The Raggruppamento Repartí Specializzati (Groupment of Special Units) – RSS, was a composite formation within the Corpo di Truppe Volontarie, which encapsulated all of the armoured units, as well as several other specialist units. In April 1937 it was divided into two battalions (battaglione), the first composed of the four tank companies (Compagnia di Carristi), the Anti-tank Platoon (Sezione Anti-Carro) and a Spanish infantry company, which the Italians provided with two trucks for each of the three platoons. The second battalion was composed of the Armoured Car Company (Compagnia di Auto-Mitragliatrice), the Motorcycle Machine Gun Company (Compagnia di Moto-Mitragliatrice), and the Flamethrower Tank Company (Compagnia de Lanciafiamme e Chemica).
The Group never fought as a single formation and instead ‘Company Battlegroups’ were formed around individual tank companies. While there were not sufficient units to reinforce all four companies, typically a company would be reinforced by an anti-tank gun, an armoured car platoon, a motorcycle machine gun platoon, a flamethrower tank platoon and a Spanish motorized infantry platoon.
From September 1937 a battery of German PaK 36/37 anti-tank guns (Cannone 37/45 M.36), were added, enabling each company to have an anti-tank platoon and 20mm anti-aircraft guns, 65/17 towed infantry guns, an engineer unit, as well as motorcycle scouts, drawn from within the CTV Infantry divisions, expanded these reinforced companies even further. Around the same time the Spanish infantry were withdrawn from the unit. The final addition to the Group was a company of T-26 tanks, captured and re-fitted, sometime in early 1938.
This list can be used to create a reinforced motorcycle or motorcycle-machine gun platoon from any point between January 1937 and the end of the Civil War. Although the RSS was not formed before the Malaga campaign, the units fronting the Italian Columns were in fact similar composite formations, but on a smaller scale. For such an early unit, replace the Spanish motorized infantry option with an Italian one. Otherwise, providing the dates for the implementation of weapons and equipment are followed, it will be representative of the ‘infantry’ portion of a reinforced Carristi unit at any point in the Civil War.
Here is the list for the RRS: CoC – Italian RRS
I’ve been working on the Chain of Command campaign supplement today, only vaguely diverted by the arrival of some new toys from Perry Miniatures (lovely stuff) and the usual end of year accounts nonsense. One of the great bits of finalising a project is that there is always an excuse to have a quick game, ostensibly t test some bit of the rules or other, but really just to have a jolly time with one’s toys.
In my mind the fifth game in the current campaign was already won. The Jerries’ morale was at rock bottom, mine was sky high. My Colonel was looking after me with plenty of support being mad available, whereas the Hun were languishing under a dark cloud. What could go wrong? Especially as this was to be the flank attack scenario which was one I had played with some aplomb during the playtest of the main rules. I LOVE the patrol phase of the game and this is one of the most interesting configurations.
I set the table up with my new mosque in the German quarter of the table, as per the scenario instructions, along with the small spring which provides water for thirsty travellers and, for the moment, the damnable Boche! The I rolled for force morale. As predicted, mine was sky-high on 12. The Germans was the pits on 8. What was more, I could have support from list 11, Jerry only from list 4. Time, I felt, for an evil laugh.
I selected three carriers and my Daimler scout car (my Mark VIb tank arrived today, but I need to paint it first). The Hun selected a sniper and some entrenchments for one team. The we were off into the patrol phase. In keeping with the way things were going, I rolled for the maximum four “free moves” and set about cooking my German goose with some nimble footed out-manoeuvring. “What a smart arse” I hear you cry. And you’d be right.
Being Mr Clever-clogs I rushed one of my groups of patrol markers round to outflank the Germans. They reacted by blocking my passage and locking down all of their patrol markers, leaving me in a less than ideal position on my right, and barely in town on my left! The Germans, however, had rather neatly seized the central defensive position and pushed out some jump-off points to screen my left.
This wasn’t a great start, but unperturbed I was determined to bounce these Germans out of their position.
In the first phase I deployed the entire carrier platoon, dropped some smoke down and then deployed a section of infantry.
The Germans responded with some alacrity. Firstly they deployed a crowd of chaps on top of the mosque, one of whom promptly blew up a carrier with an AT rifle (a fluke shot) and then rifle squad put fire down on my section before they put a second section off towards my left, threatening my jump-off points in that area, and then a third squad on the roof of the small guesthouse which served for pilgrims.
Remarkably the Germans had pretty much deployed their whole team on turn one.
I responded with a double 6. I deployed a second rifle section and pushed forward my first section with Lieutenant Viljoen at their head.
In my next phase I fired both Bren teams and they charged forward with the two rifle teams.
It was, of course, madness. You don’t charge an MG34 frontally and I lost four men dead with both Viljoen and Corporal Sewell being lightly wounded. Obergefreiter Mueller was knocked out, but his men kept fighting, whereas mine broke and ran back in disorder.
My force morale was plummeting at this point whereas the Germans were taking heart from their success. In the next phase they shocked one of my carriers and pushed their third squad out to shut down one of my jump-off points. Fortunately they had almost no Chain of Command points at this stage.
On my right I concentrated my firepower and, with Mueller down and out, I broke the morale of the Germans in the guesthouse and they routed back.
I also deployed the Daimler off on the left and they began engaging the Germans there.
Now I needed to get some order back into my attack. The Germans were using their sniper to rattle the crew of the Daimler. I deployed Harris and his section and they began moving round towards the rear of the mosque.
By now my force morale was such that I was reduced to three command dice as against the German four, so getting my men to make progress was hard work, but the reliable Harris pushed on.
Despite my reduced command ability it was still going to be possible, I hoped, to break the German morale. However, at that point the German sniper broke the morale of the Daimler crew who reversed off the table and the Germans ended the turn with a Chain of Command dice, thereby removing one of my jump-off points and bringing my morale down to zero.
It was a humiliating disaster. But not exactly unpredictable. All the odds were in my favour, I had simply rushed my fences and come a cropper.
What is worth mentioning is that before this game began both the Germans and British had elected to take their one lot of reinforcements for the campaign. What I wasn’t aware of was that the Germans had rolled rather well and were much restored from where they were. Having fought them out of their positions thus far I was convinced that with a rush and a good application of force I could bounce them out of this one. How wrong was!
The Germans did particularly well in this game only losing one man dead, whereas I lost four dead and three to significant injuries. This has rather changed the face of the campaign. More later on how we all stand with the CO, the men and our heroes’ self-perception.
The reputation of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie, the Corps of Italian ‘Volunteers’ sent by Mussolini to support the Nationalists, has probably suffered as much from Francoist propaganda and subsequent historical commentary based on that propaganda, as it ever did from Republican bullets. While the force did have its shortcomings, not least that they were not actually volunteers and in some cases not even soldiers, it was by far the most modern and best trained of the forces involved in the Civil War.
