Saturday 4 July 2020

29, Let's Go! Counterattack at Arthenay

The American attempt to clear the Germans from their right flank was repulsed in the previous game. This was a rare victory and presents the Germans with two options. They can choose either to stay and hold the ground they have just defended so successfully, or take the initiative with a local counterattack and attempt to throw the Americans off their schedule.

I see little option but to take the latter choice. Why? Because a counter attack, regardless of how successful guarantees the Americans spend at least one game dealing with that attack and then, assuming they drive the Germans back, they must return to make a second attempt to clear the right flank. In other words a counterattack guarantees the Germans stall the US advance for a minimum of two games. As this campaign is all about buying the Germans time so that other units can withdraw over the bridge at Isigny this seems the logical course of action.

However it is worth keeping in mind that the Germans must fight this and any subsequent games on this flank with the same platoon. They need to avoid making a reckless attack and try to preserve a viable force for the following scenario. This is the opposite to the situation for the Americans who can feed a fresh platoon into every encounter.

For that reason I'm seeing this as more of a spoiling attack, a deliberate attempt to delay the Americans but not much more. The German 352nd Infantry Division has been equipped for static defence and with no armour and limited resources anything more ambitious is likely to come to grief in the face of the well equipped Americans.

The German platoon is currently at full strength. I'm optimistic that if forced back to Cardonville in reasonably good shape they may have a chance of delaying the Americans for longer, but that won't be possible if the platoon suffers heavily. So for this game the emphasis is on firepower rather than manpower. For support I plan to call on a 80mm mortar barrage and a leIG18 infantry gun.

I'll grab any opportunities if they arise, but otherwise this will be more of a feint than an outright attack. If I'm faced with massed firepower then my best strategy is to withdraw back towards Cardonville and force the Americans to come back and drive me out.

The previous game in the campaign ladder was the fight to clear the American left flank and so it doesn’t make sense for the counterattack to take place there. This game will take place back at the main coastal road in the vicinity of Arthenay and the table is a variation of the one where we played Scenario 2.

The Germans begin with force morale of eight, while the Americans have eleven. Not an auspicious start for an attacking force. The Germans have three free moves at the beginning of the patrol phase and manage to spread jump-off-points across the platoon's front.

The Americans have nineteen support points and can afford to conduct an aggressive defence. I expect to face armour and infantry and need to avoid getting caught up in prolonged firefights. It’s important to consider this game in the light of the whole campaign.

The Germans will make up their nine support points by adding an Adjutant to the mortar barrage and infantry gun. My plan is simple - to try and deploy the forward observer and the infantry gun early on so that I can bring down the barrage quickly, cause some casualties and then withdraw in good shape.

With the higher force morale the Americans have the initiative and the first phase. Their initial command roll is 66542 and the prospect of early American deployment does not bode well for my plan. A squad deploys on their right flank with the BAR team in the lower level of the house and the rifle team at the hedge. The platoon sergeant joins them.

The subsequent US command roll is 64443 and the Americans decide to delay any further deployment until they have a clearer idea of what the Germans are trying to do.

My anguish over the American double phase is soon forgotten with a German command roll of 66521. That's a good roll for what I have planned. The forward observer deploys from the central jump-off-point and makes contacts with the mortar battery.

The FO is joined by a squad, who deploy along the hedge row.

Fortune continues to favour the Germans with another double phase and a roll of 66421. I'm expecting to see Americans deploy to the upper levels of the farm buildings to target my forward observer and squad and so I deploy the leIG18 infantry gun on the left. The gun commander puts the crew on overwatch.

With an adjutant I can afford to bring on the Feldwebel. While I could have used the command roll of 1 to activate the forward observer I want to maximise the chance I can activate him in the following phase and the presence of a senior leader should make that much more likely. The Feldwebel deploys and he puts both teams of the squad on overwatch.

He then orders the forward observer to call in an aiming round with the intention of bringing down the barrage so it denies the buildings to the Americans.

The aiming round fails to land on target but the deviation is such that it won't impact the effect of the barrage if it is called down in the next phase.

The command dice continue to look very favourably on the Germans and a roll of 66432 will mean another phase and the ability to execute my plan. With that the Feldwebel orders the forward observer to call down the full the barrage.

The first mortar rounds inflict shock on both the BAR and rifle teams, but more importantly limits what the Americans can do from two of their jump-off-points.

