Another go at this campaign: after one solo and one face-to-face, I thought I would give it another go solo. So this is my third play of this scenario.
This is the map at the start which was all Major Bob Boston could go on from an RAF photo taken the day before.
The objective was simple: get to the bridge at the far end. Simple enough as he had plenty of M8 Greyhounds and even some Stuart Light Tanks and two M8 Howitzers. In fact they were too many of a lot of units for what I have in stock, so Matildas, Shermans and others were dragooned in as proxies!
Boston ’s plan was to advance his few infantry over the hills to the right and hopefully clear these before pushing towards the bridge. The HQ and 2nd Recon Platoon would follow the road in the shadow of these hills once they had cleared the building near the jump-off point. The Cavalry Sections would advance to this building and the 1stRecon Platoon would advance south down the river road, to be followed by the Stuarts.
Hauptmann Heigel Heffwehen was tasked with holding the bridge and on no account to allow the American to get over it. His plan after much thought was to hold the bridge and nearby buildings with his 2nd Zug and have the 1st Zug in the building and hedges to the north. The HQ was placed in the centre behind the second line of bocage, with Panzerschrecks on both corners by the road, and the MMG on the hill for overhead firing. The AT section was placed in the area north of the bridge covering the western road, whilst the Armoured Cars were placed by the river bend to guard the eastern road.
The centre was the first to get some action as the Greyhounds (proxied by Matildas) of 1st Recon opened fire and, combined with the mortars, caused numerous shock from which this German section never really recovered. Those American mortars are very useful and can do some real damage, and both squads certainly earned their coin.
In the east, 1st Recon happily set off down the road and, despite being a recon unit, managed to miss spotting any enemy, and only saw the 2nd Section of Germans when almost upon them.
Meanwhile, the position for the German 1st Zug was getting critical, suffering from the fire of the Greyhound and mortars, and it was soon decided that the position was untenable and that the building should be left as soon as possible.
Luckily here for the Germans, their Armoured Cars moved to the south of the road and began a brilliant defence that would last all day. The firepower and armour of the combatants here don’t allow for a quick finish, although several brilliant shots certainly did some real damage. This is the long view up the river and at the moment the view is clear!
As mentioned the 2nd Recon were upon the Germans before they realised it. One fell to the Pumas, with the other hit by a Panzerfaust whilst trying to get into a field: all in two shots. This was the best shooting all day.
Unfortunately for this unit, Oberleutnant Ars Apfelwein was then hit immediately by a stray shot...and that was the end of him.
The RAF then joined in and finished that section off!
This is the position at the middle of the day looking from the German position as on the right the Pumas and infantry stop the 2nd Recon and one can see both the Mortars and M8 Howitzer deployed in a long drawn out battle which ended with no mortars and some very ineffectual Howitzers.
To the west one can see the American infantry advancing over the hills. The MMG here was easily destroyed without managing to get a shot off: a great triumph for the Intelligence section. You can also see the HQ and 1st Recon on the road now. Although not seen here, the AT section of the Germans was fighting both these units in the climatic fight of the whole battle as the winner here would either have an almost clear run to the bridge or have held the position.
Now to see the trial and triumphs of being a Tank Killer unit. The following picture was taken just after the eastern positioned Panzershreck had totally surprised first the Stuart Tank then itself as it managed to only get equal hits on it, and was then immediately destroyed by the tank’s MG.
This photo on the other wing was taken at the same time but this was just before the western positioned Tank Killers managed to throw double 6 and hit the flank of the tanks with strike 16 attack. It was messy, but of course it was also its last shot with a double. Brilliant and one of those moments!
As all this excitement was going on, the American infantry had pushed everything before it and looked to be about the clear the field on its own. First they Shocked the infantry in the same field as the German AT section, and then one US section charged it. It looked easy, but the Germans had other ideas: for three dead they managed to get leave seven Americans on the field. A great show, and one that would have got Leutnant Erik Wierlikor an Iron Cross if only a loose mortar shell hadn’t got him almost immediately afterwards. The second Zug commander killed in his moment of glory!
With stalemate in the east and in the centre it was the US 1st Recon and HQ that finally knocked out the Anti Tank Section and opened the way to victory. The mortars and air force hit the enemy units in the building guarding the bridge and this allowed the 1st Recon to send their last mobile Greyhound onto the bridge and so win the game.
Here is the triumphant Greyhound in place.
A truly excellent game was had by me, and the result was only decided in the last few minutes and in a way that seems almost Pyrrhic for the Americans. The Germans had caused great losses on their enemy, although the German infantry also suffered horrific casualties.
I am not sure it is a good idea to split the German forces to hold the northern buildings, but thought it would be a good delaying tactic and it nearly worked. The American infantry normally likes the centre, but in this case did its task brilliantly.
The two stars of the show are US Captain Martin Minnesota for both his destruction of two positions and then also having one of his Greyhounds sitting on the bridge; and,for the Germans, it had to be Leutnant Siggi Spaten for, again, two excellent reasons: the first for the brilliant defence of the east road, and second due to the fact he was the only German officer left alive at the end!
Now let’s see how the British do at Avaux!