Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day 65th Anniversary

GAJO set up a massive Flames Of War battle to represent the actions surrounding D-Day in WW2. This was a tremendous effort put on by the GAJO staff and the many participants. Chris and Craig and the GAJO staff have been preparing terrain and figures for months, as have many of the game players. It's all coming about just great!

The scenario is of course, representative of the large battle since it's impossible to accurately portray all the units and actual terrain of the event. Model Railroaders call this sort of scaling down as "Selective Compression." The idea is to at least get a "Feel" of the action and the strategies involved. Chris and Craig definitely got the feel of the Normandy coast, even though for the game's sake they had to shorten the beaches and represent familiar landmarks with the buildings available. Still, it was nice to see touches such as sign posts correct for the towns and roads of the area. Pegasus bridge was nicely represented as well as Pointe-du-Hoc and other objectives. The players are all big WW2 history nuts. One participant even wore his WW2 re-enactor's uniform for the 82nd Airborne! Nice touch to the atmosphere of the game.

The game was set over a two day period. Last night, June 5th, we gamed the airborne landings. After three turns, a roll of the dice indicated dawn arrived on time (meaning weather was not so bad as to obscure the dawn light). Play was suspended until the store opens today, June 6, with the dawn turn and the commencement of the landings.

Defense of St.Mére-Église. Dice ready for action.

My focus for this blog are the actions I was involved in, the defense of St. Mére-Église. To defend against the U.S. airborne I shared the command of the 91st Luftlände troops. This was a unit of former Luftwaffe troops trained to be airlifted into emergency situations. The game started with the 91st already in the defensive areas of St. Mére-Église (facing the 82nd) and Carentan (facing the 101st). The American players had to set out pathfinder markers and roll to see which units arrived randomly among the pathfinders or marched in off-board. Differently than the actual event, platoons arrived intact but randomly placed for arrival. This made it very difficult for the German players at first.

The bad luck die rolls hit the 101st player. He only managed to get two platoons of airborne to advance towards Carentan. His first platoon managed to overrun the outer defense, but snipers managed to pin the unit before they could overrun a 105mm battery. Because night rules were in effect, by nearby 20mm Flak platoon was unable to see the Americans well enough to target them. The second platoon has moved on slowly and cautiously. The Germans in Carentan are able to adjust their defenses.

82nd attacks 91st. 82nd will take the building at high cost.

In the 82nd sector, the Americans got 3 infantry platoons to come on through the fields outside of St. Mére-Église. The 82nd went into assault attempts immediately, and it was a fierce fight for the woods outside of town center. One sniper team helped to pin a platoon and accurate mortar fire helped pin another. Nonetheless, by the end of the third turn I had lost my two grenadier platoons, my sniper, and the Americans held the road to Cherbourg and one third of the town. I am left with some MG42 teams, a mortar platoon, an anti-tank platoon, a flak platoon, and Company HQ.

Find the sniper team pinning down 2nd/82nd.

Dawn is breaking. There's a tremendous rumbling from the coast. While my position in St. Mere-Eglise is precarious, Carentan is held strong and a Fallschirmjager company will arrive next turn. Plus, the night rules are over, and I think my observer in the bell tower will be quite busy...

Remains of 82nd 1st and 2nd platoons hold the center building and part of the distant woods. In the church just to the right are the observer team and a small MG42 platoon. It will take careful coordination between remaining German teams to pin the 82nd until (hopefully) reinforcements can arrive. But the 82nd gets more reinforcements shortly...

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