Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Flames of War: A battle report with a difference

Our good friends at the Causeway Giants Gaming Group play a lot of Flames of War.  And as with anyone the After Action Reports (AAR) are always a source of fun and reflection on how well troops or tactics work.

The Causeway Giants did an AAR with a real difference.  I read it and re-read it. And I loved it.  This is how I would like to see more AARs done, not all the time, but definitely more.  Sit back with a cup of Brown Joy, put your feet up, read and enjoy.

What you are about to read is a battle report with a difference, fought between 2000pts of SS-Gepanzerte Panzer Grenadiers and a 2nd US Armoured Div Tank Company.  

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Hans Goering. I am a private in Colonel Owens’ S.S. Battalion. Our army has been decimated after the Allies stormed the beaches, and our division has been forced to withdraw, with my own company heading to the small farming village of Saint Jean de la Croix. We have attackers on both sides – East and West, and Colonel Owens has been given orders to retrieve important documents for the Führer. It’s to be transported here – on what we call a suicide of a rendezvous – by Panzer. And this may very well be the final account of the final day of my life.

We heard, by wireless, that the Panzer had run in to an A/T mine left here after the Victory over the French in 1940, and had become stranded just outside a farm a mile from the town. As a precautionary measure Col. Owens dispatched a jeep full of infantry to retrieve the papers which itself run into trouble at the farm. I was on lookout, along with Karl Raust, a fellow private, up in the clock-tower at the factory a few thousand yards over-looking the farm and the town.  It was sometime in the late afternoon, my watch had been broken for days by this point – when I saw an enemy scouting party, consisting of a few bazooka teams and riflemen.

We called in the spot, just as a roar of Sherman’s appeared, both east and west of our position. That sound will be implanted in my memory for these few short hours I have left. Pr. Raust radioed in to inform the dug-in infantry of the impending doom. We look on as our Company hastily follows their instructions. I should tell you that our unit consists of: A company command, including a second-in-command with two Panzerfausts and two Panzerschreks. The combat platoons were two Gepanzerte Panzer grenadier platoons with two Panzerschreks and a further Panzer grenadier heavy mg platoon. Weapon platoons were three PAK40 A/T guns, two SIG33s, heavy infantry guns and Company support platoons consisted of four STUG G assault guns, two FLAK 88’s and three 3.7cm FLAK 43s. From what I could see through my binoculars, our attackers consisted of two M4A1 Shermans, four M4 Shermans led by none other than Sergeant Lafayette-Pool himself! in an M4A1 76mm tank. To the East were, five M4A1 Stuarts and three M57mm A/T guns and three bazooka teams. One HM6 platoon carries a further three bazooka teams. Finally, six Priests and four armored AAM6s.

All I could do was gasp, as I watched Pool’s Shermans appear to the West of our position, he signalled more Shermans in support to the North-East. It wasn’t long before they started bearing down on the farm. They had us out-flanked and out-gunned. I hear the terrifying pitch of low flying Ally air-support coming in on strafing runs on the small farm.  They mustn't know of the Intel.

Our hearts catch in our throats as our heavy A/A units scare off the bombers. It’s the Allies that nab first-blood as Pool’s Shermans open a barrage of twenty shells; nine find their target – more than enough to destroy our decoy Panzer platoon at a farm situated to the south of De la Croix. Pool ordered a second wave of p47s over the farm, but our A/A gunners are on-form enough to shoot down one of the two planes and the other is forced to miss-fire and route. Lafayette turns his attentions to the farm and calls in a Sherman attack on the large farm-house, three shells see that the farm-house becomes a tomb for the unfortunate infantry dug in there.  It’s our turn this time as Owens orders a counter-attack and sends the A/T units and Schreks to take out the Shermans. As the dust clears we see that we’ve only managed to destroy one of the four half-tracks escorting the tanks. Back over to the east, Owens calls in a bunker-buster at the encroaching Stuarts, anything to stop the enemy from bottling us in. All we hit were a 37mm unit. It’s hot and a bright midday sun must've blinded the shooters.

The sky rumbled as one of our PAK 40s fire upon Pool’s Sherman escort, taking out one of his tanks, but leaving him unscathed. With a quick victory in mind, Pool called in a third run of p47s but, yet again, our A/A Units fearlessly see to it that the Ally bombers all missed their target.

Our enemy rallied his troops in to position and we saw a Sherman platoon descend on the farm whilst a second moved on to the South-Eastern road to the village. Shots from the latter rain down on our SIGs and 37s - with the 37s getting destroyed. As a reply, we see Pool’s Stuarts making short-work of routing riflemen.

Karl pats me on the shoulder and directs my attention to the  farm and surrounding buildings, now all a pile of rubble, we can see the stranded jeep and dead infantry. Sergeant Pool has reached the southern side of the village and he begins clearing the buildings with his tank. It’s a massacre, my brothers had no chance. Karl and I are left with a choice; he ran from his post only to catch a stray bullet as he ran to pick up the documents.

I remained, transfixed at the horror, as the realization of defeat descends in my mind. I look back at the town and slump, all I could do was watch as Pool practically reduced this once peaceful village to ashes. Our 37s posted at the north of De la Croix see that Pool has run into a bottleneck and open fire. The pressure of defeat caused our boys to miss their target. In a desperate last-ditched move, Owens orders the PAK40s to open-fire on the Stuarts securing the North of the village. It’s no use. I left my post and now, here I sit, in this abandoned factory, trapped, all sides surrounded and Pool himself is clearing the rout to the farm. It’s only a matter of time before I’m found.

I can only hope this letter reaches someone and the true story can be told. This was a massacre, a suicide. Why didn’t we get support from the main army? They’re at the door. Tell my family I lo[redacted, document was retrieved during a routine sweep of a factory at designation point Echo]
Steve Hopkins and James Owens play with little toy WWII soldiers and tanks along with their comrades in the Causeway Giants Gaming club - Website | Facebook Group | Facebook Page.  They are currently obsessed with Flames of War.  Just in case you hadn't noticed.

Wee Ivor

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