Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All Americans, Part 3 (Sicily 10 July 43)


First up, I took care of post-battle business.  My 'free-form' event was Lt Shepherd recommending SSgt Ford for meritorious promotion to Sergeant First Class for his gallantry and leadership in the previous two battles.  The Company CO is not all that fond of the Lt, but the Bn CO loves Ford, so the Army has a new SFC.

The first fixed event was a character event, which turned out to be a morale test that went negatively.  I picked Sgt Hurley, the 2nd Squad Leader.  It seems the good Sergeant is a bit depressed about losing so many of his men.  Ford's got an eye on him and 1st Squad's Sgt Hume in particular is trying to lift his spirits.

The second fixed event was truly blessed; reinforcements!  I rolled well and got enough fresh bodies to leave the platoon only two bodies down.  Cpl Carlyle got an assistant for his bazooka, while 2nd Squad got brought back to full strength.  1st Squad is still a man down, as is 3rd Squad.  3rd got two replacements, leaving them down only their Assistant Squad Leader (A/SL), Cpl Pace (wounded, local evac, return in a few days).  Pvt Whiskey was promoted to PFC by the Plt Cmdr and assigned as the Acting A/SL (on the recommendation of Sgt Dawson, of course, despite the Lt's personal distaste for Dawson's underhandedness).

As a side note, I really need to paint up some more paras.  Right now I don't have enough men to go overstrength for the platoon (a possibility in the post-game events), to get reinforced (a possibility with in-game events), or to deploy more than one engineer (a possibility with pre-game events).  Additionally, I only have enough men for the .30 cal MMG and the mortar to be two-man teams.

Along those lines, it's been pointed out on TMP that I should have M-1919A4 MGs in my squads instead of having BARs.  I stick by my guns (no pun intended) regarding the fact paras (the 82nd AB in particular) used BARs, but the issue I'm having is that I'm seriously outgunned in the fights (just like real life I suppose).  My BAR is rolling 3 dice while the MG-42 LMG (bipod) is rolling five and the MG-42 HMG (tripod) is rolling 7.  So, I believe after the Sicily campaign my platoon will be requisitioning three M-1919 .30 cal MGs.  I believe they'll retain their BARs, though.  Actually, I think they'll go with LMGs only in Salerno and Anzio, and will have decided for even more firepower for D-Day and will add their BARs back to the squads (in addition to the LMGs).

So, with the fortuitous addition of so many replacements, I decided to not cheat (if I didn't get reinforcements I was going to go on the defensive) and roll to decide the mission as normal.  I rolled as the attacker and then got Card B, Hasty Attack.  For me, I did not get artillery, engineers, or an ATG, but I did get a MG (actually rolled up armor but as there's none available in real life I went with the MG) and the 60mm mortar.

The enemy did not get a bunker or mines, but did get arty (though I'm going to play it as a two-tube section of on-table 80mm mortars with enough ammo for three missions).  This plays into the idea of the hasty attack.  The goal of the attack is a German strongpoint, known to consist of two MG-42 HMGs in sandbagged positions (hard cover) on a hill and a two-tube mortar section in a sandbagged position behind them.  The Germans probably have some supporting infantry on the flanks (4 Type A blinds), and have a local reserve (a Type C blind and three more Type A blinds), which is a bit different than the scenario card as written but helps offset the idea the Germans are starting with at least two HMGs and two medium mortars on the table, which is pretty formidable, particularly with a relatively  open table.

Starting at the US baseline, on the left is a small cluster of houses surrounded by a stone wall, then a low rise in the center.  In the middle of the table there is an orchard on the left, rolling fields in the center, and a road enters on the right.  At the German side on the left is a hill segregated by a stream, then the German position atop the hill in the center, and some rough ground in the top right corner.  The Germans laid three strands of wire, two on the left to help channelize the Americans, and one on the right to prevent Americans from approaching too rapidly should they suddenly break cover on that side.

