Calm before the storm
So, after nearly two years apart, we managed to get most of the gang back together and thought we’d ease ourselves in with a multi player Indo China skirmish game. The rules were our WWII skirmish rules modified for jungle insurgency warfare and the figures a mix from The Assault Group, Empress and Britannia. The game was played on a 6×4 at the home base, movement phase was by randomly dealt cards (one per unit) but in this variant the Viet Minh could put their card back in the ‘pack’ (it’s only 6 cards!) once per unit so as to try and get the drop on the French – home court advantage and all that😁 .
Our scenario saw the peaceful village of Cho Ra going about it’s business under the benevolent/oppressive eye (delete as appropriate) of the French protective/occupation forces (delete ….) located in two nearby compounds. The village was located at the northern end of the table at the confluence of a river and stream, the stream could be crossed without any major difficulty but the river would have to be swum. The two compounds were located south of the village on either side of the stream, the eastern compound housed a single squad from 1/4 RTM (Moroccans) and the western compound housed a single squad from 1/2REI (Foreign Legionnaires); there was no support weapons or contact with artillery/air cover, and any reinforcements would be in response to flares or runners. The Legionnaires were Veteran & Cadres (averages in normal parlance), 12 men strong armed with rifles, smg’s and one lmg, the Moroccans had two Veteran sergeants (one Moroccan, one French) armed with smg’s and the rest Cadre with a couple of Recruits, 10 men with rifles and an lmg.
The Viet Minh were a Bo Dai platoon from Regiment 120 operating in the area and consisted of, a small HQ element (3 men including an RPG), the 1st & 2nd Assault squads (around 12 men, mainly small arms) and one Support squad (essentially two lmg teams), team leaders were all Veteran and the rest varied from Cadre to Conscript representing the spread of experience.
To start the game the French had to occupy the compounds but could also spread out across any the playing area and would deploy first. The Moroccans opted to place the lmg team in the edge of the jungle covering the footbridge over the stream near their compound and send a two man patrol out south from the bridge along the cleared ground, the remainder of the squad manned the compound including the all important watch tower. The Legionnaires deployed a three man patrol at the most southerly end of the track heading back toward the two Moroccans, the rest manned the compound. The Viet Minh had 6 jump off points placed around the gaming area by the umpire (visible to all) and 6 counters each marked with a squad designation or the designation ‘dummy’ which they could place at any of the jump off points, but only one per jump off, these would then be moved as play progressed until they revealed themselves or they were spotted. The Viet Minh players opted to have the two assault squads on the northerly jump off points in the jungle near the river on either side of the stream, the support squad was in the south west jungle and the HQ at one of the temple ruins in the western jungle. The Viet Minh plan was simple enough; in the east, the two full squads overwhelm the Moroccans by sheer weight of numbers and in the west the RPG prove enough of a distraction for the assault squad to penetrate the defences or at the very least prevent the legionnaires from helping the Moroccans.
The first couple of turns was the Viet Minh keeping the French guessing as they moved the markers through the jungle and keeping shy of the dead zone at the edge of the jungle where the observers in the towers could see them (3″ in from the edge). The Legionnaires and Moroccans met on patrol, the Legionnaires headed back to the compound and the Moroccans headed into the jungle, mainly in response to the 3 counters which were moving through this section, only one of which would be the enemy.
First to open the ball was the 1st Assault Squad who didn’t wait for the RPG to hit the tower (what is that saying about plans and first contact?) and blazed away at the Legion compound to absolutely no effect 😒. Not to be outdone in the failure stakes the HQ section did indeed get off the RPG shot (after the shooting started🙄) but completely missed and then scuttled back into the jungle realising that they were few and the Legion were many. The 2nd Assault Squad were next to open fire and did a little better, downing Driss Menou in the compound necessitating first aid
The two assault squads then went for the standard tactics of the time and surged out from the jungle hoping to swarm the defenders – we had discussed this prior to the game and all credit to the Viet Minh players for going for period immersion although I am probably going to have to write something into the rules sooner or later. As it turned out this was an utter disaster for the 1st squad as their sergeant was killed outright by the defenders fire and the resultant morale test saw them fail and become Pinned. The 2nd did better and despite their own losses forced the Moroccans to give up the northern edge of the compound losing corporal Belabiche in the process.
