My buddy James Manto, also known as Rabbit Man, invited the local Gang In The Basement over to Rabbit HQ on Saturday night for a game to welcome me back to our Wargames AOR, which was demmed nice of him, demmed nice.
Myself, Dan and Mikey agreed to the onerous and morally challenging job of taking on a kampfgruppe of the 12th SS as we prepared to hold the key crossroads and village of St. Pierre Lapin against Canadian forces advancing out of their beachhead. We were given two platoons of panzer grenadier infantry, a troop of three Panzer IVs, another of three Panthers, two PaK 40 anti-tank guns, and a small HQ group including two HMGs and a group of tankhunters.
Here are the German initial dispositions. We had a platoon of grenadiers in the orchard forward on our right, strengthened with one of the HMGs. The Panzer IVs were in the village in the centre, along with the remaining elements of the company HQ. Our second platoon of grenadiers held the hedge on our right, supported with our two PaK 40s. Also anchoring our right were the Panthers, led by our best Big Man, a dynamic leader who was soon christened Dynamic Panther Man.
We didn't have long to wait to see what was coming at us. To our astonishment, the Allied player henceforth referred to as WW sent an entire infantry platoon through the hedge at Mike's platoon of panzer grenadiers. To be fair to WW, he hasn't played IABSM before, and didn't realize that the game rewards historical tactics and punishes bad ones. In IABSM terms it was the best possible target at close range, served up on a platter, or to mix metaphors, it was a hanging curveball over the plate.
So that was our home run, but the game was still in early innings.
And began shelling poor Mikey's grenadiers to blazes. The plan was for Mikey to fall back on the village, but unfortunately several turns passed before he was able to activate his platoon, which was shortly ruined and badly shocked. I guess the young lads chose to hug their foxholes and scrapes when all that armour appeared before them.
On our left, we opened up with our PAKs, but not all at once. I mistakenly held one of our AT guns and two of the three Panzer IVs in concealment, allowing the surviving Canadian armour to focus on a few threats when we might have overwhelmed the survivors with threats and increased our survivability. We lost one of the PAKs early on, thanks in part to some unfortunate dice rolled by Dan, but we also dealt out some punishment and soon the Canadian HQ troop was in ruins.
Undeterred, James continued to try and push his surviving armour around our left flank. Since my Panthers had duelled briefly with the Allied armour before them before Canadian smoke rounds masked them, I decided to pull our Panthers through the village to face the Allied threat on our other flank.
Alas that move was probably another bad call on my part, as it made our precious Panthers a target for Allied air support, which finally decided to show up after finishing a leisurely breakfast in England. The first two times the air support card came up the rockets missed, though the overhead threat kept our grenadiers pinned to their orchard and thus spelled their gradual doom. For a while the Jabo was just annoying, but on the third pass he nailed one of our Panthers, brewing it up. Fortunately, Dynamic Panther Man, who had by now acquired a theme song (to the tune of the old Spider Man cartoon show theme), survived.
While their second platoon of infantry push through the orchard, hard on the stumbling and shocked few of our infantry who were finally falling back on the village.
Could we hold? By now it was in the wee hours of the morning and we were all yawning, so we decided that with half the attacking force knocked out, the attack would likely be called off and a more organized assault teed up for the morning. If the Allies had pushed on to the village, it would have been a stiff fight, as we had our second platoon ready to go in to the counterattack in support of our HQ and remaining HMG, and still had five tanks operational, so who knows how it would have played out. A great evening with a robust set of rules that left new and old (me) players thinking of how they could improve their tactics, and a great reunion with some old friends and fellow Lardies.
From "Rabbits In My Basement"
My old friend the Mad Padre has finally been posted back to Ontario and is now a convenient 45 minutes away. So last night I had the crew over for a game to both welcome him back to the fold and initiate my new Sherman squadron.
The scenario is D+something, June 1944, outside the village of St. Pierre-Lapins. Bomber Command has given the vital crossroads a good pasting and now a squadron of the 1st Hussars (4x 4 tank troops and a Sqaudron HQ of three tanks) and two platoons of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles have to advance through the fields and orchards and seize it. A kampfgruppe of 2 platoons of panzer grenadiers (without tracks), a platoon each of three Panzer IV H and three Panthers supported by two PaK 40 anti-tank guns stand in their way.
We advanced on a two troop front and on the right got into a fire fight as the first PaK 40 engaged us across a field. The first shots missed but after a motivational talk from the Mad Padre, Pasha Dan started rolling better, causing some damage to my tanks with mobility kills and gun sights damaged.
On the left the Shermans took cover behind a hedge and let the infantry lead the way towards an orchard. Wally Wargamer got his platoon in line over the hedge and into the 9" auto-spot range. The Mad Padre issued his commands and Wierdy-Beardy lit up the unfortunate Winnipeg Rifles with a devastating salvo, shredding the platoon in one go.
The supporting Shermans started pounding the orchard with HE fire, but it was a bitter revenge.
On the right, the second PaK 40 and a Panzer IV in the ruined village opened up, brewing up the Squadron HQ.
Large amounts of HE fire from the Shermans did wipe out one of the PaKs, and the Panzer Grenadier platoon fell back to the next hedge line.
On the left some Panthers uncovered to engage the Shermans. After some desultory and unsatisfactory exchanges of fire with the Shermans, the Panthers then shifted to the centre but attracted two more fighter bomber attacks. The first missed and hit the Panzer Grenadiers in the orchard. But the second scored our only tank kill of the game.
So at game's end, Wally Wargamer had brought his second platoon over the road to sweep the orchard, chasing Wierdy-Beardy's shattered platoon out, trailing shock points and dead. Brett's Shermans were sweeping around the orchard to start getting flank shots on the Panthers who had arrived in St. Pierre-Lapin to start adding their weight to the fire fight with my two shattered troops burning merrily along the hedge row.
The Canadians had taken about 50% casualties in men and tanks (damaged, immobilized and totally brewed up). The Germans had lost about 25% of their men and still held the crossroads. Without a set piece attack with proper artillery and more infantry, I don't think 3CID will be getting the cross roads. Of course if the 12th SS can mount a quick counter attack the Canadians would be bundled right back to their start line if brigade doesn't get some AT guns and Vickers MMGs up soon.