The HQ element: top (left to right) is RTO and Lt, bottom is a platoon runner, bazooka assistant, bazooka, and Plt Sgt.
1st Squad: the platoon had an MG attached, so I did things a little different (kind of a test for later OOBs, as I mentioned above).  I took the BAR from the 'B' team and put it in the 'A' team with the Squad Leader, and replaced the BAR with the two-man MG team (the extra rifle was sent to 3B as they were down a man).
2nd Squad, led by the clinically depressed Sgt Hurley.  Things would not get better...
3rd Squad, down a man (the A/SL, Cpl Pace, who was wounded and will be back in a few days) but plussed up by the temporary addition of a 1st Squad rifleman.
A four-man 60mm team.
US deployment on the left: 1st Squad, A on the left and B on the right.
US deployment in center: Plt Sgt with two-man bazooka team and Plt runner on the left and 4-man 60mm mortar on right.  The green beads signal the teams are 'tactical,' i.e., crawling.  You can see the two German MG positions at the top of the photo.
US deployment on right.  Top, left to right is 2B, PC and RTO, then 2A.  Bottom is 3B and 3A.
The German right side (from the US point of view), a half squad (Fire Group, or 1FG, consisting of NCO, LMG team, and two rifles).
German center: two 4-man tripod-mounted MG-42s in foreground, two 80mm mortar tubes in rear.
German left (from US point of view): the other half squad (Rifle Group, or 1RG, consisting of an NCO, an MP-40, and three rifles).
The table again, showing the German deployment and wire.  The Germans also have another four blinds: three type A and one type B.  I kept them off-table as a local reserve, to be used when the time came.

Let's get to the action.
Turn 1 and the Americans are up first.  I will not necessarily go chronologically, but show what happened in each sector.  On the left 1st Squad hopped the wall and hauled butt forward.  Don't be thrown by the angle; this is taken from the right as opposed to the US baseline, so the Germans are to the right of the photo.  The German left-hand MG (1MG) fired on 1B (in the corner), but only racked up two shock.  This game would see some of the worst shoot dice rolling in the history of mankind.

In the center, both the Plt Sgt (and his little group) and the 60mm mortar team crawled forward to get into better position.

On the right, 2B got impatient and sprinted forward, thinking it was masked by the treeline.  That was not the case...  The German 1RG to the far right and the German 1FG on the far left both took their shots and racked up two kills and 3 shock on 2B, pinning it.  2MG opened up on 3B and got a couple shock, but the Lt, 2A, and all of 3rd Squad crawled forward.

Next turn: on the left, 1B (with the .30 cal MMG) trades fire with the German 1MG while 1A hops the wall and moves forward.  1B ended up with a couple shock and 1MG lost a man.  Then each side had their mortars go after those two opposing teams, with the German 80mm mortars getting 1 kill and 2 shock on 1B while the US 60mm got 1 shock on 1MG.  The Plt Sgt and bazooka team moved forward.

Things got really ugly on the right...  1RG again lit into 2B on the hillock, getting a couple more shock.  The Lt pulls shock while 2B crawls into the treeline and the German 1FG (at far left) uses its LMG team to try to keep 3B from linking up with them, but manages only 1 shock.  The German 2MG was on Overwatch, but the Lt came up with a bright plan.

The plan was to mix and match 2nd and 3rd Squads on the fly; the two BAR teams (the beat up 2B and 3B) would establish a base of fire from the treeline while the Lt would lead the two rifle teams (2A and 2B) up the right side.  The Lt needed did not need both squad leaders with him, and so he ordered Sgt Hurley (2nd Squad's SL) over to lead the two BAR teams (and 2B really needed leaders to pull shock to keep it in the fight).

So Hurley hopped up and began sprinting to his left to join 2B.  I figured the chances of 2MG using its overwatch status on one man was pretty slim, but I'll be damned if they didn't open up and gun him down.  The Lt cursed under his breath...  and then yelled for 3rd Squad's Sgt Dawson to come over and lead the 2B and 3B while the Lt moved right with 2A and 3A.  In the photo above, the three bodies at top left are all from 2B, while the lone body out in the open between the road and the knoll is Sgt Hurley.  2A and 3A are on the right.

Next turn: 1B really got some good hits on 1MG, causing two kills and 2 shock (1MG was down to only the gunner, and he was pinned).  Both German MGs in the middle opened up, to no real effect (1 shock on the 60mm mortar team and another shock on 2B, which was real close to running at this point).  The German mortars went after the 60mm but managed only 1 kill and 1 shock.  The Plt Sgt had his blood up; as you've seen, he's the type that relishes close combat, and so he lead his small group forward out around the wire, looking to get close to the German MG positions.  1A moved up behind the treeline in the center.

