Sunday, June 29, 2008

After Action Report: On our way to Caen and Victory!

After Action Report: On our way to Caen and Victory!

A reinforced British Company from the 3rd Infantry Division is attempting to push south towards Caen on D+2. A Panzergrenadier Company is dug in at an important village that the division needs to take in order to gain space in the bridgehead for rapidly arriving reinforcements from England and continue the offensive.

Hold the Line Battle. Both sides used “Across the Volga” for their artillery.

Brits: (all Confident Trained)
Company HQ (3rd Infantry Division, 8th Brigade, 1st Suffolks)
3 Infantry Platoons Full Strength
Engineer Platoon Full Strength
Carrier Patrol with 3 Bren gun Carriers
1 Armored Platoon (27th Armored Brigade, 13/18 Hussars, C Squadron)
MG platoon with a PIAT section (2nd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment)
Attached AVRE section with 2 AVsRE (77th Assault Regiment, RE)
Battery of Priests with 8 Priests with FOs attached to the infantry platoons. (76th Field Regiment, RA)

I have the MG carriers painted, though I didn’t use them this time as the built up nature of the terrain made me keep them in the carrier park.

Germans: (all Confident Veterans)
Company HQ with panzerschrek section (and without their trucks)
3 PG Platoons (all with SMG Panzerfaust Platoon Command and without their trucks)
StuG platoon with 3 StuG III
Heavy Platoon with two MG sections (and without their trucks)
Self Propelled infantry gun platoon with 2 Grille H
Rocket Launcher Battery with one Nebelwerfer section

Deployment: We are using the bocage rules from D-Day, so we kept with the ~4’ x 4’ table. The built up nature of the terrain and buildings made it difficult to maneuver and rapidly bring sufficient combat power to the decisive point.

The Germans placed one the MG platoon in the center of the town with one PG platoon in the houses on their left flank, and the other along the hedgerow on their right flank. The CC was with the PG platoon along the hedgerow while the company assistant commander and panzerschrek section was with the MG platoon. All Germans start the game entrenched and gone to ground.

German set up.

The Brits deployed the 1st infantry platoon was in the bottom of the screen with orders to move up and place pressure on the PGs in the buildings. Half of the MG platoon was in the church with the C2C while the other half with platoon commander and PIAT team was in the road, intending to move up into a closer house. The somewhat tenuous armored platoon and carrier section were on the main road, with orders to assist the 1st platoon and keep pressure on the German flank. Meanwhile, the engineer platoon and the AVsRE would sweep over the other flanks and puncture the German hedgerow defense line, ad allow the other two infantry platoons to take and hold the objective. The FOs were apportioned to each infantry platoon. The Sniper was held in reserve. I am betting that the German reinforcements will take a while to arrive (they need a 6!) and I will be able to overrun the two PG platoons.

Brilliant British set up and plan!

Turn 1:

Brits: The British move up across the battlefield. The hedgerows rapidly turn my simple, direct plan into a joke. The AVsRE get hung up on the bocage and don’t move. The engineers move up, but the infantry platoon right behind them gets congested with the AVsRE. The middle infantry platoon gets squeezed into an area between the road, houses, and hedgerows. The FOs get pushed to the back, which is going to hurt. The Armored platoon moves up the center, shoot at a MG team from the 2nd Infantry Zug in the center of the town and actually kill something, which is more than they did all last game. The MG teams try to sneak up the center. Only the last infantry platoon doesn’t get completely hung up.

British tanks of the 13/18 Hussars and the 2nd infantry platoon move up.

Engineers and the 3rd infantry platoon with AVsRE prepare to climb a hedgerow.

Germans: The Jerries must be observing our movements as they gain reserves on the first turn! The airborne better take (and hold) Breville soon or our movements off the beach are not going to stay secret very long. The StuGs arrive and move up toward the town center. The MG platoon shoots at the British MG teams and kill one while pinning the platoon. The Nebelwerfers fail to range in, which is the only time the screaming Minnies don’t connect.

Dug in along the hedgerow, German Panzergrenadiers prepare to defend the French countryside from another British attack.

Germans turn the shelled French houses into miniature fortresses.

