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In December 2011, my local wargames club in St Albans played a mini-campaign set in the Ypres Salient in 1917.

Ive set out in this document some of the background to the aims of the mini-campaign in a wargaming context, and some background on how we went about it. Theres no magic in what follows. No silver bullet is provided for running successful campaigns. And no maxims are set out promising success. All I wanted to do was describe what we did, and some of the pros and cons of doing it our way. Aims of the mini-campaign The aim of the campaign was centred on creating context for a series of historical wargames games set firmly in the Ypres Salient in 1917. That series was intended to be two or three games (in the end there were two), each playable in an evening, and I wanted to make sure that the key players had a background in the game before arriving at the Club. I didnt want to create an elaborate background in which players were responsible for extensive manoeuvres and logistics, but I did want to try give the players a feel of commanding both at a HighCommand level and at a lower field command which could influence the exact place where the engagements were fought and the forces available. In other words, I was hoping to try and give the players a sense and context of involvement, but without all of the hard work of a full campaign. Key Elements I tried to break the elements of the mini-campaign down into stages which I could manage easily. At each stage, I thought about what I was trying to add into the game whether the addition provided substance, or whether what I was trying to add was something more subjective. Stage 1: Choose a time and a place For a long time Ive been interested in the battle of Third Ypres, and Passchendaele in particular. The battle is a dark and bitter place in British public memory, with a collective memory for many people of mud, blood, suffering and military incompetence. In recent years, revisionist historical writings have sought to rebalance the interpretation of Passchendaele. These accounts have concentrated on the intricate, complex fighting at Third Ypres, and way in which warfare

in the Salient evolved during 1917 to represent the pinnacle (at that time) of modern warfare and tactical thought. I like wargames which have a dramatic theme and which also try to dig deeper into history and focus on some of the messages which might have been hidden over time. Choosing a particular time and a place for a wargame enabled me to try and bring out these themes. My choice of setting was early October 1917 in the area around Polygon Wood and Jetty Wood in the Ypres Salient. Stage 2: Choose an actual map - In my view, maps and wargames campaigns go together perfectly and complement each other. I know that many successful wargames campaigns have completed without maps, but as a player and an umpire I always enjoy the additional scope and opportunity that a map brings to a campaign. I also like to try and engage my players in the theme of a game, so the logical choice for me was to use an actual map for our mini-campaign. A perfect source of maps for the Great War is the Imperial War Museums CD of trench maps, one of which was shown (non-commercially) to the players to enable them to locate their forces. I wanted to try and get players looking at the actual map, studying the actual area of the historical campaign, and trying to link their actions and responses to those of their historical counterparts 95 years previously. Stage 3: Choose the level of command I wanted to try something new (at least for me) in the minicampaign and reflect the different levels of command operating in the historical battle. Some actions would be performed by the players at a High Command level, and some would take place at field command level. My thinking was to try and get the players to drill down to the action, and experience the actual consequences of their High Command plans in a fairly immediate manner on the tabletop. Stage 4: Choose the message Rather than take up valuable time during the gaming evenings, I wanted to try and work through the pre-game stages before each game. Email was perfect for this, enabling me to contact the players, provide information and obtain orders and responses. Keeping the momentum was important, so I tried to keep the number of key players small. I had three key players (two British and one German), plus two other possible participants who were copied in on the emails. Each email was focused on a particular level of command, with certain tasks and actions being possible. Stage 5: Set the scene - One of the things I try and create in a wargame is a sense of the time and place where the game is being set. There are many ways of doing that, but the end is generally the same and that is to create a great environment in which the wargame comes to life. Setting the scene is a very subjective process, and wargamers will react in different ways to introducing a specific background, or chrome, or fluff. A little of this kind of background goes a long way (especially with a period like the Great War, where players already have their own ideas or impressions of the background). Rather than bogging down the actual games with background chrome, I wanted to develop this through the pre-game emails. Stage 6: Start the campaign - I wanted to avoid turning the series of mini-campaign emails into a full blown campaign or Kriegspiel. I didnt have the time to spend working out complicated map movements or logistics. Principally, I needed details of dispositions of troops, routes of attack, bombardment priorities and general orders. I tried to embed the players provision of this information in a simple table-format in the pre-game emails themselves. Stage 7: The tabletop game - I needed each game to be set out, played and packed away in three to four hours. I also needed simple mechanisms for translating the results of the mini-campaign onto the tabletop. I also needed the players to recognise that the decisions they had taken in the pre-game email exchanges had an impact on the tabletop.

Stage 8: Results and repeats - Finally, I wanted to be able to quickly debrief from the first tabletop game and progress to the email exchanges for the second game. The Progress of the Campaign In the Appendix, I have set out the various email exchanges between myself, as umpire, and the three players. Rather than jigsaw them together to create a consistent narrative, Ive left them fairly raw, as each email chain flows in a slightly different direction. I posted the results of the tabletop games on my blog, and they can be found here: Game One Polygon Wood, 2nd October 1917 http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.com/2011/12/polygon-wood-2nd-october-1917-through.html Game Two: The Road to Reutel, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.com/2011/12/scharnhorst-and-gneisenau-through-mud.html Useful reference books There is a very significant body of literature for Third Ypres and Passchendaele. I found the most useful to be Passchendaele: The Unseen Panoramas (Peter Barton), Passchendaele: The Sacrificial Ground (Nigel Steele and Peter Hart), Passchendaele in Perspective (Peter Liddle et al.), Passchendaele: The Fight for the Village (Nigel Cave), Polygon Wood (Nigel Cave) and The German Army at Passchendaele (Jack Sheldon). Dr Bryn Hammonds PhD thesis on the Tank Corps (available from the British Library) was very helpful for information on tank actions in the Salient. All of the quotations in the emails in the Appendix are from contemporaries actually present at Third Ypres and Passchendaele, and are quoted in these books. Final Thoughts The aim of this document is really to show how I went about setting up a mini-campaign for my local wargames club. It is certainly not a guide on how best to run a wargames campaign for the very simple reason that Im not an expert! As with all campaigns, some things worked well, and some didnt. Talking afterwards with the dozen wargamers who played in these games, the general view was that having a background and context to the tabletop games which were played was a definite bonus. Players were involved and enthusiastic about the game before they arrived at the Club. The players participating through emails also enjoyed the chance to try and out-fox their opponents, as was seen by the German players pre-emptive strike on the hastily prepared British positions along the edge of Polygon Wood in early October. By contrast, some things didnt turn out as planned. The different levels of command used in the emails seemed rather abstract to one of the players for which I blame myself and lack of clear instructions. Also, map-moving on actual maps is all very well in theory, but this can cause some tensions when accommodating actual maps into the terrain we had available (especially when that terrain is modular and slightly inflexible!) However, the key test, whether players had a really enjoyable series of games, certainly seemed to have been achieved. And, if people enjoyed the historical context along the way, so much the better. If you have any thoughts, in particular suggestions for improvements, please do drop me a line. Either put a comment on my blog at www.sidneyroundwood.blogspot.com or drop me an email at sidneyroundwood@gmail.com .

