Nowadays the fighting at Villers-Bretonneux is becoming as famous as the Gallipoli campaign for Australians. This small town in France saw heavy fighting during the opening weeks of the German's Spring Offensive in 1918 as part of the Kaiserschlacht. The village was held by Allied forces and the Australian 9th Brigade held the Germans off during the first battle. The second battle saw the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades AIF (Australian Imperial Force) taking the village back on the evening of the 24th and into the 25th of April in 1918. It was also the first time in History that just to the south of Villers-Bretonneux near the small village of Cachy that the first Tank vs tank battle ever took place.
I kind of liked the idea of refighting the action by the 13th and 15th brigades 1st AIF - and by condensing the time frame being also able to fit in the tank fight. So our game represented the German tank attack with the British tanks fighting to stop them as the Australian brigades began their fast attack to secure the town from the Germans.
|The view from the south east- the German tanks - one A7V and a captured MkIV.|
The German tanks were destroyed and the rest of the game actually followed the historical events with the AIF taking some heavy casualties initially - especially the 15th Brigade, but the Germans suffered more and could no longer sustain the defence of the area to the east of the town, although a battalion was still on the edge of VB as the rest of the Germans withdrew- An allied victory!
|The view from the west- the British tanks are going in just north of Cachy - and the Australian 13th Brigade not far behind.|
AIF to the left and top.
|British tanks advance! The rail line that ran to the south of Villers-Bretonneux to the left.|
|The German A7V with infantry support.|
|The 15th Brigade attacked from the north of Villers-Bretonneux to link up with the 13th to the east of the town.|
|The lead German elements entering Villers-Bretonneux.|
|View from the north- Outskirts of Villers Bretonneux to the right.|
|Germans entering Villers-Bretonneux|
|Australian Vickers firing into the advancing Germans as they enter Villers-Bretonneux|
|15th Brigade (59th Battalion) enter the town- it would be tough to try and push the Germans out once they were consolidated.|
|A lone German stormtrooper- the last of his unit firing an MG 08 at the 57th Battalion.|
|The 13th Brigade advance - here the 49th and 50th Battalions. Battalion HQ with a prisoner in the foreground.|
The area to the south east of VB was dominated by the railroad and three key woods that were key to controlling the open and rolling countryside. Lancer Wood, Hangard Wood and Monument Wood all provided valuable cover for both sides. They had been heavily shelled during the First Battle of Villers-Bretonneux but still provided cover for each side. For game purposes I used painted bases with shattered tree trunks to represent these areas.