Dublin Fusiliers begin their advance. They take a few casualties but nothing to slow them down.
Behind them the Kings Royal Rifles cross Sand Spruit and prepare to deploy into line.
The Boers at Smith's Farm are starting to take casualties from the British artillery fire. It all seems to be going so well for Penn Symons!
But of course that's where the luck ran out for the British as the Mausers and the  Pom-Pom sprung to life. The Dublin Fusiliers were decimated and pinned (In the heat of the action I forgot the rule that Penn Symons had to attach himself to them, not that it made much difference).
The Royal Irish Fusiliers hurried forward to lend support.
And Penn Symons tried to steady the Rifles as they too started to take heavy casualites.
By the end of Turn 7 the Ross Commando had been forced to retire from Smith's Farm but the British force had now lost 50% of its total strength. Under my rules this was a victory for the Boers and even if I had played on I doubt whether the British could have made further headway. At least Penn Symons survived.

An enjoyable but frustrating game from the British point of view. It started so well that I thought a spectacular victory over the Boers was on the cards but once again, when the Mausers got going, everything fell apart.

The constraint of having all the British troops in close order did lead to extra casualties but I think the real problem was the unimaginative frontal attack. In the real battle the British did force the Boers off Talana Hill but they took heavy casualties in the process. It’s probably worth me playing the game through one more time though just to see if I can get a better result for the British.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Talana Hill – Scenario

Special Rules
1. In the real battle Penn Symons instructed his infantry to fight in close order. Rule: British units may not use extended order.
2. At this early stage of the war officers still displayed obvious signs of rank making them easy targets for Boer marksmen. Rule: Officers become casualties from rifle fire on a die roll of 1, 2 or 3 (rather than the normal 1 or 2).
3. The Boers waited until the British had closed the range before firing on them with their concealed pom-pom. Rule: The British artillery may not fire on the pom-pom until the turn after it opens fire.
4. This was the first time the Boers had been under shrapnel fire and many of them fled the field as soon as the British guns opened up. Rule: On the first turn that the British artillery fires roll 1xD6 for each Boer Commando, the result is the number of Boers who panic and flee.
5. Penn Symons rode forward and took personal control of the battle when the British advance stalled and received a mortal wound as a result. Rule: The first time a British infantry unit receives a Pin marker Symons must be attached to that unit and remain as an additional officer for the remainder of the game.

The view looking from Dundee towards Talana Hill (left) and Lennox Hill (right). Smith's Farm is the white building in front of Talana Hill. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers have just crossed Sand Spruit and deployed into line ready to advance. Behind them are the Kings Royal Rifle Corps followed by The Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Order of Battle

British C-in-C Major General Sir William Penn Symons
Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Royal Irish Fusiliers
2 x Batteries Royal Field Artillery

Boer Commandant Lucas Meyer
Ross Commando
Jacklex Commando
Newline Commando
Field Artillery
Pom Pom

Victory Conditions
If the Boers have not been defeated by the end of turn 12 the game ends in a British defeat.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

First Blood

20 October 1899, Dundee Natal, 5.40am – the British forces under Major General, Sir William Penn Symons have mustered in the town square for drill.

"Keep em' at it Sergeant Major, drill, drill and more drill until this sorry lot really start to look like soldiers of the Queen begad!"
"That's better, much better - but what's that infernal banging?"
"Look lively lads, jump to it someones bleedin' well shootin' at us!"

As the early morning mist clears it becomes obvious the Boers have stolen a march on Penn Symons and occupied Talana Hill overlooking Dundee. The Boers have had the audacity to place artillery on the hill and fire shells down towards the town.

They've also occupied Smith's Farm at the base of the hill and taken advantage of the stone walls around the property to create a strong defensive line.
As well as taken positions on Lennox Hill to the left of Talana Hill.

There’s only one thing for it – a frontal attack in close order to clear the rag-tag of farmers away, that’ll show them!

Friday, 26 June 2020

1st Devonshire Regiment

The Devons are finished and based ready for action. There are 24 riflemen plus the usual 3 officer figures to make my standard British infantry unit establishment. This brings the total number of British infantry regiments to four which must surely be enough to beat the Boers?

That’s probably it for the British forces now but I will add another Commando to the Boers at some point just to be fair.

I’m hoping to play a solo game of Talana Hill soon but just need to complete some scenic items first.

EDIT***updated photo***

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Talana Hill

Below is a scan of a map I drew of the Battle of Talana Hill for my 4th Year school history project back in 1970. I can’t remember where I copied it from, or in fact where I got the information about the course of the battle, but it may have been Montgomery’s A History of Warfare which is the one book listed in my project bibliography that I no longer have.

There are four pages of my hand-written burb on the battle and I was fascinated to re-read it 50 years on. I’m not sure why I wrote so much about this engagement but in my text I declare "I have decided that Talana shall be one of the battles that I describe, not because it was the first engagement but because of the lessons it taught". And in my summary, I concluded, "The lessons that it taught were, firstly, a steep-sided hill occupied by the Boers offered no sound defence owing to the dead ground between its base and the summit. Secondly, officers holding swords and wearing marks of rank were easy targets for Boer marksmen. Thirdly, a frontal attack was no way to deal with an enemy armed with the Mauser rifle". Hmm, possibly I plagiarised that but whatever, it sounds authoritative – possibly I will need some rule amendments!

So, it makes sense to have Talana Hill as the starting place for my re-fights in miniature.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

British Reinforcements

As is common to all commanders who have just lost a battle I have called for reinforcements to my British army. I felt during the test game that if only I had one more infantry unit, I would have swept the Boers from the field!

I have completed the first batch of figures for the next unit; these are more from the superb Raventhorpe Miniatures range. The British ‘standing at ready’ are BO19 and the officer is BO21. At the same time, I couldn’t resist painting the very nice Boer Commandant figure BO08.

When finished the unit will be nominally designated as the 1st Devonshire Regiment who fought at Elandslaagte.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Methuen on the march – part 2

The Suffolks move forward to relieve the Gordons who have been reduced to the point where they must retire.
Lord Methuen can't quite believe what he is seeing, how can these Boer farmhands be holding up the soldiers of the Queen?
Finally some luck for the British as the Commandant of the right-flank Commando is hit forcing a 'flee' test - drat, the Boers pass the test.
Time for some different tactics - the Suffolks lie down as soon as they get to medium range and return fire supported by the maxim.
It works - after a poor morale roll (of 2) the Boer right-flank Commando decide they've had enough.
Methuen orders the 5th Lancers forward in the vain hope that the Boer army will retreat.
What's left of the Suffolks look on as the enemy to their front retire.

I called a halt to the game after turn 10 as the British had lost over half of their force and had little chance of any real success. It was some consolation that one Boer Commando had been forced to retire but I had to concede that it was a British defeat.

I like the way the rules played out, but it did seem that things were quite heavily stacked against the British, so I have made a few further tweaks and additions in the interest of balance. In fact, I am so enthused that I have placed an order for one more British unit from Raventhorpe Miniatures.