Monday, 14 July 2014

Chain of Command Spa Campaign - Turn 1

We have started a Chain of Command campaign using a map covering the Belgium town of Spa.  This is a fictitious setup to include all players and their respective platoons.  This is the outcome of turn one.  The basic setup is the failed Ardennes offensive.

Allied victories 2

Axis victories 1

CO's Opinion
Men’s Opinion
Soviet Rifle Platoon
Armoured Rifle Platoon
British Infantry Platoon
Heer Grenadiers
SS Panzergrenadiers
Heer Panzergrenadiers


The German offensive through the Spa region caught the Allies by surprise.  Despite this unexpected attack both the Soviet and British units refitting in the region quickly organised themselves into a cohesive defence stalling the lead elements of the German Kampfgruppe with only the less experienced American units, facing veteran SS troops, being pushed back to their secondary line to organise a defence.  The Kampfgruppe leader was adamant that the advance should continue and that the others would break through imminently.

 Obersturmfuhrer Hassel looked across at the derelict farm building, deciding the area was clear of enemy he gave the signal for the platoon to advance.  As his men reached the edge of the wood line he spotted a British patrol crossing road and called for first and second squads to open fire; third squad continued to advance unseen along a sunken road toward the derelict building

They had been fighting for nearly two hours and had come close to taking the building and dominating the battlefield but the British were dogmatic in defence.  The order to withdraw came.  Losses had been higher than expected and Squad leader Torsten had been badly wound as he and his men attempted to assault the building; with half of the squad either dead or on their way to the field hospital.  It was Kagan Obermayer’s good leadership that had allowed them to withdraw in good order and the battered platoon pulled back to their lines.

The debriefing by battalion command left Walfred no doubt that the CO, and his men, expected better from him.  He promoted Karl Fischer to temporary leader of second squad while Torsten recovered.  He would look at reorganising the platoon once he knew his next mission.

 Corporal Williamson led his men in a dash across the road and at once he and his men came under fire. “Chalky copped it!” he heard behind him.  Leading men wasn’t sitting easily with Corporal Fraser Williamson and he needed to get some success behind him to win the confidence of his men.  Movement to his right, more Germans “INTO THE FARM!” he bellowed.  If he could get his section into the dilapidated building they would have some good cover and be able to return fire.

Sgt Dracott patted the shoulder of Private Coombs “put some smoke down on the road and cover Two Sections advance, there’s a good lad”.  Eager to comply Billy Coombs laid the 2” mortar and dropped the first round on target and called for another bomb from his oppo Private Terry ‘Tel’ Read.  “Nicely done Private Coombs, let’s have another like that” Sgt Dracott said.

Lieutenant Odhran Rynn marched about the battle as though he was on the parade ground at Sandhurst ignoring the rounds whipping through the air.  He barked orders and offered encouragement where needed.  His only real problem was Corporal Bexon and One Section.  They should have been by hedgerow at the road edge by now and putting fire into the woods opposite but he the section had gone to ground in the meadow and were taking fire from at least 2 German machine guns.

Corporal Billy Toon got his men moving as Lieutenant Rynn ordered; he directed the fire of the rifle team whilst the Bren shifted into a better position.  A German squad had been trying to outflank him but had run into fire from Fraser’s section in the house.  He could see enemy lying dead in the road.

“They’re pulling back, hold your fire” Lieutenant Rynn shouted towards the house.  Sgt Draycott and the platoon medic were running towards the meadow where One section was.

Obersturmfuhrer Albrecht Kaufmann‘s performance was exemplary in this, his first mission in the Operation Spa campaign. With reinforcements scarce, only the Company adjutant was available to bolster Kaufmann’s forces but from the intelligence received it was 'now or never' and I personally gave the 'go' for the mission into no man’s land. Having made contact with the enemy early on, it was clear that the American's were caught largely by surprise with an attack across the fields to the south of the area. The 12th then began to lay down some withering fire from two key positions, one with a clear line of sight down the main road through the hamlet and the other from a ruined house selected early on as a firebase. Caught largely in the open, the American HMG's were quickly dealt with and whilst the other squads proved resilient the loss of such a key unit was enough to make the Americans withdraw whilst the radio operator was still placing desperate calls for support from the rear to no avail. Our only loss was the brave Scharfurhrer Gunther from the first squad although Kaufmann’s battlefield re-organisation decisions as well as the overall outcome of the battle have increased my opinion of him with such a popular man in Klaus Ackermann being promoted from the ranks to lead 2nd squad increasing the overall morale of the men

Lt. Richard ‘Dick’ Porter was cursing, his squads had got separated as they moved through the woods, the ground was boggy and tactical movement difficult.   

