Tuesday 16 September 2014

The 2nd Battle of the Corunna Road - January 1937

Over the weekend Reject Clint put on a cracking game set during the Spanish Civil War. Seven of us gathered in the Shed-o-War using a set of rules written by Clint the day before (allegedly)! The rules worked very well and made for a quick and easy game that flowed quickly and smoothly throughout. 

The Battle of Madrid in November 1936 had been fought to a standstill, with the Nationalists under Franco failing to take the city. They then started to besiege it, aiming to cut its links to the rest of Spain. Franco decided to attack the city from the North-West in order to cut off water and electricity supplies from the Sierra de Guadarrama and encircle the city. After a failed offensive in November, the Nationalists summoned a force of 17000 men, led by General Orgaz, with four mobile brigades (led by Garcia Escamez, Baron, Saenz de Buruaga and Monasterio), backed by heavy artillery and JU-52 Bombers. The Republican army had a few battalions led by Luis Barcelo.

Towards the end of December, Orgaz received reinforcements and decided to relaunch the offensive on 3rd January. This offensive becoma known as the Battle of the Fog. The Republican high command redeployed their units in the Pozuelo-Brunete sector. The Republicans had an army corps led by the Miaja with five divisions (led by Nino Nanetti, Modesto, Colonels Perea, Adolfo Prada and Galan) but had little ammunition or supplies. 

The Nationalists offensive started with a heavy artillery bombardment on the 14th December and Franco's troops occupied the town of Boadilla del Monte. Now in January a second big push is underway. This game will only deal with a very small part of the battle as the whole engagement lasted over a month. 

Republican Briefing - Maintaining the existence of this supply road into Madrid is vital to the City. This road must be maintained at all costs. It is thought that the Nationalists will want to capture the road and deprive the city of troops and supplies.  It is Vital that the road be held. You will be out numbered but I expect that you will do your duty and hold the road open. “No Pasan!”

Nationalist Briefing - Your troops will be attacking an undefended section of the road network Therefore you must advance your forces across the road and create a firm bridgehead secure from counterattack. It is not sufficient to merely push them back but to advance strongly and push the traitors back to where they are unable to support the road with rifle or artillery fire. The road must be uncontested and securely held.  While you out number and out gun the traitorous Republicans in this area they are not to be taken lightly. Your mission this day is to take and hold the Corunna Road in order to deprive the city of supplies and support.

All the players were also issued with individual mission objectives that were known only to them. These included things like holding a particular building or making sure your allies took more casualties than you! These represented the many competing factions within both sides and added a little extra dimension to our individual actions. 

Order of Battle
The arrival and deployment of forces in this game was quite fluid with both sides requesting and receiving reinforcements of various kinds throughout the game. Listing forces is therefore quite difficult because not everything available turned up. For example my side, the Republicans, requested reinforcements (some T26 light tanks) but we left it too late and they didn't arrive before the battle ended.

Opening positions...the Republicans (Myself, Ray and John) are positioned along the road in cover. The Nationalists (Smiffy, Postie and Surj) are on the far edge of the table.

Republican troops along the road. The Cavalry in the top left of the picture soon dismounted and were crucial to holding the center of the line.

My troops held the left flank and soon occupied the buildings at the road junction. The Nationalists were not able to capture the village and lost a lot of men trying. Right of these I had another unit on the road. These guys used slingshots to throw dynamite at the enemy!

In the distance the Nationalists advance towards my troops in the Village

The Cavalry in the center have dismounted and now hold the road and a crucial building. 

The rather unedifying sight of our opponents trying to 'help' with the re-positioning of a Republican artillery template which has landed short. It took all three several minutes to work out how to minimise their own casualties, but they got there in the end!!

Boom! Boom! Boom! Oh look at that, we missed, what a surprise!!

Republican reinforcements arrive and bolster the defence of the town on my flank

Contractual Postie shot.

The Fascists target my reinforcements with artillery. Very unsporting in my humble opinion.  

We (the Republicans) return artillery fire targeting their Armoured Car but narrowly miss yet again.

