Last weekend Myself, Brian Buskell and David Hancox played a great little North West Frontier game using The Sword & The Flame rules (but not based for the rules). The British forces were of course on the offensive, with their objective to seize and hold the mountain pass. The Afghan objective was to inflict as many casualties on the infidels as possible. All the figures were from my own, Brian’s and Leroy Simpson’s collections. However Leroy painted all the beautiful Afghans.
The layout of the battlefield from the Afghan side
An again from the British side
The British forces were made up for three columns. The first column consisted of four companies of Indians (two Guide units) and one British company. The second column consisted of three companies of Scottish Infantry, one company of Indians and one Gurkha company. The last column consisted of one squadron of British Lancers, one squadron of Bengal Lancers and an artillery battery of heavy guns.
British heavy artillery
The Afghan forces consisted of two columns only. The first was all tribal warriors, with three large clans, two skirmish units, four artillery pieces (two camel mounted) and two mounted tribal units. The other column consisted of regular Afghan troops. Six companies of regular infantry, one Highland Guard company, a section of regular artillery and one squadron of regular cavalry
British troops muster into line and prepare to advance
The Afghans deployment saw most of their troops deployed across the ridge line, well protected by the high ground and rough terrain. This ground would prove very hard to assault and would cost many casualties on both sides.
A very strong position
With not much movement on the Afghan side other than minor adjustment in their lines, it was up to the British forces to advance and take the battle to the Afghans.
Tribal artillery fires many times but their fire proved very ineffective however, they still proved a deterrent for the British who gave them a wide berth.
The British right hand column advances with the cavalry in close support and covering their flank.
The British left hand column advances up to the base of the ridge, halts and fires a few volleys before scaling the steep slopes.
The Afghans put up a stiff fight raining a deadly and accurate fire onto the Infidels as the advance.
Before long the Afghan cavalry advance from their position in depth in order to cover the centre left of the Afghan line.
With the British left engaged the right now advances quickly across the open ground and to the base of the ridge line.
Pathan skirmishers engage the advancing British troops with very accurate fire from the jezail rifles.
The battle rages back and forth with fierce hand to hand fighting but finally a company of Indian troops pushing back the tough Afghan warriors and in the first Imperial troops to reach the high ground (The company commander to receive a MC)
However the Afghan regulars put up a more determined fight and hold their ground for most of the day.
Before long supporting Indian troops follow up close behind the victorious first company and poor into the centre of the Afghan line. However the two companies of Guides are still locked in a fierce struggle with other tribal warriors.
Behind the Afghan line there are more troops in support
The British right hand column now at the base of the ridge line fire a few well directed volleys up into the Afghan regulars just above them.
Another two companies of Afghan regulars advance from the village and rush up into the fight.
The fight for the ridge line proves to be not as easy as the British commander first thought. Mounting casualties in the company commanders has slowed the advance. By two hours into the battle six company commanders out of ten have been either wounded or killed.
With some of the best troops in the British Army and on the field that day, the company of Gurkha Rifles charges up the hill.
But the Afghan Highland Guard proved better troops that day and turn back repeated charges from the fierce Gurkhas.
With the battle for the ridge line stalling the British commander decides to try his luck with the cavalry.
This proves better than he thought and the Afghan tribals horse are beaten back…but not defeated.
Caught in the open the Afghan Regular cavalry charge the nearest British company, who with just enough time to form a tight little square and shoot down a few riders….well done lads.
Three hours into the battle the fight is still hard fought with Afghans counter charging the brave Indians holding onto the ridge.
The Tribal warriors still holding the high ground (only just) on the British left flank.
Another charge on the Afghan Guards is repulsed.
The last of the Afghan mounted warriors put up a brave fight but are soon routed….they were no match for the lancers.
A British company reaches the other side of the ridge but are soon charged by a company of Afghan Regulars.
The British company stands it’s ground and delivers volley after volley into the charging Afghans.
With four hours of battle and the sun starting to dip behind the high mountains in the distance both sides dig in for the night. Heavy casualties on both sides and and tough fighting has exhausted both the Afghans and the British troops, however neither side gained complete victory this day.