Sunday, May 20, 2018

Blood & Guts, Tunisia, Fight #6


It's now 1430 on 2 April 1943, and the squad has been tasked to patrol into the north end of village to facilitate the linkup between the infantry and the tankers sitting tight, waiting for reinforcement.  Privates Saxon and McGovern were escorting German prisoners to the rear, but SGT Cherry grabbed the remainder of his squad and led them into the north end of Al-Egheila.  SGT Cherry seemed a bit confused about the assignment, but the Lieutenant spelled it out: the tank platoon had gotten into a big dust-up in the north end of town, knocked out a couple panzers, but they'd suffered some damage and, rather than pursue the enemy, and not wanting to fall back, they took up defensive positions to the east and called for help.  SGT Cherry's squad was the spearhead for the company pushing into the north end of the village and needed to clear it of any enemy infantry behind the friendly tanks, then push east to link up with them.

The opposing forces, with doughboys on the left and Afrika Korps on the right.

I played the first few skirmishes with Five Men in Normandy, but now I've returned to my favorite, Five Men at Kursk, and the games were a blast (got four in this past weekend).  I'm playing in 15mm with Battlefront/Flames of War troops, Warzone hills, Wargamer's Terrain roads and rivers, and Crescent Root buildings.

The GIs, led by SGT Cherry (bottom right), with a BAR (PFC Burress), a grenadier (PVT Porter), and three rifleman (CPL Petry, PVT Graham, and PVT Eatman).

The Germans, consisting of an MG-42 team and two riflemen with Mauser 98Ks.

Overview, north is up.  This is the northern end of the Arab village of Al-Egheila, with a scattering of trees and buildings, a few hillocks, a hardball road, and Sgt Steiner's burning Panzer IV at top center (Cpl Stichle's abandoned Pz IV is just off camera to top center).  The US troops are scattered across the southern (bottom) half of the table, while the Germans are spread across the northern (top) half.

The US, looking west to east, from bottom to top: Eatman, Graham, Burress, SGT Cherry, Porter, and CPL Petry.

The Germans, looking west to east, from bottom to top: rifleman (bottom center), MG team (center), and other rifle (top center).  Time to fight!

And, predictably, the fight begins with the German machine gun (bottom left) opening fire on the Yanks.

Eatman, Graham, and Burress are all pinned (yellow beads), but, miraculously, no one is hit!!!

The gun follows Eatman and Graham as they take cover.

Suppressing Eatman (red bead).

From the far left (German right), the rifleman there (bottom left) sights in on the US BAR gunner, Burress (top right), and fires his Mauser.

SGT Cherry looks on as Burress wilts under the incoming rain of bullets, suppressing him.

The German right-hand rifleman (bottom right) fires on Porter and CPL Petry (top left, with SGT Cherry and Burress at top center).

Pinning the Corporal and suppressing the grenadier.

With men suppressed on either side of him, SGT Cherry levels his Tommy Gun (bottom center) and returns fire.

Before turning around and screaming at Burress to get his ass back in the fight.  He does.

SGT Cherry slaps a fresh magazine in his Tommy Gun and goes back to work on the German right-hand rifleman...

Suppressing him (building at top center) and dashing ahead (center, from bottom right).

"Damn, look at Sarge go (center)," Burress thinks to himself, before turning the BAR (bottom right) on the enemy MG team (top left) and opening fire, pinning the gunner.

But that damn left-hand German rifleman (bottom left) keeps taking his potshots at Burress (top right)...

And he suppresses him (left) again!  Meanwhile, CPL Petry crawls over to Porter (top right) and rallies him.

And then Porter (bottom right) turns his rifle on the German MG team (top left) and begins capping away.  But the puny Garand doesn't do much to the enemy gun team in the thick, stone building, and they quickly turn the gun on Porter and CPL Petry, though their fire is also ineffective.

Back on the left, Graham turns and rallies his buddy, Eatman.

Who then dashes around the far left.

And starts popping away (bottom center) at the German far left rifleman (top left)...

But Eatman rushed the shot (top left) and missed, and the German (top right, with their MG team at bottom left) snap fires in return, suppressing him!

The German MG team (bottom center) keeps up the fire on Burress, Porter, and CPL Petry...

And they are not enjoying themselves.

The German right-hand rifleman (far right) is trying to keep his bottle...

But he's not enjoying himself, either, and so he decides to step out back for a smoke.

As he's enjoying his smoke (top left), the German far right rifleman decides to sprint toward the building with the MG team (center right, from bottom right), but he doesn't quite make it to cover, and the assistant gunner rallies the machine gunner, just as...

Porter (bottom right) raises up and pops a rife grenade at the MG team (top left).

