Ansdso to the first battle of 2019: a game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! against Dave using one of the scenarios from the TooFatLardies Summer Special 2016. For those unaware of the Specials, and now the Lard Magazine, these are a wonderful source of scenarios, information and inspiration for all Lard games.
The scenario, by Richard Morrill, was called George of the Jungle, and was set in Burma, 1945. A Company, 9th Borders, part of 63 Brigade of 17th Indian Division, was tasked with clearing a small village near Meiktila of Japanese. The reason for the scenario’s title is that this action includes the participation of George McDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, and is mentioned in his autobiography Quartered Safe Out Here. I would play the Japanese, and Dave would play the British.
The British force consisted of a full company of infantry: three platoons each of three sections of eight men, a light mortar team and a PIAT team (authorised to be used against bunkers). The Company and each platoon also had a Big Man: so four in all.
In support, the British could call upon off-table artillery managed by an on-table FOO; and had a platoon of three Sherman tanks and a Big Man from the Royal Deccan Horse rolling along beside them.
The Japanese defenders could muster a single platoon of fanatical infantry: a Big Man, three squads of ten riflemen, and one squad with three grenade launchers. In support, they had two MMG teams, one anti-tank gun with Big Man, one 75mm howitzer, and a team of tank killers.
Significantly, the Japanese were very well dug-in to concealed bunkers and trenches: they would be very hard to spot.
Dave decided, very sensibly, not to split his force, but to send everything down the left flank. This, of course, neatly took out half my defending force, including one MMG team, the tank killers and the anti-tank gun, so one of my first moves once my Blinds card appeared, was to start shifting my troops on my left to my right.
My second move was to spot his nearest Blind (the one to the left of the palm tree in the picture above, left): revealed as his tanks. This was just the target the howitzer had been deployed to deal with so, from its bunker underneath a bunch of palm trees, it opened fire on the nearest tank.
Three hits were scored, but howitzers weren’t designed to take out tanks, so all I managed to do was to scratch a bit of paintwork!
Now it was the British turn to spring into action. A Blind charged towards the bunker and revealed itself as a platoon of infantry. We ruled that two sections could attack the bunker from the same direction at any one time, so it was sixteen infantrymen verses five em-bunkered fanatical artillerymen.
As the British had been forced to run it at the bunker, and hadn’t softened it up at all first, the Japanese managed to repel them: killing four Borderers for the loss of one of their own.
Another British Blind hurled itself forward: it was another infantry platoon, and this time the somewhat exhausted howitzer crew were all killed. First blood to the Brits!
Unfortunately, all this charging around left the British a bit exposed, especially as I had decided to defend forward with some of my infantry. A squad revealed itself dug-in to the end of the undergrowth on the British flank, and opened fire with a Great shot at Close Range.
This was going to be horrible whatever happened, but the Dice Gods were smiling on me and I rolled three 6’s on 3D6! Carnage!
More was to follow. An MMG team opened fire from next to where the infantry had been concealed, and another infantry squad opened fire with great success at the British platoon trying to loop into the bottom of the village. The Japanese snipers also opened fire, and although they did no casualties, added Shock and Pins to a couple of enemy sections. Finally, the Tank Killers stormed out of the trees and bashed their “bombs-on-a-pole” into the front armour of the trailing Sherman “Fox”. They did no damage, but the tankers inside were definitely not amused!
It had definitely been a most successful ambush, but could that success be turned into victory?
The British replied with a wave of fire from their tanks and infantry. A few Japanese fell, but the only significant loss was that the MMG team were forced to retreat from their bunker Shocked by HE shells from the Shermans. The British were, however, still mostly out in the open, and continued to lose far more men than the defenders as the exchange of fire continued.
One Japanese sniper was forced off the table by advancing Brits, but the Tank Killers were on a roll. Firstly, they repelled a charge by a British infantry section, desperate to clear them from the Sherman. Then they managed to work their way onto the Sherman’s flank and make their bombs-on-a-pole work. Boom! Exit one Sherman!
The Tank Killers wanted to continue onto the next tank…but there were too many British infantrymen in the way. They would have to wait until a path cleared!
As you can probably tell, things were getting a bit desperate for the Brits now. Their battered platoons had largely gone to ground, and the weight of Japanese didn’t seem to be slackening.
Something needed to happen: so one undamaged section of infantry charged the MMG bunker to which the remains of an MMG team had just returned. Success: the MMG and its team were finally dispatched!
Once again, however, this rapid advance left the British infantry vulnerable. The final Japanese infantry squad deployed from where it had been waiting patiently behind the greenery, and blasted the Brits at Close range. A low dice roll (for a change) but still plenty of damage was done.
That was really it for the Brits. They had lost over a third of the ninety-six infantrymen they had started with, and one of their Shermans. The Japanese showed no signs of being moved and, in fact, had only lost one infantryman, one MMG team and the howitzer. With a heavy heart, the British commander ordered the retreat.
Now that was a quick game: just about two hours from start to finish.
The British were determined to take the fight to the Japanese and force them to work to their timetable, but unfortunately got a bit enthusiastic with the charges and ended up under the guns of the Japanese ambush. The high rolls the Japs made at this point just added insult to injury, and really cut deep into British numbers early on in the battle.
The British were also unfortunate in that their artillery never actually arrived, despite being successfully called in. The ranging shots had been moved to bracket the main Japanese position to the south of the village, and would perhaps ‘opened the door’ to a more general assault had a barrage or two actually landed
But, in the end, the British came on fast and hard, without properly scouting the terrain, and paid the penalty for their haste.