Finally – after long waiting – last Sunday we put some of our new toys on the table and we played with the I Ain’t Been Shot Mum rules an introductory scenario from the supplement The Defence Of Calais by Robert Avery. We choose this small scenario because we thought that it would be a great start for our mates Bill and…Bill who had only theoretical experience of the game so far. Four guys on the same table and everybody had to command something. John was commanding the German Panzers and the two…Bills were commanding the British. When the game started I was typically with the German side. However after a couple of turns I found myself more with an umpire’s role than my original role. No complain about that!
The Background to the Battle
Les Attaques, France. May 1940. 1400hrs.
Les Attaques is about 7 kilometres south-west of the town of Calais. It was of high strategic importance, containing two possible stop-points in the bridge over the Canal de Calais and a narrow crossroads immediately afterwards.
About 50 men of the 1st Searchlights were furthest from Calais, dug in in the small village of Les Attaques. They had been assigned to the outer perimeter of Calais’ defences with some Boys anti-tank rifles and a handful of Bren guns. At about 2pm their position was approached by three enemy light tanks. They managed to get a foothold over the canal bridge, but were then driven off by the concentrated fire of Barr’s men.
The scenario’s map and our table:
The British have blocked the crossroads with a lorry, and the road leading up from the bridge to the crossroads with a bus:
The German PzIs crossing the bridge:
The British were almost everywhere around the crossroads. They started to firing with everything they had. They had not much but…
The first PzI in the column formation tried to push the bus but stopped just before by the british heavy fire. The British were in the houses along the crossroads and they had a great opportunity to fire on the top of the light tanks. That made their job easier and almost immediately two of the Panzers immobilised and their crew obliged to bail out.
The bailing out was a wise decision for the German crew’s lives because a couple of Boys ATR after multiple shots managed to blew up one of the german light tanks. With one of the PzIs totally destroyed and both of the others out of function it was obvious that the Germans had to do something more decisive if they wanted to open the road to Calais.
So, they did it! Germans brought their PzIII medium tanks to the scene. Their HE shells seemed invaluable at that moment as never before.
After 4-5 minutes (3-4 turns in game terms) of cruel firefighting the PzIIIs almost destructed the british infantry sections. The road to Calais was open again and the german tanks continued their advance. However the Germans did not the winners. The plucky British delayed enough the Germans and according to the scenario won the game.