The ambush had been sudden and violent 5 men from Sgt Bernard Matthews’s squad were hit and down in the first few seconds.  The remaining men were struggling to get any return fire and the other squads were disorganised and fragmented.

There had been complaints about taking the two .50 cals machine guns on patrol but now the reassuringly hard percussion of the heavy calibre guns was the only thing keeping the Germans from over running their position.

As Lt. Porter withdrew from the battlefield he was dismayed to see how many men were missing or calling for the Corpsman! It was too late for Sgt Bernard Matthews he had bought the farm! 
The CO was understated in his debriefing but it was clear he had not been fully in command of his men and failed to make use of the battalion support.  Lt. Porter needed to decide on a replacement squad leader.

Leytenant Vasily Stanislov started his patrol in good spirits; he had found a cache of Belgian beer at the last abandoned farm house and was looking forward to sharing it with his squad leaders at the end of the patrol.  His reverie was shattered as the unmistakable sound of a German MG ripped through the valley floor.  His forward most squad was pinned down in the small copse to the right but Mladshiy Serzhant Yulian Pasternak had been showing signs of battle fatigue lately and might just have lost the conviction to get involved.  He gripped the Makarov tightly; he would have to speak to Yulian later if they both lived through the morning.
Vasily called for Serzhant Kirill Utkin and ordered him back down the track towards their lines.  They had just passed a group of tankers who were getting ready to move out the next day.

Yuri ordered High Explosive to be loaded and cranked the turret traverse of the KV-1 to the right; the acrid smoke of the previous rounds swirling in the turret and out the open hatches but still making the crew cough and their eyes stream, the order to fire never came, through the periscope it was clear the enemy had pulled back.
The CO was impressed with his performance and Vasily was rewarded with a bottle of vodka, Polish but better than nothing, this he would not be sharing with his men.

The Soviet bullets were all around Gerhard’s head, but the relative safety of the trees gave him the false confidence he needed to continuously pop his head up and unleash another round or two back across the grassland into the advancing enemy, who also like him and his fellow Germans had the cover of the coniferous woodland.

The ground began to shake, and Gerhard’s heart sunk. As the ominous sound of Soviet armour rumbled from the distance and slowly came into view.

“Take that beast out” screamed the squad’s Junior Leader and his attached Panzerschrek team raced through the scattered men and took aim as the oncoming behemoth’s turret began to turn towards their position.

BOOM!!, as the tanks shell landed amongst the Germans, rocket after rocket zipped off in the direction of the Soviet tank, but all of them either fell short or flew past its hulking hull, causing nothing but light burn marks to the paint work.

BOOM! another shell hit its target, German bodies and pieces of tree flying everywhere.

“What now?” screamed Gerhard, “What are we doing, what should we do?”

No answer; Gerhard looked around, hunting, searching for his team leader, waiting for an order.

“What now?

Then an unwanted face appeared in his vision, the bloody, burnt face of his Junior Leader, his body ripped to shreds, presumably from the final explosion that caused so much damage, had taken his life.

“Fall back, fall back” screamed Gerhard, the sudden realisation that no one else was going to give the order forcing him to take charge.

The remnants of his squad metres behind him, Gerhard and his squad disappeared into the safety of the trees, hoping that his fellow Germans were having much more luck against the Soviets.

Gerhard Schrieken Age: 21 promoted to Obergefreiter

A former track star in his native Germany, he only joined the army because all three of his fellow 4x100m running team had decided to do so. Not overly confidant he tended to end up in places he didn’t want to be, purely because of peer pressure. Little did he know that after such a short time at the front line he would be given command of a squad of riflemen, due to the untimely death of his Junior Leader, the former 4th leg man of his relay team. For once it wasn’t him handing the baton to his friend but his former friend handing the baton to him.


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