Friday, 9 March 2018

The Road to Bremen Scenario 7

The British have made some real progress after driving the Fallschirmjager from Map 4 in the last scenario The Road to Bremen Scenario 4 (round two).  Up to that point we had played six campaign turns and the British, having only reached Map 4, were in danger of falling behind schedule.

Reaching campaign turn seven the British found themselves approaching Map 5.  The Germans had left this map undefended, but had concealed a Kriegsmarine supermine in the hope of inflicting more casualties and slowing the advance. Fortunately for the British a farmer had triggered a premature demolition and so they found an empty map. Making all haste, they had swanned up the road to Bremen, losing no time.  As a result of a successful swan, the campaign remained at turn seven. Map 6 I had considered a very difficult spot to defend, despite the fact it required an assault across a river, but with not enough troops to defend everywhere, I had to leave this table completely undefended. By now the British had their tails up and finding the map undefended their advance continued at full speed, perhaps the rest of the road to Bremen would be one great swan?  (You can follow the details of Map 5 and Map 6 at the link above to Scenario 4.  Given there was no on-table action I rolled all those AARs into the one report).

The campaign, still at turn seven due to the continuing swan, now brought the British adjacent to Map 7. With two maps to go, a British victory in eight turns has become suddenly a tantalising possibility.

The Volkssturm from Wartime Miniatures.  Human speed humps?

For this second last map I had taken a chance with the defence and decided this would be a spot for the Volkssturm platoon, weak as it is.  The Volkssturm are a two squad platoon, but their chance of fighting is fairly good (they will surrender on a 5 or 6). From turn five the Germans roll for additional reinforcements and so my thinking was I might be able to get some additional men if I have this under-manned platoon allocated to one of the final maps.  There's the possibility of another squad of Volkssturm becoming available as one of the reinforcement groups. Even better, there's a chance a squad of Fallschirmjager may turn up, so who knows, I might just be able to scratch together enough of a defence to hold the British for more than one scenario?  At worst the poor Volkssturm are crushed in the first playing, but that will cost the British a whole campaign turn to do so.  With the sudden British swan across two maps, this decision to sacrifice the Volkssturm as a human speed hump, may pay off.  It may just be enough of a delay should the campaign come down to a fight over the final map.

If nothing else this does a great job of capturing the crisis in manpower facing the Germans this late in the war.  It has come down to this, sacrificing under prepared units to somehow stave off inevitable defeat.  If this was any other campaign the decision to use such a weak force here would make no sense, but then nothing makes much sense in the twilight weeks of Nazi Germany.

So, to this map I had allocated the Volkssturm platoon, the Volkssturm panzerschreck team and a Pak 40. Given the chance I could dig a decent anti tank ditch by the time the British reached this map, I'd chosen this as a suitable location. With 6 turns played I am able to add a 12" long ditch to my defence. While we have a panzerschreck team as part of the force, what are Volkssturm without panzerfausts? So the panzerfaust dump is here too. The Volkssturm platoon have no inherent panzerfasusts, so despite the Pak 40 and two panzershrecks I saw no harm in giving this platoon as much help as it might need.

My reinforcement rolls from turn 5 were not great.  The first roll on turn 5 was low and so there were no reinforcements.  My roll for the next turn gave me another Volkssturm Panzerschreck team which I decided to assign to Map 7 to join this Volkssturm platoon. My roll for turn 7 didn't provide any further reinforcement.  So unfortunately the weak two squad platoon will have to do its best to hold out in the factories.  They are green troops, but at least there is plenty of hard cover on this map and so I hope this might compensate.  If the British bring any armour I hope to meet it with a flurry of anti tank weapons.

The Volkssturm platoon will be made up of a mix of miniatures.  Some are from the Wartime Miniatures range of specific Volkssturm figures, but I don't have enough of these and so I will use some of my Foundry resistance fighters to make up the rest.  They should make a suitably motley group of individuals.  They needed a senior leader with a Stg44 and as it so happens I have one of those that came with a Caesar vehicle kit, so a quick paint job and basing on a senior leader-sized base and he was ready to lead this sad collection of young boys and old men.  He looks a little too battle hardened for the Volkssturm, but he has the right weapon and perhaps he just happens to be the right man at the right time?  Let's say he's an unrepentant Nazi, convalescing from wounds received on the Eastern Front and drafted to command this forlorn local defence.

Foundry resistance fighter will be recruited as Volkssturm

So here we have it - bombed out factories, desperation, unrepentant Nazis, Hitler Youth, Volkssturm and a dump full of panzerfausts - it must be Gotterdammerung.

