It was off to Benson again for another game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum. The scenario, written by Dave, was a Battle of Bulge encounter, with the action taking place on Christmas Day 1944.

We were to play in John’s shed which, although a great venue, can sometimes rival the Bulge in terms of temperature: it’s not uncommon for games played in the winter months to be so realistic that the players’ breaths are visible. A little disappointingly, however, today the weather was mild, and I could get by wearing only one coat!

John and Dave would play the Germans: attacking an American-held village. I would play the defending Americans, with Bevan joining us as British reinforcements once his Saturday morning chores were done! I’ve included all the briefings so that people can replay the game themselves if they wish.

US Briefing

It’s Christmas Day 1944, and here’s you, Colonel Dan Detroit of the 17th Airborne, sadly in charge of some two-bit little village in a godforsaken corner of Belgium…or is it France

The trouble is you have been put in charge of its defense and seem to be right in the middle of the Kraut’s line of attack. Feels like the whole Goddamn German army is heading for you!

A few miles behind you is the river Meuse and Dinant, which the Krauts need to capture if they are to get to Antwerp as the top brass seem to think they would like to. Having been there yourself you wonder why.

This offensive really caught Uncle Sam with his pants down, and chaos has been everywhere for the last week. However maybe things are changing now, with places like Bastogne holding out, the Krauts apparently short of gas and the brass finally getting themselves sorted out. Seems that some Limey General has been put in charge of this sector and he has herded up some Brits to act as reserve and they may even be headed this way. Maybe.

In the meantime your orders are to hold at all costs, with the forward supply depot just outside town of special importance. Some big shot three star made it quite clear on the radio that under no circumstances can the Krauts be allowed to capture it, but that since our boys need the gas as well, blowing it to hell prematurely would not be a good career move. Sounds like the usual Snafu!

You have a mixed bunch to hold with. You have some of your own Golden Talons boys (the 1st Platoon and the Support Platoon of the 513rd) and you know they will fight like hell. But how the bunch of rounded up cooks and orderlies will do.....

You also have some AT guys from a stray infantry outfit who were just passing through until you enrolled them, and some tanks and tank destroyers have just rolled, in assigned to you by Division.

You have been promised artillery support and air support just as soon as this weather lifts. Yeah right!

You have positioned one minefield and also some dummy mines (anything to slow the Krauts down) and have some wire and emplacements.

Time to go!

  • Company HQ

    • Colonel Dan Detroit (Level IV)

    • Captain William Baltimore (Level III)

    • Two Bazooka Teams

    • FOO

  • 1st Platoon (513rd) [Elite]

    • Lieutenant Steve Seattle (Level II)

    • Three 10-man parachute infantry squads

    • One Bazooka Team

    • One 60mm Mortar Team

  • Support Platoon (513rd) [Elite]

    • Lieutenant Beau Boston (Level II)

    • Three 60mm Mortar Teams

    • Three MMG Teams

    • One Bazooka Team

    • One Jeep & LMG

    • One Truck

  • 2nd Platoon (Mixed)

    • Lieutenant Sam Houston (Level II)

    • Three 10-man infantry squads

    • One Bazooka Team

  • Anti-Tank Platoon

    • Lieutenant Al Lincoln (Level II)

    • Two 57mm AT Guns

    • Two M3 ½ Tracks as tows

  • Tank Destroyer Platoon

    • Lieutenant Jack Kennedy (Level II)

    • Three M18 Hellcats

  • 1st Tank Platoon

    • Lieutenant Chris Carter (Level II)

    • Two Sherman M4 A3E8

    • Two Sherman M4 A3

  • 2nd Tank Platoon

    • Lieutenant Gerry Ford (Level II)

    • Two Sherman M4 A3E8

    • Two Sherman M4 A3

German Briefing

So it's Christmas Day. What did you expect: a Christmas Present from the old man with the long beard? Here I am, Oberst Franz Beckenbauer, in command of Kampfgruppe Beckenbauer, part of 2 Panzer Division, about to give the Amis their present.

The big attack, Wacht am Rhein, started well nine days ago, with the Allies taken totally by surprise and the Ami front line troops shattered by our offensive, whilst their High Command seemed paralysed.

The weather slowed us down, yes, but it also kept their damn air force off our backs, but now however things are more difficult.

Supplies are getting fewer every day, fuel is critical, the men are tired and some Amis have actually fought well to delay us: even now that place Bastogne behind us has not been taken, and the pace of advance has dropped

Today could be the critical day I think.

Ahead is the small town of Beauraing, with an Allied forward supply depot, and just a little further on is Dinant and the river Meuse. If we can get across the Meuse then Antwerp is ours and the Allies will be starved of fuel as their supply line is cut. If we can just get the tanks filled up in Beauraing, what is to stop us?

The troops are tired yes, but our Panzergrenadiers are the best and the new panzers are unstoppable – provided they keep moving.

My Gruppe has been reduced a little over the last week, but I still have a balanced force with a real punch – infantry, tanks, artillery, tank destroyers and engineers as well – so the Amis will know we are here! I know there are some Ami paras up ahead walled up in the town and that they have tanks backing them up, but surely we can handle them?

We must be ready for surprises (have they mined the bridge ahead or the road?) but that's what Recon and Engineers are for!

This snow is bad, for whilst the roads are good, anything off road gets slowed down and wheeled vehicles risk getting bogged down.

The cloud is still heavy, too much for the Allied bombers perhaps and certainly too much for Goering boys. If it clears later then who knows?

Time to go, forwards!

  • Gruppe HQ

    • Oberst Franz Beckenbaur (Level IV)

    • Hauptmann Uwe Seeler (Level III)

    • Feldwebel Gerd Muller (Level I)

    • One Panther tank

    • Two Panzerschreck Teams

    • One ten-man Engineer squad

    • FOO

    • Two SdKfz 251

    • Various cars and trucks

  • Aufklarung Zug

    • Leutnant Siggi Held (Level II)

    • One 8-man infantry squad (one Panzerfaust)

    • One SdKfz 222

    • One Panzer II Luchs

    • One SdKfz 234/2 Puma

    • One Sdkfz 250/10

  • Zug One

    • Leutnant Fritz Weber (Level II)

    • Three 8-man infantry squads (one Panzerfaust)

    • One Panzerschreck team

    • Three SdKfz 251

  • Zug Two

    • Leutnant Helmut Haller (Level II)

    • Three 8-man infantry squads (one Panzerfaust)

    • One Panzerschreck team

    • Three SdKfz 251

  • Schwere Zug

    • Leutnant Hans Grabowski (Level II)

    • Two 81mm Mortar Teams

    • Two MG Teams

    • Two SdKfz 251

  • Panzerjaeger Zug

    • Leutnant Pietr Schmeichel

    • Two StuG IIIG

    • One Jagdpanther

  • Panzer Zug One

    • Leutnant Heinrich Klose (Level II)

    • Two Panther tanks

    • One Tiger tank

  • Panzer Zug Two

    • Leutnant Berti Vogts (Level II)

    • Three Panzer IVJ

British Briefing

  • Motor Company HQ

    • Captain Robert Moore (Level III)

    • Lieutenant Martin Peters (Level II)

    • FOO

    • One 3” Mortar Team in a Carrier

    • One scout car, one jeep, a truck

  • Scout Platoon

    • Lieutenant Alan Ball (Level II)

    • Carrier with LMG

    • Carrier with PIAT

    • Scout Car

  • Anti-Tank Platoon

    • Sergeant Geordie Banks (Level I)

    • Two Achilles

  • Platoon One

    • Two 8-man infantry sections

    • One PIAT Team

    • One 2” Mortar Team

    • Three trucks

  • Tank Troop One

    • Lieutenant Geoff Hurst (Level II)

    • One Sherman Firefly

    • Two Cromwells

Just what you needed! Christmas Day 1944 and your comfortable billet in Dinant is now but a memory. You, Captain Robert Moore of the 3rd RTR, have been specially selected to be amongst the first British troops to be thrown in to stop the Yanks from breaking under the strain of the Hun offensive.

You have your own tank platoon from 11th Armoured Div with a small force of infantry from 159 Brigade and have been ordered to the front line village of Beauraing where apparently a German attack is imminent. Seems there is a vital forward supply base there being defended by a mixed bunch of Yanks under a Para Colonel and you are to place your men at his disposal. The Hun must not be allowed to capture the fuel or they'll be over the Meuse and on to Antwerp before the music stops. Not at all what Monty wants for Christmas,

If only the weather would lift and the Typhoon boys could join in, but otherwise it will be down to you and your boys to stop Fritz's Tigers and Panthers. Not a nice Christmas present for Mrs Moore's little boy! You know your men's fighting ability, but who knows how these Yanks will fight? If all else fails your orders are clear: the enemy must not get those supplies.


For our game, the British arrival was determined by what time Bevan arrived (truly random!). You will need to work out a suitable mechanic : say, after eight appearances of the Turn Card, or similar.


Terrain Etc

The road is clear of snow & ice, but off road drifts will slow all vehicle and foot movement, whilst wheeled vehicles risk getting bogged down (all movement off road is at -1 pip per dice rolled for movement, wheeled vehicles bog down if they roll more 1’s than 6’s).

The hills & woods are very bad going (woods are impassable to vehicles of any kind, and at -2 pips per dice rolled for movement for foot).

The stream is fast flowing but tracked vehicles can ford it. Wheeled must use a bridge.

The weather begins with low cloud, but a strong wind is expected as the cold front goes through, and this will break up the cloud and raise the cloud base. Fine words, but there’s no air support and no artillery support available for either side!

Strategies & Tactics

As I would deploy on table, I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time working out what I was going to do. My first thought, fairly obviously, was to hang back and defend the village: let the Germans come to me as I shot at them from behind cover.

That was a fair plan, but they were sure to have lots of Big Cats and other semi-indestructible big gun platforms, so I thought that I was probably onto a long-term loser if I did that. He could pound the buildings from relative safety, and only come to get me once I was properly softened up.

Rejecting that tactics meant that I had to defend forward. Risky, but if I could get some sort of ambush going, I might get one clear round of fire at his Cats before being swept off the table in a hail of armour piercing rounds, and if I could knock out his big stuff…well I was fairly confident that the Paras and Brits could deal with the rest.

I therefore decided to put both my tank platoons as far up the table as they could go, leaving the Crunchies under cover in the town.

The terrain meant that the Germans could get on the table and set up before coming forward into view (i.e. over the northern hill or around the bend in the road), so I decided to sit, out of sight, right in the lee on my side of the hill and my side of the wood, engines running, guns loaded, as a nice surprise for any German Blinds that appeared.

My FOO was in the church steeple, my anti-tank guns covering the road, so I reckoned that when the Germans advanced forward in strength from their natural deployment area, my Blinds card came up, I could spot with them, forcing the German tanks to deploy, and then blow them away with the Shermans. That was the plan!

Opening Phase

The game began with the Germans moving cautiously onto the table. This I was happy about, as the more time they spent dithering about sorting which Blind was which and how to get them all over the bridge meant more time for Bevan to finish up his chores and get the Brits onto the table to support me.

Very sensibly, however, the German commanders had their recon unit out front and, as they moved their force forward, these poked their noses around the corner of the road to see what they could see.

Well what their lead vehicle actually saw was a 57mm shell heading straight for them as my anti-tank guns opened fire. Exit one recon vehicle!

Incidentally. for those wondering why my Blinds aren’t on the table, IABSM allows troops waiting in prepared positions to be under Hidden Blinds rather than just Blinds: nicely simulating the fog of war.

This tweak on the nose unfortunately failed to provoke the Germans into a more general advance, but several of their Blinds did keep their momentum going. Their StuG platoon headed up the hill, neatly cresting it to observe and fire down onto the town from a fairly hull down position; and their HQ platoon moved into the gap between wood and hill.

This, of course, sprung my ambush…and not in the way that I wanted. I hadn’t had a chance to put my Blinds on Overwatch yet that turn, so my tanks were effectively sitting out in the open for the Germans to shoot at. Luckily he had already moved a lot of his troops, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to bring his full force to bear on me.

As I am sure you can imagine, all hell broke loose!

John and Dave were somewhat surprised by the appearance of my tanks, but nonetheless rallied quickly and fired at them with everything they had left to fire.

Luckily for me, the Dice Gods were with me, and despite the tender ministrations of the two ‘Schreck teams and the Panther, I lost only one Easy Eight: a blow, but not a killer blow.

I returned fire as soon as I was able, and managed to knock out one Panther, one Puma and a StuG, and knock bits off various other vehicles as well. On top of that, I managed to Suppress his infantry in the wood with a bit of HE pounding, and kill off quite a few of his footsloggers in the process.

Here’s a montage of pictures capturing the action described above:

Much would depend on who got the first shot off next turn.

Unfortunately, the Cards Gods were not with me, and the Germans acted first next turn. A painful round of fire followed knocking out one of my tanks. Fortunately, I was close enough that when the Tea Break card appeared early, I could get in an automatic shot which did some damage in return.

Even more unfortunately, this happened again next turn. Suddenly I was down to just five Shermans.

All was not lost, however, as developments had been taking place elsewhere on the battlefield.

Presumably keen to get everything he could into action against my Shermans, John revealed his Jagdpanther and accompanying Panzers on the other side of the table.

This was good news, as my three Hellcats edged into a hull down position from where they were concealed behind the hill near the town and opened fire.

It took seven shots, but the Jagdpanther was smashed about so much that its crew decided to abandon ship. Other fire knocked out one of the accompanying Panzers.

More fire followed from both sides. My Shermans in the centre were wiped out after a few turns by the two Panthers, a surviving ‘Schreck, and finally a fantastic ram by a Panzer II, but they had done their job: all that the Germans had left vehicles-wise was one Tiger…which still faced my two dug-in anti-tank guns and three Hellcats! The Germans had also lost a good chunk of their HQ and Schwere platoon: cut to pieces by flying wood chips in a hail of HE fire in the wood.

The carnage from the German Point of View

The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted Bevan sitting quietly in a corner (behind the Hellcats in the pic above). He, and the Brits, had turned up just in time to see the last of the German Panthers blown up.

The Brits Arrive…A Little Late!

Unfortunately there wasn’t much left for him, and the Brits, to do. There was no way that the Germans could push forward now: they were done!


A cracking game which, once the Germans hit my forward line of defence, was nothing but action, action, action!

Admittedly I had some very lucky dice rolling in that first encounter, but the German commanders were definitely shocked by my tactics: enough to make a mistake with the deployment of the Jagdpanther zug and leave them open to destruction by the Hellcats.

When it came down to it, I did lose eight Shermans but, ignoring with difficulty the thought of the men who died in them, I could afford to lose them…and the Germans couldn’t afford to lose the twelve tanks (mostly Big cats as well) that it took to knock my AFVs out.

The person I did feel sorry for, however, was Bevan. Turns up expecting to save the day, and the Yanks have done the job already!

Robert Avery