Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand landings at Gallipoli. The military objectives of the campaign were to pave the way for an attack on Constantinople and to neutralise the Ottoman Empire. Whilst the invasion ended in a disastrous defeat for the allied forces, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops, and in many ways the Turkish as well, established a legacy of camaraderie and respect that would bond the nations indelibly. Thousands of Australians make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli every year to honour those who served and died. Considering that our national identity seems inextricably linked to this attempt to invade their land, I find the Turkish hospitality miraculous. To quote the words of their president:
"There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side. Here in this country of ours."
The Battle of Lone Pine was originally intended as a diversion, allowing elements of the New Zealand and Australian forces to breakout from the perimeter they had established. Australian forces advanced against a formidable Turkish trench system, sections of which were securely roofed over with pine logs. The primary Turkish trench was rapidly overrun, followed by four days of intense hand-to-hand fighting, resulting in over two thousand Australian casualties. Between five thousand and seven thousand Ottomans were also lost, either killed or wounded.
In remembrance, Wade and I played a special 40K scenario today using the venerable 2nd Edition 40K rules. Wade fielded a robust force of "ANZAC Guard" against which I pitted my "Turk Angels". The objective was to capture the enemy forward trench and the "Lone Pine" in the middle of the battlefield...
Wade's force included four infantry squads, two heavy weapons squads (autocannons and mortars), two Chimeras, a Leman Russ and a Demolisher, led by a Colonel, a Commisar and two veteran squads (special weapons a-go-go).
My force included a Tactical squad (lascannon and plasma gun), a Scout squad (needle sniper rifles), a Deathwing squad (heavy flamer, chainfist and a set of lightning claws), a Dreadnought (twin-linked lascannons), Landraider and Azrael.
So, as the storm clouds rolled in over Sydney (again), Wade and I played out an epic nostalgic game using rules we haven't looked at for seventeen years. Here are some highlights:
|Guessing the range of the Heavy Mortars: "How do I fire these things... ooooooh, I remember. Bwah ha ha!"|
|Wade rushes no-mans-land and the objective: "Nervous wait for the whistle to blow. Rush of blood and over we go."|
|The Leman Russ blows up, flips over and crushes four guardsman: "Hurray for random damage affect tables".|
|A Guard missile launcher crew thread a krak missile through a window and into my dreadnought, destroying the engine. The next turn the Dreadnought blew up due to the damage it had received.|
|Wade predicts the range to my snipers perfectly and unleashes the heavy mortars.|
By the end of the game we had both attempted to capture the objective and had both been repelled emphatically. We decided to let the game run for one more turn and, having survived two turns of blistering fire from the Guard trenches, Azrael overran the Demolisher. He executed a sponson gunner with his Sword of Secrets, as he finally contested the Guard forward trench. We agreed that the game had finished a draw, though the Turk Angels had clawed back a tiny little victory in extra time!
|"Man vs Tank..."|
This was a very enjoyable battle with heaps of light-hearted moments. We both agreed at the end that we need to read through the rules again, it has been waaay too long since we played 40K this way. There is still something special about 2nd Edition; I don't think I would ever re-visit the other editions with the same enthusiasm.
For the men who actually responded to the whistle blowing 100 years ago, leaving the relative safety of their trench to assault the enemy fortifications at Lone Pine, we remember you and honour your courage and sacrifice.
Lest we forget,