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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Operation Market Garden

Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War.

So as its September and I wanted to have a go with my Fallschirmjaeger me and Kenny decided to commemorate the battle by having a 2000 point battle, my German Falls vs Kenny's British Para’s. My force had 19 order dice which I thought was good for Germans then Kenny said he had 25 order dice...Oh dear!
So apologises to Kenny if I've got anything wrong or missed bits but I'm doing this from memory and going off these photos.
This was my first run out with my Germans, I was really looking forward to trying them out to see how they worked in game and compare them against my Commando force. The table we picked was a cracking set up of small fields covered by tall hedges and various farming buildings evenly spaced. In the second edition this will be more of a nightmare to fight in, more realistic in my opinion and make for better games.

Spotters, snipers and FOO were deployed by both sides 3 for me and 5 for Kenny and then we started the game.
British = Red
German = Black
First turn:

First orders went to the Brits, the British sniper teams both saw movement in the Church bell tower and as their shots rang out the German sniper positioned inside became pinned and went down. The German Flak truck advanced into an open field and fired on the sniper team on the left flank (needing 7’s to hit) and killed the spotter of the team, but in doing this action it had alerted a British Light Artillery crew which drove forward, deployed near the corner of the house in the centre of the board.
German FJ units advanced on the left of the central road and right flank using the available cover, whilst their officer and a MMG team moved up to take cover on the south side of the church. The BMW sidecar roared down the central road to recon the Para positions and seeing a Mortar spotter opened fired but failed to hit him.
The German Mortar team set up behind the church this move was mirrored by both British mortar teams who set up in some cornfields and Para infantry units on the left and right flanks ran forward, another infantry unit advanced down the centre with a Flamer team on the opposite side of the hedge.
End of first turn
Second turn:

First order dice went to the Brits again, Kenny chose the Light Artillery and loaded an AT round and took aim, fired and destroyed the German AA truck with its first shot. (Well that didn’t last long, my fault, lesson learned for next time). The Artillery's tow reversed quickly out of the danger zone.
The Brit Para unit on the left advanced taking up positions near to a gap in the hedge row next to the road. In response the Germans called in some armour in the form of the StuH which came to a stop next to the destroyed Flak Truck using it as cover. Targeting the Para’s near the gap in the hedge it fired its Howitzer and missed, after the commander had finished shouting at his idiot gunner he opened fire using the Mmg and managed to place a pin on the unit. A unit of FJ’s moved up in support of the StuH taking cover next to a hay stack in the field, a second FJ unit moved up along the central road taking over the old position of the first FJ unit which had advanced over the hedge onto the central road to give support to the Mortar observer, just as they had completed this move two Airborne recce jeeps came racing down the Brit part of the central road and open fired with their twin Mmg’s, after weathering the fire the unit had two pins but luckily no casualties. The Brit’s in response to the StuH moved up two Piat teams, the first following closely behind the Para infantry down the left flank, the second team ran across the road in front of the recce jeeps whilst they laid down suppressing fire at the FJ's.
As this fire fight was happening the Brit F.O.O called in an Artillery strike and Kenny positioned the marker smack bang in the middle of my troops...great. It was at this point where I was thinking of dropping my Artillery strike, as I was conscious of the fact of Kenny's Para's closing down the distance to my F.O.O, but in the end I didn't and called it in on turn three. (I've marked the German Artillery strike in the picture one below this.)
The FJ

The German sniper in the bell tower came under fire again from a British sniper teams and was pinned, the British mortars now aware of the German snipers position added their firepower but these first shots weren’t ranged in and fell short.The para infantry on the right flank ran into a nearby house and took up firing positions.

On the German right flank the Mmg team south of the church ran to take up a position near a gap in the hedge, another unit of FJ’s moved into their old position. On the far right the FJ squad moved up to take position on the corner of the corn field/ hedge, whilst a second Mmg team moved up in support.
The BMW turned a sharp right and stopped near the corner of the house and fired into the central unit of the enemy infantry and caused only a pin. The BMW then recced away from return fire (I cannot remember which unit shot) and parked up in a spot next to the church. Unfortunately the Anti tank gun could still see the motorbike despite my best efforts and fired, luckily for me it was just a pin. 
The central Para unit which had just been fired on ran forwards to grab some cover near the road to the right of the house.

Turn three:

Kenny's Artillery strike rolled a three so was delayed, this was a bonus as it gave me time to move my troops out of the way. But Kenny then moved the strike to land right on top of the church, I think he really wanted to kill the sniper in the Church tower by now after throwing so much fire power previous turns.
Kenny caused a lot of damage in this turn, for me it was the tipping point of the game. I think he managed to get 5 dice out of the bag in a row! From what I remember his central Para unit assaulted the Mmg team through the gap in the hedge and even though they lost three Para's to reaction fire they still destroyed the Mmg team.
His two Recce jeeps advanced again stopping at the crossroads and lay down a withering amount of firepower onto the same target as last turn, although it actually hit this time and killed four of the squad. Using this as cover the Piat team followed the jeeps and dived into cover of the hedges to the right of the jeeps.
The sniper team on the right pinned the sniper in the church tower and this was followed by more inaccurate Mortar fire. The Infantry on the right flank went into ambush mode in the building, on the left flank the infantry ran through the gap in the hedge across the road into the other building taking up fire positions.
Then I finally got a dice and could respond. The central FJ unit moved along the hedge towards the house taking up position, on the left and came under fire from the Brit's light Artillery which killed four of the unit.
My FJ squad 4 advanced and fired into the Para unit which had just destroyed the Mmg team and killed all but one who then retreated over the hedge onto the road. But he was quickly followed by the BMW /sidecar as it roared out from its hiding place near the church firing its machine gun at the retreating figure. Unluckily for me the Para made it through the hail of bullets unscathed (lucky git). 
My officer team ran across to my right flank as far from the church as possible and the possible Brit artillery strike.
My medic team became pinned once again by the sniper team on the left flank whose shot rang off the medic's helmet close to the red cross.
The FJ squad near the StuH assaulted the farm building and were wiped out to a man, damn those Brits are tough

My FJ Engineer squad arrived in their Hanomag and advanced to take up position on the corner of the occupied building ready for an assault next turn, these were reinforced with another unit of FJ who ran towards the house. The other 2nd Lt arrived and pushed forwards into the open field next to the StuH.
My F.O.O team hearing English shouting and sounds of battle in the house decided to call in their Artillery strike before they were discovered. Directly opposite another Para jeep (transport) carrying a flamer team pulled up near the gap in the hedge this was followed by another two units arriving, one heading into the cornfield the second making its way down towards the crossroads on their push bikes.
Lastly the third recce jeep arrived on the left flank and fired into the FJ unit hiding behind the hedge and wall causing a pin.
Turn Four:

Artillery strikes incoming
It was at this point when we realised that this would be the last turn as time was fast running out.
Kenny's Artillery strike hit this time and destroyed the FJ unit and BMW sidecar, and placed multiple pins on the Sniper (who was still alive) Mortar, Mortar spotter and Medic. His strike also hit the roof of the farm building with his Flamer team inside but caused no damage to them.
My Artillery strike landed first time on the Farm building, causing pins to the flamer team, it also hit the Recce jeeps causing 2 pins on each vehicle and a pin on the Light artillery. It might have also pinned one of his officers too.
Kenny started this turn by dismounting the flamer team advancing through the gap and flaming my Engineer squad which lost 4 men.
The Piat team jump over the hedge and assaulted the remains of the FJ unit which had been hit by the Light arty previous turn. The FJ's must have still been shell shocked and were wiped out in the quick fight. The Piat team then consolidated back over the hedge in safety, my F.O.O was taken out by the Light Artillery which allowed the Para inside the building to launch themselves through the only window and assault the remains of the Engineer squad wiping them out. However they couldn't consolidate back inside the building so were left out in the open and were subsequently assaulted by my FJ's and killed.
The StuH took another shot through the gap in the hedge at the infantry squad which arrived previous turn, again another miss and the commander was really pissed at his gunner this time
Both Recce jeeps failed their order tests so reversed and went down.
The German sniper also failed his order test so remained stuck in his tower, on the right flank the FJ unit moved to take shots at the lone para and were ambushed by the Para unit inside the building taking a pin but missing their chance at taking down the single Para.
With that we ran out of time. Kenny had hammered me on the VP killing a total of 8 units, I think I might have got one maybe two.
In the aftermath the German forces withdrew from the Battlefield to regroup, rearm and coordinate Artillery fire.

Victory belonged to the British

Well done Kenny.

As a first run out for my FJ I learnt some valuable lessons. I am under no illusions that by the end of turn 4 Kenny had neutralised my forces, he had mostly done this by the end of turn three. After all he is a very good player and he just seems to be able to keep his troops alive better than me whilst killing mine.
I never got a chance to deploy the 150mm Nebelwerfer 41 as I needed Kenny's Artillery strike to land. Had this actually hit on turn 3 I might have had a chance at giving it a go, though I doubt it would have made a difference to the outcome of the battle.
I made some rookie mistakes, my deployment of the Flak truck was poor and for the single kill and pin it caused on the sniper team it was points wasted. It was a big threat to Kenny’s troops and once it was down it allowed him the freedom to advance with his Infantry down my left flank causing me problems.
My Sniper and Mortar spotter placement wasn’t great, even though the sniper survived shots from both of Kenny’s sniper teams, mortars and an artillery strike he only shot once in three turns, but then I guess he did his job well by tying up a lot of enemy firepower. The mortar spotter couldn’t really see much apart from the house which was 4” in front of him and that’s the target he called in and Hit every turn. To Kenny’s credit he did point that out to me when I deployed the Mortar team behind the church.
My FJ’s didn’t do a great deal apart from dying. My Smg, 2x AR, rifles and Lmg look good on paper but in reality couldn’t put down enough hurt on Kenny’s troops. I’m now thinking that dropping the AR’s and running 2 x Lmg’s per squad plus fleshing the units out to 8-9 men would be better, even if I lose order dice to do it as it gives me a longer threat range. Time and more experience will tell me that.
Assaulting into buildings isn’t a good idea, well assaulting any of Kenny’s Para’s doesn’t seem to be a good tactic for me after losing an entire two squads to them. TBH my dice (Kenny’s dice) rolling was utter garbage but that’s the luck of the dice Gods.

Mmg’s I’m still undecided about these, at 50 points I paid for them they look good, but I struggle to set them up/ deploy with good lanes of fire. I’m sure the way to go is to pair them up so they are covering the same arc and leave them on ambush as area denial which I didn’t do in this game, I need more practice with these and maybe upgrade them to Vets.

The StuH was ok, but like the Flak truck used mainly for the fear factor. My inability to hit anything at range using the Howi was frustrating. I love the idea of using armour but I couldn’t even hit a house with the main gun which was 12” directly to the front
Man of the Match for me were the Recce jeeps.
His Airborne recce jeeps are a royal pain in the arse and he uses them very well, effective hit and run tactics and the range that these things can recce away limits the amount of damage that I can put down on these vehicles, V2 obviously will change how effective these will be but I’m sure Kenny will find a way to use (and abuse) them. But I do need to find a way of countering them. Maybe if the Flak truck had survived longer Kenny might not have been so aggressive but when he pairs them up they are very hard to counter, the only time when they do become vulnerable was when they were pinned by my artillery fire and failed their orders on the following turn. That would have been the perfect time to strike but what the chances of that happening again?
Well I hope you enjoyed the read and hopefully I will get a rematch to post up the Battle report.

Thanks again to Kenny for the match and Hulls Angels for the lovely table that we played on.