Tuesday, April 27, 2021

In the Pink

 I am getting pretty frigging annoyed at the various non colours of the moon.  Tonight was supposed to be a pink moon and a super moon into the bargain.  Despite bitter experience looking in vain for blue and orange moons I nevertheless directed an eye skyward in the hopes that the gargantuan lump of rock hulking over our heads would turn an improbable shade of puce.  Naturally I was disappointed.

Seething with rage I stumbled home to try and find some reason for being once again let down by our nearest astronomical neighbour.  The super moon bit is easy to explain.  It happens when a full moon occurs when the Moon is at its closest to Earth.  The Moon does indeed look a bit bigger although you'll need a tape measure and a record of the previous full moon size to really be able to tell the difference.  And in any event apparently the Moon was at its closest twelve hours ago when nobody in this hemisphere was really paying attention. 

The pink moon bit is a little more difficult to explain.  To understand why this moon might be designated pink you have to understand the human tendency to take a perfectly ordinary natural phenomenon and then make up outlandish crap around it.  These stories are passed down from one generation to the next in the hopes that one day they will give astronomers and physicists a much needed snigger when they reflect on the foolishness of their less educated fellows.

Apparently a pink moon is one that turns up in April.  Specifically in April in North America.  It is called a pink moon because a pink type of moss happens to be flowering at the same time.  Somebody should tell these people that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation.  It appears to have a Native American origin presumably because after a few centuries out on the prairies looking at the same old moon every month you get a bit silly and want to start messing with people's heads.

Whatever the reason I do understand that it might be important in days gone by, when people were closer to nature than they are now, to be able to nail down exactly what sort of moon it was and when.  It was vital for indigenous people to know, for example, when they could tend their midnight gardens without fear of werewolf attack.  All it does now is convince a group of pathetically gullible people (guilty as charged your honour) to stare skyward at a rather dull and lifeless satellite that hasn't changed to any appreciable degree in the last several million years.

And don't get me started on blue moons.  They at least have some trace of basis in reality.  The Moon of course doesn't turn blue but if there is smoke in the sky and the ash particles are within a certain size range they will diffuse sufficient of the red light spectrum to give the moon a bluish tinge.  If anybody understood the previous sentence please explain it to me.*  Nevertheless blue moons are blue in much the same way as greyhounds are blue.  That is, they aren't but people with the desperation which comes from knowing that they have nailed their colours to the mast of a sinking ship insist on referring to them as blue anyway.

I have seen a red moon.  Australia gets a lot of bushfires so the occasional red moon isn't really that surprising. It's still pretty gruesome when it occurs though.  The moon resembles an internal organ swollen to the point of bursting and is definitely an encouragement to get home as soon as possible.  Any werewolves roaming the streets will take one look and book themselves in for an all body waxing (inadvertent moon joke provided free).

So I've had it with the pink moon and I've had it with the super moon.  I've just taken a look online and found out what astronomers actually call the phenomenon looming in the sky above us.  They call it a perigee-syzygy moon.  And there you have a perfect explanation for why we tend to go with terms like super moon instead.

*Not you Dad.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Silly After Action Report - Messervy's Men

 Tenente Carlo Monti was doing his best to inspire the frankly skeptical looking African soldiers who were at least notionally under his command.  He wasn't getting much help from his fellow tenente who was sitting on a nearby rock drinking something that was almost certainly not water from his flask.

"Dig it in lads," said Monti in what he hoped was an encouraging tone.  "A magnificent artillery piece like this will surely help us win the battle."  His colleague choked on a mouthful and sent a spray of  suspiciously rosé coloured "water" onto the rocks in front of him.

One of the banda soldiers stared at the weapon that was the undeserving recipient of his officer's praise.  He knew little about modern European artillery practice but he was fairly certain that the weapon in front of him was not cutting edge.  Peering at the barrel a little more closely he made out some writing engraved in the metal and asked the over eager tenente what it said.

Monti thought quickly, "A message of encouragement from il Duce himself to his brave African soldiers," he announced.  With the weapon dug in as much as possible in the thin brush and stony soil Monti moved to inspect the other positions.  On his way he was stopped by his colleague.

"What did it really say on that gun barrel?"

Monti looked around quickly before lowering his voice.

"Property of Franz Josef I. If found return to the Hofburg, Vienna.  Reward offered."

"Do you think it's too late?" 

In my increasing desperate efforts to gain a victory I have fallen back on my ever dependable Italians.  Just think about that sentence for a moment.  I'll give you a minute to stop laughing.  Done now?  Good.

Dave Wilson, possibly out of pity, agreed to play Scenario J127 - Messervy's Men which pitches a second line force of British (mainly Indian) trying to displace a force of first line Italians from a hilltop.  To do the displacing Dave has thirteen second line squads at his disposal (plus a first line halfsquad for some reason).  These warriors of the Punjab are headed by three officers (including a 9-1) and are equipped with a pair of 51mm mortars, a pair of light machine guns, a medium machine gun and an anti tank rifle.  Providing "armoured" support are a pair of Rolls Royce armoured cars and a pair of carriers.  The British have to seize the two right most hilltop hexes and ensure that no Italians are adjacent to level four hill hexes.  Should they lose more than 26 CVP in the attempt the Italians automatically win.

Grimly determined that this particular hill shall remain in the hands of the people who stole it most recently are my forces; ten first line squads (not a match in either firepower or morale for the British second liners), a pair of unimpressive officers plus a light machine gun, a medium machine gun, an antitank rifle and a 45mm mortar.  Providing some superannuated heavy metal is a positively ancient 70mm gun that the Italians captured from the Austro-Hungarians in the previous war.  I also have five small mounds of rocks to hide under.  Should my defences survive intact until turn three I receive reinforcements in the shape of a pair of first line squads toting another lmg and led by an inspiring 7-0 and supported by an M11/39 tank.  It is rare that an M11/39 can claim to be queen of the battlefield but of all the armour on the field that day it was the least wretched.  It was also the least effective.  Lest the men think they were fighting alone the Regia Aeronautica would put in a brief appearance to carry out a strafing run having expended their bombs on some menacing looking bushes in the rear.

I made so many mistakes in this game it is embarrassing (and possibly difficult) to record them all.  Nevertheless I shall try as I feel I serve as a warning to fresh young players about what happens when you don't read victory conditions, understand the rules or pay attention to the map.

The British forces come on from the south west (bottom left).  They can enter on the west edge or the south edge up to hex I10.  To help them on their way they get an automatic smoke concentration to blind the no doubt eagle eyes of the defenders.  Below is my set up.  As you can see the bulk of my force is at the top of the hill with a couple of outposts and some dummies further down.  You will all see a decent force in the (light) woods on the right.  That's because I didn't pay enough attention to the entry conditions and thought the British could enter anywhere on the southern edge.

Despite this idiocy I didn't think I had a bad position.  On the top of the hill I had (reading from left to right) a squad with the antitank rifle, the 70mm, a squad, mmg and 8-1 and a squad with the 45mm mortar.  This was to cover the open ground which was the most convenient way to get to the top of the hill.  Dave did in fact choose this route however the amount of damage I did to him along the way was negligible.

At start

Dave started with his smoke concentration.  It wasn't accurate but the misdirection turned a good smoke placement into a perfect one.  His entire approach was shrouded with smoke and his troops would be up next to me before I could fire a useful shot.  I had a squad with an lmg in the building to the south which served to prove that 6-2 is a useless shot if you roll high enough.  It then died in close combat.

The main obstacle to Dave's advance is the difficulty of climbing a hill covered in smoke
Seriously the principal difficulty Dave encountered was the terrain.  Sweating under their CX counters his troops laboured up the hill to a complete absence of Italian fire.  With one small but glorious exception.  He posted an armoured car in bypass on the left to no doubt assist his troops when they reached the summit.  Realising he was unlikely to get another shot (correct) my atr squad popped its head out of the sangar and took it out in my next prep fire phase.

