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This weekend saw the first Burton-upon-Trent "Beer & Lard Day": a day's wargaming designed to give those people unable to easily travel down to Lard HQ for our annual events an opportunity to try out games from the TooFatLardies stable of rules. My role was to run the games using I Ain't Been Shot, Mum!, the Lardies' WW2 company level ruleset. I ran three different scenarios on the day, the first of which was 3RTR at Hames-Boucres: the third game from the Defence of Calais early war scenario pack.

The game began as a squadron of British tanks (a Squadron HQ of an A9 and an A10; two troops of three A13s each; a troop of three MkVIb light tanks; and a couple of recon Dingos) headed in column along a sunken road towards the village of Hames-Boucres (a few miles from Calais) with orders to deal with a few "rogue enemy tanks" that had apparently been spotted roaming around the countryside. Ahead of them was a crossroads and, as they approached, the lead British tank (a MkVI) spotted three Panzer IVs coming in down the road from the left, two Panzer IIs coming in down the road from the right, and some unconfirmed German troops under Blinds heading down the road straight in front of them.

The Germans reacted first, with two of the Panzer IVs heading off road towards a hedge from behind which they would be able to enfilade the British column. The driver of the third Panzer IV was obviously having problems finding the right gear: kangaroo-hopping forward only a few yards for two activations! Meanwhile, the two Panzer IIs did the same thing: quickly lining up behind a nearby hedge and opening fire with their cannon, but only managing to chip the paint on the Squadron Commander's A10. The German Blinds headed straight down the road towards the crossroads.

The British reacted quickly as well. The light tanks at the front of the column moved to the right of the road and engaged the Panzer IIs, managing to jam the turret of one of them with their Vickers .50s, causing its crew to abandon ship. The rest of the British tanks apart from the Squadron HQ, lined up next to each other behind another hedge, despite warning that this meant that enemy targeting them could switch fire from tank to tank without huge penalty.

Two of three German Blinds then revealed themselves as a platoon of four truck-towed PaK36 anti-tank guns and a platoon of two truck-towed 75mm infantry guns. Over the next couple of turns, the anti-tank guns raced forward and set up firing positions facing the British line, with the 75s doing the same thing but much further back.

Meanwhile the two leading Panzer IVs and the Squadron Commander's A10 had been exchanging fire: the result being the demise of the Squadron Commander and his tank! The A9 that carried the Squadron 2iC, having no main gun ammunition as there hadn't been time to load any so great was the rush to disembark and get out of Calais, had moved forward and, partially shielded by the smoke from the now-burning A10, had engaged the final Panzer II with its MGs.

The German anti-tank and infantry guns now opened fire, knocking off two of the lined up A13s and one light tank. In return, one anti-tank gun lost most of its crew: sprayed by MG fire from another Vickers tank. In addition, the remaining British A13s then shot at the two Panzer IVs to their left: knocking one out entirely and disabling the other.

As this happened, however, the lag-behind Panzer IV crashed through the hedge behind which the line of British A13s was sheltering, having snuck all the way down the edge of the battlefield. The left-hand A13 turned to engage it, but was hit in the flank, knocking a track off, its crew again abandoning ship. More shots from the German AT guns took out the remaining British light tanks and the 2iC's A9.

At this point the British decided to retreat: even if they dealt with the last Panzer IV, their A13s had no HE ammunition with which to engage the German AT guns at long range, and there was no way they could close the gap over open ground in order to get into effective MG range.

A great opening game with the action proceeding almost exactly the same way that it did in May 1940. Then, the British held their own against the German panzers, but were forced to withdraw after the arrival of enemy anti-tank guns supported by infantry. The British player, Dave "Frog" Frogget, was a complete wargaming novice, and made the typical novice's mistakes of bunching his tanks and not either firing from cover or on the move. All that Steve, the German player, had to do was take full advantage...and he did!

Oh, and if you're wondering about the unusual terrain cloth, I left one of mine at home and had to use a pair of curtains found in a cupboard as a substitute!

Robert Avery