Monday, 4 July 2016


GAME 3 – 
(look at The Blog Archive for previous reports from the 1883 Sudan games)

Situation Report – September 1883

In the aftermath of The heroic victory at the Battle of Tokar, orders arrive from Suakin for the victorious army (and friendlies) to retire upon Suakin. A Hero’s welcome is laid on, with local dignitaries and a jubilant Governor Suleiman el Niazi showering the small group of British Officers with gifts and praise. The Officers are billeted in Suakin’s finest Hotel (The Racasan) and receive First Class service wherever they go. Mobbed by journalists, every detail of the Battles of Wandi and Toker are transmitted by telegraph to Cairo and London. Within days, messages of congratulations arrive from The British Commander in Egypt, Lord Wolseley, from The Khedive in Cairo, and after a few days, a message from Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. News arrives from Cairo that The Sultan has approved the minting of a Campaign Medal and at The Sultan’s direct command, each Officer is bestowed with honours (see attached sheet).

  The initial days of heady celebration give way to several weeks of waiting; to see what The Mahdists next move might be, and to await news of Hicks Pasha and the Southern Campaign to capture The Mahdi. Little more is heard of Osman Digna and his Eastern Tribesmen although the lands east of Suakin are clearly in enemy hands. Few patrols dare to penetrate away from the coastline where friendly gunboats provide reassuring support. A steady stream of refugees arriving at Suakin speak of detestable horrors perpetrated by The Jihadists. Aside from the gay parties and daily visitors, our band of Gentlemen busy their days training their men.

Mahdist attack on Suakin
 Then, most shocking news! On the 10th November, a telegram arrives with news of Hick’s Pasha march to capture The Mahdi. Hicks and 10,000 Egyptian Regulars have been defeated near the town of El Obeid in The Province of Kordofan and Hicks is dead! A terrible shock envelopes Suakin. The defences of the city are reviewed, guards are doubly attentive to their duty, and everywhere, a sombre pessimism descends. 

  A month goes by with little of note until a week before Christmas, a steamer arrives at Suakin. On board is General Baker of the Egyptian Army. He carries orders to take command at Suakin!

  A heated argument breaks out at the Officer conference between Baker Pasha and the kindly but aging Garrison Commander, Sir Percy Oswold. Baker is insistent that the only strategy is to bring the Dervishes to battle and that he will capture Osman Digna and re-establish Egyptian control of the main towns east of Suakin. At a recent conference in Cairo, General Gordon (recently arrived in Egypt) argued strongly to reopen the road from Suakin to Berber; an action Baker fully endorses. 

  Determined to bring the Dervishes to battle, Baker seems jealous of the high reputation of the victors of Wandi and Toker, he leaves our Gentlemen off the marching orders, substituting these with garrison duties. By late January Baker is ready, having reinforced with Egyptian Gendarmerie that have arrived from the North. These poor beggars bear no resemblance to the fine Fellas, both Egyptian and Sudanese, that our Gentlemen have trained up. Indeed, Baker seems most unwilling to take too many of these heroic men along, leaving many to Garrison duties under your command. Even the services of Amir Sagh are rejected out of hand.

Egyptian defences at Suakin

20th January 

  On the 20th January, news arrives that a Mahdist force has taken control of Trinkitat to the south. Energised by this news, General Baker commandeers all available local steamers and prepares to sail south to fight the Mahdists at Trinkitat.

22nd January 

The silent and sullen expedition boards the ships and leaves Suakin to the accompaniment of unseasonal, and perhaps portentous heavy rain. 4000 officers and men, accompanied by much of the garrisons artillery, sets sail. Once out of sight, our Gentlemen busy themselves in organising the defences of Suakin; an attack is always a possibility.

British sailing to Trinkitat

23rd January - 3rd February

  A number of conflicting messages arrive from General Baker. He seems determined to engage Mahdist forces in the vicinity of Trinkitat, yet his small army stays firmly positioned in Trinkitat. The General seems transfixed and unable to act. He seems only capable of sending a stream of messages requesting everything from more water flasks to more ammunition. These messages are copied to Cairo who continually request updates. Then on the 3rd February a message arrives from General Baker informing our Gentlemen that a large Mahdist force has been spotted entrenching at El Teb and that The General will move up on the 4th February to engage the enemy.

4th February

  Mid morning a Royal Navy ship arrives … as our Gentlemen stare across the bay at a fine if elderly warship, a runner arrives from the Telegraph Office (message for Drydon-Spunck) (message for Smith-Dorian).

