Sunday, 8 June 2014

D-Day 70th Commemorations and Games

There has been a great deal of coverage of the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the precious few remaining veterans have been honoured, including the relatively small but precious contribution made by Australian personnel, mainly in the Allied Air Forces and Navies. As a small part of this celebration of the liberation of Europe, my FLGS, the Hall of Heroes in Campbelltown NSW held a D-Day event on Saturday 7th of June.


The idea was to organise a ladder competition of various D-Day themed games, culminating at the end of the day in an overall win either for the Allies or Germans. Games of Flames of War, Bolt Action, Chain of Command and BattleGroup Overlord were all organised, a game each in the morning and afternoon. The results of each game would be tallied on a campaign chart to show overall progress.

Our small part in this was to make our debut as an official BattleGroup Demo team, as far as I know the only one in Australia, although I hope this will change, so that this excellent set of rules, with such  potential for tactical richness, can be promoted and accepted by a wider audience... 

Bloody Buron - The Sherbrooke Fusiliers advance down the road to Carpiquet Airfield. Off to the right 'PanzerMeyer' can't believe what a tempting target he has...
As Saturday was actually the 70th of D-Day +1, we decided to go with reprising the 'Bloody Buron' scenario. Some extracts from the Operations Order should help set the scene:



Aim     

The purpose of this scenario is to introduce BGO and gain a deeper understanding of the rules. For the purposes of the ‘D-Day Competition’, to get two games in, the Battle Ratings have been severely curtailed for a faster game, this can be taken as representing battle fatigue and attrition in this fast paced battle at which both protagonists had struggle hard just to get into battle. The scenario is a combination of ambush and hasty attack/defence, with a very powerful German team attacking from a position of strength, but with a short time to achieve hard objectives against tough opponents, and in the face of Allied air superiority.

Ground.

Just fourteen kilometres due South of Juno Beach lies the flat and open ground on the North Western Approaches to Caen, that eminently defensible key to holding the Western flank of the allied lodgement. Route d220 runs SSE from Buron to Authie and thence Franqueville and the key Airfield of Carpiquet. The villages are small but consist of strongly constructed buildings. See map at page 6.

Situation

1500 on D-Day +1 7th June 1944.The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division has penetrated inland, and holds both Buron and Authie. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders and the 27th Tank Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers), are on the heading South road in march order with the head of the column just past Authie and the tail just leaving Buron. Lying in ambush to the South East is the 25th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, along with Panzer IV tanks of Max Wünsche's 12th SS Panzer Regiment, all from the 12th SS Panzer Division ‘HitlerJugend’. These were in the process of preparing for a deliberate attack at 1600, but in view of the tempting target, SS Standartenfuhrer Kurt ‘Panzer’ Meyer decides to attack early… Supported by a battalion of artillery (Hummels, 3rd Battalion, 12th SS Panzer Regiment).
PanzerMeyer's view from the Abbey - too tempting to wait...
Mission

The German team is to attack and hold both Authie and Buron with at least 2 unpinned Infantry squads by the end of Move 6 with no or only pinned Canadian infantry within 6 inches of each village. Taking both will represent a German Victory, taking one a draw, and none a German defeat.

Execution Phase 1 – Admin (Phase 2 as per Commander’s Hasty Battle Orders)

Kampfgruppe Meyer:

a.     Orders and teams. The Battle Group can be split down into 2 or 3 Combat Teams, if desired, each under either Max Wünsche, PanzerMeyer Major Karl Bartling of the 3rd SS Heavy Panzer Artillery Regiment, splitting the 3D6+2 Orders dice accordingly, to be nominated prior to game start. The battle rating does not get split.

b.    Artillery Fire Plan –No offtable artillery – the Canadians have outstripped theirs and the Germans have not yet coordinated theirs, so will be taking it with them.

c.     Forming Up Point - 3 foot by 1 foot deep rectangle centered on the Abbey.

9th Infantry Brigade:

i.              Start as deployed by umpire with at least one tank troop and carrier platoon within ambush kill sac.



