Finally, summer has come to these latitudes, and we all have more time time to wargame with my new BEF & French toys.
It is may 23th, 1940. The BEF is retreating and rapidly running out of places to fall back to. Another river line must be defended in order to buy time to organise a solid defence and then an evacuation by sea at Dunkirk.
This time, the BEF will fight the Germans with the help of some scattered french defenders, survivors of several different divisions.
The Germans also are a combination of several advanced units.
The terrain was constructed with 2 Cigar Box matts sewn together. To recreate the river depression and some irregularity some more unused matts were put underneath. The railway and bridge are HO scale.
The railway lies in a west-east direction.
The germans come from the west.
The terrain from the South:
From the SW
The terrain from the Allies edge (West)
It is a variation from the standard “Defence line”. The BEF and French must defend each a portion of the river line. An important intact railway bridge is still in use by several refugees.
The game was played over an 8´ by 6´table. There are 4 objectives:
– The railway Bridge and the windmill on the British sector,
– Both houses in the french sector; the forward barn west of the river and the main House east of the river
All these obejctives would be re-scored in turns 6 and 10. As always, objectives can only be captured by infantry. As a new house rule, we will play that all BR counters taken as rasult of controlled objectives cannot be benefical (they would count as zero). In order to win, a side must break the enemy’s BR AND control at least two ojectives.
The Opposing Forces:
The Germans: BR (62). 850 pts. Officers: 6
commanders: Kata and Máximo
Left Flank Force:
– HQ in a sdkfz 265
– Forward signals unit in a sdkfz 223. RCN.
– Schutzen Infantry platoon in 4 medium trucks
– light mortar team
– Pz II Platoon. 5 x PzII C
– 1x Panzer IVD
– Armoured Car. 1x sdkfz 222
– Kradschutzen Recce Patrol. Rifle squad (6men) + MG squad (3men
w/MG34) on bikes
– 2x 2nd Priority Artillery requests
– Off table mortar fire: 3 (yes three!) x 80mm mortars.
Right Flank Force:
– FAO team in a Kubelwägen
– Schutzen Infantry platoon on foot
– light mortar team
– Panzer III tank platoon. 3x PzIII F (I do not have “F´s”, just “G” models)
– 1x Stug III A
– 1x PanzerJaëger I
– Armoured Car. 1x sdkfz 231 8-rad
– Cavalry Patrol. Rifle squad (7men) + MG squad (3men w/MG34) on
The Allies: BR (53). 850 pts.
BEF Force: Officers: 3
– HQ in a Light Car
– Signal unit with a radio truck
– Infantry platoon
– 2 inch mortar
– Boys AT rifle
– 2 pdr AT Gun w/ loader team (in a Dug-out)
– 3 inch mortar with loader team in a mortar pit
– Vickers HMG with loader team
– 1 Matilda II (“Galahad”)
– Light tank platoon (2x Vickers MLVI B, 1x MKVI C)
– 1x Medium truck
– 1x Morris CS9 armoured Car
– Sniper + Spotter (in a hideout)
– 20 Foxholes
– HMG dug-out
– Improvised Roadblock
BEF defensive positions
On the north edge:
The Morris CS9 using the advantage of the creek to gain a hull-down position:
Covering the bridge: 2 inch mortar, infantry section and Sniper + spotter team. All in foxholes.
The rear positions:
The French: Officers: 3
Commander: Powermonger the mighty.
– Forward HQ
– Infantry platoon
– 60mm Light mortar
– Hotckiss MMG with loader team
– 25mm AT-Gun with loader team (in a Dug-Out)
– 81 mm meidum mortar with loader team (in a mortar pit)
– 1x Char B1 bis (“VAR”, survivor from 1st DCR)
– Medium tank platoon. 3x Somua S-35 tanks. (cheap diecast models, painted for tunisia)
– 1x Panhard 178 armoured car
– 1x sniper
– MMG dug-out
– 26 foxholes
French defensive positions:
Fortified medium mortar position. The only observer is the Forward HQ in the second storey of the big house.
The mighty french 60mm mortar. We give this mortar a 30 inches range because its range is really greater than a 50mm in real life.
The french sniper is deployed well forward. A full french infantry section is also hidden in the barn.
Also hidden in the middle of the orchard, a Panhard 178 waits in ambush.
Covering the river (all on the west side) deploy: platoon HQ, 25mm AT gun, MMG dug-out. In the upper stories of the house also deploys the forward HQ and the Hotchkiss MMG with loader team.
Finally, covering the center of the table, the mighty Char B “VAR” deploys in the woods. A British Vickers HMG dug-out provides support.
The Germans as the attackers got the first turn. Each force (left and right) can deploy all scouts plus 3 main units up to 15 inches into the table. The rest will arrive on turn 3 on the table edge.
The German left force deploys 2x PzII and an infantry section onboard a truck. Recce consist of the Kradschutzen and the sdkfz 222.
The German right force deploys a Stug III and a PzIII with an infantry section riding it. Recce would be the Cavalry patrol and the sdkfz 231.
The kradchutzen speed 24 inches away and disembark in the face of the BEF forward positions. With an additional order, they move and fire. But fail to pin the brave britons.
The truck does the same. The infantry gain the cover of the fields and the ruined building
The PzIII races 16 inches ahead, carrying its lethal meat cargo.
The BEF calls its mortar wih the utmost alacrity and accuracy. Loader team succeeds and with 3 shots pins all 3 german units!
My Char B would gladly pour some 75mm HE supression fire if not being pinned by the german preliminary barrage. A real splash of bad luck.
The German light armour advance to support their infantry
On turn 3, more german armour arrives. on the right flank. Again with tank-riding infantry.
The german mortar battery pound the BEF´s rear each turn. It would achieve some direct hits on the matilda. But the armour is too thick and the bombs do nothing. The poor Tilly light car on the other hand is destroyed by mortar fire. These german Blitzkrieg batteries are lethal. Being three mortars strong, there is an average chance of at least 1 direct hit per stonk.
The Matilda fires its 2pdr gun against the advancing PzII´s and fails. The Char B, now unpinned, fires long range HE and succeeds in pinning the forwardmost tank.
On the right flank, the Germans got some trouble from Pierre the sniper. He single-handedly pinned the whole cavalry patrol. But later was killed by combined supressive 75mm HE and autocannon fire (I rolled a 1 trying to save vs suppressive fire grrr..).
The french section in the Barn waits patiently in ambush, hoping to catch some infantry in the open. The PzIII´s lay continous supressive fire on the barn trying to pin them.
Good sight of the PanzerJäeger I deploying into the table.
The PzII´s maneuver to support their infantry. One gain the cover of the fenced field and pour some supressive fire on the entrenched british infantry.
The Kradschutzen try a textbook maneuver. The MG team lays suppressive fire on the AT rifle team (fails). And then the rifle team assaults the position. In the following photo we can see the results. Which is of course that both the germans and the british lay dead all around. The MG team also dies form accurate rapid fire from the entrenched british infantry . Adding to the death-toll, the 2 inch mortar also dies from the ubiquitous “1” cover save from the german supressive fire. Meanwhile, the british 3inch mortar continues their stonking job.
from its fortified position. Rather strange that the HQ in the windmill has to take a 4+ comms test to give some instructions aloud to the mortar below! We conclude that the roll is to overcome the noise and smoke of battle!
The French 60mm mortar sees the sdkfz 231 beyond the orchard and fires twice. Both hit, but the “N” armour proves difficult for the “1” penetration value of the mortar bombs. The german crew, undaunted by the clanks, moves a little backwards to stay off sight of the puny mortar.
The germans now move en masse into the Orchard, cavalry and the officer PzIII in the lead. The Panhard waits in ambush and aim its gun to the head of the Boche officer…..
The 231 pours some aimed autocannon fire on the Barn, and destroys the MG groupe. I tried to hold my fire until I have some infantry targets, but it seems I waited too much. The poor French left a lot of body parts decorating the barn inside. Close range autocannon fire is messy.
The river line seen from the south. The german PzII´s attack is progressing, but the defence line seems strong. The BEF 3inch mortar continues to harass the germans. This time achieving a direct hit on the PzII on the road, brewing it with an accurate mortar bomb.
The german attack on the left saw all of its first wave infantry pinned or destroyed. It is time for the rest of the infantry platoon to deploy and reinforce those PzII´s.
The River line seen now from the BEF side. The german 80mm mortar battery seems infatuated with the BEF, directing all of his barrages against this part of the line. Direct hits on Galahad continue to bounce, but a direct hit on the 2pdr AT gun kills a crewmember. Also an ammo low counter destroys the loader team.
Galahad thinks is it´s time and aims two shots at the PzII nearest to the railway bridge…
And it hits!. Panzer II #12 explodes, all three crewmembers burn to death.
German fire support arrives in the form of a PzIVD. It´s suppressive fire would hopefully help to pin the british infantry. The rest of the motorized Schutzen arrive in their trucks and disembark.
It is Turn 5 and the Allies reinforcements arrive. The best chance to win the game is for my Somua tank platoon to counterattack and kill the german armour, taking advantage of their superior armour and mobility. Two of them speed up the road to the river line. The other one reinforce the wood in the center with the support of an additional infantry section.
Both French Hotchkiss MMG´s are boring to death since game´s start. I decide to take my chances and try to end the german advance into the orchard. They select the german cavalry at very long range as their target and a deluge of bullets kill both horses and men alike.
The german cavalry is no more, all lie dead in the orchard. The panhard 178 now ambushes PzIII #21 and hits twice! But it was not my lucky day. The first shot bounces in its armour, and the morale check gives that rascal a BTCOD action. He fires in turn at my Panhard and destroys it before my second shot could get through. What a damn bad luck! Again I waited patiently, took my best shot and saw my French getting trashed.
The german infantry now advance to the empty barn and claim their first objective. Very bad omen for my French.
The british on the other hand seem confident enough. Two PzII´s are burning and the entrenched infantry and sniper team enjoy themselves pinning and destroying any german infantry that ventures beyond those fields.
The BEF reinforcements also arrive in the form of a light tank platoon and an additional infantry section. The Vickers MkVI C shows it´s new BESA 15mm autocannon and moves toward the woods.
The lorried infantry moves up the road and disembark. The two MKVI B´s also speed ahead to reinforce the river line at the ford.
On the german right flank, the PzIII´s move ahead. Accompanying infantry give support towards the barn. My Char B tries some area fire with 75mm HE against them but to no effect.
It is turn 6 and the germans need to contest the railway bridge if they want to avoid taking a BR counter by rescoring (very important, because it cannot be a benefical one). They lay all the covering suprresing fire they can with their tanks and succeed in pinning the british infantry. Then they recklessly send an MG team running to the bridge in order to be 10 inches from it and deny the re-scoring. They got insanely lucky and survive a storm of fire from the other side of the river. Luck favors the bold Nazis…..
Menawhile my Somuas counterattack beyond the river. One tries to gain advantage of the river depression to hide its hull and try a shot at the advancing PzIII.
The Somua aims…. and fails! Damn 1-man turret!! In order to spot an obscured boche tank I need 4+. Give us bigger turrets!
The PzII Zug leader observes the railway bridge and plan on how to take it.
The germans cannot find a way to reach that bridge without getting pinned or killed in that patch of open terrain between the fields and the bridge. Several infantry teams try it, but then run the gauntlet of british fire. The Vickers HMG on the second floor of the building on the other side of the river proves specially dangerous. It would constantly pin the german infantry with very long range burst (at 37 inches).
Do not let them reach the bridge! Five rounds, rapid!
The lights have arrived! Take care of those jerries!! The 2 pdr gun fires and misses several shots vs the PzII´s.
My Somua thinks this time it´s the time. Roll to observe….. a “2”… one-man turret curse. This Somua cannot see a thing!
My Char B is growing impatient. With only 5 AT rounds on its 47mm gun, I need to make each shot count.
The German right veers to the left, and tries to reinforce the attack on the bridge. Two PzIII´s reinforce the center. All the tanks now pour a round of concentrated MG and autocannon fire on the british entrenched section this side of the river and killed them to the man. The bridge is now dangerously unprotected.
