AAR - Manhay Crossroads

Discussion in 'CO2 - After Action Reports' started by Velkan, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    This will be my first AAR, while I go through the core scenarios for the first time as well. I’ve read the updated manual, saw the tutorial vids, checked a few AARs and played Return to St. Vith until I felt confident enough I had grasped the basics. Onto Manhay Crossroads!

    2100 hours, 24 December 1944

    This is an exploitation operation, which seems typical blitzkrieg stuff, move fast, attack or flank and don’t get bogged down. From the briefing we learned that the enemy is tired and disorganized, so we’ll take full advantage of that tonight, D1. My plan is to secure the valuable objectives (i.e. Manhay, Grandmenil and the road to Mormont) as fast as possible, try to control the southern approaches before dawn of D2, then move towards the Erezee exit point and cover our northern flanks on D3. Destroying the enemy is also a top priority.

    For this operation we will be in command of two Regiments from the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”:
    • one Panzer battalion (equipped with 59 Pzkfw V Ausf G - Panther)
    • three Panzer Grenadier battalions (400 men on foot, the remaining 1000 motorized)
    • one company of assault Pioneers
    • one company of Flak
    • one company of Artillery (6 Grille)
    Important reinforcements are due to arrive on:
    • D2, 0645 – one Panzer battalion (with 12 Pzkfw V Ausf G - Panther, 22 Pzkfw IV Ausf J and 21 Stug III G)
    • D3, 0500 – one Panzer Grenadier battalion (400 men on foot).

    Phase 1 of this plan (to be completed by D2, 0700) is as follows:

    Plan Phase 1.png

    I. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (inf) will move fast though the forest and probe-attack Oster. If it captures the village, it will wait for the I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt (armour) and then probe-attack Grandmenil ASAP.

    I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt (arm) will move fast SW, attack Oster and leave one Coy holding it. The rest of the Bn will move North, to support the attacks on Grandmenil and Manhay. When both objectives are taken, it will help defend those until dawn.

    III. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (mot-inf) will attack North towards Manhay. It will have to clear the highway first, then attack Manhay, for which fire support from the 13 IG Coy (art) will be available.

    II. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (mot-inf) will move SW and probe-attack Freyneux, then Lamormenli. These are both low value objectives, so the main purpose of this force is to secure our southern flank and the SW road.

    Pak Pl 4 Coy 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (AT) and the 14 Flak Coy 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (AA) will move fast SW to Oster as soon as it is captured and defend it.

    15 Pion Coy 3 SS Pz Gren Regt (eng) will move fast SW as soon as Oster is captured. When the Pak Pl 4 Coy arrives to secure Oster, the 15 Pion Coy, supported by the single Coy 2 SS Pz Regt (arm) will probe-attack La Fosse, capture and defend it.

    The remaining HQ and Supply bases will establish themselves in Odeigne and near the highway to Baraque de Fraiture. They will move forward if need be.
     
  2. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE

    The enemy has left Oster (in the centre) undefended.
    • I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt has left its 1st company guarding it, while the rest of the battalion pushes north with the infantry from the I. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt towards Grandmenil.
    • 15 Pioneer company and the Pak platoon from the 4 Coy have been sent to Oster.

    Day 1, 2334 hours
    North:

    Phase 1 D1 - northen front.png

    III. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt has encountered light armour (M5 Stuats) and mechanized opposition on the highway to Manhay.

    At the same time, the I. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt probe-attacked Grandmenil and the vanguard found an enemy armoured company (M4 Shermans).

    Facing these developments, I opted for focusing on Manhay crossroads first:
    • I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt has been ordered to attack the mechanized enemy from the rear
    • Its 2nd company will move to Grandmenil to support our push into the city.

    South:

    Phase 1 D1 - southern front.png

    The probe-attack from II. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt met with resistance from an armored company, but the enemy was caught resting and our infantry soon expelled them from the village. The enemy as been identified as Task Force Kane, possessing M4 Shermans and M5 Stuarts.

    Due to this opposition:
    • Pak platoon 4 Coy has been requested to set an ambush position by the opposite bank, where it will have a clear line of fire when the sun comes up.
    • II. Bn will defend Freyneux for the time being, I don’t intend to divert other forces south nor suffer losses here, since these southern objectives are low priority. The main purpose here is to keep the SW road open.
     
