Monday, February 17, 2014

Chapter 68: Port of Suakin Lost!


Date: May 19, 1903 
Location: Nile Delta and Suakin
Situation: Encampment and Battle
See Previous Chapter 67 here:
Images will be enlarged by clicking on them.

May 19, 1903 -- {Late Afternoon}

General Pettygree: "The archaeological holiday upon which Mrs. Pettygree and I were engaged in the Delta was a deliberate obfuscation. Only I and a few back in Britain knew my true purpose was to briefly take command in Egypt and sort out a small disturbance near the Port of Suakin. Fanfare would convince newspapers world-wide I was in Egypt to stay. However, sometime in the process I would secretly take ship to Bombay and proceed to the Northwest Frontier to recover areas conquered by my old nemesis, The Guru and his swollen Thugee horde. My sudden return to the sub-continent hopefully would shock the foe with little time for them to react."

Pettygree: "However, when Colonel Lawford unexpectedly arrived in camp with his bride the Countess Alexandra Elaina Volkanskaya...."

Pettygree: "He brought troublesome news requiring immediate attention. It also stimulated me to enhance and really try a singularly unconventional idea already barely in motion."

Pettygree: "We immediately returned to camp.

Lawford: "I'm afraid The Soudan is in a muddle General. You already know a few Hadendowah rearmed and demonstrated near Suakin. We do not know how it happened but the port was later captured by them."

Pettygree: "A coup de main?"

Lawford: "Unsure General. After that Brigadier Kettering assembled a force, marched on Suakin and fought a battle on the 12th instant. According to the report...."

Lawford: "Spies thought the Hadendowah were numerically insignificant."

Lawford: "Apparently this was a cunning ruse de l'guerre. Hundreds hid behind the new city wall and elsewhere...."

Lawford: "As Kettering brought infantry and cavalry forward in line of battle two ranks deep."

Lawford: "Reserves and flank forces were significant as the whole marched forward."

Pettygree: "Confident surely."

Lawford: "Indeed. As the battle commenced, a train brought in a Highland Regiment."

Pettygree: "Along the new rail line."

Lawford: "Aye. These detrained on our extreme left flank."

Lawford: "Back on our right flank sprouting from the Earth, the foe first appeared in light numbers...."

Lawford: "Followed by a great many more warriors. Thousands of 'em it says."

Pettygree: "Pray go on."

Lawford: "Hadendowah charged into contact with our men despite horrendous losses."

Lawford: "Even more of the foe appeared racing toward our battle line!"

Lawford: "Our first line broke. Reserves initially shored up the line whilst one of the Sikh battalions wheeled in support."

Lawford: "It goes on to say a body of Hadendowah cameleers broke through to engage one of the Sikh regiments. Confusion, disbelief and alarm must have reigned."

Lawford: Brigadier Kettering urged his men to hold."

Lawford: "Enemy numbers were by this time greatly reduced."

"Lawford: "Though there were other breakthroughs, the foe could not sustain his attack. A high water mark, you might say."

Pettygree: "What of the Scotsmen on our left flank?"

Lawford: "The report only says the regiment advanced in column of three divisions. The foe came on and...."

Lawford: "The regiment held. The foe retired."

Lawford: "That's about all Kettering writes General except to say the enemy retired into Suakin. Our forces were too depleted of men and ammunition to besiege the place. Kettering retired along the rail line and is now recovering in Khartoum."

Pettygree: "Well Lawford, we'll have to see about the muddle as you call it."

May 19, 1903 -- {Late Afternoon Into Night}

Countess Alexandra: "We'll have to see about the muddle he says...."

Mary Pettygree: "Duty calls Alexandra. I daresay ... hope ... your honeymoon is only interrupted."

Alexandra: "Da ... da."

Alexandra: "James? What did you tell the General Pettygree?"

Lawford: "Naturally dear, I told him I am at the King's service ... and my sword is available. No time for white feathers, you know. Once this mishap is over, we'll resume our honeymoon."

Alexandra: "Of course, but I don't have to like it. As you say, we'll press on."

Lawford: "Just as we did at Alexandrapour. The General and Mary will be joining us. Here they are now."

Pettygree: "I've spoken with the Colonel about the plan dear. He's all for it."

Mary: "Even the unusual part?"

Lawford: "It's daring and unusual Alexandra."

Alexandra: "So daring ... it might ... just work."


1) Tune in next time for THE PLAN!

2) The game depicted above was fought September 14, 2013. We traditionally have a huge Colonial game in late summer. This one has been waiting a long time to appear here! We hope it was worth the wait.

Our companionable participants seated left to right are Curt B., Derrick N., Earl K and yours truly Bill P.
Standing left to right are: John B., Chuck L. and Joe G. Joe and I have known each other since about 1972.

Dorothy and I were happy to celebrate birthdays for Chuck and Curt. I did not know it but Derrick's birthday was close to our game day too. He was added post cakeously. We love doing this for our friends!

3) The game room was a former model railroad layout. A little of it has been rebuilt for my grandsons. It is take downable for games but THIS TIME I left it up. The Highlanders actually arrived by electrifying the track. Wireless controllers brought the train onto the battlefield with suitable locomotive chugging, voices and whistling.

4) Lawford and Alexandra refer to Alexandrapour. Some will remember this adventure. The entire story may be reread. See the upper left side of this blog for chapter lists. Why not return to Alexandrapour again or go there for the first time now.

5) The Train:
The troop train started here.

It moved from behind what is known as a scenic divider onto the battlefield. Blurring indicates motion. A scenic divider is a means to change locations by hundreds of miles without modelling same. In this case the divider was a large hill. A small portion is seen on the left of the image.

I thought you might like to see the procession. 
We all stopped to look and listen. Fun.

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