Monday, April 22, 2013

9th Panzer Division on the Road to Dunkirk

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Compagnie de Combat.
Location: Steve’s Game Room
Game: Flames of War, Early War 1600 points

Mission: Dustup
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (defender)
              Steve Turn, French Compagnie de Combat (attacker)
The Forces: 3rd Leichte Panzerkompanie Kompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division  (defender) 6 Zugs containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 10 Pz IIc’s, 4 Pz IIIe’s, 9 Kradschutzen teams (6 MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader)

Compagnie de Combat (attacker) 8 platoons containing 10 H-35’s, 3 R-35’s, 3 Panhard’s, 4 Laffly’s, 8 infantry teams, and 4 75mm towed guns.
Scenario:  Following the French Retreat along the Route des Estuaires, near the border town of Ghyvelde.
The Board: The quiet town of border town Ghyvelde, where French forces have pulled out of to avoid civilian casualties.  But they continue to control access to the Route des Estuaires leading to Dunkirk.

The 9th Panzer is hot off on their heels though, as leading elements clash with the yet unprepared defenses.
The South East corner of the board.  The Germans will deploy in this corner, the French in the North West near the wood.

German Deployment.  Kradschutzen interleaved with Panzer III's.  Panzer II's are hidden behind the Chateau.  (Why I don't know.)  The burning half-track is an objective.

A Peloton of French H 35's are deployed unseen behind a small knoll.  Fast firing 75's standing by, with Infantry hiding in the woods.
May 24th, 1940.  The Panzerbefehlswagen pulled up to a chateau and stopped.  Kapitän Klaus Krinkle of the 3rd Kompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division, climbed out of his tank, walking carefully to avoid cramping his legs.  It had been a long ride.  The 9th Panzer had swept all resistance before it so far.  But even if they only faced Dutch and Belgian forces it was enough.  After two weeks of driving, the panzers were beginning to see a lot of wear.  A few impromptu depots have been established to park those that were already mechanically disabled, their crews already eying up the nearby taverns for celebrations.  Krinkle didn't blame them but the core French army hadn't been defeated yet.  And while they were not willing to fight in their own towns, they were ready to deny this road to the 9th Panzer.

He walked into the house and nodded to the frightened family huddled in the corner.  This low lying area had a high water table, preventing the construction of basements for them to shelter in.  He gave them a polite nod and a reassuring wave.  The husband glared back at him.  These people were of hardy stock, as this town was near the front lines of the last war for four years.  This time, win or lose, it will be different.  The German plan did not allow for a draw.  

Klaus left the family and went up the stairs.  He Surveyed the nearby terrain.  Burning off in the distance was one of 10th Schutzen's half-tracks.  A twin to the half-track he passed on his way into Ghyvelde.  As indicators of enemy presence goes, this rates a level of high assurance.  He opened his case and pulled out the Zeiss binoculars.  So, cannons at the ready, with 3, no, 4, no, 7 tanks.  He studied the deployment and noted the French Artillerymen were just breaking out their shovels, Ah an opportunity!  

He bounded down the stairs, pausing to offer a polite, and sincere, "Aufedersein" to the cowering family before dashing to his panzer and it's most valuable piece of equipment, the radio.  

"Schutlz! von Waffen!" he yelled, "I have assignments for you."

He turned his gaze to a nearby Panzer II, he shouted, "You too, Leutnant Friedenswächter, get those panzers moving."

Reconnaissance Move.
With the rules for the Dust Up mission, the first side to finish deployment adds a one to the die to see who gets to move first.  The Germans only had 6 platoons, and so finished first, while the French rolled a 1, so it didn't matter what the Germans rolled.  They would move first.
The Kradschutzen take off during the Reconnaissance Move, heading for the flanks of the yet to be dug in French 75's.
Turn 1:
Moving boldly forward, the Kradschutzen run up the flank of the 75's, getting 8 MG's behind the gun shields, the remainder in front.  It was enough, 4 stands were killed and the canons failed their motivation and melted into the woods.  I don't think I have ever killed a platoon on turn 1 before.  (But I have had it happen to me!)