Despite Franco’s publicly low opinion of them and the extent to which he minimalized their contribution to his victories, Italian troops formed between 25% to 50% of the formations involved in any major Nationalist offensive between their arrival in early 1937 and the end of the Civil War. While he never publicly praised them, a sort of belated acknowledgment of their sacrifice, was given to them by placing an Italian unit at the head of the Victory Parade of 1939. The Condor Legion, the formation upon which so much ink has been used praising their over-rated contribution, brought up the rear of the 100,000 man parade.
At the time the Italian military doctrine was perhaps the most advanced in the World. The concepts of rapid advance (Celere) by motorised units, supported by artillery and close air-support, was ‘Blitzkrieg’ warfare before the term had ever been coined. Italy’s infantry had adopted a tactical organisation, which included the now-standard ‘trinary’ formations, now used almost world-wide, as early as 1929, as well as the idea of modular support elements and the formation of ad hoc battlegroups for specific missions and situations. It was however a tactical doctrine that by and large, its military was unable to operate to, due to the overall lack of motorized transport across the whole of its forces.
The CTV was lavishly equipped with motor transport by any standard of the time and was actually able to put many of these ideas into practice. The difficulty was that Italian doctrine clashed with Spanish Nationalist aims. In a typical war, rapidly moving offensives that took vast swathes of ground before the enemy could marshal its forces to counter-attack, would have been perfect.
Franco however wanted to take Spain inch by inch, removing any remaining trace of socialism, root and branch as he proceeded. What was more, he wanted to be seen to achieve the rebuilding of Spain and its people without outside help. It was to be a Reconquista that took Spain back from the Rojos (‘Reds’), achieved by true Spaniards. Mussolini on the other hand, wanted to be seen as the dominant man in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, and it to be clear that Spain’s deliverance from ‘Communism’ could only possibly be achieved with his support.
For the Italian commanders therefore, besides struggling with Republican armies that were becoming increasingly more able and indeed well-equipped, they had to attempt to demonstrate that their victories were being achieved solely by the Italian Corps, while resisting Spanish attempts to divide their formations and to deploy their troops in wasteful operations, in which they would bear the brunt of the fighting and obviously the resultant casualties.
The initial use of the Italians was during the Andalucian campaign to take the Malaga, where the 1st MSVN Division, supported by the first of the tank units, proved more than adequate for the task ahead of it. While the brunt of the ill-coordinated and somewhat divided resistance was directed at the Nationalist forces advancing up the coast, the Italians still had some hard-fighting to do, across some quite poor terrain. Facing almost even numbers of enemy troops, the combined Spanish-Italian force was victorious. Franco played down the victory, not only because the Italians had largely been responsible for it, but also that the Spanish commander, Quiepo de Llano, the man who had taken Seville and created the bridgehead for the Nationalists in the South, was at risk of being seen as a potential rival to his position.
The next major action for the Italians was the Battle of Guadalajara, where despite atrocious weather, the Italians were able to create a 30km salient which threatened the route through which the Republicans were re-supplying Madrid. Despite a massive Republican counterattack and the well-known apparent ‘rout’ of the Italians (who were also supported by Spanish troops), there was still a somewhat smaller salient existing at the end of the battle. The Italians had taken heavy losses however and some troops had not proved up to the task. Franco made much of the apparent failure of the CTV and the whole affair was an embarrassment to Mussolini on the international political stage.
The reorganization of the CTV after Guadalajara led to the disbandment of two of the Blackshirt Divisions, whose men were used to replace losses in other units and the creation of the first mixed Italo-Spanish ‘Flecha’ (Arrow) formations. The rank and file of these formations was to be wholly Spanish, organized on the Italian model, with Italian equipment and Italian officers and training personnel. While the first such brigade was based on the Italian XXIII de Marzo independent motorised brigade, the two that followed were almost entirely Spanish. Each was later expanded to divisional size, with the added formations once more almost wholly composed of Spanish troops.
Both the two remaining Italian divisions (2nd MSVN and 4th ‘Littorio’) continued to make the same contribution to Nationalist successes as previously, but propaganda attention was now focused on the ‘Spanish Flecha’ formations, in line with Franco’s desire to depict the eventual Nationalist victory as a wholly Spanish Victory.
This list can be used to represent both the Regular Army formations within the 4th ‘Littorio’ Division and any of the MSVN Divisions forming the CTV. The list can also be used to represent the Flechas. The men of the Raggruppamento Repartí Specializzati (RRS), the Corp’s composite armoured brigade, when not broken up to act in an infantry support role, have their own list.
The list can be downloaded here: CoC – Italian CTV
The main difficulty faced by the Nationalist Army was providing sufficient support weapons to its infantry formations. Although it had been able to equip the Falangists, Requetés and other volunteers with rifles, many of its regular units, outside the Army of Africa at least, were themselves short of mortars and automatic weapons. Initially the various militias and volunteers had simply been incorporated into existing regular formations to bring them up to their full wartime complement, although they largely retained their own organisational structures at first.
However there were soon so many volunteers, that they were able to form additional battalions of their own and these formations lacked automatic weapons, mortars and other support weapons. The short term solution was to detach some of these elements from existing regular formations, to supply these units with at least some support. The risk with this strategy was that it could make any contribution these weapons could offer somewhat worthless across the board, rather than just a portion of the army. There were already formations with the equivalent of ten battalions that were supported by as few as twelve field guns and any major readjustment might make the situation worse.
The solution was to essentially divide the army into divisions which were formally designated as either ‘offensive’ or ‘defensive’ divisions. The offensive divisions were to contain largely regular formations, while the defensive divisions were to have more militia units than regular; some were even wholly composed of militia. At the same time, the militias were to be militarized, so as to adopt a common organisational structure, which conformed with that of the regulars. With increasing supplies of German and Italian weapons arriving on almost a monthly basis, the regulars began to pass down increasing numbers of their older weaponry to equip the militias.
The process was begun in December 1936, although some units had already begun the process. While the organisational structure was changed, the militia formations retained their rank and unit designations. A Falange unit was still divided into Banderas, Centurias and Falanges, and were still commanded by ‘Jefes’, but these were now the size of Battalions, Companies and Sections. More suitable officers were provided by the regulars, by virtue of what amounted to ‘field commissions’ amongst senior non-commissioned officers, combined with various promotions of officers across the whole of the army. This resulted in former sergeants becoming platoon leaders overnight, former company commanders now leading battalions and so on up the hierarchy.
The typical battalion (or Bandera, Tercio, Tabor etc.) structure was now four rifle companies and a machine gun company, or at least a machine gun platoon at worst. Each rifle company was ideally to be supported by a mortar section of two 50mm mortars and the battalion retained a two 81mm mortar section, and in the regular formations at least, a 70mm infantry gun. The somewhat confused first few months had separated battalions from their parent regiments, so battalions were now formed in groups (agrupaciones), groups into brigades and brigades into divisions.
A division was ideally supposed to consist of twelve battalions, but some had as few as six or eight. One infantry battalion might be replaced by a machine gun battalion (four machine gun companies and one rifle company) in some divisions. There were supposed to be two artillery groups (ideally one of 75mm and one of 105mm), each of three batteries, with four guns per battery, as well as the usual engineer, supply and other ‘tail’ services. Divisional reconnaissance was provided by the addition of; a cavalry squadron (often with one of its regiment’s machine gun platoons if it was a regular unit), or a mounted militia unit, or a ‘motorised cavalry’ company (essentially an infantry company organized like the cavalry, but equipped with vehicles).
Armoured and anti-tank units were in short supply, but either the Nationalists own, or Italian or German units could be temporarily attached, usually as complete companies, to support an attack. The presence of these units was dictated by wherever the main Nationalist war effort was being directed at any particular time. In late 1936 and early 1937, this was around Madrid (except for the brief campaign to take Malaga by the first elements of the CTV), but this shifted to the North after mid-1937 and towards the Aragon Front in 1938.
This list enables a somewhat generic Nationalist Rifle or Machine Gun Platoon to be fielded, suitable to represent any of the various types within the army. The Legion and Moroccans had taken heavy casualties in the first few months of the War and the replacements received were not always volunteers nor had they received the same standard of training. The replacements did however get placed within existing units led by experienced soldiers and the ‘esprit de corps’ is likely to have been preserved. How much this sets them apart from the Requetés of the Navarre Brigades, who were also considered to be elites, is up to the player to decide.
The Moroccans could certainly still retain their aggressiveness and the influence of the Caíd, even if they are downgraded from their previous elite status. In the same manner a ‘regular’ Legion platoon could still benefit from its own special characteristics, but their effectiveness is somewhat blunted as a result. The Requetés still appear to have retained their aggressiveness, but experience was tempered by losses, resulting in no real change otherwise.
The Falange and Regular Army units would be hard to tell apart by this time, except for uniform details. Their losses were both replaced from the same pool of conscripts and their leaders either gained experience and promotion, or died and were replaced by those below them. That being said, anyone who had risen to command a platoon had gained valuable experience before being elevated to that position, exactly how much depending on how able his predecessor had been and the amount of action the unit had experienced. Even officers transferred in from the newly established academies had mostly gained a place there as junior or non-commissioned officers in the earlier battles.
Here is the list for the Nationalist Army: CoC – Nationalist
The realisation that the numerous Popular Militia battalions were not up to the task of defeating the Nationalist Army became apparent very soon after the initial weeks of the coup. While they may have been sufficient in dealing with the initial disorganised coup, once the Nationalists had begun to consolidate their hold on the territory surrounding the areas they held and the African Army Corps units had begun arriving in force, what were essentially armed civilians were not going to be sufficient. The reverses of the first few weeks brought this message home in no uncertain terms.
While a pragmatist might not be alarmed by the numbers of people killed, given the population available to draw on, the loss of territory and the subsequent ‘White Terror’ which followed, added to the losses already suffered amongst the Republic’s supporters. From a strategic perspective the often precipitate retreats by the militia columns also resulted in the abandonment of valuable and scarce weaponry, particularly machine guns and artillery, and which the milicianos had often not thought to destroy or disable in the process. Losing the weapons was one thing, gifting them to the enemy was essentially twice the loss.
From August 1936 plans were being made to form a new ‘Popular Army’, the Ejército Popular de la República (EPR), the leaders of which would be suitably vetted for their political sympathies and in which the troops would be instructed in political ideology as well as more martial matters. At the same time a department was established to oversee the militias, the Inspección General de Milicias (IGM), whose role was to oversee both supply and provisioning of the various formations, but also to begin the process of militarization within those same units. While either the CNT or the POUM, amongst others would not engage with the militarisation process, the other parties and factions did.
The Communists were already engaged in a similar process with their 5th Regiment in Madrid, but working with the IGM, they now had the opportunity to expand that programme across the whole Republican Zone, not least amongst the various communist and affiliated foreign volunteers who were arriving in considerable numbers in Catalonia and who would later form the famous International Brigades.
It was to be October before the first battalions were formed from new volunteers and those formations not currently in the frontlines. The initial structure for a battalion was to be three rifle companies and a machine gun company, with a fourth rifle company acting as a depot unit to train replacements for the other companies. Each company was to follow the pre-war organisation at its ‘war establishment’ (i.e. three platoons) and where possible it was to have its full complement of automatic weapons and mortars.
Despite the influx of Soviet and other weapons (which initially were somewhat obsolete, even by Spanish standards) there were still shortages. The effort was made to provide at least one light machine gun and at least one light mortar per platoon, for each platoon in the rifle companies and at least two medium machine guns per platoon in the machine gun companies. In many cases weapons provided were often of different types and calibres which made supplying any formation with ammunition a logistical nightmare. By mid-1937 however most units were equipped with their full complement of weapons (mostly of the same type) however and the less useful items were confined to the shortly to be disbanded CNT and POUM units outside of the EPR structure.
Support at battalion level received a small boost by the allocation of; firstly an additional infantry gun and subsequently by the removal of those weapons and the expansion of the two-weapon medium mortar section into a full platoon of four weapons. The Republic in fact put a lot of effort into producing mortars for its army, a weapon the Nationalists appear to have placed little value on.
Between mid-October and December 1936 individual battalions were to be grouped by fours into the first six Mixed Brigades (Brigadas Mixtas), to which were also to be attached an artillery group of four field artillery batteries (typically three of 75mm and one of 105mm guns). In practice this often resulted in the field batteries utilising the now spare 70mm weapons alongside the other weapons. Engineer, supply and similar units were also integrated into the brigades, along with a ‘motorised scout squadron’ (essentially a motorised rifle company), but which was often replaced by a mounted infantry unit or cavalry unit instead.
A further forty four brigades had been formed in the Madrid area by Spring 1937 and a further thirty two on the East Coast between Andalucia and Catalonia. By May 1937 there was a total of 153 Brigades in the Aragon and Central (Madrid) Zones. In the North there were a further thirty six brigades, made up from Basque, Popular Militia and the remnants of Loyalist Army units that the Basques had not disbanded when the Republic had done so. Many of these units were not actually ready to be put into the line however and lacked both training and weapons.
Presumably there were some difficulties providing the full complement of support weapons and services once the process was rolled out across the whole army, as in November 1937 a fundamental change was made to each brigade. The service units were reduced in size and the scout squadron was reduced to platoon size. The artillery group was also reduced, so as to form ‘divisional artillery’ units, leaving a single battery of two, three or four 70mm infantry guns, if they were available (apparently there were only 64 surviving ones at the end of 1937) for the brigades own use. The battalion machine gun companies were disbanded and a single brigade machine gun company (organized the same way as the previous battalion companies), replaced them.
