Neuville-au-Plain, France, June 6th, 1944, 1245 hrs
Lieutentant-Colonol Vandevoot had broken his leg on impact. This did not
deter the leader from commanding his men on the battlefield. Moving around
in a farm cart, Vandevoot was determined to carry out his D-Day objective
of securing the Northern approaches to Ste. Mere-Eglise. The 505th was also
tasked with providing a roadblock at Neuville-au-Plain on Route Nationale
13. Receiving conflicting communications, Vandevoot decided to dispatch a
force under Lieutenant Turner Turnbull to set up a defence at Neuville.
Neuville was a hamlet surrounded by orchards and bocage, an excellent place
to set up a defence. After twenty minutes Vandevoot appeared in a jeep and
deposited a 57mm anti-tank gun recently arrived from the glider forces.
Just then, elements of the 1058th Grenadier Regiment arrived and the two
forces engaged each other.
The table is split east-west and north-south by two crossing roads. The
small hamlet of Neuville-au-Plain sits at the crossroads. At the west end
of the table is an orchard and the east side is covered with bocage. Please
see the pictures in the photos game setup.
Elements Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Regiment, 82 Airborne
Division, under Lt. Turnbull set up using the hidden unit rules. One HQ
squad consisting of about 10 paratroopers, Lt Turnbull and the M191A4 MMG
set up in two houses facing the Orchard. The group also carried two Hawkins
AT grenades. One support group with a bazooka set up outside the north house
facing the crossroads (waiting to ambush any AFV's). A final 10 man squad
sat in reserve at a house near the bocage. This squad also had a BAR.
Finally a 57mm anti-tank gun was set up on the road hidden in the brush
near the bocage. It had a clear lane of fire directly down the east-west road.
The Germans, 3 squads of the 1058th Grenadier Regiment supported by two
Panzer IV's of the 100th were to enter anywhere on the west map edge. The
objective was to kill or capture American paratroopers, or take two
buildings, or exit an AFV off the east table edge. The tanks could arrive
any time during the game.
Note on Setup: I made each deck 33 cards. I like smaller decks as the turns
go faster. It is the standard set up - one card per action per man. All
soldiers had two cards. For the Germans I made one deck for the tanks, and
one deck for each squad (total 4 decks). This was run by one person! For
the Americans I made three decks, one for main squad, one for the reserve
squad and one for the support team and the anti-tank gun. Since the Americans
were hidden two players ran the US forces.
Note on Sheets and Counters: The only play sheets required were the moving
guide and QRR 3/4. I had sheet 5/6 for the vehicle damage (when required).
I also give each player a little pile of counters - prone, fatigue and
shaken. Otherwise I knock figures over for INC or KIA and sometimes will
use a mishap counter (jam, reload). Other morale counters are used when needed.
Note on Stances: I do not use the three stances for most of my games. Also,
I only use the prone stance in the open (so you cannot be prone in a
doorway). Makes for easier and faster play. If a figure is at a window and
not engaging the enemy (i.e. not a target), I turn the figure around. These
are little tricks I use. Hey, whatever works, IMO.
Note on Spotting: The German player, when an action comes up for a soldier,
picks a location (e.g. a doorway) and rolls a skill check. Or they could
pick a general location like a section of bocage.
The first turn starting with the Germans advancing through the orchard.
Immediately they were fired upon by the MMG and other small arms from the
two buildings of the HQ squad. 7 Germans were down. Almost all Germans took
there actions to fatigue move and move to ground (go prone). So no
Americans were spotted. Once to ground the Germans were harder to hit
(+30). The Germans started to use their actions to spot. The Americans were
easy to spot since they were close and firing. The first unit to be spotted
was the MMG in the doorway of one of the house. All German fire cam down on
the MMG unit and it was taken out. The rest of the American forces were
waiting in ambush for the AFV's.
On turn two, the Germans started spotting a few more soldiers. Some firearm
action was exchanged with a couple of German and American casualties. A
misguided attempt by the American player running the MMG was to keep
remanning the gun when a soldier was INC or KIA. Since the German squads
were concentrating on the gun, they quickly dispatched any soldier brave
enough to reveal himself. As well, German soldier managed to sneak up to
the house (no facing windows) and started to lob grenades inside. 3
American paratroopers went down. The Americans decided to vacate that house
and regroup further east. The ATG and Bazooka teams were still not ready to
reveal themselves by providing HE or HEAT fire into the orchard. I am not
sure if that was a good or bad decision.
On turn three the second house occupied by the HQ force was under fire -
but holding well. The German player decided to bring in the AFV's. I placed
two Panthers on the table to freak out the American players. The tanks were
actually Panzer IV D's, but I figured everyone saw Panthers and Tigers! The
tanks rolled straight into the hamlet firing HE at the buildings. American
casualties mounted and men were pulling back. Lt. Turnbell positioned
himself in the middle of things to give actions to the ATG, and the reserve
squad. The ATG fired twice and missed both times at the lead tank. The tank
swerved behind a building. Just then an American with a Hawkins AT ran
towards the second tank and placed it in the tracks. The grenade exploded
ripping the tracks off the tank. It stopped. The second paratrooper with a
AT grenade ran out and placed it in the top of the hull (with a PF of 29 it
could rip into the tank). Just then the anti-tank gun fired and scored a
direct hit on the front hull. A massive explosion ensued knocking the tank
out and killing the brave paratrooper.
Turn four saw the Americans pull back and regroup near the bocage. Some
more casualties were inflicted on both sides. The second AFV was pulling
back since it was stuck in the south side of the hamlet - very vulnerable
to a close assault or bazooka fire. At the end of the turn both sides had
done a marginal victory - in effect a draw.
Both sides said they would have set up or deployed differently. Such is the
fun of gaming. I really like hidden unit scenarios and infantry vs tank.