Peiper’s Charge 1944 AAR

Peiper’s Charge….WR’s grand convention Flames of War 3rd Edition 20mm scenario for this year’s HMGS-PSW regional Fall Mini Wars convention. Scenario features a winter 1944 Bulge scenario fought along the eighteen foot table (18′ x 5′) length.

The full table scenario set up, all eighteen feet of length. Viewed from the German entrance side towards their distant exit edge.

Opposite view showing the German foreground exit edge towards the distant German entrance at right table corner.

Scenario details: Complete scenario details can be read on WR’s previous post on Peiper’s Charge. Includes the platoon forces for both sides, the extra platoon reinforcements available or suggested to add character to scenario, some terrain details, objective notes, and WR thoughts on the scenario, especially towards play: Peiper’s Charge Introduction and Preparation and Winter Terrain construction.

Having completed the scenario tabletop setup, taken photos of the starting position, having gather the two 4-player teams for a pregame conference to cover the scenario and special FOW rules, WR explained to team German players the need to keep moving forward every turn. For the American player group, figure out any ways to delay and slow the German advance but be aware of the special German bonus movement when American fuel depots are seized. Meeting over, the signal rocket is launched. Scenario AAR commentary on the turn by turn action with Table maps embedded.

Turn One: Germans have first movement and roar onto the tabletop with three chosen platoons (Attack Column rule) plus the starting Fallschirmjager platoon facing down the American roadblock platoon position. Seen by the Americans defending Lanzerath village, the German deploy their SS King Tigers (2x), a SS Panther platoon (4x), the SS SPA Grille battery (6x), and Peiper’s own command SS Panther tank, moving across the “slow going” snowy ground. Starting next to the American forward defenses, the Fallschirmjager platoon clear away the American minefield (one team blown up) and the barbed wire. Positioned to assault now but pinned by the mine explosion, the Fallschirmjagers think hard seeing the prepared Americans manning their HMG in the building and lining the hasty trench work. German stormtrooper movement rolled for each platoon and performed.

Note: All vehicle movement off the road is rated slow going. For most tracked vehicles that is 8″ maximum movement per turn. For jeep teams, WR specially ruled them to have 6″ movement vs. the normal FOW distance of 4″ cross-country. So movement on the roadway is paramount for the Germans to keep to schedule and meet the scenario 25 turn road exit requirement at the table end. All German Stormtrooper rolls are 3+ to succeed during scenario.

Three German platoon enter the tabletop. King Tigers (2x), Panthers (4x) and SPA Grille platoon plus Peiper’s command Panther tank. Fallschirmjager clear away the American defenses.

American see targets everywhere. Their bazooka team miss the mass of German thin armor before them, but the American M! Garand plus a stream of bullets from their HMG cut down two Fallschirmjager teams to bloody the snow dusted ground. To add some insult, they place their booby trap on the Fallschirmjager. Back in the far distant American rear area, American scrap yard tank platoon start their used tank motors and drive quickly towards the front line (Table Three). Over their radio net something about German tanks reported near Lanzerath.

Note: WR error. The booby trap marker can only be placed in own deployment territory or in no mans land. Since the Fallschirmjager hadn’t moved from their starting position, they should have been declared still in their deployment area and no booby trap placement.

American open fire and bump off two Fallschirmjager teams plus deploy their booby trap marker.

Turn Two: German players drive three more platoon cross-country onto the tabletop. Arriving are both SS Panzergrenadier platoons in their Sdkfz 251 half tracks (4x each) and another SS Panther (4x) platoon. Now twenty-five German armored vehicles seen driving around Lanzerath and mostly heading for the depleted American rifle platoon stationed in Bullingen who, by now wonder about their armor support. Fallschirmjager unpin and, while attempting forward movement, trip off the American placed booby trap. Another Fallschirmjager team removed and red outline marker placed plus new platoon pinned marker. Being pinned, the Fallschirmjager stay close to earth while the repositioned SPA Grille open fire with their large 15cm shells at Lanzerath defenders. No hits…. but it was close on two rolls (6 was needed).

Note: WR plays the “Bunker Buster” SPA Grille shells are not pure “auto kill” 1+ if hit effect as in MRB. If the American team is hit, they must perform successful double save rolls to prevent removal per bunker buster hit. There is always a small chance for anything to happen thinks WR.

The Fallschirmjager trip the booby trap and lose another team. Thus the platoon is pinned again before the Americans in Lanzerath.

The massed German panzer drive towards Bullingen village at top were the depleted American rifle platoon is stationed. Shells start to rain down on the riflemen and Lanzerath is pounded.

Driving forward, the local (Table One) American Sherman tank platoon (4x) commander radios ahead to the riflemen stationed in Bullingen. How many panzers? Where are they? Suddenly the low mist clears and the horrified tank commander sees German panzers…. too many panzers advancing on his tank position behind Bullingen. Buttoning up, the American tankers charge forward while radioing in for support from the scrap yard reserve tank platoon. What was that GM meeting about thinks the tank commander? Delay the Germans even if you must brew up on the roadway to delay the German advance…..

The local Sherman support platoon arrives near Bullingen and sees the mass of German panzers.

American view from Bullingen as the first wave of Panthers approach the village.

