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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 At this point, however, the retreating Germans were re-inforced by the 4th Panzer Division, which had been withdrawn from the fighting in the outskirts of Warsaw, and launched a counter-attack of their own against the advancing Poles.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

 
 
 
 
 

The fresh snow crunched audibly as it compacted beneath the boot of Oberfuhrer Edgar Puaud as he picked his way through the trees. Ahead of him, some fifty metres east of the railway station, he could see Obersturmfuhrer Serge Krotoff unlimbering his massive 88mm anti-tank guns and laying them with some considerable care.

It was fortunate for the Frenchmen that Barenwalde had a brewery; that could be relied upon to halt the Soviet advance temporarily. Not to mention the convent. A staunch Roman Catholic Puaud shuddered. His eyes scanned the railway embankment and the men there who were digging in before the attack they knew must come. He had done all he could to reinforce this position, bringing forward the battalion's mortars, all three of them, and a couple of short 75mm infantry guns to add what little weight they could to the defences. With the remnants of yesterday's battle at Barkenfelde he now had two under-strength Companies of infantry to hold the line.

Walking westwards he wondered once again if he should not occupy the small station buildings. No. He'd been right, it was too obvious a target for every Soviet tanker that would trundle up the road. Far better to deploy a platoon of infantry forward in the woods on the western side of the road. Ample supplies of panzerfausts would hopefully allow them to dominate the approach to the level crossing.

A cry broke the silence, "Monsieur General, les Sovietiques!". Puaud turned to look southwards toward Barenwalde. Sure enough a phalanx of T34s were moving out to the west, behind them the ant- like forms of the Soviet riflemen were scurrying across into the woods. "Tres bon", they would get a nasty shock in there! Puaud switched the safety catch on his MP40; he was a soldiers soldier, ready to fight and die to save Europe from anarchy.

CRASH! The retort of the Pak 43 tore the air apart, violating the stillness of the crisp winter morning. CRASH! Moments later the second gun added its voice as though in harmony with its sister.

From the turret of his T34 85 Starshy Leytenant Vladimir Lebed frantically signalled to the two platoons of tanks around him. The realisation that his efforts were wasted due to the smoke and flames from the burning hulks that surrounded him did nothing to lessen his frantic gesticulations. Looking round he saw the supporting infantry rushing from tree to tree on his left. To his right, just for a split second, he noticed the 88mm shell as it approached his turret at 1130 metres per second. His surprise was short-lived; death was instantaneous.

The ability of birds to sing amidst the fiercest of battles always surprised Dmitri Popov. As one T34 after another exploded in rapid succession the young Leytenant advanced though the woods to the west of the road at the head of his platoon. Just ahead of him the stammering of a machine pistol announced his closeness to an enemy position. He did not hesitate. "Uhraaaaah!". With what appeared to be a single bound the group of brown-clad men surged forward.

For Obersturmfuhrer Charles Géromini the on-coming mob appeared as a tidal wave. Even a full magazine from his MP40 was insufficient to stay their advance. With his squad at his heels he turned and ran for the main platoon lines. One man fell wounded, a man he had served with back in 1940, but there was no thought of stopping to assist him. Flight was the only option.

Serzhent Oleg Romantsev swigged from his looted bottle of Crème du Menthe and shouted encouragement to his driver as the T34 lurched across the open field to the east of Barenwalde. Ahead he could clearly see the two German anti-tank guns behind the railway embankment that were still firing into the maelstrom of burning tanks to the west of the village. His platoon followed him, all intent on the destruction of their potential nemesis. Slowly the massive barrels were swinging towards them…..

Leytenant Popov ran on through the fir trees. Ahead he could clearly see the small group of fleeing Germans drop out of sight as though they had magically disappeared. Now he heard a cry just off to his left. French. Why were the Germans speaking French? It was the last thought that Dmitri Popov had, as the woods ahead lit up with muzzle flashes and the ripping retort of an MG42 provided the full-stop at the end of his existence.

Oleg Romantsev was not keen on Crème du Menthe, but it was an 88mm shell and not liver damage that killed him. Yefreitor Alexandre Polshidalov's T34 managed to reach the railway embankment and was about to commence firing into the gun pits, but Obersturmfuhrer Michel Saint-Magne had been waiting for the moment when the lumbering behemoth came to a halt. A Panzerfaust ended the final hurrah of the Soviet first wave. From the clocktower of the convent in Barenwalde Kapitan Mikhail Noddinski turned to his Commissar, Vlad Biffovitch, "Artillery. Then we attack again".

Oberfuhrer Edgar Puaud moved amongst his men, offering encouragement and praise. He had good reason to be happy; the first Soviet attack had been beaten off with insignificant casualties amongst his men. Serge Krotoff was limbering up his 88mm guns, ready to change position before the next attack began. Charles Géromini was issuing fresh ammunition to his men in the woods and on the embankment the bulk of the Frenchmen sat and smoked, having not fired a shot thus far. All knew that this could only be the lull before the storm.

What a storm. Or, more correctly, an ill wind. Unremarkable in every respect but one, the Soviet barrage swept across the woods and the embankment causing minimal damage amongst the French infantry. But fate plays its part in every battle, and for Serge Krotoff two direct hits on his 88mm guns destroyed the shield which had so successfully protected the men of Charlemagne. Nervous glances to the south now replaced the optimism of minutes before.

On came the Soviet second wave. Onwards as one came the three platoons of T34-85s, now only threatened by the puny 75mm infantry guns. Standing off so as to avoid panzerfausts, the Soviets turned their fire on the defenders with impunity. For Edgar Puaud, veteran of Verdun and of the Foreign Legion, the situation was clear. Further bloodshed here would serve no purpose. With a shrug he turned northwards.

A small rearguard would serve to cover the retreat, buying just enough time for the Frenchmen to withdraw through the woods. Was there no stopping the Soviet juggernaut?

