Sunday, 3 May 2009

Battle of Madrid: First Day, 08 November 1938

I managed to get along to the club on Thursday to play some Spanish Civil War in 15mm using the Triumph of the Will rules. Bronze produced his superbly painted Peter Pig figures, including some nice Falange conversions, and we set up the table for the first day of the Battle of Madrid.

Playing to type I elected to fight on the Nationalist side under the command of Eric the Spy. We were playing across the table with our objective being the capture of one of the three bridges over the River Manzanares, one bridge at each end of the table and the third in the centre. We were attacking across the Casa de Campo, an old royal hunting park, which was lightly wooded. Accordingly to our intelligence Republican resistance was expected to be light, something we took with a heavy pinch of salt!

Our plan was to advance two battalions through the Casa de Campo towards the central bridge with the main thrust with the main force of infantry, artillery and tanks aimed at the northern bridge. Our aim was for the central force to pin down any Republican forces defending the central bridge and delay any reinforcements that they could redeploy from either their or the southern bridge towards our main point of attack.

As it turned out the intelligence had somewhat underestimated the Republican forces and all three bridges were defended with troops heavily dug in at the central bridge.

The Santiago de Compostela Carlist Requete leading the central assault took heavy casualties from the Republicans but managed to keep their attention. The Juventud Cristiana Falange battalion reinforcing them also came under fire, both from the same source and from troops they tried to redeploy from the southern end once our plan became clear.

We began our assault on the northern bridge with the Avila and Sevilla Peninsular Army infantry battalions followed up by the 1st Foreign Legion bandera and an artillery battery. The third wave consisted of the 2nd and 3rd Tabors of Tetuan Moroccan regulares, the Condor Legion tanks and a second artillery battery. The Avila battalion ran into heavy fire from Crazy Dave and his anarchists, who were defending the bridge, and suffered some serious casualties. The Sevilla battalion was slightly behind having to advance through part of the Casa de Campo. But with the help of the Legion in the second wave we managed to inflict some serious damage to Dave and resistance on our side of the river in front of the bridge began to fade. We were still taking fire from the forces dug in defending the central bridge and from the other side of the river though. However, once the tanks got into action their machine gun fire was pretty devastating.

In the end we managed to clear the anarchist resistance and Peter advanced the Moroccans across the bridge for a Nationalist victory.

In the post battle analysis it became clear that the Republicans only had a poorly rated CinC which really hampered their ability to change orders from hold to a more aggressive posture and hence to redeploy them. Had they been able to we would have been in for an even stiffer fight. As it was we had sustained some serious casualties.

There was some debate as to the effectiveness of the PzIs which, with their twin MGs, were a potent fire platform especially as I was using all three together. The big weakness with armour is usually in close assault but with the Republicans being cut down before getting to that point they became a very effective tool.

Our plan had been influenced by my experience from having used the rules before for Russian Civil War where concentrating your forces and using wave attacks had been most effective. I was a little concerned as to whether this was entirely appropriate for SCW but Bronze outlined that, in the original battle, it was the tactics which had been used on the second day after the Nationalists had been defeated on the first because they had spread their forces too thinly.

All in all a fun game.

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