There are no specific rules in Chain of Command for factories, so we have agreed on something simple for this game.  Despite the actual features of the building models we will treat them as large factory halls.  Internally there is a line of sight right across the interior of the building.  When fired on from the exterior, units inside will be considered in hard cover, when fired on within the building they will be considered in light cover.  Internal movement will be the same as for broken ground.  Due to the bomb damage, entering or leaving the factory building will be like climbing over a medium height wall.  The rubble and debris near the factories do not block line of sight, but will provide light cover to units in them.

The British will use their No2 Platoon, the same one that drove the Fallschirmjager out of the woods at Map 4.  They are down five men killed, so the PIAT team is reassigned to a section that is composed of a single, large Bren team. The section is led by a corporal who has been promoted from the ranks. Despite leading them in the last scenario the men are yet to fully accept him, so he only commands with one CI and a radius of 4".

Force morale rolls sees the British at 10 and the Germans at 8. With that we moved to the patrol phase where the British rolled three free moves to start. The British pushed hard on their right and managed to establish jump off points in some of the outbuildings of the large factory. The Germans couldn't get a JoP in the heart of that factory and so focussed on ensuring their two remaining jump off points enabled them to dominate the factory at the rear.

Jump off points at the start of play.
The British have a foothold in the first factory already and my JoP is poorly placed, it looks like this is not the flank to defend. With only two squads I cannot afford to split my defence, it will be one factory or the other.

British JoPs in both small building on the left

Two German JoPs are in the factory buildings on the left

The British deploy quickly into the factory outbuildings. First to arrive is the weakened #3 section, made up of one enlarged Bren team led by a newly promoted Corporal who is yet to be accepted by the men.

At this early stage the Germans wait patiently. With only two squads I want to try to make one strong, defiant stand in the best possible defensive terrain and I'm convinced this factory is not it.

The British get an early double phase which allows them to bring on more units and move forward. The Platoon Sergeant deploys and puts the #3 section on overwatch. The #1 section deploys outside the buildings but ready to provide covering fire if needed.

In the following phase a Universal Carrier section drives up the road and a medical orderly joins the Platoon Sergeant (it turns out Dave had one spare support point and couldn't think what else to spend it on). The #1 section moves cautiously into the factory yard.

The Germans sit tight, watching and waiting.

The British continue their advance, moving cautiously while they are not sure what is ahead. The platoon 2” mortar deploys into the factory area and begins to lay down a smoke screen. The first round is slightly off target but will no doubt herald the arrival of plenty more.

The first smoke round arrives.  There's sure to be much more....

The Carrier section push ahead flat out, aiming for the factory on the British left. 

The Carriers are a tempting target for the Pak 40, but being small targets, low profile and having moved flat out, they may prove hard to hit. I decide best to hold back, I may be better waiting to see if there is a Sherman in support.

Another British double phase, but this time with a triple six which will end the turn. With no Germans yet in sight there is a general move forward. The sections in the factory on the British right continue to move towards the German JoP, while the carriers continue moving towards the other factory.

With the turn ending the British smoke is removed, but other than that little changes. In the following command roll the British reach enough CoC points for their first CoC die, which came very quickly. The 2" mortar gets back to work laying down smoke and the weakened #3 section makes a bold dash through the factory yard to close down the German JoP. While the JoP gave me an option on this flank, I'm prepared to sacrifice it.

The British Platoon Lieutenant now deploys and directs the #1 section to advance to the main factory buildings.

At this stage I'm prepared to let that factory and the JoP go. For one thing it doesn't give the British a particularly good base from which to assault the other factory buildings. Where they can, they will be firing at effective range and any movement involves crossing a fair bit of open ground. If I can only defend one position well, then I consider that factory the least favourable of the two.

On the British left the Carrier section moves carefully behind one of the factory workshops and the Bren team and 2" mortar team disembark with the Corporal.

While it is tempting for the Germans to do something there is little to be gained. I'd prefer to deploy when I can fire on the British within close range. So once again I wait patiently.

Meanwhile the British continue to work their way through the factory on their right. The Platoon Lieutenant pushes the #1 section forward and brings the 2" mortar forward.  

The 2” mortar with the carrier section now begins to contribute towards another smoke screen, this time in front of the factory on their left.

At the risk of making this a rather dull opening to the game, the Germans once again spend their phase watching and waiting.

On the other flank both the platoon sergeant and lieutenant move forward with the sections. With the German JoP closed down they have nothing to fear now within this factory and are simply setting themselves up to make a move to the other factory.

The Platoon Sergeant puts the #3 section on overwatch.

On the British left the carrier 2” mortar lays down more smoke while the Bren team puts down covering fire. The British are taking things slowly, building up a fire base and masking off possible German positions with smoke.  

It's at this point I decide the Germans can no longer do nothing. There's a danger all my positions will be blinded by smoke and the British will simply walk right over me. With that the first Volkssturm squad deploys in the main factory and fires on the carrier section teams. One of the Bren team is a casualty. First blood to the Germans.

The Volkssturm deploy in the factory.

With the carrier section in danger of being shot up Dave brings on a Sherman. There are great lines of sight across the table and the tank can sit far back out of panzerfaust and panzerschreck range and blast away. Which is exactly what happens. The Sherman sends a 75mm HE round into the factory and follows it up with a burst from the bow MG. The Germans take two casualties, one of which is the Volkssturm Gruppenfuhrer (JL) who is lightly wounded and German force morale drops to seven.

The carrier Bren team fires and adds some shock before the accompanying 2" mortar lands another round of smoke in front of the factory. The smoke screen completely blankets the factory when the 2" mortar on the other flank also lands a smoke round on target. The Volkssturm are now blinded behind a wall of smoke. The curse of the 2" mortars!

At this point the Germans roll a double phase, but how best to use it?  I would very much like to deploy the Pak 40 and have a crack at the Sherman, but the dice are unkind and I cannot deploy it in the first phase. If I get a chance in the subsequent phase Dave may use his CoC die to interrupt and I fear things could go wrong. Frustrating as it is, all I end up doing across the two phases is have the squad in the factory take up tactical positions, in case the turn ends and they are exposed to more HE from the Sherman.

With the Germans hidden behind smoke the British use their phase to advance forward on their right, while on their left they bring on their final section in a Kangaroo.  

The Corporal with the carrier section uses a CI to assign a man from the 2" mortar team to the bren team.  

The next German phase provides a chance to deploy the Pak 40 and I think this is as good a time as any. No surprise that Dave uses his CoC die to interrupt and have the Sherman drive flat out to avoid being hit.

The Sherman can't move quite far enough to get out of the Pak 40's line of sight and a round of 75mm AP comes streaking across the open ground and finally a German AT gun round strikes its target. The Sherman's armour proves tough, but one net hit results in two points of shock and the Sherman reversing exactly the same distance it had just driven forward in the interrupt. One more point of shock and the crew will abandon the tank. Not a bad result and at least I managed to hit the target this time.

The British react swiftly and the #3 section at the other factory is on overwatch and they fire on the gun crew. The junior leader of the crew becomes a casualty and is stunned for the remainder of the turn. German force morale drops to six.

In the following British phase the carrier 2" mortar fires smoke at the Pak 40, but without a line of sight the smoke drifts beyond the gun. On the other flank the platoon lieutenant orders the #3 section to continue its fire at the gun crew, but this time it has no effect. He then orders the 2" mortar to try to blind it with smoke, but the round drifts off target to the right. Sensing it was time to push forward he then sends the #1 section out of the factory and moving across the open ground.

The failure of the smoke to mask off the Pak 40 gives the gun a lease of life and the possibility of maintaining fire at the Sherman, but with the junior leader incapacitated I need a 1 to activate and to my disappointment there isn't one in the next command roll.

I need to suppress the British section firing at the gun crew and so I deploy my second section around the gun crew. The MG36 team fire across to the other factory at the British #3 section and inflicts two casualties, one of whom is the Corporal who is killed. British force morale drops to nine. That Corporal was never accepted by the section and so sadly one may suppose he will never be mourned by them.

The Volkssturm rifle team take up overwatch position to cover the British advance from the other factory.

My command roll does include a four and with that I decide that it's time to bring on the Volkssturm Zugfuhrer (SL) and put him in the centre of the factory buildings where he can issue commands to all units.

With the squad on the German right hidden behind smoke he is able to rally off their shock from command range and without needing to be attached. With his one remaining CI he orders the Pak 40 crew to fire at the Sherman again. This time German gunnery returns to its old tricks and the round fails to hit the target. I should be used to this by now....

The British command roll then provides a German reprieve when to Dave's horror he rolls 6,5,5,5,5. Lots of CoC points are always handy, but this was a time for activating units. I breathe a sigh of relief.

The Zugfuhrer orders the MG36 team to fire again and they inflict some shock on the British section. He then orders the Pak 40 to fire at the Sherman. 

 At that point Dave uses one of his CoC die to interrupt again and this time the Sherman manages to move fast enough to get out of harm's way. 

