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My errant mind has been wandering off again, to the battle of Normandy 1944 and more particularly the Canadian Route of Liberation from Juno beach to Caen and the bitter fighting that the 1st Canadian Corps endured in that eventful summer and beyond. I have been long interested in the Canadian war effort and have done much study in this area. I also find that setting war gaming scenarios from the information that I have gleamed, makes for most interesting rumination.

My pursuit of a rule set to use with my 1/600 Oddzial Osmy WWII miniatures, has led me to purchasing a copy of Arty Conliffe’s CrossFire via eBay and I have had several games of it in the last couple of weeks. Coupled with this I was offered a short while ago by Quirkworthy, some old 6mm buildings which I accepted gratefully. They are slightly too big, being as they are twice the size (1/300), but look very well with my units of 3mm miniatures. I galvanised myself to cleaning them of mould lines and glueing them to card stock bases with promptness and set about painting and flocking them…

Norman village occupied by Canadian infantry and Company Commander

Just the other day a friend of mine came round to play a scenario that I have been devising, providing me with the perfect opportunity to get my new village on the board!..

Bény-sur-Mer, June 6th 1944

Bény-sur-Mer lies 4-5km inland from Juno beach in the rich countryside of Normandy astride, what was at the time, the main road to Caen. At 10:30am ‘A’ company of the Régiment de la Chaudière formed up with Sherman DD (Duplex-Drive) tanks from ‘A’ squadron of the 10th armoured regiment (Fort Garry Horse) and M7 ‘Priest’ self-propelled artillery pieces of the 14th field regiment, to make their way inland towards Bény. They had difficulty in moving forward through the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada due to accurate artillery fire from a hidden 88mm FLAK battery situated somewhere to the south of Bény, three ‘Priests’ were destroyed in less than a minute whilst they were preparing artillery positions. As the Chauds moved forward they came under crossfire from heavy machine guns hidden in the long grass, reconnaissance parties were sent to root them out and fire support brought down on the presumed gun positions. The infantry moved up the road under covering fire from an attached machine gun platoon of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa MG Battalion and along with the supporting ‘DD’s eventually managed to overrun the German positions.

From the Chauds regimental history:

A bit further, hidden in a hole, an 88 cannon was still firing on the village exit. Lieutenant W. Moisan attacked on his own initiative. As he advanced in front of his men, a bullet hit a smoke grenade he was carrying. The grenade’s phosphorus caught fire. His battle dress started burning but Lt. Moisan continued the attack. The enemy was annihilated. unfortunately, the phosphorus had burnt Lt. Moisan and he had to be evacuated. This act of heroism earned him the Military Cross.’

Crossfire Scenario

beny-sur-mer

Canadian Forces

Régiment de la Chaudière

‘A’ Company with:

  • Company Commander (CC+1)
  • 3″ Mortar and Forward Observer

3x Platoons each with:

  • Platoon Commander (PC+1)
  • 3x Rifle Sections

‘B’ Company with:

  • Company Commander (CC+1)
  • 3″ Mortar and Forward Observer

3x Platoons each with:

  • Platoon Commander (PC+1)
  • 3x Rifle Sections

Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa MG Battalion

  • 2x HMG Squads
  • 4.2″ Mortar with Forward Observer

10th Armoured (Fort Garry Horse)

‘A’ Squadron with:

  • 4x Sherman Tanks (DD)

14th Field Regiment CRA

  • Off Table M7 Priest Heavy Artillery (4 Fire Missions) with Forward Observer

Canadian Objective:

Take and hold all three buildings of Bény-sur-Mer for 3 consecutive Canadian turns (initiatives) Or find and destroy the 88mm Flak cannon and then take and hold two buildings for 3 consecutive turns.

Canadian Deployment:

The Canadian force must deploy second, within 12″ of the northern edge. The Canadian player takes first initiative.

German Forces

726th Infantry Regiment

1st Company with:

  • Company Commander (CC+2)
  • 81mm Mortar with Forward Observer
  • 120mm with Forward Observer
  • HMG
  • PAK 40 Anti-tank squad

3x Platoons each with:

  • Platoon Commander (PC+1)*
  • 3x Rifle Sections (with Panzerfausts)

*First platoons commander is (PC+2)

Attachments:

  • 2x Snipers
  • 88mm Flak battery
  • Off table 150mm Heavy Artillery (4 Fire Missions) Forward Observer

German Objective:

Hold up the Canadian advance to contain the Allied bridgehead. Prevent the Canadian player from achieving their objective.

German Deployment:

The German force is deployed first using Crossfire hidden deployment rules, recording which squads will be deployed in or touching any of the marked terrain pieces. The 88mm Flak is also deployed using hidden deployment but must also have a line of sight to the southern two buildings of Bény-sur-Mer, which must cross the blue edge, from its chosen position (See Map)

The Outcome

Graham took charge of the German forces and I the Canadians. We only had 4 hours to play the game and decided that if I was unable to reach my objectives by then, the Germans would have won. After deployment I used a pre-programmed barrage with my heavy artillery, using my 4 fire missions to attack hidden deployment markers and must have guessed well as after the dust had settled I had managed to kill two units (though I didn’t even know at the time what or where as I had attacked several different pieces of terrain) I then took the first initiative. Thus ensued a hard fight for my Canadians, taking excessively high casualties and only managing to get a toe hold within the village by taking the most northern building. The 88mm was well sighted and only revealed after Graham decided to fire upon a Forward Observer which had stayed too far forward, despatching it with contemptuous ease. It was a cause of consternation all game and forced me to caution, too much caution as it turned out and I was unable to clear the village before our time was up.

It was a very enjoyable game and an interesting challenge for both Graham and myself. I can only have more respect for the brave men who had to do the job for real!!

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