British Commander in Chief's Briefing

From:  Lieutenant-General Sir Lewis Heath

            Officer Commanding, 3rd (Indian) Corps

To:      Major General John Steed

            Officer Commanding, 11th (Indian) Division

Dear John

The decision to place you in command of 11th Division, replacing Major-General David Murray-Lyons, has not been an easy one: but it is the right one. Although David has served his country well for many years, it is obvious that he cannot cope with the demands of the current campaign. I have every confidence that you, on the other hand, will rise to the occasion and give the enemy the sound thrashing that they so richly deserve.

Now, your orders…

The GOC-Malaya Command, Lieutenant-General Percival, has determined that the best place to stop the Japanese from advancing further down the peninsular is the defensive position already established just north of the village of Lardak .

The position sits astride the main north-south trunk road where it cuts through the Bebola Udang ridge. It is a natural defensive site that has been strengthened by extensive works commissioned over the last few months. Hold the Japanese here, and you stop their advance dead in its tracks. Let them through, and the way to Kuala Lumpur and beyond is open…terribly open.

I know that your men have been fighting solidly for almost a month now, and that you report that they are tired beyond belief, but we just do not have the assets available to reinforce you at this moment in time. I can only tell you that you MUST stop the Japanese at Lardak.

Good luck, and may God be with you

Yours etc



Since the Japanese landings on 8th December 1941, things have not been going well for the British.

The largest part of the enemy force devoted to the conquest of Malaya and Singapore landed in Thailand : some at Singora, some at Patani. The overall defensive plan, Operation Matador, called for these forces to be met and defeated in Thailand before they even reached British territory. Unfortunately, political wavering about invading a friendly country prevented Matador from being properly put into effect, and the two British forces sent north were defeated at Ban Sadao and The Ledge.

Worse than this, these initial encounters showed that the Japanese, rather than being “small, short-sighted, frightened of the dark and equipped with rifles dating from the Old West” (a quote from a British intelligence briefing) were actually a dynamic, highly motivated, modern army comprised of troops specially trained for jungle warfare. 

The British and British Indian troops, on the other hand, although well-drilled and brave, have shown that they just cannot cope with the needs of the campaign. They have no experience in moving and fighting in jungle conditions, and do not have the training in the specialist tactics required. The only unit that have shown themselves capable of beating the Japs are the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: and this only because their commander insisted on organising his own jungle training in the months leading up to the start of the war in this theatre. Although you encouraged him, there were many who were happy to laugh dismissively at his efforts before ordering themselves another Singapore Sling!

Well, those that are still alive are not laughing now.

After the failure of Matador, defeat has followed defeat as the Japanese thrust down the main north-south trunk road that runs down the west side of the peninsular. At Jitra, only the Gurkhas of 28th Brigade prevented most of 11th Division from being encircled and completely destroyed. As it was, the division lost a huge amount of ammunition, transport assets and other supplies. At Jitra, as well, the British discovered that the Japanese had brought tanks with them: lots of tanks. You have no tanks: High Command ruled that their use was impractical in the dense terrain that characterises the region. It’s a pity that they didn’t tell the enemy that!

After Jitra came Gurun: where the men of 11th Division were literally smashed aside by powerful Japanese attacks. Only Brigadier Lay’s desperate counter-attack gave enough time to extract most of them. Casualties were significant, and again they lost vast amounts of supplies.

Then came the decision, on your predecessor’s advice, to retreat to Lardak. This meant effectively giving up the entire northern end of the peninsular, but it meant that a gap could be opened up between your men and the advancing enemy: a gap that could be used to rest them and to properly establish them at Lardak.

However constant air attacks (where is the RAF?) slowed down the retreat and, for a time, it looked as if things were all over. It was then that the Argyll’s proved what they could do. As 11th Division made its weary way southwards, the Argyll’s launched a series of incredibly successful ambushes on the leading elements of the Japanese force. Again and again, the Japanese were forced to halt and switch from advance mode to fight mode: only to find that their enemy had disappeared! Without the efforts of the Argyll’s, you would have no Division to take over. All this work, though, has exhausted the brave Scots, and even the tireless Stewart has requested a couple of days to recover.

Now the remains of 11th Division are approaching Lardak…with Mr Tojo’s finest hot on their heels!

The Current Situation

You have arrived at the village of Lardak to take personal command of the situation.

