Yesterday was my first go at running a game of Chain of Command using my 15mm collection of figures built around another Lardies rule set "I Aint Been Shot Mum".
The Chain of Command rules takes WWII combat down to the level of sections and platoons at a man to model level and is perfectly scaled for using with 15mm figures where the range of the weapons comes to life on a 6 x 4 foot table such as the one we played on yesterday.
The scenario we chose to play is the opening game from the "29 Let's Go Pint Sized Campaign" which recreates the fierce battle between the US 29th Infantry Division and the German 352nd Division along the lateral road between Omaha beach, Isigny and Carantan as the US forces in this area drove to link up with their comrades at Utah beach at the base of the Cherbourg peninsula.
I have driven along this road when we visited the large German cemetery at La Cambe and am very familiar with the terrain consisting of open pasture land enclosed with light hedges, low walls and strong stone built Normandy houses.
This scenario beautifully captures the initial probes to contact that were probably happening all along the allied front on the days following the D-Day landing as both sides felt each other positions out and tried to get a feel for the strength of the opposition. The mission in this game is fairly straightforward with the Americans looking to get a team off the German table edge and thus penetrate their forward outpost line, whilst the Germans are simply trying to frustrate the US probe. The open ground either side of the road between the two lines makes this a challenging fight.
|The map for "Probe at La Cambe"|
|Our interpretation of the map above with US and German Patrol markers set up ready to start the Patrol Phase|
|The patrol phase in play as the opposing markers move out into no-man's land|
|Two German infantry section deploy on the hedgerow|
|German MG42 tripod team set up in the window of the farm house covering the road|
|US infantry deploy tactically among the orchard trees|
|Another US squad deploys in the walled house and soon gets "brassed up" by the German machine gun team and rifle sections|
Once the two US tanks had sized the situation up, retribution was swift and punishing as 75mm shells smashed into the farm window directly ahead, down the road, silencing the MG42 team, and driving the surviving crew downstairs and out the back of the building to recover from the shock.
|US armour deploys on the road to support the hard pressed GI's|
|Well directed 75mm Sherman fire soon silences the MG 42|
The first shot killed a German soldier as he peered over the hedge to spot the American tanks. The next shot killed a German NCO with field glasses around his neck who seeing his man fall back inadvisedly broke cover himself to direct his soldiers attention to the possible threat.
|A US sniper team deploy into a house on the high ground and pick off one of the German section leaders among the hedge row|
|US Infantry pull back to regroup, with the empty battle field ahead|
The response from the two forces reflected the opposition presented, with the German FOO calling in a barrage from the 81mm mortar platoon supporting the forward lines, that landed full square amid the US position causing some shock and indirectly leading to the walled house catching fire, which had a much larger impact on the game.
The Americans meanwhile started to move their infantry across the back of the hill and in towards the road to link more closely with their tanks and take advantage of the cover presented by the smoke from the burning house.
|Like wise the German MG 42 team rally in the cover of the farm buildings|
As the US infantry massed near the road in support of their tanks, the two Shermans continued to cause havoc with their 75mm guns and machine-guns as they sprayed their fire on the closest hedgerow.
|The wounded are gathered in the cover of the farm yard|
|US armour edges forward bringing their heavy fire to bear on the German positions ahead|
|German infantry hug the ground under intense fire from the Shermans and the US sniper team|
With the area around the walled house devoid of US infantry, a German infantry section set off across the field aimed at capturing the nearby US jump off point and knock down the US moral count.
Meanwhile the US infantry hopped across the road as their tanks provided covering fire on German troops attempting to reposition to cover the US flanking attack.
|The German force replies to the US fire with a barrage of 81mm off table mortar support which lands in the centre of the American line|
|The mortar fire sets fire to the walled house creating a smoke screen across the front of the American line|
|Under cover of the burning building and a self made smoke screen the US armour attempts to flank the German line and make a dash for their rear area|
Suddenly there was a crack and loud explosion as the move drew fire from an off table 88mm German flak gun. Incredibly the gun missed and directing its turret towards the threat, the Sherman fired off a smoke screen of its own.
|German 88mm guns in the area attempt to knock out the US tanks, but miss amid the hedges and smoke|
|German Panzerschreck team deploy from the farm buildings to thwart the US tankers "home run"|
The Sherman crew didn't have to wait long to realise that they had just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The German squad that had debouched from the farm showed the Panzerschreck boys how to do it as their own Panzerfaust bomb smacked into the side of the American tank and ended the game.
Chain of Command is a brilliantly crafted set of rules that produced a nail bitter of a finish and left Tom bemoaning his luck despite the charmed life his Sherman led up to its final demise. Great fun.
Thanks to Jason and Nathan, two long standing aficionados of all things Lardy, who led us through the rules with great aplomb, also to Tom, Ollie and Jack for adding to the fun of the day.