Operation Overcast 1945

WR’s large YR2017 HMGS-PSW regional convention scenario this time was an early version of Operation Overcast, a Flames of War post-war scenario with three not two active sides on the tabletop. The scenario premise has the war just recently ended and distrustful tensions between the allied armies are subdued for the moment by their victory over Nazi Germany. Within days the American Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and Soviet Intelligence Special Branch (NKVD) teams are racing around unoccupied southern Germany seeking the very scientists, technicians, technical drawings, and actual prototypes of the advanced late war German technology. The winner of this “data collection and personnel roundup effort” will have a tremendous technology lead, placing their nation in the forefront and well positioned as the Cold War hostility reveals itself later.

Operation Overcast May 1945 scenario map showing the four general sectors. (L to R): Kummerdorf II, Filegerhorst Kaufbeuren, Mittelwerk, and Camp Dora zones. Table size is 16’x6′

The scenario notes for the game (.doc file): Operation Overcast 1945 Scenario notes

The scenario 16×6 tabletop viewed from the Mittelwerk end. Camp Dora situated at left.

Scenario tabletop from the Kummerdorf II table end. Filegerhorst Kaufbeuren in upper background. The Kummersdorf annex are the buildings upper left in photo.

The central Filegerhorst Kaufbeuren with the advanced German aircraft and missiles scattered about the aerodrome. The former Lionel radar tower atop the low hill at right.

Mittelwerk zone shows the Mittelwerk mountain V-2 factory tunnel entrance, the V-1 launch ramp and assembly building. Rocket test launch pad off photo at left.

Mittelwerk V-2 test launch pad for the advance testing of V-series rockets.

Camp Dora compound. Camp Dora prisoners are the workforce for Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory. Two hut buildings, a barracks, and the “cooler” makes up the corner of Camp Dora pictured.

Electrical power substation for the Kummerdorf II technical factories. Rare to see electrical transmission towers on a tabletop wargame. Rarer still an electrical substation.

Another view of Kummerdorf II zone. WR loves his electrical transmission towers on the tabletop.

Well, the tabletop scene has been described and shown. Now to report the Act I of the scenario; the search by the three American JIOA and three Soviet NKVD platoons as they enter the tabletop. Note: WR used only three teams for each side at the convention. The full scenario calls for four JIOA and NKVD teams on each side.

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Battle of Singling 1944 (AAR)

WR staged a pre-Fourth of July Flames of War 20mm scenario event at his local warren last weekend. Set in the cold winter month of December 1944, near the Franco-German border and the old Maginot line, the scenario Battle of Singling Dec 1944 pits the advancing American 4th Armored Division under Lt. Colonel Abrams against the recently arrived kampfgruppe of the German 11th Panzer Division. Based upon an old WWPD (“What Would Patton Do” site) scenario called “Abram’s Folly”, WR enlarged the scenario forces and tabletop area to allow six to eight players the fun of gaming.

The original scenario from WWPD (What Would Patton Do) blog site was titled “Abrams Folly” and can be read complete with this .pdf file: Abram’s FollyThe Singling 1944 (Expanded) Scenario Forces (.doc) roster outlines the original forces and the WR expanded additional units highlighted in yellow. The enlarged scenario map drawn in typical WR style displays the 8×6 foot table and terrain layout and is followed by a recent Goggle satellite overhead photo and contour relief map.

“SINGLING, LORRAINE, DECEMBER 6, 1944: Lt Colonel Creighton Abrams directed Task Force Abrams, consisting of units of the 37th Tank Battalion and 51st Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division. On the 6th December a battered tank company and understrength infantry company came up against superior German forces in the small farming community of Singling. The assembly and staging area of the 37th Tank Battalion that morning was muddy from all of the recent rain. The halftracks were having difficulty maneuvering and the infantry were ordered to ride on the rear deck of the tanks for the attack on Bining. When Company B/37th was ordered to divert to Singling the infantry went with them unaware of the change of plans. The attack was hasty and unplanned. Intended to remove flanking fire from Task Force Abrams’ drive towards the German border, the attack was nearly a disaster for the Americans.”

Basic map for the Singling Dec 1944 scenario. Improved WR map with proper labeling will be posted in near future. North is left side of map.

Terrain notes: All open ground is a muddy condition. Fully tracked tanks have no movement reduction but all other vehicle restricted to 8″ maximum movement unless on roadway (paved or packed dirt). Woods are 6″ visibility while orchards are 8″ visibility. Long stream with bushes marked on stream bank considered concealment for infantry teams only. Hedges and low stone walls block LOS for infantry teams unless adjacent, all vehicles gain concealment if fired across. All streams, low stone walls, and hedges cause bogging vehicle checks if crossed. Low hill rise, buildings, orchards and woods equal in height for LOS determination. Church tall steeple observation point sees all terrain after 8″ dead zone from blocking terrain feature. Bunkers are noted as “nests” in original WWPD scenario write-up and played as such for this AAR, but looking at the actual modern-day photos, should be true concrete bunkers. German deployment zones (A-D) at scenario start are outlined by yellow boxes. American initial platoon forces and all reserve platoons arrive at respective red table edge marking. Overhead the sky is overcast with low clouds so no airpower present during scenario. Americans have first movement in scenario.

Google satellite map of the area around singling France.

Google map terrain contour relief showing the ground elevations matched to satellite map above..

The After Action Report (AAR): Last weekend WR invited a group of Flames of War (FOW) gamers to his warren for pizza, snacks, drink and miniature gaming. Team U.S. formed up with Bruce, Andy, and Daniel. Team German had Gary, Lance, Paul, and WR pushing the miniatures. The scenario scene opens with low cloudy sky, the town of Singling centered on the table, just as the American arrive at the table edge. Ahead the entrenched Germans are ready for the approaching Americans who have twelve turns to capture / control all the Singling buildings (six in number) alongside the paved roadway.

Tabletop terrain layout from the east (German) view. The old church is the foremost building. Before scenario start WR noted a missing hedge and building, quickly emplaced.

Side or southern view of Singling town. Clearly the bunkers can be seen. The bunkers (r to l) matched to the attached photos are #1 (upper right), #2 (in town), #3 and #4 lower left. Number 5 bunker off photo to south near lower left road.

The American view approaching Singling from the west. Tabletop ground is muddy causing reduced vehicle movement except for proper tracked standard tanks. Bunker #3 and #4 seen.

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Battle of Troina – Sicily 1943

After General Patton’s “end run” across the Island of Sicily, taking the western half and the old city of Palermo on the run, his II Corps headed eastward entering the mountainous northern half of the island. Quickly the pace of advance was reduced to a slow ridge line, or river line, or old hilltop town clearing process. Skillful German rearguard actions, holding the key terrain features, maximized German-Italian efforts to delay both the American and British advancing armies as preparations continued for the cross strait Messina final evacuation to mainland Italy.

The Battle for Troina was a week-long bitter struggle to seize control of the old Sicilian hilltop town and nearby “mountain” terrain. Being somewhat central on the endgame Allied frontal map lines of Sicily, with the Americans battling along the northern coastal road at San Fratello, and the British around the flanks of volcanic Mt. Enta to the southeast, the town of Troina was seen by both sides as a linchpin or hinge to stall or finish the Sicilian island campaign.

Linchpin or hinge on the military maps, the American 1st “Big Red” Division wanted the town and access to the eastern narrow highway SS120 beyond towards Cesaro and eventually Messina itself. The German 15th Panzergrenadier Division, their hilltop town and nearby low mountains having a view of the American advance, planned the defense with deadly precision. The Americans didn’t disappoint them, their August 1st first probing frontal attack was quickly rebuffed when launched by the 39th Regiment (transferred in from US 9th Division to support the 1st Division).

II Corps advance prior to the Battle of Troina. Map from the US Army history WWII MTO.

Troina as viewed from the American general approach during WWII. Lots of open hilly ground overlooked by the German defenders. (US Army photo)

The American viewpoint towards Troina and the 39th Regiment (attached 1st Div.) tried a direct August 1st assault up that slope. Compare modern-day Troina view with previous historical photo.

