Valmontone Italy – May 1944

This Flames of War Valmontone scenario is set in Italy during May 1944. General Clark, Commander US 5th Army has launched his breakout of the Anzio enclave, directing his breakout spearheads towards the Alban Hills and distant Rome. Task force Howze and the US 3rd Division are ordered to seize Highway Route 6 from the arriving elements of the Herman Goring Panzer Division. Highway Route 6 is a major German reinforcement and supply highway and route of retreat for the German 10th Armee from the Cassino front.

Scenario map and terrain notes. 6 foot by 4 foot tabletop girded off in one foot squares. American and German deployment zones marked for each side. Two objective marked positions A and B. Basic woods, vineyard, hedges, and difficult ground (slow going) area zones. For the actual scenario game it was a “Battle of the Dan’s.” Dan M. commanded the defensive Germans and Daniel took control of the advancing Americans in this novice player game. WR acted as the umpire and kept busy studying his FOW rules during the tabletop play.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6'x4' tabletop.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6’x4′ tabletop.

The American and German forces are found in Battlefront’s Flames of War (FOW) supplement Dogs & Devils or the later versions Road to Rome and Fortress Italy. The complete Valmontone scenario can also be found in Italy Battles booklet, posted file on the internet, or click on this (.pdf) link. Valmontone Scenario notes.  These scenario notes provide the set up, terrain comments, victory conditions, and German reserve platoons reinforcement arrival. The mentioned platoon point valuation [ xx pts.] below come from the Dogs & Devils supplement.

American and German platoons used in scenario. American on left, Germans on right.

American and German platoons used in scenario. American on left, Germans on right.

Valmontone 1944 American roster. Breakdown of each platoon in text.

Valmontone 1944 American roster. Actual team breakdown of each platoon in text below. Total American force points is 1995.

Company HQ [80 pts.]: Company Cmd carbine team, 2iC Cmd carbine team with two bazooka teams.

Assault platoon [285 pts.]: Cmd pioneer rifle team, bazooka team, 10x pioneer rifle teams.

Rifle platoon [220 pts.]: Cmd pioneer rifle team, bazooka team, 10x rifle teams.

Tank platoon [450 pts.]: Command Sherman (M4 or M4a1) and four Shermans (M4 or M4a1).

Light tank platoon [310 pts.]: Cmd M5a1 Stuart and four M5a1 Stuarts.

Armored rifle platoon [310 pts.]: Cmd rifle team, 5x rifle teams, 4x bazooka teams, M2 60mm mortar team, 2x M1919 LMG teams, M3 37mm A/T gun, M3 H/T w/ 50cal AA MG, 4x M3 H/T w/AA MG.

Armored Field Artillery battery [420 pts.]: Cmd carbine team, Staff team, Observer team, 2x Jeeps, M2 or M3 H/T w/50cal AA MG, 6x M7 Priest HMC.

For the German forces we use a Herman Goring Schere Aufklarungs command as the basis for the Teutonic defenders.

Valmontone 1944 Herman Goring (German) roster. Platoon breakdown in text.

Valmontone 1944 Herman Goring (German) roster. Platoon team breakdown in text below. total German force points is 1935.

Herman Goring (HG) Company HQ [130 pts.]: Company Cmd SMG team, 2iC Cmd SMG team, 3x panzerschreck teams, Kfz 15 Field car, motorcycle w/ sidecar, Kfz 70 truck. Note; two of the panzerschreck teams were detached out to the two infantry platoons.

HG Motorized Pioneer platoon [230 pts.]: Cmd pioneer panzerknacker SMG team, 6x pioneer rifle/MG teams, Pioneer supply 3-ton truck.

HG Aufklarungs Artillery battery [310 pts.]: Cmd SMG team, Observer team, Kfz 15 field car, 4x Wespe.

HG Anti Tank Gun platoon [180 pts.]: Cmd SMG team, 3x 7.5cm PaK40 guns.

HG Panzergrenadier platoon [220 pts.]: Cmd panzerknacker SMG team, 6x MG teams, Kfz 15 field car, 3x Kfz 70 trucks.

Rocket Launcher battery [220 pts.]:  Cmd SMG team, 2x Observer teams, 2x Kubelwagens, 6x 15cm NW41 RL or 6x 21cm NW42 RL.

