Great game yesterday, I really enjoyed the whole process. I thought it would be well worthwhile if I put down my thinking and my opinions on the Allied attack and where the German plan failed!
Mark wanted the Germans to field units again from a Panzer Division - I arrogantly accepted the challenge and had a long hard think about the best way to use them. The Panzer division lacks defensive anti-tank units with only one battalion of mixed stugs and pak 40s with no integral anti-tank defence amongst the infantry. The tank battalions are very expensive and the Allies cunningly went for a minimum force to deny us a good choice of fancy troops.
However, the German infantry hit hard and have excellent mobility, therefore the plan was to field as much of the infantry component as possible, beef them up with as much support as possible and manoeuvre them into a position to attack the weakest part of the Allied attack. If we could find the weakest line of advance, take a back table and place this force in the flank and rear of the remaining Allied attack, I reasoned we could get a draw at worse and even a possible victory - hmmmm!
We had four panzer grenadier battalions, a reinforced and mobile town garrison and a reinforced and mobile airfield defence group. We kept the artillery battalion as a separate unit without FOOs which could support any of our battalions and act as a Pakfront in a last desperate defence. If the Allies carpet bombed a table we would have an extra weak infantry battalion reinforeced with 2x PzIVs. A couple of tigers and hetzers were all we could afford to bolster our force but most importantly I bought a couple of companies of recon which allowed us a greater degree of manoeuvrability on adjacent tables. This force is pathetic but if concentrated on one table could be devastating.
The bulk of our force was in reserve or placed on 3B. One battalion was on 2D as I thought this might be a weak line of attack and I did not expect the Allies to carpet bomb this table. The airfied defence had been given the bulk of the AA as a trap against an Allied air attack and engineers were ready to repair any damage tot he runway.
The carpet bombing of 2B was a complete surprise and only succeeded in destroying the bridge. We did not hold the river line as we did not want to dissipate our forces and we did want the Allies to attack across the river which would allow us to cut them off from behind and then use our off table reserves to counter attack across 3A against an enemy force on -1 firing.
It took us a while to ascertain which flank was the weaker US attacking force and Jon and Russ' initial moves and careful deployment of reserves kept us guessing. Jon's powerful attack on the town in 1C looked like the stronger push but was the carpet bombing of 2B the real line of attack! As Russ did not push in this direction we felt we had found our best point to launch the counter attack. Russ' belief that he had neutralised this sector also gave us a surprise element and I was determined to mass a powerful schwerpunkt and smash onto 2A. The sacrifice of the town garrison and careful use of the recon was my attempt to slow down Jon's advance and allow my units to manoeuvre across the face of his attack.
Meanwhile, Russ was building a bridge across the undefended river on 2A and Jon had sent a weak (it looked to us!) thrust down the left hand flank and was probing into 3B. I agreed with Phil that it was worth holding onto the town with the garrison rather than pull it out and reinforce our attack against Russ. We had also secured the airfield giving us an edge in air support. So far it looked like the plan was working!
My attack on 2B was very strong and Russ' one battalion was too weak to hold the table and he was forced to commit his last reserve. As my third battalion attacked with an entire artillery battalion in support, the US defence was disintegrating. Successful morale rolls delayed my attack onto 1A but it had forced Jon to defend the flank of 1C and 2C with two battalions each. This was all to plan as I hoped it would weaken his attack on 3B. I agreed with Phil that it might be worth sending in a reinforcement for 3B as I now reckoned we could retake and hold my side of the table for 9 points and possibly hold 3B for three points and give us a win - wrong!
Our plan with the aircraft was to CAP on the hour and attack on the half hour. As Phil launched his counter attack with tigers Jon made the decisive decision to ground attack this German threat. I tamely took our CAP and protected the attack I was launching against Russ. If Phil had been given the CAP the US aircraft would have been devastated (they had no protection and fighter bombers are shot down by fighters). I'm not sure but I expect Phil and Jon can confirm that this may have been the turning point for 3B.
I had taken 1B and the Paras on 1A were grimly holding on against my attack. I was struggling to get my battalions to attack 2A fromn the rear and the artillery battalion was bravely deploying on our side of 2A in order to cut off the US line of supply onto 3A. Our last reserve was thrown into 3A to hold the airfield but I am not sure we had enough strength to smash the US attack.
So, the game came to an end and I am not sure whether I had allowed Jon the opportunity to take 3B whilst I was determined to hit Russ and manoeuvre behind his forces and roll him up against the river. Splitting our counter attack against both 3A and 3B meant that both were too weak to properly succeed in spite of Phil doing well with the troops he had been given.
The US plan was good. The careful deployment of reserves kept us guessing and Jon's initial probe against 3B fooled me into believing that he wouldn't support it with a full blown attack whilst I was attacking at 1B. The neutralising of 2B with carpet bombing was very clever - luckily we had different plans. Its real success was in convincing Russ that 1B could be weakly held and that a reconnaissance in force along 1A and 2A was safe - again we were lucky!
Overall a brilliant game and I am more than happy to admit defeat against a very well thought and fought US attack. It has definitely given me a lot to ponder and once again confirms this format as the pinnacle of our war-gaming. Please let us all know what you think were the main dynamics of this game as we are learning so much more from these games.