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Oriskany’s Final Days of the Great War – Australians + British tanks vs. Germans at Hamel

Oriskany’s Final Days of the Great War – Australians + British tanks vs. Germans at Hamel

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Project Blog by oriskany

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About the Project

As some of you may know, the 100th Anniversary of the last days of the Great War are now upon us.

Digging around through some research, I found that the 36th Ulster Rifles were deeply involved in some of the very last battles (having been reformed after grievous losses in the 1916 Battles of Flanders and 1917 Passchendaele, the 1918 helping absorb the shock of the German "Georgette" Kaiserschlacht Offensive).

These include the Battle of Courtrai, during the follow-though of Second Army's push through the Fifth Battle of Ypres, and the first British and Belgian Army advances back into Belgium right before the Armistice.

So, to build on the work done earlier this year in the development of the "1918 Edition" of Barry Doyle's "Valor & Victory" squad-based infantry combat system, I decided to build up some units for the Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, battalions of which made up the final OOB of the 36th Ulster Division during these closing days of World War I.

The project outlines some of the work done to create these units in Valor & Victory and get them on the game board, and you might recognize some of the officers leading these platoons into combat!

This Project is Active

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

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Okay, I was finally able to finish this game of Valor & Victory “1918 Edition” – depicting part of the Australian assault on Hamel (4 July 1918).

As discussed in Part One of our recent article series, this battle was especially important because it field-tested new combinations of diversion, close coordination between tanks and assault infantry, shorter and sharper “surprise” artillery barrages meant to suppress and stun rather than destroy, and more flexible utilization of support assets allowing better tactical exploitation of initial breakthroughs into operational depth.

In short, the Australians under General Sir John Monash decided to ditch long artillery barrages that really only served to warn the Germans of where the Allies intended to attack, rely instead of misdirection shock, and surprise, and keep the tanks and infantry much closer together in order to ptovide mutual support.

We’ve already gone over the scenario set up in previous posts on this project, as well as some of the special rules we’ll be using to attempt to recreate this “Monash Doctrine” – as well as retrofitting Valor & Victory AFV rules into new Mark V “male” and “female” tanks for use in 1918 Great War games.

So far we’ve seen the Australians make their initial assault across no man’s land toward the primary line of German trenches – making the best use of tanks as mobile cover, as well as craters.  They took a little extra time in avoiding minefields, and used the advance and assault phase of their turn to pick their way through German barbed wire.

Of course this gave the Germans additional time to hit them with MG fire, but so far this has been surprisingly light.  What hasn’t been light, however, is German mortar fire, which has been murderous.  But now the British tanks are close enough to start laying down suppressive fire, and the massive wave of off-board artillery is about to hit the German line just before the Australians reach the trench line.

So this image shows the Australians’ 10 light and 5 heavy artillery barrages, scheduled to hit in the Command Phase of their Turn 2.  They’re using 1918 “drift” rules, however, and so they’re not terribly accurate by World War II standards.  The final locations of the artillery barrages are shown, you can see where only a few of them have actually landed on their targets.

In fact, two mortar barrages have almost hit British tanks!

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

Even those barrages that hit their targets haven’t always done the best damage, especially in the southern part of the line.  However, one barrage in the center has really hit home.  Note the darkened German units set off on an angle, these represent units eliminated by the artillery.

Units that are set at an angle but still “illuminated” are not eliminated, but pinned, and thus unable to use opportunity or defensive fire against Australian infantry sections as they continue their advance toward the German trench line.

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

With off-board artillery resolved (and somewhat disappointing except that one really powerful smash in the German center), we move on to Australian / British direct fire phase.  In general, the rule in Valor & Victory is that you can move or fire, not both in a single turn.  So these British Royal Tank Corps Mark Vs along the southern part of the line all fire at German targets.

But they roll very badly, the Germans making the best of their +2 cover bonus afforded them by their trenches.  Only a few additional German units are pinned or eliminated.

After firing, all units then get to move one hex in the “Assault and Advance” phase, the tanks crawling forward just a little.

A quick word about these tanks … the “male” tanks are armed with two 6-pound guns in side-mounted sponsons, along with a handful of machine guns.  The “female” tanks have no cannon, but are armed instead with many more machine guns.

Historically, the general idea was to send these tanks into assaults mixed in pairs (hence the “male” and “female” metaphor).  The MG-armed female tanks would suppress enemy infantry and gun crews while the cannon-armed males would shell enemy bunkers, gun positions, strongpoints, and buildings.

