A first for WR’s son Daniel. Daniel ran his first convention scenario at Strategicon-GAMEX over the Memorial Day weekend (sunday). Basic and proven Flames of War 20mm action, the Valmontone Italy 1944 scenario has been played several times between WR and Daniel. Set during the Anzio breakout battles before the entrance of the Allies into Rome, the scenario has the US. 3rd Infantry Division against the tough opponents of the Herman Goring Division.
Scenario notes and Allied or German forces has been covered in a previous WR post Valmontone 1944. A previous Valmontone 1944 after action report can be read for a comparison of the basic scenario action. Valmontone 1944 AAR
For the convention scenario game. Daniel made two changes to the tabletop terrain and forces involved. He added one additional M4 Sherman platoon (5xM4) to the American roster and expanded the table width to 8 feet from the basic 6 foot set up. The expanded table width is common for WR’s FOW 20mm scenarios due to the increase 20mm base footprint on the tabletop (+25% adjustment for scenario width). The German entrance points along the Highway 6 were adjusted for the increased table width.
Before the narrative, a quick review of the American and German force deployment. For the Americans, the weight of the assault was placed on the right half of the table. Both M4 Sherman platoons, the M3 Stuart platoon (or M5), the armored rifle platoon in their M3 halftracks and the assault reinforced rifle platoon (in the vineyard). An observer from the M7 Priest battery (center table near back edge) joined the American Company HQ command group in the vineyard building. The remaining reinforced rifle platoon entered the central woods to hold the flank and threaten the German controlled center road junction objective.
The German deployment, completed before any American forces were placed, forced them to cover Highway 6 with interlocking fire zones. With both American objectives placed on Highway 6, one panzer grenadier platoon directly defended their placement, supported by the Pak40 75mm platoon with their anti-tank cannon and the German company HQ. On the German right the other HG panzer pioneer platoon, the NW41 Nebelwerfer rocket battery (6) and the heavy AA 88mm battery (2 cannon). Lastly, on their left, sort of by themselves, the Wespe artillery battery behind the tall hedge. Off table and placed in reserves, the StuG III assault platoon (3) and the mixed Panzer III / IV platoon (4), rolled to arrive each turn at either Highway entrance point 12″ from table edge. Unlike most American or German match-ups, both sides for this scenario are rated confident veteran.
With only six scenario turns, the American platoons must advance quickly across the Italian countryside. No time to sit back and shell the German positions to soften them up. Turn one has the American armor platoons race ahead across the tabletop followed by their armored infantry rifle platoon. The M7 Priest battery ranges in and shells the objective position on Highway 6, covering the German panzer grenadiers and their Pak40 A/T platoon under bombardment. The two American infantry platoons advance forward into the vineyard and central woods respectfully. In the shooting phase, the American tanks opened fire on the concealed Wespe platoon behind the hedge. Three of the Wespe armored 105mm vehicles quickly become burning torches but passed their morale test. Germans mostly stayed low in their prepared foxhole positions during their turn. The Pak40 75mm platoon drew quick blood, brewing up one M4 Sherman. Another Sherman quickly brewed up alongside from the distant 88mm battery zeroing in. No German reserves arrive.
Turn two continues the assault. The Wespe battery was removed from the table by American firepower, one of the Pak40 75mm blown up by 75mm shells and bullets zip by the German foxhole helmets. The M3 Stuart 37mm and machine guns try to shoot up the German panzer grenadier position and Pak40’s with limited effect. M7 Priest 105mm pound the objective position causing the stray loss. The German reply was quickly inbound. Looking up, the veteran 3rd Division vineyard infantry see and hear the NW41 rockets land amidst their dispersed ranks. Several teams fall from the rocket bombardment in the vineyard. German 75mm A/T shells penetrate more Sherman hulls while the 88mm overkill the Stuarts. One Stuart took three 88mm hits… really three large sunlight holes through the thin armor. No German reserves arrive again.