    #2 Velkan, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  3. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    Day 2, 0704 hours (dawn, clear sky)

    North:
    D2, 0704 - Manhay.png

    Chasing the stragglers out of the highway and from the forest took precious time, allowing the enemy to reinforce Manhay. They had a considerable force there that, despite suffering a heavy and prolonged bombardment from our 13 IG Coy, prevented our forces from completely taking the city before dawn. With two Companies from the I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt supporting the III. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt, there are not enough forces to take advantage of the coming daylight to wreak havoc among the enemy forces advancing from the North. This may jeopardize our entire effort here, so:
    • Two Pz Companies from the I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt will withdraw from Manhay to the forest vantage points ASAP, in order to fire on the enemy threatening Manhay and Grandmenil.
    • 1st Company is also moving north to the vantage point near Grandmenil to support the northern defence

    Northwest:
    D2, 0704 - Erezee road.png

    While the fighting over Manhay raged, two companies from the I. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt moved north and west to probe the roads, supported by 2nd company I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt. These managed to assume control of the Grandmenil-Erezze road after a brief struggle with a mechanized company. The northern company failed to secure its objective without support.
    • 2nd company I. Bn 3 SS Pz Gren Regt was ordered to withdraw to Grandmenil ASAP
    • Likewise, 2nd company I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt will assume defensive position on the vantage point to the Grandmenil-Erezze road, with maximum aggressiveness and minimum losses.
    Centre:
    D2, 0704 - Oster centre.png

    With the coming dawn our attempt to blitzkrieg is over, for we do not have air superiority to adopt those tactics during daylight. Our Panzer Companies must have AA cover if they are to properly stop the enemy moving north.
    • The 14th Flak Company 3 SS Pz Gren Regt was ordered north to provide cover to our Pz Companies camouflaged near the woods.

    South:
    D2, 0704 - Freyneux south.png

    With the arrival of reinforcements, these where ordered SW and met a curious enemy. 3 Platoon of the 83 Recon Bn decided they had enough with guns and came unarmed to our HQ to conduct reconnaissance, looking for someone called Ryan. We where very surprised, since our Division had already fought against another platoon of soldiers looking for the same man, near Ramelle, back in June. Small world.
    • The newly arrived II. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt have been ordered southwest towards La Fosse.

    End of Phase 1:
    Phase 2 - D2, 0704.png
    Our forces have achieved every objective (blue circles) except capturing Manhay crossroads, while the road to Erezee is under our control, but precariously. Enemy presence and possible attack routes have been marked in red. As we can see, our main weakness is the centre, from where our only Main Supple Route supplies most of our forces and being, right now, the least protected area of our lines. The arrival of the Panzers from the II. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt will give us some security here (centre white diamond) and allow us to explore alternative routes to the Erezee exit. Our remaining Panzer companies are moving fast to their assigned over-watch positions in the woods (smaller white diamonds) to allow them better firing solutions in order to cover our infantry in the towns and also provide some camouflage against enemy airplanes.

    Phase 2 will be during daylight, focusing on the defence of our currently held objectives while we attempting to destroy as much enemy forces as possible while preserving our own.

    Phase 3 will begin after sundown.
     
    #3 Velkan, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  4. Ripppe

    Ripppe Member

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    Interesting read Velkan! Looking forward for some more. :)
     
  5. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    Thank you, Ripppe! On it.
     
  6. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    0704 hours, 25 December 1944

    Phase 2 is under-way, to be completed by sunset, 1700 hours:

    D2 - phase 2.png

    With clear skies and visibility of 7500m, we can expect the enemy to push hard with the full support of its air force.
    In the north we will move most of our panzers into the woods (white diamonds) for protection and to provide cover to our infantry in the towns; AA cover will be present. In the centre, the forest tracks will be exploited towards the exit to Erezee. South, we shall risk a daylight attack in order clear the enemy presence there since we can't leave these units in a passive defence, they are needed elsewhere.

