Friday, 14 March 2014

Somme bridgehead, June 1940

Chain of Command rules

A first try-out for the Chain of Command rules. I've been working on the scenery for ages and decided I just couldn't wait any longer. Consequently the trees aren't finished. No excuses, but its my game so its up to me.

The sort of landscape this is supposed to represent. Outside the village gardens just occasional bits of trees and hedge in open fields.

It is June 1940, near the Seine. Infantry of 236ieme Division Legere d’Infanterie, part of D Corps of the 10th Army encounter recce elements of the German 94 Infantry Regiment, 32 Division, part of 4th Army’s II Korps. The Germans are convinced that after the defeat of the Allies in the North there will be little further effective resistance on this front. Their infantry divisions are relatively untouched and are pressing forward at full speed. Recce units are encouraged to act aggressively to brush aside the expected weak resistance. The French have reconstituted their divisions from troops who were evacuated to Britain, and have returned via Cherbourg, and from depot and training units. Most are only at brigade strength.

French infantry platoon:
Lieutenant Villeneuve, Senior Leader, pistol
Sergeant Lacaze, Junior Leader, rifle
Corporal Schaub, Junior Leder, pistol; 4x soldier with rifle and VAB grenade launcher
Sergeants Chardronnet, Guyot and Jigourel, Junior Leaders, each with rifle and: 

3 man LMG team with LMG and 2 pistols; 7x soldier with rifle
Plus Adjutant Captain at off-table assembly point

German regimental bycycle recce platoon
Leutnant Vogelweide, Senior Leader.pistol
Feldwebel Rhens, Senior Leader, SMG
Gruppenfuhrers Lauer, Masur, Prenzlau and Neumann each with rifle and:

3 man LMG team with LMG, pistol and rifle; 6x soldier with rifle

Patrol phase. Patrol markers in final locked down position.

Lieutenant Villeneuve, a 32 year old Parisian solicitor from the B reserve commands a platoon of infantry. His platoon sergeant Lacaze is a career soldier. His VB (grenade launcher) section is in the charge of Schaub a veteran B reservist from Alsace. His three section sergeants: Chardronnet, Guyot and Jigourel, are all young Bretons from the A reserve.  He is aware that recce elements have been sighted approaching Mesnil-le-Fanon and expects to meet cycle mounted infantry. His intial patrols have met the enemy on the outskirts of the village. Three suitable jump off points have been identified, two facing the village and one off on the left flank. His initial plan is to deploy the VB section in the centre, take control of a small wood on the right flank, hold the left flank with a section, and then advance on the right flank through the gardens into the village.

Jump Off Points circled in blue (French) and red (German).

The advance scouts of the German cycle platoon were taken off balance by the rapid advance of the French patrols. They have identified no particularly useful jump off points, but Feldwebel Rhens has decided these should be in the ruined houses at the entrance to the village, and behind the wood on the right flank. Leutnant Vogelweide’s initial plan is for Lauer and Masur to hold the entrance to the village, whilst Neumann’s gruppe advance on the right flank and take the wood. Prenzlau’s gruppe will deal with the right flank. After that it will simply be a matter of exploiting any visible weakness. The first troops to move up are the Schaub’s VB squad who take up position in the yard of a small workshop in the centre, and Jigorel’s section who begin to advance across the fields towards the wood. A Captain from HQ has joined the platoon, so leaving him with Sergeant Lacaze. Lieutenant Villeneuve joins the VB section at the workshop. From this position Villeneuve can see a German LMG team setting up in the gardens on the left, and Neumann’s gruppe moving up behind the wood. The LMG team is joined by the rest of Masur’s gruppe, and Neumann’s men on the right flank disappear behind the wood.

Schaub's VB team with Lieutenant Villeneuve in the workshop yard,

Masur's LMG in position in gardens. Neumann's gruppe moving up to the woods, Jigourels section out in the fields.

