Monday, June 10, 2013

Combat Mission Fortress Italy Gustav Line - Notes from the Front

Paratroopers meet paratroopers. German and British elite infantry face off in east Sicily as Operation Fustian starts.

This is the second scenario of a Combat Mission Fortress Italy (Gustav Line module) campaign. This is not a full-blown AAR as the scenario deserves ... Just a quick note on how hard is to fight against well trained troops. Possible spoilers.

Two companies from the  1 Fallschirmjägerdivision (grey icons, deployment zones shaded in red-ish), on their way towards the Primosole bridge (not in this map) have to punch through this blocking position manned by the British 1st Parachute Brigade  (green icons).
Each German company is conveniently deployed at both sides of the road the bisects the scenario map. The right flank was very problematic for my men, who found themselves lacking good covered approaches towards the enemy's positions in front of them. It was miserable, and I would rather write about the meager gains in the left flank.

One of the objectives is a bridge in the center of the map. From this bridge, a dry riverbed lazily runs towards our left flank and offers a convenient covered approach.

German paratroopers moving towards the bridge. The riverbed is deep enough to provide cover, but not as wide as one may have desired. I had to split my squads in small teams in order to avoid them wondering out of cover.

Two platoons (grey icons in the foreground) offered suppressive fire on the enemy positions. The enemy was positioned in around the bridge ("Highway 114" objective, shaded in bright green) and in the patch of woods on the left flank. By the time of this screenshot, a platoon of German paratroopers had already broke into the small forest (grey icons in the background). The covered avenue of approach is indicated with a grey arrow.
Under the shade of the trees, the British paratroopers were stalking us.
It took two platoons' worth of suppressive fire to allow a third platoon into the woods. Once there, the most savage Combat Mission firefight that I have memory of ...

Every man crawling into the fight.

Close Combat after stepping into the woods.
One of the many casualties we suffered in this spot of hell.
A British Red Devil, retreating. A sight too uncommon, unfortunately for us.
A British paratrooper falls to enemy fire. Note the closeness of combat. In the background, a loaner Italian AS 42 "Sahariana" opening up its Breda MG. These recon vehicles came to moderately good use as far as my men could keep their crews out of enemy sights (they tended to panic very easily at the sight of the most insignificant danger).

As the assault progresses, a couple of British troops surrendered here and there. The mood of other British troops as near as 20 meters from here was still very aggressive.
The fight in the woods is fading. By now, a whole German paratroop company is at or nearing this dreaded patch of terrain. Casualties are tremendous. Italian reinforcements arrive and move in towards the bridge.
Besides fresh troops, the Italians bring their light mortars into the fray. They pummel the objective bridge without any pause.
The pressure from the mortar fire and the German paratroopers drives out the remnant British infantry from the bridge. Note the smoke in the background and the incoming tracer.

The river bed under the bridge offered great cover to fire at the fleeing enemy. In this case, an AS 42 equipped with an anti-aircraft gun (background) trying to hit a moving target (foreground).

Out of the woods, at least some of the troops, with new challenges ahead. Like the farmhouse in the background, which was the position chosen by the British for a LMG.
A panoramic view of the battle. The bridge is marked with a bright red marker. There are still enemy troops in the farmhouse and plenty of enemy troops beyond that. The fight has ben ferocious, but yet more will be asked from the weary troops.


NW said...

And you just sold Combat Mission to me. Now to hope for an Eastern Front version.

Johan said...

No need to rely on hope. An Eastern Front module, as well as Shock Force 2, dealing with a modern US/Russian war, have already been announced.

NW said...

Really excellent news then! Thanks Johan.

Chris said...

JC. Great post as usual. I purchased the Fortress Italy/Gustav Line bundle recently and have been slugging it out with German troops on a hill in the King Ludwig scenario. Fighting uphill is rough and I've definitely gained an appreciation for how difficult the fighting in Italy was.

Anonymous said...

What a story !

thx, Koen

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JC said...

Thanks for your comments, gents.

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