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Bolt Action - The Advance On Carentan
Normandy June 1944
The advance on Carentan

Background Information.

The Allies have cleared the beaches and, after the confusion of the first two days fighting, have at last began co-ordinating their attacks aimed at breaking out into the open countryside of Normandy. Units of American paratroopers still hold a number of isolated villages and positions across the region and although most have been re-supplied or reinforced by further air and glider drops, their position remains perilous, especially as the German High Command are steadily reorganizing after the shock of the invasion. Allied Intelligence reports indicate the arrival of the leading elements of several Panzer Divisions in the region and everyone (on both sides) anticipate the imminent arrival of German Panzers at any moment as the Fuhrer has ordered the Allied landing to be driven back into the sea...

The village of St Come-du-Mont, on the road from the coast to the strategically important town of Carentan, has been occupied by a unit of the American 101st Airborne Division since D-Day. Though secure for the moment, the Americans are well aware that they are surrounded by enemy forces and have been unable to make any headway along the road either towards the beaches or Carentan. Allied HQ has ordered them to hold their position at all costs whilst an armoured strike along the beach road breaks through to relieve them.

Orders have gone out to the American 1st Infantry Division to prioritise an advance from the beaches along the Carentan road and relieve the 101st garrison in St Come-du-Mont as soon as possible. They will be supported by the 743rd Tank Battalion. Allied HQ (justly) fears the reorganized Germans will appreciate the defensive potential of St Come-du-Mont against the coming Allied advance on Carentan. Should the Germans retake the village then the attack against Carentan will undoubtedly be both more difficult and costly.

The view from the German side has changed rapidly over the last 12 hours. The initial shock of the invasion caused massive widespread disruption to their command system and the fighting had degenerated into a series of uncoordinated local actions, totally beyond the control of German High Command. However, as the initial shock has worn off many units (or their remnants) have re-established contact with higher command and this, combined with the arrival of elements of the reserve Panzer Divisions, has allowed German High Command (West) to begin planning a counter-offensive. Although the Panzer Divisions have not yet arrived in sufficient strength to mount a full scale counter-attack, it is important to use those available to disrupt the Allied advance. With this in mind, elements of the 12th Panzer Division have been ordered to move out of Carantan and advance to re-capture St Come-du-Mont forthwith.

The village is currently surrounded by the 9th and 10th Companies of the 1058th Grenadier Infantry Regiment. The 2nd Platoon of 9th Company has taken up a defensive position at a farmhouse just north of the village, controlling the road to the beaches where the Allies have landed. They have held this position for 2 days and may be assumed to have improved its defences as best they could.

The Scenario:
On the morning of 9th June, 1944, a platoon strength unit of the American 101st has dug-in at St Come-du-Mont whilst a similar formation of German infantry have occupied the farmhouse just outside the village, cutting its links to the coast. From that direction a company of Allied infantry, with tank support, is advancing with the intention of breaking through to join the American paratroopers in St Come-du-Mont. At virtually the same time, a company of Panzer Grenadiers from the 12th Panzer Division, supported by a platoon of Stug assault guns, are advancing on St Comt-du-Mont with the express intention of returning it to German control by eradicating (one way or another!) its American garrison.

Set-Up:
The Germans Grenadiers and the American paratroopers are placed on table within the designated areas of the farm and village respectively. Any of these units may be declared as 'Hidden' and marked as such (see Hidden Set Up page 117).

The American 1st Division infantry and German Panzer Grenadier forces are now deployed anywhere within 12" of their table edge. Forward Observers and Snipers may be positioned as per rules (page 118).

When all troops are placed on table, the Americans gain a Preparatory Bombardment (see page 118) against the Grenadiers defending the farmhouse area. This represents the fire support available from naval guns. The Germans also gain a Preparatory Bombardment against the paratroopers. However, they are only able to nominate a number of target units equal to the total of 2 D6 to reflect the uncertainty of ammunition supply to the German guns.

Victory conditions:
Each side receives Victory Points (VP's) as follows –

Each enemy armoured unit destroyed 3 VP's
Each enemy armoured unit damaged 1 VP
Each enemy infantry squad destroyed 2 VP's
Each enemy infantry squad that's lost over half strength 1 VP
Other enemy unit destroyed 1 VP

Result:

Medal of Honour/ - You win by 6 VP's and you control the village.
Iron Cross
Promotion - You win by 3 VP's and you control the village.

