BA in Normandy 1944

Been a busy gaming rabbit for the first month of 2017. Apart from two napoleonic training games in the warren and Bob’s napoleonic game in Redondo Beach, WR had the opportunity, with his son Daniel, to join fellow gamers at MunsonCon II. The featured game was Dan’s 28mm Bolt Action modified (BAm) game on the soil of Normandy 1944. Scenario background had the Americans advancing then encountering a local German counterattack near St. Lo (Normandy). Since the 25/28mm napoleonic training games kept WR busy from photographic opportunities for those scenarios, this report of the BAm scenario shall cover WR January effort to document different gaming locations in the Southern California (Los Angeles) region, i.e. the local events outside the warren.

The St. Lo (Normandy 1944) BAm scenario has Americans vs. Germans walking the tabletop down the central country lane. American regular force consists of the following OOB (Andy and Daniel):  Company HQ leadership with sniper, bazooka team, medic, and radio net and two rifle platoons (PL, SSgt, runner) of three squads each (SL, Cpl, six riflemen). A small detachment of combat engineers ( SL and three engineers) lugging their trade goods with the American advance. Providing close tank support for the infantry are a Sherman M4a3 and Stuart M3a1 while off table, back in the rear lines, two medium M1a2 105mm howitzers stood by on call while during their laundry.

German regular counterattack force OOB (Paul and WR): Company HQ leadership with PzFaust and Panzerschreck teams, SSgt, message runner, and medic. Two rifle Zug (platoon) having Lt, Sgt, runner, and sniper) with three squads consisted of SL, Cpl, Mg42 team and four riflemen each. A small pioneer team rounded out the German infantry component (SL, Cpl, 4 engineers with demo charges and Flammenwerfer). On board mortar support provided by a GrW 36 section (two 81mm mortars and FO). Backup armor support includes a Panther Ausf A and PzJgr Marder I to terrorize the Americans with rumors of “Tigers”.

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The general scenario terrain from the American side. Hedgerow bocage, woods at right, low stone walls and hedges and scattered buildings. Hard to see are the open field “low hill rises” which blocked direct line of sight across the open pastures. Center house at upper right of photo.

Basic deployment notes: American deployed their Company HQ along the road edge, one platoon on each side of the road (in the fields), and had their Stuart advance down the roadway. The M4a1 Sherman deployed with the left platoon, planning to crush the bocage and making gaps for the infantry to advance though. Off table 105mm howitzer crews awaited the first radio call to sight their cannon. The Germans likewise deployed one Zug (platoon) on each side of the road, kept the armor off table for later arrival on the road, and prepared the hedgerow corner with demo charges, to blast a gap, for possible later armor movement into the large open field. Lastly, their 81mm mortar detachment set up on the low-rise behind Paul’s Zug lining the forward hedgerow to the right of the road. Table size is 6′ x 4′ for the scenario.

The day’s photographic effort tells the 28mm Normandy BAm scenario story. Remember that all WR blog photos are 2MB in size, and by clicking on the actual photo, you can expand and enlarge the picture. So… to the report filed by the attached war correspondent photographic teams.

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First movements had the M3a1 Stuart driving down the “wide” roadway… wider than most roads in the Normandy regions it seems. Coming to a bend in the road…. what is ahead?

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WWI Action in France

Recently WR was sent some photos of a WWI scenario by WR’s good friends David and Matthew, based out of Long Beach CA. WR has always enjoyed the 28mm WWI action on David’s tabletop so when David and Matthew set up another scenario this past weekend, WR was bummed he couldn’t drive south and toss dice. Superb tabletop scene with their 28mm WWI terrain, American and German miniature collections are having at it. Hopefully David will provide some colorful written commentary about the scenario and forces involved. Till then, the photos themselves speak of the tabletop action. Photos by David.

Update 01/07/17: Additional photos received from David and posted below. Look for the update photo break for the additional photo files. David’s email comment attached to photos copied below…

…. I should make Mathew’s BC write the after action report… the problem is his colonel is still holed up in the church and coordinating the efforts to take the town. Matthew just cleared the German HMG covering the crossroads. It’s the building with the smoking livery doors. The German crew took a point-blank shot from the French 75 mounted on the Schneider. But being good Germans, one young Soldat crawled back to his post, crewed the weapon and continued to keep the MG08 firing before selling his life dearly for the Fatherland. He continued fighting despite taking fragment wounds from American rifle grenades attacks and multiple .308 rounds before eventually bleeding out. The Kaiser, however, will be awarding him the Iron Cross for pinning down two American platoons for his gallantry displayed. A credit to the fighting spirit of the Imperial Army.

