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 12, 2024

Guadacanal--- Back to "O group"

 Sorry for the long absence.  My 100 yo father in law is requiring more care from my wife and I which is making for long nights and less time and enthusiasm for gaming. Real life-- what are you going to do?

My tactical aircraft rules for WW II are just about done. Just Jack has turned into a great editor; who knew a Marine could even spell?   Tentatively called Boom and Zoom I will start shopping them.  I have a tomahawk v ME 109 battle set up that I am recording and will hopefully post which will give you all some idea of the mechanics now that the fighter vrs fighter rules are set.  

But for today we are posting a land battle on Guadalcanal.   Three things conspired for this battle.  First I read a blog from the Devon's wargaming group where they did a battle on just his using O group


Second I had a long discussion about O group on TMP.

Third I finally started reading a book that my dad recommended to me about 15 years ago.

Now my dad rarely recommend books and I must say this is a good one so far.  It is about an army company on Guadacanal.  The author wrote from Here to Eternity for those of you who studied science. What I found out that impressed me was he was an infantry corporal on Guadacanal so he knows what he is talking about.  

You all know I love the combat routine for Battlefront.


Now I have reviewed O group here before and like it.   


But all the leaders are the same which bothers me ;still O group works best with infantry in lots of terrain.  Sounds like Guadacanal to me! 

I rolled up the board per Platoon Forward using "heavy terrain".  US will start at the bottom.  The first pipe cleaner is there start line.  Second pipe cleaner is Japanese defensive line.  Third pipe cleaner is the objective, Hill 100.  The left three hexes of the board are all heavy jungle signified by the mass of plastic palms.  Each hex is 80ish yards which works to O groups scale and is half Battlefronts. I forgot to mark it but the far side of the destroyed village is phase line smart where a third US company is available to finish up the attack.  

US view of the objective past the destroyed village.

One of the things I dislike about O group's novel set up is that is strains when the defender has been in place for a while.  You only place platoons on the board with 5s and 6s plus ATG and bunkers.  Fortunately it worked out here as each defending company wanted to place two platoons up. With the fifth die one company will place their HMG.   I guess one heavy machine gun decided to ignore the preparatory artillery and sleep in!  [ I would love to know I am doing this wrong.  If so someone please correct me.] 

Japanese positions.  The japanese decide to ignore the heavy jungle on their right but do place a combat patrol in there just in case the US get's sneaky.  [ In close terrain the concept of combat patrols is brilliant!] All japanese are in ambush.  Since this is solo no need to be off table. 

The US rolls for their deployment.  The three "1s" signify their bombardment took out a Japanese platoon plus a squad.  No 5s or 6s so only the company CCs start on the board with some combat patrols.  

I convert two CPs to deploy a platoon from A company.  My plan is to make a push down the road with armor and have Bravo company support my right flank.  Bravo company rests by the river while the scouts look for the Japanese.

I don't have the Battlefront Japanese cards as I don't know if I would use them enough to justify the purchase.  So for today I have substituted french for the infantry/MMG and knee mortars and Italian for the 60 Mtr and ATG.  For the Japanese I am making them "veteran" and they ignore negative modifiers for company losses.  They will also win ties in melee.  Otherwise there are no other special rules.

 Scouts make contact all along the line!

1st platoon Bravo company deploys 80 yards from gunfire under the watchful eye of Capt Stein.  All US troops are experienced except 2 platoons trained/1 alpha CO vets.  [ I roll up quality before hand.  To make it simple the platoon leader's quality is the same as his men.]

Stuart tanks are ordered forward as Japanese dispositions are still unclear. 

1st platoon B Co comes to grips with the enemy.  Third squad on the left is hit badly and their SL falls. 

Capt Stein deploys 2nd platoon on the far right to try to bring more firepower down on the Japanese.  A company can't seem to get artillery support!

The artillery finally arrives!  Capt Holt, behind on his timetable sends Lt Woodcheck's 2nd platoon forward. [ they are only trained not experienced/ yellow marker].  There is miscommunication and the Stuart doesn't move up. [ Ran out of orders!] A hidden MMG opens up. Needless to say 2nd platoon is thrown back. 

 On the right flank, with excellent MMG support, 1st platoon B Co advances 80 yards into enemy territory! 

After 4 turns (40 minutes) into the battle.  Alpha company on the left is going nowhere.  Bravo Co under Capt Stein, on the right has a small foothold in the Japanese line held by 1st platoon.  He has ordered 2nd platoon to advance to take the pressure off 1st platoon but they has to cross open ground...

Lt Elson duly orders the dogfaces forward.  2nd squad of 1st platoon can be seen holding their forward position in the light jungle just past 2nd platoon.  Sgt Carver's squad breaks but the rest of the platoon, though pinned remain.  

Lt Elson orders the LMGs up.  3rd squad rallies from 1st platoon and strengthens their gains there.  Suddenly it is the Japanese, holding this part of the line with only 2 platoons [ third wiped out in the pre attack barrage] who are pressed.  

Capt Holt finally has everything in place to once again mount an assault.  He now has artillery, re formed 2nd platoon and armor now leading Lt Ocha and the crack 3rd platoon into the fray!  [ Needed to save up enough battalion orders to move all this at once.] 

Meanwhile Bravo Co continues to grind away.

About 90 minutes into the attack.  Battle line running north to south in the photo taken by a PBY. 

Alpha company still shelling the village and MMG position.  60mm MTR also laying down smoke.  2nd and 3rd platoons advancing towards the ruins.  Japanese casualties mounting secondary to 105 shelling.  Bravo Co: 1st platoon has gained another 80 yards of jungle just below center of photo.  3rd platoon deployed to their left trying to find a gap.  2nd platoon still stuck but taking the heat off 1st platoon.  1st platoon down to 14 effective though.  However, as you can see the Japanese are down to 3 squads left from their 2 platoons.  Far right Japanese have deployed their only reserve platoon [ which is elite] to hold the line in front of hill 100.  

Actual combat photo of some of Lt Ocho's men during the assault on the ruins.

1st platoon holding the far left flank in background.

110 minutes into the battle.  The japanese front line withers away!  Lt Ocho captures the ruins.  The Japanese on their right pivot to protect the road.  There basically is no Japanese left on the left flank...

As the Japanese Company Commander faces 2nd squad, 2nd platoon of Bravo Co.  [ He actually won!]

As the US forces have reached phase line smart I could now bring in a fresh company to face an elite platoon of the Japanese to defend the hill.  The battle, having taken me 2 1/2 hours solo I decided to end it.  Well fought and exciting.  Pacific land combat is hard to game but I enjoyed this a lot. I really liked my use of O group combined with Battlegroup.  I only used 8 dice instead of 9 for both sides as I only had 2 companies on the board and that created enough tension with the orders mechanic.  I really did feel like I was in a Battalion/Company commander moving around units, cursing the artillery I couldn't get.  Now I will work on how to differentiate different platoon leaders.