Wednesday, 23 May 2012

FoW: Operation Sea Lion - Fighting Withdrawal

Monday saw another battle for our part in WWPD's Operation Sea Lion campaign. This time my Panzerkampfgruppe Group was taking on Adam's Canadian Recon force. We decided the battle was taking place in Wiltshire, south of Swindon. The forces were as follows:

HQ - 2 Panther D's
Panther Platoon - 3 Panther D's
Panther Platoon - 3 Panther D's
Anti-tank Gun Platoon - 2 PaK 40s
Rocket Launcher Battery - 3 Nebelwerfers

Not certain of the make up of Adam's force but it was something like this:

HQ - CiC, 2iC & 2 Staghounds
Armoured Car Plt - 3 Staghounds
Armoured Car Plt - 3 Staghounds
Armoured Car Plt - 2 Staghounds & 1 Scout Car
Armoured Plt - 3 Shermans & 1 Firefly
Tank Destroyer Plt - 4 M10's
Infantry Plt
Field Bat (SP) - 4 Sextons
Light AAA (SP) - 3 Bofors 40mm
Limited Air Support - Typhoons

We rolled for the mission and got Fighting Withdrawal. Neither of us had played this one before and that was to have a big effect on the outcome of the game. I started out pretty confident in the staying power of the Panthers and Adam said he had no idea how he was going to win. Only his second run out with this force meant he hadn't learnt how to best utilise it yet.  The only thing I was worried about was the Typhoons. Last time I'd faced them they'd turned the tide against me knocking out four of my eight Panthers. Luckily there were lots of woods that would give me some cover. The terrain layout can be seen in the photo below Adam was defending the right hand side of the table.

The calm before the storm

Wiltshire is famous for it's vineyards ;-)

The mission calls for three objectives to be placed on the table, one by the defender and two by the attacker. I placed one of mine in the centre of the table between the village and the field. The second was placed by the ford on my side of the river on the right of the table. Adam placed his on the hill on the left of the table. As he was the defender Adam then deployed all his troops then I deployed mine. The initial deployments can be seen below.

The right flank after deployment

The left & centre after deployment

I'd had little experience fighting recon troops so I was surprised when Adam did all his recon moves after deployment. I was hoping for some easy kills but that was not to be.

The Staghounds move into the woods on my left but one bogs

The Staghounds move into the woods on my right

Being the attacker I went first. I moved my Panthers up on the left but their fire and that of the PaK 40's did nothing. However on my right the 2iC knocked out two of the AAA trucks and the Panthers and CiC knocked out two of the three Staghounds in the woods. My nebelwerfers smoked the Sextons observer Sherman in the field. Things already looking good, but Adam made the two morale rolls. On the left Adam then manoeuvred his Staghounds looking for side armour shots. In the centre he moved up to threaten the rear of the Panthers on my right as well as the 'werfers. His fire was largely ineffective. He did bail one of the Panthers on my left but the dreaded Typhoons swooped in and destroyed the 2iC's Panther.

The left at the end of turn one.

Close up of the centre at the end of turn one.

The right at the end of turn one.

Close up of the carnage inflicted by the Panthers

Turn two saw me move my Panthers to the objective near the ford on my right while the CiC moved up to finish off the AA trucks. On the left two of my Panthers swept round the left flank of the village to engage the Shermans the other Panther moved into the south of the village. In the shooting phase on the right flank the CiC destroyed the last AA truck and the other Panthers finished off the last Staghound in the woods. On the left the Panthers knocked out one of the Shermans in the village and the PaK 40's bailed a Staghound near the bridge.

Adam now had to contest the objective near the ford or I would win at the start of the next turn. So he moved forward one of the Staghounds he had held back near the baseline. He also decided it was time to pop the ambush with his four TD's, which he placed at the edge of the field near the village. On the left he manoeuvred his Staghounds, Sextons and Shermans to threaten the flanks and rear of my Panthers. In the centre his Staghounds moved up the road to threaten the 'werfers. His Typhoons then swept in and pinned the 'werfers, the TD's opened up destroying one of the Panthers on the right. and his Sextons ranged in on the Panthers near the objective but did no damage. So one of his Staghounds hit it with smoke. On the left the fire from all the Shermans and Staghounds either bounced off or failed firepower tests, a theme which was to haunt Adam throughout the game.

