Sunday, November 24, 2013

Somewhere in Normandy Part 1

With the idea of creating a series of small “learning scenarios” to introduce a new player to the complex subtleties of the Battlefront WWII rules, I put together a small (4' square) tabletop representing the dense hedgerow country in Normandy. Non-historical, the scenario is a basic “seize the bridge” scenario with a small reconnaissance component built in as an excuse to get my much-loved but often neglected armoured cars onto the table top.
The narrative goes something like this:
The German lines have broken and the enemy is in full retreat. A Canadian armoured car platoon, part of the brigade's armoured car squadron, ranges ahead of the slower moving armour, searching for ways forward over an intervening river. According to the maps a bridge lies ahead and the armoured car platoon moves cautiously forward to assess the situation …

1. The Battlefield
All is quiet other than a few stray livestock grazing around the sleepy village nestled on the banks of a slow moving river.

2. The village seen from the low hill to the north.
A tall manor house to the west will clearly give defenders a good vantage point to view any enemy encroachments.

3. The Allied forces.
The Allied forces consist of a Staghound armoured car platoon and a motor company. The motor company also has a Vickers platoon attached.

4. Sunken road east of village.
A sunken road runs along the river east of the village and becomes a focus of later fighting.

5. Platoon commander surveys bridge.
The armoured car platoon enters from the north side of the table. Creeping up a low hill the platoon commander dismounts and continues on foot to the ridge. Quickly he spots the bridge intact in the distance! But not surprisingly, there appears to be a German rearguard protecting it. A Marder is spotted lurking behind the hedgerow below and some sort of weapons pit is identified next to the bridge.

The platoon commander quickly radios back to brigade that the bridge is unblown but defended by a German rearguard of unknown composition. Brigade replies that the bulk of its forces are still held up beyond the previous river but a motor company that has managed to cross over a damaged bridge will be sent immediately in support of the armoured cars. When it arrives they are ordered to seize the bridge before it is destroyed. In the meantime the AC platoon are to try to remain unobserved and see what else they can discover.

6. Staghound KO'd.
While this information is being conveyed the second Staghound noses into the bocage on the right flank for a better look and is immediately knocked out by the Marder. Having dispatched this threat the German self-propelled gun then swivels its guns onto the platoon commander and knocks him out in turn with a couple of rounds of HE.

7. German engineers arrive.
In the meantime German engineers finally arrive with a truck full of high explosive. They quickly dismount and begin work preparing the bridge for demolition.

8. Motor company arrives.
Half an hour after the armoured car platoon commander radioed brigade for help a Canadian motor company arrives. The motor company captain quickly makes contact with the surviving Staghound, which has been badly shaken by a mortar attack as it probed the left flank of the German defences and has retreated to the shelter of the hill. But before being stonked he had found a way forward along an undefended farmer's lane and wheat field east of the village that would safely bypass the Marder.

9. 3” mortars emplace on the hill.
The 3” mortar section set up their weapons undetected on the ridge of the hill, with a clear view down to the village and river.

10. Advance up left flank.
A Vickers section moves up the undefended lane way and dismounts to provide covering fire down the sunken road to the village. The Canadian commander splits his forces between the right and left flank, with a platoon of the motor company and two carrier sections moving forward on this flank, along with the command vehicle. Although undefended, the advance is observed by the German commander positioned in the upper floors of the village manor house. The Vickers section is quickly spotted by Germans lurking with their panzerfausts in ambush at the far side of the sunken road, and this information, conveyed to their captain, allows mortar fire to be immediately zeroed in.

11. Advance on right flank.
Meanwhile the Canadian right flank moves into the orchard past the knocked out Staghound, in preparation to advance through a field of tall crops north of the manor house.

12. Left flank comes under fire.
The motor company platoon dismounts from their armoured halftracks into an open field east of the village. A heavy machine gun and 20mm flak gun mounted on a halftrack open up in ambush from the village and knock out two of the three sections as they move across the field. The surviving section scrambles towards the bocage where they can't be observed.
Meanwhile the carrier sections dismount and advance by a safer though more circuitous route through the wheat field. Before they could fall back to the village, the German panzerfaust armed section positioned in ambush on the far side of the sunken road is engaged and knocked out by the Vickers and 50mm MG fire from the halftrack, while, under cover of smoke, the Staghound maneuvers to bring covering fire onto the Germans firing from the village. 

13. Right flank goes in.
Having sent a couple of sections forward to reconnoitre, the Canadians breach from the orchard and advance through the fields north of the manor under cover of smoke laid down by the 2” mortar. A platoon of Germans are discovered dug in around the manor and their opening salvo pins a number of the attackers, driving them to ground.

14. First demolition laid.
As the sound of gunfire comes from north of the village, the German engineers work still unobserved at mining the bridge. A first of the four demolitions necessary to destroy the bridge is successfully prepared.

15. End of Part 1.
An overview shows the Canadian attack going in on both flanks. The Marder, outflanked by the left column of attack, has pulled back to a more useful position on the edge of the village. The cows are still grazing peacefully …
To be continued.


  1. looking good as always Bill, I think smaller games are a great way to used to the mechanics of the various rules out there

  2. Absolutely amazing terrain! One of the most enjoyable aspects of ww2 gaming is the terrain. Yours is brilliant!

  3. Lovely looking Normandy terrain :)