Manhay Crossroads Allied defence

Discussion in 'CO2 - After Action Reports' started by SamuraiN, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. SamuraiN

    SamuraiN Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2019
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    5
    Historical Reinforcement and supply. Per request, I played this scenario with limited manual ARTY management. To simulate reality, ARTY management should not be overly heavy.

    I have to say I am amazed by the operation maneuvers of the AI, and it has tried all probable assault operations I have considered, even slightly more. And the flexibility it demonstrates in changing its operation focus is extraordinary, in which aspect AI most likely outperforms the human in general as it is not affected by emotions.

    Situation analysis:

    Based on the briefing, we know that we are facing an SS Panzer Division, so the situation is critical in the first few hours. Note that order delay is high initially, and most forces of CCA 7th Armoured Division (AD) is low on ammo. Task Force (TK) Kane is in good shape, and rear guard of CCA 7th AD in the woods have ammo.


    Manhay Situation.png

    In the map above, black lines indicate probable SS attack routes. Dotted lines indicate possible attacks which we do not need to worry for too much in the first couple hours. Note that enemy foot infantry can move through the woods to support attack along the highway, or secure Oster if needed. Green circles points out areas that are unexpectedly passable for motor.

    Now the critical decision for Allies is, whether to hold Manhay, Grandmenil, both, either, or neither. The briefing tells us to abandon those towns, but the problem is that if we do so, we still need to hold surrounding areas, meaning that we would have a larger area to cover, further spreading out our small force. In addition, the rearguard along the highway has to be withdrawn lest they will be surrounded.

    One viable strategy may be that we can send only one infantry company to defend the Grandmenil Erezee road, and all the rest of the force defending positions in the north, as the briefing says. Later reinforcements can take care of the west direction. If holding either of the towns. we cannot lose Grandmenil because otherwise the SS can launch a full scale assault from there to Manhay, which we cannot withstand. If holding only Grandmenil, the issue would be those roadblocks along the highway. If we hold them, which requires a stronger force than two companies, and we lose Manhay, the enemy will surround those blocking forces and annihilate them. If we do not hold those positions, then Grandmenil would face half encirclement. Furthermore, note that CCA 7th AD base need to be stay in Manhay to supply defending troops with badly needed ammo. There is one risky maneuver possible, which is to let a small enemy force attack Manhay: once enemy is spotted, immediately occupy the woods next to the road in the southwest of Manhay to cut off the road, and counterattack from the south and west. Though this strategy still requires some troops in town, especially to protect the base.

    Whichever defence strategy we choose, the key is to delay the enemy, which falls on the shoulders of TF Kane, in particular, D Company 83 Recon Bn.
    View attachment 7941 Manhay Deployment South.png Manhay Deloyment North.png

    D1 21:50 and later
    As 2 SS found out the southern route was blocked, they amassed a sizeable force to try breaking our positions along the highway. Their assault force comprised of about 2 Panzer companies (mostly Panther), 2-3 infantry companies and 1 FLAK AA company. We lost our first blocking position with heavy losses. At Grandmenil, the Panther company forced our mortar platoon to disband, our ARTY battalion engaged it in road column, with 1 light and 1 medium tank companies counterattacked it. In the South, medium tank company of TF Kane engaged enemy infantry and lost 1-2 tanks and was ordered to retreat.

    In my multiple attempts, the AI never tried to use those forces that slipped through the bottleneck in the south to attack D Company, 83 Bn. Admittedly the AI could do better. Though there was a dilemma: they did not know the location of the rest of TF Kane, so if they threw only some forces to remove the block, they might be ambushed by us. If they divert too much force to do that, they will have to re-plan and will lose time for assaults on Grandmenil and Manhay. Plus they may run into our delaying forces on their way to FUP for the attack.
    Manhay 01 North.png Manhay 01 South.png

    D2 09:50
    We repulsed enemy attack along the highway, but their Panzers broke into the corridor of the forest in the north and tried to attack Manhay. A company 48 Bn counterattacked but was repelled, but then they came under the fire of our tanks next to the corridor and retreated, while we through our infantry reinforcements into counterattack, later followed by tanks. Most infantry units that got weakened in the attack were diverted to the South again, as they finally forced our blocking force from its position.

