Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Armies by the Numbers

One of the biggest issues with running any historical campaign is working out the numbers of troops fielded by both sides and making that work with the rules you are playing with. If a rule set calls for each figure to represent 20 real troops, does that include officers and NCOs. What about the followers still found in early 20th century armies.

And then there is the battle with intelligence itself. How many troops are really there. Looking at the four battalions in General Delamain’s force in November 1914 it is easy to figure how many stands I will need.

Other Ranks
Other Ranks
2nd Dorsetshire

20th Punjabis

104th Rifles

117th Mahrattas


This comes from the Official History.

Yet my rules call for smaller stands. I can live with this as units will have troops detached and conducting other duties. This will give the Indian Regiments 12 stands and the 2nd Dorsetshire 16 stands which is in line with the rules, If the Lord Spares Us.

And then on to the Ottomans. Here there are a few intelligence issues here. The Indian Army was lacking good coobarated intelligence on the ground with most information coming from Arab forces looking to curry favor with both the British and Ottomans. Often at the same time.

This is what is known in the Basra to Kuwait area from September 1914 on ward to the landing at Fao in November.
  • September 1914 – 8,000 rifles, 500 sabres, 58 guns and 6 machine guns in and around Basra.
  • It is latter reported that there are two regiments between Fao and Kuwait.
  • A further report showed 3,600 infantry, 1,000 gendarmerie and two batteries of guns in the Basra - Kuwait area.
  • The Shaikh of Mohammerah is able to bring 5-10,000 rifles to the fight (presuming on the British side.
  • The Shaikh Kuwait was able to bring an additional 16,000.
  • 38th Division and gendarmerie were known to be the only troops between Baghdad and Basra once troops were redeployed towards the Caucasus Front when the Ottomans entered the war.
  • Major Radcliffe from Kuwait sources had the Fao area holding 400 troops and seven to eight guns.
  • The Shaikh Kuwait reported that mines were received for the waters off of Fao.
  • Lastly there are the Turkish sources. Fao had 110 rifles, four guns and no machine guns.

These are assumed to be a mix of local Arabs and Ottoman troops.

For the Ottomans I will go with small companies of three stands each compared to the British four and Indian three. The number of companies is undetermined.

So how do we run this? I think very carefully. General Delamain knows he has over whelming superiority and has the Royal Navy to assist. But in any good game there has to be a certain level of uncertainty. Do the Ottomans have machine guns? Will the warships be able to bring in a barrage prior to the landing? Are the Ottomans trained or just a rabble?

In the end I am going with a random events/forces chart (to be seen in the next Lardies Christmas Special) for the beginning of this campaign. Will General Delamain win? I think so as it will be hard to stop the British from advancing on Basra and possibly Qurna. Hard, but not impossible.

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