Saturday, April 11, 2015

Arras 1940 - Encounter 4: Germans push toward Dainville

Following up on his success in the last encounter (link), Leutnant von Schoenenfeld continues to pursue the British toward the outskirts of Dainville (beyond the original British start line). But as will be seen, the resolute German commander seems to have bitten off a bit more wurst than he can comfortably swallow.

A quick look at the campaign map... the Germans have pushed the Brits back to the first blue box on the left, around Dainville...

And a closer look at Dainville...the blue arrow showing the approach route of the Germans...


Force Morale: 7 (with a -1 to the result...the men are not very impressed with their commander)
Support Points: 5 (with a +1 to the result... von Schoenenfled's CO is apparently of the opposite mind to the men)
Support: 1 x Sdkfz 231 (6-rad)


Force Morale: 11 (with a +1 to the result...Lt Stuart's men are quite pleased with his performance so far...despite the recent setbacks)
Support Points: 11
Support: 1 x Universal Carrier with Bren team and JL; 1 x  Vickers MMG; 1 x regular infantry section

Lieutenant Stuart found his Durham Light Infantry platoon somewhat depleted after the recent setbacks but he was determined to hold back the onrushing Hun! As his men fell back from Achicourt, he started re-organizing his platoon into one large rifle section (8 men) and a consolidated Bren section (of three teams!...ouch!). He hoped that as he fell back to Dainville, he would find other British units in the area to help with holding back the German advance (see the support list above). With these reinforcements, he decided to keep his scouting activity aggressive to try and slow down the Germans as they approached the outskirts of Dainville. Perhaps, he could catch them off-guard and disconcert their commander.

And it seemed that Lt Stuart had done just that. The German scouts got off to a slow start as they probed toward Dainville. The British quickly took advantage and held back the German attempts to reconnoitre the town.

The end result of the Patrol Phase? The Germans quite simply had a long way to go. The objective of the scenario was to get (just) one team off the British board edge (this is the most artificial of the CoC scenario objectives but more of my dissatisfaction with this anon). But Lt Stuart had managed to keep the German Jump Off Point options a good distance from Dainville.

To this point, two strikes against the German commander. A low roll for Force Morale (plus the -1 FM modifier because of the men's opinion) meant the Germans were starting off with 7 Force Morale (compared to the British 11 FM). And now, the Patrol phase had clearly been won by the British.

As the German commander, I decided that because of the imbalance in respective Force Morales and Support Points, I would try and make an end rush along the main road and try to get a team off the British board edge as quickly as possible. To this end, I chose an armoured car from the support lists. I also chose to play a German campaign Wild Card:

With luck, the first turn would be a long one and Vidal would have trouble deploying what I thought would be some considerable support choices. Oh, was I to be disabused of this hope!

In line with this approach, in the German first phase, the Sdkfz231 deployed on the entry road and moved on-board. The British had already deployed a Vickers MMG and rifle team to cover the crossroads (the most likely avenue for my attack).

Unfortunately, after the first two strikes against the German commander...a third quickly reared its ugly head...three 6s!!! ugh!

The first turn had ended abruptly, after only one British phase, and the Stukas moved on to other targets. The British were now to free to deploy without a die roll for success. So much for that part of the plan.

Undaunted, the German armoured car commander (of course oblivious to the failed machinations of the real world gamer looming above) continued with the plan. After a short setback, when the driver mistook MMG rounds pinging off the hull as something actually perilous, the armoured car continued to race to its objective, passing ominously close to the previously deployed Vickers MMG and British rifle team.

And suddenly the fourth strike against the Germans came swooping into the scenario (if they'd been Americans, they would have realized that realistically they were out of the game after the third strike...but being ignorant of American past-times, they stubbornly continued...or was it the controlling player's stubbornness?). The British commander decided on the the next phase to deploy a formidable anti-tank asset in the main road. No, not a Matilda...or even a 2-pder AT gun. No, something far more deadly, as it turned out: the BOYS anti-tank rifle team! It wasn't exactly enough to make the German commander (ummm, me) tremble in fear, but perhaps enough to pause with mild consternation.

Oh yes, can't forget the fourth strike! I forgot to mention that on the phase he deployed the AT rifle team, Vidal had also rolled two 6s and gained the next phase for his Brits. No problem, thought I, he'll get a shot with his AT rifle and with luck, the AC will survive and continue its end-run to the baseline the phase afterwards. With hindsight, perhaps I could have seen what was coming next, given the luck (or lack thereof) surrounding the German attack so far. 

Vidal proceeded to roll enough double 6s to give his British six consecutive phases! One (or even two) shots from the AT rifle were enough to stretch the luck of the armoured car commander but five in a row? The inevitable happened and the crew bailed out and ran for the rear rather than face repeated blows from the now much-vaunted AT rifle. This loss, and a seemingly inconsequential double-wounding of one of the German section leaders further to the rear (after  some excellent shooting from the Vickers), dropped the German Force Morale to 4 (not so precipitous a drop but they did start at only 7). The German ability to now get anything even remotely close to the enemy baseline had dropped to almost imperceptible odds.

British victory, without doubt. Leutnant von Schoenenfeld (who actually never even made an appearance...the game was that short-lived) will drop back and lick his wounds in anticipation of a renewed British offensive. But the day is growing late and both forces have now seen four sharp (but short) engagements in the course of one day.

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