Monday, 25 October 2021

Norway 1940 : Battle at Midtskogen

Having dipped my toes into the Norway campaign WW2 a couple of months ago I purchased some more Norwegian troops. This Sunday they saw their first action. Now before we start I’m not sure whether this is a long term involvement in the Norway Campaign as that will require additional purchases and I wasn’t really looking for another project honest. However, it seems a nice idea to work through the campaign in some form.

Midtskogen is really only a small skirmish but very famous as the first proper land engagement  during the invasion, I think upto that point the majority of defenders had simply capitulated. (It is also a centre piece of The King’s Choice film) As usual if you want to read the details of the battle check out wiki but in essence The Germans had sent a small force of Paratroopers to attempt to capture the king. On the road north a mixed bag of Norwegians, infantry Regiment No 5, the 1st Royal Norwegian Guards and some local shooting club members/militia set an ambush. With the road blocked the paratroopers jumped from their bus and engaged in the battle. Until their commanding officer Spiller was killed at which point and having taken heavy losses they called it a day and turned back south.

As a small infantry only battle it is a great small battle for a virtual game. 

The scene is set, the Road is blocked south of the bridge, the Germans can cross at the stone bridge or at the railway bridge just to the east. As an ambush it is always hard to get that element of surprise. To achieve this the Norwegians who had 9 units including their commanding officer would randomly arrive in 2 waves at 12 random locations spread around the edge of the table. The Norwegians are a mixed bag of regulars and lower quality troops. The rifle club are irregulars but with improved shooting skills (of course) the Germans are all veterans and armed to the teeth as befits paratroopers. They also have a single mortar for variety.
The Germans move out first turn
Across both bridges, they immediately come under fire from the left and the leading unit is pinned
Norwegian Royal Guards arrive along the railway
One of the two Norwegian Madsen Machine guns luckily arrives on the road with a good view down the road
Some irregular units slightly further forward
In the initial phases the Leading german units are battered with pins but with their superior quality means they lose few men
More Norwegian Guardsmen in the woods to the right
Clear line of sight down the road
The second Madsen has a good vantage point from Midtskogen Farm but as light machine guns they are not proving effective
The Germans rush into combat and wipe out the guardsmen
German MG34 machine guns stay behind the river and give covering fire.
At this point the Germans were definitely on the back foot, the two units which attacked across the road bridge have been seriously reduced and pinned down
Better progress on the right though as they work down the flank 
Supported by Hauptmann Spiller the remnants of the two units on the road rally and push on
Slow progress along the railway
Keeping the Norwegians heads down
Suddenly the tide starts to turn and one of the final Norwegian units is struggling to hold its position
And suddenly they are caught on the flank
The Rifle club and the final Norwegian troops make a valiant attempt to push forward to the road but too late
The paratroopers are now in the woods
By some twist of fate Hauptmann Spiller gets caught in the open and is gunned down (history repeating itself at least in this respect)
The final small units of Norwegians are mopped up but the Germans have run out of time to make it a complete victory
Their objective had been to clear the woods and the farm and the solitary Machine gun unit is still in the farm when the battle ends
Final shot , an extra turn would have completed the victory for the Germans, but there is no way the Norwegians can claim victory even if we were still technically holding mthe farm. The Germans have lost a lot of troops clearing the field. So we agreed on a minor German victory , the King perhaps getting away in the nick of time. But the Germans can continue to pursue further north !

Splendid game and great to get the new Norwegians on the table. The scenario felt balance when I wrote it ht the Norwegians would struggle, they hammered the Germans early on and I thought it unbalanced but then the better quality of the Germans came through to give a close game. Photos were a challenge with the snow so I have had to filter the a little which seems to have worked. The nice thing is it felt appropriate and in some sense true to the historical events. I now need to work out our next battle ? Which might require some more Norwegians ! And possibly a couple of extra terrains pieces. If anybody can find photos of Norwegian Road signs in 1940 let me know 

KBO Matt

Saturday, 23 October 2021

The Battle for Lyminge : Operation Sealion

It has been far too long since we played a Sealion game, although the campaign is always at the back of my mind. Anyway the Germans are starting to break out S-day plus one, they plan a drive in multiple directions to prevent the British developing a fixed line of defence. Several routes lead North towards Canterbury an obvious political if not strategic objective. The drive north will also potentially allow the Germans to cut off the whole of Kent enabling a better and more secure build up of forces before the assault on London.

The beautiful Elham valley is a key route of advance an late on S-day a small group of paratroopers were sent to Lyminge to secure the village as a first step. They have now been isolated and the British after a bruising first day have mobilised what limited armour they have to counter the expected advance. Having been informed by the Local Home Guard that German Paratroopers are hold up in the village they prepare to assault.

Lyminge village the black line denotes the area currently occupied to the south by the Germans on day one. The village was much smaller back in 1940 than the sprawl of today.
Lyminge from the East, the B2065 to Elham running away up hill in the distance. Lyminge railway station, still in service then in the foreground. The Parattroopers are dug in in the small white house on the far side of the village.
The Home guard have been watching overnight and are keen to get stuck into the Germans. Several of them outraged by the Germans occupying the village
A view up the railway north, no trains running today
The Germans have set up an antitank gun close to the church.
Advancing down the road the German officer orders a Panzer III to probe into the village
This is supported by infantry
British infantry and the H9me guard come under fire from a machine gun in one of the red buildings 
The centre of the German advance
The British armour finally arrives a Mark II Cruiser tank and a Bren gun carrier 
It blasts away but then hits a mine in the road immobilising it in a vulnerable position on the road
Fierce fighting by the station
The Pak 40 has been taking a lot of fire but is unable to hit the British tank
The Germans have also advanced a T38 tank and this takes on the Mark II
Which eventually takes a hit and bursts into flames.
On the right the Germans are making slow progress, the British defenders are occupying both the Pub and the Post office.
And now a British unit has outflanked the. Along the railway !
But ominously more german infantry is advancing on the centre of the village
The paratroopers who have been hammered from every direction are finally forced to run out of the building (this was caused by a special event allowing the British to miss communicate a German order !)
The British also have an armadillo effective at pinning down infantry but having less luck knocking out the Pak 40
An overview of the battle at this stage
The Pak 40 finally scores a direct hit on the armadillo which also bursts into flames
All the Germans in this area are pretty pinned down
With time now short the Germans push to capture the objective (centre of the village) a second unit charges into the pub and after a fierce hand to hand combat the British occupiers are wiped out
Out of sight behind the pub the British have an oerlikon anti tank gun it can seem to destroy the Panzer III but it does manage to immobilise it knocking off a track
The British at the station are forced to pull back by a blunder
The battle is now drawing to a close the Germans are in a strong position
They are holding the centre of the village
Both British tanks and the armadillo are either burning or immobilised, time for the British to pull back

A splendid return to our Sealion games. The British deployed their antitank gun poorly which hardly managed to get of a shot the British infantry and home guard were brave but out numbered by the Germans. Eventually when time permits I plan some maps to show the current positions etc. I will also post a better picture of the two new British tanks.

Thanks as always for looking.