Wednesday, 30 March 2011
The four beach landings have been completed and Steve and I have brought the map up to date with the exploitation, march and strategic moves. Despite the loss on Gold beach, the armour from Juno exploited into the area to secure the British landings. The US paras on Utah enabled the US armour to exploit to St Jours and strengthen the US forces around Carentan and support a US move to cut off the Cherbourg peninsula. Allied air helped keep the Cherbourg garrison bottled up and minimise the German moves against Arromanches, however SS Panthers (2nd SS) are in the Foret de Cerisey and the SS PzIV (12th SS)is opposite Arromanches in the Bretteville area. The StugIV representing 17thSS has moved to La Haye to threaten US attempts to close on Barneville. The 21st PzIV moved into Mezidon opposite the British paras in Merville. A solid Allied landing should give a good platform for expanding the bridgehead in turn 2. As a side note, I like the way Firestorm allows a campaign structure to bring together games played as time allows. The campaign started last August and the battles have been fought as stand alone games but have contributed to the map positions recorded. Jon
Monday, 28 March 2011
The fourth and final game in the first turn of our Firestorm Normandy campaign was fought this Sunday, and featured the landing at Gold Jig Green Beach by the Hampshires. The beach is an interesting scenario because where the 1st Hants. landed marked the boundary between the 716th and 352nd Divisions, and thus meant that the British veterans came up against German veterans on one side of the defences, and reluctant Ost troops on the other (see map and orbats for details)
The British objective on this beach was to penetrate the defences and wheel to their right, taking the objectives (green and yellow flags) at Asnelles and Le Hamel. This reflected the original objective of 231 Brigade with their mission of securing the right flank of the Gold Beach landing to allow the 47th RM Commandos to pass through to Port en Bessin and link up with the Americans on Omaha. Below is the tabletop interpretation of our map
With a current running from right to left (facing the beach, seaward side), the Brits landed their first three infantry platoons, DDs and an AVRE troop, headed for the ramp off the beach and the sea wall next to WN36, ably garrisoned by the 441 Ost, who sadly for the Germans lost a section to the naval bombardment and remained pinned for practically the whole game.
The AVRE's closed on WN36 and started to create breaches and batter the seafront buildings, preparing the way for the infantry assault.
Meanwhile the DDs were tasked with keeping the veterans of the 352nd in the Chateau Asnelles and sanatorium complex quiet whilst the attack developed on the other end of the beach. The smoke was deployed to prevent fire from the 7.5cm bunker of WN37 raking the beach. However a continual peppering of small arms and mortar fire came in from this strongpoint.
The assault on WN36 when it came was short and bloody, with the Ost troops fighting back stubbornly, taking three groups out for the three groups they lost. The remnants were forced to withdraw shaken but unbowed.
By turn 4 the attack on WN36 was gathering momentum, but would it be able to get clear of the strongpoint and swing in on the objectives?
The German commander decided to not wait for all the reinforcements to assemble and decided to just take a section of the infantry platoon and two Marders, seen here entering Asnelles. The truck and dug in infantry mark the objective hex.
Infantry supported by armour, make the dash across the open fields towards the cover of the hedgerows and immediately draw fire from the Marders and 352nd infantry sections.
The attack stalls in front of Asnelles as the British attempt to bring up M10s to support the infantry and the Commandos to make a last desperate assault on Le Hamel from the beach, which ended in failure.
At game end the German veterans were securely in control of Le Hamel and Asnelles and having inflicted over 21% more casualty points than they received were declared the winners, so ending turn 1 of our campaign with the only German win.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
This was a game I had been looking forward to playing when painting my collection of British Infantry and Waffen SS Panzer Grenadiers. The campaign was written by Gary Martin and is available on the Battlefront Website, from which you can find the orders of battle. Mission 1 represents the "Break In" attacks launched on the 26th June 1944 by the 15th Scottish Division and the particular attack by the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers as they fought to take the village of St Manvieu. The village was held by 2 Kompanie, 26 SS Panzergrenadier Regiment and the command post of the first battalion.
The SS troops had been in almost continual action since June 7th, when they had counterattacked the beachhead established by the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division. By the time the Scott's attack took place the 12th SS Division was firmly on the defensive and had started to harden their defences with prepared positions.
This was the Scots initiation to battle after years of training in the UK. Although they were untried, they were confident and well trained in their assault tactics of "leaning in" to their supporting artillery barrage, backed up by Infantry tanks to shoot them on to the objective.
The day would prove how well that confidence was founded.
The table top interpretation. I decided to make some slight changes replacing some of the light woods with cornfields which were a major feature of the terrain and captured in so many photos of the battle of "Tommies" advancing with rifles at the port in waist high corn.
I also decided to change the original game design by allowing the Scots to be preceded by their rolling barrage provided by the Divisional and Corps artillery batteries. This caused the loss of three SS foot groups and a dug in PaK40.
Both sides placed an objective in the German set up area, and not unsurprisingly they were well separated to confuse the Germans as to where the attack would concentrate.
The Scots advanced rapidly into the orchards on their right flank and approached the edges of the village, while the SS were busy trying to unpin from the artillery barrage.
The Scots came up against the German wire and stopped to work on breaching it whilst exchanging desultory shooting into the village. The marker on the right indicates potential SS ambushers.
It started to become clear that this was the main assault as the lead platoon supported by Pioneers was quickly followed by two more rifle platoons, backed up by the crocodiles.
Whilst the attack was going in on the British right, the HMG carriers in the centre were supporting with indirect fire into the village. This prompted retaliatory fire from the SS mortars which caused damage to several carriers.
Then the SS nebelwerfers joined in dropping a barrage into the orchards knocking out five rifle groups from two platoons and pinning the Scots attack. This also finished off the Pioneer platoon who had led the assault. The damage had been done to the German flank though, and the remains of the SS platoon there were forced out and retired. The other SS platoon started to feed reinforcements across their front to secure the objective, whilst leaving a security section to guard the German right flank.
In an effort to stop the German re-alignment, the Scots launched their reserve platoon at the German right, braving MG42s and mortars in the fields beyond.
This was where our game finished, with 8 turns completed and the fighting still very much in full swing. However with slightly under half of the SS company destroyed and only about 25% casualties of the Scots hors de combat, the battle looked to be heading to a historical win for the Brits. However as in the actual action the Scotts had been fought to a evening battle amid the flaming ruins of St Manvieu, where the follow up units of 11th Armoured Division would become embroiled in the mopping up next day. But that's another game!
Thanks to Malc, Jason Nathan and Steve M for fun game with lots of swings of fortune from one side to the other. The best bit was telling Nathan that he only had to avoid getting a 1 on a D12 when taking a morale check for his SS boys. Although I couldn't see the die, his face said it all. Don't take up poker Nathan!!!
Hill 112 next