Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Flames of War: Battle of Six Armies at Caen.

Hey Folks,

Here is a nice big post about and nice big game I played last weekend.

The pictures are ones I took, and those I got from the other players, the text is from my teammate Gerald, any text I add will be in italics.

So for the sides we had Brits, Canadians, and my US Airborne, against German Wermacht and SS forces.

Germans: Bryce (yes another one) with a company from the 503. Schwere Panzer Kompanie, Jessie with a Beute StuG force from the 21. Panzer Division and Jim with 2. SS Das Reich, also my fiercest opponent Jim's adjutant Elizabeth, his 12 year old daughter.

Allies:We had Gerald with 15th Scots infantry company, Tom with 4th Canadian Armored, and me with my 101st Airborne. We had 22 tubes of artillery all together.

21st Panzer reinforced by 2nd SS Das Reich and 503rd Schwere Pz. Kompanie


15th Scottish reinforced by 101st Airborne and 4th Canadian Armoured

Mission:           HOLD THE LINE

No. of Players:  6

Background:  The battle occurred on the southwestern outskirts of Caen. The industrial sector of Caen (German half of table) had been reduced to rubble by prior Allied bombing but the remainder of the table (Allied half of table) was gently rolling countryside with occasional bocage and the village of La Mort des Boches. The 21st Panzer has been badly degraded after a week of ongoing actions so the decision is made to reinforce it for the attack. Allied intel knows something is coming and calls up the 4th Canadian Armoured for support.

 Germans setting up. 
 German right flank, with the 21. Panzer, facing off against my 101st.
German left flank, King Tigers and lots of armored infantry. 
Forces deployed looking over our great table, set up by Jim based on a suburb of Caen. 

Allied deployment, lots of artillery but most everything else was in reserve. Looking at all that armor Jerry has, we're gonna need a bigger boat. 

German Turn 1: Germans decided on a bold coup de main directed at the nearest objective.  This lay on the Allied right/German left flank. The King Tigers and a platoon of mechanized infantry in Sdkfz 251’s struck straight across the open fields for the objective. This was apparently only defended by a dug in platoon of Canadian infantry. Things looked grim. Could the game be over this quickly?  The 21st Panzer moved out in full on the Allied left/German right in a pinning attack. They equally faced only a dug in airborne platoon. Das Reich advanced up the highway in the center, daring the Allies to challenge them. The center looked totally undefended, nothing but a recon unit of Humber armoured cars. Had they really caught the Tommys napping? In a stroke of luck for the Allies though, the German 105 battery and the Nebelwerfer battery both fail to range in.

German advance. They're coming right for us!

Allied Turn 1: The Scots deploy a battery of 2x 17lbers from ambush right on the objective. The Canadians and the Scots both roll for Typhoons and bring on 2 planes each. The Americans range in with a total of 10x 105mm guns. Time on Target, baby! The Americans wreak havoc on the bunched up Beute Stugs and halftracks. They kill a Beute Stug, an Sdkfz 250 and an Sdkfz 251. The German infantry escape from the tracks. The Scots range in with a total of 12x 25lbers. and catch the lead 4x Sdkfz 251’s of the “coup de main” and destroy 3 and kill the transported infantry in 2 of them. The 17lb  A/T guns and the Canadian 2ic’s Sherman both kill an additional halftrack but the transported infantry escapes. This guts the mechanized platoon. On a better note for the Germans, their flak is withering. No Typhoon makes it through. This would continue for most of the day. No joy for the “Jabos”. The Scottish recon in the center wisely pulls back behind the woods to avoid the onrushing Das Reich Mark IV’s.

Now which one was Mike? He was the target.

American Artillery, excellence through applied science. TOT Bombardment. 

