Sunday, July 6, 2014

Run-Up to Market-Garden Campaign

OK, so for the last few weeks my local gaming group has been running FoW games from the Market Garden and equivalent German book in preparation for a campaign kicking off in September.  This, of course, will mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.  Today, Tom's Germans were matched against Tim's US Airborne, and my British faced off against Robert's tenacious Fallschirmjaeger.

I ran my company as mechanised infantry and used the exact list from two weeks ago:  2 infantry platoons, 2 Cromwell/Challenger platoons, a battery of Sextons, and a platoon of M10s.  The FJ consisted of several infantry platoons, recoil-less rifles, PaK 40s, mortars, and a platoon of 3 StuG IIIs,  And a machine gun platoon.  We drew the Free-for-All scenario.  At the end of deployment, my lines from left to right were:  1 tank platoon concealed in a wood, a platoon of infantry clustered around an objective, the second infantry platoon arranged in a position to occupy buildings in the town, the second tank platoon concealed in a wood, and the Achilles on the far right.  The Sextons were drawn up in the center, behind the second infantry platoon.  As best I can recall, the Germans were (from my left):  infantry, machine guns, and mortars around an objective; two more platoons of infantry and the StuGs in the center, and the Pak 40s on the far right planted on an objective.

The British moved out first:  Cromwells drove hard up the left flank, infantry moved into buildings along the southern end of town, and the tanks and TDs maneuvered towards the right looking for targets.  The Germans responded by firing a smoke bombardment to deprive the tanks on the left of targets while advancing towards the center of town with infantry and the StuGs.

In the center, the StuGs soon destroyed the Cromwells's platoon commander along with a second tank. After a bit of confusion, the British CO was able to sort out the remnants of the tank platoon and appoint a new platoon commander.

Meanwile, the tanks on the left continued their advance, machine gunning Germans who were unable to dig in.  Simultaneously, the Achilles on the right were attempting to turn the German left flank, but were slowed by the lack of tank support due to the previously mentioned dead commander.

An Achilles was lost during this action.  While they did manage to destroy an AT gun, the remaining M10 crew decided to get out of the line of fire and wait for the arrival of more support.

The Germans had been rolling the PaKs towards the center of town to add their fire support against the British that had made their way into the buildings.  They were forced to abandon this to address the threat developing on their left, and had to retire towards their previous positions in order to defend their objective.

By this time, Jerry had gotten his infantry into buildings facing the British postions.  The British attempted to root them out hand to hand, but the assault was repulsed with heavy casualties.  The second British infantry platoon were moving towards the center of town to support the position.

On the left, Cromwells continued their work against German infantry.  The FJ suffered horrendous losses but refused to abandon their position.  The StuGs changed their facing to try and lend support to the desperate German paras and took out one of the Cromwells.

In the town, FJ charged from their positions in an attempt to finish off the British who had been badly mauled in the previous assault.

The Germans were caught in a massive barrage of defensive fire as they ran into the streets and the assault failed to materialize.

The remaining Germans were too demoralized to continue.

The German assault guns had gotten themselves into a tough postion trying to contend with multiple threats.  A combination of fire from the two Challenger tanks destroyed the StuG platoon.  The German right continued to suffer terrible losses.

The German commander decided his position was no longer tenable and conceded the battle to the British.

This was a great game.  Even though I was able to do a lot of damage almost from the beginning, I really did not feel in control until the unlucky German assault failed and the StuGs starting taking damage.  Although the Allies took this village, the American paratroopers were unable to hold the next stop up the road, so who knows what next week will look like.  It's making me really look forward to the campaign.

So, I'm starting to feel like I've got an adequate understanding of the game.  I still have a ways to go, though. I continue to make procedural mistakes which are sometimes costly.  But, I think that's the nature of the game, and to some degree, mimics history.  Thanks again to my patient gaming buddies Robert, Tim, and Tom  for putting up with me while I learn this game.