The Campaign Area: Jetty Wood, Jetty Warren and Reutel Ypres Salient, October 1917 Master Map and Initial Map given to players

Appendix Mini-campaign emails 1. 2. 3. British Command British Tank Corps German Command

**************************** Jetty Wood British Command Briefing Email 1 1st October 1917 It is 1st October 1917. The Third Battle of Ypres is raging to the east of the town. In this pre-game period, you will play a variety of British Commanders, ranging from Sir Douglas Haig to a company commander in the 1st battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, part of 62 Brigade, 21st Division. You will receive a series of emails, focused on different levels of command. Please reply to these, as the decisions you make will influence the forces available to the British side during the club game and the precise terrain over which the game will be fought. However, broadly speaking, the club game will be fought over the ground to the east of Polygon Wood. The area of operations in which the game is sited is the area on the attached map (Map 1) between Jetty Wood to the North, Cameron Covert to the South, the eastern edge of Polygon Wood and Jetty Warren in the east. EMAIL NUMBER 1 Background: You are Sir Douglas Haig, Commander of the British and Imperial forces and a major advocate of a vigorous campaign to break out of the Ypres Salient. British and Imperial forces have successfully cleared Polygon Wood in late September 1917, advancing to the east. Casualties have been heavy and German resistance has been tougher than expected, although your intelligence officer has reported that he believes that the Enemys morale is close to cracking. However, the weather has stayed dry and now the stage is set for the next phase of the battle. This is capture of the Gheluvelt Plateau and the occupation of Broodseinde Ridge. This would protect the southern flank of the British line around the Salient and permit attacks on the Passchendaele Ridge further to the east. You are anxious about the risk of deteriorating weather into the Autumn.

What you need to do: You need to decide on your overall strategy for the Battle of Broodseinde and your specific artillery strategy. (In wargaming terms, this adds up to having a bit of a general plan for how your forces will be fighting). Choose from the following:

Tactical Doctrine Method of attack

Choices Bite and Hold a limited attack by your assaulting divisions covering approximately 1000 yards, with attacking troops stopping at their 1000 yard objective and digging in, shielded by a defensive barrage. Breakthrough a general attack to a depth of 2000 yards with a view to breaking through and exploiting success. This is a challenging tactic, but given that you have received intelligence regarding the enemys low morale, it might be possible to achieve stunning success. Operation Excalibur a limited attack (commencing in darkness) with tanks following carefully sited routes of advance, with no preparatory bombardment of the enemy. This was tried with great success to the north at St Julien in August 1917 by G Battalion of the Tank Corps.

Artillery Doctrine

Creeping Barrage an orthodox creeping barrage in advance of your attacking troops, allowing troops to advance 100 yards in 4 to 6 minutes. Gas Barrages gassing the German held front line areas with chlorine and phosgene gas and impeding their ability to fight. Counterbattery concentration of artillery resources on counter-battery fire against German batteries which are currently out of sight on the other side of the Broodseinde Ridge

Rear areas bombardment concentration of fire on German second and third line and reserve areas, interdicting their reserve and Eingreif (interlocking/ reinforcement) divisions. Pot Luck a mixture of the Artillery Doctrines listed above (please specify)

****************************************** British Commander Response

Sir Sidney, Answer to your initial questions: 1. Bite and Hold. In view of the date I feel it appropriate to consider only operations with a very limited objective. This has also convinced me that tanks are not the best weapons for this season. As a result an infantry attack with artillery support seems the best option.

2.

I would wish for a Pot Luck barrage, although I prefer the term "pick and mix". A short drum-fire barrage is to precede the attack for 15 minutes along the enemy front line before lifting and moving on to the enemy's second line trenches. Gas is to be fired in counter-battery barrage with a box pattern barrage planned to seal off our gains once our objective is captured. Success is to be signalled with an agreed signal from flare pistols.

I remain, sir Haig. D


******************************************* Umpire Response As Sir Douglas Haig returns from his morning ride, there is a package and a letter on his desk.

"Dear Sir Douglas, I am in receipt of, and grateful for, you order and instructions regarding the Broodseinde/ Reutel/ Gheluvelt attack. I shall pass your orders to General Plumer, all GSOs and all Second Army Divisional Commanders. I shall ensure that the artillery plans are communicated to all appropriate officers in the RHA and RGA. One additional note. Brigadier Hugh Elles of the Tank Corps dined with me last night at Poperinghe. He is keen to get his buses involved in the Broodseinde/ Reutel/ Gheluvelt attack. He claims that the infantry found the tanks of assistance in late August and that the ground is still good. he has offered his best battalions if they would be of service. As you know, all of them are now re-equipped with the Mark IV. They may be of service in dealing with the blockhouses on the ridges - certainly Goughie was complimentary of the service they gave to the Fourth Army in August. Of course, the decision is yours. You know my views on Elles - while he is a thruster, he also has a tendency to over-egg his dish. I remain, Sir Roundwood. S."
(Accompanying the letter is a package of documents detailing formations, locations, casualty figures, logistics, etc, together with a counter-signed copy of your letter of yesterday) ****************************************** Jetty Wood British Command Briefing #2 1st October 1917 It is still 1st October 1917. This is your second email in the pre-game campaign for Jetty Wood. You are now playing a G.S.O. (General Staff Officer) on the staff of General Plumers Second Army, required to work through some of the detail of the deployment of troops and logistics around Polygon Wood and

Jetty Wood. Relevant information is set out below. Please ask if you need more, or if anything is not clear. Please also refer to the map in which the actual game will be set. You have already chosen your Method of Attack and Tactical Doctrine. This email is all about working out some of the details of that. Military Forces Available You are planning the movement and battle orders for the 62nd Brigade, part of the 21st Division. This is a good force, but has not seen action many times. It is their first engagement at Third Ypres. 62 Brigade The Brigade will generally deploy to a depth of 1200 yards. Typically, in an attack, the Brigade frontage may be as narrow as 250 yards. A typical attack would be for one battalion to attack and occupy a first objective, with a second battalion (assisted by one company of a support battalion) attacking and consolidating a second objective. Two more companies of the support battalion would then move up once the second objective was secured, and the attack would roll forward again. You have the following forces to assist the attack: Battalions in 62 Brigade 3/4 Queens - this is the battalions first fight and their CO says they show great offensive spirit 1/Lincoln a good battalion, with an excellent CO (LT Col L.P. Evans) 12/13 Northumberland Fusiliers tough Geordies from the North East of England Machine Gun Corps Tank Corps Royal Flying Corps A machine gun company barrage group to provide supporting fire for any attack. A section of tanks (four tanks) from B Battalion of the Tank Corps have been promised Good support is promised

All battalion officers have been informed that commanders on the spot, from platoons upwards, must act on their own initiative and as circumstances dictate, but must also inform superior officers up the chain of command of local events (objectives taken, enemy resistance, etc.). From previous actions, you know that formations become inter-mingled and confused very quickly in the chaos of a large assault. Smaller surprise attacks are easier to control, but may be of limited effect unless adequately supported. Terrain

Please study to the map below. 62nd Brigade can be deployed on the eastern edge of Polygon Wood, but no further than the crossroads at the south east corner of the Wood.

