A bit of chilly CoC, 20mm Eastern Front

A couple of weeks ago I managed to get the first game in since early March round Des’ shed o’war. Sadly it looks like it will also be the last game in this year as new Covid restrictions have hit London, with my health problems and the ban on households mixing it is a non-starter (and rightly so). Anyway, Des had decided to lay out one of his lovely Eastern front winter tables and that we’d have a game of Chain of Command which was a big thumbs up from me in both accounts. We spent the first 45 minutes or so having a good chat as it was only the second time we’d physically been in each others company since March also so had a lot to catch up on/moan about! So with that out of the way and Des’ birthday beer opened we got to it.

View of the battlefield from my baseline

I was the glorious Red Army liberating a village from the fascist invaders and to do so I had a bog standard rifle platoon with a paltry number of support points that I blew on a lend-lease Churchill that I thought would come in handy against the flimsy structures in the village and might have more chance surviving a ‘fausting or ‘schrecking from the German infantry (it was also in honour of a Twitter chum DiceDad and his love of the brutes!). The patrol phase went ok, I ended up with my JoP’s spread out a bit but nearly encircling Des’ which were grouped quite tightly. I was planning on using typical Soviet subtlety by running the infantry forward on the left to make the enemy deploy then bring the tank up, stand off and blast the crap out of them – I was quite confident the Churchill would be safe in this as I figured Des wouldn’t be able to afford a PAK40 from his support points. (you can click on following pics to make them bigger)

The game was bags of fun, albeit one lacking in much finesse as I struggled to get forward with the first section I deployed due to the nasty attention of a MG42 and a lack of cover so decided to try and engage in a long range firefight whilst working another squad down the left. I did have some success chipping away at Des’ lads causing a MG42 team to break (this was due to us forgetting to count the shock across the section and not just the team!). I did manage to push the left hand squad up but Des deployed another one of his and a viscous close range firefight broke out with us slowly whittling each other down, lots of shock was going on and JL’s were getting hit which slowly brought our morale levels down. Eventually though my first squad stuck in the open had enough and broke whilst nearly all the remaining troops on both sides were pinned causing a stalemate.

On my right I had moved a section forward hoping to force Des’ hand to deploy his last section whilst supporting them with the Churchill. This sort of worked but Des sprung an ambush with his Panzerschreck which luckily for me missed, I was very confident that a touch of HE would put paid to the AT team but I completely missed! The next few bounds saw a frankly ridiculous set of misses from us both as we both tried to get the first telling hit in, although the ‘schreck did score a glancing blow on the Churchill that luckily just shocked the crew. My infantry joined in and managed to cause some shock whilst taking fire from a MG42 although the Churchill did finally knock out the ‘schreck team whilst they ran back to acquire some more rounds after using up all of their initial load of rockets.

With the threat of the tank and an infantry section closing in on them Des’ last infantry squad ran out of the building they were in and round the corner out of sight, and it looked like it might go all Benny Hill for a moment with us chasing each other round the house! However I decided to hold the infantry in place to take on the Landsers while I moved the Churchill up to take the JoP located nearby and hopefully catch the same Germans in a crossfire. Unfortunately I forgot that taking on a MG42 at close range even with light cover was a really bad idea and before I could get the tank in a position to brass the enemy up my infantry had taken a right mullering and broke.

With that my morale was down to 6, I had one section of infantry fit to fight and a train to catch we called the game as a German victory. To be fair I don’t think either of us was too bothered about the result it was just great to be sat round a table again, having a couple of beers and playing a game with a mate, it has been much missed. The only real down side was that I had to do it all with Des’ bog standard kit on his half-arsed table but we all have to make sacrifices in these troubled times!

Old Hickory CoC Campaign. Fight 3, Red 2.

“Don’t worry sir, we’ll get it done”, and with that Leutenant Hitzelperger gave a smart salute and left headquarters to see to his men. After 1.Zug had been beaten back, 3.Zug were supposed to have had a go at kicking the Yanks back door in but had been prevented by a Jabo attack. Hitzelperger was still smarting after his unit had suffered the same fate earlier and also wanted to show the CO and that upstart Beckenbauer that he could be successful where others had failed, and if he had been able to carry out his initial attack they would be on the objective by now.

He had taken advantage of some better patrolling and also didn’t want to make the same mistakes as the initial attackers had so had decided to concentrate his attack along the right, hopefully crossing from ‘his’ hedgeline to the ‘American’ hedgeline at the place where the distance was shortest and was out of the view of any men stationed in the houses. As the patrolling had identified this spot as a likely place the enemy would be manning he decided to take it under fire with one of his Gruppe and an Infantry Gun from the support chaps. When this force had won the firefight here another Gruppe spearheaded by a Flamethrower team would advance and secure the hedgeline before rolling up the enemy position. His remaining Gruppe would face across the field to the end of the wood where the wire was located as it was also likely that the enemy had forces there and hopefully they could cover any nasty surprises popping up. He entered the building where his men were waiting, quickly went through the plan again with his NCO’s and that grinning idiot Klopp from HQ who was coming with them to assist, and waited for the guns of the artillery to start up before leading his men out.

Fight 3 Red 2

As soon as they reach the forming up point the Leutenant turned to his men “Right, Krankl move your men over to the left and cover that flank, the rest of us will be moving out soon but we need you to cover us first”. The wiry Austrian’s heart sank, ‘cover us’ actually meant ‘draw the enemy’s fire so we know where they are’ but orders were orders and so he moved off through the orchard and across the next paddock. Soon afterwards some Americans were spotted along the hedgerow and the young officer motioned to Klopp to join him, “Feldwebel, take 2.Gruppe and the gun, get up to the hedge and blow those Yanks away. I’m going to stay here with the rest and wait for the right moment to attack. Understood?”. Klopp nodded grimly and moved his small command out knowing full well that the enemy would have the drop on them.

Just then the horrible sound of exploding mortar shells erupted where 3.Gruppe had moved off to and an agonised scream was heard as they were caught in a well aimed stonk. Pausing for just a moment Klopp told Rumminigge to get his men up to the hedge and to start firing whilst he saw to the siting of the gun. As 2.Gruppe reached the hedge his fears were realised and they were hit by a terrific volley which ripped through the cover momentarily checking the men with the shock of the sudden, violent contact. They quickly regained their composure, however and poured their own fire back which was joined by the fire from the gun. This combined fire must have been effective though as the enemy mortar fire started to slowly shift towards them so as to neutralise the threat they must have been on the enemy infantry. Klopp made sure that they ignored the approaching barrage and kept firing although, unfortunately, 2.Gruppe was not having the best of luck with quite a few men being hit including Rumminigge who suffered a slight wound.

