Having won a convincing victory over the Americans after catching a full squad in cross-fire near the church at St Germaine-Du-Pert, Oberleutnant August Diehl decides to seize the initiative and lead his platoon north up the road and back to the road junction at Arthenay.
Not long before the US forces had sent the primary German defending platoon packing as they marched inexorably West, but now follow-up elements of the 29th make contact with Diehl’s platoon just south of the junction.
This table has been played before, but this time it will be with the Germans running a counter-attack mission and deploying from the Southern end of the table, which in the image below is the right hand ‘long-side’ of the table.
The Americans have 19 support points and a fresh platoon. The support includes the mandatory Sherman, while an MMG, HMG, sniper and some extra BAR’s are used to add some serious firepower into the mix.
The Germans, on the attack for a change, decide to bring an artillery observer to the fight.
The Germans start with a healthy Force Morale of 11, eager again (as they seem to have been for the entirety of this campaign!), while the Americans start on a more cautious 9.
Coming from the southern table edge, (being the long table edge), one would expect the battle to have centered around the farmstead and outbuildings. However, the Americans didn’t want to risk a ‘firefight’ caught in some buildings with an awkward absence of windows while the Germans lined up the windows along the main farmstead.
The patrol phase was instead played by launching aggressively from the Eastern end of the wheat field. By rapidly accelerating to the orchard in the South-East (top-right of the main picture), the forward patrols ended up securing some positions with cover along the hedgerows to the East. This also had the effect of limiting to the Germans to deployment behind the first hedge-row, at the far Western end of the road, and along the table edge near the farm-stead, positions that you would have expected had the forces started along the East-West axis in the first place!
Eager to get underway, the Germans launch their attack and use the first turn to deploy a leading squad behind the primary hedge row in the region that crosses the table – facing all three of the American jump off points in the hay field, hedge rows and orchard.
The Americans respond with a quadruple phase. Which sounds like a lot, except that the first two are full turn ends with only a single ‘4’ being rolled for deployment. It is extremely risky to place a Senior Leader out on his own, so these turns accomplish nothing at all except for some bonus Chain of Command points.
The final phases enable deployment in earnest, and the Americans deploy a substantial ‘fire-base’ behind the primary hedge, which includes the HMG, MMG, sniper, a rifle squad and the Platoon Sergeant. Despite the massed firepower catching the single exposed German platoon behind the hedge, it results in fairly light casualties. The German rifle and LMG team’s suffer one dead and two shock each.
The Germans respond rapidly by withdrawing the German squad back from the hedge and out of sight, unable to compete with the substantial firepower the Americans are amassing. A second squad is deployed south of the main farm house, intending to move north and use the imposing farm complex as a new fighting position.
The Americans now have no enemy in sight, and so deploy one squad tactically in the wheat-field, intentions as yet unsure.
The Germans are playing it safe, keeping their key positioning forces hidden from view. The previous squad enter the farm complex and are joined by the FOO, keeping to the back of the building interior to avoid being seen. A second squad is deployed at the far jump off point by the road, sheltered from view by the ‘L-shaped’ barn.
The Americans have little to do with the bulk of their force, prepped as they are for the coming firefight the Germans have not yet exposed themselves. The final units, the Platoon leader and a squad are deployed in the orchard with a view to moving out.
But now the Germans are ready. The squad at the rear of the farm make a healthy dash across the road to the North and manage to reach the relative safety of the farm house there.
But now, the and the squad in the farm complex moves forward to the front of the barn. The Americans finally have someone to shoot at, and unleash their overwatch fire at the barn windows, killing two riflemen and adding a shock each to the LMG and Rifle teams.
The subsequent phase enables the Americans to activate as normal, and while the Platoon leader orders his men forward through the orchard, the rest of the platoon sitting with the Platoon Sergeant open fire again. The fire is telling and the rifle team is eliminated – but German morale holds strong and doesn’t flinch!
But having braved the fire, the FOO is finally ready to make the all important call ‘fire for effect’ to the mortar battery. It unleashes with devastating effect on the American ‘fire-base’ huddled behind the hedge-row, killing 3 men and adding shock to a number of the teams.
The Americans can only respond by attempting to run out of there, alas the movement is not what is required and they are left in the open!
While the hellish fire rips around that corner of the battlefield, in more serene settings, the Platoon leader orders his men further forward, past the idle and unperturbed bovine. Another turn or two and they could be up against the next hedge-row and able to add to the pain of the original squad which withdrew back from it much earlier in the game.
But most importantly, the Americans have finally rolled a 3. They have been waiting for this moment, the Germans who have pulled back from the hedge are perfectly in sight of the road from which all armour will deploy.
Caught in the open, the combined weight of machine guns and high explosive takes down two more rifle-men. This counter-attack is starting to show something of a butcher’s bill!
It was always a risk however. And the Germans respond as expected, cue ‘Hans’ the PanzerSchrek man. He crawls out of the hedge he has been hiding in waiting for this very moment, and takes the shot. It is true, square, and the tank is hit!
Finally the Germans have taken out a Sherman! While it was missing the spectacular explosion, smoke brews and the crew bail out.
The Americans, having anticipated this likely scenario, have a CoC dice ready and decide to use this to avoid the morale test.
While both sides have significant morale value remaining, the German commander feels that the casualty count is already too high, the risk of losing to great, and the town of St Germain-Du-Pert much nicer to defend, and decides to withdraw. The delay has been achieved, perhaps at a higher cost than expected, but nonetheless more remnants of the German army are at this very moment crossing the Aure back to relative safety as a result.
The Americans are relieved to see the Germans turn back, Colonel Goode is pleased and his outlook raises from Worried to Troubled.
Meanwhile, the Germans have lost 8 casualties, more than they would have liked, and will now have a total of 5 permanently removed from the game.
The CO seems particularly displeased with this counter-attack and his opinion drops substantially. The German position can now be summarised thus:
|Command Officer’s Opinion||-3|
|Leutnant August Diehl||Secure|
2 Wounded return Game 6
|Feldwebel Wolfgang Grueber Outlook (Main Platoon)||Uncertain|
The Americans have suffered some important delays, and in the next mission will have to return to the town of St Germain-Du-Pert to finally deal with the pesky Marders!