Next week’s megagame Don’t Panic is an alternative history megagame about the German Invasion of Britain in 1940. It’s a popular what if and makes an interesting game for us British because the playing area is familiar to us from our everyday lives. At least it is familiar if you live in the South East. The megagame handbook has the village I live in centred in the combat example. German panzers occupy Redhill, the nearest town.
So could a German Invasion of Britain in 1940 have worked?
The answer is yes provided the Germans could have kept the Royal Navy and the RAF away from their invasion fleet and also managed to find enough suitable craft for moving an army across the channel. They also need to be able to sustain the landed army and reinforce it faster than the British can send reinforcements to fight them.
Personally I think that this is too much of a tall order for the Germans. They have no real appreciation of naval warfare. Nor do they have any joint planning staff. What allows the Allies to launch successful amphibious assaults later in the war is a combination of joint planning and lots of practice on a small scale before they tried bigger stuff. Even then Dieppe shows how hard it is to assault a lightly defended small port with armour.
The Kriegsmarine is smaller than the RN home fleet by an order of magnitude. Even if the German capital ships break into the Atlantic for commerce raiding the RN still has sufficient destroyer and lighter craft to wreak havoc in the channel.
The other major issue that the Kriegsmarine have is that they don’t have the tradition and corporate memory of the Royal Navy. So their skill level is confined to submarines and small to medium surface fighting vessels.
They’ve got no assault landing capability and no naval air. They also don’t have the same expansion capability the army had. So there isn’t the manpower available to them to suddenly crew loads of invasion barges. Those last need to be taken up from trade, which will have a negative impact on the German economy. So the Kriegsmarine doesn’t have the capacity to support a German invasion of Britiain in 1940.
At best the Luftwaffe has parity with the RAF. However Britain is outbuilding the Germans in aircraft. As time passes the RAF grows in strength. Also lost RAF pilots tend to land in friendly territory and so get back in the air rapidly. Luftwaffe pilots tend to get lost in hostile space and become POWs.
The Luftwaffe is an asset in one way though. It exists to support the advance of the German Army. So if concentrated on that it can help the advance, however the liaison is in 1917 levels of planned support. It cannot be called off or amended once the planes are in the air. So only limited value in supporting a German invasion of Britiain in 1940.
That said, for the invasion to be successful the Luftwaffe needs air superiority over the invasion route and beaches. This is doable, but not guaranteed to be lasting. It also needs to keep the RN at bay. I think the Luftwaffe vs RAF is the crucial battle. If the RAF win (and a draw counts as a win) then the Germans can’t invade Britain. If the Luftwaffe win then the Germans have a chance, but only a chance.
The German Army is good, experienced and tested in both Poland and the West. So it should outclass the British Army man for man on average. The better British units will be better than the average Germans. The key issue though is numbers, and logistics. The British will have the best of both of these.
So if the Luftwaffe do an excellent job and keep the RAF and the Royal Navy at bay then the Kriegsmarine could put the German Army ashore. Once ashore the most likely outcome is that after hard fighting in the South East the Germans get defeated once additional British reinforcements arrive. The Germans will have a slower build up and their supply situation will be poorer than the British.
The hope for the Germans is for a collapse of civilian or political morale in the week after the German invasion. Any more than a week and the entire British Army will be against them. British military successes are likely to restore faith.
This is where the megagame Don’t Panic will be exploring the what if of the German invasion. I’m really looking forward to it.
The next megagame I’m going to is Don’t Panic a what if scenario on Operation Sealion, the planned German invasion of Britain in the autumn of 1940. I’m going to be the British Control. So no playing for me. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t look at how I would plan the Operation Sealion invasion myself.
Firstly we need to get into the nazi mindset. They’re essentially divide and conquer gamblers with no medium term view. They have an innate belief in their own superiority and on the inevitability of their eventual victory.
The other interesting thing is that the German General Staff see crossing the Channel as simply a large scale river crossing. To them it’s like crossing the Rhine, only a bit wider. This affects their thinking and probably explains why they didn’t ever attempt it. As they planned it, the obstacles just multiplied.
