Monday, 4 March 2013

WWII Battle: German Panzer Grenadier Attack (Planning) Part I


"You" (aka me in this specific case) are part of a German Panzer Division. It is an 'early war' scenario (France 1940) being played with late war kit (1944 Orders of Battle) forced out of necessity, as in we used the only kit/models available to us. The Panzers have been pushing hard and have exploited a gap in the British defences. Only a British Territorial Infantry Brigade stands between a vital set of bridges (off table) and the the Panzer Division turning the flank of the Allied Army in this sector. The tanks are resting today so the infantry (Panzer Grenadiers) must open the way.

Planning Stage I: Deciding the Operational Zones:

Looking at the map I broke the problem down into three operational areas. Working on the principle that I would have to clear a route all the way off table, the terrain fell into two categories: Defensible and Exploitable (see below).
  • Red (Left Hand Side): Exploitable.
  • White (Middle): Defensible
  • Green (Right Hand Side): Exploitable.

Note: This was the sober assessment phase hence the pint glass of coca-cola to the right of the map (see above).

'Preliminary force' assignment and the German "Order of Battle": 
  • Motorised Infantry Battalion: Force #1 (Red)
  • Panzer Grenadier Battalion: Force #2 (Reserve: Veteran)
  • Motorised Infantry Battalion Force #3 (Green)
  • Regimental Assets (Unallocated to a battalion as of yet)
Reconnaissance Allocation (Four Recon Companies to Allocate):
  • Red (Left Hand Side):(2 Companies)
  • White (Middle): (1 Company)
  • Green (Right Hand Side): (1 Company)
The underlying logic here is that I need to information "across the whole front", with the left (Red) zone looking slightly more promising than the right so it warrants a "reinforced reconnaissance" probe,i.e.two companies instead of one.

Reconnaissance 'dice rolls' are made (British versus German commander 1d10 +/- DRM factors) 
Intelligence Report:
  • Red (Left Hand Side): "Exploitable" (2 Companies) Reconnaissance troops were stopped at the ridge line (presumably ambushed), deployment is not allowed further forward than the "left pencil" (see below) and very disappointingly no enemy platoons are discovered. In short a bit of a disaster from what I thought was my "best looking terrain path"
  • White (Middle): "Defensible" (1 Company) Reconnaissance troops were stopped before the towns, deployment no further forward than the "middle pencil",  however a battalion HQ was discovered and the position of a fighting platoon. As expected a Tommy battalion has made the centre a tough nut to crack. Well at least fore-warned is fore-armed.
  • Green (Right Hand Side): Exploitable (1 Company) Reconnaissance troops were stopped before the second crest line, deployment no further forward than the "right pencil",  however a battalion HQ was discovered and the position of a fighting platoon. The Tommy has put a full battalion on the right (viewed as the German sees it). This looks like a promising line of attack.
Analysing the dispositions it seems very unlikely that the British player has a defensive hole to the German left as we were categorically stopped going no further than the initial ridge line. As this ridge line was obscured from the town their must be British troops in the wood. The position of the middle British HQ battalion makes it impossible to place its forces so far over to the British left, so there is probably a company+/battalion there (yes, it is all guesswork).

Therefore I conclude I am probably facing an "all barrels to the front" linear defence line of three British infantry battalions.

On the basis of these assumptions and deductions I decide to go for a right hand side end run with the whole German Order of Battle. In the words of Rommel "slap him hard don't tickle him".
  • Motorised Infantry Battalion Force #3 (Green) Deploys on table (see below) as the attacking battalion in Operational Zone (see below)
  • Panzer Grenadier Battalion: Force #2 (Move from Reserve to Green in support of Force #3, action immediate as it came from reserve, deploys behind Force #3, see below)
  • Motorised Infantry Battalion: Force #1 (Move from Red to Green, move onto table first move into its new Operational Zone, initially off table)
  • Regimental Assets (Assigned to Force#1, as Force#1 see above)

The British defender now deploys his forces. As expected I am facing a 'dug-in' British infantry battalion (see below) on my right. Interestingly the British artillery FOO has been allocated to this sector, the British Commander obviously deeming it as his "weak point".

I am glad we can concur on this mater ;)

The "British middle", again it holds a British infantry battalion in 'good cover' (town and woods) that would be extremely  hard to winkle out (see below):

On my left, again it holds a British infantry battalion in 'good cover' (woods),not as 'hard' as the middle but still a very defensible position (yes, I thought as much), although granted it does not share much mutual support overlap from the middle British infantry battalion(see below):

One implication of the British 'linear' layout was that they had no reserves (I knew there was three battalions and I had deduced where I thought they were and been proved correct) which strengthened the conviction to do an end run with the whole Panzer Grenadier Regiment down the right hand side (hugging the edge of the world as I went).

The British player knows he is facing a full Panzer Grenadier Regiment so he is still left wondering where the third German battalion is, so he has to respect this and delay any planned redeployments. I am now left to plan my initial artillery bombardment and artillery asset allocations (coming next). 

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