Wednesday, 20 August 2014

454 - Flames of War - Game Vs. Germans; 1900pts (Part 2)

[Part 1 is here - link]

Extract from the Regimental Diary, October '44, 4 King's Shropshire Light Infantry (11th Armoured Division):


After-Action Report,
OVERLOON, Holland;
8th October 1943.

B Coy, 4KSLI were spread out over a quarter mile front about 500yds N of the swollen Loobeek Creek and ordered to hold at all costs ROUTE FERRET taken during yesterday's fighting. Spread thinly, 1Pl under Lt MELVILLE was well spaced and thoroughly dug-in; responsible for the defence of a fairly substantial but narrow polder facing S (with the OVERLOON-VENRAY road/dyke on his right and another dyke parallel some 150yds to his left). 3 and 4 Pl were stationed W of here; 2Pl was in Coy reserve.
When my opponent arrived, I discovered that the club's scenery etc. was not available that Sunday, so we 'made-do', in a gloriously juvenile way, with books for relief and some 28mm buildings. Note the VERY narrow front and the maximised spacing of my deployment in the centre of the table (1Pl) and along my table edge (25pdrs; below too). Matthew's Panzergrenadiers are deployed in a scary line at the top-right, ready to charge...
Veterans' spacing. Oh yeah. That table cannot be more than two feet wide, right?
Just after Stand-To ths morning (0650) the enemy made his counterattack. Immediately Lt MELVILLE called for fighter support and the attached 25pdrs from 151st Ayrshires (whose OP was out in advance of our lines, in one of the curiously large warehouses common to this area).
'No Retreat' Mission. Used without permission (from Battlefront)

The enemy, in half-tracks and with armoured support weapons came upon us fast, evidently intent upon using their speed and surprise. 1Pl remained unscathed at first though, and Capt HARMER swiftly mobilised his reserves. In the meantime, both the 25pdrs and the Typhoon arrived, but had only a very temporary effect on the enemy's advance, in that some units were distracted by firing at the aircraft.

Very soon the enemy was upon us, and although 1Pl weathered more fire as they closed, they were rapidly overrun once the half-tracks reached their trenches. MELVILLE himself was badly wounded, as was Sgt PORTAS. Cpls BAKER and SHEPPERTON were both killed in hand-to-hand, as were 3 other men from 1Pl: BATES, COURT and WILLIAMS, J. Fifteen men were treated for wounds, and Pte WYNNE succumbed at the RAP later that week.
At the end of the Germans' second firing phase, just before 1Pl is charged by the pioneer platoon (on the left) and the StuGs. Note the Marders behind them the pioneers and he two PG platoons charging down the right flank. The two objectives are the large bases at the foot of the image (gulp!), and 1Pl's PIAT team is beside and below the left-hand objective (see below).

After bitter close-wuarter fighting, 1Pl just managed to send the enemy off with a flea in his ear, just as we heard the rumble of 3RTR arriving from reserve. Special note is to be made here of L/Cpl WATKINS, who, armed with the PIAT and in the thick of the melee not only managed to knock out one half-track and a team of Germans but was also (with his loader) the only member of 1Pl who managed to keep his firing trench from being overrun.

At this point (0700), two troops of tanks arrived behind the position: 'B' Troop going hull-down behind the crest of the embankment [Point 162] behind the remains of 1Pl's position to provide cover whilst 'D' Troop advanced up our narrow right flank to close with the oncoming half-tracks. Now Sgt NORTON also uncovered his A/T platoon from their dug-in positions on the facing side of Point 162, and the combined fire of 3RTR and Sgt NORTON's 6pdrs immediately brought the enemy's advance to a halt, resulting in 1Pl's position being cleared of all enemy and the destruction of the assaulting pioneers, three StuGs which had also closed in and two of the half-tracks on our right.

Again, L/Cpl WATKINS - his loader now incapacitated - fought bravely on alone from his now isolated trench: in fact a remarkably cool shot from his PIAT was resonsible for the destruction of the lead StuG; very possibly dealing the blow which broke the back of the Germans' advance. [L/Cpl WATKINS was recommended for the MM for his actions on this day - see separate citation.]

From 0705 onwards the tide turned. On our left, the enemy's Marders were shortly destroyed at long range by the accurate fire of 'B' Troop's Shermans and Fireflies (despite being strafed by a Ju87 Stuka which made a pass on 'B' Troop) - in each case, Lt PELLIGREW, 3RTR is to be commended for his coolness under fire.

By this point (0710), Lt BROMLEY had advanced 2Pl at the double to reoccupy and clear 1Pl's original positions and to reinforce the line.
2Pl arrives at the double (from the left). Note the Stug/half-track graveyard. That white paperback, by the way, is 'Point 162'.

Sgt ABLE's 3" Mortar pl arrived sortly after, and set up on the rght.

In the centre, the combined fire of the dug-in 6pdrs and both armoured troops destroyed one of the half-track platoons just as they reached our lines, and the StuGs, whilst on the right, as our 3" mortar bombs started rain down on the right flank, 'D' Troop's tanks under Lt MEENEY raced up to close with the last remaining half-track platoon, soon routing them (although they were lucky to survive a number of panzerfaust hits).
Objectives secured and 'D' Troop destroy the last of the Panzergrenadiers
By 0715 the enemy was in full retreat and the line had held. 4KSLI took responsibility for 32 prisoners (incl. 4 junior officers) captured or surrendered. Their morale was extremely low after failing to break through what they had thought would be a very fragile line. Cpt LESSING (Observer for the 151st Ayreshires) totalled the matériel abandoned or destroyed as comprising 1x 8.8cm heavy AA gun (which fired directly at LESSING himself often), 7x half-tracks (assorted variants), 3 StuGs and 3 Marders.

Happily, the Regiment and attached units suffered no more casualties at all after the initial assault on 1Pl, except for an AOP pilot, whose Auster was forced down by the enemy's A-A quad guns. In the confusion, he managed to destroy his aircraft and escape back to ROUTE FERRET.

In conclusion, the speed of response from 3RTR in reserve, the excellent siting and direction of the 6pdrs in ambush under Sgt NORTON, the courge and fortitude of 1Pl under Lt MELVILLE and the courageous actions of L/Cpl WATKINS all contributed to a swift and decisive victory over the enemy.

Later, at 1330...

Thanks, All. I hope you're all well.

With specia thanks to my sporting and agreeable foe, Mathew: cheers, mate!

- Chris

Sunday, 17 August 2014

453 - Flames of War - Game Vs. Germans; 1900pts (Part 1)

There shouldn't be any reason, really, for splitting this up into teo halves, but (a) there's a lot I want to discuss about it, and (b) each time I sit down to write this entry I feel shattered, and I'll never manage it otherwise. Think of this Part 1 as an establishing shot.

Well now. Last Sunday I managed to engineer the opportunity to get in a game of Flames - at a gaming club quite new to me, based in Newton Abbot: They're IXth Legion (I can provide a link) and although when I went along tere were only four of them, they were extremely welcoming and I was even invited to join a different game whilst awaiting the arrival of my opponent...

...Whose name was Matthew. Matthew is just the kind of opponent I like - a bit rusty with the rules and entirely up for an enjoyable gaming experience, regardless of the result. Here's what he brought with him - a nicely painted variation on a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie (Heer):
If you squint, you'll realise that what appears to be an Me109 here is in fact a Stuka; otherwise it's all as it appears.
Here we've got something in the region of a mounted Command and 2ic, two Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Platoons, a Gepanzerte Pioneer Platoon, three StuGs, four Marders, a Panzer Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon of two vehicles (quad 2cms!), a brace of 88s and a Stuka (Limited).

I looked at this and my heart sank.

Here's why.

My Brits are supposed to be the underdogs. I'm the guy with the squishy British lorried (lorried!) infantry and the paper-thin tanks. I'm the guy without awesome fightin' half-tracks, 'Stormtrooper' moves and 88s. I knew we were both rated as Confident Veterans, but I could see absolutely no reason why I was very nearly outnumbered!

Yup. This is what I brough to the party - elements of an infantry company (4KSLI) supported by others from 11 Armoured Division (esp. 3RTR) - it looked too pitifully little to stand a chance of putting up much of a fight:

What I got for my 1900pts: Command and 2i/c; two platoons of three squads; a 3" mortar platoon (four tubes); a 6pdr (late) platoon (four guns); two armoured platoons (each of two Shermans and two late Firefly VCs); a battery of four 25pdrs with AOP, and my Typhoon (limited). More on their apparent 'worth' later on...

Unboxing the troops, I was struck by how little anti-tank I had, how few anti-aircraft weapons I had to defend from the Stuka (just 2 AAMGs on Fireflies), and how predictably plodding my force would be. By comparison, Matthew was fully mounted with a LOT of anti-tank nastiness, bristling with AA (I don't think any of his units was without AA; only one unit - the quad guns) lacked decent anti-tank capability) and swift...particularly with 'Stormtrooper' moves. 

What's more, his units just seemed so very cheap compared to mine. Out of 1900pts, fully 1030pts was blown just on 8 pretty squishy tanks and my air support. Matthew was quite rightly shocked by how small my mediocre force was for 1900pts, and steered ultimately me towards 'Overord', where with 'Confident Trained' 11AD instead of 'Confident Veteran' I could field my entire collection with lots of whistles and bells for 1900pts. Ouch!

As  we were in theory both 'mechanised' in theory but only his force was in practice, it was decided that playing a 'defensive' mission with me in defence would make most sense. This was good, as it played down my natural reticence in attack...but also bad, as I had a total of seven fighting units, and this meant that if I wanted to keep someone in ambush, then I could deploy only two units.

So I did.

But that'll all be cropping up in Part 2! Watch this space.

- D.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

452 - Orks? ORKS?! - Yup...and an Al Fresco Threeway

And here it is [link] - I told you there'd be some 40K content up again, didn't I?

Had a smashing time at Zzzzzz's place a fortnight ago: I implore you to follow the link above and read all about it.

I've also managed to get in a game of Flames again at long last, so there'll be a post about that coming up soon...

'Til then,

- D.

PS: I'm at my dad's place a lot at the mo, which has next to no internet, so if you've seen something you think I''ll find interesting, do please let me know!