Monday, 30 November 2009

Caen - Day 3

Day three of the battle for Caen, and the British had decided on a more subtle encirclement rather than the direct armoured assault. The famed ‘Desert Rats’ headed off on a flanking manoeuvre that took them through the North African desert and encountered the Finnish there. Against all expectations, and against a wave of Crusaders, the Finns held out in a ‘Fighting Withdrawal’, and achieved victory on turn 8. Such heroics should be told by the participants themselves, and with the British CO probably hiding in shame in the Sahara I suspect we are still awaiting the Finns overenthusiastic views on a battle which looked lost.

Meanwhile the road into Caen, where the British had been defeated by the 102nd SS Tigers last week, was the scene of more fighting when the 17th SS Panzergrenadiers launched an assault on British units ‘Holding the Line’. Sadly it was not a contest, the small battlefield size and high number of British ambushing units combined to block the Germans out with ease, leaving the German CO (yes that’s me) to walk await significantly embittered and muttering about level playing fields, machineguns and universal carriers.

Finally it must be noted that the war will not be over by Christmas due to the organiser suffering from other committments. Hopefully it will pick up where it left off in the new year, and for now we must go back to minor scraps over yards of France awaiting the big breakthrough.

Caen - Day 2 Pictures

The Brits advance towards the German infantry in their trenches.

British artillery covering the Commando's advance through the cornfields.

British attack struggles in the centre under fire from the Tigers.
The Brits armoured casualties mount in front of the trenches.

Armoured infantry follows up the initial attack.

The Brits left flank overruns the trenches and turns inwards to flank the outnumbered pioneers.

The British armour on the right trades fire with the Panzer IV's.

Wittmann assists the StuG's in breaking the moral of the 7th Armoured and driving them from the field.

The 102nd SS swarms forward to reclaim the objective from the Commando's.

A tribute to British naval firepower - one of four burning Tigers (the others attributed to artillery and Sherman Firefly fire).

The Panzer IV's retake the trenches for the Germans as the Brits are forced from the field.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Caen Campaign - Day 2

See the below link for the British view of how the campaign progresses:

And now the real news from Berlin:

“The clash between 102nd SS and 617th Infantrie Division and the British on the approaches to Caen continued yesterday, and ended with a firm victory for the Wehrmacht which was never in doubt! The British advanced once more with their inferior tanks, and were driven off once more by Herr Wittmann and his invincible Tiger company! The order of ‘No Retreat’ now changes, the new mantra is; ’To the sea!’”

Back into reality and a less bias view of how the battle unfolded. Ian (the Commando’s) has already done an excellent blow-by-blow account in the link above so this will be more of a ‘flow of the battle’ piece of writing from the German point of view. The British had obviously taken the lessons learnt from their bogged down assault on Tuesday and put them to good use with alterations to their company selections, deployment and tactics. The Germans went with the same line-up.

Army Choice and Deployment:

The British - 7th Armoured (British Tank Company, 2.500pts, Red) & the Commando’s (with Canadian support, 2,500pts, Ian).
Additions to the British included the acquisition of support from the guns of the Royal Navy, and further 17pdr guns, mounted on M10 destroyers, brought in to challenge the German heavy armour. The deployment was very different from Tuesday. Gone was the all armour left hook and the infantry moving ahead of the tanks. Instead the British infantry deployed en-masse in the centre, and the armour was split evenly between the two flanks.

The Germans - 102nd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion & Grenadier Kompanie (2,500pts each, Rick).
The German view on deployment was if it wasn’t broke, don’t fix it, and the two pioneer platoons deployed once more in their trenches, overlooked by the 88mm guns installed in a ruined building behind, and the heavy artillery further back on the right. A platoon of Tigers deployed hull-down behind the hills on the right, and a second platoon tried the same trick on the left, along with the SS 2ic in his Tiger. The only change was this deployment of a second Tiger platoon, replacing the Panzer IV’s who went into Ambush positions.

Ebbs and Flows - The Battle:

The British, clearly having learnt from Tuesdays sluggish attack, began with an aggressive infantry centre and two wings of armour. The infantry (Commando troops with some mechanised 7th Armoured support) advanced across the cornfields far swifter than their previous efforts, while the armour also moved with more purpose. The British left carrying on over the hills facing them to try and flank the Tigers there, and the right mainly curling inwards to assist in the attack on the German infantry.

Heavy artillery fire, assisted by excellent use of recon units to reveal the German positions, claimed the 88mm guns, and inflicted several casualties on the defenders, the most notably being the lost of a Tiger on the right. While a Sherman platoon split off to the far right and was engaged by the Panzer IV’s, the main infantry attack went in on the pioneers, and drove away the right-hand German unit, which retreated into the urban areas. The left-hand unit lasted slightly longer, with 7th Armour losing a number of tanks to panzerfaust and panzerschrek fire. The British tanks also came under heavy fire from newly arrived Tigers from the 102nd SS battalion, and lost a number of tanks causing a large Cromwell platoon to withdraw from the battle.

Clashes of armour featured heavily on both flanks as the British commando’s tried to consolidate their position in front of the objective. On the British right the Sherman’s had managed to destroy the SS Tiger 2ic and a Panzer IV, and a bombardment from the Royal Navy claimed another Tiger. However, return fire from the remaining four Panzers and several Tigers eventually bailed out enough to cause them to retreat. On the British left a spectacular fight broke out when a Cromwell platoon advanced far enough to destroy several of the German artillery guns before being destroyed by Obersturnfuhrer Wittmann and a StuG G platoon. The German armour then systematically took the wave of 7th Armoured tanks to pieces with 88mm and 75mm fire, reducing it to three platoons from its original eight and driving it from the field.

The Commando’s gamely fought on after defeat, but without armoured support their lead platoons were annihilated by the wave of Tiger tanks advancing from the urban areas, and, despite destroying one with a well-placed PIAT shot, they had little answer to them and also retreated leaving the battlefield to the Germans.


I was please with the way the battle went on Tuesday, and given the time I thought the Germans would be victorious. Peter had kindly lent me his Tigers for the battle so I went for the same army list (only just resisting the urge to tinker and field the Tiger Company alongside a Panther Company!), and virtually the same deployment, and expected the battle to run as before. I was slightly wrong in that aspect though - where the British had been ponderous, stalled, uncoordinated, and seemly afraid of the Tigers they were now aggressive and driven. There was a definite deployment and attack plan, and little of the crossed-wires of the Tuesday before!

With my re-enforcements slow to arrive (I had three platoons still in reserve at the end - although they were the more ineffective grenadier ones) I feared the worst when the wave of infantry advanced and the enemy massed a big concentration of 17pdrs (Fireflies and M10 destroyers) on each flank. Thankfully the grenadiers held and stalled the tanks, which in turn stalled the infantry, and the British right pincer closed, in my opinion, too soon and ended up arriving on the objective in front of the SS companies guns, and just ahead of any Commando support, rather than what would have been a more ambitious project (and more risky of course) of encircling my Germans and hitting them from front and back.

In the end I had the Tigers to thank, with their sticking power making them extremely difficult for the enemy to shift them from their central position. I managed to remember that I could pick on certain types of tank, and that any of the Fireflies made it past turn three is truly remarkable. It is also worth noting that the fragile nature of the 7th Armoured helped me once I had worked out how many and which tanks I needed to kill to cause a company motivation test - one that would probably be failed. And before the Commando’s and the SS get big heads about their own abilities, it was the StuG’s of the grenadiers which broke the 7th armoured, and the Commando’s were then driven off very easily by a group of four Tigers to which they had no answer.

A good battle, and the biggest fought so far, pictures to follow in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Caen Campaign - Day 1 pictures.

British 7th Armoured (Tank Company - Red)
British Commando's & Canadian armour (Infantry Company - Ian)
German 716th Infantrie Division (Grenadier Kompanie - Rick)
SS 102nd Heavy Panzer Company (Tank Company - Peter B)

The SS 102nd's 2ic.

Wittmanns counter attack devistates the British spearhead.

The British start lines.

The SS 102nd arrive en-masse.

The German start lines.

Brutal tank warfare as the evening closes in.

The British infantry prepare for the off.

A slice of Normandy - June 1944.

The 716th Division's 88mm guns.

The British attack finally goes in.

Caen - FOW Late War Campaign, day 1

"And now the real story from the Berlin 'Signal' Army Newspaper:

With a diversionary attack underway on the Normandy coast (everyone knows the real invasion will come at the Pas de Calais) the 716 Infantrie Division was tasked with holding the outskirts of Caen while awaiting the arrival of the SS 102nd Heavy Panzer Battalion to re-enforce their position. Heavily outnumbered their pioneers dug trench lines and watched from the hills as the British 7th Armoured and infantry formed up for the attack.

