CrossFire and me, the background:
I had been waiting for this moment for about ten years. The copy of CrossFire had lain dormant for that time half read (a couple of false starts) but with 'no other interested parties to play with' it seemed an exercise in futility in getting 'half into' yet another rule system (despite intriguing comments passed on to me through various sources of its novel style of play). I had played an enjoyed Spearhead (an above battalion and Divisional and below 'level' of game [typically using 1/200 and 1/3000 toys]) by the same author, so CrossFire seemed to hold great potential to me (from platoon up to battalion level) for a 'practical' use of my collection of WWII 20mm kit (originally gathered together for Command Decision but after much soul searching I came to the conclusion I did not like the aesthetics of the ground scale, in extreme cases of AFV combat you could get a Tiger tank touching a Sherman "barrel-to-barrel" resolving fire combat, but to me it looked like "ramming" combat). So it came to pass, when of an offer of a game came to me by email I decided to "jump in and fill my boots".
Chosen randomly (the coin came up heads) I played the German (Americans attacking top down to the bottom of most of the photographs, eagle-eyed readers will see the line of barbed wire and minefield [strung across the road]) that denotes the German front line. Continuing with the Umpire's narrative ............
Somewhere on the Belgian border, November 1944
The US Briefing
"The shelled out village of Opteroon is wreathed in winter morning
mist. Lt Stott of C Company, 334th US Infantry looked carefully at the
village, noting the belts of wire separating his forward positions from
the unseen enemy. Stott had been ordered to make a Company attack on the
village. He had a Sherman tank in support. Last week a platoon from B
Company had been overrun by a Tiger tank, and the concerns about German armour meant he had brought extra Bazooka's "just in case"
Stott deployed with all three platoons on the line. His plan was for
Third Platoon to hold his left, while First and Second platoon assaulted
the large building in the centre of the village. Everything in place,
he gave the signal for the Company mortar to begin laying smoke........"
The "Yank Tank" M4A1 (105mm) Sherman (see below) makes a statement, being brought up to support the US infantry attack in the centre of the village (the heart of German defence, the very crossroad itself, a very bold move).
The German briefing:
"Lt Lange of 2 Kompanie 2nd Battalion 351st Grenadier Regt wished he
could stay warm. He was tasked with holding Opteroon crossroads. He had a
Company of Volksgrenadiers, with two more platoons of Volksgrenadiers
in reserve. He also had a pair of MG42s and his company mortar, plus a
single Pak 40 anti tank gun. He was worried about enemy tanks as his men
had no other anti tank weapons. His troops were a mix of young boys and
old men, stiffened by a cadre of veteran NCOs. He had deployed one
platoon in the large building in the centre of the village, a second in
the woods on the right, and his third in reserve at the rear left. He
had his Pak40 emplaced in a wrecked house which covered the crossroads,
one MG was positioned in a building covering the flank and rear of the
central building, the second in a house covering the left flank. "
his HQ up in a building to the rear. (Ed's note: I didn't say I was going to be brave)
The Germans possessed only one weapon capable of taking a Sherman on at distance, the venerated Pak 40 75mm Anti-Tank gun. In gunfighter style it faced down the Sherman (see below).
2Stotts mortar fire woke everyone. The Sherman advanced up the road,
covered by the smokescreen. First platoon opened suppressive fire on the
The Pak crew manhandled the gun around to cover the approaching
Sherman, but the Sherman fired first, and sent the gunners diving for
cover. The Sherman then switched to fire on the large building,
suppressing some of the defenders. Second platoon broke cover and
charged towards the building, and then it went wrong........ "
The panoramic view of the battlefield. From this angle the Americans are attacking left to right, the dividing line going down the slightly left of centre of the village, behind the line of barbed wire and mines (see above). The Sherman tank can be seen top left driving down the road (see above).
Note: All the above kit is 15mm from the Umpire and American players vast collection
Next: All Hell Breaks Loose
The CrossFire initiative sequence of play comes into its own