This weekend we played the last scenario in the IABSM rulebook. It models an actual historical event that resulted in Major Currie of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan winning the Victoria Cross for boldly plugging up the avenue of retreat for the fleeing German army in Normandy August 1944 against very long odds. This time, there may have been an Iron Cross or two won, but no Victoria Cross.
The Canadians entered the north side of the map on one road with the simple but very difficult goal of dominating the crossroads on the other side of the village. Our own Major Turrell and Major Minton had two excellent platoons of infantry and two troops of Sherman's, each bolstered by a 17 pounder armed Firefly. If they encountered some heavy armor, that striking power could be very useful. As it turned out neither of them got to fire an anti tank round all day. Oberleutent Finn knew he faced them with a very depleted and ragtag bunch of defenders with little command and control. But he did have two Pz IV tanks and a Panther and a Tiger.
The Canadians had no idea what they would meet so out went the infantry up to the edge of town at times screened by smoke from the 2 inch mortars attached to each platoon. At the same time, the tanks crossed the bridge in column and turned left and then wheeled right into line at the base of the slight rise. The plan was to feel the way into town with the infantry and skirt the armor around the village to the left.
As the armor lined up to crest the rise and race for the crossroads along the relatively open east side of the village, the Canadian Infantry stumbled into a shootout with a solitary squad of infantry in a stout stone building on the edge of town. The first surprise volley into the tightly packed mass pinned almost an entire platoon and killed a couple troops. Unfortunately one of them was the platoon commander Gil Armour. In the actual battle, the real Gil single-handedly won a fist fight with the dismounted commander of a Panther and put the tank out of action with a grenade down the hatch. Not this time. Such are the fortunes of pretend war.
Eventually the Canadians drove off the German squad and the other squad of its platoon a couple of buildings over. But time and casualties were lost, including still another platoon commander shot down. The Canadian major commanding the infantry came up to take shock off of the battered platoon and restore order after its commander was killed. The Germans used the delay to get all of the rest of their reinforcements in and they plugged up the road. This persuaded the Canadian Infantry to withdraw from their toe hold and skirt the eastern side of town with the tanks. Soon they were all rushing forward toward the back end of town with little resistance.
At that point, Oberleutent Finn sent his concealed Pz IVs forward to meet the threat that was brewing on their flank. The German armor used two-thirds of their actions to move in and reserved their last action just in case. At that very moment, up popped a whole troop of Shermans over the brow of the hill on a hunt order.The defenders only got off one shot each before they were brewed up by the Canadians. They did immobilize a Firefly, but it was not a good trade off. The NCO commanding the immobilized Firefly lept down and ran to man another Sherman and carried on the fight.
Sadly for the battered Canadian Infantry and the Canadian armor, they all tumbled into the open in the right rear of the enemy just after the Germans had arrayed all of their still concealed assets in the path of the attackers.
The Tiger knocked out a Sherman immediately. The Panther faced two Shermans at close range appearing through the hedge. He flamed one immediately and knocked out the gun sight of the other. The wounded Sherman he was facing down was manned by the NCO who had commandeered this humble M4 Sherman after losing his Firefly. Fortunately, he rolled a critical hit on the Panther which increased his strike dice for his attack. We were all rather excited and happy for the humble Sherman's 75mm gun but alas, the shot bounced.
We called the game at that point, so we'll never know if that brave sergeant put his tank in reverse in time and got the heck out of there or was blown to kingdom come. In any case, it was clear the attack had failed. The Canadians were not going to plug the gap today.