Russell and I had been talking about having a Mid-war game on the desert table I had made. So finally, we decided to have a 100pt game between his Desert Rats 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, Motor Company and my DAK Panzer Regiment 8, 15th Panzer Division, Panzer III Company.
Using the 'More Missions' PDF, I chose to 'Attack' while Russell chose to 'Defend'. And with a roll of '5', we got 'Rearguard'.
Orders of Battle:
'A' Company, 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade,
Formation Combat Units
|Motor Company HQ||2 x SMLE rifle teams|
|Motor Platoon 1||
4 x Bren Gun teams
1 x Boys Anti-tank Gfile
1 x 2" mortar
|Motor Platoon 2||
7 x Bren Gun & SMLE rifle teams
1 x Boys Anti-tank Gfile
1 x 2" mortar
|6 pdr Anti-tank Platoon||4 x 6 pdr guns|
|Universal Carrier Patrol||3 x Universal Carriers|
|Vickers MMG Platoon||2 x Vickers MMG teams|
|17/25 pdr Anti-tank Troop||4 x 17/25 pdr guns|
|Hurricane Tank-Busting Flight||2 x Hurricanes|
|Priest Field Troop||4 x Priest (105mm)|
|Honey OP Observation Post||1 x Honey OP|
|Grant Armoured Troop||3 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)|
5. Kompanie, I. Bataillon, 8. Regiment,
Formation Combat Units
|Panzer III (Uparmoured) Tank Company HQ||1 x Panzer III (Uparmoured)|
|Panzer III (Mixed) Tank Platoon||
3 x Panzer III (Short 5cm)
|Panzer III (Mixed) Tank Platoon||3 x Panzer III (7.5cm)|
|Panzer IV Tank Platoon||3 x Panzer IV (Short 7.5cm)|
|Sd Kfz 221 & 222 Light Scout Troop||
2 x SD Kfz 221(MG)
|Sd Kfz 10/4 Light AA Platoon||3 x Sd Kfz 10/4 (2cm)|
|JU 87 Stuka Dive Bomber Flight||2 x Ju 87 Stuka|
|Afrika Rifle Platoon||4 x MG34 team
1 x 2.8cm Anti-tank Gun
1 x sMG34 HMG
Russell had 1 minefield for very 25 points so with 4 he began to block out the likely paths that I would take to get to the objectives. With his Priests on board, he also got to place his Pre-ranged in artillery marker.
He then proceeded to deploy 1 motor rifle platoon in the town on his right flank and the other behind the oasis and hill on his left, each covering one objective. The Priest were deployed behind the village out of sight but ready to move forward to cover the objective with their Brutal Guns. The observer was perched hull-down on the hill with the infantry to provide 'eyes' on the pre-ranged in marker.
The 6 pdr platoon was placed, dug-in, to cover the central approaches while the Grants were deployed just behind and to the left of the guns to cover the valley and to act as a mobile reserve to react to my play.
The UCs were deployed directly behind the 6 pdrs and the 17/25 pdrs were kept in ambush.
I decided that my thrust would be to the objective on my left flank as it offered a more open dash to contact.
I had my Panzer IVs crested behind the dune to provide artillery support while everything else was positioned for a crazy dash (infantry hitching a rid eon the Panzer IIIs) to get across the open plain in front of me.
Lastly, my scout car platoon was placed at the entrance of the valley to either dashed into it or to skirt it to get to the 6 pdr guns.
The 8.Rgt kicked off their attack with a smoke bombardment to try to block off the 6 pdrs while the Panzer IIIs raced forward under the watch of the SdKfz 10/4s. The armoured car platoon chose to pushed forward behind the smoke screen to get into position to take on the AT guns on the next turn.
The Luftwaffe sent out a pair of Stukas to support the push and managed to range in on the guns after surviving a round of AA fire from the .50 Cals of the Priests and the 37mm of the lone Honey OP. Yet, despite their valiant effort, all they could do was to add a few craters in and amongst the gun teams.
Turn 1 for the DAK ended with them just jostling for a position to strike at the village next turn.
As the British were so rudely disturbed while they were enjoying their cup of tea, they made a call out to the RAF airfield and got a pair of 'Harry Kanes' to give the germans a buzz around.
This was while the Grants were revving up their engines and started moving forward south of the valley, trying to get into a shooting position to get flank shots on the Panzers as they pushed into the town. They chanced upon the scout platoon and a volley of shots managed to bail one.
As a stiff northerly was blowing in from the sea, the smoke screen started to dissipate rapidly near the edges and one of the 6 pdrs caught sight of a Sd Kfz 221 and promptly blew one up while at the other end of the gun line, another team took shots at the advancing Panzer IIIs but to no avail.
With nothing to call down fire upon, the Honey OP repositioned itself on the reverse slope and manage a shot at the advancing scout cars but did nothing except to give away its position.
The combined air and artillery attack from the Priests took its toll on the infantry hatching a ride atop the Panzers, losing the HMG and two infantry teams. The rest quickly dismounted and hit the dirt. Two panzers were hit but the explosions did nothing except to stun the crew who bailed out. Shrapnel from the bombardment took out the crew of one of the Sd Kfz 10/4s.
