Time for another game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! with John and Dave…but what to play? Dave has requested an early war encounter, so a quick look back through my library of scenarios and I settle on one of Richard Clarke’s games: Lille.

The premise is simple: Rommel’s Germans are advancing rapidly on Lille, aiming for the village of Lomme, whose capture will seal off the escape route of all English and French forces in the area. The Allies have realised what the Germans are up to, and have dispatched a small force to hold Lomme for as long as possible. The scene is set for an epic clash!

Lomme

The village of Lomme is shown in the photo, above. The Germans will enter from the south (the right), anywhere along the table’s edge. The French start anywhere they like on the table, and must prevent the Germans from exiting any troops to the north i.e. along the single road leading to the left.

Another view of Lomme

Capitaine Legume (on the left) and Major Lardich von Skinner (on the right) review their orders

The Germans

The Germans disposed two strong, truck-mounted platoons of infantry, each four squads strong, with each squad having 8 men. Their Company HQ contained three MMGs, an anti-tank rifle, and another squad of infantry. Accompanying them were two PaK 35 anti-tank guns towed by Kfz15 field cars. Finally, four Big Men would command the German infantry: more than enough to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Panzer reinforcements were due to arrive after six appearances of the Turn card: a zug of four Panzer II and a zug of three Panzer IV. Each zug had its own Big Man.

The French

The French also had two platoons of infantry, but their platoons each had three squads, with ten men per squad. They had two MMGs, and had also been assigned two ageing soixante-quinze field guns.

Unfortunately, the French only had two Big Men to command the above: the aforementioned Capitaine Legume, and the superb Sergeante-Chef Aubergine , hero of a previous action.

The French briefing also contained the promise of two platoons of tanks: three R-35 and three Char B1 bis tanks. I couldn’t, however, find any mention of when they were due to arrive, and suspected, therefore, that they were a cruel jest on the part of Mr Clarke and destined never actually to grace the tabletop with their presence. I unpacked the models anyway, and decided to decide if and when they arrived depending on what would give the best game!

Plans

Initially Major von Skinner thought he might split his force and advance onto the table along each road leading to the north i.e. at either end of the village.

His force wasn’t really strong enough to bring that off, however, so he decided upon an awesomely bold plan: he would left hook with his entire force, aiming to capture the crossroads on the west side of the village and then, dependent on what the French were doing, either drive straight off the table for Lille or roll up the enemy line from the flank.

Capitaine Legume, with such a huge frontage to protect, did split his troops. Half, including the two field guns, would protect the crossroads to his right; half would be positioned in the houses approximately in the centre of the table: ready to kill Germans wherever they appeared.

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The Game

The game began with the first of the German Blinds advancing on to the table towards the crossroads.

Hoping to spot and pour fire onto the Germans as soon as possible, wearing them down at distance, the French platoon defending the crossroads deployed immediately.

The Germans arrive

The French deploy

Initially, the French tactics of immediate deployment had some success. The two German anti-tank guns had advanced into the grove of trees near the road and deployed. This was a bad mistake, as shells from the French field guns quickly blew one gun and its crew apart, with the other limping away out of sight. First blood to the poilu!

Then, however, it all went wrong. With some incredibly fast movement (Rapid Deployment and some amazing dice rolls!), the German Blinds followed their plans and began to outflank the French position at the crossroads, a move completed when the Blinds decloaked as the two German infantry platoons!

 The Blinds outflank

The Blinds outflank

The German infantry deploy

The French were caught by surprise and suffered badly. Their first platoon had been well and truly outflanked, and the Germans took full advantage. Two platoons fired on one, and the field guns and French infantry squads at ground level suffered badly from being shot at from the upper stories of the houses overlooking their positions.

Sergeant Aubergine brought the other platoon back to the crossroads, occupying the large manor house just to the north, and, for a time, things got a bit more equal, especially when a shot from the last remaining French field gun set the large barn opposite the manor house on fire.

Unfortunately, the French first platoon had just about ceased to exist by now, and the field guns didn’t last much longer: again it was two platoons versus one, with the Germans now close assaulting to clear the French infantry from the houses.

Germans clearing the French from the south side of the crossroads by close assault

This vicious series of fire fights and close assaults was cracking stuff, but all the action was compressed into one small area of my lovingly set-up tabletop. What a waste! Perhaps the arrival of the tanks would spread the action out a bit…

The Tanks Arrive

It was now that the Turn card dictated that the German tanks would arrive. John duly brought the Panzer II platoon on to join the troops assaulting the French position on the crossroads, and brought his Panzer IVs on in the centre of the table, protecting his right flank and hooking around the French left.

I looked at the table. It was obvious that the Germans were a hair’s breadth away from winning, even without all their armour…so I decided to allow the French tanks onto the table as well. Perhaps they would save the day for Capitaine Legume.

I didn’t want to be too unfair to John, however, so decided that the French tanks would arrive along the road at the opposite end of the village. That way some more of my terrain might get used as well!

Dave duly deployed his tanks, but was horrified to be reminded that all his armour was designated as Slow. That’s -2 per dice rolled for movement unless you’re on the road. No tactics here then: just a Stonne-like cruise up the High Street relying on the thick armour of the Char B1s to protect them as they advanced.

And if what happened at Stonne was a guideline, then actually that didn’t seem too bad.

German Panzer IV tanks await the advancing B1s

This ain’t Stonne!

Oops!

Unfortunately, this wasn’t Stonne. The lugubrious advance of the French tanks allowed two of the Panzer IVs to get into position, and their combined fire forced the lead B1’s crew to bail out.

Worse was to come.

By this time, the Panzer IIs had arrived in the vicinity of the crossroads. One of them, #14, had a shot down the road at the second Char B1. A 40mm cannon versus a Char B1 at a range of almost 500 yards: no chance!

Well, the Panzer II hit, rolling four dice for penetration versus the Char’s eight dice. Three penetrations for the Panzer II, no saves for the B1: boom! What an incredible shot!

Panzer II #14, on the road at the bottom of the picture, opens fire!

And that, as they say, was that. The French Force Morale had run out, and the survivors either surrendered or ran for it. The Germans had won the day.

Aftermath

A great game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! won fair and square by bold German tactics from John.

Dave didn’t do anything wrong, in fact he fought a good defence, but once his enemy were round his flank, it was only a matter of time before the left hook took him to the canvas.

My favourite shot of the game: Achtung Gewächshaus!

Just for the record, the game was actually a bit closer than the above account implies. John had rolled really badly for his Force Morale, and the few losses that he did take were worrying. It was obvious that his men thought they were too far out in front of the main thrust, and should pull back to consolidate. Luckily for him, his morale lasted long enough to win the day…but only just!

Robert Avery

 
 
 
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In order to launch the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) the germans had to make a drain in their forces in other areas to assist the large build up in the Ardennes.

Last Saturday I happened to be in command of one such drainage patrol... but sad as things can be I wasn't going to find the trip to the Ardennes all that easy.

Just as our convoy had found the main road north we encountered fierce opposition of some quite unexpected american troops lying in wait. Just were they came from or what they were doing there remains uncertain.

Our reconnaissance bikes were abruptly blown apart at the head of the convoy, at the combined effort of a Stuart tank lying in wait by the roadside and some American G.I's.

Next a bloody Sherman entered the fray, but our StuGIII was quick to send a shot at the it, forcing it to retreat.

I tried to get my kübel up to the bikes to regroup the men and lead from there. Sadly the rest of the bikers got killed before I got there. I took my kübel to the side and ordered the SS we were accompanying out of their trucks.

After a quick discussion with the SS Scharführer we send the Panther and the halftracks around the flanks. This way we hoped to force the opposition to rout or at least move around to their discomfort.

A whizzing sound made our blood freeze for some seconds and the smoke from the StuGIII had me shake my head and take a second look... it was gone! Blown to smithereens!

I ordered the MG's to set up in a nearby buildup and took command of the SS troops. I ordered the Scharführer to stay behind and direct the mortar fire against the crossroad.

A chain of blasts sounded as the Panther took several direct hits from a bazooka team lying in wait at the cross. Ernst - commanding the Panther - must have thought there was more than bazookas to the blast as he promptly backed the Panther away.

Tough opposition indeed. The recce units had gotten around the side of the Sherman and Stuart only to detect an entire platoon lying in wait behind the hill. Finding the trigger and the reverse gear at the same time proved hard and the recce unit got shot up. One 250 blew up, one ran off and the last one backed and fired.

By now I had gotten two sections of the SS to the crossing and the last one was out of my reach.

These young boys had the best equipment the Reich had to offer. And thank the almighty for that! Because on the other side of the road another US platoon was heading our way. I ordered the boys to open fire as soon as the platoon (or a significant part of it) was out in the open.

Four G.I's dropped instantly, never to get back up. The other – clearly inexperienced – grabbed for their rifles not knowing where to shoot or how to do it.

The Stuart had detected our presence in the woods and started shelling us. We took some casualties. I quickly inspected the wounded men and instructed those that weren't badly hurt to get back in the fight. No one could get through to us at this point so we had to do our best to survive. Luckily my talk worked and they kept the spirit for a while.

Without any warning I suddenly saw Ersnt bursting through the woods going down the road and into the cross. The panther was roaring and I had no idea what he was doing. My radio had a thick bullet hole in it so I had no idea what was going on anywhere.

He turned the corner and kept going down the road, when suddenly an ear deafening crack sounded. The engine of the panther no longer roared. I don't know exactly what happened, but I saw plenty of G.I's running out of the smoke from the wreck.

In the distance I could hear the rumbling of a Sherman making it's way. As I had no way of knowing whether it was the one we saw before or perhaps reinforcements, I ordered retreat.

With the rest of the SS section I put up a tough defence while the other SS ran back. Eventually we couldn't hold the position any more and we hurried back through the thick of the smoking StuG. The direction the wind was blowing didn't give us the best cover though and soon we had to make a run for it.

It quickly became obvious that we had taken quite heavy casualties with regards to materiel. Most of men were alive, but some were severely wounded.

I ran to the MG's and repositioned one them to cover as wide an area as possible and ordered the rest of the men to start embarking in the trucks and getting the hell out of there.

Our 250/1 came racing by with smoke coming out of the back. The crew informed us that the rest of the halftracks were lost after a toe-to-toe dance with the Sherman and some infantry.

I then ordered the MG's to abandon their position and get into a truck. The last SS section was beyond my shouting distance and we had to leave them behind.

The Blitz drivers got the pedals to the metal and hammered out of the place. This encounter had cost us way too much. A StuG, a Panther, two 25+'s and 8 motorbikes! And that's not counting the loss of men!

I think we'll have to find another route to the Ardennes....

The forces:

Americans: two full platoons, two HQ sections, four Big Men, a sniper, bazookas, Sherman M4 and Stuart - everything but the vehicles deployed hidden

Germans: one SS zug, one Panther D, one StuGIII, three Sdkfz 250, ten infantry on motorbikes, two MMG, three 50mm mortars, four Blitz Trucks, one Kubel. Four Big Men.

Amokfigur

 
 
 
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I met up with two guys from the local club. I had been asked to bring with me all of my PzIV's and all my infantry!

Søren from the Glory in Russia would this time try the Russians and I would take care of the Jerries. The game was set up by Henrik who quickly improvised the forces and terrain. A bring and battle of sorts.

I had a full infantry company with an extra SS platoon in Blitzes. To aid them in the taking of a little Russian village was 6 Pz Iv's and 2 StuG's. Some 10 mortars had also found their way to the battlefield along with their buddies of the 10th MG-34 Gruppe. ahem!

Before setting up I asked whether I knew that enemy troops where in wait. Apparently I did. So I opted not to column everything on the road. Good choice! I spread them out over the whole area 12'' from my table edge

I tried to drive my troops forward using every opportunity to move doing so. The idea was that I would hopefully be able to storm some of the positions in the village under cover fire from my tanks. If I was fast enough it would even be with relatively fresh troops.

I quickly ran into some unspotted difficulties.

A pair of AT guns sitting in a bush waiting to get assaulted would be first priority. I had advanced everything as far as it could, and the AT's were hailing my three F2's. I got an infantry platoon up and ready to charge the guns. Unfortunately I drew the platoon card before the armour. I chose to charge anyway, as they were in a bad position and liable to fire from any direction. What I had missed was a little marker behind the AT's. This proved to be a blind with a lot of soviet SMG gunners!

The attack was a scandal! And it saw me throwing out a whole platoon of perfect nazis!

On the other flank things were coming along more nicely. My infantry cooperated well with the MMG position I had set up. All in all the soviets in the field didn't have much of a say in the way things would be going.

My SS rolled over the bridge to help and assist the Wehrmacht soldiers making fools of them selves against the AT guns. The SS quickly made an end of it and brought things back where they should be. Having four initiative dice is very very very good!

My tanks had supported the troops very well. Perhaps one would have expected just a tad bit more of them, but on the whole I was satisfied.

We ended the game soon after this - my initial advance - due to time constraints. Two companies on each side isn't over in 4 hours.

