D-Day Global Campaign

Flames of War Global Campaign

Bocage Bastards

100 POINTS
Axis
Kantoken
VS British
Hoggy

BOCAGE COUNTRY (ST-LÔ)

BOCAGE COUNTRY (ST-LÔ)
“The engineer waves his hand frantically as the nearby riflemen run for cover. As he pushes the plunger down, a section of the hedgerow vanishes into dust. While dirt clods fall amongst the troops, the tanks charge forward, hoping the TNT had done its job...”

The allies have successfully created a beachhead, and trying to maintain momentum, push further inland. The Germans, having lost the initiative, prepare to hold the enemy troops at bay, and with enough reinforcements, plan to push the allied forces back into the sea.

The French countryside is going to be the stage of many ambushes, and both sides prepare for a rumble…

Preparing for battle

A bocage-filled table simply means that I need to think carefully about my deployment, as the severely limited line of sight hampers units covering each other.

I chose the side that had the buildings, meaning I could move around my infantry but still have a good chance of having bulletproof cover without digging in. The objectives were placed as far away from each other as possible, which I expected would happen, but that also made my deployment a no-brainer. One PaK platoon in ambush, the other on the hill to snipe any tanks, and both infantry platoons on each objective, with the HQ in the middle, ready to rush towards and boost morale.

Well, isn’t that a surprise: my opponent actually brought a Sherman list! I was expecting a horde of infantry, but I was now facing a “horde” of tanks. And with the bocage, we were looking at lots of cross checks. Deployment of his forces had a focus on my left flank, but with enough tanks left to swing right if need be.

Slow and steady wins this race (turn 1 and 2)

The grenadiers are tense, and pensively look around. There is a distinct rumble in the distance, and that can only mean one thing: tanks. Lots of ‘m. A runner arrives at both platoons, and informs the lieutenants the hauptmann wants to have eyes on the road. Gathering up their gear, the german soldiers move out of their foxholes and quickly prepare positions in the bocage.

But just when they get settled in, a burst of machinegun fire rips through the hedges, and three Stuarts appear right in front of the grenadiers on the left! Keeping their cool, the germans lay effective fire on the small tanks, and force their crew out. Just after grabbing a few new ‘fausts, a Sherman crashes through the bocage and keeps on driving, perhaps not aware of the grenadiers in front of it. A short, smoky trail from the hedge connects with the racing tank, and after a dull crump, the tank catches fire.

The grenadiers on the right flank cross the road but run into a small group of British soldiers. Too surprised to react appropriately, they lose a few men before choosing to break off and return to their original positions.

-----
I wasn’t really expecting that much action in the first two turns, but Phil pushed his forces hard and aggressively forward. His assault with the Stuarts and single Sherman was meant to push my platoon back enough so the other tanks could more easily move up, but my defensive fire was ridicously effective, bailing two Stuarts and even destroying the single Sherman.
Hoping to pull a quick punch, I had moved my grenadiers on the right forwards to his infantry, since I would be receiving very little defensive fire, but Phil rolled exactly five hits, I lost two teams, and he moved his infantry back towards his tanks.
Your move, mr. Hoggart!

Surprise! ...did we scare you? (turn 3)

Distinct shapes appear near the center of the battlefield: more Shermans! Planning to cut through the bocage, the dauntless tank commander orders his platoon to get ready and move as soon as the infantry clear the minefields. The short respite is just what the Germans have been waiting for, and ambush the tanks with a trio of PaK40s! They score hits on all tanks, but the angle is clearly off and they don’t cause significant damage.

-----
I manage four hits on three Shermans with my PaKs from ambush, and then fail to make a single firepower test. Ups and downs, ladies and gentlemen, ups and downs. Phil did get his mortar team into the minefield, but the platoon gets pinned.

We got eyes on target! (turn 4 and 5)

Seeing the hedges densely packed with heavily armed Germans, the Stuarts pull back and get support from a squad of M10s. Maybe their 50cals could deal more effectively with the dug-in defenders.
Just as the first M10 peeks through the bocage, a ‘schreck missile streaks out and hits it on the underside of the turret, explodes inward and kills the crew. As the rest of the tank destroyers pull up, another missile finds it mark but doesn’t detonate, only scaring the crew, but the rocket glances with a weird angle into a nearby Stuart, punches through the weak side armor and sets the tank on fire.

In the center, the bailed crews of the Shermans aren’t sure enough of their surroundings to remount, while the nearby infantry pulls back, not wanting to risk the bulletstorm again.
The observer, having successfully climbed the hill, gets a hit from a PaK for his troubles, but the hit glances off before being able to do much damage.

Further back, the ambush by the PaKs is just what the British artillery have been waiting for. The eager crew rush to load and fire their guns, killing a PaK and suppressing the grenadiers in the center.

The scout cars find their way towards the buildings and prepare to tackle the troops there.