Turn Three: The German panzer traffic jam grows larger with the arrival of two SS Panzer IV G platoons (4x each) and the SS Wirbelwind AA flak battery (4x). This completes the German platoon arrivals for the scenario. Pressing forward the mass of German panzers approach Bullingen and the depleted American rifle platoon defenders, backed in the distance by their local Sherman tank platoon. SS Panzers roll forward with cannon roar, sending 75mm and 88mm shells into buildings and foxholes. One American rifle team removed at Bullingen. Back in Lanzerath, the SPA Grille 15cm battery pound the American trenches, another American team is removed. Rolling 2cm flak cannon shells riddle the Lanzerath building walls. Heroically the HMG team dodge every 2cm volley while manning their gun.

The massed German panzer traffic jam in progress. American roadblock platoon in Lanzerath have done their job well as they feel the weight of German firepower.

After firing their 7.5cm cannon into the American positions, the leading SS Panther platoon storms the outer defense. Bazooka rockets damage one Panther, whose crew bails out (stunned), meanwhile the other Panthers grind one rifle team under their tracks or machine-gunned fleeing Americans. Seeing the weight of the German attack, the rifle platoon slip further back into Bullingen village to recover.

Panthers storm the outer American defense at Bullingen. One tank hit by the bazooka team and bailed out (stunned) as the fellow Panthers grind one rifle team to bits.

End of German third turn. Clearly the weight of the German attack is directed towards Bullingen village. The American roadblock platoon grimly holds their trench or building at Lanzerath.

Seen in the gloom of the winter day, American tanker see the German panzers advance nearing Bullingen. Two 75mm Sherman tanks drive towards the roadway as their 76mm armed tanks halt in position and bounce shells off the thick Panther frontal armor. In Lanzerath the roadblock platoon cut down another Fallschirmjager team struggling before them. At Bullingen, the rifle platoon recover their wits and position themselves in the buildings of Bullingen.

American armor opens fire on the mass of German Panthers. But their 76mm shells bounce off the thick armor.

Turn Four: Peiper orders the Fallschirmjager platoon to assault Lanzerath after unpinning them. Positioning themselves, their rifles and MG42 machine guns rake the American trench. SPA Grille 15cm shells blast apart another team. More panzer 7.5cm shells explode in the hopeless American position…. save roll after save roll needed. Fallschirmjager launch their assault. Bullets from the HMG crew and grenades. One Fallschirmjager team drops into the snowy ground. Smoke clears as the Americans are wiped out, the HMG team wounded but throwing MG belts at the doorway at the end.

Fallschirmjager assault and wipe out the American roadblock platoon after losing another team to the defensive HMG fire.

Near Bullingen, the German Panthers smell American iron blood. With the King Tigers, the leading Panther platoon brew up three American Sherman tanks. Morale test, the sole American Sherman crew bugs out and flees the battlefield. SS Panzergrenadier approach Bullingen, preparing to disembark from their Sd Kfz 251 tracks, armed to the teeth. For the Americans, only the depleted rifle platoon is engaging the Germans. The supporting M10 TD platoon (2x) still is seeking hidden advantage, in the woods position, as the sector American CinC and 2iC command teams jeep drive top speed towards Stavelot to alert the AR platoon defenders. Far in the rear the scrap yard tank platoon driving fast along the icy road towards Stavelot (on Table Two).

German panzer might brews three American Sherman tanks to flaming ruin. The sole survivor bolts for the rear after seeing his fellow tankers burn.

Turn Five: Bullingen falls this turn orders Peiper over the radio net. Two platoons of SS Panzergrenadier dismount and rush forward, firing their MG teams into the close ruins of Bullingen. SS Panthers sharpshoot any American infantry foolish to poke his head out any window. King Tigers manoeuvre around the village to cut off fleeing Americans. The end is ugly…. the King Tigers cut down routing Americans outside in the open with machine guns and wide tracks.

Village taken by the SS Panzergrenadier who seize all the building and the fuel depot.

Bad day when you are fleeing and get machine-gunned then run over by King Tigers. No survivors.

Table One all American platoons are almost wiped out. Only the small M10 TD platoon hides in the nearby woods covering the road remains. On Table Two the scrap yard tank platoon pulls off the road after hearing of the fall of Bullingen.

Note: The scrap yard tank platoon has two Sherman 75mm tanks, a M24 Chaffee, M10 TD, and M36 TD Jackson. A true mixture of American steel.

Scrap yard tank platoon pulls off the road to Stavelot to await new orders. Engineer platoon holds the bridge at Trois Ponts at right while Stavelot lies at top

Turn Six: Big German turn…. the American fuel depot is seized giving the entire German army a free bonus movement before their normal Movement turn. The entire German panzer column roars forward.

Note: Seizing the three American fuel depots give the Germans three possible extra movement turns during the scenario play. Scenario special and unique rule.

The Germans have occupied the American fuel depot objective so every German platoon receives an “immediate full extra movement” before their normal turn.

Entire German command drives (or walks) forward one complete movement. SS Panther platoon in foreground with Wirbelwind AA flak platoon and Fallschirmjäger. On road is King Tigers, Panthers, Panzer IV, and half tracks.

Seeing no American to target except for a very distant and fleeing jeep team entering Stavelot, the German panzers are wary of possible M10 TD platoon ambush. Darting security teams on jeep and M20 seen among the trees nearby….. suddenly the M10 uncover and open fire…. at the Wirbelwind platoon since the KT’s and Panthers make poor shots at frontal armor. Two hits… but armor-piercing 3″ shells sail right through the thin armor and just rattle the crews. Holly crap…. as the KT 88mm draw a bead on the American tankers.

The hidden M10 TS platoon is ambush deployed and opens fire… at the distant SS Wirbelwind platoon. Two hits but the AP 3″ just sail through the thin armor plating.

