(The second game saw the attacker breaching the German outpost line and the defenders are falling back towards the main line of resistance. Fog has finally lifted, the British barrage has not. Searching in twitter for @TopiMikkola and/or #spreadthelard shows how the previous game went.)

June 25th, 1944, the morning mist has disappeared and the British forces are finally continuing the attack after assembling their dispersed companies. German resistance has been much stronger that intel indicated, so all point companies are advancing behind a creeping barrage. Lt Trails' platoon has finally reached the outskirts of Fontenay, hounding the withdrawing enemy. And then the scouts bring info that enemy has stopped and is again offering resistance. Sounds of heavy tanks, Tigers perhaps, have been reported from the front, so a platoon from 24th Lancers has been attached.

Oberscharführer Maurer on the other hand has received orders to act as a wave breaker to prevent a rout - rest of the company is withdrawing to the main line, while he is conducting a delaying battle supported by a small outpost manned by a hmg42 and PaK40 AT-gun. Both the SS section leader Egger and corporal Findlay from Brits are back from aid station with heavily depleted squads, having dragged themselves away from the carnage of the previous game.

 

The picture shows JoPs and overall plans. The attacker (red) decided to advance through the covered center while tanks would cover the open line. The German defender dug in around the crossroad and the main house, betting on the fact that attacker would not have artillery. A good guess.

Germans had learned how much the heavy barrage hurts them, so they immediately deployed a full section into the heavy house guarding the main cross roads. This committed much of their force, but in the last battle position was almost overran due to the barrage preventing anyone from deploying. The British forces deployed in the relative safety of the orchard, planning on going through the farm in the middle - the overgrown garden (-1 for movement) proved to be a true hazard, as 10" took lt Trails and section he was leading 3 full phases. Those Normandian raspberry bushes are evil and mademoiselle Edith, gardens owner, was promptly added to the list of potential collaborators. The British players talked about stopping and calling engineers to clear the nazi-produced bioweapon, but in the end decided the continue. The following section and 2" mortar did not fare any better in the garden...

First Sherman of 24th covered the open right flank, only to get engaged by a PaK hidden at the crossroads - shots over hedges were not the easiest ones, but the duel was easily won by the gun. First shot killed the radio/bow gunner dropping the tank out of the radio network and when tank's smoke grenade failed to block line of sight, next shot wounded the tank commander panicking him. Tank was soon after abandoned. This surprise forced the attacker to switch to the other flank, while 2" mortar smoked both the PaK and central house to oblivion.

This presented the defender with a nasty dilemma. His AT capability on the new threatened flank was resting on infantry portable rockets and British tanks were staying well away, shelling the position wrong relative safety, while the British infantry was massing for attack. If that attack got through, a JoP would be lost and the whole position compromised. And the attacker seemed to be in no hurry, happily shelling poor landsers, while Trails was fighting his private battle against the garden bushes.

So the defending HJ did the only thing possible and launched an attack on the other flank to threaten the British JoP and to draw away forces threatening his position. This worked to a degree, but Friedmann's PzIV attracted the attention of both remaining Sherman (Firefly was well hidden, looking for a moment to pounce) and a brave PIAT team - these were so separate that poor panzer would always present weaker flank to at least one attacker. Fortunately panzer also seemed to lead a charmed life, as several shots bounced away from the thin side armor without causing even shock. Finally hunted hunter burst through the farm wall and completely surprised the British infantry that was massing for an attack against the HJ strong point.

British tanks were on the wrong side of the wall, PIAT was way back at JoP (and out of CoC die) Germans had a CoC die to interrupt any attack over the open ground or through the walls. It did not look too good for lt Trails, so he decided to charge past the tank, trusting that his superiority in men was so big that HJ would fall even if he lost some men to the tank. Shermans turned to shell the strong point once more and command to attack with fixed bayonets was given.

Friedmann had no time to react to the infantry surging pass and the lone lmg guarding the inner yard failed to fell too many of the attacker - 20 Brits with 4 leaders (SL+3JL) against 6 Germans with 2 leaders (SL+JL) did not look too good for the defender. Of course, having 2 machine guns and 2 machine pistols guarding a heavy building is quite a force, as the attacker found out. Germans inflicted whopping 25 kills vs 10+ by the attacker, so both side were wiped out to a man. Wounded attackers later crawling out from the mess told how the last standing German youths just detonated bundles of grenades to bring down the house on everyone. 

At this point the British infantry platoon was way below 0 morale, so the non-deployed section withdrew. And their losses also mean that the supporting tank platoon dropped to 0 and withdrew - mauled and surprised HJ were left holding the field. Next game will show how much of a pyrrhic victory this was, as HJ has very little capacity for soaking losses.

GM diced for all the leaders and Brits managed to get 2 leaders (SL Trails and JL Findlay) out of the mess wounded, with one wounded man following. Rest were either killed or taken prisoner. German (support) SL was killed with section leader survived with light wounds.

Lessons learned:

  • A well time attack by the defender to relieve pressure was a very good idea, as it forced attacker to reconsider and shuffle his forces
  • Never underestimate raspberry bushes, they are vicious
  • Now matter what the numerical superiority, defender in hard cover needs to be pinned before close assault
  • The improved British barrage is a killer, forcing Germans do deploy too soon
  • AT assets covering only some approaches is a recipe for hurt