Miniatures: Germans are Renegade and Great War figures. Americans are a mix of Brigade and Great War.

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BA – Canaryville in Normandy

Canaryville, France (Bolt Action – modified) AAR                      by Korrespondent Dan

On Sunday, December 4, the players (Andy Mouradian, Dave Beymer, Paul Szymborski, Dan Munson) met at Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica to stage a “Normandy 1944” scenario crafted by Dan, entitled “Canaryville, June 1944 (a.k.a La (Bo)Cage aux Folles). Andy and Dave played the U.S. side, while Paul and Dan pushed the Germans. Rules in use were Bolt Action, as modified by the San Fernando Valley Wargamers.

Basic scenario: The Allied forces have managed to push inland some ways since D-Day, but are not yet clear of the bocage country. The previous day and night, U.S. troops drove defending Germans back to the outskirts of the crossroads village of Canaryville. (picture 1 below).

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Canaryville #1

The GIs overnighted in the bocaged field on the right in picture 3 below.

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Cararyville #3

During the night, U.S. engineer teams dynamited exit gaps in the bocage on their side of the road. During most of the night, Germans were manning firing positions dug into the bocage across the road, so the U.S. rested up and got ready for its next big push at daybreak. As the GIs kick off their push at daybreak, the rear area behind the German defenders is being heavily attacked by massed field artillery and Allied “Jabos.” Whatever artillery support the Germans might have hoped for is either being blown up or shot up or is hiding itself deep in the nearest woods it can find. Roads are heavily interdicted, so the Germans fighting at Canaryville are, in essence, on an island all by themselves, with little or no hope of outside assistance. They are, however, “hidden” at the start and in many places are “dug in.” Also, during the night, German pioneers, assisted by infantrymen, managed to sow hasty minefields across much of the front. The 3” x 3” cloth patches seen in the pictures represent either live or dummy “hasty” mine fields. Continue reading

Bolt Action Italy in warren

Back on July 2nd WR opened his warren for two concurrent tabletop scenario games, a 28mm Bolt Action Italian scenario and WR’s 28mm Battle of Voltri 1796 game. On the covered patio, two different concurrent games were run during the warm California day, along with a complete Italian themed meal served, including Chianti, cool lemonade, and the normal side munchies. Total of eight gamers RSVP’d from the invitations for the event and all had a blast gaming on the Italian countryside tables.

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One of the tabletop scenarios was a 28mm Bolt Action (BA) scenario developed and GM’d by WR’s local San Fernando Valley (northern Los Angeles) friend Dan with assistant from southern Andy. Dan, Andy, and Paul brought their excellent 28mm BA WWII miniature collections to field the American, German and Polish forces. WR pulled out his 25mm Italeri Italian village buildings, and other terrain from his collection, for the arriving gamers. Should note we could have three “Pauls” at the tables that day, with the confusion of “that Paul, you Paul, me Paul?” etc…but only two RSVP’d and they played in different scenarios that day. We didn’t have to resort to the Welsh method of Paul identification. The other concurrent scenario was WR’s Battle of Voltri 1796, which details and AAR will be covered in a separate blog post. Since WR’s game was back in 1796 nearby, his viewpoint and comments about the Bolt Action scenario can only be gleamed from the war correspondents taking their photos of the scenario in progress. Late in the scenario play…. about turn six, WR joined as a draftee German to push the lead, after the conclusion of the Voltri 1796 scenario..

The tabletop scene has the early morning Italian sunlight revealing a “peaceful” Italian village, their mayoral building sporting a recent large hole in its roof. The old medieval church dominated the surrounding terrain and would be a target for both sides. Sensing trouble…. the rumble of tracks maybe, the village inhabitants, with their farm animals and Chianti carts, scattered into the fields around the village.

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The Italian village, with church and shelled mayoral building, the shallow stream, with rock scrubby ground alongside the stream bank , low wooded hills, a vineyard, and harvested haystack fields complete the tabletop.

