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.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

KANDAHAR +140 AAR - Includes the THRILL-PACKED CONCLUSION & RESULTS...

BEFORE MOVING ONTO PART 3 OF THE GAME AND THE FINAL RESULTS OF THE BATTLE, I AM POSTING NEWLY UNEARTHED "STRATEGY" DOCUMENTS DISCOVERED IN AYUB KHAN'S HQ , OUTLINING HIS BATTLE PLAN BEFORE THE ACTION BEGAN, AS WELL AS A SIMILAR DOCUMENT FROM THE HEADQUARTERS OF GENERAL ROBERTS...


FROM AYUB KHAN:
                   Initial Deployment and Overall Strategy
No Afghan units will be placed on the east side of the ridges due to possibly being spotted and consequently fired upon by British Guns (especially the 40 pounder). Also it is hoped that we can neutralize some British forces by having them focus on possible attacks from non-existing hidden warriors on the east side of the ridge. These British units will have to remain in place to protect the rear of their troops advancing eastward through the passes. We will not defend the villages of Gundigan or Gundimullah Sahibdad as combined British artillery and infantry attacks would soon oerwhelm them and we would have needlessly wasted manpower. Due to the sheer weight and power of the British forces we will view this a defensive battle with a goal to inflicting as much damage as possible and eventually retreating from the field with as much of our army intact as possible. Ghazi units will be martyred in surprise attacks designed to harass the enemy and slow them down a bit. Hopefully the British will divide their forces and be confined to coming over the narrow and constricted Mirza Pass and Baba Wali Pass as well as a southern attack point. We will create as many defensive strong points as possible west of the ridge and passes. We hope to set up an ambush at the Baba Wali Pass as the Brits are entering. We want to conceal out hidden tribal units there as long as possible. The top of the Kharoti hill looks to be a good spot for artillery as it has good visibility in many directions.

FROM GENERAL FREDERICK ROBERTS:


AYUB KHAN'S INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS SIRDARS DURING THE FIRST LULL IN THE FIGHTING...

                     Battle Plan After Completion of Turn 3

On Sun, Aug 16, 2020 at 11:54 AM wrote:
Samoud and Ahmad- I have attached a map of how I think the battlefield deployment stands after the first three rounds. It is obvious to me that we will soon lose the ground at the southern end of the map. However, killing General McGregor down there and the routing of a Gurkha regiment by Samoud Khan's dug in tribal infantry was significant. The Brits have divided their forces into a three-pronged attack. Even with their superior fire power, we can outnumber them if accept the fact that we have lost the southern battle and must now move our forces north to take on the Brits at the Baba Wali and Mirza Passes.  It is also our path to save the bulk of the army and retreat through the Ford F-3 or the road just north of Village G-5. Based on that, below is a bulletpoint of how I think we should proceed from this point onwards. Any comments are welcome.

1.   1.Any units with their number circled shall remain in place for now.
2.           a) Samoud Khan's dug in tribal infantry B2 and B3 shall hold in place with the purpose of martyring themselves in a effort to slow down the southern British advance.
3.           b) The Senior Commander B should move within command distance of B1.
4.           c) Hopefully B1 will survive it's rally test and move northward. If it fails rally, it is off the table and lost as a fighting unit.
5.           d) I think there are only two men left of tribal cavalry C-5 and they should remain in place to slow down British advance,
6.           e) Ahmad Abdali's Ghazi Units D1, D2 and D3 remain in place to spring a surprise attack. Depending on British movement D1 may take to the hills and move along the west side to surprise attack British coming through or exiting the Baba Wali Pass.
7.           f) B5 remains in place
8.           g) Artillery E5 remains in place to pester and slow down the southern advance, Could also move and change facing to fire at Baba Wali pass if necessary.
9.           h) Tribal Infantry C1 and C2 remain hidden in place until an opportune time comes to fire or charge the British Units crossing the Baba Wali Pass. The longer we can keep them hidden the better.
10.          
11.  2. A4 artillery limbers to move closer to British Units at Mirza Pass
12.  3, Infantry  A1 and A2 leave villages and head north 
13.  4. Artillery Unit Moves off of Kharoti hill to a position where they can shoot straight across the Baba Wali Pass.
14.  5. Ayub Khan and Infantry E2 move off of Kharoti Hill preparing to collect the prisoner Lieutenant Hector Maclaine  from the camp and move northwards.
15.  6, Hidden Tribal Units D4 and D5 move northward along western face of ridges. I may have missed a few things here.

The basic idea is to take advantage of the British divided forces using the following overall strategy:

Slow advance of British in the south with artillery E5 and dug in tribal units. This delay tactic should also be helped in a little by the loss of their Senior Commander General McGregor.

Surprise attacks from hidden Ghazi units to slow Brits down and inflict casualties.

Strongly resist the British brigade at Baba Wali using surprise attacks of Tribal infantry C1 and C2 on the rocky ridges overlooking the pass and artillery E4  supported by regular cavalry A3 and possible artillery E5.

Strongly resist and hopefully destroy the 4 regiment strong British Brigade at the Mirza Pass.

Keep in mind that we are trying to save as much of our army as possible as we head north to exit to the northwest of village G-5.  Killing as many British infidels as possible will not bode well for them in the press back in Blighty.

Sincerely Ayub Khan, DEFENDER OF THE FAITHFUL & TRUE AMIR OF AFGHANISTAN



(The awesome photo above reminds me of  some c.19th battle paintings; it was posed after the end of the game and shows the 72nd Highlanders on the Southern heights of Baba Wali Pass while the 3rd Bengal Lancers (Skinner's Horse) charge through the Pass at the Afghan regular guns.  In fact, the 72nd were NOT there during the charge, but were still outside the East end of the Pass, waiting to enter.)


(The photo above shows the situation at the very end of the game - TURN 9 - with the 40-pdr Elephant Gun having entered the Pass, 3rd Sikhs visible "crowning the heights" on the far side, the red turbans of 2nd Sikhs visible through the smoke at the Western mouth of the Pass, 72nd Highlanders on the near/Southern heights, and finally the front edge of the 9th Lancers visible just entering the Eastern end of the Pass.)


***NOW PICKING UP THE BATTLE NARRATIVE WITH THE SITUATION AT THE END OF TURN 5...

BRITISH SITREP END OF TURN 5:

On the British LEFT FLANK the 3rd Brigade advance continues in stops and starts due to prior death of CO but by end of TURN 5 they have forced 1 Tribal Foot to retreat from entrenched position in canal and 2 Tribal Horse to retreat prior to completing their charges, so 3 Afghan units scrubbed.

In the British CENTER the 3rd Bengal Lancers are eliminated by multiple enemy fires – including Afghan bonus fire – just before closing into combat with Afghan gun at West end of Baba Wali Pass.  In midst of the Pass the 5th Gurkhas have one wing facing North and one wing facing South, in dual firefights with Tribal Foot occupying the adjacent heights, while at the East end of the Pass 3 Inf Battalions and the 9th Lancers are waiting to advance and the 40-pdr Heavy Field Gun has deployed so it can fire next turn if the Tribal Foot are still in place on the heights North of the pass.

On the British RIGHT FLANK both 2nd Gurkhas and 24th Punjabis have crossed Marza Pass, routed one Afghan Reg. Cav. Unit off the table, and forced Afghan Reg Inf unit to redeploy into Marza Village.  Brits taking fire from Art. Battery down the road to South, near the Afghan Camp & Baba Wali Pass.

AFGHAN SITREP END OF TURN 5:

IN THE CENTER AFGHANS redeployed battery of guns down off Kharoti Hill, to block the West end of Baba Wali Pass.  Only one gun was able to reach flat ground in time to fire at the Bengal Lancers.  The  Lancers charged that Gun BUT were hit by FIRE from 2 units of Tribal Ambushers +2 units Reg. Inf + the gun itself en route to closing.  On top of that they were finally hit by Afghan BONUS FIRE card assigned to Afghan Gun & Reg Inf Brigade, which WIPED OUT the Lancers before they could attempt to close & melee with the gun.  But 5th Gurkhas remain in the midst of Baba Wali Pass facing off with Tribal Foot, who are taking hits by fire from multiple British units at East end of the Pass.

ON AFGHAN RIGHT one unit of Tribal Foot forced to retreat by Central India Horse charge, and 2 Tribal Cav units forced to retreat when they failed to close with 60th Rifles who they charged on the road; another Tribal Horse unit reduced to 3 figures and forced to retreat after failed morale check.  But Reg. Inf. still occupy Pir Paimal Village and the British advance is still hampered by lack of Command for 3rd Brigade, plus more hidden ambushes may await the British in the small gorge between Kharoti Hill and the West side of the rocky ridge, beyond Pir Paimal Village.

3 x Tribal Horse units RETREATING after failing to close; 1 x Tribal Foot unit ROUTED off table; 1 x unit Tribal Foot remains ENTRENCHED in drained Canal ; 1 x Tribal Horse reduced to 5 effectives; Reg Inf unit defending Pir Paimal Village reduced to 17 effectives.

ON AFGHAN LEFT Reg Cav unit holds position West of canal bridge; Reg Inf unit defending Marza Village is leaderless & reduced to 9 effectives (below 50% strength); 2nd Reg Cav unit ROUTED off table after suffering heavy casualties by fire from 2nd Gurkhas & 23rd Sikhs; 2-gun battery Reg Artillery has turned around on road, moved over other canal bridge and FIRED on approaching British forces, but has suffered 2 casualties from long range rifle fire by 24th Punjabs.

Here's a look at a couple of KEY PIECES OF EQUIPMENT for this REMOTE GAME -- the iPhone camera stands used by the British & Afghan GMs to shoot CLOSE-UP POV VIDEO for their respective teams of players:



PICKING UP THE ACTION ON TURNS 6 TO 9...

ON AFGHAN RIGHT/BRITISH LEFT/SOUTH














Afghan Reg Inf. in Pir Paimal Village decimated by combined British Inf & Mt. Gun fire, while British attackers take punishing fire from 2 Afghan Field Guns atop Kharoti Hill; British C-in-C GNL Roberts arrives & puts the Brigade back "In Command," reactivating their reliable advance;
TURN 9 British able to bring up 3 Mt. Guns and open counter-battery fire on the entrenched CLASS IV Afghan Guns, take out 1.5 of the 2 crews, clearing the way North.

60th Rifles down to 6 effectives; 25th Punjabs down to 9 effectives; together they occupy Pir Paimal Village;

Central India Horse & 3rd Punjab Cav (each just below half-strength at 5 effectives) ford river and head North;

ON TURN 9 Hidden Ghazi unit sighted in crop fields just North of Pir Paimal Village.

IN THE CENTER/BABA WALI PASS





















Long hard slog. 5th Gurkhas won melee on their right (Last man standing GURKHA victor eligible for Victoria Cross) but lost melee on their left. Both Tribal units destroyed; GNL BAKER ORDER ADVANCE ACROSS THE LINE - 72nd Highlanders entered the ROCKY RIDGE (1D -1” movement) on left, 3rd Sikhs on right, as 2nd Sikhs advanced straight through the pass, followed by the 40-pdr pulled by Elephants & then 9th Lancers; 6/8 RA screw gun battery trailing behind, dispatched from 1st Brigade to join 2nd Brigade; Brits get first fire card and open up on the 2 Afghan guns holding the West end of the Pass, 72nd Highlanders, 2nd Sikhs, and 3rd Sikhs COMBINED FIREPOWER wipes out both gun crews. Cheer goes up in the pass from British ranks – that may be the turning point. 

Hidden Ghazi unit emerges from behind Kharoti Hill & heads for Ford F-3 to block approaching 3rd Brigade Cav under Gnl. Gough.

ON AFGHAN LEFT/BRITISH RIGHT/NORTH

Another tough fight. 2nd Gurkhas in the lead, taking hits from Reg. Art. Down road to South; melee with Ghazis D3, defeats them – last man standing (5 had fallen back) victorious Rifleman eligible for Victoria Cross; 24th Punjabs decimated by Artillery fire from down the road, then fail critical morale check, but lone survivor passes RALLY test; 23rdSikhs also wrecked by combo of artillery fire, Afghan reg inf fire (and possibly melee?) only 4 effectives left; 92ndHighlanders intact, follow 6 Gurkhas and 4 x 23rd Sikhs into MARZA VILLAGE on BONUS MOVE CARD, occupy CLASS IV target with 20 Highlanders, 6 Gurkhas, 4 Sikhs & Gnl. MacGregor (31 total defenders); facing 1 x Reg Cav, 1 x Tribal Foot; 2 x Reg. Inf & those 2 Field Guns down the road (intermittently screened by advancing Afghan troops).











