Bolt Action in San Pietro 1944

At the monthly St. Crispin game day (2nd saturday every month), WR joined Dan and Andy at their invitation to play in a 28mm Bolt Action Italian scenario. WR has seen this popular game played in recent years at HMGS-PSW conventions and Aero Hobbies on their 1st sunday meeting date. But, to date, never has pushed the lead… really plastic miniatures, tossed dice and discussed LOS issues in this fun WWII game. As a side benefit, WR would be able to use some of his Italian town buildings completed last year on the tabletop. So… to the action viewed by Sgt. PinPoint but first the scenario background from the St. Crispin Meetup blog:

Event Name: Skirmish at San Pietro – Italy 1944
Your Name: Dan Munson aka the GM
Event Start Time and Date: Sat., April 9, 10:00 am.
Number of Players: 4 – 6
Table Size: 6′ x 8′ (approx.)
A short 2-3 sentence description of the event: Tactical scenario set in Italy, 1944 (post fall of Rome). Allies (US and British) seek to drive German defenders from little village of San Pietro. Bolt Action rules system, with San Fernando Valley Wargamers modifications.

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A small Italian village called San Pietro, otherwise unknown to history. Terrain from Dan’s footlocker except for the four Italian buildings beyond the foreground white plaster building, the tall church, and stone walls are from WR’s collection.

In the front lines with Sgt. PinPoint, who will represent his view of the upcoming battle as “frontline” reporting. Sgt. PinPoint is part of the 46th Infantry Division, battling up the eastern side of the Italian peninsula late in 1944. He is the forward observer for his mortar team lugging about their 3″ mortar tube and extra mortar shells. He is, per his paybook, attached to the Mortar platoon, in the Support Company of 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) regiment, in the 139th Infantry Brigade, and part of 46th Division. His army career has been short, placed into the ranks mid 1942, and shipped out to the closing months of the North African campaign. There he was quickly promoted to sergeant after saving his lieutenants’ life during a german artillery barrage and assigned to the 3″ mortar company. Seems he had the knack for judging distance and angles…. to the detriment of the receiving Germans.

Turn One: Orders came down to clear the Italian village ahead alongside the A Company “Andy’s” Americans (his miniatures) to their right. Sgt. Pinpoint saw his infantry of 2nd company march in their loose squad columns abreast as they entered the open fields outside of the village, with armor support (Cromwell tank named “Alexandria”), a late arrival and without any briefing to the mission. So Lt. Youngstein ordered Sgt. PinPoint to brief the tank commander while riding towards the village, at the same time observing for his mortar team. Light clouds overhead, the morning action is pending the German response.

Note: British infantry company of two platoons played by WR: Platoon HQ has Lt, Piat, 2″ mortar team, and runner. Each platoon had three reduced squads of seven miniature each (Squad Ldr, Assistant Squad Ldr, 4x riflemen, Bren gunner). Attached was Vickers MMG team, the 3″ mortar team with FO (Sgt. PinPoint) and “Alexandria” starring as a Cromwell. 

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WR’s controlled British infantry company enters the tabletop. Loose line ahead formations with “Alexandria” named Cromwell tank in support.

Cautiously advancing, the British infantry kept their heads down and advanced in rushes. 1st Platoon advanced quickly around or atop the low-rise at left side of Alexandria, aiming  to enter the nearby light woods in front. 2nd Platoon advanced more cautiously at right of Alexandria, across open fields seeing the Italian village buildings ahead. No movement spotted yet… but all knew the village had German infantry stationed, backup up by rumored mechanized transport. Sgt. PinPoint ordered the 3″ mortar team to advance then set up behind the low-rise to his left along with the Vickers MMG team atop the rise.

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Sergeant Pinpoint positions himself behind the Cromwell turret. He is the FO for the attached 3″ mortar team in A company. Low rise off left with light woods beyond.

A single shot rings out…. sniper! The bullet ricocheted off the turret of Alexandria. Nice mutters Sgt. PinPoint, ducking behind the thick steel armor. Morning starts and I am the first target for the Germans!

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A german sniper opens fire on Sgt. Pinpoint from the high church tower.

