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Noville 1944

INTRODUCTION

Loosely based on the battle for Noville, which took place in the opening phases of the German Ardennes offensive. Purists will note that the map is actually the wrong way round for the Noville battle and that there was much more artillery available.

As a test of the hybrid Crossfire/SL/ASL rules being tested by the WW2 Napnuts, we gamed an assault on a fixed position using the battle for Noville as an example.

German Order of Battle
1st Wave:       

Company of PanzerGrenadiers (Veteran, SS)
 4 late Panthers, 1 late Pzr IV

Reinforcements:         

2 Additional Panthers, 1 late Pzr IV
               
US Order of Battle
Defenders:              

Company of 101st Airborne, 506th PIR (Veteran)
2 Sherman 75s, 1 Sherman 76, 1 M10 TD, 1 M24 Chaffee

Reinforcement:  

1 M10 TD

The 2nd M10 arrives fairly early in the game as reinforcement. The additional Panthers and Panzer IV arrive only after the Germans have suffered significant losses.

Objective

As should be fairly obvious from the order of battle information, the US commander must defend the town and the road with very limited forces. As an added wrinkle, he must also exit a minimum of 1 tank/tank destroyer and a platoon of infantry from the town before he is cut off and destroyed. The aim of the US player is simply to cause maximum casualties and withdraw. The US player is unaware that an additional M10 will arrive in the early stages of the game.

The German commander is required to bash through the town, neutralizing fire from the buildings and clearing the path to the next objective. He knows he has a full tank platoon but is unaware of reinforcements.

How it went

Oberst Mike, commanding a mixed tank and infantry force for the umpteenth time this year, started cautiously: he established a fire base of 2 Panthers supported by an infantry platoon in the woods to the North, and began to recce by fire the buildings to his immediate front. On the Western flank, he sent his 3 remaining Panzers and 2 halftracks to breach the town defences.

Major Wahj had deployed his tanks in good ambush positions on the left flank and in the woods to the south, with infantry in the outer perimeter, well supplied with Bazookas (1/platoon). The displacement of the 76mm guns was critical and he adopted a 1-up, 1-down position behind the buildings facing the N-S Road.

As the first Panther from Kampfgruppe Mike rolled forward, it was taken under fire by an M4A3E8 which too late realized that the Panthers front armour was impervious to a standard AP round from a 76mm gun! The Panther's reply took out the M4A3E8 and that was the end of the 76mm Shermans. On the Western flank, a second Panther took fire from a Sherman 75mm, shrugged it off and put a 75mm round through the Sherman. 2-0 Kampfgruppe Mike. Things were looking bleak for the plucky Yanks.

Fortunately for Task Force DeWahj, a second M10 appeared to the South and was immediately deployed into the woods, giving the Yanks a semblance of firepower in the face of the German armoured juggernaut.

Kampfgruppe Mike's firebase infantry began to probe at the Northernmost buildings, and a Panther from the firebase pushed forward to breach the outer defences but came under accurate bazooka fire which knocked it out. The German infantry around the firebase also took losses due to the presence of an American halftrack which delivered accurate 0.50 calibre fire into the trees. However, the US force lacked armour on the front with the loss of the Easy Eight and began to withdraw to second line positions to the South.

On the left flank, a Panther also pushed forward but fell to a crossfire of M10 APCR and 75mm AP rounds. Suddenly, the losses were even.

At about this point, the Chaffee lurking in the woods launched a bold counter-attack, brewing the Panzer IV and a halftrack before being in turn destroyed by the remaining Panther on the Western flank. On the Northern flank, a sharp disagreement between an advancing Panther and a Sherman (caught on the flank) had also caused a 3rd and final Sherman casualty. The loss of this final Sherman was accompanied by the appearance of additional German armour and resulted in a decision by the commander of Task Force Wahj to begin the withdrawal from all first line positions in the North, and several sections were lost in the rush to reach the second line. However, about half of the US infantry forces remained, together with both M10s, and an orderly withdrawal out of the town was accomplished.

POST MORTEM

US losses:

2 Sherman 75s
1 Sherman 76
1 Chaffee
1 Halftrack

Approx. 1-2 platoons of infantry

German losses:

2 Panthers
1 Panzer IVs
1 Halftrack

Approx. 1 platoon of infantry

Tactically, the Germans did well -- the decision to establish a firebase to hold down the front in the North and the flanking action were absolutely the right thing to do given the quality of armour at the German commanders disposal. However, the failure to complete a comprehensive recce by fire in front proved costly: it caused the first Panther loss. On the flank, the second Panther loss was caused by a well executed ambush by Task Force Wahj.

Task Force Wahj made 1 key mistake early in the game: it revealed it positions early by taking frontal shots at the Panthers, which resulted in crippling early losses. Even though Task Force Wahj managed to inflict heavy losses on the German attackers, it could not cause enough damage to claim a tactical victory.

So, Tactical Victory to kampfgruppe Mike but since TaskForce DeWahj never looked in real danger of being cutoff and destroyed, it should not count as a Major Victory.

This was probably the most tactically 'correct' play we have seen in NN WW2 gaming and very well-handled by both sides.

Report by WW2 Coordinator: LK Tho