Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bayonne, and Blitzkrieg Commander beckons..

As promised when I got back from holiday, I have some pictures from Bayonne which was the site of the siege and battle at the end of the peninsula campaign in the Napoleonic wars.

The visit was a bit of a wash-out if I'm quite honest, quite literally in fact, as it poured with rain, and the part of the fortifications I wanted to visit was off limits due to still being in the French armies hands!

Bayonne was considerable fortified by Vauban the French fortification expert (see map to the right which shows it clearly), and the city is situated either side of the river Adur

I took the family for this trip as the spuds were both cabin weary following 3 or 4 days of rain and had holiday euro's burning a hole in their pocket, and we had a good look around the town to the west of the Nive which divides the main town in half (so bottom half in the map above) before the rain finally drove us indoors.

The scene of most of the fighting was against the fortification on the other side of the river though (marked as the citadelle on the map), and unfortunately, although you can see it, you can't visit it - very definitely off bounds - and I wasn't sure I wanted to be seen taking pictures so the picture to the left is from the excellent fortified places website (as is the map above)

I did manage to locate the crossing place for the bridge of boats that Wellington used to get his army across the river, however, and I was agreeably surprised at how wide the river was as in my minds eye 500 yards wasn't that far. If you look at the pictures though you can see it's quite a distance, and if you assume the water was deep (the size of the ships currently using it are considerable but I guess there's been some dredging in the interim) then it was quite an engineering operation, and hats off to the Royal Navy...!

The shots are taken looking towards the mouth of the river - the remains of what were considerable woods in Napoleonic times are still fairly clear on the other bank...

Hope that was of interest - tonight DG and I embark on our first Blitzkrieg Commander game - it's almost impossible to say before the first play through of a set of rules how the game will turn out, but my initial thoughts following a week of reading the rules fairly closely is that it has high possibilities..

My first WWII gaming was in 20mm using Airfix and set in North Africa, I returned to the North Africa theatre a few years ago, but the scale was changed to the new N scale/12mm Minifigs range - which are absolutely exquisite, but unlike the first time round where I had some glorious free for all games using Featherstone/Grant rules (attack values and defence values anyone?!) I was looking for something a little more complex, but not too complex... I've rejected

  • Rapid Fire (lovely pictures, but abstracted to the nth degree and not enough detail),
  • Command Decision (comes in a box with a million manuals - need I say more!),
  • Firefly (came closest, but just too complex without a computer player assistant program),
  • Crossfire (tanks and armour are an afterthought),
  • Spearhead (can't remember as this was a long time ago, but I think I just didn't like the speed of play)
..and I even wrote my own before I gave them up as not giving the flavour and level of complexity I wanted! So the expectations are not high - more later on how it played...


  1. Well, hopefully you'll return to the 18th century sometime soon . . . tanks are okay, I guess . . . but I prefer tricorns.

    -- Jeff

  2. It's always good to put history to the test. Makes you marvel even more at their achievements. Let alone the courage to do what they did against fortifications and the like.