Historical WWII picture of Troina looking westwards. Another axis of American attack (16th Regt.) approached from that direction with little success before German retreat.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Paestum Landing – Salerno 1943

Second in a multi-part series of Flames of War 20mm Salerno invasion scenarios, this scenario features the beach landing at Paestum Italy conducted by the trained but inexperienced 141st RCT, part of the Texan 36th Division. Landing ashore in the middle of the night, without any preliminary naval bombardment, unlike the later British invasion up north, the Texans quickly found themselves under the German loudspeakers, then bright flares overhead, followed by accurate German machine gun fire, while struggling to cross the beach dunes, shrubbery, minefields and barbwire defenses. Key German “strongpoints” like the old Torre di Paestum hampered the American beach expansion while well positioned German assault guns roamed the near beaches. At morning light, the German pressure intensified with addition German panzergrenadiers and their Panzer IV’s approaching the beach landings. Pushing inland, the American GI’s soon were “armed tourists” with hostile unfriendly German “tour guides” in the nearby old Greek-roman town of Paestum, with its ancient temples and ruins.

After securing the island of Sicily, the Allied commanders had a decision to make. Go directly onto the Italian mainland, invade another Mediterranean island like Sardinia or Corsica, invade the Greek islands region, or shift the entire war effort into an earlier Normandy invasion. With the pending negotiated Italian government surrender, the only option quickly became the invasion of mainland Italy and Operation Avalanche, the Allied invasion at Gulf of Salerno. The invasion at Gulf of Salerno was in two zones, the northern British sectors near Salerno proper, and the southern American sector on the southern end of the Gulf of Salerno, near Paestum. Full details of the invasion plans in both Allied sectors can be read online or in one of the noted books below.

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Overall Salerno invasion map with both the northern British landing beaches and the southern American landing beaches along with the slow beachhead dated expansion.

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Current day view of the same beaches at Paestum. Viewed from the south with Blue then Yellow beaches northward. The beach dunes have since become overgrown with small trees and heavy bush.

Closer view of the American landing zone and the four-color coded beaches diagram below. The outlined scaled down Flames of War (FOW) 20mm scenario below covers the southern two American beach zones… Yellow and Blue, where the 141st RCT (36th Infantry Division) landed. The two other beaches zones, Red and Green, had the 142nd RCT (36th ID) landing there, while the 143rd RCT (36th ID) provided reinforcement landing after the first two RCT’s landing later that September 9th morning. Alongside the three RCT’s of 36th Division were the typical support companies and units for a typical US infantry division. Off-shore the Allied fleet was to provide naval gunnery support during the daylight hours while dodging and defending against the German aerial onslaught and long-range German artillery. Allied airpower for the carriers nearby and the island of Sicily provide air cover from the German Luftwaffe, breaking up German waves of bombers and fighter bombers, Still several warships were hit, while the smaller landing craft and ships nearer the beach suffered from direct observed artillery shelling. Burning ships and craft dotted the coastal seas.

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Ordeal of 179th RCT

Days after the initial American landings along the Salerno coast, the American have finished consolidating their beachhead position and have started to expand with regimental (RCT) sized maneuvers to seize key high ground surrounding the American beach landing. The third in a series of linked scenarios based upon events around Salerno, “Ordeal of 179th RCT” deals with the American northeastern advance led by the 179th RCT between the Sele and Calore Rivers…. known as the “Sele-Calore corridor”, across the open farmland, to reach their September 11th evening objective, the German controlled Highway 19 at Ponte Sele and the village of Serre.

During the evening of September 10th and the early morning hours of September 11th, 179th RCT is tasked with seizing control of Highway 19 at two points on the map, Ponte Sele and the village of Serre astride Highway 19. German presence and opposition has been light in the American beachhead sector to date, compared to the battles faced by the British up north around Salerno. Advancing from the American beaches where they landed the day before, the 179th RCT (45th Division), joined that morning by the 157th RCT and, to the south by 142nd RCT near Altavilla (Hill 424), all hoped to secure the high ground surrounding the beachhead, thus reducing the accurate German artillery observation.

Left Flank Sept 11 179th & 157 RCT

September 11th. The 179th RCT advances along two axis, Across the Sele River then along the Tenuta Persano road eastwards and the failed flanking march to cross the Calore north of Altavilla on Highway 88. Map also shows the engagements by 157th RCT at the tobacco factory fought on September 11-12th. Map from “Salerno” CMH US Army.

Fifth Army Landing Beaches Salerno 9-13 Sept

General map of Salerno landings including the British northern sector. Like the Americans, September 11th has British battalions grimly holding positions, especially near Battipaglia.

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FOW Valmontone 1944 revisit

A first for WR’s son Daniel. Daniel ran his first convention scenario at Strategicon-GAMEX over the Memorial Day weekend (sunday). Basic and proven Flames of War 20mm action, the Valmontone Italy 1944 scenario has been played several times between WR and Daniel. Set during the Anzio breakout battles before the entrance of the Allies into Rome, the scenario has the US. 3rd Infantry Division against the tough opponents of the Herman Goring Division.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6'x4' tabletop.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6’x4′ tabletop.

Scenario notes and Allied or German forces has been covered in a previous WR post Valmontone 1944.  A previous Valmontone 1944 after action report can be read for a comparison of the basic scenario action. Valmontone 1944 AAR

For the convention scenario game. Daniel made two changes to the tabletop terrain and forces involved. He added one additional M4 Sherman platoon (5xM4) to the American roster and expanded the table width to 8 feet from the basic 6 foot set up. The expanded table width is common for WR’s FOW 20mm scenarios due to the increase 20mm base footprint on the tabletop (+25% adjustment for scenario width). The German entrance points along the Highway 6 were adjusted for the increased table width.

Before the narrative, a quick review of the American and German force deployment. For the Americans, the weight of the assault was placed on the right half of the table. Both M4 Sherman platoons, the M3 Stuart platoon (or M5), the armored rifle platoon in their M3 halftracks and the assault reinforced rifle platoon (in the vineyard). An observer from the M7 Priest battery (center table near back edge) joined the American Company HQ command group in the vineyard building. The remaining reinforced rifle platoon entered the central woods to hold the flank and threaten the German controlled center road junction objective.

The German deployment, completed before any American forces were placed, forced them to cover Highway 6 with interlocking fire zones. With both American objectives placed on Highway 6, one panzer grenadier platoon directly defended their placement, supported by the Pak40 75mm platoon with their anti-tank cannon and the German company HQ. On the German right the other HG panzer pioneer platoon, the NW41 Nebelwerfer rocket battery (6) and the heavy AA 88mm battery (2 cannon). Lastly, on their left, sort of by themselves, the Wespe artillery battery behind the tall hedge. Off table and placed in reserves, the StuG III assault platoon (3) and the mixed Panzer III / IV platoon (4), rolled to arrive each turn at either Highway entrance point 12″ from table edge. Unlike most American or German match-ups, both sides for this scenario are rated confident veteran.

With only six scenario turns, the American platoons must advance quickly across the Italian countryside. No time to sit back and shell the German positions to soften them up. Turn one has the American armor platoons race ahead across the tabletop followed by their armored infantry rifle platoon. The M7 Priest battery ranges in and shells the objective position on Highway 6, covering the German panzer grenadiers and their Pak40 A/T platoon under bombardment. The two American infantry platoons advance forward into the vineyard and central woods respectfully. In the shooting phase, the American tanks opened fire on the concealed Wespe platoon behind the hedge. Three of the Wespe armored 105mm vehicles quickly become burning torches but passed their morale test. Germans mostly stayed low in their prepared foxhole positions during their turn. The Pak40 75mm platoon drew quick blood, brewing up one M4 Sherman. Another Sherman quickly brewed up alongside from the distant 88mm battery zeroing in. No German reserves arrive.

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Turn one completed. American opening flank movement with massed tanks, M3 halftrack rifle platoon, and two rifle platoons enter the central woods or vineyard. M7 Priests shell the objective road junction as the American tanks brew up the German Wespe platoon..

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