The Paras have to roll to see who from the platoon has landed close to the drop zone and made it to the battlefield. All up it wasn't too bad. From the platoon HQ we had a Senior Leader, the 2" mortar team and a sniper. I wasn't expecting the Germans to have any armour support, so I wasn't unduly worried that the PIAT team had failed to show up. Section 1 arrives automatically; Section 2 arrived in full strength, but the entire Section 3 were missing. I sensed I would miss the fire support their two Brens were likely to bring. No support points for the Paras, so that was my lot.
The Germans have a full panzer grenadier platoon and spent their 4 support points on an 80mm mortar barrage, so my hunch that I wouldn't need the PIAT turned out to be correct.
|View from the German side just prior to setting up for the Patrol phase.|
I opted for only three patrol markers. I felt getting forward quickly to control the hedge line was important. I didn't expect the scenario to go for long. I was outnumbered both in men and in firepower, but if I could inflict some casualties before falling back I'd feel this was a good start.
The Paras are elite and at effective range the Germans would need a 6 to get a hit, while I only needed a 5 or 6. Against their firepower I felt the best bet was for some long range shooting and then falling back. My plan was to deploy quickly and use one section to lay down some suppressive covering fire (meaning at effective range the Germans couldn't even get a hit) and then sniping with the other section's Bren (using the 2CI British special tactic) to try and take out individual teams. I thought it was a sound enough plan.
German JoP in blue and Para's JoP in Red.
With the higher force morale I had scenario initiative and so deployed one section early on the hedge line and put them on Overwatch. However, with one German JoP set up only 6" back from their initial patrol marker placement, he could actually deploy in close range and I had a sinking feeling my plan was unravelling already. He rolled three 3s and decided to deploy all three sections and with the open fields of fire they could all target my single section. It could have been worse, but we took two casualties and two points of shock. The Para section used their Overwatch status to return the fire, but only managed to put a measly 2 shock on a section. Things didn't look good, with three panzer grenadier sections on the table and one of my two sections already down two men things could get even uglier if we hang around in this spot for another German phase. It was clear my initial plan wasn't viable. Then things took a turn for the worse. I rolled my command dice and looked aghast as five 4s stared back at me. I needed to move the section back from the hedge line before the next phase but I only had one SL and if I brought him on I'd possibly have trouble deploying other units. I really had no choice and deployed the SL, took off the two points of shock and ordered the section to fall back from the hedge.
|The section falls back from the hedge line. Lots of panzer grenadier sections lurking in the background.|
The Paras next phase saw some better command dice and I decided to bring the second section on and rolled successfully to see them deploy to the hedge line. With a German section within Sten range the section fired but only managed to kill one German and inflict 2 shock. I had hoped for a little better than that. I tried to bring on the sniper and the 2" mortar but they failed to deploy.
The Germans phase saw them bring down a ranging shot that managed to land on top of the Bren team and kill one of the crew and inflict 1 shock. Fortunately he rolled one 6 and two 5s in his command dice, which meant his options for this phase were limited with his grenadier sections plus he had to be a little careful as he didn't know what else I had left to bring on to the table.
Things didn't look good on the hedge line and so Section 2 also fell back to try to avoid the impending barrage and/or the blast of MG42s. A roll of 5 on the movement roll with 2 shock meant they could get back from the hedge a rather meagre 3" but not back far enough to escape the barrage.
The barrage duly arrived and while it did little harm to both sections it pinned them and with a CoC dice some way away I could only hope for a turn end roll to lift the barrage. I began to feel it was probably time to say my farewells and withdraw. We played out one more phase and it was clear the only outcome was likely to be further casualties to me for little or no gain, and so with everyone within 12" of a JoP, we withdrew.
|Under a rain of mortar rounds the two Para sections are in a world of hurt.|
So, a fairly swift and clear cut German victory. The Paras suffered 4 casualties, so that's two lost permanently, one wounded and one returned to duty. The Germans suffered only a single casualty wounded and as this platoon is not available for the next scenario they will be back to full strength next time they appear. All round a very satisfying bit of work for the Germans and a lacklustre start for the Paras. Still, I don't expect too much from the Paras in this one, especially as they start off understrength and with no support options. The Germans have had it easy, but hopefully as the fighting edges closer into Ranville and the Paras begin to see men turn up from the drop zones things will become more difficult.
So onwards to Scenario 2 which you can follow here:
Scenario 2 Probe among the Hedgerows