Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Far Seas

A very good primer for the period and with plenty of gaming ideas

I suppose it is inevitable in some ways that despite my fascination with dreadnought battleships and fleet actions I find myself increasingly looking at naval actions at a much lower level. In the context of WW1 - and ignoring the gunboat type of action for the time being - this leads to actions involving cruisers and destroyers. I must confess that some of the best naval games I have ever taken part in have not been the great slugfests between lines of battleships (although they do have a fascination all of their own) but actions involving single cruisers or small surface action groups.

In recent times - no more than a few years ago - I fought a number of actions in 1/3000th representing the Balkan Wars. The forces were not large but nevertheless gave some very good games - more so on the tabletop than in history if truth be told. 

Moving on to the Great War then we have the potential for some cracking actions - both historically and the all important 'what if'. The exploits of the German cruisers in the early years of the war - Von Spee's Far East squadron, the cruise to the Emden, the escape of the Goeben and the Breslau and the hunting down of the Konigsberg for the basis for some cracking refights - and again, the all important 'what if?'.

Going back in time to the days of the legendary Madasahatta campaign I seem to recall (and no doubt stand to be corrected) that the naval side was quite small in scale although a few dreadnoughts were involved - not so much on a squadron basis, more like a couple or so at any given point. This is the size of action that works best for me so the cruiser scaled engagements of WW1 tick a number of boxes.

With this in mind - and if I am completely honest very much on the spur of the moment - I acquired via EBay the title you see above for a give away price. It is the usual Pen and Sword style title and is an account of the exploits of the German cruisers at the start of the Great War and of the Royal Navy efforts to bring them to account. This they did but not without cost. From a naval wargame perspective the old standby of 'Hunt the Raider' is an ideal scenario generator - and given that 'hunters' were often older or less effective vessels the player has a number of challenging decisions to make in respect of how he conducts his operations.

Bryan Perrett is a well known historian and his account is a superb introduction to the subject. I have more detailed works on the period but as a one stop primer this is hard to beat. I suspect it has been remaindered which is why i was able to get it so cheap but even at the full price i would have been tempted.

Mention of this type of operation and Madasahatta in the same post was no coincidence - and if you read my post about Lawrence of Arabia recently (which I enjoyed watching again enormously) you may have an inkling of where this may be heading....

Of course I couldn't possibly comment....


Archduke Piccolo said...

Your remarks reminds me of a WW1 naval campaign I took part in in Wellington nearly 30 years ago. I was given command of the 2nd Destroyer (Torpedo Boat?) Flotilla of the German High Seas Fleet. Several brisk actions in support of the Battle Squadrons earned the 2nd Flotilla the sobriquet 'Death's Head' Flotilla. Though a trifle outclassed by their British equivalents - only the flotilla leader was a real match, the DHF were putting down at least double the numbers we were taking.

Then came the magnificent action that was to be the DHF's finest hour ... and its last. During the course of a wild sea-going melee, the Flotilla leader got close enough to shove in a number of torpedoes into Admiral Jellicoe's flagship, which promptly went down and took the Admiral with her. But the 15-inch shells of the HMS Benbow were already on their way. Thus ended the glorious but brief career of See-Kapitan Blank of the 2nd 'Totenkopf' Flotilla.

Paul O'G said...

The destruction of the raider SMS Eden (last of the German Asiatic Squadron) by the cruiser HMAS SYDNEY in the Indian Ocean was the first naval victory of the Royal Australian Navy after its inception in 1911.

Paul O'G said...

SMS Emden rather