After the failure of Erste Zug to breach the British lines an hour before it was now the turn of Unterfeldwebel Hohman’s lads to try. This time they would be assisted by a Tiger 1 that Oberleutnant Albrecht had managed to rustle up from somewhere, he had also secured the services of a sniper to help as well.
Unfortunately the road through the Tommy’s position was blocked by the knocked out PzIV from the previous attempt so that meant that the Tiger would have to go either through the orchards or across the hedges, both options that the big tank’s commander was unsure about, the first through worry about anti-tank ambushes and the second due to fear of getting stuck. Hohman therefore decided to use the Tiger as a mobile pillbox being able to use its large gun to help take out any pockets of resistance to aid his lads get forward – it might also scare the crap out of the British just by its presence!
Further patrolling between the two actions had resulted in a new covered approach becoming available quite far forwards on the right flank. It did end in the open but might just be useful for initiating a rush to the objective if possible, or to draw out the Tommy forces for the big cat to deal with. The morale of the platoon was not too great however, with the defeat of the first attempt obviously playing on the minds of the men and the lack of food being brought up due to the damned JaBo interdiction playing a part too. The British on the other hand would probably be raring to go as intelligence seems to indicate afresh force waiting for them. (I rolled 8, and Des got 11!)
The action started with the British pushing a section down the right flank around the house in the orchards which was countered by Obergefreiter Heidemann’s 2.Gruppe, unfortunately only one of the MG42 teams was in a position to engage them but they did so with some effect, causing a casualty and worrying the advancing men somewhat. The Brits then deployed their pesky mini mortar near the knocked out PzIV which looked quite silly after the Tiger lurched into view along the road. Heidemann pushed his second MG42 team towards the house hoping to get them in a position to take the advancing British section under a flanking fire. The firefight being carried out by the other team against the flanking section was going ok so there was nothing to worry about here for the moment.
The next phase in the fight was an important one as Hohman thought he could take advantage of a brief lull in the action (I rolled a double 6) to order Obergefreiter Noack’s 3. Gruppe forward through the advanced JOP on the right with orders to push aggressively ahead to the furthest hedgeline in an attempt to break a team through. This order didn’t go down too well as it was very risky and some argument happened before the young man from Hamburg reluctantly called his men forward and they ran for the hedge as fast as possible, reaching it but slightly disorganised by doing so (rolled 3 movement dice and suffered shock for doing so).
The Brits reacted to this bold action by deploying their last two sections, one in the farm building at the back of their position and one along the road and around the knocked out PzIV. The combined fire of both of these sections wounded the unfortunate Noack, which luckily did not affect morale, and caused both casualties and shock to his men who became pinned. Now that the Britishers had shown their hand Hohman ordered up Unteroffizier Munzenberg and his 1.Gruppe’s fire combined with that from the Tiger soon caused the section around the knocked out tank to break but sadly not before they and the section in the farm got off more shots on poor Noack’s men causing them to break first which saw morale plummet quite badly (dropped 2 to 6). Revenge was also meted out by 1.Gruppe on the 2″ mortar that was plonking HE rounds down on the poor lads stuck in the open field as they tended to their wounded Obergefreiter, causing the Britishers to break after one of the team was hit. Things did not seem too bad at this moment even with the defeat of 3.Gruppe with Tommies fleeing and the Tiger getting ready to start pumping 88 shells into the farm.
Events over on the left in the orchard would decide the battle though. The sniper had deployed in the building and after causing a bit of panic in the section on the road before they ran only managed to get off an inaccurate shot at the British Lieutenant who was desperately trying to rally his men at the far edge of the orchards so his contribution was minimal in what unfolded next. The outflanking British section was still boldly moving forwards, even though they had suffered casualties, and caught the advanced MG42 team of 2.Gruppe still inexplicably outside of the house. Although their comrades behind the hedge tried their best to help by laying down fire as they advanced (I played a CoC die to interrupt) it seemed as if their gun jammed as the fire wasn’t as effective as it should have been leaving the Tommies to lay down a withering fusilade which wiped out the men fannying about by the house. This caused morale to plummet even further (now down to 4) and things started to look really bad.
Then 3.Gruppe decided that it was best to get out of the fight altogether as the wounded Noack couldn’t keep them together enough to stay, in his wounded state he couldn’t rally them at all. It was about this time that the British mortar team routed too, although the previously broken section had been rallied (Des played a CoC dice to end the turn) The rout of 3.Gruppe coupled with the defeat of 2.Gruppe on the left, the survivors were pinned and about to be assaulted,plus the now dire state of morale (now at 2) Hohman decided that it was time to withdraw and called the men back.
This was quite a costly fight for Zweite Zug. Both 2. and 3. Gruppes lost 6 men each meaning that they will both lose 3 permanently but will get 3 men back the next time they are in action. Unterfeldwebel Hohman didn’t cover himself in glory and his ‘Happy’ outlook might change once he learns what his men’s and Oberleutnant Albrecht’s new opinions of him are (we will be rolling for these next week as we didn’t have ATSE with us!).
Again, a couple of stupid mistakes on my part cost me the battle here. On the left I should have just moved the section there laterally along the hedge to get both MG42’s into action against Des’ section, the one team was doing ok but as witnessed by what happened to his section on the road, two of the buggers and a good die roll can really ruin your day. As it was I left one team hanging and maybe should have used my interrupt to move them out of the way, a bad roll whilst firing didn’t help at all.
As for the charge by 3.Gruppe, if I had just sent a couple of men forwards from the section and put the rest on overwatch at the JOP I could have forced Des to deploy at least a section, as he’d have to stop them sneaking across to the table edge, and then I could have taken them under fire from the rest of the section. If I could have added the fire from the last section and/or the Tiger they’d have stood no chance as happened with the section I took out on the road.
Lesson learnt from this battle: if rolling crap morale at the start of the game NO STUPID GUNG HO MOVES. Utilise the advantages in firepower you have with 2 MG42’s per section and try to force your opponent to deploy to take him under fire, whittle him down and then go for the run to the edge of the table.