In the briefing that follows, you will find details of the significant geographical features of the region you are defending, along with maps, and details of the assets available to you for its defence. 

Available Forces

You currently have the following forces available to you:

  • Remnants of 6/15 Infantry Brigade

  • Remnants of 28 (Indian) Brigade

  • Remnants of 12 (Indian) Brigade

  • 1st Independent Company

Remnants of 6/15 Infantry Brigade

The combined 6th/15th Brigade is currently strung out along the road leading from the north. Those units that have reached Lardak have immediately been detailed to re-dig the waterlogged positions there. The troops of the brigade are tired, hungry, wet, short of supplies and transport, and have encountered only defeat so far. Having to re-dig the Lardak position has been almost the final straw.

The Brigade has taken a severe battering in the campaign so far: hence the amalgamation. Although the forces detailed below have been scaled down to allow the game to be played, historically the East Surreys and Leicester were combined into a single battered British Battalion, and the Punjabis had been severely cut up on a number of occasions. Not only this, but Brigadier Morse has been badly affected by the campaign. Although he led a heroic counter-attack that saved the day in the last major battle, since then he seems to have somewhat fallen apart, and has apparently been hitting the bottle fairly hard!

Unless you order otherwise, the various elements of this formation will begin the game either emplaced at the Lardak Position or in reserve at the village of Lardak.

  • Brigadier Endeavour Morse (1d3 or 1d6+2)

The British Company

The British Company comprises the combined remains of the 2nd East Surreys and 1st Leicester battalions: both severely mangled at the battles of Jitra and Gurun. They have fought bravely so far in the campaign, and are good troops, but have just been outclassed by the Japanese.

That said, the merger has been a success, and the men, although tired and short of supplies, are eager to have another go at the enemy. They have understood the need to re-dig the Lardak Position, and have even christened the various ridges after their platoon commanders.

Company HQ

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Jack Frost (1d4)

  • 1 x Bren Gun Carrier (MMG)

1st Platoon

  • Captain Christopher Foyle (1d4)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x 2” Mortar (2 crew)

  • 1 x Boys AT Rifle (2 crew)

2nd Platoon

  • Captain Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald (1d4)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x 2” Mortar (2 crew)

  • 1 x Boys AT Rifle (2 crew)

The Punjab Company

The Punjab Battalion is an uneasy amalgamation of all the various Punjab troops left to 6th/15th Brigade. It is made up of remnants of 1/8, 1/14, 2/16 and 3/16 Punjab.

The troops are not good quality, apart from Captain Beregerac's Sikhs, with some of the younger men never having seen a tank before. Combine that with a series of defeats, with a lack of supplies, with fatigue and with bad weather, and you have a recipe for disaster on your hands: there is some doubt about whether the Punjab Battalion will stand if attacked again. 

Company HQ

  • Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hannay (1d4)

  • 4 x Boys AT Rifle (2 crew each)

1st Platoon (Sikh)

  • Captain Jim Bergerac (1d6+1)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x 2” Mortar (2 crew)

2nd Platoon (various Indian)

  • Captain Tom Barnaby (1d4)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x 2” Mortar (2 crew)

3rd Platoon (various Indian)

  • Captain Adam Dalgalish (1d4)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x 2” Mortar (2 crew)

Support Units

You have the following support units attached to the Brigade:

88th Royal Field Artillery

  • Captain Andy Daziel (1d3)

  • FO:  Troop Sergeant-Major Peter Pascoe

  • 4 x 25lb Field Artillery plus Quad Tractors (5 crew each)

273rd Royal Artillery Anti-Tank

  • Sergeant Roderick Alleyn (1d3)

  • 3 x 2lb Anti-Tank Guns plus trucks (5 crew each)

Attached Punjab Mortars (various battalions combined)

  • Sergeant Tony Hill (1d3)

  • 4 x 3” Mortar (3 crew each)  

Remnants of 28 (Indian) Brigade

The 28th (Indian) Brigade was originally attached to 9th (Indian) Division, but was transferred to 11th (Indian) Division at the start of hostilities. It comprises almost all Gurkhas troops, and their British officers, and has performed exceptionally well so far in the campaign. Although the brigade has been decimated in the various actions it has fought, time and time again it has acted as an indefatigable rearguard. The men seem happy to fight in the dense terrain of the Malayan peninsular, and do best on the slopes that resemble their homeland.