Amokfigur

 
 
 
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Yet another Barbarossa game this week. A valley in a heavily forrested area was home to a small Russian village. This was to be the scene of our battle.

The storming advance of the German armour breaking past enemy formations to link up with other friendly formations behind the enemy lines – one part of the blitzkrieg – had a mixed success in the opening weeks of the Russian campaign. Of course the German steamroller was nigh on unstoppable but some have described the it as utterly chaotic. Some Germans that is.

Our scenario was inspired by the story of a German commander's recollection of the opening describing how he returned from the ”front”. After inspecting newly conquered positions he headed back west only to find out that the areas they'd just left, had been occupied by the enemy once again. No time to rethink their plans they headed straight past the bewildered Russians and made it through.

So in our scenario the Russians were to stop our fictitious German commander Ernst Bimmelman and his company from making it through the village and its surroundings. Quite easy.

The German forces were identical to the ones in the last battle I played except that the panzer II ausführung C's were out and a Pz. III ausf 50L60 was in. The Pz II wasn't that uncommon in the start of the campaign, but the models were normally ausf F's – not C's. But unfortunately my Pz. III had been absent for some time now. Found it in a closet safely hidden away today though.

The Russian force was also identical expect the addition of an Austin Putilov armoured car! The Russians had a lot of strange vehicles involved in the fighting in the beginning. And this one I just couldn't miss out.

We set up 12'' from each short table edge and deployed 12 Blinds each.

The first couple of turns were undramatic. Moving to get into position. As the Tea Break card was turned for the 4th time with no units on the table we were almost at knife point. Or so it felt.

Finally I managed to spot the German recce unit going along the road. A couple of more turns went by and the recce unit moved up and during the next two turns almost every unit in both armies were put on table.

I had my three companies of poor Russian infantry walking behind each their own T34. It looked really impressive. That I gotta give. But knowing that they were only 2 dice worth, I knew the psychological impression was their only real worth and that the T34's had to support their advance and hopefully a forthcoming Uhraaa!

The Germans had advanced really cleverly and taken a good hilltop and set up MG34's on it. Nice. From there they would be able to make Swiss cheese of anything in the village. I tried to get my 76.4's to sit on the opposite hill. They were still on a Blind but not that eager to get forward. One of my platoons was also stuck in the woods behind the 76's.

Platoon Green with SMG's advanced behind the T34 to a farmhouse and some shrubberies were they ducked. The T34 shelled the Germans in the centre of the table a bit to no effect. Platoon Red with rifles advanced behind their T34 to attack the German 2nd platoon in center.

Four Opel Blitz trucks together with the company CO moved up and unloaded 3rd German platoon and a PaK behind cover from the 2nd platoon. The SMG squad from 3rd was quickly despatched to aide 2nd against the onstorming Russians. At the Tea Break card blood and guts spilled everywhere as the Red Rifles and the 2nd German platoon fought it out. An entire section was wiped from each side but the Russians had taken even more casualties and a retreat would have made sense.

Unfortunately that was not how it was to be. The StuG III turned potted away at the T34. It was forced to withdraw. Unfortunately it was unable to retaliate as the ammo shortage card had been drawn for it twice! Meaning that neither HE nor AP shells were available!!!

The red rifles finally got to act as the Big Mans card was turned. He ordered them to fall back and ran ahead himself leaving them in the open with their measly 2 or 1 dice/die.

The Austins short struggle on the battlefield was ended by a PaK

The recce unit fell back into cover and patiently awaited the enemy advance with their LMG's ready.

Ernst Bimmelman was sitting in his Pz III unable to do anything as his card just didn't turn up. Luckily a Russian tank killer team was heading for him. They advanced behind a cover of smoke that they had created. Managing to get halfway to his tank. In retrospect, and looking at the pictures, it was quite a cloud of smoke they made!

The tankkillers made it to the tank through some lucky dice rolling and a nice draw of cards. They managed to ruin the main gun and halt Ernst Bimmelman for yet another turn before the German recce unit rolled up and painted the Pz III red with the blood of the tank killer team.

My 76.4 immobilised a Pz II... twice! The T34 that had run low on ammo started heading back behind the lines. No reason in being blown up for no...reason.

The focus of the fighting shifted from the centre to that of the sides. 1st German platoon was having a ball with the Green SMG's in their cover. Being just outside 18'' and failing to advance more than 1'' for consecutive turns (extremely bad rolling on Steen's behalf) made it into somewhat of a pillow fight. But finally one section made it some 10'' and got down two of the SMGs. Unfortunately the next card turned was UhRAAAAAAA! And obviously my SMG's had to slam the lone (well it was backed by three Pz. II's but hey!) German section. My close combat was a success and I managed to throw back the Germans 8''. Of course it left my SMGs in a horrible position and they were finished of by the combined effort of pz. II's and 1st platoon. Oh well!

Meanwhile my Austin Putilov armoured car had emerged from the depths and was ready to pick up were the red rifles had run away. With its two turreted LMG's it was sure to cause well... something! Right?

Anyway the one turret opened up on the German SMG section in the centre and the other harassed another element of 3rd platoon. It was quite successful. At least it caught the attention of a redeployed PaK. The Putilov had a mere 2 in armour value. Not much of a contest against the 10 weapons factor of the PaK. Ouch! There were spare parts in 30m radius when the PaK silenced.

The dead car saw 2nd and 3rd German platoons changing focus to the south and the 76.4's deployed there. The Germans managed to get close and in collaboration with the MG34's on the other hill both antitank guns were destroyed. The blue rifles next to them did manage to give the Germans a beating too though.

It was quite evident how things were going by now. Most of the Russian forces were wiped or beaten. My tanks had been the focus of less attention than I had thought they'd be. One without ammo, one had caught fire (and extinguished it!) and last one hardly got to move.

The recce unit thought the Russians were beaten and started heading up the road to scout forward. The Big Man of the shoot up red rifles thought that a genuine possibility to show some guts and glory in front of his men when the ”heroic leader” card came up. He jump on to the road in front of the motorcycles trying to stop them him alone. We decided he needed an 8 to make a mess of the first vehicle and halt the advance. He got a demoralising 5 and was run over flat but the roaring bikes. The battle was over.

Phew! That was some exciting 5 hours! I've probably forgotten half of what's worth mentioning and messed up the other half good.. But hey – that's part of the charm of writing down war memories. Just ask Churchill!

The games of IABSM are really just getting better and better, as the rules stick tighter and tighter to the spine. Steen is doing some Americans of his own and I'm looking forward to playing with or against those one day soon too

Amokfigur

 
 
 
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I am having some time off between my last exam and becoming a father again, so I've tried to get gaming as much as possible. Today I had a battle of IABSM with Søren 'Mouse' Husum at the club.

Actually the player I was meant to fight didn't show up and I hadn't brought my mobile so I had no way of knowing. But anyway Søren was readily available and interested in the IABSM game.

Having painted up a few Panzer II's (C's and F's) I wanted to have the Germans field those. In the early days of Barbarossa this wasn't entirely impossible as some of these antiques were still around.

Søren got six – three of each – no less could do it. He also got a StuG III ausf D. Besides that he had a motorised platoon and two regular platoons – all wehr infantry of the line. Unfortunantly I don't have a suitable model aircraft, so no air support was available. Supporting his troops were two MMG's and some recce bikes, which should end up faring oh so poorly.

The Russians were to epitomize the worker and peasant army fielded in the beginning. As such they were composed of three platoons (blue, white and red) of piss poor Red Army infantry, with a good SMG platoon surrendered from battalion together with two 76mm AT-guns. The Russian fighting chance was heavily reliant on a pack of three T-34 ready to take out the enemy armour.

The setup was a bit experimental as I tried to create a village of spread out Russian farmhouses. A great hill knelt in the background and a small river flowed through the area too.

I always find it difficult doing terrain for Russian gaming, as on the pictures in my books there's hardly anything but long grass or open land. Anyway I think I managed ok on this one.

We deployed 10'' in from each end, roughly. The German recce unit zoomed over the bridge and started spotting away. This led to the discovery of the an infantry company next to a field in the north. Søren was quick to move up his mobilised infantry and unload them in the farmhouses next to the bridge.

This was a setback as that meant I would never make it over the river. He had a firm hold on the bridge. Supported by good terrain features on the part of the map he'd probably be off for a good thorough thrashing of the Russians.

The Opel Blitz and the German company commander decided that after unloading troops it was best to head back behind the lines and await the good news of an easy victory over the radio.

Unfortunately the trucks weren't that capable of making a column nice and easy so they didn't get over the bridge in the first run.

Meanwhile the spotting game continued and after a while the rifles hiding out on the hill, a tank-killer team and some German troops were deployed. The blue rifles found themselves heavily engaged by enemy fire but managed to kill some of the motorbikers.

A lucky T34 managed to put out an Opel Blitz shooting it in the rear and immediately fired a snapshot at another sending a shell blazing through the canvas. But one Blitz was ok.

The company commander decided to have lunch and watch the battle

The second T34 opted for going south to make it over the river and flanking the Germans. A fatal move.. as it was later shown.

Søren fired bloodily and killed more blue rifles but the situation on the bridge was much to his annoyance. Understandably – the rest of the German army wasn't able to get over the bridge as long as the trucks were blocking it. His pz II's ausf c's tried going over the river. One immediatley bogged down but the two others made it. As if that wasn't enough the next card immobilised his StuG III – petrol shortage! And as luck would have, it for the Russians, it wasn't able to shoot anything – StuG's lacking turret traverse and all..

From their position in the houses next to the bridge Søren opened fire on the white rifles on the hill. Nothing happened.

He send forth a section to investigate the shrubberies a bit further east the bridge. At Tea Break it was discovered that the harmless looking bushes had no less than two platoons of Russians in them! Yuicks! The one platoon even got to fire a the Tea Break, but two initiative dice apiece didn't yield much. Two kills and four wounds on the section in front of them.

After the break Søren retired the unlucky section and rallied it. My answer to this was a draw of the ”uhraaa” card – I couldn't miss that one out! The Russians stormed forward. Their commander had completely forgotten their measly 2 initiative dice and was greatly disappointed to roll... 5''... Stuck, dumbfoundedly in the middle of the bleeding open an entire Russian platoon sat as a sitting duck.

The nearby Big Man tried a desperate assault on the several Pz. II's lined up next to the houses. We decided that on a roll of 11 or 12 he had thrown a good one with a Molotov cocktail. He didn't.

North the Germans were having a firefeast. The T34 #67 had been ridiculously impotent failing to roll 6+ for two consecutive turns. But finally it managed to hit, pin and kill some Germans. The blue rifles tried advancing but the lack of big men proved fatal. South the T34 215 had it's turret blown to smithereens by a PaK, which Søren deployed from a Blind. Reason he hadn't used it earlier was that he had misunderstood when he was allowed to do it – believing it could only be done on the ”German Blinds move” card. A bit sad.

We had to end the game soon after this as my last bus would be leaving soon. It was a cool game with lots of good moments and Søren was a thoroughly good guy to play with. Having lots of good troops at his disposal probably helped this!

Needless to say the early Russian fight an up hill battle – but unlike some people I don't mind playing games that way. Fair gaming isn't necessarily fun gaming in my opinion. If it was, why even bother with IABSM and not just play Flames of War instead.

Well thanks to Søren for saving my evening from being wasted time, and hopefully he'll be interested in taking on the Russians later. Or perhaps my Frenchies when they arrive (even the delivery is hesitant!).

Amokfigur

 
 
 
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For one of our three games this month, Ian wheeled out his 15mm Normandy collection to stage a small fictitious battle from a free scenario designed by Richard Clarke using IABSM.

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The scenario recreates what must have been one of many similar struggles going on in the closing days of the Normandy campaign in late summer of 1944 as the allies fought hard to close what became known to history as the 'Falaise Pocket'.

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The briefing and our table set up sets the scene and the map below is based on the one I quickly scribbled together noting the opening positions of the German troops and with the red arrows indicating the likely path of the oncoming Tommies.

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As the German commander of this scratch force the situation could only be described as a 'last man, last bullet' one with really the only objective to fight for as long as possible, causing as much damage and delay to the advancing British column before likely being overwhelmed.

The one possible hope of seriously damaging the British advance lay in the 105mm battery in support of my position in a similarly parlous state having lost its transport in the retreat and now resigned to delivering as much of its remaining ammunition in our support.

The picture below is seen from the eastern end (British) of the table with Blinds laid and the card deck arranged ready to start.

The British blinds are placed on table ready to begin the British advance

As the British and German blinds became active, the usual pre-battle routine of spot the enemy began and Zug 2 together with the attached MMG under Obst.Fh. Christiansen got the drop on a British platoon advancing across fields to its front among a small group of houses at the front of the village.

Deploying off their blind, not placed on table as they were occupying heavy cover, the MG42 let fly with a long burst supported with additional rapid rifle fire from Zug 2 shredding the lead British section and sending it reeling back into the middle of the field.

