War! After the partition of British India in 1947 border disputes and conflicts between India and Pakistan regularly broke out between the two emerging nations however on 15th August 1965 Indian forces crossed the ceasefire line and pushed into the disputed territory with relative ease. With the Mountain Pass secured the 13th Indian Assault Brigade set its eyes on the small town of Rajvasi, an uninspiring town that was of little note but for the vast strategic importance conferred by its mainline train station. This would allow for quick and decisive raids to both sides of the border. The capture of this town would give the victor the initiative in the surrounding areas of conflict.
Game One – A Bloodbath!
The initial push into Rajvasi by the Indian Assault Brigade had been relatively easy, with Gurkhas advancing up the flanks and catching the Pakistani garrison mostly unawares it had been a bloodbath (The Gurkhas having both the Tough as Boots– giving bonus dice in combat – and Scary Blighters! special rule – halving enemy attacks in combat resulting in them running through any unit close enough – CT). Three men were wounded in the attack along with one of the Centurion tanks being pretty badly beaten up, the Pakistani forces however had been destroyed with the Humber Scout Car, in particular, pushing forward and taking down the leadership, not a bad offensive at all!
The peace would not last long. News of a large enemy force, already within striking distance, had surfaced. The men were already repairing the drive system to the second Centurion (it had suffered a mechanical failure after its push towards the station). The Gurkha units moved into position, one behind the hill hidden away and the other positioned to defend the Railway Station. With limited supplies, low morale and no reinforcements available the defenders dug in and prepared for the inevitable counter-attack.
Game Two – Counter-Attack
The Pakistani Army had not sat idly by when news reached them of our first assault on Rajvasi. A large counter-strike, was at least, not able to reinforce the garrison by railway (This would have been a possibility if we had made it one more turn in the first game). The loss of the station meant they had to approach through the valley from the same direction that the Indians had launched their offensive. A Patton Tank led the way down the main road with trucks following up behind whilst some fire support from a second Patton, some support weapons and infantry were led by the battlegroup’s leader.
The start of the battle was absolute chaos with the already damaged but tenacious Centurion (03) that had helped push the earlier offensive knocking out the lead Patton on the road causing the road to become blocked. In return the Pakistanis’ second Patton that moved around the hill managed to penetrate the weakened armour of Centurion 03 causing it to erupt into a ball of flames (It turns out a lot of sixes being rolled when penetrating and damaging tanks is a bad thing). The trucks took evasive manoeuvres and moved off the road using the wrecked Patton as cover against any potential ambush. A Recce Jeep with Recoilless Rifle tried to outflank down the leftmost ditch in the valley only to be spotted out by the Humber scout car. Not knowing how to fully operate this modification on the Jeep the crews struggled to knock out the Humber whilst in return the Humber crews were unable to cause any lasting damage on the Jeep. (Bad dice rolls, misinterpreting the AT gun for a Howitzer and not adding enough pins meant this was a slog of poor dice rolling all game).
Things started to look bleak for the defending Indian forces. The Mortar team were wiped out from a lucky enemy Mortar shot (Lucky 6 to hit) and the Pakistani forces were making a determined push over the hill. The Trucks moved past the wrecked Patton on the road and it seemed the station was in reach. However, the Indians still had a few gambits left; the lead Gurkha squad and sniper team appeared from under the hill and managed to halt the offensive whilst a Bazooka team hidden in the trees was able to knock out one of the trucks. The Pakistani offensive had stalled and was in danger of getting stuck in the open. Air Strikes from both sides were called in but only fighter aircraft were available; a Sabre swept in for the Pakistanis and a Hawker Hunter for the Indians (Again, bad dice rolls crushed the hype of the strike from the crowd), sadly neither resulting in any real damage to either side and the damaged Centurion having had been repaired was now moving up to engage the enemy.
With the fighting around the hill becoming more intense the local wildlife started to be drawn in, a brood of vicious snakes slithered into the defending Pakistani sniper team knocking them out and a wild Tiger leapt into action, choosing to ignore the Gurkhas and instead went after the Pakistani Commander. (We added both of these in to the turn with a special-order dice for each and whoever drew the dice out got control. The Tiger itself being very hyped up by our boss John Stallard as he had rushed out earlier in the afternoon to get one and paint it up for the game!) The Tiger sadly just stood there looking menacing and whilst it did distract the Officer, it had no lasting impact on the game (much to Johns disappointment!). The officer ordered the Patton back before being surrounded and cut to shreds by the advancing Gurkha troop.
There was just one squad left anywhere near the captured station so the Pakistanis were determined to push on to victory. With the final truck finally out of action the squad itself had managed to gain some ground but the now repaired Centurion was too much of a threat to ignore so they moved in to disable it (using an emergency supply of Anti-Tank grenades that were equipped to the truck squads pregame). It turned out to be a trap! The hidden Gurkhasat the station moved out and ambushed. These “Scary Blighters” once again showed their worth and despite taking some casualties they cut the remaining infantry down saving the station from assault. In retaliaton survivors from the destroyed trucks managed to get some shots off into the Gurkhas and another lucky shot from the Pakistani Mortar obliterated the remaining members of the squad. The advancing squad of Gurkhas also ran into trouble and were cut down in a hail of gunfire from the remaining Pakistani forces.
Despite these late successes, the offensive had failed. Though the defending Indian force had been reduced to the Commander, his two riflemen, a very damaged Centurion and the Humber scout car the Pakistani force, with just a few support teams and a bullet peppered Patton Tank no longer had the firepower, the manpower or the morale to take the station and so victory fell to the Indian Forces. With Rajvasi captured and the train station intact, the dominance of the valley and territory fell to the Indian forces who would likely use the area as a staging ground for further assaults. (A fantastic pair of games over two evenings saw many dice being rolled- 1s mainly, random ambushes of local wildlife and a fusillade of jokes resulted in a lot of fun had by all!).