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http://www.thewargamespot.com

French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

on Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:21 pm
May 15th, 1940. The germans have broken the french front at Sedán and at least 3 panzer divisions have crossed the Meuse, aiming for the canal coast. But in doing so, they have left a very weakened left flank. The tiny village of Stonne, with its privilieged views over the meuse crossing sites, must be controlled by both sides if they want to achieve victory in the coming days.
The germans have committed infantry regiment Grossdeutschland supported by elements of the 10th Panzer Division to capture and hold the village.
For their part, the French high command has ordered the 3rd DCR (Division Cuirassé de Reserve), the 3eme DIM, and the remains of the battered 55th DI to counteratack inmediately. If successful they would isolate the Panzer Divisions and threaten their supply lines.

Link to the AAR in my blog: http://www.thewargamespot.com/french-attack-on-stonne-may-1940/
(But the complete report is reproduced here)

The scenario:
I liked the idea of playing a big battle using all Of my friend Cacho’s french toys. So I grabbed a France 1940 “skirmish campaigns” booklet and heavily modified it. The book has some historical mistakes but is good enough.
The french would be the attackers. And they would have 3 different forces at their disposal and 3 entry points (main right, main left, flanking). Two of this forces must be the main effort (entering on turn 1), and one of them must be selected as the flanking force (entering on turn 3-5). Each with their own commander and with their own entry point. They must agree before the game starts which force will enter by which entry point.
For every French tank that reaches the crossroad at Stonne, the german must take a BR counter (max of 3).

The germans have an infantry platoon + supports already on table with all their defences. An additional platoon + Stug battery will arrive on turn 4.

As usual with my BG games, BR breaking alone does not guarantee victory. In order to win each side must break the enenmy’s BR AND be in control of a certain number of objectives (or at least be contesting them).
There would be 5 objectives. They are:
Three secondary objectives: The café de la Paix, The Barn and the large residential house
Two primary objectives: The Windmill and the crossroads (by the fountain)
The primary objectives would be re-scored in turns 6, 10 and 14 with a value of 2BR counters each
All objectives except the crossroad can be controlled by infantry only
No benefical BR counter could be drawn as a result of objectives.

It is a classical defence against overwhelming odds until help comes.

The terrain:
I copied it exactly from the Stonne scenario. Stonne was placed on a plateau with two dominant hills. A smoke screen was fired by the french all over the battlefield. No aimed fire on turn 1, and -1 to observe on turn 2.
Here a magnificent map drawn by our top cartographist:


And the terrain:







FRENCH FORCES:
The french are attacking, so they suffer from Command chaos.
As told, the french have 3 different forces:

Groupe VITESSE
1x AMR-35 recce command
4x Panhard AMD 178
1x Chasseur Portés platoon, mounted in Lorraine L38 APC’s
60mm mortar
Hotchkiss MMG team
25mm AT gun, towed by Laffy truck

Groupe PUISSANCE
Forward Headquarters, in a H-35 tank
Forward observer team in a staff car
Radio truck (comms)
Reserve Voltigeur Platoon (auxiliary)
60mm mortar
Hotchkiss MMG
Char B platoon with 5x Char B1 bis tanks
105 mm gun with loader team, towed by tractor
3x 2nd priority artillery requests
1x 105mm timed barrage (fired by 4x105mm guns)
Smoke barrage on turns 1-2

Groupe PETITE
Motorised Infantry platoon (Sedán weary)

60mm mortar
Hotchkiss MMG
Hotchkiss light tank platoon with 5x H-39 tanks

<strong>GERMAN FORCES:</strong>
Grossdeutschland inf. regiment (Infantry division list)

Forward HQ
Forward signals unit with RCN in a sdkfz 223
Infantry platoon (all armed to the teeth with AT grenades)
1x 75mm infantry gun leIG18 with loader team +protze tow
1x HmG MG-34 with loader team
1x 50mm light mortar
1x AT rifle team
1x Panzerjaëger I sp AT gun
1x scout pak 36
1x panzerjaëger battery (2xpak36 AT guns) with loader teams
1x sIG33 150mm infantry gun with loader team
Forward observer team
1 MG dug-out
Foxholes for 24
Sniper hideout
3x mortar pits (who could fire as a single battery for this scenario)
2x AT dug-outs
1x MG dug-out
2x Pre-registered targets
1x 2nd priority arty request

Reinforcements: (entering on turn 4 by the north edge of the board)
Motorized infantry platoon
1x 50mm mortar
1x AT rifle team
Stug Battery (3x StugIII A)

THE GAME:

The french decided to field Puissance force on the shortest route to the objectives, and Vitesse force on the left, wooded area. They left Petite force as the flanking force, which could enter on turns 3-5.

