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A Close Run Thing
12-13-2010, 11:22 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-13-2010, 11:24 AM by Jim von Krieg.)
#1
A Close Run Thing
Team game set up

Wanting to play a team game, I advertised on the message board. It took some time and a couple of votes, but we agreed on the Scenario, the Optional Rules, and the Teams. For the team set up we voted to use the results of the random draw by Antoni.

Scenario: A Close Run Thing (Salerno)

German Team: Earl (von Earlman)[Commander], Jesse (Kernel T), and Gary (Tide1)
vs.
Allied Team: SOF Sector: Larry Reese [Commander], X Corps (UK): Scott (Cole), and VI Corps (US): Jim (von Krieg)

Optional Rules: Indirect Fire by Map, Armor Facing, Extreme Fog of War, Command Control, and Extreme Assault

Planning

As part of the planning process, I develop a map to coordinate and discuss our plan.

Larry lays out his concept of the the operations: Phase One - Once forces are ashore, we move to take initial primary objectives, labeled "1A." Initial objectives of secondary importance are labeled "1b" and take a backseat to "1A"s in commitment of forces. In brief, the primary moves are to link up at the bridges/fords that separate the two main landing forces, while the SOF try to cause as as much trouble as possible in Salerno (drawing off at least some of the German effort). British forces are to provide secondary efforts / demonstrations towards Salerno and the airfield during phase one.

Phase Two - Once the link up has been achieved, US and UK forces push hard on the airfield and the primary phase two objectives. Secondary attacks will be made as the situation allows towards the 2b secondary objectives. In Phase Two, Salerno now becomes a primary objective for the UK forces (and US forces passed to UK command if necessary).


As an experienced player in this scenario, Scott follows with commentary: Here are my quick thoughts. Let's get started and the Germans will be coming at us very quickly with highly powerful and mobile armor.
I'm beginning the think the hope to win rests with the Americans on the eastern beaches. They will have most of the armor and they definitely need to break out. In our current game it's turn 27 and the Americans are still battling for the river crossing while Salerno will be overrun soon and the Brits are faced with a strong element in the center Battaglia.

I would forget 1B and 2B and concentrate on the hill hex closer to Salerno only. Only move towards 1B to provide defensive buffer room from the very strong element of German paratroopers that will otherwise overwhelm any American battalion trying to take it.

Just concentrate on the hill overlooking Salerno but prepare for a hard fight to take Salerno and then a hard fight to keep it when the Germans roll in with lots of recon and tanks. If the Brits can send over tanks and AT guns that would be good but that whole road is under German observation.

In the center the Brit's 1A is about the only place on the map that is not under observation in those fields ready for harvesting. Should be easy to link up but please keep in mind that the road just to the north of the field is under observation from the hill at Battaglia (town just to the NE of the airfield or 2 on the map). Right now I have a ton of Germans holed up in that town and the only reason I can still advance on it is my artillery. Artillery and smoke are the Brit's only friends.

The Brit commander will need to decide early if he is to try and send his few tanks to help in Salerno or go help join with the Americans. Maybe 50/50.

I do think a demonstration should be made towards the airfield and #2 to keep some Germans pinned there but they will suffer casualties unless the British player advances behind a well placed smoke screen.

Be aware once the Germans send spotters up the mountains they have really good LOS.

All that to say I agree with the Basic plan but don't bother about the Rangers and Commando's 1b objective, they'll get wiped out.

Brits might want to think about providing a little more than just a demonstration to their 1b objectives. I think with maybe 50% of their forces going to link up with the Americans it should be a problem to link up and take the 1A objectives. Salerno will need help and the airfield and #2 will have to be taken eventually to win.

[Image: a018361c2cPlan.jpg]
Paestum (VI Corps Sector)

Historically, the US attempt to “surprise” the enemy by foregoing naval gunfire in support of the landing beaches proved to be a dubious decision at best and a criminally incompetent one at worst. As the green Texas Soldiers’ landing craft approached the beaches, German loudspeakers called out to them in English, "Come on in and give up. We have you covered.” An invitation the boys from Texas ignored as they stormed ashore to crack what Winston Churchill had dubbed the soft underbelly of Europe. Unfortunately for many of them, it was just a little harder than they were expecting with the rampant talk of the Italian Surrender. True, Italy was out of the war, but the Germans were now in charge and preparing a less than friendly reception on the Salerno Beaches. Instead of being surprised, the Germans were waiting.

