Sunday 28 November 2021

Delle, November 1944


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 (turn 10 + 1D6 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.

 German Forces

 Composite battalion 30th Waffen SS Division

 Battalion HQ

3 rifle companies

Composite support company

2 x MMG + wagon

2 x 81mm mortars + wagon

Pak35 plus crew (2 x stielgranate 41 grenades) + Kettenkrad tow

Pioneer platoon in truck w/trailer (with enough mines for a high density 6x2” mixed field) road)

Elements 106th Panzer Brigade

1 x Pz IVH

1 x Stug IIIG

1 x Sdkfz 11 mitt 20mm

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.  


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

The French elected to hold one company in reserve off table.

The table

French deployment

The SS arrive plus their support

The first few turns saw the SS advance under mortar and off table 105mm harassing fire which caused casualties.

The Stug on the track exchanged fire with the French 57mm AT guns, it managed to smash one on turn 3 but was knocked out by the other on turn 4!

 The French MMGs caused heavy casualties among the advancing SS, the Sdkfz 11 mitt 20mm moved forward and silenced one gun, but was knocked out in return by the second 57mm (its second kill)

Two SS platoons on the left were shot to pieces by the .50cals of the French recce, these broke and ran, a desperate attempt to rally the survivors by the 3rd company`s commander failed on turn 8.

Lucky for the SS the pioneer platoon arrived that turn also and added their weight to that weakened flank

 With their mortars and the Panzer IV eliminating French positions on the right, it looked like the SS might well break through, but the off table 105mm bracketed the Panzer on turn 10!

A few more rounds of general fire fight saw the French lose most of their positions above the road, but their reserve company was about to enter the table and 1st Armoured also arrived on their far right (the SS left). At this point the SS had no chance of cutting the road, so the game ended.

 Final SS positions

French reserves

French 1st Armoured

 A tough ask for the SS, maybe a few rounds of off-table mortar fire may have softened up the French? Certainly without any artillery support the dug-in French with ample .30 and some .50cal weapons backed by both battalion and company mortars and the off table Cannon Company drained the infantry companies before they could really get into the fight.

Saturday 20 November 2021

New Mexican Revolution game

 The Road to Tierra Blanca

November 23rd 1913

After the fall of Ciudad Juarez the next major obstacle to Villa`s forces was Tierra Blanca which is thirty kilometers from Chihuahua City.

The Federal forces commanded by Pascual Orozco & Jose Inez Salazar tried to form a fan of defensive positions outside Tierra Blanca in order to prevent Villa`s forces from organising their assault. 

In practice this actually worked against the Federals as the mobility and speed of Villa`s forces often created isolated little actions, which the Federals couldn`t support or reinforce allowing the Villistas to destroy them piecemeal. 

Pueblo Monteo 

Federal Colonel Francisco Diez has been given command of the defence of Pueblo Monteo. The Colonel has a low opinion of “that bandit Villa” and wants to destroy the myth. He commands a mixed force of infantry backed with a few guns.

The table

Col. Diez`s force

The entire force

Infantry companies

Machine gun and Vickers 1pdr pom-pom

105mm howitzer


Col. Diez and staff

Villa`s force

Cavalry and infantry



Chicas del Muerta


Artillery & command

Villa and his staff

Light battery – 37mm Hotchkiss pom-pom & Hotchkiss 37mm revolving cannon

70mm battery


Federal deployment saw Col. Diez place half his infantry across the river, the company command centred on the ruined hacienda, the companies commander spread his platoons out either side of the road dug-in either in trenches or behind the stone walls along with the Vickers pom-pom. A platoon from second company was placed further back on the river bank to act as a reserve. The rest of his command occupied the pueblo, his two larger field pieces were placed in such a way as to support the 1st company by direct fire (be it at long range). Last off one platoon was placed on the far right in case of a flanking move.

Villa decided to attack head-on with infantry supported by his guns, the advancing infantry will be accompanied by the Colt Machin gun and Hotchkiss pom-pom which will travel down the road to keep up with the infantry. His cavalry accompanied by the Hotchkiss revolving cannon will make a dash around the left side of the table once the infantry have engaged the Federals. A nasty surprise for the Federals comes on turn 10 when Villa`s vicious Yaqui scouts arrive at the river entering the table from the Federal left!

Initial disposition of Villa`s troops

The first couple of turns saw Villa`s guns pound the Hacienda causing casualties among the Federals! Some excellent long range shooting by the Federals caused casualties among Villa`s troops too.

Villa`s cavalry arrive on table turn 5 as his infantry fight to clear the Federal line

Villa orders the Machine gun and Hotchkiss pom-pom to move forward to support his infantry

Turn 6 saw Villa`s infantry start a protracted battle for the hacienda

Also an excellent long shot (12 on double D6) saw Villa`s 75mm destroy the Federal one!

Turns 7 & 8 sees the general advance continue (except for those battling Hacienda garrison) the Federal 105mm howitzer inflicted quite a few casualties, but all of the Federals south of the river were killed or captured during these turns. Villa`s cavalry continue their drive towards the Federal right.

Turn 9 the Colt machine goes into action against the last defenders of the hacienda

Turn 10 sees the Yaqui appear on the Federal left

Turns 11 & 12 sees the Yaqui wipe out a Federal squad and the Hacienda defenders surrender after the officer is killed! 

Turn 13, The Hotchkiss pom-pom engages the 105mm over open sights, but is destroyed! Villa`s 70mm battery has moved and now targets the buildings across the bridge!

Turn 14 saw several units of villa`s infantry cross the river, his cavalry were now engaged on the Federal right and the Yaqui were slaughtering every Federal they could find over on the left.

Turn 15 Diez is in trouble he sends runners to gather his reserves from the back of the village, his own security platoon is exchanging fire with the Yaqui! The valiant 105mm takes a direct hit, though to be honest Villa`s lead infantry would have been on it next turn.

Turn 16 sees more Federal casualties, Villa`s cavalry have broken through on the right, both Yaqui and Villa`s infantry are moving against the pueblo. Diez`s morale cracks and he leaps into his automobile and flees leaving his men to their fate……..