Philip had only told me that this game would be ‘something a little different’ and it was. I received a ‘warning order’ informing me on what I had to do and the troops I had to achieve my mission with, but I had to assign my loads, plot my Landing Zones and mark my Glider approaches before we met up at the club. Yes we were doing an airborne assault on a fortified position 1940 style, although it would be in France and not Belgium. The rules were Command Decision and we’d be using Philip’s lovely 10mm kit so the affair was quite an undertaking with a few battalions involved.
The fort I had to tackle was positioned to cover two river crossings, a road bridge to the north and a rail bridge to the south. It housed a 75mm gun in a retractable cupola that had to be destroyed to allow some panzer types to get across the river. The fort was also home to a couple of anti-tank and machine gun bunkers that also commanded the surrounding area and was wired in, mined along the perimeter and had an infantry garrison too – at least it wasn’t raining! There were some weapons positions in the surrounding area that I had to take care of too, all of these had to be destroyed before the lead elements of the schwerpunkt turned up otherwise the mission would be a complete failure.
To accomplish this mission I had the following:
- Glider Btln:
- HQ Coy@ 1 HQ, 1 MG, 1 Mortar
- 2 Inf Coys @ 1 Inf HQ, 2 Inf
- Pionier Coy @ Eng HQ, 2 Eng
- The Pionier coy had 3 hollow charges and their HQ could generate smoke once.
- Para Btln:
- HQ Coy @ 1 HQ, 1 MG, 2 Eng (with 2 shot flamethrowers)
- 3 Para Coys @ 1 Para HQ, 2 Paras
I had the option to make up Company teams by cross posting platoons which was useful as I was limited by my lift capability. I had 3 gliders that could take 4 platoons each and each of my JU-52’s could also carry 4 platoons each but I only had 4 per turn available. I decided then to land all the gliders in the first turn and go for an all out assault on the fort from the off, the Para’s would come in in two drops over the next two turns to take out the outlaying positions – choosing to use two drops to try and keep the French guessing and maybe keep any mobile units in place.
The initial glider assault went very nearly to plan, only one of the gliders overshot its target but, of course, it was the one that was aiming directly for the 75mm cupola, however they did land next to a MG bunker and the engineers attacked it straight off however the shaped charge failed to go off, verdammt! The French did manage to take the other occupants of the glider under fire and they were pushed back towards the edge of the fort and took casualties. The other two gliders managed to get their lads out without problem and one started their attack straight away whilst the HQ glider readied for action.
The glider troops had to reorganise to the south of the fort for the assault on the turret gun which would now have to cross the fort and contend with the alerted French infantry garrison. The northern assault team did manage to get onto the 25mm ATG bunker covering the road crossing that was their target but again their shaped charge failed to go off, things weren’t going very well at all.
However the first para drop was coming in so things might improve, one drop was ok landing safely behind the MG bunker guarding the railway crossing but the other landed smack on top of some French infantry and mortars that were guarding the target gun position of that drop. A terrific fight broke out around this position with the Para’s ultimately coming off worse even though they had a training and morale advantage over the defenders – it all came down to a assault on the surviving mortar platoon who valiantly triumphed over the Para’s wiping out the remainder of the company although they were assisted by a couple of Panhard armoured cars that had turned up. (The dice gods also helped, they were definitely on the Gauloises!)
The next drop for the paras was equally dicey, this time coming in near a 20mm AA gun which caused some casualties during the drop. The scheisse was really hitting the fan now as the cavalry was arriving for the French, literally. A company of horsey types showed up and attacked one of the Para companies straight off keeping them occupied and away from the AA gun that was their target, this fight carried on for the rest of the action centred on the building near the level crossing with the advantage going to and fro.
Up at the fort there was some joy as the glider-types had managed to successfully reach the 75mm turret and placed the last shaped charge, this one actually worked and the gun went up with a mighty boom. The paras that landed near the MG bunker also managed to take it out so at least one of the crossings was open which was lucky as the German Recon unit I was expecting had shown up n the road across the river so they headed for the railway crossing instead of risking crossing whilst the AT bunker was still operational even though the glider boys were still trying to take it out but as they were reduced to using grenades, bad language and obscene hand gestures they were having no joy. Some air support also showed up in the form of a Stuka and that helped in taking out a French infantry position covering the road bridge but that crossing was still definitely closed.
The remainder of the fight was quite confusing with the French garrison and the Glider assault team reinforced by some flamethrower armed paras fighting back and forth over the fort, whilst the flamethrowers managed to take out the MG bunker covering the railway bridge the AT gun was still intact at the end of the game. Elsewhere the remaining Paras were fighting it out with the French outside the fort, managing to take out the 20mm AA gun eventually with the aid of the Recon Armoured cars when they finally made it over the railway bridge.
So the German’s didn’t manage to completely take out the whole of the fort as they hoped and planned and suffered quite heavy casualties in managing to just about secure one of the crossings but the added weight of the Recon force would have tipped things to my advantage so we just about got away with a winning draw I think.
Many thanks to Philip for putting on an interesting and fun game, which did swing one way then the other all through the evening, in fact I was pretty sure at one stage that there would be no way I’d be able to pull it off. I’d be right up for giving it another game some day.