Bringing It at Pola
The Adriatic was blue, but the sky was murky with a Force 3 wind from the east. Squalls were blowing in from the east, one after another, but the visibility otherwise was 18,000 yards.
The KuK Marine had found an Allied minefield laid just south of Pola that they found to be inconvenient to their operations and they were trying to clear it. The Royal Navy decided to stop them from clearing the minefield and ventured much farther north into the Adriatic then was the norm. This precipitated a veritable storm.
The RN force sent under Rear Admiral Randy (he was hot for the assignment) consisted of a short squadron of pre-dreadnoughts, HMS Nelson (flag) and HMS Agamemnon, a short cruiser squadron, HMS Falmouth and HMS Topaze and two divisions of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla under HMS Swift (our fastest ship).
Rear Randy and Captain of Destroyers Clark (his 2ic) just knew that the God of War (Robert the GM) had Austrians lying in wait for them (had to be to make a game of it) so they devised a fiendishly clever plan to deal with the as yet unseen and inconvenient Austrians.
The Brits entering from the south would split into two components. The Pre-dreadnoughts followed by the cruisers and Swift would form the fire support base while one division of Acorn (I) class destroyers, HMS Lizard, Druid, Ferret and Defender would steam directly north to make the Austrians commit. The second division of I class destroyers, HMS Sandfly, Tigress, Hornet and Hydra would parallel the column of heavies on its un engaged side, ready to be committed as Admiral Randy saw fit. Our final goal was to exit to the north and stop the mine clearing.
So there we were steaming along; I was heading due north and Admiral Randy had turned east as per the plan when out of the Adriatic mirk, up jumped the Austrian bogymen, Vice Admiral Condon and that pesky Rear Admiral Preston.
It turned out that the Austrians had something similar in mind as Condon led their heavies, the pre-dreadnoughts KuK Radetzky (flag) and Franz Ferdinand, the armored cruiser KuK Erzherzog Kaiser Karl VI, light (scout) cruisers KuK Novara, Saida, Helgoland and Admiral Spaun as well 8 destroyers; KuK Balaton, Csepel, Tatra, Lika, Orjen, Triglav, Dukla and Uzsok.
Upon sighting us the Austrian heavies (Pre-dreadnoughts & Armored Cruiser) as well as the light cruisers Novara and Saida turned up towards our heavies while everything else (2 light cruisers and 8 destroyers) went after my four little Acorns. Preston might be blind, but we all know that even the blind can find an acorn now and then.
My job was to make the Austrians commit and try to exit off to the north. I certainly felt that I had succeeded in the first part when I saw all that pesky Preston was bringing down on me. I knew that I did not rate to farewell in a gunnery fight with him (my best was going to be 4 D12 dice with 4 inch guns) and his numbers (12 D12 dice with 3.9” guns) and particularly as his cruisers leading his column would halve my chance to hit due to their armor. Never the less I bravely (read stupidly) pressed on towards my exit point.
Meanwhile Condon and Randy exchanged long range gun fire (all part of the plan) indecisively in the center for a couple of turns as Condon worked to close the range.
In Preston’s and my first exchange of fire, funnel smoke played hell and we each managed only one hit; a hull apiece on KuK Admiral Spaun and HMS Druid. Preston then turned his cruisers south while his lead destroyer division turned NWW in an attempt to head my line. I turned slightly to NNW to avoid that and we got down to it. Preston gave me five hits among my leading three destroyers while I hit KuK Balaton in the hull in return. Bulkhead and engine hits slowed my column to 16 knots until I repaired them.
I launched all the torpedoes (all 5 of them) that I had left on my leading three destroyers with three of them going against Preston’s leading destroyers and two against his cruisers. The torpedoes aimed at the cruisers ended up in arc but we discovered their first range band was short by about one pesky inch (I did say that Preston was a pesky kind of guy?). Of the three torpedoes fired at Preston’s destroyers (who had turned together to reverse course) two missed, but one hit KuK Lika causing four hull and an engine hit, slowing her to 6 knots.
After that it got ugly with Preston hitting me five times to none in return (I hit a cruiser but failed against its armor). That caused more bulkhead hits (which I repaired) and knocked out all of HMS Ferret’s guns (more on that later).
Meanwhile, back with the heavies, the range had closed (enough to let my cruisers and Swift in on the action) and they were pounding on one another. The Pre-Dreadnoughts were not causing much damage to one another but the armored cruiser KuK Erzherzog Karl VI was reduced to 4 knots. The light cruisers KuK Novara and Saida in their exchange with HMS Falmouth, Topaze and Swift (with some help from the Brit Pre-Dreadnoughts) were reduced to 16 knots by a combination of hull and engine hits. KuK Novara and Saida also lost two and three guns respectively during this exchange. In return HMS Falmouth lost her stern 6 inch while HMS Swift took a hull hit.
Randy tried to use a squall to infiltrate the other destroyer division past the Austrian heavies but it ran into KuK Erzherzog Karl VI who sank HMS Sandfly and knocked out HMS Tigress’s guns.
HMS Ferret (yes, we are back to Ferret) having lost all her guns was compelled to check morale. I rolled a D12 per the rules looking for a 1-5. I got a 12 instead. Ferret having failed compelled the division leader to check morale to see if he would continue despite having lost a ship from his division. I again rolled a D12 looking for a 1-5. I got a 12. This caused the division to retire while it was in on move of exiting and won the action for the Austrians as we had also run out of game time and we all needed to retire to our lives.
It was a good game and we all had fun shooting, torpedoing and almost running into one another.