Able Company 91st Recon Squadron vs Gebirsjaeger Kompanie
Allies: 5 | Colonelsam
Axis: 2 | Jeeves
Able Troop, 91st Reconnaissance Squadron was ordered to attack a dug-in German Gerbirgsjaeger Kompanie reported holding a key bend in the river. The Squadron commander detailed a platoon of Stuarts and dedicated two batteries of artillery to support the attack. Surveying the battlefield, the Troop Commander was grim. A large platoon of mountain troops was dug in in a town surrounded on three sides by the river, and their position was amply bolstered by four minefields, four wire fences and four machine-gun nests. A battery of Nebelwerfers could be seen in the woods far behind them, and though they were out of sight a platoon of four StuG's was said to be near.
The Troop Commander got a gleam in his eyes. The Germans had made a mistake...a seemingly impassable knoll was on their right flank. From there, he could command the entire valley and force the Germans to retreat. If he could get to the top of that knoll first, they'd have no choice...and fortunately, his boys were mountaineers...but then, so were the Germans. The battle was going to be a race and the Germans would have a head start, with the peak well in their zone, and the possibility the StuG's were laying a trap.
The Captain barked his orders. One of his platoons grabbed some bazookas and climbing rope and mounted up on the Stuarts. The others dismounted every Ma Deuce they had and lugged them to the jump-off point. As soon as the Artillery was ready, the Stuarts made a mad dash forward to a copse of trees, dumped off their passengers, and wheeled through the trees to lay down suppressive fire at any German who tried to cross the river to the "impassable" knoll. The passengers ran to the base and pulled out their climbing gear while the 2nd platoon rushed to the right flank of the tanks. Overhead and ahead of them, an AOP flew over, looking in vain for the StuG platoon that everyone feared would be at the base of the knoll.
The German response was swift and totally unexpected. The StuG's appeared at the opposite end of the valley where the Troop Commander hadn't committed any forces...and on OUR side of the mine fields. They barreled across the valley floor almost as fast as the Stuarts had gone and were suddenly knocking on the door step of the 155 battery who were stunned by their appearance. The StuG's quickly killed the Battery Commander and one of the guns before consolidating in a wheat field, ready to finish the job. Meanwhile, Nebelwerfer fire came down smashing into the infantry massed at the mountain's base and throwing the entire assault into confusion. A squad or two of German infantry, seeing the danger, splashed across the river towards the knoll, using the massif to shield them from enemy fire.
The American reaction was equally swift and if anything deadlier. The AOP was ordered back to find the StuG's and ordered a full barrage of two batteries to concentrate on the target. Two of the killer tanks burst into flame, to the astonishment of the Germans and the Americans. At the knoll, the Troop Commander realized that the Nebelwerfer had thwarted a quick grab of the knoll, and they were in danger of losing the race. He gritted his teeth and ordered his Stuart platoon to round the base of the knoll and engage the enemy infantry in the open. The tank platoon protested the only way he could was by driving straight through a minefield. "GO!" he ordered again, and this time the platoon leader did, with disastrous effect. Two Stuarts exploded in the minefield, but the platoon leader and his wingman made it through, flanked the knoll, and cut down the Germans until the river ran red.
The German commander perhaps sensed he'd made a mistake, but there was no stopping it now. He urged his troops to the knoll, and laid down more artillery on the Stuarts, hoping to drive them off. One bailed out, and for a while all were treated to the glorious spectacle of a single Stuart pumping rounds at the hapless German infantry. But on the other side, disaster was hammered home for the German as his two remaining StuG's rushed the 155 battery. The guns knocked out one as they came, and then the brave redlegs, refusing to yield, managed to compel the last StuG to surrender. In very short order, the German counter-stroke was done.
The battle wasn't over, but it turned into an artillery and machine gun duel with three Ma Deuces chattering away at two machine gun nests and another HMG in a house, while 1st platoon slowly, agonizingly, worked their way up the mountain winning the race to the top. The carnage of the German platoon was astonishing, and no one could say why they hadn't broken, but they clung to the base of the knoll like a tick. Reinforcements came, a platoon of pioneers, but as they crossed the plain to the knoll the deadly AOP-directed artillery fire cut them down like grass. A second infantry platoon also made the run, but they suffered the same fate. Finally, less than twenty Germans from two platoons tried a forlorn rush up the knoll, a desperate move, but they knew the longer they waited, the more deadly American artillery would fall. It was a brave rush, but even the emaciated 1st platoon was still able to repel them without loss. At that point, the German Commander ordered a general retreat.
The Butcher's Bill for the Americans was horrible. Two cavalry platoons decimated, and the Stuart platoon knocked off the board. We also lost a howitzer and some good men with them...but the German lost a lot more, with a whole platoon of StuGs and three platoons of infantry and pioneers gone with them.
As the men of Able sat down to smoke their Camels, they felt good that they'd taken their objective...but they knew it was mostly luck. The StuG's, had it not been for some damn fine artillery fire, would have swept up both the artillery batteries, then been behind the committed Cavalry Troop. Able Troop had come within a whisker of being marched off to a POW camp, or being buried in the hot plains of Italy.