The German infantry company pushes towards the British Paratrooper held crossroads with renewed vigour. British reactive fire stops them in their tracks and the initiative passes. The British defensive fire is telling.
Soon the battlefield is in a state of utter and complete chaos:
- There is a pinned Germans Squad and Platoon Leader out in the Street (from the German "Orange" Platoon)
- There are pinned German Squads on "their" baseline (the German "Yellow" Platoon, see below and the "hand of god")
- But there are attacking Germans Squads intent on storming a house containing a squad from British Para "Orange" Platoon (the attackers being from the German "Blue" Platoon)
- Meanwhile the supporting German MG Platoon and Company Commander are intent on establishing a "fire base" tosuppress British Para "Orange" Platoon (consisting of Two British Para Squads and their Platoon Commander the other side of the crossroads)
A "desperate" close combat dice roll is called for, argh the tension (this is what I like and hate about CrossFire) as it is seat of the pants stuff.
The British Paras 'win' the house-to-house combat (their Veteran Status helped - in "real life" the Paras had trained, courtesy of Major Howard's foresight and planning, in bombed out areas of the UK> As a result on D-Day they were far "too tough" for the standard of German infantry they met that day [fortress troops]). In CrossFire close combat it is "winner take all" so effectively scratch another German Platoon from the orbat (German "Blue" Platoon goes down).
On the German next initiative their "Yellow" Platoon successfully rallies and German Armour appears. This is the British Paratroopers worst nightmare, an AFV, albeit a Marder I (not the Pz IV as per Ambrose's account) but it is still armour. The German "Yellow" Platoon now attacks the "Orange" Para squad "again"!The house-to-house fighting goes to the Germans this time and the first British Unit is eliminated. A concerned look from Major Howard as a "house" falls into enemy hands (see below [middle right], note it needs three more lost in CrossFire before the British reinforcements get triggered).
Major Howard does certainly not like the look of this development. The Germans have the potential infiltrate straight to the river and endanger the 'hard won' bridgehead. He chooses to send two squads and a platoon leader from his "counter-attack" force [Blue Platoon] to take back the house before the Germans can establish devastating fire lanes
The "Blue" Paratroopers show their zeal and élan and storm the building, wiping out the German "Yellow" Platoon. The German infantry are now just a few 'leftover stragglers' from the infantry platoons and the as yet deploying MG & Company HQ Platoons. However the Marder I is "an issue" as it is slap bang outside the newly won back house and about to train its dirty great big main armament on it (like shooting fish in a barrel). The Paratroopers have no PIAT either so ranged fire is out of the question, so desperate times demand desperate measures and the "Blue Para" Platoon Leader takes one squad to close assault the "Beast" (see beklow).
But ... the German AFV MG and main armament evaporate the attack before it even starts. Major Howard back at his command post hears the devastating "crump" of the 755mm cannon and surmises the worst.
The German MG "fire base" starts taking its toll (pinning) on the British Para Orange squad at the crossroads. The British position again looks tenuous as more German reinforcements are expected at any moment. When the initiative passes back to the Paras Major Howard takes personal command of the remaining "Blue Squad" and counter attacks leading from the front. The attack is devastating (I seem to be using that word a lot).
This time the British Para squads takes out the Marder I and the 'dribs and drabs' of the three German infantry platoons that were scattered, pinned and leaderless near the "close combat house of death" (see below). Major Howard also spots the opportunity to use a blind spot and take out one of the two MG's before it can seal off the road crossing As an "added bonus" the close combat takes out the German Company commander too. That leaves only an MG and the Mortar spotter (yet to come on table) "left in play" for the Germans.
The British right flank is deemed safe but the Germans appear with new troops on the far left of the table. It turns out to be another German Infantry Company (this time 'Green', as in poorly trained) but without its heavy weapons (sigh of relief from Major Howard). In the ensuing fire-fight one of the three German Platoon is pinned and suppressed in the open. The two other German platoons are hunkering far back in ruined buildings. At this point it is deemed that the remaining German infantry lack the "umpf" and "willpower" to be able to make an impression on the bridgehead.
As the first British Paratrooper reinforcements from 7th Paratrooper Battalion troop across the bridge, Lt Richard Todd makes an appearance (yes the later world famous actor was a D-Day British Paratrooper). In the classic film "The Longest Day" he plays the role of Major Howard, but interestingly there is one scene in the film where he finds himself (as Major Howard) talking to a junior British officer who (as he remembered it) would have been himself (then as Lt Todd of the 7th Para Battalion) linking up with the Ox and Bucks as they pushed on through Benouville to 'expand the bridgehead'. It would be several long hours later (at about 13:00'ish) before the bagpipes of Lord Lovat's Royal Marine Commandos were heard advancing with friendly Churchill armour in support (a sight for very, very sore British eyes).