The relatively uneventful peace of Turn 3 was shattered by the M8 Greyhound making a surprise Advance past my Hetzer, only to fire a 37mm round seconds later into it's lightly armoured side. The result was an impressive explosion and one very much knocked out self-propelled anti-tank gun. Not good. The Panther commander decided this was not on so retaliated with a long range shot at the British Cromwell, which promptly caught fire and got pinned down.
While this was going on the British infantry began to sneak up on my right flank, so I ordered my mortar to plonk a round on top of them, again with little effect. No problem. All I had to do now was unleash the MG42 cunningly concealed behind the doors of the barn, directly in the line of sight of the advancing Tommies. Ha Ha!
With a burst of fire the MG42 cut down one of the squaddies and pinned down the rest. Unfortunately, they then retaliated with the concentrated firepower of a whole section including a Bren team and several SMG's, causing two kills and effectively wiping out my MG42 team for the rest of the game. Things were looking less than fantastic.
The British infantry now took on the German infantry in the farmyard. This resulted in an exchange of fire which left my landsers much the worse for wear. It also wiped out what was left of my MG42 team, leaving me dangerously exposed on my right flank, especially as the Cromwell now extinguished it's fire, removed the pin and resumed it's forward advance. The British mortar also started to bombard my position, which promised to be a problem as it began to zero in.
I retaliated by opening up with my infantry section from the top floor of the farm building, targeting the Yank infantry which had now approached up to the building in preparation for an imminent assault. The useless 81mm mortar also dropped another ineffectual round on top of them...again. Now, things really began to unravel, largely as a result of the lack of grey order dice in the bucket, all of which seemed to be somewhere near the bottom.
The Yanks now advanced their Shermans on my left flank, taking two consecutive shots at my Panther which was left unable to respond due to an absence of any command dice. As the Shermans were my models, this was particularly irritating, especially when they brewed up one of the Panthers with a very lucky sequence of dice rolls! The PaK 40 and my other Panther fired back but only the anti-tank gun scored a pin on one of the Shermans, setting it on fire but causing little other damage.
This was it. The German position was looking very wobbly but I was determined to hold on as long as possible, following my orders to hold up the advance of the Allied relief column. The ****** M8 armoured car now zoomed up my left flank, opened up on my PaK 40 with it's co-axial machine gun and wiped it out! The Yank infantry and mortar also began to blaze away at the top floor of the farmhouse heavily pinning down my defenders in hail of bullets and exploding bombs.
With my order dice nowhere to be seen, the Sherman 76mm now targeted my other Panther and knocked it out before it could retaliate. With all of my armour up in smoke it was time to do something rash, so I charged my infantry section from the farmyard into the adjacent barn through which the Tommies were trying to infiltrate. This ended in a last ditch close assault, which was a narrow win for the Germans but which convinced me that it was time to lay down my weapons and surrender.
The outnumbered infantry section pinned down on the top floor of the farmhouse decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so followed the example set by their compatriots. There was no point continuing the firefight as I had nowhere to go and a back garden full of Shermans, so for my boys the war was over. The CO meanwhile made his getaway in his trusty Hanomag, which had been hanging round at the back as a tactical reserve. That's how he explained it to his company commander anyway.
I have to say I really enjoyed this game, even it I got thrashed in the end. I did achieve my objective against pretty stiff odds, so I don't feel too bad about the end result. I should have made better tactical use of my Panthers, which in retrospect should have had the first allocation of the command dice with Ambush orders, but the dice draw really was against me in the last two turns. The initial deployment was also sound, with the Allied players both thrown off balance by the hidden threat of my concealed infantry and heavy weapons teams. The PaK40 team also get the coveted 'man of the match' award.
I'm looking forward to another all day game, especially as I had to leave half way through, having been up until 2am the previous evening when I got back from the 6 Nations France v. Wales rugby match in Cardiff. I'll have to retrieve my Shermans and Panthers first though, as I left them in the care of Mike, who had gone to the not inconsiderable trouble of organising the game and supplying the splendid terrain. Thanks Mike. I hope we can have another crack at a big multiplayer weekend bash sometime as I thought it was a great success!