Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Operation Newmarket – turns 4-5

At the start of turn 4 the British airborne assault finally arrived. Dave chose the area east of the River Orbec for the parachute drop whilst landing his two gliders (containing anti-tank guns and 2 sections of commandos) on the open heath on the western side of the river.

The parachute drop - figures that landed in the river or off table were given a fifty percent chance of surviving.

Our method for making the parachute drop was for Dave to release 2cm square pieces of tissue paper from a box held 5 foot above the table – one for each figure – we then placed the figures wherever the pieces of paper landed. Considering the restricted area that was chosen for the LZ surprisingly few paratroopers were lost in the river or off-table, a total of seven casualties resulted from a force of just over fifty.

The paratrooper officers and NCO's hurriedly assemble their men following the drop.

Meanwhile the British infantry and supporting armour were putting pressure on the German defenders of Ferme de la Blanc as Dave realised he would have to keep moving if he was to achieve his objective. Mortars set the barn on fire forcing the surviving German infantry to withdraw while 3 Sherman tanks, under cover of a smoke screen, rushed the Panther tank that was lurking in the field behind Hill 112. The Panther was forced to pull back rather than risk the Shermans emerging from the smoke to take a shot at its vulnerable flank.

 The British mortars are now in action whilst the infantry and tanks continue to advance.

 A direct hit on the barn by a mortar causes several German casualties.

The surviving Germans beat a hasty retreat from the farm.

As one Sherman lays down a smoke screen three others take advantage of the cover and close in on the Panther.

At the same time another column of British tanks was making its way along rue Choisy towards Hameau Choisy. This column was led by two Sherman Fireflies and as the lead tank rounded a bend in the road the radio crackled with a report (from a scouting Stuart light tank) that another Panther had been spotted at the cross roads in the middle of the hamlet. The Firefly took a quick shot on the move straight along the road and with a couple of lucky die rolls reduced the Panther to a heap of burning metal. The luck of the Brits was holding.

 The second British armour column approaches Hameau Choisy.

 The leading Firefly takes a nifty shot on the move and...

...knocks out the Panther before it can return fire.

Back at the LZ almost as soon as the paratroopers had landed a group of 3 German Tiger tanks arrived in front of Hill 167 and began engaging the paratroopers and gliders with HE and machine gun fire. Dave optimistically chose to drive his jeeps towing the anti-tank guns directly towards this threat having been told by me that he would have to “get in close” to stand a chance of taking the Tigers out. It remains to be seen whether this unorthodox tactic will work!

Tiger tanks supported by panzer grenadiers in half-tracks arrive just in time to engage the airborne troops on their landing ground.

 The only thing better than a Tiger tank (for the German player) is two Tiger tanks!

The situation at the end of turn 5 (click on the image to zoom in).

Friday, 6 December 2013

Operation Newmarket – turns 1-3

The British player’s objective in this game is to gain control of both the town of St Arnault and the bridge over the river Orbec by the end of turn 16. On the face of it this seems like quite a tall order especially as Dave isn’t familiar with either the period or the rules and all the German troops start the game concealed (no prizes for guessing who came up with the scenario!).

A Typhoon flies low over St Arnault on a reconnaissance mission but spots nothing - the Jerries must be hiding!

Despite his lack of detailed WWII knowledge Dave began the game by craftily holding back his airborne elements and keeping me guessing about where and when they would arrive. At the same time he pushed his reconnaissance group tentatively along the rue St Arnault towards the Ferme de la Blanc.

The recon section supported by three Stuart tanks move up towards the Ferme de la Blanc. 1st platoon are advancing on foot behind them.

The company heavy weapons sections are travelling in half-tracks on the road whilst the PBI move across the fields.

The recon group soon spotted the presence of a Stug III assault gun and a squad of German infantry in a field to the right of the farm. A call over the radio for artillery support was promptly answered (due to a lucky die roll) with a barrage that neutralised both threats. First blood to the Brits!

 A British artillery barrage takes out the German assault gun and half a section of infantry - good shooting!

This prompted the Germans to retaliate with everything they had which included an anti-tank gun and a Panther tank. The lead Stuart tank was quickly brewed up and a second one had a lucky escape when an AP round from the Panther bounced off it. Dave sensibly took his lightly armoured Stuarts off the road and into the safety of the dead ground behind Hill 112 while moving a group of four Shermans up to deal with the threat.

A concealed German anti-tank gun opens up on the British tanks.
The view from behind the German lines showing the 'brewed up' Stuart on the road.

 Here come the Shermans! The bridge looks a long way off - perhaps too far?

Meanwhile a British infantry company had been slowly moving up behind the advancing tanks on foot with their heavy weapons riding in half-tracks. The reconnaissance section and the mortars now de-bussed from their vehicles and an exchange of small arms began with some German infantry that had been spotted in the farm. Dave’s first platoon continued to move forward in support whilst his second platoon headed for Hill 112.

1st platoon head on up towards the farm whilst the Shermans go off road to avoid the enemy anti-tank gun.

 2nd platoon are nearing Hill 112 - the Stuart tanks are already there sensibly evading a Panther tank lurking in the fields beyond.

So our first session of the game ended with the completion of turn three, not bad going as we both had to get to grips with the rules. The map below shows the area of the action so far (for the full table map click here).

 Click on the image to zoom in.

All the troops, tanks and vehicles used in this game are from the superb Wargames South range of 1/200 figures (the aircraft are by Skytrex).