Tactical Problem #4 Brigade Stands Firm.
by Larry Brien
The British Brigade defensive boxes have proven time and time again to be one of the toughest nuts to crack. The Battalions in their dug-in position offer mutual fire support as well as help from some very heavy artillery fire.
However in this scenario the British fortress is flawed in its setup. The battalions configuration resembles a Y due to the terrain for the most part. Sherwood Foresters (SF) forms the base of the Y with the Duke of Wellington (DoW) on the left arm and the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) on the right. The slight rise south of the Hospital and between the Dow and KSLI prohibits maximum fire support for each other laterally. A frontal attack towards the DoW and KSLI position will prove to be disastrous since so much fire power is available including two minefields hexes 30.19 and 31.19, which will inhibit armor movement for the Germans.
During a night attack and in bad weather the SF could easily be severed from the arms by smoke screen and destroyed before the supporting battalions could react as reflected in the poor 5 prep. rating until 0300hrs and the lose of at lest one turn before drawing up a new op sheet as per ARS rule 5.1 c. On the positive side the British have good to very good morale and an effective area fire value. The at-start dug in status and plenty of artillery to fast fire with, can only serve to make them a force to be reckoned with on the defense. If the British should gamble and decide to counter attack a weak German position he will have to remember ARS rule 1.7, that is full dug in status will never be achieved again.
The Germans on the other hand must have a plan and understand that whatever formula initiated, it will be bloody. Remember the prep rating of 3 allows them the freedom and flexibility to change direction very quickly, but dont get cold feet and change plans to early. The night attack is an advantage against the deadly British artillery, and dug in infantry. The German morale is good to poor. Even the 6 area fire value for the 145 Regt can be easily halved when suppressed in close combat because of their poor 4 morale rating. Make sure that the British units have lost several steps before doing a C.C. Understand the nature of the force under your command. You have a good supply of artillery with both smoke and HE. Armor support is available with a healthy number of infantry but dont squander them needlessly. However because of the time constraints you will need to be moving constantly. Be it resolved this is going to be knife fight to the end. So with the above information in mind its time to set about drawing up an op sheet. Like a cooking receipt the plan will show you the ingredients needed. Just remember to season it to taste. Because of the fluid nature of the attack there will rarely be any hex specifics other than the prep bombardment. You will mainly have axis of advance to follow.
Overview: Dont be concerned about exposing your units since the Germans are hitting the Brits with a prep bombardment and then moving at night. The German plan which is divided into two phases (Ops Sheets), will have in phase 1 the 145th and 104th Regt move from the south left and right respectively attacking the SF position and then in phase 2 move gradually north towards the KSLI and DoW. The units from 725, 71, 165 and remaining supporting units will set up on the northern perimeter and slowly move south offering harassing fire and the anvil upon which the 145th and 104th Regt will hopefully eliminate the British Brigade.
Prep Bombardment Hexes: 56th Nebelwerfer Regt. Hex 29.13 (this will hit some British units 85% of the time) three battery fire from 3 Arty Bn hexes 34.13, 35.14, and 36.15. Three battery fire from 450 Arty Bn hexes 26.10, 33.10 and 32.08. The hexes chosen were in the southern SF sector the results are always a gamble but every step lose is one less the Germans will have to worry about.
Units area setup: 145 Gr Regt. I & II Bn all units except stugg III, will setup behind and on the MLR line wi. 7 hexes of 13.07. Have the infantry up front of course. Hold up the Mtr units in the gully hexes 13.10 and /or 12.10. The 104 PG Regt. I & II Bn all units except 13 company setup behind and on the MLR line wi. 7 hexes of 50.05 infantry up front and Mtr units within striking distance of the fortress boxes. The remaining units, the 725 Gr Regt and the stugg III/145 Regt. setup in an arch wi 6 hexes of 18.25. The 71 PG Regt. 315 Flak Abt and the 13 company/ 104 PG setup in an arch wi 7 hexes of 40.23. The Pz IV will setup on the road net hexes 49.15 to 48.08. The 65 Eng. Bn setup wi 2 hexes of 46.15 in the gully.
Objective: The first thing that should happen before the prep. bombardment lands for effect is the infiltration movement. The 145th Regt should have four units from different battalions move towards the western perimeter of the SF position at the same time have five units from the 104th move towards the eastern position around the building in hex 35.10. After the artillery has been resolved have the units which are in position from infiltrating start spotting for HE and smoke. Try using both these assets to screen any support fire from the KSLI and DOW by smoking the north edge of SF position and hammer the SF position itself with HE. Dont waste anytime moving out. The 145th Regt will move towards SF via hex XX.05 & XX.10 keeping company units one or two hexes apart if possible. They will try and take out the lower western SF units. The 104 Regt. Will move into the building via hex XX.05 & XX.10 from the east and up the gully from the south. The MG units from both these Regt. Will move into position in an arch north of the SF box and guard against a retreat or supportive advance from the two northern battalions. The MG units should be placed somewhere along hexes 21.14, 22.14, down to 21.10 or 23.11 & 36.12 or 35.09. Once the SF box is somewhat secured after the elimination of the British A/T and Mtr start moving the German A/T guns & Pz IV towards hex 30.09 and setup defensive position in general area to wait for the British armor to show up. At the same time the northern section involving the 725th and the 115/15 PG stuggs should be slowly moving towards the DOW position using harassing fire. The 71st , 13th /104 Regt., 315th Flak will conduct similar movement upon the KSLI position. Once the MG units and northern section are in place, have them call the occasional artillery barrage to soften up the KSLI position. The 165th Eng. Bn units are good for close quarter assaults so keep them for the next phase on the KSLI position.
Once the Sherwood Foresters are eliminated your attention to phase two will come into play. That is to continue to roll up the center and right side of the British position. The 104th Regt will move onto the bottom right side of the KSLI and assault the defensive box from there. The 145th Regt should fan out across the bottom of both the Dow and KSLI applying an ever tightening ring of fire while moving towards the British position. Remember you have some reinforcements coming your way. The artillery ammo will be a valuable addition, use it wisely. The Tigers are a bonus but dont rest your hopes of a victory on them. The road net prohibits maximum use of their fire power.
In conclusion if you can destroy the Sherwood Foresters box by 0400hrs. things are going as planned. Remember to use your smoke as well as the HE and things will come together. Losses will be high especially once you set upon the KSLIs position. Keep moving, be brave, dont bunch up and you could carry the day.