How to lose a Kampfgruppe in 3 turns. A Battlegroup Blitzkrieg AAR

Outskirts of Calais, France, May 24th, 1940. Late afternoon.
German forces of the 10th Panzer Division try to close in with the belaguered defenders of Calais.
Mixed forces from 3rd RTR and the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps (The 60th) try to stop them.

This a Blitzkrieg small platoon-level game (420 points each). I met up with my friend Alejandro “Moncha” Moncy on a wednesday morning, at 9am, and with all day available, decided to play this scenario 2 times, switching sides for more fun.

We played over a 6×4 table. There is a road that traverses the terrain in a south-north direction towards Calais (to the north). The germans are attacking from the south (the far short edge). There is a high-walled orchard on the west side of the road and a farm complex on the east side of the road. The British defend the north side (the near short edge)
We used my nightime grassland matt (from cigarbox matts)
A view from the North:

A view from the west:

The scenario was “strongpoint assault”. I´ve never played this scenario before and thought the attacker would have a huge advantage in being allowed to deploy his whole force at the start and a good 20 inches inside the table. I was, however, deceived….

Scenario Home rules were the same we use all times:
– Only infantry can control objectives
– We “re-score” objectives every 6 turns (on turns 6 & 12)
– No unit entering the table can give an “open fire” order
– We alowed for “dummy” defenses and hidden troops
– There were 3 objectives: The MG pillbox, The westernmost house and the Easternmost house of the farm complex.

This would be the baptism of fire of my BEF´s A9 platoon and carrier section and have great hopes for them.
For a change, i would play both games and not be the umpire.

The Forces Available were:
GERMAN panzer division: BR total 30. Officers:4 (four). 418 points.
Player in command: my very good friend Alejandro “Moncha” Moncy

Forward HQ on a Sdkfz 265
Schutzen Infantry Platoon (on 4 trucks)
– HQ squad
– 3x Rifle Squads
– 3x MG teams
– Light Mortar team
– MMG team
– 75mm infantry gun w/tow
Panzer III platoon (i don´t have the exact F version, so we played with our “G´s” with 50mm guns)
– 1x Pz III F (officer)
– 2 x Pz III F
1 Kradchutzen recon patrol (rifle team + MG team)
1 Sdkfz 222
2 x 80mm off-table mortars

All german forces start deployed up to 20 inches from the southern edge.
Up to 6 units may form a flanking force which could enter the table from turn 3 on one flank.
The germans selected 1 PzIII, 1 section & platoon hq both on trucks and a sdkfz222 to be the flanking force. They would enter at the eastern table edge (this is kept secret from the BEF player)

BEF Battlegroup: BR total 33. Officers: 4 (four) 420 points.
Player in command: an ugly beast

Forward HQ on foot
Infantry Platoon (on foot)
– HQ squad
– 3x rifle squads
– Light Mortar team
– AT rifle team
– 2pdr AT gun w/loader team
– Medium Mortar team w/loader team
A9 platoon
– 1x A9 (officer)
– 1x A9
– 1x A9 CS
Carrier section (a hefty 6BR!)
-1x carrier command team
-1x carrier bren team
-1x carrier light mortar team
Sniper + Spotter
Defenses
– Foxholes for 20 infantry
– AT gun dug out
– Dummy AT gun dugout
– Improvised roadblock
– MG pillbox (free!)
– a Pit for the medium mortar


I was very surprised to see that even after having purchased some defenses, the BEF BR total is more than the Germans.
The BEF starts with the whole infantry platoon + supports deployed on table. And from turn 4 on, the reserves can come in. The reserves are the A9 platoon and the carrier section:

