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Thread: AAR: Novembers Solo Mission - The Captains Dilemma

  1. #1
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    Default AAR: Novembers Solo Mission - The Captains Dilemma

    November Solo Mission 11: A Captains Dilemma!

    Captain Benjamin Turner was acting on information brought to the fleet by Captain Jack Union. Jack had located 3 ships at anchor in the port of Boa Vista on the Azores.

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    Sir Henry wanted them destroyed before they could link up with the main French Squadron at Praia de Vitoria on Terceira.
    Whilst Sir Henry and the main part of the squadron headed for Terceira, He had dispatched Turner and Belfrey in Bengal, supported by Hunt in HMS Flodden and a very young Lt Commander by the name of Jebediah Kyte commanding HMS Vulcan, a bomb vessel.
    Turner’s orders were simple. Keep the 3 French ships bottled up in Boa Vista, destroy them at anchor or destroy them if they broke out. Turner had found that the Vulcan was shallow draft and could work its way close in and with the aid of Flodden to signal the fall of shot, bombard the anchorage. HMS Flodden would anchor at the mouth of the harbour where it could see the fall of shot from the bombard and warn the Turner if the French made to come out. He would anchor with Bengal and Dover where they could run down and engage any ships that tried to break out of the harbour.

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    The attack was planned to start at first light for the enemy ships would be silhouetted by the rising sun and enable the fall of shot to be corrected.
    “They’ve begun Captain”. Turners 1st Lt informed him as the boom of the mortar echoed off the high ground and bounced back out to sea.
    “So I hear, Mr Cardiggan. I’ll be in my cabin, inform me if the French are coming out.”
    “Yes Sir”.
    Captain Turner was fond of a morning tipple and the Marine sentry barely looked his way as he sprang to attention. Turner’s steward opened the door on hearing the crash of the marine’s boots outside the door as he sprang to attention. “I’ve poured a glass and set the decanter by the stern window Sir.”
    “Thank you Smith. That will be all for now”. Turner sank into the cushions on the window seat wishing that the infernal boom of the mortar on the bomb vessel would stop soon.
    In fact the regular boom, boom, boom carried on for some time. The sun had in fact played against them and the masthead lookout on Flodden was finding it hard to see where the fall of shot was. So the corrections were not as accurate as hoped and shot after shot splashed harmlessly into the harbour. (5 1’s on the trot!)

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    On board the Commerce de Marseilles, the French 118 gun flagship, Captain Willem Defoe signalled the Normandie to make sail and investigate. No sooner was the signal hoisted when a signal could be seen hoisted above the fortress walls across the bay. “Enemy in sight, Sir; The fortress adds ships to the west and north.”
    “Prepare to get under way. Signal Venus to make sail, she will lead us out of the harbour.”
    “Yes sir”. Orders were shouted and French sailors streamed to their positions. Normandie was already standing out to the middle of the anchorage and Venus had already raised her anchor and was slowly gathering way.
    Luck was against Captain Defoe as a mortar round smashed into the deck amidship.

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    Anchor raised, Commerce de Marseiles strained to catch the wind as a second shot from the bomb vessel smashed into her.

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    With Venus slowly edging her way out into the open sea where the wind would hopefully pick up, Commerce de Marseilles ponderously edged her way after her. A third shot splashed down where Defoe’s ship had been moments before.

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    The signal was up. The French are breaking out. Mr Cardiggan had informed the Captain and waited his pleasure. He did not like anyone doing anything without it coming from him. So as Turner strode onto the deck he ordered the anchor raised, Bengal to be signaled and for both ship to sail slowly towards the exit from the anchorage of Boa Vista.

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    The French frigate, commanded by captain Jacques Villeneuve, swung to the south nearly catching Captain Hunt in HMS Flodden by surprise. “Fire as you bare”. He roared. Flodden was anchored across the entrance and Hunt had orders to remain there until signalled by Turner to move.

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    “Two French sail of the line heading past the point, a 74 and a big 1st rate behind”, yelled the masthead lookout on board HMS Dover.
    “A 1st rate Mr Cardiggan, a 1st rate! There was nothing in the report of a 1st rate. I was to understand it was 2 74’s and a frigate. I’ll have Union’s hide for this! Steady as you go Mr Cardiggan.”

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    The French frigate had passed by Flodden as Venus cleared the last shoals and rocks. As HMS Dover opened fire, HMS Bengal and Flodden followed suit. Holed below the water line, and the main mast topsail shredded Venus was devastated by the combined fire from the 3 British ships. To make matters worse half the crew lay dead or dying, along with them the captain and most of the officers. Captain Villeneuve fired his broadside at close range down the length of HMS Flodden. The chain shot did its work with clear, deadly effectiveness. The foremast was severed in two, the front of the ship looked like it had been smashed by a giant hammer and the foscle crew lay dead and dying all about.

