Monday 6 April 2020


Over the past year we’ve been playing a small FotR campaign, set around the town of Erfundensdorf (loosely roughly based on Helminghausen, near Marburg). 5 small battles have led up to this finale, a large ‘battalion-sized’ game for the town itself. The earlier battles determined where the US’ entry points onto this tabletop would be (there are AARs for them all, look back into 2019’s posts). The US won all 5, so had the town well surrounded. Those games also set the forces, with a master list being split into 5 smaller task forces for each game, and these all now coming back together for the final battle, less losses, but adding back in any units that were held in reserve and not used in the first rounds of games.

Here are the forces lists for this battle.

Germans Forces

FHQ in Kubelwagen                23    3-r    sen officer, arty spotter
Comms Relay Team                13    0-i    comms
‘To the last Bullet’                15    D6   

1 Volkssturm Platoon            90    5-i    officer, mortar spotter
 +3 pzfaust
+ HMG Team

1 Fallshirmjager Platoon            147    14-v    Atypical, vets, officer, mortar spotter
+4 Pzfausts
+3 MG-42s
2 Pzschreck teams                46    2-v   
HMG-42 team                20    1-v

1 Armoured Recce Infantry Platoon (reg)    197    15-r     officer, scout 2,
4 x Pzfausts, 4 x MG-42s               
(only 4 SdKfz 250/1 half tracks left)

2 HY Tank Hunter Teams            104    8-e    elite, 2restricted
(6 men, 5 pzfausts each)

Panzer IV (H) Platoon (3)            160    9-v    officer, mortar spotter, vets

1 x Panzer V Panther Platoon (2)        188    6-i    officer, inexperienced

2 x StuG III Gs                90    6-r

FO Team                    16    1-r    arty spotter+
2 81mm mortars (on-table)            48    2-i    as battery
1 x 150mm Nebelwerfer + RSO tow    58    2-r   
1 Sniper                    10    1-v    sniper-scout

FJ Pioneer squad + flamethrower        52    3-v    restricted

1 Resupply truck                8    1-i
1 Forward Aid Post                20    5-i    restricted

Specialist Units
20mm Flak on medium truck        16    1-r
20mm flak gun + Kettenkrad tow        30    1-r
1 Marder III H                34    1-r
1 x Brummbar                64    4-r

Additional Fire Support
2 x 3rd Priority Requests            10    0    5+
4 x Counter battery fire missions        40    0    5+

Remaining Defences
2 x Improvised Barricades            10    0    4+ cover
10” of barbed wire                10    0
3 x Fortified Buildings            60    0    3+ cover
2 x Booby-Trapped Buildings        50    0
1 x Timed Demolition            20    0
1 x Tunnels                    30    0
2 x Cellar Shelters                20    0    2+ vs IDF

Totals:                    1699 points    91+D6 BR      6 officers, 3 scouts

German Defence Plan
My situation looked bad, but hey, this is Germany 1945, in never looks good. My plan was simple, I assigned each of three infantry platoons a job and area of the battlefield, dished out some support in tanks etc, and gave them orders to hold as long as they could, especially at the objectives. I’d use the armour in a cat-and-mouse style, trying to take shots and move rather than getting into a stand-up fight with all his tanks. With ambush fire, I hoped to get the drop on him and inflict some serious losses early.

The town would be divided into three, the ‘frontline’ western end of town would be the panzer grenadiers and Hitler Youth, including holding the Rathaus objective. The north, towards the ‘rear’, would be the Fallshirmjager’s area, holding that end of town and the Gasthaus objective. The Volkssturm had the ‘south’ and the bridge, with one squad well forwards at the outlying farm, a forlorn hope, but hopefully they bag a tank with their ‘faust in ambush.

One Hitler Youth squad was down in the tunnels (sewers) ready to pop-up in turn 6, by then I expected the US would be on the edge of town. I fortified 3 buildings, both objectives and the taller clock tower with its good line’s of sight. 2 buildings on the edge of town were booby-trapped, and a third as set to be demolished on turn 4 (in the end it failed to go off - must have been set by the Volkssturm).

US Forces

from entry 1 - Task Force James

Aerial Observer Piper Cub            71        3    officer, arty spotter+

1 M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo (75mm)    66        3    restricted

M4 Tank Platoon (3) (all 75mm)        140        9    officer, arty spotter

Armoured Infantry Platoon 1 (mounted)  160        19    officer, arty spotter
(reduced strength, -4 men)
(in 4 M3 Half tracks)

Totals                        437        34 BR      3 officers           

from entry 2 - Task Force McLynn (recce group)

1 M8 Armoured Car                26    1    scout, mortar spotter

2 Recce MG Jeeps                48    2    scout 2, mortar spotter
(each with 3 men)

1 M5 Light Tank                30    2   

1 M36 JacksonTank Destroyer        46    2

Totals                        150    7 BR    0 officers, 3 scouts

from entry 3 - Task Force Hallas

Armoured Infantry Platoon    5        136    15    officer, arty spotter

M4 Tank Platoon (4)             198    12    officer, arty spotter
(2 x 76mm, 2 x 75mm)