Turn 2:

Brits: The 1st infantry platoon continues to advance and are screened by a battered barn. The Shermans take the German MG platoon under fire and kill two teams. The carriers move up to screen the pinned MG platoon. All is going mostly to plan on the one flank, but not so much on the other. One AVRE gets over the hedgerow and advances, but the other remains stuck. The engineers get to the hedgerow across from the road, alone and unafraid while the third platoon straggles behind. Meanwhile, the 2nd platoon is bunching up even more as it tries to attain position in a house across from the PGs. No FOs can observe anything, which is not good.

Germans: More German Reserves arrive! The last infantry platoon arrives and heads toward the flank away from my main effort which is good! On the other hand, the StuGs arrive and promptly hit and kill my platoon commander in his Sherman. The PG platoon in the houses trade fire with my MG teams in the church, killing one and disturbing confession. The PGs in the hedgerow pour in fire on the engineers, killing the flame thrower team and another rifle team. OK, losses are expected. . . Then the Nebelwerfers range in on my compacted 2nd infantry platoon, out in the open and very close together. This is not good. I lose 5 rifle teams and only the CC prevents them from running away. They are pinned as well, which doesn’t look good for the future. Not a good turn . . .

German reinforcements arrive.

Turn 3:

Brits: OK, no time to panic. The one infantry platoon occupies some house and starts to pepper the krauts with well aimed Bren guns and Enfields, which actually accomplishes nothing but sounds good. The MG teams unpin and occupy a house that they can start to shoot back in. A Sherman shoots at the MG platoon, kills a team and causes a morale check, which they actually fail! So far, so good. The other two surviving Shermans (including the Firefly) fire at the StuGs and completely miss. Hmmmm . . .

Vickers MG teams keep the Hun down.

The second platoon unpins and tries to move up to the center house, or at least the remnants do. The AVsRE finally get over the hedgerow and move up to support the engineers. The third platoon tries to stay spread out to prevent another Nebelwerfer barrage from blasting them, but the field of maneuver is pretty small.

One less troublesome Jerry Spandau. Tanks from the 13/18 Hussars actually kill something.

Germans: Yet more reinforcements! The Grille platoon comes on and moves toward my main effort, which is also bad. The StuGs brew up another Sherman (surprise!). The Nebelwerfers send another barrage against the hapless 2nd infantry platoon, but other than being pinned, suffer no additional losses. The rest of German small arms fire doesn’t do much other than pin the engineers. The C2C and the panzerschrek team leave the cover of a house and stalk a Sherman. They shoot and miss.

A German SP infantry gun platoon moves up to repulse the British attack.

Turn 4:

Brits: Time to get serious here. I still have a Firefly and another Sherman left to trade fire with the StuGs and keep the Germans on the left from reinforcing the right flank. The Firefly fires at the StuGs FROM POINT BLANK RANGE and only manages to bail out one. It isn’t cricket! The other Sherman shreds the Panzerschrek team with MG and cannon fire. The MG platoon, Carrier section, and 1st infantry platoon manage to pin the PGs in the houses but little else. One AVRE manages to get over the road hedgerow and shoot (and miss) at the Germans. How can you miss with a Petard? The other AVRE bogs down trying to get over. The engineers don’t unpin and the third platoon doesn’t do much damage with small arms. The 2nd platoon struggles into the house and shoots at the PGs in the hedgerow, accomplishing nothing. On the other hand, I finally have a FO that can do something. An eight gun barrage hits the PGs in the hedgerow, killing two teams and pinning them! At least the Gunners are on the ball today. Meanwhile, I place my sniper in the center of town, and he promptly hits and kills a team from the advancing PG reinforcement platoon, pinning them.

Even the company sniper gets a kill!

Germans: Rifle fire and a Nebelwerfer barrage hit the heretofore unbloodied 1st platoon, which loses three teams and is pinned. The bailed out StuG is manned and the StuGs trade AP rounds with the Firefly but any hits ping off the frontal armor. There must have been a bad batch of ammo from the Ruhr. The Grilles fire at the second infantry platoon in the house and miss. The PGs in the hedgerow blast away at the engineers and kill the remaining two teams. One platoon kaput! They also fire at the AVRE in the road and bail it out.

Turn 5:

Brits: Everyone unpins and shoots. The Firefly actually hit and KILLS a StuG! There was much rejoicing at regimental HQ (though not for long). The MGs and 1st infantry platoon trade fire with the PGs in the house and pin one platoon but the sniper misses and the PG reinforcements stay unpinned. The AVRE unbogs and gets over the hedgerow, where is promptly joins its mate at shooting up the PGs in the hedgerow. The sum total of two AVsRE, two infantry platoons and a repeat bombardment cause a total of zero German casualties, although the PGs are pinned again. This is harder than Monty promised. The 2nd infantry platoon kills the remaining German C2C out in the road.

13/18th Hussars get their first panzer kill.

Germans: Another Nebelwerfer barrage hits the 1st infantry platoon, which loses another three teams. Now below 50% strength, it takes and fails a moral check, causing the British flank to evaporate. Luckily the remnants of the armored platoon, though stationary, still control the crossroads. At least for a while . . . One StuG shoots at the Firefly and misses. The other StuG shoots at the AVRE on the road and bails it out. Further fire does little damage to the Bits behind the hedgerows. The Grilles shoot at the second infantry platoon but do no damage.

Turn 6:

Brits: Time and forces are running out. I have to get across the road even to continue the game past this turn, and the momentum is shifting to the Germans as I have lost a lot of my combat power. I move the third infantry platoon cross the hedgerow and move to assault the PGs on the other side of the road. This is risky, but I have artillery, one and a half infantry platoons and two AVsRE to blast the five remaining PG teams before I assault with the infantry (AVsRE can’t assault). I figure I should be able to kill two teams and pin the Germans before the assault gets hit with defensive fire. Not quite. I do pin the PG platoon but fail to kill ANY of the Germans. The AVsRE miss again. Life isn’t fair. Nor is the German defensive fire that kills three of my teams and pins the platoon, ending the assault on the wrong side of the hedgerow.

Assault in the bocage part I: British infantry move up to attack the pinned PGs. But not for long. . .

Assault in the bocage part II: Surviving British infantry wonder just what the AVsRE are doing. . .

Germans: One StuG shoots at the Firefly and turns it into fire. This causes a morale check which the platoon automatically fails as the platoon commander got waxed on turn two. Goodbye to all that and the 13/18 Hussars! The other StuG moves up the road and blasts one AVRE with a side shot, hitting and penetrating the tank. The PGs in the hedgerow, flush with victory of repulsing the British assault, hit the other AVRE with a panzerfaust and blow this one up as well. Further MG fire kills the 3rd platoon commander, which not only forces a morale check due to cumulative losses but ensures it is failed. With both British flanks in tatters (actually nonexistent, other than a sniper), and the center occupied only by some Bren Gun Carriers and the remnants of the 2nd infantry platoon, it is time to show the better part of valor and run away. The British concede and the Germans achieve a major victory.

Goodbye to all that and the 13/18 Hussars too! Shermans burn following a StuG shootout.

AVsRE burn in the road while the surviving British infantry platoon regroups on the other side of the hedgerow.

What is left of the British center holds.

Lessons Learned:

This was my second game with the LW British and some things went better and some worse. Not only did I lose (fair and square this time), but poor decisions really allowed the Germans to eat my lunch. More deficiencies were noted:

- Don’t bunch up! It only gives the enemy artillery more targets! Take time and move up in bunches and don’t get boxed in by the terrain. Get teams out of the open fast or at least don’t be surprised when they get blasted by Nebelwerfers.

- The AVsRE accomplished about nothing, other than delay the assault on the one flank. The Shermans were more effective as close in infantry support. I should have swapped the Shermans and AVsRE, though the small field on that flank would have been a problem also for getting the infantry and armored platoons to fit.

- Leading with artillery seems to be an important facet of a Confident Trained force. There is an old adage that goes something like the worse that your infantry is, the more artillery you need, and I think I need as much as I can get.

- Don’t skimp on an assault. More does look like it is better. I was betting that the remaining Confident Trained infantry would be able to take out the PGs. Not enough survived to get close enough to test this, but I don’t think it would have turned out well.

Overall, a fun (and bloody) game. I am painting a LW British AT gun platoon (4 six pounders and a bunch of assorted carriers) as I think that after this last bloody nose, Jerry might have a counterattack in mind. I am sure Monty had a trick or two up his sleeve to keep the Hun from gaining the initiative.

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