Another year, another summer game with friends from the Devon Wargames Group up at Chez Chaz in deepest darkest North Devon, in the most glorious summer countryside in God's own county.
Trust me when I say that there is a reason why Heaven rhymes with Devon!
So last year we were deep in central Italy in 210 BC at the battle of Numistro with Hannibal dancing rings around the Romans.
This year we fast forward to the dark summer of 1940 when Britain stood alone, at bay and facing the threat of invasion from the Nazi menace. Fortunately the country could draw on deep reserves of fortitude, courage and skill at arms so exemplified by Captain Mainwaring and the platoon of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard ready to defend home and hearth.
|The map of Walmington which provided the inspiration for our table and should help to locate where various actions happened throughout the battle|
The briefing for the players paints the scene:
"Well its all gone wrong for the British, Dunkirk was a disaster, the Scottish Division was captured in France, Spain attacks Gibraltar, British Regulars sent to take the Canaries. Basically the defence of the UK is in the hands of newly raised TA units and volunteers.
Therefore great efforts have been made to bolster the country defence by inventing new weapons. The Great Panjamdrum being an example. Churchill as ever wants to promote these inventions and boost moral and has gone to the South Coast.
Not everyone is happy with the war effort and some want Churchill gone, so a group of BUF's have contacted the Germans with Churchill's intentions.
The Germans as usual are fighting amongst themselves as to who gets Hitler's favours, so when Hitler gives the order to capture Churchill alive and bring him back to Germany all the services come up with their own plan.
The stage is set, what happens next the historians will argue about for years afterwards......."
|German naval forces gather off shore|
It's early morning in June in Walmington and a summer sea mist hangs over the sleepy English seaside town, Sergeant Wilson and Private Pike gaze out from the sea front bunker towards the wire after a long night on duty eagerly anticipating being relieved by Privates Walker and Frazer and getting home for a well earned breakfast.
The town has been in a state of high alert and excitement ever since news spread that Mr Churchill had arrived in Walmington late last night ready to inspect the town defences later today.
|The first German Naval assault troops prepare to head for the beach|
As Pike continues to look through the binoculars commandeered from one of the sea front amusements a slight gap in the mist allows a more extended view of the beach front and the sea beyond. Slipping another penny in the slot and adjusting the lens to the new limits of visibility his eyes are drawn to a long sleek grey boat, side on to the shore, with a bright red flag swinging limply from a mast at the stern. Smaller craft packed tightly with the grey soldiers are moving away from the larger vessel and heading in towards the beach.
Sergeant Wilson has gone to the back of the bunker and the small desk and chair, ready to complete the log book with a note of the night's events including the time earlier that morning as German aircraft were heard passing quite low over the town.
His attention is interrupted by an urgent call from the vision slit as Pike maintains his position behind the viewfinder "Uncle Arthur, Uncle Arthur, I think the Germans might be here!!"
|Gliders of Sturmabteilung Witzig litter the meadows at the back of Walmington|
As events unfold on the beach front, the sleek gliders of the elite glider Kompanie of the 7th Falschirmjager Division fresh from their success at Fort Eban Emael in Belgium the previous month circle and line up for a landing in the meadows close to Private Godfrey's cottage near the railway viaduct.
The assault detachment, Sturmabteilung Witzig, is led by Hauptman Rudolf Witzig, Knights Cross holder and newly promoted following his gallant leadership during the attack on the Belgian fort. He is ably supported by Lieutenant Muller and they have been tasked personally by Reichsmarschall Goering to make sure that Mr Churchill is taken by them to the U-boat waiting for them off shore on the beach at Walmington.
|Forces are mustered and plans discussed|
To aid the German glider troops in their mission they have been given details of the BUF teams operating within the town who are under instructions to provide assistance and intelligence, although how much they can be trusted, both Witzig and Muller remain unconvinced.
|Final adjustments made to the various commands|
Speed for the German force will be key in taking full advantage of the reduced visibility until the sun burns off the morning mist and enables the defences to ascertain the threat before them. If the British are able to summon nearby regular and naval defence forces the mission to capture the British Prime minister and effect an escape by sea will become less likely by the hour.
|The players receive a final briefing before the first troops are placed on their jump off points|
As the German glider troops disembarked and quickly made their way to the road bordering the landing zone and fronting the outskirts of the town. local defence forces could be heard barking orders and assembling within the town. Perhaps events on the beach has caused alarm and the glidermen could only hope that their attention would be in that direction.
|Witzig's glider men advance towards the houses making use of cover and the mist|
|As two groups move forward the LMG team and sniper cover the advance|
The alarm had also alerted the British 5th Columnists and the Bradenburg Commando team sent to support them.
Led by the arrogantly superior Lord Percy, his teams of agents and saboteurs made for their assembly points ready to misdirect teams from the Local Defence Volunteers and cause as much disruption to the defences as possible, only resorting to armed action at the last possible moment in support of German ground forces.
|Local Defence Forces are on high alert with the Prime minister in town|
|The first German Naval Troops hit the beach|
|Corporal Jones pulls on his battle-bowler and runs out of the shop to join other LDF troops on the alert for German Paratroops|
The PM's body-guard now had a larger problem on their hands as the PM quickly dressed prompted by the sound of gunfire outside his suite of rooms at the town hall.
