Tuesday, February 23, 2010


1936. Bombay, India.

General Sir Michael Keating, head of the Imperial Afghanistan Operations Department sits at his desk, reading a report with a heavy frown on his face. One hand smoothes his moustache obsessively as his eyes dart back and forth from the papers before him, to a large map of India and Afghanistan pinned to the wall.
There is a knock at the door and the General raises sad and weary eyes. ”Come in”. The door is opened by his young secretary Gladys who looks noticeably flushed.
”There is a gentleman to see you Sir.” She announces.
Before the General can ask who, a tall and well built man enters the room and upon seeing the old army officer strides forward and extends his hand. ”General Keating Sir! It’s been a long while!”
Keating stares at the hand in astonishment, but only for a second. Standing abruptly he lets out a exclamation of surprise. ”Great Scott! Young Mansfield! ...but what the deuce are you doing here?”
Mansfield smiles broadly as they shake hands vigorously (the General wincing slightly). ”Orders sir. Sir Hugh sent us a wire and told us to report to you at the first possible opportunity, seems you’re having problems with our old friend Korsakov.”
The Generals eyes flicker to the report lying upon his desk and come alive.
”My God!” he cries out suddenly. ”You don’t mean to tell me you’re the secret agent Sinclair promised me!”
”The very same!” Mansfield chuckles.
”You’re the rocket man?”
”Yes, but...” Mansfield glances over his shoulder theatrically,”It’s all a bit hush hush you know.”
General Keating nods gravely. ”Of course, of course. I didn’t mean to burst out like that, but I didn’t have the first notion of what Sinclair meant when he wired he was sending a ‘rocket man’, some sort of dashed code word I assumed, I certainly didn’t expect to see you walking into my office as proud as Punch.”
Mansfield walks over to the map of Afghanistan and after offering a cigarette to the General, lights a Pall Mall.
”So what’s afoot Sir?”
”Well, you may know more about the business than I do seeing as you’ve apparently had dealings with this fellow before!”
”Yes indeed. It seems this damned Bolshevik’s taken up residence in Northern Afghanistan and he’s making a big stink with King Shah and some of the northern tribes. Our man in Afghanistan, Cartwright, has sent me this report and I’ve been turning the whole thing over and over in my mind and I can’t for the life of me make head or tail of it. It’s a rum business d’you see? ...and London wants it dealt with in double quick time.”
”Why doesn’t the King just chase him out then?”
The General sighs and passes a sheet of paper to Mansfield. ”Look at the numbers. This Korsakov fellow has his own private army, with tanks, armoured cars and even a bally armoured train!”
”No aircraft though?”
”No... Not that we know of but our information is sketchy. Here’s what we know so far; some time earlier this year Korsakov came down south through Uzbekistan to the Afghan border on an armoured train. None of the locals had ever seen such an item and it naturally got around. Our man in Kabul decided to go north and find out more but he had no luck. He returned to Kabul only to find that in his absence the King had learned that Alim Khan had...”
“Alim Khan?”
”The old ruler of Bukhara, he was ousted by the Bolsheviks in 1920 and he’s been living in Kabul ever since. I understand he’s something of a thorn in the Kings side, but too rich and influential with the northern tribes to risk alienating. According to Cartwright, Alim Khan is some how involved with Korsakov, but we don’t know exactly how. We think Korsakov may be getting ready to take over Afghanistan and use Alim Khan as a proxy ruler, but we can’t be sure. Alim Khan is a cunning devil and he could simply be milking the Russian for funding, selling him favours with the Northern Tribes.”
”Who are the northern tribes?”
”There are quite a few, mostly Turcoman, but with a few Pashtun scattered amongst them. We’re not sure where Korsakov is, but he seems to be operating some where in the Kunduz region.”
The two men regard the map doubtfully.
”It’s a quite a distance from Bombay” Mansfield notes.
”Quite, and I haven’t got the first idea what to do about it. If Korsakov is as well armed as he appears to be, then he may very well upset the balance of power in Afghanistan and things could get a bit sticky for all of us. The Communists won’t allow Afghanistan to become a threat to their southern border, and I’ve no doubt they’ll attack and take the whole country for themselves.”
”That could be what Korsakov is counting on” Mansfield replies. The General glances at the younger man sharply.
”What do you mean? Who is this Korsakov fellow anyway? The only thing Hugh Sinclair’s told me is that he used to be head of some kind of special experimental military project called ONB7. I’ll be blessed if I know what that is”
”He’s a dangerous character” Mansfield replies as he shakes his head ruefully. ”He had an entire army at his disposal in Kazakhstan, light and heavy armour units, special guards, aircraft, and some kind of death ray he was preparing to use against Moscow:”
”A death ray?”
”Yes. Thankfully we put an end to it, but Heaven only knows what else the man has up his sleeve. He was impossible to kill you know. He was wearing a suit of bullet proof armour would you believe!?”.
”A what?”
”Like a sort of motorized knight in plate armour”
”The Devil you say!” General Keating pours himself a stiff glass of whiskey and settles down behind his desk. ”That settles it. You’ll have to go up there and deal with him again, but I won’t send you alone. As it happens, Sir John Napier is in Lahore with his special operations boys. They’ve been dealing with a nasty Thuggee cult but I gather that’s all done with now. I’ll drop him a line and let him know your own your way.”
”Excellent” Mansfield stubs out his cigarette. ”I’ll gather my lot and we’ll fly up there at once”


