Since news came of the successful American attack to take hold of the bridge the British had been raring to get into action. No sooner than wished for than orders are given for the Company to attack and take Avaux:
"The news is that the village is very lightly held and with a full Company of infantry and two troops of Shermans we should have enough troops to take this village. An early fuzzy aerial photograph shows a quiet village with a stream running through its centre and with bocage surrounding it although with some good looking long views. All in all this makes it look a difficult one to attack, but we have some very good quality troops."
The Allied plan is basically to attack on a broad front and hopefully allow the extra fire power to take effect. The tanks will support the attack over the fields to the left and down the central road. The idea is to overpower the Germans quickly and then move through the village and onwards to victory.
The German plan was to cause as many casualties to the British as soon as possible. Two sections were placed to the front of the position: one lining the hedgerow to the west and the other in the church in the centre. The StuGs are placed in the orchard with a section supporting. The main central position of two MMGs and the Anti Gun are placed in buildings around the Square, with the last section to their left.
For the Stonks, playing solo I set most of the squares with a number giving a leaning to the central village. One can see in the photo above where the Stonks landed and unluckily for the Allies managed to miss everything, despite spoiling the paint on one of the StuGs.
The advance was slow as the scouts tried to spot the enemy, but similar to the Americans, the British were unable to spot anything at all. This meant that both the 1st and 2nd Platoons walked straight into fire from the Church at close range.
This fire was deadly and destroyed the 1st Section of the 2nd Platoon advancing up the road. First blood to the Germans and a great shock to the British who had been expecting an easy advance. In the west the 3rd Platoon was involved in a fire fight with German section against it. Overall the British fire was better and Lieutenant Durham decided to advance one of his sections and cover fire with the other. Things began to look up for the British in the centre as the firepower advantage took hold and forced the German section to retreat from the church.
This was a time when it all went wrong for Lieutenant Ipswich as he ordered the 2nd Section to advance slowly towards these Germans and then to finish them off with fire. This order seemed to impress the men as they quickly dashed down the road and went in close with the bayonet, and unfortunately took Lieutenant Ipswich with them. This combat was very easy for the British and the Germans were dispatched easily enough, but this moved them into view of one of the StuGs which proceeded to fire on the victors killing Lieutenant Ipswich. This is becoming a common occurrence in my games as any leader who does something special is killed instantly.
The battle then became general as the British tanks on the left managed to break through the bocage and so came in range of the AT guns and also the central MMG position.
This fire had mixed results as the Machine Guns destroyed the remnants of the Section on the road, but the AT gun despite hitting several times didn't manage to damage it.
At this point the fight is now general and can be seen in this photo from behind the German position. The British are advancing all over the table, but have taken severe damage already but have just about finished the German first line.
Now it got very interesting as the British began the general advance that had been promised for some time. The main action was in the centre and east as this where the main advance was. In the west the well planned Platoon attack by Lieutenant Durham was going well if a bit too steady.
This turn was when the luck turned towards the British and was really going to change for them. The StuG that shot up the advancing British infantry now turned to hit the flank of the advancing British tanks and promptly failed to damage despite two good shots. This annoyed the Firefly who promptly showed how to do it properly and that was one precious tank down for the Germans.
This allowed the tank HQ to advance down the road.
At the same time as this was happening the remaining StuG decided to move through the orchard to assist in the centre and if you look carefully you can just see its barrel sticking out from beyond the tree. Look closely as it wasn't there too long.
The German 8cm mortars are an excellent weapons and in this game kept the British honest with their accuracy. The much slower British artillery did well later but the instant fire of the Germans made them the most dangerous weapon in this game for the Germans, well almost!
In the next photo you can see the deadly Pak 40 which was the only killer of the British tanks and managed to knock four of them before the crew lost their bottle. Heroes all of them as they survived artillery, MGs, AFVs and infantry shooting at them, though of course their Luetnant was killed in his moment of glory. This is why I play wargames for these little episodes.
One can really see the powerful arsenal that the British had in this game from this photo. The road is safe for them now as the last StuG failed to damage the Sherman in front of it and was then promptly demolished by the best shooting I have seen for a long time.
This is a photo of the west flank with the British 3rd Platoon advancing slowly towards the two infantry men left. This was a classic manoeuvre until it came to moving when it seemed the British didn't see the point of taking any risks.
You can see the two smoking StuG in the foreground as well.
The photo here shows the power of the PAK 40 as all the smoking hulks testify to its power and also the two tanks not shown who have retreated from its fire..
In the foreground one can see the 1st Platoon who are just about the make the game winning charge across the field in front of them supported by the MMG section
The end for the Germans came very quickly as this picture hints at. The crew of the Pak 40 finally gave up the ghost and ran back to the rear as fast as they could. The British artillery in the end did for them.
Lieutenant Bob Bristol after several minutes watching the tanks being destroyed decided to get into action and finish the Boche off. To this end he had the MMG pin the section in front of his position and he charged two sections across the field, unfortunately the first was badly hurt by the German machine guns in the nearby house. Next turn though the Gods though were with Bristol as the MMG were the first card up and they suppressed the infantry and with Bristol being next he duly charged the Germans in the slit trenches.
The first photo is pre melee and the second is the aftermath, and which you will see was a stunning victory with not a British hair touched. You will also see the official photographer wasn't as nervous after the event!
The next important card was the tank HQ. The remaining tanks had only one real choice and shot the MMGs in front of him with miraculous fire as when the smoke settled the unit had been destroyed and that was enough for the remaining MMG and the one infantry section.
You can see both surviving units here, although the MMG is mostly hidden behind the watermill.
The last photos are of the victorious British advancing over the field.
You may notice that there is no mention of the 88 gun in this narrative. The gun did hit three tanks and managed despite all its dice to not damage anything. Odd how often this happens.
The aces for this battle are Leutnant Feuerzangenbowle for the Germans and Lieutenant Bob Bristol. Feuerzangenbowle for keeping at least one of his sections alive, and Bristol for the excellent charge and hand to hand that almost gave the British the village.
Once again an excellent game. Looking at the setup I did think that it was impossible for the British not to win this, but now I am not as sure. If the 88 and StuGs had just hit one tanks each it would have been a close thing. Tactically I am not sure if I did much wrong. Maybe the Germans could have been held a bit more together, but then again I hate games where the defenders just sit back in a nice scrum.
Looking next I am back with the Americans Near Chemont, and hopefully another great game.