A second German squad deploys from the central jump-off-point and takes up tactical positions across the road. From here they are in command range of the Feldwebel who is in a good location to make the most of the units near him.

The German run of phases will not continue but the next phase allows several activations. Firstly the forward observer moves the barrage towards the right.

It continues to fall on the American squad and this time it kills one of the rifle team and inflicts shock on both the squad's teams.

The German squad in the road moves forward tactically to take up positions along the hedgerow.

This may be a dangerous move, as there is a good chance I could face considerable fire from the opposite hedgerow should the Americans deploy in force. I must be careful not to let the run of phases lull me into a sense of over confidence.

The US command roll of 63322 allows for just the response in force I was fearing. Two squads deploy along the opposite hedge and fire across the ploughed field. It will be an attack of thirty dice as Dave has opted to equip each squad with a second BAR.

Despite firing at effective range the Americans manage fourteen hits. So I'm grateful for the extra protection my squad gains from taking up tactical positions. As a result they suffer only one casualty in the rifle team and a point of shock on each team. That was fortunate, but this is developing into the sort of uneven firefight I want to avoid.

More support arrives in the shape of a Sherman which is forced to avoid the barrage and work its way around the rear of the one of the barns.

In the German phase the Feldwebel orders the forward observer to maintain the mortar barrage and the Americans lose another casualty.

I debate whether to have the squad at the hedge return fire, but instead decide the sensible option is to pull back.

During the American phase the platoon sergeant rallies shock off the rifle and BAR teams under the barrage.

The Sherman then moves forward at normal speed. At this point it can see around the smoke from the barrage and over the hedges to the German squad that has just pulled back.

The commander fires the coaxial MG, but at only half firepower it has no effect.

With the barrage in danger of encroaching on to their position one of the squads at the hedgerow works its way foward into the ploughed field.

The Germans then roll 66644 in their command phase. Is this a new opportunity or the end of the current one? The turn will end and, without a full CoC die, so will the barrage. And so I ask myself, is there any way I can exploit the double phase?

Before making a decision I see how this phase plays out. The Feldwebel orders the forward observer to make the most of barrage while it lasts and more shock is inflicted on the Americans. He then orders the squad in the road to fall back further, closer to the jump-off-point.

With that the turn ends. The loss of the barrage combined with the arrival of a strong American force is the sign that the Germans are unlikely to make much more progress in this game. The key objective has been achieved and US progress has been delayed. This has been done with minimal loss from the German platoon which can withdraw in good order ready to fight another day. With my mind made up, in the next phase the Germans declare they will withdraw.

A short but nonetheless very effective game when viewed in the context of the whole campaign. It’s quite possible to play one of these counterattack games and not engage the enemy at all but I feel that’s not really in the spirit of the campaign. I’m aware there are various house rules that insist the counter attacking force cannot withdraw in the first turn or must engage the enemy with some sort fire. That being the case I can feel my platoon did both of these and have acquitted themselves with honour (and of course four phases in a row made that a little easier than it might otherwise have been).

The Germans are still out of touch with headquarters and so the CO's opinion will remain unchanged. The men's opinion improves due to the low level of casualties and rises from -2 to 0. The German platoon commander's outlook however remains at Irritable.

In the next game the Americans will return to Cardonville and scenario 4 to make a second attempt to clear the Germans from their right flank. You can find out what happens next in in this report.

You find reports for all the games in this campaign and many other campaigns on the Chain of Command Campaign AAR page here.


  1. A shrewd move there Mark that paid off well, albeit a short affair. Look forward to reading and viewing the American riposte.

    1. Thanks Phil, the campaign is all about delaying the Americans and so I have to grab every opportunity. I’m in good shape to face the Americans again, however they will come back in force, so it may be difficult to hold them off a second time.

  2. Great looking table and minis. In your campaign are the Americans headed to Cherbourg? Apologies if this is covered in an older post. Cheers Greg

    1. Thanks. They are heading from the beachhead at Omaha to link up with the Utah landing. The bridge at Isigny is the target for the campaign. The Germans are delaying to allow a withdrawal to form a defensive line behind the river. The sooner the Americans take the bridge the harder it will be for the Germans to withdraw units and form a new line.

  3. Great looking game, I should get a table set up and play some myself one of these days.