Calore River 1943 revisited

Last time WR’s Calore River crossing 1943 scenario was played the Germans eked out a narrow victory. For the Orccon 2017 convention, Daniel (WR’s son) wanted to run the same scenario since he missed the first game. Joined by FOW veteran Bruce, teamed with young Jesse, the scenario replay was hard-fought for ten turns. In the end, a new victor, American or German was determined, but the reader will have to read the AAR… or just scroll down to the final scene.

Scenario starts with the deployment of both sides (FOW meeting engagement mission basically, alternating platoon placement) and the Americans have first move. This is important for the German player to notice and plan his deployment carefully, knowing his exposed platoons will receive immediate American firepower after the American movement step is completed.

Full table with both sides deployment. Germans on left, Americans on right with first movement. Table is 6′ x 8′

A quick recap of the American and German platoons involved in the scenario before the AAR narrative. All the American platoons start on the tabletop, two of the vehicle German platoons are reserves and will arrive on turn two. Specific deployment zone bands are described in the scenario notes file. For a complete scenario background and scenario notes, click on this link: Calore River crossing 1943. 

American Order of Battle: Platoons organized from Battlefront’s Flames of War North Africa book for a Rifle company.

Battalion HQ 2nd/179th RCT command team with jeep (treat as extra replacing company CinC command team if lost).

2nd Battalion 179th RCT includes: Company HQ (CinC, 2inC, 2x bazooka), 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rifle platoons (Cmd, bazooka, 9x rifle teams each), weapons platoon (Cmd, 3x M2 60mm mortar, 4x M1919 LMG), mortar platoon (Cmd, 6x M1 81mm mortars), I/R platoon (Cmd, 3x rifle teams, jeep w/50cal, 3x jeeps).

Attached units include: M4a1 tank platoon (5x M4a1), SP A/T platoon (Cmd, jeep 50cal, 2x jeep, 2x carbine teams, 4x M3 75mm GMC) using tank destroyer rules, and the off-board field artillery battery (Cmd, staff, observer, jeep, 4x M2a1 105mm howitzers). Cannot be counter-bombarded during scenario.

American deployment right zone. I/R platoon in field, 81mm platoon mortars line the river, and one rifle platoon, with TD security sections interposed, on the raised ground.

American left flank deployment has (l to r); one rifle platoon in woods, the M4 Sherman platoon, and another rifle platoon astride the road. The red spots denote battalion CinC / Co. CinC teams.

German Order of battle: Platoons organized from Battlefront’s Flames of War North Africa book for a Panzer grenadier Pioneer company with two additional 8cm mortars placed in pioneer company HQ. Platoon transport is available if listed with platoon structure.

Battalion HQ 29th Pioneer Battalion command team with kubelwagen (treat as extra replacing company CinC command team if lost).

29th Pioneer Battalion includes: Company HQ (CinC, 2inC, 2x MG42 teams, 2x 8cm mortar teams, 2x Kubelwagen, 4x Kfz 70 trucks). 3x Panzer pioneer platoons (Cmd Pzkr, 6x pioneer R/MG teams, 3x Kfz 70 trucks, Kfz 15 car, and a pioneer truck only for 1st platoon).

Attached units include: 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 with two patrols (1x Sd Kfz 250, 2x Sd Kfz 250/9 (2cm) each). Light AA gun platoon (2x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm) H/T).

Off board Motorized Artillery battery (Cmd, Staff, 4x 10.5cm LeFH18 howitzers) positioned in the local hills on call with observed fire anywhere on the scenario battlefield. Cannot be counter-bombarded during scenario.

Panzer grenadier platoon forward in open ground/field astride road. One pioneer platoon with Panzerspah patrol on low hill at right. Another pioneer plus HQ kampfgruppe gun teams foreground. Off photo to left is remaining pioneer platoon and second Panzerspah patrol.

Note: For scenario, the American player team combat attached the weapon platoon’s four .30 cal light machine guns to the two central rifle platoons. The three 60mm mortar teams remained with the weapon platoon positioned behind the right hand rifle platoon. Team Germany formed a HQ kampfgruppe of the two 8cm mortar teams and attached MG42 HHG teams.

Turn One: With first turn movement the American started their assault. The M4 Sherman platoon moves forward to rake the exposed hilltop pioneer platoon for two team loss. The American infantry attempted to dig in (one successful rifle platoon), then opened fire upon the exposed panzer grenadier platoon, inflicting only one loss after some superb Daniel “save” die rolling. Both German platoons were pinned by the firepower volume and hits.

M4 Sherman roll forward. Their MG cut down several of the surprised pioneer teams while the rifle platoons inflict loss on the exposed forward panzer grenadiers.

With one rifle platoon successfully dug in, the exposed panzer grenadiers received a heavy volume of rifle and light machine gun firepower. Still only one dead team after some lucky save die rolling.