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2.Gruppe take up position…

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… but the Ami’s are waiting

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The Infantry Gun starts its brutal work

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3.Gruppe take a stonking and Krankl is wounded

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2.Gruppe take casualties, Rumminigge is hit but Klopp is on hand to help

Then all of a sudden the mortar barrage stopped. Hitzelperger immediately left the Flamethrower and 1.Gruppe with the Adjutant to await his signal to advance and ran over to see what had happened to 3.Gruppe. He found Krankl wounded but organising his men and helped to restore order. They had lost a few men but were reasonably ok and he ordered them forwards telling the Stabsgefreiter to make for the wood across the road and to try and work round to the left when he thought it was safe to do so. Meanwhile over on the right Klopp and his force had finally won the firefight duel with the Americans who’s few survivors broke for the rear dragging their wounded NCO with them, and he grabbed one of the wounded men from 2.Gruppe telling him to let the Leutenant know now might be the time to launch the attack on the enemy.

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The Americans start to lose the firefight…

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… huge gaps appear in their line…

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… which finally breaks

Before this could be organised however another squad of the enemy appeared in the same position along the hedge but Klopp and his lads had the range good and proper now and laid down a furious fire that seemed to do great damage to the enemy if the slackening in return fire was anything to go by. When the flamethrower then hit the enemy as it came onto the line it helped finish off the survivors with that the flame team surged forwards followed by the newly arrived 1.Gruppe. Klopp was just thinking that the end must be in sight when all of a sudden the world to his left and front disappeared in a maelstrom of noise, dust and metal as another mortar barrage hit. Luckily it didn’t last very long and had missed both the Feldwebel and the attacking force, as well as only hitting one of the gun team but it had destroyed the survivors of 2.Gruppe, all were casualties apart from one dazed landser.

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The charge is on to take out the new American section

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But could this new mortar barrage be the end?

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The assaulting troops luckily manage to dodge the incoming rounds!

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But the damage is already done on the new Ami section

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Although this beast did awful damage to the unlucky Krankl’s men.

As this was happening on the right Krankl had began to move his men towards the wood when they were caught by the combined fire of both a squad in the first house and an Anti-Tank gun that suddenly revealed itself in the wood by the wire. His men were pinned under this murderous crossfire and pretty soon the surviving member and the wounded NCO were running back to where they started. Hitzelperger had also thought that the Americans must have been defeated and now he was worried that his men would be the ones breaking but luckily all enemy fire stopped and soon the men advancing on the right sent back a message that they could see the Yankees streaming for the rear They had done it, only just, and at a terrible cost but they had done it. The road to L’Abbaye Blanche was open.


 

This was one of the tensest and bloodiest games of CoC that both Dan and I had played in a long while with both of us having periods where we were on top and both desperately trying to get that final hit on the other to cause a rout.

I very nearly pulled out early doors after the first gruppe was caught by the initial mortar barrage and the second gruppe started taking casualties from the enemy squad across the field, especially as both their JL’s were wounded too. I managed to roll a triple 6 though and then it was my turn to start racking up casualties on the Americans and I thought the tide had turned. However Dan carried on his great rolling on the BTH chart from last week whilst I carried on my bad rolling which was of some concern as he started with a FM of 11 and I started on 9.

After seeing off the first American squad Dan chucked another into the grinder at the same place definitely looking to finish off 2.Gruppe but I lucked out again with some double phases and poured fire on from the gun and remaining MG42’s with a dash of help from the Flamethrower and some appalling luck on Dan’s rolling for hits saw the second squad finished off with only the wounded SL and JL’s present remaining. I really thought it was game over for Dan but he managed to get the mortars into action again, virtually wiping out 2.Gruppe. He also battered 3.Gruppe, that I had stupidly left hanging out in the open whilst I concentrated on destroying the enemy to the front, with a terrible crossfire virtually wiping them out before they broke. Again, luckily, I managed to cancel the mortars, this time by using a CoC dice which also saw the surviving members of his first squad rout off the table and it was now the last chance saloon for both of us with his FM at 3 and mine at 2.

My intact section with the flamethrower were in a great position to take a JoP and then take on the American’s in the house with the Infantry Gun helping out and I was hoping that would be enough for the win, as long as Dan’s mortars didn’t start up again. When he failed to get the mortars again and wouldn’t be able to call on them for the rest of the battle Dan decided to pull out much to my relief. The one thing I did learn in this fight above everything else was this: if you are playing Germans get yourself a le18 75mm IG, why has it taken me this long! Dan declared it the man of the match, it only has 6 HE but the ability to drop cover by 1 and hitting on a 4+ makes it punch well above its weight.

As for the state of 2.Zug. Their opinions first, they started on 1 & 1 and after the battle these had dropped with the CO’s opinion on 0 and the men’s (not surprisingly given the casualties taken) at -3. They are also pretty much a spent force with 4 men dead in both 2. & 3.Gruppen so I’ve decided to consolidate the survivors into one full strength Gruppe under the surviving 3.Gruppe JL and am sending the 2 ‘spare’ men to 1.Gruppe/1.Zug to replace their losses from the last fight. Next up is the village fight in L’Abbaye Blanche with the full strength 3.Zug taking on what I estimate to be a full strength American platoon backed up with a bunch of MG’s and AT guns so, should be easy?!

 

Old Hickory CoC Campaign. Fight 2, Red Two

Beckenbauer furiously tried to light his pipe after leaving the room containing Company HQ, when he failed for the fourth time he swore loudly and kicked out at the lamppost in front of him. After 1.Zug’s brilliant little action 2.Zug were supposed to have moved forwards to carry on the fight but they were caught moving up to the startline by a JaBo strike and the useless bastards had scattered all over the place so now it was up to his lads to attack once more. He had argued against it of course but 3.Zug were off doing something else and time was of the essence (plus him and the CO weren’t seeing eye to eye at the moment), so his protests weren’t too forceful. He knew the job needed doing and that they would have to do it, he just wanted to keep his lads out of harms way for a little longer.

As they were supposed to be resting, and due to the confusion around caused by the airstrike, the patrolling of the new area to attack hadn’t gone as well as it had previously and the Yankees had managed to secure a nice line centred on a house with good supporting positions to either flank that covered a large open expanse of ground in front of it. There was a nice covered approach to the left flank but that had been somewhat blocked off by a thick barbed wire obstacle. HQ had decided that the open terrain was probably well covered by hidden AT guns so was holding back the panzer support until the positions had been identified and neutralised, indeed the Old Man had stressed that this was the most important element of this attack. To compensate for this though he was being supported by a battery of 81mm mortars from the Support Company which he was hoping would help shoot his lads onto the enemy positions once they were identified and also the artillery would be shelling the American lines as well, also his men’s morale was still very good after their last victory.

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Red dots are German JOP’s, Blue are American

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My freshly made wire blocks the way!

He arrived back to the unit’s forming up area and called his NCO’s around him and they listened to his plan. As usual Beckenbauer would take 1. & 2. Gruppe forward in the attack whilst the ever ready Klopp would take control of the tripod mounted MG42 and the Adjutant would hold 3.Gruppe back as a reserve. The main attack was still going to be through the wood that extended along the left but instead of continuing through the wood they would cross the road once they reached the barbed wire and try and outflank the Ami’s position from the left. While they were doing this the heavy MG42 and the FOO would take any spotted enemy around the house and on the right under fire to keep them busy. 3.Gruppe would support where needed. Once all the NCO’s nodded that they were clear on their parts, Beckenbauer pulled his cap tightly down over his eyes and looked at his watch “Right, those lazy Mummy’s boys in the artillery should start up in 2 minutes, lets get moving. Good luck”.

