Monday, 20 January 2020

France 1940 Blitzkrieg

Those of you that follow Martin’s Blog will know he has recently completed an early WW2 French Army, his report of our weekend adventure can be found here http://28mmheroes.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-fall-of-france-bolt-action-aar.html

Rather than our usual single big battle we decided to play three linked battles each of roughly 10-12 units per side. I created a table which could accommodate three different games (with some overlap), the French had already formed up a different list for the first two battles and would take anything that survived into the third. Each battle was to have a different objective and I wanted to make each German force representative of the different type of battle.

The three different scenarios were a Breakthrough mission, classic Blitzkrieg style for the Germans, a reconnaissance battle where both forces would probe the enemy to capture a central objective and a final assault on a small village/town. I don’t have any French specific buildings (and wasn’t planning to get any in 28 mm) so I printed some new shop signs and posters to give the French feel and used what I had at hand.


The three separate battlefields are outlined on the overview above, the coloured arrows showing the route of advance or attack for the Germans, each time the French would come on directly opposite them. The three scenarios were as follows:

1: BREAKTHROUGH - the Germans moving on rapidly would need to break through the quickly created barbed wire defences and if possible breakthrough to the road, the blue hatched area is the French deployment zone.
2: RECONNAISSANCE - here both forces would attempt to capture a central objective, represented by the Red Cross Kubelwagon which was placed at the orange dot on the picture above, the French would start this battle from just outside the town.
3: ASSAULT - hopefully having been driven back the French would make a last stand in the town, the Germans bringing in their heavy armour would attempt to simply break into the town.

All three scenario were limited to 6+1 turns so this applied pressure. We didn’t total up points so played in the correct spirit amending rules where necessary. Not surprisingly this post is a little picture heavy 🤭

BREAKTHROUGH

The rumble of a Pz 38(t) with German infantry ready to jump out
The Stuka made an appearance providing an initial barrage pinning but not destroying anything
The French were mainly dug in, on the hills, in the orchard or held back at the road
A lovely opportunity (too rare) to get the German cavalry out galloping forward past a Pz35(t) more infantry in armoured carriers and Panzerjäger but the cavalry are hit by mortar fire and forced to dismount ☹️ I had been thinking about a charge of the light brigade event !
The German troops start to dismount to assault the woods on the hills
Unopposed the Pz 38(t) cuts off the road
Local French lady watching the German advance
The French manage to knock a tread off the 35(t) immediately causing a road block, this wasn’t supposed to happen
The 35(t) heads uphill to capture the right hand hill
Plenty of French dug in here who have barely fired, keeping their heads down
The German commander is in the Panzer I and he foolishly advances too far, infantry can be seen in the middle ground attempting to unblock the road
Time for the French to either dig in deeper or run ?
Crossing the path of the French howitzer which we thought was being withdrawn the commanders tank is immobilised!
It falls to the kradschutzen to remove the road block, more German infantry can be seen moving onto the hill where they have dislodged the defenders, there is  still a strong force in the orchard
The final thin green line !
But the 35(t) has rolled through the infantry and over the hill crashing directly into the howitzer as the French were attempting to pull it off the front line
The Panzer pushes Ona manages to get a direct hit on the French tank on the road
Road block removed the way is open but it has taken an extra turn to get this minor victory

RECONNAISSANCE 

The German force for the second battle is highly mobile a full unit of kradschutzen supported by an 8 Rad sweep down the right flank
An Sd Kfz 222 Armoured car moves towards the objective with a Panzer II and another unit of cavalry moving down the left flank, the antitank gun has set up with a view down the road with trucks delivering more infantry looking to capture and hold the orchard
The French force consists of Senegalese Infantry and heavy French tanks, they line up on the road for the charge but seem reluctant
The Germans are already deploying close to the orchard
Kradschutzen moving towards the small farm
But the French tanks have focussed all their effort on knocking out the German antitank gun and seem reluctant to move forward, one is then immobilised, the Senegalese infantry final gets moving towards the farm buildings
But come under fire from the 8 Rad
Germans digging in in the orchard close to the objective
Finally they show their metal the Senegalese are fearsome in combat and overwhelms the kradschutzen they then dip into the barn
But come under heavy fire and ultimately there are too few and they are wiped out when the barn is assaulted, and close run battle but the Germans have squeezed a victory again

