The Iron Line: South
Fall of France #18
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||France (Defender)|
|France||1re Division Marocaine|
|Germany||4th Panzer Division|
|Overall Rating, 10 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 44 of 565|
|Parent Game||Fall of France|
|Layout Dimensions||43 x 28 cm
17 x 11 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Fall of France||maps + counters|
The Germans had launched two attacks on the railway line at Gembloux on May 14, and both times the Moroccans holding the line had rebuffed the Master Race with ease. So the next morning, the Germans ruined a magnificent sunrise by sending in a flight of Stukas to pour loads of bombs into the Moroccan lines. Soon afterward, the tanks and infantry of the 4th Panzer Division attacked in much greater numbers than they had the day before. But the French artillery got the jump on their German counterparts, silencing the enemy guns and depriving the pioneers of the covering fire they'd need to push through the railway obstacle.
The German tanks joined the fray far too soon and French heavy artillery, minefields and well-situated anti-tank guns wreaked havoc in their ranks. Squad leader Louis Brindejonc commanding one of the 25mm AT guns claimed seven German tanks that morning. More brilliant commanders and simple soldiers lost their lives near the terrible sunken railway before the tanks retreated and another wave of Stukas was called in at 1030 hours. The German infantry continued to assault alone, and at a high price in men and machines they successfully infiltrated the railway station at Gembloux, once the Germans figured out there was no way they could dislodge the Moroccans from there. By noon the French forces had lost seven entire sections in numerous close assaults, but the counterattack to restore their line was ready for launch.
This scenario may retro fitted with the Moroccan Division counterset.
This one of the scenarios shows the Moroccan Division at the peak of its fighting prowess, as such Dr. Bennighof suggests using ESC to replace INF used to represent Moroccan infantry. (Special note: Marocain HMG units have a Movement factor of 2.)
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|1 Errata Item|
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
|Perhaps The Ultimate Test of PG Endurance - Those Scared of House-To-House Need Not Apply !|
This game was played over Skype with regular opponent Wayne Baumber. It was chosen via our random system of choosing a game and I think what we actually played compared to what we first saw took us both by surprise. This is shown as a 1 board game but is in effect a 1/2 boarder, and yet on this 1/2 board will fight around 130 counters !! Add to this that about half of this 'half' board are town hexes, and we can now deduce that we are in for a hum-dinger of a town-battle. What followed were 4 sessions or so of hard core, in for the long-haul house to house fighting with up to 15 assaults on-going near the final stages. Add to that an abundance of artillery and the recipe is there for carnage, hard-graft and long drawn out melees ! Read on :-)
As senior officer in charge of the attack on Gembloux I was unhappy at what I was being asked to do even before the start of the attack. Gembloux presented a solid town front on a 2km width with no cover for us on the approaches. A simple scan through the binoculars showed that the French had defended this line with a skillful tactical knowledge. Their MG teams were well placed for maximum effect and cross-fires along the line whilst supporting their infantry. AT guns were placed in cunning protected locations making them very hard to get at and nullifying our tank support for fear of carnage. The French were also dug-in to the northern flank as well as manning railway embankments and roadblocks. Finally, minefields had been laid by the enemy on both their northern and southern flanks. I was being asked not just to break this line, but also to make large incursions into Gembloux itself, meaning house-to-house fighting was inevitable. And all this was apparently required to be achieved within a 6 hour time frame. Despite my protestations of the losses expected, the orders remained in place. I would be assigning my trusted Lt.Col Leonidas to lead the regimental attack. With a heavy heart, I bade him well.
Things did not begin very well at all for our troops. 0900 hours and the Stukas from our Luftwaffe’s attacks had proved absolutely ineffective. I therefore determined to group our MG units on our left flank (south). These were ordered to send in a heavy fire at selected locations so as to weaken resistance at these points and make our infantry’s approach less deadly to them. I knew of course that these MG units would come under severe artillery bombardment that the French possessed and therefore I placed in charge one of my best Hauptman’s to lead and inspire them. Meanwhile, about 500m to the front of Gembloux was a long wooded area. This would be the main jump off point for infantry at a later point, but for now, a main thrust would be directed to the southern part of the French-Moroccan line. By using some infantry to carry out feints and draw fire from the African lackies and mercenaries, our troops were slowly able to get close to the southern town edge, albeit still under fire. This was for the best as it made French artillery use far more conservative for fear of hitting their own. Engineers also accompanied to assist in the minefields but they suffered nasty casualties as the French artillery bombarded them during their work. By about 1000 hours, our troops were engaged in some close house-to-house fighting at these points and progress was slow. The same tactics were used further up the line and one by one, incursions were made into the outskirts of Gembloux. However, the French artillery, though not as effective as it may have been was still seriously hampering efforts by disrupting our infantry’s forward thrusts. But we had pierced the line in about 3 or 4 places by 1030 hours with surprisingly slim losses (4 steps).
