After the battering Erste Zug suffered in the last action they had to do some serious re-organising, so much so in fact that they were dangerously close to being ‘Trigger’s Broom’*.
To defend against the victorious Jocks I had to do a fair bit of reorganising due to the severe losses I suffered in the last fight. This caused me to go for 2 5-man Rifle squads with J/L’s from the support lists to bolster my force. I added the 2 suvivors of 1. & 2. Gruppe and the 2 blokes returning from the hospital to them to give a 2 man LMG team in each, with an additional member added from the ersatz riflemen. Mike also said that as he used more than his allotted HE rounds from his deadeye mortar team in the first game I could have a couple of guys back from those casualties and they went into 3. Gruppe to give them a boost. At least the Adjutant was still alive!
- Replacement Platoon Leader – Klopp, he would only have 2 activations.
- 1. Ersatz Gruppe – J/L (Schweinsteiger), 4 rifle team and 3 man MG42 team
- 2.Ersatz Gruppe – J/L (Huth), 4 rifle team and 3 man MG42 team
- 3. Gruppe – Ballack still going strong with 2 x 3-man LMG teams
I was not in a positive frame of mind for this battle from the off – my force was badly depleted and Mike’s lads were turning up with a whopping 20 odd points of support, added to that I threw awfully for morale and was starting on 8 so would have to watch myself, Mike was on 10 due to a good roll and his men’s opinion. Even though I had a good defensive position with the village overlooking a nice bare approach my inability to have purchased some ‘punchier’ support was a worry. However I suppose the one thing going for me was that this was Erste Zug’s last battle before being replaced by Dritte Zug so they could go all Valhalla and try and cause as much damage as possible and Mike did have to secure the farm complex or the crossroads to win.
The patrol phase went true to form with Mike pushing up on my left quite far to gain one forward JOP, I did manage to keep half of his JOP’s to behind the trees by his baseline though from which he discarded one. I put one of mine in the wood on my flank to prevent him sneaking through there and one to enable me to garrison the village, with one pulled back as a reserve point and my mandatory one in the farm complex – all in all I was quite happy with them.
I should have quit straight away actually as Mike went on a sequence of crazy activation rolls – 1st phase: 4×6’s – (random event = on the piss! so his morale went up). 2nd phase: 2×6’s, 3rd phase:3×6’s, 4th phase: 3×6’s, 5th phase: 2×6’s. Well at least when I got to try and deploy the barrage was over!
Mike used this string of good fortune push forwards his TROOP of Shermans and to deploy a sniper forwards of his furthest JOP, he brought on 2 sections behind the tanks. My only response was to put a section into the house opposite the tower and a section into the wood on the left. I was concerned that Mike would try and rush a section into the wood to take my JOP there, even though he hadn’t tried yet there was still one to bring on so wanted to defend it until I built up a CoC dice move it to the rear. The guys in the house were there to try and slow down the Brits advancing up the road, as the Shermans hadn’t seen me enter the house I knew I would be safe from them until I opened up.
Anyway, the MG42 in the house tried to go on overwatch to take on the sniper but got tagged without causing any return damage so went to ground. I then decided to move the section in the wood forwards to try and take the sniper out, this only drew fire from a Sherman causing casualties – they were promptly withdrawn.
Mike did some classic tactical work next bringing on his rifle sections by the ornamental garden and advancing them up the road behind a tank or along the hedges. It seemed as if my lads in the wood had actually prevented him from using the forward JOP so at least that was a bonus. However with the tanks now having been informed of my presence in the house and taking 75mm-HE type pot shots at me I decided to vacate it and to wait at the rear – the fact that Mike knew I had Panzerfausts kept him at a distance and his infantry seemed reluctant to get too close for fear of triggering a close combat, which might not have gone well for him.
He decided to swing one tank towards the wood and followed it up with two sections so once I had moved the JOP there back I decided to withdraw to behind the road as there was no way I could prevent him forcing the wood without losing that section and hence taking a hit on my already shaky morale.
