Monday, February 29, 2016

Operation Jupiter Batrep #6, The Edge of Town

All,

We are now upon the sixth 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 are attacking the next German defensive line at and around the village of Eterville.  As the British push to the outskirts of Eterville, it falls to the 1st Company of the 457th PanzerGrenadier Abteilung Sauer und Krauthammer, commanded by Captain Sorensen and his 2iC Lt Weidthaus.  In the attack we have Major Dillon's A Company, with Lt Cooman as his 2iC, of the 5th Westchesterfords North Riding Rangers of the Highland Coldshire Guards (5th WNRRHCG).  In the opening attack of Operation Jupiter, Major Dillon's company evicted Captain Sorensen's from the Les Duanes Farm Complex.

In real life it's 10 July 1944, and it's 4th Battalion, Dorset Regiment, 130th Brigade, 43rd Wessex Division vs 1st Battalion, 22nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, 10th SS Panzer Division.  In real life the Brits were bombed by their own air force, but quickly regrouped to fight into the center of town, relying heavily on the Churchills and Crocodiles to shoot the place up.

Overview of map, north is left and the British baseline, south is right and the German baseline.  The Brits are attacking from the direction of the Les Duanes farm, and this is the outskirts of Eterville.  The Brits are attacking and the Germans are defending.  At bottom left is 'the big orchard,' at center is 'the little orchard.'

Overview of forces, with Germans on the left and British on the right.

At far right is Major Dillon and Lt Cooman's command group, then four rifle squads, four Bren carriers, two Sherman 75s, and a Firefly.

The Germans, with Captain Sorensen and Lieutenant Weidthaus's command group at far right, then a tripod-mounted MG-42, two rifle squads (each with two Panzerfausts), then a PaK-40 anti-tank gun (ATG), a Pz Mk IV (with long 75mm gun), and a Sdkfz 251/22, also with long 75mm gun.

Overview of map, Brits on left, Germans on right, with all units in their starting positions.  All German units start the game unspotted, basically won't be seen until they fire or a British unit comes within point blank range (excepting vehicles, of course).

The British start positions: all units are numbered from left to right, with the rifle units being 1st through 4th Sections, the Bren Carriers will be referred to as B1 through B4, the Shermans are T1 and T2, and then there is the Firefly.

The German defensive line in the town of Eterville.  At bottom left is 2nd Squad, just above and to the right of them is the MG42, and then above them (in the little orchard) is 1st Squad.  The CO is in the building at center, with the Pz IV below him, the Sdkfz 251/222 above him and to the right, and the PaK-40 ATG at top right.

We roll to see who goes first and he wins, so he has me go first so I have to get close to this unspotted units without being able to fire.

On the Brit left, B1 and T1 (top left) move around the flank, while 1st and 2nd Sections move through the wood.

In the center,  Major Dillon's command group (dead center) moves forward between B2 and B3, trailed by the Firefly (bottom left) and T2 (bottom center).  2nd Section is just visible in the trees at far left, 3rd Section in the woods at far right.

Which brings us to the British far right, from the opposite angle.  Here we see B4 (bottom left) moving around the right flank, while 3rd and 4th Sections move up in the big orchard.

Looking from behind the German lines, the Pz IV moves over to cover the main road (bottom center left).

**Game note: But then the boy rolls a scurry!  Not good for him at all, he needs to be shooting, doesn't need to be moving.

Looking west to east at the town, the Pz IV sees a bunch of British vehicles moving up (far left), and so he falls back to his starting position, out of sight (bottom right).

**Game note: And then I roll a Scurry!  So things are about to get real close in here.

On the Brit left, B1 leads T1 and 1st Section forward.  The PaK-40, still unspotted, is at top left, and the little orchard (containing the German 1st Squad) is at far right).

The British center (that's 1st Section at far left): B2 and B3 take the main road (center right), moving right up to the little orchard, as the command group and 2nd Section do the same across the fields (center, center left), with the Firefly and T2 in trail.  Contact!

Contact is also raised on the Brit right.  B4 (bottom center) comes around with 4th Section holding at the wall of the big orchard (bottom left), but 3rd Section (top center) runs right into the German 2nd Squad (top right)!

The German Pz IV (bottom right) and Sdkfz 251/22 (far right) take up firing positions.

