Having had a break for gaming in the shed for a couple of weeks my good friend Mark came over for a spot of Bolt Action. Rather than a VBCW game I decided that we would p[lay a fictitious engagement in Southern England 1940 just after the German invasion. A unit of German Paratroopers supported by a couple of Panzer 1’s had the objective of capturing the Norman Church – its tower being used as a forward observation post by the defending British.
I set up a 5ft x 5ft table and was able to use my latest terrain pieces – namely the church and the pub.
Starting with the forces:
The Germans were all veteran units (their morale and saves being much better and boy did it tell). Mark would play the role of the attacker.
The force consisted of a Command Group
Captain (SMG), a Submachine Gun squad of 4 men and a small mortar
Three Squads each consisting of an NCO (SMG), a 2 man LMG team and seven riflemen.
This was the first time my fallschirmjagers had seen action on the table and I was really pleased with their look.
The British Defenders were a rag tag band of Sailors and Home Guard units with NO armour but they did have a trusty medium AT Gun at their disposal.
Sailor Unit – 8 rifle armed guys and officer (irregulars)
Sailor Gun Battery manning Medium AT Gun (regular) three crew
Home Guard Command consisting of Officer and Medic (Mainwaring and Godfrey) - regulars
Three squads of 10 men – each squad had an NCO (smg), a Lewis Gun and 8 riflemen
Two HMG units (separate units – regular)
Because they were defending I had predetermined their positions before Mark arrived.
The Germans entered on the southern road. We’d agreed that the tanks would be unable to traverse either the hedgerows or the stone walls prior to starting the game. Mark pushed his Germans towards the village. Still the field remained eerily quiet. I placed all the British units on Ambush and waited.
In round two he swung his first tank around the outskirts of the village supported by a squad of paratroopers. As the tank crossed the road the naval battery opened fire striking the side armour of the Panzer. Sadly for the gunners their shot failed to strike home merely causing a small fire. This was hastily put out by the tank crew. The tanks was stopped dead in its tracks through pins. Not to worry I’ll get it next time I thought. With the first British unit shown the German commander sent his other tank around the Black Bull Pub to take ion the AT gun (each tank had its own dice for movement). With the tanks AT gun somewhat redundant against the positioned battery he let rip with his MG – one hit took out a crew member and therefore reducing the effectiveness of my gun crew. The rest of the Germans pushed forward into the village.
At the beginning of the third turn the Fallschirmjager mortar dropped smoke on the village crossroad – he missed the centre and the smoke drifted across the road blocking off the sight lines between the pinned Panzer and the AT gun. With my original tank target gone the battery switched it attention to the second tank behind the pub. Another hit scored but again the shot failed to penetrate the thin armour.
The leading Paratroop unit on the Far side of the village pushed forward. As they crossed the garden fences a hidden British squad opened fire, scoring several hits but the veteran training came into play and only two men dropped. In this isolated engagement the next two rounds the German superiority began was telling as their rounds struck home and drove the British squad into rout.
Elsewhere the Nazis pushed up into the village and took the pub. As they looked out of the pub windows the chatter of HMG fire erupted from the bunker emerged from the bunker. My two HMG units began to pour steady lead into the Public house. My dice rolling was awful and again the superior numbers of Germans began tell. Despite the protection of the bunkers both HMGs ended pinned and lost crew members thereby lessening their chances in return.
At this point in time a tit for tat exchange of fire was taking place between the AT gun and the Panzer. The next AT round hit immobilising the tank. The tanks MGs continued to pin the gun crew who valiantly continued to fire. Eventually a shot struck home and the German armour brewed up. By now the German mortar had sited in on the naval gunners and successive rounds of shooting drove them from the field in blind panic.
Returning to the village the Germans pushed on round the flank towards the church yard. I decided to reveal the next squad lining the church walls. The Lee Enfields and Lewis Guns putting down serious amounts of fire but unable to holt the German advance.
With my pillbox based HMGs suffering the Fallschirmjager advanced towards the defensive position. As the crossed the open ground next to the War memorial I opened up with my last remaining home guard unit at point blank range – again insufficient hits were scored and my Home guard unit fell prey to the advancing German squad and to be finished off by the SMG unit.
Things were somewhat bleak for the British, two units and an AT gun down and the Pillbox about to get stormed. My Sailor unit had just reached the Church having originally been deployed on my far left wing. With no means to counter the Panzer now steadily advancing – remember the one I originally hit well it got going again and now significantly outnumbered the Home Guard surrendered.
This was a fast and furious fight. The British suffered almost 60% casualties the Germans closer to 25-30%. My original defences were laid out expecting a German advance from my left – through the country not the village, but Mark chose the opposite route. My ambushes were lousy – I delivered the hits but not the casualties and the high German morale soon made the pins disappear.
I rarely put on evenly matched games preferring to adopt a more realistic approach. Mark had no idea what he might be facing so each turn kept the suspense.
It was a great deal of fun and took just over a couple of hours to play.