Thursday, June 16, 2016

Prelude - The Battle of Three-Stripe Hill

All,

In mid-November 1942 Easy Company came ashore in Oran, Algeria, too late for the fighting, such as it was.  Since then they'd been on one dusty road or trail, marching east to the sound of gunfire.  They'd been bombed, strafed, and bombarded, but so far the GIs of Easy Company had yet to see the enemy.  The Vichy French had been a relative push over in and around the invasion beaches, and then quickly surrendered and joined the Allies.  Allied armor quickly put ashore and then brushed the Italians back on their way into Tunisia.  But Tunisia was where the British and US armored formations finally encountered Rommel's famed Afrika Korps, and things were not going well.

Allied forces, previously racing for Tunis and Bizerte, switched over to the defensive, which finally allowed the footsore dogfaces of Easy Company to catch up to the frontline.  Allied armor pulled back to form a mobile reserve, while the infantry pushed forward to seize strong defensive positions on hilltops and near rivers.  The Skipper of Easy Company received his orders: the company was to move forward and seize the crest of Hill 302, and word was the Germans were thinking the same thing.  The Skipper studied the map, thinking it's gonna be quite a hike, but the slope of the hill is pretty gentle before leveling of to a small saucer of a plateau a hundred or so yards across, with a small pimple in the center being the highest point on Hill 302.  The crest should be easy to spot, what with the rubble of an old temple sitting atop it.

The Skipper issued his orders, and junior officers and NCOs set about getting the green troops of Easy Company ready for their task, and their first fight, against hardened German panzer grenadiers no less!  Easy formed up in route column and set off in the cool morning dark, and a 90-minute hump saw them on a rock strewn trail a couple hundred yards from the base of Hill 302.  And that's when it started: "INCOMING!!!"

The Skipper and other leaders of Easy Company pressed the men forward, but scores were dropped by the ferocious German artillery barrage.  "Keep pushing!"  The men of Easy Company struggled under the weight of the gear, weapons, and ammunition, as well against the fear wrought by the sharp crack of enemy artillery impacts and shrapnel whizzing by.  But the Skipper kept pushing, and in the lead, he soon broke out onto the plateau, with the crest not thirty yards away.  "Double time!"

The Skipper led but a handful of Easy Company up to the crest...

Quickly occupying the old temple.  He gave a quick look around; there was only him, a trusty Sergeant with his Tommy Gun, and then a group of four raw Privates, though two of them were humping a .30 caliber machine gun into the rubble to set up.

The Skipper looked back the way they'd come: the remainder of Easy Company was strung out over nearly a mile, with 105mm high explosive rounds still landing amongst them.  Here and there a Lieutenant or Sergeant was trying to cajole the men forward, but the reality was the unit was no longer combat effective, with scores of young men cowering among the scores of dead and dying littering the rock-strewn trail.  Still more were tending to wounded comrades, or leading wounded buddies to the rear.  At that point the enemy artillery barrage picked up in volume, and shifted very near the backside of the temple; they're isolating the objective from the rest of the company!  They must have infantry near...

The Skipper looked back to the east (top right) and saw a platoon of Kraut infantry advancing on his little band of stalwarts.

The German infantry beginning moving up the hill, firing as they go, and the machine gunner goes down.

The Skipper and Sarge return fire, while the assistant gunner moves to pick up the machine gun.

The Skipper's rounds drop one German and pin another (left),while Sarge's bullets put a German down (white bead) and hunker two more (red beads).

A hunkered German (top right) tries to rally but runs off the map, while two more move up and fire, but hit nothing.

The harried GIs return fire, pinning one (top left) and putting another down (right).

The Germans continue to push forward, pouring fire into the ruins; the Skipper falls (bottom left).

Another German self rallies, while his buddy takes steady aim and drops Sarge (bottom left).

The two Germans shake off the effects of being pinned (yellow beads), while another moves to the man on the ground (white bead) and checks him, getting him back in the fight.  Several more move to the base of the hill.

A Private finally gets the machine gun into action, killing one German.

But the Germans swarm in the center, and the new machine gunner goes down in a hail of fire (center).

A raw-boned young Private rushes forward, picks up the Browning MG, and pours fire into a German at point blank range, killing him.

On the right, the last remaining US rifleman moves up and fires, but misses.

More members of the German platoon enter the map (top).

The young Private sprays .30 caliber rounds at the enemy, but he's under intense pressure and scared.  The rounds hunker one German (red bead).

Nice shooting, !@#hole...

