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Battle of Normandy Campaign – Part 1

Scenario 1 – Securing the Flank

My good friend Danny and I have just embarked upon a grand Memoir ’44 campaign at our gaming club The Boardgamers. After setting up the gameboard we randomly determined sides resulting in Danny leading the Allied forces and myself to taking command of the Germans.

We’re endeavouring to take turns doing a session report for each battle along the way. I’ll provide links to later battles at the bottom of the report as they occur.

A note on directions: The English forces were attacking from the north but start from the “bottom” of the scenario. I’m going to try refer to flanks by their cardinal directions to avoid the whole left vs right flank confusion. So the left hand side of the scenario map is the Eastern flank while the right hand side is the western. Hope that makes sense…

Pre-Game Events
Danny chose to call up one of his reserve units and placed an artillery unit in the centre of his forces. I chose not to use my single unit of reserves this early in the campaign.

Securing the Flank – The Battle for Fontenay le Pesnel and Raury

Deployed to the north of Fontenay le Pesnel and Raury and tasked with their capture the British commander stalled for time choosing to open with a salvo from his reserve artillery unit while he looked for options. The German troops hunkered down in Fontenay weathered this initial barrage without any significant casualties. The German artillery then returned the favour with a surprise volley of its own which inflicted a significant amount of damage on a British tank unit.

Having made his decision, the British commander ordered a frontal assault on Fontenay. Despite taking a number of casualties the Germans held fast and gave no ground. Seeing the pressing need in town, the German command ordered forward an elite tank unit and an elite infantry unit to repulse the British forces before they gained any momentum. Both units inflicted damage on the unit of tanks leading the British assault but were unable to turn the assault.

The British quickly counter-attacked the elite German forces causing heavy casualties and forcing the withdrawal of the German armoured unit. To cover the retreat of the badly damaged tank unit, the elite German infantry, supported by the infantry units still holding Fontenay le Pesnel turned their fire on the British armoured units.

While the German fire managed to cover the retreat of the German tanks, it did little to dissuade the British from their assault. The British began an all out assault on Fontenay decimating one of the German infantry units holding the town and forcing the elite German infantry to join their armoured brethren in retreat. The British assault however failed to make any inroads into Fontenay itself. This left the British forces dangerously exposed on the northern edge of town. The German command took advantage of this exposure calling in a devastating air strike along the British battle line. After the planes were gone, two British tank units had been taken out of the fight and the British infantry had been forced to retreat back to the ridgeline north of the town where they cowered shell-shocked for some time.

With the eastern flank towards Raury being well defended by entrenched German infantry and supporting artillery, the British then turned their attention towards the western flank where relief German forces were moving in to bolster the defence of Fontenay le Pesnel. The British commander began a recon of the flank, moving up one of his armoured units. They spied a unit of infantry and two armoured units moving north to meet them.

The British made a careful probe on the eastern flank with an infantry unit making the dash between wooded cover while another armoured unit moved around the woods to approach the guns on the high ground north of Raury. Meanwhile the Germans sent their tanks into action with the rallying elite unit moving in to support the defence of Fontenay while one of the tank units pushing up the western flank engaged an enemy armoured. The British tanks retreated allowing the German tanks to roll on and successfully assault a British infantry unit.

German and British forces continued to skirmish on the western flank. Both sides were taking casualties but a cunning British ambush on an attacking armoured unit seemed set to turn the tide in favour of the British. However a penetrating attack by a flanking German tank unit managed to destroy the remains of one British infantry unit while forcing a second unit into retreat. While things looked bad for the British on the western flank the Germans were quite extended…

Feeling himself close to defeat, the British commander took a moment to reassess his position and a planned assault on Raury. British armoured units on both the western flank and above Fontenay le Pesnel opened fire from a distance. The punishing barrages saw the destruction of a German tank division on the western flank while the elite tank unit defending Fontenay was also rendered useless. The elite German infantry was also once again forced into retreat. The German forces tried to retake the initiative in the west by continuing to have their lone and extended tank unit attempt to finish off the retreating British forces. The Brits however had found a backbone and refused to yield, taking only minor casualties.

A quick assault by the British tanks on the western flank saw the German forces become separated. The German infantry and tanks all took heavy losses on the western flank with one unit of infantry being wiped out. The German commander tried to inspire his troops to rally but only two infantry units responded causing a minor retreat in the centre and some casualties on the eastern flank.

The British commander finished the battle by ordering a final close assault on the lone and exposed tank unit in the west. The German forces were taken quickly. But while the British commander could take pride in routing the German forces in the area, knowledge that he had failed to achieve his main objectives soured the victory somewhat.

Final Medal Tally
Allies: 5 – No objectives
Axis: 3

Post Battle Thoughts
Danny and I both really enjoyed this start to our campaign. The heavily fortified area around Raury disuaded Danny from making an attack there early in the game and unfortunately for him when he planned to do it later in the game I was too close to victory for him to chance it. Sadly this meant my right flank cards were pretty well wasted.

I was lucky to hold onto Fontenay le Pesnel in the middle as we had both run out of cards in the centre. A final push from Danny and he could have had it. I was happy with the Air Power results and at the time it certainly shifted the momentum to the Germans.

In the end it all hinged on the battle for the western flank. Sadly a well placed ambush and some lousy dice rolling saw me defeated in that area. I’m looking forward to our next battle in two weeks!

Danny wrote the report for part 2.

Also posted on Boardgame Geek.

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