Friday, August 31, 2018

I'm Just Wild About Harry

In 1943 German general Arthur Hoppe legally changed his name to Harry.  His reason for doing so was apparently he felt he might gain a stronger hold on his men's affection if his name was Harry.  This is bizarre for a couple of reasons.  Firstly even in that bastion of free thought and democratic ideals that was the German Wehrmacht in 1943 it was rare for enlisted men to address their divisional commander by his christian name.  Secondly if General Hoppe really was that concerned about the opinion of the men under his command he could have made a start by not welcoming new arrivals to his division with the words, "You are here to die and to be quick about it!"  Simply adding, "but in the meantime please feel free to call me Harry," is unlikely to have been quite the morale booster he seems to have imagined.

Nevertheless the fact that General Hoppe would take such a step is testimony to the enduring magic of the name Harry.  Harry is a great name; friendly, approachable but with a hint of underlying vigour.  People will warm to a Harry in a way that they wouldn't to an Alistair while still hesitating to take advantage in the way that they would of a Clarence.  A lot of the popularity of Prince Harry can be attributed to his name.  Who couldn't like a prince named Harry?  Of course part of his popularity can also be attributed to the fact that he's the only member of the royal family that doesn't look like the results of a successful cross breeding programme of humans with frogs but don't underestimate the impact of the Harry.

Previously in this blog I have written about what an awesome name Gunnlaugur is.  I don't resile from those comments in the slightest but let's face it.  Gunnlaugur is a good name if you're a supervillain or an Icelandic male model.  Not too many people can pull Gunnlaugur off whereas most of us feel we could probably pull Harry off if we had to.  Please feel free to insert your own jokes at this point.

As for General Hoppe, sad to say his troops didn't call him Harry.  Behind his back they called him Stan Laurel due to his (physical only) resemblance to the famous comedian.  Still he probably wasn't wrong to try for Harry.  If newly arrived troops had learnt that their commander's name was Gunnlaugur then the least they would have expected is to be crammed into artillery shells and fired at the enemy.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Silly After Action Report - Barefoot Beaten

Captain Haruto Kitimura checked his platoon's positions one last time.  His men were ragged, pinch cheeked with hunger and more than one of them had a grenade near to hand just in case capture looked likely.  Kitimura tried to paste an encouraging smile onto his face.

"Come on lads, there can be no better place to die for the emperor than some god forsaken chunk of Burma that even the Burmese don't seem to be keen on keeping."  This was straight out of the "rallying the troops" text book but it didn't seem to be working.  Most of the men's attention was fixed on the cockroach a lucky soldier had caught, someone would eat well tonight.

Captain Kitimura sighed, glanced up and his depression deepened.  Major Jin Tanaka was approaching.  He turned his attention back to the cockroach, tempted to pull rank, but Major Tanaka gave him a cheery wave.

"Hello Kiti," he called.  The men chuckled and Kitimura cringed.  Tanaka dropped into the spider hole next to him.  "Heads up Kiti, apparently there's a whole bunch of Chinese coming this way.  Best be on your guard."  He glanced to the east, "Oh look, there they are now."

Kitimura stared at the waves of serious looking and depressingly well fed soldiers dashing from one patch of cover to another brandishing American made weapons.

"Don't worry Kiti," said Tanaka, "they're only Chinese.  They'll probably run if you shout loudly."  Suiting words to action he suddenly stood bolt upright and screamed "BANG!"  The Chinese kept coming.  Tanaka ducked back down again.

"Well I'm out of ideas, let me know if you think of something." He started to unlace his boots.

"What are you doing?" asked Kitimura.

"Do you know how hard it is to run in these things?"

So this is my latest clash with Ivan Kent.  We're playing scenario AP 99 - Bare Foot Beating which sees a large group of rather well armed and motivated Chinese troops (from the famous 38th Division) taking on a rather tatty bunch of Japanese who have the added handicap of being commanded by me.  Ivan, commanding the Chinese, has to sweep the Japanese defenders from a small village in Burma (I know, Japanese fighting Chinese so naturally they're doing it in Burma.  If you have to fight a war the best place to do it is somewhere else).  The Chinese have to capture a group of buildings (about eight in number) adjacent to a small stretch of road.  Failure will allow the Japanese to continue to starve slowly to death a long way from home.  How's that for motivation?

To prolong the Japanese agony I have seven squads, four first line and three second line with a couple on lmgs and a single mmg.  To add a little firepower to this ragged force I have a pair of 50mm knee mortars and a 70mm gun.  Fortifications are present in the form of one trench and four foxholes.  Ivan gets ten and a half elite Chinese squads with impressive firepower but less than brilliant range and a flanking force of four more that come in on the second turn.  Two mmgs, two lmgs a 60mm mortar and a bazooka for some reason add more firepower to the Chinese attack.

 Don't forget his reinforcements!  I repeated that over and over to myself as I did my set up.  Ivan's main force comes on the east (bottom) but he gets four squads of reinforcements that enter from the north thus threatening a flanking manoeuvre.  Once I had done my set up and we settled down to play I had a horrible realisation.  I had forgotten his reinforcements.

My set up
For some reason (probably hideous incompetence) I had felt that Ivan's main push would come to the south (left) to get behind me so I set up a mortar and a squad with an lmg in foxholes to prevent that happening.  The rest of my force I deployed so that they could easily fire on the hordes of enemy troops rushing along the south edge of the board.  To cover the north I set up a mortar team and my 70mm gun in the palm trees just in case Ivan didn't follow the script.  Ivan didn't follow the script.  I'm not saying the gun/mortar positioning was bad, it would just have benefited from a little infantry support so that they didn't die immediately.  As you can see from the Chinese entry locations Ivan obviously didn't agree with me about the benefits of attacking in the south.

In fact "north" is a better description of the location Ivan chose for his attack.  I trembled for my mortar and gun.  And then I remembered his reinforcements.  Crap!  Ivan sent his half squad charging boldly forward but my men retained fire discipline and waited for the better targets.  They came and I managed to get a couple of acquisitions while Ivan shook himself out and prepared to unleash massive death on my isolated position.

End of Ivan's turn 1. Already I feel doomed.

In my turn I managed to strip some concealment and broke a squad toting a mmg (that was the 70mm) while behind the scenes I desperately started shuffling forces over to the north to stem the Chinese tide.  Fortunately time was bought for me by my gallant gun crew who attempted to overcome the limitations of their commander with raw courage.  The mortar crew died under a hail of fire but the gun crew stood up nobly until his halfsquad jumped into CC with them.  Then my sniper pinned the halfsquad and my crew killed them, remanned the gun and with a plethora of targets broke another Chinese squad running through the palm trees. 

End of Chinese turn 2

Ivan had moved a CX squad into a building next to a second line squad of mine and I licked my lips at the prospect of CC however in his defensive fire phase he gained a morale check and sent my boys berserk.  This meant they couldn't advance and had to sit there until the next turn when he advanced without CX against my now lax berserkers and killed them. 

 Infuriated by the defiance of my gun crew Ivan committed three full squads to taking out the gun crew in CC.  They succeeded but doing so tied them up for a while Meanwhile he had raced a fanatic squad around behind them who were crushed by fire from berserkers before they succumbed in CC.  Meanwhile his reinforcements came on as far to the west as they could and pushed towards the village.  Now however I had managed to scramble some troops up to positions where they might be able to put up a defence.  It hasn't really happened yet but one lives in hope.  I abandoned my positions in the south, the squads heading towards the village to bolster the garrison.  The mortar lugging halfsquad I advanced forward.  I figured they were doomed anyway so I might as well try to shoot some of his troops in the back.

At the end of Japanese turn three I have managed to build up a defensive position but with the Chinese having taking few casualties it remains to be seen whether or not I can survive the firepower about to rain down on my troops unhappy heads.  So far my own shooting hasn't been stellar but there was one happy moment when I advanced a second line squad into CC with what turned out to be a dare death squad and an 8-0 leader.  Everyone died but I like to think that benefited me.  Certainly Ivan seemed a little upset.

My defenses are set but there are a disturbing number of Chinese bearing down on me.
I had decided that cowardice would be the better part of valour and as Ivan gradually brought up his forces for the final push I skulked and tried to snatch what concealment I could.  Sooner or later he was going to have to charge forward and I would be ready.  Of course it would have been nice if I could have shot some of his troops en route but Ivan produced enough smoke for a decent sized bushfire and got up adjacent to the road largely unscathed.  The one morale check I did inflict resulted in the target squad going fanatic and generating a hero.  Defensive fire got a little unpopular after that.

My, that's a lot of Chinese

I had successfully pulled back and faced the future with relative confidence.  Ivan had it all to do and was running out of time.  With an lmg squad positioned in the furthest  victory building as a backstop I challenged Ivan to do his worst.  I suppose I shouldn't complain when he did precisely that.  Firstly he cheerfully wounded my best officer and tactically routed a broken unit to where it would cause great pain when it self rallied.  Then a half squad of mine toting an lmg was broken and fled to a foxhole from where it would be in a terrible position when it failed to self rally.

Before the human wave
Still I was reasonably confident. My main problem was that I didn't have that many troops left.  Of the impressive looking force shown above two stacks are dummies.  Still with only two turns to go the pressure was on Ivan.

Ivan's response?  A massive human wave to get him across the road and into my defences.  I should have expected this, it's just a variant on his usual running around in the open tactic but with an added morale benefit.  I don't think I've ever been the recipient of a human wave before.  I can't say I like them.  His boys, eight squads worth I think guided by a 9-1 and a hero poured out into the street and met a hail of fire.  An 8-2 shot, a 4-2 shot, a 2-2 shot and a 1-2 shot.  The result, one Chinese squad killed and another broken.  The rest surged on and quite literally obliterated my remaining OB.

After the human wave.  Can you spot the subtle difference?
Just to add icing to the cake Ivan moved an unemployed unit next to my mmg team who failed to inflict any harm on them.  They too would die without inflicting the slightest pain on the enemy.  I guess the human wave was a bit risky but Ivan set it up well.  His guys didn't have far to go and my propensity for failing FPF didn't help my cause.  When the dust had cleared I had one second line half squad locked in melee with two Chinese squads and my rear position occupied by a second line squad, lmg, a leader and a broken half squad.  The latter was dealt with efficiently when I killed it attempting a rally.  I stumbled on into my turn hoping for a miracle although possibly only a plane crash landing on Ivan's house would have helped me at this point.  When Ivan striped my remaining squad with a single shot and had half the Chinese army lining up to kill it I took the hint and surrendered.  Once again I had gone from quietly confident (Ivan might dispute the "quietly") to a tear streaked gibbering wreck in the space of a single turn.  Kudos to Ivan who out manoeuvred me at the first and then kept me on the backfoot until the final, in retrospect, inevitable end.

Two Chinese soldiers were searching through the wreckage of the Japanese position.  They knew better than to expect to find food but perhaps a little military loot was a possibility.  One of them suddenly lunged forward and held up his prize, a pair of beautifully kept officers' boots.
"Nice score Wang," said his comrade enviously, he peered a little closer.  "But why does it look like a couple of bites have been taken out of them?"

This was more

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

He's Hurt! Somebody Call an Ambulant

Something has been concerning me about my workplace in recent months.  Whenever I go to the bathroom (something happening a little more frequently as my prostate gets even less interested in its job than I am in mine) I notice a rather large cubicle bulking at the end of the row.  On the door is a sign "Male Ambulant Toilet".