Having realised that Dave wasn't going to enter on the parts of the board he wasn't allowed to I moved some of my right hand forces a little towards the centre.  The next turn or two were very light on firing as Dave choked forward through the smoke and my troops peered into the haze trying to see anything to shoot.  In the rear Dave had brought on his mortars and mmg team to start taking shots at the few things that weren't completely obscured.  I spent the time futilely trying to dig foxholes for the troops without sangars.  No foxholes were dug during the course of the game.  Incidentally you may have noticed that there are only three sangars, I kinda forgot the other two, my bad.

It's all very peaceful really

Still we were three turns in and my defences were holding (ie hadn't actually been tested yet).  And now my reinforcements arrived.  The squads and leader scurried across the bridge in the north and made it into the woods on the hill without event which just left the tank, my queen of the battlefield.  I drove it on, bogged it in some woods and broke the 37mm gun on the first shot.  It was painfully obvious I would need to do this without armoured support.

Meanwhile my defences which had been holding well proved incapable of continuing to do so now that Dave could actually inflict harm on them.  My atr squad was broken and chased out of its sangar.  In the rally phase they would roll snake eyes and would spend the rest of the game disrupted.  With his smokescreen gone Dave used his mortar to blind the eyes of my mmg team and pushed forward.  In doing so he marched a leader and a squad and a half directly in front of my still HIP 70mm.  I did manage to break one of the squads but frankly the gun crew performed more service by surviving two rounds of close combat immediately afterwards.

This is going well
Despite the slowly mounting series of disasters time was running out for Dave, we were four turns in of six and I still held the victory hexes and had plenty of troops available to be adjacent to level four hill hexes at the end.  I would need to make an unholy mess of things to guarantee defeat from here.

So I made an unholy mess of things.  Dave eventually killed my gun crew and turned the ancient piece on its previous owners (Franz Josef's revenge) fortunately without result.  My air support turned up, saw four hexes worth of British troops neatly laid out in a row and conducted a strafing run which broke precisely one halfsquad.  British firepower crushed the occupants of the remaining sangars (what a pity I hadn't had a couple more hey?) but time was now running extremely short.

At this point my stupidity reached drooling halfwit levels.  With Dave staring at the Italian forces still adjacent to the relevant hill hexes and with only a turn to go wondering how he was going to guarantee the win I advanced the bulk of my force out into the open.  Why?  You may ask.  Good question.  I had completely failed to notice that one of the wooded hexes was adjacent to a level four hill hex and thought I needed to move forward.  If instead I had defended that particular hex with tooth and claw I might just have scraped a win despite the preceding cock ups.  Just to add insult to self inflicted injury Dave's mmg team went on a rate tear in which he didn't roll more than four and wiped out the surviving Italians before any of his soldiers needed to move.

The end
I selected this scenario because, well, Italians.  But I also checked it on ROAR and the results were Italian 34 to British 29 which didn't seem too unbalanced.  Given the level of ineptitude I needed to display in order to lose I can't help wondering how the British racked up that many wins.  Anyway victory to Dave who deserved it simply because he wasn't a howling imbecile.  Dave has chosen a scenario from Red Barricades for our next game.  Hopefully that's a little more forgiving of incompetent play.

A British officer was overseeing the marshalling of prisoners and the stacking of captured firearms when a sudden movement caught his eye.

"You there, what are you doing?"

The soldiers addressed saluted sheepishly, "Nothing sahib."  

"What's that you've got under the tarpaulin?"

There was no answer so he strode across and jerked away the offending material.  An ancient artillery piece was revealed.

"Where on earth do you think you're taking that?" he demanded.


Friday, April 16, 2021

A Different Country Club

 I've been enjoying a bit of tennis lately.  To be more honest I've been sitting around in my lounge room while my television considerately beams tennis into my home.  From time to time I look up to see what's going on.  Front and centre of the tennis world at the moment is the Monte Carlo Masters which is held at that bastion of egalitarian entertainment the Monte Carlo Country Club.  Here the greats of the tennis world (or at least the male part of it) can do battle on the red clay every day and make it home in time for tea since most of them seem to live in Monaco.

