The German success on the outskirts of Consthum village in the previous scenario allows them to conduct an immediate blitzkrieg onto the next map and into the village itself. However it must be made with the force that finished the game and before any of the usual adjustments for casualties and men's opinion. This campaign specific rule makes it possible for an additional attack beyond the two normally permitted each campaign turn.
This particular Volksgrenadier rifle platoon is short of five men, all casualties from an earlier game. Fortunately they suffered no further losses in the previous scenario which leaves them in reasonable shape. Together with their support units (a Panther, a Volksgrenadier LMG squad and a leIG18 infantry gun) they hope to exploit their success and forge ahead to the next map during the current turn. In many ways this is a ‘free’ game, so even if they fail to capture the village anything they do to weaken the American position here could be very helpful in the future.
This brings us for the first time in the campaign to Consthum Village (Map 5). Having captured Map 4 in the previous game the Germans will attack from that direction (as marked by the number 4 on the map below). This will be an Attack & Defend scenario.
The Americans are defending with a fresh platoon that has yet to see action in this campaign. They have two minefields and entrenchments for two teams to help strengthen the position. Since the campaign began additional support has arrived in the shape of a Sherman although whether that will be sufficient to deal with the Panther is another matter entirely.
The patrol phase sees two American jump-off-points in the village and one on their left flank. That last jump-off-point is in an exposed position but could be a deployment point for a bazooka team to hit the side armour of the Panther. If nothing else it should keep the Germans from trying anything too bold while that threat exists.
American force morale starts at nine and the Germans at eight. The last detail is to place the minefields before the game starts. The village buildings don't face the direction from which the Germans are attacking so I place the minefields to keep their infantry from approaching this blind side and to prevent German armour entering the village via the road.
The opening deployment is made by the Germans and it sees the return of the Panther. This is the same one that defied both American bazooka teams in the last game and was responsible for the success of the attack on that map. Has it come to taunt me once again?
At this point it is fair to say that it looks like the main German attack is going to be coming from this direction. For now there is little for the Americans to do other than wait patiently to see how events unfold.
From the jump-off-point on the German left flank the Volksgrenadier LMG squad deploy and take up overwatch positions.
The following command roll is 66641. That gives me two options. I could use my CoC die for an ambush with the bazooka team, or I could save the CoC die and deploy the bazooka team normally. With another phase to come that would allow for two shots at the Panther and by deploying the platoon sergeant I would increase the chances of activating the bazooka team a second time should it be needed. In the end I decide to opt for the ambush and do so for one critical reason - it allows the team to deploy out by the minefield and hit the Panther on the side.
The following German command roll is 66222 which gives them an opportunity to swing into action. The Unterfeldwebel runs from the barn to join the squad alongside the house. He then orders that squad and the one at the other side of the house to move forward towards the stream.
In the following German phase the LMG squad moves tactically, heading in the direction of the stream.
In the German phase the leIG18 moves up alongside the disabled Panther.
He then calls the understrength squad forward.
The LMG squad moves up to take tactical positions lining the stream.
The fire is almost as deadly as the main gun and two more riflemen are killed, enough to see the team wiped out. The LMG team also lose a man and suffer more shock. The loss of the rifle team sees German morale drop to six.
The next German command roll is 66644, which is a mixed blessing. While there will be a double phase only the Unterfeldwebel can be activated this phase and the turn end will see several units come off tactical and overwatch.
That now puts two rifle squads and the LMG squad at the stream. They may not be full strength but you don't want to argue with four MG42s in a row.
The game takes another turn in the Americans' favour with a command roll of 66521. The entrenched squad opens fire once again, this time killing the last remaining man in the LMG team and wiping it out. Shock starts to accumulate on the remaining teams and the loss of the LMG team sees German morale drop to three.
That's enough for the team to break and fall back which brings German morale down to one.
The few remaining Germans end up scattered. One Obergefreiter withdraws successfully, but the Unterfeldwebel, an Obergefreiter and one rifleman are dispersed. The newly promoted man has had a bitter taste of combat in his new rank and he ends up going into captivity.
The Americans suffered a total of five casualties but with their force morale at nine and the Germans at zero that means all five can be recovered, patched up and returned to the platoon.
The same cannot be said for the Germans who suffered eighteen casualties from the core platoon and saw a support squad wiped out. Given their losses from previous games, even if the wounded are returned, the strength of the platoon falls to below sixteen men which will see it withdrawn permanently from the campaign.
I think there's little doubt that the pivotal moment of the game was the successful ambush of the Panther. That very same tank had seemed impervious to all the Americans could throw at it in the previous game, surviving six hits with only minor damage. Perhaps it pushed its luck one time too many? Regardless, without the threat that it represented the German attack began to falter and once again revealed how brittle the Volksgrenadiers become when caught in the open. That said this attack was well worth a try after the German success earlier and was an opportunity to capitalise on that victory. Had things gone differently, even if they had lost the scenario, they may have been able to inflict casualties on the Americans that would make their next defence that much more difficult.
Next we return to Map 3 Holzthum Village for the second of the German attacks for Campaign Turn 8.
You find reports for all the games in this campaign and many other campaigns on the Chain of Command Campaign AAR page here.