Two weeks ago saw Des and I kick off our long awaited Chain of Command campaign. We are doing the Scottish Corridor Pint-Size job from TFL and hope to play at least once a month at the club. I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one I took part in (about this time last year) against Mike was great fun even with me getting absolutely mullered in it!
As is evident from the title of the campaign it is centred around the fighting in the ‘Scottish Corridor’ during Operation Epsom during the fighting in Normandy after D-Day, in particular the attempt by the Germans to cut off the British forces at the tip of the salient by counter attacking the sides of the salient. This is a nice change as it is a chance for the Germans to be on the offensive for a change.
I have been assigned the following mission:
Your objective is to attack in a pincer to sever the narrow corridor which the British have pushed southwards and across the Odon. Our forces will be attacking from both the East and West with the objective of meeting and trapping the enemy lead elements in a kessel which can then be contained and destroyed.
To carry this out I have two Kampfgruppen with slightly different support options (which contain some nice big cat type tanks!) but both being built around a pair of PanzerGrenadier platoons so I have the option of swapping them in and out for each battle, which will help with casualty replacement as those slightly wounded come back after one battle. The campaign will start at 10:00, due to my complete failure in Operation Martlet, and so will last a maximum of 11 rounds ending at 20:00 if I do not secure all 6 tables before that time.
My first mission involved Kampfgruppe Frey which is attacking from the East of the salient and is tasked with probing the defences of the 15th Scottish Division at Bas de Mouen. All I had to do to secure the win I needed to advance was to move one of my teams off the Brits table edge, I had a nice advantage in support to help me do so as well – 16 points to 6 – so confidence was high to say the least. I didn’t do too well in the morale roll though with Des ending with 11 and myself 9 but I still thought my support advantage would easily outweigh that slight setback.
The patrol phase went ok for me even though I only managed to roll up 2 free moves, Des was very aggressive making sure that I didn’t get too far down the table, pushing forwards through the orchards on the left quite far but being pegged back himself on the more open right hand side of the table. This was ideal for me as my plan was to just try and blitz down that side with a tank if he didn’t decide on a 6pdr from the list whilst trying to keep my infantry in as good a shape as I could by trying to just use them to pin his infantry whilst keeping losses as low as possible.
In fact I decided to go with 2 PzIV’s to enable me to carry out this nice and simple plan, hoping that if one didn’t make it then the other surely would and my only other pick was a Senior leader to help with any shock that might occur. Things started nice and simple. Des going first and deploying a section in the orchards over on the left. In my first go I placed a section on overwatch covering the fields on the right, even though I wasn’t planning on moving any infantry across the fields I wanted to guard my JOP’s here. Des countered this by putting a sniper in the barn covering the open fields on the right, which was a bit of a relief for me as it meant he definitely wouldn’t have a 6pdr or Sherman in support so I might be able to go with my Panzer charge plan after all.
Des started to develop an attack down the left with another section joining the first and his pesky 2inch mortar getting on the table to start peppering my lads guarding the right. In fact the 3 rounds of HE fired by the mortar did more damage than all the shots at them from the sniper who missed with all bar one shots and didn’t notch up a single kill all game, earning the nickname ‘blind Pugh’ and causing much hilarity for me. I managed to get both my PzIV’s on, one at each road, with one moving up to support the lads on the right and one moving along to help the section I had deployed to stop Des’ advance on the left. I was having a one of those weird nights with the dice as I kept rolling a lot of 4,5, and 6’s which didn’t leave me with much in the way of activations but meant I was building up CoC dice points like billy-o (a campaign rule is that as my chaps are classed as superior troops they add any single 6’s to the CoC die score) and getting a few extra throws. Unfortunately for me my use of the many CoC dice I was building wasn’t the greatest, indeed it was downright awful and would have grave consequences later.
