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AXIS CMPzC AAR: Assault on Hex (1,7)

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My apologies for being late to the party, but there were just too many irons in my fire lately.


StrafKompanie Burke, a Luftwaffe penal company under the command of hastily-formed Kampfgruppe Kerner, has been given the thankless task of halting the British XXX Corps push across the Dommel River into Valkenswaard, and presumably following the highway up to and and across the Rhine into Arnhem. Allied paratroopers have dropped all along this road, seizing bridges and cities, including Eindhoven, Njimegen, and Arnhem itself.  They are obviously building a corridor for XXX Corps to relieve the paratroopers at Arnhem and launch attacks into Germany itself!  OKW is scrambling to put together forces strong enough to stop this drive and crush the paratroopers concentrated in and around those cities. 


KG Kerner is hurriedly concentrating in Valkenswaard. It is composed of unit from the Kriegsmarine, rear area security, and the Luftwaffe, including Fallschirmjaegers, all at roughly company strength (many are merely training units), with some field artillery batteries, a platoon of jadgpanthers, an assortment of smaller detachments, and Burke's StrafKompanie.  The units that have arrived are furiously entrenching in the village and the surrounding woods.   


Poor Burke and his men.  They are the least equipped to stop an armored drive, yet because they arrived in Valkenswaard first, and, well, because punishment units are given the dirtiest of tasks anyway, HQ Kerner ruthlessly--desperately--has thrown them into the breach! They have been sent to the bridge crossing the Dommel near a little hamlet just off the highway, and ordered to dig in and "Stand and Hold!"  It is, frankly, a suicide mission, and Burke understands that it is tantamount to a "Stand and Die" order. Given that he and his men have only two means of getting out of the penal kompanie--die, or fight bravely enough to erase the stain of their transgressions--he, and not surprisingly, his men, choose the latter course.  Which, in the situation at hand, basically amount to the same outcome.



Dammit!  Halfway into this post I hit the wrong button and posted this before completion.  Unit Composition, terrain assessment, plans, etc. coming up throughout the day.....

Edited by mjkerner
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I've been checking many times each day for this thread to emerge...my wishes have been granted!

An incomplete post is better than no post, mjkerner...glad to see you've come back to the party...can't wait to see how you and your comrades plan to stop the armored onslaught!

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...can't wait to see how you and your comrades plan to stop the armored onslaught!

We're contemplating using the Festrunk brothers' (Yortuk and Georg) tactic during the Czech uprising.  As you may or may not recall, those two wild and crazy guys were the only residents in their New York apartment building who had ever "ran from the Russian tanks".  Not a bad plan.  They almost parlayed it into getting some swinging chicks with big American breasts!

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Unit Composition


StrafKompanie Burke, with attachments, is composed of the following troops and weapons.  Troop quality is given in brackets:




[Veteran]     HQ Burke           (2 men/ rifles)


[All Green]    1st Zug HQ        (2 men/rifles)

                       1st Squad        (9 men/1 MP40, 8 rifles)

                       2nd Squad       (6 men/1 MP40, 5 rifles)


[All Green]    2nd Zug HQ       (3 men/rifles)

                      1st Squad         (9 men/1 MP40, 8 rifles, 1 Pf 30)

                      2nd Squad        (6 men/1 MP40, 5 rifles, 2 Pf 30)


                   The equivalent of a 3rd platoon,

                   directly commanded by Lt. Burke:


     [Crack]     Sniper                ("Psycho" Neidermeyer/ 1 Scoped G43 with 36 rounds) 

         [Vet]     Demo Team      (2 men/1 MP40, 1 rifle, 4 demo charges) (Lead by Guyver, hero in the earlier bridge action)

         [Vet]    Tank Hunter       (1 man/MP40, 1 Pf 30)

         [Reg]   Tank Hunter       (1 man/MP40, 1 Pf 60)  

      [Green]   Tank Hunter       (1 man/MP40, 1 Pf k)

      [Green]   Tank Hunter       (1 man/MP40, 1 Pf 30)

      [Green]   LMG Team         (2 men/1 LMG42, rifles)


[All Green]   HMG Section

                     HQ                   (2 men/rifles)

                     1st Team         (3 men/1 MG34, rifles)

                     2ndTeam         (3 men/1 MG34, rifles)


[All Green]   50mm Mortar Section

                     HQ                    (1 man/MP 40)

                    1st Team           (3 men/ 1 50mm mortar, rifles)

                    2nd Team          (3 men/ 1 50mm mortar, rifles)

                    Ammo:  Both mortars have 90 rounds HE


[All Green]    81mm Mortar (Salvaged from the earlier bridge action)

                      81mm mortar  (3 men/1 MP 40, rifles)

                      Ammo Team   (2 men/rifles)

                      Ammo: 19 rounds HE, 3 rounds Smoke



2./FJ Flak. Zug Valkenswaard (Technically under separate command; Burke still orders them around, much to their consternation!)


[Regular]     2./FJ Flak Valk. HQ    (3 men/2 MP 40, rifle)

[All Green]        Gun Squad A         (5 men/1 20mm Lt. AA, rifles/pistols) (This gun is directly subordinate to 2./FJ Flak HQ)

                         Ammo Team          (2 men, rifles)

                         Ammo: 380 HE; 90 AP-1


[Regular]     2nd Platoon HQ        (4 men/1 MP 40, 3 rifles, 1 Pf30)

[All Green]      1st Gun Squad       (5 men/1 20mm Lt. AA, rifles/pistols) 

                        Ammo Team         (2 men/rifles)

                        Ammo:  740 HE; 180 AP-1


[All Green]      2nd Gun Squad      (5 men/1 20mm Lt. AA, rifles/pistols) 

                        Ammo Team         (2 men/rifles)

                        Ammo:  600 HE; 150 AP-1


[Regular]        3rd Gun Squad       (5 men/1 20mm Lt. AA, rifles/pistols) 

[Green]            Ammo Team         (2 men/rifles)

                        Ammo:  380 HE; 90 AP-1


[Green]           Scout Team           (3 men/3 MP 40)


[Green]           LMG Team            (2 men/1 LMG34)


Burke's men have also registered 4 Target Reference Points around their perimeter.




Not good.  Burke, Guyver and the two Flak HQ's are "+2"; the mortar and infantry platoon HQ's are "-2".  Most subordinate individual units sections are "-1", with one or two "0" or "-2".


In sum, 8 Panzerfausts (various types), 4 20mm light AA guns (immobile), 2 light and 2 heavy machine guns, 2 light and 1 medium mortar, 17 MP 40's, one sniper rifle, a number of other rifles, 107 men and, if I counted correctly, 187 grenades, to stop XXX Corps armored thrust!  
This force is overwhelmingly Green, with only a few key units with better experience, motivation, and leadership that Burke can count on to hold things together and take the fight to the enemy.  Burke knows that green troops will cower easily, won't fire as often as ordered, and panic and break at the drop of a hat.  The best, indeed the only, tactic that will work to even slow down the British here is to hunker down in buildings and earthworks, and make him come to Burke's men and trust that the meager PFs and, with some luck, the 20mm's, can take out a tank or two and chew up their infantry.
Enemy Strength Estimates
From various documents gleaned by Burke's men in the earlier fight at the bridge, and of course from HQ Kerner and higher commands, it appears that Lt. Burke is facing approximately 2 tank platoons and a company of infantry, give or take. So, upward of 6-8 Shermans and maybe 140 or so infantry, mostly likely all with much better experience and motivation.  Ah well, we shall see soon enough.
Next up (probably tonight...my Honey Do list is calling me...), the battlefield, tactical problems, plans (besides the "Run Away" one, that is), and pretty pictures!  Oh, and since first blood has already been drawn, the start of the actual AAR!*
* The discussion of plans and the initial set up, etc., that are coming up next will be presented as they were initially developed several days ago, before the actual shooting started yesterday (about 8 minutes or so into the battle).  And yes, most of my ideas and assumptions went out the window after the first shots were fired, lol!        


Edited by mjkerner
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Unfortunately the battle started just as Oberleutnant Burke's 3 sisters were visiting from Grossenbustendorf!

