maandag 28 december 2009

The Battle for Hechtel

Slightly later than promised a week ago, but here are some pictures from this demo game played at the Fallen Angels meeting.

This was the weather on arrival, when we left there was up to 5-6 inches of snow on the cars.

Being there waaaaay before everyone else we had all the time and place to set up our table.

Looking at Hechtel from the south-east, the crossroads of dirt tracks to the front of the picture would become my battleground for the rest of the day.

As you can see on the picture above, even before all the houses and hedges were added, it was a big table (6 by 8 feet), covered with loads of scenery. The British enter along the western and southern edges. Being in charge of the southern command, I covered the main road from Hasselt to Eindhoven and the dirt roads with my small forces: an AT gun, a couple of squads and a MG unit and one SPAT vehicle for both of the approaches. All dug in of course and invisible to the enemy at the start of the game.

The Brits after their opening move

The Brits decided to throw everything in the south through the dirtroad crossing which was regarded as the weak spot (the main road had some wire obstacles and a small minefield as well). So it would be 4 Shermans, Eight squads in carriers, an AT gun and a recce unit vs my AT gun, MG, 2 squads and a JPzIV lurking to the back. My troops waited till they could see the whites of their eyes, so all I did was call in mortar fire through my HQ, knocking out two carriers. They would have a long way to walk...

The Brits moved their tanks into a firing line and parked the carriers in a nice row on the road. My AT gun opened fire, knocking out another carrier. Other than a little fire support from a Grille that pinned a squad, nothing much was happening yet.

After pouring a ridiculous amount of firepower over my AT gun (14 dice in a single activation and not a single hit) they at last kill it. Ah well, it did its job as speedbump admirably.However, opportunity fire from the MG in the farm had driven the suppressed squad back into his HQ, meaning that next turn he wouldn't be able to give any orders.

Two turns (and some shopping) later the Brits destroyed the farmhouse with loads of tank fire, killing the MG unit. So now I'm left with two infantry squads (that are still not known to the enemy) and a lone JPz. That one did kill its first Sherman after some long range duelling.

So the Brits hadn't gotten anywhere till now and the first reinforcements coming from neighbouring Eksel started arriving near the front line, taking positions along the road to Peer.

After a couple more turns, this is the situation in my sector at the end of the game. My two infantry squads had survived, the one in the front despite all the fire the British poured into it. Together with the support of the Grille, they killed a few enemy squads. My lone JPzIV had knocked out three of the four Shermans and was now reinforced by a Jagdpanther. This sector would become a sideshow as the real battle would be beginning in the north as well (if we hadn't run out of time). The reinforcements sent to cover the Hechtel-Peer Road would be able to turn their attention north, making it very difficult for the Brits to take the town quickly enough as not to interfere with the Market Garden timetable.

I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the battle. The small area and minimal forces at my disposition were not a drawback, after all this was a key point in the battle. Had the Brits broken through the line then my friend on the western side of town would have found enemy troops to his rear. I really look forward to being able to play the full battle one day, with the northern front opening up as well. We did manage only ten of nineteen turns planned to depict this six day battle.

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