Saturday, 21 February 2015

CoC Mini-campaign

Many people (well those interested in WW2 history and/or wargaming at least!?) know about the daring raid by the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry to capture the Orne bridges on D-Day. They'll also know about Lord Lovat's Commandos marching, to the sound of Bill Millin's bagpipes, up from Sword beach to reinforce Captain Howard's men in the early afternoon of D-Day. But what happened to the Commandos next?

Well that's the subject for our first Chain of Command mini-campaign.

The action begins in the early morning of June 8th with the men of No 4 Commando stationed along the road between Sallenelles and Amfreville, near the Haugeur Château. Their task, along with the rest of 6th Airborne Division, is to hold the vulnerable Eastern flank of the allied bridgehead in Normandy against any attacks made by the Germans.

Since taking up the position on the evening of the 6th, the men of 4 Commando have been preparing their position for a counter-attack. There has been sporadic shelling and sniper fire from the German positions but no concerted effort to re-capture the ground.

The battles will mostly be fought in the flat farmland to the east of the River Orne, south of Cabourg, amongst the villages of Sallenelles, Amfreville and Bavent.

The Allied Objective is to initially hold the defensive perimeter, and then push on to link up with the forces south of the Merville battery by capturing the hamlet of Gonneville-en-Auge. This will force the Germans back in to the waterlogged ground to the East and further strengthen the bridgehead's left flank.

The German Objective is the capture of Sallenelles and Amfreville, effectively driving the Allies back across the Orne. This would expose the flank of the Para's position around Ranville and the Orne bridges.

The campaign will be structured as follows:-

     1. Outposts (Patrol Scenario)
     2. This depends on the outcome of scenario 1.
         Allied win, Retreat! (Delaying Action Scenario) or German win, Flank Attack.
     3. Main Defences (Attack & Defend Scenario)
     4. Capture Key Objective (Attack on an Objective Scenario)

Game One
Dawn on June the 8th; as the Commandos 'stand to' the sentries spot movement in the trees ahead of them - fleeting glimpses of grey uniforms and camo smocks. Jerry is on the move!

This game used the Patrol scenario with the Commandos getting a 'free' set of entrenchments. They were dug in near the Hauger Château along the line of the Amfreville - Sallenelles road.

We set up our table with a typical Norman farm that would be the centre of the Commando position.

Introducing the Men
We are using the excellent Too Fat Lardies "At The Sharp End" supplement so one of the first things we had to do was roll up the background for our Officers and NCOs. This is superb fun and highly recommended!

Jenny's Commandos
  • Lieutenant Julian Ramsbotham - Eton, Oxford, Foreign Office then the army - a jolly good chap!
  • Senior Sergeant Willikins - A plain speaking giant of a man, and a mechanic from the East End.
  • Sergeant "Ink" Well - An office clerk from Newcastle.
  • Sergeant Fordham - A hefty farmer's son who knows how to fight.
Matt's Panzergrenadiers
  • Leutnant Ulrich Schneider - Hitler Jugend then Heer, a fanatical Nazi.
  • Unteroffizier Koch - A gangling former waiter in Berlin.
  • Unteroffizier Fischer - A farmer's son from Bavaria.
  • Unteroffizier Hoffman - A short but fiery inner city lad from Hamburg.
Doing this definitely adds a certain something to how you view the men in your force. They become so much more 'real'.

The Battlefield
Here's a couple of pictures of the quiet Normandy countryside.

The Commando JOP's are clearly visible behind/near the farm buildings. The German JOP's are either side of the road near the small cottage.

The Action
The Germans began the game as the attackers and took the first phase, bringing on a squad (Koch) behind the stone walls facing the farm complex. With no obvious target they went in to over-watch.

Over to the Commandos ... Jenny's first phase saw her bring on a well entrenched sub-section next to the farmhouse, plus a sniper near the well. Her command roll included a double six so the next phase is the Commandos.

What happened next is almost the stuff of gaming legend! She went on to have a total of SIX consecutive phases!!!! So, on came the 2" mortar to deploy (somewhat inaccurately) plenty of smoke and another sub-section took up position on the other side of the farm house. However, the Sniper seemed more interested in spotting local wildlife than shooting Jerry?!