All BEF forces deployed on table start “hidden”. They are physically deployed on the table, but with a “hidden marker” (a white counter in our case). That means that they cannot be targeted with aimed fire (area fire is ok) from more than 10 inches (20 inches for scout units) away until discovered. Also, they are treated as if were 1 level of cover more than they are until discovered. The hidden marker is removed when the hidden troops move or fire or when succesfully observed by the enemy (at 10/20 inches).
FIRST GAME
The first game was a tough contest, we were both on the verge of defeat at 28BR, and then on german turn 6, 2 lonely survivors of a rifle team assaulted the pinned BEF forward HQ on a building, and with 6 grenades eliminated it. That meant 2 BR counters and end of battle for the BEF. Regretably I have almost no photos of that battle (to busy trying not to lose). The MVP for that first game went to a lucky sdkfz222 bastard who knocked out two A9´s!! and lived to enjoy the triumph

SECOND GAME
The second game was a very fast and boring game. But with some lessons learned by the Germans and some nice photos. So, deserved a litlle AAR.
The game lasted not even 3 full turns, for it ended at the start of german turn 3, with a total german blunder.

The germans outscouted the british. The germans got the first turn (by scenario).
Time-wise, we take this BR counter (for outscouted), and the BR counters for posession of starting objectives at the end of the beneficiary turn, just to save trouble on the timing of special events.
Two BEF units waited in ambush positions (AT gun and MG pillbox). The preliminary barrage managed only to pin a single british unit (Vickers MG on the western house)

German turn 1

The germans deployed the kradschutzen, one truck-borne section and 2xPzIII F in the middle. Then one truck-borne section on the eastern flank. The infantry gun deployed in the enclosed field also on the eastern flank.
The truck on the eastern edge disembarked the infantry section and advanced towards the wood.

Panoramic of the german advance. The kradchutzen disembarked and gained the cover of the shellholes in front of the walled orchard

Then, when the infantry-loaded truck in the centre tried to disembark its cargo, the MG pillbox in ambush stopped its movement and poured two rounds of aimed fire into the truck. 12 dice at less than 20 inches made short work of the truck. 2 more men died also from surplus hits. The infantry must disembark, pinned, and check moral. The MG team failed and routed. The rifle team stood firm, pinned. End result: 2 BR counters for the germans.


Low orders roll meant mortar support should be called with care. Germans require a lot of orders to move forward when embarked.
The forward HQ in his Befelswagen tried to contact the mortar battery, but comms failed.
As an unwise move, the germans took a BR counter to unpin the shaken rifle team that survided the ambush. And that ended the turn. The british took a BR counter also for being outscouted.

British turn 1

The BEF used his orders to put almost all his forces on ambush fire. BEF defenses from east to west:

The 1st rifle section in foxholes defending the farm complex

The real 2 pdr AT gun in his dug-out covering th aproaches to the farm complex. Always try to deploy AT guns deep into the defence line. Too much forward deployed guns tend to die easily to small arms fire.
The white marker denotes the unit is “hidden” and we use the numbered counters to mark the orders available

The BEF left a mobile reserve behind the walled orchard, ready to move where it is required. It consisted of the 2nd rifle section and the Boys AT rifle.

Also the 2inch mortar in a foxhole is deployed well up front, where he can be put to good use (it has a 20inches range only)

The 3rd infantry section and the “dummy” 2pdr AT gun dug-out on the western edge of the table:

The 3inch mortar and its loader team in a reinforced pit on the northwest corner of the table

The BEF hq requested that mortar support fire from their vantage point in the second floor of the farm complex. The loader team was successfull in pouring 3 bombs at the advancing germans, pinning a PzIIIF with a direct, non-penetrating hit.

To end the turn, the germans take 3 BR counters, for the british control all 3 objectives (no automatic victory can be claimed).

German turn 2

First of all, the Forward HQ succesfully contacted the off-table mortars and some mortar bombs landed amongst the tommies, but absolutely nothing was achieved (you need 4+ to pin, and reinforced cover saves are very good)
The kradschutzen advance forward and took the ruined house in the walled orchard. Some of them poured unsuccesful area fire on the MG pillbox. The surviving schutzen rifle team advanced forward also.

Then, the two PzIII´s veered to the right and confront the MG pillbox. They make a round of aimed fire and cause a kill in the MG pillbox (casualties only on 1´s) but the two remaining crew´s moral is shaken enough to make them pinned. Meanwhile, the leIG18 in the enclosed field tries to pin the sniper.

