The Battle of Al Khali

Tonight we returned to the Sudan for another battle between the Ansar and Anglo Egyptian forces. It did turnout to be a bit of a one sided affair.

We organised our forces, I took some naval ratings, Egyptians and Sudanese, with a Gatling. Joe went for the the Ansar. I was lucky with my command values, but not so with tne officer attributes, having one drunk, one cad, one short sighted chap, a brave one and the general’s favourite nephew . The naval ratings were led by the cad, and the Sudanese by the nephew…

So from left to right some really useless Egyptians who were both poor shots and unenthusiastic. Next are some okay ones, but their officer was short sightedness couldn’t shoot beyond close range, we then have the Gatling gun led by a brave chap and finally the naval ratings and the Sudanese.

In the scenario Joe was expected to defend the town, and therefore had to drop his points to 18.

My subterfuge was to put the useless troops as far away from the fighting as possible…it worked as their dice rolls were impeccable and as I was rolling 8 plus on all of my dice the fact they were useless wasn’t obvious. The force steam rollered forwards and engaged the cavalry in the trees. They took a couple of casualties, and then got annoyed by the firing and charged… sadly they fell short and were caught in the open. All of my units managed to fire and made short work of them and the unit of fanatics coming up behind.

The Ansar in the open moved to threaten my left flank…if they had pressed home they would have rolled up the line.

To be honest with two units out if five down, it was pretty obvious that my forces only had to stay put down fire at long range…

My dice rolls were pretty jammy tonight and the Gatling failed to fire or move only once… I have a confession to make. I was hitting on fours, it was only when I went to tidy up that I realised that I was reading the Gatling stats from the last game. So a big apology to Joe for being a cheating B*stard. I should have been hitting on a five.

We have decided that the Ansar are going to have hidden set up, as was the case in reality, they would often appear in their hundreds outof defile etc. This will make jt a bit harder for the British, but jt should stop the stand and just shoot approach.

Today was another midge day, we were putting up and electric fence and it was a nightmare until a breeze got up. On the upside I still have my fetching veil

Severe Encounter With Mahdist Troops

Intelligence has been received from our reporter, Fanhard, who has been with a column near the troubled town of Khufurah.

As we reported last week, after a great victory and subsequent setback the Allied Garrison once more set out to retrieve the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Fanhard was allowed to travel with the Durham’s and returned his copy immediately after his return to camp.

It was decided by Stewarton that a large force should assemble to return once more to the Khufurah plain.

Our troops were an Anglo Egyptian force comprising the Durham’s, the Guards, along with a naval crew manning a gatling gun, protecting our right flank were the colourful gentlemen known as Bashi Bazouks. They carried more weapons upon their persons than was normal. To the left of the British forces were a mixed force of Egytians and Sudanese troops, with lancers and cavalry protecting the left. After we broke our morning fast the sun was already searing the sands. We set forth into the unknown, our target was a small wadhi where numerous vultures were circling. As we advanced a great shout came from our front and left flank as numerous enemy forces appeared as if out of the very earth itself. Their guttural war cries were, demonic as they bounded forwards, intent on our downfall.

The Bashi Bazouks sensing an easy prey galloped forward to engage the enemy. However, as they did so a unit of enemy horse appeared out of the heat haze behind them.

The Durham’s to which I was attached, fired at range and stopped the advance of the horse. The Guards poured fire towards the infantry to their front, as the range was extreme, few casualties fell. Off on our left more and more enemy forces appeared heading straight for our Egyptian allies. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the enemy’s strategy. Some units would attack without delay and others would merely melt away into the sands. On our left flank, the cavalry always ones for glory, rashly charged a unit of Mahdist infantry.

The cavalry on our right suddenly seemed to rally. The Officer commanding the Durham’s ordered a square to be formed, which they did with military precision. Fortunately, they did so as the enemy spurred their mounts and charged into a withering fire. Across our whole front more enemy appeared. With regular volleys, the Gurads and Durham’s kept the enemy at bay. The Sudanese troops were assaulted by fast moving camel riders and after taking heavy casualties were pushed back. The lancers on our extreme flank were unable to exploit any enemy weaknesses as their officer, unfortunately, dithered over what to do.

Sensing that the weakness in our force were the Egyptians, the the enemy threw everything at them, but our plucky allies managed to hold them and turn the tide of battle. After it’s initial problems, the Gatling gun was brought to bear on the camels and in a roar of fire reduced them to an insignificant trifle.

The gunners had certainly got their aim in and enemy after enemy were scythed down in their droves. The roar of the gun bolstered the morale of our Egyptian allies who advanced into the fray. Sadly the dithering of the lancers meant they were charged at the halt by overwhelming odds.

