|The US troops press on into St Germain du Pert on a mopping up operation after a hard battle to take the village|
The link below will take you to the first post covering our initial games in this campaign and the background to starting it.
Chain of Command - Devil is in the Detail
In the last game Ian, commanding the German forces, forced Steve and I to go away and rethink this battle after we had only just grabbed a bloody draw after seemingly been staring our first defeat full in the eyes.
On reflection we felt we had not stretched the German defences enough, but worst still had our troops poorly deployed and unable to mutually support one another leading to our attacks going in piecemeal and being defeated whilst others could only look on and do nothing to help.
This time we were determined to do things differently and not squander the opportunity to get the US series of wins back on the road, conscious that poor old Ian was probably reeling from the casualties he sustained in the last battle for this village with a lot less opportunity to repair those losses than us.
The picture above gives an idea in the slight change made to the US attack in that this time all three US squads supported by their two platoon commanders deployed supporting each other around the hedged field top left with two bazookas and a flamethrower attached.
In addition the US tanks quickly deployed from the road taking advantage of an extra vehicle with a troop commander aboard better able to coordinate their movements and set up over-watch as the US infantry closed on the nearest building.
We had concluded from the last game that it was imperative for our tanks to get onto table first and get deployed wide of the road to give them over-watch down the road into the village able to reply on any deployment by the Germans be that infantry weapons or Marder IIIs from behind the rearward buildings, that so badly shot up our infantry in the last battle.
The battle reflected the casualties sustained in the last fight as far as the Germans were concerned in that Ian could only afford to hold one part of the village in force and he had decided to make the church and its high walled graveyard his main point of defence, leaving the farm buildings, that had caused us so many casualties in the last attack, open to being taken quickly by a squad of our infantry.
However the reward the German force attained for its repulse of the first US attack was an opportunity to strengthen their position with the addition of a minefield that they chose to place astride the road next to the church wall, as seen in the picture above.
That said, the squad approaching the corner of the churchyard, using the hedgerow as cover, whilst others were on over-watch during their movement suddenly caught the wrath of the MG42 and its supporting riflemen as up they popped along the church wall and delivered a withering fire.
However this time they invited a prompt response as both a supporting squad of infantry to their right and three Shermans on over-watch to their front, replied with small arms, machine-guns and HE fire that punched holes in the wall and killed and wounded the troops along it.
Ian's men were taking a beating in the firefight and so he deployed the Panzerschreck that missed our tanks in the last battle but left the armoured troops cautious about getting to close to the buildings in this particular battle.
It still took the German team two more shots to get a successful strike against the American tanks but in the end a rocket streaked out across the open ground and the first tank was struck effectively enough to knock it out hitting the troop commander's vehicle in the centre; but luckily both he and his crew made a successful bail out and retreated to the safety of the hedgerow behind, as their tank cooked off.
Whilst the duel between the German infantry and US armour went on the US infantry closed on the village, taking the farmhouse on the furthest side of the road from the church and deploying the flamethrower in the field, to fire its deadly load into the churchyard via the large iron gates facing the road, catching German troops falling back from the battle they had had on the front wall.
The effects in terms of casualties were moderate, but the effects of double shock were most impressive and when further rounds of tank HE and hull machine-gun fire were thrown in for good measure, the German troops in the church-yard were left reeling and forced to try and take cover as best they could, behind the building.
Facing this onslaught of fire the Germans were left with no other card to play other than trying to get the Marder's into the fight, but this time the Americans were ready for such an eventuality and the US tanks were well sighted along the road to get in an early strike damaging the gun on one of the arrivals, leaving it with just its machine-gun.
Now occupying the farm house, the US infantry were also able to deploy the bazookas with one achieving a hit causing shock on the offending crew but leaving the Marder in a dangerously close position to the infantry nearby.
With the German command teetering on one more morale point to cause them to break off the combat, the US tanks fired and one got a grazing shot on the hull of the German AFV that was not enough to knock it out but serious enough to cause its crew to abandon it and enough to break the Germans will to resist any further.
Wow! What a game, the best so far. All of us around that table were exhausted with the tension the game produced in that the battle was both hard fought and never predictable, being only over when it was over.
Ian played a hard, well fought defence with limited resources and pushed the American force to battle for a win all the way and both Steve and I were as much relieved at closing the game out as any other feeling.
|Our platoon earning a well earned break after four gruelling battles clearing the road to Isigny|
This week we are taking a break from our normal Tuesday gathering but will be back next week to resume the fight along the coast from Omaha beach to Isigny as our troops are ordered to neutralise the threat of a German held position to the right of the road, the radar station at Cardonville, table four.
So far in our four games we have committed a total of four platoons with attached support, totalling 189 men and nine Sherman tanks.
Our losses have not been inconsequential with fifty men killed and wounded and four of the Shermans knocked out.
In return we have killed an estimated twenty-one German soldiers, injured another twenty and knocked out a Marder III and a 7.5cm infantry gun.
Still lots of hard fighting ahead with at least two more scenarios to go and Ian, Steve and myself are progressing up the learning curve in discovering the delights that Chain of Command has to offer.
Thanks to Jason for setting up the games with his delightful collection and guidance throughout.