Failure - The enemy score more VP's OR control the village.

Humiliation - The enemy score more VP's AND control the village.

Controlling the village of St Come-du-Mont:
To 'control' the village a player must occupy at least 2 of the buildings and not have any enemy units occupying any others. If both sides occupy buildings then neither controls the village.

The Game.

The Battle for St Come-du-Mont
9th June 1944.

The day dawned brightly and, with Allied airpower dominant over Normandy, the clear,blue skies proved darkly ominous for the Germans.

At the farm owned by the Artois family, the 2nd Platoon, 9th Company, 1058th Grenadier Infantry Regiment had prepared their defences as best they could. Infantry squads had occupied strong positions behind stone walls on each flank of the farmhouse, whilst a MG42 had been set up behind an improvised barricade across the road. Behind the hedgerow opposite this position, an 81mm mortar was located with its observer in the attic of the farmhouse, accompanied by the platoon sniper team. A little way forward, and again concealed in the hedgerow, lay the potentially deadly Panzerschreck team. Lt Meyer glanced nervously around his command. Though content he could do no more with the resources to hand, he was realistic of what may happen when the enemy arrived in force.

Meanwhile, in the village of St Come-du-Mont, Lt Brown of the 101st Airborne had occupied the buildings along the road with his men. Any enemy advancing down the road would receive a warm welcome. Others were well dug-in to cover the approaches across the fields but he was more than a little concerned about the amount of ammunition his men had after two days of skirmishing with the enemy. He had passed on the message from HQ that the 1st Infantry division would be advancing to relieve them this morning and this had brightened the outlook of his small command. However, the distinct rumbling of engines and tracked vehicles from the direction of Carentan during the early hours clearly forewarned him that it was not only American armour that would be busy today.



Behind a makeshift roadblock, a unit from the 101st airborne prepare to defend the village.



As Meyers sentries alerted him to the fact that enemy tanks and infantry were advancing from the direction of the beaches, he was startled by the deafening crashes of heavy artillery shells landing around and on his position. All his men could do was huddle to the ground and pray as shells from the American navy pounded the area of the farm. After a few minutes the pounding ceased but not before most of his men had been badly shaken by the experience. Despite the intensity of fire, the only permanent damage was the hit on the farmhouse that had killed the mortar observer and one of the sniper team.

At almost the same time, the men of the 101st were suffering a similar if somewhat briefer experience. At first Brown thought his position had been hit by overshoots from the naval bombardment but he quickly realised the shells were much lighter than those hitting the farm and that they were coming from the Carentan direction. Fortunately, though unbeknown to him, the German artillery battery ordered to support the attack of the 12th Panzer Division on the village was already short of ammunition, due to Allied aircraft disrupting supplies, and the bombardment was therefore both weaker and shorter than should have been the case. Although one of his squads and an MG team had an unpleasant experience, his men got off relatively lightly.

The naval bombardment had barely ceased when Meyer’s men were brought to action stations as Sherman tanks, close supported by infantry, advanced towards his position. From the American side there was no sign of the enemy though their presence was attested by the barricade across the road near the farmhouse. Captain Crowley was under great pressure from HQ to press the attack and to this end one of the Shermans and an infantry squad advanced up the road, whilst the second Sherman, with another infantry squad advanced through the field. His 2 remaining infantry squads moved rapidly over the ridge, aiming at the stonewalled enclosure on the enemy’s right. As they were forced to advance across this open ground they immediately came under fire from the enclosure and 3 men were cut down in one squad, whilst Sergeant Rossetti was killed leading the other squad forward. The crew of the Sherman advancing up the road were oblivious to the rocket from a Panzerschreck that missed by inches! The Americans carried out speculative fire towards the farmhouse and although no casualties were caused, Lt. Meyer’s nerve broke and he fled back down the road towards St Come-du-Mont, screaming he was going for help!

Meanwhile back at the village the 101st remained well hidden as they watched the advance of Kapitan Von Luck’s German Panzer Grenadier squads and 2 Stug assault guns. The tension proved too much for one of the MG teams and they opened fire, pinning an advancing squad. However, by revealing themselves, they drew a great deal of responsive fire from the Germans and were quickly killed. The Forward Air Observer attached to the unit immediately radioed for air support…



Kapitan Von Luck’s German Panzer Grenadier squads and 2 Stug assault guns advance on the village.



