WWII Coastal Forces, Narrow Seas, 1/600
We were all at sea for the first game of the year, somewhere in the English Channel midway between Newhaven and Boulogne. There wasn’t much point to this game – just a nocturnal clash between two groups of baby warships. This time we left the freighters and big escorts at home. Both sides had five or six boats – the British fielded four Vosper and BPB MTBs, backed up by two Fairmile B gunboats. The Germans then appeared with three mid-war E-Boats, and two larger R-boats. essentially, this was an even-pointed fight- something that never happens in real life. This little clash was played out on a 6×6 foot sea mat. The British were played by Gyles, and I, while Lindsay and Sean took charge of the Germans. We all came on from four corners of the table, and headed towards each other, with all the tactical nous of jousting knights. Things got off to a bad start for us when Gyles, who was a little closer to the enemy than I was threw his boats up against the concentrated fire of all of the Germans. It didn’t end well for his Fairmile MGB, which was badly shot up and on fire within two turns.Gyles’ little Vosper MTB did what it could to hold the enemy off until the MGB crew could put the fire out. Meanwhile, we were racing in to the rescue. Well, at least racing towards the fight. Mally commanded two MTBs, while like Gyles I had a single Vosper and a Fairmile MGB. I raced towards the Germans circling Gyles, while Mally worked his way around their starboard beam. Despite being a “newbie” when it came to naval games, he realised that using all your broadside firepower was the way to go. Despite being a former naval officer, I opted for a head-on charge.Well, the Germans had a similar idea. While Sean amused himself firing at Gyles with two of his three E-boats, closing to point-blank range. The third was suffering from a bridge hit – a lucky shot from Gyles’ Vosper, and spent the next few turns racing in circles. In fact we were now so close to each other that we began threading through each other, with all the boats doing top speed. In Narrow Seas a ship can be disrupted by enemy fire, which makes it harder to fire back. Well, Lindsay’s R-boats were both disordered from Mally’s flanking fire, and he even knocked out a couple of German gun mounts. So, when I raced past them with my two boats, I survived the exchange of fire, and really pelted one of the two R-Boats. In fact, my Vosper passed close enough my crew could have tossed a biscuit on board her.The result was the R-Boat was left limping along at quarter speed, he hull peppered with holes, and her bridge hit, meaning the boat was going round in slow circles. Lindsay’s other R-boat then had to do a morale check, after taking fore from both Gyles and Mally. As a result her skipper decided to call it a day, and head back to Boulogne. Still, the Germans were fighting back. Sean’s E-boats had now knocked out all the guns in Gyles Vosper, and were still pummeling his Fairmile boat, which was badly crippled. It was firing back, but it only had one 2-pounder gun left to fight with. We were also running out of time, as a club AGM earlier had eaten into our playing time. With just one turn to go, and with Lindsay’s R-Boat drifting, and all her guns knocked out. In the rules this is described as being “wrecked” – adrift in the middle of the Channel. So, throwing caution to the wind I revved up my Fairmile D and rammed her amidships. With a splintering of plywood and teak the side of the German boat was stove in, and she was left “wrecked” and all but sinking. She wouldn’t be going home. Mind you, my MGB was damaged too – but it was worth it. That’s where the game ended – a great free-for all “dog fight”, with only one “kill”. Still, despite the lack of sinkings there was a lot of firing and damage, and lots of racing around. Everyone had a great fun, and as usual the rules worked like a charm. Before you ask, you can pick up a copy of the rules – Narrow Seas by David Manley – from the online Wargames Vault. Highly recommended.