Looking west to east, here's the current situation.  The opposing forces are practically on top of each other.  Wild, ineffective firing breaks out on both sides, and the Germans, still recovering from the thrashing they received at the hands of the British pre-assault artillery barrage, are in a confused state.

**Game note: Unbelievable!!!  The boy rolled another Scurry!  So I took one for the first turn, he rolled one, I rolled one, and he just rolled another one.

The Germans are confused and need to reorganize their defenses, so Captain Sorensen (bottom center, with Brits across the top) orders his rifle squads to fall back.  1st Squad (bottom right) leaves the little orchard (far right), while 2nd Squad (bottom left) leaves the house they were occupying (far left).

While the Pz IV (bottom center) and Sdkfz 251/22 (center) both fall back, again, out of line of sight.

Looking to take advantage of the defenders' disorganization, Major Dillon orders his units to advance as quickly as possible.

**Game note: You guessed it, I rolled a Scurry.  This is not possible: that is five Scurries in a row.

On the British left, B1 (center left) pinches in while T1 (far left) stays outside.  1st Section follows B1, and 2nd Section follows them by skirting the little orchard (far right).  The German anti-tank gunners (top left) are gritting their teeth.

In center, Firefly moves left (bottom left) behind 2nd Section, while Major Dillon moves up to the little orchard wall, watching B2, B3, and T2 move up main street.  3rd Section dashes ahead and gets into the 2nd floor of the building at center right.

While on the right, 4th Section moves ahead and B4 looks to squeak between the building occupied by 3rd Section and the one just abandoned by the German 2nd Squad (just above 4th Section).

The Pz IV (bottom center) moves west to the German far left flank (German 2nd Squad is in the house next to him, British 4th Section is at top left).

And then Captain Sorensen commands his men to open fire, and all hell breaks loose!

**Game note: Finally!  But the boy rolled a damn Firefight, so not good news for me at all...

On the German right, the fight starts with the PaK-40 firing a 75mm armor piercing round at the nearest Sherman...

T1 (top center) is immobilized and the crew bails, while 1st Section (bottom left) is pinned.  B1 (bottom right) is A-okay though.

In the center (with the little orchard at far right), the German 1st Squad opens up on B2 moving up main street, pinning the little Universal Carrier.

While next to them (1st Squad is at top right), the German MG team (center right, on 1st floor, with German CO on 2nd floor) lays into the British 3rd Section (in building at bottom left, with pinned B2 at center, in intersection with yellow bead).

The heavy fire forces 3rd Section to fall back and hunker (center right), and pins B3 (on road at left, under the also pinned B2).

But then the German Panzer fires on B2!

The carnage is so terrible that both B2 (bottom center) and B3 (just above it, with German 1st Squad just visible at bottom right) are both put out of the fight!

But the Brits on the left get some measure of revenge as B1 (center, with T1 burning at far left) opens fire with its Bren Gun at the German anti-tank gun (top left).

Eliminating it (far right).

Major Dillon sees the casualties but believes they can be overcome if he can only maintain the momentum of the attack; he and Lt Cooman set about pushing, pulling, kicking, and shoving their men forward into the fight.

**Game note: I rolled up a Firefight, but none of my units have LOS to any German units, so it converts to another damn Scurrry.

On the British left (little orchard is at bottom left, German 1st Squad in house at bottom right), 2nd Section moves up and rallies 1st Section (far left), while B1 (top left) darts forward, hoping to get behind the enemy, and moving too quickly for the German Sdkfz 251/22 (far right, behind building holding German 1st Squad) to get a shot off.

Then the Firefly (bottom left) pulls in behind 2nd Section (far left), looking to line up a shot on the German 1st Squad (just visible in building at far right).  Simultaneously, 1st Section sprints into the garden of the house at center (just visible on right side of house).

At far left, Major Dillon moves over and rallies 3rd Section, while 4th Section (center) moves into the house and stares at the German Panzer (bottom right) and 2nd Section (in house next to Panzer).  B4 slides between the two buildings near 3rd and 4th Sections (just visible above 4th Section).

3rd Section moves back into the building (bottom center, with 4th Section to their right, German 1st Squad at top left, and German CO and MG at top center), while T2 (on road left of 3rd Section) begins pushing the burning Bren Carriers out of the way.