Actually this phase of the battle was quite intense with Mike agonising over which way to proceed, through the village where I was waiting to spring an ambush or through the wood – in the end he did make the best choice. Meanwhile the other flank saw absolutely no action with Mike loath to get anywhere near the fortified farmhouse with either tanks or infantry.
With Mike deciding to go through the woods I had to try and extract my section to the rear of the house with a Sherman parked on overwatch on the road waiting for just a move, I also had to wait for another CoC dice to move the JOP. Eventually it did and so it was time for some smoke grenade action and the lads there successfully legged it across the crossroads and into the lee of the farm buildings. Once there they set up in overwatch along the lateral road hoping to interdict any advance from the wood. The escaping wood section had also made a skilful withdrawal and now had taken up position by the alleyway also covering the road. All in all I was quite happy with extracting my lads for no further loss and was quietly confident that I would be able to get some damage on Mike’s infantry at least if he poked his head out of the wood.
One of the things I really love about this ruleset is the way that things can change vey quickly – one wrong decision or a bit of bad luck can completely spanner your day, causing morale to plummet and leaving you with decisions whether to fight on or to ‘Foxtrot Romeo Oscar’. The next passage of play was just such a situation.
I felt quietly confident in my position, one section (Breitner’s) had taken 3 casualties, Scweinsteiger’s had taken 2, so both could still put up a fight, and Mike was nowhere near taking the farm or crossroads. I had my JOP’s covered well and all I had to do was wait for him to come to me and then I could inflict casualties on him. Yes, I was worried about the tanks but I’d have to try and take them out with Panzerfausts – if that didn’t work there’s always swearing and running away.
So all looked good and then I ballsed it up. Mike finally screwed up the courage to run a section across the lateral road and into the alleyway – obviously going for my JOP located nearby. As he did so I opened up and caused some shock and a casualty. He was now in the alleyway and a tempting target. All I had to do was to move Breitner’s lads close and chuck some grenades over, if I didn’t cause casualties then I’d definitely pile the shock on as they were in a confined space so the grenades would cause more damage. Alternatively I could jus wait for him to try a close assault and position the 2 MG42’s to cover the exit – again bad news for him – although I’d probably suffer as well.
That’s all I had to do, one of those two things. So did I choose plan A or plan B? No, silly bollocks me decided that it would be best to close assault the numerically superior Brits hoping that the ‘Handgrenaten’ national characteristic would give me the edge, so plan C. Must have worked a treat right – no, course not, absolute disaster – I didn’t even cause a point of shock with the grenades and I was wiped out in the melee after equally abysmal dice.
To make matters worse Mike then swans round and takes my JOP. With my morale rolls for having the section wiped out, losing a J/L and a JOP all bloody awful I was down to 4 on my morale. I was now facing the prospect of defending against 3 tanks, a near full strength pissed-up infantry platoon with amazing morale with 2 sections that were not even a part of my platoon whose morale was shot, so I decided to get out of town while I still could.
So, again an overwhelming defeat for 1.Zug – this time the last surviving section copped it although Breitner managed to escape with a wound. In this fight I suffered 9 casualties to the men with 4 KIA, 3 WIA and 2 ok to carry on.
Up until this point I have suffered the following casualties from the original 18 members plus 15 replacement riflemen:
- 9 killed plus Senior Leader
- 7 wounded plus 3 Junior Leaders
- 1 Missing
- 1 POW
Again I learnt a valuable lesson, basically stick with the best option when in defence.
Now I need to decide whether to unleash the ‘Punch from Wunsche’ wildcard and counter-attack on this table or try and defeat Mike first….
*’Triggers Broom’ comes from the fantastic ‘Only Fools and Horses’ a BBC sitcom. In the episode “Heroes and Villains“, Trigger wins an award from the council for having owned the same broom for 20 years (he is a road sweeper). He then reveals that it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles, but insists it is still the same broom!