I have to admit this confused me for quite a while.  I actually thought an ambulant was a sort of fleshy plant of the cactus variety.  I knew we had an equal opportunity employment policy but we do tend to stick within our own species.  Even if we didn't I wasn't aware that a cactus needed a specially large toilet cubicle.  Consumed with curiosity I couldn't help peeking inside to see what sort of toilet facilities your standard office working cactus could expect to enjoy.

I was a little disappointed to discover it was basically a disabled toilet.  Apparently ambulant didn't mean what I thought it did (or possibly a cactus needs a rail to hold on to).  Some hasty research on wikipedia told me that an ambulant was somebody who could walk.  Even in today's climate that seemed to be stretching the definition of disability to its limits but a closer look informed me that there was a certain implication that while walking was possible it wasn't perhaps to be taken for granted in quite the same way as a non ambulant person would.

So, to clarify; a non ambulant is a person who has no problems walking.  An ambulant is somebody who does have problems walking, at least theoretically, you certainly wouldn't bet on them in a marathon for example.  Such people are granted a cubicle to themselves.  The genuinely crippled can just piss themselves at their desk same as always.

The men's toilet isn't particularly large but even so I do have to query the wisdom of placing the toilet cubicle for those who have difficulty walking right at the end.  Just inside the door would appear to be a kinder option if you really are worried about whether the subjects legs will actually get them to their destination.  I'm also a little curious about the necessity of putting the word "male" on a door deep inside the men's toilets.  If you've got past the door saying "Men" and walked passed the urinals and you still think you're in the women's toilets you have more problems than merely being ambulant.

I don't know from personal experience (honest officer) but I'm sure that the women's toilet will also have a cubicle set aside for those with a limp.  I can't help wondering if that cubicle helpfully informs the nearsighted ambulant that they have to be female to proceed any further.  I also wonder what happens if an ambulant gets that far, reads the sign and goes, "Damn!" and promptly hobbles out to find the other toilet.  Presumably the cubicle in the men's is for ambulants who are male, ambulants who identify as male and males who identify as ambulants.

Having an ambulant toilet cubicle is actually a blessing.  It's big and roomy so its ideal for changing into my soccer gear before running around a field in a distinctly non ambulant fashion.  I don't think I've ever encountered an ambulant going in or out of it but since its always being used by people changing for exercise they probably just can't get there in time.  You know, what with being ambulants and all.  Fortunately there are three other cubicles they can use, all of which are closer to the door.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dividing the Human Race Into Four Parts

One of my favourite sayings (and only slightly tongue in cheek) is that communism is simply fascism for educated people.  Ultimately it all boils down to tyranny by a self appointed elite but only one of them will get the poets and the playwrights on side.  More and more it appears to me that the difference between stupid people and intelligent people is largely a matter of vocabulary.

In an attempt to be helpful I have divided the population of the planet up into four broad groups as follows;
  • Stupid Stupid People
  • Intelligent Stupid People
  • Stupid Intelligent People
  • Intelligent Intelligent People
 Stupid stupid people are the kind you see on reality tv programmes.  Dumb as a box of hammers and blissfully unaware of the fact.  These people will lurch from disaster to disaster confidently making a complete pigs breakfast out of their lives and the lives of those unfortunate enough to be associated with them in the sure and certain knowledge that they know what they're doing.  Herd them together, threaten them with punishment and these people can be foot soldiers, or reality tv stars.

Then there are intelligent stupid people.  Not necessarily any smarter than the preceding they differ because of their self awareness.  Aware of their short comings they tend to be cautious, to do what is proven to work and take advice when they're out of their depth.  These people don't necessarily do all the work but they do ensure that the work gets done and to a minimum standard of efficiency.  They are the NCOs of the human race.

After them come the stupid intelligent people.  These people are genuinely bright.  They have good ideas, they are creative, they've frequently acquired an education and done quite well at it.  They are also well aware of this and have difficulty comprehending that there might be smarter people than them or that the less intelligent, less well educated person who has been doing the job for twenty years might have something to teach them.  These people make up the junior and middle rank officers of the human race or, to use a non military term, the intelligentsia.  If nothing goes wrong then they may do quite well in life and die with some genuine achievements to their name or at least what they fondly imagine are genuine achievements.  If something does go wrong they will generally refuse to acknowledge it until its too late, if at all.

Intelligent intelligent people are as smart as the previous group, possibly smarter.  They are aware that they do not know it all and are not afraid to ask the person who does.  They then take that information and use it to their advantage.  They might be our generals but I strongly suspect that they're far too smart to be involved at all.  I'm not sure if I've ever met an intelligent intelligent person.  I certainly wouldn't claim to be one myself (I hover somewhere between stupid stupid and stupid intelligent depending on the situation).

If you think that you're an intelligent intelligent person the only thing I can state with certainty is that you're not an intelligent stupid person.

Silly After Action Report

Colonel Ion Surchanrescu checked himself in front of the mirror, his uniform fit him like a glove, medal ribbons and braid gleamed against the dark background.  Taking his cap from the waiting adjutant he strode out to face the paraded soldiers.  A second later he was back again.

"Who the hell are they?" he demanded of his adjutant.

"That's your regiment sir," replied the adjutant.  "You've commanded them for five years."

"So that's what they look like, fascinating."  Surchanrescu settled his cap firmly on his head and went back out to face his command.

"Brave soldiers of Romania," he began.

The brave soldiers of Romania politely waited for him to continue.  Seeing they weren't actively throwing things Surchanrescu took heart and continued,

"Brave soldiers of Romania, the day you have long awaited has finally arrived.  Today the glorious arms of Romania sally forth against the Soviet oppressors.  For too long our brothers in beloved Bessarabia have groaned under the foreigners yoke.  Now you, the cream of the Romanian army, will be their deliverers.  Mighty forces have been gathered, our matchless tank forces ride with us," he gestured at a half dozen small, rusty tin boxes studded at random around the field.  A soldier was ashing his cigarette into one.  "There can only be one battlecry; Liberate Bessarabia!"  He pointed helpfully, "it's that way.  Let me know how you get on."

As the colonel retired to his quarters one of the Romanian soldiers turned to his neighbour.

"Are we really the cream of the Romanian army?"

"Must be," replied the other, "look at all of the clots at the top."

Having failed dismally with elite German troops I have swung to the opposite pole and will now be commanding the "cream of the Romanian army" (sadly true) in ASL Scenario 113 - Liberating Bessarabia.  Here I shall command some fourteen first line Romanian squads as they attempt the aforementioned liberating depicted here by capturing half a dozen multihex buildings.  Along with my squads I have three officers, a trio of light machine guns, two medium machine guns and a second hand french mortar.  Armoured support is provided by a pair of R-1 tanks (essentially a machine gun carrier) and four R-2s which at least have a 37mm gun in addition to a pretty impressive collection of machine guns.

Facing this unstoppable Romanian horde are the hapless Soviets commanded by Ivan Kent, my god I feel sorry for him.  He has seven first line squads and four conscripts to hang onto this small slice of Bessarabian real estate.  Backing up these troops are two officers, a pair of light and a pair of medium machine guns plus an anti tank rifle.  In a futile attempt to stem the Romanian tide he also has armour, a pair of BA-6 armoured cars and a pair of BT-2A tanks.  All four, whatever their shortcomings are capable of pounding my armoured force to scrap.

Ivan surprised me with his set up.  Not one squad was up on the first level.  Instead the bulk of his force occupied the ground floor of buildings facing the road with a speed bump forward on the (his) left.  Ivan also surprised me by presenting me with not four but six large concealment stacks obviously trying to spread a little confusion about the location of his vehicles

My plan was to hit hard on his right and firmly in the centre while trying to avoid his tanks until things had become a little more clear.  Over on the left I sent a flanking force of three squads and a 7-0 (shepherded by my little R-1s) to at least give him something to think about.  On the right my 9-1 guided a pair of mmg toting squads forward to the closest of the victory buildings.  In the centre my tanks escorted the rest of my force forward to the gully.  On the far right I sent a squad racing directly up the road.  Ivan knew this was simply to tempt him to drop concealment on a vehicle but ultimately he couldn't resist the temptation.  His machine gun fire was wayward but a MA shot pinned my guys in the street.  Mission accomplished, I prepared the letters for their families but to my astonishment they would survive.