Rather than me describe the area, heres an extract from the War Diary of 62nd Brigade: The place of assembly was thirty feet below the first objective and in full view of the enemy. Three streams separated the opposing forces. Each stream ran through soft and boggy ground 50 yards in width. This ground had been churned by continuous shelling to an almost impenetrable morass. Scrub covered the slopes of the small spurs and this was heavily wired. About 50 yards to the east of the Polygonbeek and again to the east of Jetty warren concrete blockhouses, some containing three compartments and each provided with loopholes and manned by garrisons of 20 to 30 with machine guns and trench mortars, commanded all approaches . 4 or 5 feet deep trenches were sited on all the prominent positions. The beds of the stream were swept by machine gun fire from Cameron Covert and Polderhoek Chateau. As seen in Daylight, after the attack, the position seemed impregnable. War Diary of 62 Brigade You can see from the edge of Polygon Wood that the ground rises up to Jetty Wood in the north of the area. Sir Douglas Haig regards the Jetty Wood section as critical to the success of the Broodseinde attack, planned for a few days time. Please locate two objectives for your attack in the blue dotted area. Weather - It has started to rain on the afternoon of 1st October. A light drizzle at present Who knows whats to come

Where is the enemy? - You cant easily tell, but you know that there are small concrete blockhouses on the east and west of the Polygonbeek and Jetty Warren. Heaven only know whats lurking in Jetty Wood or Juniper Wood. You know that Cameron Covert has been heavily fought over during the last couple of days and that the Germans had previously used this to pass reinforcements into Polygon Wood. The Germans have most been pushed out of Cameron Covert, but local counterattacks are continuing on a small scale on a daily basis to try and regain the Cameron Covert. Joist Farm is certainly occupied by the Enemy. What you need to do now Please let me know the two objectives for your attack, and when the attack will take place (2nd, 3rd, 4th October, etc., dawn, morning, afternoon, etc. etc.) Do you want to do any reconnaissance of the ground before the attack, and if so where. Let me know what you want to use for the reconnaissance do it in person, a raiding part, a platoon, company scale probing attack, something else. Let me know if you have a specific plan for the Tank Corps units you may have at your disposal. These chaps tend to be fairly erratic in arriving at starting lines and on time, so if you want to use them you may want to be specific about where and when.

The longer you wait, the greater the chance you will be reinforced with additional troops and artillery supplies (specialist ammunition, specialist artillery units, better aerial spotting). However, the longer you leave your attack, you may have to face adverse weather. Also, the Germans are as clever as cats theyre unlikely you sit still and wait for you to come.

*********************** Jetty Wood British Command Briefing #3 (following on from first tabletop game) 3rd October 1917 This is your third email in the pre-game campaign for Jetty Wood. You are now playing a G.S.O. (General Staff Officer) on the staff of 21 Division, recovering after a vicious German spoiling attack on 2nd October 1917 along the eastern edge of Polygon Wood. It is the morning of the 3rd October. It is now raining hard. You receive the following dispatch from your Divisional GSO (General Staff officer) from the Intelligence Corps. ++++++++++++++++++++ 2l Division Daily Report o8.oo hours, 3rd October Aggressive Enemy assaults 2nd October along east side of Polygon Wood repelled, with heavy losses on both sides. British formations holding positions at o6.oo hours yesterday now retired. First/Middlesex badly mauled and incapable of further action.

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Replacements now advancing in preparation of next assault from e. of Polygon Wood to (targets) Jetty Wood, Joist Farm and Jetty Warren at o6.oo hours 4th October. Objectives to be finally determined by Brigade Commanders in conjunction with GSO/ Fourth Army. Await further orders, due 2o.oo hours. All battalion commanders advised by GSO Intelligence/ Fourth Army that enemy morale now at breaking point. Very heavy losses in German assault battalions confirmed by prisoners taken in trench raid nr. Jetty Wood this morning. Ends. GSO Divisional Intelligence ++++++++++++++++++++ You note your daily reports and see that heavy casualties were inflicted in the German spoiling attack on B Company, 12/13 Northumberland Fusiliers. They have lost approximately 55 men, with around the same number wounded, in the fierce fighting in Polygon Wood. As a result , 3/4Queens and 1/Lincoln will have to bear the brunt of the infantry work in the attack on 4 October. (You still have not received replacements for 10/Yorkshire, the fourth battalion in your Brigade, which were very badly shelled on advancing to Polygon Wood by German artillery on the morning of 2 October). You now need to set objectives for the assault on 4 October with your remaining forces.

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You can see from the edge of Polygon Wood that the ground rises up to Jetty Wood in the north of the area. Your Divisional and Corps Commanders regard the Jetty Wood section as critical to the success of the Broodseinde/ Gheluvelt attack. Please locate two objectives for your attack in the blue dotted area which your forces will be expected to take and hold for the duration of 4th October. Weather It is now raining heavily. The ground is turning to slime and heavy mud where it has been badly shelled. Heres one description of the state of the ground at about this time: The whole area, many square miles of it, is really a sea of mud caused by intense shelling , which destroyed the drainage system , and the result was a thick, gluey mud, ankle and at times thigh deep, difficult to move through Private Jack Horner, 8/Leicesters (Polygon Wood, Nigel Cave (1999), pp80) Where is the enemy? - You cant easily tell, but you know that there are small concrete blockhouses on the east and west of the Polygonbeek and Jetty Warren. Heaven only know whats lurking in Jetty Wood or Juniper Wood. You know that Cameron Covert has been heavily fought over during the last couple of days and that the Germans had previously used this to pass reinforcements into Polygon Wood. The Germans have most been pushed out of Cameron Covert, but local counterattacks are continuing on a small scale on a daily basis to try and regain the Cameron Covert. Joist Farm is certainly occupied by the Enemy. What you need to do now Please let me know the two objectives for your attack. Do you want to do any reconnaissance of the ground before the attack, and if so where? You do not have much time left for this before 4 October. Let me know what you want to use for the reconnaissance do it in person, a raiding party, a platoon, company scale probing attack, something else. Your Divisional Commander has informed you that the Tank Corps will participate in the 4th October assault. Apparently, Both Field Marshal Haig and General Plumer (Commander of the British Second Army) have been persuaded by Brigadier-General Elles of the Tank Corps that tanks can still operate on the current ground. Haig in particularly is rumoured to be a big supporter of the tanks.

