Saturday, 30 November 2019

A Conclusion at Le Cateau

The decimated section of 1 Zug reaches the barricade at the crossroads. These would have been a 19 man section at the beginning of the attack and it looks like about 8 have made it to the town. They had the hardest job as they were advancing directly in the line of fire of the Vickers team. By this time however, the Vickers was only being manned by two of the team and thus the rate of fire had been halved.

It was time for the cold steel. The British had the advantage of fighting from behind cover but the Germans in most places were able to put 2 men onto 1, which made it difficult for the British to survive as they had to win two fights. I am very sad to report that it was here that Colour Sergeant Neddy Snapcase and Lance Corporal Spankhurst went to glory, refusing to give an inch of ground as a ‘Die Hard’ should.

No. 1 Section of the ‘Die Hards’ was under the command of Corporal Bunter and had spent three turns in a row not firing at the advancing German column led by Oberleutnant von Vagabund.

The other section of 1 Zug on the German left flank had arrived at Le Cateau relatively unscathed. Flashheart had been hustled to the rear at point of bayonet and Oberleutnant von Emvier can be seen here brandishing the family sword and ordering his men into the attack.

Helmut von Vagabund’s double column now split into two sections, one attacking the centre and the other heading to the Boucherie on the German right flank to see why no fire was coming from there!

My dice throwing suddenly took a turn for the better and the British were able to do very well at the hand-to-hand fighting but the odds were just too great. If a ‘Die Hard’ won a fight, then two more Germans would move into position immediately.

One by one, the valiant defenders were picked off by the advancing Magdeburg infantry.

Now the jubilant survivors of 1 Zug were into the town. Here we see the remaining five survivors, three more having gone down in the bitter bayonet fighting at the barricades.

The German soldiers now concentrate on mopping up the last remaining resistance from the Middlesex rearguard.

Just when they thought it was all over, a Belgian Minerva armoured car, commanded by 1.eme Lieutenant Charles Henkart appears from the town. Once again, a special event at the commencement of turn 5 and its location determined at random by a D6.

The Belgians open up with Hotchkiss MG but it looks to their eyes as if it is too little, too late. As the Minerva begins to engage the German soldiers, they can see that the rearguard have died to a man, buying vital time for their comrades to retire from the town and take up their positions ready for the day’s epic events to unfold.

The Minerva bursts through the barricades and turns north on the disputed road, firing the Hotchkiss as they drive.

1.eme Lieutenant Henkart decides that discretion is the better part of valour and decides to make a hasty exit from the town. A section of von Vagabund’s men is blocking the road but with great Belgian verve, Chaffeur HergĂ© drives straight through them, running two of them down as they leave the town of Le Cateau.

There, unfortunately for the British, the game came to an end. The British needed to defend the town until turn 7 but by turn 5, most of the rearguard were dead and the Minerva was unable to turn back the triumphant advance of the 26th Magdeburg. The scoring looked like this at the end.

All 32 of the Middlesex Regiment were killed. The 26th Magdeburg took 26 casualties. Lord Flashheart became a PoW but I’m sure he will escape shortly!

So, all in all I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Silent Invader’s scenery, rules, figures, Sopwith and Minerva really made it a visually delightful game. My friends, Doug and John made the game a pleasure to play. A fantastic weekend hosted by John and I am looking forward to seeing their game reports. I have absolutely no shame in reposting the photo of the Three Musketeers at the end of my game. Thanks, gentlemen!

The End

Wednesday, 27 November 2019


I'm building the caboose nest and I'm very impressed with the level of detail included on the inside. I took this picture now as I'm about to glue the remaining side on.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Hand Carts

I have added a couple of hand carts to the 3:10 from Hog Thief Bend. These will provide the necessary comedic aspect of the game. (Go on, Ivor, you know you want to buy some!).

I thought I would include a view along Main Street in Hog Thief Bend. When the train is complete, I have a station to build and then it may be time to set up for game. Here are the happy citizens going about their daily business unaware that the Iron Horse is about to descend on their sleepy town.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Flat Car

I have now added a flat car to the 3:10 From Hog Thief Bend.

Should be good for a bit of gunplay with some crates etc. stacked up on it.

Flashy Prangs His Kite!

There were some special events planned and the arrival of the Maxim teams in Turn 2 was featured in the last post. At the start of turn 3 there was another event planned.

At GHQ there were great concerns over the location of I Corps under the command of Sir Douglas Haig. Staff officers at GHQ were assuming that Haig would support Smith-Dorrien and his II Corps in the coming stand at Le Cateau. Instead, the only sketchy information which GHQ had received, indicated that Haig was drawing further away from II Corps instead of coming to assist.

