Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Delle 2 - the re-match

 Delle version 2

This is a refight of the scenario I ran before Christmas with alterations based on the first games results. 

Lorraine, 24th November 1944

As the allied forces cleared France of the German occupiers, the troops of Operation Anvil, the landings in Southern France, joined the right flank of Overlord, the troops from Normandy. Prominent among these new arrivals was the French 1st Army under General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. Back home with a score to settle. An aggressive attack through the Vosges into Lorraine brought them to the banks of the Rhine - the first Allied soldiers to reach the river. But in so doing, the French 1st Armoured Division had raced ahead of it`s infantry and left a large gap behind them.

Though German general Balck wanted to withdraw across the Rhine, but Hitler saw an opportunity and ordered a counter-attack into this gap to the Swiss frontier to encircle and possible destroy 1st Armoured.

Balck protested in vain, but there was nothing to be done but order his one decent formation - the sorely battered 198th Infantry into battle! 

This introduction borrowed directly from the scenario "Pas de Charge" from Hans Johannsen`s "White Star Rising" scenario pack for Spearhead rules.

Now I don`t play large battles with divisional sized units, but there are elements of this action which are interesting and highly adaptable to the scale I enjoy - company/battalion level. Supporting the 198th ID was elements of the much depleted 30th Waffen SS Division (2nd Russian) and what was left of 106th Panzer Brigade. These faced elements of the French 9th Colonial Division.

The 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Belarusian) 

Was a short-lived German Waffen SS infantry division formed largely from Byelorussian, Russian and Ukrainian personnel of the Schutzmannschaft- Brigade Siegling in August 1944. The division was transferred to South-eastern France by mid-August 1944 to combat the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). The division's performance in combat was poor, and two battalions mutinied, murdered their German leaders, and some actually defected to the FFI. Other troops of the division simply abandoned their posts and crossed the Swiss border and were interned. Afterwards, some of the division's personnel were eventually transferred to the Russian Liberation Army while others were retained to form the SS "White Ruthenian" infantry brigade from January 1945.

Whilst considered unreliable with the French breaking through to the Rhine, the Germans were forced to commit whatever they had available. Accounts of the actions are sparse but most agree the elements of 30th SS which participated gave a fair account of themselves.

 French 9th Colonial Division

Was established on 15 July 1943, in North Africa, with colonial units from either French West Africa or units that were stationed in Morocco and Algeria. Many escapees from France who reached North Africa via Spain came to swell these units. At the time, the 9th DIC was mainly made up of Africans from all the territories of the AOF.

 The division took part in the invasion of Corsica in June 1944, then were shipped to Southern France the first elements landing on August 20th. Took part in the Capture of Toulon, then through September took part in the general advance towards the German/Swiss border region.

Late in September, The 6th, 21st and 23rd RIC (regiments colonial infantry) respectively replace the 4th, 6th and 13th regiments Tirailleurs Senegal. During October 9200 white volunteers from the FFI replace black tirailleurs; this is the "blanchiment"! It is possible the Free French felt non-whites may antagonise the Germans (as happened after WW1) also Black and Moorish units were accused to rape and pillage after WW1 (and in Italy before the French were withdrawn for Anvil/Dragoon) and maybe the Free French wanted to avoid this? But another explanation has been forwarded that it was deliberately done by De Gaulle to get the communists and other troublemakers under military control. 

This of course meant that infantry units within the division were mostly made up of troops with little or no formal military training under a cadre of experienced officers and NCOs. The volunteers were highly motivated, but lacked the field craft, of which instruction has to be given live in contact with the enemy, depending on the circumstances and life in the sector.

This "Blanchiment" infuriated a number of American commanders as it significantly degraded the combat effectiveness of the French divisions.

The game

So we have an interesting mostly all infantry action between a below par SS battalion supported by odds`n sods against a highly motivated but basically trained Free French infantry unit - for me perfect! Now I did a brief bit of digging and it appears 30th SS had virtually no artillery or support weapons, but I`ve given the battalion MMGS and 80mm mortars to toughen them up a bit.

French forces

Elements of 23nd RIC

II Battalion 23st RIC (Regiment Infantry Colonial)

Battalion HQ



3 rifle companies



 Regimental AT company

Elements of Regimental Recce battalion


Off table support

Cannon Company 23rd RIC with 2 x 105mm short (off table)

Can by directed by any infantry company or the battalion HQ

 Reinforcements arrive on turn 11 from the East

Armoured groupe from 1st Armoured Division

 French orders

With lightning speed the Free French 1st Armoured Division has thrust though a gap in the German lines around Delle and reached the Rhine, the first Allied troops to do so. Your Division has been ordered to link up with the armoured units; and hold open a corridor to keep them supplied. Now your regimental recce. Has reported German troops moving down towards the highway, you`re regiment is spread thin. Your orders are to hold open the road which runs west to east and prevent the Germans cutting off 1st Armoured from the rest of the 1st Army. Delle is a key road junction and highly valuable as a supply base for future operations towards the Rhine and Germany itself and must be held at all costs. 

Second game amendments

After some thought on the first game I decided on the re-run with some adjustments to the Axis orbat. It seemed pretty clear the SS had little to no actual chance of winning or even getting draw as they just didn`t have enough strength (or speed) to cross the table in the face of the dug-in French with all their mortar, machine guns and off table artillery.