    Our main objectives will be:
    • conquer Manhay or deny it to the enemy – with the forces from the Panzer Grenadiers III. Bn 3 SS and the Panzers from I. Bn 2 SS (protected by the 15 Flak company 3 SS)
    • defend Grandmenil and the road to Erezee – by the Panzer Grenadiers I. Bn 3 SS and two Panzer companies from I. Bn 2 SS
    Secondary objectives:
    • exploit the forest paths to Sadzot, capture it if possible and control the exit to Erezee – 15 Pioneer company supported by Panzers from II. Bn 2 SS
    • destroy the enemy to the south and capture Lamormenil – Panzer Grenadiers II. Bn 3 SS with two Stug III companies from II. Bn 2 SS (when successful, these units will move north and north-east)
    Reinforcements: two Artillery companies will arrive at 1020 and 1230, each equipped with twelve 10.5cm leFH.
     
    #6 Velkan, Aug 11, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  7. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE - 0800 hours of Day 2

    D2, 0800 - Manhay captured, shermans flank.png

    Manhay is ours, main objective complete! The enemy retreated under fire from the Panzers in the city plus the fire from the HQ units (also equipped with Panthers) stationed uphill, near the highway. At the same time, a company of Shermans flanked us west, through the woods, and bumped right into a company of Pz Grenadiers heading into the forest. The Panzer company nearby will make short work of them.

    Also, notice a danger that I did not see at the time (and will suffer for it), the airborne infantry moving from Vaux-Chavanne in the north, towards the woods.
     
  8. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE - 0945 hours, Day 2

    D2, 0945 - southern objectives captured.png

    Southern objectives acomplished! There was a company with M4 Shermans in Lamormenil that put up a good fight, but the Stug IIIs from II. Bn 2 SS took care of them. One company of Stugs will remain here with a company of Pz Grenadiers from II. Bn 3 SS that needs rest. The remaining companies will move north to La Fosse in order to join II. Bn 2 SS and explore the western approaches.

    Notice the top message: apparently, the men in the company of Shermans that flanked us earlier experienced a significant emotional event when they saw our Panthers.

    D2, 0945 - northern infiltration.png

    Airborne troops where detected in the highway behind our lines, 11th Company of Pz Grenadiers, that was held in reserve, was sent to deal with them. Their initial attack forced them to retread, but a glider mortar platoon was spotted just to their left.
    Also, one of the companies that assaulted Manhay retreated due to the intensity of the enemy fire and is now unable move due to a combination of incoming fire and exhaustion.


    UPDATE - 1104 hours, Day 2
    D2, 1104 - severe pressure up north.png

    The fighting escalates. North of Manhay, the enemy is kept at bay by the continuous fire from our Pzkpfw V Panthers, that pick off everything caught in the open. Mechanized and foot infantry attack us in the western forest and in Grandmenil, forcing I. Bn Hq and one company to fall back. The airborne troops turn out to be a Bn of glider infantry, two full companies (probably one more unaccounted for) plus the mortar platoon. The hunter becomes the hunted and 11th Company starts taking fire from both sides and is pinned down, with heavy casualties. The 14th Flak company is immediately ordered up the highway to provide support, while a similar order is given to the Panzers of the 4th Company 2 SS. Every available mortar and artillery piece are focused on the mechanized unit in the forest and the glider infantry companies.

    In the lower right corner, the 15th Pioneer company starts its advance through the woods towards Sadzot, with the panzers of the II. Bn 2 SS soon to follow.
     
  9. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE - 1336 hours, Day 2

    North
    D2, 1336 - company lost up north.png

    The ambush set against the 11th Pz Grenadier company was devastating, killing over 100 men. The company was disbanded and the remaining men and material merged with one of its sister companies. The 14th Flak company managed to pin down the enemy mortars while the 2nd Panzer company attacked the glider infantry companies, forcing these to rout into the woods. This will be a problem soon, because the only non-motorized units we have and heavily engaged (and exhausted) in the forest west of Grandmenil, where a strong company of shermans and another mechanized are attacking, with only the 1st Panzer company to face them. Artillery support will be crucial.

    West
    D2, 1336 - fire over the exit.png

    II. Battalion 2 SS has encountered the enemy guarding the exit to Erezee and has opened fire from the vantage point atop of the hill. The attack on Sadzot will soon follow, conducted by the Panzer IVs, the 15th Pioneers and the 5th company Pz Grenadiers. Notice that one enemy unit near the village hasn't been sighted for some time.

