Monday, 23 February 2009

2002 France ‘40

France ’40 was an unusual game for many reasons..very good but very unusual. Firstly we had an expanded umpiring team with Gerry Elliott, Mike Mcknight and Phil Gray pitching in on a formal basis after providing varying degrees of help with D-Day. My own personal workload began to diminish and I could concentrate on playing which made a very pleasant change.

The strange events really began with the build up to the game itself. This involved a degree of pregame manoeuvre and oddly enough the French command team seemed to come up with the idea that it was beaten before the game began; an attitude which often surfaced throughout the week in certain players when the going was moderately tough. Also because of the unusual nature of the equipment of the period we saw the first instances of the ‘love of the odd’. Those formations you would never field in a club game suddenly sprang to the fore. The Belgian team seemed to have more than its share of these ‘eccentrics’. The Belgian light Division expertly handled by Dave Houston drove back various German formations in two separate battles; the same Germans who the previous day had been unstoppable according to the French.

In Brussels more Belgians under the control of King Togs (with a railway gun, IIRC) and Dave Lambert and Eric Whitehead fought for every town sector with the advancing German troops. At one point even their single aircraft got in on the act and managed to attack and kill a German platoon assaulting in the town. Normally this would not be noteworthy apart from the fact that in the previous turn the Luftwaffe Level Bombing attack had singularly failed in its efforts to bomb a large open area to the right of Brussels where a Belgian Division was defending..

Instead they managed not only to carpet bomb the city, destroying the road network which waiting Panzer Divisions needed to utilise in their advance, but also managed to wipe out most of the German assault force that had spent 2 days capturing foot canal and road bridges. I would not have minded but these were my German troops.

This does happen to me a lot at megagames and I’ve often wondered if there is a reason for it?

The next unusual and new event (which has become a regular occurrence for some) was the massive Artillery barrage.

With the road network in Brussels destroyed the Germans launched an offensive across the main Canal network only to run into a eye wateringly huge number of artillery templates. When it was over there was very little left of two Panzer Divisions. I would not normally mind (as one of these was mine) but I had spent 4 days looking after this and kind of misread a direct order from our Army commander to use these in this offensive. I seem to remember this fact being mentioned about 13 times in the evening debrief.

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