Spying a gap in the British line of attack (3rd Section in building at top left, 2nd Section at bottom right), and with their CO and MG team (bottom center left) looking on, the German 1st Squad leaves its building (bottom center right), darts across the street, and takes up position in the little orchard (top center), right next to T2 on the road!!!

**Game note: the boy is crazy!!!

With the German CO and MG team at bottom left, the British 2nd Section just visible in the garden at top center, and worried about B1 getting around their flank (off camera to top right), the Sdkfz 251/22 falls back to cover that flank (bottom right).

The fight has really gotten crazy, with all the units jumbled because of all the Scurries.  Which I like; there's plenty of stories of attackers getting cut to pieces before even getting off their starting line, but there's also plenty of stories about an attacker getting on top of a discombobulated defender and things getting all mixed up, particularly in urban environments.

**Game note: the boy moving his 1st Squad into the little orchard was basically what I would call (in retrospect) 'the play of the game.'

In the little orchard, the German 1st Squad creeps to the wall and fires a Panzerfaust at T2...

T2 (top left) is blown sky high.  In the resulting confusion the German 1st Squad dashes across the street into close combat with the British 3rd Squad!

**Game note: as I said, the boy is crazy, charging a rifle squad that is not pinned/hunkered/men down.  But I let him charge with no react fire as his men were coming onto the flank of the Brits, out of the flames and smoke.

The German squad defeats the British in close combat...

Then charges down out of the building and into melee with the crew of B4 (again, due to circumstances - on the flank, coming out of the building previously occupied by their buddies - I didn't let the Brits react fire)...

Then I missed a damn picture...  The Germans easily whacked the crew of the Bren Carrier, then began eyeing the flank of the British 4th Section.  Being the last friendly unit on the Brit center/right, Major Dillon moved his command group up to 4th Section to support them in the upcoming close combat.

But the German 1st Squad was just unstoppable, they win again!  They started this off by firing a Panzerfaust and knocking out a Sherman, then charged a British Rifle Section, then a Bren Carrier, then another Rifle Section and the British HQ Group, winning them all.

Having beat the British 4th Section (bottom right casualty figures), the German 1st Squad moved back into the house they beat 3rd Section in (center building, with German 2nd Squad at top right, Panzer just off screen to far right, the German CO and MG team at top center, and the Sdkfz 251/22 off camera to top left).

Feeling aggressive, perhaps too much so, the Sdkfz 251/22 moves around the right flank (bottom right), but the British B1 (top right) react fires with its Bren gun (British 2nd Section at center, 1st Section above them and to the right, and the Firefly at top center).

Forcing the German tank-killer to fall back and hunker (far left, from explosion at bottom center)!!!

With the German MG team at bottom left, Captain Sorensen leads his command group in a sprint to help the Sdkfz 251/22 (top right), but they don't make it.

With the CO and Sdkfz 251/22 at far right, the German MG team moves up (center, from building at bottom center), and draws fire from the Brit 2nd Section.

Forcing them to fall back and hunker (far right, from building at center, with Brit 2nd Section at far left).

Things are looking up.

The British Firefly (bottom left) repositions then fires on the German 1st Squad (the close combat heroes, bottom right), pinning them.  The German MG team is at center right, German CO at top right but blocked by the building, and Brit 2nd Section at center left.

British 2nd Section creeps up the street...

And into close combat with the hunkering German MG team.  Sensing the fight hanging in the balance, Captain Sorensen rushes into the melee to aid his MG team...

But the German MG team and HQ Group are put out of the fight!

2nd Section (top center) then begins moving towards the hunkering Sdkfz 251/22 (top right), but the Panzer IV (bottom right) react fires with its coax machine gun!

But the British riflemen dash through the hail of bullets and into close combat with the German vehicle crew.

The German tank hunter (bottom right) is destroyed, and 2nd Section falls back into cover (building at top center, overlooking the casualties of the German MG team and HQ Group).

Both commanders have been put out of the fight in close combat!

But then the German Panzer crawls forward and fires a high explosive round into the building 2nd Section is taking cover in.

And the British 2nd Section is knocked out!

