Having a few hours of downtime and thoughts of something different, WR was joined by son Daniel to play the “Assault on Hill 105” Flames of War scenario. Scenario covered the American 2nd Division assault on one of the fortified hills outside of Festung Brest in September 1944.
The Flames of War (FOW) link to Battlefront’s Fortress Brest scenario: Hill 105
For the first attempt of this scenario Daniel selected his platoons from the old Festung Europa book per the written scenario notes. American Rifle company is his base company with attached support platoons. His organized American Rifle company had:
Company HQ w/ two bazooka teams (45 pts.), three rifle platoons (465 pts.), a weapons platoon of 2 MG sections (125 pts.), two machine gun platoons of two sections each (2×100 pts.), mortar platoon (81mm) with three mortar sections (140 pts.), engineer combat platoon with 2 operating squads, two bazooka teams and sherman M4 with dozer blade (240 pts.), and tank platoon of four M4a1 75mm sherman tanks (275 pts.). Total of 1510 points for Americans from Festung Europa book.
WR purchased his German Grenadier company with: Company HQ with Panzerfaust cmd team and two attached 8cm mortars (105 pts.), sniper team (50 pts.), two grenadier platoons of three squads and panzerfaust cmd team (2×165 pts.), machine gun platoon which combat attached to the two grenadier platoons (140 pts.), anti-tank platoon with three 7.5cm Pak97/38 guns (110 pts.), rocket launcher battery of six 15cm NW41 with 5cm Pak38 AT attached (265 pts.). Total of 1000 points for Germans. Additionally the Germans had four barbwire sections (4×8″) and three MG bunkers to deploy on the hill terrain.
Note: “Crafty” German (WR) never pulled the two American machine gun platoons from the miniature boxes (simply forgot). Daniel never noticed….(bad WR) but WR also totally forgot to use his sniper team and the company HQ attached 8cm mortars during the entire game. Not quite the same in points but the extra machine gun bullets on the german hill might have kept german heads down in their foxholes.
German starting deployment have two grenadier platoons (with two combat attached MG teams each) defending their half of the hill and supporting the forward MG bunkers. The 7.5cm Pak97/38 platoon was positioned between the two forward MG bunkers. Company HQ with their two 8cm mortars deployed in rear woods behind last MG bunker positioned to support the forward MG bunkers. Rocket launcher NW41 battery positioned behind the hill ready to unleash rocket bombardment on the unwary walking American infantry while covering the open left hill flank with their attached 5cm Pak38 AT. Barbwire sections festooned across the front of the German positions. All German teams start the scenario cozy in their dug foxholes and gone to ground status. Sniper team held off table till ambush deployment (and forgotten).
American deployment covered the entire tabletop frontage. On their right the 81mm mortar platoon was densely packed with foxholes into a small bocage field. On their left was the sherman tank platoon leading the engineer platoon backed by rifle platoon. Mid table had the weapons platoon in front of another rifle platoon with American company HQ behind them (see flag). Lastly the remaining rifle platoon positioned on left flank. AWOL machine gun platoons off having local French wine and missed the day’s fighting. All American teams can be dug in and gone to ground at scenario start but since they are moving forward the foxholes will be moot point except for the 81mm mortar platoon.
French resistance seagull takes a photo of both sides deployed at start below. For terrain notes we played the woods as the same height level as the first hill level. Units deployed on the second level hill can see over the hedgerows and beyond the 4″ dead zone behind the woods. MG bunker block ground level line of sight. MG bunkers has ability to fire upon some of the open ground beyond the 4″ dead zone of the woods (24″ range). Scenario objectives marked by German flags on Hill 105. American flag just for show and marks the American company HQ position. Hill slope is rated “very difficult going” for all vehicles.
You Tube turn by turn video of the scenario play (link) if you stand WR’s poor field correspondent narrative.: Assault on Hill 105
Turn One: American army walks forward to line the forward bocage hedgerow position. Engineer M4a1 sherman with dozer blade attempts to clear a narrow 2″ gap but fails gaping skill test roll. No firing for some unknown reason by 81mm mortar battery but the M4a1 sherman fire had no effect on the dug in and concealed 7.5cm Pak 97/38 guns up on the hill.