Orbat – 12th SS Panzer Division ‘HJ’ Battle Group Meyer

Battle Rating 37 Elite (BR halved due to fatigue on bombed up approach march) Orders 4D6 + 3

 25th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment – Company Group(Assault Troops) :

 1 x Company Commander plus 250/1 APC, 2 x Infantry Platoons, 1 x Weapons Platoon, Recce Platoon:



1 Plt (HQ plus 3 sections):

2 x Pistol, 3 x Smg, 3 x Kar98, 2 x Panzer Faust, 1 x PanzerSchreck

2 Plt (HQ plus 3 sections):

2 x Pistol, 2 x Smg, 3 x Kar98, 1 x Panzer Faust, 1 x PanzerSchreck

Weapons Plt HQ:

2 X SMG, 1 x Kar98

(Plt Cdr qualified MFC)

Recce Platoon

1st Section:

2 MG42, 6 x Kar98 1 x SMG (2 x LMG Team bases, 1 x Rifle Team base)

1st Section:

2 MG42, 6 x Kar98 1 x SMG (2 x LMG Team bases, 1 x Rifle Team base)

Mortar Section:

2x 81mm Mortar

MFC Team

6 x Kar98, 6 x SMG

2nd Section “

2nd Section “

SFMG Section:

2x MG42 Tripod mounted

3 x 250/1 APC

3rd Section “

3rd Section “

2 x 250/1 APC


 12th SS Panzer Regiment - Company Group  (12 Panzers) 4 Troops of 3 PzIV, 2 Troops of 3 Panther A/G. (Historical note - the HJ's Panthers did not actually take part in this engagement, as they were struggling to make their way North through the disrupted road and rail networks, but I added them to the scenario to give the German team more punch to give them a chance of achieving their objectives in only 8 moves.)

Plastic Soldier Company PzIV from Terry's collection.

Dragon Armour Panther

 Support Unit 3rd Bn, 12th SS Panzer Regiment Battery Group - On table Heavy SPG Section: 3 x Hummel 150s.

Orbat – 3rd Canadian Division 9th Brigade Battle Group
 


North Nova Scotia Highlanders Company Group:

Company HQ: Coy Cdr x 5 men, 1 x PIAT team and Jeep

1st Platoon NNSH - different coloured tufts help differentiate the platoons...AB figures.


1 Plt HQ:

1 Platoon Cdr  x 5 Men

1 x 2inch Mortar team

1 x PIAT team

2 Plt HQ:

1 Platoon Cdr  x 5 Men

1 x 2inch Mortar team

1 x PIAT team

3 Plt HQ:

1 Platoon Cdr  x 5 Men

1 x 2inch Mortar team

1 x PIAT team

Carrier Platoon

1st Section:

9 Men:

1 Bren, 8 Mk4 Rifle, 1 SMG

1 Bren gun team,

2 Rifle teams

1st Section:

9 Men:

1 Bren, 8 Mk4, 1 SMG

1 Bren gun team,

2 Rifle teams

1st Section:

9 Men:

1 Bren, 8 Mk4, 1 SMG

1 Bren gun team,

2 Rifle teams

3 x Infantry Carriers and MT to carry 1 platoon

2nd Section “

2nd Section “

2nd Section “

3rd Section “

3rd Section “

3rd Section “

 27th Tank Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers) Squadron Group:
Squadron HQ: 2 x Sherman M4A4
 

1 Troop:

2 Sherman M4A4

1 Sherman Firefly M4A4

2 Troop:

2 Sherman M4A4

1 Sherman Firefly M4A4

3 Troop:

2 Sherman M4A4

1 Sherman Firefly M4A4

4 Troop:

2 Sherman M4A4

1 Sherman Firefly M4A4


Support Units

L Troop, 105th Battery, 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery: 4 x M10 Achilles
2nd Allied Tactical Air Force: FAC plus 2 x Airstrike – 2 A/C 8 x 60lb Rockets.

Airstrike can be called by FAC if German AFV leave initial positions and end a move in the open. Any number of pairs up to 4 can be launched per strike, if FAC and A/C acquire target. 6 to hit. HE effect 5/4+ Penetration 8 on top (rear) armour.

 How the Games played...
 
Looking SSE from Buron to the Abbey d'Ardenne

For the purposes of the event's 'Competition Ladder' we agreed to play 2 games. which meant that each game had to be abbreviated to 8 moves, a hard task for the Germans to achieve both  objectives! The demo team crew, Terry and Craig, agreed to skipper each side, and alternate for the second game, so that the second game was much more tactically sophisticated. We also had several players rock up and take part; in one or both games; Vic, Shannon, John G and young Cameron. Thanks also to all those who spectated and said nice things about the game!

Early on in both games, we were informed by the Flames of War competition blokes that the Canadian assault wave had succeeded in taking JUNO beach, so that our game, set on D-Day+1, could go ahead!

Sherbrooke's making best speed South to Carpiquet, where the battle is, allegedly....

According to the oporder, the Canadians started the game stretched along the road from Authie back to Buron, presenting juicy flank targets to the powerful L48 guns of the PzIV's... In designing the scenario I had fully expected much of the Canadian armour to go in the opening volleys, but the German team were very conscious of the time limits imposed on them and were keen to start advancing, accepting the penalties to their accuracy. Nevertheless a few of the powerful Fireflies were picked off in the opening moves of both games... 




The German teams then advanced with PanzerMeyer's characteristic dash, in both games concentrating on the nearer objective of Authie.

However, in the second game it was pleasing to note the Germans, benefitting from lessons learnt in the first game, also moving their armour to interdict Canadian infantry reinforcements to Authie by attempting to pick off the NNSH carrier platoon which was shuttling the Highlanders into Authie.


Inevitably this resulted in the surviving Fireflies being able to retaliate: 



 - but, as our mantra became, this scenario, despite being armour heavy, was all about the Infantry, as fighting in built up areas always is! This belated realisation, combined with skilful use of supporting and well coordinated mortar and tank area HE fire by old soldier Terry resulted in the Germans effectively taking half of Authie and thus achieving a draw in the second game.




So with a Canadian victory in the first game and a draw in the second, our game contributed to the overall competition result of an Allied Victory. Interestingly, the  only D-Day beach where the Germans held was OMAHA!


With hindsight, I think asking the Germans to take both villages in 8 moves was a big ask, and if we play the scenario again as an all day game I will set the game for at least 12 moves. However our prime objective this day, apart from marking the 70th of D-Day, was to get the Demo Team together and introduced to the rules for the first time, and to start raising the profile of these excellent rules.

Battlegroup - Fun, fast and furious, but still a thinking man's game!
I think we succeeded in these latter objectives, both Terry and Craig were applying the rules themselves after a few moves, and both reported being happy with them, as were the other players and spectators. Terry, the wise old soldier, has a maxim that he won't adopt a set of rules until he's played them 3 times - but I am confident he will come to share my appreciation of the realism and potential tactical sophistication the rules offer in terms of both 'fire and manoeuver' and concentrating on using suppressive fire to 'brass up' objectives prior to the infantry going in close and only then actually expecting to inflict significant casualties. Both reaction orders also enhance the realism of the game.

Next demo game - BattleGroup Kursk, in July, appropriately enough!



7 comments:

  1. Looking real good! Well thought out and it looks like you guys had lots of fun!

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  2. Wow, what a game! Both in appearance and organization. Looks fun too! ;-) Thanks for sharing a very nice write up.

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  3. Excellent looking game - and a great write-up to boot.

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  4. Looks awesome and a great Normandy 70 game to showcase the Battlegroup set of rules.

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  5. Thanks for all the kind comments gents!

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  6. Brilliant report and photos, Sparker. That's a lot of armour for this game but you still managed two battles. Nicely done!

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  7. Impressive looking game! I've not tried Battlegroup yet, but getting 8 turns out of that much kit on the table is quite a recommendation in itself!

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