AAR by: Michael Rodgers
Advanced Squad Leader AAR: Steutzpunkt Vierville (CH4)
Here’s the historical situation:
Date: June 6, 1944 (D-Day)
Location: Normandy, France
Attacker: American (Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion, Company A 116th Infantry Regiment, 743rd Tank Battalion)
Defender: German (Elements of the 3rd Battalion, 726th Regiment)
The veteran 352nd Infantry Division, whose presence was missed by Allied intelligence prior to D-Day, had established a series of strongpoints along its beach front defense zone. One such feature was the Vierville Draw. This terrain feature was a narrow break in the hills overlooking Omaha Beach. On the morning of D-Day tow right flank companies landed as schedules in front of the Vierville Draw. After one landing craft foundered and another was hit four times by mortar fire, the remaining mend of the two companies struggled to shore for a first hand introduction to the seasoned Germans situated on the bluffs overlooking the beach.
One of ASL’s attractions to me is its historical relationship with WW2. I’ve read a lot of books about WW2 and of course, D-Day is one of the big moments in the war. I was able to visit the five beaches of that battle and see lots of artifacts from that time. This is a D-Day seaborne assault scenario, which makes it interesting enough for me, but it is also representing a portion of the Omaha beach landing. It is designed by Dan Dolan, known most recently for his design work of the Dinant module. The scenario was published in the first issue of Critical Hit magazine, way back in 1994.
The scenario uses board 3 to represent the Vierville Draw, a pass on the right flank of Omaha beach through the hills overlooking the beach. The German defenders are the 352nd Infantry Division, rather than an ordinary coastal garrison.
The American attackers come in two waves. The first wave has elements of the 2nd Ranger battalion (12 6-6-7, 4 leaders, MGs, MTRs, DCs and BAZs. The second wave of infantry contains elements of the 116th Infantry regiment (12 6-6-6 similarly equipped). Between the two infantry waves, three M4 Sherman tanks, each on their own LCM(3), enter the map. The Americans need to clear the high ground (level two) of Good Order Germans on their choice of hill.
I had the German defenders. They felt pretty sparse on the ground to me; they had only two weapons that could seriously affect landing craft: a 75mm PaK 40 and an 81mm mortar. They also have 3 LMG, a MMG and a HMG. There are only eight squads, half of them first line and half of them second line. Their fortifications consist of 8 trenches, two pillboxes, a roadblock and 24 mine factors. There are 20 tetrahedrons, but these are really included for the Americans to give them some non-open ground hexes on the five to seven hex deep beach. Historically the assault took place a low tide so that the landing craft would not encounter these tetrahedrons.
The best weapon against the LC for the Germans is the Pak 40. Using HE on the vehicle target type, it can sink a LC with one hit if the gun gets a good TK roll. I debated whether to have it in the trench or the pillbox; I decided the +1 difference of TEM wasn’t worth fixing the covered arc. I put it on hill 547 (the hill closer to the beach) thinking to have better TH values quicker, but I neglected to consider that it being an “L” gun makes that bad thinking at the ranges involved. If I had put it on hill 534, it would have stayed in action longer.
Weakness in my defensive setup became apparent to me during the game. I believe my biggest mistake was placing 3 of the 4 mined hexes near the roadblock. I thought clearing the roadblock so the tanks could leave the beach would be a priority for the Americans to help them win the scenario. It was not. I would have been better off had I used the mines to defend hill 547. I put slightly more infantry on hill 547 (4.5 squads vs 3.5 squads), but hill 534 had the better leader and the HMG. I forgot to ask myself what I would do as the Americans. I would have answered “focus on the closer hill”. This is my setup.
The American LC have 12 ocean hexes to cross, so troops will not be on the beach before turn three. Those first turns went by fairly quickly. The Germans used only the Pak 40, the mortar and the HMG to attack. The mortar broke on German turn one, but repaired in German turn three. The Pak 40 sunk one LC and immobilized a second in deep ocean. A surprise for me, however, was seeing three of the first five LC run aground and two of them became fast aground. Here is the situation at the end of American turn three.
At least the LC fast aground can unload their passengers into the shallow ocean hexes. Another benefit: their AAMG can indefinitely support the landing, rather than leaving with the LC after unloading. Both sides had heroes by the end of turn three. Bad and good things for the Americans: all three LCV carrying the tanks ran aground. That means they are not in motion, so their 12FP AAMP are not halved for that. The Germans on hill 547 started breaking during American four and kept on breaking during German four. The up front defense of hill 547 was in the hands of a hero and an unmanned Pak 40.
The German mortar broke again. American infantry crossed into the hinterland during turn five, although not without losses. An American hero found the only minefield in front of hill 547 and came out of it wounded. The three LCV freed themselves from bog, but then all ran aground again in their next approach hex. Luckily for the Germans, their rally point was free of American fire. They also managed to reinforce hill 547 with a squad from hill 534. Unfortunately, the gun crew was unable to rally. The German HMG broke, never to fire again. The mortar also broke again. Image after five turns:
One of the American LCV reached the beach and unloaded a Sherman. The German hero had earlier transferred the Pak 40 to a squad that must have been hanging around the guns during practice. The squad operated Pak 40 destroyed the Sherman. The shot, however, triggered the American sniper, which eliminated the German 8-1 on hill 534. The squad in the location with it failed the LLMC. The hill 547 Germans used most of their defensive fire to deal with the hinterland Americans, so several LC unload multiple squads. American fire breaks other units on both hills. The two LCV still in the water became fast aground. Things looked a bit desperate for the Germans at this point, the end of American turn 7.
The Americans entered the trenches of hill 547 on turn eight. The Germans rallied up a couple of squads, but I did not believe they would be able to stay on level two of hill 547 in good order, especially since the Americans had the cover of the trenches and they get the last turn, so I conceded. The Germans had 3.5 Good Order squads on hill 547; they also had three broken squads there. The Americans had four squads and two leaders on or near hill 547, with two more squads coming from the beach. On hill 534, there were two Good Order German squads. Here is what the map looked like at the end.
I enjoyed this scenario, but I can understand that it will not appeal to everyone. There is not a lot of finesse for either side in most seaborne assaults. I liked it, however, as an experience in “re-living” (in a very faint way) a famous day in WW2.
Visit Michael’s blog here.
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