BEF Counter-attack at Berneville. A BG Blitzkrieg AAR.

May 21st, 1940. 1st army tank brigade plus some Durham light Infantry try to blunt the german advance across northern France.

First victory for the BEF!
After two defeats, the third attempt to break the german defences near Berneville was successful.
A defence line scenario. 683 points per side. Company level game. 683 points is still within the boundary of a platoon level game (under 751 points), but you can have a LOT of stuff in Blitzkrieg times with 700 points!. So, I decided to give each side 3D6 orders. That would still grant some kind of command disruption, but grant the ability to move some stuff. Speccially since both side have access to some big off-table batteries that consume orders like mad.

BEF force: (BR50)
-HQ
-Forward signals truck
– A11 Infantry tank platoon (3x matilda I tanks)
– A12 Infantry tank platoon (3x matilda II tanks)
– Additional A11 tank (with 0.5 vickers mg)
– Light tank platoon (2x Vickers mk VI B, 1x mk VI C). Just basecoated, a lot of paint work remaining.
– Infantry platoon.
– light 2″ mortar team
– Boys AT rifle team
– Vickers HMG
– Recce foot patrol
– sniper + spotter
– Morris CS9 recce command
– Artillery spotter in light car
– off-table Artillery support: 4x 25pdr gun battery

This is practically all the stuff i got (only the A9´s and 2 pdr AT guns left behind).
I really want to use the mighty power of british 4-gun batteries (also availabe in the desert Tobruk book). At 180 points it’s a waste of points. But i want them anyway. In the end they fired only 4 times, to minimal effect.

GERMANS: (infantry division list). BR:35

-HQ
-Forward signals unit in a sdkfz 223. RCN.
-Infantry platoon
– light mortar team
– AT rifle team
– sniper + spotter
– 2x PAK36 AT guns
– 20 mm flak 38 AA gun
– 88 mm flak 36 AA/AT gun with loader team
– Off-table artillery support (3x 80mm mortar battery)
– 1x Pre-registered target
– 2x 2nd priority fire support requests
Defences:
– MMG pillbox
– Artillery observation post
– foxholes for all the infantry, sniper, light mortar & AT rifle
– 2x AT gun dug-outs
– roadblock
-dummy defences (duplicate all defences)
– nazi flak resolve (for the 88mm gun)
Reserves:
– Panzerjaeger I
– 2x Stug III A assault guns
– Armored supply vehicle

I want something different from the usual panzers. So i went for the infantry division list with some tweaks. I want the Stugs and I want the panzerjaeger I. Always field a supply vehicle with your Stugs!.
For the PanzerJaeger, I give it´s 47mm czech gun penetration 5 (discussed with Warwick in the guild) for a litlle more points.

Ze Germans

As usual we played with all the defenders with “hidden” counters (-1 to observation, +1 to saving rolls, no aimed fire until to 10″) until revealed.
The detailed rules for hidden units here: http://www.guildwargamers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=303&t=45245

The terrain. viewed from the 4 sides:

From the british side
From the German side
from the west
from the east

There were 3 objectives, all in the german main defence zone. As usual, only infantry can take and control objectives. And also as usual, we re-scored the objectives at turns 6 and 12. That is, if the attacker does not manage to get an infantry unit within 10 inches of an objective by that time, he draws another BR chit for each one. This simple system puts pressure on the attacker and compels him to advance (instead of sitting on open fire orders).

The Battle:

Not a turn by turn AAR. Just some highlights of some pics.

The 88mm takes position dominating the town square.
Their crew are nazi fanatics, inmune to confusion counters.
(This is a special scenario rule. I do not want the main weapon of the germans to be eliminated by a lucky confusion counter). His sdkfz7 stands ready beside it. The loader team prepares the extra ammo.

Dominanting 88

German defenders of the right flank, including a possible Pak36 dug out. When playing with Dummy defences, we place all AT Dugouts as “real” ones. Until they are revealed. You just need double the models!

Right flank german defences

German defenders of the left flank, including a 20mm flak gun guarding the bridge and a possible? Pak36 AT dug-out

Flak on the bridge

The flak gunners lowering the barrel in order to engage ground targets.

engage ground targets!

Signal troops park their 223 in the garden

parking in the garden

The BEF starts its attack on the german left flank. A bold CS9 starts a mad charge to scout ahead. And he discovers a Dug-in AT Pak36.

BEF attacks!

The CS9 decides to charge ahead, ignoring the danger. It bypass a pak36, a rifle squad and the panzerbüsche.

CS9 mad charge! I

Now, in the german turn. The CS9 succeeded in atracting al the attention from the germans. The Pak turns around and fires. It missed. The panzerBüsche also fires twice (no need to turn). It misses also. The 20mm flak also turns and fires.

CS9 Mad charge! II

And the flak crew did not miss. A direct hit to the hull penetrates the armor and kills the driver.

CS9 mad charge! III

As the remaining crew bails out, the german lmg team guarding the bridge cheer their teammates.

CS9 burns

The BEF main force deploy infantry and tanks to support the Morris mad charge

A12´s to the rescue

In the centre, the A11 deploy and start a sluggish advance. With infantry in support.

A11´s in the centre

Thunderous Matilda I goes for the bunker

go for the bunker!

Vickers HMG,platoon command and FAO also deploys in the centre.

supports

The A12’s suffer constant pinning from the german mortars. A very bold infantry section charges ahead to get to grips with the germans in the trenches. In a text-book maneuver, the foot patrol behind lay some supressive fire on the trenches to keep the german´s heads down.

80mm shelling

A11’s continue to advance (at glorious 6″ a turn at full speed!). But they run into an ambushing 88mm gun. With penetration 7 at more than 30″ makes short work of the leading Matilda. This marks a milestone in our BG gaming history. After 23 direct hits on Matildas, this is the first to be actually penetrated and destroyed.
The light tank platoon deploys also on the BEF centre. They were just basecoated, but very useful they are indeed. Compared to the infantry tanks, they move blindingly fast.

First Matilda penetrated in battle

Mighty A11 Matilda I tanks of 4th RTR advance towards that pesky 88mm gun.

Pure A11 Matilda I power!

Constant mortaring from the german 80mm battery makes life difficult for the BEF trucks. Also, mighty Deoch (the A11 platoon leader, with it´s 0,50cal Vickers HMG) breaks down and its abandoned by its crew.

constant 80mm mortaring

The other pak36 reveal itself just for the photo. Nothing british come from this side of the board. Next time we play this scenario i will give them an sdkfz 10 tow, to give it some mobility.

Bored PAK awaits more BEF on this side.

Which Matilda do you prefer Fritz?
At this moment the british artillery started to rain stonks over them. Pinning them for most of the rest of the game. British 4-gun batteries could be devastating. But the BEF FAO´s were poorly positioned and could not see where the spotting rounds were landing. By our rules, if the spotting round lands outside of LOS of the FAO, then the barrage is treated as if were “harrassment” (re-roll all 6´s) but with the standrad 10″ radius.
The german commander does not like this and would invest 3 consecutive tactical coordinations on the Flak36 until the game’s end. This would severely erode their BR.

choose one Matilda Fritz…

An artillery request from the german commander gets the attention of 210mm howitzer battery.
They are directed towards the incoming matildas. With fear, the tanks withstand the barrage, even direct hits from that monstrous howitzers. One tank commander, boldened by the “clank” succeeds a BTCOD and advances another 6″ inches full speed!

210mm howitzer barrage

Meanwhile, the big A12 brothers managed to run over the pak36 position. The Supporting infantry charge the trenches and easily gets rid of its occupants. But they were turned away by a second line of LMG teams covering the bridge. One Matilda lags behind (not in the photo), immobilised by mortars.

A12´s break the line

German reinforcements arrive! They start to pour shots on the distant Matildas. But no hits are scored.

German reinforcements

Last image. The A11’s have gained a foothold on the square.
The Vickers light tanks have moved beyond the stone wall and cleaned the road of pesky MG34 teams. All the while evading 88mm shots!
The bunker was cleared by a combination of HMG supression and sniper discipline.
Infantry advances in support.
At all moments, condimented with german mortars.
At this point the germans break their BR and they retire from the field. Perhaps abusing of tactical coordinations (they used 4!).

The battle is over

A great game. I very much desired to see my newly built BEF in action.
A real challenge for both sides is how to handle the Matildas. They are nearly impervious to AT fire. But constant shelling and direct non-penetrating hits can keep them pinned most of the time. That, and their sluggish speed make them a difficult weapon to use properly when in the attack.
Next time, it would be an attack near Abbeville, just to test the cruiser tanks. A lot of A13´s in the making!

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