The next step on my project to wargame Operation Epsom involves creating a map. You can view previous (and future) posts about this project by going to the Operation Epsom tag.
During my research I found some 1944 road maps that were quite detailed and which have also been used in books on the subject. However, there’s almost too much detail to get your head around in these and they lack useful info such as where were the front lines and forces.
But recently I came across an amazing website called Project ’44 created by the Canadian Research and Mapping Association. Their aim is to recreate specifically the location of Canadian forces during the Normandy campaign, but they have also added other Allied and Axis units as well. The maps they have created include filters for units, front lines and different types of maps – including modern satellite images and original reconnaissance photos. I think this is going to be a real godsend for me when I start putting a map together. I am really looking forward to getting on with the next stage of that process now.
For anyone interested in the history of the Normandy campaign I would really recommend a visit to Project ’44.
In this second post on Wargaming Operation Epsom, I decided to explore the basics of what forces would be required to wargame the battle on a single wargames table. As discussed previously this is a battle that could fit onto a 6 foot wide table at a scale of 100m = 1”, the same scale as Fistful of Tows and some other WW2 rules. The frontage of the attack was 4.5 miles, just over 7 km.
My initial findings were that the British were attacking with 3 divisions. Now this seemed to be a lot fit into one battle on one table. However, having read further I realised that these three divisions weren’t all involved at the same time. In fact, the initial assault was by two brigades of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, with support from independent Armoured Brigades and elements of the 11th Armoured Division. In effect therefore the battle would start with the British attacking with 6 infantry battalions plus supporting units and tank battalions. That feels much more doable on a six foot table – with each battalion having a foot of table as their frontage. At 6mm or 1/300 scale that would work really well I think. I am planning to use “platoon level” rules, where a stand or infantry represents a platoon. So that means an infantry company would be 3 stands, and a British infantry battalion would be 12 infantry stands plus other bits and bobs.
So slightly relieved by that time to press on and do some more research and start planning out what to do next for Wargaming Operation Epsom. I think that will involve looking at the layout of the terrain – how much of the battlefield will be included on the table and what features will be included – for instance would all the villages and roads be needed at this scale?
I am currently reading Max Hasting’s Overlord book. It’s very well written and has also sparked some ideas for WW2 wargaming – particular micro armour/6mm style games. One of the big set-piece operations of the Normandy campaign was Operation Epsom. It was one of the many attempts to take Caen by outflanking it. The attack failed ultimately, although some ground was gained.
The information that Max Hastings provided about it included the fact that the attack frontage for the three British divisions involved was 4.5 miles. That equates to 7.24 km or 7,240 metres. Now there are WW2 wargames rules where the ground scale is 100m = 1″ on the tabletop (such as Fistful of Tows). That means you could fit the attack onto a standard 6′ wargames table. 7240 metres equals 72.42″ at this scale.
Now most wargames even with 1/300/6mm tanks assume that you’re playing with say a regiment or a brigade – not 3 divisions! I am intrigued to see how a wargame of this size might work on a standard 6′ table. I am going to explore possibilities further and will blog again soon about wargaming Operation Epsom.