The next stage of the battle between 1100-1230 was much more deadly for both sides. The French-Moroccan defenders were forced to shuffle their resources about the town in order to plug holes being created in the front line. This then finally allowed German panzers and men to probe newly vacated or thinned out parts of the line, especially where enemy AT had been demolished and again, small local battles were formed. A struggle for primacy on the whole perimeter of Gembloux had developed. Beyond the perimeter a German platoon or two had captured a road block at the southern end of the town and were trying to keep this open in order to let more of our troops pass through and beyond into Gembloux. Things were getting bloody here as both sides did whatever they could to cut down intruding enemies. More Germans had also made some progress at the northern end of the line near the railway embankments. This was more diversionary than it was a full-thrust and it managed to tie down some of the Frenchmen that could have been used elsewhere, though it also cost the Germans a few casualties too.
The main probe continued to be in the south and our men were now working their way through some blocks of the town. It was a very slow business and equally debilitating to both sides. The casualties by this time had risen to 19 steps each, and the Germans were struggling to find avenues that would allow them to quickly throw in much needed reinforcements into the important assaults. But Lt.Col Leonidas was at the vanguard of the German thrust, leading the front tip of the schwerpunckt as our troops toiled forward. Like his names-sake of Thermopalye, his leadership was what pushed our troops through the enemy when chance allowed. By 1215 hours the breaches in the French line were quite numerous but they kept finding troops that could plug them. Our leading elements were running out of steam too and more troops would be required for another thrust into the town. The more they had progressed, the thinner the schwerpunkt became. The Germans would need to plump up the head of the attack to give it back some punch. With two and half hours left in the allocated time frame, this is what the Germans would try to do before launching a final burst for their objectives. Between 1230-1300 hours, the Germans attempted exactly this. They slowly fed troops into the attritional town fighting attempting to gain a decisive numerical advantage. The ploy was working, but not at pace. However, the Moroccans were being wore down with the intensity of the town fighting. In no less than 13 blocks, assaults were in progress. Over this 45 minute period, French losses had started to mount, though the panzers had also suffered some hits to the troublesome 25mm AT guns.
Our troops were pushed to their final gasping limits to finally stretch that thinning French line, and stretch it did. At last, at 1330 hours, a platoon of PzIV’s finally burst through into the open and undefended suburbs of the town. Moving at speed through Gembloux, the French now tried to send a scratch force of troops to chase them down. Once this occurred, German efforts in various other sectors finally began to neutralize the enemy. Then, once a block was neutralized, this freed up more troops to help in the areas of resistance. We had sadly to lose some of our tanks in these final stages of the operation, but, against my feelings earlier that morning, our troops were finally getting the upper-hand. By 1345 hours, both sides were throwing their final efforts at their enemy but further French resistance was both pointless and ultimately fruitless.
At precisely 1400 hours, a white flag could be seen fluttering from the town hall. These Colonial troops had surrendered and this side of Gembloux had been invested by the Germans. At the time of surrender, casualties were French 36 steps (& 8 leaders) German 25 steps (and 2 leaders) though the doubling of AFV’s took German step-equivalents to 32 steps. Around 10-11 blocks were still being contested, but Germans controlled perhaps 8-10 blocks and the French perhaps 5 or 6. There was no strength remaining for a French counter-attack and the German win had certainly been hard won.
This has been my third Fall of France Battle and all three have involved high numbers of counters in what I would determine as real-toughie scenarios. How the Germans (despite winning here) managed to take France in 6 weeks if the French always fought like this is beyond me ? On the scenario itself, I rate it a '4'. It will stay long in my memory for the toughness of the initial advance through fire & shell, then breaching minefields and going into so many assaults and more than I have ever encountered before in one game. Truly memorable ! That said, I will concede that I don't think such a scenario would be everybodys cup of tea. There is little in the way of manouvre at all but rather getting your opponent to be brow-beaten down with the sheer intensity of the town fighting.
|PG marathon slog!|
This was played against Vince over Skype. Played over only half a board, this was out most intense PG action since we started playing. I won't cover the actual play of our game for this I will refer the reader to Herr Hughes accurate if slightly rose tinted AAR. When I mark PG scenario's my guidelines are was the game memorable, was it balanced enough to keep both players interested and was it fun. This scenario was memorable and reasonably balanced and we had fun at times. It is also hard work with large stacks in a congested board, assaults which will last for many turns and will result in lots of low level morale checks, hence the 4 rating. Both Vince and I are amazed that so far this scenario has only seen German victories, I believe that this is very winnable as the French and while not bemoaning my luck if the early French shooting had been more accurate before the Germans closed into close combat and a slightly better set up in regards to the A/T guns then this battle could well have had another outcome. That said the German commander was on top form using assaults to tie down troops and also to advance through the French lines, once those Panzer's are in your rear there is little the French player can do! This scenario is hard work, good fun and recommended for the more experienced player.