The right at the end of the turn

The centre at the end of the turn

The left at the end of the turn

A close up of the action at the ford, near the objective

Turn three saw me move to counter the direct fire threat from the Sextons on my left. On my right the panther moved out of the smoke into the small copse of trees. The CiC moved up and joined the platoon while the last Panther moved to get into position to attack the Staghound on the central road. Fire from the Panthers on the left was devastating, destroying one Sherman and two Sextons. The Pak 40's opened up destroying one of the Staghounds near the river. On my right the Panthers destroyed the Staghound contesting the objective and the Staghound on the central road.

As it was turn three Adam had to withdraw a unit. So he decided to remove the central Staghound company. On the left he move the Sextons back into cover behind the hill while the remaining Shermans and Staghounds manoeuvred for side armour shots. On the right he moved up another Staghound to contest the objective. In his shooting phase the superior armour of the Panthers resisted all his attacks.

The position on the left at the end of the turn

The position on the right at the end of the turn

Turn four just saw my Panther on the right move up to join the others near the ford. The rest stayed put to maximise the number of shots. On the left the Pak 40's knocked out two Staghounds while the Panthers knocked out another Sherman, Adam made his morale rolls though. On the right I managed to knock out one of the TD's in the field.

His left flank in tatters Adam decided to move the last Staghound, his CiC, into the cover of the wood. The last Sherman, the Firefly maintained it's position in the village. On the right nothing moved. All his fire manged to do was to bail one of the Panthers near the ford.

The position on the left at the end of the turn

The position on the right at the end of the turn

Turn five saw me move two of the Panthers on the left forward to claim the objective on the hill. This would force Adam to move something from his Sextons to contest it. The right was sit and shoot again. The Panther which hadn't moved on the left flank opened up on the last Sherman and destroyed it. Adam had now lost four platoons with only seven left on the table he had to make a company morale check which he passed. On the right my 'werfers knocked out another of the TD's and the Panthers knocked out the Staghound near the ford.

On the left Adam moved up a command team from the Sextons to contest the objective. On the right he moved up his 2iC in the last Staghound to contest the objective again. In the shooting phase he at last managed to kill one of my Panthers on the right and it was the CiC so both my command elements were gone.

Turn six had a nasty surprise for me. I'd read my victory conditions but I hadn't read Adam's. There was an event table which showed that in turns six and seven Adam could remove an objective! Even though it wouldn't give me the objective for sure I killed Adam's contesting team on the hill. On the right I bailed one of the TD's but couldn't kill his 2iC's Staghound contesting the objective.

In his go Adam removed the objective on the hill which was much harder for him to contest than the one near the ford. His fire this turn had no effect.

The left at the end of turn six

Turn seven saw me move my Panthers on the left round the hill to give me LoS on his Sextons. I didn't move anything on the right. In the shooting phase I knocked out one more Sexton and mg'd two of his unit command stands forcing a morale check and a company check, which he passed. On the right my 'werfers killed another TD forcing a morale check which he failed and a company check which he passed, again! I also killed his 2iC which was contesting the objective. But it was too late as Adam could now remove it in his turn. Which of course he did.

At this point Adam won. He'd held out till Turn 8! All he had left on the table was his intact infantry in the village contesting the last objective, his CiC and one Sexton and it's staff team. I'd lost my CiC, 2iC and one Panther. So a 4-3 win for Adam and the allies although his Canadians have ceased to exist as a force. A really weird game but fun.

So things I learned, read the mission briefing properly and think more about objective placement.

The left flank at the end of the game

The left flank at the end of the game

Oh, I used my new Chessex dice for this game and I'm happy with them. They have a nice weight to them and don't seem to roll particularly high or low. Even though I lost I'm claiming it as a moral victory for the new dice. :-)

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