Turn three. Pinned down just for the moment by the rocket bombardment, the American assault platoon positions itself to assault the German left flank building, defended by German panzer grenadiers and the NW41 observer. The American CinC company commander draws his pistol to led the charge. American GI’s charge forward. M3 Stuarts assault the edge of the German panzer grenadiers and company HQ. The M4 Shermans cross the long hedge to engage the distant 88mm cannon. One 88mm is destroyed by a “lucky” shot, landing in the foxhole of the gun crew. German defensive fire stops the American assault platoon. The M3 Stuarts find out about the three German HQ panzerschreck teams attached to the panzer grenadiers. Their rocket launcher fire brews two Stuarts and the sole surviving Pak40 75mm blows apart the last Stuart tank. The American vineyard assault platoon charges into the stone building. Two rounds of close combat, clearing the rooms from the German defenders, including the NW41 battery observer, leaves dead teams from both sides.
German reserves arrive timely on their left flank. Both panzer platoons roar on to the tabletop and wheel into position to engage the exposed M4 Sherman platoon. The American M4 platoon is looking at seven tanks, most with long 75mm barrels… not for long as Shermans start to brew up.
The Shermans cannot escape the German tanks due to the difficult terrain hedge behind them. The remaining M4 Shermans must shoot it out with the German panzers on turn four as more flaming hulls explode into burning pyres. One panzer IV is burning.
The American assault must quicken their pace. With the American and German armor engaged in a point-blank firefight, locked in death or survival, the central woods American reinforced platoon has reached the jump off position in the woods. Having cleared the stone building of its German defenders, the assault platoon comes forward past the burning M3 Stuart tanks, in preparation to assault the panzer grenadier platoon and German Company HQ.
Losing their NW41 observer team, the other observer directs the battery to bombard the M7 Priest battery. With their open top armor, the battery takes several hits and one M7 Priest explodes into a fireball. Sort of smoke blocked by burning American armor, the 88mm battery shells the American assault platoon, causing losses along with the direct fire coming from German panzer grenadier MG42 squad machine guns.
Turn four starts with the American infantry rush forward. Exiting the center woods and stone building, both platoons advance across open ground to engage with their rifles and M1 Garand. The Priest battery continues to fire 105mm shells into the German objective position, causing one loss and pinning the Germans. The assault platoon charges into the remains of the Pak40 platoon (one cannon and their platoon commander), plus the German company headquarters team. Tough Germans, they survive several rounds of close assault combat, inflicting loss. Finally the Germans are wiped out by overwhelming numbers and the panzer grenadiers back away but retain control of the near objective. The American armored rifle platoon disembark from the exposed M3 halftrack transports since the last M4 Sherman bolted from the battlefield battle with the German panzers. M3 halftrack vs. German panzers…. the halftrack drivers floor the pedal to escape the German 75mm shells.
German turn has the German tanks move towards the near objective. Their long barrel cannon wiping away the last American armor and one M3 halftrack. Machine gun bullets rake the hedge behind which the armored rifle platoon had just hidden their bodies. Again the M7 Priest battery is shelled by the NW41 rocket battery, losing another Priest to fiery explosions. The only unengaged German platoon, the HG panzer grenadier platoon starts their movement.. via a “Congo line” look, along Highway 6 shoulder, hoping to stop the advance of the American central woods platoon.
Turn five. The assault platoon remains pinned by German fire and the previous turn assault recovery. Running forward, the American company CinC tries to get the infantry up and moving… no luck. The rifle platoon exits the central woods and has a long distance to cross open ground to reach the objective. Crossing the hedge before them, the open ground gives them no protection from the German HG panzer pioneers, and the last 88mm cannon directly in front. One of these platoons must reach the German occupied objective marker to win the game for the Americans since the American tanks are all burning wrecks. The armored rifle platoon ducks and bobs along the hedge position and into the open ground towards the objective marker controlled by the panzer grenadiers. Their advancing fire pins the panzer grenadiers in their hasty dug holes, but really the 105mm shell bombardment by the M7 Priest battery causes loss among the Germans.
