Sgt Taylor decided to reorganise the platoon to reflect the casualties taken so far. He put all three Bren teams together under Corporal O’Malley, with instructions to form a base of fire. He then took the two men manning the PIAT and added them to the riflemen, then split the resulting dozen riflemen into two assault sections, each with their own NCO. In support he had his own 2” mortar team, plus a second he “borrowed”. He also had a word with the young Subaltern from 9RTR who were providing support in the form of a Churchill tank. The tank was going to be essential, as they would need the firepower to blast any defenders out of the ruins.
Platzer had fewer problems, but his wounded NCO made sure he would have to both command the platoon and direct the squad. He had an attached Panzerknacker team, as he suspected the Tommies would bring tanks, and a quickly sown minefield covering part of his front. He also had a Chain of Command dice granted by the scenario.
The terrain was the outskirts of Maltot village. The British would be approaching through the corn, which would provide some cover, but the Germans had the advantage of several buildings – ruins and walls, all providing hard cover.
Things didn’t improve much when it came to Force morale. Thompson rolled low, ending up with 8 FM points, but Platzer rolled high, and with the added bonus of his troop confidence level this gave him a FM of 12, and with it first action in both the patrol and combat phases.
The patrol phase was a disappointment for Sgt Thompson. He had 3 extra patrol moves, but couldn’t get quite close enough to the buildings that marked the outskirts of Maltot. Platzer had his hands full, but managed to ensure the Tommies did not outflank him.
The British deployment dice were not great, but allowed Thompson to get O’Malley and his Brens into position on the edge of the corn, one of the assault squads and his two 2” mortars set up.
Platzer had learned from his earlier frustrations, and immediately opened fire on the mortar teams. The team on the British right immediately suffered a casualty and broke, the left hand team also was hit and pinned. In return the Brens supressed the Germans in the nearest house, and the Churchill MkIV entered down the road. Platzer tried to relocate one squad across the main road, but they got caught crossing the road and took some casualties.
And then it went downhill. Platzer used his Chain of Command dice to deploy his Panzershrek into an ambush position. The rocket streaked out and struck the Churchill squarely below the turret. The hatches popped open and the crew abandoned the tank as it started to burn. There was a burst of fire from a Bren that shocked the ‘Shrek team, but they were already moving out to another position.
With his support gone, Thompson realised he had to do it the hard way. Under covering fire from O’Malley and his Brens, and covered by smoke, Corporal Peck launched his assault team at the nearest defended house.
Sadly he misjudged the distance and moved too far - instead of arriving under the cover of the building, his squad found themselves in a vicious brawl with the defenders, being driven back with heavy losses.
Thompson threw his last assault squad in, and this time Corporal Blair’s team broke into the defenders position in a flurry of bayonets and rifle buts, and drove the defenders out with some casualties. This was the high water mark of 12 Platoons advance. The incessant MG42 fire was causing alarming casualties, and Blair’s squad was isolated, if fairly safe. 12 Platoon was spent, and although Blair was holding out, he could not be reinforced, and lacking of Brens, he could do little other than throw grenades at the Germans in a neighbouring house.
The British were about to withdraw, but then Platzer, in an unexpected twist, tried to push a squad forward, out of cover, but a burst of Bren fire drove them back.
12 Platoon limped back to the start line, what was left of them, bloody and bedraggled. The attack had been repulsed, apparently with ease, and casualties were heavy. Six Tommies lay dead, a further three seriously wounded, and two NCOs were also carrying injuries. On the other side Platzer had lost three dead and two seriously wounded, plus a couple of others injured.
12 Platoon will take no further part in the fighting this day. Looking on nervously, 16 Platoon are called forward....................
Another great game of Chain of Command, lots of fun but also a lot to think about. The turning point was when the first assault got too close. The plan had been to move up, and then use the next turn to reorganise, throw grenades and assault after another round of suppressive fire from the Brens. This should have worked, but getting too close meant the melee started before everything was ready and with the assault team disordered from the sprint across the open ground.
Mark (Geordie) is taking command of 16 Platoon for the next phase, so will his fresh platoon manage to break the German defences? Platzer is requesting his CO release some reserves to him, but will he succeed? Time will tell