Friday, 4 September 2009

Flames Of War Battle Report: Grenadier Kompanie Vs. British Motor Company

Battle Report: 2,000pts of my German Grenadier Kompanie against a British Motor Company (Red)

Although not a new opponent this was a new army, and a kind I had not faced before. My Germans have fought the Soviet infantry hordes (with mixed success), the Finnish veteran infantry (with little success), and the unstoppable Italian war machine (with no success whatsoever). They had also fought the Brits back when Valentines and Matilda infantry tanks were the order of the day, and had the kind of success which is bought by outnumbered the opposition.

The Forces:
The relief at not having to face Red’s Soviet Strelkovy battalion swiftly vanished when I realised that the Motor company was entirely mechanised in trucks, jeeps and universal carriers, and contained enough Crusader II tanks to make the Russians jealous! Thankfully we stuck to 2,000pts and I only had to face four platoons of the household cavalry (12 tanks), as well as two platoons of truck-mounted infantry, a large recon platoon of universal carriers, a Vickers HMG platoon in more carriers, and a platoon of truck-mounted 6pounders. There was also no room for the supporting hurricane flight, for which I was particularly grateful.

Massed British vehicles.

I realised I would need massed anti-tank, and the call went out for the Marder II’s and the 88mm guns for the first time in months. They were joined by the compulsory StuG F/8’s, the heavy artillery, three platoons of infantry and additional machine gun and mortar platoons.

The Motorised British Infantry en-route.

The Setup:
The mission was Breakthrough, and I was remarkable happy that I didn’t have to attack! My troops settled into their positions, with my right flank being covered by the 88mm guns situated on a convenient hill, and backed up by a machine gun platoon and the StuG’s. The left saw the three platoons of infantry positioned to advance to take control of the objectives, backed up by the artillery and mortars. The Marder’s had to start off the board, joining two platoons of Crusaders who the Brits were using as their delayed reserves.

The Battle:
The Brits automatically got first turn, and only the foxholes and gun-emplacements saved jerry from a pasting. The 88’s in particular survived an aggressive attack by the recon carriers (no hugs and kisses to be seen anywhere), only to be doused in smoke bombs by the Brits independent teams mortars - this turned into a theme with the 88‘s surviving the battle but failing to make any real impact because there wasn‘t enough wind to blow the smoke away - if only the Germans had had beans on their toast. Back to the war and the two platoons of Crusaders in the Brits vanguard chased off an advanced HMG platoon, only to be on the receiving end of a rather nasty artillery bombardment. The StuG’s and mortars joined in and soon many British vehicles were burning and their primary attack stalled.

Situation report, turn 4.

With the main advance crippled (the Marder’s had arrived and joined the artillery in destroying trucks, tanks and carriers and anything else silly enough to pop its mechanical head round the farm buildings), the Brits main hope rested upon the two platoons of Crusaders (6 tanks in total) who had arrived from reserve right next to the objective. The German tactic of withdrawing their infantry towards the objectives proved fruitful, and prevented a ’bloodless’ British victory (turn 5 and not a single sausage eater had perished up to this point - a few had run off though). They stalled the tanks with their corpses, and confused them by running away a bit more, long enough for the StuG’s to stop horsing about on the right and switch swiftly to the left in time to decimate this flank assault, although only after the Crusaders had hammed up their one attempt at stopping the German armour.

The German Grenadiers prepare to buy the StuG's some time.

With all 6 tanks destroyed the StuG’s joined the main German chorus line (what was left of it) to pour a final barrage of fire on the beleaguered British infantry. The trucks and carriers that had brought them were long since destroyed, while the Crusaders had been wiped out for the loss of the German mortars, and the recon platoon had got too close to the 88‘s and the StuG‘s earlier. The Vickers fought a last action before being silenced, along with the British CO, and it was over.

The Analysis:
My near-blind panic at the sight of so many Crusaders was tempered by the knowledge that they couldn’t fire HE shells, and the removal of the hurricane flight from involvement in the battle. Sadly this didn’t stop the tanks running over quite a lot of my infantry later on.

The scenery caused the enemy vehicles to bunch, which turned them into a nice target for my artillery and anti-tank guns. Those infantry that were left a the end were mown down trying to cross some corn fields by a farm - “corn fields, pine trees, distinctly French-looking farm, are you sure this is Egypt?”

The StuG F/8’s had a field day, wiping out three platoons of Crusaders for no loss (8 destroyed, 1 still on his way to Cairo),although they also represented my biggest mistake when I dispatched them to the right having forgotten about the inevitable falnk assault on the left. Thankfully the infantry filled the gap long enough. Most of my infantry was gone by the end, killed off by tank attack, and I had lost four platoons by the end (mortars, one machine gun, two infantry). The Brits in turn were down to around 7 bases of infantry and a couple of universal carriers.

So all in all a good day for the Germans, and a bad first outing for the Brits motormen, although I have a feeling they will learn and the StuG’s may not have it all their own way next time. As a side note it has also jogged my memory that I wanted to do a recon or panzer company, to add to my Germans, maybe one day I’ll actually have the money for it……