Saturday, 17 October 2009

FOW Battle Report: 4,000pt Free-For-All vs. The Brits

The points value was 4,000 a side, with the British (Aidan's) 'Black Cats' and Red's 'Desert Rats' proving the opposition for my German Grenadierkompanie and Panzergrenadier Kompanie combination in a Free-For-All battle. The report is lifted straight from Red's views on the RGMB forums, while I claim responsibility for the poor photography.

Quote from the Commander of the British Motor Company - Eighth Army:
"I set off for the border not knowing if I would have Black Cat allies or a combined German-Italian force to deal with, but having all my mid-war Desert Rats packed for the trip made choices a little simpler. Whilst I was awaiting my opponent(s) / ally I was invited in where I noticed the sprue of spare guns from panzer turrets... A few discreet questions to a local resident confirmed that Herr Rick had recieved a number of new panzers, things had become intresting..."
"The transport then arrived bearing my opponent and it now turned out my allies as well. Rick went to eat I unpacked my army and Aidan leafed through some old magazines... "

The Black Cats Valentines waiting for their CO.

"Once these formalities were completed we rolled Free For All and deployed on the table. The left of the battlefield (from the British perspective) was dominated by a built up area with a road running through, there were hills at our end and woodland in German Territory. The rest of the battlefield was largely open with a number of wheat fields and some scatted woodland. Objectives were placed either end of the road, near a small group of buildings on the right of the British lines and at the edge of a wheat field in the German area. "

"Jerry had an artillery battery at the back, Machineguns and Marders on our right '88s and panzers in the centre and a veritable armoured horde on our left. The Motor platoons formed a line with Black Cats occupying the defensive position overlooking our right objective and massed machineguns holding the left. 6pdr portees deployed to catch the panzers in the centre, Bren Carriers massed behind the built up area and Crusaders deployed on both flanks. There were 2 platoons of infantry tanks with the bren carriers and a platoon of 6pdrs amongst the hills at the end of the road."

Deployment viewed from the British left flank.

Deployment viewed from the British right flank.

German Grenadiers and Panzer III's rready for the off.

The Desert Rats portees mass behind the Black Cats infantry.
"The Germans made a recce move with some BMWs behind a wood, parked up and decided to have a snooze.The Brens moved into town and found a cafe open. The Panzer Grenadiers then moved up with the StuGs and Tigger whilst the panzers in the centre moved aimlessly forward. Black Cat command went into crisis mode as they felt incapable of dealing with the massed german armour threatening to roll through their positions. The Brens on the other hand figured that they could tackle a couple of infantry platoons, even if they were in the ruins on the other side of town and set off down the road to prove the point. Black Cat morale seemed to evaporate entirely as they seem to have got the impression that the Desert Rats were abandoning them to their fate rather than giving Jerry the damn good thrashing he deserved."

The British advance into the town, the German armour advances into difficult terrain and trouble!

The German recon troops having a relaxing evening.
"On the right a long range firefight between armoured units developed which favoured the Germans and depleted the supply of smoke markers. However the Portees made an impression on the panzers forcing them into a withdrawal and leaving the motorised infantry free to advance. The Mortars proved badly positioned to target the '88s and simply annoyed the Marders. "
The 8th Armies portees and truck-mounted infantry deploy in the centre using Wellington's patented 'reverse slope' tactic.

The Marder II's and 88mm guns inflicting damage upon the British right and its Crusader tanks.

"The German advance on the left rapidly reversed direction to save their objective as the Grenadier platoons in the ruins were overrun leaving a large gap in their line in front of the objective. An increasingly desperate melee then broke out as the halftracks were outflanked by Crusaders, The Brens punched right through to the objective forcing surviving panzers to throw themselves infront of the Portees fending off the inevitable. StuGs tried to run round the woodland whilst Tigger bogged down in it. "

The Universal Carriers and Matilda's swarm the objective, driving off the remains of the German Grenadiers.

A last ditch attempt by the Panzer III's prevents defeat on the right long enough to claim a draw - they were destroyed minutes later by portees.

"The German mortars were mowed down by fire from the infantry tanks as the British advance slammed into Jerry's rear area and the Marders were knocked out by the last Crusaders on the right letting the infatry get within striking distance of the other objective. The MG42s embarrassed themselves being unable to bump off a single team. Though this was nothing to the embarrassment of the RAF who failed to kill anything during the entire battle, for the loss of 2 hurricanes.At this point the Germans heard their Fraulines calling and claimed a draw. "

The final British infantry advance on the right falls just short of the objective after the last Crusaders were cut down by the 88mm guns, although not before they had destroyed the Marder II's.

Black Cat infantry in reserve.

My own Final Anaylsis: In hind-sight my army selection was rushed because I wanted to field my expensive (in points and cash) latest aquistions; which subsequently had little or not effect, while my tactics were extremely poor and made little use of my own abilities while the brawl that developed on the British left playing perfectly to theirs.
The initial (and unexpected) panic from the Brit left flank in response to my armour's deployment would have been almost comical if I hadn't realised almost immediately that my tactics were total bollocks! Having set up with the Tiger, StuG's and panzer grenadiers on the right I realised that I had make a monumental error in dooming my main (only!) assault force to a close-range fire-fight amongst the close terrain of trees and buildings on my right. This was trying to play the Brits at their own game, when my own strengths were the reach and firepower of my own weapons.

The number of enemy tanks, AT guns and infantry in that area mean that my assault force would have been fortunate indeed to clear the edge of the buildings with less that 50%+ casualties, and then they would have to fight more AT guns, tanks and infantry on the far side! (Truly die Englanders were many!) Faced with the problem of being unable to successfully attack I was then left out of position when the Universal Carriers went on their rampage through the buildings and towards the objectives. My efforts at falling back to try and cover the threatened objective then revealed my flanks and my panzer grenadiers who were easy prey to the opportunistic Black Cats.
In all honesty I believe that once my deployment was complete I had ruined my own chances of victory, and only frantic stalling (by moving troops to block the enemy, not the taking-an-age-to-move-a-single-figure type of stalling) and a time-limit to the battle saved me from what would have been a deserved defeat. I will conceed that a number of excellent tactic ploys by the Brits made life even harder, including the deployment of the 6pdrs across the battlefield, the Universal Carriers charge, and the Valentines advance through the woods - the latter preventing me from disengaging without loss.
The only part I was happy with was my left (the British right) where the Marders and 88's held their own against the Crusader horde. And even at the end my machine gun platoons were in a good position to fend off the follow-up wave of truck-mounted infantry. The 88's get the German 'Gun-of-the-battle' award, claiming I think about 6 Crusaders and 2 huricanes (and possibly a Matilda but I can't remember) between them.
A re-evaluation of both army and tactics is called for, then I'd like a rematch please, if the enemy is not too busy drinking tea and getting bailed out by the 'Amis'.....

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