For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I turned once more to the ASL Journal 12 and selected J183 A Real Barn Burner. And truth be told...I would feel a bit scorched myself at the end of this awesome scenario. Lionel Colin created this gem and Dan and I both would find it to be exactly as described.. A Real Barn Burner!!!
I have always been interested in the 1940 battles for France. So I was looking forward to this particular scenario. The victory conditions were also a bit different, which as I have noted before has been a staple for Journal 12 scenarios.
The French would be tasked with controlling Building 43M7 at the game end, but could only win if at least one Squad from the French relief force was unbroken in the building at game end. Very interesting...
The scenario itself takes place on May 31st, 1940 at the Bois-Du-Seuil Farm near Amagne, France.
A typical street view of Amagne, France.
Dan and I rolled for sides and I ended up with the Germans and would be the scenario defender. Dan would be the French and would be our scenario attacker.
My German force would grenadiers of the Infanterie-Regiment 184 of Infanterie-Division 86. I wold have 9 x 4-6-7's, a 2-4-8, with HMG, 2 X LMG's, and an ATR lead by a 9-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with a 37L AT Gun for support.
The French would be members of the 35 eme regiment d'infanterie, 14 eme division d'infanterie.
Dan's French force would be in two parts. Inside the Bois-Du-Seuil Farm would be a platoon led by Lt. Gehin. Gehin, a 9-1, would be tasked with holding the farm with 2 x 4-5-8's, a 2-4-8 and 2 x LMG's. Oh...an 8 Dummy counters, which would confound my Germans at various points in the scenario.
A relief force of 10 x 4-5-7's, with an MMG, LMG and 6cm mortar would be led by an 8-1 and an 8-0. Both officers would be killed by Boxcars on a Rally DR.
Boxcars would plague Dan's efforts throughout the evening.
The northern circle shows the position of Lt. Gehin and his platoon. The setup for this scenario had Dan placing Gehin's platoon first, then I placed my Germans, and finally Dan placed his relief force which is in the southern circle.
The Relief force set up and ready to roll.
My setup was designed to #1 stop the relief force and #2 take the Bois-Du-Seuil Farm. I had 6 squads with the 8-0 surrounding the farm. In the center woods I placed my 9-1, MMG and 3-1/2 squads along with the 37L AT Gun.
Although, I was happy with my defense. I would certainly take a different approach, were I to play this scenario again.
With memories of Belgian Blitzkrieg still fresh in my mind...I knew that Dan would come at me hard with his relief force. As the first half-squad appeared, I set up two fire lanes, which Dan elected not to chance. As a result his forces fanned out along the woods line.
Dan's relief force was arrayed before my defenders with the 6cm mortar as the anchor support in the center. But wait...one 4-5-7 was running through the woods towards a road...just what were they up to...I wondered...
Dan's mortar had rained some shells down on me...but then the dreaded boxcars appeared. The mortar would done for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, I engaged in deploying squads. I was relying on half-squads to stretch my line and hold of the French.
In the north, I swept around the stone wall and jumped in CC with the ground floor Frenchmen.
Dan would get the ambush and waste my grenadiers.
I would learn the hard way that Lt. Gehin was not to be trifled with.
And now for Dan's second charge! The French rushed from the woodline with my 9-1 as the object of their affection!!! My half-squads would open up and stagger the charge.
Dan's boys didn't lack for courage crossing that open ground.
Two of the 4-5-7's survived the charge intact. One jumped into CC with my 9-1, while the other fell back to N10 rather than hang out in the open. My half-squads had held the line.
The circles show where my boys were concentrated. Dan's flanking movement on the west was coming together, while his boys in the south center were reforming for the next assault. At the farm, my boys were moving cautiously around the wall and looking for entry points.
One of the bigger moves for me involved my 4-6-7 with an LMG moving out of L5 foxhole and into the street. Oh and right in front of Dan's relief force 8-1 with the MMG. I had two objectives in making the move.#1 I needed to put more pressure on the farm and #2 I needed to draw fire away from my boys in Q3, who were literally holding the entire flank of the German position.
Dan's 8-1 would carefully decide how to respond to my move and he would ultimately fire on me.
Back at the Farm, I had once again sent boys into close combat with Gehin and his men in O8. And once again Gehin would gain the ambush and kill my grenadiers.
I would not threaten Gehin and his platoon again. They were simply too much for me.
Back on the west flank, the single 4-5-7 had moved into view. It's intent was no clear to all...this squad had the ball and they were headed to the Farm!!!
Would I be able to stop them???
I had stopped Dan's relief force...but the single 4-5-7 had made it around the flank and into the wheat field. I had my 37L AT gun gain acquisition on a probable hex that the 4-5-7 would traverse. I then focused my fire on Dan's 8-1 with the MMG. I needed to eliminate it to open up the road and allow my men to stop the 4-5-7.
In the ensuing fire, Dan's 8-1 would break and then in a subsequent fire roll boxcars and then the dreaded 6. He would join the 8-0 who had died a similar death only turns before. Dan had suffered terribly from boxcars. His mortar gone, two officers KIA'd and two LMG breaks. It was overwhelming misfortune in so short a game.
With the French relief force now completely mission-killed, I had to focus on the one 4-5-7 whose flanking maneuver had been made possible by so much French sacrifice.
Turn 5...and Dan's last chance for a miracle victory. I had no more moves left. I could only watch and wait. Dan's Poilus opened fire on me. And I watched as the dominoes fell. I missed every single morale check. My entire line along with my AT Gun had been shattered. Dan had smashed my glass jaw. The way was open.
I have always suffered a bit from unlucky dice rolls...but I found it hard to complain after watching Dan's boys be nearly crippled by boxcars. But I knew now...that all my efforts were about to go for naught. Dan's 4-5-7 had the movement to win the game. And I had but two 4-6-7's who would have a shot at him.
Lt. Gehin's fire from the farm had succeeded in pinning my 8-0 who was with one of the two 4-6-7's covering the approach tot he farm. His sole purpose was to keep my boys from cowering...and now he was pinned.
The 4-5-7 charged ahead through the field. Death or Glory...My first 4-6-7 in M6 fired, but to no avail. It was up to my 4-6-7 in P9. They fired...and rolled 2 fives. They had cowered and there would no subsequent fire. Dan had his March Miracle!
I could only look on in disbelief.
On the other end of the Skype line Dan was understandably jubilant. He had suffered a lot in this scenario and had willed himself to a victory. And it was a classic ASL moment...the kind we blog about!
Congrats to Dan on a terrific win.
While Dan celebrated an exciting win...my Germans could only ponder what might have been...