Sunday 6 November 2011

A Punitive Expedition....Part 1

The Sultan and the Czar were at odds. Since this was a normal state of affair for most of the 19th century the exact reasons need not concern us at the present time. However, in the interests of historical record the Causus Belli  of this particular incident was the actions of the mysterious Fezian underground society - The Brotherhood of Osman. For some months prior to the Rusland punitive expedition being launched against Fezia a series of inflammatory pamphlets had been circulated across the entire region and various agitators had been at work, in the rural areas, stirring up the the poorer classes by openly criticising the ruling regimes of both Forbodia and Remnia and accusing them of being mere provincial governors acting on behalf of Rusland and that all their hard fought for independence had achieved was to exchange one overlord, the Sultan, for another, the Czar. There were many Fezian sympathisers in both Forbodia and Remania and so these periodic outbursts often struck a chord with the masses; a chord that both the Forbodian and the Remanian governments went to great lengths to deny and refute where able. Numerous suspected agitators were arrested but still the pamphlets and the resultant internal tension continued.

Rusland viewed events in both Forbodia and Remainia with an air of seemingly detached indifference. Her official stance was that it was very much an internal affair but, significantly, should the hand of Fezia be proven to be behind such attempted civil unrest then it was her duty to stand by her fraternal allies. Rusland had adopted the mantle of being a friend and protector to all of the Slav nations (she had provided much in the way of arms, gold and in the latter stages, manpower) and so although she could not be seen to be interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign state she could still provide support.

Initially this support was in terms of financial assistance and of training for the newly formed armed forces of both nations. Secretly, she also provided valuable intelligence of Fezian activities and it was from this source that Forbodia learned the whereabouts of the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Osman.

Rusland ordinarily needed little excuse to go to war with Fezia but her situation on the international stage was not a good one. She was in the throes of a minor economic crisis and had internal problems of her own. The Rusland parliament - the Duma - was at odds with the Czar over agrarian reform and so expenditure on foreign 'adventures' was hard to come by and had to be demonstrated as being of a direct threat before it could be sanctioned.

However, by dint of some careful and adroit political maneuvering (the monarchist supporters managed to inveigle the leader of the opposition with some veiled threats concerning the exposure of his affair with a well known actress), a secret agreement was made with the government of Forbodia (in exchange for the leases on some of their lucrative coal fields) that Rusland would provide a small expeditionary force in order to conduct a punitive expedition against the suspected headquarters of the Brotherhood of Osman. King Boris of Forbodia was anxious to ensure that his country was seen to have had no involvement in the ensuing military action and so was able to insist that the scale of the operation was to be kept as small as possible. Rusland sullenly accepted this although in private the treasury was delighted at this saving in hard currency.

The suspected headquarters of the Brotherhood of Osman were located some twenty miles from the border with Forbodia and some five miles inland. The only habitation in the area was the small village of Keder Sirt - a typical Fezian rural town dominated by a small fortress dating back some five hundred years and of Etruscian construction. The landscape was gently rolling and dotted with small copses of conifers. From the Forbodian border a road led through the village but the first feature a would be invader came across was the Keder Sirt - a series of escarpments forming a natural defensive position - from the village took its name. The fortress was well to the east of the village but, unknown to the invading Rusland troops, the garrison was billeted in the village itself. Although this was to prove to be militarily sound the real reason was that it was cheaper to hoist the troops on the unwilling peasantry than to give them access to the famous vineyards of the Yakult  wine-making family - the current owners of the fortress. The local garrison commander was something of a connoisseur and he was reluctant to have his rude soldiery 'inspecting' the local produce. However, his somewhat relaxed attitude to martial affairs received a rude awakening when a figure both revered by his own forces and reviled by his enemies appeared to assume command. Furthermore the rude awakening extended to an invitation from the Sultan to attend him at the Topkapi palace and to carry out an underwater inspection of the palace foundations from the inside of a hessian sack - for some 'errors of judgement' in allowing the location of the Brotherhood's headquarters to be known to enemies of the state.

Upon receipt of this invitation the unfortunate former commander retired quietly to his chambers and, after having made his peace with his maker, proceeded to blow his brains out with his service revolver - such was the price of the Sultan's displeasure....

In fact the fortress was not the headquarters of the order at all but the Sultan was not about to admit that on the global stage and so if anybody thought it was then so much the better. Not for nothing did the Sultan bask in the sobriquet of - 'the Unprincipled.'

The garrison of Keder Sirt consisted of three battalions from the Marmaris division, a mounted regiment - the 25th cavalry, D battery the 5th atillery and a local militia 'Bashi-Bazouk' unit. The latter were universally despised by both the regulars and the local population. As luck would have it on the day of the Rusland attack the infantry, along with the artillery, were deployed for exercises along the ridge itself leaving the cavalry and the Bashi Bazouks to appear later in the day (much later in the case of the irregulars). The garrison was fortunate in that the new commander was no less a warrior than the the famous Amir, Abdul Abulbul - the scourge of the enemies of Osman (and secretly the grand master of the mysterious Brotherhood of Osman).

Meanwhile, the invading Rusland force had crossed the Forbodia/Fezia border and had, by easy stages, advanced to within east striking distance of the village and the fortress behind. The approach march would have to pass between the low escarpments of Keder Sirt but these could be outflanked if need be although at the cost of time. Certainly the forces available for the expedition were more than sufficient - six battalions of infantry, two cavalry units and a large artillery battery - to reduce the the fortress to rubble which was, after all, the object of the mission. After hing completed this task the force was to swing directly towards the coast to be evacuated by elements of the Rusland navy. The orders were clear and concise and well suited to the temperament of the illustrious commander of the expedition - Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavor. This wily old veteran of countless battles and skirmishes against the forces of Fezia was delighted to have been chosen for this mission, particularly as his hatred of all things Fezian was legendary and so woe betide any that stood in his path. Little did he know that his sworn enemy was commanding the opposing force and was more than ready to add a further chapter to the annals of their lifelong enmity.

Dawn broke, and as the plaintive wail of the muezzin rang out from the minaret of the mosque in Keder Sirt, calling the faithful to prayer; so the Fezian army encamped on the ridge stand to their arms and awaited passively that which Dame Fortune had in mind for them....

To be continued....


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


What a wonderful scenario you have written! It has lots of background information that sets the scene for what I hope will be a great little campaign! I am looking forward with barely concealed anticipation for the action to start.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Thank you very much indeed! I wanted to make the scenario limited in scope and scale as it is very much in the way of a play test. I will be using the PW rules with the blocks for the game with the suggestions from Ross Mac about the unit strengths - almost a roster system in effect. In fact, my own version of this approach will also see the light of day in due course - together with a 'Volley and Bayonet' style exhaustion level.

The game will be set up on the Axis and Allies maps and with the blocks and I hope to fight it over the next few days with the resultant after action report to follow.

I am hugely excited by this and can't wait to get cracking with it - especially with the figures as and when I get them!

All the best,