Monday, 1 September 2014

"A Walk in the Sun"

Friedman: You ever think you'll live to make corporal?
Rivera: Baby, I just want to live long enough to make civilian.

That a line from the 1945 movie A Walk in the Sun, which starred Dana Andrews, Lloyd Bridges, Sterling Holloway, and even Huntz Hall. It's the fictional story of an American platoon's time during and after the Selerno landing in Italy. I don't think the Italian campaign gets a lot of table play, France and the Eastern Front getting the most emphasis. I thought I'd do my bit to remedy that situation at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group last Saturday. I wanted to try an infantry-heavy game set in the more mountainous terrain of Central Italy. As I said to the guys: "Gustav Line, here we come!" The game was played with Iron Ivan's Disposable Heroes WWII skirmish rules. (All photos are courtesy of my wife, Beth, who reallyis a great photographer.)
We set up a rather choked board and ran it long ways rather than wide. Beth and I ran the Germans with an infantry platoon with support from a mortar, an HMG, two AT guns (37mm and 75mm), and a Hetzer tank destroyer. Andy fielded his freshly painted platoon of British with a mortar, a Vickers gun, and a Sherman (75mm) and M3 halftrack in support. Martin fielded a Sikh cavalry platoon in Universal carriers (one with a flame thrower), an AEC armoured car, and an M10 "Wolverine" tank destroyer.

The playing field from the German side.
Derek gestures mystically... not unlike Mandrake the Magician.

The "Vineyard" with some of the many Universal carriers

The monastery of Sts. Jerome and Augustine (let me know if you get the joke.)
The strong point of the Wehrmacht defence and the objective of the Commonwealth advance.
Beth and I threw our defence out past the halfway point of the board, digging in infantry sections in the forests and behind some ruins. Martin advanced quickly up to the bog which his recon said was a pond. (He could've crossed it at a slow rate, but since it was a pond to him he had to go around it, one carrier at a time. Andy advanced his large platoon behind the cover of the large hill in the centre and the surrounding forests. Mortars on both sides threw smoke, the German crew using the radio operator from the infantry command section to zero in their shots - but that didn't matter. For the bulk of the game, Beth and Martin fired at each other and the brave Sikhs took it on the chin, eventually loosing almost half their force. I was able to join in with some flanking shots but since everything was almost always in cover with intervening linear obstacles, firing was keep to needing 1s or 2s to hit on a d10. Sadly, Martin couldn't roll to save his life. His troops constantly failed morale and couldn't hit anything. Beth, on the other hand, was holding firm and hitting everything. Andy put it best: "It's hard to fight against three people."

A rifle section under my command moves up the rather rough hill.

Smoke and more smoke in front of the carriers as Beth's last Panzerfaust trooper takes aim. He missed.

Martin's advance with the AEC car and the Wolverine in support.

The Sikhs take refuge at the ruined wall. Each squad has different coloured turbans so we can tell the difference.
I generally use models in soft caps for my NCO's so I can tell the difference.

Our very busy 75mm PaK gun. The green bingo chip denotes that it has been activated this turn.
I attempted to set an ambush for Andy's halftrack that was making an end-around, but his lead section took out my Panzerfaust man. As his troops came up over the crest of the large hill, I fell back to what I felt was a more defensible position with more troops and a light machine gun. I can't say it helped. 

Eventually the Wasp FT carrier advance to hose down some of the defenders on the ruined wall to some effect.

... but not for long. The 75mm AT gun saw to that.

The Wolverine found the range on my Hetzer and made a large calibre donation to the scrap fund.

Too bad. Hetzer, we hardly knew ye. It really didn't do much during the game. It may have been placed wrongly.
The assembled crowd demanded I place a lot of oily smoke on the wreck.

Andy's Tommies crest the hill and begin their down-slope advance.

The small 37mm PaK gun was little more than a noise maker.

Andy's freshly painted Tommies were immune to the "new unit" curse. He lost all of four figures in the game.

The M10 Wolverine was a great addition to Martin's force. Quite a nice looking model.

And it looked better to Beth and I this way! The 75 PaK took it out after it relieved me of responsibility for my Hetzer.
More oily smoke in use.
The Wasp carrier did some damage to Beth's forward defenders but it paid the price. The M10 made short work of the Hetzer before it could do any real damage. (The gunners could never sight anything anyway.) The 75 then took out the M10. Andy's troops were advancing nicely but would've had to dig my squads out of the woods with no armour support. We looked things over. Martin had taken almost 50% casualties. Both Beth and I found ourselves badly bloodied, but still in possession of the monastery compound. We decided that the brigade's command would have broken off the assault at this point in order to maintain force-in-being. The German line would require reinforcement, but he AT guns were still in good shape and no Allied troops had crossed the stream. The British/Commonwealth force pulled back to return at a later date... probably with Polish mountain troops. 

British troops playing "King of the Hill."

The farthest point of Martin's advance. He DID have a load of carriers!

The farthest point of Andy's advance. He had momentum but the woods would have been trouble.

Same thing from my view.

Andy's medical detachment, which was well worth a photo in itself.
On the next table, Wayne and Kevin were playing a WWI game using Iron Ivan's WWI rules. It was the Canadian-German battle of 2nd Ypres, with trenches and gas. It looked rather interesting. Wayne always puts on sharp looking games.

The battlefield. You can feel the mud. The sickly green stuff represents gas either in clouds or lingering in shell holes.

Canadians in trenches. The figures were 1/72nd scale plastics, mostly by Revell... I think.

Very business like, if you ask me.

Either awaiting the signal to go "Over the top" or awaiting the coming attack.
The Canadian advance trades shots with the Germans.

A view from the other side.
There was a third table playing a type of Star Fleet battle game with commercially made miniatures and large planet cut-outs. I really didn't get a change to look at that table at all, except for a long distance view.
All in all a fun game. It was interesting to get away from flat and expansive terrain. Had we played on a wider table, the British would have been able to deploy better and there would have been no way the Germans could have covered the whole table. As it was, the table was a mite claustrophobic. But that is what I was hoping for.
Next week, one of the last War of 1812 reenactments in this area - Backus Mills. After that, the games groups - or at least some of us - have agreed to do Black Powder for a Seven Years War game. I've been painting like a fiend while on holiday, so there will be new troops to add.

"If I destroy more of my own troops, will you be happy then?"


  1. Very nice pictures and an interesting battle narrative.

  2. I found the rule I was looking for, pg 7 under the section for Reinforced cover: Models firing at Reinforced cover do so at -5 to their ACC characteristic. If this takes the models ACC to zero or below,then the player must roll a 1, followed by a further roll at his normal ACC to score a hit.
    this for firing at reinforced cover but could be used anytime to shoot with ACC at zero or below.

    1. Good to know. I should highlight some of these things.

  3. Some lively troops on display. The Sikhs are interesting, and Andy's British look very fine - 28mm? The Pak 75 crew also very nice - sounds like they deserved Iron Crosses all around.

    1. Thanks, Padre. Yes, we were all in 28mm. Martin's Sikhs, for as much as we kid him, are a great addition with colour and variation from the usual Brody helmets. I had fun painting the PaK crew. If I get the time and insanity, I'll paint the medals on them.
      Maybe not.