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75th Anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino and Northern Italy (Gaming The Battles)

75th Anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino and Northern Italy (Gaming The Battles)

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Project Blog by redvers Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

BEST READ IN REVERSE ORDER! The project charts and recreates the battles of Monte Cassino, fought between January 1944 to May 1944, and the onward Allied push through Northern Italy.

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The 4th and Final Assault on Monte Cassino (Turns 3 to 5)

Tutoring 2
Skill 1
Idea 2
2 Comments

Turn 3 Polish:

Once again, the Polish desire to take the fight to the Germans sees all the platoons unpin and advance. Polish Green Platoon and Polish Yellow Platoon are able to advance within charge range of the Fallschirmjager.

The Polish shooting this turn is ineffective but the mortar platoon does manage to land a couple of shells near the Fallschirmjager Red and Green Platoons which pins them into place – potentially crucial for the upcoming assault!

Polish Green Platoon is first to attempt to push the Fallschirmjager from their trenches. Unfortunately for the Polish, the defensive fire is swift and accurate, landing five hits and killing three teams. That’s enough to stop the Polish and pin them in place.

Polish Yellow Platoon however successfully avoids the incoming fire and is able to scramble into the trenches, killing a Fallschirmjager team in the process. Clearly caught off guard, Fallschirmjager Green Platoon fail to counter attack and fall back.

Turn 3 German:

Red Platoon is unable to unpin from the mortar fire while Green Platoon falls back to the Fallschirmjager HQ.

On the German right flank, Blue Platoon and the MG nest is able to lay down a lot of fire power onto Polish Orange Platoon, who lose three teams and get pinned whilst the other MG Nest sprays Polish Red Platoon and kills a further two teams. 

Turn 4 Polish:

Orange platoon is able to unpin and move up to assault range of Fallschirmjager Blue Platoon. Green platoon also jumps into the trenches with Yellow Platoon and prepares for another assault, this time on the central trench. Fallschirmjager Green Platoon, now in the open take fire and lose another team. The PIAT carried by Polish Green Platoon takes a hopeful shot at the MG nest on the hill and by some miracle, takes it out!

Green platoon assault Red Platoon in the central trench but again take a lot of fire as they launch their assault, losing another 3 teams and getting pinned. Meanwhile, on the Polish left, Orange Platoon lose a single team assaulting into Fallschirmjager Blue Platoon, killing the remaining teams of the platoon and taking the trench. The Polish now hold both of the two flank trenches. Can they push home this advantage?

Turn 4 German:

What’s left of Fallschirmjager Green platoon moves toward the trench now occupied by Polish Orange Platoon and sets up a counter attack while the Fallschirmjager HQ unit moves toward the German left flank to try to retake the occupied trench there. Desperate stuff from the defenders!

The German shooting manages to remove a few teams from the Polish platoons including one of the MG teams but is otherwise ineffective and doesn’t pin the Polish down.

Fallschirmjager Green Platoon launches their assault on Orange Platoon. The defensive fire is able to kill one team from Green Platoon leaving just the platoon HQ. The HQ jumps into the trenches and, whilst they fail to cause any damage, the Polish fallback, giving up their hard earned trench.

The company HQ assaults Polish Green platoon and gets into hand to hand combat, killing Green Platoon’s HQ and removing the rest of the platoon.

Turn 5 Polish:

Last turn and the Polish must push forward to secure victory. They manage to pass morale checks where required and get firing. The Mortar team removes another of Fallschirmjager Red Platoon’s teams and pins them in place. Orange Platoon fail to hit as do all the other platoons who are desperately firing upon the Fallschirmjager Company HQ. 

Orange platoon assaults the command team of Green platoon and despite losing two more teams as they charge in, kill the last remaining team from Green Platoon and retake the trench.

Polish Yellow and Red Platoons attempt to assault the Fallschirmjager Company command but the defensive fire on both attempts is too much as Yellow loses 2 teams and is pinned in place while Red loses 3 teams and gets pinned. The assaults fail.

Turn 5 German:

With victory almost assured, the Fallschirmjager just have to hold on to the end of the turn. Red platoon passes it’s morale check and with the MG platoon, there is no need to take a Company check. During the shooting phase, Polish Red Platoon loses another couple of teams while Yellow Platoon is reduced to just two operational teams. 

And with that, night falls and the Fallschirmjager begin to withdraw having successfully held off the Polish in their final assault. Although both sides took heavy casualties.

The Fallschirmjager Company Command lead the charge into the PolishThe Fallschirmjager Company Command lead the charge into the Polish

Wrap Up:

This was a fairly quick but brutal game. The number of assaults and counter assaults mirrored the actual battle and the defenders were able to last the 5 rounds to gain victory. Had they needed to hold on for another round, it could very well have been a different story.

The Fallschirmjager finally withdrew during the night of 17th May and whilst the Polish did finally take Monte Casino, it was a somewhat pyrrhic victory given the huge losses that they took in doing so. Meanwhile, in the valley below, the battle was still raging as the Allies gradually pushed north toward the Hitler Line.

The 4th and Final Assault on Monte Cassino (Turn 1 and 2)

Tutoring 2
Skill 3
Idea 4
1 Comment

Before I start, I’ll include the tactical maps again. For reference, PBP = Polish Blue Platoon, PRP = Polish Red Platoon etc. FGP = Fallschirmjager Green Platoon.

The view of the defensive position as the Polish begin their advanceThe view of the defensive position as the Polish begin their advance
Some of the Fallschirmjager's defensive positions. Note the MG nest looming over the battlefield on the hillSome of the Fallschirmjager's defensive positions. Note the MG nest looming over the battlefield on the hill

Turn 1 Polish:

The only way the Polish can win this is to get forward and do it quickly. They can only move at tactical speed due to the special rules around the terrain however every unit barring the mortar platoon moves as far forward as they can toward the German lines. The tactic is to attempt a two prong attack and try to overload the two end trenches.

After moving, the Polish try some hopeful shooting at the well dug in Fallschirmjager. It’s largely pointless as any hits that are on target just bounce off the rocks and trench line. However, just when the shooting seems to have drawn a blank, Polish Blue Platoon manages to land a punch and destroys one squad from the Fallschirmjager Blue Platoon. First blood to the Poles!

Turn 1 German:

The Fallschirmjager aren’t going to move but they are going to lay down a lot of fire, which is exactly what they do. Polish Blue Platoon on the Polish left flank takes a lot of incoming fire and loses 4 squads and finds itself pinned down. Meanwhile, Polish Green Platoon also takes hits, getting pinned and losing 1 squad. A fair amount of damage handed out in turn 1.

Turn 2 Polish:

All the pinned units are able to unpin and the entire company advances again. MG1 is able to use its full rate of fire this turn and does so to good effect, killing another squad from Fallschirmjager Blue Platoon and pinning them into position. Polish Blue Platoon also adds their fire and kills another squad from their opposing Blue Platoon. 

Polish Yellow Platoon is also able to pick off a squad from F.Green Platoon whilst the remaining shooting from the other Polish rifle platoons and mortar team manage to pin the remaining Fallschirmjager in place. Compared to the previous assaults on this table, the Polish numbers are already causing problems for the defenders.

Turn 2 German:

Blue and Red platoon are able to unpin but Green remains with their heads down, seriously impacting their rate of fire.

Polish Blue Platoon takes some serious incoming fire this turn from the German trenches and is wiped out to a man. The Fallschirmjager heavy MG teams turn their fire on their Polish counterparts and Polish MG1 is destroyed. The Polish left flank is suddenly just the Orange Platoon, still with some distance to cover to reach the German trenches. 

The Polish on the right flank fare better and Fallschirmjager Green Platoon is only able to remove 1 squad from Polish Green Platoon. The rest of the Polish right flank survive unscathed. 

Tactical Map at the end of Turn 2Tactical Map at the end of Turn 2

The 4th and Final Assault on Monte Cassino

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

This is actually the 76th Anniversary of the fall of Monte Cassino. I had hoped to run this project keeping pace with the time line of 75 years ago, but real life happened. So, one year later than planned, I’ve finally gotten around to it.

In the previous battle, I looked at the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade as they successfully crossed the Garigliano river to the West of the town of Cassino to support the infantry that made the crossing during the night. Getting armour onto the Northern side of the river had not been achieved in the previous attempts and despite fierce resistance, the British XIII Corps were able to inch their way up the Liri valley and began to threaten to surround Monte Cassino and cut off the defenders line of retreat.

On the XIII Corp’s left flank, the US fifth army were also making progress up the West coast of Italy. Most notably, the North African troops in the French Expeditionary Corps had progressed quickly through the Aurunci mountains and were able to begin fanning out. On 12th May, the FEC were able to begin to start putting pressure on the German defenders in the Liri valley. This caused the German line to begin to get squeezed between the FEC on the West and the British XIII Corps to the South.

Above the town of Cassino, the Polish II Corps had been tasked with taking the monastery. They followed the same route that the three previous and unsuccessful attempts had taken and once again met the defending Fallschirmjager. The fighting was brutal and bloody as the Poles fought to take Point 593, a key defensive position along Snakeshead Pass. Several times they succeeded in pushing the Fallschirmjager from their defensive positions, only for the Fallschirmjager to counter attack and regain what they had lost. After three days of fighting, the Poles pulled back slightly to recover before trying again. They had lost nearly 3800 men in the three days of fighting.

As the fighting atop Monte Cassino subsided on the 15th May, in the valley, 78th Infantry Division of the XIII Corps was pushed forward from reserve and began to advance around the back of Cassino, threatening to surround the town itself. The rest of XIII Corps were slowly progressing up the Liri valley.

On the 17th May, the Polish II Corps launched their final assault. Once again they threw themselves at the defending Fallschirmjager. As night fell, with the threat of being surrounded now almost a certainty, the Fallschirmjager were ordered to withdraw and fall back to new defensive positions on the Hitler Line. In the early hours of 18th May, British troops from 78th Division met up with the Polish II Corps on the far side of Monte Cassino. As the sun rose, Polish troops covered the last few metres to the monastery to find around 30 Fallschirmjager who were too wounded to move. They duly raised the Polish flag above Monte Cassino and finally completed the task the Allies started some four months before.

