Monday, 26 February 2018

AAR: Operation Pomegranate, 17th July 1944 (Battle of Noyers, part 4)

Hi folks,

I posted yesterday (here) the player briefings for Sundays big game with 'The Old Guard Wargames Club' in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. I was pretty beat last night when I got home - but running a big game for 6 players will do that to you!

This game was the fourth in the series of linked games we've played (or at least, club members have participated in!). It started with (#1) 1/6th South Staffs of 59th Infantry Division, along with tanks of 144RAC's (33 Armoured Brigade) B Squadron attacking Brettevillette on the 16th of July, 1944.

We then played (2#) the attack by A Coy, 2/6th South Staffs and A Squadron 144RAC onto Point 126 and an attempt to reach Noyers Bocage itself.

We followed this with a night battle (#3), where 2/6th South Staffs were advancing to clear a start line for the next days fighting, while being counter attacked by 9th SS Panzer Division trying to regain control of Noyers railway station.

This game was therefore (#4)! 1/6th South Staffs attacking Noyers from the orchards to the north, while a company of 2/6th South Staffs attacked from the east.

The map for the game was set up using a mixture of the map above and an aerial recon photo I have from some files on 144RAC that were photographed for me at Kew.

Hopefully, if you compare the aerial photo above to the picture at the top of this blog, you should see some resemblance! Of course, as I have a 'mobile' setup, it's very difficult to get things exactly right, but I think it was pretty close!

The table was set up using my terrain, other than the table matt/cloth, which was borrowed from Dave D. Overall, I'm happy with the terrain, but as ever there are area's that need improvement!

For game rules, we were mainly using Flames of War v4 (with a few tweaks to fit the scenario and a more spread out German defence). Nice and easy for the guys to pick up and gives a decent enough approximation of the combat while keeping turns nice and short. Yes, there were a few tweaks to the rules, but I would have had to do this with any rules set.

I also had a system of off table artillery for both the Brits and the Germans. The Brits (who were the players, the Germans were deployed on a sketch map and only revealed when encountered) could activate 'random events' on the table, and collect the tokens to then spend on artillery or reserves.

The Brits were attacking from two directions - directly into the village, and up the map cross country. Both faced different challenges, and had various options. Angus led the company attacking into the village, along with Ian and Martin (who's account of the game can be found here). Pete, who hadn't played in these games before, led Roy and John in the across country attack. Both commanders decided that it would be a good idea to attack before dawn, so as to get 3 turns of darkness to close with the German defences. After some discussion, it was decided not to use a preparatory bombardment, and make use of stealth.

Everyone had a depleted infantry platoon (only 5 infantry teams, HQ, PIAT and Mortar) to account for the previous days casualties, along with a troop of only 3 Sherman's (only some of the Sherman troops had Firefly's, again taking into account the previous games casualties). Angus also had a Vickers MMG platoon and Pioneers, while Pete had a 3" Mortar platoon.

I'm afraid, what with running the game for everyone, I totally forgot about pictures for the first few turns!

The whole table, with British forces already advancing. Note that the table is more or less empty otherwise - the players have no idea where the German forces are, although at times they were given indications of areas of engine noise, or the general idea of where Mortar fire might be originating from. 

Angus' and his comrades move into the village, encountering a deep ditch (supposed to encourage the use of engineering assets, but they never asked for any!). Ian lost a platoon of infantry during this advance to fire from the houses while he was in the open. Martin got his platoon into the village, took out some 5cm A/T guns, but didn't get too aggressive. Angus fought a prolonged firefight with German troops in the stand alone dark grey building - using the Vickers as well. He took casualties and was pinned by heavy MG fire and artillery/mortar strikes. 

Pete's infantry closing on the hedge line. Some good night visibility rolls spotted a lot of the German units holding the line. However, this image probably shows the limits of Pete's infantry advance. This platoon stopped and failed to dig in, was pinned and then spent the whole game pinned. Roy, on his right, got random events which meant his troops were slightly drunk, which improved their HtH ability (too much Calvados). He skillfully used a ridge in the field to get close, and assaulted his way up the table. I think he killed more German units that anyone else with this one platoon. John was on the far right, and used his infantry and tanks carefully to get to the village and support Ian. 

German guns, deployed as per Dave's instructions! Carefully hidden behind the closest hedge. If the Brits had attacked in the daylight with their Shermans, things could have been very messy. 

88's and 2cm AA...

Infantry with MG42 in the barn, backed up by 2 Pak40's. 
The game moved pretty quickly, with the hedge line being breached and Pete's company's troops moving forward (with his own infantry cowering in the rear). I think Pete used about 1/4 of the counters on the table to try and kill the single 88 on this hedge line with artillery... Including multiple 25 pdr strikes, 5.5" gunfire and a strike by Typhoons!

Meanwhile, Roy took out the infantry, Mg42, Pak and another 88.... and got another 'Calvados stash' result, meaning he was hitting on 2+ and suffering a -2 penalty to shooting due to his troops inebriation. I think his Lieutenant might be in for a DSO or MC he can't remember earning.

Meanwhile... it looks quiet... too quiet...

German defenders are discovered, with a 5cm A/T gun and 2cm AA gun covering the road. The building on the left was also occupied by grenadiers with an attached HMG. 

Angus keeps moving forward!

The house of woe. Eventually, it would fall to the Brits - only for a 9th SS platoon to assault out of the nearby houses while MG42 fire killed the occupants (5 failed saves and I rolled 5 '6's' for firepower...). Much was the Brits disgust at losing the building they had fought so hard for. As a result, it got special treatment from some reinforcement 'Crocodile' flame throwers. 

Roy's assault about to go in, while John has penetrated the defences and found another 88. 
The difficulties in town fighting were soon apparent, with the Germans in buildings proving very hard to shift by normal rifle fire. German arty and mortar fire was also effective, killing Brits as they tried to move up to assault and pinning the units down - momentum was starting to be lost in the village.

Another view of Roy's platoon, about to charge the barn! - and the Shermans arrive, only for one of them to get knocked out by a Pak40.  The vulnerability of the Shermans to the Pak40's seemed to come as a bit of a surprise...

Pete's troops move backwards, away from the German 2cm AA and 88, while the Mortars arrive and deploy. 

88's view of the Shermans

Roys attack goes in! And finds another cache of Calvados... Roy takes out the infantry and Pak40 - the 88 crew leg it and abandon the gun (my call as umpire, they could do nothing to stop rampaging infantry). 

The firefight continues, although Shermans had now arrived. 

Once the armour game on, the Brits started to move forward a bit - I think Roy's determined assaults gave a clue as to the best way of shifting dug in Germans!

Unfortunately, allied armour wasn't the only armour in the area!

The StuG's had spent a lot of the game bailed, due to allied random events which specified the closest armoured vehicle became bailed - when they had no armour on the table! Trouble starting those engines, I suppose!

Typhoon attack on the 88's - spot the yellow 'smoke' with the platoons at the back! I was using skill checks for simple things, like the Typhoons identifying the target, and the Brits popping smoke to avoid being hit themselves. 

There were, at one point, a platoon of Grenadiers with an attached MG42, a platoon of 9th SS Panzergrenadiers with attached MG42 and a (depleted) grenadier platoon... with MG42... in this line of houses. As the defence here seemed stable, one platoon of grenadiers moved back through town to try and counter the British penetrations ealswhere. Using buildings for cover, the Brits lost track of them and believed them to be a new unit when they appeared again. As the units were in buildings and 'unspotted' other than through their firing, I didn't need to deploy them to the table until they became visible. Similarly, troops in the church never became visible, although they were firing out. 

German AA in the churchyard - who would later shoot down a Typhoon. The church contained a platoon of SS with MG42, a single MG42 which had fallen back from the grey building and joined them and an OP team in the church tower (who was never shot at until artillery hit the church). It must be one of the top 10 rules in Normandy - take out the church tower! 

British armour advances - encountering a Pak40 behind the buildings on the right, which bailed the Firefly. Ian's tank on the road between the buildings (far side of the town square) forgot there were Germans in the building to it's left, was bailed by a panzerfaust then destroyed by an assault by the infantry. Tanks in built up area's don't work well!
By this point in the game, the Brits well and truly had momentum. Infantry and tanks were getting into the town, and the cross country German defences had collapsed (mainly due to Roy's platoon assaulting it!).

Roy and John moving up to the 2nd hedge line. The Pak40 duel with the firefly can be seen here - the Brits had no idea what was in the field till the tanks parked alongside it - I had British recce as reinforcements, but none was requested - although Pete got some Stuarts while trying to get armour for his side. The Pak40 kept failing it's firepower check, so the tank was only bailed. 

The Croc's also arrived. 

German defences re-organising. Both StuG's died without achieving much. I did have Panzer IV's to bring on at a random point, but kept forgetting to roll for their arrival. Too caught up in the game! 

Brit armour moves in to hammer the church - there is actually a German Panzershrek team in the burnt out building on the right, but the game ended before they could fire. I think the Brits would have lost more tanks in another turn or two - there were German infantry AT assets still active in the town, and the Brit infantry wasn't really moving up with the tanks. 

The Vickers occupied the grey building - which must have been swiss cheese by this point!

British infantry penetrates the orchard from the country side of the board. The Pak40 is taken out in an assault by Roy and John's troops, while Roy's troops also send the fusilier platoon running.  
Then it was time to pack up. I think we can say that the Brits managed to secure the centre of the village with their armour - though I think they might have had a sticky time until the infantry got forward. Martin had infantry and Pioneers in the town, and Ian had infantry - but they were happy to let the tanks do the heavy lifting I think!

German Mortars had been dug in behind the church, but as their presence was never going to make a huge difference, I didn't deploy them in sight. If the game had played on, I would have!

A Typhoon strike killed a retreating Pak40, but one of the Typhoons was brought down by the AA in the churchyard. 

Roy's infantry got a 'lost' event, and went in the wrong direction... almost like they were drunk... I'm going to rename that event as 'contradictory/garbled orders' I think. 

Pete's OC and OP teams, trying to catch up!

The whole board, at the end!

Pretty pleased with the town, but I think it would have looked better with more setup time and a bit more greenery. Outbuildings and maybe some more houses are still on the cards... 

So that's it!

The players have done better than historically was achieved, but I think the defences historically were far tougher, with the recce battalion of 9th SS being committed to the fight, as well as armoured assets from 9th SS which included Panthers, StuG and Panzer IV's. German artillery and mortar fire was also more prevalent than I think I used. I think this was a tougher game for the players this time, but to their credit they used very few reinforcements and worked as a team. The empty battlefield really adds something!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and as players they were great fun to umpire for. Fingers crossed we can get something like this going again, although whether we continue with Operation Pomegranate or try something else, I don't know! Certainly, as a proof of concept for how I'd like to play historical based WW2 games in the future it worked well.

Thanks to Angus, Pete, John, Martin, Ian and Roy. Thanks also to Dave D for use of the matt! For more pictures, check out Martin's blog post!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Operation Pomegranate - Battle for Noyers part 4, Player briefing

Hi folks,

Battle report to follow, but here's a copy of the player briefing for yesterdays 4th game in the series. One little pick of the table, just to show whats coming!

Operation Pomegranate

Origins (History)

Operation Pomegranate (also known as the Second Battle of the Odon) was a series of operations fought by the British Army in World War II in mid-July 1944 against Panzergruppe West as part of the Battle of Normandy. Operation Pomegranate were intended to draw German attention away from the upcoming assault from the Orne bridgehead, codenamed Operation Goodwood. After four German infantry divisions arrived in Normandy, the objective was to prevent them from replacing German Panzer divisions deployed opposite the British Second Army for operations against the First US Army, which at the time was preparing to break out of the German defenses (Operation Cobra).

Strategic Plan

XXX Corps launched Operation Pomegranate on 16 July. The objective of 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division on the right is to capture Vendes and the surrounding area, in the center the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division is to capture the villages of Noyers-Bocage, Haut des Forges and Landelle and on the left the 53 (Welsh) Division is to attack, ready for the corps to advance towards the high ground north-east of Villers Bocage. 33rd Armoured Brigade is to support the efforts of 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division.

Tactical Plan – 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division, 17th July 1944, Phase IV

Phase I of the attack began at 05:30am on the 16th, with units of 177th Brigade supported by 33rd Armoured Brigade clearing their start lines and advancing. On the right, despite encountering stronger than expected resistance, which saw the leading units taking heavy casualties, 1/6th South Staffs supported by B Squadron 144 RAC have successfully captured their objective (the hamlet of Brettevillette and Quedeville). With this objective in Allied hands, 1/6th South Staffs then switched to the defensive to allow the Phase 2 forces to pass through.

On the left, 5th South Staffs, supported by C Squadron 144RAC, advanced to capture Les Nouillons. This attack ran into several unmarked friendly minefields, but achieved its objectives.

Phase II of the operation began at 1pm, with A Coy 2/6th South Staffs and A Squadron of 144RAC passing through Brettevillette to capture Pt 126 and Noyers Railway Station before pushing through to attack Noyers village from the North. At the same time C Coy 2/6th South Staffs, supported by available tanks from B and C Squadron 144 RAC, advanced from Les Nouillons and attacked towards Noyers village from the East.

Both attacks encountered heavy resistance and stopped short of the village as night fell.  Overnight, efforts by A Coy 2/6th South Staffs to secure a start line to the south of the Railway Station, for a morning attack by 1/6th South Staffs into Noyers, ran into a determined German counter attack, including Panzers and infantry from 9th SS Panzer. Despite muddled and at times hand to hand fighting, the German forces were beaten off and the start line secured. 

Today, 5th South Staffs will attack south towards Missy, securing Bas De Forges and Haut Des Forges. Despite yesterdays casualties, C Coy, 2/6th South Staffs are to continue the attack south west into Noyers itself, supported by B Squadron, 144RAC. B Coy, 1/6th are to attack south into Noyers, supported by A Squadron, 144RAC. Additional support is available from 79th Armoured Division.


The area around Noyers consists of large crop fields bounded by tall hedgerows. Orchards and sunken lanes are prevalent. Several enemy minefields were discovered and breached during the Phase II operation, further minefields may be encountered on approach to the village.

Known Enemy Forces

Infantry from the newly arrived 277th Infantry Division are confirmed to have taken up prepared defensive positions in the Noyers area. This Division has newly arrived in Normandy, and is believed to have been transferred from coastal defence duties in Southern France. Yesterday’s fighting has shown that they are heavily supported by dug in and concealed anti-tank guns - dug in infantry and machine gun positions also offered heavier than expected resistance. SS infantry units appear to be reinforcing German Army units. The enemy has deployed minefields as part of his defensive network.  Enemy Self Propelled A/T guns were engaged and destroyed during the fighting yesterday, as was a single Panther from 9th SS Panzer Division. Overnight, Panzers from 9th SS Panzer Division launched localised counter attacks. Several were knocked out, but intelligence places more in the area.


C Coy 2/6th South Staffs, supported by B Squadron 144RAC, are to advance from Les Nouillons SOUTH WEST across country and attack Noyers from the EAST.

B Coy 1/6th South Staffs, supported by C Squadron 144RAC, are to advance from PT126 SOUTH and attack Noyers from the NORTH.
As such, objectives will be:
  • The capturing of NOYERS church
  • The securing of the roads SOUTH and WEST from the village
  • Attrition of enemy forces, especially armoured elements

Points of Note
  • Preparatory bombardment will be available to support the attacks. A forward observer (FOO) from 116th (North Midland) Field Regiment has been attached to each company to provide fire support.
  • Both 177 Brigade and 197 Brigade are engaged in offensive operations today, demand for artillery support is expected to be high.
  • Enemy armour is known to be in the area, specifically PANZER IV’s and SP guns from 9th SS Panzer
  • The tanks of 144 RAC will be available at first light.
  • Specialist armoured support from 79th Armoured Division may be available to overcome enemy strongpoints and clear encountered minefields.  
  • The village is larger than anticipated. Both Companies will be required to secure it.
  • Be prepared for local enemy counter attacks, especially supported by enemy armour.
  • 5th South Staffs will be advancing to the SOUTH in a SOUTH WESTERLY direction – this does leave 2/6th South Staffs flank open until 5th South Staffs secures their objectives.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Finished!: 15mm Carts and scatter terrain

Hi folks,

I've been in full on prep mode this week, with my big game planned for Sunday. Lots of terrain stuff and documents to prepare, plans to make and models to sort out.

I've still a load of stuff I'd like to do, but I'm rapidly running out of time now so will just have to be happy with what I'll have ready!

This week, my entries for the challenge were a load of 'French' village vehicles from Irregular. Some carts of various sizes, a civilian truck and a car type thing:

I also finished off the last of my graveyard:

And update my older graveyard bases to have flowers and tufts as well.

I also (finally) did something with some irregular shaped MDF bases I had, which I have planned to use for small forests/stands of trees:

And finally I got some more the those little timecast gardens painted:

I've also drawn a sketch map of what the terrain will look like (ish) on the table, sorted out my forces for both sides, thought about special rules I will be using, typed up a briefing document and made sure I have unit stats ready... It's been hectic. Tonight I based a load of trees, finished painting some building additions made from MDF buildings I cut in half to allow me to put lean to's/extensions on houses, finished some more gardens off, painted a tank commander on one of my Croc's which I hadn't put a figure on... the list is endless!

Pics and such will follow the game on Sunday!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Finished!: 15mm Battlefront SS Nebelwerfers + Terrain

Hi folks,

Another busy week! For the Saturday bonus themed round ('Childhood') I went with some of my first SS infantry figures - 'children' from 12th SS Panzer Division:

As ever, you can vote for me by visiting the page here and looking for the voting panel on the right hand side (you'll need to turn desktop view on if your viewing via a phone or table, by clicking the link at the very bottom of the blog page I have linked).

These are standard Heer figures from Battlefront, who don't seem to make SS crew for their Nebelwerfers. I added green stuff to their helmets to make them the 'covered' SS style, and turned their normal jackets into the SS style ones by cutting off the shoulder straps.

I then painted a mish mash of SS camo on them. Plane Tree, Oak Leaf and Pea Dot:

Obviously, at 15mm scale as soon as your more than a foot from the models you can't see any of this, but I made an attempt anyway! I also went for a more camo'd launcher as well, rather than the usual yellow shade on my Heer launchers.

For my mid week entry, I focused on terrain for Sundays 'big' game, while working on the Nebs.

Some more 15mm buildings - theses are the more basic ones I had lying around. They look better painted up and will fit in with the rest of the town. The only downside is they have no 'levels' other than the roof coming off:

And some 15mm gravestones for my churchyard:

The grave stones came from Blotz and from a Ebay seller who does resin graveyard bits, such as the tombs and monuments. I mixed the lots together to give me some variety. I also decided to add some tufts just to match in more with my unit bases. Hopefully these look OK on the table! I've a few more to finish off.

This week I'm working on some village scatter terrain, prep for Sundays game and have not long since finished proof reading my sisters next book!