The battalions were now composed of four rifle companies (with the same organization as before), but with only a two-weapon medium mortar section once more. Anecdotal evidence and photographs suggest that, the individual machine gun sections (two weapon Squads) within the brigade machine gun company could be attached to individual infantry battalions or companies as required, at the discretion of the brigade commander. With only eight weapons in the brigade instead of the previous thirty two, it is a far more efficient use of them, as opposed to a single massed battery trying to cover four battalions.
Divisions had begun to be formed shortly after the first mixed brigades had been established. Each division was supposed to contain three of the mixed brigades, the third of which was to be provided with a five vehicle armoured car platoon, with the division also having a reconnaissance group of three cavalry squadrons. Three divisions were the usual sub-units of a Corps, to which was to be added a cavalry brigade of two regiments, various field and heavy artillery groups (which were to be assigned to support divisions as required) and additional supply and other support services. A varying number of corps formed an army, which eventually had its own battalion of T-26 tanks, in addition to the independent armoured brigades that were deployed where needed.
Largely cut off from the rest of the Republic, weapons and equipment had to be sent by sea to the North. This resulted in much of its equipment being of a lower standard than elsewhere, but in spite of this an armoured regiment was formed by mid-1937, consisting of 20 T-26 Tanks, 22 Renault FT (mixed roughly 50% guns/machine guns) and 20 Trubia-Naval ‘Basque’ Tanks. In addition they received around 50 FA-I and 100 BA-6 armoured cars. Unfortunately for the Republicans, most of these vehicles fell into the hands of the Nationalists when the North collapsed in late 1937.
This list can be used to field a Republican Infantry Platoon for the period October 1936 until April 1939, with some overlap with the Popular Militia list until mid-1937, particularly with regard to the CNT and POUM. It can also be used for Basque units after mid-1937, when it is generally accepted that much of their fervor and enthusiasm had been knocked out of them by bitter experience.
Homage To Catalonia
While Catalonia had not fully subscribed to the ‘Mixed Brigade’ concept until after May 1937, it had formed three (later four) divisions as early as 1936, using the ‘named’ militia columns already existing. The CNT and POUM columns had refused to militarise and were forcibly disbanded, with their surviving men spread across the existing and new EPR formations mentioned above. At the same time two CNT columns which had been sent to Madrid, were also disbanded and their men re-assigned. The Popular Militia List is the best army list to represent CNT and POUM forces prior to their disbandment.
Here is the list for the Ejército Popular de la República: CoC – EPR
With the exception of the Divisional Cavalry regiments, which were roughly evenly distributed across the Peninsular, the regiments of the Cavalry Division were largely clustered in Central and Northern Spain. When the dust settled after July 19th the Nationalists had acquired seven of the ten cavalry regiments that had existed pre-war. Four of these were in the ‘North West Central Zone’, which centred on Valladolid (1st, 2nd, 5th & 6th), one in the ‘Northern Zone’ around Vitoria (10th), one in the ‘Eastern Zone’ around Zaragoza (9th), with the final regiment based in Seville (7th). The Government on the other hand was left with a single regiment in Valencia (5th) and two in Barcelona (3rd & 4th), all of which were subsequently disbanded along with the rest of the Army on the 20th July.
From the beginning of the Civil War therefore, the Nationalists had an advantage in terms of cavalry, which the Republic was to struggle to equal in overall terms throughout the war. In point of fact however, the Republic enjoyed slightly superior numbers of cavalry on the Aragon Front, despite the Nationalists being able to add squadrons formed by the Requetés and Falange, but suffered for the lack elsewhere.
The Nationalists in the North effectively had a whole cavalry division at their disposal, while even in the South, the addition of the thirteen squadrons of the Regulares, as well as those of the Guardia Civil and other ‘volunteer’ squadrons, could not be matched in any appreciable form by the Republic.
That is not to say that the Republic lacked cavalry however. Several cavalry militia units were formed by the various parties of the Popular Front and can be presumed to be a mix of former soldiers and volunteers, some of whom did have to be trained in the role. More units were created as part of the Republican Popular Army from October 1936 too.
This list can be used to represent any cavalry unit from either side of the conflict, although it must be said that it is primarily designed to produce a ‘regular’ cavalry squadron. Other types were based on the same model, but lacked the support weapons available to the regulars in the first few months of the war.
As had been the case with the rest of the army, Spain’s cavalry had also suffered a reduction in size. Cavalry squadrons had originally been composed of three troops, but this had been reduced to two in the peacetime army, resulting in a unit size that approximated the equivalent infantry formation. Its support squadron was however maintained at pre-war levels, giving it a somewhat higher ratio of automatic weapons in support, if not in mortars.
The reorganization of the army prior to the Civil War had removed the old distinctions between regiments, meaning that whereas there had been several different types of cavalry (Lancieros, Dragones etc), by July 1936 they were all considered to Cazadores (‘Hunters’, the equivalent of the French Chasseurs, or British Light Dragoon). In real terms this meant that they primarily had a dual-role of reconnaissance, as well as being capable of acting as a ‘breakthrough’ force in support of the infantry/artillery battle. To this end they were equipped with both carbines and sabres. Although trained to use both, their primary weapon was the carbine and they generally acted in the ‘mounted infantry’ role. This facet was not to stop them performing the last classic massed cavalry charge in a European War, at Alfambra in 1938 however.
The list for Peninsular Cavalry can be found here: CoC – Peninsular Army Cavalry (1936)
After the unsuccessful coup on July 19th 1936, the various Infantry formations found themselves either in Government or Rebel-held areas, irrespective of the political ideologies, or indeed apolitical views, of many of the soldiers within them.
On either side politically ‘unreliable’ officers were being arrested and with the exception of those units activated by officers involved in the coup, confusion reigned, with many soldiers milling about in their barracks in confusion.
The Rebels found themselves in possession of nine Infantry Regiments concentrated in the North, a further six in Andalucia and the South, with six more spread across Spain, although some of these were besieged in their barracks by forces loyal to the Government. These regiments were to form the core of what was to become known as the Nationalist Army.
The formations that remained in Government-held areas, although in many cases actively attempting to put down the Coup, were viewed with distrust by both the Government and the as yet largely unarmed militiamen. The result was that the army was disbanded and its weapons issued to the Trade Unions who controlled the militiamen.
While numbers of former soldiers joined the militias, either as individuals or as complete units, whether in uniform or without, others took the opportunity to return to their homes. Overnight any formal military entity in the Government Zones ceased to exist.
This list can be used to represent a Regular Infantry Platoon from a Peninsular-based Infantry Regiment, either as part of one of the units which became the ‘Banda Nacional’, or one of the units which fought as part of the Republican Popular Militias in the early weeks of the Civil War.
Like most nations in the post-Great War period, Spain reduced the size of its military for financial reasons. While its forces in its Moroccan Colonies were maintained at their full strength, its domestic military was reduced by over a third.
