Rommel was up to his tricks again! Having recieved reinforcements from Europe, he's now fighting a two-front war: to the East, the British Commonwealth troops are pushing through Libya...and to the West, the Americans have forced the Vichy government to withdraw from the Axis, and now threatens to advance thru Tunisia, cutting off supplies, and annihilating the Afrikakorps!
In true Napoleonic style, Rommel has taken up "the central position", from which he can concentrate his force and defeat his enemies piecemeal. First to go must be the Americans! They are soft...a few losses and they're sure to lose their stomach for war; then we can concentrate on the British!
The first step in defeating the Americans will be crushing their southern flank. The 21st Panzer Division has is leading this attack, with Italian and German infantry ready pin down the rest of the US forces while our Armoured and Mechanized troops encircle and destroy the entire US II Corps!
US Paratroopers hold their southern flank. They must be encircled and destroyed, then the entire flank can be rolled up. We need the access the road their defending provides, and we'll hit them hard from the front and the rear!
(This is the mission called Breakthru. Eric was using his 101st Airborne with support, while I had my Panzergrenadier Company...as I'm Mechanized and he's Infantry, I was the attacker. Eric picked two opposite table quarters to deploy in. I picked one table quarter to deploy in. In the last quarter, I had to place two Objectives. I had to keep at least one platoon in reserve...though could keep more...and have to reach an objective by turn 6. If I hold an objective unopposed at the start of any of my turns from turn 6 on, I win. If turn 6 on I don't have any troops within 12" of an objective, Eric wins.)
The battlefield was dominated by a mountain on the western end. A road ran roughly east-west north of the mountain, passing through the small village of Al-Yajjaz and it's small oasis. Some light stands of trees were around the watering hole, and some rocky outcroppings from the mountain were found in the southern half of the field.
Eric chose the North-East and South-West table quarters. I chose to deploy in the South-East. I put the objectives near the road.
Eric deployed first, all of his troops having the advantage of being 'dug-in'. His howitzers were behind the village, and his 3rd Platoon took up positions in the village. The 2nd Platoon parked themselves in the oasis trees. His 1st Platoon were out in the open, with the mountain to their backs. The Mortar platoon was behind a small hill, as were the Shermans.
I got to see his deployment before deploying mine, which was a huge advantage. I decided I could put one PzG platoon in reserve to attack the objective, while the other PzG and Stugs would push, but not assault, the mortars and 1st Platoon. I hoped to push him hard enough that he feld it unsafe to leave his foxholes, but knew he'd have to eventually to defend the objectives. My 88s were on the hill, my hope was that they'd shred anything that wasn't behind a sandbag. The 105s were behind the hill, with observer teams able to see anything. The rad8 Armored Cars were hull-down behind the same hill, doing Recon things and being a threat to the East flank (they can pump out a fair amount of shots, and are hard for Infantry to kill).
I moved my Stugs around to get Side shots on the Shermans. The PzG moved up to the edge of the woods, ready to start pumping MG fire next turn. Their halftrakcks moved out in front of the US 1st Platoon, also ready to expend some MG ammo.
My Stugs killed one Sherman; my artillery pinned the mortar platoon; and the PzG with their halftracks pinned 1st Platoon. Due to infantry's inherent good saves and their foxholes, I killed nothing.
Eric wanted to shut down the halftracks and, I think, put some casualties on the PzG platoon to make them closer to taking Morale check, so he sent the Shermans to the middle of the battlefield, where they were able to kill 2 halftracks. His artillery was ineffective, his mortars did manage to pin my PzG platoon.
The PzG failed their test and remained Pinned. My Stugs moved to keep picking on the Shermans (in case the 88s didn't do their job). The Halftracks snuck behind the trees to avoid getting killed (transport losses can cause a nearly intact platoon to run away, so I didn't want to lose them; on the other hand, transports can be 'sent to the rear' with no penalty, but I wanted to have the mobility in case I needed to grab an objective later).
