Elsenborn Ridge #5
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||United States (Attacker)|
|Germany||12th SS “Hitler Jugend” Panzer Division|
|Germany||277th Infantry Division|
|United States||2nd "Indianhead" Infantry Division|
|United States||741st Tank Battalion|
|United States||99th "Battle Babies" Infantry Division|
|Overall Rating, 11 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 62 of 588|
|Parent Game||Elsenborn Ridge|
|Maps||2: 24, 25|
|Layout Dimensions||86 x 28 cm
34 x 11 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Elsenborn Ridge||maps + counters|
The initial failures in the northern sector did not bode well for the German offensive. The roads had to be opened for the panzer divisions to meet their very ambitious objectives. Knowing it would weaken his drive later, corps commander Hermann Preiss ordered some of his tanks forward to assist the volksgrenadiers; if the American lines could not be breached, there would be no use for the panzer forces later. Meanwhile, the Americans had received tank and infantry reinforcements of their own and were determined to restore their lines.
The American and German attacks crashed into each other, generating surprise on both sides and saying little for either's scouting and preparation. The German attack had greater numbers behind it, and once a battalion of Panther tanks joined the fight they pushed the Americans back. But the Germans were still far behind schedule.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|2 Errata Items|
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The reduced direct fire value of the SS HMG is 5-5 in Beyond Normandy and Road to Berlin.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
|99th loses again|
This is complementary report to Vince Hughes play. This was played over a course of several session using a Skype connection
The American 99th Division was one of the divisions that were green and had the unlucky misfortune of taking the early German assault of the Bulge. This scenario shows how they faired. They had plenty of troops, OBA, but only fair morale. The Germans are better in morale and tanks. Both sides setup in a meeting engagement stance and have to race forward to capture key terrain before the other one.
For the details of the battle, I defer to Vinces AAR. He has detailed the action very well. I will add a few notes about my strategy. The Americans need to attack and be aggressive to kill German steps early in the game because once German Panthers arrive this will tip the balance of power. From the beginning I had a tough time maintaining an aggressive attack and had to rely on OBA to inflict most of the damage. Dice rolls and very good German commander limited my ability to get the American infantry into positions to assault his units particularly his armor. American AT is good but it will have to deal with thick German armor and the shots will have low odds of getting kills on most tanks. I was lucky with one AT shot to knock out some of his StugIIIBs. In the end the weight of the German Panthers tipped the VP count toward the Germans and the American's did not have the resources to counter the strong German attack.
As far as the scenario goes, this is a very good scenario for face to face or Skype play. Both sides have a plenty of troops and choices, but they will also find themselves limited by the strengths of the other side forcing you to think differently about how to win. It is a tough scenario, but well worth a play.
|Hitler Jugend And Panthers Secure Slug-Fest German Victory|
Another Classic Battle Around Elsenborn Ridge
This battle was played head-to-head via Skype or VoiP with Alan Sawyer in The States. It will be worth reading any AAR he appends so as to get the view from both camps
This battle is all about inflicting step-losses, capturing roads and town hexes. The US is given ample OBA and therefore it can be surmised that any troops remaining in the open are going to get well and truly pounded. Up their sleeves, the Germans have a number of Panther Tank reinforcements expected mid-game onwards. The German infantry are a mix of highly motivated SS and less gung-ho Volksgrenadiers.
The German plan was to get men up and dig-in on the ridge overlooking the town. These would be made up of the 12th SS Hitler Jugend supported by 80% of the OOB HMG's. I presumed I'd have to use the SS as the Volksgrenadiers and their lower morale would melt away and such serios bombardment. Instead, the V'Grens would be occupying the woods behind as a reserve force and counter-attack option when and if the need arose. Whilst holding the ridge, the Germans planned to use their OBA to bombard the enemy and with their initial tank force try and engage the enemy armour when advantageous. Also, they'd grab any road hexes leading from the hill. Hopefully, by the time the Panthers arrived, the Germans would be in a position to counter and capture far more having competed equally with the US up to that point?.
The Battle Report
As mentioned in the scenario preamble, the 277th Volksgrenadiers received some extra help in the shape of some StuG’s and JagdPanzers, as well as 4 coys from the 12th SS Hitler Jugend. These reinforcements would be the ones that would lead the attack ahead of the far more brittle 277th Volksgrenadier Division. They planned to occupy a long ridge ahead of the town to use as a firebase but knew they’d be racing there against US forces arriving from the US 99th Inf.Div. The 12th SS would then try to inflict as many casualties on their enemy after digging in whilst they awaited expected Panther support a few hours hence. They would also, in turn be supported and backed up by a strong bank of HMG support to sweep the ground ahead whilst the less enthusiastic Volksgrenadiers would hold back as reserve in the woods behind with the intention to surge forward later in the battle for the expected breakthrough by the Panthers.
For their part, the US forces themselves pushed forward and unsurprisingly took a very small village on the very rise that the SS wished to occupy. They also occupied (set-up in) the objective main town too as well as a light wooded area on their own left flank. As the Americans advanced on the small hill village, they were also supported by some very ample artillery modules as well as a local mortar company. At 0645, after 45 mins of battle, the Americans, now occupying the small village had already inflicted around a 100 casualties on the young SS soldiers, mainly through their artillery bombardments but also against the enemy infantry probes at the village. But it was around this time the Germans hit back. They too had artillery support, albeit not as numerous, but it began to hit its targets. Also, the HMG line had began to lay down a strong fire at the Americans. The Germans had also tried to counter the US advance on the small hill village and this led to a platoon of M4’s being destroyed by the German JagdPanzers during a mini-battle that raged around the village and accounted for more infantry casualties to both sides. Losses were now counting 150+ casualties each and with this, the Germans retired their attack on the village at 0730.
Now the SS Grenadiers concentrated in digging-in on the hill and securing the road that led from it into the main town. All the while, the US artillery continued to thunder down on them. It may not have caused many further casualties, but it was interdicting any free movement by the Germans as they feared moving out in the open. This jostling for advantageous ground continued over an hour or so with the casualty count mercifully slowing accordingly. Around 0830, one young SS Obersturmfuhrer was sent off on a mission to sneak through the US lines and call down the German OBA in on the town. After surviving some hair-raising fire and ducking out of the way of enemy tanks, the Ostfr. found a vantage point to view the enemy positions. What he saw was the enemy mortar company firing merrily and unscathed from the rear of the town. What he did not see was the US Lieut.Col’s HQ nearby. The Ostfr. called in a number of artillery strikes. Initially only harassing the mortars and disrupting their business, he eventually called one in that was bang on target. One mortar platoon was destroyed and the others put out of action for a while. More importantly, the Regimental Lt.Col was also killed in the strike and this led to 30 minutes inertia from the Americans in and around the town as command and control had temporarily broken down.
Meanwhile, up in the hill village, the GI Captain up there had bravely set up a company to defend the location, including a platoon of HMG’s. These held their positions despite the infrequent German fire attacks and thus were able to be used as a good spotting point on most German positions. The battle was now centralizing around the open ground in front of the hill. Neither side launched an attack but had both entered a firefight exchange. In general, the GI’s got the worst as the German artillery now pounded their fox-holes and the German HMG’s drilled down bullets on them too. American casualties had certainly ballooned in the battle after a decent start, and by 1000 hours, no less than 335 men plus 4 tanks (17 step equivalents) had become casualties. German losses were also high, 250 in all (10 step equivalents) and most of them the youths from the SS. They were certainly reaping the seeds of their keenness and high morale as the German commander continued to use them to hold the line rather than the Volksgrenadiers.
Perhaps sensing the ebb of the battle, the new Major now in charge of the US troops had an M4 platoon and some infantry in the before mentioned woods on their left flank advance tentatively. An SS Stg platoon eyed this and countered by moving to the hill ridgeline. The Germans luck in sighting the enemy tanks paid dividends when the StG’s unleashed a few 75mm shells at the Shermans. With only one volley, all four US tanks were ablaze. Some of the GI’s rushed forward towards the StG’s braving all kinds of enemy fire. One platoon, having to get up the ridge at these tanks managed to get close enough to engage them. Two of the Stg’s in the platoon, were knocked out, but the German AFV fire and other supporting elements made sure to wipe out the courageous American assault. The remaining StG’s departed to the rear of the hill much demoralized and licking their wounds. They did not return to the fray.
