Poor Bloody Infantry by Peter Pig WW2 in Bournemouth 2012
US Infantry vs Polish Partizans
Game 3 and the new Americans had still not made an appearance. It was a long trip down to Bournemouth from Madaxeman Towers and I was damned if I would be making the return journey without deploying some US-of-A manpower and hardware at least the once. This meant Game 3 was it, and to hell with the historical matchups! My opponent was a lovingly hand-crafted WW2 Polish partizan army based on Battalion Zoska during the Warsaw Uprising and using liberated German uniforms and a couple of captured - and hence "poor" quality - Panther tanks in a rather unusual, if not perhaps unique army
The lists for my 1943 Germans and US Infantry can be seen here
Clearly the Germans would have been ideal opponents for the Poles, however my need to use the Americans, combined with a vague sense of disquiet about simulating a brutal and somewhat genocidal crackdown on a brave resistance formation meant that the Americans won the day, and the battle was sort of rechristened as some kind of communist inspired WW2.5 insurrection in somewhere in an occupied eastern Europe where the Red Army hadn't quite gotten it's skates on enough to get to Berlin first
19 year old Carl Teebow had never been outside of the 48 contiguous States before last October - but since then his horizons had widened so far and so fast that he suspected that he may never be able to look up at the endless skies of North Dakota again without a pang of loss for the lifetimes he had lived in the past 8 months. He'd been shipped like freight along with 5,000 other green GI's across the Atlantic, hearing of Hitlers assasination and the capitulation of the formerly Nazi armies to the Western powers on the way from the ships captain.
The elation and relief they all felt was soon tempered by learning that a war - not "the war" - was still rumbling on with skirmishes flaring up between the allies and the Communist Russian across the vast ungoverned swathe of Europe left suddenly vacant by the collapse of the Nazi administration. An illegally stowed shortwave radion meant that Carl his platoon buddies were already aware that they may still be headed for combat long before they were officially informed, but quite where they might end up in the sporadic conflagrations blossoming in an arc that reached from Greece to the Baltic they would not know until the made landfall.
The terrain was a mix of urban and forest - easy to imagine as being Polish, if you squinted. The Polish objectives were clustered in the middle of the table, difficult to assult as there was a swathe of open ground in fromt of most of them. At least the American forces had plenry of cover in which to enter the table, and attempt to pin back the first line of Polish defence before moving up to claim the points scoring locations
Being decanted into a Liverpool for whom the end of the German bombing campaign meant the rediscovery of laughter and the extent of its losses in equal measure was a lifechanging experience for the young former farmhand - although a barmaid at the Halfway House may have been being somewhat economical with the truth when she whispered to Carl that it was a "first time" for her as well. But the new war, WW2 & 1/2 as the boys called it - was starting to heat up and instead of being shipped back to Norfolk Carl's company found themselves being flown in a barely patched up DC3 into Holland whilst trying not to peek too hard through the still unrepaired ack-ack punctures in the fuselage below their feet.
A train journey across any number of countries none of them knew existed swiftly followed and then they all had a very rude awakening at the hands of a grizzled scarred officer with a f-you attitude (and less than 2 years on Carl and his squad), who laid out to them in graphic detail the realities of "keeping order" in a part of Eastern Poland that was fast descending into an ideologically fuelled civil war.
The US forces were pretty much all on able at the start with the Poles restructed to just a support platoon and the 2 Panthers. The Americans were inordinately proud of their jeep-mounted HMG (from Forged in battle), and in their first move made a highly risky and bold high speed road move, straight past the stunned Poles and parked the Jeep on the Polish base edge! Now the Poles would have HMG fire from their rear to worry about
Because in PBI everything is grid based, infantry occupy a square, and effectively face (and shoot) all round - there is no advantage to attacking them from the rear. However, driving a jeep across the table in turn 1 is still pretty neat!
The jeep was quickly followed by the rest of the (Forged in battle) support platoon - another MG team and a light mortar - who moved up in their (Old Glory Command Decision) half track and deployed to the flank of the Polish line. The captured Panther crew were just too inexperienced to react to the swift maneuvers of the Americans, and failed to get away any shots as the motorized unit raced by their position
The Poles had captured a cache of German uniforms and materiel in the Warsaw uprising, and the tripod-mounted MG42's were a lot easier to operate than the Panther. The German technology was soon being deployed to lethal effect from the cover of some farm outbuildings and the American troops ducked for cover as the infantry found it rather harder to advance than the motorized support platoon had done
The Panther crew might not be the best, and there were very few Polish infantry on table but the tank was still a massive obstacle plonked on top of one of the objectives. It would need to be cleared in order for the Americans to record a decent points total and make their infantry superiority count
The second Panther was hidden in a wood next to some rapidly-dug entrenchments in which the rest of the Polish weapons teams cowered. The Americans were using superiority of numbers as a form of defence, advancing on a wide front with infantry (FiB again) taking cover behind some (Battlefront) Shermans as they advanced.
