Yellow cloud north of Ypres


This fictional scenario was based around several key events that occurred during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. The scenario was set shortly after the first German attacks, with allied forces having been sent reeling backwards after the first horrific German gas attacks. A BEF division has been sent forward in an attempt to re-establish the line. (Why BEF? Because that is the only allied division that I have painted so far). The advanced Brigade of the division has been able to scratch out some light entrenchments across their part of the front, and the Germans have done little more, as the scale of their success has not been apparent to their Generals. As dawn approaches, the command comes down to the British Brigade commander to pull back from their entrenchments, as further gas attacks are expected on the front line. Mutterings like "Bloody 'ell Jack, we just finished diggin' these bloody 'oles, an' now they wants us to up an' leave 'em" were heard at frequent intervals as the Tommys pulled back. In the meantime, the other two brigades of the division were marching forward to join their comrades in the coming day's fight. The German commanders were Keith McNelly and Stan Walker, while the British division was commanded by Mike Toohey and Robin Sutton. You can find the scenario on the Scenarios page here.


 

The German right wing stands waiting in its trench lines, as the artillery barrage hits the empty British front lines. The first gas clouds can clearly be seen at the top left, and you could almost hear the two British companies of the left of the brigade coughing and spluttering. The German commanders were concerned about possible flank fire hitting their attack from the wood at the very top left of the photo, so the gas was positioned to protect the flank of their advance.

The dice on the gas templates indicate the number of turns that the gas will remain on table.

The German left meanwhile sat waiting, the German commander having decided not to commit to the attack on this flank. The terrain seemed far to dense and easy to defend. A regiment of German 105s can be seen sitting 'brigaded' in the background, waiting for the opportunity to fire.
The scale of the German attack is apparent from this view from behind the German lines, as two regiments sweep over the empty British trenches and across the open ground, towards the British troops on the ridge. The ridge and its town block were worth 3 victory points in the game. Just over half of the defending British brigade is however hidden on the reverse slope of the ridge. In the foreground is a regiment of German 77s, these guns from the Emhar German artillery set.
A German MMG company supports the German right wing attack against the British brigade on the ridge. These are Airfix/HaT figures, with a scratch built MMG mounting replacing the tripod provided with the figures.
The British brigade can be seen here coming under intense pressure from the German advance, with the British commander having paid the price for abandoning the entrenchments. A number of stands were suppressed by a well planned pre-planned German barrage on the ridge, allowing the two attacking German regiments to cross the open ground relatively unscathed.
In the meantime, the second of the German gas attacks, again a pre-planned strike, denied the British access to a village next to the vital bridge (just visible on the lower right of the picture), and came down directly in the path of the newly arrived and just committed British reserve brigade which can just be seen in the background marching down the road in its attempts to make best speed towards the action. The gas was intended to make it difficult for the British commander to defend the bridge when the German reserve regiment assaulted this final, and most important, objective.
The British 3rd brigade advances from it's reserve position, hoping to take the bridge at the centre of the line more quickly by advancing directly down the road. However their command arrow would have taken them directly through the recently laid German gas cloud. The British commander rolled for an order change to allow the brigade to move around the gas, and succeeded first time: whew!! The second British brigade had meanwhile advanced down the British right flank, and been able to occupy the hill and town at the top left of the photo (collectively another 3 victory points): the German commander had opted not to attack this for fear it would be too heavily held, but it had sat empty for three moves.
The German commanders decided that the time was right, and now committed their reserve regiment to an attack on the bridge (worth 3 victory points). They were up against the British reserve brigade visible top right, having just arrived to take up positions along the river bank, hoping to deny the bridge to the German troops. Meanwhile the British brigade that had made such a fight of it on the British left flank (and just visible at the very right of the picture) now began to come under fire from the German reserves as well: as if they hadn't been through enough already?
The German right wing attack meanwhile had pushed the British off the ridge, although the battalion HQ and one company still occupied the town sector on top of the ridge. The second German regiment that had taken part in the assault had meanwhile advanced across the ridge only to take such heavy casualties from the British troops in position on the reverse slope that their morale had broken and they had ceased to be an effective fighting force in the battle. The German infantry figures in the foreground are Emhar, and were block painted (by Dave Child-Dennis, formerly of Christchurch), with a burnt umber wash to give the figures depth.
Back to the home page