Time for another Flames of War AAR featuring the Normandy scenario “Barkmann’s Corner August 1944. The scene is set with a solitary Panther A commanded by Captain Ernst Barkmann and a weak platoon of SS Panzergrenadier soldiers. Coming down the narrow hedgerow sided roadway is the advance formations of the US 3rd Armored Division led by three M4a1 Sherman tank platoons with their Dog Company headquarters.
Forces involved: Miniatures are small in number for this Flames of War (FOW) scenario. The German side OOB has two platoons…. a solitary Panther A tank and a weak SS panzergrenadier platoon. Captain Ernst Barkmann is a warrior rated leader and had special attributes during game play (.pdf). Barkmann Warrior
The US order of battle (OOB) has three M4a1 Sherman platoons (1×4 and 2×5 M4a1 strength) plus the two M4a1 Shermans in Dog Company headquarters. All told they have 16x M4a1 Sherman tanks to push aside or destroy the German defenders at “Barkmann’s Corner” in Normandy. Staff Sergeant Lafayette Pool is a special warrior attached to the 1st M4a1 Sherman platoon. His warrior characteristics are below.
Scenario set up and terrain notes: Typical representative Normandy terrain with the narrow hedgerow lined roads or farm paths. A solitary building marks the corner where Captain Barkmann staged his ambush. The map below shows the terrain set up and starting positions for both sides. Players can play that the main road has sufficient width to have two M4a1 Shermans abreast (can pass each other with a successful bog check) or follow the exact scenario format where the tanks cannot pass a brewed up miniature. WR played with the first option of passage and bogging check. Crossing the hedgerow very difficult terrain with a M4a1 Sherman requires a successful bogging skill check instead of the standard bogging check (4+ d6). Hedgerow line of sight requires the miniatures to be directly adjacent to fire across or be seen as a target. The scenario lasts for 12 turns, Americans moving first to start the scenario and must solely control the objective “C” by the end of the game. The flaming Sherman tank tells the Americans they have entered into an ambush situation by German anti-tank weapons.
Map notes: Normally WR uses an expanded width table map for FOW scenarios, to account for his larger 20mm scale miniatures and infantry team basing. The width of the provided Battlefront FOW scenario map is increased by 25% (125% or 15″ per map square). The depth generally is retained to the original map layout. Thus the map has 15″x12″ rectangles instead of 12″ squares. For Barkmann’s Corner scenario, WR retained the original 12″ squares since there is few vehicles or miniatures on the tabletop.
All German units start on the tabletop. American 1st M4a1 Sherman platoon and Company HQ start deployed on the tabletop along the road (see map) behind the burning Sherman. The 2nd M4a1 Sherman platoon (5 miniatures) arrives on turn two (entrance point “D”). The final 3rd M4a1 Sherman platoon (5 miniatures) arrives on turn three following the 2nd M4a1 Sherman platoon’s route.
WR and Daniel played two quick scenario games of Barkmann’s Corner. The first scenario game play ended with an American win by the narrowest of margins. This AAR is about the second scenario gameplay result with WR as the Germans and Daniel the Americans. Videographer WR was ready with his old camera so his voice is heard on his YouTube quick summary (link): Barkmann’s Corner video
Turn One: Quick and fast as American tanks scattered seeing their lead Sherman brew up. The 1st American M4a1 platoon and Dog company headquarters quickly ducked into the side paths or successfully made every bogging skill roll to cross the hedgerows lining the roadway. Barkmann’s Panther A was surprised and left looking up a barren road for targets other than the burning Sherman.
Turn Two: 2nd M4a1 platoon arrives down the roadway just out of Barkmann’s range. 1st platoon, having crossed the hedgerow last turn, struggled to pass through the narrow “gateway” into the secondary road (one tank bogged down). Dog Company commander & 2iC M4a1 tanks raced across the open fields heading to the eventual German right flank. Barkmann, during his half of the game turn, advanced till he could engage the 1st American platoon in the left field. One shot and another Sherman was burning. The small SS panzergrenadier platoon digs in behind their hedgerow and awaits the canteen wagon.
Turn Three: The last Sherman platoon (3rd) arrives down the roadway. 2nd Platoon attempts to cross their right hedgerow to follow the path of their 1st Platoon. One Sherman crosses, others are hung up by the hedgerow terrain (failed skill test roll). 1st Platoon with Staff Sergeant Pool enter the burning Sherman field and fires direct smoke on Barkmann’s Panther A. Barkmann, gasping with the local smoke cloud around his Panther A, elects to back up while engaging the distant Shermans down the roadway (2nd Platoon). No hits are scored so turn three ends with no German success. No movement by the SS panzergrenadier platoon… some are dozing while others catch up on their “Mein kaupf” reading.
