Sunday, 5 January 2014

Action at Oberickelsheim - Part VII - the main clash

Don't you suppress me! Did you see that?
The rain continued throughout turn 8.  The 15th Reconnaissance Battalion couldn't quite extricate itself quickly enough from the American left flank forces, and its morale check resulted in it fleeing for two turns toward the rear.  This left the Americans in this sector free to transfer their attention to the advancing 1/68 Motor Rifle Battalion, which quickly began wilting under the attention.  Pat needed a coordinated attack here, but the nearby 1/20 Tank Battalion was only near by - it being positioned one turn behind was looking like it might be one turn not near enough.

At this stage of the game, Pat had had very little in the way of artillery to call in, because a lot of it was still moving into position off-table, but it was gradually coming on-line.  He had left both the divisional and attached army-level anti-tank battalions, each of 4 stands of towed 100 mm guns, off-table, figuring they would be of no use on-table in a meeting engagement as they would never get into a position to fire; instead he used them as light but long-ranged divisional guns - it was accepted practice for such field guns to be used like this because although they had a light shell, they had a very high rate of fire coupled with a long range: 21 km, longer than anything else in his inventory.  And even though he needed to get lucky suppression shots to touch Aaron's entirely self-propelled artillery, he did manage to take out a stand of M110s!

A nasty ridge line brimming with steel
Aaron's albeit less numerous artillery had come into action much earlier.  Pat had succeeded in infiltrating some stands, including a recon asset, into a village near what was turning into Aaron's "main line" of defence.  This could prove to be a thorn in Aaron's side later on.  However Aaron had at least isolated them, due to a devastating artillery barrage on the following-up infantry elements that were otherwise shielded from the guns of his tanks due to the terrain angles.  Here we see the bulk of Aaron's central forces along with some nervous Czechoslovakian stands in front unwilling to expose themselves to its massed firepower...

Here's the view at the end of turn 8, taken from the northeast.  In the foreground, 1/62 MR Battalion is about to start crossing the newly laid bridge over the river, and the following-up 2/62 MR battalion has backed up behind it, waiting its turn.  The surviving stands from the 15th Reconnaissance Battalion are streaming backwards up the verdant hill to their left, while 2/20 Tank Battalion, along with two stands of MTU-55s from the Divisional bridge-laying company, from the 10th Engineering Battalion, has just made it onto the board.  In front of them 1/20 Tank Battalion is coming under fire, and 1/68 MR Battalion is taking casualties and far too many suppression hits for its liking.  In the distance to the west a powerful American force lies deployed, waiting for their opponents to advance on them.  And in the south, the board lies strangely deserted of troops from either side...

During this turn, Pat finally managed to get an order through to get one of his southerly columns off the jammed-up road net, and moving across country.  Unfortunately for him, the Americans located the 68th Motor Rifle Regimental HQ as a result of lax radio discipline in the process, and called in heavy artillery on it.  Exeunt one RHQ stand.  No more order changes for them unless they came from the DHQ itself, and Pat wasn't willing to expose himself to the same risk of destruction quite yet...

Bridged at last!
The rain continued during the 9th turn.  In the north, the unopposed river crossing was finally under way: the lead elements of the 1/62nd Motor Rifle Battalion had finally made it to the western table edge.  Some victory points in the bag at last for the Czechoslovakians; who had yet to make any serious impact on any American fighting formation in terms of casualties.  To the south of the river crossing, the American Armored Cavalry had by now inflicted enough losses amongst the Green-rated 1/68 MR Battalion that it had to take an early morale test; it failed badly and evaporated.

The accompanying 1/20 Tank Battalion was also taking heavy casualties, with its front elements largely eliminated - its bridge-laying section suddenly found itself perilously close to the action!  You can see its lead recon elements hanging on virtue of being mostly protected from the American fire by the fact they are not "real tanks" and thus not the highest target priority for the opposing M60s....

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