Friday, July 12, 2013

The Road to Calais 23 May 1940

This is for the game I played with my neighbour Phil, and is loosely based on the events of 23 May between Aire sur la Lys and St Omer. Phil had thoroughly read the rules and is an ex-infantry officer so I'd been looking forward to this for some time. He played the Germans, I the British. In a way it links to the game me and Paul played a couple of years ago The lead elements of  Schaal's 1st Panzer Division engage elements of the British 2nd Infantry Division under Major-General HC Loyd: 6th Infantry Brigade Anti-tank, supported by 2nd battalion Durham Light Infantry and attached units from the Manchester Regiment (machineguns). Historically, the 6th & 8th battalions DLI were involved in the fighting at Arras, so it was a busy time for this particular formation and an interesting chapter in their history

The Germans had 12 turns to either overwhelm the British positions or inflict more than 1/3 casualties on them, any other result was a draw

All German units entered across the bridge

Reinforced British infantry company includes a Boys anti tank rifle equipped platoon and a mmg platoon from the Manchesters, covering from the edge of the crossroads to the British right flank

4.5"howitzer (HaT) provided vital support throughout the game

Turn 1. German recon and pioneers arrive 

The pioneers go about making sure the bridge is safe while the recon platoon races ahead to scout around the crossroads

Though spotting British positions around the crossroads area, the platoon was completely destroyed. The armoured car is by ACE, the figures are SHQ and Zevezda

Turn 3. Both sides now alerted, the Germans reinforce the assault pioneers with two companies of infantry and two Pz1 platoons, the Durhams attempt to counter this with their one and only uncommitted rifle company - this one also had a dedicated anti tank rifle platoon attached 

One group moves to flank the British position

The other continued straight up the road, running into a hail of gunfire from, until then, undetected British infantry. German units here are Airfix figures and a Frontline resin Pz1

Done with the bridge, the assault pioneers had probed forward on the German left until they hit this company of the Durhams, moved up the turn previous 

Turn 5. A support company arrives adding its mortar and mmg platoons to the action. German forces were still outnumbered at this stage though (Academy Kubelwagon and Matchbox truck)

Turn 6, one more company of infantry and two platoons of tanks arrive for the Germans, resin Pz2 are Frontline

And the same again on turn 7

The British also received some assistance from a recon platoon of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and a company of the 1st battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers, Morris CS9 is SHQ, figures are Matchbox conversions 

Turn 8, the British start to feel the pressure in the center as their Boys anti tank rifles are less effective against the Pz2

Now in range, dug-in anti tank guns begin to engage the German armour, this is a French 25mm by Early War Miniatures (EWM)

AALMG platoons covering the gunlines 

Despite taking out a Pz2 with combined anti tank gun/rifle fire turn 9 was a terrible one for the British, this company suffered about 1/3 casualties and was forced to withdraw...

The 4th/7th platoon was destroyed

This formerly reinforced rifle company surrendered

This unit was mauled by the assault pioneers and never recovered, the only thing that saved them from being eliminated outright was some accurate artillery fire from the 4.5"howitzer battery on the nearest German infantry

Still holding on in the center but only just

Turn 10 and the combined weight of five companies of German infantry supported by armour falls upon the only two units of British still able to offer some resistance, fortunately Phil's dice was bad and the British morale remained good

The Welch Fusiliers on the British left also offered up some success this turn, eliminating two platoons of German infantry and damaging a Pz1 with the command platoon's integral anti tank rifles. Pz1 here is an old Esci kit 

Still, British troops begin passing back through the gun lines to evacuation points on the edge of the farm buildings, I did this to try and keep units who were already 1/3 reduced away from the immediate fighting, Phil did his best to mortar them 

The force commander from the classic Matchbox 8th Army set

After 12 turns most of the damaged British platoons were withdrawn and safe, until either Calais or Dunkirk later in the month (historically). Several of the Germans units at the forefront of the attack had stalled with high casualties of their own but overall the Durhams and others had sustained slightly more than 1/3 casualties and the Germans claimed victory from the encounter. All in all a great game, with the possibility of another from the campaign map already under consideration


  1. A really nice looking game mate. All those BEF stands have come up really well and I like the use of the scenery items you have gleamed.

    Well done. Good to see that Kfz13 AC in flames once again...Its never finished a game!

    1. Thanks mate. I like that AC, but funny was thinking the same thing :)

  2. Very nice report with beautiful pics! Great looking close combats near Calais !

  3. Great to see another of your excellent battle reports and photos. Our lads may have their backs to the wall but we're giving Jerry a run for his money!

  4. Good battle report nad well illustrated
    Thanks for posting

  5. Great report of a good scenario. I, too, have the British commander in my collection. I need to do a 1940 game; haven't done one in years.

  6. That was excellent and a win for the plucky Germans!

  7. Early War games are the best and this game is one of them! Nicely done!

  8. Thanks boys :) Early war is my fav and games with objectives make for gaming, historical links are cool too :)

  9. Very good report, thank you very much.