Mission:

141st Inf Regt – Once on the beaches, push towards OBJ Anvil to block Rte 18 North of Paestum and clear enemy positions overlooking the landing beaches. In support is a British Light Cruiser operating nearby in the Gulf of Salerno. Additionally, the cruiser will engage enemy coastal artillery positions to the North of your landing beaches. For the moment, US forces are dependent on the Royal Navy so be prepared to lose this support if the British forces run into trouble on their beaches.

142nd Inf Regt – Once on the beaches, push toward OBJ Hammer to block Rte 18 South of Paestum, additionally send a Co (-) to clear coastal artillery positions South of the 142nd landing beaches. No additional support is available as the southern beaches are currently out of naval gunfire support range. NOTE: To Earl, the landing location for the 141st and 142nd are flip flopped. Also, the battalion sequence is not accurate. Source: SALERNO, American Operations From the Beaches to the Volturno, 9 September - 6 October 1943.

Commentary:

Once OBJ Anvil and Hammer are taken, 142nd will commence clearing operations of Paestum. While 142nd is clearing Paestum, one battalion of the 141st will maintain a blocking position in the vicinity of (IVO) Anvil and the other two battalions will advance to the North on Rte 18 towards the crossing of the Sele River IVO Ponte Alla Scafa to support 5th Army Commander’s Order to link up with 10th Corps (Br) at that location.

I do not expect the enemy to put up much of a fight for Paestum. I will watch for indications that he’s pulling out to preserve his engineers until he can get additional firepower forward. However, I can’t see my opponent leaving much more than a token force to defend the town to slow me down. Depending what I see once I’m on the two objections I may go straight into the town, or I may loop in behind Paestum and crush it with all my force. If he actually fights for it with his Engineers, then I’ll use most of the 36th Inf Div to overwhelm his defenders.

[Image: d3c8681a22Turn1.jpg]
D-Day, H-Hour

As 1/141 Inf Rgt moves off the beaches towards OBJ Anvil, it comes under coastal artillery and small arms fire from nearby coastal batteries and improved positions over watching the beaches. Forward Observers call for naval gunfire from the British warships offshore to suppress the enemy firing on the advancing troops.

Down the beach on the southern side of the landings, the 1/142 Inf Rgt moves off the beaches with little opposition. As most of the battalion moves towards OBJ Hammer, an under-strength company moves towards the coastal artillery battery flanking the US landing beaches.

Both battalions have limited mobility moving up from the beaches. I disperse and won’t bunch up to prevent heavy casualties from enemy artillery.
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12-14-2010, 01:43 PM,
#2
A Close Run Thing - Turn 2
[Image: f468af6e3aTurn2.jpg]

After watching the replay, indications are that the Germans are bugging out. Trucks loaded up and moved out. I was expecting a whirlwind of artillery fire, but no impacts on the beachhead this turn. His machine guns reach out and caused a few casualties on the northern sector of the landing beaches.

141st Inf Rgt Sector: Enemy machine guns rake my advancing troops from the 1/141st. I suffer additional casualties. However, I receive no cries of “INCOMING” from the beaches. I call in more naval gunfire on the enemy positions overlooking the northern landing beaches. 1/141st moves forward and crosses the small river. Other elements of the 1/141st move to the high ground and push forward towards Rte 18. Behind them, the 2/141st hits the beaches and moves up. I’m careful to maintain a dispersed deployment to minimize enemy artillery impact on my units.

142nd Inf Rgt Sector: On the southern landing beaches, there is little enemy activity. I almost missed a ripe target, but there is an enemy unit loaded on a truck tantalizingly close behind the coastal battery position. What I wouldn’t give for a Duplex Drive tank! My under-strength company is moving towards OBJ Sweep to assault the enemy coastal battery operating on the right flank of my landing beaches. I run my MG unit to get in a shot on the loaded truck. As the .30 caliber rounds reach out, a German truck explodes and the remaining vehicles move quickly away from the incoming machinegun fire. My infantry platoon observes enemy gunners moving around IVO their battery. At 500m’s, the M1 Garands engage the gunners, causing casualties. I’m hoping I can assault the guns the next turn. While this is going on, the remaining elements of the 1/142nd Inf Rgt move towards Rte 18. Behind them, the 2/242nd hits the beaches and moves up. As with its sister battalion in the 141st, the 2/142nd maintains their dispersion to minimize the effects of enemy artillery fire.

