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sburke

The Battle for Hamel Vallee - an AAR

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vKleist if you are reading this, this is about what my guys are feeling right about now in our battle. LOL

I am absolutley reading this! This is fantastic! I mean the AAR not that your on the receiving end in our battle. I don't think anything we've played was this intense. :)

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Okay turns are all posted. Thank you Wicky for the Google drive suggestion

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B7QDFjCzWAgybm5pZzZfU0JoNGs

Link is also in my SIG for those who don't want to find this page later

Our situation is now very interesting as there are signs of desperation on both sides. For the Americans, the mounting losses have created

the need to reach the objective as quickly as possible or face certain defeat for the offensive. For the Germans the sudden shift in

the axis of attack has created a concern that we do not have the resources here to hold. It is now perceived by both sides as a race. The

Americans need to punch through before the Germans can react, the Germans for the first time have to consider offensive action to bring the

needed resources to bear.

As Major Lang shouts his orders into the radio the first artillery rounds begin to fall on Hamel Manor

t60preparationsbegin.jpg

Shortly thereafter smoke rounds start landing nearby as well shrouding the outlying buildings where the remnants of 1st platoons of

2nd and 3rd companies are huddled.

t61smoke.jpg

Major Lang has contacted the PJ Bn and given him his orders. He must break through to hwy 91 and attack into the American flank. For the

PJ commander this means he must first clear a path to the hwy. There are still American tanks known to be facing his forces at both roadways.

t61thecrossroads.jpg

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2nd platoon 2nd Company is right under the barrage though dug in

t643rdpltn2ndco.jpg

Help is on the way, but it will take time

t64formingup.jpg

The Battery commander himself leads the way edging back up to the center crossroads to confront the Stuart known to be lurking there.

t65atthesharpend.jpg

Meanwhile 3rd platoon 1st Company is brought in to take over the defensive positions occupied by the ill starred 3rd platoon 3rd Company

which is to be sent to reinforce the manor.

t663rdpltn1stcompanymovesin.jpg

At Hamel manor the Marder crews ready their vehicles

t65reserves.jpg

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The bombardment of 2nd Platoon 2nd Company continues and it is only a matter of time before the unit begins to break. At that point they

will leave the foxholes into the barrage. If the Americans continue this, and there is every reason to think they will, half the infantry force at

Hamel Manor will be out of action

t663rdpltn2ndco.jpg

3rd platoon 3rd company turns over their foxholes to 1st Company infantry

t663rdpltn3rdcompanymovesout.jpg

The platoon makes there way out onto the center road as the sounds of artillery pounding the manor give some indication of what they are

walking in to. You can almost smell the fear on these guys

t67movingup.jpg

Molek meanwhile has moved into a position to be able to observe any allied movement and is the first to note, the Amis are on the move

(yes I was tempted to say The Amis are coming!)

t67molekandintel.jpg

Overview of the battle. The smokescreen is blocking observation of the forming up area, Molex is face down in the dirt as American tanks

area fire the hedgerow he is using as cover.

t67overview.jpg

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A fellow 2nd Company AT gunner goes to join Molek

t68atsupportformolek.jpg

And quickly thinks better of it as artillery rounds and tank fire make this a decidedly lethal area.

t68bailingout.jpg

Molek continues to be the man on the spot and doesn't let me down

t68intel.jpg

On the left flank, the PJ units are forming up

t69leftflankreserves.jpg

While in the center they prepare to drive through the american defenders

t69armorforward.jpg

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The storm contimnues to rage on Hamel Manor

t69hamelinthecenterofthestorm.jpg

As the StuG slowly edges past the Bty Commander and up to what he knows is a waiting Stuart

t69goinghunting.jpg

The Stuart fires first bouncing a shot off the tough frontal armor of the StuG

t69itiscalledashrug.jpg

Which then fires high

t69somuchforlasertargeting.jpg

The second shot would also go high - so much for laser firing tanks. I don't think this guy could hit a barn

t69twomisses.jpg

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The rest of these shots are literally the last 3 turns of the game. 44 some photos and that is after culling anything I could skip.

The StuG would back off as the Stuart contines to bang rounds off his hide and an alert goes out that a Sherman has joined the Stuart.

Once again the call goes out for the AT gunners. Man did I ever come to love these guys.

clearingthepathPJfwd002.jpg

Time is running short as American infantry and armor start breaking through to the hwy

t71overview.jpg

The units at Hamel Manor not willing to trust that the cavalry will arrive in time take matters into their own hands. A Marder commander orders

his driver to take out a Sherman that has edged into the field across from the Manor. Not the one up on the hill they are looking at now.