This actually works out great in Valor & Victory – since, when tanks are close assaulted by enemy infantry, they can fight back only with MGs, cannons cannot be used against enemy infantry crawling right up on your tank’s hull.  This makes “males” very vulnerable to enemy close assault, unless they have females alongside to cover for them.  Females are also better at engaging targets in multiple directions, as these MGs are mounted all over the tank’s hull (none of these tanks have a turret).

Conversely, armed only with MGs, the females cannot engage enemy targets past a certain range (cannons in Valor & Victory have unlimited range at least on the relatively small battle areas depicted on the map boards), and only males can engage fortified or armored targets.

Male or female, though, at least so far these tanks aren’t doing very well at all.

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

Further north, however, one MArk V male does much better, landing 6-pounder shells and Hotchkiss .303 machine gun ammo right into the German trench to devastating effect.

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

With the artillery and tanks doing all they can, we’re finally onto Australian movement phase.  Eager to get out of no-man’s land, they have decided not to fire, instead retaining their movement phase for fast advance the rest of the way to the German trenches for a series of close assaults.

The first Australian assault however, actually fails.  Even against this gravely weakened German platoon position (an MG 08 and crew, a half squad that includes an MG 08 15 LMG, and an officer -Leutnant Ritter), the Australians take serious casualties to point-blank German opportunity fire, which weakens their assault to the point that very bad dice rolls actually causes the assault to fail.

Failed assaults in Valor & Victory is something you never want to see.  The casualty points you have to pay = the number of non-pinned enemy units in the target hex + terrain bonus (2 for trench) + the margin by which you failed the roll.  The Germans, however, must also sustain casualty points = the number of enemy units that just assaulted them, and this was the hex already badly blooded by that Mark V tank fire.

So by way of grim default, the Germans have basically run out of men in this hex anyway.  But because the Australian assault technically failed, those few survivors do not get to occupy the German hex, thus leaving the survivors pinned down in the open just in front of the German trench.

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

Things go a little better for the Australians in the center, where one Mark V “female” tank that did not have a target earlier (and so did not fire, thus leaving her eligible to move) instead overruns the German trench.  Tank overruns are terribly nasty, although again they can’t use their cannons point-blank against enemy infantry in the same hex.

Good thing “females” don’t have cannons, those weapons mounts instead taken by more machine guns, which are doubled  in overrun attacks.

In short, this makes “female” tanks absolute monsters in overrun attacks, as these Germans learn to their dismay.  They do get the opportunity for a close assault on the tank as it comes in, and it almost succeeds (which would have blown up our first tank of the game).  But the British catch a break and the Germans just miss their roll.  The overrun goes in and wipes out this German position, finally putting the first real crack in the German trench line.

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 03)

Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 02)

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Finishing this game today come hell or high water.  If there was ever a day for it, the day is today.

 

I keep meaning to really cut loose on the Battle of Hamel game in Valor & Victory, pitting a company of General Sir John Monash’s Australian infantry + eight Mark Vs of the Royal Tank Corps up against an understrength “reserve kompanie” of Germans (4 July 1918).

Things keep coming up, but I have finished the first full turn.  This is gonna be a big one, folks.  We’ll see if the Australians and tankers can do as well here as they did historically!

North wing of the Australian assault.  Firegroups based on German MG fire (assisted by direction of German officers) actually don't do very much damage up here.  Australians are making the most of the craters where they can (+1 to APFP fire checks) and I'm counting tanks as a V&V North wing of the Australian assault. Firegroups based on German MG fire (assisted by direction of German officers) actually don't do very much damage up here. Australians are making the most of the craters where they can (+1 to APFP fire checks) and I'm counting tanks as a V&V "LOS Hindrance" if enemy fire has to pass THROUGH a hex occupied by a tank.
In the center, the Germans score more successes,  Their MG 08 and MG 08 15s do better, but what really scores are German 7.58cm In the center, the Germans score more successes, Their MG 08 and MG 08 15s do better, but what really scores are German 7.58cm "minenwerfer" mortars. Three strikes are called in, and two score amazingly well. A squad and a half are taken out right here (12 men rendered combat ineffective, say 6 casualties = 4 wounded, 2 killed outright). Note that Australian movement has taken place through no man's hand with +2 movement bonus for stacking with officers (where applicable), plus they are avoiding all minefields. They've advanced into barbed wire where possible, but used "Assualt Movement" phase to then advance THROUGH the wire. It just slows them down and gives the Germans potentially another fire phase.
Turn One is now complete.  No German casualties so far.  The Australians have lost three full squads (24 men = 12 actual casualties = 4 killed, 8 wounded).  But Australian artillery is about to hit (Monash Fire Special Rule) and of course the tanks (both Mark V Male and Females) are close to the German Trench line, and ready to cut loose.Turn One is now complete. No German casualties so far. The Australians have lost three full squads (24 men = 12 actual casualties = 4 killed, 8 wounded). But Australian artillery is about to hit (Monash Fire Special Rule) and of course the tanks (both Mark V Male and Females) are close to the German Trench line, and ready to cut loose.

Battle is set - Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 01)

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Battle is set - Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 01)

German forces:
x20 squads (roughly three companies, an understrength battalion).
+ x8 minefields, x6 barbed wire, x3 7.58cm minenwerfer mortars,
x4 MG 08 MGs, x12 MG 08 15
166 officers and men. 12 grenades

Australian forces:
x18 squads (two companies)
+ x9 Lewis Guns, zero Vickers Guns or mortars, x5 heavy barrages, x10 light barrages
(special 1918 Edition “Preparatory Artillery Barrage” rules – except the hit on the beginning of Turn 2)
151 officers and men. 12 grenades

British forces:
x4 Mark V “Male” tanks, x4 Mark V “Female” tanks
64 officers and men

VICTORY CONDITIONS – Game last ten turns. At the end of Turn 10, one pint for each building hex controlled / last occupied by each side.

Battle is set - Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 01)

Closeup of part of the Australian assault force, backed up by Mark V “male” and “female” tanks of British Royal Tank Corps.

Battle is set - Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 01)

Part of the German forward defenses.  Note the two general bands of trench systems (primary and reserve).

German backfield, where 16 building hexes are ready to either be defended or occupied.  One point per building hex controlled by either side at the ned of Turn 10.  The Australians have tons of firepower, tanks, artillery, superior troops, etc.  But the Germans have plenty of space to trade for time … and they have defense.  For the Germans this is defense, absorb, and delay.  For the Australians this is assault, break through, and move FAST.

Battle is set - Australians vs. Germans at Hamel, 1918 (Part 01)

Building four-board map for upcoming tank breakthrough game

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Building four-board map for upcoming tank breakthrough game

I’ve finished building a quick four-panel (four standard Valor & Victory map sections) “trench assault zone” for an upcoming game we’re running to support the 1918 Armistice Centennial Article Series.

In very quick summary these four panels are (from left to right)

  1. No Man’s Land assault zone
  2. Primary German trench line
  3. Secondary German trench line
  4. Town that the Germans are defending

The attackers, obviously, are going to be assaulting from east to west.  This will be a rather large game for Valor & Victory, and will feature my new Australian infantry and British tanks.  In this way, I hope to approximate some of the actions seen at the Battle of Hamel (4 July 1918) and Amiens (8 August, 1918), where Australians of Monash’s Australian Corps (Rawlinson’s Fourth Army, BEF), spearheaded by British tanks, used new close coordination tactics of artillery, assault infantry, and tanks to crack brittle German defenses held by troops depleted and exhausted by the recent “Kaiserschlacht” spring offensives of March-June.

This will be the first time I’ve used AFVs in Valor & Victory in quite a while, and definitely the first time I’ve used them in a World War II setting.

British Armor in 1918 Great War

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In continuing expansion of our Valor & Victory: 1918 Edition, we’re adopting the armor rules for this WW2 system back into 1918 values for use in our ongoing 1918 Centennial Commemorative Valor & Victory games.

Here we see a very quick sample of some of the tank units drawn up in the Valor & Victory system.  This isn’t from an actual game or battle, just showing off the new counters created on lunch hour today.  😀

 

British Armor in 1918 Great War

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

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All right – let’s wrap this up.

The firefight between “Johnston’s Company” 12th Royal Irish Rifles / 36th Ulster Division and “Bothi’s Kompanie” / 12th Bavarian Division in the streets of Courtrai, Belgium … concludes.

In the wake of McCabe’s bloody, but valorous and successful, assault against the German mortar pit and the east wing of the Courtrai municipal building (i.e., the “Courthouse”) – the Germans now pivot to attack from within the Courthouse. Fighting is now within the same building, no longer street to street and house to house, but room to room. Unfortunately, McCabe just took too many losses in his assault to really hold his position against a German assault of this size.

That said, the first German attack (going after just four men, a half-section previously pinned by German opportunity fire during McCabe’s assault) rolls disastrously … double sixes, the worst possible roll. The assault technically fails costing (a) number of Irish units in the target hex + (b) terrain bonus + (c) margin by which the roll was failed = total casualty points. The Irish half squad, although victorious, has to lose casualty points = the number of German units that just attacked it. Short answer … the two sides wipe each other out.

Meanwhile, 30 meters to the south in the shattered remains of that German mortar pit, Lt. McCabe (DSO) now faces assault against 13 German troops, including an officer, an 8 man squad, and a 4 man half squad, that 4-man team carrying an MG 08 15 LMG. Even with his “Valor” bonuses, McCabe is doomed to a glorious last stand. He counts as 2 units (Valor), +2 for the sandbags = he costs the Germans four casualty points, but is likewise removed from play. He goes down, but seriously takes out (kills, wounds, or panics) eight Germans before going down.

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Flynn’s platoon, meanwhile, hooks north, back into those east rooms of the Courthouse, and then assaults the Germans who just overran McCabe. The assault basely succeeds, but does succeed, and Setesch’s platoon is likewise eliminated, although costing yet more Irish casualties in the process. The Irish have lost the bulk of two platoons in this firefight, but for now, they have a foothold in the Courtrai municipal building (objective if the game). They have an understrength platoon in the courthouse.

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

The Germans don’t miss this development. The platoon and a half facing Lyons to the northwest immediately pulls out, double-timing it back through their buildings, racing to the western offices of the Courthouse. They thus give up that whole wing of the battlefield, but have no choice if they want to continue to contest Irish possession of the Courthouse that decides the game. The smokescreen that Lyons was calling in to cover his upcoming assault is now actually an obstacle for his own MG fire (Vickers section in that stack), taking a shot at the retreating Germans of Ritter’s platoon as they cross the courtyard roundabout street back into the Courthouse. Rolling a 10, though, the shot would have done no damage anyway.

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Turn 6 – last turn of the game. If the Irish are going to win this, they have to clear that courthouse, NOW. Flynn’s platoon is badly shot up, so it’s up to Lyons to carry this one in. First he directs more MG fire down the street into the courthouse, managing to pin a German half-squad with an MG 08 15 LMG (better that than the fire team manning the MG 08 HMG). Okay, now the smoke screen drops in from the mortars, landing right in front of the remaining German gunners to provide Lyon’s assault with the best possible cover. In goes the assault, Lyons taking every man with him except the Vickers crew (he’s chosen NOT to set up a “fire lane” with this MG fire, obviously, he’d be running through his own MG fire).

The assault is a nasty one. Despite the smoke screen, the German point-blank MG 08 fire inflicts enough casualty points that Lyons is forced to drop a half-section of rifles. Weakened, the assault goes in, except now he no longer outguns the German force he’s assaulting. At 1-1 odds, Lyons needs a 6 or less on 2d6 … actually pretty poor odds (41.7%, actually).

But he actually makes it, with a five!

Holy hell, the Irish have RE-breached the courthouse, although again, costing Lyons four casualty points (one non-pinned unit, one officer, +2 for building).

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Here, however, is where Lyons’ luck desert him. He had to pay four casualty points. He only had two half-squads left, each with three casualty points. So he dropped one half squad (thus paying 3), then had to pay one more. He could either “overpay” by dropping the second half squad, “Pin” himself, or pin the other half squad. He chooses the latter. This way, he can apply his -1 leadership bonus to the difficulty of rallying that half squad (officers give bonus to rallying men, not vice-versa).

It’s the smart play. It just doesn’t work out. Normally the rally difficulty is six or less on 2d6. +1 for “E” Elite Irish Regiment. +1 for Lyon’s readership. They now need an 8 or less on 2d6 (72.22%). Except they roll a 9.

Now Neumann’s survivors can counter-assault on German Turn 6. The pinned units are automatically eliminated for free. Lyons alone fights to fend off the assault, and he’s outnumbered 9-1 (full squad + officer including MG 08 15). Lyons goes down, although costing the Germans four troops in the process.

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Thus we have the final outcome of the game. The Germans have one officer and four men in the northwest corner office of the Courthouse (including an MG 08 15). Thus, technically they win the game as the Irish were unable to clear the building in the allotted time.

However, it’s pretty clear that the Irish would win this battle on Turn 7. Lt. Flynn has nine men and a Lewis Gun in the east offices of the Courthouse. There’s another four men and a Lewis Gun across the street to the northwest, plus the four men on that Vickers MG and four more commanding the 76mm Stokes Mortar section. Thus with 21 men to the Germans’ 5, Flynn would be able to clear this building “in overtime.”

But that’s asymmetrical wargaming. The weaker side (usually defense) just has to hold on for a certain amount of time, inflict a certain amount of damage, etc. In this case, timetables for Irish artillery may have been thrown off because they can’t get an observer up in the upper floors of that Courthouse on time. Other battalions might have to cancel their attacks now because of lack or artillery and failing daylight … or worse … might be ordered to go in without artillery support. Thanks to the delay of taking that Courthouse, other withdrawing German units might have made it across the Leie (Lys) River or the Bossuit Canal. Who knows?

Anyway, this concludes this battle report. Hope some of you liked it.