German Reserve platoons (see notes below on arrival):

HG Assault Gun platoon [295 pts.]: Cmd Stug G, 2x Stug G assault guns.

HG Panzer platoon [350 pts.]: Cmd Panzer IV H, Panzer IV H, 2x Panzer III M tanks.

Reserve platoons arrive on scenario designated highway entrance points (see scenario map and player choice) starting on turn one. Roll d6. If a 5+ is rolled one platoon (player choice has arrived and enters the scenario tabletop. On turn two roll 2xd6. If either roll has 5+ then one or two platoons can enter the scenario. Turn three roll 3x d6….. continuing with this increasing number of dice rolled till all reserve platoons have entered the scenario tabletop.

All American and Germans platoons start the scenario in prepared positions except the two reserve German platoons which enter the scenario via one of the highway entrance points.

Victory conditions slightly vary between the Italy Battles supplement and the original BF posted web version. The original scenario didn’t have the case (b) condition below. Battle ends on or after turn six when either:

a.  The US player has taken any objective at the start of their turn or,

b.  The German player starts any of their turns from turn six onwards with no US teams within 16″ of the scenario objectives (Italy Battles).

Complete scenario notes, victory conditions and starting setup instructions: Valmontone Scenario notes.

IMG_7266

Scenario table set up and the starting forces deployed for the scenario game. Scenario AAR post to follow. Americans on left, Germans and Highway Route 6 at right. Table is 6′ by 4′ size.

Two Valmontone Italy 1944 AAR write-ups can be read to see how the scenario plays out.

Valmontone Italy 1944 AAR and Valmontone Italy 1944 Revisted.

Some basic background material leading up to the Valmontone scenario (via Wikipedia).

Anzio and Cassino sectors May 1994 showing American British attacks.

Anzio and Cassino sectors May 1994 showing American British attacks.

After the winter battles both sides had realised that no decisive result could be achieved until the spring 1944 and reverted to a defensive posture involving aggressive patrolling and artillery duels whilst they worked to rebuild their fighting capabilities. In anticipation of the following spring, Field Marshal Kesselring ordered the preparation of a new defence line, the Caesar C line (green line on above map), behind the line of beachhead running from the mouth of the river Tiber just south of Rome through Albano, skirting south of the Alban Hills to Valmontone and across Italy to the Adriatic coast at Pescara, behind which 14th Army (around Anzio) and, to their left, 10th Army (Cassino front) might withdraw when the need arose. Meanwhile, General Lucian Truscott, who had been promoted from the command of U.S. 3rd Infantry Division to replace General Lucas as commander of VI Corps on February 22, worked with his staff on the plans for a decisive attack as part of a general offensive which General Alexander was planning for May and which would include a major offensive on the Gustav Line, Operation Diadem. The objective of the plan was to fully engage Kesselring’s armies with a major offensive and remove any prospect of the Germans withdrawing forces from Italy to redeploy elsewhere. It was also intended to trap the bulk of the German 10th Army between the Allied forces advancing through the Gustav Line and VI Corps thrusting inland from Anzio.

Despite General Alexander’s overall plan for Operation Diadem requiring VI Corps to strike inland and cut Route 6, General Clark asked General Truscott to prepare alternatives and to be ready to switch from one to another at 48 hours’ notice. Of the four scenarios prepared by Truscott, two became effective during the May 1944 battles. Operation Buffalo called for an attack through Cisterna, into the gap in the hills and to cut Route 6 at Valmontone. Operation Turtle on the other hand foresaw a main thrust to the left of the Alban Hills taking Campoleone, Albano and on to Rome. On May 5, Alexander selected Operation Buffalo and issued Clark with orders to this effect.

At 05:45 on 23 May 1944, 1,500 Allied artillery pieces commenced bombardment. Forty minutes later the guns paused as attacks were made by close air support and then resumed as the infantry and armour moved forward. The first day’s fighting was intense: 1st Armored Division lost 100 tanks and 3rd Infantry Division suffered 955 casualties, the highest single day figure for any U.S. division during World War II. The Germans suffered too, with 362nd Infantry Division estimated to have lost 50% of its fighting strength.