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The lads of 1.Zug move out again

The advance through the wood was going smoothly enough with both 1. & 2.Gruppe making their way steadily forward when all of a sudden a murderous fire erupted over on the right. From the sound of it, the Americans were doing the shooting which started up again as soon as it finished. Beckenbauer was nudged by Klinsmann ‘I hope Jurgen’s alright over there boss’. Klopp was alright, but the men manning the MMG definitely weren’t. Due to the poor patrolling earlier they had to move quite a way forward to take up a position from where they could take the enemy under fire. Unfortunately the enemy were already in place and waiting when they did so, unleashing a couple of murderous volleys that cut down 3 of the crew and made the remaining 2 run back towards their own lines. They were halted by the big Swabian Warrant officer who temporarily checked their progress but they were too shaken to convince that getting back into action was a good idea. As he was trying to sort the MG team out Klopp did notice the mortar observer moving forward on his left “Get those bastards on the right” he shouted across to him whilst thinking that maybe he should call for 3.Gruppe to come forward to help out. Unfortunately, whilst he was thus distracted, the MG gunners slipped away to the rear their morale completely shattered.

The Amis wait on the right

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The survivors of the MMG team make for the rear

The sound of incoming mortars were very soon filling the air but it was the sound of the enemy’s and not the German’s. The barrage fell across the road quite near to where Beckenbauer had started to move 2.Gruppe over to try and take on the GI’s firing on the MMG, an idea he quickly changed when he saw the mortar rounds seemingly move closer “Jurgen, get your lads back here and follow 1.Gruppe around to the left” he bellowed over the crumping of the incoming rounds, “those damned mortars will get us soon if we stay here”.  As they all moved back to the left another ripple of enemy fire burst out from the direction of the road which was quickly followed by the unmistakable sound of 2 MG42’s opening up in response. At about the same time the mortar barrage stopped and Beckenbauer heard another seemingly more intense round of firing from the Americans and a very feeble return volley from 1.Gruppe. Calling on everyone to follow him he charged forwards to the lane where he was met with a terrible scene. Breitner lay dead in the road and one half of his men lay dead or wounded around him with the survivors pinned by the nearest hedge whilst down the road the opposite hedge was bristling with GI’s who unleashed another volley. “Smoke!, Smoke!, get a grenade in there now!” but the nervous lad that threw it just about cleared the hedge barely covering the survivors who used the cover of it to quickly vacate the death trap they were in and head for the rear dragging their wounded comrades with them.

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American mortars miss their target…

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… but creep ever closer

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Breitner’s lads make it into the ‘Lane of Doom’

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Damned Yanks move across to take them on

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The scene just before the carnage ensued

” Verdammt! Back!, get back now!” bellowed the platoon commander and pretty soon they were all back in the safety of the woods. Beckenbauer stopped to think. He couldn’t hear any sound of the heavy MG or mortars firing over on the right which didn’t feel good at all and looking around at the faces of the remaining troops with him he could tell what they had seen in the lane had shaken them all up too. “Sod it, we are off. Klinsmann follow me, we’re pulling out, send a flare up to signal to Klopp. No sense in dying here for no gain”, and with that the attack failed.

 


 

So another short and sweet fight but this time the Dice Gods had switched sides and Dan had the better luck (hopefully it means that it will be a bit more even next time)!

Dan had called in the airstrike so this was now round 3 of the campaign and, as explained, my plan was to try and find his AT guns and try and take them out if possible so that if we had to attack here again the tanks could be used with a bit more safety, whilst hopefully writing down his infantry. However, I did make some mistakes which combined with terrible luck scuppered the attack which I was quietly confident in succeeding with when we started as I had rolled up 11 in morale to his 9 and my high men’s opinion gave me one extra support point.

Firstly I shouldn’t have deployed the MMG at all, the Yanks were in position and on overwatch already I should have just hit them with my mortars and just used it either to defend my 2 JOP’s on the right (along with my reserve section) or deployed it on the left after moving that JOP forwards with a CoC dice. Over on the left I think my plan to still advance through the wood and around the wire was a good one and it might have worked. Indeed when Dan brought in his mortars he was way off target (was supposed to come in on the wire which might have caught 2 sections and the SL) and was having problems moving the barrage – we are playing that you roll a d6 to see how far you can move it, he rolled a 1 then a 2! However it was creeping towards me so I spent a CoC dice to end the turn which meant the survivors of the MMG team routed off with my rolling on the BTH table starting high and staying high all game.

So what actually happened in the ‘Lane of Doom’? After getting caught with a very ineffectual volley which only caused a bit of shock I returned fire and scored 12 hits which only caused just 2 points of shock, and it was close range too! Unfortunately this fire was on a 2 so I couldn’t order a smoke grenade to be thrown as well to cover myself and Dan made excellent use of the American ability to both move and fire to get more weapons to bear and his next volley caused proper damage including wounding Breitner and reducing his activations to 1. Before I could reply though he used a CoC dice to interrupt and that’s when Breitner and the rest of one of his teams copped it whilst the other one broke. Dan then rolled up a triple 3 ending the turn and thus routing the survivors, on top of the hits to my force morale from the JL being wounded then killed and losing a team my force morale had plummeted to 2 so it was a no brainer to pull out.

Again a cracking game and lessons definitely learned for next time. I know I might have said this before but playing these rules in a campaign just makes them so much better – you stop thinking like a wargamer and start thinking like a commander.

As for the result of the fight: I only managed to KO 2 of Dan’s men but he will get them back thanks to the difference in morale at the end. 1.Zug lost 5 men in total , 2 dead along with the JL and 3 will be returning the next time they see action. Beckenbauer lost 4 points off his men’s opinion but as he was already on +3 that isn’t too bad whilst he managed to not lose any more on the CO’s opinion so starts the next round at -1 & -1.

Old Hickory CoC Campaign. Fight 1, Red One

“Well Franz, at least we will be attacking for once!”, ‘der Kaiser’ looked at the suntanned and grimy face of the big man stood next to him and couldn’t help but return the beaming smile he saw there. “You are right there Jürgen, but let’s hope we have caught the Ami’s napping”. As he spoke the air was rent by the sound of shells screaming over their heads towards the enemy’s lines. “Good to not be on the receiving end for a change” shouted the Feldwebel and he jogged off to pick up the ‘heavy’ MG42 team he would be responsible for in the forthcoming fight.

Beckenbauer moved into the wood where the majority of his Erste Zug waited for him and ran through the plan once more in his head. Luckily the unit had been very aggressive in their patrolling and had caught the Americans flat footed whilst allowing the Zug to both get well forward and to get a good handle of where the enemy was. A minefield had been discovered where the road bent and was hemmed in by a couple of hedges but he had decided to not take the offer of some Pionere to clear it, instead he had told Klopp to cover the area and the likely point nearby where an enemy might appear with a tripod mounted MG42. He would take the majority of the Zug through the wood as quickly as possible to pin and hopefully overwhelm any defenders across the field whilst trying to also close down any attempt of the enemy deploying on the right flank. ‘Der Bomber’ would be holding one Gruppe back in reserve along with a sniper and the hope was that the barrage crashing down on the Ami’s would help this plan unfold before they could react. 

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Red One (craters on the left standing in for minefield)
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Klopp and his MMG lads set up and overwatch the minefield

Upon meeting his lads he nodded to the curly haired NCO looking up at him who turned to his men “Right ladies, let’s go and sort these Yankees out shall we” and with that 1.Gruppe moved swiftly off. Breitner then told off a couple of his men and told them to move over to the right to check out the flank, whilst behind him to the left he heard Klinsmann getting his men forward too. Both of the sections moved swiftly forwards until they hit the hedge surrounding the field when they were taken under fire both from a machine gun across the field and from some riflemen on the right. This fire wasn’t very accurate however and pretty soon both NCO’s had their Gruppen pouring fire back. Over on the right the two scouts were seen running back after taking some withering fire from the squad of infantry that they had run into.

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Breitner and 1.Gruppe move out
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Yanks pop up
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Scouts find them
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1. & 2. Gruppen pour fire on the enemy

Brietner had just told his right hand gun to keep firing on the infantry to the right when another burst of MG fire tore through the hedge knocking over two of his lads and also winging him. “Scheisse, are you alright?” said his no.2, “Aye, keep firing, I’ll be ok in a minute, just keep hitting the enemy”. That they were hitting the enemy, and hitting them hard, was evident as very soon the MG fire to their front stopped altogether and the enemy to the right suddenly disappeared. Klinsmann then appeared as Breitner was being patched up: “Bloody hell Paul I think we’ve made them run!, I’ll send a couple of lads across to make sure”. Soon the scouts jogged back across the field and confirmed that the enemy had definitely gone and the only thing visible was a completely wiped out MG team and a dead officer. “Right then lets let the old man know what’s happened and hopefully we can have a well earned rest” said Breitner and let out a long sigh of relief, not only had he had a close escape but they had seen off the enemy and both men that had been hit were also only nicked too so were ok to get back into action straight away, “a good day’s work lads, well done.”

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So a very quick and quite bloodless game (well for me anyway) aided by some great dice luck from me and awful luck by Dan. I managed to get lucky in the patrol phase and got 6 free moves which helped me get far through the wood and forced Dan’s JOP’s across the field. This (coupled with me ‘winning’ the morale roll too having 10 to Dan’s 8) made me decide to just pile forwards with the sections to try and engage as soon as possible while covering the enemy JOP by the minefield with the MMG. Even though the scouts were broken and I took a few hits I managed to keep my luck going and didn’t lose any morale points. Unfortunately for Dan the combined fire of 3 MG42’s made short work of his MMG team and even worse his Platoon commander, Hiram P. Wilderbeest III, deployed with the team had been hit and wounded 3 times and so was killed. His bad luck with the dice held when rolling on the BTH table and his morale had dropped to 4 pretty quickly, this coupled with the death of his CO made him decide that bugging out was the best thing to do. I’m expecting a tougher fight next time as I reckon there will be more enemy to face. Oh, and the pre-game barrage didn’t stop Dan deploying at all!

As for opinion, 1.zug are now at +3 for the men and -1 for the CO’s (they started at that unfortunately!) with Beckenbauer’s outlook still Thoughtful.

 

 

Old Hickory, a Chain of Command Pint Sized Campaign. Intro.

Dan and I have just started out on this interesting campaign and so I really need to do an intro. This campaign sees the plucky Heer PanzerGrenadiers of ‘Kampfgruppe Fuller’  tasked with attacking the Americans of the 30th Division defending the area north of Mortain with the objective of securing le Neufbourg within a specified time (8 campaign turns). The unit had been included in the attack known as ‘Operation Luttich’ and was at full strength and full of confidence containing 3 PzGren zug, a zug of Pz IV’s and various bits and bobs from battalion HQ. The Yankees would be stretched across the 3 possible routes of attack so might be thin on the ground although we have had intelligence that they would be beefed up with a slew of anti-tank guns.

One thing I’ve said to Dan for this campaign is that I will be restricting the number of ‘spare’ sections that I use as I feel that these can be mis-used as ‘meat shields’ and I’ve always wondered where they came from within the unit so there will be 2 cobbled together from runners, cooks, mechanics etc and they will be either combined after taking casualties or broken up and used as replacements to the other units. Once these have gone any extra sections bought from the support list will be from the other platoons, just adds a bit more realism and another headache for the CO.

Before the campaign gets going here’s a reminder of the lads of the ‘Kampfgruppe Fuller’.

HQ:

CO: Me!

Adjutant: Oberleutenant Müller, 24, Bavarian, short, thin and pale he is the middle class son of a decorated veteran of the First World War. Nicknamed ‘Der Bomber’. Was Erste Zug’s commander before being promoted and posted to my staff. (Will be the second replacement Zug commander if needed)

Feldwebel Klopp. 26, Wurttemberger, a strapping bloke and former gamekeeper. Quite religious. (He will be the replacement/’spare’ Senior Leader if needed, currently with my staff)

  • Ersatz Gruppe 1: Obergefreiter Schweinsteiger, 24, Bavarian, an average sort of lad, another party member.
  • Ersatz Gruppe 2: Obergefreiter Huth, 26, Berliner, another large man, former Cabaret musician with a face only a mother could love.

1.Zug:
Zug Kommandant: Oberfeldwebel Beckenbauer (‘der Kaiser’). 38, Bavarian, an average sort who is an old soldier and a veteran of Spain.

  • Erste Gruppe (Black): Unteroffizier Breitner, 24, Bavarian, slightly on the short side he is a former communist.
  • Zweite Gruppe (White): Stabsgefreiter Klinsmann, 25, Wurttemberger, an average sort from Stuttgart where his family have a bakery.
  • Dritte Gruppe (Red): Stabsgefreiter Ballack, 21, Saxon, a strapping City boy from Chemnitz, favourite number is 13.

2.Zug:
Zug Kommandant: Leutenant Hitzlsperger (der Hammer), 23, Bavarian, former banker, he is tall and thin.

  • Erste Gruppe (Black): Unterfeldwebel Völler, 24, Hessian, Party member, model citizen and popular in the unit.
  • Zweite Gruppe (White): Stabsgefreiter Rumminigge, 21, Westfalian, country lad and close friends with Unteroffizier Brietner from 1.Zug
  • Dritte Gruppe (Red): Stabsgefreiter Krankl, 25, Austrian, a thin and pale city boy from Vienna.

3.Zug:
Zug Kommandant: Feldwebel Hamann, 26, Bavarian, the company gambler and was a journalist.

  • Erste Gruppe (Black): Unteroffizier Schürrle, 22, from Pfalz, a city lad from Ludwigshaven.
  • Zweite Gruppe (White): Stabsgefreiter Rösler, 22, Thuringian, a former gamekeeper.
  • Dritte Gruppe (Red): Stabsgefreiter Pogatetz, 21, Another Austrian, from Graz, nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’.

 

Update time…

I am very much appreciate that I haven’t posted anything in a while.

I was hoping to write up the Lardy day but I was very busy umpiring/assisting in the game of CoC that I put on and didn’t manage to take too many pics, the fact that Dan completely kicked our arse in the game didn’t help either although I think that Richard Clarke (author of the rules and one of the Lardies) playing the US Patrol Phase helped immensely – he totally hoodwinked me! However, it was a great pleasure to meet Per from the excellent ‘Roll a One’ blog (and aptly named it is too, we had rotten luck most of the day) and to introduce Glen to the rules. We also had a great time in the pub afterwards which was really cool too, although not so cool the next day! We were disappointed in the number of people that turned up for the event but will be having another go next year as it was fun. Obviously it was great meeting Rich Clarke and having a brief chat, hopefully he will be able to come again next year and maybe bring Sidney and/or Nick along too.

Meanwhile I have had a couple of great games over the past month, particularly a WW2 one round Des’ that was played using his CoC/IABSM hybrid rules, but I can’t say much about it as we will be having another go soon with Dan and Daren so don’t want to give away some surprises that will be cropping up. Similarly a cracking game played over 2 weeks at the club put on by Martin based on actions in the battle of Castiglione in the 1790’s were great but as the plan is to have a ‘proper’ go when we can get an all-dayer in to do it justice and as there are some nice surprises in this game too I’ll wait for the next go to do a write up and post pics.

Apart from this I have been cracking on with painting some 6mm Napoleonics which I am really enjoying so will have some pics soon once I have a few more units painted up. A major impetus for this painting jag is that I’ve been revising the Napoleonic rules that I have been knocking about for a while. We had another game on Monday with Des and Mike having a bash this time and they both enjoyed them which was a great boost. We are having another go next Monday and Martin and Ian are joining in, which again is nice as they are willing to have another go!

Anyway, will be trying to get some pics of the game if I can. In the meantime here’s some pics from the past month. The first few are from the Lardy day’s CoC game, Dan’s invincible GI’s putting the boot in to the filthy Bosche and the second set from Des’ ‘I Aint Been CoC’d Mum’ game (Rich Clarke thought it was a better name too so I’m sticking with it, sorry Des!) using his lovely 15mm Brits and Germans somewhere in Normandy in ’44.

 

Club Night 01/04/19: France ’44, 15mm IABSM/COC

After the last game of IABSM I was moaning about the card activation and how I thought it slowed things down and increased the chance of you sitting there doing nothing for large parts of the game if you were unlucky in the card activations (or if, as happened to me once, someone forgot to add a card into the deck after coming off the blind). Des had a think about it and came up with a very simple but ingenious way of combining the dice activation from CoC with the core rules.

Activation was much the same as in CoC, 5 dice being rolled, but scaled up: 1 activated a team/section, 2 a platoon, 3 a Big Man 1 or 2 (i.e. a JL), 4 a Big Man 3 (a SL), 5 added a pip to a ‘Bonus’ die, and 6’s went to a ‘Tea Break’ dice. Multiple 6’s were treated the same as in CoC so 2 gave you another go (we used our system of decreasing the activation dice by 1 die every time). The ‘Bonus Dice’ was added to until you hit 6 pips (basically a CoC dice) whereupon you could pick a card from the bonus card deck. As soon as the ‘Tea Break’ die hit 6 – which was added to by both sides’ rolls – a Tea Break was called.

As well as the activation system from CoC we were using a similar support points system and so both sides had a core infantry company and a set amount of points that we could spend to beef things up. We would also be using the Force Morale system too with points lost for ‘Bad Things Happening’.

The scenario we would test these out with was nice and straightforward. Andy and I had to take a small village somewhere in the Bocage country. Facing us was the all singing and dancing  ‘Kamp Gruppe Bartram’ led by Daren. We managed to set up a rather spiffing table with the club’s terrain and Des’ lovely ‘Empires at War’ Normandy buildings (the 15mm versions of the ones seen on this blog before). The main picture below shows our view of the battlefield, and we hit upon a nice simple plan. I would take 2 of our platoons of infantry and push through the orchard to the right of the road whilst sending our recce jeep along the right flank whilst Andy would take our Sherman platoon along the left supported by the remaining infantry platoon. The enemy would be pinned in place once discovered then destroyed.

Things started very well with all of us getting into the swing of the new activation system easily enough. We decided to push my attack through first and soon I had 2 platoons in the Orchard and the jeep barrelling around bocage as it headed for the lateral road on the right. Then the shit hit the fan. My lads in the orchard must have been fresh from England as they failed to spot the PanzerGrenadiers that lined the hedge at the far end of the orchard until they opened up a murderous fire on my Napoleonic looking column. Pretty soon I was in all sorts of trouble as the German machine guns chewed through section after section and soon one of my platoons was pretty much out of action. My return fire was not the best but I did manage to cause some casualties assisted by the company mortars but I was forced to pull back out of sight to regroup and re-asses whilst the Germans slipped away to take up new positions in the village.

Just when I thought things were pretty bad they got worse. My recce jeep bumped into something along the road and I actually felt my jaw drop when Daren gleefully put out 2 Tigers – indeed both Daren and Des laughed at my re-action. I did have a go at one of the behemoths with my .30-cal before scooting back desperately trying to get into cover but both efforts were futile and one of the giant beasts pumped a HE shell into the plucky Jeep.

As the right flank was now well and truly shut down we decided that Andy best get forward on the left so he pushed his Shermans forward followed by the infantry. However pretty soon the sharp crack of an 88 signalled the appearance of 2 more Tigers! The American tankers tried valiantly to take on the big cats but pretty soon their Platoon commander and one other tank were burning. There was one small glimmer of hope though as the remaining infantry platoon managed to creep forwards whilst the tank duel was going on and soon a couple of bazooka teams were in position to get a flank shot at one of the Tigers. If they could get a successful shot away we might just be able to overpower the remaining one with the concentrated fire of the surviving tanks. But it wasn’t to be, the GI’s manning the rocket launchers were just too jittery and their missiles either sailed harmlessly past the massive tank or glanced off the thick steel (how they missed is still puzzling me, just how do you miss a Tiger side on?!!). Daren then turned the Tigers turret on the hapless bazooka men who would have been blasted to atoms if they weren’t close assaulted by a fresh platoon of PanzerGrenadiers.

With this further defeat Andy and I decided that enough was enough, most of our infantry was knackered and our tanks had been well and truly assaulted by the Tigers so we decided to concede defeat. Strangely though the surviving tanks disappeared during the retreat, and even stranger when we tried to get them on the radio to ask where they were we received this message back: ‘Woof, woof’. Odd.

Despite the defeat it was a cracking game and we all agreed that the new activation system vastly improved things and even I said I’d love to have another game so hats off to Mr. Darkin for coming up with the rules, we did come up with a few tweaks here and there but nowt too much which shows how well they worked.  Apart from the rules more thanks to Des for putting the game on and for bringing his lovely village set, the figures and models were Daren’s but now in the collection of Andy which is great as we  will still get to play with them as they are crackingly well done.

If you are interested in the new activation rules at all you can find them here – Des has called them: ‘Oh what a total bummer’: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216703912095462/files/

(I think: ‘I aint been CoC’d Mum’ was better but apparently that’s a bit rude?!)

As it was so nice and we didn’t get anywhere near it in the fight here’s some gratuitous shots of the lovely village! (available from here: https://www.empiresatwar.co.uk/15mm-NORMANDY-KITS.html)

 

 

 

 

Operation Martlet: Fight 4 – The Hauptkampflinie

Beckenbauer was angry with himself at letting the British bundle him out of the last position without a fight and was determined that this time it would be different. He had already been informed by the old man that his Zug was going to be replaced if and when they withdrew from the Hauptkampflinie that they now occupied as Leutnant Hitzelberger and his 2.Zug was now ready in position around the St. Nicholas farm.

The patrol activity had been better contained than before the last fight, whilst the enemy had managed to get to the far end of the garden they had been kept mostly far away from the main position. The Zug’s own forming up points were spread more or less along the lateral road and with the good defensive positions available amongst the houses and outbuildings of this position he was confident that he’d be able to make the Britishers pay a heavy price for taking the position and repulse them once more. He was pleased to see that he had the services of one of the tripod mounted MG’s from Company HQ and a couple of extra Panzerfausts and was also glad that he still had three full strength sections, even with Ballack’s continued attempts at getting himself killed, and the pioneers had done their business on fortifying the house to the left of the crossroads. All in all ‘der Kaiser’ was pleased with his chances and a quick tour of his positions to give some last minute instructions made him feel even better, the lads were itching for the fight.

Soon the peace and quiet was destroyed by the rip of sound from the HMG in the upstairs of the fortified house as it opened up on an enemy section that had started to make its way across the garden. The stone wall that they were hiding behind only helped them a bit though and first blood was drawn and the enemy quickly responded with a superbly targeted smoke round from one of their verdamt small mortars that completely blocked the view of the gun. The Britishers were learning very fast and under cover of the smoke the shot up section ran forwards to the cover of the barns in front of the fortified house. Pretty soon smoke rounds were falling all over the place with the road leading to the enemy completely blocked by it and the chief of the gun shouted out a warning that the Tommies were using its cover to run another section over the road that started moving towards the Hayloft in the main farm complex.

Beckenbauer looked over to his right and made a hand signal to Klinsmann. The blonde Wurttemberger gave a grin back and turned to his Gruppe. “C’mon lads, into the farm”, and with that they leapt over the wall into the courtyard, Jurgen directing one of his teams into the barn on the left to cover the road while he led the other section forward hoping to reach the Hayloft before the Tommies. However the unmistakable sound of tank tracks caused him to divert his lads to the low wall in the corner of the yard to investigate and hopefully get a shot off with the Panzerfaust. Unfortunately the Sherman that hoved into view was just out of range of their rocket grenade and before they could duck out of the way the tank fired a shell at them. “Scheisser!” yelled Klingsmann “Down, down, behind the wall!!” but luckily the Tommies must have been surprised to see them appear as their aim was out and the 75mm round hit the building behind them with no ill effect on his team apart from the slight shock of the near miss. ” Right, move, move” and he dragged and kicked his 3 men back out of sight alongside the Hayloft.

It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the lads of Zweitte Gruppe however as whilst they had been playing peek-a-boo with the Sherman the Britishers had managed to run a section into the top of the Hayloft up the outside stairs and both sets of soldiers stood looking at each other through the open doors. Clearing his head Klinsmann decided what to do, “Grenades, quick chuck them up into the loft” but before his team could respond a full section of Tommies appeared through the door in front of them and all hell broke loose. When the dust had settled Klinsmann and his small band were kaput but the shock of the encounter, as well as the losses they incurred, caused the British to duck back into the safety of the downstairs room of the big barn.

While this short but bitter fight was happening the smoke that had been obscuring the view of the defenders cleared and the sight that greeted the gun team in the fortified house chilled them to the core. A huge Churchill tank was positioned in a great firing position and it had a very strange looking gun pointed at them. There was a detonation and what looked like a dustbin wobbled through the air at them and glanced off the roof. The detonation when this happened though was quite something and the gun team was dazed for a good while, their NCO still had enough wits about him though and he bundled his team out the back of the house before the beast of a tank could fire at them again. Luckily for them they just managed to miss the mortar barrage that had fallen on the crossroads which had just lessened enough in intensity to allow them to escape.

“Get that gun set up on the wall down the road, I want you to cover the farmyard. Quick, before the mortars start up again” Beckenbauer yelled at their Gefreiter and quickly looked over to the left where he had sent Breitner’s men. They were there as he had thought that the Tommies skulking round the buildings to the left of the road were going to make a dash through the cover of the orchard and try and outflank them. His fear of an outflanking move grew more and more as the enemy kept trying to drop smoke rounds in front of the hirsute Bavarian’s Gruppe. He was just thinking about ordering them forward to winkle out the hiding Tommies to their front right when the mortar barrage suddenly shifted across and increased in ferocity again. The screams that were just about audible above the sounds of the falling mortar rounds told him that Breitner’s lads were suffering. Franz punched the ground and cried out “Dumpkopf” in frustration, he just hadn’t ordered them forward in time as he was distracted elsewhere and now his lads were paying the price.

Luckily the barrage quickly stopped and Erste Gruppe had ‘only’ suffered 3 casualties and a new threat appeared. Over on the right the Sherman that had tried to take out Klinsmann and his team earlier had swung round the right of the farmyard and was looking to get into the lateral road which would have been curtains for them. Luckily the old bullet magnet Ballack was on hand and he calmly ordered his men along the hedge and said quietly “Prepare for tanks, get the ‘faust ready”. His rocket grenadier peeped through the hedge once to get an idea of where the large green vehicle was and then popped up and let loose. The rocket sped on it’s way and hit the British tank, the Sherman carried on for a meter or two then shuddered to a halt and smoke spewed out from it before it blew up in a fantastic pyrotechnic display. “Excellent Hans”, Ballack shouted above the din , “Beers and Slivovitz for you later”.