German Turn 2:  In a surprising move, the Tigers on the German left, now stripped of supporting infantry, pull back and engage at rage with their superior guns. The combined fire from two up-crewed German 88mm guns and the King Tigers is deadly. They combine to kill a dug in 17lber and also killed a dug in 25lber. To add insult to injury they used their remaining shots to kill the platoon leader of the dug in Canadian infantry. On the German right, the 21st Panzer shrugs off the American artillery and advances up the road and turns left to join with their Das Reich partners in the center. They move at speed down the bocage lined road. The Mark IV’s and Sdkfz 250/9’s of Das Reich race down the road all the way to the highway cross road, well into the Allied deployment zone. The German 105’s range in on the Scots battery but fail to score any hits. The Nebelwerfers range in and pin the 25lbrs and also kill another dug in gun. The Allied radio net is alive with requests for support. They are told to hang on. No help coming for a bit longer. The Allies are looking very worried.

The Big Cats learn caution for once after the massive bombardments they suffered. The soldiers of the Empire still look very thin on the ground around the objective. 

Allied Turn 2: The Americans rake the 21st Panzer yet again with a devastating barrage. The shellacking bails the 21st’ sole King Tiger, kills another Beute Stug, and bails 3 more halftracks. The bocage lined highway has become littered with burning vehicles. The Scots recon, in a brave effort to help stem the German tide and buy time for the reinforcements, moves into the highway of death and manages to kill a Beute Stug and a halftrack also killing the transported infantry. The Canadians reveal an ambush in the bocage at the cross roads and shred Das Reich’s lead elements. The Germans lose two Mark IV’s and two Sdkfz 250’s from Das Reich’s recon element. Canadians roll for Typhoons and bring on 2 planes. Scots elect to wait for air until the German flak has been degraded. The Scots’ sole remaining 17 lbr reaches out and kills one of the German Sdkfz 7 AA vehicles. The result is predictable though, the lone remaining Sdkfz 7 coupled with the 20mm AA of Das Reich is more than enough to see off the Typhoons. The Canadians reveal an ambush. Their M-10 Achilles move out onto the flank of one of the three King Tigers to their front and try to kill it, but it takes every vehicle firing. One King Tiger dead and two remaining on the German left. The Scots’ battery unpins and fires but does no damage. German losses have been heavy but nowhere near heavy enough to blunt the attack. The Allies look grim.
 You can see both ambushes here. 

My Americans holding down the left flank only through massive firepower. 

German Turn 3:  The Germans continue to take the fight to the Allies. On their left, the 21st Panzer’s King Tiger refuses to unbail but the remaining Panzer Grenadier platoon dismounts and moves into the woods while the remnants of the Beute Stugs move to the flank of  the Canadian Shermans at the cross roads, ignoring the Scots recon. The Beute Stugs both miss. One of Das Reich’s Mk IV’s then fires on the Canadians and hits but fails its FP test. The Scots recon breathes a huge sigh of relief until they see the reason they were ignored so far. Das Reich lashes out at them and kills four of the Humbers with the fifth failing its morale and leaving the table. All of Das Reich’s panzer grenadiers move to join the remaining two King Tigers to renew the original assault on the nearest objective. The 503rd is a whittled down but still very lethal force and now chooses to prove it. The Tigers kill all of the M-10 Achilles. The Nebelwerfers pin the Canadian infantry and the Scots artillery. The 88’s pin the remaining 17lber. The Allies look feeble indeed.

German Armored advance in the face of heavy fire. 

Allied Turn 3: The Scots roll and get one platoon, a confident veteran Sherman tank platoon which contains a Firefly. The Canadians also get a Confident trained Sherman tank platoon with a Firefly and the Americans bring on an 81mm mortar battery, but it is on foot and won’t play a part in the game. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Americans spring two ambushes at once. Their 57mm AT guns are placed to counter the remnants of 21st Panzer as they roll relentlessly forward and a platoon of Shermans moves to counter the thrust by Das Reich at the crossroads. The 57mm guns kill the final half track for the 21st Panzer Grenadiers. The panzer grens are walking now. The American battery slams into the pitifully few remaining Beute Stugs of 21st Panzer bailing or killing the remaining vehicles except for the bailed King Tiger and the two AA halftracks. One Beute Panzer fails morale and leaves the table the other avoids a test because all 4 vehicles are bailed and none dead. The Canadian Shermans at the crossroads kill one Beute Stug and bail the other and kill the final Das Reich Mark IV. Scots Typhoons and Canadian Typhoons shift tactics and attack the Nebelwerfer and 105 batteries as they aren’t defended by flak and pin both batteries.

