Welcome to Platoon Forward!

Welcome to the site where the story of the battle is as important as the battle itself. Here we will focus on men thrust into extraordinary situations of life and death. They must lead other men with duty and honor to meet their countries objectives. Some will be blessed with great skill, some will carry great shortcomings. No matter what nation, no matter what war, no matter what theater, they are all called to move their Platoon or Squadron forward!

These are their individual stories as played out using my various campaign rules . Hopefully these stories will entertain and inspire you to use your own troops, airmen and sailors to accomplish your own great heroics.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

On the road to Casablanca

 I have been busy puttering with some 6mm figures I got from my friend Jack.  I traded for a Russian force and a West German force.  The figures are great but I would like the germans in camo so have to paint them up before I can get them on the table properly.  So I have been experimenting with this new scale...

I think for large armored battles I will really like it.  That way tanks won't look out of place with the ground scale.  For infantry heavy actions will stick with 15mm because, though I am impressed with the 1/285 infantry, it still can't compete with 15mm.

For today we have a hypothetical scenario of a contested push of US forces towards Casablanca after tthe Torch landings.  It is actually taken from Rich Baber's blog and can be found here:  https://baberonwargames.blogspot.com/2022/02/dash-to-oum-er-rbia.html

I play a fair amount of US/ Vichy confrontations on land and in the air but really don't personalize them because the "war" lasted about 2 days.  You really can't develop characters in 2 days.  The battle is a US infantry company plus 1 platoon of stuarts, a section of TD halftracks and a section of 81mm MTRs.  The US is considered trained.

the French have 2 platoons of infantry, 1 trained and 1 experienced plus 1 ATG, 1 MMG dug in along the river.  On turn 4 they received a platoon of Renaults and a platoon of FFL infantry.  they also have a section of 60mm mtrs.

    The battlefield while I was setting up the French.  US enters from the right.   The US plan is to send a tank section and infantry platoon to the right and take the farm.  He will send his recon jeep to the left to see if the railroad bridge is heavily defended.  He assumes the center will be defended.  

The french set up hidden.  They put the goums and ATG on both sides of the rr bridge and the colonials in the farm. 

The US forces on the road to Casablanca! 

The US begins to execute their plan.  

The french move 1 squad from the farm buildings into the orchards to support their other squad already there.

1st platoon deploys under supporting fire from a pair of stuarts.  The stuarts decimate the french.

20 minutes into the battle, small mortar shells pin 1 US squad as the 1st platoon prepares to move up to the orchard.  Reconnaissance shows nothing guarding the RR bridge.  Maybe the french don't have enough forces? 

40 minutes into the battle, despite significant losses, 1st platoon has driven the french back and are preparing to enter the orchard.  3rd platoon has been sent to reinforce the schwerpunkt.  Meanwhile, 2nd platoon [ blue truck] has been sent to the RR bridge on the off chance that it can be taken in a coup de main. 

French reinforcements begin to arrive!  [ I know I have to buy a second Renault.  Anyone have one to sell?]


50 minutes into the battle US forces enter the orchard.  No blitzkrieg here I guess!  Here some Goums fire after they have been shifted from the RR bridge.  

Another view of the overwhelming numbers of US troops in the orchard.  The french LT being shelled pulls back to the end of the farm complex.  Unfortunately the goums are not in his platoon. [ That is the type of command friction I enjoy.] 


The US TD on the hill, sees the french armor coming and decides to move to the flank for a killing shot.  Unfortunately, they get bogged down right in front of the captain!  [ That move cost me an order too.] 

1 hour into the battle.  1st and 3rd platoon move into the farm proper as the french try to form a line.  The MMGs and company CO retrograde across the bridge as the french tanks so up.  The US recon section finally spots the Goums by the RR bridge.  With this info the US Capt. halts 2nd platoon's deployment.  They were painfully slow, clearly their heart wasn't in it.   They now become a reserve force.  

a close up shot of the fighting at the farm.  The french line is trying to hold until the legion shows up but it is wavering badly. 

 70 minutes into the battle.   The french infantry are pushed out of the farm and retrograde across the bridge after the loss of the LT.  Embarrassingly, the french tanks, after being fired upon loose their nerve and also retreat across the bridge.  The French CO, seeing french martial prowess, debusses the legion to make a stand at the bridge.   Things are looking pretty good for the US.  

 80 minutes into the battle. Seizing the moment the US charges the bridge as the french push up a FFL squad.  Simultaneously, the Captain orders 2nd platoon to take the RR bridge to further pressure the french. 

 The Legion can't hold but retreats in good order to the base of the bridge.  2 of the renaults head for Casablanca claiming to have their turrets damaged.  

90 minutes into the battle.  3rd platoon tries to clear the base of the bridge with small arms and the stuart.  They use a wonder weapon, "the bazooka" against the renaults but miss.  

The french fight back as the battle rages.  2nd platoon is stymied at the RR bridge.  

100 minutes into the battle.   With US forces in disarray on the bridge, the legion fixes bayonets and charges.  [ This was a nail biter turn to roll for initiative.  The US needed to rally their forces and the French needed to attack before they could rally.  Amazingly neither side gains the upper hand as men snipe each other among the stones.