An interesting second game in the Charlemagne mini-campaign from the Christmas Special last year. The French really gave the Soviets a bloody nose in round one, but were astoundingly unlucky to lose all their real AT capability in one barrage. What makes this more astounding is that was exactly what happened in reality during the actual battle.

The Soviets attack with successive waves of three tank platoons and three infantry platoons in this scenario. Each wave can be called off at any time by the Soviet player, is removed from the table and a fresh wave then arrives after an artillery barrage. Noddy and Biff played the Sovs, and enjoyed the lack of concern they were able to have for casualties. BA and Tricky were the Charlemagne boys who clearly experienced great highs of success followed by the lows of terrible realisation when their 88s got stuffed. All in all a most interesting game. I'm looking forward to scenario three with "Barbeque Bill".

Rich Clarke

 
 
 
charlie1.png
 
 

"Sacre bleu!" Serge Krotoff cursed under his breath as the staccato retort of an MG34 reached him through the clear February air, "les Sovietiques!". They had arrived too soon. Looking back down narrow Pomeranian farm road the Obersturmfuhrer cast his eye over the half a dozen anti-tank guns that should already be in Barkenfelde. He signalled to his driver to pull over to allow the huge 88mm guns to take the lead, followed by the smaller, but still deadly, Pak40s. If they could make the crossroads by the brewery before the Reds then they could still form a Pak-front and try to stop the enemy there.

In Barkenfelde Hauptsturmfuhrer Rene-Andre Obitz looked southwards in horror. A veteran of the eastern front – he had fought with the Legion Voluntaires Francais since 1941 - he was used to the sheer mass of a Soviet advance, but this was different. Only one company of his battalion were in position and the promised anti-tank guns had not arrived. His men had only a thin ration of panzerfausts with which to confront the Soviet armour that was now advancing from the south, bristling with the small figures of what he knew would be he tough sub-machine gun armed troops who would spearhead any attack.

"Ou est la plume de ma tante?" He called for his adjutant to bring forward the pen his aunt had given to him in the heady days when the LVF lay before the gates of Moscow. With no telephone system in place a hand-written note would have to suffice to warn headquarters of the Soviet present. Carefully he formed the letters, "la giraffe est très grande, le pingouin est très petite", it was a simplistic code but would have to suffice.

As he wrote the tearing sound of an MG42 broke to clear silence on this frosty day. In the chateau two nervous gunners opened fire, attempting to sweep the tank riders from their mounts. Obitz spat, fools! The range was too long. Only moments were required before the retort of several 85mm guns boomed across the flat, snow-strewn landscape, with an almost instantaneous explosion as their shells hit the target with an accuracy that was proven by the desultory fire that now came from what Obitz had hoped would be a strongpoint of resistance.

From his position at the southernmost farm in Barkenfelde Rottenfuhrer Thiery Chirac's palms were clammy despite the cold. Again he checked his panzerfaust as he squatted behind the neat garden wall. He could hear the cries of the Soviet tank riders – drunk, as always. This would be a close call. To fire too early would be to waste the two anti-tank weapons that his squad desperately needed to score an early victory that might buy some time. Too fire too late….with the Soviets only yards away, that would be certain death. Chirac did not want to die; his dreams of a centre-stage role in a united Europe were too strong. He nodded to the Sturmmann at his side. Two projectiles shot forward towards the leading Soviet tanks, for a moment he could hear the cries of the tank riders as they leapt down, but Chirac was not waiting to see if the `fausts hit home or not, "Vite!" he cried, and scampered back with his squad northwards through the warren of farm tracks.

Yefreitor Ivan Putinovsky leapt from the T34-85. his SMG firmly in his grasp despite the vodka he had consumed. The laughing would stop now, Fritz was putting up a fight. The two projectiles swept high above the tank before dipping to explode on the banks of the swirling icy brook that ran parallel to the road. Ivan motioned to his men and ran forward into the farm cottage where he was certain that the shots had come from. He kicked the door in, his machine gun spitting death, but the tiny dwelling was empty. Still, that clock on the mantelpiece would look good in his home near Tomsk. Was there anything else worth taking?

Starshy Leytenant Igor Blimie frantically signalled with his flags from the turret of his T34-85. His first platoon was to advance line abreast up the main road, supported by his second platoon. The third platoon of tanks was to swing out to the left to attempt to cross the frozen fields and enter the village from the west. Any delay would see him in trouble with his superiors. Igor knew all too well the price of failure in the Soviet Union.

Serge Krotoff was now riding with the lead Pak43. As they crossed the field to the north side of the brewery the veteran of SS Sturmbrigade Frankreich signalled to Oberscharfuhrer Johnny Halliday to deploy his Pak 40's across the main road north. Krotoff was moving his 88's round to cover the western entrance to the village. The stream that rand on the eastern side of the main road was only narrow, but it was fast moving and deep. He could rely on this to stop any Soviet armour crossing. So now he had his Pak-front, covering the only two entrances to the village. It wasn't ideal, the guns had no cover other than what snow they could scrape to form an impromptu breastwork, but at least they were in position.

Igor Blimie was nervous. He knew exactly what desperate Germans could achieve with their anti-tank weapons. His tanks stood, scanning the small village before them, and his tank riders dismounted and ran forward. "Clear those buildings" he called to Mladshy Leytenant Yevgeny Primakov as the young officer ran forward with his men.

Oberscharfuhrer Lucienne Hennecart watched as Rottenfuhrer Chirac ran back past his position. "Courgage, mes braves" he hissed. He could see the advancing Soviet infantry now, hot on the heels of Chirac. Some had entered the small farm cottage that neighboured the farm he was holed up in, but they were clearly busy inside. Loot probably, the civilian population had been moved out yesterday to Hammerstein. But now a fresh wave was coming on. "Attente, attente" he steadied his men until the Soviets were within yards, and then a cacophony of sound greeted the Slavic looking men in brown, the front rank went down, but more came on. Frantic hands sought to throw grenades into the small outbuildings that Hennecart's men were holding, here and there Frenchmen went down whilst more Soviets came up to take the place of the dieing and dead.

