Friday, February 26, 2016

Operation Jupiter Batrep #5, The Ridge

All,

We are now upon the fifth fight in Operation Jupiter, the British assault on The Ridge.  So far the British have successfully evicted the Germans from their initial defensive positions at and around the Chateau de Fontaine, and now the Germans are falling back on their next defensive line at and around the village of Eterville.  Between the Chateau and Eterville, the 4th Company of the 457th PanzerGrenadier Abteilung Sauer und Krauthammer, commanded by Captain Eireserb and his 2iC Lt Tokapiksee, is manning an outpost line on an unnamed ridge.  It falls to Major Phillips' D Company, with Lt Canham as his 2iC, of the 5th Westchesterfords North Riding Rangers of the Highland Coldshire Guards (5th WNRRHCG), to clear the path into the village of Eterville.

In real life it's 10 July 1944, and it's 4th Battalion, Dorset Regiment, 130th Brigade, 43rd Wessex Division vs remnants of the Panzergrenadier Regiment, 1st SS Panzer Division.  In real life the Brits very quickly overran the ragtag German outpost line, encountering almost no resistance.

Overview of table, north is left and is the British baseline, south is right and is the German baseline.  The Brits are coming out of a set of wheat fields, across some shorter vegetation/fields, and up a graduated ridgeline that is pretty well forested.

**Go ahead, @#$%ers, make fun, the carpet is back, and not just for the hills, but for the wheat fields, too.  It's not pretty, but it's functional.  I've been telling myself that this is the year I finally invest some time and money and get some decent hills; we'll see.

The opposing forces, Germans on the left, British on the right.

The Brits: at far right is Major Phillips' Command Group, followed by four rifle squads, then three Sherman tanks with 75mm guns and one Firefly with 17-pounder.

In real life these were two x Churchill and two x Crocodile, but I don't have any, so Sherman it is.  Oh, and that's an American Sherman with 76mm gun proxying as the Firefly...

The Germans: At far right is Captain Eireserb's Command Group, then two rifle squads with two Panzerfausts each, then an MG-42 machine gun team, an 80mm mortar with enough ammo only for two fire missions, and two PaK-40 75mm anti-tank guns (ATGs).

Initial set up, with Brits on left and Germans on right.

Looking south to north at the Brit starting positions, from left to right we have the Firefly, Tank 3 (T3), and 4th Section on the left, 3rd Section, the Command Group, and 2nd Section in the center, and 1st Section, T2, and T1 on the right.

Looking north to south at the German defensive positions, from left to right: 1st Squad (in bunker; all German units are treated as dug-in), ATG 1 (just above them), ATG2 (just left of the middle bunker), the Command Group (between ATG 2 and the middle bunker), the MG team (in middle bunker), 2nd Squad (in right bunker), and the 80mm mortar team (top right).

We dice off to see who goes first, and once again I'm incredibly lucky: I win and make him go first.  The reason is that his units start unspotted (stay that way until they fire), so if I had to go first I'd move everyone up but be unable to fire.  So the Germans start it off, uncorking their ambush a bit prematurely.

Again the fight starts with the chatter (ripping) of the MG-42 (bottom left), which puts heavy casualties on 4th Section (top left) on the far British right.

This is immediately followed by ATG1 (bottom center) firing on the tanks on the Brit left (top right)...

T1 (top left) gets its turret ripped off, and T2 (red bead at bottom left) falls back to reassess the situation.  Not good...

1st Section is at top right, 2nd just visible at bottom right.

On the Brit right, T3 (bottom left) moves up to get into the fight and shelter its comrades in 4th Section, but the other German ATG (top right) fires...

SHPLANGGG!!!  T3's turret takes a hit (bottom left center), knocking out the main gun, but miraculously the crew stays with the vehicle to continue the fight (once rallied, of course)!!!

The Firefly pushes ahead (right of T3) and rallies both T3 and 4th Section, then fires its main gun at ATG 2 (top center), forcing them to hunker.

**Game Note: I screwed up, since T3 had just received a negative morale result I shouldn't have allowed myself to rally them until next turn.  Second, all the Germans are treated as dug in, so when they receive a 6 on the Shock die I'm not having them fall back, I'm having them hunker in place, and they'll fall back if they receive another 6, which I think is actually how the rules are written.  I can't remember ;)

In the center, Major Phillips (center, the three figures to the left of the five-man rifle squad) begins sprinting east (top), determined to get to T2 (top left) and help them get back in the fight.

On the German side, Captain Eireserb moves to ATG 2 and gets them back in the fight.

While on the German right, ATG 1 fires on T2 (top right), who's already hunkering.  The 75mm armor piercing round slams into the ground next to T2, missing, but the crew has had enough and decides to go check and see if there's tea ready in the rear (left the table)....

The German MG once again targets the Brit 4th Section (top left)...

But the Brits are not hit, and T3 (bottom center left, with knocked out main gun) returns fire with its bow MG, causing the German MG team to hunker!

And then the Firefly fires an HE round at ATG 2...

KA-BOOM!!!
Captain Eireserb looks on helplessly...

The Firefly (center right) then rumbles forward while 4th Section (bottom center) fires its Bren and rifles at the German 2nd Squad (in bunker at top right)...

The British fire has no effect, but they still get up and move up behind the Firefly, but the Germans return fire, missing.

Captain Eireserb sprints to his MG team and rallies them.

While the German mortar team (bottom right) goes to work, dropping 80mm rounds on the Firefly and 4th Section.  The Firefly is fine, but 4th Section takes heavy casualties.

With the German MG now back in action, Captain Eireserb directs them to fire at 1st Section on the Brit far left (top right)...

And 1st Section is out of the fight (center right, casualty figure, with T1 burning at top left and 2nd Section just visible at bottom center).

Then I get another lucky break with a random event, and I get to move one extra unit without drawing react fire.

Major Phillips' command group decides to move back right (center left group of three figures, with 2nd Section just visible to their left) now that the left flank is shot to pieces, while 3rd Section sprints ahead, up and over the wall (center, with the Firefly and 4th Section to their right).  T3 (at bottom right) fires its bow MG at ATG 1 (top left)...

The .30 caliber rounds are dead on target, hunkering the ATG crew and pinning the German 1st Squad (yellow bead in bunker).

T3 then moves up to shelter and rally 4th Section.

But between the German machine gun and mortar, they've suffered too much and are out of the fight.

What!!!??  I failed a @#$% recovery roll!!!???  Not cool at all; now my infantry are down to half, with both flank sections gone.  I'm seriously starting to wonder if I've got enough grunts to carry this off...

So I go bold: the Firefly rumbles forward to point blank range and fires on the German 2nd Squad's bunker...

Smoking hole in the ground! (bottom right, German MG and Command Group at top left)  This was huge, as if the German rifle squad wasn't fazed, there's no doubt the boy would have had them move forward a little to cut loose with their Panzerfausts.

The German CO, Captain Eireserb, sprints to his right (top center, next to burning ATG 2) to go help the hunkering ATG 1 and 1st Squad (far left).

While the German MG team lays into 3rd Section...

3rd Section (bottom left) is only pinned, but T3 (bottom center, with Firefly at far right) returns fire with its bow MG and hunkers the German MG team!

**Game Note: Every time T3 is shooting, they're either using 1K 1S, 1S, or 2S, depending on how good I figure the shot it, but he never fails to put a hurtin' on someone.  Pretty amazing.

Not wanting to wait on Captain Eireserb to get here and rally them, the crew of ATG 1 tries to self rally, but fails, and the crew falls back, abandoning the gun (far right, with the gun at left)!!!

Major Phillips and Lt Canham know they've got the Germans in a bad way, they just need to get their infantry moving up to capitalize.  Major Phillips and the Command Group hop the wall (center) and look to rally 3rd Section (yellow bead at right center), while 2nd Section sprints up to the wall (far left).

But the rally fails, and 3rd Section actually falls back and hops the wall (bottom center), leaving the British Command Group as the only foot troops on the south side of the wall!  But the Firefly and T3, though very vulnerable and ultimately unable to take the ground without infantry support, push forward (top center right).

The German Command Group sprints right, trying to get to ATG 1's hunkering crew (far right), but they can't quite get there, while the MG team (bottom left) and 1st Squad (top right) both successfully self rally.

Then the boy catches a very lucky break: he rolls a random event, and it's 'Quick Fix,' so ATG 2 (bottom left) has now been re-crewed and is back in action.  Dammit!!!!
Captain Eireserb (far right) successfully rallies the crew of ATG 1, just need to get them back to their gun (top center).

ATG 2 (bottom right) immediately cranks left and fires on the Firefly (top left, with T3 next to it)...

But apparently the gun was re-crewed with riflemen who don't know what the hell they're doing, because the round missed, despite being at point blank range!  The Firefly returns fire with its main gun, sending an HE round back.