What do you want to do?: (i) attempt to make contact with the Tank Corps battalion which will be operating in your area? (ii) complain to your Divisional Commander and try and persuade him that tanks are a liability in the current terrain and weather? (iii) send a list of objectives to your Division Commander which you think the tanks may have a good chance of capturing on the basis that if you cant prevent their use, you can at least seek to deploy them correctly? ***************** British Command Response, 3rd October

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Two objectives identified Jetty Wood and Joist Farm. To the north, close to Jetty Wood, I want wire cutting patrols covered by fighting patrols to breach the wire in front of Jetty Wood. I will personally recce the main road leading to the bridge across Polygonebeck by making as much use of the ground cleared in Cameron Covert as is possible. Ideally I will do this accompanies by Elles of the Tank Corps. My objective is to ascertain if the road itself can take tanks for a limited objective attack against Joist Farm and also to observe the north-south road that runs from Joist Farm to Jetty Wood to see is that seems practicable for tanks. As a GSO I will then present my findings on the practicalities of that. I shall not attempt to persuade or dissuade, merely to state my observations. ***************** Umpires Response Your recce (as GSO ) along the main road leading to the bridge across Polygonebeck can take place at any time on 3rd October. If your report determines that the ground is suitable for tanks, you would need to give the Tank Corps at least 6 hours notice to allow them to deploy forward from their tankodrome in the rear. Let me know when you want to recce morning, afternoon, or dusk. Brigadier Elles of the Tank Corps is engaged on other duties and cannot accompany your recce in person. However, he calls you by field telephone (he is quite charming) and tells you he is sending his intelligence officer to accompany you. The intelligence officer arrives about two hours later at 10am. Hes a small, dark, wiry man with cold eyes called Captain Hotblack. The Captain is very interested in showing you a series of remarkable swamp maps which he says chart the flooding in the Salient and therefore the places where tanks can and cant go. He says the road all the way to Reutel should be able to bear tanks easily enough. Do you: (a) (b) (c) trust Captain Hotblack and not bother with the recce yourself; or politely inform Captain Hotblack that you want to see for yourself; or dismiss the Captain as a harmless lunatic, clearly one of the Tank Corps band of brigands and go out and recce for yourself anyway? ************************** British Command Response, 3rd October I take course (b), immediately. *********************** Umpires Response Your reconnaissance goes well, but as you reach the relative safety of Black Watch Corner (at the south east edge of Polygon Wood where the 62 Brigade headquarters is located) you reflect on how even a brief recce in the Salient can become a terrifying experience in a short time. At 10am you tracked Cameron Copse for about 100 yards to the most forward British outpost, held by 15/ Durham Light Infantry. The DLI told you that they thought the German infantry in Cameron Covert had mostly pulled back to the south, and possibly out of the wood entirely.

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There was some shelling going on by both sides further to the North, but it was mainly desultory and passing overhead. Your scouting party consisted of you, Captain Hotblack, two privates from the 12/13 Northumberland Fusiliers attached as runners and one of the reconnaissance officers from B battalion of the Tank Corps, a young second Lieutenant called Toby Lemsford. You advanced into the open, scrambling across the shell holes and craters which now litter the ground. You skirted the road from Polygon Wood to Reutel to within about 80 yards of Juniper Trench where it crosses that road. You recced Joist Farm from around 100 yards. It appears to be very lightly held with no more than a platoon of infantry. it is wired, but not heavily. Juniper Trench is also lightly held and wired, but much of the trench-work appears to have been destroyed by artillery fire. The road condition as far as Juniper Trench is intact. It is a typical Belgian pave, a paved road laid on gravel. It is covered with mud (you and Hotblack know from experience these can cause tanks to skid) but quite negotiable. The Germans have placed a couple of barriers from fallen trees in front of the bridge over the Polygonbeek, but they are hastily constructed and should not pose an insurmountable obstacle. Off the road, the terrain on either side of the road to Joist Farm is poor (but not abysmal). After around Joist Farm the ground on either side of the road looks much better, possibly as a result of being slightly higher up on the way to Reutel. There was very little German air activity. You did see some scouts and reconnaissance plaes of the RFC. On the way towards the bridge over the Polygonbeek you were fired upon by at least one sniper. You clearly heard four shots. One of the Northumberland Fusiliers was shot through the head. You are glad that you remembered to swap your red-tabbed tunic and riding breeches for the uniform of a private before you left. The recce in total took about two hours. The rain is steady, and the ground is slowly turning very muddy. Hotblack is adamant that the tanks can pass on the road as far as Reutel (he politely shows you the swamp maps again), and can even pass off-road given proper guide tapes. Lemsford confirms this, saying hes seen far worse ground in the Salient. Hotblack and Lemsford leave you at about 1pm, but looks forward to hearing from you. You see Lemsford has his own car and driver in which he gives Hotblack a lift. You idly wonder where these young subalterns get their money.. What you need to do now: You'll be expected to confirm to the Brigade Commander that your troops are ready for zero hour (tomorrow morning at 0500 hours). If you want tanks (and how many), you'll need to tell the Tank Corps (i.e. tell me, as umpire) and they will send them - hopefully. As Joist Farm appeared to be lightly held, you may want to have a secondary objective (Blue Line). After you have told me what you want to do, I shall make both sides' moves and let you know what happens. ***************************

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Jetty Wood British Tank Corps Briefing 1st October 1917 It is 1st October 1917. The Third Battle of Ypres is raging to the east of the town. In this game, you will be playing the role of a section commander in the Tank Corps, Captain The Honourable Roger GustardWoode. You will receive a series of emails, focused on different aspects of your command and mission. These emails will be different from those sent to the other British player in the pre-game period (who will be playing a variety of roles ranging from Sir Douglas Haig to a company commander in the 1st battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, part of 62 Brigade, 21st Division). Please reply to these emails, as the decisions you make may influence the forces available to you during the club game, the time when they arrive and the precise terrain over which the game will be fought. However, very broadly speaking, the club game will be fought over the ground to the east of Polygon Wood. The area of operations in which the game is sited is the area on the attached map (Map 1) between Jetty Wood to the North, Cameron Covert to the South, the eastern edge of Polygon Wood and Jetty Warren in the east. EMAIL NUMBER 1 Background: As part of the Battle of Third Ypres, staged by Sir Douglas Haig to break out of the Ypres Salient. British and Imperial forces have successfully cleared Polygon Wood in late September 1917, advancing to the east. Casualties have been heavy and German resistance has been tougher than expected, although rumours abound that the Enemys morale is close to cracking. The weather has stayed dry and now the stage is set for the next phase of the battle. This is capture of the Gheluvelt Plateau and the occupation of Broodseinde Ridge. This should protect the southern flank of the British line around the Salient and permit attacks on the Passchendaele Ridge further to the east. Who you are: You are Captain The Honourable Roger Gustard-Woode, a section commander in, No.3 Company, B battalion of the Tank Corps. Think about your background, and how you got to be in the Tank Corps and let me know. Youre clearly some sort of aristocrat. But are you an impatient junior officer who swopped his cavalry lance for the Lewis gun of a tank commanders seat, frustrated by the lack of chances for glory behind the lines? Are you the sort of young chap always tinkering with new fangled automobile engines, eager to get back home and riding your new motor-bicycle? Or are you just a square peg in a round hole, well-connected no doubt but just looking for something a little bit different in the War where you can muck in and do your bit? The early Tank Corps officers were a really mixed bunch. However, what comes through from their writings and letters was that they were almost all independently minded and resourceful. Bear that in mind, as your role in the game has been cast with that in mind. What you know: B Battalion was posted to the Ypres Salient in July 1917. The Battalion have seen action twice, around Sanctuary Wood, Inverness Copse and Glencourse Wood. The actions were fairly chaotic, with tanks bogging down in very bad ground (July and August had been wet, turning much of the shell-pocked ground into a morass) and being targeted by German artillery fire. Your section of four Mark IV tanks was not heavily engaged at first, but then became subjected to some very unpleasant attentions from a battery of German field guns. By pure chance, none of the tanks in your section was hit, and then your tank bogged down. Your supporting infantry did not achieve their objectives and consequently you feel as if youre under a bit of a cloud.