I took a look at the Monte Carlo Country Club (virtually of course, I doubt if I would meet the entry requirements).  It is most impressive; court after court of red clay stretches to the horizon, elegant buildings hover over the arenas, although not so completely that spectators can't get amazing views of the Mediterranean when they're bored with the tennis.  The courts have names like Court Rainier III and the club is run (or at least headed by) a member of Monaco's princely family.  This is all very impressive but one thing kept nagging at me.  How in the hell do you have a country club when there's barely any country to put it in?  Let's face it, you'd have to expel the entire population of Monaco if you wanted to build a golf course there.

The answer of course is simple, the country club does indeed have a country to be located in and that country is France.  Despite the name, the rue Princess Grace address and the Monegasque flag* fluttering proudly over the buildings the whole damn thing is plonked just outside Monaco in neighbouring France.  To be fair this part of France used to belong to Monaco until the middle eighteen hundreds.  It may be that Monaco is attempting a creeping reconquest by purchase.

Putting aside the geopolitical ambitions of the House of Grimaldi for a moment ("Today; Menton, tomorrow; the world") it has to be admitted that I'm becoming increasingly obsessed with Monaco.  My desire to visit this strange land with its expatriate country clubs and militarised fire brigade has been increasing over the years.  The odd thing about this is I have absolutely no interest in things for which Monaco is famous.  Super yachts, designer clothing, casinos and the like leave me cold.  Even my interest in money laundering is purely professional and I can only dream of earning enough to make evading tax by residing in Monaco a viable option.  

Nevertheless the principality calls to me, summoning me to see the palace of the prince, the pint sized zoo, the narrow streets of Monaco-Ville and the faint but real possibility of meeting a genuine Monegasque lurking somewhere among the teeming crowds of tourists, tax evaders, corporate criminals and the various remora fish who feed on the scraps such people leave behind.  Sadly both pandemic and finances mean that such things are in the increasingly distant looking future.  For now I will have to settle for watching the Monte Carlo Masters on television, seeing the Monte Carlo Country Club in all its glory and thinking "I'd like to go to somewhere just down the road from there."

*For the record the Monegasque flag looks rather like the Indonesian one but with a French/Italian accent.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Plague Update #49 - Clots & Mice Edition

 I looked out the window the other day and realised that the plague was still going on.  Apart from wrapping myself in cellophane whenever I leave the house and having a nervous breakdown whenever I inadvertently encounter human contact* I had pretty much forgotten about it.  There have been so many other things for me to worry about.

Well ok, no there haven't.  There have been things for other people to worry about.  There were the floods for example which caused a problem for people who had bought houses on a flood plain (strangely enough) and in our rural areas a plague of mice was overrunning human settlements and driving terror stricken refugees onto the streets clutching their few remaining belongings as they fled the rodent horde.  One of those problems actually solved the other.

The flood also solved another problem that the government had brought upon itself.  The sudden inundation of large parts of NSW allowed the federal government to blame delays in the vaccination of the most disease prone segments of the population on the floods.  Once the flood waters, heavy with drowned mice, had abated the government had to fall back on its usual reserve position of blaming the state governments.  Normally this works because its believable, frequently true and nobody could bother working out where exactly to allocate the blame anyway.  On this occasion though the premiers of my noble home state and the overheated retirement home across the border arose in their collective wrath and pointed out that the reason they weren't vaccinating enough people was because the federal government hadn't given them enough vaccine.  The federal government said it would get back to them or something.

Possibly due to the fact that the government's vaccination target has been missed by about 75% the next thing the government did was blame the EU for not sending us the vaccine we bought.  Just in case your heart strings weren't tugged enough it also accused the EU of holding back the million doses we had bought for Papua New Guinea which is struggling with a national health crisis and its fair to say the pandemic isn't helping.  Shortly thereafter the government backtracked on those comments while sort of saying them out of the side of its mouth and loudly announced that it wasn't criticising the EU or anything.  