Overall, the landing is going well. So far, only limited engagement with the enemy. I need to determine where those trucks are headed. They did not appear to be moving towards the Sele River crossings. At least one moved behind Paestum from the enemy positions overlooking the western end of the landing beaches. It could be they are forming a defense in and/or behind Paestum. If that is the case, I expect they might bring in one of the Kampfgruppen through the Sele River crossings to support a battle for Paestum. I need to watch for that. For now, I need to know what the Engineer battalion in front of me is really doing. I want them to make a stand so I can overwhelm them; however, I suspect he won’t make it that easy for me.
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12-15-2010, 12:21 PM,
#3
A Close Run Thing - Turn 3
[Image: bba20b2330Turn3.jpg]
Ouch, the enemy artillery bombardment I expected the previous turn has arrived. Coastal artillery and heavy mortars are shelling the 141st. Also, its abundantly clear that the German engineer battalion is bugging out to the high ground to the East. As they are taking themselves out the fight, this bodes well for our link up operations IVO the Sele River crossings. In their attempt to pull back, several enemy convoys drive into small arms range. These trucks are packed with what I believe to be engineers running the gauntlet to get out of the area. However, in the mad dash through Paestum they have wandered into the path of my attack. One of the fleeing convoys is struck by machinegun OPFIRE. It stalls the convoy with a line of trucks in the kill zone. Another convoy ends its turn under the noses of my onrushing infantry.

141st Inf Rgt Sector: Enemy artillery and machine guns rake my advancing troops from the 1/141st and the 2/141st. Casualties and retreats occur throughout the impact area. Even though the artillery is causing chaos, it is not disrupting my attack. I’m still moving forward in strength. As the attack continues forward, small arms reaches out to destroy the fleeing trucks along Rte 18. Sitting behind a minefield in improved positions, the enemy machinegun unit is driven back.

142nd Inf Rgt Sector: Oh life is good, the loaded transport is sitting within assault range. Closing in, the Soldiers of the 142nd Inf Rgt advance and launch a devastating attack on the unsuspecting engineers. It is over quickly as the 1/142nd sweeps on to Rte 18. On the right flank, the under-strength company comes under direct fire from the coastal battery which drives them back. There will be no close assault this turn. However, they recover and advance with reinforcements under a hail of bullets striking the embrasures. Casualties are inflicted on the gun crews. This battery probably won’t survive the next turn.

No plan survives first contact. As the Germans are retreating quickly, I am going to push straight on to Rte 18 as quickly as I can. This turn, follow on forces include cavalry, anti-tank, infantry and engineers. As they come off the beach, my engineers lay down a smoke screen. One company of cavalry scouts make a mad dash towards the 142nd troops moving on to Rte 18. I move them up in hopes of catching the fleeing enemy transports. I want to give my opponent a little scare as they dash after his fleeing trucks. Moving North, another company of cavalry scouts head towards the coastal battery harassing the west end of my landing beaches. They are in a position to assault the enemy guns or move up to sever Rte 18 to the North of Paestum.
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12-15-2010, 07:06 PM,
#4
RE: A Close Run Thing
very nice AAR so far, but which optional rules are on?

we (outlaw josey wales + cole vs Huib + remko van den berg) played this scenario twice (the second match reached turn 40) and we think that there are some improvements to be made for playability,

so is this game still going on or are you done now ? (don't want to influence the result of this game )
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12-16-2010, 12:19 AM,
#5
RE: A Close Run Thing
Optional Rules: Indirect Fire by Map, Armor Facing, Extreme Fog of War, Command Control, and Extreme Assault

House Rules: Historical usage of halftracks...

IMHO it was a bang up fight with a group of excellent guys... It went quickly, so quick in fact that at times I had trouble keeping up with the screen shots because the turns were coming back so quickly... everyone was dedicated and that made it a real enjoyable experience... I couldn't asked for a better set of team mates and opponents on the other side..

This battle is over... but I'll unfold a turn every day or so.... Scott is going to drop in some X Corps commentary as his perspective was different... It was clear that he had insight into this fight from his experience with you guys... and it helped temper our plans a bit... We also learned quite a bit about the strengths and weaknesses of our forces and our strategy over the course of the battle...

In addition to my discussion with the team, after the game I had some good e-mail exchanges with the opponents to gather some of their thoughts about it...

Early in the battle, most of our fight focused on VI Corps efforts to become relevant to the center of the battle... Paestum is where the initial friction point is coming ashore... everyone else on my team was moving towards objectives with limited fighting as this is the only point where the Germans are right on the beaches in close proximity to allied forces...

I actually really wanted to play the scenario after looking it over as part of the team scenario discovery process... Initially, we were looking at an East Front fight... as I had been reading extensively about Salerno prior to my Iraq excursions with the thought of building a scenario or series of scenarios depicting these landings...

Once I became aware of Earl's work, I wanted to see what he had put together as it really, and I do mean REALLY peeked my interest... Over the course of this battle I always looked at what was going on in the game AND thinking about how the battle unfolded historically...

Regards,

Jim
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12-16-2010, 09:59 AM,
#6
RE: A Close Run Thing
Great AAR!
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12-19-2010, 03:07 PM,
#7
RE: A Close Run Thing
I've been out of town for the job, but I'm heading home in an hour... I'll update on Sunday with the next turn...

Take care,

Jim
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12-20-2010, 08:15 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-20-2010, 08:30 AM by Jim von Krieg.)
#8
A Close Run Thing - Turn 4, Part 1
Turn 4: Clearing the Beaches.

[Image: 43fb63a50dTurn4a.jpg]

German engineer battalion continues to move to Hill 386 which has long lines of sight into my position.

141st Inf Rgt Sector: Enemy machine-gun unit continues to bottle up the draw off the beach into Paestum. My machine guns and infantry provide covering fire as assault troops move to assault the position and other troops move into blocking positions to prevent this unit’s escape. At the end of the turn, the disrupted enemy unit is overwhelmed in the assault. Only at the end of the assault do I realize my troops will pay a steep price for taking the position. Royal Navy guns target the hex and will blast the position regardless of the fact that the position is now held by friendly forces.

142nd Inf Rgt Sector: On the southern side of the beachhead, the 142nd Infantry Regiment is pushing forward with minimal opposition. Scattered mortar fire harasses their advance. Enemy elements are attempting to drive out of danger. My cavalry and light tanks give chase and catch them. My harassing fire causes casualties and results in a retreat.

I’m just a little upset with myself this turn. My troops will suffer a needless friendly fire incident because I wasn’t paying attention. However, my consolation prize seems to be two platoons of engineers fleeing the coast in their trucks cross country. My cavalry and light tanks will easily run them to ground should they stubbornly persist in this folly of staying with their trucks.
Turn 4: The Chase

[Image: fa4bb73fe7Turn4b.jpg]

Two platoons of what I believe to be engineers are attempting to drive out of the battle zone. I’ll chase them down with my M8 Scout Cars and M5 Tanks. My scout cars close and the 37mm guns open fire to do a little damage: 1 disrupt/kill and retreat. “Cry Havoc, Let Slip the Dogs of War!”

I can't believe how this is developing, but I'm going to attempt to take advantage of my good fortune. Driving trucks out of the area, across open terrain, packed with troops in the back is an invitation to an easy kill. I'll go after the trucks until they unload and those engineers become very dangerous. Once they dismount, I'll rain some naval gunfire down on their heads to really slow them down for my infantry to catch up.
Turn 4: On the Move

[Image: 7a3baa1c8bTurn4c.jpg]

With only token resistance in Paestum, I’ll drive hard for the Crossing at Ponte Alla Scafa with the 141st and follow on forces. Our foe has opened the road for my forces to move rapidly towards the Sele River crossing sites and the eventual link up with X Corps. I have a little trick to force my way across.

