Monday, September 4, 2017

German Defense of Pomme de Terre, France, October 1944

In October, 1944,  "Pumpkin Company" (of US 16th Infantry Regiment) with support of elements of 1st Division encountered elements of German Kampfgruppe  Hefeweizen outside the town of Pomme de Terre.

Map showing initial dispositions and movements.
US command had determined hill 736b would be the objective and to that end, the effectiveness of German defenses in the town were minimized. However, German mortars, situated behind the town and relying on spotters based with German platoons in the area, played a significant role in the action that took place in Paulette's Woods.

A single German platoon held the woods gallantly with help from the mortars until the US concentrated the platoons of Pumpkin Company on their position and forced them out of the fight.

Cat is not to scale.
US armor and anti-tank support focused their efforts on hill 736b, weakening the defenders, but they could not withstand the barrage of mortar, rifle, and anti-tank fire received in return.

Press photo.
It was left to the fighting men of Pumpkin Company to clear out the Germans and capture the hill. From their protected position within Paulette's Woods, Pumpkin Company subjected the hill-based defenders to withering fire.

Outgunned, the Germans abandoned the hill and, with that, their position in the town become untenable; the German forces retreated.

This action was payed out using Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargame rules with his scenario 14, Static Defence. It was actually the 2nd time playing the same scenario in the same evening.

Given the vagaries of NT's rules - attacking infantry in a town or woods is BAD PLAN. And the 1st effort ended in 7 or so turns. Oh, and mortars in NT's rules are pretty deadly for infantry in the open. As they should be.

For this second attempt, using the same forces, I focused my efforts on the hill, while keeping my own infantry under cover - to much better effect.

It came down to turn 14 before the US platoons stepped foot on the hill and ended the game.

The observation rules in NT's WWII rule set played a role in the victory, as they had moved outside of the mortar's line of sight, and there were no units left within 12" to spot the US platoons on the mortar team's behalf.

I have since played another game, the start of a very simple campaign. We'll see how that goes - campaigns, even simple ones, often falter.

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