Zug 2 and the MMG team open fire on the British in the next field

As the staccato of rapid small arms and machine-gun fire erupted on the German left flank, the unmistakable clanking and labouring engine noises from tanks were soon heard before being seen by Zug 1 occupying a shattered French cottage on the right flank beside the road and the hastily marked out dummy minefield.

Hopefully the appearance of mines across the road and the nearby ditches might hold the Tommies up long enough whilst they attempted to investigate it to allow the artillery observer to telephone back a fire mission.

Shock and casualties, the result of the German fire from the buildings beyond the hedges

The British tanks were soon identified as the lighter American Stuart types and understandably in such close terrain they were advancing in a cautious manner with supporting infantry either side of the road.

Unfortunately for Unst. Fh. Spielplatz and Zug 2 with their attention very much focused towards the road and the approaching tanks, they failed to observe the Tommy infantry moving in on their position on the extreme right through the hedgerows that allowed them to put in an immediate close assault that was beaten off but not without losing halve the men in the section.

The British tanks are soon spotted advancing cautiously up the hill road

With the battle well and truly under way, the British platoon caught in the field before Zug 1 rapidly fanned out attempting to get into cover behind the thick banked hedgerows as the 'plop, plop' puffs of mortar smoke rounds dropped in front of the German position severely restricting the visibility.

Meanwhile the centre British platoon coming abreast of their position opened up a lively fire on Christiansen's position and Zug 1 took early casualties, convincing their commander that now might be the time to pull back to another stop point, leaving the MMG team to cover the withdrawal.

Zug 1, their attention focused on the road about to be close assaulted by British infantry manning the hedges to their right

With an hour of battle already underway and British troops now clearly identified in front of the German position it became an immediate necessity to get some artillery support to reduce the pressure on the forward units and allow them to break off having caused initial casualties and now needing to relocate before becoming pinned and overwhelmed.

The British tank commanders nervously concentrating on scanning the nearby hedgerows with fingers firmly on the trigger

The British commanders were doing their best to stop the Germans identified to their front from escaping and feeling more confident that they had a better understanding as to where the initial threat was positioned brought the tanks forward to bolster the fire from the infantry with their 37mm guns firing small HE rounds at neighbouring buildings.

The British platoon rapidly reorganises after the shock of the first German attack issuing orders to the 2" mortar to lay smoke

The first attempt to call in artillery fire failed as did the second and thus both Zug commanders were forced to fall back as best they could without the cover of the German artillery and with the HQ in the village keen to keep the second MMG in reserve and undetected until the British closed in on the village itself.

Obst.Fh. Christiansen leads the remains of Zug 2 back along the hedgerows having successfully broken contact

In the end both German infantry Zugs managed to break contact and start to work their way back into the village as best they could but not without casualties and the MMG team covering Zug 2 were wiped out in a close assault as the British infantry under cover of their smoke cleared the forward buildings on the German left.

As the British move up to the outskirts of the village the one remaining MMG team open up on the unsuspecting Tommy infantry

With both forward German positions cleared and with the minefield identified as a dummy the British troops together with their tanks advanced within site of the centre of the village aligned along the lane leading to the group of houses recently cleared.

As the British company commander assessed the situation and issued orders for the final assault to clear the small hamlet, the noise of battle was rent with the crashing and roar of high explosive as the German artillery battery finally joined in the fight.

With the forward German positions cleared and the minefield identified as dummy the British line closes in on the village

With the first marker round landing in the lane close to the British company HQ, the observer in the church spire called in 'fire for effect' and the British section closest to the fire lost six men and a nearby PIAT team was also killed, with the fire pinning the remaining troops.

If that wasn't bad enough a stay behind German sniper located in the rear most buildings vacated by Zug 2 attempted to take out the British company commander, missing the senior officer but killing two soldiers from a neighbouring section and leaving them in shock.

The British Company HQ sets up behind the lane just before first German spotting round lands in front of their position

Then to add final insult to injury the remaining German MMG team opened up on the infantry supporting the British tanks coming up the hill shredding another section and drawing HE fire from the tanks in response shocking the crew.

With two hours of battle completed the fight was entering the closing stages as the British reeling under artillery, sniper and MMG fire prepared to bring numbers to bear supported by their tanks with a section charging forward under fire to clear the MMG team after another softening up by the tanks.

With British troops manning the hedges and walls along the lane German artillery and a lone sniper firing from the roof on the right open up on the British and their command team

With the position under extreme pressure another barrage of artillery landed shredding the British platoon on the lane as the Panzerschreck team opened fire just as the British closed in on the nearby MMG team.

The German anti-tank round was devastating when it hit the Stuart dead centre causing a massive explosion in the vehicle as the ammunition and fuel 'cooked off' causing the neighbouring tank to test for shock from the explosion which effectively pinned it for the next turn.

However the explosion caused yet more casualties to the British infantry in and around the stricken tank.

As the British attempt to close on the village under German artillery and MMG fire, the Panzerschreck team open fire on the British tanks

With the MMG team lost and the Panzerschreck team about to share their fate the last shots were heard down on the German left as the sniper opened fire, again killing two men and shocking the section concerned.

Stmch. Fh. Fleischessen covering the extreem left flank and realising that no British tanks threatened his area ordered his men to ditch their antitank grenades and reverted to being riflemen opening up on the British section advancing through the orchards.

The final mini-battle saw one of Fleischessen's men killed with two Tommies killed in return, which pretty much seemed to sum up the day with the British set fare to clear the village but having been made to pay a heavy price in dead and wounded.

At the end of our game I couldn't help but think of the famous picture of Canadian Major David Curry VC, pictured at the close of a similarly seriously fought battle to clear the village of Saint Lambert-sur-Dives, blocking the final escape route of German troops out of the pocket.

Perhaps a fitting tribute of a game to the men who fought the Normandy campaign on this the one hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day.

Thanks to Ian for pulling our game together and to Dickie, and Andy for a fun afternoon.

Carojon

 
 
 
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Scott was free last weekend for a game, which is a rare event indeed. So the two of us played I Ain't Been Shot Mum. The game was an attack by Canadian infantry and armour supported by Wasps on a village in Normandy held by Fallschirmjaeger and a platoon of STuGs.

Mainly because I wanted to put my new haystacks on the table. And the FJ hadn't been out of the box in a while.

Canadians attacked from the left and tried flanking move through field at top

Canadian view of entrance to town

FJ panzerjaeger team springs ambush

I deployed from the road, with one troop on the road, the Squadron HQ in a field left of the road and the second troop on it's left. The two infantry platoons were following in line on either side if the road. The Wasps trailed behind waiting for something to set on fire.

Scott revealed his trip wire, a section of FJ with two of his three tank hunter teams who promptly brewed up the leading Sherman. A section of recoilless rifles were also revealed in front of the Squadron HQ.

"Ambush right!"

FJ support gun section revealed

I got the 'Armoured Bonus Move' card so I decided to try and overrun the FJ. Of course, I quickly learned that this doesn't work so good against unpinned troops who aren't in foxholes. I did crush one gun, but everyone else evaded and even made a few antitank attacks. Sqdn HQ had one tank brewed up and the other two damaged. The right hand troop had three Shermans burning after their charge.

Burning Shermans

The Wasps moved up to toast one panzerschrek team while the infantry rushed forward, clearing the hedge and then the first house at bayonet point. The surviving Shermans got busy shelling everything they could see. The FAC was also calling in Typhoons by this time. The infantry charge swept in before the smoke from the rockets could clear.

8 Platoon takes the first house with bayonets

On my left, my remaining Shermans were thinking about crossing the road to flank the town. But Scott tried being cagey and moved a Blind along some cover on my flank. Thinking these were his StuGs I redeployed in cover to protect myself and dropped a Typhoon on the Blind to find it a Dummy.

Shermans move around the flank

Typhoons give support

By this time he had revealed his second platoon in the big green house, so my Shermans shifted to put HE into the houses instead of maneuvering more aggressively. This saved them from getting killed by his StuGs who were sitting patiently covering the field on the edge of town. The field I had been thinking of moving across!

FJ second line

STuGs waiting in ambush

Surviving Canadian tanks being cautious

It was now midnight and time to call the game. His infantry and AT were pretty beaten up, but the StuGs were still a threat. I had two good infantry platoons but I'd lost half my armour. So it would come down to keeping my remaining Shermans alive to fire HE, while the Wasps burned out the remaining FJ and supported the infantry attacks.

Not a good day for the Canadians. But I enjoyed setting up a bigger game for a change and I liked how the table looked.

James Mantos

 
 
 
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The third battle of the Welsh Campaign took place at the club last night. The battle was fought using 15mm troops and "I Ain't Been Shot, Mum" rules from Too Fat Lardies. The campaign is from the Welsh Guards supplement for the rules: Cymru Am Blyth.

The Germans forces had retreated to the town of Bourg Leopold after being pushed down the road in the two previous battles. The German force was a reduced infantry company with 50mm anti-tank guns in support. The Welsh Guards had pulled the Prince of Wales company out of the line to re-organize and re-supply after fighting two engagements. 2nd Company came forward after crossing the Albert Canal and linked up with the Cromwell Squadron. This combined arms force then moved on to liberate Bourg Leopold from the Germans.

The Germans were very short of men and heavy weapons. They deployed the two 50mm AT guns on the flanks of the town and placed the two infantry platoons in the center. There were also a couple of squads of stragglers mixed in the line. A single MG-42 tripod held a position on the second floor of a stone building. Two 8cm mortars were deployed to the rear in support linked with a forward observer with a phone line. Everything was on the line with nothing in reserve. They just didn't have the troops.

The Welsh Guards deployed with the Cromwell squadron in the center and provide direct fire support for the line infantry. The three rifle companies were deployed on the left flank in half-tracks. The company HQ section took up a position by the tanks.

At 10am, the tanks and infantry advanced towards the German line. The approach was going to be difficult for the Guards. Open fields with no cover until the first line of buildings. If they could break the thin German front, they could deploy around them, but getting in was the trick.

The Welsh used the speed of the half-tracks to advance across the kill zone. The Germans 50mm guns opened fire and scored a hit on a Cromwell that jammed its turret and the second shot destroyed a loaded half-track. The Guardsmen inside were lucky and suffered minor losses. This fire lead to the infantry dismounting and advancing on foot towards the German held buildings.

Losses began to mount as the Welsh were caught in the open fields by German small arms fire. The German AT guns and a Panzerschreck rocket destroyed two more half-tracks. Another Cromwell was damaged to AT fire and pulled back. Losses to the dug in Germans were minor.

The Welsh Guards had a series of moves that closed on the building on the German right flank, but luck was against them in this battle. The MG-42 card was turned as they advanced into close range in the open. The result was one squad completely wiped out and another with 6 of 8 castings hit.

The Guards had had enough this day and ordered retreat. They were able to extract themselves without too great a loss. Two Guardsmen were taken prisoner by the Germans. The liberation would have to wait for another day, so put those Belgium flags back inside before they are seen.

One side note, the Germans were never able to fire their mortars, as the FO card never came up. We assumed this was due to the phone line being cut early in the battle. Also, the Cromwell Squadron was firing away early in the battle, but then nothing for the rest of the engagement. Smoke must have obscured the targets. Also, the RAF was not to be scene anywhere. This left the poor bloody infantry with little to no support as they advanced across the fields. One of the many things I like about this rules set, you don't know what is going to happen or when.

Losses:

Welsh: thirty-two infantry (two were POW's) and three M-3 halftracks

Germans: six infantry

Oddball


 
 
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The last week of September 1939 saw a combined “Northern Front” Polish army join the attack towards Tomaszow Lubelski. Due to bad communications between the different Polish divisions, the result was a series of largely uncoordinated attacks by Polish unis arriving from the north-east, launched in the direction of the city only to be shattered wave-by-wave by the German defenders.

This scenario would represent one such attack: with Polish and German forces brawling for control of the centre of the table. Four objectives would be placed there, with each side entering the table and attempting to take and hold them. The game would end after ten appearances of the Turn Card, at which point victory would go to the side that held the most objectives. If, however, one side managed to hold at any point three of the four objectives, then the game would end immediately, with that side wining the battle. The picture above shows most of the table, with the four objectives: Red, Blue, Green Left and Green Right.

The Germans

The Germans, under Bevan, had a small but powerful force. Core to their contingent was a Schutzen infantry company consisting of three platoons of two eight-man rifle squads and a light mortar team each. Each squad had two light machine guns, so would shoot with extra D6. Supporting the Schutzen was a truck-mounted machine gun platoon of four MMGs; and a platoon of tanks: two Panzer I and three Panzer II. The Germans also had plenty of Big Men, access to air support, and unlimited fire missions from four off-table medium mortars controlled by an on-table FOO.

The Poles

The Poles, played by me, had a real mixture of troops. Their infantry consisted of two platoons of three rifle squads each: no extra LMGs, but each squad was ten strong: giving me sixty PBI versus the Germans’ forty-eight. One platoon had an anti-tank rifle team.