The infantry are shell shocked by the sudden rain of fire but with the Company Commander on hand, they were soon on their feet and pushing forwards. Blitzing, 1. Zug also pushed forward but had to leave one tank behind as they struggled to get their tank moving. 2. Zug similarly also advanced as the last of the smoke screen lifted.
With artillery fire from the Panzer IVs pinning the infantry, the two Panzer III zugs poured MG fire into the Vickers platoon but failed to inflict any damage.
On the right flank, the 221 remounted and then the bug blitzed forward to lay down withering fire on the 6 pdrs, eventually decimating the crew of one gun. The Stukas returned after re-arming but before they could drop their bombs, were shot out of the skies by some amazing AA gunnery from the crews of the Priests.
The DAK are right at the doorsteps of the town but were just out of range to launch an assault.
The heavy shelling and MG fire kept the heads of the infantry down and they refused to rally. The Priests were now able to see the oncoming wall of germans and self-spotted to great effect. Taking out an MG34 team and bailing a Panzer III.
The 6 pdrs, elated with the downing of the Stukas, rallied and poured round after round as fast as they could into the armoured cars out in the open. Amazingly, every round flew past harmlessly as the armoured cars took evasive action. Distracted by the fire from their front, the armoured cars unwittingly made themselves easy targets to the Grants on their flanks.
Seeing their platoon being cut down, the infantry now refused to budge, the PC just barely preventing a rout.
The two Panzer zugs pressed on to drive the Desert Rats out of their fox holes. 1. Zug split up with two tanks skirting the town to try to take out the Priests. The other tanks provided supporting fire for 2. Zug as they assaulted the Vickers platoon. One Panzer III bogged while pushing through the town's wall but eventually, the MMG positions were taken out and the motor platoon driven out of their foxholes.
The Motor Platoon rallies immediately and advances to surround the objective. With the germans past the middle of the table, the 17/25 pdrs popped out in ambush, to try to take out the Panzer IIIs. The Grants pulled back to make way for the guns and the troop commander ordered 'Follow Me!' gaining them another 4".
Disappointingly, the 17/25 pdrs could not find their range and missed all their shots. The 6 pdrs did not do too well either, only managing to bail one Panzer III. Faced with Panzers advancing to shoot them next next turn, the Priest moved to fire first but being slow firing, they too were unable to bring their shots to bear.
The town was starting to become a swirling maelstrom. 1. Zug continues to engage the Priests but saw its rounds glancing off all but one. 2. Zug and the AA tracks pressed on to dislodge the Motor Platoon, managing to only take out the platoon command. The germans can almost smell victory.
The 2nd Motor Platoon started to move across the table to reinforce the defence of the objective. The Grants continued to close in on the objective as well, firing on the Panzer IIIs of 2. Zug taking out the tank contesting the objective.
From behind the town, the Priests were forced to go on the offensive, closing down the the Panzer IIIs and firing point blank with their 105mm guns. Unused to firing through open sights, all the shots were high and missed their targets.
The 17/25 pdrs finally got lucky and took out the bogged down Panzer III outside the town wall, effectively destroying 2. Zug.
The Hurricanes swooped down on the Panzer IVs that had moved into the wadi to get to an alternate firing position to support the assault. The swirling dust cloud made target acquisition extremely difficult and no casualties were inflicted.
The Panzers now closed in for the kill. 1. Zug split up with 2 tanks going for the Priests while the Command tank and two others shot at and assaulted the infantry. The Motor Platoon fought valiantly down to the last stand . The Priests lost another 2 guns and had the last gun bailed out.
The Panzer IVs let go a barrage on the 17/25 pdrs but the last air attack had thrown them off their aim, doing little except pinning down the gun crews.
Being British and the Bulldogs that there are, the last infantry stand refused to leave their fallen comrades and stay on to fight. The Priest did likewise but the crew was still too stunned to get back in to man their gun.
The Grants deployed in line and bore down on 1. Zug. Their main guns fired on the Panzer IIIs almost at point blank brewing up two tanks whilst their 37mm turned on the AA tracks and promptly set them ablaze too.
The RAF returned to continue their attack on the Panzer IVs and blew the turret off one.
From their positions, the 17/25 pdrs did not have to worry that their shots did not find their marks as they surveyed the carnage while the German Commander decided that the his forces had no way to capture the town in its current state.
The British Commander, Sir Russell King, gladly accepted the unconditional surrender from Herr Melvin.
The British had played out their defence strategy brilliantly with two Motor platoons anchoring the objectives. The 6 pdrs were in a great position to support the defence. The mine fields were placed to block or channel the Germans into kill zones which resulted in me choosing to attack the wrong objective. Having the 17/25 pdrs in ambush allowed the rapid deployment of 4 guns to be placed wherever the schwerpunkt would be.
The German had played into the trap, opting to choose the more open ground with less mines. Had the schwerpunkt been on the right flank, counter attack would have been channeled into a narrow strip behind the hill.
The astute commanders reading would have noticed that we forgot to remove platoons for the British as this was to have been a 'Strategic Withdrawal' scenario. Russell is a novice to Flames of War and this is only his fourth full game.
We were both having so much fun that we totally forgot.
I hope you had as much fun reading this battle report as I had writing it. We will be arranging another Desert battle soon. So stay tuned for the next report.