The 16th of December 1944 was the start of the German offence that became known as the Battle of Ardennes in America, and the Battle of the Bulge in Britain. It was a daring, and desperate gamble by the Germans as they attempted to push through a weakened american sector in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, to cut the Allied advance off and secure a sea port. History tells us it was a failure, but it was a much closer run thing than hindsight might suggest. The surprise and force of the German attack shattered many of the American units stationed in the Ardennes, and it was only the heroic efforts of a few American that managed to stall the Germans long enough for Monty and the American Generals to rally and reinforce the sector.
Big Al had long dreamed of playing the Battle of the Bulge, and with the Earlswood Wargamers taking to Chain of Command it was decided that now was the right time (and 28mm was the right scale). These photos are from last weekends game. Most of the scenery is made by Big Al, with a few bits and bobs of mine. We ran two games simultaneously, one for beginners and one for sightly more experienced players, so that we could learn from each other. Al and I acted as 'tactical advisor/ tutor' to help teach the rules. Young James took command of my Fallschirmjagers, and Vlad commanded his own platoon of American Motorised troops.
|An important river crossing in the Ardennes forest, 1944|
This was the battlefield. The river was fordable but cost a dice of movement. The woods and hedges were soft cover and the barns were hard cover.
The Wrecked M5 was just a bit of colourful scenery and not an in game casualty. I assume it was a scout vehicle from Vlad's Mechanized platoon that was taken out by enemy fire, causing the Infantry to debus and attack the Fallschimjager on foot.
|Fallschirmjager seize the initiative and cross the river to try to capture the American Jump Off Points|
James played the FJ aggressive, which I think suits their style. In the first turn he sent a platoon sergeant with a fire team over the river to try to seize on of Vlad's jump off points. It was a bold move, but on that was to prove vital .
Other FJ teams set up in the barn and in the woods with excellent sight-lines across the fields and river to the American Jump Off Points
Americans tried to outflank the German proposition using the hills as cover but came under fire. They panicked when the FJ sergeant lead his men across the river towards their jump off point and ran back to assault the FJ in close-quarterer battle. It went badly for the Americans, who lacked the close range fire-power of the FJ and were routed, along with their senior officer. The FJ's captured the Ami Jump Off Point and from there on it was a bit of a crap shoot. The remaining American Jump off points were exposed to fire from two FJ sections, so Vlad's reinforcements were coming on into a hale of fire form the FJ MG43s As always James rolled amazing, and his lucky dice hammered Vlad's Yanks (at one point James rolled 11d6- needing a 5-6 to hit- and got 9 hits!).
James's superior position and fire-power meant that Vlad was struggling to bring troops on as they were coming under terrifying fire as soon as they came onto the board. Vlad's machining gun section, with its two 30mm MMG did worry James for a bit but after a load of lucky dice that was soon pinned too. Eventually Vlad was forced to concede, with two squads broken, and one pinned there was little else he could do to drive the FJ out of their positions.