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.

Tuesday 31 January 2023

The Gembloux Gap Battle 6: Across The Dyle

The final scenario of the Too Fat Lardies' Taking the Gembloux Gap pint-sized campaign is the attempt to take Court St.Etienne as 3 Panzer Division moves towards the Dyle before the French engineers can blow up the approaches.


The French are really up against the wall: they have committed their last platoon, the Germans have one in reserve, and they will get three attempts at getting just two units off the board...

As ever, the rules used for these are John D Salt's 'Farquhar Variant'  of the WRG rules.

The Forces:

1 x Rifle Comd Gp
2 x Rifle Gp
2 x Rifle+LMG Gp
1 x 25mm anti-tank gun
2 x Renault R35
1 x Panhard armoured car 

The Germans:
1 x Rifle Comd Gp
4 x Rifle Gp
2 x GPMG Gp

1 x Sdkfz 222
1 x motorcycle section (dismounted) 1 x Rifle Gp, 1 x GPMG Gp
1 x le.IG18

The Set-Up

The railway station around Court St. Etienne - the Germans are approaching from the right

Renault R35s and a rifle section on the right of the French position

The French platoon command is in the two-storey building (bottom-left); another French section is in the gardens and the building with the lean-to; the Panhard and the 25mm anti-tank gun cover the left flank

The Battle:
German infantry turn up: a rifle squad and a dismounted motorcycle squad

They patrol stealthily through the woods around the train tracks

An Sdkfz 222 arrives

As does more German infantry

Having not located anything, the Sdkfz 222 just advances down the road; the 25mm anti-tank gun engages: one miss, one hit - which fails to penetrate!!!!

The Sdkfz 222 gunner makes no such mistake, and his fire kills or scares off the French anti-tank gun crew

The Sdkfz 222 then drives straight into the Panhard's arcs...

..which promptly misses! The Sdkfz 222 advances on towards the Dyle, oblivious...

Meanwhile the German infantry has advanced forward but been ambushed - an MG34 crew is cut down, the other German infantry are kept suppressed by fire from the French infantry in the buildings and the Renault R35 tanks

More and more German infantry join the firing line, including an le.IG18...

And in a few moments, it is all over! Fire eliminates the entire French squad covering their right flank, and again French morale collapses in an instant!

French panic is total, everyone runs/drives back to the Dyle to escape the onslaught

Game Notes: 

Again, a game with some great points, and I can't complain about any individual event, but the French collapse was a bit dispiriting - the failure of important shots and morale checks was pretty much 100%.  So the campaign overall has been great fun, although the German seemed to steamroller through the French in the last few games.  I hope that anyone who has followed it, I hope it was an interesting read.  When  I next do this, I think I will try a different French infantry organization to make them a little tougher as opponents, and perhaps try some different support choices. There may be a little work to do in terms of deciding the organization of these "Platoon plus" forces to make them optimally resilient in terms of the rules (and I don't think I have always been 100% consistent in the application).  And if nothing else, I think there has been a definite improvement in the look of these games over the years (although there is still a way to go there).

German figures by Baccus 6mm, French by Heroics and Ros, as are the vehicles; buildings mainly by Leven with a couple by Battlescale.

The Gembloux Gap Battle 5: Defending the Heights

The next scenario in the Too Fat Lardies' Taking the Gembloux Gap campaign sees 3rd Panzer moving on towards the wooded heights above their final objective.  Thankfully for the French, they are allowed to deploy their final platoon to defend it, although this platoon has to last them until the end of the campaign.  On the minus side, the Germans can bring their armour back in to action again now, having had it rested in the last action.


As previously, the tactical rules being used are the John D Salt-penned "Farquhar Variant" of the WRG Modern 1950-1985 rules, reverse engineered to apply to WW2.

The Forces:

The French:
1 x Rifle Comd Gp
1 x Rifle + RGr Gp
3 x Rifle + LMG Gps
3 x Rifle Gps
1 x Panhard armoured car
1 x 25mm anti-tank gun 

The Germans:
1 x SMG Comd Gp
4 x Rifle Gps
2 x GPMG Gps

1 x Pioneer Gp
1 x PzIVB2
1 x battery of 105mm howitzers in support

The Set-Up:

The battlefield: the Germans are approaching from the bottom

The French platoon commander and the rifle grenadiers are in the buildings, the three rifle sections are deployed in the hedges and in the woods, the Panhard is just off the Y-junction to the left and the 25mm anti-tank gun is covering the road

Another view

The armoured car and the anti-tank gun

French infantry in the woods

The Battle:

German Pioneers to the fore again

They advance in the woods to the left

Not much happens...then the German artillery starts pounding the buildings and the woods (pre-planned strike)

And in an utter disaster for the French, the Platoon command group and the rifle grenadiers are all killed or wounded in the first moments of the bombardment!! Much of the French infantry is neutralized but not killed, thankfully

A Panzer IV arrives

The German pioneers advance gingerly forwards

The French infantry tries to pull back!

The French riflemen wait for a gap in the bombardment before retreating further...four more are cut down before they can get back...

The Panzer IV advances - but is acquired by both the Panhard and the 25mm anti-tank gun

The French shooting is awful! Only a single round hits...and that fails to penetrate the Panzer IV's frontal armour.  The panzer commander raises a swift prayer to heaven that he is in a new Panzer IVB...a IVA might have been toasted at this point

His own gunner is in more inspired form, hitting the Panhard and knocking it out in short order!

