After months of building, painting, and playing a few test games, we were finally ready to kick-off our ‘Winged Horse’ campaign – the British 6th Airborne battle on and immediately after D-Day 6th June 1944.
Appropriately, the first scenario is ‘Operation Deadstick’; the assault on the Orne Canal Bridge.
The British force for the assault comprised of 2 Squads of 10 Paratroopers, 1 5-man Engineers section and 3 Senior Leaders: Major Howard, Lt. Brotheridge and Sgt. Tappenden. All troops are Elite.
The Paras started with a Force Morale of 9
The German defenders comprised of a squad of 10 Sentries (classed as Green) led by a Sergeant, a Regular Infantry Squad, a Pak 38 with crew, a tripod mounted MG-42, plus a couple of support options which may or may not appear during the game.
Since this was a mix of Green and Regular troops, when deciding the Force Morale, we applied a -1 modifier to the Dice Roll. The Germans had a Force Morale of 8.
This was the scenario map.
…and how it looked on the table.
The Paras have a single Jump-Off Point – the Glider. For the Germans, one JOP is placed in the large house at the end of the table (where the Regular garrison is sleeping, and the other two JOPs were placed around the trench system, on the far side of the river)
The game started with the British Glider landing. The bridge can be seen in the distance…
The British troops hastily disembarked…
The German Sentries remained on the bridge, oblivious to their approaching nemesis.
The Brits continued to push forward, with Major Howard urging the Engineers forward.
The Brits moved closer…
…but under cover of darkness, the sentries had no idea that the Paras were almost upon them.
Suddenly, the Sentries see movement. A couple let off hasty, wild shots, whilst the third yells at the top of his voice “Achtung! Achtung! Fallschirmjager!”
Whilst trying to work out how best the spotting rules worked, we quickly dispensed with the proposed rules for sound. Instead, we came up with a simple system of rolling 3D6, and the result was the number of inches that the sentries could see. This was rolled at the start of the phase, and if the sentries could see the Paras, the alarm was raised.
Hearing the alarm, the garrison troops quickly exited their billet, still pulling on bit of kit and clothing
The Brits opened fire on the sentries. The initial burst only caused the Sentries to duck for cover (No casualties, but 4 shock – pinned)
But the second burst was far more deadly, killing two…
…and sending the third running for the Fatherland… (-1 Force Morale)
The Paras quickly advanced onto the bridge…
…and over it (at the point, Dave managed to roll four consecutive phases)
The advance squad overrun a Jump-Off Point
Rather belatedly, the rest of the German sentries rouse from their beds, and start to engage the Paras on the bridge, but with little effect
Whilst the garrison troops move up the road…
Meanwhile, the Engineers start searching the bridge for possible demolition charges (Unbeknownst to Dave, one of the ways that the Germans can win this scenario is by blowing the bridge up. Unfortunately, this does rely on getting a Senior Leader into the control bunker, which is now behind Paras…)
Lt. Brotheridge gets to the end of the bridge (without getting shot!) and Dave ends the turn, capturing the JOP. (-1 Force Morale)
As the Germans frantically try and form a defence – looking to enter the Cafe, there is the sound of a car: Major Schmidt has arrived back from a visit to his girlfriend…
They are rather surprised to be confronted by the Brits, and open fire, causing a bit of consternation amongst the British, but little else. The Paras return fire with deadly affect. The driver is killed (-1 Force Morale), and as he slumps over the wheel, the car leaps forward, narrowly missing Lt. Brotheridge (who leaps out of the way) and crashes into the side of the bridge.
Schmidt abandons the car, and makes a break for the cover of the Cafe…
…but is gunned down in the street as he flees, initially wounded by rifle fire and then finished off by the Sten of Lt. Brotheridge. (-2 Force Morale)
The sentries continue to fire at the Engineers on the bridge, but their fire proves ineffective. The Engineers then find and disarm the demolition charges, effectively ending the chances of German victory.
Reinforcements appear (back from the local brothel, apparently), but seemed reluctant to join the fray…
And the battle culminated in a firefight between the Paras in the trenches and the squad in the Cafe. However, the British managed to bring an overwhelming amount of firepower to bear (Dave was rolling consecutive phases again) and the remain squad was quickly dispatched.
It was during this firefight that the British suffered their only casualties of the game, with a single soldier being killed and one of the Corporals being wounded. The Germans lost their final three Force Morale points when the German Junior Leader was first wounded, then killed, and then the squad was routed.
Final Force Morale score: British – 8 : 0 – Germans
“Ham and Jam! Ham and Jam! Ham and bloody Jam!”
I was expecting this scenario to be an uphill struggle for the Germans, and so it proved – in the end the Paras lost a single man killed, plus a wounded Corporal, which accounted for their single loss of a Force Morale point). It wasn’t helped by the fact the Dave managed to roll four consecutive phases early in the game and got across the bridge before I could mount any form of defensive line. It also isolated my MG-42, (which was in the control bunker – I never managed to awaken the crew to get them across the river to man it) and made blowing up the bridge extremely difficult.
The rules we played to reflect surprise seemed to work, but were pretty brutal – as the Germans, my hands were tied for most of the game due to lack of Command Dice. I’d just gained a full number when I started losing them again due to Force Morale. The appearance and subsequent death of Major Schmidt was the highlight of the game, although this did cause the biggest delay – The Paras hit the Kubelwagen, which caused it to leap forward at full speed (although this turned out to be 8″). Lt. Brotheridge was stood in the way, but we couldn’t find any rules for vehicles running into infantry (except for tank overruns) – eventually we decided that Brotheridge should take a test as if his squad had been hit, he survived, rolled out of the way, and then killed Major Schmidt for trying to run him down with his car – great stuff!
Finally, why ‘Ham and Marmalde’? Well, this was the assault on the Orne Canal Bridge, but we used much more generic scenery. Pegasus Bridge and Cafe Grondee are iconic bits of scenery, but as such are only really useful for the one scenario. We decided that we would rather spend our funds elsewhere, rather than purchase/build these buildings – so this was indeed almost Pegasus Bridge, but not quite…