Le Hesnay (4)

This is a scenario covering the continuing saga of B Company, 1st South Essex Regiment in North West Europe in WW2. Following the attack on the 15th June which pushed the battalion front forward to the D269, the Germans fell back to the reverse slope of the low hills south of the road. There was a degree of patrol activity which determined that the approximate location of the German positions, and a battalion assault was launched on 17th June to push the Germans back beyond the N13.

The next scenario is intended to be out first attempt at 'Crossfire' so it will probably be an utter disaster! As before, the Germans will be played by the ref (me).

British Briefing and map.

16th June 1944, 1000 hrs.

From: HQ, 124 Brigade, 49th Infantry Division

To: HQ, 1st Battalion, 1st South Essex Regiment

OPERATIONS ORDER for 17th June 1944.

1. SITUATION

  1. FRIENDLY: All battalions of the brigade are holding a line roughly along the D269. Patrol activity has ascertained the approximate location of the enemy front line. The Brigade will make a major move forward to take the major N13 highway, a key communications route. 1st South Essex and 6th DCLI will breach the enemy front line, allowing 4th West Riding to pass through.
  2. ENEMY: The enemy directly to our front has been identified as elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division. They are holding a fairly long front, but can still allocate company frontages of around 500m to their infantry units. They are digging in and preparing defensive positions, but as yet have not had time to develop serious field fortifications. The enemy to your front probably consists of a company sized force, probably with on call mortar support and possibly with some armour support. They are known to occupy positions south of the D269.

c) WEATHER: The weather will continue wet and unsettled.

d) TERRAIN: Low hills, orchards, hedgerows and small villages joined by hedged tracks and roads. The summer corn is sufficient to provide cover for infantry.

e) ATTACHMENTS: 4 Troop, A Squadron, 107th RAC.

f) DETACHMENTS: C and D Companies (forming the second wave).

2. MISSION

Advance to clear the German positions on the line Gonneville-Le Cour.

3. EXECUTION

Your battalion is to make a two company attack to destroy or push back the enemy positions to our front. Startline is D269 road. Objective is the ??. The attack will commence at 0600 on 17th June.

One regiment of 25pdrs is available for preparatory fire, one battery being available for an-call fire once the attack commences. OP party to be attached from division.

4. SERVICE SUPPORTUnits carry normal basic fuel and ammo load. No resupply possible.

5. COMMAND AND SIGNALBn HQ located vic ??. Communications by runner or No. 38 radio set. 107th RAC on a different radio net, so visual/audio signals only.

 

 

The woods are made up of a fair number of wooded terrain pieces. All roads are lined with hedges on both sides (not bocage). The open areas are broken up with numbers of field pieces, plus a few depressions on each side and at the top to represent the low rise at the base of the map. The Germans set up above and behind a line drawn along the road running left - right from the larger village which turns south. The British set up below that line out of LOS of any German units.

British Forces

(all regular)

A Company

CHQ (+1), 1 x 2" mortar squad

3 x Platoon each of PC (+1), 3 x squad

B Company

CHQ (+1),1 x 2" mortar squad

3 x Platoon each of PC (+1), 3 x squad

Each platoon may designate one squad as being armed with a PIAT.

Support: 2 x FO + 3" mortars, 2 x Vickers guns, 3 x Churchill VII

German Forces

SS Panzer Grenadier Company (Veteran)

CHQ (+1)

3 x Platoon, each PC(+2/+1), 3 x Squad - only one PC may be a +2 (christened Sergeant Steiner!)

1 x Weapons platoon 1 x MG42, 1 x FO with 81mm mortars on call

1 x FO with 120mm mortars on call

2 x Pz IVj

All German squads have panzerfausts, one squad per platoon may be allocated a Panzerschreck as well.

Referees Notes.

This game will use basic CF rules, only modifications being:

  1. light (2") mortars can move and fire like an infantry squad, and not fire indirect at all.
  2. Panzerfaust have a mx range of 6", PIATs and Panzerschrecks 12"
  3. AFVs use the optional MG rule (so they can fire MGs along with main gun)

The pre-game barrage will be executed very simply - grid up the table (1' squares?) and allocate nine shots (3 per battery). Roll 1D6 for each shot on every unit in a square (up to 2) and remove it on a 6.

The Game.

In the event we lined up a fair number of players, I took the Germans, as basically they were set up to take a good kicking (funny how players like rules where they win the first few games..). Dave Brewer took A Company, Aidan B Company and Daniel the Churchills. The British very kindly did not carry out their barrage as they felt sorry for me!

For objectives I just designated three terrain features along the Germans back area, and the British designated one (secretly) as their actual objective and I had to guess which one. The Germans set up with two platoons on their right (one in the big village, one in the central woods) whilst the machinegun and the third platoon went in the other wood covering the fields. One tank supported each flank, being placed fairly far back.

The British set up A company in the central woods, whilst B company plus the tanks set up on the British right covered by the hedgerows and fields.

This was the first game of Crossfire for all of us but Aiden, and the first moves went very, very slowly. Basically the British took a series of no-risk moves up into contact both in the central woods and the fields on their right. Eventually German reactive fire managed to suppress a British unit and the Germans had a chance to do something. The Germans launched a somewhat unwise counterattack on their right flank, the infanry platoons pushing right up through the village whilst their tank drove up the road to the junction and engaged a British platoon sitting in the road in enfilade. The German tank MG fire scattered death and supressions in all directions, until they finally missed. The British took this opportunity to to launch an attack over open ground on the German left, but this was pinned down by defensive fire. The German tank opened up again but missed, so the British moved a Churchill to engage both it and the other PzIV on the German left flank. The Germans responded by chewing up the pinned British infantry in the open, and completely to forgot to fire their tanks! When the inevitable initiative switch occurred, the PzIvs were left in full view of the Churchills, including one with a flank shot. Bang, bang, two dead PzIVs, oops!

Things suddenly got a bit sticky for the Germans, they had only actually killed two British sections at this point, although a fair number were suppressed. The British tanks now had a free reign and a very unwise counterattack by the central German platoon including the CC was gunned down in the open from all directions. The Germans on the left fell back slowly, but faced such a mass of firepower that they lost squads, FOs etc even though they were in protective cover all the way. The only intact platoon was Sgnt Steiners in the village, they managed to launch a spectacular counterattack, destroying a Churchill with panzerfausts and eliminating a whole enemy platoon in close combat (veterans with a +2 leader, ouch), but lost two squads themselves, and they were forced back too. By this point the tally was 4 dead British squads and one tank, whilst the Germans were down to 1 MG, 2 squads and 2 platoon leaders. The Germans were back on the baseline, and whilst it is possible a heroic close quarters defence might have yielded victory, outnumbered 8:1 in infantry, the Germans conceded and withdrew.

We were very impressed with the rules, once we got used to them they were very fast moving and the intense decision making gave us headaches! A good game.

Problems we had were as follows:

  1. indirect fire was called too efficiently and did not seem to bear much relation to WW2 practice. Tim Marshalls suggested modifications (using contact rolls, spotting rounds, barrage sheaf sizes etc) seem much better here and we will try those in future.
  2. The suggested multi-player rules do not work very well, there was far to much chat on the British side and the initiative loss mechanism basically gave the British free 'throwaway' actions. Immediately losing the initiative seems a better mechanism.
  3. Light mortars should be integrated with squads - giving them one 'free' shot, counting as indirect fire and a smoke capability as per Tims suggestions.