The sound of the 88mm gun was the first warning that the crew of the T34 had of the enemy's presence in the garden of the cottage to the western side of the village. Not that they could do anything about it, as the shell tore through the frontal armour of their tank and exploded amongst them, throwing the turret twenty yards clear of the blazing wreck. Death was instantaneous. A second retort, then a third. In seconds two Soviet tanks were blazing. In a panic Starshina Boris Yeltsin swung his tack to the right and headed in towards the village – anything to get away from those monstrous guns. The other remaining tank in his platoon followed him with similar thoughts.

Lucienne Hennecart looked round. Two men left from his squad, and the Soviets were coming back for round three. He looked for a line of retreat, but two Soviet tanks were racing in from the west, across the field to cut off his line of retreat. Seizing a panzerfaust he dropped to one knee, oblivious to the cries from his left as the Soviet SMG troops came on, cutting down his lat two men. At a range of less than fifteen yards Lucienne fired the panzerfaust, striking the side of Starshina Yeltsin's tank. The explosion knocked the Frenchman from his feet, just in time to him to see a Russian jackboot come crashing down onto his head. Whether he heard the shots from the PPSH that ended his life is questionable.

Igor Blimie waved his flag with gusto. On went his tanks, now confident of sweeping Fritz before them. Amid the tanks more dismounted SMG troops ran forward, keeping apace with the advance.

Oberscharfuhrer Johnny Halliday looked down the sighting mechanism of the Pak 40 at the looming shape of the T35. He sang quietly to himself, "Souvenirs, souvenirs" but what memories he was conjuring up none around him could be sure – perhaps his time in the Milice in Nice. "CRASH", Halliday's gun opened fire, prompting the rest of the gunners to do likewise. Two T34s were hit in the first tirade of fire, both damaged, both still fighting.

Shots were traded now, tank gunner against anti-tank gunner. Blimie, hesitant before, was invigorated as the adrenalin of battle course through his veigns. "Davai, davai" he yelled, and the tanks rolled forward.

In the centre of the village was the farm Barkenfelde, after which the settlement had been named some four hundred years previously when the Germans came to the area. Its large imposing farmhouse and extensive outbuildings were now a strongpoint of German resistance. Rottenfuhrer Chirac had sought sanctuary here when he withdrew from his outlying position early in the fight. With two MMGs mounted in the upstairs windows he felt confident enough to stand his men down for a smoke break. But Yevgeny Primakov was no respecter of breaks.

The one remaining T34 from the third platoon had now moved forward through the smoke that billowed from Yeltsin's tank. It pumped round after round into the large Germanic farmhouse, seeming to spit hate at such a symbol of German dominance that had come with the Teutonic Knights. Under the cover of the smoke Primakov looked around. Ahead of him Yefreitor Putinovsky was crouched in the farmyard (complete with a large clock and what appeared to be a sink, complete with taps), to his left another squad was moving up through the field. "Comrades, for Mother Russia, follow me. Uhraaaah!". The cry was taken up by twenty mouths, and then more. A wave of humanity, smelling strongly of cheap tobacco, swept forward.

In the manor house, on the far side of the stream, a German squad lay in wait as the T34s advanced past them into the heart of the village. They could see now that one Pak 40 had been knocked out in the churchyard, but more were still firing from the far side. The one remaining MMG that had lain silent since the long range exchange of shots was ended by several well placed 85mm shells early in the battle now opened up, pinning down the Soviet infantry that were following the tanks forward. A burly NCO stepped up, nonchalantly chewing on a sausage before discarding it and firing his panzerfaust across the stream. "Merde!" he cursed as it missed its target. Seizing another he tried again, but this was not his day. Another miss.

In the farmhouse Chirac was alerted to the fresh threat by the cries of the machine-gunners as they frantically sought to hold back the Red tide that was now seeking to engulf them. Rushing into the farmhouse he was just in time to see a large Soviet junior officer break in through the front door and fire his SMG upwards through the wooden first floor. The cries of the MG42 crews above left Chirac in no doubt as to their fate. The Rottenfuhrer slipped back into the courtyard and signalled swiftly to his men to retire. The brewery would now be the last line of defence.

Panic now swept through the ranks of the French anti-tank gunners under Halliday. No amount of singing could help them now, and shot after shot missed their target as the advancing tanks came on. Men who had fought for four years "contre les bolshevisme" now saw their nemesis before them.

Serge Krotoff had not allowed his early successes to lull him into a false sense of security. He had called forward a prime mover and dragged one of his 88's forward to face the oncoming Soviet second tank platoon. Again his gun had sent the crew of more tanks to whatever Godless Valhalla Soviet warriors aspire to. The western edges of the village were secure again, as tankers edged back into the covering smoke.

On Krotoff's left Scharfuhrer Jacques de Villepan had watched from a row of cottages as the Barkenfelde farmhouse had been taken by the Reds. Now he unleashed a torrent of fire into the building. He knew that Unterscharfuhrer Aznavour still held the main barn in the farmyard, and that a counter-attack could restore the line.

Putinovsky was shocked by the sheer volume of fire that now seemed to shake the elderly farmhouse. Plaster fell about him as the walls seemed to disintegrate under the punches of hundreds of unseen giants. Around him men turned to jelly, all fight drained from them. And now a diminutive SS man was leading a counter-attack, his squad sweeping into, guns chattering their deathly song. But Putiniovsky was not done yet. Thrusting one arm into the slot where a shattered beam would normally secure the sturdy oak door, the Soviet officer used the other to hurl grenades into the oncoming SS men. His men rallied around him.

All war is terrible, but this fight between the short French Unterscharfuhrer and the giant of a Soviet Junior Lieutenant was Hell itself. His arm crushed and broken the Russian still secured the door, his men falling around him the Frenchman hacked and lunged, gouged and bit his way into the farmhouse until, finally, the Soviet hero was overcome. The victory was as phyrric as it was short-lived. The next wave of Soviet infantry swept in, overrunning the exhausted Frenchmen with ease. "Adieu Cherie" were Aznavour's last words as he fell to the bayonet of a Siberian rifleman.

And now the first of the Soviet tanks was in amongst the Pak 40's, crushing first one then another beneath its tracks. Halliday rallied his last crew temporarily, destroying another T34 at a range of less than six foot, before being killed as a tank exploded as a panzerfaust crashed into it from the brewery.

Rene-Andre Obitz wept as the inevitability of his position was clear. Krotoff was already limbering up his two remaining 88's, and de Villpan would stay in position for just long enough to cover the retreat. But now Soviet trucks were unloading their fresh troops, ready to sweep through the village. To linger would invite death. SS Charlemagne had been bloodied, and some would say defeated. But the burning hulks of a dozen T34-85s told a story of desperate heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. And tomorrow they would fight again.

A great fun game last night on Lard Island, it was the first of the three scenarios in the 2006 Festive Sack Full that cover the fighting in Pomerania at the end of February in 1945. It is actually a huge scenario, with three Soviet tank platoons, each with a supporting platoon of tank riders, supported by three more rifle platoons in trucks. On the German side the original scenario calls for three platoons at the start of the game with six anti tank guns and two more platoons as reinforcements. As this was an evening game with only a couple of hours play I reduced the Soviet truck mounted infantry to just two platoons, and the German reinforcements were reduced by a platoon. Nevertheless it was a big (BIG!) game and we were very pleased to get a clear result by the end.

Tricky and BA played the French with gallic flair and aplomb. Noddy and Marvin played the Soviets. Noddy is actually ideal as a Soviet player, not only does he reside in a hut, smell of cheap tobacco and live off watery vegetable stew, he also knows the power of SMG troops and is not afraid of using them as a large sledgehammer. Which is exactly the right way to use them if you have numerical advantage.

In the event they tore into the French defenders and inflicted terrible losses. By the end of the game the Soviet armour had been torn to bits by a combination of panzerfausts and anti-tank fire, but it was the Soviet dominance in infantry, and their clear readiness to use them aggressively that meant that the French had to abandon what slim toe-hold they had left in the village.

Richard Clarke

 
 
 
 
 

A small table game, just 2'6" by 6' (17.6528cm x 11m for the great unwashed),  last evening on Lard Island. Inspired by El Tel's talk of streetfighting I have been dabbling a bit with Berlin 1945 for a while now, and wanted to roll out a scenario with some of the flavour of that "End Game" battle.

On the German side, as alluded to the other day, the Doc had a platoon of Volksturm under their decrepit Zugfuhrer Willi Niederstanner, along side a Wehrmacht platoon under the joint leadership of Leutnant Oscar Pimpfe and old favourite Kurt Adler. In support they had an old Pak 36 with half a dozen Stielgrenate and two Panther of the Muncheberg Division, one of which had a green crew, the other an elite one under former parachutist turned tanker Jannke Lott.

Their job was to defend the Lard Strasse Haupt-Bahnhof, a major nodal point in the Reich's rail network, with significant good yards as well as the main station. More importantly the U-Bahn at Lard Strasse was being used as a field hospital and was jam packed with wounded men.

On the Soviet side one full company of infantry was supported by a reduced platoon of three T-34 85s and two SU122s. The T34s had a platoon of SMG armed infantry in support. Noddy, our Red for the evening, knew of, and cared nothing for, field hospitals. His orders were to seize the station and that was what he intended to do.

The table is probably best described by breaking it down into four quarters (each rectangular in shape). Looking at the table from the Soviet start line (call this the southern edge), the north-western quadrant was made up chiefly of railway yards, with three main lines surrounded by ancillary railway 'bits', a station block, coal depots, and a large derelict fuel thingy (like a gas works cylinder). In the south eastern quadrant the railway yards were bordered by a small factory area, Sidney's Unterhosen Fabrik being the main one, and to the south of that was a network of streets on a grid basis stretching to the table edge.

On the eastern side of the table a main street ran north-south with a few kinks in it to interrupt fields of fire. In the north east quadrant the main station bordered the railway lines, along with the newer U-Bahn station, a square with a staue was immediately in front of the Haupt-Bahnhof, and to the north and south of this were buildings and the odd side road running off to the east.

Noddy's ruskis stated off by moving through the buildings whilst holding back their tanks, clearly hoping to secure a base from which to launch their main assault on the station. On their right they ran into an MG42 and a squad of Wehrmacht under Kurt Adler, whilst in the centre and to the left the Volksturm under Niederstanner held the line around the Unterhosen Fabrik. A fierce firefight began, with the Soviets immediately bringing forward their Support Platoon of four MMGs on their right, and driving Kurt Adler and his Wehrmacht back in some disorder. On the left Niederstanner had firm, disappointed that he couldn't make use of the bundles of panzerfausts he had ready, but causing the advancing Soviets there some problems, especially with enfilading fire from an old WWI Maxim gun that they had.

Advancing on the heels of Adler the Soviet Third platoon sprung forward on the right, leaving the MMGs to redeploy to fire across the main road into the Volksturm in the factory. Despite the oblique angle the sheer weight of this fire began to tell, and gradually the Volksturm were whittled away until, with Soviet assault guns knocking out the Pak and turning their guns on this mix of young boys and old men, discretion became the better part of Valour and Niederstanner pulled his men back towards the main station, leaving the Soviets a clear run into the factory.

On the right the Soviet T34s were now advancing, cautious due to their previous experiences with German panzerfausts. In the square ahead the green crewed Panther snapped off a couple of shots before a clean shot from a Soviet 85mm main gun crashed through the turret armour and ignited the ammunition therein.

