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.
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.
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.