Diary Entries of Captain Simon Heronimus Bladdington for January - February 1883

  The weeks after the withdrawal to Suakin where full of splendour! We all received a hero's welcome after our victorious troops marched in from the battle of Toker with Col. Drydon-Spunk at the head of the troops after a miraculous recovery to his health. Medals are received by all the British offices that took part and a medal was minted for all the troops that fought and boy did my Sudanese lads deserve it!!! Col. Drydon-Spunk was promotion as did I and Lieutenant Hacker who both made Capitan that should make father happy, and show the lads from the old regiment a thing or too.

  General Baker arrived with much banter as to how he would drive the Mahdi out of the region and he set off to retake Trinkitat. He left all the British officers and troops behind that had fought at Toker, and Wandi in favour of fresh troops and newly arrived officers. Constant messages came up the river by gunboat demanding all sorts of supplies that a competent commander should have seen fit to take with him and thus the garrison was stripped of more troops and cannon. The Newly Promoted Captain Hacker decided to take some leave to visit Egypt and the sites.

The insignificant port of Trinkitat was retaken by Baker after much dilly-dallying, and off into the desert marched General Baker in search of the Mahdists to give them jolly good thrashing. A week or so later came a message up river via a British Gunboat Delivered by Captain Horrace Algernon Smith-Dorian to report to Col. Drydon-Spunk to send a relief force to assist General Baker for he had got into a spot of bother and got himself surrounded!!!!!

  Col. Drydon-Spunk called an Officers meeting where Captain Warburton volunteered to lead the relief force with his troops and the Egyptians plus Hackers Egyptians troops supported by Captain Dorians Navel troops and a couple of machine guns, leaving that afternoon. I was Left with the enjoyable job to organise the defence of the town but unlike Toker the locals didn’t take kindly to the idea of demolishing buildings to improve the ports defences so as with Toker my Sudanese troops plus hackers Sundanise troops where spread thin.

  Some good reliable British troops left in Suakin were stationed aboard two boats ready to assist Warburton if needed. A day went past organising the defence of the port, I got the local carpenter to knock up a couple of fake guns to bluff the enemy spies into thinking the ports defence had more guns than we had. In the eve came a message from Warburtain that he had arrived at Trinkitat and found all sorts of horrors in the empty harbour and was unable to advance as he didn’t want to leave the boats unguarded. Col. Drydon-Spunk left me in charge of the port and set sail to the aid of Warburton & Dorian.

  So left as commanding officer I went about improving the defences. Orders Given to: Put extra guards on important supplies water ammo food ect; For civilians entering the town to be checked prior to leaving; For a chain linked ferry to be put in place across the harbour to make transfer of troops from the north to the south quicker.

  After a day or so with no communication from the Trinkitat expedition I decided to try and fool them darn Mahdists into a trap of my own making. I had the fake guns place on the north side of town with 4 section of Sundanese troops to the west I had both cannons stationed and the south the machine gun. I had half the Sudanese troops on the west and south side of the garrison given orders to stay out of sight making both walls look the weaker to any outsiders, and to complete the ruse I sent civilians dresses as soldiers out via boat in the direction as Trinkitat but with orders to sail to a friendly port after sailing close enough to the coast to be observed. Also the gates where closed to civilians traffic the port would be locked down. Then scouts came riding in to report enemy forces on the horizon; numbers unknown.

  Col. Drydon-Spunk, Warburton and Smith-Dorian arrived back to tell of their adventures and how the had rescued the now delirious General Baker and his battered troops from the teeth of the enemy. The ports troops where reorganised including all the force that had returned from Trinkitat in preparation for the Mahdi’s immanent attack.

  Col. Drydon-Spunk held the south of the port with British troops and a maxim machine gun, The Sudanese troops held the west and north of the port with half the west walls troops hidden from site, Dorian’s navel section held the NW tower of the old walled section and Warburton’s troops where held in the center ready to fill the gaps and react to where the main attack should come from.

  When the Mahdists arrived they came from the NW and South in great numbers not countable by eye. Col. Drydon-Spunk’s keen eye directed his maxim machine gun to wipe out some captured guns being set up to bombard his southern side of the port. Meanwhile the navel section and the west wall fired with cannon and machine gun causing light damage. As the the Mahdists came into affective range of the west wall I orders the Sudanese troops to stand up and give ‘em a volley … not sure if it surprised them but the results of gun practice worked oh so well.

  Time went by the firing to the south continued but a new sound came of spear and bayonets to the west and NW as two massive waves of Dervishes were repelled. Warburton sent troops to support the NW and it was a close run thing. Thankfully Captain Hacker’s troops held the line and almost left Their post to chase off the attackers.

  I went to help repel the Mahdists near the Gate House on the west wall and three times we threw them back and thus ended the Battle of Suakin. With light casualties, another great victory for Col. Drydon-Spunk !!!

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