Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Falaise Gap - August 1944 - AAR

A 6mm Game Report

A Recce Panther defending a BUA
This is a game report, the background to which can be found HERE in the Scenario post.

The Canadian attacking force decided to split their forces more or less down the middle, each commander taking a Tank Battalion, an Infantry Battalion, an Armoured Car Recon Squadron and a Tank Destroyer Company. It was decided that the 25pdr Battery would set up about 12" onto the table which would then allow it to hit the river area within its effective range of 75".

Defending the river line
The Germans had been given a hidden set up so they had a mdf counter for each company along with an equal number of blank counters, so initially they had no figures on the table. As I was playing the Canadians I got a real sense of the problems a ground commander has, not knowing what was in the next terrain feature. However in this scenario time is of the essence, trying to get to the retreating column before it escapes, so you can't hang around navel gazing for too long.

Game Map (North is at the top of the page)
The Canadians rolled onto the table and after a couple of turns getting on the board and organising they were off towards the German Front Line, the first resistance came in the southern BUA and on the hillside to the West, a company of Infantry and a company of Stugs held the ridge line and the remainder of the Infantry battalion was in the village.

Drive down the road and get shot up, the life of a Recce Man
Against a full battalion of over 50 Shermans, 10 Stugs were never going to win but that wasn't their task, the hill held up the advance of the Western task force, the village was a different matter. Apart from a company of Shermans who got a little close (panzerfausts hurt at close range) the village was mostly ignored. The Canadians used blitzkrieg tactics on the Germans, dropped a company of infantry off to keep an eye on the village and lobbed a few 25 pdr rounds in every now and again. With no transport the German Infantry wasn't really going anywhere.

The Eastern Flank came across very little resistance and was making good progress towards the river line, whilst on the other flank with the hill cleared further heavy resistance was found in the woods behind with the remaining Stugs and another battalion of Infantry putting up a strong fight which often ended in fierce hand to hand combat.

Clearing woods is a messy business
Whilst all this was going on the column of retreating Germans were making their way to the exit point and the relative safety of being outside the Falaise pocket. First off the table were the trucks and half tracks full of Generals, mistresses and Champagne, leaving the rest of the troops trudging along behind on foot.

The Normandy and District Art Treasure Removal Company in full flight
The Conga of Retreat
On the eastern flank things were going swimmingly, that was until 2 companies of hidden Panzer IVs opened up on the advancing Shermans. Now the smaller number of PzIV were never going to win but should have held up the Shermans quite a bit. Not when the curse of the dice hit ! Steve controlling that sector of Germans throwing 3 d10 per company (needing high) rarely got the three to add up to 10 whilst the Shermans in return rarely got less than 8 on a dice. That and the 17pdrs on the Fireflys and Archers.

17pdr Archer love
It was around the same time that the western flank won their more messy battle in the woods and both flanks made towards the river line hoping to find a ford and praying that they wouldn't have to fight over the single bridge into the town.

Typhoon !!!
The allies had stored up a bit of air power by this point and in a bid to gain time (by this point the conga of retreat was edging towards the table exit) the Typhoons made a number of attacks / recon runs on hidden targets. Our rules allow an aircraft to attack a terrain feature containing a hidden "unit", the aircraft must use its primary attack (rockets or bombs) on one hidden counter. If its blank you lose the attack dropping your bombs onto an empty terrain feature, you then get a gun strafe on another target within 5" of the primary. Each attack reveals the counters contents, so its a great way to recon but it quickly uses up your air power and means you have to fight toe to toe with Panthers rather than peppering them with rockets.

It don't look very deep here Sarge
The action around the town and bridge was getting quite bloody with heavy armour casualties on both sides when on the same turn the game changed dramatically, recce units were working their way down the river trying to find a Ford. A couple of searches had been negative then suddenly two crossings were located one to the east of the town and one to the west. A Recon run from a Typhoon cleared the way through the terrain on the western edge, the Recon Units and a Company of Shermans poured through the crossing and onwards through the gap in the line and they were three turns from the Conga of Retreat and the end of the game.

In reflection it was a good balanced game, the Canadians have a good numerical advantage but you have to take risks to push on towards the final objective, the Germans are limited to mostly static defence but have a number of strong units and the advantage of being hidden. The uncertainty of where the fords are, if there are any, adds a random element to the game and was the turning point in our game. I think without the Fords it would have been a hard slog to get through the town and out of the other side to catch the retreating troops. Hopefully some of you might give the game a go, in which case I'd love to hear how you get on.

We had a WW2 Naval Game last weekend and X Wing on Wednesday so plenty more to write about soon.

German Armour in the town my favourite photo of the game

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