A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

March 21, 2023

Another look at the Gaming the Battle of La Fiere

A view of a German Beutepanzer (captured French) tank on the bridge at La Fiere (not from this scenario but a cool picture)

There is still much to do onto Aquia Line. But given that it is operational and presentable with regard to scenery, I have starting to mix in other hobbies in my spare time. This include wildlife (mostly birds) photography, model building, figure painting and some wargaming.

A friend of mine is starting a Youtube channel for wargaming. He asked me to run a scenario for his channel. It will be a simplified version of the flight for the bridge at La Fiere. I made a new terrain board for the game. Last weekend John Drye, Mark Franke, and Marty McGuirk helped me play test the scenario using a set of rules that were new to us. They were called One Hour Skirmish Rules.  

Notes from play testing a La Fiere Scenario 1 using One Hour Skirmish Rules

We had 4 players. All were new to the game and 3 had not read the rules before the game. It took about 30-40 minutes of example play and explanations to learn the rules. They started to get the hang of it. By the end of the game, we had it sorted out.  Everyone had a blast.

The forces involved in this scenario represent elements of the US 82nd Airborne Division (and some 101st Airborne that were scattered in this area) versus the German 91st Air Landing Division, specifically the 1057th Infantry Battalion and the 100th Panzer Replacement and Training Battalion. The latter was equipped with outdated German and captured French tanks. The battle occurs during the morning hours on June 6th, 1944, D-Day.

The bridge crossing the Merderet at La Fière is of critical importance to both the German and US operations in this area of Normandy. The struggle for the La Fière bridge began with the 82nd Airborne Division’s nighttime drop as part of Operation Neptune. The paratroopers reached the bridge and after intense close combat secured both ends of the causeway over the inundated land. This is the part of the action we are playing today.

Soon, however, a heavy German counterattack with armor support pushed across the causeway and back to the bridge. Two armored assaults were attempted, but both were repulsed, with the bridge never leaving American control. Later on with the arrival of infantry and tanks from Utah Beach the La Fière crossing was fully secured by the Allies. 

This scenario represents the first US attack to capture the farm and bridge early in the morning. The farm at La Fière dominates the bridge and must be cleared of German troops. The farm is a typical ancient stone complex of hedges, stone walls and sheds. But it is dominated by the 4 story Manoir (manor house).

The scenario required the American paratroopers to clear the farm complex of Germans. The US players had one ad hoc platoon of paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne division with 2 squads of 9 men plus a 2-man LMG team, a bazooka team, a 60mm mortar and two leaders (+3 and a +2)

The Germans had 2 squads of 7 men and a 2-man LMG team, a 2-man HMG, and a platoon leader (+2).

German motivation was 2 and Paratroopers was 3.

The Americans deployed 6 inches from the North edge, though they had the option of also deploying on the east edge. The Americans won the initiative  moved first. First squad moved along either side of the small trail parallel to the Merderet River. Second squad advanced behind the wood shed and toward the hedge paralleling the road.

Germans spread out to defend the farm

The Germans were surprised and were not prepared for the attack. Thus must deploy within 6 inches any door of the Manior. Their first squad went west to defend the front gate. The second squad sent a fire team east to cover the road, while the other fire team stayed in the manoir. The HMG was deployed between two buildings and covered the open field to the north

The Americans established a good base of fire and starting attritting the German defenders that were taking cover in and behind stone walls and buildings. Though out gunned, the Germans killed a few paratroopers including 1st Squad’s LMG team that was firing from across the road junction.

Both American squads got in an good assault position on the north side of the trail. From their assault position, American marksmanship caused heavy losses on the German fire team on the east side of the map deployed in the woods. The Germans were able to kill a few paratroopers in the process. With the German fire team that was defending the road now ineffective, they advanced across the main road. There were several hand to hand combats. The turning point occurred when an over eager paratrooper from American 2nd squad accidentally jumped a hedge, closed assaulted, and killed his own squad leader. A German took advantage of the situation and killed the confused American attacker.

American player trying to advance with some
semblance of order given the chaotic rules

Mean while on the western side, a German LMG behind the stone wall managed to survive a hail of incoming rifle and grenade fire and killed a few Americans as they advanced toward towards the front gate. Other Germans put up a good fight from behind the stone buildings but they suffered more casualties including the platoon leader. In the face of massive incoming American fire, the Germans retreated back into the courtyard and into various buildings around the perimeter. They set up interlocking fields of fire covering the courtyard to prepare for the final defense. It should be noted that this is an ancient French farm complex built for defense. As such, it very few outward facing windows. So it is difficult to find outward facing firing positions to cover the far approaches.

The Bruiser - Jane

Back on the east side, US second squad sent in their bruiser, Jane, also known as Toughie the airborne soldier, who promptly killed that lone German left defending that side. (BTW the Jane figure was a female soldier armed with a coke bottle, teddy bear, and a Thompson SMG. Turns out she is a martial arts and knife fighting expert. She is from the Hot and Dangerous figure collection from Wargames company). She then close-assaulted the German HMG after a few grenades softened them up. She was getting ready to take out more Germans when the joker popped up.

Things were looking bad for the Germans as they lost their leader and had 6 casualties. But the paratroopers had 9 casualties and lost their morale roll. (Actually, we screwed up all the morale rolls as we forget to draw multiple cards if leaders were present.)  So the game was over with a narrow German win.

Overall, we enjoyed the game. One player thought it was too simplified, but all thought it was fun. 

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