Myself and Des have embarked on a new CoC PSC, and one that is very intriguing indeed. It is produced by PTO Games and you can pick up here from Wargames Vault https://www.wargamevault.com/product/151925/Crossroads-Closing-the-Gap. It is set in Normandy right at the end of the fighting there and in particular the 4th Canadian Armoured Division’s attempt to bottle up the German units retreating from the Falaise pocket. The campaign focuses on the actions around the village of St. Lambert-sur-Dive carried out by a battle group consisting of B Coy/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and the tanks of C Sqdn/South Alberta Regt under the command of Major David Currie (who would win the VC for his leadership in this battle).
The German’s have a mixed force consisting of an infantry platoon that fights for the first 4 battles falling back after each one no matter the result who then hand over to a Fallschirmjager platoon who conduct the fighting in the village itself, both of these platoons also have the chance to pick up the odd panzer here and there too. The Canadians are limited to one platoon which receives only one limited amount of replacements inbetween the two halves of the campaign and they are also limited to the the 15 Sherman’s of the Alberta’s so if they somehow lose all of their tanks they don’t receive any more – they do also have a platoon of M10 Achilles on hand too though.
As usual I will be playing the Germans but unusually to me we are playing in 15mm. I’m going to go with some characters from my previous campaigns but splitting them into the two different units, so meet ze gang cos the herr are here…
Heer Zug Kommandant: Unterfeldwebel Hamann, 26, Bavarian, the company gambler and was a journalist.
Erste Gruppe (Black): Obergefreiter Schürrle, 22, from Pfalz, a city lad from Ludwigshaven.
Zweite Gruppe (White): Gefreiter Rösler, 22, Thuringian, a former gamekeeper.
Dritte Gruppe (Red): Obergefreiter Pogatetz, 21, An Austrian, from Graz, nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’.
Fallschirmjager Zug Kommandant: Leutenant Hitzlsperger (der Hammer), 23, Bavarian, former banker, he is tall and thin.
2nd in command: Unteroffizier Klopp. 26, Wurttemberger, a strapping bloke and former gamekeeper. Quite religious.
Erste Gruppe (Black): Unterfeldwebel Völler, 24, Hessian, Party member, model citizen and popular in the unit.
Zweite Gruppe (White): Obergefreiter Rumminigge, 21, Westfalian, country lad.
Dritte Gruppe (Red): Stabsgefreiter Krankl, 25, Another Austrian, a thin and pale city boy from Vienna.
We have already fought through the first two fights and I will be posting the write ups either later today or tomorrow.
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.
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”.
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 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.
” 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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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’.