 Before Jigourel and his men get far across the fields they come under fire from Masur in the gardens, and from Neumann, who has now appeared on the edge of the woods. Two men go down, unfortunately one of them is Jigorel, which leaves the section without an NCO (1 kills, 1 shock, NCO dead). Schaub is quick to respond and two volleys of rifle grenades crash through the trees around Neumann’s gruppe (3 shock). Lt. Villenueve decides to try to rescue Jigorel’s section, and sets of at the run. He falls crossing the concrete wall of the yard which slows him down. Schaub shifts his fire to Masur’s gruppe in the gardens causing them, and him some discomfort (2 kills, 1 shock, NCO wounded and out of action for complete turn). Lt. Villeneuve arrives at the hedge behind Jigorel’s section at the same time as Guyot and his men. Guyot’s section cannot fire on the Germans in the woods as Jigorel’s men are in the way, so they fire on the gruppe in the gardens, reducing it to little more than the LMG team (5 kills, 1 shock). Lt. Villeneuve sprints across the field to Jigorel’s men and encourages them (remove 1 shock).

The Germans now have the range of Jigorel’s section and both Neumann in the wood and the surviving LMG in the gardens open up to great effect. Villenueve is wounded in full sight of his men. Then as the section fall around him he is killed (9 kills, officer wounded, officer killed). Guyot and Schaub watch in horror as the section ceases to exist (-3 French Force Morale)

Guyot's section behind cover. Jigorel's section with Lieutenant Villeneuve horribly exposed in the middle of the field.

Guyot recovers and fires another volley at the gruppe in the wood (2 kills, 3 shock). The Germans start to move. Lauer takes up position in the entrance to the village, preparing to move out along the road towards Schaub’s section. Prenzlau, taking advantage of the fact that there are no French visible on the French left flank, leaves the village on its right and doubles his gruppe across the field to the wood parallel to the main road. Neumann in the wood on the opposite flank turns his attention to Guyot’s section (1 kill, 3 shock).

Lauer's gruppe emerges from buildings, Masur's gruppe with an injured Masur to the left.

The French left flank looks horribly exposed. Prenzlau and his men are now racing down the track towards the French jump off point and from there will be able to flank Schaub. They are within an ace of succeeding, when Chardronnet's section emerges from cover and fires at close range into the disordered gruppe. (2 kills, 3 shock). 

Chardronnet's section surprise Prenzlau and his men.

At this point Lt Vogelweid feels that things are getting a bit bogged down and sends Feldwebel Rhens forward to get thing moving. Rhens immediately takes control of Masur’s LMG team and resumes fire on Guyot, but Schaub is ready and launches a smoke volley in front of the LMG (using Command Dice). This lands more or less on target, but Rhens is able to move the team to the side of the smoke (Senior Leader, three actions) and open fire on Guyot again (1 kill, 1 shock). In reply Schaub and Guyot target the LMG team (2 kill, 1 shock). Meanwhile on the flank Prenzlau’s disordered gruppe is unable to recover and although they attempt to take cover Chardronnet continues to fire at close range First Prenzlau is killed and his surviving gruppe pinned down (1 kill, 3 shock, NCO killed, pinned) and then as the casualties mount (1 kill, 2 shock) they break and rout through the wood (German Force Morale now at a critical 5).

Prenzlau's gruppe taking shock (red markers)

 The situation has now changed dramatically. Instead of just being bogged down Lt Vogelweid can see his platoon being destroyed. He runs forward to the wood on the left flank and pulls Neumann’s gruppe back (using Command Dice) , then passes the order along to retreat. Rhens and Lauer successfully retreat. For now the field belongs to the French.

German casualties 1NCO and 13 men killed, 1 NCO injured, 4 men routed
After this loss Leutnant Vogelweid’s men are unhappy with his leadership. (Future Force Morale rolls will be at -1)

French casualties 1 Officer, 1 NCO and 15 men killed
Colonel Lafarge needs to reorganise his battalion.  Lietenant Villeneuve’s death leaves a vacancy and Sergeant Lacaze is not considered suitable. Whilst Villeneuve was fighting the infantry regiment recce troops a different battle took place on the left flank. Lieutenant Demorel and his platoon were holding a crossroads when elements of the 8th Reconaissance Battalion, 5th Panzer Division came through. Without anti-tank weapons there was little Demorel’s men could do and most were cut down by the 2cm auto cannons and machine guns of the armoured cars, which then swept on. Demorel will bring the remains of his platoon and take over Villeneuves men.

Next battle: The platoon meet the main German infantry force.