Monday, November 9, 2015

Smash the Bridgehead! - Little Wars Canberra BATREP

Our merry crew put on a demonstration game this weekend at the inaugural Little Wars Canberra war-games convention. The Canberra event expands upon the successful Little Wars events already run over the past few years here in Australia, in Melbourne and Adelaide.

In its first Canberra showing, the event had some fantastic quality (and widely varied) games. Whilst I did look at all the other games, unfortunately I was too focused on our game during the day to take photos of the other games (I know others did though, so I'm sure they'll appear online soon enough...).

The game we ran was set at the height of the Cold War in 1988. The premise of the scenario was that a Soviet crossing of the Inner German Border, followed by rapid advance into West Germany. Facing them in this sector are elements of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

A Soviet Motor Rifle Division has established a crossing point of a fairly significant river. They have managed to capture an intact bridge across the river at a large town. The divisional engineer battalion has subsequently constructed a PMP pontoon bridge downriver from this, to provide the division with two crossing points. The division's lead Motor Rifle Regiment is defending this bridgehead, to allow the remainder of the division to cross and exploit the crossing, consolidating the bridgehead.

The lead Regiment is largely intact, with its three battalions (in BTR-70s) supported by the Regiment's tank battalion (T-62s), with a company attached to each battalion. The Regiment has its standard regimental assets, including AT, SAM, Engineer, and Recon companies, plus the Regimental Artillery Group (RAG), comprising a battalion of 2S1 122mm SP Guns.

To assist in their important task, the Soviet Division commander has inserted a Forward Detachment, consisting of a Battalion of Airborne Infantry, to secure the key approach routes to the bridgehead. Additionally, a company each from the Division's SAM and AT Battalions, as well as the Divisional Tank Battalion (of five companies of T-64BV) have been placed at the disposal of the Regiment Commander. Additional fire support is provided by a Battalion of 2S3 152mm SP guns and a company of BM-21 Grad 122mm MRLs attached from the Divisional artillery to the RAG. All Soviet troops are "fair" quality, except the Airborne Infantry Battalion who are "average" quality.

Recognising the importance of this bridgehead, the BAOR Corps commander has ordered a counter attack to destroy the bridgehead. Since the NATO forces are severely pressed in all sectors, forces available for this mission are limited. However, the Division Commander in this sector has released an Armoured Regiment (battalion) of Challenger 1s and an Armoured Infantry Battalion in Warrior IFVs for the mission. Supporting the counter-attack is an artillery regiment (battalion) of Abbot SP 105mm guns, and two flights (airstrikes) of Tornado ground attack aircraft. All of the British forces are of "good" quality.

The BAOR forces for the game were commanded by Ray. Their mission was to 'neutralise' the bridgehead. They could do this by either destroying the bridges, or being in a position to apply direct fire to the bridges, at the end of the game (1 VP for each bridge), or by crossing over the river (1 VP per unit/company).

The Soviets were commanded by John. Their mission was to protect the bridges (1VP for each intact bridge free from direct fire at the end of the game). Also 1 VP for each BAOR unit (company) destroyed. In points terms, the BAOR force was roughly double that of the Soviets.

I was to be the umpire and chief spruiker to the public for the game.

The battlefield & defender deployment:
In the NW is the intact road bridge, NE is the pontoon bridge
The Soviet (red) and BAOR (blue) plans:
Soviets defending the E and W bridges with a MR battalion each,
Soviet Parachute Infantry Forward Detachment deployed forward (SE),
Soviet DTB and third MR Battalion in reserve.

BAOR with two combined arms Battle-Groups attacking in the E (from S to N),
Third tank-heavy battle-group in Reserve, ready to exploit.
Soviet Parachute Infantry in the woods

W Soviet MR Battalion, protecting the pontoon bridge
The PMP Pontoon Bridge.
T-64BV battalion is ready to cross from the N bank (to the R of picture)
Close up of the PMP bridge;
this is a fantastic miniatures set from Oddzial Osmy!

Divisional AT Company
MT-12 ATGs and BRDM-2 AT-5 vehicles

The MR Battalion in the W, defending the town bridge

A company of Parachute Infantry defends the central approach road through the village

British battalion Recon (Scimitars) is pounded by Soviet artillery

The Soviet DTB (T-64BVs) crosses the Pontoon Bridge.

The other UK battalion's Recon Troop approaches the concealed Soviet Paras

The first UK combined arms battle-group advances

Challenger Is

The British Recon pays the price -
ATGMs from the concealed Soviet Infantry destroys the light Scimitars

the Soviet DTB advances S of the river, in the centre

BAOR battle-groups advance through covered approaches to their objectives

British Armoured Infantry in Warrior IFVs

Challenger Is receive artillery fire

the Soviet artillery is off target (SNAFU result),
but rather fortunately lands off target but on top of the other concealed advancing battle-group!

more artillery

The UK troops are pinned all round by Soviet artillery.
Challenger Is still manage to engage and destroy one of the firing Soviet infantry platoons
The forward Soviet Para company pulls back

Soviet DTB moves forward into fire positions

The T-64BV battalion is spotted by the surviving British Recce Troop, which calls in two flights of Tornados.
The British pilots are off their game and only manage to destroy one platoon (out if four targeted) with their missiles!

Armoured Infantry Company moves in to prepare for the assault and dismount

The Soviets pummel them with all four salvos of BM-21 Grad MRLs...

...pinning a few and killing a platoon of dismounted infantry.

However, the assault force is largely intact

...the defending Soviet infantry take out some Warriors with MAWs

Challengers keep advancing

Artillery keeps the British Infantry pinned in their forming-up-point

The British Infantry go into close-combat, with grenades and bayonets (oh, and Warriors supporting!)

The tanks of the Battle-group sweep up on their E flank,
 covered by a smoke screen laid by the battalion's Mortar platoon

The Challenger Is are the only troops on the battlefield with Thermal Imagery sights.
They fire through the smoke, destroying a platoon of T-62s

The British assault destroys the remaining two platoons of the Soviet Para Company on the ridge,
but at the cost of two of their own platoons - ouch!
By the end of the game (8 turns), the British had failed to get to the bridges (0 VPs). The Soviets had destroyed one British Company (1 VP), and had both bridges intact (2 VPs). So the game was a 3-0 VP win to the Soviets. More importantly though it was a good fun game, and we got a lot of favourable comments and discussion with members of the gaming public.

Post-game discussion agreed that the British plan to focus on the one flank had been good, however the attack should have been more aggressively executed. With only eight turns, the Brits had started too started slowly (spending two turns moving recce troops forward before the main elements came on and started moving). Instead, the recce could have been dispensed with and the BAOR force, with better quality and equipped troops, could have been pushed rapidly down the extreme E flank in locally superior numbers. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

Thanks to Ray and John for assisting in putting on a most enjoyable game. To add to the fun of the day, the game picked up a prize for 'best terrain' and I scored a boxed set of Gripping Beast Crusades Arab Infantry - very nice!!


  1. That looks great, wish I could have been there!

  2. I see you used your sabot bases for IVF platoons. They look great!

  3. Awesome stuff Bish - I've seen you run a 3mm demo game before (that was the first time I met you in fact) and I've no doubt this was equally successful!

    And as Chris said, those sabot bases like excellent !

    1. Thanks, Paul. See you at CANCON?

    2. You bet! I am going to arrange an Aussie Bloggers meet up :-)

  4. Superb- great looking set up- great to see it well recieved too.



  5. That is a great looking game! A hearty "Well Done!"

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  7. Bril game, lovely terrain and minis, and even good looking markers!