All of its units and their traditions were retained, but by deactivating a battalion in each regiment, one company in each remaining battalion and one platoon in each remaining company, considerable savings in manpower were achieved.
While in theory the weapons for these deactivated units were kept in storage, the need to maintain equipment levels in colonial units and the creation of the Assault Guards, resulted in stored weapons being removed to equip them.
Such was the need, that there weren’t even enough support weapons to fully equip all of the battalions on their peacetime establishment, let alone if they had been mobilized for war.
The list for this force is here: CoC – Peninsular Army Infantry (1936)
With the Germans on the back foot, I, playing the British have a serious decision to make. I have achieved my red line objective of breaking into and capturing the enemy;’s main defensive positions at Sheik al Fak, this in itself in not an inconsiderable victory and I have the option of consolidating on this position which will lead to it being relatively impregnable (in theory) for this campaign. However, to do so would be to allow the enemy a breathing space in which he could reorganise and reinforce, potentially making my life harder in the next game.
The alternative is to push on and try to keep the pressure on him and keep catching him on the bounce, pushing him right back towards my main yellow line objective; the Oasis at Kharmal. There are good arguments for both, but in my favour is the fact that the Colonel is looking favourably on me, so my support option is enhanced and the fact that my men are in good spirits. Th Jerries took a real spanking in the last game, more by luck than judgement, so I know that for the next game they will not only have their losses but they will also have men being treated and not yet fit to return to their unit. If I delay they will be back and my numerical advantage much reduced. The answer is there; I am going for it!
I roll for support and that allows me List 8 for this game, so the Jerries will get List 4. However, the Colonel loves me so I can go with List 9. Okay. There are two things I want: speed and to disorder the enemy. I don’t have a lot of men, I am eight men down for this game, so I need to protect them as much as I can. I am going to go with my Daimler Scout car from List 3, the FOO with his battery of 3″ mortars from List 4 and finally a pe-game bombardment from List 2. I am hoping that the bombardment will spoil the German deployment and allow the scout car to gain some ground. I will push up rapidly with my infantry and if I hit trouble the 3″ mortars should obliterate anything in my path. That’s the plan anyway. Organisation is a difficult one. The gun group and assault group worked relatively well for the assault on a defended position, but I am not convinced that it is right for a more fluid battle such as this one – specifically fighting a German rearguard. I am going to go with two rifle sections of eight men plus and NCO and create a single three man Bren team under Harris which can provide some additional firepower where it is needed. Harris has been doing a fine job leading from the front, I want to allow him a bit of a rest this time. My 2″ mortar and Boys AT rifle teams are as standard.
I am actually playing this game solo, but to keep an element of surprise I have asked Nick to select his support option or options and I will text him when the game is underway to see what he has chosen. It does make it a bit more interesting and keeps me worried. He had told me that his objective is to inflict maximum damage before pulling off with his force intact, thereby gaining a losing draw. At this point in time this is as much as he can realistically hope for. In the last campaign with Sandy St Clair operating in Normandy his wily opponent played by Paul the Panda inflicted a real bloody nose on his British pursuers which turned the campaign. The question here was could the Hun do the same?
Here’s a shot of the table from the British end. I set it up with the Germans retreating down the valley and with a dominant central ridge and a valley either side. You can see the contours, approximately, here:
THE PATROL PHASE
The Patrol Phase in this scenario is one of the most interesting as the pursuer ends up with one jump off point close to his base line which reflects his point of exit. He can choose where that is once the Patrol Phase is ended. The key here is to deploying his other jump-off points so as best to defend that exit point and make it impossible for the British to reach it.
In our game we had a real cat and mouse Patrol game, in some ways playing solo makes this phase even more interesting as you cannot have a fixed plan and run with that as, clearly, your “opponent” knows what you are up to. So, rather like fencing, you have to reconsider your options at each and every move of the markers, striking here, parrying there.
In the end the Germans deployed top defend the smaller valley, whilst the British had two jump-off points confined to their base line (in open terrain this is not unusual) but did succeed in moving one jump-off point round onto the shoulder of the right hand valley. This was, they hoped, the key to unlock the German position.
Phase 1. British 64432. My first move is to bring on the Daimler as its speed will be key. I elected to use a wheeled AFV as they are faster and more nimble. As the bombardment on the Jerry positions had just ended I wanted to move fast. On the high ground on the right sergeant Robertson deployed with Corporal Williams and No.1 section.
Phase 2. German. 44441. A dreadful roll for the Germans, especially as I now find out their organisation. Nick has elected to go for maximum firepower and has organised his men into three five-man LMG teams, each under a junior Leader. The AT rifle team he reinforces up to three men in strength. His support option was to be a tripod mounted LMG team to really beef up his firepower. The Germans now try to deploy one MG team but the preliminary bombardment means they are not available.
Phase 3. British 65432. The Daimler advances down the valley at speed. Corporal Sewell and No.2 section deploy to join No.1 section Sergeant Robertson puts the Bren teams on overwatch and then advances at the run with No.1 rifle team.
Phase 4. German 65221. Due to Nick’s choice of organisation 2′s are redundant, all of his units being teams with, normally, an NCO. He successfully deploys Obergefreiter Mueller with his LMG team on the 1 and they open fire on Robertson’s men. The big Sergeant is lucky that the line of sight is broken by the Daimler but three men go down dead (as in hors de combat for this game – we find out if they are actually brown bread at the end of the game) and they take two points of shock. This is not good, especially as the Brens on overwatch fire back with no effect.
Phase 5. British 44421. The Daimler sees what is happening and slows down to walking pace. Sergeant Robertson rallies his men and, in a manoeuvre not to be found in any drill manual, they move alongside the little scout car, using it as cover. Up on the shoulder of the valley Lieutenant Viljoen deploys and controls the fire of No.1 section’s Bren team and No.2 section. Some accurate shooting kills two men and shocks the remaining men in the team.
Phase 6. German 44321. Feldwebel Reinhardt deploys and rallies the shock on Mueller’s team and they return fire killing one British rifleman from No.2 section. The AT rifle deploys and fires on the Daimler, missing. A shame as it was on the flank and could have really spoilt the British day.
Phase 7. British 66642. This is a BAD roll for the British as it ends the first turn and the German deployment will now not be affected by the preliminary bombardment. However, Viljoen controls the base of fire on the ridge and put two shock on the AT rifle team and kill a further man on the LMG team. The turn ends.
Phase 1. British. The Daimler is very aware of the AT rifle on its flank and the driver puts the pedal to the metal and it begins to accelerate. The big Sergeant from Durham yells “run like f**k!” and remarkably for a fifty year old, he and his two remaining riflemen keep up with the accelerating car (helps when you roll 15 on 3D6!). On the ridge Viljoen uses the 2+2 to activate the base of fire he has established and in another round of remarkable shooting they wipe out the AT rifle team and the MG team, just Reinhardt and Mueller survive and they flee down into the valley to escape death.
