CoC: Villers-Bocage Campaign Encounter 4
Flank Attack (the best laid plans):
The Germans pulled back from the advancing British after losing the core of their platoon. Villers-Bocage was finally secured and turning into a stable launching platform to take Point 213. Wasting no time, the British pressured the German withdrawal moving to the flanks to try and surprise the incoming replacement force. Sergeant Hardball waved his platoon out…
A completely unexpected result from this game. This was much shorter game than the previous games, it surprised us both as we progressed through the phases. It is amazing to see how things eventuate in Chain of Command, just when you think you have the upper hand the winds of fate change…
Rolling support a 10 came up. That gave the British 17 whole points (10 rolled as the attacked plus the 7 difference between forge ratings) and the Germans 4 points (5 rolled minus the 1 from the Commanding Officer rating). As the attacker, needing to rout the enemy force, the British would hopefully be able to select a good balance between the number of support units and the effectiveness of controlling them. As usual, we kept our support choices secret beforehand.
As the British player, I decided I would try and assign some armour to each section to make them more independent, able to back each other up and surround the Germans, hoping to pressure multiple Jump Off Points. With that in mind I selected an M4 Sherman, an M5 Stuart (played on the night by my Tetrach), a Universal Carrier (UC) with Bren Gun, a second 2″ mortar and an Adjutant to allow my Sergeant to arrive early and help manoeuvre the platoon
As the German player Alex was attempting to duplicate the success of the flamethrower team, selecting one team. A minefield was also selected, blocking a primary, easy route of access to the German jump off points.
Alex’s game plan was to secure stay in cover, with a central set of jump off points, making them easier to defend and further for me to travel to capture them.
My plan was to pair off a section with a tank, surround the German force and apply pressure from multiple directions.
We both rolled well for Force Morale. The Germans with a 10, rolling up 9 plus 1 due to their elite status. The British rolled up a 9, losing 1 for the status penalty due to the men’s outlook, for a total of 8.
(and I forgot to add the Elite bonus correctly again, old habits die hard. Turns out it would have made no difference.)
This British placed two lots of 3 patrol markers and rolled up 3 free moves. The British would have first phase based on the mission, as attacker.
As per the mission, Alex decided to remove the orchard (lower center of the below picture) blocking some fire lanes and a section of bocage. I decided to replace the bocage as I wanted to use it as a firing position.
A rapid game, which saw a large swing in momentum. Whilst not as tense as the previous encounter, we really saw friction that CoC utilises to full effect. They say a plan of attack never survives contact with the enemy, well, see what happened below…
On the front foot, the British force really were rapidly advancing with a great deal of momentum. While the jump off points (JOP) weren’t ideal, they were in good enough positions allowing me to execute my plan. Three entire phases in a row the British had. This allowed them to surround and set up excellent fire points on the Germans holed up in the cottage.
Deploying Two Section in the bocage line, Corporal Jacobs set both teams on overwatch, overlooking the cottage and surrounding fields.
Three Section along with Sergeant Hardball deployed behind the hedges to the north. The Sherman was brought up to support, its main gun set to overwatch on the cottage.
One Section and Corporal Redfern flanked the German positions, arriving from the east behind a line of thick bocage, using it as cover he started to move south, to avoid the wide open fields on his approach.
The Universal Carrier was called up to support Corporal Redfern and One Section by securing the southern road, and overwatching the fields to the North West.
After learning their lessons last encounter, the Germans were very wary of showing themselves. They kept low and out of sight, passing on initiative back to British multiple times. The British, feeling bold, used this to their advantage and slowly made their way closer to the German JOP’s.
Leutnant Zuern though was a canny commander, he knew full well that what the British couldn’t see, they couldn’t shoot. He also knew they could not sit and wait. For the British, time was of the essence. He would use this urgency to bait his trap.
One Section started to reach the end of the bocage, and their cover, they would need smoke to protect their dash across the open ground. Both mortar teams were called up, and after a couple of inaccurate mortar placements, the smoke began to fall, shielding One Section, giving them the space they needed to break from the bocage. To provide distraction for One Section, the Universal Carrier, sped down the lane hoping to draw out some German defenders who would need to react or risk losing a JOP.
Lt Zuern, just shook his head, had the British not learned anything. Ordering the flamethrower team to deploy using the cover of the bocage, they positioned themselves well and doused the UC in flames. The crew, not wanting any part of that, bailed out and fled the battle. To reinforce the team, Zuern also deployed a squad to back up the engineers. A second squad was deployed to the East in the trees to cover any further movement along that front.
One Section, not being able to see what was going on due to the smoke decided to make a dash South for the road the UC was travelling on. Breaking cover and racing for the road, Redfern saw the still smoking and vacant UC. As he turned to look, it was then he saw the flashes from the MG42’s firing from overwatch in the bocage towards his section. He had walked straight into a trap. His heart sunk. The first hit to the British force morale had landed. With his squad pinned down, his men wounded or worse and having taken a bullet, Redfern called up the M5 for support of their JOP, before falling back from the front lines.
Hearing bursts of machine gun firing and realising the Germans had engaged One Section, Sergeant Hardball decided now was the time to make a break for the German JOP’s on the north and western flanks. Jumping the hedge in front of him, he didn’t notice the nearby gate in his haste, Three Section was left in the open fields between hedges.
Sergeant Hardball called on both the Sherman and the Stuart to open fire at the shadowy figures in the bocage in an attempt to buy himself and the section time to cover more ground. The fire was generally ineffective and Three Section was caught in a bad place.
Lt Zuern looked surprised at this rush and simply shock his head. Calmly, he turned to his last squad leader and told them to deploy behind the bocage, out of sight of the Sherman’s gun and suppress the British force across the fields.
With multiple phases of devastating fire, Three Section was cut down. Wounded, with failing morale, Sergeant Redfern ordered the general retreat. The British had seen enough for one day.
As he crawled back out of sight, he realised now they hadn’t been quick enough. They weren’t able to extinguish this threat before the replacements arrived. The replacements were already there…
Another excellent game and kudos to Alex who learned well from his previous game. I rushed my advance, which became uneven and then piecemeal. This allowed Alex to focus on one area at a time and repel one part of my force at a time. Very well done and supported excellently by the elite troops of Panzer Lehr.
Campaign Wrap Up
This time the British took a beating. They moved to far, too fast and outpaced their support becoming scattered and ineffective. The German force took full advantage of this.
The game lasted about 15 phases, all in the single turn.
The British reversed their fortunes and execution from the previous encounter. A complete failure there were 9 casualties (4 dead, 3 injured and missing next game, and 2 returning to active duty next encounter). Redfern could no longer field an effective force, replacements were requested. 14 new men would be available and integrated into the platoon for the next encounter.
British HQ were not happy, the rating dropping by 1, down to a total of 1 (no additional effect). The men are shaking their head, they have seen this before, maybe the last encounter was just an anomaly. Their rating was reduced by 1 again to a total of -5 (a loss of one Force Morale).
Sergeant Hardball is still secure in his position, with no change to the Platoon Leaders outlook.
The zug has been rebuilt, and its metal tested in the forge of battle. Lt Zuern is indeed pleased, his replacements proven themselves. 1 casualty was inflicted to the zug however this man was recovered after the fighting and will be available next mission (due to the manner of the German victory).
Unfortunately Obergefreiter Renschler was not able to escape. He has been transported far away from the front lines. A permanent replacement is now being looked into
HQ is much happier. CO rating has gone up 1, to an overall -2. Full support has now been returned to Zuern.
The troops are also happy, relieved at such a casualty free victory. The mens opinion has increased by 2, moving from 0, to 2.
After this victory, Zuern is now quite Cheerful, believing he has the British well on the run. It is now his turn to attack.