Thursday, 10 March 2016

Operation GROUSE August 1944 - Attack at Le Haut Perrier

1st Welsh Guards - pictured during the earlier Goodwood operation in July 1944
This coming weekend I have had to come up with a game at short notice for our monthly meeting at the Devon Wargames Group and after really enjoying getting out the WWII collection and revisiting IABSM v3 last month fighting the Arnhem themed Baskeyfield VC scenario.

Baskeyfield VC - I Aint Been Shot Mum

This month I decided to have a bit more armour out on the table and not having used my Churchill tanks from the 6th Guards Tank Brigade, settled on a scenario from "Cymru Am Byth", translated as "Wales Forever", scenario book by Richard Clarke covering the wartime exploits of the Welsh Guards with sixteen scenarios and a mini campaign.

After Normandy, the Guards Armoured Division split up into battle groups of infantry and tanks from the different Guard regiments and my Dad, with the 55th Field Regiment RA, spent most of his time attached to the Welsh battle group, so I have an interest in the exploits of the Taffs.

So the scenario selected was "Let's Get at the Bastards", Scenario Twelve from the book

To set the scene for the weekend game, I thought it might be interesting to summarise events prior to our little battle. The map below shows the front line in Normandy on the July 25th 1944 with American forces established on a line from Lessoy to St Lo and ready to take advantage of the German positions which, due to their perceived threat of an Allied breakthrough around Caen, saw 80% of German armour positioned on the Anglo/Canadian front close to that city.

Operation Cobra, the US offensive, when it came, was the longed for break through and saw the town of Avranches and the route into Brittany and central France firmly in American control by the July 31st, heralding the beginning of the end for German forces in France.

To help pin down any attempts by the Germans to move troops to their western flank the British launched a complimentary offensive on the 30th of July, Operation Bluecoat, designed to take control of the vital road junction at Vire and the high ground of Mount Pincon, with both objectives falling to allied troops on August 6th.

In their desperation to restore their line and halt the rapid progress of the Americans, German commanders launched Operation Luttich, the Mortain counter-offensive the next day, looking to break through to the western coast and cut off American spearhead units. With ULTRA warning American commanders of the planned attack and with few German armoured reserves left or, for that matter, in any fit state to launch an offensive, the counter-attack was over by August 13th with barely any effect on the Americans progress.

Thus the scene was set for the launching of the British offensive, Operation Grouse designed to precipitate a collapse of those German forces still contesting the allied advance and which would see the British 3rd Infantry Division and Guards Armoured Division, drive in the 'full of fight' remnants of 9th SS Hohenstauffen Division, as pressure was brought to bear on the rapidly collapsing German front line.

One of these attacks led to the fight for control of the little cluster of farm buildings on top of hill 242 overlooking Chenedolle at Le Haut Perrier and is the subject of the chosen scenario.

What makes this scenario have added appeal is the inclusion of three troops of 3rd Scots Guards Churchill tanks that supported the 3rd Company 1st Welsh Guards on the day of the attack. A unit I built a few years ago with this game in mind, but that have never been on the table in anger.

Churchill tanks of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade, pictured during Operation Bluecoat
The Guardsmen find themselves tasked with taking on a battle-group from 9th SS Panzer Division determined to resist to the utmost and force the Tommies to pay a heavy price for any ground taken

The map for Scenario 12 showing the German set up positions with the British entering the table from the north edge
So the "battle-box" is all loaded up with the impedimenta of tabletop warfare  and as you can see the forces are mustered. In addition I have pulled together revised IABSM V3 scenario briefings with the updated force stats all put on one sheet for the respective sides to refer to.

JJ's Battle-Box
I am really looking forward to seeing these "bad-boys" on the table, although they will be facing a stern test that will see how thick the armour is on a Churchill Infantry Tank

Scots and Welsh Guards ready to go
As I said, a stern test awaits the Guards.

SS Heavy Armour
So if you are keen to see how this one plays out, I will of course be posting a game report on the Devon Wargames Group Blog, and looking to try out something new that I saw on another site, namely using the Aviary app on the IPad as an alternative to blinds.


  1. Jonathan, you are a model of organization and preparation!
    Great work on the Panthers.

  2. Yes a stand out post - Section Battle Drills # 1 - Preparation! Looking forward to the rest!

  3. Yes great start to what promise to be a great batrep!

  4. Tough day out for the Brits.

    Look forward to seeing it.


  5. This looks superb & a treat for all who participate. Good luck!

  6. Thanks chaps, glad you enjoyed the read

  7. 3 panthers were spied by Lt Hickling. 8 troop. S Sqd. 3 Scots Gds.
    Lt Wards troop being closer stalked them. Knocking 2 out. I believe the Welsh Gds claimed the other at Le bas perrier. Between Le Bas & Le Haut perrier, mines dosabled Skye Tank. 8 troop. S Sqd.
    The crew made their way back following the tank tracks(b/c of mines). Mortared in open field. Dived for cover. No casualties. At the bottom of the valley between Le Bas Perrier & Presles was a R.A.P

  8. My grandfather was Sgt Reginald Fowles who was involved directly in this battle and I have been trying to find out more about it

    1. Hi there.
      I suspect my own Dad served in this action as well, as the 55th Field Regt often operated in close support with the Welsh Guards.

      If you would like to see how the game played then just follow this link to my follow up post on the Devon Wargames Group blog