Blood Soaked Fields:
Chain of Command: Villers-Bocage Campaign
Mission 1: Patrol
The British Force is on the move from Trungy to Livry in a quick move to secure Villers-Bocage. En route to Livry, a British patrol encountered a German Recon force. A short but bloody battle ensued.
After on a couple of warm up games of Chain of Command, Alex an I decided to jump straight in a start on a campaign centered around infantry action/ support at Villers-Bocage. Details can be found on the campaign page.
We were happy we knew the rules but had little experience with our armies. Alex’s German force was an Elite Panzergrenadier Platoon to reflect their origin from Panzer Lehr. I was playing a Regular British Rifle platoon as befits a platoon from the 1/7th Queens Royal Regiment.
With a support rating of +7 to 0, I knew I would receive at least 8 levels of Support, a start of game Support roll of 1 game me just that. Knowing Support List One would likely give no tanks, I opted to spend my 8 support levels on a Universal Carrier with a Bren gun, a Sniper and a second Mortar team. Alex selected an Adjutant so he could bring on Leutnant Zuern without hindering his ability to call up his reserves.
Good fortune saw the German Platoon start with Force Morale 11, confident in their ability. The British a little more cautious, starting with Force moral 8. This game Alex the initiative when it came to moving Patrol Markers, deploying Jump Off points and having the first Phase of Turn 1.
The game was a war of attrition of the worst sorts. The battle was bloody and drawn out, neither side wanting to leave the field of battle. The British knew they needed victory to clear the way to Livry and keep pushing inland. The Germans were determined to hold the British here at all costs.
After an early exchange where the Universal Carrier screamed up a laneway, pinning the Panzerschreck team, only to be surprised by Panzerfaust and blown to smithereens, the combat lulled briefly. In the end, after much ebb and flow, it was close and bloody bayonet work, and assaults, that changed the course of the game. The ceaseless fire of the mg42 teams decimated the British and forced them to keep their heads down allowing the German teams to move under that cover. Obergefreiter Wolfram Kohlhaas’ squad charged the rifle teams of Corporal Waldirk and Corporal Echs, slaughtering one team and routing the other, only to be left in the cross fire on two Bren gun teams and in turn, themselves, routed.
Obergefreiter Lucht’s squad started where Kohlhaas’ squad ended and assaulted the routed British rifle team through the forest, moving on to try and capture the field where the British jump of points were. Only the heroic last stand of Leutnant Eckhard Zuern and Corporal Henry Waldirk saw off the assault, though it cost them their lives. This blunted assault took the wind out of the German sails, and having had their fill of death for the day, retread from the field of battle leaving the British victorious.
Victorious they may have been, but at what cost?
Tight game, the end Force Morales were British 4, German 5.
The game lasted about for 1 Turn of about 20 phases.
The twin MG42 teams of the Elite German Panzergrenadier platoons can be devastating! Along with the elite status of the force means they can both dish out and take punishment. So very hard to shift. In hindsight, my support selections were poor. I think i may have been better with a Forward Observer and off field mortar barrage. I went with a sniper instead and he was not too successful. The dual mortar teams deploying smoke was a force saver, they were unerringly accurate and before long had the majority of the British force under cover.
Now the campaign wrap up. This was a blood bath. On to Livry!
The British force suffered 24 casualties, this included the platoon Lieutenant, Uriah Falgard and Squad One’s Corporal, Henry Waldirk. Requests for replacement leaders were denied leaving Snr Sergeant Keith Hardball in charge of the Platoon and a team member from Squad One promoted to leader.
Of the casualties, 12 men are dead, 6 injured enough to miss the next battle, and another 6 well enough to return to duty next battle.
While HQ thought a good job was done in achieving the victory (+2 rating), the men are very concerned at the cost of the victory (-3 rating, giving -1 Force Morale for future battles).
The German force suffered little better with 22 casualties. 11 dying in the battle, 6 injured enough to miss the next mission and 5 returning to active duty. Worse though, both Obergefreiter Harro Lucht and Obergefreiter Nikolaus Eggers were killed in battle. Both simple farmers wanting nothing more than to survive the war. Maybe Leutnant Zuern was correct for chasing glory.
Both the German HQ and the men in the platoon were unimpressed. HQ is angry that the Germans yielded ground (-2 rating) and the men concerned they were forced to hold out so long when it became obvious that a stalemate was the best they could hope for (-3 rating giving -1 Force Morale next battle).
We are both going away now having learned an awful lot about our forces, both shocked at the casualty rate and what this means for the next mission.