10 July, 2014

Capturing the Crossing

The main thrust of Operation Epsom began at 0700 hrs. on June 26th. Early British progress was good, with solid artillery support and even some naval gunfire. It looked like the way was clear. The forward German positions, however, were lightly manned and the British soon discovered the German defence in depth. The goal for the first day was to capture the bridge that spanned the Odon just south of Cheux. The crossing was critical to maintain the operation’s momentum. The 15th Scottish Division, supported by the 31st Tank Brigade, made its way toward Cheux where it soon was bogged down in hours of bitter hand-to-hand fighting.

The German 12th SS Hitlerjugend Panzer Division with elements from the 21st Panzer Division launched a counterattack to repel the British and deny the crossing. The Germans were beaten back with the aid of the British artillery but succeeded in temporarily halting the Allied advance. The British pressed the attack with the 11th Armoured Division, but it too stalled out. Without the support or armour, the British infantry soon ran into trouble and opted to dig in for the night well short of its desired crossing. The German commander, General Dollman viewed the containment as an outright defensive victory.

British armour supports infantry in the attack on the bridge
Their right flank advances with some artillery support - they'll need it as the Germans as well-ensconced in the hill beyond
Germans advancing to take control of the central hill overlooking the farmhouse and bocage are met with a brief armoured thrust
The British tanks are driven back, taking significant damage
In the centre, the struggle over the farm sees the elite German armour take a hammering
The Luftwaffe (twice in one day!) shows up to wreak havoc on the strong British left flank 
Staying around to knock out an armour troop and the artillery battery
The struggle over the farm intensifies, with a infantry assault pushing the German control there to the limit
A final armoured attack nearly cuts off the farm, but the counter-punch leaves the British reeling
A hard-fought German victory leaves the campaign for Caen in the balance...

04 July, 2014

Securing the Flank

So after a month-long hiatus of posting I'm back! I do have a few in the pipeline, so expect some posts in quick succession next week. I suppose I've been pursuing my other gaming hobbies a bit more recently:
Anyway, back in May we got together for a day-long Memoir '44 campaign of the British attack on Caen...

In preparation for Montgomery’s Operation Epsom, the 49th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Polar Bears because of their arm path, was order to take the town of Fontenay le Pesnel. Their second objective was to secure Raury and the heights that surrounded it. The capture of these two locations would protect the 15th Division’s flank as they made the main push against their primary objective of Epsom – an outflanking action that would finally take Caen. 

The 49th Infantry was faced with the 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitlerjugend) and bumped into Panzer Lehr’s flank, bring them into the battle. The German defenders held tough and the inexperience division was unable to take its objective that day.

Allied command chose to move ahead anyway and Operation Epsom was kicked off on June 26 with the high ground around Raury still in the hands of the enemy. German armour and artillery overlooked the ground that the 15th was moving over, leading to heavier resistance than Montgomery had hoped to face.

The battle lines are drawn; some elite German armour backs up PanzerGrenadiers in the centre, while another unit lies behind some bocage on the extreme German left flank
The British have some unexpected help in the form of an artillery battery (tucked in behind the ridgeline separating the two sides)
The Luftwaffe makes a surprise appearance; this must be the sortie of the day!
With British armour still at its start line, they're incredibly susceptible to the strafing run. The attack is a great success!
The British right flank advances in strength, mostly infantry but with some armoured support - the German units beyond are dug in on the hillside
With the German armour making a move through the hedgerows, a British attack is launched
The British tanks, with significant infantry support drive the German infantry out of their defences and force the German armour to retreat
The German air cover is still making a nuisance of itself, and now is supporting the elite German units' attack in the centre
With some reverse-slope support from its armour units behind, the British infantry attacks and wipes out the Tigers and PanzerGrenadiers in short order
The Luftwaffe plane follows in quick succession!
A overwhelming victory by the British; but one where many of their units were on their last legs. 
Will they be able to maintain their momentum to capture the bridge crossing over the Odon?

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