After the Communist attack upon Durham market place, and their scandalous attempt to destroy the Londonderry statue, Sir Godber decided to widen the city’s defences by relocating Professor Quilp’s platoon of the Dunelm rifles to a new headquarters at the bottom of Gilesgate. The Territorial Army Drill Hall proved an ideal location and being situated close to Gilesgate Station meant that the Town and Gown Platoon were on hand to counter the Communists next incursion. Due to faulty intelligence, the Communists wrongly believed that there was a shipment of rifles about to arrive at the station. Consequently, Arthur Wedgewood Benn hatched a plot to seize the locomotive and its supposed cargo.
|Area around Gilesgate Station circa 1939|
This was our second attempt at a new way of deploying that seems to make a big difference to the feel of the game making it less WW2 in feel. Essentially, both sides have a single deployment point - usually at a road entry point and there is no patrol phase. Troops then enter the table on Blinds from that deployment point. Each unit is assigned its own Blind. We have some simple spotting rules that allow you to move around hidden if the terrain is suitable. Once spotted or voluntarily deploying the troops treat the Blind as a jump off point but the JOP is removed after deployment. If a CoC die is spent a Blind may be converted into a static, permanent JOP.
View north from Station Lane
(The buildings came out a bit bright under the lights at the club
– they’ve since been toned down.)
|View towards the station from the allotments|
The scenario required the Communists to capture the train; to do this they had to spend a Chain of Command die to begin getting up steam and then it would be a cumulative task until the engine was ready to go.
The Dunelm Rifles had their deployment point on one table corner - essentially Station Lane which is now the entrance road to the Travel Lodge. The Communists came in from the opposite corner - i.e. down the rail track. As the Communists were attacking we used the support levels for the ‘Attack on an Objective’ scenario. This gave the Communists 10 points of support, including 3 points for the difference in Force Ratings. By contrast the Dunelm Rifles had a mere 3 points. On reflection, this was perhaps a mistake; as both sides were entering the table from a deployment point we were actually playing an encounter battle so the support should have been more equal. An alternative would have been to allow the Dunelm deployment point to be placed further on table to reflect a defended zone. Oh well lesson learnt.
From the outset things went bad for the Rifles; the initial Force Morale roll furnished the Communists the maximum of 11 and the Rifles the minimum of 8, giving the Commies the first go. During the battle the Communists rolled up a scary amount of double and even triple phases, whilst the Rifles failed to throw a decent command roll at all. By pub o'clock the Communists had reached the locomotive, had at least 6 sections on the table and had virtually surrounded the Rifles. At this point, the latter only had 3 sections on the table and two of them had only advanced about 8 inches all game!
|Wor Cheryl plies her trade at the back of the Volunteer Arms,|
whilst Verger Yeatman is in pursuit of the elusive Holly Blue.
Still with that amount of double sixes we had lots of civilians appear on the table. Verger Yeatman, the lepidopterist, appeared in the gardens near the Rifles’ deployment point and spent all game chasing butterflies in the gardens. This severely hindered their movement as their Blinds had to stay out of the way to avoid attention been drawn to them because of the nutter with the net. To make matters worse, Wor Cheryl appeared, plying her trade, at the back of the Volunteer Arms. This was uncomfortably close to the Rifles’ deployment point and preventing free movement had they actually managed to roll the necessary command roll to deploy.
|Fast Ernie delivers milk to the Station Tea Room, whilst Sykes and
window cleaners (suspiciously dressed as cricketers) block the Communist line of fire.
Fast Ernie delivered milk to all the properties in Station Lane and had reached the Station by the end of the game. Here he was met by Sykes and Cooper, window cleaners, heading in the other direction intent on cleaning the station windows. If we had continued, this would have created a bit of a conundrum as they were all in the line of fire of the impending fire fight.
We also had a couple of random events. The first was early on and only affected the Communists. The Swift Half random event saw half of Scargill's section running for the Britannia Inn, where they stayed drinking until rousted out by Scargill in a later phase.
However, the classic must be the Random Event that I rolled. A command roll of 3 sixes, a four and a one meant that I had nothing that could be activated that phase. Oh well, at least I had the next phase. However, rolling for the Random Event, I rolled 'Last Orders' which meant that all movement stopped in the next phase whilst my lads argued over the next round.
|Scargill’s section make a break for the Britannia Inn|
That pretty much sums up my luck for the whole game. That said I can't claim that my firing dice were bad - simply because we managed the whole game without any firing! A small part of this may be due to the Rules of Engagement; my morale started so low that I didn't want to have to roll for being the first to fire. However, I suspect the real reason was that I simply never had enough decent command rolls to do much!
|Endgame. The Communists have control of the shed at the rear of the
have troops on the train and have enfiladed the University Officer Training Corps
in the Gardens to the rear of Gilesgate
The area of lower Gilesgate is much changed since the building of the by-pass in the 1960s. Gilesgate Station finally closed in 1966, becoming successively Archibalds hardware store and then a Travelodge.
The actual line, for the most part, defined the route of the current A690. The 8th Battalion DLI drill hall, the Volunteer arms and lower Gilesgate, plus much of Station Lane were all lost in the building of the bypass and current A690 roundabout.
Gilesgate Station 1966