Battle for Stonne, 1940

 

A new game at the club, this time Blitzkrieg Commander. Also, an attempt to simulate what was perhaps the most fascinating battle of the campaign of France, the battle for Stonne. Perched atop a high hill, Stonne was overlooking the west bound roads that were supporting Guderian’s drive to the Channel. Had it fallen to the French, the fate of the battle would probably have been very different. Since it changed hands no less than 17 times in a few days, let’s just say it was a very close thing. Especially as French reserve troops were facing no less than the Wehrmacht’s crème de la crème, the Infanterie Regiment Grossdeutschland. Allow me to express my thankfulness for their sacrifice, and my admiration for their courage, as well as for all the humble grognards of 1940 who tried to perform their duty in the face of overwhelming adversity.

 

The French are attacking North towards Stonne, the Germans are trying to defend against the might of the Char B. To better reflect the ability of the Frnch side during that battle, the penny packet rule is dispensed with. Furthermore, the Char B HQ, Major Malagutti, starts with a command value of 9, dropping by one for each failed activation attempt to a minimum of 7. Orders of battle are below :

 

 

The German plan was straightforward : 2 infantry companies and MMG on the first line, with Pak support, to slow down the onslaught as much as possible. A third company in reserve on the second line, ready to plug any hole. And a STUG company further back on the road, ready to exploit any opportunity. I discarded placing the FAC in the abbey’s spire, as it seemed obvious it would be plastered by the French 75 mm. I could do without my Paks, but not without my Stukas… consequently, I opted for the next best place, the top of the Mont Dieu.

My opponent’s plan was more complex. He wished to overwhelm the defense with various axes of attack, in a double envelopment. His artillery (and unfortunately I won’t comment further about it ) plastered the empty buildings around the crossroad. As the fates would have it, the unprotected trucks would be rushing downroad under the eyes of the Luftwaffe air controller…

Phase 1

Everyone activated at least once on the French side, moving towards their objectives. Malagutti, however, failed on his third attempt, downgrading to CV 8. Then it was the German turn, and all hell broke lose! Stukas arrived, and divebombed the column of Dragons Portés in their trucks, taking out  3 platoons, and suppressing one in the middle of the road. STUGs were immediately committed and started to go around the Mont Dieu. Decision would take place on the French right flank.

Phase 2

The French infantry took shelter under the lee of a little hill, and dismounted, leaving only the Chars B as a viable target for the Stukas. The problem was that they were much better protected by AA fire, but dice favored te Luftwaffe, and one of the steel beast was taken out. The little Hotchkiss failed to activate (no wonder with aa HQ at 7), as did the STUGs (despite a CV of 9…). When they eventually did, they took out a last truck that had been kept pinned by MMG fire from Stonne. Chars B, and Paks, traded ineffectual fire. Malagutti however failed an activation for the second time and downgraded to 7.

 

Phase 3

Everything rested on the Chars’ shoulders. They concentrated on Stonne, neglecting the STUGs on their right flanks. Everything seemed to improve, as a Stuka was downed, removing the most serious threat. Better yet, a German command blunder caused the Pak guns to advance under fire, which eventually resulted in the loss of one unit. But the STUGs sealed the day, cresting the Mont Dieu, and opening fire on the flank of the Chars below. One tank platoon was destroyed, bringing my opponent’s army to its braek point, and a failed roll ended the game.

 

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