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.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Battle of the Brickworks 1944 - A WRG 1925-50 Refight

Today I refought a scenario first published in Miniature Wargames 56, the Battle of the Brickworks.

It concerned an attack by a Canadian infantry company against a defended brickworks to the south of Bagnacavallo.  It is supported by some 75mm-armed Chruchills, which were considered to be a better bet for HE support against entrenched Germans, or those deployed in cover.

Orders of Battle:

Allied:
Inf Coy (from the Royal 22nd Regiment), c.80 men
Tank Pl: 3 x Churchill NA75 from 3 Troop, A Sqn 12 RTR (incidentally the only war-time raised RTR Bn without a full wiki entry)

Support:
6 x Spitfire V (with 2x20mm cannon, 4xMGs)
25lb battery (8 guns - could be reduced to 4 in the scenario for game balance)

There are some engineers finishing a bailey bridge (which I didn't represent); they will finish the bridge in d6-1 turns from the start.

Germans ("The Teds"):
Inf Coy: c.80 men.
+1 x Panther

The Panther was optional: it would enter on the roll of a '6' on a D6 from Turn 6 onwards...

The Terrain:

The large waterfeature is a canal with a pontoon bridge just being finished (top-right); I don't have a massive building to use as the brickworks, so I made an "industrial complex" instead (top-left); time for an order to one of the building manufacturers perhaps?!  The small water features are actually drainage ditches, so are below the surrounding terrain.

View from the German side from behind "The Brickworks"; the dark areas represent the German slit trench systems; all the trenches are linked

And the view from behind the villas

And from behind the Allied lines
 The Deployment:

The German infantry company is mainly in the slit trenches to the left, with the mortars, the Coy HQ and a few reserves in some of the buildings; the Canadian infantrymen are behind the treeline to the left of the canal, on both sides; the Churchills are out of the way (extreme top-right)

And the view from behind the deployed German company

A closer shot of the Canadians at their jump-off point
 The Battle:
Smoke starts landing in front of the German positions...

Until the smoke becomes nice and thick, covering the front of the German positions

The Canadian infantry starts it advance; also note that one platoon is advancing cautiously through the villas (top)

The advance continues...

The German commander cunningly re-positioned a squad and a Panzerschreck team to see any movement to the flank of the smokescreen; they see the lead Canadians and suppress them with rifle fire (good shooting at that distance!)

The main body of the Canadian company is nearing the relative safety of a drainage ditch; the flanking platoon is stuck, not wishing to risk casualties by too much aggressive action

Whoops! The Panther approaches.  The lead Churchill (top-right) actually managed to get off a shot, hit the Panther, only to realize that a frontal shot at c.500m is only likely to knock off its headlights...the crew make a hasty reverse.  Fortunately the Panther misses with its return shots.

Would cowering be too strong a word here?  Of course, what the canny Commonwealth troops are doing is working out if the Panther will advance into PIAT range, or show a flank to one of the Churchills.

Naturally, the Panther crew has no intention of doing anything so silly.  With infantry support and better armour, it dares the Churchills to come out; realizing that there is no choice, the Churchills do just that and sure enough, one is quickly knocked out.
 I am missing a good photo of the tank duel, but the Churchills pressed on, the Panther missed its next shot and one of the Churchills managed to hit with a flank shot and knock out the Panther.
A combination of a devastating air-strike and artillery bombardment destroys the German infantry's morale;  the Canadians successfully assault, although some elements get pinned by LMG fire from the industrial complex.

One Canadian platoon has successfully cleared the trench complex (right) and the German infantry have routed; another Canadian platoon is launching its attack but the rest of the German infantry has routed

The textbook operation is over!  Victory to the Commonwealth...
 
 Game Notes:
Quite an interesting scenario, and the result went more or less historically, with the exception that in real life, the Panther didn't turn up.  The Germans were first forced from the slit trenches and then forced out of the brickworks by HE fire.  However, in the refight, the Panther did turn up, which to my mind meant that the game hinged on the tank fight; if the Churchills had all been destroyed, or the troop had failed its morale check, it is difficult to see how the Commonwealth could have succeeded: air attacks with 20mm cannons and machineguns are totally useless in these rules against Panthers, as is indirect 25lb fire.  Amusingly enough, I forget to check the stats for the 75mm vice the 6lber before play - so I got the shock of my life when I realized that these Churchills were not going to be taking out a Panther from the frontal arc!  This is quite different from the 6lb gun, which does have an even chance under 500m.  However, once the Churchill troop did manage to knock out the Panther, a text book combination of air attack, savage artillery bombardment then whirlwind infantry assault from close range saw off the Germans in short order.  In real life, the artillery fired 25lb HE all the way in and the tanks did much of the work moving through the villas then hammering the defenders with direct fire HE.
I did incorporate a couple of changes to the WRG 1925-1950 rules which I have discussed recently; I rules that static Bren guns could have a second fire at a different target within 50m of a first target, as long as it had at least suppressed that target; MG42s and Vickers could a have a third fire.  And troops with a covered escape route could choose to retire even whilst suppressed.  Both rule changes worked well; hardly changing the flow of the game but probably increasing slightly the realism of the result.

Figures were a mixture of Baccus 6mm and GHQ,  vehicles were all GHQ.

5 comments:

  1. Very good. The author re-visited this scenario in a recent issue of MW (about a year ago I think), though from memory had converted in to an east front setting to match his current collection - which includes the most splendid brick kiln.

    Your write ups have encourage me to look at the recent reprint of the rules, which has been combined with their sister modern set. I am still on the fence, but just for nostalgia sake, to get such a significant piece of my early wargaming history back into my hands in a very presentable package is likely to make me jump for it. Thanks for the posts and thoughts.

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  2. That's interesting, I will have to have a look and see if I have that issue of MW. I stopped my subscription about a year ago (not due to a drop in the quality of the magazine, but to the cessation of pdf format) so it could go either way.

    I too am thinking of getting the recent reprint. My copy is the free one that used to be on the WRG website, but recent comments on TWW have made me think I should at least have a look at the updated set.

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  3. What year was the reprint ? I think my set is a 90s version

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    Replies
    1. It was reprinted last year in a combined volume with the most recent modern set: http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-barker/wargames-rules-for-all-arms-land-warfare-from-platoon-to-battalion-level/paperback/product-22849144.html

      Check out this thread http://www.thewargameswebsite.com/forums/topic/suppression-and-withdrawal/ for a short discussion of the history of these rules.

      All the best

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