The British, fearing our 88mm guns and gallant infantry in the centre choose to send their armour in a sweeping manouver to our right aimed to encircling our troops. However, the advance guard of the 102nd had arrived (two Tiger 1E's and five Panzer IV's), and despite the enemies use of Sherman Fireflies (five counted in one sector) stalled the enemy armour as it tried to clear the cornfields. This action was not without loss, and six of our own tanks were lost to the enemies fire. The British infantry, fearful of our troops, dug in to the cornfields scarcely meters from their startlines and left it to their tanks to trade shots with ours.

On our left flank a recon tank force, reported to be Stuart light tanks, were easily turned aside by more re-enforcements from the 102nd, and the remains smashed by the 88mm guns of the 716th. The enemy tried a flanking manouver upon one of our Grenadier platoons manning the trenchlines, and I am sad to report were successful with our platoon fleeing - the officer responsible has been sent to the Eastern Front for help with his motivation skills.

The British, buoyed by this unexpected success finally advanced and were within meters of their objective when one of Germanys national heroes stepped to the fore - Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann lead his entire company of Tiger 1E's into the attack, and the enemy crumbled and fled! The 716th Division's pioneers added to the rout, beating off a contemptable assault by the Tommie infantry and destroying several enemy tanks to add to the numerous ones claimed by Wittmann and his aces. As darkness fell even the vaunted British artillery could not shift the Tigers and the British withdrew.

The Luftwaffe added to the woes of the Englanders during the day, shooting down several enemy fighters, and carrying out two successful sorties upon the enemy armour and artillery. Both the 102nd and the 716 have covered themselves in glory and proved the Fuhrer's order: 'No Retreat' is the best tactic for dealing with our enemies at this critical time."

Friday, 6 November 2009

Flames Of War Battle Report - 4,000pts Germans Vs. British - 'Fighting Withdrawal'


Grenadier Kompanie & Panzergrenader Kompanie Vs. British Motor Company (Red - 2,500pts) & British Rifle Company (Aidan -1,500pts)

This is the re-match of the 4,000pt battle fought several weeks ago between the same opponents. The scenario then was ‘Free-for-All’, and the German mechanised assault came unstuck, with the Brits racing through and only just blocked by a last-ditch defence that relied more on time running out that any hopes of success. This time the scenario was to be ‘Fighting Withdrawal’, and the Germans would be defending, and hoping to improve. Having defeated the Italians earlier in the day morale was high.

Pre-battle Set-up:
Unusually for such a big battle I had not picked my army beforehand, and instead used the 2,000pt grenadier kompanie that had defeated the Italians earlier, and added to it a very heavily armoured panzer grenadier company (no trucks in sight, only halftracks).
Having had the (mis?)fortune to be chosen to defend on an 8 foot frontage (on a 6 foot deep battlefield) I surveyed the terrain. I chose to deploy my Grenadier company mostly on the left in the small town there so they could ambush anyone entering it; three infantry platoons, a machine gun platoon, and the 6 Panzer III’s and 3 Panzer II’s covered this sector, assisted by the mortars and artillery. On my right I left the 88’s and the StuG’s to overlook a wide expanse of open ground, which was mostly covered by four large cornfields and had a farm on the far side. As support I gave them the two armoured panzer grenadier platoons to help counterattack through the fields. The centre could be reached easily by either force, and finally the heavy tank platoon of two Tiger 1E’s was kept in ambush. In a change from the previous battle I was 3 Marder II’s and a machinegun platoon down, but a Tiger 1E and some halftracks up.

The opposition appeared to suffer from some indecision, with the ‘Desert Rats’ motor company deploying mainly opposite the small town down the road, and the ‘Black Cats’ primarily infantry force setting up just the other side of the farm, along with their two infantry tanks platoons, two platoons of Crusaders and my nemesis - the Universal Carrier horde. In essence it was the same army that I had faced several weeks previously and drawn against (but only just), with one change - the RAF had been cancelled, and a platoon of Grant tanks would be making their way down the main road towards the town. I was quite confused but this because I expected to be hunting Crusaders with 88’s and 75mm guns through the cornfields of Sicily (?), and to be facing the infantry in the built-up area up-close and personal. My initial views being that this could actually be very bad for me on my right if the infantry managed to swamp the objective, while my left should be fairly secure.

Objectives - The first was placed towards the back in the centre (a full 44” from the British start line), the second near the crossroads in the town (much closer to the centre of the battlefield), and the third between several cornfields, again closer to the Brits.

Initial deployment, Germans to the right, British to the left, the usual arguments about deckchairs and towels have begun.

The initial deployment, British seen on the right here (motor company in sand camouflage).

Turn 1:
Due to the size of the battlefield, and the British lack of artillery, it was a quiet start. The British infantry on the (German) right started their advance, moving troops and tanks lock, stock and barrel into the farm to use it as cover. The remainder started to move towards the cornfields. On the left the Crusaders started to spread out to encircle the town from the left, with the supporting trucks seeking cover in a small hamlet further up the road. The Germans advanced the StuG’s and panzer grenadiers to the edge of the cornfields to cover the right-hand objective, and managed to destroy a single Desert Rats AA truck with mortar fire on the left.

Turn 1; British 'Black Cats' begin moving through the farm.

Initial German positions within the town; Pnazer III platoons and grenadiers in shot.

Panoramic shot of positions; turns 1-2.

Turn 2:
The British launched a strong mechanised attack down the (German) left, towards the edge of the town, with a unit of 6pdr Portees advancing and firing into the town at Panzer III platoon from their position on top of a hill, destroying two Jerries. The Grants advanced down the centre of the road, and the Crusaders (two platoons) were joined by a HMG Carrier platoon in sweeping around the left of some trees around the town. The German response was immediate and overwhelming. Two Tigers popped into being in the centre of the town (how the British recon missed that they alone know), and blew two of the Grants to pieces, bailing out the third. The Portees were punished for their temerity by a machinegun platoon inhabiting one of the buildings on the towns edge, and all four were destroyed in a hail of bullets.

The Portees deploy on the hill as the Brits advance.
The Motor Companies right hook, trying to encircle the town.

On the right the British infantry reached the far side of the farm buildings and started their advance into the cornfields. The StuG’s, 88’s and panzer grenadiers all fired but the cover offered by the fields protected the Brit tanks and infantry from heavy damage. Two Crusaders to the left of the farm were not so lucky and were destroyed, with the third fleeing.

The infantry tanks prepare to move out of the farm and into the infamous cornfields of Sicily.

Turn 3:
The British attack on the (German) left rapidly became a disaster. No casualties were inflicted upon the Germans, who in turn decimated the Crusaders left hook with 88mm fire from the Tigers. The second 6pdr Portee platoon attempted a ‘tip-and-run’ attack on a Panzer III platoon, but failed to run far enough and suffered the same fate as the first platoon. With the left looking more secure by the minute the Germans took the decision to withdraw the ineffective mortar platoon, and dispatch the second (intact) Panzer III platoon up through the centre and towards the right in an effort to challenge the flank of the main ‘Black Cat’ attack through the farm.

The British ‘Black Cats’ had actually cleared the farm and their infantry and infantry tanks were now advancing across the cornfields en-masse towards the objective. A panzer grenadier counterattack against the British infantry on the far right failed miserably and they were thrown back with numerous casualties.

British infantry tanks near the right-hand objective; a destroyed Tiger.

Turn 4:
The last Crusader tanks on the left were destroyed by the Tigers who were now virtually invincible on that flank. With the ‘Desert Rats’ assault force now reduced to two infantry platoons in trucks hiding in trees, and a HMG Carrier platoon which continued its left hook around the town, the Germans felt safe enough to withdraw a grenadier platoon from the high-rise buildings.

The Germans achieve armoured superiority on the left flank with the demise of the Crusaders.

On the German right things were looking stickier for the goose-steppers. The panzer grenadier platoon that launched the assault the previous turn was attacked and destroyed by British infantry, and the StuG’s just survived a concentrated assault by infantry and tanks and remained within 4” of the objective. The Panzer III’s, chased by a forlorn last Grant tank and several Crusaders, bit into the British flank, destroying a platoon of 6pdrs pulled by jeeps.

By now it had become very clear to all concerned that the left-hand objective was out of the British’s reach with the Tigers there, and the centre objective was too far for the British infantry on the German right to change direction. The battle had become for the right-hand objective which the Brits had to take before the German 6th turn when it could be withdrawn.