For Germans on the back half of the turn they remained quiet and watched the American advance.
FOW Note: Teams seeking to cross a hedgerow next turn must start adjacent to the hedgerow terrain. Tanks require a successful skill roll to cross or be “belly up” and side armor venerable on the hedgerow. Hedgerow gateways permit movement through.
Turn Two: American M4a1 shermans crossed the hedgerow but the third tank (platoon leader himself) went “belly up” and bogged. Engineer platoon starts to line the hedgerow to cross next turn. The two forward M4a1 shermans engage the concealed 7.5cm Pak97/38 guns with no effect. Weapon platoon crossed the hedgerow and advances into the center woods while the far left rifle platoon darts across open ground to reach the left woods. American 81mm mortars tried to range in a smoke bombardment on the German hill defense…. “tried” is the word.
On the German half of the turn 7.5cm Pak97/38 guns open fire on the exposed M4a1 sherman tanks. One is brewed up. NW41 nebelwerfer battery lands a crisp rocket salvo on the American engineer platoon. Two teams destroyed and pinned down along with a direct hit on the M4a1 platoon leader tank…. which promptly fails their top armor save roll and is destroyed on the firepower (FP) roll.
Note: WR needs to make some rocket trail smoke markers for the NW41 nebelwerfer battery. Just to remind Daniel and WR that rocket batteries are exposed to counter-battery firepower.
Turn Three: M4a1 shermans hold position and engage the German Pak guns without their platoon leader and still bogged tank. Again no effect. Engineer platoon unpin themselves and start crossing the hedgerow while their M4a1 sherman dozer blade clears another gap. Other American infantry platoons continue their sector advances towards the German held hill. The 81mm mortar teams get the range and successfully laid down the smoke bombardment covering the left half of the hill (excellent wind control too!).
Germans go quiet and remain gone to ground except for the right flank MG bunker. It engages the advancing left American rifle platoon, causing one team loss.
Turn Four: American rifle platoon leading teams start to enter the left woods while follow-up rifle teams dodge cross the bullet scared open ground. The weapons platoon has almost reached the exposed edge of the central woods with an American rifle platoon following close behind. American 2iC team is running over to take command of the leaderless M4a1 platoon as the company commander and his HQ teams follows up in the center. On the American right flank, the M4a1 shermans are stationary under the eyes of the Germans. Engineer platoon’s leading teams have reached the right flank woods as others cross the open ground behind them while their sherman dozer tank joins alongside the exposed M4a1 platoon. The 81mm mortars keep the smoke bombardment going with another ranged in barrage. Only American success is a rolled double six hit on the 7.5cm Pak97/38 platoon causing one 7.5cm gun to be destroyed.
The German Pak guns reply quickly reduced the exposed M4a1 sherman to a flaming wreck. Another NW41 RL salvo landed in the previous location…. many American rifle teams dove for earth with their “save their butt” d6 3+ rolls but their platoon commander team was caught standing upright. Another American platoon leadership position for HR recruitment. Otherwise the German infantry platoons remained gone to ground (GTG) in their foxholes.
Turn Five: The leaderless American rifle platoon doesn’t unpin as they fear another rocket salvo on their heads. The left flank rifle platoon is hiding in their left flank woods while the American platoons in the center woods organize themselves. Mortars changed fire mission and tried a normal HE bombardment of the German positions. They failed to range in on the GTG and concealed German infantry.
Germans held fire generally to remain GTG and concealed. Only the right flank MG bunker cuts down a straggler rifle team for this turn. NW41 RL salvo impacted dirt as the American rifle platoon hugged the earth.
Turn Six: The right flank rifle platoon unpin and positions itself to cross the hedgerow next turn all the while looking upward for the German screaming mimi rockets. The 2iC team, having dodged rockets and dead American platoon commanders, arrived at the remaining M4a1 sherman and will take command next turn. The weapon platoon lieutenant thinks showing one’s self at the woods edge is a bad idea so Daniel changes the rifle platoon with the weapon platoon position in the central woods.
Germans send their rockets again and spot the demise of two more American infantry teams. Otherwise another turn of sitting quiet in their foxholes across the hill-top.
Turn Seven: American 2iC bangs on the turret hatch of the leaderless M4a1 sherman. Hatch opens and the sergeant is ordered forward by the young and new lieutenant. Enlighten to the war effort, the sherman pops over the bocage and joins the engineering dozer tank on the right flank. American infantry preps themselves to start the hard advance up the hill from the lower woods. The 81mm mortar HE bombardment fails to impact anything of Germanic nature.
Other than the regular NW41 rocket salvo impacting American infantry (two teams again lost and platoon pinned), the Germans keep low in their foxholes pending the American infantry assault.
Turn Eight: American left flank rifle and the weapon platoon surge to the their woods edge and opens fire on the German hill defenders with limited effect (4 hits, no loss and importantly not pinned). With no pinning, the follow-up timed assault falls apart. 81mm mortars land a smoke bombardment on the left German positions covering the hill in smoke. M4a1 shermans try to engage the distant 5cm Pak38 AT attached to the nebelwerfer platoon.
German reply was savage when the hill defenders stood up and fired. The American left flank platoon was cut down almost to a man (7 teams) and the sole survivor fleeing in terror. Thirty shots and multiple hits on each team exposed on the woods edge. The exposed weapon platoon lost 4 teams to the German firepower but passed its morale. Two platoons quickly shattered. NW41 RL salvo landed on the advance rifle platoon behind the bocage. Three hits but fast earth kissing saved their exposed bodies from the white-hot metal.
Turn Nine: Now or never, the American company CinC assumes command of the leaderless rifle platoon hiding behind the bocage. Unpinned by the veteran commander, they surge over the bocage bramble, they run forward towards the right woods as bullets fly past from the MG bunker. Radio barks… it’s the American company commander talking to the mortar platoon lieutenant… “Smoke the hill or don’t come back to battalion HQ tonight”! The 81mm smoke shell salvo arises from their tubes and lands on the German defensive positions. “Good”… says the American company commander as he orders the central woods rifle platoon to join the general assault forming up by the right woods while pushing GI’s forward into the right woods, thereby joining the engineer platoon already lining the forward woods edge. M4a1 sherman tanks try to engage the elusive 5cm Pak38 gun again and the German HMG team positioned at the hill woods corner. Solo remaining LMG team (weapon platoon) barks at the German infantry on the hill.
The NW41 rocket teams were caught by surprise as they stood down for a “smoke break.” Germans had returned to their foxholes as the American bullets lap the hillside. 7.5cm Pak97/38 pick off the remaining LMG team pestering the hill but the last two remaining 60mm mortar teams pass platoon morale again. The 5cm Pak38 opens fire but bounces two shells off the sherman frontal armor.
Turn Ten: Americans center rifle platoon shifts right by running across the open ground towards the right woods. Other American laggard rifle teams struggle across the open ground behind the right woods overlooked by the MG bunker. With the left flank totally shot apart only the American right has a chance to seize the German held left objective (behind the MG bunker). One M4a1 sherman destroyed the revealed 5cm Pak38 AT with one shot so the other sherman engaged the HMG corner position again with limited effect. The 81mm mortar platoon teams tried to replenish the smoke screen but failed.
Without the smoke screen, German MG bunkers and 7.5cm Pak97/38 cannon clearly see American infantry running about the lower woods and open fire. Several teams hit and destroyed while others are pinned by the fire volume. The German grenadier platoon stays low in their foxholes pending the American assault. NW41 RL open fire on the M4a1 shermans and the leading infantry teams in the right woods. Two more infantry teams removed by the nebelwerfer firepower.
Turn Eleven: Most American platoons successfully unpin and realize the assault is near impossible with the German firepower, especially the HMG team firing from the woods. Sherman tanks concentrate fire on the dug in HMG nest anchoring the woods corner. Four quick 75mm tank rounds silence the HMG team plus some extra raking of coax MG fire. The shifting position and exposed American platoon failed to recover from their pinning last turn so successfully dig in.
Germans feel pretty confident they can hold the hill so remain in their foxholes. NW41 RL failed to range in with their rocket salvo giving the Americans a break. MG bunker fired upon the exposed American platoon (in foxholes) killing one team.