They fought bravely, but with mounting casualties they were forced to retire as a spent force. The Sudanese however, carried on with their advance even though reduced to less than half their number.

The Bashi Bazouks mopped up forces as they galloped along the enemy flank. With mounting casualties the enemy eventually melted away into the haze and our forces halted to help our wounded and collect our dead.

Wounded enemy were dealt with accordingly. Once everything was organised, with our wounded and fallen protected by a small force we marched onwards to meet the horror of the massacre the week before.

Letter to Her Majesty

Ma’am, it pains me to inform you of some severe losses that took place on Monday 2nd August near the town of Khufurah.

A mixed force of naval ratings from HMS Norfolk, Sudanese and Egyptians met with terrible losses and there are unfortunately few survivors to recount the terrible events.

The force had been tasked with scouting an area west of the town of Khufurah. They marched out of the town at 14.00 and were last seen at 14.30 as they crested a rise.

Unbeknown to all the Mahdist’s had returned to the area. As the Sudanese approached the first water hole a number of Dervish leapt from a hidden defile and charged the right flank. With military precision they wheeled and gave fire halting one unit with terrible casualties…

Sadly the second enemy force made contact and pushed the line back, butchering the wounded as they fell. The Sudanese withdrew in good order, but the enemy were on their heels and killed them to a man. Unfortunately Colonel Smythe and his adjudant Captain Smith were among those that fell.

The naval ratings swung their gun to protect the flank, but unfortunately major Twitt marched his men the way they had come and stopped the gun from firing. Unfortunately this occurred numerous times during the short battle.

The Egytian force nearest the threat did a smart about turn but unfortunately the horrific scene in front of them meant that they were unable to fire as they were shocked to the core.

Panic rippled throughout the Egyptian forces as unit after unit refused to obey their orders, Major Twitt managed to clear the way for the gun, only to March in front of it again momenrs later…

Cavalry appeared out of the smoke and attacked the right hand unit, who held for a while, but assaulted on three sides, as they were, then they too fell.

The gun opened up on the enemy to their front whilst Twitt contemplated his next move. It inflicted heavy losses on the unit, but it’s morale still held as they sensed victory.

As more cavalry appeared and threatened the rear of the gun, the gunners brought it to bear, but unfortunately the horsemen were upon the gunners, who with valiant effort pushed them back even though outnumbered three to one!

This gave the hard pressed matelots a chance to fire at close range, enough to cause the cavalry to pause, but unfortunately with enemies on all sides and Twitt once again masking the gun, things were very quickly over for out forces.

Wolsey has advised me that another large force is to be sent into the area to Bury the remains of our troops and to locate the forces who perpetrated the defeat. They will not escape justice.

I remain your must humble subject,

Colonel Moutard

This game was an absolute hoot, with sod all chance of an allied victory. Well the latter is not entirely true. With hidden set up for the Mhadist’s it makes it tricky to form a strategy, however if I had set up on the left flank instead of the centre then I wouldn’t have met any forces on turn three. Twitt was an absolute blast. If I rolled a one for his unit then Joe got to order him about, this happened four times in six turns, then again at the end of the game. I knew I was pushing my luck fielding an Egytian force, but things happened pretty much as they did back in the Sudan.

We are doing a double point game against Mr Babbage next week… we will see how that goes.

Massacre at Khufurah

Today our game of ‘The Men WhomWould be Kings’ took place between Joe and I. We went for 24 points as per normal and then after dicing for officers rolled on the scenario table. I was tasked by Wholsey to take the Fort at Khufurah which was sadly surrounded by lots and lots (it seemed) of enemy combatants.

Luckily for me the points of the defender dropped to eighteen causing Joe to lose his two cavalry units.

Left to right, are the guards, denoted by their red tunics( yes I know they didn’t wear then, but it let’s me see who is who). Next is a 9lb artillery piece, followed by a unit of Egyptians and finally the Durham’s. The officer in the guards was a brave chap, the Durham’s was as bald as a coot and sadly for the Egyptians their officer was rather useless. I had reduced the Egyptian points to 4 to allow the Guards to gain sharpshooter, hitting on 4+. The Egyptians ended up being poor shots as well as unenthusiastic meaning I needed to roll a 9 on 2D6 to get them to move at all.

The Guards headed off onto the left flank whist the Durham’s went right. The gun and Egyptians decided it was still breakfast and sat still.

A unit of Hadendowah bounded forwards and received volley fire as well as a clobbering by the gun. They made it no further and were destroyed to a man. The Ansar gun maneuvered to try and get a shot at the Guards but they moved out of sight, before the gun got a chance to fire.

The Egyptians eventually decided to move and were supported by the gun (who had had their cup of tea and jam on toast) and had already moved to support the right flank. The Ansar gun failed to fire and unfortunately was in range of the the Royal Artillery who made short work of it.

