Rommel Crosses the Meuse
Fall of France #8
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||France (Defender)|
|France||18e Division d'Infanterie|
|France||5e Division d'Infanterie Motorisée|
|Germany||3rd Kradschutzen Battalion|
|Germany||5th Panzer Division|
|Germany||7th Panzer Division|
|Overall Rating, 15 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 80 of 560|
|Parent Game||Fall of France|
|Maps||2: 26, 29|
|Layout Dimensions||56 x 43 cm
22 x 17 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Fall of France||maps + counters|
Rommel's "ghost division" beat 5th Panzer Division to the Meuse, though not by much. Oberst Werner of 5th Panzer had come very close to capturing the bridge at Yvoir, but a few Belgian engineers blew it up just in time. At Houx, some kilometers farther south, a motorcycle unit discovered a small lock with and intact footbridge linking both banks of the river to a small island. these troops crossed the river at night to on May 12 (leaving their motorcycles behind) and set up defensive positions on the west bank. At dawn the next day, the main German assault across the Meuse began.
From the crossing point at Houx, German infantry slowly infiltrated the French lines and sowed confusion among the newly-arrived 39th Infantry Regiment. Meanwhile, just south of Yvoir, Oberst Werner made an amphibious assault across the river but was beaten back with heavy losses by French artillery and machinegun fire. Most of the boats were destroyed, and 5th Panzer Division had no choice but to brave heavy French artillery fire and concentrate its efforts on the Houx foot bridge. Eventually the already-weakened French 39th Infantry Regiment collapsed in the face of intensifying German infantry attacks, and by the end of the day the German bridgehead was deep enough to support a full-scale assault the following day.
|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 morale and combat modifiers of German Sergeant #1614 should be "0", not "8".
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME|
Perhaps it was the German entry choice, perhaps the unusual tenacity of the French, or maybe it was the higher-than-normal percentage of FOW-shortened turns. But the Germans, though making mincemeat out of the French defenders, were still several Board 29 town hexes shy of victory at the end.
The French started most of their troops in towns, with a few dug in at other places (the crossroads near the center of Board 29, a couple of spots adjacent to towns) and also in the woods in the southeast portion of the map, in the general area of the foot bridge. Under cover of darkness, the Germans spent the first few turns bringing eveyone on, digging some troops in along the southern stretch of river and at the extreme northern end, crossing as much as they could over the foot bridge, and emplacing the guns in the ridge-top village, while some INF/HMG mixes and the Panzers were further north along the steep ridge.
As the skies lightened and both sides could spot further for artillery - and as the eastern-river Germans could see further, enabling secure artillery activation (avoiding the communication troubles), the big guns also got into the action. Meanwhile the Germans belatedly began moving their panzers over to the river, where engineers were in place ready to help them cross. The PZ-IV got over immediately, but it was not until late in the game that the PZ-II crossed, and the PZ-III never got there.
Even with but one tank platoon, the German hordes made steady progress, grinding the French into powder (much of this done via assaults.) Meanwhile, Germn artillery pounded the five-hex town on the northern portion of Board 29, as did 2-hex range DF from a mixture of INF and HMG units. But French artillery was able to interfere time and time again with the German advance. And in one stretch, of perhaps a turn and a half duration, the French repeatedly passed morale checks with flying colors while the Germans kept getting DR'ed and DM-ed. The northeast "point" of the large town, in particular, held out like heroes in the face of repeatd pastings by OBA and three-hex DF (thanks to a centrally-located leader with a "2' fire rating.)
Still, the French wre overmatched - though two assault hexes where the only defenders were mortars held out for an amazingly long time (in fact, one was still in progress at game's end.) The German juggernaut rolled relentlessly on, taking out just under 50% of the French INF amd 11 od their 12 HMG steps. And the Germans did not even lose enough steps to impact their initiative! But at game's end, six town hexes still held out - four of those in the midst of assaults. A few more turns and the Germans probably would have won, but there wasn't enough time (even after I increased FOW to 17+ midway through the contest.)