That one was just discovered. Ack Schiess? would that be appropriate?

clearingthepath004.jpg

The driver edges up the road trying to angle in towards the building. He needs to have the gun angled for minimum adjustment or the Sherman

is sure to kill them all.

marder001.jpg

target spotted!! Yeah that one!

marder002.jpg

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The second Sherman fires high. The gunner does not lose his nerve and patiently sites the target. Tell me you don't just love relative spotting.

C'mon say it "I love relative spotting". CMx2 baby, don't look back.

marder003.jpg

Fire!

marder004.jpg

A Hit!!

marder005.jpg

The Sherman however survives the round and returns fire

marder006.jpg

The driver is hit!

marder007.jpg

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Thinking fast the commander shoves his bleeding comrade aside and throws the vehicle into reverse

marder008.jpg

Though he is able to escape from the damaged Sherman, its partner up the hill now has a clean shot and this round doesn't miss

marder009.jpg

Back at the crossroads our AT team approaches a position from which to fire

clearingthepathPJfwd001.jpg

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While the armor battle is escalating on all sides a lone infantry team from 3rd Platoon 2nd Company are keeping an eye on hwy 91.

These were the same guys acting as security detail for the AT team earlier and who then assisted Molek in hitting the American recon

when a Sherman comes rolling over from the center crossroads to join the attacking force. They had gotten back to this position just

ahead of an angry American artillery barrage and are completely exhausted. As they are trying to recover the Sherman rolls up intent

on contributing to the assault.

Our team is armed only with a PF and it is beyond effective distance.

Standandfight001.jpg

What's their first move? You betcha, shoot the damn TC. Gods these boys are well trained

Standandfight002.jpg

A nearby MG team joins in splitting the concentration of the enemy tank

Standandfight003.jpg

What else have we got? You serious? A friggin rifle grenade?

Standandfight004.jpg

Umm yeah, you got a better idea?

Standandfight005.jpg

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At least he hit the damned thing, unlike a certain unnamed Stug gunner.... Good shot arnold. Funny how we find

out every guy's name on this team.

Standandfight006.jpg

Holy crap, it worked. The tank pops smoke and retreats!

Standandfight007.jpg

Unfortunately he has friends, notice who's hands go up in the air first. Now that's a -2 leader for you

Standandfight008.jpg

And the team is now cowering. At this point I am figuring it was a good run, but looks like their time is up

Standandfight009.jpg

Wait, what's this? Moving? Moving where?

Standandfight010.jpg

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OMFG talk about growing a pair, he's got a kar98 and at point blank range he is gonna take these guys on.

Standandfight011.jpg

His buddy is hit, his team leader is waving his arms like he's gone into rapture and this guy just keeps firing

Standandfight012.jpg

Ha! who blinked first!

Standandfight018.jpg

I'm just waiting for the sqd leader to get hit in the crossfire

Standandfight019.jpg

My pulse was actually racing during this scene. All the effort BFC put into this game and the TAC AI comes to life at this moment.

Charles, Steve whomever is behind this or all of you, outfriggin standing! I have completely lost control over this fight and it is the

most exciting thing going on for a full minute. To those who have nay sayed 1:1, tell me this doesn't make you think maybe just

maybe these guys are absolutely f**kin dead on.

Standandfight020.jpg

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The American's stop to reload and our hero Hardenberger (yeah I want to know the names of all my guys, not just team leaders.

BFC fix or do sumfink!) drops to the ground and turns away. I am out of breath and figuring he's had enough and now

they are going to shoot him like a dog.

Standandfight021.jpg

Whoa, what's that? He's got a grenade?!

Standandfight022.jpg

JFC!!!! Who is this guy? Herr Rambo?

Standandfight023.jpg

And another! If you look real close to the guy in the fore ground's leg you can just see the potato masher. At this point I was singing

one potato, two potato....

Standandfight024.jpg

Bang!! Hey Euling, who the f**k are you surrendering to?

Standandfight025.jpg

I am now out of my chair chanting Hardenberger! Hardenberger! I'm bettin Broadsword can hear me at the other end of the bay.

It's a couple guys, not even at the center of the battle and I am raving like a madman. BFC you earned every last cent and then some.

This battle has raged for an hour plus and not only am I fully engrossed, I am cheering! Games don't make me cheer, they are just

umm games... Your money's worth? LOL you're kidding right? Sorry BFC I think you sold yourselves short. The game is worth more.

Oh okay I'll buy the modules.

On a last note the very last German casualty of the game in the very last second is Euling. At least he never had to explain why he was

surrendering. No lie, check out save turn 151.

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Wow!!! What an epic CMBN moment right there. It seems to me that the German troops are more willing to toss a grenade, or six, then their allied counterparts. Well, the brits more precisely. I have seen the US toss their fair share of frags, but have only seen the brits do so once. That time is was to kill a Wespe from inside a building. When I assault with them, they never seem to use them. The Germans, well, they throw a ton and they are effective.

This is an awesome AAR by the way, love reading it.

