BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario
This was July 26 1944 in Marigny, France. The Americans needed to capture Marigny (apart from St Gilles) so as to enter the exploitation phase of the campaign. Combat Command B, 3rd Armored Dvision, met the SS Panzer Division 2 “Das Reich” and Infantry Divison 353 outside of Marigny.
Combat Command B 3rd Armored Division & German 353rd Infantry Division.
This is the Memorial to Operation Cobra that stands in Marigny today (credit : Google Earth)
Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations
As the Americans, I needed to kill or move 100 VPs through 3 boards from the top of the map to the bottom. Halftracks must have a functioning MA (AAMG) or a passenger to count as Exit VP. The top two boards are Bocage country and it’s real easy to lose time there. Good thing the Germans were spread thin and I got 4 Culin cutters to help with landscaping. The fastest way would be to run straight through the village but the Germans had two roadblocks to counter that.
I had two groups of units: The left group with 6 Shermans and 6 halftracks, one of which sports 2 x .30-cal 1 x .50-cal with 12 FP, the other a bazooka (M3A1). The right group with 3 x M5A1’s, 2 x M8 HMC (SP howitzer) and 8 x halftracks (2 with bazookas). The right side seemed to have a more open country but they carried less anti-tank assets. On Turn 6, 2 American FB’s came into play, shortly after 4 x Pz IVH’s & a “Stummel” rushed in bearing flowers & fruit baskets.
My plan was to have the two groups stay apart at least until they reach the bottom map and not let the Germans converge. I would avoid the road and built up areas in general. I had the numbers to swarm whoever came our way. Although with my numbers came traffic control issues.
After Action Report
We were off to the races here. The left group shot through an area where they thought they would be safe from a PaK. The pair of Culin cutters worked in tandem. A marauding halftrack dropped off its passengers by the roadside, skidded off to the middle of the map and spotted the first roadblock! On the lower left, dismounted infantry took on a lone defender while its ride continued on and cut off all chances of escape. The right group got itself tangled up in a perfect jam in the Woods while its cutters worked frantically to make a hole. Vehicles stayed behind the bocage as they heard rumours of the other PaK covering the area.
In a surprising turn of events, all Pak related uncertainties were resolved when both PaKs popped out of HIP with their crews tugging them down south towards the bottom map!
We were at the midpoint of the game. Two halftracks in the left group caught up with the PaK in the Orchards on the bottom board! They used their small size and speed to distract and to overrun the Gun! We knew the Germans would show in Turn 4 and some of our elements were too far forward but the opportunity was too good to pass up. A Sherman ran forward to help but sure enough, it was killed by a pair of PzIV’s coming in. Tanks always operate in pairs. My tanks get killed every time I violate that doctrine. I thought about using that Sherman to overrun the Gun itself to take it off the board but I didn’t. Had I done it, I wouldn’t have to fight SS troopers for the gun in the next couple of turns – another mistake.
The right group broke through to the middle map and was held up by the threat of PFs inside bocage country. Their lack of anti-tank assets was a problem and we were hugging the last set of bocages before the Germans show on the other side of those hedgerows.
Germans in the meantime were in full retreat from the town. The bocage protected road down the middle provided the perfect passage. An HMG was last seen moving along. I got to go stop that nonsense.
With the PzIV’s in position on the left, I didn’t want scoot all my Shermans out on the same side, plus I gotta give the dismounted troops (bottom left) some help. We needed to get and/ or destroy that PaK gun! The SS dismounted as well. It’s going to get busy. I exited one of my halftracks for the points and another went off to the side. On the right, my guys pushed through the house and were getting into the Woods while the AFVs were getting away from the PzIV’s and threatening to come off the middle instead. At least we dealt with the German 9-1 team that was blocking the way. We also had a pair of Shermans migrating from the left side to help with the anti-tank deficit. The Germans got the remaining PaK inside that house in the middle though.
It’s Turn 7 and the Thunderbolts were in!! The Germans had very smartly hid their people in the Orchard on the left and in the Woods & Grain fields on the right. The M8 self propelled howitzer was vulnerable to the SS firepower but proved itself useful by getting a WP round off into the woods. To the left, troops in the Woods made an attempt on the PaK but failed. They did manage to rout off the SS though! They then moved in to mess with the PzIV’s. A pair of Shermans whipped back to the middle while other AFV’s made for the gap in the woods. One got hit and bursted in flames, probably a good thing for the rest. Towards the middle, the Americans managed to break the HMG team that was toting it along and another squad raced to pick up the toy before the Germans did. A mounted halftrack raced in, tried to get a squad close to that AT gun but was shot by the German SP gun via a LOS beautifully threaded between a couple of houses. I shouldn’t have stopped there!! Another squad stayed up in the middle board to limit the number of Germans who could join the party down south. To the right, an M8 raced into take a shot at the PzIV in the Woods but was stunned by the enemy infantry instead. Meanwhile a number of vehicle slipped off the side. Two more turns and a lot of our vehicles were in range to get off the board. The fighter bombers were definitely slowing down the German OODA loop!
We were close to the 100 VP mark but time’s running out. The squads on the left had both went fanatic at this stage with their repeated attempt to close with the PzIV’s. A M5A1 sped over, toughed out a shot that went wide, spun to the back of the self propelled 75 and fired. It promptly malfunctioned and it was M5A1’s turn to be scared!! The commander kicked the driver to start up again. Good thing the 3 US squads nearby stunned the German open top. A halftrack went for the PaK gun in the middle, went right up to the house and dismounted. The PaK had to turn but lit up the vehicle! The troops were okay, now covered by the vehicular blaze. The Shermans decided it’s safer to run through the middle of the map now, away from the PzIV’s under the orchard. When the FBs lit up the second PzIV on the right, the Germans decided to concede. There’s nothing left to stop the Americans from driving off the board now.
How’s this Scenario Interesting?
This was a lot of hardware for me to manage through bocage country! The Americans needed to blaze through the bocage and their speed helped them to not get penned up by the Germans. The US armoured infantry reminded me of the new Terminator. Halftracks could drop off its squad, “split into two” per se and motor the vehicular “half” behind the defenders. Heck, my halftrack surprised the gun crew of the remaining PaK (holed up in the building nicely situation in the middle of the bottom map) by dropping off a squad at their door. Their ride got blown up but they killed the gun crew in CC. That’s so much more effective than having to shoot it out.
Once I got my vehicles down on the bottom map, it’s important to be patient and to use my superior MPs to run around to where the Germans were not. My tanks whipped around a couple times before exiting. I could have left more infantry mounted but halftracks were poor sanctuaries when the action got going. Fighter Bombers were a huge help in suppressing enemy’s ability to react even if they miss all their spotting attempts. Once I was through the bocage it was tracks and shells flying all over in the bottom map. This is an action packed scenario!!