Tuesday 28 May 2024

Mahou Beer Lorry

 Mahou Beer Lorry

During the fighting for the Montaña Barracks in Madrid at the start of the Civil War a 155mm artillery piece was bought up by the Republican loyalists towed by a lorry from the Mahou Brewery. So as a bit of fun I repainted this Lledo dicast and printed and added some decals. 

After I posted these photos a guy over on a SCW Facebook page pointed out the Mahou Cerveza Company had a different logo/poster back in the 1930s. He was kind enough to supply an image, so I printed off a set and changed my model to suit.


Monday 20 May 2024

Battle for the Montaña Barracks

Battle for the Montaña Barracks

Madrid, 19-20 July 1936


Built on the site of a famous massacre by Napoleon`s troops in 1808. Construction started in 1860 and was completed in 1863, it was a large brick and granite building built around a large courtyard with quarters for up to 3,000 men.

In 1936 it was the HQ of the “Covadonga” Infantry Regiment No4 commanded by Col. Moisés Serra Bartolomé. The Barracks also held an arsenal which contained a huge quantity of rifle bolts held there under guard and lock and key for national security reasons, large quantities of rifles were stored at various military and police bases without bolts and therefore useless. The Minister of Defence sent his assistant Diaz Varela to the barracks to get the bolts released, Col. Moisés denied his request for various reasons.

On the morning of 19 July General Fanjul (the man selected by the rebels to take charge of the uprising within the capital) arrived dressed in civilian clothes accompanied by his son José Ignacio (a medical Lieutenant) and Commander Castillo. However, instead of setting out with his troops to take the vital points of the capital, he simply proclaimed a state of war and fortified himself with 1,500 of his men (of which about 140 were Cadets on leave in the capital) and about 180 Falangists. He expected reinforcements to arrive from the garrisons of Campamento, Getafe and Cuatro Vientos – loyal government troops crushed the rebels at these places very quickly, so the help never arrived.

That afternoon, the barracks was surrounded by forces loyal to the Government of the Republic: the Assault Guard, Civil Guards and numbers of militiamen. The barrack defenders found themselves facing a substantial force, heavily armed, including artillery, armour and eventually aircraft too!

Regimiento Ligero de Carros de Combate N° 1 based in Madrid took part in this action. RLCC1 had five Ft17, four Schneider Ca1s and two Bilbao armour cars. One of the Schneiders and the two Bilbaos took part in this action.

Aircraft from a nearby airfield flew over the barracks first dropping leaflets asking the defenders to surrender, later the planes dropped bombs to the delight of the Republican crowd.

At dawn on the 20th, the battle for the barracks began, with cannon fire from two 75mm guns commanded by Lieutenant Urbano Orad de la Torre; later a 155mm piece arrives towed by a Mahou beer truck! The battle only lasted a few hours; the defenders themselves seemed to have argued among themselves as some soldiers wanted to surrender and raised the white flag; while others (more committed to the rebellion?) continued shooting at the assailants, this happened a couple of times causing numerous casualties and infuriating the crowd who believed the ruse was a deliberate dirty trick!

Eventually the main gate was opened – here sources vary, some reports say a squad of Civil Guards managed to force their way into the barracks, whilst others say sergeant from the garrison opened the gate from the inside allowing the Republicans access to the courtyard!  The attacking militiamen were so angered by the incidents with the white flags plus tempers were already frayed because of the rebellion in general that once inside they killed most of the rebels, especially the officer-cadets (ninety out of about one hundred and forty) and the Falangists. Between 500 and 900 deaths were counted including Col. Moisés. Lieutenant Moreno, of the Assault Guard, captured General Fanjul, his son and other officers, sending them to prison where after being found guilty for military rebellion on 15 August, they were shot that same month.

The Game

I`ve been doing a bit a research into the Schneider Ca1 in Spanish service and came across this action and thought it could make an interesting game. I decided to make this a straight forward assault game, the Republican forces have 20 turns to clear out the Rebels or force their surrender, if the rebels still hold one or more buildings at that time they can consider themselves the victors.  

Montaña Barracks defenders


2 rifle companies

3 x MMGs

Republican forces

In the historic battle the Republican forces were unable to breach the outer walls, I decided to give each militia platoon one charge of dynamite to attempt such breaches.

