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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Capt Moulin and the battle of Stonne

 So after the last huge battle I got my french armor painted up and toned this one down.  I am using my french motorized rifle company of Suxy fame [ april 17] and have attached a company of R-35s and a platoon of Char -bis tanks.  I thought adding my Soumas would be a bit much.  Rather than go with a historical battle of Stonne I used the Company attack scenario from Platoon Forward and modified it for today.  When I rolled up the board the entire right flank of Stonne was clear; amazing.  But it did save me on board space since the left flank was the way to go.  

For those of you not familar with the Battle of Stonne, the french and german forces fought over this town for several days as the french tried to close off the german bridgehead.  Both sides committed armor to the battle and it was one of the few times the french attack with armor. 

Capt Moulin listened to the Colonel brief the plan.  " The Germans aren't as smart as they think they are.  They are overextended and we will now make them pay for it.  We will attack through this town here and cut them off at the river."  Capt Moulin would be working with Capt Perard's tanks to take the town.  Follow up forces would then proceed to the river.  Moulin was excited to be on the attack finally and taking his country back. 

French Forces [ trained except where noted below]

A company Motorized rifles [ Thanks to Peter Clarke for making me look up yet again the organization of the French company.  You are correct Sir; 4 platoons or 3 squads [ or sections if you prefer.]

Capt Moulin commanding     Avg

1st platoon Lt Dupont   avg leader but experienced troops + 1 MMG

2nd platoon Lt Boucher  poor leader

3rd platoon Lt Valintin  replacement leader for Lt Corbin.  He is good. troops are hanging on at avg but reduced to 2 squads 

4th platoon Lt Asbourgh  good.  + 1 MMG

60mm MTR attached   2 batteries of 75mm guns off board

A company Light tanks

Capt Perard commanding    Avg

all platoons avg leaders.   All platoons 3 tanks represented by 1 model due to lack of radios.

1 platoon of heavy tanks attached

1 platoon of armored cars attached

Aerial photograph of the town of Stonne take 1 day before the battle by a german JU-88. Hexagon grid used by the germans works out to about 120 yards per hex.  The french will be entering from the right.  

The 2 captains discussed their plan.  They would each send a platoon up the left side of Stonne towards the vinyards with the hopes of entering the town from there.  Meanwhile armored cars would probe the front and right side of town looking for a weak spot. 

  Pictures of my new french armor.  They are quality castings and are a little smaller than my battlefront. I think they are nice and painted up well.   Interesting I bought a Stug also which is not smaller.  

A quiet courtyard in Stonne

Blinds placed as the 1st platoon enters the board.  2 type C ' vehicles' blinds will enter the west road turn 5.  

Capt Moulin sets up his office.

1st platoon bebusses at the hill.  The armored cars move out to scout. " Before contact every plan is great!" thinks Capt Moulin.

The Germans roll up their defenses.  Interesting, they only put a LMG team and ATG up front in the ruined building.  Here on the left side of town are 2 squads [ one pictured here] and as I roll up my C blind...

an assault gun section?!?!  Come on!  No fair!!!  

Shots ring out as the Renaults move cautiously towards the vinyards...

Nuts!   Looks like a left hook is out of the question today.

 The rest of the defense of the left side of Stonne. You can see a PZ III in the background.  There is a platoon in town; 2 tanks per model.
There is also a MMG in the bell tower. 

The armored car spots the germans on the east side of town.

So the east side and west flank are heavily guarded.  Capt Moulin sends in his heavy tanks and 2nd platoon.  He sends a runner to Lt Dupont to tell him to turn right before the burning tanks and attack.

Artillery pounds the forward part of Stonne as the march off.

Lt Dupont with 1st platoon arrives and the battle for Stonne begins!

The other prong of the french attack appears to be moving at a more leisurely pace.  [ I dice for how many inches everyone moves] Lt Boucher doesn't want to get ahead of the tanks and as a poor leader he probably couldn't anyway.

After about 10 minutes of battle.  1st platoon attacking. Lt Dupont left his MMG on the hill to provide covering fire.  2nd platoon moving into position.  

A photo out of the german army magazine Signal showing the terrific bombardment sustained by the germans.

The same photo re touched up with modern digitalization.

Other german's bide their time in one of the many parks in town.


After the bombardment, just as 2nd platoon shows up Lt Dupont announces the assault!

The fighting is fierce in the rubble but French elan carries the day.  [ 1st platoon is experienced] The LMG team retreats.

As the germans shift their forces about, the platoon of Pz IIIs decide to make their move.  [ Actually the German Capt decided it was time for them to make their move but it sounds more poetic.]

 The Panzers shell 2nd platoon that is strung out along their advance.Lt Bouchard is clearly overmatched.   Capt Perard moves up his 2 platoons of Renaults to counter the threat.

Seeing 2nd platoon falter, Capt Moulin sends 3rd platoon with the new guy, up to move on 1st platoons left.    

Unfortunately, after they are sent off 1st platoon is ejected from Stonne leaving his left somewhat ambiguous as no one wants to go near the Stug.

Amateur photo taken during the battle by a HE-111 crew member on his way back from Paris.  the details in this photo are fascinating.  1st platoon hanging on to the corner of Stonne.  3rd platoon doggedly trying to get around to their left as per last orders.  A platoon of Renaults KOed by the Pz IIIs.  The other platoon of Renaults retreated to "regroup".  The French heavy tanks taking on the PZ IIIs which is causing some consternation.  Lastly you can see a MMG and german infantry leaving the church and moving to the vineyard to flank the french infantry.  [ Photo from my personal collection and the inspiration for me recreating this battle.] 

Lt Valintin finally turns Lt Dupont's left and advances.  The reduced platoon's fire is effective. [ The germans are actually in the house.  Valintin, noting reduced return fire rolls for an extra order and gets it!  He now orders an assault.  The Stug fires and misses! The assault succeeds!    Valintin is okay!

Capt Moulin has rallied second platoon and sends them back out.  They have yet to fire a shot in anger.  

Hearing of Lt Valintin's success, Capt Moulin moves up his CP.

Though the Germans in the first building are now cut off they do not panic.  They are slowly whittling down 1st platoon.  Lt Valintin and 3rd platoon are in extremis as the Stug fires directly into their house. The tanks continue their duel.

 Finally Lt Valintin has to leave the house.  The Pz IIIs retreat so the Char Bis moves to take on the Stug but runs into a platoon of Pz IIs that have just arrived.  

As the german platoon go searching for Lt Valintin, the Pz IIs request assistance.  The Stugs move over the wall to engage the french heavy tanks and roll doubles thus breaking their track!  [ Okay I will admit  this is stretching it for two but it was too cool so I let it be.  Now that just represents one Stug!]  The Stug fires and rattles the French who back up out of sight. 

Meanwhile the german platoon assault Lt Valintin.  It is a desperate, uneven fight but amazingly the french once again carry the day!  The Germans are pushed back across the park to lick their wounds.

Infantry support gone and no targets the Germans abandon their gun.  " We will fix the track later."

Meanwhile Lt Bouchard and 2nd platoon get caught in an artillery barrage. It is enough to send them packing.  With 1st platoon almost gone. 2nd platoon worthless, 3rd platoon hanging on by a thread Capt Moulin sends in 4th platoon with Lt Arbourgh.  He sends them to relieve 1st platoon and finish getting into Stonne.  The French tanks are holding back but are intact.  He won't take Stonne today but at least he can get a toe hold so follow up forces can breakthrough to the bridge.  

  Towards the end of the battle moving from left to right.   My new improved random events bring in a german field gun as a reinforcement that is shelling 1st platoon as if they didn't have enough problems.  Capt Perard gaining the upper hand against Pz IIs.  The Char Bis shelling Stonne. Upper left the germans make another try at dislodging Lt Valintin's survivors.  This time they succeed with few French retreating.  4th platoon under Lt Asbourgh evading shells to advance into Stonne.  

4th platoon arrives en masse to carry the entrance to Stonne. 

Panzers again move up to shell the infantry but Lt Asbourgh's NCOs quickly move the men to cover in the commercial area of Stonne.  

Capt Moulin has his foothold as the Char Bis moves the Panzers back.  Meanwhile, Lt Valintin reports back to Capt Moulin and tells his story...

Capt Moulin is impressed at how much Lt Valintin did with a brand new understrength platoon.  He needs fighting bodies in Stonne NOW.  He makes a snap decision which he hopes will not be overuled later.  "Lt Valintin, I need you to take over 2nd platoon and take them into Stonne and await further orders.  Please tell Lt Bouchard that there are urgent matters here that I need him to attend to".   So...

Lt Valintin advances once more into Stonne with the remnants of 2nd platoon that have still not fired a shot in anger. 