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    Captain Turner looked on amazed at the devastation his ships had done. The shout of warning came a little late, “Sir, we had better turn to port, Sir, to port?” Mr Cardiggan braved the wrath of his captain but better that than seeing all 3 British warships collide!
    “What Mr Cardiggan, what did you,.......” Turner looked forward and to his right. Flodden was anchored across his bows and Bengal was closing fast from starboard. “Damnation Mr Cardiggan, must I do everything myself!” Turner shouted, more a statement than a question.

    “Helm, hard to port, hard to port or I’ll have your back!”. The helmsman, joined by the steering master pulled for all they were worth, slowly HMS Dover heeled over to port.

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    Captain George Belfrey watched the French frigate slide past with gun ports closed. He wouldn’t fire on a frigate unless fired upon himself.

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    Captain Hunt had already seen the danger and cut his anchor chain, raising sail as the Flodden drifted south he gauged the time right and ordered the helm hard to starboard as HMS Bengal turned to port. Both ship missing each other by a whisker. HMS Dover had slid past his stern and was now into the wind! As HMS Bengal turned, HMS Flodden was able to fire her fore division guns at the departing French frigate, Normandie. Normandie’s ruse was complete, for as she turned and sailed past the stern of Bengal her port opened one by one and a ripple of fire hurled ball after ball the length of HMS Bengal from stern to bow.

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    Into the wind both HMS Dover and HMS Bengal fired broadsides into the big French 1st rate, Commerce de Marseilles as she slid past into the open sea. The French 1st rate could only reply with her after guns, loaded with chain shot they wreaked havoc with Dovers sails and masts, slowing her down.

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    The French frigate was now fair game as both HMS Bengal and Flodden opened up, HMS Flodden raking her stern as HMS Bengals broadside smashed into her. The French frigate staggered under the weight of iron, then slowly heeled over and sank.
    The two French ships of the line had open sea before them. The British ships were far behind but the chase was on. Captain Turner hoisted the signal for engage the enemy and general chase.

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    HMS Bengal, the faster of the two larger British ships was hampered by the slow moving Dover cutting off her line of attack to the fleeing French. HMS Vulcan had warped off the shore and was now sailing to join the fight. HMS Flodden was closing from the south. Captain Turner felt elated that his plan was going to work and he would stop the French getting away. But no plan survives first contact with the enemy, who have plans of their own. Captain Turner watched as a rippling broadside spewed fire and destruction to port and starboard from the French 1st rate. He saw Vulcan shudder and stop dead in the water and as he turned he saw the full weight of the broadside slam into HMS Flodden. HMS Flodden, badly holed and on fire quickly settled into the watery grave below her.

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    HMS Flodden gave up some broken spars and bits of sail, these joined those of Normandie floating nearby.

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    Captain Turner could see that the French 74 had escaped but the slower 1st rate had turned south west. “We will close on the 1st rate and take her, Mr Cardiggan”. “Yes, Sir.” “Signal Bengal to take the lead, she is the faster ship” “Yes sir”. Mr Cardiggan knew it was hopeless to tell Captain Turner that their own ship was stopping Bengal from doing that very same thing. Captain Willem Defoe could see Venus had escaped, now he would keep his ship from further damage and gain his escape.

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    “Whichever way we turn the Frenchman is one step ahead! Our guns cannot be brought to bare”. Captain Turner spoke aloud though no one dared answer.

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    “Order HMS Bengal to close on the flag and take station astern”.

    “What, take station astern! Is he mad! Ours is the only ship able to catch the Frenchman....Acknowledge the signal”. Captain Belfrey ordered that sails to be taken in to slow down the pursuit and changed course to take up position astern of HMS Dover.

    Butchers Bill:
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    HMS Vulcan: Captain Kyte/RTP/Barely afloat.
    HMS Dover: Captain Turner/RTP/minor damage. Sank 1 ship.
    HMS Flodden: Captain Hunt/WIA/ship sunk. 4 crew points rescued.
    HMS Bengal: Captain Belfrey/RTP/minor damage.

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    Commerce de Marseilles: Captain Defoe/RTP/minor damage. Sank 1 ship.
    Normandie: Captain Villeneuve/KIA/ship sank.
    Venus: Captain Verne/RTP/Major damage.

    SUMMARY
    1. What a FAB mission Rob. Great to play.
    2. Had the French sail out on top sails only as an excuse for the wind, high land etc.
    3. Forgot to move the frigate anchored early so wrote that into the orders, ie not to move until ordered to do so. Then I thought the Captain would move when he saw the danger, well that's when I realised I hadn't more the damn ship!
    4. Not every Captain is omnipotent so played Turner as a captain passed over for promotion and a trifle haughty with command.
    5. Going to be an interesting mission 12 with these ships in the fray. But the British have an ace up their sleeves.

  2. #2
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Glad you enjoyed my first attempt at writing a scenario Neil.
    i hoped it would work for both sides and it obviously did that.
    A rip roaring fight.
    Rob.

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