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Stopped at Samtredia! Turks vs. Poles in Georgia (BoB Campaign)

Major General Stanisław Sosabowski's Polish Expeditionary Force was halted by Mark 'Pasha' Trowell at Samtredia Junction in Georgia earlier today.

Attacking with four infantry brigades, the Polish commander was aiming to link up with the Georgians and British at Kaspi, but was blocked by the wily Pasha's three brigades, dug in across the railway line, and forced to fight an unexpected battle.

In a game lasting barely three turns, my C-in-C was not present, and I was commanding Sosabowski's Polish and Ukrainian brigades, which were controlled by Alex (Ukrainian 15th brigade), Patrick (Polish 8th), and Trevor (Ukrainian 14th, Polish 9th), including two light guns and four MGs.

Mark was assisted by Doug and Theo, with three dug-in brigades, two light guns, an armoured car, and three MGs.

My thinking was that I could not decisively defeat Mark with only four brigades, but I declined his offer for me to disengage before the battle began. It was a wargame, after all... allegedly, as it turned out.

Polish plan

My plan was to use the oblique order (one flank heavily reinforced), and refuse my left flank to turn the Turkish left with Trevor's two brigades, while Patrick attacked beside Trevor's force, with Alex's Ukrainians screening Patrick's Poles. The two light guns, deployed either side of the wood, were to fire on the Turkish left.

The overall aim was to experiment with a frontal assault - the four brigades concentrated against one Turkish brigade, with the less proficient troops (the Ukrainian brigades) masking the Polish brigades until the latter stormed the trenches.

The reality of the game was rather different. Alex skillfully extricated himself from the Polish left flank, covering, from a wood to his front, two-thirds of his brigade as it counter-marched across the bridge to take up position ahead of Patrick.

However, his 15th brigade lost half its strength soon after it had finished deploying in the Polish centre.

Trevor advanced with his Ukrainians on our right, but his Polish brigade behind it (including a crack Polish Legionary unit) did not keep pace, despite my feeding everyone double orders.

Patrick's troops were taking casualties while awaiting Alex's men to get into position, and did not move up in time to make an impact, but did fire off a few artillery rounds.

As a result, for the loss of two Turkish casualties, the Polish Expeditionary Force had lost almost four Ukrainian units (mostly 4-3s).

After just three turns I therefore decided to abandon the attack. None of my (better quality) Polish troops had taken losses, which I successfully managed to ensure by deploying them behind the Ukrainians. A bridge too far for Sosabowski, then...

After the battle ended just before lunch, Rob suggested we replay the game. This time the two Polish brigades led the attack on the Polish left flank, and managed to roll-up the Turkish right flank by swiftly moving into place and firing both guns at the trench.

While this was a far better approach, it did leave a big gap between the two leading brigades and the two Ukrainian brigades in the centre and on the right. It showed the power of quality troops attacking rapidly on one flank, but it was not a plan I would have endorsed for this game of limited importance due to its riskiness and lack of meaningful operational (as opposed to tactical) results.

Having four brigades against three dug-in was not a good ratio to fight a battle not of one's choosing. Greater risks were not worth taking, as the result would not have allowed passage to Kaspi anyway. But the game was primarily an opportunity to test out ideas, which we certainly achieved.

Thanks to all who turned out for an interesting day's play: including Brian and Rob umpiring. Congratulations to the Pasha: an honourable man! A defeat for the Commonwealth, but three Turkish brigades diverted from Kaspi, some useful experience gained, and some troop upgrades on the way...

Lessons learned:

  • Advance quickly in cover if possible - e.g. in march columns

  • Play the game personally - especially the decisive attack

  • Troops in trenches are unlikely to leave them - so take a risk

  • Less capable troops either stand defensively or mask better troops as mincemeat

  • Stick to a simple plan (that's good)

Oh yeah: get MORE BRIGADES!!!



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