Battle of Jarama 1937 AAR
The Battle of Jarama was an action fought during the Spanish Civil War east of Madrid when Franco's Fascists tried to dislodge the republican forces resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. Dean has been working towards putting the scenario together for a while, his blog on the subject can be found by clicking HERE. On Monday, Ninjasaurus Rex and I met up at Dean's house to refight the action.
Dean had set the board up when we arrived and had gone old school with the terrain: books underneath a green cloth, very Featherstone. The rules were the Osprey Publishing A World Aflame inter-war (but SCW heavy) specific. The battle took place over three days, each of these days was six turns in game turns, with whoever held the sunken lane (running diagonal in the picture below) on the third day being the winner. Each turn was preceded by drawing an event card that may or may not be beneficial for one side or the other.
The attacking Fascists (Dean and Ninjasaurus) had a mix of Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccan forces versus the defending International Brigade with some militia reinforcements. There was also some elements of the Condor Legion with HMGs to bolster the Fascist attack. The initial set up had the International Brigade's three units face to face with the Foreign Legion around the Casa Blanca (house with the red roof):
In the woods, just behind the sunken road was the IB's HQ, including transports in the shape of a truck and donkey carts...
The opening move saw a Fascist artillery barrage miss the target of the IB HQ with gun fire around the Casa Blanca causing casualties immediately.
The International Brigade's soldiers were out in the open but rained fire on the Foreign Legion and Moroccans.
Meanwhile, I dispatched the truck to go ad pick up supplies that were stored towards the rear.
Despite overwhelming odds the International Brigade were causing casualties and holding the fascists back... for now...
Seeing a disintegrating Republican line the Moroccan troops began advancing down the road towards the sunken lane.
However, fate smiled on me and my next event card brought a T-26 tank on as a reinforcement!
Along with a sniper, who was hunkered down in the woods, waiting for targets.
The right flank of the International Brigade was destroyed under fire from the Foreign Legion, the top of the hill was clear of defenders and the Moroccans pushed forwards.
The remainder of the International Brigade made for the cover of the Casa Blanca, taking casualties as they went.
Sensing that disaster was not far away, I urged the T-26 forward as the truck carried the supplies back to the HQ. Meanwhile my sniper was making himself known by shooting at the Moroccans.
A handful of IB men were holding out in the Casa Blanca and their presence was stopping the Condor Legion HMGs arriving on the table. Despite heavy casualties, they were doing their job!
It wouldn't last though and the Fascists swarmed up the hill to the building that was almost cleared of defenders.
My T-26 was in a position to fire on the Moroccan HQ and wasted no time in doing so!
One tank and a single sniper would never be enough to hold back the attackers as they closed in on the sunken road and threatened the IB HQ. A Nationalist aeroplane dove down from the clouds and attacked the HQ, killing both the commander and the commissar! I was without command!
A lone LMG gunner was giving the Foreign Legion grief back at the Casa Blanca and still causing casualties.
With only runners and other non-combatants gathered around the sunken lane the Moroccans were able to take the objective easily.
I had put up a stiff defence around the Casa Blanca, but the amount of soldiers of the Nationalists were always going to overwhelm my defenders.
The T-26 and sniper were still causing casualties by the sunken road.
Then on the final turn of the first day Harry Fry's HMGs arrived at my reinforcement point, but too far away from the fighting to make any impression on the battle.
With the end of Day One we were able to reorganise our forces as we liked. The Nationalists were in control of the sunken road and I set up opposite them in the wooded area. I also had another unit of the International Brigade to bolster my meagre defences. The T-26 disappeared off the board, so I was down in that respect.
I also had two barrages of artillery and two aircraft to attack the Fascists, both of which proved to be very effective and made mincemeat of the Foreign Legion.
The closeness of the front lines really thinned out the troops on both after a round of rifle and HMG fire.
At this point, the Fascists almost wiped out the International Brigade to a man!
The Nationalists held their positions after their own heavy casualties.
Another T-26 arrived as a reinforcement and threatened the Fascists with LMG fire. This ended the second day of the battle and the Nationalists were still holding the objective.
Overnight more reinforcements arrived, two units of Militia and a single unit of the International Brigade. This time the T-26 remained on board, so it was a bit of stronger defence than day two.
However, the Nationalists also gained reinforcements and their line looked even stronger than before, especially as they moved the Moroccans out of the front line and replaced them with the Foreign Legion.
Even more alarming was the arrival of three Fascist tanks, a T-26 and two Condor Legion Panzer Is. My T-26 was ready and waiting for their advance though.
The strong Fascist line was able to lay down a heavy rifle fire on my front line and destroyed it almost to a man!
I then pulled out the next event card and it was the arrival of my Great Uncle Tommy James! Dean had made this card specially for me and kept it secret, so it was a brilliant surprise! Tommy James fought in the SCW as a Commissar and was a life long opponent of fascism, at one time chasing Oswald Mosely's Blackshirts out of Rotherham.
Unfortunately Tommy's speech wasn't enough to hold the Republican line and failing my morale roll meant the remaining infantry fell back from the sunken lane.
On the other side of the hill, two tank hunters appeared next to the Nationalist T-26 and tried to disable it, but with no effect.
Meanwhile, my T-26 brewed up one of the Panzer Is, but came under fire from the Nationalist tank on the hill.
It didn't last much longer, my T-26 took a hit and brewed up, disintegrating my last chance of defence.
And with that, I called it a defeat. The Nationalists held the sunken lane and what remained of my forces were fleeing to the rear as quickly as they could.
It was always going to be a difficult defence, especially with the amount of Nationalist soldiers on the table, but I didn't think it would be such a complete collapse of the defenders. The point was really to see how long the Republicans could hold on, and I got to about halfway through day three before the position was completely untenable.
It was also our first time using A World Aflame, it was a good game, but very old school in its approach. This wasn't an issue, but it probably could do with a bit more polishing here and there, like being more definite about the different phases within each turn. The firing rules caused very heavy casualties, which was surprising to players used to saving rolls for casualties. However, none of the criticisms of the rules made the game a boring one and we all enjoyed our parts in the fight. Dean has also written an AAR from his persepctive which can be found HERE.
I'm looking forward to the next SCW bash!
I'm looking forward to the next SCW bash!
Thanks for reading!