Monday, 11 November 2019

Finally some more painting !

In between the cycling I have managed to get some painting done (I have also prepared quite a bit of stuff as well) so hopefully some more soon.
 First up some Russian ‘whites’ these are Copplestone figures painted up as the 1st Officers’ Regiment, one of the colourful Regiments from Southern Russia
Second some fairly random ancient artillery, picked up at a show secondhand so not sure who they are made by but these will find a place in one of our Blood in the Sand battles in the future.

More hopefully soon 😀

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Russian Counter attack Dünaburg Bridge

Our latest battle in our Barbarossa Campaign, following the exploits of Army Group North sees the Russian forces under Kuznetsov, 21st Mechanized Corps and 5th Airbourne Corps, attempt to break through a hastily developed defensive position held by Von Manstein’s 8th Panzer and the 3rd Motorised Division. The Germans having captured the Dünaburg Bridge are holding the town the Russian have been cut off and isolated so they are attacking East. The German bridgehead includes the town over the bridge and the castle where heavy artillery is able to target the advancing Russians. The battle took place on the 27th June 1941, and if not covered in much detail is ‘immortalised’ on the cover of the Osprey Campaign book which we use for to help planning our battles🙂

and on to the action............
Germans infantry in the bridgehead have built hasty defensive positions
The gun emplacements marks the access to the bridge which is to the right in this picture, a Panzer II as per the Peter Dennis picture.
The Russians had the advantage of seeing the German defensive setup, and also brought down a fairly effective bombardment pinning some of the Germans early on. Lots of Russian infantry keen to break through to the East !
Supported by a couple of BT7 tanks
The ground is fairly open but has a number of drainage channels etc which the russians use to advance
They are quickly at the half way point in significant numbers.
The Germans on the right flank find they are not being opposed so start to advance supported by a 38(t) looking to sweep around the Russian flank
The Germans are supported by artillery situated over the river in the Citadel
and then with a whoosh the 38(t) explodes into flames
The Russians including this unit of elite infantry are now pushing forward to their objective which is to overrun the German defensive line
Having made a dash for the farm house a German unit prepares to outflank the Russian charge
The Russians are taking casualties and pins but this is only slightly slowing them down
The Panzer II has turned to defend the small gully in front of the German lines, a hit on the BT7 but only temporary damage which is quickly repaired
A period shot.......
More Russian infantry advancing beyond the farm
Russian infantry just seems to be everywhere
The thin German defence line is now starting to fall apart and is being overwhelmed 
Clinging on a single machine gun unit
Russian infantry reach the defences 
..... and are then through them, the German commander is being told in no uncertain terms to surrender as he ponders the map and wonders where it all went wrong.

A significant victory for the Russians this time, they played a clever battle focussing their assault whilst the Germans were spread out. The German Artillery was completely useless and we probably under played it putting the Germans at a disadvantage from the start. This combined with poor German dice and the game was up.

But they can’t have it all their own way and a good battle all the same.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Battle of Hereford 1055

Some time ago in issue 365 of Wargames Illustrated there was an excellent article about the battle of Hereford 1055. I won’t go into the full history which is covered well in the article by Pete Brown. The particular interest in the battle is the opportunity to use a wide range of dark age figures in one battle. The other benefit for us is there is fairly little real detail known about the battle so we were free to fill in any details we fancied. The key protagonists were Aelfgar son of Leofric a Mercian Earl exiled by King Edward who fled to Ireland returning with a sizeable force of mercenary Dublin Vikings, this augmenting his small Housecarl retinue. He then joined forces with Gruffyd ap Llywelyn, who would one day become the first King of Gwynedd. This unlikely alliance marched on Hereford in October 1055. King Edward’s Norman nephew Ralph de Sudeley had been made Earl of Hereford and had spent the previous years attempting to develop the Local Saxons into a more Norman style army. Specifically mentioned is the fact that some of the Saxon troops were forced to fight on horseback which they weren’t very comfortable about. The only other named character we included was Bishop AEthelstan of Hereford who for our battle has taken to the battlefield to encourage the defending Saxon forces.

So from this point we made everything else up as we felt .........this was a large and bloody battle so I apologise for so many photos 🙂
The overview of the battlefield
The bulk of the Saxon Forces around Hereford
A view up towards Hereford the poorly trained Saxon cavalry in the foreground
A close up of Hereford where one of the residents is putting on a show for the locals.
A better view looking down the battlefield 
Ralph de Sudeley in the foreground with his ‘Norman’ forces facing off against the hordes of Welsh
The Dublin/Irish Vikings
Aelfgar and his small retinue of Saxon Housecarls
The battle now begins with a general advance 
Both sides seeking to get some terrain advantage, the meadow/poorly drained area will slow movement but only slightly, we agreed three objectives the bridge, the cross and the church at Holme Lacy. There was an unspoken extra objective for the welsh/Vikings to get into Hereford itself
According to the limited history of the battle the Saxon cavalry were reluctant infantry so we ensured they had a lower than average morale, despite this they charged straight towards the enemy in front of them
Close to the cross the Real Norman knights have also decided to charge headlong at the welsh
Closer to Holme Lacy the Normans look on as Welsh Berserkers charge down the hil
The knights smash into a horde of welsh
Looking from behind Holme Lacy the welsh light cavalry is causing havoc in the Norman battleline
The reluctant Saxon Cavalry charge into the Irish 
A sense of the wider battlefield developing
The Saxons commanded by AEthelstan slowly move forward happy to use the meadowlands as cover
Everything is starting to break up to the right with individual units slugging it out in combat
After a couple of turns of combat the knights have broken through the welsh....this could be decisive in the same turna second horde of welsh flees the field
Strong Saxon Forces in front of Hereford
....but the Vikings are getting closer as the skirmishers out front are brushed aside

The Norman cavalry having made a break through is then ripped to shreds by a pack of Wardogs, who knew that wardogs are most effective against cavalry !
Ralph de Sudeley has galloped up to capture the cross but is surrounded by welsh light archers
Despite their initial reluctance the Saxon cavalry is making some headway agains the Vikings 
A unit of welsh light cavalry attempts to hold the far end of the bridge but they are chased away by skirmishers with javelins and short bows
Oh dear it was bound to happen the Saxons gallop off
A view down the battlefield, much of the Saxon army not yet tested
Gruffyd and a single welsh warrior (female) charge in against Ralph
The Vikings and Aelfgar’s small Saxon retinue have now reached the meadow, will the Saxons have the strength to hold them back ?
Closer to the cross another welsh horde is crashing into the Saxon flank
Vikings on the bridge !
True to his later nickname Ralph the Timid flesh the field !
But the Saxon Housecarls holding in front of Hereford haven’t noticed and they remain in place
The defence line is finally starting to break and the only force remaining in front of the city gates is a regiment of levy townsfolk
At Holme Lacy the Normans have control with crossbows keeping any further welsh advance at bay
The bridge is being hotly contested but Athelstan is on the scene to hold the defence together
The Vikings do break through but only have enough time for a single round of combat and the townsfolk hold
A final view of the battlefield you get a sense of the blood which must have been spilt and the carnage as these are the only troops remaining as darkness falls it will no doubt take many years for the blood to wash away from the meadows.

A tremendous battle, fierce and bloody fighting as befitting a Dark Age battle. Technically it was a draw with the bridge contested and one objective each. Historically Ralph’s force didn’t do so well and abandoned the field leaving Hereford at the mercy of the welsh. 😀