Turn 5:
On the German left the 10.5cm artillery pieces took time out from their bombardments of the right flank to lower their muzzles and assist the Tigers in ridding themselves of the HMG Carriers that were buzzing around the rear of the town. The British motorised infantry made a desperate, and doomed, attempt to skirt the town to the (German) right and grab the central objective. The machinegun platoon firstly shot-up their transports, before the Panzer II’s opened fire, killing most of the survivors. With the town secure a second grenadier platoon was withdrawn from the what remained of the Central Business District (it was remarked at this point that the town had remarkably similar characteristics to the legendary town of Novgorod).

On the German right it was time for desperate Wehrmacht tactics, and crunch time for the British, they needed to rid the objective of German troops so it would remain in ‘Black Cat’ hands at the start of turn 6. The Brit infantry launched itself at the StuG’s, firing numerous PIAT’s while the remaining infantry tanks looked to get a flank shot in. However, the cornfields which have served the Brits so well in covering their attack now save the StuG’s from this scare, and even an infantry assault failed to drive the assault guns away. The remaining 88mm gun was less fortunate, and was surrounded and destroyed by the Universal Carrier wave, while the Panzer III’s and II’s were moving across to lend their support. The former platoon shrugging off the chasing pack of Crusaders to do so. Finally the last panzer grenadiers in their halftrack moved in to contest the objective and prevent British victory on turn 6, and sacrifice themselves to buy time for the rest of the armour to withdraw next turn. Due to heavy losses the motor company had also started to take company motivation checks at this point.
Crunch time for the Brits, worrying time for the Germans as the PIAT's and infantry tanks take aim.

Turn 6:
The remaining Panzer III on the German left was withdrawn, having been rendered obsolete by the Tigers presence. The final motorised ‘Desert Rats’, minus their motors, tried to attack into the edge of the town in desperation but are stopped dead by the machineguns once more, with even the Panzer II’s returning to lend a hand.

The Tigers take up defensive positions in the town.

On the right flank the Germans withdraw the right-hand objective and the Panzer III’s and StuG’s follow the before mentioned Panzer II’s back towards the centre, the StuG’s meeting the last Grant going the other way and destroying it. The British take revenge of a sort; piling into the last halftrack and wiping out the remains platoon which had denied them victory. The Black Cats were also forced to start taking company motivation checks on this turn.

German Pioneers making their way across the town to re-enforce the central objective.

Turn 7:
With time running out (game time had expired, and the scenario was timed to end at eight turns), the end was close for the British forces. The Universal Carrier swarm made a late dash for the central objective but was headed off by the StuG’s, and had to content itself with machine-gunning the careless panzer grenadier CO who had got his staff car stuck in some trees.

The Germans withdrew their artillery and returning fire at a chasing pack of Matilda’s (?) and Crusaders using the Panzer III’s, and had some success against the Crusaders. The last Brit infantry outside the town faced the machineguns and Panzer II’s once more and evaporated, and the battle was over.

Panoramic of battlefield; Turns 6-7.

The StuG's take up position around the central objective.

I will admit I have a tendency to go on about my luck when it comes to vital dice rolls, but if any of my fears of a curse are true, then it was definitely lifted this time round and probably handed to the ‘Black Cats‘ CO to hold! Good luck wasn’t needed as much on my left as the Eight Army Motor Company was mostly smashing itself to pieces against a solid urban defence, and the immovable object that the Tigers formed in the centre of the town. The left-hand objective was never really in danger once I deployed the heavy tanks there, and even the central objective was nicely covered by the pioneer infantry and Panzer III’s during the battle.

On my right however, I owe a fair amount to luck. The rules we used for the cornfields (all teams in them, and seen through them, counted as concealed but could see in and out) both aided and obstructed the defenders and attacking teams. The attackers were able to get very close to the objective without the significant casualties the 88mm guns and StuG’s should have caused over open ground, but upon arrival they were unable to see the StuG’s to shoot at them, and the assault gun platoon survived unscathed. However, with so many guns firing at them a fair number of shots still made it through, only to bounce off every time. PIAT infantry, plus 6pdrs and 2pdrs from every angle, simply didn’t make a difference, with the Panzer III’s proving almost as invulnerable to harm as the StuG’s when they arrived on the scene. The halftracks were more vulnerable, but still took more punishment than normal before they succumbed.

Overall I was very concerned about the small size of my army at the beginning (2 Tiger tanks, plus 3 StuG’s make a big dent in any points stash!), and without those two units survivability I would have lost with ease. I did feel a sense of disappointment that I would be defending, because with such a large mechanised force I believed the enemy would have had serious problems if I had concentrated just on one flank. Maybe another time, late war is now upon us whether we would wish it or not!

