6 Jun 1944
Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division's 505th Regiment occupied Ste. Mere-Eglise in the early morning hours of D-Day. North of the town, in the village of Neuville-au-Plain, Lt. Turner B. Turnbull's 3rd Platoon of Company D, reinforced with two 57mm anti-tank guns, took up defensive positions. Attacked by a reinforced German company, Turnbull's platoon was the only obstacle in the path of the northern wing of the two German forces attempting to retake Ste. Mere-Eglise.
Turn One - 1030 hrs
The Germans begin with a Lieutenant, HMG and Engineers in the town in sector 0509. They head southeast into cover of the hedgerow (to 0407). They are spotted as the cross into the open, but are out of range.
The Americans begin with both para platoons (one full and one reduced) along with Lt. Turnbull and his 2nd Lt in Neuville-au-Plain (sector 0604). They sit tight and watch the Germans approach and seek cover in the hedgerows while the 57mm AT battery in sector 0705 begins to dig in, anticipating the inevitable assault.
Turn Two - 1045 hrs
The Germans have also seen the Americans in the village and radio back for reinforcements. Promptly, three platoons of Grenadiers along with their able Captain leave 0509 and enter the woods north of the 57mm battery. Their strategy is to take the gun while the other attack group flanks the village. They enter sector 0406, slowed by the HMG unit.
Dug in, the 57mm crew await the assault, fidgeting nervously with gun sights, hoping to fire on the advancing foe before they are overtaken.
Turn Three - 1100 hrs
A German mortar team sets up in the swampy ground of sector 0510 and awaits orders. A German Lt is sent to await deployment from the town in 0509. Meanwhile, the German assault teams continue carefully moving through the thick hedgerow. The Captain and his Grenadiers move deeper in the forest to 0707 while the Lt to the east leads the HMG and Engineers to 0506 and the edge of the hedgerow.
The Americans can only wait and hope for the best.
Turn Four - 1115 hrs
The Americans win initiative, but opt to pass, hoping for effective opportunity fire. The German attack begins from the forest in 0707. The Captain and his three platoons charge through the hedgerow and are greeted with a hail of gunfire from both the 57mm AT battery and the Paratroopers holed up in the village. The AT gun tests the morale of two platoons as they emerge from the bocage, but these men are led by a powerful Captain, and he holds the ranks. The fire from the village proves more effective and half a platoon of Grenadiers are destroyed, but it does little to slow the advance or test the mettle of the soldiers.
The Germans flanking the village rush into the clear fields to the north of Neuville-au-Plain as the Americans are firing on the Captain and his men. The HMG is assembled and ready to fire on the village as mortar rounds from 0510 attempt, unseucessfully, to soften the paratroopers defense.
Turn Five - 1130 hrs
The Americans win initiative and decide to concentrate their fire on the HMG and Engineers preparing to assault Neuville-au-Plain. The 57mm gun is ordered to fire at their position, even in the face of a formidable enemy threatening their dug-in position, and the paratroopers join in, firing from open windows and the safety of stone walls. The attack is sucessful, causing the HMG to go from good order to demoralized. The Engineers come through unscathed and are still able to fight.
The 57mm gun is assaulted from the north with nearly 100 Grenadiers. The odds are against the gun team but somehow they withstand the attack and maintain their spirits. Their counterassault is futile, but they didn't really expect to do much damage to this enemy, not with this weapon designed to penetrate armor.
Mortar rounds land in Neuville-au-Plain, but the shots go long and are ineffective. The HMG unit attempts to rally, fails, and bolts down the north road towards safety. The Americans cheer as the gun team scatters for cover, but the victory is short-lived. The Engineers fire at the paratroopers positions and they settle down and remember that they are not out of danger, not by a long shot!
Turn Six - 1145 hrs
The Paratroopers fire back at the Engineers, but they pass their morale check. The AT crew fights back against the Grenadiers, perhaps foolishly, and the morale is tested on both sides. The Germans sense a breakthrough and assault the gun with stick grenades and rifle fire. The crewmen are killed and the guns destroyed. Meanwhile the HMG unit attempts to rally yet again, fails, and flees to the safety of the town in 0509 where they are reprimanded by the Lt awaiting orders.
The Engineers fire again at the paratroopers, but the town defenses are too strong. Mortar rounds crash into buildings and farmhouses, but pose no real threat.
Turn Seven - 1200 hrs
The Grenadiers, lifted by their success taking the AT gun, assault the paratroopers in Neuville-au-Plain. At last, the decisive battle is waged.
The Germans disrupt the half-platoon of paratroopers and the return fire from the Americans is ineffective. The Americans attempt a heroic assault of their own in an attempt to force the enemy from the village and are met with casualties. The full platoon of paratroopers suffers a step loss and the 2nd LT is disrupted. Things are not looking good and there are no reinforcements in sight for at least another hour.
With the Lt barking orders at them, the HMG unit manages to recover some morale, but remain disrupted.
Turn Eight - 1215 hrs
The HMG, backed with a fresh platoon of Grenadiers and the furious Lt, march down the road to aid in the battle, if needed. Meanwhile, The assault of Neuville-au-Plain continues. The reduced grenadier platoon exits town to allow the engineers to enter, packing explosive charges. The assault is a bloody affair. The 2nd Lt, I suspect a decent man, meets a grisly death and Lt. Turnbull is disrupted at the death of his comrade. One of the half platoons of paratroopers are severely tested, and they disrupt as well.
Turn Nine - 1230 hrs
A German sniper sends a round right through Lt. Turnbull's neck and he collapses with a wheeze and another reduced platoon of paratroopers are disrupted. Things are looking grim for the good guys. The Americans opt to recover morale this turn and despite the loss of two good leaders, they both rally to good order! Reinforcements are only 30 minutes away. Can they hold the village?
Turn Ten - 1245 hrs
The final stages of the assault are underway and the Paratroopers fight bravely. One reduced platoon is lost to rifle fire and the remaining platoon is severely demoralized. They manage to inflict a few casualties to the grenadiers, disrupting one platoon.
The half-platoon is all that stands between the German army and St. Mere-Eglise. They attempt to rally, fail miserably, and are forced to flee. As the run from the village, the Germans open fire, gaining a free shot. The paratroopers fail the morale check and are eliminated.
A victory for the Third Reich!
Historical Notes: Turnbull's platoon was reduced to 16 men before being forced from Neuville-au-Plain late in the afternoon. By preventing the German northern attack force from reaching Ste. Mere-Eglise, they had allowed the defenders to deal with the southern force. The pivotal crossroads was held and the Germans had to be content with occupying the ground between Ste. Mere-Eglise and Utah beachhead.
This game was somewhat similar to actual events, but the paratroopers only managed to secure the town until 1300 hrs. Had they lasted one more turn, reinforcements might have entered the board and stalled the German attack long enough prevent Neuville-au-Plain from being overrun.
Personal Notes: I feel the reason the Germans won this session was due to the early reinforcements. In turn two, three platoons of grenadiers and a captain arrived, ready for combat. Had the reinforcements been dispersed throughout the battle, they couldn't have attacked en mass and enjoyed the early sucesses that they did.
I was suprised at the tenacity the paratroopers showed in holding the village. They endured SIX assault rounds before the siege was over.
This scenario didn't have a lot of tactics to it, mostly relenteless assaults against a dug-in and well-defensed position. It wasn't as enjoyable as others which employ larger more heterogenous forces, but it lasted just under an hour so was perfect for a quick game before bed.
Brendon! Great report! The way you use "sector 0407" for the hexes is right on!