Sunday, March 8, 2015

Arras 1940 - Encounter 3: German Counter-Attack

After repulsing a British probe in the outskirts of Achicourt, south of Arras (see Encounter 2), the local German commander has decided to follow up on the success and push back. But mounting a local counter-attack is not as easy as throwing everything forward. The commander on the ground, in this case Leutnant von Schoenenfeld, must first initiate a probe toward the retreating British. Von Schoenenfeld is a thoughtful and conservative-minded sort and prefers a methodical approach to an all-out chase of the retreating enemy. Thus was set the scene for Encounter 3 in our Chain of Command campaign, centered on the British thrust south of Arras in May of 1940.

Force Morale = 10
Support Points = 2
Support: 1 x ATR; Aerial Bombardment wild card (Stuka attack acting as a pre-game bombardment)

Force Morale = 8
Support Points = 11
Support: 1 x Matilda II; 1 x MMG

Encounter 3 took place in the outskirts of Achicourt, as indicated by the red box. Ignore the red arrow, since we played the game end-to-end from the short table edges.

Patrol Phase
The Germans got a jump start and were able to move four times before the British could respond. The British commander was not overly aggressive and let the German patrols come to him.

German motorcycle troops move forward during the Patrol Phase. 

Jump Off Points
The Germans had the advantage of a quick jump over the Brits in the Patrol Phase and were able to push their JoPs a good distance forward. The British JoPs ended up strung along the lateral road near their baseline (and would prove to be their undoing).

Having been afforded the opportunity to get his JoP forward on the left flank, Leutnant von Schoenenfeld thought it would be prudent to attempt an end rush towards the crossroads and the British table edge. Unfortunately, his counterpart, Lieutenant Stuart, had foreseen this. A British infantry section was dug in at the crossroads, effectively barring the German advance. The two German sections assigned to this task quickly scuttled to the cover of the buildings.

The British barricade at the crossroads.

Because the thrust on the left flank was easily thwarted, the German commander decided to try his luck on the right flank. Having two senior leaders available made this all the more attractive (not to mention the four-section structure of the German platoon). First one, and then two full German sections deployed off the right flank JoP and moved forward toward the lateral road, using the two copses as cover. It was hoped that these sections might gain some significant ground while the British were still recovering from the pre-game Stuka attack.

The British commander, faced with the advance of two German sections on his left flank, first deployed an infantry section and then backed it up with a Matilda II (just visible at the top of this photo). He moved the infantry forward to try and take the closer copse before the Germans. Unfortunately, the section leader had some issues inspiring his men to get a move on. Immediately after, the Germans gained three consecutive phases (double sixes!) and thrust forward quickly, hoping to catch the British infantry unprepared. This was decidedly counter to von Schoenenfeld's character but such an opportunity rarely presents itself and in the best tradition of the Prussian nobility, he stood stolidly and calmly, stoically issuing his orders to advance. Throwing grenades, the Germans burst from the woods and assaulted the Brits...only to be thrown back!

Fortunately for Leutnant von Schoenefeld, his second section promptly moved forward and poured fire on the now victorious but severely depleted British section. The Brits routed, taking their section leader and the platoon sergeant with them. To make matters worse, they were close enough to the table edge to rout off the table in one move. The Matilda, having arrived with some noise and bother, proved to do nothing (a product of the triple German phase). After all the attendant Force Morale rolls, the Brits plummeted from 8 to 1 in only two phases. Game over. German victory!

Next encounter will see the victorious Germans attempting to throw the Brits back to their starting line.

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