in the Balkans
The following photo report is from a fictional encounter wargame between Turks
and Allied forces using the Great War Spearhead rules system set within the
Great War in the Balkans. The game was
played in November 2004 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Figures are 20mm plastics
and are mostly from the collection of Robin Sutton. The report was written
by Keith McNelly (who also took the photos), and it first appeared on his web
site 'The Wargames Room'.
The battle involved a
weak Turkish corps of two under strength divisions engaging an Allied
division of three British regiments and one Australian regiment.
The scenario was set against the back drop
of mountainous terrain that seriously resricted movement options for both
sides. Further, the Turks had suffered previously from desertion and
casualties as a result of being badly equipped and supplied for the
terrain and weather conditions that they had already encountered in
mountainous parts of the Balkans. The table measured 8' x 5'.
armies were tasked with capturing a number of towns or villages, along with
the more important bridges across a small stream. Further, artillery and ammunition
armies was limited.
To the right, a regiment of British
artillery deployed for action. The British artillery, including
artillery off table, was to cause heavy casualties against the
in the open, especially on the Turkish right flank.
Turkish forces, supported
by German artillery, was less effective and Turkish corps artillery
completely failed to aid the Turkish attacks during the battle.
British infantry battalion advances in relatively close order at the
early stages of the wargame. Visible, in the right rear, is the
battalion HMG stand. This battalion formed part of the British drive
on a bridge and two sector town on the Allied left flank.
British infantry regiment advances over open ground. Unlike the
figures above, in 1914 uniforms, these are in later war helmets.
This regiment fought along side the Australians but was largely
An Australian infantry battalion
deployed for battle. Of note, are the different colours of the khaki
shirts on these figures. Rumour has it that the Australians were
recent recruits, having only recently arrived from the painting
table, to swell the allied ranks.
Above, another view of the
Australians, this time as the Australian regiment sweeps forward in
attack across open ground in an attempt to capture a bridge in the
centre of the table. During the game, the Australians from this
regiment were to suffer casualties due to Turkish machine guns and
German artillery in their sector. The bridge remained contested at
the end of the battle.
the game the Turkish infantry were reinforced by several stands of
German artillery. Here German 77mm guns, brigaded in support of a
Turkish regiment in the centre, prepare to fire on the advancing
Australians. These models are from the collection of Andy Gorman as
were the Turks. Note the shell cases on the bottom right of the
Another British infantry regiment
moves forward past a small town on the allied right flank. This time in an attempted flanking movement on
Turkish positions. Command range limitations however, resulted in the
British brigade commander halting and requesting new orders before
the attack was restarted. This command breakdown was to save the
exposed Turkish left flank from a concentrated allied attack of some
On the opposite flank, the Allied left, or the Turkish
right, a further British infantry regiment was involved in a race
for a two sector town. The Turks won the race for one sector and the
British the other. The resulting battle around the town sectors
resulted in the Turks suffering heavy casualties from off-table
artillery. British infantry can be seen in one town sector while the
Turks face them in another. Interestingly, in the determined battle
neither side determined to assault the town sectors occupied by the
enemy, prefering to fight a battle of attrition in the surrounding
These town sectors are actually over scale and
physically larger than the normal 3" square "Spearhead"
town sector. The
buildings are hand made in card by Robin Sutton.
As night drew in the Turks, having
suffered increasing casualties in the area were forced to retire
leaving the key objectives in Allied hands. Here, British brigaded artillery and
infantry can be seen deployed following the battle around the captured two
sector town. Between them and the town can be seen a small stream
and bridge. The Turkish commanders had hoped this would have delayed
and channelled the British advance more than it did.
A close up view of the British
infantry, complete with Vickers HMG deployed for supporting the
attack. No doubt the troops, along with the British commanders,
were pleased with their performance against the Turks in this
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