The Lt pulls as much shock off 2B as he can, then leads 2A and 3A in a sprint forward.  Sgt Dawson is barking orders, trying to rearrange the two BAR teams when the German 1FG at far left opens up and guns him down.  Before going down, Dawson had managed to consolidate the survivors of 2B into one force with 3B.  The newly constituted 3B fired on 2MG but managed only 1 shock.

The German center.  1MG on left is down to only the gunner, while 2MG on right hasn't taken any casualties but has racked up a dangerous amount of shock.

New turn: on the left, 1A opens up on 1FG and gets a couple shock, while 1B hauls hops the wall and hauls butt up into the treeline next to them.  The German 1FG tries to return fire but fails its command roll!
The 60mm fires on 2MG and gets another 2 shock, while both 1 and 2MG fire on the Plt Sgt's gang (at very close range) and manage only 2 shock (on five hits!!!).  The Plt Sgt moves up and fires on 2MG, but they manage only 1 shock (pathetic dice rolling).

The German mortars fired on 3B, killing one and adding a shock.  3Bs position is looking a bit tenuous, and it is being run by a PFC, who is acting Squad Leader at this point.  Prior to this they took 1FG under fire and racked up a couple shock, which is starting to mount on 1FG.

The Lt (w/RTO, in treeline at bottom right) led 2A (also in treeline) and 3A (far right at base of hill) forward, where they engaged 1RG, getting 1 kill and 1 shock.  1RG returned fire, getting two shock.

Next turn: 1FG manages to removes some shock and activate, then fires up the Plt Sgt's group from the flank, getting only two shock!  All of 1st Squad returns fire on 1FG, racking up enough hits (1 kill and five more shock) that the German team breaks and runs for the hills!

Immediately following this, 3B fires on 2MG, getting a kill and 2 more shock, and it breaks also!  The Krauts are on the run!  1MG is just one man and his machine gun, and no way to remove shock, but he manages to activate and opens up on the Plt Sgt's group, taking out the platoon runner.  The German mortars fire on 1st squad with two 80mm tubes and manage only 1 shock!!!

The Plt Sgt decides 1MG is ripe for the plucking, and takes the bazooka team up the hill into close combat.  The gunner is eliminated, but he gets the bazooka assistant.  However, the biggest happening was the fact that when the German mortar-men saw the Plt Sgt and his group crest the hill they split, leaving the tubes behind!  All this cost the Germans another 2 FM points, bringing them down to 5.  Sorry, just realized I hadn't been commenting on this each time it had happened.  Of course, any time a team, vehicle, or leader is lost a FM check is done.

The 60mm fired on 1RG on the right, getting a kill and  a couple shock, while the RG fired at 2A and got 5 hits, but only 5 shock (that really defies explanation).  The PC had wanted to get into close combat himself, but now had to spend the turn pulling shock, but 2A remained pinned.  3A put a couple more shock on 1RG.

At this point it time for the local reserve to enter the table as a counterattack.  Like I said earlier, there was a Type C blind and three Type A blinds.  This s@#$ was incredible.  I rolled the C up first and got a 9, so it was a tank (I used a Panzer Mk III).  I rolled a Type A and got a 10, so I grabbed another FG with a Plt Sgt.  I rolled and got a 6 or 7, which had me roll 1D6, which was a 6, so I had to roll on the C blinds table and got an armored car (Sdkfz 222).  I rolled on the last Type A and got a 10, so I grabbed an RG and the PC.  Then I rolled to see where they would come on the table, and it was on the German right (where 1FG had been).

Now, I will admit, this is where I cheesed it a little.  I mean, that was an awful lot of firepower to be staring at after having just fought a bloody but successful action to dislodge an entrenched enemy that had MGs and mortars.  So I played it as if there was very poor communication with the reserve force commander as the bulk of the forces on the table had been destroyed or run away, and there was no time for reconnaissance or a deliberate movement to contact; the German PC was going balls to the wall to get in there and save the situation.  They were unaware of how far the Americans had progressed and so their first moves were to be rushed in order to get over the ford (choke-point) and into position, figuring they had time/room to deploy.

