Showing posts with label Landings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Landings. Show all posts

20 May 2014

Battle Report: Sword Beach D-Day: Luc-Sur-Mer

Battle Report: D-Day Sword Landings Part 1: Luc-Sur-Mer

Dawn broke on the 6th of June 1944. The German lines at Luc-Sur Mer had taken a beating from Allied bombers overnight. One of the multi-story buildings on the waterfront had been all but destroyed, but the Ost Truppen huddled in the trenches and the bunkers remained unscathed.

" Herr Leutnant! Englischer Schiffe!" The junior officer visibly paled when he brought his binoculars to his eyes. As far as he could see the horizon was packed with ships. The next moment naval shells screamed overhead.

 " Es fingt an..." -  It has started, he said. Here's to hoping these Ost Truppen will hold!

Luc-sur-Mer at Dawn 6 June 1944: German occupation troops dug in, 
88mm Bunker and 75mm Tank Turret to theright, at left, Pillbox HMG and LMG, 
rocket launcher battery and Pak 40s in fields beyond

The gamers rolled first for wild cards- the Luc-sur-Mer (LSM) sector of the board rolled improved skills for the Infantry: Went from reluctant trained to confident veteran, a useful roll. Allies rolled for extra armour support (+1 to rolls for armoured reinforcement landing)

Turn 1: The allies went first (as per the real battle): First a preliminary naval bombardment, which took out one of the Flak Vierling AA guns protecting the rocket launcher battery set in the fields beyond LSM.

The landing craft arrived, disgorging sappers on the beach, and calling in a flight of Hawker Typhoons. 3 aircraft made it to the area, and attacked the dug in troops in the trenches facing the beaches. The dug in Ost Truppen (now confident veterans) lost some platoons, but held, ready for the coming onslaught

The first British wave to land: Sappers of the 22nd Dragoons (3rd Inf Div)
Their task to destroy the beach defenses to allow the tanks to move into LSM

Germans returned fire, taking out the lead sapper command group with their machine-gun fire and fire from the trenches. The sappers were unlucky enough to be just within the range of the nebelwerfers, which then proceeded to unleash a hail of death upon them. The survivors of the first wave were pinned down on the beach, and failed to reach the minefields and tank barriers they were attempting to destroy, to allow the masses of tanks in LCTs approaching in the second wave of landings.

The Nebelwerfers dug in near the town's water supply unleash their deadly barrage on the beaches:
Ost Truppen and 88mm AA gun protecting their flank and frontal arc respectively

Turn 2: More sappers land and a flight of Typhoons deliver more death to the German trenches.
Well fortified and dug in, they survive the ordeal, but radio for AA support.
 Where is " Der verdamte Luftwaffe? "

Turn two saw some allied tanks make it to the beach- a unit of DD Sherman tanks. These waded out of the water before opening fire on the German emplacements. A heavy MG nest was taken out by this assault. The second wave of landing craft also deployed more sappers, who hurried up the beach, only to meet the same fate as those landed in the first wave.

These however had learned from their compatriots' misfortune, and stayed out of range of the rocket launchers. A single surviving troop of the first landing made it to the beach defenses, and started preparing the way for the next landing of tanks. The dug in static German Infantry, in trenches and buffed up to confident veterans withstood wave on wave of attack, with minimal casualties.

The Germans brought up a 37 mm AA gun mounted on a half-track to defend the infantry from the incessant harrasment by the RAF, only to find the fiendish pilots changing their flight path to avoid the German shells.

The 21st Panzer Army's Stug IIIs arrived from Caen, and moved towards LSM, to the cheers of the Heer artillery, who found that the clever Tommies stayed well out of reach of both the Nebelwerfers and LeFH18 fieldguns. The ruins of LSM also prevented the 88mm guns from drawing a bead on the tanks on the beach.

To relieved grins the 21. Pz Div started moving down the road towards the beaches. This time Allied Aircraft were intercepted on their way in, and did not arrive at the scene of the battle. More smiles from Herr Oberleutnant Rhyn von Rheenen zu Fischer, commanding the Panzer column:

Turn 3 saw the Allies land several more M4 Shermans from LCTs and also  2 Churchill AVRE bunker busters, as well as a Churchill VII onto LSM Beach.

 They made short shrift of the 88 mm Gun emplacement and the 75 tank turret bunker guarding the beach approaches. Both went up in flames. They also carefully stayed out of reach of the rocket launcher range. The Germans in their turn successfully brought up a platoon of reinforcement PzKfw IVs from the direction of Caen, and went hammer and tongs at double time to try and get to the beach head, but it was a very looooong way from the back of the board !

