Baku 1918

 

This game was played between Haim and in my conservatory on 29/3/18. Most of the kit belongs to Hail a do the majority of the buildings. The rest of the terrain is mine. Haim played the Allies and I played the Islamic Army. This game was played with V1.0 of the scenario.

 

Picture of the battlefield at the start of the game. Baku is on the right, the Russians are in the foreground on the left defending the ridgeline. On the road between the city and the hill are some Baku Militia in reserve

 

The Russian defenders close-up. As no Russians had been painted as yet we used proxies. In this case WW2 Nationalist Chinese

 

The aerodrome north east of Baku. The Aircraft is supposed to be a Martinsyde Elephant. Here it is being proxied by an SE-5a

 

The defenders of the eastern flank. Baku Militia and an armoured car. The car represents a mix of British and Russian vehicles

 

The 8th Baku Militia defends the road from Balakhami to Balajari where it enters the salt marsh. Yet more proxies as militia had yet been painted up.

 

The 9th Royal Warwicks on the flank of the Russian position. Haim had correctly deduced that this was not the critical area of the battlefield. The Warwicks started in column so they could be rapidly re-deployed to Baku

 

The Turkish 13th Infantry Regiment starts the game at Wolf's Gap, opposed by the 7th North Staffs and a couple of militia battalions

 

The 5th Division starts its assault up the ridge to Baku. The Army commander seems to have brought the wrong map!

 

 The Tartar and Lezgin cavalry enter the fray and head west. My plan was to swiftly overwhelm the Baku militia defending the road over the marsh and to unhinge the Russian's defensive position on the other side of the battle before the passive enemy militia units could catch the cavalry. It was a risky plan though...

 

The Warwicks and the 21st Baku Militia reach Baku. All the Baku militia disintegrate if the Turks can take Baku and the 5th Turkish Division starts very close to the city, with one very poor militia division in front it.

 

The Tartar and Lezgin cavalry failed to make a combined assault on the militia defending the road over the salt marsh so they were repulsed. At which point the enemy units on the Eastern flank had caught up. The Islamic Cavalry turned and attacked the threat to their rear. The Baku Militia Cavalry were easily defeated but the 12th Baku Militia held their ground and repulsed the Tartars.

 

The Turkish 15th Division enters the battle and advances towards the Russians. My initial plan was only to apply enough pressure to keep the Russians in place and to prevent them retiring to defend Baku.

 

The 22nd Baku Militia counterattacks to throw the Turkish 13th Regiment off the hill. This was a brave move which ended in the militia being firmly repulsed

 

Turkish fire starts to have effect on the Baku militia of the Russians' western flank. The big crater indicates spent status. However, the 106th Regiment are have also taken casualties and are spent. Fortunately for the Turks the 4th Infantry are in a position to pass through the 106th and continue the attack. The vulnerability of the Baku militia was encouraging me to convert a holding mission into a determined assault.

 

The Turkish 9th Infantry Regiment finally decides to climb the cliff and participate in the attack after dawdling at the foot of the precipice for three hours. The 13th Regiment is getting dangerously close to Baku, but the Warwicks arrive just in time to attack up the steep hill. The counterattack fails but it's enough to stymie the Turkish advance.

 

The Turks reach Baku. Per the scenario rules all the Baku militia are removed from the battle. Not that this made too much difference. The Turks had been persecuting the weak Militia units and there were very few Baku troops remaining. This put the game in the position of a draw at this moment. To win the Turks had to either sink a ship in the harbour or clear the ridge.

The British try again to remove the Turks from the ridge. The flank charge is spectacularly effective reducing the 13th Infantry to a mere shadow of its former self. On the Turkish right the North Staffs continue to hold tenaciously to their trench line. The 56th Infantry Regiment is queued up behind the halted 10th. They 56th fills both the roads up the cliffs denying the Turkish artillery a route to the top. This was a major tactical issue for the Turks as the guns are needed up on the ridge to bombard the Allied shipping. What's more game time was running out and darkness was rapidly approaching.

 

Eventually Turkish fire and an assault by the Azerbaijanis cleared the Baku militia on the Russians' flank. Worried by this move the Russians moved across in front of the Turks to occupy the formed Baku Militia's positions. This allowed enfilade fire by the Turks and the Russians took grievous casualties and were initially stopped from entering the trenches. However, the 4th Infantry were remarkably reluctant to clamber up the slope and exploit the opportunity, allowing the Russians to eventually reach the security of the trenches. The Azerbaijanis eventually scaled the cliffs but not in time to catch the Russians in the open.

 

The Worcesters' counter-attack and completely wiped out the 38th Infantry. However after the assault is completed they suffer grievously from the Turkish artillery and become spent. This severely restricts their utility for the rest of the battle

 

After what must have been the longest tea-break in history the RAF finally clamber into their machines and participate in the battle, helping to repulse yet another effort to dislodge the North Stafford's from their trench line. After drinking all that tea they obviously needed the longest piss in history and were not to be seen in the sky again.

 

Its getting dark. The Turks have missed their opportunity to get their artillery on to the hill to shell the Allied shipping. To get a victory the Turks must now push the Allies off the ridge. Conversely for the Allies to win they need too push the Turks out of Baku. Given the correlation of forces near the city that is looking like a considerable challenge.

 

The 4th Infantry finally get off their fat arses and clamber up the ridge to assault to Russian position with The Azerbaijani Militia. However, the Russian position is too strong and both units are repulsed. This was the final act in the battle as there was insufficient time left for another attack.

This was a very hard fought battle. The possession of the plateau in front of Baku see-sawed for the entire duration and a couple of dice rolls either way could have seen a different result. The Turks had a couple of units that were notable for their reluctance to climb up the cliff and the RAF were particularly reluctant to come out and play on the Allied side. The Turks made, what in hindsight was a major tactical blunder, by blocking the defiles up onto the ridge preventing their artillery ascending. When I placed the 56th Regiment in that position I didn't anticipate the North Staffs holding out in their trench line for the entire day. The result was a draw which I think fairly reflects both side's performance.

I have made one or two minor tweaks to the scenario since playing and we are aiming to re-fight the battle on the "BBB Bash" day in May.

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