06 March 2016

Chain of Command flanking attack September 1939 AAR

Just a short AAR and picture dump from our Chain of Command game played today.
I finally got to try out my Early War Polish infantry platoon and Johan got to field his German Early War rifle platoon as well.

The scenario was flanking attack, Polish morale was very poor and started at 8, while German morale was on top with 11 at the start of the battle.

As such the Germans were attacking and the Poles were defending and Poles deployed around the village/crossroads. German support was a massive 12 points, while the Poles only had 4 points at their disposal.

Forces:

German rifle platoon (regular)
Morale 11

Rifle platoon
1 Senior officer
3 Rifle squads
1 AT-rifle team

Support
1x Panzer III Ausf. A
1x leIG infantry gun
1x AT-rifle team
1x Adjutant
1x Medic


Polish infantry platoon (regular)
Morale 8

Rifle platoon
2x Senior Officers
3x Rifle squads
1x AT-rifle team
1x Light mortar team


The Poles deployed their AT rifle team and one rifle squad inside the village, with the light mortar being deployed close by. The second rifle squad was deployed in the trench north of the village and along the stone wall covering the road into the village. The third rifle squad was deployed around the trees south of the village.

German troops arrived from the west and north-east of the village, with two German rifle squads being deployed in the tree line overlooking the trenches and the hedges covering the village approach and one rifle squad deployed to the south-west of the village and was soon backed up by the arrival of a PzIII ausf. A.

The Germans also deployed a leIG infantry gun west of the village with clear line of fire into the village. Polish armored support in the shape of a 7TP single turret tank arrived later along the eastern road.

The battle began with German shelling of the village, in particular the building with the anti-tank rifle, killing one member of the team. The loss was covered by the Polish staff sergeant shuffling one spare rifleman from a rifle team to assist the AT-rifle gunner. At the same time German machinegun and rifle fire opened up on the Polish troops in the trenches, inflicting numerous casualties in dead and wounded, and managed to hit and wound the junior officer of that squad twice resulting in Polish morale plummeting by 3 points in the opening shots!

Morale was a concern even before the battle began but it turned critical immediately, realizing that the anti-tank rifle team was a prime target to lower morale even further the building used for cover was abandoned and the weapon was ordered to take cover behind another house while friendly troops fired back at the leIG gun.

The gun suffered a casualty and some shock, likewise the troops in the trench fired back at the German rifle squad in the forest north of their position. The problem was that the firefight in this sector largely remained a 2vs1 gunfight as both German squads peeled away the defenders one by one. Despite losing nearly half the men and having their junior officer wounded a third time (without impact to morale this time around) the position was held.

Around this time the Polish commanding officer decided to split up the southern rifle squad, and sent 8 men with the junior officer to cover the western approach south of the village, and the rest of the squad was sent north to take up position along the stone wall and hedges supporting the east flank of the soldiers defending the trenches.

Inside the village the staff sergeant ordered most of the rifle squad at his location to take up position in the buildings, and also ordered the AT-rifle team to move into the westernmost house and prepare anti-tank defense as the German PzIII was beginning to move closer.

German AT-rifle fire hit the Polish tank, causing some shock, and not wanting to risk their vehicle the tank commander moved south around the forest and turned west in order to provide covering fire for the advancing Polish troops.

Fire exchange between the Polish defenders and the German troops surrounding their positions saw more soldiers killed and shock was mounting. The northernmost German squad was in bad shape and became pinned after a prolonged firefight. The Poles in the trenches were not in good shape either, but were at least not yet pinned down. The second German squad in the woods north of the village launched an assault with one of their sections, but it resulted in 6 dead Germans and 2 dead Poles in the close combat after which the German side was broken and fled.

Further losses were inflicted by PzIII machinegun fire and leIG bombardment in the village, but now the Poles lined up AT rifle and 7TP return fire on the German tank. Both units hit the German target multiple times, shaking the German crew and damaging the engine but not fully destroying it.

German more had at this point been lowered quickly by a series of wounded officers, among them the junior commander of the PzIII as well as having a broken team - reducing the Germans down to a morale of 4. Shortly thereafter the German morale dropped down to 3 which greatly reduced the command capabilities of the German side, and with their support units and two of their rifle squads battered it would be very difficult to throw the defenders from their position.

As such the Germans withdrew from the fight. The Poles had not lost a single commander, but they had lost roughly 1/3 of their starting troop strength.

Some thoughts

Though the Poles lack the rate of fire compared to the German side, their sheer numbers make up for it. Their units are able to soak up a lot of shock and casualties before wavering. Also, having two senior commanders increase their defensive capabilities and help them keep their battle line together. Having two senior commanders proved invaluable during the battle, and the German side was missing this greatly. I suggested that Johan invest in a Befehlspanzer I, so that he can have a mobile and largely invulnerable second senior commander to lead the attacks.

We also discussed the game coming down to a halt and having both side engage in prolonged firefights. We both agreed that perhaps not accurate tactics had been used, that often in CoC players tend to stretch their resources thin which creates a lot of 1vs1 firefights where neither side gets the upper hand and forward assaults become very difficult.

3 comments:

  1. You had exactly the same experience that we have had:the firefight.
    You come into range and start exchanging fire with the enemy. Now, the field manual for every single army prescribes roughly the same thing:four F. Find, Fix, Flank, Finish. You are supposed to pin the enemy with your fire elements and flank and finish him with your manoeuvre elements. Do you? Noooo, you are to scared of moving so you sit tight and fire until good dice or superior firepower decides the day for you.

    I have done it myself and I have seen it happen. A good thing about being the umpire in such a game is that you can see it happen and have a word in the players' ear about it. Sometimes, that helps. Sometimes...it does not.

    Any chance of you making it to GothCon? We are running Indo-China...

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  2. Nice. I've read this "stuck in firefights" before from other players.
    i look forward to seeing if you're able to crack the code.

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