Thursday, 20 December 2012

The last cavalry charge of WW1?

After driving the Germans out from the village (see last post), the next task was to get over the old bridge crossing the river.The expeditionary force rested overnight, and set off the next morning. News was coming in that the Germans had regrouped, together with a force of partisans, and so the Greeks decided to send one platoon over to form a bridgehead, with the cavalry squad to reconnoitre the area.

The old bridge looked decidedly dicy, so the Greeks decided to walk over the bridge and then send the trucks over, empty. The armoured car was to go after the trucks, if they got over and the bridge held up. 

Greek infantry platoon crosses river (top of picture) while its trucks prepare to cross a very old bridge

However, they Greeks had not gone far over the bridge before a German trap was sprung, a heavy machine gun nest decimating one squad as it walked down the road. The squads on either side of the road dived for cover and began to shoot back, but other German units now popped up in ambush, supported by Partisans. On the Greek right, the Greek cavalry heroically charged one German position and despite heavy losses, sabred the Germans and partisans in a gory melee, but then themselves came under fire from the German machine gun, lost their nerve and fled had to retire.

 Greek Cavalry charge down German stormtroopers and Partisans - the last cavalry charge of WW!?

Despite the cavalry's withdrawal, things had started to look up for the Greeks -  one German force down, and fire superiority over the machine gun was established as rifle grenades and chauchat gunners opened up, suppressing it. Unfortunately, at that point things took a turn for the worse - a large German ambush sprang up in front of one Greek platoon, catching it by surprise and driving it back with well aimed shooting. This would not have been a major problem except that the Greek captain, for some unknown reason, became indisposed and gave no orders or inspiration for a good while (for 3 turns - his card never came up...) and this meant the German forces took the initiateive and gained fire superiority for a critical period in the game, driving the Greeks back with losses.

German forces spring their ambush, forcing the Greek squads back

The Greeks fell back to the bridge and now had to stabilise the situation, and in the Captain's absence the platoon sergeant drove 2 of their trucks betwen their forces and the Germans to gain time to regroup. The heroic Captain finally reappeared again and started to rally the remnants of 2 squads while the 3rd beat a covering retreat to the bridge. The bridge was snarled up by the retiring cavalry getting in the way of the trucks, and it took a while to clear the logjam.    

Bridge muddle as retiring cavalry meet advancing trucks

In this time the Germans and partisans advanced on the 2 still re-forming Greek squads and drove them back over the bridge, the Captain having to play his Heroic Action card to mount a last-man-and-dog-gain-time resistance and then swim over the river. One Greek squad held onto the far side of the bridge, covered by the armoured car now moving up to the bridge, and the 2nd Greek platoon deploying on the far bank.

And so, as the day ended, it looked roughly the same as at the beginning except the Greeks now held the bridge against any demolition attempt, 2 Greek squads had taken fearful casualties, and they had lost 2 trucks. Unbeknownst to the Greeks though, they had very nearly found Countess Nadia - and their cavalry had sabred most of Major von Bösemann's henchmen in their charge!

Tomorrow was another day.....and this time the armoured cars were going over first!  

(Game using Mud & Blood rules - the non appearance of the Greek Captain's "Big Man" card for 3 turms in a row at a critical juncture spelled doom for the Greeks, as a lot needed doing in a hurry and nothing got done, and then despite his strenuous attempts at resistance later, it was essentially game over.)