Grand table side view of the completed American 1st half turn action.

German response was quick… either hit the dirt, bolt for tree cover, or find that shovel. Panzer grenadiers, being veteran made their dig in skill roll then opened fire on the exposed American rifle platoon. Several hits, pinned and a dead team for their effort. The right hilltop pioneers un pinned and retired into the nearby woods along with the Panzerspah patrol. The central rear pioneer platoon, with the mortar/MG42 kampfgruppe advance to occupy the hedges and farmstead position.

German response. Dig in with the panzer grenadiers, retire the hilltop pioneer platoon and Panzerspah patrol into the woods, while the central pioneer platoon, with mortars and MG42 teams, occupy the farmstead.

Out on the left flank the sole pioneer platoon digs in and remains hidden behind their Italian hedge. One barbwire unit is emplaced out on the platoons’ right flank. Meanwhile, the other Panzerspah patrol, on left flank, moves forward to reach the Calore river.

Left flank has the pioneer platoon digging in behind their Italian hedge while the other Panzerspah patrol moves towards the Calore river.

Turn Two: American center left continues their advance with the M4 Sherman platoon, machine guns blazing. Turning the hedge corner bounding the field, the Sherman crews see exposed German pioneers and their weapons platoon HQ kanpfgruppe near the farmstead. Several teams are cut down without firing a shot. Not a good turn for the Germans so far. Support by the rifle platoon, which failed to entrench, has their rifles hot from the advancing fire upon the entrench panzer grenadier platoon.

M4 Sherman tanks round the hedge corner and machine gun down several teams from the exposed weapon platoon kampfgruppe and pioneer platoon near the farmstead.

View of the MG raked pioneer and weapon kampfgruppe platoons by the M4 Sherman platoon rounding the hedge corner.

Table center, the entrenched rifle platoon fires full clips into the forward panzer grenadier platoon. The mortar rump of the weapon platoon drops 60mm shells on the same panzer grenadiers while the secretive TD security section jeeps add in their jeep machine guns. Well pinned to their foxholes, the panzer grenadiers endure.

Center table shows the entrenched rifle platoon, the security TD sections, and the rump of the weapon platoon (60mm mortars) pounding the mother earth hugging panzer grenadiers.

German reserves arrive on schedule turn two. The StuG III assault platoon rumbles down the roadway to try long-range engagement with the Sherman platoon over the pioneer’s gone to ground heads. One hit… and bounced by the frontal American steel. The nearby German pioneer battalion commander team wasn’t very impressed by the StuG’s performance. Out on the far left flank, the unarmored light 2cm AA platoon (section) arrives to join the forward pioneer platoon hiding behind the Italian shrubbery, watching the left flank Panzerspah patrol movement edge forward along the Calore riverbed bush.

StuG III assault platoon arrives to engage the distant Sherman tanks. Light unarmored 2cm AA section joins with the forward pioneer platoon, laying another barbwire section.

Peeking over the foxhole edge, the panzer grenadiers, being veteran, unpin and return fire on the exposed American riflemen. One or two rifle teams are dropped, leaving the red marker of death to mark their passing.

Veteran panzer grenadiers platoon unpin and returns fire, removing several American rifle teams from the American order of battle. Red outline markers represent dean teams.

Turn Three: The American forward attack continues. Bruce and Jesse have the Germans on their back-foot so to speak. The M4 Sherman platoon takes long-range shots with the arriving StuG III platoon with little effect (one bounced hit). The rifle platoon charges home against the panzer grenadiers flank… but shoot dead the only PG team in reach. After assault consolidation movement they feel very exposed. The rest of the central American riflemen occupy the central building and keep up their firing on the panzer grenadiers, who by now have very deep foxholes. The last rifle platoon, occupying the left flank woods, advances to cover the exposed rifle platoon’s open flank behind the Shermans. American off-board 105mm battery ranges in on the StuG III to add to their discomfort. Time to move the assault guns before they are blasted apart.

Charge into no one. The panzer grenadier team is killed by advancing fire so the rifle platoon just consolidated in the field looking very exposed. Shermans engage the StuG III platoon off photo.

German spirits rise when their encroaching Panzerspah patrol and the arriving light 2cm unarmored AA platoon open fire on the American right flank I/R platoon. Three dead teams and the sole survivor bolted for the rear lines. One dead platoon scored.

One very dead American I/R platoon after the Panzerspah and light 2cm AA platoon open fire.

Seeing American 105mm shells exploding near them, the StuG III platoon rapidity shift position while engaging the Sherman tanks. One Sherman is brewed up by the accurate German panzertruppen.

While 105mm bombardment shells land nearby, the cool and collected StuG III panzertruppen  shift position and brew up one Sherman beyond the farmstead.

German right flank has been in limbo since the scenario start. Finally the reduced German pioneer platoon lines the hilltop woods and is entrenched. The nearby Panzerspah patrol wonders what to do… cannot go forward with the Sherman 75mm cannon before them so they remain concealed in the woods for now.

View from the German held hilltop woods. The German pioneer platoon recovers and remained entrenched while the Panzerspah patrol lurks nearby.

End of turn three has the tabletop in full battle action. The third American rifle platoon, in left foreground, finally has made their 1st advance movement.

Center table has the StuG III platoon dodging falling American shells. Panzer grenadiers keep the American central advance grounded for now. Left pioneer platoon in foreground behind hedge.

Turn Four: After watching the I/R platoon be ripped apart last turn, the American player team turn serious firepower on the German left flank platoons. Uncovering the SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC vehicles near their security teams, the firepower unleashed destroys the Panzerspah patrol near the river and, assisted by the 60mm weapon platoon mortars and rear six tube 81mm mortar battery, destroy the two unarmored 2cm light AA platoon too. Two German platoon lost this firing step. For the rest of turn four the German platoons learn quickly to keep their heads down except the panzer grenadiers firefighting the American infantry.

The uncovered SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC cannon and mortar batteries rip apart the Panzerspah and light AA platoons.

Shifting away from the StuG III platoon, the M4 Sherman platoon redeploy to face the hilltop woods occupied by the reduced German pioneer platoon and remaining Panzerspah patrol. They cover, with their machine guns by pinning the pioneers, the advance of the rifle platoon calmly walking forward with the aim to clear the woods and flank. Finding shovels on the backpack, the central rifle platoon, exposed in the field near the panzer grenadiers, digs to save their butts as German 10cm shells land nearby, fired by the off-board German battery. Bullets lace across the Italian earth between the panzer grenadiers and riflemen teams.

At the farmstead the body markers are becoming numerous. The exposed American rifle platoon takes losses from off-board German 10cm artillery fire as the Sherman platoon face pioneers.

Turn Five: The Sherman platoon closes within six inches and spot the Panzerspah patrol inside the woods. Opening shots catch one halftrack, reducing it to a burning wreck as the other two bug out deeper into the woods. The reserve American rifle platoon continues their forward advance another move towards the hilltop woods. Having dug their foxholes under German artillery shelling, the battered central rifle platoon opens fire on the panzer grenadiers, joining the two mortar batteries (60mm and 81mm), the redeployed SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC cannon, and the untouched entrenched rifle platoon with blasting the panzer grenadier position. Another dead MG team, the veteran panzer grenadiers are now checking morale for over 50% loss. American off-board 105mm battery bombardment chases the moving StuG III platoon, seeking a lucky hit.

Sherman blast one German halftrack, the pioneer stay low in their foxholes. Upper left the fierce firefight between the American rifle platoons and the panzer grenadiers continues.

Central view shows the massed American firepower blasting the panzer grenadier position. Two mortar batteries, rifle platoon and the SP A/T platoon send shells and bullets.

Seeing the scenario may depend on holding the farmstead and preventing American expansion, the German battalion commander team race forward from the rear tree line position towards the farmstead.

The pioneer platoon holding the farmstead see their battalion commander running to join them.

Turn Six: American platoons close in on the hilltop woods. Sherman tanks crash into the wood, chasing the fast-moving Panzerspah, who have escaped again from the American 75mm shells earmarked for them. American rifle fire pop-mark the woods frontal edge but the pioneers are well dug in. Seeing the opportunity…. pioneers with explosives vs. tanks in woods, the pioneers exit their foxholes and prepare to launch their assault, teller mines and panzerknackers ready. They roll their tank terror morale test…. and fail to close. Now they are left out in the open per se… with just trees between them and the Americans next turn.

After receiving rifle fire and the Panzerspah vehicles scoot away, the pioneers teams exit their foxholes to assault the Sherman platoon. But alas, they fail their tank terror morale test to assault.

Central table has the Americans player team frustrated with blasting the panzer grenadiers every turn. Seeing the opportunity while the Sherman platoon is busy in the hilltop woods, the StuG III advance, still dodging the American 105mm shells raining around them, to engage the SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC enemy. Two M3 GMC are destroyed and another crew bailed out after a new 75mm hole appears in their thin armor. American platoon morale is rolled and passed.

The SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC platoon is shot apart by the long-range StuG III 75mm cannon. Two vehicles destroyed and another crew bail out. Morale test taken and passed.

General view after turn six completed and half way for scenario (12 turn limit). Panzer grenadiers in front of farmstead are reduced to three teams now.

Turn Seven: End for the German defenders of hilltop woods. American riflemen close in, firing on the move, the Sherman platoon shift position, both remove the pioneers from the tabletop. The sole surviving pioneer team breaks morale and bolts off table. This leaves the two Panzerspah halftracks contesting the woods. Threatened by the nearby American infantry, they exit the woods but one vehicle bogs down in the wood. Next turn will see the end of the Panzerspah patrol since they recce disengaged and must regroup stationary next turn.