Since England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, shows no signs of being ready to come to an understanding, I have decided to prepare a landing operation against England and, if necessary, to carry it out.
The aim of this operation will be to eliminate the English homeland as a base for the prosecution of the war against Germany and, if necessary, to occupy it completely.
The German army has been victorious, sweeping all before it. All of continental Europe from Poland to the Pyrenees is under German control. Only Britain stands alone against Germany. The British army has been defeated in Europe and has left most of its first line equipment behind.
By mid August 1940 the panzer divisions will have been refitted, casualties either returned from hospital or been replaced. The luftwaffe is established in the French and Belgian airfields. The Kriegsmarine has assembled lots of barges ready for crossing the Channel.
In Britain the beach defences are being strengthened. However, the Briitsh Army is still short of transport and heavy equipment. The situation is so desperate that the British government has even called up old men and boys into a ‘Home Guard’. Weapons are so short that some of the Home Guard are armed with pikes.
Broadly the German invasion force can expect parity in numbers with the British in the invasion area. There is a qualitative advantage in terms of equipment and experience. The campaigns in Poland and the West have proved that beyond doubt. Operation Sealion is expected to follow the same pattern as the previous campaigns.
Hitler requires a speedy end to the war. German industry is short of manpower and the army needs to release skilled men soon. Operation Sealion is intended to bring the war to a speedy end.
Considerations for Operation Sealion
Broad vs Narrow Front
Normally military strategy suggests concentration of force. As an attacker you have a choice where you attack. A defender on the other hand has to spread out to cover all possible avenues of approach.
The British can be expected to rapidly deploy their remaining mobile reserve, including an armoured division, against any landing. This could tip the balance before strong enough German forces are ashore. The speed of response is likely to be slower if they cannot be sure where our schwerpunkt is located. Multiple landing points will aid this.
We need to capture a port as early as possible to enable unloading panzer forces. Once panzers are set free in England we can be assured of victory.
Both of these point to a strategy of attacking multiple small ports to ensure that at least one is captured rapidly.
We also need forward airfields to help the Luftwaffe support ground forces. It will also enable air landing troops to be brought in. This will speed up the force build up and make it harder for the British to defeat us in detail before we can join up.
This leads to the selection of ports. RAF bases at Marston and Tangmere have recently been abandoned and are in close proximity to ports. Similarly Dover has two airfields in close proximity and the castle is a major threat to our use of the channel.
Causing Civilian Panic
Fleeing civilians are useful to the German success. They cause bottlenecks that stop the enemy bringing up reinforcements. They also adversely affect morale. This latter is important politically as well as militarily. We need the British Government to sue for peace. The faster this happens the better.
Effective ways of reducing civilian morale are:
airborne troops behind the main lines (even if only rumoured);
tank breakthroughs, especially if accompanied with pictures at iconic places for the newspapers and cinema news reels;
sinking of supply ships so that rationing is tightened;
terror bombing of cities, especially London and other industrial centres.
Operation Sealion requires a rapid buildup with simultaneous action at sea and in the air to split or slow the British response is required to give time for a foothold to be established in England. This will maximise political pressure and ensure military victory.
Operation Sealion’s broad strategic goals must be to get a foothold, rapidly expand it and encourage the political opposition in the UK. Ways to do this are
surge the Kriegsmarine into the Atlantic for commerce raiding (apart from the bits directly needed for supporting the invasion)
use a u-boat screen to stop the RN getting in amongst the invasion fleet.
select four small ports across the Kent and Sussex coast for direct seaborne assault supported from the air. Put a battalion of paras on the closest airfield to the selected beaches
reinforce success with air landed troops on the captured airfields and tanks into the captured ports
transfer luftwaffe units to the captured airfields as rapidly as possible to increase loiter time and range
collect up the paras as soon as possible for a second drop on London or wherever intelligence suggests Churchill or the Royal Family are hiding out.
So far this half a shelf is my 1689 reading list for the proposed megagame about the Glorious Revolution. I’ve read some of this already, and marked up the interesting bits. Notably Bonnie Dundee and the Bruce Lenman books as well as Glencoe by John Sadler which sets the scene for the 1692 massacre very well with a decent treatment of the 1689 campaign.
