Recently at the regional HMGS-PSW convention held back on October 8-9th, WR arranged to play his new 20mm Flames of War Salerno invasion scenario “Paestum Landing – Salerno 1943” with six gamers. The American zone Paestum landing at Salerno involved four designated beach zones…. Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue. The 142nd RCT from the 36th Texan Division landed on Red and Green beaches. At Yellow and Blue sectors, the trained but untested 141st RCT, again from the 36th Division, landed against the 16th Panzer Division defending the dunes along the beach. For his Paestum scenario, WR narrowed the scope of the landing to represent only Yellow and Blue beach sectors, and the 141st RCT. WR intends to add future Salerno scenarios, several which will involve the 142nd RCT, in the foothills surrounding the Paestum landing, to the series listed at end of article.
Pregame historical material and Paestum Landing scenario design notes: Original Paestum Landing Salerno 141st RCT scenario notes. Since original play test and this AAR, WR has revised the forces , landing craft 1st wave rules, and reinforcement schedule for a Paestum Landing – Salerno 141st RCT Scenario notes revised file.
Team America (141st RCT) played by Paul and Jordan with WR in the background. Basic pre-invasion planning: Land on the beach, use the dunes as cover to gather sufficient forces, then assault the tower and panzergrenadier defensive position, then break out to reach the distant inland objectives. Team German played by Daniel and Theron, with Paul, and Eric joining in as their adjacent game had action pauses. Germans decided to hold in place till the reinforcements arrive, hopefully the reinforcement can block the inland egress movement of the Americans before they reach the objectives. Dice gathered, charts ready… time to commence the scenario.
Quick notes on the initial German deployment. The Torre di Paestum nest contained two HMG and one sniper team. Located in the beach dunes of Blue beach was two 2cm AA guns, one a quad mount, protected by barbed wire, Two minefields covered the two open ground exit passages. Behind the beach dunes was a very strung out panzergrenadier platoon in foxholes. Behind them and some low hedges, the reduced 8cm mortar platoon entrenched. Way back in the orchard was Company headquarters with two attached 8cm mortars. Off-board artillery observers behind the old roman town wall (at table edge) and in the left beach front building. Hidden assets included the StuG III G platoon, a reduced PzGren. MG platoon, and two additional sniper teams.
Turn One (Night): Americans have the first movement. In the glow of 0330 hours moonlight, the first American wave splashes ashore. Each beach sector has Company command with two bazooka, two rifle platoons, and their weapon platoon in first wave, One LCVP off Yellow beach fails to reach the beach and circles about (carrying the Yellow beach weapons platoon). Since the cloak of darkness covers the beach, American players hold all firing since firing gives away their position on the wet sands (night combat rules). Suddenly, the German garrison of Torre di Paestum spot the nearest platoon and open fire. Raking the exposed americans, several teams fall victim to the raking MG42 bursts. Startled by the fierce german response, one LCVP is stranded on the beach and cannot return for the next platoon in Reserve Yellow pool.
Note: Night rules are basically simple. Roll d6 x 4″ for each pip on dice showing. So a 3 means 12″ visibility (3×4″=12″) to engage enemy platoons. Maximum would be 24″ with a six rolled. If any platoon opens fire, their position is given away and all platoons spot and, based upon weapon range and line of sight,, can engaged. All platoons at night receive “concealment” adjustment.
When landing on the beach there is a drift or failure to land d6 roll. 1-4 you land with drift adjustment. On 5-6 failure to land and circle offshore till next turn when you can try again. For scenario WR halved the stated D-Day rule drift distance since the Gulf of Salerno was calm during the actual landing.
Turn Two (Night): Seeing the old medieval watch tower labeled Torre di Paestum on their maps, the American platoons on Yellow rush inland to the beach dunes and some concealment from ground fire. But the deadly tower opens fire again to rake the struggling American GI’s after both platoons, and a bazooka team, fail to pin the German defenders. Yellow beach lands another rifle platoon while the weapons platoon continues to circle off shore (failed their landing roll again). To add to Yellow beach problems, the off-board German 10.5cm battery ranges in on the platoon before Torre di Paestum. Shells land among the crawling infantry. Blue beach platoons move inland to the dunes, soon joined by their SP AA platoon and SP TD M3 75mm platoons encountering the loose beach sand for the first time. German observers in a nearby stone building direct 8cm mortar shells on the wet American infantry while the two 2cm guns, hidden in the dunes behind barbed wire, open fire and inflict several team losses.
