The Bridge at Conteville
We decided to get together for a little post-Thanksgiving Flames of War and since Scott had just finished up his US Paratroopers, decided to play the Seize and Hold scenario from the D-1 book. This generic scenario is designed to represent the confused situation the paratroopers found themselves in on the morning of D-Day.
Scott and I each put together a company for the game. To oppose Scott’s paras, I chose to put together a grenadier company from the 91st Infantry Division, which was stationed in the interior of Normandy and was involved in a number of conflicts with the US paratroopers on D-Day. This division was not a veteran unit and in FOW was rated as Confident Trained compared to the usual German rating of Confident Veteran. In a points based game such as the one we were doing, the lower rating translated to more troops available. Against the Fearless Veteran paras the grenadiers would stand little chance in close assaults, but hopefully I’d have enough firepower to keep them at arms length. My force included three platoons of grendiers, one platoon of four HMGs, one platoon of two HMGs, some 12cm mortars, a couple of 7.5cm infantry guns, a pioneer platoon, a couple of 2cm SPAA, a platoon of StuGs and a small platoon of Panzer IVH.
Since bridges were prominent objectives for the paratroopers on D-Day, we decided to make a bridge the focus of the game and used our pretty extensive collection of buildings to create a sizable village surrounded by hedge-lined fields. One objective was placed on the bridge and another at a crossroads SE of town. Ken joined me playing the Germans and we placed the three grenadier platoons in town with the larger HMG platoon attached to two of the grenadier platoons. The small HMG platoon was kept together and placed in town covering a large field. Finally, the three-tank panzer platoon was lagered for the night in the center of town. Scott placed the pathfinder on the east table edge closest to the objective. All three of the starting para platoons came onto the table at this end of the table.
The paras began working toward the town, using the fields and woods, along with the cover of night, to advance into position to make an assault. The Germans roused fairly quickly and began readying for the American attack. The para reserves started to arrive early, with the pack howitzer arriving in the SW corner and the engineers arriving in the NE corner. The first German reserve to arrive was the pioneer platoon, which showed up in the SE corner right behind a para platoon advancing through the fields. The pioneers advanced and killed on team with rifle fire and two more in an assault before the bulk of the parachute platoon turned around and wiped out the platoon in a flurry of grenades. The paras advancing toward the objective through the woods were cowed by the movement of the three Panzer IVH’s across the river to cover the objective.
With the tanks sitting in the middle of town, the paras advanced on the flanks of town hoping to get behind the bulk of the German defensive arrangement. In the south, Scott moved into position and launched an assault against a couple of buildings defended only by a couple of grenadier teams. Unfortunately for the paras, a few teams remained within LOS of one of the attached HMGs and the added dice of defensive fire from the HMG pummeled the American attack, killing three teams and stopping the assault cold. Since that platoon had taken some casualties in the abortive pioneer assault, it was now fairly well gutted.
With one platoon gutted and the other stymied by the tanks, the main para effort shifted across the river. The grenadier platoon guarding the NE quadrant of town had no attached HMGs, so was greatly reduced in terms of firepower. The grenadiers stationed in the NW corner of town were displacing back toward the fight, but were not quite in position yet. Brett moved his platoon of paratroopers up into position and assisted by mortar fire, pinned down the grenadiers and attacked. The defensive fire killed a team or two but could not stop the assault. The veteran paras stormed the buildings… and whiffed completely, rolling 1’s or 2’s on all of their skill tests (needing 3+). Taking no casualties, the grenadiers were able to withdraw in good order to the next row of buildings. Brett attempted to conduct a breakthrough assault into the second grenadier platoon, but the platoon was unpinned and was able to stop the attack.
In the SW corner the German assault gun platoon rolled into the corner and crushed the pack howitzers. Back in the center of of town the paras made one last try to cross the street, but were once again thrown back by heavy defensive fire from the grenadiers. Soon after the Panzers rolled back across the bridge to secure objective. The paras decided then to fall back and await the arrival of support from the beach.
This was the first time I’d played the Seize and Hold mission, which is definitely a better “airborne” scenario than the previous one BF had published. With the first few turns in darkness and reserves arriving scattered all around the table, it is definitely a different feel than the usual stand up fight. Although I had not played this specific scenario, it was still a rather straight forward all-around defense for the Germans, so that definitely gave us an advantage over Scott and Brett, who were not only dealing with unfamiliar battle conditions, but a new and unfamiliar company. We had some pretty good die rolls throughout the game and the Allies had some bad ones, especially Brett, who had a couple of spates of critical bad rolls in his forst FOW game ever. Despite the one sided result, everyone had a good time and it was an interesting and attractive game all around.