Supporting the infantry were five support platoons: a platoon of two medium mortars (on table), a platoon of two 75mm infantry guns (on table), a platoon of two taczanka MMGs on carts, a platoon of two cavalry squads, and a platoon of three Wz.34 armoured scout cars. I didn’t have quite so many Big Men as the Germans: so more troops and less command capacity.

Polish infantry guns in position

Opening Moves

The game began with the Germans advancing strongly onto the table. In fact, such was the way that the cards fell, it was several turns before a single Polish solider even set foot onto the battlefield. At one stage, I thought I would lose the game without even getting the chance to fir a shot!

On the German right, their MMG platoon and a platoon of infantry moved forward and took the Red objective marker. The MMG platoon then moved forward again and set up shop around the edge of the corn field, taking as much cover as they could. That was one objective marker captured.

On the German left, another platoon of infantry moved forward and took the Blue objective marker. That was two objectives taken and, seeing the opportunity presented by the still empty battlefield, Bevan sent a squad of infantry towards the church hoping to snatch a third objective marker (Green Right) and victory before the Poles even made an appearance.

The situation was critical for the Poles!

Fortunately, however, some of my units then arrived. On my left, the infantry guns made their way to the front of the light woods and started bombarding the German infantry squad around the Red objective marker. This proved quite successful: doing a bit of damage and setting fire to one of the wooden huts they were sheltering in. They would soon have to leave the hut, presumably then providing me with an even better target!

Unfortunately, the German machine-gunners were in no mood to let that happen. Three of the teams concentrated their fire on my infantry guns, soon killing the all the crew of one, and reducing the crew of the other down to just one man. He bravely dragged the gun back into the forest, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour!

But that’s a sideshow, I hear you cry, what happened in the middle of the table? Did the Germans snatch the third objective and victory?

Well, no. I managed to get my armoured cars onto the road near the church, and their bonus moves on the road and for being scout vehicles managed to get two of them at least up to the church on time to stop the Germans crossing the road and taking the objective.

At the same time, the third armoured car skirted the nearby corn field and took the Green Left objective marker, settling down to exchange fire with the German MMG team opposite.

So at the end of the opening moves of the battle, it was two objectives each, but with the Germans much more onto the table than the Poles.

What Happened Next

At this point I was becoming seriously worried. I had almost lost the battle once already, only just managing to block a final German advance to the church. I could also see more German Blinds coming in along the road from my right: Blinds that revealed themselves as the Panzers. How on earth was I supposed to stop them? My infantry guns were just about taken out, and I didn’t fancy taking on the 20mm autocannon in the Panzer IIs with my armoured cars (one Wz.34 had already fallen victim to long range autocannon fire). Worse, another German Blind was now heading for the church and, if I were Bevan, that would be my final infantry platoon: more than enough men to ignore the armoured cars and push forward into the building and take the objective, so winning the game.

Now there occurred one of those sequences of play that can’t really be explained. By rights, the German Panzers should have suppressed everything in front of them, leaving the third German infantry platoon to take the third and winning objective. But that’s not what happened. Somehow, everything suddenly started to fall my way.

Firstly, a rapid advance on my far left enabled me to deploy a platoon of infantry on the flanks of the Panzers. This platoon had its own leader, plus our one anti-tank rifle, and the commander-in-chief as well.

A combination of hand grenades, fire from the anti-tank rifle, and a charge out of the woods with one squad of infantry forced both German Panzer I crews to bail out. Okay, the Panzer IIs were still active, but the Panzer Is had been covering my line of approach to the back of the church.

Without their baleful presence, I could then deploy my taczankas in a position to fire at the German infantry platoon that had managed to reach as far as the walled graveyard right outside the church. The taczankas opened fire with devastating close range effect. This stopped the German infantry in their tracks, which in turn allowed me to get an infantry platoon of my own into the church. They moved to the windows overlooking the graveyard and…well, it wasn’t pretty and the German infantry platoon effectively ceased to exist.

It was now two objectives each but, although rescued from immediate defeat for the second time, the situation was still not secure for the Poles. The armoured car holding Green Left had been battered by the German machine guns, and now came under fire from the three Panzer IIs as well. They had advanced past the church behind the buildings in front of it, with two of them moving right up to the poor Wz.34, soon turning it into a colander, forcing its crew to bail!

If the Germans could get infantry to the objective (we’d agreed that you could only hold an objective with infantry), that would be the three needed to win the game. Quickly a German infantry squad headed across the fields, victory in sight!

The picture above shows the position at the centre of the battlefield. You can see that one move with the squad accompanied by Big Man 2, right in the middle, will win the game for the Germans.

But look again, more closely, at what is going on elsewhere.

At the top of the picture is the Blue objective. Holding it is a light mortar team of two men: their platoon having moved forward into the barns to the right. What you can’t see is my final Blind: now lurking just outside the front of the church. That Blind concealed the cavalry and, brilliantly and tactically amazingly seizing the opportunity (or “in a desperate attempt not to lose the game”: you choose which is more applicable) I ordered them to charge forward and take the Blue objective.

This involved hitting both the light mortar team and the reduced (five-man) infantry squad in the end barn, but the Polish cavalry swept all before them…so that when the German infantry arrived at and took the Green Left objective, I was already in possession of the Blue objective: still two objectives held by each side.

Endgame

Another close escape for the Poles!

But then Bevan and I both realised something.

Although the Germans had come close to winning the game three times (we’re talking three match points here!) the situation was actually now very different. Not only were the Germans rapidly running out of troops, but the Poles were curling forward around their left flank, and were actually now perfectly positioned to defeat them.

Counting up what was left, the Germans had four MMG teams, only two infantry squads and two Panzer IIs left. The Poles could still dispose six infantry squads, two cavalry squads, the two taczankas and one armoured car. In fact, the Germans were so short of troops that they had had to bring the infantry holding the Red objective marker forward, leaving it unguarded. So they actually held only one objective (Green Left) to the Poles’ two.

Well that was a bit of a surprise!

We played until the next Tea Break card, but could both see the writing on the wall. Gnashing his teeth at how he had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the German commander ordered a withdrawal. Victory for the Poles!

Aftermath

Not quite sure how that happened. To give you an idea at how desperate things got, at one stage I was actually thinking of charging his Panzers with my cavalry! The Germans were inside the Poles’ decision loop all the way through the game: all I felt I was doing throughout was reacting to crisis after crisis…it’s just that those reactions proved very successful and somehow wove together into a win.

A great game.

Robert Avery

 
 
 
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As part of a counter-attack that had already thrown the Germans back some twenty kilometres, the Polish 16th and 26th Infantry Divisions crossed the Bzura river near Lowicz on the morning of 14th September 1939, and the Polish 4th Infantry Division reached the road linking Lowicz and Glowno. At this point, however, the retreating Germans were re-inforced by the 4th Panzer Division, which had been withdrawn from the fighting in the outskirts of Warsaw, and launched a counter-attack of their own against the advancing Poles. This battle would recreate the encounter battle that followed.

The Game

Each side would begin the game with half their available platoons on table under Blinds within their deployment area. Once initial moves were out of the way, each time a side’s Blinds card appeared, they could roll a D6 to see if one of their remaining units arrived: with a roll of 1-3 meaning that one off-table platoon arrived on the road at the back of the appropriate deployment area.

It was player’s choice which platoons started on table: the first important decision of the game.

The red circles on the photo above show where the objectives were. After the eighth appearance of the Turn Card, the game would end if one side held both objectives on any appearance of the Tea Break card. If the game went on past eleven appearances of the Turn Card, then a draw would be declared.

As you can see, each side had one objective within relatively easy striking distance of their deployment area, and one objective nearer to their enemy’s deployment area.

The Germans

The Germans, played by Bevan, had the following force at their disposal:

  • A Company HQ

  • A company of Schutzen infantry: three platoons of three squads each, with each squad having two light support weapons, so firing with an extra D6 effect

  • A platoon of four MMG teams

  • A platoon of two 7.5cm infantry guns

  • A Panzer HQ tank and a platoon of four tanks: five Panzer 38(t) tanks in total

The Germans also had air support available.

Bevan chose to begin the game with his Company HQ (for calling in air support), two platoons of infantry and the MMG teams. His plan was to take the objective nearest to him, and then to wait for reinforcements before advancing towards the other objective.

The Poles

I played the Poles. The sensible thing to do would be to mirror what Bevan had planned: take and hold the nearest objective, then build up and go for the other.

Looking at my available troops, however, I realised that a lot of them were pretty quick. I had a platoon of cavalry, some taczankas and some scout TKS tankettes, all of which could whizz around the table rolling lots of extra dice for movement. My available troops were:

  • A Company HQ

  • Three line infantry platoons, one of three large squads, one of two large squads

  • A platoon of cavalry with two squads

  • A support platoon of two light mortars and three taczankas

  • A platoon of two anti-tank guns

  • A reconnaissance platoon of five tankettes

I therefore decided to be incredibly bold and initially deploy all the really quick troops, and then try for a coup de main involving an attempt to snatch the FAR objective from under the Germans’ noses, and then hold on until relieved.

Risky…but would make for a more fun game!

I therefore began the game with my cavalry platoon, my support platoon, the tankettes, and the weakest infantry platoon on table. The infantry would head for the nearest objective, my fast-movers would try and take the far objective before the Germans arrived.

Obviously, all sorts of things could go wrong with my plan. I could fail to reach the far objective in time; I could get there, take the objective, then get overwhelmed by heavier German opposition; or, worse, I could end up strung out in super-fast march order and be picked off bit by bit by more solidly deployed German troops. In essence, the game could be over really quickly!

The Battle Begins

As the battle began, I sent my fast-movers (the cavalry, tankettes and taczankas) towards the far objective as fast as they could move.

The Poles advance pdq

Well that turned out to be pretty damn fast! A run of good cards had me well on the way before the Germans had worked out what I was doing. In the picture above, the taczankas have already deployed, Blind 7 is the cavalry, Blind 8 are the tankettes, Blind 4 is the infantry, and Blinds 9 and 12 are Dummy. The taczankas are deployed early so that the mortars could get into action asap…and to stack the deck for morale purposes.

“Now what do we do, Porucznik?”

As can be seen, the Germans were moving quite sluggishly, and had split their movement between moving towards ‘their’ objective and moving towarsd the church in preparation for a push towards ‘my’ objective. This allowed my cavalry to shoot forward and, much to my surprise, effectively take the far objective without opposition. This was a good thing, especially when they dismounted and took as much cover as they could on the edge of the field.

The beginnings of a ring of death!

The Germans had, however, managed to get one of their Blinds into the village. This deployed as their MMG platoon, which opened fire on the cavalry (desperately keeping their heads down) and killed Porucznik (Lieutenant) Pierogi with their opening burst!

Fortunately, my mortars then got a turn, and managed to drop their bombs right on top of the German positions amongst the wooden shacks of the village. All four MMG teams were affected: suffering casualties from the splinters of shell and wood flying everywhere, and Pinned by the blast.

This allowed my cavalry to survive long enough for my tankettes to arrive. On paper, these are rubbish: light armour and armed only with a single MMG. There are five of them, however, and surrounding an already Pinned unit of MMGs at Close range, made the Germans suffer for the death of Pawl Pierogi. Fire from a couple of taczankas also added to their misery.

The Germans had another Blind in the village: a platoon of infantry. These deployed in order to add their fire at the cavalry but, of course, immediately came under fire themselves from the now-headless horsemen, five tankettes and two taczankas. Another German infantry platoon also deployed and headed for the objective.

All I see is more targets!

By the sort of coincidence that no-one ever believes, both sides then received reinforcements. The Germans chose (surprise, surprise) to bring on their Panzer platoon; I chose to bring on (surprise, surprise) my anti-tank guns.

The Action Hots Up

The German MMG teams had, by now, all run for the hills, but the four Panzer 38(t)s, a very good tank at this stage of the war, advanced forward, infantry following on behind.

German infantry demonstrating their dressage skills…

This changed the balance of power considerably, and for a couple of turns it was the Poles who were on the receiving end. Two tankettes were lost to enemy fire, and the cavalry were starting to look a bit thin on the ground.

I said the plan was “hold until relieved”, and it now looked somewhat unlikely that I could actually last that long. Neither of my two strong infantry platoons were even on the table yet, although the weak platoon and taczanka deployed towards the church was combining holding ‘my’ objective with some quite effective long range fire down into the German troops holding the village.

Fortunately, however, help was at hand. My anti-tank gun platoon, commanded as always by Porucznik Bert Bigos, had had further to go than the German panzers, but now arrived and set up shop.

The Luftwaffe intervene

The German panzers, in their eagerness to close with the Poles, had moved forward just far enough to present their flanks to the anti-tank guns. Although it took a couple of turns, and the process was briefly interrupted by the German Luftwaffe, soon all four were either burning merrily or abandoned.

At this point, we both realised that my light troops, helped by the mortars, had effectively destroyed the German panzer platoon, their MMG platoon and one of their platoons of infantry, with the other looking quite sick as well (especially as I could now concentrate my fire on it as the Germans had nothing else left until more reinforcements arrived).