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Rather than paraphrase the events, heres a description from a letter from one of the officers who was in that action: Well, I guess you will want some news of how I got on in the show the day before yesterday. To start with we had putrid weather and worse ground. In accordance with orders I started off at 6.50am and at once came under heavy shell fire. An officer who was coming up with me was hit in the knee five minutes after starting. I was guiding the Dodo as the ground was so bad and was expecting to be hit every second. We went on slowly and eventually reached the ridge on which our first line was and here struck an awful barrage and came under machine gun fire. Owing to the latter, which was swishing all around and kicking sparks off our car, I had to get inside. Two minutes after, the bus sank half its height into the ground and stopped. On investigation, we found the earth pressure on the belly had bulged it and damaged the engine. I got hold of some of our salvage men and sent them back for tools, hoping to get going again later and got my crew into a trench. A salvage officer had his left arm blown off about this time. The men I sent for the tools returned some two hours later at least half of them did, the remainder having been knocked out and half the tools with them. So I was done for. Just then a Bosche plane came flying 100 feet up and actually dropped bombs on my bus and fired machine guns at us. He hit neither. (Second Lieutenant Arthur Dalby, Tank Action in the Great War by Ian Verrinder, pp77-78, 2009) Your experiences were pretty similar. However, now the advance has moved on through Polygon Wood, and it looks like you will have another chance to show your bravery and skill. Importantly, September has been very dry, and the ground looks firm. But, will the weather hold . ? What you need to do first: Consider the questions below, and let me know what you want to do by email. Also, please give me some idea of who you are (see section Who You Are above). You have only a limited time over the next few days. Do you spend it (a) improving relations in a responsible manner with the infantry who you think will be supporting your attack; or (b) improve relations by getting blind drunk with the officers of the infantry who you think you will be supporting in your attack; (c) checking spares and running conditions of your tanks; or (d) do something else? You are limited in how much you can carry in each of your own (personal) tank. Do you choose to take (a) more signaling gear; (b) pigeons; (c) additional spares; (d) additional ammunition? You are also given the choice for your section of four tanks to be accompanied by a Supply Tank (an older tank with only one machine gun but carrying a variety of spares, ditching beams, chains, ammunition, petrol, oil, grease, whisky and (on one occasion at Cambrai later in 1917) a dining table and chairs. Do you (a) request that the Supply Tank joins your section; (b) strip the Supply tank of the most useful supplies; (c) get the crew of the Supply Tank to join the four tanks of your section to act as replacements in case of casualties (theres just enough in the tanks for the extra crew to fit in); (d) something else. You have a little personal time on 1st October 1917. Do you (a) write a letter to

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Ms Honoria Roundwood, your fianc in Hertfordshire; (b) study maps of the area where youll be fighting; (c) conduct a personal reconnaissance on foot near the eastern edge of Polygon Wood; or (d) practice changing the barrel on your lewis gun blindfolded?

What happens next: The next email will give you information about the terrain within the area shown in dotted lines on the map below, more details about the tanks and ancillary forces at your disposal and will ask you questions about the route you will take your tanks on. You will also get information concerning the overall British plans and objectives in the pre-game. ******************* British Tank Corps Commanders Response Captain The Honourable Roger Gustard-Woode is part of the landed gentry. His great grandfather had been influential in the development of corn thrashing machines, on the basis of which the family fortune was made. The Captain, like his father, took a keen interest in the workings of the farms and estate, and the introduction of machinery into the working day. It is for this reason he chose the tank instead of the lance, following his keen interest in farming machinery. A keen sportsman, Roger is often seen carrying a hockey stick, a hangover from his university days as First team captain. A rather social chap, his keenness to encourage a corps de sprit amongst his men can sometimes take precedence over his other duties. However, Roger is rather hands on in terms of the technology at his desposal, and can happily spend hours talking and working alongside his engineers and crews, and often when other duties are to be attended to. Captain Gustard-Woode has chosen to spend time with his crew and their machines, tinkering with their new technology- sometimes to the annoyance of the engineers! In respect of extra equipment, the Captain recognises the importance of clear communications, and therefore has given orders for extra signaling equipment. Pigeons? Only for dinner! We cant dillydally waiting for a supply tank to keep up, lets strip the damn thing of anything useful and take it with us. The crew of this supply tank can ensure a warm welcome for us on our return. Practice changing the barrel on the lewis gun blindfolded, the Captain can already do this with an Enfield rifle, so may as well spend the time doing something of interest. Do we not have a navigator to study maps? As for Honoria Roundwood, she will have to wait..... ***********************

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Jetty Wood German Command Briefing 1st October 1917 It is 1st October 1917. The Third battle of Ypres is raging to the east of the town. In this pre-game period, you will play a variety of German Commanders, ranging from Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria to a company commander in the 14th Reserve Infantry Regiment, part of the 19th Reserve Division, recently transferred to Flanders from Riga in the Baltic. You will receive a series of emails, focused on different levels of command. Please reply to these, as the decisions you make will influence the forces available to the German side during the club game and the precise terrain over which the game will be fought. However, broadly speaking, the club game will be fought over the ground to the east of Polygon Wood. The area of operations in which the game is sited is the area on the attached map (Map 1) between Jetty wood to the North, Cameron Covert to the South, the eastern edge of Polygon Wood and Jetty Warren in the east. EMAIL NUMBER 1 Background: You are Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, in charge of the German forces defending the Ypres Salient. German forces have been pushed out of Polygon Wood in late September 1917, retreating to the east. Casualties have been heavy. It is imperative that the British do not break out of the Ypres Salient and threaten eastwards towards the railheads at Roulers and the captured Channel ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge. Your position is restricted by the topography and the Channel coast making local withdrawals impossible. You are hopeful that the weather will deteriorate into the Autumn, and you must hold on until then. What you need to do: You need to decide on your overall strategy for the Battle of Broodseinde. Choose from the following: Tactical Doctrine Method of defense Choices Hold the Line - strengthening front line garrisons in order to stall British attacks before they build momentum, holding back of the specialist Eingreif divisions (which are to be used instead for forestalling attacks and counterattacks later during the Enemys attack) Eingrief Doctrine holding forward areas very thinly, soaking up British attacks and launching vigorous local counter-attacks as soon as possible without waiting. This is what has been tried so far in the Third Battle of Ypres (die FlanderenSchlact), but to your mind unsuccessfully. While the British attacks have been slowed, they have not been stopped. Operation Hohenstaufen if you can launch a spoiling attack on the British lines as they form up, you may well surprise the British in a disorganised state, thereby forcing them to reinforce their forward positions where the your artillery can engage them.