However, the Americans were quite far along and the Germans essentially deployed into an L-shaped ambush.  I've got to get better about this, as this is the same thing that happened last game, and both were very one-sided.  I didn't do any cheating at all last time, and I only did a little this time, but I never saw this coming.
The German PC, 2RG, the Armored Car (A/C), and the Panzer all moved across the ford, while 2FG stayed in the treeline to cover their approach.  They heard some firing in the distance (the 60mm mortar hit the remains of 1RG on the far right, getting a kill), but this just seemed to confirm the German Commander's ideas regarding having time to deploy.  Then all hell broke loose...

First 3B opened up on 2FG in the treeline, getting only 1 shock, and 2FG returned fire, also getting only 1 shock.  Then all of 1st Squad opened up; the .30 cal MMG laid into the armored car, hitting its engine compartment and immobilizing it (surprisingly, the crew stayed).  The remaining 1st Squad firepower mowed down all of 2RG and the German PC, which was caught in the open between the A/C and the Panzer.

There was a brief lull as SFC Ford loaded a rocket into Cpl Carlyle's bazooka...

Which the Lt, still on the far right, grabbed 2A and charged the last two men of 1RG.  1RG was eliminated, but the Lt's RTO and one of 2As rifleman were downed.

Back to the center of the action, Carlyle was peering over the sandbags of the former German MG position when SFC Ford slapped him on the helmet.  Carlyle brought the bazooka to bear, and a smile crossed his face when the German tank presented its flank.  The resulting explosion shot flames out of every hatch bits of gear hundreds of yards in every direction.  The German Plt Sgt and 2FG bugged out, while the armored car crewmen bailed out of their vehicle and surrendered.

The Germans lost:
3 POW (only the A/C crew, everyone else was a casualty or ran off)
1 armored car disabled
1 Panzer III destroyed
2 80mm mortar tubes captured

Our casualties:
Pvt Ignacio (HQ Element) *Repl (2/3); Shot in thigh, Purple Heart (3)
Sgt Hurley Reyes (2nd Squad SL) *Negative Morale Event (casualties) (2/3); Shot in head, Purple Heart (3);
Pvt Cahill (2nd Squad) *Repl (2/3); shot in torso, locally evacuated and treated, return in 5 days (3), Purple Heart;
Pvt Herby (3rd Squad) *Repl (2/3); shot in groin, locally evacuated and treated, return in 3 days, Purple Heart (3)
Cpl Daniel Farraday (HQ Element) *KIA (3); Submitted for posthumous Bronze Star (3)
Pvt Durango (HQ Element) *Repl (2/3); KIA (3)
Cpl Sam Jarrah (2nd Squad A/SL) *WIA, evacuated (3)
Pvt Oscar (2nd Squad) *shot in shoulder, walking wounded, Purple Heart (1); shot in hand, walking wounded, Purple Heart (2); shot in chest, evacuated, Purple Heart (3)
Pvt Edson (2nd Squad) *Repl (2/3); KIA (3)
Pvt Fenner (2nd Squad) *Repl (2/3); KIA (3)
Sgt Michael Dawson (3rd Squad SL) *WIA, evacuated (3) 
Pvt Effel (Wpns Plt/Mortars) *KIA (3)

So, the HQ Element is missing the RTO and 1st Squad is still down one man.  2nd Squad, as always, has really taken it in the shorts and is down 50% to only five men.  One of the missing is the A/SL.  3rd Squad is also is a bad way.  It's only lost three man, but those include the SL and A/SL.  PFC Whiskey was the acting A/SL and is now the ranking man in the squad.  We'll see if Battalion can spare any replacements...

Awards recommendations:
2Lt Shepherd, Platoon Commander, submitted for the Bronze Star for personal leadership of 2nd and 3rd Squads under intense enemy fire, and carrying out a textbook, fire and maneuver into close assault to destroy the enemy's left flank.

SFC Ford, Platoon Sergeant, submitted for the Bronze Star for leading the close assault on the enemy's key position and directing the main effort to defeat the enemy's armored counterattack.

Corporal Carlyle, HQ Element, Anti-Tank gunner, submitted for the Bronze Star for participating in the close assault on the enemy's key position and for eliminating the enemy's armor in the face of overwhelming odds.

Corporal Farrady, HQ Element, Radio/Telephone Operator, posthumously submitted for the Bronze Star for participating in the close assault which eliminated the anchoring element on their left flank.

Well, another fun, relatively quick game.  I hope my cheese at the end doesn't ruin what otherwise was a pretty interesting fight.


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