The Crete battle day was a monstrous huge affair! Although an official history is yet to be officially published, here are the reports of some of the German commanders, along with a few words from the ref!
German Eastern Table Commander's Report
To give you a bit of background, there were three tables: west, south and east in a checkerboard pattern with the airfield in the middle as open (and therefore dead) ground.
Before the day and in a special morning briefing session we had planned that the majority of our force would drop on the eastern table and sweep from east to west en masse (historically the Germans dropped all round Rethymon airfield and had to spend a lot of time consolidating their men). My job was to hold the corner of the southern table against all Allied attacks whilst the rest of the boys cleared the eastern table. Good job, eh?
As it happens, all that work seemed to be pointless, as we had an absolutely nightmare drop and fell all over the three tables with units scattered here and there and everywhere.
I ended up with three platoons on the east corner of the eastern table, but, crucially, with a small force of 3 Big Men, 2 MMG, 1 ATR and a section of infantry trapped, isolated, in a small gully on the other side of the table.
I also had a colleague on the same table, who also had three platoons.
The whole morning was spent organising our force and moving through terrain thicker than warm molasses to locate the enemy positions. Had the Allies (Kiwi troops - aargh!) attacked us then, it would have been all over...but they stayed in their positions because my small, isolated detachment did so much damage and made so much noise that they spent all their time worried about how to deal with them!
The detachment took out a whole carrier section, carrier by carrier, with the ATR (the German equivalent of the Boys).
It also knocked the flanking Allied platoon down to half strength and took out the platoon Vickers. That was when I won my iron cross - the German CinC had produced iron crosses to pin to our shirts!
Anyhow, after lunch we finally got moving. My three platoons bumped up against an incredibly strong Kiwi position (a full platoon of elite troops in trenches protected by the terrain and barbed wire) and got utterly bogged down. So great was the fire, that 15th platoon lost two sections and had to retreat the remaining one back under cover.
Meanwhile, my colleague had begun his advance: taking advantage of the weakened Allied left flank...my small detachment was now down to one Big Man, the ATR and four grunts, but had done the damage necessary to allow him to get a foothold in the wood the carriers had occupied.
This left me pinning the enemy position in front of me, but unable to advance. I decided to go back to our original orders and leave the eastern table for the southern one.
On the southern table, an outnumbered FSJ force had fought the allies to a standstill, but were about to be overwhelmed. That was until 13th platoon arrived! I was awarded a bar to my iron cross for initiative.
Because I was the only full platoon on the table, and had a Big Man, my cards kept coming up. After six turns I had wiped out all Allied resistance on my end of the table. This left the way clear for another FSJ force from the western table to come in on the other side of the southern table and hit the remaining allies in the rear.
The allies collapsed on the southern table, leaving my untouched force free to go west or east into the rear of the strong position I couldn't take from the front. The oak leaf cluster followed as I became the most highly decorated FSJ officer!
MY TOP MOMENTS OF THE DAY
High points for me were:
Kev's landlady cooking me breakfast (huzzah!)
the German pre-battle planning session that involved us all lying of the floor of Fleetwood Community Centre in drop positions! Apart from Kev who had a bad back, so had to spend the time standing up with his "groin" pressed against a fridge. Don't ask!
realising that the hours we'd spent planning our attack were wasted as none of us landed where we thought we were going to, with what men we were supposed to have!
realising that the hours we'd spent planning our attack had been incredibly useful: as the Germans, despite landing in all the wrong places with all the wrong forces, still kept working towards the initial plan, so co-ordinated their actions without actually discussing it.
lending new meaning to the phrase "thorn in the side" through the actions of a small party of men (3 Big Men, 2 MMG, 1 ATR and a single section of infantry) that dropped miles away from anyone else and spent the entire game skulking in a ditch and hammering the Allied flank.
taking out a whole carrier section with the ATR, above. It may have taken a great many shots, but we got there in the end!
trying to move through terrain that was thicker than warm molasses.
Tauser's run for cover...he didn't make it, but at least the bush gave his body shade!
advancing a platoon towards what I was sure was an empty blind to find it concealing a whole platoon of Kiwis in trenches! I didn't like 15th Platoon much anyway!
turning the course of the whole battle by sending a platoon from the eastern table to the southern table. On arrival they promptly finished off two platoons of Allied infantry that Kev had nicely softened up: sending a Big Man to his grave and knocking a section down to zero dice almost every turn!
