This is an after action report by Richmond's own Ron Bingham.
FoWarriors from Richmond and the Battle Barn area met on WED night to play-test a new France 1940 scenario I designed to GM at Historicon. Steve and Sean of the “What Patton Would Do “joined arms with Rob, Malcolm and Dav of the Battle Barn to fight a modified 1750pt “No Retreat” scenario I’ve named “The Queens Cauldron”
Queens Cauldron, France, 13 May 1940
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On the morning of 13 May, 1940 Panzer Schutzen along with supporting armor from the 4th Panzer Division attacked near the village of Merdrop and Queen Maria Theresa, 17th century, château. Defending the château and village were elements of 12th Fusiliers and 2nd Cuirasse.
The Battlefield near the "Queens Chateau" and the village of Merdrop, France, May 13,1940
German: After a day of minor skirmishing between reconnaissance troops and a Stuka attacks on the enemy your Panzer-Schutzen Company with Divisional Support is ordered to attack and secure the Château near the village of Merdrop.
French commander watches the Germans in secret discussion
French: After 3 days of retreat through Belgium and the French frontier the 12th Fusilier Regiment has been ordered to hold the village of Merdrop. Your Escadron de Fusiliers Portes are ordered to march up and support Reconnaissance forces defending the Queens Château against the “Bosche” and to halt their advance into France.
Germans: May select to start the battle as a dawn attack. If dawn attack t is chosen start rolling for day light on turn 2. Germans will announce the decision on dawn attack after combat deployments are made and before independent teams are placed.
French: One half of your command is deployed and the other half is held in reserve. The three Reconnaissance Platoons must be deployed on the board. One of the deployed platoons may be placed in ambush. 75mm Artillery may be deployed but may not be placed in ambush!
French troops may occupy the whole Chateau even if the building crosses the deployment zone!
The S-35 tank platoon and the two larger of the three Infantry platoons must be held in reserve. Reserve platoons order of march (order of arrival) must be written down before the battle begins.
Fields: Are a Bog Check 1; High Winter Wheat fields (yellow) offer concealment and are treated as woods for visibly for the following only: Inf, Man-Pack & Lt Guns
Lt Woods (Light brown base): Are a Bog Check 1
Hvy Woods: (Dark brown base) Are a Bog Check 2
Orchards: Offer concealment but targets may be seen and shot all the way in and through.
Shell Holes: Rough terrain and a Skill Test to cross
Hedges: Offer concealment and may be see across
Dismounted PzScutzen in wheat field
Order of Battle:
German: 1735pt 4PzD Panzer Schutzen Co, 7 Platoons
PzSch HQ: HQ, 2iC SMG, 1ea SdKfz 251, 1ea M/C, 1ea SdKfz 251 HMG carrier
2ea PzSch Plt’s: HQ SMG, LT Mtr, ATR, 6ea MG tm, 2ea SdKfz 251
Mtr Plt: HQ SMG, OBV, 4ea 8cm Mtr, 5ea Kfz 17
Inf Gun: HQ SMG, OBV, 2ea 75cm, 3ea Kfz 17
AT Plt: HQ SMG, 2ea PaK 36, 2ea Kfz 17
Pz Plt: 4ea PzIII E
Hvy Recon: 2ea SdKfz 231 (8 Rad)
French: 1730pt 12th Fusilier Regiment, 11Platoons
HQ: HQ & 2iC Rif Tm’s, 60mm Mtr, M/C, 2ea Trucks, 1ea M/C
2ea Inf Plt: HQ MG Tm, 6ea MG Tm, VB tm, 6ea trucks
1ea Inf Plt: HQ MG Tm, 4ea MG Tm, VB tm, 4ea trucks
HMG: HQ Rif Tm, 4ea HMG, 4 ea trucks
Mtr: HQ Rif Tm, Obv, 4ea 81mm Mtr, 5 ea trucks
Recon: 3ea Pan-Schnider P-16
Recon M/C: HQ MG Tm, 4ea MG Tm, VB Tm, 6ea Motor Cycles
Recon: 5ea Panhard AMD 35
AT : HQ Rif Tm, 2ea 25mm AT, 2ea trucks
AA : HQ Rif Tm, 2ea 25mm AA, 2ea trucks
Ar : 3ea Souma S-35
Art : HQ Rif Tm, Staff Tm, Obv, 4ea 75mm, 5 ea trucks. 1ea M/C
OBJ Deployment: The French placed their OBJ just outside the Servants Qtrs. The Germans placed their OBJ between the Orchard and the Château.
