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Panzer Grenadier: Airborne (Introductory Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Scenario Nine - Holding the Lock rss

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Brandon Neff
United States
South Jordan
Utah
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7-Jun-1944

1745 hrs

Dear Mom and Dad:

Well, I made it through D-Day without getting myself killed, something I honestly didn’t think was possible considering the things I’ve witnessed and experienced. Last night we were charged with holding on to the La Barquette lock and the Germans must have really wanted it because they fired on us all night. We held on and waited. I think waiting is the most difficult thing to do in war. We are all so anxious that we drive ourselves crazy. It’s better when we are engaged in combat because then our mind is focused on the task at hand and not at the thousands of possible outcomes when you don’t know what might happen. An hour and a half ago, the wait was over.

I was part of two platoons of paratroopers hunkered down in the swamps southeast of the lock and as soon as we saw the direction the Germans were coming from, we started digging in to hold our ground. Colonel Melton had us dig like our lives depended on it as surely they did! We had another platoon and a half of paratroopers to our north, blocking the straight route to the lock. They were backed up by a heavy machine gun team and we knew they’d take most of the fire so we silently prayed for them while we dug in.

The Germans came at us with at least 250 men and two heavy machine gun teams. They were spread out to try and outflank us during combat, but this terrain is so mucky and wet that it makes movement rather difficult. As it was, they were easy targets once they came into view. The other group of paratroopers fired on the lead German units and that provoked a heavy mortar barrage from them. Fortunately, the mortars didn’t cause any damage, but they sure got my heart racing!

The Germans started firing again and this time they tested the morale of the guys to the north, slightly disrupting one of the platoons, but they fired back and really punished the Germans. Not only did they disrupt the entire attacking group, but they must have killed a good 20-30 of them! The German attack team to the south (about 400 yards in front of me!) fired back at the paratroopers and really tested them, but they held on. At this time we were dug in and ready for whatever the Germans would throw at us.

The Germans somehow recovered their morale after taking those heavy losses only to get shot up again. This time they lost another 20-30 men as well as half of their HMG team (who were so demoralized by the attack that they looked ready to run into the hills!). Again, the Germans countered from the north and this time we weren’t so lucky. There were a few casualties and those brave guys were really demoralized, including their leader, 1st Lt. Bell, although he seemed to fare better than the rest. Well, we’d seen enough of our guys getting shot up for one afternoon, so we poured it on the Germans right in front of our comrades. We wiped out half a platoon and the rest of their machine gun unit! It might be wrong to say it, but I got a few guys myself and it felt good to know I was helping out my fellows. Unfortunately, while we were routing the troops in that sector, the German units right in front of us fired on the already-demoralized paratroopers that we were trying to save. The screams of men I trained with, jumped with and fought with will haunt me for the rest of my days. I saw Lenny Duarte, who I bunked with in Basic, get shot. He fell down and was perfectly still. I hope he didn’t feel any pain. At least 50 of our guys were hit, most killed, by that attack. 1st Lt Bell rallied the men and in the face of adversity, they prepared to fight on even as mortar exploded around them.

Colonel Melton had been calling for artillery support for the last 45 minutes and finally it came. The shells exploded right in the midst of the German unit to the north that was pressing our men. The Germans scattered and took cover as round after round pounded into the soft earth. With the artillery behind us, we could sense a change in the tide of battle. For the next 15 minutes we exchanged fire and saw a few wounded on either side, but nothing serious. I sensed it was a lull before the storm.

The Germans must have sensed it too because they jumped up and stormed right at our dug-in position! We had bayonets fixed and were ready for them! They came at us hard and it was like a firing squad! We hit them so hard that two whole platoons of German grenadiers were demoralized and their attack was futile. Just then, another artillery barrage pounded the Germans to the north again and demoralized their HMG unit.

They responded by firing at the brave paratroopers hold the ground to the north and I could tell they were really affected by the heavy fighting. They just seemed wore out and wore down and I knew the Germans would finish them off and then focus on our position! This fueled our rage and we assaulted the German units we had just pushed back. As bad as shooting a man feels, killing one face to face, hand to hand, is far worse. Mom, I want you to know that I do what I have to do and I hate the thought of taking more lives, but I also want to come home and so I fight tooth and nail when called upon. We crushed the Germans and killed nearly 50 men in the assault. Some of them were begging for mercy and wanted to surrender to us rather than die in that muddy river bottom.

