The second of our Christmas games unusually for us another WW2 game :)
Drive to Mortree, South of Falaise, August 1944
To the south of Falaise the US 15th Corps and the French 2nd Armoured (2Dble) were ordered north in the direction of Argentin in order to meet the Canadians and close the pocket. 2Dble had just cleared Alencon (with some losses), but were eager to press on. German forces in the area were elements of the battered but still effective - 9th Panzer Division; a Kampfgruppe from 6th Fallschirmjager Division plus other stragglers and odd`n sods (mostly from 708th Infantry Division).
2Dble split into three tactical groups (Groupement Tactique) composing roughly of a tank battalion and an armoured infantry battalion plus supporting elements. These groups advanced north, but acted independently - more like competing units than cooperating columns. Bad tactical coordination caused traffic problems and supply issues; the French at one point crossed the fronts and caused a huge tail-back with US forces at Sees.
Groupement Tactique Langlade is tasked to seize the river crossings and road net at Villaines-la-Carelle which sits on the highway between Alencon and Sees.
Villaines is occupied by a ad hoc battalion group from 748th Infantry Regiment (708th ID), they hope reinforcements from 9th Panzer (and anyone else) will turn up soon.
Groupement Tactique Langlade was made up of two Groupe Mobiles, each with a mixed tank unit (including an M10 TD), an armd infantry company and a recce squadron
9th Panzer battlegroup (most of which never arrived)
3e Escadron RMSM (Regiment de Marche du Spahis Marocains) recce leads the way down both roads
Germans in the village
The German commander (me) had placed a couple of platoons well forward of the river these caused a little trouble before being destroyed or routed. I did bloody both recce units and delay the general advance.
My mainline of resistance was the river when the French reached the bridges they were fired on my a Pak97/38 and a Marder IIIM
The Marder creamed an M8 - hooray! :) but the Pak97/38 shell bounced off the lead Sherman which in return blew the gun and crew to bits :(
On the main highway the lead Sherman bulldozed the burning M8 out of the way, shrugged off a shot from the Marder and then brewed it up in return :(
Both roads were now choked with French columns (oh for some artillery or the Luftwaffe)
After knocking out the Marder the lead Sherman smashed through a low wall on its left to allow more tanks through, unfortunately a large calibre shell blew it to pieces almost instantly, where the hell did that come from!!!!
Beware the Tiger on the prowl...........
Then began a duel between every available French tank and this 2nd SS Tiger over several turns with the odd infantry Panzerfaust and Panzersheck rocket shot into the mix for added chaotic flavour :)
On the other side of the village 2 PzIVs along with various infantry elements fought a protracted battle against Groupe Mobile Christoph, knocking out several tanks before succumbing to the inevitable :(
This caused a bottleneck and forced this groupe to use its infantry alone to force the bridge
M32 tries to drag a damaged Sherman off the bridge whilst Regiment de Marche du Tchad infantry cross under fire
Chaos reigns in the town square, if you look carefully you`ll see no less than three burning Shermans! A M10 of 2e Escadron RBFM (Regiment blinde de Fusiliers-Marins) pushes its way through and engages the now blinded (smoked) Tiger.
The town square is still the subject of bitter house to house fighting however, during which the M10 gunners are killed by a LMG team from an upper window!
US support weapons add their fire
At the other end of the village a recce element of 9th Panzer arrives and holds up Groupe Christoph again
But in the centre infantry breakout of the houses and storm towards the church
At this point with pressure building and more French arriving the Germans reluctantly gave up and ran away :(
A very different game, close contact, constricted lines of advance, limited direct lines of sight and communications made for a challenging game for the French players. With better luck the German player could well have stopped the attacks cold, of course the French could have called upon ample artillery and probable air-support if really stuck too.