Elements 30th SS

 Composite battalion HQ

 3 rifle companies each of:

HQ – officer, NCO, 2 runners, RTO (*) (**)

3 platoons each with:

10 figs inc LMG team, a panzerfaust

 * 1st and 3rd company HQs have an MG42 on tripod + 4 crew attached (gunner, loader, 2 ammo bearers)


** 2nd company HQ has a Panzershreck team and sniper attached    

Support

81mm mortar battery (off table) the FOO starts the game concealed on table, the mortars can also be directed via company HQs

The sneaky German FOO

75mm IG + tow & crew

Platoon of engineers in truck (flame-thrower) have enough mines to sow a 6” x 2” mixed med density field

Elements of Panzer Brigade 106

 1 x Panzer IVH

1 x Stug III

1 x Marder IIIM

1 x Sdkfz 11 mitt 20mm

2 x platoons panzer grenadiers (LMG, Panzerfaust)


German orders

Your battlegroup is supporting the main attack by the 198th Infantry Division against the French at Delle. Your orders are to break through French screening forces and cut the road leading from Delle to the Rhine thus isolating French units who have already reached the Rhine east of Delle, so they can be destroyed piece meal by counter-attacking German forces.  

 Notes

Weather is wet and cold with low cloud so neither side has access to air support. 

The table and French deployment are exactly as before, except the battalions 3rd company was now held off table nearer Delle (on the French left) and will only be released back to the battalion on turn 10.  

A few pics of the table for those who can`t be bothered to check the other post:



New game SS deployment

No1 Kompanie with the Panzer on the far right

No2 Kompanie with the towed IG75 attached in the centre, battalion HQ will enter the table on turn 3 following this kompanie

Elements of Panzer Brigade 106 down the track, to be followed by the engineers

No3 Kompanie supported by the Marder on the far left 

 The first few turns saw the SS advance through the wooded hills taking fire form the off table French Cannon Company and on table mortars.

The Stug on the track was immediately engaged by the French 57mm (both missed their first shot), the Stug wiped out gun one in return.

Turn 2 saw the recce troops picketing the French right confronted by the SS flanking move which they engaged at long range with their .50cals. This unexpected German advance caused the French commander of the 2nd company to order all his reserves towards this flank to support the recce troops, this move started on turn 3.


Also on turn 3 the Panzer IV moved forward to supress French MG positions, in turn it was targeted by off-table cannon fire and received light damage!

The Stug engaged the second 57mm, but was knocked out! The 57mm crew was in turn wiped out by in coming German mortar fire.

Turn 4 French MGs where holding up the SS infantry so the Sdkfz11 mitt 20mm moved forward to engage the nearest gun. Unfortunately the MG targeted the half-track and knocked it out before it could do too much damage.

On the French right the Marder wiped out the M20 and a sniper killed the .50cal gunner reducing the weapons fire this turn.

Turns 5 & 6 saw a general German advance to contact, some platoons stayed in cover providing support fire. All the time both sides mortars chipped away causing casualties, and the French cannon Company continued to bracket the Panzer IV (which led a charmed life and who`s crew passed every morale check).


The SS battalion HQ takes position in the centre so the commander can direct events, he commits his reserve platoon to back up his infantry in the centre also.

 

  Turn 7 the Panzer finally takes a direct hit and brews up!
The IG18 wipes out the last troublesome French MG position, but is itself caught under a storm of 81mm mortar fire and destroyed.


 Turn 8 sees the SS and pioneers storm the farm house at the junction whilst the Marder assists infantry clearing the remaining recce and infantry from the French right.

Turn 9 & 10 sees the SS occupy the French positions on the right (western edge), a brief counter attack by the French 1st company led by its commander gets bogged down and pinned among the haystacks by SS LMGs.

Turn 11 sees the arrival the 1st Armoured relief column on the French right and the battalion`s
3rd company arriving on foot on the left. Whilst the SS hold most of the ruins and ex-French entrenchments north of the road, it seems unlikely they could stand against a concerted counter-attack from both flanks.
French 3rd company arrives on table
French 1st Armoured


 
 









 














Saturday, 22 January 2022

French air support

 Morane Saulnier MS406

A single engine fighter with retractable undercarriage. Armed with a 20mm cannon mounted in the nose and two 7.5mm machine guns, one in each wing. Besides France, other countries bought this aircraft: Turkey, Finland, China and even Switzerland (who also built two versions under licence); Croatia also received 74 though I`m not sure if this was after 1940.

This is a SMER plastic kit, but all the sprues and the inside main body is clearly marked Heller so I assume SMER have bought and re-released the old Heller kit. Frankly the mould is showing signs of age, but with a little patience it went together OK, I added a pilot. The decals were really good and included and interesting set for a MS406 in Turkish service too. 

I picked it up in a nice little model shop in Franklin Road, Gillingham, Kent which I discovered during our trip home just before Christmas.

This will go to support my Vichy French in Syria/Lebanon and against the Torch landings







Tuesday, 18 January 2022

F4 Wildcat

 First model of 2022

Slow start to the new year, things to do, etc

We`ve had a nice couple days with blue skies and quite warm in the sun so I finally decided to get off my backside and build one of a small pile of aircraft I`d collected before Christmas.

First up some naval air support for the Torch landings an F4 Wildcat

Plastic kit by Hobby Boss which was easy to assemble, though if I do have a criticism you can only built the model with the undercarriage down unless your willing do some messing about (which I did)

  I picked it up at:

Mecamodels, Calle Arquitecto Morell, 14, 03003 Alicante 

https://mecamodel.es

A proper model shop run by people who know their stock and were helpful and pleasant.

My out door painting station, very nice too 




I`ve painted her up based on an illustration in the Armes Militaria special No20 on Operation Torch. Unfortunately the decals weren`t correct for Torch, but hey ho