    I took a risk for a brief period: during D2 early hours, the vanguard of infantry reinforcements from the west engaged the retreating Panther company and got delayed, while the assault on our positions along the highway almost broke through our last position, so all tanks were thrown in there and there was only CCA HQ and base at Manhay. I reasoned that their assault on Grandmenil was not followed by any other force than that lone Panther company, so they were unlikely to send fresh forces to attack from Oster direction, given that our blocking position in the south was still holding at that hour.
    D company 83 Bn is in a precarious situation, as its retreat route is blocked. Manhay 02 North.png Manhay 02 South.png

    D3 11:59
    Our positions in the North are now secure.Though the enemy may try another assault from the direction of Oster. We should also now pay attention to possible enemy attack from the south to Awez in the west. Best defence positions are two gateway positions. Note that the position around the woods in the southeast of Oster can overlook town areas in the south. I sent an infantry company in the hope that they may get there safely, though in this case an enemy infantry company stood in the way. This dispatch turned out to be unnecessary and a bit disadvantageous for reasons explained later.

    Manhay 03 North.png Manhay 03 South.png

    Now our armoured reinforcements will arrive in a minute. We can start to plan counterattacking. Potentially the enemy will launch another wave of assault from Oster, though our current forces should have no problem holding them. Our available force for counterattack will be limited, because almost all our units except paratroopers will be very tired with high fatigue by sunset if they keep current level of fighting. And that company dispatched to the woods for observation could have helped with the defence to allow other unit(s) to rest.

    So we are not likely to inflict crush the enemy in our counterattack, but we should aim to achieve some advantage in strategic position, and we need to look for a place that we can hold if the enemy counterattacks. Our reinforcement, TK McGeorge, has strong mechanised infantry units, and we have inflicted quite some casualties on the SS infantry, so we will use a night assault to hopefully reduce the advantage of German armour.

    My choice is a breakthrough in the east along the highway.
     
    #1 SamuraiN, Dec 1, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
    panzerpit likes this.
  2. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    2,084
    Likes Received:
    119
    Really looking forward to the rest. I have - I must confess - never considered using TF Kane as a sacrificial delaying force - I've always tried to get them out of that bottleneck as soon as their long orders delay is over. The passable 'impassable' areas are a nice detail. You've obviously gone over the ground really carefully. The stream west of Lamormenil is very small (in real life - I've been there) and passable for wheels throughout its length in game. The thin neck of woods near Freyneux is I guess a function of it being actually 'mixed' terrain at that point. Interesting.

    The orders delay in this scenario is meant to be such that TF Kane can't actually react before the Axis units get well past the bottleneck near Freyneux. That's how it always happens if you play as Axis. So it will be interesting to see how you use TF Kane.
     
    #2 john connor, Dec 6, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  3. SamuraiN

    SamuraiN Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2019
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    5
    I have to correct, that TK Kane was not used as sacrificing force by my command. Their retreat routes are planned ahead. Though for D Company 83 Recon Bn the task is difficult. But it is possible for it to retreat under darkness, and if necessary, abandon their vehicles to hide in the woods, though this is not modeled in game. I even ordered Kane's command to stand where it was, close to the infantry company, for morale's sake. The results, in my several attempts, are that TK Kane units largely survived, except for the light tank platoon.

    I checked the history book, and it says that TK Kane set up roadblocks around that neck area, but those positions were overrun with a ruse of the SS - a captured Sherman tank leading the armoured column. That explains the simulation of the situation in game. My actions can be interpreted as TK Kane reacting once they know the breach of roadblocks, while a part of SS column has already passed.
     
  4. SamuraiN

    SamuraiN Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2019
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    5
    One thing perhaps worth mentioning is that the XVIII Airborne Corps Base might be used as a defence force, possibly for Manhay, or some point in the northern hills if both towns are to be abandoned. They have plenty of personnel and Bazookas, so delaying 1 Panther Company plus some infantry is possible for them, and that way we can free a company into our reserve.
     

Share This Page