“So, let me get this straight...” Mitchell aims a finger at Mansfield as they recline on padded seats in the back of a chartered de Havilland Dragon. “...that damned Bolshie jumped on a train with a load of tanks n’ men, and headed south to another secret base, in Afghanistan?” Mansfield nods as he lights a Pall Mall.
“And now we’re being asked to stop him, again?” George interjects from his seat behind Mitchell.
Mansfield smiles slowly. “Oh, I’m sure we can think of something. This chap we’re to meet, Sir John Napier, has a few resources up his sleeve I believe. We won’t be going in alone and we won’t have to rely on a few Russian soldiers this time either.”
“What’s he got, that’s so special this here Napier fellah?”
Mansfield turns to grin at the big Texan.
“Tanks. Four of them to be precise. Vickers, Mark II’s. They’re not the latest thing, but they’re better than anything the Afghans have and they’ll give Korsakov a run for his money if we use them right.”
“Tanks is good” Mitchell concedes, “But we need troops as well.”
“We’ll have them. Napier runs some kind of local operations group and they specialise at solving awkward situations along the frontier. They’re going in as our main force. The tanks are their support.”
“British soldiers?” George asks
“Locals from Lahore, but with a few specialists too. Colonials mostly I expect.”

Twelve hours later the Dragon lands on a dusty airstrip just north of Peshawar. Mansfield peers out of the window at as the plane taxis towards a hanger. A tall fair haired man in a colonial uniform is standing on the turret of a Rolls Royce armoured car watching with one hand shading his eyes from the setting sun.
“We there?” Mitchell mutters opening his eyes and peering about.
Mansfield leaves his friends gathering the baggage and as the Dragons engines splutter into silence, he strides across the dusty airfield. The fair haired man hops down fro his vantage point and saunters closer.
“Captain Mansfield?” he asks in a clearly British accent.
“The same” Mansfield shakes the offered hand.
“Pleased to meet you” the other man is taller and stands with the causal air of the English gentry abroad. “I’m Gerald Leftbridge-Smythe, but usually every one just calls me Lefty”.
Mansfield nods, noting the polished lieutenant’s pips on Leftbridge-Smythe’s shoulders. “It’s been a while since I was addressed as Captain” he smiles.
“Those were days eh?” Leftbridge-Smythe smiles thinly as he watches the plane being unloaded. “Tell you what. Why don’t you let my chaps help yours and I’ll give you a ride back to the camp?”
Mansfield glances over at the Rolls Royce and Leftbridge-Smythe catches his eye. “Oh, not in the Roller. We have a slightly more comfortable conveyance for officers, what d’you say?” Mansfield smiles as he notes a dull grey touring car parked beside a nearby hanger. “Certainly. I’m sure George and Mitchell can manage without me”
“That’s the spirit. So tell me, where did they call you Captain then?”