End of Romanian turn 1

The first turn had been light on fire as my troops had done their best to close the range without getting hurt and there aren't too many good fire opportunities from where Ivan has to set up.  Come my second turn this would change.  Badly.

But first a brief moment of delight.  Ivan opened up on the squad that had been pinned in the street and only succeeded in breaking his MA.  Result!  After that things went downhill a bit.  Actually a lot.

In the centre my troops and tanks emerged blinking from the gully to snatch another victory building.  I also pushed a tank up behind a wall to where it had a line of sight to his own vehicles behind a wall on the other side of the road.  A little risky I know but I had a wall to be hull down behind.  Ivan didn't worry about the wall, he just blew the turret off my tank with his first shot.  After that inadvertently wandering into a 2-2 shot, boxcarring the morale check and converting a first line squad into a broken conscript half squad was simply icing on the cake.  Worse was to come though, in the left centre I had pushed a pair of lmg toting squads forward to seize another multihex building.  Technically I succeeded.

Over on the far left came a modest success.  Having shepherded my flanking force to some convenient buildings my little R-1s turned around and bypass sleazed a conscript squad sitting out alone in a building, Ivan tried to street fight them without success and return fire pinned them.  I boldly sallied forth with a couple of squads to close combat them but Ivan declined to hang around and voluntarily broke them.  Meanwhile my mortar and a tank were pounding away at the big building on the left.  They weren't achieving much but the double acquisitions disinclined Ivan to hang around.

Things look good apart from the destroyed tank

 Then in his turn Ivan fired on my troops in the building and achieved a morale check.  With an 8-0 leader and two seven morale squads you might expect me to pass one of the checks.  You would be wrong.  Suddenly I was desperately short of infantry on the left.

On the right my infantry survived simply because I didn't do anything with them.  I told myself I was preparing for a major push, its entirely possible that I was too scared to move them.  On his third turn Ivan broke the malfed MA on his armoured car on the right and it had to retire.  Not wishing to let it go at that I fired at the damned thing and blew it up (because I'm a sadistic bastard).  Ivan moved the other vehicle over to the centre to dominate the middle road.

After all the disastrous morale checks I was then the recipient of a bit of good luck on the left when a sniper broke one of his squads in the main building there.  This allowed my pair of squads to sneak into the building.  I was tempted to race my 7-0 and remaining squad over to join them but feared Ivan's mmg firing down the road so they stayed in their building.  Ivan's mmg then promptly broke them both building or no building.  To press further on the left I sent my little R-1s on a loop around to the rear which they managed, even surviving a shot from an atr in passing.  Nothing loathe I sent one of my remaining R-2s to join them.  On the right I rolled my tank forward to engage his infantry.  My only achievement was to break my own MA but I still have the machine guns.

End of turn 3 not looking so good
This is where we left it for the night.  I'm hoping I'm in a good position and if I manage to pass the odd morale check I might even win.

Part 2 - Tanks Burning Bright

Over on the right Ivan conceded territory as he was disinclined to allow his troops to face the awesome machine guns of my tank.  This allowed me to pour infantry across the road and snatch positions in the victory building.  I had the bit between my teeth now and was eagerly anticipating the win.  I was looking forward to enveloping him on both flanks.  Frankly I should have known better.  
Over on the left Ivan failed to hurt my troops in the building and I managed to break his atr squad in return.  Bereft of rout paths it surrendered to the tender mercies of my troops who at present were more than ready to take prisoners.  My broken squads managed to rally, finally, and somewhat nervously slunk back into the building they had been unceremoniously shot out of.  In the left hand building Ivan surprised me by advancing the concealed stack I was certain were dummies into close combat with one of my squads.  Then suddenly close combat was my friend.  Despite being concealed he failed to ambush me and I rolled snakes annihilating his squad and generating an 8-0 leader into the bargain.  Which was useful as my broken 7-0 had self promoted itself to angel having boxcarred a rally attempt.  In my next turn I would massacre a squad and a half of broken troops to fully claim the building as my own.  Meanwhile I swung my tanks around into his rear.  His guns were all pointing the wrong way and my own tanks were small targets into the bargain.  I thought it was a risk worth taking.