German positions on the east side of Stonne. Infantry in foxholes, unprotected infantry gun, dug-in Pak 36 and HMG team in the ruined house


German defences in the hill protecting the windmill. An entrenched rifle section and a scout Pak36 (very handy with it’s +1 to spot). High on the top of the windmill hides Forward observer team Heinz, prepared to direct mortar fire on the incoming french.


In the center of Stonne a german 80mm mortar battery sets up position. Also a heavy 150mm infantry gun protects the road. They have the help of some demoralized kradschutzen to act as loaders. To keep comms running, a signal sdkfz 223 stands nearby.


The western approaches to Stonne are defended by another rifle section in foxholes and the PanzerJäeger I. Clearly, the germans are expecting an attack from the west.


The third dug-in Pak36 is also deployed on the hill covering the western approaches. It’s protze tow stands nearby.


Groupe Puissance deploys for battle. Reserve voltigeurs in front, mighty Char B’s behind in support. The village of Stonne in the background seem an easy objective to capture.


Another view of Groupe Puissance. Clearly seen here, the 105mm cannon, recovery somua half-track and chenillette supply vehicle.


Groupe Vitesse speed away. Panhards 178 cover the approach of the Lorraine 38L-mounted chasseur portés. They are a rare vision in blitzkrieg times, mechanized infantry. A command AMR-35 leads the groupe.


The recce Pak readies itself. The French are coming! What das panzer Karl?? It’s huge, a StahlKolosse!!!! Fire, clank! Fire, clank! Fire, clank! Ze Kolosse is unstoppable!!


While The Char B platoon advances forward, the 105mm cannon provides supressing fire, but is not very effective at that.


The support assets are left in the back ready to act when they are called. I was very eager to see the somua recovery vehicle in action and repair some Char B’s



The Char B’s are ordered forward, but, with typical french alacrity, creep only 6 inches ahead on move&amp;fire orders, wasting the advantage granted by the smokescreen (no aimed fire possible)


The french also choose not to move their infantry, which coincidently are deployed in the midst of a german pre-registered target point. That is very historical, as the french reserve infantry is not used to fight in combination with tanks. But would prove a mistake in the end (never send your tanks alone to assault an urban enviroment)


A visual of the french attack on Stonne on the east side. The Char B platoon is seen, clearly ahead of their supporting infantry. German mortar bombs are having fun with the reserve voltigeurs



Meanwhile, the chasseurs portés debate an approach strategy to take le moulin


The german HMG in the ruined house waited for hours for the french infantry to be in range. But the reserve voltigeurs would not advance for the whole battle. Perhaps a very demoralized commander should be replaced by a more aggressive one?


The sIG33 covers the road into Stonne


On the western side, the panzerJäeger I has just had an epiphany. He feels utterly confident and thinks that with superior maneuver and teutonic superiority will overcome all before him.


Three AMD’s advance on him and all fire on that splendid display of german recklessness


The result is obvious. The germans have made an obvious mistake and have jeopardized their western flank defences. Herr Kommandant is not happy.


The battle seen from the west. Groupe Vitesse is gaining ground.


Feuer!! Clank! Feuer! Aim to it’s weak spot. Where is it Karl? Don’t know....
Feuer, feuer! Clank! Clank! Ohhhh Got in himmel....Feuer!!.....
Suddenly, the Char B explodes!! After so many non-penetrating hits, Jorgiten the gunner manages to roll a double 6 for penetration and bags his second CharB to his personal account.


Char B “Joffre” explodes just when they are about to run over the sniper hideout


Undaunted, the rest of the platoon: Tunisie, Flanders and VAR keep moving forward. Again, sticking to the french master plan, no infantry advance to support them, and move &amp; fire orders to keep the sluggish rate of advance. That french commander knows his trade and must be recommended for some medal (pun intended).


A very different kind of commander is in charge of groupe Vittesse. It’s vehicles sped ahead and try to position themselves to unload their cargo of stalwart chasseurs portés.