Where did the shot come from?… the age-old question of men under sniper fire. Quick hand waving by nearby infantry seems to point at the church tower. Tank commander, after ducking into his turret, orders the Cromwell gunner to open fire on the belfry and ring some church bells. The 75mm shot sails though the tower opening… and beyond, landing some distance behind the German front lines. Still, spotted movement indicates a “what was that” look on some poor German soldier.

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2nd Platoon HQ squad spots the sniper up in the tower belfry and points him out.

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After Sgt. Pinpoint ducks, the tank commander tells the Cromwell gunner to ring the belfry bells with a 75mm shell. 2nd Platoon, 3rd squad advances alongside with Alexandria and Sgt. Pinpoint.

1st turn done, the radio comes to life with questions from Battalion HQ… what up? Have the Americans joined forces with you? Any German resistance? A lost Italian bird flies overhead and looks down…. gleaming better Intel of the unfolding action below (bird cam).

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Bird view: The British advance after the 1st turn. 1st Platoon climbs the low-rise while two squads quick march around the low-rise. 2nd Platoon cautiously advances above “Alexandria”.

Still the town seems too quiet.  German movements are hard to spot…. even from the bird’s point of view. Look closely… one German squad is rushing forward behind the low-rise at right between the woods. Two squads besides or in the red roof tiled buildings at center. Another German squad just finished church service behind the church.

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Germans are hard to spot. There are four squads in the picture.

Turn Two: German head activity spotted. Several coal shuttle helmets pop up behind the church stone wall. Another Cromwellian 75mm shell finds distant Italian earth behind the German lines. Suddenly two German MG42’s open fire…. dirt kicks up around the advancing 2nd Platoon along with bolt-action Mauser bullets for good measure. Three soldiers are hit in 1st squad of 2nd Platoon off to the far right, the rest hit the dirt and hug mother earth. Spotting the twinkling flashes… one is in the middle church window on the 2nd floor, the other in the red roof tiled two-story building in village center. Ok… Sgt. PinPoint shouts for his mortar team…. distance and angle.. ranging shot then FFE… fast math skills come into play learned by kicking soccer balls into the goal. Ranging shot thumps out of the tube… and lands square on the German squad leader’s helmet. Yep… WR’s ranging rolls for this day are very deadly. German player Dan is in for a long day at the gaming table. The MG42 team keeps firing upstairs but the dead German squad leader’s dispersed body causes his squad to hit the dirt or building floorboards (morale failure).

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2nd Platoon, 2nd and 3rd squads rush forward as 1st squad, off picture at right suffers losses.

1st Platoon keeps pushing forward in rushes. The 3rd squad joins 1st Platoon leadership on the low-rise for overwatch fire along with the Vickers MMG team. Germans spotted on the low-rise behind the light woods ahead. The 3″ mortar team remains behind the low-rise being directed by Sgt. Pinpoint still on Alexandria. The other two 1st Platoon squads form loose lines and advance towards the light woods before them. Meanwhile, 2nd Platoon, with exception of their hit 1st squad, rush forward and seek protection behind the low stone wall around the vegetable garden. Their 2nd Platoon leadership is running for the edge of the woods to view the German defenders occupying the red roof titled building. One german squad in building… cowering for the moment by the mortar bombardment of Sgt. PinPoint, but the MG42 team upstairs has a bead on the running 2nd Platoon HQ squad.

1st Platoon rush forward towards the light woods while 3rd squad performs overwatch from the low rise with the Vickers MMG team. 2nd Platoon seeks cover behind the low garden walls.

1st Platoon rush forward towards the light woods while 3rd squad performs overwatch from the low-rise with the Vickers MMG team. 2nd Platoon seeks cover behind the low garden walls.

German Mauser fire and the deadly MG42 cut down 2nd Platoon’s young but brave (bit foolhardy) Lieutenant Youngstein in mid stride. Seeing their leader drop dead before their eyes, the headquarters platoon soldiers stop in their track and fall face-first into the Italian countryside. German visible activity is limited. One squad lurks behind the low-rise facing the 1st Platoon. The German sniper gathers his wits after hearing two 75mm whiz by in his tower position. Drawing aim again… a bullet cracks off the armor of Alexandria again. Sgt. PinPoint ducks and thinks…. “that’s two… the third time could be the final ticket.” As he hides behind the armor he can see the American infantry advance far to the right. Their Springfield and M1 Garand rifles/carbines pepper the church tower with new chipped markings. A smoke round lands to conceal the American advance from the church wall defenders who open fire on the British 2nd Platoon… to no effect.