Looking good

I was terribly, terribly wrong.  In Ivan's next turn he fired on one of my tanks with his armoured car, rolled snake eyes and burnt it.  Maintaining rate he fired through the smoke at my R-2, rolled a three and burnt it.  Switching to one of his other tanks he fired at my remaining vehicle, rolled a snake eyes and burnt it.  Half my tank force wiped out in a single fire phase.  Eventually Ivan coaxed me out of my foetal position and persuaded me to keep playing.  There had been one bit of good news.  Ivan had a squad/mmg combo guided by his 9-1 hiding under one of his tanks and controlling the road.  My sniper, activated by one of the snake eyes leapt on these wretches and broke the squad.  Suddenly Ivan was bereft of infantry on the left.  Which didn't seem to matter too much.  As part of my general advance I had pushed a squad with a captured atr next to one of his tanks.  When I had three tanks in the vicinity this seemed a calculated risk.  With nothing else to shoot at Ivan cranked his turret around and broke them.

Oh dear Christ almighty!

Fortunately while things were going to hell on the left they were developing quite nicely on the right.  Ivan was running out of troops.  He had pulled a squad and a leader back to a more rearward building (scotching idle plans I had of a deep flanking manoeuvre) but abandoning the rest of his defence to a ravening mass of Romanian troops out for revenge.  Methodically I pushed troops to the left, not taking any chances, and slowly squeezed him out of his forward positions while my mmg squads pushed forward to take out his rearward troops.  Even better news was that Ivan had finally broken the MA of that bastard armoured car.

Pushing forward despite the losses
I even managed to rally the squads in the building on the left.  Ivan now had too many holes to plug and not enough troops.  Abandoning the left he raced first his armoured car and then both tanks over to the right. Bizarrely he drove his armoured car right next to an mmg toting squad with the crew exposed.  A 12+2 shot promptly stunned it.  The next turn he would attempt to repair the main armament, roll a six and lose it to recall.  The recalled armoured cars were the only vehicle losses he suffered in the entire game.  With the left open I raced a squad and leader down the left to start grabbing undefended buildings while planning a more methodical push on the right.  But before that could happen Ivan fired in the advancing fire phase at my tank on the right, rolled a three and burnt it.  I had precisely one tank left however it didn't matter.  With the left completely open and only a couple of squads left unbroken Ivan had nothing to stop my infantry.  He surrendered at the end of Romanian turn six.

End game.  A rare triumph.

Ivan felt this one to be hard for the Soviets and I've got to admit that while losing three tanks in one turn was a shocker for the personal morale I never felt like I was going to lose (well, maybe briefly).  The sniper taking out his mmg position was a bonus but I had a mortar zeroed in on that hex and surely it would have got a result eventually.  Eventually my squads overwhelmed him by weight of numbers on the right.  Thanks to Ivan for the game and with ASLOK fast approaching a much needed morale boost for me.

Colonel Surchanrescu picked his way gingerly across the battlefield carefully avoiding getting smudges on his gleaming cavalry boots.  Spotting a rather scruffy soldier and (after peering carefully) determining that he was Romanian he called him across.

"Did we win?"

The soldier made a gesture that could generously be interpreted as a salute.

"Yes sir, six buildings worth of Bessarabia have had the crap liberated out them."

"Exellent, I'll get a medal for this."  Surchanrescu beckoned to his adjutant and pointed to a burning tank.  "Did you bring the marshmallows?"