I'll have the 142nd Infantry follow the enemy engineers and clear the German defensive position forming on Hill 368.
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12-20-2010, 04:45 PM,
#9
RE: A Close Run Thing
Jim is the man on this AAR business. Nicely presented.

LR
If you run, you'll only die tired.

One hand on the wheel, and one in the flame,
One foot on the gas, and one in the grave.
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12-21-2010, 01:19 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-21-2010, 01:32 PM by Jim von Krieg.)
#10
A Close Run Thing - Turn 4, Part 4
To give everyone an overall view of the battle, one of the things I'll do, is add some of my commentary about those forces commanded by my teammates.

Turn 4: Salerno Falls

[Image: 9cb03f520cTurn4d.jpg]

SOF Sector: On the northern end of our beaches, Salerno falls in the SOF area of operations commanded by Larry Reese. He is also the overall commander. Larry will focus on taking Mt de Chiunzi and Salerno.

In Salerno, the Commandos advance with no enemy contact. Salerno falls without incident. In the northern suburbs, naval gunfire saturates the enemy’s high speed avenue of approach. If we can hold Salerno, we can bottle up the bulk of the German reinforcements late in the game. Commandos will push out into suburbs to establish a defensive line.

What is interesting is that we haven’t seen any enemy activity in or around Salerno. We expected a fight, but so far our foes appear content to let us march unmolested onto our initial objectives. Larry will push out his defenses as his units flow from the beachhead. Once we establish a corridor from the X Corps beaches to Salerno, Scott will rapidly reinforce Salerno to build our strength for the inevitable German counterattacks later in the game.
Turn 4: Rangers Climb to Glory

[Image: 54e682f051Turn4e.jpg]

SOF Sector: As the Rangers advance, there is no enemy contact. We expect little threat in this sector until we get in the vicinity of Mt De Chiunzi. Our plan is to get up on the mountain peak first to establish defensive positions, then rely on our artillery to keep the German Para’s off the heights.

I expect this will probably be our toughest fight due to its relative isolation and our inability to reinforce should trouble develop.

For now, the anticipation of contact near Mt de Chiunzi and Salerno builds with every passing turn, but for now all is quiet throughout the SOF Sector.
Turn 4: Reinforcing Salerno

[Image: dcad4e2007Turn4f.jpg]

X Corps Sector: In the center sector, X Corps is commanded by Scott Cole. I feel his forces are key to the victory as Scott will support both Larry to the north and me to the South. While doing this, he will also have to handle any enemy activity in the center. X Corps is a very powerful organization and has a lot of combat power to accomplish all the missions we’ve saddled Scott with.

To support the defense of Salerno, one of the 46th Inf Div (UK) brigades will move north into the city. While this happens, the remaining units of the 46th will move to hold the road open between the beaches and Salerno to facilitate further reinforcement if required.

In the previous turn, enemy reconnaissance elements moved to the high ground to observe our movement. There is not much we can do about this except to drop some airstrikes on them if they linger too long. Conversely, until the Germans bring some additional firepower forward, there is not much the scouts can do to stop our infantry columns. At some point, I expect artillery will rain down on our exposed positions.

One thing about the scenario is that controlling the high ground gives excellent observation of the surrounding countryside. Once the German artillery is available in strength, this could give them many targets to shoot, resulting in much pain for us. Control the heights if we can, don’t expose ourselves unnecessarily, no bunching up, and keep moving over the exposed ground will need to be our mantra.

Scott will need to move inland to push those all seeing eyes back from Route 18 to facilitate our transfer of troops into the SOF Sector.
Turn 4: Beginning the Long March

[Image: d1700c3f25Turn4g.jpg]

While the 46th Division moves towards Salerno and cutting Route 18, the 56th Division moves to threaten Battapaglia in the center and link up with VI Corps near Ponte Alla Scafa. It will be quite some time before we generate enough combat power to assault “Bat”.

At the moment our priority of effort is to reinforce Salerno and link up with VI Corps IVO Ponte Alla Scafa. Yet, we want to make our presence known near Battapaglia so we can force our more mobile adversaries to keep their forces in defensive positions.

Fighting on the British beaches consisted of clearing enemy coastal batteries and watching enemy 88’s pull back. Nothing significant developing in the X Corps sector at this point.
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