Sunday, 19 May 2013

Operation Mercury

Operation Mercury was a WW2 airsoft game put on by AGS and run at the UCAP Sandpit site near Dartford in kent, a gigantic disused quarry.

The game was set around the invasion of Crete in 1941 and featured a Bitish infantry platoon defending an airfield against a large group of FJ on one side and some Gebirgsjagers in the mountains on the other.

There was a good turnout and despite some last minute dropouts, around 25 players turned up for each side. I was rather looking forward to it both as an excuse to wear some more unusal kit and also to use my Bren in a larger game.

British line up on parade. They were a motley mix of KD, Battledress and some rather dodgy looking pullovers. Never have so many bare knees been seen in one game before...
The Germans assemble in a typical disorderly rabble.
Cheery tommies ready for action.

The mighty Bren

Fallschirmjagers pose for the camera.

 The game started with a fair number of non-combat activities. The FJ were 'dropped' without weapons and scattered over a large area on the far side of the site individually, while the GJ were a more cohesive group but fighting forward from a different area to link up with the paras. Both groups had a fair amount of marching around to do to sort themselves out. The paras in particular had to find their pals and most importantly, all their weapons and ammo which were in drop cannisters.

The German paras busied themselves grouping up and trying to locate their drop canisters.

The British meanwhile assembled around the airfield, the NCOs keeping us on our toes with drill. After a while however we had to take cover as the airfield was heavily 'bombed'. This was really quite realistic and at one point part of the roof blew in so I was glad I was wearing a helmet.

British move down to the Airfield.
After the raid A and C sections were sent to hold the gun positions to the west of the airfield, while B section was despatched up the mountain to dig in and establish an OP. This involved a lot of digging holes in the ground and wiring up the field telephone.
The corporal keeps a lookout.

Digging in.
Bren gun pit from the front.
The position was a very strong one with wire and mines covering open ground on the right, and the denser terrain on left was covered by a series of pre-existing earth banks which we dug into. The Bren and 2" mortar were sited to cover the wire and the gap beside it, with various outlying positions for the riflemen. The signal point was in the rear and the flanks were covered by precipitous cliffs.

There was a  hell of a scrap for the hill, wave after wave of Germans were mown down as they tried to make their way around the prepared defences. Unfortunately our own losses also mounted with increasing numbers wounded despite our trenches, and ammunition ran short. Despite repeated calls to HQ for more supplies we eventually ran out of ammunition and the survivors didn't have any option but to fall back down off the hill.

Germans taunt us from the mountain top.

GJ on the mountain, sorting themselves out, the airfield buildings below

Once we'd been pushed off the hill, things went downhill fairly rapidly. The OC turned up and ordered an immediate counterattack to retake it, which the German shot down as easily as we'd shot down their attacks.  The Germans then conducted their own attack down the hill, and on a broader front made excellent use of fire and movement and overran our position easily.

We fell back to cover the road to the airfield, but the GJ bypassed as and linked up with the FJ out to west, catching A and C section in a pincer movement. Again we attempted to counterattack to restore the situation, but again this failed although it was very amusing to see the looks of alarm on their faces as we appeared behind them and took them by surprise.

FJ marching towards the British blocking position between cliffs and lake.

FJ rest among the barren wastes.

An awful lot of people played the game in shorts, which was pretty heroic considering the nettles, rough ground and torrential rainfall in the afternoon.

Much of the site was very barren and rocky. Not very kind on knees.

GJ commander in his captured Bombay Bloomers.

The final British position covering the airfield soon collapsed and we were forced back into the airfield buildings where we held out for a suprisingly long time (two hours). Urban combat is always slow and the fighting was very intense. Eventually the buildings were taken and all that was left was for the survivors to try and make it to the sea to be rescued by the Royal Navy.

Rather than a careful breakout attempt, this eventually consisted of everyone running as fast as they could for the far side of the lake, while the Germans tried to intercept them.  Only eight of us made it though. I knew all that running would come in handy, even though I don't usually do it in full kit, ammuniton boots and carrying a very heavy machinegun.

The whole thing was brilliant fun and well worth arriving home utterly exhausted with piles of wet kit to sort out. An order is already in the post for some excessively baggy khaki shorts.

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