The 88s did poorly, only bailing out one of the Shermans. The Stugs did no better. Luckily the sole operational Sherman failed his Morale check, so was removed. The rest of my fire was ineffective...I don't even think I pinned anything.
I think Eric decided here that he could push me a bit with his infantry herd, kill enough of my stuff that my reinforcements would be too little too late. The 1st Platoon moved up to assault the PzG. The 3rd Platoon moved out of the town to try to take the hill the 88s were on.
Artillery pinned the 88s, the PzG were pinned by mortar and small arms. In assault, the PzG lost a few, and fell back, but did some damage with defensive fire first. With the half-track losses, they had to pass a Platoon morale check, and passed.
No reinforcements yet.
Seeing all that infantry out in the open was pretty inviting. The Stugs and PzG (with tracks) moved up to fire and assault them. One of the 8rads moved so that an assault on the 88s would allow them defensive fire.
Shooting was very successful against the US 1st Platoon, killing enough teams that my PzG had nobody to assault. The Stugs were able to assault, shrugging off the fire from a Bazooka team and then running him over. The Paratroopers decided they didn't want any more to do with the Stugs, so fell back from the combat. They'd been taken below half, failed their platoon morale test, and quit the battlefield.
Artillery fire pinned the 88s, and killed one of the 105 howitzers. The assault on my hill got underway, as 50 brave souls ran up the hill firing at the 88 crew. The fire and assault killed a gun and the command team, the other gun crew fled the battle. The assaulting paratroopers kept up their assault and ran right in to the 8rad Armoured Cars. The 8rad survived, pushing the infantry teams back!
The 2nd PzG platoon arrives! Their tracks spread out, I was hoping to disembark in stormtrooper move and dig in on turn 5, but failed their skill check.
The Stugs advance, hoping to pin down the 2nd Platoon. The 2ic decides to deal with those pesky mortars personally, so gets out of his track and assaults the Bazooka team, killing them personally!
The rad8s, feeling confident from their successful defense of the hill, roll forward and assault the wavering Paratroopers. A few troopers die, but the armoured cars are pushed back.
The 2nd platoon realizes they've been out-flanked, and takes off at the double to defend their objectives. The Mortar team, fresh out of ideas, runs forward to assault the rear of the Stugs. 3rd platoon continues the assault on the bloody hill! The 75mm pack-howitzers reposition to fire on the 2nd PzG on the objectives.
The Mortar team succeds in bailing out a Stug, but they are pushed back.
The 3rd platoon has bitter-sweet success...they continue to take casualties, but are able to bail out and destroy the two armoured cars; winning that combat, they press on in to the artillery, which loses 2 more guns and is pushed back. Sadly for the paratroopers, their losses are too much, so they quit the field...at least they went out on a high note!
The only thing juicier than infantry out in the open is infantry moving at the double out in the open! (You get double shots at teams that moved on the double on their last turn). The 2nd PzG dismount and take up positions near the objective, while their tracks move forward to get in MG range of the US 2nd Platoon. The Stugs move up to fire on them as well. 1st PzG lingers around in safety, ready to assault the mortars or simply try to survive next turn.
The MGs of the Stugs and Halftracks shreds the mass of infantry...they're too busy running to duck, and are cut down. Only 3 teams survive the hail of lead. They pass their Morale check, however....
Hoping for a miracle, the survivors unload everything they have at the 2nd PzG. Bazookas and 75mm artillery bail out 2 halftracks and blow up a third, but the platoon is intact and hold the objective.
At the start of Turn 6, I had control of an objective...game over! A win!!
This was a lot of fun, and we both learned a ton...lots of dos and don'ts we got to play with! With were both underwelmed with our artillery; we both like light-armoured vehicles now; we both have decided to never ever ever move on the double again
Look for more reports of Rommels offensive vs the US 2nd Corps soon!