The battlefield with deployment zones and OBJ's
The French set up first selecting the 75mm Art and HMG to join the Recon platoons. The P-16 AFVs set up in the woods to the left of the Chateau. The 75s and Recon M/C set up in the woods and orchards behind and to the right of the palace. The HMG set up in and around the servant’s qtrs. The 75mm Obvs was the only team placed in the Chateau while the MTR Obv joined the HMG in the village. The Panhard AMD 35s were placed in Ambush.
The Germans selected to attack in the day light. Their main force of one PzSchutzen Plt , PzIII’s and AT guns were to attack in front of the Chateau. The 2nd PzSch Plt is dismounted and attacks through the woods. The rad 8 deployed behind the Palace supported by the INF Gun and 81mm Mtr’s.
Recon Moves. The French stayed put but the Rad-8s moved up to the Chateaus rear hedge.
French Recon Motor Cycles
Sdkfz 231 (8-rads)
The Queens Cauldron Battle begins…
P-16 AFVs deploy in woods
Germans: Stukas arrive and target the Recon M/C. The PzSch and PzIII attack in front of the Château while the 81mm move to deploy near the INF Gun. The INF Gun fires and pins the 75s. The PzSch and PzIII all fire into the woods at the Recon P-16 but all miss due to the concealment and gone to ground. The Stuka attack and kill one Recon M/C team forcing the Recon cycles to break off and reorganize.
PzSchutzen and Panzer IIIE's adavnce towards fountain
French: No reserves arrive. The 75s fail to un-pin, the rest of the command stays concealed to allow the Bosche fall into their trap?
French 2iC helps defend OBJ
Pinned French 75s defend OBJ
Germans: Stukas arrive and again target the Recon M/C and also a 75mm gun and HQ
The Main attack force moves forward and fires bailing one P-16. The dismounted INF moves to within 4” of the P=16 HQ AFV. The 81mm Mtr’s deploy next to the INF Gun. The INF Gun fires a barrage but while he hits the 75s with the first dice he misses both re-rolls due to only 2 guns. The Stukas fail to find acquire a target. Feeling bold Lt Dav orders his dismounted PzSch to assault the P-16’s but fails their tank terror morale check…so they stay hidden in the woods.
Bosche on the attack
French: No Reserves. The French Commanders discuss deploying the Ambush…being true Frenchmen they run their tactics by committee and could not agree so rolled a die… to choose! The Panhards come out of ambush and along with the P-16 (who un-bailed) fire at the PzSch tracks. Baling 2ea SdKfz 251 and destroying two others along with the Plt HQ, Lt Mtr and 2ea MG teams. OUCH! The 75s fire a barrage at the INF gun and 81mm Mtr’s. The 75s kill 1ea INF Gun and pin the 81mm Mtr’s. The Recon M/C reorganizes. The French command is very happy with turn 2 and high five calling out “Viva Le France! “
Panhards spring ambush
Turn 3: No Stukas arrive! The INF Gun fails to un-pin but the Mtr’s do and they dig in! The PzSch tracks fail to recover but the troops do un- pin and dismount rushing to the château. The PzIII’s move forward to protect the PzSch; firing at and killing one Panhard. The French Recon passes their break-off roll. Dav dismounted Inf move up into the woods and AGAIN fail to heed their Plt call to assault the recon AFV’s! About half of LT Sean PzSch Plt is able to storm trooper successfully into the Château.
Dismounted PzSchutzen in the woods
P-16 AFV view of the attacking Bosche
French: S-35 tanks arrive and come in to the left of the village top support the Recon AFVs. Hoping to redo their devastating fire from the last turn; the two Recon Plt’s open up again. First the P-16 but they only hit once and the round bounces off the track! Laughing with a lousy French accent MSG Steve fires with his 4ea Panhards; hitting only twice! This was enough as he killed two INF teams with MG fire forcing Sean to roll and fail his morale test. One PzSch Plt now destroyed. Rob moves his Recon M/C up the hedge. The 75mm Artillery staff repeats fire and but fails do hit the INF gun and does no damage to the dug-in Mtr’s.
