Battle of Britain campaign – 27th Aug – DAS SPIEL IST AUS. Codeword Cromwell – Operation Sealion commences

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Battle of Britain, RAF, wargames, West End Games
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German Dornier Do17 bombers roaming freely over English skies

German Dornier Do17 bombers can now roam freely over English skies

27th Aug AAR – Clear blue skies

Announcement – Message to all UK units: Codeword CROMWELL. Home Defence forces to highest degree of readiness. Invasion of mainland UK expected at any time.

The air battle entered the final stage today as the Luftwaffe concerned itself with destroying the last undamaged Naval dockyard where large British warships were gathered as their prelude to invasion.  Commencing at 0900 hrs, 85 Ju88 & Ju87’s approached Weymouth.  The RAF uncertain of the enemies intentions offered no resistance as most Sqns were in a critical state with a terminal lack of experienced pilots.  The docks received many direct hits as were a number of Royal Navy vessels.  One was sunk attempting to extricate itself from the harbour which left the harbour blocked to incoming and outgoing traffic. At 1400 a second wave of 60 bombers & 75 escorts  approached the docks but this time was met by 234 Sqn (one of our best units) and 213 Sqn. In a heroic deed of self sacrifice the 12 pilots of 234 Sqn attacked 75 Me109’s head on allowing 213 Sqns lesser experienced Hurricane pilots to engage the bombers.  Regrettably this resulted in the loss of one of our premier Sqns who attacking at odds of worse than 6:1 paid the ultimate price and effectively ceased to exist as an operational unit with 6 aircraft shot down.  Ace pilot and CO Sqn Ldr “Mindy” Blake led from the front and was amongst the first to perish. Although 213 Sqn did manage to down 8 of the enemy bombers the remainder caused great damage to the port again, this time achieving their intention of rendering it totally inoperable.
Aug 27 01Intelligence reports were later received that a great host of invasion barges heavily defended by Kriegsmarines were moving out of their French Harbour bases and into the Channel.  As the invasion force approached Cuckmere Haven in Sussex in the early evening, another large Luftwaffe raid was heading towards RAF Hornchurch to rule out any chance of British airborne resisitance to the landings. In a final act of defiance, 4 inexperienced and fatigued Sqns attempted to beat off the attack. 54 Sqn (half strength), 1 RCAF (Royal Canadian Air force replacements), 303 Polish Fighter Sqn (Polish replacements) &  65 Sqn inexperienced pilots converged on the enemy. The hopelessness of the overall situation allowed the pilots to attack with reckless abandon and at the end of the engagement 29 German aircraft had been downed equalling the heaviest casualties inflicted in a single raid on the Luftwaffe. However the Luftwaffe’s job of stopping Sqns attacking the landings was done and these losses were considered acceptable to their OKW High Command as the landings proceeded unmolested. 
During the night as the German juggernaut disembarked and formed beachheads, bombers ranged over the South East occupying the remnants of a once proud Royal Air Force while Ju52 transports towing gliders roamed unopposed and began to land their lethal cargo of Falschirmjagers behind allied lines.
This is the final report of this campaign until God willing the British ground forces succeed where the air force failed. God Save the King.
End of day losses
RAF 8, Luftwaffe 37
RAF = 18% of daily force committed (Daytime only)

LW  = 7% of daily force committed (Daytime only)

(Cumulative RAF 177, Luftwaffe 358)

Victory point score -6 (Cumulative -36) – DECISIVE GERMAN VICTORY, GERMANY INVADES

Game NotesSo in the end the inevitable occurred.  Starting the day still in the minus 30’s as I had been for the previous 5 days I knew that one really devastating raid could end the game.  And that’s exactly what happened. First a large force that I had no hope of damaging arrived at Weymouth to cause that heavy damage and the loss of 3 VP’s, then a second successive raid on the same target. I had a fair chance of at least heavily damaging the bombers even destroying one if the dice gods favour didn’t desert me. I should have known better. These fickle deities have never actually helped most of the entire game and when they did they immediately dumped on my good fortune just like Brighton & Hove Albions hobby of crapping in the away changing rooms (look it up). Losing one of my most successful Sqns against the fighters just about summed up the entire game and that followed by another 2 points of bomb damage took my score below the minus 35 automatic defeat mark.  That left me with no choice but to attack everything the next raids presented no matter what and hope against hope of destroying at least 2 enemy gruppen.  Only a single raid followed for the day adding to the pressure but that raid presented just such an opportunity, 3 He111 gruppen with just a couple of 109’s and a 110 close escort.  Having a modest RDF detection roll allowed me to put up 3 full strength and 1 fatigued Sqn and things began well when I managed to lightly damage the 109’s and get through to the bombers with my entire force intact.  A roll of 5 on the dice would eliminate 3 gruppen and give me a whopping 6 VP’s. Everything else would result in failure. I rolled appropriately a 1 and the rest is history.