Turn Four: American Dog Company headquarter tanks hold their position in the left secondary road (Company commander and his 2iC). 1st Platoon is still scattered with one tank out of command, Pool’s tank “idling the motor” awaiting their platoon commander successful crossing of the hedgerow gap (he bogged again). 2nd Platoon edges down the roadway and their lead Sherman bogs trying to bypass the burning Sherman. The entire platoon is hung up along the roadway. 3rd Platoon attempts to cross the left hedgerow with limited success and mostly bogged Shermans. Barkmann sees the Sherman road bound traffic jam and relieves the American congestion with two additional burning pyres. SS Platoon still dozing after lunch was served. Seems the Panther is handling the Americans nicely.
Turn Five: While the luckless 1st Platoon awaits their platoon commander to un-bog himself, the 2nd Platoon shakes off their loss of two Shermans and enters the same open field as Sergeant Pool. 3rd Platoon is slowly crossing the left roadside hedgerow to advance the path taken by their Company commander and 2iC tanks. Smoke is filling the morning sky from the burning Shermans. Were is the Tactical Air to deal with this German Panther lurking about?… we are running out of Shermans. Barkmann pulls up his Panther A tank and bails out another American Sherman in the fields near Sergeant Pool then stormtrooper move back. Pool nearly took a hit but dodged the long barrel 75mm aiming point. SS panzergrenadiers are requesting some 3 day passes to Paris. It’s tough to keep feeding the Panther with 75mm shells and fuel every morning.
Turn Six: Another American Sherman from 3rd Platoon crossed the hedgerow as they slowly advance to join the Company headquarter tanks hidden in the secondary roadway. Three out of five Shermans now have made the hedgerow crossing and push forward. 1st Platoon leader still bogged in the passageway so Sergeant Pool is held fast in the exposed open field. 2nd Platoon struggles to find open space to join Sergeant Pool. Same Barkmann movement performed on previous turns four and five…. advance up the roadway 4″, fire into the open field beyond with one shot, brew up a Sherman (the 2nd Platoon leader Sherman this time), and then stormtrooper move 4″ back down the roadway. American 2nd Platoon pass their morale to remain on the table with 50%+ losses. Current losses: German none, unless the R&R SS panzergrenadiers are counted missing at the canteen wagon during this action. American 1st platoon; 2 operational tanks, one bogged down, one burning. 2nd Platoon one operational and one bailed out and three burning hulks. 3rd Platoon hasn’t seen any action but two are bogged crossing the hedgerow while three are still moving.
Turn Seven: Losing the 2nd Platoon’s leadership, Dog Company commander orders his 2iC to assume platoon command by short movement towards the main roadway and then move across the road to join the leaderless 2nd Platoon on the other side. Sergeant Pool finally hears his platoon leader on the radio freeing his Sherman. The 1st Platoon is almost together again so Pool advances towards the roadway hedgerow. 3rd Platoon joins the Dog Company commander near the secondary road and the last of the platoon cross the hedgerow. By Pool’s forward placement, Barkmann cannot risk previous movement forward to engage and fail his stormtrooper movement, exposing his side armor to Pool’s movement and gun stabilizer fire. So he backs up a short distance and still sends one 75mm salvo towards the last 3rd Platoon tank on the roadway…. the burning Sherman smoke spoilt his gunner’s aim.
Turn Eight: General American advance heard on the radio net. Dog Company commander leads the advance in the open field near the building followed by the tanks of 3rd Platoon crossing the two gateways on the secondary road. One Sherman bogs tail end of the column. 1st Platoon charges forward, one tank directly down the roadway (a fool) while Sergeant Pool enters the next field before the awoken SS panzergrenadiers. 2nd Platoon, joined by the 2iC tank advance into the field left by Sergeant Pool. Having no effect on the frontal Panther armor, direct fire smoke is seen surrounding Barkmann’s Panther A. If the direct smoking doesn’t work… the crazy Sherman driving down the roadway will know quickly. Barkmann seeing the crazy Sherman charging him in the smoke orders his driver to reverse down the roadway then halts to fire one shot… the crazy Sherman lives for the moment. SS panzergrenadiers stumble about with stray American 75mm rounds landing near their foxholes.
Turn Nine: Boldly going were no living Sherman would go…. 1st Platoon and Pool’s Sherman advance towards the SS panzergrenadiers. Firing wildly at the entrenched SS panzergrenadiers for no effect, the American gunners are reduced to “smoking the Panther” again. 2nd Platoon with the 2iC tank now in command advance behind 1st Platoon, entering with their lead tank the same field before the SS panzergrenadier position. The other open flank has the Company commander M4a1 tank reaching the last hedgerow besides the farm building while 3rd Platoon M4a1 tanks are strung out crossing the field or the gateway gaps of the secondary road crossing. Seeing his SS buddies being picked on, Captain Barkmann turns the long 75mm cannon barrel and destroys the two 1st Platoon Shermans in the field. Sergeant Pool survived but with no local M4a1 Sherman to hop into, has to walk out of the battlefield for another ride. The crazy Sherman driver, seeing his two platoon buddy tanks burning, hits the reverse gear and exits the battlefield (failed platoon morale). After flaming the two Shermans, Barkmann calmly orders his crew to prepare the paint pots to paint the barrel kill rings after the battle. Nice of the American tankers to lay a smoke cloud for a battle breather.
