Saturday, January 23, 2016

WW2 6mm company Contour 180 scenario and battle report - Normandy 31 July 1944

Introduction
This is the second of a planned series of WW2 historical scenarios based on the operations of the Hampshire Regiment (7th Battalion) of the 130th Brigade, 43rd (Wessex) Division in Europe July 1944 to April 1945. The scenarios will be a mix of a battalion and company level, with maybe some platoon/skirmish if the detail is available.  These will be based on their War History with further research where necessary. At the moment this is a side project, so not sure when I may get to the rest.

The first scenario and more background to the Hampshire Regiment is at this blog post.

This post contains a scenario and a battle report of two companies supported by Honey tanks attacking German defenders in the Normandy countryside.

Contour 180 outside Cahagnes scenario

Background
As part of Operation Bluecoat the 130 Brigade is to head from Caumont to Jurques. On 30th July, the 7th Battalion (also known as The Hampshire Regiment) advanced down the road and settled for the night midway between Caumont and Cahagnes. Cahagnes is midway between Caumont and Jurques.  D Company was subject to a small counter attack from a farm complex on the right side of the road.  On the 31st D company was to take out the farm complex (scenario 1 **link) and later join the rest of the battalion for the attack on Cahagnes.  A Company was protecting the left flank and B and C Company were to advance down the road to take Contour 180 - the ridge line outside of Cahagnes - prior to the assault on Cahagnes itself.  In this battle they were supported by Honey Tanks from the Sherwood Rangers.

The scenario is the taking of the Contour 180 ridge by the two companies.

Map

  • Each grid is 100m by 100m. North is at about 2 o'clock.
  • The Caumont-Cahagnes road runs down the centre of the table (the one with no bocage on either side), indicated by dark brown dotted line.
  • British B Company enters on top left of the Caumont-Cahagnes, C Company on the right. Onboard infantry support must be allocated to either company  Honey tanks on the road but may then go off road first turn.
  • German deploy anywhere below the red line.
  • Germans may be in shell scrapes but there are no specific fortifications or engineering works.
  • All buildings are stone (hard cover).
  • Tress represent orchards but the trees are not close and are not bushes but low trees.
  • All hedges lining the roads are bocage and impassable to the Honeys and Carriers.  Other hedges are hedges.
  • All roads are one lane and a destroyed vehicle will block the road to other vehicles (no way around with bocage on both sides).
  • Germans start the game hidden.
  • The fields have the occasional crater, but not really enough to place on the map and not really an impediment to traversing the field by foot, wheel or track
  • The ridgeline (contour 180) does runs across the bottom of the table as indicated (the road and hedge) but its effect negligible - it blends in with the very gentle slope that runs from the top to the bottom.

British (7th Battalion)
Mission: Clear the road to Cahagnes and the ridgeline.   You have 10 turns as you need to reform and attack Cahagnes with the rest of the battalion later in the day.

Victory:
Score 5 points for clearing the the Caumont-Cahagnes road (no German units within 150m).
Score 5 points for no unbroken/unsuppressed/non-routing Germans on the ridgeline.

0 - lose
5 points - draw
10 points - win.

B Company:

B Company HQ
     1 HQ infantry rifle stand
     3 PIAT teams (may be allocated to Platoons)

10 Platoon
      1 2” mortar
      3 infantry rifle stands

11 Platoon
     1 2” mortar
     3 infantry rifle stands

12 Platoon
     1 2” mortar
     3 infantry rifle stands

C Company

C Company HQ
     1 HQ infantry rifle stand
     3 PIAT teams (may be allocated to Platoons)

13 Platoon
      1 2” mortar
      3 infantry rifle stands

14 Platoon
     1 2” mortar
     3 infantry rifle stands

15 Platoon
     1 2” mortar
     3 infantry rifle stands

Carrier Platoon (as reinforcements enter a random turn):
On turn 4, roll 1d6: on a 1,2 enter on top road; turn 5, 1-4 is required; enter automatically on turn 6.
A full 13 carrier platoon, depending on how you want to represent it. Here I have it as
1 Carrier with 1 rifle stand
3 Carriers each with 1 rifle stand, 1 2" mortar and 1 PIAT.

MMG Platoon (as reinforcements on  random turn):
On turn 4, roll 1d6: on a 1,2 enter on top road; turn 5, 1-4 is required; enter automatically on turn 6.
2 MMGs plus 2 carriers as transport.

Battalion Support
     3 batteries of 2 3” Mortars in direct support (4+ on a d6 to call)
     1 battery of 4 4.2" Mortars potentially available (6+ on a d6 to call)

Battalion AT Guns were not available.

Armour Support:
3 Stuart V Honeys from Sherwood Rangers.

Initial artillery:
    One call of 4 4.2" Mortar pre-game bombardment.

The British are of Average/Regular quality.  Although the 7th Battalion took many casualties in the Battle for Maltot on the 10th-11th July, reinforcements from the 12 Battalion filled the gaps.