But the british sniper team is on overwatch!! Readying his bren gun (Jadotville-style) the team fires at the infantry gun and hits. But a steel helmet saves the gun commander from certain death (6´s are 6´s)

To finish the turn the germans again draw a BR counter to unpin the PzIII that was pinned by mortar fire. It is an aircraft counter. Perhaps the luftwaffe would come to help!

British turn 2
The BEF has an uneventful turn. Both hq units (forward & platoon) fail their comms test (with comm breakdown, allied forces need 4+!) and cannot produce mortar support. Some other units renew their ambush orders. But, for most of them it´s just stay where they are, in ambsuh, and with their hidden markers active. Next turn there is a fair chance of the german reserves arrive from either flank. And, until knowing on which edge the germans will arrive, the british prefer not commit themselves. The british feel they are secure, with good chances, but no one could predict what would happen next….
To end the turn, the british unpin the MG pillbox taking a BR counter.

German turn 3
First of all, the aircarft counter must be resolved, but the plane flies overhead to distant targets.
The germans roll for the flanking force, and obtaining a “5”, succeed in bringing it to the table. They have chosen the eastern edge, and can deploy up to 10 inches from the middle of the eastern edge of the table.

They elect to deploy the farther north they could, but that puts them dangerously close to the waiting BEF. The flanking force consists of a PzIII, a sdkfz 222, the platoon hq, light mortar team, rifle team & MG team, all infantry mounted in trucks. As demonstrated in the first turn, loaded trucks are a real liability, for if they were catch loaded, they could spell doom.

An intact rifle section and the real 2pdr AT gun, both are waiting in ambush

And a deluge of bullets come forth from the rifle section. With a ROF of 9, they elect to target both fully loaded trucks. Observing very easily (on 2+, vehicles in the open), they shred the trucks apart.
The HQ truck (the protze) destroyed, units inside disembark, pinned, and check morale. Both the platoon hq and the light mortar fail and surrender. the germans take 3BR counters!

The large opel blitz is also destroyed, units inside disembark, pinned, and check morale. Both the rifle team and the MG team fail and also surrender! That´s another 3 BR counters!!!
That massive surrender and the 6BR counters put the germans over their BR total and the rest of the Kampfgruppe must withdraw. BEF wins!
The 2 pdr AT gun does not even have to reveal itself. The BEF reserves did not even have time to show up. They are told the business here is done, and they became available to help somewhere else. Perhaps Calais could hold a little longer!

The final positions

Conclusions
The first game was a real entertaining and balanced game. The germans won by a very small margin, having killed the BEF hq at the precise moment.

The second game was a disaster for the germans. Was a very short, sharp slaughter. They have made serious blunders. They took 9 (nine!) BR counters from destroyed trucks out of their total 13 taken during the short battle.
If I must precise 3 main german mistakes on the second battle:

a) Do not EVER go gentle into that ambush with fully loaded trucks!! In this game it happened once in the first turn, but then again in the last turn. 9 BR counters is gg.
b) Unpin only when necessary. Both in turn 1 & 2 the germans took a BR counter to unpin only ONE unit. Unpinning the tank it´s ok, but taking a counter to unpin a rifle team away from the action seems unwise.
c) Think carefully if you take off-table dedicated artillery support. Maybe you would never have the orders to use it and/or they represent a great % of your total points and you can use those points in something more useful. In this case, my mistake was purchasing 54 points of mortar suport which did nothing at all in the game.

Another dissapointment was that my newly painted A9´s & carriers did nothing!!!! Destroyed by a 222 bastard in the first game, and not even entering the table in the second. Next game would be their revenge.
As a last sentence, always warn your opponent when he is advancing towards your ambush with loaded trucks! and let him change his mind. It´s a nice touch and allows for a much more fun game.
Hope you enjoyed the AAR!

Best Regards,

4 Comments

  1. Captain Darling

    Thanks for posting your AARs, I’m not familiar with these rules I’ll have to look them up.
    Wonderful terrain and nice figures and vehicles…

    Reply

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