Richard's incredible display of wind. Never have so many owed so much olfactory discomfort to one medium sized pizza. I shall never forget the sound of "German Platoon 13...(huge fart followed by groans of dismay)...German Big Man Kriechner...(huge fart followed by choking noises)...German Platoon 13...(huge fart followed by the sound of bodies hitting the floor)"
"Run, Forrest, run!"
All in all a fantastic day. Just to give people who weren't there some idea of scale, I had painted up 15 sections of FSJ's with various single figure supports (big men, wireless operator, sniper, forward observer etc) and at one stage had every single one on one table or the other!
German CinC's Report
Well chaps, What can I say - it worked like a dream !
Well, maybe not, but it did work ! I just wanted to say well done for your fine, and hard fought (if rather too close for comfort) victory yesterday. I had a great time, a good laugh and met up with old friends and made some new ones, so thanks for making the day such fun.
I was probably in a better position than most to get an overview of all three tables, so I'll give you the (very) edited highlights.
Simmo on the Eastern table, seemed to land in strength on the extreme East of the table, and it took a long while for his boys to get going (blinds and all that), with the exception of some MMG's which managed to do some serious damage to the enemy. Meanwhile, a small detachment of Rob's was pinned down in a gully near the Western end of the table, but South of the road. Against all odds, this detachment, with the enemy on three sides, managed to knock out or disable a carrier platoon, and so occupy the enemy, that Simmo's advance could be organised and start without too much trouble. Further South, in the hills, Rob's main force was all set for a sweep round the Britishers' flank, when he found a dastardly trick ! Those damn Tommies had put wire all across the ravine, and covered it with their guns - no way through !
Meanwhile, on the Western table, Bazza and Mark had also landed in strength (albeit it a bit more strung out) on the Western table. After a fierce firefight, Kleftiko fell to Bazza's assault, and the defending Greeks (yes - Greeks.....) were destroyed. Mark on the other hand, sent section after section to peer into a deep Gully. Unfortunately the Tommies had invisibility cloaks, the force, or God knows what, coz he couldn't see them at 2" range. Whereupon, tea arrived, off came the invisibility cloaks, and Marks platoon exited, stage left !?! Meanwhile another of Bazza's platoons was stuck in a dry riverbed to the east of the table, and were engaged in a firefight with a Tommy platoon (and a broken down Matilda).
Whilst over on the centre table Fat Wally was doing stirling work, with the weakest of forces available. Good old Yanklalot seemed to fire his two 75mm guns first, every turn, which caused a steady trickle of casualties all along the Tommie's front - particularly important the knocking out of one of the two Vickers. The wide dispersal of the forces meant an attack all along the front, with two of the three Tommy platoons throwing back the assaulting forces. Though they did suffer high casualties themselves. The third attack ebbed and flowed for a long time, before a Mexican standoff was achieved as Captitain Lardisch Von Skinner and two para's held a Britisher gun pit against two Tommy sections (OK they only had 3 men each - so couldn't move!). Here was the first of the decisive points for me: Yankalot commanded virtually the only effective forces on the table (2 guns) but was able to inflict such a steady rate of casualties on the enemy that he didn't want to move, and his effective strength was continually being eroded.
Back on the eastern table, Simmo had made it across the open ground and was sticking it to the enemy. This occupied the enemy so much, that Rob was able to release a platoon to reinforce the Southern table. This proved to be another of the three decisive points, as Rob's platoon made short work of the severely depleted Tommy platoon facing him. Then, for some reason unknown, the Britisher commander fed another platoon into the positions denuded by Rob's fire. These were also quickly dispatched, and effectively ended Britisher strength on the table.
Back on the Western table, Bazza had been reinforced in the Eastern gully, and put an assault in which broke into the Tommie's positions. They were then repulsed, but further attacks were going in. Meanwhile, Mark had also been reinforced, and secured the Western side of the table, and released his Company HQ to support the Southern table. This provided the final decisive point of the game, with Mark's fresh HQ section clearing the remnants of the Tommies from the newly christened Cemetery Hill, and occupying the enemy's trenches. What turned out to be the last of the enemies reserves appeared, headed up by their Colonel. These launched a surprise assault (to them as much as us - high die roll!) with a three sections reaching Mark's position. In a glorious manner, Mark then sent those Pesky Tommie packing: wiping out at least half of their effective strength, and sending the remainder packing !
The way was then open for Rob's platoon to return to the Eastern table and put in a flank attack to support Simmo's final assault, and Mark's reinforcements could work round the Southern edge of the Western table, and do the same for Bazza's assault.
