Monday, 17 September 2012

Escape to La Barquette

1800hrs, 7th June 1944, D+1. South of Vierville, Normandy, France.

Lt Randy Winkleman, swept back his hair and placed the steel helmet back on his head. With his Thompson sub-machine gun cradled in the crook of his left arm, he motioned forward with his right hand, rose to a standing position and stepped into the road. Behind him the twenty six paratroopers, of his depleted platoon advanced.

Lt. Winkleman had attached himself to Sgt. Ralph Liptons squad. Their objective was patrol to the east of the Douvre River, and block any move South by German forces. 'George' Company had reported enemy paratroopers, 'Fallschirmjager', to their front. So it was 2nd Platoon, 'Item' Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, who was tasked with preventing the enemy from crossing the river. High ground, thats what he needed, Winkleman thought. Take the hamlet at the crossroads. He pushed his men forward.

Unbeknown to the earnest commander; men clad in field-grey uniforms were heading towards the same objective. Desperate men eager to escape the closing Allied trap.

Winkleman lead Liptons 1st Squad to the left, a small copse of trees obscured his view. As per his orders, Sgt Larry Hill and his 3rd Squad had occupied the walled courtyard behind the small, French home. Sgt Joe Cassidy, moved the 2nd Squad towards the Cafe at the crossroads, but the damn French countryside snagged at their boots slowing progress.

FALLSCHIRMJAGER!! Too late the enemy was before them. Winkleman rushed his squad forward. He and his men crashed through the undergrowth and foliage. 'FOLLOW ME' he cried.

Winkleman pulled up fast. In his haste, he had lead his men into a trap. A second squad of German paratroopers stood before them, like hungry wolves. The young lieutenant, started to lift the Thompson to a firing position, but his mouth was dry and his breathing ragged. The only sound he could hear was the retort of a half a dozen Mausers and the hideous growling of the Spandau machine guns. 

Winkleman fell forward to his knees. Then he pitched forward into the soft grass. He stared vacantly to the left. All he could see, the last thing he would ever see, were tan coloured forms collapsing grotesquely around him.
Sgt. Hill was aware of the carnage taking place to his left, but immediately to his front was a greater threat. 'LET THEM HAVE IT.' He yelled, and the retort of M1 Garand rifles, filled his ears.
The Germans ducked and weaved to avoid the Americans fire. The rounds found their mark. But the Germans held.

1st Squad was decimated. Pfc Joel Clarke, suddenly found himself very much alone. Being alone was not a nice feeling. Still gripping his rifle, he turned and ran into the copse behind. Sgt. Hill and 3rd  Squad hunkered down behind the stone wall. A stone wall which suddenly seemed to be getting lower; as German bullets tore chunks from it.

Now some of those bullets began to find their mark. Around him Sgt. Hill watched his men die. He needed support. Where was 2nd Squad?

Sgt. Cassidy, deployed his men in the Cafe. He was aware of the gunfire coming from the near distance. But what was happening? No time to dwell on that. There in the road-Germans-'FIRE'.

The American fire found its mark, and German's fell onto the hard tarmac. But it was too little, too late. The Douve was crossed.

2nd Squad could do nothing to prevent the German's advance, all was lost.

So ended the first game of 'TOOFATLardies' 'Troops, Tactics & Weapons'.

I had the misfortune to play the Americans (or the U.S. Airborne had the misfortune to be controlled by me) and the 'Secret Wargamer' played the other side. Overall an excellent game. For a first run through the game played quickly and relatively smoothly. There were of course teething troubles, rules missed and mistakes made. My main blunder was not taking the 1st Squad off a blind before moving them-'D'oh!'. This set of rules will become, for now at least, my 'skirmish' rule set of choice. Probably the most enjoyable 28mm WW2 game I've played since I started to collect the figures. Next game will probably introduce support weapons, and maybe a tank or two.

The scenario was based around the retreat of 1st Battalion of the 6th Fallshirmjager Regiment, on 7th June 1944. The 1st Battalion was all but destroyed. Though of course the rest of the Regiment went onto famously defend Carentan.( As re-created in 'Band of Brothers' (Episode 3) (well at least part of action to take Carentan)).N.B. The 3rd Battalion, 506th PIR was one of the blocking forces on 7th June 1944 which prevented the escape of the 1st Battalion, 6th FJR. 

Figures and terrain used are all mine. (Except some of the dice which belong to S.W.).

For a German view of the game go here-thesecretwargamer.