The tale of woe that was the 1st squad got worse when their corporal was killed and their next morale failure saw them Go To Ground which essentially meant withdraw from the fighting until rallied, which they never did. They left about half their number dead or dying in front of the Legion positions and crawled back to the river behind them. They were later rounded up by a Legion fire team in the closing stages of the fight much to the embarrassment of the player.
The success of 2nd squad continued as they treated their wounded in the field and pressed on forcing Sgt Chef Antonin and privates Said & Ahmed to hop over the sandbags at the southern end of the compound and face north into the compound to try and contain the Viet Minh and provide enough cover fire for Sgt Ali Sahraoui, who was trapped by the stores shack, to get away.
Despite the breathing space the Moroccans had gained themselves they were in fact in bigger trouble because no sooner had they hopped over the sandbags than the Support Squad finally arrived – it was a longer slog from their jump off point, and opened fire from the edge of the jungle into the backs of Antonin and his men. This was one of those classic “I forgot about them” moments and from an umpiring point of view a satisfaction with the counters idea, there had been 3 counters in this part of the play area and one had been discovered to be a dummy by the two man patrol but then concentration was lost and the Moroccans paid the price. Both Said & Ahmed were seriously wounded in the initial fusillade and later died of their wounds but Antonin survived long enough to gun down Lam Binh, one of the lmg loaders and rifle fire from privates Oman & Mohammed in the tower killed the other loader, Van Nhien. Ultimately, however, sheer weight of fire killed Antonin and silenced the tower.
All was not over yet in the Moroccan theatre, in a bizarre turn of events the Viet Minh advance had not revealed the lmg team that had been deployed by the bridge – this was partly a player thing, they simply forgot 🤣 but also a good rules thing because the distance we had allocated for vision within the jungle did indeed mean they had moved past without seeing and so the Moroccans redeployed and opened up. A couple of the Viet Minh went down in the initial burst and it did distract from some of the firing on Antonin and his men but quick thinking Corporal To Van Phu lobbed a well thrown grenade and the lmg was history. Just to complete the theatre of this mini battle the two man patrol of Amar & Haza emerged from the jungle to cut down one of the lmg gunners with rifle fire but they paid the price for their intervention and were cut down in return.
The closing act to the Moroccan affair was the looting and firing of the compound by 2nd squad and the Support squad but not before Sgt Sahraoui got in a final burst from his smg, downing the last lmg gunner before slipping away east into the jungle, the only survivor of his squad.
While the Moroccan action was playing itself out the Legion compound was not completely quiet. While Sgt Wallisch had been directing the fire that drove back the 1st squad (some would say they got a lucky break 🤔) Legionnaires Pflimlin & Echevary up in the tower had been playing cat and mouse with the HQ team who couldn’t work out why 1st squad weren’t pressing their attack. In a series of gunfights, as the HQ team tried to use the jungle to their best advantage, RPG gunner Tan Hoa and Lt Le Van Tien were both wounded but they did manage to kill Pflimlin, however, as the firing died down, Sgt Van Diem noticed Legionnaires Verzat & Molinier leading the lmg team forward to flush them out and hustled his comrades deep into the jungle and away.
And that was it, an exciting action packed game with most of the group, rather than just me and Dave flying the flag, and all played in the right spirit with a feeling of historical accuracy. The final body count was, Moroccans wiped out except the sergeant, Foreign legion one dead and a couple of walking wounded, Viet Minh, 1st all dead or captured, 2nd two dead and some walking wounded, Support two dead and most wounded, HQ enough wounds to avoid censure 🤐.
We hope you enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed playing.