It's 1630, 18 Sept 1939, and fighting for the Kutno pocket has reached a fever pitch. All day the Poles have waged desperate battles to break out of the Germans' noose, but the armored counter-thrust by 4th Panzer Division (to include KG Klink) appears to have decisively slammed the door shut. Regarding the situation at hand, elements of KG Klink's Reconnaissance Company, reinforced with an 80mm mortar, a 37mm anti-tank gun, and two squads of assault engineers, has discovered a Polish infantry force in the village of Piotrowicz (fictional), serving as a bridgehead to hold a ford open (to the north, off table), which is allowing a trickle of Polish troops to escape the pocket on foot (albeit, without their heavy weapons).
2nd Lt Wehner, the acting Reconnaissance Company commander, radioed his findings to KG headquarters, where Lt Col Klink uttered a single word: "Attack!"
Let's get it on!
The 2nd Motorcycle Platoon Commander and his old squad (1st, led by LCpl Wilhelm) have their squads gun their engines and zoom up the road (top left), blowing by the astonished Polish defenders in the building to their right. They dismount as Off Cad Distler brings his armored car up next to them. The two assault engineer squads, straddling the road, escort the Recon Company commander nearer the enemy rifle squad in the building, while Sgt Janke and Cpl Zuckert's squads turn off the road, dart right, and dismount, covering the unpacking of the ATG and mortar (bottom right).
The enemy MG is in the far bottom left corner of the table (off camera to bottom left), and I've made a tactical decision to essentially ignore it, figuring my troops are going to move with such speed that the slow-moving enemy MG will never get into position to affect the fight. But I've already screwed that notion up by dismounting my ATG and mortar so early, which I wouldn't have done if I'd have rolled a 'normal' activation. The ATG and mortar would have simply sat there while other forces moved forward, then, once there was some forward space to deploy to, I'd have moved the ATG and mortar forward and unlimbered/unpacked it. But I rolled a scurry, and so I was able to move everyone, so I figured I'd better move it up, and since I'm getting so close to the enemy I'd better unlimber. Meaning they didn't get very far off their starting point and they're already pretty immobile, and the enemy MG is not far off of being able to bring them under fire...
Then the Poles get a little bit screwed: they roll a firefight, which means everyone that can see a target can fire, but no one gets to move, so they're two vehicles remain in defilade (armored car behind building on left, light tank behind treeline on right).
Then the Germans roll another scurry (I told you, I can roll 1's like a champion).
And then another 'improbable' occurred...
So, I need to get some forces re-positioned. But then the Germans roll a firefight...
And then the Poles bust out the whoopin' stick...
And then I roll another damned firefight for the Germans! You know, I really need to move my armored car over to get a shot at the enemy tank, I really need to get the ATG crew back to its gun to take a shot at the enemy tank (which will take two turns, one to re-man the gun and another to fire), and I really need to move the engineers and LCpl Wilhelm's squad close into cover next to the tank to try to close assault it. I really need to move a bunch of stuff to try to counter the enemy's main offensive capability, but I can't!!!
Then the Germans get a normal activation, but with a random event: smokescreen, which allows a unit to move without drawing reaction fire, which is perfect for the ATG crew, who quickly re-man their gun. Now I need to take care of that damned MG; Cpl Vogel's team quickly re-lays the their tube, and they begin dropping 80mm rounds on the enemy machine gun.
But then my fortunes swing back the other way, just as quickly...
Meanwhile the Polish MG rallies, though their CO can't manage to rally the squad in the north, and they fall back again. Distler's armored car (off camera to top) returns fire, pinning a squad (top right, yellow bead), and the mortar (far left, next to crater and trees) does too, getting man down (far right, white bead).
The Germans in the northwest fell back to the south, down the road, consolidating their position in the southwest, capturing the Polish machine gun team. Meanwhile, the Poles consolidated in the northeast. Shortly thereafter the remainder of KG Klink arrived, followed hours later by forces from 4th Panzer Division. Upon seeing the force arrayed against them the Poles melted back north across the river.
Good grief, another ass-whooper of a fight. Fifteen games in (actually twenty, but fifteen in this campaign) and I still love the ebb and flow, back and forth, ups and downs these rules bring. One minute you're grinning ear to ear, the next you've got tears in your eyes; I love it! This is friction without being reduced to a spectator.
Having said that, I am supremely peeved that this was the second time an enemy armored beast has savaged my poor infantry. It's not that the tank was overly powerful, it's just that I made a mistake in the initial deployment of my ATG, and never could fully recover from that. So the rules handle armor vs infantry just fine, I just need to handle it a bit better ;) Tough lessons in the school of hard knocks...
-Lt 2nd Lt Wehner (Acting Recon Co Cmdr), Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which halted enemy armored attack,WIA, campaign. Also received Tank Killer Badge.
-Sgt Albrecht (3rd Squad, Eng Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which halted enemy armored attack, KIA. Also received Tank Killer Badge.
-Sgt Behrendt (Acting Plt Cmdr, 2nd M/C Plt), recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which eliminated enemy rifle squad and armored car.
-Cpl Zukert (3rd Squad, 2nd M/C Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, KIA.
-Sgt Klivens (4th Squad, Eng Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, WIA, campaign.
-Cpl Vogel (Mtr Tm, Schwere Plt) Wound Badge, KIA.
-Sgt Kallenbach (ATG, Schwere Plt), Wound Badge.
-Lost ~60 KIA/WIA, 1 ATG, 1 80mm mortar.
-Caused ~40 KIA/WIA, captured ~5 POW, destroyed one light tank, and one armored car.
Lots of Iron Crosses, which goes hand in hand with lots of casualties. Another stalemate, if not an all-out whoopin'. But it was fun! Lots of folks have been commenting on how hard these fights have been, how tough the enemy has been, but in terms of things not going well, like I should be discouraged. I'd be more discouraged if I kept walking over the enemy; what fun is that? The last part of that is that I don't think most folks understand how hard the fighting was in the early war campaigns; by the end of the campaign in Poland, and again in France, the German Army and Air Force was worn down to a nub. But because their victories were so shockingly fast I think a lot of people think there wasn't tough fighting. On the battlefield the Germans usually won, with moderate casualties that bagged them huge numbers of prisoners, then moved on to the next fight, where they again suffered moderate casualties, and netted huge numbers of prisoners.
Of course here I'm not focusing, as an example, on the operational-level maneuver by the Germans which bagged two entire Polish armies; I'm focusing on very small scale, desperate fighting as the Poles try to break out. So it's bloody, and my troops get battered, but we're still winning the campaign. Just like later in the war when I'll probably still be winning plenty of tabletop battles, but losing the war ;)
One more write-up to close the Poland chapter, stay tuned.