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Jupiter Beach, 1944


The Second World War, Bolt Action, 28mm

This Thursday there wasn’t anything I fancied playing at the club, so I popped round to Hugh Wilson’s place instead. Every second Thursday Hugh lays on a game, and this week it was Normandy. I don’t go to Hugh’s games every time – that would be disloyal to the club – but it makes a nice occasional change, particularly as his wife feeds us, and puts up with a geeky invasion for the evening. The other good thing about Hugh’s place is he has a massively long table – about 5 feet by 12 or 14 feet. The result was a very impressive looking game. Hugh even shipped sand in from the garden to make the beach. His wife is very understanding – she’d need to be! So, this was a skirmish game, fought over a particularly big table, which of course meant we were fighting three games – one for the beaches, the other for the village of St. Felix-sur-Mer, and the third for the road leading inland, towards the high ground on the far end of the table. Up on this ridge there was another objective – a German strongpoint which housed a battery of heavy guns. To protect the landing site that strongpoint had to be taken – a job given to the Polish paratroops (run by Bart Zynda the Polish wargamer). The job of cutting the road was given to the RM Commandos, commanded by Ray Neill . Finally Bill Gilchrist and I took charge of the British troops hitting the beach. The Germans (played by Campbell Hardie, Donald Adamson, Hugh Wilson and Tim Watson) were obviously out to stop us. Their first line of defence consisted of three beach strongpoints – one housing a PAK 40, the others HMGs. two squads of German infantry also lined the edge of the beach. Beyond that more GErmans lurked in a farm near the village, and up on the far ridge.The  game began badly for us, and for most of the evening it didn’t get much better. The naval bombardment achieved almost nothing. Apparently 15-inch shells aren’t very effective in Bolt Action. Still, they cut a foot of wire in front of the central strongpoint covering the beach, so that helped a bit. Our first wave – three squads – ran up the beach as far as a line of “dragon’s teeth” – and then were mown down by German machine guns. Well, about half of our troops were. Our tanks didn’t fare much better, as they needed a “6” to hit a strongpoint, followed by another “6”. That was when we came up with the excellent plan of screening the anti tank gun emplacement with smoke. Unfortunately it took time to get the mortar zeroed in, and when we did the smoke kept drifting away, then drifting back again. During all that smoke blowing we lost our first tank – a Sherman DD. It had reversed back as far as the sea, and seemed very reluctant to move any closer. It was eventually knocked out, leaving us with just one tank.Colin Jack who was acting as the umpire must have felt sorry for us, as he gave us another to play with. It was a Centaur, with a useful bunker-busting gun. It scored a palpable hit on the Germans behind the sea wall, but the next turn the smoke drifted again and the German Pak crew scored another hit. Still, the German infantry were whittled down a lot, and pinned by fire. Our surviving troops seized the opportunity to run to the edge of the beach, where a slope protected them from enemy fire. Still, they weren’t going to go any further unless we could overpower the German defences.The chance eventually came thanks to our second wave troops. Like the ones before them they were badly cut up crossing the beach, but a whole squad eventually charged and routed the Germans defending the sea wall in front of the anti-tank bunker. They raced on into the dunes, where they were promptly hit by an absolutely devastating German artillery “stonk”. The squad was wiped out, leaving us wondering just how we’d ever make it to dry land. That was where “Milly” came in. She was our last remaining tank. Timing it to perfection she sprinted past the anti-tank gun bunker when the smoke had blown back, machine gunning the last of the German defenders as it did so. She crossed the dunes, and stopped in front of a little wood and cornfield. there she calmly wiped out a pesky German mortar team, and waited for the infantry to catch up. Thanks to her, that job would now be a little easier. When the game ended “Milly” represented the high water mark of the beach assault.The chance eventually came thanks to our second wave troops. Like the ones before them they were badly cut up crossing the beach, but a whole squad eventually charged and routed the Germans defending the sea wall in front of the anti-tank bunker. They raced on into the dunes, where they were promptly hit by an absolutely devastating German artillery “stonk”. The squad was wiped out, leaving us wondering just how we’d ever make it to dry land. That was where “Milly” came in. She was our last remaining tank. Timing it to perfection she sprinted past the anti-tank gun bunker when the smoke had blown back, machine gunning the last of the German defenders as it did so. She crossed the dunes, and stopped in front of a little wood and cornfield. there she calmly wiped out a pesky German mortar team, and waited for the infantry to catch up. Thanks to her, that job would now be a little easier. When the game ended “Milly” represented the high water mark of the beach assault.

Our real trouble were the three German strongpoints. We didn’t have anything that could deal with them – in Bolt Action they seem to be pretty invulnerable. Not even “Milly”could demolish them, and she was the most powerful weapon we had! Then Bill remembered we had engineers in the second wave, and they were moved forward, braving the heavy fire to reach the little slope at the end of the beach. In fact Bill sacrificed a Vickers MMG team, sending it running forward to draw the Germans’ fire, then moving the sappers. It was gamey, but it worked. After all, we needed all the help we could get. That’s where the game ended – and it’ll be resumed where we left off. Apparently we have more troops coming ashore, and with luck they’ll include more tanks, armed with bunker-busting guns.While all this was going on the Polish paratroopers had established themselves in the village, but were unable to attack the artillery strongpoint thanks to the sudden appearance of German reinforcements. The Germans even had a Stug III, which bravely tried to close assault the paratroopers in a garden, only to be taken out by sticky bombs as it reared over a hedge. With luck when the game continued more paratroopers will arrive, and the Poles will have a chance to advance on their objective. Over on the other long edge of the table the Commandos appeared on the far side of the long road, and got into a firefight with Germans defending the farmhouse on the seaward side of the village. They were still there when we halted the game, but at least they’d established themselves ashore, and could now think about pushing on down the road. That’s where the game ended for the evening. It’ll be resumed in a fortnight – in the meantime it remains set up in Hugh’s dining room. I told you his wife was very tolerant. So, its still all to play for. Watch this space!

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