The British No.2 tank troop joined 1st Platoon and No.1 Troop joined 2nd Platoon soon after. German HE fire was erratic, switching from one location to another each turn. This encouraged both British platoons to rush through the beaten areas toward their objectives.
Evans' 2nd Platoon covered by two MMG’s and the tanks dashed along the hedgerow toward the walled orchard north of the manor but luck was against them. HE fire caught the trailing third section, inflicting four Shock and the entire platoon went to ground.
Next turn the HE fire shifted away and with the help of Rally and Big Man cards Evans was able to remove all shock. While Evans was restoring order to his men the three M4 tanks of No.1 Troop rolled forward, crashing over the north wall of the orchard. One tank was disabled with a thrown track when crashing through the wall. They then fired their main guns at the north face of the manor itself. The wall collapsed in a heap of rubble and, unknown to the British, two Germans were killed and four Shock delivered to Obersturmfuhrer Bratwurst's squad with a MMG in the manor. Both the British and surviving Germans were unable to see each other through the dust raised by the collapsing wall. It was now up to Evans infantry to get into the manor sans support fire.
Stumbling through dust over the rubble, Evans lead two sections into the manor, quickly engaging Bratwurst's men in close combat. A brutal fight ensues in the gloom. Five Brits are down with four Shock on the rest, but the Germans lose Bratwurst, six men and a MMG. The five men remaining have six Shock. Considering the confusion and Shock, the five Germans are ruled as surrendering.
Meanwhile Graves' 1st Platoon and No.2 tank troop arrived just one hedgerow short of their objective. Looking ahead toward the house and last hedgerow nothing was seen. But what about the house to the left? Graves decided to send one tank and a section toward the house ahead covered by an MMG, two tanks, and the other two sections to discover any hidden Germans.
“Luck mates.” First section dashed across the open ground protected from flank fire by the tank to their left and entered the empty house. The advancing tankers watched the house beyond a low wall on the left and “spotted something there”. Can they fire first? The main gun barks sending HE into the building with no replying fire. “It was nothing…?” Graves moves his remaining two sections, two covering tanks, and MMG to the objective hedgerow.
The first tank section in the manor orchard risked disabling another tank and crashed over the remaining wall into the manor courtyard. Both made it.
Decision time for both sides. How would Dashwood-Brown use his reserve 3rd Platoon and No.3 tank troop? Where would Sturmbannfuhrer Merkin commit his 2nd Platoon and panzers? Most of all where were those damn German ATG’s and MMG’s?
All the foregoing took only an hour to play through. We decided to pause while Brits and Germans considered their next moves. Written so far mostly from the British perspective and not wanting to show favourites we call a break for Bier und Brats.
Resuming the game after the break we wanted to keep the pace of action up so allowed both sides to re-deploy as long as movement was under cover and not apt to be seen. Also, nothing could advance farther than the most advanced positions still held.
The Germans put their panzers in good ambush positions along with having received a reinforcement (a Tiger!) in an earlier turn. Their second infantry platoon put one Zug into the houses in the main part of town while two others settled in at the church with the mortar FO. One Zug was in the eastern woods with a MMG to guard that approach.
The British had decided that Evans' 2nd Platoon and No.1 tank troop would again risk becoming disabled by crashing through the south wall around the manor, advance into the large orchard, turn left to interdict the western approach road to prevent German reinforcements arriving from there.
Graves' 1st platoon would send one section to clear the two buildings on their left then probe into the eastern woods. The rest of the platoon along with No.2 tank troop would hold in place to engage anything seen around the church.
No.3 tank troop followed by 3rd Platoon and HQ would advance through the fields directly west of the main road and with their right flank covered by smoke rounds called by FO Lynn, and would seize the large building just west of the road. They would then push on through the fenced field to the town itself. Once the town was taken the church could be engaged from at least two directions. The final assault on the church would be from the western side.
At least, that was their plan. Things heated up fast.