Tonight’s game of Operation Sealion: scenario six, The Drive Inland.
It is Day S2 of the German invasion, and the reconnaissance battalion of the Wehrmacht 26 Infantry Division is heading towards the sleepy village of Herstmonceaux.
The reconnaissance unit is light in vehicles and most of the troops are mounted on bicycles ‘liberated’ from a sports shop in Pevensey.
So far British resistance has been patchy comprising of pockets of Home Guard and the occasional unit of regulars but the British are now frantically attempting to form a solid defensive line to the north of the landing beaches.
What will this day hold in store for Hauptmann Ralph Sturmer and his company?
The Germans entered the table not under Blinds as it was determined within the preamble that the British had full sight of the approach route with their FOO spotter in the village church tower.
Entering the north edge of the table with a maximum of two platoons per move the Germans initially brought on bicycle infantry and sought to establish a forward position within the church cemetery, surrounded by its stonewalls.
The second platoon made a concerted dash along the tree lined pathway towards the north east barn in attempt to outflank the village and arrive at the two farms adjacent to the targeted exit point on the eastern side of the table.
There was no response from the British at this point. However the German bicycle troops in the cemetery did locate a British pillbox at the entrance to the village.
Failing all their attempts to identify the contents of the pillbox, the Germans were surprised to receive fire from their flank from a section of Home Guard troops in the orchard near the church.
Turn 2 saw a further platoon of bicycle troops appear, along with some elements of support including a 50mm mortar and an anti-tank rifle.
The German outflanking attempt continued but just as they felt they were making headway the German cyclists encountered a full British Home Guard platoon taking cover behind the hedge row. This immediately brought them to close combat and they were routed back in the direction of the north east barn.
The next turn the Germans brought on the armoured cars and attempted to rush down the High Street to the centre of the village. However the British had got something waiting for them. An ace up their sleeve. The British brought out their Northover Projector into play and it promptly disabled the lead German armoured car.
The Germans took evasive action as a result of these two setbacks with little headway being made yet more bicycle riding platoons having been brought into the table along with company headquarters and the remaining support weapons.
It looked like the German advance may have been brought to an early standstill with them electing to sit on the high ground and set up the machine guns to cover the village.
It was not to be an easy life and the contents of the pillbox made themselves noticed by putting an anti-tank rifle round through the next armoured car!
As they scrambled to get a grip on the village they received fire from all quarters. The first armoured car had only been temporarily immobilised and it set off to drive through the village to deal with a British Vickers machine-gun that has set up with a clear line of fire able to sweep the German entry point. Indeed it caused great disruption and had to be dealt with accordingly.
Somewhat warily the armoured car car crew set off to deal with the Vickers however they were met with a blast of small arms fire at their open top vehicle from some British regulars at the rear of the village. This resulted in the armoured car racing off the table in reaction to the surprise and never to be seen again during the course of the game.
This is a scenario that calls for the British to set up kill zones and overlapping fields of fire with their limited resources to be able to have any effect on the German advance. However we were successful and after 2 1/2 hours playing time and several cups of tea the Germans had lost almost 50% of their number mainly as a result of the British off table artillery getting a bearing on their position and dropping a ferocious barrage upon them.
Nonetheless a wonderful evening was had by all and we look forward to playing it again.
Not going to give away any more of the secrets contained within this game and thereby won’t spoil it for anyone who wishes to purchase the scenario book and play it through for themselves!
Here are some more pictures: