As happened historically, in a slightly different way, the sluggish, confused column out of Manhay has been scattered and wrecked. My CCA base, on the plus side, has made it away east. The HQ is still stuck at the crossroads. 48 Arm inf have taken the brunt of the attack. 40 Tank are in the process of responding. They will form a line (a base of fire?) at the red line and then we will see what happens when a few Shermans face a lot of Panthers and grenadiers, especially in a few hours time, when it gets light....
That means there are over 15 Panthers ablaze. We have done well, perhaps. It's only intel, of course. I'm not sure, but I think I haven't lost a single tank yet. The Panthers came across the field and went into the flanks of 48th Arm Inf, which suffered. But my Shermans then opened fire on the Panthers from a flank position, with conspicuous success.
The SS units fall back towards Grandmenil. One surrenders. That was 11 Panthers, maybe. I have lost 2 units, though small ones, the AG platoon and a mortar platoon. But I see a chance to get into Manhay, so I order C co from 40 Tank and C co from 48th Arm Inf to defend in Manhay. Off to the west 3. 289 is now attacking down into Grandmenil. It's still dark and I still have no real idea how strong the enemy is around Grandmenil.
If the enemy is no stronger than what I can see there's a chance 3. 289 will actually get into Grandmenil.
7am. As dawn approaches the 3.289 rallies and starts to attack down towards Grandmenil again. I have 2 sets of reinforcements (in the yellow circles). My single arty unit, would you believe it(?) is under attack from an HQ unit!!!! An HQ unit equipped with 6 Panthers....
I order the 23 Arm Inf (up in the north) to move to a position north of Grandmenil. I check the 'attacks' box hoping this formation will deal with the 1.2SS HQ unit in the north of the map there on its way. I order the 1.325 Glider Inf to attack straight into Manhay.
Everything has changed, very quickly. I am not completely sure what has so devastated 40 Tank. There was massive artillery attention. Would that do it? They were extremely tired and very low morale, and I made them fight through the night. It seems I've paid the price for that decision. Either the arty or the Panthers attacking up to them in better light. Or both. I'm still counting the cost.....
I think they will have had support, Daz. I did keep seeing flashes of infantry units, especially at the beginning of the engagement, but I only have the intel to go on. In fact, at the start of it all I was delighted to see that the AI was, in fact, putting together combined arms attacks in force. I've now gone round my units from 40 Tank and counted the survivors. There's not much left. Through the arty attacks combined with the Panthers I now have only 1 Sherman left of those 26!!!!!!!
To me, it looked like this: The Panthers started out in darkness and atacked across exposed snowy fields towards the 48th AI column. They scattered the column, caused a lot of losses. My Shermans counter-attacked into their flanks and took a high toll. But then the Panthers fell back and came at the Shermans again, in half light now, supported by heavy artillery fire. Result; some Panthers fell, but I lost nearly all my Shermans.
This is looking quite grim for me now.
I did a quick surrender to check the vehicle tally on the AAR. The Axis have wrecked 100 AFVs, the Allies 30. A 3 to 1 kill ratio in favour of the Axis. It's what I would expect, I guess, facing Panthers with Shermans (in each troop of 15 or so Shermans usually only 1 is a jumbo), but for a moment, at the start, when we took out around 15 Panthers, I thought I was going to get the better of them. Not so. It was better, perhaps, in darkness, when the differences perhaps evened out a little, but once there was some light those Panthers engaged my Shermans from a greater distance, I think. They were at Manhay firing right across the open fields, a distance of around 1km, I think, maybe a little more. And since they had all that arty coming down on them my Shermans will, at the very least, have been buttoned up.
Don't hurt your lip, Daz. Just tell me what you think I should do! Now, I mean, now that it's already to late......
Mainly, I'm playing this to test the tweaked scenario and map, to see if I can achieve what I wanted - to get more aggressive behaviour out of the AI, a greater, more coordinated use of the force available to it. So far, that's looking good, and I'm happy to lose to it. That would be my hope, in fact. If I can win now without trying then that would be a disappointment. The 7 orders I gave at start are the same 7 orders I give in the stock scenario and they are sufficient to get enough out of the opening 12 hours or so to be able to win against the Axis every time, though not necessarily a decisive win. So I would hope that doing the same wouldn't work as well, as seems to be the case.
What should I do now, then? To make it harder for the AI.
I love what your doing with trying out the new ideas mate.
As for your tactical decision to send the 1.325 Glider Inf to attack straight into Manhay, along that open valley floor, just as it had got light, with the axis controlling the ridge on their left flank well .....
I would have sent them up into the forest on that ridge south of Manhay to interdict the enemy troops and supplies moving north along the main road where it exits the forest.
It would give you the initiative, as they would then have to attack you there taking pressure of your troops north of Manhay.
You would still be able to retreat them east through the forest, then north across the valley through Vaux-Chavanne at last light, if they are too under strength to hold the forested ridge.
I think it would be best to leave one of the Coys in Vaux-Chavanne with the HQ as a reserve, and only send two Coys up onto the ridge, to keep open the retreat route.
I hadn't thought about sending them into the woods to distract attention from Manhay, Daz. Good idea! Too late now. We'll see how they do. I think that's the least of my probs now. I haven't any armour left is what I'm mainly worrying about....
Jumping forward a few hours. I've spent the whole day trying to extricate my men from the mess I got them into. IN the end I've given orders to all units near Manhay to pull back to safety north of Manhay, where I'm now trying to rest them. I think now that this should have been my plan initially - to rest the units in safety, then attack, because (with hindsight) there was going to be no way I could get into Grandmenil before the Axis during the first night. Note that this is NOT true for the stock scenario, only this alt scenario.
It's getting dark again now and my plan was, at least, to rest all units through the night and make a push for Grandmenil and Manhay tomorrow. But now I see Axis units approaching Awez, where I have only TF Kane holding out. Could the Axis be aiming to exit there? I expect so. But will it throw considerable force at this, as it did at Grandmenil, or can I rely on TF Kane alone to hold this exit point?
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