They Lorraine APC´s advance through the woods and two sections disembark from their transports, gaining the cover offered by the trees


Mes enfants, en Avant! The leader of the chasseur portés pointing at where to disembark from their Lorraine APC’s


The CharB platoon lament their loss but keep moving forward, always firing HE at the Pak positions. On one of those shots they were successful, and hit the central Pak36 with an aimed HE shot. 4 dice with 4+ (reducing cover saves by one level) killed two pakmen. They failed their subsequent morale test and ran to the rear. No AT weapons left on the center. Only the MG dugout remains defiant. And it would make the CharB’s pay dearly for their lack of infantry when they come within pinning range (10 inches).


It is now turn 4, and the german reinforcements began arriving at Stonne. Right to the center of Stonne arrive some motorized infantry (two sections plus platoon hq) in their trucks.


A little contribution from 10th panzer, a PzIII F and a Panzer II C also come to the rescue.


And to reinforce the west flank, a full Stug III Battery, complete with their ammo supply vehicle.


The Char B´s continue with their very French attitude and the majority of them just stop on Open fire orders. The crew of “VAR” must be made of some different material and tries to advance a little in the direction of the main road into Stonne.


The Somua recovery half-track goes on risky repair mission, trying to save or salvage “ Joffre” under the proud view of the French Forward HQ in his H-35 tank, well covered behind some hedges.


The german reinforcements pour into Stonne, moving and disembarking troops. They aim for their most needing spots (ie, the windmill)


The Stug III Battery, with total disregard from intelligence reports that said a French force is coming from the west, move/fire at the incoming Group Vitesse. But all shots made with their short L/24 75mm guns went wide and miss their targets.


The French recovery mission is stopped cold by heavy fire from the MG-34 dugout. A real pity, I want to see the repair / recovery rule in action (never had).



After failing two attempts (on turns 3 and 4) Groupe Petite makes its appearance on the West Flank. A full platoon of H-39 tanks from 1st company, 45th BCC. Like their big brothers, the Hotchkiss follow their French doctrine and move/fire into the table, missing every shot. Damn, those french are well trained!


The crew of “VAR”, tired of doing nothing, wants to make a difference. They drive full speed ahead (at last!) and bypass the blocking bus.




After unloading their cargo, a lone opel blitz sat idly in the main road.


As “VAR” enters the town, it encounters German ambushing infantry, and a rain of small arms fire is directed at its vision slits and tracks, pinning it. Nonetheless it´s 75mm hull gun manages to pin the leIG18 infantry gun.



Groupe Vitesse´s attack on the centre makes progress. Those chasseurs know their trade. They advance under cover of suppressing fire from their organic 60mm mortar and Hotchkiss MMG.


The lone PzIII F takes a deep breath and prepares to duel with the Kolosse


Maybe encouraged by the brave actions of “VAR”, or just by some cursing from their commander, the other Char B´s start moving forward also. But is now turn 6, and much of the opportunity window is now lost.



Climax is approaching. After what seemed ages, “VAR” manages to unpin (remember, no tactical coord. with command chaos) and it´s on the move again. The crossroads is at sight! By victory conditions, the Germans must draw a BR counter for every French tank that reaches it (5 inches from the central fountain). The French feel like they still have a chance…..


Groupe Vitesse is now in full swing. Hordes of Chasseurs flood the woods and prepare to attack the windmill.



Meanwhile, Groupe Petite feels that those Stugs are a real danger. Forgetting their mission (to reach the crossroads), their commander thinks that those Stugs must be dealt first and prepares to engage. Again move and fire on the Stugs. No hits achieved. Notwithstanding, one of the H-39 do manage to get itself killed by a very distant ambushing Pak36.


Half the Panhards of Groupe Vittese have gone on a futile flanking maneuver by the hill, also fearing the Stugs.


Fear-causing Stug III´s. They made me remember of Warhammer elves who caused fear on goblins (if they do not outnumber by at least 2 to 1).



By this time, the extremely slow French attack on Stonne has allowed the Germans to fully reinforce the center of Stonne


The Grossdeutshcland reinforcements are armed with AT grenades, and try to use them on “Tunisie”, but they are shot down by defensive fire from da StahlKolosse.



The Stug Kommander now faces a two front attack (Panhards from groupe Vitesse and H-39´s from groupe Petite) and is dearly lamenting their lack of turrets. Nevertheless, they managed to make the crew of a Panhard abandon it with a non-penetrating hit. They also try to cover their fragile supply vehicle.