Turn Twelve: Scenario ends this turn so either the Americans control the right German objective or scenario win to the German side. Daniel charges up the slope with the engineer and rifle platoons (led by company commander). The remaining American rifle platoon failed to unpin themselves again so added their weak firepower trying to suppress the German grenadier platoon. With the hill slope being very difficult going for vehicles, the stationary M4a1 shermans fired all their weapons into the German positions. One German grenadier team destroyed. The 81mm mortars, knowing their failure last turn caused American infantry losses, finally landed the smoke bombardment on the German hill slope positions. So the final assault phase turn will be fought in smoke clouds with rifle, bayonet and grenades.
First the rifle platoon led by the American company commander. German rifle and MG bunker machine gun bullets rake the American advance though the smoke clouds, seven hits and one dead team stop the assault cold. The surviving rifle teams fall back into the woods to recover. Time for American engineer platoon to have a go at the Germans. Being further around the side , the MG bunker vision was blocked and couldn’t see the American assault, leaving the local German grenadier teams to defend. One American team crumpled into the ground but only three hits sustained so the assault goes home. Daniel hopes and rolls the complete wash out for his four engineer assault rolls.
After the American engineers completely fail to score any hits on four 4+ d6 rolls, the German counterattack revenge is sure and swift. Four grenadier teams charge down the hill wood slope from their foxholes and promptly crush three engineer teams with Teutonic efficiency.
Losing the three American engineer teams, the failed motivation roll promptly caused rout and fleeing down the hillside. End result was the German holding the hill woods position and several American teams lying on the hillside before them. Scenario immediately over with the German claiming their win by holding both objective markers.
End of Scenario: Looking over the scenario tabletop the Americans had suffered severe losses. Entirely removed from play was one rifle platoon and the engineer platoon. Both remaining rifle platoons were shot up with slightly over 50% strength remaining. Weapon platoon had only two teams remaining out of eight. M4a1 platoon had one operational tank out of the starting four. Only the 81mm mortar platoon ended the day untouched by German fire plus the “unused” two MG platoons who remained AWOL.
German losses were one 7.5cm Pak 97/38 gun and two MG teams. Otherwise the German grenadiers were untouched but well “smoked”. Not a good showing for the Americans so a scenario replay is scheduled.
Basing and tabletop size notes: Back in YR 2004, when WR started to play FOW Ver1.0, the infantry basing system was slightly different under Ver1.0 of the rules. Additionally, since WR uses 20mm vs. the normal 15mm scale miniatures for his gaming, the standard FOW infantry basing measurements wouldn’t work as the miniatures would be shoulder to shoulder ranks so to speak. Therefore WR simply increased the basing dimensions to allow miniature spacing but retained the same organization strength in miniatures.
Small based teams; command, light mortars, machine guns teams are based on a 1.75″ width and 1.5″ depth (one to three miniatures). For teams of four or more miniatures, the medium basing is 2.5″ width and 1.75″ depth. All vehicles and larger guns or artillery pieces are based to suit the model miniature size with a small perimeter border edging (1/8″) to protect the model miniature.
Due to the “increase width basing” WR increases any BF scenario tabletop map by 25% width to allow for his larger based miniatures. For this FOW scenario, the BF map is four feet width. WR increased to five feet (by 25%) as seen in the photographs. The six-foot scenario depth was not changed and retained for scenario play.
Another rule change WR plays is the removal of the burning vehicles (ie.. tanks etc) after one complete turn cycle brewed up on the tabletop. Unless the vehicle is brewed up in a narrow passage terrain situation, the view of endlessly burning vehicles and the smoke concealment given only lasts for one complete game turn cycle (for both players/ team sides) after loss.
Report on our follow up “Re-Assault on Hill 105” can be read here: Re-Assault on Hill 105 AAR
You Tube turn by turn video of the above scenario play (link): Assault on Hill 105 video
Assault on Hill scenario information: Battlefront’s Hill 105 scenario
Wish to join in one of WR’s small FOW games (or any other era game) then just drop WR a contact email or via the comment section below. About the Wargamerabbit
Cheers from the heights near Brest.