I really want to take this tank out and I'm so close. I need to find ways to bring down British force morale and this is a good chance. So with that I send a Volkssturm panszerschreck team on something of a suicide mission. They deploy out of the factory and emerge from the smoke. We can target the Sherman which is at extreme range.  I need to roll well to hit and to my delight I do. The AP strike is five and the Sherman can only roll two saves and that's enough to knock the tank out. While the Pak 40s have been disappointing, that's the third Sherman to go down to a panzerschreck. British force morale takes a drop to eight.

It's a long shot, but it's an accurate one.

Retribution is swift. In the British phase the carrier bren team fire at the panzerschreck crew, killing one of the crew and inflicting one shock.

The carrier 2” mortar follows up with a round of HE. The two hits results in two kills, more than enough to wipe the team out. The loss of a support team deals a heavy blow to German force morale which drops to four.

With the panzerschreck out of the way the Kangaroo moves forward 18” on the British left flank. On the other flank the #3 section fires at the factory and wounds the Volkssturm squad's Gruppenfuhrer, stunning him for the rest of the turn. I can't afford to see my force morale drop any further and so I use up a CoC die to negate the force morale roll.  

The 2" mortar finally lands a round of smoke right in front of the Pak 40 and with the factory effectively masked the #1 section begins to advance across the open ground.

The Germans are starting to really feel the pressure, but so far the Volkssturm have put up a very decent fight. The British have lost a junior leader and several casualties and they've just lost a Sherman. That said, with the smoke screen the British should be able to bring their sections up close and engage me. With that in mind I try to consolidate the position. The squad near the Pak 40 bring their LMG team to the back of the factory so that they can join the rifle team, ready to take on the advancing British section from the other factory.

The other squad moves towards the centre of the factory buildings where they may be able to provide more support.

The British have another double phase and with all the smoke that is down this gives them a chance to close on the factory. The platoon lieutenant is busy issuing orders, but he can't seem to get his units moving as fast as he would like.

In the following phase the move towards the factory continues.

While the Kangaroo moves forward slowly and disembarks the section.

There's not much for the Germans to do, we are in the best cover we can find and so everyone is placed on overwatch.

The British roll a double phase....again. This time the orders are clearly heard and acted upon. The #2 section from the Kangaroo move smartly towards the factory fence.

On the other flank the British sections close rapidly with the factory using the smoke as cover.

We are fast reaching the critical point as the British come in for the kill. In the subsequent phase the #2 section climb over the factory fence and into the factory yard. The carrier section bren team follows them.

On the other flank the #3 section moves cautiously behind the smoke and throws a grenade into the factory. It's not an easy throw given the line of sight but it manages to hit its target, killing a rifleman and one of the Pak 40 crew.

The Germans have brought their grenades too and the Zugfuhrerer uses all his command initiatives to have the squad throw grenades back out of the factory. They hit their target and cause two casualties.  German command rolls are down to four dice and the options have become more limited.

The British continue to advance on the left and there is little I can do to stop them.

The Platoon Sergeant on the British right flank orders the #1 section to now throw grenades in turn, but it's difficult to see the target through the smoke and over the factory walls and all three grenades miss their target.

Things are now getting desperate for the Volkssturm. The Zugfuhrerer orders them to use their last two grenades which they do quite effectively, inflicting four shock. With that the Zugfuhrer decides it's time to close with the smaller British section and the squad moves into close combat range. Desperate times call for desperate measures and when we work out the close combat odds it's clear this really is a desperate gamble. Despite taking on a smaller unit that is suffering from shock, the better British leadership and training of the regulars enables them to fight back with some effect. The Germans will roll seven dice to the British fourteen. The Germans manage five kills and three shock against the British six kills and two shock.

The British win the combat and the Germans fall back 6". The Volkssturm lose six men in total including the Gruppenfuhrer (he was stunned already, so never knew what hit him). It's a blow to German force morale which drop down to two.

However the British team is wiped out and the platoon sergeant is killed, taking British FM down to five.

That was a very bloody affair and my Volkssturm are determined to go down fighting, they have already done far more than I had expected.

After throwing their last grenades the squad prepares to close with the British

It's been bloody and there's a hole where the British were.

With German force morale at two the British are determined to finish off the defenders. The Platoon Lieutenant rushes to the front line to fill the command roll so recently taken by the Platoon Sergeant. He orders the section move through the smoke and up to the factory walls.

On the other flank the British units close in on the factory, ready for a final assault.

The Germans are now down to three command dice and so a lot depends on the Zugfuhrer. He orders the remnants of the squad from the close combat to move towards the centre of the factory, which they do quickly. The end looks nigh and the Volkssturm must sense this will be their last stand.

The #1 section from the Kangaroo edges forward tactically close to the factory wall. On the other flank the Lieutenant rallies off shock and prepares the section for close combat

The Volkssturm Zugfuhrer orders the squads to form a line at the front of the factory, ready for the onslaught.

The British #2 section throws grenades through the smoke, but it's a difficult target, yet this still manages some hits and inflicts shock.

The Lieutenant meanwhile orders the section to throw two grenades at the gun crew. They hit, killing one of the crew and inflicting enough shock to pin the remainder. At that point he orders the section to assault the factory building and with the odds so much in their favour the Pak 40 crew immediately rout. This takes them right off the table with their accompanying junior leader. I use my remaining CoC die to negate the roll for the leader routing, but I can't avoid the one for support routing and German FM drops to one.

The next phase, the limited command options means all I can do is have one of the German squads throw a grenade out of the factory. It misses.

The British now get yet another double phase and they close for the kill. The section that assaulted the Pak 40 are now inside the factory and with a clear line of sight down the length of the factory halls they fire on the squads inside. From 16 hits they manage two casualties and enough shock to pin the squad.

The #2 section from the Kangaroo throws grenades into the smoked out factory, but they all miss.

The following British phase brings the end as the section inside the factory pours another round of small arms fire down the halls and that's enough to break the smaller Volkssturm squad and the attached Zugfuhrerer, which is enough to take German force morale down to zero.

Well that was quite a fight and considering I only had a weak, green Volkssturm platoon I think they performed well above my expectations. Considering they were probably a bunch of die-hard Nazis I guess I shouldn't really be too congratulatory, but they've held up the British for a turn and inflicted some casualties, so served their purpose well.

The difference in force morale is five and so the British will see some of those casualties return immediately. Losses included the Platoon Sergeant and a newly promoted corporal. Six other ranks were also casualties, as was one man from a support team. All up the British will lose one more man permanently, taking their permanent losses to six in total from this platoon, plus they will have to replace the Platoon Sergeant and Corporal with promotions.

So the campaign now reaches campaign turn eight with the British adjacent to Map eight.  If the Germans defending Map 8 surrender then British campaign victory is assured. I think it's no secret the final map is defended by a platoon of Fallschirmjager and so it all hangs on them. Will they stand and fight? A suspenseful roll of the dice and I roll a two. Yes, they will stand. If the British want campaign victory in eight turns then they will need to drive these Fallschirmjager from the map on the first attempt.

It has come down to the wire, you couldn't ask for a better end to the campaign.

You can follow all the campaign AARs here Road to Bremen Campaign AARs


  1. Great AAR as always! If you are looking for additional figures to beef up your Volksstrum have a look at this Pegasus kit.

    1. Thanks GReg, didn’t realise Pegasus did those figures, thanks for the heads up.

  2. Really like the way you mention your thinking behind your decisions. Descriptions of your opponents moves provide nice insight to his decisions.

    Always great AAR's. Thanks

    1. Thanks Charles, I always think it’s good to share my thinking so readers know what’s intended as opposed to what just eventuates. Glad you are enjoying them.

  3. "The Carriers are a tempting target for the Pak 40, but being small targets, low profile and having moved flat out, they may prove hard to hit. I decide best to hold back, I may be better waiting to see if there is a Sherman in support."

    1. LOL, I knew that would amuse you, in fact you were the first person to come to mind when the whole thing unfolded. We aim to entertain!

  4. What a gripping report, those Volksturm put up a terrific backs to the wall resistance, a thrilling build up for next encounter.

    1. The next battle will not be a walk in the park Fallschirmjagers are a tough opponent. British will need to bring their A-Game.

    2. My biggest fear the scenario would be a walk over for the British and the AAR would just be a formality, so it was great to see the Volkssturm make a real fight out of it.

  5. The AARs of this campaign is simply amazing. Such a great read and a great presentation of CoC and the Road to Bremen campaign. /Mattias

    1. I’m really enjoying CoC and the campaigns just make it even better. Happy to do my bit to promote such a good game.

  6. Yet another brilliant, tense AAR. Can't wait for the next episode.

    1. Thanks Counterpane, it’s certainly come right down to the wire, very enjoyable.

  7. Great AAR, enjoyable read
    cheers John

    1. Cheers John, have you picked a campaign to play yet?

  8. Great ARR with great pictures. I too really enjoy the narrative of the command decisions throughout the game. I’ll be tuning in for the climax!

    1. Thanks Stew, great to know you are enjoying these. It’s certainly going to be a tense finale to a very enjoyable campaign.

  9. Great AAR! Tough last stand, you really need a turn end to unmask the factory.