Valmontone Italy 1944 is a straight forward Flames of War (FOW) scenario taken from their Italy Battles book (or use the original .pdf from BF). Subject of WR’s previous Valmontone 1944 blog post, the scenario is an American assault to seize control of a vital Italian highway and cut off the possible retreat route for the German Cassino front divisions. Players can use the pre-generated scenario forces: US 3rd Division with attachments vs. defending components of the Herman Goring Panzer Division, or construct your own pointed forces from the Dogs & Devils, or the Fortress Italy and Road to Rome supplements with approximately 2,000 points per side.
The scenario plays to FOW form with lots of quick action and typical force reduction on both sides. This after action report (AAR) parades the two forces prior to the scenario deployment and tabletop terrain then a brief overview of the player chosen deployment. Team American was played by WR’s son Daniel. His opposite number was Dan M., a long-term friend of WR and fellow gamer in multiple wargaming periods. Both players are somewhat novices in Flames of War but Dan has lots of wargaming experience and a veteran. Like many of FOW pre-packaged scenarios the weather was the perfect sunny Italian day… just like the local weather outside the warren.
Previous pre-game blog post for Valmontone Italy 1944.
With the terrain placed on the scenario 6′ by 4′ tabletop, both sides then placed their platoons, German side first, then the Americans. Prepared positions rule in effect so both sides can start the scenario in dug-in positions… foxholes and silt trenches for the battery crews. The German pioneer truck placed a 8″x 2″ minefield across the central roadway covered by the German 7.5cm PaK40 and panzer grenadier platoon position.
Should be noted that WR kept to the actual FOW dimensional design size for this scenario. Sometimes, if platoon heavy, WR increases the tabletop width by 25% to account for the wider basing used with 20mm scale miniatures, The tabletop depth normally remains the designed scenario dimension. Terrain comments for the reader…. the woods hiding the American Company HQ are basic area woods. Hedges are low, tanks and other vehicles can fire across but considered concealed if the LOS crosses the hedge. Difficult ground is actual slow going rating… no LOS issues or concealment but reduced speed (8″ max) for tanks. Standard buildings. For some reason WR forgot to place the vineyard on the tabletop.
Starting the German deployment description Dan M. has the 15cm NW41 rocket launcher battery placed in their left corner, the 7.5cm Pak40 platoon with panzer grenadier platoon across the central roadway and near building. Pioneer supply truck provided the mines for the small roadway minefield before the panzer grenadier platoon.
On the opposite corner placed the Aufklarungs Wespe battery while the HG pioneer platoon lines the forward hedge line. German company HQ is placed just off picture at left. The mixed Panzer IVH / IIIM and StuG G reserve platoons are off table and roll their arrival using the Reserve rule. Entrance is via highway entrance on either side of the tabletop.
The American starting deployments. Daniel sort of weighted his left by deploying the Armored 105mm Priest battery, the Sherman M4a1 platoon, and the Armored rifle platoon in their halftracks. Centered on the roadway was the Rifle platoon with Company HQ placed in the nearby woods.
American deployment on their right shows the M5a1 Stuart tank platoon and the remaining Assault pioneer rifle rated platoon. Both sides placed their attached artillery observer teams in forward positions to spot / range in their batteries.
Turn One: Americans move first. On the left the Sherman M4a1 roared forward and, after bogging tests, cross the hedge. The Armored rifle platoon in their M3a1 halftracks drove around the open hedge end and followed the Shermans. With 75mm shells and machine guns, the American vehicles raked the German observer hiding in the building cellar with no effect. One Sherman fired upon the exposed Wespe distant in the German side corner. The M7 Priest battery fired their bombardment towards the German dug-in PaK40 platoon and panzer grenadiers behind the minefield. They ranged in but only pinned the German defenders.
On the American right flank the same movements. M5a1 Stuarts gunned their motors forward rounding the open hedge end. The American assault rifle platoon started walking forward behind the fast-moving Stuarts. Seeing the low 7.5cm PaK cannon, the Stuarts opened fire with their 37mm cannon and machine guns. Several hits but the German stayed low in their silt trenches and suffered no ill effects. As mentioned, M7 Priest 105mm shells landed among the dug-in Germans, pinning them in their foxholes.
American turn finished, the Germans react. Unpinning from the M7 Priest bombardment and firepower of the Stuarts, the German 7.5cm PaK crews aimed their long-barreled guns and opened fire. Quickly reloading their smoking breeches, the American Stuarts suffered heavy losses (3 brewed up). Observing the Stuarts from the nearby building, the 15cm NW41 rockets were directed upon the Stuarts, leaving another burning wreck. Passing the platoon morale, the surviving Stuart crew were still rattled, bailing out of their tank for the moment. No German reserves arrive this turn.
First turn done…. German have first blood by nearly destroying the M5a1 Stuart platoon for no loss. On the German right the HG Pioneer platoon stayed low in their foxholes while the Wespe battery failed to range in on the American parking lot besides the forward building. WR guesses their forward observer gave the wrong coordinates hiding deep in the building cellar.
