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, 24 September 2017

Blocking Action at Neuville 6th June 1944 - A WRG 1925-50 Re-Fight

Issue 50 of Miniature Wargaming carried a very interesting article, the first in a series, on the actions of the US 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day.  This concerned the fight of a platoon led by Lt Turnbull of D Coy, 505 Para Regt to hold the village of Neuville against any German counter-attacks (there is a little information on the action here).

The scenario basically pits a US platoon in defence, supported with a 57mm ATG, against a German infantry company supported by a little armour.  I don't have any US infantry in 6mm, so I used a British platoon instead.  Similarly, the Germans used French tanks and an unidentified SP gun which I don't have, I substituted a Pz IV platoon instead.

Orders of Battle:

The Allies:

British Inf Pl: 
HQ: 1 x Rifle group, 1x PIAT team, 2 x 2" mortars, 2 x Vickers HMG teams, 1 x 6lb anti-tank gun
3 x Rifle Sections: 2 x Rifle Groups, 1x LMG

The Germans:
HQ: 1 x Rifle Group, 2 x HMG teams
1 x Pz IV Platoon (4 tanks)
3 x Platoons:
HQ: 1 x Rifle group, 1 x Pzsck team
3 x Sections: 2 x Rifle Groups, 1 x LMG

The Germans were not expecting resistance so must march straight down the road until they are fired upon or see the enemy.  The German armour must also move straight down the road until they reach the furthest forward German element or are fired upn by an anti-tank weapon.

The Battle:

The battlefield, looking from Neuville towards the crossroads from where the Germans advanced.  In fact, there was a small change made to the terrain before I started: the map with the scenario showed a hedgeline just below and to the right of the bridge (from this view); but the accounts make clear that there was a clear field of fire here, so if the hedgeline existed, it must have been fairly low or in a ditch.  To avoid confusion, I removed it.

With the troops deployed.  The Brit platoon is strung along the hedgerows just above the village on both sides of the road, the Germans are marching down the road in column(!).

A view from the left flank of the British position

And from behind the head of the advancing column of German grenadiers

The Germans march down the road.  The British section to the left of the village has pushed up to the farm besides the road; an HMG has been set up by the junction to observe down the road, and the anti-tank gun is being wheeled into a position to support it from the edge of town

Another view of the German advance; the British HMG at the junction can be more easily made out; the section around the farmhouse are still quite hard to spot!

Another view

The British machineguns crackle into a life and a hail of lead hits the German column.  Mostly the Germans have hit the dirt, but the lead LMG team has been eliminated.

Another view of the same

The firefight continues; some of the Germans try to get into better cover; note the platoons following have broken left and right respectively into the woods to try and launch an immediate counter-attack

This can be seen better in this shot

The fire is too hot for the leading Germans to do much!  The company commander tries to organize the support

A couple more Germans become casualties, but mainly the lead Germans are just suppressed.  However, the German MMGs are about to come into action

A keen eye might spot elements of the 2nd and 3rd German platoons skirting along the edges of the small wood in both directions

The cavalry arrive! A platoon of PzIVs come to save the day

The German HMG fire has made the leading farm too hot to hold; four paratroopers become casualties, the rest withdraw under the cover of a little smoke

Meanwhile the 6lb AT gun crew and supporting infantry keep a close eye on the road; note that the Vickers has been redeployed now to cover the flank

The leading PzIV is knocked out by the 6lb gun.  Most of the leading German platoon has now reached the relative safety of the woods or has been eliminated.  And it is "relative" safety: the British mortars continue a relentless shelling of the area around the top end of the bridge

Discretion becomes the better part of valour; the German panzers are reluctant to advance further without infantry support but the leading German platoon is not really in a fit state to advance; thus the panzers wait for the flank attacks to develop

One can see the German infantry advancing gingerly around each flank; the British have redeployed their second Vickers to cover the right

In an exchange of fire, one of the Vickers guns is eliminated by the Germans

The Germans occupy one of the farmhouses, whilst the remainder of the platoon is in a position to give fire support

The Germans attack! 

