3,000pts Panzergrenadier Kompanie Vs. British Light Armoured Squadron (Red - 1,500pts) & US Parachute Company (Luke - 1,500pts)
Last weeks military action saw my Panzergrenadiers force a draw against Naths Finnish tank horde, with neither side looking much like making the necessary breakthrough in an ‘Encounter’ mission, although I had the upper hand before time ran out. This week I faced a combined force of British (Red and his Crusaders) and Yanks (Luke with his Shermans and Paras), in a 3,000pt punch-up. We had diced to see if we should play a 3-sided scenario, or combine the Allies vs. my Germans, and I was happy when the dice came up for the latter because my 3k was already prepared. In hindsight perhaps the 3-sided version would have gone better.
My 3,000pts consisted of virtually all of my big-hitters; the 88’s, PaK40’s, Panzer III’s, StuG’s and heavy artillery were there, and the truck-mounted panzer grenadiers were backed up by HMG’s, mortars and two lots of pioneers - one of which was armoured. I was also desperate to bag my first US Sherman after my poor first showing against the Yanks two weeks previous. Slight worry set in when I saw the size of the British artillery battery and the number of British and American tanks waiting in reserve, the enemy infantry looked welcoming in comparison!
An ‘Encounter’ was rolled for the second week running, and the allies started the battle aggressively! Their two universal carrier patrols used their recon move to race down the flanks, and, riding their luck, single-handedly wiped out my PaK40’s and heavy artillery before decimated an infantry platoon. I struggled to contain them, and only after my infantry rallied on the left, and the 88’s got some good hits in on the right did I manage to see them off. A bad start though with a good 400pts of troops lost to the enemies 180, and a further 200pt infantry platoon weakened enough to result in it fleeing easily later. I had also lost the initiative before I’d realised it was there for the taking.
A quiet period of exchanging artillery fire followed while both sides waited for reserves, and saw me lose an 88 and a number of mortars. The main fighting was done by platoon of Paras who made an ill judged assault on my decimated platoon on the left and were hammered by MG and HMG fire, the survivors heading to the rear. Finally reserves started to arrive, and the Panzer III’s were first on the field. However, their central arrival position and the enemy artillery (which I was unable to damage sufficiently) meant their attack up the centre/right was slow rather than daring, stopping to pick off a hidden 6pdr portee on the way. In more hindsight at this point I think Red may have been due a company morale check, but nobody noticed and the battle continued.
Serious bad luck struck my plans as the allies reserves flooded onto the battlefield in the form of Shermans and Grants, and entered opposite the Panzers ready for a fight. 870pts of American medium tanks vs. 500pts of German Panzers was never going to be an equal fight (eight tanks vs. 5, and the enemy had superior guns and equal armour!), and I made the mistake of trying to stick it out and hoping to get lucky. To make matters worse the Brits artillery dropped smoke on my remaining 88, and the StuG’s came on too far away to help. The Brits Grant tanks inevitably flanked my armour, and with three Panzers burning the others retreated to fight another day.
With time running down rapidly I made a final, audacious, attempt to win the game for the Germans (while I thought nobody was looking) by pushing up the left flank with half-tracked pioneers using the roads. Unfortunately this attack was blunted before it had even started when the supporting StuG’s had to head back to the centre to try and stop the victorious Shermans, and the Allied artillery pinned down the rest of the infantry, seemingly ignorant of their armoured status, and further US troops in armoured personnel carriers were followed onto the field of battle by an endless tide of Crusaders to block all attempts.
The final act saw the StuG’s try go toe to toe with the Shermans, and come off dramatically worse as the American tanks used their stabilisers to good effect to close with their adversaries and destroy two and frighten off the third for no losses. Further units of German pioneers and infantry had arrived to dig in around the objectives in a last line of defence but time was up and the game ended in a draw that felt very much like a defeat. As one of the opposition remarked “A pity, we had them on the ropes”, and he was right.
From the moment the Universal Carriers fortuitously made it close enough to assault my troops on turn one I was on the back foot, not helped by the damage the ’Carriers did to my defences and long-range hitting capacity. I was certainly left pondering if there was an equivalent unit in the Germans ranks (and the answer is no, not really), and how to block out this menace.
I was also left in awe of the Sherman and its variant the Grant, which both combined to easily see off my Panzer III’s and then my StuG’s with more aggressive tactics, hitting me at a weak point and pressing an advantage. An advantage which was held thanks to the Universal Carriers raids and the use of smoke from the heavy artillery. The Sherman certainly has equal/slightly better armour than the Panzers available to me, as well as a better gun, while the Grants proved their worth. Even if the StuG’s had managed to hold their own the Brits Crusaders had arrived, and minus my PaK40’s, 88s and artillery I wouldn’t have been able to stop them.
I think the battlefield may have also been a bit small, with little chance of outflanking the large armies we were fielding, maybe a 6ft by 8ft table would have worked better. Oh, and my motivation tests are seriously starting to drive me towards the arms of the SS in the hope of passing one!
A last thought: I decided before the game that taking the Tiger(s) would be unfair on an enemy with few weapons that could destroy them from any angle. The last time I decided that I also lost, on that occasion to the Finns. Perhaps I’m being too nice?