The Battle of Hanging Hill
The build up of forces of the Army of the Severn Valley in and around Bristol had not gone un-noticed. HUMINT and SIGINT were pointing to a major offensive across the Avon being launched any time within the next week. All that was clearly known was that the offensive had the code name 'Operation Mangol Wurzel'. The forces of the Wansdyke Brigade needed to buy some time to get their defenses in order before the storm was unleashed upon them.
To this end, a reconnaissance-in-force was to be undertaken along the left flank of the AotSV, with the aim of causing as much disruption to the build up and gathering as much intelligence as possible on the forces arrayed against them. The 2nd Battalion Prince Alberts Somerset Light Infantry were chosen to lead the operation. They would receive some back-up from Cavalry and Hussar units from within the Wansdyke Brigade. It was known that a weak covering force from the Staple Hill Battalion of the Gloucestershire Royal Auxilliary Police were guarding the left flank, but little else was known for certain.
With units of the SHB entrenched around Noade's Leaze Farm and the road junction leading towards Bath, the 2nd Battalion PASLI were tasked with the following:
- 'Tongue Snatch'. To capture some prisoners and bring them back for interrogation.
- To cause as many casualties to the SHB as possible whilst minimising their own.
- To draw in re-inforcements of the AotSV, thus taking them away from the main attacking forces.
The attack was set to commence at 9.00am, so the 2nd Battalion passed through Bath in the night and took up positions in the early morning mist and waited for the off.
I used Scenario 10: Diversionary Attack from BKCII as a basis for the game. I had not used this scenario before so fancied giving it a run out, but more importantly it fitted the bill with regards to the background fluff as outlined above. I made a few tweaks, one being that only one set of re-inforcements would be available, rather than two. The other was that I used the optional rule of hits staying on to try and reflect the small nature of the battle that was being fought.
Staple Hill Battalion
CO - Major 'Weirdly' Strangeways
HQ - Captain 'Dodgy' Crookenden
9 x Infantry (conscripts)
3 x MG
1 x Armoured Car (Rolls Royce stats)
6 x Trenches
1 x Command Post
2nd Battalion PASLI
CO - Lt-Col 'Biffo' Frimley-Green
HQ - Major 'Bonzo' Atkinson
8 x Infantry (Regulars)
1 x MG
2 x Rolls Royce Armoured Cars
'Wagger' Thorntons Imperial Light Horse
Infiltration: +1 Flank Deployment
HQ - 'Captain 'Wagger' Thornton
3 x Infantry (Regulars)
3 x Cavalry
Take Your Places Please
The game was played on a 4'x4' table, with a re-inforced company of the SHB under the command of captain 'Dodgy' Crookenden, dug-in and around the road junction. The Company consisted of 4 infantry units and two MG support units, with the command post set up in Noade's Leaze Farm. The rest of the Battalion was situated close by.
The 2nd Battalion PASLI deployed either side of the road to Bath from line-of-march, in readiness to launch their attack, once given the off.
The SHB dug-in by Beach Wood and Noade's Leaze Farm. The MG units were sited to try and give maximum fields of fire, supported by infantry units.
A dug-in MG and Infantry unit.
Captain 'Dodgy' Crookenden outside his command post.
Zero hour arrived and Captain 'Wagger' Thornton shouted "Tally Ho!" and to a man his Imperial Light Horse set off at the gallop along the right flank, making a wonderful sight in the early Spring sunshine. Unfortunately they looked so splendid that Captain 'Bonzo' Atkinson and Lt-Col Biffo' Frimley-Green forgot to order their own troops to advance!
For Captain 'Dodgy' Crookenden, the sound of horse hooves somewhere to his left came as a bit of a shock. He ordered his men to stand to, but with no visual sighting of the enemy, they waited nervously in their trenches.
The Imperial Light Horse sweep majestically along the right flank.
Captain ' Wagger' Thornton and his men resplendent upon their white chargers.
