Elements of newly commited 5th Armored are turned back at Falaise
GiftofChaos (hereafter GOC) has been facing other opponents in our in-store campaign, and produced a couple of victories with his armored rifles. We met for battle in the shadow of the other Greek Orthodox Church in Normandy. The scenario was Counterattack with GOC as attacker. This is the stage of the campaign where 5th AD reassembled for a push on towards Falaise, and thus this is almost a historical matchup, as various KGs of 116th were being used as fire brigades to stem the allied tide as well as breakout.
GOC was using a tank destroyer company plus an armored infantry company. I faced 12 M10s, a security section and a TD GQ, 2 of the small flavor armored rifle platoons, armored mortars and Scott fire support vehicles, plus Priests and a cavalry recon section. These represented elements of the 47th Armored Infantry, 628th Tank Destroyers, and 85th Reconnaissance from CCR, 5th Armored.
KG Schwerte included a gepanzerte (armored) panzer grenadier company of 116th using the rebuilding card, consisting of two platoons plus Grilles, Stummels, Flamtracks, and mortars. Support consisted of MKIVs, Panzerjagers, and two Sdkfz 259 recon sections. These were full veteran units (not affected by the card)
The above two photos show the salient features of my deployment. LEFT: 1st Platoon, Company HQ, and one of the 250 aufklarung units approx 16" from the attacker-placed objective off camera to the top. RIGHT: 2nd Platoon, mortars and Stummels hugging cover near the objective I placed, barely visible in trees. Grilles hugging a building at edge of my deployment area. The other aufklarung unit is off camera to top right, preventing spearhead past a clump of trees. Flamtracks in ambush. Expecting to move, my infantry is still in tracks
GOC cogitated for a bit and decided to go after the attacker placed objective. He took extensive advantage of his spearhead units, and placed everything but one TD platoon and the Priests inside spearhead bubbles. Note my 'herbst gelbe' aufklarung patrol hugging the building, which kept him from getting further into town. GOC elected to mimic my deployment by keeping infantry in tracks.
GOC's first turn presented him with a quandry. My armored reserves were going to arrive on his left flank, and this concerned him. He also had originally expected me to deploy infantry conventionally, hence his large bombardment capability. Still expecting me to dig in on the objective, he held back from rushing forward with either infantry or M10s. Measurements showed the M10s couldn't enter the farmhouse without making a crosscheck, and that the walls were taller than the M10's gun, so occupying the farmhouse was a great way for infantry to sneak up on him. GOC's firing destroyed one scout car with an MG (only).
In addition to moving up my Flamtracks to create a threat to the American right flank, I shifted the Stummels and gray scout cars to my right to link up with 1st Platoon and the StuG platoon. After debating hiding the Stugs, 1st Platoon and the scouts behind the woods, which would have created an enormous artillery target, I hit upon a seldom seen defensive smokescreen as solution to my problems. I carefully lay the smoke to two effects (1) far enough in front of the StuG so that a range in marker outside of the smoke won't touch anything, and (2) far enough away so that only one M10 unit could, by blitzing and moving tactically, arrive in the middle of the smoke screen to shoot 4 shots at 6 and receive in turn 8 potential shots at 5+. Followed by an infantry assault.
GOC decided not to gamble and so his turn 2 fire was bombardments on marginal targets like my Flamtracks hidden in the village. No real effect.
I didn't get reinforcements this turn so my operations consisted of bringing the Stummels into line alongside the StuGs as well as the grey scout cars. I sent my 1st platoon into the farmhouse using two successful movement orders. I then ATTACKED with my Flame tracks, using the 'gateway' to improve my odds. Finally, the 2nd platoon moved up to support the Flametracks, remaining mounted in the buildings. GOC held strong with his top armor saves but still lost an M10. A different platoon suffered two bailed M10s, one from a Grille bombardment and one from a StuG hit. Note to self - strongly worded memo to Krupp GMBH about Ost-made fuzes
Above picture shows the start of turn 3. The flamethrowers have the most powerful armor in the TY universe - Front Armor veteran w/some in cover. Particular vehicles could only be shot by certain opponents. The fire of 6 M10s got dumped here, some from his 3rd platoon at long range, and low-bid contractor fuzes bailed two Flamtracks and burned one.
Now it was my turn. With the 1IC in the middle of the formation above, the StuG, halftrack, and 1st Platoon all made necessary checks. My bailed flamtracks remounted without help. The only fly in the ointment was a bailed 250 scout car that refused to see sense but the survivor passed last stand.
the above shows my attack on GOCs right flank. The flamtracks pushed into the field, shooting at whatever they could point against, producing a pretty uneven distribution of hits...of which all but one bounced completely. Firing on the move 2nd platoon's 'Schrecks missed completely. But the assault carried the day, saving against 3 hits and killing the M10 and M8 scoutcar, and capturing a second M10. We didn't roll cross checks for the other two elements of the recon patrol so their fate is unlearned, because...
...the other side went even worse. My firing line of Stummels, Stugs, and the newly arrived MKIVs bailed the other two M10s, killed a scout car in the security section and killed the CO's M20. Then 1st platoon assaulted and killed the security section's remaining M20, picking up the entire M10 platoon. The attack very nearly drove the tank destroyers from the table - I missed the XO M20 narrowly, and the live M10 in the other picture narrowly made it's cross check.
GOC decided that he stood no chance of getting to the objective with trained infantry, and broke off the attack. Germans win, 8-1
Ultimately I think this battle turned on GOC's decision to go after the attacker-placed objective, followed by his decision not to maintain a threat to my objective. Admittedly his attack appeared overwhelming, and without a clever ploy with a timely smokescreen, might have worked. That smokescreen probably wouldn't have happened without early reserve arrival...and so it goes.
One thing the game points out is that while smokescreens are usually offensive tools, they can be defensive ones, too. Depriving GOC of a turn of artillery worked out well.
The other thing of note is that M10s and recce vehicles suck at counterattacking. I think that GOC's army would work better with a Sherman platoon to handle the assault issues,
Finally, GOC and I both agreed his attack might have been better if the infantry had gone into the field after the smokescreen. Or, alternatively, bazookas had dismounted to help deal with the flametracks. But hindsight is always 20-20