And so the day was ours !
As you can see from the above précis, I think this really was a team effort, and I'm sure we would have lost without the level of understanding and co-operation we displayed.
Thanks again to you all for your hard work, before and during the game !
Thanks once again also to Richard and all at Lardy HQ: a lot of effort by you guys, but very much appreciated by all us Lardites !
German Southern Table Commander's Report
Here's my personal reflections. There was a lot going on though so I'm only really aware of my own table, the southern one and have hazy recollections of the others.
First of all what a great day. Thanks to the Snorbens crew for having us (...er, I mean having us over, Sid!).
Preparation is the key and Rich had done it. He had created a brilliant scenario loosely based on Operation Mercury. The day was all about fog of war and moving the goalposts. When he took me aside and said it had all gone wrong I though he meant the hall was double booked! Only then he went on and explained that my troops had landed on the wrong table and initially only one Platoon, a Company HQ squad and two GeB36 Mountain guns were facing as it turned out two Companies of Kiwis!
Martin Kay had done a bloody marvellous job with us. He had provided us with a magnificent briefing in complete detail. As one of the German Commander's said "My blokes even know where to shit!" We had a briefing sesh at my B&B (bless Mrs Slater, where Rob even blagged a breakfast). We all agreed on a plan and we all knew our own roles and those of the other German Commanders. In effect Martin had actually recreated German high commands doctrine of us learning roles in the command structure. When the drop went awry we all adopted our roles. Rob's and my commands had changed roles. I had to hold and pin he had to attack. This was not discussed by Rob, Martin or myself on the day. Rob and me knew each other's roles and the tactics we needed to adopt to keep the team overall plan. It was about putting the right pins in the right holes.
However, I pinned my opposition, the Pseudo-celeb himself, Sid and Mike Brian (who made us all really nice measuring strips) outnumbered as I was 2:1 at least, by assaulting. Poor Martin Kay had only his Big Men out of his entire Company! All that planning and painting.
My other two Platoons arrived and my blinds hid behind hills out of LOS to pin the Kiwis to their positions and stop them spotting them as fakes, moving to reinforce other Allies on the other tables.
Nevertheless, with Martin's Big Men attached to my FJ we decided to give them the cold steel! FJ in assault can be fearsome...ask Sid, Mike and they're not bad in defence eh Dom! If I had stayed put we would've been massacred. Better to get massacred trying to take the position than shot down skulking at long range!
Plus I had a sore throat...a desire for tin...medals!
Highly decorated on the day with Iron Cross, three times (Martin's Oak Leaves and Bar) I had six Big Men killed under my Command and lost every single man in my Company - now you know why I like playing as Russians so much.
I placed my GeB36 mountain guns where they could hit the Allies and do the most damage. Janke Lott did a sterling job in pinning the Allies and causing wounds with the guns. He even despatched a MMG which was critical to the Kiwis defence.
I got my Knights Cross posthumously for leading yet another assault!
For me the war was over by 1.30pm I had no troops left, not a one. I managed to pin, hold and cripple two Kiwi forces which Rob (my Blucher) and Mark beat up on when they arrived.
Thanks must go to Panda, Nod and Nick, plus Rich when Panda left, for their umpiring. All did a marvellous job but looked knackered by the end of the day.
Rich is right in that I went for a slash twice wearing all my decorations. I had taken replicas of a National Socialist gold party members badge, Iron Cross and General Assault badge with me for effect. I then had paper medals pinned to me by Martin Kay for battle honours. I frightened the Christians first time, who were next door, in the morning. Then made it a double by upsetting children and parents at their party in the afternoon!
Mark's defending section's dice roll of 11 sixes in a total of 33 thrown in one round of melee, against Dom's attacking Kiwi Platoon resulted in the entire destruction of the Kiwi's plus the death of Dom! What a throw!
Run Forrest run! LOL. Sid with his Heroic Big Man trying to remove wounds...LOL! Rob with the famous 13th Platoon and his plan to get round all three tables. Dom with his Foster's Aussie hat...Lots of anecdotes that will stay with us for a long time.
It was a great day. No disputed decisions, no raised voices or arguments. Well apart from the hoots of laughter and bold ribauldry of gaming banter. Not exactly shrinking violets welcome. You'd have thought we'd all been drinking. Plus Rich's resounding farts - Never let that man eat pizza again.
Head Referee's Post Crete Day Report
Well, it's over. After two months planning and some intensive painting all round we had the TooFatLardies Crete Day yesterday, and hopefully it was enjoyed by all. For me it was one of those "A Team Moments" - I love it when a plan comes together, in that the hefty planning before hand resulted in a game so well balanced that only in the last turn did the Germans seize victory.
The game was a three-table affair, all of which were linked. If one things of a chess board arrangement, with our tables being black squares. Two tables representing the north western and north eastern sections on either side of the airfield (with this analogy the airfield would be on a white square between the two, but as this was open ground it was a no-go zone and not represented), and the southern table being directly to the south of the airfield (on the black square below). Actually that's a terrible attempt at describing the set up - if you want the gory details wait for the Christmas Special.
Anyway. The game was based on the defence of Rethimo/Rethymon airfield by the Australians on the first day of Crete. We substituted a full Battalion of Kiwis for two of Aussies, whilst the Germans got what they thought would be two full Battalion of Fallschirmjager instead of three. My attempts at disguising the scenario were fairly weak, but my statement that this would be a generic Crete game rather than a refight was only partially true.
The Germans were encouraged to plan on the basis that they would have a full eight companies on the ground, indeed their planning was highly detailed and well thought through. What they did not know was that a month prior to the game I had already diced randomly for where their forces were going to arrive, and which gamers would be on each table. What's more the game would not start as they expected, with them dropping onto the table, but two hours after the initial drop. At Rethimo the first couple of hours of the battle consisted in the Fallschirmjagers dropping almost directly onto the Australian positions and being slaughtered - I had no interest in gaming this aspect of the battle. Only later in the day did the Germans pull themselves together and take the fight to the Aussies. This was the bit we played.
As it was the German plans all went in the bin, and the gamers were individually told of the disaster that had happened, and allocated their forces, sometimes placed in the most unhelpful positions (Bazza and Mark's Germans were almost all pinned down in dried river beds - sorry lads!). The morning saw German stragglers joining the battle (this was driven by a single reinforcements card, and resulted in some people getting theirs very quickly, whilst on one table they were into the early afternoon before all had arrived. Nice!) and trying to piece together attacks with their disparate forces as best they could. This created a real see-saw effect, as initially the Kiwis had the advantage of numbers, with the balance slowly changing during the day.
The day saw intense and bitter fighting across the board. The Kiwi's colonel attempting to husband his very limited resources as best he could, and eventually leading his final Platoon is a bayonet charge against a German Company headquarters only to be killed in the attempt - with his death the final vestiges of resistance dying as the Fallschirmjagers stormed towards the control tower. Isolated forces to the east and west of the airfield were now obliged to surrender. Only one man escaped capture. CSM "Corky" Caldwell, who at one point had been assumed dead, regained consciousness, slipped away and paddled North Africa in an old wheelbarrow. I told them Corky never died!
I was considering the game last night, and whilst TooFatLardies are oft portrayed as an irreverent (lavatorial even?) adjunct to the hobby, I doubt if you'd have got a more serious attempt to recreate the events at Rethimo anywhere. The emphasis on planning within the set up was a major part of the "game" as a whole. The forces involved were almost an exact representation of the ones involved at a 1:2 ratio, with orbats as historically correct as they could be sixty-three years on. We went to great lengths to replicate the chaos of the German landings, as well as the impact of the aerial bombardment that had accompanied the attacks. In the end the Germans won, but with horrific casualties, however the British could have won if they had squashed German resistance on the southern table in the early afternoon, which at that stage they could have done with ease. However a mark of the realism of the game is that they did not, and could not have known that, and did not commit their precious reserves on a risky venture.
Having emphasised the serious aspect of our game, I would say equally that it was great to have such a good laugh on the day, the Big Men rules always seem to throw up heroes, villains and some clowns which leaven what could be a very serious game with lighter moments. For me having fun is a major part of my hobby, and I guess this is where the humorous frills can often mask the serious study of matters military that are my real raison d'etre. Indeed I hope that this keeps this list a fun and enjoyable place for you to visit, as opposed to some of the small minded sniping and point scoring that is seen elsewhere. This was certainly replicated on the day with a great sense of bonhommie amongst the players, despite a tough fight on the table. Well done, and many thanks, to all of the attendees for that.
Many thanks to the chaps who presented me with a very nice plate celebrating the Kelftiko game, the Memsah'b has promised to purchase the relevant hanging device and that will adorn my office wall within the week.