Saturday 22 July 2023

Operation Huskey ~ Pseudo-Francofonte 1943

Today at the club it was O Group. I played a game last week and got a taste for a bit of WWII action so we had another game today. Last week it was Normandy but today was Sicily - Op Huskey: The Seaforth Highlanders against the Herman Goering Div in game loosely based on the 5th Seaforth's attack on Francofonte. I normally post my WWII stuff on a separate blog but I thought it's a bit pointless doing that and better to keep stuff together . So I decided to post this here instead.

In reality the defenders were fallschirmjäger but I never did get around to finishing my battalion so I had to compromise. For this game the HG Div were a worn battalion with Confident status. The Seaforth's were regular. I basically took some general elements from the battle and the battlefield to make up this scenario. Today: I played the Germans and Michael played the brave Highlanders.The Seaforth's start-line is the wadi. Vehicles can only cross via the bridge. The German defence runs from the vineyard to the cemetery near the centre. The objective is to clear the buildings representing the outskirts of the town.
German patrols press out from their defensive lines right from the outset in order to deny ground and force the Scots to deploy their platoons out in the open. There is a lot of scrub on the table so the whole area is considered Obscuring Terrain.
The Scotsmen made a bold advance very early on, taking a small hillock near the centre. This prompted the Germans to reveal one of their units in Ambush: a quad 20mm auto-cannon hidden amongst the grape vines. The Scottish platoon took some withering fire followed by shooting from an infantry platoon. As a result they lost a section and withdrew back behind the hillock.
From the wadi the Scots observe the walled vineyard on the steep slope above.
A platoon of Grant tanks advance over the bridge only to be met with an artillery stonk for the German FOO located on the slope above. Michael chose a section of Grants as opposed to Churchills' and this would prove to be a mistake in my opinion. (As it is: I don't have a great deal of armour for the Med at this stage and we were told that Grants were pulled out of the line prior to Op Huskey.)
The advance of the British armour brought out a big predator. This is the first time I've used a Tiger in O Group. I used it because it fitted in with the scenario. It proved to live up to it's deadly reputation.
The big cat rolled on and immediately took aim at the British armour. One shot and it smashed the lead elements on the bridge. That was completely unexpected. Because of the elevation the big tank had a range of 50" (my stuff is all 20mm) and long range shooting, for some reason, doesn't suffer any any effect in O Group. Unless I'm unaware of it and we've missed something.
The British had a troop of 17pdr Pheasant guns which Michael deployed after the Tiger made it's entrance. He tried to push them over the bridge to bring them into range because the other side of the wadi was just outside of range for the Tiger's current position.
Over near the cemetery a carrier platoon deployed and took me totally by surprise. They have some impressive firepower and they're armoured which makes them difficult for infantry to deal with them. I was unsure about the anti-tank capabilities of the German infantry in Sicily so I went with the anti-tank rifle option and the infantry section in front of the carriers did manage to cause some shock on the troop.
Back at the vineyard, which was starting to become a bit of a fortress as units were slowly deployed, the 1st Company command mounted in a SdKfx 250/8 (short barrel 75mm gun) opened fire on the 17pdr troop knocking out one of the vehicles and causing the crew to bail out. The gun was saved and deployed near the bridge. Soon a long duel between the Tiger and 17pdr would begin.
The other gun crossed the bridge but caught the eye of the commander in the Tiger who ordered HE onto the target disabling both the vehicle and the gun. The attack by the Seaforth's was beginning to run into problems.
Festung Weinberg! The vineyard now truly became a fortress with the deployment of a second platoon with an MG42 MMG in support. The MMG and quad 20mm really dominated the centre and could bring concentrated fire to bear on anything that attempted to move in the valley. As a result they attracted artillery and mortar fire which they withstood without the need to move out of the beaten zone. However, the company commander in the halftrack was almost destroyed and was forced to pull back.
The Duel - Every turn I ordered the Tiger to shell the deployed 17pdr with HE, and every time I did that, Michael would reply with anti tank fire. I'd cause some shock and the gunners would rally. Then the same would play out with the gun shooting anti-tank and the Tiger shooting HE. The 17pdr must have taken at least a dozen shots and they just kept on missing. They would fire twice each turn they would miss twice each turn.
The Tiger was in a very dominant position but it was also very vulnerable. It was sheer luck that it held out against the 17pdr. The guns on the Grant had zero effect on the big cat but they did contribute to the shelling of the vineyard. I decided that I'd have to do something about that.
My second little fortress took shape in the grave yard but their position was much more exposed. They would be stonked by mortars several times and eventually be targeted by artillery. 
Several time the Seaforth's attempted charge over the hillock to storm the cemetery but mortar fire and the quad 20mm stopped them. However, look at the photo below... That platoon in front of the bridge would change everything for the doughty Scotsmen.
Expecting the assault on the grave yard to intensify I pre-emptively sent in the cavalry to save the day!
As Festung Weinberg (vineyard fortress) came under more intensive fire I sent the Tiger forward to deal with some of the problem: the Grant tank. The Tiger rolled forward, took aim, hit their target and there was no more Grant. I was thinking that by doing this I was tempting fate and that the 17pdr would now find it's range... No way. It just kept on missing.
The platoon near the bridge moved  boldly forward and got into range to assault the graveyard. The Germans had been heavily shelled and come under small arms fire and the forward platoon was suppressed and had taken casualties, so they were quite vulnerable. The sweeping advance by the Scots was an unexpected move.
By the time the assault hit home the entire platoon was destroyed and only the MMG remained. Needless to say they were unable to withstand the assault and were wiped out.
The battle for the graveyard was pretty intense. The remaining Germans had to re-order their facing under fire (which they did with with luck on their side). Using a Company Order they then made a counter-assault on the Scots, throwing them back and causing the remainder to retreat.
And just when it seemed that the 17pdr was doomed to failure they scored a direct hit. Unfortunately for the Scots, the Tiger's frontal armour was enough to save it but it did cause two shock on the big beast which kept it subdued for the remainder of the game.
As the light was fading the Scots put in a final effort to capture the cemetery. The carrier platoon, now dismounted thanks to effective anti-armour fire from the HG infantry, surged forward and assaulted the suppressed defenders, outing them for good. The little Sdkfz 222 helped to supress the carrier platoon initially for a turn or two but artillery fire forced it to pull back along with the platoon it was supporting. So the cavalry didn't have much effect in the end.
During all of the action around the cemetery the HG Div had gone from one infantry base KIA to 7 bases KIA. The Seaforth' were in better shape but the loss of the Grants and one of the 17pdrs increased their casualties. I was very close to a second FUBAR. A successful hit on the Tiger might have done this... But the 17pdr missed again!
So, as the fighting ceased the 5th Seaforth's were in possession of the graveyard and would be able begin reinforcing it. This gave them control of the valley but the HG Div was still firmly entrenched on the heights. Looking at it like this it seems the battle was a draw, but when you look from the point of view that the HG Div started as a worn battalion and had lost about 40% of it's effectiveness they were in no position to hang around. There was no way they could take back the cemetery. All they could do was keep a weight of fire on any units defending it. An attack from the wadi, which I expected but never eventuated, would have put a lot more pressure on the German position. But saying that: Festung Weinberg would have been a tough nut to crack.