What I’m largely missing is stuff on the events in Ireland, I know that there is a load of material on the campaigns there. Albeit much of it biased by the sectarianism that continues into the present day. My bookshelf coverage of Ireland is much later than this, mainly the recent Troubles and the early 20th century events.
If you can recommend any books about the 1688-1694 period that would be good. Ideally I want material that covers the administration of the armies and government as much as the series of events. As the say Amateurs talk tactics, professionals love logistics.
Recommend me some books for my 1689 reading list please?
In November 1688 William of Orange landed at Torbay with a combined force of Dutch and British troops. Early in 1689 the English Parliament declared for William. In Scotland and Ireland things were less clear cut, Scotland was finely balanced and Ireland was more Jacobite than Williamite. The events of 1689 determined who sat on the throne, and Britain becoming a global power.
A 1689 megagame will let players explore this and see if the outcome was a foregone conclusion or not (I don’t believe it was as easy as history makes out, and the Jacobite rebellions of the first half of the 18th Century bear out the continuing support for King James II and his descendants).
The 1689 megagame will be a political and military game about the events of 1689 that historically lead to the overthrow of King James II and his replacement with William & Mary.
The events in Scotland must be played
Events in Ireland could be played
events in England are unlikely to be played (it was much less contentious)
The 1689 megagame should cover the strategic options of both Kings, and the immediate political issues from the ruling classes of the Kingdoms. Specifically there should be a real dilemma for players on whether to switch sides (and at what point to jump, and whether to jump back). Historically changing sides was common, and some major figures did so more than once.
Underlying this there is a military game. Although all out war was avoided in England (the memory of the Civil Wars was too recent) this was not true in Scotland or Ireland (where the memory was still recent, but there were more scores to settle and force of arms was used more often). Significantly the settlement was rapid in England because William threatened to take his army home.
There are also resource constraints. Money needs to be borrowed, and paid back, to finance the campaigns. William appears to have planned better and has more immediate resources.
Potential Structure for a 1689 Megagame
William has a Government in London and the Netherlands. It supplies him with money and troops and he needs to engage politically with both Parliaments. He is also fighting a war with France, of which this becomes a wider part.
Decisions here are about deployment of resources and diplomatic efforts to close down support for James, and ensure that he does not have to get blood on his hands directly. His orders in late 1688 specifically allow James to escape, he was worried that elements of the English aristocracy would push him into a position where a captured James would have to be executed.
Members of the government (not William himself) could potentially be subject to desertion to James, so they need to be kept onside.
Scaling at the lower end this can be a control role, in a high turnout game it could be a small player team to co-ordinate across Scotland and Ireland and do some diplomacy (via control).
James’s Government in exile
As with William King James II has some loyal followers with him. Initially he is in France, having fled London in December 1688. After getting help from the French he returns to Ireland to raise an army to fight against William’s troops. Throughout the period his government is in letter communications with a number of officials and sympathisers across the three kingdoms to keep them in play as his loyal subjects.
Within his cabinet there is a high level of political intrigue and this leads to it being dysfunctional. In particular the Drummond brothers are hated by many who are otherwise loyal to James. There are also other enmities, often borne of the same issues that lead to William being invited over.
Defections and desertions from and to James are common.
Scaling this could be a control role in a small game. In a larger turnout it would be useful to play some of the Cabinet roles with James as Control. In a very large game then there could be a Hitler’s Henchmen style sub game going on with this team.
This represents the Nobles, Clergy and Gentry of Scotland. It met in March 1689 and was initially neutral, however when Viscount Dundee left it then it eventually declared for William & Mary. Potentially this could have been different. Orange or Lemon deals with this area and I’d re-use it as a sub-game in a 1689 megagame.
In effect this group of players hold the Government in Scotland in their control. They have agreement of who is the King, and to some extent the office holders of the Scottish Government are drawn from their ranks. Which way the Convention jumps will have a major impact on the course of the game (if they went for King James it could lead to him landing in Scotland rather than Ireland and calling on the Scottish Army to march south (it was disbanded at Reading in December along with the English Army)).
Scaling this needs at least 7 players, of which two are staunch supporters of one of the Kings. If the ‘wrong’ King is chosen by the convention there is a role for these characters elsewhere in military opposition to the decision. The minimal player set are the leaders of the main interest groups, most of whom are undecided. In a medium sized game there are roles for up to 20 members of the Convention, the decided factions get a little larger and more undecided players are added. Each of the undecided will have agendas they want to see to gain their support, and a fear of being on the wrong side. It will take longer to make the Convention choose with more players, but it should become decisive if lobbied correctly.
These are a disparate bunch, with internal conflict within them. Typically the Chiefs are well educated men (many are university graduates, or have studied). However they have a distrust of central government and obey only in so far as the King is willing to enforce things. They recognise authority in force of arms rather than de jure. An internal power struggle will be seen as a golden opportunity to settle old scores and raid for plunder in the guise of supporting the King.
There are few that can control Highland clans, their Chiefs and people they respect. An example of this is the recent Battle of Maol Ruadh (anglicised as ‘Mulroy’) in June 1688. Though government troops were involved, the fight was essentially a localised, private power struggle between clans (the MacIntosh clan settling a land dispute against the Keppoch MacDonalds). It was the result of deeply-entrenched, on-going clan tensions exacerbated by decades of political upheaval and lack of centralised authority in the Highlands. The battle of Mulroy highlights King James’ tenuous political authority and inability to maintain order in Scotland.
Scaling the major clans need to be played, ideally with at least two players per clan to allow dealing with both political and military issues (or both sides simultaneously if they aren’t active military). This would make for at least eight players (two each of the Grants, Camerons, MacDonalds and Campbells – although the last have at least one in the Convention). With a larger turnout there are 18 major Chiefs that were involved in the 1689 battles that could be played. There is also the possibility of running the clan sub-game in a similar way to the ancient celt game.
James II disbanded the armies, but William brought his own loyal troops from the Netherlands, including a Scots Lowland brigade. There were also some other Lowland troops raised either to fight for William, or re-mobilised by William. There are also some castle garrisons.
Conventional forces operating North of the Highland line are hard to keep supplied and operational. Also the terrain makes a lot of the training and doctrine hard to implement. The primary military leader for William was Major General Mackay, a highlander who had spent over 20 years in the service of the Netherlands. He has considerable freedom of action in how he deals with Jacobite forces in Scotland. His primary constraints are money and logistics.
Scaling the conventional forces need 2-3 players as a minimum. They have a standard command structure which means that the subordinate players have less freedom of action. If the game was larger there could be scope to add some liaison officers and logistics officers, but this is unlikely to take the need to more than 5 players. The key determining factor is the number of independent forces that could be created and the level of diplomacy done by military players. In the latter case I would expect this to be done by players from the Convention once it had reached a consensus on the King it was supporting.
There are three significant castles, Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton.
Edinburgh is a player role and casts an important shadow over the convention. The other two could be run by control if necessary. They guard important routes to and from the Highlands and are nominally controlled by the King. Other castles exist but these are private strongholds.
The entire revolution took just under two years, but mostly the decisive phase is between March 1689 and August 1689. Ireland takes another year to mop up, there are also some loose ends in Scotland to deal with after the clans return home after the defeat at Dunkeld.
Potentially the Convention decision cycle could be extended from when it actually happened to allow it to go in parallel with the raising of the clans. That would allow the events to take place over 8-10 turns of about 40 minutes each (longer first turn and variable end). This would give a notional turn period of about two weeks.
Thoughts or comments?
Would you play in a 1689 megagame if it was worked up?
is there anything else you think could be included or left out?
would you want to work with me to make it happen?
leave a comment and let me know what you think. If there is enough interest I’ll approach Megagame Makers and see if it can go on the programme.
So my role started some time ago, the first Watch the Skies megagame, with a mere 50 players, was filmed by the chaps at Shut Up & Sit DownÂ and megagames became insanely popular. I missed WTS because of family commitments (it was my daughter’s birthday weekend). WTS2, and just about every other megagame, got booked up overnight and I couldn’t get a space on it. Jim Wallman had a plan though, and it involved me (and every other veteran megagame control team person). He scaled it up, to six times the size and about 25% bigger than the previous record holder for the largest ever megagame (which I played in).