  Meanwhile 2nd platoon finally manages to break the goums and sends them packing.  

110 minutes into the battle  The french manage to send another squad into the fray. [ forgot to take a picture it was so intense!] The outnumbered GI's hurl grenades desperately as the buttoned up stuart does what it can to assist.  Astoundingly, the french...

 are beaten back!     

Now over an hour and a half into the battle it was clear the road to Casablanca was not open.  It was going to take some artillery or airpower to open this road.  The team would have to hold in place until the rest of the army caught up to open the road.  

I declared it a french victory with the FFL stopping the gap and the goums plugging the other bridge.  It felt like a morale victory for the 3rd platoon however.  I really like the mix of the two games and the order system of O Group  really makes you feel like you are in charge of a battalion or in this case, a company plus.   






Friday, March 11, 2022

Hammertime with the 91st Fighter squadron "Hammerheads"

 Thought I needed a break from all this battalion level fighting.  The games are fun but take almost 3 hours to play. Wanted something quick and easy; why not squadron forward!  I have a P-38 and a P-39 squadron in Tunisia.  I thought for something different I would use the P-39 squadron.  they have only had 2 missions, a win flying CAP and a draw bombing a naval base.  Their squadron CO, Capt Filarto is lazy but is very keen on his position; hence he drives the squadron hard.  Just because he is lazy doesn't mean his isn't a good pilot, he has a stuka and MC 202 to his credit. The squadron cool sits a +1 because they have 3 kills to 2 loses, pretty good when you are flying P-39s. 

An unusual mission comes down from the group, escorting B-25s.  Normally that is a P-38 mission.  [ actually 30% chance for our airacobras this early in the war]  Filarto decides to give it to his XO Honey Donnelson.  Honey has been begging for a chance to lead and this mission will be a long one.  


1Lt Honey Donnelson    Aggressive                      avg pilot

 wingman 2Lt John Egert   Shy                      green pilot but flying demon skill

2Lt Andrew Samson    cultured                    Vet pilot         1 kill

  wingman  2Lt "Q" Quintas    mecurical        avg pilot


Strawberry Flight with the B-25s.

 Three quarters of the way to the target the tail B-25s call out bandits 4 o clock.  Honey curses under his breath, the hun outfoxed him!  

 They are actually hard to see but 4 ME 110s are attacking the bombers from 4 o clock! The airacobras are caught flatfooted.  Fortunately no bomber is lost, one is separated from formation.  The green ME 110 is damaged enough that he retires. 

Honey radios for the 2 elements to split up and go hunting.  He is glad to see that the bogeys are ME 110s.  They are about the only plane in Africa that the P-39 can dogfight with above 5K feet.  

 Honey gets a shot at a ME-110, he sees hits but Jerry keeps flying.  

A ME 110 escapes the furball and downs the tail B-25.  

Honey manages to get on the same Jerry's tail.  This time he is close enough to use his 37mm cannon...

with predicable results!

Meanwhile, 2Lt Samson finally gets on the tail of the ME-110 that has been making passes at the bombers.  There is a swirling fight as he tries to line up a shot...

Finally Jerry literally pulls out his "ace in the hole", an automatic tight turn card because he is a veteran pilot.  Unfortunately for him, 2Lt Samson also is a veteran pilot.  

Despite every trick he knows he feels bullets pounding his plane as 2Lt Samson fires.  A major fuel leak occurs.  He calls for help from this mad american.  His fellow veteran pilot races to assist.  However, 2Lt Q has managed to stay with Samson through all his twists and turns and still has his tail. 

The german dives trying to leave the area but the airacobra can easily keep up.   

 Samson lines up a second shot while Q tangles with a second ME 110 who has arrived on the scene...

Whether it was leaking gas that ignited or ammo no one would ever no but the ME-110 suddenly blew up without a survivor.  

It was a a quiet evening in the mess of the german squadron but a joyous celebration was had for the hammerheads!

Two kills for no losses!  Only one bomber lost- I count that as a win.  These battles are always fun, often tense and quick.  This one was just under 30 minutes.  

The Hammerhead's cool goes up to +2 which means not only are they are teh coolest squadron in the group but on the base!  This gives them positive modifiers to many die rolls.  First for the pilots, Honey reaches Veteran status, Egert becomes average and "Q" gets sick and will miss the next 2 missions.  LtCol Rawlings growls at Capt Ford, the group admin about why the Hammerheads have been a pilot short and presto, 2Lt "Black Flag" Wilde shows up.  The old man even thinks Filarto is doing a good job.  

How long can this last?  Who knows but for now the boys are going to enjoy the ride!



Friday, March 4, 2022

Battle of Rock Hill Part II

 Vietnam 1966     This is my second part of the battle of Rock Hill.  For the rules and the background, including the characters we are focusing on in the company, please see my last post.

  Whump whump whump, Capt Jaroz wondered what it would be like leading men into combat for the first time as route 1 got bigger in the windows of the huey at LZ Lima...