 An uneasy quiet settles over Stonne.  Both sides know the battle is not over...

Great game once again!  I called it a draw though the Germans only really used 1 platoon of infantry plus an extra LMG team.  They had another platoon on the east side of town they never needed.  I thought the tank battles would be decisive and prove decisive and that never happened.  Maybe I should have pushed my platoons in sooner but I was afraid of the german artillery hitting everyone as they waited in open ground to get in.   

Post game 3 things happen.  First, Lt Dupont makes his leadership roll so he is now a good leader. Second, 4th platoon makes their roll and becomes experienced. Finally Capt Perard really appreciates Capt Moulin not bad mouthing the french armor  to battalion and they strike up a friendship. This will make it easier to get armor support in the future!  I really like how the personalities/skills are effecting the tabletop.  Not decisively but enough that you have to take it into consideration, just like in real life. 




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sweep of the Dole plantation 1966

 So I played my biggest game yet with my battalion/company system.  I had 2 US, 1 ARVN and 2 NVA companies on the board at the same time.  This was a air, land and sea game.  It was great fun and only took 30 miutes more than my other games, I am getting quicker.

LtCol Du received a call from Corps.  Intel had pinpointed the where the NVA that attacked Rock Hill had gone.  They had headed west/northwest about 2 klicks to the Dole plantation.  He was to coordinate with the 1st Cav Units nearby and destroy whatever the enemy was hiding up there.  He would have artillery and ACAV support.  Rangers would be on call if things got hot but don't push it with asking for too much.  He hung up the phone.  He didn't like this new way of waging war.  It took time and wasted precious resources.  While he wouldn't tip the enemy off, he was too smart for that, he figured someone else would.  With any luck there wouldn't be anyone at the plantation when his battalion arrived.  He pressed a button on his desk, please get me my american advisor.  He would play to the american's ego.  With luck he could get the 1st Cav to do all the heavy lifting for this operation.  

LtCol Duval sat his young captains down.  "They think they found Charlie.  He is resting at some pineapple plantation 2 clicks from rock hill.  Supposedly the hills around there have tunnels with supplies so this time he has to fight!  Here is a aeral photo from yesterday...

Now I have marked where we think tunnels are in blue...

here, here, here and up at the plantation. [ 4 blue markers on picture.  2 north and 1 south of river.]  We have to play nice with ARVN so they will attack the plantation.  When they fail we can help them out.  Chuck, you take "B" squadron and land north of the river with all 3 platoons in between the 2 blue markers.  Search both areas.  If it is hot we have air and can bring you more bodies.  Jaroze, since you were banged  up  a bit around rock hill I am giving you only 1 spot to search; south of the river.  You will land 2 full platoons about 10 minutes after Chuck and search.  If you need your third platoon or help just call.  There are some riverine craft helping land ARVN so they are around call sign Neptune.  Questions?  Good, now lets go get some bad guys!"

For those of you with Grunts Forward this is a variant of "Village Sweep" upscaled for a battalion game.  

You might want to get a flavor for the characters by reading the last 3 Rock Hill posts but if you don't I will list them all here again.

1 Cav trained

A Squadron Capt Theodore Jaroze commanding   New in country    Avg ldr

1st Sgt Mathews   Avg ldr

1st Platoon Lt Hendricks  Father a 2 star general.  Moved pretty slow last mission  Avg ldr

2nd Plt Lt Alvarez  from the wrong side of the tracks.  ROTC grad New Mexico State U.  Platoon shot up last mission, down to 2 squads.  Avg ldr

3rd Platoon  Lt DeRoos   ROTC Iowa.  Saved Jaroze last mission with timely artillery call.  Good ldr

B Squadron Capt Chuck Rainer commanding   ROTC  Georgia Tech  can be foolish sometimes   Avg 

1st Platoon Lt Robertston  football star at West Point.  thinks he is God's gift to the Army. poor ldr

2nd Platoon Lt Carlson  Up from the ranks.  Doesn't really like anybody       Good ldr though

3rd Platoon Lt Schaffer  Drafted after completing engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines.  Doing his 2 years and going home.  poor leader

3rd Division, Army of South Vietnam Raw except for armored units are trained

A company Capt Ly Tong commanding      Avg ldr

1st Platoon Lt Pham Chu  poor leader

2nd platoon Lt Dan Tong  avg ldr

3rd platoon [under strength] Lt Tran Can  poor ldr 

1 platoon of Walker bulldogs attached.  ACAV on call.    