General view of the German advance along the road. Several platoons go cross-country behind the woods and burning Sherman tanks. M10 TD firing at the Wirbelwind platoon behind Panthers.

Meanwhile the crafty Peiper himself has slipped into a position to spot the American road block platoon behind Ligneuville. If they pop up their heads, he can call down the SPA Grille battery on them.

SS Peiper himself tries to spot (for the SPA Grille battery) the distant dug in American road block platoon behind Ligneuville.

Turn Seven: Shoot out in the woods for this turn. One M10 TD becomes the candidate of the month to represent a tank sized cheese grater based upon the number of pass through German AP shells. The plunky-lucky American tankers drove into the snow to avoid the heavy screaming German shells then passed every double bail out morale test thrown and fired at them. As German tanks pass slowly the woods more shells are fired, hitting trees it seems. Pounding over, the surviving M10 TD commander opens fire on a nearby Panther which brews up in spectacular fashion, Score one for the TD team.

One M10 crew hides from the barrage of German AP shells as the other fires and brews up a nearby Panther. King Tigers close the range on the crew less M10 raking the ground with MG fire.

Turn Eight: The German lead tank platoons cross into Table Two and one tank platoon touches the German road objective in Ligneuville. This triggers the American engineer platoon to start their stationary bridge demolition process every turn at Trois Ponts. Time is now pressing the German players to rush forward and reach the bridges at Trois Ponts, engage the engineers, before the engineers can blow them. German panzer platoon drive past the defiant American M10 TD platoon stationed in the woods. German shells reduce one M10 to total flaming holely ruin. The M10 TD commander is the only TD left and fires at the passing King Tigers. A solid hit and smoke is showing from the German steel hull engine compartment. Player team American celebrate for the moment.

Note: To blow a bridge one stationary engineer team needs to be adjacent and roll a simple 6 on d6. One try each turn at the bridge. Trois Ponts has two bridges for the engineers to blow up.

Back at Trois Ponts bridges a local situation arises. A jeep with a captain arrives to discuss orders with the engineer platoon commander. New orders to delay blowing the bridge are given. That captain was in fact a German in Otto Skorzeny’s Commando Group. He convinced the engineer platoon commander to delay blowing the bridge using their “Spread Rumors” rule which pins the engineer platoon and prevented their bridge demolition attempt.

The American engineer platoon tries to blow up the stone bridges. But a jeep arrives and an American captain orders the engineers to hold off blowing the bridges. Confused, the engineer platoon commander follows his new orders.

Having killed the Panther, the sole TD platoon commander sets on fire a passing King Tiger for good measure. Celebration in the Team American player ranks.

Turn Nine: Seeing their burning King Tiger behind them, the German blast into oblivion the hero M10 TD with several nearby Panther tank using their HE shells. Even the surviving KT adds its 88mm shell into the smoking wreck. Leading Panther platoons advance toward Stavelot, bypassing the American road block platoon positioned behind Ligneuville at the bridge. Other German panzer platoons follow in the Panther snow tracks pressing towards Ligneuville, led by one platoon of SS panzergrenadier half tracks to clear the village, the minefield before the bridge, and eliminate the American road block platoon for good measure. The other SS Panzergrenadier platoon drives towards the large woods near Stavelot.

German panzers advance toward Stavelot (off photo at left) and engage the American road block platoon behind Ligneuville. SS Panzergrenadier arrive in their halftracks to clear the minefield.

Still pinned (confused) from the counter-order given by the German-American captain, the engineer platoon fails to blow the bridges again as the American CinC jeep approaches.

A SS Panzergrenadier platoon arrives near the large woods outside Stavelot. Objective is clear the woods and attack from the woods into Stavelot. Seeing the exposed Sd Kfz 251 vehicles, the repositioning scrap yard tank platoon risks several tanks to engage the distant German half tracks. No hits but the Germans take note and disembark their panzergrenadier next turn into the woods.

The scrap yard tank platoon opens fire on the distant German SS Panzergrenadier in their transport. No hits but the SS Panzergrenadier quickly disembark into the woods.

View from the Armored rifle platoon defenders in Stavelot and seeing the approach of the German panzer SS Panther platoons. The burning M10 TD platoon seen in the woods.

Turn Ten: At Lignueville the American roadblock platoon is hard pressed by the SS Panzergrenadier and Panzer IV platoon. Booby trap deployed on the road approaches as SS Panzergrenadier probe the minefield. Panzer IV 7.5cm HE shells and machine gun bullets rake the trench line, keeping the American heads down.

Panzer IV 7.5cm shells, with machine gun fire, rake the American trench line as SS Panzergrenadier probe for the minefield. Americans place their booby trap on road approaches.

At the large woods outside Stavelot, the other SS Panzergrenadier platoon disembark and advance to clear the woods. Brief gunfire and then the assault goes in. American defensive fire erupts from the dug in teams in the woods and from the nearby buildings of Stavelot. Repulsed by the American firepower, the SS retire with no losses to recover and regroup. Meanwhile, the mass of German armor send their HE shells into the Stavelot buildings, seeking to pin and disrupt the American AR platoon defense.

The SS Panzergrenadier platoon fires on the run and then charges home on the nearby AR platoon dug in. Nearby American team join in and fire upon the assaulting German SS teams.

Repulsed by the heavy volume of American defensive fire, the SS Panzergrenadier retreat to recover and prepare another assault. Lucky, they took no losses in the quick assault attempt.

