All Captain Dale Buchanan could do is stare at the sun as he laid, sprawled out, on the top of his track. A fair wisp of cloud slowly drifted in front of the sun laying down some gentle shade down on the weary infantryman.
Dale was beat. Exhausted. Three weeks of bitter fighting in the Hof Corridor and the push into Leipzig had taken a lot out of the young captain. He, and his command, showed it too. He gently rubbed his chin and felt a layer of scratchy stubble. Man, a good shower and a shave would really hit the spot right now, he thought.
Out of the corner of his eyes he could see the remains of Task Force Dreadnought deployed in a herringbone formation along the battered autobahn. When the war started it was a proud legion of 1000 GIs and hundreds of fighting vehicles. Now the Dreadnoughts could barely raise two weak company teams. His own battered Team Bravo and an equally gaunt Team Charlie. All together maybe 30 bloody and beaten up armored vehicles and perhaps 200 bone exhausted GIs. The Centurians and Wolfhounds, the brigade’s other two task forces, were in no better shape. The Devil Brigade had given its all and then some. The boys were dead beat tired, but God bless them, they were still game! He'd never been more proud of his troopers.
Maybe, just maybe, with Leipzig secured command will give the weary soldiers of the Big Red One a chance to catch their breaths, rest, and recover. Not likely, he thought grimly.
As the division's motto said, "No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First!" He knew that the war wasn't over by any shot and that sooner or later he and his men would be back in the action.
“Yo, Captain Buchanan!” called out a voice from the ground.
Dale stretched a bit, knocking off some caked mud from his boots and looked over the side of his command track. “What!?!” he snapped.
“Sorry sir, but Dreadnought Six is looking for you. He needs all officers to meet him at the battalion TOC. Change of orders!” yelled the runner.
“Wolfa?” snapped Dale, slurring his words.
The soldier, a corporal, grinned. “Looks like we’re going to Berlin. Scuttlebutt says that Ivan has left the door unguarded and command needs the Big Red One to kick it in!”
Jeez, Dale thought, Our damned junior noncoms know more about what’s going on around here than I do.
“Ok Davis,” Dale grunted. “I’m heading out. Tell Top to round up the team’s leadership and bring Bravo to REDCON 2.”
The young corporal snapped a sharp, but tired, salute, "No mission too difficult, sir!"
Dale grinned and snapped one back, "Duty First!"
Dale grabbed his weapon and his map case and jumped down from his track. He hit the ground so hard that his knees buckled a bit. I’m getting too old for this crap, he thought.
He set off for the TOC at a slow trot and looked at the snoozing troopers around him.
He shook his head and thought, No rest for now, boys. Duty First!
Our original plan was to play the Berlin scenario, however I failed to bring my computer so we chose to play the Dust Up scenario in the main rulebook. It's basically the same scenario anyway. This game was a bit of a milestone for me in that it is the largest point total I've ever played using my own miniatures! I'm ever so slowly collecting and painting miniatures for this game. I hope pretty soon to reach the 100 point goal I've set for myself.
The terrain is mostly mine with a few pieces, mainly hills, provided by our gaming venue: High Tide Games. The city scape is from Drop Zone Commander and I've been itching to use it. I thought setting up a line of these buildings would give the scenario the feel for an action near a major city, like Berlin! So this action is a Dust Up along the outskirts of town with the Soviets trying to contain my task force's advance against the city. Most of the board is outlying fields and rural districts near the outskirts. I wish I had more of those wheat fields! The board just had too much green on it for my taste.
Our forces were pretty similar: motor rifles vs. US mech infantry. IIRC his force was 50 points with two small motor rifle companies, a tank company with 4 tanks (T72s), a BMP1 scout platoon with three BMP1s, and a Carnation battery with a BMP1 spotter. My force was built around two full strength mech platoons, an ITV section, a fly swatter section, and a short platoon of M1IPs. Reserves really left both of us hurting for forces, and as you will see, command on both sides was very stingy with reinforcements.
Jeremy won the toss and decided to take the corner with the large hill. He wanted to put his artillery on it so they could see everything. Not a bad idea in WWII with the Germans, really. As he was deploying he noticed my iTVs! That changed his plans a bit. Instead he deployed his scouts first who then got their move and he went DEEEEEEEEEEP! At that point it was pretty clear where Jeremy was going: right for my objective in the woods. So I placed my mech platoon in overwatch and forming a L shaped ambush. Jeremy followed suit and deployed his mech company with the auto grenade launchers in the new deployment zone set-up by the scouts. That finished his deployment so I placed my remaining two units to support the mechs. The ITVs went hull down behind the hedgerows near the objective while the mortar section hid behind some buildings and zeroed in on the objective.
