Sunday, 9 June 2019

682 - D-Day Campaign Phase 1a (British Airborne Landings)

Hello, All,

Last week the local club's approach to a D-Day Mini-Campaign kicked off, with two parallel battles taking place in the early hours of June 6th 1944. This post records the first of them, played by Alex and Sam...

Assault on the Merville Battery

Objective: Destroy the German 150mm battery

Under the staunch leadership of Lt Col Otway, Alex's men of the British 9th Parachute Bn had edged toward the battery perimeter, and Capt Greenway's men had cleared paths through most of the mines, but the battalion had lost way too many of their men and equipment in the landings... 
The Scenario Map from Warlord's Campaign: D-Day 
(used w/o permission. Note the minefields, marked with brown patches) 
Sam's absolutely SUPERB interpretation
of the map. We had to improvise the mines,
so we used brass drawing pins. It worked a treat! 

So, under-equipped and perilously undermanned, Otway decided to forgo the last few yards of breaching, and instead headed round the flank to attack from the road entrance!
The Paras veer off to flank along the road.

This was a departure from the historical battle, but there were some similarities, like - for example - the prompt destruction of the perimeter machinegun nests. 
 Here, the extent of the minefields is clear.
You can see why Alex's Otway went round instead! 

The Paras made great progress up the road (and clearing the buildings) at first, but then, when the inexperienced defenders started to make sense of the dim shapes flitting through the darkness, their fire started to whittle the Brits down.
The Static Infantry Div troops are okay
to start with. 
The Paras are grateful to reach the buildings. 

Ne'er disheartened, the Paras stoically fought on and into the gateway to the battery, overwhelming those squads who'd rushed out to meed them. 

And then, just as they were nearing the gun in the first casemate, all resistance crumbled. As a couple of the remaining perimeter teams fled back through their lines, the stunned men of 1st Bty, Artillery Regiment 1716 and 716th Static Infantry Div put down their arms, put up their hands, and shuffled forward in the dark. 

Otway's men were relieved, to say the least: casualties had been high, but at least the Old Man hadn't made them attack through the fence and minefield. Also, having lost their explosives in the landing, they now had a little more time to work out how to destroy or disable the guns...which it turned out were not the 150mm guns they'd been briefed on, but instead some old Czech 100mm howitzers. 
An RAF photo-reconnaissance shot
of the abandoned battery, 0743hrs.

Still, at least that was one battery which now wouldn't be able to engage the men on the beaches!

By 0530, and under attack now from another German battery, the 9th Bn moved off toward their next objective: Sallenelles.

- - - 

Hearty thanks go out to Alex, Sam and Charlie, without whom none of this would have been thinkable, and Guy, for the loan of guns and scenery. Some of these pics are courtesy of Alex, and Sam and Charlie did a truly MASTERFUL job of setting out the scenery. 

The next post will be Phase 1b: the US 82nd and 101st Airborne randomly scrapping their way through the darkness of rural Normandy... Watch this space! 

- Drax. 


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