KA-BOOM!  For the second time, ATG 2 is out of the fight, and the MG team (far right) is forced to hunker, though they just as quickly self rally it off.

Back in the wheat field, Major Phillips (center left) again tries to rally 3rd Section, but they only get up to pinned!  What the hell is going on with my rally rolls???

The Firefly rolls forward, practically places it muzzle into the German MG team's bunker, and fires.  The MG crew suffers heavy casualties.

Back in the wheat field, 2nd Section (bottom left) fires on the German 1st Squad, to no effect.

But Major Phillips says hell with it, we've got to support the tanks, and so he leads 3rd Section up and over the wall (center).  The German 1st Squad returns fire but misses.

Figuring now's the time, Captain Eireserb signals his mortar team (bottom right), and they fire the last of their ammo off at the British CO and 2nd Section (top left).  2nd Section takes heavy casualties, and the German mortar team packs up and leaves the area.

Apparently I missed a picture, but the German MG team (bunker at right) self rallied, only to have the Firefly pop them with another HE round, putting them right back to 'men down.'

Major Phillips (bottom left) tries to rally 2nd Section (just above them), but they are still dealing with their casualties (stay 'men down'), while T3 (center) rumbles towards the German 1st Squad, firing his bow MG at the enemy bunker to no effect.

Captain Eireserb and Lt Eichtoriel sprint over to their machine gun bunker to rally them back into the fight...

But they've had taken too much punishment (casualty figure)...

Things are looking dire for the Germans; they've got their Command Group, a single rifle squad, and a single anti-tank gun, though the crew is not yet with the gun.

The German commander goes all in: the gun crew sprints back and re-mans the gun (top left), while 1st Squad climbs out of its bunker, moving forward in hopes of getting into range to use a Panzerfaust on T3 (bottom right).  But T3 is vigilant, and as the German infantry emerge from the bunker the tank's bow machine gun chatters, and 1st Squad is stopped in its tracks, taking heavy casualties.

And then T3 (bottom right) turns its bow MG on the remaining German anti-tank gun...

And mows down the crew!!!

Major Phillips (center) rallies 2nd Section (just above the Command Group), and they are finally ready to get back in the fight.

So Major Phillips leads them forward, capturing the remnants of the German 1st Squad and securing The Ridge, while Captain Eireserb and Lt Eichtoriel join their mortar team in falling back on Eterville.

Whew, another great fight, which saw me having some hot dice at times, but a real rough time with rallying, while the boy had an up and down day as well.  I've been consistently amazed at the German inability to take out larger chunks of the British armor; at the beginning of each game I'm thinking there's no way my armor is going to last more than a turn or two, but then somehow they survive, and today the Firefly and T3 carried the day!

So, as in real life, the Germans gave way and fell back on Eterville, and so that's where this coming weekend's games will take place.

Casualties:
British: 30 KIA/WIA, one M4 Sherman destroyed, one M4 Sherman damaged (main gun).
German: 35 KIA/WIA, 5 POW, two PaK-40 ATGs destroyed.

Citations:
The tank commanders of the Firefly and T3 were decorated for valor, the crews were mentioned in dispatches.

Well, I'm caught up on batreps for now, at least.  Five games in and we're still going strong, having a great time.  I had a little negative look at doing this before I started, with knowing how it would keep me from making progress on campaigns I've already got going, as well as painting (all my spare time is playing and writing these up), but I'm glad I did this, the boy and I are having a great time.

More to come.

V/R,
Jack

4 comments:

  1. It does seem a closer fight than the others with wild dice swings but no consistent poor dice rolling on either side.

    I will not comment on the carpet - I am sure that once you reached the "hills" you piled on the attack, laid on support fire to keep your troops covered and rolled up the Germans.

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    1. Shaun,

      It was a great fight, lots of fun for both of us and could have gone either way.

      Piled? Laid on? Covered? Rolled up? You should be ashamed of yourself!

      The boy and I got in one game today (Saturday), looking to get at least one more, hopefully two, tomorrow.

      V/R,
      Jack

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  2. Another epic fight. Really enjoying these. Like the look of the table and there's nothing wrong with carpet hills and fields. We use hessian mats as wheat fields and they look cool.

    Cheers, Andy

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    1. Thanks Andy, glad you like them, and I'm looking for some from you! ;) Anything Winter of '79 and/or 5Core will do.

      I need to get me some of those Hessian mats for fields; the only ones I've found here so far have printed words on them (usually 'welcome'), so you don't get as much usable material...

      V/R,
      Jack

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