The bombardment has lifted and the Pioneers are advancing...not quickly enough to catch the retiring French infantry though!

The French run in pure panic!

The Panzer IV kills some of them whilst escaping...

Until finally they make their escape

The position is cleared before the German infantry even arrive(!)

 Game Notes: 

Well, I won't say it wasn't fun, as there was a certain jaw-dropping quality to every time I thought it couldn't get worse for the got worse for the French.  I don't think there was anything individually implausible about any of this, it was just that put together, it was almost a comedy of disasters.  The last French platoon has been gutted whilst the German second platoon is still in reasonable fighting is looking grim now...but it could all have been so different - one of the Panhard or the anti-tank gun should have been able to knock out the Panzer IV!

Figures and buildings as in the last game (Baccus, H&R, Leven)

The Gembloux Gap Battle 4: Get the Guns!

The next action in the Too Fat Lardies' Taking the Gembloux Gap campaign is entitled "Get the Guns!" As 3 Panzer Division rolls forward, it came across the French gun lines.

If you followed the events of the previous action in the campaign, the French platoon was absolutely massacred with only a handful of survivors escaping.  However, the French cannot reinforce with a fresh platoon at this point in the campaign.  This battle therefore has only a token French force trying to cause some minimal casualties to the advancing Germans of the 3rd Rifle Regiment before they are overwhelmed and forced to retreat.  In the ruleset being used - the Farquhar Variant of the WRG rules - small platoons are quite sensitive to casualties so the French were set up to not last that long...we shall see what transpired!


The Forces:

The French:
1 x Rifle Comd Gp
1 x Rifle Gp
1 x Rifle + LMG Gp
1 x Panhard 
1 x 75mm howitzer and crew
The Germans:
1 x SMG Comd Gp
4 x Rifle Gp
2 x GPMG teams
Reinforced by:
1 x Coy Comd (SMG comd Gp)
1 x Motorcycle section (3 x m/c or 1 x Rifle gp, 1 x GPMG if dismounted) 
1 x Pioneer demolitions team
1 x MFC Gp (supported by 4 x 8cm mortars)
1 x Car

Set Up:

Fields, woods, a couple of buildings...the Germans are approaching from the top-right

The French Platoon commander is located in the bottom building (left), the infantry section is by the hedge by the road, the armoured car is in the bottom woods (bottom) and the gun is in the garden of the top house

The Battle:

the observer for the German mortars and the pioneers turn up first (top-right); but the sleepy soldats don't spot them

The Germans creep forward, covered by the wheatfields, unaware that the French platoon commander has spotted them from the second floor of the building

A German rifle squad arrives and begins to patrol towards the woods - thay have acquired a vehicle from somewhere, but choose to leave it by the road for the present

When the German mortar controller team and the pioneers reach the edge of the wood, the French infantry in the hedgeline open up on them

Only a few scratches, but it does send the Germans scurrying back into the centre of the wheatfield.  No one identified the source of fire, either.  Note that the German section going through the woods has reached the edge (top).

More German infantry follows up towards the wheatfield, including the Platoon and Company Commander to the rear - the latter sends a runner through the woods to order a right flanking attack.

Note that some of the French riflemen pulled back from the hedge around the house, in case the Germans decide to plaster the hedge.

The German Squad begins its attack on the flank - which the Panhard entirely fails to spot! Sun in their eyes?!?!?

The group of German riflemen advancing...

..and reaches the garden wall unscathed (and indeed, unspotted)

Creeping up behind the howitzer team, they get the drop on them - both are surprised, but the French artillery crew the more so...

The crew is killed, injured or captured and the gun taken!

Hearing the firing from the flank, the French retreat!

The main body of the Germans don't even see the French before they have run off!

Game Notes: 

Hmm, well. It was kind of fun whilst it lasted and I don't think I can fault it for realism but it wasn't really much of a game - the way the morale factors stacked up, the French would have been okay as long as they didn't roll a '1'...and of course, a '1' was duly rolled.  I let the chips fall where they may in these games though and off went the French.  I'm not normally one to comment on the bravery or cowardice of my tin soldiers, but I think it is fair to say that the French platoon commander has probably suffered enough and needs to be relieved rather urgently.  Nothing went quite right for the French - they ambushed the first Germans, but didn't convert that into meaningful casualties; the inter-locking arcs were done quite well, but the Panhard crew just didn't see the infiltrating German infantry.  So converting the game into pseudo-reality, what happened?  A small bunch of German soldiers advanced through a wheatfield, attracted some French LMG and rifle fire, which (at best) caused a very light wound or two, but chased off the Germans; silence descended on the battlefield; a German company commander sent a runner to a flank protection squad to probe forward; the German squad commander sent a few riflemen up ahead covered by his MG34 team; no-one saw anything; then the German riflemen suddenly found themselves at the back of a French artillery team at point-blank range, who they then shot or drove off; hearing the shots from behind his left flank, the French platoon commander, commanding a very scratch force, decided the game was up and ordered a retreat.  Virtually no-one saw anyone else or fired on anyone else.  Can this be faulted in anyway?

The only noteworthy thing about the rules in this one is that when one rolls to locate enemies, then you are kind of tied in to remembering which element has acquired which element. In some situations, this can get a bit confusing at times.  It wasn't too bad in this game, but definitely something to remember.  Apart from that, all straightforward.

Germans by Baccus 6mm, French by Heroics and Ros; buildings by Leven I think.  The fences are the ones from Commission Figurines.