Capt Ly's plan was to make a frontal assault of the compound with 1st platoon and the tanks.  Meanwhile, 3rd platoon would ride the riverine craft and flank the compound from the left.  2nd platoon with Dan, his best leader, would be held in reserve.  

Temple not in play today but I thought it looked cool.

B Squadron's LZ looking back towards the river and the 2 areas of jungle they will need to search

A squadron's LZ looking towards the river and the hill on the right that they will need to search.

A shot of the back of the plantation looking towards the river.

My ARVN HMG unit I painted up.  This is actually a resistant rooster japanese unit.  I sanded down the one helmet to look more like a bush hat.

An ARVN officer ( Lt Dang) recently painted.  I think this is old glory.

An NVA officer.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  These are the new peter pig sculps and they are nice.  

Lay out my blinds as per Grunt Forward.  I then rolled for each blue marker to see just if it was real or not.  If real each blind in that section would have a +1.  If fake then a -1. 

 NVA battalion HQ ends up at the plantation which makes sense.  They roll up 2 platoons and a RCL.  

Capt Ly arrives at the plantation.  The bulldogs scan for enemy while the 1st platoon offloads.  Where are those boats? [ not enough orders!]  He will send 1st platoon towards the right and hope the boats show up.  

Meanwhile key Ride of the Valkyries!  

It is a cold LZ for B squadron but that doesn't mean that no one is watching. 

Capt Rainer quickly sends 1st platoon under his football star to check out the jungle to his right.  They don't want to tarry with patrols as Charlie could slip away.   He also sends 2nd platoon under his grumpy Lt Carlson to check out the jungle to his left.  Lt Schaffer, sets up a perimeter.  

 Lt Robertson's 2nd squad is cut down by a VC ambush!  1st squad quickly becomes pinned.  This wasn't in the playbooks at West Point.  


 Capt Jaroze once again drops down into Indian country!

A cold LZ.  He deploys Hendricks on the left and DeRoos on the right.  The hills look ominous. 

About 30 minutes after B squadron touches down...

Capt Rainer has his hands full. 2nd platoon has taken some LMG fire from the left but they are progressing nicely into the jungle.   1st platoon is stuck.  He calls in some hogs to rocket the tree line.  He tells Lt Robertson to assault the trees right after the rockets but it becomes clear 1st platoon isn't going anywhere.  " Schaffer!  Our star is stuck.  Take your platoon and hit the right edge of the tree line with your squads.  You should be able to roll up their line from there."  

 Lt Schaffer takes 3rd platoon and assaults into the VC.  His platoon becomes strung out but it works!  He has a foothold in the jungle. 

Meanwhile, back at the plantation...

 1st platoon has hit the first NVA line and is doing well.  

1st platoon is hit by mortars. Lt Pham is wounded but carries on.  

PBRs finally make their way towards the plantation.  Here they fight off several RPGs while they go up river.


Situation 40 minutes after battle started.  Sq B (top) Lt Scaffer is battling VC in the jungle upper left hand corner with hog support and making progress.  Lt Robertson has rallied his platoon and is starting to assist.  Lt Carlson is clearing jungle in center and starting to search for tunnels.  

Sq A (bottom) Lt DeRoos is moving to top of target hill on right.  I have rolled up 2 platoons of NVA, 1 on each hill with LMGs and a 60mm mtr.  Jaroz is sending a combat patrol [ green marker] to scout the hill to his left. 

ARVN is stalled at the entrance to the plantation.  A NVA squad has advanced to attack the  tanks from the flank.

 Capt Ly can't wait for the PBRs anymore.  1st platoon is stuck at the wall.  He still can't reach the 105 battery and now RPG teams are advancing on the tanks!  He sends out Lt Dang and 2nd platoon to sweep left.  

As he is doing this the NVA morale breaks in front of 1st platoon and they gain the wall uncontested!  Lt Pham, wounds bandaged, rallies the rest of his platoon. 

Meanwhile on Hill 424 Sq A...

Lt DeRoos' squad makes it to the top where they are met with a withering ambush.

Over the radio, DeRoos and Jaroze can tell it is not going well.  The squad is in danger of being overrun.


Lt DeRoos, rolls up an extra action because he is a good leader, and uses it now to bring up some M60s!  They keep Charlie at bay. 

