Tuesday, January 24, 2012

KGN: la petite ferme de chèvres - July 1944

Gaz and Joe came along to the club on Sunday for a rematch against my Americans, and thanks to his reinforcements he fielded a 362 point force as follows:

battle group HQ - 3 men    2mv
panzer upgrade                     0mv
recon support
sniper                                 0mv
main force units
panzer IV-G squadron        6mv
extra panzer IV-G                 2mv
infantry main force
vet panzer gren platton    16mv
(mounted in sdkfz 251/1)
support units
pak 40                                 2mv
combat medic                 0mv
artillery assets
forward artillery observer          0mv
3x80mm mortors - off table       0mv

                                  totals     28mv

Lots of high quality infantry, but in expensive battle taxis.  For my part I went with the following:

Signals Truck    0mv
Supply Truck    0mv
M8 Command Car    1mv
Infantry Main Force
Dismounted Armoured Infantry Platoon    8mv
Armour Main Force
M4 Tank Company (9 tanks)    18mv
        3x M4 Tank Squadrons (including one M4 76mm in 'A' Squadron)
Forward Artillery Observer    0mv
Registered target point (RTP)   0mv
4 High Priority Fire Missions    0mv
1 Low Priority Fire Mission    0mv
Total     27mv
 My plan was to use an armoured thrust supported by carefully placed artillery (the Registered Target Point would ensure it would hit exactly where I intended) to try to blunt his attack, figuring I'd need twice as many tanks as the Germans to survive the inevitable losses.

The battlefield was set out as follows, with a mix of bocage around a ruined village, the farm to the west  (nearest camera) being undamaged.  Woodland and some low hills completed the region.

The Germans entered from the North, whilst the Americans advanced from the South in a simple encounter.

The Germans adopted a simple formation with their infantry to one side of the road and their armour to the other.

The Americans adopted a similar general concept, but lacking infantry mobility, set up it's machine guns as covering fire so the infantry could advance along the hedgerows.  My artillery observer retired to the south-eastern woodland where the German's ran up the road in the middle of the field.  My signals and supplies held to the rear.

The Germans advanced and allowed the American armour to engage them in a long range shooting exchange; the range was such in fact that the advantages of the German guns were largely negated; they had little chance of hitting and only marginal chances of penetrating the M4 armour.

It was an exchange I was happy to prolong, as I knew I had a resupply option; every miss for Gaz was critical.  At this stage I even had a troop of tanks in reserve.

However the platoon of Hanomags was arriving on the edge of the farm and hurriedly dismounting, long before my infantry were really close enough to contest the area.  Fortunately I was able to take them under fire from a dug in .30cal; suppressing the western flank of the attack:

The rest of the German infantry pressed home the attack on the farm and the fringes of the village, with the half tracks now acting as armoured cars, my own armoured car having to withdraw.

My artillery seized the moment to lay down the fire of a battery of 105mm howitzers on our RTP; the centre of the junction, few casualties were caused, but the German artillery observer was caught right in the blast and destroyed.  He never acted in anger.  On reflection Gaz should not have exposed him by getting so far forward, he did the same thing last time!

But at this stage the German infantry attack, supported as it was by light armour was turning the American flank, so armour from the centre was rushed over the counter the threat as Hanomags crashed through the Bocage, all but wiping out one squad - only the plucky Bazooka man surviving.

The Bazooka and an M4 wrought revenge from the Hanomags and their infantry.  Elsewhere the Panzer IV's were having little luck in athe long range tank battle and with two tanks lost from their squadron and ammunition low the battlegroup HQ vehicle was called up to support them.

Anticipating this and seeing a chance to outflank the Germans, the American reserve moved around the eastern side of the combat, whilst in the centre the survivor of 'A' Squadron went to resupply.  'C' squadron lost one tank in the advance, but by now the German main force had been forced to retire via the imple expedient of having no armour piercing ammunition left.

The German HQ tank soon fell to the available weight of fire; despite surviving three hits to the front, a hit from the flank finally took it down.  The retiring Panzer IV's had precipitated a general retirement by the German armour, and this freed the American tanks around the farm to concentrate on the infantry, now unsupported.

From this point onwards it was largely a mopping up exercise for the Americans, whose superior material supply had proved telling.  One of the last casualties being a lone rifleman raked by machine gun fire whilst trying to race across the main village street.

Nevertheless the Germans had inflicted significant losses, with around 20 infantry casualties (including 7 KIA) amongst the Americans as well as the loss of three tanks and the M8, totalling another 12 KIA.  German infantry losses were uncertain, but a handful of dead were found around the farm and a half dozen infantry taken prisoner.  Losses of three tanks and two half tracks were far more significant to the limited German supply structure, and the loss of a valued company commander would be even more telling.

Gaz and Joe recognised they had been beat, and took away a number of tactical lessons from what was at the end of the day, only their second game ever.  The willingness to stand at maximum range and trade shots with little chance of hitting me, when ammunition was so limited was a mistake, and the sacrifice of half tracks in an infantry assault probably cost more than it gained.  True they were unlucky to lose their artillery so early, but these things happen.  A poorly placed anti tank gun to the north-west could have done so much more in the centre of the battlefield...

Overall a great game with plenty of spectacle, I loved fielding a company of tanks!  Here's to the next one; though by the sound of it they will be at the club this Sunday practising against one another.

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