The two marks (Mark and Marc), continue their chronological newsreel AAR series thru the sands of time with Combat Commander as the metaphor of their exploration of squad level combat in WWII.
A Bitter Beginning to Autumn, 1942
The Axis onslaught continued in the early days of Autumn this year. The Germans managed to hold their ground against the Soviets in the Mamayev Kurgan section of the city of Stalingrad while the Japanese held against assaulting Australians on the island of New Guinea. Detailed reports follow.
September 27, 1942 A Vicious Blow to Stalin’s Army
It is with the heaviest heart and gravest mood that I report that our brave defenders of the Soviet Union have not been able to drive out the Germans from the Mamayev Kurgan area of the city. We tried, Comrade General but have not been successful. While I might blame our troops equipped mostly with submachine guns who could not reach their targets or the lack of accurate artillery fire from our rear, I can only truthfully offer myself as the party to which you must lay this blame.
Here, Comrade General, you see the forces arrayed at the beginning of the battle:
You can see that the filthy Nazis are dug in quite well and the masses of rubble make it difficult to hit our targets. Furthermore, the wicked Krauts were able to reinforce their men with at least one heavy machine gun which wreaked havoc among our faithful soldiers. On our righ flank, I was alone able to escape when my men were ambushed in melee by the Germans. We were able to infiltrate their foxholes with one of our satchel charge equipped squads but they were killed. You must know, Comrade General, that we stormed forward in the face of devastating fire. Our troops gave a good account of themselves but alas, were unable to dislodge the Germans. Here, Comrade General, you can see the results of this terrible fight.
I ask you, Comrade General, to send me back with more men and we will drive the Nazis from our country!
In praise of Comrade Stalin and the USSR!
[Note: Cpl. Melekhov’s request was denied and he was summarily executed by the unit’s commissar.]
Report from Eora Creek, New Guinea, October 28, 1942
With Australian units pinned down near Eora Creek on New Guinea, the Aussies sent in a relieving force to assault the position. They were met by a screening force of the Imperial Japanese Army and a brutal engagement ensued.
Here are the forces just prior to contact. Note the Australian forces farther back, pinned down and suppressed, hoping for relief.
The Japanese let loose withering fire which begins cutting down the men on the far ridge. Weaver is hit and then killed by shell shock! The ANZAC forces are fighting valiantly but can’t kill enough of the Japanese. Closing for hand-to-hand fighting is too dangerous. On the left of the assaulting force, Lt. Foley moves his men up to flank the Japanese position. They rush into melee but what’s this? The Japanese reinforce their men. Lt. Foley is killed and the Aussies killed and scattered bloody man-to-man combat. The ANZAC scout continues to call in artillery strikes but to no avail. The entire force of Indians has been swept completely from the ridge and destroyed. There isn’t time and the Japanese can’t be dislodged! The battle goes to the Emperor’s troops.
Here is the bloody end:
Scenario 45, Game 5 was the last of the battles fought using the Campaign scenario and rules from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #2 – Stalingrad. I decided to take both of my Regimental Reserve units to fight. It was an all or nothing in my mind. Too bad both extra platoons were SMG platoons. There was nothing for it but to Move, Advance and rush the Germans as best we could. I had a good draw of Moves, Advances and Recovers. When the Germans jumped Melekhov and his squad and team with their leader, squad and team, I declined the fight and Advanced back out. I then took those same men into a foxhole with only two German units. I had an easy victory by pulling an 11 but the Initiative Card was tossed my way. I roll a 2! I send it back and pull a 3! It was a huge loss and I failed my personal morale check there! Maisky calls in a decent arty strike but the Germans recover and wipe Maisky and his squad off the hill. I think we had three Time Triggers in the space of pulling four cards and the game was over. Germans win with 11 VP.
Since that was the 5th campaign battle, it was now time for the first campaign Sudden Death roll. It’s a 3! Having won that most recent battle fo the campaign, the Germans achieve a Tactical Victory in the campaign! It was a series of really close battles!
Scenario M5 in Combat Commander: Pacific is from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea.
I thought we might have a good chance with some artillery requests followed up by some good fire attacks. And it actually started out that way. But later I was heard to say, “Perhaps I’ll look to see if the Commonwealth Revie cards are in the box, because they sure aren’t in my deck!” Compare that to two Revive cards exactly when the Japanese needed them. I tried to fire, flank, and close but you know how dangerous the Japanese are in melee and I couldn’t make these melees the exception. Losing my main leader along the ridge was really bad and it went from there to worse until I rolled Sudden Death at 8 and that was it. The Japanese won with 13 VPs.
It was a rough day for CC today. Although I won’t deny that I probably could have played better, I must protest the string of bad rolls I pulled so frequently. And the lack of Revive orders in my Australian hand really hurt. Yes, I’m blaming the cards! Nevertheless, the games are fun and engaging as always and I had to work hard not to lose complete hope and keep in the fight until it was actually over.
Current standings for our Combat Commander Series chronological play through are Allies-Axis, 11-18, which includes individual battles from the Stalingrad campaign scenario. It’s still cool to be fighting so fiercely in Stalingrad and then switch gears to the Pacific jungles. It’s a good historical reminder of how very different things were going on at the same time around the world during the war.