Having received fire from the village, the German Forward Artillery Observer called for an immediate bombardment to cover the German assault.

The attack by the 1st Division infantry was running into trouble. The infantry squads advancing on the enclosure suffered more casualties and their assault was losing cohesion as one squad pressed on whilst the leaderless squad went to ground. The Sherman advancing across the field was suddenly hit by a Panzerschreck and caught fire but the crew refused to panic and succeeded in putting the fire out before any serious damage occurred. As the Sherman on the road continued to advance, albeit more cautiously, its supporting infantry squad took 2 casualties as they followed.

Meyer’s men were putting up a stout resistance but having revealed their positions they were now drawing heavy return fire from the Americans. Supporting machine gun fire from the Shermans began to take effect, killing one of the MG and PanzerSchreck teams whilst the German squad defending the enclosure suffered pinning effects and their first casualty. Meanwhile the mortar team continued to be dazed and confused from the effects of the bombardment and the loss of their observer.

As Luck’s men continued to advance, the 101st remained concealed, except for a bazooka team that opened up on the Stug in the field and a MG team who fired from one of the buildings. Suddenly there was a roar from above and the Stug advancing down the road was obliterated as several rockets from a Tempest struck home. This was a heavy blow to the Germans but was quickly followed by disaster as their own artillery dropped their fire too short and created havoc amongst the advancing Panzer Grenadiers whose promising attack ground to a halt as they dived for cover.

Despite these set-backs it was clear to Kapitan luck that he had to press on quickly and he immediately set about rallying the squads affected by the artillery fire whilst ordering his other 2 squads to capture the field to the left of the village, intending to use this area to launch a flank attack. As the first squad raced up to the field they were suddenly met with fire from a 101st squad hidden along the hedgerow. Despite this the German veterans pressed on and after a brief but very bloody few moments, the field was theirs. Their supporting squad also moved up and prepared to attack the village buildings. As they did so, mortar shells from Meyer’s mortar – which had finally broken out of its confusion – landed in the first building, killing the American MG team and leaving this area undefended. An American infantry squad was immediately thrown into the building before the Germans could occupy it as Luck was now forcing his rallied men forward, despite further losses from another 101st MG team, including the Kapitan’s own runner! Lt Brown’s own HQ section ambushed the advancing Germans inflicting 3 more casualties before fleeing back to the safety of another building. Despite this, after another bloody combat, the Panzer Grenadiers stormed the first building to gain a foothold in the village. At the same time the Stug fired another round into the building occupied by the FAA team, completing their destruction.

Back at the farm, the Americans had brought such a weight of fire against the enclosure that the hapless defenders could do little but keep their heads down as casualties mounted. The Americans advancing up the road came under fire again and lost 2 more men but pressed on and killed the last member of the PanzerSchreck team. A disgraced Meyer had returned to the fray but was clearly in a confused state did little as it was clear his position was about to be over-run.

Captain Crowley felt grim satisfaction as the few survivors of the German squad in the enclosure surrendered and a Sherman crashed through the road barricade and machine gunned most of the last German squad around the farm. The way was now open to push on to St Comt-du-Mont!

The final tragedy of Meyer’s command played out as a panicking Sgt Foch, sole survivor of his squad, fired upon the platoon medic, who was racing to his aid, and killed him. Almost immediately, Foch was himself hit by a mortar shell, so avoided a court-martial, unlike the cowardly Meyer – now sole survivor of his command and making his way as quickly as possible from the scene…

Ironically, as the 1st Division finally broke through, the last act was being played out in St Come-du-Mont as in a series of assaults on the dwellings by Panzer Grenadiers and counter-attacks by the last of 101st infantry squads saw Lt Brown and his men wiped out, save for one of the last MG team and the mortar team who had no choice but to try and save themselves as the Germans occupied the village.

In summary the Allies gained a victory by 16pts to 12pts as no bonus could be awarded for holding the village due to not enough turns having passed. With the American 1st Division troops having suffered comparatively light losses and still having both Shermans and still able to call on another 2 Air Strikes it was highly doubtful that the depleted Panzer Grenadiers would be able to hold the village for long. Kapitan Luck reluctantly gave to order to withdraw and fight another day…
Submitted by Richard on 05/02/2013