Charlie, sensing blood, moves up additional squads as a fierce firefight develops on hill 424.  Lt DeRoos rallies the original squad.  Capt Jaroze tells DeRoos to get out of there and they will just bomb the hill.  

As 3rd platoon breaks contact Lt DeRoos goes down, hit in the chest.  Morale plummets in 3rd platoon as their beloved leader falls.  NCOs step up and move the platoon off hill 424.  

Jaroze is nervous now.  Even 1stSgt Mathews agrees they need to bring in 2nd platoon as their combat patrol confirms NVA on the hill to their left.  Lt DeRoos is loaded on a chopper out.  105s hit hill 424 while Jaroze waits for an air strike.  

Meanwhile, Sq A is having a better time of it.  Lt Carlson has completed his sweep of the central jungle and found nothing.  The VC have broken contact from Lt Schaffer and 3rd platoon so he is actively searching the jungle up at the corner of the AO. Lt Robertson, his platoon rallied is back on perimeter defense.   At the plantation... 

the PBRs finally deliver 3rd platoon and skirmish with some NVA, pinning them.  

Just at this time 2nd platoon shows up.  The NVA squad is caught in a cross fire.  

ARVN troops in a close assault!  They carry the day.  Lt Dang is genus.        At this point Capt Ly has cleared the first line of NVA.  He hasn't entered the plantation proper yet.  1st platoon is beat up and 3rd platoon is understrength.  Before crossing the open ground he will flank the house with the ACAV! 

A platoon of ACAV with supporting 106RCL arrive!

The NVA RCL has been waiting  an hour for this moment! They miss and are actually wiped out by MG fire.  

Now this is what is facing the NVA battalion commander.  He has a platoon left.  I know they are ARVN but that is still a lot of firepower.  

Meanwhile, back at hill 424...

The LZ is now under fire from both hills and mortars are dropping.  Phantoms are on the way which is good, because the 105s don't seem to be doing much.  Capt Jaroze finally overcomes his dread of asking for help from Duval and radios for reinforcements.  Duval sighs and says, "Don't worry son.  Chuck is bored across the river. We will send him over to play."    Well at least I will get some help thinks Jaroze.  Suddenly a roar is heard across the valley...

A grunt's most beautiful sight...

From Jaroze's viewpoint.  3 squads KIA.  

Hill 424 is quiet after the phantoms leave.  There is still firering from the other hill but Charlie keeps his head down.  

Sq B arrives.  Jaroze agrees to guard the LZ while Capt Rainer will go back up hill 424.  What they find are dead bodies and a few NVA too far gone to leave.  

Meanwhile back at the plantation...

Capt Ly sends 3rd platoon up around the left of the plantation to encircle it from the left.  

A firefight breaks out pinning 3rd platoon.  At this point ACAVS are circling from the right as is 1st platoon. A combat patrol is moving up to the front of the house.  The NVA battalion commander realizes he needs to leave before he is surrounded.  Their best chance is to make for the jungle to the left.  He gives the word...

With 3rd platoon pinned there is little to stop the breakout.   A couple of tank shells whine overhead in protest.   

Great game!  As Capt Ly's forces searched the plantation they never found any tunnels.  It was still a win as they met the NVA forces and won.  A much needed boost to morale and LtCol Du was happy.  Post game Lt Pham makes his leadership role and becomes average.  Also 2nd platoon under Lt Dang's leadership make their roll and become trained.  Capt Ly is ready for a leadership roll but you can only roll for 1 leader per game.  

For the US nothing changes for Squadron B, Lt Roberson is still not liked, Lt Schaffer did well but did not make his leadership role.  For Squadron A, tunnels are found on hill 424 along with significant equipment.  LtCol Duval realizes that Jaroze had his head in a hornet's nest.  It is a win for 1st Cav [and the USAF].  1st and 2nd platoon did fine but nothing special.  Lt DeRoos is hurt bad requiring operations and is invalided home.  He will be sorely missed.  Since he was not involved in a close assault he doesn't make the die roll for a Bronze Star.  LtCol Duval knows of him however even before Capt Jaroze so he promises that he will make it happen.   

A fantastic, complex game!   Using Grunts Forward as a template for Battalion Forward seems to be working.  The scenario with sites to search and unknown enemy worked well.  My fog of war events haven't translated though.  Will need to come up with new events appropriate to company level.  More to come for sure as this is a blast!