Well, thanks for a wonderful gaming to everyone who made the trip to Lard Island today, and my particular thanks for my players on the Benouville table – John and Mark, the British Paras; Martin and Edward, the German opposition. Thanks them to the splendid spirit the game was played in throughout, and for their long suffering patience with an umpire, yes me, who'd not read the rules for years.
Well, enough of the speeches….so what happened? Well, in a very hard fought engagement, which alternated between the British and Germans having the upper hand, the result was just about honours even, with the British having achieved their objective by the end of the day, but with the Germans pressing forward in substantial numbers with heavy armour support.
The game started with a platoon of German garrison troops spread out in Benouville village, led by Oberleutenant Horst Von Kessel. They were roused early, not with the sound of French milkmen, but by the arrival in the village of three platoons of British Paras hotfoot from Pegasus Bridge led by a selection of four Big Men, including Major the Lord St Clair Skinner, Captain Quentin Chomondeley and Lieutenant Sidney "Lifter" Roundwood, my own namesake and a devilishly handsome, rakish character if I may say so.
The early stages of the Paras' advance was swift and deadly. Despite the Germans activating without too much difficulty (throwing their activation dice in each of the early turns) the automatic weapons of the Paras and their elite status effectively obliterated the German squads attempting to stop them. By the end of the fourth move the Paras had routed two of the three German squads, with another hanging on precariously to a section of walled enclosures on the outskirts of the village. The Paras' losses were slight, except for the death (doubtless heroic) in the second move of Lieutenant Sidney "Lifter" Roundwood. At this tragic loss, I feared for the British cause...
As the British consolidated in the village and tried to stamp out the embers of German resistance, the remaining two platoons of the German garrison company started to arrive on the table edges, accompanied by Major Otto Von Merva with two Marders. As the Marders proceeded to fire HE into the buildings in which the Para had taken shelter, one German platoon swiftly march moved (on Blinds) around the flank of the village. Running at full tilt through open fields they launched themselves into the extreme right of the Paras' defensive line: moving on Blinds and directly into close assault on the first card of a new turn. The resulting fight was extremely vicious, with a full Para section and a German squad annihilating each other. After this temporary shock to the Paras, the Brits looked a little worried, but the fighting spirit of their elite troops held things together. Further German attempts to push the Paras back out of Benouville were met with fierce resistance, the Paras proving themselves absolutely deadly in close quarter combat. But, despite the withering fire of their Stens and Brens, the Paras were steadily taking a trickle of casualities…
The battle turned one way through the remainder of the day as reinforcements arrived for both sides. The Germans received two platoons of line infantry, another of panzer grenadiers, two more SP guns and eventually a platoon of four Panzer IV Auf.H. The Paras were reinforced with a platoon, a young buck Big Man (in historical terms, the young actor Richard Todd) and a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. By the time Lord Lovat's commandos reached Le Port and the skirl of the pipes could be heard from a distant table, the Panzer IVs had almost arrived but not before one Marder had been destroyed by the Paras' gammon bombs (hurled in a do-or-die charge by Sergeant "Dusty" Miller) and one SP gun had been destroyed by the Para's AT gun. And so the game ended, with the Paras grimly holding on, but only just.
All in all a splendid day's action, and again by thanks to the four absolutely gentlemen on my table I had the pleasure of gaming with today.