Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Operation Martlet (Revisited) Mission 3 - Attack on the Hauptkampflinie

The Scenario: The advancing British, having dealt with the German defensive outposts, must now attack the main German defence line.

The Forces: The British rifle platoon from the Royal Scots Fusiliers is still more or less at full strength, so I kept it in action.  For this battle, it was reinforced with two Shermans, an extra rifle section and a FOO for a 3" mortar battery.
The German Panzer Grenadier Pl was very weak by now, so it was quite a difficult decision as to whether to replace it or not. I decide to leave it in there, feeling that there were at least three more battles to go and I would bring in the replacement platoon for the next battle.  I chose a PzIVG to support it.

The Terrain:

The main German defensive position around the chateau of Fontenay; the Scots will again approach from the left (Northwest)

A different angle on the Chateau, outbuildings and junction

And another angle; obviously that large open expanse doesn't look too inviting!!
The Battle

The Scots Fusiliers cautiously edge through the trees at the bottom of the gardens, covered by another rifle section, when a click alerts them to the presence of German infantry (bottom-right, in the trees); neither side can acquire the other though.

Another view, this time from behind the German section, sadly reduced in strength after the hard fighting in the earlier missions!

The British bring up a Sherman to support when out pops a hidden German section in ambush!! A panzerfaust screams out and brews up the Sherman, whilst the MG42 team cut down the Bren gunners mere yards away!!!

A confusing firefight begins; two distinct German positions makes it harder for the Scotsmen to concentrate their firepower on a single target

The Scots' Corporal doesn't panic, but instead delivers a volley of grenades and rifle fire into the German position; for grenadiers are hors de combat and the MG42 team is suppressed by the flanking fire from the rest of the British platoon (right)

A flukey shot eliminates a second German MG42!

Just as the Scots think that they are safe to advance (the previous German Grenadiers very understandably ran away) another German section ambushes them in the flank!!! 

A wider view of the situation at this point; you can see the Scots by the trees being ambushed by the Germans in the trench, the fleeing Germans just by the road (bottom-right); just out of shot to the left, more British infantry are firing from the trees

10 Scotsmen become casualties in short order, but finally the platoon commander gets sufficient weight of fire down on the German position, helped by mortar fire, and a brave Scottish corporal leads in the charge

But before you can say anything, the German Panzer support turns up!

Cannily, I had placed the second Sherman in a position to cover the road and it gets off first shot - the main determinant of victory in tank-vs-tank combat is who gets off the first shot..

...unless you miss of course, and the Panzer ace puts one straight in your turret.  Another Sherman brewed up!

Another aerial shot; note that the final Pz Gr section (extreme bottom centre) has lost its rifle group and the MG42 team is pinned down, the Germans have no infantry left now really

The PzIV makes a heroic advance to try and cause a few more casualties on the British and break their morale

But a good PIAT shot puts paid to this!

Losses: (very heavy!)
British: 2 x Shermans, 2 x LMGs, 2 x Rifle Groups
Germans: 1 x PzIVG, 2 x LMGs, 3 x Rifle Groups

Game Notes: Some might question the wisdom of the final German tank advance; basically, the Scotsmen were wavering and if they had lost another element, and taken the following morale check, it would probably have led to a retreat result and thus won the game for the Hitler Youths.  But to get that to happen, the Germans needed to try and at least achieve another neutralization result on something.
Tank combat continues to be very bloody.  I can't speak to the accuracy of this - do automatic kills of Shermans and PzIVs against each other at 500m make sense (assuming that the tanks hit in the first place)?  Even Tigers would have a hard time surviving on boards of this size; if I recall correctly, Panthers do stand a chance against frontal shots, but that is about it.

Update: Whilst looking at this issue, I found the following link.   Read down to the contemporary report about Shermans fighting Tigers and Panthers...around Rauray and Fontenay!!!!!

The Threat Generation System really showed what it could do in this game: the German defenders were generated in genuinely surprising and difficult positions.  I haven't bothered with simulating the initial artillery preparation bombardments, but if I had, there is no way that I'd have picked the locations that the Germans turned up in.  The flank ambushes gave the Scots real problems, and there was a "match point" morale roll that the Scots had to pass to continue.


As ever, figures by Baccus 6mm, the Shermans and PzIVG from GHQ, the buildings from Leven Miniatures and Timecast. Rules by WRG.  Played on a 3'x2' homemade mat, using a 1":10m ground scale.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, that was a hell of a fight, I thought your goose was cooked! The Brit armor continues to have a rough time, but the PIAT gunner at least got a little revenge for the PBI. I was very surprised the Brits were able to fight off the three German sections, two of which appeared to be in very good (flanking) ambush positions, with the first revealed pretty far off and in cover.

    But I guess that Scot Corporal was quite the firecracker! In any case, I imagine both platoons you've been using are fought out? I look forward to the next fight.

    V/R,
    Jack

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  2. Yes, quite a fight this one. How did the Scots get out of it...one instance of luck and the rest down to a rules...quirk? problem? The first German section in the woods was just unlucky: the Scots rolled a '6' at a key moment to turn a 'suppressed' result into a 'destroyed' result. But the main issue is that infantry elements - rifle groups and LMGs - can only suppress a single element per turn. So these reduced German sections of 1 x rifle group and 1 x LMG can only suppress a maximum of two Brit infantry elements in any given turn. If the Brits get their supporting fire sections placed right, then the turn after the Germans pop-up, they will probably be totally suppressed - "winning the firefight" and all that. Heavier MGs have a beaten zone which partially alleviates the issue, but even then, not totally. So the other two German sections popped up in ambush, got kills, forced the British to halt as a result of the subsequent morale checks, but were then suppressed by British rifle and Bren (and 2" mortar) fire from multiple firing points. In other rules, this might have gone far worse for the Scotsmen, and I tend to think it should have too. I'm not sure what the answer is. Maybe multiple shots for machineguns? 3 for the MG34/42, 2 for the Bren?

    Actually, I could have called this a German victory, thinking about it. Obviously the Germans were all killed or had run away by the end. But the Scots couldn't have advanced further (their morale couldn't have improved past a "halt" result) and as they had to advance... So what I should have done is refought the scenario with the Scots being reinforced back up to full strength and the full-strength replacement Panzergrenadier platoon in place. But I didn't! So, yes, both platoons are fought out. The unfortunate Panzergrenadiers are reduced to a section; the Scots could replace their losses and carry on, but it seems like a good point to let the Yorkshiremen carry on...

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  3. Oh, don't worry, I wasn't complaining about the Scots fighting their way out of the platoon-strong ambush, I was just a bit surprised, and liked the narrative of the brave Corporal doing his thing to get them out of it. Regarding the rules, I'm not sure, and it's always a toss up, as I can see it both ways. Some focus more on the firepower aspect, some put more stock in the numbers, some push for the small unit leadership. It all just comes down to taste, doing what you like. And I'm never shy about modifying whatever rules I'm using to get the right feel.

    It's been a lot of fun watching the platoons stand toe to toe and knock the heck out of each other, and that's an interesting concept of simply making them re-fight for that same ground. Either way, lots of fun and I'm looking forward to the next one.

    V/R,
    Jack

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jack,

      No, I didn't take it as a complaint, it is just a really interesting question, how much damage we think the Scots Fusiliers should have taken. The way I see it, the Germans had one very strong thing going for them: ambushing from 40m-50m from the flank. The things the British had going for them: the German ambush was sequential by squads, rather than the platoon at once (which allowed the Scots to always have superiority of fire); superior numbers, some of which were in cover; a section with an LMG enfilading the German trench positions.
      IIRC (it was a bit before my time!), the treatment of LMGs was one thing which changed for the 2nd edition of the rules, so I might have to look at how Phil Barker modified them. But I am becoming reasonably convinced that an MG42 should at least have the chance of being able to suppress a full British section. The other thing I am considering is instead of using a single card per turn to generate enemies, I will change to when one enemy is generated, another card can be immediately drawn, to give more chance of a more co-ordinated defence. It is too late for this campaign, which I have already finished - I'm just taking a little while doing the write-ups! - but I have a couple of one-off historical scenarios coming up that I can use to try them out.

      All the best

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