Wednesday 10 January 2018

Operation Sea Lion: D-1, Brandenburger Coastal Raid

20th September, 1940, a combined Franco-Italian fleet stage a diversionary action at the western end of the English Channel, with the aim of drawing the Royal Navy away from protecting the vulnerable south-east coast of England. The way is clear for invasion the following day, and the unstoppable forces of the Wehrmacht stand ready to trample another nation under its already well-travelled boots.

That evening, ahead of the invasion force, covert teams of Brandenburgers, Fallschirmjager and elite Heer units set out to strike at vital targets along the coast, aiming to disrupt any defence that the depleted and demoralised British Army can muster. Little do they know that it is not only the British Army that stand in their way...

And so the stage is set for the first battle on what I hope will be an ongoing campaign charting the invasion that never was, using the Bolt Action Operation Sea Lion campaign book from Warlord games, the aim of which will be to play though the scenarios of the campaign without being too competitive about it as most of us have forces that will be appearing on both sides in the upcoming battles.

For this first action we played two 500 point patrol games in which the Germans were seeking to destroy a fixed target of strategic importance to the invasion.

I played Matt and both of us wheeled out our underused VBCW forces for the occasion. I would take the role of the stalwart ad hoc defenders of Blighty, whilst Matt would be those sneaky cads, the Brandenburger commandos.

British Coastal Defence Volunteers
Senior Home Guard Commander & 1 man
Home Guard Section (10 men)
Home Guard Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Civilian Vehicle with MMG

Brandenburger Infiltration Commandos
Leutnant & 1 man
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (6 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Sabotage Team (2 men)
Abwehr Agent (1 man)

Although I had the advantage of numbers, and my inexperienced Home Guard units were backed up by veteran Navy Seamen (yes, we did make ‘that’ joke, repeatedly), I was facing an entirely veteran force, bristling with SMGs who were also disguised, preventing me from shooting them until either they came within 6” or they shot at me first.

However, the onus was on the Germans to move quickly as they had a limited amount of time available to use the hohlladungwaffen hidden amongst their units to destroy the British communications hub (the phone box).

The scene is set, rumours of activity along the coast have meant that local forces have been called out.

The Wortley-on-Sea Home Guard advance to take up static defensive positions along the road.

Meanwhile, a Navy shore party patrols the surrounding area.

Whilst Major Rumplington wonders whether they should have parked the Home Guard’s transport somewhere else.

The Brandenburgers advance towards their target, wearing their ‘authentic’ British disguises.

Alerted to the movement, the Shore Party advance to challenge any would be invaders, and immediately come under sustained fire from several directions.

The Home Guard fire haphazardly into the trees where the firing is coming from.

The bloodied remnants of the Sailors charge towards their attackers, but come off worst in the encounter.

Outnumbered, the Home Guard also come under fire, but valiantly stand their ground.

Reinforcements arrive in the form of the boys of Greybridge School Cadet Corps and a second Royal Navy Section.

Shortly joined by a converted van sporting a machine gun for mobile firepower.

After his aide is shot, Major Rumplington finds himself facing down the German commander. He immediately makes use of his Great War experience and runs back to the safety of HQ to file a report.

Despite the reinforcements, the shady and unsporting Abwehr Agent finally reveals himself and attempts to destroy the phone box. Fortunately, his hohlladungwaffen fails to do it’s job.

The Home Guard take heavy casualties, but continue to hold their ground and delay the enemy.

The Greybridge boys and the armed van pour fire towards the enemy commander to no avail.

The lads from the Royal Navy surge forwards and wipe out a Spahtrupp. They don’t like it up ‘em.

However, the Brandenburger Sabotage Team make it to their target. All they need is time to set their charge. The Navy boys assault again but in a colossal failure they are wiped out to a man by the two saboteurs.

The Home Guard finally succumb to their vicious foes.

In a last ditch effort the Greybridge boys heroically charge the saboteurs before the fuses are lit and despite losing almost half their number, manage to dispatch the callous bounders, saving the day. For good measure, the sailor manning the machine gun finishes of the dastardly, and seemingly indestructible, German commander.

In the end it was (a somewhat pyrrhic) victory for the British. Getting to activate two units (the hapless sailors and the heroic schoolboys) before the saboteurs, allowed me to intercept Matt’s last chance to destroy the target as despite still having two Spahtrupp still active he was out of hohlladungwaffen and could not score enough points by killing units to win. In the end the score was 9-4 to me, but the game was much closer than that score looks.

In the other game, Pete’s Heer veterans were mown down in short order by Wes’s rookie Americans (who aren’t officially in Britain, shhh!) as they tried to take out a bunker.

With both games won by the allies, the campaign is off to a good start for them.

The next game should be somewhat larger and feature a full on beach assault. However, I don’t know when that will be as we need to work out what we’re going to do for landing barges...or a beach...or the sea!


  1. Brilliant Kieron! Seeing this really makes me want to grab that Sea Lion book.

  2. Great report. Finished off by a British Technical Jeep what what!