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02 JAN: OCC (Olympia) Bulge turn 2


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Monday 02 January

Olympic Card & Comic

4230 Pacific Ave SE, Lacey, WA 98503

Set up 1000 (doors open) game starts NLT 1100


1750 points LW

Forces from Ardennes, Nuts or source material for December 1944 Europe

Firestorm units from Bulge list authorized


Post from Ben will set up the battle arrow we plan to play.

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Missive 1:  The Gathering Storm


Two towns, but one objective:  victory.

Perhaps a third objective was important as well, if you consider surviving the cold of winter in the Ardennes.  No matter.  First thing’s first.


The Wehrmacht losses along the Siegfried Line were so considerable that my new recruits were green and unprepared.  Adelbert, Xabat, Meinrad, and Rolf were all incredibly raw members of the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division.  What really took some getting used to though were the Kriegsmarine men who were suddenly infantry!  To think these men had been part of the German Navy until just eight weeks ago.  That was all the time they now allowed for new recruits, for obvious reasons.  They were now thrust onto a frozen battlefield with us.  We joked that they could pretend they are on a frozen lake if it would make them feel better.  It didn’t.  Eight weeks was far less training than any of us received, and then of course the practical time in the field did much to widen this gap.  Nonetheless, we were part of the proud 6th Panzer Army under Sepp Dietrich's command.  It was simply known that the Fuhrer himself placed this man in his highest esteem and greatest confidence.  He had commanded the SS Leibstandarte personally and been instructed by General Von Fritsch himself in the ways of strategy.  It was he that managed to save many of his men’s lives after the Russians encircled them.  Not once or twice, but seven different times while living to tell of it!  Needless to say, confidence grew extremely high among the men, as the stories of this were shared with the new Kriegsmarine trainees.  This was a man who knew how to command, and so it would be here.  There was little chance of failure.  They believed it, which was what was important right now.  They needed to believe in something with the enemy so close at hand who came from a world away just months before.


The Fifth Panzer Army was tasked with supporting our left flank, and of that I was not as sure.  Breaching the Meuse would not be so easy for them against the 28th Infantry Division of the Americans and should they fail…  but again, one thing at a time.  If we did not do our jobs, it would make little difference what the Fifth did.  No, Wallonia was to be the place and time of my next fight.  We would help drive four allied armies back into the sea while their supply routes were stretched thin and their overconfidence could be exploited.  Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein, the Wehrmacht called it, and it would be a glorious thing indeed.


Otto Skorzeny was to join us in our offensive but behind enemy lines.  He was from the 150th Panzer Brigade, with his American looking tanks (which were basically Panther tanks modified to look more like M4’s the Americans used) and soldiers.  This was news that came at the last minute. We all figured madness had truly set in to see American Tanks with German commanders.  But Otto was quite a crafty man as I learned playing cards with him before he left.  Charismatic and very well spoken.


Our forces were quite impressive, but we were relying heavily on the information and misinformation Skorzeny would provide.  Fully four Panzer platoons were to circle around the enemy and hit them at the city to the northern right flank, while we were left to press forward and hope it actually happened.  The men were understandably concerned that this would not.  That was just the minds way of talking oneself out of bravery.  When the time came, their minds would know nothing but the enemy in front of them.  This has a unique way of crystallizing ones goals and steeling ones soul. 


The forests created broken lines of sight everywhere but to the fore and center, and for severe distances too.  It would be difficult to receive reports, so each part of our mission was explained to us in great detail so that we could carry out its components without need to see the rest of the field  Even better, the Hauptman was to accompany my Platoon.  A great honor!  Felwabel Kreuze(who would host the 2iC) and I were instructed to take the motorized elements and go at all possible speed to the southern flank (to our left) towards town, and take it.  I imagined Rommel would have done the same, leading from the front were he here to see it.  Very exciting.  From the tree line and fields from which we were attacking, I could see that the outskirts of the town would not be reachable in enough time unless we were hell bent and stopped for nothing.  I prepared the drivers to let them know we would do just that, abandoning the trucks if need be.  Allied aerial attacks were a constant potential, and the countryside was littered, and I mean littered, with spotters for the allied artillery which we all greatly feared as well.  The German High command had wisely chosen a day with poor weather to attack in, so that the enemy flights might be grounded.  There was no sense in being in the open any longer than necessary however.  Artillery requires no wings, so weather or no weather, we would be targeted inevitably.  Certainly we did not want to be a larger target than necessary either so I ordered the men into as few trucks as humanly possible to reduce our profile on the approach.  I explained my thinking to the men but I could see they were not excited about packing in like the sardines they had eaten for “lunch” such as it had been.  It would make getting in and getting out awkward, but this was war and their lives were in my hands so I decided it was a better plan than a huge convoy one could easily see or distinguish at range.  Somewhat surprisingly the Kriegsmarine men in our unit seemed not to mind as much. Two of them, Manfred and Jules, were actually submariners originally.  Perhaps they had never been in those trucks before, on a war torn road, in the middle of winter and falling artillery.  At least it was less grumbling to deal with, for which I was thankful!  Perhaps commanding KriegsMarines wasn’t so bad?


