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Encounter between French and German troops, Belgium 1940

This report details a fictional encounter between French and German troops around a small town in Belgium, May 1940. The objective for both sides is to take control of the town, which in game terms means breaking the opposing battlegroup. The game lasts for 8 turns, with both players rolling a die each and the one with the highest score choosing to play first or second.

The Battlefield

Below is a picture of the battlefield, played across the width of a table approximately 120cm by 160cm. The town is in the centre, with a railway line running across the width of the table and a road running down the length of the table. The area surrounding the town is farmland, interspersed with some high ground, woods and scrub.

The Battlefield

French Order of Battle

The French battlegroup comprises of the following units, split into five separate formations.

  Command
        CO (Command Value 8)
    1 x Recce Unit (Panhard)
    4 x Medium Tank Units (Char B1 bis)
    2 x Support Units (MG) in Trucks
    2 x Support Units (Mortars) in Trucks
 
  Formation A
    HQ (Command Value 7)
    4 x Light Tank Units (H-35/39)
    1 x Support Unit (ATG, 25mm) & Lorraine Carrier
 
  Formation B
    HQ (Command Value 7)
    6 x Infantry Units & Trucks
    2 x Support Units (MG) in Trucks
 
  Formation C
    HQ (Command Value 7)
    6 x Infantry Units & Trucks
    4 x Light Tank Units (H-35/39)
 
  Artillery Support
    1 x FAO (Command Value 6)
    3 x Artillery Units (75mm)

The French battlegroup

This works out to 1350 points and a breakpoint of 16. Note that the total points for the French was 1500, but with a poor random points mod, this was reduced by 10%. On the positive side, this means that 150 points will be deducted from the Victory Points awarded to the German player at the end of the game - hurrah!

German Order of Battle

The German battlegroup comprises of the following units split into five formations:

  Command
        CO (Command Value 10)
 
  Formation A
        HQ (Command Value 9)
    1 x Recce Unit (Sdkfz 231/232)
    6 x Infantry Units & Trucks
    2 x Support Units (MG) & Trucks
    2 x Support Units (Mortar) & Trucks
    3 x Assault Gun Units (StuG-III short)
 
  Formation B
        HQ (Command Value 9)
    1 x Recce Unit (Motorcycles)
    6 x Infantry Units & Trucks
    2 x Support Units (MG) & Trucks
    1 x Support Unit (ATG, 37mm) & Truck
    1 x SPAT Unit (Panzerjaeger I)
 
  Artillery Support
    1 x FAO (Command Value 8)
    3 x Artillery Units (105mm)
    2 x Artillery Units (150mm)
 
  Air Support
    1 x FAC (Command Value 8)
    1 x Dive Bomber Unit (Stuka)

The German battlegroup

This works out to 1500 points and a breakpoint of 13.

Deployment

Both sides deployed their command units along their respective table edges - the French to the left, the Germans to the right. They would both be using mobile deployment, which gives a less predictable flow to the game as the players don't know exactly when their formations will arrive on the table. Yikes! Could be interesting for the French who have low command values!

Deployment Zones

French Plans

The French battlegroup was spread out along a broad front with the aim of enveloping the town from several directions. It was hoped that by having several small formations rather than a couple of larger ones, this would offset the low command values - at least a couple of formations should be activated each turn, leading to a slow but steady advance.

German Plans

The German battlegroup was concentrated in one half of the table, the two formations advancing together, whereby one would push straight into the town and the other would envelop it at the far end of the table. The CO wasn't given any units to begin with and would be used as and when required.

French Plans German Plans

French Turn 1

The French took the first turn after both players rolled one die each. 'Formation A' advanced the farthest on the right flank, followed by the formation under the CO. The other formations didn't activate so remained off-table. The FAO moved onto the hill just out of the picture at the top.

German Turn 1

The German turn was more successful as both formations moved onto the table and made good progress towards the town. The recce elements forged ahead, as did the forward observers.

Casualties

There was no firing between the two battlegroups in the first turn as contact had not yet been made. The French were 0/16 away from their breakpoint, the Germans were 0/13 away from theirs.

French Turn 1 German Turn 1

French Turn 2

The advance on the right flank was steady, with both formations moving forward. Formation B in the centre moved onto the table, but then the command made a blunder! Fortunately this had no effect other than to halt their progress. The FAO had line-of-sight to the German assault guns and called-in the French 75's. They deviated from the target and caught the German CO, a HQ and the FAO in the fire-zone, all to no effect.

German Turn 2

The formation on the German right flank failed its first command, so the advance stalled - obviously they were providing covering fire for the other formation! Formation B crossed the hedge and moved forward, the infantry deploying from their vehicles. The FAC and the motorcycles moved well forward to the railway crossing - they were aiming to have a good line-of-sight to the French in the open countryside next turn.

Note that transport units may be removed from the table when troops dismount, especially when they won't be used again during the game.