But what was this? A grinding of track and forward came Jannke Lott "Zwie hundert metre, feur!" rapped the Leutnant to his gunner, but fear clearly can get the better of a bravest, most elite crew when singly facing off three Soviet monsters - nothing hit.

Clang, clang. In response the Soviet shells crashed into Lott's Panther, but with little or no effect at first. Mind you, Lott's options were now severely limited as the last drops of fuel were expended and his tank now stood motionless by the staute of some former Prussian warrior.

Steadying his crew, Lott calmly corrected his gunner's errors, and swiftly two T34s were despatched, one exploding into flames, the other damaged, its crew scuttling for the cover of a friendly shell hole. The balance of the battle now swung in his favour. Unperturbed the remaining Soviet tank commander returned fire. Two successful shots saw Lott's engine catch fire, and after snapping off another couple of shots he and his crew abandoned their rather too warm vehicle.

On their left the Soviets now swarmed forward towards the factory, sensing victory. But from the west there came fresh hope for the Germans, never before had the sight of Fat Nick been so welcome to the Rug Doctor. Sweeping through the factory came a French speaking platoon of SS Nordland. To the strains of "Non, je ne regrette rien" this legion of the damned came on with their assault rifles dealing a devastation amongst the advancing Russians that was frightening to see.

On their right another SS unit, smaller but perfectly formed, slipped fleet of foot amongst the ruins. A force of Norwegian panzerknackers under their Hauptscharfuhrer, that giant, Per Annokers, swiftly damaging one SU122 before going on to immobilise the second. Again the battle turned in the German favour.

But Comrade Noddy was no fool (he is actually, so what follows must have been a fortunate error) and had held back one trump card. Now, seeing the MMGs of the support platoon being decimated by the Frenchmen he flung forward these close quarter troops, and in the ruins of the Knicker Factory the embodiment of two political creeds fought to the last.

It was a desperate affair. Untersturmfuhrer Jaques Brioche, all his men dead around him, fought off one Soviet assault on his own before succumbing to the inevitable second wave. Scharfuhrer Pascal Chirac and Rottenfuhrer Eugene le Pen and their squads came close to over- running the Soviet Second Platoon and the MMGs of the Support Platoon before finally being wiped out to a man by the SMG troops in close assault. The last dice were thrown, the Gods of war had cast their vote and, reforming and rallying his men, Noddy drove on again to the Haupt Bahnhof, all German resistance melting away.

It was a tough fight, and one that could have gone either way. The Soviets are an interesting conundrum in Gotterdammerung, as whilst they start off full of vim, they very quickly fall apart. Noddy did exactly the right thing, allowing his rifle platoons to soak up all of the German firepower whilst gradually whittling them down before landing the knockout blow with his SMG troops. The Fat Lad was uncharacteristically flamboyant as the French SS (being obliged to speak French all evening may have helped here), and the attack of the Nordland was a chilling sight. Indeed it seems entirely appropriate that they were killed to a man during the fighting (with the exception of some Swedes on a Pak 40 which, for some reason, was deployed in the railway yards where no tanks could get to(?).

Dazza's Volksturm and Wehrmacht performed stoically, but they looked like what they were, men exhausted by six years of war, and, whilst able to slow the Soviets, were never capable of stopping them dead.

One interesting point that I think emphasises the violence of the battle was the number of Big Men casualties. The Germans lost six out of seven, the Soviets almost as many. All in all a game enjoyable as it reflected the nasty, gritty reality of the fighting for Berlin in 1945. We used poker chips for the first time, rather than cards - the Jury is still out on that. Like Martyn, I like the pretty pictures on cards.

Richard Clarke

 
 
 
 
 

Although the initial Allied landings at Anzio in early 1944 took the Germans completely by surprise, they reacted quickly and had soon managed to find enough troops to form a ring of steel around the Allied beachhead. Once the invasion had thus been contained, the Germans gradually began pushing the Allies back towards the sea.

 The remains of Aprilia or the Factory. Note the open terrain on all sides.

The remains of Aprilia or the Factory. Note the open terrain on all sides.

A significant part of this stage of the fighting took place around Aprilia, known to the Allied troops as the Factory. This was in effect a "new town" plonked down in the middle of the Anzio plain as part of the Mussolini regime's pre-war plans to increase Italy's industrial base.

The Germans began their main counter-attack towards the Factory on the night of 8th/9th February with a devastating thrust towards Aprilia by the Gräser and Schönfeld Battle Groups. This attack fell on the London Irish, holding the town; and the 10th Royal Berkshires, holding the ground to the east; and followed the usual pattern of an outflanking manoeuvre followed by an attempt to roll up the British line.

The London Irish were forced back to the walls of the Factory but counterattacked and regained some of the lost ground. The Royal Berkshires, fighting fiercely but outnumbered about eight to one, were gradually forced backwards and by daylight, according to the battalion’s war diary, consisted only of “Battalion HQ, two sections of C Company, and a few carrier and mortar personnel, totalling forty men in all”.

By 9am, 725th Grenadier Regiment had worked its way down the western side of Aprilia, with 29th Panzer Grenadier Regiment driving down the eastern side. With the Berkshires now effectively hors de combat, and 735th Grenadier Regiment posed to smash into the northern side of the Factory, London Irish had no choice but to withdraw as well.

The British line, bloody but unbroken, reformed along the southern outskirts of Aprilia: with London Irish (about two companies-worth were left) on the left, London Scottish brought forward on the right, and what was left of the Berkshires behind them. Again the Germans could have continued to drive forward and perhaps wiped out the troops in front of them, but the fierceness of the British defence meant that they were content to have taken Aprilia.

That's part of the background to scenario #13: Aprilia from my Anzio: Wildcat to Whale scenario pack  for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum, the subject of last night's game.

The Game

The battle would represent the advance of the 725th Grenadier Regiment down the western side of Aprilia/the Factory in the face of determined opposition from the London Irish. Although a part of the table will represent the battered buildings of Aprilia itself, occupying or moving through these ruins would be very dangerous, as both sides have artillery that has zeroed in on the individual structures and can be called in with little delay.

I would play the London Irish, and start the game on table under Blinds about half way up the table. My force consisted of two full platoons of regular infantry (each with a PIAT team), a small one-squad Company HQ, and two American M10 Wolverines from 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

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Advancing onto the table would be Bevan's German force: four veteran infantry platoons supported by a couple of medium machine guns, two Panthers and two StuGs.

The table itself was largely flat, but with one side taken up by the outskirts of the Factory. This tested my terrain cupboard to the limit, but I eventually managed to create an 8 foot by 18 inch strip of industrial looking buildings along what was the British right flank. Each building was numbered, with the most senior Big Man able to call in off-table artillery with little deviation onto a specific building. Troops thus had the choice of either moving over open ground or risking 'death from above' in the Factory itself.

The ground was very open but, significantly, there was a gentle hill towards the British end of the table. It had a slight ridge on it, possession of which would become the focal point of all the fighting.

The picture, above, shows the initial British deployment. The closest two Blinds are my infantry platoons. The line of four behind them are Dummy Blinds designed to keep the Germans from just smashing forwards over the ridge. The two Blinds at the back are my tank destroyers and Company HQ.

Each sides' objective was simple: mine was to stay on the table, Bevan's was to push me off.

The Action Begins

My plan was to hold a position along the very slight ridge line and shoot the Germans as they came forward. The infantry would be 'two up, one back', prone and ready to shoot; the tank destroyers would 'shoot 'n' scoot' backwards and forwards over the ridge; and my Company HQ would wait in reserve to see where it was needed. I ignored the Factory as I couldn't really afford to lose any troops to artillery there. 

The German plan was to launch a combined arms attack down the centre of the battlefield with his armour and three platoons of infantry whilst his fourth platoon made its way through the Factory itself in an attempt to outflank the British line. The toughest German troops were the two Panthers, so they were 'front and centre' as the main assault force.

The Panthers and StuGs, out front, were very quickly spotted, along with one infantry platoon and one British platoon. This meant that the chip bag (I was using poker chips rather than cards for unit activation) very quickly became flooded with chips, allowing the German Blinds chip to very successfully hide in the recesses of the bag for most of the rest of the game. Bevan couldn't complain, however, as he was pulling the chips!

What this meant in game terms was that the next, major phase of the battle involved two Panthers, two StuGs and an infantry platoon trying to get over a ridge held by a platoon of infantry and two tank destroyers. 

I immediately made things a bit easier for Bevan by failing dismally in a "shoot 'n' scoot" attempt with one of my tank destroyers. Yes, it shot forward and acquired a target, but it missed its shot (or the shell merely scratched the Panther's paintwork, I forget which) but then the driver must have mashed the gears because it failed to pull back far enough to be in cover. One Panther fired and, against the much thinner tank destroyer armour, did enough damage to force the M10's crew to bail out. 

On a positive note, however, my infantry were keeping his single platoon's heads down, meaning their advance was very slow and quite painful, and the threat of the other tank destroyer was making his armour think twice about just rolling forward over the ridge. They did, however, gradually move up until only a matter of some 100 yards separated the two sides, which was close enough for me to risk my PIAT team (the chaps with the 'ring of death' in the picture below) in an attempt to take out one of the Panthers by crawling forward over the ridge:  in the picture, below, the German infantry squad is about to be driven backwards by the combined fire of my two squads, and the Panther is about to advance level with the PIAT team.

 

It was a beautiful shot: right into the Panther's side armour, but you'll see from the inset, above, that the Panther was obviously one of the well made ones, and the spigot-fired shell just bounced right off it! This left the position as shown, below: with the German armour moving in on my one remaining tank destroyer and ignoring my other Blind.

Now, if you look carefully at the picture to the right, you can see a German Blind with a little "boom" marker on it in the factory building top/centre. This was a German infantry platoon that had gradually been making its way up the table through the Factory, chased by my off-table artillery who, up to now, had always managed to land on the building they had just vacated.

Unfortunately, their luck had eventually run out: the "boom" marker represents the fact that they had taken a round of artillery fire, the effect of which would be worked out when they deployed.

Well that was now, as Bevan, unwilling for them just to sit and suffer more artillery fire, charged them out of the Factory straight at my Blind. This initiated a massive Close Combat with me rolling something like thirty dice and the Germans, despite the damage from the artillery, rolling something like twelve dice. That's the sort of ratio you get when you charge  an un-Pinned or -Suppressed unit across open ground! The situation was made worse when Bevan rolled not a single kill on his twelve dice, meaning that as I had rolled quite well, the German infantry platoon just evaporated!

Meanwhile, towards the centre of the field, my PIAT had finally managed to do some damage to the nearest Panther: blowing a track off it so permanently immobilising the beast. I just needed one more point of Shock to force the crew to bail, so decided to risk an infantry squad in a desperate charge onto the behemoth's flank. Did I say desperate? I meant stupid! Normal infantry, not tank killers, even with a Big Man, barely scratched the Panther's paint work, and its machine gun then played havoc: killing my Big Man and halving the squad!

That left the battlefield looking as shown in the two pictures, below:

View from the Factory

View from the German Company HQ

Apart from losing a tank destroyer and a squad of infantry with Big Man, I wasn't feeling too bad at this point. I could see the game was still on a knife edge, but if I could kill his armour, or at least immobilise the other three AFVs, then I could hopefully deal with his infantry piecemeal. Unfortunately, at that point the German Blinds chip returned from its holiday, and Bevan immediately smashed forward another two platoons of infantry and the two MMGs of his Company HQ. Worse, his remaining Panther, doing what he should have done some time ago, crashed over the ridge andtook out my last remaining tank destroyer.

This changed matters considerably, but the PIAT team from my other infantry platoon, having survived the earlier melee, went into overdrive: blowing one StuG up and permanently immobilised the other. By now, I'd had to commit my reserve to shoring up my left flank, so this left me with two platoons of infantry (one slightly battered, one at about two-thirds strength) and a couple of PIATS versus two  and a bit platoons of infantry, two MMGs and a Panther.

App10.jpg

Unfortunately, my men on the left were still manning the ridgeline, and an unfortunate run of chips meant that they suffered badly from the two Panthers' machine guns (I still had't managed to kill or bail the immobilised one) and the combined fire of a platoon of infantry. Even under cover, this point blank barrage was enough to severely reduce the platoon.

With three of his four vehicles immobilised, I decided that now was the time to retreat back from the ridge, and hope that I could hold the ground further back. The remaining Panther was a problem, and the fact that I now only really had one functioning squad on the left was a problem, but I still had one and a half PIAT teams and a pretty unscathed platoon of infantry.

Aftermath

At this point, having been playing for about three hours, we called the game. Although at this point it was technically a British victory, I couldn't actually see that I would have eventually won. Had I been Bevan, I would have let me do what I like on the other side of the ridge whilst I brought all my men and machine guns up, plus the Panther, then taken up my own position on the ridge and blasted down at the Brits until nothing moved. That would, however, have been quite a long and boring process, so we agreed to call it a draw, although I think I was lucky to get away with that...my conscience dictates that I confess that it was at best probably a losing draw for me!

Here's what happened historically (again from the Anzio scenario pack): 

By 9am, 725th Grenadier Regiment had worked its way down the western side of Aprilia, with 29th Panzer Grenadier Regiment driving down the eastern side. With the Berkshires now effectively hors de combat, and 735th Grenadier Regiment posed to smash into the northern side of the Factory, London Irish had no choice but to withdraw as well. The British line, bloody but unbroken, reformed along the southern outskirts of Aprilia: with London Irish (about two companies-worth were left) on the left, London Scottish brought forward on the right, and what was left of the Berkshires behind them. Again the Germans could have continued to drive forward and perhaps wiped out the troops in front of them, but the fierceness of the British defence meant that they were content to have taken Aprilia.

All in all a cracking and hard-fought game that both sides were convinced they were losing right up to the final moments!

Robert Avery

 

 
 
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We tried a first go at IABSM last weekend, and I think I was a bit over ambitious in picking "The Gloucesters of Zuytpeyne" as our first attempt at the game.

Since there were only two of us and I was the only one who had read the rules, I played the British as well as umpiring, and because I was trying to sort out all the rules in my head I got distracted and made some bad mistakes in deployment. For starters, I forgot the "must deploy within 6" of buildings" provision and had to go back and adjust just as we were starting. Then, after we had started, I realised I had forgotten to write down the location of the MG platoon and one of the Big Men and decided to penalise myself by placing them both with the Company HQ (which, with the Lance Corporal, was in the farm with the French MMG).

So I had one rifle platoon in the wood and field to the north of the Styuver Road, one rifle platoon and the Major in the east side of the village itself, all the MGs and the company HQ plus the Sergeant and the Lance Corporal in the farm by the Noorderpeener Road, and Blinds in the west side of the village and in the field north of the mill. The sniper was in the houses on the south side of the village.

The biggest mistake of all is probably obvious from that description: I had no Big Man with the riflemen south of the town. Second-worst mistake was assuredly leaving the ATR so far away from the village itself.

The Germans advanced a Blind up the Stuyver Road right away. They managed to spot out both of my fake Blinds, but not before one of them had detected the panzers. Several following Blinds turned out to be trucks with the German MMG platoon and one infantry platoon. We popped the advanced riflemen out of their Blind and began shooting up trucks merrily, doing a fair amount of damage to the German MGs. That proved to be about the most successful hour for the Gloucesters.

The panzers had passed through the field to the north-west of the Gloucesters and parked to the rear of the area where they were deployed. The Brits started throwing jams tins filled with a lethal mixture of Marmite and Brasso over the hedge, and the German tanks decided to decamp, driving into the village and starting to spot around like crazy: being Germans, they were probably using their MGs to do the "reconnaissance". Meanwhile, the German MGs, damaged as they were, began making life hell in the little orchard, and the platoon 's senior rifleman started wondering where all of his NCOs were. Far away, alas.

What then ensued was what really put the nail in the game: a run of cards that excluded the British Blinds card (the only way that any troops other than the hapless and eventually defunct 7 Platoon could move, spot, or even reveal themselves) for something like half a dozen turns.

Another German Blind (which later turned out to be their company HQ) entered and began moving toward the mill. Two more Blinds entered on the Noorderpeener Road, stayed far enough away from the Allied MGs to remain hidden, and moved to isolate the advanced rifle platoon. With no Big Man to remove wounds, 7 Platoon gave up the ghost after a few turns of crossfire from what turned out to be the Germans' other two platoons.

The panzers eventually found 9 Platoon and the Major in the village (or they revealed themselves in order to shoot when we finally got the British Blinds card - I forget which) and parked in the village square, machine-gunning the heck out of the buildings on the east side. The infantry, not able to do much damage to the tanks, wondered where the hell the Boys rifle was.

Having eliminated 7 Platoon, the German MGs and their supporting grenadiers moved into the village, making for the bridge. The British sniper opened up at this point, taking a number of shots at one of the German Big Men but never managing to inflict more than a passing flesh wound. The riflemen of 9 Platoon crocked a few more MG gunners and started taking apart another of the German infantry platoons which had made its way to the far side of the village, debussed, and started walking in.

Since the panzers' MGs were killing 9 Platoon section by section, the Major decided to have one section rush the tanks. Of course, the luck of the cards intervened and the panzers' card came up again before they could close in and start putting Mills bombs in the fuel tanks and whatnot. Some intense shooting later, and 9 Platoon was down to its last section.

The company HQ and the MG platoon had moved out from the farm, but the Germans came up and started shooting out the tyres of the trucks before they could make it to the Cassel Road. The HQ rifle section got almost as far as the village before they and the Boys team became casualties of, of all things, a passing Stuka attack. The Stuka came back again almost immediately and dropped a bomb smack into one of 9 Platoon's buildings, which blew a lot of dust on the Major's newly polished shoes (oh, and killed a rifleman or two).

The British MG platoon did manage to unload without to much damage, and they proceeded to go to town on the advancing Hun. They wiped out the (already damaged) German heavy weapons platoon and began chewing pieces out of the infantry platoon in the town, which was already getting hit hard by 9 Platoon. Sadly, however, more Germans came up and managed to eliminate one Vickers team after another.

At the point that the MG platoon headed south, leaving me with the French MG section (which had been reduced to one die by then) and one section of 9 Platoon and the Major (holed up in a farmhouse and facing the wrath of three Panzer IIs) plus the so far ineffective sniper. I decided to call it a day.

End of the day? I have a feeling I didn't get all the rules right or even close, but I think we got the basics correct. But between my bad deployment and the horrendous disappearance of the British Blinds card, it was much more of a walkover for the Germans than it should have been.

Jan Spoor

 
 
 
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Australians fail to take post 41

First picture shows the layout of defended area with barbed wire, anti-tank ditch, trenches and dugouts.

The defences are set up repel an attack from beyond the barbed wire barrier to the west. The Australians are unsportingly attacking from the north.

This scenario pits four sections of Australian infantry and two tanks against ten Italian sections, an MG and two artillery pieces, all dug into defences.

The Australians came onto the table showing no concern for the possible quality of the defenders. Perhaps the last post attacked fell so easily that they were expecting a similar walkover. The Australians did not even bother to use their Dummy Blind to attempt the spot the defenders.

The leading sections were spotted by the Italians, who then opened up with a hail of small arms fire.

The leading section would soon retire, a spent force, having taken effective fire from four Italian sections.

Eventually the Australians charged the nearest trenches and, while they took the position and threw back the remnants of two Italian sections, the Australians were also down to about half strength.

Seeing that so few troops had broken into their positions, the Italians decided on a quick counter attack. They soon found that green troops attacking entrenched aggressive troops, with two big men adding to the defence, was a recipe for disaster, even with twice as many attackers.

What remained of the Australian infantry made one further charge and eliminated a further section of Italians. But they were now a completely spent force.

As for the tanks, well they arrived late, survived being attacked by every weapon the Italians could bring to bear. Even three possible breakdown events were survived. They had started to damage the support weapons in the centre of the defences, but it was too little too late.

Without infantry support the tanks would probably withdraw, and, with the poor fire dice results they were generating, it would take them a long time to eliminate all the defenders.

Better tactics by the Australians would have completely changed the outcome. Leading with the tanks would have resulted in the Italians being spotted and the sting taken out of the initial fire from the trenches. They would also have gapped the wire and allowed easy access for the infantry.

The photographs, below, were taken after each Tea Break card.

Tony Cane

 
 
 
 
 

Another go with these enjoyable, yet frustratingly written rules.

We played another scenario from the Blenneville Or Bust! supplement with Stephen using his Yanks against my Germans. I had two StuGs and two Tigers backing up a mixed Company of Fallschirmjaeger and Infantry against ten Shermans and a full Armoured Infantry Company with some Recon assets. We both had access to air power, although the USSAF had rocket-armed Jabos, whilst Luftwaffe had MG strafing only.

I did manage to brew five Shermans but lost one Tiger to laser guided munitions of the Jabo (and the second Tiger nearby was lucky to escape unscathed) whilst my two StuGs retired with guns knocked out.

My Infantry were badly handled by Yank tank fire and incessant 60mm mortar attention (the Yanks had four  of these annoying weapons).

We failed to finish but I think it would have been hard for me to wrest control of the bridge objective from the Yanks.

Again we came up against some rules issues this time being unable to find any rules covering on-table mortar fire!! Not covered directly (amazingly!) in the actual rules but is in the late war supplement Battle for Liberation. Another was use of MGs on half-tracks, with rules covering their firing included but not how to crew them. Again I found an answer later in another supplement (a no-brainer as such but at least it spells out that you need to leave crew to drive a half-track and two additional crew to fire any onboard MG at full effect).

Such issues are very annoying with IABSM especially with such basic stuff, easily enough resolved but much time wasted trying to decide what rules say, or don't say and making a house rule.

Still an enjoyable game and we both like the scale of IABSM and its system overall, but just wish the writing was a tad 'tighter' and less left to Kriegspiel approach.

Sergeant Steiner

 
 
 
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Another try with IABSM this time using a scenario from the Bashnya Or Bust! supplement.

I was Germans defenders and Stephen used his Russian hordes to attack near the fictional village of Holm. We failed to finish the game with things firmly in the balance.

As ever a few 'what do we do here' moments with the rules but thrashed out a couple more house rulings.

We also learnt a few nuances regarding the use of company commanders and the potential danger of occupying buildings! The Dice Demon Steve managed to 3 x 6 on 3D6 when firing HE at a house which reduced it to rubble killing all occupants ! He then rolled 2 x 6 on 3D6 against a wooden abode with same devastating effect. I lost two MMG teams and two Big Men to this so twelve men.

Despite our struggles to understand several aspects of these at times ill-defined rules we actually like the game they generate at this 'big' skirmish scale as evidenced I guess by multiple plays.

Sergeant Steiner (with the Duc de Gobin)

Photos from Sergeant Steiner (first three) and the Duc de Gobin (the others):