About 1030 hours, events really changed for the worse as far as the American cause was concerned. Up the road the heavy clanking of metal wheels and tracks could be heard. That noise represented 20 SS Panthers (5 x platoons) entering the battle in support of the attack. These behemoths wasted no time in attacking the most stubborn of the American line…. That Hill village. The Panthers also brought a new wave of activity from both sides and once more, casualties would start clocking up as the battle was revitalized by the new German offensive action. The Panthers headed straight for that pesky village held by the Captain and his men. Following on the Panthers tails, and with a final rush of orders issued in frantic German, a Volksgrenadier company poured out of the woods 800m distant of the village, but heading right at it. How relieved were the remnants of the young Hitler Jugend Grenadiers when they looked down the hill behind them and saw what was heading their way in relief?
The battle for the village was fairly swift but bloody. US OBA screamed down on both the Volksgrenadiers and the remaining SS infantrymen. Once again, chaos and casualties were caused as German officers struggled to keep a cohesive infantry attack moving forward. But the Panthers were brutal. They too received some artillery support and they succeeded in overrunning outlying foxholes and their contents as they closed in on the village. Then, when about a 100m distant, the Panthers unleashed powerful HE and MG fire at the village defenders. This heavy concentration of firepower finally demoralized the Captain’s men and seeing that, two platoons of Panthers rolled into the village to finish the job. These were unsupported by infantry due to them being pounded and shot up. The panthers made short work of the desperate GI’s hiding out in the village buildings. The village had been taken within 15-20 minutes of the tanks entering it as were other outlying fox-holes as well.
Seeing the line being crushed like this was enough for the US commander. There would be no sense in trying to stave off these monsters with what was available, and it was a sure thing that the next target for the Panthers was going to be the main town. Even his 3” AT guns there were now disrupted and had so far failed to penetrate the Panthers armour with long-range shots anyway. This battle, despite the sacrifice was now a US loss. On the stroke of midday, the US forces called it and began their withdrawal. The attack along Elsenborn would continue for the Germans but how long and how many stubborn enemies like this could they go up against?
The butcher’s bill read as follows : US – 562 men and 8 tanks, (32 step equivalents), German – 475 men and 2 tanks (21 step equivalents).
Summary of scenario
This was an exciting scenario to play indeed, especially head-to-head like this. On a personal note the plan had pretty much gone as I desired, though the SS Grenadiers had been decimated following the plan through ! 14 out of 16 steps had become casualties. But they held that line for the required 18 or 19 turns before the Panthers arrived and had also managed to see through their side inflicting even more casualties on the enemy. Once the Panthers came on, the full elan of attack falls to the Germans and the most should be made of it in conjunction with OBA support, aggressive, brave but of course not reckless !
Sorely tempted to give this a 5 rating due to the excitement and definately the fun had. But I'll stay my hand and record it as a 4 probably because it perhaps lacks that something special and memorable in the way of special rules and is mainly a heavyweight slugging match with little oppurtunity for too much finesse or manouvre.
|American defense in depth|
Instead of a collision the American task force never left board 24. They garrisoned the town, the farm in 1105 and the light woods to the NE of town where two companies dug in.
The SS assaulted the farm while the slower VG positioned to attach the woods. It took some turns to clear the farm with some nasty casualties on both sides and a platoon of StuGs getting shot up bad. The remaining assault guns were redirected toward the woods travelling behind the hill as the US had the 3" guns in the town with good line of sight. Shermans in the woods retreated at the sight of advancing assault guns and the woods were the scene of another bloody infantry fight. At this point as the US commander, I would retreat as two full companies had been lost and declared this a German win. The Panthers would be in the battle zone in an hour or so and I couldn't see how the 99th could hold that town. I had already sent a company up the hill behind to dig in as a back stop.
This is a pretty balanced fight and appearance of the Panthers will tip it over the edge if it gets that far. I pulled the plug around 9:15 and had even been brave enough to put the Jdgpz IV's on the hill in clear view of the 3" guns. However, if they were to fire, this would provoke certain artillery fire. Shame it was really over before the panzers could get involved! All the Shermans survived and were more of a threat.