There was nothing subtle here. He made it very clear where he was going and I deployed accordingly. This was going to be a bloodbath.
Like I said earlier, there was NOTHING subtle about Jeremy's plan. Jeremy immediately raced for the objective hell for leather and established a defensive horseshoe around it. His firing phase was good enough to give him first blood with a BMP trashing my flanking M113. That sucked because it was carrying one of my four Dragons! His remaining shooting was pretty ineffective because his own forces masked his firing.
My options were pretty limited here. My infantry were the only forces available to contest the objective so that was the plan. SSG. Daniels, my second mech platoon leader and the boss of the dismounts, ordered his men to fix bayonets and advance. The rest of the team opened up with everything that could shoot. It was a deadly round for me as my weapons were well placed, had good fields of fire, and there were plenty of targets. My mortars were pretty ineffective but they did their job: suppress the infantry. The Dragons and TOWs each nailed a BMP and my M113 carriers joined the party and poured in additional suppressive fires on the infantry. Second platoon watched as the team's supporting fires worked their voodoo on the Soviets and then rushed into action. With a yell, my ground pounders rushed the motor rifles. Their return fire killed a stand of riflemen but weren't enough to stop the assault. My surviving infantry took cover and slammed one of the BMPs with a M72 rocket!
Things swiftly fell apart though...
Jeremy made his counterattack roll and pushed infantry forward. Bitter hand-to-hand fighting erupted about the objective as I lost another infantry stand. My platoon leader realised that there was no winning this, and much to my irritation, ordered his men to fall back. Repulsed!
Now the pressure was on! I HAD to contest the objective or lose and lose BIG!
Jeremy's opening gambit was very gutsy, but it played right into my hands. However I HAD to contest the objective! So the game broke down into a furious firefight. Very quickly Jeremy found himself in a very well laid out kill sack as swarms of tracers, rockets, and ATGMs poured out of the town and pounded into his hapless forces hiding out in the wood. Very soon the woods were filled with burning wrecks of BMPs and pitiful clumps of dead motor riflemen.
Worse still, my company CO, Dale Buchanan calmly sat on his radio and directed a very wicked series of four-deuce fire from the battalion mortars. Almost every square inch of the wood was swept by fire reducing infantry squads to pulp and BMPs to flaming wrecks. It really was three turns of hell for Jeremy's men. Worst still, Soviet command left his assault force hanging in the wind. Each desperate call for reinforcements was denied. I guess DIVARTY's harassment and interdiction fires were keeping the Russian follow on echelon from reaching the front. Jeremy tried with all of his might to redeploy his forces to get out of my kill sack, but he failed bogging and pin checks left and right. Occasionally his returning fires managed to hit a team of mine here and there, but my troops were in excellent cover so few of his hits managed to accomplish anything.
On the other hand, I had the Russians right where I wanted them, except, they were on the objective! I had to send teams out to contest the objective or lose. So I send out my carrier platoon's command track and he spent three turns playing cat and mouse with the Soviets. When his track finally died he was able to hop to another and keep up his harassment game. Jeremy was NOT amused.
As long as my M113 stayed alive I was able to contest the objective. As long as I contested the objective the game could go on and I could kill his force one team at a time with my overwhelming ATGM fires. It was a grinding attrition game that I was winning. The only bright spot for Jeremy was the fact that battalion was just as stingy with reinforcements as the Russian command was. For three turns both of us went dry with the reinforcements.
Something HAD to give.
Turn five changed everything. Jeremy's reinforcements showed up in force with artillery and the remaining infantry showing up. The Carnations laid down ineffective fire, but it showed me that my time was up. Sooner or later his artillery would work and start hitting stuff, so I had to attack. That was when my luck finally ended. One surviving BMP was able to land a hit on my contesting track while my others were too far away chasing another BMP. I finally got my M1s who managed a 36" clobbering of a poor BMP2, but they were too far away to really help.
When Jeremy's turn six rolled in we checked... no American teams were close enough to contest the objective!
It was time to disengage and fall back...
Jeremy's gambit finally carried through. But the cost... two Soviet platoons were dead and the dismounts were hanging on by a thread. My losses were rather light because of my deployment and good luck.
But it was still a win for the Soviets! Berlin will be a tougher fight than I guessed. But no matter, my Wolfhounds suffered few losses and are more than game for a rematch. Berlin WILL be liberated and the Big Red One will lead the way. We took Aachen, we will take Berlin.
So hats off to Jeremy! I know that was a frustrating game for him, but he carried on like a proper, stoic, Russian officer placing the Motherland above the lives of himself and his troops and not yielding an inch.
Red Alert should give the kid a medal!