Wood's Left Hook AAR - Allied Side (Bradley at Bay)

Discussion in 'CO2 - After Action Reports' started by Bie, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Wood’s Left Hook is a scenario that’s part of the upcoming Bradley at Bay scenario pack. I’ve been playing this scenario for the past few days and I’ve also been granted the opportunity to present you guys an after action report of it. Seeing as the scenarios are still a work in progress the finished one might differ in some ways, so keep that in mind.

    A couple of my first impressions:
    • Nice big map with quite a bit of detail.
    • One division at my command coupled with the size of the map means I'll have to make choices. Good I like that.
    • As I understand the briefing I need to punch through the lines and head East. After this, I'll need to exit off-map to the South. I'm not an aggressive player, so I'm interested how far I'll make it.

    Background: (taken from game)
    September 13th 1944, 07:00 hours, Lorraine region of France
    Historical scenario.

    As Patton's Third Army secured bridgeheads across the Meuse River on the evening of September 1, 1944 reports began pouring into headquarters from immobilized formations all along the front: Third Army had run out of gas. The period between Sepember 1-10 1944 in this sector would become known by the Germans as the 2nd 'Miracle in the West' as battrered German formations took the opportunity to rest and refit behind the next natural barrier on Patton's road to Germany: the Moselle River.

    By September 5th, Major General Manton Eddy's XII Corps had received enough fuel to get moving again with the objective of capturing Nancy and pushing on toward Germany. Still believing that the German Army was beaten and routed from the Falaise debacle, Patton ordered XII Corps to quickly establish bridgeheads across the Moselle on either side of Nancy and drive eastward. Without sufficient intelligence and meeting an unexpected and organized line of resistance, these bridgheads were erased and the US troops thrown back across the river with heavy losses. It wasn't until September 12 that XII Corps could claim a secure lodgment on the east bank of Moselle at Dieulouard to the north of Nancy and Bayon to the South.

    At Dieulouard, the US 80th Division was barely across the Moselle when fierce counterattacks by German infantry and armor threatened to drive them back across the river once again. Early on the morning of September 13 amidst the sounds of battle raging across the river, CCA of Major General John S. Wood's 4th Armored Division assembled on the west bank ready to roll across the newly built bridges - although not to help the beleagured 80th Division defend the bridgehead, but to stike deep into the German rear as the left hook of the great encirclement of Nancy.

    The Historical reinforcement schedules for both sides reflect the historical arrival times and locations of units in the battle. Standard reinforcement schedules provide alternative entry locations for some units without favouring one side or the other. The Favour Allies and Favour Axis settings will see the possibility of additional reinforcements enter for each side earlier or later than the historical timing.

    Briefing: (taken from game)
    Your orders are to breakout of the bridgehead with CCA and push east as far as Chateau Salins and then wheel south to make contact with the rest of 4th Armored coming up from the Luneville sector. 80th Division will expand the bridgehead to secure the heights overlooking the Moselle and help secure the lines of communication.

    The Germans have had time to regroup over the last several days so we can expect local counterattacks from the north, and Germans trying to escape the pocket from the south. You must balance your forces between exiting to the south or securing the lines of communication. Victory lies somewhere in the middle...

    Good luck.

    Order of Battle.jpg The Allies' Order of Battle

    Plan.jpg
    My plan for the operation

    Day one:
    I move up CCA across the Moselle and let it attack north. My plan is to take Mousson and its two objectives as soon as possible. The 317th and 318th Infantry Bde's will mostly hold their ground and if possible probe further up East.

    During the day there are sporadic attacks on all of the 317th and 318th positions, which means all of the objectives are contested at one point or another. I opt to keep a defensive posture with the brigades, so expansion of the perimeter toward the East will have to wait. Especially Falaise Hill saw a lot of enemy troop movement and resistance. Meanwhile CCA gets control of Pont-a-Mousson pretty easily. Mousson hill on the other hand takes quite a bit of fighting.

    Attack on Mouson.jpg
    Fighting around Mousson

    At the end of the day quite a bit of troops move up the road past Autreville-sur-Moselle. Clever, as I had neglected to put any real frontline units there. One unit gets through and is stuck on the island in the river. Once I send in the 3rd Bn of the 318th most of the enemy units are gone. During the night most fighting is centered around Mousson, but my forces hold their ground. I'm hoping that come morning I'm done with Mousson so that I can start my push to the East.

    Sneaky bastards.jpg
    Sneaky!

    There are some light skirmishes during the night, but my positions remain unthreatened. Morning comes on day two and the Germans launch three nearly simultaneous attacks on the positions of the 317th and 318th. Quite impressive, luckily most of it can be stopped using loads of artillery.

    Overview after 24h.jpg
    Twentyfour hours into the operation
     
    #1 Bie, Feb 26, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
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  2. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day two:
    Today I really need to head out to the East. Originally I though of taking all of CCA for the trek, but it seems that resistance is quite a bit heavier than anticipated. I opt to pull out the 37th Tank Bn and send it to Nomeny. The rest of CCA will have to handle securing Mousson. Slowly but surely I uproot the defenders on Mousson hill, but they are still with enough to keep breaking my control of the objective.

