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Monday, 25 September 2017

Action at Pont de la Croix

I might have mentioned in an earlier post that one of my favourite wargame books is"Operation Warboard" by Gavin and Bernard Lyall. For a long time I have wanted to try out the scenario in the opening chapter, that sees a small US force being delayed at a bridge before the fictional village of "Pont de la Croix" in Normandy, by an even smaller German force. I decided to use this battle to form the basis for this action.

This map gives an overview of the battlefield:
The German force has been ordered to hold the bridge in case it should be required for a counter attack in the future and if it cannot be held cause as much damage and delay to any attacking force as possible.  As can be seen, a road leads into the village from the northeast, crosses a small bridge over a river that is impassible to vehicles and armour, but can be waded with difficulty by infantry. This is what the wargame table looks like:
Defending the village are two platoons, a company HQ and a single tank. A machine gun is deployed forward in a bunker on the far bank and there is an anti-tank team in the ruined house. There is another undisclosed anti-tank weapon hiding somewhere on the field ( a dice will be thrown to determine whether it is a panzerschreck, a 75mm gun or a light tank destroyer).

The first German platoon is in the area of the Ruined House supporting the declared anti-tank team:
The second platoon is in the area of Red House:
And Company HQ is set up around the Ruined Church, with a machine gun in the Ruined Cafe:
Finally, and most potently, a Panther Tank lurks out of sight behind the church:

The US force consists of a company of three infantry platoons, a recce troop, with machine gun armed jeeps and three Sherman tanks. The company commander looks down the road towards the sleepy village and wonders what, if anything awaits over the bridge:
Following the "Operation Warboard" scenario, the Company Commander orders the recce jeeps forward to check out the village:

This is where my use of the scenario in the book ends, as rather than tearing down the road and across the bridge, the jeeps edge fowards covering each other. As they move the Company Commander orders two of his infantry platoons to move up to the woods on either side of the road; One Platoon on the left, Two Platoon on the right and he holds Three Platoon in reserve.
The jeeps move foward:

They are engaged by a machine gun in the bunker and one jeep is destroyed losing one of the crew; the second crew member takes cover:
The other jeeps hastily pull back, and while the two platoons advance on the woods the US commander calls forward his tanks:

Meanwhile, the German machinegun team in the bunker pulls back, wading across the river, covered by the machine gun on the top story of the Ruined Cafe:
The US Shermans halt and cover the infantry moving towards the woods.

As One Platoon approach the South Wood a hail of bullets come from the tree line and the platoon commander is down:

A brisk firefight develops as the US troops in the open fire into the woods. Meanwhile on the US right flank Two Platoon moves forwards into the North Wood:
The German commander decides to deploy his only tank, the Panther and it begins to rumble up the road towards the Bridge:
At the same time Two Platoon are emerging from the North Wood and decide to bounce the river and get across quickly; however they run into the Panther and a hail of fire from the Ruined House and gardens. Two platoon is decimated:

On the left One Platoon continues to fight the Germans in the wood, slowly grinding them down, when the Germans reveal their undeclared anti-tank weapon. Unfortunately for them it is another Panzerschreck, which fires a round that misses a Sherman on the other side of the road:
He is quickly taken out by combined small arms and tank fire.

 The US Shermans spot the Panther and engage:
One shot hits the Panther, but bounces off. The Panther returns fire and the first Sherman to be hit brews up:
Two Platoon continues to suffer casualties and is forced back into North wood:

As this is going on a second Sherman is struck by a 75mm round from the Panther, and is destroyed:
 The third Sherman wisely pulls back and swings around North Wood to try to get a flank shot against the Panther:

On the left, One Platoon finally clears the South Wood and takes up position along the edge of the river. The US commander is more cautious now having seen what happened to Two Platoon:
Despite this, One Platoon comes under fire from across the river where the German Platoon in the Red House occupies the buildings and gardens,

The US commander orders his reserve, Three Platoon, to cross the river, with One Platoon providing cover:

Three Platoon advance, but suffer casualties and withdraw back over the river:

Meanwhile, on the right flank, Sherman number three has skirted around the North Wood, spots the Panther and takes aim, however, the Panther fires first, but misses. The Sherman fires and a lucky shot enters the tank through the turret ring. The Panther burns up:
Sherman number three begins firing HE rounds into the buildings across the river, supported by the remnants of US Two Platoon:
Over on the left, the Company Commander orders up one of the recce jeeps, which along with the machine guns of One and Two Platoons, as well as the remnants of Three Platoon pours a massive weight of fire onto the Germans in the area of the Red House:
This allows One Platoon to storm across the river:

This time the crossing is succesful as Sherman Three fires into the buildings.

The German commander can see his men being slowly worn down by the tank fire and he has nothing left to take on the Sherman tank as it is out of range of any hand held anti-tank weapons. His right hand platoon is suppressed. He orders a withdrawal. Fighting around Red House continues as the Germans pull back:

Here the battle ends. The Germans withdraw and the US forces halt, having lost two tanks and nearly 50% of their infantry. The battle is a victory for the US, although they could not exploit their win without further reinforcements.


  1. I've heard a great deal about Operation Warboard. Is it similar to Featherstone? Those 1/32 lads look great.

  2. Operation Warboard provides a very detailed, yet uncomplicated and easy to grasp set of rules that focus upon WW2 warfare. They cover infantry, armour, artillery, air, airborne and most other facets of the period. I think what sets them apart is the way they are written, which is clear concise and easy to read. The rules are of a similar style to those books by early war-game pioneers, and I think the closest would be Charles Grant's "Battle".

  3. Very enjoyable battle report and looking game. I remember Operation Warboard it was a very nice introduction to WW2 gaming.

    1. I agree with you about Operation Warboard, which sits alongside Grant's "Battle" as one of my two favourite WW2 wargaming books. I have looked at many others but always return to these two for simple, clear rules.

  4. Hi Bob, A very nice looking game using larger scale models. It was this post that go me thinking about trying out the scenario myself. I picked up a notification of a comment by yourself, but was unable to find the comment. Cheers, Peter