Our previous game saw Russell's Desert Rats 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, Motor Company put up a dogged defence around the town and taking the victory from my DAK Panzer Regiment 8, 15th Panzer Division, Panzer III Company.
Now for our rematch, Russell wanted to try out a Tank-heavy force. I, on the other hand, swapped out my Panzer IV platoon for some Lorraine Schleppers and Marders.
Once again using the 'More Missions' PDF, I chose to 'Attack' while Russell chose to 'Attack' too which meant we would have to roll off to see who attacks. And with a roll of '2', we got 'Counterattack'. And in the Roll Off, I won to become the 'Attacker'.
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||
4 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|
|Vickers MMG Platoon||2 x Vickers MMG teams|
|17/25 pdr Anti-tank Troop||4 x 17/25 pdr guns|
'A' Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment,
Formation Combat Units
|Grant Armoured Squadron HQ||2 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)|
|Grant Armoured Troop 1||3 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)|
|Grant Armoured Troop 2||3 x Grant (37mm & 75mm)|
|Crusader Armoured Troop 5||
1 x Crusader II (2 pdr)
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)|
|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|
|Marder (7.62cm) Tank-Hunter Platoon||3 x Marder (7.62cm)|
|15cm (SF) Lorraine Schlepper Artillery Battery||4 x 15cm (SF) Lorraine Schlepper|
|Afrika Rifle Platoon||4 x MG34 team
1 x 2.8cm Anti-tank Gun
1 x sMG34 HMG
|Panzer II OP Observation Post||1 x Panzer II OP|
The British will have to place 40% of their forces in Immediate Reserves so Russell decided that he would have one of his Motor platoons and two of his Grant Platoons in reserves.
Russell had a good look at the terrain and decided that his boys would have an easier time defending the town. A Motor Platoon and the Vickers dug in around town to cover the approaches to his (Defender's) objective.
The 6 pdrs were put up on the hill, right at the edge of his deployment zone to cover my advance. Just behind them were a line of 17/25 pdrs with a range of 36" which would easily hit anything near my (Attacker's) objective.
Lastly, his HQ Grants and the Crusader platoon held a line on his left flank ready to push forward towards my objective. Russell opted not to hold any platoons in Ambush (He would live to regret this fateful decision).
Counterattack is one of the missions where your can exploit the Spearhead rule of your recon to the max. I placed my Sd Kfz 221 & 222s at the forward edge of my deployment area, then pushed them ahead at cross-country dash speed, positioning them at least 16" away from my objective. After doing so, my deployment area was extended to an area 8" around my recon units.
This allowed me to immediately deploy my infantry unit right on the edge of the village. My full panzer force of Command and the two Panzer III zugs also deployed within striking distance of the my objective.
My Lorraines located themselves in a copse of palm trees out of range of British guns while the Marders readied themselves to push into the other copse of palms to cover the possible arrival of the British armoured reserves around the village.
My Panzer II OP found that the spearhead bubble gave him a nice cozy spot in the Palm Grove to observe the Brits from.
With no threat from the RAF, my SdKfz 10/4 Zug decided that they would sneak up behind the 6 pdrs and threaten the infantry in the town.
The CO led 2. Zug, Panzer III (7.5cm) and charged into the wadi while 1.Zug, Panzer III (short 5cm) advanced cautiously along the escarpment, careful not to present themselves to the 17/25 pdrs.
The Marder zug took cross checks and successfully advanced into the palm grove to await the arrival of the armoured reserves.
The recon zug having done their job, rushed back towards the hills to take cover from the 6 pdrs.
As planned, the AA zug moved forward towards the town while the infantry took up defensive positions in the village.
The Panzer II OP called in a bombardment from the Lorraines which blew up two guns and pinned the 6 pdrs. The Lufwaffe sent in the Stukas and only managed to hit the gun on the right edge of the gun line, blowing the gun team to smithereens.
First blood has been drawn.
With the artillery barrage and air raids signalling the commencement of the German offensive, The Desert Rats tried frantically to radio for reinforcements but it was to no avail. ( No reserves came in)
Losing half their platoon, the 6 pdr platoon, despite being fearless, were stunned and unable to unpin themselves. Their heavyweight brethren in town easily rallied.
The HQ Grants lumbered forward to position themselves for shots at the 1. Zug, leaving the Crusader platoon to make use of their terrain dash to move to the entrance of the wadi. The Grants then fired 2 shots but both shots went high over the Panzer IIIs.
One of the Panzer IIIs had been sloppy and just strayed into the sights of a 17/25 pdr but thankfully, there was not enough to give the gun a clear shot and both shots missed.
Good weather allowed the Luftwaffe to launch another sortie, successfully hitting but somehow the bomb failed to explode.
2. Zug tried to blitz forward but failed. Nevertheless, the zug moved up so they could shoot the Grants, albeit at a '+1' to hit. The CO, however, successfully, blitzed and was now in a great position to shoot the Grants.
4 shots from all tanks failed to hit at long range.
1. Zug chose to remain still to maximise their firepower. Taking their shots but missing all but two which the grants promptly saved. The zug commander orders them to 'Shoot & Scoot' and successfully moved themselves back 4', out of LOS of the 17/25 pdrs.
The crews of the Sd Kfz 10/4s depressed and trained their guns on the Vickers in the town. The hail of bullets did little but shower the PBIs with bits of debris.
The infantry in the village dug in, expecting the British reinforcement to arrive anytime.
Once again the British reinforcements were late in arriving, leaving the beleaguered troops to hold out for another turn.
The HQ Grants inched forward until they were within short range of the lead Panzer III in the Wadi. The Crusader platoon forged forward into the Wadi also to within short range of the Panzer IIIs.
The Grants were unable to compensate for the depression and the shots again went over the Panzers. The Crusaders, however, had better gunnery luck. A 2 pdr and 6 pdr shot found their marks on two Panzer IIIs, killing one and bailing the other.
1. Zug, which had retreated out of sight of the 17/25 pdrs, had inadvertently offered up their sides to the 6 pdrs perched on the hills. Under the continuous bombardment from the Lorraines, the gun teams remained pinned but seeing the targets of opportunity, they laid their guns to bear and snapshot with one shot each resulting in all the shots burying themselves in the dune.
The Vickers, now enraged by the showering of debris from the AA tracks, returned the favour. Twelve shots from two guns vaporised two of the three tracks.
The AA zug having been decimated by the Vickers barrage, decided to turn tail and run after failing their 'Last Stand'.
The bailed Panzer III failed to remount resulting in 2. Zug having to take a Last Stand. Fortunately, they passed and Tank 3 blitzed forward to take two shots at the Crusaders which ended up harmlessly in the walls of the wadi behind them.
The CO shot at the Grants above but also only to managed to put holes in the wadi wall. He then decided to scoot away out of LOS.
The long range duel between 1. Zug and the HQ Grants continued but at long range, the 5cm AP rounds either missed or bounced harmlessly off the thick front hull of the Grants.
Looking down, the Luftwaffe pilots saw 5 tanks clustered and dove immediately to attack. The bombs lit up a Grant, a Crusader III and bailed another Crusader II.
The artillery continued its bombardment of the 6 pdrs but being so well dug in, they survived the barrage only to remain pinned.
Under cover of the barrage, the Recon zug finally decided to charge up the hill to get rid of the 6 pdrs only to see their combined MG and 2cm shots either miss or fail to penetrate the gunshields.
Finally, the first of the Grant Platoon emerged through the dust clouds and appeared in the Marder's flank but three 75mm shots and three 37mm shots (secondary weapons fire at '+1') found the Concealed and Gone to Ground AT Hunters a tough target to hit.
With nothing to shoot at after forcing the AA zug to retreat, the Vickers found that the Recon zug had just strayed into range of one gun. 6 shots of .303 zipped harmlessly over the tops of the 221s & 222s.
The fearless RHA gunners regained their composure, unpinned and made the Recon Zug pay for their insolence. Four 6 pdr AP rounds tore through the scouts, brewing two and bailing one.
The Grants and the Crusaders continued to exchange fire with the Panzer IIIs with no telling results.
With air superiority, the Stukas once again came in and swooped down on the 17/25 pdrs, yet failing to do any significant damage.
The Marder zug demonstrated to the Brits why they were called Tank hunters as they made easy work of the Grants brewing all three with their AT 12 shots.
Back in the Wadi, a Panzer III from 2. Zug took one Crusader III clean out with his HEAT round, forcing the platoon to have to take a 'Last Stand' roll.
The rest of the British reinforcements arrived in force. The infantry marched forward into a depression outside the village and fired on the Africa Korps Infantry but causing no casualties.
The Grants took up positions behind their burning brethren hoping to get some cover from the Marders. Their ineffective fire did little but piss off the AT Gunners.
The HQ Grant had been bracketing 2. Zug and eventually two 75mm shots found their mark. One Panzer III erupted in an enormous ball of flames while the other crew managed to bail out, taking cover behind their tank.
A fine example of gallantry, the lone Crusader II passed his '5+' Last Stand and resolutely held his ground though his 2 pdr shots bounced off the thick Panzer III front armour.
For the first time in this battle, the Luftwaffe failed to show up due to a dust storm back at the base, grounding all aircraft.
The Afrika Rifle zug now returned a favour and laid a hail of lead from the MG and HMG teams back into the PBIs, decimating the ranks. Three stands fell where they stood.
The Marders could not believe it but the Grants were queuing up and presenting them with easy targets. Sadly, the thick black smoke from the burning first wave caused some of the shots to miss the second wave, resulting in only one brew up.
The Recon zug realised quickly that they had stirred up a hornet's nest and promptly took cover behind the hill.
2. Zug remounted and moved forward in the hope of blocking off the Wadi so the Brits could not move in to contest the objective. The combined firepower of the 2 Zugs and the CO took out the last HQ Grant and bailed the lone Crusader II. (Fortunately, the last Grant platoon had come on from reserves or the formation would have had no platoons in Good Spirits on the table and would have automatically failed Formation morale.)
The Motor Platoon failed to rally and chose to dig in where they were.
The 6 pdf platoon man-handled the gun forward 2", giving them a shot at the Panzer II OP. However, it was always a near impossible shot (Careful, Concealed, Gone to Ground & Long Range means its '7+' to Hit).
Undoubtedly, the true hero of the Brits had to be the lone Crusader II. Remounting from the bail out in the previous turn, it promptly passed its Last Stand and moved forward to contest the objective. But it was too little too late.
We decided that since this little guy was all the stood in the way of a German Victory (No units within 4" of the objective on or after Turn 6), we would just settle all the shots from the tanks.
As the shots penetrated and the flames and smoke shot out of the burning Crusader, every German tanker took off their hats and saluted their courageous foe.
It was a game of missed shots with both sides failing to do damage to the other but it was a great game nonetheless. And as it stands, the series is tied at 1:1. Keep an eye out for the next game in the series.