Showing posts with label KWC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KWC. Show all posts

8 June 2015

KWC Open Day: Batrep of the Defense of Niedlingen

Open Day FoW in 20mm Game: Defense of Niedlingen, East Prussia (Winter 1944-45)


The  (fictitious) East Prussian Town of Niedlingen is situated a about 600 hundred kilometers east of Berlin, near Arnswalde.

Historical context:

In early February 1945, the 11th SS Panzer Battalion Nordland was ordered onto the offensive as a part of Operation Sonnenwende, the plan to destroy a Soviet salient and to relieve the troops besieged in the town of Arnswalde.
11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division „Nordland“.svg

The offensive had been conceived by Generaloberst Heinz Guderian as a massed assault all along the front but had then been reduced by Hitler to the level of a local counter-attack. Initially, Nordland's attack achieved a total tactical surprise and the division soon advanced to the banks of Lake Ihna in all sectors. However, as the Soviet forces realized what was happening, resistance grew stiffer and the advance began to slow. On 17 February, the division reached Arnswalde and relieved the exhausted garrison. Over the next few days the town was secured and the surviving civilians were evacuated.

Soon however, strong Soviet counter-attacks halted the division's advance, and Steiner called off the attack, pulling the III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps back to Stargard and Stettin on the northern Oder River. The 10. SS-Panzer-Division "Frundsberg", led by Brigadef├╝hrer Heinz Harmel, also took part in the operation after being detached from the II SS Panzerkorps in December 1944 (at the time engaged on the Western Front).

Flames of War in 20mm

By 21 February the conclusion was arrived-at that no more useful gains could be made against an increasingly powerful enemy without incurring undue casualties, so Steiner ordered a general withdrawal back to the north bank of the river Ihna.

This is where our battle is set.


Elements of the 11th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg occupy the Town of Niedlingen, East Prussia


General Jaydovich advising Colonel Bruce-chev on the best use of the Soviet Guards Army Tankovy

Russian armour arrive on the banks of the frozen  Ihna River
German pioneers have laid a mine-field on the north bank. A pedestrian bridge (left) and a
single lane metal bridge span the river. The Germans have not had time to dig in, so swift has the Soviet retaliation and pursuit been.


The fuel dump (Soviet Objective 1) is defended by a Pak 40 and MG 42 along with infantry

Turn one:  Colonel Bruce-chev approaches the two bridges, and orders a unit of Cossacks and a unit of Partisans to clear the minefield. As the Don Cossacks had fought on both sides of the war, they are considered expendable, as are the partisans. 
Among their number is a group of nuns, possibly secreting hand-weapons under their habits.


Several groups of partisans succumb to the mine-field. Somehow the nuns survive, and keep moving forward. The Cossacks follow eagerly behind them on horseback.


The second Soviet objective is the town centre of Niedlingen. The only road approach is protected by two stugs and several Pak 40s. The town centre is held by a number of Panther tanks. In the fields beyond  the town is a unit of Nebelwerfers and an artillery battery of 7 LeFH 18 howitzers.

Her Oberst is ably assisted by Herr Leutnant Romlet in his first battle. Fresh out of Panzer schule he is very knowledgable on armour and eager for battle. 


The Soviets attack first, and drive for the bridges


IS-2s clearing a bank on their race for the bridge


Columns of Soviet Armour pouring towards Niedlingen

The German 1st turn sees the lead T34-85 and T34 Obr 1943 destroyed on the bridge. The Soviets are caught in a bottle-neck. They try to cross the frozen river on foot, but the infantry commander falls through the ice on a roll of a 1. (Roll anything but a one, Bruce!)

PTRDs move up to give defensive fire while the heavy IS-2s advance

The Nebelwerfers and LeFH18s take a heavy toll on infantry, mortar units  and 122mm Howitzers, almost all falling prey to the template of mass destruction


Turn 2 degenerates on both sides into an artillery slugfest, with almost all infantry in range being destroyed by artillery fire. Su76s, 85s and IS-2s all unleash a torrent of lead on the German defenders. Pak 40s, mortar units, MG crews, all fall to the murderous fire. 

The  Germans return the favour with all their artillery capable of firing HE and rockets.
The Soviets used foresight, and brought a recovery vehicle with them. The burning T34s are swiftly moved out of the way, and IS2s and ISU 122s start crossing the bridge



Turn Three: CCCP: The Cossacks and Partisans advance through and clear the mine-fields. 
Seems some of the German soldiers are good catholic boys, 
and cannot get themselves to shoot at the nuns. 
They make it to the fuel storage tanks, habits flowing in the mid-winter wind.