Turn Two: Daniel, a bit stunned by the flaming Stuart barbecue, continued to press forward his attack on his left flank. The Shermans positioned themselves to multi-task the fox-holed Germans behind the hedge, sported a shot at the exposed Wespe battery, and engaged the sole visible German 7.5cm PaK40 cannon with direct smoke. One Wespe crew jumped out of their vehicle after seeing the thin armor get a new AP porthole. His AR rifle platoon rolled into position to disembark next turn as the H/T machine gunners added their firepower to the pinned German infantry. Only one German casualty result from the concentrated firepower but bullets and shells surely pinned the German infantry deep in their foxholes. The M7 Priest battery changed targets… to the German hedge hiding pioneers, but the three ranging attempts all failed to register in the same county.
On the battered American right flank the Assault rifle platoon pressed forward to destroy the NW41 RL battery and seize the out building. The sole remaining Stuart passed its survivor morale test and engaged the German A/T cannon to little effect. The central American rifle platoon moves into the center woods, preparing to assault the German observer and forward panzer grenadier platoon teams.
Dan, surprised that the Sherman didn’t finish off his exposed Wespe battery last turn, opened direct fire on the M4a1 Shermans. Should note that Dan’s roll on 2xd6 fail to announce the arrival of his reserve armor platoons. One Sherman was destroyed from the 10.5cm shell penetrating the frontal armor. Unpinning themselves from the torrent of American firepower the German pioneer platoon stays well underground.
Out left the German 7.5cm PaK40 make nice holes in the surviving Stuart, forcing the crew to bail out again. They passed the double bail resulting morale test. German defending infantry fire (MG teams) rake the exposed American assault rifle platoon behind the burning Stuarts. One American team tip forward into the Italian ground, not to rise again. Turn two ends with little new losses for either side but the Americans have moved forward to assault range.
Turn Three: As the Armored rifle platoon jump out of their M3a1 halftracks the Sherman fire 75mm shells into the hiding German pioneers. One Sherman fires and brews up the same Wespe given its new view window last turn. Two other Shermans keep the 7.5cm PaK40 well smoked. After calling the M7 Priest commander unprintable names… the M7 crews landed their shells on the German pioneer platoon. No losses but again well pinned before the forthcoming Armored rifle platoon assault.
Right flank has the Assault rifle platoon bravely advancing against the German defense. The plucky Stuart crew keep re-manning their pile of junk scrap and engage the German A/T cannon, with no effect. Two American infantry teams fire at the exposed NW41 crew… two hits… but the brave launcher crew passed their 5+ save roll twice. Next time fire at the explosive rockets muttered the sergeant.
Assault phase. The American armored rifle platoon charge forward into the building (to clear the German observer team) and over the German defended hedge. German defensive fire was weak but deadly with three hits… killing two teams. The American grenade and rifle butt reply promptly removed two German pioneer teams from their army while the observer team was stuffed permanently into the cellar.
While the building and forward hedge position was cleared, the central American rifle platoon next charge into the center woods and assault the German outposts. German defensive fire drops one team. Like the other assault the Americans quickly remove the German NW41 observer and one panzer grenadier team from the German army.
American turn done… time for the Germans to basically fire a lot of bullets…. and cause little damage. What armor reserves muttered Dan?… 3xd6 fail to roll any 5+ results. So clearing away the old burning Stuart wrecks, the last one falls apart from the 7.5cm PaK40 shellfire. Another valiant Assault rifle platoon team pitches into the Italian ground from the firing of the Panzer grenadier platoon team machine guns. The NW41 rockets find the regrouping Americans in the central woods a tempting target, inflicting two more team losses. Pushing the heavy Pak40 cannon from the smoke cloud fired by the Shermans, the lone Pak40 failed to hit the exposed Shermans. Wespe 10.5cm shells seek the innards of the Shermans but only bails one crew. The surviving Pioneer platoon retreat down the hedge a bit to get away from the AR platoon firmly holding their portion of the hedge.
Note: Normally FOW retains the burning smoking tank wrecks on the tabletop. WR plays they last only one full turn after destruction then are removed unless in a narrow passage restricted position.
Turn Four: With half the scenario time complete Dan needs to quicken his control of either objective. The Sherman open the ball by shooting up the PaK40 platoon crews and causing two cannon loss. Lots of AR rifle and carbine fire pin the German pioneer platoon further down the shared property hedge. The M7 Priest battery range in on the surviving Pak40 cannon position, pinning it and the nearby panzer grenadiers. The central woods American rifle platoon, recovered from the rocket bombardment last turn, surge from the woods and cross the hedge lining the roadway. They close in on the bombarded panzer grenadiers dazed by the M7 Priest 105mm shells.
Right flank hears track sounds…. The Assault rifle platoon prepare their building assault and shoot down that exposed NW41 rocket crew with a boom. They assault the building but the waiting panzer grenadiers and their MG42 cause six hits…. the assault ends is repulsed before reaching the doorway with light (one team) loss.
