The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, was the evacuation of nearly 340,000 Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk…

10th May 1940, Allied troops found themselves in the middle of a new kind of war – a Blitzkrieg – Within just 11 days fast-moving columns of German tanks and troops crossed into Belgium and Holland, outmaneuvering British, French, Belgian, and Canadian troops – cutting them off and surrounding them along a small strip of land in Northern France.

On the 22nd May, the German army stopped for 4 days, giving a temporary reprieve to the beleaguered allies and providing the window of opportunity to fall back on the small port of Dunkirk and the hope of evacuation.

Digging in, exposed to relentless Luftwaffe attacks and fighting ferocious rearguard actions, the allies would hold their positions for 8 days. A flotilla of small ships – many civilian – would heroically return time & again under fire to the beaches, eventually rescuing some 338,226 men – the Miracle of Dunkirk!

Beach Landing Rules

Within the pages of Cruel Seas supplement, Close Quarters, designer John Lambshead has provided a system for embarking and disembarking troops during a game of Cruel Seas. We’re using these rules to recreate the daring rescue of British, French and Belgian troops from the embattled beaches of Dunkirk.

Any ships can transport troops at a pinch; at Dunkirk, the RN destroyer Shikari rescued close to 500 troops on each trip and the little coastal paddle steamer, Medway Queen, lifted 7,000 in all. However, warships are
crowded places even without passengers and rescuing troops for a short hop across the Channel is a far cry from delivering troops onto a beachhead in a fit condition to fight.

Apart from anything else, there needs to be some way of moving soldiers from ship to shore. So while the Prince Leopold was designed to carry 1,400 passengers as a civilian ferry, when militarised her complement was merely 250 troops. Players should bear this in mind when designing their own scenarios involving commandeered transports.

Combat point guide for creating your own scenarios: Approximately 30 infantry, or 1 armoured car = 1 Combat Point, 1 medium tank  = 2 Combat Points, and 1 heavy tank = 4 Combat Points.

A Tanker or Merchantman can carry up to 3 Combat Points. An MTB can carry 1 combat point, providing it is composed of infantry only.

A specialised landing craft (or small and medium-sized boat such as an MTB or patrol boat) may land any troops it is carrying by moving up to the edge of the shore at Slow speed and stopping. On the next turn, the troops land when the landing craft is activated.

The craft itself must stay stationary for this turn. On the following turn, it may reverse out and off the shoreline using the normal rules in the Cruel Seas rulebook, page 24.

Troops may be loaded back onto a suitable vessel using the same procedure. Combat Points are considered destroyed if they are on a vessel at sea that is itself sunk, but is not destroyed if the ship they are on is against the shore – the troops are assumed to simply evacuate onto land.

The Scenario

Scenario written by Tom Mecredy.

Before play begins place 1d6+1 combat points on the beach. Next, both players should assemble their respective fleets. The Royal Navy player has a 50% point advantage (If the German player has 1,000pts, the British player gets 1,500pts). The British player is restricted to the following vessels:

The British player must take one Little Ship for each other ship in their force. The profile for which is:

Ship:Turn:Ship Size:Slow:Combat:Fast:Hull:Equipment:Points:
Little ShipRM81624251 x MG5

The true saviours of the Dunkirk beaches were the “Little Ships” – a cavalcade of fishing smacks, pleasure yachts, trawlers and other small craft, hastily commandeered by the Royal Navy for the express purpose of recovering the stranded BEF divisions.

Objectives & Victory

The British player gains 2 Victory Points for each combat point collected from the beaches and removed from the table in a transport vessel.

The German player gains 1 Victory Points for each enemy vessel sunk.

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