Jim sent the control team the draft rules for us to read and comment on. He ran tryout sessions so we could get our heads round it all. He also spent an awful lot of time organising everything. The scale of the event is just huge, and it was all done by volunteers for the love of running large games.
As mentioned above, I was lead control for East Asia, there were three of us in the region looking after six human player teams plus some visitors (a mixture of aliens, press and foreign militaries). The other two control were also very experienced, and we quickly sorted out how we were going to run our corner. Mainly my job was running the map, with Andre sitting opposite while Stephen fielded all the other questions we were getting from the players not involved in whatever was going on at the map.
I’m not going to give a blow by blow account, for a start I was too busy to catch anything that wasn’t at my map, and for a second I’ll let the players tell their own stories. However I do have some highlights from the notes I made for the end of game de-brief.
AIM (our pet corporation) did deals very early on with China, Japan and Australia to upgrade their infrastructure and also build additional manufacturing lines there. Vietnam also benefited hugely too (the most in percentage terms).
The Australians attempted to breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by buying nukes from Iran. This backfired spectacularly and the Australian Government sacked the Chief of the Defence Staff for unauthorised unilateral action (a likely story, but I had fun with the cabinet meeting).
Korea was interesting. The South Koreans made wooing North Korea their main effort. We made it as hard as possible for that to succeed without looking like we were being mean. Their dogged determination was eventually fruitful and by the end of the game they were discussing reunification talks having signed a peace treaty two years into the game.
Japan clearly had secret deals going with the aliens, although I was only aware of this because of the way they behaved. They stopped whaling and also stopped intercepting UFOs with their SIFs. This didn’t stop another group of aliens from destroying Tokyo by bombarding it with plasma from low orbit almost at the end of the game.
Indonesia fell apart, it was small and poor, lost a SIF early on and seemed to be the focus for alien attention (they built a base there). When the government eventually lost the confidence of its supporters it triggered a civil war with the alien intervention splintering their armed forces. This was rapidly won by an international coalition that supported the new government.
The Australian SIF teams were spectacularly successful, some of this was luck and some the judicious upgrades of their SIFs (there were four or five of these most of the time). Most turns they had two or three successes, this kept their PR track maxed out, which meant they had the money to invest in more stuff.
As always it took us a couple of turns to get our heads around how best to run the map, but seeing as the players have exactly the same problem this is usually managable and so it was this time. We managed to evolve a system that worked for us and helped us get through dozen UFO interceptions in the later turns.
money for PR was put on the PR track at the start of the map phase when the military players were paying to activate SIF & agents
we did interceptions serially, starting with the SIF with advanced tech (not weapons), then those from the country closest to the interception point, but sometimes randomly
when an interception was successful we gave the player the card to leave on their PR track so that we could tot up the PR score afterwards
each SIF was returned to either the ready or damaged box as appropriate as soon as the card was revealed (destroyed to control)
where Aliens deployed a PAC we made it fight every SIF until it was damaged or driven off
Other things we found
there weren’t enough SIF models for the turnover
ditto the upgrade stickers & national flags
chits for UFOs don’t work, the players missed some when intercepting (even with mass UFO incursions there were still more SIF than UFOs)
we ran out of alien tech cards (but to be fair I think we had more than our expected share of alien action)
a copy of the detailed turn sequence would have been useful as a playsheet
using business cards for money was inspired
keeping up with other controls was really hard, I gave up eventually but it would have been useful to have had phone numbers for alien control or a liaison point
SIF & unit upgrades need a better mechanism, there needs to be a token exchange that allows regional map controls to upgrade units with the confidence that the corporate players have actually paid to produce the upgrade.
ditto a track on which science benefits have been used on keeping the terror track down. I largely relied on memory but this could have been a visual so that the players could see it.
If you were there, then leave me a comment with your story, or link to your blog post, write up, twitter or whatever.
Other Megagame Watch the Skies 2 Reports
Edit: Some other blog posts about the game
Edit 2: A couple more, and there are also some in the comments.
This is the second part of my offside report on the Megagame Makers megagame ‘Funeral Games II’ which I played in on Saturday. It covered the period following Alexander the Great’s death and the struggle by his successors to attain power. In the first half of the game I played Antipater, until he died of old age in his bed, then I played his heir, Cassander.
This afforded me a moment to breathe. I was reincarnated as Cassander, my heir. As it turns out Perdiccas got killed and he became my younger brother Alexarchus. Another player also got reassigned then too and played the middle brother Pleistarchus. We had a short breather and plotted how to establish ourselves as powerful, the downfall of Queen Olympias and the rebuilding of Thebes.
Gain control of Macedonia
Expand your power base in Europe as widely as possible
Sideline Eurydike and the half wit King Philip III (both dead already)
Rebuild Thebes as a snub to Alexander”s memory
What Cassander Did
Stage one was get some money and some troops. None of the European Macedonians wanted to reward or use Antipater’s heirs. So I took an opportunity to go to Egypt to see Ptolemy who was an enemy of Olympias and had managed to be declared a rebel twice over. He had enough loyal Macedonians with him to be able to hold his own rival Assembly and overturn those decrees.
I discussed my plans with Ptolemy and he agreed to legitimise it if I was successful, but not in advance. That was good enough for me.
Ptolemy madeÂ me governor of the province of Judea.Â This gave me some regular income and somewhere to raise troops. My brothers also managed to gain a fleet (Pleistarchus) and some mercenaries (Alexarchus). IÂ also negotiated with the Greek city states on our project to restore Thebes, and unknown to me Alexarchus was doing the same with Seleucus. I returned to Boeotia having secured funding from the Oligarchs and also permission to raise troops from Demosthenes. At the same time the European armies were preparing to go to Egypt to fight Ptolemy. So I spent some time encouraging this, especially from those that I thought were loyal to Queen Olympias. I spoke to my brothers in law Autodicus and Sippas to try and persuade them to stay in Pella.
In the Spring I rebuilt Thebes with funding from Seleucus that Alexarchus had brokered. I had also got funding from the Greek oligarchs and permission from the Democrats to raise troops in Greece. This gave me a force in Europe and also enough funding to be able to bribe any troops left behind either to join me or to stay out of the fight. All I needed to do was be patient and wait for the fleet to take the army away in the Summer.
As soon as the army sailed forÂ Egypt I was left with the largest force in Europe supported by my two brothers and with three thousand talents to bribe the troops remaining with my brother in law Sippas. As it happened Sippas agreed to join us and we had an uncontested Palace Coup. I immediately had Queen Olympias killed but Cleopatra narrowly escaped before I could do the same to her. I took control of the young King Alexander IV in the hope ofÂ gaining legitimacy as his guardian and also showing that I was acting in the best interests of the royal line (if not of some of its members specifically).
We had a brief conversation, but didn’t have enough Macedonian troops to form an assembly. Although we had control of Macedonia we couldn’t call out the levies to ratify our actions. Pro-tem I made myself Regent of Europe, Pleistarchus Governor of Macedonia and Alexarchus Governor of Thrace. I also made Sippas Strategos of Europe. All of this would only stick if others agreed. I was a little surprised when the fleet returned the Army at the end of the Autumn, as soon as they’d heard the news they’d abandoned fighting Ptolemy and returned to Macedon.
First on the scene was Autodicus, another of my brothers in law. As there was time for a storming of Pellas I rapidly negotiated with him and handed over the reigns of office as Regent of Europe to him. In return I was to be the guardian of Alexander IV. However while I negotiated Alexander’s step father sneaked into the Palace and stole the boy and his mother (Roxanne) out. Prudently I retired from Pella to Thebes ‘to ensure no misunderstandings or bloodshed’. I know a massacre waiting to happen when I see one, we were outnumbered 10:1 by the legitimate army. The main thing was that I had survived and was still in possession of my money, army and governorship. Not only that I wasn’t out of favour. Both of the remaining regents were my brothers in law and the next most powerful Macedon was an ally too, at least for now.
Today I played in the Megagame Makers ”Funeral Games II” which was the second outing of a classic Megagame of what happens after Alexander the Great dies. As such it involves a mix of military operations, politics and personal relationships to cement power and block others from achieving it.
