Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
BATTLE REPORT (PART 2)
TURN 6 CONTINUES --
So the guns got away (almost exactly as they did in the real battle), limbering up and galloping South down the center nullah and the plain until they reached the North edge of Mundabad Ravine...
A RED CARD is pulled, enabling the Bombay Grenadiers to FORM SQUARE within the narrow confines of the East Nullah. With only 14 men fit for duty, two faces of the square presented 4 men each and the other two presented 3 men each -- but if they had a few more men left, they wouldn't have been able to fit their square -- and its +2 in the probable melee -- inside the nullah. Their Subadar recovered from his wound, so he could retake command, freeing up Brigadier Burrows to withdraw with the guns towards Mundabad Ravine and the villages beyond, where he hoped to establish a strong defensive position from which he might have a chance at stopping the Afghan army which he now realized overwhelmingly outnumbered his own...
The Bombay Light Cavalry and Scinde Horse both CHARGE the Afghan Regular Cavalry to their front. There are 3 units of Afghan Regular Cavalry in the area but they are bunched up and mis-aligned and the Brits are able to single out 2 units and charge one apiece while the third Afghan Cavalry regt. is left out of the fighting. Though they may take casualties, success could mean clearing all the remaining enemy cavalry off the table (since all 4 units of Tribal Cav . have already been destroyed), which would be a significant achievement and would help strengthen the British left flank by erasing any threat from fast-moving cavalry.
The British Baggage Guard troops advanced in an effort to provide fire support to the now isolated Bombay Grenadiers...
FIRE PHASE --
All 3 British guns were limbered and galloping at full speed, leaving them unable to fire.
The Bombay Grenadiers loosed a volley at the Ghazis poised to close into combat with them, inflicting several casualties but likely not enough to make a significant difference when the melee came --
The Afghan guns did the same from long range, picking away at those British targets not screened by other Afghan troops --
The Afghan Regular Cavalry which had been charged by 3rd Bombay Lights and 3rd Scinde Horse loosed feeble volleys with their mounted carbines, inflicting little or no casualties whatsoever -- their trigger-fingers shaking with fear of what the Queen Empress's retainers atop their trusty steeds, were about to inflict upon them with the cold steel in their hands --
CLOSE INTO COMBAT PHASE --
-- which was not much, as both Indian Cavalry units, which needed to roll a 5 or 6 in order to NOT close into combat, did just that (again, very much as both units had done in the actual battle, where they failed to close into combat with the enemy when ordered to do so in an effort to stave off the threat to left flank of the British fighting line). So both units of Indian Cavalry turned around, fell back shaken and started to race for the Ravine, taking Brigadier Nutthall, the British cavalry commander, with them...
But such was not the case at the center nullah, where both Ghazi units, desperate for the chance to kill, cripple and maim for Allah and Ayub Khan, CLOSED INTO COMBAT. Luckily, the 1st Bombay Grenadiers showed themselves to be made of sterner stuff than their horse-riding brethren and rolled to STAND AND FIGHT against both charges.
-- The Grenadiers had a +2 for defending in square formation;
-- The Ghazis had a +1 for attacking from higher elevation (for the first round of figure-to-figure combat only);
...taken together this left a cumulative +1 for the British;
-- The Ghazis also WOULD WIN ALL TIES as their CHARGE BONUS;
...also, in accordance with our tradtional "Ghazi Rule" the Ghazis, if they lost a combat on a roll of "2" which left them wounded, would ROLL AGAIN: odd number and they would indeed fall wounded, EVEN NUMBER and they would take the wound in stride and FIGHT ON...
There were about 14 Grenadiers with one LEADER (their Subadar) Vs. 30-odd Ghazis with 3 leaders, including their HIGH COMMAND MULLAH, who lined up to strike the very first blow against the accursed Hindu idolators...
The British rolled a 6 -- +1 = 7. The Ghazi Mullah rolled... 1. THE FIRST HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT OF THE DAY RESULTED IN THE GHAZI MULLAH BEING KILLED!
A cheer went up from the thin ranks of the Bombay Grenadiers, it sounded something like this: "DIE GHAZI MULLAH!!!"
For a moment the British caught a glimpse of a glorious turn of events, despite the overwhelming odds, perhaps the strength of their square would cut through the attacking Ghazis like a futuristic Maxim gun and leave the Afghan attack blunted in the center, at least for another couple of turns, while the Grenadiers, after finishing up the rest of the Ghazis, could follow the rest of the Brigade across the Ravine and into the villages, which they could occupy in strength and use as cover against the accursed long range artillery of the Afghans...
Rolling melee dice recommenced... and alas, though the British did well and rolled their share of more 6's and 5's, the Afghans did well enough too. Each time a Ghazi fell wounded he shrugged off the bayonet stab as if it were a scratch and continued to fight. It took 3 rounds of melee dice for it to end but when it was over there were 3 surviving Bombay Grenadiers RETREATING SHAKEN chasing the guns down the nullah towards Mundabad Ravine, while the victorious Ghazis plus those who had fallen back during the melee, added up to some 8 or 9 survivors from a starting strength of more than 30.
It was a bloody fight and it marked the utter destruction of the first British unit of the day, representing 1/4 of the entire British infantry force.
The following turn, masses of Afghan Regular Infantry began to advance down the center of the plain and one 61-fig Tribal element advanced into the East Nullah, while the other 61-fig Tribal element advanced into the Western one and the remaining fresh 61-fig Ghazi element sliding South along the East table edge, skirting the edge of the East Nullah, heading for the Ravine where they could turn right, infiltrate the village of Khig and hit the British in their own Right Flank...
Meanwhile the British cavalry units retreated through the beaten zone of the Afghan artillery and were shot to pieces.
As he retreated his remaining 2 infantry units up the South face of Mundabad Ravine and began to organize his defense, Brigadier Burrows wondered why he hadn't woken his troops several hours earlier, left the slow-moving baggage train behind and marched as fast as humanly possible for the town of Maiwand early enough to have beaten Ayub Khan to the place, thereby avoiding the battle which was about to enter its final phase. But he hadn't, so now he had to establish a strong defensive perimeter, site his 3 remaining guns where they could inflict the most death and destruction upon the advancing enemy and make the Afghans pay for every step they took closer to his remaining forces. He had managed to retreat across the Ravine in good order, with the majority of his Brigade intact and his flanks and rear free of direct threats (none of which was the case when the real remnants of the real British army retreated across Mundabad Ravine on the Real Maiwand Day).
Would the British be able to hold on to the South side of the Ravine? Would they fight from atop the Southern edge or fall back into one or both villages and prepare for house-to-house fighting when the Afghans reached them? Would the Afghans even cross the ravine with their regulars or just send in waves of Ghazi and Tribal forces while their near endless supply of guns pounded away at the British, whether they were prone atop the ravine or hunkered down in the village(s)...?
TO BE CONTINUED (AGAIN!)