This has become standard operating practice for our federal government; make series of idiotic but somewhat confusing statements, issue clarifications which don't clarify anything and then sneak out the backdoor while everybody tries to figure out what, if anything, was actually said.  At some point somebody remembered that we're making the vaccine in this country and asked how that was going.  Apparently its going well.  Really really well.  Can we have some then?  No.  

My own vaccination does not appear to be any closer to becoming reality.  I'm in the wrong age bracket.  I'm too old to be considered the future of the nation and not old enough for my death to embarrass the government.  Hopefully by the time they get around to sticking a needle into my arm they will have ironed out the bumps, or rather clots, in the vaccine.  There is still a concern that one of the vaccines has the potential to reduce human blood to the consistency of badly cooked porridge.  This has happened so frequently that the number of casualties worldwide could fill a room.  As public health crises go it isn't perhaps the worst we have to deal with right now.

* My puffin points out I was doing both of those things well before the pandemic started**

** My plague doctor has noted that this is a classic case of imbalanced humours and an excess of black bile.  He recommends a treatment of leeches, cupping and occasional bleeding.  My puffin was almost disturbingly excited when he mentioned "bleeding".

Friday, April 2, 2021

Silly After Action Report - Beachhead at Ozereyka Bay

Captain Mihai Licorishcu regarded his German counterpart with polite dislike.  The German for his part saw no particular reason to be polite.

"Are you sure these clowns know what they're doing?"

"You mean the ones stuck out in holes in the snow while your troops managed to get themselves warm billets in the village?  Yes, they know what they're doing.  They're just not entirely sure why."

"The guns must be protected at all costs," replied the German.


"If they get destroyed we lose our deposit."

"So we're basically defending the credit rating of the Greater German Reich."

"And all Germany thanks you.  I'm going for lunch now, I'd invite you to join us but I don't want to."

After teetering on the cusp of victory in our previous scenario I suggested we try this old one from ASL Annual (remember them) 91.  Scenario A26 - Beachhead at Ozereyka Bay.  Here I shall command a small group of Romanians and an even smaller group of Germans attempting to persuade a disturbingly large number of Soviet troops to attack something else.  Dave Wilson will command the vengeance happy Soviets as they attempt to destroy a pair of hire purchase 105mm guns and exit troops off the board into the bargain.

By SSR the guns have to set up on a hill a long way from the exit location which means I have to defend two widely separated areas.  Possibly for this reason I have been given two widely separated forces.  Representing the Romanian team I have nine first line squads with a trio of deeply mediocre officers in "command".  Between them this force can muster two medium machine guns and two lights.  They also get three foxholes.  The German force consists of five second line squads with three much better leaders, a pair of light machine guns and an utterly pointless antitank rifle plus some concealment counters.  Up on the hill are the two 105mm guns whose existence must be preserved at all costs.

Leading the charge for the Soviets Dave has twenty squads, four elite and sixteen first line.  He has four officers led by a 9-1 and a plethora of support weapons with a high rate of fire; a heavy machine gun, two medium machine guns, four light machine guns, two 50mm mortars and an 82mm mortar.  Rolling on as reinforcements are a pair of Stuart tanks that the British bought from the Americans and promptly shipped to their Soviet allies.  The ground is covered in snow and the tears of terrified Romanians.

The set up requirements more or less dictate that the Romanians set up to protect the guns and the Germans set up to defend the exit locations that the Soviets must use.  The Soviets set up in the woods on the right hand side of the board.  In retrospect I have to admit that I botched the set up of the Romanians.  There's a fair amount of snow covered open ground that the Soviets have to cross before they can get to the hill with the guns and I thought it would be clever to position my Romanians to cover that ground.  Given my time again I would abandon the lot and set up a last stand position in the hills.  The Romanians have neither the firepower or the numbers to effectively contest that ground.  Below is the at start set up.

At start; Germans in the warm Romanians in the snow

As you can see with the exception of one lmg squad in a foxhole protecting the guns my Romanians have set up forward although not completely forward.  I was paranoid about his mortars so I set my troops up out of line of sight to grow concealment.  I also set up a pair of squads in crest status in the gullies to act as speed humps.  That sort of worked but it also condemned two squads to an early death so it probably wasn't worth it.  Incidentally you may notice that I said the Romanians have three foxholes but there are only two onboard.  I forgot one.  The Germans huddled snug and warm under their concealment counters in the village and let the Romanians take the strain for the first few turns.

As it turned out "take the strain" was an optimistic phrase, "disintegrate under the strain" might be a little more appropriate.  Thing started off with good news for me when his 82mm mortar turned out not to have any smoke.  Unfortunately it made up for this by having a ridiculous amount of HE which it used to smash and ELR the halfsquad manning one of my mmgs.

End Soviet turn 1

The other, smaller mortars added their two kopecks worth and one of them targeted and eventually took out my other mmg post.  The mortars were definitely the standout weapon on Dave's side.  Not the big one, that would break and malf a repair roll almost immediately as would his hmg.  The small 50mm mortars however brought a literal rain of death down onto my positions.  

Despite mmg woes for the first turn or so it looked like my forward defence strategy was working.  Up at the top end of the map opposite the hill I managed to break a squad or two while his troops moved gingerly into the white open spaces.  At the bottom of the map he moved forward with impunity but my German defenders buffed their nails and called for a second serving of afternoon tea; they would be ready when the time came.  It wasn't really my fault that one of my squads in a gully actually went berserk as a result of a HoB roll.  In their next movement phase they would charge to their deaths against a pair of cheerfully accommodating Soviet squads waiting for them to do just that.

One turn down, only ten more to go

With the Soviets starting to move into the open it was time to wheel up the big guns and then break them.  My forward 105mm took a shot, rolled boxcars and lost all interest in proceedings for several turns.  Down near the village Dave's tanks turned up at the earliest possible moment and raced forward to provide firepower and ten VPs (all he needed to exit) to his troops thereabouts.  My Germans having reluctantly left the stoves and heaters were now deployed in preparation for the coming attack. Dave hadn't progressed very far opposite the hills but that was about to change.  The thin green line of Romanians was about to be shredded.

My gully dwellers are not long for this world

With my forward defenders blown away Dave moved with impunity, only the sheer distance would delay him now as his troops tramped through the snow.  The only good news for me came when my sniper broke his mortar halfsquad at the bottom end of the map.  My sniper would exhibit an unnatural hatred for this guy and would eventually wind up killing him.  Dave's heavy support was reduced to a single 50mm mortar and a pair of heavy machine guns.  It would be enough.

Deciding, somewhat belatedly that my initial defensive plan had been a work of idiocy I attempted to pull back the tattered ruins of my Romanians in the hopes of making a last stand on the hill.  Most of them didn't make it.  Most of those who did were broken.

This is the end of Axis turn 3.  There are eight more to go for crying out loud

Dave's tanks rolled up to provide unnecessary fire support to his troops aiming for the village and dissuade me from any ideas of a gallant last stand.  It is fair to state that I had no such ideas.  Skulking, keeping concealment and only taking the most tempting of shots would be the order of the day.  Pity I didn't consider doing that with the Romanians.

Dave's tanks arrive, as if he needed more firepower

 It is fair to say that the well organised Romanian fighting withdrawal didn't happen.  Except bizarrely in the centre where a Romanian squad and conscript halfsquad managed to hop up onto the hill.  Dave got a little greedy and a squad and a half into CC with them rather than just blow them away in the next fire phase.  These magnificent heroes fought for three full turns despite the fact that Dave reinforced the melee with two further squads and an 8-1 leader.  At one point they were pretty much the only thing preventing the Soviets swarming over the hill.