Battle Report Part 04 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

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Battle Report Part 03 – 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

The firefight between “Johnston’s Company” 12th Royal Irish Rifles / 36th Ulster Division and “Bothi’s Kompanie” / 12th Bavarian Division in the streets of Courtrai, Belgium … continues.

When we left off, the Germans were doing very well in the west, where a powerful counterassault had actually eliminated McAuley’s platoon, and Lyons’ platoon on the far west was pinned down in the open having failed an assault against the German wing. Somehow Lyons and his survivors weren’t killed in the next phase of German fire, and now he’s managed to call in a smoke mission from the company mortar section, MG fire from one of the Vickers sections, covering a withdraw back to safety in the ruins of bombed-out building. German opportunity fire has missed, somehow Lyons has survived with enough of his platoon to … in the turn or two … put it together with the company reserve to form a new platoon that will hold together the Irish right wing.

Meanwhile, things are going badly for the Irish on the left. Flynn’s platoon has failed to suppress the German mortar crew behind the objective building, and when Captain Johnston tries to rush through said building and assault that mortar pit, he and his platoon are actually shot up so badly they are removed from play. Captain Johnston is probably badly wounded, he and most of his men on the way back to an aid station, or worse. No “bad moves” were made here, just poor nice (note the rolls, remember low rolls are better in this game).

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

The German Turn 03 is modest, conservative, tactical, and cautious.  They’re on defense, after all.  They win just by surviving in that big municipal building at the south center of the board. They get some lucky rolls and take out the Vickers section that was trying to come up to support McCabe and Flynn, but other than that they’re just trying to keep the Irish at bay, make them pay for any advances, and run out the clock.  So far they’re doing very well, although Lyons continues to consolidate a new Irish right wing to the northwest.

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

While Flynn’s platoon again tries to put down fire suppression on the mortar pit behind the German-held courthouse, McCabe’s platoon tries to rush through the same rooms Johnston tried a while ago, assaulting the same German mortar pit. Again, it’s a bloodbath, but this time the attack does succeed. Furthermore, the assault rolls snake eyes (best roll in the game), which means everyone who participated in that immediate assault gets to make a “Valor Check.” Success means that unit becomes “Valorous,” getting all kinds of bonuses.

Sure enough, he may be the last man in his platoon, but Lt. McCabe has just earned his DSO!

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Meanwhile, in order to apply his -1 leadership bonus to the bulk of his new “battlegroup” Lyons has to be with them.  Therefore, he must run backwards from his original platoon, across the street, and then back into the rear of the building in which the bulk of his new force is forming up.  The Germans have one very nice moment of opportunity fire against this move, and “Lyons’ run” is very risky.  But he makes it.  Barely.  Now Lyons can see more of the German force, and can also see the mortar section behind him.  This means he can call in indirect fire from the mortar using our 1918 Edition “radio-less” indirect fire rules.

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Closeup of the “Snake Eyes Assault.”

Battle Report Part 03 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

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Okay, with the first big MG positions cracked on the German right wing, and with Lyons’ and McAuley’s platoons closed up with the Germans on the left wing, Captain W. Johnston “blows the whistle” and makes a general assault.

This … will get  messy.

Working our way from left to right, first we have Lyons’ platoon making a rush down the street toward Neumann’s platoon holed up in those ruins to the west.  The company mortar section drops in some smoke to help cover this, but Lyons will be taking plenty of opportunity fire from the front, plus Ritter’s platoon to the southeast, plus a back-up MG 08 nest.   I’m not sure how much cover that smoke is really going to give …

Meanwhile, McAuley’s platoon makes a shove straight at the MG o8 position facing him.  He has no smoke or cover, but that MG 08 is more or less alone, so he should be all right.

McCabe’s platoon is laying down fire from one wing of that eastern building to the next, trying to pin down Steiner’s platoon to help facilitate Johnston’s charge blitzing across the street, then through the ruins, and then finally straight into the teeth of Steiner’s position.

Flynn, meanwhile, will be flanking around the far Irish left, getting at the German mortars hopefully and unhinging their right wing.

Dice show the results of the German opportunity fire and McCabe’s attempt at covering fire.

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

German opportunity fire has been deadly.  Despite poor die rolls from Neumann and the MG 08 nest, Ritter has rolled very well against Lyons and mauled his platoon badly despite smoke cover.  The assault is now underpowered, and despite committing three grenades (after Lyons carefully applies casualty points to allow the maximum use of grenade counters), the assault FAILS!  The survivors of Lyon’s platoon are now pinned down in the street!

McAuley’s assault, as predicted, succeeds (it’s just hitting a MUCH weaker target) – but he must still take casualties for breaching a building holding one German unit (half-squad, MG crew).