Casualties

Again, no casualties this turn despite the Germans coming under sporadic artillery fire.

French Turn 2 German Turn 2 The End of Turn 2

French Turn 3

Formation C on the French left flank finally arrived on-table this turn and advanced towards the town. The two formations on the right flank again moved forward and the infantry support deployed from their transport on the high ground. The recce unit headed towards the road but didn't make it to the hedge this turn.

German Turn 3

The turn began with the German motorcycle unit attempting to communicate with its HQ, but failed. The advanced picked-up again for the Germans on their right flank as the StuG's and infantry moved forward to the road. The mortars deployed on the high ground in support. Not much happened with Formation B over on the left flank, but the FAC did call in the Stukas against the French infantry support that had deployed on the high ground, suppressing one of the machine gun units.

Casualties

Still no casualties this turn!

French Turn 3 German Turn 3

French Turn 4

The light tanks of Formation A on the French right flank advance to the road and open fire on the German motorcyclists, knocking them out! The FAO calls in the support of the 75's which suppresses four infantry units behind the tree-line to the left of the church.

German Turn 4

With one recce unit gone, the other fails to establish communication this turn, but does open fire at one of the Hotchkiss light tanks on the French left flank, forcing it to fall-back, suppressed. The infantry of Formation B, supported by machine guns and the Panzerjaeger, advance across the railway line and take up positions along the embankment. The StuGs and infantry of Formation A advance across the road, but then fail to take the French light tanks under fire this turn.

Casualties

The Germans are now 1/13 away from their breakpoint. The French have yet to lose any units so are still 0/16 away from theirs.

Turn 4 Turn 4

French Turn 5

The light tanks on the French left managed to turn to face the assault guns, but that was it! The infantry exchanged fire with the Germans in the house opposite, but came off the worst. It wasn't going too well for the French now.

German Turn 5

The recce unit managed to communicate with one of the German HQs at the start of the turn. The Panzerjaeger opened fire at the light tank unit on the road, suppressing it. Over on the French left flank, the StuG's knocked-out all four of the French light tank units. One StuG was suppressed as the result of French opportunity fire.

Casualties

The Germans were still 1/13 away from their breakpoint, the French were now 4/16 away from theirs.

Turn 5 The French Viewpoint

French Turn 6

One of the StuG's was suppressed by French infantry firing their anti-tank rifles during the initiative phase. The infantry in the white building in the centre opened-fire on the Germans in the terraced house - to no effect. This was followed by the machine guns and mortars continuing their fire against the terraced house and knocking out a German infantry unit. Finally, the Panhard recce unit advanced down the road, overran the German FAC, then took up position on the railway line. The FAC joined a unit behind the hedge on the German left flank.

German Turn 6

The Panzerjaeger again fired at the Hotchkiss on the road, scoring two hits but not suppressing it. The machine guns managed to suppress it after firing a couple of times. The FAC called in the Stukas against the support troops on the high ground, but they didn't find their target. The FAO called in all the artillery against the white building in the centre, knocking out most of the troops inside.

On the German right flank, infantry overran the French FAO in one of the houses, knocking it out. The infantry and machine guns in the other house exchanged fire with the French troops opposite, knocking some out but losing the machine guns to opportunity fire. Finally, the mortars and StuG's each knocked-out another infantry unit.

Casualties

The Germans were now 3/13 away from their breakpoint, the French were 12/16 away from theirs after taking horrendous casualties this turn.

Turn 6 Turn 6 The French centre and right flank

French Turn 7

The light tanks on the French right flank crossed the hedge onto the road, then opened fire at the Panzerjaeger, to no effect. The rest of the French troops failed to activate, sensing that the battle was as good as over...

German Turn 7

The Stukas took out one of the light tank units on the road and suppressed another. The FAO failed to get any support this turn, probably distracted by the sight of small French tanks being thrown into the air to his left!

The HQ on the German left flank must also have been gob-smacked by the carnage as no orders were issued. Over on the right flank, the StuG's and mortars knocked-out three infantry and two machine gun units. The French left flank was all but destroyed.

Casualties

The Germans were still 3/13 away from their breakpoint, the French were now at 19/16 - three units beyond their breakpoint!

Turn 7 Turn 7

French Turn 8

The French battlegroup was three units beyond its breakpoint, so the CO had to make a command roll with a -3 modifier to keep his troops on the field. Requiring 5 or less, the French player scored 6 - it was all over for the French! Thanks for coming guys :-)

Victory Conditions

As this was an encounter, the side that breaks the other achieves a major victory, unless it has suffered 25% casualties, in which case it achieves a minor victory. The Germans broke the French battlegroup and did it in style! Calculating the victory points for both sides, the Germans score 275 (French losses amounted to 425 points, but deduct 150 for the French having this number of points less than 1500), the French just 90, so the German victory is increased by one category and the player gets a nice shiny medal!

End of the Battle French De-Briefing

 
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