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Artillery Doctrine

Annihilating Fire concentration on defensive fire along the British front lines, preventing the attack proceeding Gas Barrages gassing the British held areas with mustard gas, and thereby retarding Enemy movement and reinforcement

Counterbattery concentration of artillery resources on counter-battery fire. Rear areas bombardment concentration of fire on British second and third line and reserve areas, interdicting their reserve and reinforcement formations, duckboard tracks and field railways. Pot Luck a mixture of the Artillery Doctrines listed above (please specify)

********************************* German Commanders Response Let's launch a spoiling attack on Tommy Atkins before he can form up!! Operation Hohenstaufen if you can launch a spoiling attack on the British lines as they form up, you may well surprise the British in a disorganised state, thereby forcing them to reinforce their forward positions where the your artillery could engage them. Annihilating Fire concentration on defensive fire along the British front lines, preventing the attack proceeding ********************************** Jetty Wood German Command Briefing #2 4th October 1917 It is still 1st October 1917. This is your second email in the pre-game campaign for Jetty Wood. You are now playing a Kampftruppenkommandeur (KTK) (commander of forward troops) in the 14th Reserve Infantry Regiment. This email requires you to work through some of the detail of the deployment of troops and logistics around Jetty Wood, Juniper Wood and Jetty Warren. Relevant information is set out below. Please ask if you need more, or if anything is not clear. Please also refer to the map in which the actual game will be set. You have already chosen your Method of Defence and Artillery Doctrine. This email is all about working out some of the details of that. Military Forces Available

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Your forces available for the defence of your sector are as follows: 14th Reserve Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion, containing 3 companies (recently transferred form Riga. Decent fighters, but not familiar with the horrors of war in die Flandernschlacht). All companies are understrength. 1st Battalion, containing 3 companies (recently transferred form Riga. Decent fighters, but not familiar with the horrors of war in die Flandernschlacht). All companies are slightly under-strength. Specialist troops A depleted company of Stosstruppen from 3rd battalion, 229th Reserve Infantry Regiment. This unit was in action in a spoiling attack in Polygon Wood on 23 September. While it suffered casualties, it is still a first-rate fighting unit, although its fighting value has been significantly depleted. A battery of three 77mm field guns and supporting troops/ gunners. These can be placed in concealed positions near the front lines, dragged forward by infantry (very slowly) or reserved in rear positions. Good support is promised from very low flying German ground attack aircraft from SchlactStaffeln 21.

3rd Battery, 18th Bavarian Foot Artillery Battalion

SchlachtStaffeln 21

All battalion officers have been informed that commanders on the spot, from Zug (platoon) upwards, must act on their own initiative and as circumstances dictate, but must also inform superior officers up the chain of command of local events (objectives defended, enemy attacks, etc.). From previous actions, you know that formations become inter-mingled and confused very quickly in the chaos of a large assault. Terrain Please turn to the map at the end of this briefing. Your forces can be deployed anywhere east of the red dotted line in the map below. The red dots hatched with black show the position of existing prefabricated concrete blockhouses (in addition to the fortifications mentioned in the table below).

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Rather than me describe the area, heres an extract from the War Diary of the British 62nd Brigade: The place of assembly was thirty feet below the first objective and in full view of the enemy. Three streams separated the opposing forces. Each stream ran through soft and boggy ground 50 yards in width. This ground had been churned by continuous shelling to an almost impenetrable morass. Scrub covered the slopes of the small spurs and this was heavily wired. About 50 yards to the east of the Polygonbeek and again to the east of Jetty warren concrete blockhouses, some containing three compartments and each provided with loopholes and manned by garrisons of 20 to 30 with machine guns and trench mortars, commanded all approaches . 4 or 5 feet deep trenches were sited on all the prominent positions. The beds of the stream were swept by machine gun fire from Cameron Covert and Polderhoek Chateau. As seen in Daylight, after the attack, the position seemed impregnable. War Diary of 62 Brigade You can see from the edge of Polygon Wood that the ground rises up to Jetty Wood in the north of the area. Please also feel free to place the following defensive fortifications anywhere in the east of the red dotted line in the map above. Other fortifications are marked on the map: KTK Bunker One large prefabricated concrete blockhouse, known as the A-Stellung (A Position) from which you, as the KTK, will command your forces Five smaller prefabricated concrete blockhouses, each large enough for a section or two of troops

MEBUs

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and a machine gun. Artillery Stellung Three prepared artillery positions (one artillery piece in each). British tank commanders found these almost impossible to locate until they were almost on top of them (see photo below)

Weather - It has started to rain on the afternoon of 1st October. A light drizzle at present Who knows whats to come Your tactics - In the first email, you identified that you wanted to launch a spoiling attack on British positions along the eastern edge of Polygon Wood. Your choice was very interesting, and quite historical, as you will see as you read on. Crown Prince Rupprecht, commander of German forces in Flanders, considers that holding the positions in front of Reutel village is critical to holding onto the Ypres Salient. Heres what he wrote on 24 September: We cannot tolerate the idea of the enemy firmly in control of the Zonnebeke heights or the Gheluveld [Plateau]. They are now so close to achieving this that the fear must be that they will achieve it with their next attack. We must ensure that our counter-strokes during the next enemy assaults are driven right up to their planned objectives (German Army at Passchendaele, Jack Sheldon, pp 166) During the fighting in September 1917, the usual Eingrief tactics had been seen to be both costly and a failure in the face of immense British pressure. The German Fourth Army commissioned a study of the fighting. Here are a couple of extracts: In order to wear down and destroy the enemy [British] infantry in the same way as the enemy attempts to do to our infantry, there is to be an increased concentration on the engagement of the enemy infantry. Most of the field artillery is to be used I this way..Large amounts of gas [shells] are to be used against enemy [battery] positions and the enemy forward battle zone. Army headquarters will issue orders separately for these Major Gas Engagements. Each of the Groups will also direct smaller scale gas shoots against the infantry whenever the wind is favourable. Extensive use is to be made of gas-filled mortar bombswe have to force the enemy, therefore, constantly to maintain larger forces in their forward battle zone and to place their reserves further forward, so that our artillery has worthwhile infantry targets to engage. This can only be done if we launch attacks ourselves, preferably during the intervals between their attacks, so that we can disrupt their plans. This will force the enemy, if they are to be able to hold on to the ground which they have won, to launch costly counter-attacks against which we can deploy maximum firepower (German Army at Passchendaele, Jack Sheldon, pp 186188) Where is the enemy? - You cant easily tell, but you know that the British have occupied the eastern edge of Polygon Wood. They have also almost cleared Cameron Covert, which German forces have being using to infiltrate men into Polygon Wood in the past few weeks. What you need to do now

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Tell me where your infantry and artillery forces are deployed (feel free to draw them on a map); Tell me where your KTK, MEBUs and artillery Stellungs are located. Provide me of details of the spoiling attack you want to make, and the units you want to participate in it. Please let me know the main objectives for your attack, and when the attack will take place (2nd, 3rd, 4th October, etc., dawn, morning, afternoon, etc. etc.) Do you want to do any reconnaissance of the ground before the attack, and if so where? Let me know what you want to use for the reconnaissance do it in person? a raiding party? a platoon? something else (what?). Let me know if you have a specific plan for the 3rd Battery, 18th Bavarian Foot Artillery Battalion? Let me know if you want to man-handle them forward in the spoiling attack, deploy them in the Artillery Stelllungs or keep in the rear (and if so where).