McCabe’s support fire didn’t do very much (just a bad die roll against heavy defensive modifiers), and Johnston’s assault barely succeeds against Steiner’s platoon.  Steiner’s position is wiped out, but Johnston’s platoon has paid a steep price.  Johnston softens the butcher’s bill by taking additional pinned (his men are being more cautious and less reckless, thus more immobilized and but taking fewer actual losses) – he’s relying on his -2 leadership bonus and his mens’ “E” elite rating to rally before his pinned sections are counter-assaulted by Germans next turn.

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Irish rallies don’t go quite as well as hoped.  Although Johnston’s sections rally, Lyons’ do not (Lyons himself does, however).  It doesn’t look good on the Irish right wing …

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

The German Turn 02 sees some wild reverses of fortune.   Starting from left to right …

Lyon’s men should be meat on the table – they are pinned down in a street, the smoke cover dissipating (note the +1 instead of +2) point blank German platoon in front, and MG 08 on their flank.  But they somehow survive!

McAuley, who was doing so well last turn, is not so lucky.  Ritter’s platoon counterattacks (after McAuley fluffs defensive fire) and McAuley’s whole platoon is wiped out!  He does take a nasty slash out of Ritter’s platoon, though.

The German Kompanie KP, meanwhile, holed up in the large, central objective building to the south, starts pouring fire down into McCabe’s position.  But Bothi’s platoon rolls boxcars – summoning another British sniper attack!  This time the sniper also rolls a six (best roll), inflicting automatic 6 casualty points – any terrain bonus (-2 for ruined buildings) = 4 casualty points … Bothi’s section is wiped out!  Technically by its own attack roll!

The rest of the fire is pretty ineffective.  Even after house-ruling all these buildings as -2 “ruined buildings” instead of the -3 “normal” buildings, these city battles just aren’t going to be decided by exchanging fire.  This is going to be about pinning, assault, trench knives and shovels (because both sides are now out of grenades).

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

A quick close up on Lyon’s miraculous survival, McAuley’s last stand, and Bothi’s hapless encounter with an Irish sniper …

Battle Report Part 02 - 36th Ulster Division at Courtrai (October 19 1918)

Battle Report Begins! Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

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Germans set up first, anywhere in the south six rows of the map.  The Irish set up second, allowed to set up anywhere in the top four rows of the map as long as they are not in direct LOS of any German unit.  Once they Irish set up, any Irish leader is allowed to call in a fire mission (special 1918 Edition “Preparatory Artillery Barrage” rules) with the four light mortar barrages included in their OOB.

*These OBA fire missions can only come in on Turn 1.  Since Irish units cannot set up with LOS on German units, none of  these will be “on target” per normal OBA rules.  Therefore, the must drift to have any chance at any effect.  On a d6:  1 = lands on designated hex.  On a 2-5 drift one hes.  On a 6 drift 2 hexes.

Also, they can set up a normal rules fire mission with their own integral 76mm Stokes section (1918 Edition “radio-less:” indirect fire rules – the spotter has to have LOS on the target, and the mortar battery has to have LOS on the spotter for visual signals for fire adjustment).

Irish use their Stokes mortar to set down smoke shells to cover the advance of McCabe’s & Flynn’s platoon.

Battle Report Begins!  Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

Irish mortar fire is a complete wash.  Only one barrage hits anything, and rolls a 2d6 10 +3 for building = 13, a very bad roll (low rolls are better in this game), so no effect at all.  Smoke screen goes down and the assault goes in.

Battle Report Begins!  Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

McCabe’s assault goe sin through the smoke screen.  Unfortunately, the line of sight was such that the smoke rounds couldn’t be put quite far enough down the street to cover his final deadly 30 yards, and he takes opportunity fire from three angles.  First, the MG 08 nest immediately in front (the one he’s assaulting) misses.  Chalk it up to to panic fire.

Next, the flanking MG 08 nest rolls box cars, the worst possible roll.  This results in a random Irish sniper appearing somewhere in the ruins, anywhere within line of sight of the unit that rolled the doubles sixes.  The sniper is placed in a spot where he can make the immediate allowed attack on the MG 08 next (but he misses), but also pin down Steiner’s platoon somewhat should he try to move in the wing of the building behind the MG 08 nests.

Haputmann Setesch’s fire, from the southwest, ironically, scores well enough to do some damage.  Lt. McCabe must take two casualty points, he can either pin down two units (both his sections) or take half a section of casualties and press home his assault.  Not wanting to be pinned down in front of a German MG pit in an open street and in a a three-way crossfire , he takes the casualties and carries the assault in.