Sherman Calliope Battery (2)        172    6    restricted

Resupply Truck                8    1    resupply

1 M12 155m SP Gun            52    2    unique

Totals                        566    36 BR 2 officers

from entry 4 - support elements of Task Force Edgar Support

M7 Priest Battery (3)            110    6

2 Resupply Trucks                16    -

Sherman ARV                22    1

FHQ in M3 Half Track            29    3    senior officer, arty spotter

Totals                        177    10 BR  1 officer

from entry 5 - combat elements of Task Force Edgar

Armoured Infantry Platoon 4        136    15    officer, arty spotter

M4 Tank Platoon (3)     (1 76mm)        144    9    officer, arty spotter

2 x M26 Pershing Hvy Tanks        144    8   

2 x M36 Jackson Tank Destroyers        92    4

comms relay team                13    0    comms

Totals                        561    36 BR     2 officers

Available Off-Table Artillery Support

2 81mm mortars                 54    0

2 105mm guns                90    0

1 Timed 155mm artillery strike        20    0    4 guns

1 Timed P-47 air strike            10    0    4 small bombs

2065 points      123 BR    8 officers    3 scouts

The US approaches

I’ll deal with the game in the five US deployment areas.

1. Task Force James
Tanks leading, and Jumbo at the font, the armour began to blast away at town from range, only cautiously edging forwards, lacking infantry support. They machine gunned and HE’d the forlorn hope Volkssturm squad out of the grey farm, wiping them out, the Volkssturm having missed their ambush fire ‘faust chance by failing to spot… obviously they just weren’t ready… the mounted US armoured infantry then raced on and all, the entire platoon, dismounted into the farm buildings, to find one booby-trapped, and lose a man. They ran smack into the next Volkssturm squad in the orchard beyond, supported by their old HMG, and a fierce firefight saw both sides take losses and the surviving Volkssturm, again wasting their panzerfaust with a miss against the Jumbo, pullback into town. Then the German mortars rained in, and more MG fire stalled the US platoon, who hugged the building’s cover and got no further. Sending their two .30cal MG teams into the orchard, both where lost to return fire from the buildings, and that was it, the platoon just stalled there, to weak now to press into the town.

The Sherman Jumbo did press on, and reached the edge of town, having survived another ‘faust hit and 2 StuG impacts as well, only to become immobilised by the next StuG round as it took it’s track off, and the crew abandoned it… that saw James’ men stuck, with no more progress, even after the M12 levelled the ‘Beirkeller’ ahead of them and wiped out the teenage Hitler Youth hiding in the basement. Seeing the writing on the wall of other buildings, the Germans pulled back out of them into the town centre.

Spotter buzzing over town... and attracting 20mm flak fire. 

 Jumbo leads the way, reaches the orchard, where the Volkssturm misses it!

James's armoured infantry rush the grey farm

StuG scores a hit and kill at range, first Sherman lost!

The town square gets busy as the supply ruck arrives, StuG withdrawing with empty bins.

Flak finds it's mark... Piper Cub down! 

 Jumbo reaches the 'Bierkeller', is immobilised, pinned and the crew abandon ship.

2. Task Force McLynn
A bad day in this side show on the far side of the lake. The light recce force entered the table, M5 and M8 leading, only to fall directed into the sights of a waiting Marder across the lakes. 2 shots, 2 hits and both were smoking wrecks… ouch! The M36 Jackson behind returned fire and missed, before taking refuge in the trees. Unwilling to commit the recce jeeps (chits waiting to happen), and with no other aid, the Jackson made a rash lone dash for the bridge objective, got there, but was pinned by MG fire from the buildings. A sitting duck now, and a Pz IV rounded the corner and with a single AP shell dispatched it. The recce jeeps arrived (last?) and seeing a hopeless situation also took to the woods, lurking there trying to get some mortars firing on the bridge when the US had the spare orders. The Germans didn’t pursue them, as long as they stayed quiet. Even if the Germans did send some troops to root them out, they would quickly withdraw off table to save the chits… still the far side of the lake was firmly in German hands.

The bridge objective at the end of the lake.

M8 and M5 arrive up the foresters track.

Marder waiting in ambush... scores tow kills, before being bombed and destroyed (very destroyed) by the P-47 timed strike.

 Pz IV moving up, over the park, where the busy mortars teams are hard at it.

It meets the Jackson's mad dash... boom!

Recce jeeps last to arrive, and head off into the trees to hide!

 Pzgrenadiers dismount in the woods, and sneak up, 'fasut ready. But the Jeeps just drive off the table.

 Bridge objective secure.

3. Task Force Hallas
They had open fields to cross, and dismounted infantry, and it proved hard going, first hit by an accurate Werfer stonk that pinned almost the entire platoon. Their Shermans tried to shoot them in, wasting a lot of ammo as two StuGs kept popping up, firing and retiring into the buildings. The StuGs mostly missed too! With incoming mortar fire and long range MG fire keeping the infantry’s heads well down, they got stuck in the bushes and stalled.

