Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hill 1234

It has not been a great start to the week, and mentally I've not been up for much in the evenings. Still, the siren call of virtual shot and shell is tough to resist. Tonight I found myself back in Sicily, near Troina, leading I Company 3/39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division in a assault on the German positions on Hill 1234.

I've been reading this excellent site about infantry tactics of WWII, and I can see how much of what I've been doing in CMFI and CMBN is  not historical. I'm going to try and play this scenario closer to what I'm reading about the actual tactics employed.

Mission briefing.
My mission is to clear the screening forces off of Hill 1234 in preparation for the regiment's attack later today on Hill 1209. In addition to I Company, I also have a platoon of M5 light tanks and a Cavalry section, mostly mounted in jeeps. I also have the company mortar section, the battalion 81mm mortars, and two sections of 105mm howitzers off-map, controlled by a FO.

The approaches to Hill 1234
The battlefield is steep and hilly. There's forest to the northeast, but most of the rest of the hillside is only covered in scrub. The terrain itself provides a lot of masking cover, however. This makes determining spotting and LOS difficult. I'm going to try and take as much advantage of this as possible.

There are four objectives: the north ridge, the north pass, Hill 1234 itself, and some ruins located in the forest. The Germans aren't supposed to have armor but the probably do have mortars and anti-tank guns, as well as some light vehicles.

It's suicidal to try and press up the road. There's no way the Germans don't have the road covered with anti-tank guns and prepared positions. Based on the terrain, I see two approaches. I could move to the valley at the bottom of the hill which is largely masked by the higher terrain and move into the forest, up the hill to the ruins, and on to Hill 1234. From the crest I would have  great LOS on to the remaining two objectives which I could suppress with artillery and tank fire while I assaulted them with infantry.

The other route is to head up the hill using a handy depression to take the north ridge objective, and then move to the other side of the crest to block observation and fire from Hill 1234 and the woods, taking the north pass and eventually Hill 1234 from behind. Cleaning out the ruins can then be done if we have sufficient time and the Germans haven't surrendered.

Beginning the move on the north ridge
I've decided to try the route up the hill to take the north ridge. It's more exposed initially. However, it should let me use my armor more effectively and keep my tanks out of the woods. Once I take the objective, I'll be taking the remaining defenses opposite the direction they're probably naturally oriented.

This is a tentative plan at this point, since I've done no intelligence prep. I will move two platoons up the hill toward the north ridge objective, with a third platoon in reserve protecting my flank. The reserve platoon will be tasked with observing the valley, road, and woods. The other two platoons, accompanied by the company MMG section and backed up by a tank platoon, will advance scouts up the hill but remain in supporting distance of them in traveling overwatch. I'm counting on the scouts to carefully locate enemy positions before I actually commit most of my forces to the final attack.

Infantry platoons scouting up the hill as artillery impacts the objective
Of course, being American I'm going to bombard the daylights out of the objective with my artillery, first. I have a lot of it and a lot of time, so I don't plan on exposing any of my men to any fight with the Germans until I've plastered their positions with indirect fire. Those MG34s and MG42s are far too deadly to risk!

To be continued...