Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Who do you think you are kidding? A solo scenario.

I wanted to do something different, a touch of the world turned upside down. We have plenty of scenarios for British Commandoes landing on the coast of occupied Europe. But what about the other way round. So in this scenario, on the 17th of November 1942 a German merchant ship, a blockade runner, has been forced north by bad weather and finally runs aground off the British coast. The captain and crew get ashore.
They radioed home to say what was happening and were told if they could hold out for only a few days, and made their way to a certain beach, they would be picked up by E boat. Given this will be a return trip for the E boat of over 1200 miles and they have a range of about 800 miles this will take some juggling.

November 1942 was carefully chosen by me. There was bad weather, followed by a calm spell. It was also relatively mild. 1942 did see some blockade runners make it from the Far East, normally to France so the scenario isn’t entirely ridiculous. Also Hitler had issued his infamous commando order on the 7th October. “In future, all terror and sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices, who do not act like soldiers but rather like bandits, will be treated as such by the German troops and will be ruthlessly eliminated in battle, wherever they appear.” For the German player it is just another problem, is it wise to ‘borrow’ British uniforms or civilian clothes?

Also to help justify the risks of rescuing this small band, the Führer (no less) has asked that they acquire an English policeman or post mistress. This will enable him to show to the German people that it’s not just the allies who can land their people on foreign coasts.

So as our German force rows/wades ashore what have you got?
I’m running this for Hell and Uncivil Disorder, where troops fall into three classes.

In this scenario you have;-

  • Riflemen. These are the crew members who some experience serving as German Naval Infantry, who were on the boat to provide extra security.
  • Gunmen. These are the crew members who have, in theory at least, done their basic training. Mind you, they might have done it for the 1914-18 war.
  • Thugs. These are the people who are not really crewmen. They are a mixture of genuine merchant seamen, some perhaps not of German origin, so they can speak some other language like a native. There may also be some Japanese diplomats, a boffin or two returning to Germany and similar. They are assumed to have been issued with some sort of weapon, if only a pistol.

I suggest you roll a dice for each group. Roll a d10 but you cannot roll less than three for each group. I rolled 10, 6 and 10. So we have ten riflemen, six gunmen and ten thugs. Twenty-six men to get across a hostile countryside.

German Naval Infantryman at Dieppe.

Equipment.

In Hell and Uncivil Disorder the equipment men carry doesn’t matter too much. The basic assumption is that whatever you issue with them, they’ve not had the training and experience to get the best out of it. But you can assume a mixture of rifles, submachine guns, pistols and perhaps even a few hand grenades.

More important is the food and water. You can assume that given men will have canteens or similar, you can get water as you march. But food is different. You’ll need five pounds a day (you’re not an infantry unit with properly packed rations, you’ll a ship’s crew who has had to raid the galley and the stores).

You have 26 people to feed, so that is 130lb a day, so how much can you carry?
Well there’s a lot in the literature about infantry carrying up to 100lb. But they often forget to mention that 30lb of that can be clothing, footwear and similar. Then your rifle, ammunition, hand grenades, cleaning kit etc can be another 20lb. So of your 100lb only 50lb of it is actual ‘pack’.

The guidance is that your pack should be 20% of your body weight. Given average sizes and weights of men back in the 1940s, that probably means your pack should be no more that 34lb. Given that your men are not infantry and aren’t used to marching, I would suggest that we say a maximum of 20lb (because of rifles and similar), but for the thugs who are less well armed, you could treat them as beasts of burden and give them 35lb. If you do that your party can carry 660lb or 132 rations. This should supply your force for five days, six if you husband it carefully.

If we say an E boat can cruise at 40mph this means that in theory they could be with you in 20 hours. But allowing for preparing the boats (probably unloading torpedoes and similar, the boat isn’t going to fight its way through) loading extra diesel and similar, they aren’t going to arrive that quickly. It could be a minimum of 48hrs. After all even if they could be there in 36hrs, roaring up to the beach in broad daylight is probably ‘contra-indicated’.

I suggest setting this scenario in an area you are familiar with. (Or at least have the maps for) This might mean that you are setting it off the Welsh coast, or even further north. In this case rather than an E boat, it might be more reasonable to assume that a ‘neutral’ merchant ship currently unloading in a port in the Irish Republic has been asked to collect you. From the point of view of the rendezvous it will be very similar. Coded torch flashes from the beach and then wading out to a small boat.

As with the E boat, it’s going to take the merchant ship time to get to you. They cannot just drop everything to collect you.

So in your last desperate conversation on the radio, you were given a rendezvous point. Somebody sitting safely in an office somewhere in Germany has cast a casual glance at your reported position. They then ran an eye over a chart of a coast they’ve never seen and have decided what will be a safe place for you to be picked up. So they told you to be on that beach two hours after local sunset on the 21st November when you will hopefully be collected. So if things go well, at least you’re alright for food.

