From historical notes: Colleville, Normandy, 6 June 1944. The first few hours of Operation Overlord were characterized by massive confusion, especially at Omaha Beach; so little seemed to be going right that Bradley and Eisenhower were actually contemplating withdrawal from the Omaha beachead. However, as more and more troops and material came ashore, those remaining alive from the first wave were forcing their way inland bit by bit. In the sector of the First Infantry Division – the “Big Red One” – the day’s objective was village of Colleville. As more platoons and squads gradually made it off the beach and into the French countryside, they formed up in a draw leading to the town. Lack of radio communications and smoke from day-long artillery exchanges prevented the Navy from providing expected fire support, but with German fire coming from the area, the order to attack was given. Colleville had to be taken, and without further delay.
The scenario lasts five turns for both sides. To win scenario as Americans at the game end, there should be no good order German MMC in a stone building hex <= 3 hexes from M5.
Setup zones are following. Purple lines marks objective buildings for both sides:
The forces for this scenario:
I’ve got Germans against Americans with balance, which means that I will receive 1 less 4-6-7 as reinforcement. Americans has 3 MMGs and good leaders that would help to suppress German defences, while a lot of HS will try to advance Germans. Germans has two MGs at the beginning, so they should be placed to cover both avenues of approach. One more MG will come on turn 2 and should help to reinforce south part of defence line. Germans has a great range of 6, so it’s much easier to interdict American movement through the open ground. Leader 6+1 may help to rally broken units in the rear, while 8-1 leader can do much more on the front line.
Let’s use OCOKA principles to analyse possible options:
O – Observation and Fields of Fire
C – Cover and Concealment
O – Obstacles
K – Key Terrain
A – Avenues of Approach
So, we have defensive position 1 which we should try to hold as long as possible, as when Americans reach stone buildings, we need to leave them because of lower chance to win Melee. I would avoid utmost hexes O6 and P6 during setup, as they could be targets for devastating Prep Fire on American Turn 1. Anyway, you control open hex O7 from P5, R6 from P1 and R5 from P1 and P5. The problem of position 1 is that it’s not so easy to withdraw from it when Americans come closer, as they will interdict any open ground movement with high firepower. Though it’s possible to find safe routes during the Rout Phase units are broken (you may even think about voluntary breaks, as it’s better than lose valuable troops in CC).
Position 2 is also very important, as it controls all reinforcements from the north. It becomes much more important after second wave of American reinforcements is onboard. So, you should be patient here and fire only to set residuals in critical points and protect yourself from enemies in adjacent hexes. If enemy didn’t infiltrate woods deeply, someone can withdraw to position 5.
Position 3 is another great spot with one massive vulnerability – it’s totally isolated. It you get lucky to survive there long enough, you will cut a big portion of Avenue of Approach with only one squad. You will also control central open path, so it wouldn’t be so easy for Americans to cross the center of the map.
Position 4 is a Key Terrain and last stand for the Germans, as it contains the farest victory buildings from Americans. It’s not easy to protect if Americans made a breakthrough on positions 1 and 6, so try to protect it at approaches. I would put HMG somewhere there to stop as many initial attacking troops as possible.
Position 5 is universal defensive fire point that guards almost every approach to the Key Terrain 4. Though at the late game it’s also become isolated. Try to get there if you have a spare squad.
Position 6 is a natural defence line from the American reinforcements bypassing the woods. Estimate the strength of American force on that direction and put corresponding counterforces here.
I wouldn’t put anyone in position 7 as it’s vulnerable to assault from grain fields and prep fire from American setup positions. And I’d also avoid position 8, as Americans could just enter them in Advance Phase killing everything in CC.
German reinforcements may be diveded between positions 4 and 6 depending on the American progress. If you were thrown off to the southermost buildings don’t be sad yet, as you’ll have the last turn in the game to concentrate on one victory building.
Let us see the American options here. As often, it’s better to concentrate forces at the weakest direction and not spray them.
Starting American forces has two Avenues of Approach. Avenue 1a has almost no Cover and Concealment, there’s a lot of killing ground on it’s route and also Obstacle in P1 that may block the initial advance.
Avenue 1b looks more reasonable, as American may approach R7 via Assault Move if it’s occupied, or just enter it for free on T1. It’s better to have a full squad in R7 to place smoke in O7 and R6 in the future turn(s). It’s also reasonable to make powerful prep fire from U6 on any utmost German building to rush there with half squads. If defences are dense there, you may start with 1st wave on reinforcements and return to starting forces later.
First wave reinforcements has a good cover at entry hexes O10 and N10 and also some Concealment on the way to the village thanks to grain fields. If you’re going to rush towards the village early, think about entering through O10, as grain will decrease any residual significant. N10 is under non-hindered fire from K8, so be careful with non assault movement here.
Second wave reinforcements has an opportunity to envelope present German forces, as their reinforcements will come later this turn. You may choose conservative Approach 3a with good Cover and Concealment. Only adjacent DFF could create much pain there. SFF, FPF and Residuals in the woods not so scary as in the open. There’s also chance to infiltrate German positions via Approach 3b (using leader), but be careful there and don’t do this if someone can still project firepower in I7 hex.
Let’s see what we’ve got in the real engagement! I made following “safe-mode” setup:
Opponent reacted with his setup:
On the 1st American Turn there were not a lot of juicy targets for Prep Fire, so he made some maneuvers against fire – only one HS made it to the village (4 HS came via Die Roll):
On Germans Turn 1 I made several regroups to counter American reinforcements rush:
Americans tried to advance using 1b, 2 and 3a Avenues of Approach, though their Prep Fire missed and progress wasn’t good also.
On German Turn 2 reinforcements took Position 6, but American Defensive Fire broke leader and squad with HMG.
American T3. My Position 3 broken under 6 FP Prep Fire, so south flank becomes vulnerable. Second squad also breaks in Position 1. Americans advances there, though they had some troubles in the woods on my north-east flank. But on HS made it to Melee. Ambush didn’t help him to kill my squad. Leader routs with one squad to Key Terrain 4.
On German T3 I withdrawed squad from Position 2 to Position 5. Broken leader with MMC got a pause and didn’t receive another DM (that will help them to Rally in American T4).
American Turn 4. They fully control Position 1 and ready to rush to the Key Terrain, though only one turn left. My machinegunner wins Melee!
German Turn 4. I decided to direct all my guns on the farest victory building to save at least one. Leader 6+1 was broken after DFPh.
American Turn 5. Prep Fire breaks position 5. Last Assault begins with a Half Squad running through the south flank. Pinned!
Leader with 2nd Line Squad rushes from the woods on the right. Squad pinned!
Leader with Half Squad approaching from the north. 2 KIA!
Another leader with HS runs from the rear. Only leader stays in Good Order.
1st Line Squad coming from the south! 1 KIA!
Another one bites the dust.
The end of American Turn 5 leaves ghostly perspectives to win a scenario.
The last chance is a super-successful Defensive Fire on the German Turn. But it didn’t happen. German won at the end of turn 5.
From the historical aftermath notes: Defended by the 726th Infantry Regiment, Colleville would change hands several times during the longest day of June 1944. As the confusion on the beaches continued inland, coordinated attacks and counterattacks were rare. Small, company-sized groups on each side acted and reacted based on the limited information available to them. At about 1840 hours the 16th Regimental Combat Team finally got fire support from the Navy, just as they were re-taking the town. The 5-in. guns of the destroyer Harding leveled Colleville and killed 64 GIs – one the most tragic friendly-fire incidents of the war. On D+1 Colleville was finally cleared by infantrymen of the 16th Regimental Combat Team.