Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Trouble in the bocage - a Chain of Command AAR

This was a recent game of Chain of Command at the club. I commanded the Germans, and Brian was in charge of the Americans. The scenario was Attack and Defend, with a Zug of Heer regulars defending a hamlet against a US Armoured Rifle platoon. The Amis had 6 points of support, which was spent on a pre-game barrage and a FOO with a battery of 81mm mortars. I had seven points of support, which I used to get a tripod-mounted MG42, two lengths of barbed wire and a minefield. I did contemplate blowing the lot on a StuG IIIG but I was worried that it might get taken out by US bazookas. As things turned out, there weren't any.

Here are two views of the table before we deployed. I saw this as being somewhere in the more rolling bocage country south of the Cotentin peninsula, between Saint-Lô and Mortain.

The Americans would mainly arrive from a JoP towards the top left in the second photo and a second JoP in the woods in the centre, while the German JoPs were all concentrated around the houses and cornfields.

I have to say that I was rather worried about the massive firepower (a squad of two tripod-mounted MGs) available to the Americans, as well as the sheer number of senior and junior leaders they had.

The pre-game barrage didn't disrupt my deployment too much and soon one of my squads was tactically deployed in a coppice on a low hill, firing and causing casualties and shock on one of the US rifle sections trying to work its way around my right flank.

Effectively, early on I'd neutralised this threat, which included pinning them and wounding an attached SL.

However, elsewhere, the Americans swiftly moved to occupy the lane lined on one side with bocage.

I deployed a section in a cornfield on the outskirts of the hamlet and placed them on overwatch. I also deployed my tripod MG42 team upstairs in the larger house.

The Americans began to reinforce their central position and got their MG squad into action quickly. These pesky MGs made short work of my third section, causing so many casualties and shock that before long the survivors broke and ran off. Oops. 

The section that cut and ran was the one on the left of the above photo. However, the section in the coppice continued to rain fire down on the pinned US rifles, slowly whittling the squad down. Despite my losses, I was hopeful of holding my position.

My MG42 in the house began to hit the US MG squad. slowly causing casualties and shock.

Below you can see the big gap caused by the demise of my central rifle section. Only the minefield, and the threat of my tripod MG42 was keeping the Americans behind the line of bocage.

At this point, the US FOO called in a mortar barrage. This was off-target but he managed to correct this and the German SL and MG team in the house made a rapid exit and headed away from the zone of the mortar barrage.

The US MG squad suffered a major setback when my lefthand section emerged from the cornfield and its MG42 team opened fire, before long blowing the Amis away, including a JL. The rifle squad also came under fire and made a hasty withdrawal. Without any MG support and no BARs available to the Armoured Rifle platoon, the position became untenable. US morale was now plummeting and Brian was rolling fewer command dice. At this point he was down to two or three.

Once the bocage-lined lane was free from Americans, my Germans were able to start targeting the US HQ squad and the attached FOO. Things had really turned around for me. US morale was hovering precariously at One.

I turned my attention back to my right flank now that my centre was safe and finally caused the US squad there to rout, following the elimination of the attached SL. At this point US morale hit a big fat Zero.

So, a decent win for the Heer. It was touch-and-go for a while, but as long as I could keep the Americans stuck behind the bocage in the lane, I felt confident that I'd be able to keep on inflicting casualties. Eliminating the MG squad was always my main aim and luckily, it worked out for me. Also, the firepower of the section MG42s was crucial, especially when it was being directed by the JL. It really shows the importance of the MG42 team in each German rifle section. It is a real killer weapon and it pays to keep the JL with the MG team.

1 comment:

  1. Nice game and report. Yes, have a plan and hang in there. In a campaign you will know if you should back off to prevent too high losses or push harder for victory.