The daily reports stated that there was increased Allied activity on the “Eastern Coast of France”. Col. Alyksandyr chuckled to himself. “OKW is so focused on the Stalinists that they’ve confused their coasts. War is hell, but here in France, we have fresh eggs.” The staff officer silently nodded.
His assignment to the Normandy coast was a welcome break from the cold of the Ostfront. French wine, French women, and fresh breakfast. The last few months on the Atlantik Wall were filled with duty, but without the constant threat from the Soviet.
He issued the orders as usual. Construction was to continue building fortifications. The same orders he has issued for months. Not seconds after the order was issued, he felt the first explosion, followed in rapid succession by subsequent explosions.
“INVASION!” he shouted. “Man the fortifications!”
Quickly, the veteran forces took to the trenches, seeking shelter from the shells. To the sea, numerous boats could be seen making their way to the shore.
“Stand your ground men! Reinforcements have been requested. Hold them on the beach and the Panzers will push them back to sea.”
I never play Grenadiers, but this game would be my first late war game since v2.0. I quickly decided that I needed to find something that could come out and engage the Americans, so a 4 tank strong unit of Panzer IV’s would be most of my reserves. The remaining 28 points would be spent in the Beach Defense Grenadiers. Shrecks and Fausts were likely an ineffective use of points, so I focused on men. Cheap men. Low skill men. 4 points for a full strength unit of K98’s. 2 more to add two sMG34’s. The backbone that would hold the line was built. A 6 tube section of Mortars was the next choice. I’d have preferred 105’s or Wespes, but 50 points is not a lot. The venerable 8cm tube would have to do. All that remained was 8 points. My Infantry stores were all but tapped out without using “East Germans” to add more infantry. A section of sMG34’s and 5cm guns however would give me the 8 points needed, and would not result in a proxied force. Next up was the fortifications. Simply put, mistakes were made here. I opted for “Maximum Objects” on the table and didn’t read the deployment rules. 2 5cm AT bunkers, 2 2cm AA nests, 3 Tobruk MG pits, and 1 French Tank Turret. 32 points. Easy.
The plan was simple, hold the line and await the arrival of the reinforcements. I quickly recognized that I did a poor job with my fortifications. Placing ALL of them in a 12″ bubble limited what I could put on target. With hindsight, I immediatly wished I had bought 2x 88 AT bunkers, 1 2cm AA nest and 2x tobruk pits.
I placed each core platoon on the flanks, trying to take up a position in cover. I didn’t want to test the 5+ skill to dig in. My men would live or die in the same spot I deployed them. The reserve plan would be 5cm guns first, then sMG34’s, and finally Panzer IV’s. The Wire and Mines were 100% useless.
Hit the beach. 3 of 4 Landing craft hit the beach, and only one returned to sea to get reinforcements. The initial bombardment was favorable, losing two total stands.
First few turns: German:
The forces on the beach were too far away to bring fire on. I deployed my Mortar’s too far to the rear to protect them, so they would have to wait. Reinforcements were negative, and I left the entire force gone to ground. The 2nd turn produced reinforcements (5cm), the 3rd turn produced the sMG34’s, and the 4th turn brought on the Panzers. Long range fire proved mostly ineffective, and the unpleasant surprise of the 8AT from the 5cm AT bunkers splashed harmlessly off the thick hides of the 105mm Shermans. Mortars were called in, landing hits without casualties.
First few turns: US
The Rangers took cover at the seawall and started to call in mortar fire. Shells were fired, but without effect. Naval guns also were requested, but they were needed elsewhere. Turn 2 found Shermans on the beach, but having trouble disembarking. The Shermans were unable to leave the beach until turn 6, due to frequent cross check failures. Three full units of Mortars on the beach were well planned out, with high skilled Rangers calling effective fire down.
Middle turns: German
The Panzer’s made it to the front and put some shots on the Shermans, but the fire was ineffective. The US forces started to approach the objective, and were met by stiff fire from sMG34’s and mortar fire. Three full platoons were shot off and forced to retire to the floating reserve.
Middle turns: US:
Repeat bombardment. Over and over and over. Two 6 tube sections of mortars and one 4 tube section. So much bombardments. There was also skillful use of smoke to interrupt fire. While most of the mortar fire was resisted, over multiple turns, the numbers were waning. A key turn found the Sherman 105’s take direct fire shots at a platoon of Grenadiers. 6 shots were fired. 5 stands of infantry were removed.
Late turns: German
The platoons were broken or about to be broken. The sMG34 platoon reinforced the right flank, providing enough fire to keep the US forces back, but they were numerous. The Panzer’s moved forward and brewed up 3 tanks and bailed another. An excellent mortar shot devastated a US Rifle platoon.
Late turns: US
Repeat bombardments. Each and every turn. In midwar games, the US forces routinely teach me a lesson about the value of firepower. So many templates. So many observers. The same has proven true again here. Three sections of tubes with the occasional Naval battery. It was only a matter of time. The left flank was already reduced out of good spirits and the right flank had to lose one more team to be reduced out of good spirits. Three platoons of US forces dug in on the objectives.
Final Turn: German 9
One platoon broke and ran. The other was reduced to three stands. The 5cm and sMG34’s reinforced the broken flank. One AT bunker had been silenced. I was going to lose this battle, it was only a matter of time. I had to make a desperate move. I moved the Panzers in for a tank assault. The Bazookas were gone, the Shermans too far away. If I knocked a platoon off the objective, I could perhaps stretch the game out to 12 turns. If I stayed back, the objective would have been swarming with Americans. I pushed in. I took out two stands on the first round. The American’s made their counterattack and grenades scattered off the hull. My counterattack roll however was not successful, and I was pushed back off the objective, allowing the American’s to claim victory on Turn 9