Now that the Spring Battle is done with and I’ve had some time to think about it, the following are some observations/impressions of what occurred.
We assisted the Jaegers in defending their forward position on the right side of the Central Powers line. We’ve done this for the past two events and it seemed to be a good fit for us since both the Jaegers and us have been fielding low numbers. Also, it seemed that we were pretty much left alone and we could focus on providing support without getting directly drawn in.
As I predicted, this changed with this battle. The right flank of the Central Powers line and our position was the center of focus for much of the Allies’ efforts and especially with the Russians, assisted by the French and the Americans.
Making the situation worse, the Central Powers was seriously short-handed so we were forced to take up a defensive posture to the point where we were unable to maintain any sort of a steady presence in no-man’s land. This in turn allowed the Allies to take up positions relatively close to our sector with no fear of their plans being disrupted.
Worse, we had very few grenade simulators and what ones we had were made from wooden Easter eggs that proved to be too light to be able to be thrown far. In short, unless the enemy was directly on top of us, grenades were pretty much useless….
Which ties in with the Allied use of large quantities of smoke bombs capable of generating massive amounts of smoke (the smokes they used were of a variety meant for use in paintball and they’re a short step down from the military issue M18 smoke grenades. In short, these were NOT the usual cheap firework stand variety smoke bombs that give off very little smoke.
The smoke was so intense that we had problems breathing and we were too busy trying to put out any fires to be able to devote ourselves to keeping alert for the enemy. The Allies were every quick in cutting through what barbed wire defenses there were (the front line had been extended with a cursory stringing of barbed wire that was in no way adequate for the job).
With everything going on, it was impossible to deploy grenades and even basic shooting was impossible. And to top things off, the Russians were using a flamethrower (actually a glorified supersoaker done up to look semi period-correct). Basically, we were driven off of the position and the Allies were able to punch through and reach the Central Powers main line.
It was a pretty dismal affair, there is no doubt about that. But at the same time, what did we learn from this?
- Better simulators- We need better grenade simulators and specifically, potato-masher grenades. These are not the easiest to reproduce but they have the heft to be thrown further and with luck, we can use these to disrupt their assaults.
- Tactical positions- Integrating the forward listening/observation posts with the main battle line so they can be reinforced and there’s a way to either advance or retreat that doesn’t require moving over open ground.
- More and better wiring- What we had was inadequate for the job and it took little effort for the Allies to cut through the defenses and then rush the bunker directly.
- Greater presence in no-man’s land- A more aggressive policy in regard to no-man’s land. We need to conduct periodic sweeps. We have be eliminated or drive back BUT at least the Allies will not be able to operate close to our lines in perfect safety with little fear of us doing anything.
- Increased vigilance- it’s all too easy to not be paying attention and while we’re relaxing, the enemy is sneaking up on us.
- Better overhead cover- It’s critical that further installation of overhead cover be completed in order to secure better defenses against flying smoke bombs, grenades, and flashers. This means overhead cover and a less exposed position.
- And of course, having more people attending the event (pretty obvious).
So there it is. We got hammered hard and it was a good lesson on how NOT to defend an exposed position. Hopefully we can get this right by the next event!