The Cossacks cavalry charge the defenders, mowing them down with SMG fire. The last men standing are two artillery observers. They fall to merciless flashing sabres and flailing hooves in the assault phase. The nuns and the cossacks take the objective

Their Turn 3 sees the Germans leave the town centre, in an attempt to outflank the Cossacks attacking the fuel dump.
StugGs, Panthers and Jagdpanthers advance past the church. Reinforcements arrive, but fail to make any impact on the rest of the battle.


German armour rushing towards the Russian advance


Turn 4: The Soviets counter with armour to back up the Cossacks holding the fuel dump.
The T34s make it across the frozen river, but for some reason the assault gun commanders seem to think that their vehicles weigh the same as the medium tanks.

The lead SU 85 plunges to the bottom of the frozen river, with only a small splash and trail of bubbles to mark his passing. The rest stall on the bank.



Desperate to remove the nuns and cossacks from the fuel dump the SS bring up their heavy hitters. 
A King Tiger and Jagd Tiger with an Begleit Panther clank through the narrow streets. The bulk of the factory and station prevent them from drawing a bead on the cavalry troops. They are unable to shoot.


Unfortunately for them, they are now within the range of the tankbusters. 
The Panther is the first to brew up in Turn 5


During their turn 4 the Germans also bring up the balance of their Panthers 
and two tank destroyers of their own


Turn 5: The sole surviving PTRD fires from the farmyard


Hits the flank of the lead StuG who had not thought to wear schurtzen that day. 
This oversight creates a fatal bottle-neck for the German tanks


The assault guns continue to rain destruction, and this time it is the King Tiger that cops it. 
It is hard to stop a barrage of 122 mm shells dropping on your thin top armour


Source of the destruction: ISU 122s and IS-2s en masse, protected by SU 76s and T34-85s


Final moments of the 10. SS Tank Battalion at Niedlingen. 

The tightly packed German armour succumb to a whirlwind of Russian shells. The nuns and Cossacks hold an objective  by the end of the game, and the Germans fail in their attempt to deny the Russians and push them back across the river. 

A resounding victory to Colonel Bruce-chev and his Red Guard Tankovy

22 May 2014

D-Day Landings Part 3: Ouistreham Harbour, Riva Bella Casino and German Observation tower

 D-Day Landings Part 3: Ouistreham Harbour, Riva Bella Casino and German Battery Observation tower

The French Commando Kieffer attempts to liberate Ouistreham

Ouistreham was a town situated just behind Riva Bella on the Normandy coast; close to the mouth of the River Orne and the Caen Canal. The area was strongly defended in 1944. 

Historical background: 177 Frenchmen of the 1st Batallion of Fusiliers Marins Commandos landed there on 6 June 1944. The French under Commandant Kieffer were integrated into the N°4 British Royal Marine Commandos. They were granted the honour to set foot on Normandy soil in the first wave. The Commandos left about forty casualties on the beach and moved inland. Commandant Kieffer was wounded but went on with his troops. 


Troop 1 suffered heavy losses in front of the casino strong-point. They eventually obtained support of a tank of the 13/18th Hussars of the 27th Armoured Brigade. The German blockhouse was neutralized and  Ouistreham was liberated at the end of the morning. The Germans in the Artillery Observation tower next door survived completely surrounded and barricaded in for 3 days before surrendering to a platoon of Royal Engineers. Ouistreham was a small coastal harbour, but none the less useful to the Allies, as it was the gateway to the road to Caen, and the Orne river and canal.


Ouistreham harbour on the morning of 6 June 1944. Defended by a garrison of 716.er Inf. Div Germans, an HMG pillbox, twin 20mm guns on the harbour wall. A Quad Vierling AA gun was provided to protect against air attack. When the Germans saw the allied invasion force on the horizon a HMG on a tripod was also brought up and mounted on the harbour wall outside the harbour master's office and the water tank. The exposed fuel dump was particularly vulnerable to attack.

Our Alternate Battle:
Allied attack goes first. Preliminary bombardment spared the harbour, and concentrated on the Merville battery further up the coast and inland from OPuistreham. The commandos decided to split their forces, and attempt a sea-borne landing and assault on the harbour with half their force, while the balance landed in the second wave on Lion-sur-Mer beach, and attacked the Casino Riva Bella and the Artillery Bunker-tower there. Keiffer commanded that assault himself. The battle is descibed in the preceeding post. 

Unlike the real battle, where Kieffer was only wounded, he was killed outright during the assault, and the Sherman tank reinforcements did not have any significant effect on the entrenched defenders. This had a serious knock-on effect for the Commando commanders, as half their forces were trapped on the beach at Lion-sur-Mer, and could not out-flank the German defenders as they had  planned. 