Oh what a dashing sight the Imperial Light Horse cut as they sweep round the edge of Beach Wood and threaten to turn the left flank of the SHB. Spurred on by the superb example set by 'Wagger' and his men, Captain 'Bonzo' Atkinson with a stout "Huzzah" leads off and his troops advance towards Sir Bevil Grenvilles monument and Beach Wood. Not to be outdone, Lt-Col 'Biffo' Frimley-Green orders his armoured cars along the road to seek out the SHB, whilst infantry advance along the left to protect their flanks.
Captain 'Dodgy' Crookenden sensing the threat to his left flank, orders an infantry unit into Beach Wood to protect said flank. He immediately follows this with a call to Major 'Weirdly' Strangeways, alerting him to the presence of enemy troops and vehicles to his front and flank, ending with "things might get a little sticky Sir".
The 2nd Battalion PASLI advance line abreast towards Beach Wood.
"If you go down in the woods today, you're sure of a big suprise..." The Imperial Light Horse seen through Beach Wood.
Captain 'Bonzo' Atkinson and his men advance towards Sir Bevil Grenvilles' monument.
Unfortunately the Imperial Light Horse come to a standstill, their horses possibly blown after their sweeping advance to turn the SHB's flank. 'Bonzo' Atkinsons steadier advance in the centre pays dividends as they move into position on the monument to cover Beach Wood and the road. On the left flank, the troops towards Beach Wood and the Armoured Cars make contact with the SHB and open fire, but to no effect.
The sound of gunfire has an obvious detrimental effect upon 'Dodgy' Crookenden, who gets the willies and freezes in the face of the enemy. His infantry in Beach Wood are left in the lurch without orders and unsure of what to do next.
With the Imperial Light Horse recovered, they resume their advance and well and truly turn the SHB's left flank. 'Bonzo' Atkinson's troops move to the edge of the monument and spot the SHB infantry in Beach Wood. 'Bonzo' orders "rapid fire to the front" and the SHB infantry unit is well and truly suppressed. The Rolls Royce armoured cars continue to fire at the SHB MG unit, but still with no effect, whilst the infantry on the left flank move to the edge of Beach Wood.
'Dodgy' Crookenden continues to be wracked by indecision, with the volume of fire now coming in from his left flank as well as his centre.
The 2nd Battalion PASLI having turned the SHB's left flank, are threatening the centre with troops moving towards Beach Wood on the left flank.
"Rapid fire to the front" has the desired effect.
'Wagger' Thornton and his Imperial Light Horse having successfully turned the SHB's flank.
Having turned the flank, the Imperial Light Horse dismount and take up positions along the hedgerow, ready to attack towards Noade's Leaze Farm. Initiative fire finishes off the SHB infantry unit in Beach Wood, then 'Bonzo' Atkinson orders his troops to advance towards the road and through the woods to increase pressure on the SHB's left flank. Once alongside the road, the troops open fire but to little effect, but opportunity fire back causes the suppression of one on 'Bonzons' infantry units. 'Biffo' Frimley-Green orders his flanking infantry unit to advance cautiously through Beach Wood but to keep out of sight of the SHB units. The armoured cars shooting finally pays off, causing the first hits on the MG unit.
'Dodgy' Crookenden and his re-inforced Comapny's position is starting to look grave. However, he is still paralysed by indecision, and doubts begin to surface as to whether he is 'batting for the other side'.
The 2nd Battalion PASLI start to close in for the kill.
'Bonzo' Atkinson and his troops in position to attack the SHB's left flank.
The opening shots have little effect.
The Imperial Light Horse sit tight behind the hedgerow, whilst 'Bonzo' Atkinson troops initiative assault the SHB infantry unit dug-in on the road junction. With the supporting fire from the flank, the lone infantry unit assaulted the flank of the SHB infantry unit. The initial assault was indecisive, leading to vicious hand-to-hand combat in the trench, with the PASLI victorious and with the added bonus of a successful 'tongue snatch'. With the prisoners sent to the rear, the infantry unit consolidated it's position on the road junction. Unfortunately 'Bonzo' Atkinson is so busy dealing with the prisoners that he forgets to order his troops to carry on with the attacks.
