Konflikt 47 Battle Report: The Battle for Brussels

APR/MAY 1945 – OPERATION NEWPORT

Operation Newport, launched at the end of April 1947, was the Allied answer to Operation Watch, Germany’s latest offensive in the West attempting to cut Allied forces in two between the Ardennes and the Atlantic coast. The operation saw the first wide-scale deployment of Allied rift-tech and although successful in the recapture of some of the Benelux region, losses were high. Initial success was reduced to a bitter attritional struggle and the fortification of Brussels by German forces.

KONFLIKT 47 SCENARIO 2: MAXIMUM ATTRITION (750pts)

This battle report covers a platoon-sized action during the latter stages of Operation Newport with British and German forces clashing over a tactically important Hamlet, Petit-Harveng in the Benelux region.  Although not key to the German defence of the area, Petit-Harveng allows good access to crossing points over the Trouille River. The Wehrmacht  64th Totenkorps Regiment (Death’s Head Korps) have been using it as a staging post to launch spoiling attacks on the allied lines. The abundance of animated corpses in the area, even in an uncoordinated capacity have had a detrimental effect on Allied operations and threatens to delay further British activity in the region. Consequently, Lieutenant Colonel  Jary of the 4th Battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry, has tasked his newest Platoon Commander, 2nd Lieutenant Peter Hamilton-Smithe, to move forward and clear Petit-Harveng.

FORCES

BRITISH (all troops Regular unless stated)
  • Platoon Commander 2Lt Peter Hamilton-Smithe (Pistol)
  • Platoon Light Mortar (2 men)
  • Platoon Medic (Veteran)
  • 1 Section (8 men) – NCO Cpl Bradley (Rifle), 1x LMG team, 5x Infantry (Rifle), AT Grenades
  • 2 Section (8 men) – NCO Cpl Fillingham (Rifle), 1x LMG team, 7x Infantry (Rifle), AT Grenades
  • 3 Section (5 men) – NCO LCpl Fenton (SMG), 2x Infantry (SMG), 2x Infantry (Rifle), Bren Carrier
Supporting Troops:
  • Automated Infantry Section (2 Automatons) Bill & Ben (MMG).
  • Cromwell-T
  • Forward Observation Officer
GERMAN (all troops Regular unless stated)
  • Platoon Commander Oberleutant Triebig (Pistol)
  • Platoon Signaller Pte Josef Keppler (Rifle)
  • 1 Section (6 men) – NCO Gefreiter Schnurrbart (AR), 1x LMG Team, 3x Infantry (Rifle), 2x Panzerfaust
  • 2 Section (6 men) – NCO Gefreiter Krűger(AR), 1x LMG Team, 3x Infantry (Rifle), 2x Panzerfaust
  • 3 Section (6 men) – NCO Gefreiter Dietz (AR), 1x LMG Team, 3x Infantry (Rifle), 2x Panzerfaust
Supporting Troops:
  • MMG team (3 men)
  • Panzerschreck team (2 men)
  • Spinne Light Panzermech
  • Totenkorps Squad (64th Regiment, Batch 6, 78th Section) 9x Animated Corpses (Inexperienced)
  • Totenkorps Squad (64th Regiment, Batch 6, 79th Section) 9x Animated Corpses (Inexperienced)

THE BATTLEFIELD

The battle will be played over the small Hamlet of Petite-Harveng. The location consists of three single-storey dwellings set around a rough track allowing good access to both wheeled and tracked vehicles along the central section of the board. Farmland and fields to the north, whilst slowing down movement, provides good cover to advancing troops. On the right broken woodland creates slow-going for vehicles in contrast to the left-hand side of the board which remains relatively open and is dominated by a hill in the bottom left corner.

WORD FROM THE GENERALS

BRITISH

My force is built around the Cromwell-T. It’s taken up a significant portion of my points and its loss wold be a major tipping point in the battle. Consequently, I’m likely to be outnumbered on the ground. Even though we’re playing on a 4×4 I don’t think I have enough troops to spread out, therefore I’m going to concentrate my force on the left, use the Cromwell to dominate that side of the board from the hill and leap-frog my sections forward using the buildings. Fighting through buildings is always tough so I’m going to use Bill and Ben my trusty Automatons to provide fire-support from the woodland, hopefully deploying them here will trick my opponent in thinking I’m pushing forces on both sides of the board. We’ll see how it goes!