So another royal thrashing, what went wrong? EVERYTHING! The good weather, the unlucky dice rolls, the reinforcements being brought in at the wrong time, not bringing in enough reinforcements early on,  the 3 continual German relief cards, using and losing fatigued units, using Blenheims for daylight defence, the blank reshuffle deck card variant rules, the unbelievably disastrous RDF detection rolls, etc etc etc?  Probably a combination of all of the above.  I know the dice gods despise me with this game but certainly don’t remember so many pi$$ poor RDF rolls.  Chances to destroy enemy units were so few and far between that my chances of picking up points rested pretty much with the end of day ones that inevitably were diluted from accurate night bombing.  In the last game I played that ended a draw I destroyed 73 German gruppen for none of my own compared to this game of 6 destroyed for the loss of 4 of my own.  Even on my previous games where I have been defeated I have achieved a better ratio every time than that. The risk of using the Blenheim and the fatigued Sqns was a definite mistake with hindsight and one I’m still kicking myself about but that shouldn’t have been so decisive.  So in the end its just one of those things I guess. A very difficult game from the off nothing much went right and not the most satisfying game as even when I was with my back to the wall I never really had any decent heroic minor victories to shout about. But such is the appeal of this game that despite being roundly and utterly trounced, I’m going to set it up all over again and start anther attempt.  No AAR blogs or actual weather rolls this time, that’ll have to wait until next year or until Codeword Cromwell is published at which point I can see what happened to the invasion.  Until we meet again, Per ardua Astra

  1. Peter says:

    Sorry to hear that the game is already over. Let’s hope the germans will be pusghed back into the sea soon. I really enjoyed reading your blog during the past weeks.

    Although it must have seemed like la long struggle against defeat to you, it was a really interesting report for your readers. Standing at the brink of destruction for more than a week made an exciting game (RAF went straight to my wishlist at BGG).

    Are these detailed statistics for each squadron and pilot part of the original game or is that an addition made by your own?

    • simonsmrt says:

      Thanks for following Peter, a catastrophic defeat but its what makes the game such a challenge. So much so, I’m playing it again and have destroyed 8 gruppen for 1 sqn in the first week and my score is almost the same as before. The stats are of my own making using my own variant rules based on gruppe/sqn unit composition verses the damage results rolled. The pilots are all authentic, researched from “Rolls of Honour” and where possible added photo’s of the real guys. I just added kills to their name if their Sqn had done well or killed them off if it did badly purely for narrative purposes and to make into a story, same for the newspaper articles. I also used my own variant rules to add the chrome of minor units/aircraft as these are the ones I know least about but am most interested in now having grown up with Spitfires and Me109’s all my life. He59 and Fairey Fulmar 2 prominent ones this time. I have written a whole set of variant rules for minor aircraft that seem to work quite well (although I still haven’t had the opportunity to include them all yet e.g. the Italian CAI). None have unbalanced the game. The original game is long out of print. I bought my copy about 10 years ago second hand but only played it last year for the first time and haven’t stopped since. If you like solitaire games you should be okay, Sure it has some flaws and isn’t to everyone’s tastes (see BGG) but its so damn hard that despite humiliating defeats you always come back for more. The good news is that it was reissued a few years ago and you now get 3 games for the price of one. The original version I think has been extensively reworked and sadly does away with 247 Sqns Gloster Gladiators. But also a solitaire version where you get to play the Luftwaffe as well as a 2 player game and new board & counter artwork etc. I am completely happy with the original so wont be getting it but the BGG community seem to think its the way to go. If you can let your imagination run wild and believe that a 1cm sq cardboard counter has a life of its own and that your actions will ultimately control that piece of cards destiny and the life and death of its long gone but not forgotten pilots then you are on the right track……
      I’m now anxiously waiting for Codeword Cromwell (a promising looking solitaire game) to be published so that I can continue the events of this year.
      Cheers again

  2. davesilverthorne says:

    Unlucky. It was fun while it lasted! What’s the next online game to follow?

    • simonsmrt says:

      Time for a break from every day game reports, really enjoyed it but I got too immersed in it poring over old books and researching individual pilots and photographing old newspaper clips etc. I actually got upset when some of these long gone pilots got shot down as I felt I had almost developed an imaginary connection with and responsibility for them. Times like that when you need to step back or risk losing yourself in a Walter Mitty world of nonsense and insanity. But I loved it nonetheless and cant wait to try again next year.
      So after a break to recharge it’ll be back to Formula de, 1951 and Silverstone. Fangio leads Ascari by 2 points. Alfa Romeo verses Ferrari, the British marques still lagging far far behind. Then take your pick from the 3rd Crusade, The Wars of the Roses, The first World War, Lawrence of Arabia, the Spanish Civil War VIVA FRANCO! Arnhem or the Russian Front. Unless that Codeword Cromwell is released in short time

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