The Germans converge on the center...

And the machine gunner is cut to shreds.  The last remaining GI tosses a grenade (blue bead)...

And opens fire across the ruins, dropping the enemy rifleman there (top).

And then the grenade explodes...

Dropping three more Germans.  The young Private feeds a new belt into the Browning and charges the weapon, determined to stand his ground.

But they just keep coming: the Germans move up, firing all the way.  A bullet hits the Private in the shoulder, but he remains in the fight.

And he returns fire, dropping two more (center right) and pinning three Germans.

More Germans fire from the left; the Private flinches, but is otherwise unaffected.

As one of their comrades charges into the ruins...

The Private dispatches him with his trench knife, then tosses the German's body back over the wall.

I'm still here, ya damn dirty Krauts.

More German infantrymen arrive, and the Private immediately turns the machine gun on them...

Three more Germans fall.

While more enemy troops move in on the left, rounds ricocheting off the stone walls.

More Germans arrive as the Private turns the gun on them, firing form the hip...

Two more Germans fall, and two more are hunkered (red beads).

But the enemy just keeps coming, this time from the right.  Enemy rounds slam into the stone walls again; one ricochets off the wall and slams into the Doughboy's right thigh, wounding him a second time.

The .30 cal hammers more rounds out, tracers kicking to and fro amongst the enemy soldiers, but more come on the table.

But the burst fells two more enemy soldiers, pinning one and hunkering another.

Several Germans rally as a German Corporal fires his MP-40 at the Private.  The young American's body shudders yet again, as a round tears kicks off the wall and into his ribcage.  Under this covering fire a German rifleman sprints up to the ruins (left).

The Private, feeling woozy from loss of blood, is brought back to the present by the pain.  He returns fire on his tormentors (top right), as even more appear on the battlefield (bottom right).  One enemy soldier falls and another hunkers.

The two hunkering enemy soldiers (red beads) rally back into the fight, as another German moves up and fires, the round whizzing by the GI's face.

The Private swings the gun left and cuts loose a long burst...

Dropping two more enemy soldiers and hunkering one.

Germans move up on the far right and fire, but they don't have a clear shot on the GI and the rounds impact harmlessly on the stone walls.

The Private moves to the doorway and returns fire, killing one German and pinning another.

The two hunkering Germans at top right rally, and the enemy troop on the left hops the wall and charges into close combat with the Private, who only just glances the enemy in his periphery and turns to receive the charge...

The hard-pressed dogface again plunges his trench knife into an enemy, then throws the body over the wall.  A nearby German NCO peers around the wall (bottom right).

But the Private doesn't see the German NCO and pours fire into more Germans in the center, pinning one and hunkering another.

The German NCO primes a grenade and tosses it into the ruins...

But it hits the Private in the stomach, falling to the floor.  He quickly scoops it up and flicks it back at the German, now joined by three comrades!

KA-BOOM!!!

As the four nearest Germans are done in by their own grenade, the remainder of the German platoon decides they've had enough, falling back, conceding Hill 302 to this lone, crazed, defiant Amerikaner.  The lone Private collapses from loss of blood, unconscious...

Approximately 45 minutes later American troops began to appear at the crest of Hill 302, fanning out to secure the ruins.  "What the hell happened here?"  "Holy cow, look at this place.  What a fight!"  "Who did this?"  "Sarge, look, there's 27 dead Germans up here.  Oh no, we've got some dead GIs, too.  Hey, Sarge, this one's alive!"  "Medic!"

GIs crowded around as the medic pushed in and began treating the lone survivor of the Battle of Hill 302, or what would soon be known as the Battle of Three-Stripe Hill.  "Is he gonna make it Doc?"  "I dunno, it's pretty bad.  He's been hit three times, lost a lot of blood."  "Who is this guy?"  "I dunno, never seen him before.  Check his dogtags."  "C'mon, what's it say."  Frank Rock.

Well, whaddaya think?  I had a good time; sure, I had to cheat a bit.  Specifically, once the Americans were down to one, I gave him some extra actions.  I mean, it was down to 1 vs 12 at a time, with dead bad guys reappearing on the table edge; so I gave him a few extra fire actions, and twice I let him do more than he should have in a single activation (move up, fire, and throw a grenade; move up, pick up the MG, and fire).  I gave him a modest bonus in close combat, and I told myself I'd have him go down the third time he got hit, but I didn't.  I then told myself I'd have him go down if he got hit a fourth time; luckily I didn't have to see what I've had done ;)  I didn't cheat on shooting though; as a matter of fact, his shooting was quite crappy quite a few times.

Please forgive the ultra simple table.  I was more focused on seeing if I could actually do something on a 12" x 12" board, rather than dressing it up.  The whole point was to play a quick game with minimal set up and figures, and I think it worked.  Having said that, I will try to do better in the future in making the board a bit more appealing.

What I need from you guys is scenario ideas.  We're talking about 5-8 GIs vs 6-12 Germans in North Africa; Mr. Rod Robertson has already provided a few good ideas, I'd love to see if anyone has more.

Pvt Rock recuperated quickly and rejoined his unit.  There he was offered a battlefield commission, but he turned it down, instead accepting meritorious promotion to Master Sergeant, becoming the "Top Sergeant" in Easy Company, which had just had its ranks brought back to full strength by cleaning out the misfits and rear echelon troops from various headquarters and service companies.  More to follow.

V/R,
Jack

12 comments:

  1. That was a royal mother****er of a battle. Straight comic, well done :-)

    Fitting the subject matter perfectly.


    For future missions, I hear the Krauts have brought one of their new secret weapon, the "Tiger" tank. Someone's gotta go blow it up.

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    1. Ivan,

      Yeah man, it was pretty damn fun, and worked out great. Only problem is, I don't have a Tiger in 15mm... I've got a Stug III (long) and a Pz Mk III (50mm). Guess they'll have to do...

      V/R,
      Jack

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    2. I mean, its not like Sergeant Rock was known for its intense historical realism :-)

      Make the Stug a prototype German tank hunter with an evil captain that has devastated allied tank platoons on his own.

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    3. Certainly! I like the enemy tank ace idea; Rock and the boys have to ferret it out and handle it when the tankers can't.

      V/R,
      Jack

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  2. Despite your reservations, it seemed to work on the 12"x12". And, as Ivan pointed out, very comic book-y. Loved it!

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    1. Yeah, I think it worked. But what do you think, Mr Travers? I'm hoping it's "That was amazing Jack, and now I'm inspired to go play and post ten games in the next two weeks." ;)

      I'm still a little worried about 12" X 12"; there's just not much room to do anything but shoot or charge into melee.

      V/R,
      Jack

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    2. I am already inspired to play 10 games in two weeks, just don't have the time. I am watching sonme ww2 movies and soon Combat! while I make the kids' lunches in the mornings. I have had a skirmish game underway for the last week but seem to only have play about 30 minutes in total over 3 10 minutes sessions. I know, I know, I have the time, I just need to prioritise!

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    3. Prioritised and finished the game. So a report sometime.

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    4. Well, excellent! This seems to have taken care of itself ;)

      You know, I've never seen Combat. I need to get on that. And try as I might, I can't seem to play a bit of a game, leave it, and come back, the way you do. I either sit down and play the whole thing, or I don't play at all...

      In any case, I look forward to your batrep. This must be the modified NUTS!, right? Hope all is well, take care Shaun.

      V/R,
      Jack

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    5. Throughout the 70s in Oz, Combat and Star Trek (The original series) were shown every Sunday at midday. Mandatory viewing for me. Although I have not seen an episode of Combat! since I was about 15, so it may not stand the test of time.

      I can play games in one sitting and did quite a few of my ancent battles last year in one go. It goes so fast! It is over just after you start. Nothing like a game taking a week or two (elapsed) that is really only about 30-40 minutes actual playing time. One good thing is is separates the setting up with the playing, and as we both know, with fast games the setup can take longer than the game :-( I do note this probably wasn't the case with your Sgt Rock game :-)

      It is the modified NUTS! Streamlined a lot for fast play, especially the combat and using 1d6 rather than 2d6. Still plays very similar to NUTS!

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    6. Shaun,

      Yeah, I recollect watching Star Trek very regularly with my Old Man. But Saturday morning it was "The Rat Patrol," two jeeps with .50 cals that vroomed and zoomed to and fro in the desert, taking out halftracks and panzers with their machine guns.

      Well, we had a quick game of Naps today; the reason it was so quick was that the boy knocked the hell out of me! I spent some time on a decent set up, hope you all appreciate it! The Sgt Rock table was indeed pretty quick ;)

      I found myself looking at NUTS! again, pondering whether I should buy the latest version or not. Must resist...

      V/R,
      Jack

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    7. I find that the 2HW versions don't change an awful lot between editions, so if you liked the last one, you'll like the new one too.

      We played 2HW as our primary games for a few years.

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