Battle for Carraceto – FOW
I met up with Damian and Tom over the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend for a Flames of War game at the local Hobbytown. Tom is from Louisville, KY, but has family in the area and we had discussed getting together for a game when he was in town and finally made it happen. I wanted to play a scenario game rather than one of the stock missions from the rules, so wrote up a scenario to suit the forces available to Tom and Damian. I ended up with a scaled down version of the German counterattacks on the Campoleone salient on the north edge of the the Anzio perimeter in February, 1944.
As I often do for these sorts of scenarios, I used maps of the battle area to set-up the table, scaling everything down to a company sized fight. This is a good way to get the “feel” for a battle but still playing with the company sized forces of Flames of War. In this case many of the key terrain features of the battle were incorporated such as the wadis , the Buon Riposa ridge, and the railway embankment. I also incorporated the other key element of the terrain into the scenario – mud. All off road terrain was difficult, forcing the vehicles onto the road net and channeling them into certain areas.
Tom had a British Rifle Company and with just three of us playing, his force was 2000 points, which definitely stretched his collection and resulted in a company with a lot of support. This hurt him in some ways, but helped in others. Damian played his newly finished Fallschirmjaegers and I played a Grenadier company. Damian and I both used StuG IIIG platoons, which was a very appropriate choice historically. Damian also had some Marders. Each side had plenty of artillery and that artillery was to play a prominent role in the battle.
The British were occupying a salient through the middle of the table. They had 2 objectives far forward and 4 located deeper in their territory. Tom deployed one British rifle platoon forward among the low stone walls and the other further back anchored on the embankment and the Buon Riposa Ridge. He also protected this flank with wire and some mines. He also deployed a full battery of 25 pounders behind the embankment to provide fire support and some covering fire for a couple of objectives. A battery of 6 pounders was in ambush.
The Germans chose to make their attack across a broad front, hoping to keep pressure on all points of the line and to prevent our troops from being bunched up any more than necessary in the face of the 25 pounders and off-table naval fire support. Damian’s paras attacked on the German left through the fields with the stone walls, while my Grenadiers advanced up the embankment on the right and through the center, where British forces appeared weak.
The game opened with a German division artillery shoot, which we concentrated in a fairly narrow front and managed to blast a hole in the British line. Damian’s Fallschirmjagers and SP guns advanced and took out a couple more stands of British followed by an assault. The British fought with their usual tenacity, but were wiped out. The StuGs attempted to exploit the gap, but the 6-pounder ambush slowed them, killing one. A full turn of fire from all available German artillery (one full nebelwerfer battery and one full artillery battery) wiped out the guns, but the German advance was delayed while the fire was called in.
On the right flanks the Germans were advancing along the embankment with grenadiers to one side and an attached Fallschirmjaeger platoon to the other. The StuGs advanced up the embankment (which was raised and free of mud) providing fire support. Several stands of British riflemen were killed, but artillery fire from the ships off table (directed by an orbiting observer plane) was taking a toll. The constant pinning effect of the artillery was definitely slowing the advance as well. A StuG was lost to the 8″ guns of the cruisers, but were able to grind the wire out of the way and clear a path for the infantry, which assaulted through and destroyed the remaining British riflemen on that flank. The grenadiers and Fallschirmjaegers continued through and began assaulting guns of one of the 25 pounder troops, eventually destroying the troop. With the British center no longer covered by direct fire, additional grenadier platoons hustled forward toward the crossroads.
Tom’s lines were crumbling, but reserves were on the way to the scene. A troop of Churchills was first on the scene and began dueling with the StuGs on the right. Neither side had a clear advantage, as the StuG’s better gun was offset by the Churchill’s heavier armor. Both sides fired shot after shot without telling effect and each side added insult to injury with artillery. While the heavies kept the German armor busy, reconnaissance elements came streaming in behind them. The armored cars and universal carriers were no match for enemy tanks, but with the German assault guns destroyed or tied up fighting the Churchills, the light vehicles were able to get in among Damian’s paras and inflict severe casualties. An entire platoon was caught moving across open ground and were slaughtered by the massed MG’s of the recon troops. One troop of univeral carriers got a little caught up in their own success and in trying to recapture one of the forward objectives became bailed and bogged right in front of the remnants of the first para platoon. A successful motivation test later and the carriers were history. A platoon of Vickers Machine Guns arrived and drove the Fallschirmjaegers on the German right into the wadis and prevented any further advance.
The Germans reached their high water mark shortly thereafter when a platoon of grenadiers occupied the building at the main cross roads . The Churchills finally came out on top of the duel with the StuGs, destroying one and forcing a failed platoon morale test. With no more AT assets, the Germans were no longer able to advance in the face of the remaining British light armor. Our game time was up and the British had secured a costly victory. They were still holding 3 objectives and contesting 1, but had losses of approximately 50%. We played around 8 turns I believe and everyone had a good time. The table looked great and we got a lot of comments from passers by as well as the 40K guys sharing the room with us (who were playing on their typical tables – a flat expanse broken by a few randomly placed ruined buildings and the occasional hill). I hope to be able to round up some gamers for a similar scenario style game every month or so
Thanks to Tom for the pictures.