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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

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Attack on the Hauptkampflinie 1944

The Second World War, Chain of Command, 28mm

This was the third scenario of our Operation Martlet “pint-sized campaign”. The last two saw the British 49th Infantry Division push into the Normandy village of Fonyenay-le-Pesnel, driving back the forward outposts of the 12th SS Panzer Division. Now, the advance units of the Royal Scots Fusiliers had reached the centre of the village, and the German main defensive line. Let battle commence!As before in these, Nick played the British, Sean commanded the Germans, and I sort of ran the game. In this one the British platoon started on the left (north-eastern) table edge, while the Germans were grouped around the crossroads to the south. The British were the attackers, and had 20 support points, which Nick spent on a brace of Shermans, an artillery observer and a Vickers machine gun. Sean had just seven points, which he used to add an extra panzergrenadier squad and an artillery observer to his force. In the Patrol Phase, the British got a decent jump on the Germans, and gained a foothold in the e Chateau grounds, in the “memorial garden”, and in the western woods. The German “jump-off points” ended up by the house in the eastern corner,  among the buildings west of the chateau, and in the woods beyond them. When the game began the British, being the attackers, got to move first. Nick pretty much rolled perfect command dice, getting lots of “3s” which let him deploy his infantry sections and a tank, and two “6s”, which let him roll again. So, he deployed in the north side of the chateau complex, and in the woods, and began advancing through the trees, trying to gain as much ground as he could before the Germans could get into the game. For his part Sean deployed his “support point” squad in the western woods, but he seemed to playing it cool with the rest, leaving it quite late to deploy. He did bring on his Panzer IVH though, on the southern road,  giving it a clear line of sight to the leading Sherman, in the road to the north, near the Grenadier Fougueux memorial garden. The tanks traded shots with each other, but neither side got much of an edge on their opponent Eventually though, Sean had enough and pulled his panzer back behind a nearby cottage. Meanwhile the two sides blundered into each other in the woods , and a vicious little firefight erupted. Even though the Germans fired first, Nick had the better die rolls, and eventually the German squad became pinned. Then, when the British mortar rounds began plastering the crossroads, they broke and ran. So, first blood to the British. With that Nick brought up his PIAT team, to stalk the panzer, while the rest of his infantry started to advance through the chateau’s farmyard, supported by that leading Sherman tank. This was when Sean struck. He used his CoC die to place an “ambush” – a panzergrenadier armed with a panzerfaust, who appeared in a doorway across the road from the Sherman. The shot was perfect, slamming into the tank’s side, causing three unsaved hits – a “brew up”. The blast also showered glass and wreckage around the courtyard, killing a Tommy who was standing too close. It turned out though, that this was the German “high water mark”. Nick had already decided to cut his losses. He didn’t want many casualties, so he decided not to contest the battlefield any more. Instead his troops began pulling out. The British stormed the rear of the building where the panzerfaust firer was, only to find that he’s sprinted down the road to safety. No revenge there then.On the other side of the road the British consolidated their hold on the chateau and its surrounding buildings, and Nick sent a section out the back of it, towards the eastern side of the table. A turn before, Nick had a machine gun team in the upper floors of a nearby house, and could have caused mayhem. Instead they’d quit the red-roofed building, and were now heading towards the table edge. Behind the cottage on the south side of the crossroads the panzer pulled out too, leaving the battered infantry section behind, whose Sharfuhrer (corporal) was busily trying to recover hit points. they were also waiting for the panzerfaust guy, and when he reached them they too headed for the exits. So, the game fizzed out like a damp squib as the last German troops quit the table. Nick was a little put out at being denied the glory, but at least he’d conquered the Hauptkampflinie – and with it the rest of the village. The next game will be down the road to the south, leading to the neighbouring village of Rauray – the British objective. Still, while the British have been keeping to their timetable, there are three more scenarios – and the next time, Sean will no doubt deploy his reinforcements, which include a brace of Panthers. Who knows – we might be fighting over this crossroads again, as the British find themselves driven back through the village. Fonyenay-le-Pesnel may be in British hands, but it’s still far from being secured…







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