Holding the Scottish Corridor open by the skin of their teeth, the men of the 15th Scottish Infantry Division had managed to wrest the initiative from the Germans. As light fell at the end of the day’s fighting they were launching a localised counter-attack to clear the enemy from the outskirts of Colleville.

The Forces

British forces would be bringing a healthy 16pts of support to this attack, and opted for:

  • Sherman 75mm
  • Sherman 17pdr
  • Pre-game barrage

German support was similar, 14pts:

  • Pak-40 AT gun
  • Extra squad
  • Flamethrower
  • Adjutant

Campaign Progress

This is the last turn of the campaign, and after upsetting the German’s plans in the last game they’ve got one last chance to push the attackers back.

The campaign victory conditions state that if the British hold one map at the end of the campaign the result is a draw, and if they hold two it’s a British win. So the jocks are playing to snatch a cheeky victory from the jaws of, well, not quite defeat but maybe mediocrity?

The Ground

This is a very open piece of ground. The road running across the board represents a critical supply line to the British armoured units advancing in the south. The British hold the other half of the village of Colleville to the east, if they can clear this supply route the Scottish Corridor will be well and truly open.

The last time this ground was fought over the Germans advanced through the orchard and easily swept aside the entrenched British defenders. The British are now seeking to re-establish that line.

Deployment

Predictably, both sides were keen on getting access to the orchards to deploy their infantry. The British rolled low for free moves though, and the German patrol markers won the race, leaving the British JOPs on the table edges.

 

The Germans positioned their JOPs on the far side of the orchard and one covering the main road.

The Plan

All that open ground is pretty tempting to a tanker, and so the British threw most of their resources behind a pair of Sherman tanks, one 75mm and one packing a 17pdr gun. With those two the intention was to destroy any German armour on the table, then flank the orchard and if necessary shoot the infantry in as they moved to clear it.

The Germans actually resisted the temptation to bring up armour, and instead doubled-down on infantry close combat supports, hoping to win the decisive fight in the orchard. With a JOP near the main road the Pak-40 could hold any British armour at bay while the infantry did the dirty work.

The Game

The first British troops formed up on their start line, the hedge at the far eastern end of the table. With no German defenders visible they watched and waited as their supporting armour rattled up the road behind them.

Motoring onto the table the first Sherman tank immediately drew a response from the Germans; a hidden Pak-40 down the road send a high-velocity AP round slamming into the front of the tank on the first round. The shot killed the tank’s gunner, and his comrades didn’t hang around for more, the driver slamming his foot down and powering the smoking Sherman towards the orchard and just out of the line of fire of the Pak-40.

The Sherman rumbled to a halt and the crew began pulling their unlucky gunner out of his seat so he could be replaced. Meanwhile, the infantry began pepperpotting forwards out of the hedgeline and closing up on the injured tank.

As the infantry reached the tank the commander popped his head out of the hatch and gave them a thumbs up, and the troops and vehicle moved cautiously towards the orchard.

 

And right they were to be cautious too, because a squad of Germans were right that minute moving forwards to meet them in the orchard. If the Germans could catch the British in the open before they reached the orchard they could cut them to ribbons.

The Jocks though were advancing tactically in short rushes, so when the first burst of German MG fire ripped into them the effect was limited. The range was close as the German MGs set up in the edge of the orchard, with the British  in the open just beyond. The British 2″ mortar helped out by throwing some smoke at the Germans. The shot missed but managed to land usefully on top of the advancing British, so it was good enough. Taking cover behind the Sherman and the smoke the Jocks kept their heads down while their mates lining the hedge poured fire at the Germans.

Meanwhile the Sherman crew had been busy scooping what was left of their gunner out of his seat and replacing him, so had been unable to give a lot of help to the infantry. Now was the time for the Germans to play their trump card. Calling up the flamethrower they shot flaming napalm all over the British squad and predictably the British decided to run away. They had to drag their unconscious CO with them, as he’d been knocked out in the fighting, and the sum of that and the broken section dropped their force morale to 6.

With their protective infantry seen off the Germans now had the little matter of a Sherman tank to deal with. The monster was lurking in a pall of white smoke, and had begun to fire into their position at point-blank range. It was just the kind of situation that panzerfausts were invented for!

Clutching their tank killer, a German team bravely dashed out from the treeline to get a flank shot onto the tank. With bullets flying all around they fired the panzerfaust right into the flank of the Sherman, and were rewarded with a satisfying blast of smoke and flames out of the hatches! 

Dismayed at the loss of both their lead section and its supporting tank the British back in the hedge line threw everything they had at the panzerfaust team and managed to cut down two of the four men, but the remaining two held their ground. British morale was now down on 4, costing them a command dice, while the Germans were still sitting pretty on nine.

Meanwhile the broken British section in the open was still taking fire from the Germans in the orchard, and were being whittled down. With only a couple of privates left shielding the platoon CO and the JL things were looking bad. The victory conditions meant that the Jocks had to keep their morale above 3, so they only had one more point of morale to play with. It wasn’t to be their day though, as the last of the men in the open were wiped out, and their JL was hit simultaneously, chopping British morale down to one and ending their hopes of ending the campaign on a win.

The Butcher’s Bill

Arithmetic for the German side was simple: their whopping 8pt morale buffer meant the 6 figures taken off the table during the game were reduced to zero casualties.

Not so for the British, they’d got absolutely pounded. Losses were 8 dead, 5 wounded.

Overall for the campaign the British side lost 54 dead or seriously wounded, with another 8 men POWs. The Germans lost 39 dead and 5 POW.

Campaign post-match

Man of the match has to go to the German panzerknacker team who knocked out the Sherman. Their incredibly gutsy run into open ground to get a clear shot on the tank was a serious blow to British morale, and they even survived the inevitable return fire.

That was a suitably heroic note to end the campaign on. This game was turn 12 of the campaign and with that 28th June 1944 draws to a close. Since they started their attack at 0700 that morning the two kampfgruppes have managed to capture Mouen in the east and Mondrainville in the west, squeezing the corridor down to a tiny strip of land in Colleville.

Infuriatingly though for the Germans the hardy 15th Scottish have clung on and the two Germans forces were not able to link up. However, the Jocks hold on the ground is tenuous, and it seems unlikely that supplies would be able to flow safely through the corridor to the forces fighting in the south.

So the result of 11 games of heavy fighting is inconclusive. The Germans have not pinched off the Scottish Corridor, but they have squeezed it down to the point of near-uselessness. The flow of supplies has been interrupted, but it’s likely that the British will be able to reinforce their position overnight and the Germans have well and truly lost the initiative.

Lessons Learned

  • The terrain on this table definitely favours the German fighting style. The only cover available forces both sides into a head-to-head battle, with little possibility of flanking or the British concentrating fire onto a German squad. Both times we’ve played on it the better-armed panzergrenadiers simply steamrolled the British facing them
  • The Sherman got too close to the Germans, allowing them to knock it out with a panzerfaust to the flank. After the Sherman ran away from the Pak-40 it shouldn’t have moved up so close to the edge of the orchard
  • Once again flamethrowers proved decisive. Committing them to a firefight pretty much guarantees the enemy squad will break and rout, and the force morale impact of that is generally enough to decide the battle. There doesn’t really seem to be an effective counter to that, besides staying more than 24″ away from enemy JOPs.