In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Battle for a Bridgehead

So last year I built a rather spiffy large steel girder bridge, suitable for many a WW2 scenario, by modifying a model railway bridge. Of course the problem is that in most pictures of bridges during WW2, they don't look like that. They've been blown by the retreating Germans or bombed into twisted scrap by some B17s. Mikey found some more bridge girders for a $1.00 in some one's junk box at a Bring and Buy and passed them along, where they sat in my hobby stuff for almost a year.

The other week on a day off I felt the urge to make some terrain and got out my Dremel tool. With a bit of careful positioning of sections on the original embankments to get the angles for the cuts right I quickly hacked things apart and used a butane barbecue lighter to soften and bend the broken ends. I then glued some sections of road bed on and gave it a quick paint. Left over off cuts of girder were glued to clear plastic to make debris jutting out of the river. The result is this:

bridge 001

IABSM pics 001
The Canadians reinforce the fragile bridgehead.
Note the Kingtiger destroyed in the last game
Inspired by the game I had with my nephew a year ago, I thought of a scenario to follow on from that. The sappers have thrown a light pontoon bridge over the canal and a fragile bridgehead has been established. The Germans counterattack to try and destroy the bridgehead before a heavier bridge can be built to allow Allied armour across.

The Canadians have two rifle platoons, with two Vickers MMGs and two 6 pounders and a carrier patrol over the river. A third rifle platoon is coming up to cross. Giving supporting fire from across the canal is a troop of Shermans. There is also a FOO. Mike failed his die roll for air support. Presumably bad weather has grounded the fighter bombers that gave me such a headache in last year's game!

The Fallschirmjaeger are attacking with two rifle platoons and two platoons of StuGs supported by an MG42 MMG platoon, a 75mm Infantry gun section (I rolled to randomly decide between them or the sexier 150mm recoilless rifles), a FOO calling in 120mm mortars and the company HQ with it's own 80mm mortars.

IABSM pics 005
German base of fire
Brian and I used the road to divide our attack. The base of fire formed by the MG42 platoon, the infantry guns and the mortars would be on the right. On the left the two rifle platoons supported by a platoon of 5 StuGs would attack through an orchard. The second platoon of 3 StuGs stayed in reserve behind some woods.
IABSM pics 004
FJ assault from orchard

Mike put both his rifle platoons with the 6 pounders and Vickers guns in the shelled houses at the foot of the blown bridge. The carrier patrol covered the right of the pontoon bridge.
IABSM pics 006
StuGs give close support
Meanwhile Brian pushed his two platoons through the orchard. The lead section got cut up before my suppressing fire drove the Canadians back from the first house. I came off blinds fairly quickly and started hammering the platoon opposite me; MG42s and 75mm HE tearing up the rubble and piling a lot of shock and casualties onto the beleaguered Canucks. A 'lucky 17' roll with one of my early fusillades knocked out one of Mike's Vickers MMGs. My FOO also was able to quickly bring in the 120mm mortars compounding their misery. The 80mm company mortars were used to lay smoke and blind the Shermans on the opposite canal bank.

Brian was not really able to develop a full strength assault and pushed into the edge of the village with one section who easily drove out the pinned Canadians. But they were in turn counterattacked and driven back with heavy casualties. A second attack retook the rubble. The one platoon of StuGs formed on the German left and engaged the carrier patrol and the Shermans over the canal. The long range and small size of the carriers enabled them to survive for far longer than was thought possible. The second StuG platoon pushed up the road to give the Fallschirmjaeger some close support.

At this point the Canadian FOO was finally able to activate his artillery support and brought in a battery of 25 pounders onto the StuGs causing a mobility kill and lots of shock. The third rifle platoon was also able to get across the pontoon bridge and reinforce what was left (which wasn't much).

It was by now 0230 hrs and time to wrap the game up. The FJ could still crush the bridgehead with their weight of armour but their rifle platoons had taken 50% casualties. I think the battle would be decided by the FOO and the HQ set up by the pontoon bridge; how quickly could they get more reinforcements up and how much artillery could the FOO bring down to cordon off the perimeter?
To tweak the scenario I would have added a special card to randomly decide if some more Canadians show up to reinforce. Some armoured car sections or carrier patrols that had been scouting along the canal could have come back or more Shermans arrive to give more supporting fire.

Figures are all 15mm (a mix of Peter Pig, Battlefront and Old Glory) from my collection. We used I Ain't Been Shot, Mum 3rd edition rules with the Battle for Liberation army lists.


  1. It was a fun game and an interesting scenario, reminded me of some of the Italy bridgehead battles I have read about.

    Thanks for hosting James.

  2. An interesting scenario and cracking AAR. Thanks for sharing.

  3. No problem Brian!
    I was reminded of the last battle in Farley Mowat's "The Regiment" with the Hasty Pee's leading rifle platoons getting overrun and their bridgehead being crushed.

  4. That was a great batrep James. Reads like something out of Mark Zuelkhe. Love the ruined bridge and the atmospheric look of that BW photo. Good stuff.

  5. Thanks Mike. I have to confess that the BW shot was totally staged. I just wanted an excuse to get that HQ vignette and the group having tea outside the bunker on the table!

  6. That was great, James. You can almost hear the rip of MG42's. I definitely want to give that scenario a try. Visualizing that action made my hair (what's left of it)stand on end.

  7. Great Batrep. It had me looking at figure prices!