Note: Torre di Paestum is treated like a HMG nest with two HMG teams and a sniper. Special rules covering this garrison found in scenario notes (.doc) file.
Turn Three (Night): More American platoons land behind the advancing American infantry. Crossing the dunes, the grunts move quickly but the vehicles are greatly slowed to a crawling pace (jeeps and halftracks 4″, tanks 8″). Landing behind the beach dunes prevent direct ground level German firepower but, in turn, prevents their quick breakout into the German defenses. American lucky firepower drops one of the tower HMG teams, but only pins the 2cm crews in their dugouts. Several teams, having moved against the barbed wire defense, ready themselves to clear the obstacle next turn.
So far, the German defense has been static, The Torre di Paestum HMG nest levels the far left American rifle platoon into oblivion. The 2cm cannon pits, one remaining pinned, manage to trim a few more GI teams struggling before the barbed wire defense. German off-board 10.5cm LeH 18 battery targets, directed by their observer near the beach (in building), and lands shells on the far right Blue beach American rifle platoon and nearby SP AA platoon, inflicting light loss.
Note: American rifle and weapon platoons can be replaced if destroyed per the “D-Day Overwhelming forces” rule. American players return the destroyed platoon in their next landing craft wave but the remaining turns of play may not allow the platoon to reach the inland objectives..
Turn Four (Night): Last turn of night and the concealing darkness. Blue beach has landed all their platoons…. Co Cmd., 2 rifle platoons, weapons platoon, SP AA platoon, SP M3 75mm A/T platoon, and finally their supporting armor, a M4 Sherman platoon. On Yellow beach the confusion of landing on the dark Italian coast has caused some delays… only Co. Cmd., three rifle platoons (one removed soon replaced), weapons platoon, SP AA platoon, and H/T Cannon 105mm platoon. Offshore Yellow beach still has in Reserve pool their engineer platoon with bulldozer, M4 Sherman platoon, and the 105mm field artillery battery in DUKW’s, which lands independently (2nd turn onwards) via DUKW instead of the landing craft, if there is space on the beach sand.
American start turn four with the majority of the their intact platoons centerline table behind or in the beach dunes. With the beach sand and dunes rated difficult going, the tanks, halftracks, and jeeps all struggle to drive inland (bog checks) instead of attempting infantry clearance of the minefields placed in the two open ground passages. Opening the turn with some barbed wire clearance work, several American teams successfully remove barbed wire sections before the German 2cm AA pits, clearing the path to assault the AA guns, but no assault came forward. Interesting, the AA guns were within 4″ assault range. At Yellow beach, a replacement rifle platoon splashes ashore. seeking the cover of the narrow grove of shoreline trees. The recently landed weapon platoon targets the tower with direct smoke, shielding the advance of their fellow countrymen across the dunes. while raking every tower opening with .30 cal LMG bursts.
German activity is keep firing. Their beach building artillery observer tries to shell the right hand American rifle platoon… 10.5cm shells land in area but the GI’s survive in the dunes. The 2cm AA guns pump shell after shell into the dunes, several American teams end their battle lying on the dunes. With bullet striking stone chips flying about and smoke clouds, the Torre di Paestum position tries to maintain some firepower on the beach, but with little success except for the sniper team, pinning the weapons platoon again. Just too much soft lead hitting the medieval tower walls. German reserves are still two turns away so the sole German panzergrenadier platoon stays low in their foxholes till the American infantry can be seen cross the dunes.
Notes: Driving on difficult ground force players to roll d6 for every vehicle each turn. On a natural 1, the vehicle becomes bogged down and requires a skill check d6 roll (4+) to free the vehicle, for movement or target engagement, on the next American turn. Till freed, the vehicle cannot engage or move against the Germans. For the barbed wire removal, if an American un-pinned team starts adjacent to the BW section, roll skill tests. If successful on 1st skill test roll, re-roll again to clear the 8″ wire section from tabletop. Engineer (pioneer) rated teams require only one skill test roll to remove. Minefield clearance works the same way, but if your fail the skill test roll (4+ d6), the clearing team is “blown up” and removed, pinning the entire platoon at the same time… a bit more risky.
