Wednesday 4 January 2017

Return to Villaines-la-Carelle

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.

Our tabletop

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.

Success :)

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.

Crossing the River Damour, Syria, July 5-6 1941

The first of our Christmas games in Spain :)

Damour, Syria July 5-6th 1941

The River Damour was the last natural defense line south of Beirut, after several months of surprisingly hard fighting (surprising to the Allies), the Vichy forces were finally tiring and the end of the campaign was in sight.

The lead Allies units were elements of the Australian 7th Division under Major General Arthur "Tubby" Allen, the basic plan was to cross the Damour River and seize several key villages and high hills before moving onto the town opening the coast road to Beirut.

Map of the actual battle

Our table

For simplicities sake we started the game at dawn on July 6th with 2 Australian companies already across the Damour and a third in the process of crossing along with some support (a 3" mortar and a Vickers) these hvy weapons too difficult to move at night over such rugged terrain.

25lbrs ready to support the attack

In the two villages El Atiqa & El Boum the Vichy await a mix of local militia/gendarmerie stiffened by Legionnaires and Senegalese.

The first few moves saw the Aussies advance under harassing mortar and `75 fire

Once they reached the track they began to received rifle and MG fire also

A nasty surprise appears out of El Atiqa

Quickly dealt with by a Boys AT rifle

the Aussies push across the track against stiff resistance

French `75 battery wiped out

French reserves form up in Damour

The Aussie 6th cavalry waits for the bridge to be fixed

French reserves form a new line north of El Atiqa

6th cavalry crosses the Damour

And engages the french armour

The Aussies seize both villages

Aussies seize point 560

and move to out-flank the new Vichy line

Game-over :)

Obviously we scaled down both sides to make a reasonable game, but it played out pretty much as it did in 1941, the only difference was the French counter-attack which was never committed in the actual battle.