The scenario covers the Falaise Gap fight between Canadians and Germans in France, August 1944. The AAR is from a game played on July 7th, 1997, at the Ottawa Miniatures Gamers club and was an early play-test of the vehicle rules.

St. Sylain, France - August 1944

Historical Background

After the fall of Caen, France on July 9th, 1944, General Montgomery ordered the 2nd Canadian Corp to drive on Falaise in an operation code-named Totalize. With Falaise taken, the entire German army in Normandy would be encircled. The Germans, already under threat from the American army in and around St. Lo, threw together a Panzer Division to keep the gap at Falaise open.

This refight is representative of many battles fought by the Canadians in France during August 7th--16th, 1944. The present small-scale action hinges on a crossroads near St. Sylain on August 8th. The Canadians, racing for Falaise, get caught by the German counter-attack.

German Units

89th Infantry Division
  • HQ Unit (GER-HQ): Lieutenant Fischer, 1 soldier w/ Panzerfaust 60
  • Squad A (GER-SA): 8 men, 3 x MP 40 SMG, 4 x Kar98 rifles, 1 x MG34 LMG
  • Squad B (GER-SB): 8 men, 3 x MP 40 SMG, 5 x Kar98 rifles
4th Panzer Division
  • Panzer III Ausf N (GER-T1), arriving turn 3
  • Stug II Ausf G (GER-T2), arriving turn 4
  • Panzer III Ausf M (GER-T3), arriving turn 5

Canadian Units

Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
  • HQ Unit (CDN-HQ): Lieutenant Druce, 1 x soldier w/Piat (4 rounds)
  • Squad A (CDN-SA): 8 men, 7 x Enfield Mk 9 rifles, 1 x Bren LMG
  • Squad B (CDN-SB): 8 men, 7 x Enfield Mk 9 rifles, 1 x Bren LMG
Fort Gary Horse
  • 3 x Sherman 75mm (CDN-T1,2,3), 1 each arriving on turn 2, 3, and 4

Pre-Battle Briefing

Canadian Squad A (CDN-SA, CA on the map) joined the HQ (CDN-HQ, Chq on the map) unit in building #1, a barn. Canadian Squad B (CDN-SB, CB on the map) started to the south of building #1, 20 metres behind the hedgerow. German Squad B (GER-SB, GB on the map) was positioned in another barn, building #9. German Squad A (GER-SA, GA on the map) started on the hilltop north of the barn across the main road, together with their HQ unit (GER-HQ, Ghq on the map). Armoured vehicles enter along the main road; Germans from the east; Canadians from the west.



Turn #1

The CDN-SA moved from the barn towards the south side of the main road. They wished to take and hold building #4 (a stucco house). CDN-SB moved the Bren gun and 2 men to the hedgerow between buildings #1 and #3. The remaining men of CDN-SB and CDN-HQ (with the Piat) dashed towards the stucco farmhouse, building #3. GER-SB moved some men into position in the bushes outside of the barn (#9) to cover the rest of the squad heading towards brick buildings #5 and #6. The MG-34 toting soldier of GER-SA moved into position behind a fallen tree, aiming his weapon westerly down the main road. The rest of GER-SA and the GER-HQ unit, together with the Panzerfaust 60, moved towards the stucco farmhouse, #7.


Two Canadian squads break out from the barn.

Turn #2

The first Canadian Sherman (CDN-T1) tank rolled on to the board and proceeded down the main road. Assessing the situation, the tank commander ordered HE. Unfortunately for the German side (bad die roll!), no armoured reinforcements arrived this turn. The front element of CDN-SA began to dash across the main road towards building #9.The MG-34 gunner of GER-SA opened up and quickly wounded (immobilized) two Canadians. CDN-SA found themselves on the road, in the open and under heavy fire. The rest of the squad only succeeded in crossing the road through a combination of heroics and good leadership (actually amazing die rolls by Al).

The remaining elements of CND-SA and CDN-SB (arriving at building #3) tossed smoke grenades on the roadway to protect those in the open. CDN-SB and CDN-HQ entered building #3. The rest of CDN-SB started to fire the Bren gun and rifles at GER-SB in the brush by building #9. GER-SB's return fire missed and the remaining men entered buildings #5 and #6. GER-SA moved into and along the north wall of building #7. The CDN-T1 rounded the 'S' curve in the road, fired an HE shell at building #6, damaging an entire corner of the building. Some men of GER-SB were injured or shaken by the attack. Once again in the battle, soldiers performed amazingly to remain and fight.


Canadian troops storm a building. Two brave German soldiers (A7 and A8) attempt an ambush.