Battle Report Begins!  Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

McCabe’s platoon and Flynn’s platoons make the assault.  They can use up to three grenades counters (Irish have 12 in all), but the Germans (with only one unit in each target hex – the MG 08 crew / half squad) can only use one.  So both Irish assaults use two grenades (giving them a surplus of +1), in addition to the +1  from  each platoon’s leadership bonus (the -1 for the leaders).

Both assaults are successful but bloody, each Irish platoon must pay one casualty point for the one German unit in its target hex (half squad MG 08 crew) and three points for the building terrain bonus = four total.  Both sides decide to pay -3 casualty points by knocking down a full squad to half (6 casualty points for a full squad down to 3), then pinning that half squad for the fourth required casualty point.

It’s a risky move, with Steiner’s platoon in that same building ready to immediately counter-assault.  But these Irish have an “E” elite rating, plus both platoons have a -1 leader (Flynn and McCabe).  So their odds of rallying before the German counterassault hits them are good.  In this game, it’s all about the quality of your men and your leaders.

Battle Report Begins!  Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

Johnston moves company command section up behind McCabe and Flynn.  On the other flank, Lyons and McAuley move up, using buildings for cover.  Mortar section edges out into street so Johnston can see them and pass signals, but noyt take took much fire now that McCabe and Flynn have taken out two forward MG positions.  German MGs can see Lyons and McAuley, will fire during their turn, McAuley and Lyons were careful to stey in and behind buildings.    Vickers sections  and reserve sections try to move up as well, but with out officers, and slowed by heavy weapons, they don’t get far.

Germans, meanwhile, move up reserve squad, and put McAuley;s platoon under fire from four directions.  Setesch’s platoon uses Assault Move to low-crawl back into the town hall building.  Not moving on the right wing for now, they can ignore the British sniper.  Werner puts mortar fire on McAuley’s platoon as well.  McAuley takes some casualty point, but with elite troops in a fortified position, and with no Germans immediately ready to assault, he takes the pins, and so takes no actual killed or wounded.

Hauptmann Bothi, however, with a half squad armed with MG 08 15s, however, scores more damage on  McCabe’s platoon.  But again, Irish are able to take the pin and not sustain any more killed or wounded.

ROUND ONE complete.

Battle Report Begins!  Battle of Courtrai - October 19, 1918

Building New Map and Setting up Battle for Royal Irish Rifles

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
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For best results, select the image, then expand by viewing in new tab.  😀

Game is now set up, now hopefully I’ll be able to play and include battle report tomorrow.

Overall double-sized map in Valor & Victory, set up for an assault of a company of 12th Royal Irish Rivals, 108th Brigade, 36th Ulster Division - against hastily-prepared positions of 12th Bavarian Division, X Reserve Corps, Fourth Army in Courtrai, Belgium, 19 October 1918.  Basically, the Irish have to assault south and take that large municipal building building at the bottom of themap that is forming the keystone of this German battalion's defense.Overall double-sized map in Valor & Victory, set up for an assault of a company of 12th Royal Irish Rivals, 108th Brigade, 36th Ulster Division - against hastily-prepared positions of 12th Bavarian Division, X Reserve Corps, Fourth Army in Courtrai, Belgium, 19 October 1918. Basically, the Irish have to assault south and take that large municipal building building at the bottom of themap that is forming the keystone of this German battalion's defense.
Four platoons of 12th Royal Irish RIfles, backed up by Vickers MG sections and 76mm Stokes mortars.Four platoons of 12th Royal Irish RIfles, backed up by Vickers MG sections and 76mm Stokes mortars.
An understrength company of 12th Bavarian Division, X Corps, on defense.  They have MG 08s, MG 08 15s (late war), minefields and barbed wire defenses to slow down assaults down the obvious approach routes. An understrength company of 12th Bavarian Division, X Corps, on defense. They have MG 08s, MG 08 15s (late war), minefields and barbed wire defenses to slow down assaults down the obvious approach routes.
Close up of the Irish center and left wing.Close up of the Irish center and left wing.
Close up of the German center and right wingClose up of the German center and right wing

Not to be outdone, also some Australians for WW1.

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 8
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Not to be outdone, the Australians now also have a force in 1918 Edition of Valor & Victory.  Some people feel the Australians were a little left out of the Great War article series we did earlier this year, I don’t think they quite realized the limited scope of that series or that most of the 1918 battles for which the Australian Corps / Fourth Army / BEF are famous actually took place afterwards.

But now we are “afterwards” so I definitely wanted to include them.

I actually made these guys really badass, note the “E” elite rating and the 5-5-6 full section combat values.  This makes them actually a little better than even the US Marines I drew up for Belleau Wood.  Much as I love and have close personal ties to the US Marine Corps, especially at Belleau Wood, the Marines of that era were hampered a little by inexperience, American army weapons, and especially French support weapons.

