Crossing Calore River 1943

The Salerno – Calore River crossing 1943 Flames of War 20mm scenario is based upon the efforts of 2nd Battalion, 179th RCT to advance across the Calore river, block German access to Highway 19 near Serre, and link up with the rest of their 179th RCT taking a different route towards Ponte-Sele and Serre. To this current day, the open fields around the battlefield are pretty much untouched except for the local farming. The road network, maybe gravel back in 1943 but paved now, is basically unchanged. The bridge has been replaced since the battle, the original one destroyed by the retiring German panzergrenadiers prior to the American arrival.

calore-river-bridge-at-base-hill424

Google view: Current day Calore bridge crossing. Note the underbrush near the river across bridge. Hill 424 is short distance behind the camera. Modern day building at left.

calore-battlefiled-towards-hill424

Google view looking south: Center of battlefield with Hill 424 in distance overlooking  entire area with German artillery spotters. As seen, ground is flat with slight elevations and raised roadway.

calore-battlefield-near-modern-development-crossroad-looking-south-towards-hill424

Google view looking south from near the modern developments and cross-road junction. Basically farmland. the roadway looks the same except repaved since then. SP88 is the Italian route #.

After splashing ashore during the dark early hours of September 9th, the American beachhead steadily enlarged on the 10th and early morning hours of the 11th, beating back several local German counterattacks during the first days on mainland Italian soil. During the early morning darkness of September 11th, the American RCT’s (142nd, 157th, and 179th) advanced into the local Italian foothills and Sele-Calore river corridor inland from the invasion beaches, hoping to control Highway 19 near Ponte-Sele and Serre, plus occupy the valuable observation hilltop called Hill 424 and nearby Altavilla village. Unfortunately, the early arrival of the 29th Panzergrenadier Division, joining the defending 16th Panzer Division, soon stopped the American general advance cold, then changed the battlefields to desperate defenses, as successive German Kampfgruppe attacks impacted each of the three RCT commands that and following days.

Fifth Army Landing Beaches Salerno 9-13 Sept

Salerno beachhead enlargement from landing September 9th to September 13th, The RCTs are marked for their Sept 13th position… the 179th was pulled and sent west of 157th for example.

Concurrent at the same time of this Calore river crossing scenario, the three other significant events occurring on the American Salerno invasion battlefield: 1) The early stages of the battle for Altavilla town and Hill 424, 2) The efforts of the 179th RCT (1st and 3rd battalions) to secure the Sele-Calore corridor region and occupy Ponte Sele and Serre across Highway 19, and 3) The initial assault on the Tobacco factory by the 157th RCT, trying to take pressure off the beleaguered 179th RCT.

Left Flank Sept 11 179th & 157 RCT

Crossing the Calore river scenario lower right quarter of map. Map covers all the engagements fought by 142nd, 157th, and 179th RCT on September 11th and German movement / attacks.

Short outline of the Calore river battle from Salerno: American Operations From the Beaches to the Volturno (9 September – 6 October 1943):

The 179th RCT drives into the Sele-Calore Corridor two days after Paestum beach landing, accompanying the 142nd RCT push at Altavilla and Hill 424. General Dawley had ordered the 179th Regimental Combat Team to advance on the left flank, with the mission of securing Ponte Sele and the steep hills at the end of the valley near Serre, where they control the corridor between the Sele and Calore rivers and block Highway 19. Col. Robert B. Hutchins issued the attack order at 1600 hours on 10 September, and at 1925 hours the regiment moved out.

The 2d Battalion, with Battery B, 160th Field Artillery Battalion, and a platoon of tanks was at the head of the column. The route of march followed Highway 18 to the road just south of Ponte alla Scafa. Here it turned east for a mile, then forked. The regiment divided at the fork. The 2nd Battalion under Lt. Col. Charles D. Weigand, leading the southern column, continued eastward across the low hills on the west bank of La Cosa Creek and then moved northeast over the rolling ground below Altavilla to skirt the northern end of Hill 424. The 1st and 3rd battalions, along with regimental support, crossed the Calore river, marched past hilltop Persano, and entered the Sele-calore corridor region (see WR’s “Ordeal of the 179th RCT” scenario).  

All night the march continued. The 2d Battalion, advancing parallel and south of the Calore river, drove back a few enemy detachments and reached the bridge north of Altavilla at about 1000 hours on the 11th, just as the 1st Battalion, 142nd Infantry, was moving against Altavilla itself. The men of the 2d Battalion found the Calore bridge destroyed, but they used hand tools and vehicles to break down the 10-foot banks of the Calore so that the infantry elements, a platoon of tanks, and a platoon of tank destroyers were soon able to ford the shallow stream. On the north bank a heavy enemy counterattack by tanks and infantry of the 29th Pioneer Battalion, supported by artillery, hit them hard and by 1235 hours drove them back across the river. Throughout the afternoon the 2d Battalion 179th RCT, under intensive artillery fire from hills to the northeast, struggled with the German pioneer battalion for the river crossing…

Note: Per Osprey “Salerno” book, it was units of the 15th Panzer regiment which hit the 2nd/179th RCT. WR reviewed his Salerno source material and 29th Pioneer Battalion was known to have arrived in area along with other elements of 29th Panzer Grenadier Division involved with the same day battle near Ponte-Sele and Serre vs. the rest of 179th RCT. The 15th Panzer regiment (29th PzGren Div) was mostly involved with the battle at Hill 424 and Altavilla against the 142nd RCT.

45th Division patch

179th Regiment patch  images

The Flames of War (FOW) 20mm scenario: The scenario covers the fighting between the 2nd Battalion, 179th (Tomahawks) RCT of 45th (Thunderbird) Division, and the 29th Pioneer Battalion, part of the arriving 29th Panzer Grenadier (Falcon) Division, on September 11, 1943.

Scenario map (.pdf):  Calore River crossing scenario map

Update: WR link to After Action Report (AAR) this scenario:  Calore River crossing AAR

calore-river-crossing-scenario-map

Calore River crossing scenario map. Each square 12″ for 8′ x 6′ table size. Note that “D” zone can link to the “Ordeal of the 179th RCT” scenario to Calore scenario. See process in article text below.

google-calore-battlefield

Google clip of the battlefield today. The road network is the same, just various farm building and a row of recent housing along the top edge have changed the battlefield.

calore-terrain-map

Terrain clip of the same Google area. The ground is flat as seen in photos from the central roadway looking south towards Hill 424 at bottom of this map.

Calore River crossing scenario notes (.doc) file below has complete OOB, scenario rules, deployment, reinforcement arrival, weather, terrain notes, and victory conditions:

Calore River crossing 179th RCT scenario notes

American forces: 1942–1963 “Triangular” Organization for the 45th Infantry Division.

MG Troy H. Middleton, commander of 45th Infantry Division.

MG Troy H. Middleton, commander of 45th Infantry Division.

157th Infantry Regiment
179th Infantry Regiment
180th Infantry Regiment

45th Division Artillery

158th Field Artillery Battalion
160th Field Artillery Battalion
171st Field Artillery Battalion
189th Field Artillery Battalion

45th Reconnaissance Troop
45th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
45th Military Police Platoon
45th Signal Company
700th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
120th Engineer Combat Battalion
120th Medical Battalion
45th Quartermaster Company

Attached to the 179th RCT was 753rd Tank battalion and 645th SP A/T Tank Destroyer battalions. These units provided armored support for the 179th RCT advance that morning.

Representing the 2nd Battalion, 179th RCT (45th Division) in “Calore River crossing” scenario, the following American Rifle Company HQ’s and platoons are used based from Battlefront’s FOW North Africa book organization represent the 2nd battalion of the 179th regiment in reduced scaled format. The scenario notes (.doc) file has complete organization details and tabletop deployment zones.

Battalion HQ: Btn. CinC team with jeep.

Rifle company HQ: CinC, 2iC, 2x bazooka teams.

3x Rifle platoons: Each with Cmd, bazooka team, 9x rifle teams.

Weapons platoon: Cmd, 3x M2 60mm mortar, 4x M1919 LMG, jeep w/50cal AAMG.

Mortar platoon: Cmd, 6x M1 81mm mortar.

Recon I/R platoon:  Cmd, 3x rifle teams, jeep w/50 cal., 3x jeeps

SP A/T platoon: Cmd, 4x M3 75mm GMC, 2x carbine teams, jeep w/50 cal., 2x jeeps.

M4a1 Tank platoon: 5x M4a1 Shermans.

Off-board field artillery battery: Cmd, staff, obs., 4x M2a1 105mm, plus transport. Observer with jeep start on tabletop per scenario notes.

 

German forces: 29th Panzer Grenadier Division order of battle (September 1943), arriving from southern Italy during the days leading up to the September 11th-13th battles. For the “Calore River crossing” scenario, the 29th Pioneer Battalion and scattered panzer grenadiers detachments form the German counterattack force.

General of Panzertruppe Walter Fries, commander of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division.

General of Panzertruppe Walter Fries, commander of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division.

29th PzDivision Staff HQ

HQ Staff, 29th Mapping Detachment (mot), 23rd Sound Ranging Troop

15th Panzergrenadier Regiment

Regt. Staff, Regimental Band, Staff Company, Signals Platoon, Pioneer Platoon

3 x Battalion

Btn. Staff, 4 x Company (mot)

Heavy Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)

Panzerjäger Company (mot)

71st Panzergrenadier Regiment

Regt. Staff, Regimental Band, Staff Company, Signals Platoon, Pioneer Platoon

3 x Battalion Panzergrenadiers

Btn. Staff, 4 x Company (mot)

Heavy Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)

Panzerjäger Company (mot)

129th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion

Btn. Staff, Heavy Platoon

Light Armored Car Company

3 x Company (half-track)

Heavy Company (half-track)

Pioneer Platoon

Panzerjäger Platoon

Light Infantry Gun Section

2 x Platoon

Light Reconnaissance Column

129th Panzer Battalion

Btn. Staff, Staff Battery, 3 x Sturmgeschütz Battery (Stug)

Panzer Maintenance Platoon

29th Artillery Regiment

Art. Staff, Staff Battery

? SP Artillery Battalion

Btn. Staff, Staff Battery (self-propelled), 3 x Battery (self-propelled)

2 x Field Artillery Battalion

Art. Staff, Staff Battery (mot), 3 x Battery (mot / truck)

313th Army Flak Battalion

Btn. Staff, Staff Battery (mot), 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)

Light Flak Battery (mot)

29th Pioneer Battalion

Btn. Staff

3 x Pioneer Company (mot)

Brüko K Bridging Column (mot)

Light Pioneer Column (mot)

29th Signals Battalion

Staff,Telephone Company (mot), Radio Company (mot), Signals Column (mot)

Supply & Support Units

Representing the 29th PzDiv Pioneer Battalion and detachments, in reduced scaled format, the following German Panzer Pioneer company HQ’s and platoons are used based from Battlefront’s FOW North Africa book organization. The scenario notes (.doc) file has complete organization details and tabletop deployment zones.

Battalion HQ: Btn. CinC team with kubelwagen.

Company HQ: CinC, 2iC, 2x MG42 teams, 2x 8cm mortar teams, 2x kubelwagen, 4x Kfz 70 trucks.

3x Panzerpioneer platoons: Cmd, 6x pioneer R/MG teams, 3x Kfz 70 trucks, Kfz 15 car. The pioneer truck for 1st platoon only.

Panzer grenadier platoon: Cmd Pzkr, 6x MG teams, 3x Kfz 70 trucks, Kfz 15 car.

Assault gun platoon: 3x StuG G.

Half-Track Panzerspah platoon: Two patrols of each 1x Sd Kfz 250, 2x Sd Kfz 250/9 (2cm)

Light AA gun platoon: 2x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm) H/T

Motorized artillery battery off-board: Cmd, staff, 4x 10.5cm LeFH18, 2x obs, plus observers stationed off-board in surrounding hills, seeing entire battlefield.

 

Print sources used for the scenario:

Salerno: American Operations From the Beaches to the Volturno (9 September-6 October 1943) is one of a series of fourteen studies of World War II operations originally published by the War Department’s Historical Division and now returned to print as part of the Army’s commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of that momentous clash of arms. These volumes, prepared by professional historians shortly after the events described, provide a concise summary of some of the major campaigns and battles fought by American soldiers. The skillful combination of combat interviews with primary sources, many of which are now lost, gives these unassuming narratives a special importance to military historians.

Salerno

Salerno(1),jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0004

BF FOW North Africa bookcover salerno-a-military-fiasco

Published and future Salerno 1943 scenarios (American sector) planned with historical date and scenario title name:

Sept 9th   1). Paestum Landing (night landing of 141st RCT)

Sept 11th 2). Calore River crossing (179th 2nd Btn.) covered by this blog article

Sept 11th 3). Ordeal of the 179th RCT (179th RCT)

Sept 11th 4). 1st Battle Tobacco Factory (157th RCT)

Sept 12th 5). Hill 424, German Counterattack (142nd RCT)

Sept 12th 6). 2nd Battle Tobacco Factory (157th RCT)

Sept 13th 7). Retaking Altavilla and Hill 424 (142 & 143 RCT)

Sept 13th 8). Storm breaks at Tobacco Factory (157th RCT and elements of 179th RCT)

Sept 14th 9). Holding the Last Line

 

Early holiday cheer from the warren.

WR

Linking “Ordeal of the 179th RCT’ and ‘Calore River crossing” scenarios option:

Players can elect to linking the Calore River crossing scenario with the “Ordeal of the 179th RCT” scenario, occurring just north of the Calore River crossing scenario map edge. If units of either side exit the red marker zone “D”, they will appear after one turn delay, in the “Ordeal of the 179th RCT” scenario at that scenario’s map “D” zone.

For sequential timing…. both scenarios are assumed to have the same turn count for this inter-map transfer of units…. turn one is turn one on each scenario battlefield for example. Both scenarios are scheduled for twelve turns in length.

German units are restricted from exiting the Calore River crossing scenario map until all American units are cleared north of the Calore river or American side defeat. Maximum of two German platoons can exit off the northern “D” zone to enter the other northern scenario battle. Americans have no unit restriction, except the Calore River crossing scenario map must be cleared of all German units or German defeat before exiting any unit.

Unit flow is one directional…. Units can only exit Calore River crossing scenario map to the northern Ordeal of the 179th RCT scenario map. Players cannot exit the”Ordeal of the 179th RCT scenario map to enter and effect the Calore River crossing scenario map or scenario play.

WR Note: The scenario map red zones “A”, “B”, and “C” are linking exit points for the future “Hill 424 German Counterattack” scenario to the “Calore river crossing” scenario.

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