Beckenbauer’s elation at this good news quickly turned sour however as the British section that had been hiding in front of the fortified house suddenly appeared on the lateral road, they had taken advantage of the attention being shown to the tank threat and were now in a position to start rolling up the flank. Breitner and his remaining men tried to get off a volley at them but they were still feeling the effects of their stonking and so it was ineffectual. The grizzled veteran quickly assessed the situation: The MMG was now set up and was keeping the two British sections in the Hayloft pinned for now but they could easily slip out of the stairs at the back and re-deploy to the flanks. The surviving team from Klinsmann’s gruppe was still in the barn by the road but could easily make it back to the safety of the road, but that was only safe for now. Breitner’s lads were a wreck and now also effectively cut off. Yes Ballack’s men were at full strength but for how long? Especially if the enemy could get that huge Churchill into action again or start up with the mortars. No, morale was not great and he had lost 6 men as well as one NCO so it was time to pull out. With that he loaded his flare pistol and fired the signal for withdrawal. Hopefully 2.Gruppe would be able to catch up them later.

cof
Butcher’s Bill

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This was just about the tensest game of CoC either Des or I had played to date. Des had really upped his game making great use of smoke from his bloody 2″ mortars (are there any German players who don’t hate these things?), although the one targeting the section on the left consistently mis-aiming in the same place repeatedly was admittedly very funny. The fight in the Hayloft was sort of weird, we had a sort of Mexican standoff at one point and then Des asked if we could chuck grenades at each other, I said yes but couldn’t get the right dice (curse of the double 4’s and no 3’s) to do so and when it was his turn with a double 6 he brilliantly pushed forward a JOP so that he could deploy a section to close assault my dithering team. Unfortunately I wasn’t carrying much shock or pinned so he was facing an MG42 from the front. He lost more men than me so even though he wiped me out he had to withdraw – which I could see was plausible given the situation. I also got lucky with the ‘dustbin of death’ from the AVRE missing. I did make some stupid mistakes (I blame me still suffering from the lurgy) namely splitting Klinsmann’s team and pushing them forward like that and deploying Breitner’s team when I didn’t have to. I had appalling luck on the Bad Things Happen table too and my starting morale of 9 quickly dropped and I ended up on 4 when I decided to bail. But I did manage to cause some more casualties and maybe scare his tankers from getting too close to my infantry from now on. Let’s see how the new Zug gets on….

 

 

Operation Martlet: Fight 3 – Pushing on and bugging out

‘Verdamt!’. Beckenbauer quickly looked around at the men nearest to him, they didn’t look good and it worried him slightly. Ever since they had successfully disengaged from the advanced position and had reached this new one they had been under a terrific drumfire that had kept them all in the dug-outs and cellars that had been prepared for them. The strain was beginning to tell, they had already fought two actions since 04:00 that morning and had been lucky in that no-one had been killed but the odds that that luck would hold out were now very long. He had not been able to patrol the area to his satisfaction in between the waves of gunfire and when they had been able to the Tommies were very much in evidence.

He was wrenched back into the present by a ringing on the field telephone next to him: ‘Achtung, Englander!!’. He raced up the stairs of the cellar and into the observation post in the roof of the house he was in and looked out to see the Britishers advancing rapidly on their positions right on the heels of the gunfire, he also could see a massive tank with a strange looking stubby gun back along the road through the dust and haze too: ‘Scheisse!’. With that his mind was made up. He quickly ran back down into the cellar and reported what he saw to ‘Der Bomber’ who was still with them.

‘You’re right old man, no use in staying here to get slaughtered as soon as we try and move into position, especially as we don’t have that panzer any more. Tell the lads to fall back to the main line. No use taking any unnecessary casualties here and we’ll have more chance of holding them there.’ With that Beckenbauer wasted no time in calling his sections and telling them to pull out quickly, this round to the Tommies but next time would be very different…..


 

First up apologies for the tardiness in getting this written but I’ve had a terrible cold and cough for the past few weeks and just haven’t been in the mood, the campaign will be back in the New Year!

Basically Des played a blinder in the patrol phase (5 free moves I think!) and with me not being able to deploy due to the barrage he was right on top of my JOP’s in no time and he had the AVRE along too. Discretion being the better part and all that I decided to bug out as the platoon will be replaced after the next table so best keep them as intact as possible for that one and there’s more chance of holding him there and causing more casualties.

I rolled really well on the opinion tables though and although the CO’s didn’t change the men were very happy I got us out when I did and their opinion went up by 2 (it’s now 6 with the CO at 1, so not too shabby!).

As it took longer to set the terrain up than it did to play through the scenario we decided to play again. As Dan was without a game and I had enough with me to sort out another platoon we made the CoC bigger and had a great bash with the Jerries coming out on top thanks in part to a damned good stonking! Here’s a few pics (as usual click on them to have a better look!):

Operation Martlet: Fight 2 – More Fontenay probing

Beckenbauer shook his head. The action was twofold, firstly to clear all the loose dirt that had fallen in on him from the roof of the dug-out and secondly in slight awe at the continued ferocity of the enemy shellfire that was falling on their positions – “If only we had such artillery support, eh Jurgen!” he half shouted to the other occupant of the command post and smiled at the tall Swabian – “Go and fetch Huth and his lads and take them back to Headquarters, the old man is sending us up a nice surprise for the Tommies in their place.” The NCO smiled back and promptly ducked out of the door and set about his task.

‘Der Kaiser’ thought about the mornings action and was quietly proud of his men. They had seen the Englanders (“No”, he chided himself, “Britishers – they were ‘Jocks'”) off without any casualties and the men’s morale was high, the CO was pleased too and when he asked if he needed anything Franz had jumped at the chance to request some heavier weapons and was told that a tripod mounted MG42 was on its way up. He had decided to position it where Huth’s team were in the last fight, they’d really give the enemy something to worry about and might make the use of the house a more hairy proposition. Apart from the added firepower of the HMG not much else had changed, the Granary had collapsed due to the damage that it had sustained both in the last action and the intense barrage that had started to fall as soon as the enemy disengaged. That gunfire was the reason that he was unable to push any patrols forward but he was ok with the disposition of his men , they were more or less where they were before and he’d already been round to speak to them all and was confident they knew what they were expected to do.

He was brought out of his reverie by a familiar voice – “Haven’t they killed you yet old man!” 1.Zug’s commander turned to see the Adjutant standing at the entrance and a quick salute was swiftly followed by a firm handshake. “As Klopp was coming back to HQ I guessed that would mean you would have to run around looking for Iron Crosses when the shooting starts so I thought you might need someone here to help out. I’ve also brought that MG team up with me and I’ve even managed to acquire another Panzerfaust from somewhere.”

“Excellent sir, you wouldn’t happen to have a 2 week leave pass in your pocket too?”

“Now, you know those sorts of things are not for the likes of you or I Oberfeldwebel. Stop all that nonsense and get out there with your men”.

With that Beckenbauer picked up his machine pistol, pulled his cap firmly on and, pausing only to give a quick wink to ‘Der Bomber’, left the command post. He called over to the MG team who were sheltering in a roadside ditch, told them to follow and headed off through the barrage to the forward positions. Once he reached the front he told the Machine gunners to get set up in the forward trench and to watch the house over on the left as he didn’t think the Tommies would make the mistake of coming across the fields again. He took the ‘faust off of them and gave it to Breitner’s lads who were now hidden up next to him in the hedgerows by the crossroad, having swapped places with Zweite Gruppe. However one of Klinsmann’s lads was positioned up in the Calvary with his section’s anti-tank rocket too with orders to take on any tanks using the road (he’d be useless in the ‘bunker-house’ with it). He was certain that the enemy would be using armour this time and wanted to give as many chances as possible to stop any breaking through in case Schumacher and his panzer was knocked out. Nothing else to do now but wait, and he didn’t have to for long.

Movement was seen behind the hedge that ran away from the British house and it looked like a section was headed towards their position, some more helmeted heads were seen further back and the Gefreiter in charge of the HMG team decided to try and have a go at them. In reply he received a smoke shell from a mortar that completely blinded the team, it definitely looked like the Tommies were learning! Just in case the enemy was planning on trying to jump the wall opposite the collapsed building Ballack and his men were ordered up into the ruins to hold that flank. Pretty soon the field telephone rang and Klinsmann told Beckenbauer that from his OP in the first floor of the ‘bunker house’ he had just seen an enemy section leave the British house but that he couldn’t engage them as the shelling they were experiencing had trapped his men in the cellar of the house. As soon as they could dig themselves out though they’d be engaging the target. Also, a tank was on its way up the road.

Beckenbauer quickly fired off the signal flare to tell Schumacher that it was time to bring his tank up to engage enemy armour and peered over the hedges to his front to check if the smoke was still obscuring the view of the HMG team, it was. Over on the left the enemy had managed to cross the high wall opposite the barnyard and set up to attack Ballack’s men. First they threw a grenade which wounded one of Dritte Gruppe as well as Ballack himself and whilst they were getting over the shock a smoke grenade was lobbed, the Tommies were definitely learning! Under cover of this smoke some British riflemen started to move round the other side of the Granary ruins to flank the dazed German position.

A loud crack rent the air on the right as the Zug’s attached Panzer IV fired at the enemy Sherman, but instead of the green beast bursting into flames a loud ‘CLANG’ was heard and a streak of light shot into the sky as the armour piercing round deflected upwards. “Scheisse!” Schumacher immediately ducked back into the turret just as the return shot from the Sherman slammed into the cupola. Luckily it glanced off but he was hit by some spalling in the face and had his eardrums burst as well, the rest of the crew were rightly shocked by this turn of events but he quickly ordered them to keep engaging the tank whilst he concentrated on staying conscious.

 

With the outlook for 1.Zug looking grim, fate intervened and a large gust of wind got up and cleared the smoke away, and to make matters even better the British guns stopped suddenly. Beckenbauer reacted quickly jumping up and shouting over to the MG team “Take out those men by the house, and tell that lad with the Panzerfaust to get ready as he might have a tank to deal with at any moment”. The MG team didn’t need telling though as they were about to open fire and soon British soldiers were falling and the survivors were running back into the house in a semi-panic. ‘Der Kaiser’ shouted out again “Keep firing at them in the house, make them run!”, and so the machine gun started up again. The section that had jumped the wall also suffered from the shift in the wind as Dritte Gruppe opened up with their two MG42’s and even though they lost another two men to return fire pretty soon they decimated the enemy and they quickly retreated back over the wall to safety taking the men that were on the outflanking manoeuvre with them.

Beckenbauer again looked over the hedge and he was quietly pleased, the British infantry had been clearly beaten again and he was feeling confident, however he was worried about the Sherman sat out on the road, it hadn’t moved for a bit and he had only seen one more round from the Panzer graze its turret. Just as he was thinking what to do next the allied tank lurched forwards, and he shouted out to the lad waiting in ambush in the Calvary to get ready. Unfortunately the worried youngster took the warning as an order and fired, the rocket hitting the ground just in front of the target which was just about at maximum range. “Verdammt!”, Beckenbaur turned to the NCO next to him behind the hedge – “Paul get you men ready with the ‘fausts, we are going to have company very soon if those poxy Panzer boys don’t do their job!”.

Unfortunately ‘those poxy panzer boys’ were still in a state of panic, with their commander drifting in and out of consciousness and their optics all out of whack from another strike to the turret they just couldn’t manage to get a shot on target and the one that they did didn’t seem to do any damage at all, again deflecting harmlessly away. This seemed to give the enemy tankers confidence and they surged forwards along the road again. Breitner was delighted and ordered his two lads to open up with their Panzerfausts, there was no way they could miss but the British tank must have been made out of lucky horseshoes and both rockets sailed harmlessly past its massive bulk. Contemptuously ignoring the infantry for now the Sherman fired once more at the Panzer IV scoring another hit which caused the German tank to back up quickly and then the hatches popped open and the crew bundled out dragging their commander with them.

The field ‘phone went off by ‘Der Kaiser’ again, it was the Adjutant – “Franz, get the men out, no sense hanging around, they might have another tank on the way and we need to fall back to the next defensive line whilst we still have an intact force”. Beckenbauer didn’t want to give up the ground they had held so well but he knew that Muller was right, they’d given the enemy a very bloody nose and were in good shape and could escape without further loss so he agreed and got the message out to his men. “Fall back to the farm”.

The withdrawal went without a hitch, the enemy tank that had broken through their lines was easily dodged as it wisely stayed buttoned up and the enemy had taken such a beating that their infantry waited for them to leave the position before moving up. Ballack’s lads that were wounded were ok to carry on and Beckenbauer assured the Saxon that he’d definitely be in reserve next time round as the medics bandaged him up again. Once again the Zug had got through a fight without any losses, apart from the walking wounded of Dritte Gruppe the HMG team had someone wounded by a sniper just at the end of the fight but, again, not too seriously. The big loss was the Panzer, but hopefully the closer terrain of this new position would mean that the enemy might not attack with armour. Even with this setback, the men’s morale was very good and he was feeling secure in the knowledge that they would perform well in the next fight.


 

Des started this fight at a big disadvantage, he was down 8 men so had basically lost a section not only that but his men weren’t too happy and the CO had the hump too. He had planned to compensate for this by using mortars to flatten my position and hopefully cause me to bug out to prevent heavy casualties. The Sherman was to help in this if it managed to take out the Panzer IV and to try and make the breakthrough. I was happy to just wait and see what he did and was willing to ride out the pre-game bombardment if possible without putting anyone on the board – my men’s and CO’s opinions were great and I wanted to retain as much of my strength as possible. I went for the HMG as I figured he’d keep his men in cover so wanted something to negate that and the extra ‘faust as I figured he’d bring a tank too.

Luckily for me he lost his FOO in the fog and so he had to come up with another plan on the hoof and so pushed his infantry forward. Again I got lucky, rolling a triple 6 to clear the smoke and was able to catch his men in the open once more. With his infantry shattered and broken I was actually quietly confident I could see him off again, my luck definitely seemed like it was in –  I even threw well for all my morale checks not losing a point all night. That’s why I didn’t panic when it looked like I was going to lose the tank battle, I had 3 Panzerfausts he had to get past before he could get the tank off table. Obviously the dice gods didn’t like my cockiness as I missed with all 3 and then Des got a double phase to get his tank through and off the table.

Another cracking game and we can’t wait for the next instalment on Monday. We used another house rule this week, taken from the forum. Each time we rolled a double 6 we took an activation dice away from the next roll, seemed to be ok and neither of us got more than one extra bound so we’ll keep tabs on if this is an effective way to prevent ‘double 6 romps’ as we progress.

My lads came through without any casualties again and I’m sitting pretty opinion wise with the men’s morale on a +1 for the next game and the CO happy too!