Lt Hendricks deployed his platoon around the LZ without need of Capt Jaroz.  They did disturb a couple of VC with a bazooka who beat feet as they landed.  They could hear gunfire from village 1...  Sgt Toliver quickly set up company comms.

LZ Baked drew gunfire from some entrenched VC reported Lt Alvarez.  No choppers damaged but...

Hogs came in with suppressive fire into the trenches.

  From the air it appeared to be effective.  The volume of fire died down appreciably.  


Losing no time, Lt Alvarez sent 2 squads into the trenches.  Capt Jaroz wasn't there, what could he say?  " I have to trust my people.  Go get em!"

It worked!  Alvarez told a startled Jaroz that he was not fighting VC but NVA.  He was going to try to roll up the trench line but there appeared to be fire coming from the jungle beyond.  

Meanwhile back at LZ Lima, Jaroz confers with Hendricks and his company Sgt., MSgt Mathews.  Jaroz wants to send a squad down to the village to meet ARVN who appear stuck.  Both men are against it. " Sir, that will weaken us and ARVN will either get out of it or run away."  Jaroz takes their council.  He asks for Hendricks to send out patrols to Rock Hill and to Duc Bien to see if we can find Charlie. [Patrol markers with 7th cav logo on them above.]  " What a strange war" he is already thinking.


A patrol reaches Rock Hill and reports nothing.  Meanwhile back at LZ baked...


   the NVA throw another platoon at second platoon.  It is too much and they are ejected from the trenches.  


Capt Jaroz decides to take command of the company.  It is clear the battle will be at LZ baked.  He orders 1st platoon to go up the undefended side of Rock Hill.  He orders 3rd Platoon to land at LZ Baked.  He also moved his CP to Baked.  [ too many troops in the photo above.  I mistakenly placed another company.  Fortunately I remembered before the next turn] 


ARVN finally breaks through the village ambush.   The Greyhounds throw a couple of rounds at Rock Hill.  1st platoon finds that Rock Hill is NOT empty here but has 2 squads.  They quickly become pinned.  The battle rages at Baked.  2nd platoon is slowly getting whittled down.  Jaroz is unsuccessful in getting a line to the 105s at the FSB.

8:10  1st platoon still pinned down but they are drawing forces over from baked.  ARVN does indeed pass them on the way to "relieve" the base.  

Jaroz orders Lt DeRoos up to Rock Hill to help 1st Platoon.  2nd platoon tries to hold the rest of the NVA at bay. Jaroz does get the 105s barking at the trenchline.


With 3rd platoon behind them and 1st in front, the NVA are ordered off Rock Hill. Even the Battalion CO leaves after ordering 82mm mortars to hit 2nd platoon.  [ remnants of 2nd platoon still holding LZ Baked.  Capt Jaroz back with his command die.  Lt DeRoos up on Rock Hill.  Lt Hendricks slowly pursuing NVA on the right.]  


ARVN launchs an attack into Duc Bien.

Capt Jaroz tell Hendricks to pursue more "vigorously"! [ they failed a morale roll and moved slowly] 

Lt DeRoos firering down the hill disrupts the NVA HQs.



Stung by Capt Jaroz' criticism, 1st platoon catches an NVA squad...

and finds cornered prey can be very dangerous!  


With the NVA battalion CC in retreat he pulls all his forces back into the jungle.  Capt Jaroz is able to straighten his lines with remnents of 2nd platoon on his right, 3rd platoon in the middle and 1st platoon licking it's wounds on the left.  

Unsurprisingly the ARVN attack is going no where.


Capt Jaroz is finally able to relax.  While the NVA where able to escape, he has met them head on and won.  Suddenly rifle fire breaks out from a hill to his left.  That hill had been scouted previously and had been empty.  [ A VC platoon had been sent to help out from Duc Bien]  All able bodies are on the line facing the jungle...

Capt Jaroz succeeds in not wetting himself as screaming VC come charging across the field.  There is no time for artillery.  MSgt Mathews starts to lay down fire.  Jaroz follows suit.  He can hear a M60 from his left.  [ 3rd platoon on the hill]...

and sees multiple VC go down.  They end up sniping at each other from 10 yards away.  MSgt Mathews says, "Sir, we gotta move towards the trenches."  Unglamorously they leapfrog back to 3rd platoon. 

 Once Jaroz is clear Lt DeRoos calls for the 105s...


The artillery has the intended effect.

With the VC platoon in retreat the battle for Rock Hill has ended.    

Great battle!  I really enjoyed it.  I really felt like I was running a company in Vietnam.  Post game I had to upgrade Lt DeRoos to a "good" leader.  For those of you that know what I am talking about I set AKOT at "likely" and he made it.  I don't know what that means yet but will figure it out.  The AI gave the NVA 5 platoons, 2 LMGs and 1 60mm mtr.  The VC had 4 platoons, 1 MMG, 1 LMG and 1 57mm RCL.  

Now that Capt Jaroz has had his first test and passed how will the company react?  Lt DeRoos is a rock star.  Lt Hendricks lost a number of men though when Jaroz barked at him to hurry up.  Lt Alvarez' platoon took 50% casualties.  Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter!