Tonight’s games saw the third encounter in the club’s ongoing Fall of France Campaign. The campaign is an abbreviated ladder campaign as described in Too Fat Lardies campaign guide AT THE SHARP END. This means it was to be an attack on main defenses and played by the Attack and Defend scenario in the Rules CHAIN OF COMMAND.
Historically the battle was on the second day of the German invasion of Belgium. 10 Panzer division, looking to cross the Vierre stream altered their course northward into the stronger defenses at Suxy.
The scenario gives the defenders a choice of two defensive works or one defensive work and one Chain of Command die, the French chose the latter. The German’s rolled the top Force Support rolls they could and received 10 points. We used the new revised Army lists and the Germans choose a Panzer IV (represented here by a panzer III), a panzer 221, and there customary Pre-game barrage.
The French chose a 47mm SA 37 Anti Tank gun and their usual 81mm Mortar Barrage and Forward Observer. They also elected to play their reinforcement wild card which provided them with two tanks. A Char B Bis and a somua. They went into this fight short six men, the German Platoon was at full compliment.
The French rolled slightly better than their opponents, but due to their differing successes in the campaign so far (and therefore their respective men’s opinions of their abilities) the German began with a Force Morale of 9, one point higher than their French counterparts.
The French began the patrol phase with their patrol markers extended 18 inches onto the table. Chris playing the Germans rolled poorly had only had on free turn before the Patrol Phase began.
The German’s moved all their patrol markers in through the woods on the North West of the map. It was interesting to watch the Patrol Marker phase unfold and to watch the players considering their choices and options. My players have certainly learned the importance of this phase and some of it’s tactics. Quite a far cry from how fast we fumbled through it originally! When the phase was finished the French Patrol Markers controlled the small town and the orchard while the Germans markers were all in the woods wrapped around the North West corner. Clearly the action was going to be to the west.
The French began play by deploying their Char B on the road south. The German barrage stopped some of their deployments, and remembering the effect that had on the fight at Arlon, the French used their free command die to end the turn and thereby silenced the German guns. On the following phase they secured the walled orchard as well, as well as deploying their forward observer in the central farm house.
Lt Rolf Schraeder, the German commander immediately sent his panzer IV down the road to support the advance of his men in the woods. the tank fired down the road hitting the French Char B and killing its turret gunner.
While the tank commander of the Char B worked his way into the gunner’s position, the French opened fire with the Anti Tank gun in its defensive position. This served to distract the German who responded by firing back at their position but doing no harm.
Meanwhile in the orchard things were getting heated. 3 Section lost two of it’s men and saw Cpl Henri Herbert wounded. The FOB, seeing this problem called in his mortars to fire for effect. This barrage kept the German infantry pinned for the rest of the battle.
The tank duel continued however. A second hit on the Char B left its commander panicked and again the tank sat there. The French 47mm kept firing away at the panzer. While the second shot bounced of the armor the third finally knocked the German tank out.
At this point something occured that the French had begun to think was impossible. Realizing that he could not advance and that the French still had two operational tanks and he lacking any ability to harm them, Schraeder ordered a withdrawal of his forces. They were still in very good condition and had never much advanced from their jump off points so their withdrawal was without incident.
The French had much better dice luck tonight than in previous games, though the additional tanks and the very good fortune of the German positions when the Mortars opened fire certainly contributed to tonight’s victory. Still, the Germans have hardly bled at all. Will the French be able to maintain their initiative or is this nothing more than a temporary inconvenience to the German assault?