We replayed one of the Battlefront WWII chestnuts last weekend, the Dom Butgenbach scenario written by Steve Uden, which takes place during the Battle of the Bulge. It is billed as a "generic scenario", representing the few days' intense fighting that went on in that area in the German attempt to win through on the Billingen-Butgenbach road. It pits a veteran battalion of panzergrenadiers supported by armour against the trained troops of the American 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. The Americans have some armour and AT support but the heavy hitters are two entire battalions of 105's in artillery support.The German objective is to clear the Billingen-Butgenbach road, leaving no enemy within 10" either side, while the Americans need to hold on and suffer as few casualties as possible in the process. The game went on for 10 of 12 turns, called at the beginning of the 11th as there was no chance of a German victory.
|The American FOO and battalion commander have a clear view from Hill 592 of the open ground over which the Germans must advance.|
|Soldiers of C Co. dig in along the lane way west of the manor, guarding against a flanking attack.|
|The American mortar pits are dug in well back from the manor, and protected by a stream that cuts through the field on their front and right.|
|The German armoured force consists of a Panther platoon and a heavy panzerjaeger company of four Jagdpanthers (I had to calm down the German player when he saw the Jagdtiger and tell him the sad news that this was merely a stand-in). These, along with a 120mm off board mortar battery, are in support of a veteran panzergrenadier battalion made up of three companies. This was my first opportunity to get some newly painted winter camo Germans on the battlefield (support weapons to come).|
|The defenders are a trained battalion of American soldiers with two 57mm AT guns in support. A platoon of experienced Shermans and a platoon of M10 tank destroyers (two models each) lend armoured support while a full two battalions (count 'em!) of off board artillery are at the defenders' disposal.|
1. The Germans approach
A battalion of German panzergrenadiers, supported by Panthers and Jagdpanthers of the 12th SS Division move across the open ground behind a ridge that lies before the objective. Artillery fire from two battalions of American 105's inflicts only minor casualties due to the Germans' spread out advance.
2. M10 tank destroyer spotted
One of two M10 tank destroyers lying hull down behind the hedge bordering the manor grounds is spotted by the German battalion commander, who cautiously moves undetected up onto the high ground south of Dom Butgenbach.
3. Approaching the ridge
Although the American FOO's are able to see the enemy from their elevated locations the ridge still blocks the Germans from detection by most of the enemy as they form up for their attack.
4. Mortar fire
120mm mortar fire called in by the German commander crashes down on the spotted M10.
5. Driving the defenders off their front lineThe first German infantry break cover and storm the manor grounds, driving the American troops off their front line (top), while the M10's, after firing once, pull back deeper into the manor grounds to avoid return fire from the much superior German armour.
8. Sherman KO'd
One of the Shermans which has moved into enfilade is taken out by close combat with German infantry, which also perishes in the attack, making it two American tanks down. But the Jagdpanthers have already broken off their attack to turn and meet this threat, just in time to see the second Sherman withdraw back over the ridge and out of sight.
But the big killer is the American artillery which continues to exact a steady toll on the German forces. Because they are well spread out, this toll is limited, but as a result, the German infantry are only able to get into contact with the enemy piecemeal in an uncoordinated attack.
In the mid right American bazookas continually harass a Jagdpanther from the hedge-lined lanes around the manor, taking advantage of its lack of infantry support and the tank's inability to defend to the rear and side.
12. Clearing out the hedgerowsThe arrival of the Panthers on the American left flank send the defenders fleeing back towards the hill disordered, giving up this forward line of defence and putting the battalion commander and FOO in danger of being overrun. But the Germans have precious few infantry on this flank to support these gains by the Panthers.
Meanwhile, south of the manor (bottom), a Jagdpanther makes a bold move, overrunning some American infantry stands among the hedgerows before being brought up short disordered by a flurry of bazooka fire and blocked by the M10's commander in his M20 armoured utility car. The Jagdpanther is forced to withdraw after loosing close combat with the infantry.
The German objective had been to force the road, opening a way forward. This they failed to do, and came up short on the 11 Victory Points needed to achieve a draw, only scoring seven. So victory goes to the Americans.