GERMAN

I’ve got a well-rounded force with plenty of boots on the ground to cover the table. It’s max attrition to I need to make sure every shot counts.  I’m going to split my force and cover both sides of the board but keep my Panzerschreck central so I can support both sides with it if needs be. I’m also going to hold my Totenkorps in reserve and use them to threaten pinned British units rather than use them as the usual meat shield! If that doesn’t work then I’ve always got my super mobile Spinne to move in for the kill if needs be. My force is well equipped with Panzerfausts and I’m trusting these and my Panzerschreck to deal with any Allied armour threat.

TURN 1 – DEPLOYMENT

Note. Only shots causing casualties or pins are shown on the battle-map.

Turn 1 and both Platoons rush onto the battlefield, keen to close the gap and get to grips with the enemy.  The British hugging close to the reassuring presence of their Cromwell-T, obviously already concerned about the threat of German hand-held anti-tank weapons. The slow thud of their advancing Automaton pair can just be heard off to their right behind the start of the woodland.

Meanwhile, close by, German forces under Oberleutant Triebig start their own advance on a broad front. Their step-off is accompanied by a few nervous glances back at the shuffling mass of re-animated corpses just to their rear. The Oberleutant is keeping a close hold of his Totenkorps support and his sections are understandably nervous at their new position in advance of what was normally the Wehrmacht’s cannon-fodder.

The battle has begun!

TURN 2 – MEETING ENGAGEMENT

Casualties: British 1 – Germans 0 Victory Points: British 0 – Germans 0

A surge forward from the British.  Desperate to get themselves established in Petite-Harveng, 2Lt H-S pushes his lead section under Cpl Bradley forward to take control of the central cottage, hoping to use it as a stronghold to dominate the battlefield. Cpl Fillingham’s section moves up in support and exchanges fire with the German section opposite, receiving fire from the Spinne in return for their efforts. Seeing the potential danger to his control of the building his Cromwell-T engages the mass of Totenkorps surging down the track, but to no effect.

On the right the German MMG is surprised to see a pair of advancing Automatons in the woodland to their front, obviously pushing forward to provide flanking fire for the advancing Brits. Not wanting to waste an opportunity they open fire and are rewarded with the destruction of one of the Automatons in a hail of bullets.

Turn 2 ends with the crackle of the radio as the British forward observer prepares a fire mission on the advancing German forces moving to contest the initial British advance to the central building.

German MMG covers the advance of troops and Totenkorps on the flank, having recently engaged a pair of Automatons

TURN 3 – TAKE COVER!

Casualties: British 4 – Germans 8 Victory Points: British 0 – Germans 1

Turn 3 starts with a bang as the British barrage successfully lands on the road alongside a heavy volley of Tesla fire from the Cromwell, obliterating all but 3 of the German walking dead and significantly pinning the infantry squad close-by. The British aren’t without their pain this turn, however, and Cpl Fillingham’s squad take what cover they can behind the fence line as the German Spinne scuttles forward, swiftly killing two with its auto-cannon. With the wounds too catastrophic for the medic to deal with, Hamilton-Smithe calls for Tesla support to deal with the German armoured threat.

To make matters worse, Bill, still staring at the chewed up remains of his fellow Automaton, Ben, is also cut down by a hail of machine gun fire from the advancing Germans.  With their right flank dangerously exposed and more zombies advancing of this side, LCpl Fenton is dispatched to hold the line and his half-section deploys from their Bren-Carrier into the wood line.

Turn 3 ends with Oblt Triebig feeling less confident about re-gaining control of the central building and looking to the eastern flank where he is likely to make most gains.

German forces surge forward on the eastern flank, supported by a swift moving Spinne light walker

TURN 4 – THE LULL

Casualties: British 5 – Germans 8 Victory Points: British 0 – Germans 1

Turn 4 was one of manoeuvre. On the left, the German section under Krűger, unable to suppress the British light mortar team, advanced forward to close the gap before the indirect fire zeroed in.  In the centre the British consolidated their position in the buildings. Occupying the furthest house, where Cpl Bradley’s squad could clearly hear ominous groaning from the remaining few animated corpses just around the corner. On the right, LCpl Fenton’s squad came under fire from advancing German soldiers and, taking a casualty, pushed forward to make better use of the available cover and bring their SMGs into range.

