Sunday 28 October 2018

Donville and the Road to Baupte

Time to play a historical refight scenario, which makes a change from picking armies, to fight with what they had on the day. The weekend would see 17th SS Panzergrenadiers attack Carentan, with the scenario recreating the fight around the Donville Farm and the side road to the village of Baupte. Not played in Normandy for ages. Bring on those StuGs…

The scenario is in the Overlord book, and has the US paras holding with 2nd Armoured’s tanks on the way to rescue them (me) from the SS StuGs and Fallschirmjager’s strong attack.

The early game was just the 101st Paras and some off-table 105 guns holding… and they did this well. The Germans were rather cautious, holding back with lots of suppressing fire and shelling the farm itself with mortars and their 105s. Much pinning, and removing of pinning under German MG fire from the far hedges… my bazooka guys held tight on ambush fire waiting for the StuGs to advance. Only along the road did they push-on far, and my bazooka guys proved rather erratic and missed (1 hit bounced off the front glacis). A single StuG and its tank riders headed north of the farm on a lonely advance (hmmm!).

As my artillery hammered the far hedges and kept some German heads down, so my first 5 Shermans arrived. My plan was simple, reinforce the farm with some armoured infantry (when they showed up) to secure it, just hold the Germans on my right, north of the farm, and strike in force along the road. If I could take the small house to the south I’d have all 3 objectives and win it, regardless of the losses. Worth a lighting strike then, along the road to speed it up.

My first Sherman up the road was KO’d by StuG fire, but the others kept coming, under shifted German arty fire. Following up, the next wave of Shermans arrived as the main strike force to overwhelm his 2 StuGs on my left. It was 6 to 2 in AFVs. The armoured infantry arrived just behind the Shermans and weathered the incoming mortars (some pinning only), to be the final assault force once the house was heavily suppressed.

It panned out rather well, I lost another Sherman on my right to StuG fire, but return fire KO’d it. Long ranged fire from a StuG still back at the start-line hedge was ineffective (he empty his ammo bins without scoring a single hit) and the Marder did likewise, blazing at distant Shermans to no effect at all, then becoming just a machine gun in a tank fight- oops.

The Germans along the road were under pressure, another StuG KO’d by my charging Shermans and the other surrounded, Shermans left, right and behind! I switched my artillery to the target building and it scored a direct hit that wiped out the German Forward Observer - no more artillery fire. Things looked bad for the Hun. Even the surprise arrival of BF-109 bombing my tanks (but pinning them only) wasn’t enough. The last StuG guarding the road was hit and KO’d from the flank, and the other Shermans switched to HE on the building, hammering it to rubble. Within, the FJ were cowering. I pressed on, M3 half-tracks now on reserve move to rush the building then assault it in my turn.

So it went, like clockwork - for once. My infantry raced up and jumped out, to then assault the last defenders. They surrendered rather than fight on, and the last FJ panzerschreck team was wiped out by MG fire from the half-tracks. The building was empty and the objective was in the GIs hands. I had all three, the main farmhouse, the road junction and the southern cottage - so game over. The loss in BR was very close, with the Germans just having the edge (3 special counters helped). But the Germans fell back, having lost 3 StuGs from 6 and about a platoon of men. US losses were 3 Shermans from 10, and about a platoon of men, so also very even, but the Germans hadn’t attacked the main farm in any strength, and had not threaten the road junction objective either, so ultimately paid the price for not fighting for the objectives. Nice to win one after a bit of a loosing streak… nowt wrong with a Sherman tank, and don't believe anybody that says otherwise.

 Donville farm, the Carentan road and the road to Baupte. Germans attacking from the left, US from the right.

Main farm, and an objectives.

 First StuGs on the road. The air identification flag would probably be a bad idea in Normandy.

Pinned infantry in the hedges, with the farm under 105mm artillery fire.

Platoon CO StuG presses on up the road, bazookas be damned (they're pinned anyway). 

Back at the start line, StuH standing in (1 too few StuGs for this game in my collection), with US return arty landing. FJ not prepared to risk the open field ahead. 

 Hello 2nd Armoured. First 5 Shermans rolling on, one gets the road junction objective (marked by the cart).

The field(s) of battle. The house in top left is my target for my armoured assault. 

Hear those Detroit motors purr...  the Sherman waves arrive as 105 fire lands.

 Ouch! First Sherman gets a 75mm-sized hole in the turret front.

 The victory of that duel... but not for long.

 Close encounter in the woods by the road, the HQ StuG fails to spot, twice!. I missed, and rolled right on passed. Odd one that at 5" range. 

 GI armoured infantry reach the farm. Not required to defend it, they had an easy day.

 Pressing on into the teeth of the enemy, but overwhelming them.

Got him, StuG burning.

The StuG is surrounded and soon KO'd. The way to the objective is clear. Go! Go!

 Too little too late, a BF-109 bombs the Shermans, but can't hold the tide of US steel.

 StuG still back on the start line. Captain Miss. Fired 5, missed 5, now empty... gawling.

Captain Miss 2, an ammo-less Marder as well. Doubly gawling. Long-range shots at Shermans in cover probably was not the way to play it with so little ammo and no resupply available.