Wild Cards: Both generals rolled +1 on their reinforcement rolls.

Well before dawn allied bombers and transporters droned overhead, laden with Allied Airborne troops, on their way to the bridges over the Orne river and canal. The commando's huddled against the sea spray in their landing craft. A number of them slipped quietly into their cockleshell canoes, and started paddling towards the harbour, a dark silhoette ahead of them. Searchlights swept back and forth across the harbour approaches. The plan was to capture the harbour and link up with the Paratroopers who were dropping down behind enemy lines.

photo Roly Hermans

A RAF rescue launch dropped a number of the advance party near the harbour entrance. They slipped silently onto the shore under the cover of darkness. The sappers set about cutting through the barbed wire defenses. Then the probing Nazi searchlights found them...

A siren wailed, and simultaneously the German MG gunners opened fire, a sound almost like canvas ripping, but far more deadly: MG 42's firing! The commando's hit the deck in an attempt to make themselves as small as possible. The element of surprise was lost. Even though the Germans had started pinned down, the platoon that had started making the assault was in serious trouble.

Turn 1: The platoons of Commandos that have successfully landed start attacking the pill-box and 20mm gun emplacements. The German defenses are well thought out, and the commandos are caught in a murderous cross-fire. Rank after rank fall to the Heer machine gunners, specifically picking out command platoons with unerring accuracy. (Or shall I say lucky rolls) The commando officers appeared to be particularly suicidal on the day. Commandos do not avail of the British bulldog rule, but can act independent teams. Small consolation. Not a single German unit failed their pinning test, and the Commando forces took heavy casualties. Only a single platoon was left standing by the end of the German 1st round. 

(another Roly photo)
View of the harbour with defenses, the Orne river to the right and the Canal to the left. In the distance a Horsa glider and the Canal bridge, fated eventually to become known for ever as "Pegasus bridge+, after the emblem of the 6th Airborne. German reinforcements are making their way to the harbour at left. Barely visible at the far left is the Merville battery.

Turn 2 and 3 saw wave after wave of commandos in landing craft and canoes land. The second wave was able to get a gammon bomb through the gunner's slit in the pillbox, and silenced it. The link-up with the troops from Lion-sur-Mer did not happen, and the German defenders did not have to defend their flank as well as the frontal assault they now faced.

As a result the second wave was also caught in the cross-fire. Several platoons were able to make it into the open area beyond the harbour wall defenses. To their dismay they walked straight into 3 platoons of infantry hard up against the perimeter wall, thoroughly dug in! With disbelief they saw the 4-barreled antiaircraft level it's 20mm cannons at them. Then they were no more.

As dusk fell, the commando attack petered out. A single canoe made it's way back to the RAF rescue launch. The waves continued to lap up against the shore as the evening tide came in. It was 12 hours since the attack had begun. Not an inch of ground gained.

The German commander walked onto the harbour wall, and looked down on the heaps of khaki clad bodies piled below. "Brave men", he thought, "A full frontal assault! Foolish. Did they not learn anything from Dieppe? " 

The last blog post on this battle, the Airborne landings will follow Mon Petit Generals!





11 May 2014

D-Day at Last: Kapiti Wargames Club Open Day

D-Day: Sword Beach at Kapiti Wargames Club Open Day 2014.


We are barely 3 weeks out from the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings on 6 June 2014.

I have been preparing for several months for a large-scale 20mm Flames of War game. The boards are painted and flocked, most of the troops, armour and planes ready, bar some national markings that got left off. Anyhow we loaded the boards and miniatures and headed off to Paraparaumu. Unfortunalely quite a few of our Generals, experienced and otherwise had to pull out either due to business or family commitments.

Les could only make it for the opening volleys of the game, and had to leave early. Others could not make it at all. Suitable replacements were found, never the less, and a great day of gaming was had by all!

Protagonists at Sword Beach
Allied forces attacking Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches faced

German units of LXXXIV Corps under General der Artillerie Erich Marcks:

716th Infanterie-Division Logo.svg

                                               716.er Inf Div. Insignia              21.er Pz Div Insignia
  • 716th (Static) Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Wilhelm Richter. At 7,000 troops, the division was significantly understrength, and included Ost Truppen, Soviet PoWs who elected to serve in German Uniform rather than go to PoW camps.
  • 736th Infantry Regiment
  • 1716th Artillery Regiment
  • 21st Panzer Division under Generalmajor Edgar Feuchtinger: Included 146 tanks and 50 assault guns, plus supporting infantry and artillery.

British and Canadian zones (The latter landed at Colville, ignored for purposes of this game)

Royal Marines Commandos attached to 3rd Infantry Division move inland from Sword Beach, 6 June 1944
Commander, Second Army (Britain and Canada): Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey

Overall, the Second Army contingent consisted of 83,115 men, 61,715 of them British. The nominally British air and naval support units included a large number of personnel from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by overseas air crew.

                                                     
                                                       3rd Infantry Corps Insignia
  • British I Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John Crocker
  • British 3rd Infantry Division: Major General Tom Rennie
  • British 6th Airborne Division: Major General R.N. Gale
  • 79th Armoured Division: Major General Percy Hobart


Facing the landing beaches from the sea: Ouistreham, Lion-sur Mer and farms outside Hermanville-sur-mer in the Distance. The German HQ is situated in the Casino Riva Bella, with the artillery observation tower at left (Allied and German objective) LeFH 18 battery at Hermanville, protected by Flak 38 and Pak 40, Vierling Flak on Halftrack. The road from Hermanville runs down the centre, with the road to Merville leading off the board to the left, Luc -sur-Mer to the right. Heavy MGs on Pillbox and bunker



Luc-sur-Mer, with artillery emplacement (88mm) and 75mm turret bunker (Right), Ost truppen dug in (The weakest link) Heavy MG in pillbox. Road to Lion-sur-Mer and Ouistreham to left, Colville to right.
Nebelwerfer rocket artillery in the fields beyong Luc-sur-Mer (substituting for Wurframen static rockets, as I have none), again supported by an 88 and a 37mm Flak on a halftrack.


Ouistreham harbour and fuel Deport (Objective 2) Protected by Light (bipod) and heavy (Pillbox) MG, 20mm twin AA gun  and Flak Vierling, Ost Truppen of 716 Div.


Rockets at the ready, some Ost Truppen to protect the artillery, and the Luftwaffe half-heartedly manning their 88mm Flak


Heer (Wehrmacht) Artillery. They accounted for more Allied casualties in WW2 than all the Tiger tanks put together. In this case LeFH18 (Light Field Howitzers) 105 mm guns.



The Guns of Merville Battery: Objective 3: 6th Airborne: Parachute brigade


Pegasus Bridge (Orne River): Objective 4: 6th Airborne: Air landing Companies 


22nd Dragoons Sappers (Demolition teams) are the first to land


RAF supplying areal support with Hawker Typhoons. Nick, the Supreme Allied commander rains rockets on the dug in Germans of  716. Infaterie Div.


AVRE Bunker-busters, Hobart's "Funnies" arrive at long last to swiftly clear the defenses at Luc-sur-Mer


LCVPs and DUKWs landing more sappers at Lion-sur-Mer. Unfortunately for them within range of the Nebelwerfers and the heavy machine-guns


Stugs of the 21. Panzerdivision arrive via Hermanville en route to Lion-sur-Mer, and Ouistreham


Yours truly deploying the 21.Pz Division Stug platoon


Sherman wade ashore near the Casino


The second wave of Allied Commanders achieve a break-through at Luc-sur-Mer. The Allies suffered an unusually high rate of casualties amongst both commanders and field officers. 
Supreme Commander Nick urging his generals to increased efforts. He ascribed the high rate of loss of field officers to the Germans being instructed to pick out the British officers.


Hobart's funnies, Shermans and Wolverines pouring from assaulting landing craft and into the gap created by the Dragoon Sappers, but too little, too late ?

Strange how games and history often reflect what actually happened given a well written rule set.
The Allies knew that the Germans would be a hard nut to crack!
Full Batrep to follow...



Generals Repose: Nick and Sam havin' a break at the end of the day

Last prep before D-day

Invasion preparations for D-Day


Really just a quick post of the boards and some prepping taking place prior to yesterday's D-Day Sword Beach Invasion


Hemmbalk and sandbag production line


Tobruk pits, signs and telegraph posts, Czech Hedhogs taking shape


I have not modeled an aircraft since 1981, so this was quite an interesting experience. My skills have improved, but I still struggled with getting those invasion stripes right on an odd-shaped  fuselage! (almost pear-shaped in cross section)
Purposely left the tail of the Horsa detachable, as to reflect Airlanding platoons and their equipment being unloaded after the landing


A river (and a canal) flows through it: Making rivers

Sword Beach: Lion/Hermanville -sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer taking shape.
21.Panzer Division inspecting the building work on the observation tower at the (as yet unbuilt) Casino at Riva Bella


Harbour inlet to Ouistreham, Pegasus Bridge taking shape, as does the Orne River Canal and lock