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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Frontier Clash, Tash Gozar 1920

The Back of Beyond, The Men who Would be Kings, 28mm

We revisited the Back of Beyond this week This was a border clash, fought just south of Termez, near the Russian-Afghan border, just south of Termez in Uzbekistan. the Bolsheviks were planning an invasion by their “Army of God”, led by Indian communists. To test the waters, this probe by a well-armed Bolo force crossed the Oxus (or Amu Darya) River, and advanced towards the large Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.In our clash, Sean 2 (using his beloved Mark IV tank) led the Bolos, while Sean 1 commanded the Afghans, which Sean taking the local Uzbek tribesmen, while I had the troops of the Afghan army. We played the game out on a 6×4 foot table, divided by a dried-up nullah (or river bed).The Bolos’ objective was to capture the village of Tash Gozar, on the far side of the nullah, and destroy the Muslim shrine there, which served as a rallying point for the local Tajik and Uzbek tribesmen. The main aim of the game though, was to test out or changes to the rules, to let us use the likes of tanks, armoured cars, aircraft and other key Back of Beyond” hardware! The Bolos advanced quickly, and on their right flank two units of Red Sailors reached the wooded hill, just north of the nullah. They were supported by Sean’s beloved tank and an armoured car, which set about shooting up any local tribesmen they could see. Sean did his best to shoot back, but as his mountain gun kept on failing to activate, he didn’t have much to fight back with.Over on my (eastern) side of the table I was having my own problems – apart from my own field gun all of my Afghan regulars kept failing to activate. Meanwhile the Bolos were advancing towards the nullah. Finally, Sean 1 managed to move up his tribal cavalry, which crossed the nullah and hid behind a large rock outcrop, waiting for a chance to do some mischief. Meanwhile Sean 1’s machine guns were busily shooting up the Uzbeks. the Bolsheviks actually stopped their advance, as they were doing so well spraying every path of rock with bullets. then, to add insult to injury, the Red air Force arrived – a captured Spad. It lumbered across the board, then inexplicably began flying in circles. The reason was, Sean 1 failed his attack activation. the default was move – hence the flying about. When it finally  draw closer to the village of Tash Gozar , Sean 1 had a surprise for it. Hiding inside the shrine was an anti-aircraft gun – a converted ex-British Gardner machine gun, converted in a Mazar-i-Sharif workshop to fire at aircraft. to everyone’s surprise it actually managed to hit the fighter-bomber as it swooped in to bomb my gun, but it wasn’t enough to shoot it down or drive it off. Another hit though… On the far side of the nullah both Afghan cavalry units  – one regunar and the other tribal – were now ready for the counter-attack. The  Uzbek horsemen and the red cavalry fought a furious melee, and although both sides were forced to retire to regroup, the Bolos were then finished off by the Afghan regular cavalry.Not to be outdone, the Uzbeks, after rallying, overran a machine gun team – a Bolo tschanka that dismounted at just the wrong moment This done, the mass of cavalry – well – about 15 of them, headed for the wooded hill where the Black Fleet sailors were. This could have ended badly, except the Afghan field gun, and regular infantry  cut down the crew with their fire at the key moment. This though, was still dangerous, as the tank and machine gun were just beyond the hill, and came round to prop up the Bolo flank Even the plan closed in for another strafing run. My regulars took losses and had to pull back, but the tribal boys bravely charged the sailors. Both sides took losses and pulled back, but this was enough for the Bolos, who’s suffered quite a few losses by this stage. After winning a fight with the Uzkbek tribesmen in the nullah, we worked out they’d suffered just enough casualties to force a withdrawal. So, the Bolos finally called off the probe, and withdrew back towards the Oxus River, covered by their armour and circling plane. It was a fun little game though – as the Back of Beyond always is – everybody enjoyed themselves immensely. Best of all the rule amendments for the period – still a work in progress – re shaping up quite nicely. So, I imagine the Bolos will be back again! 


2 Responses “Frontier Clash, Tash Gozar 1920”

  1. Sean Page
    7th August 2023 at 10:56 am

    These games are just so much fun. My beloved tank performed as it usually does…………lumbering along and not hitting anything……but at least it didn’t get blown up or stuck in the wadi. You would have thought that having all that technology on my side would have helped, but blitzkrieg it was not! I just about hung on for grim death.

    • 7th August 2023 at 1:58 pm

      Your tank was pretty much invincible!

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