ASSAULT 

With two remain Senegalese Regiments pulling back into the town they are supported by remaining French infantry from battle one and a collection of the remaining armour, the German objective is simply to force a way into the town at which point we agree the French would surrender or run
But they do have some of those heavily armoured tanks
For the final battle the German have brought in the big guns, we played special rules for this 105mm Howitzer the French killed their spotter early on so we randomised what it might hit, it blew up one tank which was enough so it stopped firing when the Germans got close to the town.
Ooooh a Panzer IV advancing on the right
A Panzer III down the middle (very powerful at this point in the war) and a Stug  III in the distance, the Germans have also thrown a unit of elite fallschrimjager into the assault
Not surprisingly the German infantry takes a battering from the French who are dug in in the on the left
The fallschrimjager assault and knock out a field gun in the wrecked building but then get pinned down receiving heavy fire
The German commander realises this isn’t going to be a walk over and sends the heavily armoured PzIII forward
On the right the Germans secret weapon a flamethrower, a dangerous and unpredictable weapon it immediately wipes out the Senegalese infantry who were dug in, in the little park area
The PzIII has broken into the town but can knock out the remaining heavy French tank
Finding he has fuel left the flamethrower turns he attention to the smaller French tank which also bursts into flames
Things are now looking bad for the French although there are limited turns remaining
The PzIV is sent off on a wild goose chase after an antitank rifle crew !
The remaining French infantry prepare to make a stand
But the PzIII turns its attention towards them and opens up with its machine guns across the square.....this is too much and in the distance more German infantry can be seen entering the square, the town is lost !

A very fun time, all three battle felt close although the Germans had the upper hand, but hey that is history. What did we learn, French tanks are tough but don’t move around much, I have a lot of Germans as this isn’t all of my early Germans. The French May have been a little obsessed about blowing my antitank gun up rather than capturing the objective. Flamethrowers are awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading this far 👍

Monday, 13 January 2020

Battle for Sherlock’s Bridge : Operation Sealion

It has been too long since our last Sealion battle and I have plans to move the project forward this year. So moving straight to the action. The Germans have already secured a footing on the Romney Marsh having landed in strength along the beaches between Dymchurch and Hythe. Although they have started to push in land, poor co-ordination and a stout defence from local forces has delayed their progress. A number of key bridges still need to be captured to extend the beach head in line with the planners expectation at OKW.


This map shows the concentrated focus of the the German Landings on S-day and the significant actions which have already been fought in this sector. Tracking inland the key day one objective is to get beyond the Royal Military Canal. Airborne troops have already been landed beyond the canal to capture locations such as Lympne Airfield but the Germans want to capture the South Downs high ground to protect the landing beaches. After a slow start the British defenders are waking up and have realised they must slow the advance and form a strong defensive line along the hills and canal. To do this a small mobile force has been sent to delay the advance at Sherlock’s Bridge. The Germans having subdued the defenders at Dymchurch have sent a reconnaissance force to ascertain if the bridge remains intact, to capture it if possible and open the way for the advance.

Dispatched from Aldington the British force is strong on courage but low on pretty much everything else, with a single Vickers Tank and some modified defensive vehicles if the Germans assault with any strength the British can’t hope to hold the bridge.
Luckily the German heavy armour is still occupied in Dymchurch or being unloaded from transports so the reconnaissance force whilst fast moving is only lightly Armoured. Both sides are intent on capturing the bridge.
German motorcycle troops are already at the bridge, but they won’t be able to hold it on their own
They spread out to hold any defenders back whilst the infantry advance towards the bridge
The German commander can’t believe his eyes when he sees the British improvised equipment, a tiny Beaverette ‘armoured’ car and what looks like a mobile post box  (a smith gun)
The German infantry advance captured at the time
British infantry quickly fan out
whilst the armadillo with its autocannon and the beaverette move up to the bridge
The german armoured vehicles a Rad 8 and a Sd.Kfz 222 are reluctant to go over the bridge without infantry support so they take up positions east and west of the bridge
The Germans also have a Pz I it carries nothing heavy than machine guns but will be devastating if the British infantry get out in the open
The battle is heating up around the bridge and despite the significant risk to themselves the Vickers tank charges across the bridge at full speed scattering the German infantry but doing Little damage other than knocking out the German transports
The Germans assault the beaverette but somehow fail initially to knock it out (the driver just managed to shut the hatch before a stick grenade was thrown in)
Breaking across open ground the Brits make for the back of the Pub
And rush for the bridge using The armadillo as cover
But the German commander is alert to the risk and orders the Rad 8 to fire
Despite its concrete armour the armadillo bursts into flames
Spotting its chance the Pz I breaks trough catching British infantry in the open it isn’t a pretty sight
The beaverette is also in flames now but there is enough british infantry to make a serious assault on the objective, the battle is in the balance
The British Artillery is decidedly second rate hitting almost nothing during the battle
the British have managed to recapture the bridge but another German unit is ready to charge........you are joking a blunder sees them flee ! Suddenly with time running out it is not looking good for the Germans
But there are almost no British left a German unit has broken through on the far side of the bridge 
Still can’t hit a thing the artillery pounds away
A lucky escape for the German commander as his Panzer wagon is blown up
In retaliation the Pz I spots the British commander Lt Harrison hiding in a ditch and opens up with both machine guns
As the battle comes to a close the Germans have the bridge and are advancing in force. The question is have the British bought enough time for their comrades to either blow up or defend the next bridges over the Military Canal.

Splendid return to Sealion and now I feel I am back into there will be more to come 😀