Totally exposed from their failed assault on the Sherman tanks, pioneer platoon is destroyed by rifle and tank machine guns. The Panzerspah patrol exits the woods leaving one vehicle bogged.

American rifle platoon continue to engage their opposite in the panzer grenadier foxholes with little to show for the expenditure of bullets. Finally the 81mm mortar battery removes another veteran panzer grenadier team by bombardment but they pass again the platoon morale. They are reduced to two teams now, still holding their forward position. StuG III gunners destroy another M3 GMC vehicle after one StuG III is destroyed by the off-board American 105mm battery. Panzer grenadiers get lucky, for once their HQ 8cm mortar teams hit Americans, and drop another American rifle team near the building, At same time the off-board German 10cm battery bombardment lands on the building target itself. American teams are staggered / pinned and several are lost to add to the mounting losses.

The fields are covered with red markers. German 10cm battery bombards the central farm building and inflects losses on the American garrison.

All quiet on the left flank. StuG III engage the M3 GMC platoon.

Turn Eight: Seeing the stationary nearby Panzerspah patrol, the American rifle platoon rush and close assault the bogged vehicle. One rifle team gunned down by the nearby German halftrack. Grenades make short work of the bogged German vehicle and crew. The last German Panzerspah halftrack bolts from the tabletop for another destroyed platoon. Now four German platoons have been destroyed, one more destroyed platoon, and the German company morale testing commences to force German retirement and American victory (>50% tabletop platoons).

End of Panzerspah upper left of photo. the farmstead pioneer and HQ kampfgruppe garrison the farm. The depleted rifle platoon occupy the open field trading shots with the pioneers and PG.

Center table has another American success. Their off-board 105mm battery finally hits another StuG III and destroys. The last StuG III exits the tabletop from their failed platoon morale test. German company morale testing starts since five platoons have now been destroyed for only one American. The German battalion rolls their morale and pass to continue the battle for turn eight. With no armor and nearly destroyed panzer grenadier platoon (two team remaining), only the two remaining pioneer platoons provide the active German defense since the weapon HQ kampfgruppe is just the two mortars and 2inC team (still plunking away). One platoon stationed at the farmstead, joined by their battalion commander team now, the other out of the battle basically and hiding behind the left flank hedge.

While the left flank pioneer platoon finishes their barbwire defense, the Stug III platoon exits the battlefield after losing another StuG III to American artillery bombardment.

Turn Nine: Sherman platoon closes in on the farmstead defenders and sending 75mm shells and machine gun bullets into their foxholes. The nearby battered rifle platoon stationed in the open field charge forward to assault the farm building. their assault fails when five defensive hits are inflected and two more teams red mark the battlefield (and pass their platoon morale test). The panzer grenadiers are shelled to death…. 105mm battery, the 81mm mortar battery, the 60mm mortar battery, one 75mm M3 GMC crew, and full clips of rifle fire from the American infantry. Both panzer grenadier teams die under the weight of firepower.

Sherman close the range to shell the farmstead as American battered rifle platoons prepare to assault or move forward from the hilltop woods.

With the end of the panzer grenadier platoon, the German morale must have been shaken. The company morale test is rolled and with a two showing on the dice, the scenario is over. German morale has failed and remaining German platoons are assumed to exit the tabletop… two pioneer platoon in total. American losses, while only one platoon (I/R platoon) totally removed, the SP A/T 75mm M3 GMC 75% destroyed, several near 50% loss, especially the two rifle platoons shot to pieces. With several more teams lost, it could have gone the other way with a German victory and American company morale failure.

End of scenario before the two German pioneer platoon bug out for another day. Clearly the heavy casualties are seen and red marked center table.

Aggressive team American play won the scenario and seeking to remove five German platoons as a battle plan worked. Initial German set up caused the German right flank to suffer losses from the American first turn movement, and then quickly be contained in the hilltop woods till destroyed. Some luck with the American artillery in removing the StuG III platoon, they chased it across the German battle lines for half the scenario. German dice luck could have been better at times…. they had a good chance to wreck the Sherman platoon in the woods with pioneer assault.

Well played Bruce and Jesse. You evened the Calore river crossing scenario score with one German and now, one American victory. Interested players can always contact WR (see “About the WR” tab in menu pull down) about future games in the warren, off-warren, or convention game events. All are welcome to toss dice.

Previous played Calore River crossing scenario AAR if interested in a comparative game report: Calore River crossing 1943 AAR

Cheers from the warren.

WR

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5 thoughts on “Calore River 1943 revisited

      • It’s hard to believe that it is more than 70 years now since the end of WW2 – it is about as real to teens now as the Civil War was to us!

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