Turn Five (Dawn and daylight): The rising sun revealing the American struggle on the Salerno beaches. Blue beach sees the American platoons fire and rush the single 2cm mount. Rapid fire….. rifle fire, boom of grenades, the 2cm gun and crew destroyed. Token rifle fire at the rested panzergrenadier platoon, in their foxholes and beach buildings, has no effect. All the tabletop centerline vehicle platoons slowly advance across the beach sand and dunes. One or two bog down, requiring their crews to free the vehicle.
On Yellow beach, the American engineer platoon wades ashore with their equipment. They are tasked with clearing the minefield so the pending Yellow beach M4 Sherman platoon can drive past the Torre di Paestum position. Weapon platoon keeps the tower defenders pinned and well smoked by their LMG and 60mm mortar teams. Slowly, a reduce rifle platoon positions around the barbed wire to assault the tower. The replacement rifle platoon runs inland, into the table edge grove of trees and dunes. Like Blue beach, the 105mm cannon and SP AA platoons drive across the beach dunes. Slow progress for sure.
Finally the rested panzergrenadiers see the leading edge of American infantry in the beach dunes. Placing MG42 machine guns to their shoulders…. the buzz-saw sound of machine gun bullets cuts down several teams. Then artillery spotting rounds land on the former 2cm gun position, directed by the artillery observer positioned in the beach building,… 10.5cm shells are on the way. The Americans have found the first real German defensive position. The StuG III G platoon deploys behind the Torre di Paestum at distance, near the old roman wall, shelling the American rifle platoon edging towards the tower flank. Both sides hear the sound of airplane motors…. The USAF, RAF, and Luftwaffe… and panzer tracks.
Turn Six: The reinforcements arrive for both sides. Overhead the sky roars to the sounds of plane motors on both sides. Panzers are heard on the rear flank of Blue beach. American roll and receive their air support with no German interception attempt by team German. Rolling on the scenario notes chart… a single Spitfire mkV flies in to strafe the German artillery observer team behind the old roman wall. Before the aerial attack conducted, the American platoons advance on Yellow beach. One rifle platoon, much reduced, positioned to assault the tower. Weapon platoon rakes the tower with LMG fire and continues the 60mm mortar smoke bombardment. The engineer platoon crosses the open sand adjacent to the minefield, quick clearance on their task sheet. The two other rifle platoons reach the inland dune edge, but their next movement uncertain. As for the Spitfire….. he missed the observer team completely.
Note: Both sides have “Limited” air support in play, starting on turn six. Simply, five dice pool to roll a 5-6 (d6), on any die, grants air support that turn. On next request, the pool drops one die to four dice pool, then three dice, etc. When reduced to one die, the pool stays at one die for remainder of scenario. If successful air power arrival roll, the enemy can elect interception by rolling their current dice pool level for any natural 6. Interception stops the air support from appearing over the tabletop battlefield.
Before we discuss the Blue beach sector, the Yellow beach German turn reply causes more American teams to drop permanently. A hidden Pz. Grenadier MG platoon, with only two MG42 HMG teams, uncovers behind the old roman wall, near the artillery observer team. Opening fire on the American rifle platoon in the beach dune grove in front, they drop two teams as the rest dive for any cover. The StuG III G platoon, after wondering why the Spitfire targeted the nearby artillery observer team, aim directly at the Americans edging towards the tower again. Another team drops in the sand, blasted apart by the 75mm gunfire.
Note: The old roman wall surrounds the ruins of Paestum. Terrain wise, the wall is un-crossable for all vehicles and vehicles cannot fire across (due to height) but may engage enemy teams placed directly behind the wall. Infantry teams can clamber up, across, and fire over the wall ruins if adjacent.
Luftwaffe overhead…. a FW190D peals down to bomb the American 105mm cannon halftrack platoon crossing the dunes. The nearby SP AA zeros in and shoots down the FW190D.
