This was the first outing for my early war French Armoured Division. It was a meeting engagement against a fast-advancing German Panzer Division, though the French had motorised infantry whereas the Germans didn’t. As the French had 4 Char Bs in their force, Tom naturally plumped to command them – they were accompanied by some H39s, a Panhard armoured car, a squad of motorcycle infantry, a 45mm AT gun on a truck portee and a platoon of motorised infantry in Lorraine carriers. The Germans had 6 Pz38, 3 Panzer II and a Panzer IV along with some SP artillery, a 222 armoured car and a Panzerjager I – their platoon of infantry was on foot, though the supporting infantry gun and anti-tank gun were being towed.
A fun game ensued, spiced up as usual by the morale counter draws. Just as a French infantry squad were about to assault a house containing a German squad, I lost my 222 armoured car and drew an out of ammo counter, which I played on the infantry preparing to assault. It turned out (die roll) that they had only enough ammo for one more turn of shooting which became their assault, but they failed to wipe out the Germans, leaving them facing a pinned LMG with no ammo and no supply trucks. Revenge was had later on when the French drew an out of ammo counter which was played on another German squad in another house in the contested village – they rolled to be immediately out of ammo, so rather than being overrun and giving an easy morale counter (I was close to my breakpoint at this time), they retreated into an adjoining wood. Next turn the supply source they were withdrawing towards was destroyed by mortar fire, then the wood was well and truly sprayed with fire by every available French unit and the out of ammo squad was wiped out, along with their Platoon HQ who were also cowering in the wood – the 2 counters drawn took the Germans over their breakpoint of 52.
My Pz38s fared predictably badly against the Char Bs – my most effective anti-tank weapons were actually the 2 sIG 33 mounted on a Pz I chassis. In the end, one Char B was abandoned by its crew after a barrage of direct fire HE, with another destroyed on a lucky roll of 12. In my attempt to get round the back of 2 Char Bs, I exposed my side armour to a 47mm ATG mounted on a truck and paid the price with a destroyed tank or two. Luckily I had supported them with a PzII so the truck got sprayed by auto cannon fire and destroyed.
Only one Pz38 survived long enough to run out of ammo and get back to the supply Pz I and reload, but when the ammo carrier was destroyed by mortar fire the game was up, as the self-propelled artillery could no longer be re-supplied. I ended the game with my Pz38 and Panzerjager I too afraid to emerge from cover while the French infantry mopped up as described above.
We had several rules questions, basically in areas we had not played out before – close assault and re-supply. The close assault question was what the attackers did if they won an assault on a house but did not wipe out the enemy. As the assault unit had clearly won, we allowed them to gain a foothold in the house and benefit from its cover, whereas during the assault they had no benefit from cover – I’ve struggled to find any clarification of this on the rules forum, but it seems to make sense so that’s the way we’ll play it from now on. We also played that only one unit could be re-supplied per turn and that the unit being suppled could not do anything else that turn. Looking at the rules forum, we played both of these wrong – the supply unit can re-supply all units near it and then these units can perform their normal orders this turn.
Next stop – the Ardennes in 1944 I think, as the excellent “Battlegroup Wacht am Rhein” is out – can’t wait.