|Out of control MK IV crushes truck...|
On 16 August, Montgomery insistently demanded that First Canadian Army drive south and east to close the Falaise Gap and link up with the Americans moving north. Closing the gap would allow the destruction in detail or force the surrender of the remaining German forces in Normandy, and weaken the formation of a new defensive line further east in the direction of the river Seine. The American drive led by the 90th Infantry Division has been stopped at Argentan by confused orders and a change of command.
From 17-20 August, the Canadians and Poles have little additional support despite the local availability of British armoured divisions, and they are the only forces actively driving a wedge into the retreating stream of Germans. The Canadians’ goal is to cut off the German retreat by seizing and holding the line of the D13 highway behind the river Dives towards Chambois, and particularly to secure the bridges at St. Lambert-sur-Dives. Second, to establish a blocking position along this line to contain the German retreat until sufficient forces arrive to annihilate the pocket.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada successfully held on to Moissy village and now anticipate a German counter-attack towards the D13 highway. They have support from an armoured troop from the South Alberta Regiment.
|Marder supported by Pz Grenadiers presses on...|
Platoon HQ (upgraded with one Sniper and Piat section)
3 Rifle Sections (3 man bren group + 7 man rifle group)
all with M3 half tracks
1 Mortar Section
1 Machine-gun Section
1 Armoured Troop (with 3 Sherman V tanks + 1 Firefly each with .50" AA MG)
While Rommel’s goal of containing the Allies in their beach-heads and destroying them before they could break out has failed, a layered defensive position leading back to the river Seine is still in place, strongly held by German forces including the 12. SS-Panzer Division and the Tigers of the 101. SS-Heavy Tank Battalion.
Amid the retreat from Normandy, continuous Allied armoured attacks, artillery bombardment, and air attacks from fighters and bombers have shattered unit cohesion, but individual officers are still able to enforce discipline amid the developing rout, reassembling some effective units on the kampfgruppe model, with infantry forces of platoon-size supported by the surviving tanks and assault guns.
Having failed to drive back the Canadians with infantry alone you have now been given some significant armour support to try to recapture the D13 highway.
|Firefly burns - actually an M4A3E8 in disguise|
Panzer HQ (with one Panzer IV + one Marder II)
1 Panzer platoon (with one Panther + one Tiger tanks)
1 Falschirmjager platoon (with two sections + HQ)
1 Motorised Panzergrenadier platoon (with two sections in 3-ton trucks, HQ, HMG section, Panzerfaust section)
The road between St. Lambert-sur-Dives and Argentan winds southwest-northeast across the table. The road is lined with hedges, walls and small copses of trees.
|Flanking German heavy armour moves cross country|
This Platoon level action was played across a 8ft by 6ft table using the Rules of Engagement rules. Hugh Wilson and Colin Jack commanded the Germans whilst Dougie Trail and I commanded the Canadian forces. The Canadians set up with their infantry holding Moissy village and its approaches with a section of 2 Shermans in ambush behind a hill to the flank with the Firefly and the other Sherman and a M3 halftrack with a section of infantry in reserve of table down the D13 highway.
How the game played
The German paras struck across country towards Moissy but came under fire from the Vickers Mg in the end house. The Panzer IV and Marder led the main German assault down the D13. They came under fire from the Firefly which was committed from reserve. The Firefly scored an early success stunning the driver of the Mk IV which veered of the road and crushed the leading german truck! The tank duel continued as the Mk IV and Marder came on down the road. The firefly managed to stun both the enemy drivers but was then blown up by the first German hit.
The paras tried to rush Moissy but were cut down by the hidden Canadian infantry. The MK IV and the Marder then came under fire from PIATS. To the left of the main German advance the Panther and Tiger moved cross country to bring Moissy under fire. I then sprung the trap with the 2 Shermans emerging from cover over the hill on their flank. In 3 rounds of shooting neither side scored a hit. In the last round the Shermans needed anything but a 1 to hit and both rolled 1s!!!!
At this note the game ended being declared a major allied victory.
|Shermans move up from cover...|
|Shermans keep missing flank of jerry armour...|