At the same time, I held both objectives, and had strong reinforcements still to arrive…and the Turn Card count was at six: only two more appearances before the “hold both objectives and win” conditions came into play. Bevan thought a moment, and then conceded. My coup de main had won the day!

Aftermath

Well that had been a cracking game, proving my two favourite IABSM maxims:

  1. mortars are deadly

  2. boldness and aggression are the key to winning

Although I had enjoyed the early period of the game, when my superior numbers had just kept blasting the German 1st Platoon and MMG teams to pieces, the arrival of the Panzers had definitely swung things the other way, and I could easily have found myself with only a single infantry platoon left to play with.

The arrival of the anti-tank guns couldn’t have been better timed, but it does go to show how important it is to keep your enemy reacting to what you do rather than the other way around. I believe “get inside the enemy’s decision making loop” is the modern way of saying it.

Robert Avery

 
 
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On September 7th 1939, reconnaissance units from one of the Panzer Divisions of General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst’s XXI Army Corps captured Wizna after Polish mounted reconnaissance squads abandoned the village after a short fight and retreated to the southern bank of the Narew. When German tanks tried to cross the bridge, it was blown up by Polish engineers.

This game would recreate the German attempt to force the Narew Crossing.

The Bridge over the Narew. Polish Blinds 6-8 are dummy Blinds that I was hoping could move forward and spot the Germans nice and early. Everything else is hidden, apart from Blinds 2 and 4, whom I was aiming to send across the bridge to secure it from the other side.

The picture above shows the bridge in question, along with the surrounding terrain. The German deployment area can be seen top right.

The four Polish eagle markers (well, three are visible) mark out the Polish deployment area. They would be removed before the first chit was pulled.

The game was a screening mission. Provided the bridge remained in Polish hands (i.e. no German troops were in base-to-base contact with the bridge) each time the Turn Card appeared, Polish engineers would roll a D6. Once the total rolled hit 25, any Polish Big Man could order the bridge blown.

The Poles

The Poles, defending, had:

  • a platoon of two 12-man dismounted border guard (KOP) cavalry squads

  • a platoon of two 12-man KOP infantry squads

  • three taczankas (a machine gun mounted on a custom-built cart)

  • two anti-tank guns from division

  • five TKS tankettes.

These last were unfortunately armed only with a machine gun rather than being the rarer variant upgunned with a 20mm cannon.

The Germans

Did I mention that the Germans also had air support and off-table mortars?

The Germans fielded:

  • a company of motorised infantry: three platoons, each of three 8-man squads, with each squad carrying two support weapons i.e. firing on four dice not the usual three

  • a platoon of four MMGs

  • an infantry gun platoon of two 75mm IGs

  • a platoon of five Panzer Is

  • a platoon of three Panzer IIIs.

This all looked quite formidable, especially as I was playing the Poles…but it was no good complaining as I had written the scenario: #12 in the first September War scenario pack.

Opening Moves

The German advanced forward under Blinds, deploying onto the table as they encountered my line of dummy Blinds. One platoon of German infantry (second platoon) advanced along the right hand side of the main road, another (first platoon) advanced along the left hand side of the same road accompanied by the Panzer IIIs. The rest of the German force moved up behind.

I decided to open fire as soon as possible, hopefully taking advantage of the long distance that the Germans would have to cover to get to me.

This was a plan which had mixed success. Although the fire from one taczanka and one tankette sent the German infantry scurrying for cover, slowing down their advance, the lead Panzer III opened fire on my tankette and, despite its low profile, hit it with a 37mm shell that blew the little tin can to bits!

I wasn’t entirely without a bit of luck, however. By this stage, the Turn Card had already appeared twice, with me rolling a “6” each time: 25 points needed, 12 on the scorecard already!

Long range exchange of fire continued on for a couple of turns, until Bevan, playing the Germans, realised that he had no hope of winning the game at this distance, and would need to get up close and fight his way through to the bridge the hard way!

The Germans Drive Forward

I had now revealed most of my assets and was busy laying down as much fire as possible.

Recognising the fact that the north side of the village was effectively held only with a tankette and an anti-tank gun, the Germans sent their third platoon in a dramatic rush forward across open ground in an attempt to get a foothold amongst the wooden houses.

As the same time, two of the German Panzer IIIs used their Blitzkrieg bonus moves to close with the taczanka, anti-tank gun and tankette in the small wood just south-west of the crossroads.

This turned out to be a very risky move, as although lots of damage was done to all the Polish units in the woods, both Panzer III crews were eventually forced to abandon their vehicles: Shock and accumulated damage causing a loss of nerve.

Meanwhile, the German infantry north of the village had managed to get in amongst the first house, although crossing the open ground had cost them a whole squad. Unfortunately for the Poles, at this moment the Panzer Is appeared. Having been lurking off-table for the game so far, they now arrived and also slammed into the village from the north.

As you’ll see from the pictures, above, the situation was now desperate. The only things holding the Polish position together were three Big Men (Kapitan Nalewki, Porucznik Kielbasa and Sierzant Czworniak) the last anti-tank gun, the two taczankas, a couple of tankettes and a squad of infantry holding the house in the centre of the village. These had taken cover at the far end of the house, so that although the Panzer Is were hammering the north end of the house with their machine guns, the squad remained fairly intact. They would have to be removed by infantry.

The German third platoon charged forward, but one of its squads and its leader, Leutnant Fabian Fastnachts (his brother, Freddi, was commanding second platoon), got tangled up in the Panzer Is and didn’t make it into contact. That left about fifteen Germans versus about ten Poles, but the Poles were defending what was left of the wooden hut. After fierce fighting, the Germans were repelled with 35% casualties.

The Turn Card had appeared another couple of times, and the Polish engineers had now achieved 21 of the 25 points needed in order to blow the bridge. The Germans could stop that total going up if they could get into base-to-base contact with the bridge, so whilst his infantry sorted themselves out, Bevan sent his Panzer Is in a sweep through the village in the hope that one of them might make it onto the bridge and survive for long enough to let the rest of his force catch up - after all, second platoon had eventually got moving and, covered by the fact that the Poles had their hands full dealing with the Germans coming from the north, managed to get into the wood near the church near the bridge.

Climax

Down through the village swept the Panzers, bypassing the Polish infantry and heading for the last remaining anti-tank gun (now down to two crew members) and taczanka.

Two of the Panzers were taken out by the anti-tank gun, one of them by the single crew member remaining, but the third tank managed to avoid getting hit and ran over the anti-tank gun, mangling it into the ground. Incredibly, the Panzer I avoided throwing a track as well.

Apologies for the poor focus in the pictures, below, but things were unbelievably tense and photography was actually the last thing on my mind. The Poles were still holding the bridge…but where on earth was that blasted Turn Card?

Neither side had much left to play with now, but still the Germans advanced, desperate to get something onto the bridge to “stop the clock”. The photo below shows the situation from Polish final position.

Where was the Turn Card? It had been due out for several turns. All we had had was a rapid succession of Tea Break cards that had intensified the close range fighting for the village.

The Germans had one last trick up their sleeve. They had two tanks left: a Panzer I and a Panzer III. The Panzer I leapt forward and rammed the Poles’ last remaining taczanka. It threw a track and immobilised itself in the process (its crew abandoning ship) but, most importantly, had now taken out the last remaining Polish unit that could seriously threaten an AFV. Yes, the Poles still had infantry left, but they weren’t used to fighting tanks, and had an anti-tank factor of only 1: someone had obviously misplaced the regimental can openers!

That left the last remaining Panzer (a Panzer III) free to drive forward onto the bridge itself, scattering the Polish engineers still setting their charges. Although we did have a quick debate as to whether the Panzer counted as “troops”, I conceded that it probably did (Bevan: “well you tell me: you wrote the scenario!”), which meant that it now didn’t matter if the Turn Card appeared…or at least not until I had removed the tank.

 

And that, as they say, was that. After an unbelievably tense game, with the Poles fighting for every inch of the village, praying that their engineers (the Turn Card) would finish their job and blow the bridge, the battle ended in a German victory as I conceded that I wouldn’t be able to shift the tank and restart the clock, as it were.

Just to see what would happen, Bevan put his hand into the chip bag and pulled out the next chip. It was, of course, the Turn Card, arriving just a second too late for the Poles!

The game had been carnage on both sides. All the Poles had left in action was 26 infantrymen. The Germans had lost half their infantry and all but two of their eight panzers.

An amazing game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum whose result literally came down to the last minute of action.

Robert Avery

 
 
 
 

It’s has been far too long since I’ve done one of these but an going to try and get back in the habit of doing them again. Anyway, Monday saw Ian put on a nice 20mm WW2 game of IABSM. Daren and I were taking the part of the filthy Bosche whilst Des got to take the plucky Tommies. We were tasked with securing a small hamlet and had quite a nice force to do so with having the following:

  • 1 Heavy weapons platoon of:

    • 1 75mm Infantry gun

    • 1 37mm AT gun

    • 3 Sustained fire MG34 (we attached 2 to the Infantry platoons)

  • 2 Infantry Platoons

    • 3 8-man sections with attached MG34

  • 1 recce Platoon

    • 2 Sdkfz 222

    • 2 Sdkfz 221

  • 1 Pz-38t Platoon

    • 4 tanks

After looking at the terrain we hatched a devilishly simple plan. Daren would take the tanks and one platoon and head straight up the road whilst I would take the armoured cars and the other platoon and try and flank the buildings along the right hand road. Daren would take the Heavy weapons to to help neutralise any opposition.

Table looking from where ze Germans entered.

So with our plans ready we got to it. Daren advanced through the trees to near the Y-Junction with his tanks and drew the fire of a 2pdr located between the houses on the road and a Boys AT rifle team hiding in the hedges at the junction. In the meantime my Armoured Cars were making their way forwards along the right hand road heading to the T-junction. Daren’s luck was in as the fire from the Brits failed to knock him out but did cause his lead panzer a mobility loss and so he had blocked the road. As his weapons were okay though he returned fire on the Boys team and the following tanks deployed amongst the trees. Our infantry platoons were still advancing behind on blinds.

‘Keep a look out mit ze Minzi Pies, Hanz!’

‘It is all a bit quite, Dieter!’

Things settled down to a duel between the Boyes and 2pdr and the Pz-38 platoon for a while, Daren made short work of the Boys team and started firing on the 2-pdr which managed to brew up a tank. The return fire from the remaining tanks managed to kill all of the AT gun crew bar one brave soul who stuck to his task and kept up the return fire as best he could (obviously with an eye on getting himself on the cover of Victor Book for Boys one day!). Indeed this stout son of Albion eventually knocked out another Pz-38 before he was finally made to retreat, in the process earning himself the admiration of us all and no doubt a citation for a fanny magnet from his CO too.

‘Lumme Corp, don’t bleeding well miss.’

‘Bugger!, you knocked my arm you clumsy sod, now we’re for it!’

Whilst all this was going on we had spotted a rifle section lurking along the hedges where the Boys was and I duly made short work of them with the combined fire of my cars. I also moved my infantry platoon up into the hedged enclosure between the junctions to prepare for an assault on ‘my’ side of the hamlet. This drew some ineffective mortar fire which was lucky as the infantry were pretty bunched up and fire from a Vickers in the wrecked roof of one of the houses, I managed to get away with only 3 casualties and a few bits of shock and spread the Landsers out and headed for cover.

‘Himmel, Tommies in ze hedges, make mit ze shootings schnell!’

The battle then developed into a firefight as another British rifle section popped up along the stone wall on the right of the buildings and we got the second infantry platoon and the heavy weapons into action too. Unfortunately for Des our lads were better shots and assisted by the automatic weapons of the recce boys and the HE fire from the tanks and guns pretty soon gave the Germans the upper hand shredding the second British rifle section and knocking out the Vickers.

‘Tally-ho lads, lets get up and help out, oh…..’

The Brits did have one hope though as a reinforcing platoon of Infantry accompanied by an A9 appeared on the road on the right, unfortunately my armoured cars hit the infantry pretty hard causing them to scatter and go to ground whilst taking shack and casualties. With time running out and the German weight of fire being so strong we called it a night. All in all a nice straightforward scenario which would have turned out very different if we had stumbled on Des’ other 2pdr and it had taken out the rest of the tanks or some of my armoured cars. Thanks to Ian for putting the game on, he has a fine collection of toys which are always a joy to behold, and thanks to the chaps for making it fun. Hats off to my Armoured Car boys whose devilish shooting helped us secure a win although man of the match was definitely secured by the plucky Tommy on the 2pdr.

Iain Fuller

 
 
 
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Our last game of IABSM was set in the Tuchole Forest in Poland, right at the beginning of the war. Today’s battle would directly follow on from that encounter, and represent the stalwart Polish defence of Grudziadz. Both scenarios were taken from The September War, Part One, one of the TooFatLardies scenario packs that I have written for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!

The eastern edge of Grudziadz. The corner of the objective area is defined by the ammo dump in the foreground.