Please remember, the longer you wait to launch your spoiling attack, the greater the chance your troops may be rested or even reinforced (replacement troops, specialist ammunition, specialist artillery units, better aerial spotting). However, the longer you leave your attack, you may have to face adverse weather. Also, you have a suspicion that the British have another attack planned.but when? ********************* German Commanders Response Couple of questions:

How many men per company?


Can my artillery use smoke? Can I use my planes to spot? ************************* Umpires Response

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A standard rifle company would, at full strength, have three platoons each with 36 men. This gives a company strength of 108, plus a headquarters section. Say about 115 for a full strength company. There are four rifle companies per battalion. In battlefield conditions, a company may be reduced by anything between 90% and 60%, giving some front line companies a size of little more than 70 men. In battle conditions (i.e. survivors), companies could fall to 40 men owing to casualties. Accurate information is very difficult for you to to obtain under the current conditions. Yes, your artillery can use smoke. Please specify percentage proportions (ie HE, gas (and type), smoke) as well as approximate locations or standard doctrine.

2.

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3.

Yes, the SchlachtStaffeln planes can spot. That would help you to find the British artillery and troops and anything else they have, but that will take them away from ground attacking support roles. ************************ German Commanders Response

Instructions to Stosstruppen Commanders: You will be deployed forward and will attack at dawn on 2/October. Artillery bombardments will support your attack, with 2 % smoke and 8o% HE. The Artillery will fire 4 barrages of HE, then l smoke, to keep the smoke down and retain some visibility in Polygon Wood. As we are attacking at dawn, we shall deploy our standard tactic of laying smoke down as well as a creeping barrage with our troops moving up behind. No gas will be used as the prevailing wind will be westerly. Scouts will recce overnight if possible with the results fed back to me. Post-battle planning The plan would be to use the Stosstruppen for the spoiling raid, then retire back to my lines, let Tommy think I am committing my full force, get him out to come forward, then use the other companies to hold the block houses in mutually supporting lines (elastic). Can I hold companies off table in reserve if I do will they be subject to casualties? Obviously the aircraft will be no good if I have put smoke down, I would therefore use them to attack British artillery in its rear. ****************************** Umpires response Where is the attack taking place all along the eastern edge of Poygon Wood, or at one specific point? I can understand that you might want to defer that decision until a reconnaissance has been undertaken. Please can you locate your KTK and five MEBU blockhouses and 3 Artillery Stellung on the map (or tell me where they are). If your troops fall back on the blockhouses, Id like to know where you have located them. (I know if it a bit unrealistic for you to locate blockhouses the Wilhelm Stellung running through Jetty Wood and Juniper Wood was built a year earlier in 1916. However, I wanted to give you some choice over where the key defensive line is located). I would like some recce done overnight if possible with the results fed back to me. Understood. Where do you want the reconnaissance to be undertaken? All along the edge of Polygon Wood, or on one particular location? Can I hold companies off table in reserve if I do will they be subject to casualties? As mentioned above, not all your troops will be on the physical table at the Club during the game. In fact, very few will be. Troops in second lines of defence, rear positions, etc. can be fired on by the British.

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Both sides and Third Ypres relentlessly interdicted their enemys troop replacements, supply columns, narrow-gauge railheads, crossroads and reserve divisions throughout the battle. Ill be trying to reflect some of that in the pre-game as we go on. The effect of me doing this might not even factor through into the game at the Club.but on the other hand, it might depending on where your troops have been located. Obviously the planes will be no good if I have put smoke down, I would therefore use them to attack British artillery in its rear. Understood. The German SchlachtStaffeln frequently targeted British artillery batteries at Third Ypres, so again this is realistic. You should also be aware that many British accounts also pointed out that the SchlachtStaffeln were relentless in attacking British formations in the forward battle line, frequently attacking from a height of 100 feet or less, and even shouting encouragement to German forces on the ground. *********************** German Commanders Response The plan is to position my Stosstruppen in the 3 most westerly positions already on the map, they will jump off from this point and attack the British forces in a spoiling attack. The ordinary line infantry to hold the rear positions with the artillery, they are not experienced trench fighters so they will held back, give covering fire, and hold their positions if and when the British beat off the Stosstruppen and attack. **************************** Jetty Wood German Command Briefing #3 (following from the first tabletop game) 3rd October 1917 This is your third email in the pre-game campaign for Jetty Wood. This email follows on from the game played on Tuesday 6th December 2011 on the eastern edge of Polygon Wood, and is principally to update you on the results of that action and get some additional information about how you want to organize your defences. You are playing a Kampftruppenkommandeur (KTK) (commander of forward troops) in the 14th Reserve Infantry Regiment, Major Joachim von Bek. It is now the morning of 3rd October 1917. It is raining hard. You receive the following dispatch from the Divisional Staff Officer in charge of military intelligence. ++++++++ l4th Reserve Infantry Regiment Daily Report o8.oo hours, 3rd October Report on Stosstruppen spoiling attack 2nd October along east side of Polygon Wood. No breakthrough achieved. No ground held in Polygon Wood. Some localised success. Our artillery dominated Enemy artillery throughout reports from SchlactStaffeln 2l report very

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heavy disruption and interdiction of Enemy rear areas and Enemy field batteries. Several Englnder infantry battalions believed to have been badly mauled and now out of action. Intelligence currently being assimilated from Enemy prisoners taken in Polygon Wood and Cameron Covert.

Stosstruppen from 3rd battalion, 229th Reserve Infantry Regiment suffered very heavy casualties and have been withdrawn for regrouping to Gruppe Cambrai. Heavy casualties also suffered in two companies of 2nd Battalion, l4th Reserve Infantry Regiment. Imperative that all Kampftruppenkommandeur prepare for expected renewed attack by Enemy Divisions in area of Jetty Wood, Joist Farm and Jetty Warren. Attack expected imminently.
Ends. Lt. Otto Ilgner, l4 Reserve Infantry Regiment, Intelligence Abteilung ++++++++ You have some final planning of your forces, in preparation of the British onslaught you soon expect to suffer.

Terrain - Please refer to the German Command Email #2 for details of the terrain.

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Weather It is now raining heavily. The ground is turning to slime and heavy mud where it has been badly shelled. Heres one description of the state of the ground at about this time: The whole area, many square miles of it, is really a sea of mud caused by intense shelling , which destroyed the drainage system , and the result was a thick, gluey mud, ankle and at times thigh deep, difficult to move through Private Jack Horner, 8/Leicesters (Polygon Wood, Nigel Cave (1999), pp 80) Where is the enemy? - You cant easily tell, but you know that the British will have re-occupied the eastern edge of Polygon Wood. They have also almost cleared Cameron Covert, which German forces have being using to infiltrate men into Polygon Wood in the past few weeks.