Maps

Technically, as the German player, you don’t have one. You might have Admiralty charts (or equivalent) of the coast but why on earth would you have maps of a country you didn’t intend to visit?

Because of your navigational skills at sea, you’re pretty sure what direction the rendezvous point is from where you land, and it’s unlikely to be more than forty miles away.  

So moving by night, if you do 10 miles tonight (17/18th) and ten miles for the next three nights, this will mean you should arrive at the rendezvous area on the night of the 20/21st ready to hide up through the day of the 21st, ready to approach the beach on time to be rescued.

In reality, as both player and umpire, you need a map. What I suggest is that you just get a piece of A4 paper (Bigger if you’ve got it but too big could be clumsy). Then just cut a square window in it. If you’re using a standard 50,000 map, then make the hole about two inches square. That bit is the big you can see.
Place your piece of paper on the map with the window over where you came ashore.  

November 17/18th

Roll a d6

  1. Some of your people are battered by waves and weather, they’re struggling. You’ll be lucky to do six miles tonight
  2. Constant driving rain isn’t helping anybody, but still you keep going. You managed seven miles, you think.
  3. If you wanted to march you would have joined the infantry. Eight miles is your lot.
  4. The blackout is an advantage. You can hear cars long before they’ll be able to see you. You think you’ve made good time. Nine miles.
  5. People are keeping cheerful in spite of the conditions. Ten miles!
  6. It’s obvious your party are determined to put some distance between them and evidence of their arrival. Everybody is keen. 12 miles. You think.

There are possible deductions. At some point, somebody is bound to notice the ship. You decided not to blow it up or set fire to it because that would attract attention. But do you try and hide the boats that you came ashore in? Leaving them to float away and trying to cover your tracks will lose you a mile. On the other hand it might confuse people and delay pursuit.

The other thing to remember is the distance you rolled is a maximum. It might leave you in the middle of a village or small town. You might decide to detour round it (or take the risk of walking quietly through taking advantage of it being the dead of night.)
You could also decide, looking at what you can see from your window on the map, that there is a wood here. You’ll stay there, spending the day in hiding rather than risk the possibility of being seen. That will obviously mean you cover fewer miles that you could have done.
Also it is possible that when you have done your allotted miles, you can see, just ahead of you, the perfect hiding place. You might want to push on, even though the day is breaking. This can you do, but roll a d6. On a roll of 1 you are seen. If you travel more than a mile, you’re seen on a roll of 1, 2 or 3.

18/19th and subsequent days.

It is very likely that your ship will be spotted today. The government at the time organised coast watchers who seem to have been largely forgotten. A great uncle of mine was one, he had to walk a length of coast every day and report if he saw anything. As he walked that length of coast every day checking his sheep anyway he didn’t regard it as a great imposition.

Initially it’s likely that the ship will be treated as a potential rescue operation, but very rapidly anybody going on board and seeing the cargo is going to realise that it’s a blockade runner.
On the positive side, the weather is bad, you might be lucky.

Roll a d6, on a 5 or 6, nobody has noticed your ship.

At this point we ought to look at the ‘defenders’.

The Home Guard was divided into ‘battle platoons’. Each of these had an establishment of perhaps fifty to sixty men. But they were men with full time jobs so the idea seems to have been to have somewhere between 25 and 30 men available at all times. The platoon was mainly tasked with defending the community it was drawn from. Dad’s Army with the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard brings this out nicely with plans for the defence of the Novelty Rock Emporium.

However there were plans to patrol the surrounding countryside, but these patrols would be limited by the number of men available and the fact that they would largely mount foot patrols. (But perhaps with bicycles on roads.)

Each time you cover a mile, or pass through a village I suggest you roll on the following table. If you pass through a larger town you will meet automatically come across checkpoints and patrols.

  1. No sign of trouble
  2. No sign of trouble
  3. No sign of trouble
  4. No sign of trouble
  5. No sign of trouble
  6. A small patrol seen in the distance. You pass unnoticed.
  7. A ten man patrol is making its way down the road
  8. There is a check point on the road with a ten man patrol guarding it
  9. There are daylight patrols checking isolated farms and woods. Roll a d6, on a 1 or 2, they check yours.
  10. The daylight patrols have been intensified. Roll a d6. On a 1,2,3 they check the area you are hiding in.
  11. The regular army has been brought in. There are vehicle patrols (Universal Carriers, lorries and even armoured cars) along the roads, with regular checkpoints at crossroads and villages.  
  12. The army is now deployed to beat the entire area, roll a d6, on a 6 they don’t find your hiding place.

On this table roll a d6, but add

+1 when your boat is discovered.

+1 each time your party is sighted. This is cumulative.

+1 for every day that passes.

+1 if there were gun shots.

Note if there is shooting, there is a chance of reinforcements for the defenders. On a roll of 6 on a d6 another patrol of Home Guard appear.

