Sunday 17 November 2013

RJW Game - Part 2

How the Game Ran

Barishenkov chose to deploy on the left, throwing up a short angled line of trenches, that were to be occupied by the rifles regiment, directly behind a line of trees that would conceal them from one direction. To the right of the rifles on the small hill was a machine gun, dug in, with the two field batteries to the rear. To the right, in the low ground between the hill and the monastery ridge, was a second line of trenches to be occupied by the 23rd Siberian Regiment. The 32nd Siberian Regiment and the second machine gun occupied the monastery. Barishenkov also had a significant trench prepared running back along the monastery ridge which he could not occupy.

Map Showing Barishenkov's Trench Lines (in grey)

When Barishenkov and Gemmersheim met they agreed that one of Gemmersheim's regiments would occupy the vacant trench with a second regiment held to the rear, out of sight behind the ridge. Gemmersheim's second brigade would deploy across the stream with both machine guns. His artillery would deploy with one battalion off table and one on, behind the semall ridge on the extreme right.

The Japanes 2nd Division, having arrived first, made a reconnaissance, starting on the table edge behind the farm,  running directly forward towards the trench on Barishenkov's left, then running along the stream bed to the Japanese left, across the front of the monastery and the trench on monastery ridge and then back through the Hutong. The reconnaissance observed all of the entrenched areas, but failed to detarmine whether the trench where the rifles were deployed were occupied. It also failed to identify the machine gun position on the small hill. They were fired on by the 23rd Siberians, but could not identify the  strength there. They did successfully discover that the monastery was held in strength, at least one regiment and determined the monastery ridge trench was unoccupied. 

With the reconnaissance completed the Japanese division commandrs made their plan of battle. TheJapanese  chose to try to envelop both flanks, with the 2nd Division on the right and the Guards on the left, and then exploit the centre with 12th Division, although 12th Division did toy with the idea of extendending even fiurther right for a short time.

During the night Popolov arrived on the field with his scratch force and occupied the monastery ridge trench with the infantry and machine guns. The deployment of Popolov in the trench was a surprise to both Barishenkov and Gemmersheim and the latter was compelled to redeploy further to the right. Popolov's four field batteries were deployed off table.

The Battle Begins

The Japanese attack began with the 2nd Division artillery attempting to swamp the Siberians in their trenches, but with little success. Meanwhile the Guards marched onto fhe table and were immediately struck by Russian gunfire and forced to halt their advance until their own guns could deploy.

The 2nd division quickly pressed one brigade forward to the edge of the farm and was struck by machingun and artillery fire from Barishenkov's position. The Japanese halted and brought forward their own machineguns to reply. Meanwhile the second brigade moved around the rear of the large hill to their right. 

On the left the first brigade of the Guard learned the hard way not to expose themselves to the Russian artillery fire and suffered heavy losses. They quickly sought cover behind the Hutong while their guns and their second brigade deployed.

The Japanese Stabilise Their Positions

By turn three the Japanese were beginning to form something of a battle line. The 2nd Division pressed beyond the road and discovered the position of Barishenkov's rifles regiment, but could make no impact on the entrenched Russians. Their flanking brigade was making slow progress around the large hill. The Guards, meanwhile, were doing better. Their artillery had come into action and caused some damage to Gemmersheim's second brigade that was digging in along the edge of the fields beyond the stream. The Guards soon had a good line formed along the road. The 12th Division had begun to arrive on the field and formed behind the woods on the ridge between 2nd and Guards Divisions.

It soon became apparent to Barishenkov that he was going to take the brunt of the Japanese assault and called on Gemmersheim for support. The latter responded by releasing his reserve regiment just as the Japanese 2nd Division closed in. Failing to gain effcet with his artillery by indirect fire, Barishenkov brought his guns forward onto this small hill. Exposed on the hill the batteries were immediately hit by the the fire of 12th Division's six batteries and quickly destroyed. The Japanese guns pounded the machine gun on the hill, damaging, but not destroying the piece. The Russians in the trenches began to suffer some damage, while the 2nd division closed in on the Rifles regiment.

The Rifles Regiment Defending Against the 2nd Division

Seeing that they were about to be overwhelmed the Rifles left their trench and charged forward in the hope of driving back the advance elements of the 2nd Division to gain some time for Gemmersheim's troops to arrive to help in the defence. It was a desperate attempt, but as a spoiling attack it had a chance of success. The Japanese were surprised and driven back, but were not driven off.

At the opposite end of the field Gemmerheim's right hand brigade was feeling the pressure from the Guards and was beginning to crumble. The artillery came forward and engaged the Japanese over open sights, but could only delay their advance. When two Japanese regiments moved to attack the Russians frontally, the Russian line failed and broke.

The Guards Attack the Russian Right

The End of the Russian Defence

The 12th Division forms for the attack

With the failure of the Rifles to drive off the advance of the 2nd Division the writing was on the wall for the Russian left and four regiments converged against one. In the centre the 12th Division was taking aim at the monastery, with the whole division preparing to attack the one Siberian regiment holding the place. The Japanese guns struggled to silence the Russians but sheet weight of numbers soon began to tell. The monastery fell to a determined assault.

The Final Assault on the Monastery

With the monastery in japanese hands the Japanese artillery was free to engage Gemmersheim's troops. Most of these troops were in the open and were soon cut to pieces the the gunfire. When 2nd Division finally drove off the Rifles and moved around the Russian left flank, Barishenkov was complelled to withdraw. Gemmersheim, unable to fight the battle alone was also compelled to retire and the battle ended.

The final advance of the 2nd division around the flank

The Japanese had won a decisive victory, but the Russians had fought hard and Gemmersheim at least kept his command - and certainly did not discrace the service. 

For the statistics, just under 1,000 figures, eighteen machine guns and twelve gun models were on the table. All of the infantry figures were by Tsuba Miniatures and all of the remainder by Redoubt. The game started about 9:00 in the morning and lasted until around 4:00 pm, with a reasonable break for lunch of course.

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