Some games revolve around a single dice role. This was one of those games. After writing this scenario I stumbled upon an excellent blog post about the fighting of the Second Battalion 501st PIR at Bizory, Belgium in December 1944 and January 1945. I decided to base the game on the events of the 20th December 1944 when a mechanised German force, supported by heavy armour, smashed into the defenders of Fox company. The map below is from that blogpost and it shows an area to the east of Bastogne.
As you can see Fox Company was positioned just north of Bizory and suffered the brunt of the German assault. In ou 1250pt game I commanded the US Paratrooper force that was made up of three plattons of Paratroopers and a single platoon of PIR Engineers. Pádraic’s had a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier force with two mechanised platoons supported by three Panzer IV Hs and three StUGs. As we were playing the No Retreat mission I had to keep two platoons in reserve and one in ambush, meaning I started the game with just one platoon on the board. The German’s had the benefit of a Preliminary Bombardment (which effects platoons on the board and those in ambush), but was mostly ineffective.
Once the artillery died down the sound of German engines could be heard approaching from the east. Above is the sight my sole platoon had as the remained in a copse of wood protecting an objective. The German vehicles were hampered slightly by the snowy conditions and the poor light, but they trundled forward at a steady pace. I sprung my ambush of PIR Engineers on the right flank, inflicting significant damage to one of the Grenadier platoons, but ultimately the ambushers fled back to the edge of Bizory (depicted by a few buildings and a small intersection in the road).
Quite quickly my Paratroopers in the wood (augmented with the Company Commander, 2iC and two additional bazookas) were facing the bulk of the German force. The all attacked and initially pushed the Paratroopers back out of the wood. On the right the under strength Grenadiers kept pushing towards the Engineers, ultimately wiping them out and taking up position on the edge of the town.
The counter attack around the objective was quite successful, destroying three Panzers and killing one or two Grenadier teams. Their success was short lived and the platoon fled as the Germans pressed their assault. The sole survivor did manage to evade the pursuing enemy.
With both forces down a platoon one of my reserve PIR platoons moved to assault the Grenadiers (and Company Commander) who had occupied the edge of town. The German’s hit them with a withering hail of fire, but failed to halt the assault. The PIR proved too strong for their enemy and destroyed them.
As Pádraic would start this turn in possession of an objective all he had to do was pass that Company Morale check. This tight game was going to come down to whether he could roll 4+ on a D6. He rolled six and the Germans won the encounter. At this point in the game we had forgotten an important rule – forces that have their Company Commander destroyed can’t pass a Company Morale check. Doesn’t really matter as it was an excellent game. I seem to enjoy Flames of War whether I win or lose!
Until next time,