The French played about as solid a game as they could. In retrospect, I think the two biggest German mistakes were (a) starting the tanks on the ridge, instead of bringing them on by the small bridgehead and having them begin their crossing attempst by Turn 3, and (b) emplacing the guns in the ridge-top town, where they were 3 hexes away from the nearest French (thus getting a -3 mod for firing at town hexes at a 3-hex distance.) They should probably have been dug in along the ridge at 2-hex range from the large town instead.
In any case, a very fun scenario, and a surprising result. I rate as a "4' because of the need to dig out something like 8 town hexes - not easily done at any time, but especially not in 1940.
Also - for the record - this was played solo. In my heart I was rooting for the Germans (after all, it is Rommel) but that obviously did not reflect my gameplay, since the French played their hearts out.
|Vowarts immer vorwarts|
I really enjoyed this scenario, an opposed river crossing. The Germans have about 4 battalions, including a company of armor and two companies of engineers, and must cross a major river against 3 battalions of French infantry defending wooded hills and some scattered villages. There is a footbridge across the river held by the Germans (a scenario special rule governs movement across the bridge) and a company of German infantry hold the far end of the bridge.
I set up the French in an extended line north to south in wood and towns just west of the river, including one entrenchment at a central crossroads. French MGs held a number of town hexes as well as the trenches.
The Germans entered from the east in battalion groups in the pre-dawn hours. Their engineers began crossing operations at two locations about 1 km apart. A French scouting force advanced on the zone of German operations to harass the crossing. It took about 2.5 hrs for the first sizable force of Germans to get organized west of the river, and they made a two-pronged advance against the French: through the wooded southern hills where they made rapid progress, and up the clear river valley to the north toward a larger town. The French in the south fell back in disarray from relentless German assaults, centering their second line of defense on a small town farther west.
In the north the Germans were stymied by a few French MG strongpoints that inflicted serious casualties on the Germans with each attempted advance. The Germans played aggressively, keeping up a constant pressure and making lots of flanking moves to claw deeper into French territory.
After 6.5 hrs, the Germans had failed to clear the French from the towns closest to the river, failing to achieve victory, while the French could claim a major victory for frustrating the German advance and inflicting heavy casualties.
|Tough on the French|
Despite getting some licks in early, this one was pretty tough for the French. Two factors, midgame, contributed mightily to the eventual outcome; the complete destruction of every French unit. 1) The Germans rarely failed a river crossing roll, so their progress was swift to say the least. The only units that were held up more than a turn were the trucks bearing AT guns and, even then, he got his first truck across in the first attempt. You cannot do anything about the dice. 2) As the French player, I did not close up on his newly-crossed units early enough. I should have been raining hellfire down on the lone infantry units to exit each river crossing, each turn. Due to the darkness I had to get adjacent to the German units and I resisted doing that for far too long.
Still, a good scenario with lots of units that remained close until the 2/3 mark.
What other scenario could be more iconic than the Meuse river crossing at Houx in May '40 ? The action is full of drama, tricky (German troops crossing in equilibrium on a small concrete lock) and brutal at the same time. The German troops I've led in this crossing have experienced a lot of trouble during the two thirds of the scenario duration : bad crossing dice rolls, bad morale dice rolls, tough Frenchies rolling low on morale and very slow going assaults. The advance through the high wooded hills was really painful and slow... And suddenly, with the sun rising, the French line was split in three small pockets and began to desintegrate. In a few turns succession the panzer III, the panzer II and eventually the panzer IV all crossed the river and soon added their power to the northern town assault. The French reluctantly resigned on turn 23. A big scenario with plenty of assaults and a lot of fun. Though, it seemed too pro-German to score a top '5'.
|Rommel get across the Meuse, takes Paris, wins the war but loses the battle|
Played over the last 6 months against Alan using Skype, this scenario depicts the iconic moment of the Battle of France when Rommel's troops cross the Meuse using a improvised bridge over a river lock to turn the Allies flank. This is a big scenario with both side having lots of INF, good OBDA the Germans though have three tank platoons and a plenty of ENG to build bridges and assist in town assaults at the end of the game. The French have no A/T capability but the VC for the scenario are pro French. My initial plan as the French was to advance and try and contest the small bridgehead that the Germans had thrown across the river at the start of the scenario, this plan failed as the German drove off the French forces with ease. The French then fell back and tired to create a sound defensive line to contain the growing bridgehead as by now German Eng had thrown a further bridge over the Meuse this line was breached as the sun came up, the road to the West was open. I then made my only good decision in the entire game I swung my whole force to the North pivoting on an entrenchment, which was still holding out on the river bank, to form a third line to protect the town where I planned to make a stand and win the game. This line was to trade land for time and drop back one hex a turn to avoid assaults but hopefully slowing the German juggernaut. The German commander saw what I was trying to do and tried to throw another bridge over the river to my rear but now the sun had fully risen and accurate artillery and MG fire foiled the move. Meanwhile to the south the French line buckled but did not break. However by now all the German AFV's were in action and the brave (ish) French INF line finally broke all the Germans had to do now was take the one town with French forces still intact and a well deserved victory would be theirs. Just before the assault I did though have chance to get my best leader a 11-1-2 Captain in to the rear of the town in order to assist with the morale of the garrison. As the Germans stormed the town there was furious hand to hand fighting the Boche were inflicting casualties on every town but those French just would not break and time was running out for Rommel. Finally the last turn arrived with just one hex in the town still holding out, the last assault went in with artillery also pounding away but all in vain as by game end one solitary ING platoon was still holding out shaken but not stirred. Well this was an excellent scenario, going down to the last GT made for a very tense situation. The VC do not allow for a draw, if the German side fails to gain their objectives then they lose, the fact that the German lost 14 steps to the French 40 plus is ignored. The last German assault was on the 30 col and Alan rolled a 6 he would have won, but as he only took one step which was my reduced unit my Captain Fantastic ensured the the remaining INF unit passed his M2 morale check with ease. Great fun if somewhat unhistorical.
|The river runs red|
The French established their defensive line along the river and in the woods near the German bridgehead. The initial darkness helped the German forces advance to the river unmolested. The French commander ordered his right flank to push the bridgehead back into the river. They had some initial success, even capturing the town adjacent to the German setup hexes. Unfortunately it took them long enough that the Germans were able to get more troops across, who started wearing down the French forces. Both sides rained down OBA into adjacent hexes, with only a few ineffective friendly fire incidents. The German engineers worked to create several other crossing points along the river, hoping that too many targets would lead to some success. In the end this worked, but a lot of German engineers died on the banks of Meuse at the hands of the OBA and HMG's as the sun rose and provided better spotting.
Rommel's troops were able to the roll the right flank of the French and pushed onto Board 26. This was helped greatly by an initiative roll that gave the Germans 3 activations which they used to hammer the French defenders. In hindsight they should have sent more troops North and crushed the French center, but they misjudged how stubborn the French would turn out to be. The Germans had good luck pushing through the forest, but paid dearly trying to clear the towns and roads with entrenched or dug in troops. The French had some fantastic "first fire" rolls on entrenched assaults and their OBA hammered the river crossings, or any Germans who moved to assault the northern town. The Germans made good use of the PZII, which was the first armor to cross the river. It was finally reduced during a town assault a couple hours into the battle. The other German armor eventually crossed the river and, when combined with an engineer, infantry and leader, started taking town hexes. The French were doomed, but not fast enough for the Germans to win. The river was hard to cross and the German attack was slowed as units could not clear the river, then were pounded by artillery and HMG's. Two of their trucks and AT guns spent several futile hours failing to get across. In the heavily contested center board area there were German infantry and HMG's who struggled with the same problem.
The French need to continually disrupt the Germans crossing the rivers, and watch for good opportunity fire chances. The Germans are forced to be aggressive from the beginning and need to coordinate combined arms assaults to clear the town, especially if the French resist the urge to assault back against the Germans sharing the town with them. A defensive posture and some good moral rolls (or strong leader if you draw well) can really slow down the German advance. Remember that the French are denying the towns and roads to the Germans, they do not have to attack or expose themselves unnecessarily. The German armor is pretty safe until it assaults, but that is a risk worth taking to make sure your attack does not bog down.