British Operations Against The mad mullah

A wargamer's Guide 


The Battle at Werdigo (based on a real action at Erigo)

Situation: The Mullah’s forces are concentrating at Werdigo and a flying column has been despatched to capture him. Each force is well aware that the other in the area though neither knows exactly where the other is. Their scouts have been skirmishing for a couple of days.

Ground: The battlefield is relatively flat ground with a few very shallow hills and several dried up water courses. The whole terrain is covered in clumps of thorn bushes that vary from slight obstacles to impassable. Both block line of sight. It is difficult ground to fight over as commanders can see very little and the units may easily lose sight of each other. 

Playing the game:
• Set up the playing area
• Both sides deploy using flags to represent forces

Special Rules:
• Command group officers may only give orders to the unit that they are with. Thus the orders given at the beginning cannot be changed until a command group officer arrives at the unit commander.

Winning the game:
• The side in possession of the battlefield is the winner.
• If the Mullah is killed or captured the Dervishes lose.

Emir Dija Brin Zebeir 

On receipt of your orders from Madassa Hattah you have raised the tribes against the hated Feringhees. On the promise of free range for raiding sheep, goats, cattle, camels and women and, of course entrance to Paradise a massive turnout resulted. Thus your wealth and natural abilities have resulted in three whole banners being formed. 

Virtually all the men reported for duty bearing arms. Those that did not you supplied with weapons confiscated from Feringhees and the Faithless reibes living in the area. You gave them all an advance of cash and food which has done wonders for morale! The money for this came from funds levied on the Feringhee loving local tribal Sheikhs themselves!.

Last month you received notification that an army under the command of the Feringhee Major Wattyne-Tarnation was to march on Werdigo to capture Madassa Hattah. Last week the Army war chest arrived and is guarded by a strong force of the Mullah’s riflemen. Pretty efficient (and tough) characters who have set up in a fortified building where theyb have a lot of supplies just outside your own camp. It is a sure sign that Madassah Hattah himself is on his way. 

A Galloper arrived about an hour ago to inform you that the Ferighees are coming! You are far from delighted. You have hardly any ammunition and what you have is in a wide variety of calibres. Not only that - it has all been issued your reserve has been used up in training. Flustered as you were you forgot to ask him where the British were and how many men they had before he immediately rode off to warn the Army.

Madassa Hattah – also known as the “Mad Mullah” 

All summer you have fought successful raids and delaying actions against the British. This changed when a new commander replaced General Duffe-Posting. After suffering several defeats in skirmishes with the British under the newly arrived (from India) Brigadier Gavin Thayme-Laldie you have managed to extricate your tribesmen and break contact completely. Unfortunately, you were a victim of your own success and now have no idea where the British are. You are on the way to Werdigo where you had hoped to rest. Unfortunately you have just received news that the British are closing in on the place. The old fool in charge there, Emir Dija Brin Zebir has sent you no information at all. He hardly asked the galloper anything - if the lad is honest. Allah knows what you will find. 

The Army Chest is waiting there for you and if it is lost then your tribesmen will probably desert. It is guarded by a strong detachment of your guards under the command of a mercenary Shah Ra’ad, a veteran of many raids. All reports suggest that he is competent and honest. He has fought the British before - in the Sudan.

There are at least three strong banners of tribesmen in Werdigo, two are probably poor quality spearmen and one better quality with some cavalry and rifles. It is understood that the local tribes are all Feringhee sympathisers. This is mainly due to the levying of extra taxes by Emir Dija Brin Zebeir.

You have called a halt a few miles from Wedigo so that you can give orders to your Emirs and sort out the order of march. The rear guard with some of your best troops and most of the cavalry are several hours behind.

Your army is short of everything - food, clothing, ammunition, transport and money. You cannot stop too long because the troops will disperse to forage.

Colonel Gavin Thayme-Laldie 

You have inflicted a series of costly defeats on the rebel Madassa Hattah. He has managed to break contact completely and you do not know exactly where he is. However, your Illalo Scouts have captured an enemy galloper with some despatches. These indicated that the wells at Werdigo has recently been reinforced and is held against the crown. The packet included a personal letter to Emir Dija Brin Zebeir from his First Wwife and you much too much of a gentleman to open it! However, it seems to indicate that both he and she are close by. From recent battles you estimate that he will have about 6 units of infantry and some cavalry together with a few camels. You captured several tribesmen last week. None of his units will be at full strength.

You have no idea as to the strength of the reinforcements awaiting him at Werdigo. Local spies tell you that the rebels have several units of spearmen and horsemen around Werdigo. They have been doing a lot of shooting and marching up and down. They have also been paid in extra rations at least twice.

Your own forces are campaign weary but in good heart.

Your plan is to re-establish contact with Madassa Hattah and eliminate his forces. Since the best clue you have is that he is heading for Werdigo you have ordered your forces to concentrate there. Your Illalo Scouts are out on vedette and scouting duty.

A mixed force commanded by Majot Wattyne-Tarnation, including some Indians is on its way as reinforcements. They are also heading for Werdigo.

Major Wattyne Tarnation 

You have received orders to advance upon Werdigo and there concentrate to destroy the army of the rebels. A column under the command of Colonel General Sir Gavin Thayme-Laldie is on its way there too. Reports show that he is doing very well and chasing the rebels to Werdigo.

Near the wells at Werdigo the rebels have a mixed force of foot and horse with only a few rifles there but they are poorly trained and equipped. Some reports indicate that they have fortified some buildings as blockhouses. The local population are mainly British sympathisers.

Your men are the cream of the Somali Levy and the regions' finest young men. Added ton that there are some of the finest Indian troops ever to arrive in Somaliland. They are well trained, well fed and well provided for.

Information about the enemy is scarce. 

The forces deploy none knowing who was who!  This because the players were told not to tell anyone who they were representing and all movement was by use of flags until flags came into sight of each other.
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The centre attack is caught by heavy fire
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The left attack charges home on the King's African Rifles fierce rifle and bayonet work follows but the KAR give ground then hold.
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Meanwhile the Mullah launches another attack - a bit better coordinated this time
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The levy see their enemy retreat and without orders rush to the attack - very successfully as it happens! Spear against spear!
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The Indians are under heavy pressure and reinforcements are sent from the British Centre
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The Mullah's attack closes in.
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The camels swing round threatening the Indian rear but the Bikanir Camel Corps stand their ground
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The crisis of the battle - the Mullah right up near the front line (wearing white robes and riding on the bay horse) with his bodyguard.
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The Dervish cavalry is defeated by massed rifle and Maxim fire and the depleted Bikanir Camel Corps retreats.  The Indian infantry line holds against the dervish assault while the Somali Camel Corps flank the Dervish camels.
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The fighting in the centre
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The Mullah's Guards attack but are thrown back by rifle, Maxim and shrapnel.
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The Mullah flees the field and the day is lost
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Werdigo falls surrendering the Dervish supplies and magazine.
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A most enjoyable game with the flag movement being a significant factor at the start. 

The dervish players after the game said that they should have co-ordinated their attacks rather than sending the troops in piecemeal.  The British players reckoned that they did quite well but could easily have come unstuck if all of the dervish cavalry had flanked them.

Mad Mullah Introduction


First Expedition

Second Expedition

Third Expedition

Fourth Expedition

First World War

Fifth Expedition

Air Operations 

The Mad Mullah's Dervish Army

The British Empire Army 

Inch High Page 

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