J43 - 3rd RTR in the Rain

A classic! And excluding Commando Schenke will be my most played scenario with this being my 3rd playing.
In 1940 the allies were in a bit of a flunk. Seeing the way things were going the War Office ordered reinforcements sent to the various Channel Ports (keeping lines of retreat open) and to  Calais went a mixed force of the 3rd RTR (Lt_Col Keller) , the 1st Battalion Queens Victoria Rifles (Lt-Col Ellison-Macartney – a Territorial motor-cycle battalion) the 229th Anti-tank Brigade and the 30th motor Brigade (an elite unit consisting of the 1st Btn the Rifles and the 2nd Btn King’s Royal Rifle Corps). The transfer by sea was not particuarly well organised with ammunition and weaponry being very short. The RTR’s tanks even arrived with the guns having been seperately loaded and coated in preservative (not jam) this then had to be cleaned off and the tanks re-assembled before use.
Over the period of the 23rd May to the 26th May the 3rd RTR pushed out several reconnaisances in force which had varying success – especially when it met German anti-tank formations and their heavier tanks and the unit was bloodied losing no less than 7-12 tanks on the 23rd.
Though it must have felt in-effective the fierce resistance in Calais diverted no less than three Panzer divisions from attacking the 1st French Army and the BEF and even though resistance was short this allowed the BEF to block the approaches to Dunkirk (the day after Calais surrendered the evacuation from Dunkirk started). It should be noted that Guderian denied this was the case and stated that though the defence of Calais was heroic it had made no difference to the course of events at Dunkirk. In this you probably have to decide yourselves.
My oppo decided to take the Germans and setup with a ‘wood heavy’ flank cover approach with minimal units in the village itself. This was surprisingly problematic to think around. At its base this scenario has four key threads that need considering. The first is the mist caused by the endless rain. Movement is much easier due to the +1 from mist between 1-6 hexes and +2 beyond. Therefore sitting and peppering your opponent is unlikely to have a huge effect (lucky dice notwithstanding). The second is that the start points are organised such that everyone can arrive at the edge of the village by their second turn.  The third is that the lower stone wall tends to be the key defensive position. Whoever can get their tanks hull down behind that wall has a much better chance of winning (my last play was as Germans in this and I managed that and it did help big time).
Now the Germans seem to be organising to use a firelane up the muddy field and using the woods to prevent the British tanks gaining that wall.
This means they are very limited in the village itself with just two squads what I guess is a light machine gun and probably the 9-1 officer. Though the shot would not be that effective the firelane itself would presumably ignore the mist hindrance. I don’t think there is to much to worry about as my wood troops will be pushing hard at that point so reducing available machine guns though with this we shall see.
Therefore I intend to send the majority of my forces rushing into the woods in turn one then pushing hard turn two to disrupt those forces to allow my tanks at the wall. Up North four squads and the 8-0 will be responsible for checking N0 ( a popular 37L site). The officer will keep in the trees to hopefully rally any troops rushing back.  For no good reason at all I have decided my forces represent a company of infantry in three platoons and a squadron of the 3rd.
The 3rd Platoon will be responsible for seizing the village, supported by some elements of the 1st’s heavy weapons. The 1st and 2nd will look to take the wood line.
Where the PAK is is key. I suspect it is in N0. The concealed squad is to prevent half squad bump scouting. Why here? well unless the ATR is in the building on the 1st floor (which would be a waste of an officer) then it must be near the wall and if the ATR is near the wall WITH the PAK then there would be no anti-tank in the village itself.
Hmm. If it turns out that I am wrong and the PAK is in the woods (or elsewhere) then I shall probably rush the village wall with my (probably at that point) remaining tanks.  (Haha I am so wrong with these guesses)
End of British Turn One, bar the dm of the unit aiming to scout C6 things weren’t so bad
The Early Turns
The game started well ish. My lads pushed forward and bar a couple of breaks (one in the muddy field and another in the wood) I was fairly happy with the way things had started. The German squad in N0 bugged out on his turn to get away from the mortar acquisition so I was (almost) certain that hex was clear of the AT gun. I would still push a squad in to be sure. Turn two things started to go arse up. The AT gun revealed itself in the wooden building at O6 and promptly rated and blew up one of my A9’s (German rating was going to be a major issue). Since I now knew where it was I pushed the armoured car past it generating another shot – that missed due to the CA change in a building my returning bounding fire shot (inconclusive as all my bounding fire shots were) was expected then finally the PAK intensive fired at another British tank and with box cars broke irreparably (a relief). This did not help elsewhere as another squad broke down and ELRd in the woods and I casualty reduced in the field as well.
