This was an interesting battle to fight. The rules were “Rapid Fire” and the game was fought on a grid of 6cm hexagon tiles with 3mm models. It meant that there were more labels, unit markers and casualty dice than I like to see on the table, but I have to keep a campaign record, so all the markers were needed. The terrain needs a bit more modelling work, but to keep the campaign moving it was usable.
Assault parties from 80th and 107th Battalions of the German 34th Infantry regiment have landed at 06:00 southwest of the town of Little Common. The area is defended by 136th Infantry Battalion, consisting of 9th Company Devonshire Regiment and 4th and 5th Companies, Duke of Cornwall’s Light infantry.
It is now 06:45
1st, 2nd and 3rd companies of the 80th Battalion advanced from the beach towards the minor road between the two river estuaries on the left flank. The assault company (5th) of the 107th Battalion moved towards the leftmost pillbox.
3rd Platoon, 34th Pioneer Company started to tackle the barbed wire defences east of the rail/river crossing while the Pz III and Pz IV tanks crashed through the wire, but were temporarily stopped by the hedgerow bordering the minor coast road.
The second wave barges jostled for position in their approach runs to the beach.
On the British side the 9th Company Devonshires left Little Common and advanced along the minor road towards the beach area. 4th and 5th Companies DCLI remained in their trenches.
At 06:50 the tanks broke through the hedgerows bordering the road just to the east of the western railway crossing. The Pz IV opened fire on the leftmost British bunker with no visible effect.
At 07:00, as the German pioneers of 34th Company crossed the low railway embankment, a machine gun fired from the British pillbox and wounded one of the engineers. At this time, the second wave of German reinforcements began to move towards the beaches in their barges.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd companies began to move forward through the hedgerow bordering the minor road west of the river. The pioneers of 34th Company moved to attack the leftmost pillbox with their flamethrower, while the Pz III bypassed the pillbox and moved north to attack the DCLI in their trenches.
The 5th Company DCLI entrenched on the British right flank, opened fire on the advancing 3rd Company 80th Infantry Battalion. One platoon suffered three wounded and one dead, effectively putting them out of action. The Germans hit the ground and fired back, killing two and wounding one of the DCLI.
At 07:07 the British commander, seeing the German tanks advancing towards the 4th DCLI, detached the AT rifle team to move by the main road to take them on. At the same time the 9th Devons reached the eastern railway crossing and began to move west along the railway track.
The 1st and 2nd Companies of the 80th Battalion continued their move towards the road bridge on the main road. The Battalion HQ moved up to support 3rd Company, who retired to the roadway behind the hedgerow. The 107th Battalion began to move east to confront 9th Devons. While the engineers continued to clear mines and wire from the beaches.
At 07:12 the 3rd Platoon, 34th Pioneer Company managed to use their flamethrower to take out the western pillbox, killing one man and inflicting serious burns on the other two. At the same time the 2nd company 80th Battalion fired on the 5th DCLI, killing two men and wounding two more. The Pz III attacked the 4th DCLI, wounding one man and the 7th Company of 107th Battalion managed to wound one of the 9th Devons. The Devons replied and killed one of the 7th Company, wounding two more.
The 1st and 2nd Companies of the 80th Battalion continued their advance towards the major road bridge, while the 3rd and 4th Companies and the Battalion HQ consolidated on the road between the two rivers. The tanks continued their attack on the trenches of 5th DCLI. The 7th Company, 107th Battalion advanced east along the railway track to confront the 9th Devons.
At 07:19 80th Bn HQ took up a spotting position on the minor road between the two rivers, while the battalion heavy weapons company advanced ahead of them. The 5th Company 107th Battalion continued to move north along the hedgerow to outflank 5th DCLI on its left. The 3rd Platoon, 34th Pioneer company took up a position to attack the western pillbox with its flamethrower. Meanwhile the two tanks continued to advance towards the trenches of the 4th DCLI in the centre.
On the beaches the 34th Regiment HQ, a JadgdPanzer I and two pioneer platoons disembarked.
The 5th DCLI came under fire from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies of the 80th Infantry, suffering one dead and two wounded. The 4th DCLI had two men killed from the mortar fire of 8th Company of the 107th, and three killed and two wounded by the two tanks. The 5th DCLI returned fire, wounding one of the officers of 80th Battaluion HQ, while the newly arrived 9th Devons wreaked devastation on the 7th Company 107th Battalion with their rifles, killing five men and wounding a sixth.
The 1st and 2nd Companies of the German 80th Infantry Battalion continued to move north towards the major road bridge, and the JagdPanzer 1 of 521st AT Company, newly landed, followed them. The 34th Pioneer Company began to deal with the mines on the beach between the two rivers, but suffered three men wounded by mine detonations. The 179th Pioneers continued clearing barbed wire from the beach exit near the railway track. The 5th Company 107th began to move north along the hedgerow to outflank the 5th DCLI while their 8th (heavy weapons) company moved east to take on the 9th Devons.
The 2nd Company, 80th maintained a covering fire against the now enfiladed 5th DCLI in their trenches while the 1st Company continued to move towards the main river bridge. Three more men were hit, and a further two from the supporting fire from 4th Company machine guns in the hedges to the south. 3rd Company , 80th Battalion also continued their fire from the hedgerow, killing another of the 5th DCLI.
The tanks fired on the 4th DCLI in their trenches, wounding two men, while the mortar and machine guns of 8th Company, 107th Battalion accounted for three of the 9th Devons, one killed and two wounded.
At 07:29 the 4th DCLI quit their trenches and beat a hasty retreat to the north. They had suffered five dead and six wounded from their original strength of sixteen. The AT Rifle team continued to move west in an attempt to take on the German panzers. The 5th DCLI, surrounded on two sides, continued to fire, but with no effect, while the 9th Devons, advancing on the southeast front, inflicted three casualties on the 7th Company 107th Battalion.
The 107th Battalion, now severely disrupted by British defensive action, were unable to continue their attack. The 80th Battalion continued to move forwards on the left flank with two companies while the third infantry company and support units maintained fire on the 5th DCLI. The 4th DCLI having been removed from the picture, the tanks now swung southeast to take on the 9th Devons, killing two men and wounding a further two.
The 5th DCLI retreated from their trenches on the right flank, while the Devons, now faced by tanks and heavy infantry weapons, began to withdraw The commander of 136 Battalion ordered a general withdrawal to the northeast, towards Bexhill.