Armored Feint, Scenario Design, Part IV

A little more on the situation 7-8 July. Companies I and L had become isolated on the reverse (n) slope behind Le Plessis. On 8 July, an attempt was organized to relieve them. The attack, however, was never made. Middleton is no help here, as he was just a private.

Writes COL Barth, CO 357IR:

“On 6 July at 0800 C Co. advanced, and by 0930 had crossed the blacktop road west of Beau Coudray. B Co. failed to advance and it was determined that the heavy losses during its repulse of the night before had left it disorganized. [n.b. Middleton describes this failed attack]. While reorganization was in progress orders were issued for the 3rd Bn. to advance south with I and L Cos abreast in the gap between a and C Cos. At this time the fact that A Co. had retired to the north from its previously reported position 200 yards northwest of the Bau Coudray crossroads was not known to me. As a result, when the two companies of the 3rd B. advance their left flank was exposed. This latter proved disastrous as it allowed the Germans to envelop the exposed (east) flank of the 3rd Bn. By 1100 c Co. had fought its way to the blacktop. K Co. was then attached to the 1st Bn. and A Co. to the 3rd Bn., and the 3rd Bn. ordered forward on the left of the 1st Bn.

“At 2315 C Co. was violently counterattacked by infantry and five tanks (estimated) and broke along with K Co. that was moving up on its left. The two companies became intermingled and were finally stopped and reorganized by Capt. Woodrow Allen [Woody Allen?!] about 300 yards north of the blacktop….

Here is the situation:

Map drawn by Ely superimposed on 1947 IGN aerial photo showing the initial advance, the German counterattack, and the nighttime repulse of C coy.

The next day, B coy is ordered to attack to relieve the pressure on I and L coys. I believe that Middleton’s account was of a feint preliminary to the rest of his company’s maneuver mounted to facilitate their effort to link up with I and L coys. Middleton explicitly mentions moving through C coy’s positions just up from the creek bottom. Here is COL Barth again:

“B Co.’s attack go under way at 0930 [n.b. Middleton is explicit about his attack taking place in the afternoon] and progressed to a point one hedgerow north of the town by 1130. [At this point, they must have been only about 150 yards away from I and L coy’s last reported positions.] It suffered heavy casualties and was continuously engaged for several hours. At 1450 it was attacked in the flank from the west, but with the assistance of tanks it held its ground. At 1545 a heavy artillery concentration fell in the position and the supporting tanks withdrew.”

Of note from a scenario design standpoint, the Germans have either already withdrawn 77th Infantry or 15FJR is acting as a fire brigade. I’m a little bit mystified as to which unit provided the armor present there, but I remember anecdotes mentioning Mark IVs (a tale of a bazooka kill on the central street of the village). I don’t want to belabor the research phase of this design any further. Most of my German unit information comes from Niklas Zetterling’s indispensable handlist, Normandy 1944.

COL Barth repeatedly refers to the road as “blacktop” but I think he was simply referring to the AMS map, which is agnostic on the subject. The high reflectance found in the 1947 aerial photo lead me to conclude this was a dirt road and I’ve depicted it as such. (It is nothing like the wide Argentan road found at St. Leonard in any case.)

So, the scenario will depict the actions of a small tank-infantry force making a feint on the La Stelle road junction. Unfortunately, the map dimensions oblige me to cheat on the actual terrain. I think a satisfying situation can be invented, nevertheless.

2 thoughts on “Armored Feint, Scenario Design, Part IV”

  1. So, in game terms, how do you show the disorganization of A and B co.? Have them start the scenario under max suppression? A tricky problem, but you are certainly the right man to come up with an answer.

    1. Hah, I can see you want to take on the campaign scenario. Great! I’ve written a couple of mechanisms intended for multi-day, battalion level operations, including cohesion and a retooling of the artillery rules, which have important effects for scenarios with a large number of units.

      The former is a function of casualties suffered, reinforcement arrival, unit surrenders, objective completion, and pauses for reorganization. Sounds complex when I write it out, but it is a straightforward track mechanism with three possible states (green, yellow, red). If your battalion is in yellow state, you have to start making rolls at -1 to morale to activate units. (Red is -2, of course). You can do little things to bring it back, such as declare a lull and hope that the enemy doesn’t counter attack. It might not seem like much, but preliminary playtesting shows things get very janky, especially if you have a large number of US second-line squads.

      At Beau Coudray, A/357 took a long time to get into the fight. (Unfortunately my PDF for 1/357s S3 log went south so I have to go back to the paper document next month.) I believe they tried to come down to the east of the St. Jores-Le Plessis road and hit mines and direct, long-range fire. They spent the better part of a day reorganizing. I don’t think anyone got any traction on the east side of the road but I can’t say exactly why. Terrain would suggest that it was very easy to interdict.

      Part of the problem with the Beau Coudray fight is that COL Barth, or his XO, wrote an extremely complex passage of lines order which contributed to confusion. On top of it, as I mentioned in a much earlier post, the limit of advance of the original order was not attached to any geographical feature but to “grid line 80” which rarely a good idea. That, and the fact of facing a fiercely determined enemy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *