Martlet, game 4, still near Fontenay
The British attack had stalled at the entrance to the village of Fontenay. Attackers were taking a breather and requested artillery to pound the line of defence, while reinforcements were supposed to attack the village from the flank, too. Lt Trails' platoon had been badly mauled earlier during the day, but he had requested reinforcements and was close to full strength again - only corporal Findlay was still at the regimental aid post with some of his men. Meanwhile the meager Hitler Jugend forces were reinforced by a full squad of landsers and medium tanks, the plan being to commit these forces to a counter attack as soon as heavy artillery barrage would lift. Situation was the same as previously, with game starting from same JoPs. From the get go, the barrage made sure any German deployment was hard, let alone a coordinated attack, so much for the plan.
First Germans deploy - artillery craters mark the previously identified German positions which have received extra love from the attacker.
But this time the barrage was far more savage than before. Egger's 3rd section was able to deploy to the central farm house, but rest of the German forces were missing. The attacker deployed most of his infantry forces for a push through the center, while Shermans kept pounding the farm where Egger's men where located.
Still no engineers to clear obstacles.
It took several volleys of 75mm HE, but finally the building collapsed, forcing the remains of Egger's squad out. Path through ms Ediths raspberries have been cleared and Trails was ready to signal a general advance. Shermans gunned their motors and advanced, tommies cheered and prepared to follow.
Out! Out, now!
And then a great boom was heard, with the tank platoon's HQ Firefly exploding in a great ball of fire - an off board heavy anti-tank gun had opened fire from the general direction of St Aubin's bridge, other side of the river where ground was rising. (game was 2 platoons vs 1 German platoon, so defender had a off board 88 which could fire with a CoC die. First and only shot during the game was a critical hit to the side of the turret.) And to add to the insult, a German PzIV emerged from cover and nailed the leading Sherman with one shot - so much for a perfect hull down position behing the stone wall. Remaining Sherman returned fire, but repeated hits to PzIV's weak turret armor failed to do much anything. At this point, Trails halted the attack an signaled for the mortar forward observer to get some artllery to cover his flank.
A mad moment, 2 tanks go ka-boom! Several tommies get injured from
Spotting round fell and German tanks duly switched to the other flank, after the remaining Sherman disappeared behind smoke. Trails had 2 PIATs in support and soon both of them were hammering the leading PzIV - several hits and no effect, while return fire soon routed one of the brave PIATs. This far in the campaign, PzIVs have suffered 16 hits from Fireflys, PIATs and 75mm Shermans. Net result is one broken road wheel, 1 slightly misaligned gun sight, impressive scratches and one dead gunner. It looks like the German armor is living a charmed life.
After several tries, FO finally sees the spotting round.
But on the German right flank, the situation was looking much worse. The remaining Sherman had come out of hiding and section of infantry was running along it to capture the rightmost JoP. A lmg team was deployed from ambush, but unfortunately failed in stopping the infantry. The Sherman threatened another JoP, but scharfuhrer Fuchs managed to grab a panzerfaust and stop it from a close range ambush. (Getting 2 point medal recommendation in process. 2*6 means that he has been recommended for IC 1st class - Regimental/Divisional HQ is probably looking for heroes to decorate to boost the sagging morale.)
Scharfuhrer Fuchs earns yet another medal, another notch to the tank assault badge.
The end, Germans withdraw.
At this point German tanks were threatening the British rear, but also the British infantry was about to cut off the deployed German infantry from their JoPs. Oberscharfuhrer Maurer was feeling good about the damage inflicted to the attacker, so gave a command to withdraw towards the main line of resistance. In a one-off game Germans would have off course taken a small risk and gone for a total victory, but now they knew that they absolutely have to survive 6 more battles with very limited reinforcements, whereas the Brits seems quite comfortable at throwing more and more men and tanks into the fray. This is why we have fallen in love with campaigns - you have to think on several levels, knowing that enemy might be bluffing to get you to commit to a pyrrhic victory. (It does not hurt that characters start to get life of their own, too. Oberscharfuhrer Maurer is clearly hesitant to throw Fuchs, leader of 1st section and an old friend, to fray, whereas young firebrand Egger gets all the dangerous assignments. And on the British side, Trails does not like corporal Kindlay, suspected communist, and it also shows in the assignments to lead the assault as a point section.)