    South the 317th and 318th Bde are still trying to hold on to their objectives. Almost continual skirmishes keep them busy. I use 3rd Bn 318th Bde to finally push a sizable enemy force away from Falaise Hill and send them fleeing into the valley to the Northwest. Meanwhile Ste. Geneviève is hotly contested. During most of the day waves of German forces keep coming down the road from the woods to the North. Moderate rain keeps obscuring their advance and this rain would keep pouring down right until the end of the day. The enemy units that got pushed off of Falaise Hill would eventually form a line and stop the advance of the 3rd Bn. If not I would have probably kept on pushing towards the 37th in Nomeny. To bad...

    By noon the 37th Tank Bn arrives in Nomeny and seizes the town without much trouble. Light resistance pops up a couple of hours afterward from the North bank, but soon it is dispatched by my tanks. Riding along with the 37th is the 25th Cav Recce, which I task to go ahead and scout out the following objective. It ultimately finds its way to Fresnes-en-Saulnois and takes the objective. Soon afterward a unit breaks my hold of the objective without actually pushing my unit out of the town.

    Throughout the day I notice that a sizable force is gathering to the north. First some SS units try to head past Mousson, but I dissuade them by bombing them heavily. Turns out the 38th SS Pz Gren Regt has joined the battle and is skulking to the north in the Forest of Facq. They put quite heavy pressure on CCA, which can narrowly hold on to Mousson. I decide to send up 2nd Bn 318th Bde up North and will try to let them flank the SS regiment in the woods.

    End of day two.jpg
    A summary of the second day
     
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  3. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day three:
    Oooh boy here comes day three and it's not a doozy. Let's see what happened.

    With the darkness creeping in on day two I plan on giving my units a rest. Most of them have been fighting for the past two days and fatigue is starting to become a problem. The Southern perimeter is holding and Mousson to the North is more or less secured. It seems the Germans don’t like the idea of giving my men a breather though and they continue their attacks on Mousson. As the hours pass they even grow in intensity and ferocity.

    Even with most of CCA still at Mousson it is slowly dawning on me that the enemy has way more units in the area than I had anticipated. It is getting clear that I’m about to fight a battle that I can’t possibly win. The Germans are slowly encircling Mousson Hill, so I make the decision to pull out while I still can. The already exhausted men are ordered to head to Mousson-le-Pont and then continue south to Atton, where the CCA HQ has set up camp. Bitter fighting ensues, but amazingly most of my units make it off of the hill. With Mousson lost I order CCA to go ahead with its mission and head East. Elements of the 318th Bde will cover its depature and take up position near Atton to protect the Dieulouard bridgehead.

    Retreat out of Mousson.jpg
    Retreat out of Mousson

    At this time it has luckily stopped raining but during the night it starts to get foggy and come morning heavy fog veils the landscape. Visibility is extremely bad, which is at least partly advantageous for me while moving CCA. I make use of this and also spend most of the morning redressing the rest of my ranks. Mercifully the enemy troops to the North halt their onslaught, finally they seem to be getting tired too and dig into position on Mousson Hill. I wast no time in putting the dead tired 1st and 2nd Bn 318th Bde in position as well. Meanwhile the remnants of the equally exhausted 53rd Armoured Infantry Bn are ordered to rendez-vous with their brigade HQ at Nomeny.

    The relative calm is pierced by the another attack directed at Ste. Geneviève. 2nd Bn 317th Bde takes the brunt and slowly gets surrounded. Bitter fighting takes place and the battalion is pushed to the southern outskirts of the town by a mix of Wehrmacht and Fallshirmjäger troops. Batalion HQ gets shot to pieces and is disbanded. Its Easy Company takes command and keeps the troops coordinated. Near noon relief comes from Hill 362 and Loisy. The relief party clear the roads leading to the Ste. Geneviève and lift the brief siege of the town.

    The day continues and the fog lifts. Suddenly all hell breaks loose. It turns out that the Germans are moving a sizable force down south to Laudremont. With the clear skies the whole valley is visible and my forces immediately open fire from their positions on the high ground. With this stroke of luck I manage to pin the enemy troops in the valley and can even push away any troops from the Northern outskirts of Ste. Geneviève.

    Fog lifts day three before noon.jpg
    The fog lifts

    With the front at the bridgehead somewhat stabilized I decide that the time has come to finally let CCA make the trek towards the exit objective. Its 53rd Bn is still on its way to Nomeny. It just exited the Forest of Facq while the fog lifted and has to fight its way through the rearguard of the enemy troops in the valley to the South. In anticipation of the 53rd I had already positioned the 37th Tank Bn along the road to Nomeny. It turns out to be a good move as, when the fog lifted, they shot up everything along the road giving the halftracks of the 53rd ample breathing room to move on. With no more time to lose I order the CCA brigade HQ and its attached units to already make their way Southeast. They will in effect be leading the column, but I feel I have no other choice. Luckily I had already dispatched the 25th Recce to Château Salins to scout ahead. Initially it turns out to be lightly guarded. But soon reinforcements flood into the town. Under heavy fire my recon troop retreat, but not without tying up a quite a bit of enemy units.