The Cromwell-T failed to re-position in one move, unable to turn and move forward sufficiently to bring it’s main armament to bear on the Spinne. Unfortunately the German forces were unable to take advantage of this, with Oblt Triebig preoccupied rallying his squad, whose MG42 was essential to suppress the British occupying the building to is front and give his remaining Totenkorps the best chance in close-assault.

LCpl Fenton’s fireteam protects the British flank from advancing German troops.

TURN 5 – DECISIVE ACTION

Casualties: British 17 – Germans 11 Victory Points: British 0 – Germans 3

Turn 4 erupted with a fusillade of fire from Axis forces concentrating on the lone British section occupying the forward house. With the British sufficiently suppressed the Totenkorp soldiers obediently shuffled forward into the assault. The horror of these zombified former Wehrmacht soldiers was too much for many of the defenders enabling just 3 corpses to get the better of them. With the loss of only one body, the zombies took the building.

Attempting to give the Germans a taste of their own medicine Hamilton-Smithe ordered his SMG squad forward under covering fire from his remaining Rifle section, planning to clear the flank before the second load of Totenkorps arrived.  Confident in their superior assault ability the troops rushed forward into the recovering soldiers of Dietz’s 3 section only to cut cut down in a hail of bullets in a devastating point-blank fire volley.

Finally the Cromwell-T, now in position, was able to bring it’s Tesla gun into action against the Spinne (left in place to support the assault move) but to no avail with a high shot disappearing into the foliage of the woods. Not a good turn for the British, indeed probably the decisive turn for the platoon…

Totenkorps move in for the kill…

TURN 6 – REARGUARD ACTION

Casualties: British 18 – Germans 15 Victory Points: British 1 – Germans 3

Turn 6 saw a desperate rearguard action by the British to prevent their remaining forces from being surrounded and cut off from all sides.  A quick counter-attack into the middle building enabled the clearance of the immediate threat of Totenkorps followed by a consolidation back into the southern house. A round from the light mortar finally hit home, but almost too late as German soldiers came over the wall to the left of the British position.  On the right the Cromwell-T failed yet again to remove the Spinne threat and the British could do little to prevent the advance of infantry and the second Totenkorps unit on their right flank.

Under cover from the MG fire of their Cromwell tank, the British survivors make a dash for their Bren gun carrier before they’re faced with another Totenkorps assault. The small village of Petite-Harveng remains in German hands… 

German forces threaten to overwhelm the Cromwell-T on the British right flank

WORD FROM THE GENERALS

BRITISH

Disaster! I think it all went wrong in two places: 1. My foolhardy isolation of my Automatons on my flank, they didn’t last long and I shouldn’t have rushed them forward at the start. The poor guys didn’t stand a chance! 2. The loss of my forward section, again I pushed this unit too far up the table without support and all it really did was provide victory points for the opposition.  What would I have done differently if I could fight the battle again? Hold back definitely. My opponent had the superior numbers on me. I think I’d have done better to work on a more defensive footing allowing the Cromwell-T to do more offensive work for me… and get some better dice… 

GERMAN

Not bad for my small force, although I think I was lucky in the centre with the assault result of my three remaining Totenkorps. Without this lucky result I think the battle would have been a lot closer.  I was also lucky with the Cromwell-T missing my Spinne so many times. Overall though the plan didn’t work out too bad. My second Totenkorps unit did nothing all battle, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Being bold with the Spinne, placing it in the line of fire worked well. The lesson I’ve taken away from this is the effectiveness of horror causing troops when properly supported in terms of suppressive fire. I’m going to try to replicate this in my next battle!

FINAL RESULT:  GERMAN VICTORY

Casualties: British 18 – German 15 (although 9 of these were Totenkorps who probably don’t usually count towards the final tally…)

Victory Points: British 1 – German 3 (1 point per unit destroyed)

Thanks!

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