Monday, 25 September 2017

The Battle for Cheriton : Operation Sealion

The fighting across south East Kent rages as the afternoon of S-day drags on. Whilst the Fallschirmjager push into Dover (see last battle) troops are continuing to land in the beach Head around Hythe. Already at the outskirts of Folkestone the Germans are pushing into the town along the coast through Sandgate but local commanders have lost communication with a reconnaissance force looking to drive up the steep Sandgate hill. With no clear picture of the defenders forces the German commanders on the ground have moved inland hoping to open a direct route to the Harbour through Cheriton and the town centre. British defenders are mobilising and white each hour the defenders are getting more resilient. The Germans must drive forward quickly if they are to take the Harbour before nightfall.
A map of this sector showing the route taken by the 'lost' reconnaissance force and the approximate location of the Battle for Cheriton
An overview of the battlefield from the south, the edge of the army camp, the railway, it is only in a low cutting here so can be crossed by everything except wheeled vehicles. Beyond that the rough ground where allotments have been started to suppliment rationing. In the distance Cheriton high street running left to right across the table. (From a game position both forces are looking to capture four identified objectives along the middle ground).
All quiet on Cheriton high street, the library on the left, banks and shops down the right, a few abandoned cars have been left by their owners. (The author must declare a strong affinity for the area as it was once the location for Cheriton Toy shop, long since closed where I bought my first boxes of soldiers ๐Ÿ˜€ I still have them 45 years later)
The edge of Shorncliffe camp where the defenders are mobilising
But the Germans have started to land their most advanced tanks a Pz IV advances towards the camp
Gebirgsjager troops supporting the Wehrmacht edge along the railway keeping to the cover
The cobbled roads around the terraced housing resound to the noise of Jack boots and Panzers !
The British as part of their forlorn defence have amassed as much regular infantry as they can spare supported by local Home guard, luckily they have a couple of older tanks which have been pressed into service.....will they hold the on slaught ?
The crash of Jack boots running down the high street and the rat tat of MG 34's Hitler's Buzzsaw's
The German general is close to the action and orders the medium Mortar to put down covering fire as the infantry goes in
The Germans have also dragged artillery upto the only high ground, but the visibility is being hampered by smoke put down by the defenders
A cheer goes up as one of the few remaining airborne spitfires swoops across the sky, the pilots only option to attempt ground attack missions
In the waste ground a 75mm light Howitzer is being set up
Just in time a 25 pounder dragged by a Bren Gun carrier arrives, they will need to set it up as quickly as possible
The A9 moves cautiously forward , hampered by smoke it sprays machine guns fire into the buildings to the right which are occupied already by german infantry
Good and bad news on the high street, a ricochet shell has immobilised the armoured car the bad news is the arrival of the Panzerjager I this could be deadly against the British tanks
The Germans attack is supported by the screaming sound of Stuka dive bombers all of the British infantry hit the deck
Spotting the incoming bombers the spitfire pulls back on the throttle and gives chase.......
In the army camp little has changed, reluctant to push forward both sides are holding their ground
Suddenly breaking through the smoke the PzIV assaults, the British in this sector fire furiously at the oncoming vehicle but they have nothing that can penetrate its armour
Things are going better in the centre for the Brits, a Light Vickers tank has arrived and along with the Bren Gun carrier it is laying down covering fire for the infantry to push forward.
In the back streets infantry wait nervously for the order to go forward, they can hear the noise of battle but have not yet been committed 
The Germans also have a Stug III looking out of the hatch the driver orders the vehicle forward looking to break straight through the back gardens.
As the battle rages below the Luftwaffe target British armoured vehicles, luckily their accuracy is off and they cause little damage
A german flamethrower team are helping to clear the defenders from the terraced houses, the British spotter foolishly gets to close and meets a horrifying end limiting the British Howitzers for the rest of the battle
In the pub beer garden members of the Cheriton Home guard are taking potshots at the advancing Germans but their faces turn pale when the Stug pushes its way through the garden hedge, they leg it into the pub !
Hampered by smoke the A9 has not been able to target the enemy tanks which it knew was close by, suddenly like a cinematic moment the Panzer II swirls through the smoke into full view, the A9's crew shocked into action let fly but in their haste shoot wide......
The Panzer crew who have closed the range to almost point blank make the most of the situation and the thin armour of the A9 is insufficient defences as it brews up !
The german flamethrower has now moved to the next house where some of the Home guard are dug in, several of the occupants are immediately killed. Somehow though they hold their position in the house and gallantly charge into the garden to kill the flamethrower team and gain revenge.
In the army camp the PzIV has outflanked the British !
Back on the high street a lucky shot has knocked out the PzJ but a single Kradschutzen races down the road
Using the Stug for cover the german infantry prepare to attack across the back gardens
Strangely the railway remains very quiet........
Knowing they are outflanked the British Matilda I decides to push forward where a unit of Gebirgsjager have been pinned down most of the battle
The supporting Infantry from schorncliffe camp have also run forward charging through to knock out the MG34 before turning on the remaining Gebirgsjager 
Things are not looking good as the PzIV looks to get a rear armour shot, although slow the Matilda is heavily armoured and the german tank is ineffective
In the centre covered by fire from the Bren Carrier and the Vickers Tank infantry move forward carefully through the bushes
As smoke billows from the A9 obscuring the view from the Panzer II it doesn't notice the Vickers Tank which is able to get a rear shot across the fence and another German tank goes up in flames
The Stug has broken through scattering the British infantry who run in all directions, but suddenly the commander shrieks to the driver to "pull back" when he realises one of the British anti tank guns has unlimbered on their flank
The rest of the german infantry are getting ready to attack supported by the Kradschutzen things are not looking good for the Brits, when suddenly they are hit by a random and very lucky mortar shell, tightly packed the whole unit is wiped out !
The german commander still looks quietly confident that the break through is now close, but if he is not careful the British infantry appearing out of the smoke behind him might not agree the battle is over !
The one thing in the defenders favour is the Matilda II with its strong armour it has been impervious to enemy fire
The Luftwaffe continue circle above but their bombing has been totally inaccurate all battle
Ring ring.........finally British re-enforcements peddle down the road
The Vickers Tank is now burning as well hit from the Pak 36 gun on the hill
But the British infantry have now made it into the back garden and after a short fire fight they claim the objective
Unable to act quickly enough the Stug explodes with a crash
The german commander has now pulled back and looks increasingly worried "I zink we should bypass ziss part of the town, let's hope zee reconnaissance forzees have found a vvay?" He orders the remaining troops to start pulling back
Cheriton high street is now the scene of burning vehicles
The order to withdraw is given.....
All just a cycle in the park.....NOT
A final shot of the high street, a British heavy machine gun keeps a watch as the Home guard clear the remaining Germans out of the library.

