Monday 25 June 2018

La Bataille du chemin de l'haie - 1914

Once again the Rejects got together in Posties shed-o-war to give his new WWI rules another try, this time with a fictional engagement between the Germans and French in August 1914. Once again Posties proved his rules stand up to scrutiny in a real game and everyone taking part seemed to be having a good time.  

The Schlieffen Plan is under way and thus far the German Imperial Army has been forcing back the French at every engagement. Now the French have an opportunity to defend more favourable ground along a line of hedges anchored on several buildings and a small village. The Germans must sweep the french away to keep up the momentum but can the French hold their ground and turn the tide against the invaders?

The Order of Battle
7th Armeekorps - Gen der Kavallerie Von Emen
      13th Infantry Division - Generaleitnant von dem Borne
              25th Infantry Brigade  - Generalmajor von Unruh
                      IR 13 - 3 Battalions
                      IR 158 - 3 Battalions
              26th Infantry Brigade - Unknown General
                      IR 15 - 3 Battalions
                      IR 55 - 3 Battalions
              22nd Artillery Regt - 6 x 7.7cm (2 Batteries)
              58th Artillery Regt - 6 x 10.5cm (2 Batteries)
              16th Uhlans - 4 Squadrons
              6th  Uhlans - 4 Squadrons (from Cavalry Corp)
5th Armee - 18th Corps d'armee - Gen de Maudituy
      36th Division of Infantry - Gen Jovannu
              71st Brigade - Gen Bertin
                     34e - 3 Battalions
                     49e - 3 Battalions
              72nd Brigade - Gen de Seze
                     12e - 3 Battalions
                     18e - 3 Battalions (Reserves - Arrived about turn 3)
              14th Artillery Regt - 9 x 75cm (3 Batteries)
The initial setup. The French (myself and Mark) are closest and in position along a hedge line. We also have troops in the small village on the forward right and more just out of shot along more hedges on the right. The Germans face us across a lot of open ground but we are outnumbered three to two and knowing Postie there will be more coming on later. 

The Village on our right was occupied by four companies of infantry (one in each building). This is a forward position but as we know from earlier games infantry in buildings are hard to dislodge. In our pre-game tactics chat my co-general Mark advocates pulling our troops out of here...I talked him out of this and the town went on to be an important obstacle for the Germans. 

My General has pigeons released...presumably to call for reinforcements PDQ. 

The game gets under way and the Germans begin their advance. Its soon clear that the main thrust of their attack is pointed squarely at my Battalions on the left of our line. Here I face twice my number of infantry so I direct two Artillery Batteries to start pounding the advancing infantry. 

The Germans move steadily forward in the face of my artillery. They are outside Machine Gun and Rifle range at this point but things will soon get much hotter for the invaders. 

Artillery fire lands on the advancing Germans but their artillery is also hitting my front line troops.Meanwhile on the other flank two German batteries (6 guns) have targeted the town we hold. 

Phew, three french Battalions arrive from reserve and they have appeared behind my positions. Hopefully I can get them forward in time to help hold the line against the Germans. 

My artillery fire is starting to whittle down the advancing Germans. More importantly I'm scoring 10's which inflict Courage Tests on the damaged unit. If the unit fails it will have to fall back.

The German players advance around the village on our right. They seem to be shifting units to support the attack in the centre and on their right, opposite me. Meanwhile our infantry in the town are drawing German artillery fire away from the rest of our infantry while being in a position to take pot shots at any enemy units in range.

The German line bends around the town but never seriously threatens to overwhelm it. Mark's infantry take a few casualties but they cling on tenaciously through the whole battle.

My infantry are having a hard time. One battalion has fallen back and suddenly my position looks precarious. Meanwhile Richard has moved his Uhlan cavalry in a fast flanking move and is ready to dismount them on my now almost destroyed positions. My reserves are advancing as fast as they can but its touch and go whether they can get back to the Hedge line before the Germans arrive in force. 

View from the other direction. The German Uhlans can be seen on the right and the strength of the German advance can be seen clearly. Mark and I shift some of our units along the line to try and fill the gap but it feels like there is a gaping whole staring at the enemy. 

My front line is thin but my reserves are moving forward as fast as they can...however several of my front units have to make courage tests and I could be looking at a complete collapse of my defensive line. 

The German noose tightens on the town but Marks infantry cling on and continue to hurt any German units in range.