Needless to say the lone German squad was absolutely shredded - 4 men dead, a wounded NCO, plus seven points of shock. As a game, it was all rather funny really.

Then the Germans got to have another phase. I had to bring on another squad (Fischer) along with a sniper. Alas, their shooting was somewhat less than accurate, so back to the Commandos ...

... and yet more almost legendary dice rolling from Jenny! This time it was a rather more modest FOUR consecutive turns. The remnant of Koch's squad broke and ran for it. The other squad took several casualties and some shock. Thankfully the Commando's sniper continued his survey on behalf of the RSPB.

So after 2 German phases and 10 Commando phases, it was back to the Germans... at this point I really should have withdrawn but a sudden rush of blood to the head saw me continue the fight by bringing on nearly everything I had left; Hoffman's squad and the Leutnant. The Panzershreck team sensibly kept their heads down!

The German shooting was not terribly effective (elite targets, beyond close range and in hard cover) so it was back to the Commandos.

Astonishingly... ;o) ...just the one phase this time. But that was enough to inflict a couple more kills and some shock, including a rather dead Unteroffizier Hoffman. So, in the next phase, I decided to withdraw my forces - this went rather more smoothly.

The result was an overwhelming victory for Commandos - much like the action for real. Only one Commando fell as opposed to eleven dead Germans including an NCO.

By putting this game in to the context of a campaign it becomes part of a wider historical story or narrative which just makes it all so much more meaningful, and jolly good fun too!

Post Game Phase
Well, Lord Lovat was simply delighted to hear the news of Lt. Ramsbotham's sterling leadership. It was a +1 for the CO's opinion. The men were rightly chuffed too, another +1 from them. Only one casualty and that was when Private Perkins fell awkwardly into a patch of nettles.

Alas, Schneider was not so popular back in the officer's mess! The CO took a very dim view at -2, the men were also rather dismayed, -4 (so -1 on Force Morale rolls). The NCO to take Hoffman's place is the newly promoted Unteroffizier Fuchs, but will his men accept him? He starts with just 1 command initiative and a 3" command radius.

The next game will see the retreating Germans trying to stem the Allied advance!


Phil said...

A great looking report, splendid terrain!

Shelldrake said...

Lovely scenery, fantastic looking minis and a cracking AAR. I look forward the next game in the campaign.

George Anderson said...

As always, brilliant stuff and great looking game. I hope you did something useful during all that time Jenny was playing the game :)

Paul Scrivens-Smith said...

Great stuff, we played a very satisfying At The Sharp End last year using our SCW forces.

When my opponent has a run like that I tend to use the time to take pictures.

Andy Duffell said...

I know exactly what it's like to be on the wrong end of multiple phases from some of the British elites. Phil has done it to me a couple of times in our current campaign. Gave me a right kicking in the most recent game of our Arnhem campaign.

Bedford said...

Excellent looking game!

Great scenery (love the telegraph pole!), great set up and nicely painted mini's!! what it's all about really.....

I still haven't played either CoC or Bolt Action!! I need to get out more!!


Stephen O'Leary said...

Very nice terrain, especially the buildings. What make are they?


Matt said...


Many thanks for the kind words, much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the report. Hopefully the next game will be on Saturday. I need to think carefully about how to re-organise my force with 8 men dead/injured, plus a new NCO.

@Stephen, the buildings are from our chum Colin. He's started up his own laser-cut MDF business. You can find him on ebay (his seller id is "colin#####" where ##### is a series of numbers – sorry I can’t be more precise). Or even better, you can email him via colin UNDERSCORE farrant AT hotmail DOT com, then he can point you at his stock. When his website goes live I'll be doing a little series of blog posts on his splendid buildings.
I have another farmhouse, an outside loo, some sheds, a brasserie, a boulangerie and a heap of fencing in the 'to do' pile. They're first class kits and his customer service is top notch – highly recommended!



Ron Carnegie said...

I thought some of those buildings looked like Charlie Foxtrots. I am a fan of Colin's buildings myself. I own six but plan on adding more!