Saturday, October 6, 2018

More Northern France 1940 action

Northern France, 1940, and the BEF continues its attempts to resist the Wehrmacht's assaults. This was the second WW2 Spearhead game Andy had played, and this time he opted to command the BEF forces.

Using Keith McNelly's Scenario Generation System, I'd created a British Armoured Division Defend list, and a German Panzer Division Attack list. There were errors in my lists, as I realised a little too late, in particular, I'd taken two British Armoured Regiments at half strength when the system normally allows reduced strength units that have had no more than a third of their fighting stands removed. However I guess as we are the authors of our own scenarios, this was OK.

In this game I layered in artillery, with both sides having access to divisional artillery, and both having corp level guns available for limited counter-battery work.

The battlefield, with BEF defending from the left, the German forces attacking from the right
 Andy deployed one battalion forward holding the most advanced objective, with a second kept back on another objective on his right flank. He was expecting a flank march against his right (German left). He deployed an armoured squadron on his left guarding the bridge which was another objective. The other armoured regiment he kept in reserve off table behind his right flank, again because he was expecting that flank march against his right.

My plan as the German commander
My plan:

  1. Central thrust with two infantry battalions attacking the key objectives in the centre, supported by the heavy tank company
  2. A flank march on my right, timed for the third turn, using one of the two light tank companies (I was in error here as the entry point put the company out of command radius for the regiment
  3. The second light tank company kept in reserve behind my left flank

The BEF second battalion holding the right flank deployed back in anticipation of the flank march

Initial German advance onto the table

The reserve light tank company

The advanced BEF battalion holding the forward-most objective.
 This illustrates perhaps Andy's greatest error, in deploying his battalion largely in the open. Attempting to defend against a well supported German battalion was always going to be difficult in that situation.

The BEF left flank armoured regiment deployed on one of the two left flank objectives

The action opens against the forward most BEF battalion. This is 'ambush fire' as the BEF were previously unlocated, and the Germans lost one platoon, and suffered several suppressions

Turn 2 and the German heavy tank company takes fire, but suffers only a suppression from the British armour's ambush fire.  Andy's die rolling seemed to be up to its usual standards (whew). With the British armour unsupported with infantry I push the advancing infantry onto the hill to apply pressure on the British armour.
 In this second turn, the BEF brings one of its 25pounder batteries into action in support of it's forward most battalion. It causes no casualties, but is promptly located by German counter battery 150mm guns, and both stands are destroyed. Similarly however one of the German 105mm batteries is located and Andy brings down CB fire from his 6" guns. One stand is destroyed, and another suppressed. Not a good day to be a gunner, apparently ...

Action heats up against that forward BEF battalion which takes artillery and small arms fire

The heavy tank company is fighting in support of the infantry, but is engaged by the British armour

The British armour is facing the heavy tank company, and is under pressure form the advancing infantry. Two stands are destroyed by the advancing infantry, and one by the heavy company. The A13s have certainly taken the heat of their own infantry, but at huge cost

Two A13 stands destroyed and another suppressed

The German flank march has arrived ...but on the opposite flank to that expected by Andy
At this stage the British counter-battery fire destroys the remainder of that German 105mm battery... ouch!!

The British armour fails its morale check and begins to withdraw for 2 turns. It takes flank fore form the German light company, but suffers no further casualties
Andy commits his armoured reserve, and manages an order change for his right flank battalion.....

However the action has heated up for the British infantry, with heavy casualties, resulting in another failed morale check. 
The position is lost for the BEF, and withdrawal is ordered. The game ran only five turns, far shorter than either of us expected. The artillery dual was fierce. Andy's unsupported armour on his left, perhaps deployed with a view to trying to hold more objectives that his force was capable of, was a critical issue, as was the infantry deployment in the open.

However, that said, beer was drunk, sausage rolls were eaten, and many more laughs were had. Combine that with pushing cool looking figures and vehicles around the table using one of my fave rules sets, and that's a damned fine evening.

Oh and .. thanks Keith, the SGS yet again delivered the goods... a great game.

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