Once the regular army are deployed, the reinforcements also appear on a roll of 6 on a d6. But they roll every move there’s shooting.

Avoiding the defenders.

Will Hell and Uncivil disorder, troops have three states, Sullen, Truculent, and Psychotic.

So you could form a scouting party of your ‘Riflemen’ (just create a small bunch by splitting the larger one)

If you look in the rules you can see that depending on their state, their firepower, morale and survival vary. In the game, you normally try and keep your men truculent because they’re so much better in combat. But for scouting you want to keep them sullen because survival is important. Given that it’s probably wet, they’re short of sleep and are sick of the whole thing, I think you can assume they default to sullen.

Riflemen.

  • Sullen.   Firepower 4, Morale 5, Survival 7
  • Truculent.  Firepower 8, Morale 7, Survival 6
  • Psychotic.  Firepower 4, Morale 6, Survival 5

So when they’re scouting ahead and come across a patrol or a roadblock roll a d10 and score less than or equal to their current Survival score. If they make the roll, they’ve spotted the defenders before the defenders spot them and they (and the party they’re scouting for) can fade away without being seen. Obviously it means that you can no longer use that road which may mean you have to go across country. If they fail the roll, they’ve been spotted.

At this point we’ll also look at movement speeds. In November, in rough terms you have fourteen hours of night. On roads you can hope to do two miles an hour. This allows for stops, false alarms, and generally being careful. Across country this drops to a mile an hour. If you’re going across country, then you are very unlikely to meet a checkpoint or stumble across a patrol. However you might be in a position where a patrol or checkpoint could see you even if you’re not on the road. So when you get, for example, a patrol result when you’re going across country, you don’t have to change your route, you just lose half an hour as you all hide and wait for the patrol to pass. With a checkpoint, you have to change your route as you would on road.

If you meet an enemy force and fail your survival roll you’ve been spotted. They will report a sighting. They may even open fire. (If they do you can just put a few figures on a table) but really you’re trying to get away, not dispose of witnesses. You can probably ‘play’ out the action on the back of an envelope if you want.

Up until now I’ve assumed you want to sneak to the rendezvous. It might be that you feel time is pressing and you want to get a move on. All sort of options are open to you. You have some English speakers. They’re not good enough to pass as natives but they would probably pass as Free French, or one of the other nationalities. If you were to lure a patrol into an ambush (after all some of your people have civilian clothing or are dressed as ordinary merchant seamen) you could acquire uniforms which might pass in a bad light. Similarly in uniform you could flag down a lorry.

I suggest you set these encounters up on the table, with the figures in place and play it out. Your people will have to roll survival every move to maintain the deception.

If you’re really lucky, there might even be a map in the lorry.

Getting to the boat.

To win the game you have to be on the beach to flash your torch two hours after local sunset on the 21st November. Between ourselves this is probably best done when there isn’t a gun battle raging across the beach. But assuming you can flash your torch, roll a d6. On anything but a 1, the E boat will appear and you’re away. Admittedly I don’t rate your chances of getting home but who am I to pour cold water on your dreams.

If, perchance, you fail, perhaps because you arrived late, of the E boat didn’t arrive, you still have options. You could drive into a coastal town and hijack a fishing boat. Admittedly we all know that it’s going to end badly, with both the RAF and the Navy gunning for you, but still, it’ll be spectacular.

Winning and losing?
Frankly you don’t have a lot of chance of getting away. There again, I suspect that in the game you’ve more chance of doing it that you would if you tried it in real life. Still, people get lucky. Did you remember to collect a postmistress or policeman? (Home Guard prisoners will probably suffice.) If you did, there’s almost certainly awards and your photo in all the papers. (Which could be a nuisance after the war but you cannot have everything.)

What figures do you need?

For figures, it rather depends on scale. If you fancy 15mm, I’d look at Peter Pig 582. German U boat shore party, perhaps padded out with Peter Pig 257. Volkssturm + rifles. In 20mm there is always the Mars German Naval troops pack http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/review.aspx?id=2541

But in any scale, you don’t need many figures. By definition the Germans cannot have more than thirty figures (obviously ignoring the post mistress) whilst Home Guard patrols tend to come in tens. There again once the army get involved numbers could escalate.

For the Defenders, Peter Pig do Home Guard in 15mm, including men on bicycles. Now that would make for an interesting patrol. Also Peter Pig has police and ARP wardens. These latter would make for an interesting ‘wandering monster’ should you pass too blithely through a village. In 20mm plastic, you can get away with pretty well any British Infantry, unless they’re wearing shorts. I’m not saying the Home Guard never wore shorts, but I’m willing to bet they didn’t wear them in November.  

♥♥♥♥

In case you’ve not come across Hell and Uncivil Disorder rules, they’re available here in paperback and on kindle

And from Wargame Vault as a pdf.

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/368891/Hell-and-Uncivil-Disorder

2 thoughts on “Who do you think you are kidding? A solo scenario.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: