Saturday's game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! featured John and Dave playing a scenario that I wrote for the Xmas 2005 TwoFatLardies Christmas Special: Moiste Cabbage and a Quick Cognac.
The scenario is set in France in May 1940 amongst the cabbage patches that border the Moiste river. A German probe has discovered a previously unknown ford across the river is unguarded, and has dug-in to protect the crossing whilst reinforcements are summoned. The French have spotted what is going on, and dispatch Captain Cognac and his men to re-capture the ford as soon as possible.
The picture to the right (excuse the horse!) shows the battlefield. The Germans would begin the game dug-in around the ford in between the two houses in the centre of the table. They consisted of a platoon of infantry support by a squad of engineers with a flamethrower; two anti-tank guns; and a single medium machine gun. They could also expect two lots of reinforcements to arrive at some point in the game: the first, a zug of two Panzer IV tanks; the second, another platoon of infantry, this time in half-tracks, supported by a couple of medium mortars.
The Germans had deployed their infantry platoon within the house nearest the giant horse; their engineers immediately behind the hedge in front of the barn (the other building near the ford); their MMG in the barn itself; and an anti-tank gun way out on either flank.
The French, who would start the game around the farm in the bottom left hand corner of the picture, had at their disposal two large platoons of infantry, each of three squads; a couple of medium machine guns; a single soixante-quinze 75mm field gun; a Panhard armoured car and a couple of Somua tanks. They could also expect two lots of reinforcements: the first, a single Char B-1 bis tank; the second, another platoon of infantry.
The French (played by John) opened the proceedings by advancing strongly forward with their armour and one platoon of infantry.
The infantry hopped over a couple of hedges and took up positions amongst the small copse of trees by the road junction. From there, they dispatched one squad forward to scout forward towards the barn. This proved to be a costly mistake, as the German engineers, infantry and MMG opened up at Close range and did horrendous damage to the hapless polis.
The few survivors quickly scattered back the way that they had come.
The French now knew where the German positions were, but were a bit nervous about bringing their armour forward until they had sussed whether their enemy had any anti-tank capacity. The Panhard armoured car therefore drove down the road towards the ford, desperately on the alert for anti-tank guns.
Well, they found some. Or rather one, as the Germans realised that the gun that they had deployed on their right, in a small patch of trees, was only able to shoot at targets in the field right in front of them: all other parts of the battlefield were blocked by hedges, other trees etc. The gun on their left, however, dug-in amongst still more trees could see the Panhard and promptly opened fire, knocking bits off the armoured car and ruining its tracking!
The Panhard retreated a bit, and started a duel with the anti-tank gun crew which would last most of the game. The French found their autocannon was jolly good at Pinning the anti-tank gun crew, but not very good at actually killing them.
Meanwhile, the French brought up the first of their Somuas. It was sufficiently armoured not to have to worry about the anti-tank gun too much, especially if they were pinned, so it trundled down the road towards the ford determined to blow the Bosche out of their positions.
This was a bad mistake, as the German engineer flamethrower, who sneakily hadn't fired at the infantry, moved slightly forward and took the Somua out with one squirt. It was such a good squirt, in fact, that it emptied the flamethrower's tanks of fuel, but it had done its job, and half the French armour was now a burning wreck. The other Somua moved up and engaged the anti-tank gun crew: their fire was as effective as the Panhard's autocanon!
The engineers now felt the wrath of the French: the other two squads of infantry along with the field gun poured fire onto the single squad of German pioneer types, very quickly rendering them ineffective.
With the engineers taken out, the only obstacle to a general French advance was the anti-tank gun of the German left: still gamely firing despite the huge amount of ordnance that had landed on its head!
The other French platoon moved forward, along with their HQ squad, intending to overrun the gun. A German infantry squad moved to block them, but was sent scurrying back after it carelessly ended up on the wrong side of a hedge right underneath the French infantry's guns.
At the same time as the above, the first French platoon resumed its advance: the French being determined to just overwhelm the Germans through sheer weight of numbers.
Things looked a bit grim for the Germans, but this was the time that their first set of reinforcements showed up: two Panzer IVs arrived at the ford and immediately engaged the remaining Somua. Both the lead Panzer IV and the Somua knocked bits off each other until the German tank took a critical hit and was destroyed. The remaining Panzer and the Somua couldn't actually see each other at this point (there was a lot of debris around, including two burning tanks) and as neither was prepared to move out of 'cover' first, an uneasy stalemate prevailed.
At the same time as the above, the French field gun switched its attentions to the house holding the German infantry, setting it alight with its very first shot. The Germans were forced to leave the burning building and take what cover they could. Meanwhile, the German anti-tank gun on their left had finally been silenced (overrun by French infantry); the remains of the first French platoon had reached the remains of the engineers and were locked into close combat; the German MMG had been forced to join the engineers when the barn was also set alight by the French field gun (that was obviously firing incendiaries!); and the first French reinforcements, the Char B-1 tank, showed up. There was a lot happening!
Unbelievably, the German engineers managed to repel the French infantry's assault, even though they were outnumbered about 2:1. There weren't very many engineers left afterwards...but the French infantry platoon had been reduced to just six men and had no intention of going back into the attack.
Encouraged by this success, the remaining German Panzer IV accelerated forward, determined to take the fight to the two remaining French tanks. At this point, more German reinforcements were spotted (the infantry platoon in half-tracks) and the French commander ruefully ordered a retreat.
Yes, he had another platoon on the way, but that would mean that one and a half French infantry platoons supported by a single tank and a single field gun needed to assault almost two platoons of German infantry, one of them in half-tracks, with a Panzer IV and an anti-tank gun in support. It just wasn't going to happen!
All in all a great game of IABSM. The scenario worked very well, and the smallish size of the game was a pleasant change from the vast two-company-a-side games that we usually play. I shall be continuing to mine the specials for future scenarios!