Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meuse 1940: Scenario 1 - Pont Maugis

Michael and I started up our Meuse 1940 Chain of Command campaign this past weekend in Trenton. Friday night we set up for the first encounter. For a detailed campaign overview, look here. On the map below, you can see the path of the campaign south of Sedan along the line of the advance by 10. Panzer Division. 

As the German Army advanced through southern Belgium on 12 May, Panzergruppe von Kleist, consisting of XLI Panzer Corps and XIX Panzer Corps (under General  Guderian) approached the Meuse River near Sedan. After securing Sedan on 12 May, Guderian’s plan for 13 May was straightforward. The 2nd Panzer Division in the north was to form the right flank of the assaulting force when it reached the Meuse near Donchery. The 1st Panzer Division, reinforced by the Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland, a battalion of assault engineers, and divisional artillery of the 2nd and 10th Panzer Divisions, was to make the main attack by crossing the Meuse just north of Sedan and seizing the Heights of la Marfee overlooking the city. The 10th Panzer Division was to cross the Meuse south of Sedan and protect the southern flank of the corps. After a determined defence by the French 55e Division, 10th Panzer was able to begin consolidating its bridgehead and begin moving south toward the Bulson ridge. Meanwhile the French had similar ideas and were heading for the same high ground...

Leutnant Alex Geiger  commands a platoon of Kampfgruppe Geiger, a recon force made up of elements of 90. Aufklärungs-Bataillon, itself part of 10. Panzer  Division. This includes three armoured cars (two Sdkfz 222s and one Sdkfz 232 6-rad), a command car for himself and his platoon 2iC, Wachtmeister Otto Burg, and a recon infantry section mounted on motorcycle combos. We wanted to experiment with fielding a starting platoon that was not purely infantry. In this case, the Germans have a fast-moving force but with very little integral infantry support. 

Facing Geiger is 2e Peleton, 1er Compagnie, 2e Battalion, 213e Régiment d’Infanterie (part of 55e Division), a standard French infantry platoon under the command of Lieutenant Gerard Authier. Unfortunately, French platoons have no integral AT weapons, relying completely on AT guns and their much-vaunted armour formations. This would prove  to be quite a challenge for the French player (c'est moi). 

ENCOUNTER 1 – The Patrol
Game One used The Patrol scenario as German forces moved from their start lines in the Meuse bridgehead near Pont Maugis. Terrain wasbe in the country side with fields, light woods or orchards, and small farmsteads. Special Rules (first time at Encounter 1 only): 1) The French player may not choose any armoured vehicles; 2) The German player may not choose a pre-game barrage as a support choice; 3) The French player must choose at least one concrete bunker (but no more than three) as a support choice, if possible.

The Patrol Phase
Unfortunately, in these photos it's difficult to see the ground contours that guided some of the movements in this phase. The French scouts moved toward the small farm, trying to use the stream and its banks as cover.

Jump Off Points
The Germans pushed close to the farmhouse, although the use of their JoPs would be potentially limited, given that the entire starting German force was motorized and set to enter on the road entry point. The French central JoP would seem to be in the open but in reality was out of LoS of the German patrol markers below a major contour line (and thus considered in cover).

German armoured cars move quickly down the main road to threaten any potential French deployment. Lieutenant Authier chose to keep his men in concealment (i.e. un-deployed) while deciding how to counter the German armour with nothing larger than LMGs.

Leutnant Geiger observes the farmhouse from his command car, while covered by another armoured car.

It was at this point that the French commander realized that his lack of AT capability and the speed and mobility of the German force could not be countered. It was also to his detriment that there was no support immediately available (the Support roll had been quite low and the French player - me- was forced by scenario rules to choose at least one concrete bunker, leaving no support points left over for AT support). Prudently then, he chose to quit the field, pulling back in the hope of gaining some time for reinforcements to arrive.

Thus, it took longer to set the game up than play it. No French troops showed on the table and the Germans had an easy victory. Lieutenant Authier's commanding officer was none too pleased but he had not been present to see the futility of resistance. Nonetheless, his opinion of the good Lieutenant has dropped (fortunately not to a point where it will affect anything....yet). Authier is content with his performance (or lack thereof, depending on perspective) and his men agree. They remain confident in their leader.

Leutnant Geiger's superior, on the other hand, is content with his subordinate's performance. Geiger had gained a victory in the first contact while advancing out of the bridgehead...but nothing less is expected from the sharp end of a German attack and his approval is tempered.

The Germans will now pursue the withdrawing French. Next encounter will be at the crossroads of Chaumont.