-----
That ‘schreck is worth its weight in gold. It earlier accounted for a Stuart, and now had killed an M10, bailed another and killed another Stuart. The artillery was now in play and a real threat. Would I move my PaKs and have less shots, or hope to unpin and kill more tanks before losing more guns?
After scoring a hit on his observer tank, and once again failing to roll firepower, I simply had to wait what my opponent was going to do.

Time is running out (turn 6 and 7)

The British infantry are implored to clear the mines, whatever the cost. The tanks need to move forwards, and push through onto their objectives. It’s a tense few minutes, but enough mines are eventually cleared to have a safe corridor. But just as the brave men get ready to pull back again, the Germans finally find their mark and kill over half of the platoon.
The artillery exacts some form of revenge on the PaKs and grenadiers, but it isn’t enough to force them away from the bocage hedges.

To make matters worse, a platoon of StuGs and Jagdpanzers appear, adding to the British problems. The scout cars race around the outer houses, hiding from the arriving reserves, but suffer a casualty by a quick shot from a StuG.

-----
With three dice for reserves, I was guaranteed at least one platoon coming on, and with one left to get in on turn seven, I had everything on the table and could start working towards my goal of keeping the Brits 20cm away from both objectives.

Retreat and fight another day (turn 8 and 9)

The StuGs, Jagdpanzers, grenadiers and PaKs all combine to kill as many tanks as possible, succeeding in killing the Stuarts, two Sherman platoons, and the observer tank.

The M10s, having worked their way into a good position on the hill, let their presence known and destroy the remaining two Jagdpanzers. The scout cars, together with the remaining Shermans, take care of all of the StuGs, and only lose one tank for their trouble, and another one bailed. A good trade, and it looks like there’s still some hope left.

But that hope dies with the destruction of the last Sherman platoon. Grenadiers, armed with ‘fausts and ‘schrecks, clamber over the wrecked tanks, and undeterred by the few shots coming in defense, take care of a Sherman, forcing the last tank away.

With only one HQ tank, his scouts, M10s and artillery left over, the commander decides to retreat and fight another day.

-----
Losing the StuGs was really bad, but it wasn’t a surprise. Caught out in the open, between the scout cars and Shermans, I was hoping my opponent would simply roll bad. But he didn’t, and I lost my last true anti-tank option. But did I? I had moved the remainder of the centered grenadier platoon back towards the objective on the right, and gave me the option to assault his last Shermans there.
But despite the morale re-roll from the HQ, the Brits were forced back, losing a bailed out tank, and that meant not enough platoons in good spirits to stay on.

Post-game

First of all, mad props to Phil for taking a tank list into the bocage! There weren't many failed cross tests, but still, you can do better without them. My grenadiers staying in the fight and holding out against everything was great, with the 'schreck team from the grenadiers on the left flank deserving a promotion.
When I lost my StuGs and Jagdpanzers (due to my own fault, really), Phil was still very much in the game, but then lost his last Shermans thanks to two rounds of good dice rolls on my part. It doesn't happen that much, losing a game because of formation morale, but I saw the opportunity and took it.

The funniest moment was when I popped my ambush. I hit four times, despite his tanks having concealment, but then fail to blow them up. Then Phil fails to get any crew back in again. Who expects that?

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Recommend Commander For Commendation

6 People Recommended Kantoken for commendation

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10 Comments

  • James Westerfield says:

    Well written. How do you like the Jagdpanzers? I have not played against them yet. Also your german army photos were nice. Several I had not seen before.

  • Alyksandyr says:

    Great battle report. I also like the condensing of the action. Turn by turn can get rather long. I use Early/Mid/Late to describe the game. It makes it flow better IMHO, which your style captures well.

  • Noyjatat says:

    Very cool report, a commendation from me buddy

  • Stefan Johannsson says:

    Very good report and nice touch to have historical photos as well.

  • ianpaschal says:

    I like the use of the historical photos although using stuff like winter photos disrupts the setting a bit. Sorry to hear about your SD card.

  • Guderian67 says:

    The photos were small, but they were in the right places to illustrate the narrative and show what was being described. Very good report. Luck of battle is crazy; in an earlier report I had two tigers bailed by 75mm Shermans, needing 1s, then rolled two 1s on a 2+ remount and thought all was lost, but then, because I was necessarily gone to ground and only hit on 6s, two Fireflies and six Shermans all blazed away for a turn without landing a single hit. The tigers then remounted on the next turn and slaughtered the lot of them (Tiger Ace: Rapid Fire is wonderful)

  • Leifurs says:

    A really good report despite losing some of your photos, and a good win, we need that. A commendation from me.

  • Red Beaver says:

    Good job. I would prefer if you had your own photos large as well, so I could see the action. You still earned a commendation.

  • Iandared says:

    Really good report.

  • Kantoken says:

    Sorry for the lack of photos and a more detailed turn by turn description, but the SD-card of my phone got corrupted and I lost over half of my photos. I also found out you can’t upload photos that have the same file-name as photos you uploaded earlier for other battle reports: I suddenly had beaches and boats from earlier in this report. Renaming the files and giving them a unique name solved that problem, but still.