Leftbridge-Smythe drives the anonymous car across the airfield to where a small military camp has been set up amongst a grove of tall trees. Daniel Mansfield, having dozed for the last few hours feels the tiredness growing upon him again regardless but just as he begins to yearn for a comfortable bed, his fatigue evaporates as four Vickers Mk II tanks come abruptly into view, he is about to comment on the sight when his eye catches three smaller tanks beyond them. Noting the abrupt change in his companion’s posture, Leftbridge-Smythe smirks well naturedly. “Warms the heart eh?”
Mansfield nods and the car suddenly swerves to halt before a large tent with a heavy set man in a khaki uniform standing before it.
“Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Napier” Leftbridge-Smythe introduces the man who lifts his hat to Mansfield revealing close cropped iron grey hair above a kindly face.
“Captain Daniel Mansfield, former fighter pilot in France and later Iraq and now... how shall we say it? A specialist working for her Majesty?” Napier opens the flap of his tent to reveal comfortable seats and a table of food.
Mansfield shrugs and enters the tent. “Perhaps Sir we shouldn’t mention it?”
Napier laughs as he follows the younger men into the tent. “Perhaps your right. I’m sure Keating wasn’t exaggerating when he said we might need you, and I understand you’ve had dealings with this Korsakov fellow before?”
“You could say that. He kidnapped my fiancé so I destroyed his death ray and scuppered his plan to obliterate Moscow.”
Mansfield sits at the table as a small Indian man-servant begins to open and proffer various exotic dishes. Napier and Leftbridge-Smythe glance at each other in astonishment.

Later, after Mitchell and George have arrived, Sir John gathers his most trusted men about him to go over the mission.
“Gentlemen, tomorrow we begin a most hazardous endeavour. Our orders are to enter Afghanistan and make our way to Kabul. There we will rendezvous with a local regiment of the Kings guards, and together we will make our way to Kunduz. Once in Kunduz we will conduct operations against a renegade Bolshevik named Korsakov, and his private army... Yes Rogers?”
At the back of the tent, a short, dark haired man with a stumpy beard stands up.
“Pardon me sir, but will we driving north or taking a train?”
“We shall have to drive north I’m afraid. Once we’re in Afghanistan we have to be as inconspicuous as possible, so no trains or major roads. Not that there are any. It’s going to be hard slog but with luck we should be able to reach Kabul quickly.”