Meanwhile, the Vickers on the British right flank opens fire on the advancing German platoon

The British lose this exchange too!  The Vickers is eliminated; however that lead group is about to be hit be very accurate British mortar fire.

There is a very bloody close-quarters exchange of fire at the edge of the wood: both sides take significant casualties; the Bren gun team in the woods is about to surrender

The British Pl, about to be outflanked on both flanks, gives up and heads for home

The remaining troops escape safely enough
 Game Notes: The game resembled real life events quite closely.  The initial ambush proving strong enough to blunt the German advance, but German numbers telling when the double-envelopment was carried out.  The WRG 1925-1950 rules continue to give excellent games; all the reactions really do feel believable, although I am sure that is because I can trust myself to play each unit according to their orders and largely ignore the god-view of the player.  Head-to-head WW2 gaming is genuinely hard to get right!  A few years back on TMP, Too Fat Lardies' designer Richard Clarke wondered why he sold more copies of Kriegspiel to C20 wargamers than Napoleonic ones.  My answer is that the umpired hidden movement mechansims are much more important to a WW2 game than they are to a Napoleonic game (although they are often neglected in the latter).  So although in many WW2 games I use a very good solitaire system to act as the AI, in this battle I didn't feel it necessary.  Once the "geometry" of the action was set up, I felt able to give orders to each side without having to "play" one side or the other.  Plus, although the "Threat Generation System" I have been using for WW2 solo play is very good, I tend to think it works better currently for actions which are a little more fluid.  On the other hand, this would make a perfect Nuts! attack/defence scenario.  Anyway, the rules are quick, easy to understand and are pleasingly realistic.  Infantry platoons spend a lot of time halted in cover, trying to avoid being hit by fire and finding ways to suppress those who are suppressing them. I did forget to give the new souped-up MG rules I was thinking of introducing a try unfortunately, although I didn't notice this until the end.  Somehow it doesn't seem to matter so much in these slightly bigger games.  Incidentally, this scenario gave some good opportunities to use the area fire mechanism for machineguns.  It worked okay, although I thought that 5-6 to hit (i.e 1-in-3) in the beaten zone at 250m seemed a bit ungenerous to the machinegunners?
This scenario can easily be played on a table 1m x 1m at 1mm:1m ground scale, so is very suitable for those players with small tables.  Figures by Baccus 6mm and GHQ, buildings mainly by Leven, tanks by GHQ.



  1. Nice to see a WWII action on a small table. I have fond memories of those rules. I am pretty sure that I have played this scenario before in boardgame format and wonder whether the swap out of the vintage French tanks (from memory) for nice Pz IV's gives favour to the German force. Regardless, a nice action.

    1. Many thanks Norm. In certain circumstances, it might make a little difference (related to the power of its HE round), but it wouldn't change the central dynamics at this range with these rules. The difference in armour wouldn't make any odds to the weapons that the defenders can bring to bear: a 57mm ATG/6lb or bazooka/PIAT and AT grenades. It would only make a difference, I think, if one could be knocked out by an HMG and the other couldn't.

  2. I've done Neuville a coupe of times too (also using that old WI article). tbh with the ranges and terrain, whether the German tanks are Pz IVs or H39s doesn't make much difference. We just used what we had (which was a Char B and some FT-17s!). The 6pdr still tore great big holes in them.

    1. BTW Martin, have you had a go at the next article in this series (the Action at La Fière?

  3. Yes, exactly; which is precisely what happened here: the 6pdr/57mm knocked out the first tank, it traded (missed) shots with another tank as it retreated and then there was stalemate as the German armour waited for the supporting infantry attack to go in.

  4. Are you using the second edition WRG 1925-1950 rules?

  5. I am using the first edition, with some authorial amendments written in so it has "second edition" written on the cover.