With the centre free of a threat, the Guards came right and the Egyptians bolstered by the presence of an elite unit bounded forward turn after turn, only to be halted by some sneaky chaps hiding in a mosque. Sadly they got no further as although Joe’s dice rolls were poor, they did enough casualties to cause them to turn tail and run for home. Sadly this meant the guards now got shot at too

On the right flank the Durham’s and gun made short work of the troops hiding in the trees

These two units then swung around the buildings to their front to support the Guards and threw everything they had at the Troops in the mosque… as I said, Joe’s dice were bad, mine in the other hand were not…

The Mosque did not last long, neither did the troops inside. With a last gasp the troops in the fortification sortied out and made straight for the Durham’s. The brave Northern lads managed to wheel and meet the foe, bayonet to sword and spear. They took four casualties but Miraculously they held and actually pushed the enemy back, leaving the field open to volley fire and a clobbering by the gun.

All in all a good little game. First one in about 2 years.

Friday’s Forgotten Forces

By heck it is round to Friday again.

Braving winds and heavy rain I fought my way to the shed to locate something forgotten…. it wasn’t hard they were sitting in full view on the mini shelves I made out of scrap wood from the builders yard in Lerwick.

I remember really enjoying painting these chaps. They are for Science versus Pluck, not the main forces as they are in 10mm. These chaps are there for if things get tricky and a player is forced to resort to hand to hand.

The idea is that the player faces a random number of attackers who are trying their best to fill said player full of holes. The various sergeants and other ranks are there to help out depending on what their personalities their character has. A beloved officer will have a rescue force, a hated Officer will find very quickly if he is spear proof as the other ranks look the other way.

The rules themselves are somewhat Kriekspeil in their design. The players are all against an umpire or two who operate the terrain and the enemies. It is definitely not a case of I go, you go. Turns vary in length from hours to minutes and indeed in my campaign I am organising (well I started yonks ago) the allied forces begin the campaign in Blighty…they will need to organise forces to relieve Khartoum but from the Red Sea port of Suakim. One day I might actually get to run it. I have played a couple of games and the rules worked well.

So onto the forgotten forces…

British officers and other ranks:

Hussars and an intrepid reporter for the Illustrated Gazette

Some of the gentlemen whose aim is to fill the above full of holes…

There are also a pile of camel mounted ansar seen in the first photograph (not to mention a pile of undercoated infantry).

Because I am a wargamer, whilst looking at these photos I realise that there are some gaps.. naval brigade, a Gardner gun if for no other reason that it can jam after firing seventy rounds… Mounted officers, civilians etc….

All of the above models are Peter Pig 15mm miniatures. I toyed with the idea of going for Perry 28mm’s but decided to keep the scale smaller.

We as we are mentioning the Sudan war of 1885…

The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of the schoolboy rallies the ranks,
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

To be fair the square didn’t break, it opened up and let the enemy in, and it was a Gardner that jammed, not a Gatling…but now I am being a pedant….

Back to the Sudan

On a course and I had to do homework… I mean Actual homework in a homework book.

Now I don’t want to be rude, but to be honest I checked twice in case I had been given a child’s spelling book in error.

We did a full day of training I then popped back to the office and ended up popping in for an hour and a half. This meant I had to go shopping later than expected, with the knock on effect that I haven’t had time to get anything painted tonight!

So tonight we have some of the terrain I use in my Sudan games.

These are 6mm buildings that work well to represent villages etc. The trees are imported palms from China. Cheap as chips, this is a small selection. The headless statue is a Hirst Arts one from some 28mm Egyptian stuff ain’t had spare.

The following hill was originally designed for my 6mm road wars stuff but to be honest it works for 10mm too.

Please ignore the pale splodge at the top of the slope. Some idiot dropped cream coloured paint on it.

Finally some figures. These are all 15mm. These were designed to act as characters during a battle. I should mention here that. I rather enjoy Science Versus Pluck. A set of rules in which everyone plays on the Anglo Egyptian side against an umpire.

In those rules if things get somewhat sticky for the brave souls it can lead to hand to hand combat. The larger figures are then placed on the side and the mini combat takes place. These are all Peter Pig miniatures. I decided on the 15mm as 28mm just sort of looked wrong.

Here we have a reporter in the foreground with various officers and sergeants further back. The reporter is there as one player didn’t want a combative role and was happy to send reports back from the column.

I also bought some cavalry as players can be cavalry or mounted infantry officers.

Finally the above need someone to spoil their day.

A selection of the chaps that poor Lieutenant Trapper is evidently about to meet, for what is probably an exceedingly short time.

Enemy Spotted…Battalion Will Form Square!

Now for the other side of the coin.

The Dervish

Before we go any further I suppose I should say why the Soudan and not Zulu or any other colonial game.