Only time for a quick snapshot when they dropped by his command bunker.




And a very entertaining game of Scrabble, no doubt...I'm sure my cat could beat these representatives of Playboy's finest...

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Don't forget...that LMG42 under you is <Slebner> also from the bridge fight. The young soldat who "borrowed" a vehicle to go home on leave and then was sent to the Strafkompanie...


Maybe when I name someone on purpose, it should be *Slebner* with asterisksesses...?


Also, remember *Heinrich*...! the Flakfuhrer

Edited by kohlenklau
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To quote Flounder from "Animal House,"  Oh man, this is gonna be great!!! :D


Extra underwear has been added to the supply trucks down the road a bit for just such an eventuality.  Burke's men won't have to fight "commando" for too long.


Scrabble just became my favorite game...




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You guys laugh now, but just wait. You'll be hysterical when the shoot in' starts. Green troops live up to their name. I think kohlenklau is simply trying to distract them from their dismal fate.

Supper time with Marta (wife, not Kubelwagon) now, then a little picture labeling and set-up info will be posted...give me a couple hours.

Meanwhile, maybe kohlenklau can come up with some entertainment in the meantime. :-)

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The Battlefield


I have a rather large set-up area for the forces at hand, but at least the Allies aren't across the river near the six road section objectives.  I doubt that he's across the river on the right (North) where my setup area ends, because of the narrative of the campaign and Major Hardenberger's successful bridge-blowing operation. My exit zone is along the northern edge, if I am able to ever reach it. I don't know whether the exit zone is known by my opponent.






The area is generally flat and the only elevations except the river are the raised roadways. Even though it is predawn, I have been able to get clear LOS from as far as where the road runs off the map edge on my side (East) to almost all points along the river, and from the rear of the village, where I have placed entrenchments (see below), to the crossing to my left (South).  LOS is tricky at early dawn, and during set-up I can't be certain what I'm seeing is what I'll be getting when the Big Red Button is pressed! But the Target Tool insists that I have long LOS, so I am both counting on it--to be able to detect his movements, and dreading it--because he shoot the hell out of me with impunity at range. 


There are some fields with long crops/grasses, and the others with very little vegetation, so there is some ability to hide out in certain areas. (You know it's bad when hiding from the enemy is a large part of your battle plan!) Trees line a lot of the roadway, and provide limited cover and concealment. Otherwise, attacking infantry occupying the roadways, not to mention 8' tall Sherman tanks, can pretty much target at will.  This presents problems with placing trenches, since they will likely be seen right off the bat unless hidden or protected by buildings or the elevated roadways themselves. 


There are two blown bridges crossing the Dommel, but it is passable over most of its course across the map.  The ground conditions are damp, but I don't get the impression that it will be any hindrance for tracked vehicles.  I can always hope that one of his tanks gets bogged crossing the river--hey, it can happen--but I don't count that as part of my defense strategy!


There is a lot of open area, ostensibly with long LOS, and I have no appreciable long range AT assets, unless you count my Pf 60 which can reach out 60 meters! My light AA may be able to disable some tank optics, but I don't know if that would make a lot of difference at the ranges we'll likely be engaged. God, I salivate at the thought of just having one panzerschreck! 


So, hiding it is!


But first, where are they?  Where will they hit me?



Enemy Assessment


My opponent Chappy was a long-serving Canadian infantry officer, so he knows what he's doing.  Trying to figure out the enemy's intentions always reminds me of the "where's the poison" exchange in The Princess Bride. What is he thinking? What is he thinking I'm thinking? What is he thinking I'm thinking about his thinking? What is he thinking I'm thinking about his thinking about my thinking of his thinking about my thinking?  Never ends....


Screw it.  Left, right, or center, or some combination thereof.  He has probably 2 tank platoons and a company-plus of infantry, so he won't likely try hitting in more than two places...jab to chest and right hook, jab to chest and left hook, or roundhouse to the nose.  A right hook (my left flank) really only has the dubious advantage of a blown bridge, and open ground over which to blast me out of my cover. But that puts the village between him and the objective, my best defensive asset.  Besides, since the Allies are advancing up the main highway in the campaign, his troops are probably located on or at least closer to it and the main bridge. So I don't think he'll come at my left, but that doesn't mean he couldn't put a platoon across it as a diversion.