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Brave Lt, Youngstein dies leading his men when his platoon rush to cover behind the very low stone wall.

Turn Three: English losses are still light, unless you are Lt. Youngstein or a member of 2nd Platoon, 1st squad. Sgt. PinPoint sees the 2nd platoon squads crawl with butts low behind the very low stone garden wall. Occasionally a Lee-Enfield mkIV rifle fires a shot, or a quick burst from the Bren back at the Germans hiding in the church yard. That MG42 machine gun team has got to go mutters Sgt. PinPoint, peeking over the turret edge, he does his calculations for the red roof tiled building, then shouts to his 3″ mortar team who promptly lands a salvo on the actual MG 42 machine gun position. Scratch off that team for the battle. Dan is “wondering which mortar god” he pissed off lately…. while the pinned German squad downstairs sees daylight through the upstairs flooring, not an uplifting experience.

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Sgt. PinPoint, like his name, drops a uncorrected 3″ mortar salvo right on the MG42 team hiding on the 2nd floor.

German reaction was swift. The volume of rifle fire and MG42 from the church 2nd story increases towards the British 2nd Platoon. No losses but pin markers (stones) applied. The Americans are seen entering their woods to flank the church position while another smoke round drops to provide a screen.

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Close up of the mortar salvo landing on the red roof tile building. Note the five “pin stones” on the German squad in front.

Dan has to silence that FO…. he is ruining the German party planning. Between stone chipping moments by the American squads, his sniper takes careful aim on the bobbing head behind Alexandria’s turret. Crosshairs line up and trigger pulled. The sharp Mauser report renews the volume of American firing at the tower with the Vickers MMG team joining in. The measurement team is sent onto the battlefield for the determination…. Sgt. PinPoint feels the lights go out and slumps to the engine deck.

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Sniper measurement team in action. It’s a score…. Sgt. PinPoint is hit.

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The 3″ mortar teams sees Sgt. PinPoint hit by the German sniper fire. The Vickers MMG opens fire on the church position, including the tower while 1st Platoon, 3rd squad crests the low-rise.

While Sgt. PinPoint slumps on Alexandria, the rest of 2nd Platoon crawls up behind their defensive positions. En mass, they top the low stone wall and open fire on the Germans behind the church stone wall, inflicting several looses among the coal shuttle helmets. A crazy jeep team drives down the roadway and pulls to a stop. The .30 cal Browning 1919 opens up on the surprised Germans, adding in their volume of bullets.

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Two squads of 2nd Platoon open fire on the Germans near the church along with the crazy American jeep team on the roadway.

With Sgt. PinPoint out of action, the field report narrative is taken up by the surviving Lt. Patonback (Pat-on-back) of 1st Platoon. Positioned on the low-rise before the woods, his view of the battlefield is a bit obstructed. The Germans have advanced one squad to the center low-rise, engaging his 1st Platoon with their squad MG42. From there they open fire on the advance 1st Platoon squads who give reply in their turns. Causing no loss either side, but several pin stones given out. Lt. Patonback calls down to the 3″ mortar team behind the hill. Can you redirect the tube on the church while his 2″ mortar team shells the low-rise hill?

No problem… 3″ mortar shells immediately hit the German squad stationed behind the church wall. Three for three on their ranging shots… finding German helmets every time. Their smaller cousin, the 2″ mortar team with Lt. Patonback on the first low-rise, drop shells on the exposed German squad on the low-rise. Soon another MG42 team is departing this scenario.

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The German squad occupies the low-rise and opens fire on the advancing squads of 1st Platoon. But is soon shelled by the English 2″ mortar, losing their MG42 team.

Thinking better of their situation, the German squad in the red roof tiled house back away from the “terrible English mortar”, watching their fellow soldiers getting thumped by mortar shells across the road.