Blue beach sector sees American two rifle platoons surge to the beach dune terrain edge while a third rifle platoon enters the dunes from the open beach sands. M4 Shermans grind though the beach dunes, several bog in the sand. Slow going for all the vehicles. The recon jeep teams, for the hidden SP M3 75mm A/T platoon, seek a forward location to engage the entrenched German panzergrenadiers, and report any enemy armor. Wary SP AA platoon crews scans the sky for other German aircraft after shooting down the sole FW190D. Movement completed, rifle and BAR fire erupts all along the beach dune edge against the German panzergrenadiers. Protected by the buildings and foxholes, the effect was minimal… only one team destroyed. The German reply wasn’t long in coming.
After shifting slightly the StuG IIIG platoon, the German tabletop firepower was unleashed on the Americans. StuGs pounded the rifle platoon near the tower. Foxhole panzergrenadiers, after ducking the American firepower, shook off the feeble pin result and poured MG42 bullet streams into the beach dunes… and American bodies. Ranged in, the German off-board battery shelled the beach dunes causing additional American losses.
German panzers and panzergrenadiers arrive behind Blue beach. A platoon of PanzerIV G (late) and panzergrenadier infantry enter the tabletop. The defending strung-out forward panzergrenadier platoon occupies their foxholes and hold back the American advance out of the dunes by sheer firepower.
Turn Seven: Time to get off the beach and reach the inland objectives, orders given from the beach company commanders. Primed for their assault, the American forward rifle platoons open fire again trying to pin the German defenders before the assaults. At Blue beach, the weapons platoon pins the tower with firepower and smoke clouds. The minefield is quickly removed by the skillful work of the engineer platoon without loss, clearing the way for the remaining M4 Sherman platoon to land and advance inland across open ground, but only if the tower defenders are removed. DUKWs loaded with the 105mm field artillery battery try to land through the Gulf of Salerno surf. The crews must have been very seasick spending hours bobbing in the waves as only one DUKW wades ashore, one was sunk, and two decided to circle about offshore for another attempt.
Firepower applied, time for the gritty work of routing out the defenders of Torre di Paestum. The reduced rifle platoon rush the doorway, the defending HMG team cuts down the first team. Others follow with rage, the sound of hard hand to hand fighting echos in the medieval tower. Grenades and bayonet finish the job, the German HMG and sniper teams wiped out trying to hold the position. Soon a small American flag is seen outside one window…. nailed to a burnt timber. Yellow beach first objective taken!
Blue beach…. the American rifle platoons charge forward from the beach dunes, advancing fire on the panzergrenadier positions. No mortar or field artillery platoons available to bombard…. what about the weapon platoon mortars for smoke at least? German defensive fire cuts down a few teams…. then the hand to hand combat lasts several rounds. the smoke of battle clears…. and lots of red dead markers cover the tabletop. The American rifle platoon is no more as the few German panzer-grenadiers make their under half morale test to stand on the battlefield.
Germans panzergrenadiers advance quickly to support or more likely replace the losses in the panzergrenadier linear beachfront position. Blue beach goes quiet for the moment as the Panzer IVG platoon drives forward near the center orchard.Overhead, the Luftwaffe arrives to bomb the American engineer platoon near the tower. No American AA fire this time, but the bomb lands on open sand, missing the dense target below.
The three StuG IIIG assault guns draw a bead on the advancing American M4 Sherman platoon. Shooting tanks is easy for the veteran panzer crews. Two Shermans turn into blazing hulks.
Turn Eight: With Blue beach in a shambles, the American effort centers on Yellow beach sector. The last M4 Sherman platoon comes ashore near the tower open ground while the DUKW coxswains cannot figure out how to land their 105mm cargo. Pinned by the nearby bomb blast last turn, the engineer platoon just thinks of digging their own bomb shelters (failed morale test to unpin). Tower garrison stays put in their weaken condition exchanging long-range shooting with the German HMG teams behind the roman wall ruins. Thinking really hard after seeing several of their teams drop dead at the grove edge, the rifle platoon in the grove holds position since crossing the open ground against the emplaced German HMG teams and artillery observers watching… not a good idea for the moment. So Yellow beach seems to come to a complete stop without forward movement. An “Italian style” standoff…. as German MG42 bullets lace the air over the heads of American GIs. The only good thing to happen is the naval gunfire observer teams set up their special radios beside the American company headquarters (one on each beach sector) to direct and link offshore naval bombardments. Their first attempt to contact the ships offshore…. just static.