Flames of War Battle Report - 2,000pts German Grenadier Kompanie Vs. Bersaglieri Company (Aidan) in a ‘Cauldron’ scenario.


The Cauldron scenario throws up a very mixed up battle, with units deploying and appearing everywhere, making it tricky to give a blow-by-blow account so this report will be shorter than usual, less precise, and concentrate on the main flow of the battle. Lack of pictures I'm afraid, I let the Eyties take them so they may appear in the near future, or not as the case may be.

The Opponents:
For my Germans I went for the Grenadier Kompanie rather than the Panzer Grenadiers, reasoning that not as much manoeuvring would be needed on a 6 by 4 foot battlefield. Three infantry platoons (including one pioneer) were backed up by mortars, machine guns, artillery, the compulsory StuG F/8’s, and finally a Tiger 1E. I reasoned little in the Italian army could damage either of the last two, and they would be needed to take on the small horde of light tanks the enemy would bring.

The Italians had called upon some German assistance to help them reach 2,000pts, with a platoon of 3 Panzer III J’s. They had the compulsory two platoons of Bersaglieri infantry (one of which turned out to be fearless veterans!), backed up by machineguns, light antitank guns, light artillery, two of the Lancia heavy anti-tank guns (truck mounted) a platoon of (fearless veteran!) Semovente assault guns and one of light tanks, plus the Panzer III’s of course.

The Battle:

The opening moves - Err, didn’t really happen! The Italian re-enforcements were typically late for their appointments, and only began arriving in earnest from turn 5 onwards. The Germans in comparison played a waiting game, waiting for enough of their own troops to arrive to bolster an assault force. The only clash of note was the StuG’s vs. the Panzer III J’s in the centre, which the StuG’s came off best, destroying two of the enemy for no loss. The remaining Panzer III raced off to spend the next three turns dogging the footsteps of the Tiger, and somehow avoiding certain death.

With the arrival of the German infantry the attack finally went in, with the right-hand side objective being the target due to the location of the StuG’s and Tiger being more right, and the left-hand objective being in a tree-strewn location covered by machineguns and AT guns. The fearless veteran Bersaglieri platoon made an error trying to bring the StuG’s to battle after one of the assault guns had been destroyed by the Lancia heavy AT guns. The German guns drove them off, just, and the machine guns opened up with them stuck in the open, and not even the presence of an ‘Unknown Hero’ was enough to save the platoon and company CO from destruction.

The German mortars and artillery spent the battle duelling the Italian artillery, breaking off only to blow the rogue Panzer III up (finally!), and successfully kept the enemy pinned down. The Italian light tanks arrived, and made a sweeping attack around the German left, destroying the machine gun platoon, the pioneers, and damaging the mortars for no loss, and ringing alarm bells in Wehrmacht HQ. The StuG’s, having dealt with the Semovente’s, were forced to turn and face their onslaught to keep them away from the main infantry attack going in on the right.

With the Semoventes and Panzers destroyed, and the Tiger hiding behind a hill to avoid the last Lancia truck-mounted AT gun, it was down to the infantry to win or lose the battle. The first German grenadier platoon drove off the Italian artillery, and pushed back the other Italian infantry platoon. However, the Eyties were soon back, their infantry destroying most of the grenadiers. At this point the second grenadier platoon charged in and destroyed the enemy infantry completely. With German infantry swarming the objective, and unable to pass the necessary company motivation check, the Italians conceded and withdrew.


Having played ‘Cauldron’ a few times before I had hard-fought knowledge that an early attack would be pointless, and lead to defeat, so I held my army back waiting for the rest to turn up so I could launch a more powerful assault on the objectives. This, and the lack of Italian re-enforcements lead to the first four turns being a dire affair, with both sides so well entrenched that even the artillery did little/no damage.

The Italians had only one weapon that could comfortably destroy the Tiger and StuG‘s, and good placement of it meant that the heavy tank spent the game doing very little for fear of getting shot, and the assault guns were almost as ineffective! The Italian light tanks meanwhile were very effective in rolling up the German left and centre, and at one point I was concerned they would destroy enough platoons to force me into a Company Motivation check (which I rarely pass!). The StuG’s, having dealt with the Semovente’s and Panzer III’s so easily, seemed incapable of hitting them, but luckily for me they hadn’t made it far enough to the right by the time my infantry swarmed the objective.

