After the fiasco of the attack by Unterfeldwebel Hohman’s Zwitte Zug it was the turn of Erste Zug to have another crack at pushing on to Mouen and to get the assault on the Britishers underway properly. Feldwebel Haringer was under pressure from the old man to succeed this time as the delay in cracking this first position might mean that the whole offensive would falter. After the first attack the Zug was down 3 men so each Gruppe now had 7 men each instead of 8 which hopefully wouldn’t be too much of a problem. To help out Haringer had a MG42 on a tripod and another PzIV (my support points were down to 12 now), intelligence suggested that the enemy were not as well supported as before too which boded well, if true of course. Unfortunately even though our morale had improved (9 instead of the 8 last time) the Tommies were buoyant after their recent successes (they rolled 11 and were +1 from men’s and CO’s opinion!).
The initial patrolling went much the same as the last two encounters and the first actions were similar too. The Brits deployed a section in the orchard to the left of the road and Erste Gruppe entered the fray along the road near the wheatfield and started to move over to prevent the British advancing too close. The plan now was to hold on the left with that Gruppe and the two remaining ones and the panzer to go for the breakthrough across the field to the right of the road. This was only to be done once the Tommies had showed their hand and if it was safe to do so, there would be no suicidal charges forwards this time, lessons had been learnt.
The fight developed well from the off with initiative being held onto at every chance (I rolled a lot of double 6’s which helped a lot – although the number of double 4’s rolled were more!). Once again there was a hot action along the hedge row by the left-hand house but this time it was handled a whole lot better. Surviving nearly being caught out crossing the road to get into position one of Erste Gruppe’s MG42 teams replied with a searing volley and then threw out a smoke grenade to cover the gap between the house and hedgerow allowing time to get onto overwatch. The other team then engaged the rifle team from the enemy section in the orchard which had worked its way round the house to execute the, by now, standard British manoeuvre in this part of the battlefield. This fire stopped the rifle team in its tracks and caused them to go to ground, not pinned but badly shaken up.
Meanwhile 2. Gruppe had deployed in the middle of the central hedgeline with the mission of identifying Tommy positions and taking them under fire. This they did with great effect. First of all causing a PIAT team to break after causing a casualty and then getting the better of a duel with the pesky 2″ mortar, although they did suffer one casualty from a well fired HE round the deadly return fire again caused the Tommies to break after suffering a casualty (they scored 10 hits on their first roll and consistently rolled well thereafter). The PzIV made an appearance as well and began a slow advance to take up a position next to Unteroffizier Janes’ boys to help out with their mission.
The enemy had now deployed another section into the orchard and 2 more PIAT teams in response to their losses. However, by careful use of ground the ‘heavy’ MG42 and it’s crew appeared next to 1.Gruppe and unleashed a volley at the riflemen in the orchard which caused them to be pinned and they subsequently broke after another volley (I played 2 CoC dice, one to move a JoP point and another to spring an ambush). The Britishers tried to counter the loss of this team by deploying the Bren team from the newly arrived section but this too failed in after the heavy MG dispatched them with another deadly barrage of bullets (I managed to get another double 6 and enabled me to get the shots away before they did).
Over in the centre one of newly arrived PIAT teams bravely took a long range shot at the PZIV once it reached the position by 2.Gruppe and even though it scored a hit which temporarily dazed the gunner the deadeye shots of the accompanying PanzerGrenadiers again did their work well and caused them to go to ground pinned. 2. Gruppe then turned their fire against the surviving Rifle team in the orchard and put some casualties on them whilst shaking them up quite badly. 3.Gruppe now deployed to add their weight to the battle and to start preparing the way for making the dash for the objective along with the Panzer now that the enemy anti-tank threat was being nullified.
The Britishers were suffering quite badly from casualties (their morale was now at 6) and after an attempt by both their reserve rifle and Bren teams to ambush the relocated heavy MG42 only resulted in a couple of casualties it looked as if it just wasn’t going to be their day. Shortly after the broken rifle and mortar teams routed off the table (I played a CoC die to end the turn) they decided that they had held up our advance long enough and withdrew before suffering any more – even though my PzIV had got stuck again on the hedges (a double 6 as well!). At last the way is open for the KampfGruppe to advance on Mouen and achieved with only 3 casualties, which turned out to be only superficial wounds, whilst the defenders had suffered a whopping 11 casualties and 4 men routed.
Feldwebel Haringer was pleased with his lads, they had fought well utilising their strengths – the devastating firepower of twin MG42’s – and had not stupidly exposed themselves to enemy fire whilst taking every advantage to hold on to any initiative gained. They would be ready for further action without any more casualties and OberLeutnant Albrecht’s opinion of him had improved (back up to 0) even though the lads were still smarting from the losses in the first fight (stayed at -1) another fight like this should see their opinion of him get back to normal.
I took on board the lessons of the last 2 games this time out and was determined to try and reduce Des’ force before attempting any rash moves – I was aided by the amount of double 6’s rolled but the amount of 4’s, which are usually useless if German and no SL on the table, evened that up I reckon. I seem to have hardly taken any photo’s of the game but here are the ones I did take:
Next up KampfGruppe Weidinger get into action…..