At the Colorado Springs Gaming Association Game Day on December 29, we re-played the action at Messifre, Syria, where the 4th Squadron of the 1st Foreign Legion cavalry (IV/1REC) and the 5th Battalion of the 4th Foreign Legion Infantry (V/4REI) covered themselves with glory.
This action gave me the opportunity for my new Foreign Legion Cavalry to see action along with the khaki-clad Legionnaires of the infantry. My Berbers and Tuaregs stood in for the Druze. The 1REC was honored for their actions at Messifre and later at Rachya along with the Spahis. The history of the action is relatively succinct:
On September 17th, at 1am, the attack hit them. Waves of warriors on foot, followed by horsemen, hurled themselves at the entrenched positions held by the Legionnaires. The Druze managed to reach the foot of the walls, despite a murderous fire from automatic weapons and 37mm guns. In continual danger of being overrun, the Legionnaires fought all night at point blank range and often hand to hand. The cavalry’s horse lines were broken into and all the guards killed. It was only on the second night, after a bombardment by three French aircraft, that the rebels finally withdrew.
Left, the village of Messifre with the ruined fort in the upper side of the photo. The “whitewashed effect of the buildings is the result of a lack of time to paint them sand colors like the veteran buildings on the left.
A few townspeople can be seen spread around the town.
The French commander has not yet set up his troops.
The ruleset we used was Colonial Adventures from Two Hour Wargames. If the French could hold out for two hours, the aircraft would relieve them.
At right, the V/4REC infantry have occupied the ruined fortress. They consist of one 10-man unit, one Hotchkiss gun and crew (another unit) and individual grenadiers, rifle grenadiers, and Lewis gunners. The figures are all from the Askari Miniatures FR-10 series of khaki-uniformed Foreign Legion troops.
The 1REC occupied a square of buildings on the other side of the village. Their horses are stabled just below them in the photo.
The horses are managed by two horse-holders. Three villagers can be seen mucking out the corral.
The Druze attacked from both sides of the village. Seem left are one unit of Druze in the building nearest the fort while an additional unit crosses behind then to occupy the next block of buildings.
There were 8 ten-man units of Druze, four attacking from each side.
As the direction of the attack becomes clear, the Foreign Legion Infantry concentrate at the front of the fort to return fire.
(Above, right) The Cavalry take heavy fire and lose half the unit in the first turn. They retreat toward the fort bringing their wounded along with them. In Colonial Adventures, if a European unit can stay away from the enemy 12″ or more when it activates for the next turn, it can recover half its wounded.
The cavalry reach the infantry position without further damage.
The horse-holders are not so lucky. The civilians mucking the stalls turn out to be insurgent Druze and another unit comes up from the other side of the village.
They flee toward the fort, but it is too late. They are cut down and the horses and supply mules are captured.
Meanwhile, another Druze unit gathers at the base of the ruined fort. They are only 10″ away from the cavalry. The Foreign Legion Cavalry are destined never to recover their wounded as they are needed to man the perimeter. (Below, top)
The Druze attack from the nearest buildings and overrun the Hotchkiss, killing the entire crew.
When it is the French turn to activate, the grenadier at the bottom left of the photo will make short work of them.
The Druze make a final attack with the remains of two units while the French infantry prepare to fire, saving the last cartridge just in case….
Just when things look hopeless, the French aircraft appear, dispersing the Druze and ending the action. The result is much like the real action: the French have hung on, just barely.