The 4th and Final Assault on Monte Cassino

In this battle, I will look at the final few hours as the Polish assault the defending Fallschirmjager. This battlefield has been used before, but here’s the layout, with the Polish deploying at the lower right corner needing to push to the top left and take the top of the hill.

The 4th and Final Assault on Monte Cassino

The forces are as follows

Fallschirmjager:
HQ of 2 stands armed with SMGs
3 Fallschirmjager platoons of 6 stands plus a Cmd stand
2 MG stands
2 MG Nests up in the hill overlooking the board

All of the Fallschirmjager are in trenches and therefore dug in and concealed. There are two barbed wire obstacles deployed in front of the trenches.

Polish II Corps:
HQ of 2 stands
5 Platoons of Cmd Sqd, 6 Rifle/MG squads, 2″ Mortar squad and PIAT Squad
2 Platoons of 2 MG teams
Mortar Platoon of 4 teams

Game Rules:
– The Poles are rated Fearless for this encounter. They have been waiting to be allowed a chance to show their spirit and extract revenge for the loss of their homeland on the Germans and this is their first chance
– Due to the poor terrain and the fact that it is exposed to enemy fire, no team can move at the double

Victory Conditions:
The Fallschirmjager are hopelessly outnumbered but have been ordered to withdraw. They must hold the line until the end of the 5th turn. If the Polish have reached the path at the base of the hill on or before the 5th turn, the Poles win.

Operation Diadem (Battle 1 - Turns 7 and 8)

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 1
No Comments

Turn 7 Allies:

Green Platoon unpin however Red don’t and remain stuck on the edge of the tree line. Orange Platoon advance into the barn and the Engineer’s move up behind the barn in support.

The Sherman Crabs advance across the field with the MG team and the Universal Carriers move up the centre. Green Platoon advances toward the ruined farm house. 

Tank Platoon 3 look to move out of the trees and the command tank manges to advance up the side however the second tank gets bogged down, unable to move. 

The Universal Carriers open up with their .50 Cal guns and this proves too much for the paper thin armour of the Marder, with the shells ripping through and hitting the ammunition. Orange Platoon is able to remove the last teams from Grenadier 1, destroying the platoon.

At the end of the Allied penultimate turn, reaching the objective is looking increasingly challenging and unlikely.

 

Turn 7 German:

The last deployment is revealed and this is the final STuG hiding in the ruined buildings next to the objective. This is going to make the Allied victory condition even harder to obtain, with both the MG team and a STuG holding the position.

The newly discovered STuG fires upon the Command Tank from Tank Platoon 3 but fails to score a hit – we can only assume that the Sherman was going to fast up the flank for the STuG crew to get a good shot at!

The Mortar team fires on Green Platoon again but fails to cause any hits at all. The same for the MG teams who are not able to score hits against Red Platoon.

Grenadier 2 remain in position but out of range of the Engineers and Orange Platoon this turn.

State of play at the end of Turn 7 from the German perspectiveState of play at the end of Turn 7 from the German perspective
A Sherman Crab attempts to cross the hedgerow - no easy feat given the massive mine clearing equipment attached to the frontA Sherman Crab attempts to cross the hedgerow - no easy feat given the massive mine clearing equipment attached to the front
A couple of German MG teams lay down some fire on Red Platoon in the trees while the Sherman advances on their positionA couple of German MG teams lay down some fire on Red Platoon in the trees while the Sherman advances on their position

Turn 8 Allies:

Red Platoon once again fail to unpin and remain stuck in the trees. As this is the last turn, the Allies could really have done with this infantry platoon supporting the tanks as they advance on the objective!

The bogged down tank of Tank Platoon 3 fails to get going and remains stuck in the trees, it can however lend some supporting fire to its platoon command tank that advances right up to the MG teams in the ruined buildings.

The Sherman Crab platoon crosses the hedge and moves up to the farm house as do the Universal carriers and Green Platoon. The Engineers and the MG team take up positions behind the hedge. 

Despite moving, the Sherman Crabs are able to draw a line to the STuG in the ruined building and hit! Given the range, the fact that the Shermans moved and the concealed nature of the target, this was one hell of a shot. The lucky shot penetrates and destroys the STuG, leaving just the MG team defending the objective. The rest of the Allied shooting is not as good with everything missing, including the command tank’s shots against the MG teams.

With nothing left to lose, the command tank from Tank Platoon 3 launches an assault against the MG Teams, crashing through the garden wall that they are hiding behind. The initial assault kills one of the MG teams and the other counter attacks hitting but failing to cause any damage against the tank. The tank attacks again and is able to destroy the last MG Team. The command tank is able to make a consolidation move and, passing its bogging check to cross into the ruined building, rolls up to the objective. The Germans don’t have any defenders within 4” and this final ditch tank charge, is enough to secure the objective and the victory for the Allies!

The loan Sherman captures the objective to win the gameThe loan Sherman captures the objective to win the game
The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade lost a number of tanks during the assaultThe 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade lost a number of tanks during the assault
The Allied HQ survey the battlefieldThe Allied HQ survey the battlefield

Wrap Up:

This was another tight game, coming down to the last dice roll to see whether the Allies could take the objective. It was bloody as well, with the Allies taking heavy losses as they moved up from the river banks – exactly as it was like in the actual battle. Once again the deployment markers and being randomly allocated made for an interesting game, with the Allied player not able to plan a route forward without knowing what lay in store. 

 

Operation Diadem (Battle 1 - Turns 5 and 6)

Tutoring 3
Skill 2
Idea 2
2 Comments

Turn 5 Allies:
With over half the battle over, the Allies are running out of time to reach the objective. They need to push on but still have some considerable amount of ground to cover.
The last remaining tank from Tank Platoon 1 fails its last man standing and is removed from play. Of the two bailed out tanks in Tank Platoon 3, one passes a bail in test and then passes its morale test to remain on the battlefield. The MG Team continues as well but Red Platoon fails to unpin.
The final tank from Tank Platoon 2 also passes its last man standing test to remain in play but the Allied army is looking shaken and the advance could falter at any time.
Orange Platoon and the Engineers advance into the field by the barn toward the 7.5cm gun team and the last of Tank Platoon 2 puts the barn between it and the PaK40.
The MG team along with Green Platoon begin to advance up the centre now that the threat from the MG Nest and the Fallschirmjager has been eliminated.
The single operational tank in Tank Platoon 3 drives into the woods and up behind Red Platoon whilst the Universal Carriers and the Sherman Crabs advance up to the barbed wire, uncovering another minefield token and finding this to be a dummy.
The Allied shooting is once again woeful, failing to cause any hits and indicative of the shaken state that most of the platoons find themselves in – can the Allies hold this advance together???

Turn 5 German:
The advance of Orange Platoon has allowed the German player to reveal two more units, drawing the second Grenadier Platoon (GP2) on the hill behind the road and the Marder II in the woods.
The mortars are this time able to range in on Red Platoon currently sheltering in the woods but are unable to cause any wounds. The PaK40 takes out another Sherman tank, this time the lead Sherman Crab while the 7.5cm Recoilless gun teams destroy the last remaining tank of Tank Platoon 2. The MG teams fail to score any hits and neither do the STuG or the Marder.
All in all, the 1st Canadian are looking pretty shot up with just the mine clearing tank platoon of a Sherman and a Sherman Crab and tank platoon 3 still operational!

The newly discovered MG Teams take aim at Red Platoon in the woods.The newly discovered MG Teams take aim at Red Platoon in the woods.
The Marder hiding in the tree lineThe Marder hiding in the tree line

Turn 6 Allies:
The bailed out tank from tank platoon 3 bails in and drive up to join the other tank from its platoon in the woods. Red Platoon however fails to unpin.
The Sherman Crabs advance to the trenches and the MG team and the Universal Carriers get to the hedges. Green Platoon advances up the middle and Orange Platoon with the Engineers move into assault range of the 7.5cm guns.
The mortar team is just able to to range in and hit the PaK40 gun team, this time destroying it. The shot also hits the Grenadiers in the barn, pinning them in place. Tank Platoon 3 fires upon the STuG and is able to destroy it, opening up the centre of the board a little.
Orange platoon charges the 7.5cm guns and destroy both teams, taking up position behind the hedge.

Turn 6 German:
Grenadier 1 unpin. The German HQ falls back toward the hill while the remainder of the Grenadier platoon moves into assault range of Orange Platoon.
The MG teams kill another team from Red Platoon while the mortar platoon adjusts its aim to target Green Platoon, killing 2 teams and pinning the platoon in place.
Grenadier Platoon 2 stay put, working on the basis that the Infantry will have to try to advance past them to the objective and they can fire on them from their hill. The Marder misses its shots.
Grenadier 1 fires on Orange Platoon killing a team before assaulting. Grenadier 1 loses a team in the charge to defensive fire but the assault continues however they fail to cause any damage once they hit. Encouraged, Orange Platoon counter assault, killing two of the Grenadier teams and forcing them to fall back behind the barn.

Orange Platoon prepare to assault the 7.5cm gunsOrange Platoon prepare to assault the 7.5cm guns
Green Platoon advance past the wreck of a burning ShermanGreen Platoon advance past the wreck of a burning Sherman
Red Platoon, supported by two Shermans, pinned down in the treesRed Platoon, supported by two Shermans, pinned down in the trees
State of play at the end of Turn 6State of play at the end of Turn 6

Operation Diadem (Battle 1 - Turns 3 and 4)

Tutoring 1
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

Turn 3 Allies:
The last remaining tank in Tank Platoon 1 bails back in and passes its last man standing test, so stays in the fight for the time being. The MG team also passes it’s last man standing test.
Red Platoon, with the tanks now engaging the German left flank decide to break cover and advance on the German right flank. They’re aiming to get into the tree line and behind the MG Nest located there. Orange Platoon also now advance over the hill and, with Tank Platoon 2 alongside, head toward the barbed wire in front of the Grenadier platoon.
Tank Platoon 1 stays stationary to concentrate its fire but Tank Platoon 3 advances off of the pontoon bridge and up alongside Green Platoon, looking to advance up the centre.
The Mortar platoon repeats its bombardment and this time manages to destroy the PaK 40 gun team, giving some relief to the advancing tanks!
The last remaining tank from Tank Platoon 1 fires upon the MG nest in the middle of the table and a shot gets through, blowing the nest apart. Suddenly, the German defences are beginning to look exposed.
Green Platoon and the MG team fire upon the Fallshirmjager and pin them in place.

Turn 3 German:
The Allies have moved within 20” of the deployment token at the barn and a random draw reveals this to be the other Pak40 – so just when the Allied tanks thought they had some space….
Once again, the Fallschirmjager unpin and the Grenadiers fail to do so.
The Grenadiers kill another team from the Engineer Platoon.
This turn the German mortar manages to range in and hits a number of the teams in Orange Platoon, killing one and pinning the rest in place.
The newly discovered paK40 opens fire on Tank Platoon 2, destroying the lead tank just as it reaches the barbed wire.
MG Nest 2 tries to stop the Red Platoon from reaching the woods but despite a lot of fire power, fails to cause any damage. However, the Fallschirmjager, recognising the threat of Red Platoon on their right flank, do manage to kill one team and pin the rest of the platoon in place.

The state of play as seen from the Allied perspective. Note the forces massing for the attack on the right flank and the infantry trying to 'sneak' up the leftThe state of play as seen from the Allied perspective. Note the forces massing for the attack on the right flank and the infantry trying to 'sneak' up the left

Turn 4 Allies:
Red platoon is able to unpin, particularly fortunate given that they are currently exposed in the open. The last remaining Tank from Tank Platoon 1 passes their last man standing, as does the MG team.
The Engineers clear half of the barbed wire opening the way for Orange Platoon to advance up to within charge range of the Grenadiers. Tank Platoon 2 also moves up in support and the Sherman Crab tanks look to advance slowly up the centre.
Red Platoon advances to the trees however they uncovered a minefield and lost 4 teams to the mines and booby traps laid there!
Tank Platoon 3 moves up to the threaten the Fallschirmjager in their trenches.
The Allies shooting is woeful and clearly the battle is getting desperate for them with the best outcome being the Fallschirmjager yet again getting pinned from the incoming fire from the tanks.
Orange platoon launches an assault of the Grenadiers in their trenches and kill two teams as they leap into the German positions. The Grenadiers, already pinned and facing infantry and tanks fail to counter and fall back into the field behind, allowing Orange Platoon to take over the trenches.
In the centre of the line, Tank Platoon 3 crashes into the Fallschirmjager, killing three teams. The Fallschirmjager aren’t going to give up their positions easily, as was the case in the real battle, and counter against the tanks, bailing two out. With one operational tank, the 1st Canadian try to push home the assault, killing another Fallschirmjager team but once again, they counter and succeed in destroying one of the bailed out tanks! Both sides continue the assault before the last remaining tank forces the last Fallschirmjager team to fallback. The position is in Allied hands, but at some cost.
On the Allied left flank, Red Platoon assault the rear of the MG Nest and, with no ability to defend itself, the nest is taken out, opening up the German right flank.

Turn 4: German
The Allied push has moved within 20” of three German deployment markers. On the German left, behind the hedge, a 7.5cm Recoilless Gun platoon is deployed. In the centre, inside the ruined farmhouse, is one of the STuGs and on the right, in front of the objective, is a heavy MG Platoon.
The last team from the Fallschirmjager platoon fails its last man standing test and is removed from play. Otherwise, the Grenadier platoon take up defensive positions inside the barn.
The PaK40 is able to destroy a tank from Tank Platoon 2 and the STuG is able to bail the last remaining tank from tank platoon 3. The MG teams are able to fire upon Red Platoon in the woods and the cover there helps avoid casualties but they do get pinned in place. The mortar team fail to range in this turn.

The Allies launch their assault on the GrenadiersThe Allies launch their assault on the Grenadiers
Another PaK40 breaks cover and opens up on the advancing 1st Canadian Armoured BrigadeAnother PaK40 breaks cover and opens up on the advancing 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade
Red Platoon make it to the tree line and advance on the rear of the MG Nest you can see just left of centreRed Platoon make it to the tree line and advance on the rear of the MG Nest you can see just left of centre
The Allied perspectiveThe Allied perspective

Operation Diadem (Battle 1 - Turns 1 and 2)

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
5 Comments
Initial Deployment, from the Allied perspectiveInitial Deployment, from the Allied perspective

Turn 1 Allies:
With the smoke bombardment deployed, the Allies can try to get forward. The narrow crossing point will bottleneck the attackers so it is important to get as much armour across as quickly as possible. Faced with the MG Nests and dug in defenders, the infantry won’t be able to advance without the armoured support and with just 8 turns to cover the length of the board, time is critical.
With the above in mind, the Allies start their first turn by getting Tank Platoon 1 across the bridge, with Tank Platoon 2 on the bridge. The Engineer platoon and MG platoon begin to advance as well.
With the enemy behind a smoke curtain, dug in, gone to ground and at range, the Allies fail to score any hits in their first turn.

Turn 1 German:
With armour now on the German side of the Garigliano, it is imperative that the PaK40 earns its money. With no need to move this turn, the defenders begin to open fire. The Pak40 is instantly effective, punching straight through the lead tank of Tank Platoon 1 and destroying it.
Green platoon comes under fire from the Fallschirmjager and MG Nests and gets pinned but, being in the trees, the bullet proof cover protects them from damage. Red platoon also takes fire but escapes without damage. The German mortars fail to range in this round.

End of Turn 1End of Turn 1
The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade cross the Garigliano river using the pontoon bridges put in place overnight by engineers of the 8th British Indian DivisionThe 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade cross the Garigliano river using the pontoon bridges put in place overnight by engineers of the 8th British Indian Division

Turn 2 Allies:

Green platoon unpins.

Tank Platoon 1 continues to advance up the middle while Tank Platoon 2 reaches the other side of the river and turns to follow Tank Platoon 1. The remaining tanks continue to advance across the pontoon bridge.

The Engineer platoon advances up to the minefield token in front of the Grenadier platoon and finds that the token is a dummy – so no mines to clear this time!

The mortar ranges in on the PaK40, looking to knock it out to allow the tanks some breathing space. Despite ranging in first time, they fail to hit the PaK40 but do kill a team from Grenadier Platoon 1, with the heavy mortar shells making light work of the dug infantry.

The tanks miss with their shots but the MG platoon rake the Fallschirjager platoon and pin them.

 

Turn 2 German:

True to the grit and determination of the Fallschirmjager, they are able to unpin however the Grenadier’s do not, reducing their fire power.

The PaK40 once again does its job, as it scores two hits against Tank Platoon 1, causing one to brew up and the second to bail out. T1 is, at the moment, completely out of action!

The Grenadiers fire upon the Engineer’s at the barbed wire, killing a team and the MG nest in the centre of the table kills one of the Allied MG teams.

The PaK40 team prepare to fire on the 1st Canadian Armoured BrigadeThe PaK40 team prepare to fire on the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade
The 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade continue their advance past the burning wreck of the lead tankThe 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade continue their advance past the burning wreck of the lead tank
End of Turn 2End of Turn 2

Operation Diadem (Battle 1)

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 2
No Comments

Operation Diadem or the fourth battle for Cassino started at 23:00 on 11th May, 1944 with over 1600 artillery guns opening fire on the defender’s positions along a 30KM front, running from the Western coastline to East of Monte Cassino itself. The guns continued their bombardment for over 2 hours before the infantry, under the cover of darkness, started their assault.

On the left flank, the US 5th Army pushed North, with their II Corps advancing along the coast. The US 5th Army’s right flank was made up of the French Expeditionary Corps of mainly Morrocan soldiers who were tasked with advancing up the Aurunci Mountains and then to swing East to link up with the left flank of the British 8th Army who would be pushing up the Liri Valley.

The British 8th Army were tasked with taking the town of Cassino and the now ruined monastery atop Monte Cassino. The plan was to send most of the forces across the Garigliano river and up the Liri Valley whilst the Polish II Corps would advance on Monte Cassino from the East, following the same path that the previous three ill fated assaults had taken.
British XIII Corps were tasked with the Garigliano river crossing and the advance up the Liri Valley using Route 6 – the main road North toward Rome. In the early hours of the 12th May, Infantry from 4th Infantry Division and 8th British Indian Division crossed the river against significant opposition from the German defenders. During the night they managed to make small advances and established a bridgehead across the river.

More importantly, the engineers of the 8th British Indian Division had worked through night to establish bridges to allow the armour to cross and support the infantry. As sun rose on the 12th May, 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was crossing the Garigliano in support of the infantry.

We join the battle at day break as the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade prepare to cross the Garigliano. Several platoons of infantry are dug in on the other side of the river ready to carry on the advance with the support of the armour.

View of the Battlefield from the Allied perspectiveView of the Battlefield from the Allied perspective

The Rules for the game:

Allies:

The first round starts with a full smoke bombardment across the table to provide some cover for the advancing troops
Three infantry platoons start deployed in advanced positions across the river to represent the previous day’s bridgehead. An engineer platoon starts next to the pontoon bridge on the German side of the river

Germans:

The Germans can deploy 5 minefield markers, only 2 of which are actual minefields to represent the limited time the Allies have had to reconnoitre across the river
The Allies have made contact with the first line of German defenders and these are deployed on the board at the start of the game. This will be the platoon of grenadiers, platoon of Fallschirmjager, a PaK40 and the two MG Nests. A German Mortar team has been spotted operating further back
The remaining German units are deployed as counters into various defensive terrain areas. The counters are exposed at the start of the German turn when an Allied unit moves within 20”
German units starting as a single team are not subject to last stand rules

Victory Conditions:

The Allies have been tasked to expand the bridgehead and their objective is to capture the collection of ruined buildings on the road. They have 8 turns to accomplish this and must take the objective uncontested. The Germans will win if they stop the Allies achieving this objective

Initial DeploymentInitial Deployment

Map key.

German forces are marked in magenta with a brief text description. Gren1 being Grenadier Platoon1, Mort are the mortar team and Fall the Fallschirmjager Platoon. The defences are marked a TTTT for trenches, XXXX for tank traps and OOOO for barbed wire. Little magenta circles are possible minefields and little red circles are German Troop deployment spots for the hidden units.

The Allied troops are mostly in light blue except the infantry platoons who are coloured as per their platoon (Red Platoon, Green and Organge). T1 to T3 are the Sherman Tank Platoons.

The blue strip is the Garigliano river, grey strips are roads (or pontoon bridges), thin brown ‘circles’ are hills, dark green circles are copses of trees, light green lines are hedges and black blocks are buildings and/or walled areas. The Allied objective is marked with a red circle with a cross in it.

Location of the Allied objective, down at the end of the German end of the battlefieldLocation of the Allied objective, down at the end of the German end of the battlefield

Allied Forces:

Infantry HQ 1st and 2nd in command

3 Infantry Platoons of Cmd team, 6 rifle/MG teams, PIAT team and 2” Mortar team

1 Engineer Platoon of Cmd sqd, 3 Rifle teams and a PIAT team

1 MG Platoon with 2 Vickers MG teams

1 Heavy Mortar Team of four teams with 4.5” mortars

3 Sherman Tank platoons of 3 tanks per platoon

1 Mine clearing tank platoon of 1 Sherman and 2 Sherman Crab tanks

 

German Forces on the board:

Infantry HQ 1st and 2nd in command teams with SMG

1 Grenadier platoon of Cmd team with SMG and Panzerfaust and 6 Rifle MG teams

1 Fallschirmjager Platoon of Cmd team with SMG and Panzerfauct and 6 MG Teams

1 Pak40 Anti Tank gun

2 MG Nests

 

German Forces off the board:

1 PaK40 Anti Tank gun

1 Marder II

2 STuGs deployed as separate units

1 Grenadier platoon as above

1 Heavy MG platoon of 2 separate MG Teams

1 7.5cm recoilless guns

3rd Battle for Monte Cassino - Assault on the Town (Turn 8)

Tutoring 3
Skill 2
Idea 3
No Comments

NZ Turn 8:
The smoke bombardments aren’t really an issue this round, being quite spread out around the battlefield. The Engineer platoon passes its last man standing test as does what is left of Green Platoon, who also heroically unpin, ready for more action!

Red Platoon continue their advance and get in among the tank traps just in front of the PaK 40 team. They’re also close enough to launch an assault!

The Engineer team clear the minefield and Tank Platoon 2 continues to advance down the road and confronts the 7.5cm gun platoon dug in around the ruined house at the end of the road. T1 advanced up behind the houses, using the garden walls as some form of cover and stops just in front of the remains of the Fallschirmjager 2sqd and Company Command. Green platoon dashes across the road into the ruined building next to T1 to provide some infantry support.

The Universal Carriers and T3 continue to advance up the road, trying to get into the fight.
Green platoon fires upon the PaK 40 team and is able to kill the crew, rendering the gun useless. Tank Platoon2 destroys one of the 7.5cm Gun Teams and Tank Platoon 1 then launches an assault on the Fallschirmjager Company Command team, killing the commander.

German Turn 8:
With the company command now dead, and several platoons needing to take last man standing checks, it’s not looking good. The remaining 7.5cm gun team fails its morale test and, with the last gun capable of dealing with the tanks gone, the German defense dissolves and the Kiwis take the victory!

The end of turn 8The end of turn 8
Just before the shooting and assault stepJust before the shooting and assault step
The Fallschirmjager Company Command and what's left of 2sqd face off against Tank Platoon 1 and Green Platoon in the ruined buildingThe Fallschirmjager Company Command and what's left of 2sqd face off against Tank Platoon 1 and Green Platoon in the ruined building
Red Platoon taking cover in the tank traps and preparing to assault the PaK40Red Platoon taking cover in the tank traps and preparing to assault the PaK40
Tank Platoon 2 round the corner to deal with the 7.5cm Infantry GunsTank Platoon 2 round the corner to deal with the 7.5cm Infantry Guns

Game Wrap Up

This was a close fought game and the random German Deployment made for some interesting decisions. With the increasing density of cover and the unknown locations of the German forces, it certainly caused the Kiwis to adopt a more cautious approach. Interestingly, many of the German forces got deployed into locations that were entirely suited to the unit.

I was hoping the smoke might have played a bigger and more interesting role in the battle. I wanted the location to be random each turn but perhaps there wasn’t enough of it to really cause an impact. 

Overall, I think this is a format that I might repeat in the future with perhaps some tweeks on how and where the random deployment takes place from. Perhaps breaking the table up into zones and then allocating units to each zone might provide a little bit more control for the German player.

Otherwise, the battle went as per the history books. The 2nd NZ Division were able to fight their way into the town of Cassino and, like our game, troops often fought building to building to move forward. The Fallschirmjager put up a dogged defence and certainly gave a good account of themselves. 

3rd Battle for Monte Cassino - Assault on the Town (Turns 6 and 7)

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
2 Comments

NZ Turn 6

The Kiwis need to start pushing on now as they’ve only progressed half the board and taken 5 turns to do it. They’re running out of time to complete their mission. The smoke bombardment lands around the MG teams in the hills providing some cover for the advancing 2nd Division. In addition, all of the Shermans remount and Green Platoon unpins.

Red Platoon advances and finds a minefield which kills 2 units. T1 pushes forward a little toward the Marder but wanting to stay beyond 16” of the PaK40 so as to be a little harder to hit. The Engineers follow T1 up using them as cover. Green platoon moves its remaining units into the ruins of the buildings.

The command tank from T2 advances toward the Scouts and the Universal Carriers advance up the road while T3 advances on the farmhouse to try and finally flush out the 3sqd of defending Fallschirmjager.

The Mortar team continue to rain down fire on the farmhouse and manage to kill a team and pin the defenders in place. T1 fire upon the Marder and this time manage to penetrate the armour and hit the ammunition, causing the vehicle to explode. 

During the assault step, T2 command tank launches another assault against the Scouts. The initial assault kills one scout team but they hit back and cause the tank to bail out.

The rest of T2 assault 2sqd in the building across the road from the scouts. The defensive fire misses the tanks and they crash into the defenders, killing 2 teams. The Fallschirmjager are able to counterattack but fail to cause any damage leaving the tanks to kill the platoon command and push the rest of the squad out of the buildings. 

Finally, T3 launch their assault against the 3sqd Fallschirmjager dug in at the farm house. A shot from a panzerfaust destroys a tank as they advance but it is not enough to stop T3 and they manage to kill 1 team and force the rest of the platoon to fallback, finally giving up their defensive position.

German Turn 6:

Only one location has been discovered and this is drawn as a blank.

3sqd fall back and 2 sqd consolidate into the next house along the road with the Company Command teams. 

The PaK40 fires and punches straight through the armour of one of the tanks in T1, taking it out instantly and 2sqd are able to kill another team from Green platoon. The MG team in the hill is able to also fire on Green platoon but the bullet proof cover of the ruined buildings save them from further losses. 

Finally the Scout platoon assaults the bailed out command tank of T2 and is able to destroy the tank!

State of play in Turn 6State of play in Turn 6
The view that the MG Teams in the hills have of the battlefieldThe view that the MG Teams in the hills have of the battlefield

NZ Turn 7

The smoke lands around the PaK40 and the command teams offering some cover for the advancing Kiwis. 

T3 heads back to the road and Orange platoon, with 3sqd removed, can finally carry on advancing. T2 make a blitz move down the road and Green Platoon dash out of their building and cross the road toward the Scout platoon, ready to assault them. T1 moves into the gardens of the buildings now vacated by 2sqd. The Engineers move into the minefield with a view to clearing it however they lose one team in the process. Red platoon continues to advance around the barbed wire.

The mortar team is able to range in on the PaK 40 and also include some of 2sqd in the bombardment. The PaK40 is pinned and 2 teams from 2sqd are killed as the mortar shells rain down. 

T2 fire upon the Fallschirmjager company command teams and manage to kill the 2nd in Command. T2 then assaults into the building and while it does not cause any damage, it does cause 2sqd to fallback again. 

Green platoon assault the scout squad but get pinned down by the defensive fire and lose one team in the process. 

German turn 7:

Things are starting to look a little desperate for the Germans although if they can just hang on for a couple more turns, they might just hold the Kiwis up and win the game through delaying tactics. It’s going to be close.

The PaK40 unpins and 3sqd move along the edge of the hill, trying to get back into the fight but being hampered by the minefield tokens lying in their direct path.

The Pak 40, having rallied well, fail to score any hits on T1. The Company command fire their panzerfaust at T2 but miss. One of the 7.5cm recoilless guns manage to get a couple of shots off at T2 and hit but fail to penetrate while the other gun is able to destroy the lead Universal Carrier. The MG teams rain down fire upon Green platoon, pinning them and killing two more teams, leaving Green platoon with just one team remaining!

Green Platoon about to assault the Scout Platoon hiding in the buildingGreen Platoon about to assault the Scout Platoon hiding in the building
Turn 7Turn 7
Tactical viewTactical view
Tanks ready to assaultTanks ready to assault

3rd Battle for Monte Cassino - Assault on the Town (Turns 3, 4 and 5)

Tutoring 3
Skill 2
Idea 4
No Comments

NZ Turn 3:
The smoke bombardments land further back and play no real impact on this turn.

Tank Platoon 1 attempts to cross the barbed wire, with all but one tank being unsuccessful. The remaining 2 tanks get close enough to a mine counter to trigger it, it turns up another blank. Red Platoon also gaps the barbed wire by the river. The Engineers, Green Platoon and Tank Platoon 2 all advance up the road, looking to leave the 3sqds of Fallschirmjager to Orange Platoon and the Tank Platoon 3.

During the shooting phase, the mortars yet again pin but fail to wound 3sqd. T3, Orange Platoon and the Carriers all pour their fire into 3sqd but fail to cause any damage. Just like the real battle, the Fallschirmjager are well dug in and will take some effort to shift.

German Turn 3:
The NZ advance is enough to trigger 4 deployment locations. The German player draws a blank for the location behind 3sqd, the scout squad for the house above the road, the 2 squad Fallschirmjager for the house further back and the Marder for the location behind the barbed wire (see the tactical map).
3 sqd this turn fail to unpin and their reduced firepower results in no hits at all. The Marder is unable to find the mark on the advancing Tank Platoon 1. The Scout platoon has a little more success, inflicting one kill against Green Platoon in the middle of the table. The newly discovered 2 Squads of Fallschirmjager are out of range and so cannot fire this turn.

The position of the Marder, the 2sqd Fallschirmjager Platoon in the building/garden to the left and you can just make out the Scout Platoon in the ruin on the other side of the roadThe position of the Marder, the 2sqd Fallschirmjager Platoon in the building/garden to the left and you can just make out the Scout Platoon in the ruin on the other side of the road

NZ Turn 4:

The smoke this turn lands around the hill so has little impact on the game.

Red platoon now advance through the barbed wire they gapped last turn and Tank Platoon 1 moves up in advance of them, giving the infantry some cover and protection. The Engineers get forward to almost reach the first ruined building, while alongside Green Platoon advances up the road and Tank Platoon 2 move off the road to their right. Tank Platoon 3 decides that the 3sqd of Fallschirmjager at the farmhouse are too well dug in and begin to advance around the barbed wire.

With the discovery of the second Fallschirmjager platoon, the Kiwis use their one artillery strike on them. Yet again, the Fallschirmjager are too well dug in to cause any wounds however they will start the next turn pinned. 

The Mortar platoon continue to land shots on the 3sqd Fallschirmjager at the farmhouse and manage to destroy another team this turn.

Tank Platoon 1, faced with a Marder, decide to open fire on it to remove the threat. Despite being on the move and at range, they manage to get a glancing hit that causes the Marder crew to bail out. In the centre, Tank Platoon 2 and Green Platoon fail to cause any hits against the Scout Platoon in the ruined building ahead of them.

German Turn 4:

The advance opens up two more deployment locations and the random draw is a blank and the Fallschirmjager HQ. The HQ are deployed in the ruins behind the 2sqd (see the tactical map)

All of the pinned units are able to unpin and the Marder team remounts their vehicle – exactly what you would expect from the Fallschirmjager!

The Scout platoon fire upon Green Platoon and kill a team meanwhile 2sqd is able to kill two teams from the Engineer Platoon.

The Marder crew waste no time having remounted and fire upon the advancing Sherman’s of Tank Platoon 1 but their haste is to their detriment as they can only manage to bail out one of the Shermans.

End of Turn 4End of Turn 4

NZ Turn 5:

Once again the smoke lands toward the back of the battlefield, not really impacting play this turn.

The Sherman of Tank Platoon 1 is able to remount but the platoon stops to better engage the Marder. Tank Platoon 3 is able to round the barbed wire and turns toward the farmhouse, looking to assault the dug in 3qsd Fallschirmjager there. Tank Platoon 2 moves up toward the scout troop in the ruined building.

Green platoon dives into the ruined building across the road from the scout platoon while battered engineer platoon moves in to take cover behind tank platoon 1. Red Platoon moves up alongside and reaches the second set of barbed wire. Orange platoon, still not willing to move due to the overwhelming firepower that the Fallschirmjager in the farmhouse can apply finally manage to dig in, providing themselves some useful bullet proof cover.

Tank platoon 2 and Green Platoon lay down some fire on the Scouts in the ruined building but fail to cause any damage. Tank Platoon 1 hits the marder, again forcing the crew to bail out but fail to destroy it. 

The Mortars and Tank Platoon 3 manage to once again pin the 3 sqd Fallschirmjager platoon but fail to cause any damage.

Tank Platoon 2 is close enough to launch an assault on the scouts and does so. The Shermans crash into the ruined building, destroying one scout team and forcing the rest to fall back.

German Turn 5:

3 new deployment areas are discovered. The Germans randomly draw the 7.5cm infantry gun teams (placed into the ruined buildings at the road fork), the MG teams who are in position on the hill and the PaK 40 anti tank gun which is placed in the fields behind the buildings and further back from the Marder. 

The Marder remounts and the scout platoon falls back to the building further down the road, recreating the ‘building to building’ fighting that made up much of the combat seen in Cassino.

The Marder fires upon Tank Platoon 1 and causes both tanks to bail out but fails to destroy either. The PaK 40 further back has a shot but the tank somehow bounces the powerful shot – this tank platoon is living a charmed life!

2 sqd Fallschirmjager fires upon  Green platoon and manages to destroy another team while 3qsd’s shooting on Orange Platoon is ineffective. The MG team on the hill has nothing to shoot at but will certainly stop the infantry from advancing around the back of the houses.

In the images below, you can see the state of play at the end of turn 5 and two shots of the battlefield during the Kiwi’s turn.

The Marder's view of the battlefield and the advancing Tank Platoon 1 and Red PlatoonThe Marder's view of the battlefield and the advancing Tank Platoon 1 and Red Platoon
Tank Platoon 2 and Green Platoon just before the assault on the Scout Platoon hiding in the ruined buildingTank Platoon 2 and Green Platoon just before the assault on the Scout Platoon hiding in the ruined building

3rd Battle for Monte Cassino - Assault on the Town (Turns 1 and 2)

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
2 Comments
The view from the NZ left flankThe view from the NZ left flank
The middle (behind Green Platoon and Tank Platoon 2)The middle (behind Green Platoon and Tank Platoon 2)
And the NZ right flank, where Orange platoon face an abandoned farm house beyond the barbed wireAnd the NZ right flank, where Orange platoon face an abandoned farm house beyond the barbed wire

NZ Turn 1:
The three smoke bombardments arrive quite far up the German half of the battlefield so won’t impact play this turn. Otherwise, with no German units currently discovered by the NZ forces, all that can happen is an advanced. Red platoon is able to reach the barbed wire in front of them.

German Turn 1:
A quick measure shows that three deployment points are within 20” of NZ forces. A random draw puts the 3sqd Fallschirmjager platoon in the lone building, a blank for the deployment zone in the road and an MG Nest in the garden of the building just off the road (see the tactical map below). All of these units start this round pinned however the 3Sqd is able to lay down some serious fire on Orange Platoon and despite causing any casualties, is able to pin them in place.

Tactical Map at the end of Turn 1Tactical Map at the end of Turn 1
End of Turn 1End of Turn 1

NZ Turn 2:

Only one smoke bombardment is in any place to worry the current combatants, landing in the road just further up field from the MG Nest, the other bombardments land further back.

Orange platoon rally but stay in place to avoid the huge volume of fire the 3 squads of Fallschirmjager are able to throw out. At least by staying put, they gain some additional cover bonus. The Universal Carriers move up alongside Orange to provide some additional firepower.

The Engineers advance up the road to trigger the possible minefield laying between the defences – it’s a blank, so nothing to worry about there. Otherwise, the remaining units advance apart from the Mortars that set up ready to fire – they range in on 3sqd and pin them in place but fail to cause any casualties. The Universal Carriers have more luck and their .50cals are able to dig two teams from 3qd out of their bullet proof cover and destroy them. 

Meanwhile, in the middle of the advance, Tank Platoon 2 (T2) fire upon the MG Nest and get a lucky shot through, destroying the nest at the first attempt!

German Turn 2:

The NZ troops have not advanced far enough to trigger any more deployment markers so the German player cannot try to bring more troops into the battle.

The 3sqd Fallschirmjager unpin and continue to fire upon Orange Platoon, killing one team. With no other units on the table, this is the end of the German turn!

In the below pictures, you can see the MG Nest in the back garden of a small house, Red Platoon at the barbed wire and the view of the 3 squads of Fallschirmjager dug in at the farmhouse as Orange Platoon and Tank Platoon 3 advance on them.

End of Turn 2End of Turn 2
Real state of playReal state of play

3rd Battle or Monte Cassino - Assault on the Town

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

It’s been some time since the last battle report – the summer and then work got in the way but I feel it is time to pick this project back up again and continue with the battles of the Italian campaign and, in particular, the battle for Monte Cassino.

The last battle report focused on the 4th Indian Division’s unsuccessful attempt to take Monte Cassino up in the mountains. While this assault was taking place, the New Zealand 2nd Division was tasked with pushing along the Rapido river into the town of Cassino itself. It was then hoped that with the town captured, the NZ 2nd Division could then swing around the back of Monte Cassino and link up with the 4th Indian Division, surrounding and cutting off the defenders.

The assault started on 15th March 1944 and began with a massive air and artillery bombardment. The 6th NZ Brigade led the attack and were supported by the 19th Armoured Regiment. This was the first time that armour had been able to cross the Rapido and join the assault on the town itself. The Infantry and tanks advanced behind a creeping artillery barrage however progress was slow going. The heavy rain combined with the bombardments had churned the ground and the heavily dug in defenders were able to keep up a constant barrage of fire.

Over the coming few days, the 2nd NZ Division did manage to push into the town and to capture Castle Hill, a key point overlooking the town. However, the Fallschirmjager refused to give up the fight and, as we saw in the last battle report, kept control of Monte Cassino. Eventually, the Allied commander Alexander, knowing that his men were spent, called off the assault and both the 4th British Indian in the heights above Cassino and the 2nd NZ Division fell back.

The Battle
In this battle, we will look to recreate the initial push by the 19th Armoured Regiment into the outskirts of the town of Cassino. Here are the army lists;

2nd NZ Division:
Infantry HQ
3 Infantry Platoons of 7 teams Rifle/MG, PIAT and mortar
3 Platoons of Sherman tanks (3 tanks to a platoon)
3” mortar platoon of 4 teams
3 Universal Carriers equipped with .50 cal MG
1 Engineer Platoon of 4 teams and a PIAT team. Also a supply truck
1 Artillery Strike from off board to be used whenever the Allied player wishes to call it in

German Fallschirmjager:
Infantry HQ equipped with SMG and Panzerfaust
Infantry Platoon of 9 teams and Cmd with SMG and Panzerfaust
Infantry Platoon of 6 teams and Cmd with SMG and Panzerfaust
Heavy MG Platoon of 2 teams
MG Nest
1 PaK 40 anti tank gun
2 7.5cm Recoilless infantry guns
Scout Infantry platoon of 5 teams
Marder II anti-tank gun

Special Rules:
Lay the defences. The defenders have barbed wire and tank traps to place where they wish on the board. They also have 7 mine tokens but only three of these are real mine fields. They are to be placed on the board before deployment and are flipped over whenever any unit moves within 4”, revealing whether the token was a dummy or an actual mine field.

Surprise deployment. The defender places 15 tokens on the board where German troops could be deployed. 15 pieces of paper are put into a hat on which 6 there is a blank written. The remaining 9 pieces of paper each have one of the units written on from the list above. Whenever an Allied unit gets within 20” of any of the tokens, at the start of the next German turn, the German player draws a random piece of paper from the hat. If it is a blank, no unit is placed however if a unit is drawn, that unit is placed on the token. The token and the piece of paper are removed from the game.

Creeping Artillery. On the turn that the German unit is revealed, it is pinned and cannot attempt to unpin. It starts its turn, gone to ground, concealed and in bullet proof cover (dug in).

Muddy ground. Infantry cannot move at dash speed. Vehicles can only move at dash speed on the roads.

Random smoke. The battlefield was clogged with smoke and rain. At the start of each turn, three smoke counters will be randomly placed within the defender’s half of the table. They provide concealment to anything within or shooting through the smoke.

Victory Conditions:

The Allies have 9 turns to reach the objective at the far end of the battlefield and hold it uncontested. The Defenders win if they stop this happening.

A very rough tactical view of the battlefieldA very rough tactical view of the battlefield

Above is a very rough tactical view of the battlefield. The Allied army are deployed on the right which, in this case, is roughly the North East. The map key is as follows,
Brown area – hills
Blue area – Rapido River
Grey lines – roads
Black squares – buildings and walled areas
OOOOO – barbed wire
XXXXX – Tank traps
red dots – possible deployment areas for the Germans
purple dots – possible minefields
Red donut – Allied objective
NRP – New Zealand Red Platoon
NOP – New Zealand Orange Platoon etc
T1, T2, T3 – Tank Platoons
Eng – Engineers, UC – Universal Carriers, Mo – Mortars

The German end of the battlefiedThe German end of the battlefied
The New Zealand end of the battlefieldThe New Zealand end of the battlefield
Looking up the battlefield from the German positions in the town of CassinoLooking up the battlefield from the German positions in the town of Cassino
And the view from the New Zealand commander's perspective And the view from the New Zealand commander's perspective

3rd Battle of Monte Cassino - Point 593 (again) Turns 4 and 5

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

Turn 4
GBP and BOP fail to unpin and the remaining tank from the first platoon runs, leaving just the second tank platoon to take on the guns. All the units that can advance do so but the Allied shooting is woeful, failing to hit anything.

The Germans return fire and BRP is destroyed completely. The HMG team and the MG Nest punish GGP and destroy 6 teams. The remaining Germans platoons destroy another team from GBP.

The LG40 guns fire upon the second tank platoon and manage the bail the command tank but do little else.

The decimated Allied force at the end of Turn 4The decimated Allied force at the end of Turn 4

Turn 5
GBP and GGP fail their morale checks and fallback from the battle. The command tank of second tank platoon fails to remount this turn but otherwise, what’s left of the Allied attack unpins and advances. BOP manage to kill one of the Fallschirmjager HMG teams with their fire but the tanks fail to hit anything.

The tanks are now close enough to assault the guns in their trenches. The guns manage to get their defensive fire off as the tanks close and it’s effective, destroying the tanks as they close!

The LG40 guns turn their fire upon the last remaining bailed out tank and destroy it. And with that, the Allied assault is well and truly stopped.

The end of the battleThe end of the battle
What's left of the tank assaultWhat's left of the tank assault

Wrap Up
While the battle went the same way as history, it was arguably far more one sided than the real battle. The Allied infantry, especially the Gurkha platoons were fairly ineffective and could have done with having another platoon or two to make a real fight of it. The tanks were exposed without infantry support and paid the price, which was true to history.

All in all, an interesting battle but it could have done with being a little more competitive. Perhaps one to be replayed in the future with more Allied forces involved to try to level the playing field.

3rd Battle of Monte Cassino - Point 593 (again) Turns 1-3

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
1 Comment

Before we start, I’ve taken some shots of the defending Fallschirmjager in their trenches around Point 593 and the Allied units preparing the assault. Just to set the scene.

Some additional rules that I forgot to mention.

The ground is broken and it is not possible to move at Dash speed.

Apart from the first turn, all infantry units start the turn pinned due to the lack of cover between them and the guns on Point 593.

The German Infantry Guns are hidden and cannot be fired upon until the German guns open fire, exposing their positions.

For this battle, I’ve chosen not to include the tactical maps. It’s largely a straight push by the 4th British Indian and 20th Armoured toward point 593 so probably doesn’t need a tactical view.

Turn 1.

The allied forces need to get forward quickly and so all of the Infantry units advance straight forward. The armour also needs to get up the board from Albaneta Farm to support the assault but, as in the real battle, there is no coordination between the two forces and so the tanks have no infantry support during their advance. At the end of the movement, the few Allied infantry teams that can fire miss and the tanks have no targets.

The Germans, during their first turn clearly have no need to move and just return fire. The infantry guns are out of range of the tanks so stay quiet, not wanting to expose their positions. The HMG and MG2 nest are able to kill 1 team from BOP and pin the platoon in place.

The Allies after their initial moveThe Allies after their initial move

Turn 2.

All but one of the British Indian Division platoons unpin and continue their advance. They’re now well within range of the German trenches. The tanks continue their advance up the road. The shooting is largely ineffective with only a couple of shots hitting home and easily saved by the German defenders in their trenches. The 2” mortar teams attached to each platoon do manage to lay down some smoke to provide at least some cover.

The lead tanks are now in range of the German LG40 guns and the Germans decide to open up, revealing their ambush. Despite the range, a shot ploughs through the front armour of the lead tank, destroying it. Meanwhile, with the 4th BI in range of the German trenches, the bullets start to fly. With the volume of MG fire available, BOP loses 3 teams whilst the Gurkha’s of Blue Platoon lose 5 teams.

The Fallschirmjager LG40 takes out the lead tankThe Fallschirmjager LG40 takes out the lead tank

Turn 3.

The entire Allied army is able to unpin and move forward. The tanks, now under attack and able to see the guns advance and spread out to maximise their return fire. These extra shots from the tanks are able to destroy one of the gun teams. The infantry fair better this turn, destroying one German HMG team and a team from FRP. They also manage to get some more smoke down.

With the tanks spread out, there are now more targets for the LG40 guns and they put this to good use. One tank brews up and the crew from another bail out after taking a hit at relatively close range. This leaves one tank platoon with no operational tanks!

The 4th BI fair no better with GBP losing 1 team, BOP losing 2 and BRP losing 4 teams. The infantry assault is being stopped quickly by the German MGs.

After their third turn move, the Gurkhas and Rajputana Rifles are closing in on the German trenchesAfter their third turn move, the Gurkhas and Rajputana Rifles are closing in on the German trenches

3rd Battle of Monte Cassino - Point 593 (again)

Tutoring 3
Skill 2
Idea 3
No Comments

I’ve been grossly negligent in updating this project for a whole host of reasons, most related to real life, some related to cricket and generally my ambition for this project being far greater than my ability to deliver.

Still, I’ve had time to play out another key battle fought at Monte Cassino.

The third battle for Monte Cassino started on 15th March following a huge artillery bombardment, particularly on the town of Cassino. The 2nd New Zealand Corps would attack along the rail way line and into the town in the valley. Up on the hill, the 4th British Indian Division would once again attempt to take the monastery against the heavily dug in Fallschirmjager.

By 17th March, the 4th British Indian Division had advanced to within 200m of the monastery. The well defended Point 593 stood between them and a direct route to the ruins of the monastery. The 4th British Indian Division had been here before during the 2ndBattle of Monte Cassino (also fought out in this project earlier) and they had then failed to take point 593 and at huge cost. This time it would be the turn of 9th Gurkha Rifles and the 6th Rajputana Rifles to carry the assault.

During the cover of darkness, engineers toiled to prepare a track leading up to Albaneta Farm, making it accessible for the tanks of the 20th Armoured Regiment. This route ran up a valley separated from the troops around point 593 by a rocky, exposed ridge, making the joining of the two forces difficult except where their combined assaults met around point 593. It took a couple of nights to complete the track and by the 19th March, the allies were able to launch their surprise attack.

Unknown to the Allies, the defending Fallschirmjager were prepared and were able to counter attack against the tanks. Without infantry support, the tanks were destroyed and by mid morning, the tank assault had failed. Without the armour supporting, the infantry assault against Point 593 would ultimately fail.

The overall plan of attack. Albaneta Farm can be seen just above Route 6The overall plan of attack. Albaneta Farm can be seen just above Route 6

For this battle, we will use roughly the same set up as we did for the previous 4th Indian Division assault on point 593 however we will extend the table a little to make room for Albaneta Farm and the track up to Point 593. This has been separated from the infantry by a ridge of rocks, unpassable for tanks and unpassable for troops without the Mountaineer special rule (which only the Gurkha’s have).

It’s a little unclear what equipment the Fallschirmjager had however, given the terrain and the logistics of getting large equipment into place, I have assumed that in addition to Mortars and infantry anti tank weapons, small infantry guns could have been put in place. In this case, I have assumed that four 7.5cm LG40 recoilless infantry guns are present and defending the approach up from Albaneta Farm.

Victory Conditions:

In this battle, the Allies win if they can take the top of Point 593. The Germans win if they can hold on.

German Troops:

Command: 1iC and 2iC infantry teams armed with SMG and Panzerfaust

Fallschirmjager: 3 Infantry Platoons of cmd team and 4 Rifle/MG teams

Mortar: Two mortar teams

2 HMG nests

2 MG teams

4 teams equipped with 7.5cm recoilless infantry gun

Allies:

Command: 1iC and 2iC Infantry Teams

2 Rifle/MG platoons: Cmd team, 6 teams and 2” mortar team

2 Rifle/MG Gurkha platoons: Cmd team, 6 teams and 2” mortar team

HMG Platoon of 2 teams

2 Platoons of Sherman Tanks (3 tanks per platoon)

 

Defences:

The Germans are well prepared and all teams are dug in within trenches (marked as TTTT on the map). Barbed wire is positioned in front of several trench sections (marked as OOOOO) and there are two mine fields in place.

Unlike the previous assault on Point 593 which was conducted at night, this assault will be carried out during the day.

The force dispositionThe force disposition

Naming conventions are as before. FGP would be Fallschirmjager Greep Platoon. BOP = British Orange Platoon. GBP = Gurkha Blue Platoon.

Boxes numbered 1 and 2 and the HMG nests.

Table set up from the 4th British Indian perspective. 20th Armoured are deployed off picture to the rightTable set up from the 4th British Indian perspective. 20th Armoured are deployed off picture to the right
The view from above point 593. You can just see Albaneta Farm and the lead tanks from 20th Armoured at the top left.The view from above point 593. You can just see Albaneta Farm and the lead tanks from 20th Armoured at the top left.

I now need to spend some time writing up the actual battle.

Rome Falls

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With the German 10th Army now mounting a fighting withdrawal from Cassino, the next line of defence was the Caesar C line. This defensive line extended from the west coast near Ostia, over the Alban Hills south of Rome to Avezzano and then to Pescara on the Adriatic coast. It was manned by the German 14th Army who were in position to delay the Allied advance and allow the German 10th Army to retreat up Route 6 in the Liri Valley and take up positions either alongside the 14th Army or further North.

With the fall of Monte Cassino, Operation Diadem could now move into phase two, the break out from Anzio. The US VI Corps had now been embattled at Anzio for nearly 3 months with neither the support nor the man power to breakout. With Cassino taken, German reserves were already committed and at stretching point. This was the opportunity to finally link up with the rest of the US 5th Army and continue the advance up the Italian Peninsula.

The Defensive Lines in ItalyThe Defensive Lines in Italy

Operation Buffalo started on the morning of 23rd May and like the Cassino offensive, started with an enormous artillery barrage targeting the defences around Cisterna. The assault was launched across the entire Anzio line and spearheaded by the US 1st Armoured Division (Old Ironsides) and US 3rd Infantry Division.

The initial assault was met with heavy resistance and a formidable set of defences. The minefields began to take their toll on the advancing troops however by mid afternoon, Route 7 to the South of Cisterna had been taken and this allowed the 1st Armoured to rapidly advance upon and take the rail line and punch through the German defenses. During this offensive, the defending German 362nd InfantrieDivision had lost nearly 50% of its fighting capability and the 715th had suffered almost as badly.

The German situation at Cisterna was increasingly looking worse. The newly refitted Herman Goring Fallschirmpanzerdivision, which was about to depart for France, was diverted South in an attempt to reinforce the defenders. Attacks by British 1st and 5th Divisions pinned German units further North on the Anzio line leaving Cisterna increasingly isolated. General von Mackensen requested to withdraw from Cisterna but this request was denied.

The following day 1st Armoured Division looped around to the North of Cisterna and took Route 7. US 3rd Infantry looped around Cisterna from the other direction and encircled the town. The German defenders surrendered later in the day with over 1,000 pows taken by the US forces.

By 26th May, US forces had continued to advance North and encountered the Caesar line. German defences had reorganised and the first elements of the HG Fallschirmpanzerdivision were beginning to arrive into the defensive line and were able to hold up the advancing VI Corps. Once again, the 1st Armoured Division led the assault and, despite counter attacks from the HG Panzerdivision, were able to breach the Caeser line on 30th May.

US Infantry advancing following the capture of CisternaUS Infantry advancing following the capture of Cisterna

With the defensive line now breached, General Alexander, commander of the Allied forces in Italy, ordered General Clark to advance his VI Corps Eastward to cut of Route 6 and trap a large portion of the retreating German 10th Army between the VI Corps and the advancing British 8th Army. Such a move would almost certainly have resulted in the removal of much of the German 10th Army and greatly reduced the defensive fighting power of German in Italy.

In one of the most debated moves of the Italian campaign, General Clark disobeyed the order and turned his VI Corps North West toward Rome and continued to advance up Route 6. The advance was led by the First Special Service Force who quickly captured the bridges required for the armour to advance into Rome. Rome itself was captured by the Allies on 4th June, to much celebration among the locals in the city.

However, Rome itself had been declared a Free City, indicating that there would be minimal occupying forces and that taking the city would require minimal force. Indeed, barely a shot was fired as the US forces entered Rome itself. Response to the capture of Rome from the Allies was markedly different. Across the Atlantic, in the US Clark was hailed as hero and a liberator. In Europe, he was portrayed as insubordinate and vainglorious.

US Forces advance into RomeUS Forces advance into Rome
US Forces at the famous ColosseumUS Forces at the famous Colosseum
Italian celebrationsItalian celebrations

Speculation is still rife today as to why Clark went for Rome and not follow the orders of Alexander. Was Clark in possession of information the forced him into this tactical move? There are intercepts received at the time indicating the movements of the HG Fallschirmpanzerdivision and a move toward Rome would have cut off their ability to plug holes in the defensive line. Or was Clark interested in claiming the glory of capturing Rome? Either way, the capture of Rome and indeed the entire Italian campaign became a backstory as two days after Clark arrived in Rome, Allied boots hit the shores of Normandy and the entire focus of the war in Western Europe shifted.

And so, even 75 years on from the fall of Rome, the entire Italian campaign passes most people by. I’ll continue with this project and explore the battles in the Gothic line and Northern Italy but for now, the lime light should pass to Normandy and Northern France. It would however be nice if Battlefront brought forward the 4th Edition books for the Italian campaign!

4th Battle of Monte Cassino

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Following the unsuccessful third attempt to capture Cassino, the Allies needed time to reorganise and resupply their forces to enable them to punch through and relieve the US VI Corps, still encircled at Anzio some 80km to the North. The early spring conditions in Italy also forced a degree of caution on any assault as the wet weather made ground conditions far more suited to defence. General Sir Harold Alexander therefore took time to better coordinate the attack and reorganise his forces.

Alexander’s first move was to shift the bulk of Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese’s British 8th Army across the spine of Italy from the Adriatic coast and to take up positions to the right of Lieutenant General Mark Clark’s US 5th Army. The remaining British Divisions that were part of US 5th Army (with the exception of those stuck at Anzio) were also transferred to British 8th Army, finally resolving the logistical problem US 5th Army had of trying to supply troops equipped with US and British army equipment.

Once in position, US 5th Army had US II Corps on the West coast with the French Expeditionary Corps to the right ready to move up into the Aurunci Mountains. To the right of the FEC, British XIII Corps sat ready to push up Route 6 into the Liri valley while Polish II Corps were tasked with accomplishing what the British 4th Indian Division had failed to accomplish twice, namely loop around Cassino to the East, assault up Snakeshead Ridge and take the Monastery. Once the German defenders had been defeated, US VI Corps were tasked to break out of their Anzio beach head and cut off the retreating German 10th Army.

Operation Diadem plan of attackOperation Diadem plan of attack

The entire offensive was codenamed Operation Diadem. Its primary goal was to break through to Rome but its size and scope was also designed to tie down as much of the German forces in Italy as possible to improve the chances of the planned Normandy landings. In all, the initial offensive was planned to take place across nearly a 30km front, from the Western Italian Coast stretching inland along the Rapido and Garigliano rivers.

Reorganising the units along the front was carried out in secrecy to hide the intentions from Kesselring, still commanding the German defences in Italy. To reduce the chance of detection, troop movements were kept to small units at a time and changes along the front took place at night. British 8th Army left behind dummy tanks and vehicles along the Adriatic Coast to confuse enemy aerial reconnaissance and shift all but one Corps to the other side of the Appenines. To further confuse the defenders, US 36th Division were sent on amphibious assault training and dummy radio traffic was used indicating locations North of Rome. The deception was aimed at keeping German reserves further to the North. Overall, the deception was largely a complete success as Kesselring maintained his reserve close to Rome and even after the assault was launched, the Germans believed that they were facing six Allied Divisions at Cassino, rather than the 13 that had actually gathered there.

6th Armoured Division, part of British XIII Corps, gathered before the assault is launched6th Armoured Division, part of British XIII Corps, gathered before the assault is launched

The start of the assault was sounded on 11th May at 23:00 by over 1600 artillery guns from the US Fifth and British Eighth Armies bombarding the German defensive positions. Within two hours, the Allied troops began their advances.

On daybreak of the 12th May, by the coast and along route 7, the US II Corps were making slow progress, meeting strong resistance from the defenders. The French Expeditionary Corps (FEC) to their right were making better progress into the Aurunci Mountains and had largely achieved their objectives. As the morning progressed, the FEC were beginning to fan out to the East to meet up with the British Eighth army who were tasked with pushing up Route 6 with a view to encircling the remaining German defensive positions in the mountains.

The British Eighth Army’s XIII Corps had met significant resistance as they tried to cross the Garigliano river but by day break, the British 4th Infantry Division and 8th Indian Division had succeeded in creating bridge head and, more significantly, the engineers of the 8th Indian had managed to bridge the river allowing the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade to cross and fully engage.

The Polish II Corps had advanced up Snakeshead ridge and met the fierce resistance of the 4th Fallschirmjager dug in around the monastery. Once again the allies assaulted point 593 and briefly managed to take the position before being repelled by a German counterattack. This was a pattern that would continue for 3 days as the Polish repeatedly assault the German positions before being driven back by counter attacks. During this time, the Polish II Corps would lose nearly 3,900 men.

[In the pictures below, you can see Allied mortar teams around Cassino launching their bombardment, German MG teams dug in around the ruins of the town and German mortar teams returning fire]

As the 12th May progressed, the central thrust from the XIII Corps began to gain ground and held against increasingly desperate German counter attacks. On both flanks, attrition on both sides was high however given the significantly larger manpower of the Allies, the strain was increasingly showing on the defenders.

By the morning of the 13th May, the US Fifth Army on the coast was starting to make progress and push the defenders back. The FEC had achieved their objectives and captured Monte Maio. They were now begining to turn Eastward as planned and provide increasing support to the British XIII Corps still making headway up Route 6 in the Liri Valley. Kesselring was becoming increasingly concerned about holding the positions and threw all of his remaining reserves into the Liri Valley to, at the very least, hold open the rout of retreat to an already prepared defensive line 13KM to the North, the so called Hitler line.

Over the coming few days, all elements of the Allied assault continued to make gradual progress against the determined defenders. The Moroccan Goumiers of the FEC particularly excelled in the rough mountain country and carried out a number of daring night attacks that the defenders found difficult to resist. Lieutenant General Mark Clark, commander of the US Fifth Army, was particularly complimentary writing ‘[The towns of] Cerasola, San Giorgio, Mt D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy… key to the success of the entire drive to Rome’.

[In the pictures below, you see Shermans supporting the advance through the town of Cassino and Polish troops assaulting up Snakeshead Ridge]

The British 78th Infantry Division joined the main XIII Corps assault from reserve on the 15th May. Rather than push forward up the Liri Valley, they turned East and began to isolate Cassino. This act made retreat increasingly difficult for the defenders and effectively turned the battle as Kesselring began to realise that holding on to Cassino and the Gustav line was now almost hopeless.

Polish II Corps, who had called off their assault on Monte Cassino two days earlier launched their second assault. Once again the troops were met with a near constant artillery and mortar bombardment as they tried to cross the open ground. The fighting was once agin fierce, up close and desperate. But, with the supply lines from the Liri valley increasingly getting restricted and the route of retreat gradually closing, Kesselring finally ordered the withdrawal from Monte Cassino. As night fell on the 17th, the German defenders quietly slipped away leaving the Polish II Corps alone on the high ground. By the early hours of the 18th May, Polish troops linked up with British troops from the 78th Infantry Division in the Liri Valley.

Such was the devastation that the Polish II Corps had suffered, ‘it took some time to find enough men with the strength to cover the remaining few hundred metres to the ruined monastery and capture the summit’. When they got there, they found around 30 wounded German defenders who were too injured to move. As sun rose over Monte Cassino on 18th May, men from the Polish 12th Podolian Cavalry raised the Polish flag on the hilltop. After 4 months of fighting, Monte Cassino had finally fallen.

[The pictures below show the level of devastation wrought upon Cassino and the surrounding landscape]

2nd Battle of Monte Cassino - Cassino Station (Part 3)

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Turn 5:

The smoke closes in, reducing the visibility to 14” this turn.

GRP unpins and advances along the hedge. The MG team cannot see anything due to the smoke so also advance up toward the station, staying behind the hedge. GBP advances up behind the two smoking tanks and GGP looks to advance around the side of the station and cut off the retreat area. The German shooting is woeful and they can only pin BRP, causing no further damage.

The Maori’s can now begin to fall back if they wish, having survived to Turn 5. But, with the Panzers destroyed, there is a chance that they could hold the station from the assaulting Germans. Adding to the complexity is BRP remain pinned and cannot withdraw, so the Maori’s stay put and fight on. Pinned BRP shoots at GRP and causes another casualty, if the Maori’s can break GRP, they could shake the entire German force and cause them to withdraw. The 2iC is able to kill a team from GGP but otherwise, the Maori’s just aren’t causing enough damage.

Turn 6:

The smoke visibility is again 14”.

GGP advances around the back of the station to the rail line and GBP also advance, creating a pincer movement and surrounding the Maoris. GGP and GBP kill two teams from BGP and also pin them in place. The MG team is able to kill a team from BRP.

The Maoris fail to unpin and cannot withdraw. With their shooting restricted, they can only manage to kill one team from GGP but little else. The situation is deteriorating rapidly for the Maoris but they hold the station and gain 1VP.

Turn 7:

The smoke clears, giving a 22” visibility although everyone is now so close, the smoke is having little impact on the battle.

The Germans now completely surround the station building and continue to fire upon the pinned BGP, removing the last three teams and wiping out the platoon and giving the Germans 2VP.

GGP assault BOP but fail to cause any damage while BOP reply and are able to kill one team from GGP and force them to fall back.

The Maoris manage to lift the pin on BRP but being surrounded, can’t really fall back. They do manage to kill a team apiece from GRP and GBP and gain another 1 VP for still holding the station.

Turn 8:

The MG team cause another team on BRP to be removed and pin BRP in place. The Germans are able to pin BOP as well with volume of fire and the Maori 2iC is killed by GGP’s fire. During the assault phase, GBP manages to kill a team from BRP and forces them to fall back. GBP is also able to assault BOP and kills 2 teams on BOP but can’t push home the assault, being forced to fall back. BOP though is now reduced to just two teams.

The Maori’s start their turn having to make morale checks. BOP passes theirs but with just one platoon in good spirits, the Maori’s are faced with a company morale check which they fail. Surrounded, and with no hope of retreat, the Maori defenders surrender to the superior German force

So this battle played out differently to history. The only similarity was the the tenacity of the Maori to defend against the German counter attack. Unlike history, the Maori’s were able to destroy both tanks but ended up surrendering whereas in 1944 they actually made their way back to Allied lines.

 

The Germans surround the Station, cutting off all hope of retreatThe Germans surround the Station, cutting off all hope of retreat
The Maoris surrender, completely surrounded and cut offThe Maoris surrender, completely surrounded and cut off

2nd Battle of Monte Cassino - Cassino Station (Part 2)

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Turn 1:

The smoke visibility this turn is 24”.

The German intention is to push the two Panzer IV’s up the road and swing a right hook at the Maori Green Platoon dug in along the top of the map. Red and Green platoons (GRP and GGP respectively) will attempt to take the small house before pushing on toward the station. Red Platoon will advance on the house while the MG and Green platoon attempt to provide covering fire. Blue Platoon (GBP) will support the two Panzers. Movement progresses as per the plan however the shooting is largely ineffective – only the Allied Orange Platoon (BOP) takes a single casualty.

The Maori’s will attempt to remain in position for as long as possible. Their only real advantage is that they are dug in and concealed behind terrain, so will take some effort to shift. If they can remain that way for a few turns, they should be able to pick off the advancing Germans with some accurate shooting. In their first turn, they can only really fire at GRP but do manage to remove two bases from the platoon and pin them in place.

Turn 2:

The smoke closes in a little this turn, reducing visibility to 16”.

The Panzers and GBP continue their advance. GRP is able to unpin and closes to within assault range of BOP. The MG teams also move up in support. A few teams from GGP advance up the road to put pressure on the building and take cover behind the hedge. The German shooting fails to cause any wounds however BOP takes a lot of incoming fire and gets pinned down. This is exactly what GRP wants and they can now launch an assault. Leaping up and charging, GRP rushes toward BOP but BOP are well organised and their defensive fire kills two of GRP’s teams and pins them down as the assault fails.

BOP unpin and decide to move two teams into the house to defend it from the advancing GGP. BOP is able to cause another kill on GRP but otherwise, the Maori shooting is ineffectual.

Turn 3:

Once again, the smoke visibility remains at 16”. GRP remains pinned in place.

The two panzers reach the end of the road and turn toward BGP, well within charge range. GBP advances behind them. GGP advances to the building and within assault range of BOP. GGP, GRP and the MG teams all shoot at BOP and collectively pin them and kill two teams. The Panzers’ MG’s remove a single team from BGP and also pin BGP in place. It’s nicely set up for the assault now.

GGP assaults BOP both in the house and behind the hedge. The defensive fire kills 2 teams from GGP but fails to stop the assault which kills three teams from BOP, including the platoon HQ. BOP are forced to fall back and GGP takes up their positions.  

The Panzers assault BGP and the single PIAT team is unable to hit the tanks. The assault results in the PIAT team being destroyed and BGP falling back toward the station. It appears that the German plan is working.

The Maoris elect to fall back a bit further as BOP gets behind the hedge line that BRP are using as cover. 2iC appoints a new HQ for BOP to bring them back in command. BRP is able to kill a team from GGP but otherwise cannot deliver any further damage from their collapsing position.

Turn 4:

Smoke visibility is 20” this turn and GRP fail to unpin.

GGP, having taken the house, looks to advance further up the road toward the Station. The Panzers and GBP also advance along the top of the table toward the station, with the Panzers once again moving within assault range.

BOP takes a further casualty from the shooting this turn but otherwise it is all about the Panzers’ second assault on BGP. As the Panzers move forward, the PIAT teams attached to BRP and BOP both fire defensively, with one of the shots penetrating and bailing a tank. The remaining tank kills a team and, following an unsuccessful counter attack, kills a second team before BGP falls back again.

The Maori’s elect to stay put and concentrate on shooting. BRP’s PIAT team shoots at the operational tank and hits. The shot penetrates the armour and, against the odds, destroys the tanks. Encouraged by this success, BOP’s PIAT team shoots at the bailed Panzer and also hits, penetrating the armour causing the occupants to bail for a second time and rendering the tank useless. In just two shots, the Germans have lost both their tanks and the odds swing significantly!