AAR 1944 Belgium: The Koerselsesteenweg by Mark Luther
A battle report or After Action Report (AAR) for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum (IABSM), the company-sized wargaming rules for WW2 from the TooFatLardies. A one-off game or scenario set in Belgium in the year 1944.
An IABSM 6mm game played at Gigabites Cafe 2/2015
Road from Beringen, Belgium, Sept 44
This game is based on the engagement between The Welsh Guards and the recently arrived StuG IIIs of Schwere Heers Panzerjaeger-Abeteilung3/559 between Beringen and Helchteren, Belgium, Sept 7 1944.
View from the eastern corner
Beringen is up the road off the top of the picture. This is the target of the counterattacking forces under Oberleutenant Franz Kopka (played today by John F). The idea was that these units were the left hook of the German attempt to eliminate the bridgehead over the Albert Canal in Beringen.
Flat but boggy
Not a lot of thick terrain features. Treelines, low hedges, ditches and some farm buildings make up the scenery. But the ground is considered broken for movement and if two ones are rolled then the vehicle is temporarily stuck. On following turns the vehicle can attempt to unbog by rolling more sixes than ones, but if more ones are rolled then they are permanently stuck.
Welsh entry area
The Commonwealth units had to come in on the road and exit off the opposite edge. Their mission was to break out of the bridgehead and capture the town of Helchteren. They had No 1 Squadron of The Welsh Guards with Cromwells (15 tanks total) and No 3 Company of Welsh Guards infantry as tank riders. Rob T. had the PBIs and William T. the Cromwells in his first game of IABSM. No Fireflys or Challngers: apparently they were in the shop at this time.
William and Rob
Rob is at the entry point. Not a lot to discuss at this stage. They just need to move on down the highway.
John puts out his Blinds
The units under John consisted of the Feld Ersatz Bttn (FEB) 347 under Hauptmann Sick and the StuGs of 3/559. The Stugs had already lost two vehicles due to bogging before they even got to the table, so now had six StuG IIIs and two StuH42s. The grenadiers had three platoons of two 10-man sections for a weak company. And unfortunately NO panzerfausts. John's units came in on the NE long edge, 12" in from the corners.
Zipping down the Koerselsesteenweg
William had a troop out front without any infantry followed by his HQ troop and then the rest with infantry hanging on. He managed to get three turns of movement before the German Blinds came up. I was afraid that the game might be over before John had a chance to move.
Positions when the Guards were spotted
You can see some German blinds on the right edge moving in.
The troops with infantry stop and face the flank as soon as they see the Stugs appear.
John brought all his Stugs in on this spot. He wanted to avoid losing any with bogging if he moved across the fields and this track wrapped around the farm to link up with the main road. Before he could even open up on the Cromwells, his lead vehicle took a few hits forcing its crew to bail out. It was a zug leader so he transferred this man to the following vehicle.
The lead troop of Cromwells loses two tanks to the initial Stug fire. The third one is out of action with a faulty turret/gun. The HQ troop swings around the victims to the right. None of these tanks had passengers.
Stugs on line
John had one group of Stugs open up on the road column and put a hurtin' on the lead troop.
Another Stug moves into position
Looks like a good spot to snipe at the road
Infantry action on the other end of the table
One of the two-section grenadier platoons moves towards the road causing Rob to send back one of his platoons along with a troop of Cromwells.
Grenadiers on the right
John's first platoon hopes to get into some buildings close to the highway to cut off the Welsh.
2nd Platoon, No 3 company, Welsh Guards
Rob's 2 Platoon heads back to counter the grenadiers and comes under fire.
Two more Cromwells hit
Miraculously, the sections on them only take one KIA. Plenty of shock though.
Looks like this road is pretty effectively blocked
Welsh Guards advance is getting scrambled at this stage
Last troop heads back up the road
First they went back to help out the 2 Platoon, then they got Panzerfaust shy and backed away, and now going back up to engage the Stugs. I had mentioned to John that dropping a question about Panzerfaust ranges and strike numbers might convince the tankies that the grenadiers had some to play with. The bluff seemed to have worked
Exchanging small arms between the houses
The far right grenadier section is taking a beating and loses its platoon CO. Fortunately the Company CO, Hauptman Sink, is with the other section in another building close by. John's other two platoons with the Stugs have a total of three Big Men between them so he felt safe to send the Company CO with this one platoon. The Welsh in the trees off to the right are also getting hammered.
Looking for Stugs
This troop went back and forth on that section of road.
Deployed along the road
The HQ troop with two CS tanks is on the road behind two regular Mk IVs now at the head of the column. The Squadron CO is in the trees off to the right. Cromwell with bad gun is behind the infantry along the hedge. The other platoon is in a ditch (dark brown line). You can see two Stugs at the top of the pic.
Squadron CO is gone
Hit by one of the Stugs that is heading up the track from the farm.
Here comes the Stugs
Grenadiers moving up in the ditch besides them.
One Stug KO'ed and the others behind smoke
Most of the game William has been rolling pretty lousy on his strike dice. But when his two CS tanks with their short 95mm howitzers were forced to take on armour, he managed to blow up one Stug and damage another with one shot each, then plop some smoke in front of them with subsequent rounds to make an escape. Well played!
All hands facing to the left
Two platoons lining the roadside ditch and three troops of Cromwells face towards the Germans. Two more Cromwells are off picture at the bottom.
This is where both advances end
The Welsh are not getting into Helchteren and the German counterattack on the Beringen bridgehead is well and truly stymied. The lead grenadier section is getting hosed in the ditch by as many Welsh riflemen as possible. The Stugs risk getting hit as soon as they come through the smoke. One Stug has temporarily gotten bogged going through the trees
Standoff at the end
Total losses for the Welsh were four Cromwells KO'ed and two more damaged. They did lose their Squadron CO though. Infantry losses were almost all in the 2nd platoon with 11 KIAs. One other section had a kill. The Germans had two Stugs destroyed and two damaged. Grenadiers losses were only seven killed out of 60 men and one platoon leader. Historically, the Welsh were not halted and the Germans had at least one Stug taken out with a PIAT. Kopka ordered his Stugs to pull back to the RR Station. The Guards continued to move down the road brushing aside a couple of weak roadblocks. They were finally halted outside the town of Hechtel.