The familiarity of the Maltot tabletop was depressing. A sanguine Lt Pringle fumbled with the map. The smell of death lingered in the air. Lack of sleep and a nagging, hacking cough made the simplest of actions painfully slow. He couldn't help but stare at the big red brick building Sgt McCoy had died in, the news still seemed surreal. 16 Platoon's blood was up. The thought of the previous day's fumbled advance stung, but not as much as sight of the line of white crosses marking shallow graves. Already 16 Platoon's patrols were pushing forward towards the imposing Maltot church steeple, which in its battle scarred state looked more like a "bunker" than a place of worship (see below):
Lt Pringle's map reading had let him down badly so the jump-off positions were much further away from the church than he had hoped for. First squad deployed into a ruined French cottage giving them at least "hard cover" protection. Lt Pringle had agonized over his support decision, armour seemed a bad choice in the Maltot suburb, too many ambush points. A Vickers HMG was a tempting choice but as luck would have it Lt Pringle bumped into "Bombs" a FOO, the very one who had saved his bacon in his first real battle. Pringle had passed "Bombs" a bottle of liberated brandy and the two had finished it off last night. "Bombs" was in fine mood this morning, conscienciously running through his final equipment checks before joining 16 Platoon with a "three inch mortar battery in his back pack" (see below):
Second Squad with its still wounded NCO was deployed further back as the designated support group in the "fire base" house on the left side of the battlefield. The idea being to keep the church tower under constant harassing fire from a well aimed Bren gun bursts (see below):
"Bombs" was straight into the fray. The plan was to smoother the Church under a constant barrage of 3" mortars as the troops pushed forwards (three squadies had already rushed ahead to try and get to the next ruined house). So an inconspicuous figure with a pair of binoculars crouched in amongst with First Squad, nipping up the stairs to "get a better look at Jerry". He fiddled with a mysterious black box and the air hissed with the crackle of static as he signed into the mortar battery (see below):
A small, but subtle movement in the Church Tower caught the attention of 16 Platoon's Bren guns. A burst of Bren fire from the fire-base drew first blood as a Landser fell, so far all was going to plan. The "Bloody Battle of Maltot" had resumed and the church steeped again was becoming a bullet magnet (see below):
"Bombs" brought a ranging shot smack down on the church, as third squad queued up behind the hard cover. It's Bren team was pushed forward into a firing position. With thre British Bren teams in place and only one dreaded MG42 firing back the fire equation seemed heavily stacked in the British favour. If the three inch mortars could be brought in, then this could turn into a "walk in the park" (see below):
The German Commander however had no intention of giving up so easily, his grim faced determination betrayed no fear, although they were aware of the enormity of the defensive task. All told there were only fourteen German ranks at the start of the game. Now they were down to thirteen with the prospect of a mortar barrage. Desperately he scanned for the tell-tale glint from a pair of spying binoculars. Nothing. The best the Germans could do was shoot up a house exchanging fire with them and hope for the best.