Souma S-35 tanks arrive
French Recon platoons hold the woods and slow the Bosche
Turn 4: Stuka arrive and target the 75mm Artillery. Waving off the sting of the loss of his PzSch Sean unleashes devastating fire with his PzIIIs and PaK 36 killing two more Panhards forcing them to take and pass a break off roll…they later failed their morale test and leaves the battle. The Mtr’s drop smoke on the 75s to their front and the Mts hit the Recon M/C pinning them and forcing them to break off again! (Those poor M/C’s were targeted by something every turn). LT Dav moves his troops farther in the woods and fires his ATR at the P-16 hitting it but doing no damage. He next let’s loose with his MG teams and but misses. After two failed tries Dav decide not to assault this turn. Sean moves his Rad-8 up suing the hedge as cover. The Stukas arrive hitting and kill the Battery HQ, pinning the 75s
Sdkfz 231 (8-Rad)advance
German Infantry and French Recon fight for the woods
German smoke barrage
French: the 1st INF Plt and AT Plt arrive and move up to support the 75s. Even with the Co HQ help the 75s fail to un-pin. With the Panhard leaving a Hugh hole is now left in the center only being held by the P-16s. The one S-35 moves up to support the woods. The P-16 move and all three of them bog in the woods. The remaining AFV along with one S-35 fire at the PzSch in the woods hitting three teams who all survive! The other two tanks fire long shots and hit two PzIII…both panzers roll their save!
Two of the pinned 75s now fire at the PzIIIs also hitting both tanks and killing one.
Poulis enter the fight
Three bogged Recon AFVs
Turn 5: Stuka arrive and target the Inf. Sean now changes the direction of his attack and sends his PzIII around the Chateau corner towards the OBJ near the orchard. He fires a smoke with his 81mm and a barrage with his one 75 INF Gun. Even with the re-roll the INF gun hits. Due to being dug –in the75mm gun saves. Over in the woods DAV fires his ATR and all his MG teams and bails all three of the P-16s! Stukas attack and kill one INF team and pin the AT Plt. Feeling the tides are turning Sean orders his panzers into an assault against the 75s in the orchard and pulling the recon M/C into the fight. Passing his bog check the panzer attacked but failed to hit a thing! Both the 75s and Recon pass their tank terror but then and they too also fail to hit ether tank! Sean brings his 3rd PzIII into action vs. a Recon team and all three tanks FAIL to hit! This is amazing! Next both the Recon Plt and 75s fail their tank terror and brake off. Seeing this and not believing the bad rolls LT Dav decides his luck is due and orders an assault on the three bailed P-16….Guess what happened? LT Dav fails his tank terror morale roll!
The Panzers assualts
Stukas attack French Poulis
French: All are stunned by the bad die rolls on both sides!!!! The 75mm artillery recovers. The French mortars arrive and deploy to the left of the village. The INF un-pins and moves up. The AT remained pinned. All three P-16 recover and fall deeper deep into the woods. The S-35s move up but are not able to shoot due to the one-man turret rule. One of the pinned 75s kills a PzIII
French HQ and 60mm mortar defend OBJ near the servants quarters
French mortars arrive
Turn 6: With French reserves pouring into the battle LT Sean orders a last all out attack with his two surviving PzIIIs and two Rad -8’s. Again the lone INF Gun hits and pins and Mtr’s drop a successful smoke barrage. The PzIII assault first and pass their bog check…and kill one 75mm gun. The 75s counter attack, hit and bails both panzers…capturing them. Next up the Rad-8s attack the Recon Inf killing one team but are forced break off due to a defiant defense! With the battle lost LT Dav orders one more assault by his PzSch Plt and again for the 4th time the fail to follow his command! There are definitely some “Command Climate” problems in that platoon? The Germans decide to order a “fall back and rally” at the end of their turn.
Final assualt with PzIIIs and Rad-8s...disaster
All the guys agreed the game is balance and should be a successful con game. The Germans need to strike hard and very fast. The Bosche needs to capture and if possible even win the fight before the French Reserves arrive and outnumber them 2-1. The French players did a tremendous job as their Recon elements stay in the fight to the bitter end.
AWARDS: The Croix de Guerre goes to the RECON M/C Plt as they were attacked on the ground or from the air every turn and to the 75mm Battery whose barrage and direct fire won the battle.
The Iron Cross is awarded to the INF Gun Plt who despite being down one gun for most the battle kept up devastating barrage throughout the fight.
French Recon M/C hold OBJ for victory
On to Paris....
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