Sunday, 24 May 2020

D-Day Dusk - Part 2: Advance to Contact!

In the first part of this series D-Day Dusk - Part 1: Push to St-Mere-Eglise - Prep and Deploy! we looked at the preparations and deployment of the 8th US Infantry Regiment of the 4th US Infantry Division on the afternoon of the 6th of June 1944 as it set out from UTAH beach to link up with the beleaguered paratroops of the 505th PIR around St-Mere-Eglise. You can see from the comments for that post that Disgruntled Fusilier is a veteran of the 4th US ID and advised that their motto is Steadfast and Loyal. Well they sure were on the 6th June 1944! Even the deputy Div. Cdr, who landed with the first wave, won the CMH! 

To briefly recap, the 8th IR are attacking the 919. Hessian-Thuringian Grenadierregiment of the 709. InfanterieDivision in a No Retreat Mission. The four Rifle platoons have deployed opposite each of the two objectives, Nos. 2 and 3 Plt. on the wooded right flank, supported by two platoons of TDs, No. 1 Plt. out on the left flank in bocage fields, and the smaller 4 Plt. remaining in reserve in the centre... 

They are facing a Grenadier Platoon and a SF MG Platoon, with StuGs, PaKs, Nebs, and 120mm mortars in support. 

Left: US 8th Infantry Regiment coat of arms

No plan survives contact with the enemy!

The most immediate problem facing 3 Plt and the first TD Platoon is that the Nebs' salvo template is laid foursquare on the edge of the wood line nearest the first objective, and minefields cover the centre approach around it...

Leading off the first US turn, the second TD platoon moves to the right to support the first platoon of TDs - they are exposing their side armour to the PaK battery in ambush, but with a TD all the armour is pretty thin!

On the outskirts of town, maximising the American Observer rule which allow unit Cdrs to register arty strikes, the German SFMG platoon is successfully ranged in. No hits, but pinned...meanwhile, 1 Plt press on cautiously through the hedgerows out on the far left...

For the first German turn, the first roll for immediate reserves is successful - bring on the StuGs!

The next decision to be made is whether to spring the ambush for the PaK40s. The side shots of the M10s certainly looked inviting, but they would be engaging at long range and would be sure to invite quick retribution from the M7 Priest battery directly opposite them...

This being a solo game, and quite a weighty decision for the Germans, I let the dice decide - they counselled caution, so the ambush remained unsprung!

However the US infantry advancing through the town were getting a little too close for comfort, so the SFMG platoon,having successfully unpinned from the arty strike, decided to open up with 3 of its 4 tripod mounted MG42s - surely 18 dice would have some effect, even if the GIs were in hard cover? 

But no, only 4 hits, all saved, not enough to pin down the doughty Dough-boys!

The second US turn had all the grunts pressing on right across the table, but both infantry and TDs were treating the Nebelwerfer salvo template over the woods with great respect!

The TDs brassed up the German SFMG platoon opposite them...

But this had no impact on the dug in MGs, however the second artillery strike, now requiring saves to be re-rolled, destroyed one team and pinned the platoon.

The German second turn saw the first wave of StuG armoured reinforcements getting close to the scene of action, and yet another successful reserve throw saw the 120mm mortar platoon

arrive on table and get well on the way to deploying, with judicious use of the Follow Me! movement order. 

With the TDs now hunkered down in cover, there was no point in revealing the PaK ambush yet, so the SFMG platoon again took the yanks in the town under fire, again with no result!

The third US turn once again saw 1 Plt. advancing carefully out on through the fields of the left flank, the mortar platoon shifting to achieve range onto the distant objective, and 4 Plt. move down the centre road, keeping up with the advance but as yet uncommitted to either objective. 

3 Plt. was by now well into town and its lead elements adding to the discomfort of the German machine gunners, who also received a third arty strike and subsequent pinning.

With the third German turn, the imminent arrival of the StuGs, 

and the attrition by artillery and infantry of the MG platoon covering the German objective, suggested it was now time to reveal the PaK ambush!

Combined with the firepower of the lead 3 StuGs, 

surely the lead TD platoon, albeit in the cover of the treeline, would be devastated?

Well, not really... 

Indeed, for the fourth US turn, despite the armour engagement now developing, the priority was to get an observer into the town's church tower, the only vantage point that would allow the powerful US arty to engage the Nebelwerfer battery and so unstick the TDs and infantry that are rightfully hesitant to brave the Neb's large beaten zone before closing with the first objective... 

However once the US formation Deputy Commander was in position and 'netted in' to range in next turn, focus returned to the the TDs...

 Who duly returned fire on both the PaKs and StuGs...

And not without results - scratch one PaK and one StuG!

So as we conclude this instalment, we leave the game with the Germans having their next turn four. Will the remaining StuGs be able to deploy properly and gain revenge? Will the German infantry observer, hitherto a silent observer skulking in the town, be able to use the 120mm mortars to protect the machine gunners from the yanks on the flank? Will the US be able to start calling down fire on the dreaded Nebs and get things moving again? 

Find out all this and more on the next instalment of D-Day Dusk!

Sunday, 17 May 2020

D-Day Dusk - Part 1: Push to St-Mere-Eglise - Prep and Deploy!

US 4th Inf Div badge - IVy...
I would like to recreate the D-Day Campaign through Flames of War starting from the beach assaults right through to the closing of the Falaise Gap, playing all the Allied Armies depending on any particular battle that fascinates me. Logically I should have started off with the Beach scenarios, but my Beach terrain pack hasn't arrived yet! Hence we start with the afternoon of D-Day, as the the US 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Inf Div, having fought its way off UTAH beach, advances inland with the mission of linking up with the US Paratroops clustered around St-Mere- Eglise.

The 4th Infantry Division assaulted the northern coast of German-held France during the Normandy landings, landing at Utah Beach, 6 June 1944. The 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division claimed being the first surface-borne Allied unit (as opposed to the parachutist formations that were air-dropped earlier) to hit the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. They then struck inland to relieve the isolated 82nd Airborne Division at Sainte-Mère-Église.

So the lead Rifle Company of the 8IR has advanced swiftly but tactically southwards...

with no opposition encountered at Audouville, but warned that Les Boches are occupying the next village inland, Ecoqueneauville, just a few more miles through the tortuous Bocage country...

Our game will follow the 8IR as they combat the 919th Grenadier Regiment around Ecoqueneauville, using the No Retreat mission. 

The lead Rifle Company has been suitable beefed up:

The Company Commander, escorted by his FAO, 

and the Tank Destroyer's XO, 

have conducted a quick recce of the approaches to the town...

and made their combat appreciation, having weighed up the course open to them.

Their cunning plan: advance up both flanks and see what happens!

Being Americans, they have a generous fireplan to help out with indirect firepower:

But in the end, as it always does, it'll come down to the ordinary ole line Joes to get the job done!

For their part, the dought defenders of the Wehrmacht's 919th Grenadier Regiment
are also unusually well supported:

And they have had ample time to prepare a plan, lay minefields on all the key road junctions, and dig in:

With the 120mm mortars in reserve, the pre-planned fire plan is somewhat simpler than the US one, but with a salvo sized template, none the less worth having:

The Grenadier Platoon are well dug into the hard earthen banks of the bocage around the 2nd Objective:

 Leaving the SF MG platoon to be the first unpleasant surprise covering the 1st Objective:

 Or perhaps first blood will be drawn by the PaK40s lying in ambush:

Join us next time on D-Day Dusk to find out - Part 2: Advance to Contact!