"Now then, Major Chappleton, perhaps you'd like to explain why you are standing in front of me instead of heading down Boreham Street at a rapid rate of knots, eh?"
The Major shifted uncomfortably in his chair. His usually immaculate overalls were burnt and stained, and there was a distinct smell of diesel in the air.
"Well, sir, I'm afraid we ran into rather a lot of Germans, sir…"
Neil and I played Scenario #8 "Tally Ho!" from the Sealion scenario book today. It involves a squadron of British A10s accompanied by three platoons of infantry attempting to punch through three platoons of German infantry supported by six anti-tank guns. The Germans have off-table fire support from a couple of mortars, the British have to rely on the fact that one of the A10 troops has 3.7" mortars instead of the usual two-pounders.
The British began the battle by sending forward a recon troop of MkIVs. They quickly spotted the German position: three anti-tank guns, three MMGs and a platoon and a bit's worth of infantry lining a hedgerow. Unfortunately the lead light tank exposed itself for just too long, and was permanently immobilised by a hail of fire from the PaK35s.
With the Germans stationary, the Brits moved up to begin their assault. Nervous of the German anti-tank capacity, the five normal A10s hung back out of sight, waiting for the infantry and support tanks to suppress the first line of anti-tank guns. The infantry duly moved forward, but came under a hail of fire from the German infantry and MMGs as they lined up along an opposite hedgerow. The Company HQ lost both Vickers almost immediately and, worse, the off-table mortars ranged in and inflicted the first of what would become a never-ending stream of casualties and deaths.
A firefight began, but without overwhelming fire superiority the British were showing no signs of opening up a gap for the tanks to exploit. The German MMGs, each accompanied by a Big Man were particularly effective in keeping the British infantry's heads down.
Eventually, however, numbers began to tell, and an effective barrage from the support tanks (at bloody last!) weakened the German line to the extent that Neil felt he should start to withdraw. The trouble for me was that by now most of my infantry sections in the two lead platoons had 2-3 wounds on them (damn those off-table mortars!) and despite the fact that I had killed quite a few crewmen, no German anti-tank guns had actually been knocked out.
Whilst this had been going on, frustration had led me to try and exploit the right wing of the battlefield, but the three A10s I sent there ran into the other three German anti-tank guns, so were forced to skulk out of sight.
The Germans in the hedgerow in front of me began to withdraw, but there were still enough of them to severely damage me if I attacked across the open fields. Naturally I didn't think of laying down smoke (that would have been far too clever) so I sent my other two A10s and a MkVI up the left side to winkle out two MMGs who were down to one crewman and a Big Man each: the idea being that I could then outflank the hedgerow.
I was getting really frustrated by this time, so I decided to drive over the MMGs rather than Besa them. A good idea in theory, but all that happened was that they fired back (damn unsporting!) and I got a turret jam on my lead A10 in exchange for one retreating back and one mangled under my tracks.
At this stage I was faced with an almost identical situation to before: the Germans had retreated to a second line of defence that looked a lot like the first one, only slightly nearer to Boreham Street! As we'd been playing for three hours and Neil had to go, we decided to declare a German victory as although I would have probably won in the end, I certainly hadn't broken through at the charge as the victory conditions required.
A good game, nonetheless. Neil was convinced that I'd have punched through his first line if I'd actually just charged his line with the tanks and followed up with my infantry…but I don't know: five A10s and three MkVIs verses three PaK35s and three MMGs and a line of infantry, with the tanks needing to cross 12-15" of open ground. Well, I'm sure we'll play it again one day, and then we'll see!
Here's a gallery (click the first image to activate) with some more pictures of the game: