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.
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.
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.
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.
Elements of 23nd RIC
II Battalion 23st RIC (Regiment Infantry Colonial)
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
Armoured groupe from 1st Armoured Division
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
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)
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.
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
Turn 7 the Panzer finally takes a direct hit and brews up!
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.