Barbarossa Mini-campaign: Battle No.1 : Control the river

Finally – and slightly over a week later than expected – I began fighting the Barbarossa Mini-campaign I planned to fight to celebrate my sixty fifth birthday.

The organisation of the campaign was ‘stolen’ from the NUMBERS, WARGAMES AND ARSING ABOUT blog that is written by Old Trousers, and used a number of scenarios from Neil Thomas’s ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. All the battles were fought on Hexon II terrain set up on my new wargaming board, and the rules were a concoction of my own that use the combat system from Richard Borg‘s MEMOIR ’44 rules and my playing card-driven unit activation system.

Control the riverThis battle used Scenario 3 from Neil Thomas’s ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. Both sides had six units available to take part in the battle.

The invading Germans had:

  • Four Infantry Units (= 16 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)

Note: The German will become exhausted when they have lost 11 Strength Points.

The defending Russians had:

  • Three Infantry Units (= 12 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Anti-tank Gun Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)

Note: The Russians will become exhausted when they have lost 10 Strength Points.

The terrain looked like this:

The Germans were advancing from the side of the wargaming board nearest the camera and the Russians entered the battlefield from the edge furthest away.

The battle began with both sides sending troops forward to seize the bridges.

Supporting troops were then brought forward …

… and fighting broke out for control of one of the bridges.

One Russian Infantry Unit raced across the bridge, forcing one of the German Infantry Units to fall back …

… but at the cost of 75% casualties!

The Germans fought back with considerable ferocity, destroying the Russian Infantry Unit and forcing the Russian Machine Gun Unit to fall back.

Luck seemed to favour the Germans, who were able to bring their fire to bear on the foremost Russian Units, destroying a further Infantry Unit and forcing the Russian Machine Gun Unit to withdraw.

The Russians fought back …

… but to little avail, and the tide of battle seemed to be moving inexorably against them.

The fighting continued for some time, but eventually the Russians became exhausted and withdrew …

… leaving the Germans in control of the river!

This was a really fun little battle that took longer to write up that it did to fight. The size of the board and the number of units per side produced a fast but balanced game, and throughly vindicated my decision to follow the example set by ‘Norm‘ of BATTLEFIELDS & WARRIORS blog and to convert the whiteboard into a wargaming board for use with my Hexon II terrain.

Roll on the next battle in this mini-campaign!


I have the inspiration; all I need now is the perspiration!

Sue and I have been away for the weekend to visit Bristol. I am sure that it is a lovely city … but it has one of the most confusing road systems I have ever had to drive around. Even the locals I spoke to find it difficult to navigate, and in our case the lack of road signage that makes sense made it doubly so.

Whilst we were away I had an idea. (I do have some good ones occasionally!). Somewhere in the collection of Chaco War photographs that I have stored on my computer I remembered seeing an image of a Paraguayan troop train that looked rather like the toy train that I bought last Thursday. I did not have the opportunity to look through the photographs until this morning, but eventually I found it … and here it is!

As you can see, it is not that dissimilar to the toy train I have bought.

I now have the necessary inspiration; all I need to add is the perspiration (and time) to do something about it!

Out of the Shed: My 1:300th-scale Spanish Civil War armies … and an unexpected bonus

The sorting out of the contents of the shed continues. When I opened one of the crates I discovered a storage box that contained my long-lost 1:300th-scale Spanish Civil War armies. These were created from a mixture of World War II and Colonial figures from the ranges produced by Heroics & Ros, and were used to demonstrate the earlier versions of my Spanish Civil War rules, ¡ARRIBA ESPAÑA!

The Nationalists
The Nationalist forces were made up of two ‘battalions’ of infantry (actually a Bandera of the Spanish Foreign Legion and a Tabor of Moroccan Regulares), a battery of field artillery, and a tank company.

The Republicans
The Republicans were made up of both regular and militia forces.

The regulars consisted of a battalion of Peninsulares (Spanish conscripts who served on the Spanish mainland and not in North Africa), two companies of Assault Guards (para-military police), a Grupo of field artillery, a battery of anti-tank guns, and a tank company.

The militia consisted of three ‘battalions’ of Trade Unionist and members of political movements. These were the PCE (Partido Comunista de España [Communist Party of Spain]), the UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores [General Union of Workers]), and the FAI (Federación Anarquista Ibérica [Iberian Anarchist Federation]).

An added bonus was the fact that the box these armies were stored in contained three scratch-built 15mm-scale model Vickers six-ton tanks.

These were built many years ago for my Chaco War project … and I can certainly find a use for them today!

Some recent acquisitions … and for a change it is not all ROCO/Roskopf stuff!

My trip to Skirmish yesterday resulted in the acquisition of two 15mm-scale Chaco War armies (both acquired from David Crook) and half a dozen ROCO/Roskopf vehicles.

The Chaco War armies include:

  • 6 Zvezda ZIS-5 trucks (ideal for representing the sort of motor transport both sides had)
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Cavalry
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Infantry
  • 3 bags of Bolivian Artillery
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Mortar Crews with Peter Pig Mortars
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Heavy Machine Guns and Crews
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Light Machine Guns and Crew
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Submachine Gunners
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Officers
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Bolivian Flag bearers and buglers
  • 1 QRF Vickers 6-ton Tank
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Cavalry
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Infantry
  • 3 bags of Paraguayan Artillery
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Mortar Crews with Peter Pig Mortars
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Heavy Machine Guns and Crews
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Light Machine Guns and Crew
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Submachine Gunners
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Officers
  • 1 bag of Irregular Miniatures Paraguayan Flag bearers and buglers

The ROCO/Roskopf vehicles include:

  • 1 Roskopf JSU-152
  • 2 Roskopf KV-1s 1
  • 1 ROCO 2.5-ton Truck
  • 1 ROCO 2.5-ton Bowser
  • 1 ROCO 6-ton Truck

Added to this little haul were some further ROCO/Roskopf vehicles that I ‘won’ in some recent eBay auctions. These arrived in the post this morning and include:

  • 2 Roskopf Unimog Trucks
  • 4 Roskopf Small Trucks 4 rad.
  • 1 Roskopf Large Truck 4 rad.
  • 1 Roskopf Large Truck/Bowser 4 rad.
  • 1 Roskopf KV-1
  • 1 Roskopf T-54

I am not quite sure what I will do with the T-54 … but I am certain that I will find a use for it!

Swops and purchases

At ‘Broadside’ yesterday David Crook and I managed to swop some items. I gave him a copy of Adrian J. English’s THE GREEN HELL – A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CHACO WAR BETWEEN BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY 1932-35 (published in 2007 by Spellmount Ltd.[ISBN 978 1 86227 445 7]) …

… and my spare copy of ARMIES OF THE ADOWA CAMPAIGN 1896: THE ITALIAN DISASTER IN ETHIOPIA (MAA 471 by Sean McLachlan and Raffaele Ruggeri [ISBN 978 1 84908 457 4]).

In exchange he gave me BITTER VICTORY: THE CAMPAIGN IN VENEZIA AND THE SOUTH TYROL AND THE BATTLE OF CUSTOZA JUNE-JULY 1866 by John Pocock and illustrated by Ralph Weaver (published in 2002 by Barbarossa Books [ISBN 0 9538777 3 6]) and …

… two boxes of unmade HäT Renault FT-17s with 37mm cannons.

I also managed to make some purchases from the stand run by Harefields Figures. They had a number of ROCO and Roskopf vehicles on sale for £2.00 each (or six for £10.00) … so I bought some!

It is rather a mixed bag of stuff as it contains a mixture of World War II and post-war vehicles, and the Roskopf vehicles are closer to 1:100th-scale than the ROCO 1:87th-scale ones … but I am sure that I will find a use for them somewhere in my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project.

I have been to … Cavalier

Cavalier is a smallish annual wargames show held at the Angel Centre, Tonbridge, Kent, and if it is at all possible, I always try to attend it. It is organised by the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society, and this year part of the proceeds are going to be given to Combat Stress, a charity devoted to helping veterans and ex-service personnel suffering from psychological injuries and mental health problems.

This show is usually the first I attend each year, and it always gives me the opportunity to meet and talk to some of the many wargamers I know. This year was no exception, and amongst those that I met and talked to were David Crook (with whom I did a swap; a box full of unmade Zvezda Russian and German infantry and artillery for a large collection of Axis and Allies Miniatures: Angels 20 aircraft), Kenny Smith, Nigel Drury, Peter Grizzell, the ‘Rejects‘ (including Postie, Big Lee, Ray Rousell, and The Angry Lurker), and Henry Hyde (the current editor of BATTLEGAMES and the recently appointed editor of MINIATURE WARGAMES/BATTLEGAMES).

Henry was able to show me the layout he intends to use when he takes over as editor of he ‘new’ magazine, and I must admit that I was very impressed. It looked clean and easy to read, and it appears to be more content-driven and less full of pretty pictures. On the strength of what I saw I will be giving very serious consideration to taking out a subscription for this publication.

Wargames shows are an excellent opportunity to see new products, and Cavalier was no exception. I resisted … just … buying a whole load of stuff from the Plastic Soldier Company. The range that they offer is constantly growing, and had I been able to get to the rack of kits that I wanted to look at, I probably would have bought some. (The reason why I did not manage to get to the rack was due to three chaps who stood in front of it for over ten minutes discussing which kits they were going to buy. In the end I left them to it … but I did notice that they were still there when I walked past later.)

I did make a couple of purchases. I bought a couple of mini starter packs of World War I 20mm-scale figures from Tumbling Dice (these are going to be used as Hungarian Infantry and Russian Militia in my projected Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign) and a book from Dave Ryan of Caliver Books. The book was THE CHACO WAR by Adrian English (Published by Partizan Press [2013] ISBN 978 1 85818 657 3), and it is the second edition of the book originally published by Spellmount in 2007. The original was entitled THE GREEN HELL, and was a paperback; the new edition is a hardback and has been revised and had numerous photographs and illustrations added to it.

There were a number of demonstration/participation games on show, including:

A Very French Civil War (SEEMS)
As usual the ‘boys’ from SEEMS came up with a novel twist on a popular theme. In this case it was a clash between the forces of the Left and the Right in 1930s France, and the action was centred upon the town of Clochemerle.

Brave Little Belgium 1940 (Crawley Wargames Club)

Patton’s Charge 1946 (Friday Night Firefight)
A hypothetical battle between US and Soviet forces in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Drop the bridge (North London Wargames Group)
An interesting wargame about a Soviet airborne attack on a vital bridge.

Square Bashing (Peter Pig)

The Battle of Crimisus 340BC (Society of Ancients)
Another battle from Professor Philip Sabin’s book, LOST BATTLES. Professor Sabin was at the show running the wargame.

Operation Deadstick (Maidstone Wargames Society)
This game was about the seizure of the bridge over the River Orne early on the morning of D-Day.

Dixie 1863 (Staines Wargamers)
This was a recreation of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, the famous ‘high-water mark of the Confederacy’.

Medieval Siege (West Kent Wargamers)

Denmark 1940 (Deal Wargames Society)
This game illustrated the incredible modelling skills processed by some wargamers, and included some wonderful vignettes.

This was an excellent show … and I am already looking forward to next year’s.

Wargames rules on my Kindle

I finally took the plunge and bought a set of wargames rules for my Kindle. I chose the recently published interwar wargames rules, A WORLD AFLAME – INTERWAR WARGAME RULES 1918-39. The rules were published by Osprey and written by Paul Eaglestone, and cover a historical period that is of considerable interest to me.

The process of downloading the rules was very simple and very quick … and thanks to the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone I could access the rules on those devices as well!

The downloads looked like this:




Perhaps this development will mean that some of the detritus that seems to plague many wargames tables will diminish … or even disappear!

We can but hope.