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Attack on Ambleteuse Roads, English Channel, 1940


WWII Coastal, Attack with Torpedoes, 1/600th

We decided we hadn’t played a Coastal Forces game for over two years, so the little ships were given another airing. The idea was that a small German coastal convoy had put into Ambleteuse Roads for the night, to avoid a bombing raid on Boulogne, just down the coast. The anchorage was protected by a torpedo net, and covered by the antiquated guns of Fort Mahon. The German escort consisted of a Flak lighter and an armed trawler.MTBs,-April-09-03The British decided to raid the anchorage, attacking with four Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB’s), supported by two Fairmile B Motor Launches (ML’s). Another Fairmile B was also in the area, landing an agent on the coast. Finally, a German patrol appeared, consisting of two R-Boats (light minesweepers). Unluckily for the British they turned up right in the path of the MTB’s. The scene was set for a short, frenetic night action.MTBs,-April-09-06The British roared into the Roads at 30 knots, trying to work their way round the torpedo net. First though, they had to deal with the R-Boats. German fire eviscerated the leading MTB, then the two sides threaded through each other as they exchanged fire at point-blank range. Meanwhile the supporting motor launches engaged the F-Lighter on the far side of the anchorage. The result of all this shooting was that a second MTB and an ML  were both turned into blazing wrecks, while the Germans also suffered fairly heavy damage. The German fire wasn’t enough though, and two of the MTB’s rounded the net and fired their torpedoes. One missed completely, but the second boat was rewarded with a hit which promptly sank the largest of the German freighters.MTBs,-April-09-12With all their torpedoes gone, the remaining British boats tried to escape to safety. One didn’t make it, being shredded by the F-Lighter, which in turn was reduced to a wreck by the remaining Fairmile boat. The game ended as the British disappeared out to sea, leaving chaos in their wake. With one big merchantmen sunk, plus the most powerful German escort, victory was awarded to the British. However, this victory was a pyrrhic one, as three of the four MTB’s were lost in the attack,  plus one of the motor launches – two thirds of the attacking force! Incidentally, the agent was landed safely.MTBs,-April-09-10

It was a close-run game, and an extremely enjoyable one. The rules we used were Dillon Browne’s Attack with Torpedoes, one of the few sets for this kind of naval battle which don’t get bogged down in minutiae. They achieve this by using Warhammer-like quantities of dice. Instead of working out each individual hit, you simply add up the dice being “fired” by each boat, then roll away. The result is a tense, fun and speedy game. Sure, there are far more accurate sets out there (like Flaklighter or Action Stations), but these simpler rules work for us, and our occasional games.MTBs,-April-09-11

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