I was very pleased with this victory because it is the first defeat the Italians have suffered, which, after a previous six battles (5 wins, 1 draw) against Russians, Finns and Germans is testament to how difficult they are to beat! That is despite their lack of armour, anti-tank ability, artillery or numbers.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Flames Of War Battle Report - 2,000pts Free-For-All German Grenadier Kompanie Vs. British 7th Armoured

03/11/09 - A battle report with a difference, the British view from their commander (my regular opponent Red), followed by my report on proceedings. It was our first foray into Late War.

"First run out for the Desert Rats in Late-War, came as a bit of a shock to Jerry that Britain had some tanks, and his heavy armour wasn't quite as invulnerable as previously. We got a Free For All in some rather open country, despite a number of hills providing good artillery positions. "

"With the threat of not 1 but 2 Tigers dominating the central area, with support from StuGs and FlaK 36 my tanks tried to make use of what cover was available. There was a moment of hesitation as I tried to position myself as best I could to pass in front of the massed '88s, particularly as I wasn't able to bombard the static positions. A minor traffic jam ensued as Stuarts and Cromwell tanks massed behind the hill on my left, whilst towards the centre the other two Cromwell platoons moved forward to challenge the Tigers. On the far right Bren Carriers and Crusader AA tanks moved up behind a bombed village, forcing an infantry platoon to withdraw to the imagined safety of the woods behind them. "

"The Tigers having survived unscathed returned fire and demolished a Cromwell platoon, another tank fell to the StuGs and I considered whether or not I'd made a huge error in attacking across the full width of the table. I decided to make a full blooded charge at the enemy with the Cromwell CS tanks smoking the '88s, whilst both surviving platoons of Cromwells decided to to deal with the StuGs, figuring they'd be easy kills for 2 platoons attacking together. Needless to say the StuGs survived unharmed. "

"The Stuarts attacked the infantry in front of the Artillery but hadn't banked on the '88s lending a hand which knocked out 2 of the things, the survivor still managed to panic the Germans sending the running into their own guns. Sensing imminent doom for last Stuart I went for a charge on the '88s, predictably this ended in a cloud of oilly smoke.There then followed an indecisive exchange of fire between the StuGs and Cromwells with occasional interuptions from the Tigers."

"The Brens supported by the Crusaders attacked the infantry in the woods but got themselves killed driving them off. The weight of fire finally showed on the StuGs and they were forced into the ruins before being destroyed. One platoon of Cromwells folllowed up knocking out the MG platoon holding the position, the second platoon switched targets to the Tigers which had advanced towards them. "

"On my left the German infantry which had been milling in front of the artillery decided to advance, akwardly at the same time I'd made the same decision and mounted my infantry in their halftracks. This prompted a rapid dismount and attempt to reform their gun line.I started to bring up the Observer Shermans, one to help hold the position on my left the other to threaten the objective near the artillery and hopefully draw off some of the forces that could tip either of the critical battles around the contested objectives. On my side the Germans assaulted before I was in position and initially forced my infantry and Cromwell back, however they managed to rally and pushed back in to halt the Germans with a hail of gunfire from all directions."

"On the other side of the field a heavy duty brawl broke out as Tigers, Pioneers and a motley collection of British vehicles began hammering away at point blank. The stalemate was broken when the Pioneers failed their nerve check to charge, leaving them in full view of an artillery officer. This abruptly ended their threat and one of the Tigers brewed up almost immediately afterwards, straight through the frontal armour from the last Firefly. The efforts of the massed Cromwells failed to claim the last Tiger but the final Cromwell from the platoon that got shot up in turn 1 got busted which meant a company morale check was imminent. "

"By this point both sides were spent, neither of us had achieved the vital breakthrough, but the Germans had lost their striking capability and conceded the point.We rolled to see what would have happened with my morale, and the Desert Rats also failed...The Reluctant status of the Desert Rats is something I'll have to get used to, they're a lot more fragile than they appear. I'll also need to familiarise myself with how British artillery works, though even with my clumsy efforts they signicantly out-performed the RAF."

The German View:

There was nearly a nasty brown-alert moment when I turned the corner and saw what appeared to be the entire British 7th Armoured Division waiting for me on the other side of the battlefield! A swift count (once I had gathered approximately 27.645% of my wits about me) confirmed my fears - I was faced by no less than 26 AFV, of which 20 were medium battle tanks, supplemented by 3 light ‘Honey’ Stuart tanks, 3 of my nemesis Universal Carriers, a small platoon of mechanised infantry in their M5 carriers, and the nastiest artillery battery I had even seen - 8 Sextons - all fitted into 2,000pts late war! Against this horde I could muster but 5 AFV‘s, although fortunately I had plumed for both Tigers (which surprised the watching Italians even if it had no effect on the Brits), the StuG’s and the 88’s. The rest of my Grenadier Kompanies force was made up of Grenadier infantry platoons, machineguns, mortars and some artillery.

I harboured serious doubts about whether I had enough shots per turn to defeat such an wave of armour, and my infantry and man-packed gun teams were always going to be doing a lot of hiding in holes and woods while hell was unleashed around them! I was definitely convinced this would be a battle for survival rather than any attempt to take my two objectives on the other side of the battlefield, and deployed the StuG’s and 88’s to cover the right-hand British objective, while the Grenadier pioneers and Tigers lurked near to the left-hand one. The machineguns and mortars crammed into buildings in the centre and the artillery hid behind a hill on the right!

The enemy swept out into the central open area majestically, blazing away at the Tigers and StuG’s. Fortunately the Sherman Fireflies proved inaccurate most of the battle, and the Cromwell IV’s best attempts bounced off the Tigers armour. A Grenadier platoon, which had been a bit ambitious trying to reach another bit of cover on the left, was severely damaged by the Bren Carriers and fell back into some woods. The Brens, and assisting Crusader AA tanks, hid behind the buildings in-case the Tigers turned towards them, but the heavy tanks had bigger fish to fry - destroying 2 Cromwell’s, a Firefly and bailing out a third Cromwell in turn 1! The StuG’s were not quite so lucky in the centre, and the enemy armour raced closer and soon swamped them, with the last assault gun fleeing the field.

The Stuart tanks decision to have a pop at a grenadier platoon on the right didn’t pay off for them, thanks to a massive assist by the 88’s (who truly earned their schnapps on this occasion), and on the left the Bren Carriers made the mistake of venturing into the woods, only for the remaining grenadiers to ambush them with panzer Faust’s - destroying all three AFV’s before following the StuG’s example.

A platoon of Cromwell’s made the mistake of mixing it with the machineguns in the buildings on the right/centre of the German backline, and opened themselves up to the 88’s fire. The remaining bailed out tanks were then captured by the sole surviving officer of the machineguns (must have been on a training course to Finland). This cleared the right-hand British objective of enemy pressure, and left a huge melee of AFV’s on the left. The Tigers found themselves literally surrounded by Sherman‘s, Cromwell’s and Crusaders, and the attempts of the Pioneers to assist were thwarted by the enemy machineguns and artillery. One Tiger fell to a Firefly shot, but the other defied the many Cromwell shots at point-blank range and took up a defensive position behind some rocks covering the objective.

On the German right another sideshow had developed, with the Grenadiers, initially driven back by the Stuarts, now advancing with the assistance of a scout platoon. With the enemy armour destroyed or distracted on the left, they made it to the right-hand German objective, driving off the British mechanised platoon on the way and causing several casualties. Victory was actually within grasp, because the only two tanks on that side were independent teams who could not contest the objective. However, the mechanised infantry passed their 5+ motivation test, and moved back in, and with a hail of machinegun fire (and some awful saving throws) wiped out the Grenadiers and scouts.

With time ebbing away (actually we had overrun and it was almost 10:15pm - many thanks to the key keeper for his patience!), I conceded the field to the British, knowing that victory was impossible. The British then rolled their Company morale check and promptly failed!
I had successfully bled the British armour dry, having destroyed 16 of their 26 AFV’s for the loss of four of my own (and many infantry), but in doing so I wasn’t in any position to do anything but fall-back all game, firing as I went. The Tigers accounted for 5 Cromwell’s and a Firefly, while the 88’s bagged 3 Stuarts, 2 Cromwell’s and a Sherman. The machineguns got a Firefly and a Cromwell with a major assist from the 88’s, and the Grenadiers with their panzer Faust’s claimed the three Bren Carriers. I lost a Tiger and a StuG to the Firefly’s, and a StuG to the Cromwell’s. The British artillery was more effective than the RAF, claiming numerous grenadiers, and several German artillery pieces, and the irony of the British infantry preventing an unexpected defeat should not be overlooked!