Part of the fun of playtesting a set of rules is the opportunity to not just think about the rules, but also to play games and have fun with the characters involved. As anyone who has played Lardy rules will know, our emphasis is on the men who fought and their importance on the battlefield. Nowhere could the men be more to the fore than in an aerial game where the chance to “get to know” each and every pilot over a sequence of games is the best way to really immerse ones-self in the system. So, inspired by Joe Legan’s Squadron Forward, I decided to land our hero, The Right Honourable Algernon Carpet-Byrnes, with his brand new Squadron in May of 1916. I rolled a few dice and here are the chaps that our new Sprog is serving with.
247 Squadron is commanded by Major Sir James Seville DSO, MC, a cunning hedonist who transferred to the Corps before the war and who ranks as a lesser Ace. Algy has been allocated to A Flight which, due to the Fokker Scourge, has been reduced to just seven pilots and six observers.
Captain Blackburn heads the Flight, a Veteran who is well-born, wealthy and yet lazy. He flies with Sergeant Edmonds as his Observer. Lieutenant Stewart is also a veteran who is a liberally minded chap who tranferred to the service from the infantry due to his consuming interest in all things mechanical. His observer is the Canadian Oberver Lieutenant “Nipper” Jensen.
Lieutenant Leigh-Travis is also new to the Squadron, being a sprog who seems highly pessimistic about his chances of survival, and also appears to be consumed with avarice. Possibly this could reflect his earthy background in the terraced streets of the north of England, although one would have hoped that Grammar school would have knocked those corners off him before now! Not a popular man, but he is lucky at cards, so who knows. He flies with the elderly Sergeant Wogan who is a renowned poor shot.
Lieutenant Hamilton is a cultured man whose sole care seems to be to return to his beloved family. He hounds his aircrew to get the best performance from his aircraft and his engine is tuned to perfecion, always useful when getting out of a scrape. US Volunteer Sergeant Roscoe is his observer. Roscoe has aspirations to greater things than simply an Observer’s half wings.
Sergeant Bates is another newcomer, a young sprog who joined the squadron last week. He is already carving out a reputation as a man who likes to have fun, clearly valuing golden hours of wine, women and song behind the lines. He also has managed to dispaly a certain derring do in his short time here. Will this be another star that burns brightly before suddenly extinguishing? Who cares, open another bottle, bring on more French fancies! Oh, his observer died two days ago, he currently is awaiting a replacement and “borrows” one of the chaps when he goes up.
Lieutenant Young is the old man of the Flight. He too is keen to return to huis familiy in Surrey and his job as a stock-broker. However, his dedication to his nation and King ensure that this man does his duty at all times. He is helped by Sergeant Raymond, his marksman Observer.
Into this mix has come Algy, the new Sprog. He is flying with Corporal Oiksworth, newly transferred from the Royal Engineers and ready for his first mission. Corporal Oiksworth has never flown before but has some experience of operating a Lewis gun.
Algy doesn’t yet know the chaps in B and C Flights, but he has heard that Captain Freeman who commands B Flight is a daring minor Ace who is driven by revenge. His brother who served in the same Squadron was killed several months ago. Freeman is an Australian and respected for his leadership qualities (unlike Capptain Blackburn of A Flight). There is some worry about his drinking. No matter what he drinks he only consumes it from pint glasses. Not halves.
Captain Peel commands C Flight. A Meek man, a veteran flyer, he recently applied from the job of Squadron commander but lost out to Sir James. Not a situation which makes for comfortable co-existence!
Captain Walker is the Squadron Recording Officer, a glum man whose mood only lifts when in his cups.
So there we have a snap-shot of 247 Squadron as Algy sees it. Algy has aspirations to fly Scouts, especially as he met Major Rogers of 321 Squadron on the boat to France who regaled him with such stories. However, Algy knows he will need to make a name for himself on “Fees” before he can dream of a transfer.
So, let us see what the future brings. ALgy’s first mission is scheduled for this very day!
Following on from our piece the other day when we looked briefly at how we put our scenario together for the Operation Charnwood game, we can now look at the battle and how it played out. Rather than the usual narrative I thought we’d look at the decision making process that we involved for both