The German Panzer III/ IV mixed platoon, three remaining tanks, arrives behind the tired panzer grenadier platoon to support their defense of the objective. Their shells and machine guns impact the exposed American assault platoon. Seeing the American armored rifle platoons advance, two panzers machine gun several team stands into the casualty pile along with the StuG III platoon sending shells into the hedge position. NW41 crews try to zero in their tubes on the advancing Americans from the woods. They cannot reset the tubes and fail to launch their deadly rockets. But, advancing across open ground, the exposed American infantry are targeted by the side-stepping HG panzer pioneers and the entrenched 88mm sole remaining cannon. The 88mm shells rip apart teams with two hits. The HG panzer pioneer’s squad MG42 and rifles open fire, six hits, several forward American teams pitch forward into the Italian soil. Pinned in place, hugging the blood stained ground, they look nervous towards the turn six pronouncement.
Turn six… the final turn for the scenario. CHARGE! roars the American company commander. Him and his 2inC team run forward, charging the pinned panzer grenadiers in their shallow holes and the backup panzers. The assault platoon rises up and follows their crazy leaders. Seeing the charge, the armored rifle teams run forward, rifles firing from the hip as rifle grenades sail overhead into the German positions. The 60mm team mortar drops smoke rounds on the German panzer tanks, smoking one with a cloud of smoke. The M7 Priest battery shells impact the ground just forward of the charging American infantry groups, pinning the Germans in their holes. Only one platoon is left to move, the central woods reinforced rifle platoon. Terrified, they hug the ground and only offer scattered rifle fire against the German positions. The scenario victory will hang on the wild American charge vs. the German battle harden panzer grenadier defenders backed by three panzers.
German defensive fire is limited. The panzer grenadiers fail to un-pin from the M7 Priest bombardment. Their company commander lying dead on the battlefield under the onrushing American boots. Several American teams are hit but insufficient to stop the charging Americans. The armored rifles take the first assault with their rifles, grenades, and more importantly, the bazooka teams hunting the panzers in the smoke of battle. Several rounds of combat, two of the panzers are bailed out by the bazooka teams before they die under the counterattacking German machine guns and tracks. The armored rifle platoon is finished and retires…. disappearing completely after a failed morale test. It is up to the assault platoon for the American victory. Following their company commanders, the battered veteran platoon surges in to the disordered German ranks and tanks. With no tank terror fear after passing their required morale roll, American and German soldiers fire rifles, pistols, toss grenades at each other, atop the objective marker, fire bazooka shells into the steel hulls, fall crumpled on the Italian ground. Four rounds of assault combat. Counterattack after counterattack as nearby teams are drawn into the brawl. Finally the sides part way… The Americans hold the objective as the last German panzer grenadier team falls in combat. The German panzers fail their morale test to counterattack… and the sole tank drives away, leaving two burning panzers. The American platoon is under half strength… the CinC looks around and dares anyone to think of retirement. The assault platoon holds the objective…. and give the American side a win since the HG panzer pioneer platoon cannot contest the victory.
WR and Daniel wish to specially thank William, Paul S, Paul J, and lucky Mario joining them around the Valmontone convention table. Mario played the battered assault platoon, rolling firepower save checks, one after another, for the final American victory. Six Flames of War players having a grand 20mm spectacle game for several hours and victory determination on the close combat final turn six. All the painted 20mm WWII miniatures and the terrain from the WR collection. Mostly plastic Airfix, Esci, Italeri, or Matchbox kits or sets painted over the last few years.
Cheers from GAMEX convention this year. Road trip to Bob’s garage next weekend for a team vs, team 25/28mm napoleonic gaming. WR understands the unscripted scenario is Austrians vs. French and their German state allies. WR is bringing his bicorne hat Hesse Darmstadt division along with some Rhine Confederation state battalions or cavalry regiments.