The game opened with advanced British infantry in Bren-gun carriers accompanied by 3 Stuart tanks advancing on a reconnaissance mission beyond the village. The Panther tanks, initially firing from off table, soon dispatched one of the Stuarts which triggered the British tanks advance through the village and along the two parallel roads. This large number of tanks had psychological impact and my original intension of advancing my German tanks towards the village was abandoned in favour of a long-range shooting match which would favour the larger calibre weapons of the Germans.
By the time Tony’s German infantry arrived in their trucks and Sdkfzs the tank versus tank battle was well underway with the air filled with the smell of burning Sherman and Stuart tanks. Sometimes you need a little luck and my Panthers and Tiger tank which were difficult enough to knock out proved to be very lucky indeed. Despite being hit and suppressed numerous times they kept coming back online to dispatch more and more British armour.
Tony’s infantry occupied an area of woodland and continued to exchange fire with the advanced British infantry units while my panthers, as a distraction, started to pick-off their support vehicles with armoured piercing and high explosive shells. Tony’s Sdkfzs played their part but Dave’s British infantry units proved to be very stubborn indeed and it took a long time to whittle their numbers down or force them back to the village in retreat.
Four Sherman fireflies eventually positioned themselves try and eliminate the German armour with their 17pdrs, but again, mainly by sheer luck rather than good management the German tanks failed to burn like their British counterparts which were now littering the battlefield in ever greater numbers.
The infantry units of both sides were hunkered down in woods and building hexes waiting for this epic tank encounter to fizzle out. The tank elimination process slowed significantly as for a few game turns neither side seemed to be able to hit a barn door with a shovel! It was Dave who decided to brake the stalemate and launch his remaining British tanks including all 4 fireflies on a death or glory charge towards the German tanks. As a result one of the Stug IVs blew-up, but this just seemed to incentivise the other German tank commanders to put their glasses on! What followed was the creation of a British tank graveyard which included 2 of the Sherman fireflies.
Game time was beginning to press as the first significant fall of snow of the British winter made for an interesting drive home from Dave’s wargame shed. We took stock of the current state of play on the table. Yes, the majority of British armour was burning brightly in the late afternoon, but the Germans had made no progress whatsoever against the British held town. The advanced British infantry units had proved immoveable and fought brilliantly throughout the game preventing any German territorial gain. A German victory certainly in terms of the very high number of British tanks destroyed, but this was tempered by a very solid defence which could constitute a valid claim for a British strategic win!