|British Centurion tanks move up in the Imjin river area|
The fighting just north of the city was to lead to one of the most celebrated actions in British military history and added new laurels to an already famous British infantry regiment, the "Glorious Gloucester's" who had gained fame during a much earlier conflict, the French Revolutionary Wars; when at the Battle of Alexandria and with the battalion attacked from the front and rear by French troops, the rear rank of their line, calmly turned about and repulsed the enemy from both directions, gaining them the distinction of wearing their famous badge on the front and back of their headdress.
That famous regimental indefatigably was to stand them in good stead when, along with the other members of the 29th Brigade, they found themselves at the eye of the storm as the Chinese offensive pitted the 27,000 men of the 63rd Army against the 4,000 men of the brigade, nearly a 7:1 ratio in favour of the Chinese army. The defence of their position holding the main road into Seoul severely mauled the spearhead 63rd Army, causing 10,000 casualties, forcing it to be withdrawn and buying time for other UN forces to create a new line north of the city bringing the whole offensive to a halt.
The 29th Brigade also paid a heavy price, losing about 1000 of their number in the battle. Both the 1st battalion of the Gloucester's and Troop C, 170th Independent Mortar Battery Royal Artillery together with the Belgian United Nations Command were awarded Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations by President Harry S Truman, and prompted General James Van Fleet, commanding general of the US 8th Army to describe the actions of the Gloucester's as;
"The most outstanding example of bravery in modern warfare".
|Heavy Weapons section, from the "Gloucesters", painted by Steve|
I should say first off that this is a very big battle using rules designed for the lower levels of the tactical engagement in modern warfare, so we cunningly "bath-tubbed" the whole affair by breaking our game into a series of three games representative of the night and day battles that characterised the nature of the fighting over the first three days as the Chinese attempted to break the UN line. Also we used our platoons of Chinese and UN troops to stand in for the battalion formations that would have occupied the various hills along this section of the Imjin river.
|The Belgian/Luxembourg Volunteer Battalion|
|Centurion Tanks of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, with the guns of the 45th Field Regiment Royal Artillery behind|
Further up the table is what would be later known as "Gloucester Hill", beyond the central ridge feature that represented one of the many gaps between the UN troops, open to exploitation by the Chinese during the battle.
|View of the terrain around Gloucester Hill with the ford over the Imjin river off table, top left|
|The important road junction on Route 11 guarded by the tank laager centre and the exposed position of the Belgians over the river.|
|63rd Army moral records set up at the start of the first night attack|
In addition to the special troops, we had some special attributes, with our Red Banners allowing the group carrying them to shrug off one shock each time and buglers that when blown caused all UN sections and teams within 24 inches to test for shocks with a 6 on a d6. Both these specials came in very handy during the game. As the senior Chinese commander, I also had the dubious services of a Commissar who, if called on to join a unit, could shoot one member and then test to remove 1d6 of shock. He too came in handy.
|Chinese patrol markers "locked down" in front of the wire at Hill 194, with Belgian markers, including the tent|
|The first night attack on Hill 194 as the first Chinese troops cautiously approach the position|
However after discussing the finer points of our fruitless attacks we got our heads together and quickly came up with a plan that utilised the merits of the five command dice each of us rolled that governed the activities we could order each turn. On a double 6 the benefactor could opt to take two turns one after the other thus allowing multiple unit attacks to be generated by those close enough to assault. This together with the spending of a Chain of Command dice would allow us to deploy a unit in ambush to add their attacks to the assault. Add in a few bugle calls and we thought we might stand a chance of kicking some Belgian butt!
|Another Chinese column seeks to penetrate the wire on Hill 194|
|Further Chinese troops infiltrate the UN position along Route 11, Red Banners to the fore|
|The Chinese lead elements deploy of their jump off markers close to the hill occupied by the Fusiliers still yet to deploy of the marker above|
|Tom's troops gather ready to take the hill in an all out bayonet charge|
|Belgian fire-power brings the first Chinese attacks to a halt|
|The Belgians deploy ready to repel the first attacks as star shells light up the night|
|The first attacks move in against the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers holding the centre|
|The Fusiliers in the centre reel in the first night of battle as the flanks hold firm|
|The Gloucester's prepare to honour their history deploying to repel attacks from different directions|
|Comrade Generals John and Chas look relaxed in this informal picture taken behind 63rd Army lines|
With one of my sections pinned down and carrying five shocks I was keen to support the progress of our advance and now was not a time for sentiment. The battalion commissar was ordered in to take control in readiness for our next attack. Calmly announcing his arrival to the commander he promptly shot one of the less enthusiastic soldiers and proceeded to remove the five shocks with a single die roll. Suddenly his attention was called skyward as the roar of low level jet engines could be heard approaching.
Taking advantage of his unerring ability to roll multiple double sixes of his own, Andy had called up air support to strike at my troops in the valley and relieve the pressure.
|The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers suffer early casualties on the first night as their lines are penetrated|
|With minimal casualties on the first night, the Belgian repel the first clumsy attacks through the wire|
|The battle builds up on Gloucester Hill|
|Chinese forces probe the defences looking for a weak points, whilst the Ulstermen and Gloucester's hold the perimeter|
|The central position is reinforced with more communist troops|
For Tom and I, now able to deploy troops on to Hill 194, our new position had forced the Belgian troops away from the forward slopes and from the route down to the trestle bridges over the Imjin and on to Route 11. Consequently my troops could nestle protected on the forward slopes as they gathered preparatory to another mass charge and ambush attack, this time covered by the darkness.
|On the following day the attacks on Hill 194 succeed in penetrating Belgian defences and air support is called in response|
|Attacked with napalm and gunfire, the Chinese troops maintain the attack causing more UN casualties at the point of the bayonet and capturing a jump off point.|
|The Gloucester's remain in firm control of their hill|
|The British guns get calls for support from the centre whilst the tanks prepare to hold open Route 11|
|Philippine troops move up to support the Irish Hussars tanks|
Thanks to Vince, Andy, Mike, Nick, John, Steve, Clive and Tom for a great day of gaming and much fun, and especially to our host and game-meister Chas for pulling it all together.
Britain's Bloodiest Post War Battle - Youtube
Next up, pictures of the WWII vehicle rally for D Day that drove past our Imjin River re-fight venue, and the 2/24e Ligne.