Unless you order otherwise, the various elements of this formation will begin the game either emplaced at the Lardak Position or in reserve at the village of Lardak.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lynley (1d6)

1st Platoon (Remnants 2/1st Gurkha Rifles)

  • Captain Peter Boyd (1d6)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

2nd Platoon (Remnants 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles)

  • Captain Eddie “Wireless” Shoestring (1d6)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

3rd Platoon (Remnants 2/9th Gurkha Rifles)

  • Captain John Rebus (1d6)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

Battery from 155th FA/Lanarkshire Yeomanry

  • Lieutenant Colonel Sherlock Holmes (1d6)

  • FO:  Troop Sergeant-Major John Watson

  • 4 x 4.5” Howitzers

Remnants of 12 (Indian) Brigade

The Argylls are easily the best troops on the peninsular. The only problem is that they have been constantly protecting the rear of the 11th Division retreat through a series of devastating ambushes for the past two weeks. They are exhausted. Unless you order otherwise, they will move through the Lardak position and begin the game resting at Bariani Gam.

With them will be the equally exhausted Punjab and Hyderabad troops of 12th Indian Brigade. They, however, are not of the same quality as the Argylls, and may not stand in the face of another Japanese attack.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Gallagher (1d6)

The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Platoon

  • Major Jim “Mudda” Taggart (1d6+2)

  • 4 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x Sniper (Sergeant Ken “Brummie” Boon)

  • 2 x Boys ATR (2 crew each)

  • 2 x 2” Mortar (2 crew each)

  • 5 x Truck

Attached Argylls Armoured Car Platoon

  • Lieutenant Frank Burnside (1d6)

  • 3 x Lanchester Armoured Cars (MMG)

The Punjab Platoon

  • Captain Michael Jericho (1d6)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x Indian Pattern Carrier (LMG)

The Hyderabad Platoon

  • Captain Reginald Wexford (1d4)

  • 3 x Rifle Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x Indian Pattern Carrier (LMG)

Attached AT Guns

  • Corporal Cadfael ap Meilyr ap Dafydd (1d3)

  • 2 x 2lb ATG (5 crew each)

  • 2 x Truck

Ist Independent Company

The 1st Independent Company is a mixed group of men: 30% British and 70% Indian. They are being specially trained for river-born commando missions behind enemy lines. Their current location is at Pasembor.

Be warned that although 1st Independent Company represents your freshest troops, and have a surfeit of submachine guns, the British contingent is composed of all the nastiest hard cases combed from other battalions! You may have some discipline problems whenever you try and use these troops.

  • Captain Jack Regan (1d6)

1st Platoon

  • 1 x British Section (8 men)

  • 3 x Indian Section (8 men each)

  • 1 x Boys ATR

  • 1 x 2” Mortar

Attached Armoured Cars (3rd Indian Cavalry)

  • Sergeant George Carter (1d4)

  • 2 x Marmon Herrington Armoured Car (MMG)

The Game

Campaign Map Notes

The Game

  • Assigning Players

  • Initial Dispositions

  • Initial Orders

  • Works & Minefields

  • Pre-Designated Artillery Targets

  • Terrain Notes

  • Reinforcements

Maps (will load as new windows)


Campaign Map Notes

The main trunk road from the north (in red) runs down from the northern edge of the map, through the Lardak Position and Lardak, and off the table to the south. The other roads (ie Pasembor - Lardak via Bariani Gam; Appam - Lardak via Gulab Jamun) are not quite such good quality: trucks and tracks have to drive slowly down them to avoid mechanical breakdown.

Lardak Hill is a huge mountain footed by a series of ridges running east-west. The hill itself is effectively impassable, but the ridges make the lower slopes around the Lardak position and Appam into superbly defensible positions.

The green areas on the map represent primary jungle. This is impossible for vehicles to move through, even tracks, and very difficult for infantry. This means that the roads, and the villages that they pass through, are the absolute key to this campaign. Lose control of the roads, and you lose the battle!

The main river, the Yee Meen, is obviously impassable, as are most of the tributaries running down from Lardak Hill and the area of marshy ground to the west of the Lardak Position.

The railway line that passes just to the west of Lardak is cleared in the same way that the road is. The red "explosion", however, represents where the various bridges and embankments that cross the river/marshy area have been blown: making it certainly impossible that vehicles can drive down the railway line from the north, and a long slow journey even for infantry.

