Fischfang Day 3
Just play-tested Scenario 20 from the Anzio supplement. Neil, my regular opponent, took the Germans whilst I fielded my newly-painted Yanks.
The battle centres on the German attack on Able Company of the 180th Infantry Regiment on the third day of Operation Fischfang. Twelve German tanks head down the "bowling alley" with infantry following some turns behind. The Americans are defending a bridge over the Carroceto Canal with three platoons of infantry backed up by a number of cooks and bottle-washers sent forward in desperation. The Yanks have seen the Germans coming and called for armoured reinforcements, but there's no sign of them yet!
The first platoon of German tanks deployed on table almost immediately, and spotted the Americans as a swarm of bazooka shells headed their way. No damage was done, and the Panzer IIIs (yes, they were still using them!) swung round and began area firing on the American trenches. Another platoon of German tanks, Panzer IVs this time, joined in, and a terrific firefight ensued between the German armour and the four bazookas and single HMG that the Americans had.
The Germans couldn't overrun the American trenches as the canal was in the way and their infantry hadn't arrived yet, but were, as history, able to blast away at anything in a Vallejo Brown-Violet hat! The Yanks quickly began taking casualties: one section racking up nine wounds as their men threw themselves desperately on top of the accompanying bazooka team in an attempt to prevent the loss of their only anti-tank assets!
The Germans, however, were a bit like ducks in a shooting gallery, as the road was the only hard surface around: everywhere else was a sea of glutinous mud and the "Bogged Down" card an ever- present threat. Lined up neatly almost track to track, they lost three tanks in as many minutes, particularly as the Yanks could move around to fire at their side armour. The "Cooks & Bottle-Washers" were particularly impressive: Cook-Sergeant Landau proving that his bazooka firing was infinitely better than his meatloaf!
The Americans were, however, starting to run out of men, and once the cannon fodder had been, er, eaten, as it were, the bazooka teams started suffering as well: two being KO'd in the same turn. At that moment, the first of the German infantry arrived as well, who could cross the canal, and things were looking a bit grim for the 180th.
The Allies had, however, now obviously recovered from the initial shock of the German advance (General Lucas had finished his grits presumably) and their superior off-table assets started to come into play. First an air-strike KO'd a tank from the third German panzer platoon (more Panzer IIIs) and then the shells from a battery of 105mm guns started landing. Two German platoons were caught right in the blast area, suffering badly, and a Panzer III was blown to bits by a direct hit!
With three American Shermans appearing along the Dead End Road, the Germans began to retreat: not realising that their four infantry platoons (slightly battered by artillery, admittedly) and remaining three tanks now faced only two US platoons, both of which were under strength (suffering from the depredations of the previous few days fighting) and the three Shermans, who couldn't reach the fighting anyway as they had reached the end of Dead End Road and were faced with traversing the same sea of mud that had caused the Germans such problems.
A victory for the 180th mainly due to a loss of nerve on the part of the German commander. A strong push might have cracked the American morale or, better, forced them to fall back due to simple lack of manpower to continue the battle. The American victory conditions also meant that he could not have just left the Germans in place, but had to clear them from the field. A little more faith in Fischfang, and it could have been the Germans eating the Cook-Sergeant's evening meal rather than the victorious Yanks.