Phase 2. German 44311. I am thinking of pulling off now. Especially as I am running Nick’s force on his behalf. But my plan now is to make the British come on to me. Once they try to come over the ridge I can deploy my LMGs and cut them down like wheat. Mueller and Reinhardt creep about a bit, but nothing else is deployed.
Phase 3. British 55551. This is an interesting roll as from having very few Chain of Command points this now puts me on 5. Another one and I have a full chain of command dice to use. In the meantime the rifle team from No.2 section advance tactically down the slope.
Phase 4. German 65542. Still lurking I do nothing. Once the British riflemen are further down in the valley itself, with no hope of escape I will deploy an LMG team and shoot them down. For now, nothing.
Phase 5. British, 54421. A full Chain of Command dice, so I can end the turn whenever I want. The Brens on the ridge go on overwatch and Viljoen advances to join the rifle team. The Daimler makes a dash for the German jump-off point but falls short by two inches due to moving over harder ground.
Phase 6. German 65542. Reinhardt and Mueller hurl grenades. A well placed grenade now could take out the Daimler. It’s a brave effort, but they miss. Not even close to tell the truth.
Phase 7. British 42111. It’s all over. The Daimler advances onto the Jump-off point (i.e. the German table exit point) and fires its Bren, killing acting Feldwebel Reinhardt. Vljoen and Roberts both run forward with their rifle teams in the hope of making a better photo for the press, but the Chain of Command dice ends the Turn, removes the German exit point and signals a German loss and a British victory.
With the battlefield in their control the British discover that of the four men who went down NONE are dead, but one needs medical attention which will mean he won’t be around for the next game. The Germans lost seven men plus Reinhardt. Of these three were dead or wounded abandoned on the battlefield. four were wounded of whom some will be walking wounded and easily treated, others more seriously wounded and absent for a while. Otto Mueller’s route of escape was cut off but he did manage to make his way back to his unit on the same day thanks to a local Arab trader.
In campaign terms the British Colonel is rather pleased with his resident “Yarpie”. The Borsetshires haven’t had many men from the Orange Free State in their ranks, and their history during the South African War meant that the young Afrikaner was viewed with some suspicion at the outset, but now they know he can use a knife and fork and have seen him lead from the front young Willem has done much to develop a good reputation. What’s more his men seem to be forgiving him for their losses in earlier battles. Certainly he is now described by his men as a popular leader. Their morale is good, they are well supported on missions, things are going well for the British.
Erwald von Kleist is not so lucky. His Oberst has now got an actively negative view of the young aristocrat and is unlikely to risk valuable resources supporting his ventures. His men are even more unhappy. There is talk about making an informal approach to the “Speiss” but nothing is done, yet. The Leutnant is best described by his men as irritable, understandably I suppose. Morale is poor now. To the extent that the German force morale will not be higher than 9 in any game until they can get some positive results.
As the British player I was glad to return to using full sections where possible; they are a much better balanced unit than the big gun team and big manoeuvre team (which looked not unlike the italian model) and I was very pleased with the results of my initial bombardment which did hamper the German deployment sufficiently for my fast moving recce vehicle to ruin their day. I never got to deploy the FOO team, I was very lucky with some of my shooting and that meant the mortars never got a look in.
For the Germans, the use of teams rather than squads was a bit of a disaster. I understand why Nick chose that option, in theory the firepower could have combined to blow me away. However, individual teams are less tactically flexible than squads, they do not provide mutual moral support like a complete squad does, and the bombardment really messed him up. At the end of the day it was the fact that two of his teams hadn’t been deployed onto the table that saved them and allowed them to get away. Like the British, his main support option never even deployed onto the table, so fast was the game. Indeed, this was a classic campaign game of the sort you’d prefer not to fight in reality, but that you need to fight to try to delay the enemy’s advance.
Another solo game much enjoyed. I am not a regular solo player; sure, I play through game mechanisms solo and work through situations hundreds of times, but it is a luxury to play a game for sheer fun. And this certainly was fun. The Command Dice make for a really interesting game of choices. What I like about them is that they restrict what you can do whilst at the same time offering you a combination of options you can select from to put together the best phase of play you can. This for me is what a good game is about. I have been asked why I simply did not just allow the players to roll 1D6 and that then determine how many command pips they could use to activate whichever units they wanted. The answer is that doing that always allows you to activate the most important unit first, and that is providing the gamer with far more control than his real life counterpart would have. On a noisy, dangerous battlefield you have limited abilities to command. The Command Dice tell you what the limits of your abilities are for the next ten seconds and you have to work with that to make things happen, Sometimes you can choose the best possible response to the immediate situation, other times you can only manage the best response possible, and there lies the rub. The choice of decisions to be made should not be easy or obvious, they SHOULD challenge. Otherwise where’s the challenge of the game?
With two games under our belt the British have dominated no-mans-land and driven in the German outposts. Now they plan to attack the main German positions with Lieutenant Viljoen’s platoon being tasked with seizing the well at Sheik al Fak. Since the campaign began the young Free-Stater’s platoon has changed somewhat in composition. The unfortunate death of Platoon Sergeant Vic Churchill and the capture of Corporal Seth Ramsbottom has caused the platoon morale to drop badly. Of the three original section leaders only Ed “Kiwi” Harris remains in his role. Lieutenant Viljoen has been fortunate in that the C.O. is looking on his favourably and has allowed him to hand Corporal Robertson his third stripe. This is a risky move; Fred Robertson was a Company Sergeant Major in the DLI in the first lot and a long service regular, but drink has seen him lose stripes as quickly as he gains them. However, in this situation Viljoen is ready to place his trust in the strapping six-footer from the North East.
No.1 Section, formerly Seth Ramsbottom’s section, is now led by Corporal Jerry Williams, a 23 year old former bus driver from Birmingham, whilst N0.2 section is now led by Horace Sewell, a 22 year old agricultural worker from Worcester. Both men have been promoted from Lance Corporal so are relatively experienced soldiers in their own rights. What is good news is that Corporal Harris was put in for the Military Medal after the last game and the Colonel has apparently backed up the application. So the platoon live in hope.
Leutnant von Kleist’s platoon is rather more settled. Both Otto Mueller and Gottfried Liebermann still command the 1st and 2nd squads, whilst Dieter Reinhardt has been promoted to acting Feldwebel. Gunter Ulrich now had his old third squad. The problem for both sides is how to deal with the loses they have suffered. The British have lost seven men dead, but they still have three men receiving medical care, so they are ten men down for this next mission. The Germans have lost fewer, just six men dead, but they too have a couple of men in hospital so are eight men down. One of the issues a campaign presents you with far better than any stand-alone scenario is how to deal with losses such as these. How they structure their platoons will potentially depend on the mission they face.