Turn #3

CDN-T1 continued down the road and tucked in behind building #3. The second Sherman (CDN-T2) travelled to the 'S' in the main road. A Panzer III Ausf N entered from the east edge of the main road and fired HE at the centre of the crossroads (throwing up a lot of dust and no damage). CDN-T2 turned towards the hill behind building #4. CDN-SB was under fire from GER-SB in buildings #5 and #6. CDN-SB was also returning fire across the street to GER-SB. The smoke and rubble caused by the HE explosion hampered the Canadians effort to kill the units in building #6. Meanwhile, the support weapon of CDN-SB had GER-SB in the bush near building #9, in their sights but the weapon jammed. (Note: These two events presaged that worse things were to come for the Canucks). GER-SB began to inflict casualties (mainly immobilization/heavy wounds) on CDN-SB. GER-SB threw a smoke grenade on the road to cover men advancing in the alley between buildings #5 and #6. GER-SA, having reached the edge of building #7, began to fire on CDN-SB. CDN-SB was now under fire from three buildings (#7, #6 and #5). The Bren gunner finally cleared his gun, only to misfire and jam it again (nice dice rolling Will!). CDN-SB was hard pressed to hold building #3. Men of GER-SA north of building #7 made a mad dash across the road to the north side of building #4. One man was shot but the rest of GER-SA made it to building #4. CDN-SA near building #4 had another man immobilized and failed the morale check. The men of CDN-SA had to reach the interior of building #4 in order to rally or be eliminated in the open behind the building.


A German squad takes up position behind a fence.

Turn #4

CDN- T2 continued eastward, north of building #4. The third and final Sherman (CDN-T3) entered and speed towards the 'S' curve in the road. GER-T1 continued a little further up the road, dodging the fire of CDN-T3 successfully. GER-T1 hid in behind building #6. Unfortunately for them, CDN-T2 rounded building #7 and attacked on their weak flank; CDN-T2 scored a hit and set GER-T1 ablaze! GER-T2 now entered and proceeded directly down the road. Upon spotting CDN-T3, the two AFV begin a mad dash to load AP and sight their weapons. The tanks exchanged fire while they rumbled into position. Neither hit before stopping to re-load. The main road through the village became a "fire alley" as the two tanks faced each other again. CDN-T1 continued around building #3 to support CDN-SB. After firing HE at building #5, the tank failed to break the moral of GER-SB. GER-SB and CDN-SB exchanged gunfire with light casualties on both sides. The Bren gunner finally was able to fire his weapon at the men of GER-SB in the bushes. The Piat carrying soldier of CDN-HQ was immobilized by rifle fire from GER-SA as he readied his weapon at the crossroads behind building #3. CDN-SA finally made it to the building to re-group and rally under Corporal Wilson. The remaining men of CDN-SA were surrounded in building #4 and in serious trouble. An MP-40 carrying soldier of GER-SA firing from building #7 at CDN-SB in building #3 also had a malfunction. The pressure on CDN-SB lifted temporarily.


German Panzer III Ausf N is hit by a Canadian Sherman. The explosion was caused by a lucky ammunition hit.

Turn #5

The Panzerfaust carrying soldier of GER-HQ snuck along the east side of building #7 and fired successfully at CDN-T2, penetrating the turret armour, knocking out the main gun and killing the gunner. The rest of the crew were wounded, immobilized or in shock. CDN-T2 limped forward. GER-T2 loaded first and fired its big 75mm gun, hitting CDN-T3 in the small arms ammunition. The ammunition failed to explode but the crew were killed or immobilized. GER-T3 rolled into position beside GER-T2 and readied to take on the last undamaged Canadian tank, CDN-T1. CDN-T1 was preparing to move away from the two German tanks and come under the protection of covering fire from the rest of CDN-SB. As the tank withdrew, a soldier of GER-SB close-assaulted the tank, throwing a grenade at the tracks. The soldier was cut down by the bow machine gun and the tracks held together. A soldier from GER-SA ran up to the window of building #3 and caught the men of CDN-SB in flank. They were now under fire from buildings #5, #6, #7 and from the north flank at the window of building #3. To survive CDN-SB and the CDN officer would have to attempt a break-out. On the other side of the street, CDN-SA just regained fighting capacity (rally!). While attempting to break-out of building #4, they came under fire from a soldier of GER-SA who had picked up the abandoned Bren gun -CDN-SA fell in a hail of machine-gun fire.


A Canadian Sherman supports the infantry.

Turn #6

All the remaining men in CDN-SB were killed or wounded attempting to exit their building -- the officer almost reaching the hedgerow before he too was hit. CDN-T1, turned to flee as GER-T3 gave chase around the buildings. A lone soldier from GER-SA, coming round the west side of building #3, picked up the loaded Piat he found lying there. As CDN-T1 turned to go, he fired and scored a hit. The tank was damaged but not knocked out. The Stug, GER-T2, finished off partially-destroyed CDN-T2 with its powerful 7.5L/48.

Turn #7

The rest of GER-SA and GER-SB advanced across the north-south road to hold the west buildings. The Piat-carrying German soldier managed to load and fire at the remaining Canadian tank and destroy it. GER-T2 and GER-T3 secured the crossroads. The game was over.

Aftermath

The Canadians lost three tanks, 10 wounded and 8 infantry KIA. The Germans lost the Panzer Ausf N and had 6 men wounded and 3 KIA.

Historical Outcome

Operation Totalize was supposed to be a night attack with elements of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions supported by the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 1st Polish Division. The orders were to "launch a heavy attack in the direction of Falaise". The attack was going well until units became lost in the dark and the 8th Air Force bombed much of the allied equipment. This disruption gave the 12th Panzer Division time to recover and hold a defensive line at Quesnay Wood and St. Sylain. The attack ground to a halt by August 10th. It was August 16th before the Canadians finally entered Falaise. In the meantime, the Germans, in a mad scramble to exit France, lost 400,000 soldiers and most of their vehicles as they fled.