The deadly bunker-busting AVREs

Turn 4 saw the Allies still on the beach, though the beach defenses at LSM had now broken, all that stood between the allies were the trenches of the Ost Truppen of 716. Infanterie Division. Luckily these held, not withstanding another rocket attack by 2 typhoons, this time from the Lion sur Mer side of the beach, clearly to avoid the 37mm AA gun now parked near the trenches. The Allied commander landed more Shermans, and a unit of Wolverines at LSM, ready for the punch that would take them into the town, and beyond to the rocket launcher unit. All that stood between them and that objective was a thin grey line of dug in troops (in bullet proof cover), 3 PzKfw IVs, 2 Pak 40s, and 5 StuGs, who now seemed to be heading towards Ouistraham and the Orne River bridges.

Allied Armour about to crush the entrenched Germans, bunkers burning fiercely as shells start exploding in the German fortifications...but saved by the end of play. 

The sun set all to soon, with the Allies still on the Beaches, and the objectives still in German hands. Technically a victory for the Germans, as the Allies were still trapped on the beaches. Given another turn or two a totally different outcome may have transpired. Pity we had to vacate the hall. Things were just getting interesting...

Tune in again  for part 2 of our 3-part D-Day landing story: Lion-sur-Mer and Hermanville.

What did Herr General Oberst learn?
1. When you have artillery dug in to attack a beach, make sure that they are within reach !
2. We were limited in setting up our boards and terrain due to net getting access to the hall the previous night. The terrain was not entirely what I had planned or envisaged as a result, but it worked ok. We lost 2-3 hours' playing time, and couldn't finish our game due to the time constraints this causedt. The day went well though, despite all of this.
3. As an exhibition game it went well, giving several newcomers their first taste of wargaming, and for some a first time away from WH 40K:

Visiting 40K playes getting their first taste of FoW

Break-through on LSM Beach about to happen, tightly clustered armour from an inexperienced  gamer offering a tempting target for the old hands, also now within range of the Nebelwerfers, and 
3 PzKfw are about to come charging around the corner of the double-story holiday villa at right. 
And then the sun set. Drat!

9 April 2014

Sword Beach: Ouistreham: The Plot thickens

D-Day Wargaming ahead: Kapiti Wargames Club Open Day

D-day gaming coming up on 10th May 2014:

So I have been plotting and planning on the D-Day gaming ahead. I have drawn up the plan (not to scale) of the game board, with areas representing the actual landing beach, the German Defenses and the villages of Collville -, Luc- and Hermanville-sur-Mer, and the small harbour at Ouistreham, the Orne river and Canal, the Orne river bridge, and the bridge now known as Pegasus Bridge. And the Merville Battery thrown in for good measure.

Historical Background:
Ouistreham was the key to the Allied attack at Sword Beach, as it was the gateway into the Orne, the Caen canal, and the cross-road hub town of Caen. Seizing control of the town would give the Allies a small port (nowhere near the size needed for sustaining supply lines, but useful, none-the-less), and control of the river and canal bridges so as to prevent German armor from hitting their left flank.

The Germans, needless to say, knew how important the town could be and made preparations.  The casino was retrofitted with a bunker in the basement and gun that could hit ships at sea as well as targets closer in. Other fortifications went in as well, and in a very flat area, a towering bunker designed to withstand bombs, artillery fire, and even gas/chemical attacks, was built behind an existing house to help disguise it a bit.  This was not a gun bunker - it was far more dangerous than that.  It was an observation bunker with a very accurate rangefinder for the time.

Keiffer Commando forces in house-to-house fighting in the advance towards Bella Riva. 
Duplex Drive Sherman leading the spear-head

Not only did the bunker survive the day, but the story of how it fell brings a smile to the face.  On D-Day, the bunker was bypassed after troops came under machine gun fire and grenade attack when approaching it. After the battle the structure fell silent, and it was presumed abandoned. On 9 June 1943, a Lt. Bob Orrell of the Royal Engineers was tasked with assessing and cataloging construction materials left behind in the Ouistreham area by the retreating Germans. On inspection he noted that the bunker was closed up,  and apparently locked from the inside.  He was ordered to investigate further, so he went back with a mobile crane and three assistants.

Observation Bunker 

The door was still locked, so he tried explosives: To no effect. They then tied other means of forcing the door, but finally went back to (more) explosives and succeeded in forcing the door open.

