Saturday, 17 March 2018

Operation Hanswurst: The Raid on the Eastgate Panjandrum Factory

Many thanks to Chas for running a scenario based on the little known 1940 German raid on the "Great Panjandrum" factory.

I was surprised to learn that Hitler had thought the Panjandrum was a war winning weapon and had
dispatched a raiding party to capture an example of the secret weapon or at least one of the scientists that was working on its development.

Early on the morning of 10th October 1940, as sea mist rolled up the beach of the pretty Sussex seaside town of Eastgate, Kriegsmarine sailors and a squad of U-Boat crew approached in assault boats.

Meanwhile gliders swept into the fields behind the town and disgorged 3 sections of elite
Fallschirmjagers, close to the Panjandrum factory.

Near the beach, a group of tourists ignored the warning signs and strayed into the restricted area on
the seafront. At this moment, German sailors leapt from their assault boats and up the beach towards
the wire entanglements at the town end of the beach.

Seeing the gliders approach, members of the Eastgate LDV & Home Guard grabbed their weapons and hurriedly took up defensive positions around the town.

With the town being attacked from two sides the defenders were soon firing at both the beach and the
open fields to the north. The Home Guard Smith gun in an emplacement on the seafront soon cut down a member of the U-boat crew, as a Flame fougasse mine detonated nearby, killing another sailor. At the same time the LDV shot down a couple of Fallschirmjager.

The MP40 armed U-boat crew stormed the Smith Gun's position, throwing stick grenades and spraying the hapless defenders with submachine gun fire. The crew died to a man and the assaulting
Germans took the emplacement, but not before their leader, "Young Chas", fell to a bayonet. His men
looked at the fallen hero, made their "Sh*t Happens" roll and decided they didn't care, as no one liked
the clown anyway.

Meanwhile the Fallschirmjager were getting the worst of exchanges with the LDV men firing from
houses, but pressed on towards the factory.

At the seafront, it became clear the tourists were not all they seemed, as they tampered with the
Flame fougasse nearest the Kriegsmarine attackers.

With the Kriegsmarine squad crossing the wire, a Beaverette armoured car drove along the seafront
road. It cut down two of the "tourists" with machinegun fire, leaving the remaining visitor and his
Dachshund fleeing for their lives.

At the factory, a group of scientists steered two Panjandrum's towards the Fallschirmjager. One of the
secret weapons careered into a German squad and exploded, killing three. including the Corporal.
Another squad of parachutists close assaulted an LDV squad, killing several, but dying to a man in
the process. German morale, started to waver.

With the attack in the balance, LMG fire from the Kriegsmarine raked the front of the Beaverette, but
could make no impression.

With the second Panjandrum approaching, fire from the parachutists cut down three scientists, but the
last one stuck to his task. The Panjandrum rolled into the Fallschirmjager squad and blew up, with
devastating effect.

At this point the attackers could see the writing on the wall and rapidly made their way to the waiting
boats, several men being taken prisoner by jubilant LDV members in the process.

A most entertaining game, played to "Chain of Command" rules.

Many thanks to my fellow German, Andy "Rolling a One Here" Ja and to Nathan and Steve M, who
played the defenders.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Over the Hill - I Aint Been Shot Mum (IABSM)

6th Royal Scots Fusiliers in action, 26th June 1944, during Operation Epsom, clearing the village of St Manvieu Norrey with the strain of battle obvious on their faces 

One of the games arranged this month was an IABSM scenario produced as a free PDF download by Rich Clarke the author and co-partner of Too Fat Lardies during the early incarnation of the rule set and easily converted to the latest version of the rules

Ian brought along his 15mm collection of WWII Normandy troops and Bob and myself took command of the British and German forces respectively.

The scenario along with others is available to download from the Lardies Yahoo Group, which is well worth joining if you are interested in what I and many of the chaps in the DWG would consider one of the best WWII Company level rule sets available.

The map below lays out the terrain for the game which sees a British infantry company of three platoons supported with a Vickers HMG section and a troop of Shermans tasked with taking Hill 203 at Belle Vue Farm. Their attack is preceded by a good old "stonk" (pre-bombardment) provided by the Royal Artillery.