General von Mackensen (14th Armee) had been convinced that the Allies’ main thrust would be up the Via Anziate, and the ferocity of the British feint on 23 May and 24 May did nothing to persuade him otherwise. Kesselring, however, was convinced that the Allies’ intentions were to gain Highway Route 6 and ordered the Hermann Göring Panzer Division, resting 150 miles (240 km) away at Livorno, to Valmontone sector to hold open Highway Route 6 for the German Tenth Army, which was retreating up this road from Cassino battlefront.

Anzio breakout towards Rome. Valmontone sector upper right corner of map.

Anzio breakout towards Rome. Valmontone sector upper right corner of map.

In the afternoon of 25 May Cisterna finally fell to 3rd Division who had to go house to house winking out the German 362nd Infantry which had refused to withdraw and, as a consequence, had virtually ceased to exist by the end of the day. By the end of May 25, 3rd Infantry were heading into the Velletri gap near Cori, and elements of 1st Armored had reached within 3 miles (4.8 km) of Valmontone and were in contact with units of the Herman Göring Panzer Division which were just starting to arrive from Leghorn. Although VI Corps had suffered over 3,300 casualties in the three days fighting, Operation Buffalo was going to plan, and Truscott was confident that a concerted attack by 1st Armored and 3rd Infantry Divisions the next day would get his troops astride Highway Route 6. On the evening of 25 May Truscott received new orders from Clark via his Operations Officer, Brigadier General Don Brand. These were, in effect, to implement Operation Turtle and turn the main line of attack ninety degrees to the left. Most importantly, although the attack towards Valmontone and Route 6 would continue, 1st Armored were to withdraw to prepare to exploit the planned breakthrough along the new line of attack leaving 3rd Division to continue towards Valmontone with 1st Special Service Force in distant support. Clark informed Alexander of these developments late in the morning of May 26 by which time the change of orders was a fait accompli.

At the time, Truscott was shocked, writing later “…I was dumbfounded. This was no time to drive to the north-west where the enemy was still strong; we should pour our maximum power into the Valmontone Gap to insure the cut off and destruction of the retreating German Army. I would not comply with the order without first talking to General Clark in person. …However he was not on the beachhead and could not be reached even by radio…. such was the order that turned the main effort of the beachhead forces from the Valmontone Gap and prevented destruction of the German Tenth Army. On the 26th the order was put into effect.” He went on to write “There has never been any doubt in my mind that had General Clark held loyally to General Alexander’s instructions, had he not changed the direction of my attack to the north-west on May 26, the strategic objectives of Anzio would have been accomplished in full. To be first in Rome was a poor compensation for this lost opportunity”.

On 26 May, whilst VI Corps was initiating its difficult maneuver, Kesselring threw elements of 4 divisions into the Velletri gap to stall the advance on Route 6. For four days they slugged it out against 3rd Division until finally withdrawing on May 30, having kept Route 6 open and allowed 7 divisions from German 10th Army to withdraw from the Cassino battlefront and head north of Rome.

On the new axis of attack little progress was made until 1st Armored were in position on May 29, when the front advanced to the main Caesar C Line defences. Nevertheless, an early breakthrough seemed unlikely until on May 30 Major-General Fred Walker’s 36th Division found a gap in the Caesar Line at the join between 1st Parachute Corps and LXXVI Panzer Corps. Climbing the steep slopes of Monte Artemisio they threatened Velletri from the rear and obliged the defenders to withdraw. This was a key turning point, and von Mackensen offered his resignation which Kesselring accepted.

Raising the pressure further, Clark assigned U.S. II Corps which, fighting its way along the coast from the Cassino Gustav Line, had joined up with VI Corps on May 25 to attack around the right hand side of the Alban Hills and advance along the line of Route 6 to Rome.

On 2 June the Caesar Line collapsed under the mounting pressure, and German 14th Armee commenced a fighting withdrawal through Rome. On the same day Hitler, fearing another Battle of Stalingrad, had ordered Kesslering that there should be “no defence of Rome”. Over the next day, the rear guards were gradually overwhelmed, and Rome was entered in the early hours of June 4 with Clark holding an impromptu press conference on the steps of the Town Hall on the Capitoline Hill that morning. He ensured the event was a strictly American affair by stationing military police at road junctions to refuse entry to the city by British military personnel. General Clark and US 5th Army fame lasted for one day, till the invasion of Normandy was announced to the American newspapers on June 6th.

