Saturday, 12 August 2017

Berlin to the Baltic Part 1. The Cold War.

We recently went on holiday to Germany and cycled from Berlin to the Baltic via Poland, with some interesting historical encounters along the way.

The Berlin TV tower, the DDRs brash statement of supremacy over West Berlin.

Some of the fabulous exhibits in the DDR museum, including the interactive East German flat, the contents of the NVA recruits locker and the Warsaw Pact plan for the invasion of West Berlin. The flat experience was hilarious, with broken lifts and animated views of the socialist utopia outside.

The monument to freedom in Stettin, which commemorates the 1970 uprising against the Polish government. I'd never even heard of this before, but it involved an attempt to storm the ex-Gestapo HQ just across the road, which became the Polish police HQ after the war.

A rather beaten up ex Soviet sub moored in Peenemunde harbour. It was badged up as a 'U Boat, so I was rather expecting a WW2 era one, but I suppose they are all U-Boats..

A Trabant still in use in Stralsund, rather than the tourist ones in Berlin.

This rather fine sail training ship was sunk in WW2, but raised by the Russians and taken as a reparation. It ended up stranded in Newcastle after the collapse of the USSR and eventually made its way back to Germany and is now moored in Stralsund.

The Russians left a souvenir on the forward deck.

Various bits of the Berlin Wall that are still left.

Reproduction of Checkpoint Charlie.

 Entering and leaving the 'Democratic Sector' at Nordbanhof.

A rather more cheery bit of the wall at the East Side gallery.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


I have slowly been accumulating early war western front stuff in 15mm in the last decade, the last major outing was 10th Panzer Divs adventures outside Calais a good few years ago now. I fancied putting on something light to pass the time before COW, and came across a reasonably decent Memoir 44 scenario for Arras. It was a bit bland so I tarted it up with some extra unit types and reworked the OB so it was a bit more historical.

7th Schutzen Regiment, I/7th Panzer Regiment and the divisional artillery and Flak battalion all lined up. Those naughty boys of SS Totenkopf just visible in the foreground.

4th RTR and 6th DLI nearest the camera, 7th RTR, 8th DLI and 96 Field Regiment in the distance.

General overview. Arras is off the top left edge. John and Jerry took the Germans for this game, Tim and Graeme the British. Along with their numerical superiority, the Germans also get six command command cards to four for the British. Oh dear! The British however have Matildas....

Action opened on the right as 7th RTR and 8 DLI faced off against Totenkopf.

7th Panzer rolled into action in the centre as waves of infantry and guns pushed forwards (the infantry very wisely hiding in any available cover).  A couple of companies of Pz 38s roared forwards.

The British responded with squadrons of Matilda 1s supported by infantry and 2pdrs. One squadron of Matildas gave the SS a nasty fright.

A tank battle raged in the centre of the table, the Panzers coming off worse in the encounter.

A squadron of French Curtis Hawks (thanks for the model Tim!) turned up to add insult to injury.

The Matildas then charged the German gun line, and although the SS artillery battalion was overrun, the tanks finally succumbed to concentrated gunfire.

The British followed up with another push on the right. The Hand of God is seen here manouvering another squadron of Matildas.

The British then played their ace card, 'armoured assault' and all the remaining British armour surged forwards. Hiding in the woods didn't do these SS chaps any good and they were overrun.

Over on the left, the Matildas faced off against more Pz 38ts and infantry from 7th Panzer Div.

Which ended in a  bit of a standoff as the British were heavily outnumbered and outgunned.

Over on the right though, despite inflicting some damage, the last of SS Totenkopf were overrun and destroyed at which point the British had obtained enough medals to claim a victory.

I was very pleased with how this went, and somewhat amazed that despite the limitations of the Memoir 44 engine, there was actually a vague resemblance to the historical course of events. A particularly glorious moment was the Matildas charging the German gun line, and it was very pleasing to see the SS vanish under the tracks of the mighty Royal Tank Regiment. I was a bit surprised the Brits pulled it off given their command and numerical disadvantage, but they managed to 'get there fastest with the mostest' more frequently then the Germans. 

The variant rules seem to work well enough, and I think I just need to focus on scenarios with an interesting mix of troop types to keep it fresh. One thing I'd like to introduce are HQ/Leader type units as they work very well in all the other Command and Colours rules, but I need to figure out how to do it without having to redo the Memoir 44 card deck. Well, it is always good to have a project.