Tuesday 24 July 2018

Wargaming in France : just down the road from Agincourt !

Last weekend, Mike arranged for some of us Essex Warriors to descend on his friends at Tilques for a refight of the Battle of Agincourt.

The family have a beautiful chateau on the edge of the village and they have allowed Mike to develop  a war room above one of the outbuildings - it was to here we were going for the weekend.

Graham, Steve C and I had booked into the adjacent Chateau Tilques Hotel- here's Steve and Mike about to unload the luggage !

then it was a short drive to our destination, Chateau Ecou - the children were ready to greet us on the steps !

a moated paradise surrounded by fields

Our hosts swiftly arranged coffee - here's one of them, Joseph with Mike, Graham and Steve - Joseph was to join us refighting the battle.

Mike promised us a BBQ with the family on this terrace on Saturday evening - great !

I believe Mike has the maid's chamber at the top of the house - alas, the maid has long gone so he was quite alone up there !

What a place though.

Joseph showed us German graffiti from WWII at the entrance to remind us of our presence in an area that had been fought over for centuries.

Now to the barns - very reminiscent of La Haye Sainte !

This building houses Mike's war-game room on the upper level.

There is a lot of renovation work going on and the family have plans to turn some of this into a B&B.

Next to Agincourt (or Azincourt if you wish). The English position was beyond here more or less at the tree line.

Memorials have been placed on the road which bisects the battlefield

You can imagine those bowman waiting for the approach of the French army.

Can you believe it - it was raining, something we are not used to after weeks of unlimited sunshine.

Mike sets the scene

This is where the French attack came from

Then on to the excellent museum in Azincourt village - I love the bow shaped entrance.

a diorama with lots of what looked like 20mm figures

Henry V explained his plan to us  

Pretty daft really because the French commander was listening !

Plenty to see in the museum

A couple of knights looked familiar 

A spur found in recent years on the battlefield 

there were indeed quite a few artefacts 

Proof that the French did actually fire their cannon - this was found there.

Farewell to the museum

Next, we chose a corner of the field to set up a picnic

close to another memorial

It was raining so hard by now, we used the boot of the car for cover !

Thirsty work this, so off to a convenient bar - the local beer was delicious

so we had another one back at the hotel before dinner !

Then Mike called to say he was on the way again

Anyone for Wings of Glory ?

Yep, we pitched up late evening

as Joseph had brought along his WWI planes

never mind Agincourt for now

not quite ready anyway

only half the troops have turned up so far

Do you know, Mike could have a battlefield about 40' long in this place if he really wanted to !

but for now, only a small pice of real estate is needed for us to play Wings of Glory

Steve and I had the Huns, Graham and Joseph the Allies

Great fun planning our moves and wheeling and turning

It was all going so well until both my and Steve's planes blew up !

Never mind, the morning saw us arrive for Agincourt. Mike had set it all up and we diced to see who was who. It transpired that Joseph & Graham were the French. Steve and I contented ourselves by standing behind the staves, two wings of long bowmen with a body of foot knights in the centre where there was a gap in the defences.

The French had some artillery but they were blocked from firing by their own troops.

Joseph and Graham set up with men-at-arms and crossbowmen to the fore with mounted knights behind.

So the intention was for the foot troops to soak up the punishment and whiled the knights so they could get into contact when near enough.

Mike had announced that because the ground was wet and mashed up by the cavalry exercising their mounts over the battleground the night before, movement was restricted to 6" for foot, 9" for horse - no double or treble moves over this ground in this game  !

So forwards they trudge

a French knight accompanied by some peasants have decided to creep down the lane beside the battlefield with their eyes on the English baggage train !

French knights have also been placed out on the flanks in the hope of exploiting any opportunities that may occur.

Here's Henry V looking pretty confident 

He is directly controlling the foot knights in the centre

If weakened enemy get within range, a charge to combat may happen.

Thats worrying - Mike is giving a private briefing to the French commanders out of ear shot further up the barn - whats going on ?

Never mind men, just get those bows ready.

Final rousing speech from the King before battle commences

The French advance steadily - they are now in range of our bows

But they have crossbowmen at the front able to respond in kind

Let fly !

Undaunted, the French press forward

as the Knights hang back

Tense moments

Because of command roll problems, the French left flank has got ahead of the rest

Formidable sight though

Will they get to the line of staves ?

Our arrows continue to ping across the table at a regular rate

so the casualties will pile up

If their foot get close enough. they can brush aside the staves 

We are all pondering the situation as the French get close

Joseph has a secret weapon - his niece is an ace dice thrower and she knows it !

Can the English hold the line behind the staves ?

Now some French cavalry try and dash into combat on the flank

but they are flung back in confusion, so its back to the infantry

Getting close - very close

Those pesky knights are trying again - fire !

Now we have a clash, bows have to be set aside for swords and spears

French knights on their left try the same trick

This is looking very threatening for the English

attack after attack against the line of archers

Phew ! The French cavalry on their left are thrown back again

but there are plenty more behind the foot troops

Steve C decides now is the time to counter attack with our foot knights

what a melee !

This clash is mayhem

But the English prevail

However, on the French right, their cavalry have broken the English bowmen

a big gap now shows on the English left wing - big danger for Henry me thinks

but elsewhere, a French commander has fallen badly wounded

Fight on ! and suddenly the toll of casualties from archery has an effect - French morale has collapsed as more than half of the army is shaken - they break!

Henry has won ! The French went just as it looked as if they could roll up the English flank.

We decided to pull the troops back to their start positions and do it again - this time with Steve and I as the French, Graham and Joseph the English. With this difference - no need to act as actually happened on the day, place the divisions as you wish !

Those madmen actually ignored the line of staves and advanced the English !

We put all our cavalry on the right and infantry in the centre, refusing the left which gave a clear field of fire for the cannons.

It turned into a big melee in the centre with the French cavalry struggling to get forward to contact.
With evening falling, we called a halt.

Back to the Chateau for BBQ !

Hungry gamers !

View across the moat as evening draws nigh

Chef Mike with his willing assistant

 Family and guests assemble

Mine host, Ian kept the drink flowing !

Sunday morning means more battle ... the fight resumes

A swirl of battle lines as both sides jockey for an advantage 

It swung back and forth

clash after clash

But holes appeared as units broke on both sides

TheFrench cavalry were pretty ineffective - as soon as they got near the English archers, they became  disordered and had to retreat with casualties.

Eventually, some of the cavalry joined in the the fight with the English foot in the centre

without much success - the French morale broke again

at least the French guns got to enjoy firing this time !

So time to pack away and head for EuroTunnel and the return on Sunday afternoon.

What a great weekend - many thanks to Mike and Joseph's family. A real privilege for us.