    Nearing the evening of day three CCA has pushed way deep into enemy territory. Elements of the 37th Tank Bn is already at Grémecy and the brigade HQ itself is also well on its way over there. I will use it as a stopover for the night. The 53rd is still at Nomeny, together with the Priests of the 66th Field Artillery unit. They will still remain there for the night to at least keep some of the supply lines intact.

    CCA breakout overview.jpg
    CCA's breakout

    Twentyfour hours to go. It's going to be a close call as literally anything holding up CCA will result in a defeat. And even if CCA successfully exits the map, a big coordinated assault on the bridgehead might also spell utter defeat.
     
    #3 Bie, Mar 1, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
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  4. David Johnston

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    Great AAR, looking forward to this module.
     
  5. col.sanders

    col.sanders Member

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    I'm for sure sure on board for this one,still into sword to Caen,work has been consuming my time,with Jim's saipan and Your work with sword,and with the release of this one,just might be a good year for armchair generals.
     
  6. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Not a continuation of the AAR just yet. I want to take a look at one of the units that was notable to me in the playthrough up to now. As I've got a soft spot for recce units I'll let the D Troop of the 25th Cavalry Reconnaissance take the spotlight:

    Exploits of the 25th Recce.jpg
     
  7. kipanderson

    kipanderson Member

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    Hi,

    beautifully done:) , I look forward to coming back and giving the thread a full read when I have time.

    thanks,
    All the best,
    Kip.
     
  8. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Great AAR, Bie. Just the right amount of detail. Many thanks. The scenario looks very cool. I look forward to the result.
     
  9. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day four:
    Things around the bridgehead perimeter turn really quiet and I make good use of it to let all of the 80th Infantry Division have a rest. It is the first time that I'm able to do this and who knows what might still be to come. Further East my relentless pushing of CCA to head to the stopover at Grémecy results in some of the units forcibly taking a rest. Most do arrive though and quickly take shelter from the pouring rain in the town.

    Daybreak reveals that most of the enemy has retreated from the perimeter. Some troop movement is seen in the woods East of Ste. Geneviève, but none of the enemy troops are bold enough to risk an advance any more. As nothing seems to be moving around the bridgehead I start to make preparations to expand my perimeter. Mousson is just a stones throw away, but according to intel it still has a high concentration of SS troops. So instead I opt to clear out the aforementioned woods to the East of Ste. Geneviève. This way I can already plan on making a link with my forces in Nomeny. 3rd Bn 318 Bde starts sweeping the woods but surprisingly finds no opposition.

    Day four before noon.jpg

    Just before first light I send out a scouting party to the bridge at Pettoncourt as I want to be sure that CCA can cross it without being harassed. Luckily the bridge turns out to be deserted and I give the order for the whole of CCA to get moving again. All of the armour start thundering down the roads, yet some seem to be still refueling. A quick check shows that they are running on fumes and all of their basics are gone. I frantically check CCA base for its supplies and see that the base itself has no more fuel in stock and that most of its supply column has been destroyed. I neglected to secure the supply columns for far to long and now I'm paying the price of it.

    Out of fuel.jpg
    Supply problems!

    Meanwhile an enemy attack at Nomeny takes me be surprise. The town is being held by the 66th Field Artillery and the 37th Tank Battalion's HQ, which had run out of gas in the outskirts of the town. Most of my artillery is out of range and the 3rd Bn 318 Bde is still to far away to give backup. Both units put up a staunch defense and after a couple of hours of fighting they repulse the last enemy unit from the town.

    Nearing nine o'clock CCA HQ and its regimental units arrive at the Southern edge of the map and continue on their way. Bingo, my first exit objective points are in the pocket. Over the course of the day more units of the 37th and 53rd come through and exit off the map. At the end of the day though six units are stranded along the road to the south. My mismanagement of the supply lines is to blame for this and now these men are in a most precarious situation.

    The day passes mostly uneventful and I decide to send out a company each to Pont-a-Mousson and Mousson Hill to capture the objective or at least break the Axis' hold of it. A Coy 318th Bde slowly heads into Pont-a-Mousson and finding it deserted. Knowing that Mousson hill is occupied I direct all of my artilley fire towards that area. Minutes before B Coy 318th Bde starts moving the hill is mercilessly shelled. B Coy can enter the outskirts and even pushes away two unsuspecting SS units. I order my unit to dig in as to keep the objective contested. By this time the end of the day is nearing and the scenario ends.

    Scenario end.jpg

    Surprisingly I managed to still get a marginal victory. Though I might even consider it a draw or a loss as quite a bit of CCA's units had to be left behind and the ones that got through would probably not have to much supplies left anyway.
     
    #9 Bie, Mar 9, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018

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