Their Calliope tanks put heavy fire down into town and caused a lot of pinning, if not much actual losses, but they were scary turns for the Germans when the Calliopes were ‘up’. Nothing to shoot back with… so just wearing it as best they could.  Calliopes, spotted by an aerial observer with a comms team’s help, is an unpleasant combination - until my Flak 20 shot down his Piper Cub!!

Hallas men made slow progress, loosing a few tanks en route, and then the ARV recovered one, but it was stand off here.

Open fields, west of town.

Werfer strike! Lots of pinning.

Lurking StuG, keeping the Shermans busy.

 Holding the Rathaus objective, Pzgrenadiers and their transports.

Hallas just can't get going...

P-47, bombs away... two others overflew town but didn't join the battle... some mercy for the beset defenders.

 En route, ARV trundles round the back.

M12, in the wood line, lines up the town and starts its work, resupply truck parked right behind.

ARV arrives and sets to fixin'...

Oh, come on! Back in the action.

High water, the edge of town is reached by 1 Sherman. Destroyed 250 blocks the road.

4. Task Force Edgar Support
Really, this was the M7 Priests, and they used aimed fire at various buildings at long range, and brought two down in a fusillade of 105mm fire, causing the loss of a FJ HMG team, an MG team, sniper, the FOO and 4 of 6 from their PHQ! The Sherman ARV arrived and headed off across the fields to find a KO’d Sherman to fix, and the supply trucks waited. One tried a mad dash for the woods, but was hit by MG fire from a 250/1 and KO’d. The other truck was more cautious after that. Trucks don’t last long.

The US boss, in his M3, hung back and just got on the radio to direct in some off table 105 fire as well, to add to the wreckage in town when it wasn’t stopped by counter battery fire… which it was 4 times in 4 turns!.

To counter the horrid Priest fire, on-table counter battery fire from the mortars, very accurate, landed and KO’d one M7 and pinned another, eat that! Small revenge. The German mortar crew were very busy men, firing every turn of the game, except one, when they were both pinned by arty fire.

M7s into firing line

M36 reaches the resupply truck after a long drive through the woods.

Incoming! Bit of return fire, mortars get the M7 battery with accurate fire.

5. Task Force Edgar
The tank heavy force started by rolling the tanks in, blasting into town and trading shots with the Panthers which were soon both pinned. They didn’t see one lurking Panzerschreck team (literally) which blasted a Sherman in the side, then ran off…

The M26s missed the Panthers, placed to meet them head on, and for once, the US heavies lost. The Panther scored a kill and then a Panzerfaust got the other M26 in the side as it moved across the road (poor judgement of 10” that). With the M36 Jacksons running out of ammo (and smashing several hits off Panther’s front glacis) and driving off through the woods in search a resupply truck, that left the last Shermans and infantry. They fought on, called in some artillery fire (PHQ with arty spotter is handy) and killed off most of the FJ machine gun teams in the buildings. The FOO, HMG and sniper fire from the clocktower ended when it collapsed under Priest fire, taking all units with it (big chit hit). Still, if the objective was the ‘Gasthaus’ building, they didn’t get close and by the end of the game, the FJ platoon was still fighting, if only with 2 squads and 1 MG team, the Platoon HQ being killed when another building collapsed under M7 fire… the US were enjoying just levelling things.

Despite an attack that barely got into town (one infantry squad got into a building on the edge of town), artillery, calliope and mortars had down their work, the Germans lower morale and the evils of a Endkampf card saw the defenders morale crack first on 94. The US had been pushed to 111, still only 12 short of their own break point.

Edgar's route towards their objective, the white Gasthaus.

Hidden FJ 'schreck team do some schrecking...

Panther guards the town centre

M26 Pershings target the Panther

Pz IV platoon HQ tank risks a few return shots, then dodges back out of harms way.

Back garden aid post and comms relay team

Calioppe fire, much pinning, no direct hits!

 Old Crow rushes the pinned Panther for a PB shot, desperate measures... it did not end well.

Pershing up in smoke... Panther wins the duel.

Old Crow is smoking and the Panther comes  forward to get a shot at the Jackson, bold, but then it ran out of ammo and retreated back into the town square (where it was KO'd by arty fire).

FJ defence line along the road, machine guns in the buildings were lost to heavy US small arms and MG fire.

Pershings and Jacksons gone... the Panther pulls forward to find new victims, and promptly conks-out with no fuel... 

It had been a long hard fight, and the Germans had down well, no pushover here. Losses, well the US lost 7 Shermans, both Pershings and 2 M36s Jacksons by the end. The Germans, lost 1 Panther (artillery hit whilst rearming in the town square), 1 Pz IV and the Brummbar (KO’d by the first 155 timed strike, turn 2). Both StuGs survived, multiple hits as well, and emptied their ammo bins twice over. 11-3 in AFVs…

In hindsight made a few too many tactical co-ordinations by the Germans also cost them, but hey, at the start, 94 looks a long way off…. 5 chits on Endkampf was costly, if it hadn’t come out, or maybe it had helped the Germans, Erfundensdorf might have held out. Great fun, nice to get lots of toys out.