Thursday evening saw the first gathering of the Nottingham White Hart gaming club for 2012, and a chance to fight out a company-sized 400 pts action between an attacking British Armoured Division battle group against my own Fallschirmjäger battle group, defending the village of St Gerarde.
A few others joined the game, as well as several spectators as the battle escalated into an intense struggle. From a slow initial start and exchange of mortar and artillery fire, the battle built until by turns 7, 8 and 9 the British where throwing the kitchen sink at the stoic but outnumbered defenders.
Here is the board laid out, Brits being deployed.
The first casualty of the battle was the lead Cromwell, sniped by a STuG as it advanced up the road. The main British attack game from their far right, across a large crop field and through the woods on the edge of town, which were defended by a single HMG dug-out (the crew abandoned this and ran back into town). Also the main British advance was preceded by the (lucky) arrival of a Typhoon, which rocketed my STuG into a hulk before being rather successfully engaged by 20mm flak, which kept it suppressed for most of the game.
The game begins with most of the defenders going onto Covering Fire.
The STuG becomes a Typhoon kill.
A Cromwell pushes ahead on the British right to engage the 120mm mortar team, before being destroyed by a newly arriving STuG.
British infantry in marching order.
At the front of the village the Fallschirmjäger occupied a row of pre-fortified buildings (and that 3+ save was a star of the game), making a frontal attack difficult, with the German FAO and MG teams hunkered inside and keeping up a steady barrage of 105mm, 120mm mortar fire and suppressing fire whilst Sexton 25pdr shells hit the outside to little effect.
The arrival of German reinforcements (2 more STuGs and a squad in a truck) made it seem to all that the village would not fall, with the British enduring heavy artillery (for one turn it was 210mm howitzers!) and MG fire on the woods. Still their own pioneers got into range and successfully flamed the nearest building, torching the squad within.
In the later turns, after no action from the British left, suddenly they rushed forward, hoping to close the distance at speed, but a second HMG dug-out cut through the infantry in the open (inflicting 18 casualties in 2 turns) to no reply. In front of the town the British motorised infantry platoon also raced boldy forward to close assault range, one half-track was vaporised by a STuG and the dismounting squad wiped out by MG fire, the infantry casualties were mounting like the Somme, and it seemed the Brits must withdraw.
Then it changed. The Brits fought suddenly back, and the frontline situation turned on its head. The well concealed Fallschirmjäger on the front took so much return fire they were wiped out - FAO team, MG teams and squad, even their truck was hit by a 25 pdr shell from supporting Sexton fire (this cost me 4 morale alone). The 95mm Centaur engaged two more MG teams with its fire, suppressing them, and suddenly the Fallschirmjäger’s solid defence seemed to be crumbling. In one turn 14 morale piled on. The Fallschirmjägers command and control deserted them, leaving them struggling to respond and without their artillery...
...and then we ran out of time! It was gone ten and time to clear away. Adding up morale loss the Brits had suffered 32 from a total of 37. The Fallschirmjäger had suffered 26 from a total of 29. A very narrow win for the Brits, helped by their veteran infantry who, despite the casualties, just wanted that village.
A late rally by the Brits saved the day, but it was really their far higher starting morale total, which was gained by including veteran infantry squads, which told. My Fallschirmjäger (also veterans) spent too many points on off-table artillery, which whilst effective kept my morale total down. Then again it might have been worth it for the two direct hits the 210mm battery inflicted – messy!
The British frontal assault, a bold move that cost heavy casualties, but probably won the game at the death!
As a post-script, whilst organising my force for this game I realised my Fallschirmjäger where not a finished forced. Finding myself short of 6 MMG teams, 5 panzerfausts and having no recce units at all. So, this has become my next painting project, to upgrade my Fallschirmjäger into a fully functional battle group. Orders for MMGs dispatched to SHQ, Panhard 178 armoured car and Schwimmwagens to Model Hobbies and various other bits and pieces I’m missing. These will now follow my Russians – still to be completed.