Leichte von Waffen's Panzer III's work their way around the knoll for a variety of moving short and long range shots and managed to only bail an H 35.

The French retaliate by advancing a peloton of H 35's and shooting up the Kradschutzen with MG fire, pinning them.
After shooting, 3 75's and the command staff were gone, the remainder fled the field.  there is only 3 H-35's between the Kradschutzen and the objectives.
Turn 2:
The Kradschutzen failed their motivation check and remained pinned.  I retreated them to make room for Leutnant Friedenswächter's Panzer IIc Zug, which due a  combination of short range and very bad deployment was still not in effective range.

Most of von Waffen's Panzer IIIe's were already in short range, so I only had to move one PzIIIe for a clear shot.  10 dice, 10 hits.  But the H 35 armor is tough, and the end result was 1 dead, 2 bailed.  It was up to a motivation check, and the confident French failed. 

The remaining French H 35 peloton stood its ground and gave the stationary Panzer III 6 shots, bailing 2 of them.

Rolling against the right hand peloton and the French Compagnie commander.  That's 10 for 10.

Another peloton down, with the Compagnie Commander bailed.  Two Platoons down.  One more platoon down will cause a Compagnie check
Turn 3:
German Reserve's arrive.  But in a lousy position.  One tank bogged in the woods, the others started peppering the dug in infantry with MG fire.  Maybe I can entice the French Infantry out of their positions with a surprise assault.  Which they did, but there were unengaged panzers that managed 5 hits in defensive fire, and killing 1 team, and sending the assaulting infantry back to their trenches.

In the open field, one of my Panzer III's stayed bailed, the others focused on the Compagnie Commander killing him.  The Panzer II's approached the H 35's but getting only 5 shots, and AT 5 against FA 3 didn't accomplish anything.  The H 35's they fired back, killing a Panzer II.
Driving through the woods.  On the lower right you can just see the smoke of the objective.

The Panzer II's enter effective range on the H 35's.

The French go for the surprise attack, but the two unengaged Pz II's still manage 5 hits out of 6 shots, pinning the Infantry.
Turn 4:
German reserves arrive, another Leichte Panzer Zug.  Emboldened by their arrival, the first Leichte Panzer Zug assaults two French teams in the woods, killing them both.

I kept forgetting my Kompanie Kommander, leaving him in town, and so he was to far away to assist in unpinning the Kradschutzen, which had failed all their motivation checks so far.  I double timed him this turn to within command range.  

French reserves arrive, a section of Lafflys, they have a thin shell, but big teeth. and put the bite on the still pinned Kradschutzen, killing several and bailing the German Kompanie Kommander.

The exchange of fire between my Panzer II and III's and the H 35's wound up just generating so much noise.  Lots of hits, but no kills on either side.

Kapitän Klaus Krinkle leaves town just in time to be swatted by enemy reserves.
Turn 5:
The exchange of tank fire continued in the field.  Two of my Panzer III's turned their turrets and shoot at the Lafflys,  bailing two.  The remaining six II's and III's manage to kill another H 35.  In the woods, my two Panzer Zugs were still whittling away at the defending infantry.  Contesting the objective.

French reserves arrive, a  Peloton of Panhards.  Seeing an opportunity for a win, Steve figured out that the stream surrounding the town is only about 14 inches from the corner of the map, and he could arrive within 16 inches of the corner, and so deployed the Panhards on the town side of the stream, and double timed to the objective.  Only the rule preventing double timing troops from capturing objectives will keep him from winning the game on turn 6!

The Lafflys continued to pile it on to the Kradschutzen and also killed the German Kompanie Kommander.

Turn 6:
German Reserves arrive, the kampfgroup consisting of 2 Panzer II's.   They arrived in a bad location, and didn't accomplish anything.