The German Uhlans have dismounted and advance towards the hedge line, outflanking my front. Fortunately my units can move again and I am able to start shifting infantry back to the hedges just before the Germans get there. Suddenly my position looks stronger than it had and my reserves have finally begun to enter the battle. 

In the centre Marks infantry are under sustained artillery assault but the German advance is creeping forward slowly. Mark moves one of his units into the building on the road (recently vacated by my troops who have re-positioned to face the advance on the left) and he is able to lend some support to my troops. 

In the town the French infantry cling on and the Germans slowly shift units around the town like its surrounded by an invisible wall (!)

Disgraceful! Ray leaves the battle early to go watch England playing in the World Cup...doesn't he realise wargaming takes precedence over football?!?

The French are being hard pressed along the whole line and casualties are mounting on both sides.

The German Uhlans have dismounted and charged into the flank of my positions. Fortunately (and in the nick of time) I manage to get one of my reserve Battalions up to the hedge line to defend the ground.  Meanwhile in a last ditch attempt to dislodge my infantry Richard launches assaults with several other units against the front. I have managed to regain my position here fill every gap I can. With the whole right flank in melee its now just down the the luck of the dice which side wins.

Wow. I win all three melees inflicting serious casualties on the German units and throwing them back from the hedge line. This is a significant moment of the game and represented the Germans last best hope of snatching a victory. 

The next turn seals the fate of the German assault as rifle file destroys all but a handful of the German infantry companies. The Uhlans on my left flank have been cut in half and virtually nothing remains in front of my lines. 

With the German spearhead destroyed I can start thinking about shifting infantry to the right to provide support to Marks battalions in the centre. They still face four German Battalions and have taken a lot of artillery fire and are looking weak. 

With the German assault on our left in tatters and the realistic prospect that I can bolster the defence of the Centre the German players wisely decide to capitulate. They simply do not have enough battalions remaining to stand a chance of breaking through. On the extreme right flank Mark still has two undamaged battalions that have guarded the woods and the approaches to the town. Ray returns from the football to find his fellow generals have lost the game as conclusively as Panama lost to England in the footie. His remaining battalions are still trying to work around the town (still in French hands!) but there is little he can realistically do with them. 

Richard may have been on the loosing side but he gets the Outstanding Leadership and Courage Award for his fierce assault on the French lines.  

Two happy wargamers having halted the German advance in its tracks.

That was a tough fight for both sides and for a brief while I thought the German assault on my flank would win. If our reserves had come on a turn later, or in a different position, I couldn't have held the position. I'm glad I was able to convince Mark to keep his infantry in the town because I think they soaked up a lot of artillery that would otherwise have hit softer targets. His riflemen in the town were also able to harass the Germans in all directions, Their 12" rifle range from all sides meant the town dominated one third of the width of the battlefield and the mere presence of infantry in buildings deterred the Germans from launching an infantry assault. Keeping infantry in the town turned it into a fortress and I suspect influenced the German players decision to focus their attack on my side of the battlefield. 

Once again Posties simple streamlined rules worked excellently and really seem to capture the flavour of the early period of the Great War. All round an excellent game and I think everyone is looking to playing more in the near future. 


  1. A great report with fantastic pictures, very immersive...May I say much better than the football world cup?

    1. Oh, yes. Never been a football person and I'm not about to start now.

  2. Interesting seeing a scenario (from what I assume is) early war. WWI is one of the main gaps in my knowledge base, and I hadn't realized this kind of open field engagement was an option.

    1. The opening months of the war saw a lot of movement and open field warfare...and high casualties.

  3. Top stuff, Lee! Cannot understand Ray ducking out of this fine situation to watch football.

    1. Yes, utterly disgraceful. He left his fellow commanders to fight on alone...most unsportsmanlike!

  4. Good game! A gorgeous game table. By the way, and the football was good

  5. Great report Lee, shame Postie arranged the game when ENGLAND are playing!!!!

  6. That does look an absolutely superb game. It's always nice when rules work reassuringly well too. As for the World't there a highlights programme with Dickie Davies or Frank Bough to watch later instead?
    (I might be a little out of touch with football! ;-)

    1. I'm probably as out of date as you. In fact I think the last time I watch football on TV I was with my long departed Grandfather watching World of Sport with Dickie Davies.


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