“Welcome gentlemen, welcome to the Court of His Most August Majesty, King Mohammed Zahir Shah. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Mohammed Ali Gahar, Advisor to his Majesty on Foreign Affairs. His Majesty has asked me to deal with this small matter of the Bolshevik renegade, Korsakov.”
Lieutenant Colonel, Sir John Napier steps forward and bows courteously. Behind him, his officers and Daniel Mansfield do likewise.
“We are pleased to meet you Your Excellency, if I may take the liberty of calling you so.”
“Indeed you may” purrs the well dressed Afghan.
“Thank you Your Excellency, but I must admit that I am some what puzzled. My orders led me to expect a meeting with some gentleman named Mohammed Akka Khan... “
“Ah yes, most unfortunately, Mister Khan is no longer with us.”
“I see. Well I hope nothing unfortunate has happened to him?”
The heavily built, well fed Advisor to the King smiles happily.
“Mister Khan displeased His Majesty and so he was sent back to his tribe in disgrace. I was appointed in his stead”.
“Very well then. I suppose you are aware of the arrangement His Majesty has undertaken with Sir Michael?”
“To some degree yes, but I am afraid that circumstances have changed some what since the previous agreement was brokered.”
“Previous agreement?” Sir John’s voice drops in both tone and temperature. “I am not aware of any other...”
“Ah, General, rest assured that I have not dishonoured the agreement, merely adapted it to the current situation.”
Sir John is about to reply when a door opens at the far end of the hall and several figures step into view. One in European garb. Mohammed Ali Gahar smiles and gestures with a bejewelled hand.
“Mister James Cartwright.”
Sir John examines the approaching man. He is middle aged, with few distinguishing features beyond a brown moustache and a receding hair line. There is no outward indication that this man might be an agent of the highest order, rather he resembles a draughtsman or the ubiquitous clerk.
“Sir John I presume?” the man asks with the voice of an introvert attempting to create a good impression.
“Yes. Very good to meet you Cartwright” Sir John replies in an off hand manner. He turns to the Royal Advisor on Foreign Affairs but is surprised to see the blue robed official turning to leave.
“Your Excellency...?”
“I shall give you some time to confer” the other replies smoothly. “Actually, it is also almost time for prayer.”
The finality of this statement is unmistakable and the Afghan advisor turns to the other men who entered with Cartwright. After a few muttered words, they leave as a group, ignoring the surprised indignation of the British officers.
“What the devil is going on?” Sir John asks James Cartwright.
“Come with me Sir John the palace isn’t a place where one loiters to unburden one’s self, if you catch my meaning...”
Sir John is nobodies fool, so with his officers he follows Cartwright, out into the courtyard then through a gate out onto a large open area where five dusty armoured cars are parked amid a small crowd of Afghans.
“This will do” Cartwright mutters. Out in the open and in plain view is the safest place here. I suppose I’d better fill you in on the details as time has become a factor we can’t ignore”
“Yes. What on Earth is going on?”
“I’m afraid we’ve been out manoeuvred by the Bolsheviks”
“It’s really rather simple, our previous agreement with Mohammed Akka Khan got buried when he did. The Bolshevik’s moved south a lot faster than we’d anticipated and as you might imagine, this didn’t sit well with the King at all. He executed Akka Khan and replaced him with Ali Gahar. Ali Gahar sent the Kings army north into the Kunduz Valley two days ago.”
“But we were supposed to rendezvous with the Afghans and provide them with armoured support. Are you telling me they’ve marched into battle without us?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying, but it gets worse I’m afraid.”
“How?” Sir John asks with incredulity written on his features.
“Do you see those armoured cars?”
All heads turn to face the five battered old vehicles.
“They make up the Kings entire armoured force, and Ali Gahar has left them here for you, which means the Afghan army has no mobile armoured support what so ever. They did bring a few field guns, but I didn’t see any ammunition wagons, just a few mules, and if the information I’ve received regarding Korsakov’s army is anything to go by, the Afghans are about to get massacred.”
“Dear God, what a bloody shambles!” He turns to his men. “Rogers, inspect those Rollers and let me know if they’re of any use”
“Sir!” The bearded fellow named Rogers strides off towards the armoured cars.
“Good man Rogers. An excellent mechanic. Seconded to us from the Eight Royal Dragoon Guards”. Cartwright nods absently. It is obvious that Sir John is deep in thought and speaking at random. His eyes dart back and forth for a several minutes until finally they come to rest on Cartwright’s own. Cartwright is suddenly struck by the force of character that lurks behind those grey blue eyes. He feels an unbidden enthusiasm building as Sir John begins to speak.
“Two days for a walking army isn’t much of a start. We’ll dismount the tanks from the transporters at once, divide the column into two, and move up the Kunduz Valley at speed with the heavy units. The supply group will follow and we’ll leave most our infantry with them to ensure their security. Without misfortune, we might be able to reach the Afghan’s before they reach the Russians... what do we know of Korsakov’s strength?”
“He has a large field army, larger than we’d previously thought. The good news is, he’s been clearing out the locals and this means we have a lot of new friends in this part of the world.”
“Has he concentrated his forces?”
“I don’t know because I don’t know how many allies he’s brought south with him. What I do know is, he had a field army roaming north of Kunduz about ten days ago, and he has supply difficulties for his armoured units.”
“Cut off from his factories eh?”
“That’s right sir.”
“Good. Serves him right the bastard. Rogers, what about those cars?”
Rogers looks up from beneath a running board. “This one is almost useless sir, but the other four are ready to go.”
“Excellent, we’ll use them for reconnaissance instead of the Mark VI’s and move them into the main armoured squadrons. One per group. To act as support.”
“That leaves Denton in the Mark VIc, what should we do with him?” Lieutenant Leftbridge-Smyth interjects.
“Keep him where he is, Denton is a good scout commander and that fifteen millimetre might come in handy. Now. Let’s see about getting our tanks on the road before tea time shall we?”


Player Five deploys his on-table elements by marking their hidden locations on his map. Players Four and Six follow Player Fives orders and deploy where he commands them to. Players Four and Six must also mark the locations of their hidden elements on their maps.
Note, players Four, Five and Six may ‘store’ elements off the western edge of the table as reserves but once these have entered the table top they may not leave again without being counted as downed.

Player Two then decides the marching order of the British column prior to beginning the game, and then once the position of the British elements has been established, the following paragraphs are read out loud.* Note the Mark VIc must be placed at the head of the column.

* Added after the game

Having split into two groups, Sir John’s armoured column moves up the Kunduz Valley at speed. Around two pm on the second day. Smoke is sighted on the horizon and not longer after this; the British pass the first groups of wounded Afghan troops sitting at the side of the road.
“Not long now” Sir John shouts from the forward passenger seat of his staff car as the column moves through a shallow valley. He turns to talk to Cartwright who is sitting behind him when suddenly there is a loud explosion from the head of the column.
“What the devil?” Sir John exclaims as the British force grinds to a halt. He steps from his car to see a dust cloud rising in the air from the head of the column. Denton in the turret of his Mark VIc, turns to shout back, but his voice is obscured by the noise of the tank engines.
“What?” Sir John strides up along the road, as the dust settles he can see none of his vehicles have been hit, but a small bridge has been blown up. Suddenly he realises what Denton is shouting, the column has been bottled! To the left is a rocky slope, almost impassable for tanks. To the right a gully runs parallel with the road. He glances about; looking for an enemy, and there is movement in the rocks to the left. He turns and is about to order his men to take positions against ambush when several artillery rounds land on the column and the signals truck is instantly destroyed. As gun fire begins to erupt around him, the tanks begin to turn to engage the hidden enemy.


Player One; Rasmus
George Macarthur & ’Mad Dog’ Mitchell
One Morris C4 15-CWT Light Truck
5 Squadron; 17/21st Lancers & Royal Afghan Army
One Vickers Mk VIc light tank.
Two Rolls-Royce Fordson Armoured cars (RAA).

Player Two; Palle
Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Napier

Mister James Cartwright (Civilian Advisor)

One Staff Car

One Signals vehicle (RCS)

1 Squadron; 17/21st Lancers;

Two Vickers Mk II medium tanks.

One Vickers Mk VI light tank.

A Company; 17/21st Lancers;

1st Platoon (Mechanised).

1st Section. (7 Rifles & 1 LMG)

2nd Section. (7 Rifles & 1 LMG)

3rd Section (7 Rifles & 1 LMG)
Three Crossley Light Trucks

C Company; Royal Army Service Corps

One Support Vehicle;
Crossley Light Truck (Ammunition)
One Support Vehicles;
Crossley Light Truck (Provisions)
D Company; 8th Royal Dragoon Guards;

Engineering Section;

One Heavy Recovery Vehicle

Player Three; Jan
Lt. Leftbridge-Smythe

2 Squadron; 17/21st Lancers;

Two Vickers Mk II medium tanks.

One Vickers Mk VI light tank.

B Company; 3rd Lahore Division;

1st Platoon.

1st Section. (10 Rifles)

2nd Section. (10 Rifles)

3rd Section. (10 Rifles)

4th Section (1 HMG & 2 Mules)


Player Four; Goeg
Comrade Sgt Nagovitsin
1st Company; 122nd Guards Rifle Red Banner Order of Termez Regiment;
1st Squad;
Fire Team A (5 rifles & 1 LMG)
Fire Team B (5 rifles & 1 LMG)
Fire Team C (1 HMG)

Player Five; Oleg
Comrade Major Kapustin
Comrade Captain Yankov; Radio Signals Officer
Comrade Sgt Timorov; Sniper
6th Company; ONB-7 Independent Special-Purpose Rifle Corps;
1st Platoon.
1st Section. (10 Rifles & 1 LMG)
2nd Section. (10 Rifles & 1 LMG)
3rd Section (1 HMG)
1st Battery; ONB-7 Independent Artillery Battalion;
Two 76.2mm M1902 guns
2nd Battery; ONB-7 Independent Artillery Battalion;
Two 76.2mm M1902 guns (Off Table)
3rd Battery; ONB-7 Independent Artillery Battalion;
Two 76.2mm M1902 guns (Off Table)

Player Six; Tracey
Olga (Uighur Bandit Queen & unscrupulous arms dealer)
Bandits & Anarchists
Nikolai Dargomyzhsky; Anarchist Hero
Silent Wu; Explosives expert
Ten Uighur Bandits (Rifles)
Four Anarchists (Rifles)




Victory conditions

Either side wins automatically by defeating two thirds of the enemy’s on-table elements, or by downing all three of the opposing forces commanders. If time runs out before either of these happens, then the points system decides the winners of the game.



Vickers Mk II Medium Tank
Vickers Mk VI Light Tank
Vickers Mark VIc Light Tank
Rolls Royce Fordson Armoured Car
Crossley Light Truck
Vauxhall staff car
Heavy Recovery Vehicle



Uncle Peter said...

Sounds like its going to be a good one, wish I was in on it :-(

moif said...

You could have Rasmus's elements, since he bailed out today.

Uncle Peter said...

You'll have to figure out how to run it over the net :-)

Øv øv

moif said...

Net cams and grid numbers?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

You do set the scene well for your Rocketman scenario's! Looking forward to the after action report...

PS. Pall Mall's?? Dunhill Internationals, surely??! :o))

moif said...

Never heard of 'em. I chose Pall Malls only because they sound like something from a pulp novel.