The PanzerJaëger and the armoured supply vehicle take support positions.
Meanwhile, at the windmill, the BEF HQ evaluates the situation. Constant BR attrition is costing us dearly. A lot of 4s and 5´s is degrading our BR total to a dangerous level. The mortar tube is red of constant firing.
Luck is definitely gearing towards the germans. Their HQ bets hard and calls one of their artillery requests. They go straight to the top. They request army support, and after successful priority and comms rolls obtain a 170mm K18 battery. The battery fires and he barrage lands on top of the Vickers MK VI C and blew it to the other side of the channel.
With no more enemy troops on the german side of the bridge, the leading PzII moves full speed ahead and gains a foot on the bridge! (no objective control though, remember only infantry can control objectives)
Ahhh, this is the moment I was waiting for! Destroying a tank while crossing and blocking the bridge. My ambushing Char B 47mm turret gun aims and…..fails to observe!!!!! Grrrrrrr. This 1-man turrets are indeed evil. Second attempt and I acquire the target, but then fail to hit! Galahad also tries to stop that little cunt but both shots also miss! Lucky bastard!
The German advance is now in full swing. Emboldened by the heroic deeds of PzII #13 (really?.:-( ), the rest of their force dash to the bridge.
Our BR count is near breaking point. I decide that a French armoured counterattack is our only hope for victory. My entire Somua platoon attacks through the orchard seeking to do some damage to the germans there
The germans seem to be happy just to wait in ambush for my cavalry tanks. But I have no choice. I have to endure it and engage them in a close duel (visibility inside the orchard is 12 inches).
The BEF went mental with that bold PzII at the middle of the bridge. Anyone with a weapon is ordered to fire at it but fail. At long last, it is the Light Vickers tanks that pin it with their twin MG´s. All the while german mortar fire has not stopped for a turn. Bombs rained down on that ford for the entire game.
The german right flank force now also dash to the bridge, eliminating the annoying sniper team at the same time.
Lucky#13 viewed from the binoculars of the BEF commander at the windmill
The rest of the PzII Zug now reaches the river and start to eliminate all sorts of BEF infantry presence at the ford site with lethal aimed autocannon fire. Both the 2 pdr gun and the entrenched infantry section are decimated.
The advance on the right continues. My Char B on the other side tries to stop them. Again, 47mm AT fire, but I could not observe or hit a thing! The German maneuvering is proving effective. The French are totally demoralized.
Final showdown at the orchard. The waiting germans ambush the somuas obtaining several hits at very close distance. But, being “L” armoured, the Somuas withstand all hits. No one penetrated. The following morale tests were all good. So, now it´s my time!
I fired in return, but being obscured and having moved I could not see or hit a thing! Enough!!!!!!
I want to destroy something pleaseeeee!!!!
Next turn, the Germans fired at me again, also encountering some thick French steel. It helped the French that the Stug is only loaded with HE (penetration 2 and not 4).
Totally demoralized, I went open fire order with two Somuas and the other tried to outflank. But to no avail, 1-man turret devilry attacks again and I cannot observe most of the attempts, hitting only one shot, bouncing the armor of the PzIII. I quit!
Last turns of the game saw the Germans now crossing the bridge with all the armour they can. Tzo PzII´s are now on the other side and a PzIII starts the crossing.
The PzII´s now dedicate themselves to engage the light Vickers tanks.
PzII #11 shot a MK VI B from behind and hits. A successful BTCOD gives the light tank an opportunity….
He crosses the river and tries to engage the swarm of german infantry in the open that try to get to the bridge. But obviously he misses!
With a final shot from a storm of tank MG fire, the germans destroy the Vickers HMG dug-out. The resulting BR counter is a “5” and we break our BR total.
The Germans win! Last photo with the germans controlling the bridge.
The game was tons of fun. We had the most terrible luck. But the Germans also were rewarded for their boldness. The germans were 9 from breaking, so it was a balanced affair after all.
WE NEED BIGGER TURRETS!!!!
Finally, the players:
Hope you enjoyed the AAR!
see you next time