Being in the same square as friendly armour provides partial cover for infantry
The sun broke through the clouds (or the white balance setting on my camera got changed)
The two American tanks opened up on the Panther - but the 75mm ammunition simply bounced off the massive piece of recycled technology leaving it unscathed - and the Polish MG teams in their bunker were starting to find their range as well. Things were not going as well for the US forces as they had hoped
Carl hunkered down in the lee of the Sherman as bullets dinged off the tank's armour, showering him with a surreal warm snowfall of olive drap paint chippings. 2 monhs ago these Polish patizans would have been allies, but now they were shooting at him and his friends. Life could take some strange turns, but still the intense rush of combat was something that exhilarated and horrified him in equal measure.
There were some in his platoon who simply hadn't been able to cope with the emotional rollercoaster of going off to war, then having prospect of death suddenly whiskeed away by Hitler's assasin, then returned with interest by a big man with the a bigger moustache who had been best friends with Roosevelt in those photos fron Yalta that were in all the papers only a year ago. Some of those who had cracked were on a boat back to an uncertain future in the military back in the US - but Carl's future was equally uncertain here in a Polish forest. At least he had an enemy on which to vent his frustration. Carl checked his Garand, leant round the side of the Sherman and let off a couple of rounds towards the enemy bunker.
The weapons platoon were now set up and firing into the Polish positions, but the Poles had dug in well and knew the countryside - the ill-aimed American shots inflicted no damage on the Partizans defending their country against another new wave of foreign aggressors
The Americans, rapidly giving up on a frontal assault, started to infiltrate a platooon of infantry, supported by a Sherman with a dozer attachment down the right flank. But the Poles manning the captured Panther were starting to understand how to get the best out of their machinery and a well aimed round hit the large, slow moving targe - the Sherman was immobilized, halting the advance of 1/3 of the US armoured capability attached to the infantry company that day
Even without armour the Americans continued to push forward - they could see the risk of getting bogged down as game time was already moving along
With the Sherman's guns not really cutting the mustard against the armour of the Panther, bazooka teams moved up to the edge of the forest and carefully took aim on the German monster blocking their path
With time fast running out (the 3rd game had started a bit late and so would be short!) a squad of infantry made a rush for the one uncontested objective - it would place them right in front of the Polish HMG teams, but with no other points being scored it was a risk the Americans felt was worth taking
With similar thoughts in mind the 2 remaing mobile Shermans rolled forward to interdict the Polish positions from close range. But still the Panther was proving impermeable to the best the Americans could throw at it, as shells and bazooka rounds bounced off its thick sloped armour.
The platoon tasked with holding the downed Me109 objective (a pre-painted airfix kit, cut up and based) were taking heavy casulaties, and their return fire was not damaging the Poles at all
The game ends rather prematurely with no Polish casulaties at all, and with the squad tasked with taking the objective entirely wiped out. The Poles score buckets pf points for holding the table, plus some more for doing so with none of their reserves actually needed on table - and the Americans record almost a complete zero
The only victory for America today is a moral one. The Jeep has performed its task with style and elan, and sits proudly on the Polish baseline. At least their trip to Bournemouth has not been wasted!
The Result is a large defeat for the US forces, as the Poles hold the table
Post Match Summary from the American Commander
Hey man, that was a real war of attrition out there on the field today. I thought our playbook was going to be good enough to create a fast moving offense that these Red Commie "Po-lacks Partizans" would have no answer to, but their de-fence proved astonishingly tough. I don't want to talk about illegal substances as no sportsman likes to get caught, sorry, be accused of doping, but hey, there was something unusual going on out there today that I cannot account for without invoking the right to free speech
We've been following the stats on the "Po-lack Partizans" boys and I didn't expect the team they put out. We played the Panther Defence earlier in this campaign and I knew all abot how tough those Linebackers can be defensively, but as far as I understood there were no player transfers allowed until the end of the season - so seeing two of thse Panthers turn up here in Po-lack landwas a real swerveball
The bazooka teams looked to be the answer for a while, but they got in some real big hits but the Panthers just didn't go down. What can I say?
At least our running game ws on fire, and the Jeep in particular needs to be singled out for praise. He made a fantastic run past the Partizan's de-fence, straight down the touchline and into the end-zone and when that happened I felt we were going to move on from there and wrap up the game. Unfortunately he failed to score once he got into the end-zone, which doesn't happen very often to be sure. So, good in parts, but next time we are at home and that will be better I'm sure.
Montgomery Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You utter fool. It may be one of the most well guarded secrets of the Second World War, however I have never really had that much respect for the martial abilities of my American colleagues, and I think this battle proves that I am right - although I already knoew I was right anyway, because I just am.
Yet again you failed to take into account the strategic context in which you were operating. The game was going to be cut short as time ran out - so wht did you not pick a defensive stance? Then the attacking player would have very little time to occupy the objectives, and you could rack up points easily?
But instead you were obsessed with deploying a lone jeep, and driving it around. Now, I agree that it was a good display of driving, but we are playing PBI on a 4' x 4' table, not Gran Turismo on the PS3. If you think this counts as a success, you are hopelessly misinformed as defining your own objectives is not really a luxury many of us enjoy. Now, someone as good as I does fall into that category, however that is largely because a carefully pre planned massive artillery barrage followed by a pragmatic cautious advance along pre-planned lines of attack whilst working to conserve the lives of the men under my command is always the right and proper way to fight a war.
At the end, attacking in this battle was the worst plan since Abraham Lincoln said "Oh I'm sick of kicking around the house tonight, let's go take in a show!".
That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?