The German troops defending this sector are a two platoon Panzer Grenadier company from the Hitlerjugend 12th SS Panzer Division supported with a machine gun section, anti-tank platoon and some off table on call 105mm howitzers

The German defenders are able to set up in the hedges in front of the British deployment line marked on the map all the way back to Hill 203.

On June 6th, 1944, as part of the largest amphibious operation the world had ever witnessed, the
British 50th Infantry Division - the Northumbrian - was given the task of assaulting Gold Beach. A
seasoned unit and veteran of the North African campaign, the 50th stormed ashore, and by day’s end
had achieved nearly all of their initial objectives.

But that was two weeks ago, and Allied forces have suffered one setback after another since then.
The Germans have successfully contained the invaders within the beachhead area, having repulsed
every attempt to break out.

But the dawn of a new day brings with it another attempt to break the entrapment. The next big
push - Operation Epsom - is about to begin, but before it can commence, the Allies need to be able
to see “Over the Hill.”

View from the British jump off line with German 'blinds' dotted about the table ahead

It is June 20th, 1944, and you are Captain Roger Roughshaft of the Cheshires, fighting your way through the dense bocage and orchards of Normandy in the face of stiff Jerry resistance.

Ahead of you lies Hill 203, a mere pimple on the face of the French “campagne”, but now of some import. Ferme Belle Vue apparently commands striking views across into the enemy rear, so you and your men must risk life and limb to capture it.

Hill 203 is only accessible by one road, and the bocage means that your supporting armour will be restricted to it. From what your chums have told you, the hill is defended by enemy infantry and AT guns – and they should know, most of ‘em got shot up trying to capture it afore you!

You have persuaded HQ to give you a bit of preliminary bombardment before the show starts. You may allocate three stonks to the table before starting off.

The view from the German held Belle Vue Farm atop Hill 203

It is June 1944, and the Allies have invaded Normandy, set on destroying the great dream of a united Europe. In the Reich all energies are being trained on throwing this enemy back into the Channel in order that the great liberating crusade against bolshevism can continue in the east.

You are Hauptsturmfuhrer Wim van Hemker, commanding a company of the newly raised 12th SS Panzer Division, Hitlerjugend. Two years fighting in the east with Nordland has made you a tough soldier, and you worry for the young volunteers that surround you. Two weeks fighting around Caen has seen you slow down the Allied advance to a snail’s pace, and cause losses that you are sure they cannot endure for long.

Now your Company, reduced to two platoons, is responsible for holding the critical Hill 203. Little more than a ridge, this formerly  insignificant piece of French farmland is now of strategic importance and must be held at all costs. Thus far you have repelled three Tommy attacks. The bocage country in which you are operating limits Tommy armour to a single track that runs up the hill, you will hold firm against any fresh attacks.

Your men are in good spirits, the fresh influx of volunteers have found their feet thanks to the experienced cadre within the group. You may call upon a battery of four 105mm artillery pieces if you require support; Hauptmann von Englers of the 328th Artillery Regiment has been allocated to you to act as a spotter if needed. All artillery will be called in through him. You have no vehicles, all have been withdrawn due to allied air activity.

British artillery fire starts to search out suspected German positions, with hits and shocks recorded on blinds near the farm

With the German positions marked up a amid plenty of dummy positions, the British artillery stonk announced the start of the British attack and needless to say the bulk of fire was directed to the commanding heights of Hill 203 where the German anti-tank gun platoon with its Pak 40 and Panzershreck teams set up in the nearby hedgerows took early shocks and a casualty from the British fire.

The farm with its commanding view of the fields below came in for a good battering from the British guns

Fields close to the farm didn't escape a thorough 'going over' by the 25 lbrs 

The game started with the usual 'cat and mouse' manoeuvring as the opposing blinds attempted to get to the best positions whilst doing their best to spot any likely opposition and get their fire in first.

British blinds indicate a move to infiltrate the left flank of the German positions

The British advance quickly developed and the blinds movement soon indicated a successful infiltration down the left flank of the German positions, using the cover offered by the thick bocage hedgerows that allowed them to build up a strong position to base an attack from once the enemy were spotted.