    South
    D2, 1336 - enemy reinf south.png

    The enemy has called reinforcements. This infantry unit, spotted near Sadzot hours ago by the 15th Pioneers during their scouting mission, has reinforced the enemy reconnaissance battalion in the south. Therefore, we don't know if more are on the way or what's behind that hill. The Stug company has been ordered to destroy that isolated recon company, so that we can focus only on defending Lamormenil and the river valley towards La Fosse against any incursions.
     
  10. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE - 1702 hours, Day 2

    North
    D2, 1702 - north, fatigue.png

    With sunset, Phase 2 is over. The northern objectives have been achieved, with the capture of Manhay and the successful defence of Grandmenil and the road towards Erezee. Notice the widespread exhaustion (dark red status) among my troops, that have been fighting for almost 24 hours straight since this operation started, while the enemy has had the luxury of constant fresh reinforcements. To the left, the company of Shermans (fresh troops) that was attacking was successfully stopped and the escorting mechanized company forced to retreat. To the lower right, one of the routing glider infantry companies was spotted 2 hours ago, 90 men somewhat fatigued but still capable of harassing rear units or supply convoys, specially at night.

    West
    D2, 1702 - west.png
    To the west, we have failed to complete the secondary objective of capturing Sadzot and the exit to Erezee. Our attack on the town, accompanied by artillery support and both armour and infantry forces, was stopped in its tracks by a single armoured company of 14 Shermans, later identified as F Company 2nd Bn 33 Armored Regt. The enemy tank-destroyer unit in Awez played no part, their artillery did give us some problems, particularly to our Pioneers, but the enemy Shermans where forced back at the last moment. However, our greatest obstacle was fatigue. With exhaustion diminishing our unit's combat capabilities, we simply could not break a strong defence by a fresh enemy, not even with numerical and material superiority.

    South
    D2, 1702 - south.png

    Down south, our secondary objective of clearing the enemy was not successful, despite the fact that we captured both villages. Now, with reinforcements on their way, the enemy might try to overwhelm us here. In fact, even before the Stugs from 6th company could return, the 7th Pz Grenadier company was attacked in Lamormenil by a mechanized company of 200 men, forcing a retreat into the nearby woods. Only the actions of the Pak and Mortar platoons kept this fresh enemy from entering the village. It was later identified as F company from the 36th armored infantry Bn. I wonder what these Amerikans feed F companies with...
     
  11. Daz

    Daz Member

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    Loving it, well done mate :woot:
     
  12. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    Appreciate it, Daz! :)
     
  13. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    I'm back at work, updates will take longer.

    1702 hours, 25 December 1944

    Phase 3 has started, to finish by 0700, D3.

    D2 night - phase 3.png
    Night falls, all of our forces are exhausted (between 50-80%) and our enemy will start to attack under cover of darkness. Exhaustion has been our greatest enemy so far, since our units cannot advance or fight properly against a numerically superior and fresh enemy (the commitment of all our infantry companies during the first night was an error on my part) and we risk not having fresh units to defend our objectives, let alone fulfil our exploitation mission. The ability to obtain a decisive victory will depend on if we manage to rest our units properly (since recovering from exhaustion takes longer that acquiring it [contrary to real life], as far as I have seen) or if the enemy will attack us constantly, not allowing our reserve and front line units to rest in a rotating pattern, some defending while others rest.

    In blue are our defensive perimeters and attack movements, while red shows enemy presence and possible attack directions. Notice the presence of the glider infantry company in our rear (red square) with at least 90 men, while another company is uncounted for. Our first priority will be to press II. Battalion 2 SS to complete their attack against Sadzot, while we hold our objectives elsewhere. The panzer companies will descent from their over-watch positions and provide direct support to the defending infantry. The lack of a mobile reserve is worrisome.

    South:
    II. Bn 3 SS Panzergrenadiers, with 220 men and 11 Stug III from 6 Coy 2 SS will hold and defend Lamormenil against a mechanized company and the remnants of an armoured recon company. This force will provide support if the enemy glider infantry tries to disrupt out lines of communication and supply.