Ambush reinforcements have arrived. Helping stall the German onslaught on the left. 
But the objective is on the right. 

German Turn 4:  On their left, the Germans seem unstoppable. The face only a leaderless Canadian infantry platoon and a single 17lber gun dug in on the objective. The attacks continue all along the front with only the Americans appearing to have stopped their foes and the objective is on the opposite flank from the Americans. The Nebelwerfers fail to unpin, but the dangerous King Tigers move to engage the Canadians at the crossroads and kill a Sherman. The 88’s fire on the lone remaining AT asset, the 17lber. They get two hits, but the Scots save the gun. Time is becoming critical as the Allies begin to get reinforcements. The Germans now order that all storm trooper moves are to be made forward towards the enemy rather than into cover. They appear to have thrown what little caution they had to the wind. The 21st Panzer unbails the 4 remaining Beute Stugs and they move out, but their King Tiger remains bailed.
It looks a lot worse for the Germans than it is, many of their forces remain active. 
My Shermans took a licking but kept on ticking. 
The first time I've had a tank platoon not run off the table due to morale.

Allied Turn 4:  The 17lber fails to unpin. Both the Scots and the Canadians roll and receive 2 Typhoons apiece and decide to brave the flak and try to stop the immediate threat to the objective, the King Tigers. They will fail. The flak is simply too deadly. The Americans open up with their 105’s again and bail 3 of the recently remounted Beute Stugs. A Canadian Sherman manages to kill a Das Reich halftrack. Those Shermans coming from reserve better be double timing it. The Canadians and Scots have nothing to stop the lumbering King Tigers.

Even hitting them with everything they've got, the Allies are hard pressed to stop the King Tigers. 
Also, there's a lot of infantry waiting it's chance. 

German Turn 5:        

This is the money turn for the Germans. Time is running out (players have to get back to home and hearth). They have to take the objective or die trying. The Das Reich Panzer Grens move out of the woods, preceded by their halftracks. The halftracks set up the assault on the Canadian infantry. The two remaining King Tigers fire on the Shermans providing support to the infantry and the 88’s target the 17lber.  Disaster! The Tigers fail to get a single hit on the Shermans. The 88’s get one hit on the 17lber, but the Scots pass their save and hang tough. The 21st Panzer is down to one King Tiger, whose crew finally decides to unbail and two Beute Stugs, but they gamely fight on. These manage to kill 2 of the American Shermans and keep them from moving to support the Scots on the objective. Das Reich’s assault now goes in. It turns out to be a suicide charge. The Shermans roll 4 dice in defensive fire and get four hits and four kills. The halftracks are all dead.

The battle hinges on a 17pdr, and a handful of infantry and Shermans. Can they do it?

They don't like it up 'em!

Allied Turn 5:

The Scots artillery pounds the advancing Das Reich grenadiers, killing seven stands. The Americans rake the surviving elements of 21st Panzer and the Typhoons finally get 2 planes through the flak screen and bail a King Tiger. Additional Allied reserves are reaching the front lines and more are finally arriving. At this point, the players decide to call it a day. This was one of the closest games any of us can ever remember. It literally could have gone either way. The star for the Allies was undoubtedly the artillery. For the Germans it had to be the flak. Both did their jobs superbly all day.

Reinforcements streaming in spell the end of the German counter attack. 
Also, it was dinner time. 

Allied Victory 4:3
But the line held. 

The losses on both sides were great. The Allies held against the counter attack, but only just. 

This was an absolutely wonderful game. Great players, great terrain, and great fun. Now I need to get my guns painted up so they aren't such an eye sore. 

Thank you to all my fellow players, and especially Jim for bringing the terrain and setting it all up for us. He built the table based on aerial  photos of the outskirts of Caen. And to Gerald for doing the writing, both taking notes are the game and working up this wonderful play by play you see here. I just but together the pictures of the excellent terrain and the dramatic run down of the game. 


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  2. I was the painting of the Beute stug company, good to see them again!