So, welcome to the inaugural fight of my "Hell on Wheels" campaign. The concept is following a US mechanized infantry task force in France, late August 1944, through a series of fictional, yet historically based/representative fights against the Germans. To see the task force's order or battle you can visit the earlier "Hell on Wheels OOB" post, which shows the units and leaders. As merely a plot ploy, the Yanks will primarily find themselves facing off against a single German unit lead by Oberst Fritz ;)
So, today's fight is just following Falaise, let's say 24 August 1944, with US forces working on breaking out of Normandy.
On left, going up Hwy 1: On right, going up Hwy 2:
Able Company: Capt Dillon Baker Company: Capt Keepers
1st Plt Lt Gwydion Lt Harwood
2nd Plt Lt Drakenganer Lt Tocapixie
3rd Plt Lt Womble Lt Technough
Wpns Plt Lt Freduelve Lt Lejunfore
1st Tank Plt Lt Ditteaux 2nd Tank Plt Lt Worlwind
*Each company has two MGs in their Wpns Plt, one is their own, the other is attached from Wpns Co.
*Wpns Co 81mm mortars are in general support on table.
*The Bn FO, Capt Jonafem, is in general support on table.
*Wpns Co ATGs are in general support, off-table but on call
*Tank Destroyer Plt (Lt Ithoriel) is in general support, off-table but on call
*The Bn CO, LtCol Mac, pulled himself away from the chowhall long enough to get involved in the attack today.
*The rest of the battalion task force is off-table in reserve, hopefully not needed but standing by in case things don't go well...
*All US forces start off the table, coming on when activated.
Let's get this thing started!
A single rifle shot rings out; SNIPER! Lt Ditteaux slumps down in his cupola. He's hit, but alive, and his crew off-loads him to one of A Co's medics (foreshadowing: this was very fortuitous for Lt Ditteaux!).
Back on the left side, the 88mm ATG manages to unpin, and pops T2, immobilizing it and causing the crew to bail. That finished the German turn.
Able Co's CO, Capt Dillon is understandably worried about the German MG Plt that just materialized on Hill 55, and attempts to call in arty, but FAILS. The Wpns Co 81mm go after the 88 ATG again, getting two more hits and pinning it again.
On the US right, all three tanks of 2nd Tk Plt fire on German infantry, getting several hits on both the rifle plt dug-in in front of Hill 55 and the MG plt dug-in at Hwy 3.
The German 80mm mortars fire on B Co's 2nd Plt, but only get one hit and pin a squad. Then the Germans bust out the whooping stick!
German Casualties US Casualties
11 Rifle Squads A/1st Plt (Gwydion) 14 men
3 PzSchreck A/2nd Plt (Drakenganer) 4 men
4 MG-42s A/3rd Plt (Womble) None
1 Company Commander A/Wpns (Freduelve) 6 men (1 MG)
2 Plt Commanders B/1st Plt (Harwood) 6 men
1 PzJgr KO B/2nd Plt (Tocapixie) 18 men
2 PzJgr damaged/abandoned B/3rd Plt (Tecnough) None
1 Tiger KO B/Wpns (Lejunfore) 2 men
1 Tiger damaged/abandoned Wpns Co - 4 men
1 88mm ATG KO 1st Tk Plt (Ditteaux) PC WIA, 1 M4 KO and 2 damaged
2nd Tk Plt (Worlwind) 1 M4 KO and 1 damaged
There will be no replacements prior to the next fight, so the platoons will look like this
A/1st: 2 squads
A/2nd: 2 squads
A/3rd: 3 squads
B Co: all platoons will have two squads.
Regimental maintenance crews are working on repairing three damaged and two KO'ed Shermans, but they won't be available for the next fight. T4 will be temporarily assigned to 3rd Tk Plt (Salt). Luckily Ithoriel's TD Plt and Lasthuzzer's SPG Plt are both fresh, as is Capt Ronan's C Company.
So, the fight was fun, although I feel like I cheesed on the two German armored forces. Of course, I didn't want to simply have them sit like anti-tank guns, I was trying to use them in the Germans' manner, as an armored fist for counterattack to throw the Americans back. This utterly failed both times, though it kinda wasn't my fault with the Tigers they rolled a blunder that forced them forward. The PzJgr force was really wasted.
And I feel pretty cheesy about supporting fires, too. Two arty barrages and an airstrike; not ahistorical, but kind of felt like cheating. I'll say that my feeling was the initial fire mission (on the German MG Plt on Hill 55) really saved my bacon, I'm not sure how I would have cracked that nut. Having tank support would have helped, but they were having their problems with the 88. The airstrike on the Tiger force and the fire mission on the PzJgr force weren't game changing, at least in my mind. The Tiger's, due to the blunder, were pretty well handled by infantry bazookas (and T4 moving around the flank) and their infantry was exposed (also due to the blunder). The PzJgrs weren't being handled as well, but it really felt like only a matter of time, with B Company in front of them in strength and A Company getting into position to flank them.
Looking over this, I don't know that you get the same sense I did when playing this. I really had the hell scared out of me at the beginning, racking up infantry and armor casualties very quickly without having even gotten off the start line, and the barrage on Hill 55 gave me a bit of breathing space. When the Tigers showed up I had another sinking feeling, but once that blunder occurred I was pretty confident they were handled, and I was never really fearful of the PzJgr force, it was more of a 'okay, let's do this again. When the Tigers came on I was an inch away from bringing on the M10s to try to stave them off. I'm still trying to figure out if I was lucky or unlucky that the Germans had one ATG, two MG plts, and a mortar plt. I kept getting scared more ATGs would pop up, but the Germans were probably better off with the MGs than ATGs.
Before I close, we need to have a battalion formation for awards:
For Lt Ditteaux, 1st Tank Platoon, Tank Company:
For getting shot by a sniper while standing tall in the turret.
For Lt Gwydion, 1st Plt, A Company:
Overall a fun fight, looking forward to the next one.