It was then that a voice called down in perfect English that it was "Okay, come on up !"  To which the good Lt. responded that he could not fly, and whoever was up there should come on down.  To his amazement 53 Germans descended and surrendered to a force of one junior officer and his three assistants.

The German HQ housed in the casino was not set back from the water, on a hill, as portrayed in the movie The Longest Day.  It was in fact set effectively on the beach with a ditch/canal in front.  The Keiffer (Free French) Commando forces did indeed take it; and also destroyed it, and today a new casino sits on the site.

One thing to consider about the troops making the beach assault though, is them having to cross as much as  300 meters of wet sand with absolutely no cover of any kind.  Because the invasion was scheduled for a period of extremely low tides, many troops coming in had to charge across up to 300 meters of open beach before hitting the edge of the beach and finding any potential cover.

Some inspiration from fellow gamers: Terrain and toy soldiers (clicky)

We plan to use the FoW rules from the D-Day Minus One and D-Day books, effectively having 3 games in one:

Thus a large table:

Allied Targets:
1. Beach assault, overcome German beach defenses, take the villages, including Oistreham; open the road towards Caen  - Beach Assault rules
2. Commando Assault: Take Ouistreham fishing harbour, knock out  defenses, Casino and  Riva Bella , link up with Airborne assaults at bridges/ Merville Battery - Beach assault or seaborne commando assault rules
3. Airborne Assault: Parachute and glider landings on Pegasus Bridge, Orne River bridge and Merville Battery

German Targets:
1. Prevent Allies from taking Ouistreham and beach (-sur Mer) villages, the German HQ in the Casino Riva Bella ; and establishing a foothold on the continent
2. Protect road to Caen, including bridge access across Orne river and canal
3. Protect Merville Battery

To make things a bit more interesting we have decided to throw in a few historical wildcards. At the beginning of the game we'll roll to see if any specific conditions may affect the way that the game plays out:

Allied Wildcards:
Fortune cards:
  • Successful  preliminary bombarding: Roll D6: On roll of 5 or 6 Allied player gets additional round of preliminary shelling , 3 or 4 re-rolls on fails to wound, 1 or 2 re-roll fails to hit  
  • Mill pond: Weather and tide does not affect landing,  +1 to all rolls caused by weather effects
  • Partisan attack: Place one infantry section within 24 inches, but more than 12 inches away from German infantry troops. These count as being in ambush, Conscripts, fearless
Misfortune cards:
  • Wild weather: Weather and tide affects landing severely,  -1 to all rolls caused by weather effects
  • Beach defenses effective: - Roll D6: On roll of 5 or 6 Allied player has to roll for every landing craft or tank as it gets into the landing zone: A rolls of 1 makes vessel capsize/tank flood, 2  or 3 stranded until next turn (caught up in obstacle but freed, can land cargo next turn); 4 or 5 delayed (can attempt landing again next turn) ,  6 delayed and return to landing ship (sea zone) (can attempt again next turn)  
  • Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine interception:  Roll D6: 1-3:  Luftwaffe available Roll again- determines level of availability. 4-6;  Kriegsmarine (U and S-boats) Same rule, but can only target landing craft (No extra cost to axis player)
German Wildcards:
Fortune cards:

  • Luftwaffe cover available: Roll to see level of cover (no extra cost)
  • The Fuhrer's Blessing: Rommel takes command (All Axis troop morale +1, to max fearless veteran; Armour support arrives on  D6 Roll: 1-2 (turn 4) 3-4 (turn 3) 5-6 (turn 2)
  • Hitler's Fire-brigade: SS Panzer Division and Panzer Lehr become available D6 1-3 (turn 4) D6 4-6 (turn 3)

Misfortune cards:
  • Partisan attack: Allied player places one infantry section within 24 inches, but more than 12 inches away from German infantry troops. These count as being in ambush, Conscripts, fearless
  • Turncoat Osttruppen: Russian POW troops: First contact: Roll Morale test: D6. Roll for every unit: On roll of 1 surrender without fight, roll of 2: -1 to morale; 3-6 morale per book. German player can motivate using German Oficer, sacrificing one platoon unit a-la- USSR Commisar rules.
  • Caught pants down: All troop morale -1 for first 2 rounds,  Armour support arrives on D6 Roll: 1-2 (turn 4) 3-4 (turn 3) 5-6 (turn 2) German troops cannot make storm trooper moves first 2 turns.