Back to the Stonne main road. “VAR” finally met his fate. Advancing up the road, “VAR” stumbles onto an unseen mine. The subsequent explosion does not penetrate the armor, but enemy infantry is everywhere, small arms fire richocheting all over the tank. And the crew think it is time to abandon the vehicle (roll of 1 on morale table, enemy infantry within 10 inches). Where is the French voltigeur support????? Well, they are still in their starting positions! They have never moved an inch forward. Very 1940´s to me. I feel the blitzkrieg.


The rightmost Char B now also tries tom make a late advance. Again with no infantry support.


The battle rages. The panhards from groupe Vitesse now have the soft side of the leading Stug in their sights. A fusillade of 25mm fire makes the self-proppeled gun to explode.


The Chasseurs portés now charge en-masse uphill trying to take the windmill. But it is a little late, as the German reinforcements come to help the defenders.


Aerial view of the attack by Groupe Vitesse


The sight from the top of the windmill



The Pak on the top of the Hill claims it´s second victim. This time a Panhard 178



The Hotchkiss tanks have closed the distance with the Stugs and cheesily aim all shots at their re-supply vehicle. But all missed or failed to observe (1-man turret madness). A distant Panhard on the other hand, does not miss, and again destroys a Stug from their weak side.


The Chasseurs Portés clear the first trench of german defenders. Victory is close…


Vive l´Empereur!


The easternmost char B has gained the hill into Stonne, but again, he is alone and without foot support.


Charge!!!! The Chasseurs Portés try to close the distance but are constantly pinned by small arms fire coming from elsewhere in Stonne. Their support weapons try to pin the defenders of the Windmill, but they made all their cover saves. Ahh what a splendid display of Gallantry! Those chasseurs know how to run the show.


Aerial view from the west



Stonne is now fully reinforced, even Panzers are coming to the Windmill



Flanders tries to emulate VAR, but is also pinned by small arms fire. Oú-sont les Voltigeurs????



At the Windmill, a ferocious combat for control of the Windmill erupts, but the arrival ao German armour and their 20mm autocannons seal the fate of the Chasseurs. The german panzer crew is clever, suppressing fire only.



The windmill is still in dispute, but German reinforcements are still arriving. The French Chasseurs are alone.


The Hotchkiss vs Stug duel still rages on. The Hotchkiss at last managed to kill the supply vehicle. The Stugs are now out of ammo, not before the last round from the last Stug destroys the leading H-39. The germns have accomplished their objective. Groupe Petite was stopped cold.



It is now turn 10, and the French commander finally decides to commit the infantry of Groupe Petite in their Laffy trucks. It is obviously too late. Those Voltigeurs would have made the difference at the windmill if committed earlier. Specially with their road speed and knowing the Stugs have no MG´s available.



The centre of Stonne is safe. Not a single French tank on sight



Turn 11. Aerial view from the north



Turn 11. Aerial view from the east



At the end of German turn 11 the French reached their BR limit (67) and with the Germans in control of all 5 objectives a German victory is declared.

It was tons of fun with a lot of new toys. The French were utterly defeated by their lack of speed and failure to produce combined arms tactics. Almost like the real thing!
It also demonstrate the greatness of the BG system. No stereotypes here. The germans have no 88´s, almost no tanks. And the french have a lot of heavy tanks. But, Alas, you must not enter into an urban environment without infantry support.

Thanks to all the players: Jorgito, Iñaki, Moncha (not in the photo) Matías  and Francisco.


Last edited by Powermonger on Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
dead1
Posts : 60
Join date : 2018-02-13

Re: French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

on Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:20 am
Wow. What a spectacular write up. Thank you so much for all the detail.

The French certainly played a historical game! Great to see lack of combined arms completely impeding the ability to accomplish objectives.
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Warwick
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Re: French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

on Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:31 am
WEll, that's made my friday, I'm taking he afternoon off to read it all and drink it in... with a big cup of tea and biscuits... it looks awesome. The highest standard of ww2 gaming... love it.

Read it all... very cool Very Happy
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Cimmerian
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Location : Bat Country

Re: French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

on Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:15 pm
Great report, awesome pictures. Can't ask for much more than that.
Ugblud
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Re: French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

on Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:46 am
Fantastic report, photo's and terrain! Looks Ike you had a great game. Lovely to see the French in action, even if they played in a typically French way. Lots of exciting stuff going on and poor old Var getting a mine strike within touching distance of the objective was fabulous. Well done
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Re: French Attack on Stonne. May 1940 Blitzkrieg AAR

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