Things were balanced either way at this point. The Germans were hardly hurt but the Brits were now well placed to go hull down behind the wall and prevent the wooded Germans from reinforcing the village. Unfortunately they rapidly unbalanced. One of my hull down tanks by the wall took a shot then was hit with an intensive fire crit (which essentially ignores the hull down) and exploded. In the north my other light tank merrily acquired one of the Panzer IIIs and was then hit by a 3 on a bounding fire shot…and exploded (tanks moving around buttoned up in mist should not be this effective). I did have a couple of counters – my mortar managed a crit of its own then also snake eyed the resultant wound roll (woohoo) pulverising the German 9-1, 4-6-8 and lmg in the center. I also took a 20 up 2 shot and broke the German with the ATR who I then captured. Elsewhere I threw a half squad into combat with the last full pinned German squad in the village and a cxd squad plus 9-1 leader against the pak crew. Both combats lasted multiple rounds with me eventually losing (not helped by my other squad being broken by the Panzer IIIs machine gun trying to seize a building before joining the melee, in retrospect I should have just gone into the melee and took the building if I won)
My problem now was that I was down to two tanks and the next German turn soon removed those. My last light was taken out by another low roll after turret ca change and then the Panzer IV went on a rate spree with HE ammo (it had lost AP first shot of the game) rolling repeatedly seven and below the coloured dice repeatedly stayed at 1 or 2 so that all the shots were turret hits (needed for the hull down). Due to the lower potency of HE the armoured car survived that only to be snake eyed by the other Panzer III. That left the open ground between the wood and the village unprotected and the Germans in the wood all merrily sprinted up to occupy the previously undefended village. Bollards…
No tanks left and the Germans have scuttled to the village. ‘Struggle’ meet ‘Uphill’
We stopped here for the week with the British facing an uphill challenge to win the game but stranger things have happened. Though I was possibly unlucky to lose all my tanks (a couple were probably bad play on my part and good play on my opponents) at least two were due to bad luck and would have made things more balanced moving into the end game. It still is awfully good fun to play around with early war tanks and (hopefully) the more I play them the more confident I will be.
The game restart was not favourable. My die were high and my opponents consistently four. This is not helpful…. He also pulled out a rule allowing his stopped tank in melee to shoot at my squad in melee at triple point blank range so a 20 plus 1 came my way breaking the officer and killing the squad. Up in the East the Panzer IV drove up to my two broken squads to DM them then turned around and trundled to the middle of the village. This actually turned out to be helpful.
Lots of Germans and very few buildings taken. A horrible British turn made things even more difficult
Anyway my bad luck continued with a three morale pass on my part naturally causing his sniper to break the crew guarding the prisoners who equally naturally passed their task check to attack and kill the guards. In the next german turn my bad dice continued though my oppos started to briefly look like mine as he broke two main armaments and a cmg.
It was getting close to the final push and I needed to be very aggressive – In my defensive fire I managed to cause two NMCs on R5 which he passed on all concerned (key saves these, I know they were morale 8 troops but one could have been a fail, that would have been nice)
When it came to my final turn I hit two useful rallies with both the crew and 1st line squad in the East rallying ( the Panzer IV should probably have stayed next door and destroyed them for failure to rout). So it became ‘hail mary’ time. I ran the crew across the muddy field where it took a 4 down 1 then a 2 down 1 and passed both so was able to seize U5. Then  full squad then seized W3 fairly easily (I should have done those the other way around)
I then advanced one squad to Q6 where it broke on an NMC (could really have done with a pass here). My other squad moved to R6 soaked up a 4 down 1 then seized S6 and the Germans next door final protective fired and pinned themselves.
My final ‘shenanigans’ were moving the 7-0 officer next to S4 looking for a 1-4 hail mary
Unfortunately (…) the final combats were less than spectacular the officer was rather unsurprisingly killed and though I ambushed the pinned squad I could only manage a casaulty reduction which just wounded the officer to a 6+1 (not even the damned squad)
I now only had five buildings at this point but if I won that last combat would have six so the last german turn was relevant.
Initially the german squad in S4 tried to dash into the empty S6 building but was pinned by the full squad in W3 in the street. The squad and officer in P2 advanced under the tank in P3 where I managed to pin the squad. Finally the officer in P3 obviously impressed by my lone officers heroics went into combat in Q4 on his own.
Next the escaped prisoners advanced onto my half squad and the Panzer IV  moved into the building in R6 (we could not decide if it being in bypass and stopped it would ‘hold’ the hex if i won the combat. Anyway it passed the bog roll by 1. ) {The boys on game squad decided that the if the British won the melee and wiped all the defenders then they would gain control of the building but not the hex so driving the Panzer into the building and stopping was the correct thing to do}
The first combat has rolled into a melee with a weak British ambush doing bugger all. The other two combats
would result in a British win and eveyrone getting killed.
Anyway in a repeat of my hail mary combat the lonely german officer was killed and thus I retained Q4; the conscript germans and my defenders all died in a mexican standoof in Q6 thus I retained that; the crew in U5 managed to hold of a bypassing panzer III (which just had a bmg so was not especially scary) so it all came down to the R5 melee. As it stands I had no way of killing that tank and the squad but
we ran the combat anyway. I failed to kill the squad+officer and his squad plus officer failed to kill me. The tank though blew me to pieces retaining the building in some style for the germans.
So the end result was five buildings taken and a British loss.
End placements of a hard fought little battle
I was surprised how close i managed to get it at the end but sometimes the hail mary attacks do work, I would usually prefer not to be the one launching them though.  My biggest problem was losing all my tanks earlier on. Three were destroyed essentially to being outplayed with two  being extremely bad luck. Losing two tanks to snap bounding fire shots is not particualrly common (well not US gyrostabalized ones). Plus the wall ended up being no help at all due to the stunning propensity of the opposing coloured dice to roll a one (the second week it switched and the white dice rolled most of the common ones) so all hits were turrets and even the one
which was a hull was a critical hit so ended up a turret hit anyway.
Even without this a little luck on the NMCs on R5 could have made all the difference and made the last german half turn a little more urgent
Still a great little scenario as ever and no doubt I will play this one again..


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