Yesterday I called in four of Townsville's finest (Brian & Josh playing for the Sudanese. Jeff and Dave fighting for Queen and Country) to play in our scaled down 'Battle of Omdurman'. Scaled down basically meaning I did not really have the numbers to replicate 22 000 Anglo-Egyptians and 53 000 odd Sudanese. I also had to make do with what I had in the cupboard as I do not have all the respective troop types in the right period uniform or equipment...so sorry for all those purists out there who have made comments on TMP I promise to have the right uniforms next time.
Our Anglo-Egyptian Forces consisted of 2 x English Battalions (3 companies each) 1 x combined Highlander/Dismounted Camel Corp Battalion (3 x companies), 1 x Egyptian Battalion (3 x companies), 2 x batteries of field artillery, 1 x maxim MG section, 1 x Squadron Mounted Infantry, 1 x Cavalry Squadron and finally two steamboats mounting machine guns and artillery. I also had to make do with what I had in the cupboard as I do not have all the respective troop types in the right period uniform or equipment...so sorry for all those purists out there who have made comments on TMP.
On the Sudanese side their combined 'Flags' consisted of the following:
- 0645 1st Attack:
- 8 x warrior warbands, 2 x rifle units
- 0730 Flank Attack
- 4 x warrior warbands (From the White Standard)
- 0940 2nd Attack
- 8 x warrior warbands 2 x rifle units, 2 x warrior cavalry and 1 x warriors mounted on camels (Black Standard)
- 0950 2nd Flank attack
- 4 x warrior warbands (Green Standard)
- And in direct support of the attack were two batteries of artillery
Each of the warrior units consisted of 20 figures so 480 odd figures not including the skirmishers and cavalry were on the table at any one time for the Sudanese Forces.
I planned the game basically so that it followed the events of the actual battle back in 1898. So with the Anglo-Egyptian forces arrayed in a defensive posture around the village of al ljaija with gunboats in support. The Sudanese under the command of Uthman Azraq (8000 warriors) were placed at the far end of the table in readiness for the advance.
The first number of turns saw the Sudanese advance fast in hope of minimising the effective fire from the combined Anglo-Egyptian forces, however a number of the units were hit inflicting multiple casualties. This did not stop them though and the advance continued right up to the zareba. Then on the Sudanese left flank the first flank attack came in their support - another 4000 warriors under the command of Ibrahim al Khalil (Whit Flag). This mass of warriors also made it to the zareba.
But the massed fire power and firm discipline of the Anglo-Egyptian Forces held firm and defeated the first wave inflicting horrendous casualties. Thus ended the 1st Phase of the battle. The 2nd Phase saw the Anglo-Egyptians advance forward from their secure position to clear the ground.
I allowed them to advance to a position close to half way on the table and then unleashed the 2nd wave of Sudanese. This wave saw the Black Standard (12000) advance along the whole back of the table and another 4000 from the Green Standard charged the Egyptian forces on the right flank of the Allied line. The pressure from this charge drove of the supporting cavalry and slowly forced back the Egyptian line. However the Allied army prevailed and held the Sudanese in check and after four hours of play we called it a day.
All and All the lads had fun and we managed to almost have mine and Brian's collections on the table for the first time. The battle was a challenge for both sides, for the Sudanese it was a their last chance to hold onto their country and for the British the daunting numbers of Sudanese and their willingness to keep on charging regardless of casualties caused the Allies to be very cautious in their advance.
Part of the Allied line reading to deliver some of those devastating volleys
Dave the Allied commander looking over the battlefield towards the advancing Sudanese masses
4000 warriors from the 'White Standard' attack the British line from the flank
These lovely looking fellows are from Brian's collection. He painted 80 odd figures in three days for this battle.
Looking north along the line from the British end
A great view of the first phase and first flank attack. Both divisions are now coming under fire from the whole Allied line, including the gun boats
Depleted in numbers the Sudanese from the flank attack press on to the zereba but are beaten back repeatably by good British steel.
The centre of the line is also hit with waves of charging Sudanese but again the are beaten back and the 1st Phase of the battle is over.
With the remaining units of Sudanese in retreat, the Allied commander must leave the protect of the zereba and advance to clear the battlefield
Mounted Infantry scout in front of the Allied line in order to locate any hidden Sudanese
Just as the Anglo-Egyptian Army reaches half way on the battlefield the Sudanese Commander releases his 2nd Phase and 2nd Flack attack (12000 from the Black Flag) and another 4000 on the flank.
The flank attack catches the Mounted Infantry and cavalry support by surprise and they are forced to flee.
A great view of the 2nd Phase attack taken from the Northern end of the battlefield, looking south
With the withdrawal of the mounted support the Egyptians are hit hard and are slowing push back
However after repeated attacks by the Sudanese they are finally beaten back and can not break the Allied army. History repeats itself and the Anglo-Egpytians are victorious once again.