Tuesday 24 April 2012

CWC - Crisis Point 2012 #2

This is the second posting describing the battle of Venlo which was part of a 6mm Cold War Commander 2-day mega-game. The game was organised by Richard Crawley and was based on General John Hackett's book The Third World War.

The central part of the Nato line was held by an Anglo-Belgian force of some 7000 points. The force comprised elements of the Belgian 10th Reserve Mechanised Brigade commanded by Colonel Poirot and the 13th/18th Royal Hussars Battlegroup lead by a very junior officer, a Captain "George" Hastings.
After studying the terrain the Anglo-Belgian forces took up advanced positions in  order to delay the advancing Soviets from the word go. Due to the length of the tables they were split into two halves, Nato and Soviet. Each area had it's own air superiority therefore Nato might have air superiority in the Soviet half but the Nato half may be contested. There were a set of house rules governing air superiority.

On the right Captain Hastings, seen in the right-hand picture sitting down admiring his tanks, deployed his Challenger 1s as far forward as he could hoping to take up a defensive position in the wood in front of the tanks. His infantry were dug-in along the road in the centre of the table.

The Belgians extended the line to the left with an infantry company and half the tank battalion in the fields by the road junction. Another company sat ready to advance into the woods in front of Kleve, a local administrative centre judging by the paperwork.

The final Belgian infantry company provided support to the rear of the centre with the remaining half-battalion of tanks held in a wood on the left flank.

Due to the size of the tables and the fact that there were rear areas the mechanism for off-table artillery was that off-table artillery placed in the rear area could only target units in the nearest half of the 3 main tables. In order to target enemy units on the far half of the main table then the artillery had to be deployed on the table itself.

Therefore as the Anglo-Belgian force had deployed so far forward the off-board artillery was placed in Venlo in order to hit the Soviets as they came onto the table. The playing card in the picture represent the number of aircraft  allocated to air superiority for the Nato half of the table.

On the British sector the Soviets pushed forward with tanks and APCs under the command of  newly promoted Comrade Pete Buriak. The Challengers failed to occupy the woods before the Soviets reached  it.
It was at this point that we realised how good the Challengers were. The left photo shows 6 Soviet tanks coming through the wood  with 4 flanking it. The right photo shows the 4 flanking tanks in position but the 6 that advanced through the wood were all destroyed by the British tanks. Admittedly we had read the Soviet tank stats incorrectly so they probably died a lot quicker than usual. Soviet APCs advanced to fill in the gap left by the tanks.

In the Belgian sector an artillery strike by 105mm and 155mm took out several Soviet APCs as the latter advanced through Kleeve under the experienced eye of Commissar Chris Justice. A Belgian infantry company occupied the wood just west of the town but met a similar fate from Soviet artillery and air strikes.

Whilst the Anglo-Belgian line held just, terrible news was received from the British, Dutch and Germans defending the A73 across the Maas. All Nato forces were in full retreat having either being broken or were on the verge of being broken. The central sector was  suddenly looking grim as the victorious Soviets could swing across the Venlo bridge into our rear in overwhelming numbers. Orders were given to the Anglo-Belgian force to mount up and retire.

Leaving small rear-guards, such as the Leopards in the fields, to hold the Soviets advancing on a broad front from Kleeve, the allies retreated towards Venlo hoping to arrive before the Soviets crossed the bridge.

In the meantime Nato high command had managed to push the Belgian 3rd Paratroop Battalion into Venlo to hold it. As the Paras dug-in along the eastern bank of the Maas diesel engines could be heard revving across the river. A Soviet SPG artillery barrage heralded the bridge assault by destroying the Paras' HQ

Despite a desperate fight the Paras were overrun by the Soviet tank column spewing across the Maas. Comrade Andy Hamilton showed no mercy as even the Belgian 105mm guns and the lone Gepard AA were thrown into the defense of Venlo. Even repeated Nato air-attacks on the bridge were to no avail. Venlo had fallen.

 North of Venlo the Anglo-Belgian forces suffered another blow as the British infantry and Challengers disintegrated under accurate Soviet tank and ATGW fire and started a full retreat.

Trapped between the Soviet forces at Kleeve and Venlo the Belgians deployed around Geldern and entered into cease-fire negotiations with the new rulers of  western Europe. In CWC terms the Belgians had to lose another 3 units before breaking which given the amount of Soviet firepower available would have only been a turn away.

Game over. The Soviets were victorious on not only the left and central tables but also on the Nato rear table as half the troops from the attack west of the Maas continued south along the A73. On the right flank the US forces still held Duisburg.

With hindsight I would have deploy the Belgian and British infantry on both sides of  the Maas at Venlo to hold the town and support the Nato troops on the left flank and just used the Challengers and Leopards to hold the Soviet advance from Kleeve. Also with hindsight I should have played CWC more than once before coming along to the event.

Well what a cracking game that was and combined with the pies and beer to be had at our B&B, the Royal Hotel, and the excellent company it all added up to a most enjoyable weekend.

My thanks to Richard for organising it, to Stuart for umpiring and to everyone for playing especially George. He is only 12 and deserves a medal for being up for it for 2 days - undoubtedly a wargamer in the making.

I look forward to Arctic Strike in 2013

There are a few more photos here

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