WWPD Operation Overlord: Utah Beach   Leave a comment

My son, Andrew, and I spent the evening on July 4th running our second WWPD Overlord game.  This time around the US 4th Infantry would be attacking the 709th Infantry Division on the French coast.  The first game involved the 101st Airborne assaulting the village of Sainte Marie DuMont.

Utah Beach (1)

Mission: Hit the Beach

Current Direction:  Left

Utah Beach (3)

Utah Beach (5)

Allied Force:  4th Infantry Division (Confident Trained)

US forces

German Force:  709th Infantry Division (Confident Trained)

German forces

Intelligence Report:  Initial German forces consisted of one infantry platoon, one battery of 10.5cm guns, and a serious of pillboxes that lined the beach.

Utah Beach (4)

Preliminary bombardment by naval and air forces were able to destroy one 10.5cm gun, the battery staff team, an observer for the battery, and the infantry company executive officer.

Utah Beach (7)

The first US landing forces consisted of 4 assault platoons, 1 platoon of Sherman tanks, and a battery of 10.5cm guns that was to provide smoke cover for the landing forces.

Utah Beach (8)

US Turn 1:  Invasion forces consisted of four assault platoons, a platoon of DD Shermans (don’t have the model), and a battery of 105mm guns.  Disposition of attacking forces…

Three Assault platoons made landfall on the south side of the beach.  One LCVP missed the drop due to the current and had to reroute for a second pass.  The DD tanks became disorganized with two tanks making landfall, one tank was succumbed to the ocean, and two tanks failed to make landfall.  The 105mm battery aboard the DUKW amphibious trucks became lost and all the trucks failed to land this turn.

Utah Beach (10) Utah Beach (11)

Overall amphibious operations were FUBAR!  Two land crafting had become stuck on the beach after disgorging their contents.  (Photo below is a sinking Sherman tank)

Utah Beach (12)

German Turn 1:  The German commander was concerned with the American landing location.  Over half of his company had been deployed to provide service at a General’s birthday party several kilometers away and the unit was not on alert.  Luckily the German commander had deployed two heavy machine guns teams, one in a pillbox and the other in an improvised nest.  These two machine guns were backed up by an older 7.5cm gun.  After the initial bombardment, his forces were able to get to combat posture very quickly.

Utah Beach (13)

The machine guns and artillery hit all three of the first three platoon with the second and third assault platoons taking the majority of the casualties.

US Turn 2:  The amphibious operations officer was able to line up the missing artillery battery, 3 assault platoons, and 2 DD tanks for the landing.

Utah Beach (14)

However, the boatswains mates aboard the landing craft were struggling to keep their landing craft lined up.  Only one of three assault platoons made landfall during this period and one 105mm gun.  The platoon leader of the DD Sherman platoon went missing and considered lost to the waves.  A third tank made landfall, but quickly became bogged down right after reaching the beach.

Utah Beach (15)

The three assault platoons on the beach were able to quickly close to the barbed wire obstacles despite their losses.

Utah Beach (16)

German Turn 2:  German fire raked the new assault platoon and artillery battery crew.  This new assault platoon was quickly reduced to half strength and the battery staff was put out of action.  The three initial assault platoons only took moderate casualties.  The old french gun in the pill box hammered one of the Shermans so hard that the crew panicked and were considered bailed out.

US Turn 3:  US commanders tried to reinforce the center assault company and gun.  Two of the DUKWs making the run in capsized in the swells losing all aboard.  One DUKW did make landfall with a gun.  No additional assault companies arrived this turn.

Utah Beach (17)

Survivors of the initial 2nd assault platoon were able to gap some of the barbed wire.

Utah Beach (18)

The other three platoons on the beach were pinned down due to enemy fire.  The crew of the unlucky Sherman stuck on the beach was trying to free their tank.  The crew hit by the old french gun continued to hide in their tank.  The one available tank took some pot shots at the infantry hitting the US forces in the center.

German Turn 3:  German fire in the center decimated the assault platoon that made landfall in the center.  The platoon was for  all intents and purposes destroyed.  The high rate of fire also destroyed one gun.   Guns on the German right flank continued a steady fire on the three platoons that seemed to have made a foothold on the beach.  The old AT gun continued to pummel the Sherman tank.

US Turn 4:  US commander considered the center a lost cause and attempted to send forces to the US left flank.  Unfortunately only one landing craft made it to the beach and a large number of landing craft were having a difficult time freeing themselves from the beach and surf.

Utah Beach (19)

US Forces now had 4 platoon on the US left.  However, two platoons were extremely depleted.  These forces were able to clear more barbed wire obstacles and part of the second platoon made some progress up the hill toward the pill boxes.  The sole remaining gun tried to hit some of the infantry right above the beach, but failed despite ranging in.  One tank was still bailed, one bogged, and the other was shooting at the HMG nest.

German Turn 4:  The German commander lit up the Americans which were breaching his defenses.  The third and second platoons pretty much vanished.  The newly arrived assault platoon was hurt, but the first platoon still had some combat strength.  Messengers were not able to reach the reinforcements that were promised to support the defense.  The center guns and infantry killed the remaining infantry and all but one gun this turn.

Utah Beach (20)

US Turn 5:  Amphibious assault teams were able to land in force on the US right flank.  However, only two of three landing craft made it in.  The Navy operations officer was extremely dismayed by the number of landing craft stuck on the beach.  US Forces on the left flank started pressing forward up the slope over watching the beach.

Utah Beach (26)

German Turn 5:  The old French gun destroyed a Sherman!!  Reinforcements arrived.  Perhaps the tide of battle had changed!  Heavy machine guns pummel the troops on the beach evaporating one of the American platoons.  The two newly arrived platoons were hurt pretty bad!

Utah Beach (24)

US Turn 6:  US troops assault the bunker with the old French gun and roast the crew with a flamethrower.  A Sherman knocks out a HMG nest finally!!  A single assault platoon arrives to reinforce the breakout on the left!  Why can’t the Navy get more troops to the beach?

German Turn 6:  Another platoon arrives and double times it to the beach!  They need to plug the hole being formed.  German troops continue to hold strong on the German left although the American troops are moving closer.

Utah Beach (25)

American Turn 7:  US Forces on the left are at the summit of the hill.  The beach on the right is reinforced with another platoon.

Utah Beach (27)

German Turn 7.  Reinforcements are pushed hard to close with the enemy.  Heavy fire is still aimed at all forces on the beach.

US Turn 8:  Another Assault platoon arrives on the US right.  Troops are pinned down.  They must advance fast!

Utah Beach (28)

German Turn 8:  Continued heavy fire on the beach forces.

US Turn 9:  US forces reach the hinterland behind the German defenses and occupy the trenches

German Turn 9:  In a last ditch effort to prevent US forces from pushing deeper into the hinterland and capturing objectives, one of the reinforcement platoons makes a hasty assault.  Defensive fire wounds a number of the grenadiers.  The assault still goes forward, but it is the Germans that end up being checked although US forces are down to only a few teams.

Utah Beach (29) Utah Beach (30)

At this point we called it.  It was midnight.  I dont think US forces would have reached either objective by turn 12.  US forces had finally made progress on one flank and were in a position to break out on the other.

Utah Beach (31)

Because the US forces penetrated the seawall into the Hinterland the score was 2 to 5 with a Major German Victory.

Game observations:

The major handicap I had as the US forces were the landing craft.  I rolled so many 5s and 6s that the landing craft were delayed almost every turn.  Only one would show up.

Also the landing craft would not leave the beach!!  I am not 100% clear on how that impacts forces in the sea reserve.  I understand that the landing craft go back and pick up more troops.  The rules do not indicate how many landing craft are available.  I only had 5 landing craft.  What if all the landing craft were stuck on the beach.  How would I get my reserve to shore?  new landing craft?  I do think this is a mechanism that does help balance the scenario.  If I would have rolled better, I could have had twice as many troops on the beach.

DD tanks operate as independent teams.  I read that a couple days ago, but forgot it during the game.  So my tanks just sat there because I thought they could not move due to the platoon leader drowning.  Can the XO of an infantry company appoint a new tank platoon commander?  I need to look that one up for a future battle.

I dont think taking artillery is a good idea.  It cannot destroy bunkers.  I thought the smoke would be useful and it probably would have been, but mortars would have done the trick. I think I just wanted to use my DUKWs for the first time!!

I also elected the remove a couple platoons with 3 stands left because I thought my landing craft dice would get better.  Lesson… dont do that.  I would have had another very small platoon in the hinterland.

Perhaps the objectives were too far?  We do tend to play on larger tables than the standard, but it feels better!

Utah Beach (34)

My overall thoughts on this mission leads me to conclude the mission is good.  The outcome was entirely opposite than what I would have thought given the large number of US assault platoons and tanks with only one company of German infantry and a battery of guns.

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