“Hey sarge, it true the new captain is a regular sent down from a staff job?”
“Yeah, but don’t let it worry you Masters. Word is Captain Zemaitis led Item Company in Normandy ‘till he stopped a fragment from our short drop bombers near St. Lo. He was put on staff when he got back a month ago.”
“Well, he missed out on that lousey forest mess then” piped in Cpl. Porath.
“Still knows his business” Ptn Sgt Kramer shot back.
“Told Lt. Dybas of 1st platoon to get his two right squads back into the woods and under overhead cover and to rotate men from the woods to the house so they could warm up a bit” Kramer continued.
“He’s real unhappy about the Krauts being able to approach 3rd platoon over on the right so easy too. That mushy little stream is no obstacle and they got a lot of cover. That’s why he beefed 3rd up with the squad from 2nd.”
“So what’s to worry? This is a quiet area. It’s why we’re here recovering from the Fantastic Forest” commented Pvt Kaplan.
Meanwhile, on the other side of that “mushy little stream” German Volksgrenadiers were moving into position.
“My StuG’s will join you once our artillery opens up. Sooner than then the Amis would hear our tracks clattering and might wake up” Hauptmann Winter told Leutnant Opitz.
Opitz replied, “It would still be too late for them. My grenadiers will open the way. Let’s hope the bridge will support your tracks.”
Winter nodded, “That verdammt stream would bog my guns but I trust our pioneers to quickly strengthen the bridge while our bombardment covers any noise.”
“So we take Waldau, turn north and roll the Amis up beyond Brumau opening theHohenzell-Brumau-Karsdorf main road to the west for our panzers.”
“Yes, only the Hohenzell-Brumau bridge will take the weight of our Panzer V’s. No bridge, no panzers.”
So went the pre IABSM game actions of participants in our “It’s not over ‘till it’s over” fictional Battle of the Bulge game using sections of the Meckel Kriegspiel map. The ground scale was reduced so the US and German companies would use map sections D 3-4 and E 3-4 on a 5 x 6 table.
Our plan is that if the German players open the main road they will be able to push a reconnaissance unit followed by panzers and panzer grenadiers across the map toward Silberberg on the road.
Initially opposed by one US infantry company reinforced by a few towed anti-tank guns in map sections D 3-4, the Germans start with one Volksgrenadier Company and a platoon of four StuG III’s following up a strong artillery stonk.
If the Germans succeed in sections D and E, surviving US troops must fall back and cause delays while reinforcements are rushed forward to protect the Nennweiler-Karsdorf and Kippringen bridges and generally strengthen the Selz River line.
We hope for a multi game IABSM mini campaign out of all this. The forces have all been roughed out but aside from the first scenario locations for US delaying actions (if any) will be decided by player decisions and events.
If the US cannot cause enough delays the Germans will reach the Selz River quickly. The Karsdorf-Nennweiler bridge is currently defended by only a weak infantry company and engineers without explosives.
Game One: The Attack on Company G
Company G awoke to a strong German stonk (strength randomly determined, minimum three stonks, received seven) across it’s entire front. Moderate casualties but a lot of confusion (shock) and a building overlooking the stream near Waldau was set alight.
Third platoon covering the Waldau area spotted Volksgrenadiers crossing the shallow stream below. Lt Phillips radioed company alerting them to the attack while the German infantry splashed across the stream (first turn let German advance begin, second ended quickly giving time for some US recovery and communication with HQ).
Third turn: One 3rd platoon squad threw back a German two-squad assault in close combat while the squad in the burning building pinned the lead squad delaying another platoon advance. Company mortars at Brumau dropped rounds among the Volksgrenadiers but caused little damage.
But Leutnant Opitz had concentrated his entire company against the US 3rd platoon so by turn five the US front was broken leaving only the extra squad attached from 2nd platoon at Waldau in the US 3rd platoon area.
Leutnant Opitz ordered two platoons of Volksgrenadiers to bypass Waldau and move toward Brumau while his 3rdplatoon was left to clear the village.
With no other leaders around Cpl Mickus took charge of the Waldau squad (random chance for a new leader to appear succeeded) with a 57mm ATG. They put up a strong defense, halting the attacking German platoon in open ground leaving the Germans to find what cover they could from the punishing US fire.
Then uh-oh, Hauptman Winters’ four StuG’s appeared. But they too were bypassing Waldau to attack Brumau from the south. In Waldau Cpl Mickus kept his men calm ‘till the armor had passed giving the ATG a rear shot at the last StuG in the column. The 57mm took two rounds to KO the StuG.
Brumau was held by two squads of 2nd platoon under Lt Vetovitz, a 57mm ATG, three 60mm mortars, Sgt Kramer, and Captain Zemaitis. First platoon of Lt Dybas overlooked the road bridge from Hohenzell east of Brumau but their right flank squad was soon engaged by the Volksgrenadiers that had overrun the left of 3rd platoon. The USsquad was overcome in a vicious several turn firefight that also cost them an ATG.
As Brumau came under attack from the south Lt Dybas reported German armor moving toward 1st platoon (another short turn allowing communication). They knocked out a couple of 250 tracks with another 57mm and blocked the bridge temporarily.
The 57mm in Brumau put another StuG out of action (gun & mobility damage) before the ATG crew was wiped out. Opitz’s Volksgrenadiers were pinned down and the remaining two StuG’s hesitated to enter the town without infantry.
Sgt Kramer hosed a German squad with grenades and his Thompson stopping their advance and surprisingly survived his heroics.
The Germans cleared the bridge over the stream from Hohenzell by pushing the wrecked 250’s off with a Panther tank while the force south of Brumau regrouped for another attack.
Captain Zemaites realized he couldn’t hold back the German advance with what remained of the company. He ordered Lt Dybas to withdraw the remainder of 1st platoon through Brumau while 2nd platoon acted as rear guard.
Another very brief turn with little else happening allowed G Company survivors to pile into five jeeps, three trailers, two ¾’s and break contact. A total of seventy men including leaders, one ATG, three mortars, and one MMG remained out of 153 men, four ATG’s, three MG’s, and three mortars.
Third platoon radio had been lost with Lt Phillips leaving Cpl Mickus and fourteen men with one ATG in Waldau without contact with HQ. With German infantry and armor almost surrounding them Cpl Mickus decided to withdraw from Waldau westward by the only route left open.
The Volksgrenadiers had lost 35 out of 104 men including a platoon leader. Two Stug’s and two 250’s had been KO’d and the Germans captured nine US troopers including Lt Phillips.
G Company had delayed the German advance at considerable cost to itself. On the main road bridge Oberst Steinholz untangled his panzers from the reconnaissance unit while Winter and Opitz cautiously secured the now evacuated Brumau.
Driving west on the icy road toward the Selz Captain Zemaites was able to contact battalion, report events and receive new orders. He was told to delay the Germans if possible but if not feasible to proceed to the Nennweiler bridge and organize a defense. Reinforcements are being directed there.