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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Ambush on the Tu Duam Road, 1945

The Second World War (French Indochina), Homegrown Rules, 28mm 

I have to confess I haven’t played a game for over a month. Fortunately, others have. So, here’s a spectacular game report from my chum Bill Cainan, an honourary member of the Orkney Wargames Club. These are just too good to miss. Bill wargames the French War in Indochina. He has a spectacular collection, much of which is painted by the gifted Russell Westwood.This game though, was a little different. It was set just after the war, when French Indochina was still occupied by the Japanese. The French and the British also had contingents there, supervising the gradual demobilisation of the Japanese, and the handing back of the country to the French. The only trouble was, the Viet Minh had other plans for the place. First, a bit of background. On the 11 September 1945, the British Major General Gracey arrived in Saigon to deal with the Japanese. His mission was to disarm 40,000 Japanese troops, secure Allied POWs, and maintain order around Saigon. The trouble was, he only had four companies of infantry with him – Indians and Gurkhas from the 20th Indian Division. So, he needed the Japs to help him!In this scenario, set in late September, General Gracey is travelled to inspect a small Japanese arsenal located at Tu Duam, just outside Saigon.His bodyguard consisted of six Gurkhas as his bodyguard, small French and British police detachments, plus two Humber armoured cars and a Dingo scout car from the 16th (Indian) Light Cavalry.Oh, and a platoon of Japanese veterans. A French film crew was also on hand to film what went on. On the way to Tu Duam, the convoy took a wrong turning. Officially, Gracey claimed they just stopped for a breather.However, they halted, and an RMP officer was sent out with a couple of interpreters, to ask directions from the locals. That’s when things got ugly.
The local Viet Minh had been watching the convoy, and were biding their time. They chose that moment to launch a surprise attack. Fortunately for the British/French/Japanese, the convoy wasn’t alone. Above them, flying shotgun, was some air support in the shape of a Spitfire and a Japanese “Oscar”, both in French colours, and flown by French pilots.They were called in, as the troops on the ground braced themselves to fight off the determined Viet Minh assault. Of course, the film crew were there to record the whole thing. Just as the Viet Minh came within Molotov-lobbing range of the trucks,  the aircraft swooped in and strafed the attackers. The Viet Minh suffered heavy casualties, and pulled back to regroup. For the moment the danger had passed.  That wasn’t the end of it though. The French and British police, and the Gurkhas had played their part in holding off the attack. Now though, it was the turn of the Japanese platoon in their trucks. They dismounted, and formed up for a counter-attack. Banzai! The assault was a huge success, and faced with those veteran Japanese the local Viet Minh slunk back into the jungle.So, the convoy was safe, and having figured out where they were, the General ordered them to get moving again, and head for the safety of Tu Duam airfield. No doubt he planned to buy the two pilots a round of cognac in the squadron mess. My thanks go to Bill for this lovely, inspirational game, and his report. Its almost tempted me to revisit French Indochina. However, it would take me a lifetime to build up a collection like Bill’s..









4 Responses “Ambush on the Tu Duam Road, 1945”

  1. John BRUCE
    23rd May 2020 at 10:00 pm

    What a smashing game. Lovely scenery too. This is period I am very interested in but doing it in 1/72 – it’s easier to get vehicles and a bit nostalgic for me.

    May I ask are the rules you use available for others?


    • 23rd May 2020 at 11:39 pm

      The rules aren’t mine, and I don’t believe Bill has any plans to produce them. However, I’ll ask. Angus

        25th May 2020 at 12:53 pm


        The rules are essentially WW2 rules built up by a colleague of mine, and adapted to cover Indochina. They are being CONSTANTLY revised/updated, so will probably never be published. We play with a small group of 4 and they tend to suit us. Essentially any WW2 rules should cover the period as that where the weapons come from !!


    25th May 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Hi John

    The rules we use have been developed by a colleague from his WW2 set. They are CONSTANTLY being revised/updated so it’s unlikely they will ever be published. However, any decent WW2 rules will suffice as the weapons used are from that period !


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