Last Thursdays games night was in the midst of a bit of a heat-wave in the UK, so it ended up as something of a protracted engagement between Kev’s defending 22nd Armoured Division and my 6. Fallschirmjäeger Regiment. You will have noticed I said ‘defending’ in the case of the allies and that is because I decided it would be good to reverse roles for this scenario, effectively giving the Allied forces the role of trying to hang onto the gains they made earlier in the campaign against a determined German counter-offensive. Although my Grenadiers and Fallschirmjäeger have been aquitting themselves admirably during the opening two rounds, it’s important not to lose sight of the overall campaign. This being a global event, the overall Allied progress across Normandy has been much more steady. So it is against that backdrop that I set the scenario. By this time, the allies have established a strong foothold in Normandy and are pushing steadily further into France having taken Carentan and Caen. I decided for a change that I would send my Fallschirmjäeger Kompanie on the offensive in an effort to not only stall the allied advance, but to disrupt their supply lines.
The scene was set at a key road junction linking Periers to the farms outside Saint-Lô. A heavy weapon equipped section of US airborne are holding a farmhouse near the crossroads and have dug in with mortars and LMGs. To the west a US rifle company are sweeping the woods to make sure there are no ambushes awaiting the convoy of 22nd Armour which are moving south to support the assault on St-Lô. It is then that the Germans counter attack.
Kev set his LMG and Mortar sections near to the farmhouse and parallel to the exit road. The were supported in turn by the first two Sherman squadrons that were making their way east. this was the first objective for the Germans. The second objective was the road leading in which skirted a hill north of the junction. Here Kev had set up his Rifle Platoon and reinforced it with the final armoured squadron of three Shermans. For my own forces I set up 10.5 cm artillery behind the woods to the south along with the Fällschirmjaeger third platoon and Stugs. Pak 40s kept an eye on the junction, whilst the Fallschirmjäeger first and second platoons advanced behind the hill and through the wheat fields.
The first couple of rounds were spent digging in and making use of the cover to advance cautiously. Dug in and with solid cover around them, the US heavy weapon teams were going to be nigh impossible to shift so I focused my efforts on taking the objective to the north cutting off the road leading in. The Pak 40’s had a good line of sight down the road from the junction to the first of the Shermans and made it count with a solid hit on the Firefly. Kev’s ‘A’ Squadron answered the challenge presented by the assault guns in the fields advancing off the road and around the farmhouse. The shots went wide and in return the stationary Stugs managed to destroy one and force the second to bail out. The artillery ranged in on the heavy weapons pinning the LMGs, but for their trouble one of the spotter teams was taken out.
The Fallschirmjaeger advanced in three lines making use of the bocage and walls to stay in good cover, but could do little against the dug-in US rifle platoon on the north road. Recognising the threat from my Pak 40s, Kev repositioned his remaining two Shermans in support of the Rifle Platoon to the west of the woods. This was a smart move as it made my intended assault on the northern objective very difficult. pinning the infantry wasn’t going to be an issue, but assaulting with those tanks present was.
I wheeled my anti-tank Pak 40s around the trees and took up residence in the fields and south road where I could try to keep Kev’s armoured HQ bottled up by the farm. Unfortunately they failed dismally and even the normally sure-sighted spotters failed to range in the 10.5cm guns. Kev’s HQ charged out back towards the junction and even though I managed to destroy one, the second flanked the Stugs reducing one to a burning hull. The Pak 40’s quickly re-aligned and this time took the Sherman on the weaker side, negating the threat. The artillery and assault guns continued to harass south of the farmhouse and finally broke ‘A’ squadron, the sole remaining operational Sherman retreating from the battle via the east road.
With no chance of taking the eastern objective I continued to push on for the northern one and cut off the supplies coming in. Getting into assault position meant taking casualties and both first and second platoon were pinned down as a result of defensive fire from the dug-in rifle platoon and Shermans. Kev realised I didn’t really have the forces to take the farm and began to advance his LMG teams to see if he could clear the south east objective of my artillery. Despite leaving the objectives exposed I stuck to my battle plan and stacked up the Fallschirmjaeger for an assault. I committed what was left of second and third platoons to the entrenched US on the objective and the Kompanie HQ and first platoon against the Shermans. Despite heavy casualties and the complete loss of first platoon, the US were routed from the objective and forced to fall back.
At this stage and the battle having raged on for most of the evening it ended with a draw. Bloodied, but still very much operational the remaining Sherman and what was left of the rifle platoon could have mounted a counter-attack to keep the northern objective contested. Against two Fallschirmjäeger platoons and the still intact Pak 40s it is uncertain how long they could have held on for, but clearly neither side had taken a dominant position by the end. At 3:1 victory points to the Germans the draw was costly for both sides. The Germans managed to stall the US armoured advance towards Saint-Lô, but failed to dislodge either the dug in airborne defenders at the farms or fully control the north west road. Nevertheless, the delay may prove to be costly for the Allies in the next game as this nicely sets up an ambush style scenario against the Tigers I have been holding back until now.
Overall a good game, albeit a bit overly long. The larger table helped keep it interesting and stopped it from becoming a simple meat-grinder. A couple of things I learned this round and that was tanks in close support of dug-in infantry are very effective. Also assaults are pretty bloody for both sides, pretty much as it should be really.
With the third game wrapped up, I am already planning this weeks scenario and I am thinking something different as well as hopefully a bit faster paced. It all rather depends on two things; getting some bocage made and painting a Lehr Panzer Grenadier Platoon. If I can get both done, should have something new to play with.
Until next time, have a great week.