What you need to do now: Let me know if you have a specific plan for the 3rd Battery, 18th Bavarian Foot Artillery Battalion? They did not participate in the spoiling attack and have (so far) not been targeted by British counter-battery fire. The local commander has been moving the guns frequently. Do you: (i) want to keep moving the guns between a number of concealed positions and deploy them forward from rear areas as late as possible? (ii) deploy the guns now in the Artillery Stelllungs?; (iii) keep the guns in the rear (and if so where are they located). At a localised level, how do you want to organise your line troops (Stellungsbattalionkmpfer)? There are several (historical) choices: Position your troops predominantly in the front line to stop British artillery box barrages preventing you reinforcing positions and field fortifications which come under British attack? Keep most of your infantry forces to the rear of your front line, relying on terrain to channel the Enemy into killing grounds and onto your field fortifications and Artillery Stellungs? Place a small number of your troops forward of your front line (and if so which ones) to enfilade Enemy formations crossing no mans land, with the bulk of your forces in either (a) your front line; or (b) your rear areas? Do something different (and if so, what?) ********************* German Commanders Response Here is the German plan. Artillery dug in.

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All the troops on the table as far back as possible. Assuming that the weather has turned, it will be muddy and the British forces will be moving very slowly. Hopefully we can get them in the open. ****************** Umpires Response I have a few umpiring questions: 1. 2. Can I please check where your front line troops are, please? just let me know generally. I am assuming that they are around the I pillboxes and artillery I? Is that correct? Let me know if you have a specific plan for the 3rd Battery, 18th Bavarian Foot Artillery Battalion? They did not participate in the spoiling attack and have (so far) not been targeted by British counter-battery fire. The local commander has been moving the guns frequently. Do you: (i) want to keep moving the guns between a number of concealed positions and deploy them forward from rear areas as late as possible? (this will help avoid counter-battery fire, but may mean the guns are in the wrong place at the wrong time); (ii) deploy the guns now in the Artillery Stelllungs? (they will be impossible to detect from the air, should be safe from counter-battery fire, but may be in the wrong place as the British advance); or (iii) keep the guns in the rear (and if so where are they located) - again, the guns would be safe but would need to be brought forward, or kept to fire off-table). 3. At a localised level, how do you want to organise your line troops (Stellungsbattalionkmpfer)? From your email I think you want toKeep most of your infantry forces to the rear of your front line, relying on terrain to channel the Enemy into killing grounds and onto your field fortifications and Artillery Stellungs? Is that correct? Assuming you have snipers in your force, do you want to deploy them forward of your front line, or on the main line (ie hiding around the pillboxes) or in the rear taking shots at distance (less effective but safer for the snipers)? Are you occupying Jetty Wood and / or Joist Farm? This would be a very unusual move, as once the British take these positions, they will be very hard to dislodge. However, as the Kampftruppenkommandeur, local tactical decisions rest entirely with you. ******************* German Commanders Response All troops are to be dug in, around pill boxes etc., I do not want to move them during the game, as the weather is filthy, the artillery will be in the Stelllungs. As regards the snipers I want to keep everything at the back of the table so I can have a large arc of fire. In my view, this is not fire and movement terrain - for the defenders, it is plainly fire and fire. Killing grounds are the key to my defence.

4.

5.

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Can I use wire to channel the enemy - this would be very useful. What way is the wind blowing? Can my artillery batteries shell with mustard gas in front of my positions if there is an Easterly, not a Westerly? By the way I have been called many things in my life but a Kampftruppenkommandeur is a new one!! ********************* German Game Briefing the Battle of the Reutel Road, 0645 hours, 4th October 1917 You are Hauptmann Ulrich von Bek, a very experienced junior officer from a proud Prussian military family. The British onslaught is, as you feared, unleashed early on the morning of 4th October with another hour of drumfire on your forward and rear positions. Your small defending garrisons along the edge of Jetty Wood and in Joist Farm have been shattered by the initial British artillery barrage. The Blockhouse to the north of the Polygon Wood-Reutel road has been destroyed by super-heavy artillery, possibly by a British rail gun. All communications from your KTK bunker to your rear areas is cut, and the runners you have sent back to your battalion command have not returned. About 6.30am, the barrage has jumped on towards Jetty Warren and Reutel. Scouts at the edge of Juniper Wood have reported that British tanks can be heard and seen along the road, preceded by a fairly light creeping barrage. You have no idea what is happening in and around Jetty Warren, although you can see the explosions from more British heavy artillery targeting the MEBU pillboxes and bunkers in those areas. You have a small headquarters section in the KTK, with two or three sections in shellholes to the rear of the KTK ready to reinforce defenses in your forward battle zone as required. The British must not break through your lines. If possible, hold them up for as long as possible to prevent their movement towards Reutel village, thereby allowing your artillery to target their formations or your SchlachtStaffeln to attack them from the air. The wind is blowing from the north-east to the south-west. You can call for artillery support from your rear areas, but there is no guarantee you will get it as your telephone cables are cut. You can send a runner (or more than one) but he (or they) will have to come off your Troop allocations. The supporting artillery can fire gas (or any type) or HE. The field gun can only fire HE (they have no gas shells). Your HMG can fire SmK armour piercing ammunition, but the LMG cannot. Both HMG and LMG can be placed in the I. The British will see your pillboxes when they are very close (30 yards). However, your artillery Stellung is very well camouflaged and cannot be easily be spotted (base roll of 11 on 2d6), but will reveal its position if you fire. Review the attached map and troop deployments, and think through where you want to deploy your forces in the game. Forces Experience/ Morale Unit Formation

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Section 8 rifles

Average troops, reasonable morale Average troops, reasonable morale Average troops, reasonable morale Average troops, reasonable morale Average troops, reasonable morale Average proficiency

Remnants of 2 Platoon Remnants of 2 Platoon

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Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment

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Section 6 rifles, 1 x LMG MG08/15 (2 man team) Section 8 rifles

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Remnants of 3rd Platoon Remnants of 3rd Platoon


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Section 8 rifles

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HMG Maxim MG08 (5 man crew) 2 snipers

Remnants of 2 Platoon
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14 Reserve Infantry Regiment assets

77mm M1916 field gun and crew of 6 Section (8 men plus 1d6) armed with (i) grenade satchels and concentration charges; or (ii) trench cleaners (determine randomly)

Veteran troops, reasonable morale Average troops, reasonable morale

3 Battery (might arrive as reserves with Hpt. von Bek)

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18 Bavarian Artillery Battalion

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Foot
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Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment

Big Man Gefreiter Hans Fassbinder Gefreiter Albrecht Weber Gefreiter Fritz Adler

Status I I I

Unit Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment
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Gefreiter Dieter Jaeger HauptFeldwebel Kurt Schmidt Hauptmann Ulrich von Bek (Kampftruppenkommandeur)

I III IV

Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment Second Company, 14 Reserve Infantry Regiment
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