Things are getting worse quickly
 Things then got slightly better and considerably worse for me.  Dave had rolled his tanks forward to support his troops as they moved into the village and I saw an opportunity and my rearmost (and currently only working) 105mm took a shot and smashed up a Stuart.  Hope filled my breast, perhaps things weren't completely hopeless after all.  To prove me wrong Dave positioned both mmgs with an 8-1 and at a range of sixteen hexes went on a rate tear that broke the crew of the surviving gun and sent them yelping for cover.  Meanwhile such of his forces as weren't locked in melee mounted the hill with only a single Romanian squad and lmg to stop them.

At this point there didn't seem to be much reason to carry on.  Both guns were out of action, there were precisely two unbroken Romanian squads left and one of them was in melee.  There seemed to be nothing to stop Dave sweeping the hill and then simply swarming the village defenders from all sides.  I decided to play one more turn and hope for a miracle.  If divine intervention hadn't occurred by the end of the turn I would concede the game.

The gods alone can save me
The trouble with relying on divine intervention is the sort of gods I tend to associate with.  Loki, Anrita and Dolos may be fun to drink with but asking for their help isn't the best use of available time.

So, I got my divine intervention.  I repaired the forward gun and my surviving Romanian squad managed to break a Soviet unit that had clearly forgotten their existence.  My other gun crew self rallied and reclaimed their weapon.  I plonked an acquisition counter down on his mortar unit and looked forward to a long, grim defence of the hill.  Meanwhile with one of his tanks destroyed Dave was hastening slowly in the village, gradually building up a force to push me out of position.

So much for divine intervention
In response to my divine intervention Dave's 50mm mortar gained a critical hit on the forward gun which wiped out gun and crew both.  Dave needed to capture or destroy both 105mm guns.  He was halfway there.  In the village he had forced his way into the building near the large woods (although my guys right at the bottom continued to hang tough.  The destruction of one of his tanks had imposed a little circumspection on Dave but he was gradually working his way forward, very soon I would run out of places to skulk to.  His troops on the hill (apart from those still locked in melee) pushed forwards and the writing it would appear was on the wall.  What I really needed was some more divine intervention.
With victory in sight Dave's forces pushed forward across the hill towards my remaining gun.  He even finally managed to win the close combat.  Down in the village he had taken a couple of losses (and the ability of his supposedly elite soldiers to break light machine guns was impressive) but nevertheless he was working around my rather skimpy defenders.

Russians everywhere
Have you ever seen a 105mm gun go on a rate tear?  In my next fire phase I got two critical hits and five total effective shots from my surviving 105 and literally did not stop until it had run out of things to shoot at.  Dave's forces were swept from the exposed parts of the hill with horrific casualties.  That one fire phase alone prolonged the game by at least a turn.  With my surviving Germans so far holding their own in the village for a brief, crazy moment I dared to think about victory.
Well the 105 justified the purchase price

Which turned out to be foolish because Dave obviously knew a few dodgy gods of his own.  Digging deep into his personal reserves of courage he picked up what was left of his forces on the hill (including his two mmgs now released from melee) and challenged me once again.  I was fully expecting to lose the gun but the time taken meant his troops on the hill would not be able to dash for the exit.  Down in the village I was confident.  I had lost some troops but the survivors still barred the way to the exit locations and snuggled confidently under their concealment counters.  Then Dave's surviving Stuart scored a critical hit on my 9-1,lmg squad combo and wiped them out.  Suddenly the exit was wide open and all Dave had to do was stroll off.  At this point I conceded.  In all fairness without a couple of pieces of outrageous luck the game would have ended a couple of turns earlier.  I don't think the upfront defence is the way to go with the Romanians and I paid the price for trying it.  Many thanks to Dave for the game.  In the next scenario I am attacking and hopefully showing more competence than I did on the defence.
Major Licorishcu stumbled down the road, in the distance he could hear the sound of a tank engine.  He was about to hasten his pace when he encountered the irritating German officer from earlier.  He had a handful of torn up papers and was patting his pockets.
"Oh there you are," have you got a cigarette lighter?
Licorishcu passed one over.  With obviously relief the German set fire to the papers.
"Thanks, right let's get out of here."

"Secret documents?" asked Licorishcu.
"No, the hire purchase contract for those guns."