I was able to get another one in this evening. So, in the last fight elements of the Hermann Goering FallschirmPanzer Division kicked 1st Platoon off the hill, though under the steady leadership of the Lt and Plt Sgt, and with some heroics from Sgt Glenn, the platoon was able to fall back in an orderly manner with all its wounded and dead.
Lt Shepherd and SFC Ford immediately set about reorganizing the platoon in order to launch a counterattack as soon as possible. The HQ element still had its full complement of 5 men, but the platoon was down to three squad leaders and 15 men, so bodies were shuffled around to create three 6-man squads. The MMG team that was with them in the last fight was also retained for the counterattack.
The Americans decided to forgo any indirect fire on their former position, instead opting to use stealth to get as close to the Germans as possible. The Germans, too, had suffered heavy losses and were busy reorganizing. Two teams had been dispatched to move wounded to the rear and bring up ammo and water, while two MG teams set about improving their defensive positions. When the Americans were spotted the Panzer crew was dismounted conducting maintenance on their vehicle, and the German PC and Plt Sgt were huddled in discussion.
I started both sides at a FM of 7, and I kept the Americans "get moving" attribute for this fight.
Turn 1: The PC and 3rd Squad crawled up to the wire on the left, and the German HMG spotted them, cutting loose a burst (no effect). This alerted the Germans, and the Panzer crew manned their vehicle. The US MG, bazooka team, and 3rd Squad all took the German center under fire, getting a couple kills on the right hand LMG team (-2 FM pts for losing their NCO) and a lot of shock on the left hand HMG team. The German PC sprinted to the center and pulled shock from the HMG team. A random event occurred, forcing the Germans to take a morale test on a D10 roll of 10; I figured this was pretty cool in terms of the Germans being surprised and understrength. Both German AG's dropped their supplies and rushed forward to the center. On the right, the Plgt Sgt and 1st Squad crept forward, and took ineffective fire from the German 2FG. The PC and 3rd Squad used the special move to cross the ford on the left and get into the treeline on the flank of the German hill positions.
Turn 2: US MG, bazooka team, and 2nd Squad keep firing a the German HMG, and their PC keeps pulling shock off it to keep it in action, while the return fire puts quite a bit of shock on the US center (MMG and bazooka). On the right, the Plt Sgt and 1st Squad creep up under ineffective German fire, then fire on 2FG but manage only 1 shock. Back on the left, 3rd Squad and the PC fire on the HMG, getting a bunch more shock (still no kills on them), forcing the German Plt Sgt to hop over to pull shock from them. Both German AGs move towards the hill while the Plt Sgt and 1st Squad use the special move to leave the treeline and get pretty close to the German 2FG. Then, of all things, the German Panzer decided to come around this flank (instead of doing the much more likely move to the center, where my bazooka team was).
Turn 3: German card came out first, and the Panzer pivoted and lit into the Plt Sgt and 1st Squad, but terrible shooting saved them (only 1 kill and 1 shock from the main gun and bow MG)!!! Then another German card came out, and the 2FG fired on them, also getting 1 kill and 1 shock (I was really expecting all seven men to get gunned down). However, the return fire manages to gun down the German NCO and A-gunner, leaving only the LMG gunner (-2 FM pts).
But things are getting precarious. The paratroopers have the Plt Sgt and (now 4 men of) 1st Squad facing down a three man LMG team in a treeline and a Panzer at point blank range on the right, and the MMG team and bazooka team stacking up shock (making them less and less effective) in the center. The Lt decides it's time to make some stuff happen.
While the German PC pulls some more shock from the HMG, 2nd Squad fires at the exposed 1AG coming up the hill, and kills three of the four men (including their NCO, -1 FM point). The bazooka and MG both fire at the German HMG, getting a kill and a couple more shock. The HMG has so much shock that the German Plt Sgt jumped over again and pulled some more shock. The Lt and Sgt Glenn led 3rd Squad down the rise to the bank of the stream, where they cut loose on the German HMG with nine dice and got.... ZERO hits! The German 2AG moved up and joined 1FG in the other emplacement, and they fired at the MMG and bazooka team, racking up a few more shock (getting real close to making them run).
Special move time came up, and the Lt decided it was go time. He courageously led 3rd Squad up the hill and closed with the German HMG position (two men left, plus the German Plt Sgt). The close combat resulted in the death of both German NCOs (the gunner promptly surrendered), but the Germans took a heavy toll: five paratroopers were downed in the melee!
Of course, the loss of two more leaders and another team dropped the German Force Morale another 4 points, leaving them at -4 overall, game over. The German PC, remaining man of 1FG, the 4 men of 2AG, the sole survivor of 1AG, and the remaining man of 2FG all surrendered, but the German Panzer pivoted and made tracks out of there.
So, mission accomplished, the hill (I realize now I should have given it a name) is back in US hands. In campaign terms, this was the last fight for 13 July 1943. In this sector (in my made up world), the link-up with the Big Red One occurs during the early morning hours of 14 July and the whole battalion is pulled out of the line for a few days to rest an refit before going on the offensive and chasing the Germans off the island of Sicily. Here's the score:
The Germans lost:
Pvt Charleston (1st Squad) *Shot in neck, Purple Heart (1); KIA (6)
Pvt Echo (1st Squad) *WIA, evacuated, Purple Heart (6)
Sgt Glenn (3rd Squad) *Repl from E Co, 2nd Bn (3/4); Ran in the face of the enemy (4); Transferred from 2nd Squad to 3rd Squad (4/5); Submitted for Distinguished Service Cross (5); shot in neck, Purple Heart (6);
Pvt Girardo (3rd Squad) *Repl (2/3); Ran in the face of the enemy (4); Shot in face, Purple Heart (5); shot in thigh, locally evacuated and treated, return 20 July 43, Purple Heart (6)
Pvt Tango (3rd Squad) *Submitted for Bronze Star (4); Shot in shoulder, Purple Heart (5); KIA (6)
Pvt Ertz (3rd Squad) *Repl (3/4); Transferred from 1st Squad (5/6); shot in groin, locally evacuated and treated, return 18 July 43, Purple Heart (6)
Pvt Uniform (3rd Squad) *Submitted for Bronze Star (4): shot in jaw, Purple Heart (6);
Pvt Bautista (Wpns Plt/MMG) *(5); KIA (6)
Awards Recommendations: None. Heroes, as always, but nothing that stands out.
So, the platoon's riflemen are down to 13 effectives, with only three of them having never been hit (and one of those is a replacement!). There are five guys that will return to the platoon in less than a week though. The platoon itself has suffered 29 men killed or evacuated out of theater.
Somehow, three of the guys that have constantly had their necks on the line, the PC (the Plt Sgt, and the bazooka gunner) have not been hit! It's really going to piss me off when one of those guys gets it... But that's what I wanted out of the campaign; a narrative, a sense of continuity, and a connection. It's been a lot of fun.