The Battle of Keren, fought over February and March 1941, was the pivotal fight of the East African campaign. Largely forgotten today, this gruelling battle saw British and Commonwealth troops struggling to oust Italian and Eritrean forces from their mountain positions overlooking the strategic pass.
Left: with the finished game at Wargames Illustrated for a photo shoot/ game.
This project grew out of a conversation on the way back from a show about how we could simulate this kind of mountain warfare on a wargames table without creating a solid terrain piece. Tom WD reckoned that inflatable terrain was a definite gap in the market, although I had my reservations about Northstar wire spears (puncture repair kits would be mandatory). I ended up obsessively researching the campaign and the Battle of Keren, building a 3d contour map of the battlefield and then a wooden-framed mountainside so that we could game the decisive British assault upon Fort Dologorodoc.
It was a bit of a crazy project but I enjoyed every minute. Having created the terrain and honed the scenario, we ended up taking the game to Partizan, Salute, the Warlord Games Open Day and the wonderful Crisis show in Belgium.
These photos of the battlefield were taken by fellow gamer Ted Herbert, showing the colour and ruggedness of the terrain. Ted is the only person I know who has visited Keren so these were invaluable while I was building the scenery!
Indian infantry moving up to attack. Perry Miniatures plastics painted by Scrivs.
A selection of shots taken during the game/ photo shoot at Wargames Illustrated. Editor Dan can be seen having grown a metre or so.
Brits scale the mountainside on the way to Fort Dologorodoc. The stepped terrain to allow movement of figures can be clearly seen in this shot.