For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected Scenario FT102-The Bulge, from the Le Franc Tireur "From the Cellar" Pack 3. I purchased this pack at the 2013 Texas Team Tournament. This would be my first opportunity to play something from this great scenario pack. And I am hoping to play a couple more from this pack yet this year. The scenario designer is Laurent Closier and this would be my first time playing one of his designs.
I selected the title picture of a bunch of haggard dog faced US infantry to reflect the tough situation the green men of the 331st Infantry Regiment found themselves in as Kampfgruppe Ulrich launched vicious counter-attacks against them.
I drew the Americans and would be the scenario defender. I would command elements of the 331st Infantry Regiment of the 83rd "Thunderbolt" Division. My force would consist of 8 x 5-4-6's, with an MMG and a 76L AT Gun lead by 2 x 8-0's. Not exactly a stellar OB when facing SS Grenadiers. But the green boys of the 331st would do good service for me in this scenario.
There are some great internet resources for learning more about the 83rd Infantry Division...all of which are well worth your time.
"NO MISSION TO DIFFICULT.
NO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT.
As the Scenario Attacker, Dan would command elements of Kampfgruppe Ulrich, SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment 37 of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Gotz von Berlichingen". The SS unit would figure prominently in the American sector of the Normandy Campaign. Dan's forces would be made up of 4 x 6-5-8's, 5 x 5-4-8's with 2 x Stug III's, 2 x LMG's, and led by a 9-1, 8-1, 8-0 and 8-1 armor leader.
This division has an excellent photo history by Jean-Claude Perrigault and Rolf Meister and available from HEIMDAL publishing.
The 17th SS would confront the American forces from Normandy to the Vosges.
In honor of the 83rd Division, 331st Infantry Regiment's most notable photographer, Tony Vaccaro, this AAR's pictures are credited to this American Veteran.
In 2002, while in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I found and purchased a copy of Tony Vaccaro's excellent photo history, Entering Germany 1944-1949. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
And HBO is still airing the documentary, UNDERFIRE: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro. It will move you...believe me.
Mr. Vaccaro...this AAR is for you Sir.
A view of my setup on my new desk in my new office in Quincy, Illinois. This would be my first game since officially moving into my new home. I won't lie...I am missing Tulsa...my son and my daughter who for the first time in my life did not accompany me and my wife. Perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done.
My setup was designed to create a killing ground in the center of the map. Keep in mind that all woods are MARSH. With this in mind, I placed one 8-0 with MMG in the easternmost house with marsh all around him. The location seemed perfect for keeping the Germans away and giving the MMG the most opportunity to enfilade the attacking Germans. It worked in theory...but in practice was less effective than I had hoped.
The stars indicated the various building hexes that could be controlled for victory locations by the Germans. Dan would win at the end of any turn in which he controlled Seven or more of the Victory Locations.
My boys would be ready!
Per SSR, my forces could not setup concealed and only 2 x MMC's per hex row. Only the AT Gun would be HIP. I set up 2 x half-squads up front to be a delaying force, which the bulk of my men concentrated in the village.
Dan's boys would enter the board in a Schwerpunkt through the gap between the marsh hexes.
Dan's Grenadiers would eliminate one Half-Squad and capture the other. These men would fall later in the fight, when my boys were forced to fire at the German squad controlling them.
Even as my delaying force was overcome...my Sniper would achieve a solid kill. The German 9-1 would fall KIA'd by the Sniper and the men with him would fail their LLMC.
Nice shooting Pfc. McCrae!!!
As per my normal ASL operating procedures...I didn't fire my AT Gun in defensive fire. I was too worried about the SS Grenadiers Advancing fire, which ate up my half-squads. So in Prep Fire I fired at the Stugs, which had stopped. Fortunately, I took out one of the Stugs.
Of course the remaining Stug did fire back...but missed...
In his next Prep Fire, Dan's remaining Stug smoked my AT Gun.
I know...I couldn't resist...
Dan's Grenadiers began moving forward. Dan knew the risks, but had no choice. There wasn't much cover to be had.
My boys opened up, but Dan's boys were able to get into position without too much difficulty.
I was flexing my muscles...but my shots weren't delivering the results...
But then my smoke shrouded AT fired at the last remaining Stug...hit it and knocked it out. Pretty amazing shot.
Meanwhile, Dan's Grenadiers took control of their first building location.
With his armor support eliminated, Dan's Grenadiers had to sweep forward and brave the fire of my boys.
For the most part, Dan's Grenadiers were able to move forward with minimal breaks and losses.
With his Grenadiers in position, Dan sent them into Close Combat with my 5-4-6's.
At the half-way point in the scenario, Dan had taken three victory locations.
Dan's 8-0 surveyed the field to ID the next locations to go after. He needed 4 more for the win.
The circled location showed what was perhaps the most important turning point in the scenario. Dan had managed to enter the main building,which was the linchpin of my defense and which I had failed to put enough men in to effectively hold it. The SS 6-5-8 would go on to secure the entire building and would be the key to victory for Dan.
Other than the break-through in the middle, my lines were holding to the east and west.
My 5-4-6's had managed to do a fairly decent job.
The clock was ticking on Dan's opportunity to take more building locations and his forces had suffered more than a few breaks. Things were looking good for my Americans.
My optimism would soon enough be replaced with resignation.
Dan's success with the 6-5-8 in the middle continued. They shrugged off all the fire I sent their way and would take two more Victory Locations. Dan had 5. 2 more and he'd have the win.
Just as things began to look bleak for my defense...I had would roll two Morale Check snake-eyes and create two Heroes!
My 8-0 on the first floor of the main building would be KIA'd in close combat. Dan's Grenadiers had stopped taking prisoners.
Now as Turn 5 neared its end, I had managed to break the 6-5-8 that had broken through the middle. I tried to cut off his rout paths, but the 3-4-8 on the first floor of the main building managed to wound a Hero and DM a squad. This meant that Dan's 6-5-8 could rout towards the building hexes to the north. If his squad could self-rally in the next rally phase...he would be able to secure the building and the win. Of course it would be pretty tough for a DM'd squad...even an SS 6-5-8 to successfully self-rally....right...!?!
Turn 6 and the final Rally Phase...Dan's 6-5-8 rolls for self-rally and it's a snake eyes....unbelievable!!!
Yep...that's just happened...
The final shot of the game as Dan's 6-5-8 self-rallied and created an 8-0 to join in the victory celebration. A miracle win for Dan and his Grenadiers!!!
Yes it was!!!
My thanks to Dan for another classic game of ASL....down to the wire with a incredible roll of the dice to win it all...