Thursday, 23 April 2020

Breakout Normandy on Vassal - D+4

A couple of weeks ago, Steve M and I started our first game of Breakout Normandy (BKN) using the Vassal system as an alternative to our normal get together on a Tuesday night for board-games.

The evening of D-Day with a solid Allied landing and all to play for on D+1

In the first part of recording how our game was progressing I showed how we left things;
Breakout Normandy on Vassal - End of D-Day
following the Allied landings on D-Day with a fairly solid landing, with a particularly good one on Omaha, which can be a bit tricky if things don't go well.

Well since then we have had two more nights play getting through two days of battle on each meeting and the Allies have had a bit of a torrid time ever since getting ashore.

Our D+1 next meeting got off to an interesting start as Steve started the German impulse with an attempted bridge blowing in front of Omaha at Trevieres and lulled me into a false sense of security by rolling a one!

The overall position at the end of D+1

It wasn't all bad for the Allies in that Omaha was cleared and extended into Grandcamp, but two attacks by the Big Red One to clear the gun emplacements in Port en Bessin were repulsed leaving the guns available to interdict both Omaha and Gold beaches which would prove a bit of a problem in later stages of the follow up landings.

D+1 Close Up illustrating the Bayeux and Pont l'Abbe areas of concern.

Likewise the British 50th Division and the 8th Armoured Brigade managed to deal with the 1st Flak Regiment and take control of Bayeux, but leaving the 50th in a sticky situation with a brigade disrupted and the 8th Armoured spent for the next day and with German artillery closing on the area together with elements of Panzer Lehr.

In addition to the Bayeux situation, supply requirements left the 82nd Airborne in Pont l'Abbe on their own and with a regiment spent as German elements moved down from Cherbourg.

D+2 was to reveal the exposed situation of the areas highlighted at the end of D+1 as an unfortunate Allied die roll caused the weather to become overcast and thus restricting Allied air-cover seeing a rapid advance of Panzer Lehr and the Cherbourg garrison as they closed in on the respective parts of the Allied front

End of play on D+2 with a combination of Steve making the best play to counterattack during overcast conditions coupled with some atrocious Allied die rolls on my part that made a bad situation that bit worse - c'est la guerre!!
As the close up map below reveals the 50th Division, previously in Bayeux, back where they started, disrupted and less the 8th Armoured Brigade having taken a pasting from German guns in Trevieres before the Americans could deal with them and then succumbing to an attack by the 352nd Infantry with an appalling die roll that left them no option but to soak up the hits by withdrawing.

End of D+2 close up showing the yellow disrupt markers littering Gold beach as 50th Division are ejected from Bayeux, that annoying coastal gun at Port en Bessin still popping away at Allied landings and not a trace of the 82nd in Pont l'Abbe. Oh dear how sad, never mind and bravo Steve.

To add yet more woe to the Allies, the Big Red One bounced off the gun positions in Port en Bassin for a third time and the 82nd Airborne got chased out of Pont l'Abbe as the Cherbourg garrison sped down the road from Cherbourg delighting in the cloud cover and making full use of their numbers to bully their way into the airborne forward area.

The only plus from D+2 from an Allied perspective was a solid landing by the Americans of their followup units and principally their artillery assets that were pushed forward at Omaha and Utah, together with British Corps artillery to stiffen the divisional batteries and keep the Allied perimeter secure, however not exactly the position you are looking for as an Allied commander trying to push inland in the first week.

End of D+3 with Panzer Lehr and 12th SS Panzer closing on the Allied front and with the Cherbourg garrison mustered in force around the Utah front supporting 6th FJD. The US 2nd and 4th Divisions failed to clear Isigny and Carentan as I had hoped with the Allies rolling a 18 vs 6 in the attack on the latter only to have Steve throw in the 'Advantage' to re-roll the result, leaving things as shown. Even 2nd Armoured CCA got pinged on the way in to landing at Omaha from those pesky guns at Port en Bessin.

With the Germans in a strong position after two days of battle and with them holding the advantage and only three out of the nine victory points held by the Allies, D+3 would have to be a cautious battle with the Allies trying to grab some extra victory points whilst keeping their position firm as 50th Division at Gold continued to rebuild.

Close up of the front at the close of D+3 The Americans are pressing to link up Utah and Omaha and capture some victory point areas, with a growing threat developing in front of 6th Airborne on the Orne in Merville.

In addition to the strong German position D+3 was also overcast, so no Allied airstrikes or interdiction on enemy movement, making the situation more problematic.

In the end I decided to content myself with minimal activity on the British sector, moving the Canadian Armour into Gold whilst the 50th reorganised for another day and hoping to clear out the gun battery in with 6th Airborne, now up against three batteries of German artillery in Holgate.

The main thrust was on the American sector with a drive to link up the beaches and pick up two victory points to boot.

Sadly my attacks weren't as successful as they could have been, but at least the areas ended up contested and the weather was set to change for D+4

End of play on D+4 with the situation looking a bit sticky from an Allied point of view with just two days left of the first week, an overcast day coming up only three VP in the bag and a strong cordon of Germans not looking to fall back any time soon!

With the overcast day of D+3 out of the way the Allies were looking to recover some lost ground, namely the two days to recover 50th Division now with added support from the landing of 51st Highland Division and 7th Armoured waiting to follow up.

Additionally 2nd and 4th Infantry were threatening now to join up the American beaches and to link up with Gold finally with the eradication of the Port en Bessin coastal gun position which should have been cleared two days previously.

Close up of the beach head D+4
In the end the D+4 was probably as good as could be expected for the Allies in the position they are in with the Merville area finally cleared and the Commandos from Sword pushed in to support the hard pressed 6th Airborne.

The 51st Highland Division landed but had their armour and one brigade go spent from the guns in Port en Bessin interdicting before being finally cleared by US 1st Infantry Division, linking up the British and American beaches

US troops cleared Isigny, but the 4th ID have a tough fight still around Carentan.

All in all with the next day overcast and only two days left it will be a big ask to get the required six victory points with the areas needed being a likely combination of Caen (4VP), Carentan (2VP), Bayeux (2VP) and Catz (1VP) and possibly including Foret de Cerisy (1VP) and St Lo (2VP).

The Germans are in a commanding position as Steve and I enter the final two days of our BKN game next week

D+5 will likely show the final situation and Steve has got the Germans into a very commanding position with the Allies having to make up a lot of ground.

Next up - All at Sea naval builds focuses on HMS Royal Sovereign and a generic British 1st/2nd rate three-decker and I have posts for Tonnage War and a book review to come.


  1. Very interesting play through. I await the conclusion!

    1. Thanks Jon, I think I have a tough task to get near a result!