Striking at St. Nicholas, 1944
8th December 2022, 0 Comments
The Second World War, Chain of Command, 28mm
This was the fourth scenario in our Chain of Command “pint-sized” campaign Operation Martlet. In the last three games the British 49th Infantry had driven the Germans out of the Normandy village of Fontenay-Le-Pesnel, and were now continuing their advance towards the south. This time they faced the fortified farm of St. Nicholas, which dominated the road south towards Rauray – the British objective. The 12th SS “Hitlerjugend” Panzer Division had dug in there, and were ready and waiting for the attackers. In this game, Nick who commanded a platoon of the Royal Scottish Fusiliers had 20 support points to spent, which he used on two tanks (a Sherman V and a Sherman Firefly), a Forward Observer, a Sapper team and an extra 2″ mortar team. Sean, whose German platoon came from the III/26th Pz. Gren. Rgt. got 10 pints, which he blew on a PAK 40, and his own Forward Observer. The game was played out on a 6×4 foot table, with Nick and I running the British, and the two Seans commanding the Germans/ By the end of the patrol phase the Germans had jump-off points in the farm complex, and in the south-western corner of the table (the bottom right of the map above. One British one was on the side of the road, north of the farm, while the two others were in the orchards close to the farmyard’s northern wall. As predicted the Britsh began by bringing on their two tanks, and advancing through the orchards towards the farm. They came under fire from an LMG team in the attic of a barn – the small grey-roofed building in the farm’s north-western corner. The Bren team was forced back, but the rest of the section raced on and reached the cover of the farm wall. With them was the small sapper team. As the three-man sapper team laid their charges against the barn wall, the Germans brought down fore on the British in the orchard from the eastern side of the farm complex. Nick responded by laying down smoke from his 2-inch mortars, but not before his section there had been shot up, and its Corporal killed. That effectively paralyzed that British section for the rest of the game. By now Sean 1 had brought on his own tank – a Panzer IVH, which began trading shots with the Sherman. This went on for a few phases, with neither side achieving much – apart from shooting up some British infantry advancing up the road. then a lucky British y shot immobilized the panzer. it was still in action though, and it kept on loading and firing at its opponent, inflicting some shock.Then, when Nick pulled his Sherman V off the road to unmask the Firefly behind it, Sean began duelling with it. The other Sherman was now temporarily obscured by hedges and other clutter. Then, Sean struck lucky. A surprisingly good roll was matched by a poor one from Nick, and the “Firefly” brewed up. This was a real blow to the British cause, as it stymied any plan to outflank the farm. At that point the sappers’ charge exploded, and a hole was blown in the barn wall. The British stormed the breach, and were met by a wall of fire – you see, Sean had placed another LMG team inside the building, at the back of the barn. The British got to fire first though – Nick used a CoC die to interrupt the flow of play – killing on machine gunner and inflicting two shock. It wasn’t enough – two British were killed – and importantly one was the Corporal commanding the section. Nick was fast running out of leaders as well as tanks.On the eastern side of the farm both sides had been symied by the smoke, so Sean redeployed his section there back into the farm itself. It was now looking increasingly unlikely Nick could force his way in – especially as he only had one Corporal left in his entire platoon So, he called it a day – pulling his troops back through the orchards towards the northern table edge. Even this was a little fraught, as he lost another man from that pesky LMG team in the attic of the barn. So, in the end the game was a German win.In our campaign day – 25 June – this “attack and defend” battle took place in the late afternoon. Until now, the British advance had been on schedule, and it only took the morning to clear Fontenay-le-Pesnel. This means that Nick would have to attack the farm again, at around 8pm, in order to keep his advance on schedule. It’ll be a tough nut to crack. Sean also managed his defensive win without using his “Wild Card” – reinforcement by a pair of Panthers. So, when we return to St. Nicholas Farm, it’ll be all to play for!