The Mad Padre:
My mate James brought his late war 15mm Canadians over and we devised a scenario pitting his Sherman Squadron of Doom against some 12th SS panzer grenadiers, using Too Fat LArdie’s I Aint’ Been Shot Mum company level rules. I was very pleased that my friend Rod could attend. He was my boss when I was posted to CFB Suffield and he was the Base Commander there. After a distinguished career as a combat engineer, Rod left the military and now manages the maintenance department for the city of Guelph. When we were in Suffield he was too busy to attend a wargaming night, but was always intrigued when his junior officers would report on their experiences at the Padre’s Land Warfare Simulation Centre, so this was his chance to experience tabletop wargaming for the first time.
Here’s a little slice of Normandy. We weren’t trying to reproduce a particular action, just something generic (I plead being too lazy, mean busy, to research a specific action). Germans (me) have two platoons of grenadiers, a aug of three MkIV panzers, two 7.5cm Pak 40s , and a FOO with an off board battery of 81cm mortars which never showed up. Jerry could set up anywhere on the table. I chose to put most of my stuff on the right hand to the railway tracks. Canadians deployed on the left table edge. Here Rod surveys the terrain and wonders what he got himself into.
A good start for me. I put a tank killer team into the woods on the right hand side of the road below, and they took out the lead Sherman before trying to fall back on their supports. Unfortunately they weren’t fast enough and got bagged when the Canadian infantry caught them looking sheepish with a smoking Panzerschreck. “We give up. Tommy. What, this? How did this get here?"
I now committed a totally bone headed move and brought my PzIV zug out of cover, thinking they could support the lone AT gun I had currently engaged. My other mistake was not to site both PAKs so they could mutually cover a kill zone with the Panzers and all fire together with a better chance of overwhelming the lead enemy tanks. This was a disastrous mistake, as my Panzers all missed and were promptly chewed up by the enemy, including the dreaded Firefly 17pounders. Rod and James confessed later they were quite surprised (they were too polite to say delighted) by this move.
With my Panzers committed in the centre and pounded into scrap, and one of my PAKs smothered by an enemy barrage, I had little to stop the enemy tanks from hooking around my right flank. The grenadiers seen behind the hedge managed to stop one with a lucky Panzerfaust, but there was little else I could do.
Not as many pictures taken as I would like, but here’s a view of the Canadian juggernaut grinding forward in the centre. The little cluster of dice at the bottom right of the picture mark the spot where my one PAK is getting pounded by tank HE fire and off board artillery. It only claimed one victim. My dead panzers are a little further up the road shown at the bottom of the frame. The other PAK, very poorly sited, finally got off one shot and missed, then hooked onto its truck and skeddadled.
What can I say? I look good in a fedora, and I can put a nice looking table together, but my tactical skills are pretty miserable. I reset the table tonight, with a more intelligent German deployment, and it was much harder going for the Allies, so hopefully some lessons learned for me. It was pleasant to see Rod having a good time. During our debrief, be remarked that this war-game felt much more real than the kind that he played when he was in staff college. Those wargames tended to be all IGO/UGP affairs, with all the assets one could want (attack helicopters, fast air, artillery) on call and ready to deliver. Rod thought this felt more realistic, with a few scared leaders and men hiding in woods and a few others doing most of the hard work. I suppose the staff college games are designed to give students all of the tools in the box to play with so they have a better grasp of doctrine, but it was certainly a vindication for the Too Fat Lardies philosophy that a good game is one where players have to manage the friction of the battlefield.
If you like, you can read James’ highly self-serving and annoying account of the game below. He doesn’t mention what terrible luck I had getting the cards I needed. Even so, win or lose, a night of gaming and laughter with good friends is what the hobby is all about, and hopefully I’ll learn something for the next time. And there will be a next time.
Blessings to your die rolls!
The Mad Padre
I had a pleasant night playing I Ain't Been Shot, Mum at the Mad Padre's chapel of wargaming.
He invited a friend of his, a recently retired Combat Engineers Colonel to join us. Col. Rod had played staff wargames but this was his introduction to hobby wargaming.
The Padre set up a table with some plausible generic Normandy terrain on it. Before the Col. arrived we decided who would be the attacker and who the defender, which determined orders of battle. We decided the Canadians would be attacking with a squadron of Shermans supported by a company of infantry to secure the roads in the valley. My only other asset was a FOO. If I'd been the defender then the Shermans would have been replaced by the 6 pounder AT guns and Vickers MMG platoon. The Padre commanded his evil, kitten-eating, 12th SS and had two platoons of grenadiers, a platoon of panzer IVs (the Padre doesn't have an STuGs or tank destroyers yet), a pair of Pak 40s and then several panzerschrek teams and some MG42s from the company HQ.
The last time the Padre faced my Shermans (and the last time I had the full squadron out), he defeated them bloodily, with much the same forces. This time out, with Col. Rod's professional advice, we cleared the valley quite handily with the loss of only 3 tanks.
We started by sending two troops with Sqdn HQ, the FOO and two platoons of infantry up the center. Tank hunters in the woods on the left and a section of grenadiers in the wheat on the right fired rockets at us, knocking out one Sherman and putting a bit of shock on a second. This caused things to log jam and I brought the infantry up on either flank forcing the Germans to scoot.
The Padre then made a big mistake and brought his Panzer IV platoon out from behind the bocage to start a duel down the road in the open. Weight of numbers on the Canadian side, plus some good shooting from the Fireflies soon had two panzers in flames and after some more rounds of firing the third was so damaged the crew bailed out. There is a Pak40 in the woods beside the Panzer IVs. It was quickly shut down by the Canadian FOO bringing in some 25 pdr fire onto him.
Things were fairly exciting and I was busy explaining the rule mechanics to my team mate so I didn't take more pictures. The picture below is pretty close to the end of play. More Germans have revealed themselves lining the hedge rows. I have infantry platoons up on the left and right ready to be shot in by the Shermans firing HE. Over by Rod's elbow in the distance you can see our flanking force of two troops of Shermans (less one immobilized by a panzerfaust) moving around the wooded hill and making things untenable for the grenadiers there who had no AT support.
The second Pak 40, which the Padre had forgotten about, revealed itself off camera to the right. It took a shot at the leading Sherman, missed and then limbered up and scooted away before the very surprised infantry could assault it.
Game over. Allied victory.
I had been worried about AT fire from the hedge on my right, but it never materialized so I concentrated on the threats to our front. In the post action critique, we thought that if the Padre had put his Paks behind the hedge on my right and the Panzer IVs hull down on the wooded hill he could have caught my troops in a nice killing zone around the open cross road and had more fire to deal with any force coming on the second road through the town on the Canadian left.
The Colonel liked the friction introduced by the cards and randomization of the dice. Staff games are IGOUGO, everything does what it is supposed to and the results are determined by tables of probability. They don't experience friction until they get out on maneuvers. I'm looking forward to playing with Col. Rod some more. He was quite intrigued by the Padre's weird war figures!