And with that the fight is over.  Lt Cooman directs the remnants of his company (Firefly, one Bren Carrier, and one Rifle Section) to fall back, as Lt Weidthaus and the remnants of his company (Panzer IV and two Rifle Squads) look on, exhausted.

But there's no two ways about it, this was a solid German victory, turning back a much larger British force from the outskirts of Eterville.  Both sides suffered horrendous casualties, to include their commanders, both severely wounded and evacuated.  It proved to be a Pyrric victory for the Germans as, almost immediately, British Typhoon fighter bombers appeared overhead, and their ground attacks were immediately followed by a 25-pounder barrage that compelled the Germans to fall back before the following infantry and armor even really came into view.

Casualties:
-Major Dillon WIA, evacuated.
-45 WIA/KIA, two Shermans knocked out, three Universal Carriers knocked out.
-Captain Sorensen WIA, evacuated.
-20 KIA/WIA, one Sdkfz 251/22 destroyed.

Holy @#$%, what a fight!  It started off looking good for the boy, I scurry, he's ready to ambush, but then he scurries, but then I scurry again, next thing you know we are seriously intermingled.  Which wasn't so bad for my attack, but threw off his defense a bit.  But then he seized the day by pushing 1st Squad forward, back into the little orchard, in reaction to my scurry move.  And when it was his turn that squad cleaned the floor with me, taking out a tank, my CO, a Bren carrier, and two Rifle Sections!  I was able to even the score a bit with my 2nd Section, getting his CO, MG team, and Sdkfz 251/22.

Citations:
-The British Corporal in charge of 2nd Section was decorated for valor, posthumously.
-The German Sergeant in charge of 1st Squad was decorated for valor.
-Both commanders (Major Dillon and Captain Sorensen) were decorated for valor for their vain attempt to halt an enemy attack/counterattack.

Well, we got three fights in this past weekend, this is the first of them, two more to come.

V/R,
Jack

4 comments:

  1. A real knife fight. Where's the nutter with a Webley when you need him.

    Excellent. You need some Crocodiles though, makes the Jerrys feel toasty!

    Cheers, Andy

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    1. Andy,

      Yeah man, it was pretty wild, and he'd have beat me a lot worse if I hadn't had the turn of luck at the end to be able to close assault a couple of his hunkered teams.

      They had a nutter with a Webley, Major Dillon (AKA "The War Panda" on TMP and TWW), he just wasn't up to our good old "Mad Andy's" snuff ;)

      I'm with ya on scorchin' some Nazis (pronounced Nat-zees), but I'm afraid the defense budget, as well as the painting time budget, can't support that at this juncture.

      V/R,
      Jack

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  2. Excellent battrep. I do like the way the Scurrys created an interesting narrative. It is one of the things I like about the 5core and card based stuff is it can sometimes throw up interesting storylines. It makes
    the game more fun!

    you got further with the Brits than I did when I played the scenario. I think I nearly made it to the house on the left flan, and lots of carnage in the little orchard. The British just don't have enough forces to sustain the assault, even if the Germans don't have much either.

    I would say your boy is definitely inspired. He does the unexpected, and it pays off. Of course, if it had gone badly, and you had fired on them it would have gone badly :-( I am not surprised the German 1st Squad sergeant got decorated - he deserved it. He may even deserve a name if he crops up again :-)

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    Replies
    1. Shaun,

      Thanks man, and I love the 5Core activation system exactly because of this type of stuff. Again, you read all the time about weird stuff happens, and it's not possible in most rules (or it's overdone).

      And yeah, the Brits have a rough time (I'm only saying that 'cause I lost). Obviously the Germans have the advantage of picking their lanes of fire, and I allowed them to start hidden to boot, and the boy wisely kept his Pz IV and Sdkfz 251/22 out of LOS until they were able to engage. I found it very interesting that there was no tank vs tank (including the Sdkfz) fighting; the ATG and Panzerfausts did the tank killing, though the Pz IV did get two Universal Carriers. With one shot, so keep your intervals (another mistake I made...).

      The boy's not inspired, he's crazy!!! And it certainly doesn't work every time, you'll see him try to repeat this feat in the next batrep, and he stings me, but it doesn't go nearly as well. But he's certainly got a taste for the close combat now.

      And yeah, I think the German Sergeant is gonna have to get a name, particularly now that Capt Sorensen went down.

      V/R,
      Jack

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