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.