Relying on firepower, I shot everything I had, but didn't accomplish much.  Pinning the French Infantry section, bailed a tank and two Lafflys.  The French fired back with similar results.  But he didn't need to, as the Panhards were sitting on an objective, and will win the game on turn 7.

Turn 7:
It's do or die for the Germans.  I am too far away from the objectives I had to defend, and taking the French objectives will still lose me the game as the French will win first.  My only route to victory is to cause a French Compagnie motivation check,   This will require me to kill two French platoons this turn.  3 of the 4 French platoons were vulnerable.

I started with the long shot.  The Kradschutzen finally unpinned and maneuvered for flank shots on the Lafflys.  Not much chance here even with the Laffly's armor of zero, as I still have to make 6 up firepower checks with MG's.  And the numbers ran pretty much as expected and the Laffly's remain unharmed.

My Panzer II's and III's poured it on the last two H 35's, killing one, and double bailing the other.  The last H 35 had enough and the French Peloton surrendered.

It all came down to assaulting the French Infantry Section in the woods.  The first Leichte Zug went in, killing two infantry teams before being counter assaulted.  The Panzers received received a hit, failed their motivation, and retreated.   This left the French Section with three infantry teams.  Enough for a platoon motivation check, but I didn't want this decision to be down to a die roll.

The second Leichte Zug assaulted, two panzers bogged on charge.  Another bogged later in the assault phase, and the last panzer fought the French Section down to its command team.  The end result, the Leichte Panzer Zug was defeated, then failed its platoon motivation check its crews screaming "Its a trick, there's two of them." The other bogged crews abandoned their vehicles and they were captured by a plucky French Sergent-Chef and his Eleve.  Realizing they were all that was left of their section, they shouted, "Mon Dieu!" and melted into the woods.

The end was a nail biter.  The Germans achieved a 5-2 win on the turn sequence.  As the "Check Company Morale" phase occurs before the "Check Victory Conditions" phase.
Lousy picture, but this is an end game shot.  The Krad's pile on the MG's but with no hits.
Setting up the final assaults with two Leichte Panzer Zugs.  Lots of bails, bogs and pins here.  Taking the objective is not enough, I have to defeat the French Compagnie.
The Panzer II Zug fires 12 rounds assisted by 12 more shots from the Panzer III's (off fame to the right), destroying the last of the  H 35's.

Final Photo.   The first Panzer Zug that assaulted retreated to behind the pine trees but is otherwise unharmed.  The second failed their motivation and abandoned their vehicles.
A nod to 'allo, 'allo.
Soldat (reserve) Artois pulled himself free from under the burning German half-track.  He watched his Sergeant-Chef and Eleve flee into the woods.  They were indeed the bravest of men.  But what was he doing here?  He thought of his wife, which is why he joined the the Army.  6 months in the army was a vacation compared to living with her.  He then thought of Yvette, which is why he would desert now.  He didn't sign up for this!  He was a cafe owner, he should have been assigned to the supply corps, not the infantry!  
But before the last of the half tracks riders were run off, he heard something interesting,  something about "Van Klomp"  He didn't know much about fine art, but after 20 years as a cafe owner, you learn a few things.

Rene carefully looked into the half track, and on the drivers floor there was a crate.  The corner was shot off, but had done its job.  The painting within was unharmed.  It was the Van Klomp's Fallen Madonna (with the big boobies).  So the Germans didn't just come to conquer, but to loot.  Well, this is one painting that they won't get, he will defend it with his...

He stopped and let out a heavy sigh.  Who was he kidding?  Rene was not one of those brave men he had just witnessed fighting steel monsters.  He would give up this painting in a heatbeat.  But still, no one knew he had it, and he would hide it till after the war.

Compagnie - French Company
Eleve - Short for Eleve Sous-Officer or Corporal
Kompanie - German Company
Section - French Infantry Platoon
Peloton - French Motorized or Cavalry Platoon
Sergent-chef - French midgrade sergeant.
Soldat - French Private
Zug - German Platoon