My starting role in the megagame Funeral Games was as Antipater, one of three regents agreed by Macedonian Assembly in Babylon in the days following Alexander’s death. Antipater was the Governor of Macedonia, Regent and Strategos of Europe and Head of the Hellenic League. The only person with more legitimacy than him to command is Perdiccas, another Regent who is in Babylon with Alexander’s body and the two Kings (Philip III and Alexander IV).
The Belgians on our left were attacked and driven out of their trench line, and retreated towards Calais. The BEF left flank is, although entrenched, hanging in the air again. BEF reserve troops are at St. Omer. A request to the navy is made to bombard Dunkirk. A combined counter-attack will be made by the BEF’s left flank and the cavalry (reserve), supported by heavy artillery and naval bombardement.
Team Control Gloss
The BEF were using the fact that the enemy in front of them appeared to have gone static to rotate and rest their Corps. They also absorbed nine of the 12 available TF Battalions to bring all the Corps back up to full strength after the casualties from their previous counter-attacks and in the retreat afterwards.
Although the Belgian force was liaising closely with the BEF and drawing supplies from a secondary sea head established at Calais the BEF had not realised just how weak it was. It had a battered Belgian Division and a French reserve division in it, making it a very weak Corps (about 60% of the effectiveness of the BEF Corps). The Germans seemed to sense that this was the weak point, or perhaps just chose it because it was the seaborne flank. Either way they hit it with three fresh Corps supported by two heavy artillery units. The odds were stacked against the Belgians and their force simply disintegrated under the weight of the attack.
BEF’s part of the front aint as big as we thought it would be, we cover it to Bapaume.
Team Control Gloss
Well this was where I stopped following the team very closely and handed over to Paul, one of the map umpires, for about 45 minutes. The reason for this was that I was a combined Team Control and High Command Control, and there was a set of private peace talks sponsored by the USPresident Wilson in the US Embassy in Switzerland.
Present for the UK was the Foreign Minister, with a remit to ensure that Belgium was reinstated as per the status quo ante bellum. The other delegates were the German CINC, the Austrian Foreign Minister, a representative of the Czar, the Belgian Foreign Minister, the French Foreign Minister, and the US Secretary of State. (other minor powers were probably represented there also by the game designer, but those mentioned were all player roles).
The military situation at this point was that the Germans were losing in the East, having used most of their military effort in the West. East Prussia had been captured by the Russians. Despite this the Germans were very bullish about their progress and believed that they could hold what they’d taken in the West while re-capturing East Prussia if the war was to continue. Reason wasn’t a key feature of these talks, and in the end Russia and France decided not to pursue them further and walked out. This was after a number of reasonable compromises had been tabled by the British, the Americans and the Belgians. The Austrians were also keen on an immediate armistice and said so at the time.
The conclusion was that the war continued, and the Italians declared war on the allied side when the news of the behaviour of the Germans was made public by the press.
While the talks were going on the BEF used the opportunity of a stablised line to absorb a dozen replacement Territorial Force battalions and managed to rotate its Corps out of the ine to rest them too. Â In addition the Belgians negotiated a deal to re-equip their shattered forces on the French Channel coast with British equipment so that they could share lines of supply with the BEF. The Royal Navy also arranged to deliver these supplied and maintain contact with the Belgians in Ostend and Zeebrugge.
Orders are to entrench from south of marshed terrain In Dixmuiden towards Arras. Right flank tries to attempt a limited attack from Arras and surroundings directioned to the east to conform to the German line. It seems that a solid trench line is being built from Nieuwpoort (Swamped) Dixmuiden, Arras (in German Hands, a salient), BEF will try to widen her covered Area from east from Ypres (still in German hands), towards Arras (still in german hands, but a saillant) to Cambrai, to free up some French troops to attack elsewere. The Belgians are moving to cover our left flank to the coast.
Team Control Gloss
The orders happened mostly as written, but with a small amount of confusion. The Belgians had specified where their left and right flanks would be as places rather than indicating conforming to the British, so there was a slight gap. Fortunately the British had order their cavalry screen to remain in place until the Belgians were there.