This is our second game set at the Arnaville bridehead in september 1944. The first one can be seen HERE.
As mentioned, the Americans had crossed the Moselle river at Arnaville in early september 1944. As their bridgehead threatened the German positions around the fortress city of Metz the 17th SS Panzer Division ("Götz von Berlichingen") was assigned with trying to contain the northern sector of the bridgehead. Under heavy fightning the Americans of the 5th Infantry Division ("Red Diamond") managed to get some support, including armour and tank destroyers, across the river.
Our pair of games is based on the situation in mid September with the American starting to expand the bridgehead and the Germans trying to contain them. In our last game the American advance stopped as they failed to clear a farmhouse from its German occupants.
This second game sees the Germans launching a counter attack against the rattled US troops.
With the American advance from the bridgehead blunted the Germans counter attacked. The Americans had to try and delay the Germans long enough for the Americans to bring more troops to the sector to secure the bridgehead and continue the advance.
For this game we used the A Delaying Action scenario from the Chain of Command rule book.
The defending Americans start their patrol phase in an area roughly along their table short edge while the Germans start their patrol from their own table edge. To win the Germans must capture a US jump off point in the defender's area or drive the Americans off the board. As the Americans are somewhat disoriented they can't select entrenchments, preliminary bombardment or static defences for support.
The Germans (Elements of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division) fielded a regular Panzer Grenadier Platoon and picked a 222 armoured car, a 250 halftrack with a recce team and an Adjutant as support.
The Americans (10th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Infantry Division) fielded a regular Rifle Platoon. Adjusted for platoon ratings the Americans selected a Sherman M4 75mm tank and an extra Bazooka team for support.
We kept our support secret until they were deployed.
|German jump off points in blue.|
American jump off points in red, and the objective in white.
Having failed to take the farm the Americans were now on the alert for a German counter attack. And sure enough, in due time the first Germans re-appeared by the farm. The American soldiers stayed down as the Germans cautiously advanced, first by the wall at the farm and then out in the wheat field.
|The first Germans to appear...|
|...soon followed by others.|
The Americans got even lower into their cover as a 250 halftack came clanking down the road, with its MG42 gunner on the lookout for the Americans known to be further down the road somewhere. Keeping the initiative a German squad sprinted across the open ground in front of the farm to a small group of trees next to the road. Knowing that the halftrack ment trouble a US bazooka team in a ditch by the crossroad took aim and fired, only to see its shot go wide. They didn't get a second chance as they both were cut down by murderous fire in return.
|A German squad sprints forward...|
|...as a halftrack enters the scene.|
|A courageous bazooka team. That failed to hit their mark and paid the price.|
With the German infantry by the road now close two squads of American infantry opened fire from the ruins by the crossroad. The Americans were getting the upper hand in the ensuing fire fight but the Germans machine guns also took their toll. The halftrack advanced with its machine gun blazing and was soon joined by a 222 armoured car, coming quickly down the road to even the odds.
|Americans open fire from the ruins.|
|The Germans by the road takes casualties.|
|The halftrack advance...|
|...and is joined by the armoured car.|
On the other flank a German squad had left the wheat field and advanced unopposed. Their fortune soon changed however as a Sherman tank came up the road to meet them and started shelling them with HE to great effect. It got even worse as the third US squad opened fire on them from the ruins.
With the flanking German unit diving for cover another German squad advanced through the central group of trees. With the Sherman still driving along the road to get into a good firing position and with one US squad further back, the two other American squads took alot of beating. The preasure eased a bit as a second US bazooka team ambushed the armoured car shooting it in the side at close range. Too close as it turned out, as the following explosion killed both men of the bazooka team. A feat worthy of posthumous medals for sure.
|Yet more Germans advance.|
|The Sherman fails to hit the armoured car.|
|The 222 advance to put preassure on the Americans...|
|...only to be ambushed and blown up, the explosion killing the bazooka team!|
The Americans were now struggeling. Shock mounted quickly and the Platoon Lieutenant running forward across the road to help restore order was too little too late. Realising the Americans were pinned and under severe stress the Germans moved closer for the kill, with machine guns firing at close range. First one US squad broke and then another, making the Americans retreating from the field altogether. The Americans would have to find another way to get out of the bridgehead.
|The Americans get pinned as they become overcome by shock...|
|..as the Germans move in close for the kill.|
|The Platoon Lieutenant sprinting to get to the distressed US squad across the road.|
|Too late. The Americans flees the field.|
Another exciting game of Chain of Command. This one too could have gone either way eventhough the Germans were clear winners in the end. For awhile it looked like the two German squads on either flank was in deep trouble but their vehicles bougth them some time and their officers managed to get them back on track. Also, the American tank - competing with the hardpressed squads for those Junior officer initiatives - failed to find a good position after its initial attack and failed to get to full effect before it was all over.
Our two games reflected history as the Americans didn't get the break out they wanted from the Arnaville bridgehead in september. The American rapid general advance across France came to a stop, with Patton's Third Army fighting for the area around the river Moselle and the city of Metz for months to come. We just might revisit those battles some day, with more of the 5th US Infantry Division and the 17th SS Panzergrenadiers.