The paratroopers to our north witnessed this and they immediately rallied around our actions even as the German units tried to rally but in the face of the carnage on the field, we could tell they had lost the will to fight. They tossed their rifles to the ground and raised their arms in surrender. We were so elated to have survived the attack and to have taken valuable prisoners including a German Major! Still, the cost in human life was staggering. They had lost more than two whole platoons of men and we had lost roughly half of that but we have many more wounded who likely won’t survive the night let alone the rest of the war.

Still, I want you both to take comfort in the fact that I am safe and unscathed, although I wonder what toll this war, should I survive, will take on me. I don’t imagine I’ll ever be the same. I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss and love you all.

Your son,

James


Personal Notes: The Dug-In paratroopers were a huge factor in this battle. The first-fire ability rendered a German assault ineffective while demoralizing two good-order grenadier units. Their counter assault that turn resulted in two step losses for the Germans as well as demoralizing the remaining Grenadiers which was a key to their forced capitulation (special rule #3). Of course, I later realized the swamp gives first fire capability as well and I didn’t need to dig-in. This wouldn’t have affected the 2X result I got on the counter assault as the German units were ineffective again.

I do have a question about the swamp terrain. It states that troops are not spotted more than 1 hex away. Is 1 hex interpreted to mean the adjacent hex or would a unit with one empty hex between itself and a unit in the swamp be able to spot? Lastly, the terrain effects for the swamp are different in the back of the scenario booklet (-2 to direct fire, first fire) and the Direct Fire chart (+1 to direct fire). Does this mean if you are attacking a unit IN a swamp you get a +1 column shift and if you are attacking FROM a swamp you suffer a -2 column shift? That’s what I understood, but would like a clarification.

Overall, this was a great battle. It was nice to have the American side on the defensive and the addition of offboard artillery (33% chance per turn) increased the fun-factor for me.

 
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Ethan McKinney
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El Segundo
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Neffchiro wrote:
I do have a question about the swamp terrain. It states that troops are not spotted more than 1 hex away. Is 1 hex interpreted to mean the adjacent hex or would a unit with one empty hex between itself and a unit in the swamp be able to spot?

See the rulebook on counting range. Then think about the implications of each method for terminology.

Neffchiro wrote:
Lastly, the terrain effects for the swamp are different in the back of the scenario booklet (-2 to direct fire, first fire) and the Direct Fire chart (+1 to direct fire). Does this mean if you are attacking a unit IN a swamp you get a +1 column shift and if you are attacking FROM a swamp you suffer a -2 column shift? That’s what I understood, but would like a clarification.

"For swamp, use the 3rd TEC for swamp and fully ignore the back of the Airborne book (for swamp effects)." The PG3 TEC shows +1 to direct fire and -1 to bombardment fire.
 
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Mark Buetow
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McHenry
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Move! Advance! Fire! Rout! Recover! Artillery Denied! Artillery Request! Command Confusion...say what?!
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Neffchiro wrote:


Still, I want you both to take comfort in the fact that I am safe and unscathed, although I wonder what toll this war, should I survive, will take on me. I don’t imagine I’ll ever be the same. I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss and love you all.




Probably, James, you'll sit around in your retirement home reliving these glorious battles by way of hex and counter wargames!laugh


Dude...your session reports rock! I think some of the best SRs are the ones from tactical games like this (and Lock 'n Load, ASL, etc). Keep up the entertainment!

BTW...are you playing these solo or FTF?

 
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Brandon Neff
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Ethan:

Thanks for your help. That was just what I was looking for. According to 7.32 you "count the hex occupied by the target unit" and 8.1 states that "Spotting range at night is normally one hex (the adjacent one)".

That answers my question!

Also, I agree to disregard the scenario terrain rules and stick with v3.0 of the PG rules.

Mark:

Thanks for the fine compliment! I really enjoy writing the AARs for these sessions. It is a reflection of the workings of my imagination as I go through die rolls and it makes the session that much more enjoyable for me, and I'm glad to know that others like it as well.
I have played most of these solo, but this report (Scenario 9) was played with my wife calling the shots for the Germans.
 
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