BY END OF TURN 9...

Brits have truly turned the corner in the SOUTH, taken Pir Paimal Village, are heading North on both sides of River, decimating the Reg Art guns on Kharoti Hill.

In the CENTER the British have annihilated the guns holding Western end of Baba Wali Pass and reached the Western end of the Pass.

In the NORTH their reduced force (3rd Brigade) have managed to slip inside Marza Village & hunker down, where they will be a CLASS IV TARGET for shooters and a strong bonus for defense in case of melee assault.

In all 3 sectors of the field the British have advanced, swept enemy forces holding key terrain features away and taken possession of those features -- Pir Paimal Village in South, Baba Wali Pass in Center, Marza Pass & Marza Village in North).

GAME RESULT: BRITISH VICTORY

A close run game but due to tremendous number of casualties inflicted on Afghan forces a definite British victory (more than 50% as required by the scenario's British Objective).  British casualties were severe but nothing compared to those suffered by the Afghans.

CASUALTIES:

Afghan army of 434 suffered total of 284 KIA + WIA (includes approx. 50 Routed)

British army of 322 suffered total of 153 KIA + WIA (includes approx. 10 Routed)

•   •   •    •

FATE OF LT. HECTOR MacLAINE

Hector MacLaine rules:

3 guard figures:

         1.      Infantry sentry   (NEUTRAL GM – Ethan roll)
         2.      cavalry officer   (FRIENDLY GM – Skylar roll)
         3.      Ghazi mullah     (HOSTILE GM  – Matthew roll)

3 GMs D20 roll-off; high roll uses appropriate chart below & rolls D6 for the prisoner’s fate:

1.         Cavalry Officer (friendly): 1-3 escapes unharmed; 4-5 escapes w/wound; 6 taken as hostage

2.         Infantry Sentry (neutral): 1 ESCAPES UNHARMED; 2-3 escapes w/wound; 4-5 taken as hostage; 6 KILLED TRYING TO ESCAPE

         3.      Ghazi (hostile): 1 escapes w/wound; 2-3 taken away as hostage; 4-6 KILLED TRYING TO ESCAPE

Every British Brigade within 12” at time of roll = -1 to roll BUT a natural “6” will still earn worst case result on the chart being used.

ROLLS:

SKYLAR   (Friendly) roll:   7 
ETHAN      (Neutral) roll: 16
MATTHEW (Hostile) roll: 17

Matthew's HOSTILE D6 ROLL:  2 ... -1 (because 5th Gurkhas are within 12" just North of Baba Wali Pass) = 1

1 = "Escapes w/wound"

RHA Lt. Hector MacLaine was attacked by the hostile Ghazi but despite being wounded manages to escape to the approaching British 2nd Brigade advancing through Baba Wali Pass – his escape was just barely made possible by 2nd Brigade troops being within 12” when we diced for his fate, bestowing a vital “-1” to the result!

In fact only one single soldier of the 5th Gurkhas was within 12” at the Northern edge of 2nd Brigade’s advance.  He was THE SAME GURKHA WHO WAS LAST MAN STILL ENGAGED & WON THE MELEE WITH THE TRIBAL FOOT AMBUSHERS ON NORTH SIDE OF BABA WALI PASS.  He is definitely eligible for VC -- though in his case if awarded it will be the INDIAN ORDER OF MERIT.  I may give him a +1 to his chances due to his repeated heroism and having been key to the rescue of Hector MacLaine.

Ayub Khan's  supply dump visible at the North edge of the
main Afghan Army Camp and prisoner Hector MacLaine...










•   •   •    •

Terrible cost in British officers KIA & WIA, but also a terrible cost in Afghan casualties across the board.

AFGHAN HIGH POINTS (per their GM:

1.     killing Gnl. MacGregor and defeating the Gurkhas in melee! (Turn 2 – middle of Day 1 of game).
2.     Wiping out 3rd Bengal Lancers (Skinner’s Horse) when they charged the guns through Baba Wali Pass (Turn 5 – end of Day 2 of Game)

AFGHAN LOW POINTS (per their GM):

1.     Screw guns deploying in Gundigan, beaten zone covered Tribal Cav, decimated them.
2.     Reg. Cav. shot to pieces by 2nd Gurkhas at North end of table.
3.     Tribal Horse failing to close with CIH charged in rear!
4.     Late in game Ghazis discovered just outside Pir Paimal failing their “in command” roll, unable to charge Brit Cav in Ford F-2 crossing river – if they'd been able to move the 3rd Punjab Cavalry would have suffered -3 modifiers for being attacked in water and from the rear.

BRITISH HIGH POINTS (per their GM): 

Just one: taking out the Afghan Gun Crews on Kharoti Hill and at West end of Baba Wali Pass on turn 9!

BRITISH LOW POINTS (per their GM):

Just one: Attaching Gnl. MacGregor, Mtd. Ldr. of 3rd Brigade to the 4th Gurkhas before they CHARGED the Tribal Foot entrenched in the drained canal at South end of table. He was KIA from fire, then the Gurkhas lost the melee and survivors failed to rally and routed off table.  All on Turn 3.  Resulted in terrible logjam for British 3rd Brigade advance.

****  *****  *****

I'll be back before too long with some nice high-quality pics taken by Afghan GM Matthew with his SLR camera.  I'll may also manage to post some more communications from the Afghan and British High Commands.   Until then, stay healthy and safe and sane and if at all possible try to play a game!



The last thing I have to add is to once again THANK EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THIS GAME, which against challenging odds turned out really well.  As I've said before, we all stuck with it through the good and not-so-good times, which for the game itself probably covered roughly 12 hours over the course of 3 different days.  Most of all I want to again thank my son, Skylar, and our buddy Matthew, for helping me run the game that entire time.  I definitely could not have done it without them.

Custodian of Ahmed Shah Shrine, watching the tail end British 2nd Brigade head South into the Baba Wali Kotal, thankful that despite all the nearby bloodshed and destruction, the Shrine remained untouched throughout the battle...




MORE PICS OF 2ND BRIGADE'S ADVANCE ON BABA WALI PASS...

















A MIXED VARIETY OF ADDITIONAL GAME PICS:











General Roberts, British C-in-C rides into the Afghan Camp and meets the recently liberated Lt. Hector MacLaine of the Royal Horse Artillery...



Finally,  Rifleman Kishanbir Nagarkoti of 5th Gurkhas -- who singlehandedly won the CLOSE COMBAT with Tribal ambushers North of Baba Wali Pass and then singlehandedly provided the "-1" modifier which enabled Lt. Hector MacLaine to successfully ESCAPE with just a flesh-wound from the Ghazi who was about to execute him -- rolled the required "6" on a D6 to EARN THE VICTORIA CROSS:


For Kishanbir Nagarkoti it will be the ORDER OF MERIT, the medal for gallantry in action available to Native soldiers of the Indian armies from 1837 to 1907, when they were made eligible for the Victoria Cross as well.


Congratulations Rifleman Nagarkoti!

Rifleman Nagarkoti being personally recognized after the battle by General Roberts, British C-in-C...


Just got this "Rack Focus" photo/movie from Matthew.  It's a "faux" Rack-Focus shot with the last 3 surviving Red Ghazis in the foreground and Marza Village, now brimming with what remains of  General MacPherson's British 1st brigade, in the background.  CLICK on the "MOVIE" icon to press "play" and then I suggest BLOWING IT UP to full-screen for the best view...













4 comments:

  1. Amazing battle! The collection, the rugged terrain, the size of the two armies, the planning and effort that went into it all - a real classic.

    I'm absolutely stuffed from all that eye candy!
    Thanks for the great AAR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are most welcome, Joseph, and THANK YOU for taking the time to leave your very kind comments!

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  2. It doesn't get any better than this. Superb photos of the action, and huzzah! for Rifleman Kishanbir Nagarkoti, a well-earned VC.

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    Replies
    1. AJ, great to hear you enjoyed the story of the game from afar! Yes, huzzah indeed for the gallant and courageous Rifleman! As I'm sure you can imagine, I was very happy when I rolled that 6 for him! In fact, his real world namesake, who was present with the 5th Gurkhas at the real battle, won that medal THREE TIMES during the Second Afghan War -- and then a FOURTH TIME in 1888 as an Officer during the Hazara/Black Mountain Expedition!

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