|Holding out at the Iron Line-South|
Setup-French: 0510- 45mmAPX, HMG, S-Lt. 0508, 0608- Two INF and a 25mm in each, with a LT. and Capt. in 0508, a LT. Col. in 0608. 0710- Two INF, HMG, a LT. 0711- 25mm, INF, HMG, Capt. and Lt. 0611- Two INF, 20mm, S-LT. 0612- Two INF, HMG, Lt. 0613- Two INF, 25mm, Capt. 0614- Two INF, HMG, Comm. 0615- Two INF, 75mm, Col. and Capt. 0616- Two INF, HMG, Comm. 0712- Two INF, S-LT. 0714- INF, HMG, LT. 0716- Two INF, SGT. 0813- Mortars, SGT. Minefields, a Decoy in 0511, a 1 in 0512, 2's in 0513, 0517, and a 3 in 0516. The German strategy was to break through in the center and N, and have ENG's clear the mines on the South before the reinforcements. The tanks would push forward, and any that were destroyed could be replaced with the reinforcements.
Turns 1-4- The Germans enter and move up to the French line. 2 AFV step losses are taken, and the German forces are slowed on the hill and in the S, where the ENG's are disrupted by OF. In the Center, the Germans move quickly, not as much effected by the OF. Artillery on both sides is inffective, as it will be throughout the game. The French are shaken, but still hold their ground.
Turns 5-8: The Germans capture the two 40 meter hill hexes by assault, forcing the French out with compound demoralizations. In the Center the French repulse the first line of Germans, and the mine fields keep the Germans from surrounding them. The ENG's are forced to retreat, and the PzIV is destroyed in an assault. Soon the French replace the two half stepped units in the middle, and are prepared for the second line of Germans, led by the first half of reinforcements, arriving on turn seven. The two S prongs in the town combine to attack the two hex wide gap in the mine fields. Artillery exchanges claim two steps losses on both sides.
Turns 9-12: More assaults in the town, with the second half of the German reinforcement coming on, but again the French repulse them, with amazing die rolls for them, and horrible die rolls for the Germans. The Germans take the town on the hill, but only after the 45APX retreats in the wagon. The French continue to pour down artillery, but little effect on the units in the town: the same with the German artillery.
Turns 13-20: In the Center, the Germans finally break through in the North of the two hex gap, but French reserves come up to stop them before they can get units through the opening, on turn 17, the French counterassault, and within two turns, push the Germans back. The ENG's try to clear mines again, but amazingly are stopped by the French ART. The German tank numbers have gone down due to assaults, and slowly the German force in the town loses steam. In the hill, the 45APX claims one last tank before German ART destroy it. The assaults on the sunken railroad begin, but French first fire claims more German step losses, forcing the German to reconsider trying to take the railroad. German ART does destroy the 20mm in the town.
Turns 21-24: In the final hour of the game, the French rally their troops and push back the scattered Germans further into the heart of the town, capturing three more town hexes. In the South the ENG's fail to clear any mines, and destroyed in the end by DF from adjacent French units. On the Iron Line in the North, the Germans win one assault, but the other two are lost, and the French make a quick effort to retake to hamlet on the hill, but run out of time. Soon the game is over and the French scored 11 more VP's than the Germans, due to the high number of tanks destroyed, and win the day.
|Brick (Red) Wall|
I decided to play this one to break out the Moroccan Division set. I expect that the German infantry would have rather I did not.
A regiment of Moroccans with a lot of AT guns, holds a frontage of merely 2/3 of a board against a regiment of Germans supported by a whole passel o' tanks. The objective is to take town hexes and destroy the opposing forces. While the Germans do have all those tanks they don't have the French artillery which provides for the ability to do a whole lot of damage as there simply isn't enough cover for the Germans to array their forces safely.
I actually played this one twice as I missed the restriction on the boards the first time through but the result, even with a lot more maneuvering room for the Germans was almost identical. The Germans can take some town hexes as they can (for a time) enter into some assaults with three column shifts (leader, combined arms and engineers). The cost, however can be prohibitive. They simply cannot cause the level of losses that they will have to sustain and ultimately the losses in infantry will be so severe that the armor will be exposed and then it all goes downhill fast.
Play this one solitaire as it is not really competitive (especially if using the Moraccan set as it provides for an upgrade to the French infantry component by substituting ESC for INF. The extra firepower is not critical but does make a difference on opportunity fire). It is interesting to think that this is precisely the war that the French high command thought they would be fighting. It is the war that would have ensued had the German operational plans not have fallen into Belgian hands in January