Grabbing his Homburg hat and Thompson sub-machinegun whilst gulping down his early morning malt, the old man suddenly became enthused for the battle and ready to lead the locals in their defence of the town; all this whilst scowling at a certain Herman Hesse who had been delivered to the town hall that previous evening claiming to have come from the Fuhrer with some cock and bull peace offer to end the war.
|British Naval troops join the defenders patrolling the streets|
With the defenders well and truly alerted the fighting quickly multiplied throughout the town with the German glider troops quickly overpowering LDV road blocks whilst fending off arriving regulars and TA soldiers sent to investigate reports of glider landings.
|A section of Muller's glider men prepare to defend the landing zone from arriving British TA and Regular troops|
|Muller oversees the rest of his platoon as they start to infiltrate the defences|
This did not end well for the Percy's saboteurs and many were killed in the fighting with the PM's team and LDV men with elements of the local Morris-men troop grenading the last defenders in the church.
|Shooting breaks out close to the Prime minister's car as the British Fifth Column make their presence felt|
Too late to be of assistance Muller's glider men broke into the church after dispatching the LDV troops to their front only to be met by another grenade attack from the Morris-men.
Enraged at this dastardly unsoldierlike behaviour the English folk dance group were gunned down to a man as the German troops sprayed the area with machine-gun fire.
|The E-boat lands a naval assault team on Walmington's Jolly Roger Pier and Pavillion|
Meanwhile the German beach assault was going nowhere fast as naval landing parties came under intense British machine-gun and small arms fire each time they attempted to move past the wire and gain access to the town.
|As German troops land on the beach they start to come under uncomfortably accurate small arms fire|
|The beach and wire is booby-trapped with improvised explosive devices which are unpredictable and extremely dangerous|
|The British naval troops are supported by their own improvised weapons systems|
|The Great Panjamdrum awaits arming by the 'boffins' based in the town and busy preparing the weapon outside the Tiffany's Cinema|
|JJ's participation in this epic battle amply recorded with a picture of the family business in years past|
|The viscious fanatical Morris-men dance troupe who were unmercifully hunted down by Lt Muller's glider troops after war-crimes committed in Walmington church. None lived to tell their tale.|
As the German situation became more desperate so did the measures they felt forced to take but the rivalry between their forces only helped to exacerbate their inability to cooperate.
So as Muller's German glider troops prepared to exit from the front of the church to close with the British PM's convoy of vehicles the PM's car was suddenly hit by fire from the off-shore German E-boat that only caused the column to evade down a street away from the glider-men and thus remove the possibility of snatching the great man and enabling a negotiated withdrawal.
|Under cover of smoke Muller's men dash across the square to occupy Walmington's St Aldholm's Church|
|The British regulars start to close in combat with Witzig's men. no quarter asked, none given|
The British forces were now pressing their attacks and finishing the fight with close up hand to hand, bayonet and grenade attacks.
|The streets become deadly as desperate German glider troops fight battles with ever-growing numbers of British reinforcements|
In no time Muller was dead and his platoon reduced to just one section holding the church and with Witzig's platoon desperately holding off British naval troops supported by mobile support guns.
The British regulars rushed the church after laying down heavy suppressive fire which despite the ensuing shock still left the glidermen the victors of the hand to hand fight when it came, with three casualties to two, but which only left one gliderman standing holding the machinegun.
Seeing the situation was hopeless and with his platoon leader dead and the rest of his comrades likewise or captured, he surrendered and the church was recaptured.
|The British secret weapons are deployed including the sheets on the washing line drawn across the beach front to obscure German gunnery|
Sensing the end of the battle the German E-boat and U-boat put down suppressive fire on the town with their heavy cannons as their naval troops gathered the wounded in preparation for a withdrawal.
With this the British Home Guard deployed their remaining secret weapon as bed sheets on washing lines were quickly hoisted behind the wire to obscure land targets from the German boats.
|The British vehicles enable them to reposition troops and weapons around the town once the attackers positions are known|
Thus our Battle for Walmington came to an end with German plans foiled and the country saved from invasion.
The rules used were another Lardy favourite in the club, 'Chain of Command' which were perfect for this kind of large scale game and played very well indeed.
As you might imagine it takes quite a bit of work pulling these kind of games together and Chaz and Clive did tremedous work on the terrain, buildings and vehicles that help capture Walmington on Sea and the battle.
Our game was, as always, very much a joint effort for all the players involved with all of us tasked with contributing units to the game and as with last year we like to run a friendly painting competition where all players get to vote on each others work for the award of the prestigious Summer Game Painting Trophy.
Last year's winner was Vince who brought along his offering for this year together with the trophy ready to defend his title.
I present the various units that were put in the competition with the final offering being this year's winner of a U-boat conning tower and crew modelled by Clive.
|JJ's FJ Platoon, I came a distant second|
|Clive's winning entry|
|Last year's winner Vince presents the trophy to the winner in 2018, Clive|
Our game was played all day Saturday with an evening meal to follow and much fun and laughter throughout the day.
Thanks to Chaz for herding the cats and creating yet another game to stand along all the others, many of which have been reported on here on JJ's.
|The team for Summer 2018, left to right - JJ, Nathan, Steve M, Chaz, Andy, Vince, John, Clive, Mike and Jason|
A good time was had by all and I look forward to bringing you a report of the next game in 2019.