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The Germans have finally gotten their units into position to force open a path to the hwy and try to threaten the American assault.

Schultz, the 1st Pltn commander is in the lead vehicle of the column trying to advance past the wheatfield.

clearingthepathLF001.jpg

On the left flank a Stuart is spotted still holding position in the wheatfield. Schultz takes aim on the enemy vehicle.

clearingthepathLF002.jpg

The round rips through the lightly armored vehicle and the advance continues

clearingthepathLF003.jpg

That would last another few feet when he would come under fire from another hidden Stuart and back quickly all the way to the

rear of his 3 vehicle column...

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at the center crossroads our PJ team takes aim

pj001.jpg

And removes the threat posed by the Sherman. Are these guys not rock solid reliable?

pj002.jpg

Meanwhile another team that I thought I had in reserve gets a bead on the tank that Hardenberger had just driven off.

pj004.jpg

A miss! This one was pretty amazing. I can't tell if the tank spotted the round or the gunner or what. When they were aiming it had begun

advancing and where the round plowed into the ground is where the tank should have been. Instead it suddenly braked and reversed.

pj005.jpg

The Americans have got to be totally frustrated now. A Stuart and a Sherman both hit, another Sherman is facing a ton of harrassment and

darn near took a Shrek round. What else can go wrong? Oh did I mention the Artillery and the TRPs along this stretch? Oh yeah, as soon as

Molek had reported in, the call for rounds to hit the road and orchard across from the manor went in. I had husbanded the 105 btry ammo and

still had a considerable quantity left. A German steel curtain would descend over the entire area I expected the attack from with 3

full batteries.

Edited by sburke

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Over by Hamel Manor the Pak 40 team had patiently bided their time when finally a Sherman on overwatch in the orchard came into LOF.

The crew didn't hesitate.

pak40001.jpg

The first round would hammer into the Sherman, but not take it out

pak40002.jpg

It would take several, but there was no retaliation and the crew methodically pumped round after round in until it was clear the Sherman

was a wreck. It may also have to do with me assigning a target

pak40003.jpg

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Excellent and know with movies too : )

If this is not an ideal advert for CMBN I would despair. The fans yet again do BF proud. I often wonder that without the people who ran/run the Scenario Depots etc . who do the mods etc, and act as unpaid beta-testers, how BF would survive! : )

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At this point the Americans called off the assault. They had their own issues jumping off that I will leave to Broadsword, but the German defenses had immobilized one Sherman (at the cost of a Marder), destroyed two others and hit a Stuart. 4 vehicles destroyed or disabled in 2 minutes is going to throw anybody's plans off kilter. I was only glad I could call off the counter attack. Once I was out of my nice defensive positions I was expecting I was going to be losing some armor, possibly to no avail if they could not impact the battle at the manor. In addition my infantry reserve was going to have to cross fields under artillery fire. Odds are they were never even going to try.

KG Lang had survived and accomplished their mission. A result frankly no one expected. This battle taught me a lot about terrain and it's impact. Many units continued to fight far beyond when I thought they would fold, while others would last a turn or two under fire and split. The crossroads in particular was a location where try as they might, the Americans could not dislodge my units. What I think I discovered was, there was intervening ground obstructing line of fire if the unit was cowering. So my guys would go to ground, stay there a turn or two and recover popping back up to catch more troops in the open. I think one team there accounted for 20 GIs. We debate the effect of a lot of things on this forum, but I think rarely do we appreciate how much altering the battlefield will change game play. Broadsword's maps are amazing. You won't find any billiard flat terrain here. There are deadspots, covered routes, unexpected keyhole positions, reverse slopes etc all over the place and you can't appreciate it until your troops are fighting over the ground.

As to the game, well as stated in the beginning we wanted to showcase how the game actually plays. If you want to really feel it, download some of the game turns. The odd turns are German replay, the even are American. There are no passwords. We'll let the game speak for itself. Don't be surprised to hear yourself cheering though.

This is the end of the battle, but now we need to figure out what does it mean. Broadsword has been working on that. I don't want to ruin any surprises so I'll leave Broadsword to describe how this battle would alter the OP layer and how the resulting decisions would play out.

Once again BFC, thank you. Yeah I'd love a dozen or more additions to the game too, but if I am chanting the names of my pixeltruppen (which I seem to do fairly often with this game) you must have gotten something right.

And before I wrap up, to a gaming partner who has helped me appreciate this game at a whole other level, thanks Broadsword. This has been simply outstanding. So when the Bulge game is out, you interested in gaming the battle for St Vith?

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Wow!!! What an epic CMBN moment right there. It seems to me that the German troops are more willing to toss a grenade, or six, then their allied counterparts. Well, the brits more precisely. I have seen the US toss their fair share of frags, but have only seen the brits do so once. That time is was to kill a Wespe from inside a building. When I assault with them, they never seem to use them. The Germans, well, they throw a ton and they are effective.