Back at Lignueville the pressured American roadblock platoon see the advancing SS Panzergrenadier platoon form a narrow column and charge forward. American defensive fire erupts…. their HMG team raking the SS teams. Again the defensive fire repulses the German advance, and equally lucky, the SS took no team losses in their assault attempt.

At Lignueville the SS Panzergrenadier form up and charge forward under American defensive fire.

Again the American defensive fire repulses the SS Panzergrenadier, feeling the volume of fire from the HMG team. Again lucky, no SS teams are lost in the assault attempt.

At the Trois Ponts, the engineer platoon recovers from the confusion and again prepare to blow the stone bridge under the eyes of the American CinC commander jeep team nearby. Seeing the engineers working on destroying the bridge again. the German-American Otto Skorzeny jeep team, with their “captain”, consult with the engineer lieutenant in charge. He grows very supinous, after the German-American captain says his “don’t blow the bridge” orders come from the brigade Lt. Colonel. The engineer lieutenant points to the same Lt. Colonel named by the German-American captain, parked besides his jeep behind them…. let’s ask him directly he asks. Caught directly lying, the nearby engineers react to the sudden German-American jeep crew reaching for their weapons and cut down the German infiltrators. One Skorzeny commando team rubbed out.. there is still another team operating behind American lines.

Caught in their attempt to deceive the American engineer platoon commander again, the Skorzeny team is rubbed out by the engineers. American CinC jeep nearby orders bridge demolition now!

Another bridge destruction attempt to blow the bridges at Trois Ponts. Another failure. American defenders at Lignueville stay low in their trenches, ducking or dodging the heavy weight of German firepower directed at them. In Stavelot, the AR platoon digs in or occupies the town buildings. Behind Stavelot and the woods the scrap yard tank platoon reposition to await the German panzers trying to pass Stavelot. In the same woods the hidden American towed TD platoon, with four 3″ A/T guns, awaits orders to deploy and engage the panzers outside Stavelot.

German panzers and vehicle crowd forward, held back by the American roadblock platoon behind Lignueville and the AR defenders of Stavelot.

Situation at Stavelot. American AR platoon is dug in and occupies the town building, resisting the increasing German bombardment by the panzers. Scrap Yard tank platoon behind the woods.

Turn Eleven: Stavelot comes under direct German artillery bombardment by the SPA Grille battery using open gun sights. Two American AR teams destroyed. Outside the town, German Panther tanks open fire at the building held by American teams. Pinned by the weight of fire, the American AR platoon grimly holds position.

Large 15cm shells land in Stavelot, causing losses among the American AR platoon defenders.

German panzer line up to shell the frontal face of Stavelot. The delay in movement is costing time against the campaign advance.

With the advance stalled, a SS Panzer IV platoon works its way around the large woods to flank the village.

General view of the stopped German advance before Stavelot. Note the SS Panzer IV platoons trying to work around the large woods outside Stavelot.

American hug the ground or hide from the German firepower in Stavelot. Only a brave bazooka team at Ligneuville pops up and damages a nearby Panther tank.

A brave bazooka team pops up and damages a nearby Panther tank.

Turn Twelve: Peiper orders the American defense of Ligneuville reduced and bridge taken so his column can flank Stavelot. Personally his Panther drive forward to support the general attack on the reduced roadblock platoon in their trench. Firepower applied to pin the two team American defenders, then the regrouped SS Panzergrenadier assault again across the same ground. SS Panzer IV platoon awaits their chance to assault from the opposite flank. A short and sharp fight with close range SMG and grenades finishes off the American platoon. SS Panzergrenadier rush across the un-mined bridge while the Panzer IV prepare to follow.

After firing at the American roadblock platoon, the SS Panzergrenadier assault the position as SS Panzer IV await their turn.

After a quick and sharp fight, the American roadblock is cleared away allowing the SS Panzergrenadier to cross the un-mined bridge.

Back at Stavelot the reduction of American defense continues. More American teams are removed from play, either from direct firepower or heavy bombardment by the SPA Grille battery. The delay is causing the German team anxiety as their forward progress has become stalled..

Pounding Stavelot again. German panzer cannon fire and SPA Grille bombardment.

Stavelot holds out. At Trois Ponts the engineers finally destroy one stone bridge arch. No vehicle river crossing at that bridge now. Drop the other bridge span and the German panzer movement will be redirected.

Plunger pressed down, the bridge span is blown up and stops vehicle movement across the river. One more bridge span at Trois Ponts to go.

Turn Thirteen: Stavelot defense is crumbling from the constant German shellfire. The SS Panzergrenadier advance again through the woods and prepare to assault the open ground separating the woods from the town. SS Panzers creep closer and plan to poke their frontal armor between the buildings, targeting the church citadel defensive point with their main cannon. SPA Grille battery bombardment shifts ranging point to the church steeple as the target.  Quickly more 15cm HE shells batter the old church building, near to the above ground fuel depot but cause no fiery end. One then another American AR team disappears in the ruins of Stavelot.

Note: The scenario has no rules if the fuel depot is shelled, especially by large-caliber. It cannot be destroyed by any American action or German bombardment. Maybe WR should add a rule that German template bombardment of the fuel depot marker cannot be done without automatic destruction.

At Ligneuville, the SS Panzergrenadier call forward their transport half tracks and race forward towards the remaining bridge at Trois Ponts followed by the SS Panzer IV platoon crossing the stone bridge choke point. Even Peiper’s command Panther maneuvers to follow the Panzer IV road column.

Lignueville clears as the SS Panzergrenadier remount their half tracks and race towards Trois Ponts and the American engineer platoon defending at the bridge. SS Panzer IV and Peiper follow.

Starvelot sees SS Panzergrenadier jump and assault the outpost American AR defense. A brief struggle and the first buildings are taken, cleared of any American defenders. Behind them another SS Panzer IV platoon navigates the Stavelot woods. Reduced to holding the church and several bazooka teams manning foxholes at the bridge, the AR platoon passes their first moral test for 50%+ loss.

Stavelot is worked over by German heavy artillery (SPA Grille) and platoons of German Panthers. Then the SS Panzergrenadiers seize the outer building reducing the American defense.

American reply is token, a few shots at the SS Panzergrenadier teams as their defense is coming to an end. One Sherman tank from the scrap yard tank platoon seen burning from the bombardment.

The SS Panzergrenadier first assault the outer buildings of Stavelot. Successful building clearance reduces American position to the church and couple of bazooka teams in foxholes at the bridge.

Turn Fourteen: Stavelot falls. Regrouped, the SS Panzergrenadiers assault the church position. The King Tiger assault the AR bazooka teams positioned at the bridge. SS Panther tanks drive into the ruins of Stavelot, Panzer IV line the woods edge. All are ready to grab the fuel depot objective for next turn bonus movement. Down comes the SPA Grille bombardment, pins the Americans in the battered church. Then the SS Panzergrenadiers charge forward, into the church doorway, close range combat among the pews and ceiling columns is bitter. Two rounds of fighting leaves the Americans fleeing the church towards safety…. and fail their morale test. The AR Platoon routs away from the battlefield. King Tiger drive over empty foxholes chasing the ragged AR platoon for the moment in the smoke of battle. Stavelot has been taken.

The final moments of Stavelot. Bombarded, shot at, then charged by SS Panzergrenadier, the AR platoon is reduced to a handful of teams and then fails to rally. Stavelot falls to the Germans.

The SS Panzergrenadier charge home up the church steps. The result is almost a foregone conclusion leaving the SS in control of the church and surrounding ground… and the key bridge.

The American player team is faced with a problem…. deploy their hidden Towed TD 3″ A/T platoon in the woods behind Stavelot or be prevented from close deployment after a double German movement. Remember the Germans have just seized the fuel depot objective so next turn they have a double movement capability. Grim choice…. they deploy the towed 3″ TD A/T battery along the woods edge and open fire. The scrap yard tank platoon moves to shore up the open woods flank with four tanks (M36 Jackson, M10 TD, Chaffee, and one M4a1 Sherman 75mm)

The hidden Towed 3″ TD A/T battery is deployed along the woods edge while the scrap yard tank platoon maneuver to secure the open woods flank.

but wait….who is that American jeep captain talking to the A/T battery commander. Something about the “approaching tanks” are American. Confused the battery commander is about to order his guns to restrain firing when the huge King Tiger is seen. That’s no American tank! Realizing his mistake he orders the fake Americans seized… they resist, and after a short firefight the last Storzeny commando group has been wiped out. Almost worked…. the crafty German almost caused serious damage to the American defense.

All most worked the ruse. The last Storzeny commando jeep group is found out and shot after resisting the Towed 3″ TD A/T battery command group.

Sighting their large 3″ A/T cannon, the American guns open fire. The gunnery duel is on. One Wirbelwind blow up from a direct hit. A burning Panther near the narrow bridge, blocks the easy access to the roadway in Stavelot. Another Panther crew needs to repair their disabled tank. The King Tiger just bounces all AP shot hitting the frontal armor as its turret slowly turns to blast the A/T guns.

Deployed, the Towed 3″ TD A/T battery enters a gunnery duel with the German panzers. Wirbelwind blows up, A Panther is burning and another bailed out near the critical bridge

Turn Fifteen: Fresh fuel supply…. the German received their free movement juice before their normal turn. The pent-up German urge for movement is released and the panzers roll forward to engage the American A/T battery. SS Panzergrenadier exit Stavelot and enter the woods to assault, but first they need to encounter the scrap yard tank platoon with its crew manned machine guns firing into their open flank.

Germans have finally seized the 2nd American fuel depot at Stavelot and receive another free movement before their normal Movement Phase.

With the 3″ A/T guns nearby, the German panzer couldn’t take advantage of full movement and expose their side armor on the road. So most of the German armor did a basic movement on the free turn, then remained stationary to fire full effect at the A/T guns lining the woods or the scrap yard tank platoon. One A/T and crew destroyed and the guns pinned. Two scrapyard tanks (M36 and M10) left burning wrecks. The scrap yard platoon passes their morale for now. SS Panzergrenadier charge forward but are sent backwards from the supportive machine-gun fire from the nearby scrap yard tank platoon. Two SS teams are left lying in the snow.

German panzers blast one 3″ TD A/T gun to ruin then SS Panzergrenadier charge forward into rifle and machine gun fire. The supportive firepower from the scrap yard tank platoon helps….

…. to repulse the SS Panzegrenadier charge and they retire leaving two teams on the snowy ground.

Over at Trois Ponts the German free movement allowed the SS Panzergrenadier to arrive near the bridge with a supportive SS Panzer IV platoon. Disembarking from their Sd Kfz 251 half tracks, which move to the side and machine gun the engineers, the Panzergrenadier open fire as they prepare to charge across the frozen river. A column of Panzer IV tanks rush the bridge. Bazooka fire erupts as the leading Panzer IV bursts into flames on the bridge, ending their assault on the dug in engineers. Faced with a fresh engineer platoon across open ground, the SS Panzergrenadier halt their assault for now.

First the column of SS Panzer IV tanks rumble across the stone bridge. Leading SS Panzer IV erupts in flames, bazooka team scored a hit. SS Panzergrenadier look on halting their assault.

One flaming Panzer IV ruins a good assault across the bridge.

Overall situation on Table Two shows the Germans at Trois Ponts (at left) and outside Stavelot at top. SS Peiper’s command Panther at the road junction.

Having repulsed the SS Panzergrenadier, the Towed 3″ TD A/T battery again engages the German panzers after quickly digging some small foxholes to save their exposed hides. Good shooting…. one Panzer IV crew bailed out near the woods along with another Panther tank damaged.

American Towed 3″ TD A/t battery opens fire again. One Panzer IV is crew bailed and another Panther damaged. Burning scrap yard tanks start to litter the woods flank.

Having repulsed the SS assault, the engineers recover their wits and with no further encouragement, set off the bridge charge with a loud explosion. The burning Panzer IV pitches into the frozen river below.

Pressing the plunger again, the last Trois Ponts bridge is blown along with the burning Panzer IV wreck into the  frozen river.

Stunned by the bridge explosion, the SS Panzergrenadier platoon is totally wiped out to their last team by the full firepower of the engineer platoon. Three SS Panzer tanks are left stuck on the far river bank with no ability to cross the river and ends any German thoughts of going via Trois Ponts route.

Stunned by the bridge explosion, the entire SS Panzergrenadier platoon is wiped out by the full firepower of the engineer platoon. Thus three Panzer IV’s look on the far river bank.

Turn Sixteen: Faced with the need to clear out the woods occupied by the Towed 3″ TD A/T battery, the German panzers maximize their firepower at the remaining three A/T gun teams. Panzer IV platoon lines the woods to engage the remains of the scrap yard tank platoon. Even the pinned SS Panzergrenadier open fire to add to the effort while the SPA Grille battery ranges in. All hell breaks out in the American dug in positions. Shot at by large and small shell, machine guns, rifles, blasted by 15cm shells, the din of explosions daze the American gunners. Another A/T gun with its whole crew are just a smoking hole in the ground. One Sherman M4a1 grows from its internal fires as the Chaffee crew bails out of their thin armor tank, terrified. Behind the German armor line the hard marching Fallschirmjager platoon arrive from across the frozen river, ready to enter the fray, grimly watch the hell being inflicted upon the American position.

Maximum German firepower comes to bear on two American platoons. One A/T gun and crew just a smoking hole, Sherman M4a1 glows internally, the Chaffee crew lies terrified on the ground.

The hurricane of fire pauses for the moment, undaunted the American gunners man their A/T guns and return fire at the charging Fallschirmjager. Chaffee crew man their tank cannon but totally miss the nearby German tanks grinding into the woods, no doubt still totally rattled by the explosive events around them.

American defensive fire proves to be weak…. 3″ shells make a poor defense against veteran German Fallschirmjager using cover to advance and close combat.

Fallschirmjager enter the battery position. The debris and smoke of battle litters the ground or hangs in the still cold air. Desperate gun crews battle with veteran Fallschirmjager in a death grapple, no quarter given or taken. Stillness without sound ends the battle in the woods, except for the burning wrecks, shattered trees, and wounded.

Fallschirmjager clear the woods, one gun pit after another till the last American falls. The battery commander fell early defending a gun with his pistol.

After the savagery in the woods, the Germans redirect their columns to the road and turn the corner heading for their next objective, the junction of Table Two and Three.

Fighting over in the woods, Only the dead and wounded litter the ground around the shattered tress, the smoke of battle drifts from the burning wrecks.

Turn Seventeen: As the engineer platoon watch from behind their river line and blown bridges, they watch the German panzer columns head towards Stoumont on Table Three. The SS Panzergrenader still “camp” (pinned) at Stavelot after their nightmare battle in the woods.

A long line of German tank platoons drive along the single road to Stoumont. Only the SS Panzergrenadier seem to not respond to the German advance orders.

Thinking it’s time to abandon their forward position at Trois Ponts, the engineers decamp and start to road march west to aid the defenders on Table Three near Cheneux. At the narrows along the road to Stoumont, the fresh and veteran American rifle platoon had march east from their starting position at Stoumont and dug in.

The veteran rifle platoon has reached the narrow point and dug in. Soon the heavy sounds of metal tracks moving towards them is heard. Then out of the gloom appears the King Tiger.

Turn Eighteen: Out of the winter gloom the German panzers approach the American veterans, dug in to defend the roadway to Stoumont. Soon the panzers spot the Americans and open fire, dropping shells to root out the Americans. Keeping low in their foxholes, the American avoid returning fire and reveal their actual position.

The King Tiger, a Panther platoon and some Panzer IV’s deploy to shell the dug in veteran rifle platoon.

Turn Nineteen: Faced with the determined veteran rifle platoon stance, the German panzer crews have no way around the roadblock. Peiper orders his panzer crews to run over the Americans. Panzer after panzer send shells down range into the American position as the tracks come closer and closer. Vehicle turret coax and hull machine guns rake the foxhole edges, seeking their human occupants. No dark green helmet pops up.

Finally the near PSS Panzer platoon leads the panzer assault. The single bazooka team pops off a shot towards the Panzer flank. It misses a critical kill but disabled one Panzer IV (bailed) as one American rifle team is overrun and killed. Americans try to counterattack but fail their tank terror test so they fall back 4″ as the Panzer IV platoon occupies the former foxhole front line position. The lead Panzer now occupies the objective for Table Two… three turns after the require cut off of turn sixteen so the American will have two immediate reserve reinforcements arrive when the Germans enter Table Three.

Note: Interesting combat here at the narrows. The German team never used the “Break off through the enemy” rule MRB pg.166 during these assaults. If the German panzers roll successful motivation counterattack, they could, instead of engaging the rifle teams in assault, just made a full movement of 12″ passing completely through the American position by 2″ clearance, and end the assault. If the motivation roll failed, then the tanks must retire away from the American platoon. Should note the American rifle platoon was several ranks deep at start of the combats as seen in photos.

German panzers line up and charge forward raking the American position with shellfire and machine guns raking the foxholes. Grim, the veteran rifle platoon hunker down in their holes.

Bazooka fire from the solo team disable one Panzer IV tank but the other two Panzer IV crush one American rifle team under their tracks and force the Americans to retire 4″. Short success.

The Table Two objective is reached but long after the Turn Sixteen cutoff. Two American platoons become immediate arriving reserves when the Germans cross the Table Three border.

Little movement on the American turn. The Trois Ponts engineer platoon continues their road march to reinforce the Cheneux defense. The veteran rifle platoon un pins from their last brush with the Germans and skillfully dig more foxholes to protect themselves from the German panzer assault.

It’s a long road march for the engineers from Trois Ponts to Cheneux bridge.

Turn Twenty: Another panzer rush against the American rifle platoon now dug in, ready and determined to hold position again. Panzers send shells and rake the foxholes with machine-gun fire. Two teams are destroyed and platoon pinned down again. Three SS Panzer IV’s assault, supported by the King Tiger platoon. The brave bazooka team fires again, damaging one Panzer IV tank (bailed). One rifle team crushed or cut down by machine gun bullets. Boldly the Americans counterattack, passing the tank terror test and score a hit, but no damage. German counterattack motivation fails and the assault ends with the panzers retiring while watching their damaged tank be destroyed. The Americans reoccupy their former foxholes to await the next German panzer assault.

Three SS Panzer IV tanks join the King Tiger platoon assaulting the determined American Rifle platoon at the “narrows”.

One American rifle team is crushed or machine-gunned under.

American counterattack scores a hit (no damage).

Failing their counterattack motivation, the Panzer IV’s retired, losing their damaged tank to the victorious American platoon.

Having entered Table Three with the panzer assault, The American immediate reserve platoons arrive on Table Three since the Germans didn’t reach Table Two objectives by Turn Sixteen. The Americans chose two veteran Paratrooper platoons to march on Table Three. One near Stoumont to garrison the fuel depot and the other at Targnon village protecting the road exit. Plus they start to roll for additional reserve platoons from the reserve pool 5+ on d6.

Note: American Table Three reserve pool has: American air power P-47 on Priority, 2x veteran Paratrooper platoons, 2x Sherman platoons (3x 75mm, 2x 76mm M4a3).

Two Paratrooper platoons arrive. One at Targnon in foreground. The other at Stoumont to protect the exposed fuel depot objective.

The skies open up with the sound of hundreds of American planes…. C-47 transports dropping supply chutes to besieged Bastogne, B-25 bombers striking the German rear areas, and fighter bombers like P-47 seeking targets along the roads. Needing any 5+ on seven dice rolls, the air strikes commence. One P-47 targets the SPA Grille road bound column towards the German rear. Outside the AA umbrella given by the three Wirbelwind AA tanks up forward, the underwing rockets miss the exposed German Grille. Rookie pilot no doubt, much to the German player team relief.

One P-47 sees a dream target…. fires his rockets at the exposed SPA Grille battery… and misses.

Turn Twenty One: Having recovered their worn foxhole position and reformed by removing the pin marker, the veteran American Rifle platoon await the next German panzer assault. Familiar pattern…. panzers advance, fire shell and machine guns at the Americans, one team removed, then the Panzer IV’s and King Tiger assault. The Panzer IV’s assault, losing one tank to the same brave bazooka team. One SS Panzer IV remaining crushes one rifle team. This time the veteran Americans fail to counterattack and fall back, abandoning their foxholes. Breakthrough?

Panzers advance and fire into the American Rifle platoon. Slowly the Fallschirmjager platoon is working its way on the American flank. Meanwhile the stalled panzer column waits….

One american rifle team is crushed and the platoon retires, out of their foxholes. Breakthrough?

American air power shows up again. Two P-47 dive on the massed German panzer column…. plenty of targets under the target template. But the nearby Wirbelwind AA teams open fire and knock down or divert the air strike with their accurate 2cm firepower.

The American P-47 flight targets the massed German panzer column but is shot down or diverted by the accurate Wirbelwind 2cm AA firepower.

Turn Twenty Two: Brave and tough platoon. The American rifle platoon has successfully rallied, removed their pin marker, and dug in again before the panzers. It’s last stand time. The German resume their assault….. firepower kills no-one so the assault starts with the surviving SS Panzer IV tank. Bazooka fire hits nothing so the Panzer IV crushes one rifle team. The American Rifle platoon agin retires towards Stoumont.

Not shown in the photos, the American air power is again shot down or diverted by the Wirbelwind flak battery. One Sherman tank platoon arrives from reserve pool and positions itself in the woods near Stoumont, behind the dug in paratroopers. the other paratrooper platoon advance to create a defensive zone outside Targnon village on the road, wishing they have any bazooka team with them.

Same story…. assault, bazooka missed so the SS Panzer IV crushes one more rifle team.