The Australians had none of those problems, and were every bit as aggressive and innovative as the Marines.  They were just more experienced and had slightly better weapons (Lewis Guns instead of M1915 Chauchats, etc).

** the only difference would be I give my Marines a -1 difficulty on close assaults, that’s the Model 1897 Winchester .12 gauge shotguns and entrenching tools.  Always dread the Marine and his “lobotomizer” This makes my Marines just a shade better in close assault, even though the Australians are probably better overall.

For comparison, my German “stosstruppen” (shock troop) storm troopers have an even BETTER assault value (actual SMGs, two extra pistols per man, extra grenades, etc), but a poor casualty rating (combat losses were nigh-suicidal) and a short range (4 instead of 6).

Anyway, here are the Australians for now.  This would by the four infantry divisions in General Sir John Monash’s Australian Corps, Rawlinson’s Fourth Army, BEF, July-November 1918.

The -2 commander (remember, -2 is a bonus, not a penalty) is named for my Australian friend @jamesevans140.  The -1 lieutenants are named for Australians who won the Victoria Cross in 1918 specifically.  There were plenty to choose from, a total of 66 Australians won the Victoria Cross during the Great War.

Not to be outdone, also some Australians for WW1.

Part Three - Corrected to "Royal Irish Rifles" (Pre-1921 Regimental Name)

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
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Shoulder flash corrected to Shoulder flash corrected to "Royal Irish Rifles" (Pre-1921 Regimental Name)

Also, found some pretty detailed maps of the 36th Ulster Division’s final advances as part of the Battle of Courtrai, October-November 1918.

Original map is from The History of the 36th (Ulster) Division by Cyril Falls.

I added some graphics based on connections I was able to draw from the text.

Part Three - Corrected to

Part Two - Completing 36th Ulster Division for Valor & Victory

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
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Almost done with the base counter template.Almost done with the base counter template.
Also found some shoulder patches I will try to recreate and incorporate into the counters.Also found some shoulder patches I will try to recreate and incorporate into the counters.
Finished counter, at least for the full rifle section.Finished counter, at least for the full rifle section.
The complete The complete "army" - not bad for a night's work. I have a -2 rated captain (the -2 is a bonus, not a penalty) - a certain fellow we may know from Coleraine. :) He's assisted by a cadre of brave lieutenants. Also, note the full rifle section, half rifle section, Vickers MG, Lewis Gun, "Mills Bomb" grenade counter, and 3-inch Stokes Mortar.
A reinforced company of the 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 109th Brigade, 36th Ulster Division (II Corps, British Second Army, BEF) in the streets of Beveren, Belgium (east of Ypres) - final days of the Great War.A reinforced company of the 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 109th Brigade, 36th Ulster Division (II Corps, British Second Army, BEF) in the streets of Beveren, Belgium (east of Ypres) - final days of the Great War.

Part One - Starting the Rifle Section Counter Build

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
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Time to build these units in PS 14.  First some quick research just so I can include some “historically approximate” unit identification in the units, approximate so they don’t become too specialized and I can only use the counters in a small number of games and scenarios.

First, find the badge for the Royal Ulster Rifles.  Hard-core historians will note that most of these regiments were actually disbanded in February / March 1918, when 36th Ulster was reorganized after their terrible losses of Flanders / Passchendaele 1916-1917.  Some were sent back to reserve brigades in Britain.  Others were folded into the remaining battalions.First, find the badge for the Royal Ulster Rifles. Hard-core historians will note that most of these regiments were actually disbanded in February / March 1918, when 36th Ulster was reorganized after their terrible losses of Flanders / Passchendaele 1916-1917. Some were sent back to reserve brigades in Britain. Others were folded into the remaining battalions.
Complete the badge, using some simple Photoshop.Complete the badge, using some simple Photoshop.
Here's the existing Commonwealth template counter for a full rifle squad (here set up for Australians).  I'm not a fan of the front figure, I'm going to change it out.Here's the existing Commonwealth template counter for a full rifle squad (here set up for Australians). I'm not a fan of the front figure, I'm going to change it out.
Found a new figure that will work better for the front figure.Found a new figure that will work better for the front figure.
Start work on the new counter template.  Remove the first figure.  Put in some of the new markings and unit combat data.  Note I'm keeping these Ulstermen as Start work on the new counter template. Remove the first figure. Put in some of the new markings and unit combat data. Note I'm keeping these Ulstermen as "elite" because ... well ... just because. Meanwhile, preparing the new kneeling figure to import into the composite counter.

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