Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Blood & Guts, Tunisia, Fight #7

All,

It's now 1545 on 2 April 1943, and SGT Cherry's squad, joined by the rest of the platoon, has consolidated its hold on the north end of Al-Egheila.  As the men checked ammo and medical supplies, then busted out C-rations and smokes, the company's two other rifle platoons got up and moving on the left (north).  It didn't take but a minute for several MG-42s, dug in on a ridgeline to the east, to announce their presence, pinning the rest of the company in the open ground north of the village.  As always, their platoon leader, Lt Pelluer, came running up breathlessly, looking for SGT Cherry, and when he found him, it wasn't good news.  Once again the squad was being summoned to action.

SGT Cherry quickly outlined the plan: the other two squads would lay down fire while his squad moved right and rolled up the flank of the German machine gun nest.  Sounded like a simple, expedient, and effective tactical plan.  Only problem was the Yanks, now blooded but still becoming masters of their art, cut back a little too soon, so rather than pop up behind the enemy's southwestern-most MG position, they came out kind of parallel to it, which soon proved to be very bad news...


Overview, north is up.  This is the eastern end of the Arab village of Al-Egheila, with a scattering of trees and buildings, a few hillocks, and a hardball road running east-west across the top.  The objective is the MG position atop the hill at bottom right.  The hill spread across the right side of the board is the southwest end of a ridge that extends off camera to top right; the idea is that the Germans have this MG position, plus another three or four on the ridge off camera, and that if the squad can take this one out the GIs will be able to roll up the entire German position on the ridge. 

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.

SGT Cherry (bottom right) is leading what's left of the squad.  After three firefights, they are down from twelve to seven men.  They have a Tommy Gun, a BAR, a rifle grenadier, and four M-1 Garand-equipped rifleman.

The German force, four guys holding the MG position.  They have a gun team of NCO with MP-40, gunner, and assistant, and a rifleman out on picket duty to watch their flank.

The map, now with troops.  At bottom right is the objective, with the gun team in the MG position and the rifleman out on their left, watching their flank.  The squad is at left/top left), having pinched in too soon, ending up in front of the damn gun!  SGT Cherry has split them into a base of fire element and an assault element.  There is precious little cover...

At center top left is a rifleman, PVT Graham, in the house at far left is the BAR gunner, PFC Burress, at bottom left is the grenadier, PVT Porter, and at center is PVT Eatman, all comprising the base of fire.  At bottom center right is the assault element (left to right): PVT Saxon, PVT McGovern, and SGT Cherry.

A close up of the German MG position, flanked by their rifleman (bottom left).  Time to go!!

The Squad's been spotted!!!  The MG-42 team (bottom center) swings the gun left and opens fire on the assault element...

And it couldn't be much worse: the hail of gunfire knocks down SGT Cherry (white bead), suppresses Saxon (red bead), and pins McGovern (yellow bead)!

But with the German gun (top right) preoccupied with the assault element (bottom right), Burress (bottom left) is able to get his BAR into the fight.  He cuts loose a vicious fusillade, suppressing the enemy gunner and pinning their NCO!

The assistant gunner tries to rally his gunner and Corporal back into the fight, but they're both still a bit shook up (remaining pinned), while the picket (bottom left) raises his Mauser, squeezes the trigger, and...

Eatman (bottom center) drops like a sack of potatoes.  Porter (top left) blasts away with his Garand, returning the favor by knocking the picket out of the fight!

Burress (bottom left) slaps a new magazine in the BAR and continues laying it down...

As Porter (bottom left) launches a rifle grenade at the MG position...

The grenade slams into the sandbags, suppressing the gunner and assistant and driving the German NCO back (off camera to bottom right).

McGovern (yellow bead) checks SGT Cherry, but he's out of the fight.  Saxon, a 17-year old from Georgia looking to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, looks at McGovern: "Don't worry Rob, we'll get'em, just you watch what I've got in store for them Heinie bastids!"  McGovern, the 29-year old professional soldier that's been busted to Private more times than he can count, isn't so sure.

While those two are contemplating their situation (bottom center) and Burress and Porter (bottom left) continue lighting up the German position (top right), Graham decides something needs to be done, so he leaves the cover of the house (far left) and dashes up the left side, reaching the cover of an embankment (center top left).

Meanwhile, further up the hill, the Germans set about getting themselves back in fighting shape.  The Corporal and assistant are good to go, the gunner is still a little shaky, but okay to man the gun.

But that's quickly remedied when Burress and Porter lay a fresh round of whoop-ass on them...

Suppressing both the gunner and assistant!

Which is just the break the dogfaces were looking for: McGovern and Saxon (center bottom) break cover, dashing for the hill, while Graham (top left)...

Makes quite remarkable progress, getting all the way up beside the MG position!

The German Corporal braves the American fire, dashing back into the MG position to rally his boys (Graham is just visible at top right)...

The assistant is good, but the gunner falls back, down the hill!  This seemingly innocuous act would loom quite large here momentarily...

The German Corporal and assistant return fire, knocking down Porter and pinning the BAR gunner, Burress, while their machine gunner is able to clear his mind and mentally get himself back in the fight.

Burress (off camera to bottom left) and the German NCO (top right) continue exchanging automatic fire, which sees them pin each other, while Saxon and McGovern move further up the hill (center).  At that point they spot McGovern (top center) moving up the left side: McGovern calls a halt...

And they both begin pouring fire into the MG position.

They don't hit anything, and return fire pins both of them, but they draw the Germans' attention their way...

So that Graham (bottom center) can hop up and toss a grenade (blue bead) into the MG position!  The only problem is that damn machine gunner (top left)...

Who somehow spots  Graham in the trees (top center), swings the gun Rambo-style, and rips off a short burst...

That knocks down Graham!!!

Just as the frag goes off, killing the assistant and pinning the German Corporal.

The German gunner dashes back up into the fighting position, rallying the Corporal as he goes.

The Corporal racks his MP-40 and starts squeezing bursts at Saxon and McGovern...

Pinning Saxon and driving McGovern back down the hill!

But with the Germans pre-occupied, Burress slips out of the house and checks Porter, who's okay, back in the fight, while McGovern manages to self rally.

But it doesn't take the Germans long to get the gun back on the tripod and into action.  They quickly spot Porter and Burress bunched up and cut loose...

Dropping the BAR gunner!!!

Porter returns fire, pinning the German gunner, but they keep trading fire...

While the German Corporal does the same with McGovern and Saxon.

Porter decides to pop another rifle grenade on the Germans...

It goes long, but it's enough to pin both the enemy soldiers.

While Porter displaces left (left, from bottom right).

McGovern and Saxon keep popping away with their Garands...

Saxon: "Rob, come up here man, get behind these trees and cover me!"

For a second McGovern (bottom left) is dumbstruck as Saxon just takes off at a sprint (far right)

Saxon's charge has gone unnoticed for the moment because the Germans have spotted Porter (top center left) moving between the buildings.  The gunner manipulates the T&E on the tripod and fires a burst...

Putting Porter out of the fight!  At this point it's down to McGovern and Saxon.

The German NCO turns his attention back left and opens fire on McGovern (top left), not noticing Saxon has flanked them (bottom left).

The enemy fire keeps McGovern pinned (bottom left), but Saxon raises his rifle and begins blasting away at point blank range...

The German Corporal is knocked down and the gunner suppressed!

Saxon rushes forward and jumps into the enemy position!

Making quick work of the two remaining Germans.

All is silent, and McGovern creeps forward to see what's going on (left): "You okay, Saxon?"  "Yeah Rob, I'm alright.  But I think we're all alone up here."

Saxon stands watch (far right) as McGovern moves over to check on Graham (left)...

But he's frozen up.  "Hey, Saxon, something's wrong with Graham!  I can't see that he's hit, but he ain't moving, he ain't even blinking, and it's like he don't hear me!"  McGovern leaned Graham up against the embankment and gave him some water...

Then moved back up to join Saxon.  "Rob, what do ya reckon we ought to do now?"  "Well Saxon, I figure we sit tight until help arrives.  And I figure you ought to get that Congressional Medal of Honor you were after," McGovern said, looking out for the enemy, but then peering sideways at the 17-year old, a bit in awe at what he'd just seen.

Well, it would turn out that Saxon would not receive the Medal of Honor, but he did receive the Army's second highest award for gallantry, the Distinguished Service Cross, and he was meritoriously promoted to Corporal on the spot by Lieutenant Pelluer.  The short, sharp fight to take out the enemy machine gun cost the squad, but not as bad as it could have been: Eatman and Burress were put on light duty for about a week, while SGT Cherry and Porter were hit a bit worse and were expected to be out closer to two weeks.  Graham would eventually be okay; he sat there for awhile, practically catatonic.  The Lieutenant arrived about twenty minutes later with the other two squads to find Graham in that state, and Saxon and McGovern not much better.  "What the hell's a matter wit' him?  Damn, are you two okay???"  "Yeah, we're alright Sir, it was just pretty rough up here."

"Yeah, I see that!  You men did a great job!  You soldiers follow...  On second thought, you three just sit tight and keep your eyes peeled for Krauts, I'll send some men back to check on your casualties, and the rest of us are heading up the ridge to take out the rest of the machine guns.  So you guys sit tight, and check your fire to the northwest!"  And with that, the Lieutenant scurried off and worked on cleaning out the rest of the German machine gun nest.  About an hour later he came running back past the position, yelling something about an enemy tank.

Approximately twenty minutes later he was back up to Saxon and McGovern's position, and Graham was mostly back to normal - ultimately, Graham would be meritoriously promoted to PFC and awarded the Bronze Star for charging the machine gun position and popping the grenade in.  "Boys," the Lieutenant huffed, alongside a bazooka team and that coward Baldinger, "I need your help!"

V/R,
Jack

6 comments:

  1. Great little battle report. Sounds like a tough fight but attacking uphill into an MG position always will be.

    How long did it take you to play through out of interest?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. It was a little longer than normal because all the casualties. Most games are 35-45 minutes, this was about an hour.

      V/R,
      Jack

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  2. Another excellent report.

    I notice that although it does not achieve kills, the US fire against the German MG position did seem to achieve quite a few pin/suppression results. Is it more difficult to suppress targets in such positions, or is it the same, but just less likely to cause physical injury?

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    Replies
    1. John,

      I was treating the German MG position as a bunker, so US troops weren't even getting kill dice when they fired on it, only shock dice (except maybe the rifle grenade, I don't recall now). So they had to suppress it, move up and flank it, and clear it by grenades/close combat.

      It is more difficult to suppress targets in prepared positions, and flat out impossible to hit them, which is accomplished by eliminating Kill Dice and cutting back on Shock Dice.

      Overall I'd say the US troops didn't really get lucky in suppressing the MG position, it was pure weight of fire, and they still got beat up pretty bad...

      V/R,
      Jack

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  3. This seems a little better for the Germans and they actually cause some casualties with an MG. Bad for the squad but it does make for a great report.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why dontcha just come out and say ya hate Americans, ya damn Aussie Commie! ;)

      Yeah, the survivor should have probably fallen back, but you know my style: you’re gonna be a hero. Alive or dead makes no difference, but you’re gonna be a hero ;)

      V/R,
      Jack

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