I suppose it was down to choice of forces with regards to the Zulu War. Basically the Impi..that’s it…..with a handful of rifles. North West Frontier and the Khyber pass, great selection of troop types but it is rather hilly in that neck of the woods and that would mean a rather large set of terrain, yeah I know they have valleys and the like, but the pass without the hills is just not the Khyber pass – if that makes sense.

The Boer War has never really interested me. Now the Boxer Rebellion, I was really interested in that conflict, however, at the time Pendraken wasn’t doing the Boxer Rebellion. Yeah I know there are other manufacturers out there but I like the Pendraken stuff and there I stayed.

I loved the four feathers from when I was a kid. Both the 1939 and the 1978 one. I haven’t seen the 2002 version.

My late father used to quote Kipling at times:

So ’ere ’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;

 You ’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;

An’ ’ere ’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ’ayrick ’ead of ’air—

You big black boundin’ beggar—for you broke a British square!

And let’s not forget…

The sand of the desert is sodden red,

Red with the wreck of the square that broke,

The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel’s dead,

And the regiment blind with the dust and smoke.

We all know they didn’t have a Gatling gun with them but a Gardner gun, which incidentally scans perfectly in the poem!

Anyway enough of the waffle…

First up the mounted troops

Once again these are a mix of Sudanese forces and those from the North West Frontier. I added the latter to add a bit of variety to the force.

Next the camelry

Beja on the right and river Arabs on the left.

Command bases.

From my reading a lot of the Emir’s rode into battle and had a pretty high casualty rate as it was obvious who was in charge.

Now for the infantry

Beja first and river Arabs second

To be honest though they look better from my perspective:

Maybe not better, but at least more colourful😉

Rifles next:

And of course the captured artillery

Oh and the Museum piece

This was a GW empire cannon from the Warmaster range. I gave it a crew and it fitted in well as an archaic weapon.

Finally I decided to make the Mahdi himself.

This is what my Dervish force looks like in full

I really do like the Pendraken range for both sides of this conflict.

Further into the Sudan

Tonight I took some more photos of the Anglo Egyptian forces.

The infantry are quite numerous and only a selection have been shown here and the previous post.

first up the mounted troops.

Mounted infantry to the left with both the mounted and dismounted troops

And the hussars… before they realised the lance was preferable to the sabre when some sneaky chap lies down to hamstring your horse as it hurtles past.

Not to mention the obligatory spare figures to act as scouts and messengers.

Next up the Egyptian troops.

First some repurposed WW1 Askari that were already painted. These are my Sudanese. In the earlier campaigns they were dressed as Egyptian infantry. This way they are obvious on the table.

Next some Egyptian infantry

And finally some Bashi Bazouks – actually ACW zouaves. I ordered these and painted them before I found Pendraken actually did Some proper figures.

Next are some civilians with their camels.

Royal Artillery with some large ordinance and a Gatling gun…they decided to leave the mountain guns behind.

Some cuirassiers who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Middle Age. Baker’s force had a unit of these, but armed with sabres and not spears. I use these for either side as required.

And finally for this evening….

Camels

Some of these have appeared in earlier photos. I just ran them around the back of the camera to make it look like I had more 😉. I actually think I am missing some of the pack camels, they may be in the box with the Mongols.

Tomorrow, if I don’t manage to get any painting done, I will show the Ansar.

Foray into the Sudan

I was having a mooch in the shed this evening and came across these fine fellows.

Chaps of the Guards camel corps. Dismounted to the fore and mounted at the rear (guarding the baggage camels). The individual figures act as scouts or messengers etc. I know that by the time of the conflict the colours were left at home but that didn’t stop me converting a standard bearer 👍

Next up we have the fine fellows of her majesty’s Royal Navy.

Royal Marines in the centre with matelots either side. Someone allowed them to hand haul a Gatling gun with them. Beresford can be seen mounted with the colours.

Then we move onto the mixed battalions.

Highlanders form the rear and sides whilst The Durham’s form the front. Pack camels hide in the centre of the square. Amazing beasts camels…they need a pint of water a month😂😂😂.

Finally in this bunch (my IPad ran out of charge) are the Guards troops (yeah I know they didn’t wear the red jacket…but I like them plus it makes them easy to recognise mid game 😉.

The one thing not shown are the hussars and mounted infantry, further British infantry and artillery,Egyptian battalions, Bashi Bazouks and the civilians….oh and lots and lots of camels.

These are all Pendraken. I may still get some Sikh infantry to add in the Indian battalions.

Tomorrow I will photograph the rest. Today was hectic and I didn’t get anything done painting wise. Cinema with the youngest then my eldest’s play this evening. My middle child is off gallivanting on Orkney for her 10th birthday shenanigans.