Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Action at St. Jean - a fictional WW2 scenario

Action at St-Jean, mid-September 1944

General Situation: A small Canadian armoured company with some infantry, artillery and light tank support is ordered to take a village in France during the German retreat and destroy an isolated German HQ element there.  However, the Germans have actually established a supply depot in the village, and the Germans are trying to evacuate their precious supplies before the Canadians take them.

The Forces:
1 x Armd Coy (6 x Sherman Is, 2 x Fireflys)
1 x Motor Platoon (Inf Pl in 4 x M5 half-tracks)
1 x Recce Platoon (3 x Honeys)
Battery of 4 x 25pdrs in support, with FOO in Bren carrier.

1 x Pz Gr Coy (2 x Pz Gr Pls with 3 x 251/1, 3 x trucks for transport)
1 x AT Pl (3 x Pak40 + movers)
Battery of 3 x 105mm howitzers in support, with FOO in Kubelwagen
10 x (captured British!) trucks used for moving supplies

German Deployment:

The position from the South - German units marked on.  The Canadians with be coming from the top-left (Northwest)
 First Blood:

Sorry for the horrendous photo; anyway, the anti-tank gun covering the approach road destroys the oblivious lead Honey.
The Main Advance:

The Canadian Main Body advances, while the remaining Honeys retreat off the road; the Canadian artillery fires smoke to cover the Honey's retreat.  However, the next Pak40 has line-of-sight to the Sherman on the Canadian left flank...

The Pak40 promptly destroyed a Sherman, but some good Canadian fire-and-movement destroyed that Pak40 quickly afterwards, without further loss.  The Canadians then advanced toward the junction between church and village, only troubled by some unusually effective German artillery; the Canadian artillery is now dropping lots of smoke onto the village. In the right foreground, the destroyed vehicle is one of the German supply trucks hit at long range by a Sherman.  The Canadians still haven't realized what is really going on yet, however.

 Crux of the Battle:

The Canadian Armour outflanks  the village to the East and drives right into the sights of the last PAk40...which promptly misses!! The Canadian tankers make no such mistake however and the PAk40 is itself eliminated (the overturned base you can see just by the top of the church);  Shermans eliminate other supply trucks and the rest scatter to save themselves.  By this point, the Germans had loaded about 60% of their supplies; but after this destruction, only just over 40% was brought out on the surviviing 7 trucks.  Canadian infantry de-bussing has been hit by German infantry occupying the last house in the village and the machine guns on the hill to the right.

Same position, just slightly moved round for another view.
 End of the Battle:

Canadian infantry suppress then successfully assaulted the house, and the Germans subsequently failed their morale test.  The two leading Shermans were missed by the re-deployed Pak40, but were both destroyed by Panzerfausts.  However, HE from the supporting Shermans and Canadian artillery persuaded this German platoon to retreat too.  With most of the Germans in retreat, the battle was more or less ended here.

On balance, a Canadian victory - they had taken the town and destroyed/captured a large chunk of the supplies.  It was very hard fought though; the Canadians had lost six tanks (five Shermans, one Honey) knocked out and eight infantrymen, the Germans 20 or so grenadiers, two AT guns,  three trucks and a Hanomag.

Game Notes:
Thanks very much to my two commanders - I played this game solo using orders provided for each side by two very kind volunteers, who both really got into the spirit of it and sent detailed, realistic and clear orders (at least I hope they were clear and I followed them more-or-less correctly!!).  As I'd hoped, using this method enabled me to play out the battle with each side making mistakes that they wouldn't have made during a head-to-head or a typical solitaire game.  Hopefully I did them both justice! I was reasonably happy with the old WRG 1925-1950 rules for company actions, but I am 'rusty' using them - hopefully play will be a bit smoother after a I start using them more regularly.  There was some discussion of them and useful thoughts on TMP here
Both plans were good, but the Germans were slightly hobbled I thought by some below-par AT shooting (although this was compensated for partially by some *very* effective artillery support!) whilst the Canadians profitted by some very good tank gunnery.  The Germans opted to make a big effort to lift a large quantity of supplies quickly (using most of two platoons) which would have probably given them victory if the Canadian plan hadn't been to to advance with full-speed on that very point! The Canadians ability to concentrate their forces helped too.

The scenario itself was based on a 1940 scenario published in Miniature Wargames 001 but set in 1944 to match my model collection.  If anyone wants the maps and briefings, just let me know in the comments and I'll be more than happy to pass them on,

Apologies for the (even by my standards) poor photos, and thanks once again to my two intrepid commanders!


  1. John, thank you for allowing us to participate in your game. I've been thinking lots on how to add fog of war effects to my table top games for a little while now, and this game has given me fore food for though.

    Overall an interesting tactical problem, and I'm glad to see the plan more or less worked despite the Canadian rapid advance.

    - Aron Clark (California)

  2. It was a pleasure, Aron, thank you very much for playing. It was a very different - and much better - experience for having made a stab at introducing the fog of war into the game. Tactical WW2 war games just do not feel right to me without it, locating then bringing effective fire on the enemy being one of the key tactical problems.

    Best regards