The fighting in the Kampfgruppe von Luck pint-sized campaign has now moved on into Le Bas de Ranville itself, as the Panzer Grenadiers of 21st Panzer Division attempt to build on their momentum and roll through 12 Para's defences.
Both 12 Para and KG von Luck field fresh platoons for this battle, as the troops from previous battles are now exhausted, if not dead, wounded or prisoners.
This is the 3rd Platoon of the combined 8th-7th Kompanie force.
Once again, the rules are that unpublished set, with strong inspiration from the WRG 1950-1985 Modern Rules 2nd edition, which have been discussed on previous battle reports.
To make things a bit easier to follow, I have shown the set-up with all the Paras outside of the buildings (having a quick brew and fag?!?) before the action starts, although most of these elements were inside buildings when the action began.
|3 Section is defending the rear line of buildings, with the sniper forward; 2 Section has the forward line of buildings, with some riflemen in reserve in the end 2-storey middle building.|
|And a wider view; the hedgeline 3/4 of the way up marks the 'edge of the inhabitable world' in the manner of a video game, by the way; more discussion of this in the game notes. The ploughed fields beyond are purely decorative.|
|1 Section has its Bren on the flank (top); some of its riflemen behind the hedges (left) and others in a small patch of wood (centre-right); this section is dug-in.|
|And one more table-wide view, just for luck.|
|A German section enters the orchard|
|3 Pl Commander enters at the front too|
|The Germans cautiously advance forward through the orchards, the Platoon commander one bound behind|
|All the rank is at the front for this one. The Kompanie Commander arrives along with another Panzer Grenadier squad|
|Covered by both the MG42s, some grenadiers get over the wall and into the road|
|The Grenadiers reach the stone wall...|
|When the chatter of a Bren opens up enfilading from the flank (centre-left, you can 'just' see a bit of them by the tree) and the Panzer Grenadiers are cut down in an instant|
|Locating their target, the MG42s open up, their sound tearing up the air...|
|And after a brief exchange of fire, the Bren team is cut down in its turn|
|Avoiding the fire, the second squad and the Kompanie commander go left flanking...|
|Taxi!?! The commander's car and one of the platoon's French APCs turn up.|
|The shooting having ceased, the Germans resume their advance|
|A wider shot|
|The Germans have got as far forward as the road without too many hitches now|
|A Werfer strike goes in, killing the PIAT team and the platoon sniper; most of the troops in the buildings are suppressed or neutralized for the present|
sFH13 auf Lorraine Schlepper (f) arrives to assist - it was a bad time for the PIAT team to go down|
|The Germans are slowly edging further forward, into the fields beyond the wall (centre-left)|
|Then, disaster! The German Platoon Commander becomes a casualty, ambushed by the Paras in the small cluster of trees over the wall|
|Then the FOO calls in a mortar strike on the German troops in the wood and the orchard - one of the MG42 teams is knocked out, and most of the remainder are suppressed.|
|The Germans have resumed their advance down the road, but the MG42 teams are still locked in a short-range but surprisingly bloodless battle with the Paras in the trees (left)|
|The black counters placed under the bases of the houses mark which ones were hit in the Werfer bombardment|
|A Panzerschrek team turns up, accompanying the Panzerschrek team that should have been with the Platoon commander but unaccountably got lost on the way...|
|The Para riflemen win another firefight and dispose of another MG42 team...|
|Hit by another mortar strike and having suffered some serious losses, the Panzer Grenadier Platoon's morale is shot and they try and withdraw - but the mortar bombs are still landing around the orchard and the road|
|The first German attack has petered out|
A British victory: the Paras suffered 6 casualties, the Panzer Grenadiers suffered at least 15, with a further 6 missing...
A good game, although the Panzer Grenadiers' attack seemed to wilt at a slightly surprising moment - although perhaps it was just me, knowing that without the PIAT that 15cm sFH13 auf Lorraine Schlepper (f) would probably have won the game for the Germans just by blasting the remaining Paras out of the houses. However, since the Germans couldn't have known that, and the remaining Paras in the buildings were not firing in order to remain difficult to acquire, it did seem justified, I guess. The Paras' used their mortar support to good effect in this one, although it is much less dangerous and covers much less areas than the Werfer barrage the Germans got, it really pays to be in some kind of hard cover in these rules when under area fire.
The eagle-eyed observer will note that not only am I using a smaller board than usual for this battlefield (2'x2', rather than the 3'x2' I typically use for these refights), but that I reduced the size of the board even more on purpose, by taking away the top 5" or so! What madness is this?!?!
It is because Chain of Command is really designed to replicate an area of only (roughly) 240m x 160m. Played according to the suggested ground scale, that would mean a table size of 24cm x 16cm - truly micro-gaming!!!. I elongate the scenarios usually to cover an area of approximately 450m x 300m, more than 3.5 times the area, using a ground scale of 1cm = 5m. A four-rifle infantry element therefore covers 15m from end man to end man. A bit close but not inconceivable, although 30m would be better in the open. Anyway, all of that mostly does not matter, but in the more 'urban' set-ups it really does, hence the use of a reduced size board here.
One 'matter arising' from the game is the subject of withdrawal through fire. When the Panzer Grenadiers' morale failed at the closing stages of the battle, some of the them had a withdrawal route which would allow them to get away from known enemy positions, but going through a mortar barrage to do it. What are your thoughts on the realism of this - I would be very interested to know what readers think? I have always been partial to the Squad Leader rules (summarized) that if you are in cover you can stay put, otherwise you can only withdraw if you aren't in LOS and effective enemy range.
On the campaign side, the pressure is really on the Germans now - they MUST win the next battle or they will lose the campaign (they won't have enough time left to clear the entirety of the village).