Background

Grudziadz was a strategically important town as it housed an officer academy, a cavalry school and the several army staffs directing Polish forces in the Polish Corridor region. It was, however, only lightly defended, with its garrison made up of infantry and border protection corps (KOP) along with supporting artillery. The German attack was launched from East Prussia by 21st Corps, mainly infantry and the reserve 10th Panzer regiment (mainly Panzer I and II).

This game was to be a battle for territory. The Poles would begin the game in a square objective area whose on-table corner was defined by the ammo dump in the foreground of the picture above: to define the square, take a line straight out to each table edge (i.e. north along the road past the church and west along the road towards the tape measure). The Germans had to penetrate and have active units within that square on every turn from the eighth appearance of the Turn Card. Failure to do so would lose them the game, with the game ending when it was obvious that either (a) the Germans were not going to get into Grudziadz or (b) the Germans were in, and wouldn’t be shifted.

The Poles

The Poles, played by Dave and winners of the last game, consisted of three 2-squad platoons of infantry: two of regulars, one of KOP. Each of the regular platoons also had an anti-tank rifle team and a light mortar team. These were supported by three taczankas (MMGs on custom-built, horse-drawn carriages), three anti-tank guns, two medium mortars, some off-table artillery (the FOO was in the church steeple), and (incredibly) a flight of PZL37 ground-attack bombers.

Although they knew the Germans were coming from the east, they didn’t know how the attack would fall, so the Poles chose to defend across the eastern face of Grudziadz with their regular infantry forward. Just off the bottom edge of the photo below is another AT gun and taczanka hidden in a small wood just north of the back end of the church. The KOP, one taczanka and one anti-tank gun would be in reserve.

 Slightly after the start of the battle. One squad has already taken casualties.

Slightly after the start of the battle. One squad has already taken casualties.

The Germans

The German force consisted of a three-platoon company of infantry, with each platoon containing three squads of infantry. These were supported by a four-gun machine-gun platoon and a couple of AA half-tracks. Accompanying the infantry was a strong force of panzers: an HQ platoon with a Panzer I Befelswagon, a Panzer I and two Panzer IIs; and then two panzer platoons ach of three Panzer IIs and two Panzer Is. Although all the tanks were light, the 20mm autocannons on the Panzer IIs looked like excellent suppression weapons.

My plan was simple. Ignore the bottom half of the table and just drive everything towards the north side of the church. Ignore casualties amongst the panzers and just aim to get one deep into Grudziadz itself, hiding somewhere towards the back of the village until the end of the game.

Note that as the Germans had lost the last game, my MMGs and AA half-tracks would begin the game off table, with me rolling to see if they arrived.

Here’s the German force advancing forward after a round or so of Polish spotting:

The Battle for Grudziadz

As the game began, the Germans hurled themselves forward, aiming their schwerepunkt at one end of the Polish line. Although the Poles had anticipated that the Germans might come that way (hence the two anti-tank guns and the taczanka), the sheer size of the German thrust was still quite a surprise (ooh, er, madam!).

For those interested in the nuances of how the Blinds rules in IABSM play (a frequent question on the Forum) I chose to deploy all my troops from Blinds as soon as possible: turn one or two, I think. Why? Well although this potentially exposed me to fire as I went in, and could have led to a somewhat fragmented attack (as different units moved on their individual cards as opposed to en masse under Blinds), deploying everything meant that I flooded the deck with my cards giving me a much greater potential for action.

I’m sure the mathematicians amongst you could define this properly, but if there’s a 50% chance of a unit’s card appearing before Tea Break, the composition of the deck once I’d deployed gave me a lot of 50% chances of a unit or Big Man’s card appearing versus the Poles’ one 50% chance that their Blinds card appeared.

The endless stream of your side’s cards is also excellent for hammering your opponent’s morale. Seriously: don’t underestimate the effect of having to sit there and watch your enemy’s troops moving and firing again and again as you have to wait for your card to appear.

This why you shouldn’t adopt the Skelton Gambit optional rule (you can voluntarily deploy from Blinds on Tea Break) as using Blinds is a key skill in IABSM: the equivalent of having great reconnaissance or approach skills!

The net result of all this was that the Germans managed to cross all the open ground north-east of the church for the loss of three infantrymen and one gun disabled on the Befelswagen. The Polish defenders were doing their best, but their anti-tank guns were being hit and pinned by Panzer II 20mm autocannon every turn.

Beware the rings of death!

As the Germans were pouring forward, the Poles were desperately trying to deploy their reserves and redeploy some of their troops towards the north, but another German infantry platoon had gone to ground in front of the southern part of the Polish line, keeping them occupied. Worse, the German MMG platoon, although late, had now arrived, and was also threatening to set up opposite the ammo dump.

The Germans kept pushing forwards, and although they had now lost a few tanks (none destroyed: the crews abandoning after their tanks were immobilised) they were now close enough to run right over the opposition.

Shoot at me, would you!

The German infantry just by the church also charged forward in an attempt to rush the Polish trenches there. Unfortunately, the way the cards turned meant that I had to charge my men forwards without having properly Pinned the Poles first. I had to do it then, as otherwise the Poles might have been reinforced, but the resultant combat, although it resulted in a German win and the capture of the Polish position, cost me dear: only eight men and the Big Man surviving from a platoon of twenty-four.

With their being a convenient door just nearby, this meant that I would almost certainly be able to get into the church before the squad of Polish KOP infantry got into it from the other side, and once I had the church, I was confident that I had the game sown up.

As always, pride, hubris, call it what you will, comes before a fall, and the drone of aircraft engines was heard overhead. Yes: the Polish airforce had arrived.

Bombs whistled down from above, and despite my protestations about aiming at houses of God etc, landed right on my men lurking outside the church. They were all blown to atoms, and the two panzers rattled around as well!

Boom!

This was a pretty severe set-back, as it was going to be real pain winkling the Poles out of the church if the KOPs got in there.

Fortunately, I now had so many panzers forward that I was able to get a few tanks around the church and effectively into a position behind the main Polish line from which I could either bring those defenders under fire, or shoot at any Poles moving forward as reinforcements. I also had my final infantry platoon in a position where they could head towards the church and at least arrive at the same time as the opposition (and in greater numbers).

At this point, the Poles conceded, recognising that they were never going to be able to evict me from the objective area.

Aftermath

It had been a great game, and finished (for those who think that IABSM always takes a long time to play) in about 2½ hours.

Key to the German success had been the decision to schwerepunkt at one point of the Polish line rather than an attempt to suppress their entire defensive line at the same time. If I was playing it again, I might aim at the other end of the Polish line (i.e. down by the ammo dump) but there were, I felt, more opportunities to the north than to the south.

Kudos to Dave, who had correctly predicted my main axis of attack, but not perhaps that I would throw so much into it.

Next up: the defense of Gdynia.

Robert Avery

 

Memo to self: don’t forget AA guns are only effective within 24” of where the air attack goes in!

 
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Getting off the beach had been Hell, but Captain "Hardcore" Bouldermeir was not a man to lie there and get shot. Through strength of character alone he had kicked, punched and cajoled his men up the bluffs. Now G Company, or what passed for it amid the chaotic intermingling of units, was heading inland to deal with a known German assembly are in the grounds of the chateau to the west of Colleville-sur-Mer.

With him were his own three platoons, a couple of MMGs and two 60mm mortars. He had also picked up a platoon of E Company under the leadership of their sergeant, Bat Guano.

The country lane that led inland was remarkably quite and trouble free, but up ahead the German positions that were marked on his map came closer and closer with every step. To his left a wooded valley ran down towards the beach, where a dense tangle of trees and bushes looked like tough going. What was more crossing the open ground to get into the woods was the least inviting thing he'd seen since the beach. On his right some farmland lay on the plateau above the bluffs, and it was here he chose to funnel his main effort, hopefully approaching the chateau grounds under some cover.

His stopping at a hedgerow he studied the terrain ahead. The turnip fields seemed strangely domestic amid such death and destruction, all seemed quite. Bouldermeir signalled to his men. On the right his first platoon skirted further west before rushing inland towards a small farm yard. On his left his second platoon was forming up to head for an imposing Norman barn where the lane met the main coast road. In the centre `Hardcore' was going to take a chance. He vaulted the hedge, assisted his men with the two MMGs and the small party began to move down towards the coast road.

For Leutnant Rolf Sturmer of the 8th Company, 916th Grenadier Regiment, the day had been one of confusion. With the Americans landing on the beach his force, an under-strength company, had been ordered to remain in their bivouacs in the grounds of the Chateau at Le Bray, presumably to be able to counter-attack if the enemy broke inland. His orders were to deploy his men to cover the main coast road, and ensure communications between Colleville and St Laurent were not disrupted.

But Rolf was worried. His two platoons in the Chateau grounds could not control the road east to Colleville if any Americans came up the valley where the mill stream ran down to the sea. His limited resources would have to be stretched if he were to cover all the ground that he was responsible for. Turning to Feldwebel Hans Beyer he reluctantly ordered his second platoon to move east and take up positions in Le Bray itself.

No sooner had the Feldwebel and his party left than Sturmer felt the hairs on his neck go up. Surely there was movement along the hedgerow in the fields across the coat road? He moved silently to his two MMG teams. "Achtung!". He peered through the dense hedgerow that marked the edge of the Chateau grounds. Before his eyes a large American chewing an oversized cigar vaulted the hedge and then seemed to pause. Now an infantry squad was moving forward, while two machine guns were manhandled across the hedge.

Amid the ornamental gardens and shrubbery Leutnant Sturmer held his breath. The gunner next to him prepared his weapon, holding fire until the Americans were in the middle of the field "FEUR!". Two MG42s opened up on the advancing Americans. The first squad took the full force of the fire, disintegrating and seeking cover amid the furrows. The German mortars now joined in, as their light shells whistled overhead to land with a satisfying crump amid the dismayed Americans.

"Holy Shit" said Bouldermeir, "that's my only Goddam cigar ruined!". This was no way to die. Standing up amid the hail of bullets the Captain bellowed to his men, for a moment they rose, ready to do his bidding, but a further hail of lead had them scrabbling amid the French soil once again.

On the right Lieutenant Joey Gravellini rushed into the farmyard. Wrenching at the door of the farmhouse, intent on seeking cover, he was dismayed to find the house was in fact a store, and a full store at that. As the Lieutenant attempted to clear room in the building his platoon came under fire from the Germans across the road. The leading squad was scythed down amid the dirt before the lieutenant could make room for his men, some in the store, others grovelling behind it, seeking to place the building between them and their assailants.

Off to the left of Captain Bouldermeir the US second platoon was making its run for the large stone barn. The German machine gunners were enjoying what was a target rich environment, and their fire, though less death dealing than before, pinned the US troops short of their objective. Only the actions of Sergeant "Dutch" Kapp kept the men moving up to the barn.

On the American right Lieutenant Gravellini was the first Officer to die, as he directed his mens' fire into the German infantry. His platoon, by now decimated was down to one effective squad, and these were huddled behind the store house seeking cover. In the middle Captain Bouldermeir had finally succeeded in getting his machine gun teams into the next field, but only thanks to the Germans being distracted by Sergeant Kapp and his boys. The American force was being decimated whilst barely denting the German defenders.

In a crisis Captain Bouldermeir acted instinctively, he reinforced failure. His final platoon, along with one from E Company were brought forward.

There are men who are popular leaders, and there are men who are not. In the mess Lieutenant Dullard D.Twatt had never been much liked. Indeed men who hailed from his home town reported that everyone considered him the coward of the county. But war throws up the strangest heroes.

Moving swiftly up behind the large barn the Lieutenant rallied his men. "Okay boys, I ain't standing here getting' shot down like a pile of hogs. We're going in to get those Krauts. Follow me!". And with a bound he was at the head of his platoon hurling grenades into the German infantry that lined the hedge across the road. It was a fierce fight, but a brief one. Under pressure the German infantry fell back into the ornamental garden, shaken.

Less successful was Sergeant Buck Colcannon, who leading Lieutenant Twatt's second squad ran smack into a German machine gun position supported by infantry. Horrific loses saw the remnants of the squad surrender, whilst Colcannon was killed, or so it was thought. On his release from a POW camp in 1945 the big sergeant admitted that he in fact fell drunk into a ditch and awoke in captivity some hours later.

On the far right Sergeant Bat Guano was equally aggressive. Crossing the road at the rush he broke through the hedge and attacked the German positions from the flank. But Leutnant Sturmer had out-though him. Realising some while ago that the Americans were an isolated party he had recalled Feldwebel Beyer from Le Bray, and a second line now cut swathes through the American ranks. From the chateau the newly arrived MMG that had accompanies the 2nd platoon on its circuitous march now opened up on Twatt's men. The only remaining platoon under Sergeant Kapp was not strong enough to break through to the Chateau. The Americans pulled off to lick their wounds.

