"Overcast... Good!" said sargento García, the young communist who have raised in a just a few months from clerk in a colmado (food store) of Tetuán to tank commander. "No bloody fascist planes". While he was brewing his ersatz coffee daily ration, a sudden rush of activity around indicated that something was going on, down the Parque del Oeste and probably across the Manzanares. The voice of the capitán shouting left no doubt: "¡A los tanques! ... ¡Arrancar los motores!" (to the tanks, turn on the engines)
This is the battle report of the third game of our Bloody November-Madrid 1936 campaign for Chain of Command, set in the context of the Spanish Civil War. You can find all the necessary details to play in a previous post of the blog.
Puente de los Franceses
This third game is based on the Scenario 3-Attack & Defend of the Chain of Command main rules book. To win this scenario, one side must force the other to leave the table, either voluntarily or due to a reduction in its force moral.
In the past two games, the Nationalists had fought their way across the Casa de Campo and arrived to the wall separating this major natural space west of Madrid from the city. The only obstacle now is the Manzanares a so-called "river", much despised by the madrileños due to its short width and hardly more dangerous than a children's swimming pool.
However, tactically it was an important natural barrier to cross as the banks fell steeply on both sides offering no cover to anyone trying to pass while the muddy river bed neither allow for a quick crossing.
The main Republican defences were established at the eastern bank of the river and covering the key crossing points at the Puente Nuevo (motor traffic bridge) and Puente de los Franceses (rail bridge). Historically, the attack failed at this point when the Republican engineers blow Puente Nuevo, forcing the attackers and their support tanks to attempt crossing the river bed, resulting in high casualties of the infantry and the armour bogging down in the muddy soil.
Turning now to our game, the last scenario saw a battle of attrition between a Tabor de Regulares and the 5º Regimiento units. As Republican commander I had no alternative but to call the reserves and deploy the International German column Batallón Edgard André. As in the previous games, we played two parallel games in two independent tables, the second been fought by the anarchist Columna Libertad, led by Durruti. No player would be allowed to cross the boundaries of the table except by using 2 Chain of Command dice.
The photo shows the gaming table this morning, with the river Manzanares and the Casa de Campo wall indicating the deployment area of the Nationalists forces. As expected, the opposing players had also to call the reserve platoon (a Tercio de la Legión column) after the losses suffered in the previous week's game. Therefore we had great expectations, as the two elite units of both sides were to be face to face for the first time since we started playing with Chain of Command España.
No patrol phase this time, the jump-off points (three each side) were directly placed behind the Casa de Campo wall and the top of the hill overlooking the Manzanares by the Nationalists and the Republicans respectively.
Given that my unit was pulled to the reserve, I played Hemingway the war reporter (spending most of the day at the Chicote cocktail bar in Gran Vía) attached to the Internationals. The first Nationalists activation saw the wall being blown and two cautious Panzer I of the Bandera Legionaria de Carros cross the debris and took positions just at the edge of the river.
|Panzers in dem Manzanares|
With no initial reaction of the Republicans, the first infantry Legionarios were deployed under cover behind the wall. The Nationalists chose as support a pregame barrage (interdicting artillery fire), difficulting the arrival of the Republicans to the table; unluckily, an early triple "6s" by the Nationalists meant end of the turn and also of the artillery fire.
After rolling for two consecutive turns, the Republican player put in play his first asset: a Russian supplied T-26 tank, a real nightmare for the flimsy German tanks. A direct hit on one of the Panzer Is knocked out one tank and forced the other to abandon such an exposed position and to recross the wall back.
Time now to attempt the assault with the infantry: bugles blown, flags deployed and the Legionarios terrible cry of "¡Viva la Muerte!" (Long live Death!) chill-spinning the Internacionales posted in the trenches at the other side...
|¡Viva la Muerte!|
|Asaltos to the rescue!|
"¡Durruti! ¡Durruti!" The hero of the People emerged and the Nationalists forces caught between the hammer and the anvil had no alternative but to make a hasty retreat.
|Durruti, hero of Madrid|
Incidentally, a fairly crowded club this morning. My attention was attracted by this highly populated table testing a new set of medieval rules called Deus Vult. Being a vey much WAB disappointed player I'm in my quest for the holy grail of the Acients/Medieval period... one to watch looking into 2015?