First Assault Wave – OMAHA BEACH
June 6, 1944
“Never had there been a dawn like this” ….well, OK, once before!
After the trouncing defeat of the Allied invasion forces on bloody Omaha, I had to take this scenario out for another spin. Lessons learned in the first playing would hopefully benefit the Allied invasion more favorably; or it was more beer and bratwurst for supper (not a bad result, either!). I once again played this scenario solitaire.
Once again, it's a Battle Royale between two omnipotent war machines in the Great War in Europe. The Allies were primed and ready to put a whoopin’ on the Axis buttkickers; INVASION!
To set the stage once again, we’re talking Normandy, June 6, 1944. D-Day. The landing beaches for the Allies…UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, SWORD. The invasion of France was set to land an immense invasion fleet between the Cotinten Peninsula on one flank, with the gem of a port city of Cherbourg, and La Harve on the other flank. Many nations would fight in the Allied invasion this savage morning, and this scenario deals with the US forces hitting Omaha Beach.
The US assault waves on Omaha Beach were set to land; and the beach was divided into sectors, from left to right named: FOX, EASY, DOG, and CHARLIE. The Allied forces are just landing, which were led by the 116th Regimental Combat Team, destined for Dog sector; and the 16th Regimental Combat Team hitting Easy and Fox sectors. Also hitting the beach in the first wave are two battalions of tanks from the 741st and 743rd. Landing crafts (LCA’s) were hampered by a persistent swell and a strong undertow, being pushed to the wrong sections of the beach; which probably couldn’t have provided worse positioning for the landing troops.
Facing the Allied force was a beach strewn with well-positioned obstacles; wire and hedgehogs (hedgehogs were obstacles made to rip the belly out from under oncoming tanks and landing craft, usually made of steel rails fastened in a pyramid-style shape; or made of wood, with anti-tank mines affixed to the tops). A seawall to the right flank, between Dog and Easy sectors, provided some minimal defense (improved position), and the hedgehogs provided scant shielding; but it was pretty much all bad. In my last outing with this scenario, the bulk of my US armor was decimated behind the cover of this Sea Wall, as they tried desperately to take out the artillery in a bunker atop the bluff adjacent to the D-1 Exit. This game, I was prepared to perhaps hold one of the tank battalions at the Sea Wall for a time; but be more aggressive in moving it’s companion up through Exit D-1.
Behind the numerous beach obstacles, about a 200-yard run up from the beach, is a line of bluffs, which costs a 2-hex move to scale. This means all but one of the Allied infantry present will need to move adjacent, scale the bluffs and NOT be able to battle that turn; the lone Ranger unit coming from Charlie being the sole unit that CAN battle after scaling the bluff, it’s being Special Forces unit. I’ll admit though, that even on this second go-round, utilizing this unit was not going to be productive unless I got lucky with removing the artillery emplacements by Exit D-1. Since tanks cannot move up the bluffs from beach-side, I was also prepared to have them attempt to penetrate inland more aggressively, taking their chance to withstand the gauntlets presented by the well defended Exits.
The bluffs were soaked with bunkers adjacent to the four main Exits off of the beach (E-3, E-1, D-3, and D-1, left to right). The bunker between Fox and Easy, adjacent to Exit E-3; and the bunker between Dog and Charlie, adjacent to Exit D-1 each contained dreaded artillery batteries, which rained death and destruction upon my armor in the last session. Their field of fire on the beach and ocean covers all but three lone hexes in the bottom/center of the board; and provide a 3-dice roll on three exits. Even the lower dice roll on Exit D-3 is offset slightly by the fact that both artillery emplacements can hit the exit, and in combination, still puts three dice in the mix!
Six Victory Medals are needed to win the scenario. There are four towns represented on the map, each of which holds a Victory Medal token; an Allied unit capturing and holding a town gains said Victory Medal. The towns represented are Colleville-sur-Mer on the rear left US flank; Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer to the extreme rear, and a town by the bluffs, at center; and Vierville sur-Mer at the US right flank.
The Germans in this scenario are definitely in a defense position, and that only makes sense considering the subject of the scenario. With so strong a defense on the bluffs, it naturally behooves the Germans to move the garrisons from Saint-Laurent sur-Mer and Vierville sur-Mer up onto or behind the bluffs; to contribute suppression fire and help to repel the invaders as they struggle at the base of the bluff, and still provide a short distance to retreat back to defend the towns, with their Victory Medals. Even with a 6-Victory Medal game, however, I contend that attrition at the bluffs will probably gain the needed total long before the rear area towns come into the equation. With the Germans having first move, as in my first playing, moving the garrison from Saint-Laurent is again what I did. There’s not a lot for the Germans to do at the start of the scenario except wait for the invaders to come into range of their infantry on the bluffs, or the deadly artillery in their bunkers.
I moved Allied armor heading aggressively to the D-1 and E-3 Exits this game. Even though the situation still proved challenging in moving through the beach obstacle “corridors” to advance on these exits, they also helped clear the way in removing some of the wire for the infantry behind them, and still battle the forces around the exits. The infantry moved through the hedgehogs readily, and benefited from being able to ignore the first flag rolled against them, which happened with surprising frequency. My preliminary battle plan this game evolved around utilizing the large infantry presence in Fox sector to advance quickly upon the lone German infantry unit stationed in a sandbagged emplacement atop the bluff to one side of E-3; and the artillery batteries in the bunker atop the bluff on the other side of the same exit. The tanks at Easy meanwhile, headed straight up and hooked left around the line of beach obstacles and headed for E-3 Exit. Now, this is just where the German line started to break in the real deal, and sure enough, that’s the way it was playing out here! The pressure was such that the Sea Wall on the opposite flank became less concentrated, as German units scrambled to repel the human barrage in Fox and Easy sectors.
The armor units in Dog and Charlie sectors still took a pounding, but moving the infantry up from Charlie helped to suppress the German artillery by D-1 Exit, and force the Germans to shift to their right more, to plug the widening hole. The Sea Wall didn’t play as detrimental a role as in the first game, for Allied armor, as the tanks didn’t hang around too long to get zeroed in on. I guess those Sea Wall sandbags looked like better protection the first game than they actually were…lesson learned the hard way!
Fox infantry managed to penetrate to Colleville, and an armored unit made it to Saint-Laurent, which had the Germans flipping around to defend and retake the rear. The German right flank was firmly collapsed, with the artillery batteries eliminated near E-3. This afforded an encapsulation on three sides of the German left flank and besieged center area. While still a close battle, Victory Medal-wise, this time, the Allies prevailed!