Leutnant Fritz Siegelmier was in trouble. He had to explain to his superiors exactly how, and why, he retreated out of Poupeville letting it fall into enemy hands. It just had seemed to be the most sensible thing to do at the time, despite the numerous times he had been told how important it was to defend. What had they said? "Defend it to the last bullet?" No, he couldn't really claim to have run out of ammunition, his first platoon had hardly fired a shot -- well, they had fired a couple of shots, but not many.
Fritz had a sinking feeling he was going to be sent to the eastern front. His only hope would be if they ordered him to counterattack... yes, he would volunteer to do exactly that, might earn him an Iron Cross at last. But first he had to recommend Feldwebel Innsbruch for that same decoration. It would only be fair, since it was his second platoon that had kept those damn amerikanishen fallschirmjäger at bay, and if he would be counterattacking tomorrow he could very well be dead by afternoon. At least he wouldn't have to go to the eastern front in that case...
German Player's Report
The setup had two German platoons with some support (light mortars, a sniper, MG42's and a Panzerschreck team) trying to hold the village from the 101st Airborne. Since I hosted the game, but my main accomplice Thomas was in St Albans trying to take the Merville batteries, I found myself with only one player, my friend Jonas. Thus I had to paint all the miniatures and terrain, umpire the game, and play one side. It made more sense for Jonas to play the slightly dispersed and lost Airborne (not knowing the map beforehand) with me preparing the defences: facing the wrong way, towards the coast! It was harder than I imagined to disregard the entry locations of the Airborne while planning the setup. In order to keep some surprises left in the game, we diced for when the US reinforcements would arrive, at each draw of the reinforcements card. They did arrive slightly a head of schedule, but I don't think it ruined the game.
The game started with the Germans all hidden inside the village. The first platoon in a large farm in the north-eastern part of the village; second platoon in the houses just west of the eastern intersection of the main road from the beach; a MG42 in a watchtower southeast of the village, second MG42 and panzerschreck team inside a circular walled orchard on the eastern edge of the village, between the two platoons; the light mortars in a garden way back, in the western part of the village; finally a sniper in the churchtower in the northern parts of the village. The village is quite small, grouped around three intersections, the road forming an "A" shape with the point to the north.
Suddenly there was movement on the road into the village, from the WEST side! The mortar platoon (still on a Blind) tried to spot and then ran northeast as fast as they could. Meanwhile, the MG teams quickly relocated, one taking up position behind a wall on the north flank of first platoon, the other scrambled down from the watchtower and joined second platoon in the houses. The Airborne advanced to the first intersection but stalled there for some time, during which the mortars assembled in another garden to the northeast, safe behind a MG42 and the first platoon. There they started to rain 50mm death on the Airborne infantry.
Yeah, I know they only place wounds, but every turn saw one or two wounds land on at least a couple of squads. With no rally cards in the game, this made the US big men run around removing wounds for most of the battle.
Lt. Atkinson broke off the stalemate by moving one squad north and take up positions in a house, from where they started to exchange fire with the MG42. Lead by the Big Man, the US fire soon reduced the MG42 team to one man. The Panzerschreck which had tagged along then decided to move back into the orchard to look for enemy tanks instead. The sniper was sadly surprised by these events and didn't manage to get a shot in before Lt Atkinson had reached the cover of the house.
The rest of the airborne tried to advance west along the main road but came under fire from the German second platoon in the houses there. The second platoon held for quite some time, inflicting quite heavy casualties on the US second platoon, including killing Lt. Col. Julian Ewell. Still I didn't dare to move my first platoon south, in case more airborne moved north, so they traded shots with Lt. Atkinson's squad, inflicting a kill and a couple of wounds over time.
Sgt. Henry Beall managed to inspire a section of the first platoon to advance through the gardens south of the road and the reinforcing third platoon followed, which forced the Germans to evacuate the houses south of the road and try to set up a hedgehog position north of the road. This, in retrospect was mistake - I should have sacrificed a squad and force the US to risk an assault. From this position, the second platoon with the MG42 team and Feldwebel Albert Innsbruch managed to inflict even more damage to the US second platoon, killing Sgt. William Burns. Despite this the US assaulted, and took the first house from a badly shot up section of my second platoon.
Now the US force was committed and I started to move the first platoon south, Lt. Fritz Siegelmier leading one squad while one squad lay down covering fire. A second house was taken by the US airborne, but this time the German squad only suffered two casualties and managed to withdraw through the garden and take up new position behind a wall, close to Lt. Siegelmier's position. Suddenly, there was noise coming from the eastern road into the village; the Shermans had broken through from the beach. My Panzerschreck team, which had edged south to take up a better firing position, suddenly found themselves assaulted by an angry platoon of 1st Infantry Division, and quickly legged it back north.
We broke off the game here. We were running short on time, and it was clear that the Germans wouldn't be able to both counterattack the Airborne which had by now taken several houses and stop the Shermans and their supporting infantry. It seemed likely that the Germans would try to extract the remnants of the second platoon under cover fire from the intact first platoon and the mortars.
In conclusion, the game was very fun and quite exciting, until Jonas managed to coordinate an assault with his second and third platoons, by moving Sgt. Henry Beall to the second platoon to get things going. Both first and second platoons had lost about half their numbers, but was so ladled with wounds from the mortars that the squads crawled forward only a couple of inches at a time. At one time Jonas rolled three dice for a full squad that he wanted to assault with, getting a seven -- from which he deducted five for wounds!
His third platoon and the force from the beach had very light casualties when we ended the game. I had about half the second platoon left, one MG42 and all of the first platoon and my mortars left, but I felt that as they weren't elite they stood no chance of retaking the village, even if the tanks hadn't showed up when they did. My defences was a bit spread out, but I was trying very hard to create a realistic setup for a force expecting the attack to come from the beach. I should perhaps have been more aggressive in my defence, moving first platoon earlier. And my sniper never saw anything to shoot at. Ach, it's the eastern front for me now, isn't it?