The round is a little long, but it does re-pin the machine gunner (yellow bead at right, left-hand rifleman at far left).

CPL Petry (right) rallies Porter...

Then dashes down the slope and rallies Burress (red bead).

Burress (bottom right) immediately gets the BAR back in action, pinning both members of the enemy MG team (top left).

On the left, Eatman (red bead) self rallies, and winks at his buddy Graham (yellow bead).  Graham winks back...

Then turns (bottom center) and exchanges gunfire harmlessly with the enemy left-hand rifleman (top center left).

CPL Petry and Burress (bottom right) keep firing up the enemy MG team (top left) as SGT Cherry dashes right (top center right, on the road, between the building and the telephone pole, from the building at center).

SGT Cherry (left) edges up to the corner of the building; the German rifleman (right) here's him and decides it's time to get back in the fight.

Back on the left, the German rifleman there (bottom right, with the German MG team at bottom center) reloads and sends more rounds at Graham (top left), suppressing him.

Before moving left (center, from explosion at bottom center right).

The German machine gun team (bottom center) slaps a fresh belt in and cuts loose on CPL Petry and Burress (center top, with Porter above them), pinning CPL Petry again.

**I can't believe how lucky I've been, the German MG has had some atrocious die rolls!!!

While CPL Petry (yellow bead at bottom center right) flinches, Burress slaps another 20-round magazine in the BAR and keeps tattooing the stone walls of the German MG team's house (top left), suppressing the gunner!

The assistant gunner, though pinned (yellow bead), screams at the gunner to snap out of it!

But he's not having it, and he dashes downstairs and out the back door (red bead at bottom left), ending up next to the left-hand rifleman!

Eatman pulls up next to Graham and rallies him (bottom left), then pops away at the poor German assistant gunner (top center)...

While Graham dashes across the street (center top).

CPL Petry and Burress (bottom right) keep banging away at the house, suppressing the assistant gunner.

CPL Petry (yellow bead) rallies...

Then dashes forward (center left, from bottom center, where Burress is firing his BAR.  Porter is at bottom right an SGT Cherry is at top center).  CPL Petry peeks around the corner...

But the German left-hand rifleman (center right) spots him (top center) and cuts loose.

Dropping CPL Petry.  SGT Cherry dashes over (center, from far right)...

And empties his magazine in the German's general direction...

Causing him to fall back, suppressed, next to the machine gunner.

With CPL Petry down (left), Porter dashes up (next to the telephone pole, from bottom right).

While the German far right rifleman finally decides to get his butt back in the fight.  He noses out from behind the building, sidles up the wall, and peeks his head around the corner (far left, from center)...

He (right) spots Porter and fires, knocking the grenadier down!

Burress (bottom left) sees Porter (just right of the tracer) go down; he turns and fires his BAR at the German rifleman, knocking him down!

On the German right, all three men are trying to rally themselves back into the fight.

The MG team both pull through okay, but the right-hand rifleman runs for it (bottom center, from center), feeling the need to put a bit more distance between himself and the encroaching Yanks.

Having knocked down the far-right rifleman (white bead at top right, with Porter knocked down just below him), Burress (bottom center) turns his BAR on the German assistant gunner again (top center left), pinning him with covering fire for Graham (top left).  SGT Cherry (center top right) is not sure whether to go left or right...

He goes right (top center, from far left), stumbling upon the German rifleman Burress knocked down.

SGT Cherry finishes the German off...

Then falls back across the road to check on Porter; he's okay, back in the fight.

With SGT Cherry and Porter hugging it out at top right and Burress and his BAR blazing away at bottom right, Eatman (bottom left) steadily squeezes off rounds at the German MG position (top center left), keeping the assistant gunner pinned down.

Eatman then dashes into the street, joining his buddy Graham.  But Graham is angry...

Grahm busts into the ground floor.  Finding nothing, he dashes up the stairs, coming up behind the enemy assistant gunner.

Graham finishes him off, then heads back downstairs and out the back door...

Straight into the enemy machine gunner!  The two tangle and fall to the ground...

Before each of them scurries free and finds shelter, suppressed, Graham ducking back into the house (bottom left) and the German diving behind a mound of earth (top center).

The remaining enemy rifleman falls back, joining the suppressed machine gunner.  They yammer at each other, trying to decide on a plan of action...

But SGT Cherry has quickly pushed his squad forward and the two Germans are captured.

SGT Cherry and Porter drop back to check on CPL Petry.  It's not good; while the squad has cleared the northern end of the village, killing two and capturing two, Corporal Petry was shot in the head.  Evacuated to the US, he would go on to recover, but was medically retired from the Army due to being deemed legally blind and severe recurring migraines.  It really hurt the squad as CPL Petry had proven himself an incredible soldier, decorated for valor and meritoriously promoted for his combat leadership skills.  "Damn Sarge," Porter lamented, "are any of us going to make it out of this in one piece?"  "I don't know, Alvin, looks like this will be a long war."

