Tuesday, 27 April 2021

The Bridge at Draffelt

 The Bridge at Drauffelt

This months game is a bit of a retrospective 

This is a re-write of a scenario I wrote way back which was published in The Journal of the SOTCW (Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers) issue 51 (winter 2004/05). It is a fictional tabletop action set during the early days of the German Ardennes offensive in December 1944.

 History

With all the units thrown at the American lines on December 16th/17th surprisingly the first German troops to reach the Clerve River were actually the Volksgrenadiers of 1st Battalion, 77th Grenadier Regiment (26th Volksgrenadier Division). They moved between Hosingen and Marnach to arrive at the stone bridge over the Clerve near the village of Drauffelt. They found the bridge intact and unguarded and by December 18th, German armour was freely moving over the bridge.    

Scenario Background

It is December 16th 1944, yesterday this was a quiet sector where your division (US 28th Infantry) had been placed to rest and recover from the bloody battles of the Huertgen Forest.

 Today all that seems far away, in the early hours of this morning all along the front enemy artillery has smashed down on your outposts! Communications are confused and garbled - German attacks, units cut off needed help and ammunition....

 You are a captain part of the divisional supply column based at Wiltz. At 2230 you were summoned to divisional HQ and ordered to assume command of an ad-hoc task force and move to the village of Drauffelt on the Clerve River and secure the stone road bridge there. You force is to dig in and await the arrival of engineers from the 44th Combat Engineer Battalion who are also being dispatched with orders to demolish it. This mission is vital to the division's defensive scheme as preventing the enemy from gaining the solid stone bridge would delay their advance.

 After organising your men and equipment you small force set off into the night along the dark winding country roads. You finally arrive at the village at 0330 (December 17th) and set about organising your defences. To your surprise you find the village occupied by the supply and repair elements of the 707th Tank Battalion, you immediately (with the aid of your trusty 1st Sergeant) assume command of these men and add them to your command.

 Initial contact

It is now 1400 all morning the sounds of heavy fighting have been rolling down from the hills to the north of your position. You knew from the radio net that 2nd Battalion 110th Infantry were to mount at counter-attack to reinforce the regiment`s forward positions along what is known as "Skyline Drive" - the road which runs north-south across the front. So you were not unduly worried, there has been a steady flow of civilian refugee traffic fleeing westward across the bridge too.

 Suddenly one of your lookouts spots something approaching from the east. Through your binoculars you can make out men on bicycles! You order your men to stand too, this is it the Germans are here!

American Defenders

Team Claydon

HQ

CO, NCO, RTO, runner

1st platoon

10 men inc .30cal MMG

2nd platoon

6 men inc BAR

MPs

4 carbine armed MPs

Support

57mm AT + 4 crew

Elements 707th tank battalion

2 x 7man platoons (small arms only)

Disabled M4 Sherman (6 rds of AP, 4 rds of HE, hull MG) 

This tank has a blown transmission but can be placed and a pillbox 

Reinforcements turn16

Elements CCR 9th Armoured Division

M5 lt tank

Armd infantry platoon in halftrack w/.50cal

10 men (BAR, Bazooka)

German attackers

 Elements of I Battalion 77th Grenadier Regiment

2 x 10 man platoons (each with a LMG and a Panzerfaust) mounted on bicycles

6 turns after the initial contact

1 x platoon (as above)

Kompanie HQ with: CO, driver, RTO in Kubelwagon (with radio)

80mm mortar team in lt truck

2 x M/C combs

Once one table the CO can call fire support from battalion IG75s


6 turns later

 No2 Kompanie I Battalion, 77th Grenadier Regiment

HQ (CO, NCO, 3 x runners, Panzerschreck team)

3 platoons of 10 men (LMG & Panzerfaust each)

6 turns later

M/C recce platoon (26 VG HQ)

10 men (2 x LMG, 1 Panzerfaust)

1 Pioneer platoon (in lt truck)

10 men (Flamethrower, demo charge)

Stug III (from 26th Division A/T company)



Table

Looking towards Drauffelt



Drauffelt Bridge

Allied side of the river Clerve


Draufelt village HQ of 707th Tank Battalion



The Americans dug in west of the river, emplacing the 57mm on the right of the road and their .30cal in the ruined cottage with infantry covering both weapons. The MPs were dug in further back as a fallback. The 707th personnel were deployed within Drauffelt, the M4 was towed to the edge of the village where it could cover the bridge.



Turn 1-4

The German cyclists advance on the bridge where they dismounted to cross when they come under fire from the .30cal and suffer a couple of casualties.



Turns 5-6

The two platoons spread out, their LMGs returned fire against the .30cal, the US 57mm fired HE over open sights against the spread out Germans!

Some lucky rolling sees the .30cal team knocked out

Turn 7

sees the second German wave arrive on table.


The initial platoons seeing the .30cal silenced try and cross the bridge. They come under intense rifle fire and the 57mm fires at point blank range also causing casualties and forces them back!

Turn 8-9

The second German wave arrives at the bridge, the Kompanie CO takes charge ordering the mortar and calling in 75IG fire onto known US positions.





Over the next few turns mortar and 75IG fire plus infantry LMGs paced the US positions.

Turn 12-13

One group of Germans cross the bridge whilst more ford the river


The first men reaching the west side of the bridge caught a 75mm round from the Sherman

Turn 12 also saw the arrival of the German 3rd wave

Turn 14-16

The Germans cross the river and occupy the ruin cottage and over-run the 57mm position. The Kompanie CO organises the crossing, bringing forward the mortar to the bridge to cover this advance.

 

Turn 16 sees the arrival of the 9th Armoured recce unit


Turn 16 also sees the 2nd German company reach the bridge

The M4 uses its limited 75mm ammo to blast the ruined cottage

Turn 17 sees the US recce unit advance towards the bridge to support what was left of their infantry. The M5 uses its 37mm and Brownings to blast the ruined cottage whilst the armoured infantry deploy and move forward.


Turn 18 the M5 is targeted by the mortar and 75IG so moves off the road to its left.

The German platoon commander pops up and deals with the M5 with a Panzerfaust!

Turn 18 also sees the latest German reinforcements arriving on table


Turns 19-20

The US armd infantry spread out to the left of the road, they begin a protracted duel with elements of the first German company

Behind them in the village the tank crew/repair personnel prepare to defend their billet

Whilst the second German company crosses the bridge

Turns 21-23

Mortar and IG fire eventually eliminates the armd infantry and a flanking move down the right (the US left) led by the German 1st company commander catches the MPs and remains of the infantry exposed and drives them from their positions. Only the halftrack driver manning his vehicle .50cal and the Sherman`s hull MG prevents the German 2nd company causing a complete route!

Turns 24-25



The Germans call up their Stug III which exchanges a couple of shots with the Sherman and opens the road to further advance. With the loss of the Sherman, the US morale breaks, everyman for himself.......

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