Doiran - 1917

Background

This battle was part of an allied plan to break through the Bulgarian lines. The British attack was designed to distract Bulgarian attention, and draw their reserves away from the main effort: a French attack on Monastir, and the Cerna loop.

British artillery had undertaken a preliminary bombardment of two days prior to the attack. Troops of the British 22nd Division attacking on the British left forced their way into the Bulgarian front lines, but the attack by 26th Division on the right failed, leaving the 22nd Division forces on the left exposed to flanking fire. They withdrew to their original starting positions the following day.

These positions were to be attacked once more in 1918, but the result was the same. It was only the final withrawal of Bulgarian forces in the weeks leading up to Bulgaria's withdrawal from the war that saw troops take the positions around Lake Doiran.

Designer's notes

This scenario recreates the British attack made on the night of 24 April, 1917 against Bulgarian positions to the west of Lake Doiran. It is relatively unusual for 'gamers in that it is a night attack. The actual attack began around 9.30pm.

The scenario has been chosen as one of the 'Wargamers'Challenge" series. The battle is a tough one for the British player (which is not intended to suggest that it's an easy game for the Bulgarian commander either). If you can achieve the objectives set for the British, then you can sit back in the knowledge that you've done a very good job. This is not easy: expect to be challenged, frustrated and annoyed!!

Thanks to Jeff Lesler for additional information on the battle.

Objectives

Bulgarian forces:

Hold the front.

British forces:

Capture and hold at least 20" of contiguous Bulgarian front line by daylight (i.e. after 16 moves), and take and hold either the 'Petit Couronne', or Hill 0.6. Any other result is a Bulgarian victory.

Deployment

Bulgarian forces are deployed according to the instructions given in their OOBs.

British forces begin the game deployed in the positions marked on the map. Usual reserve rules apply, but flank marches are not permitted.

Terrain

image

Click on the Thumbnail for the full sized map.

The grid squares on the map are 12" squares

Accounts of the battle area comment on the barren nature of the terrain on 'Petit Couronne'. Therefore make sure that NO additional terrain is placed on these contours.

Here is a more detailed map of a small part of the battlefield taken from the Worcester Regiment History for anyone wanting to detail their terrain more extensively. This was not a pretty battlefield to fight over!!!

OOBs

The OOBs for each commander can be downloaded as pdf files using the links below. I recommend that the OOBs are downloaded separately, as there are some variations that would best be kept to each player to provide an element of surprise for the opponent.

British OOB.

Bulgarian OOB.

Special scenario notes

  1. The Bulgarian forces have two searchlight positions available to them. Each searchlight counts as a pillbox (with AI=7) for defence purposes, and illuminates a cone covering an angle of 90 degrees, extending from its position for a distance of 16". In the absence of additional information, count these searchlights as operating on 'fixed lines'. Therefore the illuminated area must be a cone extending directly forward from the searchlight position, and may not be adjusted during the game.

    The location of these searchlight positions must be recorded by the commander of the Bulgarian forces on his/her map before play begins, but the searchlights are only revealed when they are first 'switched on'.

    Historically one of the searchlights was actually located in Doiran itself, and presumably operated via reflected light from cloud cover. However for ease of game play, this should be positioned as if using direct illumination in the same way as the other position.

  2. Spotting at night is limited to one third normal location unless stands are subject to searchlight illumination.

    Use normal daylight spotting rules to locate elements in the illuminated areas.

  3. The scrub of Jumeaux Ravine counts as cover for spotting purposes.
  4. The British commander gets two days preliminary bombardment, but the bombardment is limited to the divisional and corps artillery given in the OOB. No additional artillery is available.
  5. All entrenchments are level 2, with wire.
  6. The Bulgarian trench mortar strengths are speculative. They have been included as G Ward Price makes specific mention of the effect of the Bulgarian trench mortars.

Feedback on this scenario is welcomed. Englsih language sources for the battle are limited, so additional information that might correct historical inaccuracies would also be greatfully received.

References

  1. Price, G Ward; "The story of the Salonica army', Hodder and Stoughton, 1917
  2. Thomas, N; Babac, D; "Armies of the Balkans 1914-18", Osprey Publishing, 2001
  3. Macedonia 1917 (The 11th Battalion Worcestershire);(http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/h_macedonia_1917, last accessed 14 April 2008.)