Slowly the Germans, having been held for several turns at the “narrows”, see the Rifle platoon retire before them once again.

Turn Twenty Three: Obviously a bit rattled now, the veteran rifle platoon doesn’t unpin but makes their entrenchment roll. Same story… panzers fire into the American position, then the track grinding process starts. One rifle team crushed as the bazooka team disables one SS Panther tank (bailed). Trying to reach Stoumont, the rifle platoon breaks off combat and retires.

The end of the veteran rifle platoon? No, they pass their platoon morale and retire again towards Stoumont.

Stoumont is now well defended. The veteran rifle platoon reaches the “safety” of the Stoumont buildings and recovers. Veteran paratroopers dug in around the fuel depot but have no bazooka team in their organization. The M4a3 tank platoon positioned in the woods ready to engage the advancing panzers. Even the American area CinC Lt. Colonel jeep team arrives to command the final battle. The winter gloom curtain soon rises.

Ready for the final battle at Stoumont. Mauled rifle platoon in the forward buildings, paratrooper platoon entrenched around the fuel depot, and the Sherman M4a3 platoon in the woods.

Turn Twenty Four: German player team realize there is no chance to win the scenario with only two scenario turns left to play. They cannot exit the table by end of Turn Twenty-five with three platoons. The Stavelot battle, and the valiant delay at the “narrows” by the veteran rifle platoon, nailed the scenario for the American side. To finish the scenario, the players completed the last two turns.

Breaking the American Stoumont defense. First the massed panzers opened fire on the M4a3 tank platoon. One burning M4a3 75mm Sherman and one bailed. SPA Grille battery bombards the paratroopers hugging their foxhole dirt walls leaving one team pulped. Panzer 7.5cm shells smash into the building walls of Stoumont, killing two rifle teams. Fallschirmjager platoon assaults the outer building and clears the building, losing two teams to the defensive fire. The veteran rifle platoon is finished.

Paratroopers bombarded by the SPA Grille battery, King Tiger and Panthers shell the M4a3 platoon, brewing one tank, bailed another and pound the Stoumont building.

Fallschirmjager platoon charges into Stoumont, clear the outer building, and destroy the last remains of the veteran rifle platoon destruction.

The sole SS Panzer IV tank assaults the paratrooper outer line of foxholes. With no bazooka team they inflict no damage after losing one team, and retire back 4″ to recover.

Paratrooper platoon retires from the sole Panzer IV assault after losing one team to the dreaded tank tracks.

Like the former rifle platoon, the paratrooper recover and dig in again, to await the next panzer assault. Sherman M4a3 tanks brew up one Panther and bail another Panther as another airstrike targets the panzers. Again the Wirbelwind AA flak breaks up the airstrike.

Burning Panther from the M4a3 platoon herald the airstrike attempt… with no result again.

Turn Twenty Five: Last scenario turn… can the German take the fuel depot objective? The panzers form up and open fire on the Sherman M4a3 platoon. Two more burning wrecks. Paratrooper platoon is assaulted by the King Tiger platoon. They call in defensive fire support by the Sherman M4a3 platoon to their rear which fires at the King Tiger. Shells bounce off the thick side armor or completely miss the lumbering breast. One paratrooper team crushed under the wide tracks and they are forced to retire under the long cannon of the Shermans. Fallschirmjager platoon again charge forth to seize the next building besides the fuel depot. Paratrooper defensive fire kills one team. Airborne vs. airborne, the Fallschirmjager kill one paratrooper team in close combat. Counterattacking, the paratroopers wipe out the Fallschirmjager platoon and protect the fuel depot objective for now.

Panthers brew up two more Sherman M4a3 tanks as the King Tiger soon assaults the paratroopers.

King Tiger platoon assaults the paratrooper as defensive fire Sherman AP rounds miss or bounce off the thick armor.

After cutting down one Fallschirmjager team, the Paratroopers counterattack and wipe out the remains of the Fallschirmjager platoon.

Scenario End: The battle is called with a clear-cut American victory. No German platoon exit the table exit at point 2 or 3 before the conclusion of Turn Twenty-five. German panzer column is stalled at Stoumont village, defended by forward paratroop platoon and burning Shermans wrecks. Another paratrooper platoon is dug in, directly on the road preventing German advance. Engineer platoon from Trois Ponts arrives near the Cheneux bridge, soon to prepare for demolition, while a fresh engineer platoon walks cross-country towards the paratroopers holding the key threatened road. P-47 flights overhead, seeking opportunity against the panzers. Still in the American reserve pool is another platoon of Sherman M4a3, ready to enter the tabletop, and flank the German panzer column.

Final positions after twenty-five turns of play. German panzer column stalled at Stoumont village, defended by forward paratroop platoon and burning Shermans. Another paratrooper platoon dug in on road preventing German advance. Engineers arrive near the Cheneux bridge and another engineer platoon going cross-country towards the paratroopers. P-47 flights overhead.

Battle of Stoumont finishes the scenario with the paratroopers still holding the fuel depot objective.

German rear area shows the Wirbelwind AA covering the roadway and the SPA Grille battery moving forward. Back at Stavelot the reduced SS Panzergrenadier march toward the forward battle.

The now quiet battlefield. Another cold day is ahead, followed by several weeks of winter warfare to erase the German offensive called the Battle of the Bulge.

Daniel and WR thank all six players, both German and American for conducting quick play and keep the scenario tabletop play moving. Excellent job gents.

Cheers from the western front. Its cold.


2 thoughts on “Peiper’s Charge 1944 AAR

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