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Morale fails as the German squad evacuates the red roof tiled building. Another squad enters the nearby light woods to back up the German squad on the low-rise.

So, what are those mentioned American doing during the English actions? The American company of two platoons of three squads rapidly crossed the open fields and entered the woods between them and the church position. Rifle fire peppered the German held church tower. Their 81mm mortar been dropping smoke shells to assist their advance. Later on their crazy jeep (with now dead driver) and Stuart tank drove up the road to link the two allies.

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American situation viewpoint as of turn three. American squads advance into the woods while peppering the church position.

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Corresponding English view of their positions after turn three. Lt. Patonback on low-rise at left.

Turn Four: Germans pop a surprise. A German squad uncovers their position atop the hill besides the Church of San Pietro and rakes an exposed American squad for loss. After receiving the shock, other American squads nearby open fire and deck the surprise.

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Americans are surprised by a hidden German squad atop the hill. Several American G.I. are hit. German firing intensifies from the church wall. but the American smoke shells protects many.

English push ahead. Alexandria tank commander hears about German halftracks are approaching (bird radio scouts). Taps his driver to move the tank forward and soon Alexandria arrives near the white wash building. The 2nd Platoon squads hops the low stone wall and rush across the planted gardens to land behind the opposite low walls and behind the white wash building. American Stuart tank comes up to engage the church defenders too.

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Alexandria moves ahead, leading 2nd Platoon to cross their garden walls to the forward garden walls. English 1st Platoon enter the woods while engaging the low-rise Germans.

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Close up the American Stuart and jeep engaging the church positions. German MG 42 engage the English and American squads. 2nd Platoon infantry seen behind the forward garden wall.

Increasing volume of rifle and light machine gun fire is heard from the left light woods. The somewhat isolated German low-rise hill defenders cannot match the English firepower without their MG42 team. They try, and try again, but losses mount.

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The isolated German squad on their low-rise hill cannot match the advancing English firepower. They are marked by several English squads, the Vickers MMG. and their platoon 2″ mortar team.

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Center village view. German squads behind the red roof tiled building (morale shaken) and alongside woods. Their Platoon commander darts down the road.

Turn Five: Americans bayonet charge up the low hill to engage the pop up German hill squad. Quick firing, some grenades and the German squad flees north just as their platoon commander team run out from the protective church yard and charge up the low hill. They are spotted by the American infantry in the woods. Surely a target of opportunity.

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Andy’s Americans charge up the low hill to soon rout the German defenders. Their platoon commander sees what is happening and sorties from the protective church wall position.

WR wondered what the marker on the distant hill was. Dan, seeing Alexandria drive up near the white washed building, exposes his defensive AT assets. The Pak40 75mm AT cannon fires a shot directly at Alexandria. The near miss shot sails past but next time the gunners will correct their aim.

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The Pak40 75mm AT gun is uncovered and sends a near miss shot at Alexandria in the distance.

Breaking the German will for close combat action, the American squad occupies the former german position on the low hill. They fire their rifles at the fleeing soldats legging it towards the rear. Their platoon commander now has to rally them from his exposed open hillside position.

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The victorious American squad occupies the former german position. They along with other American G.I., spot the exposed german platoon command group.

After hearing the passing of the 75mm shell, the tank commander of Alexandria orders his driver to step on the gas and seek cover between the buildings. After crushing a bit of Italian garden wall, the Cromwell tank rests between the two building, the red roof tile and the white wash-house. Across the road is the Germans defending their church wall position, firing at the Americans with Mauser and curses.

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Alexandria moves forward to position herself between the building and out of sight of the Pak40 AT cannon. German held church off picture at right.

Lt. Patonback really cannot see what the Americans are doing so his after action report to battalion required some interviewing with the American commander over a rare beer ration. The American commander described how his American squads slowly worked their way forward in the woods while firing at the germans hiding behind the stone wall. The German sniper shot several during this time period before the American army made him their personal Facebook enemy. His bullet ridden body hung limply out the church bell tower.

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Americans advance up the hill and through the woods… to German Grandmother’s church we go. Another German squad rushes behind the stone wall with Panzerfaust to engage Alexandria.