It was now a question of who would get the drop on who by being able to open up from an advantageous position.

Spotted from the hill a British section breaks cover to sprint to the opposite hedge-row, covered by the other sections

As the ranges between opposing blinds dropped rapidly the first dummies were identified and removed from the table, but inevitably others revealed opposing troops and the first units on to the table started to appear.

Meanwhile the British advance closes in on Ferme Valle

One such are that revealed a Panzergrenadier platoon in occupation was the forward farm at Ferme Valle where the flanking infiltration ha rapidly unhinged the German position but unable to relocate in time the German commander soon realised he had Sherman tanks knocking at the front gate only to find his position suddenly raked from a different direction as Vickers heavy machine-guns opened up from his left flank devastating his command in one fell swoop.

The Battle for Ferme Valle erupts in a hail of Vickers machine-gun fire as German troops are spotted in the vicinity

It is a tribute to the determination of the SS soldiers that the defence didn't collapse in the first fusillade of British fire, but their return fire when it came was feeble due to the shock and casualties sustained with the only real success being a solid Panzerfaust strike to the lead Sherman which began to burn fiercely with no survivors as its ammunition started to 'cook off'.

The tankers revenge was soon in coming as their 75mm HE shells ripped the farm house to pieces killing SS men at the windows and setting the farm house alight with the SS Commander dead among it shattered rafters and smashed walls.

The German defenders are are caught by the rapid flanking move by the British heavy weapons teams

As the British tanks and heavy machine guns pour it on to the farm house other British infantry fire from across the road

The battle for Ferme Valle was over as soon as it started and the surviving SS soldiers attempted to fall back across the field and nearby dried up pond to its rear, but they were not to get very far as British troops and tanks moved in to mop up cutting down any of the SS who showed the slightest resistance.

The German return fire when it comes is limited due to the shock and casualties sustained but they manage to inflict a few casualties and knock out a Sherman that burns on the road by the farm

The battle is over at Ferme Valle and German survivors attempt to escape across the muddy pond to their rear

As the battle lower down the valley erupted, another one commenced soon after as the defenders on the top of Hill 203 started to identify British troops movements to their left with a request sent of to the supporting guns for a mission among the hedgerows to their front.

Despite successive calls for support, the guns were unforthcoming and so the German defenders were forced to resort to other options.

With the battle for the first objective over the British troops move in to mop up and cut down the retreating Germans

The decision to open up with the weapons close at hand was made more easy with the sight of British troops pushing out across the large open field to the their left, supported by carriers.

Meanwhile the British flank advance on Hill 203 is caught in open ground by a hail of machine gun fire and anti-tank shells

As the British troops made a dash for the cover of the next bocage hedge line the carriers were struck by Pak and Panzerschreck shells rapidly reducing two of them to burning wrecks as the troops on foot were subjected to raking fire from the infantry and MG42's set up close to Belle Vue Farm.

SS Panzergrenadiers vainly attempt to get back too the hill top but are cut down by following British infantry

The German attack was damaging, effectively knocking out two sections of British infantry, but leaving the other two able to close in on the hedges lining the left flank of the German position, now threatened by the other unopposed British platoon, supporting heavy machine guns and tanks advance to their right front along the road.

The remaining SS troops prepare to sell themselves dearly as the British advance develops around them

We stopped the game there, but as the German commander, I rather felt the position was becoming untenable leaving the remaining German troops with two options, to either sell themselves dearly atop their hill or to try and cause casualties whilst relinquishing control. Either way was not a good German result.

Any counterattack on the weakened British platoon at best supported by the German artillery when or if it came would likely leave the rest in such a parlous state as to be in a poor condition to resist the follow up British troops with tanks.

This is the first time I had played this particular scenario and I have to say it gave a very good game, posing questions for both sides.

On reflection I might have put my AT assets further forward to try and ambush the tanks early and to have kept my infantry platoons in closer support of one another rather than the spread out in defence in depth as I used in this game. The first fire coming off of a blind on spotted enemy troops can, as we see, be battle turning and the German troops, very often not moving, are at an advantage to getting the drop on their British counterparts.

Bob made very good use of his blinds to rapidly advance through weakly held German areas and thus set up his troops in very advantageous positions when the inevitable spots allowed both sides to open fire.

Thanks to Ian for pulling the game together and to Bob for a very fun fight among the hedgerows.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Jason King and Department S - A Tribute Game to the late great Peter Wyngarde

To mark the sad passing of Peter Wyngarde, Chas decided to take us back to his youth and the wonders of "Department S".

The scenario was that a British army helicopter had crashed in the Devon countryside whilst transporting the advanced ZX80 top secret computer. The local Police had secured the crash site, but
were unaware of the true situation. Department S agents were dispatched to make contact with the
Police and recover the advanced machine.

As feared, foreign agents were already en route to the site, to steal the ground breaking British
technology. Who knows what use they could put such a powerful "computer" to ?

The scene opened at the crash site, near a crossroads in a small hamlet. The Police had established
road blocks on each of the roads into the area and officers were posted by each part of the widely
scattered wreckage.

Drawing up at one checkpoint, Jason King flashed a ready smile to the officers. A quick check against his "seduction" special ability (best not to ask), persuaded the constables to wave him through.

Meanwhile, on a different approach road, Stewart Sullivan was not finding things so easy. "Look, I
work for Interpol." he said. "Interpol, who are they then Sir ? We don't have any of that in these
here parts." the officer replied.

On the last two roads, vehicles carrying east European agents were waved down by the Police. Their
approach was less subtle and sub machine gun fire rang out. One officer fell, but the other dodged.
A shotgun fired and he dodged again, Matrix style. "FFS" the east Europeans said in Russian. Finally a volley of pistol shots cut him down.

Seeing a policeman by a piece of wreckage, Jason King and a scientist went to investigate. "Is that a
"computer" ? King asked. "No" said the boffin, "That is a clock radio". "Ah" said King "Just as I thought. "

The man himself, so cool the camera went to zoom all on its own!

Elsewhere on the crash site, foreign agents cut down a policeman and grabbed the piece of nearby

Meanwhile, Stewart Sullivan and his colleagues had spoken to the chief constable on their car's radio
telephone and been granted access to the hamlet. Just as they arrived foreign agents opened fire
from the crossroads and a fire fight developed. Minor cast members on both sides were cut down
and a Cortina 2.0 GXL slewed across the junction. It's occupant gave fire to the a group of
Department S security officers and four officers emptied their pistols into his vehicle. The car erupted in a fireball.

Jason King and his boffin drove towards the enemy agents carrying part of the wreckage. As they
neared the group, an "evil co-star" leapt onto the side of the vehicle. "I have been waiting to take my
revenge on you King" he said (vendetta special ability) and fired through the window, killing the
boffin. Using his "impossibly cool" trait, King avoided the fire, blew smoke from his cigar in his
assailants face, pushed him from the vehicle and ran him over. "That is why I am a star" he said as he
drove on.

At the crossroads things were going in favour of the forces of law and order. One denim clad thug
remained and he laughed off every attempt to gun him down. It began to look like denim was
bulletproof, but he was eventually overwhelmed.

The enemy agents carrying the ZX80 got into a waiting Jag (it is always a Jag) and gunned the engine.

Just then a Landrover driven by Stewart Sullivan rammed their car, disabling it. The foreign spies
jumped out and tried to run off with the secret device. At this point King came speeding towards
them across a ploughed field. Leaning from the window he fired a shot, killing the man with the
ZX80. The man next to him picked up the device and ran to a waiting car. As it drove off, with King in hot pursuit, the closing credits read:

To Be Continued.....

Many thanks to Chas and Charlie, who played the dastardly devils and Steve L, who joined me with
the men from Department S. A well deserved win for the enemy agents, in a close fought game.

The game was played to the excellent "7TV" rules from "Crooked Dice". They certainly catch the
60s/70s vibe.


P.S. No velvet was harmed or shirt frill creased during the making of this programme, but Jason
King's Chelsea boots did get muddy. Nothing a good buffing with some "Cherry Blossom" polish can't sort out though.