East of Orne - 6th Airborne at Normandy 6 June AAR Part I

Game:  Panzer Battles Normandy by Wargame Design Studio
Scenario designer:  David Freer
Scenario briefing:

Ranville, North of Caen: June 6th, 1944. (Scenario Size: Division. Allied Human vs Axis AI or Head to Head) In the early morning hours of the 6th of June, the paratroopers and glider men of the 6th British Airborne Division were landed on the far left end of the Normandy Beachhead. Their mission was to protect the flank of the British 3rd Infantry Division scheduled to land just west of the Orne Estuary. The action began with the glider coup-de-grace by Major John Howards D Company of the 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Their task was to secure the bridges across the Orne River and Canal and hold until relieved. Additionally the bridges on the River Dives as well as the Merville battery overlooking Sword beach had to be neutralised to prevent the Germans interfering with the planned British seaborne landings. This scenario covers the first day of action for the British and Canadian units of 6th Airborne Division and the German response to push back the airborne invaders.

This AAR covers my first ten turns of gaming (20 turn scenario) and has some midpoint thoughts about the challenges you face as the Allied commander.

6 June 1944: The British 6th Airborne division is dropping behind the British beaches.
John Howard's men move on Pont de Ranville just after midnight 6 June 44. Dropzones 01:00 6 June 1944

Rough glider and parachute landings for 6th Airborne have caused widespread disruption within the Allied ranks which is paralyzing in the early goings of this East of Orne scenario.
Turn 4 Update:

Brigadier Hill's 3rd Brigade is attempting to secure two key objectives at Varaville and west of Robehomme.  Disruption is plaguing their attack.  I have spent 4 turns moving them into a semblance of order so I can advance on the the objectives and hold them.

The Allied 3rd brigade is a mix of Brits and Canadian paras. The Canadians are moving into position to attack Varaville while Brig. Hill sets up a command post. 
The 8th Parachute Bn from the 3rd Brigade has dropped well to the south of Hill's main force (Hill is blue cluster to the NE of 6th's dropzones).
I am mulling over how to use the 8th Parachute battalion (which dropped far from the 3rd Bde dropzones),  I could use them to attack Herouvillette due north of them in support of the 5th brigade or push further east towards objectives at Bures, Troarn and Robehomme.  I am leaning towards Robehomme because it will put them within reach of the 3rd's main body.  Both of these objectives are about 5kms away.

Turn 10 Update:

I have made some mistakes. I had moved John Howard's men after they landed to the east against the Pont du Ranville objective.  In hindsight, it looks like I should have moved them west against Benouville.  Now I need to attack across the Orne in daylight with German reinforcements beginning to arrive.

I begin a buildup for the attack across the Orne.  The la Mesnil objective has also fallen to my Paras.

Howard's men and the Glider pilot regiment are going into action against Benouville.  These are the best men in the division (A and B quality).

By turn 10 I have secured the Varaville objective but the 3rd brigade is scattered over a 25km square area with German units in the middle of it.

My losses are catastrophic.  I took heavy losses over the drop zones (more than 700 I think) and now I am accumulating losses across the entire divisional area.  I am playing for a minor defeat but don't think I can cobble enough victory points together to get there.

Scenario thoughts through 10 turns:

  • This plays really tough.  
  • The early disorganization from the drops and glider landings kept me on my heels until I had consolidated my units (4-5) turns. Now that I have a clear chain of command setup for my units I am attacking outwards from the drop zones against the various objectives.  
  • I have secured a few but I am unable to make attacks in every direction and I need to.  If you try this scenario, move faster. 
  •  6th Airborne has dropped on top of elements of 2 German regiments, which have managed to keep me bogged down.  they are everywhere seemingly.  Expect to be surprised by dawn. 
  • My two unengaged units are also now engaged. I ended up throwing the 8th Para Bn against the Herouvillette objective and the Canadian battalion against the Merville battery.  The difficulty of seeing what is in front of you during the initial night turns and the off-course drop of the 8th Para Bn really put the 3rd Bde on it's heels.  Keep that in mind when choosing objectives.  My pipe dream of bringing them 5km east, through a forest at night without a direct road was in the end, a pipe dream.


Conclusion:  This 20 turn scenario is a gem.  It is a manageable size and length.  It has really got me thinking about the difficulty of organizing once airborne troops hit the ground (disorgainized or organized) and the speed these lighter, tougher troops need to employ to achieve their objectives before the heavier German units counterattack.

Comments

Bert Saerens said…
Nice write-up. Always love reading things from the Pegasus Bridge assault.