Before we begin our game we roll for support. As they British are attacking they roll 2D6 for this Attack & Defend Scenario. They roll a total of 7, allowing them to choose support up to List Seven and restricting the Germans to half of that, rounded down) so just three. However, because the British C.O. is impressed with Viljoen he intervenes to bring the British total to List 8. The British decide to take a pair of Universal carriers from List 5 and a single Universal carrier from list 3, giving them a complete section of three. These they arm with two Brens and one with a 2″ mortar. The Germans elect to take entrenchments (sangars in this desert environment) for three Teams. The German player is unaware what support the British player has chosen (and vice versa). The German player elects to field two full strength squads with the third squad made up of Gefreiter Ulrich with three man and the AT rifle. This sees him reinforce the AT rifle to a large team with Junior Leader but sacrifice his third MG34 altogether. Potentially risky, but he knows that a complete squad may lose out on firepower but is a more resilient unit than smaller individual MG teams.
The British re-organise completely. Three Bren teams of three men each are combined into one fire section under the command of the Platoon Sergeant and Corporal Sewell. Two independent rifle teams are made up of six and five men respectively under Corporals Williams and Harris. It’s a drastic re-organisation, but my plan is for the carriers to do the hard work and allow my men the luxury of letting someone else do the hard fighting.
The game initial set up then saw me deploy four Patrol Markers and move four times before we tested for force moral. The Germans roll and begin the game with a Force Morale of 9. My force morale is lessened as my men are unhappy with the significant losses they suffered in the last game, and I begin with a Force Moral of 8. So the Germans move their Patrol Marker first. Let’s see how that game played out.
Actually this pre-game stage was a bit cat and mouse. Nick started off going for the left whereas I went for the right. To the degree that it looked like I would be able to wrong-foot the Germans and force some of their jump-off points right out on the table edge. Nick was wise to this and shifted his centre of gravity in order to end up with his Jump-Off points in each of the three buildings and in some scrub off to his left. You can see them marked in blue on this picture.
My jump-off points were, fairly predictably, behind the low ridge, but I did manage to push forward one into a forward semi-flanking position. It was that key small gain which I now plan to exploit. The ridge isn’t easy to see here – it really is low – but I have marked it on this image along with my jump-off points in red.
I often get messages from people asking how long this pre-game patrol phase takes. As I upload these images I can see that the first photo and the last photo of this process are three minutes apart, and that includes my taking snaps. So you can see that this is a very quick phase which then results in getting your forces to the point of first contact with the enemy pretty rapidly. A real time saver in games such as club evenings, but it also gives each scenario its own unique situation from the outset.
Now we move on to Turn One. The British get the first phase as they are attacking.
Phase 1. British, 65322. I add 2+2 and bring on the command carrier. At the moment I am content to start with a relatively slow build up, putting the right blocks in place before I move on to the next one. As a result I don’t use my other dice in this phase.
Phase 2. German 55531. The Germans are never going to show their hand this early in the game. but they are glad of the three Chain of Command points. Always handy to have up your sleeve when defending, they want complete Chain of Command Dice as soon as possible.
Phase 3. British 66641. The 2″ mortar deploys behind the ridge and the command carrier moves up. With three 6′s rolled the turn ends.
Phase 1. British 44331. Carrier 2 arrives. Corporal Sewell deploys with the gun section and Sergeant Robertson puts them all on overwatch. Both the 2″ mortar and the command carrier deploy smoke.
Phase 2. German 54321. They do nothing.
Phase 3. British 65421. The command carrier fires smoke as does the 2″ mortar. Carrier two is ordered to deploy forward which it does into a hull-down position behind the shallow ridge.
Phase 4. German 44321. The Germans do nothing. Players note from Nick. I am quite happy to sit and allow Rich to do whatever he’s doing. His smoke screen is looking pretty effective at stopping me from firing at him, but I know that he is going to have to come and get me at some point, until them I am sitting tight.
Phase 5. British 64322. The command carrier deploys smoke. carrier 3 arrives. The platoon Sergeant (operating on 2+2) gets the 2″ mortar to fire smoke.
Phase 6. German 54411. I do nothing. I could deploy my AT rifle, but with the carrier behind that ridge and it being a small and low profile target it would be a very lucky shot. I wait.
Phase 7. British 33332. A great roll! Carrier 3 moves up at speed. Harris and Williams deploy with the assault teams. Carrier 2 goes on overwatch.
Phase 8. German 54322. I do nothing but I end the turn with my now full Chain of Command dice. That removes the smoke and ends all overwatch.
Phase 1. British 53211. Both rifle teams move tactically towards the cover of some scrub. Carrier 3 advances to support them.
Phase 2. German 55431. Nick says: I feel like my hand is being forced here. I need to do something and now the British Brens are not on overwatch is a good time. However, they will be firing soon enough so I deploy squad 1 off to the side in a sangar from where they can fire on one of the rifle teams. They do so and with terrible dice have no effect.
Phase 3. British 44311. The two rifle groups move tactically into cover. Carrier 3 advances.
Phase 4. German 54422. Leutnant von Kleist deploys and controls the fire of the MG in squad 1. The rest of the squad fire as well. No kills, but they cause shock.
Phase 5. British 64431. Sergeant puts the Brens on overwatch. Viljoen arrives to take command of the rifle teams in the assault group. Harris moves forward tactically and carrier 3 moves up firing on squad 1, shocking the MG team.
Phase 6. German 66411. The Germans see the opportunity and deploy squad 2, firing on Harris. He is saved by being tactical so just takes shock. The British gun group on overwatch fire and kill one of the German MG team. Now von Kleist rallies squad 1 and gets it to fire, killing one of William’s men.
Phase 7. German 65311. Squad 1 fire again and Williams is knocked down wounded. Squad 2 fires at Harris’s group who lose one man dead and are close to being pinned.
Phase 8. British 44321. The Sergeant gets the gun group to fire on squad 2 as does carrier 3. Another man from the MG team is killed and the rifle team are taking a lot of shock. Lieutenant Viljoen runs forward and rallies Harris’ men. Carrier 2 advances and fires.
Phase 9. German 55432. Squad 2 rallies some shock and fires, shocking Harris’ team. Squad 1 fires and shocks and pins Williams’ team.
Phase 10. British 65543. The gun group fires and squad 2 along with carriers 2 and 3. The concentrated fire kills one man and shocks the whole squad. They are close to being pinned.
Phase 11. German 66632. Squad 2 rallies and fires on Williams’ team, breaking their morale, they run. Squad 1 start to move into the village to form a second line of defence. The Turn ends with Williams’ team routing from the table, but Williams recovers from being stunned to find himself alone.
Phase 1 German. Squad 2 rallies and fires on Harris. A truly terrible roll sees just two hits on men in the open and both of them turn out to be a near miss. That was really unlucky, an average roll would have seen a couple of dead and a couple of shock, a good roll would have seen them running. Squad 1 move up ready to take over from squad 2 who are nearly at 50% losses.