I have assumed that the Battalion 3” mortars are available for indirect support.  D Company was also conducting their own attack on the 31st,, so the mortar support is not fully guaranteed.

While it is likely that the Carrier support platoon was with the Battalion AT guns and did not move on the 30th with the infantry companies, they did move forwards on the morning of the 31st. I am assuming the Carrier Platoon will arrive during the battle.  The recon Honey tanks are documented as being in support.  The Sherwood Ranger Shermans were also in the area for the assault on Cahagnes later - I am assuming they did not participate in this battle.
4.2" Mortars and an MMG platoon were allocated to the 7th Battalion and so are also a possibility.

Random Balance.  If you wish to increase the British force slightly, roll 2d6:
  2-3
One M4 Sherman
4-6
Extra Honey Troop (3 Stuart V) enter at same time as 1st Honeys
7-8
Extra MMG platoon (2 MMGs plus two carriers)
9-12
Reserve A Company platoon (3 rifle stands + 2" mortar) arrives on turn 7


German (elements of the 751 Regiment of the 326th Infantry Division)
Mission: Defend the ridgeline and keep the road closed as long as you can.  If you last at least 10 turns you have successfully delayed the advance of the British.

Victory:
Score 5 points for having the Caumont-Cahagnes road with German units within 150m.
Score 5 points for having unbroken/unsuppressed/non-routing Germans on the table and on the ridgeline at the end of 10 turns

0 - lose
5 points - draw
10 points - win.

Kompanie HQ
    1 Rifle stand

1st Zug
   3 Rifle Stands

2st Zug
   3 Rifle Stands

3st Zug
   3 Rifle Stands

Support
   3 MMG stands (representing 6 MGs) to be allocated to the Zugs
   1 Panzerschreck stand allocated to one Zug

Battalion Support
     1 batteries of 2 81mm Mortars in direct support (4+ on a d6 to call)
     2 batteries of 2 81mm Mortars available (5+ on a d6 to call)
(can only be called by Kompanie HQ and at same target)

Average quality.  Panzerfausts can be allocated as much or as little as required but assume each stand has Panzerfaust capability.

Options
None.

To increase the balance for the German side, you may add any or all of the following 2nd Kompanie elements:

Second Kompanie HQ
    1 Rifle stand
1st Zug
   3 Rifle Stands
2st Zug
   3 Rifle Stands

The German unit designation is correct, but not much else.  From the histories, it seemed that average motivated troops were defending the ridgeline at near organisational strength.  Based on the tenacity of the defense, I have used approximately a company in defense.

Aftermath
After a hard fought battle, B an C Company cleared the ridgeline mid-afternoon and re-organised ready for a battalion assault on Cahagnes later in the day.

Notes
I did use an aerial map from 1944 to assist in creating the terrain features for the scenario so the terrain should be a close match.

Replay

Rules
I am using some company level rules I have written based on my battalion level set with a base = a section, 1 MMG base = 2 MMGs,

The problem for the British is that the Cahagnes road is very open and so an attack down the centre is fraught with danger.  To clear the road and ridgeline in time, the British cannot concentrate on only one flank;  they would run out of time to clear one flank and then attack the other.  They must attack down both flanks for a win.  Just like in 1944. For the Germans, the problem is in reverse - how to maximise the forces to cover both flanks?

British force

The British in 6mm
I did not use any extra forces.

A few months ago, I thought about buying some Honeys as I only had one in 6mm. But then, when I am ever going to use them ;-(  So I have 2 armoured cars substituting for the Honeys, but will use the stats for the tank. They may look like armoured cars, but they are really tanks.

German units

The Germans  defenders. Does not seem a lot compared to the Brits.
Deployment

German deployment was done by choosing 4 good positions (I could only really think of 4 but if I looked longer there may have been more) and randomly chose 3 of them.

Overview of German deployment
1st Zug is in the stone farm and can both slow things down, the MMG has good coverage for the centre, and it could be used as a counter-attack force if the British do attack down the flank.

View of 1st Zug.


2nd Zug is in a central location to defend the road and anything coming down the left flank.  It is in a position that it can be switched to the right flank if required.

2nd Zug


3rd Zug is in the best of a worst position where is does have some good fire lines, but cannot concentrate it fire.


The Kompanie HQ is in a good position for calling in the mortars on any unit on the left flank, and could move to the right if required.

3rd Zug and Kompanie HQ.
British orders
B Company, supported by Honeys, to advance down the right of the main road.  C Company to go down the left.  The Honeys are supporting B Company as it is more open.

The Game
Initial British 4.2" mortar bombardment of farm near C Company entry (randomly chosen).  No effect as there are no Germans there.

The British move on. Observant readers with a good memory will remember the Honeys are supposed to enter via the centre road.  I did not remember...

British entry.

Close up on C Company entry.
The German 2nd Zug (bottom centre) opens fire on B Company and one British section retreats.  The German Company HQ can actually see the same platoon but fails artillery call.

A Honey spots them, fires, and one 2nd Zug gruppe routed.  B Company's platoon fires as well and another routed. The Zug takes a morale check - rolls a 1 and routed. Oh dear - a 1/3 of the defenders gone already!  It happened so fast I took no pictures.


B company positions after entry.
Panzerfaust attack on the the left honey sees a die roll of a 1: nothing.



Elements of B Company move in on the farm.
Can I just mention that by now the German Co HQ has had 5 attempts to call in artillery on a really great target of British infantry and has failed every time...but the 6th roll was a winner!  3 retreats scored but morale check is passed by both affected platoons.

Another successful artillery call by the Germans and gone is the B Company HQ!

Artillery fall - the green markers to the rear indicate suppression for the retreating sections.
More bad rolls for the gruppe panzerfaust attack so I will assume they are out of panzerfausts. Another gruppe is in range of another Stuart, fires and it brews up on their first shot!

Now it has fired the panzerfaust, it is almost certain to be spotted so the entire Zug also fires at another British platoon and destroys a British section.

The British platoon (3 sections) storm a farm building defended by one gruppe.

First shot by another gruppe sees a Stuart brewed up.
The Brits lose! and retreat and also fail a morale check and rout.  A lone gruppe fire, rolls a 6 to rout another B Company section.  Suddenly B Company is running out of steam - they have not advanced very far and a lot of casualties.

A British platoon assault a lone gruppe in the building.  They will lose and retreat. 
Another brutal German artillery roll sees another platoon gone from B Company.   A subsequent morale check for B Company sees it routed.  This is bad. Half the attacking infantry no longer is involved in the attack.

An advancing C company platoon runs into the 3rd Zug, the latter wins the close combat.  And subsequent firing routs a section.  Only one left in the advancing platoon.

C Company platoon advancing into the 3rd Zug.  They subsequently lose the resulting melee. 
The Germans continue to fire and rout the platoon.  The Brits return fire and with brilliant dice rolling rout 2 gruppe,the Zug fails the subsequent  morale check (a '1').  This flank is now wide open except for the German Co HQ. It makes up for the fact the advance on the other flank has stalled.

Only the Kompanie HQ left on this flank (bottom left).  British elements of C Company can be see among the trees top lef.t.
Note we are at turn 5 - halfway.

The MMG platoon arrives and deploys.

British MMG Platoon in the centre.
C Company manage to surprise the German HQ before it could move (no German card drawn for ages - there are not many of them left).

C Company elements advancing on the Kompanie HQ. 
The Brits manage to get into close combat and it is routed.

Brits assault the German HQ.  The Germans rout.
German company morale checked but the other Zug is happy to continue and defend the farm on the German left flank.

The Germans manage to rout a British MMG.

Only one MMG element left.
The Carrier platoon arrives.

Carrier platoon arrives on the British left flank to provide some desperately needed infantry support.
The Germans rout the last MMG from the MMG platoon.  They also inflict one casualty on the carrier platoon.  But one gruppe of the Zug is routed in retaliation.  The farm is being very hard to clear - stone buildings and there is not enough British troops to charge in and clear them by assault..  The Honey MGs are being most ineffective.

A British platoon of 2 sections has made in to the farm on the Cahagnes road and is able to fire on the German Zug in the farm.

End game with the location of the surviving British units
Finally the last German succumbs...on turn 9!  So what I thought was going to be an easy game for the Brits, and then by about turn 3 thought they had no hope, actually turned out to be quite close.

Note that what the Brits should have done is simply continued to move along the ridgeline - they do not need to rout all Germans units, just clear the ridgeline.  Of course, routing all the German doe shave the same result.

Verdict
A fun game, and researching it was fun too.  The scenario needs more playtesting, possibly shorten the number of turns and alter the artillery support. But the decisions it threw up were quite good so I will have to come back to it when I have a few more done and collate them into a decent scenario booklet with background, maps etc. The mortars may be too powerful.  Certainly the British never got to use theirs as my rules have indirect artillery only being able to be called by the Company HQ.  And the British Co HQs never got in front enough to call - when one HQ did, it was routed!

4 comments:

  1. Holy cow, Shaun, that was a helluva fight! I thought for sure there was no way the Brits were going to take the objective; must have been a Panda around there somewhere helping you out ;)

    The table, troops, and setup were fantastic, lots of fun. Again, I can't believe how much time and effort you're putting into these scenarios (the research aspect), but I sure do appreciate it, and I'll be buy it once you're finished!

    Hope all is well.

    V/R,
    Jack

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  2. I echo Jack's comments Shaun, amazing background detail and as for the terrain wow!

    And some tell poor Jack that there's no Panda's in Normandy ;)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John. The terrain still falls way below the standard you set though!

      Jack, apparently there are no Pandas in Normandy :-)

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  3. I actually thought it would be hard for the Germans, but stone buildings prove to be difficult to dislodge troops from.

    There are a few more battles to investigate that follow from this one, and a few I need to do from when why first landed in Normandy about two weeks before this one. Then I have at least completed the July-August Normandy campaign part of the Regiments history. It is time consuming as you say, but more fun in the research than I thought it would be.

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