A roundhouse to the nose has the advantage of being right on one end of the line of objectives, and will arguably take a lot less time to deploy into action than either flank would (depending on his set-up zone, of course).  The biggest disadvantage is he'd be attacking the village right off.  But still it's a solid choice, which makes it very unlikely, if he's thinking like I'm thinking, except if he's thinking I'm thinking that, in which case it's very likely...screw it. If I were attacking from his side, I would put a strong diversion there...first as a base of fire, and later to  attack the village and up the road in support of the main attack...on my right.  The right flank has the advantage, especially with tanks, of maneuver room, allowing him to stay back and pound any of my positions his men uncover or I reveal by firing. He won't know the exact makeup of my force, so he hopefully expects me to have some 'schrecks at least, maybe even an ATG. But until he knows for certain, he will want to stay back and provide tank gun cover fire from safer distances. In addition, if he does know where my exit zone is...after all, the Allies can read a map...hitting me from the right lets him guard against a breakout attempt.





I key 180 words a minute, but I lose a lot of time correcting the 173 typos per minute, so I will save my defense set-up for tomorrow.  I'll leave you with a picture of it for now. As you can see, I concentrated mostly in and around the village.  With me firing out of it, I think he will have to come in and take me out, or else he won't be able to peacefully occupy the road objectives.  More tomorrow.






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Defense Plan A


This relatively flat battlefield with a long, narrow set of objectives (the road sections) presented a real quandary for me because I have no long range AT weapons.  All joking aside, hiding my troops from tank fire while being able to inflict damage on his infantry and luring his armor in close is my best option.  I first looked at defending the road sections by essentially boxing it in with trenches and wire.  I knew I couldn't realistically defend Road Sections 1 and 2 because of their proximity to the river and his forces, so I concentrated on defending the remaining 4 sections.  At first I set up trenches and wire along the raised road sections and at the end of section #6, in the hope that the slight elevations would either hide the fortifications or at least provide a little extra cover from fire coming over the road.  But that left the village with very few troops to hold it from an attack from my left or center.   


Initial ideas:



I eventually rejected this for several reasons, mainly because even in trenches, these positions would be too exposed to his tanks, which would have no real incentive to move in close for my PFs to have a chance of hitting any. Also, the wire presented its own problems, because if it was placed far enough away to stop his infantry from getting into good firing range, his tanks could just roll over them with impunity;  too close, to draw in his tanks (based on our Intel, I don't think he has engineers, or at least not too many), let's his infantry get too close for comfort. [From experience, a tank can run over 4 or 5 wire sections before it becomes completely immobilized.]


Knowing how kohlenklau as Dungeon Master likes to sometimes throw surprises at us and keep us off balance, I suspected he may have given the Allies the village as a hidden (from me) objective. It would make sense, since it is so close to the road and an FO hidden in there could cause real problems, maybe not in this battle, but certainly in the context of the campaign.  Even if he didn't, I reasoned that Chappy couldn't afford to let me have a base of fire from the village covering almost the entire length of the road, and would have to send infantry, and hopefully, some armor in to weed my men out. So I hopefully made it a de facto objective for him regardless. [After about 5 turns into the game, without any enemy contact icons seen at all, I finally asked klk if there were any hidden objectives on the map--nope, none.  Still, I felt OK with my decisions, all things considered.]


So the final plan was to set up a fire base in the village, and contest parts of the road up close--namely, at the central crossroads and the last section, where a favorable dip in the road (really, just the end of the tile..but it's in play. I am not trying to be gamey, just practicable) and the convergence of the main road and a secondary road provided a bit more cover. I put one 20mm gun, a HMG. and the psycho sniper there.  I put all my mortars on the back side of the map where they could see all or most of the road, with the idea that after their rounds are used up, they could possibly make a run for the Exit Zones to fight another day. That will be unlikely, depending on his tank placement as the battle rages, but at least the possibility exists.




I fortified the village with an entrenchment (with one 20mm gun placed in it) that would be largely hidden from any direct fire from the bridge, and hopefully from any FO or other mortar/arty observers, and used all the wire to essentially surround it, except for a couple of kill zones if he tried to come straight at it from the central bridge area. I'm hoping this will cause him to use some armor to come in and crush the wire, in which case my PF teams might have a chance to try to take out a tank or two.  (I really don't think they will, but I can dream...) Of course, if he has engineers or if his mortars or artillery flattens the place, so much for that plan!


To cover both the village and road sections 3-6, I placed entrenchments behind the village, with 2 20mm in it.  This is hopefully concealed, more or less, from direct foire from the central bridge area, and from observers. It covers the village nicely too, but who knows how long it will hold up once his armor gets LOS to it.


Overview of my dispositions:






More pics follow.........





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Oh, I forgot to mention that on defense, I like to have a small force attempt little spoiling attacks or set little ambushes in unsuspecting palces to try and rattle the attacker a bit.  With this force, I simply couldn't afford to.  I did contemplate using one or two of my precious PF truppen in a spot where my rather generous set-up zone ran over the river to the Allied side.





The one I chose was where the secondary road crossed a ford, near the dashed lines above.  I reasoned that if Chappy went right, he might try to cross at least some vehicles there, since it is close to a road on my side. I placed a one-man PF team there and it sure liked like a great hiding spot.  Plus, if he didn't make any move there, perhaps I could sneak over to the central area and nail some armor.  But Chappy is a pro, and he would likely have infantry all around his armor as they move into position, so just before I hit the Big Red Button, I pulled my pixel guy and put him in the village.  It was a suicide mission for sure, but I'm still wondering if I should have tried it. I can't wait to find out if he crossed armor there, when it's all over.


Ambush spot looking West (toward the Allied side):





Looking South:



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Set-up looks good.  I know how tempting it was to put the PF "volunteer" in an ambush spot way out front.  I would have toyed with that too, but agree with you putting him back in the village.  His presence there might make the other lads less likely to go with Plan B.  They might steady a bit knowing they have some anti-armor capability. 



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Only I got to see the special turn that played out...


..half-way into the turn, a big helicopter from CMBS landed right there outside the Dutch village, one of the Bren carriers makes a bee-line over to it and Capt Chappy dismounts after he "acquires" his suitcase and bathing suit. The last thing we saw... must have been a new uniform mod?...his steel helmet changed into a sombrero and he then entered the helicopter and it took off. The whole company was flabbergasted!  :D

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Before Chappy gets back from his fun in the sun vacation, I will bring you up to date on the trials and tribulations of Leutnant Burke and his poor, under-armed band of wretches.  The battle will be just under 60 minutes


Here's a recap of the defenses:






Minutes 58-47


After initial indications that the British were following up Lt. Burke's battlefield scavenging adventure with an assault on his position,  things went quiet.  Too quiet.  For 10 minutes, nothing was seen or heard by anyone.  Nothing. (Not an icon of any sort was seen by this observer, not even sound contacts!) His inexperienced, under-armed, and downtrodden truppen were starting to get hopeful...maybe they called off their attack, or maybe they are going to attack somewhere else.  Maybe we'll have time to be reinforced!


Burke knew better, and was getting very nervous (as was this observer!) the longer the British took to appear anywhere along the river. That can only mean they must be crossing on my far right.  There goes any hope of retreating back to Valkenswaard. Scheisse! Time to send out scouts to get a closer look!


"Bucholz (1st Squad), send a section out to the east-west road on your left and watch that bridge crossing closely.  And send a team to the central bridge...maybe the Brits are hiding in the river bed havng an early morning tea."  "Neidermeyer, get yourself over to the far right, and look for something to shoot!"


Bucholz send Obgfr  Fuhrmann with his section to the treeline along the E-W road to the left of the ville, while Fliegerern Ruppertz and Weber--with a extra load of grenaden--head along the stone wall toward the central bridge. "Crazy Hans" Neidermeyer checks his gear and his scoped G43, and heads off to the right flank...relishing this lone wolf assignment, and hoping to add some British officers or tank commanders to the growing number of notches on his rifle stock. 



Edited by mjkerner
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