Turn Ten: Scenario nearing the end so the American need to apply maximum pressure and survive. 2nd Platoon advances to draw the fire from the nasty Panther while the Company commander bogs his M4a1 on the last hedgerow. With 1st Platoon destroyed, the 3rd Platoon must carry the advance and arrives near the farmhouse. 2nd Platoon misses the SS panzergrenadiers so fires the last shots at the Panther with smoke shells. Any pink paint shells (“remembering Oddball’s special paint shells in Kelly’s Heroes)? Bushing up on the SS tank commander’s manual…. Barkmann’s gunner makes two nice holes in the 2nd Platoon Shermans. Two more flamers and the third finds reverse gear like the 1st platoon’s last tank. So two American platoons accounted for so time to face the last enemy platoon. Quick stormtrooper movement turns the deadly Panther A to face the advancing American Detroit steel. Meanwhile, seeing that the farmhouse is great cover from the Normandy summer rains, the SS panzergrenadiers break camp and quickly jog towards the farmhouse.
Turn Eleven: American reaction is swift. One American Sherman crashes through the gateway and lines up a quick gun stabilizer firing on the Panther’s flank. Two shots…. one hits… the Panther armor ricochet the 75mm shell with a high d6 roll. Company commander tells his crew to un-bog the Sherman or they will be foot soldiers next week. They spring into action and the Sherman crosses the last hedgerow, turns the farmhouse corner….and sees jogging SS panzergrenadiers. The 3rd Platoon commander sees the same jogging SS panzergrenadiers so both Shermans open fire with their co-ax machine guns. Fools and totally surprised, four teams of SS are cut down. Only their stunned platoon’s leadership survive for the moment.
Captain Barkmann now has a brawling close range tank fight on his hands. When he finds that SS platoon leader later he will be reminded why Barkmann saved his “West front ass” since he failed his sole survivor morale roll.. Well, he wasn’t made a SS captain for nothing. Brewing up one 3rd platoon Sherman, he watches another Sherman crew bail out after seeing a new porthole appear in their tank turret. Barkmann taps his driver to reverse stormtrooper to engage the American tankers with some room to maneuver. Daniel has one more American turn to win this scenario.
Turn Twelve: Fur ball for action. The 3rd Platoon Shermans cross the gateway and roar into the open ground near the farmhouse, one Sherman making its way to Barkmann’s exposed flank. The Dog Company commander orders his driver to steer for the exposed Panther flank and rear while the 3rd Platoon commander tries to smoke the Panther A (failed). Two Shermans…. firing four gun stabilized shots into the Panther’s flank armor. One hits and the Panther armor save fails…. just a firepower check roll and Daniel wins the scenario. The drum roll….. a two is rolled (needed 3+ d6 to destroy the panther) so Captain Barkmann’s crew is rattled and bailed. Americans are winning the scenario still if Captain Barkmann cannot rally his valiant crew and remount their tank….. Calmly his loyal crew remount their Panther A, load several 7.5cm KwK42 L/70 shells and turn two exposed Shermans into funeral pyres. Testing American platoon morale, they fail but the Dog Company commander orders the two surviving 3rd Platoon tanks to hold fast. Barkmann Panther A needs to finish his stormtrooper movement as the scenario closing curtain descends with Captain Barkmann’s Panther A contesting the objective with the stunned Americans. A German scenario win since the American didn’t have complete control of the objective marker placed besides the farmhouse.
Scenario end and summary: Almost a repeat from our first play of Barkmann’s Corner. Very quick scenario with the final game turn determining the winner in both games. Daniel played a commendable game and almost pulled a victory. German losses: The entire SS panzergrenadier platoon and some paintwork on Barkmann’s panther. American losses: Two complete tank platoons (1st and 2nd), and three tanks from 3rd Platoon. The 2iC was removed with the rump of 2nd platoon.
Even Daniel can smile after that scenario gameplay. Some historical photos to close out this AAR. The real Captain Ernst Barkmann and Staff Sergeant Lafayette Pool, both who survived the war with injures.
Cheers again from the Panther lurking hedgerows of Normandy. WR P.S. Next AAR should be on this weekend’s 28mm napoleonic random scenario strength generation game. Cannot give any details now… some club gaming Frenchmen may be reading this blog post tonight.