So yesterday we played our D-Day game. 1 1/2 weeks late, but we started in style at 1944h!
The game itself depicts part of the assault by the US Army Rangers on the German battery atop the cliffs of Point du Hoc (or Point du Hue as it was originally called). On the American side we had E Company 2nd Ranger Btln., as well as the battalions HQ (led by Lt.-Col. Rudder), being landed on the beach by 4 LCA´s.On the German side we had roughly 1 1/2 Züge (platoons) from the 352. Infanteriedivision which was tasked with defending the battery. In Addition there was the company HQ, housed inside the firecontrol-bunker. Just part of the trenches directly on the cliffs was manned at the beginning of the game, since the German defenders had always assumed an attack would come from their land side… if at all.
The Allies were tasked with taking the fire control bunker, the casemates destroying the guns within and to defend the position against an enemy counterattack afterwards (just like E Coy. was on the 6th of June 1944). The bunkers only housed ”Quakerguns” (tree trunks painted black and mounted on tank barriers), but this did not change their historic mission. The Germans had to prevent this.
On the first round the initiative favoured the Americans somewhat, since they were able to move towards the ropes and climb them up before the Germans really knew what was happening.
But only four of them were fast enough to make it up the cliffs. The two on the far left attacked and took out the German machine gun nest build into the cliff, before it could even open fire. But all men who made it up in the first tiny wave paid a heavy price for it. The two who had just cleared the machine gun nest were killed outright by the rest of the German Trupp (Squad). The others all suffered severe injuries and were calling for their medics.
The Germans were moving into better positions in the trenches (as I said the majority were deployed to defend against an attack from land, not from the sea). The fire control bunker was a very strong position. The slit towards the sea was too small to be climbed through, the Tobruk in the roof could be closed with a hatch and the entrance was sealed with a heavy steel door and twin machineguns covering the approaches from behind embrasures. So they decided to go for a defend in-depth, wearing the Americans thin on the way to the casemates or attacking them when the reached the top of the cliff.
With the second wave of Rangers arriving on top the cliffs, the bunker started to look less impregnable. One of the rangers tossed a hand grenade through the slit, killing one of the radio operators inside the bunker and injuring the artillery spotter. Another Ranger climbed on top of the bunker and injured the Feldwebel firing from the Tobruk. When he tried to pull the body from the hole, one of the Germans boots became entangled in the steps and the Ranger was unable to clear the entry. This was seen by the men from the third Trupp and they started firing their MG42 at the American, forcing him to lie down.
On the other flank the Rangers started spilling into the trenches firing their rifles down into the Germans or spraying them with their Thompsons on the move. The Germans got back at them, clubbing them with the rifle butts or their Klappspaten (entrenching tools), very reminiscent of WWI and just as bloody!
In the middle of the cliff the first men from the Company HQ and those man scaling the spot where the Naval artillery had created an avalanche reached the top. The snipers from HQ took out two of the Germans hiding in the trench before them, only to suffer wounds of their own from their German counterparts. The spot above the avalanche was taken under fire from another MG42, forcing the men to go down on their bellies and not just a few of them taking hits as well.
Now the situation at the fire control bunker became even more heated. The remaining radioman in the bunker noticed was going on at the Tobruk and ran towards it to close the hatch. At the same time and in spite the machine gun rounds striking all around the roof another Ranger crawled up to help his mate drag the wounded German out, but still the boot was stuck and he would not move. They finally managed at about the same time the radioman reached for the hatch. One of the Rangers tossed a satchel charge down, blowing the German apart and both Rangers went inside. Seeing this the Feldwebel from the third Trupp took some men in a counter attack to help secure the bunker.
Alerted by the bang of the satchel charge one the MG crews tasked with securing the bunker entrance went to investigate. Realising that the enemy was inside they too counterattacked with hand grenades and their machine gun, killing both Rangers and closing the hatch before any more men could get in. At the same time the attack from the infantry had arrived as well. Throwing hand grenades and firing down the trenches, they were able to clear those Americans who were moving for the bunker entrance.
But by now every more men were coming up and the greater number and better quality of the Americans began to show. One by one the German infantry was taken out and the Rangers moved in for another attack.
To secure the bunker entrance the MG42 crew who had remained on their post started firing at the entrance area. But still two Rangers dared to assault and crawled through the fire. They were able to plant explosives and blast door out of its hinges. The machine gun team that had already cleared the first incursion, was able to make them pay the ultimate price, but with numbers in favour of the Americans, it was only a question of time till the bunker fell. So what was happening on the other flank and in the centre?
On the left flank things were turning in the Americans favour as well. Again the Rangers were better equipped and trained and slowly the numbers of defender decreased and the Rangers were able to secure their foothold and continuously move further to the rear. While still taking losses, the Germans suffered more.
In the middle the American medics had arrived on scene and patched up the snipers. These in turn were directed by Colonel Rudder himself. One by one they were able to take out the German snipers, rilfemen and even the machine gun molesting the men coming up the avalanche. With the medics moving of to care for the other American wounded and to put them back into the fight where possible, things were starting to look bleak for the Germans. And there were still more men on the beach waiting to climb up and take the fight to the Boche.
At this time we decided to call it a day (or rather a night since we were past midnight already). With the fight tilting ever more towards the Americans and still half the rounds to play we decided that this would have been an Allied victory in the end, with the Rangers securing the bunker and at least one casemate if we had played on. German losses were nearly 50% already, American losses about 20% (although there were many wounded men when we ended the game).
For those interested in the table itself:
The base table is 1,5m x 1,5m (roughly 5´ by 5´). It sports the three middle casemates from the battery, the crew bunker, the fire control bunker, two of the open concrete emplacements, as well as the connecting trenches. Attached to this are the cliffs (40cm / 16″ high) and on their lower end the shingle beach (0,6 m x 1,5 m / 2´ by 5´). I build this one for Crisis in Antwerp in 2007 where we were able to set it up on top the stairs which allowed the best use of the two levels. The layout of the trenches and bunkers was done using aerial reconnaissance photos I found in the Imperial War Museums archives in London, the layout of the bunkers according to German blueprints. Although in both cases I had to make some allowances for the basing of 28mm minis.
It is hard to set it up in my game room though since it leaves too little space in front of the beach section. So we set it up outside (luckily under a glass roof since it was raining yesterday). It was good to put the table to use once more after 5 years just seeing it stored away!
The game was played using the “The face of battle rules”.