A great battle....this was a large one, so no apologies for the number of photos. A close run thing the Germans suffered by loosing their Panzer Jรคger early on and their artilllery was not as effective as it should have been. They also suffered from the Luftwaffe failing to almost hit anything at all during the battle. The British were very lucky a couple of times, knocking out the Panzer Jager, the mortar shell hit at a decisive moment and on two occasions the Home guard won hand to hand combats with german regular troops. For those interested in technical details we had 25 units each side if you include the planes, we played on an 9x4 foot table and this took 6 hours to play not including lunch.  I have a few smaller battles in mind next........including hopefully the battle for Folkestone Harbour as a participation game at Battleground in November ๐Ÿ˜€

22 comments:

  1. Most splendid, a very exciting narrative. It must have been a corker of a game, wonderful terrain too, no mistaking it is good old Blighty.

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    1. Thanks Phil....the dice were on my side (some might say as usual) I have a few ideas going forward ๐Ÿ˜€

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  2. Wow! Your Sealion games are gems in miniature! It requires a long time for me to take it all in but I will. So much going on with such detail and so many toys. One of the glossies ought to be banging on your door with an offer to publish.

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    1. You're very kind Jonathan, the kind feedback encourages me to move forward ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. Another great read Matt! I was concerned the Brits were not going pull through in this one, glad to see things turn in their favour :-)

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    1. the dice gods were with me, the mortar round hitting on a single 6 was both hard to believe and utterly demoralising for the bosh ! Next time they will be protecting their Pz Jager a lot more carefully ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Fantastic battle. Great recovery by the brits.

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    1. Some lucky rolls.....as always, key was loosing then Pz Jager early on it is so powerful and at long range it would have kept my tank pinned down without the British tanks were able to get stuck in......I do love the Matilda II ๐Ÿ˜€

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  5. Wonderfully evocative photos carry you right into the action in 1940! The AAR brings the flow of the action to life, the reader could almost be at the table's edge. So pleased the gallant Brits drove off the vile Hun! God Save The King!

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    1. You're very kind David...it was a good close game...looking good is a bonus ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. That is a great looking battle. Fantastic stuff!

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    1. Thanks Rodger ...more ideas in the bag yet ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Smashing stuff! Finally, a British victory!

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  8. Cracking AAR Matt it makes me want to dig the commando comics out of the loft. Keep em coming.
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. Thanks Stu the only difference is in the comics the Brits always win ๐Ÿ˜€

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  9. As always a feast for the eyes, looks lovely and a great narrative!
    Best Iain

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  10. Great stuff as usual! Your expanding range of figures and vehicles is a feast for the eyes!
    I like how you encompass the grey/brown early war German AFV camouflage most people ignore. What model A/C is that the Germans have used? An Adler or captured vehicle, the large yellow backed X rings bells from pictures can't place it though...

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    1. Thanks Captain ๐Ÿ™‚Of course the early german paint job is much easier to paint. The AC is a captured Ursus wz29 from their blitzkrieg adventures in Poland. Don't worry about the markings they are fictitious.

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