Saturday, 25 November 2017
Sicilian Skirmish 1943
So we had a US Infantry platoon supported by a platoon of M4 Sherman tanks advancing into a small Sicilian village on the flank of the main advance. Expecting desultory resistance from the Italians the Yanks were in for a bit of a surprise as a platoon of Fallschirmjäger had taken up residence.
Starting with some stereotypical shock and awe, the Americans laid down a pre-game barrage and following the patrol phase deployed an infantry section which then advanced quite casually - expecting that any resistance would still be dazed by the artillery. They were in for something of a surprise as, wandering across an open space they came under fire from not one, but two, MG42s both directed by NCOs. Needless to say the result was pretty unpleasant for the GIs.
The Americans had their revenge however, as quickly following the encounter, two Shermans deployed and shelled the house containing the offending machine guns with high explosive!
The firefight continued despite the shelling and the rifle section of the advancing US squad took heavy casualties, including their Corporal, and promptly routed.
The next US platoon was somewhat more circumspect with their advance, leap frogging from building to building whilst the tanks continued to fire on the MG positions. With the German squad pinned by the HE shells a lucky shot made the building unstable. The German platoon sergeant leapt into action, rallied the squad and led them to safety just before the building collapsed.
Meanwhile the second US squad had been spotted by the German artillery observer who called down a barrage on them from his supporting 8cm mortar battery, much to the distress of the Americans.
With the infantry advance slowed by the mortar barrage, the tanks decided to advance alone. On narrowly escaped an ambush from a Panzerknacker team whose teller mine failed to damage the tank. But when it advanced a little too far without infantry support a Fallschirmjäger section close assaulted it with some improvised anti-tank weaponry, grenades attached to jerry cans of petrol. The first failed to damage the tank but the second was luckier and the Sherman was knocked out.
With another Sherman advancing on the flank supported by two US infantry squads the German FO became a little over confident and called for his mortars to fire for effect without a ranging shot. Unfortunately they fell rather too short and fell on his own position!
A desperate fire fight ensued between the Germans, now mostly sheltering in the church and the advancing GIs. With two more of the tanks immobilised by the panzerknacker team, their advance slowed again and with dusk beginning to fall the Germans withdrew.
Overall a very interesting game with each player taking away some painful lessons! Here are a few photos: