Race to the sea

It is August 1914, the German armies have been turned at the marne, and now the race is on to outflank the other army.

This game was created using the Great War Spearhead Scenario Generation System. It was fought between Nick and Robin Sutton in Christchurch, New Zealand in July 2010

The table at the start of the game, seen from the BEF's right wing.

The game objectives can be seen marked with green counters: the heights in the foreground, and the village and town in the background that commanded the river crossings.. these would be vital if one side was to outflank the other.

The BEF right wing, and the German left, head on a collision course.

The Britsh plan was to initially refuse the left, and attack strongly on the right, then swinging around across the German rear. A flank march was planned to put maximum pressure on the German left.

The British right wing brigade as seen by the German advanced Guard.

However the German infantry beat the British in the race to the forests, and were able to adopt strong fire positions while keeping the British infantry in the open.

The German left managed to take the forests ahead of the advancing British, and settled to their work of fighting the advancing BEF infantry. Casualties were already starting to mount for this Brigade.

Here's how the German infantry saw it.

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The British left was well supported by their own divisional artillery, inflicting serious casualties on those German infantry caught in the open. However the 18pdrs brigaded immediately behind their lines were having serious trouble getting lines run from their observers to the guns.

Overall the performance of the British artillery was poor, with fewer than half the fire requests getting through. There were to be plenty of 60pdr and 4.5" shells to be taken back in the retreat that was to follow.

The BEF left had been no more fortunate, with the advancing German regiments taking the forested areas to their front and settling into good fire positions from which to pursue the firefight.

Meanwhile in the British centre, a regiment of brigaded 18pounders had been deployed in support of the British right wing infantry brigade.

Their position had been deliberately selected to cover the British centre by direct fire if necessary. However they ended up being the major force in the centre. They were confronted with a 'target rich' environemnt as the German infantry tried to push across to bring more pressure to bear on the British left.

Their fire was deadly accurate, causing a number of casualties and forcing the German infantry to go to ground. This reduced the pressure on the British left.

The British RHA 18pdrs at work in the British centre.

And still at work.

There were so many targets that the British artillery in the centre were firing over open sights at the advancing German infantry.

The British flank march was forced away from the German left. In Scenario System terms, it's planned entry point was too close to the German infantry, and so it was displaced 300mm towards the British base line.

The meant that instead of entering the battle on the exposed German flank, the attacking British brigade had to fight its way forward through the existing British right flank brigade.

Attacking over open ground was always going to be difficult. The BEF commander (yes, that's me) had seriously underestimated his German foe.

The British flank march was pushed away from the German flank, and had to try to fight its way onto the German flank.

Meanwhile the British left was in serious difficulty too. Like their comrades on their right, they were caught in the open facing German infantry well settled into the local forests.

The British left wing collapsed, and the plan to swing around and drive the Germans away from the river crossings had failed. Reinforcements would be needed if the BEF was to preserve its left flank.

The British left flank Brigade had taken heavy casualties throughout the battle. These 18pdrs failed to fire a single shot throughout the battle.

Time was called on the game, with the Germans holding one objective (the river crossing). They had also driven one British brigade from the battlefield, giving Nick 4 victory points to my 0. This was a sound victory for Nick as the German commander.