The game will centre on the Japanese attacks on the Lardak Position. Intelligence tells you that they will arrive on the campaign map at the point where the trunk road forks just north of Lardak Hill.


The Game 

The game will therefore take place across three tables:

  • Table One will be Lardak and the Lardak Position.

  • Table Two will be the area around Appam.

  • Table Three will be a “virtual” table on which will start any reserves you have at Pasembor and Bariani Gam (at the time of writing, the Independent Company and 12th (Indian) Brigade respectively). The players on this table will have to carry out a number of different tasks played out as a Krypton Factor-like series of challenges (mental, physical, emotional etc) before they are allowed to move their troops onto the two “fighting” tables.

Assigning Players

  You must assign players to each of the following commands:

  • 6/15th Brigade (suggest 3-4 players)

  • 28th Brigade  (suggest 2 players)

  • 12th Brigade  (suggest 2-3 players)

  • 1st Independent Company  (suggest 1 player)

It is up to you whether you assign yourself to a specific command i.e. become one of the players, above. I’m sure no-one will think any less of you if you don’t.

Initial Dispositions

Each command must be assigned to a specific table. The Available Forces part of this briefing tells you that, at time of writing, the commands are at or heading for:

  • 6/15th Brigade is heading for Table One

  • 28th Brigade is heading for Table One

  • 12th Brigade is on Table Three

  • 1st Independent Company is on Table Three

Attached you will find detailed maps for Tables One and Two. Once you have assigned each command to a specific table, you must assign them initial Areas of Operation (AOO’s) defined in terms of grid references. Commands assigned to virtual Table Three do not need an AOO: once players have fulfilled the task needed to release their troops to the fighting tables, their men will arrive on Table One along the road from Pasembor.

Initial Orders

Before the game begins, I will need from you exactly which forces (Big Men, Platoons) each player commands.

You should also issue written orders to each formation or player. How you do it is up to you, but I feel that the historians who come to chronicle this campaign will be disappointed with anything less than 2-3 paragraphs for each player, and pleased to see included such things as chains of command, contingency plans etc. Remember the maxim drilled into you during your training: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

Don’t forget to send me copies of any orders that you issue.

Works and Minefields (Table One and Table Two)

On arrival, you discovered that the supposedly prepared positions of Lardak were no more than a GHQ fantasy. For some reason, the civilian labour assigned to the task never materialised. As a result, your troops have had to dig or re-dig their own trenches and positions.

Despite this, you may note how well each unit is dug-in.  The default position (“dug-in”) for infantry is occupying rough trenches and fox-holes; for support weapons it is occupying well-built fire positions.

If you define troops as being “very well dug-in” then they are assumed to be within dug-outs and deeper trenches. This will decrease their vulnerability to artillery, air attack, and other long-distance fire; but will reduce their ability to shoot and slow down their ability to move or respond to a close assault. If you define troops as “not dug-in”, then they are assumed to be formed up in loose columns or lines waiting for an order to advance. They are extremely vulnerable to long distance fire, air attack and artillery; but can move immediately when ordered to do so.

You have up to one square foot of anti-personnel mines and one square foot of anti-tank mines. Please let me know where you are placing them. The default position is in boxes in a small hut at the back of Lardak Village .

Pre-Designated Artillery Targets (Table One and Table Two)

The map is grided for another reason! When calling in artillery during the game, your Big Men and FO’s will call down fire by grid reference e.g. “Fire Mission:  Table One C2, repeat, Table One C2. Soonest”.  Deviation will thus be reduced, although you will not be able to choose a particular spot to fire at: just a square.

If you wish, you may also pre-designate other specific positions, assigning each a codeword e.g. “Fire Mission:  Pork Pie, repeat, Pork Pie. Soonest”. I shall need the list prior to the start of the game!

Terrain Notes

On Table One, the streams are only passable at the fords. On Table Two, vehicles/artillery can only cross the streams using the bridges within the two villages; infantry may cross anywhere.

One Table One, the area of marshy ground to the north-west is extremely bad terrain. It is impossible for any vehicles to move through it, and infantry will move at -3 per initiative dice rolled for movement.

The ground is so rough on Table Two that each side’s pack of cards will contain a Vehicle Breakdown card.

You will note from the contour lines that the ridges crossing both Table One and Table Two are roughly the same height.

Your Reinforcements

If any reinforcements do arrive, then they will arrive from the south.