Valmontone 1944 scenario AAR in process of write up this week.

Cheers from the warren.

WR

Stuff you can find on the Internet….

THE AMBUSH AT VALMONTONE: PRIVATES CHRISTIAN & JOHNSON (JUNE 2-3,1944)

On June 2-3, 1944 near Valmontone, Italy, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division‘s 15th Infantry Regiment were ambushed by a German mixed infantry and armor force. Two of the men caught in the ambush – both privates – on their own initiative sacrificed their own lives in lone attacks that diverted the enemy’s attention and allowed their comrades to escape.

Their names were Herbert F. Christian and Elden H. Johnston. Both men posthumously received the Medal of Honor (MOH). Herbert F. Christian was a 30 year-old retail manager in Steubenville, Ohio when he was inducted into the United States Army on November 24, 1942. Elden H. Johnson was born in New Jersey and living in East Weymouth, Massachusetts when he was drafted at age 22 on April 28, 1943.

From Medal of Honor Citations: Herbert F. Christian

Herbert Christian MOH

Herbert F. Christian MOH

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private Herbert F. Christian (ASN: 35592775), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company E, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in action at Valmontone, Italy. On 2 – 3 June 1944, at 1 a.m., Private Christian elected to sacrifice his life in order that his comrades might extricate themselves from an ambush. Braving massed fire of about 60 riflemen, three machineguns, and three tanks from positions only 30 yards distant, he stood erect and signaled to the patrol to withdraw. The whole area was brightly illuminated by enemy flares. Although his right leg was severed above the knee by cannon fire, Private Christian advanced on his left knee and the bloody stump of his right thigh, firing his submachine gun. Despite excruciating pain, Private Christian continued on his self-assigned mission. He succeeded in distracting the enemy and enabled his twelve comrades to escape. He killed three enemy soldiers almost at once. Leaving a trail of blood behind him, he made his way forward 20 yards, halted at a point within ten yards of the enemy, and despite intense fire killed a machine-pistol man. Reloading his weapon, he fired directly into the enemy position. The enemy appeared enraged at the success of his ruse, concentrated 20-mm machinegun, machine-pistol and rifle fire on him, yet he refused to seek cover. Maintaining his erect position, Private Christian fired his weapon to the very last. Just as he emptied his submachine gun, the enemy bullets found their mark and Private Christian slumped forward dead. The courage and spirit of self-sacrifice displayed by this soldier were an inspiration to his comrades and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 43, May 30, 1945

Action Date: June 02 & 3, 1944

Service: Army

Rank: Private

Company: Company E

Regiment: 15th Infantry Regiment

Division: 3d Infantry Division

 

From Medal of Honor Citations: Elden H. Johnson

Elden H. Johnson MOH

Elden H. Johnson MOH

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private Elden Harvey Johnson (ASN: 31353962), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 3 June 1944, while serving with Company H, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in action at Valmontone, Italy. Private Johnson elected to sacrifice his life in order that his comrades might extricate themselves from an ambush. Braving the massed fire of about 60 riflemen, three machineguns, and three tanks from positions only 25 yards distant, he stood erect and signaled his patrol leader to withdraw. The whole area was brightly illuminated by enemy flares. Then, despite 20-mm. machineguns, machine pistol, and rifle fire directed at him, Private Johnson advanced beyond the enemy in a slow deliberate walk. Firing his automatic rifle from the hip, he succeeded in distracting the enemy and enabled his 12 comrades to escape. Advancing to within five yards of a machinegun, emptying his weapon, Private Johnson killed its crew. Standing in full view of the enemy he reloaded and turned on the riflemen to the left, firing directly into their positions. He either killed or wounded four of them. A burst of machinegun fire tore into Private Johnson and he dropped to his knees. Fighting to the very last, he steadied himself on his knees and sent a final burst of fire crashing into another German. With that he slumped forward dead. Private Johnson had willingly given his life in order that his comrades might live. These acts on the part of Private Johnson were an inspiration to the entire command and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 38 (May 16, 1945)

Action Date: 3-Jun-44

Service: Army

Rank: Private

Company: Company H

Regiment: 15th Infantry Regiment

Division: 3d Infantry Division

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Valmontone Italy – May 1944

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s