By the end of the battle the Germans had lost most of their units that had been defending the northern edge of the chateau. Two squads and one MMG had been effectively wiped out, only Leutnant Sturmer and his MMG team survived to withdraw to the Chateau to form a strong position there. The American forces had lost their first platoon, with the third down to one squad that was totally incapacitated by wounds. The fourth was now down to one squad and that under heavy fire and pinned by wounds. The second platoon had suffered little, but was insufficiently strong to launch an assault on its own. Captain Bouldermeir had himself been killed running back to attempt to rally a unit and keep the advance going. His death saw the end of the attack.

A victory for the Germans who risked everything by spreading themselves thinly and presented a hard crust that, had it broken at any point, would have seen the whole position fall apart. Their decision to bring their second platoon back to the chateau was done in the nick of time to allow a second line to form and stop the US break-in. It must be said that the US dice throwing on the day was absolutely abysmal. Three dice for firing would not infrequently result in 1,1,1, whereas three dice for hits would come up 6,6,6. Nevertheless they nearly made it, and were only frustrated by some excellent decisions from the German players.

This was scenario Nine of the D-Day supplement, with Bouldermeir and company standing in for Captain Joseph Dawson, Lieutenant John Spalding and Sergeant Phil Streczyk who, on D-Day, did rather better that we saw last night!

For those that are interested this scenario is a follow on from the one that appeared in the Christmas Special.

Richard Clarke

 
 
 
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They said the beach would be cratered by our bombardment. It wasn't. They said that the bombers would have blown the German defences clear off the planet. They hadn't. They said we'd be landing near a hamlet called "Les Moulins". We weren't. They said that the Krauts would be queuing up so surrender. They sure as Hell Goddam weren't!

After nearly forty eight hours at sea we were all keen to get on dry land again. But this dry land looked like a living nightmare. We were in the first wave, or so they said, but there were already guys on the beach. Some were hunkered down around the obstacles, taking what cover they could from the murderous fire that was coming down from the bluffs, others were up tight against the line of shingle, digging frantically with hands, helmets, rifle butts or anything they could use to escape the constant explosions of enemy mortar rounds amongst them.

There were a handful of tanks on the beach, but from somewhere to our left the retort of a gun, a large gun, could be heard. And with each retort another tank would explode into a ball of flame, or a landing craft would flounder, spilling its cargo of men into the water, water already red with the blood of the men who had gone before us.

The coastguard crew of the LCVP were clearly unhappy. They knew they were in the wrong place, but they weren't inclined to hang around. Some men vomited, some men prayed, the more pragmatic checked their weapons for the hundredth time in the last half hour.

The Briggs Stratton motor that controlled the ramp was running now and Sergeant "Bat" Guano at the front was calling back to the men. "Okay yous guys. Dis is it. When the ramp goes down we run, and don't stop until we hit the shingle". The craft rasped along side what appeared to be an under-water obstacle, and the Coastguard dropped the ramp. Too far out, but he was screaming at us to get the Hell out of his ship anyhow. Sergeant Guano was the first into the water, and years of training paid off. The men followed into the face of what must surely be certain death.

Wading in was the easy bit. Somehow the German gunners seemed to be concentrating on the mass of humanity that was already on dry land. As we emerged from the sea, sodden and feeling like our body mass had doubled, the living agony began. Men began to fall, some dead, some simply seeking what cover the little of obstacles and corpses could provide. Strangely a cheer went up from the men ahead of us on the beach, later I learned that one of our Shermans had put a round plumb through the front of a large bunker, silencing one of the guns in there. But that was of no consequence at the time.

Medics were now moving amongst the bodies, their presence seemed to calm some of the men. "Okay you dummies. I didn't come all the way from Goddam Brooklyn just to be shot in the ass on dis piece o'sand. When I give the word yous git movin'!" It was Guano again. Amidst the chaos it seemed that only he had kept his head. Sure as Hell the Lieutenant was nowhere to be seen.

"Go!". We ran as fast as we could. With every step our sodden feet plunged into the soft sand, making each yard feel like a mile. Men went down, but other came on. On, on to the shingle, where some respite from the bullets, at least, could be found.

"Sergeant, duh you have any explosive charges with you?". This was an officer, not one I knew. On his helmet was the markings of the 116th Regiment, the Blue & Gray, a Virginian by his accent. With him were three Engineers who were sitting aimlessly on the shingle bank. "Sure do, sir" replied Guano, and our five man Engineering detachment that had cleared the beach without loss – Lord alone knows how –moved furtively down towards this group. Now it seemed that there were two men who were keeping their heads.

Later I learned that the officer was a Lt Colonel "Hardcore" Bouldermeir, a deputy Regimental commander no less. Then he was just a man who seemed to be capable of leading us somewhere off this God forsaken beach. With German shells exploding all around us the Colonel formed us into impromptu sections while the Engineers worked with their explosives. Off to our right a blast and a cheer signified the first breach in the German wire at the top of the shingle, we were only moments behind.

"Fire in the Hole!", and then a blast that showered is with grit and sand. But the breach was made. The Colonel stood tall, seemingly impervious to the bullets that flew around him. "There are two sorts of men on this beach" he cried, "Those who are homosexuals and those who will become homosexuals. As for me I'm getting out of here" (thanks for that quote Nick! Some people can't stick to a script…sigh). And through the breach we went, following a man who most of us had never seen before, the Big Red One and the Blue and the Gray mixed into a murky purple of disparate units, men responding to strong leadership in a crisis.

Amid the dunes the remains of some Frenchman's holiday villa provided some small cover. If nothing else we were out of the fire from the heavy shells that were now dropping constantly on the beach. Above our heads the zip of bullets seemed somehow abstracted as we pushed forwards into a narrow valley.

I now know that off to our right some men of the 116th had breached the wire and were advancing into the teeth of fire from the position that the Germans called WN64. It may well be that their action saved us by drawing fire to the extent that our small party was able to infiltrate through onto the bluffs without opposition. When, ten minutes later, we were joined by Lieutenant "Cocoa" Cobanna and a further twenty men we knew that, whilst there was much, much more fighting to be done we had at least escaped the Hell that was Bloody Omaha beach……

Enough of that purple prose. This was the playtest of the Omaha scenario that I have written for the D-Day scenario supplement, and I was keen to see how close to the reality we could get. I wanted the beach to be a painful place to be, but I also wanted the Americans to have a chance of overcoming this through outstanding leadership. There are several bolt on mechanisms that I have used to achieve that, suffice to say that the game certainly provided the gritty painfulness that I was looking for.

Three Companies landed in the game we played, which was situated at the junction of Fox Green and Easy Red for those who know anything of the geography. On the left hand side of the table (looking in from the sea) the Germans were in WN62 with two Czech 75mm guns in bunkers overlooking the beach, four MMG positions and two 50mm mortar positions. They also had an artillery observer who had a four gun battery of 105mm guns pre-registered onto the beach. On the right of the table was WN62, a lesser position, with only one rifle squad and two 50mm mortars facing in this direction. Enfilading the beach was a Pak43 88mm gun firing from WN60, firing from an off-table position it proved a nasty addition to the German defences.

In the event of the three US companies that landed (450 men there or thereabouts) roughly a platoon infiltrated through the German positions and made it to the bluffs, their objective for the game. This replicated almost absolutely the force that was historically led by Sergeant Streczyk and supported by Lt. Spalding of G Company 16th RCT on D-Day. Historically this small force turned right and attacked WN62 from the rear, clearing the position.

Quote of the day. At one stage when the yanks were trying to organise their Engineers to breech the German wire and were suffering badly from German artillery as they crowded on the shingle, a fly landed on the beach amongst our toys. Not being a lover of flies, I squashed it. Skinner instantly quipped "Not even a fly can live on this beach!".

Richard Clarke

 
 
 
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We played the first scenario from this excellent book last night. Excellent fun, resulting in a German win: the Russians had lost all their tanks, and AT guns, and most of their infantry and the Germans still had all their tanks and about half their infantry.

The Germans were helped by a very lucky Stuka attack which took out one T-26 and left another with a burning engine. Also by the inability of the Russian gunners to hit barn doors: the KV had numerous chances to KO German tanks and fluffed them all, as did two of the AT guns.

German plan of attack was good: they managed to attack the AT guns with infantry and the infantry with armour; it took the Russians too long to rearrange things so it was the other way round.

So looks like the Germans will be trying to seize the bridge at Urk next....

Steve Burt

 
 
 
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The Ilkley Lads played the Izdeshkovo scenario from Roberts excellent Vyzama or Bust supplement last night. Our group has only played 3 games in all so we are still at the early learning stage with the rules but we are happy with the pace and the way the game plays.

The German commander – Peter – decided that his plan was to drive down the main Smolensk road clearing resistance as he went. He deployed the bulk of his forces on his left with the Hanomag Infantry only in the centre. The Russians – commanded by Tim and Dr (commissar) Ken – deployed their tanks on their right with the infantry in the central woods. The ATG guns were distributed across their front. The village on their left was only garrisoned by an MMG and the sniper.

The early Blind moves see only 2 German blinds entering the table with the first heading through the woods towards the west hill and the second reaching a small farm in the centre. The Russian player, buoyed up no doubt with a good helping of Vodka and whipped on by Commissar Ken declares a blind and move across the west hill towards the approaching Germans. The Germans are stunned as the tea break card is quickly followed by the Russian Blind (drunk) card and a Kv1 and 3 t26 spot fully loaded hanomags by the farm. They open fire and the first hanomag and goes up in flames. Hapless Germans can be seen jumping from the burning wreck. The remaining Germans, covered by the smoke of the destroyed hanomag, are llucky as wayward Russian shotting allow them to get out of sight behind the farm.

The German commander, incensed by this incident, moves on a further two blinds as a Stuka unsuccessfully targets the KV1. The Russian player spots the German blinds and the dark grey forms of tanks, well supported by Infantry, are seen looming towards the west hill. The Russian tank commander orders his tanks to fire and retire in face of the German attack. Peter orders his Panzers forward and taking up a hull down position at the top of the hill sends round after round in the fleeing Russian tanks. A Stuka again attacks the KV1 which this time erupts into flames. Within minutes all 4 Russian AFV are destroyed and the hill overrun by German Infantry who easily take out a hidden Russian AT gun. Commissar Ken seeing the writing on the wall decides that he has an urgent appointment with a female NKVD telephone operator and leaves the field.

With the Russian right destroyed the battle shifts to the centre. The 2 remaining Hanomags have been supported by 2 further blinds and now advance towards the central woods. The bark of a Russian AT gun can be heard as it fires ineffectively at the leading hanomag which slews around in the mud as its passengers quickly jump out and hit the mud. The Second Hanomag, with its engine racing, darts forward to the shelter of the small central hill before its passengers, with alacrity, go to ground.

A German captain scans the central woods with his binoculars looking for movement and quickly spots what looks like a full platoon of Ivans in the woods. He orders his troops to open fire supported by the hanomags MGs. Using the rapid deployment card he orders forward his supporting blind, containing the support weapons, to occupy the hill. On the next Blind card he drops his 3 MMGs and they rake the central wood with a hail of bullets bringing death and destruction on the hapless Soviet Infantry. The Russian Platoon CO decides that with 3 of his 4 sections already taking hits that its shit or bust time and yelling, with a Yorkshire accent, `Death to the Fascist scum' launches a desperate charge on the MMG line. Although outnumbered the Russian Section reaches the mgs but in the ensuing fight they are forced back as the Russian Leader dies of his wounds.

With the failure of this attack the remaining Russian infantry in the wood quickly melt away as German Panzers advance down the road towards the river crossing and victory.

A good game with the early rounds going to the Russian but with the quality of the German troops finally telling. So unlike Kevs game the German win the opening game so its off to Urk next week.

Ilkley Mark

 
 
 
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Well my fat oaf-like chum is correct (from the French "oeuf" probably), the first scenario from Viagra or Bust was wheeled out on Lard Island, and jolly times were had by all. All the Soviets that is.

Mr T, former Pool Tax bandit and hunt saboteur (National Hunt unfortunately, the stewards at Kempton Park haven't quite got over it!) was a natural for the evil Commies, and he deployed his troops with all the cunning of a Traffic Warden.

I cannot say too much, as I wouldn't want to spoil things for the chaps who have yet to play this game, but suffice to say that the German plan of attacking all across the front was enough to ensure that they hit every Soviet ambush going. Indeed, "Osama bin Biffo's" Germans seemed keen to die as martyrs at every opportunity.

Highlights of the game. Nick advanced one of his tanks into a gap between two buildings to avoid one of Mr T's AT guns. The building model that he was hid behind was a particularly ramshackle old Russian peasant hut, and Mr T asked, "can I fire through the building into the tank". Well, he had clearly seen Nick's tank move up, so I said "Yes, but you'll need a 12 to hit". Well, it's fairly obvious what happened next, double six. Straight through Mrs Petroshenko's Samovar and into the side armour of the tank. Fortunately for Nick, the Samovar seemed to have taken the worst of the round, as it failed to penetrate!

Secondly the classic line from Nick as Biffo was about to charge into yet another close assault "Herr Hauptmann, we could try using these. When you pull the trigger it goes brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr."