I spoke to the Wachtmeisters as well.  I and Felwabel Kreuze let them know where we would be so that they could direct their fire missions.  They agreed to give us covering fire once we got close.  The Hauptman approved it and we were ready.  Wachtmeister Abel Heidelbergen for the Nebelwerfers teams was a very skittish fellow who seemed like he was only half listening, so lost in his own head and covered in sweat was he.  He seemed like he would have done anything to let someone else be in charge but the last two Waschtmeisters for his platoon were dead from counter battery fire and his experience with math had led them to put him in charge.  I think his 8th grade math students probably would have gotten more good out of him than his men would today, but it was far too late for me to worry about other people’s jobs and war had made me twice the hero I ever thought myself capable.  Perhaps this experience and a swift victory would give him the medicine for his night terrors, though to be honest, it was most likely that he would simply replace one with another.  As long as he could point those 60mm tubes at someone useful, I suppose that is all that can be expected.  The Nebelwerfers, heavy mortars, the PaK 40 platoon and both of the 105’ batteries stationed themselves centrally to provide considerable covering fire, all positioned to the rear out of harms reach, relatively speaking.  The PaK 40’s were positioned in the wheat fields, to repel any armored advances the Americans might make up the middle towards all those guns, though I wasn’t sure so few of them would be good for anything more than morale.  More impressive were the 88’s stationed on our far right (northern) flank among the trees pointed towards the rail tracks and ruined stations.  They threatened anything that way with quite a lot of firepower.  It was a veritable killing field to our direct northern flank.  Adding to it were the SS heavy Machine gun unit which joined them nearby.


The SS troops split up, one we called Blue unit, the other Red unit.  It wasn’t a very creative name for them but it did the job.  Red platoon was charged with advancing through the vast expanse of trees on our right and making it to the enemy fields beyond, where Otto was SURE they were hiding 3 inch guns.  Of the many things that might derail our tanks coming around the north side, they were definitely on the list.  Thus far Ottos men had not been able to pinpoint their location but it was clear that they were present somewhere and the SS troops were tasked with getting close enough to support the tanks upon arrival if they could and silencing those guns.  Blue platoon on the other hand was to accompany us on the left.  I tried to argue the point with the Hauptman because I felt this left us too large a foot print to safely make it undetected to the outskirts but the orders were non negotiable and if we were a bit lucky, perhaps the added help would be needed against such a fortified position.


Our heavy machine guns were lined up in tree lines facing the enemy but hidden.  As we were to attack the south, it was hoped that the buzz saw sound of the heavy Machine guns would wake up the lazy Americans and keep their attention focused while we broke from the same cover to make a bee line for the ramshackle buildings  at the edges of town.  Otto had reported the location of many of the spotters and it was job one to eliminate them or our cross country trip could be a brief one.


The pieces were in place and we were then briefed on what we were facing, thanks to Otto and his infiltrators.  From left to right we were facing the 2iD platoon known for their Truscott trot training, and a Mortar plus heavy weapons squad, squarely in front of where my platoon would be heading.  A huge dirt wall had been erected there which they were behind, and ahead fo that stonework walls and buildings which provided them considerable cover from us as we approached and plenty of safety to fire down on us.  They would be free if they wished to advance in relative safety with that much bullet proof cover but why would they when we were coming to them?  Cover became exceedingly important to my thinking.


To the north of them were massive PaK 43’s.  We had no idea how they got them, but we were very well acquainted with what they could do and we were glad for the fact that they were so far south because we knew the tanks were headed north.  However they could still level withering bombardments if they wanted to.  Our hope was they didn’t have much ammunition.  We hoped. 



To their north were the Priests.  Hard hitting artillery again, and very well hidden by the hedges.  In fact we might not have even known they were there if not for the small sliver of line of sight that a 105 battery spotter had to one of them.  And where there’s one, there’s four we reasoned.


The enemy company command were  right of the Priests, in a large unit in the wheat fields there just on the outskirts of the northern towns objective.  I think the Americans were very confident that the northern township was secure.  Perhaps they assumed the attack would come from the South, or so our Hauptman reasoned.  To the northeast and our 2:00  was a large burned out building where we spied an infantry unit holding one of the objectives.  To the far east in some wrecked buildings of sturdy make meandered a motorized Recon vehicle and another spotter.  Another spotter sat on a bridge to the center of their line next to some Heavy Machine Guns as well so there was no end to the artillery spotters and our Hauptman gave orders to eliminate them as quickly as we could to cover the advance and blind the enemy.


What was missing was conspicuous.  No allied tanks were there other than the priests, and that wasn’t right.  I scanned the south and southeast for any signs of them and saw none and radio traffic seemed to indicate the same confusion.  We were equipped and carrying some very heavy ammunition and weaponry to deal with such a threat which was yet more difficulty for us, to defend against a foe that seemed to be nothing but vapor.  Otto Skorzeny had painted a picture in his last transmission of heavy armored presence.  The Sherman Platoon, the Recon Jeeps he described, the M4 tanks and even the Tank Destroyers:  all missing.  How could he possibly be wrong about so much?  Had he been compromised?  Was the intelligence we were getting reliable?  Had Otto defected?  He was behind enemy lines now.  Surrendering would have been easy…  My Hauptman assured us of his loyalty of course but those of us privy to the information silently looked to one another thinking the same things.  For our sake, we hoped he was a patriot still.


The Hauptman gave the order after confirmed reports came in that the Allied planes were grounded and their pants were squarely about their ankles.  There would be no better time.  So we struck...

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Missive 2:  The Clouds Burst



Our Heavy Machine guns cut loose, dropping the artillery spotter for the PaK 43’s on the bridge.  The affront of those guns sitting in enemy hands was enough reason to kill him but of course the practical reason was us staying alive in those trucks.  Since they could barely determine his position, they just filled the bridge with overlapping fire to make certain it was done and his spinning body as he tried to run was the last we saw of him and the last he saw of this world.   I gave the order to slam it into gear as soon as I heard the chatter of the guns begin.  The 3 ton trucks were told to get a head of steam up before crashing into the open so that we would be at top speed by the time we cleared the eastern treeline and headed south west at the enemy.  I can tell you on that terrain, going full speed with a truck FILLED with men took a huge toll on the suspension but it was us or the trucks.  We chose us.


Predictably, the enemy turned its attention to the immediate threat and with no spotter to call us in, we smashed that pedal down to the floor and headed to ruined buildings, along with our SS Blue Platoon companions.  Unfortunately trying to coordinate our movements at that speed was essentially impossible and so we did our best.  We tried to stay in a loose formation in preparedness for artillery fire but when it was all said and done the terrain ruled our decisions.  The SS were clumped up far more than I liked and because of the narrow approach we were forced to take among the buildings to avoid the worst of the trees and sludgy patches, my wagon ended up right in amongst the SS between three buildings with my driver Heimler Dokkins, whose wife  was easily the best looking of any we saw pictures of.  He charged men three Marks to spend 10 minutes with her picture.  He did well for himself.  We had made it all the way to the outskirts unharmed and for this, the boldest part of our plan to go so well without losing anyone to the Heavy Machine guns that were lined up near the bridge and on it, was a blessing.  Everyone was very well hidden amongst the buildings…  Except the SS.  There just wasn’t quite enough room to hide us all perfectly and I cursed very very quietly, so as not to offend the Hauptman who was with me.  I dashed over to them and quickly gave orders for them to arrange themselves better but there was just no time.  One had to hope it wouldn’t cost us.  The radio crackled to life but as expected the transmission was badly broken up by the terrain and distances and frankly I was a little busy with my own problems as I could see the 2iD unit far forward behind the earthworks we were warned about.  To my  horror, it looked like one of them had a phone on his back, and he looked to be part of that unit of 60mm mortars…


Reports came fast and furious.  The Hauptman had given orders to “pop” their spotters as soon as possible and Otto had given us the general location of them.  The 88’s to the north reported firing down on a scout car team to the north but it disengaged and retreated behind the cover of a building there.  The SS Machinegunners moved north towards it but no enemy contact reported.  The Red Platoon reported moving through the woods westward, bisecting their lines and avoiding the enemy units in the northerly buildings thus far.  To the fore we could hear before we saw the arcing smoke trails and thunderous booms of the artillery going off and even from where we were we could feel those impacts.   A victorious voice came over the coms.  Apparently one of the Priests was caught in a blast and turned to slag along with its commander who had the misfortune to be holding binoculars where we could see them!  We had confirmed first blood against the enemy!


The Nebelwerfers and Heavy Mortars added to the symphony of chaos, raining down on the PaK 43’s and HMG’s, blowing huge marshy clods of dirt into the air and physically blinding them.  For a moment at least it was like the clouds had burst open above them and released not rain but torrents of dirt.  My heart was racing to hear all these things, but for all the noise, I knew that retribution would be swift in the coming.  Suddenly seeing the enemy in front of me, my goals crystalized and my soul was steel’d…

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