The plan was to use all four support points to bring in an extra section, with the thinking that boots on the ground are what I need most. However, that couldn't be my only consideration, as the Germans have a very generous 13 points of support, which could well mean I'd be seeing the Lorraine Schlepper with its 150mm gun, or the Pak 40 in the half track. Would the PIAT team stop wandering around the Normandy countryside and turn up? I desperately hoped they would for this scenario so that I would have better options for support.
Well, I rolled for the missing teams and got.... no one. Meaning I was still short the Platoon Sergeant and the PIAT team from HQ and the entire #3 Section (that's two bren teams and a sniper, all of whom will be sorely missed). I was already down three men, with two killed and one wounded. What I did know was that my single full strength section and the accompanying depleted section would have to face, at the very least, a fresh panzer grenadier platoon. That's not even factoring what Dave would chose with his support points. Not very promising.
I used two of my four support points to bring in a PIAT team, as this would be my sole defence against any AFVs. The remaining two points were used for a bren team to make up numbers in #2 section. Not enough to do the job, I feared.
The Germans started well, gaining four free patrol marker moves before the Paras even started. Choosing to use only three markers Dave moved aggressively forward and had soon locked down all his markers where he wanted them before I was totally happy with mine. So the JoPs looked like this (Paras are red, Germans are blue):
I had options to cover both flanks, but the big questions was, with what? Two sections just can't cover this much terrain. This was going to be a short game, I was sure.
The Germans deployed a squad to each flank and an MMG support choice went into the woods from the central JoP. Until then I had elected to remain hidden waiting to gauge where he was coming from, but the arrival of the MMG team in the woods and so close to one of my JoPs could not be ignored.
|The most advanced German JoP covered by an MMG|
|With the MMG over 12" away, we don't have line of sight to each other.....yet.|
|Para aggression carries them too far forward, too fast.|
I pay for this overconfidence when Dave rolls a double phase himself and a German squad deploys from across the sunken road and hits me with a hail of MG42 fire. I take two more casualties before belatedly deciding to retire back towards the farmhouse. That was all very exciting, but costly.
Meanwhile, on my right flank, another German squad that had deployed into the orchard has also taken advantage of the double phase to move quickly up to the stone wall.
Now this is a problem, as they are about 16" from the table edge and a scenario victory. They cannot be ignored. In my next phase, while the remnants of #1 section pull back to the farm, I use a roll of 2 to deploy #2 section into the farm house and farm yard. A bren team goes upstairs in the farm house and the other bren team into the farmyard covering the open ground to my right. Unfortunately I don't have a 3 so they won't be on overwatch, but I do have a CoC dice available for an interrupt.
|#2 section bren team guard the flank.|
|Two German sections on my left, one in Overwatch as the other advances tactically.|
|That's a lot of firepower!|
|There's a world of hurt waiting for any Para who shows himself.|
|"I think we'll stay where we are for now boys"|
|There won't be a better shot than this.....|
With the Platoon leader on the table to try and influence the defence, it's clear to him, as it is to all the paras, that the day belongs to the Germans. A withdrawal into the town itself is in order and with that the paras use their next phase to slip away.
|The platoon leader calls it a day.|
Well, that was short and bloody. The Germans lost five casualties, all from the MMG team and so their 2nd Platoon remains at full strength. With the German 1st Platoon getting their wounded man back from Scenario 1 the Germans still have three full strength platoons to use. The Paras have lost four men killed from the core platoon and for the next scenario will have two wounded men unavailable. I have the option next scenario to bring in a fresh platoon, but that one will have to last the full distance, so I need to give this some careful thought. The Para CO is not impressed and his opinion is now at -3 which will cost me a support point in future. The men have taken the loss of their comrades reasonably well and still have some faith in their commanders, their opinion is at -1. Despite all this the platoon commander's outlook remains happy (quite why, I'm not sure!).
The Germans are feeling pretty good about themselves. The CO's opinion at at +2 and the men's opinion at +1.
So far it's going all the German's way, let's hope the Paras can put up stiffer resistance once we get into the confines of street fighting in Le Bas de Ranville. Despite taking a bit of a hammering so far, I'm really enjoying this, my first pint sized campaign.
So we progress to Scenario 3 Attacking the Corridor of Death.