Another column of German reinforcements arrive at near Paestum station. Small Panzer IVG (late) platoon, supported by panzergrenadier, panzergrenadier pioneers, and light AA platoons. The German panzergrenadiers are arriving in their commandeered Italian trucks, protected from American airpower by the light AA platoon.
Blue beach quiet after the last American effort to clear the beach building defense line. The arriving panzergrenadier platoon occupies some of the defensive positions backed by the Panzer IVG (late) platoon. German artillery and 8cm mortar bombardments drops down on the individual platoons hugging the beach dunes. A pluckily bold German sniper team pops up in the beach dunes to pick off unwary American platoon leaders.
Turn Nine: Desperate for some success on Blue beach, the replacement rifle platoon along with the company command teams charge the arriving panzergrenadiers along with the three remaining M4 Sherman tanks. German MG42 fire tosses back the rifle platoon with dead teams everywhere. Company command teams hit the dirt…. hoping the Sherman platoon can win the brawl. Several rounds of close assault combat, even passing tank terror test, the panzergrenadiers finally bail/disable out two Sherman tanks, and the last tank flees for the surf line. Another American disaster… but the original panzergrenadier platoon destroyed and the newly arrived platoon near half strength tempers the German victory.
Yellow beach sees movement. The M4 Sherman platoon edges forward to engage the distant StuG IIIG platoon and the old roman town wall HMG teams. Accurate 75mm fire destroys one HMG team couching behind the old roman wall. Engineers fan out to construct a new steel mat roadway over the beach dunes using their military bulldozer (played by a M4 Sherman tank dozer today).
Turn Ten: Scenario called. Team American realize they cannot get to the inland objectives by turn fifteen. So the Salerno invasion is declared a minor German victory for the moment based from the scenario notes (.doc) file. Simply, the German held their forward defensive positions thus slowing the American advance, destroyed several American platoons, especially on Blue beach, and without the American armor driving inland, the objectives would be near impossible to control. Landing the vehicles to cross the beach dunes slowed their advance, allowing the Germans to bottle up the quick American vehicle inland progress.
Summary: Germans team (Daniel and Theron) just had to hold their ground and slow the American speedy advance inland. The beach dunes seemed a natural cover for landing the initial invasion platoons, but the minefield placement really won the battle. Wasn’t till turn nine that the American armored vehicles really entered the open ground and engaged the rear German defenses and arriving armored vehicles. For the Americans, the landing platoons came ashore with minimum losses till the infantry neared the beach dune edge to open ground. The dunes greatly slowed the vehicle advance so their guns or cannon had limited action softening up the panzergrenadiers during the early midgame period. Still, the panzergrenadiers were lucky defending the initial assault…. Daniel hit on his rolls of counterassault, Paul seems to miss the majority of his, and the toll quickly showed. Another game guys…. you up for it?
Completed WR Salerno 1943 scenarios:
Sept 9th Paestum Landing – Salerno 141st RCT
Sept 11th Ordeal of the 179th RCT
The full projected Salerno scenarios series (American sector)
- Sept 9th Paestum Landing (night landing of 141st RCT) Posted
- Sept 11th Crossing the Calore River (179th 2nd Btn.) Pending
- Sept 11th Ordeal of the 179th RCT (179th RCT) Posted
- Sept 11th First Battle Tobacco Factory (157th RCT)
- Sept 12th Hill 424, German Counterattack (142nd RCT)
- Sept 12th Second Battle Tobacco Factory (157th RCT)
- Sept 13th Taking Altavilla and Hill 424 (142nd & 143rd RCT)
- Sept 13th Storm breaks at Tobacco Factory (157th RCT, elements of 179th RCT)
- Sept 14th Holding the Line (mixture of units including just landed paratroopers)
Cheers from the ruins of Paestum.