This is an awesome AAR by the way, love reading it.

Thanks :D

I can't speak to that. I've barely scratched the surface of the CW module yet. Why and when units use grenades is one of those things I just have to count on my pixeltruppen. If they'd have tossed one earlier it might have been a much shorter fight and Arnold may not have been hit. That the Americans didn't toss any was dumb luck for me.

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Thanks :D

I can't speak to that. I've barely scratched the surface of the CW module yet. Why and when units use grenades is one of those things I just have to count on my pixeltruppen. If they'd have tossed one earlier it might have been a much shorter fight and Arnold may not have been hit. That the Americans didn't toss any was dumb luck for me.

Not sure if the American team even had grenades to toss, or more than just one. I'd have to check the turn. But they were never sent to that hedge as an assault force. They'd been sneaking up the highway and were just hunting to the that spot to peer into a little orchard, then deploy their MG to help protect that flank so the Sherman 76 could take position where it was with less danger from dismounted AT teams.

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An elevated view of the US attack as it went in:

USfinalsequencefirsthedgebreachedaerialtankslineup.jpg

The American troops felt unstoppable when they looked at this array of armor and firepower moving in a concentrated spearhead.

You see the force of 4 tanks starting up the sunken road, and just to the right of it the other half of the US armor starting to move through the first breach on its parallel route.

The Americans expected the sunken road to be defended, mined, or at least covered by some outposts. So the tanks there sat while two or three infantry teams felt their way to the far end of it -- to make sure the tankers wouldn't find a StuG or an 88 barrel waiting for them at the other end!

On the parallel route through the orchards, engineers would have to blast breaches in three hedgerows before the final one -- which would be the breakout point for the attacks across the highway, through the walled orchard complex, and up into the objective.

I knew the Germans had spotted one or more tanks at the formup point. My biggest fear was an attack or a bombardment of this force at the formup point -- the time of maximum vilnerability, when the infantry was dismounting trucks, scouts just starting to clear the attack route, etc.

The sniper kill on one of the tank commanders indicated the attack would not be a total surprise. But even now, the Germans still might not know exactly where the attack was going in.

And, even if they had figured out the plan, once the breaching and advanching started, and the supporting artillery was falling, I felt optimistic that the Germans would be unable to react to the attack and counter it until it was too late.

Everything started according to plan -- except one important detail: Smoke.

I knew the cluster of buldings just past the sunken road would have LOS onto the left flank of my entire force, once they reached the highway. So it not only got a massive pasting from 105mm HE, but was supposed to be under constant smoke cover once my spearhead neared the final hedgerow and the sunken road exit.

But with smoke, one always has to factor in the wind. The wind arrow was pointing left, and I forgot that the arrow points to where the wind is FROM, not the direction it's blowing. So I thought I was being clever by placing my barrage beyond the right side of this image, where it would drift left and cover the buildings by the time my forces needed the smoke to be there. If the timing ended up being a little off, I reasoned, my tanks could shoot smoke here and there to supplement the smoke barrage.

As it turned out the smoke never reached the intended area and was largely wasted.

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Some screenshots of my armor-infantry assault as it advanced to contact(my favorite sequence of this battle)...

Infantry leads the way through the orchards and hedgerows toward the D-91 highway:

USfinalsequencebreachinglasthedgerowbeforehighway.jpg

My tanks and infantry area-fired the heck out of every possible German hiding place along their attack route. They never encountered any opposition, however, and through the first two hedgerows the Americans progressed with zero casualties to tanks or infantry.

This seemed almost too good to be true -- could the attack be hitting an undefended sector? Had the HE bombardment wiped out the forces ahead?

A double run of good luck on the sunken road:

USfinalsequencepreparingtosurgeoutofsunkenroad.jpg

As the infantry scounted ahead, no sign of mines or enemy!

USfinalsequencecolumnenterssunkenroadfindingitclear.jpg

Creative positioning for covering area fire from one of my tanks in the sunken road:

USfinalsequencetankbarksatsquirrel.jpg

(I swear that's exactly what my dog looks like when she puts her paws up on the windowsill to bark at a squirrel!)

But then came the first casualties -- again it was a self-inflicted error: friendly fire.

I've made it a rule NEVER to use TARGET for tanks when firing over the heads of friendly troops if there's any trees in the way or even nearby. But for some reason I got overaggressive and set one of my tanks to area TARGET some covering fire -- on a path that I could see went cleanly thought the orchard and didn't touch any trees. But of course I forgot about the parts of trees that are abstracted and not visible to the naked eye -- and sure enough, an HE shell from the tank did a treeburst right above my tightly-packed infantry.

At least three or four teams were affected -- total 2 KIA 3 WIA, and even worse was the morale/suppression effect on what until then had been aggressively attacking troops.

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