    North:
    III. Bn 3 SS Panzergrenadiers (300 men) will hold Manhay crossroads, with support of 27 PzKfw V Panthers from I. Bn 2 SS Pz Regt.
    I. Bn 3 SS Panzergrenadiers (480 men) will defend Grandmenil and the road towards Erezee, while delaying any units advancing through the western woods. Support from 17 PzKfw V Panthers will be present.

    West:
    II. Bn 2 SS Panzer Regt, also commanding the 5. Panzergrenadiers and 15. Pioneer Companies, will attack and hold the village of Sadzot. This force consists of 260 men, 3 PzKfw V Panthers, 8 PzKfw IV Ausf. J and 4 Stug III.
     
  14. pekische

    pekische Member

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    I enjoy your battle Velkan!
     
  15. Daz

    Daz Member

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    Good luck on taking Sadzot mate.
    You need Sadzot in order to take the exit objective at Awez, where there are 17 points awaiting you.
    That could easily be the difference between a marginal and a decisive victory in this scenario.
     
  16. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    Thank you very much, Pekische! :)

    Indeed, Daz! I need the village to open fire on the enemy near Awez and also to rest my troops indoors. It will be a race to conquer it, I suspect the enemy infantry Coys (sighted 1h ago) have been moving forward and the commander of our II Bn (A.I.) was attacking with one company at a time. I'll coord the next attack myself, I just hope my orders get there on time before that single Coy is engaged.

    This scenario is very challenging. Now I understand why, in reality, the attack by "Das Reich" Division stalled in Manhay and Grandmenil. I might post some historical details of their final advance when I finish the scenario.
     
  17. Velkan

    Velkan Member

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    UPDATE - 2053 hours, Day 2

    I will shorten unit designations from now on, while stating their composition as well (infantry, tanks or other):

    6. Company from the 2 SS Panzer Regiment will be 6/PR.2SS
    II. Battalion from the 3 SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment will be II/GR.3SS

    (I believe this was the correct way Germany shortened its unit names, please correct me if wrong)

    West:
    D2, 2053 - west.png
    Our forces managed to rest for a bit and infiltrate the village of Sadzot, albeit precariously. Our pioneers have taken a pounding from the enemy artillery and are still recovering, while the enemy armour close by hasn't been seen for more than 2 hours. Our companies lost several panzers in an earlier attack, due to reckless tactics by the commanding officer (A.I.) of II Battalion PR.2SS, attacking with a company at a time and without infantry support. These losses have limited our ability to exploit the exit to Erezee by confronting the enemy directly, which has forced me to consider advancing through the night with the forces we have, instead of fighting attrition battles that could cost us even more men and material. I'll decide soon.

    North:
    D2, 2053 - north.png

    We have managed to rotate our exhausted forces properly and, despite the fact that none are fully rested, they are combat effective now. Enemy infantry has made several probe-attacks against Grandmenil, being repelled every time but failing to disrupt the units resting in town. Through the woods, our infantry and panzers have been attacked by enemy armour, mechanized infantry and an unknown infantry company from the north. Deciding the risk of guarding the road objective was too great for a single infantry company, I ordered the grenadiers from the 1 Company GR.3SS to pull back, probe-attack towards the units by the forest crossroads and join them. Just as I was giving the order, we received reports of an enemy armoured company moving through the road, denying us the objective.
    Further east, attacks against Manhay where scarce and weak, the objective is still ours and our units are resting in the town.

    South:
    D2, 2053 - south.png

    Further south, things have been calm except one or two attacks against Lamormenil, no supply columns have been attacked. However, due to the low priority of this objective and the increasing concern regarding the enemy glider infantry behind our lines (spotted over 6 hours ago), I have decided to delay-defend Lamormenil and pull II Battalion PR.3SS back to Freyneux. We will hold this objective and have a mobile reserve ready to move against the glider infantry when it is detected (since they didn't go after our supplies, they might attack one of the objectives).

    Question for the readers: do you prefer posts with these full images or just the thumbnail, for you to open if you wish? I don't have that problem, but some of you might have slow/limited internet connections.
     

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  18. Ripppe

    Ripppe Member

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    I much prefer the whole pictures as it makes easier to follow the text. :)
     
  19. Daz

    Daz Member

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    Prefer the full picture.
    Looking forward to seeing how things are looking in the morning, especially the Allies disposition around Awez.
     
  20. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Member

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    Reading along with interest!
     

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