Sunday, 11 September 2011

Normandy Breakout Tutorial: Part III

The British assault reaches its zenith.

The intense German defensive fire created mayhem on the foot-slogging companies of the armoured infantry, the left hand side assault force (see below). Two companies are raging in a pitched battle (in front of the smokescreen), while there is a  "mounted" armoured company is behind it, resting its rear on the RTR backed up like a "beached whale" waiting for its "exploitation opportunity to come". (Note: On the tabletop, no model half-tracks just the infantry stands facing in a different direction, we'll have to sort this out as 1/300 kit is quite economical). Sadly the white square in front of the Germans denotes a dead British platoon.  

Never under  estimate the staying power of regular German infantry in 1944. Another space in the British infantry line again denotes the loss of another British platoon.

The British commander throws in his "ace in the hole", an armoured over-run attack from the rear. Note the RTR is now "fighting" with the Cromwell's winning the tank versus anti-tank (PAK) duel in the wood, sterling work by the 7th Armoured. This meant the half-tracks avoided a nasty "PAK-trap". On the down side the artillery had to stop because of the danger of "friendly-fire" taking out the attackers.

The British infantry in front of the Germans had reorganised into a static firing line but is rather a "depleted" five from an original of eight fighting stands, but at long last this reinforced German infantry company with supporting PAK company. has been cracked. However it took too long, instead of a sudden break-through it turned into a costly war of attrition. Time up: a defensive tactical win for the Germans as they had time to reorganise another defensive line a mile back, strategically the British push on as ordered by Monty.

A good learning game though and I'm look forward to the next one.

Review and Lessons Learned:

Although successful the plan was more WWI than WWII, the reliance on artillery followed by an infantry attack then with a mobile armoured punch for the exploitation phase. I tinkered with but lacked true "combined arms" that could have ousted and upset a strong defensive position much quicker. It let the German infantry position show a text-book "graceful degradation" instead of creating a "nexus of failure/fear", a critical point where everything looked bleak for them that the Battalion morale cracks. The German battalion with "average dice rolls" stayed on to the bitter end, with a respectable 50% effective strength (Note: 'effective strength' does not necessarily mean "battlefield casualties" but rather active fighting units).   

The main plan was sound in principle, concentration in force over a narrow frontage with an identified main thrust and a soak-off force guarding its flank. However the plan included a fragile timing element which presupposed a battle event (not needing to take a wood), when a more ambitious plan would have unhinged the German front - "take the wood if possible". In old Spearhead terms it was an arrow drawn too short on the map, in BGC is was too short an "Op Zone" with a near objective chosen instead of a faraway objective. If the faraway objective was impossible then a command order could have reassigned a "rally point" for the battalion to consolidate on. I think I have learned my lesson here, Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)!

The greatest failing was the force mix. The frontage could still have been reduced into three mutually supporting parallel columns, each with their own individual track of attack. In total two thirds (twelve stands wide) of the frontage of eighteen that I used (wider frontage implies more incoming fire can be directed on you). With hindsight: On the left I would have set the armoured infantry, in the middle the RTR to get it into the action right from the start and finally the foot-sloggers to the RHS. In this way the PAK would have had to shoot at the tanks, the infantry at the infantry and by mixing up the armoured infantry dismounting and moving a fluid attack could have dislocated a fairly standard German defense. It must be noted that this flank did not have to contend with the likes of a Stug III and Stug IV company. I look forward to that day coming soon.

Thanks to the lads at Hartlepool for setting this enjoyable game up.

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