Good fun, a Soviet victory albeit Pyhrric thanks to Biffo's dogged refusal to let go of his opponent. Looking forward to the next game which, unfortunately, will be after my hols.

Thanks to Robert for a really superb supplement.

Richard Clarke

 
 
 
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One of the key casus belli of the Second World War was Nazi Germany's problem with the Polish Corridor: the strip of land that separated East Prussia from the rest of the Fatherland. When the Germans invaded, therefore, one of their key objectives was to drive across the Corridor and link the two German armies deployed on either side. This would also isolate the Polish "Pomorze" army, stationed around Gdynia.

This scenario, taken from my The September War, Part One scenario pack for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! would represent one of the many encounters that took place between the Poles and the German 2nd Army and 19th Panzer Corps as part of this section of the campaign in an area known as the Tuchole Forest. The game would be a battle for territory:  with three objectives on the  8' by 5' table and points scored (after the third appearance of the Turn Card) for possession: one point per objective per turn held.

 The second set of Polish trenches were around the other corner of the table

The second set of Polish trenches were around the other corner of the table

The Poles

The Poles were on 'home ground' and would therefore start the game with a single infantry platoon on table and already in possession of an objective (the part-concealed objective in the picture above). The platoon was well dug-in, and was supported by two anti-tank guns and a taczanka (MMG on a purpose-built cart).

At the other end of the table were two on-table 81mm mortars and another taczanka but, more importantly, another full infantry platoon and a half-strength KOP platoon (border guards) waited just off table and would arrive within the first few turns.

The Poles also had more mortars off-table, controlled by an FOO attached to their main body.

The Polish plan was to hold onto the objective they already possessed (the part-concealed objective in the picture above); ignore the objective in the middle of the table;  but sprint their two reinforcement platoons forward as soon as they arrived to capture and then hold the final objective opposite where their mortars were emplaced. Their rationale was simple: hold the third objective - the one out in the open - for long enough to rack up enough points to win the game, even if it did mean taking lots of casualties.

The Germans

The Germans would start the game around one corner of the table. They began the game with two full platoons of infantry on table, supported by an MMG attached to each platoon, and a platoon of five Panzer I tanks. Waiting to come onto the table was another platoon of infantry, a platoon of three Panzer III tanks, and a heavy armoured car platoon of two SdKfz 231 and two SdKfz 232 armoured cars.

The Germans would thus just about outnumber the Poles: although each side had about the same numbers of infantry and MMGs, in support the Germans had eight tanks and four armoured cars versus the Poles' three anti-tank guns and two anti-tank rifles.

The Germans also had off-table artillery, and would benefit from air support from Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers.

I used my Gebergsjaeger for the Germans

As the Germans had no idea where the Poles were, only where the objectives were, their plan was to start the game by advancing cautiously towards the first two objectives, with a platoon of infantry moving towards each, with the Panzer Is supporting the platoon aiming towards the objective in front of them on the other side of the table (the one already held by the Poles).

Once the situation around those two objectives was resolved, all available troops, including any reinforcements, would head for and capture the third objective.

The Action

The action began with the Germans, under John, steaming their way towards the two objectives nearest their start point. The objective in the centre of the table was easily taken, with a platoon of infantry effectively then sitting on it for the rest of the game.

The objective opposite the German start point, however, was a very different matter. As German Blinds moved towards it, the Poles, under Dave, spotted another infantry platoon and the platoon of Panzer Is, and opened fire with everything they had.

Just before the Poles opened fire

The German infantry platoon quickly ducked into nearby woods, and would spend the rest of the game under cover in the centre of said woods acting as a blocking force should the Poles try to move forward from their trenches. The only problem was that the Polish of-table mortars soon had their position ranged in, so the German infantry platoon also spent the rest of the game being Pinned and gradually whittled down!

Meanwhile, the German light tanks pictured above, now without any infantry support, continued their assault on the Polish trenches in front of them...with predictable results.

"We shall not, we shall not be moved!"

The Poles had two anti-tank guns, a taczanka, and an anti-tank rifle that could punch holes in the Panzer Is, so before long, and despite some great armour saves, all five light tanks were all either destroyed or abandoned by their crews.

Change of Focus

With the first two objectives now firmly held, one by each side, the focus of the game changed to who could get to and possess, and start earning points from, the final objective first.

Both sides had by now received reinforcements: with the Germans sending their three Panzer IIIs and their third infantry platoon across the length of the table towards the final objective.

The Poles were technically closer, but it seems that their troops had heard about the plan to sacrifice their lives in exchange for game-winning points, and weren't at all keen on being used in that way. The Polish reinforcements stubbornly remained off table for a good few turns, and then moved really slowly towards the open ground around the objective and now firmly under German guns.

The final objective was now under German guns

For a moment it looked as if neither side was going to leave the safety of their works/the woods and go for the objective...but the Poles had a plan and stuck to it. With a final surge, their KOP platoon charged forward and "took" the objective, then prepared to hang on grimly and be shot down where they stood.

And this is precisely what happened.

After a brief interruption whilst John and Dave left and Bevan (Germans) and I (the Poles) took over, the Germans proceeded to hammer the Polish KOP infantry. The Poles, however, had managed to shift an anti-tank gun and a taczanka across the table from one set of trenches to the other, and whilst not giving as good as they got, were doing all they could to hammer the Germans right back again.

German air support caused some problems for the Poles

The KOP infantry were eventually dispersed, but by this time the Poles had built up a three-point advantage. Now desperate, the Germans left the cover of the woods and tried to take the objective themselves. This they did, but then suffered the same fate as the KOP. Two of their three Panzer IIIs were destroyed, and their infantry battered, and the end of the game was approaching fast.

German tanks take the third objective, but the Poles have two anti-tank guns pointed their way...

Endgame

Brief excitement then took place on the other side of the field again, as the final German reinforcements arrived: four heavy armoured cars that promptly moved towards the first Polish position.

Equally promptly, however, the Poles now transferred an anti-tank gun back towards their original position, arriving just in time to blow the lead armoured car to pieces. The others quickly took cover (mainly behind wrecked German Panzer Is!) and it looked as if another war of attrition was about to begin.

That was it, however, in terms of time, with the final score being 8 points to the Poles and 6 points to the Germans: a Polish victory meaning that more of the "Pomorze" army stationed around Gdynia would get away and be available for our next game, Scenario #8 in the campaign.

Conclusion

Quite a different game from our usual head-to-head smash ups!

The length of the table really helped to separate the battle into two halves, with part of the Poles' success being down to their ability to transfer assets between their two positions (despite the fact that it was the Germans who had greater numbers and geographically had the internal lines).

The main reason for their victory was, I think, really down to a focus on what they needed to do to win the game i.e. earn points, not just kill Germans. They recognised that they could probably only ever get to, and only ever needed to get to, two of the three objectives, and came up with a plan that concentrated their resources on doing just that. Add in a willingness to sacrifice the KOP infantry platoon for the greater good, and the win was their's.

The slopes were disappointingly clear of snow!

Likewise, it could be argued that the Germans tried to do too much with the forces and positions that they had i.e. they went for all three objectives rather than the two that they actually needed. Add into that a couple of minor tactical errors (light tanks unsupported by infantry charging across open ground towards dug-in anti-tanks guns; using a whole platoon to cover the objective nearest their start point when, considering the situation, a single squad would have done the job just as well) and their fate was sealed.

Imagine, for example, if they had left one platoon on that nearest objective  and then sent two platoons of infantry supported by the five Panzer Is and three Panzer IIIs towards the objective at the other end of the table. Would the original Poles have left their trenches and had a go? I don't think so - the odds were against them succeeding - but it would have made for a very different game. But then Captain Hindsight wins every battle, and the Germans were probing forward into unknown territory...

A great game well-played by both sides in good spirit. Right: on to set up Scenario #8!

Robert Avery

 

 
 
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Hi! I'm Lieutenant Troy McClure.

You may remember me from such wartime epics as "Timmy the Talking Tiger Tank" and "Neville Chamberlain – the Heroin Years". But you know, shooting Nazis and saving western civilisation isn't all fun and hoopla. Oh no, I remember a time when a few crazy guys with a hankerin' for justice and a kitbag full of nude Betty Grable photos found ourselves in one whole heap of trouble.

The date was June 1944; the place – France, England near Paris; the time - wuppin' time for Jerry. We'd had a bellyful of Herr Hitler and his twisted doubletalk and we reckoned we were goin' to put things straight once and for all. As part of Howell Force we had come ashore through the hell of Utah beach. Colonel Edson D Raff, affectionately known to us men as Colonel Raff or Colonel or just plain Sir, had given us a job to do. That job was to secure Landing Zone "W" for our wacky glider boys; it turned out to be a job we would never forget.

My Sergeant was pug faced, ex-bartender and pole dancer by the name of Moe Szyslak. Helping out our European friends lay kinda heavy with a man who'd once mistakenly bought a Johnny Halliday LP at a yard sale in Pittsburgh. "Jeez Lootenant" he would say to me. "I can't believe we're bustin' our guts for these cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys." "Justice recognises no borders in this Soldier's book, Sergeant" I replied and lit up a Laramie cigarette. I knew that if our purpose was as pure and as true as that rich tobacco flavour we would inevitably triumph.

I took up point on the Recon platoon in one of our three Greyhounds. Six Jeeps followed on, three with MMG's and three with 60mm mortars. Two Shermans backed us up and a platoon of GI's under one Lieutenant Robert Terwilliger covered our right flank. Terwilliger was a bookish type with a curl of disdain forever on his over-educated lip. Whether he hailed from Harvard or Yale I don't recall but what I do remember is what he looked like. A nose as sharp as an ice pick, hair as wild as a communist's wardrobe and, as we later discovered, a yellow streak down his back as broad as the Mississippi. We were expecting trouble and trouble lay just up ahead in the corner of a field of rutabagas.

An 88mm AT started poppin' firecrackers at the Shermans and then at us in Recon. One of our Greyhounds was hit and hit bad. I'll never forget the screams of those poor guys. As you can guess, that made me madder than a Democrat without a deficit and leaving our mortar boys to deploy on the safe side of the hedge I led the rest of us lickety-split towards the 88. When we got within spittin' distance they threw up their hands and we discovered that they weren't Germans at all, they were Georgians! "Dirty Rebels" screamed Sgt. Moe and squeezed the trigger of his MMG. We all joined in and after what seemed like an eternity the last of them fell.

We pumped round after round into their mangled twitching corpses until the bullet cases piled high like gory molehills of death – how we laughed. Then suddenly out of the sky came a glorious sight, a sight to gladden the heart of every American patriot. The first wave of three Waco gliders landed right on the button in that very same field and Lieutenants Wiggum C. and Skinner S., whoopin' and a-hollerin', disembarked with three sections of brave GI's. But how-de-do's would have to wait, for as the Laramies were passed around (Ah, that smooth, smooth taste) we heard a whole load o' shootin' in the middle distance. Things had turned out bad for Platoon One.

The Shermans had gone off in support of Terwilliger's men who were being picked off by a dirty no-good kraut sniper. The infantry pushed on up by the hedges as best they could until they came to a broad open hayfield. I guess it would've looked just about perfect to a glider pilot a couple o' hundred feet up. As their Lieutenant cried, "Onward, you fellows!" the leading two sections pushed through the hedgerow and raced into the open ground – and into eternal glory.

For it was then that an entire platoon of German Georgians (or Georgian Germans – I never could work it out) and their machine gun squad opened up, wiping out one of our sections to the very last man. Well, not quite the last, for that dog Terwilliger had not followed his men across the hedge and lay cowering behind a briar patch as the brave boys who had put their trust in him were falling and dying in that bloody hayfield. And if that wasn't enough, cruel Fate was to deal one more Dead Man's Hand. Those cookie flyboys in the second wave must have spotted that self same field and dropped their Birds right into that pit of hell, that maelstrom of slaughter.

Oh, the humanity!

Two gliders landed almost on top of the enemy, another across to the left, few of the occupants would survive. Some of the more unfortunate were not killed but led away as prisoners. What torments would they have to suffer? What anguishes would they endure? What kind of unspeakable foreign food would they be forced to eat? I try not to think about it - even now. But we had no time to grieve, for there was God's killing to be done and righteous vengeance to be taken. I don't remember much more about that terrible day. Seymour Skinner bought it in the final assault and Terwilliger was strechered back to HQ with both of his arms and legs broken in several places after Sgt. Szyslak's jeep had accidentally backed over him several times.

We had fulfilled our mission, but at what cost? To calm my nerves I lit another Laramie cigarette and as the finest Virginia leaf worked its mellow magic I thought about what a crazy mixed up world we live in. Those old, old questions still gnawed at me. When would we finally live in peace and harmony as the Lord God intended? How could truth and justice conquer such evil and villainy? Did we really have to continue with this senseless slaughter of our fellow man?

Yup, we did and the 82nd Airborne were just the guys to do it.

This report has been brought to you by Durham Wargames Group where "Wor games are wargames!"

Durham Wargames Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Laramie Tobacco Inc.

Captain Quincy