And with that, the squad consolidated its position.  Once the platoon joined it they pushed east and linked up with the tankers, who promptly beat feet back to the rear to take care of their wounded and damaged vehicles.  The rest of the company swung around like a garden gate, then began pushing east from a northwestern position, but almost immediately they came under heavy fire from a machine gun position atop a low ridge just east of the squad's location.  A low ridge the squad was in perfect position to flank.



  1. A typically excellent report. The GIs did seem to need a bit of luck to avoid being cut down by that MG.

    What are the differences between 5MIN & 5MAK? And why do you prefer the second?

    1. John,

      Thanks, and you're absolutely right. I think I commented in several of the batreps how bad the German MG dice were! And it gets even worse: an MG catches the bazooka team in the open and doesn't hit anyone (I think it's the next fight)!

      In 5MIN you roll a single activation dice for your entire team/squad/side: a 1 is a "Scurry" (all your men get to move but not fire, followed by all enemy soldiers in position to see your guys move doing the same), a 6 is a "Firefight" (all your men get to shoot but not move, followed by all enemy soldiers with LOS and with good enough morale to shoot being able to return fire), and 2-5 means a percentage, typically one of every three troops, gets to activate by moving and shooting, subject to reactive fire.

      In 5MAK, you roll one activation dice for each man, with Scurries, Firefights, and Normal activations much as in 5MIN, then assign the dice to your individual troops.

      So the big difference is that in 5MAK every troop activates every turn (and in my version of 5MAK, troops in good morale are able to act AND react every turn), so the firefight is point blank and the pace furious. So 5MIN is probably more realistic, but I prefer 5MAK for these micro battles on death ground because, as 'death ground' suggests, it's kill or be killed.


  2. Hello Jack,

    Another great report. Sergeant Cherry makes good in the firefight - I did note that there was nothing bad said about him after the intro to the battle. Of course, he may not make it through the next one.

    6 GIs Vs 1 MG and 2 riflemen and the GI come out of top? As you say, appalling dice rolls from the German point of view!

    1. Why are you always on the wrong side of history? Six GIs, or one Marine, should easily take out a German machine gun. I thought you watched ‘Combat!’

      On a more serious note, I submit that the role of MGs is to kill and break up formations between 900 and 300 yards, but that if you can get inside of that they’re not so hot, which is why rifle squads in the defense are tasked with protecting the guns. There are caveats to this, of course, most notably multiples of guns firing the FPF (gun being turned full left while his partner gun swings full right, firing at the cyclic rate, intersecting about ten yards in front of your defensive line) or singles covering a true choke point (think an MG-42, 50-200 yards away, covering the one gap in the hedgerow), but generally speaking, machine guns are not designed to win the close-in fight, Hollywood notwithstanding.


    2. Hello Jack,

      You are right, I keep foregoing the scale of your fights are at very close range. I do remember seeing your comments on close range MG effectiveness and doing some more googling on it. I even modified my homebrew rules to take into account MG for at shorter (about 100m I think I set it to but that was more a result of how the various gun ranges interact and movement rate of infantry). So I am now enlightened that a couple of GIs can take on an MG nest and win, I guess that is why in Hollywood they take out 3 or 4 MG nests - just to make it completely unrealistic!

    3. Googled it??? You swine! If I say it, there's no need to Google anything ;)

      Again, forget what John Rambo has taught us regarding machine gun employment, machine gun nests are actually quite easy to take out IF you can get close to them and they are not screened by riflemen. An MG on a bipod, much less assault firing one (a la Rambo), is nothing more than a belt fed rifle, only louder and less accurate. I gotcha on the 100m roundoff to work with rules mechanisms, makes sense to me.

      To understand MG employment and the real-life ranges involved, you really need to go outside, on similar terrain, and look through the lens of 900 mils, then you might somewhat understand why guns get locked into a T&E and the purpose of primary, alternate, and tertiary positions, maybe even squad/platoon/ company fireplans.

      Ivan and I burned through a lot of electrons a couple years ago, still haven't figured out how to model MGs in wargames...


  3. Yep, having never been in combat or in the armed forces I rely on people like you to tell me how it really is and not how they show on TV.

    1. Come on man, vegemite isn’t that bad ;)


    2. You are right. I used to think it was vile and one of the most disgusting things ever to put on toast. Now I am older I just don't like it.

    3. I was just making light of your military/combat remarks. It’s not that the stuff is unknowable (hell, even I learned it), it’s just there’s a lot of misinformation out there.