Able Troop, 91st Cavalry vs Schwere-Panzer-Abteilung 508
Allies: 5 | Colonelsam
Axis: 2 | Jeeves
After a hard won battle the previous week, Able Troop, 91st Cav was looking forward the the cream-puff assignment the squadron commander said was in the works. Simple...just seize the junction and the railroad station. Lightly defended. No problem. Milk run.
So the troop's dismounts worked their way to the jump-off point, with a battery of 155s in support. The "flying column" of a platoon of Stuarts supported by the near-worthless M6 Tank Destroyers (yeah, those suckers...what are we still doing with them in 1944??) and a battery of 105s were ordered to loop around the long way and take the place from behind. Easy as pie, since according to the S2 the railroad depot was held at most by a platoon of infantry. The plan was perfection in planning. The two platoons would work along the railroad embankment using it as cover, bring down fire on that platoon and then assault over. Easy as pie.
Sergeant Baker came running back to the Troop Commander. "Captain," he said breathlessly. "We got a problem. Tigers!"
Before he could explain more, they all heard the rumbling. Tanks...and not just small ones....BIG ones. "Dig in!" the Captain yelled. "Dig in!" the men scrambled for their entrenching tools and started digging furiously. "But what about the depot?" asked on of his Lieutenants. "We'll let the tank destroyers take it," the Captain responded angrily. "We got our own problems."
Sure enough in short order, several Tigers appeared at the railroad embankment. Several men reported their were at least 8 or 9, although more sober heads reported 3. They sprayed the woods where 1st platoon was digging in, then rumbled forward and slammed into the platoon causing great mayhem and loss of life. 1st platoon fell back in confusion and disorder. The battle seemed momentarily lost, but 1st platoon rallied and tried to take the fight to the Tigers, but the thought of taking on the now 12 or 13 Tigers that faced them frightened the men so much they couldn't launch their assault, much to the anger of their officers. Fortunately, the Captain ordered 2nd platoon to move up to prevent disaster.
The Tigers decided to push into the Cavalrymen and that proved a fatal mistake. With 2nd platoon on that scene, the Tigers had to endure 6 bazooka shots, and that proved too much even for the Tigers. The Hauptman was blown up, and another Tiger was captured as the 2IC's Tiger, suddenly realizing they'd bitten off more than they could chew, fell back. What happened to the other 10 Tigers reported as being there remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, more German reinforcements arrived as Stugs and another Tiger (possibly 7 or 8 more, reports vary) roared down the flank and started methodically chewing up the 155 battery. 2nd platoon was ordered back, while a crippled 1st platoon held their position, eying the lone Tiger between them and the railroad junction.
As the fight for the 155 Battery raged, the Stuarts finally arrived and rushed to the railroad depot, pumping hot 37mm rounds into the building to little effect. They were followed by the 105 battery which rather foolishly unlimbered in a wheat field...and was promptly strafed by a couple of Stukas, losing two guns int he process. Finally, the Tank Destroyers showed up and joined their fire against the infantry platoon.
It was truly a dust up at this point with both sides remarkably close to their respective objectives, but neither able to get a decisive position. The Germans and the Americans both realized they'd have to gamble and assault the woods with their respective tank platoons. The Germans went first, routing the 155 battery but running into the newly-arrived 2nd platoon which again proved their mettle by stopping the StuGs and taking out another Tiger.
But the railroad junction still needed to be taken. The infantry platoon, softened up by the Tank Destroyers, got four Stuarts down their throat. One bogged out, but the remaining Stuarts cleaned out the woods and did so much mayhem that the platoon decided they'd had enough and went packing.
With an irony that didn't go unnoticed, the "Worthless" M6 Tank Destroyers not only did significant damage to the enemy infantry but actually gets credit for seizing the objective. For that reason, we recommend these excellent weapon systems be issued immediately to all infantry companies.
Onward to Rome!