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The other side of the village showing the stream bank overgrown with scrubby. Tabletop was 8′ x 6′ in size for the BA scenario..

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The road which the Polish infantry would advance into the village. Church on the left with mayoral building center at end of the road.

With players arriving between 9am and 10am, the BA Italian scenario successfully was underway by 10:30am, a tradition with WR to have the gaming start on time. Dan is the local expert on the modified BA rules used by Dan, Andy , and Steve P (missing for the day) which feature a modified range and weapon charts from the basic BA game. Both sides were advancing to control a key small bridge crossing nestled in a small Italian village. A review of the Bolt Action contestant platoons involved (copy and paste work):

The GI’s, played by Andy and Daniel:
Small Company with 2 platoons. Each platoon had three squads. Each squad had 8 men including a Sgt. and Cpl. Each platoon had a HQ of 1x Lt., 1x SSgt., 1x Runner.
CO HQ had 1x Cpt., 1x SSgt., 2x Runners, 1x Medic

Also with the U.S. company:
1x FO team (2 guys), 1x Bazooka team (2 guys), 1x MMG team (3 guys), 2x 60mm mortar teams (3 guys each) “The Smoking Joes” crew. Supporting the company was an armored recon team of 1x Stuart, 1x Sherman and 1x Jeep.

Polish forces played by Paul S: The Poles had a short-handed rifle company on the table: a company HQ and two platoons (each with 3 squads of 7 men), backed up by a Vickers MMG team and a lonely, peregrinating Cromwell. WR remembers a mortar team dropping shells too.

The Germans used a 1944 TO&E as a basis, played by Dan M. and Luis, later joined by WR after the Voltri 1796 scenario completion:

1) Panzer grenadier company, consisting of a headquarters, 3x
rifle platoons (3 squads each) and one weapons platoon (2x
MG-42 MMG teams, 2x teams with GrW 38 80mm mortars). Only 3rd
Platoon had SdKfz 251 halftracks, the two other platoons, plus a SS platoon, arrived via (off-board) truck transport then walked on.

2) Armor support in the form of the remnant of a mixed medium tank platoon ( 1x Pz III-J, 1x Pz IV-H).

3) From battalion HQ, 1x Panzerschreck team and 1x sniper team joined the Axis advance.

Scenario starts with both sides advancing towards the central village and bridge from three different entrance points. Objective for both sides: 1) seize control of village and bridge, 2) defeat the opponents encountered, and 3) advance over the shallow waterway showing ability to continue the sustained advance tomorrow.

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The German panzer grenadier vehicles rumble towards the village. The Panzer III and IV tanks scan the village for enemy combatants. Dan… your dirt roads need more “dirt” on them.

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The Polish infantry platoons with their support, a Cromwell tank, walk towards the Italian village on the side road.

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The GI’s arrive and walk down the main road (a dirt roadway till the cobbled road in town). Their Sherman and Stuart led the advance while the jeep team parks behind the first building.

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First turn is complete. All three sides have their initial platoons marching towards the village. Disembarking from their truck off-board, the German reinforcement platoons off table at right.

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Bolt Action in San Pietro 1944

At the monthly St. Crispin game day (2nd saturday every month), WR joined Dan and Andy at their invitation to play in a 28mm Bolt Action Italian scenario. WR has seen this popular game played in recent years at HMGS-PSW conventions and Aero Hobbies on their 1st sunday meeting date. But, to date, never has pushed the lead… really plastic miniatures, tossed dice and discussed LOS issues in this fun WWII game. As a side benefit, WR would be able to use some of his Italian town buildings completed last year on the tabletop. So… to the action viewed by Sgt. PinPoint but first the scenario background from the St. Crispin Meetup blog:

Event Name: Skirmish at San Pietro – Italy 1944
Your Name: Dan Munson aka the GM
Event Start Time and Date: Sat., April 9, 10:00 am.
Number of Players: 4 – 6
Table Size: 6′ x 8′ (approx.)
A short 2-3 sentence description of the event: Tactical scenario set in Italy, 1944 (post fall of Rome). Allies (US and British) seek to drive German defenders from little village of San Pietro. Bolt Action rules system, with San Fernando Valley Wargamers modifications.

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A small Italian village called San Pietro, otherwise unknown to history. Terrain from Dan’s footlocker except for the four Italian buildings beyond the foreground white plaster building, the tall church, and stone walls are from WR’s collection.

In the front lines with Sgt. PinPoint, who will represent his view of the upcoming battle as “frontline” reporting. Sgt. PinPoint is part of the 46th Infantry Division, battling up the eastern side of the Italian peninsula late in 1944. He is the forward observer for his mortar team lugging about their 3″ mortar tube and extra mortar shells. He is, per his paybook, attached to the Mortar platoon, in the Support Company of 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) regiment, in the 139th Infantry Brigade, and part of 46th Division. His army career has been short, placed into the ranks mid 1942, and shipped out to the closing months of the North African campaign. There he was quickly promoted to sergeant after saving his lieutenants’ life during a german artillery barrage and assigned to the 3″ mortar company. Seems he had the knack for judging distance and angles…. to the detriment of the receiving Germans.

Turn One: Orders came down to clear the Italian village ahead alongside the A Company “Andy’s” Americans (his miniatures) to their right. Sgt. Pinpoint saw his infantry of 2nd company march in their loose squad columns abreast as they entered the open fields outside of the village, with armor support (Cromwell tank named “Alexandria”), a late arrival and without any briefing to the mission. So Lt. Youngstein ordered Sgt. PinPoint to brief the tank commander while riding towards the village, at the same time observing for his mortar team. Light clouds overhead, the morning action is pending the German response.

Note: British infantry company of two platoons played by WR: Platoon HQ has Lt, Piat, 2″ mortar team, and runner. Each platoon had three reduced squads of seven miniature each (Squad Ldr, Assistant Squad Ldr, 4x riflemen, Bren gunner). Attached was Vickers MMG team, the 3″ mortar team with FO (Sgt. PinPoint) and “Alexandria” starring as a Cromwell. 

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WR’s controlled British infantry company enters the tabletop. Loose line ahead formations with “Alexandria” named Cromwell tank in support.

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Belleau Woods 1918 – Hill 142

Time for something a bit different from the normal rabbit horse and musket era gaming habits. Last weekend David K. invited several gamers to his Long Beach residence for a little “over the top and through wheat fields to the Hun’s woody hill we go” scenario gaming. David arranged a scenario called the Franco-American assault on Hill 142, near the famous U.S. Marines Belleau Woods battle several days later. The rules of play were the OOP Warhammer “The Great War” and “Over the Top” supplement plus David’s painted 28mm WWI miniature collection.

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A brief overview of the historical action from quick source Wikipedia… and YouTube link LionHeart FilmWorks production:  Belleau Woods 1918 LionHeart FilmWorks.

Attack on Hill 142
At 03:45 on 6 June, the Allies launched an attack on the German forces, who were preparing their own advance. The French 167th Division attacked to the left of the American Marine line, while the Marines attacked Hill 142 directly to prevent flanking fire against the French. As part of the second phase, the U.S. 2nd Division were to capture the ridge overlooking Torcy and Belleau Wood, as well as occupying Belleau Wood. However, the Marines failed to scout the woods and, as a consequence, they missed a regiment of German infantry dug in, with a network of machine gun nests and artillery.

At dawn, the Marine 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, commanded by Major Julius Turrill, was to attack Hill 142, but only two companies were in position. The Marines advanced in waves with bayonets fixed across an open wheat field that was swept with German machine gun and light artillery (mortar) fire, and many Marines were cut down. Captain Crowther commanding the 67th Company was killed almost immediately. Captain Hamilton and the 49th Company fought from tree to tree, fighting the entrenched Germans and overrunning their primary hill objective. At this point, Hamilton had lost all five junior officers, while the 67th had only one commissioned officer alive. Hamilton reorganized the two companies, establishing strong points and a defensive line against the German counter-attack.

In the German counter-attack, then-Gunnery Sergeant Ernest A. Janson, who was serving under the name Charles Hoffman, repelled an advance of 12 German soldiers, killing two with his bayonet before the others fled; for this action he became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in World War I. Also cited for advancing through enemy fire during the counter-attack was then-Marine Gunner Henry Hulbert.

The rest of the battalion now arrived and went into action. Turrill’s flanks lay unprotected and the Marines were rapidly exhausting their ammunition. By the afternoon, however, the Marines had captured Hill 142, at a cost of nine officers and most of the 325 men of the 1st/5th Marine battalion.

Hill 142 upper left marked and Belleau Woods June 1918.

Hill 142 upper left marked and Belleau Woods June 1918.

So, how does David’s Hill 142 scenario play out? Well, bloody in the short eleven turns of play but followed the historical action. The U.S. Marine correspondent, W. R., crawling back from the new front lines, filed his photographic report below.

The warm morning of June 6th, a date known for another famous U.S. & Allies beach landing, saw the lines of U.S. Marines and French poilus advancing from their dirt road start line. Their plan was to mass on the left side of the scenario table and rush the wooded hill. Simple WWI tactical planning it seemed. but did place two German platoons, and their HMG team, out of position till they marched over from the German left flank later in the scenario. Germans pre-deployed their forces using a map drawn hidden placement system. WR also elected to have two platoons and their Company command group held in reserve. Several improvised positions were available for WR to place anywhere within the German lines. These positions gave +1 saving roll for defenders behind the protective cover.

The German player can decide if the platoon starts on the tabletop (hidden) or roll for arrival. Each turn, starting with turn two, roll d6. If a six rolled the entire reserve has arrived and can march in from tabletop edge anywhere along the German rear zone. If roll failed, next turn a 5 or 6 for arrival…. then 4, 5, or 6 progressive steps till roll made.

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Opening scenario with the French in foreground, then the Marines along the dirt road start line. The hidden Huns lurk in the tall hill beyond.

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Well hidden Huns… look for the improved linear position lengths on the hill. The Hun deployment was done from a drawn map till they opened fire or moved.

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1914 WH Marne scenario

Several weekends ago WR and Daniel had an invited opportunity to play a Warhammer “The Great War” 1914 Marne scenario from David. Sort of fitting since the actual WWI started in earnest that same month 100 years ago. WR has never played WH “The Great War” (TGW) before but is experienced with the Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Clash of Empires (COE) game systems. So playing like an “ancients” player, the WWI German army I figured was in for a big shock but somehow seemed to work for the situation.

David and his son Sam have been collecting a small collection of 1914 era 28mm miniatures and been looking forward to a collection sized scenario game. David devised a meeting engagement action over some French ruined farms, a shallow river bridge and the BEF arriving to save the situation of the “plucky” French. WR cannot really go into or write about the TGW game rules or scenario as his inexperience with the game rules clearly showed during our scenario play. Overall the game was very interesting, close running and a true WWI bloodbath at conclusion.

German deployment and advance towards the French river outpost

German deployment and advance towards the French river outpost. Looks ancients like by WR’s starting setup.

German forces involved (WR and Sam as dice roller): The German roster basically was a weak battalion representation with attached Jaeger platoon and some support mortar and MG sections.

Battalion Commander Colonel with two soldiers and Battalion Major as his staff officer.

“A” and “B” Companies: Each company had one Captain with two soldier aides (flunkies) and three large full strength platoons. Each fielded platoon had 18 soldiers. Total of 57 soldiers per company.

Jaeger platoon Captain with four soldiers and one platoon of 18 jaegers.

Support sections had two MG sections (four crew each) and two light mortar sections (four crew each also). All told the Germans numbered 156 soldiers.

French forces involved (Daniel and David): A rostered detached Company with battalion staff encouraging the rear guard.

Battalion Commander Colonel with three soldiers.

“A” Company with Captain and three soldiers and three platoons. Each platoon had 11 soldiers. A MG section was attached. Total of 40 soldiers in the French company.

Arriving BEF forces (Daniel): Rostered weak English battalion with veteran Highlander platoon attached.

Battalion Commander Colonel with two soldiers.

“A” and “B” Companies: Each company had captain with two soldiers and three weak platoons. Each platoon had 9 soldiers. Total of 30 soldiers per company.

Highlander platoon of 9 soldiers. No support weapons. All told the Allies had 116 soldiers.

The soldier stats and equipment rating looked surprising like the Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) game. WR scanned the roster sheets and included them for viewing at summary below.

The French rearguard defending the river bridge.

Starting positions of the French rearguard defending river bridge. Another French platoon in farmhouse off picture. WR must neutralize that MG post early on. Red trousers alert!

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