Saturday, September 19, 2020

Nous avan├žons .. on y va!!

There was a chance. It was an outside chance, but it was still a chance. The Bosche had not yet reached the river. They could still be held. But Colonel Chandonnet had to reach the river. His brigade group had to get there, and get there fast. Division has even reinforced him with an extra battalion of infantry, and two tank squadrons, but he had to get there. He had even been given support from one of the division's battalions of 155mm guns to suppress the Bosche guns, But he had to get there. 'We are advancing... let's go!!

The second WW2 Spearhead outing in a week, again set in France in 1940. The battle was a mutual encounter, both sides using their defend lists. 

Keith had chosen a force of three dismounted motorised battalions and a reconnaissance battalion  (from a Panzer Division OOB) with a battalion of 105mm guns in support.

My French force was drawn from a Light Mechanised Division OOB, three infantry battalions reinforced with a fourth, a squadron each of H39s and S35s, a battalion of 105mm guns allocated to the right flank battalion, and one of 155s tasked for counter battery fire. 


The French plan of attack, advancing from the right of the picture



The French right, 1 Battalion advances supported by the squadron of Somua S35s centre of the photo

6th Cuirass manning the S35s

The German reconnaissance battalion raced ahead and grabbed the large town in the centre of the French advance. This was critical to the game, shaping the entire battle for the centre despite the relatively low combat effectiveness of individual stands. You can read some of Keith's pre game thoughts on the use of the Panzer Division recce battalion here.


The lead motorcycle elements of the recce battalion take the town

The heavier recce elements can be seen advancing towards the town, with the French advance woefully short of the objective at the bottom of the photo

French 2 Battalion to the right of the town in reserve, and 3 Battalion to the left. 3 Battalion has advanced to block the recce exit from the town.

The S35 squadron occupies its objective

1 Battalion advances, the plan to hook around onto the objective at the top of the photo, occupied now by German infantry platoons

The French H39s, held off table in reserve are committed to counter attack the German advance in the centre hoping to cut off the recce battalion in the town. 3 Battalion is preparing to counter attack into the town at the right edge of the photo. At this stage the battalion turns out to be green.

Something  of a 'buggers muddle' as the H39 Squadron advances through the deployed 47mm AT gun company
4 Battalion advances on the French left


Three platoons of 3 Battalion attack into the town, are suppressed by fire, and all eliminated. These are critical casualties for a green battalion.

The H 39s continue their advance, now through the AT gun line

1 Battalion on the French right puts pressure on the German left

German infantry cross the river and apply pressure on 3 Battalion in the centre

A change of orders is successfully rolled for 4 Battalion on the left, and they advance on the German right

The German left advances towards the French right 1 Battalion, a firefight develops. Fire support from the French 105mm artillery battalion helps

3 battalion in the centre takes casualties which force a morale check. They fail on a '2', and are removed from the table as being combat ineffective. This leaves the H39 squadron unsupported and left holding the centre

1 Battalion on the right is winning the firefight, and the German infantry starts to pull back.. German infantry casualties are mounting

The German recce emerges from the town to threaten the flank of 2 Battalion

H39s in the centre feeling lonely

4 Battalion is creating pressure on the German right. However its own right is threatened by the German centre, now freed up after the demise of French 2 Battalion

We had to call the game at that stage. My allocation of support to the infantry had created problems, but perhaps the silliest mistake I made lay with 2 Battalion. They had advance onto the board taking up a position in reserve in the wood. I had planned to be able to commit them left or right depending on where the greatest opportunity lay. However I stupidly fired with the battalion mortar on the advancing German  recce battalion, thereby putting the French battalion into a 'defend' stance. This removed my flexibility to commit them to the battle when and how I needed. While I had the Regimental commander with the battalion to increase the chance of rolling an order change, this was still tough. It meant that I ceded control of the battle for the centre to the Germans, a critical mistake.

However without doubt the most fascinating aspect of the game was Keith's use of the recce battalion. By grabbing the town (in a very recce Battalion style) Keith shaped the entire battle for the centre. It was a great illustration of one of the many strengths of Spearhead. The actual combat value of a recce battalion is low. As they say however, 'it ain't what you've got but the way that you use it'. My assault on the town was prompted by the fear that there might be a FAO with the battalion able to bring down German 105mm fire, which is very effective. As it turns out, there wasn't a FAO with the battalion. Just goes to show....

Another outstanding Spearhead game.

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