Phase 2. British 32211. With the 3+1 Viljoen rallies Harris’ men. 2+2 sees the commander of the carrier section get carriers 2 and 3 to fire while he uses his 2″ mortar to drop HE. They kill two men from squad 2. Harris gets his men to fire and shocks squad 2.
Phase 3. German 65321. Squad 2 is reduced to just five men and withdraws, allowing squad 1 to take their place. The AT rifle deploys and fires on carrier two. A partial penetration sees the carrier back off somewhat.
Phase 4. British 66332. Carriers 2 and 3 combine their fire with the gun group killing two riflemen and knocking out Mueller.
Phase 5. British 54332. The gun group fire under the Sergeant’s direction and kill one LMG crewman and one rifleman. The two carriers fire and kill a further rifleman. The handover of a position in the face of the enemy has been a disaster for Nick. Squad 1 have just lost four men dead in thirty seconds. It’s a big blow and in the campaign setting Nick uses his next phase to declare he is pulling off.
Thus endeth the game. We’ll be back shortly with some thoughts and the campaign results thus far. The third battle is a key moment in the campaign, so we will find out how our forces are feeling.
That was a hard fought game with Nick being somewhat unlucky with one key hand of dice which could have hit the British force morale badly. However, the British used their supports welland their use of a large machine gun section under the Sergeant paid dividends. I certainly felt that pushing Harris forward had to result in the Germans showing themselves and then once the firefight began I was confident that with a good base of fire I could outshoot the Germans. As it was Nick certainly showed that the Germans are tough men. We discussed his secondary plan which was to deploy his men in the rear of the village and oblige me to push on and turf them out at the point of a bayonet. However, in a campaign situation there is potential to lose one’s entire force in such a close quarter fight, and he felt that discretion was the better part of valour. Probably very wisely.
As it was the German actual dead (as opposed to men out of action) was five men, bringing the German losses thus far to 11 men. For the next game Nick will also have three men away receiving medical attention which makes his platoon 14 men down. He needs to seriously consider whether now is the time to receive his one inject of reinforcements available in this campaign. Remarkably the British only lost one man dead, making a total of 8 thus far. Not a whole lot better, but the fact that they have no men in hospital makes them significantly stronger.
At the end of the third game the British platoon are feeling a bit better about their leader. Their morale has recovered somewhat due to light casualties in their latest fight. The Colonel is very pleased with results and is still batting for your corner when it comes to providing support. Most importantly we are now able to discover the general mood of Lieutenant Viljoen and it seems that he is gaining a reputation with his men for being a sociable chap, an outlook which is having a positive effect on platoon morale.
On the other hand Leutnant von Kleist’s platoon are feeling pretty negative after that action, sufficiently so to see a reduction in morale. The Oberst is more patient, possibly because of the von Kleist family connections, but he is inclined to be more negative than positive after what has happened to date. What is worse is that the Leutnant is gaining a reputation as a worrier. Not sufficiently negative to reduce morale further, but another loss will not help matters at all.
So there we have it. Three games played and our characters are beginning to emerge. Sergeant Robertson performed well, albeit with limited responsibilities, so after two actions his third stripe looks secure for now. Let’s hope he keeps off the sauce!
The troops which have become known to us as the Requetés, were a mix of militias drawn from several political and social groups that existed within Spain during the era. Their one common facet was that they were all ostensibly devout and fervent Roman Catholics. To what extent this was true in each individual case is open to question, but nevertheless it does appear that, as a rule religious fervor within units of Requetés did surpass revolutionary or counter-revolutionary fervor in almost any other unit, with perhaps the exception of the Legion, which also shared some of socio-religious beliefs generally held by the Requetés. In the Legion’s case, this was mixed with a discipline code and culture which glorified sacrifice for country, giving them the edge on acts of virtually suicidal bravery.
The bulk of the Requetés were drawn from Navarre and the areas surrounding it and which culturally were very much part of ‘Old Spain’. Only in the few towns that had embraced industry, was there anything like any popular support for socialist views and by and large, little had changed since the Middle Ages. The only other area of note for producing Requetés was Andalucia, where as a show of strength for the ‘Traditionalist’ movement, six hundred of them had marched through Seville, earlier in 1936.
Little wonder therefore that belief that the Rojos (Reds) wanted to tear down everything that Spain meant to these people and commit them to an eternity in purgatory for crimes against God, done in their name, should provoke such fury. To add fuel to the fire, the Catholic Church supported such beliefs and routinely railed against the Rojos and their transgressions, from the pulpit. For the Requetés this was not a war over political differences, but a Holy Crusade.
As was the case elsewhere, sympathetic Army officers had been helping to resurrect the militias which had defended both Monarchy (albeit with rival claimants) and Church during the Carlist Wars of the 19th Century. Military firearms were relatively few, but many individuals owned one of a range of hunting rifles and shotguns, allowing meaningful training to be undertaken. When the rebellion began the Requetés began travelling to those towns which formed the centre of the revolt in their region. For the Navarrese it was Pamplona and for the Andalucians Seville. While as usual there were not sufficient support weapons to equip them, rifles were available, albeit of some antiquity on occasion. In many cases contingents of men were also accompanied by their local priests, who in effect became ‘Commissars of God’ in the Requete formations.
Initially the various units of Requetés were grouped with line formations, so that support weapons could be attached to these militia formations and they could also enjoy somewhat more localised artillery and logistics support, than would otherwise be available to groups composed solely of Requetés. This was later formalised when the Navarrese Brigades were formed in February of 1937, each of which grouped one regular regiment with several Tercios (Battalions) of Requetés. By this time the Requetés were receiving their own support weapons as supply allowed and were beginning more and more to adopt the standard Spanish organisational structure.
Despite their amalgamation with the Falange in April 1937, the appearance of the Navarrese units remained largely unchanged throughout Civil War and the FET de las Jons adopted their distinctive Red Berets (Boinas Rojas). Contrary to popular belief however, these were not universal and many individuals and units wore their civilian black berets. While the Falangist units in the North were virtually absorbed by the more numerous Requetés there, the Andalucian Requetés remained as distinctive units until the end of the Civil War.
This list can be used to create a Requete Infantry Platoon (Piquete) of the period July to November 1936, after which time their organisation began to conform to that of the Regular Army, as did their equipment. As a body of men, the Requetés were capable with their weapons and while any formation that has yet to come under fire, is somewhat suspect, the Requetés gained a reputation for being steadfast and at times totally without fear. Nevertheless they also suffered from lack of experience and took needless casualties that more experienced units could have avoided. Like other militias of the Civil War, the Requetés were not limited to being infantry and several mounted companies were raised in the North and at least one in the South. While not true cavalry, they performed the mounted infantry and scout roles more than adequately.
The list for the Traditionalist Militias can be found here: CoC – Traditionalist Militias