We set up our gaming tables outside on a lovely July day to recreate the cold and damp Anzio campaign battle at Carroceto, January 25th 1944. Our scenario played out very much like the actual battle described in Robert Avery’s excellent "Anzio Wildcat to Whale" campaign booklet.
Our British Guards commanders stuck very closely to the historical plan--unbeknownst to themselves. A preliminary bombardment around the railway station was followed closely by smoke to screen the attack through and around the cuts in the elevated embankment. That was followed by a series of tough and vicious hand-to-hand fights around the station. It played out like the real thing. In fact it played out so similarly that the first officer casualty in the British assault was Lieutenant The Honorable V.S. de R. Canning, just as in the battle.
The British swung their four Shermans and their three Bren carriers (both still on blinds) through the cut in the embankment, past the smoke toward the right.
The Germans were frustrated in not getting their well placed three MMGs and two supporting 75mm infantry guns and two self-propelled 150mm armed Hummels into the fight around the railway station and this drove them to reveal those units off blinds early on. Their fire whittled away a considerable portion of the British infantryman and put in question the attempt at the railroad station.
Immediately after the German heavy weapons opened up, the Germans became aware of the Shermans and the personnel carriers coming out of the smoke and off of blinds. Immediately, a long but losing duel began with the British armor. Meanwhile, the Guardsmen made excellent use of their 2 inch mortars to vigorously mask the medium machine guns and 75mm infantry guns that were pelting them as they pushed towards the railway station.
The Germans gave a good account of themselves around the train station and their machine gun emplacement behind the village near the bridge was a continual source of British attentions. Their sniper deployed a bit too far forward and the tanks advanced and ran him off before he could do much damage.
The MMG nest at the bridge was continually masked by smoke from the mortars. Repeated close assaults on the emplacement from their flank were thrown back by the grenades and pistols of the machine gunners. A good portion of two platoons went down trying to knock out this one machine gun.
As this was taking place, the British armoured thrust up the middle had unfortunately stalled.
This gave the German tank killer team a welcome opportunity to slink down the creek bed and rush the tanks right under the not particularly watchful eyes of nearby British infantry. Two Shermans were brewed up before the tank hunters could be shot down.
Eventually, the bloodied British threw all the Germans out of all the buildings around the train station and the station itself—and then one medium machine gun team snuck into the back corner of the station. The one remaining Hummel SP on the other side of the stream made it hard for the Guards to reinforce and hit the gunners in flank, but they would eventually do so.
Meanwhile, the overall British commander in personal charge of the one squad of British infantry borne by the three Bren gun carriers persisted in his drive up the right flank over the stream and toward the cluster of buildings known as The Factory. The British second objective was the local Fascist party headquarters building at the Factory. The carrier section got lucky with their Bren guns andfinished off the medium machine gun on the second story of the building across from the Fascist party HQ, clearing the way for a dash at the goal.
The very next turn, the Captain boldly (one might say foolishly) drove straight up to the front door of the Fascist party headquarters. At that moment, of course, the last intact squad of German infantry lept at them from the upper story, grenades flying and rifles blazing. Against all odds, the equally numbered but highly disadvantaged (albeit well lead) squad of Guardsmen nearly wiped out the German defenders in the first round of close combat and sent them fleeing. The second objective had been captured, and the day was won.
Lee and Robert had a well thought out defensive set up and responded dynamically. The British persisted bravely and showed an imaginative and flexible attack that pried open the defences and won the day. Well played Brandon, Mike, and Will.