The quiet village of Saint Mathieu had already been ravaged by artillery fire, and deserted by its' denizens. But now it found itself at the centre of the conflict for Normandy.
German reconnaissance forces moved into the village as the guns fell silent and delays in the American advance gave them time to occupy the village.
However the eventual American attack was led by a Forward Artillery Observer and more threateningly, two Sherman Tanks. Who made short work of the lead German armoured car.
The Americans followed this up with a motorised platoon supported by armoured air defence and company artillery elements. A third Sherman arrived to join the advance into the village.
By comparison German Panzergrenadiers supported by a troop of Panzer IV's (AKA 'Tigers') approached the village through the densest of Bocage.
The Americans lost one tank to the Tigers, and the main attack diverted to the right of the village where the fields were more open. But the Panzergrenadiers supported by a Stummel and Hanomag were already in position to meet them.
And did absolutely nothing. One can only presume they were disorientated by breaking through the cover.
Artillery support from Divisional 105mm's was pounding the Germans on the American right giving their pressured infantry enough time to partially deploy to the hedgerow and an orchard outside the village. The Americans by this stage had lost four tanks.
But one of the remaining tanks at least made a valiant effort to contain the German advance. Managing to destroy a Panzer IV and a Stummel in a single engagement.
But the cautious advance of the Germans was slowly pushing the Americans back from the Village. Artillery fire was ridirected against the centre of the village in an attempt to close down or destroy German armour.
The last throw of the dice for the Americans was to use the M16 half track in its' lethal anti-personnel role (48 dice laid in to a German squad as direct fire saw it swiftly removed).
The Americans (i.e.me) were forced to concede. And retire hurriedly.
Myself and Mark had been trading morale checks for a number of turns and it was only with drawing a pair of fours at the end of the game that I came to defeat. I turned out Mark was only one point off of defeat himself, and drawing a heroic action and air attack were the only reason he hadn't broken long before. In the end a close battle, but one in which my armour performed desperately badly, whilst my infantry proved grimly determined.
We neglected to roll for spotting throughout the game, but as both sides failed to it probably equalled out. I had wanted to play a 500 point game, but on reflection Mark was right to restrict us to 300, which took a good four hours to set up and play. The extra units were a contributing factor to this, both of us had battlegroup commanders to ensure a reasonable number of commands per turn.
Interestingly Mark played a force devoid of any artillery support, which could have given me an advantage, but in the end I was unable to spot really juicy targets from the hill my observer deployed to and so the artillery I could call in was of limited effect.
Until the next time that is...