Anyway, I managed to shred one of Des’ sections that was working its way towards the road junction, taking out one team and then the other after it had relocated to the house with the aid of the PzIV’s HE fire finishing off the work of the 2 MG42’s from Unteroffizier Buchloch’s defending 1.Gruppe. Des was worrying me with his other flanking section so I moved the nearest JOP away from danger using a CoC dice and he then withdrew the section back into the orchard. At this point I was feeling confident, I had seen off his threat to my exposed JOP, caused him to lose a section (even though he hadn’t lost too much morale from it) and had not caused much damage on my chaps, although an ambush on my left hand section with a Vickers gun at the edge of the orchard had resulted in wounds to my Junior Leader, which I rolled badly for on the Bad Things Happen chart – being my first mistake in the game, I should have burned a CoC dice to prevent taking the roll.
Not to worry though as I thought all I had to do was either: try and take out his PIAT which was now on the table, or go for it by driving both tanks up the table gambling on him not knocking them both out with his 3 shots before I managed to scoot past, then off the edge and victory would be mine. To help in this I deployed my last team to try and get them into the house to the right of the junction to try and get some fire on the PIAT team whilst also advancing the right hand PzIV to draw the PIAT’s fire.
Then I had one of those ideas that completely ruins your day. I know, thinks I, what if I advance the victorious section on the left to take his now exposed JOP in the orchard and he might lose heart and bug out? Possibly the worst idea I’ve had since buying those tartan trousers from Next in 1985 – but at least I was young and it was the 80’s then, I’ve no real excuse for this one. So my lads dutifully leapt the wall and in true CoC style they did so with a paltry 3 on the movement dice so were in a great position for Des to flank them by advancing with his section that had just fallen back over on the left. To make matters worse he deployed the Vickers again which I had somehow completely forgotten about result – utter carnage, both teams were chopped to bits and broke as they also suffered awful amounts of shock. To compound this terrible tactical error, I then forgot to utilise my plethora of CoC dice to either interrupt Des’ moves by firing at the Vickers or moving out of LOS of the section, then to add insult to injury again forgot to use one to not roll for morale which when I did was awful and saw my morale plummet to 5. What an utter tit.
This forced me into a desperate move, my right hand tank had survived the PIAT banging away at it but had suffered a bit of damage and shock and the infantry couldn’t get into the house to fire at the PIAT due to the stupid dice I was rolling and I couldn’t get them activated. But the PIAT was out of ammo now, all I had to do was charge the tank on the road off the table or the one in the field could also make it as well and the battle would be over. However Des managed to re-supply his PIAT team but I thought I had to risk it, he had used a CoC dice to end the turn and my broken section had routed off, again I forgot to spend a dice to prevent rolling for morale and I was down to 4 so shit or bust time now. I went with the panzer on the road first rolling 3 dice and nearly managing to get past the PIAT team, almost but not quite, I was so close the Tommy on the PIAT could have chucked the bomb! Again I could have interrupted and shot the git with my bow MG but didn’t and the result was inevitable, the Panzer brewed up but at least the PIAT team suffered from the explosion. My morale was now down to 1 so all now depended on the last tank making off the board, I rolled 3 dice needing to get high to make it over a hedge and past the barn to ensure I’d not be a sitting duck for the PIAT team. I did throw big: 15, but that was gained by rolling a triple 5 which meant I was immobilised on the hedge!
That was it for me, I decided to call the game and we got to sorting out the post battle admin. I had only suffered 6 casualties, all from the same section, which meant that 3 were KIA, 2 would be back after the next battle and 1 was returned immediately, so all in all not too bad, a total loss from Erste Zug of only 3 men. Unfortunately my CO’s and Men’s opinions had both fallen to -1, but Feldwebel Haringer’s (Erste Zug’s commander) outlook had changed from ‘Cheerful’ to ‘Relaxed’ so things could have been worse.
I have learnt a couple of valuable lessons though – use my CoC dice properly. I really don’t know what happened, I must have had some sort of mental block as I had reminded Des about interrupting and morale rolls earlier on in the evening. Utter arse. Also, never, ever leave a nice defensive position when you know they have horrible big machine guns that can hurt you, not to mention an untouched infantry section, that was just me being stupid. Never mind, still a cracking game and Des has decided not to counter attack and so I have to try again tonight, this time it is the turn of Zweite Zug and maybe some heavier support….