It was another really enjoyable game of O Group. I've recently been thinking over the past couple of weeks about selling off some of my O Group WWII kit or, at least, rebasing for smaller games. However, the games over the past couple of club meetings make me think that I should keep it as is. Although I feel I do need to add a bit more Allied kit to my collection. 

And finish off my fallschirmjägers!


  1. Thanks, really enjoyable. I played a first game of Rapid Fire Reloaded a couple of days ago (on a 6x4) and have found a renewed love for my 20mm. I did some re-basing and am content that in their present form they could also be used with the ‘O’ Group rules. I have even started gluing up a couple more kits!

    1. Thanks Norm. I read you post about RFR and left a comment. I wonder if my basing with 3 figures for a section would work got RFR. My heavy weapons all tend to have 2 figures so I'm not sure they would work. Although I could always just bung in a single figure to make them up to three.

  2. Hi Ian, I think it would work fine, you would just need to mentally proxy all units, so mentally treat each inf base as a 2 figure base and each support weapon as a e figure base.

    Yesterday, I gave the scenario a go in 12mm and they are based 6 figs to a 40mm frontage, so I just imaged each one to be lost after absorbing two hits regardless as to how many figures were on the base. In truth they would have been a better fit for the 10mm buildings etc if they had been on 30mm bases, but hey-ho :-)

    1. P.S. I of course would have the opposite problem of taking my two fig bases to ‘O’ Group, so would just have to treat a twi fig base as though it was a 3 fig base. It won’t look as meaty ….. but thems the breaks.

    2. I get it. Treat the units as a base with two "strength points" for want of a better phrase. I'll have to look into it.