We had a new recruit to Battlegroup Overlord this week. My usual opponent Jonathan had obviously set up a recruiting office and found an ally in his brother Allan, with his US Army collection.
As Allan is new to Battlegroup, Jonathan, Jamie and I decided to drop our plans for introducing the mortar and artillery rules, and decided to go for a straight up confrontation. In a future post I’ll look at off table artillery and how we get on with adding scenario flavour and objectives.
So, this week we returned to France in the months after D-Day, and a clash around a small village between 2 German grenadier platoons and an alliance of British Paras and US Infantry.
With 2 commanders each side, we should have enough eyes on the battlefield.
Jamie and I commanding Germans arriving from the west;
- Grenadier platoon in trucks
- MG42 HMG team
- Panzerschreck teams
- 4 Panzer IV G’s
- Armoured Grenadier platoon in SdKfz 250 halftracks,
- 2 Panther A’s – 1 commanded by a Panzer Ace
Jonathan and Allan commanding the allies arriving from the east;
- Platoon of British Paras
- 3 Shermans and an M10 Wolverine
- Platoon of US Infantry
- 57mm light gun support x2
- Recon jeep teams
- M8 Greyhounds
Was war das ?!?!
The German troops make their initial advance, with the platoon in halftracks skirting round the woods to the north of the village, and the grenadier platoon heading to the village through the back gardens of nearby houses.
No sooner have the halftracks moved, a flash and smoke is seen from the tall trees ahead! The US 57mm gun opens fire and obliterates the first halftrack, killing the crew and squad inside!
Meanwhile the grenadier squads occupy the ruined building on the west side of the street, set up an HMG in the upstairs window covering the T junction.
The Panzer IV coming up the road from the south takes a speculative shot up towards the US recon vehicles. The shot goes wide.
The German advance continues into the buildings. The MG team managing to pin a squad of Paras who got caught in the open as they headed for the farmhouse to the south.
Meanwhile north of the village a Panther advances towards the US gun in the woods. Damn! The gun crew are on a reaction order again and open fire pinning the Panther and stopping it in its tracks before it gets off a shot!
The Allies push back hard
Emboldened by their colleagues manning the 57mm gun, the US recon teams now ignore the advancing Panthers and speed into the village, keeping close to the buildings for cover. One jeep nips between two buildings and lets rip with the 50 cal MG on the back. Pinpoint accuracy, they take out the German MG team across the T junction.
The Panzer IV’s to the south leave the road after a long shot from a US Greyhound just misses them. The Panzers move through the trees to support the MG42 HMG that’s setting up in cover waiting on the advancing Paras.
A long shot from one Panzer IV picks out and destroys the Sherman officer from the 3 tanks sitting back supporting the Para advance on the farmhouse.
The British tanks can’t let that go, and open fire on the advancing Panzers. A Sherman and the M10 Wolverine take out a Panzer IV each, including the officer.
This begins a hard fought battle around the farmhouse which is now held by the Paras.
2 Para squads exit the back of the farmhouse and storm across the open towards the HMG team in the woods. With guns blazing and grenades being launched at them, the HMG team don’t stand a chance and are quickly wiped out.
Unknown by the Paras, another Panzer IV is lurking at the side of the trees. It rounds the trees and sprays MG fire into the Para squads. 1 lucky soldier survives and stands his ground. In a courageous act of vengeance for his lost squad he single handedly sets up to assault the German Panzerschreck team lurking at the edge of the same wood. Caution wins out and he decides to remain where he is for the moment and bide his time, waiting on the other Para squads still in the farmhouse.
We ain’t afraid of no Panther!
While the Germans are being pushed back by the Paras, up to the north of the village the Armoured Panzer Grenadiers and their Panther support are having an equally hard time.
Once the Panther unpins, it continues its attack on the gun crew dug into the woods. HE shots are exploding left and right but the gun crew hang on. Another round from the US gun and the Panther is left immobilised.
That gun crew are definitely due battle honours for outstanding bravery in the face of the Panther!
Big cat hunting
Meanwhile a squad of British Paras armed with a Piat anti-tank gun have snuck through the village towards the church. Their first target is another German halftrack. They quickly fire across the road and hit! The crew, Panzerschrek team and half of the grenadier squad are killed.
During this action, the US jeeps are nipping in and out of buildings. Their 50 cal MGs wrecking havoc. The German armoured platoon senior officer is caught in the open and killed by a burst of fire.
This loss triggers a low ammo counter for the Germans – I’ll explain the Battlegroup rules in a future post – which they use on the US 57mm gun. But lady luck shines on the US crew and they roll to have enough ammo to continue the battle!
The Paras Piat team continue their hunt for a new target and creep round the church to find the Panther lurking. A shot in the rear armour of the Panther and it’s pinned.
The Panther Ace finally gets his revenge on the US gun crew. Despite being immobilised, it opens up with its MGs and bullets rip through the woods taking the crew down. Their bravery in the face of such firepower will not be forgotten.
The final push
The Paras from the farmhouse to the south charge into the woods to support their lone comrade and together flush out the German Panzerschreck team.
The German Panzer grenadiers from the village, try a list ditch attempt to flank round the Paras. There’s a lot of fire exchanged with few casualties. A lucky shot from way up in town takes down a single straggling German from a squad. The last Panzer IV attempts to face down a Para Piat team with its MGs, but fails to hit. A Sherman moves into position and takes a shot, pinning the Panzer. The paras try to take advantage with a Piat shot, but are too rushed and miss.
On the next turn they repeat the shot and the Panzer explodes. At this point the remainder of the grenadier platoon look to their senior officer and the decision is made to retreat with the remains of their tattered force.
Meanwhile back at the church the single mobile Panther is attempting to take out and many US infantry squads as it can. However, with Paras armed with Piats still running around, and a US M8 Greyhound still in the village, it’s all just a bit too hot!
The remaining Panther decides to call it a day and retreat.
Well that was a fine introduction to Battlegroup for our new recruit, Allan. His US infantry did a fantastic job with their gun support, and the recon vehicles, despite being lightly armoured, were small enough to negotiate the tight lanes of the village and wreck havoc.
The Paras proved themselves in assault again. Infantry assaults in Battlegroup being particularly bloody.
Unfortunately the Germans were let down by their armour. Panzer IVs not as invulnerable as they were earlier in the war, and making poor use of cover.
Outstanding bravery award definitely goes to the US light gun crew. Their reaction orders gave the allies a early advantage.
Another enjoyable game. As we become familiar with the core rules, the games are flowing quite well, even when factoring in a new recruit.
Next time we’ll be looking at using a scenario either from the main rule book or the Overlord theatre book. And hopefully adding some artillery or mortar support – certainly for the beleaguered German infantry.