To Make things a bit more of a challenge for the Republicans I decided to make each of the three militia companies independent of one another; the Assault guards along with an attached Bilboa A/C form a fourth independent unit. The Republican HQ only directly controls the Ca-1 and 75mm gun, but can attach itself to other units and take direct command. The Republican plane attacks the barracks with bombs and machine guns (one turn each), then returns to base to re-arm/re-fuel after which it can return in 6 turns.  

Republican HQ

Militia companies

Assault Guard platoon

75mm + crew


Bilboa A/C

Air support – Bi plane fighter/bomber (arrives on turn 6)

My Table

You will note my lack of a single large building made me compromise and turn the barracks into a complex of several buildings. Some of which have already suffered shell damage (as has the outer wall).

Looking towards the barracks from the west

Looking from the east 

The main gate 

Market square opposite the main gate

Market square opposite the east gate

Ruined area north of the barracks

The Barracks and courtyard

North gate note the barricade built by the loyalist militia

The Game
Initial Republican dispositions, One militia company would attack independently against each of the North


And East walls. 

The Republican command assumed the main gate on the west side would be heavily guarded (he was right), there was also a fall-back sandbagged wall behind the gate. So he elected not to directly attack the gate, but positioned his `75 to shell this gate on that side of the table and the Ca-1 on the off chance of a breakthrough.

The Assault Guard was placed to support the militia company attacking the east gate

Turn 1 saw the militias move forward, exposing themselves to fire from the various buildings, their demolition teams rushed ahead to set up the explosives to breach the walls. The `75 fired on the main gate, hoping to distract the defenders. 
Turn 2 the demolition teams set their charges (took the whole turn) all the while the militiamen (and girls) received continuous fire from the various buildings and took some casualties, their return fire also caused one or two among the defenders, once again the `75 lands a shell into the main gate, this time causing a casualty

The Assault Guard and its armoured car moves forward to support the militia by the east gate

Turn 3 most of the charges explode successfully causing breaches along the walls

The militia and defenders exchange fire (both side in cover so little actual damage), though the armoured car opens up with its MG and does take one defender! The `75 hits again and actually smashes the front gate, but of course the Repubican commander no troops available to take advantage of this……

Turn 4 the militias charge across the various roads towards the breaches, one platoon attacking the north wall is virtually wiped out! 

The defenders of the stable block who caused so many casualties among those attacking the south wall

At the east gate defenders find themselves at close quarters with militia and a melee starts over the barricade.

Turn 5 the `75 targets the stable block (miss), the Ca-1 is ordered to move forward and also engage this troublesome position.

Over at the east gate the melee is short and bloody and the militia victorious, the armoured car peppers the building behind the gate and silences a defending machine gun.

At the south gate defenders are engaged in melee over their barricade, further along the wall the commander of the second militia platoon falls (they require a morale check next turn) the other platoon on this side is now exchanging fire with defenders in the nearest building and moving through a breach towards their objective.
On the north side the remaining two militia platoons start moving through the breaches exchanging fire with nearby defenders as they go.
Turn 6 the Republican air support arrives over the table

The `75 and Ca-1 both land hits upon the stable block decimating its defenders

Militia close assault no less than three buildings – north-east, east and south-west! Others engage defenders across the courtyard.
The 2nd platoon at the south wall fails its morale and goes to ground (taking no further part in the battle). The platoon in melee at the gate, drives off the remaining defenders and moves into the barrack through this hard won gateway. 

Turn 7 Three buildings are now occupied by violent melees, the militia entering the barrack compound via the north gate are caught in murderous crossfire and virtually wiped out! But the Republican plane attacks one of the buildings from which defenders are pouring fire onto them and successfully bombs it, survivors are forces to evacuate into the courtyard.

Turn 8-10 during these turns the militia and Assault Guards fight to clear the various buildings, whilst others engage the remaining defenders in the courtyard. 

At the end of turn 10 the Republican flies proudly over the largest building – Vive la Republica!!  

I know not quite how it went down in history and I had to fudge both the forces and building, but it did make an interesting and different game.