Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This week - Action in Normandy.....

This weeks game at the SESWC was a 28mm WWII game of an action in Normandy in 1944. My WWII collection is now entirely 20mm so all the figures for this game were supplied by Colin Jack. Colin and I supplied the terrain. The scenario was adapted by Colin from the Falaise Campaign available on the Flames of War website complete with excellent maps.

Canadian M3 halftrack - an excellent Corgi model

Background and Player Briefing
Allied Briefing
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.

Allied Forces
Platoon HQ from C Company, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada 3 Sections each of 3man bren group + 6 man rifle group Mortar section and Piat section all in M3 half tracks
Limited air support may be available.

Argyle and Sutherland squad cautiously move into Moissy
German Briefing
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.

German Forces
Platoon HQ 2 Grenadier Sections each of 3 man MG34 group + 6 man rifle group Machine Gun Section and Mortar Section
Infantry gun

Grenadiers make their fatal run towards Moissy thru the faux fur
The D13 highway runs quite straight from the northwest of the map to exit at the southeast. The highway is lined with hedges, walls and small copses of trees. The river Dives winds north-south down the west edge of the map, lined unevenly with trees on both banks. There is one ford at the hamlet of Moissy near the north edge of the map, but otherwise the river is Very Difficult Going for all teams. Troops may not stop in the water. Troops in contact with either bank are considered Concealed. The surrounding countryside is dotted with scattered farms, standing crops and orchards separated by low walls and hedges.

SetupThis Platoon level action was played across a 8ft by 6ft table using the Rules of Engagement rules. Hugh Wilson and Ray Neal commanded the Germans whilst Colin Jack and I commanded the Canadian forces. The terrain mat we used for this game was a large sheet of faux (teddy bear) fur which gives the look of sunny wheat fields.

M3 under mortar fire - in background remains of a Canadian squad
How the game playedOn the allied side I commanded 2 rifle sections whilst Colin commanded the HQ section and the 3rd rifle section. I faced Ray whilst Colin faced Hugh. The game developed as expected into a struggle for the buildings in the hamlets.
The allies quickly won a success on their left driving back a German section making for the one of the houses in Moissy which allowed the Canadians to occupy Moissy unopposed. However the Germans in the centre heavily hit Colin’s rifle section forcing them to fall back. It then became a battle of attrition to see if the Canadians with their mortar support and limited artillery support could knock out the German tripod MG and infantry gun before they eliminated all the allied Canadian infantry. The Canadians used their M3 halftracks as decoys to attract the German fire and this then allowed them to disable the crew of both the key German weapons. Once these were gone the Germans called it a day and withdrew from the game.

This game was the first of a mini campaign that we will be playing and we will be playing and reporting on the follow up actions in the coming months. We learned 2 basic lessons in this first game:
1 - Tripod mounted MG42s are deadly!
2 - Moving across open ground is more deadly!

Rules of Engagement seem to work well for this scale of action but I think it would be better if we had more than 1 set of the rules between us. I plan to get a set at Claymore 2011 this coming Saturday.

Price of victory - a burning M3 - it went Foom!