Fortunately 'Biffo' Frimley-Green comes to the rescue, ordering the centre to move up and support the attack on the SHB MG unit. The volume of fire is taking its toll on the MG unit, who pluckily fight on, causing an infantry unit in the centre to be suppressed as a result of opportunity fire.
At last 'Dodgy' Crookenden stirs into action as the seriousness of the situation is all to evident. He orders two units to fall back onto the Command Post at Noade's Leaze Farm and for them to take up all round defence.
The assault goes in.
Things are starting to look awfully tight for the SHB Company.
Units of the SHB move into the Command Post to take up all round defence.
Awaiting any units foolish to assault over open ground.
Initiative fire from the PASLI centre and left flank finally puts pay to the stubborn SHB MG unit, leaving the SHB's right flank open (The SHB are now at breakpoint). 'Wagger' Thornton and his Imperial Light Horse take up all round defence as they can hear SHB re-inforcements approaching up the hill. With the confusion caused by the sound of approaching enemy troops, 'Bonzo' Atkinson fails to get orders through to his troops. 'Biffo' Frimley-Green takes stock of the situation and orders the Rolls Royce armoured cars to take up defensive positions at the t-junction. The infantry in Beach Wood advance to the edge, only to be met by a hail of fire that suppresses one of the infantry units.
'Weirdly' Strangeways and the rest of the Battalion arrive in the nick of time to try and retrieve the situation, much to the relief of 'Dodgy' Crookenden. The troops briskly move from line of march to line abreast as they advance towards the PASLI left flank. 'Dodgy' Crookendens troops exchange heavy fire with the PASLI troops in the woods, with both sides causing two hits.
The arrival of the 7th Cavalry?
'Weirdly' Strangeways and the SHB re-inforcements deploy for the attack.
'Weirdly' Strangeways leads from the front.
The Blue Maria takes up position to support the attack on Beach Wood.
The fire-fight around Beach Wood intensifies.
The Imperial Light Horse seeing the arrival of enemy forces to their left flank, move along the hedgeline to provide supporting fire if required. 'Bonzo' Atkinson orders his troops forward to the fence line on the other side of the road to add support to the fire-fight at Beach Wood, but orders to open fire fail to get through. The fire-fight at Beach Wood reaches new levels as the SHB unit in the trench as fired on from all sides; the volume of which is enough to nearly destroy them , with only their well dug trench saving them from certain disaster.
As the fire-fight continues, the dug-in unit manages to finish of one PASLI infantry unit on Beach Wood and then has to duck down to avoid the hail of lead that heads their way. 'Weirdly' Strangeways troops advance to the fence line and add their fire to the attack in Beach Wood, but to little effect.
The relief force tries to reach the embattled Company in and around Noade's Leaze Farm.
The fire-fight at Beach Wood.
A Mexican stand-off in the offing.
'Weirdly' Strangeways and his troops just too late to affect the outcome.
With the Spring sunshine fading into dusk, both sides began to withdraw to lick their wounds. The 2nd Battalion PASLI had won a major victory at the end of the day, having achieved the 'tongue snatch', drawn in re-inforcements away from the main attack force and kept their own casualties to a minimum. So with their heads held high they withdrew back through Bath and across the Avon to enjoy a well deserved pint or two of local ale.
All-in-all another very enjoyable BKCII game, even though it was played on a 4'x4' table and with relatively small forces. I thought the keeping the hits on worked very well and this is something that I will try in future games. It was fun coming up with the names and backgrounds for both forces and I think that this is one of the very appealing aspects of the AVBCW 'period'. Even though I was playing solo, it was fun to be using the characters names as I attempted to command each unit, it certainly added a nice bit of flavour.
In terms of the campaign, I'm tempted to give the LAotS a +1 to their random points modifier for the next game and a -1 to the AotSV. This is to reflect their improved intelligence of enemy forces and dispositions and conversely the loss of troops to protect the left flank.
So now it is time to try and paint up some more troops before the storm is unleashed across the Avon and beyond. I hope you enjoyed the AAR and as always, please feel free to comment.