Major Robert Brooke-Popham, commander of No. 3 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps was tasked with finding Haig’s location.

No. 3 Squadron were equipped with single-seater Sopwith Tabloids which were being used as scout planes. Major Brooke-Popham immediately sought out his most daring pilot, the Lord Flashheart and tasked him with locating the missing I Corps.

Sopwith Tabloid

The Lord Flashheart

Flashheart’s mechanic, one James McCudden had the Tabloid ready and Flashy took to the skies. His search began in the skies over Le Cateau and Flashy intended to widen his circle of search until he located the missing Corps. Unfortunately, it was not to be. A stray rifle bullet (probably fired by the 26th Magdeburg down below) ruptured the fuel line of the Tabloid which rapidly began to run out of ‘juice’.

The game required the plane to crash in the centre of a tile determined on a roll of a D6. I was fervently hoping that it would crash directly onto some German infantry. However, my dice rolling being what it was, Flashy came down fairly well and pranged his kite in the fields outside Le Cateau.

The Lord Flashheart scrambled out of the Tabloid cockpit and saw how close the approaching German column was. He readied his revolver and prepared to sell himself dearly.

The German commanders would score more victory points at game end by taking the pilot prisoner rather than killing him and this is what they did.

Lord Flashheart was surrounded by German soldiers and was forced to surrender.

Flashy was escorted to the rear to take no further part in the battle.

As this was taking place, the decimated section which had advanced up the cobbled road was reaching the British barricades. The next post will feature the vicious hand-to-hand fighting over the barricades and will show how the valiant ‘Die Hards’ fought a rearguard action worthy of their regiment’s name.

(It is true that a scout plane was sent by GHQ to look for Haig on the morning of the battle of Le Cateau. James McCudden was a mechanic and later observer in No. 3 Squadron until he trained as a pilot in 1916. He went on to achieve 57 aerial victories).

To be continued…

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Le Cateau - The German Advance

After dispositions were mapped the German commanders needed to decide how they would conduct their advance. They could advance in column which would mean they would advance much faster or they could spread out in open order. Open order would result in less casualties but would mean a slower advance to target. Oberleutnants von Emvier and von Vagabund were given time to decide this over some bottles of beer I had bought at the Black Sheep brewery at Masham whilst on holiday. This was an important conference as in the game they would only be able to talk to each other if their character figures were within 6” of each other on the board.

Meanwhile, I as the British was allowed to put barricades up across the roads and building fronts.

Having built the barricades, I managed to drag the Germans away from their cosy fireside chat and figures were placed on the board. The German players were not allowed to view the British dispositions from anywhere except their end of the board. They were unsure as to the number of machine guns the British had. Oberleutnant von Vagabund produced some 1:1 scale binoculars to view the British positions.

The British machine gun position commanding the vital cross roads. There was only one Vickers to hand for Colour Sergeant Snapcase’s boys but the Germans weren’t to know that.

On the right, Colour Sergeant Snapcase, second from right is Lance Corporal Spankhurst. Corporal Alf Tucker commands the 4-man Vickers team.

Now was the time for the German commanders to put their cunning plan into action. They had elected to advance ‘en colonne’ in the Napoleonic fashion. The early days of the Great War more often resembled the wars that had gone before, rather than the war that was to come. Cavalry roamed the battlefields and guns were bought into action by teams of horses and limbers. The overall British commander of II Corps, Smith-Dorrien had survived the slaughter at Isandlwana and fought bravely as a junior officer in the Second Boer War.

The two sections under von Emvier advanced, one in the fields to the south and the other directly up the cobbled road leading to the disputed crossroads.

The two sections under von Vagabund form a column together and take a more northerly route through the open fields.

The section advancing up the cobbled road start to take casualties from the Vickers. British casualties are light at this point as only the front two ranks of each column can fire. With an understrength platoon though, the Die-Hards cannot afford to take any casualties in their desperate defence.

Out of focus (as he often is) von Emvier can be seen here leading from the rear. He assured us that this is the correct military tactic and who were we to argue?

The German advance continues relentlessly and the more northerly column is surprised to find very limited fire coming from the Boucherie. This is due to that British section being out of contact with their Sergeant and throwing some very poor dice to activate with a corporal in charge.

At the start of Turn 2 the Maxim gun teams arrive on the eastern edge of the board on random tiles. They begin to advance to catch up with the fast-moving columns.

Although the Vickers continues to fire directly into the advancing German infantry, the rate of fire is halved as two of the Vickers crew are killed.

The Germans are now very close to the British barricades and it looks like they may have to storm these barriers with the bayonet. More portentous events will unfold in the next post as the 26th Magdeburg charge with cold steel.

To be continued…