Not a good omen thinks Daniel as he charges forward into the panzer grenadiers with the his center Rifle platoon. MG42 bark their static ripping sound along with Mauser rifles. Four hits and two teams drop dead on the ground. Brutal hand to hand combat with bayonets, rifle butts, bullets and grenades issues forth. Several rounds of back and forth assault combat leaves only the German panzer grenadier command team as sole survivor. Bodies; dazed, wounded or killed litter the broken roadway ground along with the former three PaK40 cannon. The possible Iron Cross winner soon felt the severe loss and decamped from the battlefield. Both sides now have nothing living in the scenario tabletop center.
Can Dan roll four d6 without a 5+ on any of the dice? The Reserve arrival roll is made and one platoon arrives. Dan selects the mixed PzIII / IV panzer platoon and they arrive on the left road entrance near the NW41 RL battery. Those track sounds heard by the Assault rifle platoon become real German “Tigers”…. really lowly PzIV G and PzIII M. They drive up behind the low hedge and start machine gunning the exposed Americans. To add insult…. the NW41 RL battery ranges in and drops 15cm rockets on the same hapless Americans. Five valiant teams are machine-gunned or blasted by white-hot rocket shards, dying in place on the Italian countryside. The surviving rest promptly see the twinkling lights and big boom show and scatter back to the safety of the American lines. That ends any American issues or infiltration on the German left flank.
On the active German right the Wespes are still here…. they destroy another M4a1 Sherman landing a big 10.5cm shell on the American kisser. Both sides infantry look weary and tired.
Turn Five: Now or never says Daniel. Firing the Sherman 75mm and advancing AR rifle teams, the defending German pioneers are again pinned down. The M7 Priests failed to range in to add their weight of shells to the mix. Seeing no bombardment, the AR lieutenant charges forward leading his fighting men into the German foxholes. German defensive fire was wildly inaccurate causing no loss. The American make short work of one German pioneer team. The remaining German pioneers sulk away from the fight leaving the losses limited to the one German team. The frustrated Americans recover their wits and dive back over the hedge as the nearby German armored vehicles cut lose their vehicle machine guns.
Last German Reserve arrival roll… five d6 dice. Yep, Dan can one at least one 5+ result so the last German reserve platoon arrives. A German StuG III G assault gun platoon. They roll in, and with the Wespe AAMG, machine gun the American AR platoon. Many hits but Daniel saved all but one team roll. Dan’s battered pioneer platoon rallied and dig into the ground again near the objective marker on the highway.
Having no enemy nearby, the Panzers roll forward along the highway seeking to engage the Sherman platoon on turn six. The NW41 RL battery cannot find their observers on the telephone…. the line is dead for the central woods position outpost.
Turn Six: Properly the last turn as the American position is looking bleak. Two options think Daniel…1) charge the German pioneer platoon, take the objective then die in place from all the roaming German vehicle machine guns…or 2) blast the same platoon with rifle fire and M7 105mm bombardment, hoping to destroy one platoon while the Shermans engage the approaching German armor. Option one chosen. The AR platoon blasts the battered pioneers again. The M7 Priest battery ranges in to add their heavy 105mm shells. A pioneer team is dead and the resulting platoon morale test (under 50% strength) sends the pioneers packing from the battlefield, even after the German company CinC tries his extra rally roll. The Sherman destroy an StuG III G while the lowly AR 37mm cannon brews up a Wespe.
The German reply…. The Panzer IV and III’s advance into cannon range. They rip apart the open ground M4a1 Shermans while the Mark III panzers cannon the American AR platoon. StuG cannon destroy the 37mm cannon while raking the hapless American hedge hugging infantry. Wespes fire a concentrated bombardment blasting another two teams. The white bed sheet flag goes up when American company morale test fails leaving the tabletop to the German side.
Quick play scenario. With only six turns the Americans need to advance quickly and use their firepower. Daniel had a fair plan of attack, weighting the left flank. WR suggests (assuming the German defense remains the same) maybe a slightly more shifting towards the left. Move the Assault rifle platoon to attack down the central roadway, led by the CinC and two bazooka teams, join with the 2nd Rifle platoon clearing the woods. The 2inC joins the AR platoon which has the Stuarts and Shermans roaring towards the German right corner, the nearby objective being the final target. The Wespes would have been destroyed quickly by the ten American tanks, who then support the AR into the German pioneer position. The M7 Priests bombard either the entrenched 7.5cm PaK platoon and panzer grenadiers with shells or bombard the targeted German pioneer platoon. Later in the scenario they can drive forward to directly engage the late arriving German armor. When the German armor arrives the combined American tanks engage them to protect the AR platoon near the right objective.
The German defense was solid. One platoon to cover each objective and the 7.5cm PaK cannon can cover either objective if placed slightly further back behind the woods. The minefield may have been placed closer to the objectives or used to channel the American tanks. Wespe and NW41 RL batteries placed in the corners seemed right but maybe the Wespes can be used to target the AR platoon with direct fire before they are destroyed by the American tank platoons. Depending on the delay for the German reserve armor platoons, they arrive to counter the massed American assault force directly and hopefully save the objective before the defending platoon is crushed.
Both Dan and Daniel enjoyed the scenario. Hopefully other gamers reading this WR blog finds enjoyment playing this scenario.
Cheers from the warren,