Later we redirected our fire against the Nationalist artillery and thankfully managed to eliminate them.

Surjit, John and Ray

In the distance Surjits troops advance cautiously towards Johns troops. There appeared to be some mis-communication among the Nationalist Generals because he insisted he had been told not to attack but later they claimed no such order had been given. With dissension in the ranks of the Nationalists and their attack delayed the Republicans sense things may be going their way. 

Meanwhile in the center, long range rifle file is slowly weakening our units there.

The Nationalists advance slowly but methodically towards their objective

From the Nationalist side their advance looks very strong against a very thin line of Republicans

The Republicans on the road are very thin on the ground

Ray (on right) wonders how he will be able to hold the center. He has requested reinforcements but the runner carrying the message has a long way to travel. To request reinforcements Ray had to detach a stand and either send it off the table (which would have taken at least four turns) or pass the message along the line, unit to unit, until it reached me, when I would send a stand off table with the message. This took three turns. Then Ray had to roll to see if his request had been answered. Lets just say he rolled 'badly'.

Ray re position's his dismounted cavalry and exchanges fire across the fields at the Nationalists

Meanwhile I have occupied the village in strength and the battered Nationalists have retreated to safety behind a hill. Any attempt to move by either party would have been severely punished and both sides settled into a stalemate. 

Beyond the central farmhouse Republican troops under John attempt to take the battle to the Nationalists. Accurate fire from the enemy and poor moral among his own troops saw one unit retreat and the other get bogged down and unable to advance. 

The stalemate on the flank means I have achieved my objectives and secured the road but it also ties down my troops. I try to shift some stands to reinforce my left flank (towards the center of the Republican line) but it has little effect on the outcome of the battle.

A big hole in the Center of the Republican line is now developing. Soon the Nationalists will have cut the road. The only hope now for the Republicans are those reinforcements (T26 Tanks!!) we requested hours ago... but the message never got through (or the messenger ran away) and the tanks never arrive. 

Republican artillery makes the Nationalists pay dearly for the road but ultimately they were unable to keep this vital supply line open. 

A brilliant game and a great set of rules. The game flowed well and the mechanics were quickly picked up by all the players. Despite being outnumbered by the nationalists, and not receiving all our reinforcements, we put up a stiff fight and made the Fascists pay dearly for the road. I believe Clint is working out the final points for the game to take into account individual objectives etc.

For a set of rules supposedly written the day before these worked amazingly well. One innovation in particular that I think we were all impressed with, was the measuring method for firing and movement. This involved folding an A4 sheet in half and half again thereby providing us with four simple basic measurements: A4 Long Side (effective shooting range); A5 Long Side (Running); A5 Short side (close range); A6 Short side (movement when crossing an obstacle like a hedge or wall). The A4 sheet also had the basic rules printed on them so when folded we had a rules booklet and a measuring device in one handy package. A simple yet brilliant idea. 

Very well done to Clint for putting on such a great game and I'm sure this won't be the last time we play these rules and this period in the Rejects Shed-o-War. 


  1. Replies
    1. Its easy to write a good batrep when the game and the rules are this good!

    2. Praise from the Praise worthy is above all rewards. Very kind words. Lee and really appreciated.

  2. Great report, looked a good game as well


  3. Good post!
    I see you´ve been bitten by the SCW bug too!
    Seems in riusing popularity these days in the blogosphere (incuding me since early summer) ... and I wonder why

  4. Clever rules/measuring stick. Really good looking game too - if we weren't about to start 28mm SCW I could be tempted to do it in 10mm (I think?)

    1. Yes all 10mm mostly Pendraken with a couple of old Skytrex action 200 trucks!

  5. Thanks for such a good write up. Your cheque is in the post.

  6. Great report of a great game!!! I for one thoroughly enjoyed it!

  7. Cracking looking and sounding game, not just a pretty face Clint!

  8. Sounds like great fun. Cracking table as well!

  9. Wonderful AAR. Sounds like a great time.

  10. That's a great table...and a great report!!


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