|Head Cinematogher, Der Alte Fritz Himself visits the Sudan.|
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I was thrilled to be able to throw dice and move figures around the table last evening as I journeyed to Chez Protz and the Pettygree Barracks to play a wargame. We staged a game with our 54mm toy soldiers featuring the British Camel Corps versus the wily Osman Digna in the Sudan.
The game was an excuse for me to pick up all of the figures that I left at the Pettygree Barracks last October, when we last convened for a wargame. We kept this game purposely small with only three players and proper social distancing. Our week day wargames always have a hard stop at 9PM so that there is time to pack figures, load up the car, and return home at a reasonable hour. I think that this is a good idea.
I elected to play Osman Digna's Beja and Haddendoa warriors from the eastern littoral area of the Sudan that is bordered by the Red Sea. Ostensibly, elements of the British Camel Corps were retreating back to a port on the Red Sea where they would board Royal Navy transport vessels and sail home to Olde Blighty. The Beja et al were pursuing the Camel Corps and ushering them out of their lands.
|The initial deployment of forces on the table top. The Camel Corps are at the far end of the table |
and the Dervish are in the foreground
"Escape From Suakin" - the movie
I will let the pictures and the captions tell the story in our exciting movie. There were no animals hurt during the production. Our film is based on a screen play by der Alte Fritz
Our story begins with a close up shot of Richard Caton Woodville, Jr. who is the noted artist employed by The Illustrarted London News. Caton Woodville and his film crew scan the horizon looking for signs of a large Dervish army commanded by Osman Digna.
|Times correspondent and illustrator, Caton Woodville (mounted), and his photographer|
were on hand to record the events of the day.
|The Beja have been sighted by the Egyptian Lancers, who ride back to the |
Camel Corps skirmish line to give them the news of their discovery.
|The natives move rather quickly, eh wot?|
The Camel Corps skirmish line must fall back before they are overwhelmed.
|Armies In Plastic ("AIP") 54mm plastic Beja warriors are on the move!|
The Camel Corps skirmishers skedaddled just in time.
|The Egyptian Lancer reach the safety (really?) of the main Camel Corps battle line, deployed behind a wet dongha.|
|A close up view of the AIP Egyptian Lancers, expertly painted by Major General Pettygree.|
(The tune "Rule Britannia" plays as the British gunboat steams towards the sea port)
|The vanguard of the fleet arrives and attempts to navigate the harbor, |
which is filled with many a treacherous sand bar.
|Three companies of Camel Corps and a section of Navy Gatling Guns defend the high ground.|
The British troops have pulled back from the untenable position behind the donga.
|The left wing of the British army holds their ground closer to the donga.|
Narrator (James Earl Jones): The British left wing held off the Beja for much of the contest, but eventually the Beja drew within charging distance and closed into contact with the Camel Corpsmen. Alas, the latter were obliterated by the ferocious Beja and the few British survivors fled for their lives to the beaches.
|Bill P. (left) and Chuck the Lucky (right) take stock of their British forces.|
|Tacka, tacka, tacka, here come the Lancers.|
They crash into the flank of the Beja, who seem nonplussed by it all;
the Lancers are repulsed.
CUT!!!! The film director is very upset. Hey Lancers, you did not follow the script. You were supposed to win the melee! The scene will have to be refilmed later.
|The right wing of the British force prepares to receive the Beja charge.|
Note the Egyptian Lancers charging into the flank of the mob.
|It's Picture Time! The 54mm toy soldiers are so photographic.|
The gunboat is still trying to negotiate the sand bars in the harbor, rendering no help to the Crown Forces.
The grand finale of the battle; this is the stuff of legends and Victoria Crosses.
|While the Beja - Lancer melee reaches a conclusion, another band of Beja crash into end of the right wing.|
|A desperate struggle finds six stalwart Camel Corpsmen from Sussex staving off the savage surge. Two go down and four live to fight a few more minutes. The Beja are pushed back.|
|Fresh from having defeated the Lancers, the Beja regroup and attack the Camel Corps |
troopers who are hunkered down behind a wall of camels. The four remaining Sussex heros lend their weight to the fight.
|Colonel Fred Burnaby wades into the Beja hoard, seeking glory and fame. |
Now we are back on script.