Back on the English sector, Lt. Patonback sees his 1st Platoon advance to the light woods edge, all the time firing upon the german held low-rise hill. Ordering bayonets to be fixed, the leading two squads prepare to bayonet charge the low-rise. The 2″ mortar team alongside Lt. Patonback hits another German soldier… Dan checks WR’s dice….which really are Dan’s own dice for the record. 😉 Alexandria sprays the german held church walls with MG fire, keeping their heads down along with 2nd Platoon from the white wash-house garden. One panzerfaust rocket sails over the stationary Alexandria. Another german held panzerfaust is seen behind the stone wall but not for long. Ranging in their 3″ mortar, the mortar team strike again with shells bursting among the German squad, killing several, pinning the rest.

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Alexandria is between the building spraying the church defenders with MG fire. 1st Platoon in near woods ready to charge while 2nd Platoon fires upon the german church positions.

A mechanical sound is heard up the road. Four German halftracks rumble onto the tabletop and somewhat down the center road. Summoned German reinforcements are arriving to stop the Allied advance.

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Four german halftracks rumble onto the tabletop. Reinforcements are arriving.

Turn Six: Time for action thinks Lt. Patonback. His 1st Platoon is prepped for action and their Lee-Enfield mkIV rifles are warm from the firing at the low-rise Germans. Little return fire is received as the Germans are skulking behind the ground rise. Before the Brit’s advance, the Americans have a go at the German church defenders. One fresh squad rushes through the smoke clouds at the stone wall corner vs. several German defenders. Bullets fly, several find their marks but the rush is on. Rifle butts and one hand shovel start and end the brawl over the wall corner with a German defeat… bodies. American foothold in the German defense. While this was going on, another American squad cut down the exposed German platoon leader rushing up the low hill, knocking German morale back a little.

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American squad charges through the smoke cloud and rush the church wall corner. Three German “soldats” fire their hasty shots, dropping one American G.I. Rifle butts and one shovel follows.

American push into the church position. Time for the English to charge home on the opponent rattled holding the low-rise position. One English squad charges and soon followed by another squad. Before the English bayonets reach the low-rise, the German squad bolts for the rear. Rifles sound off, dropping one of the fleeing Germans. Another German squad fires back, wounding one soldier but the two English squads now firmly hold the low-rise position. Alexandria is joined by the American Stuart tank firing at the fast-moving German halftracks way down the road. Alexandria misses but the Stuart 37mm shot “makes a porthole” in the thin armor. The German halftracks quickly drive behind their command post building in village somewhat relieved for their close encounter with the allied armor.

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1st Platoon 1st squad charges up the low-rise and see the Germans flee into the distant woods. Another German squad is seen, fire back and wound one English trooper.

With the Germans having difficulty holding the church wall due to the growing American assault, the Vickers MMG team look about then fires upon the church wall panzerfaust team, pinning them in place thus allow Alexandria to engage the halftracks. The 3″ mortar team, revenge for Sgt. PinPoint in their hearts, search the German positions. Quickly they spot the Pak40 75mm cannon firing on their new friends of the RTR. Long range bombardment. they set the range scope and 3″ mortar shells drop down the tube. Dan gave WR that “look”…. WR rolled the d10 for ranging in… the first shells land directly on the Pak40 75mm cannon. No correction rolls needed. Direct hit and the crew killed or wounded. German player morale failed. Five ranging rolls during the scenario, three direct hits and two slightly corrected directly on their targeted enemy squad. Lt. Patonback will write-up a commendation for the 3″ mortar team.

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The deadly 3″ mortar strikes again. Their first salvo destroys the Pak40 75mm cannon crew. The German halftracks are seen moving behind the village building in distance.

German player white flag goes up. With several squads reduced or destroyed the front portion of San Pietro will soon be in allied hands. The German halftracks have several squads but they will be needed to hold the rearward German positions. Allies claim their early victory for the scenario but more hard fighting will be required to complete the taking of San Pietro.

Later, from the Italian front lines, Lt. Patonback files this company report after the taking of San Pietro, another small Italian village on the slow hard march up the Italian peninsula. Thanks Dan and Andy for the fun scenario. Need to go purchase the lotto ticket on the return trip home, Dan is driving.

WR

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