WR wrote up his scenario battle plan below for a comparison plan and future replay of this scenario. Like all beach landing scenario…speed off the beach is critical so the plan directly addresses that required action:
Turn One: Land the forces outlined in scenario at each beach sector. Make sure any minefields placed by Germans covering the two open terrain gaps are assigned one rifle platoon each to clear on projected turn three. Plan is to have a clear route inland for the vehicles, especially the two M4 Sherman platoons. The other two rifle and weapon platoons land on Yellow to engage then assault the Torre di Paestum position by turn four, clearing any barbed wire as needed. On Blue beach, land the extra rifle and weapon platoon in the center to engage the 2cm guns and then the panzer-grenadier platoon’s attention. Move with objective to prevent any snipers placement in dunes blocking forward advance.
Turn Two: Land engineer platoon and 105mm cannon platoon on Yellow near Torre di Paestum open ground passage as possible. Especially the cannon platoon to blast the tower defenders. Smoke the tower by weapon platoon as needed. Engineers back up the assault on tower if needed. On Blue beach, land mortar platoon and SP AA platoon, thus the M4 Sherman platoon can be landed on turn three. On both beach sectors the initial landed rifle platoon assigned to clear the open ground passages should be adjacent to any minefields, otherwise clear the same route of barbed wire. If no placed obstacles in opening gaps, join in assault on tower or 2cm gun positions. Clear the dunes on turn two by assault… six-inch move 1st turn, six-inch move turn two, assault move 4″, should contact and clear anything in the dunes unless barbed wire holds you up.
Turn Three: Clear the opening gaps of any minefields this turn since the initial landing rifle platoons should be in position to clear. Land on Yellow the SP AA and remaining rifle platoon, again near tower position if possible. Assaulting platoons should be in position by end of turn three to assault the tower on turn four. On Blue beach, land the M4 Sherman and SP A/T platoons near the open terrain dune gap, just cleared of any minefield.
Turn Four: Land any replacement platoon on Blue beach or late arriving assigned platoon, push all platoons inland to prep assault on panzer-grenadiers behind dunes. Yellow beach land the M4 Sherman platoon and the DUKW field artillery. Shermans by the tower dune opening and the field artillery center table near Blue beach sector. Assault the tower by turn four. Make sure the mortar platoon observers are forward to spot and use the American Company command teams to spot if needed.
Turn Five: Daylight…. Land any replacement platoons available on either beach sector. On Blue, all the vehicles move through the open ground gap… M4 Shermans and SP A/T platoon first. The SP AA sets up to provide AA cover at the opening. Assault the panzer-grenadiers and destroy that platoon if possible. If needed, use a platoon from Yellow to support if within range to assault. If deemed hard to tackle this turn, use the field artillery and mortar platoon to smoke the panzer-grenadiers. On Yellow, tower is cleared and all platoons must be able to advance inland past the dunes. Dune open ground passage besides the tower used by the vehicles first. Engineers can use bulldozer to make another passage across beach dunes…. for show.
Turn Six: The battle inland starts… American tanks vs. the arriving German panzers. If the StuG III G platoon shows up, deal with it. It cannot cover both beach open ground exits at the same time. Rush all American platoons forward…. lots of ground to cover to reach the inland objectives. Double time any replacement rifle platoon forward into dune openings. The Germans will be busy engaging the forward platoons. If the panzer-grenadier still present somehow, you have the field artillery and mortar platoons to bombard with smoke as the assault goes in.
Turn Seven to Fifteen: Up to the flow of battle…. but every turn push full move forward unless engaging the panzers with tank platoons. Use the stabilized firing capability. Seek to have infantry near each of the two inland objective by turn fourteen. Handle the rear area German counterattack with one hand and seek the uncovered open objective with the other…. you only need one inland objective for basic victory but five tabletop feet to travel. Double time infantry platoons if you think possible… depends if all the German ambush units been used except for the every present sniper teams. Keep all the artillery and naval gunfire support observers moving forward to optimum spotting positions. Naval gunfire works well against the German panzers.
Lastly, if a replacement infantry platoon lands on the beach by turn seven, with double time running towards the objectives, the platoon may reach the position to assault any German platoon defending, on turn fifteen. The engineer, 81mm mortar and the 3rd rifle platoon on Yellow beach have assigned transport capability. So when clear of the beach sand, summon the assigned platoon transport, load up the platoon, and drive fast. An option to travel faster but increased risk from stray Luftwaffe bombardment. So clear a path with the first wave platoons through the open ground gaps, then use the supporting armored vehicles to run / drive for the finish line objective, chased by the transported platoons.